Staying conservative, judge everything

In my readings I keep bumping into writings that seem just weird. New theology… come on, do we even understand the OLD theology we have been given?

The “apostolic” and “submission” theology particluarly worry me from a control and dominance perspective. I think church leaders who have been given the gift of leadership and who has a “lampstand” (like a light to shine) will automatically rise up and be followed. There is no need to control the people around you, if God has called you to lead, He will cause you to lead… with love and kindness (the fruit).

Some people are seeking spiritual experiences and some are trying to “bring God down” – as if we’re in charge and He is somehow limited by us and our prayers. To them I ask: if God can only do what we pray for… who prayed for the flood?

I’ve heard of people saying we should go into the spirit realm through doors. I’ve been to conferences on “open heavens” (and regretted it). I’ve bought and read countless books on how to come into intimacy with Him… to no real effect.

I want the experience of Him in my life, make no mistake, I don’t want to miss out. But I only want it in a way that He wants it, in a way that is scriptural.

Discerning the true

I remember being in a conference. The darkness, the discomfort, it was all too much. And the speaker is highly respected here in Australia! And to make matters worse, I had that week received prophetic words that God was about to reveal His “true heart” and that I should not ignore it (the word was NOT from a leader). I was sitting there hearing all this new theology stuff (and I have a pretty good knowledge of the bible, thank You Lord!) and they weren’t even quoting the bible. It felt new age.

And did I mention the darkness? And the lack of peace? When one of their women got up, she gave off such a power… it was just not the power that I associate with God. She felt dangerous… threatening. Another person began praying in tongues… and I almost couldn’t sit in my seat. I wanted to run out of the room!

I didn’t know what to do. Was it me? Was it them? I had no peace. The darkness really bothered me so much. If they were really moving so powerfully with the Holy Spirit, surely they would notice the darkness? Surely they would take action? How could they not know?
So I prayed and said to God…

if this is Your new wineskin, then I am sad and sorry to say I don’t see how I can accept it. I guess it will have to pass me by. According to me, Your word says that LOVE is the most important thing and these people have not mentioned love even once. They appear to only be focussed on acquiring power Lord, where is the love?!

As the offering bucket came past the leader said something terribly manipulative and I really struggled with that. Would God’s Spirit manipulate me to get money out of me? God is SO rich… He wouldn’t manipulate me.

So I said to God:

I can’t stay here, I am so sorry. I don’t know if this is You or not. I am totally confused. But I do know, that You have said that Your will is contained in the word love, so I am sorry if I get this wrong, but I choose to go out to a nearby cafe (I will leave the conference) and find someone to love and care for. I don’t know about this stuff, but I do know Your will… to love.

As I made this decision, I felt peace descend on me like a river. A flood. I had made the right choice. I left and spent time building up a friend, we went back to my prayer room and spent some time worshipping God with that friend… and that friend came closer to the Lord that night.

It really bothers me to read some of these writings and to hear the teachings. I often hear these weird teachings and I think of that bible verse where it says “doctrines that demons teach” – meaning that we’ve learned how to do deliverance NOT from the bible, but from interrogating a demon when it’s being removed and sent away.

Why would we learn from something that is going to lie to us? Why not just learn from the bible?

I think that Romans, Ephesians and Colossians contain more than enough meat in them, that we don’t need to go looking for anything else “new” to chew on.

Every revival simply goes deeper into what we already know and understand about the bible. Not one past revival has ever added to the bible.

Extra-biblical teaching

I am deeply concerned at the amount of extra-biblical teaching going on. The way I resolve this is to read about entering into the things that the OT said Jesus would do for us (take away the sins of the world) and then find out what He said about it and then read about what Paul and the disciples have to say about it. I prefer conservative.

So my top strategies are:

  1. If it’s theology you’ve never heard before and it’s in the OT, in Jesus’ teachings and in the NT too… it’s probably ok.
  2. If it’s in the “extra” books of the bible, avoid it.
  3. If the book you’re reading contains quotes from the “extra” books in the bible, don’t read it.
  4. If you’re at a church and it feels weird, just leave.
  5. If the place (or the people) seem dark, controlling, manipulative, angry or dangerous, then leave.

Look for the fruit of the Spirit

God once said to me “follow the peace”, meaning, do I have peace about this? If not, be careful. If I do, then proceed with caution.

The fruit of the Spirit – and of people who have lots of the Holy Spirit – will always be peace, love and so on. Now that’s not to say that they won’t have a bad day (or month) but still, even when they are angry they won’t remain like that forever. They will grow and change and heal.

The goal is love… not teaching

And when I’m in doubt and confused, I simply remember that His command is to love, the whole law is fulfilled by love. If you’re confused by what to believe or where to fellowship, just remember… the greatest of all of these things is to love. You can’t go wrong.

Timothy put it so well…

Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love,

which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith.

But certain individuals have missed the mark on this very matter [and] have wandered away into vain arguments and discussions and purposeless talk. They are ambitious to be doctors of the Law (teachers of the Mosaic ritual), but they have no understanding either of the words and terms they use or of the subjects about which they make [such] dogmatic assertions. – 1 Timothy 1:5-7

A very intellectual discussion of this verse (saying that it’s about love, not teaching for the sake of teaching) can be found here.

4 responses to “Staying conservative, judge everything

  1. Hi John

    Mmmm… I wondered if my choice of words would confuse anyone.

    I have learned from an elder to listen to the “tongues” that people /anyone uses. If it’s God, it won’t have a dark or evil feel to it.

    If it’s from God then sometimes the “tongue” is like a song, sometimes it’s strong and commanding – but the fruit is always good. God can be scary and overwhelming – after all, frequently the first words from an angel in the bible was “do not be afraid”. hehehe.

    But if the “tongue” strips me of all peace and makes me feel extremely agitated – as her tongue did, then I have strong and “fruitful” reason to doubt this is of God.

    I don’t say tongues are bad. Just that in my evaluation (as the hearer we are to judge) I felt this was not ok. Combined with the darkness and the manipulation and the total focus on power and lack of talking about love… I decided to leave.

    In this time I am seeing more and more rubbish teaching and when that is combined with apostolic and submission theology (meaning a Christian could be called “out of order” if they refused to participate) then this is a dangerous coctail because the person is not permitted to disagree or protect themselves. I have been in churches like this.

    So my post is intended to say to readers – look for the fruit and if the fruit is NOT there, then get away and out. When a reader is confused, just love. His command was to love.

    Bless you,

  2. Excellent post, Mark. With love as your guide, you’re not going wrong. You mentioned tongues in this, Mark; that a woman began praying in tongues. I’m curious as to why you associate the praying in tongues with the evil feelings you felt at this conference?

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