Due to the increased interest in this letter I have decided to re-post it. It was originally posted 2-18-2006. The letter contains many thing that will assist others in approaching their Church leadership and in making the hard decisions of whether or not to leave organized religion and to seek God on His terms apart from the general failure of the institution.
Initial Contact with Kerry Bowman
Head Pastor of Eagle Church
I have become very disappointed in the path the Church is taking. I especially am upset with the way you openly link arms with the world in this leadership simulcast thing. What advise can the world give the Lord’s people on how to conduct business or anything else? Doesn’t the Bible make it perfectly clear that we are to pull back from the world? Shouldn’t the leader of Eagle Church be giving advice to stay away from the world as much as possible, not joining forces with them at every opportunity? How can you not expect to receive judgment for openly leading your congregation into sin? And, I simply cannot believe that other, supposedly followers of Christ, leaders, deacons, or just plain Godly people have not spoken up that you stop this absurdity. Has the Organized Church come to blatant, open, rebellion, against God? I can assure you that the Lord is not happy with this new direction. I am preparing an open letter to the congregation to alert them of your unfaithfulness to your position in the Church and to your calling if there is no repentance. The Churches across this land are falling into a very dangerous trap and the leaders will be held responsible to God for the loss of so many souls. I for one will not be silent. I have seen this coming and it is madness.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the FATHER is not in him.” “Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with GOD? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of GOD.” “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers; for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath CHRIST with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?. . .Wherefore: —Come out from amonst them.”
Your immediate response is requested.
Open Letter to Eagle Church
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.”
My name is Steve Blackwell. I am not on the membership roles of Eagle or any other Organized Church, but my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, and that is sufficient. I have been part of the Body here at Eagle since it was built and have watched the transition over the last several years.
This e-mail is being sent to all whose e-mail address is listed in the Church directory, and the Church leadership is receiving it at the same time you are. This e-mail is not being sent without the Pastor awareness. A personal note was sent to Pastor Kerry alerting him of my concern and asking for his response. He has chosen not to respond.
The direction that “The Church” is taking is very serious. I am not saying I have all the facts yet, but I have enough to sound a general alarm.
About a year and a half ago an alarm started going off in my spirit alerting me to a terrible problem we have in our nation and in our Church. This alarm has caused me to change my life radically and with the help of the Holy Spirit I will tell you some of what I know.
You may not agree with what I am about to say but I am obliged to fulfill my duty as a member of the Body of Christ to sound this alarm. It would be irresponsible of me not to do so. If you smelled smoke in your home, in the middle of the night, while every one was sleeping, you would conclude rapidly that your family was in grave danger. Your sense of survival would compel you to take action and save your family and yourself.
Being a Christian is not about doing the easy things and having fun; it is about being obedient and doing the hard things, even at the cost of breaking fellowship with the ones you have come to love. I am neither a highly educated man nor particularly courageous, I am only being obedient in what has been revealed to me through my spirit to warn any and all who will listen of the obvious darkness appearing on the spiritual landscape. Because of this revelation my family and I have elected to leave Eagle Church and continue with the meetings of the Church in our home.
I cannot but think that this message will, at the very least, cause some to investigate these claims further, with the hope that the Holy Spirit would enlighten you. These are grave times we are living in, a time to be awake and not asleep, a time to read your Bible again for the first time, and to think seriously about events relating to the end of time.
What I am saying is that I smell smoke and many others, across this nation and the world, also smell smoke. So please do not pull the covers back over your head, at least consider what I have to say. The first smell of smoke is no indication of just how bad the problem is, it may be minor or it may already be too late, but it can not be ignored.
I am not an “alarmist” by nature or a preacher of “doom and gloom.” I am a Christian realist, and what I am saying is with genuine concern. Where there is smoke there is fire, and the fire of the kind I am talking about has very severe consequences and can not be disregarded.
There has never been a time in all of Church history that has stood out with a more urgent cry to its people than today. There has never been a time when understanding and discernment were more needed, but rarely to be found. There has never been a time like this, where the ability to smell smoke was so needed. The alarm was being sounded as late as the 70’s by people like A. W. Tozer, Watchman Nee, and T Austin Sparks but, has been generally ignored; then there was relative silence. Now, the alarms are being sounded again and they are coming in from every quarter, from around the world.
As I said earlier, alarms started going off in my spirit, a short while back. I have been a Christian for thirty years and nothing like this has ever happened before. In those thirty years of serving God and seeking the “good life” the “good life” had never been produced. I followed all the direction of the different preachers I sat under and read my Bible through many times, but the promise of happiness never materialized the way they predicted. My life was very ordinary, not rich, not poor, just your average person. I was not from a Christian home, but my mom and dad were good people and had Christian values, by default more than practice. We were just a normal average family with all the regular amount of chaos to deal with, seeking the American Dream.
I had this illusion that I was living the exemplary Christian life. Once saved, I quit my insurance sales job because of lifestyle conflicts, Marilyn, my wife, was a stay-at-home-mom, we sent our three girls to Christian schools, went to Church three times a week, worked hard and went to Bible college, we watched very little T.V., and rarely went out on the town, and never to bars or clubs. We were often complemented for our disciplined life style, and we were blessed in many respects, but something was lacking. The chaos and problems we were seeing in other’s lives started showing up in our lives also, and our normal, average, American Christian lifestyle started coming apart at the seams. A year and a half ago the Lord re-entered my life in a very dramatic way after going through a kind of spiritual death. When He revived me I at once realized I was seeing things through different eyes and had a new understanding, as if I had been blind before this. The Bible, which I have studied continuously for the past thirty years, became a totally new book, as if I had never understood it at all in the past.
The First Alarm
I do not blame any of my past Ministers; I had all the same resources that they had, even though they had put themselves in the position of knowing the will and direction of God. They all talked about attaining to the “good life” and led their flocks down rosy paths, and rarely spoke of the extreme cost associated with such a venture. So, what I ended up with was a religion of the flesh, which was little different, in its final results, than the flesh of the world I had left behind. This is precisely the reason that statistics, of divorce, pornography, and abortion, inside the Church and outside the Church read the same; it is the same worldliness only dressed up in a different costume. This was the first Alarm! A very simple observation; there was no difference of quality of life of those inside and outside the Church, none.
Immediately prior to this renewal, I had laid out a set of questions to the Lord in the context of frustration; something like this: why Lord? Why this? Why that? Why me? Haven’t I tried to do all you wanted me to do? Why? Why? Why? And then I just gave up on ever hoping to receive an answer; I just slipped into death. It took me thirty years of building up a history of failure to finally realize that the Lord had allowed me to become an utter failure so that I could know Him in the power of His resurrection. I had never died before, like the Bible teaches that we should. I only died on paper, my certificate of baptism, not like Paul describes in chapter six of the book of Romans. And, it was at this point that He showed me my problem, and my problem was me; I was still alive in the flesh. I had never died with Christ. Now I understood that all that stuff about death and dying, that I had read through all those years past, was the secret threshold that had to be crossed that opened up the new life of trust and faith, a life lived by walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh. This is a life of really believing that God is able to do all He said He would, and walking in that belief; after all, what can a dead man do? Dead men don’t build Churches.
The Second Alarm
The Holy Spirit brought to me, with great force, that all the problems of the world that we hated, were present in the Church, that the world had successfully and completely infiltrated the Church, and that what we are seeing in the Organized Church today is the ultimate completion of a grand plan arranged by Satan himself. Actually you don’t have to look very hard or be very smart to see it; you only have to open your eyes.
The Church in America has failed. Drugs are in the Church, abortion, divorce, pornography, they’re all there, just like on the outside, and in some cases the Church exceeds the world. Even a small child can add 1 + 1. Even a novice businessman can see the failure of the Church as a Christ building business. Unless of course you’re looking at the money, then you might see some success and a motive to keep the Organized Church going. The Church as a numbers game does have promise, as we are seeing. So, Paul’s words that “your meetings do more harm than good,” really apply to the modern Church. If a person from the world comes to the Church seeking solutions, he or she will not likely find the ultimate answer, the answer they need.
The Third Alarm
The third alarm was a simple fact. All that I had read in the Bible for so many years just did not add up in real life and in the Church in America. Example #1, Jesus asked Peter who he said He was and Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said to Peter that he had just received a supernatural revelation from the Holy Spirit and that upon this revelation, of who Jesus really was, His Church would be built and that “the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” But, is that what we actually see with our own two eyes in America? No! In America the gates of Hell are prevailing. Americans have slipped into a coma and sin is out of control. Why? The Biblical conclusion is that we have departed the narrow path; we are pursuing “another gospel,” the American Dream, which is turning out to be a nightmare and completely off the narrow path. The dream of the “good life,” as we have come to know it in America, is an illusion and we are a country lost, in search of something that doesn’t exist. What we are given are policies, programs, more programs, creeds, and classes that have failed one after the other, but never led down that narrow way of dying to the flesh where the real answer awaits. The ways of men have never produced holiness, which is what our soul hungers for, in any of its people and can never prevail against the gates of Hell.
Example #2, In 2 Tim 3:12-13 Paul states as a matter of fact that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted….” Well, the obvious question is, who do we know that is being persecuted in America? If we want to find persecution we need to look in India, or China, or other places, but not in America. Why don’t we see persecution in America? Because what we say from our pulpits and the lives we live are no threat to Satan and his kingdom. I would dare say that he is very happy with the message; it is very social, very tolerant, very non-offensive, and very attractive to the world. One solution, to the problem of not being persecuted, might be to seek out those who are being persecuted and find out what they are doing and copy them. If we did we would very likely find that we too would begin to run into evil forces who do not take lightly the message of truth. We are a sick and dying bunch in America, who only has the appearance of health. If we would only be weak and humble, then would we be strong and healthy. If we would only be obedient with the simple message of truth instead of hiding the light under all our worldly programs then we too would discover that dark forces oppose the children of Light.
Example #3, The cost of following Jesus. All the scripture given in the Bible would lead one to believe that the cost of following Jesus is beyond money and resources, and will cost your very life, indeed it will cost you everything, money, resources, and your life, to follow Jesus. Here are just a few of the cost that are enumerated in the Bible:
What is the cost of discipleship?
1. The true follower of Jesus must leave everything to follow Him, meaning that Jesus must have first priority in our life, over anything, or anyone else.
2. Another cost is to deny oneself. To do the will of Jesus is to be more important than our own selfish ambitions and desires. We should pray, not my will, but yours be done.
3. We are to follow Him unconditionally and not let the concerns of this world prevent us. A total separation from worldliness and a total commitment to Jesus is required. In Luke 9: 57 to 62, we read of three people who desired to be disciples of Jesus, but their priorities were not right. Jesus required their undivided attention and loyalty, but they were more concerned with possessions, personal gain, their livelihood and families. A person who does not put Jesus first cannot be a true follower.
4. Another cost of following Jesus is that we must Love Him supremely, from our whole heart, even more than we love ourselves and more than those closest to us, even our wife or children. Jesus said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37) and for those of you who say, “It doesn’t mention ‘wife’” read Luke 14:26. In comparison to the love we have for Jesus, it is like hating those who in the natural sense are closest to us (Luke 14:26). This does not mean we do not love our family members; rather, Jesus used this expression as a means of comparison.
5. We must be willing to sacrifice for the sake of following Jesus. There may be a heavy price we must pay to follow Jesus with utmost commitment. For some, it may mean giving up extra income, or giving up comforts, even giving up position, honor, or reputation. Let us have the attitude of the Apostle Paul who said, “But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Do you really believe this?
6. As followers we are to count the cost, and consider the hardships that will arise for the sake of Jesus. It could cause much division in the home, if one or two are believers in Jesus and the others are not. With this scenario in mind, Jesus said, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother . . . “ (Luke 12:51-53). Converts to Christianity from other religions have experienced division and have even been abandoned and cast out by their families (Matthew 24:9). For them, there is no peace on earth, and yet they do have peace in their hearts, for they have peace with God and they will one day have peace in eternity with God.
7. Another cost of following Jesus is total surrender (Luke 14:33) and undying allegiance. We are to follow Him always, go wherever He leads, and obey His every command. He commands that we repent of sin; submit our wills, renew our minds, be baptized, consecrate our hearts, worship Him and have full and complete obedience to Him.
8. This brings us to the eighth item in our list of what it costs to follow Jesus… we must be willing to submit to Him, keep His commandments, and live a life worthy of bearing His name, that of being a “Christian.” Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Every aspect of our life must be God-honoring.
9. Lastly, to use the expression of Jesus, the true follower must “carry his cross” and follow Jesus (Luke 14:27). This means that we must endure pain, suffering, persecution (Philippians 1:29), and to even be willing to die for Him. The Apostle Paul exhorted the young man Timothy, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).
I had fooled myself for years, and that foolishness was reinforced by the Church leaders, that I was O.K. with the Lord, when all along I was being deceived by Satan. The cost to follow Christ today has been so cheapened that a multitude of Pagans flood the church sanctuary looking for a free lunch; at the most it only cost a little in the collection plate, and they go home satisfied that they have worshiped God and all-is-well with their souls. We only delude ourselves into believing that we have paid the cost, but it has cost us nothing.
I could go on and on with numerous examples of how our lives do not measure up to what we read in the Bible, but you can read it for yourself, it is all there, on every page, you don’t need that any man should show you.
A little more then I’m done. These things were the beginning of my enlightenment. It never came through study but by the Holy Spirit through revelation, it just flashed upon me and I could see. The Holy Spirit has given me much insight into His Word and speaks to my spirit often now. What I have come to know now is that very much that goes on inside the Organized Church walls is totally worthless and that what is called the “church growth movement” is of the Devil and this is the main point of this letter.
Holy Scripture makes lots of things clear and one of those things is that man was born blind and has no capability to see unless sight is given to him by God. Man, in and of himself, is a stumbling, blind, creature. And also, it is clear that that blindness is through the deception of Satan. The Bible says he is the deceiver of the WHOLE world. It also says that in the end Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit, that serpent that deceived whole nations. Is it conceivable that the people of America have believed a lie? Is it possible that through our disobedience and pride that God has allowed us to continue in that lie? Is it possible that we have gotten so involved in the lie that we won’t believe the Truth? Is it possible that we love the lie more than the Truth? Is it possible that we believe the Lie to be the Truth? All these things are possible as the Bible states and also that in the last days before Jesus’ return, we should expect these things, and be on our guard. The sad thing is that many who we call brother and sister will never see the Truth and continue on in their delusion. But, there will be some that will see and come out from amongst them.
The Fifth Alarm
Don’t get caught up in the bigness or business of the Organized Church. This should be another sign that something is wrong. Bigness, showiness, loudness, drama, twin video screens, gymnasiums, the mysterious disappearance of the Cross, and the like are all geared to appeal to the flesh and the world and are not of Christ; it is of man for man. As I said earlier it is a numbers game. The contention is that the end justifies the means, the end being that the Church will get large numbers of unbelievers into the building to hear the message. This is a lie. With Christ the ends never ever justified the means, never. The Lord doesn’t need the help of godless unbelievers to build His Church; He never has and never will, Not Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, not Robert Schuller, not Peter Drucker, not Bob Buford, or the worldly methodologies used by them such as, Hegelian dialectics or Diaprax, thesis and antithesis, change agents, new paradigms or any other thing. A few have tried to warn us about this new “marketing and managing of the Church” movement: John MacArthur, and Oz Guinness to name a couple. Tozer warned that the Church was coming to this, and in 1 Tim 4:1-2 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”
2 Peter 2:1-3
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”
For the Church to openly admit that it is committing spiritual adultery with the world and not blink an eye is beyond me, and as far as I know none of the leadership is objecting. The Scriptures are explicit in this regard:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the FATHER is not in him.” “Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with GOD? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of GOD.” “Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers; for what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath CHRIST with Belial? or what portion hath a believer with an unbeliever?. . .Wherefore: —”
“Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
And touch no unclean thing;
And I will receive you,
And will be to you a FATHER,
And ye shall be to Me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
We have to take our choice: we cannot enjoy both the world and CHRIST. Pastor Kerry in one of his last e-mails admitted that some of these who would be “impacting” you are NON-Christians. Should shepherds lead God’s flock where He says danger waits?
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At a time in our history when we should be getting back to the basics of God’s Word and the simplicity found in Jesus, the Church is exploding into madness and heresy and open fornication with the world, and sincerely believes that God will bless it!
There is so much more that needs to be said but, I don’t know how to say it. All the Prophets and the Apostles foreseen these days and warned those who would live during the Last Days and we are “those” people. The alarms are sounding now. That little cloud on the horizon, we realize now, is a storm cloud, and it’s headed our way. I am afraid for many who will pull the covers over their head, push the snooze button, and just go back to sleep. “We live in America, what can harm us here?” We boast that “we are America” and that “there is no other” and while we sleep, we will be taken away, without another warning.
I know these words will draw fire and I fully expect it and am prepared for it. Not all will see the urgency. This letter, for most, will only be the ramblings of a silly man trying to spoil the fun and fellowship of God’s people. For a few others it will be the signal to flee the wrath to come. I have never advocated that anyone take my word for anything, but check it out for your self. I will be praying for you.
I have fulfilled my duty to the Body of Christ @ Eagle.
May God bless you, and have mercy on us all.
Rebuttal by Tim Swarens
Vice Chairman of Eagle’s Board of Elders
May 1, 2006
Eagle Church Family
Many of you recently received a lengthy e-mail from Steve Blackwell, who used to attend Eagle. As vice chairman of Eagle’s Board of Elders, I would like to respond to various assertions Mr. Blackwell made in his letter. Another elder and I will attempt to meet with Mt. Blackwell later this week. As always, if you have questions or concerns regarding this or any other matter, please feel free to contact me or another elderly directly.
It’s important to note that Mr. Blackwell’s letter was sent without the knowledge of Eagle’s pastoral staff or elders. An e-mail was sent to Pastor Bowman late Friday informing of Mr. Blackwell’s intention to send the letter, but the message was not read until after the letter was distributed Saturday to about 300 e-mail addresses.
Among the accusations that Mr. Blackwell made in his letter is the claim that “the Organized Church today is the ultimate completion of a grand plan arranged by Satan himself.” I have no idea how Mr. Blackwell arrived at this conclusion, but such accusations are not new. In Mark 3:22, the teachers of the law asserted that Jesus himself “is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.” in verse 23-29, Jesus responded to his accusation by saying, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand…”
Look at Eagle in the past month: More than 900 of us celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior on Easter Sunday. In the latest sermon series, Pastor Kerry challenged us not to turn Jesus into our personal mascot, but to make him our Monarch. Pastor Eric challenged small group members to confront and repent of sin in their lives. Pastor Brad and his team challenged us with dynamic, powerful worship and praise. Clint and Jen challenged high school and middle school students to grow in their faith through weekly teaching and through the Believe Conference at Anderson University. Pat Dragon challenged our children through, yes, fun, but also substantive teaching in our rainbow of zones on the lower level, plus the monthly KidStuf service. We have sent a team of short term missionaries to Spain. We have begun preparing missionary teams for service this summer in Bosnia and Louisiana. We have prayed for and supported missionaries around the world, including our own Petula Myers in Bosnia. We have prayed for and comforted the sick, the hurting, the poor and the downcast. We have challenged one another, loved one another, and worshipped with one another as only the Body of Christ can do.
Above it all we have been privileged to witness lives changed for eternity. Just yesterday, several people came to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Others were baptized. And hundreds of others were challenged by Pastor Kerry to live their lives fully for Christ.
Eagle is “the ultimate completion of a grand plan arranged by Satan himself”? I think not. More important, I am confident that Jesus himself thinks not, but is in fact rejoicing at the souls saved and the lives transformed.
Mr. Blackwell also condemns Eagle’s leaders and other evangelical leaders such as Bill Hybels and Rick Warren for playing “a numbers game.” Again, such criticism is not new. For decades, some Christians protested outside Billy Graham’s crusades because he was using the “wrong” methods and associating with the “wrong” people. The Rev. Graham was “too worldly” for these believers. I believe Jesus would point such critics to Luke 6: 37-45. He also could point them to 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23, including this passage written by the Apostle Paul, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.”
Please believe that Eagle’s pastor and elders strive to do everything for the sake of the gospel. Do we make mistakes? Yes, we are fallible humans who at times unintentionally irritate and even hurt fellow believers. We always will listen to concerns and correction honestly and humbly given. We will strive to correct true mistakes and lower obstacles that keep believers from growing in their faith. But we will never apologize for answering the call to introduce a lost and hurting world to a friend and savior named Jesus Christ.
Finally, I do agree with one statement Mr. Blackwell made in his letter: “With Christ the end never justified the means.” that includes following the principles outlined in Matthew 18 for correcting a fellow Christian whom you believe is in error. Practicing those principles is essential for the healthy operation of Eagle Church or any other church. I pray, as an elder at Eagle, that each of us would follow Matthew 18 principles as we strive to serve together in Christ’s church. Thank you and God bless.
Vice chairman, Elder Board
Rebuttal of the Rebuttal
by Steve Blackwell
A Rebuttal of the Rebuttal
May 15, 2006
To All My Friends @ Eagle Church:
Of course you are all aware of the open letter I sent to Eagle Church. It was my intention to say my piece and then just let it go, but upon further thought and prayer I have decided to say something more.
In England they love to hunt fox; it is a great contest of hunter and dog skill. I mention this, not because what I’m doing is some sort of sport to be won or lost, but because of a tactic used, unfairly, to spoil the sport of the hunt. The night before the hunt, while no one is watching, a member of the opposing team would pull a little stunt to confuse the dogs. He would take a dead fish (red herring) and drag it across the field in front of where the opponent’s dogs would start. Dogs, even well trained dogs, depend on and are controlled by their sense of smell; they both love to hunt and to eat. Older dogs can overcome this trick through discipline, but younger dogs will give in to their appetite and follow the smell of the red herring. This trick has one purpose, and that is to throw the dogs off the trail of the fox to follow a false trail.
Tim Swaren’s rebuttal is a red herring, or worse, it is subterfuge, chaff, rubbish; I could have used stronger words but I’m trying to be polite. He is using his hunting skills of deception to manipulate the congregation’s, supposed ignorance, and lead them onto a different path. He knows that if the main issues of my letter are kept silent and played down they will go away; people have a short memory; they want to believe in their Pastor; they want to be kept out of such things; they want to think that everything is peachy, even if its not; they don’t want to be confused by the facts. He is purposely leading people away from facing the issues addressed, by focusing on incidentals and side issues, and skirting around major issues of unfaithfulness and worldly dealings and methodologies which are contrary to God’s word. The issues he stresses in his rebuttal concern only me, but the questions he avoids in my letter, if they are valid, concern the whole body, and have eternal consequences.
Red herrings are usually employed to avoid having to face an issue where the findings will not likely be favorable, so it becomes necessary to raise other issues, by re-stating the questions using different words, and directed at dirtying the questioner’s character. We see this all the time in politics and it is very effective, and it is also deceptive and dishonest, especially coming from the vice chairman of the board of Elders, who handles ethical issues. This in itself is worthy of investigation.
I am not trying to protect my character from assault but rather allowing the light of the Gospel to shine in truth. Let the assaults come, I make no defense for myself, the Word of God can speak for itself, and it is speaking loudly for those who can hear.
I want to apologize if my approach to the situation affected the Body in any adverse way by not adhering to the strict rule of “conflict resolution” as found in Matt. 18, although it would not have changed a thing, and as it turns out it was exactly the right thing to do. To allow the deacon board to have its shot at me before the mail went out, in hind sight, probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.
I am going to clarify a couple of things I said in my letter, that I assumed anyone with knowledge of the Bible would have understood.
No. 1 “The Holy Spirit brought to me, with great force, that all the problems of the world that we hated, were present in the Church, that the world had successfully and completely infiltrated the Church, and that what we are seeing in the Organized Church today is the ultimate completion of a grand plan arranged by Satan himself.”
Tim said that he has no idea how I arrived at this conclusion, and then aligns me with the Pharisees, asserting, like the “leadership” of Jesus day, that Jesus possessed a devil. I am surprised that an Elder, especially the vice chairman, could make that statement, but I shouldn’t be considering the Bible forecast such blindness in the last days. To begin with I stated right in the letter how I came to that conclusion; I opened my eyes, or I should say the Lord opened my eyes, and then the Bible confirmed what I saw. It’s funny that he would use Mark 3:22-29 as his proof text, because it proves my point. The Pharisees accused Jesus of having an evil spirit; now we know that that is impossible. Is Tim saying that it is also impossible for the organized church to be deceived? Is he putting himself and the church on the same level as Jesus? Does he really believe that he and the church are perfect and above reproach?
Jesus Himself was trying to reason with the organized religion of His day, but they simply could not see it, they were blind; the blind leading the blind. In Matt 23:13-36 Jesus confronts organized religion with these words:
“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned. “
“You’re hopeless! What arrogant stupidity! You say, ‘If someone makes a promise with his fingers crossed, that’s nothing; but if he swears with his hand on the Bible, that’s serious.’ What ignorance! Does the leather on the Bible carry more weight than the skin on your hands? And what about this piece of trivia: ‘If you shake hands on a promise, that’s nothing; but if you raise your hand that God is your witness, that’s serious’? What ridiculous hairsplitting! What difference does it make whether you shake hands or raise hands? A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless. “
“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment — the absolute basics! — you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons? “
“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something. “
“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.
“You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You build granite tombs for your prophets and marble monuments for your saints. And you say that if you had lived in the days of your ancestors, no blood would have been on your hands. You protest too much! You’re cut from the same cloth as those murderers, and daily add to the death count. “
“Snakes! Reptilian sneaks! Do you think you can worm your way out of this? Never have to pay the piper? It’s on account of people like you that I send prophets and wise guides and scholars generation after generation — and generation after generation you treat them like dirt, greeting them with lynch mobs, hounding them with abuse.”
“You can’t squirm out of this: Every drop of righteous blood ever spilled on this earth, beginning with the blood of that good man Abel right down to the blood of Zechariah, Barachiah’s son, whom you murdered at his prayers, is on your head. All this, I’m telling you, is coming down on you, on your generation. ”
“Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Murderer of prophets! Killer of the ones who brought you God’s news! How often I’ve ached to embrace your children, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let me. And now you’re so desolate, nothing but a ghost town. What is there left to say? Only this: I’m out of here soon. The next time you see me you’ll say, ‘Oh, God has blessed him! He’s come, bringing God’s rule!'”
I wonder if Jesus adhered to Matt. 18 concerning conflict resolution?
But to be more specific concerning Satan’s desire to infiltrate the church, here are some Scripture references:
“‘When men fall down, do they not get up?
When a man turns away, does he not return?
Why then have these people turned away?
Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
they refuse to return.
I have listened attentively,
but they do not say what is right.
No one repents of his wickedness,
saying, “What have I done?”
Each pursues his own course
like a horse charging into battle.
Even the stork in the sky
knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
the requirements of the LORD. ”
This is a reference to the then present infiltration of Satan into the Jewish religious institution during the time of Jeremiah. It is also indicative of an ever repeating cycle in mans search for God. We cling to deceit! We have fallen and we need to get up! We have turned away and we need to return! We have strayed far from the requirements of the LORD. He doesn’t mention Satan by name, so are we to deduce that there was some other reason for their stupidity? No! It is Satan at work here and it is Satan at work always. It has always been Satan’s plan to destroy the Church, from the inside out. This is why judgment will start at the House of God.
He then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’
“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this scripture:
“‘The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the Lord has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
I have to concede a point here. If Satan could have killed the Son then he would not have a Church to infiltrate. Today Satan has the Church to deal with and blindness and deafness are such effective weapons against it. Just like the Jews, so is the Church; we never heard the voices of the Prophets who are read every Sabbath; when Jesus came they missed Him, even though they lived, ate, and slept with the Scriptures. Will we miss Him, with all our vast intelligence?
2 Peter 2:1-3
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”
Need I point out that this is talking about the demise of the Church as of 2006.
You might still be asking along with Tim, “I have no idea how Mr. Blackwell arrived at this conclusion,” if so consider the following. What do you say Christianity is? If I say I’m a Christian does that make it so? If I raise my hand at some prompt and say I accept Jesus, does that make me a Christian? What does a Christian look like? Who is a Christian by definition?
Pretend for a moment that you are someone who desires to be as rich as Bill Gates but at last tally had only accumulated a mere $50.00. If you were to call yourself a billionaire, should we go along with you because you are trying; would we be foolish enough to believe, because you use certain language, that you are indeed as rich as Bill Gates? I think wisdom would say, “Say to yourself my son, my daughter, ‘I am not a billionaire’ and guard against being called a fool.”
The point is this: if there is to be any meaning to what you have said you must at least resemble whatever it is you are striving towards. In order to hide the fact that this person is not a billionaire it simply becomes a matter of “confessing” positively that you are a billionaire and that you are at least trying to become a billionaire. Having said that you can conclude that a person has to do nothing to become as rich as Bill Gates; how ridiculous. Anyone who reads the New Testament with any kind of desire to see what Christianity looks like has to see that there is nothing around us that “at least resembles” what we are trying to become. Consequently we are all made out to be fools: duped, tricked, and deceived. Jesus never once asked for admirers, supporters, or want-a-be’s. He only wanted followers and disciples.
Or, what about this? Is the Gospel for the poor or for the rich? Jesus said “the Gospel is preached to the poor.” Was this just a historical study or was He saying the Gospel was to be preached to the poor? My conclusion from reading the Bible is that the vast majority of the preaching was to the poor, by the poor. It was preached not just to the poverty stricken, but the poor wretched, the poor wronged, the poor oppressed, the poor crippled and lame and leprous and demonic. The Gospel was very Good New to them. It wasn’t money, good health, status, and all that garbage—No, this isn’t Christianity. Poorness in the world today, in this great United States, is turned into, not misfortune, but guilt. Originally, poorness was looked at as nearness to God. To be poor in this world is to be rich in the next. That is the way it was originally; this is the Gospel of the New Testament. It was preached to the poor, by the poor.
But soon there came a change. When preaching the Gospel became a livelihood, then the gospel became the good news of the rich. It became in the best interest of the preacher to swing the door open wide and secure the ranks of the rich and famous and the connected. It was then that the Good News ceased to be good tidings, transforming suffering and sorrow into joy. Now it has become a warranty of good times and a life intensified by drama and video and orchestras, and all wrapped up and secured with the hope of eternity. Today the gospel is preached to the rich and influential. Now, wait a minute. Aren’t we right back, all over again, to the very state Jeremiah talked about, to the very state that original Christianity opposed? The rich, wise and powerful get their cake and eat it too. They get to keep all their riches here on earth and then go bounding off to heaven, how absolutely wonderful Christianity has become, it has surely been perfected, how pleased Jesus must be.
Tim, Tim, Tim, I am afraid if you can’t see it, you won’t see it. School is almost out, finals are almost ready, and then we will know who passes. If we will discover, which I’m sure most will not, the way back, if we will return, if we will follow that inner leading to let go of this world, then we will know whereof Jesus spoke, whether it was from Himself or from the Father, John 7:17.
I said I was going to clarify a couple of things. The other thing I wanted to respond to was Tim’s remarks to my statement concerning Rick Warren. I think I will wait. What I will say though is that simply to use religious language and write best selling books does not make you favorable in God’s eyes. Remember Satan and the garden?
My heart aches as I write this because I know the time is so short and we are so blind.
God help us.