"What Improvements Are Needed In Today's* Church?"...Part II
by Gary Schooley
In the first article, we looked at some of the spiritual mistakes happening in today's *Spirit filled church, and how they have had a negative effect and hindered the Body of Christ. Although there has been a few contentions on some minor points and a correction, the challenge at the end remains un-touched. Since then, there has been much study; much revelation (and the intent!). New proofs have come to light and insights have been confirmed. Now, it is time to see where this strange and twisting road got off the main highway.
As I said in the last article, finding a good Spirit filled church that has found a balance between spiritual and emotional, with a discerning eye on the Word, can be quite a challenge; I still haven't found one that isn't playing spiritual games. From the looks of it (as you will see), the choices are getting fewer and fewer. Compromise can work wonders when used correctly, but it can make one wonder when it clearly violates the scriptures. The line is drawn AT the Word; beyond that, I will not go. They can invent all the "profound" doctrines they want; play all the strange games they want, but they won't get far from the Word without being exposed.
Note: In "What Improvements..." Part 1, I dealt vaguely with some of those involved; those of you who are in the know and keep abreast of these things know exactly who I made reference to. Now, with the advent of the WWW (internet), it has become "no holds barred", with names, dates and events being clearly stated; likewise, I am tired of beating around the bush - from now on, I will "pull no punches". If they are truly men and women of God, let them show scriptural proof; if they can't, let them utter those "terrible" words and say "I DON'T KNOW" rather than flinging a bunch of twisted scriptures. Publicly they commit these follies - publicly let them answer.
Let's get started by looking at the process of how some (try to) compromise the Word of God; how they attempt to make it say something that it just doesn't say, taking huge leaps of assumption that any athlete would be proud of. Let's also see what the Bible has to say about speaking (and acting) presumptuously.
Recently, I was compelled to send the following e-mail to Kenneth Copeland ministries:
Yesterday, I received the following reply:
Well, that sounds okay, doesn't it? It has a lot of scriptural references and is peaceable and civil. So what's wrong with it? How can anyone dare to find fault with such a "Christian" sounding statement? With the very Word they quote, that's how! Once you look up these scriptures, it is clear how they have stretched this thread beyond the breaking point. "This boat just won't float". This person said: "Instead, let's look to the Word of God, which is our best source of truth, for some answers." Indeed, let's look for TRUTH and ANSWERS.
Notice that neither one of these scriptures make even the slightest mention of laying on of hands or even of being "slain in the spirit". Only the Shekina Glory of God is referred to; nothing more. It doesn't elude to people falling out, but it does imply that they couldn't enter because they simply couldn't see. It doesn't say one word about becoming as "dead men" (fainting). Two strikes.
The next scripture this person quotes is Genesis 15:12:
Again, I see no laying on of hands and not necessarily a falling-out. "Deep sleep" and becoming like a "dead man" are two completely different things. Was Adam then also "slain under the power"? He fell into a deep sleep, too. In all honesty, all it says is that he fell asleep and God gave him a terrible dream and spoke to him (as implied by verse 13). Strike three.
Note: Have you ever had one of these kinds of dreams? Not your run of the mill bad dreams, but one that shook you so badly that you feared sleep for a few days; one that had heavy spiritual implications? I've had several. This is the type of dream that is indicated here.
Let's move on to the next scripture quoted and verse 35 as well.
One more time, where does it say that he passed out? Where? It says that he could not enter, nothing more. It's like trying to get too close to bonfire. All the above applies here, too. Strike four.
Next! Numbers 20:6
Notice here the order of the events: they fell upon their faces, THEN the glory of the Lord appeared, not the other way around. Why do you think that was? If you have had any study or experience with the Shekina glory of God, one thing you know is that (in these days), it is always in conjunction with a high level of (TRUE) worship and praise. They bowed themselves down in true worship. Have you ever heard of just plain bowing down in worship? Nowhere does it say that they lost consciousness; in fact, the very next verse says that the Lord spoke to them. Did God have to wait for them to come to before verse 7, or was it just a real short falling-out? Strike five.
Moving right along, we come to the next scripture quoted, Exodus 33:9.
There are countless points I could make about this scripture, but it is all becoming very redundant, so I'll just address a few. "...the people saw the cloudy pillar...and all the people rose up..." they didn't fall down, but did the exact opposite and ROSE UP! Get it?! ROSE UP! (*Note: "...and worshipped,..." - see above paragraph). "...FACE TO FACE, as a man speaketh unto his friend." Now, was God laying there on the ground with Moses? Is that how they conversed face to face? "...And he turned again into the camp:...", not fell on their faces. Ditto - No scriptural support for falling down - strike six.
Next stop: Ezekiel 1:28
First off, notice that the context of this is like the parallel account found in Revelation, which is in the Spirit, not in this physical "world" so to speak; there was no one laying hands on him or pushing him down. He fell on his face from the sheer awesome glory of it, but also remained conscious, because he heard the voice of one that spake to him. Reject! Strike seven.
Now, let's look at Acts 9:3
"...he fell to the earth, AND heard..." I don't know about you, but I have been both unconscious and asleep (and various stages in between) in my life, and I know from experience that it is totally useless to try to tell me anything when I am not awake. How about you? The same, right? It looks to me like he was just plain scared. It doesn't say anything about passing out, but rather DOES indicate that he remained conscious. It is the nature of virtually all mammals, when totally overwhelmed by an extraordinary event, to roll up into a ball and "freeze", petrified with fear. I would do the same. Nope. Strike eight. (See part one of this article at: http://www.spiritualabuse.org/articles/improvements.html ).
So, next is Revelation 1:17
Again note that this is in the Spirit, not in this physical world. At least there is finally some mention of someone laying their hands on someone. Well, it says that Jesus laid his right hand on him AFTER he fainted, not before. Hmmmm... "...fell at his feet as dead...", THEN Jesus said "fear not". Why do you think he used the words "fear not"? Because that is what caused him to fall out - FEAR! Nothing more. And, if Jesus wanted him in a quivering ball, why did he try to undo it by telling him NOT to fear? It's still out of context with the original question (and problem). Strike nine.
One more time. Daniel 10:8
So? He had a vision, became weak and fell asleep on his face; what does that have to do with laying on of hands and pushing down? "...voice of his words, THEN was I in a deep sleep..."; again, note the order. Again note also that this is in the context of a vision. It is an exception, not the rule that Christians have made it out to be. If falling out was the rule, Moses would have never made it back down the mountain till God left.
Indeed, many of the close encounters with God that these people experienced, and the roles the people played, would NOT have been possible if falling out were the rule. Every time God showed up with instructions for them, they would have hardly been fit if they all passed out. "...an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands". Looks to me like there is some setting up going on here, not knocking down. Unacceptable. Strike ten.
Again, no laying on of hands. Again, fear and again fainting. Would they have me conclude, from their very own choice of scripture, that being slain in the Spirit is THE result of FEAR??? It clearly says that they fell out from fear!?! This is totally, completely and absolutely unacceptable; this is scripture-twisting at it's best. Strike eleven.
Lastly, there is John 18:4
Well, I knew they would inevitably fling this particular scripture "sculpture" at me - they always do. Although I have already answered it in part one, I think it bears repeating. Hold on a sec while I fetch it... *tic... tic... tic* Okay, I'm back. Here it is :o)
Strike twelve and you're OUT!!! Game over!
So, there are 5 cases of fainting from fear, 5 clouds, 2 deep sleeps and 3 lights; the only hands that can be found are lifting up, not knocking down. This "doctrine" of falling and pushing is not founded on scripture. When you find yourself leaving church confused, don't blame yourself; you did your part. If your faith is in order, you can still be healed; just not at these peoples hands. (Did you know you can lay hands on yourself?) 1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:... "...try the spirits..."?
Note: "notable evangelist" Kenneth Hagin, who, like Kenneth Copeland, is my brother in the Lord, and both have taught me much; just because the Word and I disagree with them on this point, doesn't mean that all they say and teach should be discounted. Once upon a time, they were the most honest teachers of practical Christian life I had ever seen; now, I wonder... but the Word reassures me that I'm still on the right track (12 TIMES!!!).
Well now, that was interesting. I even learned something, and I feel sooo much better. Have you ever noticed that? It's like when you have a splinter in your hand - it feels so very good to get it out. This is a "splinter" in my spirit that runs crosswise to God's Word, and thus to my spirit. It'll heal if I can get enough of it out.
You can see now the incredible leaps of "faith" and total disregard for exactly what the Word DOES say. A little compromise here and a little stretch there (and don't forget intentional blindness to certain aspects), and before long, you find yourself in some very strange territory. There you can find things like "holy vomiting", "holy 'humping'"and other wholesome "christian" activities (lower case intentional!). Frankly, it is going to be difficult to tactfully discuss some of these topics, as they are shameful. But, I'll manage, at a later date; I had no idea that this would get so long, so it's looking like there is going to have to be a "part 3"!
Notice that there was no name affixed to that e-mail response; No wonder! I don't blame them for being aloof. I would be too, if I made such a feeble attempt at twisting the Word. With the Bible open before me, it was no hard thing to discredit them with the very scriptures they would use to justify such antics. The glaring contradictions, inconsistencies and willful omissions make it clear and easy. No challenge at all. The challenge lies not in debunking their false doctrine, but rather in getting them to pay attention and listen - there is the challenge (thus the strong words). As long as they maintain such two-faced policy of unaccountability, it is a one-way street, with "them" generating strange doctrines, and "us" (their supposed Christian kin) forbidden to question them. Don't they know that their silence and unwillingness to address these issues is basically an admission of guilt?
Where was I? Oh yeah, now it's time to look at speaking and acting presumptuously.
Though this scripture deals with falsely spoken things, what is the difference between saying "Thus says the Lord" and doing something, showing (acting as) "Thus doeth the Lord"? Are they not both a false witness of sorts; whether saying OR doing as God did NOT say, it is a witness that God has said (or done) something that he didn't; it is false witness.
So, what's the difference between those this was written about and these today? Sadly, not much. It looks like they played silly games with God in those days, too. He had to address it, so it must have been important to him. It's time more were said; he has already spoken on the matter, but they don't seem to want to look at certain specific parts of the Word, so someone else has to reiterate it again.
When I was studying for an article called "Catholic vs. The Holy Bible", I was astounded to find the importance Jesus placed on reading the written Word (scripture). He was constantly amazed that the religious hypocrites of that day read very little scripture. He was often (very often!) asking "Didn't you read?", "Haven't you read?", "Haven't you read it from the scriptures?!" Interesting: two things Satan attacks Christians in are the two things that Jesus did so often - praying and reading the Word. Hmmm...
Notice how many valid points were made in/from just those 12 scriptures. Points they dare not even consider, much less study, and certainly NOT have the audacity to admit they were just plain WRONG about! I call it the "T.T.A.R. syndrome" ("Tuck Tail And Run syndrome"). It has become a hallmark of (most) evangelists, once they start getting into the "Big Time". After that, forget it - they are obscured behind a wall of staff, web sites, anonymously answered e-mails, automated phone systems, etc., etc. They have become unaccountable to man. Unless they mess up Big Time. We've all seen it before, brothers and sisters, and we're gonna see it some more. Big evangelists getting their tails in a snag. And I see some big snags up ahead too. Legal liability type snags.
Example: You know those little "lipstick" cameras? They are small and getting smaller every day. They use them all the time in investigative reporting, etc. It would be an easy matter to get wired up, go into one of these services, get pushed down and then sue their socks off (for a myriad of possible injuries). No, we can't do that, because we are (supposed to be) doers of the Word, not hearers only, and the Word says:
But, there are plenty of greedy non-Christians (and some "Christians", too!) who would not hesitate to do such. I'm surprised that someone hasn't already tapped into this source of easy money; give it time, it will happen. Shhh - don't tell 'em.
That might sound like a terrible thing to suggest, but it's their folly, not mine. If they were operating according to the Word, they wouldn't run such risks, would they? All it takes is someone with the same disregard for the above scripture as was shown for the first 12 scriptures in the e-mail response, and *poof* - instant law suit. It would send a message to all of them that mere words cannot get across. Eventually, they would realize that there is safety in sticking to the Word. God can't bless them if they refuse to heed the Word (as I have shown). There are a number of other ways that they stand liable; all because they are far from the Word. I'll keep them to myself for now.
While attending the church mentioned in the first article, there came yet another traveling "hit-n-run" evangelist with an all new "twist" to it (literally). He was teaching some kind of "Holy Spirit" chiropractic type doctrine. He had everyone twisting and turning in slow motion under the guise that the "Holy Spirit" was doing it; when all the time it was just the power of suggestion. Part of his act was to sit a person in a chair and show them how uneven their legs were in length (actually, everyone has a noticeable difference). He would then, as he "prayed", ever so slyly slide the heel of the short leg shoe out even with the other, giving the impression of an instantaneous miracle (and insuring a bigger offering for him, when he LEAVES!).
This was over twenty years ago, and I must admit, that I too fell for it. Duh! Since then, I have seen this con used and exposed many times. He must have been one of the first pioneers of that scam. When I first saw it exposed on T.V., I was so ashamed. I still feel foolish about being involved with it. There I was, full of the child-like faith that Jesus said we should have; innocent in these matters and rather naive; believing the best in people... and he LIED to me! What kind of "Christian" integrity is this? Oh well, I'm smarter now. It won't happen again.
All this, while the preacher just stood there and watched, not having the scriptural sense or fortitude to stop it. Sometimes, I think it's more of a financial arrangement between the two than a working of the Holy Spirit. Once they let someone get going on THEIR congregation, they dast not stop it, leaving the traveling preacher to take the flock off on the strangest tangents. Note: this was the preacher who thought the Holy Spirit told him to give his church away; in retrospect, there was a clear pattern of spiritual incompetence going on. Too bad no one tried to warn us about it.
It's interesting to note, that after my wife and I left this particular "show", we went to the local purveyor of pancakes *Yum* for a bite to eat, and who should we happen to see in the entry foyer playing a video game, but that same traveling evangelist. We were shocked. Hmmm, so much for priorities. I guess for him it was all about the same: manipulate something (or someone) into a certain place and win the game; the former funding the latter.
To date, I have yet to see anything happen in one of these "performances" that can't be readily and repeatedly reproduced by the hand of man. Don't get me wrong, healings and miracles can and do happen, but on a more personal, one-on-one basis with God, who knows who is playing games, and who really needs and has faith for healing. But as far as the "show" goes, it has become little more than showmanship, and one-upmanship within that. It's big business and big bucks. It is dishonesty.
What it all boils down to is just how honest does a person want to be with themselves, and more importantly, with God, with whom we have to deal. When people can't admit to themselves, after having been shown to be in spiritual error, they deceive themselves and push the limits of grace. It will be required of them; removed from their reward, if they even make it that far.
Keith Green said it best in his "Catholic Chronicles-" with these words, which are still just as potent and profound today (if not more so!) as they were the day he penned them:
So true. (I wish I had said that).
"...senses exercised to discern both good and evil..." I like the sound of that. They profess to know the difference, but their deeds and the fruit thereof (damages) bear a contrary witness. We are definitely in the end times when even the elect would be deceived if it were possible; and it IS possible and IS happening. I believe in a big God who hasn't finished what he would do in this world, but he can't move in a church that has little regard of very clear scripture; intent and determined to make scripture fit whatever doctrine they have manufactured. In studying the morality of God for a future article, it is becoming apparent that God will tolerate NO "religious" pretense at all. There are two ways to do it: get it right in this life or get seriously rebuked in the next. I'm taking the easy road. How about you?
There is a large and growing body of displaced Christians, being more than timid, but not about to start rolling around on the floor vomiting; stuck between "not enough" and "way too much". Where is the happy medium... the middle ground? There has got to be some place between cowardice and insanity for us. Shall we start yet another denominational splinter? That's why they get started, you know. Shall we limit ourselves to a rigid statement of faith, typing the Holy Spirit into a tiny paper box, to the exclusion of all that SHOULD have been in there? What's the answer? Honesty.
People don't seem to realize that the Holy Spirit is first and foremost a common sense spirit. Few make the effort to find out just "who" he is, where he is and what office he occupies. It has become so that anytime someone hears the words "Holy Spirit", something weird and bizarre is expected to happen. Granted, when the Holy Spirit DOES move, he can be quite eccentric and original, with things like cloven tongues of fire, mighty rushing wind sounds, etc., but not as these are presenting it. If the power of God is so strong in these churches today, why then don't we see undeniable things like this happening? Why not? Because God can't work where his Word is twisted, that's why not. When (if) the Holy Spirit is allowed to move, then you will see some real stuff!! Not a bunch of man-made pretense with slight scriptural implication. Then it would be genuine.
Enough of what doesn't work - let's look at something that does work, for a change. When the Holy Spirit is allowed to do what he wants, church services would look completely different than they do today. One thing I have learned about him is that he doesn't like a worship service where people are hurting. Not at all. If he had his way, everyone would get their needs met before the worship even started. God gets no glory from human suffering; there can be no great praise or manifestations when people are preoccupied with pain. He doesn't even like 99% wellness - he is a pure Spirit and wants a pure 100%. Does he ever see that? Rarely.
An example: once (after my Christian wife had left me) a friend took me to a small new church that had sprung up. I didn't know anyone there and my friend had to go immediately to work in one of their classes; we were late and the service had already started. There was no way anyone there could have known the burden of my heart. No way. They didn't even see who I arrived with.
Now, I was pretty torn up, having lost the love of my life; I was indeed in need of some prayer and consolance. As we were praying, I began to perceive a presence around me. When I opened my eyes, I found myself surrounded by people, all praying with (for) me; I hadn't set myself among a group, as I tend to set away from the crowd; they had all come over to me. Why? How did they know I had a need? I told no one of my grief.
This was the functioning of the word of knowledge - one of the gifts of the Spirit. It was not what a man wanted to do, but rather what the Holy Spirit needed to accomplish. He knows who needs what; a man does not. It worked wonders, releasing a flood of pent-up tears that I could no longer contain. It was a needful thing. Too bad the Holy Spirit is not allowed to move his way more often. Then, the body of Christ would not be in such sad shape. By the end of the service, I smiled! (a rare thing in those times). I wasn't pushed down either!!
One thing to note about this church - they would routinely examine the gifts to determine who had what. Unheard of in MOST churches, assuming that everyone has everything (or no one has anything?!).
Have you ever been in church, and felt a strong, almost nagging urge to move over to someone and pray for them? You don't know why, but there is something about this person that draws you? It is the Holy Spirit trying to do what he does best - heal things; fix things; make things right. Don't deny him. Don't grieve him. Work with him and let him work. Then you will see some worship. Then you will see some praise. Then God is glorified. That's how it works.
Well, it's time to wrap this up. We have looked at how today's church misinterprets and disregards scripture, and more of the consequences that Jesus' church suffers because of it. We have also seen that the church is no closer today than it was when I wrote part one, and why it will stay that way, till they decide to get serious about the Word of God. We have seen folly and failing attempts at rightly dividing God's Word. And we have considered the greed involved. But, we have also seen just one example of how it can be when it is done right. I wish that I could offer more examples, but they are all too few. All I can do is pray, study the Bible, reason and write.
The challenge to preachers (at the end of part one) still applies - they dare not touch it, being wrong and knowing it. It would require an admission of fault and an honesty they simply won't embrace. For the record, I have sent a copy of part one by snail-mail to Kenneth Copeland marked "Personal/Private" (which makes it a federal offense if anyone but him opened it). Has he ever laid eyes on it? Doubtful. There are many questions here that beg to be answered - an honest preacher would at least try. Brother Copeland: I have listened to you for years, learning much; are you now above hearing what I have to say?
In part three of "What Improvements...", we will look at some very disturbing and just plain sick things that "Christians" are doing "in the name of Jesus". We will see just how low this thing goes. It will not be easy and it will not be clean, so I suggest that you invest in a pair of hip boots, as the "stuff" gets deep! If you have any accounts of things happening in the guise of the "Holy Spirit", send them - maybe I can use them and I'm certain I can learn from them (like there's a shortage, right?!).
A personal note: having been expelled from the tenth grade, and typing with only two fingers, my "writing style" is a bit unorthodox; I'm new at this and have much to learn - please forgive, as I "know not what I do". To those who have sent "kudos" or requested articles: Thank you very much - you don't know how much good that has done, confirming a gift and my function in the body of Christ.
Now, I have an e-mail to answer...
Till next time, be blessed in Jesus' name!!!
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