How Local Churches Become Enslaved to Evil – Part 4

3Jn 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. (10) So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

This is the fourth installment in this series. It may have many, many parts because I have 36 years worth of stories to tell about evil in the local church. I say “local” church because in Christ’s true church which consists only of His genuine, regenerate people, such evil does not exist. In this present world, sure, there will be flaws and sin in the lives of the saints – but these we confess and repent of. The things I speak of here however are a different beast entirely.

In every single local church that I have served as pastor, Diotrephes has always shown up. It is in yielding to the offspring of Diotrephes that churches typically become enslaved to evil. It is this kind of thing:

2Co 11:20 For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

There is something in the typical professing Christian that clings to a false idea of “greatness.” A worldly concept of it, you see. Greatness is power and exaltation. Greatness is authority. Greatness is the guy or gal who just seems to be the one who tells others what to do and “strikes them in the face” if they balk at obedience.

So here is what it looks like.

Continue reading “How Local Churches Become Enslaved to Evil – Part 4”

The Real Source of Evil Hiding in Local Churches

Mat 13:37-39 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. (38) The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, (39) and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.

Last week I listened to a podcast by James White, a well-known Reformed Baptist apologist whose program is called The Dividing Line. He was addressing a statement by Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore who was responding to the Houston Chronicle’s series on the hundreds of sexual abuse cases in SBC churches and how they have been covered up by SBC leaders.

White took Moore to task for saying that the Roman Catholic doctrines of the priesthood are not the cause of the hundreds of pedophilia crimes perpetrated by RC priests. After insisting on just the opposite conclusion, ie, that RC clerical pedophilia is indeed caused by the false doctrine of the priest being “another Christ,” White pointed to another cause of sexual abuse by church leaders in the SBC – bad ecclesiology (ie, the doctrine of the church).

White said that among Southern Baptists, just about anyone who claims to be called to the pastoral ministry is assumed to in fact have that calling from the Lord and no one is to question it. I assume then that what White means is that this is a broad path by which the wicked can creep into local churches, even as pastors. White then emphasized the need for a biblical ecclesiology – namely, local churches being led by multiple elders who are biblically qualified and who have been installed in their offices according to biblical procedures. He did not overtly say so, but I hear him saying that the sins of the “sheep” need to be kept in check, and therefore biblically qualified elders must be in place in a local church to ensure that the flock’s sin does not break out among them.

Now, I also believe that the biblical pattern for church leadership is that of multiple elders who are qualified for that office according to Scripture. I believe as well that Rome’s false doctrine of the priesthood absolutely contributes to pedophiles hiding in the churches. And I too agree that many, many people who claim to be called by the Lord to be a pastor have not heard the Lord’s calling at all.  However…

Continue reading “The Real Source of Evil Hiding in Local Churches”

The Cognitive Dissonance Created by Hypocrites

The following is taken from a note from a friend. It is an example of how the Lord opens our eyes to the confusion and fog cast by those who claim to be fine Christians but aren’t. Let me define “cognitive dissonance” for those of you who may not be familiar with the term. Or rather, let’s call on good old Wikipedia for a definition:

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (psychological stress) experienced by a person who holds two or more contradictory beliefsideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a person’s belief clashes with new evidence perceived by the person. When confronted with facts that contradict beliefs, ideals, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction to reduce their discomfort.

In other words, for the genuine Christian in a local church, the contradictory beliefs are 1) The claim of those around me that they are also real regenerate people, but 2) Their attitudes and behaviors do not square with the Bible’s statements about who a real Christian is. Therefore I have this stress, this tension in myself which I try to resolve. And the way we usually resolve it until we understand what the truth really is, is to assume that my observations and judgments either about the people or about Scripture, must be wrong.

Now, here is what my friend said:

At times it has been an almost crushing weight of truth to realize that people (many people) are not who they portray themselves to be. You’ve probably heard of the term cognitive dissonance – our mind’s attempt to mesh together opposing beliefs or values into something that makes sense for our reality. That term probably sums up for me much of the last 25 years of my life.  My husband was not who I thought, members of my family, practically my entire church – none were who I thought them to be- and in ripping away the veil which had shrouded those people, it’s as though God ripped away a bigger, wider veil.  He has shown by so many examples that the majority of people who call themselves believers and attend church are fakes. It’s been shocking and incredibly painful.

Yet truly God has been kind at the same time by also bringing a few wonderful, genuine believers to come alongside us, and for us to bear their burdens in return. What He has made more clear to me is that there really is an ultimate and continual conflict between good and evil – there always has been since the Garden.  It’s everywhere and all around us and yet I didn’t see it, not really, not like this, until the evil of my husband and my church was exposed.

But as G.K.Beale says [in his commentary on Revelation]  there is a remnant. A small part which faithfully maintains its witness, thanks be to God. This is also what I had begun to feel as the dust settled a little and I looked around. There are those who truly and sincerely love God and want to please and obey Him. They’re real.  We may be scattered, but we’re never too far apart, never without hope and encouragement.  God never fails to give it.

And there you have it. The cognitive dissonance created by hypocrites and the shocking yet refreshing experience that comes to us when the Lord takes away the veil, opens our eyes to reality, and sets us free of the enemy’s deceptions.