Reimagining a Church Insurgence

Frank Viola has written quite a few books with titles like pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church, There Must Be More, Discipleship in Crisis, Rethinking the Will of God and Insurgence. He’s got a couple web sites and a blog and has worked with George Barna who founded Barna Research which is kind of like a Christian version of the Gallup Research organization. If I read his information correctly, he’s also a disciple of Watchman Nee, which is important and I’ll talk about it more in a minute or two. I read pagan Christianity, and I’ve checked out summaries of some of the other books Mr. Viola has written.

I was studying up on his works when I ran across an offer he makes on his website to do print interviews for your book, film, album, resource, other product or service. According to the site all you have to do is send them the information and if they approve you pay $200.00 for it. A nice deal. So I thought, “Hey, our book Whole Bible Christianity seems like a great fit for Reimagining Church. Maybe he’d like to help us promote it.” I figured he must be serious about the problems in the church and finding solutions, and I’d like to help by showing Frank some of the things I think the Lord has shown to me. Since I’m an “Insurgent” I got excited thinking what a great match up this would be.

I was wrong.

I requested an interview, and gave links for my book and website, and said I had read pagan Christianity and agreed with Frank’s assessment of the church but thought I had something to add to the solution. After I sent in the request, I got a reply from someone named Anaya, so maybe Frank didn’t even see it. But since his people represent him, I think I’m safe in characterizing her (his?) reply as indicative of Frank’s attitudes. So in her first reply, she said that pagan Christianity wasn’t supposed to have solutions, but Frank’s later books did and had I read them? I emailed back and said I didn’t have to read them, I had heard what he was talking about decades ago from other people. After about a month I emailed and asked if she had anymore questions. She emailed back and said she hadn’t seen an Interview Request from my email address. So I re-sent copies of our email exchange. To my surprise, she said they weren’t “accepting any interview spots right now because all spots are taken until mid-2019.”

Huh?

If this is true, why doesn’t it say so on the website? Why didn’t she tell me in the first email all the spots were taken? I think I know why, and it doesn’t have anything to do with how many spots are taken. Without question she looked at my book and website and decided they didn’t want anything to do with it. And why do you suppose this is a problem? Because I write in very passionate terms of God’s Law, with so much support from the Word that it is undeniable that it should be a central part of all believer’s lives. This of course in contrast to standard church teaching ignoring the New Covenant and promoting a mystical buddy from out of town who allows any behavior one chooses.

Can Frank do what he wants? Of course. Does he have to lie? You wouldn’t think so. He says he wants to “break the echo-chamber phenomenon that’s in the bloodstream of the blogosphere today” yet it seems plain from their dodgy response to my Interview Request that perhaps echos are all they want to hear.

Part of Frank’s problem is that he sets up a false dichotomy between a “right” and “left” in the church. I’ll let him explain his “Three Gospels.” From a Bible Gateway interview on his site.

There is the gospel of legalism, which isn’t just working for one’s salvation. The gospel of legalism says that if you want God’s favor, you have to perform to receive it. This causes many Christians to live with a headache of guilt and a constant feeling that they are never measuring up.

In reaction to that is the “gospel” of libertinism which says that because we’re under grace, our behavior doesn’t really matter much to God. So we can live the way we want, and God is okay with it because He understands that we are mere mortals.

The third gospel is the gospel of the kingdom, which brings liberty on the one hand and absolute allegiance to Christ’s lordship on the other.

You see what he does? On the one hand the “right” or “evangelical” or “conservative” view lumps together legalism with performing for God’s favor. On the “left” hand we have “libertinism” meaning behavior doesn’t matter. His “third gospel” proposes a liberty with allegiance to Christ’s lordship which includes behavior that matters but without “performing.” How in the world does one manage this, and where in the Word does this come from? The answer is, it doesn’t come from the Word at all.

It’s this kind of mystical nonsense that comes from people like Watchman Nee and others. Watchman Nee is very mystical and spiritualizes the Bible text nearly out of existence sometimes. He has influenced a lot of people, including many in Calvary Chapel and evidently Mr. Viola too. This is why I said I didn’t need to read any more of Frank Viola’s books. It’s all been said before by many people such as Watchman Nee and Chuck Smith. Many organizations have steered away from the Bible as they tried to steer away from what is wrong in the Church. Mr. Viola is repeating the same mistakes with updated language and a nice book cover. He’s just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic instead of invoking real change.

The New Covenant is the Law written on a heart of flesh. What is new is the heart that will do what God says. Jesus did what God said in all ways, including the “Word of the Lord by Moses” also called the Law. The apostles followed the “living oracles” as Stephen called them. The first three thousand (and the next 5,000) converts to following the Christ were all Law-following Jews. Acts 2:46 says they were “attending the temple together. Paul says what counts is doing what God says.

For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. (1 Corinthians 7:19, ESV)

The “right wing” and “left wing” of Judaism was not doing what God said. They did part, but they did not do what He said with a whole heart of flesh in love and the Spirit.

Another thing Frank has wrong is his definition of the gospel. The word means “good news” but what exactly is the “good news?” What is the “gospel of the kingdom” biblically? If we look in the Bible instead of making up our own definitions, we find that the “good news” is “God with us.” Hebrews 4:2 says that at Mt. Sinai the gospel was preached to them just as to us.

For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. (Hebrews 4:2, ESV)

How could this be if the gospel is according to Frank’s definition? The answer is that doing what God says will mean that “God is with us.” If Jesus is really Lord and King, we will do what He says. Since Jesus gave the Law in the first place then believers in the Lord and King Jesus the Messiah will follow His Laws too. It’s not that hard. What is hard is humbling ourselves and doing what God says all the time no matter what.

Mr. Viola is another in a long line of fancy charlatans with smooth dialogue and a pitch that would charm angels, relentlessly marketing his misleading merchandise. But he’s still on the wrong track. Unless of course he just wants to sell books. As I read his blog post titled Scratch a Christian and You’ll Find Out What’s Underneath at http://frankviola.org/2013/11/20/scratchachristian/ I couldn’t help but chuckle. Did I scratch him and find out what’s underneath?

If the cross is front and center, then His body and blood will be our food.

Shalom

Bruce

Keeping Themselves Holy

In 2 Chronicles 31:18 we are given this interesting note.

They were enrolled with all their little children, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, the whole assembly, for they were faithful in keeping themselves holy. (2 Chronicles 31:18, ESV)

King Hezekiah of Judah is getting things organized while leading the people back to God. He and the people destroyed all the high places, cleaned up the temple, and re-instituted sacrifices, tithes and offerings. The enrollment spoken of is for the Levite families in order to receive food distribution from the tithes and offerings. Remember that the priests (sons of Aaron) and the Levites were mainly tasked with taking care of the temple and sacrifices and didn’t own much land for the production of food.

What caught my attention was the phrase “they were faithful in keeping themselves holy.” First, they were faithful, meaning to keep doing what they were supposed to be doing. Second, they were keeping themselves holy, which means to follow the Law in avoiding unclean things such as pork and shellfish in addition to bathing and washing clothes and so on. Third, the faithful keeping of these things made the families holy, meaning separate and different from the usual run-of-the-mill people of the world.

In modern times, as in ancient Israel, there are many people who wear His name yet are not faithfully keeping themselves holy. Many claim to be cleansed by the blood of the lamb Jesus, yet ignore His Laws for maintaining and refreshing that cleansing. It’s as if they think that one shower is enough for the rest of their lives. They also teach against the Law, and persecute those like me and my family who realize that the Laws are just as valid for believers now as they were when they were given and even all the way back to the beginning.

The church, sadly, is not faithful in keeping itself clean. In fact, they are proud that they preach Jesus and at the same time deny His word of life. They do what is right in their own eyes, following the ear-tickling Nicolaitans they have chosen for leaders and mixing the Word of Truth with lies, traditions, and philosophies of men.

A picture that has stayed with me for decades came from the movie The Mark of the Beast popular in the ’70’s. There was a scene at one point after the so-called Rapture of a church that was empty except for the pastor preaching. I have since come to realize that the picture is false. The churches with be full for the most part if in fact a Rapture happens as they believe, because the people are not faithfully keeping themselves holy.

Shalom

Bruce

An Aide to Spiritual Growth

Some people have told me that they experienced a big improvement in their walk with God when they had a vision of the resurrected Christ.

I wanted to do better in my walk, but how does one go about getting such a vision? Details were light or non-existent. I remember one Calvary Chapel pastor encouraging the congregation to “visualize the throne room and Jesus sitting there.” Well, I could do some imagining, I guess, but that didn’t help. I was aware I was just making it up.

Since I found that Torah is for all believers, I have actually seen the Father and the Son as I read His Word and do what He says. I’m making a lot of changes for the better in my growth and walk with God, but some of the changes I need to make are coming slow. Do I need a vision of the resurrected Christ to become a different, more righteous person?

As I was pondering this a few days ago, I had what I think was in fact a vision. But it wasn’t of the resurrected Christ. I think God gave me a better vision, one which is going to help much better.

He gave me a vision of myself.

I don’t mean the same type of vision that some believers claim to see of Jesus. I mean God gave me a view of myself as He sees me, with emphasis on my character development (or lack of it). I got a glimpse of myself as I really am, which cut through the image I have of myself normally. We want to think the best of ourselves, and we craft an image that we hope is true. But most of the time it isn’t true. It’s just wishful thinking.

The downside to seeing yourself as you really are is it’s very discouraging. The upside is, when you accept the truth about yourself and take responsibility for your actions and for changing your actions, then you can make progress in moving closer to God. The reason is that as you draw closer to the light of the Father you become more aware of what you lack in perfection or holiness. You can either patch over your flaws with fig leaves as did Adam and Havah, or with improved vision you can accept and change.

It was painful looking at my history and seeing the bad decisions, the unwillingness to do what God said I should do, the times of stunted growth; simply because I didn’t want to give up my comfort.

So in a sense I did get a vision of the resurrected Christ through eating and drinking His body and blood (hearing and doing His word). But what really got me was the vision of myself as I really am.

I still need a lot of work, but the job is actually easier with an honest, albeit painful, self-evaluation.

Shalom

Bruce

The Law versus the Approval of Men

One of the many good things about God’s living oracles, or the law, is that I can take comfort and have confidence that I am an approved son. Oh, not that I get any special awards or accolades. It’s just that I can feel good about doing one more thing God says on a minute-by-minute basis. I am not perfectly behaved. I am not Jewish. I don’t have a bunch of people who hang on my every word, nor do I have frames of famous people I’ve met or recognition from colleges or learned men on my wall. What I do have is the satisfaction of doing what God says, no matter how small the effort or how many times in between I might fall.

The approval of men is much different. Most judge by appearances, or money, or by the number of followers on Twitter. Approval from people is ephemeral, vaporous, and without substance. As long as I think like them, do like them, make sure I feed their egos and avoid hurting their feelings, then I am accepted and part of the group. Step outside with a different thought one time, however, and you are done. Not only that but you will never be accepted by them again unless you spend a lifetime in obeisance, bowing and scraping and hungry for every tiny little pat on the head or scratch under the chin.

Each command, statute, hint or suggestion I do from what He says as outlined in His Word I know meets with His approval. I might not get a coin from Him immediately, or even a pat on the head or scratch under the chin, but each step connects me better and blessings flow. When I refrain from work on His sabbath simply because He asks me to I am made whole with His oneness and Spirit. I avoid pork or shellfish; He is there. His holidays channel the river of life through my soul.

Men do not approve. They’d rather my worship be at their direction and that I elect them to be as gods. The only reward from that, however, is in their regard which is as changeable as the weather during a Rocky Mountain spring. One minute sunshine, the next a freezing snowstorm. No thank you. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Shalom

Bruce

Audiobook for Whole Bible Christianity Available

It took a while, but an Audiobook version of our book Whole Bible Christianity is now available. It’s about 15 and a half hours, narrated by Bruce. You can get it free if you sign up for a trial membership at Audible.com. You get a free audiobook when you first sign up for the service. After the first month it costs $15.00 per month but you get one free book per month too.

If you click this link to view the print version, then click on the Free with your Audible Trial button and stay with Audible for two months, not only do you get two free audiobooks (for $15.00 the second month) but we get a $50.00 bonus! You can exchange any audiobook you decide is not for you, and your credit for one free book rolls over to the next month if you don’t use it. Even if you cancel membership after a while you can keep all your audiobooks.

What a great deal! Whole Bible Christianity, Blessings Pressed Down and Overflowing audiobook for free, a bonus to us, and you get more free audiobooks.

There’s also the print version of the book, and Kindle version for a pretty low cost. The Kindle and audiobook versions do not have the Scripture Index with almost 1,500 entries from every book in the Bible, and the audiobook doesn’t have the footnotes, but still you can listen on the way to work and back or read on a Kindle at your leisure. Get all three and get it all.

Shalom

Bruce

Stephen Hawking is Dead. Big Deal.

So Stephen Hawking, that icon of atheism and evolution, has finally stopped working. He explained once that death just means that the brain failed like a broken down computer. There is no afterlife, according to him, and no heaven.

Well, he’s right. For him there is no heaven or afterlife. More like after-the-computer-stops-working he’ll be deposited in the permanent recycling facility in the lake of fire.

Lots of public figures are expressing their condolences. Why? The guy’s computer just stopped working. I have a business fixing computers, and when one stops working permanently I don’t write articles. I don’t go around in sackcloth and ashes. I don’t mourn. I just build a new one for my client and they move on. No big deal.

Jesse Carey of the (supposedly Christian) Relevant Magazine thinks that making comments like this is “unhelpful” and “disparaging.” He cites Ray Comfort, who posted links on his Facebook page to a secular announcement of the death and to Ray’s movie Evolution vs God, as “mean spirited.” Really? It is mean spirited to comment on an atheist whose whole life was a disparaging comment on my God and my belief system? Stephen was a walking, I’m sorry, rolling, destructive testimony to bigoted and ignorant anti-God teachings. No telling how many people’s faiths he damaged or destroyed in his life by acting like a mean-spirited expert on a God he never knew.

Ray Comfort has a vibrant ministry bringing God’s Word to as many as will listen. Stephen Hawking was nothing but unhelpful in guiding people to life. Relevant Magazine is a wishy-washy self-serving rag floating with the winds of popular culture, rarely taking a stand on the Word of God. Of the three, I think I prefer the guy who is trying to deliver the Word as best he knows how. The others are just so much wind.

Bye bye Mr. Hawking. You were useless in life but now you can at least be useful as worm food.

Shalom

Bruce

Oral Sex Causing Cancer Epidemic in Men

…says the headline on Drudge (March 8th 2018), which sounds alarming, until you realize that the science in the title is all wrong.

As most high-school biology students can tell you, a sneeze does not cause a cold. It is merely the delivery method for the germs that cause the cold.

Oral sex does not cause cancer. If you read the article referred to by the headline you will find the cause is the HPV virus. Human papilloma virus causes infections which can lead to cancer. Also, if you read the article, you and most high-school biology students can see that another major factor is a compromised immune system. If the immune system is down, then almost anything is going to make you sick.

I’m going to get a little graphic here but the subject demands it. If you are not able to handle frank talk, you might want to skip a couple paragraphs. A few minutes reflection should also tell the mature, thinking person that an unmentioned factor is that it depends on what you are licking and how. If your tongue strays into areas it shouldn’t, that were not made for licking, then you will increase your chances of infection exponentially. The anus is not meant for sex, nor is it made for penetration. So if you are licking excrement, you can pretty much bet the filth is going to have an adverse affect.

This brings us to the unmentioned and largest factor in men contracting cancer from HPV. Homosexual men routinely put things in places that are filthy and disgusting, and then stick them in their mouths. Homosexuals also by and large have compromised immunes systems due to their lifestyle choices which expose them to other sicknesses. But homosexuals are not mentioned in the article, though they are the biggest group in the epidemic. We wouldn’t want to be politically incorrect now, would we?

A little bit of study and thought will help you navigate past the scary headlines. Realize the ongoing agendas of much of modern culture to normalize perverse, unhealthy, dangerous and deadly lifestyle choices. There is a plan by the ungodly to tear down all vestiges of God’s instructions for healthy living, and to try to destroy His kingdom. The homosexuals are filled with hate for one another and for God, and along with other unbelievers are not only destroying themselves but trying to bring others down with them.

Don’t fall for the hyped headlines. Godly behavior produces life and love. Ungodly behavior causes cancer.

Shalom

Bruce

Question

“Why do we never get an answer, when we’re knocking at the door
With a thousand million questions, about hate and death and war?”

The Moody Blues rock band. I like a lot of their music because it is not superficial like the stupid music mostly puked out today. The lyrics above are from a song titled Question from about 1970. Most of the band’s music is thoughtful and sincere. In this case though, I laugh every time I hear the words. Not the rolling on the floor kind of laughing, but more of a sad laughter.

You don’t get answers to your questions because the answer is already there, you are arrogantly demanding answers, and you aren’t connected with God in the first place. The answer is screaming at you in the face, and you just skip over it and keep looking for something more along the lines of self-seeking. You arrogantly demand something from God, and He doesn’t have to give you anything. He doesn’t answer because you are not connected with Him in any sort of righteous relationship. You are a wicked, unrighteous person, and God doesn’t answer the prayers of unbelievers unless He sees fit.

The songwriter Justin Hayward was upset about the Vietnam war. He combined two half-done songs to get this whole one. The result is a nifty tune, but at the same time rather stupid. It’s usually frustrating to me to listen to stuff like this because the answer is so obvious. In a God-rejecting world hate and death and war are as inevitable as the sunrise. Separate yourself from the Source of Life and all you get is death. Duh.

Justin gets close to answering his own question in the chorus and final lines.

“Why do we never get an answer, when we’re knocking at the door? Because the truth is hard to swallow, that’s what the war of love is for.”

“The truth is hard to swallow.” Oh yeah. The truth is God’s Word, and He tells us that we are lost without Him, wandering in a desert of hate and death and war. We have to turn to Him and follow all of His Words, including the Word of life, Jesus the Christ. We cannot return to Him on our own, but many want to trade what flimsy righteousness they have for eternal life. But it’s just not enough. A sufficient sacrifice must be made, blood must be spilled, which was done when we executed Jesus on a board. Then we must live all of His Words with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Yeah, that’s pretty hard to swallow for most.

“When we stop and look around us, there is nothing that we need.
In a world of persecution that is burning in its greed.”

“There is nothing that we need.” That’s what most people think. They are self-satisfied being their own gods, and don’t want the bother of turning to the God of love. They don’t want to accept the blood of the only begotten Son that God offers as the only ticket out of war and death and hate.

So keep asking questions, worldly musical idiots.

Shalom

Bruce

Literally Wood

Tired old argument #24: The Bible is not to be taken literally.

I’m sure you’ve heard someone say that the Bible is not literal or not to be taken literally. If you disagree, as I do, that the Bible should indeed be taken or interpreted literally, this person will then drag out a few verses to prove his point. Usually the verses have something to do with what they think is a ridiculous comparison such as God as a rock or Jesus as a lamb. Obviously, they intone, God is not basaltic, sedimentary or igneous. Jesus is not actually a small fuzzy critter either. And so they dismiss the literal interpretation.

But did they ever look up the term literal in the dictionary? If they had, they might not be so dismissive. The online Merriam-Webster defines literal thusly:

1 a : according with the letter of the scriptures

  • adheres to a literal reading of the passage
b : adhering to fact or to the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression : actual

  • liberty in the literal sense is impossible
  • —B. N. Cardozo
c : free from exaggeration or embellishment

  • the literal truth
d : characterized by a concern mainly with facts

  • a very literal man

Literal is “concerned mainly with facts” or is “free from exaggeration or embellishment.” So dismissing a literal interpretation of the Bible is dismissing facts.

Dr. Walter C. Kaiser Jr. and others define literal as “the author’s intent.” God literally means what He says and says what He means.

God deals in facts. He communicates the fact that humans are lost in sin and must have a payment for sin. The fact is, He provided payment Himself in the form of the death of His only begotten Son on a chunk of wood. It is a fact that if we do not repent and accept this payment, we will not have enough to pay for sin ourselves and so will end up in a literal lake of fire. Does it matter if it’s a real lake or not? Either way it will be immersion in something painful and agonizing for a long, long time.

The Scriptures are literally God’s Word, as testimony if not His actual speech. Literally, God is a rock because He doesn’t change. Basaltic or igneous, it doesn’t matter. Did the rock come first, or did God make rocks so we would have a picture of His unchangeable nature?

What some people mean by literal is “wooden,” which is a literal term meaning they are inflexible when it comes to interpreting God’s Word. People are wooden when they attack the Word of God which allows them to relegate the parts they don’t like to the outer darkness. They start with a wooden interpretation of God as a rock or Jesus as a lamb so they can move on to getting rid of what to them are all the distasteful parts of God’s Word such as obedience, faith, Law, and salvation. It’s a slippery slope using faulty logic and ignoring facts that require a response.

Literal doesn’t mean wooden. It means that the ordinary construction or primary meaning of a term or expression from God is the truth and demands we adhere to that truth. God literally means we have to conform to His Word, all of it, in every respect. If we don’t, we will literally end up separated from Him forever.

Shalom

Bruce

New Audiobook!

We’ve now produced an audiobook for Whole Bible Christianity. It is available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. I narrated it myself and it sounds very good. I did the narration because I don’t think anyone else could’ve really given the project the right tone except the guy who wrote it. It’s about 16 hours long but I don’t know what the pricing will be. Just check with Amazon under Whole Bible Christianity when you want a complete reference for Whole Bible Christianity to listen to in your car or while you are trying to go to sleep!

Shalom

Bruce