Archive for the 'Mike Ratliff' Category

Duct Tape - Use Some

Ah, the silly season has arrived, yet again.

Over the past several years of blogging, I’ve noticed a number of trends in topics, discussions and general attitudes which seem to cycle with the calendar. For example, it seems that July is the month for a large uptick in seeing commenters, cited articles and site authors (including myself) to lose patience and get ultra-snippy and personally petty about one another.

Christmas season settles down (from a personal-tone standpoint), but conflicts about personal preference (of all orders – music/worship style, dress, drinking, etc.) come to the forefront.

January/February seems to foster a bit more focused theological debate (often with systematic theologies in the crosshairs), etc.

It’s not that these things don’t happen other times during the year, it is just that they tend to “spike” at certain parts more than others.

Early fall, though, seems to be a season where a lack of basic reading comprehension and any sense of charity toward ones theological “enemies” seems to ratchet up. And this one, like last year, (or previous years) is gearing up to be no exception to the rule.

For example, we have a frequent commenter in one thread who is so blinded in his hatred for another brother in Christ that he reads/hears his brother say and explain one thing (”early Christianity was a subversive movement in the Roman Empire, which hijacked its symbology to declare Jesus as Lord of all, not Caesar”) and accuses him of saying the opposite (”early Christianity was just a cheap knock-off of Rome”).   It is like either A) basic literary comprehension or B) any guise of honesty has taken a holiday…

And then, we have this example, submitted to us by M.G., where a similar “perfect storm” of hatred, ill-will and an utter lack of charity or comprehension (or, possibly, tinfoil-hattery) has led tinpot ODM’s to accuse Rick Warren of trying to merge the church and state – completely misunderstanding (or misappropriating) “reconciliation” to mean something it does not…

And then, there’s the frequent purveyor of misapplication and miscomprehension, Mike Ratliff, who apparently has no clue about what orthopraxis is, or, apparently, that ’systematic theology’ and ’sound doctrine’ aren’t synonymous.  (Though, once again, I think ODM criticism has led me to want to purchase a book subjected to their criticism).

And on… And on…

As I read this screed over the weekend, I was struck A) by how little I missed reading C?N – I’d gone a couple of months without “researching” it; and B) How right Rob Bell was in his August 16th message “The Importance of Beginning in the Beginning” , in which he laid out (in a 65-minute message that intentionally ran long) his view of how Christians fit into Creation, and how important it is that we root our understanding of Christianity in Genesis 1, and not Genesis 3.

But I’m sure there will be some who purposely “misunderstand” him, and will argue (somehow) that he is stating the opposite of what he’s saying.

But let’s not blame them for their stupidity.  It IS that time of year, you know…

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I’ll confess I go to ??N now and again to see the stuff they write. Sometimes, I laugh, sometimes I cry and sometimes I agree. Recently though, there were two posts that I just don’t get what the point is. Here’s the first one (which is put in the category of “seeker sensitive):

The Title says, “God Planned Sin

So says NewSpring “pastor” Brad “BCoop” Cooper:


Um, is the ubiquitous editor trying to stay that sin did sneak up on God? Would that make said editor an open theist? When can we expect our favorite pirate to take this anonymous editor to task?

Then the second one, which is another head-scratcher. It says:

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Oklahoma. To get to where we are going each way we must drive over part of I-35 that goes through a town in Oklahoma called Guthrie. On the East side of the road, as we drove past this city, is a church very close to the highway. Someone at this church has erected a very large sign that says in bold letters, “I LOVE THIS CHURCH!” This really puzzled me and caused me to think of what the intent could be in the erecting this sign. As I thought through all of the possibilities, the only one that seemed to make sense was that someone wants to draw people to this church BECAUSE he, she, or they love it. In other words, this is an attempt to market this church using the ploy that since they love it, others will be sure to “come and try it.”

Well, don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the travel update and I’m super exited to know there’s a town called Guthrie on I-35 but have you really come to the place where someone loving their church is something to deride? Of course, this brings up a whole host of new questions:

1. Does Mike Ratliff’s church use any signs at all?  (Isn’t that marketing?)

2. Does Mike Ratliff’s church use the phonebook? (Isn’t that marketing?)

3. (The most important one so I’m gonna cap it) WHAT IS YOUR POINT?

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Scare TacticsMaybe I’m just unlucky, but I don’t think so.

…they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to…

I remember getting my first email account, almost two decades ago.  We didn’t even call it ‘email’ – it was just an app on the VAX that passed messages back and forth between us engineering students.  It wasn’t until a few years later that some of the usenet discussion groups I replied to got me added to some spammer lists.

Spam sucked (and still sucks, though we have much better tools to deal with it now).  But one variety of ’spam’ sprung up soon after I got my first home email account – the ‘email-forwards’ (EFs).

I don’t even remember who the first person was that hit me up, but I recall that it was about a kid with cancer who was trying to set a world record for get-well cards received.  And, like the first drop of rain believing it was not responsible for the flood, this note was just the beginning of a deluge.

Break the Chain

Science News CycleGrowing up, I remembered my Mom throwing away several chain letters that came to me from friends (in this thing we had called a “mailbox” that was made out of steel, wood and nails, not just electrons), and explaining to me why not to get sucked into these things. (See – I really was listening, Mom!)  That advice would prove invaluable as the tidal wave of EFs began to arrive.


(Ever notice that EFs, and the people that send them, tend to not recognize that USING ALL-CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING IN A LIBRARY?!?!?!?)  So, if I don’t forward this, does it mean that I don’t love Jesus – OR does it mean that I love both God and my neighbor, because I have spared God the misuse of His name, and my neighbor the misuse of his mailbox (the kind made of electrons and hopefully no nails)?

Now, while most of theses EFs were just annoyances, many of them contained information so erroneous that there were occasions I just couldn’t help myself from hitting “reply all” (no need to just reply – sometimes crap needs to be stopped dead in its tracks, kind of like the whacked-out doctrine of Universal Reconciliation) and sending a reply with a link to (the then pretty new), with an appropriate link debunking the Urban Legend/Fake Virus Warning/Misled Heretic Warning sent in some EF’s.

After a while, the EFs became fairly politically-minded, as well – whether it was a 10-meg PowerPoint with the star-spangled banner playing behind a bunch of photos of eagles, mountains and skyscrapers, or a moonbat theory about Bush being the cause of 9/11.  Ideology seemed independent of EF’s – though there was a common thread of “there is a conspiracy” and “we are the resistance” and “keep the underground movement to save us from _____ going”.  In short, just code for


Staging Interventions

This guy needs an intervention!Probably one of the saddest things about the EFs was that they were being sent by people I knew and genuinely loved and cared about.  Most of my resistance to the crap they were sending me was simply in the form of my “DELETE” key, and occasionally the snopes link accompanied by a kind note to please check out the claims of what you’re sending before you send it.  But, in the same way that hiding the bottle of beer from your drunk uncle at Christmastime does little to break the grip of his alcoholism, such half-measures seem to come to no avail.

Over time, though, I’ve held several “mini-interventions” at family gatherings, over lunch at work, and in other places I know people addicted to EF’s.  In most cases, the message got through (at least enough that I got removed from their EF list(s), though I would like to believe they were cured of their horrible addiction to conspiracy theories, monster-sized powerpoints, and wild-eyed urban legends) and I stopped getting this stuff from my loved ones, and the EFs they send me now are not of the pull-your-hair-out variety, and are things I actually would want to read.


Christians to the “Rescue”
A Miracle!

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

As with many things in pop culture, like rock music, you can expect modern Christians to be about a decade late to the party, a couple of notches below baseline quality, and about thrice as annoying as the original.  EF’s are no exception.

It started in earnest just a few years ago for me, I recall – email forwards from Christian acquaintences wanting to tell me about


accompanied by whatever the day’s healine was, plus a good healthy dose of King Jimmy English, particularly from Daniel and Revelation.   This was soon followed up with things about


And it was crap like this that led me to meet some like-minded folks who (I believe) were also being led by the Spirit to come together and create CRN.Info which, while nowhere near perfect,  I’ve been able to use (as have others) in a similar fashion to in debunking the EFs full of sewage from such hellish sources as “Slice of Laodicea”, “Apprising Ministries (sic)”, “Lighthouse Trails”, “”, etc.

Kind of like George W. Bush refusing to sell his home to African Americans, these sites (sadly, managed by professing believers) spew forth enough untrue tall tales to keep a hangar full of gossips busy until Judgment Day, and enough conspiracy theories about the end of the world that you’re pretty sure Judgment Day is almost upon us (current predictions seems to be around Dec 21/23, 2012 – Maybe I’ll repost this on 12/25/12).

Current Events

Ken Silva?In the past week, I’ve learned via EF that (gasp) Rick Warren spoke in front of a group of Muslims to promote civility between Muslims, Christians and Jews without teling the Muslims they were headed to hell (the typical knock on Warren being more about what he didn’t say than what he did say) from some woman who seems to think Warren owes her some accountability.   Granted, this was from the same source telling me a few months ago that Rick was selling out to the homosexuals (all the while I was in a protracted mediation on his Wikipedia page, preventing a liberal group of folks from branding him as a militant homophobe).

Additionally, I’ve received at least four predictions of the End of Times (centered now on 2012), two identifications of the Anti-Christ (the Pope and Obama seem to be in a neck-and-neck race for this dubious distinction), and a whole slew of folks who seem to want my money (for Jesus, of course) to save America for God, to provide accurate prophecy based on events in the Middle East, to save the family from the rising tide of Obama-lovers, or to protect the church from those (cue foreboding music) eeeeeeevil emergents…

And last night, I received a warning from someone who may have read my Facebook profile from a couple weeks ago when I finally got around to reading The Shack and didn’t hate it. (In fact, while I went in expecting to dislike it, I actually found it to be spot on and eloquent on a number of issues Christians tend to be ham-handed with, even though there were parts with which I disagreed).  The warning, though, had the opposite of its intended effect – I don’t know that I’ve laughed so hard in awhile:  The letter was a collection of links from Slice, Apprising, CRN and Lighthouse Trails.

Kind of like getting a letter from McDonalds about the dangers of eating fresh fruit.

The Common Thread
0 N03Z!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

If there is a common bond that attaches all of the spammy EFs together it is an inherent spirit of fear – Fear of those whom we disagree with politically; Fear of the End; Fear of Christians whose doctrine isn’t 100% in line with ours; Fear, Fear, Fear.  Basically, it is porn for the mind – designed to stoke our fears while releasing our inner Eichmann.

But that shouldn’t be what we’re about.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Indeed, we have an obligation not to live according to the sinful nature – of gossip, slander, lies and fear. Trust the Spirit, not forwarded emails trying to scare you about the End Times, or The Shack, or Rick Warren, or Rob Bell, or whatever church these devourers of widow’s houses scheme up to scare immature believers. Live according to the spirit of Sonship you’ve been given, as heirs of God, to whom the Spirit will lead and guide in community with local believers.

Stop forwarding gossip-mongering, slanderous, fear-inspiring crap to fellow believers.

Slowly … Back away form the “Forward” button … there you go…

Well, except for this article. In this particular case


(just kidding :) )

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So often I’ve tried to convince those in the blogosphere that what they are printing is false or less than accurate with no success.  But I can tell you that whenever someone sends me an email from the “source” I dismiss it out of hand because…well…that source is less than credible.

Often times we here try to point out that what is being promulgated as fact is actually skewed opinion wrapped with shreds of truth. This is done with a varying degree of success.

In lieu of the following article appearing this morning on MSN I will forgo my previous planned closing of the article.   Irish student hoaxes world’s media with fake quote.

The student Shane Fitzgerald had this to say:

“I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn’t come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up,” he said. “It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact.”

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Armchair Weed EatersFollowing on the heels of Tim Challies, Michael ‘iMonk’ Spencer has truly outdone himself with a beautiful metaphor that I wish I could just steal and claim as my own.  Weed eaters.

Spencer writes:

There’s nothing quite as empowering to a middle school boy as to be given a weed-eater of his very own. Armed with the machine, safety glasses and an orientation, they come marching across the campus taking on weeds and untrimmed grass like Sherman’s march to the sea.

If there was ever any tentativeness in these weed-eating workers, it all vanishes when they get their first taste of the power of the weed-eater. With a squeeze of the trigger, the power to eliminate weeds replaces the fear of what might happen in using such a dangerous device. Lazy middle school boys are transformed into the scourge of weeds and untidy lawns everywhere.

As I read the article, I can remember my own days as a freshman at a Christian college, incredulous that there could even be a Young Democrats chapter at a Christian college.  What an oxymoron, right?  And the zeal with which I argued and debated friends and rivals, alike, on the evils of alcohol – because teatotalling is right next to godliness.  And the folks who believed in anything other than literal 6-day, young earth creationism?  Make way, you godless heathens, wolves in sheep’s clothing!

There is, unfortunately, a not so charming side effect of this transformation. In the ensuing attack on weeds and sidewalk scruffiness of all kinds, most of the other flora and fauna of the campus is put at some risk from overenthusiastic weed warriors.

So in addition to a tidy campus and well attended faculty and staff lawns, there are frequent attacks on flower beds, gardens and much loved decorative hedges and bushes. Small fences are no obstacle to a boy convinced that some stray sprig of wayward grass is attempting to survive the Day of the Weed-eater.

Flowers and other decorative plants are at real risk when the power of a gang of boys go out into the neighborhood to do good. They are armed and dangerous. The neighborhood will be improved.

Zealousness is not at issue, which I believe sometimes I (and other writers at CRN.Info) am mistaken to be against.  We are called to have zeal for the Lord and to do His work with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Where that becomes a problem is when we start assuming the place of God, in judging the hearts of others, or the Holy Spirit, in convicting them.  We may effectively ‘whack some weeds’, but who knows how many beneficial plants we damage in the process.

Spencer acknowledges this dark side of ‘zeal’ -

So as I get older, I see many of my zealous brothers and sisters armed with the Bible, heading out into the church to do what they believe is a good work of killing weeds.

The results are predictably predictable.

Be less enthralled with your ability to trim the grass brothers, friends. Be less certain that you are qualified to tell the difference between a weed and a flower that has yet to bloom. Learn to use your power equipment carefully. You can do a lot of damage. All does not depend on you cutting down every unknown and out of place plant. You are not saving us from the arrival of the jungle.

And this is where I often find myself.  Reminded of Jesus’ admonition to serve and to love his bride – even the parts I may not personally like.  In a place of a concerned steward protecting gardens and flower beds from undiscerning, yet possibly well-intentioned youths, armed with their shiny new weed-eaters.

iMonk concludes:

It was the Pharisees that Jesus criticized for their weed-eater mentality. They were obsessed with separation. They were tithing their spices. They were experts in staying on the case until the weeds were revealed.

Jesus wants us to be gardeners, but we do have to deal with weeds. Did any gardener ever say “Let the weeds grow” except for Jesus?

Some of us have set our sights (sites) on being full-time weed eaters and we’re having a very good time. The body of Christ needs a few. But only a few. And be careful, please. Very careful.

And I would wholeheartedly agree.  This is why we support true, professional discernment ministries like Reasons to Believe, Christian Research Institute, and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  While we recognize that these ministries may not always agree with one another, nor always we with them, they are managed by Christians who understand that there’s a place for weed eaters, and there’s a place for more careful trimming.

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All too often in the Christian blogosphere, we’re overwhelmed with the pseudo-pious ramblings of holier-than-thou harpies and armchair quarterbacks that we forget to notice so many examples of the kingdom of God at work, both in big and small ways.

Brant Hansen, of Kamp Krusty fame, posted a link to his facebook page, which I found to be a rather touching example of followers of Christ finding creative ways in which to advance the kingdom.  From the article:

They played the oddest game in high school football history last month down in Grapevine, Texas.

It was Grapevine Faith vs. Gainesville State School and everything about it was upside down. For instance, when Gainesville came out to take the field, the Faith fans made a 40-yard spirit line for them to run through.

Did you hear that? The other team’s fans?

They even made a banner for players to crash through at the end. It said, “Go Tornadoes!” Which is also weird, because Faith is the Lions.

For those of you who aren’t from Texas, or w/o Texan friends & family (I’d make a subtle jab at Texas here, except that Zan lived there for a small bit of her life and still takes the second-largest state in the union way too seriously) – high school football is, in some ways, the end-all be-all of existence.  Which makes this story all the bit more strange.

So what was going on?

Gainesville is a maximum-security prison, 75 miles away from Grapevine, and its high school team plays every game on the road.   The coach from Grapevine arranged to have half of his school’s fans (along with cheerleaders) cheer on the other team.

It was a strange experience for boys who most people cross the street to avoid. “We can tell people are a little afraid of us when we come to the games,” says Gerald, a lineman who will wind up doing more than three years. “You can see it in their eyes. They’re lookin’ at us like we’re criminals. But these people, they were yellin’ for us! By our names!”


After the game, both teams gathered in the middle of the field to pray and that’s when Isaiah [the Gainesville QB and DCB] surprised everybody by asking to lead. “We had no idea what the kid was going to say,” remembers Coach Hogan. But Isaiah said this: “Lord, I don’t know how this happened, so I don’t know how to say thank You, but I never would’ve known there was so many people in the world that cared about us.”

Go ahead and read the whole article – with a box of tissues (in case you get something in your eye while reading).

You see, it’s little things like this which demonstrate the Kingdom of God – the heart of Christ – something far different than sniping at pastors who preach in cities in which you don’t live, in churches you don’t attend, to people you wouldn’t know from Adam.

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Found this quote from an ODM in a comment section really interesting.

I don’t know of anyone who flaunts their salvation or who revel in being hated. Perhaps there are some, but I don’t know of any.

I could think of a few :)

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This is a quote from a CRN article on submitting to authority

Our Christianity does not give us the right to rebel against our superiors in the social structure no matter how unfair or harsh the conditions are.

I wonder if this would mean that we should submit to the authority of pastors who used a more purpose driven model in their communities. Or does all this submission mumbo-jumbo take a backseat to blogs that go on and one about the incompetency and ignorance of those we were once submitted to. Funny how submission flies out the door when we find ourselves in harsh conditions (translation: submission only happens when I agree with the authority).

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Mike Ratliff does a fourth part in his series of blogs called The Abomination of Easy-Believism. Here is his rebuttal to our earlier post.

My brethren, is this passage of the thief on the cross an example of what we are calling Easy-Believism? No, it isn’t All along we have been saying that God will save His people even when the one sharing the Gospel with them messes up. The tragedy of Easy-Believism is the validation to untold numbers of professing Christians that they are really saved even though they are not surrendered to the Lordship of Christ nor are they able to walk in repentance. Those who are doing this will have to answer to the Lord about this. Let us not make that mistake. [emphasis mine]

So this means that when Rick Warren “messes up” on his gospel presentation, God still saves people and they come to faith. Plus, Rick Warren does tell his congregation that Jesus needs to be Lord of their lives, we should assume that he has done all he can to help get people to the place of salvation. Just thought I would make that clear. And, since we cannot sort thru who is really saved and not in that moment, we should validate all of them are beleivers after they have made the commitment (i.e. acknowledging that 500 came to faith at Saddleback this weekend) and let the spiritual cards fall where they may. Glad we cleared all that up.

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Look, I am fine if you have legitimate beef with Rick Warren’s programs. I am fine if you express realistic frustration over realistic issues with Purpose Driven. The problem is, half of the stuff on the internet from the ODMs is poorly supported, or over exaggerated. There is very little that actually has strong content against Warren. Here is part 5 of a series called “Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven“, as if it were one or the other. The title immediately told me where this author, Berit Kjos, was going. Here is just on example of the logic that these guys are using.

“Begin by assessing your gifts and abilities. Take a long, honest look at what you are good at and what you’re not good at. Ask other people. Paul advised, ‘Try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities.’ [Romans 12:3b, The Message] Make a list. Ask other people for their candid opinion…. Spiritual gifts and natural abilities are always confirmed by others.” [4, page 250]

They are? What if your spiritual gift has nothing to do with your natural talents or personal preferences? What if God gave you gifts that would show His exceeding greatness, not yours? In stark contrast to Pastor Warren’s view of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul said,
[I Cor 2:1-5]
Did you hear that? God uses weak but faithful believers who will demonstrate His power, not their own talents. In fact, our own talents are often the opposite of our spiritual gifts. History shows us how some of God’s most powerful messengers served in total weakness, all the more demonstrating the amazing power of the Holy Spirit. Now as then, many of His servants come to Him as quiet, shy introverts who would fear speaking their name in a group and would shudder at the improbable thought of ever speaking in front of a group.

Wait, where did Warren say that your gifts are given to demonstrate your own ability and power? Where did Warren say that all abilities need to show how great you are? Oh wait, he didn’t. Nor did he say that your spiritual gifts and natural abilities have anything to do with each other, besides that fact that they are both confirmed in community. I am amazed how many times the ODMs will do this! Rick Warren says X, but they go on attacking Y — when he never even said Y! I am not up to speed in all of my logic rhetoric, but this sounds like a straw man argument. Kojos is attacking a premise that Rick Warren never stated.

He goes on to misrepresent Saddleback’s SHAPE assessment (which I actually think it is on the few useful tools in the PD program to help people discover how God has made them). Kojos again writes about Warren blurring the lines between natural abilities and spiritual gifts. He connects the A in Shape (discovering your “abilities”) with the S (discovering your “spiritual gifts”). The fact that Warren puts them in two separate categories says a lot. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that they are different, but Kojos insists that natural abilities and spiritual gifts are synonymous in Warren’s mind. Here is one example from his article.

“Just start serving, experimenting with different ministries and then you’ll discover your gifts,” said Pastor Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life. “…I urge you never to stop experimenting…. I know a woman in her nineties who runs and wins 10K races and didn’t discover that she enjoyed running until she was seventy-eight!” [4, page 251]

So she discovered that she enjoys running races. But what does a new hobby or physical exercise have to do with discovering spiritual gifts? Pastor Warren’s next statement doesn’t help answer that question:

So, I looked up that excerpt in PD Life. The first part of the quote was in the first paragraph on page 251, the last two were in another. Plus, he failed to quote this line right before the story of the seventy-eight year old biker

I have met many people who have discovered hidden talents in their seventies and eighties. [emphasis mine]

Again, Kjos twists the quote to seem like Warren is saying that biking is spome type of spitritual gift. Warren makes it clear when he is talking about spiritual gifts, and when he is talking about natural abilities. And Warren’s whole premise for people finding their abilities is so they can use them for the glory of God. It’s ironic that so many ODMs accuse Warren of only using sections of verses to fit his agenda.

Again, I am not a Rick Warren apologist. But, if you are going to attack someone on an international scale in the name of God, please do so with some degree of legitimacy. I am tired of people using isegesis when “discerning” other people’s ministry. They come with a preconceived premise, and then extract anything they possibly can to support their claims.


Kjos is not a dude.

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