How Most Evangelical Churches and Ministries are Selling Indulgences, Just Like Rome

Galatians 1:6-8 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

My thesis in this article is just as stated in the title: Many if not most evangelical churches, teachers, and counselors are teaching a system that is a false gospel. A system of rules and methods which, it is promised, will “redeem” the soul – both your own soul and the souls of others, even the unrepentant! Let me explain. First, some background.

I am currently re-reading Roland Bainton’s wonderful biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand. Early on, Bainton describes the world Luther grew up in and the “church” he was taught to believe in before Christ opened his eyes. Rome has not changed, by the way nor has she ever repudiated the doctrines taught in the 1500’s. How can she? After all, Rome is infallible, right?

Well, listen to some things Luther was taught:

Luther simply had not the capacity to fulfill the conditions [ie, of the holiness of God]. But if he could not, others might. The Church, while taking an individualistic view of sin, takes a corporate view of goodness. Sins must be accounted for one by one, but goodness can be pooled; and there is something to pool because the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and the Son of God were better than they needed to be for their own salvation. Christ in particular, being both sinless and God, is possessed of an unbounded store. These superfluous merits of the righteous constitute a treasury which is transferable to those whose accounts are in arrears.

The transfer is effected through the Church and, particularly, through the pope, to whom as the successor of St. Peter have been committed the keys to bind and loose. Such a transfer of credit was called an indulgence.

Precisely how much good it would do had not been definitely defined, but the common folk were disposed to believe the most extravagant claims. No one questioned that the pope could draw on the treasury in order to remit penalties for sin imposed by himself on earth. In fact, one would suppose that he could do this by mere fiat without any transfer. The important question was whether or not he could mitigate the pangs of purgatory.

During the decade in which Luther was born a pope had declared that the efficacy of indulgences extended to purgatory for the benefit of the living and the dead alike. In the case of the living there was no assurance of avoiding purgatory entirely because God alone knew the extent of the unexpiated guilt and the consequent length of the sentence, but the Church could tell to the year and the day by how much the term could be reduced, whatever it was. And in the case of those already dead and in purgatory, the sum of whose wickedness was complete and known, an immediate release could be offered.

There were places in which these signal mercies were more accessible than in others. For no theological reason but in the interest of advertising, the Church associated the dispensing of the merits of the saints with visitation upon the relics of the saints. Popes frequently specified precisely how much benefit could be derived from viewing each holy bone. Every relic of the saints in Halle, for example, was endowed by Pope Leo X with an indulgence for the reduction of purgatory by four thousand years. The greatest storehouse for such treasures was Rome. Here in the single crypt of St. Callistus forty popes were buried and 76,000 martyrs. Rome had a piece of Moses’ burning bush and three hundred particles of the Holy Innocents. Rome had the portrait of Christ on the napkin of St. Veronica. Rome had the chains of St. Paul and the scissors with which Emperor Domitian clipped the hair of St. John. The walls of Rome near the Appian gate showed the white spots left by the stones which turned to snowballs when hurled by the mob against St. Peter before his time was come….Another had a coin paid to Judas for betraying our Lord…able to confer an indulgence of 1400 years.

The false Roman gospel, you see. It still stands today. None of these things have ever been pronounced error by Rome.

But the spirit of this same false gospel is alive and well not only in the Vatican, it is thriving in the evangelical churches as well. Indulgences are being announced and sold. How so? Let me show you.

If you could be a fly on the wall in the pastor’s study or counseling room in most evangelical churches today, listening in on what victims of domestic violence are being told (or rather, “commanded”), you would hear over and over again this very scenario:

  • Even if your husband is abusing you, God does not permit you to divorce him
  • If you will become a more “Excellent Wife” [the title of one of the most notorious books promoting this nonsense] then you will be able to redeem your marriage.
  • Read this book that I wrote. It will teach you things that you can do in order to save your husband’s soul, and more importantly, save your marriage. God hates divorce, you know [that’s not in the Bible by the way]

In other words, even though the domestic violence victim is in a hellish purgatory of suffering and perhaps even death, she is a sinner just like her abuser and God has called her to pay for her own sins by humbly accepting this suffering. But there is hope. Through the books and counseling and teaching of this self-proclaimed priesthood, the abuse victim can go on a kind of pilgrimage, visit the fabled relics of saintly women who have suffered before and gone on to their reward. And if she will do all of this, these mini-popes will grant to her an indulgence, pronouncing her justified before God.

As soon as the gold in the coffer rings; the rescued soul to heaven springs

You say that I am exaggerating? I differ with you. These false Christian leaders are setting the price, selling the indulgences, and pronouncing all who drop the coin in by doing their programs to be “redeemed.”  Oh, and for those who will not pay? Off to purgatory with them! Ex-communication! Hand them over to Satan!

These evangelical indulgences are just as worthless as those sold by Rome. Christ alone is our Redeemer. Reject all who tell you that you must “do” and “don’t” to mitigate God’s wrath against you. Jesus really has paid it all. We simply embrace Him by faith alone and His righteousness, full and complete comes to us while our sin, full and complete, goes to Him on the cross to be paid in full once and for all.

Martha Peace. Jim Newheiser. John Piper. Voddie Baucham. Are you people listening? Nope. You will just get angry at what I have said. But then, I didn’t really write this for you anyway.

 

 

My Experience as a Pastor With Evil in its Favorite Nesting Place – The Visible Church

Gal 1:14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Php 3:4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

2Co 11:16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.

In the first part of this article, it is going to sound like I am boasting. I assure you that I am not, and so I ask you as did Paul, to bear with me a bit while I talk about myself. It is necessary in order to make my main point, as you will see.

Not far from where we now live is the small town of Monmouth, Oregon where you will find Western Oregon State University. That is the universtiy (college at the time I attended) which my wife and I receive our Bachelor’s degrees from way back in 1973.  I was thinking about those days recently and the realization struck me that in my pre-pastorate life, things went quite well for me. I was a Christian then, but not very strong in the faith yet. Here are some of my experiences from that era:

  • I won the freshman outstanding chemistry student award
  • I was regularly recognized by my science, math, and history professors as their “best student.” regularly posting the highest exam scores of the class
  • Both my wife and I graduated with honors
  • My senior year I was chosen out of a large group of applicants for a deputy sheriff’s position in Benton County, Oregon
  • I attended the Oregon Police Academy (Camp Withycombe as it was known back then) and placed second in the class academically, and I won the shooting trophy for scoring the best target with my .38 revolver
  • Two years later I once again was hired out of a large number of applicants as a deputy sheriff in Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon. I would have the same experience some 8 years later when I was hired as a police officer in Gresham, Oregon, having competed for the position with over 200 applicants.
  • In seminary I won the biblical languages award and was also given the honor of preaching at the graduate class/faculty chapel.

And then, in 1983, I was a police officer on a Friday, and a pastor of my first church on Monday.

Alright then, that’s is the end of the boasting. It was also the end of my advancement in the eyes of man.

What has been my experience these 35 years as a pastor in the local, visible church? Oh sure, there were some tough times as a police officer. I was hated by criminals I arrested, but almost always we enjoyed real comradery with fellow officers. But in the vast majority of my experience in the church, I have found that the enemy sits in the pews. Police officer and comrade on Friday. Hated and targeted by false christians on Monday. The change was that real, and that fast.

We now enjoy a very small church of genuine believers here in Tillamook, but this came only after years and years of attacks from counterfeits who had, as Jude puts it, crept in among us. They professed Christ but they hated His truth and anyone to spoke it to them. And as a result, as a whole over these three plus decades of pastoral ministry, I have been hated. There have been no accolades. No awards. Just hatred from those who claim they serve the same Lord I do.

The Lord has been very faithful to us. He raised up the A Cry for Justice ministry in which He used us to expose evil hiding in the church in the form of domestic abusers. He has continued to circulate the books he impelled me to write and we regularly receive the thanks of abuse victims who have been greatly helped by them. But, I say again, as a whole, the mass of what claims to be the Christian Church has hated me.

When I was a police officer, I apprehended wicked people so they could receive what was coming to them. I loved it. In fact the reason I was hired over all the other applicants at the Gresham Police department was that in my application interview one older, experienced Lieutenant asked me, “Jeff, why do you want to be a police officer?” My answer was, “because I love to throw bad guys in jail.” He stood up and said “THAT is the answer I was looking for!”

I still love to throw bad guys in jail by exposing them whenever I can, and that means exposing hypocrites in local churches parading as Christians among the flock.

But my point is, I received a slap on the back for doing this as a police officer. “Good job nailing that armed robber, Crippen! That was great police work!” We were a team. We backed each other up.

That all ended when I became a pastor. Why? Because local churches are filled with people who are fake christians. Or with people who might be Christians but who have been so brainwashed by false teaching that they have been told that it is unloving to throw bad guys in jail! The former class is far more common however.

What is my point in all this? My point is that this is the very same experience the Apostle Paul had. When he was called by Christ, he left all behind. And what was he greeted with in the church? Well, he met some genuine believers. He had the faithful Timothy and Epaphroditus. There were a handful of other faithful brothers and sisters standing with him. But largely, his experience in the visible church is that wicked people would creep in and before long they would have the whole place turned against him. Peter found it to be the same, as did Jude, and of course as did the Lord Jesus Himself.

And so sometimes I find myself reminiscing about those “good ol’ days” when Jeff was advancing, when people would say “you have a great career ahead of you,” when outstanding performance was recognized and rewarded. Those were the days. And then I have to talk to myself and remind myself that following Christ looks exactly what my experience as a pastor has been. That my reward, my “atta boys” need to come from Christ, not from man. Because if all the world slaps you on the back, flatters you, praises you….well, you had better take a hard look at yourself and see if you know Jesus at all.

Local Churches are Giving Standing Ovations to the Wicked (Part 3)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1Co 5:1-2)

As we have seen in this series of posts, local churches are giving standing ovations to unrepentant (or falsely repentant) wicked people. As you can see from the verses quoted above (which I quote very, very frequently), this is the very same sin that was pervasive in the church at Corinth. Boasting about how “merciful” they were, pronouncing a grossly evil man among them to be one of the saints. Paul nailed them.

Here then is still another instance which took place recently. Once again, in the absence of any repentance, people walking in sin who claim to be Christians were give a hearty round of applause from the congregation. This is how it went down:

An unmarried couple who have been living together for quite sometime have several children. They profess to be Christians and have been attending the church regularly.  After meeting with another “mentor” couple, also members of this church, the couple appeared on the platform of the church sanctuary at the Sunday morning worship service. The man got down on his knee and asked the woman to marry him. She accepted and a ring was given….and the whole place burst out in applause. No mention of sin. No mention of repentance.

Now, not only is there the issue of fornication, but it turns out that this fellow has been in jail several times this past year. Professing Christian. Living in sexual immorality. Committing crimes. He did mention to the congregation that he had had “a difficult year for him.” To which the pastor replied in front of all, “This is what God’s grace is all about.” Applause.  Shouts of “that was so beautiful!” That pastor, in his sermon, went on to chastise “nit-picky” Christians who are ungracious and unforgiving.

Now, if you have experienced abuse at the hands of the typical conscienceless, deceiving, sociopathic abuser, red warning lights are going to be going off in your head already in regard to this man. It is quite probable that this church just handed this woman over to an abuser, serving as his ally in evil. And the pastor and church are culpable. They are guilty. They are arrogant and they are presenting a false gospel. They are pronouncing a wicked man, who has been walking in habitual sin, to be justified and righteous in God’s sight. In addition, other abuse victims who are sitting out there in the pews will be further enslaved, confused, guilted, and shamed by all of this.

Do you realize that a wicked, evil person – even the devil himself – can easily stand up in front of a church audience and weep and wail in fake repentance, pleading for forgiveness, “confessing” his sin, and all the while be lying in every single word he utters? But, you see, so many people today who sit in church pews and claim the name of Christ for themselves, love this message of cheap forgiveness. Why? Because they know that if this is true —

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, (1Jn 2:4)

–then they stand condemned before God and their claim to Christ is false.