Diary of a Church Refugee
Christians must at all times adhere to and follow what is biblically and therefore theologically true. This chronicle of one Christian’s experience in the contemporary Church underlines our assertion that the western Church has slipped away from solid adherence to truth in all sorts of areas. The experience outlined here describes what happens when a person stands up for biblical inerrancy and truth in today’s Church. At first they are tolerated with some measure of grace. Over time that grace turns into disdain and then outright hostility and ostracism. The love for truth and one’s brother in Christ soon gives way to intolerance and graceless-ness. Anyone blessed with the gift of discernment, prophecy and a love for responsible biblical exegesis in can find themselves unwelcome – see our article on ‘therapeutic Christians’.
Experience and respect (although it has not been earned by the churches concerned) dictates that the names of the actual churches and the identity of our chronicler be with-held. We will call him Jack.
An Anglican genesis - circa.1980
Jack was saved into the Anglican (Episcopalian) denomination, where he began his journey to un-deception. Once he had been thoroughly discipled into the faith, by recourse to the Bible and teaching tapes by reputable evangelicals, he awakened to the fact that his church entertained many false teachings and false prophets. The excesses and errors of being ‘slain in the Spirit’ and casting demons out of Christians became apparent and disturbed Jack greatly. He was refused full-immersion water baptism because he had been sprinkled as a child. He witnessed many false healings and even the person who brought him to Christ now openly prays to Mary (while remaining an Anglican) – an act Jack knew was rank idolatry. Little did he know it but Jack was on the narrow road to exclusion for his faith.
Exodus to the AOG – circa. 1988
Jack left his Anglican church expecting to find a more biblical Christianity in the Assemblies of God. Unfortunately, Jack found he had escaped Egypt only to find himself in a Christian sub-cultural wilderness.
Jack understood Christianity is rooted and built on Jesus Christ but his new denomination taught that Jesus was not enough. To be truly Christian one had to be ‘baptised in the Spirit’, contrary to Romans 8:9 and 1 Corinthians 12. The practice of speaking in tongues was widely recognised as the mark of individual Christian legitimacy. Then came the need for carpet time with pressure exerted to be ‘slain in the Spirit’. Jack watched as these doctrines led pastors to orchestrate services to create altered states of consciousness, or a kind of engineered ecstasy that made all sorts of spiritualised manifestations possible. He looked on amazed as prophecy after prophecy, encouraged by the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ doctrine, proved to be false and those who made the prophecies were not identified as false prophets, in accordance with the Scriptures. He wondered what had happened to reverence and the fear of the Lord.
It was while Jack was in the AOG that he became increasingly aware of the dominant role played by pastors and elders who insisted Christians had to be under their ‘covering’ and subject to their teaching. He ran headlong into this heavy shepherding when he tried to point out discrepancies between Scripture, teaching and church practice. Jack understood that each Christian was responsible for their own walk with the Lord, but he soon found acceptability in the church was bound to a group-think adherence to internal cultural norms.
On to the Baptists - circa. 1990
Feeling the heat of rejection growing stronger Jack decided to shake the AOG dust off his feet and move on. His odyssey took him to the Baptist denomination. Sadly, Jacks hopes for a safe spiritual home in the Baptist bosom ran headlong into two more hurdles. First came the move towards women in eldership. Jack could see there were clear Biblical injunctions against women elders and pastors and was amazed to find the exegetical clarity on this subject was clouded by all sorts of rationalisations and obfuscations (see our article on women in eldership).
By now Jack was a mature and seasoned Christian. He was able to present an assertive biblically-based case for his objections to false teaching and practice but he was largely ignored. He warned his church repeatedly that a variety of things it taught or did were unbiblical and could only lead to undesirable outcomes. He was often proved right but he was still snubbed. Then came the whole Toronto blessing fad. It accentuated the gifts of the Spirit manifestations Jack had seen in the AOG beyond anything he could have imagined. His biblically-based objections quickly led to his excommunication from his church – cast out of fellowship. Jack was now a spiritual refugee.
Independent fellowships - circa. 1998
Moving from the larger denominations Jack began a long association with various independent Christian churches regarded in their time as leaders in progressive contemporary expressions of evangelical Christianity. Jack expected to find a more authentic Christianity outside the older protestant denominations. He hoped that independent Churches which claimed to be properly evangelical would be free of the errors he had observed in the large denominations.
The first church he attended fell apart before he could be pronounced persona-non-grata. It self-destructed under the weight of its own errors and the internal strife that often accompanies fellowships that are more man-centered than God-centered. Jack saw it coming and warned against its slavish adherence to the Copland style faith-health/prosperity gospel. By now Jack was alive to all the excesses and errors outlined in the Truth Watch Long Declaration, and 95 Thesis documents found on this site. He later came to play an important part in compiling both documents, alongside others who had gone through pilgrimages similar to his own. Jack was compelled to seek yet another spiritual home.
By now the whole church scene had made Jack gun-shy. He took an 18-month sabbatical, nurturing himself spiritually by listening to tapes by reputable theologians. After this well-earned break Jack returned to fellowship only to find himself re-submerged in a mess of questionable theology taught by elders who should have known better. He was confronted with triumphalist ‘kingdom now’ theology – the false belief in a Church that would triumph over all opposition before Christ returned. The obvious contradictions with John’s Revelation and numerous other scriptural references were lost on the purveyors of this false doctrine.
For a while Jack entertained the possibility that something was wrong with him. He even submitted to the demon removal merchants who cast a legion of them out of Jack, but to no avail. Jack remained addicted to biblical truth and implacably opposed to obvious teaching error. The false prophets kept coming, the women kept being appointed as elders, false ‘revivals' came and went, prophecied dates for end times events and the rapture came and went too. Replacement theology, the false idea that God had finished with Israel became a popular belief. While the church Jack attended and those he visited majored on ‘the gifts’ they completely neglected proper exegesis, discernment and wisdom. They also continued to be short on grace and brotherly love when their cherished ideas were challenged. A false unity and piety was being elevated above truth.
Christian Radio and TV
Needless to say Jack spent a lot of time in Christian book stores, listening to Christian radio and watching Christian TV. With dismay he witnessed Christian radio becoming totally ecumenical and littered with error, even to the extent they had the Pope on live when he was in country. He found the Christian media saturated with ecumenical false teachings and a self-centered emphasis on the felt needs of Christians. He decided Christian bookshops were danger zones; books on Y2K were all wrong, others on the imminent return of Jesus were also proved wrong. Books on how to pray the rosary, labyrinth prayer, unbiblical spiritism, ecumenism, false doctrine and eventually the whole ‘emerging church’ nonsense filled the shelves and left the real books of the faith cast to the back of the stores.
As Jack fought to stay committed to the Church community despite all his misgivings he joined the public meeting circuit. He attended numerous ‘healing/deliverance’ ministry meetings headed by overseas Christian celebs. Over that time he failed to witness any genuine healings and heard a lot of teachings he recognised as nothing more than hype and what he likes to call ‘wacko doctrines’. Jack’s fruitless search for genuine teaching and healings started to erode his faith, so he stopped attending the meetings. However, on his own initiative, he did host many public meetings, bringing in sound Bible teachers who dramatically exposed the errors that were happening. Their cry was lost in the wilderness of Church hubris.
The last cut is the deepest – circa. 2000-2013
Jack became a hardened anti-error veteran. While he still wanted the best for the Church and did his best to be gracious towards all Christians and the churches with which he was associated, he now did so with his eyes wide open. Just when he thought he had run out of good churches a new church opened up in his area. On checking it out he found it held a lot of promise. Those establishing the church seemed to be doctrinally sound and proclaimed a vision for the church that was thoroughly biblical. Jack joined and immersed himself in the church, giving his all in service.
But of course, things slowly began to unravel as the church became ‘institutionalised. It took about a decade, but it finally succumbed to the same error ridden ethos common to the modern western Church. It started when the elders no longer put supreme confidence in the word of God. Jack believes the slide from submission to God’s world accelerated when the elders became besotted with the teachings of their own in-house psychologist who was prone to overlaying Scripture with his human-centered psychological training. A wolf in sheep’s clothing had got amongst the flock and the elders could not see it. The demons in Christians teaching came into the church along with an emphasis on counseling. Formally, ‘normal’ people’ came to see the need for counseling from the wolf. Pretty soon very large numbers were going to the wolf and it is a fair bet that the elders now saw they had to go along with him or risk a rift in the church. Despite Jack’s previous warnings that were proven right eldership would not listen. Jack hosted at least 5 international discernment speakers at this church,. Despite their clear biblical instruction their teachings were ignored.
True to form Jack challenged both the elders and the wolf but found himself in the midst of a wolf pack. The elders he once counted as friends became opponents and eventually refused to talk to him. Seeking reconciliation on biblical terms with the wolf, Jack was met with a very hostile rejection. As usual grace and brotherly love were the first casualties of deception.
Soon a once sound church embraced ecumenical ideas as elders refused to use their God-given authority to identify and eliminate error. Celebrity Christianity became the norm with an unbiblical emphasis on the teachings of people like Rick Warren whose global peace plan replicated the kingdom now errors long since refuted by biblical scholarship. Jack was officially gagged by the elders. He watched from the sidelines as inconvenient chapters and sections of Scripture were skipped over to avoid unpalatable truths. Jack’s gift of discernment was the last thing the church elders wanted or respected. The once common proclamation of the gospel was absent with no altar calls for salvation. Sin was no longer confronted. Repentance, reconciliation and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ were hardly discussed or taught. The words ‘born again’ were never used. Eventually, Jack was left with no other option but to resign his church membership and leave. He is currently taking a well-earned rest from his fight to uphold correct biblical doctrine and proper church practice.
Jack finally came to the point where the limits of grace had been reached, he had lost all hope in the church and was battle weary. In his own words: “The Bible clearly states that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth and we are also told that the Spirit will lead us into all truth. The only conclusion that I can come to is that the [churches I have attended] are not part of the Church that the Lord Jesus is building: a church that the gates of hell will not prevail against. The Church generally has lost its compass its rudder and its anchor and desperately needs the word. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Come Lord Jesus, come”
Jack is still a Bible believing Christian and believes in Jesus Christ and the authority of his word and is currently feeding on sound teaching via the internet and fellowship with Truth Watch and other Bible-believing Christians; but it has buffeted his faith. His experience has confirmed for him that God’s prophecies of a great falling away in the last days are in fact happening now. Truth Watch agrees with Jack. The gates of Hell have been prevailing over a now largely neutered Church. It stands for very little and has no real influence in the western world. Its enemies within and without continue to box it more firmly into a corner largely of its own making. Unless the end comes, or the Church revives and stages a major breakout, the future for both it and the world looks grim.