Review of Arthur Gish’s “Beyond the Rat Race”

Philanthropic Capitalism vs. Christian Communism

Philanthropic capitalism, I am convinced, is the economic perspective of Jesus, the Old Testament prophets, and the whole Bible. I am not the first person to coin the phrase “philanthropic capitalism,” but I will admit it is a very unusual expression. It is the view that capitalism can and should be used for philanthropy or giving to the poor; and if it is not so used, then it is a massive sin against God. It has been illustrated by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and various film versions of it, when Scrooge is born again and goes on a giving streak; and also, at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, when Sam Wainwright, and all of George Bailey’s clients, bail him out for losing $8,000.

gish arthur - beyond rat race - AbeBooks

Art Gish says some really on point things in Beyond the Rat Race. I’m glad I took the time to read it, because he really thinks outside the box, from the way most Christians and just people in general think about business and money. I would say his strongest part in this book is chapter 4, titled, “So What’s Wrong With Being Rich?” where he really lays into some financial sins like strife, stinginess, oppression, compromise, selfishness, dishonesty, vanity, idolatry of possessions, insecurity of losing them, arrogance, authoritarianism, resentment, jealousy, and snobbery. I got turned on to this book several years ago while reading Wealth and Poverty: Four Christian Views of Economics edited by Robert Clouse. Art Gish stood out as the guy advocating a Christian communist point of view—pointing to people like the Anabaptists, the Bruderhof, and the Amish as holding to the true Christian economy. He takes this from Acts 4:32-35:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Basically Gish says that Christians should live like this today: on group farms and within Christian communes. He says that Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, Illinois had a “deep impact” on his life. Wikipedia says that they share “a common purse, where paychecks are pooled, and members are given monthly allowances.” So basically every family has the same amount of money—like in the Soviet Union—where everyone lives in poverty as a working-class proletariat, and only their basic needs are met, and there is no such thing as “keeping up with the Joneses,” no economic competition, only friendship. My natural reaction is to cry out “cult!” And probably that’s what it is, because in the end of his book around pages 143-144, when speaking about the authority structures of communes, supposedly 100% democratic, he feels he needs to mention that the old tyranny that exists out in the competitive world of capitalism, can come right into a commune if we’re not careful. He has to say this, that communes “are never immune from attacks” like this; and that “our approach does not include coercion.” TLC’s reality TV series Breaking Amish is clear for the reasons why people leave Amish communities. Usually it has to do with their unreasonable authoritarianism, lack of modern amenities, and their lack of personal freedoms.

So what about Acts 4:32-35? Do we just ignore it? Pretend that it isn’t there? No. It’s there, but let’s allow reason and church history to speak for a moment. We’ve already allowed the Radical Reformation speak their side: from the Anabaptists till the Amish, they interpret it as a perpetual economic model to follow. So what about the Catholics and all the other Protestants? Gary North, who is the Christian capitalist opponent of Gish in the Wealth and Poverty book, is probably the best person to consult for balance. He said, “The communism of the book of Acts has been the focus of heated debate for centuries…they were told to flee when the armies approached the city. Therefore, there was little reason to hold on to property, especially fixed property. In any case, communism was never suggested as a general practice for all Christian communities, as the orthodox wings of both Catholic and Protestant churches have assured us. Again, charity was required, not a system of communist production and distribution.”[1]

North points us back to what I’d like to call philanthropic capitalism: that our giving back to the poor is limited by what we can handle as individual Christian business people. It does not have to be, nor should it be, going to the extent of communal living. Mainly because communal living in Acts 4 was only an emergency measure that Christians were resorting to because they were living under persecution, like these people you read about in The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. We should not look judgmentally at persecuted Christians living in third world countries—they are just trying to survive; and if they have to temporarily resort to communal living just to survive, then we should bless them in that decision. But this was never the constant economic mentality of either the Old Testament (especially the book of Proverbs), Jesus in the Gospels, or the letters of Paul.

The Biblical economic mentality has most always been what Wesley said: “Gain all you can…Save all you can…Give all you can.”[2] And when you give, Jesus was emphatic that the poor are the ones that we should give to. I can think of no better place to begin philanthropic giving than the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. This Catholic organization, in my opinion, is the most efficient and best poverty alleviation organization in the world. My family has benefited from their food pantries more than once. They have a website you can donate to.[3] I believe they also sometimes help with rent and energy bill assistance. So does the United Methodist Church. Its division called UMCOR has a webpage where you can donate to their international efforts to relieve hunger and poverty emergencies.[4] If you want a chunk of your tax return—say at least 10% of it—to be given to the poor, and make sure that the poor will truly benefit from that donation, then I highly recommend giving to either of these organizations for that purpose. I truly believe that would please God.

But the rich, the middle class, and the poor—the class distinctions are supposed to remain: because God works through all of them. That’s philanthropic capitalism. There is no Christian communism in the whole Bible except in Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-35, when it’s describing the early church living in fear of life-threatening persecution, when Christian men could not so easily engage in business, without being reported to the authorities, and their lives put at risk. Being that this was the situation for the 16th century Anabaptists, I can’t really blame them for resorting to communal living either. See the Christian movie The Radicals, which tells their story. Adam Clarke, the Methodist commentator, said, “The unbelieving Jews, who were mockers, Acts 2:13, would treat these new converts with the most marked disapprobation. That an absolute community of goods never obtained in the Church at Jerusalem, unless for a very short time, is evident from the apostolical precept, 1 Corinthians 16:1, collections were ordered to be made for the poor; but, if there had been a community of goods in the Church, there could have been no ground for such recommendations as these, as there could have been no such distinction as rich and poor, if every one, on entering the Church, gave up all his goods to a common stock.”[5]

Philanthropic Capitalism vs. Materialistic Capitalism

Jesus said, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor” (Luke 12:33). He’s saying get rid of the things you don’t need, turn them into cash, and give the cash to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and UMCOR. He’s not saying get rid of everything and join an Amish commune—where everyone gets an allowance, lives in poverty, and without modern technology. Jesus’ expectation of His saying “give to the poor” implies that you are not poor: it implies that you are maybe in the lower middle class, the middle class, or among the rich. Although He did say, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 19:23). Mainly because, like the rich young ruler, it is human nature to become attached to your money and possessions—to become clingy to them, and not give the money away to the poor. Human nature drives the rich toward materialistic capitalism—the evil competitor of philanthropic capitalism. It is what Jesus was referring to when he spoke of the god Mammon, when He said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt. 6:24). The Greek word for “money” in this verse is actually Mammon, the Syrian demon-god of riches.[6] It was what Paul was referring to when he said, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

Greed is essentially removing the others-focused philanthropy from philanthropic capitalism; and instead replacing it with self-centered materialism: the meaning of which, according to Oxford Languages, is to “consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.” This opposition to materialism is not only a New Testament value, but goes all the way back to the Tenth Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exod. 20:17). Capitalism is assumed in this commandment too, because the wealthy Jew is portrayed as having servants in his household, like in Ben-Hur. The distinction between the rich and the poor even exists in the Ten Commandments, but restraint is attached to it. People are commanded not to covet, which definitely goes against human nature; and they are commanded to restrain themselves from materialism, jealousy of others’ riches, etc. Because they are meant to all be brothers in the same religious community.

Mammon, the demon of riches, would seek to destroy all such camaraderie by tempting Christian businessmen into materialistic capitalism, financial competition, greed, and financial jealousy. Sadly, it seems that the majority of men in the United States, England, and other Western countries are actually serving Mammon instead of Jesus. This usually happens in the first 5 years of their involvement in the business world. Some of them had such high Christian ideals in school, prior to their involvement in business, but now they see how things really are; and their perspectives change, and they become more like Scrooge and less like Cratchit. Philanthropic ideas start to fade away as they consider all the other financial responsibilities that they have, like rent, mortgage payments, cars, insurance, retirement planning, college funds, electric bills, debts, savings, investments, groceries, vacations, etc. Matthew 13:22: “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.”

Giving to the poor in Jesus’ name becomes less and less of a priority on the Christian’s financial pie chart; and as this happens, he becomes less and less of a Christian, and ends up retaining merely a “form of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). He may continue to take his family to church, but being the deeply ingrained man of business that he now is, his heart has now been successfully hardened against all of Christianity’s spiritual realities, powers, and revelations. He is cut off from the Holy Spirit. Nothing paranormal, mystical, or supernatural ever happens to him because God knows he’d never take such things seriously. He does not live by faith in God and His providence, but in his business abilities alone. He is a man of BUSINESS now and that is all that is real to him. He is merely going to church, going through the motions, and truly idolizing his business activity at this point. His true god is his business, his job, his company, his employer, his resume, his bank account. That is the true god that he fears. He is a Mammon worshiper although he doesn’t know it. He would agree in principle with what Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street (1987):

Greed, for lack of a better word, is good; greed is right; greed works; greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit; greed in all of its forms–greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind; and greed–you mark my words–will not only save Telgar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

The rich man called Dives lived in luxury every day; and refused to give to the godly beggar Lazarus, who laid outside of his gate. They both died and the rich man ended up burning in Hell, because he was worshipping Mammon—materialistic capitalism—and had abandoned all notions of philanthropy to the poor (Luke 16:19-31). “Lazy bum, get a job,” was probably his default thought every time he saw that beggar. But on closer inspection he might have noticed that Lazarus was covered with sores; and probably disabled, and was unable to work most jobs requiring physical labor; and even if he could work some other kind of job, he was probably in need of some compassionate businessman to guide him to that job prospect. Laziness is not the only cause of poverty. Ignorance—or lack of business guidance—is sometimes just as strong an influence. Capitalists, with all their knowledge of business, could easily help and guide the poor in these matters, but they are often too scared to have their pockets picked, so they ignore poor people; and refuse to help them monetarily, or with job leads, or in any way at all. Racism against minority groups might also be a barrier to this. This provokes the wrath of God, mind you, to the point of Hell-fire! Mammon, the god of materialistic capitalism, will end you up in Hell if you live by his principles. He is but a trickster, a Leprechaun, promising you great things, but ends up deceiving you into the worst place imaginable. And isn’t that just like most businessmen and the way they conduct themselves? Through “lying to get ahead,” in so many matters: to their employers, their employees, and their customers? They are obviously children of Mammon. Yet another example of “the deceitfulness of wealth” (Matt. 13:22). “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:10).

So what should we do? Should we become Christian communists, like the Amish and Old Order Mennonites, like Art Gish is talking about in Beyond the Rat Race? No. I think that is an extreme overreaction to materialistic capitalism. It’s only to swing the pendulum in the extreme opposite direction. Thinking that way is a start, but it’s not the final Biblical answer. I wouldn’t necessarily blame a man who at least experimented with the Amish or other Christian communes, simply because he saw the Spirit of Mammon for what it was, and was trying to run away from it; or cast it out of his heart. But the economic point of view held by God, in both the Old and New Testaments, is clearly philanthropic capitalism. We are not meant to completely run away from the business world, but still need it to make our money. But when we go to calculate our personal financial pie charts, we need to prayerfully consider every year, and I would say, in every approaching tax return season, what percentage we should give to a Christian charity that is known for dispensing money and food to the poor.

Other Biblical Economic Principles That I Got From This Study

1. Telecommuting. It removes most of the office politics, egocentric competition, and sexual seduction that office work does; and it also helps you save on gas money. Worldliness and profanity can also be more avoided.

2. Simplicity. If you seek to live with the bare necessities, then you will be liberated from the dissatisfaction of materialism. But the St. Francis of Assisi level of poverty does not work well for heads of households and providers of families. Think more like Wesley and less like St. Francis in this regard.

3. Morale. Comedy, music, and friends are necessary to having a fulfilling life–so don’t spoil that with materialism.

4. Tax Returns. If you’re going to make a big purchase like a car, house, or lot: then you can chip away at those things by using your tax returns. Go to H&R Block and pay your taxes (Matt. 22:21); and when you get your tax return, divide it Biblically. Put some in an interest-bearing bank account (Matt. 25:27), a Vanguard Target Retirement Fund, a used car, land, saving for building a home, college, philanthropy (Deut. 15; Prov. 10; 29), etc.

5. Providence. It would be good to have plaques of the Ten Commandments and Deuteronomy 8:11-17 by your home office desk, so you can remember to honor God with your increase. God rewards prosperity to the godly for holy living and for thanking Him for His providence. Money that is ill-gotten will be cursed (see also Deut. 28). If it can be avoided, do not work on Sunday, but honor the Sabbath day, because it is a way of remembering and acknowledging God for business successes during the week; and not attributing everything to the work of your own hands (Exod. 20:8-11). Just don’t mix business activity with church, like the moneychangers did (Matt. 21:12).

6. Diligence and Frugality Generate Money. “The hands of the diligent and frugal are the only hands which make a nation rich,” said Josiah Tucker. Quoted by Wesley. Proverbs 10:4 (KJV): “The hand of the diligent maketh rich.” Diligent means hard working and productive.

7. Job’s Later Life. Job 42:12: “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.”

8. Thrift Stores. It is a mark of frugality to shop at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, thrift stores, and Facebook Marketplace.

9. Butlers and Maids. Although the Tenth Commandment allows for butlers and maids, I would caution against any racial bigotry, condescension, oppression, or snobbery in this area.

10. Private Property. Micah 4:4: “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid,” that is, no banker or landlord can make a tenant afraid of homelessness through an eviction notice or foreclosure, if a man owns his own land and private property. Guns should primarily be used to protect the lives of our family members, not our property. But background checks should be done to check not only on employees but also on employers, to make sure that your address does not fall into the hands of criminals.

11. Lower End of the Middle Class. $65,000 a year, as of 2020, is a good financial goal, and earning limit, and puts you comfortably in the lower end of the middle class: it is enough to save, invest, and do philanthropy without things getting luxurious: “Give me neither poverty nor riches” (Proverbs 30:8). Suppose your income increases to $150k a year. I can see no reason for a luxury home at that point. God would then require more philanthropy from you. Luke 12:48: “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Psalm 62:10: “Though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.” Proverbs 13:7: “One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.”

12. Christian Business Networking. Network with Christian business owners: pull emails from Christian business directories with scraping software like EmailClik.com, from LinkedIn: make Excel databases: and when necessary, email blast 2500 of them with an SMTP service. It’s always good to have passive job connections to provide yourself with back-up plans for financial security. It is not good to worry, because it distracts us from faith, love, peace, and enjoying our lives.


[1] Gary North, An Introduction to Christian Economics (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1973), ch. 18: “An Outline of Biblical Economic Thought,” pp. 222-223.

[2] John Wesley, “The Use of Money,” 1.1, 2.1, 3.1.

[3] https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E135450&id=21

[4] https://advance.umcmission.org/p-661-world-hunger-and-poverty.aspx

[5] Adam Clarke, The Adam Clarke Commentary, “Acts 2:44.”

[6] There is some scholarly debate about whether Mammon was an actual demonic entity or god worshipped by the Syrians. As of today, there seems to be no archaeological evidence of the worship of such a deity in Syria. Early church fathers and Bible commentators, such as Gregory of Nyssa, Peter Lombard, the Piers Plowman, and Nicholas de Lyra all believed that Mammon was a demon or a god worshipped by the Syrians. It may be possible that these early medieval scholars had access to documents suggesting that, but which are no longer available. The same could be said about many ideas that come from the ancient world. In any case the word “mammon” is used by Jesus in Aramaic and here it simply means “riches,” which is to say that you cannot serve God and at the same time wholeheartedly devote yourself to riches. There comes a point when philanthropy to the poor needs to come in; and even things out for you spiritually.

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Psalm 67

Verse 1

         E          D      A  D-A  O  Em 1p    4p
May God be merciful unto us and bless us

         E                     D   A     D-A  O   Em   1p 4p
And cause His face to shine upon us———selah

E                     D    A  D——A  O  Em    1p  4p
That His way may be known upon all of the earth

         E                 D   A    D-A  O  Em1p4p
His saving health among all of the nations


Chorus

4p              Em 1p      4p     4p  4p
Let the people praise you, O God!

4p              Em 1p      4p     4p  4p
All the people praise you, O God!


Verse 2

    E                     D   A           D-A      O    Em 1p    4p
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy

       E                        D   A        D-A      O    Em 1p    4p
For thou shalt judge the people righteously

        E          D   A          D-A  O       Em   1p 4p
And govern the nations upon earth———selah

          E                     D      A            D-A  O   Em 1p    4p
Then shall the earth yield all of her increase

Chorus

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Why I’m Giving Up Horror

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. –2 Timothy 1:7

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. –Philippians 4:8

If in doubt, cast it out. –Win Worley

Horror is demonic, because it is fear-driven. This is my second try with it. I’ve been binging on the AMC Fear Fest with non-stop horror movies. This is the second time I’ve heard animal sounds growling in my mind, along with other strange scary sounds. I had this happen several times last night after watching Halloween. This is not meant to condemn that one isolated single horror movie, but I believe the entire horror genre. The last time this happened, I was on an It binge and it made me throw my It book out. I also had a pen knock off my desk by itself nearby the It book. I know it appears strict or legalistic, but I’m not going to take risks with my mind, or my children’s minds, just for the sake of watching a thrilling horror movie. If demonic, negative paranormal side-effects HAVE to happen from watching horror movies, then they are not worth me spending my time on. I was also hearing scary voices, as well as hearing “I am the greatest” in my mind, when I was thinking about writing a horror script for movie studios. Many horror makers are agnostics and atheists (Stephen King and John Carpenter for example), so they can brush away these negative paranormal things if they happen to them. I can’t. I will have to re-focus my writing ability towards theology again, but this time pseudonymously, because I’ve found that writing and YouTubing creates a conflict of interest with businessmen.

Horror is a word for intense fear. Fear for the sake of fear is not within God’s will, I am now convinced. While God would not have us be cowardly, at the same time, God “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). But the devil is a spirit of fear; and it is through the spirit of fear that he throws people’s minds out of whack; and puts them into mental hospitals. I’ve been aware for many years that books on spiritual warfare and deliverance tend to recommend against watching horror films, because they are linked as a cause for hauntings and demonic oppression of the mind (e.g., Derek Prince’s They Shall Expel Demons, pp. 107, 125, 235). They are not as dangerous as Ouija boards in their link with demon possession, but I have personally experienced a cause-and-effect reaction between horror and negative paranormal phenomena. When I was in 5th or 6th grade it happened; and recently on June 21, 2020 (after buying the It book and watching all of the It movies) and October 4, 2020 (after watching a Halloween marathon on AMC). I’m just sharing my experiences here. I don’t think this should be a rule for everyone; all of this is highly subjective and based on experience. But maybe you’d be validated if you were going through the same things. That’s why I thought I’d share all of this.


UPDATE – 10/17/20

Why I’m Giving Up Horror: Part 2: Demon Centered Horror

I think I’m going to revise my view on horror just a bit. Its not my objective to rain on anyone’s parade of thrills and chills during this season. Often, people see horror as a thing of fun and harmless entertainment. Honestly, I’ve always been a bit of a morbid child; and even now tend to gravitate towards the macabre, even when I tell jokes. But just to clarify, this year I have personally experienced demonic growling in my mind, a pen knocking off my desk, and nightmares, directly following the watching of It, Halloween, and a show on the Travel Channel called Portals to Hell. My primary objective is to avoid the kind of demonic oppression that can clearly come as side-effects from watching things like this. At this point, in revision, I think condemning the entire horror genre is a bit too strict, but I am led to believe that demon-centered horror is what should be off limits for the Christian. Even in the movie Halloween, the killer Michael Myers is somehow demonically empowered, because he just can’t be killed…he keeps coming back. In all the shows that contributed to me experiencing oppression on any level–in all of them–a demon of some type was at the center of the horror film, as part of plotline. I think that demon-focused horror is the problem; and if anything, it is this sort of film type that seems to tell the devil and his minions all around us, “Hey you guys, come on in, the water’s fine. I’m entertained by you. I am using the devil as my entertainment for the time being.”

In other words, what I am getting at is this: I don’t think horror, per se, is the sin, so much as devil-entertainment is the sin. Its like in the Ten Commandments, when God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). I wonder if when we watch movies that are demon-focused, like The Exorcist or The Conjuring, that we are in a sense, worshipping the devil. I mean, we’re definitely giving him plenty of attention, if not admiration of his demonic powers. We might reason, yes, but the Catholic element in these movies displays God’s power at work too–yes, but the objective of these movies is to display the devil’s power, and to produce a fear of those powers at work. And in God’s eyes, in the devil’s eyes, watching demon-centered horror might actually be in spirit a form of devil worship. The Greek gods Deimos and Phobos where the gods of terror and panic: they were gods of fear, and they were worshipped as real spiritual entities by the ancient Greeks. The name Phobos is where psychology gets its word for phobias. I see no reason why watching demon-centered horror movies–no reason at all–why movies like that would not announce to fear spirits like these to make themselves at home in your house; and to then mess with your mind, with your thoughts, your dreams, and your personal belongings…and your children.

My current view is that while movies like Psycho (1960) or The Silence of the Lambs (1991) would fall into the horror category, they do not however, fall into the supernatural horror genre or the demon-focused horror category. They are horror, or maybe thrillers, or suspense movies. They are scary movies about serial killers. But they are not demon-focused horror movies about ghosts, goblins, Satan, and demons. Maybe thrillers are not the healthiest things to watch all the time, they could produce edginess or anxiety. Movies like The Thing (1982), The Blob (1988), and The Fly (1986)–all scary, thrilling science fiction movies, which cross into the horror genre–these might not be the best things to watch before going to bed. But I think that a person’s mind is much less at risk of demonic oppression, evil voices, and ghost activity when it comes to watching thrillers and sci-fi movies. Demon movies however, for personal reasons, I am choosing to steer clear of; and I think other Christians should too. Because nobody wants to hear the devil’s voice at 11:30pm when they are trying to lay down and get some sleep.

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A Fresh Word

Verse 1

Natural tendency to break Your law

Forgetfulness, I’m so stressed

And You are missed

In Your sight…I can’t tell lies…

But please my God…when you’re mad

Don’t gouge my eyes out

Chorus

Thirsty soul for righteousness

I love You for intervenin’

I know Your mad, but I know You still care

I’m not alone, and we can do this

Verse 2

Sodomy…

Sodom and Gomorrah

Its a wasteland, and I see a horror

Wallowing in the mud and ashes

Don’t make me drunk

Pukin’ like the masses

Chorus

(Based on Matt 5; Jer. 25).
CHORDS – down strums E A E 4p – 4p 1p Em 4p

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Outline of “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason

The Automatic Millionaire says many of the same things.

Seven Cures For a Lean Purse

1. The First Cure: Start thy purse to fattening.[15]

Save 10% of your paycheck. Arkad advises on saving 10% of your annual income to start building up your wealth (or purse): “For every ten coins thou placest within thy purse take out for use but nine. Thy purse will start to fatten at once and its increasing weight will feel good in thy hand and bring satisfaction to they soul”.[3][15]

2. The Second Cure: Control thy expenditures.[15]

Avoid luxury items. Arkad advises against luxury expenditures that ultimately become confused as necessities: “The gold we may retain from our earnings is but the start”, and, “What each of us calls our ‘necessary expenses’ will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to the contrary”, and, “Confuse not the necessary expenses with thy desires”.[3][15]

3. The Third Cure: Make thy gold multiply.[15]

Invest in mutual funds and compound interest (CDs and high-interest savings accounts). Arkad advises to invest and to compound the investment return from these savings: “The earnings it will make shall build our fortunes … Learn to make your treasure work for you. Make it your slave. Make its children and its children’s children work for you”.[3][15]

4. The Fourth Cure: Guard thy treasures from loss.[15]

Avoid big pay raises before the time: be consistent with saving little by little. Arkad advises against taking a risk of loss and investing get-rich-quick schemes: “Is it wise to be intrigued by larger earnings when thy principal may be lost? I say not. The penalty of risk is probable loss. Study carefully, before parting with thy treasure, each assurance that it may be safely reclaimed. Be not misled by thine own romantic desires to make wealth rapidly”.[3][15]

5. The Fifth Cure: Make of thy dwelling a profitable investment.[15]

Pay off your mortgage quickly: and start an at-home business. Arkad advises buying versus renting your principal residence, and using your residence to establish a business: “I recommend that every man own the roof that sheltereth him and his”, and, “Nor is it beyond the ability of any well-intentioned man to own his home”.[3][15]

6. The Sixth Cure: Insure a future income.[15]

Save for retirement. Arkad advises on having a pension and future retirement income: “Therefore do I say that it behooves a man to make preparations for a suitable income in the days to come, when he is no longer young, and to make preparations for his family should he be no longer with them to comfort and support them”.[3][15]

7. The Seventh Cure: Increase thy ability to earn.[15]

Develop your job skills. Arkad advises to keep developing your own skills to increase your investing wisdom and also to increase your earnings power: “The more of wisdom we know, the more we may earn”, and, “That man who seeks to learn more of his craft shall be richly rewarded”.[3][15]

The Five Laws of Gold

1. The First Law of Gold. Gold cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family.[15]

Save 10% of your paycheck. Arkad’s advice here is very similar to the First Cure, which is that saving is the start to building wealth.[2][15]

2. The Second Law of Gold. Gold laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks of the field.[15]

Mutual funds, CDs, and high-interest savings accounts. Arkad’s advice here is very similar to the Third Cure, which is that these savings can themselves grow and compound your wealth.[2][15]

3. The Third Law of Gold. Gold clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.[15]

Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) are good to use. Arkad’s advice here is similar to the Fourth Cure, which is about being patient and having a long-term view.[2][15]

4. The Fourth Law of Gold. Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.[15]

Don’t invest in stocks you don’t understand. Arkad’s advice here is about investing in what you know about and understand.[2][15]

5. The Fifth Law of Gold. Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.[15]

Avoid gambling and get-rich-quick schemes. Arkad’s advice here is about avoiding get-rich-quick or very aggressive wealth creation strategies.[2][15]
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A Look in the Mirror

No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it. –Ephesians 5:29

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. –Matthew 22:39

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. –Philippians 2:3

When I “look in the  mirror,” so to speak, not at my physical appearance, but at my personality…what do I see? First off, how do I do this? There is only one accurate way. And that is through the reflections of myself as seen by other people. Only when you have a clear picture of how other people see you, can you truly “look in the mirror” and have an accurate, not self-deluded picture of what kind of a person you truly are.

I don’t like what I see. I tend to not be liked by certain categories of people, but on the other hand, I can make groups of people laugh at my jokes. While I’ve heard some people call me a d*ck, I’ve heard others refer to me as a comedian. While these same people have referred to me as gay, or a child, a nerd, a square, a legalist, an isolationist, or awkward. Me being me usually turns people off; and sooner or later, I get the feeling that they are laughing at me, at how nerdy I am, rather that at anything I say, because they find it agreeable. I’m just glad I have a wife who loves me. Because of these often occurring negative reactions, I’ve tended to protect myself by being a loner. I think some of it has to do with the fact that I don’t cuss, while basically everyone my age cusses now. Even one little slip up with a cuss word, might go a long way in developing a “trusting bond,” even in a church, the mentality goes. It seems that people hate the idea that they have to watch their mouth when they are around me.

Most of the time, I think that American sports are boring. Sorry. Ever since I was a kid, it just never caught on: soccer, baseball, basketball, and especially football, never really got me all that interested. Instead, I gravitated towards “freak” interests like skateboarding, electric guitar, horror and sci-fi movies, and computer gaming. The popular crowd seeks to be a part of the jock category and wants to compete in that. That’s the vox populi, the voice of the people; when you deviate from that interest, you’re seen as freakish, because you are deviating from a popular social norm. Nerd, freak, hipster–yeah, that’s me. My interests reflected my personality and vice versa. But then there’s other nerds, freaks, and hipsters–there’s others of these that I find it hard to get along with.

1. There’s those that are prideful and conceited over knowing more than you do, or having more influence in their nerd-dom than you, if that means anything.

2. Freaks usually are satanic, and use the f-word like 25 times a day, and probably use drugs. Because I’m a Christian, they see me as awkward, and can’t see me as a friend. Especially, as I’ve noticed, the macho “biker” freaks, or the Metallica fans who are into macho attitudes. As a freak, I guess I’ve always been more like Kurt Cobain, or Dave Grohl, Billy Corgan, or Chino Moreno–the more sensitive type: a touch of emo, but not to the point of being girly. Maybe I’m wrong about these comparisons, maybe I’m right.

3. I’m a Jesus freak–meaning, that I’m in the skater and rock-n-roller category, while at the same time, Jesus has more or less control over my heart. Cornerstone Festival used to be my mecca–unfortunately defunct in the year 2012. I never got to go there. Solid State Records used to be the label that I imagined my band would be on some day. But I’ve noticed that Jesus freaks today, even Sonny Sandoval and Bruce Fitzhugh, are using profanity and allowing it. There seems to be a decline in reverence for life under God. In 2000, I never would have imagined that in 2012, P.O.D. would release an f-word song called “I Am.” Coincidentally, 2012 was the same year that Cornerstone closed down. It seems that Jesus freak now means hyper-grace freak, or John Crowder freak, or antinomian freak, but not lordship freak. I would be a lordship salvation freak. I suppose, I would be a John Wesley, Wesleyan Jesus freak. Yeah, I can see how trying to be a holy saint, skater, metalhead would make me pretty awkward to be around. I am a peculiar man: “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9). Yes, I think so about myself. And I have no plans of changing aspects about my personality or my interests to mainstream myself, because I don’t find those things interesting: namely, team sports, cuss words, macho competitive attitudes, smug reserved intellectual pride, being fake nice rather than being that one guy who tells it like it is and makes everyone else feel uncomfortable; and how ’bout this: focusing on the negative for as much as, and as long as I want, regardless of what other people think–because it makes me feel good to address the negative until it is all addressed and done, like exorcising a demon.

UPDATE: 5/20/20

Recently I’ve been watching a documentary series called Metal Evolution, which is a history of metal TV show. It’s really helped me to tag down the bands that have shaped me. I’ve always known who these bands were, but seeing them in a historical progression has been cool. It seems my biggest styles have been thrash metal and nu metal, and then of course, the lyrics of Christian metal. It’s been hard for me to break out of any of these styles into other music genres, mainly because I feel like they really captured my personality in a lot of their songs.

SECULAR METAL

Metallica – thrash metal (James Hetfield)
Sepultura – thrash metal (Max Cavalera)
Nirvana – grunge / alternative rock (Kurt Cobain)
The Smashing Pumpkins – alternative rock (Billy Corgan)
Rage Against the Machine – nu metal (Zach de la Rocha)
Korn – nu metal (Jonathan Davis)
Deftones – nu metal (Chino Moreno)
Soulfly – nu metal (Max Cavalera)
Coal Chamber – nu metal (Dez Fafara)
Snot – nu metal (Lynn Strait)
System of a Down – nu metal (Serj Tankian)

CHRISTIAN METAL

Living Sacrifice – Christian thrash and death metal (Bruce Fitzhugh)
Project 86 – Christian nu metal (Andrew Schwab)
P.O.D. – Christian nu metal (Sonny Sandoval)
Disciple – Christian thrash metal (Kevin Young)
Embodyment – Christian thrash and death metal (Kris McCaddon; Sean Corbray)
Extol – Christian thrash metal (Peter Espevoll)
The Famine – Christian thrash and death metal (Kris McCaddon)

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Rebukes to Antinomianism

JOHN WESLEY: ACCUSED OF “LEGALISM” BY ANTINOMIANS

In 18th century England, John Wesley was confronted more than once by antinomianism. This weird word, along with the word “Antinomian,” which was a pejorative label applied to those who espoused the doctrine, not only was then, but is now, any heretical system of Christian soteriology that teaches Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of not only our past sins, but also of our unrepented present sins and unrepented future sins. Repentance and holiness are totally shunned under this teaching; and it is usually from an antinomian view that godly and strict Christians have had to endure the label of legalism and “Legalist.” Wesley was accused of this very much from the antinomians of his day: they used the words legalness, legal, and legality. Wesley debated in writing with a number of antinomians, first with Count Zinzendorf of the Moravians; and a number of other Calvinists. Today things are really no different. More often than not; I have observed Southern Baptists, or those who have a Baptistic type faith, tend to lean in an antinomian direction. With the EXCEPTION of John MacArthur and Paul Washer lordship salvation supporters, sometimes called Reformed Baptists or New Calvinists.

ANTINOMIANISM DEFINED

The basic ideas of antinomianism can broken down into the following:

1. Antinomianism is viewed as the gospel. Antinomians will not call the teaching antinomianism, they will call it the gospel of Jesus Christ. They think Jesus died on the cross, not only to forgive our sins, but to liberate us from any need to obey’s God’s commandments. This is what they mean by grace.

2. The antinomian view of salvation is anti-law in its ideas. The word antinomianism was first coined by Martin Luther when he wrote Against the Antinomians (1539) directed at Johannes Agricola. The “anti-” part is clear, which means to be against something, but the “nomian” part comes from the Biblical Greek word for “law,” which is nomos. So, the word Antinomian means “Antilawian,” and is a heretic Christian who thinks the gospel of Jesus Christ is something that is against the law of God entirely.

3. Antinomians misuse Paul’s word “law” in the Bible. Many of the apostle Paul’s uses of the word “law,” especially in Romans and Galatians, are difficult to understand without knowledge of Biblical background and context. My personal view is that this was one of Paul’s shortcomings. Especially in Galatians, it seems that he teaches against any use of God’s law. Paul didn’t qualify the word “law” ever; he only used the word “law” in the most general sense of the word. If people have a background knowledge of the first century Judaizer sect, then they will understand why Paul speaks against the “law” so much in Galatians. This was probably one of the reasons, if there ever was a legitimate one, for why the Catholic theologians during the Reformation were against the common people interpreting the Bible for themselves; they were bound to arrive at heretical conclusions, of which antinomianism is the worst, because it overthrows growing in personal holiness.

Antinomians from the time of Agricola, to the time of Zinzendorf, to people today like Zane Hodges, have usually refused to view the “law” that Paul’s gospel frees Christians from, as the Jewish ceremonial law of the Old Testament [John Wesley, “A Second Dialogue Between an Antinomian and His Friend,” The Works of John Wesley (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), vol. 10, p. 279]. Paul usually refers to circumcision when he speaks of the “law” being abolished, because he is referring to the Jewish ceremonial law, the rituals of Jewish life (Rom. 2; 3:1; 4:11; 1 Cor. 7:19; Gal. 2:12; 5-6; etc). Antinomians have always taken it to mean the whole law of God is being done away with by Paul, including both the ceremonial and the moral law of God. It may seem strange to devout Catholics, lordship Calvinists, holiness people, or Pentecostals, but antinomians will vehemently maintain against the use of moral commandments and laws in the Bible as providing any sort of ethical direction for Christian living. Even the Ten Commandments. However, Paul leaves for us a telling Scripture in 1 Corinthians 7:19: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts.” Here Paul makes a clear line between the ceremonial law and the moral law, the latter which Paul considers to be “keeping God’s commands” in the New Testament sense.

4. Antinomians misuse Paul’s word “impute” in the Bible. Antinomians misinterpret Biblical teaching on the imputed righteousness of Christ. They think it means that Christ’s righteousness only covers Christians like a cloak, in an official and external sense; and that no moral transformation ever occurs within the Christian’s heart by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Ethically speaking, they remain exactly the same person that they were before they had that faith in Christ; the only difference now, is that they claim to feel less guilty about their sins; and they feel protected from Hell. It’s theological immorality.

JOHN WESLEY’S REBUKES TO ANTINOMIANISM

“A Dialogue Between an Antinomian and His Friend” (1745)

1. Christians Should Do Theology! “Friend (Wesley)–Do you ever read the Bible? Does not God himself say to sinners, ‘Come now, and let us reason together?’ (Isa. 1:18). Does not our Lord reason continually with the Scribes and Pharisees; St. Peter with the Jews (Acts 2:14ff); and St. Paul both with the Jews and Gentiles? Nay, is not great part of his Epistles, both to the Romans and to the Galatians, and the far greatest part of that to the Hebrews, one entire chain of reasoning?” (p. 267). Wesley is here responding to an antinomian’s insistence on an anti-theological attitude and philosophy. The antinomian has to be unreasonable in order to keep his views, so he tends to shun Biblical and theological study, by labeling those who love theology as relying upon their “carnal reasoning,” “letter-learning,” and “head-knowledge” (pp. 267, 271, 274). Because it is through such study that he would become accountable for his beliefs; and find that those beliefs do not stand up to the test of God’s Word. Antinomians tend to live in fear of two things: 1. Going to Hell for following rules that have been abolished by the cross of Christ, rules which could be mistakenly established on the grounds of Bible study. 2. Missing out on experience of the Holy Spirit, who is perceived intuitively, and not through the faculty of intellectual reasoning. But this actually shows how insecure they are in their salvation; and how inexperienced they are with the Holy Spirit.

The second kind of antinomians have always tended to be charismatic, or what J. I. Packer calls in his Concise Theology, “Spirit-centered antinomians,” of which there are many today. I don’t think it would be wrong to put Rick Joyner in this category. In an article he wrote in 2012, called “You Shall Be Holy,” he uses no Scripture references to prove his points. He uses phrases like legalism, fear, lawlessness, and unsanctified mercy to explain what he views as a kind spectrum for Law and Grace in the life of a Christian. He says that Christians should seek a middle road between legalism and lawlessness and follow the principle of love in order to avoid bad behavior. I see his view as only partially true; and as too vague. Yes, love fulfills the law (Matt. 22:40; Rom. 13:8-13; Gal. 5:14), but the Biblical specifics of holiness are all too easily forgotten when Christians give themselves over to such vague ideas. What about pornography, profanity, humor, and sexuality? What about movies, music, generosity, and friendships? What about modesty, moderation, evangelism, sports, and jobs? All things like this, and many other specific things in the Christian life, things pertaining to Christian holiness and separation from the world, could be adequately answered if people adopted more of a Puritan and Wesleyan view of holiness. Such a view always consults the New Testament first to see if Christians should behave in accordance with the moral law of God on any issues in life. But if you want to cast aside reason and the Bible, and hold to a general rule of love in the middle road between “legalism” and “lawlessness,” like Joyner does, then well, that’s better than nothing: but its not fully Biblical and doesn’t really help to strap down the body of Christ to any specific set of moral standards, even the standards laid down by Jesus and the apostles.

2. Keeping God’s Law Is Not a Curse for Christians! “Antinomian–Galatians 3:13: ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.’ Friend (Wesley)–What is this to the purpose? This tells me, that ‘Christ hath redeemed us’ (all that believe) ‘from the curse,’ or punishment, justly due to our past transgressions of God’s law” (p. 271). It is not burdensome to keep God’s commandments if you love Jesus (1 John 5:3). So, the antinomian interpretation of Galatians 3:13, kind of assumes that person doesn’t really love the Jesus of the Bible, but an imaginary version of him. It is not a curse to keep God’s law, but a blessing: “He that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18, KJV). The Biblical Hebrew word for happy is the same one used for blessed, which is the opposite of being cursed and miserable. Jesus’ death on the cross provided a substitutionary atonement and punishment for the sins of the world, which means that the eternally miserable curse of Hell that is inflicted on mankind, due to a failure to conform to the strictness of God’s moral law, has been done away with for every repentant believer in Jesus. This is what Christians mean when they say they have been “redeemed,” or saved from Hell, and hence also redeemed from God’s curse, or the accusing power that the law of God has, which convicts and condemns sinners to an eternity in Hell. So, if anyone asks, “Why are so many people in Hell?” The answer could be given, “Because they failed to keep God’s law, and so are under the curse of God, because they refused the way of escape by justifying faith in the cross of Jesus.” But those who are in Christ, find it a blessing and also a necessity to keep God’s moral law to the best of their ability, with the help of God’s presence. Wesley said, “He redeemed them from the ‘condemnation of this law,’ not from ‘obedience to it.’ In this respect they are still, ‘not without law to God, but under the law of Christ'” (1 Cor. 9:21) (“A Second Dialogue,” p. 281).

3. Christians Must Grow in Holiness! “Friend (Wesley)–Does not a believer increase in holiness, as he increases in the love of God and man? Antinomian–I say, No. ‘The very moment he is justified, he is wholly sanctified. And he is neither more nor less holy, from that hour, to the day of his death. Entire justification and entire sanctification are in the same instant. And neither of them is thenceforth capable either of increase or decrease.’ Friend (Wesley)–I thought we were to grow in grace! Antinomian–‘We are so; but not in holiness. The moment we are justified, we are as pure in heart as ever we shall be. A new-born babe is as pure in heart as a father in Christ. There is no difference” (p. 276). This is totally ridiculous. The New Testament makes it clear that not only should Christians increase in their faith over time, but also in their adherence to the Word of God, and the principles of holiness. John 17:17: “Sanctify them by the truth; Your Word is truth.” Jesus said that sanctification comes through Bible study and obedience. This must be progressive and gradual, because nobody can know all the Bible at once. It takes time to learn its doctrines, to understand them, and apply them correctly to your life.

2 Corinthians 3:18: “We all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” This is very clear. It says Christians who practice contemplation (prayer), who worship God in Spirit and truth, and “see” in spirit the presence of God, that is, the shekinah glory, are also transformed into the image of Jesus–not instantly–but with “ever-increasing glory,” that is, the Christian transformation occurs in an ever-increasing way, progressively, on an upward curve, the more and more we become bearers of God’s presence. Holiness is improved on by learning and obeying Scripture, but also by Spirit-filled prayer; and I would argue it is here contemplative prayer that is the means of increasing sanctification, as the Catholic Church says.

2 Corinthians 7:1: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” The language of progression is clearly used here. I guess if you were really adamant, you could argue that “let us purify ourselves” is not speaking of a process of purification, but there should be no confusion with the phrase “perfecting holiness,” which is definitely talking about a process of perfection, or moral improvement. To “perfect” (purr-feckt) something, whether you’re perfecting your knowledge of mathematics or history, perfecting your sales skills, perfecting your knowledge of automobiles, or perfecting your personal morals–to perfect (purr-feckt) in this ongoing, increasing, progressive, improving sense, carries a totally different meaning than the word “perfect” (purr-ficht): which is to say a thing has no flaws in it–that it is perfect in every way. A math formula, for example, could be said to be perfect, because it totally lacks errors; certain bodybuilders may be in a perfect physical condition; the angels are perfectly holy (Luke 9:26); and the law of the Lord, which converts the soul, is perfect (Ps. 19:7). So, when 2 Corinthians 7:1 says that Christians should be “perfecting holiness out of reverence for God,” we should understand Paul means that holiness is a thing like math, history, or mechanics–it is something that can be perfected, or improved upon progressively over time, through learning more about it and trying to apply its teachings to your life: teachings which come from Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament.

Ephesians 4:15-16: “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” This also is very clear. Paul likens the Christian Church at large to the “body” of Jesus Christ. As we speak the truth, and as we exhibit the spirit of love, we will grow and mature in every respect, to become more like Jesus. This is extremely clear language. This assumes time is a sanctifying factor in the life of a Christian: and that over time, a baby Christian grows holier as it becomes a teen Christian, and then a young adult Christian, and then a middle aged Christian, and then a senior Christian. This does not automatically mean that elderly people are holy, but it does mean that the longer a person has been walking with Jesus, the holier and kinder they are likely to be.

All of these Scriptures abundantly show that antinomianism–the idea that there is no moral improvement in the Christian life–is a complete falsehood. Of course there is moral transformation! The Holy Spirit is supposed to be in the Christian’s heart! (Rom. 5:5). How can this NOT make a change happen? We admit it’s a struggle and a fight with the flesh (Rom. 7), but we are saying that sanctification also assumes the presence of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, love, and contemplative prayer. Its a fight that has the Holy Spirit, the supernatural power of God, as a helper.

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How Not to Be a Pastor

I am not a pastor and I don’t claim to be one, but as a Christian that’s been in a number of churches over the years, I think I have a pretty solid understanding of how not to be a pastor. I’ve studied the Bible as long as I’ve been a Christian, going on about 20 years now. And I think what needs to be said, is to at least point out some of the more popular problems that I’ve seen in pastoral ministry. This is not the first article like this that I’ve done, criticizing pastoral behavior, and it probably won’t be the last.

1. The Anti-Theological Spirit. The first thing that I would like to mention is the issue of theological downplaying. If anything should belong to pastoral ministry, it is the ministry of theology. The study of God’s Word and the delineation of Christian doctrine, is the primary task of a pastor (2 Tim. 2:16; 4:2; Tit. 1:9). If he hesitates to teach what is true and sound doctrine, then he hesitates to be a pastor. The primary pastoral function is teaching the Word of God. In so doing, Christians are given direction about how to approach God through prayer; and how to behave towards God and one another. A pastor needs to be a person who has what is called “black and white” thinking. If he’s unclear about any one subject, he needs to go to the Word of God for clarity; and the Word of God will bring that clarity. The pastor should be a shining light of truth in this sinful, dark, and confusing world (John 5:35). He should be the one that’s responsible for helping people to see things clearly, in the light of God’s Word. He should be the one that dispels confusion and darkness. He should be the one that, despite his sinful habits and imperfections, is always encouraging others to strive for perfection through walking after Christ (Heb. 6:1). He tells the truth from his own experience; and he tells it in light of God’s Word. The Bible is always his touchstone for everything that he says. Whether it’s in the pulpit or natural conversation. However, I’ve seen a trend among certain types of pastors that discourage “black and white” thinking. They prefer the grey areas. They prefer an antinomianism. They prefer too much grace. They prefer not talking about right and wrong, morals, ethical clarification. Such things are an embarrassment to them. Such things prevent them from watching their movies, listening to the music they like, having fun the way they’re used to. They don’t want to change these things. They don’t want to change how they approach rest and relaxation. They don’t want to change how they approach entertainment. They don’t want to change how they approach friendship building, rapport building, relationship building. They have a worldly mindset still. All they have learned are a couple of facts about the Bible. They’ve missed the main points. It’s like when Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former” (Matt. 23:23). These pastors strain at a gnat and swallow a camel (23:24). They tend to emphasize the minor things; and de-emphasize the major things. They emphasize that it’s important to have relationships with people. But they de-emphasize that those relationships need to be holy, and filled with the black and white moral absolutes which are found in God’s law, God’s Word, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. Neglecting the Doctrine of Hell. Hell proceeds from the first issue. Because antinomianism is so prevalent in pastoral ministry today–although it doesn’t go by that name–it goes under the idea of opposing legalism, or it goes by discouraging black and white thinking, or goes by emphasizing the word “grace” a lot. Antinomianism is still very alive today and it is often considered to be the gospel. Jesus is seen as Savior, but not as Lord. With the neglect of God’s law, also comes the neglect of Hell, and confusion about whether Hell is necessary in Christian theology or ministry. The reason why Hell exists in Christian theology, is because the justice of God breaks out in wrath when people break His laws, and Hell is the eternal punishment for impenitence, unbelief, and unrighteousness (Matt. 25:46). Jesus shed His blood on the cross, so that the unrighteousness that was stirred up from us breaking God’s law, inciting His anger, could somehow be atoned for: but because many pastors don’t like God’s law, and they neglect Hell, they can’t really preach the cross of Christ. They don’t quite understand its meaning; and don’t really understand why the blood of Christ is necessary to wash away their sins.

3. Neglecting Deliverance from Demons. The subject of demons and deliverance, is also treated by antinomian pastors, as something to be avoided. The more you delve into the subject of deliverance from demons, the more you will realize that it has to do with God’s law, and breaking God’s law, and sinning, and righteousness, and understanding moral absolutes. Only when people begin to pay attention to the righteousness of God’s Word, do they realize the presence of demons in their lives. Ephesians 2:2: “In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” You will find that the antinomian pastor, turns not only away from God’s law, and from preaching Hell, but also turns away from preaching deliverance. They tend to turn away from theology in general. They know that they have to study it, because it’s a sort of procedure that they have to follow, but they do it while rolling their eyes. It is not serious to them; neither are demons.

4. Adopting Stupid Church Fads. When pastors consistently neglect the law, and the testimony, Hell, demons and deliverance, and other types of moral absolutes in Scripture, what follows is that they will do whatever is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). What this means is, that they will start to adopt theologians and teachers which are sort of faddish, and popular, whose teachings don’t really chafe against the flesh, like a lot of the older preachers did, like John Wesley, Charles Finney, and the Puritans. But they’ll do whatever they think is right in their own eyes: and what this means, could be a number of things. 2 Timothy 4:3: “The time will come when people 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.”

5. Football Attitudes. One of the things that I’ve seen pastors do a lot of, which they think is alright, but it’s only in their own eyes, and does not come from Scripture, is overemphasizing the importance of football. Sure, it’s okay for people to have hobbies, but if pastors are going to choose a hobby, you would think that as Christians, they would choose one that didn’t encourage violence, angry short-tempered behavior, watching cheerleaders, immoral commercials during the Super Bowl, or ungodly rap music which sounds terrible. It’s hard for me to see how football culture, in any way, can relate to pastoral ministry, with all of the competition, arrogance, and egomania that it has about it. It’s hard for me to see how football in any way contributes to sanctification, or to ministry; and yet, how many pastors are bewitched by the National Football League (NFL)? The macho attitude is evident. These men can’t be approached. They’re not relational; they’re arrogant. Whether they’re overtly arrogant, or smugly reserved, they still think that they’re better than you, and that message does come across. 1 Timothy 4:8: “Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

6. Selling Christian Books in Church. The selling of books seems to be inappropriate, if done in a church. I’m not against writing. I think theological writing is greatly needed in pastoral ministry. Unfortunately, there is so little of this, that random people have to end up being touched by God Spirit to publish books. Back in the days of the Puritans, pastors like Richard Baxter always wrote theology. They were always working on some new some new theological book and getting ready to publish it. But in all of the writing that they did, I’m not aware that any of them sold their books at their churches. If this was the case, it seems to be a transgression against John 2:16: “To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!'” I would think that Christian theology books that are written by pastors, should only be sold in Christian book stores, or offered for free at churches, perhaps in a church library, but not sold there.

7. Resistance to Lay Ministry. The suppression of lay ministry is another disturbing thing that I’ve seen. With the exception of some very Wesleyan pastors who understand that lay preachers were at the core of John Wesley’s ministry, most pastors seem to absolutely shun the idea of lay people being involved in teaching the Word of God. Some churches are more open to this; and they will allow for cell groups or small groups where this can happen, and genuine Christian conversation, and friendships can develop. But how can it be that with the great majority of pastors, we find spiritual arrogance and an absolute unwillingness for other people in their church to share their thoughts about the Bible? “Stop talking,” they imply in such and so many words. “Just become part of the community,” and implied in this is, “Leave it for us to talk about God.” And so people can’t even process life by talking through their faith experiences. Everyone is just turned into ears and hands (1 Cor. 12:15-26)–listening to sermons and volunteering to clean up or act in some skit; and their tongues are cut out of their mouths. Acts 21:8-9: “Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.” They what? They prophesied: they spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; and they were not pastors.

8. Mean Pastors. Rude, mean, arrogant pastors. I’ve seen this in Assemblies of God frequently.  So ill-mannered. Nothing like Mr. Rogers with his air of kindness. Nothing like that dear country pastor Rev. Alden from Little House on the Prairie. What is wrong with people? Don’t they ever even read the teachings of Jesus! Don’t they ever get the sense that the Holy Spirit is kind? What is wrong with them? I’m not referring to people who are labeled “legalistic” or “strict” about Biblical rules of righteousness. Biblical rules teach kindness, when understood rightly. I’m not referring to people who get mad sometimes. I’m talking about people who are arrogant, because they are self-centered, egocentric, megalomaniac macho men. Arrogant just because they are arrogant men. Not because they have a theological view that makes them that way. Galatians 5:22: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness.” Insulting is not found in the list.

9. Manipulation to Volunteer. Manipulation to be a volunteer or being a consistent, faithful, giving church member, is something I’ve seen across the board in many churches; and I think it is just disgusting. 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income.” Sure churches always need more volunteers; sure churches always need more money. But if pastors trusted more in the providence of God for this, then they wouldn’t need to be speaking verbally to people to manipulate their actions, getting people all concerned about their responsibility to the church. Nine times out of ten, most people struggle with even trusting churches at all. It’s a miracle that you even have people attending your church! I say, if people want to volunteer, then put the opportunities out there, but don’t be urging it all the time; and don’t manipulate them into thinking that they’re going to be a leader some day; or even have their own church some day; or some kind of teaching position–when all you know in the back of your head is, you’re just trying to get them to clean up trash for some event. You don’t want to be their friend, but they are waiting for that to happen.

10. Rich People Honored, Not Spiritual People. Too much honor is given to the rich. The Bible says that you honor the man who has gay apparel (James 2:3). True ministry is not going to honor the rich, just because they have a lot of money, and can keep the church’s bills under control. Those people are usually the ones in need of the most spiritual help, because the cares of this world are weighing down upon them; and distracting them from the Holy Spirit. Yet at the same time, these are the people often given authority in the church, because they’ve got the money; and what better way for them to control the pastor: those people who are spiritually sick, usually because they have so much money and such small souls. Revelation 3:16-17: “Because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

In review, I would say that the biggest things that I’ve seen over the past 20 years, that bother me with pastors, are pride, arrogance, down putting, control, and manipulation; to get people involved in volunteering for menial tasks, while at the same time promising them the moon; and giving too much honor to people who have a lot of money, but who are at the same time spiritually sick. I’ve also seen that 90% of the pastors out there, are antinomian their persuasion towards God’s law, Hell, demons, and morals. We all struggle with sin, but it’s even more spiritually dangerous to be in a church, that’s controlling, cult-like, anti-moral, and not going to help you do the right thing when you stumble and fall.

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Sorting Out Teachings on Miraculous Gifts

The books and audio teachings listed below are an eclectic bunch. In my opinion, it is very challenging to teach comprehensively on the subject of miraculous gifts without borrowing from a variety of Christian spiritual traditions. To only focus on one tradition is to confine and limit our understanding of a subject which is mostly comprised of experiential content. But when teaching about experiences, we must also teach what is considered to be Christian orthodoxy. The very idea of borrowing from different Christian traditions begs the question: is this not heretical? Catholics consider Protestants to be heretics and vice versa. Conservative Pentecostals, like myself, generally view charismatic churches in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) as heretics.

If we were only to rely on Catholic teaching for miraculous gifts, we could turn to Augustin Poulain’s The Graces of Interior Prayer, where we would learn of things such as contemplation or listening to the Holy Spirit, and visions, and discernment. But if we stopped at Poulain, we’d end up believing in anti-Biblical things like venerating the dead and taking Mary as our intercessor before God. If we were to only look at what Assemblies of God has to say on the subject, we could go with Donald Gee’s Concerning Spiritual Gifts, which would define what certain gifts do, but little would be said about how to grow in and experience those gifts. There would also be no teaching on dreams and visions. If we were to rely only on what the Vineyard has to say, we could content ourselves with what John Wimber said in his Spiritual Gifts Seminar and Power Healing, but we would find still a lack of teaching on dream interpretation, and the nature of prophetic ministry.

If we were to side with the likes of Mike Bickle and IHOP, and borrow his teachings from Growing in the Prophetic, or buy into what he does entirely, we might be exposing ourselves to a kundalini spirit and drinking into the carnality and lack of spiritual discernment that has plagued charismatics ever since the Toronto Blessing movement happened in 1994. It might, however, be safer to allow John and Paula Sandford’s The Elijah Task to teach us about the nature of prophetic ministry. That book seems to have spawned the idea, and was first published in 1977, long before the Toronto fiasco came with its offshoots like Bethel Church, Todd Bentley, and John Crowder. But even if we were to stop at Sandford on the nature of dreams and visions, we might still find a shade of error, because of his Jungian expressions and use of the word “psychic,” which might lead us to balance that out with John Paul Jackson’s The Biblical Model of Dream Interpretation, which filters out a lot of false, egocentric, psychology interpretations of dreams that entered the church through Morton Kelsey and Herman Riffel.

To have a full and complete teaching on miraculous gifts, what you need firstly, is a definition of the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. Both Gee and Wimber did this. After all the definitions have been made; and the theory of what the gifts can accomplish for the Church has been solidified, the next step should be to explain what it is like to actually experience those gifts; and the final stages would involve interpreting, understanding, and using those gifts for personal direction from the Holy Spirit and for the edification and comfort of the body of Christ. Too many books only stop at defining the gifts in a theoretical way; especially Assemblies of God or Gospel Publishing House books; they take it from the approach of a detached Bible study and leave you with little to no guidance about how to receive these gifts into your life. The charismatic and the Catholic books will take you into the deeper waters of spiritual experience, but they often lack the theological orthodoxy that you get from the Assemblies of God books. Wimber, for example, taught against the Pentecostal understanding of the baptism in the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, 10, and 19. I feel that Poulain, Gee, and Wimber provide a solid understanding of miraculous gifts. And anywhere that Wimber left off at, namely dream interpretation, you may find that John Sandford, Ira Milligan, and John Paul Jackson hammered out.

But it’s important for me, as a Pentecostal, that in reaching out to both Catholic and Vineyard theology, and some dream-and-vision teachers that associated with Wimber for a time, to in no way lean to Catholicism as a means of salvation or to the charismaniacs of the Toronto Blessing, which end up flapping like seals and barking like dogs! I believe that the Holy Spirit and Biblical orthodoxy always agree with one another, but neither do I take it to mean that there are no dreams and visions today. Such things have to be rooted in the old evangelicalism—Wesleyan, Finneyite, Puritan revivalism. Not the watered down Southern Baptist type we see today, the kind that has “once saved, always saved” as its only creed.

I distrust any preacher that does not have a 17th or 18th century understanding of the Bible. Today, there is so much antinomian, universalist, no-lordship nonsense out there mixed together with pluralistic Hindu gurus, Native American shaman quotes, and New Age pop psychology, and gay theologians, together with tongue speaking, all jumbled together in confusion. It’s just heresy! Charismatics need all the miracles they can get, but they also need all the Bible they can get. Who will point them in the right direction? Anyone teaching on the gifts of the Spirit, coming from Bethel Church, or IHOP, or MorningStar Ministries, or Catch The Fire Toronto is highly suspect in my opinion. These movements have consistently shunned orthodox evangelicalism in favor of the vanity and attention of heretical enthusiasts. Sexually immoral teachers have been honored in their midst. The only exception I would make is Steve Thompson’s You May All Prophesy, which was published just before the Lakeland Revival; and after Bentley’s moral failure, Thompson had the integrity to leave MorningStar. Being that it is 2019, I would like to lay a special emphasis on warning against anything coming from Bill Johnson and Bethel Church. There is a lot of antinomianism and universalism coming out of that ministry; and because, through their Bethel Music, they are reaching into churches through praise and worship leaders, they are very popular and influential right now in charismatic churches. Although Bill Johnson’s God Is Good speaks against universalism in passing (p. 104), there is no doubt that many within his stream lean in that direction. Beni Johnson practices Christian yoga (Healthy and Free, p. 71), Judy Franklin thinks that the New Age movement has some pretty good ideas (The Physics of Heaven, p. 15), Heidi Baker and Jake Hamilton downplay the John 14:6 gospel message in the film Holy Ghost, and they continue to befriend John Crowder who is an outspoken “trinitarian” universalist, whatever that is supposed to mean. Clearly universalism is somewhere in the waters of Bethel Church’s reach, but so also are antinomian ideas. Jenn Johnson teaches against “black and white” thinking in one video, claiming that moral truth can operate on a gray scale: once again, pointing people away from Biblical law as the black and white absolute moral standard of right and wrong. Kris Vallotton admittedly does teach prophetic ministry there, but also borrows from Steve Thompson’s work, so there is no need to resort to Vallotton where Thompson has already succeeded. Bethel Church pushes an impure form of charismatic Christianity. I’d recommend being respectful and pick your battles with people ensnared by Bethel ideas, but I would personally urge people to avoid their teachings on YouTube, in books, etc.

True prophets shun such movements. Men like Andrew Strom, who explains in Why I Left the Prophetic Movement, that the lack of repentance preaching and holiness preaching combined with bizarre behavior, is what turned him off from what is now called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Andrew Strom points us to men like John Wesley, Charles Finney, Smith Wigglesworth, Leonard Ravenhill, and David Wilkerson as men of God to frame our spirituality around. I tend to agree with him about this. But to add one additional observation: there is little to no teaching on dreams and visions, dream interpretation, prophetic ministry (receiving and giving words of knowledge) in the writings of these men. You have to look to John Sandford, John Paul Jackson, Ira Milligan, and John Wimber to get teaching on that.

You have to borrow to a degree, outside of your comfort zone of perfect evangelical revival theology; otherwise, you’re not going to get the full view on miraculous gifts. A lot of what Strom is pointing to is evangelicalism, which is Gospel-centered salvation theology. But when it comes to miraculous gifts, we are dealing with things such as stillness, quieting the mind, journaling dreams and visions, interpreting prophetic symbols, and sharing supernatural information with other Christians in order to encourage their faith, sometimes to the point of praying for physical healing and casting out demons. Smith Wigglesworth is the only prominent teacher mentioned by Strom that really straddled both evangelicalism and prophetic charismatic experiences. His writings are helpful, but I think he does not describe enough about how to experience the gift of prophecy for yourself. A lot of what he writes comes across like the book of Acts or a succession of miracle stories. I also think that a lot of the Catholic saints had miracle experiences that went much further than Wigglesworth describes; and any study of the miraculous gifts should take them into consideration as well. Although the Catholic Church is wrong about Mary and a few other things—a lot of their teaching is rooted in the church fathers, is orthodox, and agrees with the Bible.

FURTHER READING ON MIRACULOUS GIFTS

Alexander, Archibald. Thoughts on Religious Experience. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967. Chapter 7: “Considerations on Dreams, Visions, Etc.”

Boys, Thomas. The Suppressed Evidence: or, Proofs of the Miraculous Faith and Experience of the Church of Christ In All Ages, from Authentic Records of the Fathers, Waldenses, Hussites, Reformers, United Brethren, &c. London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1832.

Cruz, Joan Carroll. Mysteries Marvels Miracles: In the Lives of the Saints. Charlotte, NC: TAN Books, 1997. As with the books by Poulain and Devine, I will have to disapprove of Marianism, or devotion to dead saints; but while ignoring that, I think there was some genuine activity of the Holy Spirit among the Catholic saints.

Deere, Jack. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993. Debunks cessationism; and argues for the continuation of miraculous gifts, apostles, and prophets in the church today.

Frodsham, Stanley. Smith Wigglesworth: Apostle of Faith. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1948.

Gee, Donald. Concerning Spiritual Gifts. Revised. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1980.

Gordon, A. J. The Ministry of Healing. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2020.

Jackson, John Paul. The Biblical Model of Dream Interpretation. North Sutton, NH: Streams Publications, 2006. CDs.

Jennings, Daniel. The Supernatural Occurrences of John Wesley. Sean Multimedia, 2012.

Howie, John. The Scots Worthies. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1995. Protestant reformers that experienced miracles while being persecuted.

Lewis, David. Healing: Fiction, Fantasy, or Fact? London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989. Found that John Wimber had a 30% hit rate for dramatic healings.

MacNutt, Francis. Healing. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 1974. This impacted Wimber’s views on healing.

––––––. Deliverance from Evil Spirits. Grand Rapids, MI: Chosen Books, 1995.

Milligan, Ira. Understanding the Dreams You Dream. Shippensburg, PA: Treasure House, 1997. The best book I know of that can help evangelical charismatics to interpret dreams and visions with Biblical prophetic symbolism.

Poulain, Augustin. The Graces of Interior Prayer. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1950. Catholic mystical theology on contemplation and visions.

Sandford, John and Paula. The Elijah Task. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2006.

Strom, Andrew. Why I Left the Prophetic Movement. RevivalSchool, 2007.

Thompson, Steve. You May All Prophesy. Fort Mill, SC: MorningStar Publications, 2007.

Wigglesworth, Smith. Ever Increasing Faith. Revised Edition. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1971.

Wimber, John. Power Evangelism. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1986.

––––––. Power Healing. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1987.

––––––. Discover Wimber. 2 vols. MP3 audio files from vineyardresources.com on a USB drive. Teachings on physical healing (10 hours), miracles and church growth (14 hours), miraculous gifts (10 hours), and casting out demons (14 hours).

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A Biblical View of Politics

My kingdom is not of this world.  –John 18:36

I’ve recently got into the habit of reading the daily newspaper online. Political and football news always seem to take center stage. In response to that, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The meaning of this statement is pretty simple. But so many of the Religious Right Christians out there fighting the battle against abortion and gay rights, which are both extremely bad sins that need to be done away with, I think often lose sight of the larger issues: such as living by faith in the Gospel, experiencing life in the Holy Spirit, and developing personal ethical standards. They get wrapped up in politics, and they forget the words of Jesus, which in effect were, “Politics are not My thing,” or “the U.S. government is not of the Gospel,” or how about, “My heavenly kingdom is not of the world of politics.”

Jesus wasn’t into politics. They tried to make him a king once, but he ran away into the mountains. The only times he said anything about government leaders, it was either satirical, disinterested, or rebuking. Herod he called a fox: a predatory animal that only comes out at night, often a symbol of a sly deceptive person. Pilate he corrected, saying that all of his political authority was given to him from God up above. And he’ll admit that, with Paul, that governmental authority does come from God (Rom. 13). But that’s about it. He does not go to say that world governments are of God, or godly, or even suggest that governments have anything to do with the Gospel or life in the Holy Spirit.

Separation of church and state? Was Jesus about that? You kind of get the idea that he was—if not legally, then at least practically so far as what Christians should be dwelling on, on a day to day basis. I’d think that today, Jesus would be focused more so on what the Southern Baptist, Assemblies of God, United Methodist, and other evangelical churches are doing right now, and how their missions are being carried out. I think Jesus cares about that 90% more than he does about what is going on in Washington D.C. Not that he doesn’t care about the government at all. Sure he does, but it definitely comes out as a secondary or maybe even tertiary issue in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Jesus cares more about missionaries than politicians. Of that I can be sure. Does he love them more? Maybe. Did he love John more than the other disciples? Maybe. Peter, James, and John were in His inner circle. What about the other apostles? Or about Judas Iscariot, whom he called a devil? God loves everybody. Jesus died for everyone. But not everyone repents from their sins and puts their trust in the cross for their salvation. Not everyone embraces their own cross either. I think God feels more of an affinity for those who care about His evangelistic cause on the earth: living out and preaching the Gospel. Not so much for those who lobby for Republicans and Democrats. Not at all. I don’t see Jesus having much in common with those types of people at all.

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