177 thoughts on “Church Discussion”

  1. Mark,

    Consider this verse:

    “[Jhn 10:16 KJV] 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] ONE shepherd.”

    This is our Lord Jesus Christ speaking.

    I am not a bible worshipper.

    Jesus IS the word of God, sharper than any two edged sword. It is HE who is alive and the discerner of thoughts of the heart.

    I don’t read Paul‘s ONE instance where he used the words “some pastors” and think, “well, Paul did say that Christ would give us some (a few) pastors to guide and lead us DESPITE Jesus saying there’s ONE Shepherd (same word POIMEN).

    I’m not one of those “well if the bible says it then that settles it” Christians who ignores things which appear to contradict.

    And as I’ve said before, I do not believe the body of Christ DOES NOT have overseers and guides IN THE FORM of godly, mature elder believers.

    But these people are not salaried religious professionals like priests and popes and bishops and any other name you want to give to a self appointed ruler over the sheep fold of Jesus Christ.

    If HE GAVE us indeed SOME (a few) ie, not many ‘shepherds’ (surprisingly translated pastors in this sole verse) then you can bet your life on it that THEY DO exist.

    But I’m guessing they are highly likely not in the shape and form that we think they are.

    That is, they’re not the bible college grads with no life experience who love Centre stage with their lengthy “dear father god father lord thanks Jesus amen oh father god” waffley prayers and polished sermons, who are earning 100k plus per year to serve God’s people.

    There are servants in the body of Christ.

    Guiding and tending to his flock.

    He is the great shepherd of he one fold.

    And if HE has given a few people or a few shepherds this task… then he’s done it.

    And people don’t self appoint to do it.

    We aren’t building his Ekklesia.

    He is.

    And please don’t accuse us of leading you and others on some word game chase.

    I’m a genuine believer who seeks the lord and shares Christ. I’m not playing games mark. Your snide comment makes it sound like you hate being confronted with a challenging view to your love of Institutional Christian Religion.

    🤢

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  2. Amos wrote,

    “Do you have “apostles and prophets” where you fellowship?
    If you do NOT have “apostles and prophets”*
    Why do you have **”pastors/teachers?””

    Amos, the Bible never required that the apostles/prophets/pastors, etc all have to be in the same place at the same time.

    Here’s the logical fallacy—saying that all brick and mortar churches must be wrong unless we can prove that apostles, prophets, pastors etc are all at the same place at the same time. That’s a huge jump in reasoning that doesn’t make any sense.

    According to the Bible, these offices are needed to help “equip the saints for works of ministry to build up the body of Christ.”
    Ephesians 4:12 (BSB)

    I agree with Salty that there’s a huge difference between self-appointed pastors and those that God has chosen and gifted. No one here is saying you have to support the self-promoted ones.

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  3. Avid, “bricks and mortar churches”.

    What is this referring to?

    The word Church is a reference to the called out people of God.

    That means the people who attend those “bricks and mortar buildings” may be members in particular of the Ekklesia in that town, but the meeting itself or the organisation is not the Ekklesia.

    The members remain a part of the Ekklesia even when not in fellowship or conference.

    Christ is building whatever his Ekklesia is.

    It’s singular.

    I will build my singular Ekklesia.

    The question is, what just what is he building?

    1 Peter: a ‘spiritual’ HOUSE.

    No bricks and mortar ‘churches’ slash ‘house of the Lord’.

    It’s his people.

    Christ is building up His kingdom in the hearts of his people globally and we do not need bricks and mortar buildings to assemble with other believers for fellowship nor do we need men to spoon feed us their version of doctrine and pay for the privilege.

    The NT says over and over that God will teach his people. The Holy Spirit seems to be dead and buried in Christendom. For everyone is learning not from some teachers but every man has heaped up many for him or herself.

    Where is the man or woman who goes into their bedroom and kneels before their spirit Father and prays for him to teach and guide them.

    Here’s a person I’d be keen to fellowship with.

    You’d learn a thing or two from them.

    Self appointed pastors or leaders aren’t in Scripture unless you count Diotrophes.

    He loved to have the preeminence amongst them.

    Sound familiar?

    A true pastor would not take a title to take the preeminence from among the people of God.

    I am yet to meet a so called Pastor who is genuine and humble and doesn’t take money from the sheep of Christ to serve.

    Where’s that guy?

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  4. Salty,

    Have you ever read the book—Tramp For the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom? You’ve probably read The Hiding Place. Both are really powerful books. Most of us here know the story of how Corrie and her family saved lives in Holland during a very dark time in history. Then they were betrayed and arrested.

    In the book Tramp—Corrie writes about how her worst fear was being sent to a German concentration camp. As long as she was in prison in Holland she felt safe. But then the day came that her and her sister were loaded onto a train and shipped right where she had heard so many horrific stories about.

    Corrie describes how they didn’t have any water for three days during the trip because every time the train cars doors were opened and a bucket of water given, only the women by the door got it all. Plus there were so many women crammed together that they couldn’t lay down. Women would faint in a sitting position because there was no room.

    When they arrived at the camp, it was a brutal place. Most of you reading this know how horrific those camps were. Corrie is enduring this suffering at a later age in life—she’s in her mid-fifties. Yet in the middle of so much pain, Corrie and her sister brought the light of the Gospel to a very dark place. There’s a really powerful part of the book where she describes what it was like to lead Biblestudies in that camp. She describes how one night they were in the barracks and she was ministering to the ladies when one of the worst guards starts coming their direction.

    The other ladies are trying to signal Corrie to hide the Bible that they had so carefully smuggled into the camp. Yet she continues on—teaching from the Bible and deciding to lead the group in a song. The female guard stops and listens. Then to their surprise, the guard asks them for another song. The guard says she likes the songs. As Corrie describes, “In a crude sort of way, she became a friend.”

    Corrie describes the suffering they endured. Having to stand for hours in the freezing cold at the crack of dawn while the roll was taken. Yet she also talked about how all that suffering “was worthwhile” worth it because that was the only way she was able to lead many of the other ladies to Christ before they died.

    In the book Corrie writes about what it was like to look at the crematoriums everyday and wonder if you were going to live or die. Yet in the middle of that darkness, the Holy Spirit starts talking to her and her sister about what to do after the war. Betsie tells Corrie, “God showed me that after the war we must give to the Germans that which they now try to take away from us—our love for Jesus.”

    Corrie writes, “One week before the order came to kill all the women of my age, I was free. I still don’t understand all the details….” So she goes out to minister as the Holy Spirit leads her. As you read the book, you can see she’s doing the real work of the ministry:

    1) Strengthen the weak
    2) Heal the sick
    3) Bandage the hurt
    4) Bring back the ones that wandered away
    5) Look for the ones that were lost
    6) Feed the sheep

    Some say that people doing the work of the ministry should work full time and never take a salary for ministry. Well, what type of job can a mature lady in her fifties find who just walked out of a concentration camp? How’s she supposed to hold that job down while obeying the call of God to travel and minister around the world?

    The rest of the book is really powerful stories about the last twenty years of her life while she was ministering to the deep wounds after the war. She describes traveling all over the world. When she first goes to America, no one wants her to speak. This was before her book came out so people didn’t know who she was. Yet she pressed on, in traveling and looking for ministry opportunities until the doors opened. For the rest of her life, she was able to minister to a lot of people.

    There’s a story in the book about what it was like to speak to a congregation in Africa whose lives were being threatened. What do you say, when you know most likely most of the congregation is about to be killed? Corrie tells the story of how nervous she was while doing that Biblestudy in the concentration camp when the guard walked up. Yet she also described how when we are most afraid that’s when God gives us the most courage to keep going. Shortly thereafter she finds out that many in that congregation were killed for their faith.

    There’s another story in the book where she’s speaking behind the Iron Curtain. Many of you know that she traveled with Brother Andrew to minister to the persecuted church. So while speaking in this brick and mortar church she notices that the congregation seems to not being hearing anything she’s saying. She feels led by the Holy Spirit to rebuke demonic powers. She does. Then goes on with her sermon. Afterward the local pastors have this big theological debate about whether demons exist. It was humorous because while they were going around and around in circles debating theology, Corrie was doing the real work of the ministry to bind up the wounds.

    Anyway, there are many people out there who are called by God to be pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc. There are many good people out there who fit the qualification list that God gave us to help us see the difference between the wolves and the real ministers. I shared this as an example of someone doing the real work of the ministry.

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  5. Avid

    You write @ DECEMBER 11, 2017 @ 12:14 PM

    “God doesn’t play games with us. God doesn’t trick us. God didn’t give us a set of specific instructions and qualifications for church leadership and then say—oops that was just a joke!”

    Hmmm?
    I never said God plays games with us.
    I never said God tricks us. (But He does. Often.)
    I never said the qualifications were just a joke.
    xxxxxxx

    Here is what I said…

    Could another possibility be…

    For Paul, and most likely Jesus..
    Giving 17+, such very tuff Qualifications, IS…

    ”It’s a TEST?

    God does test and prove “His People” A Lot in the scriptures. Yes?
    Deut 8:2 NKJV, Gen 22:1 NKJV, Psalm 66:10-12 NKJV, Psalm 26:2 NKJV. etc.

    ”Could this be “A Test” of someone’s “Integrity?”

    Why would someone, a believer, assume the role of pastor/overseer?
    And say they are a pastor/overseer?

    If they they do NOT qualify to be an pastor/overseer?”

    ”Could it be a lack of “Integrity?”

    Hmmm?
    xxxxxxx

    Woundn’t you, Avid, agree…

    If someone, a believer, takes the “Title/Postion” of pastor/overseer?
    And they call them self pastor/overseer?

    And, they they do NOT ”Qualify” to be an pastor/overseer?”
    According to 1 Tim 3, and Titus?

    That wanna-be pastor/overseer has “a lack of “Integrity?”

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  6. Mark

    You write @ DECEMBER 11, 2017 @ 3:39 PM
    “Can you point to the scripture that says that a “shepherd” who calls himself a “shepherd” is no longer qualified to be a shepherd?”

    “Isn’t that a catch-22? If calling oneself a shepherd disqualifies you from being a shepherd…”
    xxxxxxxx

    Well, I never said what you said I said in the way that you said I said it. 🙂

    I never said… Like you seem to say I said…
    “…a “shepherd” who calls himself a “shepherd”
    is no longer qualified to be a shepherd.”

    I never said… Like you seem to say I said…
    “… calling oneself a shepherd disqualifies you from being a shepherd…”
    xxxxxxx

    Please… Do NOT put words in my mouth

    I have enough of my own.

    Or hadn’t you noticed? 😉
    xxxxxxx

    Here for your reading pleasure…

    Have you noticed? In the Bible? In the NT?

    1 – NOT one of ”His Disciples” called them self pastor?
    Or shepherd? Or Poimen? Or leader? Or reverend?

    2 – NOT one of ”His Disciples” called tanother Disciple pastor?
    Or shepherd? Or Poimen? Or leader? Or reverend?

    3 – NOT one of ”His Disciples” took the “Title/Position” pastor?
    Or shepherd? Or Poimen? Or leader? Or reverend?

    4 – NOT one of ”His Disciples” was “Hired” as a….
    Paid, Professional, Pastor, Poimen, in a Pulpit?
    Preaching, to People in Pews?
    Weak aftr Weak?
    In a church?
    xxxxxxx

    NOPE… pastor/shepherds WE, His Sheep, His Servants, see Today…

    Ain’t nuttin like “pastor/shepherds” WE, His Sheep, find in the Bible.

    If being one of ”His Disciples” is important?

    If WE, His Sheep, His Ekklesia, His Church, His Body, His Servants…
    Desire to be one of ”His Disciples?”

    Wouldn’t ”His Disciples?” “In The Bible?”
    Be a good example to follow?
    Be a good place to start?

    Jer 50:6
    “My people” hath been “lost sheep:”
    THEIR shepherds
    have caused them to go astray,

    1 Pet 2:25
    For ye were as sheep going astray;
    BUT are now returned to
    the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

    {{{{{{ Jesus }}}}}}

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  7. Mark

    What dis-Qualifies a shepherd/overseer… Is…

    They do NOT meet the 17+ qualifications listed in 1 Tim 3, and Titus….

    Would you like the list? I have extras… Plenty to go around. 😉
    xxxxxxxxxx

    What dis-Qualifies a shepherd/overseer… Is…

    They are NOT… they can NOT live up to…
    1 – Must Be BLAMELESS? 2 – JUST? 3 – HOLY?”
    xxxxxxx

    Was Wondering…

    We spent some time on the 17+, very tuff Qualifications for elder/overseer…
    And extra time on 1 – Must Be BLAMELESS? 2 – JUST? 3 – HOLY?

    Does your pastor/overseer meet ”ALL the Qulifications?”
    In 1 Tim 3, and Titus?

    Have you asked?

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  8. Avid

    The word pastors, in Ephe 4:11… Is NOT a “Title.”

    In the Bible… can you name…
    One of *His Disciples” who took the “Title,” pastor?
    Or shepherd? Or poimen? Or leader? Or reverend?
    xxxxxxx

    Was Wondering…

    We spent some time on the 17+, very tuff Qualifications for elder/overseer…
    And extra time on 1 – Must Be BLAMELESS? 2 – JUST? 3 – HOLY?

    Does your pastor/overseer meet ”ALL the Qulifications?”
    In 1 Tim 3, and Titus?

    Have you asked? 😉

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  9. Avid, I haven’t read Corrie’s books but I’ve read about Brother Andrew.

    I also enjoyed Amy Carmichael’s autobiography. It make me sick to read about those abused kids she was saving.

    This.is.ministry.

    Humble service.

    We all (us who believe) have ‘a’ ministry.

    The capacity to serve with the gifts God has given us. And those gifts are all different.

    I know there are teachers among us. Gentle hearted guides. Evangelists who preach Christ in McDonald’s to new friends and at bus shelters.

    Real believers doing real service for Christ.

    And no doubt much of it goes on in secret to only be seen by the Lord and it likely has little to do with organised religion.

    I’m greatly encouraged by the stories of such men and women who love the lord and who seek to save those who are lost.

    God is working in his people.

    I’ve no doubt about it.

    And whatever the Ekklesia is… Christ said he would build it and I’m sure we can trust him to do just that.

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  10. Amos,

    Does Corrie Ten Boom fit that list of qualifications?

    If you’re saying that qualified pastors today can’t use the title pastor because the disciples never did, then by that same reasoning, we can’t drive cars because the disciples didn’t drive cars. Should we limit ourselves to only riding donkeys and walking when doing ministry? That’s how the disciples did it.

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  11. Amos, you ask a lot of questions. Would you like to answer some?

    I asked you whether the people the Bible calls elders met the qualifications. I don’t see any point in discussion whether my pastor meets the qualifications if you can’t explain what they are.

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  12. Salty, I just don’t think you do well trying to play Amos’s game.

    Re: DECEMBER 11, 2017 @ 5:06 PM, I think I agree with pretty much everything you say…

    The concern I have is that you lump all these things together, defining a pastor as a:
    Self-appointed
    Young
    Salaried
    Seminary graduate
    Taking center stage
    Praying long prayers

    I completely agree, but that’s still a bunch of fluff. The question is, when you say that there are true shepherds, what do they look like?

    So, Jesus was a Rabbi. He walked around and crowds followed him. His reputation spread so much that he had to do his ministry outside of towns because he couldn’t enter a town without being swarmed. He didn’t have a job. He was a paid professional minister. Judas was the treasurer. Jesus began his ministry around the age of 30. He was not afraid of taking center stage – he taught in the synagogue. He taught from a boat. He taught from a mountain. He taught thousands of people.

    So, many of the things you list as negatives about pastors are true about Jesus, too, yet you don’t write him off as being disqualified.

    I’m trying to understand what exactly is your concern. It seems like you are arguing a straw man. You create an image of a pastor that is so horrific that no one would ever want one, then you seem to attach that to every so-called pastor who has any of the characteristics you list.

    I agree with you that what we have today is far from what the Bible intended ministry to look like, but I’m not sure that I agree that every so-called pastor is a usurper.

    My fundamental problem with the modern pastorate is that it is top-down, not bottom-up. That is, in the Reformation, lines were drawn in the sand over Prelacy – the idea that the Pope/Church Leadership could appoint a Priest over a congregation that the congregation had not chosen and deemed qualified. However, we’ve come full circle, just changing the names of the actors.

    In my former church, a kid goes to Bible College and the denominational Seminary. Generally, only the pastor or church leaders get to weigh in on whether he’s qualified to go to seminary, and since many of these kids have conversion or rededication experiences in college, it’s questionable whether he’s “known” to these people. The seminary trains these kids in the denominational distinctives, and they are quizzed regularly as part of their vetting process. At the end of the vetting process, they are declared pastor material. They enter the pastoral meat market with all of the other pastor material, and congregations looking for a pastor typically have them preach once or twice, and the more discerning congregations might have a 30 minute Q/A. After that, there is a congregational vote as to which of the choice steaks will be their next pastor.

    So, to further Amos’s point, I can maybe disqualify a potential pastor with a few questions, but I can’t qualify him. In fact, there is NO ONE in that process that really can declare him qualified. So, it seems the entire process is the opposite of what should happen. That person should be KNOWN first, then SENT, not sent, then known.

    But, the problem comes down again to theology. Pastors today follow the model of Paul (unfortunately the only model we have written out). Paul became a Christian, then went to “seminary” for three years. Then he returned to the church and got quizzed and offered the right hand of fellowship, at which point the Holy Spirit sent him out. So, that is our model for today. The results…. not so good.

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  13. Mark – Not sure how to put this, but I’m afraid in this discussion – which is a valid one – Amos is engaging in monologue rather than dialogue. The same typo occurs three times in this one thread, for example, which speaks of simply repeating by copying the same arguments verbatim. There is very little if any interaction.

    You have raised a similar point to one I made in your post above this one as to whether elders met the qualifications outlined by the apostle. Salty did comment on this.

    Since human nature hasn’t changed, I reckon we could expect the same number of believers to meet these qualifications to the same extent today as was the case in the early church. If not, it makes you wonder just why they are included in the NT.

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  14. Salty, re: Ekklesia

    Again, I don’t think that anyone here is arguing that a physical building is what Jesus has promised to build up. A church is a body of believers. Our language does not necessarily provide the precision you desire, but neither does Greek.

    For example, you say:

    “Christ is building whatever his Ekklesia is. It’s singular. I will build my singular Ekklesia.”

    Yet, consider Revelation 1:4: “John to the seven churches that are in Asia”. I guess you would be surprised to find that the original Greek has plural Ekklesia.

    That’s enough to disprove your argument.

    But to help further understanding, some Ekklesia entymology: “among the Greeks from Thucydides (cf. Herodotus 3, 142) down, an assembly of the people convened at the public place of council for the purpose of deliberating”

    So, there is the concept of the Ekklesia not primarily this idea of the “called out” ones, but more that the Ekklesia is a group of people that gathers for a purpose. So, it is not unfitting for someone to say that they are going “to church” – meaning going to a gathering of people for the purpose of worship.

    It is a mistake to equivocate the word “church” to mean a church building when it is being used in the Biblical sense, but that is a pretty well-known and well thumped issue.

    I don’t know that we have any Biblical clarity on whether “Institutional Christian Religion” is somehow inherently evil. Consider that God directed ancient Israel to be a Theocracy. That was institutional in pretty much every sense of the word. The Priests were the institutional judges, the Levites were much of the legal educational system.

    No matter what organizational structure you try to claim the church should be, there will always be positives and negatives. For example, an institutional church generally has the resources to minister to the flock in ways that individuals don’t have. On the other hand, an institutional church might also have more means to shield themselves from scrutiny if there is a problem. However, I think an individual is just as likely to blame and deceive to protect their own reputation as a church is.

    One thing that I haven’t heard a response to… if the church wasn’t structured somehow, how could Paul send ONE letter to the “churches of Galatia”? Almost all of the letters in the New Testament were written to churches, which means that there was enough organization that the letters were somehow distributed to the right people – whether they were read at the gatherings, passed around, copied or whatever. There was enough of an “institution” that Paul could expect his letters to have an effect. In Corinthians, we see that there is a back and forth exchange of questions and answers, again, suggesting some sort of institution with a means of gathering input from multiple groups.

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  15. Amos, “Please… Do NOT put words in my mouth… I have enough of my own.”

    Granted.

    At first, I asked you to clarify.
    Then I tried to put what I thought was your viewpoint into words

    But, I think your request is very fair. If you’re not interested in explaining and clarifying what you seem to be very passionate about, and are upset when I try, then I don’t see the point in continuing.

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  16. Mark, you asked me what I think shepherds look like.

    Shepherds guide.

    Given that it is God who gives us them (according to Paul) we can trust that they exist and are among us.

    My point is that the religious institutional calling itself church has established a method for appointing ‘shepherds’ in a framework which comes from pagan Roman Catholicism.

    It’s toxic.

    God is perfectly able to raise up mature godly people to do his work amongst his people.

    I don’t doubt it and I’ve experienced it away from the four walls.

    I’ve seen godly mature elder people serving me and loving me and guiding me in the Way.

    It goes on outside the walls when his people seek his face and ask for it.

    If his people aren’t seeking truth and are heaping teachers do you expect God to do this?

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  17. Mark, I’ve already answers the ‘churches’ question.

    The use of Ekklesia plural is always when it’s referring to a region or country. Never in a city.

    To the church in Corinth isn’t plural. Yet they didn’t have a single meeting place did they? They would have still been fellowshipping in houses. Yet these fellowships are still not Ekklesia. The People are.

    You haven’t disproved my view at all.

    Jesus never said he’d build ‘churches’ or ekklesias for that matter.

    He’s only got one body and one fold.

    He made it pretty clear.

    And I’m not playing any game like you accuse. Nasty.

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  18. Mark, I don’t know how many letters Paul wrote. None of us do. But I am feeling pretty confident that they probably didn’t worship the text like Christians do today and spend inordinate amounts of time straining over what Paul really meant about XYZ.

    Meanwhile ignoring clear statements about loving one another and taking care of the poor.

    You get my point

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  19. Amos,

    Jesus said that we would know them by their fruits.

    It’s a waste of time to walk up and ask someone if they meet all the qualifications. Of course they will say yes. But according to Jesus’ instructions—we are to look at their actions to determine whether they meet the qualifications or not.

    Remember In Revelations 2:2 (BSB) Jesus commended the Ephesians because “I know that you cannot tolerate those who are evil, and you have tested and exposed as liars those who falsely claim to be apostles.”

    There’s the real apostles and there’s the false apostles. It’s our responsibility to discern both based on their fruit. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Matthew 7:18. We are all smart enough to discern by watching them without ever having to walk up and ask them that question you wanted us to ask!

    And Amos, I stand by my previous comment—God doesn’t trick us. God doesn’t give us a list of specific instructions and then say—oops that was just a joke. Nope. God gave us the list of ministry qualifications to discern between the real and the fake. God is still gifting pastors, apostles, teachers, etc, to go forth and do the work of the ministry, even though you are never going to accept that.

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  20. Amos,

    Whenever God tests someone in the Bible—God tested them by giving them instructions and seeing whether they would follow them or not. God never played games with them by moving the goalpost or trying to trick them. Nope. There’s a pattern in the Bible where God gives instructions and expects people to follow them.

    Let’s not forget what Jesus said when the devil tried to twist Scripture to tempt Him. But Jesus declared, “It also says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

    God doesn’t want us playing games with Him either.

    Amos, it feels like you’re grasping at straws for a way to discredit the reality that God put that list of ministry qualifications in the Bible because God is still calling people to serve in the ministry. It’s really that simple.

    Telling people that they can’t use the title pastor is just putting an extra burden on them that the Bible never put. Telling people that it’s perfectly fine for a doctor to receive a salary for his work, that nurses should get paid, that every other career out there should get paid—except Heaven forbid that those preaching the Gospel and doing the work of the ministry should be able to support their families—that’s attacking the call of God on their life. That’s attacking the resources that are needed to spread the Gospel. That also doesn’t make any sense.

    We go to work everyday and receive a paycheck. That’s a Biblical concept according to Jesus who said “the worker deserves his pay.”

    So why is there so much resistance to the idea that resources are needed for the Gospel? If you read Tramp for the Lord—well it cost money for Corrie to obey the call of God to travel around the world and heal the deep wounds after the war. She kept having to buy bus, train, and plane tickets.

    To those that say that no one should get a salary for ministry—did Jesus still work as a carpenter while He was traveling around? Nope. He was a paid professional minister who set the example for us.

    No one here is saying that you have to support some big mega pastor. All we’re saying is that the nobodies who are actually doing the real work of the ministry need resources to do it. Corrie Ten Boom couldn’t have gotten around the world without buying bus/plane/train tickets. If Jesus needed money to do ministry and had enough ministry resources to have a designated accountant to keep track of it—let’s not bury our heads in the sand and try to pretend that no one else does.

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  21. Salty, “Yet these fellowships are still not Ekklesia.”

    Except that fellowships is much closer to the meaning than people.

    For example, when we say “congress”, we don’t mean a building in Washington DC. We don’t mean the 100 Senators and 435 Representatives individually. We mean primarily the body that is enacting legislation as a whole.

    But I don’t understand the point now. You say church is singular, but then you say that it’s okay for it to be plural when it’s talking about a region. So, you must therefore say that Christ would also build his churchES in Asia. As I said, the plural use already invalidates your argument because the existence of a plural church already makes the singular statement pointless. If there are churchES in Asia, which church of those churchES did Christ promise to build, because, as you say, “Jesus never said he’d build ‘churches’ or ekklesias for that matter.”

    This is where, early on, theologians studied the doctrine of the church (ecclesiology) and came up with the idea of the visible and invisible church. That is that the word ekklesia has a visible (e.g. people gathered in a building on Sunday) and invisible (e.g. the collection of all saved people) component. So, when Jesus condemns the church at Pergamum, he can say “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”

    But, I think we are still in the weeds. I don’t think it is possible to have a gathering of saints without some structure. Paul says, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

    Is this a self-imposed order, or is there an expectation that there are those who make sure that the directions are followed? Paul is complaining about anarchy. Is the solution democracy, or is it representative? I think the answer is clear when we see Paul call the elders to warn them about their responsibility to protect the flock.

    Like

  22. Salty, “My point is that the religious institutional calling itself church has established a method for appointing ‘shepherds’ in a framework which comes from pagan Roman Catholicism.”

    We agree there. The question is, what is the correct method? How do we prevent someone who was disciplined for beating his wife in one body of believers from becoming a ‘shepherd’ in the next? How do we prevent a ‘shepherd’ in one flock who was spiritually abusing people from hanging his shingle in another congregation?

    For all the horrific abuse of the Roman Catholics (I do think Francis is leading in the right direction), they did have those sorts of mechanisms.

    Like

  23. Mark

    You write…
    “How do we prevent someone who was disciplined for beating his wife in one body of believers from becoming a ‘shepherd’ in the next? How do we prevent a ‘shepherd’ in one flock who was spiritually abusing people from hanging his shingle in another congregation?”

    Simple – For me… If I was still part of the 501 c 3, IRS corporation church… 🙂

    My recommendation… Before you vote… or Hire…

    Let this person be part of, live with, the congregation for a number of years.
    Review the 11+, every day, Charactor Traits for ALL His Disciples.
    Review the 17+, very tuff Qualifications for overseer.
    And ask the potential overseer if they Qualify?

    If they answer yes…

    Then observe **the potential overseer in everyday “”Life” situations.**
    Under pressure…
    For a few years…

    You have to live with these folks for awhile to know them…
    At least a little…

    A resume, a few interviews, a few pulpit preachings…
    Does NOT a “Servant,” or “Shepherd,” make…
    xxxxxxx

    I’m-a-thinkn… In the Bible…

    Any elder who was being considered, appointed, as an overseer…
    Was already part of that assembly… For awhile…
    Was already “known” by the folks…
    Was already “serving” the folks…

    Was already Caring for, Tending, Feeding, Shepherding His Flock…
    Was already “Managing his own family – WELL…”
    And their children also meet the tuff qulifications…

    The potential overseer was observed being… NOT greedy of filthy lucre…
    NOT quarrelsome, NOT a brawler, NOT self willed, NOT soon angry…
    Calm in spirit, Sober, of good behavior…
    Blameless, Holy, and Just…

    Most of the folks, over the years, already knew if this potential overseer
    Meets the qualiications, and are Qualified…

    NOT someone coming ”IN” from the outside… ”NOT known.”
    Being “Hired,” as a shepherd, leader, reverend…
    As the 501 c 3, IRS corporations…
    Do today…
    xxxxxxx

    But I cudda missed that…

    In the Bible… Can anyone name…
    Anyone being “Hired,” as a shepherd, from the outside? the group?

    Like

  24. Mark

    Sorry…
    Forgot that I agreed with you @ DECEMBER 12, 2017 @ 2:31 PM

    Yes…
    “In fact, there is NO ONE in that process that really can declare him qualified. So, it seems the entire process is the opposite of what should happen. That person should be KNOWN first, then SENT, not sent, then known.”

    Like

  25. Hi Mark,

    I’ll quote you and then comment below each paragraph if that’s ok.

    You wrote,

    Salty, “Yet these fellowships are still not Ekklesia.”
    Except that fellowships is much closer to the meaning than people.

    My comments:

    I respectfully disagree with you. 😊
    Please Consider these verses of Scripture
    [Act 7:38 KJV] 38 This is he, that was in the church (Ekklesia) in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:

    What was in the wilderness? This is OT. So there was Ekklesia in the OT? That’s not what many theologians and believers think today. They think ‘the church’ started in Acts. The Scripture indicates otherwise.

    Substitute ‘church’ in the above passage for MULTITUDE.

    I believe multitude is a far better word than assembly or gathering or fellowship.

    The above three words imply religious meetings. I don’t believe Ekklesia means this. It’s simply a multitude of people. In regards to the Ekklesia Jesus said he would build, it’s the multitude of saved persons in a particular city.

    Another example:

    [Act 19:32 KJV] 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly (multitude) was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

    the word assembly here is Ekklesia. It’s a reference to the multitude of people that were there. No mention of a worship service or fellowship meeting going on here. Please consider the context.

    Another one:

    [Act 2:46-47 KJV] 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church (multitude) daily such as should be saved.

    the LORD added to the Ekklesia daily… to the what? To the temple organisation? To the sect of the Pharisees? No. To the multitude of called out ones. They (who is they?) the Ekklesia, no? The Ekklesia gathered at the temple AND from house to house. But those gatherings are not ‘ekklesia’. No. The people are. The ‘they’ in Acts 2 is the Ekklesia. The multitude. The company. The bunch.

    Last one for today:

    [Act 14:27 KJV] 27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church (multitude) together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

    if Ekklesia means gathering this verse says, “and when they had gathered the gathering together”. Sounds dumb doesn’t it? The context seems clear that the Ekklesia is not gathered in order for it to BECOME gathered together. Therefore the Ekklesia is not by definition gathered or a gathering. It’s a reference to the multitude of people.

    You wrote:

    For example, when we say “congress”, we don’t mean a building in Washington DC. We don’t mean the 100 Senators and 435 Representatives individually. We mean primarily the body that is enacting legislation as a whole.
    But I don’t understand the point now. You say church is singular, but then you say that it’s okay for it to be plural when it’s talking about a region. So, you must therefore say that Christ would also build his churchES in Asia. As I said, the plural use already invalidates your argument because the existence of a plural church already makes the singular statement pointless. If there are churchES in Asia, which church of those churchES did Christ promise to build, because, as you say, “Jesus never said he’d build ‘churches’ or ekklesias for that matter.”

    My comments:
    – Please consider the words Multitude and Multitudes.
    – when I read Revelation I see multitudes. Ekklesia plural. To the 7 multitudes in Asia.
    – The distinction here is that of location.
    – To the multitude of called out ones in Philadelphia, for example.
    – Jesus made it clear he has ONE body which is his Ekklesia (singular).
    – I don’t read Revelation and impose a view of ‘church’ and think the letter is written to SEVEN clubhouses or meeting places. It’s written to seven mutitudes of the called out ones in Asia. There’s a lot of people included here. I don’t believe they had one dedicated meeting place in each location.
    – Think of Ekklesia as multitudes and it’s not as hard to understand the point I am making. Multitudes, not meetings or gatherings.

    You wrote:

    This is where, early on, theologians studied the doctrine of the church (ecclesiology) and came up with the idea of the visible and invisible church.

    My comments:

    The word ‘local’ doesn’t appear anywhere in New Testament in regards to ekklesia gatherings. When I read the New Testament it seems to be that the early believers gathered for fellowship in their houses (which weren’t McMansions). To add the word ‘local’ in front of ‘church’ is to twist Scripture.

    The Ekklesia that is in Corinth isn’t a reference to one clubhouse located in the city of Corinth. I believe it’s a reference to the multitude of believers (literally, the called out ones) who reside in the city of Corinth. The word Ekklesia ‘church’ doesn’t imply a meeting or gathering for ‘worship services’. We impose this meaning based on our modern use of the word ‘church’. But I don’t fit a second think this is what Ekklesia means.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Hi again Mark,

    You wrote:

    That is that the word ekklesia has a visible (e.g. people gathered in a building on Sunday) and invisible (e.g. the collection of all saved people) component. So, when Jesus condemns the church at Pergamum, he can say “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”

    My comments:

    The above doesn’t mean there was one clubhouse it simply says the multitude of believers in Pergamum had done things which Jesus condemns. Just because they (as a group) did the same wrong thing doesn’t mean they were assembled in a meeting to conduct this bad behaviour or form these views.
    I live in a city full of Charismatics who are at the flag waving, drunk in the spirit end of the spectrum. If I were to condemn their behaviour and say, “all of the Ekklesia in your city is carrying on indecently” doesn’t mean those people are joined to one clubhouse called ‘church’. It’s simply saying there’s a bunch of believers within the multitude who are conducting themselves badly.

    You wrote:

    But, I think we are still in the weeds. I don’t think it is possible to have a gathering of saints without some structure. Paul says, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
    Is this a self-imposed order, or is there an expectation that there are those who make sure that the directions are followed? Paul is complaining about anarchy. Is the solution democracy, or is it representative? I think the answer is clear when we see Paul call the elders to warn them about their responsibility to protect the flock.

    My comments:

    I agree that there is a call to order when the believers gather. There was clearly an issue enough for Paul to call it out.

    But it does not require a professional religious leader, a pulpit, sermons and pews and a formal program in order to encourage a group of ten or twenty to behave themselves.

    This portion of scripture was written at a time with no internet or fancy organisation apps. I’m sure they were simply gathering and problems occurred at that gathering. Paul’s simply saying, “get it together and get some order in your gatherings”.

    You wrote:

    Salty, “My point is that the religious institutional calling itself church has established a method for appointing ‘shepherds’ in a framework which comes from pagan Roman Catholicism.”

    We agree there.

    My comment: awesome!

    You wrote:

    The question is, what is the correct method? How do we prevent someone who was disciplined for beating his wife in one body of believers from becoming a ‘shepherd’ in the next? How do we prevent a ‘shepherd’ in one flock who was spiritually abusing people from hanging his shingle in another congregation?
    For all the horrific abuse of the Roman Catholics (I do think Francis is leading in the right direction), they did have those sorts of mechanisms.

    My comments:

    You assume that the believers met in Organized and dedicated ‘bodies’.

    I don’t believe the scripture indicates that their gatherings had the same people in regular attendance or that they had the same kind of organisation we have today with our clubhouses. The Scripture simply doesn’t give us this information.

    What’s apparent to me is that the believers in a city had ‘elders’ (mature godly folk) appointed to deal with the task of ‘oversight’. That is, they made sure the younger believers were OK, the widows were taken care of and there was a group effort toward godly living.

    These elders didn’t have clubhouses to work out of so I assume they simply ‘ministered’ and served from their own houses as hospitality is a requirement given.

    Also, when you speak of a false Shepherd and congregations I still think you’re imposing your current view of ‘church’ into first century simple fellowship where sermons, pews and popes didn’t exist. (I know you said you agree with this aspect of ‘church’).

    I simply don’t see first century believers getting together in some formal religious format with Senior Pastors conducting sermons in the way religious folk go about their meetings today.

    Also, it appears that our current method of dealing with these domestic violence issues isn’t working. 😊

    How do we deal with difficult people or issues? Consider the letter, warning about Diotrophes.

    I don’t go to any religious meetings and I have lived in a new city and have met hundreds of believers in the first couple of years. Through Family and friends. Most go to some clubhouse they call ‘church’. I’ve already heard of issues simply by word of mouth. Ie: “don’t go there, the ‘Pastor’ is a bit of a tyrant”.

    And we see that word of mouth and communicating on an individual level still works and seems more effective than relying on some institution to do the dirty work of calling out rebels.

    To end…

    This is how I view the institution we call ‘church’ today.

    That place you go to for religious meetings.

    The church is a business which makes an effort to attract and appeal to the Ekklesia in a particular location. The Ekklesia are invited to join the church and partake in religious gatherings.

    The word church and the Ekklesia are not the same.

    Jesus is not building churches where believers meet, join and pay money into.

    Jesus is building a spiritual house of living stones which is his body where he resides.

    We have a huge problem in Christianity.

    Ekklesia is not church.

    The Scriptures do not teach that elders were appointed to every fellowship gathering.

    The scriptures do not teach that ‘pastors’ are ‘leaders’ that had to be present and facilitate fellowship gatherings.

    The scriptures do not teach that any one of the apostles or disciples took upon themselves titles like Pastor (or Apostle) for that matter. Paul is never called Evangelist Apostle Paul. Peter is never referred to as Pastor Peter.

    So ask how on earth did we get to giving these titles to men?

    Where did the practise of dividing god’s people between clergy and laity begin?

    Should we continue this practise today? (God forbid).

    We don’t need to identify men who Shepherd by titles. It should be obvious by their exemplary life example and servanthood. I can think of many people I know who are ‘go to’ elders (men and women) who pray for people and love the lord and share Christ. They’re not salaried religious ‘leaders’. They’re members of the Body of Christ. Whoever will be greatest amongst you will be the least (the servant of all).

    Just because we have done things a certain way for 1700 years doesn’t mean it’s right and it doesn’t mean we should stick with the program.

    I think the call to “come out of her MY PEOPLE” says it all.

    What is her?

    Harlotry and idolatry.

    A substitution for the real thing.

    I know so many believers who attend ‘church’ and when I am with them they never speak of the Lord, the scriptures or offer to pray for me.

    To me… this is how toxic the system is.

    We have reduced our spiritual behaviours to weekly meetings.

    It is no longer normal to sing songs together with believing friends when meeting for a meal or coffee or to pray together, unless it is structured via some religious church program.

    How utterly tragic is this?

    And on the occasions I have met ‘church going’ members who DO speak of the lord and ask to pray for me and want to speak of the scriptures… how amazing is that fellowship? How encouraged are we all? The ‘thank you for today’ text messages come through and there is genuine ‘one another-ing’.

    This is what I want.

    This is what I see in the upper room.

    People on fire for the Lord.

    I just don’t find this in the institutions.

    I find club mentality.

    That was a long ending.

    Apologies for spelling and grammar errors. I’m tired and it’s late.

    Also, Mark… google ‘Ekklesia in the OT’ and ‘Ekklesia in the Greek Septuagint’. Some interesting articles pop up.

    How do I imagine good Christian fellowship?

    Meeting with believers regularly and organically in my home for discussions about our week, prayer about real life issues and growing in Grace together. God gives his people the gifts and if he gives SOME pastors, teachers etc… we can trust Him to give those some just what they need. No self appointed leaders required. God is able.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Salty:

    Re: multitude, I think that’s an interesting point, but that’s not how hermeneutics works. We don’t choose what definition we apply to biblical words, we try to understand the definition of biblical words. So, for example, if the word ekklesia simply meant “masses”, then it would be far more in keeping with your definition to use ochlos http://biblehub.com/greek/3793.htm like is used in Matthew 15 with regard to the multitude who were gathered to hear Jesus teach, that he later fed miraculously.

    But, interestingly, the LXX use in Exodus more closely resembles my definition than yours – you seem to be applying an “invisible” attribute – those who are called out being the true Christians, where the OT use is more to a gathered “visible” church, many whom God would call “stiff-necked” and curse to die in the desert.

    Also, the Israelites were “called out” of Egypt which is also heavy with symbolism – Paul uses this symbolism to parallel the Israelites with the believers – they were baptized through the Red Sea, they ate the same spiritual food (manna) and drank the same spiritual drink (water from the rock), but then, Paul goes on to say “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.” This is again, a parallel with the visible church – those who were part of the Israelite “club” but who were not actually saved.

    You said, “When I read the New Testament it seems to be that the early believers gathered for fellowship in their houses (which weren’t McMansions).”

    You should research Roman architecture, specifically a domus. A rich Roman in a city would typically have a house with a large interior courtyard, which could most definitely be used for large gatherings.

    In conclusion, I think we are pretty far apart on the definition of “ekklesia” I think I get your point and I think you get mine. I don’t see any real point in continuing to debate once we understand the difference. Assuming we are both led by the Holy Spirit, we can ask him to lead us to the truth, whatever that may be.

    Like

  28. Earlier in our discussion—when we were stopping and starting the conversation on different threads—the topic of Frank Viola (author of Pagan Christianity) was raised. There were serious allegations mentioned.

    Mwcamp had a good question about that—which inspired me to do some research.

    Here’s what I found:

    Allegation #1—Frank Viola was allegedly spiritually abusive to people in his home fellowship.

    Eyewitness description #1:

    “In 1999—my husband, sons, and I moved to Brandon (Florida) to be near family and the church in Brandon that Frank was “planting.” Approximately 50 believers met together in homes in Brandon. To make a very long story short, this past March, about 15 of us left this group, including Frank’s wife.

    Throughout the almost 3 years I was a part of the group here, the manipulation and control by Frank increased. It really took me off guard initially because I couldn’t understand how someone who wrote and spoke against “spiritual gurus” could act like one. He talked a good talk but it didn’t play out in reality. For instance,…..it became “expected” by Frank that everyone should move into the neighborhood and shortly thereafter it became “disobedience to God” not to move into the neighborhood.

    People were told not to ask “why” when people left the group. Frank would “suggest” things and then EXPECTED that everyone agreed, with no dialog.

    I could go on and on but maybe you get the idea and don’t want to hear all the gory details. This past February—I asked three of the older brothers to come to my house so that I could share my many concerns with them and I wanted them to go to Frank on my behalf…They then expressed to me that they shared some of these same concerns.

    They went to Frank but there was no change. Right afterwards Frank was pressing for us to do something that I thought was very controlling, I balked and said I felt it was manipulative. A special meeting was called because of my saying this. We tried to discuss the issues but instead the whistle blowers were personally attacked.

    And a few days later Frank shut down the church. Unknown to me until that day was that Frank had also been romantically involved two years earlier with one of his former high school students who had started coming to the meetings and to keep things quiet she had been whisked off to one of Gene’s churches. Now if Frank had repented with Godly sorrow I would be the first to forgive him, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

    To date…..several respected men in the homechurch realm have confronted Frank about the manipulation, deception, and his affair, to no avail. He feels that he need only be accountable to Gene and his minions.

    In the last couple months many people are wising up in these groups…….I have heard personally from the groups in Conroe, TX, Naples, FL and a group Frank was working with in Arizona that people are leaving because of this manipulation and deception.

    I want to stress that I am not sharing these things to be mean spirited……I was in a very vulnerable place 3 years ago, and the contrast seemed so great from what I had been a part of for many years. But people need to speak out when they know these things. There is no excuse for spiritual abuse. These guys deceive and twist the scriptures to make people believe they should just suffer quietly. Jesus had plenty to say about the spiritual abusers of His day!!”

    To be continued……….

    (Note: Because posting too many links in a comment can cause issues with WordPress—reference links will be posted at the end).

    Like

  29. Hi Avid,

    I hope you and your family had a nice Christmas. 🙂

    I am aware of these allegations and I also know of Frank Viola’s leaning toward ‘house church’.

    I don’t hold these same beliefs and I can easily see how anyone who could move from the Institutional ‘church’/temple to a lounge room model could have the same issues.

    I don’t believe we need to have ‘house church’ any more than Institutional church.

    I also didn’t go out and subscribe to his website, but his books and adopt all his views on the ‘church’.

    Frank isn’t my guru nor a substitute leader for those in the IC that I left behind.

    I follow Jesus Christ.

    He is my Pastor and the Holy Spirit is my guide.

    God is spirit and we have verses which tell us he can guide and lead us into truth and need no man to teach us.

    Pagan Christianity is a good book.

    The content (regardless of author) is what’s important.

    If you have read Pagan Christianity and think Frank’s statements are lies then that’s one thing.

    But I’ve found the information about ‘church’ practices to seem believable and have informed my decision to walk away from the IC in favour of simple, organic fellowship with fellow believers.

    No religious leaders required.

    No sermons.

    Just gathering for encouragement and prayer.

    God is faithful.

    Like

  30. Salty,

    You might be surprised to find out that through the years I’ve been involved in home fellowships (or whatever you want to call them) as well. I’ve seen first hand what a beautiful thing it is when believers regularly gather together in a home to discuss the things of God. I’ve seen what its like for each person there to share a word of encouragement from their hearts just like 1Cor 14 describes. I’m not attacking that at all.

    This research was never meant to be any type of personal attack towards you.

    This blog is a place where we spend a lot of time discussing spiritual abuse and holding Christian leaders accountable for their behavior.

    These allegations are about Frank Viola’s behavior as a Christian leader. He was once a leader in the institutional church. Now he’s still a church leader in the “organic church” movement. His behavior matters because as a Christian leader, he’s still in a position of power that influences many people.

    Salty, while you are already aware of this research, other people reading this blog may not yet have had a chance to hear it. So I’m going to keep posting more of this research and let everyone reach their own conclusions.

    We know them by their fruits……….

    Like

  31. Hi Avid,

    I didn’t take your comments about Frank Viola as a personal attack. Not at all. 🙂

    I responded to you because I was the one who initially recommended his book Pagan Christianity, and not because it recommends ‘house church’ (which Frank advocates for) but because it does an excellent job of highlighting all the rituals and traditions which we take part in within the Institutional Church which are not found in the scriptures or 300 plus years after Jesus was raised from the dead.

    I’m all for warning people against dangerous and tyrannical, self appointed ‘leaders’ (find that word in the NT) but considering this particular thread is on ‘Church discussion’ wouldn’t it be more helpful to focus on the actual arguments in Frank’s book, which are about the issues with the Institutional Church, rather than google searching the find juice on him?

    And I’m not sure why you’d spend time ‘researching’ Frank Viola anyway, given he’s not a huge evangelical leader or guru.

    Maybe you should buy the book and research the claims he and George Barna makes about the 1700 year old Ecclesiastical nonsense which goes on in Jesus’ name.

    Better yet, maybe ask JA to start a new thread dedicated to Frank Viola so you can post you research there.

    Like

  32. Salty,

    This blog is a place where we discuss spiritual abuse. Where we hold Christian leaders accountable. When someone is using their position of power to hurt others—we stand up to them. We expose their pattern of manipulation and control to protect others from becoming a victim.

    When we were spending all that time discussing Tullian—was that just “juicy” gossip? Of course not. That was necessary because he was still trying to get back into the pulpit. It mattered because someone who doesn’t hesitate to rip apart someone else’s marriage to get what he wants—just might do that again to someone else.

    What inspired this research was when Mwcamp asked a really good question. We will get to that a little later. In the meantime—this matters because according to these allegations—there’s someone using their position of power to hurt others. If this information can protect one person from becoming the next victim—then its totally worth it.

    Yes, I have read his books. But after doing this research, I’m much more concerned about the alleged spiritual abuse that this person is causing in the body of Christ.

    While doing this research I was thinking about the story of Eli in the Bible. God got really upset at how his sons were taking advantage of the ladies who came to the Tabernacle. How they were using their position of power to hurt others.

    Was it juicy gossip for God to put that story in the Bible to warn us? Remember when God told Eli that judgment was coming because “I will honor those who honor me, and I will treat with contempt those who despise me.” 1Sam 2:30(GNT)

    Salty, let’s not give any special treatment to any Christian leader but continue to hold all of them accountable for their behavior regardless of how much we like their books.

    “Reprimand those leaders who sin. Do it in front of everyone so that the other leaders will also be afraid.” 1Tim 5:20(GW)

    Like

  33. Allegation #2—More allegations that Frank Viola was spiritually abusive to members of his house church.

    Eyewitness description #2:

    “I moved to be part of an Organic Church started by Frank Viola (FV) and Milt Rodriguez (MR) a while ago, and ever since I did, it was almost pure misery, nearly every single day. I was greatly disappointed. In my opinion it was one of the worst experiences of my life.

    I have seen FV and his associates rush into some disciplinary decisions with spin and manipulation without fully informing people as to the whole truth of the situation…..

    I have seen some of this stepping in by these church planters and how truth is manipulated, misused, and how sometimes confidential information is wrongfully brought out into the open without permission…..

    I have seen the attempts at gag order…..to get people to not talk about their disciplinary actions…..

    I personally have already begun to see FV’s groups have severe problems and that they are falling apart. People are being hurt, and as Jon Zens stated – they feel “betrayed, lied to, manipulated, controlled, used, and even pitted against one another.”

    It seemed very strange and suspicious when I saw this with my own eyes. Yet if some of us in these groups are suspicious of this questionable behavior, we were told not to be, but take it to the Lord (so to speak) or just stuff it down and be quiet about it.

    Seeing all this left me in a position where I could no longer trust anyone in the group, nor could I trust anything that was said by the church planters either.

    My opinion is that I will NOT be able to trust Frank Viola, his associates, or anyone in his groups unless I see major changes.”

    Like

  34. Avid, this thread isn’t about Tullian or Frank Viola.

    It’s not about leaders and their transgressions.

    It’s titled ‘church discussion’ and so far has been used to discuss the Institutional church compared with the Ekklesia as well other other issues of the sort.

    My comment simply suggested you move this Frank Viola bit of allegation to a new thread.

    I don’t have time to write about all the leaders and wolves in the church world.

    I’m more concerned with the harlot system itself.

    Not many appear to be able to identify that the system itself facilitates and enables these types of abusers.

    I’m a little more keen to shine the light on the Institutional church system and not the tyrants who use it to lord it over Christ’s flock.

    If you want to keep posting your updates here about Frank Viola then that’s up to you and JA.

    I just pointed out that it doesn’t seem to be the right place to do it.

    Start a new thread specific to him as this is about ‘church discussion’ and not ‘Frank viola’

    Like

  35. “My opinion is that I will NOT be able to trust Frank Viola, his associates, or anyone in his groups unless I see major changes”.

    We are told to trust the Lord.

    Placing our trust in men will never aid us in our walk with Christ.

    We are told the not place our trust in men.

    Maybe we should think about this quote a bit.

    Like

  36. Salty,

    This is the thread that was started for the purpose of allowing further discussion right when Mwcamp and I were in the middle of discussing Frank Viola and the book Pagan Christianity.

    How can we discuss this book but not discuss the author of that book?

    However, I will respect any decision that Julie Anne or Kathi or the team here decides to make regarding this topic.

    Like

  37. Avid,

    George Barna has a lot to do with Pagan Christianity also. Have you studied him?

    I have no personal interest in what Frank Viola does because I don’t agree with his “let’s move the Institutional church to the lounge room” model. I disagree entirely with it so why would I waste time on anything except the facts presented in the book?

    Facts which, are available in many other places.

    Frank Viola isn’t the first or only person to make these facts known.

    It’s simply the first book I stumbled across with made them known to me.

    Your focus is 100 percent on the wrong target Avid.

    Frank isn’t the issue.

    No leader is the issue.

    If you have a leader who IS the issue and his name ain’t Pastor Jesus then it’s not the leader who is the problem but the person who has heaped that leader upon themselves instead of following the Lord.

    Like

  38. Salty,

    Yes, I have read about George Barna. He’s done a lot of interesting research about the church. If you want to talk about him—go right ahead.

    However, the book Pagan Christianity was referenced multiple times during this debate. How can we discuss a book but issue a gag order forbidding anyone from discussing the author of that book? Studying the author of a book is where I like to start in researching a book because you have to read everything in context.

    Salty, feel free to skip past any of my information that you’re not interested in reading. However, try to remember that there are other people reading this blog who feel differently than you do.

    Like

  39. Allegation #3—More spiritual abuse

    Eyewitness #3:

    This gentleman describes how going through a divorce was why he was kicked out of the “organic church” by the “founders” of the organic church movement.

    From: How I Had to Deal With Spiritual Abuse and Got Kicked out of a Cult by Derek Mooney

    “Four years ago, my family made the decision to move to Gainesville, Florida, seeking to pursue Christ outside of institutional church…..

    In Gainesville, we entered an environment with very friendly, personable founders, one of whom showed a little too much personal attention……..the attention was consistent with a pattern of predatory grooming behavior……

    (Then he describes going through an amicable divorce during that time.)

    “Not long after our decision to peacefully follow a path of divorce, the founders began to publicly deride us…….we were both kicked out…..

    These “leaders” knew the truth, but lied to others in the community……

    “Organic” church leaders are building their own mini-kingdoms, too, and are as likely as other leaders – if not more so – to protect their kingdoms vehemently, through manipulation and coercion. Their guru status combined with their need to maintain a spotless public persona makes them more likely to rely on cult-like behavior to keep their “flock” pure, fuel their elitism, and entrench their control and authority over their groups.

    Like

  40. Allegation #4—More issues

    From ExChristian.net:

    Eyewitness description #4:

    “My name is John Blatt and I am an Ex-Christian. The process of leaving Christianity took a good two years….”

    (Then he gives a chronology of his spiritual journey. Here’s the last part right before he left Christianity:)

    “Became a member of one of Frank Viola’s home churches.”

    “Saw the strange character and ways of Frank Viola and rejected the teachings of his latest books.”

    Like

  41. This is from an Amazon book review about the book “The House Church Movement.” The review was written by “J. Blatt,” maybe the same “John Blatt” just mentioned? (Note: This review was posted in 2002. About three years before Blatt posted his journey of how he left Christianity.)

    In this review he shares more light on his personal experience with the house church movement:

    “I have left the Institutional Church, but this book about the House Church (HC) “movement” is dangerous……..Such HC’s view themselves as superior and really the only TRUE or biblical churches in the world (since they were “planted” or “birthed” by a “worker” – namely themselves). There are MANY subtle teachings found in this book that are not only elitest in its mentality, but by actual definition – cultic.

    The authors claim that the HC’s that they “plant” are free from any type of control or hierarchical type leadership (since once they give “birth” to the HC the “worker” leaves). But this is very false.

    The authors transform the type of leadership control from “overt” (like institutional church “pastors”) to “co-vert”. They “plant” the HC through all their teaching and doctrine and practical advice, but even though they may leave that HC, they still are there, controlling everything through all they have “planted” (i.e. Thought-Reform or Mind Control). If that HC leaves its “worker’s” teaching and does something different, then they “fail” to become a true New Testament church.”

    Like

  42. “Four years ago, my family made the decision to move to Gainesville, Florida, seeking to pursue Christ outside of institutional church…..”
    This reminds me of a couple we knew. It must be over 15 years ago, they decided to move to Florida (from the Northwest) for the same reasons — I believe it was a group in St Cloud founded by Gene Edwards. The thing is, they were already pursuing Christ outside of institutional church and part of the home meetings we attended. We all begged them to reconsider– both because we would miss them and because we feared they’d be disappointed. Hopefully nothing happened like with Derek. I lost touch quickly and I think they later moved to Jacksonville — another Gene Edwards group was or is there.
    Anyway, there was a powerful lure to be part of something special, and I was left feeling “Aren’t we special right here?”

    Like

  43. Here’s a fascinating article of someone’s experience in Edwards’ movement. http://familyhoodchurch.blogspot.com/2008/06/regarding-my-10-years-under-gene.html
    Our church of many years through the 80’s and 90’s was pretty strongly influenced by him, and I still think he taught many true things. But apparently there were problems in the application.
    I notice comments on the article continued until this year– only skimmed so far but they look very interesting as well.

    Like

  44. Dave AA,

    Thanks for that info.

    In case anyone is wondering—Gene Edwards and Frank Viola have been involved together for a long time. They are both considered to be “founders” of the “organic church movement” which is actually nothing new. Home fellowships have been around for hundreds of years.

    Like

  45. Allegation #5—While he was employed as a teacher—the police allegedly caught Frank Viola in a motel room with one of his teenage students.

    When people found out—Frank was allegedly fired from his public school teaching job and kicked out of his church leadership position.

    This was a public statement published and circulated among the house churches as a letter back when Frank Viola’s church was investigating what happened:

    “On July 25, 2002, six brothers wrote an extensive letter of admonishment to Gene (Edwards) and Frank (Viola). Later, I wrote an essay, “Why March 10, 2002?,” in which I documented some crucial events in Brandon, FL, all of which were verified by the independent testimony of plural witnesses.

    “The truth is that in May of 2000 Frank’s wife received a phone call from a policewoman informing her that Frank was in a motel room with a young lady. This 19-year old girl was a former student of Frank’s in the high school where he taught, and a part of the Brandon assembly.

    He had been fooling around with her in the last quarter of 1999. He wrote a book called “Forbidden Affection” in early 2000, and had the gall to dedicate this book —which was in fact describing the struggle connected to his own sexual attraction to this girl—both to the young lady he was having illicit contact with and to his wife.

    Instead of dealing properly with this sinful behavior in 2000, Gene opted that it be covered up. Frank’s wife was to remain silent about what had happened, and the young lady was whisked off to another of Gene’s assembly, with lies constructed to explain her sudden exit. Frank’s wife was silent until March of 2002.

    Frank’s relationship with the young lady was not a one-time event. He had cultivated a relationship with her, and she helped him edit the book about their affair together! You don’t rent a motel room just to kiss. It would appear that adultery was the goal of the tryst, and was only interrupted because the police were summoned and Frank’s wife was notified of her husband’s activities.

    On May 17, 2002, I called Gene. Gene did all the talking, and insisted that Frank had not committed any immorality.

    However, our letter of July, 2002, and my essay, “Why March 10, 2002?,” are not founded on rumors, but on facts confirmed by witnesses.

    We know for sure that some immorality occurred, and it has yet to be dealt with in a Christ-honoring way. As long as Gene keeps fabricating his own conception of reality, the problems Gene and Frank have created will never be resolved. Many lives have been negatively impacted by Gene’s and Frank’s utter failure to deal with the truth regarding Frank’s misbehavior.

    Gene says he is “struggling to end a rumor that has no validity.” The reality is he is apparently trying very hard to keep people from knowing the truth.

    There is no reason for us to recant or apologize because we have stated basic uncontested realities, and we plead with Gene and Frank to quit covering up and to deal with some serious problems.”

    Like

  46. Notice that according to the letter—Frank’s wife was allegedly pressured, “To remain silent about what had happened……(she) was silent until March of 2002.”

    According to public records—in March of 2002—divorce proceedings were initiated towards a Frank Viola in Hillsborough County, Florida. That’s the county where Brandon Florida is located.

    That would put the—May 17, 2002—phone call with Gene occurring about two months after the divorce process was started.

    Like

  47. Of course, Frank Viola denies that any of this ever happened. So then the question becomes:

    If Frank Viola didn’t go after this teen girl—then why hasn’t he ever gone back to some type of middle or high school teaching job? Is there something in his background that he knows would disqualify him?

    Like

  48. Question—In the divorce, did Frank Viola demand that his wife pay him alimony because he supposedly couldn’t work a job after everyone had found out what he had done with the teen girl?

    From Frank Viola—It’s Time to Come Clean

    “According to folks involved with his former church at the time, Frank Viola wrote Forbidden Affection in the context of his attraction and involvement with one particular teenager over many months. The police finally found him alone with her in a motel room on May 26, 2000.”

    “Although she had been his student at the Brandon High School where he was then a teacher, and was in the church over which Mr. Viola was claiming to be the apostolic “worker”, she was 19 when the police finally found them together in the motel.”

    “Because of her age at that time, no charges were filed – although his wife learned of it.”

    “Frank ended up leaving his teaching position shortly after that event became public knowledge in 2002 – and actually demanded alimony from his ex-wife because he said he was no longer employable in that community as talk of his “adultery” spread.
    Folks from back then also claim that Frank Viola initially tried to explain away his trysts with that teenager, which went on for many months, by saying she was only helping him write that book and they would go to private places where there were no distractions. However, that could not have been true at the time of the motel incident, because the book was published in January 2000 (five months earlier).”

    “As far as I know, Frank is still using that lie in private with folks – who don’t know better because Frank avoids saying anything in public where others who do know can rebut any deception.”

    “It appears that Frank Viola has made sure there are no copies of that book available for purchase – even from used book dealers on the Internet. Interestingly, it is easy to find copies of his other earlier books, but not Forbidden Affection. I believe this is yet another case of him trying to re-invent himself as he covers up and seeks to obscure his history of seeking out and exploiting young women half his age – while married and also claiming to be a church leader.”

    “I have tried and tried to find a copy of that book, but there are none to be found.”

    Like

  49. Mwcamp asked me if these allegations apply to the FV who wrote Pagan Christianity (PC)? Or do they apply to the other FV who’s a registered sex offender?

    That’s a great question. I agree with Mwcamp that we need to do our research to “Sort through what’s real and what’s not.”

    Let’s sort through this:

    According to public records—there’s a convicted sex offender—Anthony Frank Viola who was last known to be living in Massachusetts as of 2008.

    Conviction date:
    11/3/1992

    Approx geographic area of incident:
    Osceola, Florida (Note: Osceola is over 100 miles away from Brandon, FL)

    Age of victim:
    Under age 16

    I agree with Mwcamp that this doesn’t appear to be the same FV who wrote PC. However, the alleged victims also don’t appear to be the same either.

    From what we just examined regarding the FV who wrote PC:

    Date of alleged motel room incident:
    5/26/2000

    Approx geographic area of incident:
    Brandon, FL

    Alleged age of girl:
    19

    Conviction:
    None—If she was over age 18, then it wasn’t technically illegal. No charges could have been filed.

    Here’s the thing—the Frank Viola who wrote PC—claims that the existence of the other FV automatically disproves all the allegations about the police catching him at the motel with the teen girl.

    Now the question becomes—Is there a pattern of Frank Viola lying to cover his tracks and consistently blaming others for his own willful sin?

    Well, I was going to wait until the end to post all the links but this link can’t wait that long—Here’s the link to the other FV:

    http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/flyer.do?personId=4137&x=7888a205-6b11-4680-93e1-a29c85f5de05

    Like

  50. Well, Avid Reader, this is some interesting material! And not at all irrelevant to a church discussion, since Mr Viola is or was a church and movement leader of some note.

    Like

  51. Doing this research—Here’s the part that concerns me the most:

    Question—After the first alleged incident, did Frank Viola use his ministry to continue going after, grooming, and seducing very young gals?

    According to a retired lawyer who has worked extensively in helping victims of clergy sex abuse—The FV who wrote PC—allegedly has a pattern of repeatedly going after teen girls and young women.

    “One of Frank Viola’s multiple teenage victims turned to a Christian counselor to help her deal with the deep emotional harm she suffered because Frank Viola sexually abused her.”

    “When it became obvious to her that Frank Viola represented a continuing unrepentant danger to others, she offered to issue a written statement – and public warning – about how Frank Viola preyed upon and sexually abused her and other teenagers she knew.”

    “Frank Viola’s smear machine kicked into high gear to then silence her by playing on her emotional vulnerabilities through threats and intimidation…..”

    “That teenager victim, by the way, was not the one involved in the Brandon church’s warnings about Mr. Viola abusing a teenager in that congregation—but is a different victim. Thus, her account of Frank Viola’s abuse stood independent of the Brandon church’s earlier witness statements and warnings about Frank Viola’s history of abuse – although all of those independent accounts, involving abuse of different teenagers, are strikingly similar….”

    “The multiple additional witnesses and victims who have shared their stories with us, and confirmed that Frank Viola has sexually abused multiple teenagers know who the real Frank Viola is.”

    “Such a man is not fit to be a leader in the Body of Christ or to continue promoting himself as a “church planter” and “apostolic” worker who continues to seek invitations to visit yet more churches where there are yet more vulnerable, potential victims…..”

    Like

  52. Remember this part:
    “Frank ended up leaving his teaching position shortly after that event became public knowledge in 2002 – and actually demanded alimony from his ex-wife because he said he was no longer employable in that community as talk of his “adultery” spread.”

    According to public records—there’s only one Frank Viola in Florida with a teaching credential. It was originally obtained in 1985. The credential has been expired for over ten years. It was last renewed in 2002.

    The full legal name on the teaching credential is Frank Anthony Viola.

    It gets even weirder because on FV’s blog—he admits that his middle name is Anthony—at the same time he’s emphasizing that he’s not the same Anthony Frank Viola who became a convicted sex offender in 1992.

    Question #1—Why did Frank Viola allow his teaching credential to expire? Is there a reason that he hasn’t wanted to pursue work as a middle/high school teacher in the last ten years?

    Question #2—After originally obtaining his teaching credential, since then how many times has Frank Viola been fingerprinted?

    Now it’s unclear as to whether FV was actually fired or maybe just suddenly left his teaching job when people found out about the motel allegations. Either way the fact that he allowed his credential to expire—makes you wonder if maybe FV hasn’t wanted to go back to teaching since about the timeframe that his own church was trying to confront him.

    Question #3—Does Frank Viola have a pattern of running from accountability when confronted with serious allegations?

    Like

  53. For Reference Purposes—Timeline of Frank Viola Allegations:

    1999—Eyewitness #1 (as referenced earlier) moves to Brandon, Florida to join Viola’s house church. There’s about 50 people in the church.

    1-1-2000: Viola self-publishes the book Forbidden Affection—allegedly dedicating it both to his wife and the teen girl he’s interested in.

    5-20-2000: The police allegedly find Viola alone in a motel room with that teen girl. No arrest is made. No charges are filed since she’s over eighteen.

    2000—Viola’s wife is notified by police. Gene Edwards allegedly pressures her to stay silent.

    3-27-2002—Viola’s wife files for divorce.

    2002: In the divorce, Frank Viola allegedly demands that his wife must pay him alimony since he can’t work after people found out about the motel incident.

    2002: That suggests that Viola had already left his high school teaching job by that point.

    6-19-2002—J. Blatt publishes Amazon review alleging manipulation and control in the house church movement. He is believed to be the same “John Blatt” who was involved in Viola’s “organic” group.

    7-25-2002—Viola’s own Brandon, Florida church allegedly tries to confront him. Viola won’t listen so Brandon church circulates their letter—warning others of the cover up.

    11-21-2002—“Final disposition” of Viola’s divorce.

    12-5-2002—Gene Edwards allegedly circulates letter blaming Viola’s wife for the divorce and claiming “Frank didn’t commit adultery.”

    Dec 2002—Viola self-publishes Pagan Christianity.

    The back cover claims, “Frank Viola is a high school Psychology and Philosophy teacher.”

    The book’s intro admits that Viola is living in “Brandon, Florida” in “Dec 2002.”

    2002—Viola’s own Brandon, Florida church allegedly publishes a website warning people about how Viola is allegedly using his ministry to go after young gals.

    2004—Eyewitness #1 (as referenced earlier) comes forward alleging spiritual abuse by Viola in his “organic church” and how FV allegedly shut down that church when people started asking questions.

    6-11-2005—John Blatt publishes timeline of how he joined Viola’s organic church and followed FV’s teachings. Then Blatt’s eyes were opened to see “the strange character and ways of Frank Viola and rejected the teachings of his latest books.”

    2009—Eyewitness #3 (as referenced earlier) joins Viola’s organic church.

    2013—Eyewitness #2 comes forward to allege spiritual abuse in Viola’s organic church.

    2013—For experiencing divorce—Eyewitness #3 is kicked out of the “organic church” by the “founders” of the organic church movement. He comes forward to allege spiritual abuse.

    2013—More allegations surface that Viola has been involved with multiple teen girls and very young women.

    2013—Another teen girl comes forward, trying to warn others that Viola has a pattern of using his ministry to go after very young women.

    2013—Viola allegedly continues trying to hide all of this—lest anyone find out what really happened.

    Like

  54. References:

    Note: Doing this research—I read a lot more than just these links. I took the time to really study public records and read both sides of the story. After doing all that research—my opinion is that these links are telling the truth:

    Links:

    1) Sexual Predation by Christian Author and “Apostle” Frank Viola:
    https://nathansvoice.org/2013/04/22/frank-viola/

    2) Google Books info on book Forbidden Affection:
    https://books.google.com/books/about/Forbidden_Affection.html?id=FznAkgEACAAJ&hl=en&output=html_text

    3) Here’s the letter from FV’s own church trying to hold him accountable and the letter where Gene Edwards blames the wife for the divorce:
    http://housechurch.org/hc-talk/2004-February/000599.html

    4) Lies, Sex Abuse and Cover Up
    https://crossroadjunction.com/2013/05/26/a-response-to-bart-breen/

    5) Jon Zens and Frank Viola—A Public Response:
    https://crossroadjunction.com/2013/05/15/jon-zens-and-frank-viola/

    6) Link to the other FV who’s the registered sex offender:
    http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/offender/flyer.do?personId=4137&x=7888a205-6b11-4680-93e1-a29c85f5de05

    7) Eyewitness #1 description from the lady who moved to Brandon, Florida to join Frank Viola’s church:
    http://housechurch.org/hc-talk/2004-February/000600.html

    8) Problems With Frank Viola (Referenced as Eyewitness #2):
    https://organicchurchproblems.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/problems-with-frank-viola-part-2/

    9) How I Had to Deal With Spiritual Abuse and Got Kicked out of a Cult by Derek Mooney (Eyewitness #3):
    http://derekmooney.com/blog/2013/04/15/moving-on-or-how-i-had-to-deal-with-spiritual-abuse-and-got-kicked-out-of-a-cult/

    10) A Pharisee of Pharisees by John Blatt (Eyewitness #4):
    http://testimonials.exchristian.net/2005/06/pharisee-of-pharisees.html

    11) More info from John Blatt:
    https://www.amazon.com/review/R1LCJP8MPW9H7S/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=0940232758

    12) Frank Viola: It’s Time to Come Clean:
    https://crossroadjunction.com/2013/07/02/frank-viola-2/

    Like

  55. Hmmmmm…..interesting……

    Turns out that Frank Viola doesn’t accept women in church leadership. He believes that the office of church elder only belongs to men.

    He writes: “Every church has leadership”

    “Elders were overseers and shepherds….Elders were simply brothers…..”

    “The women of the early church……we never find them superintending the church in times of crisis. Such a heavy burden seems to have fallen on the shoulders of the brothers—the women being spared!”

    “(Women) are never seen doing the messy work of overseeing the church’s problems.”
    (Rethinking the Wineskin p. 75-77)

    Apparently he missed Junia the Apostle, Phoebe the Deacon and Chloe the Pastor!

    Some scholars believe that Priscilla wrote the book of Hebrews. Why else would Paul sign his name to all his letters except for that one? Plus, notice how Hebrews 11:11 honors a mother while referencing childbirth in ways that a male author might have found uncomfortable.

    Then if Samuel wrote the book of Samuel—shouldn’t we also conclude that Ruth wrote the book of Ruth? And Esther wrote Esther?

    Like

  56. Avid Reader – a minor point compared with the goings on of Viola, but I smiled when I saw your designation of Junia as an ‘Apostle’. From what I have read, it is likely Junia was female, but it is not certain she was an apostle, and even if so, could be regarded as a founder of the church in the ‘apostles and prophets’ sense. This would not sit well with Paul at other places in his writing.

    If you want a good read on the evidence, try googling Junia Among the Apostles: The Double Identification Problem in Romans 16:7 by Daniel Wallace. He is always a good read on issues like this, even if your brain hurts by the time you get to the end!

    I actually think the translation ‘well known among the apostles’ actually reproduces the ambiguity very neatly, whether as an apostle or to the apostles is meant.

    There is an entire blog dedicated to dear old Junia, but it doesn’t do its (egallitarian) cause any favours by being more dogmatic than the evidence would allow.

    Like

  57. KAS,

    I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of pages of heavy research about Junia. There’s no ambiguity. The Apostle Paul made it clear that she was an apostle.

    Comp theology just can’t accept that so they tried to change her gender. The John Piper and Wayne Grudem crowd actually insists that she must be male. Then they tried to change Paul’s words to fit their theology!

    How come no other Apostle in the Bible gets questioned so much?
    The Apostle Paul wrote that Junia was “prominent among the apostles.”

    Then early church father Chrysostom(349-407) wrote “How great the wisdom of this woman must have been that she was even deemed worthy of the title of apostle.”

    Martin Luther in the 1500’s decided that Junia must be male, starting this controversy.

    There’s a fascinating book on this topic called—–Junia The First Woman Apostle by Eldon Jay Epp. It takes an in depth look at the history and does a great Greek word study. (Note: KAS, If you’re wondering—-that’s not the only book I’ve read on this topic. I just try to save other people time and effort by giving them the easiest place to start in doing research.)

    KAS, I’m asking you, when you have time, please do some more reading on this issue. To hear both sides of the story, you have to really read both sides. That’s what I did. I read hundreds and hundreds of pages of Comp theology and the other side. To have this discussion, I’m asking you to open your heart and really listen to the other side. There’s a reason the Bible tells us to “study.”

    Please start by reading the Junia book. Then read Philip Barton Payne’s book Man and Woman One in Christ. Then we can continue this discussion as long as you like.

    Like

  58. Hi Avid! Hope you are well.

    What makes you think I haven’t looked at both sides of this argument? I’m pretty sure I have read Epp’s work on this. Also some reviews and counter-arguments to his position. I even read an article in German to try and get away from being too Anglo-Saxon about the issue of Junia, but alas a whole load of very familiar names came up, including Epp and Grudem and the ESV …

    As to Epp, he is of course egalitarian and will argue an interpretation that is in accord with this. I part company with him in that he maintains Junia as an Apostle at the expense of rejecting the authenticity of the 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 passages. Far too high a price to pay. Of course complementarians will tend to argue for an interpretation in favour of their view, you have to take into account the presuppositions of the commenter.

    My German commentator also thought Epp inconsistent to quote Chrysostom in Rom 16 in support of a native speaker understanding, only to reject it with regard to the 1 Cor and 1 Tim passages. He certainly hasn’t spoken the last word on this.

    I think the criticism of the ESV is a bit unfair, cf its predecessor the RSV. It has changed the name to Junia in accordance with the current understanding of the manuscript evidence, and given a plausible version of the Greek as ‘to the apostles’. I wish it had given the other version in a footnote to alert the reader that this translation has an alternative, and is disputed.

    One wonders where the idea of Junia being suppressed comes from when she was in the KJV. She disappeared more comprehensively from the German translations following Luther, until very recently.

    I also think there is far too much being built on this small text, and too much speculation. What we could all agree on is that assuming Junia is correct, Paul greatly valued her ministry – by all accounts it was inspiring and self-sacrificial. She may even have been an ‘apostle’ in the sense of pioneer missionary, along with Andronicus, but making her a founder of the church is hard if not impossible to reconcile with Paul elsewhere in the NT.

    It’s a fascinating subject, but I wish all concerned would refrain from being too definitive about their understanding, and especially try to avoid giving in to an existing agenda.

    Like

  59. KAS,

    I’ve been doing good—just doing more reading and research. Thank you for asking.

    No one is saying Junia was a “founder” of the church. The whole point is that she was someone that the Apostle Paul referenced as a female church leader. Apostles held some type of spiritual authority that Comps won’t allow women to have today.

    Secondly, no one is “giving in to an existing agenda.” I didn’t invest all those many hours of hard reading just to give into someone else’s agenda. I did it because I want to really test everything. To dig down deeper and deeper to find out what the Bible really says that was obscured by biased translators. To understand why the church would allow the devil’s agenda to shut down half the spiritual gifts of the Body of Christ.

    From reading your comments here, I can tell that you do read extensively. That’s great. But there’s a difference between reading what Comps say about Egals and reading what Egals actually wrote. Comp books often misunderstand what Egal actually believe.

    Plus there’s also the problem that many of the books on this topic are simply hard to read. The info is presented in such a heavy scholarly way that only the most patient readers can last through it. So who knows. Maybe someday I’ll compile all my research into book form to make it easier for everyone else so they don’t have to wade through piles and piles of heavy reading. Until then, I hope you do find time to do some more reading on the other side of this topic.

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  60. Avid – it seems to me there are three aspects to Junia. One, Junia or Junias (female or male), two was this individual an apostle, and three if so what kind of apostle.

    Whilst the majority would now accept Junia as the most likely reading of the text, this is not absolutely certain. The Germans, who have a longer tradition of Junias (meaning a male), are more reluctant to change their view.

    Whether or not Junia was an apostle or know to the apostles is also disputed. I think it difficult to decide exactly who may be right on this one, simply going by the linguistics. I think it a bit dishonest if versions and commenters on this theme do not admit that there is no certainty in this matter. They are free to argue which they prefer, but not to assume or be too dogmatic they are right. tbh I generally find egalitarians too dogmatic on this one.

    Even for those who do accept that Junia as an apostle herself may be the correct translation, this does not entail her having been one of the foundation apostles and prophets, an Eph 4 ministry, but someone – together with Andronicus perhaps – was a delegate from a church, ‘sent out’ to perform a ministry. A pioneer missionary couple? A ministry that Paul is happy to acknowledge just as he is many other women named in the NT. What that ministry was is unknown.

    This latter point is accepted by some complementarians who see no problem with women having ministries, but who see the restrictions Paul placed elsewhere i.e. 1 Cor 14 and 1 Tim 2 as still being binding on the church, and therefore restricting the authority of apostleship both in the first century and today (if you accept some form of apostolic ministry continues) to men. I think this is where I would be found except I’m still not convinced the translation ‘known to the apostles’ is incorrect, influence in part by 1 Tim 2.

    I would be wary of blaming translation bias on the part of translators, as most if not all versions currently in common use have made immense efforts to try to prevent this kind of thing happening.

    The internet is a wonderful thing, but with an overriding need to separate expert knowledge from subjective opinion. Try finding out if coffee or a veggie or vegan diet is good for you, and you immediately encounter ever imaginable view possible, with a lot of plagiarism from other sites cited as research, and disinformation from the dairy industry. Plus advertising disguised as research.

    If you really want to bang your head against a wall, try sorting out the correct translation of Kephale as ‘head’ in the NT.

    Let’s be honest discussing this can be fun, but I am also aware that it can lead to too much time being spent on something not always very profitable. So yes I enjoy a discussion providing it doesn’t get too bogged down or take up too much time. I’ve made this mistake in the past!

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  61. KAS, do you eat meat sacrificed to idols?

    I ask because, despite how seriously this is taken in the NT, including Acts 6 and both 1 and 2 Corinthians as well as others. There is not a single Christian member or pastor I’ve talked to who has ever batted an eyelash about this. The opinion I’ve heard over and over again is that this was a teaching that was needed for a short period of time as the Gentiles and Jews had different dietary restrictions, and that this restriction was done away with.

    However, there is absolutely no evidence for this. In fact, in Corinthians, Paul is suggesting that those with the stronger conscience (able to eat meat sacrificed to idols without guilt) ought not to eat that meat lest someone with a weaker conscience happens to observe them and violate their own conscience.

    The reason I bring this up is that if we’re going to argue the place of women in the church, we ought to test this hermeneutic. Is the 1st century Pauline restriction on women in church leadership a restriction that is for all times, or is it, like modern Reformed pastors would like to claim, a restriction that was based on a rigid cultural patriarchy and not wanting to violate peoples’ consciences?

    Again, lest you jump into the wrong point of view. Paul emphasizes, there is nothing inherently wrong with meat sacrificed to idols. The church is forbidding something that has no inherent moral problem simply because the one side has a strong (but erroneous) moral objection to the practice.

    So, if we take a similar hermeneutic that there is not anything inherently immoral about women in leadership, but that women were either entirely, or mostly except for a few counter-examples, precluded from leadership in the early church, I doubt we would find anything of significance that tells us that meat sacrificed to idols is completely okay now and women in leadership is not, other than our own presuppositions.

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  62. Honestly, this is what I’ve found so lacking in Reformed complementarian circles. They can argue parts of speech and Greek grammatical rules till they’re blue in the face, but when you show them that the very argument that they make for one position they take is the exact opposite argument they make for another position.

    Here’s an example. Households and “paedo vs credo”. Reformed infant baptists (paedobaptism) supporters claim that when Lydia and the jailer and their “households” were baptized meaning that their children would have been baptized, obviously. However, when dealing with communion, the argument is that children were barred from the Passover until they were “of age”. Specifically, they argue that “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.” means the adult males, and not the wives or children. The importance of this is whether “covenant” children participated in the covenant meal – meaning that they would, by default, take communion, or whether they did not participate.

    But, again, they are very sophisticated in their argumentation about paedobaptism and credocommunion until you realize that the paedobaptism argument contradicts the credocommunion argument and the credocommunion argument contradicts the paedobaptism argument.

    In the same way, I think that clearer passages are completely ignored and obscure passages are elevated to make the case against women having certain roles in the church.

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  63. Mark – I haven’t eaten meat at all for some years now! I adopted a veggie, almost vegan diet some time ago, and it has paid off healthwise. Weight, blood values. It’s a change of diet, not adoption of a ‘philosophy’ let alone a kind of religion, as too many vegans seem to be and who get fanatical and can talk of little else; and I wouldn’t say it is necessarily permanent, although I still have no desire to eat meat at the moment.

    I don’t think the issue of conscience with regard to meat and idols has any bearing on what ministry women may exercise in the church.

    My understanding of Paul when he is being complementarian, and unlike what you say about the reformed view (I’m not reformed!) is that he bases his argument on pre-fall creation. It has nothing to do with culture, and you will find in the passages over which this argument rages Paul always alludes to or even quotes the Old Testament. This takes the issue out of the realm of culture. Peter is similar as well. This is a major reason I don’t find egalitarian arguments using culture convincing, notwithstanding the Ephesian contradiction (Eph 5 versus 1 Tim 2).

    There is nothing, incidentally, instrinsically wrong with patriarchy in and of itself. I for one would never take this word to imply lording it over or abusive bullying, it is not so used in the bible. I think the ‘smash the patriarchy’ mantra of modern feminism is another manifestion of the rage against God so blatant in western societies at present, since God himself is the ultimate Patriarch. The benign rule of a loving Father. The model for any human father rule, the origin of the very concept of being a father.

    Christians need wisdom in reclaiming the legitimate use of this word from those who have misused it to be control-freaks and abusers, and I do understand it has been abused by some.

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  64. I think the ‘smash the patriarchy’ mantra of modern feminism is another manifestation of the rage against God

    KAS, have you considered that, if there is rage rather than a righteous desire for justice, that that rage would be based in the rampant abuse of women by men throughout the world?

    That is not ‘God’. That is man.

    Liked by 1 person

  65. Lea,

    Concise, precise, and exact.

    Did not our LORD create woman in His image as well, or am I simply imagining the Scriptures?

    Well said, Lea, and to date, I haven’t heard of a clear, concise definition of the word “feminism,” for its ideology differs amongst people groups. And I still have yet to find the words complementarian and egalitarian in my Bible and the space between the lines is blank; no hidden revelations there. Smile!

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  66. KAS wrote,

    “The Germans, who have a longer tradition of Junias (meaning a male), are more reluctant to change their view.”

    That’s because Martin Luther decided that Junia must be male when he translated the Bible into the language of his people.

    KAS: “The internet is a wonderful thing, but with an overriding need to separate expert knowledge from subjective opinion.”

    Well, the whole reason why I invest so many hours into reading real books is because I don’t just believe everything that’s on the Internet. KAS, let’s be clear, my conclusions come from hours and hours and hours of heavy duty research. That means reading books, especially books that are hard to read. I didn’t just wake up one morning, read something on line and change my opinion.

    Junia was a lady Apostle serving in early church leadership. That’s what I found through heavy duty research. KAS, hopefully by now you understand how many years I’ve devoted to heavy reading to reach these conclusions. Now I’m going to go read some more real books. 🙂

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  67. By the way—several months ago, THOT asked me to read the book Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola. THOT was very specific in asking me to read the green cover version not the red cover.

    THOT—if you are reading this right now, I’ve read the green cover version as you asked.

    Here’s my thoughts on that book:
    1) The Bible warns us not to be easily tossed to and fro by every new wind of doctrine.

    “We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.”
    Eph 4:14 (NLT)

    2) The Bible warns us that “Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following.” Acts 20:30 (NLT)

    We are responsible to test every new doctrine. Not to just believe everything but to really test it out because there are people spreading false doctrines to gain followers for themselves.

    Now I’m an open minded person. I read this book with an open mind. I opened my heart to really listen to what he had to say. But I still have to be totally honest about what’s in that book.

    The problem is that Frank Viola is making up his own rules. Viola forbids what God NEVER forbade. Viola is actually putting limits on believers that God never put.

    What really got to me in reading this book was how Viola kept denying the actual example of Christ. Jesus taught daily in the temple. Yet Viola claims that never happened because it doesn’t fit his premise.

    Now think about the story of Jesus in Mark 12(ISV)
    “As Jesus sat facing the offering box, he watched how the crowd was dropping their money into it. Many rich people were dropping in large amounts.”

    Then Jesus sees the poor widow woman put in her last few pennies. What did Jesus do? Did Jesus stop her? Did Jesus say that every brick and mortar church is wrong?

    That would have been the perfect time for Jesus to announce that all church buildings had ended with the NT. But He didn’t—because He didn’t want to. Jesus doesn’t need Viola to teach him what’s right and wrong in the church.

    We know that Jesus was in the habit of financially helping poor people (John 13:19). Most likely Jesus gave the poor widow some money when no one was looking. However, the point is that if Jesus had wanted to tell us that every brick and mortar church was wrong—then He would have. Let’s not start putting our words in Jesus’ mouth.

    Note: I’m not suggesting that people should be pressured into giving their last few dollars. The whole point is that if Jesus had wanted to get rid of all brick and mortar churches—He would have said so. There’s a reason that the Bible warns us not to add anything to God’s words or take anything away from it.

    Here’s my thoughts on that book:
    https://www.amazon.com/review/R2OVK6GLDDH0RV/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1414364555

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  68. Romans, 16:7 “Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellowprisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” My thoughts on this passage are the Andronicus and Junia were a married team working in an apostolistic ministry together as a single unit. Dennis Bennett and his wife, Reita, worked very well in the same apostolic way in Huston, Texas

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