Close the Church of Christian Criticism
January 27, 2009, 09:11
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Internet has been a real blessing to me.  It has enabled me to continue my education,  expand my Christian contacts [like you, I hope, dear reader], entertain myself with youtube and blog-reading and even help me to witness the Truth in love and minister to those in need. It also drives me right out of my mind.

In  the past I could ignore those groups of people who say they are Christian, and may well be , yet practice something I find disturbing, like snake handling, or legalism.   Now I am exposed to things I formerly  was able to ignore.  At the top of my personal  Ignorance list was the existence of a cottage industry full of vehemence and bile, that group of people who say they are Christian and spend their lives criticizing everything that happens in a building with a cross on the roof.  Don’t get me wrong,  there are some loose wingnuts on the wheels of modern Christianity,  and pointing out the insanity is healthy!  I am not talking about those of us [me] who desire to point out wackos and frauds;  I mean people who take on whole denominations, entire -faith-groups  of mainstream believers, or really well known figureheads of the faith. 

Is there any point in declaring Billy Graham to be anathema?  All right he is old and says some odd things today, but have you read his stuff? Did you see his track record? If we were all anathema like Graham there would be a lot more Christians.  Is it necessary for the Kingdom to declare John Macarthur a heretic?  I have problems with dispensationalism, the whole Jesus just making a touch and go but not really landing is odd to me; I don’t own a Scofield,  but MacArthur preaches the gospel!  If you do a little googleing you can find somebody against anybody!  It is not only individuals that get the indictment of heresy,  the Southern Baptist Convention is working for the devil if you listen to some.  Now I have been in the SBC tent for 12 years,  there are issues.  Are they apostasy? Are they anathema?  Again, if you look you will find some group nailing away at another group as if they get paid a quarter a word. 

Has the discernment of God’s people so decreased that we can not tell a Todd Bentley from a Ravi Zacharias? We  can’t perceive a difference in message from Benny Hinn to Tim Keller? We can’t see a change in group dynamic from C.M.A. to the K.K.K.? 

We need to read and follow Paul’s advise to the Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.”  I listen to a lot of sermons.   I am not seeking an error in another’s ways, I am seeking to be fed on the word of God.  If there is something on the plate I do not like, I don’t throw the whole dish to the ground and condemn the cook,  I take what I like and praise the meal. 

Please look out of the box you live in.  Look at Europe.  Can you call it Christian?  Have you seen England?  Do you think we live in an age where we can pick each other apart without serving the Enemy?  It just can’t be that hard to separate the wheat from the tares.  People my age will remember the Supreme Court decision on pornography.  In attempting to define it one judge said, “you know it when you see it.”  That definition did not stick, but come on, you know it when you see it.  I do not think you need a PhD in theology to know good doctrine from false.  Good doctrine may not be perfect doctrine, but it is not purposely false.  As for false doctrine, you know it when you see it, it is a lot like porn.

44 Comments so far
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Excellent observations on this one. I don’t know if you listened to my sermon from last Sunday on Romans 14, but I think I surprised some folks in the pews a couple of times. The thing that amuses me most is that I so easily could have been one of the “discernment bloggers” type that you are talking about just a few years ago. God really did some working on me let me tell you.

Comment by jeofurry

Great post.

I am guilty too often of such behavior.


Comment by theoldadam

I agree. It is one thing to point out a false doctrine, in order to teach the truth. But it is another to engage in relentless and vengeful character attacks, which just turns off unbelievers.

The love message just dies, right there. We cannot lose sight of the original purpose to witness: to win others to Christ.

I made a few comments about this too:


Comment by Marianne

Jeofurry and theoldadam
I think, because we have the Truth that is Jesus the Messiah, we can tend to think we have it all right. I was baptized in a church that had no instrumental music. When I went to a church with instruments I would never, never use modern music and especially not drums!.. Now I am in a praise band with my fellow elder on the drums,[he is great!] It is not that I have slipped, it is that I have grown.

Comment by willohroots

I have a tendency to be overly negative and to speak and write with hyperbole.
I hope that my friends like yourself can see that for what it is.
It’s kind of like the relationship I had with my younger brother growing up.
He and I fought viciously almost every day but if an outsider attacked either one then he had to fight both.
My point is that I know I can be very negative but my barbs are aimed at those I love. The Church.
And really just the circus that the evangelical world has turned into.
For example, it would be rare to find me being highly critical of Eastern Orthodox because:
1. I don’t know very much about it
2. It’s not my tribe (though through FR. Ernesto I am learning more all the time).
God bless you and the work you are doing.
I think the pastor who is ministering to the smaller group is right on track and will have a high place with the Father.

Comment by Rob

Hi Will,

Excellent post. Would you mind if I reposted it at eclectic christian?

Comment by Eclectic Christian

Eclectic Christian
What’s mine is yours my brother.

Comment by willohroots

Rob, I am snowed in today, got the book. Thank you so much. I will read it today and comment at your site.

Comment by willohroots

Jeofurry, thank God for the snow. I’m going to get fed on Romans 14.

Comment by willohroots

You’re welcome.

Comment by Rob

I have also downloaded the Romans 14 podcast.
It’ll probably make me an extremist.
Not snowed in but missed the ice by about 50 miles.

Comment by Rob

Thanks for the encouragement. It probably isn’t my best message ever or anything, but I definitely got some response from it. I am blessed to be in a church that really encourages me each week after I preach. I am my own worst critic, so I try not to listen to the whole thing when I edit the file to post.

Comment by jeofurry

in order to have the discernment that is severely lacking in churches today people would actually have to sit down and read their bibles and the very idea of doing that when theres a handful of verses that can get you by already on stickers sold at the local christian book store……

Comment by graceshaker

whoa, graceshaker, that is a chunk of truth that is hard to swallow. Read the Bible, what a thought…

Comment by willohroots

You make some good points. There has to be a point doctrinally where we say “This far-no farther”. However, I would say that our unwillingness to disagree on some doctrines is a true bane to the witness of the church. If only we could be as disgusted by our sin as we are by others.

Comment by Joe Blackmon

No argument on that statement Joe. I am trying in this thread and a couple others to get a grip on where most of us draw the line. I disagree for example, with the Salvation army on eternal security. I love the Salvation Army. As a fireman they showed the love of Jesus to me a few times with a baloney sandwich and a cup of coffee. I would put that issue behind me, even though it is important, to help them any time. I do not baptize babies, but I love Presbyterians.We must as children of God set our Ebenezer [old speak] someplace.
So true, your sin is horrible, mine understandable. Yeah, right. Thanks Joe, well said.

Comment by willohroots

And I appreciates Will’s blog even though he still has to see the light concerning eternal security! 🙂

Seriously though. On many of the blogs I read, I may disagree with the author. (Eternal security being one of those issues.) As you know on my own blog I am doing a series on the Deity of Christ. This is a primary matter which I will defend to the death. Eternal security… not so much. While some might rate its importance very highly, it is not something that I would be willing to give up fellowship for. If someone wants to have a discussion on the topic, sure I would give it some time, but I am not going to make it a major focus of my ministry.

And just so my comments don’t get misconstrued, on eternal security, I would be slightly on the Arminian side of a neutral position.

Mike Bell

Comment by Eclectic Christian

Willohroots, I linked here via your comments on mine. . .

My non-negotiables are small in number. I think a great fear among many is that any kind of shirt in their theology = a shift towards losing their faith. The house of cards mentality is strong among many christians who don’t want to pry too deeply in case it all falls over.

I’m generally self critical anyways. I challenge all my beliefs. It hurts. But I’m always comforted by the though that whatever position I take up, I could be wrong – sounds like something to be afraid of, but it isn’t.

Comment by phil_style

Phil , that is a great image, a house of cards faith where the believer can’t question anything for fear of losing it all. It is good to have faith in our God not our doctrine. It is the desire of my heart to sing “Hen Wlad fy Nhadau”
and watch the boys from Brain trounce the opponent. If God wills perhaps we can discuss this over a pint on Argyle St. It has been too long since I was there.

Comment by willohroots

I’m not sure where Michael or Will stands on this but eternal security IS one of the places where I would draw a line.

Comment by Rob

Hey Rob,

What does your line look like? I will tell you what is distressing to me: I am a member of Jesus Christ’s church. I believe in Christ and have a certainty that I will spend eternity in heaven with him. I have no problems affirming the early creeds of the Church. In any local church that I go to, I am willing to agree to abide by their statement of faith, and to not teach contrary to it.

Yet, if I am true to what I believe, I cannot be a member at any of the churches that I am theologically closest to. There are generally four issues: Inerrancy, Eternal Security, Mode of Baptism, and Charismatic gifts.

Now if I was to sit down with you or Will, or anyone else, you would find that on these four areas I do not have radically different ideas. I would say that my views are in fact very moderate, and probably only nuanced a little bit from what you believe. I don’t blog about most of them at Eclectic Christian, because although I am not a member of the church I attend, I want to be faithful concerning the church’s statement of faith.

I must admit it feels like excommunication when, although Jesus has accepted me as a member of his church, a Pastor won’t accept me as a member of his church.

If you want to have an off-line discussion about the four things I have listed, you can email me at mike_kim_bell [at] hotmail [dot] com.

Comment by Eclectic Christian

It is exactly those kinds of things that I find are killing us as churches and believers. Eternal security is an issue that has been debated for centuries with God-fearing brethren on both sides of the debate convinced that they were right. If they haven’t solved it already, they aren’t going to solve it now and I see no reason to go down with the ship over that issue in that case. I have my opinions and I live them and answer to God for them. It is the “opinion matters” that Paul is talking about in Romans 14. If there has been a “holy war” dividing the church for centuries on a issue, I am willing to bet that it is comes down to a matter of opinion.

Comment by jeofurry

[…] Repentance Yesterday my friend at WILLOHROOTS posted an article called Close the Church of Christian Criticism. […]

Pingback by Repentance « A Voice Crying Out In The Wilderness


It sounds like we are making the same point here.

What is frustrating to me also is being unable to fully exercise my spiritual gift because of a membership rule.

Mike Bell

Comment by Eclectic Christian

Rob, in my personal faith life, Eternal Security is a blessed gift, that I believe and rejoice in. I would not wish to bring my children or a new believer to sit under a preacher who taught against it. I will however have fellowship with Mike, because I believe sooner or later he will come around, if not here, in heaven. I know he will be in Heaven because who ever Christ has in His hands will not slip away.

Comment by willohroots

stand by for off site email mike, i need to know what you are up to.

Comment by willohroots

Looking forward to the email Will.

When we get to heaven, I think we will all be in for some surprises. Unfortunately on earth here we “know in part”. So I look forward to a whole lot of learning.

Mike Bell

Comment by Eclectic Christian

Will, I’m not Welsh. . . I’m also not clear on who the “boys from Brain” are. Please excuse my ignorance. 😉

always keen for a pint tho, irrespective of what’s being sung.

Comment by phil_style

What a man! Brain Beer sponsors the world’s best soccer team! Go on up to Colwyn Bay in North Wales. tell them I sent you. they won’t know who I am but they’ll buy you a round anyway, they are friendly!

Comment by willohroots

I too will be e-mailing you later Mike because I am interested in your views.
My line is between me and God because He knows where it is and I am just guessing half the time.
As far as what it looks like it is crooked and I have colored outside of it.
I have dear brothers and sisters who fall on both sides of the eternal security issue.
As Will pointed out and as Jeff preached, I would just go somewhere else if I could not deal with a pastor who held an opposing view. I might not.
I think it is very important but I would not exclude you from fellowship or friendship because of it.

Comment by Rob

Hello Will! I just left a comment on Eclectic Christian related to your guest article. Wonderful stuff! I used to take it in the neck years ago for talking about the same kind of “revelation”- that is, that God ALSO spoke to Christians from other denominations and, that while we may differ with them on interpretation of Scripture, disagree on some doctrinal issues, yet they are still brothers and sisters in Christ and should therefore be respected and loved. Whew! For years I was considered by some to be the dreaded “L” word – liberal! OK, I confess it, there are some liberal bones in me. But surely God’s message of grace, acceptance, forgiveness and love has been activated within every child of God, hasn’t it?! And isn’t He a Liberal God, blessing us with His favor, not because we deserve it, worked for it, etc., but because He delights in watching it explode in our lives?! I hope all believers would follow His example!
David (eclectic) Holt

Comment by David E. Holt

Your comments about eternal security reminds me of Paul in Philippians 3:15, “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Note that I am not implying that anyone is immature, but the attitude that Paul displays here and echoes in Romans 14 is that we are accountable to God for our views on some matters and that God will correct us if we need to be corrected.

Comment by jeofurry

Amen, i need to be corrected daily!

Comment by willohroots

Great truth. I think you hit on some truths there. The thing with Bill Grahamn really was true. Has in my opinion cozied up a little to RC? To me yes, but am I going to openly criticize him? No way. I was just watching one of his old crusades. Powerful gospel preaching.

Comment by austin

Billy Grahamn could start talking about the Mother Ship before I got upset. I just reread his book. The man was a blessing.
Thanks Austin

Comment by willohroots

Hey Will and others
Great stuff! I am always trying to keep an open mind with my heart set on Christ. Enjoy reading your comments and learning.

Comment by Patty

“I am not seeking an error in another’s ways, I am seeking to be fed on the word of God. If there is something on the plate I do not like, I don’t throw the whole dish to the ground and condemn the cook, I take what I like and praise the meal.”


One of the saddest feelings is knowing you will never be accepted by the Pastor of a church you love.

Comment by Shawn W

BTW If Dr Grahamn ever starts talking about the “mother ship” offer him a chair and a cup of cool water, while you tell him how much his sermons meant to us, and how many lives he touched.
He has truly been the man “of this generation”.

Comment by Shawn W

Shawn, You posted a comment recently about Billy Graham. I’ll share something about him not many people know. Back in the 70’s I invited him to join me in a Rock Festival ministry in Florida. He came and preached on a windy 60 ft. tower to over 35,000 young people, encouraging them to visit the Spirit Tent (as the youth had dubbed it during the three days and nights of our ministry there) to make a commitment to Christ. 350 plus kids signed up to trust Christ as their Savior! I’ve listened to many of his sermons but none ever impressed me as much as his willingness to share in this once-in-a-lifetime “crusade.” What a guy!
David, retired pastor and author of ABCs Of Ministry.

Comment by David E. Holt

Shawn, you caught my drift.
David E. Holt, thank you for sharing that. I want to close this out saying that criticism of Dr. Grahamn was the seed of this post. Nobody but Christ is perfect! We cut at each other and snipe away at motes.Surely it is possible to expose charlatans who profit from God’s word, and yet not damage those servants who speak the Truth in love. Shalom

Comment by willohroots

[…] Willoh’s recent post on negativity and Jeofurry’s sermon on Romans 14 have taken some of the fire out of my one man protest against the modern church. […]

Pingback by I’m an outsider. « A Voice Crying Out In The Wilderness

I love your blog. You say it like it is!

Comment by musingsofastrongblackwoman

Great Post. The porn reference made me laugh. Thanks for the comment by the way. God did also say to let the chaff grow up with the wheat and then it will be clearly seen for what it is and we know He will sort the two in the end. I find that those who have to spend their time criticizing others have a need to do so to feel secure about their own beliefs. When we are secure in our own beliefs we don’t have to tear others down, instead we find the freedom and desire to love them and let the Holy Spirit take care of the conviction department related to sin, righteousness and judgment. Peace.

Comment by John Hobbs

John, well said. Thanks for participating.

Comment by willohroots

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