Thursday, February 24, 2011

More Venom from the "Spirit-Filled" Camp

  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." - Galatians 5:21-23

"You will know them by their fruits." - Matthew 7:20

Chippy the Attack Gopher
on the rampage against
those mean ol' Pharisee types
who read their Bibles!
"How dare you question
the Mighty Prophet
Gopher,  heretic?!?!?"
Recently, a fellow Christian writer and biblical counselor and I were attacked online, for daring to question the veracity of extreme "deliverance ministries" (and those who set themselves up as "prophets"). What made this particular attack so odd was that neither he nor I commented with a critical spirit, challenged anyone to a debate, OR questioned the fruit of the individual's life. What we were questioning, (and quite objectively, I might add), was the aberrant theology being promoted. Neither of us said anything the least bit sarcastic or inflammatory, nor did we attempt to bait the blog owners. This rabid hatred completely blind-sided me -- from individuals claiming to be Christ-followers.

Moreover, on the basis of one reference to 1 Corinthians 11-14 (cessation of the sign gifts) and 2 Thessalonians (referring to the lying signs and wonders in the last days), I was then told I was "obviously not a Christian"; "could not be saved"; sarcastically dismissed for my polite tone; called "trite"; and accused of raising a "strawman" (sic). I think the writer meant "red herring" in this context, but I'll let that slide. This was on the basis of ONE COMMENT simply giving a hermaneutic frame of reference for the apologist's comment. As a newcomer to this particular blog, I deliberately worded my explanation as respectfully and diplomatically as possible, leaving rhetoric and argument out of it.

The attack on the other writer, who actually responded to the sneering and personal insults, was even worse. This hatefulness was on a "Christian" blog, from people who don't even know us. Sadly, we agreed with our attackers' mission - a ministry to ex-homosexuals (the blog exposes the lie of homosexuality, and gives the biblical truth to those coming out of this lifestyle). None of that mattered. We gave the (substantial) biblical proof of A) cessation of the sign gifts; B) that demonic deliverance in the Bible was an act of mercy, not a way of ridding sin; C) people are delivered from life-dominating sins by faith and repentance, NOT by the "casting out" of the demon of ____(fill in sin of choice).

None of that mattered. We dared touch the sacred cow of C. Peter Wagner's fictitious "Five-Fold Ministry", and thus were deemed worse than pagans. My most heinous offence? Suggesting that freedom from homosexuality was by repentance, rather than "supernatural deliverance complete with prophetic words of knowledge". How dare I question a Prophetess, who is now a Prayer/Intercessor/Fast-er (for a small donation to her ministry, of course). Never mind that no biblical prophet(ess) ever charged a cent for praying.

Most of my regular readers know that I am a nouthetic counselor in training, and am publishing a book about biblical repentance from eating disorders. Many of you have read my testimony, through my "Redeemed from the Pit" blog (where I get attacked, regularly, for having the audacity to call bulimia a sin). After being set free by the grace of God, after 17 years enslaved, I think I know something about the power of the Holy Spirit. (Despite the unwarranted and relentless attack by these rabid charismaniacs to the contrary). My colleague, the apologist? A "rock-throwing Pharisee-cum-Sadduccee". Again, the venom was poured out on us for no other crime than being cessationists, and holding a "Prophetess'" claims up to the light of Scripture (which 1 John 4:1 commands us to do). According to my Bible, God takes false prophets (and prophetesses) very, very seriously.

What these rabid, hate-filled, desperation-driven seekers of signs fail to realize is that when one makes an extra-biblical claim, the burden of proof is on them. An argument cannot be made from silence. The Lord Jesus said "repent and believe"; not "pray for a demon to be cast out and to receive an extra-biblical prophetic word". The Canon of Scripture is closed, but even if we agree to disagree on that, the proof is in the unChrist-likeness of their response. Jesus Himself said that " a man speaks out of the abundance of the heart".  Our words were "filled with grace and seasoned with salt" (Colossians 4:6), but the "Spirit filled Christians" responded with malice, slander and harshness. They returned goodwill with evil. They did not content themselves with a single snide remark, but continued to slander us even after we graciously bowed out of further dialogue. Hmm...they were filled with a spirit of something, that's for sure.

Rotten fruit simply doesn't grow from a good tree. I admit I'm perplexed and cannot explain where this evil comes from in ones who claim the Name of Christ, but a brief look at the three moderators' blogs revealed morbid prose about flesh burning off of bodies in hell, below-the-belt verbal assaults on other people, and an irrational (albeit unsupported) allegiance to the new-fangled idea that the office of Apostle has somehow been restored. that's it, I thought. Pride....and a desire to be self-important. We inadvertently 'messed with' that idol, and now their feathers are all ruffled!' No doubt when they're passing out on the floors of their sanctuaries, barking like dogs or screaming gibberish, they think themselves oh-so-much holier than we mere students of the Word, and therefore are vindicated by cursing and damning us with no cause. Yes. So much holier.

By their fragrant fruits ye shall know them, indeed. They act just like their father.

The ultimate irony? One of the rabid 5-Folders has John Macarthur's "Grace to You" linked at the top of his homepage. I laughed out loud when I saw that -- Macarthur makes the two of us look like continuationists!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Guest Post - Why Does God Allow Pain? (Lucy Ann Moll)

This week, fellow biblical counselor and sister in the faith Lucy Ann Moll posted a real gem of an article under the "resources" section of her site, which, with her permission, I am re-posting here. (Lucy Ann is the host of the radio show "Sisterhood of Beautiful Warriors", who interviewed me in December). I haven't had much time for writing or blogging these past few weeks, and yet it seems I am surrounded by good people who are suffering. So glad someone could articulate the biblical view of trials so well, and was generous enough to share her thoughts!

Drawing on the book of Job, Lucy discusses how to view trials without losing hope; recognizing God's sovereignity in the midst of our pain; and how to encourage a friend who is suffering. Please visit her site and be edified by the articles, interviews and biblical counseling resources available there.
Why Does God Allow Pain?

By Lucy Ann Moll

IF YOU’VE PUZZLED over this question – and don’t care for simplistic answers – you’ll like the honest way that the Old Testament book named Job considers God’s mysterious ways.

It tells the story of a godly man who endured unimaginable pain and loss. First, Job’s donkeys, camels, sheep and oxen die. Then his servants. Then his children. A short time later, painful sores cover Job from the soles of his feet to the top of his head, and his wife snarls:

“Curse God and die!” Ouch! Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is –NOT! When you think it cannot get any worse, his friends ‐‐ and I use the term loosely – verbally abuse him. They are certain he must have committed some terrible wrong for God to punish him.

Have you experienced something similar? Maybe you’ve endured one hardship after another? Have you ever asked God, Why me? The author of the book of Job conveys several key concepts, which were true then and still are true today.

God is sovereign. In 1:6‐12 and 2:1‐6, when Satan questions God regarding Job’s integrity (after God points him out as a blameless, upright and reverent man), God calls the shots. He tells Satan what he may and may not do. Satan has no power except for that which God allows. Satan is evil. Satan licks his lips with any chance to discredit God – as if this were possible – by inciting Job to curse God. Satan desires a throne above God’s. Suffering happens. First Job loses his belongings and wealth (1:13‐17), and Job was a very wealthy man. Then all his children die in a roof collapse (1:19). Soon after, Job’s health is hit hard. He sits in an ash heap scraping his sores with shards of broken pottery. What a lonely, pathetic picture!

Furthermore, in the face of almost‐beyond belief suffering, it is possible to avoid sin. Like us, Job receives strength from God to honor him. His wife says, “Curse God and die.” Job’s answer shows depth of wisdom gained by intimacy with the One whom he reveres. He says,

“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”

Friends may compound the pain. Each of Job’s supposed friends – and a young man named Elishu – accuses Job of sinning and failing to repent, thus bringing on his suffering in the first place. In 21:34, Job tells his friends, “How can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood.” In their economy, God would allow only an unrighteous man to suffer. Thus since Job is suffering, they propose, he must be unrighteous.

In addition, the greater the loss, the greater the grief. Surprising to me, Job says little of his material losses or of the deaths of his ten children. Rather, he grieves the loss of an intimate relationship with God. God chooses silence, but behind the scenes he is highly active in Job’s life. Job says in 23:8‐9, “If I go to the east, he is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find him. When he is at work in the north, I do not see him; when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.” Job feels abandoned yet holds tight to God, trusting that this test by God will prove him as pure as gold.

As I read the book of Job, I question why God pointed Job out to Satan, why God allowed Satan to wreak havoc in his life, why Satan caused the death of Job’s children but not his wife, and why Job hadn’t had the foresight to select better friends, ones who wouldn’t attack him in the midst of trouble. I also wonder why the culture in which Job lived equated prosperity with blessing and hard times with cursing, why Job’s wife could be so callous, why Elihu feels a personal responsibility to rip into Job, why Job listens to Elihu, why God speaks after his silence, why Job chooses not to answer God’s request to answer, and why Job’s confidence in God increases.

The No. 1 question? If God can prevent suffering yet permits it, is he truly good? In short, the answer is “yes.” The secular worldview holds that seeking pleasure is the goal of this life, so suffering is bad for it is painful. Do anything to get pleasure! In contrast, the Christian worldview sees suffering as positive for through it we become more like Christ, the goal of his disciples. Our suffering is for our ultimate good.

In 1 Peter 1:6‐7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – or greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refines by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Yes, I agree that suffering happens and is allowed by God for good purposes – to develop our patience, faith and hope, and to transform us so we are more Christlike. But I do not like pain. I try to avoid it. Getting absorbed in a great novel can do wonders to help me forget my troubles. . .for a while. I am compelled by my identity to believe God is good. Not only does the living Word attest to his goodness but also the work he has done in me proves his goodness.

What I’ve concluded from the book of Job is suffering happens to everyone, the godly and the ungodly. Suffering is a fact in our fallen world. Just because one lives a holy life doesn’t mean she can avoid suffering. In fact, suffering is probably more likely. Suffering doesn’t often make sense. It is painful.

What we do with our suffering is pivotal. Throw a pity party? Or do we run to God? Do we try to see the good in suffering? Do we thank God in every circumstance, joyful or painful?

Some of the things to learn from Job:

 Reassure a hurting friend that her suffering is real and it hurts.

 Listen well, especially to the reason behind her pain. If her suffering is a result of her sin, gently help her come to this conclusion.

 Continually point her to God – that he will help her in her suffering and will use it for her good. \