So why did I start this website?? Part 1
It’s been a busy year writing comments on a number of topics, mostly to do with the heresies of calvinism, although I cover many other topics in other ways. For example, in our home church we completed our studies in Hebrews, then looked at Revelation Ch.4 – 22 in detail, and are presently studying the first 11 chapters of Genesis. (Most of these have been posted on our website although some may be a few weeks late arriving online.)
I have posted 26 comments so far during 2018, an average of 1 per fortnight, not necessarily evenly spread, though. Posts generally get written when I notice something not quite right with doctrinal issues in whatever we are involved with at the time. In fact, this website commenced because of a need to expose some of the doctrinal heresies being used to control good Christian people in our local allegedly biblical, fundamentalist churches. Our area (on the edge of a state capital city of Australia) has a large immigrant population, and a wide range of beliefs, many of which are not remotely Christian. And many who claim to be Christian fail to believe what the Bible teaches.
When we moved to this area over 20 years ago, even then there were only a few local churches that had beliefs we felt comfortable with. Before this we had spent many years in an independent Baptist church in a small rural town, and had considered its doctrine to be good, and although not perfect, it was very good. It was a conservative church, with preaching expected to be from the Bible alone (fundamentalist, not calvinist), and the music reasonably free from rock music influences (we didn’t have the ubiquitous rock band out the front, and we avoided Hillsong-type hype music like the plague).
When we moved to the city we found a limited number of churches that matched what we were used to. And, as some of these added loud rock bands with earth-shaking drums, that number of acceptable options decreased. I could never see how such music could honour the creator God of the universe – it all seemed so disrespectful. And, rock music’s origins were very anti-God into the bargain. The old (and much-loved) hymns were being replaced by Hillsong rock, and the organs and pianos turned into drums and amplified guitars.
Note that I do play the guitar (both 6 and 12 string acoustic, non-amplified) and I don’t mind a bit of beat in music. But the off-beat of rock music (like people clapping on the off-beats in some songs) was off-putting indeed. I had been church organist for many years at our rural church and felt that rock bands had done away with so much good music. (I had also been secretary of this church which, more often than not, hadn’t had a pastor, so in many ways I had been doing much of the day-to-day running of this church, including a lot of preaching when needed.)
So when we arrived at our present location, we commenced at one church, only to leave after a year when the rock music became too pronounced (that is, painfully loud; it hurt my ears!). We went to a second fundamentalist church (Living Springs which my sons attended) only to find them creeping inexorably toward the rock band model as well. We then went to the local Presbyterians who, at this stage, were actually evangelical, with a pastor who genuinely believed in the free will of man to choose his salvation. (In fact, too evangelical, it seems, because they then replaced him with one who better-supported their calvinist origins.) At that time the Presbyterian church in Australia was going through a renewing of its Westminster catechism foundations, and is now back firmly in the clutches of calvinism. When they asked us (after being absent on a 6 month outback trip) if we could give any reason why they shouldn’t remove us from their membership roll, we agreed to resign. (In the Presbyterian church, you are not permitted to be a good Christian if you happen to not go near your local Presbyterian church for 6 months, because that somehow proves you are no longer a good puritan. It matters little that you are just not in the area for that 6 months!)
So, on the recommendation of a pastor-friend, off we went to yet another allegedly biblical fundamentalist church, Open Door. (The list of possible options in our area was growing rather thin by now!) For a little while we were reasonably happy and satisfied there. The music was not loud, not rock, and the old hymns were appreciated. The preaching appeared to be reasonably on the ball, although occasionally a bit vague. However, after a year or two, this vagueness soon clarified itself into calvinism rumbling just below the surface. The previous pastor (who had stayed on until a replacement was found) finally admitted that he believed MacArthur’s brand of calvinist heresy to be really quite scriptural (according to him, anyway). I asked him what was the point of the Great Commission then – to preach the gospel to all nations. His answer was simply that Christians did that because that’s what Christians were commanded to do. (It was the typical calvinist statement on this passage, because, to the calvinist, there is no point to preaching the gospel to anyone unless they have already been regenerated (born again) by the Holy Spirit. Their only justification for it is that God commands them to do so.)
We stayed there for a bit longer, however, because the calvinism wasn’t obvious, and at this point in time we hadn’t seen the full picture of what calvinism really represented. At that time, calvinism was, to us, an awkward doctrine that had some incorrect beliefs about evangelism. However, we were still prepared to declare calvinists fellow-Christians even though we could not believe in it ourselves.
Then I was told that the church where two of my sons still attended (Living Springs) was looking for a pastor, and had advertised for one, in fact. So I applied, having done my apprenticeship in running a church in a country town for many years, including much preaching and pastoral care work. One of the deacons at Living Springs then invited me to preach, after which I was told they’d get back to me. But, eight months went by without any getting back to me, so I contacted them again. This appeared to stir up some immediate action: (a) Living Springs started making their building available to a near-by calvinist church (GraceWest), apparently through contact with the deacon, and (b) I was offered some preaching, firstly being asked to name as many days as I wished, an offer that was quickly downgraded to: Here’s four Sundays in the next few months that we haven’t managed to fill yet; take your pick. (I picked all four!)
I was also told that I was applying for a part-time position, and therefore it would be unworkable. Yet, this same deacon who had said this then put his own name down for the pastor position just a month later. I did my four services and then was told that they’d selected that church deacon as pastor. (And, yes, it was still a part-time position, apparently only unworkable if someone other than the current pastor were appointed!)
By this time it was ultra-clear that the local calvinist church (GraceWest) was getting quite involved with Living Springs, including regular use of their property for meetings and services, and providing pastoral messages on some Sunday mornings. So, with Living Springs doctrinally unacceptable now, and because the options for local Bible-believing churches were fast disappearing, I started up our home church. We were small then, and are still small, yet we have managed to learn Bible truths more effectively now we aren’t encumbered with doctrinal hindrances from established church dogmas. I also started to look more seriously at calvinism, because it was clear that calvinism had been able to infiltrate Living Springs so effectively that not long after this, the Living Springs website declared GraceWest to be a like-minded sister church. Therefore, if GraceWest is MacArthur calvinist (which it is, having an almost identical doctrinal statement to MacArthur’s church), then Living Springs, being like-minded, must also be a calvinist church (after the doctrines of MacArthur) now. (Of course, they denied this, but then, why are they like-minded sister churches?)
Since then we have had communications with one of Living Springs’ members who has become so full-on with calvinism that he has now spouted forth MacArthur heretical teachings in an effort to try to convert us. We have also been told (by Living Springs officialdom) not to have any contact with Living Springs members; all communications must be made to the pastor alone (who then, to my knowledge, has never answered any of the enquiries made). It is indeed a strange situation, where a church (Living Springs) that allegedly disapproves of hyper-calvinism should be so much in agreement with the MacArthur calvinism of GraceWest.
And what of the last church we left? We left Open Door (in September 2013) initially to commence our home church. At that stage we had intended returning once we had sorted out things through our home church. We had enjoyed attending their services. However, a few months after we left, their newly-appointed pastor came to visit us, apparently with one aim in mind: to pressure us to send our son back to Living Springs (which he had left to attend our home church). The pastor offered to be mediator between my son and the Living Springs pastor so that my son could return without prejudice. When I said that Living Springs had loud rock music, he said that was unfortunate but nevertheless my son should return. (This, of course, was from the Open Door pastor who just 2 months earlier had informed me that he was doing a series of studies on the problems of rock music!) It was clear that we would not come to a satisfactory agreement on this issue.
Then, after some more disagreements, he then accused me of having the imaginations of an over-sensitive nature. (I wonder if that is legalese for “You’re mad!”) I said that perhaps it would solve all our problems if we resigned from membership of Open Door. (He did not appear to be happy about this.) After we finished our “discussion”, he left. Just over a week later we sent in our resignation email. No response was ever received to this. We have never returned.
Then in 2016 I was informed that Open Door was doing studies by Paul Tripp, a neo or new calvinist who is heavily involved with Biblical Counselling, an active arm of the new calvinist movement (with its foundations largely at Westminster Theological Seminary in USA). After making enquiries I was told (14/05/16) that “Pastor took material on recommendation of another church pastor” and “Pastor is trying to repair damage in Sunday School by going over the material again but no admission of why as yet.” I then questioned why a pastor would want to go over this material again; why not just throw this heretical material in the bin where it belongs? However, I backed off at this point in time, willing to give maybe some benefit of doubt. But, earlier this year I noticed that Open Door now had Biblical Counselling advertised on their website. If the counsellor is affiliated with Biblical Counselling Australia, then he or she would probably have done their training through CCEF (closely affiliated with Westminster Seminary USA), or one of the Presbyterian theological colleges in Australia, or through a person allegedly qualified to train such counsellors (such as the current calvinist pastor at GraceWest might indeed be, having allegedly done Master of Arts studies in Biblical Counselling through The Masters College in Los Angeles). All these options have calvinist or reform doctrines. Therefore, if the counsellor at Open Door is registered with Biblical Counselling Australia, then he has probably studied new calvinist doctrine such as that which Paul Tripp adheres to. Of course, there might be an alternative, even innocent, explanation for all of this, but if the Biblical Counselling is registered with Biblical Counselling Australia, then it could look like the alleged Tripp studies in 2016 might be connected here.
So, how many churches in our area are untainted by happy-clappy dancing, and/or unbelievably loud rock music, or the calvinist threat to many of our biblical fundamentalist churches? The answer is that very few even moderately acceptable churches now remain within out local area (encompassing a population of maybe ½ million). No wonder home churches are popping up all around the world, in an effort to escape the doctrinal pollution being taught by so many churches today, claiming to be Christian, while preaching another gospel. And even if your church claims to be non-calvinist, does it have Biblical Counselling available? If so, then it is likely to be affiliated with Biblical Counselling Australia which is a very active tool for the spread of new calvinism. Even biblical churches can be deceived by the insidious heresy of calvinism, accepting it at face value. If only they had tested (proved) all things according to the scriptural admonition!
So now I run a small home church, and I constantly research what appears to be the biggest danger facing our fundamentalist biblical churches in our part of the world today (other than loud rock music). Calvinism has the appearance of being ultra-Christian on the surface and many good Christian people including church leaders are being hoodwinked by its devious claims of sola scriptura (the Bible alone), when they actually rely more upon calvinist authors for doctrine than they do the Bible. I believe God has let me see the danger of this heresy labelled calvinism, reform belief etc. This website is now my means of warning those Christians who genuinely seek the truth of the Bible, warning them of the danger of accepting at face value the teachings of any person just because they say they are biblical (and use biblical-sounding terminology). This is clearly happening to churches around the world. And the worst thing about it all is that most people who are deceived never actually see what is happening to them until it is too late. So often calvinists enter your church by stealth, pretending to be good biblical Christians, only revealing their real agenda after they have built a good support base in that church. They pretend to be ultra-fundamentalist biblical Christians, they use all the right terminology, yet most of their doctrine is not Bible-based, but instead defined by Calvin and other writers. Once they have revealed their calvinist standing, they quote their calvinist authors and teachers as if they are infallible, and when anyone disputes their views, they fall back upon the teachings of such as MacArthur who is far from being scripturally correct.
They will often come into the Bible-believing church, appearing as mature Christians who are willing and able to take up leadership roles in the church, such as deacon, elder, study-group leader, prayer-group leader, or even pastor. They avoid declaring their support for the more extreme doctrines of calvinism, preferring to appear moderate in their beliefs. They often seek out immature Christians, offering to mentor them toward a higher view of God’s sovereignty, a more biblical view of doctrines, in fact, offering to lead young Christians to be better Christians. All this is attractive to those young Christians who genuinely desire to be better Christians, to be better used in service for God. Calvinism appears to offer all this, yet deceives instead. I have personally witnessed such a change in one of the local Christians who probably desired to be a better Christian yet is now brainwashed with all the doctrines of MacArthur. And the worst thing is that he just cannot see that his calvinist beliefs do not make biblical sense at all.
Calvinists do not make many converts through their calvinist teachings. Their doctrines don’t make Christians; instead they make good puritans (who are not necessarily Christian, just doers of pure or good works). Most calvinists who are also genuine Christians became Christians before they were converted to calvinism. If you belong to a Bible-believing fundamentalist non-calvinist church, watch, be vigilant, for this attack is being carried out on churches like yours in many places already.