When Con Men Use the Bible to Sell Evil

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“Snake oil” medicine bottles. From Wikipedia.

It’s been interesting watching the presidential election unfold in the U.S. It is truly revealing the hearts and intentions of those who claim to follow Christ.

For example, I’ve seen articles and videos from so-called prophets and church leaders insisting that Christians should vote for a certain orange-tinted candidate. And not just insist, but actually shame those who have declared they cannot vote for such a person. A few days ago, I read an article by one gentleman who says Christians who dare oppose said candidate for moral reasons are Pharisees…just like the people who crucified Jesus.

Really?!

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Seeing Through the Fog: A Pastor’s Hate Unmasked

s0gw2Yesterday, I published an analysis of Doug Wilson’s response to Karen Swallow Prior–a response that included a rant against Rachel Held Evans. Here’s why I did that. Wilson writes in a way that purposely confuses his readers. On the surface, he appeared to address the objections that had come his way. But once you drilled down to his main point, it was a different story.

This is called obfuscation.

I wanted to point it out because obfuscation is more common than you think. The Cry for Justice blog addresses it all the time. It is a common tactic of narcissists and abusers. It is an attempt to deflect criticism, instill doubt, redirect readers and gain allies. It involves using complex analogies, logical fallacies, alternate definitions for common words and, occasionally, outright lies. The advantage to writing this way is that when a reader arrives at unfavorable conclusions, you can accuse them of misunderstanding your words and spin the narrative to your benefit.

Because we’re trained to give people the benefit of the doubt, it takes practice to recognize obfuscation. But it’s an important skill to have if we, as Christians, are to rightly divide the word of truth. There are far too many abusers and false teachers in the world, and obfuscation helps keep them in power.

Today, I want to go back and revisit Wilson’s rant on Evans to show you what I mean. Because what Wilson says at the end is truly horrifying, evil, and anti-Christian.
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What Having Spiritual Authority REALLY Means

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Walken must have heard the phrase “spiritual authority.” I know. I’ve looked this way often.

If I asked some of you to name the spiritual authority in your life, what would you say? Would you be confused that I only asked for one and give multiple answers? I ask, because the concept of “spiritual authority” is huge in the evangelical church. You can find whole books on the subject. Unfortunately, most of what they teach is wrong.

The Bible references three types of authority that humans can wield in this life: Continue reading

Why youth ministry is failing and this generation won’t win the world for Christ

Sure, it’s a big cross. But will it get teens fired up?

After my guest post on Defeating the Dragons, I decided to start a series on modern youth ministry and my experiences within it. Enjoy.

The other day, a fellow church member posted the following quote from Greg Stier, founder of Dare 2 Share youth ministries:

Here are three quick, yet powerful reasons to reach the next generation with the message and mission of Jesus:

1. The vast majority of people who trust in Jesus as their Savior do so before the age of 18.

2. Christian teenagers can be mobilized to reach their friends for Christ quickly and effectively.

3. If Christian teens are trained and unleashed to reach their circle of influence for Christ, this nation can be transformed from the inside out and the bottom up.

As a former preaching pastor and church planter I can tell you with firm conviction that I did not get into youth ministry because it was cute. I chose to go into youth ministry because it was strategic.

Let me just say for the record, I’m not here to critique Stier’s ministry. Up until the other day, I’d never even heard of Dare 2 Share. It could very well be a wonderful, life-changing program. However, I will say this: Stier’s comments are nothing new to me. I’ve been listening to similar statements for over 15 years.

And whenever I hear them, alarm bells start ringing. Continue reading

learning the words: on fire

Here is a guest post I wrote for Defeating the Dragons, an awesome blog I discovered about a week ago. The blog’s author writes about recovering from fundamentalism and spiritual abuse. If you haven’t visited yet, please do!