“Jesus MUST be central in the Church…”

eric mason

One of the common misconceptions about us Reformed Christians is that we abhor passionate preaching (and that expository preaching has to be “boring”). I tried to debunk that assertion a few months ago, yet many still don’t equate passionate preaching with Reformed preaching.

Even further, although I’ve written about Blacks in Reformed theology in the past as well, many still can’t fathom a Black preacher who can exposit God’s Word without “huckin’ and buckin’” and begging for money in the process.  

Thank God through Jesus Christ that my brother @RaeWhitlock tweeted about a video that should (hopefully) continue to redefine the stereotypes of Reformed theology – and Blacks in Reformed theology, specifically (as if Voddie Baucham, Anthony Carter, Michael Leach, and many other Black Reformers haven’t already proven the contrary).

The man pictured above is Dr. Eric Mason, Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. “Pastor E” is a prolific bible teacher and pastor. His delivery is in your face and unashamedly biblical. The video below is a succinct walk-through-the bible lesson on Christoncentrism – the belief that Christ is the central theme upon which most doctrine is built. Grab your bible and follow along with the video (oh, and note Pastor E’s indignation at the hirelings of the day starting at the 31:30 mark – a disdain I also share):

OK Philly readers, I’ve just given you another fellowship to go and visit!

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62 Responses to ““Jesus MUST be central in the Church…””


  1. 1 N'Catina October 15, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    LOL! I’ll check out the video now…

  2. 5 Vaughn October 15, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Refreshing just to see & hear someone put it down to this degree, while giving honor & glory to where it belongs that being none other than God.

    Wow putting to shame those that covet status, pats on the back and swipes across the forehead with a hanky. Folks in the majority don’t want to hear a God-centered message, preferring to hear a man-centered message. SMH

  3. 6 yupyup October 16, 2009 at 1:18 am

    got any reformed church suggestions for the detroit/ann arbor area? i’m searchin…

    • 7 speaking truth October 16, 2009 at 9:18 am

      yupyup,

      I’m not personally familiar with any Reformed churches in your area, but I’ve used the church search directory at 9Marks to look for reformed churches in my area. Also, you can visit the church search section of the Reformed Blacks of America website(although I didn’t see Michigan listed).

      Anyone else have any suggestions?

      • 8 yupyup October 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

        thanks!
        i’ll keep looking!

        i enjoyed the above the sermon…thanks for posting. it’s nice to have an alternative. although the whole “kill the false teacher” and “pray for him to die” kinda rubbed me the wrong way. Yhwh uses EVERYONE for his glory, doesn’t HE? Altho these “pulpit pimps” are wrong, they WILL be used by HIM one way or the other… if HE was to do as the preacher above mentioned, so be it. but should we, trying to live like christ, wish that of someone? just wonderin…tryin to get myself right!~

        AWESOME site. i have a lot to learn and your site is plentiful!
        thanks for what you do!

        • 9 speaking truth October 16, 2009 at 3:15 pm

          Glory to God, yupyup. I’m glad He brought you this way. Thanks for jogging my memory because I meant to address the same thing regarding the “kill the false prophets” diatribe. The Word of God is clear as to how He will deal with those who lie in His Name, but it was a bit “over the top” to pray for their deaths. I and others just want them to either repent and follow God, or be drowned out by God’s truth.

          As you mentioned – God is even using the liars as further evidence of His truth and Glory. Going further, I’m not extremely keen on the “holy hip-hop/relevant” posture, and plenty of my readers enjoy or endorse “holy hip-hop”.

          Overall, his message was sound in pointing folks directly to Christ.

  4. 10 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen October 16, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Pastor E is the one of the best preachers I have ever had the privilege of listening to. His delivery is tight, but it’s not shallow – there is solid Biblical truth to be gleaned. Definitely someone to look up to…

  5. 11 Broken Pastor October 16, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Praise GOD for a brother who preaches Christ and His mighty work!

    May God raise up 1,000s more like him! For Christ IS worthy to be so exalted in every tribe and tongue and people and nation!

  6. 12 rascoe1 October 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I enjoyed that. Bless you brother.

    Will you be putting up the continuation of the series?

  7. 14 rascoe1 October 16, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    That extra info is very important. Thanks

  8. 15 cpciv October 16, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I want to correct the above post I found the Christ Central Church in Charlotte, NC on the Reformed Blacks of America site.

    I was looking through the events they have and they have a Yoga Class? Can anybody confirm this?

    Ive learned that yoga is not an exercise adopted by America and changed into an exercise, but actually a Hinduistic worship to their gods..:(

    • 16 speaking truth October 16, 2009 at 5:20 pm

      cpiv,

      I deleted your previous comment rather than approve it since you corrected your reference in the comment I approved. First, I agree that Yoga is not a Christian exercise – and here’s a description I found on the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry website:

      Yoga

      A philosophical as well as physical way of life emphasizing harmony of body, mind, and self-enlightenment. It uses meditation, breathing exercises, and concentration techniques. The philosophy of yoga is based in Eastern Metaphysical beliefs and should be avoided by Christians.

      .

      I’ve heard of “Christian yoga” classes before, but I still question the practice overall. I have also found that the RBA site has some churches with incorrect or outdated URL links, so I certainly want folks to investigate for themselves. I once found an accurate link to lots of Black Reformed churches but I misplaced it so I’ll have to look again.

    • 17 dickkopf October 16, 2009 at 7:01 pm

      Hello, cpciv:

      It is possible to find a yoga class that does not impart any Hindu philosophy. (A little bit of yoga exercise might be good for you.)

      Regards,
      Peter.
      PS: You can actually call ahead and ask the instructor specific questions about their particular teaching style. Good luck!

  9. 18 rascoe1 October 16, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    No offence but why “Black”Reform Church. I love to see black teachers/preachers of the truth, but “black church”. I don’t know, will someone help me.

  10. 19 rascoe1 October 16, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Please let me correct myself, teaching/preaching and walking.

    • 20 speaking truth October 16, 2009 at 8:47 pm

      Completely understood, rascoe1. Race is the least important equation when looking for a church home (the church I am attending is primarily White and as you found out the 9Marks churches in GA are predominately White). I was mentioning RBA specifically because there aren’t lots of Black Reformed followers (by comparison). In the end, I’d gladly sit under a sound teacher no matter their race.

  11. 21 Michael Pharr October 16, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    This was a very good message. I too was a litle thrown back by the kill the fake preachers. IST please continue to shed light on preachers teaching truth. I also like the fact that not once did I hear: seed, good soil, harvest, blessings or favor. I also like when he said, everything we do should point to Christ. Our lives need to be Christ centered, without making it a generic term.

    (I have an off topic question as it pertains to yoga. If a church says that we offer static and power stretching classes, that will help relieve stress and tone your body, and you were doing difficult stretches with out knowing that they were yoga stretches, would anyone object? The reason I bring this up, could this possibly be a “eating meat, sacrificed to idols” issue.)

    -Michael Pharr

    • 22 speaking truth October 17, 2009 at 7:36 am

      Mike Pharr & dickopf,

      NO NO NO! WE MUST PICKET IN FRONT OF EVERY YOGA CLASS WHILE CHANTING “DEATH TO SATAN’S MINIONS”!

      Just kidding guys :-)

      Seriously, I don’t want to be too legalistic regarding yoga and other Eastern culture-based activities (and your “meat vs. idols” argument is a salient one, Mike). I am begining to embrace more natural remedies when I’m under the weather (vs. grabbing Nyquil), so I don’t want to toss out an entire culture. I don’t do yoga, but I do advocate “power streching” and other methods. We must, however, not be ignorant about the activities we participate in.

      • 23 Andrew October 24, 2009 at 12:21 am

        We all have our ministries…mine happens to involve health so hear u go! :)
        I want to speak a little “truth”
        The Word says to “test everything. Cling to the good” 1 Thes 5:21
        Nyquil ain’t one of those good things.
        Consuming synthetically-made sedating antihistamines, hypnotics & alcohol (active ingredients in Nyquil) to get your sleep on isn’t the healthiest move to treat symptoms of a compromised immune system.
        Things the Lord creates- good.
        Things man synthesizes, isolates, and chemically engineers- bad
        Wise exercise (body weight movement, stretching, breathing) as an appreciation to God for the body He’s entrusted us with- good.
        Every considering worshiping a mute Hindu “god”…asinine
        God’s Word has some great things to say on physical health too…don’t miss out on them!

  12. 25 teechmeeifimwrong October 17, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    This pastor is indeed an excellent teacher but behind the scenes, I find a few things problematic. A huge part of this church’s core values when in practice, have managed to turn the membership into a cult like following.

    The members are taught that Adam and Eve are God’s first example of “community”. Marriage is community. The Trinity is community and “community” orbits Christocentrism. The “comprehensive believer” will follow suit in this, they are told. To manifest God’s community the young folks spend an inordinate amount of time gathering together and in the interim, I’ve noticed that many begin drifting away from former friends and family the more they become involved. It’s mostly young folks who attend and subsequently, by the time they are indoctrinated, a lot of parents are no longer viewed in the same way but are now found to have much to be desired. A number of them begin to turn away from them and they call each other “Fam”.

    This pastor says he doesn’t teach it, but by the time many are done being discipled and taking the required “covenant community” classes, these young folks are convinced they need to move into the area to be near the church and live together, as one community, to supposedly best serve the Lord. A very dangerous precedent was some of the married couples who take in single females or males to move in with them. I’m not saying anything has gone amuck in any of these situations, but it’s just not wise. Yet nobody seems to want to use any wisdom concerning it. Young people in their twenties and at any age need to be careful of the situations they are opening themselves up to. And yes, Christians are supposed to fellowship. And yes, folks can move in together. It’s even okay to help someone out in need from time to time. But the recurring thing I’ve witnessed is that at this church, these things have turned out to be taken to the extremes.

    It only leaves me to wonder why this is….

    There’s also a zealous emphasis on the Hip Hop culture to the exclusion of any other culture at this church. The church is located on 17th and Diamond where there’s a culture of drug and alcohol abuse, single parents, grandmothers raising children, high crime and the like. Yet this church believes that Hip Hop is the only thing that is relevant in that area of North Philly.

    Keeping up with the trends of culture is the thing that holds a church together, they are taught, and to neglect the culture is to doom the church for failure.

    This church manages to draw mostly the young from Temple Univ. and surrounding colleges. It’s geared to do so I think, and its doctrine is based from the Acts 29 Church plant philosophy which is founded by, I believe, Mark Driscoll out of Seattle, WA. The culturally relevancy they gravitate toward at Driscolls’ church is “grunge”.

    http://defendingcontending.com/2009/01/17/mark-driscoll-flesh-peddler/

    Driscoll’s church is yet another example of how it looks when things are taught right on the outside, but on the inside there is a real need to stop for moment, get it together and clean it up.

    You are denied joining Epiphany unless you are willing to sign onto being active in a ministry. Everybody must serve in some function of the church. This of course is ideal as we all would love to have our churches where all of the membership is involved. But again, this is not biblical. And I just wonder if its wise to assign people to be responsible for anything who are coming in fresh from outside. No one even knows fully what kinds of issues they may be walking in the door with.

    Some of the leadership has gone as far as to control what outside involvements other members are allowed to partake in.

    I find this questionable.

    You cannot be baptized at this church unless you are proven to have “demonstrated saving faith”. This is unbiblical. The confession of faith in Jesus Christ alone is all it took in the scriptures.

    I’m saddened that on the outside I see so many who are genuinely loving and doing their best to serve the Lord. I guess my question is; why does man always have to mess things up by adding onto the Word with the doctrines of men, which only serve to mess things up in the very end?

    Prayerfully, this church will continue on in sound doctrine behind the scenes as well as from the pulpit. When that day happens, I would gladly go back there to take in the Word again.

    • 26 speaking truth October 17, 2009 at 8:35 pm

      You’ve typed quite a bit of eye-opening information, teechme…. I have never heard of Pastor E prior to finding this video a few days ago – and a cursory search for information regarding the church hasn’t yielded any negative information. I do know that Mark Driscoll is a controversial pastor and I’ve been working on an article taking a closer look at his ministry for the past few months, but I’m not ready to write off Driscoll just yet.

      I will say this – my former pimp could be quite charming as well (until you listened to him hack up the Word of God across the bookboard – and saw him away from the pulpit) so I won’t ignore what you have seen (operative word being “seen” – what you know to be true behind the scenes vs. what you’ve heard).

      Does anyone else have any corraborating information regarding Epiphany’s addinity with “community” and “holy hip hop” (which can be oxymoronic)? I’ll keep looking for more info myself.

    • 27 Job October 22, 2009 at 9:02 am

      teechme:

      1. By associating this pastor with Mark Driscoll just because this pastor embraces hip-hop and Driscoll embraces grunge (which is an entirely different scene) is guilt by association. It is entirely inappropriate and has no place in the discussion, and should not be tolerated. That is extremely harmful to your credibility especially when you have no direct accusations to make against this pastor or his congregation. Vague accusations, guilt by association, unseemly innuendo is gossip at best, slander at worst and makes one question your motivations.

      2. “There’s also a zealous emphasis on the Hip Hop culture to the exclusion of any other culture at this church”

      Right. But do you go to the “high church” Lutherans, Episcopalians, Anglicans etc. with concerns about how their liturgical services are off-putting to people who aren’t upper-middle class, educated and European? Or to a lot of the Reformed Baptist churches who do the same? Or Primitive and Fundamental Baptists who do not believe in instruments? Is your problem with this church is that they make you feel excluded? Do you share these issues which churches who exclude lots of others? Incidentally, a primary reason why minorities and the poor do not attend most Reformed churches is because the liturgy, the services, and the people who attend make them feel uncomfortable because of class, culture, socioeconomic, age etc. barriers. If you are going to fight this battle against this church, go do the same with the churches who aren’t lifting a finger to make the people who attend his church feel comfortable or reach them. Seriously, when was the last time you saw Presbyterians going door to door in the inner city inviting people to come to their church? You are far more likely to see Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and oneness pentecostals.

      3. “The members are taught that Adam and Eve are God’s first example of “community”. Marriage is community. The Trinity is community and “community” orbits Christocentrism. The “comprehensive believer” will follow suit in this, they are told.”

      While I do not necessarily agree with this doctrine, it is nonetheless directly drawn from Wayne Grudem’s systematic theology and is a logical extension of it. Lots of preachers, churches and seminaries of the “new Calvinism” movement rely on Grudem and his contemporaries. So if that is a problem, this church is only the tip of the iceberg.

      “You are denied joining Epiphany unless you are willing to sign onto being active in a ministry. Everybody must serve in some function of the church. This of course is ideal as we all would love to have our churches where all of the membership is involved. But again, this is not biblical.”

      Show me where it is not Biblical. You said it. Give me the texts. Give me the chapter and the verse. And better yet, show me the verse where it says that people are allowed to sit around in church never doing a thing, never serving, never bearing fruit. Are you one of the “let the wheat and the tares grow together” people? If you are, then please read the entire parable: the field is THE WORLD, not the church. Jesus Christ cursed the fig tree that didn’t bear fruit. He stated that branches that didn’t bear fruit would be cut off and thrown into the flame. He stated that goats would be thrown into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Instead of questioning whether it is un-Biblical to require people to serve in a church, we should be questioning whether it is un-Biblical to allow people who do not serve, do not grow etc. to remain in the church. Since you are so quick to accuse this pastor, let me follow after your example. Is it because pastors know that if they start kicking the 97% of the people out of the church who never do anything (this is a statistically proven fact) that he won’t have anybody to pastor and won’t have an income? That allowing these 97% to come and treat the church as if it is some movie theater or convenience store is fine so long as the “attendees” tithe, give offerings etc. that pay the mortgage, light bill and preacher’s salary? Or what about the pastor knows that if he starts removing people from his church who won’t do anything, he will soon find himself in need of another job, and a hard time of finding another one because no church is going to hire a pastor who disciplined the lazy disobedient people in his congregation!

      4. You cannot be baptized at this church unless you are proven to have “demonstrated saving faith”. This is unbiblical. The confession of faith in Jesus Christ alone is all it took in the scriptures.

      Again, show me where it says this. Give me the chapter and verse. Look, have you studied church history? Because if you did, you would know that the church of the 2nd and 3rd century (long before Constantine) would only baptize people on Easter. They required you to go through a VIGOROUS CATECHISM PROCESS before they allowed you to join the church. At the end of the catechism process, you had to demonstrate a commitment to the Bible by learning the confessions and understanding Bible doctrines … the pastor and church leaders would ask you questions – hard ones! And during that time, which again was several months and up to a year, you had to demonstrate a commitment to holy living!

      You may disagree with it, but that was the standard UNTIL Christianity became the Roman state religion, which allowed people who had no interest in Christian belief or life to join the churches because it was the way to get a government job or because it was the way to remain in good graces of high cultured pagan society. So, you had these people who would go to church on Sunday and then go home and be pagans. The church had to change its doctrines and practices to accommodate these people. Even the Reformers, Calvin, Luther, Knox, Zwingli etc. kept this idea going … that the church was to be of all citizens. The Reformers called the Anabaptists, who actually put requirements on people for belief and holy living, fanatics and legalists, and 1200 years prior they called the Donatists the same thing for rejecting state-appointed pastors that they knew were immoral and demanding the right to choose their own pastors.

      teechme, I am not saying that you are 100% wrong or that your objections are totally invalid. Instead, I am saying that based on your words and tactics, I see no evidence that you are any better than the people that you are accusing.

  13. 28 teechmeeifimwrong October 17, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Hi ST. I would in no way write Pastor Mason or the members of Epiphany off either. I do believe they love Christ, but it’s all the other workings around it that I find so worrisome. Things of this nature have a tendency of escalating either toward the better or for the worse and at this point, I am not able to determine if the goings on here are intentional or if they simply don’t realize how any of this is coming off to people on the outside.

    The church of today is so out of control for the most part and perhaps it’s what they have found to do to keep things in order.

    I realize no church is perfect and there’s so much potential here but with all of this other stuff surrounding it, I’d have to say to the unknowing; tread these waters very carefully.

  14. 29 Cpciv October 19, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Its good that people are not deaf to discernment regarding Pastors that we may find are teaching sound doctrine. We must be like Bereans. On another note..I met a lady from the Bahamas whose mentor is Miles Munroe. I saw that he supports Eddie Long, but other than the support that he has for Long do anybody have any other information on Munroe.

    This lady is open to hearing truth from what Ive learned so far from talking to her so…I just asked about who her mentor was and then I cam to this site and typed in Bahamas to see if anybody in the Bahamas is teaching anything crazy (not even thinking I would see her mentor mentioned in the Eddie Long Post).

  15. 30 Lady D October 19, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I’m from the older generation and even though the young man was preaching the Word, I could only listen to the “street” language for so long. But I know that God will use him to minister to the younger generation.
    IST, keep us posted on this young man~

  16. 31 teechmeeifimwrong October 19, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Lady D,
    I could even tolerate the street language. But it’s the controlling attidude, the over excessive mingling, and young people gradually seperating themselves from old acquaintences, and finally, the doctrine gone askew behind the scenes that concerns me most.

    Let us all pray that God purify all of our hearts and our motives in our daily walk in order that we may serve Him for the Glory of His Kingdom as He intends.

  17. 32 teechmeeifimwrong October 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    cpciv,
    Sorry, don’t know much personally about monroe. However, Long literally had me run out of one of his conferences years ago, he had grieved my spirit so badly. When he said Satan wasn’t real, that’ all she wrote. I had to get outta there. He’s a well documented pimp.

  18. 33 Christocentric October 21, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    I wonder what caught my eye on this message? Christocentricism!

    But I tell you, this is the first pastor who’ve heard say that all three of the godhead are Christocentric as well. Gave me plenty of food for thought but Dr. Mason’s use of the word of God was very very good.

    I looked at the church’s website and I truly like their emphasis on discipleship which is getting lost in so many churches. Churches are busying themselves with so much activity that they are forgetting the core values of a christocentric life, if Christ is not at the center, if Christ is not being lifted up then all is in vain!

    Sure he tried using hip hop words such as Jesus is fly (even my kids would cringe at that one) and more, but that can be forgiven. He is very intelligent and his heart to disciple the young is what’s most important about his message.

    As far as the things that teechme were speaking of, I have no knowledge of and would be very interested in knowing more about this church and its community activities. The young people that are mentioned are these young adults or minors? I don’t see anything with young adults wanting to be closer to the church that they are being discipled by. But one must be careful that they aren’t worshiping the pastor instead of Christ.

    Not being able to be baptized until evidence of saving faith I agree is completely unbiblical as is having people to be involved in ministry before joining the church is very unwise. There has to be milk fed to the babies before expecting them to even know HOW to serve in ministry. So those things are troublesome.

    But who knows a perfect church? Just by listening to that sermon reminded me of things troubling of my own. I’m trying to formulate words to be able to share with my pastor on some things of our church.

    Overall, a pretty good message though. Jesus MUST be central in the church as well as in one’s life!

  19. 34 teechmeeifimwrong October 22, 2009 at 12:50 am

    Christo, like you, I’m all for seeing young people who are sincerely loving Christ. I don’t argue the Word taught there is good. What I don’t like is the CULTISH behavior, communal type living and the obvious targeting of the young, who just so happen to be more impressionable and easier to manipulate. By the way, a HUGE PART of this church’s discipling of the youth, who are mostly college aged, soon begin to have aspirations of moving into the area and “DOING LIFE TOGETHER”, as they are taught throughout the discipleship. The early church of Acts 2:44-46 is the drumbeat for all of this and is one of the churchs’ corest of values. Hence, they are together a good deal of the time and begin to draw away from their own families.

  20. 35 truthofgod October 22, 2009 at 9:49 am

    I will certainly check this out when i get a chance. BTW, do you have any suggestions to these sort of churches in the Baltimore/Central Maryland region?

    peace

    • 36 speaking truth October 22, 2009 at 2:24 pm

      truthofgod,

      Epiphany is part of the Acts29 church network, so you’ll have to google them to learn more about churches in your area connected to the group. I’m researching the A29 network and don’t have any information to endorse/refute them at this time, so check them out. Also – you can check the 9Marks link under “Christian Links” on the right-side menu of this blog. They have a search feature that can point you to other reformed churches in your area. Finally, Eric Redmond (a man I GREATLY admire) started a new reformed church in the Temple Hills, MD area called Reformation Alive Baptist Church.

      May the Lord guide you during your search…

      • 37 Irwyn October 29, 2009 at 11:07 am

        truthofgod,

        I serve as pastor of City of Hope Church, a multi-ethnic reformed church in Columbia, MD. Eric Redmond and I are friends and fellowship on a regular basis. So, I can (and have) definitely recommend Ref. Alive to folks in Temple Hills and the surrounding area. If you’re well north of Temple Hills, feel free to worship with City of Hope at any time.

        In Christ,
        Irwyn

  21. 40 Christocentric October 22, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Teechme, I really do like the imitation of the model in Acts 2:44-46. Again, the point of concern with this group is if the young people are doing as the Berean Christians did in Acts 17:11, searching to make sure that what their pastor teaches is true or not, and challenging him when it isn’t.

    So, hopefully the young people are doing just that and if not…oh boy!

  22. 41 Broken Pastor Jim October 22, 2009 at 11:06 am

    One aspect of this concern about Pastor Mason that has not been addressed is the church government and accountability. I’m going to go on for a while, so get another cup of coffee.

    Many of the concerns brought up by teechme and Job and others on this post can be addressed by and answered by good pastoral peer-level accountability.

    1. God ordains church authority (all authority in fact).

    Church government is the engine that runs a church. Check under the hood!

    The vast majority of the posts and comments on this blog have been leveled at so-called pastors who have NO peer-level accountability because they are the sole authority in their church. They are self-authorized or granted ‘authority’ by a false teacher. It is appropriate to sound the alarm and criticize the false teaching of such pastors.

    One of the roots of the WOF problem is unbiblical church government.

    So in reference to Pastor Mason, is he in the same situation? Or is he a pastor under the authority and accountability of a biblically sound ecclesiastical body?

    A personal illustration. I wanted to plant a church after going to seminary. I had been on staff at a biblically sound but independent church (yes there are a some, it is possible, but rare). If I planted a church associated with this independent church, I would be independent and only accountable to the level that I desired to be accountable.

    I didn’t trust my sin-sick heart to lead an independent church.

    So I sought and found a denomination that has high accountability for pastors, actual functional grace-driven church discipline along with a proven track record of missional church planting efforts. They also have a growing concern for reaching diverse people groups. Anyway, it’s a good fit.

    All that to say, is Pastor Mason under accountability (not a vague ‘blessing’ like many WOF leaders put forward)? Who holds his credentials? To whom is he accountable?

    Are godly men supervising him with actual biblical authority to correct the problems you may see and comment on?

    Here is a hard fact. Those of us who look on from a distance or sit in the pews of a church can never exercise authority over any pastor. Properly done, biblical authority comes from God, to an eccesiastical body, to a pastor. The church members and attenders are called by God to submit to authority (Romans 13:1) even if authority is a Roman empire or a pastor you don’t particularly care for – even who who is ‘pimping the sheeple’ as ST is so apt to say.

    All a blog or an article can do is sound an alarm.
    Actual church authorities have to do the accountability.
    So ends my lesson on the VITAL importance of church government!

    2. Specifically about Pastor Mason and his church.

    I do not know him personally, but I know his authorities at Acts 29 and the accountability his assistant pastor has through the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). These are biblically sound Reformed bodies with strong accountability. (And no, Acts 29 is not a pet project controlled by Driscoll.) I also know he and his pastoral staff are part of a godly network of church-planters in Philly. I know and respect the men who have authority over this church. So I defer to them to keep Pastor Mason in line with the Gospel.

    So my reaction to one sermon may cause me to gulp a little. But I checked under the hood and I see what this church is running on. And I base my support for Pastor Mason on his association with and submission to a group of godly men who are right there in Philly. Men who look him in the eyes and hold him to the full counsel of Scripture. I do not think Pastor Mason could get away with much for very long before his accountability would kick in.

    So part of searching for good church, N’Catina, yupyup and cpciv, is to check out whether the church government above the church is trustworthy too.

    Do a lot more than just check out a sermon or four. Check under the hood of the church and see what kind of accountability engine its running on. It’ll make you a better church person and ultimately hold independent churches to a higher level of accountability.

    Maybe if all the biblically oriented folk start joining in with churches that have biblical authority and biblical discipline and practice in addition to biblical doctrine in its sermons, all these wolves will have no one left to deceive?

    I love this blog and its commentary. I learn a lot from you all and ST.

    • 42 speaking truth October 22, 2009 at 2:13 pm

      Pastor Jim,

      I can empathize with teechme’s overall concern because I came from what I considered to be (and what could technically be defined as) a cult – and I know what it’s like to feel condemned for speaking out and having your warnings fall on deaf ears. I have also seen pastors (up close) who are accountable to no one – and allowed to run roughshod over the congregation as they see fit.

      That said, I also took accountability for my part in my deception – and I am still learning to be a TRUE Berean. THe bottom line (as you and Job stated) is that we have to “look under the hood”, square the leaders words and actions up against the Word of God, call them on it (and appeal to their accountability structure), and go from there. Someone stated earlier that there is no perfect church – and if it were we’d stink it up upon arrival with our sin-sick flesh anyway.

      Every believer has the responsibility of managing their diligent study – and their relationship with the local assembly of believers.

    • 44 Michael T October 22, 2009 at 7:50 pm

      This is directed primarily towards Pastor Jim. I am reading a book by Jeff Iorg called “The Character of Leadership”. Early in the book he states that a Pastor must accountable to another group within the church. He even states that if there is no such group present, it is the Pastor’s job to form the group, train the group, and then submit to it! He describes it as an awkward position to be in; yet routine supervision is better than crisis supervision that has to be “thrown” together when an incident occurs. Hope this adds to what is already a great discussion.

      • 45 eaves_droppin March 20, 2010 at 10:17 pm

        “routine supervision is better than crisis supervision that has to be “thrown” together when an incident occurs. Hope this adds to what is already a great discussion.”

        wow, you have NO idea how on point that statement has proven to be …

  23. 46 teechmeeifimwrong October 23, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Job: Thank you for your earnest response. You remind me very much of the believers of Epiphany, who many, I have no doubt, desire to serve the Lord out of their love for Christ. This includs Pastor Mason, so please do not forget that I have said this.

    If you can remember the Bereans Job, who dared to challenge the teachings of Paul, than surely you can understand why I must examine the goings on at Epiphany. Therefore, I’ve stopped to search the scriptures to see if what Pastor Mason is saying is in the Word. And no one is above the scrutiny of the Word, not Pastor Mason, not the Apostle Paul and of course, not even you or me.

    Acts 17:11 “The Bereans…examined the scriptures everyday to see if what Paul said was true.”

    I hope we will both go to them together and find what’s right in all of this.

    1. Driscoll and Mason are linked through the Acts 29 Church Plant and the Covenant Community Discipling, according to a member of Epiphany. If this information is in error,then I stand to be corrected. Mentioning Driscoll in this post was not to make Mason “guilty” of anything, but to simply point out that there is a method at work that is having the same effect… to draw the youth specifically with a supposedly “cool” culture as the hook to bring them in.

    No where in the bible did the Savior do this.

    2. I also know hip hop and grunge are not the same thing, the question here is not which culture has a preference for this or that, but whether the extreme exhaultation and constant harping on any aspect of ANY culture is biblical. At

    Epiphany, they will use 1st Cor. 9:19-22 to justify the relevancy of culture. But did Paul stay a Jew and focus on Jews exclusively? Or did he, “…become all things to all men…”

    In the end, Christ is not impressed at all with anybody’s “coolness” or their cultural “relevancy” and I cannot find one scripture that teaches me a culture is to constantly be lifted up. There are many cultures of the world and each church will naturally contain it as its parts, but we shouldn’t
    go overboard in exalting it to the extent that it becomes an idol.

    3. Adam and Eve are “community”.

    Job, I’ve sat in the balcony during a few of Mason’s sermons.

    During a church visit, there was one where Mason said:

    “…although we are to pray without ceasing there is a sense in which we must have structured and unstructured time of getting it in with God. But as powerful, and as dope, and as sweet as many of our times are in the Word of God, and as powerful and as sweet as many of our times are in prayer, that is still not enough to make us a COMPREHENSIVE BELIEVER….” Community orbits Christocentrism, he says.

    During his power point presentation, Mason displayed a big circle to give an emphasis. Around it was written family, personal life, job., etc. He then marked through all of the above with a gigantic “X” and filled in the words “gathering”, “gathering”, “gathering”, all around it.

    What I got from this sermon was to make it clear that coming together with the people of this church in community will keep me as COMPREHENSIVE BELIEVER. (check the church’s archive sermon: CYPHA GROUPS 8/17/08)

    The bible speaks of no such “comprehensive believer”.

    If I have LOVE and walk in the SPIRIT, then I do well.

    When you mark an “X” through family and personal life, and you preach that marriage is a commuity, and you harp on gathering to the extent that it’s as good as, and as equal to prayer and devotion with the Lord, it’s when I begin to have a problem. He teaches there is not really a “personal relationship” with God, or rather, it’s a curse and blessing to say so. I found that statement alarming, since I WILL stand ALONE and give a PERSONAL account when I stand before the Lord one day. To stand before young impressionable people and draw and “X” through family and personal life, and tell them a marriage is not a marriage, but a type of community, is a subtle bluring of each role in the life of the believer and then it’s no wonder that suddenly, Epiphany becomes the epi center of everything.

    3a. “show me the verse where it says people are allowed to sit around in church not doing a thing”.

    Job, the better question is: who gets to decide what work or what ministry a believer has to do? Do you honestly think that everybody walking in the door is ready for the responsibilty?

    1st Tim 5:22 “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands…”

    Christ did not make it LAW to take on a task in the local church, however, he did COMMAND that we all must be baptized and preach the gospel.

    And is it my pastor or my church who directs me where and how I should be serving? Or is it the Holy Spirit?

    Job, don’t you think God is capable of showing me in the way that I should follow him, be it in the local church, or serving in whatsoever capacity that the Lord sees fit?

    Is joining a ministry the way to prove we have good fruits?

    Again, my issue is making it LAW when Christ did not.

    I doubt if I’ll find any scripure to prove that no soul is required to do a work in the vineyard. And I actually never said that. But I also cannot find anywhere in the bible where the disciples said we must or we cannot be a part of a fellowhsip. Can you?

    Christ took everyone in based on their confession of faith in Him.

    4. “you cannot be baptised in the church…”, “show me where it says this.”

    Job, I’m not sure if you meant where does Epiphany say it, or where the bible contradicts it, so I’ll give you both.

    Epiphany’s Covenant Commnity Manual Page 35 says one cannot be baptized unless they “demonstrate saving faith”.

    Job, you have said Epiphany follows an early church model in regards to the baptism. However, this is how they did it in the BIBLE:

    “Then those who glady received his word were baptised; and THAT DAY (emphasis mine) about three thousand souls were added unto them.” Acts 2:41

    And

    “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word….Can anyone forbid water,… that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit… And they commanded them to be baptized.” Acts 10:44-48

    And

    “Then Phillip opened his mouth and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus..and the eunuch said…what hinders me from being baptized?…Then Phillip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, you may…and he baptized him.” Acts 35-38.

    and

    “And the keeper of the prison…fell down trembling before Paul and Silas …and said…what must I do to be saved? So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household…and he took them the SAME HOUR (emphasis mine) of the night..and immediately he and all his family were baptized.” Acts 16:27-33.

    So here we have two things:

    Church history with its VIGOUROUS CATECHISM

    versus the BIBLE,

    where the disciples baptized on the sole confession of faith in Jesus Christ alone.

    It is always best to follow biblical examples and not to get caught up in the traditions and doctrines of men, as men will surely trip you up on every turn.

    So there we have it Job. I have no hidden agenda and no tactics, just the Bible, and PERSONAL observation and a little bit of research.

    Please let me know if there is anything more I can share with you. In the end I hope it will draw us each toward a closer walk in serving Christ.

  24. 47 shantay jones October 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Teechme,

    I’m in agreement with you on this one. Although I don’t have the personal insight like you, my spirit wouldn’t allow me to go any further with this video. I wasn’t born in church nor raised in church if you will, but I have such a disdain for the “church” looking like the world. Let me tell you what I saw and heard in the Spirit while listening. The so-called “holy hip hoppers” who reside in Philly. I want to say one of their name is TheTruth? Correct me if I’m wrong? The stark comparison to MD, dead on, the difference, the audience.

    Yes,like many, I’m starving for the TRUTH in the church, but I will not and can not agree just because there’s some truth to the message. The Bible says, “buy the truth and sell it not, also wisdom, instruction, and understanding,” Proverbs 23:23.

    Generally speaking, when you hear a church advocate “cuturally revelant,” they are speaking of the watering down of the word, the compromising of the word to reach their intended audience. As a church, we mix everythng with the Word, save the Holy Spirit and discernment. Watch and pray, the truth shall be reveale

  25. 48 teechmeeifimwrong October 23, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Shantay,

    There’s a rumbling in my spirit when I watch it as well. It was the same when I was there personally, even though initially, I saw nothing wrong. I even pressed beyond that and was considering joining for a minute, however, after prayer and looking deeper, this is just a portion of what I found.

  26. 49 teechmeeifimwrong October 23, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    oh yeah Shantay, it’s Da Truth.

  27. 50 shantay jones October 23, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Teechme,

    Thank you for the prompt feedback and the correction.

  28. 51 Broken Pastor Jim October 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Michael T
    I totally agree about pastoral accountability in the church. In many churches like mine, the elders and staff are accountablit to one another. I’m accountable to them and even another group of elders-in-training for mutual accountability.

    The term elder or deacon or board member can mean lots of different things. In getting to know a church here are a couple of good questions to ask to find out if the pastor truly has accountability:

    - Do the elders or board members have an equal vote with the pastor? Or are they advisors?
    - Who has the final say in matters of church discipline? Is it shared authority (elder-led or presbyterian) or singularly placed on one person (bishop-led) or by vote of the congregation (congregational led).

    It can only be one of those three options. If you get the run around, it’s probably a bishop who doesn’t want folk to know he has the only vote.

  29. 52 Michael Thompson October 24, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    We don’t have elders in my church. But we do have Trustees that are actually responsible for taking care of the financial responsibilities of the church. The Pastor has a LOT of authority; but he always makes sure that the Trustees are aware of what he wants to do. During our Trustee meetings, the Pastor outlines his vision for the body and then they jointly present that to the church body. That way, eveyone is in the loop to a degree. We did have a former Pastor that wanted to rule with an iron fist. But he was shut down time and time again by the Trustee Board. Our current situation between the Pastor and the Trustee board is one of respect, but definate accountability.

    As far as discipline, trustees do have the “earthly” authority to fire the Pastor if they can get the church body to vote him out. But the first and final authority belongs to God (even if they don’t want to admit it :).

  30. 53 Michael Pharr October 26, 2009 at 8:24 am

    IST & everyone,

    Once again the message was good, while I didn’t care much for the slang (I’m a GenXer, so I grew up talking like that), but even though I don’t really agree with it, I understand Pastor Mason’s congregation is used to that. Unfortunately many are taking a knee jerk reaction to a few words rather than the message that’s delivered. Please remember every church is different, people are different and are drawn to different forms of worship. Some churches are more charismatic while others are laid back, are either wrong. Personally I’m a fan of Gospel Rap, Christian Rap, Holy Hip-Hop or whatever you’d like to call it. The guys I listen to are mostly from Cross Movement and Reach Records. I’m sure there are good Christian rappers out there, just like there are some phony ones. Same goes for our favorite gospel artist, preachers and churches. Can it be possible that God has allowed Pastor Mason to reach a certain demographic (for lack of a better term) that others may not be able to reach. Is accountability paramount and should his words and the words of other preachers be examines….YOU BETCHA! But let’s not make our likes and dislikes the standard, but the Word of God. And to be honest there are a lot of well dressed, pants up on their waste, proper english speaking hucksters destroying the body of Christ. Now it’s my personal opinion that after a while you should leave the slang along, pull your pants up, take the earrings out (I used to have one in each ear), but if someone isn’t there yet, I’ll leave that to God to correct the inconsequential and be honest to tell them the essential.

    Thank,
    Michael Pharr

  31. 54 teechmeeifimwrong October 27, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    definitely OT. Our favorite bishop gets hitched…again…
    http://www.eurweb.com/story/eur56901.cfm

  32. 55 ready4change October 28, 2009 at 9:33 am

    All,

    I have been following this conversation for a while, and I must say that it is fruitful as well as educating. I was at first not going to give my two cents, but after some encouragement from a friend and brother that it may be edifying, I will humbly submit it.

    First of all, I have never visited the church, but that has only been because I have not had time to plan a trip up there due to a rigourous work schedule. I mention that for the sole purpose of saying that I have a very close friend who regularly visits and is intimately involved with parishioners of that congregation, and my son and I will probably accompany he and his son when we go.

    Let me start by saying that I am excited about Ephiphany’s ministry and the passionate, Christ centered manner in which they approach evangelism as well as membership community. As you know, the demographic that is prevalent in the area is predominately college age young adults, which explains the vibrant energy, zeal and enthusiasm that is shared and felt in many of the services and gatherings. I am looking forward to worshipping and communing with these believers as we honor Christ the King, to the praise of the Father’s glory by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Even though I do hold these sentiments about the church, it would be remiss of me not to approach this from a balanced perspective. I think that teechme and Pastor Jim are spot on with respect to their discernment on this issue. Some enocouraging things about Epiphany are the fact that it is a doctrinally sound church. When truth abides concerning the core doctrines of the faith, then problems we have on secondary issues can be discussed with liberty and confidence. Also, Epiphany is one of the few biblically based churches that exhibit the God given gifts and abilities of African Americans in the body of Christ. This is only important because of the widespread interest among Blacks concerning reformed theology and gospel truth. It is probably not as important to those of us who have valued the sufficiency of scripture over cultural identity, but it may be extremely encouraging and uplifiting to those who need to see folks that look like them and are grounded in God’s word.

    Now, having said all this, in all humility I believe that there are some concerns and dangers with so many young people present. Again, I do not know what the maturity level is there spiritually, nor am I familiar with the ebb and flow of communication between the leaders and lay members. I would hope that many of these youth are grounded in faith and the scriptures, which brings wisdom (2 Timothy 3:15). Many times though, this wisdom comes from the older generation (1 Kings 12, 1 Timothy 5:1-3, Titus 2). My friend has stated to me that there are some problems ensuing at the church, and I suspect that one of the reasons may be the lacking presence of those seasoned in the faith, who are able to look past the smokescreens of excitement, zeal and fervor and infuse the context with wisdom from experience and deep, biblical roots. Cultural relevance aside, I believe the Holy Spirit would compel us to view friendships, fellowship, relationships and community with an ultimate goal of glorifying God and being satisfied in Him alone. That being said, we have to guard against viewing a sense of “community” above real unity in truth, and pray for discernment that we may be able to place all of our associations under the microscope of God’s word. Constantly dealing with our propensities to be carnal at times, there is a natural tendency to trust in the believers who surround us more than trusting in the One we believe in. This could be yet another form of worshipping the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1). Through all of this, and when analyzing and reflecting upon the foundation of any church, it is important to remember the words of the Psalmist, in book 127:

    “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” (Psalm 127:1, KJV)

    The apostle Paul, although only periphially speaking of the local body, further gives us guidance on the necessity of building correctly in 1 Corinthians 3:9-11. Speaking of Corinthians, I know that many of you are familiar with the Corinthian church and it’s abounding giftedness. The issue with churches that are extremely gifted (Epiphany is only one among many) is that they tend to rely more on the gifts than the Giver, and this was Paul’s admonishment to the church at Corinth. I won’t go in depth, but you’ll notice that he was always challenging their motive and he placed a huge emphasis on how God loves to work primarily with those who do not normally fit the bill when it comes to man’s wisdom, ability, skill, prowess, heritage, lineage or creed, and that the Spirit did not even reveal true wisdom to those who already thought they had it (1 Corinthians 1, 2 and 3). Please keep the members and leaders at Epiphany in much prayer, and let us always consider ourselves when dealing with these issues.

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    R4C

  33. 56 teechmeeifimwrong October 28, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Hi SoliDeoGloria! This is in response to your post: “As you know, the demographic that is prevalent in the area is predominately college age young adults, which explains the vibrant energy, zeal and enthusiasm that is shared and felt in many of the services and gatherings.”

    Again, It’s true that Temple U is there, but that demographic is far from being predominately young college aged students. It’s 17th and Diamond and it’s smack in the hood N. Philly where you will regualary see blatant alcoholism, hopelessness, drug abusers, single parent mothers and grandmothers who are struggling to make it everyday. And it had been my hope that this church would truly strive to be “made all things to all men, that they might by all means, save some of these.” like they say they are. And I truly pray they will install a baptismal pool BEFORE the cafe and recording studio is planned.

  34. 57 ready4change October 28, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    teechme,

    Thanks for the correction. Perhaps “demographic” was the wrong choice of words. I really wanted to place the emphasis on the young culture within the fellowship, but I realize now that the area contains a more diverse group of people.

    BTW – SoliDeoGloria is simply a parting phrase that I use from time to time when finishing a comment. I normally use one of the 5 solas…You can simply refer to me as R4C. Much less typing…(smile)…

    Sola Gratia,

    R4C

  35. 58 teechmeeifimwrong October 28, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Hey…no prob ready4change. And as always, thanks for your comments and let’s continue to keep Epiphany in our prayers.

    • 59 eaves_droppin March 20, 2010 at 11:17 pm

      stumbled across this site… much of what has transpired in these comments are inaccurate and seem to be spurred on by a disgruntled parent who (imho) has probably lost influence in their college age son/daughter (i’m referring to teechmeifimwrong, who btw, doesn’t seem to be very teachable when proven wrong) and is feelin salty about it.

      To the host of this site, u need to realize that you’re responsible for perpetuating slander against god’s redeemed, a legitimate body purchased with his own blood, sinners in whom he now delights in because his wrath for them was absorbed by his Son on the cross, and whom he will perfect and present to his son one day, holy and blameless as his bride, alongside yourself and every other undeserving sinner whom he died for.

      Im a member at epiphany, been with them since just a few months after they publicly launched… all i have to say is that charges have been tossed left and right around here that are from a very uninformed and bias perspective… you should really be more careful in monitoring these comments.

      If u wanna know something about epiph, speculation aint the way to go about things… get on the phone, call someone, the church’s number is right on the website, drop an email…
      hit me up if u like… (daverit40@gmail.com). But all this other talk is just plain reckless… to the shame of everyone who has contributed in such a way.

      • 60 speaking truth March 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm

        eaves_droppin,

        As the host/author of this blog, I’d like to ask you to please point me to any statements from me that slander against Epiphany or Pastor Mason? Further, I have reached out to Paster Mason concerning these allegations and he refuted the claims made by teachme…. As I said earlier, I’m not here to protect or defend anyone or anything except the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Word.

        If you’re directing your ire against “naysayers” I would hope you don’t lump me into the group as most of the comments here have been in support of Epiphany.

      • 61 speaking truth March 21, 2010 at 7:30 pm

        As a side note eaves_droppinf, I do moderate comments here – not to edit in favor or against opinion but just to keep inappropriate comments from the site. I’m not here operating as a cyber “hall monitor” to protect the feelings of people – I’m more interested in the defense of the Gospel.

  36. 62 teechmee March 31, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    To Eaves_droppin. I’m not salty, grasshopper, this is my own personal testimony. Amd you don’t have to believe me, just go back and read your manuals and then look around you. If you’re truthful to yourself you’ll have to admit that all of the young people there are being encouraged to “Do Life Together” and it’s to the point where everybody is in each other’s faces practically twenty four seven. This is cult behavior, plain and simple. Therefore, it is not about what Mason confesses or denies, but it’s what he DOES. That is what I’m talking about. Again, like I had said previously, there is much more, but I will not post or even go there.


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