16th November, 2010 - Gordon Windridge writes:
Dear 'Christian Expositor'
I stumbled across your website by accident this morning, and as a mature Born-again, Spirit-filled believer with many years under my belt my impression of your website is that it is divisive and that it does the Christian Church no credit. I was particularly appalled by your article 'Savage Wolves.' Now I am a firm believer in allowing everyone their own point of view, and I fully recognise that until the Lord's return there will never be a perfect church. Indeed, were I to discover one, I would never join it, for it would then cease to be perfect. It therefore follows that there are bound to be differences of opinion on things within the church, and over the years I have come to respect the points of view of others who believe slightly differently to myself. For example, whilst in the RAF I was sent to the Falkland Islands in 1987 for a period of 4 months. During this time I shared fellowship with Anglican brethren, and despite my background being entirely free church, I came to enjoy the Anglican services and came to know and respect my Anglican brothers and sisters a lot more. Similarly, whilst serving near Chester I was privileged to share in several united services where Christians of all denominations and persuasions came together, from Roman Catholic, through to the Charismatic groups, and we all learned to respect one another. Had we chosen to dwell on them, there were many differences between us which no doubt could have led to many severe fallings out, which would have completely negated the purpose for which we came together. That being to Worship, Praise and Adore the One who gave His life that we might live, and then rose victorious over the grave.
Your website, in my opinion, serves to stir up all of the divisions in the Church today, and does nothing to encourage believers to come together, despite their differences, to honour our Lord Jesus Christ. In this, I feel you are in error, and I would urge you to consider exactly what effect your website is having upon the Church. Have you taken the time to ask the Lord about what you have published, and what He feels about it?
Please, I would urge you, for the sake of Christ and His Church, look again at everything you have published on your website, and prayerfully consider each article, whether it is good for it to be there, and does this build up the Church, or serve to tear it apart.
Yours in Christ.
22nd December, 2010 - TCE replies:
thank you for taking the time to share your viewpoint and concerns.
You write: '... my impression of your website is that it is divisive and that it does the Christian Church no credit. I was particularly appalled by your article 'Savage Wolves.'
Since we have given detailed Scriptural reasons and quoted FACTS (often word for word from testimony or from appropriate writings) in articles, including 'Savage Wolves,' we would have expected you to be able to refute at least one point instead of simply declaring that you are 'appalled.' Most church-goers are 'appalled' when they discover that deception occurs - even in their church. But actually doing something about it, as Scripture clearly instructs, is beyond most 'Christians' inhabiting contemporary churches.
Since we have explained our actions in extreme detail within the pages you mention we will limit our response to areas slightly outside those supplied in replies to other e-mails of a similar nature to your letter.
The truth of the matter is that you are confusing the correction of error, as clearly demonstrated in the Bible, with the acceptance of a variety of errors which clearly had significant affect on ministries that you probably have little or no problem with accepting. While you clearly accept a liberal, ecumenical, view of the contemporary church and have no problem with meeting with almost anyone who claims the name 'Christian' it is perfectly clear from Scripture that 'factions' and 'divisive people' are to be removed from the true church and not just tolerated and allowed to deceive and corrupt true believers.
If your view was correct why did the apostle Paul name people whose view departed from the Biblical truth that was still being written even as he exhorted the church to repent and deal with these men?
We made the errors of thinking such as yours very clear in these sections, including these words on our pages:
'Paul's approach to discernment and correction was faultless. Peter and Barnabas weren't the only ones he admonished. To them we can add Hymenaeus, Philetus, Demas, Phygellus, Homogenes and Alexander (cf. 1 and 2 Timothy). The beloved John makes the readers of his third Epistle aware of the problems caused by Diotrephes. This follows the pattern of the Old Testament where we should note that all of the prophets, from Moses and Joshua onwards, were addressing error and named those who were erring - whether it was personal sin, such as David with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12), or Micaiah prophesying defeat for wicked king Ahab (1 Kings 22) - or a letter from Elijah the prophet to wicked king Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21) in which God judged him ... '
Christian 'giants' of the past regularly emphasised the need for sanctification and holiness - why doesn't the contemporary church heed these warnings?:
A doctrine which is needful to salvation can never be too sharply developed, or brought too fully into light....He who supposes that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide justification and forgiveness of sins for His people, has yet much to learn...[and] is dishonouring our blessed Lord and making Him only half a Saviour. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people's souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit...to sanctify them.... The notion of purgatory after death, which shall turn sinners into saints, is a lying invention of man, and is nowhere taught in the Bible. We must be saints before we die, if we are to be saints afterwards in glory....We need the work of the Holy Spirit as well as the work of Christ; we need renewal of the heart as well as the atoning blood; we need to be sanctified as well as to be justified....When an eagle is happy in an iron cage, when a sheep is happy in the water, when an owl is happy in the blaze of noonday sun, when a fish is happy on the dry land - then, and not till then, will I admit that the unsanctified man could be happy in heaven. (J. C. Ryle, 1817-1900)
While you, 'as a mature Born-again, Spirit-filled believer with many years under [your] belt' are '... a firm believer in allowing everyone their own point of view' the Bible clearly says we are not to tolerate those who bring 'another Jesus' and 'another gospel' (2 Cor 11v4; Galatians 1v6-9)! While you are content to 'fellowship' with those in darkness (particularly Roman Catholics but, inevitably, many others in the 'ecumenical movement' who embrace any number of errors) it is doubtlessly the analysis of un-Biblical and deceived thinking (as exposed by the Word - Ephesians 6v17; Hebrews 4v12) that you object to while you tolerate colossal doctrinal and behaviour errors, in clear opposition to Scripture.
You write: 'Had we chosen to dwell on them, there were many differences between us which no doubt could have led to many severe fallings out, which would have completely negated the purpose for which we came together. That being to Worship, Praise and Adore the One who gave His life that we might live, and then rose victorious over the grave.'
Your meetings with the groups you describe are doubtlessly all very positive and ecumenical - in appearance. 'Christian' lobbyists in the USA, exemplified by Warrenism, have carried your example to the point where they are willing to work with Moonies, Mormons (e.g. Glen Beck), and all others, in favour of bringing traditional values back to America, while in the UK such ecumenism has led to meetings with Papists and many branches of paganism. In defence of such folly, 'Christian' leaders stoutly defend the correctness of working with all those who call Jesus 'Lord' while forgetting the words of Christ: 'Many will say to me...Lord, Lord, have we not...in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me...' (Matthew 7v22-23). You may be too blind to see it, but there are multitudes of Mormons and Roman Catholics (to say nothing of many Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, the 'Christian cults,' et al) who call Jesus 'Lord' but who are not saved.
The Catholics you meet with have 'another gospel' of salvation by works and ritual through the essential mediation of Rome, therefore for you to write that you 'have come to respect the points of view of others who believe slightly differently to myself' while including Papists among those you fellowship with, makes it difficult to take any of your claims seriously. Ironically, as we approach 'Christmas,' we will see another emphasis made on 'baby Jesus,' used to perpetuate one of the most serious Catholic heresies: the pernicious myth of Christ's subservience to His mother, which Roman Catholicism has deliberately promoted for centuries. Mary certainly should be called 'blessed' as the mother of our Lord - but she is not 'Co-Mediatrix' and 'Co-Redemptrix' as Rome teaches. In Catholic cathedrals throughout the world, for example, the astute observer notices the paintings, statuary, and stained glass giving Mary the dominant role. She is even at times shown on the cross as our Redeemer. Jesus is either a helpless babe on His mother's breast, a small child between her knees, or a lifeless victim of the Cross in her arms. Never is she in subjection to Him, and rarely if ever is He shown in the triumph of His resurrection. She is the 'Queen of Heaven,' while Jesus remains a child subject to her direction. This is the true emphasis in the hearts, minds, and spirits of those you believe you are meeting with to 'Worship, Praise and Adore the One who gave His life that we might live, and then rose victorious over the grave'. Can you really believe this when Rome typically portrays, in 'beautiful' stained-glass windows, Mary and Jesus together on a cloud (i.e., in heaven) with tormented souls in the flames of purgatory below them, their arms extended upward in supplication. Do they cry out to Christ for help? No, they are appealing to Mary who is depicted wearing the regal crown. Repeatedly, Jesus, the Lord of Glory who triumphed over Satan at the Cross and now sits at the right hand of the Father is depicted as a very young child standing between the 'Queen of Heaven's' knees! No wonder the souls in 'purgatory' do not appeal to Him for help. At the bottom of the beautiful stained-glass depiction of this abomination are the words: Mère Marie, sauvez nous! ('Mother Mary, save us!').
Such heresy does not originate in the imaginations of the artists but in tradition and dogma not only tolerated but promoted by the Roman Catholic Church. The fear of purgatory is very real to a Catholic, and 'Mary' has provided an escape for those faithful to her. She allegedly appeared to St. Simon Stock on July 16, 1251, and gave him what is known as 'The Great Promise': 'Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular [two pieces of brown cloth containing Mary's promise on one, her picture with 'Baby Jesus' on the other, worn one in front, one in back, connected over the shoulder by two strings] shall not suffer eternal fire.' Like the Mormon's magic underwear, the Catholic's scapular will supposedly accomplish what the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ could not. In 1322, Pope John XXII received a further promise from 'Mary' known as 'The Sabbatine Privilege': 'I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in Purgatory [who died wearing the scapular], I shall free.' St. Simon Stock's famous prayer ends with this blasphemy: 'O Sweet Heart of Mary, be our salvation!'
Ironically, Christmas offers a rare opportunity to share the true gospel of Jesus Christ and to expose and correct the ecumenical and confused picture it presents annually to the world. Millions are seduced into thinking they are Christians because they have sentimental feelings for the 'baby Jesus' (the last 'survey' in the UK apparently found that more than 70% of the population claim that they are Christians). Of course, the Word of the Lord, Jesus Christ to those who believed on Him proves something altogether different:
'If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free' (Jn 8v31-32).
It is that truth that we are called upon to proclaim in clarity and power and which separates the sheep from the goats - real Christians from unbelievers - and pseudo-Christians. It is not possible to truly worship God outside of this truth (John 4v23-24):
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
We are fully cognizant with the strong emphasis in the New Testament on the unity of the church and dealt with the subject on this page and other places (see search engine). But is your ecumenical approach Scriptural?
Jesus' goal is that 'there shall be one flock, one shepherd' (John 10v16), and He prays for all future believers 'that they may all be one' (John 17v21). This unity will be a witness to unbelievers, for Jesus prays 'that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me' (John 17v23). Paul reminds the Corinthians that they are 'called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours' (1 Cor. 1v2). Then Paul writes to Corinth, 'I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment' (1 Cor. 1v10; cf. v. 13). He encourages the Philippians, 'complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind' (Phil. 2v2). He tells the Ephesians that Christians are to be 'eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace' (Eph. 4v3), and that the Lord gives gifts to the church 'for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ' (Eph. 4v12-13). How do you propose that ALL of the factions, divisions and denominations you meet with fulfil these obligations to the Word of God - which is the only source that the Spirit will use to bring about such unity?
Paul can command the church to live in unity because there already is an actual spiritual unity in Christ which exists among genuine believers. He says, 'There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all' (Eph. 4v4-6). And, though the body of Christ consists of many members, those members are all 'one body' (1 Cor. 10v17; 12v12-26).
Because they are jealous to protect this unity of the church, the New Testament writers give strong warnings against those who cause divisions:
I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. (Rom. 16v17-18)
Note - it is those who are 'in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught' who are 'to be avoided! We most definitely are not to ignore or accept any teaching or action that is contrary to Biblical truth and we have clearly and comprehensively detailed the doctrinal errors we stood against in our web-pages - if you can show us where TCE have been in opposition to doctrine from the Word of God we will correct those errors. We do not claim to be faultless, but strive continuously to be Bereans (Acts 17v11) and follow the Word as closely as possible.
Paul opposed Peter to his face because he separated from Gentile Christians and began eating only with Jewish Christians (Gal. 2v11-14). By your reasoning Paul should have quietly acquiesced to Peter's preference for dining companions! Scripture warns us that those who promote 'strife ... dissension, party spirit ... shall not inherit the kingdom of God' (Gal. 5v20-21). And Jude warns that those who 'set up divisions' are 'worldly people, devoid of the Spirit' (Jude 19). These divisions are caused by opposition to 'sound doctrine' (1 Tim. 1v10; 2 Tim. 4v3; Tit. 1v9; 2v1) and we most definitely are not to seek unity with such people!
The New Testament emphasises the unity of believers and commands us to separate from unbelievers. Paul's inspired words: 'Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them' (2 Cor. 6v17) are in support of his opening command of that section, 'Do not be mismated (yoked) with unbelievers' (2 Cor. 6v14). Paul also tells Timothy that he is to 'avoid such people' (2 Tim. 3v5), referring to unbelievers who are 'lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it' (2 Tim. 3v4-5). He says that these people are 'men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith' (2 Tim. 3v8). There is also church discipline that requires separation from an individual who is causing trouble within the church (Matt. 18v17; 1 Cor. 5v11-13), and there are also the reasons Paul gives for Christians separating into 'factions' over doctrinal differences involving serious heresy, as we discussed in detail on our pages:
'...we are in fact called by Scripture to ensure that factions exist (1 Corinthians 11v19) to prove who is right! In the contemporary church there are few factions because the false unity of ecumenism has done its work. Though differences are irreconcilable, and wrong belief condemns its adherents to an eternity separated from God, the modern church will sing 'Halleluiahs' while brother's burn.'
These passages on church unity tell us that, in addition to working for the purity of the visible church, we are also to work for the unity of the visible church. Yet such unity does not require one worldwide church government over all Christians. In fact, the unity of believers is often demonstrated quite effectively through voluntary co-operation and affiliation among Christian groups. Moreover, different types of ministries and different emphases in ministry may result in different organizations, all under the universal headship of Christ as Lord of the church. Therefore the existence of different denominations, mission boards, Christian educational institutions, college ministries, etc., is not necessarily a mark of disunity of the church (though in some cases it may be), for there may be a great deal of co-operation and frequent demonstrations of unity among such diverse bodies as these. There should not be a worldwide government of the church, because the New Testament pattern of church government never shows elders having authority over any more than their own local congregations. In fact, even in the New Testament the apostles agreed that Paul should emphasize missionary work to the Gentiles while Peter would emphasize missionary work to the Jews (Gal. 2v7), and Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways for a time because of a disagreement over whether they should take Mark with them (Acts 15v39-40), though certainly they had unity in every other way.
However, there is a so-called unity today that is positively destructive to the true gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The early church had something that many churches today have lost: Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see whether these things were so (Acts 17v11). As we have made clear on our web-pages, we cannot follow people who are allowed to act as 'gurus' with the approval of un-Scriptural denominational officials and lukewarm nominal Christians. The Greek word for heresy does not simply mean doctrinal error. The real meaning refers to someone who is hyper-schismatic, someone who forms a faction. The book of Galatians speaks directly to the sin of 'party spirit̓ in which a league is formed which is not of God̓s Spirit, but which claims to have a corner on truth. Everyone outside the group is a second-class believer, or second-class Christian.
The only real basis of truth is found in the Bible. In the 'best' churches you will obviously find some things which are in error as well as some people in error; and even in 'bad' churches you will find some things done Biblically and some people following the Word - as the seven churches in Revelation show. 'Party spirit', or a tendency to form factions, is a 'deed of the flesh̓ (Galatians 5v19-21) but, as we have shown, there are two kinds of division and 1 Corinthians 11v19 demonstrates that there have to be factions among Christian fellowships to prove what is true.
Failure to follow this Biblical admonition has resulted in error pouring into the church through such major deceptions as ecumenism which is, of course, a false unity not of God̓s Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the 'Spirit of Truth' (John 15v26) and you simply cannot build the unity of the Spirit on error. To unite with churches that teach salvation comes through 'sacraments,̓ instead of by being born again and that practice transubstantiation and praying to the dead, is clearly un-Biblical and immoral. That is not the unity of the Spirit, for Bible believing Christians cannot unite with the false religious system of this world.
It is clearly wrong for Bible believing Christians and churches to be inordinately divided from each other, but unity of the Spirit is based on a common experience of God̓s grace and salvation in Jesus, and commitment to the authority of His Word. We have detailed how fellowships have gone against Scriptural truth and chosen to support their 'guru' and put his authority and doctrines above the exhortation of Scripture. But truth becomes a lie when people make the truth of the 'guru' the basis for all other truths. The one Biblical basis for all truth is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ died; Christ rose from the dead; Christ is coming again. The cross, the empty tomb, and the Mount of Olives is the basic truth upon which all other truths must be built. All other truths must be centrally predicated on the truth of Jesus.
Even the truth about the Holy Spirit has been distorted into an un-Biblical picture by the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is pictured for us in the Genesis account (Genesis 24) of Abraham sending his servant to get a bride for his son Isaac. Isaac the son corresponds to Jesus; Abraham corresponds to the Father; and the servant is the Holy Spirit. The Father sent his Servant to prepare a bride for His Son, from amongst His own people. The Holy Spirit is always a servant who points people to Jesus.
In many contemporary churches the Holy Spirit is amplified above Jesus as congregations sing choruses of: 'Come Holy Spirit' and 'Holy Spirit we worship You.' The Holy Spirit is never prayed to in the Bible. He is only worshipped in the context of the Triunity of the godhead, as part of the Trinity, but He is never prayed to directly. And so a truth becomes a lie. Instead of Jesus being the central truth upon which all other truth is based, another truth is put in the place of Jesus and the false teaching results in all kinds of charismatic excesses and un-Biblical doctrine.
The Bible says (Hosea 4v6): 'My people perish for a lack of knowledge,' and people today are perishing for a lack of knowledge. There is no doubt that a consensus of people who would describe themselves as 'Christian' in today's Britain would parallel those who use the same description in the USA - a nation that is much more familiar with wearing the 'heart on the sleeve'. A considerable number who would claim to be Christian would also deny the fundamentals of the Christian faith and believe that there are 'many paths to heaven.' Figures in the USA would suggest that such 'believers' are in excess of 50% of those claiming to be 'Christian'. Knowing this to be true in so many fellowships, which ones should you fellowship with if they reveal themselves to be supporters of un-Biblical leaders and their doctrines? There obviously comes a time when it is Biblically right to separate yourself from unbelievers and those who support such leaders and doctrines. But first the believer needs to defend the Word of God before these people and make the truth clear to them. If they reject the truth, preferring to accept the lie, and prove themselves incapable of defending their own actions and beliefs, as they did in every case detailed in 'Savage Wolves,' they sometimes do you a favour by throwing you out of their pseudo-cult! Those who call on us to make 'peace' with the heretics and their supporters, as described in 'Savage Wolves', ignore the fact that the Bible is clear that 'peace' cannot be sought or obtained with 'the world' (James 4v4) - and those who wish to run their Christianity by the world's standards are to be avoided!
The church has clearly lost the spirit of the Bereans and now accepts what the 'gurus' say simply because they seem to be right - at least some of the time. Scripture warns us:
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment (James 3v1).
Passion for unity, at the expense of doctrine, means that many churches and their denominations welcome into their 'unity', without question, Roman Catholics, Quakers, and many other groups that show a vestige of 'Christianity'. Through 'Promise Keepers' the Mormon cult is now being accepted. We have heard the cry from Cardiff pulpits that the people of the city will know we have 'unity' by the love we show to one another - while the leaders meet with Roman Catholics. Is it 'love' to allow such as Roman Catholics to go to a lost eternity because they accepted 'another gospel' (Galatians 1v6-9) through another Christ (2 Corinthians 11v4) that the Bible does not teach? With a commitment not to violate the theologies of members and to 'no evangelism' as an unwritten promise, groups such as Promise Keepers follow the lead of many of our churches and embrace an ecumenism not experienced since the Reformation. Furthermore, Rome admits in its ecumenical dialogues that the road to Christian unity is the road back to Rome while harbouring the Vatican's age old political ambitions! For this reason Rome will never deal with evangelical theologians or leaders who have been born again and left the Roman Catholic Church, because they know the errors of Rome and recognise it as the enemy of Christ. Those who enter into ecumenical unity with Rome, men like those of the Baptist Union, mislead the Church into a unity that also joins liberal Protestantism in cultivating unity with religions that worship false gods. In Europe and America this trend is also becoming increasingly political in scope and will ultimately become a prelude to the rise of Babylon predicted in the Book of Revelation.
TCE: here we enclosed the material sent to 'Hope' - see previous mail - page a, b and c
(Continued on page 259)