August 23, 2011

Some Q&A With a Responder

Posted in Church Psychology, False Beliefs About The IC, IC Doctrine and Practices, Misconceptions Dispelled, Pastor/Teachers, Uncategorized at 4:01 pm by Set Free Indeed


A little over six months ago under the comments on my blog “‘Obey’ and ‘Submit’ to your Leaders? The Hebrews 13:17 Deception,” This comment was left by a brother named Alex Lappos who identified himself as a pastor.

I promised myself I would answer his questions honestly, and I thought it would be best to put them in a blog setting.

The best place to start is where he addresses qualifications for pastors, how pastors are chosen, and how they are to conduct themselves. I do not need to reinvent the wheel here…

“How does an elder or pastor become a pastor?”
For one the desire has to be put in the heart of one. According to 1 Tim 3 he who desires to be a bishop desires a noble task.

“How is he appointed? Who appoints him? What distinguishes him to feed the rest of the flock and how is that distinction recognized by the others. How does a group of people know someone has been called to lead them?”
Your question comes with the assumption that an elder is appointed… I happen to believe that is true, because elders should be recognized amongst the community they are part of. When Paul instructed Titus concerning appointing elders, he was to appoint elders in every city. These men were already living out the character requirements in 1 Tim 3, and are already worthy of respect. These elders were to be godly men who has their families in order and blameless character. This is what Paul gave us in the scriptures to look for.

“What areas does can the pastor speak to in the life of a believer specifically. You list specifics in the negative but not the positive.”
Concerning this blog, I wouldn’t agree that I only list the negative concerning the role of pastors, I make it a point to make sure that people know for sure how to determine what elders should NOT be doing. I made it clear that I believe that God has given elders the authority in Christ to rebuke, exhort, teach, encourage, and lead the body of Christ in many areas which promote holiness and godly instruction.

“What areas ? How is a wolf exposed ? By whom ? How do I know you are not a wolf in sheep’s clothing ? Are you wolf or sheep ? If you say you are a sheep why should I believe your answer.
That is interesting…  The bible says that you will know his disciples by their love for one another. Obviously since I don’t know you I don’t know if you have this love, nor can you determine for the most part if I possess it.  The bible also says you will know them (false prophets, his people, wolves, sheep etc.) by their fruit. If the fruit you have to examine is this website, by all means do so. Thankfully only God knows the heart.

“Is is not obvious from Scripture that a true godly leader is also the servant of all. Would not a true shepherd in God’s kingdom diligently examine his heart and motives continually to make certain his doctrine is sound and his character and heart are pure.

“And having done that how does he know with absolute certainty that he is sound on all levels ? Does he decide within himself ? Does the give himself the seal of approval by virtue of his own sense of authority ? What is he is deceived or in error ? Who corrects him ? How can he know he is deceived or correct ? To whom is he accountable ? For that matter to whom are you accountable ? How can I verify you are a man who speaks for God other than your own word for it. How can I verify your references are trustworthy ?”

I feel like I am on trial. LOL.  It is very obvious from the scriptures. The leaders amongst us are the greatest servants of all. Even with all examination, and due diligence a leader (or anyone) may exhibit, there is need for accountability on all levels. Anyone who does anything by their own authority will use fleshly ways to maintain that authority, and that is exactly what Christ condemns in the Pharisees and others who do the same.

As far as accountability, I take great pains to try the content of a post before I post anything on this blogsite. I am part of a fellowship of believers who hold me accountable to what I say. I make it a point to share many of my writings with them. To verify the trustworthiness of what I have said you don’t have to go to anyone. Be a Berean, and search the scriptures to see if what I have said is the truth and the Spirit will confirm. As the bible says, we only know and see in part. I do not write this blog as one who has all of the answers, but as one who knows what they know and has been given to share. God has given me the authority to speak on these matters. Who gave the prophets the authority to speak on behalf of God? Who told John the baptist to speak and baptize in the name of God, or who gave Jesus the authority to preach and teach? I think you know the answer…

“The scripture says that that role of spiritual leaders is to equip the saints unto maturity (Ephesians 4)
Wouldn’t any true leader have the goal of building people up so they can by the direction and inspiration of the holy spirit be “spirit led” and be able to by the spirit govern their affairs. Would he want to play the role of the Holy Spirit substituting himself as the as the foremost authority in the life of a Christian?”

You are absolutely right about spiritual leaders bringing the saints into maturity, however, I would challenge openly your assumption that leaders act as the Holy Spirit on behalf of the believer. That attitude is ANTICHRIST. You cannot be the Spirit in anyone’s life, because you are not God. Honestly this is why this blog exists, to counteract the exact attitudes that many in the body seem to have concerning their leaders being able to substitute themselves for God.

“If he is corrupt is it necessarily because he is part of an “institution” . Does the structure make him corrupt or his own black heart ? Can’t a man who is not part of an “institution” but considers himself a teacher also be corrupt ? How do I know you are not corrupt in some form ?”
I can tell my blog really bothers you. The last question you asked, your condescending tone etc. says it all. But I will press through to answer you.  The Institutional structure was born out of the evil heart of man. It’s the part of man who wants to have lordship authority over people. It is amazing that you cannot see this in yourself via your last comment concerning substituting for the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has an Antichrist spirit is qualified to be taken in their own corruption.

“Are you not through this blog establishing yourself as some kind of authority ? Who appointed you to write blogs teaching Christians at large ? Who are you that we should trust of believe you ? The title of your blog suggests you are someone burnt by pastors and churches ? How do we know you are not some kind of unteachable rebel what drove your pastor mad with frustration ?”
I didn’t know I needed permission to write blogs about anything. I have to ask you the same question… by what authority do you have to question the writings of these blogs I write? If you cannot answer that, I have no obligation to tell you by what authority I write these things.

Yes I have been “burnt”  by the IC, and no it is not a place I will be going anytime soon. God has taken me a long way from the resentment and hurt I once felt being pushed to the side as a member and made to feel less than nothing. These structures are not about the sheep at all, they are about keeping the system, and those in power in those systems, sustained.

As for the charge that I am an unteachable rebel, my fellowship would deny that. I will receive a word from anyone who has one in context from God. Of course these assumptions are being made about me based on my writings and not by actually knowing me… but I digress.

“What precisely do you mean by the institutional church?
This information and much more can found in my “Definition of Terms” Page on the Website.

“Are you a home church advocate? Or a maverick Christian pontificating on the state of the church ? Other than writing blogs what are you doing to invest yourself toward the restoration of the church ?”
I’m an advocate for the Church period. You can call me Maverick all you want in your questions phrased as insults, as if I am alone in my thoughts on the church. The church need not be restored. She is already operating in the call of God she has been given. I am resting in Christ. I need not do anything but the works my Father has prepared in advance for me to do. As he leads me I will do. If you think the work you do for the Father is greater, then so be it.

“Are you yourself some kind of self appointed authority
who speaks about submission but is in no way in submission yourself ? I am not being sarcastic. I really want to know . Because you criticize those who assume unwarranted authority where they have none. How do we know you are not one of these ? Other than yourself who do we consult ?
I can tell you are a pastor… your phrases are loaded with assumptions,  sarcasm and false humility. I’m sorry it is hard to take you seriously, but I will press on. I have no authority than what has been given to me.  As long as the Lord wills I will continue to post blogs on this site. You assume that I am not under “authority,” and I know the kind of authority you speak based on your previous responses… unfortunately the authority I walk in need not be forced or proven.  Again IF YOU believe that the things I write here on this blog are not authoritative, you are free to write your own for your own edification.

“How are you a member of the body of Christ ? Does that exclude sincere believers and true shepherds who ARE part of the local church on the corner ? What precisely are you a member of and how is that “membership” manifested in your life ?”
Very simple. I hold to the testimony of Jesus Christ, his life, death, and resurrection.  I see my life unfolding as a life called onto God in works, deeds, and practice as I continue to endure till the end. My ways have been reformed, and I am a new creature in Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. If anyone holds the same testimony they are part of the body of Christ. Notice that on this blog I make no charge to the people who remain in institutions, I do not question the salvation of anyone who remains a member there.

“Since you are a self confessed fallible individual why should anyone listen to you ? Who are you exactly ?
What is your story ? You don’t identify yourself. Why not come out in the open and tell us who you are ?
Maybe we can check you out and find some of the answers to the questions I have been asking about you.”
You want to know who I am? Those who know need to know. I mean it is really not hard… plus I don’t take well to threats.

“How should the church practically function ? Where should it meet ? How should it meet ? What should we do when we meet ? Who should lead? Someone? No one? Everyone? And when we meet do we meet regularly with the same people or as the “Lord leads” and with whomever we happen to run into who is a brother or sister. How do we determine they ARE brothers or sisters ? What is the responsibility of brothers and sisters toward one another and how is that responsibility practically carried out ?”

Finally good questions.

The church is led and headed by Christ in the most practical and spiritual of ways.  The question of “who” leads a gathering of believers is of no consequence, because those gifted to lead in the body will do so.  There is no specific place believers should meet, nor is it required that believers meet in a place called the church with a steeple. There is no requirement that believers NOT meet there either. It is a matter of preference. The institutional church does not merely consist of a building. It is the way of which an organization is run, and you can have the institutional mindset in a house meeting as well.

How we should meet is described in scripture. I would start with Acts chapter 2

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.

44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.

45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

This is what the 1st century church did with joy. They had TRUE Koinōnia Fulfilling Hebrews 10:25. It wasn’t about everything centering around a weekly service with the pastor’s sermon being the focal point, it was about believers who had all in common who exercised their spiritual gifts amongst each other, for the goal of edification, and allowing God to ADD TO THE CHURCH DAILY. We should “do” what the Spirit leads believers to do: equip one another in Christ with the tools needed to overcome sin and remain free from the pollution of the world. This is done by biblical teaching and Christian fellowship in the assembling of saints in decency and in order. God established that order for his church through his Apostles. However please make no mistake, the reason I write this blog is that many institutional structures prevent THESE VERY THINGS FROM OCCURRING.

Believers can meet at any frequency they choose, whether it is weekly, daily, bi-weekly etc. There is no prescribed formulas as to how much. I do not believe fellowship needs to be with the same people all the time, but there also should be established relationships with others in the body of Christ, and that will come naturally through believers wanting to be together. You know believers by their fruit, and the testimony of Christ they hold. I have answered some of these questions in responses above.

“Though I may seem sarcastic I am not. These are sincere questions. These are questions that the body of Christ has been trying to answer for 2000 years.”
Really, because I thought you could find many of these answers in the scriptures. 😉

“There are great churches and lousy churches . Some are independant . Some are institutions . Others are not . Some meet in church buildings others in rented halls and even living rooms…Some are part of a formal denomination and others are not. …There are good pastor and lousy pastors…Great leaders and terrible leaders. Mature christians and immature…..I am certain one is not better than another and it is the heart that determines what glorifies God and what doesn’t…”

I would agree. This blog is not to condemn those who attend institutional churches, like the title says, there is a lot of bondage,  tomfoolery and issues with the ways many institutions are run which cause the issues I highlight in this blog. 

“This response is more for others who read this blog than for you. Your experience is obviously of one who has been deeply hurt and disillusioned by what you call the “institutional church” Not all of us share that experience.”
Pastor, don’t assume that there aren’t those who cannot relate to this blog. One of the ways people try to discredit what I write here is through relegating it to one person’s experience only. “Oh they are just hurt by church…” as if the concerns are any less valid. Don’t worry, there are plenty of others like me who have been freed from the oppression of legalism and ungodly control of those in many institutions, and we will continue to share our stories.

“I myself am a pastor and I must confess that the issues you bring up confront me everyday. But I believe in the local church and its pastors and overseers because there is no way to escape it :This is the Biblical model. I too am grieved over what it has reduced itself too but I am convinced it can be restored. We are by the grace of God “striving ” in our hearts to be Christlike and be a body of believers that is pleasing to Jesus and lays down our lives for the sake of others.”
Your conduct in your questions have been less than stellar brother. There has been nothing but assumptions and attacks in your questioning , and only few of your questions were actually substantive.

I understand. Your view of the church would cause you to defend it this way. I have seen it time and time again. What you do not see is that the “local church” you describe is not the functioning the bible describes, therefore it cannot be legitimately called “the church” at all. This is why you are so grieved, because we have gone so far away from what God prescribes for the local church that you look toward the false church as if something has gone wrong in the body.

“Your comments will force to ask questions that will make us better…and try to avoid producing people that carry the hurts and disappointments you must have experienced.”
Pastor, if you truly mean what you say, I pray you read this response to you, and with all diligence, practice letting God lead his church. You cannot be anyone’s Holy Spirit, nor can you act in the capacity of God. You can also practice some humility too… The structure of many IC’s today exalt a man to an Antichrist position where he is considered God. Isn’t that exactly what the bible says the Antichrist spirit is which is already in the world? God told us in advance the apostasy which would come, and it is here… full blown. It is up to us to either continue to feed into the apostasy or come out from among it.

My choice is clear… yours is up to you.

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9 Comments »

  1. Ruth said,

    Ye shall be brought before kings.but the Holy Spirit will give ye what to answer at the right time. I believe I am quoting what Jesus said. I believe some are called to the institutional church, and some are called to the lost, and some are called to those who are hurt by abusive institutional churches or have outgrown the church system alltogether author of this blog,,, well done… Many of us can identify with most of what is written here.

  2. Dear Set Free Indeed,

    I’m not a pastor, elder, or leader in any IC. However, I am a 45 year old black heterosexual male with an engineering degree. I’ve been saved for 35 of those years and grew up in the holiness movement church.

    I came across your blog looking for information and research on the Mega Non-Denomintional churches that have sprang up in major cities and television over the past 40 years. Growing up in a christian home and coming from a very large family of ministers, we’ve never paid attention to the psychological disorders and abusive doctrine these churches tend to find themselves in trouble with (as outlined in your SHARED experience). To be honest, we just loved the MUSIC (it was better than the boring hymns we sang and listened to on Family Radio back in the 70s).

    However, while reading your blog (and definition page), I became confused. Particularly with your end-goal, and your definition of terms referring to the church and end times. I tried to find a private forum to have a discussion, but could not deduce your email address [didn’t really try because I figured you value your privacy based on your “Those who know need to know” response to Alex].

    When I read your discourse with Alex “Though I may seem sarcastic I am not. These are sincere questions. These are questions that the body of Christ has been trying to answer for 2000 years.” Then your tort reply “Really, because I thought you could find many of these answers in the scriptures.” Actually, you cant. And I could no longer be a “spiritual voyeur” on your blog 😉 yes i know your a woman 😉

    I feel you, and its my desire that you grow in Christ so I had to reply;

    It seems you missed that the gist of Alex’s rudimentary deconstructive questions. You felt like you were on trial. That is because you were. I pray you receive this in love, but your theology, christology, and exegesis of the Bible were tested and found wanting for lack of maturity.

    It seems that you included Catholics (the creator of the 66 cannons we call the Bible), the anglicans, the lutherans, episcopalians, methodists, and presbyterian churches in your aberrant definition of IC. This is wrong. And I am not the ANTICHRIST for saying so.

    I’m sure in 2012 you can simply google the term “church history” and conclude that the institution of the church is actually what promoted Christianity. I sure you will also realize that the few abusive IC’s (as you define) we see today, has done nothing compared to the Spanish Inquisition years ago. So while you were mentally manipulated and abused in your IC experience and “came out from among them” Innocent God-Feering People in Europe were hunted, tortured, and killed because of an institutional interpretation of the Bible (which they created then claimed descended from heaven on the tongue of an angle).

    So where do we go from here? Stay humble, continue to study,continue to exchange ideas (thats what it was called before blogging), don’t participate in just proof-texting, but look for historical evidence and theological commentary when seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If your defense to your blogs are just “I am resting in Christ” and “Be a Berean”. That is not enough. You would be just as bad as the people that wronged you.

    You will grow to learn that the Bible was written by persons living long after Jesus and his witnesses died. The Bible contains God but is not Gods word inerrant. To worship everyword in it as if it was Gods word..is idolatry. The Bereans did not have the “Scriptures” you have. They had the Tora, an oral story of a great teacher, and a few letters from a Jewish dude named Paul.

    If you are in NYC, I would love to come to your gathering and “mix-it-up”. But in summary, I would recommend anyone coming out of an abusive IC, not to isolate yourself then band with other ex-IC victims to make a “home church”. But find a TRADITIONAL IC church with an Inclusive Gospel. One that has a long tradition of leading people to Christ. One with checks and balances (pastor is not in-charge), one who’s doing work in the community, one where access to the leaders are available, congregation representation, and dialogue exists. Any Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Lutheran church will fit that bill. But I warn you….the worship and music might be boring 🙂

    Be Blessed Sister,
    -Walter

    PS. I left out Catholic, because even though they were the first, they now believe the canon of Scripture is closed and there is no more revelation.

    PSS. I found an old blog that might interest you…. pay attention to Omar he is on point and “served” Pastor Shifferd.

  3. Alex Lappos said,

    Oh yes one last thing I at no time said pastors should act as the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers. I said that a sincere leader would abhor that view and take every precaution to avoid it. You misrepresented me. Perhaps next time I will be more clear.

    thanks again Alex

  4. Alex Lappos said,

    I have read your response thoroughly. Thanks for taking the time. Posting the answers was more than I expected.

    There was no ulterior motives in any of my questions. They were simply questions asked by someone of a different view; one I had before I become a pastor.
    I don’t care for institutions one way or the other.

    And it’s clear to me from Scriptures what apostles prophets evangelists pastors and teachers are required to do and all members of the body of Christ. Ephesians 4 lays it all out beautifully. I agree that Acts 2: 42-47 is a great model for the church. If those things are not evident in any group of believers they are not part of the THE CHURCH institutional or otherwise.

    And to Dave Gilbert: There IS a Biblical model for the church. I believe churches who are part of an institution or not should follow it. If you are suggesting that being an IC makes it impossible: this is not true.

    You were not on trial at anytime. I sincerely wanted to know your heart. Your answers reveal it sufficiently

    Your answer to my last comments presumed insincerity on my part. Since I am a pastor in an IC I must be
    corrupt . Is that right ? I hope neither you nor your readers hold that position.

    And I also hope that exchanges of this kind are welcome in the future.

    Alex Lappos

  5. Dave Gilbert said,

    Very thoughtful exchange.

    I always find it interesting when “pastors” of local churches ask me what church I attend and when I say “none”, they almost invariably make the same argument this man did by invoking the “biblical model”…a model that strangely leads me right back to the problems I left BECAUSE of…a LACK of Biblical understanding!

    For me, I’ve seen a heavy use of Hebrews 10:25 in an effort to “hammer” me back into attending “church”. When that fails, there’s the argument about spiritual authority and not being under discipline, of which I can see SOME truth about, but that would discount the spiritual discipline and exhortation I get from my current fellowship.

    Granted, because of mine and my brother’s spiritual gifts, we NEED a larger group….but NOTHING will make me go back to the spiritually desolate and seemingly mindless tradition I came out of, unless it’s to bring more of them OUT…;)

    If anything, I search for a group not led by the traditions of men who genuinely understand or WANT to understand God’s Word for their lives…those that look at the Bible and say,” If God says it, it’s true”, even if they don’t understand it AT THAT MOMENT.

    Sister, there are individuals within the system that see people outside of it as being “disobedient”, which you well know. This gentleman seems to be one of them, at least at first glance. He’s asked a few good questions, some of which are from the perspective of a teacher asking a student apparently, and IMO you’ve done well providing him with answers. Some of his questions also appear to be designed to sting a bit…”maverick Christian?” It’s a contradiction in terms. One can’t be a rebel AND a genuine believer, unless one is rebelling from man-made religion…;)

    Personally I differ with you in your choice of English translations, but other than that your doctrine seems sound as well as your desire to hear and obey the God of all creation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

    In His Body,

    Dave Gilbert

  6. Bryan said,

    To the Blog Owner, you are not alone my Brother and Friend. I believe you handled that barrage very well. I’m also a free believer, and I do not attack the IC, nor those that attend one. However, I’m very active in Christian group management, (discussion boards), and I have been known to occasionally let a member know that their indoctrination is showing. I love your blog, and I’m definitely a fan. I also appreciate all your efforts and contributions in letting those that no longer attend an IC are not alone. God bless you Brother, and keep up the good work. 😉

  7. InHim said,

    Wow!! Great exchange and I absolutely love your response!! Funny how you are always labeled as “him”…lol


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