Why We Don’t Support The Prosperity Gospel

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

1 Timothy 6:3-10

English Standard Version

"Creflo Dollar"

“Creflo Dollar”

“Name it, and claim it.”

“Believe it, and receive it.”

“What I confess, I possess.”

The above quotes are a sampling of some of the phrases that used to pepper my private Facebook page before I shut it down earlier this summer. These soundbites used to regularly appear in my news feeds courtesy of well-meaning friends and family. Every week, I would get to hear how God wants people to be healthy and wealthy while the fingers of prosperity proselytizers would eagerly point to some ‘biblical’ formula designed to create ‘financial blessings’. To put it simply all Christians are entitled to wealth and notoriety so long as they put their faith in God – and tithe. The giving of money touted as symbolic in that it demonstrates faith that will lead to an automatic blessing from God.

Yet, is this actually so?

I admit, when I first became a Christian I used to think that Prosperity Gospel was no different from any other subculture of the Christian faith in that it was based on a different interpretation of the word not dissimilar to Lutheranism or Episcopalian doctrine. However, whenever I would try to read through one of the books by Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyer I would always feel that something was not quite right in my spirit and would put it back on the shelf. Back then I chalked it up to not being very strong or far along in my walk. After all I had just converted and was still learning the ins-and-outs of my new faith. Yet, as time went on it became clear that God was trying to show me that there was something about their teachings that was not quite right.

Finally, I began to ask God what it was about the whole Prosperity Gospel movement that was so detrimental since – at the time – it looked as if it was a good thing. Whenever I watched the Trinity Broadcasting Network, back when I had cable, I thought I was watching Him move powerfully through His people who were blessed with health and financial wealth. However, when I humbled myself and began to ask for clarity on the matter God began to show me how while on the surface this heterodoxy might seem sound, when held up to scripture (orthodoxy) one begins to notice some odd parallels. Namely, with the New Age schools of thought.

What most Christians fail to realize is that the Prosperity Gospel or Word of Faith teachings are the Christian equivalent of the Law of Attraction. If you do not know what that is, in a nutshell the Law of Attraction claims that positive thinking and verbal affirmations can create life-changing results like wealth, happiness, and health. Our very thoughts have the ability to both influence and create reality and when we pair them with certain actions or rites. It is the same kind of ideology you will find in the writings of Eckhart Tolle and they are entrenched in the philosophies of Word of Faith.

The Prosperity Gospel movement got its start in the 1970s at the hands of Paul and Jan Crouch with their Trinity Broadcasting Network. Over the decades this school of thought has gone by many names including New Thought, Religious Science, Christian Science, and others. The origins of these philosophies came from the Spiritualism movement in the 1800s when the occult went mainstream. During this era a number of heresies were conceived such the Rapture and Mormonism which infiltrated Christianity laying the groundwork for the hot mess we are in today. The Word of Faith movement teaches there are four “principles” which govern the physical and natural world:

  1. Revelation Knowledge
  2. Positive Confession
  3. Principle of Divine Healing
  4. Principle of Material Prosperity

These precepts are identical to the ones in the Law of Attraction and is based in what is called Revelation Knowledge. Basically it asserts that we can not know God from any of our five senses because He is immaterial, and thus incapable of communicating with man through the physical world. Instead God has to rely on our thought processes which in turn changes the material realm as a result of our experiencing His presence in the mental one. It is a form of magical and slavish thinking that sprang up around 1919 during the height of Spiritualism which claims that thoughts not only manifest events, but that God can become a power within our own minds which enables us to become what we believe. To that end let us examine some of the claims made by the Prosperity Gospel.

CLAIM ONE: GOD IS AN IMPERSONAL AND NON-RELATIONAL ENTITY WHO CHRISTIANS CAN TAP INTO TO CHANGE THEIR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL ENVIRONMENT.

Translation: You are your own god.

The best acid test of one’s success at becoming “god-like” is how wealthy and successful they are after adopting a life of extreme individualism and self-determination (Objectivism) because God is an impersonal and non-relational entity. This breeds some of the foul fruit seen in the Word of Thought movement such as the judgment of people who experience misfortune atop the wrong-headed idea that some sort of “sin” caused it to happen. This was the main theme in the argument Job had with his three friends around the campfire, and it is one that is constantly repeated in the Prosperity Gospel.

If bad things happen to you then it is because God is condemning and punishing you for your individual intentional or inadvertent thoughts, words, or deeds. This line of thinking, (which also appears in the heretical doctrines of Calvinism), leaves no room for grace because of the underlying legalism that reduces God to a cosmic principle. Per the Word of Thought God becomes a universal law of reciprocity where you get what you deserve. Health, wealth, and happiness become based on your own abilities, your own thought processes, and your own religious efforts to tap into “the divine”.

CLAIM TWO: HUMAN BEINGS HAVE THE ABILITY TO COMMAND GOD TO MATERIALIZE WHAT THEY WANT BY CLAIMING IT.

Seriously?

This is the second principle of the Word of Faith which teaches that Christians have the ability to use verbal affirmation to change reality. “What I confess, I possess,” is one of many popular catch-phrases designed to make prayers manifest through positive confession or the Law of Faith. In essence we have the right to demand that God behave in a certain way because He is obligated to give us what we want. Proponents of this teaching include Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Robert Schuller, and Joel Osteen.

I grew up watching Kenneth Copeland on television in the 90s and hearing him teaching that Christians had a “faith-force”, and could command the Holy Spirit to do their bidding. Tithing was a formula for getting God to grant prayers and bestow blessings. The act not dissimilar to the incantations and ritualistic offerings made by pagans operating on the same premise. If a human wants to earn the favor of the gods they must give in order to get.

In reality God can bless who He wants when He wants, but in the Prosperity Gospel He is no different from a magic genie who must obey human commands based on a universal principle which says that He has to obey when we think or speak in a particular manner. He does not. Nor does He bless or curse us in response to our having either a positive or negative attitude.

CLAIM THREE: HUMANS HAVE THE ABILITY TO FORCE GOD TO HEAL THEM.

This particular teaching within the Prosperity Gospel has done immeasurable damage to Christians suffering from physical or mental ailments. I have experienced it first-hand within the confines of my own family having heard numerous times how “naming” my mental illness means I have “claimed” it and thus granted it “power” over my life. If I just quit talking about having Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and instead confessed that I have received my healing I will be cured by God!

Back in the real world…

Despite what Joel Osteen or Creflo Dollar would have us believe our physical healing is not a done-deal. The idea that it is such comes from the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy who was the founder of Christian Science (Google it), and has been repeated by the late Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn. According to them the ultimate test of a Christian’s faith is to claim their healing when they are still experiencing symptoms. Any symptoms that continue after that are not only an illusion, but a demonic attack geared towards destroying the faith and healing of the adherent.

In reality this teaching does exactly that!

If we go by the Prosperity Gospel our physical well-being depends on how well we manipulate God by naming and claiming our healing. Any healing or periods of good health are the result of our skills in demanding the power of our Creator. If we relapse or are chronically ill it is because we lack faith or have sinned. This principle also works in reverse. According to this ideology if you talk or worry about the possibility of getting cancer you might get cancer.

I kid you not.

CLAIM FOUR: CHRISTIANS HAVE THE ABILITY TO FORCE GOD TO GIVE THEM POWER AND MONEY.

Oral Roberts was probably one of the most famous proponents of this ideology as he was the one who coined the phrase “seed-faith giving.” Supposedly, if we give money or other material items to God (read: the ministry of said proselytizer) then God is obligated to give us more money or material wealth in return. In this manner we are able to secure financial prosperity which is one of the many guarantees made by adherents. I have heard everything from ten to hundred-fold returns simply from giving a certain amount in the collection plate. What makes this claim to insidious is that it is portrayed as the key to ending financial strain since their tithing is a principle of reciprocity that God must obey.

However, if you are in financial crisis it is not because you made mistakes but because you failed to implement the “faith force” to get God to give you your blessing. That, or you have weak faith and are an unrepentant sinner who is being punished with poverty because of your stiff-necked actions or beliefs. No matter what you are in some way spiritually deficient which is why that $19.95 you sent to the televangelist did not manifest as some sort of material item guaranteed by God.  As a result of this mentality brothers and sisters spend time praying harder and longer and miring themselves in acts and legalism in order to get all of the sin out of their lives – before sending more money. According to the Word of Faith movement the poor are self-cursed and have been abandoned by God. Never mind the fact that we are told in Luke 6:20 (NLT) -

“God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours.”

Not to mention the other 500 scriptures addressing the weak, sick, poor, and downtrodden whom are near and dear to the very heart of God. Plus, there are all of those warnings both in the Old and New Testament about wealth, greed, and the love of material things.

No matter how you look at it the Word of Faith movement relies on a number of scriptural errors that proponents like Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland tend to gloss over. Yet, whenever I or other brothers or sisters point these things out we get called ‘haters’ or ‘judgmental’ when in reality we are simply calling into question teachings and practices that smack heavily of the occult. One of the many things God has been showing me as of late is how we Christians have been turning some of our leaders into idols by holding them to the standards of the world instead of scripture. At some point we decided that if a preacher is in charge of a mega-church, has book deals, or is a millionaire with mansions and Mercedes then they have been “anointed” or “blessed” for “preaching the word”. Never mind the following scriptures from Jude which read (Jude 1:3-4, NIV):

“…I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

- and Romans 16:17-18 (NIV):

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

Like Paul, who did not realize he was in sin, some of these prosperity proponents are probably not aware that they have been given a stone for bread or that they are misleading their followers. They do not yet realize that they have been deceived by those who knowingly sowed error and division in order to profit from their parishioners per the wisdom we find in the scriptures. If it was happening back then it is happening today. To that end this essay will hopefully plant some seeds of discernment so that you might be able to separate the wheat from the chaff as opposed to “naming and claiming” it.

(P.S. If you would like to read a more in-depth essay about why Word of Faith is heretical please check out the following blog.)

- RJK

Look Who’s Coming to Dinner

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 12:18

New International Version

"Silence"

“Silence”

It appears we are living in an age where vitriol is trendy. Turn on the radio or television and you find a steady stream of hyperbole and invective. If it will somehow offend or irritate it is on the airwaves, and online there are plenty of people willing to offer up their $0.02 in retaliation against anyone with the audacity to either agree or disagree over the subject at hand. While we can all agree, once the dust settles, that behaving in this manner is counterproductive that insight quickly goes out the window the minute the next hot-button topic arrives on the scene. It is a vicious cycle that even we Christians find ourselves drawn into even though  we are told in 1 Peter 3:11 (NLT) -

“If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.”

- and in Ephesians 4:29 (NLT) -

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to doing either of the above both the secular and religious go for the exact opposite as passions flare and emotions run high. Instead of engaging in reasoned discourse tempered by wisdom, mercy, and grace I frequently watch comment sections devolve into a finger-pointing, name-calling, condemnation-happy free-for-all regardless of whether or not said forum is on a Christian website. I admit when I was younger I also used to engage in these behaviors, but now that I am older and wiser with a better understanding of the power of speech in the public sphere I find myself shaking my head as I see the ways we verbally disrespect one another.

A good example of this can be found in the Vegan scene. For those of you just visiting this blog I am a Vegan in the real world for both health and philosophical reasons. To be clear I do not care if a person does or does not eat meat since neither diet is against God. Prior to The Flood it appears that early humans did not consume animal products per Genesis 1 27-31 (NLT) -

Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.

After The Flood we see a completely different story when Noah and his family emerge from the Ark in Genesis 9:1-3 (NLT) -

“Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth. All the animals of the earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I have given you grain and vegetables.”

Although we know the prophet Daniel followed a Vegetarian diet along with his three companions for reasons not entirely elaborated upon – God neither condemns nor blesses him for it. All we know is that it left him in a healthier state than eating whatever the Babylonians had to offer. Whether you follow a post-Flood (Omnivorous) or pre-Flood (Vegan/Vegetarian) diet it does not matter insofar as God is concerned since our salvation depends on Jesus. Yet, I see brothers and sisters readily playing in to the tit-for-tat game over veggie-based diets right along with those opposed to ones that include meat and dairy. Just recently, this meme popped up in my news feed on Facebook featuring the former governor of my state:

Naturally, the Vegan blog-o-sphere exploded with outrage over this image which even I view as a shallow and insulting marketing gimmick. Proponents for the image argue along such lines since – to them – its just some harmless fun. Yet, it really is not if one takes time to peek behind the curtain. This kind of commentary is common when it comes to Veganism and Vegetarianism. My father-in-law made that joke at a recital my niece was performing in more than a year ago and it still stings to this day. Namely because of the fact that part of the reason I am Vegan stems from having severe food allergies. I cannot eat wheat, chicken, pork, rice, and a variety of other foods that are common in the Western diet. However, I should not have play the “health” card in order to avoid cruel joking about what I do or do not have on my plate.

It also does not give me the right to behave in the same manner of other Vegans who condemn and shame others for their food choices.

We can all agree that factory-farming with its inhospitable conditions, inhumane practices, and genetically modified animals that are nothing like what God originally gave us to eat are problems. I grew up in the Mat-Su Valley here in Alaska which is also farm country. Hunting and fishing was a large part of my childhood since my family was poor. I remember the nights where we lay awake wondering where our next meal would come from, and the joy of landing a moose that could feed us for the rest of the year. I also remember the hard work of readying the gardens in the spring and fall for planting, along with the labor of harvesting and preserving plants that would feed us over both the summer and winter. For the Native Alaskans with whom we share the land the practice of subsistence hunting is both a way of life and means for survival.

Seeing small farms being put out of business by corporate operations is an issue that hits close to home right along with legislation that threatens indigenous food sources. Throw in the fact that most people don’t even know how to grow or harvest their own food – a development that occurred only within the last sixty years – and you have a Vegan that is just as passionate about animal rights as the farmers and hunters to rely on them for their livelihood and sustenance.

In the real world, my husband and I are in that infamous student loan debt like most college graduates. We garden and eat local wild foods to supplement our diets and incomes since the cost of fresh vegetables in this state is akin to highway robbery. Eating healthy can be expensive which is why we are also working to find ways to educate those who are in lower income brackets than ourselves on utilizing community resources to grow their own food. I’m comfortable enough in my Vegan ways to accept the fact that not everyone can or will eat a Vegan diet.

Telling the local Native Alaskans to give up their traditional diets would be viewed as more unwelcome colonial infringement piggybacked on cultural assassination. Never mind the fact that the adoption of non-traditional Western foods has had a detrimental effect on their health leading to an effort to educate younger generations about wild foodstuffs. I have found that when one takes the time to sit down and do what Jesus did – meet people where they are and listen – the results are far better than shock-jock memes of vitriol. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

When pictures like this go online everyone goes on the offensive. Rather than formulate a thoughtful response tempered with reason that could create a productive discourse environment, a quick Google search of this image reveals examples of how not to react to this kind of advertising -

“…what a horrible human being…”

“Sarah Palin is an ignorant lying bloodthirsty murdering psycho in any language.”

“I think she is a stupid [deleted] who did not get enough love and care while growing up.”

The rest is so NSFW that even my best rhetorical skills were not enough to make them presentable here on BCF. Predictably, once the comments went live people from both secular and religious walks of life were quick to jump in with their own bon mots on Veganism -

“Some good old-fashioned red meat will help get you some manly backbone. You’re making us sick with all your namby-pamby nonsense. For God’s sake, be a MAN like Jesus wants you to be!”

“I have no objections to what other people eat or don’t eat. I only object to the lies, hypocrisy, insults, and smug obnoxious behavior that seems to be an integral part of the vegan and vegetarian “lifestyle”.

“Vegans are highly emotional and aggressive, they are the leading cause in misinformation and unfortunately give veg/vegan combined a bad name. They protest too much and make a religion out of a diet.

One needn’t look any further than Christ’s words to see that so-called “vegans” are nothing more than sorcerers and demons, mocking God while spitting on His Son’s final supper.

Theological missteps aside, one thing Jesus taught is that we are to love our fellow man as we love ourselves as it is the core principle of the agape love found in the Christian faith. There is nothing loving about this kind of vitriol which is little more than cheap outrage bought about by shock-jock tactics used by both sides of the issue. I admit there are Vegans out there who are just plain insensitive and mean. One of my relatives falls into this category in that they proselytize and food-shame at every meal to where even I want to give them a one-two with my leather-free shoe. However, that would not be in line with agape, and the same for my relatives who turn right around and make cruel jokes about anyone who does not have butter on their bread and steak on their plate. Just because the world teaches that tit-for-tat mentalities are acceptable does not mean it is so with God. We are told in 1 Peter 3:9 (NLT) -

“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.”

If it is not okay for an omnivore to make jokes about my diet or otherwise food-shame me for what is on my plate, then it is not okay for me to do the exact same by visiting unrighteous judgment on them for eating meat. If anything these kinds of antics alienates those who might actually be sympathetic to some of the causes supported by Vegan activists, and are the reason why many potential or current Vegans refuse to identify as such. True, it might feel good to lash out when someone verbally burns you, but in the long run all it does is create counter-productive invective and internet trolls.

- RJK

Yoga Pants and Modesty Pt. 1

 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

1 Corinthians 6:11-13

New International Version

(WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ESSAY CONTAINS MATURE SUBJECT MATTER INVOLVING HUMAN SEXUALITY.)

"The dreaded yoga pant."

“The dreaded yoga pant.”

Yes, we are going to talk about sex.

If you are done shooing the children from the room and shutting the blinds, feel free to pull up a stump next to the campfire and toast some marshmallows. The reason I am writing this essay is because, after months of consideration, I have decided not to write a book about human sexuality from a Christian perspective, and instead post anything that would have been in the text here on BCF. Maybe I will get around to it later on when I am older and wiser, but the information is needed now and not at some indeterminate date in the future. That said, I am going to directly address several issues that have come my way over the last several days including the latest dust-up in the modesty sphere which involves the dreaded yoga pant.

If you are like me and tend to avoid RSS feeds as much as humanly possible, this might come as a surprise, and if you are not then you are fully aware that there are brothers and sisters taking up valuable megabytes on blogs across the globe as they debate whether or not yoga pants are immodest. Seriously. Most of us expect the standard Women In Pants argument, but now yoga and jogging pants are on the list.

Part of this is due to the fact that younger brothers and sisters have not yet developed proper discernment to recognize actual immodesty, and the other comes from the legalistic legerdemain that takes advantage of our younger siblings in the faith to lock them into these petty squabbles while the actual problems in the world and church remain unchecked. Did not Timothy write in 2 Timothy 2:23 (NIV) -

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”

- and what of Titus in Titus 3:9 (NIV) -

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”

While I realize some of you are probably already balking at what I have said, instead let us take a page from Isaiah 1:18 (ESV) and “reason together” around our imaginary campfire. Reasoning not based on what I think or what you think or what the world or all these quarrelsome people think, but on what God thinks which – hopefully – will sow some seeds for a more mature discernment regarding these matters.

Right off the bat I am going to tell you that there are clothes that are immodest. Period. While we humans of both sexes can wear whatever we wish, just like the opening scripture of this essay, not all of these clothes are ones that we should be walking around in. As Evan likes to say, “Just because you can do something does not mean that you should,” and he is correct. Just because you can walk around half-dressed does not mean that you should, and that applies to BOTH sexes since God holds BOTH accountable for sexual immorality.

However, do yoga and jogging pants fall into that category?

No.

Why?

Because immodesty and modesty like porn and art are things you just know when you see them, but we live in a world that teaches us to put things into categories of extremes which is how you end up with brothers and sisters hurling scripture at each others heads atop claims of licentiousness and causing brothers to ‘stumble’. This is also due to living in a world where The Enemy is the one to teach us about human sexuality instead of God which leads to even more bad fruits, butt-hurt brethren, and people running like their hair is on fire for all of the sexual immorality that to them represents freedom from a sexually repressed religion no thanks to asinine arguments such as this.

Yoga and jogging pants are not immodest unless they are styled in such a way as to be immodest.

I actually took the time to Google women in yoga pants, and you naysayers are right. Not all yoga and jogging pants are created equal. Some are so skin-tight that the woman might as well not even be wearing anything at all, and some are so thin you can see everything and I mean everything. This means that, frankly, if you are a woman wearing yoga or jogging pants you might want to make sure they are not cut in such a way as to make your butt look like it has been spray painted whatever color you bought them in, and that they are opaque enough to keep folks from seeing your spray painted butt in all of its glory.

Problem solved.

When I was a kid shorts were a hot-button issue since it was the 80s and everyone had just spent the last several years staring at Daisy Duke’s Daisy Dukes. What it came down to was not wearing shorts that failed to pass the mirror test. If you are wondering what that is, it is when you bend over while looking over your shoulder at a mirror behind you, and if your butt pops out from the shorts they are too darned short. If you are like me and exceptionally lazy on some matters, just wear capris, and quietly ignore your husband while he complains they make your butt and legs look like an inverted pear. Either way the shorts themselves were not immodest unless they were cut and styled to be immodest.

Umpteen decades later I now see teenage girls walking around with shorts so short the pocket pouches poke out from the cuffs. Admittedly, the parents bought the clothes and said they were okay, but if the girl bends over she is going to end up with a self-inflicted wedgie, and before you start e-mailing me I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard that very complaint in the ladies’ room while some girl dug her pants out of her butt.

There you go.

The same wisdom applies to bathing suits and other attire typically deemed ‘taboo’. The items in and of themselves are not immodest unless they are cut and styled to be immodest. Paul even wrote on this matter centuries ago when counseling men and women who used to be prostitutes in Corinth in 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (NIV):

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”

That scripture, despite its common misuse, was not a ban against Christians wearing nice clothes or jewelry or a decent haircut. If you do the research Paul was writing to hetairai - prostitutes who dedicated themselves to the goddess Aphrodite and engaged in ritual sex as part of their monastic life. One of the ways they would adorn themselves was by braiding bits of gold and pearls into their hair which, by law, was also required to be yellow. This eventually became a fad that wealthy women copied by either bleaching their hair or wearing wigs, and the latter really is an admonition against wearing ridiculously expensive clothing.

Amazing what a little historical context can do for the meaning of a passage or verse.

2,000 years later that advice still applies – do not wear clothing that has been purposely cut and styled in an immodest manner for those who are immodest, and also do not wear clothing that costs an incredible amount of money. Yoga pants are not immodest unless they are the sort that have been cut and styled to be immodest. Jogging pants are not immodest unless they have been cut and styled to be immodest. Notice a pattern here?

Unfortunately, this sort of discernment does not come easy to many of us because most brothers and sisters – in an effort to be authentically obedient and faithful to God – have entertained a certain measure of fear which has allowed The Enemy to gain a foothold. Since they have only seen the extremes of these things then all things that are part of that category must be ‘bad’. It is the same argument that started back in the day with people who would not eat meat sacrificed to the idols they used to worship because they thought the meat was ‘evil’. Therefore, all meat was bad, and so they would not eat it at all. In fact, let us look at what Paul says about this issue in 1 Corinthians 8 (NIV) -

“Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

The real meaning of that scripture is engaging in acts that one knows are typically regarded as wrong, and leading others to engage in those acts that are also wrong. To break it down there is no sin in eating the food in question, however, for those who are weak and do not know this they will instead assume that it is okay to eat the food as a sacrifice to the idol instead of eating it as food, and thus sin. What Paul is saying is that Christians ought not to do that since we are told to “reject every kind of evil”, and not engage in acts that are wrong which will lead others to do the wrong thing that we know no one is supposed to do.

What this means is that I could go walking around in hoochie-momma clothing, even though I know full-well what that clothing communicates, and a weaker brother or sister would think it is okay for a Christian to go walking around dressed like a hoochie-momma. We never outgrow that ‘monkey-see-monkey-do’ habit we all had as kids, which is why fundamentally all Christians are modeling appropriate behavior and conduct even when out shopping for toilet paper at 2 AM.

HOWEVER -

We have people who are so afraid of communicating the wrong thing and causing a person to stumble they opt not to wear shorts or pants or anything at all that could cause anyone to do anything perceived to be wrong, and the problem with this is that the conscience of the weak is not strengthened, and the wisdom that brings about freedom in Christ is not developed, and the discernment to know whether something is or is not right or wrong does not form. Thus a law is forged in place of this invaluable spiritual growth, and I for one do not wish to be a Christian who causes others to stumble by giving them a law that simply leaves them open to further invasion by The Enemy through false freedom and security based on legalism instead of mercy and grace.

The meaning of this scripture is simple – eating one kind of food or wearing one kind of clothing while abstaining from another will not bring you closer to God. However, engaging in forms of evil such as wearing clothes that are purposely styled and cut to be immodest can by agreeing with the fashion codes of the world instead of the fashion codes of God. Can Christians wear yoga pants? Yes. Can Christians wear yoga pants that leave nothing to the imagination? No. Can Christians wear shorts? Yes. Can Christians wear shorts that leave their butts hanging out? No.

Notice a pattern here?

Not only that, when faced with a brother or sister who is weak in conscience and has yet to develop the wisdom and discernment to see between the extremes instead of swinging to one themselves, we should build them up so as to enable their growth in Christ. What does it profit us, the more mature brothers and sisters, if we simply walk around soaking in our own internal smugness over our knowing the finer details of right and wrong while our younger siblings flounder about in useless quarrels or lock themselves into bondage by avoiding this or that? True, it might do some good in so far as keeping them away from some things that are bad, but at the same time it could leave them open to things that are far worse.

We can see the fruits of this in our brothers and sisters who have locked themselves into extreme dress codes where certain articles of clothing are entirely forbidden based on a wrongheaded interpretation of scripture. An interpretation that was born out of a fear of causing one another to stumble, and so instead of wisdom and discernment legalism was sought out, and now we have entire factions dedicated to this wrongheaded thinking under the guise that it is somehow indicative of purity and righteousness when reality it is slavery.

Pass me a marshmallow.

- RK

 

207: The Occult

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Ephesians 6:12

New International Version

"Who Is Lady Gaga?"

“Who Is Lady Gaga?”

I am feeling disturbed tonight.

For those of you on the periphery, in the real world I do not watch television, and have not done so in almost ten years with the exception of a handful of programs on Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. I also do not do mainstream music, having lost interest in it long before Christ figured into my life due to the messages it contains. If you turn on the radio it is the same message over and over again – spend money, have sex, party hard, and do it all over again on Friday. Sure, maybe there is a “love” song or two thrown in there, but the quality is such that even a low-budget 1980s flick could do better. Seriously. Decades later after being exposed to mainstream television and music, I am disturbed by the blatant messages they now contain, and no I’m not making the stereotypical argument about gratuitous sex atop dime-store musical talent.

I can rant about Hoobastank some other time, and ignore my husband shouting ‘Nickleback’ in the background.

Before we Christians start patting ourselves on the back for being ‘pure’, now might be a good time to mention that these messages are also in the church. One thing God has been showing me as of late is that Paul really was on to something when he wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:3-11 (NIV) -

“Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?

After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”

Yet, this happens all the time in the modern church. The minute we Christians quit following Jesus and instead start following some -ism that didn’t exist until some theologian invented it, we’ve stopped following Jesus, and no that wasn’t a fist-bump for fundamentalism either. Go to any of those churches and each one will claim that their ‘fundamental’ interpretation of scripture is more accurate than their competitors’ interpretation, which comes down to whichever theologian they feel has the best doctrine. This line of thinking is how we ended up with Calvinist heresy and every other schism that has given rise to the 35,000 denominations we have today.

It is obvious we have a mess of people who have been “blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14, NIV). 2,000 years of hindsight reveals The Enemy has been alive and well in our midst which is likely why God has also been hammering a series of scriptures regarding the presence of false teachers (Acts 20:29:31, NIV). Antichrists who have gone out into the world for the express purpose of teaching heresy and dividing The Body to hamstring it as much as possible (2 Peter 2:1-3, NIV)). Neither secular nor religious society is free from the influences of The Enemy and his occult brethren, and since I am beyond tired I am going to keep it short and sweet.

I used to be a witch.

My background in the occult has been something that God has redeemed a thousand times over because it would shock people if they knew just how much occult symbolism they are exposed to on a daily basis, and without their even knowing it. The messages people are being bombarded with are based on the teachings of Aleister Crowley who is the father of modern Satanism. Anton Lavey, the so-called ‘founder’ of the Church of Satan, simply gave it a sleek public image. Crowley, in the meantime, was considered to be ‘the wickedest man alive’ by the media, and engaged in acts to heinous even dedicated practitioners turned on him. Depraved doesn’t even begin to cover Crowley.

While on a drug-induced trip not dissimilar to others where he engaged in ritual and sex magic during the altered state, Crowley allegedly came in contact with a demonic entity that called itself ‘Aiwass’. Most people assume the entity was The Enemy himself, and they are right. Lucifer used Crowley, who described himself as ‘The Beast’, to write Liber Al Legis – The Book of the Law. From that book, we get the codified teachings and messages that permeate every aspect of human life as they relate to The Enemy. Basically, Satan found someone to write an (un)holy text based on the teachings and foundational principles of his kingdom. Just as Christianity operates in triads and triumvirates, the Book of the Law has three basic tenets that form its backbone -

3) Every man and woman is a star.

2) Love shall be love under will.

1) Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

I inverted them on purpose since that is the correct order due to the fact that Crowley had a habit of using reversals which is a common practice in the occult. In essence you can do or be whatever you want because you are your own ‘god’ and are thus entitled to self-aggrandizing love. His message is in our broadcast and televised media, our advertisements, our politics, and even in our pulpits. The latter, I believe, is why God has been hammering home scriptures about antichrists and false teachers that have gone out into the world.

Occult symbols are everywhere and once you learn how to recognize them you start to realize just how far down the rabbit hole goes. The fruits become painfully obvious along with a series of inconvenient truths. It becomes clear that the human race cannot and will not survive under the dominion of The Enemy. Yet, we are being told otherwise, and look at our world. How many politicians and public figures are worshiped as if they are demigods? Look at the screeds coming out of the pulpits that are wholly contradictory to Christianity at its very core.

The last 2,000 years has been an attempt through willing and unwilling (deceived) men and women to crush God and Christ. Which is why I am not surprised that so many are prophesying that God is readying Himself for direct involvement due to the situation. The revelation of these heresies and corruptions are, to my eyes, the work of God who is revealing these people for what they are. Bob Jones is not too big to be bought down by God any more than Doug Wilson or Mark Driscoll. The revelation of false teachers, heresies, blasphemies, and ever other kind of -ies is just the beginning.

I would say more, but I feel I have spoken enough for one night.

- RJK

George Will Isn’t Alone in Rape Apologism, Progressives

Ryan J. Knight:

Welcome to the additional fruits of the curse that befell humanity following the incident in the garden. This is a major reality check people, and one we should be proactively discussing and addressing as citizens of the Kingdom of the Living God. – RK

Originally posted on Leftcheek deuce:

(TW for Rape Apologism, Slut Shaming, mention of rape threats, mockery of such, etc.)

Like most, I haven’t cared about George Will for over twenty years. He belongs to the Old Guard conservatism, the Martini Republicans like George H W Bush and Sandra Day O’Connor. When the fireball cons like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich and George W Bush became the face of the American conservative movement, most of us forgot about Will and his bow-ties and boring baseball analogies. So color me shocked that he wrote such an inflammatory piece defending Rape Culture. I’m not surprised, though, that he would defend Rape Culture and mock survivors or say that most claims of rape are faked in order to “elevate the status” of college women – just that he would go all out in 2014. Because whether or not we’re aware of it, Rape Culture is alive…

View original 1,130 more words

202: The Nature of the War

“Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:14-26

New International Version

"Hill of the Cross"

“Hill of the Cross”

God is still speaking.

When I vacated the social media world several weeks ago, it was for a reason. I was under a lot of stress due to interpersonal issues that ranged from in-laws to internet trolls, and I was also experiencing a move of the Spirit. Specifically, a move that has culminated in a series of revelations and prophecies that are intertwined with the lesson on spiritual warfare I am posting today. Per scripture, I would ask that you test whatever I write against the Word since 1) I could be wrong, 2) I only have one part of the larger picture, and 3) if I am wrong I would rather know now than later down the road after inadvertently leading people astray.

That would be bad.

Disclaimers aside, for the last several weeks God has been teaching me about the more insidious aspects of His war with The Enemy. Namely, how The Enemy works to manipulate and deceive humanity into aiding him in furthering his agendas, and accomplishing is various goals in so far as it concerns his quest to usurp God and destroy the human race. I did not understand why God kept hammering that particular passage of scripture to me, (the one I emboldened at the beginning of this post), until two events that He used to reveal to me what He called ‘the nature of the war’.

Today, we are going to discuss the first.

When I first became a Christian back in 2004-05, God spent most of His time growing and developing my spiritual gifts, as well as my understanding of the more supernatural aspects of our world (read: demonic warfare). I typically refer to this part of the metaphysic as the ‘dog-and-pony show’, because that is what it is – a dog-and-pony show, and no I am not making light. I will be the first to tell you that the demonic is not only real, but has the potential to be incredibly dangerous if not outright deadly depending on what you are dealing with. I have seen demons, I have been attacked by demons, and yet while they are a very real aspect of The Establishment (read: Kingdom of The Enemy) they are nowhere near as organized and calculating as their leader.

As I have progressed in my walk, God began teaching me about the true meaning of the Law of Love (Agape), and the importance of testing what we see and hear against that Law in order to discern whether or not the things we take into our psychological and spiritual environment are of Him or not. Using my training as a rhetorician, He has also introduced the importance of context when interpreting scripture, coupled with the necessity of understanding the sociocultural and political environment the Bible was written in as a means for grasping the meaning and intent of the author. A necessity when dealing with the various half-truths and heresies currently peppering the Christian faith.

(In a later post I will be discussing how my training as a rhetorician is influenced by my faith and vice-versa in so far as it relates to the role language plays in our interpretation of reality, and the ways in which we define ourselves both individually and collectively as a species.)

Looking back it is now clear those lessons and experiences were leading to where I am today, and with that knowledge in hand I can only wonder where this will lead tomorrow. For the moment it involves listening, learning, and sharing what I have been told since God is also hammering the need for Christians to both mature and develop a more practical and pragmatic approach to their relationship with Him. In essence, the time is coming for The Body to grow into the remnant spoken of in Revelations since the rubber is starting to hit the road on a global scale. While we do not know the time or hour, per scripture, we do know that preparation is long overdue.

Which leads us to the subject of this post.

This time around God appears to be teaching His people about the nature of His war with The Enemy, or rather the way The Enemy wages war against God and humanity. It has, for the last few months, involved that line of scripture from Timothy regarding The Enemy taking people’s minds captive, and my understanding of it came about during a series of highly improbable events. As  I write this, somewhere in Anchorage, AK the folks from Westboro Baptist Church are staging protests against everything from the Alaska Native Heritage Center to the Anchorage Baptist Temple.

No, the irony on that last target is not lost on me, but I digress…

It was while I was thinking about the way Westboro targets people that I realized that it would be very easy for someone like myself, namely someone well-versed in rhetorical tactics, to not only appeal to the likes of Westboro, but possibly even manipulate them into doing my bidding. All it would take, honestly, is a well-written letter using the language that appeals to their particular spiritual and psychological strongholds, and a target of my choosing. It would be easy to direct and use them to attack people in enmity with myself, and I could do it without dirtying my hands in the process. Given their volatile and hostile nature which readily discredits Westboro as a whole, it would be easy to enact plausible deniability by citing my own seemingly righteous character to cast doubt on any assertions that I was behind the entire scheme.

It was disturbing as it was logical, and as I followed this train of thought to its natural conclusion I realized that if the agenda was to discredit God while attacking and demonizing others it could all be accomplished with relative ease. It was in that moment that God spoke into my spirit that I had glimpsed part of the nature of the war, and immediately it was as if the blinders had come off. Looking at the world in the weeks following that revelation, I realize that particular MO is in operation everywhere, and humans are playing into it in both secular and religious society.

How many times have we been told that some act of disinformation was for ‘the greater good’ or ‘the good of the faith’ when it does neither?

Later, after being shown this I re-read the four gospels and realized that the best Biblical example of this dynamic lies in the interactions between Jesus and the Pharisees. Within that dichotomy were two factions at work. The first were the ones Jesus routinely called out for being vipers who were purposely manipulating the deeply held faith of their own people in order to maintain their positions of power. The second were those who were unknowingly perpetuating these agendas because they believed them to be correct. The Pharisees who conspired to kill Jesus for threatening the status quo would be of the former while Paul would be part of the latter.

Paul did not know he was part of a greater lie being perpetrated by those in power until his encounter with God on the road to Damascus, and the truth was revealed to him. Notice how in his writing following that event he routinely speaks of and warns future generations about corruption, disinformation, and other unethical practices designed to co-opt the teachings of Christ to advance certain sociopolitical and economic agendas – the very same things we are seeing in the church today!

As Solomon once observed, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9, NIV), and therefore it stands to reason that we are dealing with people who have been deceived into false righteousness by those who know full well that what they are teaching is heretical as it is blasphemous. Why? To advance their agendas instead of those of God in the name of power, prominence, and control. Like their true god, which is the Father of Lies, when confronted with their obvious sin those who perpetuate these fallacies immediately shift the attention to their patsies the same way The Enemy shifts attention from himself to his demonic legions while glorifying their own righteousness. If that doesn’t work then the messenger is killed lest they successfully cost those benefiting from this demonic paradigm their base of power.

Jesus is the most famous example of this, but there are countless other examples of martyrdom by the powers that be in both the religious and secular world. Their crime? Revealing the truth of God and exposing the schemes of The Enemy to those who are being manipulated and controlled by the latter. Specifically, those who are knowingly manipulating and controlling others in order to advance themselves and their various agendas. It has been happening since the beginning of time, and -

It is the nature of the war.

- RJK

 

…Into The Horizon

Normally, this is where I would open with a quote from scripture, but this post is going to be short and sweet – I deleted my Facebook account. If you’re wondering WHY on EARTH a blogger would do such a thing, then look no further than this entry. Specifically, look at my very valid reasons which include 1) needing a break from social media, 2) burnout from dealing with angry trolls, and 3) dealing with some major moves in the Spirit courtesy of an interactive and personal God. Actually, make that last one number one and rearrange as you see fit, but that basically summarizes why I have not been online, why my Facebook account (including the one for this page) is now defunct, and why I have way less stress than I did earlier in the spring.

Stay tuned…

 

RJK