30 March 2012

Greg Laurie and Harvest America Seek 500,000 "Professions of Faith"

Is a profession of faith more sincere when made amid a large crowd and emotionally manipulative music? If God, through His Holy Spirit, is drawing someone to Himself, will that work be hindered simply because that person is not in the right environment?

Questions such as these are important to ask in light of a new effort being put forth by Greg Laurie and his Harvest Crusades. The Press-Enterprise reports:
Riverside-based Harvest Crusades is launching an ambitious expansion that organizers hope will bring its annual evangelical gathering at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to 1,000 venues nationwide via satellite and high-definition webcasts. 
About 165,000 people attended Harvest crusades last year in Anaheim and at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, making them among the biggest evangelical events in the country. 
But crusade organizers are estimating that the new “Harvest America” effort, formally unveiled Tuesday at a luncheon at Angel Stadium, could attract 5 million participants over the next three years to churches, arenas and theatres. 
“We think this could be our future,” said the Rev. John Collins, executive crusade director for Harvest. 
More than 250 churches — some with sophisticated, high-tech big screens and other equipment — already have signed up to hold events centered on the Aug. 26 crusade at Angel Stadium, he said. Many of the venues are expected to localize the event with live bands and preaching by local pastors, he said. 
The 12,000-member Harvest Bible Chapel, which has six campuses in the Chicago area, is starting to prepare for the event, said the Rev. Brian Bement, who is coordinating the church’s participation. 
“We’re excited that, given the current technology, there’s an opportunity to spread the word of God through Pastor Greg Laurie, who has a clear gift of evangelism,” he said.(Online Source)
Why the desire to clone this experience across the country?
Holding the event live adds to the energy, said the Rev. Thom O’Leary, pastor of the 1,400-member Mountainbrook Community Church in San Luis Obispo. 
“It’s pretty cool that we’ll be experiencing this at the exact same time as at Anaheim stadium,” said O’Leary, whose church will have a live band perform before the webcast. “You’re a part of the vibe.” 
Even though hundreds of thousands of people have watched the crusades online since 1997, it is more effective to have them experience the event with others, Laurie said in an interview after Tuesday’s luncheon. 
Just as Christians who attend the Anaheim crusade are encouraged to bring non-believing family, friends and neighbors with them, Christians who attend the webcasts nationwide will be urged to invite non-believers to events at their local churches, Laurie said. Those who view the crusade with friends are more likely to make a profession of faith in Christ than people who watch the crusade alone on a computer, he said. (Online Source, emphasis added)
Are we to believe, then, that if God has ordained for one to be saved, the Holy Spirit can only work in a more effective manner when that one is in a large crowd of people? Are we really to believe that God cannot save someone who is watching at home "alone on a computer?" Or are the comments above indicative of a larger problem in evangelicalism today?

On any given Sunday across America, "worship experiences" are taking place where once the saints gathered together for church. Where once the worship was designed to please God, now it appears to be fashioned as something for man to "experience." Today, flashing lights, "relevant" messages and emotionally driven music are strategically executed in order to deliver the product: professions of faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, if spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly the main goal, is the "experience" necessary? Or does one only need to be true and faithful to preach the Gospel without compromise? Surely the Holy Spirit does not need "the vibe" of a large stadium event in order to draw people unto Himself!

Laurie, who also pastors Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California, states in this same article, as well as on the Harvest America website, that "Harvest's goal is to have 500,000 people nationwide profess their faith in Jesus over the next three years as a result of the live-stream events, more than have done so in the 22 years of the crusades."

This sounds like a noble goal, but the statement raises questions. What if God has ordained a different number, larger or smaller, than 500,000? And what if God is seeking actual conversions rather than "professions of faith?"

The Harvest Ministries website clearly defines what they interpret a "profession of faith" to be:
What does the term "profession of faith" mean? Is it the same as a conversion? 
We believe that only God has the power to "convert" a heart to Himself. We use the term "profession of faith" to indicate that a person made a public, formal profession of a desire to follow Christ and live by His Word (whether that be a first-time commitment or a recommitment). While many of these people will be discipled, grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and bear lasting fruit, we know that this is a matter of the heart and some will not continue on in the Christian faith (see Matthew 13). This is the reason that there is a follow-up process in place—to ensure that as many as possible are given all the tools and biblical counsel that they need, and are also prayed for. (Online Source)
It is moderately reassuring that Harvest Ministries recognizes that not all professions of faith are true and lasting. Nevertheless, it is still these professions that they seek to record at the upcoming Harvest America events. One tends to wonder, if not one person walked the aisle at a Harvest America event, and the 500,000 goal was not met, yet there was one - only one - person who remained seated, was convicted of his sin and repented and trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation and for the forgiveness of his sins, would the event still be deemed a success?

Of note is that, within this article at the Press-Enterprise, it is acknowledged that many of these event-driven "professions" may not "stick," however the reason for this lack of efficacy appears to be a bit misguided.
Holding Harvest America events in churches close to participants’ homes may lead to more long-term conversions rather than spur-of-the-moment declarations of faith in Jesus at big stadiums that may quickly fade, said Kurt Fredrickson, an associate dean at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical institution in Pasadena. 
At the end of each night of the crusade, thousands of people typically walk onto the field of Angel Stadium to announce their faith in Jesus, but Fredrickson wonders how many of those decisions stick. (Online Source)
The above seems to hypothesize that those who will immediately have a nearby church to attend may "stick" to their profession of faith longer. It is true, the Christian walk is a lifetime one, but there are many people within churches who appear to walk that walk without ever having been truly saved by repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Too many people have been misdirected to believe that attending church and getting "plugged in" and "doing life" in "community" means that they are saved. While being a part of a biblically-centered church ought to be the desire of every believer, the act of consistently attending the church will not save, nor is it necessarily indicative of one's salvation. Plenty of pews are warmed each week by those who have never heard the gospel of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Too many professing Christians spend all but 2 hours a week living like heathens, only to "wipe the slate clean" on a Sunday morning. Too many have been woefully deceived. Sadly, those who are deceived are often in this state due to a one-time, emotionally-high experience.

It might be suggested, then, that it would be more beneficial for Laurie and his team to focus on clear, unambiguous Gospel preaching as a means of true conversion rather than as a means of logging a number of mere mouthed professions.

As was asked earlier, if the goal of 500,000 professions is not met, yet only one soul is saved in the span of 3 years, will the event still be deemed a success? One would hope so.
Let us settle it in our minds that it will never do to be content with merely hearing and liking the gospel. We must go further than this. We must actually repent and be converted.
- J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 115.

The Gooey Mess that is American "Christianity"

This 'n' That

Well, anticipation is building as we rapidly approach Escalator Church's first Easter Extravaganza. While we don't want to spoil any surprises, we can confirm that our theme and focus for this year will be similar to what we are seeing in some of America's most prominent mega churches. What might that theme be? Well, you, of course! We know, we know, Easter is supposed to be a time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, but that doesn't mean that you should be ignored! Come dressed in your finest, ready to take advantage of our instant photo booth, which offers backgrounds that will put you right into that first Easter story! If you have children, come early to participate in our irreverent sanctuary Easter egg hunt. Not only will your kids be filled with joy at the sugary goodness that awaits them in each plastic egg, but they will also find a note in each one with an encouraging word that will inspire them to feel better about themselves. Yes, Escalator Church will strive to make this Easter your best one ever!

Okay, enough silliness. Here's your week in review (kind of):
  • I have not seen October Baby, but Justin Edwards has. He shares his thoughts here.
  • Upon examination, it seems the recent events surrounding Mark Driscoll actually indicate a promotion.
  • For the record, I like Ray Comfort and his ministry, The Way of the Master. Still, I found this article by Jesse Johnson to be interesting and helpful, as it shares some valid concerns about TWOTM.
  • An openly gay pastor has been selected to lead a large Lutheran (ELCA) church in Minnesota. Sigh...
  • Dan Philips offers some thoughts as the newly installed pastor of Copperfield Bible Church in Houston.
  • The authority of the Gospel:

28 March 2012

Mark Driscoll Resigns from The Gospel Coalition Council

Almost immediately following the announcement that Mark Driscoll is handing the presidency of the Acts 29 Network over to Matt Chandler comes the following news from D.A. Carson and The Gospel Coalition:
Driscoll Steps Down from TGC Council 
Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle has recently announced he is stepping down from the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Mark let us know in advance of his intentions, part of a major reorganization of his priorities and a changing of the guard in Acts 29. We are saddened by his departure but understand that all busy people must establish priorities. 

The Council is grateful to Mark for his contributions to TGC during the past decade. In the months and years ahead, we will certainly be praying for him, his family, and the ministries he influences. (Online Source)
Carson has provided Driscoll's letter to TGC in his post here, wherein Driscoll offers his reasons for resigning.

It will certainly be interesting to see where all of this leads.

**UPDATE** 29 March 2012

Mark Driscoll has posted a detailed account of "what's next" for him here.

Matt Chandler Assumes Presidency of Acts 29 Network

Matt Chandler Assumes Presidency of Acts 29 Network

Mark Driscoll has handed over the reins of the Acts 29 Network to Matt Chandler. Though the gossip was already swirling last night on Facebook and Twitter, social media reports were confirmed this morning when Driscoll posted the following on the Acts 29 blog:

Recently, I sensed that not all was well in Acts 29. As my concerns grew, I recently resumed the presidency of Acts 29 to work directly with our network captains, most influential pastors, and staff. It seemed to me that some of our relationships, board size and structure, communication, systems, and such were not as effective as we needed, which is to be expected to some degree in a large, complex, fast-growing entrepreneurial network such as ours. 
Seeking wise counsel, I asked Darrin Patrick and Matt Chandler to fly to Seattle in order to meet with the executive elders of Mars Hill for a full day to decide a course of action. They graciously did so, and in our time together was a rich, true brotherhood, a renewed and deepened commitment to Acts 29, and a Spirit-lead unity. 
Together, we decided, in light of all the complexity we’re facing, that the best thing for Acts 29 going forward would be for Matt Chandler to assume the presidency, move the network offices to Dallas, and select his Acts 29 staff. 
In light of this, I want to sincerely thank the people of Mars Hill for investing millions of dollars over the years in Acts 29 and the people of The Village for being willing to house the Acts 29 headquarters.
Read more here.
Though not yet officially or publicly acknowledged by Acts 29, the following letter from Matt Chandler (as posted on the Phoenix Preacher blog) also was reportedly sent to Acts 29 pastors:
I am greatly humbled by the opportunity to serve our great God and King, as well as our movement, in the capacity of president of Acts 29. Our meeting in Seattle couldn’t have been more Spirit-empowered and unifying than it was, and I flew home excited and invigorated by the opportunities that are before us. There are few things that excite me like planting churches and seeing people come to know, love, and mature in Christ. So, this task allows me to serve in an area of my passion. I want to update you on what’s in our immediate future. 
We are in the process of transitioning Acts 29 from Seattle to Dallas. At present that involves gathering all of the information we can on Acts 29’s budget, processes, setting up Acts 29 legally in Texas, etc. 
Men, I really believe we have been positioned by God to be a part of a spectacular move of his Spirit in our day. It’s with great anticipation and holy fear that I step out to help lead us into what God would have for us. Please let me know how we can serve you.
Continue reading here.
No doubt many will speculate that this is due at least in part to the recent accusations of spiritual abuse against Mars Hill Church by a former elder and his wife as well as those made by a former member. At this time, however, there is no legitimate indication that this is the case. Some may even wonder if the controversial events surrounding the Elephant Room 2 led to this decision. It is clear, after all, that ER2 has made more than just gentle waves within both Acts 29 and Harvest Bible Fellowship. It will indeed be interesting to watch what happens with Acts 29 under this new leadership.

Matt Chandler to be New President of Acts 29 Network (Apprising Ministries)
"Code Orange" Speaker Matt Chandler
ER2 Claims First Acts 29 Casualty

26 March 2012

What's Theology Got to Do With It?

Over the weekend, Kevin Gerald, pastor of Champions Centre, tweeted the following:

(Online Source)
At the time, I sighed to myself and thought, "Well, there's a shock." This morning, my friend Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith reminded me of Gerald's tweet (you can hear Rosebrough's response to the tweet here). This time I thought, "It's a good thing that Kevin Gerald doesn't think theology matters, because that statement is full of bad theology!"

Consider a couple of things. First, if theology doesn't matter at all, and all we need to worry about is loving people, then there's really no point in evangelizing, is there? After all, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, atheists, each have really bad theology! So if theology doesn't matter, then why would Christians be spending so much time trying to fulfill the Great Commission?

This brings us to our second point. In Matthew 28, we read the following:
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Jesus commanded that we teach others "to observe all that I have commanded you." During His three years of earthly ministry, did Jesus ever once say, "Hey, guys, I know that I'm the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. And I know that one day, as prophesied long ago, I will be crucified for the sins of all who will believe and that three days later I will rise again. But, the truth is, it doesn't matter what all of you actually end up believing about me. Just be nice and be good. Love people. It will all shake out in the end."

Admittedly, I have not yet checked The Message translation on this, but as far as my biblical knowledge goes, Jesus never said anything like this. In fact, everything that Jesus commanded and taught His disciples was theology, and correct theology at that. So Code Orange speaker Kevin Gerald has a problem.

If we really want to "#lovepeople," then we will strive to teach them correct theology as found in God's Word. To do anything else would be quite unloving, for in not correcting one's erroneous doctrine, you may find yourself "loving" that person all the way to their eternal condemnation.

More Hypocrisy (from Possessing the Treasure)
False Doctrine Destroys Christian Unity (from Better Than Sacrifice

25 March 2012

Sunday Morning Praise: Amazing Grace

Has it ever just hit you? Your unworthiness. Your wretchedness.

The Apostle Paul felt this.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25)
Have you ever stopped where you stood and been reminded of your absolute undeserving character? Have you ever knelt before God and been struck by the near-preposterous nature of the situation? Who are we to approach the throne of a pure, undefiled, holy, righteous and just God? Who are we to possess His grace?

Grace. Have you ever pondered how undeserving you are to receive not just God's saving grace, but even His common grace and blessings? Who are we to be privy to the beauty of a sunset? Who are we to be allowed to awake another day, to share the love of family and friends, to rest in the cool breeze of evening? Who...are...we?

Ah, but that is the wrong question. The question is not, "who are we?" Rather, the question is, "who is Christ?"
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11)
Amazing grace indeed.

24 March 2012

Scripture is the Fountainhead of Truth

In the days of [William] Farel, when Bibles were kept out of sight, Satan could by his servants teach sin and folly, without any need to mix up evil with good to disguise his work. Men did not know in the pitch darkness of those days that the most utter folly was untrue. But now, when you all have Bibles, Satan works in another way. He puts the good and evil together in a book - it may be in a hymn book or a sermon - so skillfully, and so smoothly that you will think it good, and beautiful, and wise, and only God can keep you from these traps and snares. Farel in later years wrote these words, which I would have you to remember as long as you live, "I pray all those who love Jesus Christ, who alone is the Truth, that they do not blame me if I refuse to put the most ancient and honored teachers in the same rank as the Holy Scriptures, and if, when I read their writings, I search diligently in the Scriptures to see whether they have told the truth or not. Far be it from me to contradict any great and holy teacher who speaks the truth; on the contrary, the smallest and meanest person, if he speaks the truth, ought not to be contradicted upon any account whatsoever. I only ask that the truth they speak should be manifestly proved and maintained by the Holy Scripture and maintained by us, because we find it there; for the Scripture is very sure, and says nothing but that which is true, and which everybody ought to receive and to hold fast; but every single thing which cannot be proved by Scripture has no weight, no place, no authority in the worship and service of God. Christ is the Truth; He alone is the One who ought to be listened to. We must not turn to look at any other, nor attend to what any man whatever may do and say, but follow Christ, and Christ only. And if we doubt whether anything we are told by men is really what Christ has said and commanded, we are to turn to the Holy Scriptures, which are the fountainhead, from which God intends we should draw forth all truth. We should find out there what Christ really did say, and according to that we should hold fast, believing it and doing it, without adding to it or diminishing from it, nor twisting it this way and that, to right or to left, but simply obeying it." Well would it be if all people calling themselves Christians had walked by this rule!
- Frances Bevan, The Life of William Farel, 20-21. 

23 March 2012

This 'n' That

As April 8 sneaks rapidly upon us, we here at Escalator Church are working furiously to finalize plans for our 2012 Easter Extravaganza. Even though we cannot yet afford to hold services at the local sports stadium, this year's event promises to rival some of the greatest Easter stunts of recent American evangelical history. No, we won't be forcing you to wear 3-D glasses throughout the service, and we aren't so childish as to ask the Easter Bunny to hop up and down the aisles. But we promise that you will be entertained and that you will leave and wander off to Easter brunch feeling wonderful about yourself and knowing that you are special. Oh, and you will also briefly be reminded that Jesus died for your sin and rose again on the third day. Don't fret, however, we most assuredly will not dwell long on the idea of "sin," because we know that it would only ruin the bright, sunny mood of this Spring day.

Ladies, it's well known that an Easter service often causes you to break out the pastels and whites in your wardrobe. While we do not wish to spoil any surprises, we would like to warn you that there is a potential that Silly String and/or "Flying Peeps" will be involved in the service. Escalator Church assumes no liability for any damaged clothing, and will not reimburse any dry cleaning costs that may be incurred. We will, however, offer plastic rain ponchos, and we encourage you to take one and wear it should you be fearful of your Easter best being ruined by any of our activities or illustrations.

Bring your friends, this promises to be the best Easter Extravaganza ever! For now, though, focus on today and peruse your week in review (kind of):
  • Phil Johnson discusses the importance of boundaries.
  • A California pastor will hold his Easter service at a local mosque. (No, it isn't Rick Warren, so don't even bother with that in the comment thread). Ironically, the pastor doesn't even believe in Jesus' resurrection, so I'm not sure I see the point of even holding an Easter service...
  • Some of you may have noticed in the comment thread of this post that a special "men only" prayer service was held a couple weeks ago at Harvest Bible Chapel. This post offers some insight into what was said that evening, however it is important to note that the author of that post was not actually present.
  • If you were unable to watch the live stream of the Shepherd's Conference, video of the general sessions are now online and available here

22 March 2012

"We Want It NOW!"

Parents, would you let your child speak to you like this?

Hopefully not. Yet here we see Rob DeLuca of His Way Church encouraging a child to speak in this irreverent manner to the holy God of the universe. Blasphemous.

Steven Furtick and the Presence 2012 Conference

It seems that April 10-13 will be a time of "fresh anointing, enlarged vision and amazing empowerment" in Sydney, Australia. The Presence Conference, sponsored by Phil Pringle and C3 Church, plans to make waves at Darling Harbour during these days. The powers behind Presence describe their expectations thusly:
We believe that as we gather together at Presence the heavens will be opened over your life and you will experience a greater outpouring of his anointing, blessing, vision and miracles. (Online Source)

This offers a vivid picture of the event and is in fact very telling of the direction in which the speakers at Presence will likely wander. Scheduled speakers for Presence 2012 include Phil and Chris Pringle, Kong Hee, John Bevere and Steven Furtick. In understanding the doctrine that is held by the Pringles, Hee and Bevere, it may cause one to question why Steven Furtick, who has been embraced by leaders within America's evangelical community, would choose to participate in this event. The description provided above already betrays its Word Faith intentions, and Furtick's fellow speakers undoubtedly perpetuate these erroneous doctrines in their own ministries.

Phil Pringle, senior pastor of C3 Church and the architect behind Presence, clearly and unashamedly teaches things such as positive confession, visualization, the power of attraction and the prosperity gospel. At the blog C3 Church Watch, Pringle's teachings are compared against those of Rhonda Byrne, author of the New Age bestseller The Secret. The similarities are startling, and should cause concern to rise within any Christian. Below, Pringle's teaching on visualization is compared with that of Byrne:
Ronda Byrne also teaches on visualisation: 
“Visualization is the process of creating pictures in your mind of yourself enjoying what you want. When you visualize, you generate powerful thoughts and feelings of having it now. The law of attraction then returns that reality to you, just as you saw it in your mind.” - Rhonda Byrne, The Secret, 2006, pg 93. 
Pringle also teaches on visualisation (watch how he approaches scriptures with his experiences): 
“A long after that experience, I looked back and realized that many of the elements I had seem in the imaginations in my mind were a duplicate of what actually happened [sic]. I had stumbled on to a principle of God. As I investigated the Scriptures, it became obvious to me that God spoke to His servants from the beginning of time through visions and dreams. Here we’re looking at the vision of faith. As soon as a real faith for anything arrives in your heart, you will see that thing.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 94-97. 
“In Ephesians 3:20 Paul says that “God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” The Greek word for “think” here is “no’eo.” This literally means “to conceive and perceive.” Once we are visualizing some-thing, God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above it.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 103. 
“Gods movies [sic]. There is a screen within our mind upon which three projectors are jostling for prime time… He [God] has a projector with a preset, wonderful destiny as the main feature. As we enter the Spirit through praise and worship, God will form His vision within our thinking. We pray the prayer of faith. The vision of the answer comes to mind and we see it, in living colour… Once the vision of the fulfillment of your dream has been planted in your mind, bring it to your prayer life. Each time you pray bring the picture to mind and meditate on it. See it happening. Destroy all the images of failure. Replace them with the image of success. 
Right now in my life I spend much time dreaming over my visions of faith. I know this works. I would be a fool to ignore it. Remember, one of the mightiest keys in the Kingdom of Heaven is faith. Vision is a major part of faith, for we walk by faith and not by sight. Faith is directly contrasted to natural eye sight.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 103.
(Online Source
C3 Church Watch also offers insight into some of Phil Pringle's teaching on prosperity and tithing. Unsurprisingly, he falls in line with so many seeker-driven pastors today who teach that one's money is cursed until it is redeemed with the tithe:
“When Paul told the Philippians that God would supply all their need… their generosity would trigger one of the most powerful spiritual laws in existence. It is the law that the widow of Zarephath discovered when Elijah told her to give away her last meal… For the provision of God constantly to be at work in our lives we must activate the laws of God.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 153. 
These are the giving laws recognised in the Word of Faith Movement such as the ‘tithe’ and ‘seed faith’ heresies. Believers are taught to obey these so they may be graced or favoured with the Gods miracles. This is salvation by works. As a result, Pringle curses Christians by the very ‘faith’ he says we must live by. 
“This especially applies in the world of tithing. Tithing in one sense is not actually giving. The tithe belongs to God, not to us. Malachi the prophet says that when we keep the tithe we are actually “robbing God”.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 155. 
“When we withhold the tithe we bring upon ourselves a curse.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 156. 
“Thirdly, WHEN we sow determines when we will reap. We need to sow well before we plan to reap. The time to sow is not when you have a need. You are to be constantly sowing your world with generous actions of faith. Oral Roberts has called this “seed faith”. Anyone who plants a seed has faith that it will become a plant in time. We all realize that it’s not going to happen overnight, but faith and patience inherit the promises of God.” – Phil Pringle, Faith, 2001, pg 156-157.
(Online Source)
The teachings of Phil Pringle, then, are indeed some to be carefully watched. In the March 17, 2012 episode of Fighting for the Faith, Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough offers a helpful critique of a recent Phil Pringle sermon (the sermon review begins about 1 hour in). The reader is encouraged to listen and come to understand the methods being employed by Pringle in his teaching.

Kong Hee is another speaker scheduled to appear at Presence 2012. Hee was examined briefly in the post, T.D. Jakes Joins Fellow Word Faither-ers at Vision 2012, wherein it was noted,
Hee pastors City Harvest Church in Singapore. His biography on the Vision 2012 website reads as follows:
Kong Hee is the founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church (CHC), Singapore—a Spirit-filled Pentecostal church that was birthed in 1989. With just 20 members at its inception, the church has grown to an average weekly attendance of over 24,000 members today with 71 percent first-time converts. 
Through his visionary leadership, CHC has become widely known as one of the most dynamic and innovative churches in the Far East. The keys to the remarkable growth experienced by City Harvest Church are vision, faith, commitment, a desire for excellence and effective discipleship. 
After more than two decades of pastoral ministry and training disciples for the kingdom of Christ, Kong maintains a passion to see lives changed by building contemporary, relevant and anointed strong local churches in Asia. (Online Source)
It is not difficult to see why Hee's church grew to such a large capacity. Clearly he is a man who teaches exactly what the people want to hear. The video below shares a full-length message delivered by Kong Hee entitled, "Nine Reasons Why Jesus Was Not Poor:" 

Some interesting points to note in this "sermon" are Hee's claims at approximately the 7:50 minute mark that, "[Jesus] would take you out to a nice restaurant! [Our Jesus] is not a cheapskate Jesus!" Or perhaps the reader would be curious to hear Hee's rather interesting interpretation of the feeding of the 5,000 (approximately 9 minutes in).  

Some more notable Scripture twists in this message are: at approximately 24 minutes in, Hee perverts 2 Corinthians 8:9; and at 31 minutes and following, Hee declares, "If we worship a poor Savior, we will always be poor." Not long after this, he says, "prosperity and wealth are our rightful inheritance," and, "a poor Savior can't get you out of poverty," to which Hee adds a familiar distortion of the promise of the 30, 60 and 100-fold harvest (Matthew 13:8ff). Indeed, throughout the entirety of this sermon, Hee unapologetically, unflinchingly and unconscionably twists the holy Word of God.
Not surprisingly, Phil Pringle has preached at and even sits on the advisory board of Kong Hee's church in Singapore. It is clear that these two men share a similar theology, as well as corresponding goals and a shared "vision" for the church.

This brings us to John Bevere who, along with Steven Furtick, is named as a "featured guest" for Presence 2012. Bevere and his wife, Lisa, founded Messenger International. According to the website,
Messenger International exists to help individuals, families, churches, and nations realize and experience the transforming power of God’s Word. This realization will result in lives empowered, communities transformed, and a dynamic response to the injustices plaguing our world. (Online Source)
John Bevere has authored numerous books, including one entitled Relentless: The Power You Need to Never Give Up. Throughout this book, Bevere is found to consistently point the reader not to Jesus, but to him or herself. Greatly exaggerating the idea of the Christian's unity with Christ, Bevere states:
So the question now becomes, Who is Christ? this is where an unrenewed mind once again steals from the children of God. when many think of Christ, they think of only Jesus Christ, almost as if Christ is His last name. These dear people don't think of anyone else other than our Great King who died on the cross and was resurrected. yes, the name Christ does refer to our Lord and Savior, but let's see what God's Word says.
Paul tells us, "Now all of you together are Christ's body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27, NLT). We believers, together, are Christ's body. Each of us is a vital "body part." Jesus is the head, we are the body; it's that simple!
... When you think of yourself, do you think of your head as being separate from or different from your body? Would you call your head by one proper name and your body by a different proper name? Of course not. You are one being - one person.
In the same way, Christ's head and His body are one. Jesus is the head, and we are different parts of His body, so we are one in Christ. So when you read Christ in the New Testament, you need to see not just the One who died on the cross but also yourself.
(John Bevere, Relentless, 18, emphasis added)
In the book, Relentless, when Bevere describes a characteristic or function of Christ, he follows it up with some form of the question, "would you say the same thing about yourself?" This gives the impression of elevating the Christian nearly to a place of deity. Indeed, it tends to remind one of the blasphemous and heretical "little gods" doctrine of the Word Faith teachers.

In his well-known book, Charismatic Chaos, John MacArthur exposes the erroneous "little gods" doctrine.
[Kenneth] Hagin, whom most major Word Faith teachers acknowledge as a major influence in shaping their theology, has said, "If we ever wake up and realize who we are, we'll start doing the work that we're supposed to do. Because the church hasn't realized yet that they are Christ. That's who they are. They are Christ. (MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, 334).
It certainly seems from Bevere's quote above, and from even a brief perusal of his book, that he believes the Christian to be Christ, just as Hagin has asserted. MacArthur continues,
Thus have the Word Faith teachers deposed God and put the believer in his place. From that basic error nearly all their other fallacies flow. Why do they teach that health and prosperity are every Christian's divine right? Because in their system, Christians are gods, deserving of those things. Why do they teach that a believer's words have creative and determinative force? Because in their system, the believer is sovereign, not God. (Charismatic Chaos, 335)
Indeed, at the very least, Bevere believes that man is sovereign over the earth. While God has commanded man to "fill the earth, and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28), on page 16 of Relentless, Bevere takes this to mean that, "You and I, not God, are in control of how life is run on this planet." Yet, the Christian knows, and the Psalmist reminds us that,
The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers. (Psalm 24:1-2)
Herein lies the great danger of Bevere's earlier statement, that the believer actually is Christ. For if the earth is the Lord's, and the Christian is equal with God, then the logical conclusion is that man is sovereign over the earth. Indeed, if man is Christ, how much more authority must he possess? And thus we find one of the obvious thrusts of Relentless, that man must come to recognize, acknowledge and use the authority that has been granted him as one who is, in essence, Christ.

Knowing all of this, then, what ought one think of Steven Furtick's involvement in Presence 2012? Furtick has been lovingly embraced by leaders such as James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll. Yet, he has done little to hide his desire to grow his skills and influence among the Word Faith crowd. Furtick has lauded the work of infamous Word Faith teachers T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer. Many of Furtick's own sermons either hint at or in some instances, blatantly promote dangerous Word Faith teachings (examples of this can be found by visiting some of the links below). His special invitation to speak at Presence 2012, then, ought not surprise. However, it still should elicit concern. With its language of a "fresh anointing," and "vision and miracles," Presence 2012 appears to go beyond the familiar Word Faith teachings of "health and wealth," and into the realm of signs, wonders and manifestations.

It would most certainly be encouraging if those who who have embraced and promoted Steven Furtick as a trusted teacher of God's Word were to express concern and apprehension over his appearance at Presence. Yet those same men have themselves embraced another, T.D. Jakes, who for years has taught the heretical doctrines of the Word Faith movement. Thus the cry for "unity" continues to come at the expense of truth, and so the silence, though deafening, does not come unexpectedly.

Steven Furtick and Word Faith Heresy (Apprising Ministries)
Steven Furtick is Lookin' for the Favor
"The Steven Furtick Show" Now Playing at Harvest Bible Chapel
"We Can Work it Out:" Is Steven Furtick Qualified to Have this Conversation?
A Biblical Critique of T.D. Jakes' Code Orange Revival Sermon

20 March 2012

Does 'Daniel Plan' Co-Author Care More About Your Scale Than Your Soul?

Rick Warren's The Daniel Plan was big news in 2011. Today, in 2012, it has largely joined the ranks of other church campaigns and fads, such as the Prayer of Jabez, the Purpose-Driven Life, and whatever marketing campaign the latest "Christian" film has implemented. Yet, like so many other trends, every now and then The Daniel Plan shows up in the headlines offering some new, fresh advice or insight.

This week Dr. Daniel Amen, one of the co-authors of The Daniel Plan, offered some comments of interest. The Christian Post reports:
Are American churchgoers becoming too fat and unhealthy to practice their faith? One prominent doctor thinks so. 
Dr. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., co-author of The Daniel Plan at Saddleback Church and author of the new book Use Your Brain to Change Your Age, told The Christian Post that our brains use 25 percent of the calories we consume. 
"If you want your brain to be healthy, your food had [sic] to be. It's your brain that connects with God," he said. 
Amen also stressed that a lack of brain function increases your risk of sin. "You have to have good frontal lobe function to inhibit saying hurtful thing [sic] or having the discipline to show up at church or Bible study – optimizing brain function can bring you closer to God and community," he said. 
According to a media release, Amen said he had the sobering thought that "churches are sending people to heaven … early" when he saw donuts, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs at his church one Sunday. The church minister also mentioned a recent ice cream social. (Online Source, emphasis mine)
According to these remarks made by Amen, man's problem with sin ultimately is due to a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle. Consequently, a man's sin would be something that man could mend on his own by simply taking steps to improve "brain function." Unfortunately for Amen, the Bible would disagree. Man's sin problem is inherent, innate and incurable apart from Jesus Christ.
as it is written: 
“None is righteous, no, not one; 
no one understands; no one seeks for God. 
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; 
no one does good, not even one.” 
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” 
“The venom of asps is under their lips.” 
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” 
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21)
Even the healthiest, most well-rested, adequately exercised, and properly-fed individual is a sinner, and a wretched, wicked one at that. Without repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, the activity of a man's frontal lobe will not save him. Yet churches, in their efforts to reach the felt needs of the congregation, have opted to place their focus on programs that seek to strengthen the body at the expense of the soul.

While Amen and others decry the atrocity of the presence of doughnuts and coffee cake in the church kitchen, there is another abysmal diet being consumed by churchgoers. This is a diet rich in narcissism, self-help and conceit. This same diet is dreadfully lacking in biblical truth, doctrine and theology. As the Daniel Plan slims down bodies, it also starves the soul. In the end, those bodies will still die and decay, and though they will one day be resurrected, what good is a fit and trim body if it is merely housing a soul that has been damned?

The fact that The Daniel Plan originated in Saddleback Church, and has been led by "America's Pastor" Rick Warren makes Amen's statements even more tragic. Ought not a Christian pastor be more concerned with the state of the souls he shepherds? Of course, there is nothing wrong with striving to live a healthy lifestyle, but when dieting and exercise become the focus of a church campaign rather than the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, then clearly it is not just the congregation that is unhealthy, but rather the entire church and all of its components. The aforementioned Christian Post article ended, then, with a most appropriate question asked by Amen:
"Are churches going to be part of the problem or part of the solution?"
Sadly, the answer to this seems to be: many churches are the problem.

"Easy Button" Easy-Believism

The following article was written by Christian Research Network correspondent Justin Edwards of airĊ and appears in its entirety here.
Gutless Gracers’ Easy-believism 
Before and shortly after God saved me in March 2009, most of the websites I followed were primarily concerned with biblical prophecy. Naturally, most of these sites are dispensational and unfortunately have an unbiblical view on the doctrine of salvation (known as soteriology). Of course, these sites have a very unfavorable view (at best) of Calvinism, and they detest the doctrine of lordship salvation. 
Now, to be clear, I am a dispensationalist and Calvinist (of the Steven Lawson and John MacArthur type), so being a dispensationalist does not equate to rejecting lordship salvation or Calvinism (for you reformed saints who may think otherwise). In any case, one such website popular among online dispensationalists is Grace Thru Faith run by Jack Kelley. His website is also very popular at the Rapture Ready message board, where I used to be a moderator in my infant days (full disclosure here, save the tomatoes please). 
Having not thought much about Kelley’s website for some time since I grew out of these particular circles, I was quickly reminded of it when reading through chapter 10 of Pyromaniac Dan Phillips’ The World-Tilting Gospel. I remembered a few of the articles I had read years ago from Kelley and his destructive teaching of easy-believism. Ultimately, Kelley is of the type who believes saving faith does not result in a changed life. After reading Dan’s book last night, I think it’s pretty clear Jack Kelley might be called a “Gutless Gracer.”
Continue reading

The Word of God is Living

The following is excerpted from a sermon entitled, "The Talking Book," which was preached by Charles Spurgeon on October 22, 1871:
[T]he Word is living. How else could it be said: "It shall talk with thee"? A dead book cannot talk, nor can a dumb book speak. It is clearly a living book, then, and a speaking book: "The word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." How many of us have found this to be most certainly true! A large proportion of human books are long ago dead, and even shrivelled like Egyptian mummies; the mere course of years has rendered them worthless, their teaching is disproved, and they have no life for us. Entomb them in your public libraries if you will, but, henceforth, they will stir no man's pulse and warm no man's heart. But this thrice blessed book of God, though it has been extant among us these many hundreds of years, is immortal in its life, unwithering in its strength: the dew of its youth is still upon it; its speech still drops as the rain fresh from heaven; its truths are overflowing founts of ever fresh consolation. Never book spake like this book; its voice, like the voice of God, is powerful and full of majesty.
Whence comes it that the word of God is living? Is it not, first, because it is pure truth? Error is death, truth is life. No matter how well established an error may be by philosophy, or by force of arms, or the current of human thought, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all untruth shall be as stubble before the fire. The tooth of time devours all lies. Falsehoods are soon cut down, and they wither as the green herb. Truth never dies, it dates its origin from the immortals. Kindled at the source of light, its fame cannot be quenched; if by persecution it be for a time covered, it shall blaze forth anew to take reprisals upon its adversaries. Many a once venerated system of error now rots in the dead past among the tombs of the forgotten; but the truth as it is in Jesus knows no sepulchre, and fears no funeral; it lives on, and must live while the Eternal fills His throne.
Over and above all this, the Holy Spirit has a peculiar connection with the word of God. I know that He works in the ministries of all His servants whom He hath ordained to preach; but for the most part, I have remarked that the work of the Spirit of God in men's hearts is rather in connection with the texts we quote than with our explanations of them. "Depend upon it," says a deeply spiritual writer, "it is God's word, not man's comment on it, which saves souls." God does save souls by our comment, by still it is true that the majority of conversions have been wrought by the agency of a text of Scripture. It is the word of God that is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. There must be life in it, for by it men are born again. As for believers, the Holy Spirit often sets the word on a blaze while they are studying it. The letters were at one time before us as mere letters, but the Holy Ghost suddenly came upon them, and they spake with tongues. The chapter is lowly as the bush at Horeb, but the Spirit descends upon it, and lo! it glows with celestial splendour, God appearing in the words, so that we feel like Moses when he put off his shoes from his feet, because the place whereon he stood was holy ground. It is true, the mass of readers understand not this, and look upon the Bible as a common book; but if they understand it not, as least let them allow the truthfulness of our assertion, when we declare that hundreds of times we have as surely felt the presence of God in the page of Scripture as ever Elijah did when he heard the Lord speaking in a still small voice. The Bible has often appeared to us as a temple of God, and the posts of its doors have moved at the voice of Him that cried, whose train also has filled the temple. We have been constrained adoringly to cry, with the seraphim. "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of Hosts." God the Holy Spirit vivifies the letter with His presence, and then it is to us a living word indeed.

18 March 2012

Does Perry Noble Need to Heed His Own Advice?

Have you always wondered what is the secret behind a mega church pastor's sermon success? Well, if so, then you should have tuned in last week to the webcast of the Preach Better Sermons online conference. Speakers for this online-only event included Andy and Charles Stanley, Perry Noble, and Louie Giglio, among others.

The Christian Post enlightens us as to some of Perry Noble's advice to the viewers of this event:
NewSpring Church Pastor Perry Noble advised the thousands of pastors watching online to begin with the Word of God and not a VH1 video or popular song. 
"Let the text, the Bible drive the sermon. Don't say I saw a video on VH1 and I want to establish a sermon around that," the South Carolina megachurch pastor exhorted. "The Word of God has to be where it starts. I'm so passionate about that." (Online Source)
Um...has Perry Noble forgotten about Easter 2009?

Well, it was nearly three years ago, so perhaps it slipped his mind. But what about the Spring of 2011, when Newspring Church featured Katy Perry's then-hit single "Firework" in the Sunday service?

Glad to see that popular songs aren't driving the services there at Newspring. The Christian Post article continues:
Noble, whose church is getting ready to launch its eighth campus, said nearly every idea that he has preached on for the past five years came out of his quiet time. He made it clear, however, that his quiet time with the Lord is not sermon prep time. 

"But while I'm reading the Bible to try my best to hear the voice of God, if something pops in my mind, I write it down," he explained. 

"A preacher preaches best when he preaches out of the overflow of his heart. I really want to try my best to communicate that idea that God set my heart on fire with." (Online Source)
We certainly hope that Noble is not listening for an audible voice from God, however, it's difficult to imagine that a careful study of Scripture would lead one to use the above two songs in a Sunday worship service. But then, Noble has previously explained what led him to the decision to play "Highway to Hell" for the Easter Sunday service, and he does seem to claim that the idea came from God.

So which is it? Is Perry Noble preaching from the Word of God, or from an "idea that God set [his] heart on fire with?" One is clear, God-breathed Scripture, while the other seems to be an emotionally driven whim. So what does Perry Noble's track record indicate? Is he really allowing the biblical text to drive the sermon, as he described to the online viewers of the Preach Better Sermons event?

Well, it wasn't too long ago that we heard Perry Noble preach Matthew 6:33 as a text that commands tithing. So, even if he is opening a Bible on the stage each week, it appears that Noble is still in need of a refresher course in biblical hermeneutics and exegesis.

It seems, then, that Perry Noble knows the right thing to say when discussing what a pastor should do. Unfortunately, it appears that he at times has difficulty practicing what he preaches (pardon the pun). Nevertheless, we certainly hope that Perry Noble will begin to heed his own advice. How nice it would be if those soon-to-be eight campuses of Newspring Church would begin to hear the clear, un-compromised Word of God preached each week rather than merely having their itching ears scratched.

Perry Noble Says "Seek First" Means "Tithe"
Robert Morris Teams Up With Hybels, Noble, and Word Faith Preacher Tim Ross
"Code Orange" Speaker Perry Noble

Sunday Morning Praise

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

This hymn, written by Isaac Watts, is a paraphrase of Psalm 90. Early on in his Christian life, Watts felt concern over the music being sung in churches. "His father one day challenged him to write something better for the congregation, a challenge which he accepted (Kenneth Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, 184)." Indeed, Watts went on to become one of the most well-known and well-loved hymn writers even to this day.

16 March 2012

This 'n' That

Well, if this is global warming, sign me up! I love Spring. I really love Spring in the middle of March! What a blessed morning it has been to have the windows open and to see the sun shining and hear the birds singing. It is on days like this when I marvel at how anyone could dare deny the existence of a perfect and sovereign Creator. What I especially love about the spring months are the flowers and the colors. Nothing can generate a smile more than seeing the bright cheerfulness of tulips and daffodils in the midst of a hopelessly fallen world. Truly we do serve a kind and gracious God.

I was out of town for most of this week, so today's update is a bit abbreviated. If you're enjoying gorgeous weather as I am, take the extra time and get outside and praise God for His goodness. And now, here's your week in review (kind of):
  • The new iPad is here. Great, this means that I'll spend the next couple of months repenting of the sin of covetousness.
  • Pastrix Paula White, with the help of T.D. Jakes, is having a "God encounter" at her church. Hm...what say you about this, James MacDonald?
  • Russian and South Korean researchers are planning to resurrect the woolly mammoth. Yeah, because that's something we need wandering the streets. Good luck with that.
  • The coming persecution:

12 March 2012

A King's Way Comparison

Christine Pack of Sola Sisters has created a helpful visual aid that assesses the conflicting claims surrounding the Rick Warren - King's Way controversy. It provides a nice, clean comparison of the entire debacle.

(Online Source)

Worldliness: A Great Danger to Man's Soul

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Worldliness is one of the greatest dangers that beset man's soul. It is no wonder that we find our Lord speaking strongly about it: it is an insidious, specious, plausible enemy; it seems so innocent to pay close attention to our business! It seems so harmless to seek our happiness in this world, so long as we keep clear of open sins! Yet here is a rock on which many make shipwreck to all eternity. They "lay up treasure on earth," and forget to "lay up treasure in heaven." May we all remember this! Where are our hearts? What do we love best? Are our chiefest affections on things in earth, or things in heaven? Life or death depends on the answer we can give to these questions. If our treasure is earthly, our hearts will be earthly also. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be."
Let us learn from our Lord's caution about worldliness, what need we have to watch and pray against an earthly spirit. What are the vast majority of professing Christians round us doing? "They are laying up treasure on earth:" there can be no mistake about it; their tastes, their ways, their habits, tell a fearful tale. They are not "laying up treasure in heaven." Let us beware that we do not sink into hell by paying excessive attention to lawful things. Open transgression of God's law slays its thousands, but worldliness its tens of thousands.
- J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew, 56-57. 

11 March 2012

Moody Church Welcomes Spiritual Formation Expert Larry Crabb

The Moody Church in Chicago is led by senior pastor Erwin Lutzer, who is widely known to be a staunch defender of maintaining a biblical worldview rather than succumbing to the liberal compromises of the day. That is why it is rather curious that Lutzer has chosen to hand his pulpit over to Larry Crabb, a psychologist-turned-spiritual-formation-expert whose efforts and books tend to promote contemplative prayer, mysticism, and elevate subjective experience over and above objective truth.

Crabb was invited to lead the 2012 Leadership Summit that was held at Moody Church on Saturday, March 10. Following this, he will be ushered into Erwin Lutzer's pulpit to preach the Sunday service on March 11.
(Online Source)
(Online Source)
So, just who is Larry Crabb? According to the website of his organization, New Way Ministries

Dr. Larry Crabb is a well-known psychologist, conference and seminar speaker, Bible teacher, popular author, and founder/director of NewWay Ministries. In addition to various other speaking and teaching opportunities, Dr. Crabb offers a weekend conference throughout the country entitled Life on the Narrow Road and a week-long School of Spiritual Direction held in Colorado Springs, CO. He currently is Scholar in Residence at Colorado Christian University in Colorado and serves as Spiritual Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors. Dr. Crabb has authored many books including; Understanding People, The Marriage Builder, Finding God, Connecting, The Safest Place on Earth, The Pressure's Off, Shattered Dreams, and SoulTalk. His latest book, The PAPA Prayer, was released in February 2006. Dr. Crabb and his wife, Rachael, live in the Denver, Colorado area. 
Educational Background 
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois, 1970 (Minors: Speech Therapy and Philosophy of Science)
M.A. Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois, 1969
B.S. Psychology, Ursinus College, 1965
(Online Source)
Obviously, Crabb's background in psychology is quite extensive. Unfortunately, this has seeped quite extensively into his writing and work. Just one example is found New Way Ministries' course offerings of the School of Spiritual Direction (SSD). Crabb describes the SSD in the following manner:
I call it the Passion/Wisdom Model of Spiritual Direction, and I see it as offering the opportunity for our interior worlds and supernatural reality to meet. This model offers a conceptual understanding of the private and often confusing world beneath the surface of our everyday lives and a rhythmic strategy for following the Spirit into the depths of people’s souls, including our own. That is where God’s Spirit is moving us into the Father’s presence and into the light of the Son so that we can (1) enjoy God, (2) accept ourselves, and (3) engage with others in the energy of Christ. (Online Source)
What we read above is, at best, psycho-babble with a "Christianese" twist. At worst, it's mystical deception. As was mentioned above, Crabb has authored numerous books. The most recent of these, The PAPA Prayer, was briefly reviewed by Pastor Gary Gilley. Of this work, Gilley says,
Most importantly the ideas presented are not in any way drawn from Scripture. Crabb’s experience and imagination is the seed-bed of The PAPA Prayer. What little Scripture Crabb uses is taken out of context or distorted (e.g. pp. 29, 45-51, 111, 116, 119). Probably the most “creative” use of Scripture was tagging on a command by Jesus given to John based on Revelation 1:16-17, “Then the risen Christ placed His right hand on John and spoke. ‘Don’t be afraid. I’m alive and because I’m alive, you’re alive. Advance My kingdom until I return with great power to finish the job’” (p. 118). This last statement is simply not there (maybe Crabb should review Revelation 22:18-19).
The author also introduces his newer devotion to mysticism a number of times (pp. 123, 146, 149). As a matter of fact, in disguised form he promotes all three stages of classic mysticism: purgation, illumination and union (pp. 146-149). Centering and contemplative prayer is also recommended (pp. 9, 22). Even a little visualization in the form of dancing with God (pp. 19, 107, 163) is evident. 
But the heart of the book, and its chief error, is the goal behind the PAPA prayer. The PAPA prayer is a means by which we hear the voice of God—not necessarily audibly, but at least inwardly, “Prayer is more about us hearing God than about His hearing us. We’re the audience” (p. 71). Crabb promises, “PAPA will speak to you [if you follow Crabb’s formula]. He loves a good conversation with His children” (pp. 143-144). This is the carrot that will draw people to the PAPA prayer and is the reoccurring theme throughout (pp. XIV-XVI; 8, 9, 12. 13, 19, 71, 80, 85, 124, 143, 165). But where in Scripture are we taught any such thing? Yes, there were rare occasions in the Word when God spoke to someone while he was praying, but nowhere are we told that this is either the norm or the purpose of prayer. Prayer in the Bible is us speaking to God; it is the Scriptures that speak to us.
Crabb does not find his PAPA prayer in the Bible. It is drawn from experience, mysticism and faulty theology. (Online Source)
As Gilley notes, experience is what dominates Crabb's book. Indeed, experience is at the very heart of the vast majority of deceptions which today plague our churches. When the quest for a warm, welcoming experience is sought through such means as centering or contemplative prayer, then our ravenous enemy has a wide doorway through which to walk.

Larry Crabb has authored another book which ought to be of concern to the Christian. In his book, SoulTalk, Crabb explains that, while in the hospital awaiting surgery, he was privileged to discover a sort of secret language of the Holy Spirit, a language that Crabb calls "SoulTalk." He writes,
I believe God kept me alive so I could speak about it, so together we could start dancing with God. Then we'll learn SoulTalk, and we'll speak with power into people's lives, especially the people we love most. (Online Source)
Dancing with God? Where is the Scripture that speaks to this? Where is the verse that speaks about "SoulTalk?" Check your Bible if you like, but you will not find these references.

Throughout this book, Crabb speaks about "catching the vision" of the Spirit. He speaks of looking into one's own soul, and then into the soul's of others so as to communicate "with power." Yet, is not God the only One who can see into the mind, heart and very soul of any man?

It is not the duty of men, not even redeemed men, to learn to speak some secret, even gnostic, language. It is not the job of redeemed men to search within themselves in their efforts to learn to communicate this imaginary, "supernatural" language. The duty of redeemed men, rather, is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins. The Bible does not speak of "SoulTalk," but it does talk of souls. And it tells us what will happen to those souls who die without Christ.

While we ought to be concerned that Erwin Lutzer has decided to welcome such a spiritual formation proponent as Larry Crabb into his pulpit, we ought not be surprised. After all, Lutzer himself has endorsed The PAPA Prayer.
(Online Source)
We pray the congregation of Moody Church will be listening with great discernment as Larry Crabb stands and teaches from that once great pulpit.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)