e-Newsletter

Volume Thirteen, Issue Six
3/8/05



Volume 13, Issue 6
"DECEPTION IN THE CHURCH" e-Newsletter
3/8/05

Dear All,

Greetings from the islands of the Pacific in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!


FEATURE ARTICLE

The feature article in this edition is The Fad-Driven Church by Todd Wilken, The Plumbline, Volume 10, No. 1, February/March 2005.  Welcome to the Fad-Driven church. At first this might not sound like a problem.  Some Christians can remember when the Church didn't jump from bandwagon to bandwagon every year or two. But for others, this is all they have ever known. For them, it is hard to imagine what the Church would be like without the constant ebb and flow of church fads. For them, the long list of church fads represents their personal history as a Christian: Spiritual Gift inventories, Spiritual Warfare, "Promise Keepers", "Weigh Down Workshop", "The Prayer of Jabez"; the "Left Behind" Series, "Becoming a Contagious Christian", a long succession of evangelism and stewardship programs, and most recently, "The Purpose-Driven Life" and "40 Days of Purpose". There are many Christians for whom this list (give or take one or two) is Christianity. Some church fads come and go, some come and stay. A few are genuinely harmless; most contain serious theological error. All are popular - while they last. In the fad-driven church, "exaggerated zeal” has replaced "the faith once for all delivered to the Saints."



New Book Available Now!
Finish The Race!
A Study On Christian Maturity
by Sandy Simpson & Juanita Simpson


This book was written to help believers to realize the absolute necessity of growing to maturity in Christ. It contains chapters on a variety of topics that apply to the subject of maturing from infancy to adulthood in the Lord. What many believers today do not realize is that the Bible teaches that growth in Christ is directly tied to learning to discern truth from error, good from evil. Since this is the emphasis the Word of God gives to the subject, Christians ought to be busy being Bereans (Acts 17:11). Yet many churches are urging Christians to push aside discernment in favor of experience. The trendy teaching these days is that matters of doctrine are not as important as how one feels. Jesus Christ and the foundational Apostles made it clear that a Christian must grow to maturity or be in danger of being deceived.  When carnal desires to sin, including following false teachers (James 1:13-16), has grown to full flower this can cause a Christian to shipwreck his faith (1 Tim. 1:19).
     It is our hope that this book will inspire many believers to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith (2 Tim. 4:7). 
 
 
Apologetics Coordination Team
P.O. Box 1759
Pearl City, HI 96782
Email: ditc@hotmail.com

Important Book!

The price for the Finish The Race! - A Study On Christian Maturity is $11. plus $4.00 shipping and handling per book=Total $15.00.  For outside the US the price is $11. + $9. = $20.  To order simply click on the PayPal logo below to pay online with credit card or directly from your bank account.

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Outside US

If you wish to order Finish The Race! - A Study On Christian Maturity book by mail, click on the order forms below and print them out.  You can send a personal check, bank check or money order made out to "Alexander Simpson" to: Deception In The Church, P.O. Box 1759, Pearl City, HI 96782

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Excellent ACT Resources!


New Companion Book!
THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION is now available in book form. This is the DVD script plus commentary by Sandy Simpson. The commentary of the DVD series is not in the book, but there are many more quotes available than in the video series.  Good reference material.  Also available on CD-ROM.
Go here for ordering details.
Extremely Important Series For Pastors!
THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION is a DVD /VHS expose of  the NAR and it's leadership of C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Peirce, Dutch Sheets, Bill Hamon, Jack Deere and others. It  features commentary by Bill Randles, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Jacob Prasch, Mike Oppenheimer, Orrel Steinkamp, Gary Gilley, Dave Hunt, Sandy Simpson and others. 
Go here for ordering details!
Timely!
LETTERS TO THE CHURCH is a fitting manual for the Revelation Christian. All the precepts are in the seven letters in Revelation 1:9 - 3:22 to help us keep the faith, stay in sound doctrine, and reach out to those who are perishing. I hope and pray that this book will help the reader to be an “overcomer”.
Go here for more details and how to order!
Demolish Arguments!
Want to be able to see your way through to clear biblical discernment? Want a set of tools that will allow you to disciple your loved ones so they will stand firm in the Faith? Want to sort out many of the false arguments and teachings that have invaded the churches? Then DISCERNMENT TOOLKIT is for you!
Go here for more details and how to order!
Important Video Information 
On Benny Hinn!
SPIRIT OF TRUTH OR SPIRIT OF ERROR?
PART 1 - BENNY HINN 
features Jacob Prasch, Mike Oppenheimer & Sandy Simpson and tons of video showing the teachings and prophecies of Benny Hinn.  This is a proven tool to keep people away from heresy. 
Go here for more details and how to order!


We Still Have These On Special!

We have some special items in limited stock priced low to sell. Hurry because we are running out of these special sale items.  PayPal purchases for items that have run out will be refunded through PayPal.  Mail orders will not be accepted for these specials.


Mending The Nets
by Bill Randles

Go here for more details and how to order!

Weighed And Found Wanting
by Bill Randles

Go here for more details and how to order!

The Legacy Of William Carey
by Vishal & Ruth Mangalwadi

Go here for more details and how to order!


Lord bless!

In His hands,
Sandy Simpson
Apologetics Coordination Team (ACT)


The Fad-Driven Church

by Todd Wilken

The Plumbline, Volume 10, No. 1, February/March 2005
 
… The dictionary defines a fad as "a practice or interest followed for a time with exaggerated zeal." This could just as well be a description of congregational life of many Christian churches today.

There is a new book, a new program or a new emphasis every year or so. It’s all anyone can talk about; it's all the preacher preaches about - for a while. Then, as quickly as it came, it's gone. As eagerly as it was received, it's abandoned and forgotten.

Welcome to the Fad-Driven church.

At first this might not sound like a problem.  Some Christians can remember when the Church didn't jump from bandwagon to bandwagon every year or two. But for others, this is all they have ever known. For them, it is hard to imagine what the Church would be like without the constant ebb and flow of church fads. For them, the long list of church fads represents their personal history as a Christian: Spiritual Gift inventories, Spiritual Warfare, Promise Keepers, Weigh Down Workshop, The Prayer of Jabez; the Left Behind Series, Becoming a Contagious Christian, a long succession of evangelism and stewardship programs, and most recently, The Purpose-Driven Life and 40 Days of Purpose. There are many Christians for whom this list (give or take one or two) is Christianity. Some church fads come and go, some come and stay. A few are genuinely harmless; most contain serious theological error. All are popular - while they last. In the fad-driven church,  "exaggerated zeal” has replaced "the faith once for all delivered to the Saints."1

In the course of hosting Issues, Etc. I've examined most if not all of the recent church fads. I am always surprised  - not by the fads themselves, but by something else. I am always surprised by how uncritically churches accept a fad, how enthusiastically   churches embrace a fad and how carelessly churches abandon a fad. That is why this article isn't about the fads themselves, but about the kind of churches that accept, embrace and abandon fads.

The Life Cycle of a Church Fad

Every fad has a life cycle. The fad is first accepted, then embraced and finally abandoned. For the fad4riven church, this life cycle is a way life.
 
The cycle begins with acceptance. The fad-driven church is practiced at this. Too close an examination of the fad at the outset might raise too many questions. "After all, this book is a best-seller!" "Thousands of churches are doing it, how can we go wrong?" Accept first, examine later, if at all. This acceptance may come through the pastor's active promotion or through grassroots popularity. Either way, the fad spreads like wildfire in the congregation.

The cycle continues with enthusiastic embrace. By "enthusiastic" I don't mean excitement or emotion, although those things may be involved. What I mean is that the fad-driven church embraces its latest fad with creedal intensity. While the fad has currency, it is an article of faith. Belief in the fad becomes a mark of loyalty to the church. During this phase of the fad's life cycle, critics of the fad may be dismissed as unloving, judgmental or unconcerned for saving souls. At the very least, they are viewed as troublemakers and obstacles to the church's mission. During this phase, in some cases, the fad may dictate what is preached, the content of bible study or even the focus of congregational life.

The life cycle ends with the abandonment of the fad. Some fads have a built-in expiration date... most simply linger until something better comes along. The fad-driven church may cling with a martyr's fervor to the fad while it lasts, but everyone knows that its days are numbered. Sooner or later it will have to be abandoned. Accept the fad, embrace the fad and abandon the fad. This is the life of a fad-driven church.  There are exceptions to this life cycle. In a few cases a fad doesn't die; it grows into something bigger than a fad. It grows into a movement... I have often been critical of church fads at the height of their popularity. After several encounters with fad defenders, I noticed something. The seasoned member of the fad-driven church will defend his fad today. But he will happily abandon the same fad six months from now. I realized that the fad itself is inconsequential; everyone knows that it will be forgotten sooner or later. Christians caught in the cycle of church fads must defend a particular fad, because by doing so, they are defending their willingness to accept, embrace and abandon fads in general. They are defending their fad­-driven-ness.

A Lack of Discernment

The need of discernment in the Church is one of the most frequent admonitions in Scriptnre.2 Paul's warning to the Ephesians is typical:

We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming, but speaking the truth in love we are to grow up in all aspects unto Him, who is the head even Christ.  3

The church is supposed to stand immovable against “every wind of doctrine." By contrast the fad-driven church is a windsock. If you want to know which way the wind is blowing, the latest teachings, the newest programs or the most current methods, just look at the fad-driven church. If you want to know what the fad-driven church will be doing next, just walk through your local Christian bookstore or page through a Christian publisher's catalogue.

In the fad-driven church, books, programs and seminars are evaluated primarily by their sales, popularity and attendance records, rather than on their theological merit  "False teaching? Why would so many churches be reading this book if it contained false teaching?"… Can millions of Christians be wrong? Yes, they can.

Ironically, the fad-driven church often excuses its lack of discernment in the name of saving souls. It justifies its appetite for fads in the name of evangelism. "Whatever it takes" is the creed of the fad-driven church. "Whatever it takes to reach the lost" is supposed to be a courageous new strategy for evangelism.  But "whatever it takes" is not a strategy. "Whatever it takes" is an admission that you have no strategy. Sinners aren't saved by "whatever." Sinners are saved by what Jesus did at the Cross. "Whatever it takes” is just another way of saying, "Whatever people want," or "Whatever everyone else is doing." Rather than seeking the lost, the fad-driven church is just seeking its next fix.

Some advocates of church fads take the "Eat the meat, spit out the bones" approach to false teaching. They claim that practicing discernment means spiting the “bone?” of error while eating the "meat" of truth. There are several problems with this approach. First, it assumes that a church fad contains only isolated false teachings, like so many bones in a fish. But many church fads don't just contain false teaching; they are based on false teaching... Second, the "bone spitting" approach assumes that the errors of the latest church fad will be obvious to everyone. Often they are not. In the second century, Irenaeus battled the fad of Gnosticism. He observed:

Error, indeed is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression mqy seem) more true than the truth itself. 4

The "inexperienced" are still infants in the faith. Would you give an infant a fish to eat knowing that there were bones in it?

Finally, the "bone spitting" approach fails to recognize that a continuous stream of fads will erode the church's ability to discern truth from error. With every new fad, the fad-driven church grows less able to recognize the truth. In time, the fad-driven church is unable to discern the true Gospel. Paul found this to be the case among the Corinthians:

If one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached or you receive a different spirit which you have not received or a dflfrrent gospel which you have not accepted you hear this beautifully. 5

This is the bottom line. A church willing to tolerate some false teaching will eventually tolerate any false teaching - even a false gospel, a false spirit and a false Jesus.  For this reason, when it comes to false teaching, Scripture's command isn't to "bone-spit," but to avoid it altogether. 6

Desperation

… Os Guinness has written about the "idol of relevance"  and accurately described the mentality of the fad-driven church:

And of course, whatever is next must be a great deal better still … The past is beside the point, outdated, reactionary, and stagnant. In a word that is today's supreme term of dismissal, the past is irrelevant. Everything Christian from worship to evangelism must be fresh, new, up-to-date, attuned, appealing, seeker-­sensitive, audience-friendly, and relentlessly relevant ... "All new”, “ must-­read”, ” the sequel that is more than equal" - the mentality is rampant and' the effect is corrosive. 7

Rather than making the church more relevant this mentality only makes the fad-driven   church more susceptible to fads and more desperate;

Relevance without truth encourages what' Neitzsche called “the herd" mentality and Kierkegaard "age of the crowd" Further compounded by accelerated change which itself is compounded by the fashion-driven dictates of consumerism, relevance  becomes overheated and vaporizes into trendiness. 8

Guinness' final observation is an uncanny paraphrase of Jeremiah's lament:

Feverishness is the condition of an institution that has ceased to be faithful to its origins. It is then caught up in "a restless, cosmopolitan hunting after new and ever newer things. 9

They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. [Jeremiah 2:11-13]. This explains the short life span of so many church fads. It is the result of desperation. The fad-driven church's new cisterns are broken. They can't hold water. Even while the last drops drain from the old cistern, the fad-driven church must desperately dig a new one. But the new cistern is as leaky as the old one, so the digging must go on.

Nothing to Offer; Nothing to Say

Williani Inge said, "Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next." Take away the fads, and what of the Church is left in the fad-driven church? In some cases, what's left isn't the church at all, but a collection of principles, practices and ideas that don't add up to anything resembling the Christian faith. Rather than "the pattern of sound words”,10 there are only the remnants of past fads.

In the name of saving the lost the fad-driven is trading the saving message of the Gospel for the newest gimmick. If such a church does reach the lost, will it have anything to say that can save them? ...Will the fad-driven church give Christians Jesus or Jabez, lasting forgiveness or the latest fashion?

And for the member of the fad-driven church who has known nothing but fads, will these fads leave her a Christian on her deathbed (or will she be left wondering what that whirlwind of best-sellers,  seminars,  video sermons and three-ring binders was all about?)

The church that wraps its identity and mission around the evanescent desires of finicky consumers, will run the risk of creating a church as ephemeral as those desires.11 Will the fad-driven church remain the Church? In its "exaggerated zeal for all things new, will it hold fast to the unchanging message of the Cross?"

Fad or Faith

We live in an age of pious distractions. We live in an age of church fads. The fad-driven church has structured its life around the trends and innovations of the day. Christian publishers and the mega­church gurus are ready to provide something new as often as the masses demand it. But St. Paul encourages and warns the Church:

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 12

The Church has something better than any fad. The time has come. Ears are itching. Ears are turning. The Church must take up Paul's charge. Now more than ever the Church must preach the Word and ignore the fads.

Many in the fad-driven church believe that preaching the Word is impractical: "If just preaching the Word worked, people would be lin­ing up at the door." Others in the fad- driven church believe that preaching the Word is outdated: "It may have worked 50 years ago, but not today." Others believe that preaching the Word is just too simple. Rick Warren has said as much,

We’ve all heard speakers claim, "If you’ll pray more, preach the word and be dedicated, then your church will grow.” Well, that's just not true. I can show you thousands of churches where pastors are doctrinally sound; they love the Lord; they’re committed and spirit filled and yet their churches are dying on the vine. 13

This is nonsense. How can a church that is preaching the Word of God be "dying on the vine?" Paul tells the Church to preach the Word not because it is the most practical way, or the most current way, or the simplest way. Paul tells us to preach the Word because it is the only way.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 14

G.K. Chesterton said "The Church always seems to be behind the times, when it is really beyond the times; it is waiting till the last fad shall have seen its last summer. It keeps the key of a permanent virtue." That key is the Gospel, the message of the forgiveness of sins purchased at the Cross, with the blood of Jesus.

That key is the Gospel proclaimed to every sinner every Sunday... Yes, this Gospel is popularly believed to be impractical, outdated, and simplistic. But it isn't. Rather, this Gospel is "power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. 15

Without this Gospel, the Church is at the mercy of every new fad. However, with this Gospel, the Church really is beyond the times.

As I write this, my 12 year old daughter is convinced that hip-hugger bell-bottoms are the greatest idea in fashion history. I don't have the heart to tell her that I used to think so too. She thinks her father looks old-fashioned and lacks all sense of style. I don't have the heart to tell her that I look back at pictures of my bell-bottom days and laugh. I don't have the heart to tell her that someday she will do the same. The Church is an old man who has been wearing the same clothes in the same style his whole life. He refuses to change with the fashions. He simply lets the fads pass him by. Yes, he seems behind the times. But look again at what he is wearing. He is clothed in Christ.

This article is an abridgement of the longer article which can be found in man, Elt Journal, Vol 3, Nal, pp.4-9. Thanks to Todd Wilten for permission to share this informatiort You can access Issues, Etc at www.M.suesetc.or£

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1. Jude 3.
2. Romans 16:17; 1 Cor. 14:29; 2 Cor. 13:5;  Gal. 1:9; Phil. 1:8-11; 2 Thess. 3:6; 1 Tim. 4:6,16; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2:13; 4:3-5; Titus 1:7-14; 2:1; 1 John 4:1; Hebrews 5:14.

3  Ephesians 4:l4-15.

4  Irenaeus of Lyons, Adversus Haereses, 1,2, in The Ante-Nicine Fathers, vol.1, Alexander Roberts and James Donalson, ed., Hendrickson, 1994.

5 2 Cor. 11:4.

6  Gal. 2:4-5; 3:9; 1 Cor. 5:6; Phil. 3:2; 2 Thes. 2:15; l Tim. 4:6-7; 6:20-21; 2 Tim. 1:13-3:1-17;  2 Peter 2:1-3; 3:17-18; Rev. 2:14-16

7  Os Guinness, Prophetic Untimeliness, A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003, pp.40,76.

8 Os Guinness, Dining with the Devil, The Mega- church Movement Flirts with Modernity, Rapids: Baker, 1993, p.63.

9 Os Guinness, Dining with the Devil p.63.

10 2 Tim. 1:13.

11 Philip Kenneson, James Street, Selling Out the Church, The Dangers of Church Marketing, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997, p.20.

12 2 Tim. 4:1-4.

13 Rick Warren, "Rick Warren Interview" at http://www.paston.eom/portal/lnew/Ricklnterview.asp

14 I Cor. 1:21-25, Also Matt. 24:14; Luke 24:46-47; Romans 10:17; 16:25-27; 2 Cor. 4:5; Col. 1:25-28.

15 Romans 1:16

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The Plumbline

74425 County Road 21
Renville MN. 56284
Telephone: 320-329-3874
Email: onst@tds.net