Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Testament Tithes

Many churches nowadays teach and require their members to pay a "Tithe" of their earnings from jobs or other means to the religious organization they belong to. Most of these organizations that do this pay their ministry out of the tithes and/or offerings that are submitted by the members, and a very few use the monies for the exclusive use of feeding the poor, widowed, orphaned, etc. I was raised in a UPCI congregation, and was taught that 10% (tithe literally means one tenth) belonged to God, and therefore was to be submitted every week or two, depending on my pay schedule. This money was then disbursed by the Pastor at his sole discretion, and that, supposedly, was the way it was supposed to be.

When you are raised being taught something, you will generally accept it as true until you are confronted by someone asking questions. In my case, I was reading an article online, and the author mentioned tithes being used to run the church, with the Pastor's salary coming from the offerings. Of course, if you are familiar with the UPCI format, the opposite is what they teach, with the tithes belonging to the Pastor as his salary, and the offerings being what runs the church (rent, utilities, mortgage, etc).

Having been raised UPCI and attending a
UPCI congregation here in Medicine Hat as an adult, you can imagine my surprise when I heard this other way of doing things. So, in an effort to find out what the truth is, I started reading. There are many many many articles online written by scholars from almost every denomination, sect, and organization on the planet.

Most organizations have a model of a paid clergy. Some encourage giving as Paul did in 1 Corinthians chapters 9 and 16, but don't
necessarily require 10%. Others mandate a minimum 10%. Still other more legalistic ones mandate 10% tithes, with offerings required over and above. Some even more stringent congregations maintain 10% tithes, 5% offerings, and have other amounts that have to be paid or you are ostracized and looked down on. Lastly, some very strict congregations hold to the exact same Old Testament teaching of 10% every year to the Levites, another 10% every year to the Temple for the care of the poor, widowed, and orphaned, and an extra 10% in years 3 and 6 of the 7 year sabbatical cycle to keep the Temple stocked for the charitable work, and to help provide for the 3 feasts totalling 22 days every year that the males of Israel were required to attend. Thus, the people would actually be giving approximately 23.3% to the Temple to be administered by the Levites.

However, the Old Testament Law that required mandatory tithing was done away with twice: first when Jesus lived and died and was raised which removed the yoke that our forefather's couldn't bear (Acts 15:10-11), and second when the Temple was destroyed by invading armies in 70+ AD. Without the Temple, we cannot fulfill the law that required the tithes to be brought to the Temple, therefore the law is done away with. When the Israelites were in captivity they didn't bring tithes....they couldn't. So we have a precedent that when we don't have the Old Testament Temple, we don't bring tithes.

In the New Testament, the word tithe doesn't even appear anywhere as a commandment. It appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke where Jesus is condemning the Pharisees (a breed I wish had died out 2000 years ago but continues to blab away in our day and age) for there ritualistic and silly practices, and in Hebrews where Paul (presumed to be the author of the book) does a fantastic job of showing that the law is of no more effect or requirement, and especially so in chapter 7 where he specifically states the
Levitical priesthood collected tithes, but a new priesthood has been created and ushered in. So if we are no longer under the law, and no more Levitical priesthood exists, who is claiming the right to mandate tithes?

Now, you say: But John, Paul stated that the ministry should be supported by the church in 1 Corinthians. My answer: absolutely. But where does the NT at any point mandate a 10% tithe to belong to the ministry as his/her salary? It simply cannot be shown. It isn't there. If you teach that 10% tithing is mandatory and
Biblically required by the NT church, and belongs to the ministry, you are completely out of line with God's word. Yes the ministry should be supported...but to the extent of their ministry. It all comes back to what a Pastor/Shepherd/Elder is in the Bible, which is completely at odds with what these self appointed Pastors in legalistic organizations state. If you wish to hold to the OT tithing system, then you must hold to the entire OT law. So you better have an appointed (hereditarily chosen by God) priesthood in your organization that also does all the work in the Church/Temple, and does all the ministering, and doesn't have an inheritance, etc. The problem is that we no longer live in a Theocracy. The OT tithing system was God's social tax system to support the Government (Levites), social assistance programs (feeding the poor, widowed, and orphaned etc), and public festivals (feasts). When the Theocracy was no longer the model of government, the tithes were no longer needed.

Yet we still come back to the absolute 10% tithes. As well, a UPCI preacher I know has stated on many occasions that you don't come before God empty handed. This was in reference to offerings. Then he would make comments about 5 and 10 bucks not being very big offerings. This from a guy that claims he is
Biblically entitled to 10% of all monies earned by members of his cult. So, now he is teaching that he is owed (through God of course, because the tithe is for God's ministry, and since he is the minister appointed by God, the tithes are his...blabbety blah blah blah) 10% from each and every penny earned by any living person in his congregation (and gets up to condemn and blast other cults that have monetary requirements). Ridiculous. So now we have to give 10% of our gross income (his teaching), plus offerings (say 20 bucks twice a week to not be in danger of giving too little) so the average house that earns 60,000 a year between 2 income getters, now gives $10160 (if there are two services a week with offerings collected) per year, out of a total of $45600 (approx after taxes) net income, which reduces their entire disposable income to $35440 per year, or $2953 per month. This money then goes to INCREASE the "minister's" salary 500 dollars a month (tithes only, apparently the "pastor" would be entitled to $500 tithes but the House of God is entitled to only $250 offering according to this system). To top it off, these types of "pastors" then claim: "I pay my tithes too you know!" But hang on, if I give money to a fund that belongs to me, then I'm just paying how does that line up with the Biblical model? The Levites didn't pay themselves tithes. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizidek. So where does the Bible say the ministry pays themselves tithes? It doesn't. Now if they paid tithes to someone else, I would perhaps agree that there's a sacrifice there, but they don't. Absolutely amazing what these guys pull off.

In fairness to the current circumstance, this "pastor" does not get to collect the tithes for personal use as the building they are having meetings in costs more than what comes in as offerings. However, if enough people convert to this cult, then eventually enough would be coming in to support the church on offerings alone. At that point, he could realistically claim his "entitlement" to the 10% tithes, and be making buckets of money: say 20 families (conservative estimate as he thinks he's the only "real" church in his town and wants to convert everyone in the city) all making the above amount of 60000 per year = 1,200,000 gross total
income = 120,000 per year in tithes. Obscene. Jesus had not even a place to lay His head, Paul was a tent maker and died for the Gospel, Peter was a fisherman and was crucified for his adherence to Jesus Christ, but modern day so-called "ministers" are getting rich off the Gospel that Jesus and these men DIED for. Then they get up and preach that we should die to ourselves, all the while living far above the means of many of the people in their congregation.

Often, Acts chapter 5 is used as justification for the mandatory collection of tithes. In this chapter, Ananias and Sapphira were killed because they lied to the Holy Ghost about what was the price they had gotten for the land. This is at a time where people in the early church were selling what they had extra and giving the price of it to be disbursed to those that had need. The sin of Ananias and his wife was not that they gave too little; it was that they said they were giving the entire price of the land when they weren't. They were well within their right (according to Peter) to give less, but they were attempting to gain recognition and status for something they weren't doing. They were being deceitful. Read the story again:

So that scripture passage doesn't support the tithing model. Paul didn't espouse it, Jesus didn't espouse it as He was the one that did away with the Law....We have no record anywhere of Jesus paying tithes...taxes yes, tithes no.

I guess it comes down to this: what amount should we give to the church? Well that's pretty easy actually. Give what you can. 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 - "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem." So it says Paul wants a collection "FOR" the saints, not a mandated tithe FROM the saints, and this money would be taken to Jerusalem to help in the ministry of God's word, and FOR the saints that had need. He even says "according to your liberality" not "according to the OT law that you are no longer under but which I use to force you to pay 10% of your gross income with".

We are called to give to support the ministry it is true, and we should support the church we belong to with our funds (how can it exist without them). However, we are not called to make the so-called ministry rich. When you give, pray first, budget, see what you have left after your needs, give up something that is a want rather than a need that month or 2 weeks (depending on your budget) and give that for God to prosper and use in the ministry of His word. Give 10% if you feel that is appropriate. Give more than 10% if you are able. Give less if you aren't. It's possible you may fall under the category of poor, widowed, or then you should be receiving charity from the offerings. But in no circumstance should you be bound by Old Testament law and traditions of men...we are free of it. Jesus did away with the OT law, and if anyone had a right to collect tithes, He did. The law is finished, God doesn't need your money, your church family does. Base your giving on that, rather than someone preaching at you that God wants 10% of your income.

Finally, don't attach yourself to a congregation that has a single person in charge of funds collection and disbursement. Find one that teaches the Bible, lives the NT church model, and has a council of Elders that prays, fasts, and decides the direction of the church. That's Biblical. All else isn't, and is based on traditions of men.

God Bless you


King James Version

Young's Literal Translation

Monday, June 15, 2009


I was recently accused of being spiritually immature. I take that as a good sign, due to to the fact it was someone that is upset I am no longer living phariseeical standards of men. Apparently, the fact that I choose to read my Bible and let it speak for itself is a sign that I am immature. Ah well, no biggie.

The part that DOES bother me is that it's someone that I consider a friend that has said it. It was said in an effort to insult me, although I think I'm beyond being insulted. I've been called backslid, prone to false doctrine, prayerless, etc in the process of leaving the UPCI due to differences in what I was being taught and what the Bible says. It's funny because these are the same people that turn around and tell my wife that I am "articulate and quote scripture well" (their words not mine). I bear these people no ill will in spite of the fact that they obviously don't reciprocate the feeling. The whole point of this blog is to share my discoveries of what and who God really is, without the filters of man made doctrines. It isn't (as I have been accused of) an effort to take potshots at any specific person (if the shoe fits though...), but, rather, the goal is to show the light of God's word to any interested party.

It's true that I have proffered to my ex-pastor the opportunity to email me and I will post his email in it's entirety with the exception of anything the Blogspot Terms of Use and Acceptable Use Policy prohibit. I will also block the names of anyone that has not provided (to me) written consent to have their names in here. This is an opportunity that he does not allow anyone to have in his pulpit, but I am willing to allow him that liberty. That offer stands firm and will as long as I am the author of this blog.

I have absolutely nothing to hide from anyone as far as my doctrines, my standards (or lack thereof), my beliefs, and my habits (I smoke a Cigar every night while I drink a Scotch or other suitable beverage). That's the point of this blog: to show that the Bible grants us a great deal of liberty because of the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are no longer bound by 613 commandments and the ritualistic washing and cleansing that the Pharisees espoused. We are bound to 10 Commandments, to love our enemies (Jesus said it which is more than good enough for me) and the 4 things that the Apostles bound us to: No drinking of Blood, No eating of things strangled, No Idolatry, and No fornication. To teach otherwise is to miss entirely, the point of the NT. Peter himself said that the law was a yoke our forefathers couldn't bear. Yet legalistic organizations expect us to, once again, put ourselves in that position. The Pharisees added rules and standards to the lesser law because they were attempting to prevent anyone from even coming close to breaking the law. This led to more and more restrictive rules, with more rules added to keep you from breaking those rules, and so on and so on. This is no different than legalistic organizations of today. I have heard it said repeatedly that Doctrines are what's in the Bible, Standards are what aren't. So, going by that, legalistic organizations ADD to the Word of God by creating standards that are supposed to keep us from breaking the law (whose law I'm not sure, because Jesus didn't espouse or condone the Pharisees and their rules), which is precisely what Jesus was mad at the Pharisees about.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to keep up with all the rules and regulations of a legalistic organization for one very simple reason: They can't agree even amongst themselves what are and aren't correct standards!!! One Pastor will teach that reading newspapers is a hell-worthy offence (no lie, I actually heard that taught), another will say that rollerskating is, another will say that you have to fast on a specific day of the week or you are rebellious and hell-bound. If all these issues are heaven or hell issues, then why is there not an organization wide ruling on the matter? If they aren't, then why does anyone teach them at all?

I have posted links in previous blogs to stories about UPCI licensed ministers that are caught soliciting homosexual sex in public parks, that are charged with child molestation, and that plead guilty to the continual rape of a young girl. Yet these are men that were allowed to sit in positions of leadership in a legalistic organization that denies (rightfully) all forms of sexual debauchery!!! How can any minister in that organization hold his/her head up with pride and state that they are licensed by such? You wouldn't catch me dead holding a licence with such a group. I am aware that the vast vast vast majority of the UPCI licenced ministers do not have these issues (that we know about, and I refuse to believe there are very many that are still in the closet), but even one bad apple spoils an entire pie. It begs the question: Where was discernment among the "Presbytery" that laid hands on these men and confirmed them to a position that they used to fulfill sexually immoral desires!? How can any right-thinking person have any desire to have this same fellowship confirm THEM as a minister?

They then state "well I wasn't one of those men that were caught or the men that confirmed them"...I know, but you still hold a licence with them. Still in fellowship. If the legalistic model of the church is correct, then where are the men that stand up and publicly (not in a private church group meeting) denounce these men? They feel free to blast the Roman Catholic church as a whole (I don't believe the Roman Catholic church is of God in any way, for the record) for the actions of a comparatively small number of it's "ministers" in regards to children, but they have the same cancer in their own organization.

You simply cannot have it both ways people. God is not mocked. He isn't some old, weak, trembling, senile man sitting in His Heavenly rocking chair wondering what to do about the state of this world. He sits on His throne trying to draw all men to Him, and the legalistic, extra-Biblical, judgemental standards and attitudes of the so-called Jesus-only movement causes more people to stay away from God than to ever come to a place of communion with Him. I am reminded of a song that most Oneness people will know, and here is a verse from it:

They call us Holy Rollers,
they're always poking fun,
but thank God I've got the Holy Ghost,
and spoke with other tongues,
Cause I know God is God,
and God don't never change,
I know God is God,
and Jesus is His name.

This is totally indicative of the level of exclusivity and judgement that the oneness movement is proud of. They are so proud of their long hair, long sleeves, long dresses, and "other tongues", that they fail to see the true nature of Jesus Christ. For instance: Where did Jesus ever speak in unknown tongues? He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, He washed the feet of the Apostles, and He is the firstfruits of the Resurrection...but He didn't speak in other tongues. Oh, you say "the Holy Ghost hadn't been poured out yet, and tongues are the evidence of being filled with the Holy Ghost". I ask you then: Why did John the Baptist never speak in tongues? He was full of the Holy Ghost from birth... If Jesus wasn't providing us with an example to follow, then what WAS He doing? If we are to fulfill all righteousness as He did, then why do "Holy Rollers" add to what He did? If the word "Christian" literally means "Christ-like", then why are we expected and taught to live standards of men and be bound to things Jesus Himself didn't do? When the woman caught in adultery was forgiven, why didn't Jesus say "Go thy way and sin no more, and make sure you don't wear short sleeves, drink alcohol (except cough medicine), smoke Cigars, and you better be in church 4 times a week or you're gonna burn!!!"?

I choose to follow Jesus, not a man-made, legalistic, uninspired, old-boys club. I hope you do the same. I do believe in church attendance and fellowship. I also believe that we are free to choose where to attend as long as they teach the Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, so help them God.

"Beware lest anyone rob you through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

I am including a link to another website that I found. I don't espouse everything this man says, but he is very intelligent, and has spent much time like myself in the Word of God trying to find answers. His experiences are typical of legalistic organizations, and I hope that you can be helped by reading his material: is the website. He has an article entitled "To hell with church" at: He is a bit more militaristic in his feelings than I am, but it's not surprising in view of what he's been through. I have learned a great deal from reading his material.

God Bless you

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Religion and Spirituality

Lightning over the outskirts of Oradea, Romani...Image via Wikipedia

Leaving a UPCI church can be incredibly scary. I know, because I've done it twice. All the way home you expect the ground to open up or a lightning bolt to strike you dead. After all the things you've been conditioned to expect, you are absolutely certain that God is going to kill you for rebelling against the "man of God", and you keep expecting it to happen. Of course, it never does, and eventually you realize that something doesn't add up. As you go on with life, you believe that it is God's mercy that is prevailing against His judgement, and then, eventually, something scares you into returning to some un-Biblically legalistic church.

The hope is, of course, that by doing so, you are fulfilling the story of the Prodigal son that returned to his father's house and to a place of provision and blessing. We hear this story many times over the course of a lifetime in a UPCI church, but it is never actually explained according to the actual meaning of the Parable. Jesus was not talking about someone that left an earthly organization and went to a different one. At the time, there were two basic religious groups in God's eyes: His backslid lost people, and the rest of the world which were heathens or gentiles. The Gospels make it clear that He did not come back only for the Jews, but also for all the people that were outside the covenant. The entire purpose of His coming to earth to dwell among men, was to make possible the return of the entire human race to a place of love and communion with God. So when we hear this taught as an example of someone "backsliding" from a legalistic church and returning, we ought to grit our teeth in disgust. This story is the third in what is commonly referred to as a "trilogy" (oh look, three again...legalistic oneness groups hate when there are 3's in the Bible :D) of parables regarding God's joy and love in heaven for the lost. If we read the parable in the context of the passage, we see that it is more aptly applied to the lost humanity of the world than it is to a single person:

-someone decided to do their own thing and left the place of blessing = Adam and Eve in the garden
-they then spent everything they had on pleasures of the world without regard for the loss of God in their life = the gentile nations of the world that didn't worship God
-they came to their senses and decided to beg for mercy from their father...God is the Father of all creation = the gentile nations that have now come to believe and worship God
-the father said, not so, you will be heirs once again of promise and blessing = God pours out His Spirit on ALL flesh
-elder son was upset because he had been faithful (according to him) the whole time and felt he was being gypped = Jews didn't recognize that Jesus came to save the world, not set up an earthly kingdom for them

The parables in this passage make it plain that the joy in heaven is God rejoicing, not the angels. It does not say anywhere that the angels are joyous, rather it states that "there is joy in the PRESENCE of the angels" (caps mine). The only way for there to be joy in the presence of the angels is for God to be rejoicing as He is the only one in the presence of the angels. If it were the angels that were rejoicing, then the Bible would read that there was joy in the COMPANY of the angels. I believe the angels are happy when God is happy, but the important thing is that God Himself rejoices when lost sheep come back to Him.

To apply any of these parables to someone that leaves a church organization of any kind, then returns to the same, is to apply very poor Biblical knowledge and understanding of God Himself. Let the Bible speak for itself. The father in this parable is God, not a church group. God is our covering, not an organization. You can attend many different organizations and still serve the one true living God of eternity. Ephesians 4:5 says there is "One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism". There is one FAITH not one church group or set of standards. Faith towards the God of the Bible. Any other faith is counterfeit. If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Word made Flesh, that He died for your sins and rose again, that He is the ONE Lord, and that you are baptized into His love, then you are in complete accordance with the scripture. There is no reason to make that scripture say any more than it already does.

God Bless you, and I hope you enjoyed the picture I added for the fun of it
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1 Corinthians 3:16-17

I was recently on a walk with my wife and we got on the subject of this verse because I was smoking a nice Cuban cigar. I enjoy a cigar on occasion, and since I don't smoke inside, it's a nice way to combine the pleasure of a cigar with the pleasure of my wife's commentary on houses in the neighbourhood. The reason this came up is that I have been questioning absolutely everything I have ever been taught by UPCI ministers in an effort to discover what the Bible really says. A major point of concern has been standards of the UPCI that I cannot find in the Bible as a commandments. We have several places in the NT that talk about wine in a positive light, with the caveat that drunkenness is to be avoided. We do not however find any scripture that speaks of smoking in any form, and specifically doesn't say not to. In light of this, let's examine the standard UPCI standard on smoking, and what the Bible really says in the verses they use.

The first passage is the one in the title of the post. The KJV renders it thus: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."

The reason many UPCI and other legalistic organizations have teachings that other denominations decry as heretical, is because legalistic organizations take one or two scriptures from a passage here and a passage there, put them together, and make a doctrine/standard/teaching out of it. The problem with this is that the Bible was not originally written with scripture divisions in any way. It was written as books, with the exception of Psalms which is a collection of poetic passages grouped together and given chapter numbers to distinguish one from the next. So when we look at a scripture we absolutely MUST consider the entire passage and body that it is a part of. We simply cannot take 1 0r 2 scriptures out of places in the Bible and teach from them without understanding them within the context of the passage they are in. That is what happens here. Legalists take these two verses and state that if you do something that goes against what they consider to be pure, then God will destroy you. Of course, they are the ones that define what is and isn't pure, so pretty much everyone is in danger of hellfire.

They use this passage to rail against drinking and smoking because those are (according to them) impure. What they fail to do is consider that within the entire body of this passage, Paul is talking about teachings and doctrines. Not life choices and habits. He talks about wisdom (worldly and otherwise), foundations (which is very obviously a reference to scripture and beliefs), and men's works (which are easily seen to refer to work by the church in winning souls and building the kingdom of God). As well, even within the passage quoted, we see that, in the greek, Paul is talking about the church at Corinth as a body (there's that singular plural again that the Oneness peeps deny) and not to the individual believer. There is no definite article preceding the word "ye" in verse 16, and the entire book is written to the church at Corinth, NOT the BELIEVER at Corinth. That is a major distinction in the Greek that we miss in the English.

However, I have left the best for last: This passage is not translated as accurately as it should have been. The KJV translators strove for poetic and flowing prose, while holding to accepted translations of the scripture. We see that here in this passage: the word translated as "defile" in verse 17 is the exact same word they translated as "destroy" in the same verse. The rendering then in consistency is thus: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man destroy the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." This doesn't flow the same because we have the same word twice close together, and any good student of technical writing will tell you that this is not a proper way to have a passage flow (notice I used the word "flow" twice in the same sentence to illustrate the just sounds stilted instead of relaxed). However, this does not change the meaning of the word: If any man DESTROYS the temple. The word "destroy" is translated from the Greek "fithiro" which means to shrivel, wither, spoil, ruin, corrupt, defile, destroy. Those are all the same in the Greek.

Consider: If God dwells somewhere because it is Holy and consecrated to Him, then someone defiles it with a false idol, and God withdraws, they have destroyed that Temple of God. The place may remain, but it is no longer a dwelling place of the Spirit. So it is destroyed as such. The words are interchangeable because you cannot partially defile the Temple of God...It would no longer be the Temple of God the instant that it was defiled/destroyed.

So what the scripture actually says is: If you attack and cause the Temple of God (The body of Christ/people of God) to be withered, spoiled, ruined, etc then God will destroy you. This is absolutely consistent with Matthew Henry's commentary (1 Corinthians 3 - Matthew Henry’s Commentary - Bible Commentary), John Wesley's notes (1 Corinthians 3 - Wesley’s Explanatory Notes - Bible Commentary), and Adam Clarke's commentary (Adam Clarke's Commentary - 1)) Corinthians 3). It DOES NOT say that if you have a Cigar or a Scotch and Soda that you will be destroyed.

Lastly, let's actually examine a scripture that talks about defiling a man: Matthew 15:9-14 "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And He called the multitude, and said unto them, 'Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.' Then came His disciples, and said unto him, 'Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?' But He answered and said, 'Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.'" The Pharisees were offended because Jesus had just denied the truth and validity of all their man-made rules of cleansing and eating. Jesus told the multitude (that were subject to the rules of the Pharisees) that all those rules, regulations, and STANDARDS were valueless and of no regard to God. They sound awfully similar to legalists of today with their ever increasing lists of do's and dont's.

Here, within the context of the scripture, we see that it is what a man says that defiles him, not what he eats or drinks or hears or sees etc. As well, within the context of the scripture, it can be argued that Jesus is specifically saying that teaching false doctrine defiles a man. This would fit perfectly with 1 Corinthians 3 by saying that the false doctrine is the cause of God's wrath in both passages: Matthew 15 the plant will be plucked up, 1 Corinthians 3 him will God destroy. We have a direct parallel and neither talks about what legalist cultists apply the scripture to.

If they can't show it Biblically, why do you believe it? It is written in the Bible that we are to make OUR calling and election sure. Seek knowledge, trust God, read your Bible, pray. God will show you and let you see His word in all it's beauty and majesty.

God Bless you

Monday, June 8, 2009

God is Great

Woot. I just had to post today on how amazing God is. He loves people so much. I don't have a specific scripture I'm posting about, but rather the entire body of God's Word. It's so amazing. He loves us so much that when we disobey, He kills a couple animals (another part of His Creation by the way) to clothe us, and then promises that even though we are wrong, He is going to shed righteous blood to allow us to come back to a place of communion with Him. What a God!

He then spends 4 - 6 Thousand years teaching and revealing things to humanity through His chosen people. (The word "chosen" in that context is a verb not a noun or adjective. It says that they are God's people He chose to reveal Himself to humanity through, not simply the people He chose to bless.)

My grandma Joy said something on Friday that has been seriously in my head all weekend and all day. It's something we all know and accept, but I think we forget about and lose sight of sometimes: 

If we all choose not to serve God and turn our backs on Him, He will still be just as glorious. All Glory is His. 

That is such a simple statement yet it truly defines God. He's amazing. Absolutely wonderful. I love Him so much. He is totally worthy of all honour and glory. In this instance, "worthy" means deserving and complete ownership. His Glory is not dependant on our participation or recognition. We just have the opportunity to witness it and bask in it. 

Anyone with a desire to know God has a promise that if they diligently seek Him, He will reveal Himself to them. That's how amazing His Love and Grace are. Awesome.

God Bless you all

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What? I Can't Live Where?

Hehe, I like that title. As most of the readers know, my wife and I recently left a UPCI assembly in Medicine Hat, AB. We left due to extra-Biblical teachings, standards, and spiritual abuse by the leadership of the congregation. One event that occurred in the latter part of 2008 led to the title of this post, and was the main catalyst that led to my study of the UPCI as a cult.

The term "cult" is generally accepted to define any organization or group of persons that consider themselves the judge of all the other churches on the planet. In such a circumstance, the UPCI fits in every way: They state that if you do not believe precisely what they teach as far as Baptism, Repentance, Salvation, and the Godhead, you are going to Hell. I defy them to state otherwise, at which point I will provide them with the literature from their own Pentecostal Publishing House that proves they teach it. Thus, they are a cult. Oftentimes, they will proudly state "If you define a cult that way, then yep, we're a cult. We're God's church so your definition doesn't bother us." That's fine for the gullible lemmings that feel a need to follow that kind of arrogance, but for the rest of humanity, that should be a major sign that something is wrong within their ranks.

I began this post by mentioning an event that happened in late 2008. My wife and I were considering the purchase of a home in Irvine, Alberta, which is less than 20 minutes from Medicine Hat by paved, divided, well maintained highway. After looking at the price of the home, the price of fuel, vehicle maintenance, the utility cost, and property taxes, the home would have been $6,000/year less than a quite similar home that we looked at in Redcliff, Alberta. That's 500 dollars a month less in bills that we would have had with the minor inconvenience (sarcasm) of living in a quiet small town with a short 20 minute commute to the major shopping area at the East end of Medicine Hat. Where we currently live it is a 17 minute drive to the same area of Medicine Hat. The home had a beautiful lot, a heated attached garage, 2 1/2 baths, 3 bedrooms, and a very spacious kitchen with nice dining room. In spite of all this, I was told by the Pastor's wife (I quote) "That's too far away. Pastor would never let you move out there." That is a direct quote. Word for Word.

At the time, I was a little confused by this, but I said OK, and didn't push the matter. My wife and I were absolutely faithful with our time and substance to this cult and I wasn't ready to cut the ties at that point. As well, I wasn't sure where my wife stood on the issues that were beginning to crop up in the group, so I didn't want to freak her out and cause more stress at home. I did, however, begin studying what the Bible taught about authority in God's Church, and, by extension, the standards that we were expected to uphold. I began to find some very serious differences between what the Bible taught and what we were being force fed. For instance, there is a false doctrine that has taken hold in some UPCI licensed congregations that had come into play in the assembly here in Medicine Hat. I had been taught this false teaching when I was a child in another UPCI congregation and so it was an issue that had to be dealt with. The pastor decided that it would be dealt with among the men only (except HIS wife of course...) and the women would not be informed that this doctrine existed in an attempt to "shelter" them. He told us men we were not to discuss it under any circumstances with anyone other than him (cause the Bible so gives him that authority...yeah right). One of the men in the assembly discussed it with a non-active previous member, and was STOOD UP AND YELLED AT IN A MEN'S MEETING FOR DOING SO!!! He wasn't talked to in private, wasn't questioned about it, was simply blasted with a hand grenade (figuratively) and expected to take it. The obvious assumption here is that the women were too stupid or too spiritually retarded to understand a false doctrine. Except the Pastor's wife of course. Oh, and children. Talk about double standards.

So basically we were expected to accept without question every single thing the pastor or his wife said in any circumstance. We would be told that if we believed false doctrine was being taught then we should bring it to the pastor's attention. But then, when someone did question the teachings or actions of the leadership or, God forbid, simply disobey, they were slandered as rebellious and disobedient to God's authority, when in reality, they were simply ignoring the crap spewed out by self appointed authorities. Then, when these people would leave, the pastor would state OVER THE PULPIT that the "devil" just left the church, and compare them to Judas Iscariot.

None of this is at all Biblical. In fact, it goes directly against the Biblical model of the NT church.

Every group on the planet that lives with these levels of false doctrine and authority are labelled by society as cults. Eg: Moonies, Hale Bopp comet nuts, remember Waco Texas?, etc. The UPCI condemns them for the level of control they exert, then does precisely the same. They tell you where you can and can't live, who you can and can't talk to, where you can and can't work, what you can and can't do for leisure, who you can and can't marry and when, and what you can or can't eat or drink and when (weekly mandated fasting on a specific that's in the Bible or something). They do all this in the name of God, without a single scripture granting any man that authority over God's people. They label the rest of society as lost, confused, deluded, and hell bound. Again without any authority to do so.

God's Church in the NT never had a single, human appointed leader over a group. We read in fact where the Apostles directed churches to appoint elders, in the PLURAL, to guide and direct the faithful. The only time in the NT where there was a single entity over the Church was when Jesus Christ still walked the earth. Even then, we see Him always in the role of a servant, never as a domineering authoritarian, even though He, as God, had the absolute right to do precisely whatever He felt like. Instead, He washed feet, He fed crowds, He built up, He healed people. We do see Him rebuking Peter, but even then He was doing it out of love FOR PETER, not feigned love for the rest of the people or anger. Jesus didn't get angry with a disciple even when Judas Iscariot was going to betray Him. He was sad, but not angry. The only times He got angry was when He blasted the hypocritical Jewish leaders in Matthew 23, and when He kicked the moneychangers out of the Temple. So when a human wannabe leader puts himself in a position of authority over people trying to serve God, he had better not show anger with the people of God or he is not Christ-like. Therefore he is not Christian. 

God does not ask for, need, or authorize any human to single handedly govern any group of the People of God. To do so is to put ones self in the precarious position of usurping the authority of God. Too often, men mistake the call of God to preach the gospel to the world as being a call to rule God's people in a city. Thus we have people frustrated with the leadership, and leadership frustrated with the people. Man was not created to serve man, but to serve and worship God. 

If you are in a church or organization that has a single entity that makes all doctrinal decisions that affect you, then you are NOT in God's Church. The only authority of standard, doctrine, and guidance is the Word of God. Not a man claiming to be the mouth of God. I scoff at any man that stands up and uses Moses as the basis for a statement that God talks to him face to face. You are not Moses. God hasn't called you to write the Ten Commandments or lead the People of God to the Promised Land. Don't be foolish. Get off your high horse and allow God to govern His people...He is far more qualified than you can even pretend to be.

God Bless all His people

Friday, June 5, 2009

John 1:1 - The Modalist Misconception

Well, It's been a couple days since I posted and I apologize. I've been studying John 1:1 because it's one of the scriptures quoted most often by Modalists/Jesus-only believers. I want you to note that I use the word "believers" there. This is important because I DO consider a person that is Modalist/Oneness Pentecostal to be a believer. They believe in God as Father in creation, the Son in redemption, and the Holy Ghost indwelling the believer. In that regard they are no different than every other Christian sect. Due to that, I believe that, Biblically, they are going to heaven. My issue comes with their definition of God, and the propagation of a non-Biblical doctrine by the adherents. The saint in this situation has far less to be worried about than the leadership, and they are the ones that I consider worth reaching for. The leadership generally have more to lose by changing their beliefs, as well as they are not likely to admit that they were spreading a false teaching/doctrine.

A great deal has been written about John chapter 1, both by Modalist apologists, and Trinitarian writers. John was the Apostle that Jesus loved the most, and the one that showed the highest level of understanding of Jesus' divine nature in contrast to the human nature that would allow Jesus to be the propitiation for our sins. The two natures existed simultaneously in the form of Jesus, and are absolutely integral to our salvation. The fact that John loved Jesus so much is seen by his rendition of the scene at Golgotha. It is by far the most heart wrenching material in any literature known to man. With this unique level of love and understanding, John begins his account of the gospel by stating an incredibly profound statement that spans 3 verses and in the original Greek is one sentence.

"In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; this one was in the beginning with God; all things through Him did happen, and without him happened not even one thing that hath happened." John 1:1-3

It is important to understand that the Bible was not written with chapters and verses. Those were added by translators later, and they are used to show distinctions between clauses. When we exegite a passage of scripture, we must consider the entire sentence as written in the original language. As well, we must review the context of the scripture and the audience that it is intended for. In the case of the Gospel of John, the intended audience is the Jews of the day. Paul was sent to the gentiles, but scripture shows that John was not involved with that except for an excursion with Peter to investigate the claims of an outpouring in Samaria (

With this in mind, let's look at that first sentence of John chapter 1. It starts with a reference to a passage of the Septuagint that every Jew would have been absolutely familiar with: Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God..." By rendering the beginning of his Gospel thus, he is telling the Jews of the day that what he is about to say is in comparison to what they hold as the absolute beginning of all time. This would be an arresting statement to make, and would guarantee the rapt attention of the reader. He continues by stating that "the Word was with God". What is so incredibly important here is that in the Old Testament (OT) Hebrew, the "Word" is portrayed as a personality attribute of God, not as a separate entity. In contrast to this, John identifies the Word as being a person by preceding both with the article. Then, he uses a word that has an absolute application of being separate from: the word we translate as "with" in John 1:1 is almost properly translated as "toward", which signifies a personal, intimate relationship. That precludes the belief that the Word could be simply a part of God or a thought in His mind. We know, from further in the chapter, that the Word became flesh, and that this refers to Jesus Christ. Modalists contend that Jesus is almighty God in entirety, and that He, Jesus, manifest Himself as the creator. This has obvious logical problems in that Jesus couldn't be a thought in His own mind. The Word is given it's own personal reference and is given attributes throughout the passage beginning John's Gospel. Thus it must be a separate entity from the God that John refers to. Bearing in mind that John is speaking to the Jews, we can understand that John was speaking of "God", he was referring to the person that the Israelites knew as YHVH. He states that the Word had a personal, intimate relationship with YHVH (FYI, Jehovah is an improper pronunciation. The actual letters sound phonetically like YudHeyVavHey To have a personal relationship toward something, you must be separate from that something. Otherwise you're simply freakin nuts (very scientific term :D).

Next he states that "the Word was God". Now we reach a complete breakdown in the similarity between NT and OT beliefs. The Israelites worshipped and believed in God as an absolute single entity. They had the concept of plural singularity in their language, yet didn't worship in that context. So we have a statement that specifically defines a duality in relationship, yet refers to the OT Israelite belief of One Singular Complete God.

Next it states "This One was in the beginning with God"...again we have the duality of relationship. It's been stated twice for a reason.

"All things through Him did happen" seems pretty clear...we have an imperative involvement of this second "thing" in the duality of relationship. So we must absolutely have 2 "things" involved here. It seems real easy to see based on the Greek.

Finally, not one thing happened that did not happen without Him. So this second "thing" has now been proved to be both separate and involved.

Keeping all this in mind, how can anyone possibly defend a Modalist viewpoint? But wait, there's another issue: the whole point of Eternity is that it is without time as we know it. God exists outside of time. Since God cannot change, and God exists outside of time, and transition takes time, then how can God change from one mode to another? He simply cannot change between 3 different modes because it is impossible. So, there absolutely has to be a plurality of persons that contain, embody, and exist within the very nature of a single Spirit. That is God.

God Bless you

Monday, June 1, 2009

One God, Three Persons?

I titled this as a question as a way of expressing the Oneness, Jesus-only mentality of the UPCI and other organisations that share the same modalist viewpoint. There is a complete air of disbelief that comes over them when you mention the word "Trinity" and they are most likely going to challenge you with the scriptures they claim prove that the concept of a Triune God is Biblically impossible. The fact that I was raised in the UPCI and taught the modalist viewpoint from birth has allowed me to understand it completely. The scriptures most commonly used to support the Oneness position are: Genesis 1:1, 26; Deuteronomy 6:4; Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 28:19 in combination with Acts 2:38; and John 1:1. I am going to examine the actual statements in these scriptures, and show that they do not, in fact, deny the concept of three persons in One God. Quite the contrary, they all infer, and even state, a distinct plurality. The concept of singular plurality DOES exist in the Hebrew language, and the scriptures show that the original Hebrew supports the belief that a plurality in the Godhead existed in the OT, and even before the Creation itself. The Oneness belief is based on plays on words that only exist in the English language. These do not occur in the original language.

We begin with Genesis 1:1 as the beginning seems like the logical place to search for clues. Genesis 1:1 in the KJV is rendered: "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth."
In Young's Literal: "In the beginning of God's preparing the heavens and the earth" (It is important grammatically to note that the "s" in "God's" is to denote possessive action not the plural "Gods"). The word translated "God" in the KJV rendering and "God's" in the YLT is from the Hebrew word "Elohim". Elohim is the plural form of the word "Eloah". Modalists attack this verse by stating that the KJV says "God" in the singular form. The problem with this statement is that they then accept Ezekiel 20:3 in the KJV which states "Thou shalt have no other gods before me.." where the word "gods" is translated from the exact same Hebrew word "Elohim" to mean a plurality OR a singularity. Specifically, they accept it to refer to anything or things that any person or group of persons might worship other than the One True God. Makes you wonder how modalists or Oneness churches can use a scripture to justify a belief when they must accept that it contains a word that denies what they state.

Genesis 1:26 in the KJV: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea.." in YLT: And God saith, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule...' ". We see in the KJV that God refers to Himself in the plural. We know that He wasn't referring to the angels, because if we were in the image of angels we would have wings (SWEET!!! :D). As well, the Bible says we are created a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5). It is clear from the text that the Psalmist is referring to man as a whole, not the Messiah, as Man was given dominion over the earth in the beginning...not as a messianic prophecy. Therefore, God was referring to someone other than the angels, and, unless you theorize there is another group as yet unrevealed to us, He must have been speaking to Himself in the plural. I have heard the very shallow argument that God was speaking in the "plurality of majesties" the same as many earthly monarchs do. The problem with this is that the concept of a "plurality of majesties" can not be shown to exist in any language or culture before the monarchies of what we now call Europe. It certainly cannot be shown to exist in Hebrew culture and language (Robert Morey, The Trinity: Evidence and Issues, (Grand Rapids: Word Publishing, 1996), p. 528) .

Deuteronomy 6:4 in the KJV: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:" in the YLT: "Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God [is] one Jehovah". There is quite a difference here in the translations. The KJV is stating that the Lord of Israel is one Lord. The YLT is stating that Jehovah the God of Israel is one Jehovah. The word Jehovah in the Hebrew is YHVH and refers to the nature of God. Even modalists believe this and I will prove it: modalists and/or Oneness Pentecostals state that Jesus was the name of God finally revealed in the NT when He came to earth to purchase our Salvation. Anything God was called before that was a description of His nature, and not His actual complete name. Therefore, in the YLT (proven to be more accurate than the KJV as far as translation), we see that the NATURE of God is ONE NATURE. In the original manuscripts you will find the Tetragrammaton, which denies the word play of the Oneness movement. This concept does not deny the possibility of a plurality in One God. The use of Deuteronomy 6:4 by the UPCI and others to deny the Trinity doesn't hold up to their own definitions or the meaning of the original Hebrew. The other thing I have heard them ask is: "Why didn't the Hebrews worship God in plurality?". The answer is pretty simple: The Hebrews didn't have the scriptures we now have by consequence of the NT. As well, (I am NOT racist against Jews; I believe them to be the chosen people of God according to the Old Covenant...please do not take my next statement in that context. As well, I understand that most Jews disagree with my belief in Jesus Christ being the Messiah) the Hebrews didn't follow the Messiah as they should have as He was the fulfillment of the prophecies they had been given. Yet the UPCI argue that they had a complete understanding of God? The UPCI position is untenable in this regard.

Isaiah 9:6 KJV: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." YLT: "For a Child hath been born to us, A Son hath been given to us, And the princely power is on his shoulder, And He doth call his name Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace." Once again, Young's Literal comes through with a completely different perspective than the KJV. The KJV says the Child's name shall be called, but Young's says "He (God) doth call his name...". This obviously requires two separate entities in the scripture. One is the Son, the other is God. Now, we all agree (Trinitarians and Modalists alike) that Jesus IS God. Therefore, we have to accept that something ELSE is God as well to be calling the Son the "Mighty God". The major point that Oneness Pentecostals use is that the Son is called the Everlasting Father in the KJV. This again is a play on words in the English. Young's makes it very clear that the Son would be called the Father of Eternity. The word translated as Father in this verse is the Hebrew word "Ab". This word does not expressly mean "Father in Creation", but can mean father, principal (as in foremost), or even chief. So according to the proper translation of the verse, Jesus is the Father of Eternity in that He bought Salvation for the world. This doesn't deny His role and participation in the Creation, but it removes the UPCI wordplay used to deny the beautiful, majestic, completeness of the Triune God. (On a side note, if baptism is ONLY to be done in the name of the Son of God, then why doesn't the UPCI baptize in the name "Wonderful", or even "Counsellor"? Silly perhaps, but no sillier than their absolute requirement to "Jesus" name only.)

Mathew 28:19 KJV: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" YLT: "having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit," Acts 2:38 KJV "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." YLT: "and Peter said unto them, `Reform, and be baptized each of you on the name of Jesus Christ, to remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,". There are several glaring discrepancies between the scripture and what the UPCI teaches. First, we have the fact that in greek and hebrew, there is no distinction between a name and a title. This distinction doesn't technically exist in english either, but we accept it as a fact of life. An example is someone named Mister Dave Jones. If he gets a PhD he becomes Doctor Dave Jones. Those are names, yet we accept that Mister and Doctor are titles. In greek though (the language of the NT), the UPCI play doesn't work; they say that in Matthew 28:19 we read titles referring to God, and that the "name" of those titles is revealed in Acts 2:38 by Peter. However, we come back the fact that a title IS a name. Now, they will ask: "Why does it state "in the name (singular please note) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? It says "name" singular! Therefore it can only be one name!!!" The word translated to "name" is the greek word "onomah". It can be interpreted to mean authority, CHARACTER, or even a surname. So, according to the wording of the greek, we can read Matthew 28:19 to mean that baptism is to be done "in the authority of", or, in contrast, "to the character of". Therefore, to state that Acts 2:38 says that Matthew 28:19 describes a modalist understanding of God is to ignore the original greek, and base everything on an english translation. Matthew 28:19 can be equally understood to mean that the disciples were to baptize people into the character of God as it can be understood to mean that they were to baptize people using a formal, rigid adherence to a strict formula.

John 1:1 KJV: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." YLT: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;". Well, identical translations remove the burden of trying to show that there is a play on words. Very refreshing. However, the UPCI still uses this verse to show that the Word (Jesus) was God. Period. Their explanation of this scripture is that the Word existed in the mind of God, and came to fruition when Jesus came to earth. Where they go wrong is that the word translated to "with" is the greek word "pros" which translates as "in opposition to". So the verse is better translated using the understanding of the word with in it's form of "face to face" rather than the abstract sense. The word is to be understood literally rather than as an abstract as you cannot be face to face with an abstract, idea, or concept. So now we have two separate entities present at the same time. "The preposition [pros], as distinct from [en], [para], and [sun], is of the greatest importance . . . . The idea is that of presence and communion with a strong note of reciprocity. The Logos, then, is not an attribute inhering in God, or a power emanating from him, but a person in the presence of God and turned in loving, inseparable communion toward God and God turned equally toward him." (R. C. H. Lenski, St. John’s Gospel, (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1943) pp. 32-33).

This has been just a brief examination of the main scriptures used to support the Oneness or Modalist viewpoint. I intend to do some studies of the scriptures used to show the Trinity view. I hope this has helped your understanding. As well, there is a wealth of info available on the internet that deal with this. A Google search will help you get started.

God Bless you