“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

— 2 Timothy 4:3-4

 
Note: some films cannot be viewed on iPhone or iPad.
Sound files have been included.
Worship in the 21st Century
at South Norfolk Baptist Church
(July 2008-April 2017)

(NOTE: This was the original "Worship in the 21st Century" web page created in 2011.  I consulted with two former pastors who had been ordained at South Norfolk regarding the material presented on this page; one read and vetted the Introductory PDF statement, even stating that the portion of the paper dealing with the basic problem prevalent in many churches, should be published for others to read.  Both men agreed with the information presented here, especially after one stated he had attended on the anniversary-occasion of his ordination, and was so put-off by the situation that he walked out of the church service after 15 minutes.  It is a case study of what can happen to a stable, thriving church, when a new pastor is called and not theologically vetted nor his background investigated by the Pulpit Committee.)

"The church that can’t worship must be entertained. And men who can’t lead a church to worship must provide the entertainment.  That is why we have the great evangelical heresy here today--the heresy of religious entertainment."

-A. W. Tozer

Several years after he retired, Dad and I often talked about the growing problem of the cheap and tawdry entertainment that was taking root in worship in the early 21st Century, all across the Southern Baptist Convention.

Rev. Frank Hughes, Jr., wrote the following
"Pastor's Pen" article about Music in the Church,
for the church paper,
"The Messenger," on August 24, 1979:

INTRODUCTION

While attending seminary, my father advised me to be sure and study the correct theological methodology of Apologetics and Hermeneutics in order to properly interpret and preach the Bible correctly.  It is also important for those who attend a church to have Spiritual Discernment about what is being proclaimed from the pulpit.  For that to happen, it is imperative that pastors preach the Word as is, without adding or subtracting from it.

 

There used to be a day when, historically, you could walk into a Southern Baptist Church, South Norfolk Baptist in particular, and be assured that what was preached from the pulpit was sound doctrine.  That, sadly, is no longer the case.

 

After retiring from the military chaplaincy, I felt I had awaken from a bad dream: not just bad Bible teaching, but heresy in our Southern Baptist Churches was rampant, including the one I grew up in.  It was like the Washington Irving story of "Rip Van Winkle," awakening from a deep sleep, and discovering, in this case, much to my horror, the unthinkable occurring in many of our churches.  Heresy, Vision Casting, Eisegetical and Narcigetical Sermons, Entertainment on a platform complete with "7-11" hymns and Praise Singers; Secular Dancing, Hip-Hop, Rap, and other Sinful Entertainment; Seeker Sensitive nonsense, and the list goes on, ad nauseam.

 

It was after attending a Sunday morning "worship" service in which a youth group (that pastor David Slayton had invited from his undergraduate Liberty University), danced, pranced, and played rock music, that I felt compelled to examine further what was happening at South Norfolk Baptist.  (After that particular service, {as referenced in detail, in the first introductory pdf document below,} one of the choir members saw me later and stated,  "I saw you in the service; I'm sorry you had to see this; it was not the Sunday you should have come."  It was also the last Sunday a long-time member and his wife attended....they moved their membership.)

 

I was appalled at what I have found: not only cheap music that was theologically unsound, but heresy being taught, as if it were the "Gospel."  I decided that this church was being driven into the "Seeker Sensitive" mold by "Pastor David."

 

Then, I found out that worldly amusements were being brought into the church at Slayton's request:

 

Worldly amusements like a pool table, secular dance classes, Hip-Hop and Rap Music, are now offered at the church…..with the pastor’s approval. These have no place in a church, and are counter-productive to Christian Ethics and Discipleship Training. A local businessman, I was told, now rents one “former” Sunday School classroom.  Why?  And what has happened to the many Hamilton upright pianos, built by Baldwin Piano Company, that were in every Sunday School assembly room?  Sold for funding?

 

In December 2007, after a Sunday morning service while on a visit, I went up to the pipe organ and played a few hymns.  I came back that night, and after the evening service, took some pictures of the console for the Organ Historical Society database, at their request.  But, when I attempted to play the organ again, I found that someone had gone up to the console in the intervening hours, and forcibly broke the Swell pedal. Someone, between the time of the end of the morning service, and the beginning of the night service, had gone up to the console and vandalized the organ.  It looked like someone had taken their foot and deliberately stomped that pedal until it became dislodged and broken.

 

Who?  I'm sure that someone who is reading this website has knowledge of who that individual was. It clearly had to be someone who had access to the church building, probably after-hours, or entered the auditorium while no one was looking, and was not in favor of the organ being used in a service.  Maybe someone who did not appreciate the great hymns of the church, maybe someone who objected to it's use, or my playing it; but, really, someone who has no real respect for God's House.  And they know who they are....and God knows who they are....and one day they will have to answer for that.

 

It became much clearer in the next year or so, when I became aware that Pastor Slayton did not want to use the organ, and in fact, orchestrated the removal of the console to a side classroom.  Of course, the $50,000 free grant that had been offered to bring the entire organ to a fully-functioning instrument, and would have easily fixed that deliberately vandalized pedal, was on the table in 2012, but was rejected.

 

One lady, who no longer attends, told me that "the pool table had been donated to the church."  So?  What if someone wanted to donate a slot machine or another worldly amusement?  “Being donated” does not make a thing morally right. I have heard from many people in the Tidewater area, who have, on their own, heard about the current pastor allowing a pool table and dance classes into the church, and are appalled.  What am I suppose to tell them?  That it’s ok to bring the world into the church? Such nonsense brings shame on the cause of Christ and hurts the witness of truly born-again Christian.  What is being "said" by the worldly amusements is: "Come on in, we're just like the world, and make yourself at home."

 

Rev. Slayton apparently approves of the pagan "Hip-Hop" and "Rap" music, as evidenced by his son Jonathan filming young people dancing to this "style" of music, in the church Auditorium and on top of the 3-story Educational Building (which has no safety guardrail).  (Full discussion is on the webpage, "Hip-Hop & Rap Music in South Norfolk Baptist Church"). (Jonathan Slayton's name was listed on the film's end credits).

 

This type of behavior was so bizarre when it was brought to my attention by a former member of the church (who no longer attends due to the entertainment value of the 'worship' offered); but had discovered it on the Internet. It took by breath away just watching it.  And there was a second time (2015) this type of activity had been filmed and placed on the internet for all to see.

 

This is an endorsement of the things of the world: it brings dishonor to God and His Word, it sets a bad example to young people, it hurts the witness of the Church, and it brings disgrace to the name of Jesus.  I simply cannot understand why any pastor or body of Deacons would tolerate this type of ungodly behavior in, and on top of, a church building!

  

As it was related to me, on May 1, 2016, a visitor to the church asked a member sitting next to them, "where their choir was."  The member told them that they no longer had enough people for a choir.  That is sad.

 

On this webpage, "Worship and Heretical Teaching in the 21st Century at South Norfolk Baptist," you will be introduced to some of the worldliness that has been imported into this church.  It was previously titled, "Worship in the 21st Century in South Norfolk Baptist," but because there is more than ample evidence of heresy being taught and endorsed, the title of this page was changed, and with good reason, as you will see examples of trying to be "relevant" to the culture....trying to do anything in order to "grow" a church with "numbers" without substance;  with examples of a pastor and "guest" pastors, who preach pablum....little "talks" that have no Biblical substance... that are Eisegetical nonsense.  Often they include biblical references that center in on a word or two taken out of context, and have nothing in common with the original meaning in the text.

 

Listening to Slayton's sermons online is revealing, especially how he rips a verse of scripture out-of-context (i.e., changing the meaning) then attempts to apply it to an individual's life (usually his own sans yours) and means nothing of the kind, and has been misinterpreted, for a congregation, that is none the wiser.  I have learned more about his personal life and family in the past 3 years, than I have about the Bible.  The sermons have become a sort of psychological strip-tease.

 

Lest you think that I am "cherry-picking" one or two sermons here or there, in and, in addition to those sermons reviewed on this page (and in the Introduction found in the first PDF file below, titled "Worship in the 21st Century in South Norfolk Baptist Church") details sermon after sermon after sermon, where this is found.  I have been able to sit and listen to a sermon, (take your pick, any date) and tell you how that sermon will unfold.

 

For instance, in the recent sermon "Our Father" (which, in twisting the scripture, he misinterpreted the word "Our" from the Lord's Prayer, indicating this prayer was only applicable to a congregation, based on the heresy of N.T. Wright {see information below on N.T. Wright} and on "The Church as a Community" heresy {which is discussed on a webpage by that title}; included more personal life stories about himself, again unrelated to the Scripture text.  This is the same approach he used in the sermon "Seeking His Kingdom" (Jan. 10, 2016) when he misquoted Matthew 6:33, and and stated that God's Kingdom could only be sought in the body of the church, and not as individuals.  He further stated that Jesus' words in the Bible, "were written for Middle Eastern people, and not the Western mind," which is not true. He tries to claim he "discovered" this on a mission trip to Venezuela and an interpreters' comments about his prayer to a group of children. (See a review of the book, "Misreading Scripture through Western Eyes," where this flawed theology is found).  On August 28, 2016, he doubled-down on the same "Church as Community" mantra, in the sermon, "Finding His Will," discussed on this page in more detail.

 

His sermon "Yoked," reviewed on this page, had some interesting details about his growing up in Richmond, VA., and attending a United Methodist church, in which he stated his disaffection with, and inability to understand biblical truth.  Yet, when he was 9 years old, he had built his own backyard "church" complete with an altar and wearing a robe.  He told the reporter that it was not a "play" church but the real thing.  And he would take the sermons he had heard earlier at his Methodist church and repeat them to the children in his "church."  So, evidently he did understand some biblical truth while growing up in that church. (See the 2 articles on this page about his 'church').

 

On this page, you will be introduced to some of the like-minded "Seeker Sensitive/Vision Casting" pastor-friends of "Pastor David," including the current head of the Norfolk Baptist Association, who has been invited to speak in the South Norfolk pulpit, without any regard for the sacredness of that "Sacred Reading Desk" and it's importance in the delivery of the true Word of God.

 

Information is included on them, as several members have asked me who they really are. (Comments about them or "Pastor David," are not reflections on them as persons).  David Slayton is guilty of an "unguarded pulpit." Not unguarded in a physical sense, but a spiritual one.  Unguarded against those who pretend to deliver God's Word, but instead, deliver error.  Of course, when the pastor delivers error, then he is prone to allow others to do the same, because he is not Biblically discerning himself.

 

Also, when the pastor is absent for many, many Sunday's, it gives the impression that he is not concerned about who fills the pulpit, is not concerned about fulfilling his calling as preacher of the Word, appears to be unconcerned about feeding the sheep, and raises questions as to what is going on in his own life. A youth worker or deacon was not called to preach at South Norfolk, the pastor was. (For instance, in 2015, he was absent from the pulpit April 4, July 6,9,11, August 2, 2015; then for 6 straight Sundays: September 6--October 11, 2015.)   (See the article on this page, "Guarding the Pulpit," for full discussion of this matter).

 

"Pastor David" (the informal title he prefers) has an agenda, and, although it was not evident to me at first, it will become clear to you, as you delve into the material presented on this, and adjacent webpages.  One of his goals was the reorganization of South Norfolk Baptist Church, so that it became a community resource distribution center, rather than a place where sound Biblical doctrine is taught and proclaimed. He ensured that any staff, like the last full-time Minister of Music, that were not sympathetic to his philosophy, were shown the exit door.  What was his model?

 

He was enamored with the now-disgraced "Richmond Outreach Center" in Richmond, Virginia, where Slayton grew up, (4 of their 'pastors' were forced to resign; the senior one was convicted of a felony, and went to jail. The "ROC" was so disgraced, that they had to change the name of their so-called mega-youth 'church' which only held a rock-concert/service on Saturday nights).  He took some of the South Norfolk lay leaders to their facility (who should have asked more questions), in order to be indoctrinated in their methods; he wanted to  remake South Norfolk Baptist into the "ROC" image. He told in one sermon that he and his wife had attended one of their Saturday night 'services' and said that that was what was needed at South Norfolk.


What else is Slayton’s model?  He is a “Vision Casting” pastor who has, for at least 4 years, put up a written statement on a poster board, behind the pulpit platform, below the movie screen, which depicts his “vision" for each new year.  He has bought into the “Purpose Driven/Church Growth” ‘message’ of Rick Warren, Dan Southerland, Lynn Hardaway, et.al.  (See information on "Vision Casting" below).

 

(See the new web page: “Exposing The Cult-Like Hostile Takeover Tactics of the Purpose-Driven Church Transitioning Seminar” which Slayton has and is following; it has caused unending problems at South Norfolk Baptist).

 

Let me say again for emphasis, and let there be no mistake about this: he has turned South Norfolk Baptist into a resource distribution center, with all the pagan "bells and whistles," rather than a place where Biblical doctrine is taught and proclaimed.  It is a form of the "Social Gospel" movement from a previous generation.  (Full discussion of the "Social Gospel" false teaching can be found on the webpage by that title).  An individual who is visiting for the first time, or hasn't been since Slayton came, may not be aware of all that has happened.

 

His "mission" has also included the push for unity in the "visible ecumenical church," with his previously public endorsement on the SNBC Facebook page, and of men and their heretical theology; who are "Word of Faith" heretics, "Seeker Sensitives," and "Prosperity Gospel" heretics.  (They are listed below on this page, with information on each one of these, whom he has either endorsed in the pulpit, or is teaching their heretical books to the congregation.  Separate webpages deal with each type of heresy).   He has even attempted psychological testing of the leadership; and the teaching "business model methods" books on Wednesday nights.  (See below, and in the "Introductory" pdf for details).

 

He made the following statement in a non-mainstream Baptist publication: "I believed that God wanted our church to look more like our community."  Yes, South Norfolk Baptist definitely looks more like the worldly "community" today, than a church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  So much so, that every door, to every Sunday School classroom has had to be locked because of security problems, as detailed to me by a former church secretary.  And there has been a spiritual and psychological price to pay, as long-time members have departed for other churches, and the music program has deteriorated along with what passes for 'worship.'

 

It is nonsense to state that "God wanted our church to look more like our community."  Where does he find that in the Bible?  God never said that was the purpose of His church!

 

This resultant false theology of "the church as a community" has emerged at South Norfolk, under the leadership of David Slayton. I cannot recall any previous minister pushing such nonsense.  It is evident in almost all of his sermons, either by innuendo, or outright statement; and is front and center in the church's mission statement:

 

"Welcome to South Norfolk Baptist Church.  We seek to be a community... (a community of whom?  a community for whom?)  There has never been, since he arrived, any Biblical, Southern Baptist, doctrinal statement on the main church webpage. Absolutely nothing about the Baptist Faith and Message, which contains the basic Southern Baptist beliefs.  Nothing about what this church has historically stood for.

 

In the fall of 2016, he attended the Virginia Baptist Conservative "splinter" group meeting in Roanoke, VA.; the group which had broken off from the mainstream Southern Baptist Convention 20 years previously, and does not support the historic Southern Baptist General Convention of Virginia.  This "splinter" group was recognized by one of Slayton's predecessors, Roger Mardis, who convinced the church to leave the historic Southern Baptist, and join this group; Mardis was responsible for the first major split in the congregation; a split of major proportions, which had not happened in the history of the church. He was another "my way or the highway" pastor who had no interpersonal skills and engaged in some doctrinally unsound sermons and re-baptism of many already-baptized Christians. He was also into the "Social Gospel" and preached heavily against abortion. On one Sunday, he had set up small crosses all over the front lawn of the church.  (See the Introductory pdf for details about this "splinter" group).

 

Slayton claims that the church exists for non-believers and the people who are not there. This philosophy is strictly "Seeker Sensitive" nonsense.

 

He is aggressively anti-doctrinal, as is seen over and over, in his sermons, which are Biblically "tissue-thin" in substance.  He has claimed that the church is a "Community" of small groups; that the church body "is a community."  He has no visible expectation that people come to church to be fed God's Word.  (See the webpage: "The Church as a Community" Heresy, for background on where this idea started).

 

You can tell what someone stands for, by looking at who they affiliate with, whose books they teach, and what they have to say about certain people and their teachings, as Slayton has done in his sermons, where he has endorsed known heretics.  (And these individuals are probably not known to the church members).  And this is why we have listed, per each of Slayton's sermons, where he clearly endorses a heretic/heretical teaching, then, information about the heresy and the one who teaches it, so you can see the biblical truth for yourself).

 

You can also tell what someone believes by those who have been allowed to speak at SNBC, like Lynn Hardaway, head of the Bridge Network of Churches. When you listen closely to David Slayton's sermons, you also find there is a connection between him and the philosophy and teaching of Peter Drucker, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and other major "Seeker Sensitive/Emergent Church" players; there is also a connection there with those who have written books filled with heresy and theological nonsense.  They are explored on this page and exposed for the heresy they promote.

 

Slayton apparently has zero accountability to the people in the congregation, which became apparent, with his disregard for the adult membership, the choir, and Minister of Music (full discussion in the first Introduction PDF).  But.....the people are accountable to him for accomplishing the "vision" that he "casts."  He has proven with his public endorsements of books, written by known heretics, that he also has zero accountability to God, when it comes to his pastoral and preaching duties, as outlined in the Bible.


I previously indicated to one member of the church, in 2014, that this particular part of the website would be deleted; but when I found that Rev. Slayton's endorsement and teaching of heretical theology was so extensive, I changed my mind.  It was so unbelievable; i.e., that no one would openly challenge this man and his teaching, that it was apparent to me that something had to be done to expose the heretical teaching which was destroying the witness and work of God, through the worship and teaching ministry at South Norfolk Baptist where I had served and worshiped myself.

 

Therefore, the central purpose of this webpage is to educate those who still attend South Norfolk Baptist Church, and serve as a warning to other Christians as to what can happen/how it can happen, in their own church.  And so, to those who still attend, but have remained silent, I would encourage you to find your voice, and oppose what you know to be heretical and incorrect teaching.  I would encourage you to prayerfully consider the information presented here; not only what I have discovered, but what other pastors and seminary leaders are saying, as presented in some of the written statements and films of Seminary Presidents and Pastors, on this webpage, and other pages, that address the heresy that David Slayton is teaching; the modern day heresies and those who teach them and are leading men and women, boys and girls astray.

 

Several internet websites have been established by informed Christians and seminary-trained theologians, who have examined many of these heretical teachers, some who prominently present themselves on TV, and others not so well known, but have led, and are leading, many people astray, from the Gospel of Christ. I have included some on the "Recommended Websites" page.  Most of these individuals have advanced degrees in Biblical languages and understand what is the correct method of interpretation and Biblical exegesis of scripture.  Some I have personally consulted for the sermon reviews of David Slayton, that appear on this page.

 

Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the un-churched multitudes what they want, which is Rick Warren's "Seeker Sensitive" model.  Hundreds of churches, including South Norfolk, have followed precisely that theory, actually surveying unbelievers to learn what it would take to get them to attend.

 

Subtly, the overriding goal, is church attendance and worldly acceptability, rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, and an ineffectual means of winning the world.  After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold, by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive.

 

That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church. The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God's displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross.

 

My complaint is with an unbiblical philosophy and heretical theology which relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church. I believe it is unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship, in the church service and educational ministry. And I stand in opposition to those who believe salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God. That philosophy has opened the door to worldliness in the church.....in South Norfolk Baptist Church.

 

The things you will find on this page are indeed shocking, and I shall be sorry if certain opinions expressed in the following paragraphs appear to any reader,  and especially any still-attending current member, whom I have known for some time, to be harsh; but I make absolutely no apology, and shall comfort myself with the reflection that every word was written, in an earnest endeavor, to check what I believe to be a real evil, and to promote a deeper interest in the true worship of God and the preaching of His Word.

 

It is probably good that my Father and Mother did not live to see what has happened in this church, where they faithfully followed the Lord and His Word, and ministered in His Name.  I have repented and asked God to forgive me of ever having publicly endorsed Rev. David Slayton after he first came to South Norfolk.

 

-Rev. Joe Hughes

"Churches Committing Suicide" was written by the Rev. Dr. H. Edgar Twine (pictured here to the right of Rev. Hughes), for his website blog, "Broadview Perspectives," before he went to be with the Lord. He and I had several conversations about the problems "contemporary worship" was creating in the church. He was one of the ministerial students ordained at South Norfolk Baptist Church.  (His biography is on the "Hughes Family Story" Pictures section of this website.) 

It is offered here without edit.

New research by Southern Baptist LifeWay and Ligonier Ministry was just released in 2016:  we are "raising up" a generation of the Biblically ignorant.


It shows clear, unambiguous results of what happens when pastors of "Seeker Sensitive" and "Emergent" Churches do not preach the Word of God, and, instead, teach heresy and other irrelevant material to congregations.

 

In my opinion, pastors of these churches are "raising up" a generation of Biblically ignorant members, who may or may not be Christian (and only the Lord knows that).  But it is now obvious that the many, many churches, which are involved in the Rick Warren nonsense with "contemporary worship" and other off-brand "Emergent" heresy, are at fault for these startling survey results.  I saw this coming some years ago, after I retired from full-time ministry and, as I indicated in my Introduction, I discovered that you can no longer walk into a "typical" Southern Baptist Church and know you will hear a sermon based on the Word of God.  That, sadly, is no longer the case, as these statistics will reveal.

 

I blame the pastors of these churches for these survey results, which indicate that many, many members of these churches are Biblically illiterate.  Many pastors of these churches don't study the Word in any depth, in order to prepare sound sermons; they deliver simple sermonettes designed to "put the cookies on the bottom shelf," as it were.  They are too busy with side issues of lesser importance.  They have let, as my Grandfather Read once said, "the good become the enemy of the best." The congregation is treated to sermon after sermon, with little personal anecdotes of no heavenly consequence; and no Bible content that speaks to the unsaved and backslidden Christian.  And when the pastor is absent, he sometimes brings in like-minded substitutes to continue shilling his pet projects, agenda and the "Vision" he has "cast."

 

These survey results should serve as a dire warning to any pastor reading this website.  Many people in these churches have become so involved in the "Social Gospel" and the social activism of clothes closets, feeding the hungry with soup kitchens, ministry to the minorities and poor with mindless recreation; secular dance lessons; Rap, Hip-Hop, and contemporary music which has tissue-thin theology; that they don't even understand (see the survey results) that it is not 'works' that saves them.....and they are wholly ignorant of many basic Bible doctrines (and not just minor doctrines).....because they are not taught these in the pulpit nor in any meaningful on-going church discipleship training program.

 

These churches have not followed the tried and true formula for church growth through the Sunday School: Reach, Teach, Win, Develop.  They have tried to bring in and pander to the pagan unbeliever, with whatever entertainment is current.  These churches and their pastors have looked to the modernistic 'health' and 'growth' methods of the business world.  They have used the "Seeker Sensitive" Rick Warren failed methodology.  This survey proves that these methods have not only failed, but are detrimental to the spiritual life of an individual.

 

Don't take my word for it; listen to the following short introductory audio program from "Fighting for the Faith," then read the material below......and, yes you are reading this on the Internet.....but it has been vetted for accuracy.....and it has been produced and put out by the Southern Baptist Convention.

 

Rev. Chris Rosebrough introduces the survey:


Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics.

 

Americans talking about theology sound about as competent as country singers rapping.


The article that sumarizes the survey:
The "Raw" data and White Paper, found in the "State of American Theology" 2016 Survey:

Dateline: NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Americans don’t know much about theology. Most say God wrote the Bible. But they’re not sure everything in it is true.

The problem with Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" philosophy, as endorsed by
David Slayton and Lynn Hardaway:
Dr. John MacArthur speaks on the subject
"Hath God Said?"
at the Ligonier Ministries 2002 Conference:


"The Social Revolution"

The impact of the social revolution on evangelical churches and the contrasting advantages of obedience to the biblical pattern of church life.


Rev. John Thackway explains in the video below.


(If ever there was a need for a revival of sound doctrine and worship at South Norfolk Baptist, that time is now.)

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan, preaches on
"Worship in Word and Sacrament"
 at the 2005 Ligonier Ministries National Conference.

 

Scripture indicates that we are to worship God, yet much of what passes for worship today is merely a thinly veiled attempt to entertain men. In this message, Dr. J. Ligon Duncan will explain how a biblical understanding of the basic elements of Christian worship should inform the way in which we approach God:

If you’re like most Christians, you probably have a consistent Sunday morning routine. Maybe you rush to church in time to greet your friends, grab some coffee, make your way to your regular seat, and settle in just in time for worship. Your pattern may look different, but it’s fairly certain you have one you stick to.


But when it comes to the routine of corporate worship in your local church, do you think much about your responsibility in your Sunday services? I’m not talking about stacking chairs and handing out bulletins—it’s a responsibility that every believer shares. And sadly, today, very few fulfill.


What is this responsibility? We’ll let John MacArthur explain:

(Courtesy/copyright by Grace to You; used with permission).

The Greatest Danger Facing the Church


By -- By James Hamilton, Professor of Biblical Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

in Louisville, Kentucky:



The greatest danger facing the church is probably not what most of us expect. We expect some sort of direct challenge from without, but it probably comes from within. In our day, it may well come from well-meaning pastors.


How could well-meaning pastors pose the greatest threat to evangelical churches today? Do they deny the truth?


No, the pastors who pose the greatest threat to the church today will confess belief in the right things. They will confess the authority and inerrancy of the Bible, that Jesus saves, and that he is the only way of salvation.


So how can these guys who mean well and make the good confession pose such a threat to the church?


THE NATURE OF THE DANGER

They are a threat because, in spite of their confession, their words and actions treat Christianity as nothing more than the best form of therapy. They treat it as self-help. They treat it as the path to better marriages, better parent-child relationships, better attitudes and performance at work, and on and on.


Christianity is about success here and now. That, at least, is what you might conclude by listening to their sermons and observing how they do church. What “works best” guides their decision-making.


But Christianity is not primarily about any of that. Christianity is primarily about the gospel—about a holy God, rebels who deserve his wrath, a divine Son who takes the punishment rebels deserve, and the promise of forgiveness for all who repent and believe.


Christianity is about telling this true story in the words of the Bible so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, people come to see God, the world, and themselves correctly.


Christianity is about the triune God and the two natures of Christ.


Christianity is about the Holy Spirit supernaturally causing people to be born again so that they love this story and find in it their hope and joy.


Christianity is about trusting the Word of God with all our hearts and not leaning on our own understanding—or on our own ideas about what works or what is relevant.


Christianity is about longing for the return of Christ, who, when he comes, will set up his kingdom, which means that this is not our home.


Pastors who present Christianity as therapy and self-help do not present Christianity. They are like the liberals that J. Gresham Machen denounced. Machen said that people who don’t believe the Bible should be honest and stop calling themselves Christians, because they have in fact created a new religion that is not to be identified with Christianity. Similarly, the promoters of the American religion of self-help and therapeutic pop-psychology ought to be honest: they don’t believe the Bible is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16).


If they believed that the Bible really does contain everything we need to be saved and to live lives that are pleasing to God, they would preach the Bible from their pulpits. Not only would they preach the Bible, trusting that God has revealed what he thinks his people need, trusting that God knows better than they do what is relevant, they would organize their churches according to the dictates of the Bible rather than the dictates of the market and the corporate world.


AVOIDING THE DANGER

So how do churches avoid winding up with a pastor who will harm them by turning Christianity into the American religion of self-help therapy?


1) Look at the biblical qualifications for men in the ministry (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9), and ask pastoral candidates direct questions about whether they meet these qualifications. Ask the man’s references whether he lives up to these statements. Do not assume that every candidate will meet these qualifications, and don’t assume that every candidate understands these qualifications. Ask him to explain the qualifications.


2) Since the feature that most distinguishes the qualifications for an elder (pastor) from the qualifications for a deacon is that the elder be “apt to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2), pay close attention to his teaching. Seek to discern whether this man “holds firmly to the trustworthy word as taught,” whether he knows enough theology “to be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9, ESV).


3) Based on what you have heard of his preaching, ask yourself these questions:

a. Was the main point of the text he was preaching the main point of his sermon? (If he did not preach a text, remove his name from consideration.)

b. Does God rest heavily upon this man? Is it evident that he fears God? Can you tell that he knows that “teachers will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1)? Does he “tremble at the Word of God” (Isa. 66:2)? Is the Word of God like a burning in his bones that he cannot hold in (Jer. 20:9)?

c. Does he think that his main task is the explanation of the Bible, which is useful and relevant (2 Timothy 3:16), or does he think that he needs to organize the Bible according to his wisdom in order for it to be useful and relevant?

d. Is the man going to help the church understand and live on the great truths of Christianity?

e. Is the man a theologian, or is he a just a gifted speaker with a good heart?

f. Do you trust this man’s ability to interpret the Bible and tell you what it means?


4) Consider also what you understand the calling of pastoral ministry to be:

a. Is pastoral ministry about “the ministry of the Word and prayer” (Acts 6:4), or is it about building a large corporation successful by worldly standards?

b. Is pastoral ministry about the power of the Spirit of God through the Word of God, or is it about “persuasive speech” and slick presentations? (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1–5).

c. Is the great commission (Matt. 28:18–20) about notching “decisions” on our belts or about making disciples who have been taught all that Jesus commanded?

d. Are Jesus’ instructions about church discipline (Matt. 18:15–18) to be taken seriously or is he not going to practice church discipline since it might be bad for business?

e. Is church membership mainly about a big number for us to report, or should church members really take the “one another’s” in the New Testament seriously?

f. Are the main tasks of pastoral ministry prayer, teaching, and shepherding souls, or is pastoral ministry more about growing the business and managing a conglomerate of campuses?

g. What are his plans for doing evangelism?

h. What are his plans for doing discipleship?

i. What are his plans for praying for the members of the church?

Paul told the elders (or pastors) of the church in Ephesus that wolves would arise from within their ranks to destroy the flock (Acts 20:29–30). Likewise, Jesus said that the false prophets would be like wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). It might be hard to recognize these well-meaning pastors as wolves, but Jesus said we would know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:16–20).


Let me add, not every pastor who doesn’t preach the Bible and who organizes the church according to a business model rather than a biblical model is intentionally trying to destroy the flock. Yes, some are evil. Some are in the ministry for their own advancement. But what do we say about well meaning pastors who propagate an un-Christian, un-biblical, worldly kind of Christianity? I think the words that Jesus spoke about those who corrupted the Old Covenant are fitting: “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matt. 15:14, ESV).


OUR CALLING

Let us therefore heed the words of Jesus about what a good shepherd does—”the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Only Jesus can lay down his life for the sheep in the way he did at the cross. But his under-shepherds can lay down their lives for the sheep as they take up their crosses and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, loving, teaching, discipling, evangelizing, praying, and protecting the sheep from the wolves. No servant is greater than his master (John 15:20).

“Principles of Biblical Separation” (Part 1)

                                               Rev. John Thackway

The Distinctiveness of Gospel Churches.
1. Separation in Church Associations and Co-operative Ventures.
Obeying God's call to His people to be separate from churches and organisations that tolerate false teachers. This address challenged today's indifference to the principles of biblical separation, including a rebuttal of the misuse of the terms 'hyper-separatist' and 'guilt by association'.

“Principles of Biblical Separation” (Part 2)
Rev. John Thackway


The Distinctiveness of Gospel Churches.
2. Separation in Personal Life, and in Service for God.
The biblical attitude to Gospel outreach were contrasted with the man-centred methods for success of new evangelicalism, giving special attention to the need for an integrity that rejects pragmatic compromise. An appeal to do God's work in God's way, and for His glory alone.


"Discernment" by a church member can lead to being labeled "Troublemaker"
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary, appears on a panel discussion and describes the "Seeker Sensitive" Problem
Dr. John MacArthur on the "Seeker Sensitive" Movement
(Courtesy of Grace to You, used with permission)
South Norfolk Baptist has become a "Market-Driven" Church: concerned about numbers of one cultural/segment of society, simplistic sermonettes, unabashed/unapologetic teaching of heresy, more emphasis on an unbiblical "social gospel" than the Gospel message of Jesus, and the importation of worldly entertainment. 

"The Market-Driven Church"
A Look Behind the Scenes:


Dr. Gary Gilley discusses the quest to "discover the will of God," discern the mysterious "prompting of the Spirit,' and hear the voice of God are popular topics in the Christian culture. What does the Bible really say about hearing from God and discovering His will? This session will carefully examine these questions:

The Problem of "Private Revelations"
(Used by "Vision Casting" Pastors, like David Slayton)

Rev. Phil Johnson discusses this problem
at the 2002 Shepherds' Conference:

Dr. John MacArthur offers excellent insight into the Sufficiency of Scripture, from his book, “Our Sufficiency in Christ”

 

It is significant that one of the biblical names of Christ is Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6).  He is the highest and ultimate One to whom we may turn for counsel, and His Word is the well from which we may draw divine wisdom. What could be more wonderful than that? In fact, one of the most glorious aspects of Christ’s perfect sufficiency is the wonderful counsel and great wisdom He supplies in our times of despair, confusion, fear, anxiety, and sorrow. He is the quintessential Counselor.

 

This is not to denigrate the importance of Christians counseling each other. There certainly is a crucial need for biblically sound counseling ministries within the Church, and this need is met by those who are spiritually gifted to offer encouragement, discernment, comfort, advice, compassion, and help to others. In fact, one of the very problems that has led to the current plague of bad counsel is that churches have not done as well as they could in equipping people with those kinds of gifts to minister effectively. In addition, the complexities of this modern age have made it more difficult to take the time necessary to listen well, serve others through compassionate personal involvement, and otherwise provide the close fellowship necessary for the church body to enjoy health and vitality.

 

Churches have looked to psychology to fill the gap, but it isn’t going to work. Professional psychologists are no substitute for spiritually gifted people, and the counsel that psychology offers cannot replace biblical wisdom and divine power. Moreover, psychology tends to make people dependent on a therapist, whereas those exercising true spiritual gifts always turn people back to all-sufficient Savior and His all-sufficient Word.

 

A Psalm on Scripture’s Sufficiency

Psalm 19:7-9 is the most monumental and concise statement on the sufficiency of Scripture ever made. Penned by David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these three verses offer unwavering testimony from God Himself about the sufficiency of His Word for every situation and thereby counter the teaching of those who believe that God’s Word must be augmented with truth gleaned from modern psychology. In this passage David makes six statements, each highlighting a characteristic of Scripture and describing its effect in the life of the one who embraces it. Taken together, these statements paint a beautiful picture of the sufficiency of God’s Word.

 

Scripture Is Perfect, Restoring the Soul

In the first statement (v. 7), David says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.” This word “perfect” is the translation of a common Hebrew word meaning “whole,” “complete,” or “sufficient.” It conveys the idea of something that is comprehensive, so as to cover all aspects of an issue. Scripture is comprehensive, embodying all that is necessary to one’s spiritual life. David’s implied contrast here is with the imperfect, insufficient, flawed reasoning of men.

 

God’s perfect law, David says, affects people by “restoring the soul” (v. 7). To paraphrase David’s words, Scripture is so powerful and comprehensive that it can convert or transform the entire person, changing someone into precisely the person God wants him to be. God’s Word is sufficient to restore through salvation even the most broken life—a fact to which David himself gave abundant testimony.

 

Professional psychologists are
no substitute for spiritually gifted
people, and the counsel that psychology
offers cannot replace biblical
wisdom and divine power.


Scripture Is Trustworthy, Imparting Wisdom

David further expands the sweep of scriptural sufficiency in Psalm 19:7, writing, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” David’s use of the word “sure” means that the Lord’s testimony is unwavering, immovable, unmistakable, reliable, and worthy to be trusted. It provides a foundation on which to build one’s life and eternal destiny.

 

God’s sure Word makes the simple wise (v. 7). The Hebrew word translated “simple” comes from an expression meaning “an open door.” It evokes the image of a naive person who doesn’t know to shut his mind to false or impure teaching. He is undiscerning, ignorant, and gullible, but God’s Word makes him wise. Such a man is skilled in the art of godly living: He submits to Scripture and knows how to apply it to his circumstances. The Word of God thus takes a simple mind with no discernment and makes it skilled in the issues of life.

 

Scripture Is Right, Causing Joy

In verse 8, David adds a third statement about Scripture’s sufficiency: “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.” Rather than simply indicating what is right as opposed to wrong, the word translated “right” has the sense of showing someone the true path. The truths of Scripture lay out the proper path through the difficult maze of life. That brings a wonderful confidence. So many people are distressed or despondent because they lack direction and purpose, and most of them seek answers from the wrong sources. God’s Word not only provides the light to our path (Psalm 119:105), but also sets the route before us.

 

Because it steers us through the right course of life, God’s Word brings great joy. If one is depressed, anxious, fearful, or doubting, the solution is found not in self-indulgent pursuits like self-esteem and self-fulfillment. The solution is found in learning to obey God’s counsel and sharing in the resulting delight. Divine truth is the fount of true and lasting joy. All other sources are shallow and fleeting.

 

Scripture Is Pure, Enlightening the Eyes

Psalm 19:8 gives a fourth characteristic of Scripture’s utter sufficiency: “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.” This word “pure” could better be translated “clear” or “lucid,” and it indicates that Scripture is not mystifying, confusing, or puzzling. God’s Word reveals truth to make the dark things light, bringing eternity into bright focus. Granted, there are things in Scripture that are hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16), but taken as a whole, the Bible is not a bewildering book. It is clear and lucid.

 

Because of its absolute clarity, Scripture brings understanding where there is ignorance, order where there is confusion, and light where there is spiritual and moral darkness. It stands in stark contrast to the muddled musings of unredeemed men, who themselves are blind and unable to discern truth or live righteously. God’s Word clearly reveals the blessed, hopeful truths they can never see.

 

Scripture Is Clean, Enduring Forever

In Psalm 19:9, David uses the term “fear” as a synonym for God’s Word: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.” This “fear” speaks of the reverential awe for God that compels believers to worship Him. Scripture, in this sense, is the divine manual on how to worship the Lord. The Hebrew word “clean” speaks of the absence of impurity, filthiness, defilement, or imperfection. Scripture is without sin, evil, corruption, or error. The truth it conveys is therefore absolutely undefiled and without blemish.

 

Because it is flawless, Scripture endures forever (Psalm 19:9).  Any change or modification could only introduce imperfection. Scripture is eternally and unalterably perfect. It needs no updating, editing, or refining, for it is God’s revelation for every generation. The Bible was written by the omniscient Spirit of God, who is infinitely more sophisticated than anyone who dares stand in judgment on Scripture’s relevancy for our society, and infinitely wiser than all the best philosophers, analysts, and psychologists who pass like a childhood parade into irrelevancy. Scripture has always been and will always be sufficient.

 

Scripture Is True, Altogether Righteous

Verse 9 provides the final characteristic and effect of God’s all-sufficient Word: “The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.” The word “judgments” in this context refers to ordinances or divine verdicts from the bench of the Supreme Judge of the earth. The Bible is God’s standard for judging the life and eternal destiny of every person. Because Scripture is true, it is “righteous altogether”(Psalm 19:9). The implication of that phrase is that its truthfulness produces a comprehensive righteousness in those who accept it.

 

Contrary to what many are teaching today, there is no need for additional revelations, visions, words of prophecy, or insights from modern psychology. In contrast to the theories of men, God’s Word is true and absolutely comprehensive. Rather than seeking something more than God’s glorious revelation, Christians need only to study and obey what they already have. Scripture is sufficient.

 

(Adapted from John MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998). For a fuller treatment of the sufficiency of Scripture, consult this resource.)

"What a Biblical Church is Like"
Dr. Peter Masters

Proving the New Testament Pattern. - Promoters of new methods for church growth adopt the sin-connected culture of the world and dismiss the sufficiency of Scripture. This address will review the essential features of the New Testament pattern church, so derided by today's innovators, but vital in God's plan and purpose. These biblical principles are the basis of true blessing.

Biblically-Anemic Preaching: The Devastating Consequences of a Watered-Down Message

Jeremiah 8:11; 2 Timothy 4:2

-Dr. John MacArthur

(Grace to You, copyright, used with permission)

Those who are familiar with my ministry know that I am committed to expository preaching. It is my unshakable conviction that the proclamation of God’s Word should always be the heart and the focus of the church’s ministry (2 Timothy 4:2). And proper biblical preaching should be systematic, expositional, theological, and God-centered.

Such preaching is in short supply these days. There are plenty of gifted communicators in the modern evangelical movement, but today’s sermons tend to be short, shallow, topical homilies that massage people’s egos and focus on fairly insipid subjects like human relationships, "successful" living, emotional issues, and other practical but worldly—and not definitively biblical—themes. These messages are lightweight and without substance, cheap and synthetic, leaving little more than an ephemeral impression on the minds of the hearers.

Some time ago I hosted a discussion at the Expositors’ Institute, an annual small-group colloquium on preaching held at our church. In preparation for that seminar, I took a yellow legal pad and a pen and began listing the negative effects of the superficial brand of preaching that is so rife in modern evangelicalism.

I initially thought I might be able to identify about ten, but in the end I had jotted down a list of sixty-one devastating consequences. I’ve distilled them to fifteen by combining and eliminating all but the most crucial ones. I offer them as a warning against superficial, marginally biblical preaching—both to those who stand behind the pulpit and to those who sit in the pew.


1. It usurps the authority of God over the soul. Whether a preacher boldly proclaims the Word of God or not is ultimately a question of authority. Who has the right to speak to the church? The preacher or God? Whenever anything is substituted for the preaching of the Word, God’s authority is usurped. What a prideful thing to do! In fact, it is hard to conceive of anything more insolent that could be done by a man who is called by God to preach.

2. It removes the lordship of Christ from His church. Who is the Head of the church? Is Christ really the dominant teaching authority in the church? If so, then why are there so many churches where His Word is not being faithfully proclaimed? When we look at contemporary ministry, we see programs and methods that are the fruit of human invention, the offspring of opinion polls and neighborhood surveys, and other pragmatic artifices. Church-growth experts have in essence wrested control of the church’s agenda from her true Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Puritan forefathers resisted the imposition of government-imposed liturgies for precisely this reason: They saw it as a direct attack on the headship of Christ over His own church. Modern preachers who neglect the Word of God have yielded the ground those men fought and sometimes died for. When Jesus Christ is exalted among His people, His power is manifest in the church. When the church is commandeered by compromisers who want to appease the culture, the gospel is minimized, true power is lost, artificial energy must be manufactured, and superficiality takes the place of truth.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. What is the instrument the Spirit uses to do His work? The Word of God. He uses the Word as the instrument of regeneration (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). He also uses it as the means of sanctification (John 17:17). In fact, it is the only tool He uses (Ephesians 6:17). So when preachers neglect God’s Word, they undermine the work of the Holy Spirit, producing shallow conversions and spiritually lame Christians—if not utterly spurious ones.

4. It demonstrates appalling pride and a lack of submission. In the modern approach to "ministry," the Word of God is deliberately downplayed, the reproach of Christ is quietly repudiated, the offense of the gospel is carefully eliminated, and "worship" is purposely tailored to fit the preferences of unbelievers. That is nothing but a refusal to submit to the biblical mandate for the church. The effrontery of ministers who pursue such a course is, to me, frightening.

5. It severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture. The greatest personal benefit that I get from preaching is the work that the Spirit of God does on my own soul as I study and prepare for two expository messages each Lord’s Day. Week by week the duty of careful exposition keeps my own heart focused and fixed on the Scriptures, and the Word of God nourishes me while I prepare to feed my flock. So I am personally blessed and spiritually strengthened through the enterprise. If for no other reason, I would never abandon biblical preaching. The enemy of our souls is after preachers in particular, and the sanctifying grace of the Word of God is critical to our protection.

6. It clouds the true depth and transcendence of our message and therefore cripples both corporate and personal worship. What passes for preaching in some churches today is literally no more profound than what preachers in our fathers’ generation were teaching in the five-minute children’s sermon they gave before dismissing the kids. That’s no exaggeration. It is often that simplistic, if not utterly inane. There is nothing deep about it. Such an approach makes it impossible for true worship to take place, because worship is a transcendent experience. Worship should take us above the mundane and simplistic. So the only way true worship can occur is if we first come to grips with the depth of spiritual truth. Our people can only rise high in worship in the same proportion to which we have taken them deep into the profound truths of the Word. There is no way they can have lofty thoughts of God unless we have plunged them into the depths of God’s self-revelation. But preaching today is neither profound nor transcendent. It doesn’t go down, and it doesn’t go up. It merely aims to entertain.

By the way, true worship is not something that can be stimulated artificially. A bigger, louder band and more sentimental music might do more to stir people’s emotions. But that is not genuine worship. True worship is a response from the heart to God’s truth (John 4:23). You can actually worship without music if you have seen the glories and the depth of what the Bible teaches.

7. It prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ. Pastors are supposed to be under-shepherds of Christ. Too many modern preachers are so bent on understanding the culture that they develop the mind of the culture and not the mind of Christ. They start to think like the world, and not like the Savior. Frankly, the nuances of worldly culture are virtually irrelevant to me. I want to know the mind of Christ and bring that to bear on the culture, no matter what culture I may be ministering to. If I’m going to stand up in a pulpit and be a representative of Jesus Christ, I want to know how He thinks—and that must be my message to His people too. The only way to know and proclaim the mind of Christ is by being faithful to study and preach His Word. What happens to preachers who obsess about cultural "relevancy" is that they become worldly, not godly.

8. It depreciates by example the spiritual duty and priority of personal Bible study. Is personal Bible study important? Of course. But what example does the preacher set when he neglects the Bible in his own preaching? Why would people think they need to study the Bible if the preacher doesn’t do serious study himself in the preparation of his sermons? There is now a movement among some in ministry to trim, as much as possible, all explicit references to the Bible from the sermon—and above all, don’t ever ask your people to turn to a specific Bible passage because that kind of thing makes "seekers" uncomfortable. Some churches actively discourage their people from bringing Bibles to church lest the sight of so many Bibles intimidate the "seekers." As if it were dangerous to give your people the impression that the Bible might be important!

9. It prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time. Jeremiah 8:9 says, "The wise men are ashamed, they are dismayed and taken. Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord; so what wisdom do they have?" When I speak, I want to be God’s messenger. I’m not interested in exegeting what some psychologist or business guru or college professor has to say about an issue. My people don’t need my opinion; they need to hear what God has to say. If we preach as Scripture commands us, there should be no ambiguity about whose message is coming from the pulpit.

10. It breeds a congregation that is as weak and indifferent to the glory of God as their pastor is. Such preaching fosters people who are consumed with their own well-being. When you tell people that the church’s primary ministry is to fix for them whatever is wrong in this life—to meet their needs, to help them cope with their worldly disappointments, and so on—the message you are sending is that their mundane problems are more important than the glory of God and the majesty of Christ. Again, that sabotages true worship.

11. It robs people of their only true source of help. People who sit under superficial preaching become dependent on the cleverness and the creativity of the speaker. When preachers punctuate their sermons with laser lights and smoke, video clips and live drama, the message they send is that there isn’t a prayer the people in the pew could ever extract such profound material on their own. Such gimmicks create a kind of dispensing mechanism that people can’t use to serve themselves. So they become spiritual couch potatoes who just come in to be entertained, and whatever superficial spiritual content they get from the preacher’s weekly performance is all they will get. They have no particular interest in the Bible because the sermons they hear don’t cultivate that. They are wowed by the preacher’s creativity and manipulated by the music, and that becomes their whole perspective on spirituality.

12. It encourages people to become indifferent to the Word of God and divine authority. Predictably, in a church where the preaching of Scripture is neglected, it becomes impossible to get people to submit to the authority of Scripture. The preacher who always aims at meeting felt needs and strokes the conceit of worldly people has no platform from which to confront the man who wants to divorce his wife without cause. The man will say, "You don’t understand what I feel. I came here because you promised to meet my felt needs. And I’m telling you, I don’t feel like I want to live with this woman anymore." You can’t inject biblical authority into that. You certainly wouldn’t have an easy time pursuing church discipline. That is the monster that superficial preaching creates. But if you are going to try to deal with sin and apply any kind of authoritative principle to keep the church pure, you must be preaching the Word.

13. It lies to people about what they really need. In Jeremiah 8:11, God condemns the prophets who treated people’s wounds superficially. That verse applies powerfully to the preachers who populate so many prominent evangelical pulpits today. They omit the hard truths about sin and judgment. They tone down the offensive parts of Christ’s message. They lie to people about what they really need, promising them "fulfillment" and earthly well-being when what people really need is an exalted vision of Christ and a true understanding of the splendor of God’s holiness.

14. It strips the pulpit of power. "The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). Everything else is impotent, giving merely an illusion of power. Human strategy is not more important than Scripture. The showman’s ability to lure people in should not impress us more than the Bible’s ability to transform lives.

15. It puts the responsibility on the preacher to change people with his cleverness. Preachers who pursue the modern approach to ministry must think they have the power to change people. That, too, is a frightening expression of pride. We preachers can’t save people, and we can’t sanctify them. We can’t change people with our insights, our cleverness, by entertaining them or by appealing to their human whims and wishes and ambitions. There’s only One who can change sinners. That’s God, and He does it by His Spirit through the Word.

So pastors must preach the Word, even though it is currently out of fashion to do so (2 Timothy 4:2). That is the only way their ministry can ever truly be fruitful. Moreover, it assures that they will be fruitful in ministry, because God’s Word never returns to Him void; it always accomplishes that for which He sends it and prospers in what He sends it to do (Isaiah 55:11).

 

Before reading the sermon reviews of David Slayton on this webpage, it will be wise for the reader to pause and discover where he is getting his flawed ministry methods, as found in the Rick Warren book, "The Purpose Driven Church," the author of which, has also been endorsed by Lynn Hardaway, of the Bridge Network of Churches, Norfolk.

If you follow the two book reviews (below), you can't help but notice the similarity of Slayton's preaching content and his ministry methods, with those of Rick Warren.

Book Review: "The Purpose Driven Church," by Rick Warren

-by Rev. Paul Alexander, Capitol Hill Baptist Church

 

I) INTRODUCTION

Every so often a book makes itself a must read simply because of the sheer number of people being influenced by it. Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995) fits this bill to a “T”. While most evangelical authors struggle to sell 5,000 copies of a single title, Warren’s 1995 release has sold over a million, with rave reviews from evangelicals of all stripes. Warren’s has become a household name among pastors everywhere, many of whom are implementing the Purpose Driven model with reportedly astounding results.


His understanding of salvation is biblical, he trusts in the sovereignty of God, evangelistic zeal pulsates from his heart, he affirms the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, he believes in regenerate church membership, and he has been practicing church discipline for 21 years now. In fact, his beliefs and values are ours in so many ways that we are wary of questioning his methods lest we be seen as turning our turrets on our own trenches. What’s more, his evident productivity in evangelism is nearly unrivaled, which makes his methods seem sacrosanct, and critically evaluating them taboo.


But McLuhan’s dictum is still instructive: The medium is the message. The methods we use to spread the gospel and build the church will not just be determined by our understanding of gospel and church. The relationship is reciprocal – our methods will in turn play a subtly formative role for our thinking on gospel and church (or at least the thinking of those converted under our ministries). The Purpose Driven concept is more than just an isolated idea or discrete curriculum that takes its place among a pantheon of programs. It is an overarching method for Christian ministry – a way of going about spreading the gospel and building up the church. As such, its implementation will contribute to our understanding of the gospel and the church. The magnitude of popular influence wielded by the Purpose Driven method, coupled with the enormity of its reported success among professing evangelicals, makes asking all the more important: what should we think of a church driven by purpose?

Before posing the question, let’s be careful to understand the author in his own words.


II) SUMMARY OF THE BOOK

Warren’s primary thesis is that “what is needed today are churches that are driven by purpose instead of by other forces” (p80). His paradigm consists of a perspective that looks at everything through the five New Testament purposes of the church, and a process for fulfilling those purposes (p80). The five purposes are taken directly from the Great Commandment in Mt 22:37-40, and the Great Commission in Mt 28:18-20, and are therefore non-negotiable in the application of the model:

1.    Worship – “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37).

2.    Ministry – “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39).

3.    Evangelism – “go therefore and make disciples” (Mt 28:19).

4.    Fellowship – “baptizing them” (Mt 28:19, identification with the Christian community).

5.    Discipleship – “teaching them to obey all that I command you” (Mt 28:20).


According to Warren, the foundation of such a healthy church is laid “by clarifying in the minds of everyone involved exactly why the church exists and what it is supposed to do. There is incredible power in having a clearly defined purpose statement” (p86). After the foundation of biblical purpose is laid, Warren encourages the pastor to define his purposes, communicate his purposes, organize around them, and apply them.


Having presented the theological and theoretical perspective, Warren then explains the process of implementing that perspective, walking the pastor from targeting his evangelistic audience, to attracting an un-churched crowd, and finally to building up the church.


Maximum evangelistic effectiveness, according to Warren, requires that a local church strategically target the segment of the local population that best matches the current make-up of the church. “The more your target is in focus, the more likely it is that you will be able to hit it…. The people your church is most likely to reach are those who match the existing culture of your church” (pp172, 174). Warren grounds his strategy in Jesus’ practice of targeting the lost sheep of Israel (p158; Mt 10:5-6; 15:22-28), the practice of Peter and Paul in targeting the Jews and Gentiles, respectively (p158; Gal 2:7), and the target audiences of the four written gospels (p158). He then specifies that we must target our audience geographically, demographically, culturally, and spiritually (pp161-169). This target analysis is then used to develop a strategy that will enable us to evangelize people on their terms, making it “as easy and attractive as possible” for them to become Christians (p185, cf. pp189, 193). While warning the reader never to compromise the message (pp62, 157-158), Warren encourages us to “change methods whenever necessary” (p199), and to “use more than one hook” as we fish for men (p200).


If we want to attract an unbelieving crowd, Warren advises us to follow the example of Jesus by loving people, meeting their needs, and teaching them in interesting and practical ways (p208). Once we’ve got them gathered, we need to make the most of the opportunity by being seeker sensitive in our worship, which Warren believes is commanded by 1Cor 14:23 (p243). Method may therefore vary, as long as the message remains biblical. “The spiritual food is unchanged in a seeker sensitive service, but the presentation is more thoughtful and considerate of the guests present” (pp243-244). What this means for Warren is that we need a separate weekly service that is designed particularly to appeal to unbelievers. “Create a service that is intentionally designed for your members to bring their friends to. And make the service so attractive, appealing, and relevant to the unchurched that your members are eager to share it with the lost people they care about” (p253). The music style should therefore be that preferred by the target audience (p280), and the preaching should focus on those passages that require no previous understanding and that “show the benefits of knowing Christ” (p298). The biblical justification for such a service is to “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive’” (Titus 2:10, pp269-270, emphasis his).


In seeking to build up the church, Warren encourages pastors to make local church membership meaningful by implementing a mandatory new members’ class, asking people to sign a membership covenant, and encouraging them to participate in small groups. Spiritual maturity is then “simply a matter of learning certain spiritual exercises and being disciplined to do them until they become habits” (p334). But in order to develop vibrant lay ministry, “you must set up a process to lead people to deeper commitment and greater service for Christ” (p367). Establishing a ministry placement process and providing on the job training are likewise encouraged, along with the delegation of decision-making authority as a logical and necessary complement to delegated responsibility. Warren closes by encouraging the pastor to focus on fulfilling the purposes of the church while expectantly trusting God to cause the growth. This is then coupled with an encouragement to emulate David in serving God’s purposes in our own generation (Acts 13:36, quoted on p395), along with a definition of successful ministry as “building the church on the purposes of God in the power of the Holy Spirit and expecting the results from God” (p397).


So, what do you make of it? Should churches be driven by purposes? Should we change our evangelistic methods if they don’t work? Is seeker sensitivity in worship a biblical command? Should we use audience analysis to make it easy and attractive for people to become Christians?


III) HELPFUL INSIGHTS

Warren’s model is appealing both because it has enjoyed so much apparent success and because he gives us so much with which we can agree. His results are impressive – Warren started from scratch with one other family besides his own, and fifteen years later, his church boasts 10,000 attenders, 7,000 of whom gave their lives to Christ during that period through the evangelistic efforts of the church Warren pastors, Saddleback Community in Lake Forest, CA (p46). Perhaps the greatest evangelical strength of the book is that it clearly directs the reader to Scripture in order to discover God’s purposes for the church. “It isn’t our job to create the purposes of the church but to discover them. . . . As the owner of the church, [Christ] has already established the purposes, and they’re not negotiable” (p98). Chalk one up for the sufficiency of Scripture!


Second, Warren makes helpful comments on the identity and practice of the church. He rightly recognizes that the church is God’s chosen institution for blessing the nations with the gospel of Christ (p21); he realizes that the church is a living organism, and as such should be growing if it is healthy (p16); he reveals the unnecessarily bureaucratic nature of committee structures (p377); and he explodes models of ministry that expect the pastor to do everything (p377).


Third, Warren confronts the radical individualism rampant in American culture with a robust biblical understanding of local church membership, making membership a meaningful commitment by using a church covenant (pp309-310, 320-322) and practicing church discipline (p54).


Fourth, Warren emphasizes the importance of conversion growth over against growth by transfer or natural birth (p63).


Fifth, in an age when many churches are aspiring only to the level of mediocrity, Warren models deliberateness in ministry by continually evaluating everything that the local church does (p276). And even more central to his main assertion, the purposes of the church that Warren points out are all patently biblical and distinctively Christian.


IV) DIFFICULTIES

A. Interpretive Difficulties
In assessing any ministry model, we need to look at the way Scripture is interpreted and then employed to construct it. The constructive criticism that might be offered here is that the Purpose Driven model seems to draw conclusions and applications from texts that don’t necessarily support them. A few instances are worth mentioning.


1. The Purpose Driven paradigm takes Jesus’ ministry as a model for our own in meeting felt needs as a platform for evangelism.

Jesus attracted crowds by meeting people’s needs…. Jesus frequently asked people, “What do you want me to do for you?” God uses all kinds of human needs to get people’s attention. Who are we to judge whether a person’s interest in Christ is for the right reason or the wrong reason? It doesn’t matter why people initially come to Jesus, what matters is that they come…. It is my deep conviction that anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart…. The most likely place to start is with the person’s felt needs. As I pointed out earlier, this was the approach Jesus used. (p219, emphasis his)


This is a common way for proponents of various seeker-sensitive models to understand and apply the ministry of Jesus. But a more careful reading of the gospels reveals that almost all the healing miracles were intended to function as messianic identity markers – acts that prove Jesus is in fact the divine, promised Messiah – not primarily as a model for our ministry. So, for example, in Mt 8:14-17, Matthew follows the general healings and exorcisms performed by Jesus with the interpretive comment “This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases,” which is symbolic of His becoming “sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2Cor 5:21; cf. Isa 53:4; cf. also Mt 11:1-6, Luke 7:18-23; Mark 2:1-13; John 6; 9:32-33). Jesus works miracles not simply to meet people’s felt needs as an example of how we should do ministry. He works them fundamentally to attest his Messianic identity (Acts 2:22).


Warren argues that Jesus often begins an evangelistic encounter with the question “What can I do for you?” But Jesus is only recorded as saying this five times in all four gospels combined, three occurrences of which are the healing of the blind man Bartimaeus, and perhaps a companion (Mt 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-51; Luke 18:35-43). In each of those passages, His question is a response to the blind men’s request “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David! Son of David, have mercy on us” (or a similar variant). In each passage the men twice acknowledge Jesus as the Son of David – they already believe He is the Messiah. Jesus’ question, then, is not intended as an evangelistic foray. He’s proving their faith is well placed, and rewarding it. When Jesus poses the question in Mark 10:35-45, it is in response to the disciples’ desire for status in the kingdom – no replicable ministry method here. John 1:38 comes closest to making Warren’s point, when Jesus asks his eventual disciples “What do you seek?” They ask where he’s staying, and he tells them to “come and see.” But “what do you seek?” is too broad to necessitate a felt needs oriented interpretation.


It is better to say that when Jesus sensed that crowds were showing up to get their felt needs met, he left and preached elsewhere (Mark 1:35-39). Jesus did not view Himself as having come for the purpose of meeting felt needs. He would not be viewed as a sensational miracle worker, or a source of physical blessing, that people could manipulate for their own ends. His purpose in coming was to preach the gospel (cf. Mark 1:14-15). He actually rebuked the crowds for coming to hear Him just because he met their felt needs (John 6:26), which contradicts the Purpose Driven assumption that it does not matter why people come to Christ.


2. The Purpose Driven model claims that Jesus attracted the crowds by teaching in interesting and practical ways.

Warren cites Mt 7:28; 22:33; Mark 11:18; and Mark 12:37, where the crowds are variously amazed or pleased by His teaching. But in every case, the reaction is to the authority of Jesus’ teaching, not His style (Mt 7:29; Mark 11:15-17; 12:37). Jesus was ready to offend his listeners if it meant clarifying the gospel. He said things in evangelistic sermons that actually made people want to murder Him (Luke 4:14-30). We cannot, then, justify the Purpose Driven method of preaching evangelistically by presenting only the benefits of knowing Christ, or by appealing to the felt needs and tastes of unbelievers.


3. The Purpose Driven model interprets 1Cor 14:23 as a mandate for seeker sensitivity in worship.

“Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?” Warren concludes from this verse, “God tells us to be sensitive to the hang-ups of unbelievers in our services. Being seeker sensitive in our worship is a biblical command” (p243). But the context of 1Cor 14 is the edification of the church (vv3, 4, 6, 12, 17, 26), and specifically the superiority of prophecy over tongues for corporate edification (vv22, 24, 31). Warren is right to see an application for the way we treat unbelievers in our services, but Paul’s primary solution to the apparent madness of tongues in the assembly is neither linguistic translation nor cultural accommodation. It’s prophecy – what we would today call preaching. Also, the specific issue in 1Cor 14:23 is translation, not idiom or worldview, as Warren applies it. Paul has already told the Corinthians that the Gospel will seem foolish to unbelievers no matter how we present it (1Cor 1:18; 2:14). They need more than sensitivity to see the gospel as attractive – they need the Spirit.


4. The Purpose Driven model cites 1Cor 10:32 as proof of Paul’s seeker sensitivity.

“Give no offense either to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God” (1Cor 10:32). Warren comments, “Although Paul never uses the term ‘seeker sensitive’, he definitely pioneered the idea. He was very concerned about not placing any stumbling blocks in front of unbelievers” (p243). Warren is right to see the context as having implications for evangelism (v33 “so that they may be saved”). But the passage is not addressing how a preacher should get the gospel across in corporate worship; it is addressing how a Christian should live the gospel to the glory of God in all of life (v31). Paul wants seeker-sensitive lives, not seeker-sensitive services.


5. The Purpose Driven model cites Luke 5:38 (new wineskins for new wine) as proof that new generations require new ministry methods (p121).


Most seeker-sensitive models use this image to prove this point. But the point of the image is the proper reaction to the Messiah’s physical presence, not the need for new ministry methods in new generations (Luke 5:33-39). Jesus is making a point about His messianic identity and the implications of His incarnation. His physical presence was a time for feasting, not fasting (v35). That is the point that the image illustrates – not the need for new ministry methods as each new generation rises.


In short, the hermeneutic often overlooks context and comes away with a different point than the one the text makes.


B. Methodological Difficulties

1. Only the Gospel Has Driving Power for the Church.

Warren’s primary claim is that churches need to be driven not by programs, tradition, or even by the seekers themselves, but by purpose (pp75-80). The negative part of this statement is true – nothing from personalities to seekers can drive the church, and many of us need to hear that point and quit our fascination with worldly methods. Yet the Bible does not ascribe driving power to purposes – even God’s purposes.


Warren quotes Proverbs 19:21 at the head of his chapter on the driving power of purpose: “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.” True, but how do the Lord’s purposes prevail? God accomplishes His purposes by His Word. Four times in Gen 1 we read “God said…and it was so” – not just “God purposed…and it was so.” God clarifies this distinct relationship between His word and His purposes in Isa 55:10-11:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return from there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.


Isaiah teaches not only that God’s word accomplishes God’s purposes, but also that God Himself distinguishes between His word and His purposes, such that the two cannot be equated. The New Testament specifies that driving power for the church is only available in God’s word as we find it in the gospel. Paul is “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ [precisely] because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16; cf. 1Cor 1:18; James 1:18, 21; 1Pet 1:23-25).


The purposes that Warren highlights are altogether biblical, but they do not have driving power for the church. God’s Word is what provides driving power for His purposes. We do not need more purpose driven churches. We need more gospel driven churches.


2. Method and Message are Biblically Inseparable.

Warren encourages us not to “confuse methods with the message. The message must never change, but methods must change with each new generation” (pp61-62; see also p200). Yet God’s commitment to accomplishing His purposes by His word means that method and message are inseparable. God’s message is His method (Isa 55:10-11; Rom 1:16).


Separating method from message leads to a “whatever works best” mentality when it comes to deciding how to do things, which is sometimes softened with the language of blessing. “You must figure out what works best to reach seekers in your local context” (p248). “I’m in favor of any method that reaches at least one person for Christ – as long as it is ethical…. We should never criticize any method that God is blessing” (p156, cf. p62). But what then is the standard for effectiveness or blessing? It is the number of people apparently reached. Numbers measure evangelistic and ministerial success.


At Saddleback, we identify the results we expect to see coming from fulfilling each of the five purposes of the church. For each result, we can ask questions like: How many? How many more than last year? How many were brought to Christ? How many new members are there? How many are demonstrating spiritual maturity? . . . How many have been equipped and mobilized for ministry? How many are fulfilling their life mission in the world? These questions measure our success and force us to evaluate if we are really fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. (107-108, emphasis mine)


If numbers add up to success, then it would only stand to reason that numbers would best function to justify the method – and that’s exactly how they are used. (178-179; 248)


The model tells the pastor not to concentrate on numerical growth, but on purpose (p394). Yet numerical growth is exactly what the seeker service is designed to promote.


Increasing the size of your church does not require the intelligence of a rocket scientist: you must simply get more people to visit!…. What is the most natural way to increase the number of visitors to your church?…. The answer is quite simple. By creating a service that Christians want to bring their unsaved friends to, you don’t have to use contests, campaigns, or guilt to increase attendance. Members will invite their friends week after week, and your church will experience a steady influx of unchurched visitors. (253)


Aren’t these the kinds of questions we should be asking? Isn’t this the kind of creativity we’ve been looking for? Perhaps. But what would we say to Jeremiah or Ezekiel if numerical growth were the key index of success in evangelism and ministry? What would we say to Stephen in Acts 7, who was stoned to death for preaching the gospel? Was Stephen unsuccessful in ministry because he didn’t see three thousand immediate converts in one day like Peter did at Pentecost in Acts 2:41?


What would we say to Adoniram Judson, and myriad other faithful missionaries like him who struggled for years to see appreciable fruit from their ministries, if any at all? And have we forgotten about the function of the preached gospel as that which hardens recalcitrant men and women in their refusal to repent (2Cor 2:15-16)?


Faithfulness is the measure of the minister, not numerical results.


3. Building on Purpose Leads to False Unity.

Uniting around purpose before uniting around a biblical understanding of the gospel is what led many evangelicals into false ecumenism with liberal churches in the latter half of the twentieth century (see Iain Murray’s Evangelicalism Divided [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth], 2000). Once the purpose of evangelism replaced the Gospel as “the main thing”, the Gospel ceased to regulate our participation in those purposes. We united with liberal Protestants in the purpose of evangelism; but since they were not in fact preaching the same gospel, we weren’t really accomplishing the same purpose.


The Purpose Driven idea of building on unity of purpose rather than on unity in the gospel is moving in the same direction, leading to a unity that is, at best, sub-Christian. We should unite around the gospel before uniting around God’s purposes because the gospel is what enables, regulates, and empowers our participation in God’s purposes.


4. The Evangelistic Method of the Seeker-Sensitive Model.

At this point, the advocates of seeker sensitivity and the Purpose Driven model might well respond, “Of course! We believe that the gospel is primary too. But it’s how you package the gospel for the unbeliever that increases evangelistic effectiveness.” So let’s take a look at a Purpose Driven packaging of the gospel.


The first two points of the vision statement of Saddleback Community Church read like this: “It is the dream of a place where the hurting, the depressed, the frustrated, and the confused can find love, acceptance, help, hope, forgiveness, guidance, and encouragement. It is the dream of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the hundreds of thousands of residents in south Orange County” (p43). Warren has five more dreams listed in the vision statement, but never defines what the gospel is, or that it requires repentance and belief. This statement is what he read at the trial run service before Saddleback got started. His aim was “to try to paint, in attractive terms, the picture as clearly as I saw it” (p42, emphasis mine). When he mailed out his promotional letter to unbelievers announcing his first service, he surveyed the community for their perception of their own needs, and their major complaints about churches. His findings? The messages are irrelevant, the members are unfriendly, the church just wants my money, and child care should be better (pp192-193). So in his promotional letter, he announces that “At Saddleback Valley Community Church you

  • Meet new friends and get to know your neighbors
  • Enjoy upbeat music with a contemporary flavor
  • Hear positive, practical messages which encourage you each week
  • Trust your children to the care of dedicated nursery workers” (p194)


The rationale for such an upbeat approach is that “[Jesus’] message offered practical benefits to those who listened to Him. His truth would ‘set people free’ and bring all sorts of blessings to their lives” (p224). But the call to take up our cross is part of evangelism, not just discipleship. We find Jesus preaching the necessity of repentance and belief right from the outset of His ministry (Mark 1:14-15), and He demands that the rich young ruler part with his possessions on their first encounter (Mt 19:16-26). Jesus preached a message of cost and cross (Mt 16:24; Mark 8:34-38; Mark 10:17-27), not just a gospel of prosperity and blessing. Again,


Crowds always flock to hear good news. There is enough bad news in the world that the last thing people need is to hear more bad news when they come to church. They are looking for anyone who can give them hope and help and encouragement…. A good salesman knows you always start with the customer’s needs, not the product. (225, emphasis his; cf. also 271)


But are sales techniques and positive thinking required to be “effective” in evangelism? The evangelistic preaching of the apostles regularly accused the unbelieving Jews of crucifying Jesus (Acts 2:37; 3:13, 26; 4:2, 10; 5:29-30; 7:52), resulting in Peter’s imprisonment (Acts 4:1-3) and Stephen’s stoning (7:54-60). But “the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem…” (Acts 6:7; cf. 13:24; 19:20). We are called to simply and clearly preach the gospel, and to call people to genuine repentance from their sins and belief in Christ for forgiveness.


The way the Purpose Driven model packages the gospel assumes that audience analysis is the key to influencing people. “Anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart” (p220). What does this mean for the evangelistic preaching at the seeker sensitive service? “We like to use passages that don’t require any previous understanding. We also like to use passages that show the benefits of knowing Christ” (p298).


But doing evangelism the way Warren suggests here poses sobering difficulties.


a. It obscures the gospel. Presenting the benefits of the gospel is a fine thing to do, as long as the benefits are accompanied by the costs. But Warren is suggesting we present only the benefits, whereas true gospel preaching includes the demand of repentance (Mark 1:14-15). For this reason, it is difficult to see how presenting the unbeliever with only those texts that show the “benefits of knowing Christ” does not end up as a bait and switch when the seeker is finally told weeks later that biblical Christianity actually requires a lifetime of continual repentance from sin.


b. It leads to false assurance. If the “gospel” is presented this way and people are “reached for Christ,” then encouraging them to be assured of their own salvation is really just a happy damnation. If unbelievers have not been clearly urged to repent and believe, then they do not know how to respond properly to the gospel, and are therefore “still in their sins” (1Cor 15:17). No one becomes a disciple without taking up the cross of self-denial.


c. It misunderstands man’s inability and God’s sovereignty in conversion. The assumption that “anybody can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his or her heart” (p220) fails to recognize either the inability of the natural man to understand the gospel of grace, or the sovereignty of God in dispensing that saving grace. The gospel is such foolishness to unbelievers that only the Spirit can make it look attractive to them (1Cor 1:18; 2:14), and the Father Himself is sovereign in giving to the Son those whom He intends to save (John 8:43-47; 10:26-29). It simply cannot be true, then, that anyone can be won to Christ if you discover the key to his heart. Allowing this assumption to drive our evangelistic methods is actually to depend on manipulation to convert people, which we are sure is not Warren’s intention.


d. It builds on a worldly perspective. Warren suggests that “We must learn to think like unbelievers in order to win them” (p189; see also p186). At the same time, Warren himself acknowledges that “baby believers don’t know what they need” (p311). How much less, then, do complete unbelievers know what they need! So why base a whole evangelistic method on suiting their tastes and meeting their needs as they define them? But this is the very foundation of the seeker sensitive service. “Once you know your target, it will determine many of the components of your seeker service: music style, message topics, testimonies, creative arts, and more” (pp253-254, emphasis mine).


When Paul talked about becoming all things to all people in 1Cor 9:19-24 (p197), he did not mean that he was willing to “think like an unbeliever” (p189) in order to make the gospel attractive to unregenerate minds (1Cor 2:14). He meant that he was willing to give up his freedom from Jewish ceremonial law in order to win Jews to Christ, and that he was willing to use that freedom when with Gentiles in order to win them to Christ. And when he becomes “as without the law”, he qualifies that with “though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ” (1Cor 9:21), such that he constrains his evangelistic method by the parameters of the true gospel. His method was still to preach plainly the cross of Christ – not just the comforts (1Cor 1:18-2:5) – to both Jew and Gentile. What Paul was indifferent to was the Jewish ceremonial law (for us, perhaps the weaker/stronger brother issues of Romans 14) – as long as it was clear that the cross of Christ is what saves, not observance of Jewish ceremony.


e. It tries to make the gospel appear attractive on the world’s terms. The Purpose Driven evangelistic method is built on the perceived need to “exegete the community.” “I must pay as much attention to the geography, customs, culture, and religious background of my community as I do to those who lived in Bible times if I am to faithfully communicate God’s Word” (p160). At one level this is true. If the gospel and its requirements are not to be misunderstood by our hearers, then we must clarify where it contradicts culture, and where culture has made it hard to understand the implications of the gospel for our everyday lives.


But this is not what Warren means. Warren’s purpose in cultural exegesis is to make the gospel appear attractive on the world’s terms, as we’ve already seen. But is it possible to make the exclusive cross of Jesus Christ attractive and appealing to a religiously pluralistic, morally relativistic culture by structuring our approach on the blueprint of their preferences? Unbelieving Americans do not believe in absolute truth, or universally binding morality, or that exclusive claims of truth in religion can even be made – nor do they believe in sin. But the gospel requires that we contradict every one of these cultural assumptions. It is difficult to see how we can remain faithful to the content of the biblical gospel and yet allow our method of presentation to be “determined” (pp186, 253) by advice from such an anti-gospel culture.


5. Worldly Necessities.

There is one other aspect of the model that is less central to the thesis but still important to address. The Purpose Driven model states the necessity of worldly elements for effective evangelism. In other words, it seems to make secondary things primary. From multiple services and programs (200-201), to the arrangement of the chairs (266), to sanitized nurseries (268), to the building itself (269), Warren insists that churches won’t grow if these things aren’t in place. “In America, it takes parking to reach people. . . . If you don’t have a place for their car, you don’t have a place for them” (254).


Such elements are helpful, but they certainly are not primary. Acts never mentions the necessity of a nursery in the growth of the nascent church, nor does Paul advise Timothy and Titus to offer multiple programs simply because unbelievers expect them.


Warren goes on to claim that “explosive growth happens when the type of people in the community match the type of people that are already in the church, and they both match the type of person the pastor is” (177). But then how was Paul, a Jewish Pharisee, so incredibly fruitful in evangelism to Gentiles – one of the broadest categories of mankind available? Explosive growth can happen even when people are different. In fact, when it does, it bears testimony not to their common demographics, but to their common Savior.


Warren attributes the same necessary significance to music style. “The style of music you choose in your services…may…be the most influential factor in determining who your church reaches for Christ and whether or not your church grows. You must match your music to the kind of people God wants your church to reach” (p280). The assumption is that the audience of our worship in an evangelistic service is unbelievers. But worship has an audience of One. Choosing music in worship is not about pleasing ourselves or an unbelieving audience. It’s about pleasing God, and choosing music that serves the intention of God-centered lyrics. That is why matching the style of your music to the preferences of your evangelistic audience is unwise.


Pagans cannot know what pleases God in corporate worship because they are God’s enemies (Rom 5:10). Warren acknowledges that “unbelievers usually prefer celebrative music over contemplative music because they don’t yet have a relationship with Christ” (p287). But that’s just the point – they don’t yet have a relationship with Jesus Christ. So what are we doing asking them for advice on how to worship Him?


6. Conversion and the Seeker Sensitive Service.

The Purpose Driven model raises problems for the doctrine and experience of Christian conversion. “Making a service comfortable for the un-churched doesn’t mean changing your theology, it means changing the environment of the service” (p244). But comfort is the least of the unbeliever’s spiritual needs. He needs to feel uncomfortable in his sins in order to repent and believe in the gospel.


Repentance never happens comfortably – and yet it is precisely the response that the gospel unbendingly requires. Comfort is the very thing that must be overcome in order for conversion to take place. This is why an evangelistic service cannot be at the same time comfortable for unbelievers and faithful to the message we’ve been given to share with them – because part and parcel of the gospel message is the requirement of repentance. What this means, however, is that making a service comfortable for the unchurched does mean changing your theology – it means changing your theology of conversion. If you’ve made the service so comfortable for the unbeliever by gearing it to meet his every felt need that repentance from his sins is the last thing on his mind, then your theology must change to allow for conversion by some response other than repentance and belief.


V) CONCLUSION

Warren has done us a great service by calling us back to the biblical purposes that God designed the church to fulfill. In admitting that we discover the purposes of the church in the Word rather than create them ourselves, he models a submission to Scripture that we readily applaud. That submission to Scripture leads Warren to a joyful commitment to thoroughly evangelical doctrine. We can lock arms with him in a common commitment to every-member ministry, to conversion growth, to making membership more meaningful by using church covenants, to church discipline, to the continual growth and up-building of the church. 


While his passion for biblical fidelity and evangelical commitment are obvious and infectious, we fear that his interpretive methods lead to applications that do not always represent the intention of the text he’s using to support his model. While his evangelistic zeal is exemplary, his evangelistic methods tend to make genuine repentance unlikely and can have the effect of rounding off the naturally sharp edges of the Gospel. Sharing his desire for numerical growth, we are reticent to use numbers as a barometer of God’s blessing. Realizing the relative safety of rooting his model in the biblical purposes of the church, the tendency of purpose to replace the primacy of the Gospel has implications for the life of the church that we are confident Warren would not intend.


J. Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, MS, makes a striking observation. “Liberalism says that the gospel won’t work unless the message is changed. Some evangelicals say that the gospel won’t work unless the method is changed. But biblical Christianity believes that the gospel will work, and that God has given us both the message and the method.”


As a result, we are less optimistic than many regarding the usefulness of the Purpose Driven model as a paradigm for local church ministry.

Should your Church implement the "Purpose Driven Church" Model?

Like David Slayton, the endorsement of false teachers is another problem with Rick Warren.

 

Rev. Ken Silva, a Southern Baptist Pastor, explains:

CHRIS ROSEBROUGH on RICK WARREN AND LAVERNE ADAMS

 

By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on Oct 20, 2010, featured Rick Warren of the Southern Baptist Convention, endorsing a “Word Faith” heretic.

 

Apprising Ministries has been among the online apologetics and discernment ministries covering Piper-Warrengate when Dr. John Piper made the dubious decision to feature Purpose Driven Pope Rick Warren, with his quite elastic orthodoxy and twistable multi-translation Play-Doh Bible, as a keynote speaker at the DG 2010 conference Think: The Life of the Mind & the Love of God.

 

I also pointed out in Decade Of Destiny With Rick Warren that by carrying posts like Desiring God Selling Bible Study Method Of Rick Warren!?, Rick Warren—Scripture Twisting Is Not ‘Doctrinal And Sound’, and Rick Warren: Piper Approved!, I was bringing to you what some of the finest writers in field had to say about Warren’s pragmatic self-help lecture at DG 2010.

 

You likely recall that in Apprising Ministries, Rick Warren, & Twitter I showed the following childish tweet where Warren takes a swipe at Chris Rosebrough, host of Fighting for the Faith on Pirate Christian Radio. Apparently Rosebrough’s searing sermon review, where he thoroughly exposed Warren’s Pelagian Heresy position, and showed that Rick Warren didn’t even make an attempt to sound Reformed, touched a nerve:

You’ll notice that Warren wasn’t even man enough to take responsibility for this tasteless tweet, where he also includes Ingrid Schlueter of the Crosstalk Blog, and myself, and attributes it to some spiritually spineless anonymous mocker of this labor in the Lord. In the days to come, this will undoubtedly prove to be a real tactical error by the PDL pope as I bring out the information I’ve been accruing concerning him.

 

Some of which I’ve been bringing out in posts like Decade Of Destiny With Rick Warren and Rick Warren Presents Us Our Destiny Doctor where I’ve shown you that Warren has done the foreword to a book called Driven By Destiny: 12 Secrets to Unlock Your Future (DBD). I happen to have this particular work and it’s filled with the whacked "Word Faith" mythology of its author, "pastrix" Dr.LaVerne Adams, who bills herself as The Doctor of Destiny.

 

Why, apparently Doctor Destiny has even developed the power to speak things into existence:

I’ve previously pointed out that Doctor Destiny tells us in DBD how she’s grateful to the Lord “for Dr. Rick Warren” because, says "pastrix" Adams, “by divine providence” Warren was brought into her life when he:

 

    "just happened upon one of my articles in the African American Pulpit, while going to be the first Caucasian preacher at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day 2009. His prompting to reach out to me for counsel affirmed my calling and destiny as spiritual advisor to great people.

 

    "Ours is truly a divine connection as I have always been impressed with his ministry and literary work. And now our destinies have been miraculously aligned and driven with purpose."[1]

 

There does seem to be some kind of connection between these two as we’ve also noted that her DBD dropped 10/10/10, which just happened to be the day when Rick Warren kicked off his own Decade of Destiny shtick at his highly influential Saddleback Church:

As another example of what pastor Bob DeWaay calls Rick Warren’s “file card orthodoxy,” out of one side of his mouth, Warren tells Dr. John Piper that women elders aren’t Biblical. But then, out of the other side, Warren took it upon himself to “reach out” to Dr. Destiny “for counsel”; and to lend her some of his status in the mainstream evangelical community by recommending her work. And this, even though "pastrix" Adams is absolutely in violation of God’s Word, as well as in conflict with the position of the Southern Baptist Convention; of which Warren happens to be a member:

 

    "Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs.

 

    "We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact. While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men."

 

Below, right from her Driven By Destiny website, is what Rick Warren would write in his foreword to "pastrix" LaVerne Adams’ book:

Now you have the proper background from which to see just how far out on a limb Rick Warren has actually gone. With this all in mind, I’ll point you to the October 18, 2010, Fighting for the Faith program "Why Would Rick Warren Endorse Dr. Laverne Adams?" In the segment below, Chris Rosebrough—whom Rick Warren dubbed a pirate who does nothing—provides Biblical commentary during his review of a sermon by "pastrix" Adams called "God’s GPS."

 

As he gets to the heart of the matter, Rosebrough reminds us there’s

    
  "Prophetess LaVerne, you know, just exposing people’s sins—left and right—because, well, God had a little conversation with her over at the local Starbucks…this is Dr. LaVerne Adams. You know, Dr. Laverne Adams, the lady who Rick Warren sought out;…this is the woman who authored the book about your divine destiny that Rick Warren wrote the foreword to—you know, put his stamp of approval [on]. [He] said, “you need to listen to this woman.” So she begins this God GPS sermon by basically saying, “God’s told me all of your dirty laundry, and you better be glad I’m not telling everybody; you know, in front of the congregation, what your dirty laundry is”…

 

    "This is an interesting theology, but notice, none of it’s grounded in the Bible. You know, it comes back to my question: Why would Rick Warren write the foreword to this woman’s book? That’s an endorsement of her and her teaching. Why would Rick Warren—you see, this isn’t “guilt by association,” this is guilt by endorsement. What is Rick Warren doing promoting this woman?…

 

    "God’s GPS by, now, Dr. LaVerne Adams whose book about divine destiny, the foreword was written by Rick Warren…we didn’t hear any Biblical teaching there, did we. So, again, I come back to the question, ok—this is not guilt by association… It’s not like I’m saying,  “Oh, what is Rick Warren doing associating with LaVerne Adams?” No, no, this is guilt by endorsement. Why is Rick Warren endorsing the teaching of Dr. LaVerne Adams?"

 

Well, to paraphrase Dr. John Piper: I’m gonna need help to know why we should feel anything but bad about his decision to expose Rick Warren to the Reformed camp when he promotes this kind of fool.

Endnotes:

[1] Dr. LaVerne Adams, Driven By Destiny: 12 Secrets to Unlock Your Future [Dr. LaVerne Adams, 2009], ix, emphasis mine.

"False Teachers"
a sermon
by Dr. Alistair Begg:

Since the Fall of 2015, and early March 2016, audio sermons by David Slayton have been few and far between on the church website. 

Two of his sermons, but not the complete service, were filmed during March: one made from the balcony, in which the camera stayed only on him; and the other from the left side of the auditorium, which included several people in an opening skit; then only the sermon, and not the complete service. 

These films were not put on the church website(s), but put on a private Youtube website he had....I say had, because as soon as we reported it here, it was quickly taken down. He also had a video made of a baptism in May, but not the sermon or service. 

We think he is in discussion with another church or organization, and is preparing to leave South Norfolk.

Slayton's Sermon Reviews in Perspective


He uses a particular technique that I have noted over and over again, and it goes something like this.  Open up your Bibles to x,y,z chapter and verse.  And no sooner is he done reading chapter and verse, maybe two or three verse at the most, then he proceeds to launch into something that that verse doesn't even talk about, or say; then he ends up talking about himself; telling little stories about himself and his family.  He may even jump to another scripture passage, but then returns to talking about himself.  Then he attempts some "seeker sensitive" application to the congregation...often it's "joining ourselves with Jesus in what He's doing."

You know it is the weirdest thing.  It is as if somehow we open God's Word, and we read the stories that are there, and you know, he can't help it....but he has got to tell you one of his own life stories and somehow his life story seems to be connected to this verse, and say "such and such."  It's not even correctly put together.  You know there is no real connection here, and you know it is a very tenuous connection at best, and most of the time, it is no connection at all.

Most of the time, you learn more about him, his family, or some crisis he encountered at a former church, than you do about the Bible.  This formula is followed over and over in the audio SNBC has posted online, and if you look at his sermons recorded on video which different people have posted on the internet....even a baptism, he seems to be preaching and smiling at, and to, the camera, not to the congregation....I call this "pride."  That is a hallmark of Narcigesis, which is discussed later on this webpage.


With that for an introduction, we proceed with the "Sermon Reviews" on this page.

Sermon Review:  "What is Worship?" by David Slayton (February 21, 2016),  which was all "law" and "moralism" preaching (submission, service, and works) and nothing of the Gospel of Christ, confession of sins, and the forgiveness of sins. He side-stepped the central Bible doctrine of worship, and implied that worship was “service.”


{See "Law and Gospel Preaching" and "Why Moralism is not the Gospel, and Why So Many Christians Think it Is" on this webpage}


As usual, he read some scripture, keyed in on one verse, allegorized Satan leading worship in heaven...which is a stretch...how does he know?....then proceeded, as is his wont to do, in most of his sermons, to tell a long personal story about himself (which is Narcigesis of the scripture text: parachuting himself into the Scripture text); then, he sidesteps the central doctrine of Worship, by stating that "worship is not about style" (but it is about style, when you are endorsing sinful "styles" of worship like Rap and Hip-Hop; the mind-numbing "7-11 hymns," which have no theological depth).  And further, worship is not just service….service is a result of Christian maturity of the believer.


You know, I've learned more about David Slayton and his family, in the past three to four years listening to his 'sermons', than I have about Jesus Christ.


Speaking of "styles," the most important element in worship music is the lyrical content. The appropriate musical accompaniment should be suitable and memorable, but the words carry the truth. When the words are teeming with rich theological life and biblical accuracy, they inform the mind, and that launches a legitimate experience of glorifying God.


But the people at South Norfolk Baptist will not appreciate that type of spiritual depth, without the biblical background needed to understand the depth of the great realities about which they are singing. They have to be taught if they are to enjoy and express the true worship, which God seeks (John 4:24).


But if you disagree with him, as he indicates in this sermon, then you have, "pride" and you're not "humble;" you have to "serve people you may not like..." (emphasis on the minority youth again), "....and that's why you're in a wilderness.....maybe for 40 days" Really?  How can he say that an individual is in a "wilderness" like Jesus, because he/she is not serving, or for any other reason?  Jesus was in The Wilderness for a different reason, and was speaking to the Devil about worship and service that was owed to Himself.


The social gospel (as called in this sermon "service") has confused men and women on what Christianity is about and what is of primary importance (salvation from sin). As a result, many churches like South Norfolk, are confused as to what they should be doing on Sunday morning … and are just as confused as to what they should be about the rest of the week.  Slayton is like other Liberal Protestant advocates of the “social gospel” who have declared that the church should be concerned primarily with this world; that it should divert its efforts from the salvation of individuals to the salvation of society. He has bought into the liberal agenda of the "Richmond Outreach Center" in Richmond, with which he was/is so enamored with.


Churches that actually do influence the culture – here is the paradox – distance themselves from it in their internal life.  They do not offer what can already be had on secular terms in the culture.  They are an alternative to it.

 

The Christian’s primary responsibilities are evangelism and godly living.  Through witnessing (sometimes called "personal work") God changes people; through godly living the Christian does affect society; and through private and public obedience he honors God.

 

When people look to the church to end poverty, halt human trafficking, bring drinking water to Africa, or cure AIDS, they are looking in the wrong place.  The church is not commissioned to do any of these tasks.


(Sidebar: are you aware that the clothes given away at South Norfolk Baptist from their "Clothes Closet," are often taken by the individual down the street, and sold for profit at the junk store down the street from the Post Office?  I've heard many members talk about this).


Toward the close of the service, he asked those present to "close your eyes; imagine Jesus in front of you.....and (describing what Jesus might have looked like after rising from the tomb; this is more allegorizing; and he's preaching what's in his mind, and not the scripture text, and that is the problem) says..."that's real resurrection power.....the glory of Jesus." What is resurrection power? What does that mean? Is that something we obtain?  "Come to the front and kneel and pray;" mention is made of becoming a Christian, "come to the front, and someone will be here to pray with you."  Someone will pray with you?  about what? Where is the invitation to confess one's sins, the repentance that is needed, the rationale behind how one becomes a Christian?


Let's be clear:  "Service," which Slayton has taken from one verse, is one aspect of Christian maturity.  That is not, in and of itself, Worship. He has cherry-picked a verse that is on the peripheral meaning of Worship, so he can continue to justify his "contemporary" worship style/music, to say nothing of the heretical teaching of social work being the key component worship for the Christian. 


So, instead of an exposition of the scripture concerning the temptations of Christ, we get a homily that includes a long anecdotal story about himself, and applies it to the idea of "service" and "works."  This sermon is filled with bad Hermenetutics.  (See information below, on what is Hermenetutics).


He needs to consider Dr. Robertson's Word Pictures commentary:

"The third time (temptation) Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, this time Deuteronomy 6:13, and repels the infamous suggestion by Scripture quotation.  The words “him alone thou shalt serve” need be recalled today. Jesus will warn men against trying to serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). The devil as the lord of the evil world constantly tries to win men to the service of the world and God. This is his chief camouflage for destroying a preacher‘s power for God. The word here in Matthew 4:10 for serve is λατρις — latreuseis from latris a hired servant, one who works for hire, then render worship."


(Because this heretical teaching cannot be covered in the space of one sermon review, see "The Social Gospel" webpage, for a description of this false teaching David Slayton is promoting in this sermon, as well as many others previously reviewed, in which he pushes his social agenda).


I would encourage you to see the new webpage on this site: "Worship in the Melting Pot," and listen to Dr. Masters, for a true biblical understanding of what Worship is and is not.  When David Slayton first came to South Norfolk and it was obvious to me what he was about, I had several earnest conversations with one of the Deacons who was concerned about his obvious un-biblical understanding of  true Worship.  Sadly, he fell under this new man's skewed understanding of the Bible and refused in the end, to see the truth.  Now,  Slayton still has a small group of followers who have denied the truth of God's Word and will, in my estimate, pay a terrible price in the end. 


The church remains in decline...because, you see, it is not about numbers, it is not about drums, guitars, secular dancing, Hip-Hop and Rap. David  Slayton has no clue what the true Worship of God is; he has been led astray by the "Seeker Sensitive" and "Church Growth" flawed ministry models, and he has an even less idea of what the heresy he is teaching is doing to the people who come week by week.  But, it's not just about the decline of the church; it's what's being done to the heart's of the listeners.  And the Bible says that one day he will have to give an account of what he's done and is doing, to the Lord Himself.

Sermon Review: "Empty Worship," on Palm Sunday 2016,  where he again sidestepped the real meaning of worship, and, which, (like last year's Palm Sunday sermon), contained more "Sheep Beating" using, in 2016, this outline:

I. Empty Worship Substitutes a Phony Jesus
II. Empty Worship is Controlled By The Crowd
III. Empty Worship Breaks Jesus' Heart


He starts by saying that the Hebrew for Soul means that the "Soul is empty."


But from Strong's Concordance/Dictionary, we learn that "Soul" is:

nephesh: a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion

Original Word: נָ֫פֶשׁ
Part of Speech: Noun Feminine
Transliteration: nephesh
Phonetic Spelling: (neh'-fesh)
Short Definition: soul

noun:

נֶפֶשׁ

soul, mind, psyche, person, spirit, life

נְשָׁמָה

soul, spirit, mind, psyche, life

רוּחַ

wind, spirit, breeze, air, soul, mind


"The Soul" is not empty.....if it is, how does he think it is filled?....his listeners aren't told.

He then stated that the "soul must be filled in order to properly worship."  What does that mean?  Where does he find that in Scripture?  I don't see that in the Bible.  How is a person's soul 'filled'?  He then 'segued' (suddenly transitions directly from one theme to another) into the Palm Sunday story, and, again 'allegorizing' the scripture text, he imagines you are on the streets in Jerusalem that Sunday.  He says, "Jesus is boring.  They wanted a drama king; He (Jesus) didn't even have a switchblade on him." Really? Jesus is "boring?" riding a donkey into Jerusalem? 


And why is he using "switchblade" ghetto language?  to be cute?  That's really impressive and influential language to use for young people! 

"We're getting ready to celebrate our 25 years of marriage." [Applause] {Again, he has put himself into the sermon, "Narcigeting" the text, as he compliments he and his wife, on "not being involved in 'drama' during their marriage"....which sounds like a stretch. I'm getting ready to celebrate my 35th, and any couple saying that they never had any "drama" or an argument, is lying.}  (And how is your 25 years of marriage going to help us understand the story of Palm Sunday???????)  


But his dramatic license aside, "empty worship" doesn't substitute a "phony Jesus" as he so states, Jesus is still real, He is not a phony; and the "empty worship" that has been going on at South Norfolk for some years under his direction, is a sham and disgrace to God Himself, to say nothing of the preaching. 

Next, he says, "Jesus is Mr. Anti-Drama.  We need to get off the drama kick." (Really? Jesus not dramatic? What about the time He cleansed the Temple?) Then, he uses Hudson Taylor, the missionary, as an example of Christian witness....in a subtle way to ask for peace in the church...and for people to stop their drama and anger. (But it was HUDSON TAYLOR who ALSO SAID, "God's work done in God's way, will never lack God's supply.")  (Emphasis mine.)


Slayton then states, "Empty Worship is controlled by the crowd".....which is a play on words, in the Palm Sunday scripture text....it is really more subtle 'sheep beating' about the people listening to him, the "crowd" are the ones attending South Norfolk listening to this 'sermon'....watch, because he clarifies that with, "people in the church (meaning South Norfolk) who stomped out of church because they didn't get their way; didn't get to teach the class they wanted, etc."  Did you get that?  Did you miss it?  I'll bet many sitting in the audience missed this.......in other words, the "crowd" in the story is YOU, the member of the church....how does that make you feel?   I don't think much of it myself. It's more "sheep beating" of the membership.


He has taken the Bible story of the crowd following Jesus, into Jerusalem, and turned it into the "crowd" at South Norfolk, who are not following his direction; whom he implies are "drama kings and queens."  But, of course, he's not a drama king, because he and his wife have had 25 years of non-dramatic marriage!  This is simply another example of the Eisegetical/Narcigesis of a scripture text.

Having omitted the last point of his sermon, he then leads in prayer, which is more subtle "sheep beating" about those who don't serve. 


Bottom line: Slayton used the Palm Sunday "crowd" in the scripture to represent those in South Norfolk Baptist, who are not following his leadership.  It was plainly obvious to me what was going on in this sermon, which someone listening in the church, may have missed, if they were paying more attention to his cutesiness and personal self-aggrandizing stories.

Here he is, one year later, on another Palm Sunday, still trying to "manage" the on-going disunity in the church, by throwing more brickbats.  In fact, if you go back and listen for yourself, a lot of his sermons for the past two-four years, have been like pouring gasoline on a fire. 


This one sounds like the previous "leadership meeting" as advertised on the church website, was not only unproductive, it was divisive, as he describes, and I quote, "people stomping out of the church."

May I say frankly, if you haven't already "gotten it" David Slayton is THE head of the church, not Jesus; this pastor is THE leader; you will have to "do church" his way or else. He is a "vision-casting leader," not a pastor, because a pastor doesn't do what he is doing!  He is not going to change; don't even try to change his mind.  This is what John MacArthur was talking about in the sermon "The Portrait of the False Teacher," which dealt with a pastor not accepting the Lordship of Christ.

I have that on good authority from other ministers, one still active in church ministry, and two others...former young men who went out of the church, ordained at South Norfolk Baptist, as ministers of the Gospel; who have discussed this with me privately; who know about him, and his leadership style. 


One of them, visiting the church a few years back, told me he was so unnerved by what he saw, that he walked out after 15 minutes!

 

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, speaking on "Inerrancy and Hermeneutics":

During the sermon, "What is Worship," (Feb. 21, 2016) David Slayton endorsed John Piper's book, "Desiring God" which, he said, "has one chapter on worship."


John Piper is considered a "New Calvinist," and has descended into heresy of late:

John Piper spoke at (and endorsed) the heretical "International House of Prayer" (IHOP) (See: "The Emergent Church" webpage for more information). 

Piper has also endorsed the Catholic Mysticism of "Lectio Divina" (See: The "Contemplative" Prayer Heresy webpage for more information on this false practice being imported into churches).

John Piper believes the heresy:  that supernatural gifts such as prophecy, miracles, healings, and believes that speaking in tongues have not ceased and should be sought by the church.


Both John Piper and Rick Warren are promoting the book: "Celebration of Discipline" by Quaker mystic Richard Foster, who, by following the approach to spirituality he teaches within, is nearly a "Universalist" who is definitely sinfully and ecumenically repudiating the Lord’s Protestant Reformers.


Dr. Gary Gilley has correctly stated concerning Foster’s magnum opus, in his excellent series called Mysticism:

 

    “Celebration of Discipline alone, not even referencing Foster’s other writings and teachings and ministries, is a virtual encyclopedia of theological error.  We would be hard pressed to find in one so-called evangelical volume such a composite of false teaching.”

 

A “virtual encyclopedia of theological error” within this “so-called evangelical volume” in which one “would be hard pressed” to find in a single source “such a composite of false teaching.” Yes, I guess other than that it’s a pretty helpful book for the Christian?   I think not; but you need to realize in the case of John Piper and Rick Warren, to point all of this out, is not guilt by association. No rather, it is clearly guilt by endorsement.


.....and I would never use John Piper's book "as the last word" on what worship is. 

It should now be obvious, even to the casual listener to some Sunday morning sermons at South Norfolk Baptist, that David Slayton continues to endorse heresy.  That is not true Worship of God.  That is an abomination to the Lord.

He has not Searched for the Truth of God's Word as to what true Worship is; he has not Submitted to the Word as a pastor and his Biblical duties, as he continues to endorse heresy; and he is not Serving the Lord as a pastor, by continuing to endorse heretical teaching and sinful music.
"Desiring God" by John Piper, was recently issued in a second edition.

The full title of the book is:
"Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist." 


Here are some reviews of this book:

1.   By a Christian Doctor:  "I had heard so much about John Piper, but had never read anything more than his magazine articles. I found his book to be somewhat confusing since he started out by equating the emotion of love with joy. He over emphasized Joy as an attribute of God when the apostle John said hat God is love. Only a psychiatrist who had spent his life studying emotion would note this, but you cannot equate the two and be scientifically correct. I realize this has been a very popular book, but it did not do much for me."


2.  "I heard about this book on the radio. After reading the first few chapters of this book, and finding them a little boring and repetitive, I skipped ahead to the chapter on marriage and was disappointed to find a very misogynistic and disrespectful call for women to be totally "subservient" and obedient to their men and in their spiritual lives. I found no advice for single women. Mr. Piper says a lot more on the topic but I won't waste time repeating his medieval views. Next I Googled Mr. Piper and found a lot of disturbing information about his church categorically disallowing the active participation of women. I blame myself for not researching this author or this book before my purchase. Naturally I won't bother reading any more of the book since the authors views are offensive. Can I have my money back?"


3.  "Desiring God by John Piper can be summed up in three sentences in his book, "If I cannot show that Christian Hedonism comes from the bible, I do not expect anyone to be interested, let alone persuaded. There are a thousand man-made philosophies of life. If this is another, let it pass. This appears in the last paragraph of the introduction.
The whole intent of the book is to persuade you into believing in the same philosophy of how the author attempts to understand his own religious beliefs. He was correct; I was not persuaded, this was just another person's philosophy and I will let this one pass."


4.  "Piper took many scripture reading out of context to fit his philosophy. My interested was not there mainly because I found his philosophy self centered and overall selfish. This is not what Jesus taught us."


5.  This next one is interesting, given Slayton's own background:  "
I was excited to hear about the author's excitement about God. But this book is not about God at all...it is about John Piper's relationship with his father.  While his father was a great preacher he never put John first or gave John the love he needed. So John has attempted with this book to justify his father's actions by attempting to show us a God who is also self-centered as well. But his father's flaws are not God's flaws. John once said "(Daddy), You have not lived in vain. Your life goes on in thousands. I am glad to be one." John felt he was one of his dad's congregation and not his beloved son. So it is no wonder John struggles with the understanding of love between God and Jesus...and God and his children."


6.  "In order to propose his so-called revolutionary new concept of enjoying God, Piper came up with the name "Christian Hedonist" by changing the most popular and most-recited Westminster Shorter Catechism from "man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever" to "man's chief aim is to glorify God by enjoying him forever." Though the idea sounds worthy and uplifting, the phrase "Christian Hedonism" is nowhere found in Scripture.  The word hedonist or hedonism reeks of self-centeredness and self-absorption, and goes completely against what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 16:24: "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Piper overlooks the fact that we demonstrate our desire to follow Jesus, by first denying ourselves, not by finding happiness in Him. Piper, in essence, has gotten it backwards. The truth is we find happiness or enjoyment in Him by first knowing we're right with Him. This means that we recognize that first and foremost we're abject sinners, nothing more than "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) in His eyes. In this book, Piper seems to skip this most basic tenet of our salvation.   Piper speaks of our finding pleasure in God by enjoying Him, because this is what ultimately makes God happy. Whereas what really makes God "happy" is by seeking His forgiveness, repenting of our sins, and following His commandments (John 15:10-11).


However, it's Piper's kind of writing, preaching and teaching in our post-modern churches today that leads people to believe that God is some big "sugar-daddy" in the sky who'll love you no matter what. No wonder we're happy!  There's no question that Piper is deeply passionate about God and the things of God. This is confirmed throughout his book. However, I found his writing style to be difficult to absorb as he tends to be "long-winded" before getting to the gist of the points he wants to make. This book could easily be edited down to half its 350 pages and not only be more understandable, but more readable as well. Another issue I had with the book is its constant capitalization of the phrase "Christian Hedonist" or "Christian Hedonism." It's like Piper's glorifying the idea of our being self-indulgent by adding the name "Christian" to it.  On page 28 of this book, Piper writes: "If I cannot show that Christian Hedonism comes from the Bible, I do not expect anyone to be interested, let alone persuaded. There are a thousand man-made philosophies of life. If this is another, let it pass."   For this reader Piper did not show that Christian Hedonism comes from the bible. And, in my opinion, is another man-made philosophy promulgated under the guise of Christianity."

In 2006, there was an uproar within the Christian community after John Piper extended an invitation to a young, filthy-mouthed, unabashed "preacher" from Washington state, Mark Driscoll, (whom Slayton is familiar with, and whose Mars Hill Church was once endorsed on the SNBC Facebook website; and who has also used Driscoll's pet phrases, "thrown under the bus," "get off the bus") to be one of the speakers at his "Desiring God National Conference." And it didn't stop there. Though Piper was questioned and criticized, he stood by his young protégé and extended two more invitations to speak at their national conference (2008 and 2009), though Driscoll proved to continue to get carried away by strange and unbiblical behavior like having pornographic divinations about other people's lives, and speaking harshly, including name calling to rebuke those within his church.  Finally, he took money from his Mars Hill Church to buy his way onto the New York Times best-seller list for a book he had plagiarized.  Driscoll's Mars Hill Church in Washington state, went bankrupt, and has permanently closed.

 

Unfortunately, Piper's lack of obedience to God's word in First Corinthians 15:33 "Do not be deceived: 'Bad company ruins good morals.'" continued to perpetuate his decline in discernment as he extended an invitation to Rick Warren (2010) and Louie Giglio (2011) to be speakers at his "Desiring God National Conferences" as well. Then at "Passion 2012," Pastor John Piper, along with Beth Moore, and "holy hip hop rapper" Lecrae,  condoned and participated in Louie Giglio's practice of a meditative, mystical type exercise that closely mirrors the heretical "Lectio Divina" where Catholic priests believe that God directly speaks extra-biblical messages to those who engage in this mind-emptying practice (click link to listen to Todd Friel's "Wretched" radio program on this topic below):

Wretched Radio host Todd Friel discusses:  John Piper, Beth Moore, and the

Catholic Mysticism "Lectio Divina" at

"Passion 2012 Conference":

Once again, New Calvinist mentor John Piper was among the Special Guests for "Passion 2014" as well.

It’s interesting to note that, in addition to heretic Francis Chan, John Piper shared the platform with "Word Faith" heretic and pastrix Christine Caine of the infamous Hillsong Church.  (See: "Word of Faith" webpage for further information on Caine and the Hillsong Church).

The False Gospel of John Piper:

The Problem with John Piper’s other book:

“When I Don’t Desire God.”

 On the one hand throughout the book Piper has rightly recognized that Christians will have periods in which joy is imperceptible. At such times we must not give up but pursue in earnest our fight for joy. Yet Piper just does not know what to do with joyless Christians. That joyless seasons are common to all believers is admitted, so how does Piper fit these into his system? He claims that believers, no matter how sad or depressed, are never completely without joy in God (p. 220), that even in the “cellar of our soul” still the “seed of what we once knew of joy” is still there (p. 220). However, by this definition joy is indefinable. If those at the very bottom of life emotionally, with no discernable feelings of joy, are nevertheless in possession of joy, then what is joy and how would one know he has it? Most confusing is Piper’s use of the example of William Cowper as his closing illustration (pp. 229-234). Cowper attempted suicide numerous times and lived the last years of his life in emotional agony and defiance of God. He even refused to bow his head during table grace, claiming God had abandoned him. Yet Piper somehow sees Cowper as a Christian who retained the kernels of joy even in his decades of misery. If a Christian is defined by joy, and if Cowper is a Christian, he must have joy, even if he lived most of his life in tortuous despair, so goes Piper’s argument.

 Piper is forced to come up with this convoluted understanding of joy because he boxes himself in with his theology of joy. Early in the book Piper states, “A person who has no taste for the enjoyment of Christ will not go to heaven…loving Christ involves delight in his Person. Without this love no one goes to heaven” (pp. 34-35). He even makes comments that seem to bleed over into works-salvation, “Eternal life is laid hold of by a persevering fight for the joy of faith” (p. 37). Then he implies that our salvation can be lost if we do not maintain our joy: “Here [speaking of Revelation 2:10] something infinite and eternal hangs on whether these Christians hold fast to the joy of faith while in prison” (pp. 37-38). Yet later, Piper affirms that Christians without joy are nevertheless saved (p. 210). Most confusing.

 Of equal concern is Piper’s propensity to reduce everything in Scripture, and the Christian walk, to the pursuit of joy. While such pursuit is biblical and an important (and often neglected) component of the Christian life, such reductionism comes dangerously close to distorting the Christian life. For example, while the New Testament has much to say about joy (and Piper quotes most of the passages) there is much more explored in the New Testament than joy. For example, as Paul writes his final three letters known as the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus), he only mentions joy one time. He loads up on words like faith, truth, teaching and doctrine, but only mentions joy once to these men whom he was mentoring. Obviously, if one wants to play the reduction game (systematizing the teaching of Scripture around one theme) there are many choices. The liberals have long ago chosen to frame all of Scripture around the theme of love, yet even that theme is not big enough to capture all of biblical truth. Reduction always leads to imbalance. We are called to embrace all the great themes of Scripture, not dilute them to one. Piper manages to funnel all of Scripture back to his favorite doctrine by a form of eisegesis that twists words to mean something else. For example, in one section he provides a collage of Scripture on assorted topics, none of which specifically addresses joy, and yet claims they were all prayers concerning our fight for joy in God (pp. 143-148). In another section he specifically states, “This means that the biblical passages that speak of the fight of faith apply to the fight for joy” (p. 36). With this type of reasoning everything in Scripture will make a beeline to our pet doctrine—in Piper’s case, joy. It is not that Piper is wrong about the fight for joy; it is that he makes too much of it—he goes too far. There is danger in this form of reductionism.

 Finally, Piper quotes favorably from a very disturbing stable of authors: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (endorsed by David Slayton) (popular liberal theologian, who, by the way, was executed not for his faith in Christ, but for his part in an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler) (p. 90), Dallas Willard (endorsed by David Slayton) (leader in the unbiblical spiritual formation movement) (p. 119), C.K. Chesterton (Roman Catholic author) (p. 196), and Richard Foster (father and main promoter of the infiltration of Roman Catholic mysticism into evangelical circles) (pp. 192-193). He also speaks twice of the “dark night of the soul” which comes from counter-reformation Catholic mystic St. John of the Cross (pp. 217, 229). Most disturbing is Foster’s quote calling for “new prophets to arise in our day” to which Piper responds, “And when they arise, one way that we fight for joy in God is to read what they write” (p. 193). After authoring a book which majors on pointing us to the Bible in our fight for joy, it is disconcerting to now read of an encouragement to read the words of modern prophets; and coming from Foster’s perspective and Piper’s theology on prophets, they are both referring to extrabiblical revelation through present-day prophets).

"Questions Concerning John Piper" (Full discussion by Rev. Ken Silva, with links with which you can easily check his sources):
John Piper now endorses
"The Alpha Course" Heresy
(See: the webpage: "The Alpha Course Heresy" on this website for full information)

John Piper appeared at "Passion 2013."  Worship at “Passion Conference 2013” is evaluated in the light of biblical truth and found to be wanting. Passion worship, based on psychedelic music and Christian rap, is counterfeit worship:

Law & Gospel Preaching


"Opinio Legis" (The Opinion of the Law) and the Assumptions of Purpose-Driven Preaching:

"Why Moralism Is Not the Gospel — And Why So Many Christians Think It Is"
-Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
After listening to David Slayton's sermon on "What is Worship" with it's extreme emphasis on "service," and with the core of South Norfolk's "ministry" having become a madhouse of "social gospel works," it's time to examine again his "Seeker Sensitive" methodology.

Rev. Phil Johnson interviews
Dr. John MacArthur, who explains. And, I might add, it is chilling to hear him describe what happens to a "Seeker Sensitive" pastor who tries this failed methodology; and then, what happens to the church, when he picks up and leaves, going from church to church.

David Slayton's "Seeker Sensitive" philosophy is a large part of the problem at SNBC, and has contributed to the controversy there for the past several years.
 

Some years ago, I wrote the following, taken from the Introductory pdf:

"Changing How a Southern Baptist Church is Organized"

 

            In the “Seeker Sensitive” movement, “community” and “missional” are the buzzwords today… and if you claim to be a “missional community,” you are really on the cutting edge.  Rev. David Slayton is working hard to design “community” through small groups, centered around felt-needs; the “Seeker Sensitive” “Church Growth” methodology of Rick Warren; and now it is apparent, on the misguided theology of Bonhoeffer.

 

            “Church growth” is all the rage. For pastors like Slayton, the focus is on leadership. For laymen, on “reaching people.” In the church world, church-growth is the standard of success. If a church “reaches people,” and the pastor is a “visionary leader,” then the church will be considered a success. If a church makes it into somebody’s bogus “Fastest Growing Church” list, then the growth frenzy continues with the sheep flocking to check out what innovation has been initiated to reach the masses for Christ.  I think the Emperor has no clothes.  I reject the church-growth and church-health principles taught at almost every pastor’s conference, and expressed in almost every church.  Slayton’s’ building “missional community” does nothing more than produce a feel-good complacency in the “community members.” 

 

“Social Gospel” Ministry+“Missional Theory”=Shallow Worship & Theology

            So much of South Norfolk is now devoted to “social services” outreach programs that have nothing of the Gospel of Christ or Discipleship Training. The Christian is not so much to engage his society, but to come out from it, yet the church is becoming filled with those who are both in the world, and of the world; who are organizing to change the world into a kinder, gentler “community.”  But the success rate is not there: Society is more liberal and godless than ever before, with no end to its decline in sight. The “missional church” will continue to gather in their entertaining “worship,” and pat themselves on the back for their “victories.” South Norfolk has been totally impotent in bringing about societal change.  Building “missional community” in this case has only produced a feel-good atmosphere. Although church members are being assured that they are going to be people of impact, as part of a “community,” they fail to really make any difference. They fool themselves into thinking the Emperor’s clothes are superb.


              I reject the “missional-community church-growth movement” because it is deceptive. Participants in these churches feel like they are stalwart conservatives in a Bible-believing, Gospel-proclaiming, Hell-reducing, Kingdom-expanding church. They consistently proclaim, “My preacher really preaches the Bible.” True, their preacher does hold up a Bible and talk about how true and authoritative it is. He even quotes from the Bible fairly consistently (“I know the plans I have for you…I will never leave you nor forsake you…I am come that you might have life more abundantly…(and, of course) bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse”). What these church members do not know is that they have adopted the leftist agenda (socialism) or neo-con agenda (reconstructing a Christian society), which is as empty as it has always been. 

 

            It’s interesting to note, that yesterday’s fundamentalists, are today’s liberals. (A point recently made by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, President of our Southern Seminary, Louisville, KY.) Think about that: in relation to the lack of theology in the pulpit, the shallow music, and the entertainment being offered as “worship.”  Consider this: years ago, you would never have seen a youth group from Jerry Falwelll’s Liberty University show up in a church wearing grubby street bum dress, with guitar “slingers” and drummers and singers, dancing and prancing around a pulpit platform, with the pastor (David Slayton) getting into the Charismatic spirit of the performance, clapping and hand raising.  But I witnessed this myself at South Norfolk Baptist. (My thanks to pastor Dr. Randy White for helping me to “connect the dots” of what David Slayton is doing, in using the sermonic code words “Community” and “Missional” in remaking South Norfolk into something other than a true church).

           

            I haven’t mentioned proclamation of the Word, because in the several services I attended over the last three years I did attend at South Norfolk, and in those I have heard recently on the internet, there was not much expository preaching, except a pitch for a new sound system, (which, from my background in radio station engineering, didn’t need replacement), 7-11 hymns, praise singers, rock and roll instruments, and youth program promotion.  The church, in the eyes of some, may do good works, have good music (in the ears of many), have a good sound system, and a pastor who could lead circles around Moses.  What it doesn’t have is the backbone to proclaim that our world must reject humanism, social justice, poverty eradication efforts, and other whitewashed measures of “expanding the Kingdom of God”…and, must find its only hope in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Like Roger Mardis, who was fixated on the abortion issue, previously referenced, David Slayton is fixated on “fixing” the underprivileged minority youth of the Tidewater area, with the “Social Gospel,” to the exclusion of his primary responsibility as a pastor, under God, and as outlined in the Bible.

           

            If the electricity-dependent “worship” were suddenly cut off in the church auditorium, we would quickly see how much vast emptiness there would be: no show, no crowd. (When the $250. projector light bulb burned out in the middle of the 2012 Christmas Eve service, the worship leader had to resort to using the Hymnal.  How wonderful it was to hear good Christmas hymns!)

"Missional" and "Community" is the flawed theological philosophy at the core of the
"Social Gospel" David Slayton is determined to push at South Norfolk Baptist. He does NOT understand the true mission of the church.


Rev. Jesse Johnson, a Southern Baptist pastor, discusses why this philosophy is not biblical, and what the real purpose of the church is.  He mentions two individuals (Ed Stetzer and Mark Driscoll) whom Slayton has endorsed, and proves why those two are also wrong in understanding the mission of the church. Rev. Johnson spoke in a seminar at the
2011 Shepherds' Conference, titled,
"Missional Madness":

Dr. John MacArthur tells why the "Social Gospel" is not the "Gospel" of Jesus Christ:
It became apparent, as early as 2012, that David Slayton, (seen here in his ministerial attire of shorts and T-shirt), was pushing a "Social Gospel" agenda by hosting a "Poverty Forum" at SNBC.  One begins to wonder if his real "calling" was in Social Work and not in Pastor of a church.
"Selling Jesus"

This discussion deals with the subject of the modern-day church using marketing schemes to influence society rather than faithfully preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The speakers are Michael Horton, Ken Jones, Scott Clark, and Rod Rosenbladt:

"VISION CASTING"
What does Proverbs 29:18 really mean?
Pastor Slayton is involved in "Vision Casting" by paying more attention to books like "Sticky Church," (which he endorsed in his Jan. 15, 2015 sermon)  rather than to what Christ taught and commanded.  This is a formula for doctrinal and theological drift; it leads to transforming a church that becomes a mad house of works, rather than a place where you can sit, rest, and be fed God's Word.


No congregation should have it's own separate, unique mission vision statement; that vision has already been given to the church as a whole.

But David Slayton has chosen a "theme" aka "Vision Statement" which he has "Cast" at the beginning of each year; putting this on a poster below the organ pipes.

Individual churches are tasked as a whole to baptize and disciple. Look at the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20:  notice the words "...teaching them all that I have commanded you..."  if Christ hasn't taught it, if it's not verified in Scripture, then it's not to be taught in church.  "baptizing and teaching all that I have..." right? So if Jesus didn't teach it, why are heretical ideas being taught in South Norfolk Baptist?

Some pastors use the business model "Management by Objective" which may be alright in the business world, but is not to be used in a church.  

There is no authority in the Bible given to a congregation to do this.  David Slayton's using a book like "Sticky Church," is a formula for creating theological drift.


Rev. Rosebrough explains:
"Vision Casting" is Employed by
Seeker-Driven Pastors, and used by the "Growing Healthy Churches" movement.

 
Dr. John MacArthur answers the question of "What does it mean to cast a vision for your church?"
(Source: "Grace to You," used with permission)
Most "Seeker Sensitive" pastors use "Vision Casting" to 'lead' and
manipulate
their congregations

If you listen carefully, at the beginning of the following video, you will hear heretic Mark Batterson, (who was endorsed by David Slayton) endorse heretic David Yonggi Cho, disgraced 'pastor' of the world's largest megachurch, located in South Korea, (a former Buddhist, who claimed he had a vision from Jesus), and is now serving time in jail, along with his son (who was in collusion), for embezzling $12 million from the church.  You'll hear Batterson claim that he heard Cho speak, and got the idea for "Vision Casting" from him.

To me, it's sad that several key people in leadership at South Norfolk, have "fallen" for the false teaching coming from David Slayton.
Perry Noble, Vision Casting Leader (and not a pastor in any sense of the word) of NewSpring Church, S.C. (a church previously endorsed on a South Norfolk Church website) teaches the false doctrine of "Vision Casting"

Perry Noble removed as "pastor" at NewSpring

for personal behavior related to alcohol abuse


The Rev. Perry Noble, who started NewSpring Church nearly 20 years ago, is no longer its senior pastor.  (source: Greenville Online):


Early in Sunday's 9:15 a.m. service, Executive Pastor Shane Duffey announced that Noble had been removed as pastor on July 1, 2016, after the NewSpring board of directors had "made a difficult and painful decision" to make a change. Duffey said the termination by the state's largest and richest church came after Noble "had made unfortunate choices," and that the board members had confronted Noble on numerous occasions regarding his use of alcohol.


The announcement came three days after a closed-door, unscheduled meeting of church officials that fueled rumors throughout the community that the 45-year-old Noble was at odds with church hierarchy.


Noble, in a statement read by Duffey, said "I wish this were a joke, and part of a sermon illustration, but it is true."


He also confirmed an "overuse of alcohol," in the statement, adding that he has "come to depend on alcohol instead of Jesus." He also said that there was no infidelity or abuse in his marriage.


"No one is more disappointment in me than I am in myself," said Noble, the only senior pastor in the 16-year history of the church.


Noble also manages a personal blog/website (perrynoble.com) that he once used to convey frequent messages about his personal life and Christian topics. The blog has grown quiet in recent months. Noble made 51 posts in the first three months of 2016 but made only nine in April, six in May, and none in June or July.


Duffey announced that Clayton King will serve as interim senior pastor. Cooper delivered the primary message Sunday morning.

Noble was one of 22 pastors listed on the church's website. In addition to the 17 campus pastors, Noble led a staff that includes Brad Cooper as executive pastor of ministries, Duffey, Howard Frist as executive pastor of campuses, and Michael Millikin as executive pastor of operations.


NewSpring unofficially began in 1998 when Noble, an Anderson native, began holding Bible study on Wednesday nights at his apartment in Anderson. Eight people came to the first meeting. Within six weeks, the crowd had grown to 150.  The next summer, Noble was at a restaurant when a friend asked him: "What would you do for God if you knew you could not fail?"  Noble's answer: Start NewSpring Church

.

The church's first service was held on Jan. 16, 2000, in the Sullivan Building at Anderson University. About 115 people showed up.

The congregation grew tremendously after that, and by 2004, NewSpring was building a campus near Concord Road and S.C. 81 North in Anderson.  The congregation moved into the 2,460-seat auditorium there in 2006, and the church's membership soon doubled from 4,000 to 8,000 people.


Now, NewSpring has 17 campuses across South Carolina and more than 30,000 people attend its weekly services. In 2015, NewSpring's income was more than $64 million, according to an annual report posted the church's website.


NewSpring is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, but leaders of the organization have criticized Noble over the church's use of secular music. Noble's messages have also been controversial at times — including one last year in which he stated that the Ten Commandments were not commandments.

A similar controversy erupted in 2009, when the NewSpring band opened the Easter service with the rock song "Highway to Hell."


Why give space to this news about
Perry Noble?

Because David Slayton falls within the same "Seeker Sensitive" mold, and if you listen carefully to the description in the audio that follows, you will hear the similarity in the non-preaching style between these two. 

Keep in mind, that at South Norfolk Baptist, unlike NewSpring, there has been no oversight of the pastor and his "Seeker-Emergent" church methods and heretical teaching. I have been praying that Slayton would repent and apologize to the congregation.

Andy Stanley
(son of Dr. Charles Stanley, but not like his father at all)
is one of the premier Vision Casting pastors.

The following audio program describes the techniques used by "Seeker Sensitive" pastors, including David Slayton.....listen carefully to how this type of sermon is presented to a congregation, who are not aware of what is going on:

Andy Stanley (son of Dr. Charles Stanley) has been teaching a new false doctrine, "The Temple Model," and has publicly stated that he has encouraged other "Seeker Sensitive" pastors to use his material, by putting it on the internet.

Andy Stanley proclaims that Church has become resistible to people because of all of the baggage that comes along with it; baggage like clear doctrine, and traditional, edifying worship. By removing these things that are “holding the Church back” we can now make church attractive to people and give people a “better life.”

 

Much like Joel Osteen, the “Prosperity Gospel” Heretic, he isn’t concerned with the eternal salvation of people’s souls, rather he wants to give people “their best life now.” So let’s do away with doctrine that teaches people about sin and repentance and the merciful loving grace of God. Let’s not teach people about the consequences of sin (Hell), but let’s just teach people to come in and sing rock and roll music, follow some of the red-letter teachings of Jesus about loving one-another.

 

Then people can walk out of here on Sunday mornings temporally fulfilled, have a better life, and perhaps the pockets of wolves like Andy Stanley will be lined with the dollar bills of these lost sheep and/or goats.


Rev. Chris Rosebrough explains the false doctrine being taught, in the two sermon reviews below:

THE "TRANSITIONED" CHURCH
The root of the problem
at many churches

 

Rev. Chris Rosebrough, who produced and narrates the program, writes: "Below is a Special Edition of the "Fighting for the Faith" radio program, that exposes the Cult-Like Hostile Takeover Tactics of Dan Southerland's Purpose-Driven Church Transitioning Seminar. The list of cult-like tactics employed by Southerland is long. They include:


1. Flat out lies and manipulative double speak

2. Blatant Scripture Twisting

3. New & Direct Extra Biblical Revelation and Visions from God

4. Flat out intolerance for anyone who questions or challenges these "new" Extra Biblical Revelations and Visions that are supposedly from God.


All of these cult-like tactics are exposed and discussed in this special edition of "Fighting for the Faith."  Furthermore, I cannot emphasize enough the fact that Dan Southerland's Church Transitions company has been the "go to" company used by Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven businesses to train pastors into Warren's Druckerite leadership methodologies. 


Pastors are taught to preach eisegetical and narcigetical sermons, that subtlety inculcate (to implant by repeated statement or admonition) his "vision" for where he wants to lead the church, and the methods he wants to use.  He will often berate the congregation with scripture taken out of context that seems to support his position.  Individuals, who do not agree with the pastor, will often find themselves as unnamed illustrations in those sermons. Sometimes he will use illustrations from his own past experience that remain "hot button" unresolved issues, and are verbally expressed with psychological anger and cynicism, in an attempt to admonish the congregation that he is correct about a certain matter.  (I have noted instances of these occurring in David Slayton's sermons, in the Introductory article.)  In fact, I have learned more about David Slayton than I have Jesus Christ, listening to his 'sermons.'


Some pastors also learn methods  that bypass scriptural teaching on church discipline, especially when staff are found to be in serious sin, known among the congregation; with the pastor playing a CEO disciplinarian role.  (This was also noted in a sermon by Slayton; where he stated his right to "Privileged Communication").

How a church is "Transitioned," and the techniques used, are discussed in the following audio documentary:
 
(Courtesy of "Fighting for the Faith" radio/podcast)
This is the book (with the forward written by Rick Warren) containing the methods which are studied in training conferences and courses, by those pastors who want to "transition" their churches into being "Seeker Sensitive" and "Purpose Driven." This is the program that lays the foundation for: "Contemporary Praise," "Praise Teams," "7-11 Hymns," "Doing church for the Un-churched Pagan," "Pastor's Vision," "Social Gospel," "Prosperity Gospel," and "Eisegetical Preaching."

A church doesn't need a "vision statement" or "mission statement" cast in stone at the sole direction of a pastor.

Long-range planning studied and agreed upon through pastor-church collaboration is fine, but it can be misused, when the document becomes a device used by a pastor to dictate what he wants the church to be.
It can be especially disconcerting when there is no document at all, and things move along at the pastor's whim.  Of course, the basic "mission statement" of the church has already been given to us; it's found in the Bible.
How Dan Southerland takes Scripture out of Context:

How to tell if your church is in the throes of Transformation

(reprinted with permission)


“Transformation” is the end-goal of a process that moves from TRADITION through TRANSITION to TRANSFORMATION. This is sometimes called a “Paradigm Shift,” which means that Transformation shifts one’s worldview (paradigm) from the old to a new. This is a dialectically unfolding PROCESS in which the THESIS is continually challenged by ANTITHESIS, evolving into ever-unfolding SYNTHESES. Transformation is engineered, orchestrated and/or manipulated. Transformation involves changing over a person’s values, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and even their behaviors to that of the new paradigm/worldview.

How to tell if it is “Transformation” –

Characteristics of TRADITION:
1. Education (teaching) is didactic
2. Cognitive
3. Right and Wrong
4. Focus on “what is”
5. “I know” statements
6. Facts, TRUTH
7. Respond to change by standing on THESIS

Characteristics of TRANSITION:
1. Education is facilitation
2. Affective (feelings), psychological
3. Must “determine” right and wrong (up for grabs)
4. Experience (dialogue)
5. “I think” or “I feel” subjective statements
6. OPINIONS
7. Respond to change by adapting to new SYNTHESIS

Characteristics of TRANSFORMATION:
1. Education is modeling, spiritual formation, mentoring
2. Esoteric (mystical)
3. No absolutes
4. Common ground, coevolution, collective unconscious
5. Intuitive, “I sense,” imagery, imagination
6. ANTITHESIS supplants THESIS
7. Continual, perpetual change

How to spot the PROCESS of “Transformation.” Look for:

A. New Language:
1. Newly coined words, terms, phrases, slogans
2. Old words given new meanings
3. Old definitions discarded
4. Intentional deception, misleading statements, half-truths, ambiguity

B. New Worldview/Paradigm
1. A new way of seeing or interpreting reality—events, circumstances, history, causes and effects, etc.
2. Creating a new reality using envisioning activities
3. Revisionist history: altering the facts, distorting prior events to fit new paradigm
4. Creating a new reality through psycho-social change mechanisms

C. New Structure
1. New authority structure, system of governance, new forms of accountability
2. New physical structure
3. New forms, formulas, formats, formations
4. New liturgies not based on doctrine or Scripture

D. New Mission/Vision
1. Subjective, constantly changing, relative
2. Strategic
3. Not tied to Biblical absolute Truth or Word of God
4. Subject to continual urgency, crisis, acceleration, etc.

E. New Values
1. Subjective, relational, situational, abstract
2. Irrational, illogical, irreverent, irrelevant
3. Tolerance for everything but absolute Truth
4. “The end justifies the means”

F. New Methods
1. Bait and switch, marketing, manipulation, machinations
2. Statistics, census-taking, databanking, assessing, monitoring
3. Orchestrated consensus, common ground, deceptions
4. Peer-driven, compulsive, coercive

G. New Doctrines
1. Man-oriented, culturally relative, contextualized, programmed
2. Anything that erodes the sovereignty of God
3. Utopian-sounding
4. Authoritarian in implementation

Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Church" (discussed earlier on this page as, David Slayton's handbook for ministry)
also incorporates the basics of Dan Southerland's "Transitioning."  Warren shows how any pastor can use his "Church Growth" and "Church Health" principles, to increase numerical results, without real Christian followers of Christ.
Rick Warren and his "Purpose Driven" methods, have been endorsed in the Pulpit of 
South Norfolk Baptist 
by Lynn Hardaway, of the Bridge Network of Churches/Norfolk Baptist Association.
 

Rick Warren and The Purpose Driven Life: A Discussion (White Horse Inn):

How the Church Growth, "Growing Healthy Churches" Movement

Drives the Gospel and Bible truth,

out of Churches:

CHURCH TAKEOVERS:
A TRUE VIRGINIA BAPTIST STORY
In the two articles that follow, listen to the pain of some Virginia Baptist church members who have experienced attempts, some successful, and some unsuccessful, by so-called "ultra-conservatives" to take over their churches and move them out of the Baptist General Association (BGAV) of Virginia.

(David Slayton has aligned himself, and South Norfolk Baptist with the SBCV "splinter" group, which previous pastor, Roger Mardis, misled South Norfolk in joining & leaving the Virginia Baptist Association.)

Today's Liberals, were yesterday's Conservatives; i.e., those who perpetrate all the "Seeker Sensitive/Purpose Driven/Pastoral Vision Casting" nonsense, (which is generated by the "Purpose Driven" philosophy and "Growing Healthy Churches" Network) are Liberal; not Conservative Bible-believing, teaching Pastors. 

Many pastors are not telling Pulpit Committees the truth when they are interviewed; they cover up their true feelings, gloss over their theological beliefs, hide problems in their former pastorates, claim to be a Southern Baptist, but support a "splinter" group like the SBCV, instead of the real Virginia Southern Baptist state group, the BGAV; and, worst of all, what they plan to do in changing the direction of the church under consideration.  Many congregations are finding out, much to their sorrow, that they have called a man who has a hidden agenda.
 
Of all the Southern Baptist Seminary presidents I have heard speak on this subject, they have all roundly condemned this "Seeker Sensitive" and "Purpose Driven" nonsense.  Why?  Because it is not Biblical.

SEEKER SENSITIVE METHODS
(for a full discussion, see the webpage: "Seeker Sensitive Heresy")

The detrimental effect of the "Seeker Sensitive" methodology

on the church, is discussed by

Dr. R. Al Mohler, Jr., (President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Dr. R.C. Sproul, and Dr. Ravi Zacharias:

A lot of "numbers"  were mentioned in one sermon by David Slayton: they were individuals who were in myriad off-site areas; not at South Norfolk Baptist Church, nor in the South Norfolk/Portlock area, itself. 

By putting pictures on the SNBC Facebook website of large groups of youth from the SHRMP program (from off-site/other-than-South Norfolk), in the auditorium, a false impression is given.  They are not from South Norfolk.  Numbers are always important to "Pastor David." 

This is a major piece of the "Vision Casting" pastors, like Stephen Furtick and Perry Noble, who place great emphasis on numbers, not discipleship; and certainly not conversions to Christ.

True ministry is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit of God. As Pastors, we are not called to pander to the culture of the world, trying to be "relevant." The comfort and the admiration of the un-churched is not suppose to be our paramount concern.  We are not called to engage the culture.  If we try to engage the culture, the result will be an adjustment OF the Gospel. The greatness of God is not measured by the size of the crowd we accumulate.

 

Rev. Phil Johnson discusses this problem at the 2014 Shepherds' Conference in the following video:

(Courtesy of GTY, used with permission).


“The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful. Raw factionalism will do it. Rank heresy will do it. Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it-admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul. Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it. 

Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God. Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism-all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church. And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Dr. D.A. Carson, Professor of New Testament, Trinity International University; formerly Dean, Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary. A conservative theologian who was written more than 50 scholarly books for pastors and seminarians.

Education:

BSc, McGill University
MDiv, Central Baptist Seminary, Toronto
PhD, University of Cambridge

Recalling what Dr. Carson said about how a church is destroyed, let me suggest that the "Sheep Beating" that occurred in the March 1, 2015 sermon, at South Norfolk Baptist, followed by discussing Rainer's book, deserves comment.

First and foremost, there is no way you can listen to a tape of that sermon, followed by a discussion of the "Autopsy" book, know the intimate background of the current infighting between pastor and people, and not come to a conclusion.

 

Now, let's take a look at that "gem" which was presented to the "leadership" on Sunday night.  Rainer's book deserves careful scrutiny:

The authorial intent is both noble and heartfelt.  Rainer has developed much time to the study of church health.  His text could have been developed further into an in-depth study worthy of publication, or simply reduced to a pamphlet size handout.  Unfortunately, the results rest in a hazy middle ground that could have many readers disappointed for different reasons.  A substantial flaw in the book comes from the small number of samples examined.  14 churches is not enough to definitely declare what causes a church to die.  Regional diversity, cultural milieus, ethnic makeup, rigid pastoral authority, and myriad other influential factors could change the results substantially, and call for a larger sampling size.

The book unfortunately rests on pragmatic observation, than Biblical theology.  Rather than contrast the Biblical foundations laid out in scripture with the deceased churches, the author uses his observational studies to draw conclusions.  Only after a list is composed does he seek to go back into the Bible for support.  Sometimes an explanation is easy and other times, it is unattainable.  While providing good solid principles, the book should not be the foundational resource to which one turns for a church rescue....if South Norfolk is at that point.

In the Rainer book, I saw plenty of concern about churches that seemed unwilling to "change with the times," but no concern about changing just to go with the flow, and spending funds to put in coffee bars, expensive "stage" and sound equipment, playgrounds, and recreation programs, to make the church the "in" place to be. 

There is not much in the way of serious case study in this book: can God be so powerless that 1/2 of the churches in America are dying?  Am I so powerful that I can destroy God's desire for the churches' in America? I doubt it.

One Pastor gave this tongue-in-cheek review: "Once again, I sense a pastor looking for a quick fix.  If he has been in ministry any time at all, he knows his stuff.  Your church is clueless or it wouldn't be in the mess it's in.  They sure don't want to hear it.  What they do want is  a new coach with the magic moves.  If you take this to a deacon meeting, make sure you've already reserved your U-Haul for moving day.  Give up on denominational churches, retire early, before you stroke out trying to lead one of these monsters, get a clean New Testament to devour, and get a fresh understanding of what church really is.  And do not plant a church when you emerge from your cave.  Bacon and eggs around a kitchen table with a neighbor who has never been a church goer might be a good way to start your life, post "church."  Whole lot cheaper than gospel blimps.  But, we aren't in this for our health, so eat the bacon and eggs, and get back to work.  Ministry is not for sissies.  But skip this book."

There is nothing new or groundbreaking within the pages.  I found it to be terribly dismal offering little hope, a few scriptures thrown in, and a rather condescending attitude to boot.  Church splits, greed, desire to be "mega," a place of judgment with egotistical "little Napoleon" pastors, pastors who preach heresy, is what leads to death. 

He does paint a good picture of a dying church.  He does not address the other kind of dying church:  the church that goes apostate with a pastor who preaches heresy.

In summation, the book doesn't offer the in depth solutions that are needed.  Rainer follows the "Purpose Driven" Church Health" "Seeker Sensitive" mantra that a congregation's liturgy (way of worship) must be subject to change to attract outsiders, and inflexibility in the area of worship ritual can be deadly; so change or die.  There is no wiggle room in the book's analysis for those traditions that have deep theological reasons, hammered out over multiple centuries, for their set liturgy and way of worship. 

Rainer claims to be a consultant, but he only told one story of showing up, condemning a church, and walking away.  If he is such a good consultant, how about some success stories?  The advice on how to save a church is vague and impossible to apply (the Great Commission is not local).  There was no information on how to fix it. 

Also, I have to ask, since mega churches are a recent phenomenon, maybe God likes small churches and the bigger a church is, the more sick it is.  Since the Bible never comments on church size, we can never know.

Churches were designed for feeding the saints and equipping them for service on an individual basis, and not necessarily on a corporate one.

Perhaps a better tack for the current pastor would have been to skip the book, preach a good sermon without grandstanding and "Sheep Beating," and, if necessary, bring in a non-controversial, not-a-personal-friend consultant from the Virginia Baptist General Board in Richmond.

South Norfolk Baptist website
announces it will observe the Catholic tradition of
Ash Wednesday,
for the first time in it's over 120 year history!

What will South Norfolk Baptist folk give up for

Ash Wednesday/Lent?


Remember the good old days when Christians heard the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ preached from the pulpit instead of the postmodern watered-down version? You could tell the ministers that were literally called by God because they had a desire to preach the Word! Today believers are hearing feel-good messages, messages about how to be successful...how to be a good spouse...how to raise kids...how to live "Your Best Life Now"...plus a mish-mash of psychobabble.

 

What is disgraceful is that many pastors are becoming Life Coaches instead of teachers of the Word. We're told, "Do your best and you'll get into heaven." This is so not true! In Mat. 7:14 Jesus said, "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. 


But...alas...chasing "every wind of doctrine"....("That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;" Ephesians 4:14).....now South Norfolk Baptist is being led astray with Ash Wednesday/Lent.....wonder what will be "given up?"  Perhaps the heresy being taught? or the "noisy gong and clanging cymbal" of the praise band?  or the secular dance lessons? One can only hope.....



Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in a sermon (1962) from John 1,
is blunt in his appraisal:

"Lent, of course, is a relic of Roman Catholicism. One can easily understand it in such an organization – it gives power to the priest, and so on – but there is, I repeat, no evidence whatsoever in favour of it in the New Testament, and it simply leads to this show of wisdom and human will power. It is people adding their works to the grace of God, and this is essentially Roman Catholic teaching. Well, my friends, let us get rid of this, let us not waste our time with it. We are to be led by the Spirit always."

Protestants Don’t Celebrate Ash

Wednesday, or Lent.

We Are Protestant

For a Reason.


Timothy J. Hammons explains:

 

According to Slayton in one of his sermons, there are a lot of things Baptists aren’t supposed to do. "Baptists don’t drink, dance, gamble, or chew."


Most Baptists don’t do Lent either.


Lent is the forty-day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (not counting the Sundays in between). The odd-sounding name comes from the Anglo-Saxon “lencten” meaning “spring.” The Latin name is “Quadragesima,” which means “fortieth.” It’s symbolic of Jesus’ forty days of fasting and temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2).  (It's 'symbolic' of Jesus in the wilderness; not the basis of authority from Scripture or from the teachings of Jesus that Lent should be observed.)


On Wednesday, February 10, 2016, a 2 minute 45 second audio was posted on the SNBC website, in which Rev. Slayton read his position on Lent placed on the back of a bulletin (obviously recorded during a service in the church observing Ash Wednesday).  That was the only audio that they put out on their website for that date, which in itself is curious: we have to wonder what he was hiding from the listening public, that he didn't want aired. Many "Seeker Sensitive" pastors who are called out on their heresy will do this.  Some of the larger mega-church false teachers are gifted at doing this.

In that brief read statement, he attempted to imply that all Christians from the beginning, observed this ritual.  But I don't find it in the Bible, and Jesus didn't teach this Catholic tradition/ritual. Please show me in the Bible where Jesus did. 

Nevertheless, Slayton's rationale for observing Ash Wednesday is specious at best; an attempt at blending the Catholic observance into something palatable for his supposed Baptist congregation.  (I say 'supposed' because he has led the church into the "Seeker Sensitive" and "Emergent" mold; complete with myriad heretical teaching on a wide range of subjects not based on the Bible, and practices that are un-Christian, including Rap, Hip-Hop, secular dancing, etc.)

I asked two ministers to look at Slayton's statement and respond.  Their comments are below.
Slayton stated on February 10, 2016: (with my comments in "blue" type)

"I would like to share with you an invitation to Lenten discipline and a history of the significance of this day to our Christian history.  (to "our" Christian history?  No, he is manipulating a wrong interpretation of Church history and making it sound as if South Norfolk should be/have been practicing this all along).  Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season we call Lent, which consists of the forty week-days preceding Easter. (Now watch how he twists the 40 day Catholic Lenten ritual into other 40 day events, as if they are tied into Lent, and, is if these events would justify practicing Lent).  These forty days during which Jesus fasted in the wilderness, the forty days spent by Moses on Sinai, the forty hours of Christ's entombment, and the forty days between the resurrection and the ascension. Many people fail to have an interest in this season, (Southern Baptist’s don’t "fail to have an interest" because it is a Catholic tradition; they shouldn’t have ANY interest in it.  And this is the first time in over 120 years that a pastor has instituted this Catholic practice in South Norfolk Baptist Church) which is associated with fasting.  A popular notion is that Christianity is an easy going religion and requires little sacrifice from us as believers. (Here, Slayton presents his rationale for why Lent is/should be celebrated, and thus will say why the folks at SNBC need to celebrate it….after all, {your} religion "requires little sacrifice.") However, the cross is a symbol of sacrifice and we as believers must follow in the footsteps of sacrifice. The early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, (but early Christians didn’t observe Lent) and it became the custom of the Church that before Easter celebration there should be a season of spiritual preparation. During this season, converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. (Catholic converts were prepared for Holy Baptism; this is from the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox tradition......and is a reference to the emphasis placed by the Second Vatican Council when the Catholic Church reemphasized the baptismal character of Lent, especially through the restoration of the Catechumenate {the individual Catholic} and its Lenten rituals.    Prepared for "Holy" baptism during Lent is not taught in the Bible.  This is strictly Catholic doctrine and has no place in a Baptist church!) It was also a time when persons who committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were restored to participation in the life of the Church. (Show me where that is in the Bible....this is simply more Roman Catholic theology.)  In this way, the whole congregation (which "congregation"? Those attending Catholic Mass.) was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.

 

The Offering of Sacrifices: (what is this "Offering of Sacrifices?"  In the Catholic tradition, it is "giving up something for Lent" and is NOT something practiced by members of a Southern Baptist Church!)
- Over the next 40 days, I will daily spend time alone with Jesus in personal devotion.
- Over the next 40 days, I will praise the Lord for His surprises." (Here is an attempt by Slayton to "blend" the Catholic and his "vision casting" philosophy of the "Prosperity Gospel;" the "believe and receive" 'His surprises' false theology.)

 

Both ministers who reviewed the above statement by Slayton, stated: the church theology he is describing and envisioning for South Norfolk Baptist, is Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox.

(So, why would Rev. Slayton apply this Roman Catholic teaching to a Baptist congregation, as if it were truly the way a Baptist congregation should worship?)


Consider the following:

Rev. Roger Olson says that he won’t be observing Lent, even though other Baptists may find meaning in the ritual. “I’m not saying throw out the church calendar or Lent and all that, but I’m sad when Baptists think observing Ash Wednesday is by itself a step toward experiencing God. In fact, I think for many people, all this Baptist flirting with high church is just a way of putting more distance between ourselves and God.”

 

Olson’s cautious approach seems worth considering, even as Baptists continue to study the extent to which they can follow the traditional Christian calendar. At the very least, Baptists seem comfortable observing Palm Sunday (Christ’s triumphal entry), Good Friday (Christ’s crucifixion), and Easter Sunday (Christ’s resurrection). If so, we could even add Maundy Thursday to the list, as a commemoration of the Last Supper, although this is not generally practiced by Southern Baptists, and never at SNBC. All of these events seem rooted in the New Testament narrative and can be easily harmonized with our theological heritage.

 

Lent, however, poses more problems.

First, it is difficult to reconcile Lent with our Baptist ideas about New Testament authority. Though it has a very long heritage, Lent should be viewed as an extra-Biblical human tradition. ("Extra-Biblical" is a phrase which means:  Information or content outside the Bible.  Teachings, concepts and practices claimed to be supported by or taught in the Bible, but which are based on incorrect interpretation). In hermeneutics, the study of the methodological principles of interpretation, this is known as “eisogesis” (super-imposing a meaning onto the text), as opposed to “exegesis” (drawing the meaning out of the text).

 

When recent Roman Catholic theologians have addressed the origin of Lent, they rightly avoid connecting Lent to any apostolic command, neither do they claim Lent is consistently taught by the pre-Nicene fathers. A well-taught Catholic will recognize Lent as a later tradition. This is a problem for Catholics, who can be expected to worship within their own theological traditions.

 

But Baptists define the activities of the gathered church solely on the basis of New Testament authority. This belief does not mean Baptists are disconnected from two millennia of church tradition—but it does mean our observance of common traditions must be rooted in clear Scriptural teaching. Though some Baptists may find private devotional value in Lenten traditions, one cannot imagine how an entire Baptist congregation could corporately observe Lent without violating individual consciences.  This is especially true when a pastor will impose this ritual on a congregation that has never experienced it, and was never taught it was Biblical.  In such a case, it would show a serious lack of doctrinal and discipleship teaching, for a congregation to go along with this without question.

 

Second, it is difficult to practice Lent without abruptly facing its theological roots. While fasting is commended, but not commanded, in the New Testament, it is not taught as a means of penance, or as a means of obtaining spiritual merit. In contrast, Roman Catholics continue to believe that Lenten good works (penance, voluntary fasting, self-denial, alms-giving) are performed for purification. These good works are a form of holiness that mixes with the good works of deceased saints in Heaven to form the Church’s treasury, which also includes the good works of the Virgin Mary.  The Catholic Church can then apply these merits to the negative merits of believers still in purgatory (or other believers still on earth). This traditional Catholic meaning of Lent should trouble Baptists. Too often we are tempted to borrow any and every religious tradition—then redefine it with ideas that are closer to our evangelical beliefs.   Apparently David Slayton has done this here; he certainly has borrowed ideas from other heretical teachings, as we have seen, and pawned them off on the congregation, as genuine theology.

 

While Baptists have much to learn about proper worship, we cannot reverse-engineer the theological background of Lent. The road to Rome, or even the road to Canterbury, is too far for Baptists to travel.

 

Finally, the observance of Lent also raises a subtle question of emphasis. The liturgical calendar is skewed toward a celebration of Jesus Christ’s life as taught in the Gospels (including the 40 days reserved for Lent). Please don’t misunderstand—every thinking person can benefit from a gospel-centered emphasis on Christ. On the other hand, one must also observe how the liturgical calendar invests significantly less time (and structure) to an exposition of the Epistles, especially the apostolic teachings about the church.

 

For Baptists, the “whole counsel of God” must be taught in its proper relationship to “the pillar and ground of truth,” the church.  (Scripture cannot just be ripped out of context and misquoted or misused to justify a pastor's pet philosophy).  Here the traditional church calendar offers less support. Perhaps Baptists could respond by offering better ways to celebrate Pentecost Sunday, remembering the birth of the church, although that particular Sunday is not seen in the majority of SBC churches, and never at SNBC.  Certainly Baptists can learn a fuller, richer appreciation of the Bible by returning parts of the liturgical calendar to its rightful place in our worship. But such ideas must be approached cautiously, avoiding those traditions that are not rooted in clear New Testament teaching.

 

Perhaps Roger Olson’s recent comments provide a helpful conclusion. While admitting that some Baptists might observe Lent in ways that do not contradict their own theology, Olson does not follow such rituals himself. Instead, he offers a more Baptist alternative: “If we are going to observe the church calendar, let’s also return to our own roots and sing hymns and gospel songs and give our testimonies and talk about Jesus and memorize our Bibles and give altar calls and kneel at the altar to pray,” Olson says.

 

Olson's solution, rooted in the Southern Baptist free church tradition, also acknowledges that some Baptist churches have dropped the ball when it comes to their own worship. Perhaps we could observe a 40-day period of “penance” for our poorly planned and organized church services! The reflection would do us good.

Trying to bring in a Catholic observance, is an attempt to be "relevant" and Ecumenical to the "community;"  it is an attempt to attract the pagan....especially since in the over 100 year history of South Norfolk Baptist Church, this Catholic observance has NEVER been practiced!!
Ecumentalism is false unity: there is no unity without doctrine. 


Sermon Review:  "Jesus' Prayer Request"

by David Slayton, April 3, 2016.


Having skipped over posting an Easter sermon on the SNBC website for some unknown reason, we have this completely Narcigetical sermon, mostly about himself; seeking to endear himself to the congregation with stories about snapping beans on a farm in Gretna, VA,  his car GPS gone wrong, and the recycling/retelling again of a familiar story taken from his short tenure at Powhatan Church, and a friend from that church who also attended Liberty U., but who is not seminary trained (went to a church as youth director/ended up as pastor?!), coming to help him with SHRMP, his "social gospel" outreach program, which does not impact the immediate South Norfolk area.


Then, we got the "Terry's toenails" story about Rev. Terry Riddle, with "Toenails flying all over the fellowship hall." Cute, but childish; what does that have to do with the Scripture lesson?   And...why bring another pastor of a nearby church into your sermon?........as if Riddle could enhance Slayton's own standing in SNBC; trying to convince the congregation of his "social gospel programs," by using the example of another "Seeker Sensitive" pastor.


These are just more anecdotal stories.  I have learned more about David Slayton than I have about Jesus Christ listening to his 'sermons.'


(But he does this over and over, and over, and over, and over again....)


Sidebar: In several sermons over the past 4 years, where he Eisegetes Scripture, (recorded and stored electronically for reference), Slayton has mentioned current and deceased members by name, from the pulpit, as if they, both living and deceased, could add influence/endorsement to his firmly held “Seeker Sensitive” position, or enhance his standing in the congregation, by this “name calling.” 

Let me say, that this co-opting of other people, by publicly calling their name, is a “no-no” in the pulpit.  (The Merriam-Webster definition of “Co-opt”:  “to cause or force (someone or something) to become part of your group, movement, etc.; to use or take control of something for your own purposes.”) You can listen online or read about his other sermons, verbatim, starting on Page 63 in the Introductory PDF.

Terry Riddle, now at Southside Baptist Church, Chesapeake, VA, (previously pastor of Grove Park Baptist, Portsmouth for a short tenure; and, after he left Grove Park, he served as an Associate Pastor in an unknown location for 2 years; then, he left the pastoral ministry and became a "Case Manager" for a non-profit agency in Portsmouth, VA, for 2 years). 


He was mentioned/endorsed by David Slayton prominently in his sermon, and, therefore, deserves some examination here. 


Riddle recently endorsed the heresy of Mark Batterson's "The Circle Maker," in a newsletter he put out to his church.  Southside, having recently been "surveyed and assessed" by the Bridge Network Norfolk association, by a group that included a female Presbyterian "pastor," Riddle now presides over a 'Contemporary' praise band, and is recommending the book, "Who Stole My Church?" by the confirmed adulterer Gordon MacDonald.  (Yes, you heard that right.)

Because some pastors are willing to endorse anything, an honest appraisal by discerning Christian pastors and authors is offered here:
 

1.  A book from the grave of ministry disqualification.

Gordon MacDonald has nothing to say and no one should bother listening to him or spending any money on his books. The nature of the ongoing affair he had several years ago should disqualify him from leadership in a church or having opinions about churches. He should find a good church that teaches the Bible (something he really never did) and learn in humility and integrity of the kind that would make him realize he should not seek leadership or write books. What is it that makes some men think they have an entitlement to spiritual leadership and earning a living in ministry no matter what? There is forgiveness and personal non leadership ministry after proving oneself again, but he will never be "above reproach" or a "one woman man" again. He and his wife stayed together, but he will always be a man who was sexually involved with two women while both were still living. He is therefore a two woman man for the rest of his life (1 Tim. 3:2).


I know a former pastor, who as a young man served under Gordon MacDonald for several years as staff in ministry, in two churches that Gordon MacDonald pastored. This young man also had an affair and he went off and left his wife and daughters. The effect on his wife and daughters was devastating. One daughter ended up on drugs for a time. I have always thought this tragedy may have been the result of the type of spirituality and attitude exemplified by Gordon MacDonald. By the way, none of this is rumor but was made public and acknowledged some time ago. I read one of Gordon MacDonald's books many years ago, before the revelation of his ongoing sexual affair. It was memorable as it had almost no scripture or referrals to scripture.  


2.  An Apropos Title

The title "Who Stole My Church?" is quite apropos. Allow me to explain.


Gordon was my first pastor as a new Christian in 1980. He preached messages that stirred me and made me want to serve the Lord. He was always patient with me in spite of my many, many flaws. I deeply respected the man. He even baptized me in 1981.


So I was among those who were pretty crushed when he left Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA, and became president of Inter-varsity. But I was far more crushed when the news of his moral failure became known. He had been my example in so many ways. If he could fall, what hope was there for a mere mortal like me? I still wonder that sometimes. The man was truly an evangelical superstar.


After his long-standing affair became known and was ended, Gordon was "reinstated" to gospel ministry at a service back at Grace Chapel. The time was late 1986, if memory serves, and I attended. Vernon Grounds of Denver Seminary presided over the service, declaring Gordon now "fit for gospel ministry." I think it was John MacArthur who preached soon after that on the life-long disqualification of a man who falls into sexual immorality, and who perceptively commented that such a service of "reinstatement" had never occurred in the Church in almost 2000 years. As the Lord led in my life, seven years later I was enrolled at The Master's Seminary with John MacArthur still preaching the same message of marital fidelity and maintaining a high respect for the office of pastor. I was challenged to my core, and I was comforted, too.


Now, almost twenty years later, I'm back in New England pastoring (for over 10 years here). And I think I can comment, if not with certain wisdom, at least anecdotally, on who stole the church here in New England. As you all may know, actual Bible teaching churches are almost non-existent. Most that do are small and struggling to pay the bills.


But it wasn't always this way. What happened was in fact what Gordon MacDonald details in his book. He wouldn't see it this way, but the older generation caved in to the younger, actually hoping to reach the younger generation by ignoring doctrine and changing music. The older saints, instead of teaching the younger generation the glories of Christ and His church, abdicated their Scriptural roles. They succumbed to the whole idea that the younger generation will best be reached by a younger generation.


The churches tried to, in a sense, "de-church" themselves by neglecting godly eldership. They handed off leadership to young men (and women) who were in fact touch with the culture of evangelicalism, but rarely with the elements of true saving faith in Christ. As a result, many were brought into churches (in both leadership and membership) without a saving relationship to Christ, but were quite in tune with methodologies and paradigms.

These men and women now search constantly for the next new method and paradigm, leading churches into ever more neglect of the gospel. Their churches tend to be filled with people who show up for worship, get entertained, receive a message on personal achievement and community responsibility, and then leave. Its a strange brew of me-ism and social guilt. The churches that have any size at all have to hire more and more staff due to the non-involvement of the people, scrambling, for example, to find anyone willing to take care of children during church.


So "who stole the church?" In my opinion, Satan, through schemes and trickery, put the older generation in a pickle when, feeling their inadequacy, they capitulated to pragmatic thinking. They left their first love, and the truth is, this older generation now wanders from church to church, looking for that "old-time religion." Or, they are miserable, and rarely attend church.


They were assured by men like MacDonald, and the now defunct New England Evangelistic Association, that the younger generation had the same faith, but was just presenting it in a more relevant form. They were assured that the content would remain, and were lulled to sleep by false assurances that while their church would change, its object of worship would remain the same, Christ. But sadly, having traded integrity for relevance, they now find their churches entirely irrelevant to the faith they know is true.


Who stole their church? Nobody. They gave it away. They gave the money to buy the techno stuff and new buildings, and their gray hair was the capital that lent respectability. But their knowledge and seasoned wisdom were deemed passe, and they for the most part believed it.


Men like my old pastor, Gordon MacDonald, were instrumental in doing so. Sadly, they gambled with the church, and lost.


3.  There's a saying from the world of casino gambling, "The house always wins." That saying often came to mind while I was reading this book. Gordon MacDonald is the house & he will win. The outcome of this fictional church scenario is obvious from page one.


MacDonald had written a novel in which he casts himself and his wife as the only "real" people in it. The various lay people are all characters created by him. The plot revolves around a New England congregation whose membership has just turned down a proposed expensive revamping of the sanctuary to accommodate more "modern" worship. The pastor is shocked at the resistance to his plans and sets up a meeting with a group of members (in their 50s & 60s) who opposed the plan and are resistant to all the changes he has made. The group (named the Discovery Group) embarks on many weeks of meetings in an attempt to get at what the issues really are affecting this fictional congregation. That's the set-up and the idea is that MacDonald explains and gently cajoles the group to his way of thinking. MacDonald apparently is an exponent of the "change or die" theory of church growth.

I have two problems with this book. One is with the way he handles his fictional scenario. The other is with the substance of his argument.

Simply put, this novel is rigged from the beginning. MacDonald has created his own parishioners and he makes them do his bidding. While the characters in the group all know their Bible (and one is a Wheaton graduate!), none of them is as educated or knowledgeable as the pastor. So there is no one who can take him on intellectually. The one character who refuses to go along is presented as a bad person -- a hot-tempered potential wife beater("he's never actually hit me, but ...") and a phony Christian to boot!

The other problem has to do with the substance of MacDonald's argument. He views all change as good by definition. He also sees all problems as generational -- young v. old. Surely it's much more complicated than that. There's also something pathetic about a 60-something pastor who desperately wants to be hip (and thinks not wearing a necktie is the way to do it!).

He spends a lot of time on the so-called worship wars (really the music wars) and tries to show his group that the traditional hymns that they love were once contemporary and even controversial in their day. But he fails to grasp the larger point which is that the great hymns are still being sung hundreds of years later while the junk quickly passed away. People love Watts & Wesley because they're great, not because they're old.


He gives no indication that he has any objective standards of liturgy. If it's new it's good; if it's traditional it's bad. There are objective standards that any liturgy, whether modern or traditional, can be judged by. He seems to be clueless about this, and gives no indication he knows anything about the work of writers such as Marva Dawn, Thomas Long or Ronald Byars, who deal with these same issues in a much more substantive way.


MacDonald may not intend it, but he veers perilously close to the view that worship is essentially entertainment for non-believers.


4.  Having come from a church wrecked by precisely the kind of change Gordon MacDonald describes in "Who Stole My Church?" what I found most insightful was the author's mindset, and in three ways. There's a fourth way -- how MacDonald unfairly frames the people opposed to change -- that other reviewers have cited. (And it's not just aging Baby Boomers who are concerned about what's happening in churches or who are adverse to forced change -- let's not forget the massive amount of change the Boomers brought to American society in the first place.)

First, the pastor discovers in his weekly meetings that he doesn't really know the people of his congregation, and while he doesn't explicitly make the point, what he learns is that people don't resist change. That's something only consultants, and unfortunately a lot of church consultants, believe and teach to unsuspecting pastors and elder boards.

What people resist is change being forced upon them, with no explanation, no communication, no understanding, and no opportunity to discuss, influence and pray about. "Don't tell the congregation what you're up to" was a church consulting tenet exposed in, all of places, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. It was also a tenet that was steadfastly followed at my own church, with ultimately disastrous consequences.

A second aspect of the author's thinking that bears consideration is church leaders embracing group-think: "We get it; the congregation doesn't." Convinced they're right ("We're the new Willow Creek for our city"), any question or concern is quashed. Group-think by leadership, particularly when it's accompanied by no communication, is what creates the conflict.

The third aspect MacDonald accidentally reveals is the influence corporate restructuring and the vast secular literature about business change has had on the church. Quoting Peter Drucker is only a tiny indication. Citing S-curves is straight out the business consultants' handbooks. No one asks whether the philosophy and practices of business is appropriate for the church, because so many church leaders occupy influential positions in business.

I'm glad I read "Who Stole My Church?" It helps me understand what is often going on the minds of many local church leaders when this kind of change is undertaken.


5.  The first 20 pages hits the nail on the head on what my feelings are about my church. I do not like the new "praise music" with the praise band (7/11 songs~seven words sung over and over eleven times); the plaid shirt & Dockers my minister has now chosen to wear for Sunday worship; the enthusiastic traditional hymns I love are gone (occasionally a traditional song is sung but to a different tempo with guitar accompaniment); the choir sings to canned music while the big organ & grand piano sit silent; no longer do we have a Sunday evening service or a mid-week Bible Study/Prayer Meeting. All these things are clearly stated by the factious group of seniors in the book. Then the pastor gathers this small group of seniors together for a series of meetings to "solve" their concerns & frustrations. He kindly tells them they are "has beens," they will all be gone in about 15 years & it's time for the younger generations to assume responsibility~~get use to how things are~~times have changed. The needs of the older generation are of very little concern; they have been life long church leaders, prayer warriors, they have lived a full life walking with the Lord but now it's time for change at their expense. He gives excuses for the changes & attempts to lay a guilt trip on the hurting seniors for not joyously embracing the new changes. I want to leave church on Sunday feeling like I have contributed to the worship service plus feel like I have been fed/nourished/rejoiced but instead I feel empty/frustrated/hurt. I'm sure I'm not alone, this change is occurring all across America in just about every denomination. I know, "When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be", but in the meantime I'm still here on earth feeling empty when I leave church on Sunday morning.


6.  I sure did misunderstand the title and subtitle of this book. 'Who stole.....' usually means to identify a culprit and an effort is made to regain what was stolen. In this case the title should have been 'How to get the old people on board with the change that is going to take place, no matter what, to keep them and their money in the church and do whatever it takes to make them stop making such a fuss', admittedly long but much more accurate.


This is work of fiction as is clear in the title of the 'Discovery Group'. Discover what? Certainly it is was not the intent of the author to discover how to regain what had been stolen from the group members but to convince them to get on board with the program because their old fashioned ways are no longer relevant or wanted.

Yes, it is fiction and that in itself is no problem. There is a lot of bad fiction written. The problem comes when people, i.e. church leadership, takes this as gospel and uses as a manual, studies it and covertly imposes it on their unsuspecting church family.


7.  MacDonald uses a simple topic to sneak in an emerging (pun intended) school of thought, postliberalism.

Postliberalism sets aside the history and objective understanding of Scripture and relies exclusively upon the text as a means of understnding God and Christian life. Good examples are given in the first couple of "Discovery Group" meetings in which the characters explore the Bible texts for themselves without any history or doctrinal background, or in which doctrine becomes secondary to the text itself. The Biblical narrative story becomes the (sole?) basis upon which the group understands Jesus, change in the church and Christian thought.

Secondly, the way the group interacts with each other, and with the younger church members in one meeting indicates an Emergent-Church philosophy that claims:

'it is dialogue between Christians and the agreement within Christian Community that establishes and reveals truth,' not doctrine.

In the end, the one character who would not conform to the group transformation was labeled a non-believer because he held to a more traditional understanding of worship.

Watch out! This tripe is creeping into the church worldwide ever so gradually. On the surface this sounds reasonable (we believe the Bible narrative word-for-word, and we all agree together), but in the end, this can lead to some really wild stuff (group-think complete with labeling and ostracism for anyone who doesn't agree with their local 'emergent church' and its revived Social-Gospel leanings. Or something just as disturbing: disciples who also embrace Buddism, etc.). There are other passages in the Bible besides narratives, and Emergent Churches avoid them (e.g., escatological passages). Reader beware.


8.  As others have pointed out, this book is totally one-sided and shallow. The only people who will enjoy it are those who agreed with the pastor before they even opened the book. (I nearly called this review "Preaching to the choir", but then I remembered that MacDonald eliminated the choir.)

MacDonald's approach to conflict resolution is terrible, and the book is unrealistic to pretend it works. In the book, after listening to the other side present its case, the pastor ignores it and wins them over solely by presenting his own opinion. That's not the way it works. In real life to change someone's mind it is necessary to refute their argument, not ignore it. It is arrogant and insulting to accuse someone of resisting change without first disproving all their arguments.

As others have written here, the shallowness of this book is amazing. Every objection of substance is simply dismissed, and it becomes clear that head count and dollars are the only thing that the pastor cares about. All change is good, the pastor assumes, and anyone who disagrees is doing so simply for psychological reasons.

The pastor also cares nothing about the worship of God, but sees it as just one possible inclusion in the service. For example, he eliminates the Wednesday prayer service with no regret or explanation of why prayer was cut out. That would be like a medical doctor who stopped writing prescriptions. Also, late in the book, after a dramatic and emotional bible reading the pastor makes a "mental note" to add scripture reading BACK INTO THE SERVICE (after he deleted it)! It's obvious that bible reading doesn't matter any more to him than if he noticed that the crowd liked a special lighting effect; both are just ways to make more money. Likewise in the initial section he notes the Christian practices of the old timers, like memorizing scripture and being "prayer warriors", and yet he couldn't care less that the younger generations weren't doing the same thing! Anyone who keeps showing up on Sunday and throwing money in the collection plate is ok to this pastor.

Another serious mistake was the pastor incorrectly confusing Christ's entire "invisible" Church with the particular church building that the pastor was in. In a very real sense the worshipers DO own the physical building, and have responsibility for it. It isn't necessarily selfish for those paying the bills to insist on worshiping a certain way. Christ's overall Church might not be harmed if those who favored contemporary worship switched to another church. Jesus is the same in every church building.

Finally, the pastor is incorrect in assuming that traditional services are simply the preference of the Baby Boomer generation. Many components of traditional services go back 1000 or 2000 years. So the Church Growth people are rejecting the entire history of the Christian church by coming up with a totally different service. Each prior Christian generation MODIFIED the traditional service; they didn't simply throw it in the garbage can and start over from scratch.


9.  I was shocked where this book took me. I felt it was going to help those who feel their church has really been stolen by the devil.


It is about out with God's faithful saints and in with the new crowd which wants what they want or they won't attend church.
I have not shed one tear for their music. Music is a way to worship and be moved by The Holy Spirit, this new music has no movement except for them to clap and jump around like they do during the week. I thought we were to be in the world but not of the world.

 

I also enjoy country music but do not expect to hear it or sing it at church.


This is tearing churches apart and the devil is loving it.


The Bible say's we will not know when the end is coming and will be confused. I say our churchs are so confused it must be near.
The church still expect the saints to tithe for this type of music and I say if the children want it, let them pay the church bills and see how long the church will last then.


I hope eyes will open to how the devil is moving into our church's and we are sitting by and letting it happen.


I am a preacher's kid and I am ashamed of the ignorance of our churches.  So dance and stand and act as crude as the kid's want you to, but I know God is not happy.

*******************************************

Does any of that sound like what has been going on at

South Norfolk Baptist?

 

"Who Stole My Church?" by Gordon MacDonald is a fictional description of a church in the midst of changes - especially changes in worship. MacDonald depicts the senior members of the church as the problem and the younger members as embracing desired change. He explains to the seniors that church music has always changed and been influenced by contemporary music. He misses the fact that the great hymns have lasted because the lyrics are theologically sound and the music is good. When changes lead to one member leaving he is viewed as angry, hopeless, and never a committed Christian. The entire story is contrived and shallow.


Instead of a sermon well-prepared and Exegetically presented, we again got a few verses, then some personal pastor-stories with some "soft" "Sheep Beating" with his oft-used phrase (that disgraced pastor Mark Driscoll, of the now-bankrupt Mars Hill Church which Slayton endorsed), "throwing folks under the bus" about his "pet peeve" of ministry to minorities; not to mention his "name-calling" in the pulpit, in order to find endorsement for his ministry. 


I say again: I've learned more about Slayton's personal life, than the life of Christ.

Expositional Imposters

-Paul Alexander, Capitol Hill Baptist Church

Rev. Mark Dever rightly describes Expositional Preaching as “preaching that takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture.” However, I have heard many sermons that intend to be expositional, yet fall somewhat short. Below are seven pitfalls that one might try to avoid. Each of these pitfalls either doesn’t correctly make the message of the passage the message of the sermon, or doesn’t make it a message to that congregation at all.


1) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS MISUNDERSTOOD: THE ‘UNFOUNDED SERMON.’

This is where the preacher says things that may or may not be true, but that in no sense came from the passage, when understood correctly. This can happen either by carelessness with the content of the text (e.g. the sermon on “production, prompting, and inspiration” from the NIV of 1 Thessalonians 1:3, though each word has no parallel in the Greek) or carelessness with the context (e.g. the sermon on David and Goliath, that asks ‘who is your Goliath, and what are the five smooth stones that you need to be prepared to use against him?’).

If a preacher is not deeply mining the truth of God’s Word to determine the message of his sermons, they are likely being driven by his own preferences. For “When someone regularly preaches in a way that is not expositional, the sermons tend to be only on the topics that interest the preacher” (Nine Marks, 41). Thus the congregation doesn’t receive all that God intended. The lesson? Preachers must give themselves to thoroughly understanding the text before setting out to write their sermons. A cursory reading is not enough. Preachers must allow God to determine the sheep’s diet so as to prevent an insufficient feeding.


2) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS IGNORED: THE ‘SPRINGBOARD SERMON.’

Closely related is the sermon where the preacher has understood the center of the text, pays lip service to it, and then becomes intrigued by something that is a secondary or tertiary point, fixing his attention on that for the remainder of the sermon. What he says does come from the text, but is not the main point of the text (e.g. the sermon on John 3 that focuses primarily on the lawfulness of Christians drinking alcohol).


3) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE REMAINS UNAPPLIED: THE ‘EXEGETICAL SERMON.’

Some preaching that claims to be expositional is rejected as boring and irrelevant…and rightly so! One could just as well be reading from an exegetical commentary. Everything that is said is true to the passage, but is not really a sermon; it is merely a technical lecture on the passage. Much might be learned about Paul’s use of the Genitive Absolute, but little about the character of God or the nature of the human heart. There is no application to anything but the congregation’s minds. True expository preaching will surely first inform the mind, but also warm the heart and constrain the will.


4) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS APPLIED TO A DIFFERENT CONGREGATION: THE ‘IRRELEVANT SERMON.’

Too much preaching promotes pride in the congregation by throwing bricks over the wall towards other people’s greenhouses.Either the point of the passage is applied only to non-believers, suggesting that the Word has nothing to say to the church, or it is applied to problems that are rarely seen in the congregation that is being preached to. Thus the congregation becomes puffed up, and like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable ends up thankful that they are not like others. The response is not repentance and faith but, “If only Mrs Brown heard this sermon!” or “Umpteenth Baptist Smorgsville, Pennsylvania really ought to have this sermon preached to them!”


5) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE MISAPPLIED TO THE PRESENT CONGREGATION; THE ‘MISFIT SERMON.’

Sometimes the hermeneutical gap between the original passage and the present congregation may be misunderstood, so that the application to the original context is wrongly directly transferred to the present context. So, if the preacher does not have a correct biblical theology of worship, passages about the Old Testament temple might be wrongly applied to the New Testament church building, rather than being fulfilled in Christ and his people.


6) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS DIVORCED FROM ITS GENERIC IMPACT: THE ‘DOCTRINAL SERMON.’

God has deliberately spoken to us ‘in many and diverse ways.’ Too many sermons ignore the genre of a passage, and preach narrative, poetry, epistle, and apocalyptic all alike as a series of propositional statements. Whilst all preaching must convey propositional truths, they should not be reduced to them. The literary context of the passages should mean that a sermon from the Song of Songs sounds different than one from Ephesians 5. The passage may have the same central point, but it is conveyed in a different way. Such diversity is not to be flattened in preaching.


7) THE POINT OF THE PASSAGE IS PREACHED WITHOUT REFERENCE TO THE PASSAGE: THE ‘SHORTCUT SERMON.’

Another sermon might have wonderfully appropriate application to mind, heart and will, yet the congregation will leave unaware of how it is appropriately applied from the text. The opposite of the exegetical sermon, this kind of preaching shows no exegetical ‘working’ at all. Though the Lord has set the agenda by his Word, only the preacher is fully aware of that fact. The congregation may well end up saying, ‘what a wonderful sermon’ rather than ‘what a wonderful passage of Scripture.’


Expository preaching is so important for the health of the church because it allows the whole counsel of God to be applied to the whole church of God. May the Lord so equip preachers of His Word that His voice may be heard and obeyed.

HERESY
Heresy enters a church congregation when there is no discernment; and people refuse to judge false teaching.
"Heresy and Heretics"  -Dr. R.C. Sproul

Heresy and false teaching must be confronted, especially that which is being taught in the pulpit.  The people of God need to stand up to any pastor who does not preach the true Gospel of Jesus and the Bible. 


It's time for the people who claim to know and believe the Bible, read the Bible, and attend church, to confront David Slayton about his teaching of false doctrine(s).

 

Justin Peters, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (Th.D.) gives Biblical answers to those in the church, who are not open to discernment, and want to criticize those who are discerning:

From a sermon "The Preacher in his Pulpit," delivered on
May 21, 1957,
by Rev. Frank Hughes, Jr.
 
The Sermon, was based on Jonah, chapter 3.
He tells, in the above illustration, of a professor who told a group of young preachers: "Remember that you need to give to the lost person God's Word, not yours.  He has promised to bless His Word, not yours, and it is His Word, not yours that will not return void." 

For the life of me, I cannot understand why a pastor, who says publicly, that he is trying to win the lost to Christ, especially young people (with all the youth recreation programs he's sponsoring); yet would teach heresy in the church. 

And not just a little heresy, but continues to teach multiple types of heresy!

The Heresy Train has no Brakes:
once Heresy is allowed into a church, and is not confronted by a discerning congregation or leadership, that church is destined to lose it's witness to the community, and eventually die.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1, KJV) (Above photo courtesy of "Museum of Idolatry")

"The Circle Maker"
(Is an example of Heretical teaching, endorsed from the pulpit by the pastor,
David Slayton)

On the occasion of the 120th Anniversary of the church, Pastor David Slayton, in his sermon, again endorsed "The Circle Maker" book, which had been previously used at South Norfolk under his guidance, as early as January 2012.  We understand that he reads this website, so why did he "double down" and endorse it again, on

January 4, 2015?

    

       

I didn't know what "The Circle Maker: Praying Circles around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears," nor the author Mark Batterson was about, until I heard that South Norfolk Baptist was using it earlier this year; then, 14 minutes into his sermon, Pastor Slayton endorsed this heretical concept of prayer, in the pulpit, on the occasion of the 120th Anniversary of the church.  It is now known that some of the pastors in the Bridge Network of Churches (formerly called the Norfolk Baptist Association) got together to study this heretical book. This is not a commentary on Rev. Slayton as a person.

    

         Mark Batterson, the "lead pastor" (a CEO/business term) of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., made his debut in Christian publishing with "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" and followed that up with several other titles, including "The Circle Maker." He is part of the "Emergent" Church and "Word of Faith" movements.

 

         "The Circle Maker" finds its title and inspiration in Honi Ha-Ma'agel, a Jewish scholar who lived in the first century B.C. and who is described in the Talmud. The book's examples and illustrations are largely drawn from his own life, from the dreams, goals and desires that he has seen fulfilled. He speaks of drawing a large circle around an area of Washington by walking around it while praying; before long he had a successful and growing church within that circle.

 

         Batterson writes about circling a building he wanted for his church, (much like David Slayton claimed he did, walking around the church at South Norfolk Baptist, before he "applied" for the position as Pastor) marching around it, laying hands on it, even going barefoot on its 'holy ground,' until it was his.

 

         But, God is not a "Let's-Make-A-Deal" God; He doesn't work that way.  I am not a legalist, but the book is not only silly, it's not based on Scripture.  It's absurd, and an insult to people who have heard, read, or studied Scripture.

 

         Mark Batterson teaches "a new way" of praying, and he presents a "new gospel."  It's a Gospel Jesus did not preach.  It's a Gospel the Apostles did not preach.  It's a Gospel the Old Testament Prophets did not preach.

"Pastor David" endorses the Heretical False Teaching in
"The Circle Maker"
from the Pulpit of South Norfolk Baptist:

Dr. Randy White, a Southern Baptist pastor, gives an excellent review of "The Circle Maker" and tells why it is pure heresy:
Exposing "The Circle Maker"
with Principles of Spiritual Discernment
by Dr. Randy White
The following video concerning "The Circle Maker" book is instructive:
False Teaching in the book "The Circle Maker":

Dr. Charles Stanley tells why the "Name it, Claim it" is a false "Prosperity Gospel" theology, and has no place in the church.  This is the basic concept of "The Circle Maker" book.

 

Dr. Stanley responds to this popular view that a believer can name a need or desire, and expect God to deliver it, in the following video.

(Courtesy of In Touch Ministries, 2011)

Is the practice of drawing a circle in chalk around specific prayers something we as Christians are supposed to be doing? Ever since Mark Batterson’s popular Circle Maker book began sweeping Christendom, we’ve been warning people against pursuing this non-Christian practice, because it is rooted in the occult, and Jesus very specifically showed us what prayer looks like.

(Picture: Mark Batterson drawing a "prayer circle.")
Debunking Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker,
A Non-Biblical Teaching (Courtesy of "Fighting for the Faith" with Rev. Chris Rosebrough):

Author of "The Circle Maker" has changed the scripture:


"The Circle Maker"
in-depth review:
"The Circle Maker" book: a form of
"The Prosperity Gospel" Heresy
David Slayton, announced plans to teach more heresy,
this time, that of Dallas Willard,

in January 2016,
at South Norfolk Baptist Church, as announced on the official church website:

An example of the false teaching of

Dallas Willard (another former Southern Baptist, who left the denomination)...in his own words:

“Anyone that deserves to be saved will be saved and you don't need to know Jesus to be saved.” 

(This is what is known as the heresy of "Universalism")


Todd Friel explains:

Rev. Ken Silva, who also graduated, as I did, from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC, gives some insight into the heresy of Dallas Willard:
DALLAS WILLARD:  A "UNIVERSALIST" Heretic:
"Was Dallas Willard a Christian?"
Rev. Chris Rosebrough explains the theological problems of Dallas Willard


Dr. Willard (1935-2013) studied at William Jewell College, Tennessee Temple College, and Baylor University before earning a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin.  He did not graduate from any SBC Seminary.

(Willard appeared on the platform of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, being interviewed in front of the congregation by John Ortberg).

Any Born-again Christian in a church, can discern the heresy in Dallas Willard's theology:

The Dangers of "Spiritual Formation" and "Spiritual Disciplines"

A Critique of Dallas Willard and The Spirit of the Disciplines

by Bob DeWaay

DISCIPLINES TO DECEPTION IN THE

SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Jul 14, 2009

“Hearing God, (by Dallas Willard) Developing a Conversational Relationship With God”
by Rev. Gary Gilley



The danger of Willard’s imaginative teachings on hearing from God through an inner voice can hardly be exaggerated. Rather than turning people to the inspired authoritative Scriptures for God’s word today, Willard turns us toward the subjective, unreliable self. The result is a people who believe they have heard from God even as they turn from the Word of God itself.

"Dallas Willard: Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond"
by Rev. David Cloud

A Review of Dallas Willard's book, "Hearing God"
The Connection between Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and Rick Warren:
The Dallas Willard book was not the first time Pastor Slayton introduced a book with heretical doctrine.  Consider.........
In January 2014, Pastor Slayton began a study of the book "Finding Spiritual Direction: The Challenge and Joys of Christian Growth" by Douglas Webster, a Presbyterian who received his Ph.D. at the Catholic University of St. Michael's, Toronto, Canada. He currently works as an associate pastor in Central Presbyterian Church, N.Y.C. and lectures at many non-denominational and Episcopal churches.

 

          It was unfortunate that Rev. Slayton did not turn to a Southern Baptist study course, such as the January Bible Study for 2014 (Book of Colossians). It is apparent that he continues to push the "seeker sensitive" heretical methodology, now teaching a book written by a man who has written books on the heretical "Spiritual Directors/directions," "Formation in Ministry," and "Church Growth" concepts, using pop psychology, intertwined with Calvinism.

 

(NOTE: we understand that some SNBC leaders regularly read this website: as soon as this new information about the heretical Bible study was published here, they changed the title of the "Wednesday Night Bible Study" in the bulletin, and on the church website, to be simply a "Wednesday Night” or, as sometimes was listed, “Winter Bible Study of The Book of James," conveniently omitting the fact that they were still teaching this heretical book, "Finding Spiritual Direction" which uses the book of James on a faux basis).

 

          In "Finding Spiritual Direction," Webster used a study of the book of James to provide a basis for the essential practices of anyone wanting to provide spiritual direction to others; he sees "spiritual directors" as "physicians of the soul" (page 14); as "parents" (page 16); and as "farmers who love the land and understand their work" (page 171).

 

          Webster wants to avoid a subjective view of the will of God and seems to demean others' means in which God communicates to us today, when he states, "We depend too heavily on personal impressions, inner urges and fuzzy feelings to justify dubious actions as God's will. There is an inherent conflict of interest in looking to our own feelings for direction when we should be following the straightforward counsel of God's will." (page 129).

 

          Webster’s aim in "Finding Spiritual Direction" is to encourage church members to identify problems that are not in line with God’s will. (He doesn't say why church members should become so involved in other members' lives, to the extent that the "spiritual directors" he advocates the members become), assist other church members to discern evil motives and selfish pursuits within their lives and the church body; that members should challenge those who are angry, and yet themselves are righteously angry when God’s word is being violated. He bases this on this on James 5:1-6, which is taken out of context.  This is not scripturally correct.

 

          Webster seeks to use an unbiblical model of what a "Spiritual Director" does, through limiting his statements to the teachings of the book of James. Therefore, as one would expect, there are Scripture quotations and citations throughout the book. But he limits his reference of past spiritual leaders of church history to Bonhoeffer.  (It would later be revealed that the pastor highly endorsed Detrich Bonhoeffer, in a Sunday sermon).

 

          Training members of the church to be "Spiritual Directors" is not based on scripture. This is Heresy!  I was first introduced to the "Spiritual Directors" false theology when an Episcopal Army Chaplain unsuccessfully attempted to coerce other chaplain clergy into using this methodology.

 

Background information about the author, Douglas Webster, is instructive:

 

          When he was pastor of a Presbyterian church in San Diego, California, he wrote a review, which was published in the book, "Evaluating the Church Growth Movement." He enthusiastically supported Dr. Donald McGavran, who was a key player in starting the "seeker sensitive/purpose driven/church growth" movement. Webster praised "contextualization" and McGavran's book, "The Bridges of God," a heretical work that laid the foundation for the "Church Growth," movement which was incorporated into the "Purpose Driven" heresy.

 

          He went on to praise the "Market-Driven Church," as the only way to grow a church. Although this is the place I would state that Pastors should always investigate the author of any book they intend to teach in their church.

 

          Church members should discern and examine carefully any new teaching or worship style that is not in keeping with the Scriptures. I like what Billy Sunday said: "Jesus did not call us to multiply “members” but to make disciples.  Churches don't need new members half so much as they need the old bunch made over."

    

          Donald McGavran----Founding professor of Fuller's School of Missions whose influence has reshaped globally the  "mission" of the "church".  McGavran taught that the job of the church is not to save individuals or disciple them. (In fact, to save one person out of the "context" of his sociological 'unit' is a setback to global evangelization according to him: dubbing the traditional evangelism of one soul "extraction evangelism."  (Please read the statement in red print again.  Do you understand what this is saying?) 

 

          His personal philosophy is that when Jesus said to make 'disciples of the nations', He meant literally, the NATIONS, i.e., governments were to be discipled.  This is what is called "reconstruction theology." He developed a methodology of "people movements" that is taught in the 'Perspectives' program globally. He developed the idea that cultures were to be "redeemed" ....the gospel was to be "contextualized" for each culture and adapted by the use of "redemptive analogies" to be acceptable in each culture...syncretism to the utmost, this perverted the gospel into a 'culturally relevant' message that anyone could adapt to...anyone that is except a truly born again believer.

    

          The paganism, so blatant in this movement, is a direct result of this teaching.  They boast in how they can incorporate pagan practices into Christianity.

          

(McGavran's book "The Bridges of God" originally titled, "How Peoples Become Christian" was published in the early 50's, and laid the groundwork of his heretical philosophy).

In October 2016, two more books are being "imported" into the church, by David Slayton, whose authors have questionable backgrounds and heretical theology:
WHO IS
LEWIS BENEDICTUS SMEDES ?


He is a now-deceased former professor of ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary.  But, you may ask, isn't this the same seminary founded by the late Dr. Charles E. Fuller who preached the Bible on the "Old Fashioned Revival Hour?" Yes it is, but wait....there's more.
Back in 1976, when I was pondering the Lord's direction on which Seminary to attend, the Fuller Seminary was discussed within the family.  But my father discovered what you will see now, that Fuller had changed.

David Cloud researched the following excellent article about Fuller Seminary, past and present.

Fuller Theological Seminary’s quick slide into apostasy is a loud warning to Fundamentalists today. When Fuller Seminary was formed in the late 1940s, it was a fundamentalist institution. Founder Charles E. Fuller of the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour” was a Fundamentalist, and he wanted to establish a school to defend the New Testament faith.


Harold Lindsell, who was one of the school’s first four faculty members, said: “From the beginning it was declared that one of the chief purposes of the founding of the seminary was that it should be an apologetic institution. … It was agreed from the inception of the school that through the seminary curriculum the faculty would provide the finest theological defense of biblical infallibility or inerrancy.”


As we have seen, this objective was quickly abandoned. By neglecting biblical separation and focusing on scholarship rather than simple faith in God’s Word, the school became a hodge-podge of spiritual and doctrinal compromise and apostasy instead of a bastion of biblical truth.


This is precisely what will happen to every fundamentalist church and school that refuses to practice separation today.


Fuller Theological Seminary wields vast influence. When it was formed in 1947 it held that the Bible is infallibly, inerrantly, verbally, plenarily inspired, but within a short time this was rejected. Fuller quickly became a hotbed of New Evangelical compromise, adopting a philosophy of doctrinal neutrality, positivism, pride of intellect.


Its first president, Harold John Ockenga, claimed to have coined the term “New Evangelicalism” in 1948 at a convocation in connection with the seminary. Ockenga stated that New Evangelicalism “differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism.” Friends, if you repudiate “separatism,” you repudiate the Scriptures!


Current Fuller president Richard Mouw says: “Early on, the school backed away from the separatism and dispensationalism that had been associated with fundamentalism of the 1940s, adopting a more conciliatory posture” (Christianity Today, October 6, 1997).


Having rejected biblical separation from its inception and having adopted the unscriptural philosophy of dialogue and infiltration, it is no surprise that Fuller Seminary was quickly infected with worldliness and unbelief.


By 1976, Harold Lindsell, who served as a professor and vice-president of Fuller, raised his voice against Fuller’s apostasy. In his book The Battle for the Bible, Lindsell devoted an entire chapter to “The Strange Case of Fuller Theological Seminary.” Nowhere in his book does Lindsell discern the root of Fuller’s error, which was the rejection of biblical separation, nor does he call upon evangelicals to separate from Fuller’s apostasy; but he does document the end product of Fuller’s error. He stated:

“In or about 1962 it became apparent that there were some who no longer believed in the inerrancy of the Bible, among both the faculty and the board members” (Lindsell, Battle for the Bible, p. 108).


Lindsell names the names of many of these faculty and board members: C. Davis Weyerhaeuswer, Daniel P. Fuller (son of the school’s founder), Calvin Schoonhoven, David Hubbard (who became president of the school), James Daane, and George Ladd.

In the early 1970s, Fuller Seminary changed its doctrinal statement to more accurately reflect the position held by members of its faculty. The original statement the Bible is “plenarily inspired and free from all error in the whole and in the part... (and is) the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” The new statement dropped the words “free from all error in the whole and in the part.” This leaves room for heretics who believe the Bible errs in matters such as “science” and history. Many liberal evangelicals have tried to make a distinction between the Bible being infallible and being inerrant, claiming that it is infallible but not inerrant. This is scholarly nonsense.

If the Bible is infallible, it is inerrant, and that is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles taught. Jesus said “the Scripture cannot be broken” (see John 10:35).


The change was encouraged when Daniel Fuller (son of founder Charles E. Fuller) returned from Europe where he had studied under neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth. He had accepted the neo-orthodox view that the Bible is only inspired in matters pertaining to spirituality but not in matters of science and history.


Since then, Fuller Seminary has gone from bad to worse in this matter. It is doubtful that there are any professors at the school today who believe the Bible is the inerrant, verbally-inspired Word of God without error “in the whole and in the part.” Fuller Seminary is infatuated with scholarship and has drunken deeply from the wells of modernism.


Now, let us look at the key players in the downslide of Fuller Seminary:


PAUL KING JEWETT

Paul Jewett was Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Seminary. In 1975 he published Man as Male and Female. The foreword was written by Virginia Mollenkott, chairman of the Department of English at William Paterson College in New Jersey. Mollenkott is a lesbian who moves in the most radical of pro-abortion feminist circles. In 1978 she co-authored (with Letha Scanzoni) the book entitled Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? in which she called for nondiscrimination toward homosexuality. Her book argues that the Sodom account in Genesis does not teach the evil of homosexuality, but the evils of violent gang rape and inhospitality to strangers. The book also claims that “the idea of a life long homosexual orientation or ‘condition” is never mentioned in the Bible” (p. 71), and that Romans 1 does not “fit the case of a sincere homosexual Christian” (p. 62).


In the June 1991, issue of the Episcopal monthly entitled The Witness, Mollenkott testified, “My lesbianism has always been a part of me. ... I tried to be heterosexual. I married myself off. But what I did ultimately realize was that God created me as I was, and that this is where life was meaningful.” In her 1994 book, The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female, Mollenkott calls God the “One Mother of us all” (p. 19) and suggests that the Lord’s prayer might be addressed to “Our Father/Mother who is in Heaven” (p. 116).


In the book Man as Male and Female, Fuller professor Paul Jewett admits that he has been influenced by modern biblical criticism and claims that the Bible contains error because it was written by men:

“Historical and critical studies of the biblical documents have compelled the church to abandon this simplistic view of the divinity of Scripture [the traditional doctrine that the Bible is the Word of God without error] and to take into account the complexity at the human level of the historical process by which the documents were produced. Instead of the simple statement, which is essentially true, that the Bible is a divine book, we now perceive more clearly than in the past that the Bible is a divine/human book. As divine, it emits the light of revelation; as human, this light of revelation shines in and through the ‘dark glass’ (1 Corinthians 13:12) of the ‘earthen vessels’ (2 Corinthians 4:7) who were the authors of its content at the human level” (Jewett, Man as Male and Female, p. 135). Jewett is wrong. The Lord Jesus Christ knew more about the Scripture than modern textual critics, and He never hinted that there is any error in it. He plainly stated that “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) and that the very jots and tittles are authoritative and preserved by God (Matthew 5:18). When the Apostle Paul stated that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16), he obviously understood that there is a human element in Scripture, but he knew that God controlled the writers of Scripture in such a manner that the product is the inerrant Word of God. Any doctrine of the Scripture that disagrees with that taught by Christ and the Apostles is heresy.


CHARLES SCALISE

Another example of how Fuller professors have capitulated to modernistic views of the Bible is Charles Scalise. He is associate professor of church history and academic director of Fuller Theological Seminary in Seattle’s M. Div. program. In his book From Scripture to Theology: A Canonical Journey into Hermeneutics (InterVarsity Press, 1996), Scalise argues for accepting the conclusions of biblical criticism while at the same time accepting the Bible as the “canonical Word of God.” He proposes the “canonical approach” of Yale Professor Brevard Childs who follows Karl Barth. Scalise uncritically describes how “the ‘postcritical’ hermeneutics of Karl Barth assists Childs in charting his way across ‘the desert of criticism’” (p. 44). It is true that modern biblical criticism is a desert, but instead of rejecting biblical criticism as the unbelieving heresy that it is, the modern Evangelical scholar tries to reconcile it with a way to allow the Bible to remain authoritative in some sense. In the first chapter of his book, Scalise plainly and unhesitatingly rejects the “facts-of-revelation” approach to Scripture that accepts the Bible as the historically accurate record of God’s infallible revelation (pp. 28-31).


Scalise does not believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch under divine inspiration or that the Old Testament record of miracles is accurate. He believes the Pentateuch was written by unknown editors centuries later (p. 56).


He believes the Bible’s accounts of miraculous events are exaggerated. For example, he believes that the Egyptian chariots pursuing Israel got “stuck in the mud” (p. 39) rather than being overwhelmed by God’s miraculous dividing and undividing of the waters. He agrees with Karl Barth that the book of Numbers contains both “history” and “storylike saga” (p. 49). He believes portions of Amos were added by an unknown editor (p. 56). He believes that to view the Bible as historical is dangerous (p. 79). He does not believe the Psalms are historical writings (p. 78). He does not believe that the Apostle Paul wrote the book of Ephesians nor that it was originally addressed to the church at Ephesus, and he doesn’t believe it matters (p. 58). Scalise wants to allow the Catholic apocryphal books to be accepted as canonical (pp. 60, 61).


He commends an approach to biblical canon which has “A FIRM CENTER AND BLURRED EDGES” (p. 60). Scalise says, “The Bible is the Word of God because God speaks through it” (p. 22). That is a false, subjective Barthian view of Scripture. In fact, the Bible is the Word of God because it is the Word of God, regardless of whether man feels that God is speaking through it. Scalise does not like the “negative view of tradition” that comes from the Protestant Reformation, and he believes the Protestants and Catholics simply misunderstood one another (p. 73). He believes it is possible to reconcile the differences by requiring that the Bible be interpreted within the context of church tradition (p. 74). In fact, if the Bible must be interpreted by tradition, the tradition becomes the superior authority. In the preface to his book, Scalise notes that he was guided into his critical views of the Bible during studies at Southern Baptist Theological and at Tubingen in Germany.


Fuller began to approach Roman Catholic seminaries in the 1970s in search of students. One of the first Roman Catholic students to attend Fuller was Paul Ford, who went on to become a professor of theology and liturgy at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. In Fuller Seminary’s alumni paper Theology, News and Notes for March 1993, Ford describes his experience at Fuller and described how pro-Catholic it was. He said Fuller professors David Hubbard and Jack Rogers visited his Catholic monastery and that Fuller professor Paul Jewett was a speaker there during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. A 2002 edition of Fuller Seminary paper Focus featured an interview with a Catholic nun about her experience as a student at Fuller. She said, “I think Fuller is a great place for a Catholic woman to study who wants to be taken seriously as a woman in ministry.”


Since the 1970s, Fuller Seminary has been heavily influenced by and associated with Pentecostals and Charismatics. Russell Spittler of the Assemblies of God has been a faculty member since 1976. In 1996 he was elected the provost and vice president for academics. He is an ecumenist who is frequently involved in dialogues. In the early 1980s, Fuller invited John Wimber to teach a course entitled “MC510, Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth.” He encouraged the students to seek after signs and miracles and taught that every believer should lay hands on others and heal them. John Wimber opened the floodgates to many errors by downplaying the importance of biblical discernment. He warned against being “too rigid” and “too heavily oriented to the written Word” (Counterfeit Revival, p. 109). One would say something like that only if he were attempting to promote things which were not in accordance with the Word of God. The Psalmist said the written Word “is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path(Psalms 119:105). It is impossible to be too strongly oriented toward the Bible! In his healing seminar, Wimber made the following statement, “It’s evil when you hide behind doctrinal beliefs that curtail and control the work of the Spirit. … The Church today is committing evil in the name of sound doctrine. And they are quenching the work of the Holy Spirit” (Wimber, Healing Seminar Series, cited from Testing the Fruit of the Vineyard by John Goodwin). Wimber had a large influence through his books, conferences and through the Vineyard Fellowship of Churches that he led until his death in 1997.


Another Fuller professor, C. Peter Wagner, supported Wimber in his false doctrine and has gone on to become one of the most influential voices in the spiritual warfare movement. I heard both Wagner and Wimber speak in 1990 at the North American Congress on the Holy Spirit and World Evangelization in Indianapolis. They were perfectly at home with the 10,000 or so Roman Catholics who were in attendance. The closing message of the conference was delivered by Catholic priest Tom Forrest, who said in one his messages that he praises God for purgatory because he knows that it is the only way he can get to heaven.


Wagner’s 1998 book New Apostolic Reformation promotes charismatic heresies such as tongues (actually gibberish), prophecy, spirit slaying, spiritual mapping, territorial demons, and binding the devil. Wagner wrote the preface to one of Robert Schuller’s books saying, “I am personally indebted to Robert Schuller for much of what I know and teach.” Schuller has redefined the gospel in accordance with his self-esteem theology. He said that defining sin as rebellion against God is “shallow and insulting to the human being” (Schuller, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, p. 65). According to Schuller, born again means that we must be “changed from a negative to a positive self-image” (p. 68), sin is “any act or thought that rob myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (p. 14), hell “is the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God (p. 14), and Christ “was self-esteem incarnate” (p. 135).


During the 1984-85 school year, Raymond Brown was a lecturer at Fuller Seminary. Brown was a liberal Roman Catholic who denied the deity of Jesus Christ and was active in the World Council of Churches.


And now, we come to see a discussion of the author of the book David Slayton is going to teach, Lewis Smedes:


In 1984 Fuller professor Lewis Smedes published a book entitled Sex for Christians. He claims that “thousands of homosexual people live highly moral and often deeply religious existences” and that the homosexual “should simply refuse to accept a burden of guilt for his condition” because he is “a victim either of biological accident or someone’s else’s folly” (Sex for Christians, pp. 65-71).


Smedes sees nothing wrong with homosexuals living together in a "covenant marrage."


In November 1986, Fuller Seminary opened the David du Plessis Center for Christian Spirituality. Du Plessis, who died in 1987, was a key figure in breaking down the walls of separation between Pentecostals and theological modernists and Roman Catholics. He was the only Pentecostal invited to attend the Catholic Vatican II Council in the 1960s, and he claimed that God melted his resistance to the mass, prayers to Mary, and other Catholic dogmas. In fact, he was deluded and was following Pentecostal “visions and voices” more than the Scriptures. Du Plessis was the only non-Roman Catholic ever to receive the Benemerenti Award, the highest honor that a pope can bestow.


Fuller Seminary has held ecumenical talks with the Roman Catholic Church since 1987. In 2001 the committee in charge of the talks got two congregations to join in the dialogue by sharing in a common worship service (Calvary Contender, Aug. 1, 2001).


Fuller Seminary has long promoted women pastors. Fuller Seminary president David Hubbard joined 200 prominent evangelical leaders in signing a 1990 declaration affirming the equality of men and women. The statement appeared in Christianity Today, April 9, 1990. It said that “in the church, public recognition is given to both women and men who exercise ministries of service and leadership.” An article in The Independent, Huntington Beach, California, for Nov. 20, 2003, contained the testimony of Jude Secor, who grew up believing that a woman should not be a pastor. After she attended Fuller “she was surprised to find that she was the only one at the seminary who still held a prejudice against women pastors.” Thus she became the co-pastor of Goldenwest Vineyard Christian Fellowship and when her husband died, she continued as the senior pastor.


Siang-Yang Tan, director of the Doctor of Psychology program at Fuller Seminary, was one of the attendees of the national conference on Personal Spiritual Renewal in October 1991. It was hosted by Renovare, an organization founded by Richard Foster. Speaking in the evening sessions, Foster praised Pope John Paul II as a “powerful asset of the Catholic movement” and called for unity in the “body of Christ” through the “five streams of Christianity: the contemplative, holiness, charismatic, social justice and evangelical.” He promoted occultic meditative techniques such as guided imagery and visualization. Another speaker was Renovare Steering Committee member Sister Bernard, a Catholic nun who is involved in the Buddhist-Roman Catholic dialogue. Fuller professor Tan “stressed the need to integrate psychology with spirituality” and “advocated inner healing, healing of the memories, and other occultic visualization techniques” (Christian Information Bureau Bulletin December 1991).


In October 1993, Donald Hanger was installed at Fuller as the “George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament.” In his installation address he said, “It is hard to imagine anything more debilitating to the work of the Biblical scholar than the a-priori insistence on inerrancy,” and he expressed his thanks that the seminary discarded that “unreasonable, unnecessary and misleading” doctrine (Theology, News and Notes, June 1998). He also said, “One does not have to affirm inerrancy to be or to remain evangelical.”


In December 1995, Fuller Seminary hosted a meeting of the World Council of Churches, one of the most theologically liberal organizations in the world. Fuller professor Arthur Glasser has for decades been at the forefront of trying to unite evangelicals with the World Council. He was a voting delegate at the WCC meeting in Bangkok in 1973. The November 1993 World Council-sponsored Re-imagining conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, featured speakers such as Delores Williams who said: “I don’t think we need a theory of atonement at all. ... I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff ... we just need to listen to the God within.” And Virginia Mollenkott, who said, “I can no longer worship in a theological context that depicts God as an abusive parent [referring to Christ’s death on the cross] and Jesus as the obedient, trusting child.” And Chung Hyun Kyung, who said, “My bowel is Buddhist bowel, my heart is Buddhist heart, my right brain is Confucian brain, and my left brain is Christian brain. ... If you feel very tired and you don’t have any energy to give, what you do is ... go to a big tree and ask it, ‘give you some of your life energy.’” The WCC-sponsored conference featured a standing ovation for a group of some 100 “lesbian, bi-sexual, and transsexual women” who gathered on the platform. On Sunday morning the conferees joined together in repeating a prayer to Sophia: “Our maker Sophia, we are women in your image. ... Our guide, Sophia, we are women in your image.”


The Seventh Assembly of the World Council, which met in February 1990, in Canberra, Australia, opened with pagan Aborigines in loincloths and feathers, their bodies painted, dancing around a pagan altar to the beat of drums. One of the speakers was the aforementioned Chung Hyun Kyung, who summoned the spirits of the dead and “the spirit of Earth, Air, and Water.” Chung said, “I also know that I no longer believe in an omnipotent, Macho, warrior God who rescues all good guys and punishes all bad guys.”


In 1991, Wesley Ariarajah, who was the director of the WCC’s Inter-Faith dialogue, said that all religious faiths are one with God. “Therefore it is inconceivable to me that a Hindu or a Buddhist, or anybody, is outside God. My understanding of God’s love is too broad for me to believe that only this narrow segment called the Christian church will be saved. If you are a Christian you must be open and broad, not narrow and exclusive” (Ariarajah, quoted in The Australian, Feb. 11, 1991). This is the type of thing that Fuller Seminary has yoked up with in its fellowship with the World Council of Churches.


In January 1997, Fuller Seminary hosted a two-day seminar that explored “the theology of pluralism. The seminar featured Donald Theimann, dean of the radically liberal Harvard Divinity School, and Rabbi A. James Rudin, Both agreed that “no religion has a monopoly on God’s truth” (Foundation magazine, Jan.-Feb. 1997).


The following is a firsthand report by a pastor who visited Fuller Seminary in 1999: “My wife and I visited Fuller Theological Seminary on July 27, 1999. … We attended a class taught by Dr. John Goldingay of the School of Theology. Dr. Goldingay had very good rapport with the class and is one of the most popular professors on the campus. He told the class that there is no archeological evidence that the city of Jericho existed or that the walls came tumbling down. Referring to the Biblical account he said, ‘Perhaps this is a parable.’ This is evidence that unbelief and denial of the Scriptures is alive and well on the Fuller campus today. Hebrew 11:30 states, ‘By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.’ The Bible is correct and Dr. John Goldingay is in error” (Dr. Arthur B. Houk, Hayden, Colorado, houk@springsips.com).


In January 2001 an ecumenical venture named The Foundation for a Conference on Faith and Order in North America was established at Princeton Theological Seminary. Executive board members include Catholic archbishop William Keeler, Greek Orthodox archbishop Dimitrios, and Fuller Seminary president Richard Mouw. The Foundation is committed to expanding its borders and enlisting “new partners in the ecumenical venture.”


In 2001, the liberal Presbyterian Church USA elected former Fuller professor Jack Rogers as moderator. At the same meeting, the PCUSA voted to lift its ban on ordaining homosexual clergy. Harold Ockenga said the New Evangelical is committed to infiltrating liberal denominations rather than separating from them. We can see the good fruit of this! Rogers rejects the historicity of Genesis 1-3.


In January 2003, 50 church leaders from 30 denominations gathered at Fuller Seminary to launch a new ecumenical alliance called Christian Churches Together in the USA. “The new alliance will be the broadest ecumenical coalition ever formed in the history of the United States, representing Episcopalian (Anglican), Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches” (Foundation, March-April 2003). Roman Catholic Bishop Tod Brown, who participated in the meeting, said, “I don’t think there has ever been anything like this attempted before in this country.”


A WARNING TO FUNDAMENTALISTS

Fuller Theological Seminary’s quick slide into apostasy is a loud warning to Fundamentalists today. When Fuller Seminary was formed in the late 1940s, it was a fundamentalist institution. Founder Charles E. Fuller of the “Old Fashioned Revival Hour” was a Fundamentalist, and he wanted to establish a school to defend the New Testament faith. Harold Lindsell, who was one of the school’s first four faculty members, said: “From the beginning it was declared that one of the chief purposes of the founding of the seminary was that it should be an apologetic institution. … It was agreed from the inception of the school that through the seminary curriculum the faculty would provide the finest theological defense of biblical infallibility or inerrancy.”


As we have seen, this objective was quickly abandoned. By neglecting biblical separation and focusing on scholarship rather than simple faith in God’s Word, the school became a hodge-podge of spiritual and doctrinal compromise and apostasy instead of a bastion of biblical truth.

This is precisely what will happen to every fundamentalist church and school that refuses to practice separation today.


Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9).

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Lewis Smedes made this statement:
that the church ought to embrace "homosexual people who live faithfully in covenanted partnerships."


Dear friends, let me say, that an author who approves of homosexual marriage, should not have his books studied in a Southern Baptist Church nor taught by a Southern Baptist pastor. Period!


That statement (above) was one that Lewis Smedes addressed particularly to the Christian Reformed Church (CRC).

Writing in the May, 1999 issue of "Perspectives," Smedes urges the acceptance of practicing homosexuals in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) denomination. He exhorts his own CRC denomination to "embrace," that is, accept as members of the church in good and regular standing, "Christian homosexual people who have committed themselves to a monogamous partnership" (all quotations in this editorial are from the article by Lewis Smedes in the May, 1999 issue of "Perspectives," pp. 8-12).

"Perspectives" is a religious periodical, sub-titled, "A Journal of Reformed Thought." It is edited and largely written by theologians, teachers, and other prominent, influential persons in the Reformed Church in America and in the CRC.

Dr. Lewis Smedes was a minister of the gospel in the CRC.


Smedes' Plea for Homosexual "Marriage" is refuted in the Bible.


My critique of Smedes' plea for approval of homosexual sex would note that the learned Dr. Smedes professes ignorance, as presented in that same article he wrote, as to the meaning ofo the Holy Spirit in thos passages of the Bible that treat homosexuality, particularly Romans 1:18-27.  Smedes does not know who they are, who are described in the passage, and states..."Nobody knows for sure." Nor does he know what is meant in the passage by "against nature".  The doubt of our unbelieving age that increasingly prevails in the churches, has blinded Smedes' mind to the clear testimony of the Word of God. 


Let me be crystal clear:  the people spoken of in Romans 1:18ff, are men and women who perversely lust for people of the same gender and then perversely engage in sexual acts with them as best they can.  The practice of homosexual sex is "against nature" in that it contradicts the will of God for sex as made known in creation itself.  This will of God is writ large in nature in the physical characteristics that distinguish male and female by virtue of God's creation of the human race; is sexual relations between a man and a woman in marriage.


One, like Lewis Smedes, who is uncertain about these basic things of divine revelation and the Christian religion, is disqualified to be a teacher of the church on sexual and marital ethics.


The argument for approving homosexual relations in the church is effectively answered by a church's faithful, biblical stand on marriage, sex, divorce, and remarriage. The plain teaching of the Bible is the authoritative rule for the thankful life of the believer in marriage. The difficult marital circumstances of some are not allowed to compromise, much less negate, the Word of God. The true church refuses to "factor human reality into its reading of the Lord's words."

And then, there is this little "gem" by Smedes where he not only says that it's perfectly all right for two homosexual men to have a relationship that's within the toleration of God...whatever that means; but that it is okay to do sexual activities such as sexual petting....heavy petting, and including sexual intercourse, depending on your circumstance.  Then he states it is okay for the husband to look at porn as long as he isn't comparing that porn to his wife and other things.?  What????

I hope you understand that this book is fatally flawed, in that the author does not rely on the Bible for his information, but uses instead, his own reasoning to draw his conclusions.

Unspoken assumptions in this book are staggering, with few references to the Bible; with, instead his referral to using his "discernment" to define boundaries.  His rhetoric is tiresome and baseless because it sidesteps the Bible in lieu of his own reasoning.

The central problem with Lewis Smedes is that he does not affirm the absolute authority of Scripture.  That is something that cannot be compromised.  The Bible is constantly being attacked in the 21st Century.  If you want to hold the views of Smedes, all you have to do is just eliminate the Bible; very, very convenient.  And if you're a professor in seminary, (albeit a liberal one) as Smedes was, it seems to me to be somewhat inconsistent to be training young men to minister the Word of God, while you deny it.  But that's where we are. 

And the problem at South Norfolk Baptist Church is when a pastor will start teaching a book written by an author like Smedes, who ignores the Bible.
And then, we have to consider that
Lewis Smedes was on the founding board o
f "Renovare"

'Renovaré' is Latin for 'to renew' or to 'restore'. It claims to be a Christian organization set up to help individuals and organizations to be more Christlike through 'spiritual formation'. This is growth and development of the 'whole person' by concentrating on one's inner life and spirituality, societal interaction and spiritual practices. These are supposed to deepen faith and encourage spiritual growth... but any mature believer will immediately be made suspicious by the term 'spiritual practices'.


Every aspect of Renovaré needs deep examination, for many godless groups use the same words, but with vastly different meanings. Renovaré's ministry team draws from Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Roman Catholics and Quakers, amongst others. Headquartered in Colorado, Renovaré is present throughout the world.


Renovaré's Board of Reference include such men as Tony Campolo, Faith and Roger Forster, J.I. Packer, C. Peter Wagner and the late John Wimber – hardly people to recommend or to follow! Is this just a Roman Catholic spin-off or a deliberate Catholic activity used to ruin Protestant truth? After all, it claims that we can know God better through spiritual disciplines... which goes way back to Loyola and the Jesuits. It is also charismatic and Quaker, both of which are heinous to true faith.


One of Renovaré's associates' teachers teaches "Reiki," an occult practice, as part of their course entitled 'Incarnate Presence for God: Body Prayer'. This teacher is also a Quaker. One of her colleagues teaches 'Presence Through Sacred Image: Icon Prayer Group'. She teaches that by gazing at Eastern Orthodox icon pictures we can come to enter the spiritual realm. All of these can be found regularly in a wide variety of New Age, Gaia-worship pagan groups.


One of the founders, Richard Foster speaks of 'center down', which sounds more like Transcendental Meditation to me. It 'focuses on the silence of the universe' and other ludicrous but occult, New Age practices.


Earth worship features in Renovaré's occultism, along with pantheism, as adherents are encouraged to focus on some part of creation – a tree, a bird, leaf, cloud, etc. The act of meditation is also given a New Age twist, as people are told to use 'imaginational prayer.' An example is given of how Foster used this kind of false prayer to supposedly heal a little girl. It sounded exactly like 'imaging' and dream interpretation found among charismatics, an occult technique. "Astral projection" (flying in the spirit) is also taught.


Foster teaches that God "constantly changes His mind in accord with His unchanging love"! He places emphasis on humanism. There is even a Renovaré Bible. It includes the Apocrypha, which, it says, is almost equal to scripture; it says Moses did not write Genesis, which is regarded as 'mythical' anyway; it denies that the Book of Daniel is prophetic or that Daniel wrote it, basing much on the falsity of Higher Critical Analysis.


Renovaré is one of many false movements entering the churches today, and shares parity with such 'acclaimed' things as the Alpha Course. Because so many Christians are superficial, with little biblical or theological knowledge, they are easily duped by Renovaré. There are also many unsaved people in our churches, and they will readily follow a system rather than scripture itself, because most people love to be told what to do! They also love the idea that they can 'reach' God through spiritual exercises, thus bypassing salvation.  Dallas Willard, also endorsed by David Slayton, is a devotee of Renovare.


Whatever the system, whether the Alpha Course (See the webpage: "The Alpha Course Heresy" on this site) or Renovaré, you should shun it. Systems are put in place of truth and the Holy Spirit guidance of each individual soul. As such they are dangerous and spiritually damaging, if not occult. Renovare is filled with New Age and Roman Catholic mysticism and I see no worth in it.

Southern Baptist Pastor, Rev. Ken Silva, discusses the latest heresy eminating from Renovare by way of Richard Foster (with the links left in the document, so you can "fact-check" it for yourself):
Another book was introduced to the unsuspecting congregation at South Norfolk Baptist by David Slayton, in October 2016, written by author Margaret Fineberg, who has endorsed known heretic Rob Bell. 

Fineberg was recently on the stage of the Emergent Church/Seeker-Driven "Catalyst West 2010" conference, where she was billed as a "New-Ager."  She appeared on the same platform with known heretics: Dan Kimball, Carlos Whittaker, Louie Giglio, Mark Driscoll, John Ortberg, Don Miller, and Dallas Willard.


The Emergent Church movement is a progressive Christian movement that attempts to elevate experience and feelings on a par with Christian doctrine.  Many do not believe man can know absolute truth, and believe God must be experienced outside of traditional biblical doctrines.

Having spoken with several knowledgeable individuals in 2016, who are familiar with South Norfolk Baptist and the Bridge Network of Churches, they are convinced that South Norfolk Baptist has become more "Emergent" rather than just "Seeker Sensitive," due to David Slayton's introduction of heretical teachings over the past few years.

 
     (See the webpage, "The Emergent Church" for complete information about this heretical movement).
Who is Margaret Fineberg?

First, we look at who has endorsed her, and what other books with heretical theology, she has written. 

Her book, "The Sacred Echo," is endorsed by known heretic, Mark Batterson, of "The Circle Maker" heresy, which has already been introduced into South Norfolk Baptist, by Pastor David Slayton, to an unsuspecting congregation.

I believe that Ms. Feinberg has a sincere desire to serve the Lord and encourage others in their personal walk with the Lord. She no doubt is a talented writer.

I found a few things to be untrue. Ms. Feinberg speaks of unanswered prayers. God answers EVERY prayer. He may not answer it the way we desire for Him to or in our timing, but He does answer our prayers. All of our prayers are heard if we truly are believers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. She seems to lack an understanding about what prayer is and is constantly talking about how to get the Lord to answer prayers as the petitioner wants them to be done. The emphasis in assertion of that person's will over the Lord's, and encouraging others to figure out what prayer will get the Lord to do as you wish.

Our main focus should be to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by conforming to His will not our own. We need to be equipped in the knowledge of His Word. To not only read it but to study to make sure that we are not tossed to and fro with winds of doctrine.

With that being said, I am very disappointed that yet another writer and publisher have fallen into the false doctrine of the "Emerging Church."  (See "The Emerging Church" for more information about this heretical movement).

Does anyone study their Bible anymore? Or do these "Christians" just go with the latest trend or whatever makes them feel good? 2 Timothy tells us in Chapter 3, verses 16-17:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work"

I would also like to mention the fact that Ms. Feinberg brings up how she and her husband were amazed and disgusted by the mega churches and their Miracle-Gro formulas, yet she endorses Rob Bell, one of the largest deceivers in the Emergent movement. 
I am grieved that more people will be deceived by the Emerging Church and that this book by Fineberg was even considered to be published.



Now, let us look at another of her books, "Organic God," here reviewed by Marsha West, April 2016:


Who is Margaret Feinberg?  "Charisma" magazine claims she’s one of the 30 voices who will lead the Church in the next decade.  According to Wikipedia, Feinberg has written over two dozen books and Bible studies including the critically acclaimed “The Organic God.”  The liberal media promotes Feinberg and her books: CNN, MSNBC, Chicago Tribune, L.A.Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Salon.com, to name a few.  April 15-16, 2016, she will headline a Georgia Baptist Convention event in Jekyll Island.  So even if you haven’t heard of her, she’s big.  Apparently many women have been buying her books and recommending them to family and friends. But is her teaching biblical?  “Umm.  No,” says Bud Ahlheim.  In fact, he has some serious concerns about this writer which he lays out in…

 

“Margaret Feinberg: ‘Bible Teacher’ sans Bible?”

One of my favorite verses from Scripture, one that reveals a truth of fundamental importance for me as a believer, is John 8:31.  Jesus, speaking to the believing Jews in His audience, said, “If you abide in my word, truly you are my disciples.”
 
The greatest desire of my life, and hopefully yours, is to be His disciple.  I abhor the casual Christianity proclaimed from so many pulpits.  I have great disdain for any teaching that takes focus away from “my word” and dares suggest other modes, other practices, regardless how “Christianized,” that are extra-biblical.  If we desire to be His disciple, we will be in His Word.
 
The problem with modern motivational preaching is that it offers little more than a theistically-salved form of positive thinking by adding Jesus to your life.  Having done just a little bit of “abiding in my word”, you’ll discover that this notion is as far from the authentic discipleship that Jesus taught as was Judas from winning the “disciple most likely to succeed” award.  You don’t add Jesus to your life; He IS your life.  “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE” isn’t just a pithy phrase of helpful encouragement; it is veracity with a capital “V”.
 
But, these days, pithy phrases and flowery, emotion-inducing prose take preeminence in our pulpits, from our leaders, and from presumed “Bible teachers.”  Margaret Feinberg occupies this latter category, a self-applied label highlighted in a tagline on her website.  That Feinberg wields well-turned phrases is uncontested.  However, that they yield much worthwhile truth remains, at best, a spurious assumption.
 
In doing research for her book, Scouting The Divine: My Search for God In Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey (see how oozingly warm and fuzzy she can be?), Feinberg describes her process of seeking Biblical illumination through a decidedly unbliblical hermeneutic.
 
(FYI, Feinberg’s book is endorsed by Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the SBC’s LifeWay Research.  That alone should warn you away from it.  These days, if the SBC endorses something, it should cause discernment alarms to go off  for you.)
 
"Scripture is written in an agragrian context, but I’m a total city girl.  Harvest, pruning, and livestock are things I see in movies and are especially difficult to grasp when I can’t even keep my living room plant alive.
 
A few years ago, I decided to do something about it.
 
I traveled to Oregon and spent time with a shepherdess to learn more about sheep and leadership.  Southern Colorado to spend time with a beekeeper and explore the world of hives and honey.  Nebraska to visit a farm and learn about harvesting, and California to learn about viticulture and fruitfulness from a grape-grower.
 
Along the way, I asked how each person interpreted passages of Scripture in light of their work.  Their answers illuminated the Bible in a whole new light and resulted in the book … "

(She proceeds to provide a link so you can not only buy her book, but also a 6 session DVD “Bible” study based on it.)
 
Now, there’s much that is worrisome from Feinberg’s comments, but let’s just hit the highlights.
 
For the believer - and I mean the authentic believer - there is this wonderful, doctrinal truth about Scripture.  It’s called the perspicuity of Scripture, and, paradoxically, the word “perspicuity” means clarity.  The Bible – for the believer – is clear.   We do not require special knowledge (you may recall the heresy of Gnosticism; it yet remains today, my friends.) to understand Scripture.  We do not need special training, or seminary degrees, or a solid grasp of hermeneutical techniques.
 
Well, why not?  You already know this (hopefully).  We have the Holy Spirit.  Upon our regeneration, one of the great assurances we have of our miraculous re-birth, is not only a new craving for God’s Word, but also the unique reality that, now, we actually understand it.  Like the resurrected Lord walking aside those two disciples on the Emmaus road, the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures.  Those two disciples, you may recall, commented that “he opened the Scriptures to us.”  Same thing for us today.
 
That Feinberg needed the aid of a shepherd, or a beekeeper, or a winemaker, whom she says “illuminated the Bible in a whole new light”, suggests a pragmatic hermeneutic that is unnecessary for Biblical understanding nor condoned by the Word itself.  Her technique implies that what we need to know from Holy Scripture can’t merely be learned by the Holy Spirit’s illumination alone;  we must go outside Scripture to understand the truth of Scripture.
 
Umm. NO. 
 
It’s one thing to learn about the metaphors used in the Scripture, but the point of their presence in there is not the metaphorical content itself.  It is, rather, the truth to which those metaphors point.  And the Holy Spirit teaches those truths.  You don’t need to understand the daily life of a sheep to grasp the relationship of Christ to His Church.  There is no value in those “sheep”; there is, however, tremendous value of the relationship of our Lord to His church … after all, He died for it.

Just as a doctor does not have to make himself sick in order to tend to his ailing patients, neither do we need to engage in seeking understanding of the metaphorical details to actually understand the truth of the metaphor.  You don't have to go fishing to understand becoming "fishers of men."  It's ludicrous, but, slathered in sufficiently witty word-smithing, it apparently sells.
 
So, tending to sheep, drinking wine, and risking bee stings are not fundamental methods for Feinberg (or anyone) in her “search for God”.  This “search for God” phrase is, for her sake, particularly worrisome.  If she can’t, doesn’t, or won’t find God in His Word, her “search” surely smacks against a truth that Paul wrote in Romans 3:11, “no one seeks for God.”  You only start seeking God once you're His.  But, the way in which He is to be found is in His Word.  Why?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17

 If Feinberg knows God, why is she crisscrossing the country searching for Him on farms and vineyards?  She should know He speaks to us in His Word.  Any natural revelations available to the unregenerate, and there are many, are, at best, insufficient for the authentic knowledge He has for the believer in His Word.  The world, cursed and tainted by the fall, is not the first place to seek illumination; indeed, it is the last place.  A believer, obedient to Scripture, knows this.  For Feinberg to suggest going beyond Scripture is very, very problematic.  Frankly, it’s only something false teachers do.
 
(In yet another expected display of a lack of discernment by the SBC, Feinberg is a headliner, at an upcoming Georgia Baptist Convention event in Jekyll Island, April 15-16.  It’s unclear if, leading those women on a similar search for God, Feinberg will be seeking salty Biblical knowledge about fishing from the once vibrant shrimping industry on the island.)
 
While touting her own extra-biblical “search for God”, and tacitly endorsing it for others, Feinberg has launched yet farther from the Word by producing and encouraging the use of “adult coloring books”.  Indeed, on the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association list of best-selling, “Christian” books, four of the top ten slots are currently occupied by adult coloring books.
 
IF, and that is an emboldened, highlighted “IF”, the endeavor of coloring is undertaken as a hobby, then perhaps it’s harmless enough.  Hobbies are not necessarily problems, unless they begin to take an idolatrous priority in our lives.  However, they can, like “adult coloring,” be “Christianized,” “spiritualized,” and used in a way that detracts from the Word itself.
 
When it comes to adult coloring, by way of disclaimer, let me quote the Apostle Paul, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  1st Corinthians 13:11
 
Just so you know, that’s where I stand.  Never will you find me coloring as a past-time.  However, when one pursues this “hobby” in a contemplative manner, to the disregard of Scripture and prayer time, then it is a tool of the enemy successfully keeping you from the Word.  This seems to be the intent of Feinberg and her coloring.


Consider her tweet from April 6 that contains another of her pithy, fuzzy quotes: “When words fail us, I’m so thankful that we can still paint His words on the tablets of our hearts.”

Huh?

 

Now, if “words fail us” means “I just don’t feel like praying, I think I’ll color instead,” then that is disregard for the apostolic imperative “Pray without ceasing.”  If it means, “I don’t know what to say to God,” it reflects woeful engagement with the Word itself.

 

When I read Scripture, I can’t help but pray my way through it.  It either convicts me, prompting me to repent and ask forgiveness; it encourages me, prompting prayer of praise and thanks; or, if a particular text is difficult for me, it prompts prayers for further illumination.  The mind saturated with Scripture finds itself lacking precious little in the way of words.

 

Michelle Lesley’s website has a very worthwhile read, and warning, when it comes to this whole “contemplative” or “meditative” coloring endeavor.  Please take time, particularly if you find yourself drawn to “adult coloring”, to read this article, http://michellelesleybooks.com/2016/03/15/guest-post-adult-coloring-and-meditation-what-every-christian-should-know/.

 

The author of the article, Jessica Pickowicz,  includes this appeal to women:

 

“Please do not use these coloring books in conjunction with prayer and meditation, contemplative or otherwise.  Do not empty your mind.  Ladies, please do not sit down to color and wait for a word from God!

 

Please do not chant over and over (as in a mantra) a declarative ‘life-verse’ from a page in your Scripture coloring book.  Do not allow yourself to be entranced through the exercise of meditative color.  These practices are pagan.  They are the very thing Scripture warns against.”

 

Following Feinberg’s “Christian” coloring, you are encouraged to disregard prayer, put the Bible aside, and engage in a spiritualized hobby, knowing that you may still “paint His words on the tablet of your heart.”  No.  Just no.

 

Ask yourself, why would a self-proclaimed “Bible teacher” encourage you to do something INSTEAD of Bible reading and study?  The only reason is the promise of mystical experiences, esoteric (and entreatingly diabolical) influences, and, frankly, for her profit.  (One tweet offers a special deal on her coloring books!  Buy now!  Limited Time Offer!  Again, just don’t!)

 

If it seems just to harsh to criticize Feinberg for her flowery prose and encouragement for mindless hobbies, consider this.  She not only weaves words of her own creation, going outside of Scripture for Scriptural truths; she even goes beyond the domain of accepted “Christian” literature to presumably seek wisdom.

 

Consider her tweet below, quoting "wisdom" from the world by the Catholic, female erotica author Anais Nin:

Folks, a “Bible teacher” who finds the need to align with “wisdom”  (trite, worldly “truths” are not, mind you, God’s “wisdom”)  from such sources is hardly a “Bible teacher” worth our time.  In disobedience to Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthians “not to associate with sexually immoral people”, Feinberg finds encouraging truth from such sources; truths to be lauded, and tweeted to her 32,000 followers.

 

But, there’s a truth that the crayon wielding Feinberg, mucking through the sheepfold or imbibing on the fruit of the vine, missed in her “search for God” because it’s found only in Scripture:

 

“Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.”

 

Feinberg’s pursuit of God from seeking wisdom from the world, rather than wisdom from the WORD, makes her a “Bible teacher” sans Bible.

 

And what’s the point of that?

 

The rise of the feminine Church of Eden

by Jeff Maples

Still another look at Margaret Feinberg:


"Christians duped by manipulation trick No. 703"

By Jim Fletcher
Margaret Feinberg has endorsed heretic Rob Bell:

Rob Bell is a known heretic who believes in the heresy of "Universalism" and sees nothing wrong with homosexual marriage!

 

 

(See "The Emergent Church" webpage for complete information about this man, who's books were carried in Rick Warren's 'Saddleback church'; even Rev. Franklin Graham has publicly denounced Bell as a heretic, when interviewed by Bill O'Rilley on FOX News). Thankfully, LifeWay bookstores run by the Southern Baptist Convention, have pulled his books from their store shelves. 


Question:  Pastor Slayton: why are you allowing the book by Fineberg to be taught at South Norfolk?

Todd Friel examines the problem with Rob Bell and talks about pastors who were fired from their church positions for teaching Bell's heresy:
And may I say, frankly, dear friends, I think it's time for those Deacons and Members who truly understand and believe what the Bible says, to ask David Slayton to leave South Norfolk Baptist, or else, repent and stop teaching and endorsing heresy.
A brief description of the "Emergent Church" Movement, to which Margaret Fineberg belongs:

"Experiencing God" by Blackaby, is also an example of Heretical teaching, endorsed by Rev. Slayton.

 

Like most wrong views of divine guidance, the Blackabys' scheme is wrong from the outset because it fails to give proper emphasis to the doctrine of divine Providence. 

 

In the Blackaby system, faith in the goodness and reliability of Providence is replaced by fortune-cookie thoughts generated by one's own imagination--or perhaps by that tainted hot dog you bought from a street vendor.

 

Going out into the "Community" and joining yourself to what God is doing is not biblically correct.  But this is a concept that Slayton and Hardaway have both endorsed at South Norfolk.

(Full discussion of Blackaby's Mysticism can be found on the webpage: "Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby: How Mysticism Misleads Christians."  That webpage includes detailed audio reviews of a pastor leading his congregation through the Workbook and materials in the "Experiencing God" course.)

 

(This not a commentary about the Blackabys, but about the view they advocate in this book. It is not about anything else they've ever written or done, nor is it about them as Christians or men.  My thanks to Rev. Phil Johnson, of Grace Community Church, for his informative guidance about the heresy found in some of the Blackaby teaching).

Here is an excerpt from a research paper by Ken Hornok reference Blackaby's Mysticism. 
(The full paper can be seen on the Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby: How Mysticism Misleads Christians" webpage and the "Contemplative Prayer" Heresy webpage).

A SHEPHERD GUARDS HIS FLOCK

By Rev. Ken Silva, Southern Baptist pastor-teacher, Jul 9, 2012

 “And you’ve heard the rumor, that Pastor Jim killed the Beth Moore trip. Let me clarify that rumor: I killed the Beth Moore trip.” -Pastor Jim Murphy


Thank you to a friend of mine at First Baptist Church, Johnson City, NY, for sending me the sermon preached this past Sunday by his pastor, Jim Murphy. I thank God for pastors today, like Jim Murphy, who are boldly taking a stand and, lovingly and with great graciousness, and yet firmly, warning their flocks of false teaching. I am also thankful for pastors who recognize that the church is not “theirs” but belongs to God, and was purchased by the blood of Christ. It is an institution wholly unlike anything else on earth. It is not a business or a social club, and should always be dealt with with the utmost care. I’m thankful that there are at least a few pastors out there who do not fear man, who tremble at God’s holy Word, and who are seeking, often against the tide, to fulfill their God-ordained responsibilities in shepherding their flocks:


“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28, my emphasis

“(An elder) must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” Titus 1:9, my emphasis

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” Acts 20:29-31, my emphasis


As we have mentioned, it’s not like deception waltzes in with a sign hanging round its neck, announcing its intent. Deception is deceptive.


In this sermon warning and exhorting his flock to train themselves in discernment that they might not be deceived, Pastor Jim Murphy does not hold back and names names in his sermon entitled, "The Subtlety of Satan":


Shane Claiborne

Doug Pagitt

Rob Bell

Tony Campolo

Rick Warren

Bill Hybels

Beth Moore

Dallas Willard

John Piper

Richard Foster

Margaret Feinberg

Francis Chan

Looking at this list, you might be thinking: are you saying that all of the above are false teachers? In truth, some of them are straight up false teachers. But some of them, while they are perceived to be solid, have begun embracing the mysticism of Spiritual Formation and the Contemplative Spirituality movement, both of which borrow heavily from Roman Catholic Monastic mysticism. (And again, I have to repeat something I feel I say far too often: what could lost, cloistered Roman Catholic monks dabbling in occultism, eastern mantra meditation and mysticism possibly be able to teach true, born again, in-dwelt Christians of today about deepening their relationship to God? But I digress….)


In this sermon Pastor Murphy also exhorts his congregation to “connect the dots,” between the many dangers we are warned about repeatedly in Scripture and what is being taught under our noses in many churches and by many Christian authors and leaders today.


”The mood is that if you have a reformed soteriology you get a pass on everything else.”  -John MacArthur


I would also add the warning not to give an automatic pass to pastors perceived to be solid. We must always be Bereans, and we must always be holding all things being taught in the name of God up to the actual word of God. But please, don’t just take my word for it, or Pastor Murphy’s word for it, or even John MacArthur’s word for it: all that I have written about here is a matter of public record for those who want to know the truth about what is being taught, and by whom. It’s there for the finding for anyone who looks.