In Defense of the Faith

I’ve blogged far more than I expected to this week – and quite frankly, my head is beginning to hurt – so I’ll (prayerfully) make this my last proactive commentary for the week. I had to chime back in, however, in defense of the faith.

What does that mean? Well, I’m passionate about the cause of Christ. I know who and what I was before He found me (or before I surrendered to His will, rather), and I’m keenly aware of what my life looks like when I’m left to my own devices. My love for Christ and His liberating message of salvation, reconciliation, and restoration is what drives me to blog – especially since I was operating in (and subsequently resigned from) a ministry that has veered of the Kingdom path. Call it my cathartic therapy, if you will.

Anyway, I was doing some research last night and I came across an article from the September/October 2007 edition of “Ministry Today” magazine about the phenomenon of “online heresy hunters” (as they call it). The overall tone of the article (authored by Pastor David Cannistraci) was civil and informative, and the general question posed was whether or not people like me are hunting for anyone who errors in teaching God’s Word – and bullying them online.

Rather than reprinting the entire article and injecting my notes throughout (which was my first thought), I’ve decided to copy some of it, and to direct you to the link so that you can read it in it’s entirety:

“The War on Error: Are online heresy hunters bringing needed correction in the church or sowing disunity?”

Infidels beware: A new generation of crusaders is on the march, ignoring history’s warnings about the damage unrestrained spiritual zeal creates. Their mission? To protect us all from religious fraud and dangerous doctrines by investigating and exposing those who push past the accepted boundaries of conservative evangelicalism. They have pledged themselves to defend truth and liberate the kingdom of God from the threat of apostasy.

From discernment ministries to watchdog groups to bloggers to anonymous Web site commenters, the Internet has created a breeding ground for unbridled criticism. Though truth and correction are essential to the health of the church, this new wave of heresy hunters may be taking things too far. Their targets are not the likes of David Koresh or Jim Jones—we would thank them for that. Instead, they’re aiming at many of today’s most popular charismatic Bible teachers, including Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes.

These zealous soldiers of orthodoxy aren’t afraid to fight dirty, either. Armed with ample evidence to prove their case, they quote, deride and scoff at any ministry they “discern” as dangerous. In this biblical blitzkrieg, no question is too trivial, no accusation too personal and no ridicule too cruel.

Blogs and Web sites are littered with cartoonish caricatures of well-known Christian leaders labeled as “heretics,” “pimps and pimpettes,” “bozos,” “Bible-thugs” and “fairy godmothers of the faith.” Online databanks are loaded with transcripts and video clips of damning evidence: everything from salaries and sailboats to litmus tests on the Trinity and the hypostatic union. There’s no need for dialogue or discussion; one side of the story is adequate ammunition in this fight for the faith.

Have these modern-day knights of the cross truly been sent by God, or has a new era of witch-hunting begun in the church? In the quest for truth and accountability, does anything go? Or is there a way to clean up the messes in the church without lynching good people and inciting division in the body of Christ?

I believe there is. We can be safe and pure if we replace our anger, fear and criticism with honesty, wisdom and humility. (go here to read the entire article)

As you can see, it’s a provocative argument. So much so that I had to seek the Lord last night and search my heart as to why I blog about declaring God’s truth. As I’ve said before, I served in ordained ministry at a mega church for several years (after being a member for a decade). I’ve seen the “underbelly” of a large ministry…

I’ve seen the pastoral neglect.

I’ve seen the “grow at all cost” mentality – directed from the office of the Senior Pastor.

I’ve seen benevolence doled out (or withheld) based on whim vs. biblical mandate.

I’ve seen money “redirected” from areas of need to areas of want (fancier adornments in the new building instead of bibles for children’s church).

I’ve been in meetings were members were referred to (and seen as) “giving units”

I’ve seen where membership growth was measured by attendance instead of the fruit of the Spirit

…and I “fell in line” because my flesh was impressed by the oratory skills of my former pastor, the charismatic “move of God” that took place every week, the parade of big name Bishops, Prophets, & Prophetess’ that came and went – and I wanted to be a part of it.

I was doing what I had to do in order to keep being elevated in ministry – until I had my Damascus road moment. One Saturday afternoon, God spoke into my spirit about the Apostle Paul (I’m not trying to be super religious or “spiritual”, but it really happened). He reminded me to go and look at the book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles – and see how true ministry was conducted on His behalf.

It was then that the scales fell from my own eyes – and I saw how far off base we were. Paul is considered (arguably) on of the driving forces behind the growth of the New Testament church. Not because he wore fancy clothing, spoke with perfect diction, captivated crowds with his mastery of scripture, or sought to advance his agenda.

No, Paul simply chased after That which had hold of him (Philippians 3:8-14). Even with his credentials, Paul wasn’t satisfied that he had found Christ – he wanted the world to know Christ as well. I shared this revelation with my former leadership, and I was asked to “reign it in”.

I was bound by false teachers (pimps) and their twisted non-contextual “gospel” message, and now that I am free I can’t just sit by, pray for others, and keep moving along my way. Sure, my commentary can be biting at times. I can be a little irritated and my writings may reflect that. I can be unflinchingly direct when God’s Word is blatantly misrepresented. I don’t mean to offend, I really don’t, but everyone can’t handle truth.

I blog anonymously because I don’t want to distract you from my message – and my mission. As passionately as I am above revealing God’s truth, there are those who are just as passionate about keeping their game going. Like any good pimp, they want to protect their revenue stream – and they’ll do whatever they need to do to keep the sheep “in line”.

As a side note, there are some who take exception to the term “pulpit pimp” and say that it’s a racist term that’s generally hurled at black ministers. Well, I’m a black man from “the big city”. I’ve seen pimps up close – on the street and in the pulpit. While I was submitted to black pulpit pimps, there are many “others” who occupy the role as well – namely Paula White, Pal & Jan Crouch, Kenneth Copeland, Mark Hanby, Bishop Don Mears, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and many more.

Anyway, the bottom line is this: If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then it is your duty to defend the faith. Not by coercion, intimidation, childish taunts and name calling (I’m aware that this happens on other “Christian” blogs). The mission is simply to expose the false teachers that we are warned about throughout God’s Word (for example, 2 Peter 2), and hopefully save someone from the heartache and disappointment that we’ve experienced when falsely chasing after men.

I’m well aware that we’re all human and that we make mistakes. As I’ve said before, I truly understand that – and I can forgive unintentional error or misdirection. I cannot sit quietly, however, when there is calculated, willful intent to deceive and take advantage of God’s people.

At the end of the day, the decision is yours. My God-given mandate is simply to speak His truth…

5 Responses to “In Defense of the Faith”

  1. 1 Kwesi February 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Speaker, I like you have been in the role. I was ordained young and should I have stayed on track I could do big things for… myself. That is exactly the problem. It’s not just a matter of mistakes. Many of these decisions are made deliberately to deceive the people of God and are done with the dollar in mind. Next week I’ll follow up with a post on “the church sale” it simply never ends.

    At the place where I served I looked around and realized that we simply did nothing for the community! We were just there. Money was being raised effortlessly but the needs of the people were not being met. This is not a judgment on anyone other than myself. I couldn’t do it, I know what I saw. I know what I’ve heard. I know the hurt and the pain that I endured.

    You can not point out error without having people point back at you. Hopefully, I have removed the beam and am found beyond reproach. Point is, truth remains truth even if we are silent.

    At stake here is not bullying anyone. It’s more like whistle blowing! It’s not popular and it won’t make you millions and get you a private plane to use for private purposes but maybe it will help to advance the kingdom of God.

    One more thing, when preachers stop demanding money from people for everything, when clergy stops selling the gospel, when leaders stop abusing “their” followers, then maybe we can stop, speaking, blogging, speaking truth. Until then post away my brothers and sisters, post away!

  2. 2 Speaking Truth February 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Nuff said, my brother. I pray your continued strength in the Lord to do what you do as well…

  3. 3 katrice0321 March 5, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I’m glad you brought this up. The church does seem to be polarized on the issue of truth. The fact that people are waking up and daring to challenge the status quo based on truth is definitely stirring up trouble. However, some trouble is going to get stirred up when light meets darkness. Refer to Jesus’ turning over of the money changers’ tables. He didn’t do it quietly or gingerly. He made a scene.

    I know that people who are open to truth are being ostracized, but Jesus predicted that we would be. It’s still worth it to be bold about it.

    I would only encourage and caution us to always be sure that our motives remain on point. Be careful to always seek God first and avoid becoming passionately wrong. Else we’re no better, just on the other side of the fence. Always speak the truth in love. And remember that it’s the word itself that cuts sharper than a 2-edged sword. Not us. We’re just the messengers.

  4. 4 gcmwatch March 5, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    This is an excellent counterpoint to the article. I dont feel obliged to refute it as I have done so several times before (with the BIG PICTURE in mind).

    The writer is being somewhat hypocritical by labeling everyone “heresy hunters” and falsely (intentional?) stating that our goal is fight against those who step past the “accepted boundaries of conservative evangelicalism”.

    “Conservative Evangelicalism” is much different from the word of God, its standards and God holiness. Or better put the faith once delivered to the saints.

    It seems the writer was a little miffed a being labeled a heretic by someone. He didnt say who, but instead of writing and article —and putting it in worldwide media— he should have just confronted the individuals.

    Thats why his article lacks credibility. He engages in the same things he emphatically declares are bringing division to the church.

  5. 5 Speaking Truth March 6, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    @ katrice0321 –

    I agree, we have to always seek God first before doing anything. This ensures that we’re being led of the Spirit and not of ourselves. And yes, I’m trying to get better at speaking the truth in love 🙂

    @ gcmwatch –

    Thanks for responding Pastor Foster. You’re right, such a passionate plea must be hiding some pain. Come back again…

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