Tuesday, December 15, 2015

All Bible Versions the Same? Nope. Beware of "The Message!" by James Smith

Here's a very interesting article about Bible translations-specifically pointing out problems with Eugene Peterson's paraphrase "The Message." Here's what Peterson said in an interview in 1995: “Why do people spend so much time studying the Bible? How much do you need to know? We invest all this time in understanding the text which has a separate life of its own and we think we’re being more pious and spiritual when we’re doing it.... Christians should be studying less, not more. You just need enough to pay attention to God.... I’m just not at all pleased with all the emphasis on Bible study as if it’s some kind of special thing Christians do, and the more they do the better.” And THIS guy writes his own version of the Bible??...
Christian Witness Ministries - Bible Versions: All preaching the same Message?

Friday, December 11, 2015

"Fighting for the Faith" Steven Kozar Interview

Here's the interview I just did with Chris Rosebrough; we talked about Amway, The AMC Pacer, The IQ of Rick Warren, Theological Diarrhea and about a hundred other things:
The Three Battles — Pirate Christian Media

Update: We had so much fun with this interview that I'll be doing more (probably a couple per month) in the New Year! -Steve

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Hipster Pietistic Christians Having Coffee" by Steven Kozar

These are a couple of short videos promoting a Zondervan book called "Jesus, Bread and Chocolate:"



Here's the second video (it's mostly all about coffee):
https://youtu.be/CkNibpXxd78?list=PLEhfrcnzQ3l3wfvZ3QnJkXcf-PSn4AfuF

     Some Christians are involved in what coffee experts are calling the Third Wave; which is the trend of much better coffee being produced and sold. Somehow this is supposed to tell us something about our faith, according to the book's author John J. Thompson.

     Thompson asks: "is it possible, that our culture's re-engagement with hand-crafted local things and experiences might contain the echo of a still small voice calling us home to our truer selves? What might a batch of artisanal chocolate or a fresh-baked loaf of bread or a cup of home-roasted, carefully brewed coffee tell us about ourselves, our nature or our faith?"

Here's the answer to that deep, philosophical question:

We like better tasting ("artisanal") food and beverages because they taste better! Plus, making stuff ourselves can be a great hobby, too. It might even become a business (my business is making paintings). But if we want to learn "about ourselves, our nature or our faith," we should look to God's Word.

There, now you don't need to buy this book.

Thompson continues: "The growing underground commitment to alternative values is re-emerging from a centuries old slumber. Things like local communities, sustainability, social justice and artisanal beauty are captivating the hearts and minds of a generation unwilling to settle for literal or spiritual junk food. When I stop and listen, smell and taste, I'm reminded that there's more here than meets the eye. Maybe we can regain a taste for the good, the true and the beautiful, in ways that energize us on our journey, and encourage others to come along."

     There is so much theologically weird about that whole paragraph, I'm not sure where to start... 
What is this "growing commitment to alternative values?" What does that actually even mean? Do we Christians really need to learn about alternative values from whoever these people are? Who is this generation that is "unwilling to settle for literal or spiritual junk food?" Exactly what is "spiritual junk food?" Maybe this book makes some valid critiques of the seeker-friendly mega-churches; I'm not sure. But, I wonder, is "this generation" a reference to the millennium generation that is abandoning the Church, the Bible and Christianity faster than you can carefully make a pour-over carafe of coffee? Do we really want to learn about our faith from the trends associated with this generation? I would argue that "spiritual junk food" is exactly what hipsters (and most other people) are feeding on-it's anything other than God's Word. Instead of pandering to hipsters, we should simply and lovingly point them to the Gospel. 
     
     If we want to "regain a taste for the good, the true and the beautiful" why don't we just look to Christ and His Word? Is that not hipster enough? 
     Is Jesus dying on the cross to forgive us of our sins not "good, true and beautiful" enough?        
     Honestly, here's what we see about this (and every other) generation:       

     "None is righteous, no not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God." 
                                                                                                                         -Romans 3:10-11

The Bible tells us (in Jude 4) to:


     "contend for the faith that was once handed down to the saints," 

but this book talks about "crafting a hand-made faith." Now, I haven't read this book, (although I did find a YouTube video of the author talking about his book, and I listened to the first chapter online, too, which is an amazing story of John's childhood and conversion) but I'm pretty sure that God doesn't want us to "craft" our faith "by hand"- whatever that's supposed to mean. It's not like all the Christians around the world have been somehow getting their faith off of an assembly line in a factory. In my own life, I was very tired of pastors who weren't sure about what they actually believed, or worse, pastors who who were "hand-crafting" their beliefs by subjective means. I'm only interested in faith based on God's Word. 

     Faith comes from hearing the Word of God. Period. We don't craft it; not even by hand. 

      This is, perhaps, the most bizarre form of Pietism to come along in a long time. Apparently, real Christians will obsess over carefully crafted coffee (or bread, or chocolate) to make the world a better place and, once and for all, validate the Christian faith by their keen ability to mimic the hipster trends of East Nashville. (By the way, my daughter used to live there and she worked at one of most famous hipster coffee places... let's just say it's not a model of "our truer selves.")



     In all of this, we hear no mention of our sin and our need for a Savior. Those things are probably mentioned somewhere in this book (I hope), but overall, this all sounds like another version of "Do More, Try Harder, Christianity" but with a hipster twist. Hipster Pietism doesn't say: "you should stop smoking and drinking, and start wearing a suit and tie if you're gonna be a real Christian! You should go to both Sunday services and Wednesday nights if you're gonna be a real Christian!" Now it's more like: "you should live more communally, locally and intentionally... And you should only eat and drink certain hand-made things that prove your sincerity and awareness... And you should only be certain of your own uncertainty... And you should somehow align your faith with cultural trends established and reinforced by non-conformists who all dress alike if you're gonna be a real Christian!" 

     It's very hard to figure out the actual Christian teaching that this video/book is promoting. The most ridiculous and ironic part of the (first) video? The actress writing in her notebook:

         "Why I don't go to church.
              Spiritual but not religious..."

"Yeah, those churches are too fake. Unlike this this totally fake scene that I'm acting in... pretending to write a tired old cliche in a notebook... to help sell books."

     The layers of hypocrisy are really thick... like the crust on a carefully-baked loaf of artisanal bread.




     Closing thoughts: I actually know this author (just a little bit; he wrote a nice article about me years ago, and I used to visit his record store and see him at concerts in the Chicago area) so I was unsure about posting this; I have nothing personal against him at all. But, I really wanted to address the underlying issues here-not attack the actual author (even though I kinda did). Sorry John, if you ever read this.
      I would have probably read and enjoyed this book myself five years ago. But more recently I've become free from having to follow the latest trends to "validate Christianity" and "change the world" and now I want to shake people up to return to the timeless, pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

     I found that pure Gospel not in a hip coffee shop, but in His Word and in the CHURCH. 

     I'm afraid too many of us Christians are off on tangents that distract us from the core of our faith. We don't need to try and hear the still small voice of "artisanal beauty" (or whatever the new trend is) to know who God is, or who we are. We can hear directly from God in His Word. Praise God for that, too, because this world is too confusing to try and learn from cultural trends and the latest "experts." 

     To be fair, I'm the one who is using the term "hipster" here; the author, John J. Thompson is not. I could be over-emphasizing the hipster thing, here, I admit. It just seems like the obvious target audience and subject matter based on these videos.  

       Also, I love good, hand-crafted coffee, bread and chocolate, just to be clear.
                                                                                                                         -Steven Kozar
For more clarity on the issue of Pietism:
Here is an excellent article by Bob DeWaay called: How Pietism Deceives Christians
Here is an excellent history video by Ryan Reeves about Lutheran Pietism 
Here is an excellent lecture by Rod Rosenbladt against Pietism on Issues, Etc.

"Bill Johnson-False Teacher Misusing Words" by CrossWise

This is a very thorough and scholarly article about Bill Johnson and his very deceptive misuse of words. I would have simply called it "Bill Johnson is a Complete Idiot" but that's just me...  
Learning Etymology with Bill Johnson: A New Age ‘Repentance’? | CrossWise





Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Inside Hillsong" by A Current Affair (Australian TV)

This is an amazing 12 minutes of investigative journalism. 

"This is not a church, this is an entertainment corporation and the product is God..." 

Brian Houston is a slimy false teacher in every regard; yet he is as rich and famous as any "Evangelical" celebrity Super Pastor you can name. 
     1 Corinthians 5: 11-13 says "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you."

Please watch and share this: Inside Hillsong



Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Messed Up Church is Joining the Pirate Christian Ship!

Starting soon this blog will be part of www.piratechristian.com!

Many of my readers are already familiar with Chris Rosebrough and his show Fighting for the Faith and the other programs that are part of Pirate Christian Radio. Recently, their old website was rebuilt and is now a "hub" website with many, many great resources, links and articles. This blogspot site is already linked to www.piratechristian.com, but eventually we'll move the whole thing over to that location.

I'm working on writing content for Pirate website itself, as I continue to work on this blog; and I'll be the "Curator" for Chris's old website "The Museum of Idolatry." The Messed Up Church will be exposing false doctrine in the church through written articles, while The Museum of Idolatry will be exposing false doctrine in the church through visual "exhibits" (meaning photos, videos and such).

As the new curator (or "Kurator") I welcome your help; please submit ridiculous church nonsense to me at stevenkozar@gmail.com. I'm specifically looking for actual church advertisements, announcements and videos that are obviously wrong (and worthy of ridicule).

The whole goal, in all these endeavors, is to expose false doctrine and lead people back to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ which is so much better than the teachings of men!

To God be the Glory

Steven Kozar

Thursday, November 12, 2015

"Steven Furtick Has Faith in Doubt” by Jeff Maples

This is just painfully stupid...
Steven Furtick Has Faith in “Doubt” | Pulpit & Pen

It's okay to admit we sometimes have doubts, in the process of holding to our faith, of course. But our doubts are not good, in and of themselves!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

"Congratulations! You've Abandoned Christianity in One Sentence!" by Steven Kozar




This was posted on Facebook by someone who, as far as I know, used to profess to being a Christian: 

This one sentence has it all: blasphemy, the elevation of personal choice over the sovereignty of God, the complete rejection of our need for salvation... it's quite stunning.

First of all, there is the "issue of God" phrase; isn't this is an arrogant and blasphemous thing to say? Who can reduce the Creator of the Universe down to an "issue?" It's like saying:

"Listen everyone, I know that billions of people have written, speculated and philosophized about God for all of human history, and I know that God has revealed Himself in His Holy Word, but we can just skip all of that: I'm gonna summarize God for you now, since my knowledge is above all people throughout history and even above God Himself..."

It's not just blasphemy, it's also a strangely casual kind of blasphemy; like God isn't even real anyway, so "what's the big deal?"

Now about this phrase "what could happen if we die," First off, the words "could" and "if" really need to be replaced by the words "will" and "when." Or wait, maybe this person has the ability to live forever; come to think of it, they did have the "issue of God" all figured out...

I'm guessing that because this person thinks the idea of God punishing us sinful humans is extremely unpopular and old-fashioned, it can be disregarded like a bad sitcom from the 90's. Here's the clever logic involved: "We (the modern and smart people) don't like God's punishment, (His wrath, His judgement, hell, etc.) therefore, it doesn't exist." 
See how clever it is?

Let's try using this clever idea in a different form: "I don't like having to pay Federal Income Tax, therefore, it doesn't exist." (Please consult your personal tax consultant before attempting this yourself).

Lastly, since these new, smarter people don't have to worry about dying and they've eliminated any resulting eternal consequences of sin using their sheer mind-power, they are free to move on to the really important matter: "what could happen if we actually choose to live." Wow! I didn't even know we could choose to live; last time I checked we had to be born from our parents. These people really are smarter and better!!

Seriously, after completely rejecting the God who has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture, this is all they've got?? This is, at best, the title of an out-of-print self-help book. This isn't a brilliant new philosophy of life that answers all the questions plaguing mankind; this is more like re-hashed and vapid liberal Protestantism from the 1920's.

But much, much worse, this way of thinking says to Jesus Christ, the Son of God who took upon Himself the sins of the world: "No thank you; your death was in vain. We don't need forgiveness or salvation; we're just going to choose to actually live."

This is nothing less than a complete rejection of the shocking and unfathomable free gift of salvation bought on the cross. Please, if you think your good choices are what life is all about, I urge you to start reading the Bible again, and come out of the demonic fog that surrounds you and repent, before it's too late.

Galatians 1: 3-8 "Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"When Did the Church Turn Into Amway?" by Steven Kozar

     

(Here's a link to Steve's update to this post on his current blog.)

True Story

      In the 1990's my wife and I had three young children and we were in financial trouble; my income as an artist was very inconsistent. We were invited to become Amway distributors by a family member who knew we were the kind of "go-getters" who could really "make things happen." 

      I was very skeptical at first, but I eventually gave in to the promise of "multiple streams of residual income." In the late 1990's we heard (and fell for) "The Dream Destiny Thingy." This is years before it crept into (and devoured) much of the church. It's a bunch of assumptions that go something like this: "God brought you here today for a reason; it's not an accident that you're in this meeting today. The reason you're struggling financially is because you don't have a dream-it's not because you don't have money! Once you have a big enough dream, the money will follow. Amway is just the business vehicle; this is really about changing people's lives by getting them to pursue their dreams." They would pray in the meetings like this: "Thank you God that you've given each of us the ability to dream. Help us to chase our dreams, discover our destiny and make a real difference in people's lives. In Jesus name, Amen." We were taught about the power of using the right words to speak things into existence. We had to be positive-all the time-because being negative would attract negative results.

       Large Amway conventions are the ultimate gig for motivational speakers and other performers, and most of the really big guns were there, helping to prop up the illusion that Amway was a great opportunity for anyone willing to work hard and stick to it. Zig Ziglar, Robert Kiyosaki, John Maxwell and other big name speakers have all done the Amway gig; people would even write books praising the Amway opportunity because they knew thousands of distributors would buy them; it was a built-in audience of niche consumers. I tried not to notice how none of these people making money by praising Amway actually joined up and became Amway distributors themselves.

     But the best speakers in the Amway business weren't the "professional" speakers, they were the "regular folks" who worked hard and had made it to the level of Diamond (or higher). These "regular folks" would convince the socks off of anyone that you could make it happen! "You just need to buy into the system and do everything your leaders tell you to do-your success is guaranteed!" "If you're dream is big enough, the facts don't count!" The most convincing Diamond speakers would come from another organization and speak at your meeting to help you grow your business. "Wow, these people are so nice and giving of their time" you would think. Plus, they would always start by praising your leaders and telling you how lucky you were to have the leadership that you had in your own organization. 

     Eventually I learned that all of these diamond (and above) speakers were getting giant speaking fees. They weren't giving their time, they were selling their time. If you were getting $10,000 for an hour and a half speech, do you think you could praise whoever was writing your check? On top of the very convincing speakers, they had amazing videos with powerful music and emotionally charged stories to tear at your heartstrings. The use of multimedia was incredibly effective-especially in a stadium full of like-minded people who all believed. We were even told that if you went to the next big meeting it "would really build up your belief." A more honest way of saying it would be "if you go to this big meeting you'll be convinced to stick around long enough for us to make money off of you for a little while longer, because you'll be emotionally convinced that this business is great!"


This Isn't a Dream, It's a Nightmare!

     In short, we spent 4 years trying to build an Amway business and lost $40,000 in the process. We did everything we were supposed to do-everything! I know all about mind control techniques because I experienced them first hand. I know what it's like to be emotionally manipulated because I experienced it first hand. I know about turning the Christian faith into a vehicle that promises to make your dreams come true because I experienced it first hand. On top of all that, we started going to a large "positive confession" charismatic church as a result of this new outlook on our faith. We prayed and prayed and prayed... and prayed: "God please help us build this great business so we can be financially free and help others..." 

     But God didn't answer. We had to figure out the hard way that we were being scammed. You see, in most Amway businesses, all of the emphasis is on "the system," which had 3 components (called "tools"): Books, CDs and Functions. We would buy and read the positive self-help type books (a new one every month); we would buy and listen to a motivational CD every week (or more if you were really committed like us); and we would buy a ticket to a different function every single month. No matter what. This is how they could build such large and compliant organizations. This is simply a type of thought-control. Some of the teaching was actually decent business/success type material, but overall, the system kept people in the business and in the dark. Sure there were always people quitting, but there were always new people to replace the quitters. And there was tremendous profit to be made on each and every book, CD and ticket; that's where the upline distributors were making most of their money. It was all in secret and a lot of it was cash under the table, so these hucksters weren't even paying tax on all their income. After the internet became popular, Amway's seedy underbelly was much easier to discover, so it has never gotten back to it's original multi-billion dollar American heyday (much of Amway's growth has been in foreign countries in the past 15 years).

The Evangelical Industrial Complex has copied many of the very things that have "worked" so well in Amway:
*Tell people that Christianity is all about getting your Dreams and realizing your Destiny. Check.
*Tell people that having lots of money is a good thing that God wants for you (so you can help others, of course). Check.
*Tell people to only listen to positive messages about success and prosperity. Check.
*Tell people that they can speak things into existence because words have power. Check.
*People continually quitting and leaving, but they get replaced by new and different people just as fast. Check.
*Get people to "experience life change" by learning self-help and relationship-building techniques. Check.
*The guy up on the stage is making money off the people in the seats. Check.
*The guy on the stage is promising you things you'll never actually get (in the name of God). Check.
*After you don't get what you were promised you're told to have more faith and try harder (and buy the latest book). Check.
*The visiting speaker (pastor) praises the local leader (pastor) and gets a fat speaking fee (plus sells his books in the lobby). Check. (helpful tip: It's not a speaker fee if it comes from a free-will offering)
*Use music, lights and multimedia/video to emotionally manipulate like-minded people who desperately want to believe. Check.

Wait a minute, is this Amway or a Mega-Church we're talking about?? 

It's the SAME DAMNED (literally) THING!


FYI, Here is an excellent website with details about the Amway tool scam:
https://stoptheamwaytoolscam.wordpress.com/
Also, just to be clear, I have no ill feelings towards those in my upline who were taken in by this "business" -and who probably lost more money than I did. God help us all.  



Thursday, October 22, 2015

"The Concordance Cam: Leadership in the Bible" Video by Steven Kozar

Absolutely NO EXPENSE was spared in producing this brand new video!! Watch for more exciting "Concordance Cam" videos in the future!



"Why You Shouldn’t Use Liturgy in Your Worship" by Page Brooks

This is a great little tongue-in-cheek article:
Why You Shouldn’t Use Liturgy in Your Worship | Engage the Times
(As a former member of a worship band in a large charismatic church, I now love liturgical worship and I have no desire to "go contemporary" ever again. -S.K.)


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

"Christian Books Gone Bad: The Dream/Destiny Obsession" video by Steven Kozar

Here's a little slide show I made of Christian books that promise to help you achieve your "Dream Destiny Thingy." (It's "all about Jesus??" I don't think so)...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

"Sola Experiencia" GREAT Two Minute Video by Rosaria Butterfield



As an amazing (and disturbing) side note, here's an article about this woman's appearance at Wheaton College being protested by students-you won't believe why they protested her:

http://www.dennyburk.com/wheaton-students-protest-rosaria-butterfield/

"Joel Osteen's New Book = New Age Pagan Book"

Do you see the difference between Joel Osteen's newest book and these other pagan/New Age books?

ME NEITHER!! It's the SAME THING!!!



(These are screen shots from Amazon.com)

             
 










 Joel Osteen could have (at least) copied ideas from Christian books...Take a look at these New Age Books:                                                                            









































Read the description on the back of this book (below)
-it sounds a lot like one of Osteen's "sermons:"











Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"A Parable About Ignorance in the Church-And Some Solutions" by Steven Kozar

    

 Imagine that you've never heard a piece of classical music. 

 Ever. 

     You never went to a concert, or even saw one on TV. Now also imagine that you knew absolutely nothing about all the instruments in an orchestra-you couldn't tell a flute from a tuba or a violin from a piano. Also imagine that you know nothing about the history of classical music throughout the centuries or any of the great composers. Maybe you've heard a few of their names, but you have no idea who they were or what they did.

     But now imagine that you and all your friends (who also don't know anything about classical music) were sitting around watching TV one day and you randomly came across a classical performance on PBS for just a few seconds while switching channels; and imagine that you only saw the conductor waving his arms around for those few seconds. That's all you saw. 

     What if someone asked you "how familiar are you familiar with classical music being performed by an orchestra?" and you answered "I know all about it! Me and my friends saw that guy waving his arms around on TV." 

     Would you really know very much about classical music? Of course not. But you insist: "I saw that guy on TV waving his arms around! Don't tell me I don't know about classical music!" And you might add: "and all my friends saw it, too!"
     
Sorry, but you and all your friends don't really know what you're talking about; and until you get a lot more information, you're going to remain ignorant of classical music being performed by an orchestra. And you'd be missing out on a lot!


     This is, very sadly, an illustration of where a lot of Evangelicals stand in regard to Christianity. They're ignorant of their faith's history, it's leaders and it's key doctrines, and they often believe that any study of theology is inherently bad; which is kinda like saying "I don't care about notes-I only care about music!" or "I don't care about ingredients-I only care about food!"
      Yet they believe they really know about their faith based on a guy (their favorite pastor, evangelist or author maybe) "waving his hands around," so to speak (or maybe waving a Bible around). Worst of all, they don't even know very much about the very Word of God that can teach them. The Holy Spirit should be teaching them through the Word of God, but He's been replaced by a bizarre, mystical "genie in a bottle" who requires rock bands in order to "manifest himself" and who always demands more and more attention. And to make matters worse, these very Christians are gleefully unaware of their own ignorance. They believe their pastor really knows what he's talking about. Why? Because he said so! And all their (church) friends think so, too!



     I know about this topic, because I was one of these ignorant Evangelicals, and I'm very glad to be leaving their ranks. Not because I want to be smarter-but because I want to know the truth about my faith and my God. I had an extremely limited understanding of Christianity-and I didn't even know it. I thought I was hearing about solid, Biblical Christianity, but in fact, I was only hearing about the American, Arminian, Revivalist, Semi-Pelagianist tip of the pragmatic Protestant Evangelical iceberg. I thought I was going to a "New Testament" church, but it was actually an outgrowth of a number of movements from only the past 200 years or so-and we were greatly affected by even more recent teachings from just the past few decades. Now if those various Christian movements from the past 200 years had really "improved" or "purified" Christianity (as they claimed), I had no way of really knowing, because I was inside that movement-it's all that I knew. Once I stepped outside of the movement and studied what came before us, I could actually see things more clearly, and I could compare the teachings of a pastor or church against historical, Biblical Christianity. It was like a (very) cold splash of water to my face. Or more like a slap upside the head (that I'm still recovering from). But now that I know all this stuff, it's all good-I'm very glad to be where I am.   

     I write about this because I wish nothing more than for all my Christian friends (and everyone else who reads this) to experience something similar in their own lives. I'm so much more at peace and so much more confidant in my faith because of what I've learned. As I've learned to see both Law and Gospel in the Bible, I'm not so confused. And I'm excited to learn more everyday-literally!


 The thing that really concerns me, is that a lot of Christians, especially as they grow older, are getting tired of pat answers and shallow catch-phrases from pastors who don't know how to rightly handle God's Word. So they just tune out. They gradually stop attending church and whimper away; but a new crop of younger faces (usually with children in tow) show up to replace them. They'll buy into the shallow catch-phrases and pat answers... for a while. And then the cycle begins again. After 10 or 20 years of therapeutic "life-lessons," un-Biblical "success strategies" and unfulfilled "prophetic words" they'll eventually whimper away, too. No amount of cool videos, hip new logos, "relevant" messages or rock bands will fool them anymore.. they're done. Please, don't let that be you!

     If you can relate to this, here are a few ideas that might help you:

First of all, maybe you just need to spend more time reading the Bible. Duh. But, seriously, many Christians don't even read God's Word. So just get started. Read entire books, too; don't just skip around to a favorite verse here or there. The New Testament epistles are all pretty short-that might be a great place for you to start if it's been a while. Remember, the real meaning can only be understood properly in context, so reading a whole passage will always help you understand the meaning better. I don't recommend The Message (it's not really a Bible-it's a paraphrase of the Bible that sometimes sounds pretty neat, but other times is just wrong), but I do read the New Living Translation (which uses very easy, modern language); otherwise I mostly read a more accurate translation like the NASB, ESV, NKJV or the original NIV. Also, I love "The Lutheran Study Bible" it's the best $50 you could ever spend. It should cost $500. 

Secondly, here are three great programs (and a YouTube channel) that have helped me to leave the foggy land of the Evangelical Industrial Complex (although there are a lot more, as you can see on my blog). All you have to do is listen to them. Seriously, just start listening ASAP!

Fighting for the Faith This is from my buddy, Chris Rosebrough. As he says, "don't listen with an open mind-listen with an open Bible!" This show is a little like Mystery Science Theater 3000; he plays sermons by the "Super Pastors" and interrupts them using correct hermaneutics (and usually tears their bad teaching to shreds). I'm amazed at how much I've learned from this one ministry-I'm sure I've learned more in just 2 or 3 years of listening to this, than in 30 years of sermons. I am not exaggerating.
  
The White Horse Inn "Know what you believe, and why you believe it!" This ministry has been slugging away for over 20 years, trying to teach Christians about the Bible, the Reformation, and why we need another one. You can also find a lot of their shows archived on YouTube here. I love this show! 

Critical Issues Commentary This is a simple radio show primarily featuring the excellent teaching of Bob DeWaay. Bob has tackled a lot of the topics that nobody else has bothered to touch. And he's taught me a lot-in fact, I've listened to many of his half-hour shows over and over again, just so it can all sink in (and correct the confusing stuff I used to believe). He has also published a lot of excellent (and short) articles on the same topics as the radio shows; I print these off and give them to people all the time.

Ryan Reeves YouTube Channel has a great collection of videos about the history of the Christian Church and it's theology. Most are around 30 minutes or less. I've listened to many of these multiple times, because they're so interesting and good. Reeves is a Professor with a PhD in Historical Theology from Cambridge; basically, he's giving away college lectures for free!

This is just a start, but I hope this helps!
            -Steven Kozar
     

"The Seven Mountains Mandate False Teaching" by Chris Rosebrough

"Fighting for the Faith" is my absolute favorite show, and with this episode Chris Rosebrough begins to explain the really bad doctrinal origins of the New Apostolic Reformation (which isn't new, apostolic or a reformation at all). Be sure to check out Bob Dewaay's excellent article in this link, too:
Fighting for the Faith: The Seven Mountains


Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Is It Apostasy... or Just Coincidence?" by Steven Kozar

     There aren't many Christians who believe that apostasy is upon us; they are just going to church and following the agenda that's been prearranged for them. And if you mention the fact that true doctrine-the true Biblical Gospel-isn't being taught in the overwhelming majority of churches, most Christians will deny it. "Where's the evidence?!" will be the reply; or perhaps "My pastor would have told me about it already!" Once you supply the evidence (and it's overwhelming) they will refuse to accept it.
     But the very definition of the apostate church demands that this be the case. In other words, in order for the church to be in a state of apostasy it would mean that most Christians would refuse to believe that they were in a state of apostasy.

Hmmm...

     So, what most Christians prefer to believe in is a ridiculously large number of "irrelevant" facts, figures and statistics-and they believe that the Bible has nothing to say on the topic. Again, the problem is not that convincing evidence doesn't exist, it's that convincing evidence surrounds each and every Christian (at least in the American/Western church) but they refuse to look at it; or they look at it and pretend it's something else-just a coincidence, perhaps. Christians seem to think that deception will announce itself. "We shouldn't worry about being deceived-someone will make an announcement for us if we need it" they seem to say. It's as if we all have a Christian weather radio that sends an apostasy alert, and some guy in some office somewhere is watching out for us: "they'll let us know if a tornado of false belief is heading our way. Don't worry about it-we can keep enjoying ourselves!.."
   
     A foundation has been laid that precludes the possibility that an end times deception/state of apostasy could be taking place. The very idea is ridiculed as primitive, narrow-minded and irrelevant. If you bring up all the scripture verses that warn us you get called a Pharisee or "too legalistic."


 Even though Jesus and the Apostles warn their followers not to be deceived, those "followers" now believe the exact opposite.

 Imagine the absurdity of claiming to follow someone while doing the opposite of what they say. I believe the primary thing that prevents Christians from seeing the apostasy all around them is this simple little thought:

"But somebody would have said something if that were true!"

But Somebody did say something-and He could not have been more clear:

     “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'” (Matthew 7: 15-23)
   
Matthew 24: 3-14; 24-25 “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Vs. 24): For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (25) Behold, I have told you in advance.”

He has SAID SOMETHING. Now is the time to listen to Him and reject the teachings of men.