Category Archives: Accountability

“Where Two Or Three Are Gathered” And Other Bad Interpretations

“Skillful Scripture Study” was  the one class I enjoyed teaching the most during my tenure as a Prof at Christ for The Nations Bible College in Dallas,Texas. I endured the angst of many irate students by challenging  charismatic myths fostered by those ignoring hermeneutical norms so that they could play  fast and loose with a biblical text.

Binding and loosing, Satan comes to  kill,steal and destroy,  and Pulling down strongholds are but a few of the texts  I showed to be selectively abstracted from the contextual flow of a favorite verse.

Selective abstraction is a type of cognitive bias in which terms are taken out of context  while everything else in the context is completely ignored. Credo House Ministries posted this great example of  how Matthew 18 is often  de-contextualized by making it a proof text for having others simply agree together in general  prayer.

I selectively abstracted a section to entice you to read the entire artlicle. Now thats funny!


“… I sat there praying with this group of people, saying my “umms” and shaking my head at the appropriate times (I hope). Then something made me hara. I tried to brush it off, but it was too difficult. She said the unthinkable . . . I cannot believe she used this verse. It was manipulative, irresponsible, and downright misleading. What was her crime? She used the “where two or three are gathered in my name . . .” trick. She misused Matthew 18:20. Of course, this is tongue-in-cheek. She did not really have any ill-intentions. She was just following the folklore about this verse, which she had probably heard herself countless times in the past. We have all done it so don’t get smug. Let’s look at the verse.

Matt. 18:20
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

It happens all the time: Prayers which invoke the presence of Jesus during the gathering . . . well, so long as there are “two or three.” What does this mean? Does it mean that Christ is more likely to answer your prayer? Does it mean that Christ’s actual presence is in the middle of your prayer circle . . . a ghost, phantom, or floating entity? Maybe he is there holding our hands. And which is it, for goodness’ sake? Two, or three? The idea is this: we have to have more than one person to get this mystical real presence of Christ invoked and some people have made a sacrament out of this.

However, this is not what this verse means. And I do get somewhat red-nosed about this because it can mislead us about the power of God and our prayer life.

Matthew 18:20, like every other passage of Scripture, has a context. When we look at the context we find that the pericope (single unit of thought) in which this verse occurs starts in verse 15…..”


Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Accountability, charismatic, doctrine, hermeneutics, prayer


Creflo Dollar Arrested

Dr. Creflo A. Dollar

Dr. Creflo A. Dollar (Photo credit: iandavid)

While I was away celebrating 40 years of covenant marriage with the wife of my youth, the blogosphere has  been buzzing  with the arrest of Pastor Creflo Dollar here in Atlanta,Ga. As a late comer, I would like  to address an issue that should deeply trouble all of us who have a heart for righteous judgment.

Creflo Dollar recently and erroneously called for members of Bishop Eddie Long‘s Church to stay with their Pastor even though he had been charged with sexual abuse by three separate men  and eventually paid “behind closed doors hush money” to his  accusers.

 What was  Dollars basis for giving such antinomian counsel?

Creflo told his congregation:”That preacher’s still anointed to do what he was called to. He just had a wreck. The blood will take care of his issue just like it will take care of yours,” Dollar stated. “And I just can’t believe that people would leave their preacher because he had a wreck, instead of praying for him.”

With Creflo’s arrest for allegedly choking and physically abusing his young daughter, his congregation appears to be abiding by the “Dollar  Doctrine” by giving him an enthusiastic ovation as he took the pulpit on Sunday and congregants were  heard yelling: “We love you!” and “We’ve got your back!”

I find this to be a tragically dangerous and woefully inappropriate  response on the part of the congregation. Assumed innocence demonstrates naiveté at best.

Here are extracts from Peacemakers regarding two errors that every church should advisedly avoid:

Under-protecting a Leader

The first error is to under-protect the leader who is questioned or accused of wrongdoing. Under-protecting a leader may involve allowing gossip and rumors to spread unchecked, jumping to conclusions about a leader’s guilt, or failing to give him a meaningful opportunity to defend himself. It may also involve expecting or allowing a leader to spend significant amounts of time responding to trivial or unsubstantiated criticisms, often about style rather than substance, voiced by a few dissatisfied people.

These patterns can lead to a “culture of criticism” that will wear down most leaders. When leaders are subjected to ongoing criticism, their credibility is needlessly eroded; this can diminish trust, commitment, and enthusiasm throughout their church or ministry.

Over-protecting a Leader

The second error that many churches and ministries make is to over-protect their leaders. They develop a self-confidence and blind loyalty that compels them to become defensive and automatically “circle the wagons” when a leader is questioned or accused of wrongdoing. They assume the challenge must be unfounded and immediately look for ways to minimize it or explain it away. They may rely on second-hand information or simply accept the leader’s interpretation of his accuser’s words and motives. And sometimes in an effort to justify or protect the leader, they attempt to silence, find fault with, or otherwise discredit or penalize the person who brought the accusation. As Jesus would put it, rather than humbly seeking to discern the “planks” in their leader’s or their own eyes, these leadership teams jump immediately to pointing out the “specks” in the eyes of others (Matt. 7:3-5).

This excessively protective pattern can create a “culture of denial,” where differences and problems are automatically minimized or concealed.

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Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Accountability, antinomian, charismatic, error, influence


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When The Minister Makes It Personal


The Pharisees Question Jesus

The Pharisees Question Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A most troubling experience it is. Your congregants share how much they thoroughly enjoy the  ministry of  the word and affirmingly posture themselves as “happily fed campers” in the house. 

You instruct on the importance of “rebuke” as a means of grace to produce a mature faith.  lovingly but forthrightly you unpack  Matthew 18 to redemptively address times of relational conflict that lead to an offense and show them how to righteously walk it out in a Christ honoring way. 

As their minister, you feel some sense of fulfillment knowing that word-based equipping is common place with the saints you serve. But then it happens. One of the affirming congregants journeys into the realm of serious sin and now integrity calls you to make personal application of the truth that has gone forth.

It’s time to move from public pulpiteer to pastoral practitioner. As the shepherd,you insert yourself into their life and press for authentic repentance from sin. And the unthinkable happens!

                                                                                                        Ezekiel 32:33

“To them you are nothing more than a singer with a beautiful voice who sings love songs or a musician who plays an instrument. They listen to your words, but  have no intention of doing them.”

Ezekiel’s words become your reality as  “the luv” quickly turns into defiant resistance and you begin to endure relational rejection, and slanderous allegations.  What was once hailed  as a “good word”  is now accused of being abusive,legalistic, or even cultish.  The family leaves the church. How can this be?

Give  Spurgeon a read as he explains the cause for  such uncharactered things to happen.


n religion men love far rather to believe abstract doctrines, and to talk of general truths, than the searching inquiries which examine their own personal interest in it. You will hear many men admire the preacher who deals in generalities, but when he comes to press home searching questions, by-and-by they are offended.

If we stand and declare general facts, such as the universal sinnership of mankind, or the need of a Saviour, they will give an assent to our doctrine, and possibly they may retire greatly delighted with the discourse, because it has not affected them; but how often will our audience gnash their teeth, and go away in a rage, because, like the Pharisees with Jesus, they perceive, concerning a faithful minister, that he spoke of them.


Guarding Against Spiritual Abuse

A picture of Pisgah Baptist Church in Four Oak...

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Charisma News posted this  great article on the subject of spiritual abuse by Jennifer LeClaire. The abuse  issue is very,very real in the church today. For that reason, it has been our custom to make “guarding against spiritual abuse” a matter of primary importance by including the subject in our new members classes. 

I have also personally encounted a number of these wolfish practices just since returning to Lagrange.  With that in mind, here are some extracts from the Charisma article they posted this week.

 Also, please consider checking out the other related articles we’ve posted in the past. 

Whenever  you see these traits, may I suggest that you not ignore the signs. In fact, flee for your lives saints!


>Power-posturing is a telltale sign of spiritual abuse.

Power-posturing leaders spend a lot of time focused on their own authority and reminding others of it. Johnson and VanVonderen say this is necessary because their spiritual authority isn’t real—based on genuine godly character—it is postured….This leader can never be questioned, and is usually not accountable to anyone. Those around him are usually mere “yes men” who do his bidding in exchange for delegated authority to lord over others.

>Performance preoccupation is a sign of spiritual abuse.

 Johnson and VanVonderen note that obedience and submission are two important words often used in abusive church structures. Don’t get me wrong. Obedience and submission are important. But spiritual abuse often shames or scares people into obedience and submission. True obedience is a matter of the heart. Spiritual abusers apply undue pressure that is not from God. That pressure is usually applied to get you to do the leader’s will, not God’s will.

>Unspoken rules are common in instances of spiritual abuse.

In abusive spiritual systems, Johnson and VanVonderen offer….. “Unspoken rules are those that govern unhealthy churches of families but are not said out loud. Because they are not said out loud, you don’t find out that they’re there until you break them,” 

>The “Can’t Talk” rule is seen where spiritual abuse is present.

Johnson and VanVonderen explain that the “can’t talk” rule blames the person who talks, and the ensuing punishments pressure questioners into silence. If you voice a problem you become the problem. If you question why the church no longer picks up the poor kids in the ministry van but has shifted its focus to more affluent neighborhoods, you are removed from your role as a volunteer driver. Others see your fate and decide they’d better not rock the boat.

>Lack of balance and extremism is often present where spiritual abuse lives.

This manifests as an unbalanced approach to living out the truth of the Christian life. Johnson and VanVonderen explain that in these systems it is more important to act according to the word of a leader who has “a word” for you than to act according to what you know to be true from Scripture, or simply from your spiritual-growth history.

related posts:



Church Discipline Isn’t A Dirty Chore

Jesus et brebis

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Bobby Jamieson gets it right in this recent article over at 9Marks.

A church that neglects or disregards redemptive church discipline is denying the Gospel to the wayward one. For this reason, the Reformers framed three marks of a true church and included  discipline as an essential identifying trait.A congregation that was absent of this mark was to be excluded from being viewed as an authentic church.

 Here are some excerpts that convey  well-reasoned gospel truth.


When it comes to life in the church, I think that many of us treat church discipline as a dirty chore. From private rebuke to public exclusion, we can resent the whole process. We hold our nose and look the other way as we go through the motions, eager to be done with all the mess.

 I don’t deny that dealing with sin in the church can be uncomfortable, painful, and even disheartening. But we shouldn’t treat church discipline as a dirty chore.

Corrective church discipline begins—and, praise the Lord, very often ends—with one church member privately confronting the sin of another member. In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus himself commands us to do this when our brother sins against us. Then Jesus provides further instruction about what to do if the individual doesn’t repent, ultimately culminating, if necessary, in excluding him or her from the congregation.

…When we confront a sinning brother, we should have in hand not only a rebuke but also a blank check of forgiveness. If the brother repents, the check gets quickly written and handed over, and we’ve both won (v. 15).

Church discipline is the gospel in action. Just as God doesn’t leave us in our sin but comes to us in rebuking grace, so we also extend that grace to others. So, despite the pain and discomfort it can bring, we shouldn’t treat dealing with sin in the church as a dirty chore.

 Instead, we should count it a solemn privilege to imitate the Good Shepherd who left the ninety-nine on the hillside to go after the one straying sheep—which is each one of us.”

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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in Accountability, Church Discipline, doctrine, gospel



Joel Osteen Embraces Romney’s Mormonism

Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas

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Mormonism is definitively a “damnable heresy” that codifies doctrines of demons and stands under the Apostle Paul’s double curse.   “Whoever tells you good news that is different from the Good News we gave you should be condemned to hell, even if he is one of us or an angel from heaven” [Galatians 1:8]

 The leaders of the cult are straight up deceitful workers of satan masquerading themselves as ministers of light.…such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. ..even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, [2 Corinthians 11:12 ].

However, as you can see in this video,  Joel Osteen states on national television that he personally embraces Mitt Romney’s Mormonism as Christian even though its doctrinal tenets are documentably antichrist and cursed of God.

In making this willfully ignorant and heretical statement, Joel imputes regenerative saving power, forgiveness of sins and the  hope of eternal life  to  “the false gospel” proclaimed by Mormonism. In doing so, Osteen stands guilty of damning millions of people to eternity in a devils hell.

Watch this shocking video first

Joel should immediately be brought up on charges of gospel heresy before a church court called by the nations most  influential ministers. He must be required to recant publicly and nationally for his damning affirmation of “another gospel”.

 In the event that he refuses such accountability, he then should be publicly  “excommunicated” from evangelicalism and  “turned over to satan” Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme. [1 Timothy 1:20]

I call upon  the “New Apostolic Reformation” and other national leaders to do their job, and while we wait, every follower of Christ should heed the Apostle Johns mandate which will require turning off the  television or changing the channel when Joel comes on.

“Anyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; …If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching , don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work. [2 John 1:9-11]



Public Support for Capital Punishment

1916 photograph of an execution by firing squa...
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 If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image.                                        [Genesis 9:6]

“Controversy over the Sept. 21 execution of Troy Davis, has focused renewed attention on the death penalty. Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing a Georgia police officer. A 2010 Pew Research Center survey found that most Americans (62%) express support for the death penalty for persons convicted of murder. An analysis of trends over time shows that public support for capital punishment has experienced significant rises and dips since the late 1960s, but it has never fallen below 50%.”

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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Accountability, Death Penalty, justice


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