Reformed�or Reforming by 7prtol


K. B. Napier
  Petra eBooks

      Patchwork Quilt Theology
                       K. B. Napier

                       ebook Ref. No. eb/003
                       2005    K. B. Napier
      Petra eBooks, BTM, PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH UK

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Contents                                         Page
Author‟s Note                                    4
Preamble                                         5
Introduction                                     7
Chapter 1:
Munster, Westphalia, 1534-1535                   13
Chapter 2:
The Augsburg confession                          20
Chapter 3:
Interpretation of Scripture                      21
Chapter 4:
Are Prayer Meetings Valid?                       30
Chapter 5:
Worship                                          61
Chapter 6:
Who is Reverend?                                 64
Chapter 7:
Church Membership                                74
Chapter 8:
Denominations                                    80
Chapter 9:
Godly Counselling is not Man-Centred             84
Chapter 10:
An Anomaly – Calvinistic Arminians               96
Chapter 11
Some Final Words                                 105

Appendix 1:
„The Power of Prayer Meetings‟
(A critique of Dr Peter Masters‟ thinking)       105
Appendix 2:
Free-Will and the Arminian Heresy                121

Note: You will find several repetitions in headings and subjects, because the book
is based on a variety of Articles published by K. B. Napier over the past 20 years.
However, the book expands on the original material.

                            Author‟s Note
       Was the Reformation a singular display of God‟s intervention,
a move designed to thwart the activities of the pseudo-religion,
Roman Catholicism? Is it just an icon to former glories, an historical
note that fades with every passing age, because it no longer has any
relevance for us today? Or, was it only the beginning, a birth and not
an end in itself?
       This book claims that the Reformation was only the start, and
that God intended it to be a prompt to indolent nations, a reminder
that great things come from God, but that men must be ready to
seize the moment, just like Luther and Calvin. All Christians must go
forward, at all times, in all ages. The Reformation began what was
meant to be continued with ever-increasing vivacity…but modern
men yawn and lay on their spiritual beds.
       It is now time to wake up! Rome, with its cohorts,
charismaticism and ecumenism, is poised to finally take on its
Satanic role as mistress of the world. Those who call themselves
Reformed but who do not bother to act it out in their own day, play a
game that will help Rome to achieve its goals.
       Reformed men and women – is this what you truly wish to
happen? If it is not, then please take this book seriously, for it is sent
to you with a clarion call from the watchmen of the city of God‟s
       Since the 1950‟s I have observed the way Christians sew
together theological patchwork quilts. Like magpies, they swoop on
any theological „patch‟ that is colourful and bright and take it back to
their minds, uncritically sewing them to each other, whether or not
they match or are of the same quality. It is not uncharitable to say
that many are unable to do joined-up thinking in their Bible exploits,
yet have the audacity to call what they sew together „theology‟.
       This book contains a number of examples of the „patches‟
sewn together to make reformed „theology‟. Argue as some will, they
cannot justify the patchwork beliefs they hold!

Barry Napier
July 2005


               “So was ended all the work that
               king Solomon made for the house
               of the LORD. And Solomon
               brought in the things which David
               his father had dedicated; (even)
               the silver, and the gold, and the
               vessels, did he put among the
               treasures of the house of the
               LORD.” (1 Kings 7:51).

      Solomon built upon the work of his father, who dedicated what
he had to God. It is right and proper to build upon and to use the
foundations already prepared. The problem we have today is that,
generally, Reformed men are no longer reforming, but rely solely on
the works of a former age. Thus the stewards of the faith who have
been given an earnest by God are not using it to accrue greater
rewards. The only way we can accrue rewards fit to join those of the
Reformers, is to continue their work and expand upon it. This book is
about such expansion and increase in blessings.

              “(which stood only in meats and
              drinks, and divers washings, and
              carnal ordinances, imposed (on
              them) until the time of reformation.”
              (Hebrews 9:10)

        The „time of reformation‟, diorthosis, is when institutions and
actions are corrected and straightened, restored to what they ought
to be. It is implied that they have somehow become „out of line‟ or
even twisted. The term is a derivative of orthos, meaning upright or
not crooked.
        Thus, the churches have to put up with all kinds of useless
traditions as a burden until they are put back to what they ought to
be. Is this what happens in many modern churches? No, they
continue crookedly, content in their „divers washings‟, imposed by
their own rules and expectations.
        In the text, people had to do their divers washings as a type of
what was to come. Once the time came for change, the washings
were to cease. So, why carry on with them, as Peter tried to do with
circumcision before being firmly rebuked by Paul? Why insist on the
jot and tittle of Reformation-age imperfections, when we now have a
far better view of God and His word?
        The Reformers only pointed the way, so why have we become
entrenched in the ruts made by their activities? Should we not be
forging ahead, continuing their vital work?

        God sent all kinds of evil upon His children in order that they
should be reformed by Him. If, after being chastened, they refused to
listen to rebuke and instruction, then He warned that He would visit
them again with even worse evils.
        Today, we witness the most vile of spiritual evils, the Toronto
Blessing (and all its unbiblical, charismatic children, with a myriad of
different names). As a result of not facing and fighting it, and by
allowing it to proliferate, Reformed men are being punished. Instead
of reforming their ways and putting their house in order, they hide
and pretend that the evil movement was „just a phase‟. (There are, of
course, commendable exceptions, and there are those who speak
only in private). As a result the vast but once-temporary movement
has become a part of almost all churches, and has settled into a way
of life we call „charismaticism‟.
        (Of course, as one who believes in predestination and
election, I see this as a predetermination by God, a judgement upon
the churches as a whole, for remaining in their traditions and
wrongness. As such, the reformed men I speak of cannot respond
properly, being „locked-in‟ by God‟s will.
        What we are seeing then, is not a reformed church that is
being circumspect, but one that is reaping the anger of God for its
laxity and inability to discern the truth, when charismaticism is so
obviously sinful, and its corrupt „gospel‟ worthy only of condemnation;
see Galatians chapter one).
        Also as a result, the allied Alpha Course became an immense
success, declaring a new (Arminian) gospel, and making it, also, an
anathema according to Galatians chapter one. For these lapses of
purity and obedience, Reformed churches will reap the sins of the
things they allowed to live, and will know direct punishment from
        Do not think that this will necessarily be obvious - for the
worse evil that can be visited upon men is the quiet removal of God‟s
presence from the churches. Thus, whilst they grow numerically or
experience immense activity, they are rotting and dead and far from
God. Beware, for this includes those Reformed churches that pat
each other on the back!

       Happily, a growing number of Christians around this small
globe of ours is willing to check what they believe against scripture,
and those who do so are excited, because what they come to see
(what I came to see after false starts) is the Lord in all His glory, and
not the meagre copy invented by men – men like myself until some
decades ago.
       My thesis is very simple. It is that what we call „Reformed‟,
though well-intended, has been fossilised and made dead by those
who have no room for the Holy Spirit or the freedom in Christ that
they preach about. We need to be reforming constantly to be in
tandem with the New Testament. In this book I hope to show readers
what I have concluded and why, the whole reasoning taken from

scripture and not from the works of men. Read it and see if the
conclusions are right!
        The book elaborates on a selection of things that should not
really be in our churches, those that call themselves Reformed. They
are not just minor points of difference, but major problems that stand
in the way of spiritual progress and doctrinal surety.
        We all tend to read books through the eyes of preconception. I
invite you, the Reformed reader, to suspend your preconceptions for
a while and to take a fresh perspective on the contents. Reformed
churches have been fossilised for some time – why not break out
from their reformationism and re-enter the far more exciting world of
Christians who are continually reforming? You never know – you
might even enjoy it!
Barry Napier
Bible Theology Ministries

        The Reformation was a wondrous period and its men were
sinners like us, yet were models of courage and conviction. Oh to
see such men today, with the same kind of backbone and steel
        Though a time of immense import, the emphasis on the
Reformation and the Reformers by modern men has not been fully-
orbed, but wrapped in the smoothed-out and unwrinkled vision of our
own perceptions. For example, we forget that the Reformers were
Roman Catholics with varying degrees of loyalty to their popes.
Luther told readers “I too was a monk, and one of the right frantic and
raving papists…so besotted in papal doctrine that, out of my greatest
zeal, I would have been ready to do murder…” („Dr Martin Luther to
the Christian Reader‟, 1545).
        Though their loyalty to Rome faltered and sometimes eroded
to nothing, they nevertheless retained many Romanistic devices,
practices and ideas. This does not detract from their work – it is
merely a reminder that the very best of our spiritual fathers were just
like us, capable of soaring glories as well as failure. Indeed, they
were no different from Paul, who openly admitted to his sinful failures
as well as his successes. Any Reformed man of today worth his salt
will admit to the same things!
        In the light of their struggles (and, in this text, without going
into their human sins and errors), we should understand this, for their
major attack (though it was not meant as an attack) was to produce
the seeds of an exposition of predestination (and other tough truths) -
the spiritual bomb that almost completely destroyed the power of
Roman humanism in Britain and Europe, including the heresy of
Arminianism that arose after Calvin.

         Most, at least initially, see the Reformation as a kind of reward
from God for being faithful, but this is, really, a wrong notion, for what
we had was a Roman „church‟ bereft of Biblical truth, or so twisted as
to be useless. The Holy Spirit spoke to men such as Luther and
Calvin and caused them to rethink their Catholic teachings to the
extent that they came away from that false organisation in heart,
even if, at times, they were „rough at the edges‟.
         The Reformers were responding to God‟s warning to repent.
This is really what „reformation‟ is in Biblical terms…an activity that
recognises one‟s grave error and the consequences of repeating
them. In fact, this is really what proper „revival‟ is.
         As such, this activity is not to be regarded as praiseworthy in
itself, for we are told in scripture that we should not expect praise for
things we should be doing anyway! No, the respect we have for the
Reformers is based on their repentance and onward thinking that led
to the Protestant movement. (There were „protestants‟ throughout
history, as there must have been, for God would not have left His
world without a true witness. Men like Luther, commanded by the
Holy Spirit to do so, merely brought the matter to fruition).
         Despite the often mystical reverence given to the Reformers,
and an acknowledgement that what they did changed the world,
Protestants today continue to live out spiritual lives that are misled,
by an insistence on remaining „reformed‟ instead of being continually
reforming. In this, many of today‟s Reformed men are very much
smaller versions of their brave and outstanding early
counterparts…few of them would ever stand up and point the finger,
or publicly oppose what is wrong.
         Some pretend to have knowledge they do not have, thinking
themselves to be „something‟ amongst their peers. Luther gave short-
shrift to these “self-grown doctors” who “in truth are nothing, do
nothing and accomplish nothing, are moreover untried and
inexperienced, and yet, after a single look at the scriptures, think
themselves able wholly to exhaust its spirit.” („To the Christian
Reader‟). Please note that I am not referring to academic knowledge,
but the knowledge given only by God that makes a pauper a prince,
a dunce into a professor of God!
         To insist on being „reformed‟ is to be frozen into a particular
ethos of a particular time period, with all its flaws and part-born ideas.
It is to be at the preliminary stage of only just seeing God‟s warnings
about our spiritual deficits and bad practices…and then to stay at that
stage, repentant but stationary, nowhere near the „cutting edge‟ of
the age we live in.

      In the Hebrew, a word is used to describe a requirement of
God that is given by God to His errant people. The word is yacar,
meaning „reformed‟.

              “And if ye will not be reformed by me by
              these things,
              but will walk contrary to me;

              Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and
              will punish you yet seven times for your sins.”
              (Leviticus 26:23, 24)

        It is clear that the „reformed‟ state in this text is active and
continuous, and is given life by God Himself. Indeed, the history of
the Hebrews is one of continual calls to be reformed, because they
reformed once, twice, and more, then went back to their old ways.
Interestingly, this call to reformation was particularly aimed at the
priests*, who would, in turn, influence the people. (*Leviticus is
known to Jews as the Torat Kohanim or „the priests‟ manual‟).
        As a result, God had to call them back each time or be
punished. The „things‟ that led to being reformed are mentioned in
detail, and something else that is clear is that reformation follows on
from dire circumstances. Reformation, then, is a reaction, not a pro-
active process or a planned one.
        (This makes the fashion of praying for reformation very odd. In
essence it is asking God for judgement upon the churches, but
confusing this with some kind of revival. If reformation is a judgement
from God for disobedience, would it not be far better to pray for
spiritual purity and then to act it out, thus avoiding the dire
consequences that follow God‟s call to reform? This alone will bring
benefits untold!).
        The Hebrew yacar means to chasten or discipline. It is a
dynamic word involving the principle of allowing oneself to be
instructed or rebuked about something. So, why was God so
adamant? What caused Him to demand reformation? The context
        If we go back to verse 55 of chapter 25, we read:

              “For unto me the children of Israel (are)
              servants; they (are) my servants whom I
              brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I (am)
              the LORD your God.”

        All Reformed Christians claim this to be true of themselves –
all Believers are bought with the blood of the Lamb, symbolised by
the lamb of sacrifice that „covered‟ the Hebrews before their flight
from Egypt.
        As God‟s people we are likewise servants of the most high
God. A servant does not do what he wishes, and does not live his life
according to his own desires. He lives as his Master wishes and
desires. God has purchased us with the blood of His Son, Jesus
Christ, so our lives are His, through salvation. (Read chapter 26 from
verse 1)
        As a consequence we may not make idols or graven images –
God is our only Lord and we must not bow to any other. Yet, as an
Italian communist leader once said to me, “You Protestants have
your own popes”.

        Sadly, though I loyally defended the Reformed corner at the
time, I reluctantly came to see that this was a correct assessment of
the Reformed churches, who, generally, have elected their own
popes, whether it is Calvin, or Luther, Spurgeon, or Lloyd Jones. Or
the local pastor.
        The very Reformed men who shout against Romanists bowing
to a pope nevertheless bow to their own idols in their own pulpits! It is
very easy for a man to allow this to happen, or even to nurture
it…and it happens throughout many of the churches around the
world. This does not mean that I reject Reformed men or their
churches – only that the Reformed churches need to sit up and take
notice…and change dramatically, immediately.
        Have you heard people say “Oh, I leave theology to the
pastor” or “I‟m just a simple Christian – the pastor is up there for
teaching” and so on, including the seemingly innocuous reference to
“…us, down in the pews” – a statement that incorporates servitude
by a congregation and elevation of the pastor? This kind of pedestal-
placing is rife in every kind of structure, and it is simply not Biblical.
        The Hebrews were to keep God‟s Sabbaths and reverence
His sanctuary…do we do the same? I hardly think so! How many
Reformed churches dare to taint God‟s place of worship with
irrelevant plays and concerts, or displays of charismatic sins and
Romanistic tendencies? Too many I fear. (Note: Calvin allowed plays
to be performed, but not all passed the test of the Council, and they
were never used as a substitute for direct preaching).
        The Hebrews had to walk in God‟s statutes and
commandments before they had “rain in due season”. Do we walk in
God‟s way, truly? No, mostly we do not. We walk in our own way,
and ignore His commandments. If you think I am inventing this,
please read the examples in this book.
        Our very safety and well-being depends entirely on our
obedience, an obedience we rarely give to our Lord. Do you wonder
why churches are quickly emptying? It has nothing to do with failing
to maintain interest or not spicing up Sunday meetings. The prime
reason is that God predestinates those who will be saved and how
many will populate His churches in any age, but another reason is
that He removes congregations from bad pastors (xxxxxx). This fact
shows us that human drives to „create‟ interest are futile.
        We are reaping a very poor harvest, and rightly so. The
performance of many Reformed men when the hateful Toronto
Blessing struck the world was shocking. A handful stood valiantly to
be counted, but most hid in the baggage and became cowards. They
refused to stand and fight, or, they put up excuses they attributed to
an odd kind of Biblical piety, and so were mown down or subjugated.
By remaining silent, they became a friend of the enemy, sharing his
sins and condoning them.
        In the UK only about 3 or maybe 4 fought a public battle
against the Toronto-ists, over several years, at great personal cost.
Those needed as allies stayed behind church doors and did not
support the few. Rather, they scorned or made their distaste known.

A great time in church history was lost – God saw our disobediences
and demanded another great reformation, but we failed the test
       As a result, charismatic error is now the major idol and mover
of the world, a stark judgement that is not even recognised as a
punishment by our churches, such is their low spiritual state. Make
no mistake, charismaticism is just as much a counter-Reformation as
was the Roman kind, if not even greater, for it now incorporates
Romanism and more!

The Bridge
        Reformed men saw the false „blessing‟ as a „passing phase‟.
They shut up, thinking that it would just go away. In doing so, they
completely missed the point – that charismaticism was, and is, the
bridge Satan needed (and has already developed) between
Protestantism and Rome (a claim made by Romanists themselves).
On top of that, the movement has sub-divided into many other
charismatic perversions, which continue to sub-divide.
        The bridge was erected under the noses of the Reformed, the
men who followed on from Calvin, who, in his lifetime, prevented
Romanists from even lodging in Geneva, so as to secure a Biblical
way of life for the city! (So much so, that John Knox marvelled at the
result). If the disparity were not so serious, it would be a laughable
        Freedom from violence is also open to those who obey…but
we do not obey, and let evil men run amok in our nations, without
check or challenge. Time and again, unsaved populaces complain
that Christian churches are silent when it comes to the big things in
life. They are right. When did you last hear a local pastor stand and
be counted, and speak out against this or that evil? I dare say, never,
in most places. Their very silence accounts for the success of the
Alpha Course, one of charismaticism‟s „theological arms‟.
        Or, what about those who have been put on national
pedestals and who enjoy an (humanly planned) elevated status
within the churches? No, they, too, remain silent. Who speaks out?
Yes – Romanists, their sons the Anglicans, and their cohorts, the
charismatics! Thus, the world equates charismatic claims with true
Christianity…and Reformed men still stay silent!

We are to chase our enemies and bring them down (verse 7), so as
not to allow them to overrun our land and peoples. This takes outright
courage, a courage rarely seen in the churches or in our spiritual
leaders. If anything, those with courage are cut down by their own
men, who fear that the enemy might turn back and decimate them in
return! (I make no apology for saying that one of my Biblical heroes is
David, the warrior king, and that I have very little time for spiritual
       If we only obey, God promises to walk with us. He says that
when He brought us out of Egypt He broke the bonds of our yoke.

We no longer serve our taskmaster, Satan. So, why, then, do we
constantly obey Satan by disobeying God in very un-reformed
actions and beliefs? Why do we allow sin to proliferate in our lands,
and even in our churches?
        Why do we remain silent when enemies just walk unhindered
through the front doors of our churches and institutions? Why do
local pastors remain silent when Romanists and charismatics are
next door (and sometimes in their midst), proudly showing off their
spiritual baubles to a gullible public? When all kinds of pagans and
cultists open up their doors nearby? And when Islam forces its way
remorselessly through everything we have ever valued in Western

Not Reformed
        Most Christians who call themselves „Reformed‟, then, are
nothing of the kind! The freedom we should have is not ours. We are
still shackled to Satan and show it in many ways. By doing so we
break the covenant with God, and He responds with the application
of terror (verse 16 on), consumption and the „burning ague‟ (fever).
He will set His face against us…and who but a fool will say that this
is not so in our own day?
        We will be slain before our enemies (verse 17) – and this
occurred when the Toronto Blessing strode over the bodies of
Christian leaders playing possum. Today, though the „Blessing‟ in its
many guises (including the Alpha Course) continues its destructive
path through all churches, the same „Reformed‟ leaders remain quiet.
God‟s warning is very much being enacted in our time!

A Warning
        The Reformation of the Middle Ages was a warning command
from God to His people, those who were saved by grace alone, to
stand and be counted. The men called to begin that work had
themselves to be saved before they could implement a move of God
that would shake the world. The Romish heresy they fought against
was the enemy God allowed to crush His people. Then, by His grace,
He led them out of spiritual Babylon to know true freedom.
        But, what happened? Despite the deaths of martyrs, the freed
churches hung on to their links with Rome, keeping Romish traditions
and teachings! That is why the Church of England is now sliding
inexorably back down the pit to join its mother, the harlot, Rome.
        There have been notable exceptions to this slide from other
Protestant denominations, but these have all taken the road of
tradition and men‟s ideas. Which takes us back to the warnings given
to the ancient Jews. They had to reform or take the consequences of
an angry God.

Toronto Sneer
       In modern times, the Toronto Blessing - which continues
unabated, cruelly sneering at those Reformed men who thought it
was „just a fad‟ - is equal to the „king of the North‟ kept on a leash by

Almighty God in the days of Isaiah until He needed to let him loose to
utterly devastate the Israelites if they did not repent. Ten years after
the Toronto Blessing itself, more „waves‟ of charismatic heresy are
due to smash their way through our churches. The churches that
thought it was „just a phase‟ will soon come to know how powerful
this ongoing movement really is!
        Reformed men must, right now, repent and cast aside their
human traditions, their monolithic denominations, and their second-
best theologies. It is time, NOW, to obey scripture, God‟s word, and
His word alone. This was, after all, the legend of the Reformation and
the rock on which men of faith died and fought! So, why is this
principle being disregarded in full view?
        I know that many Reformed men refuse to accept the global
historical importance and vileness of the Toronto Blessing (to which
must be added the subtle Alpha Course). In my own long fight
against this mammoth deception I have noted how leaders have
written their judgements, which are only third-hand reports based on
the reports of others. They did not have direct „fighting‟ contact, so
they completely overlooked the clues – which are plainly visible to
those who have eyes to see! Most Reformed men think it totally
impossible that they would succumb to the deceptions of
charismatics. Perhaps they ought to take note of their own church

                              Chapter 1

          Munster, Westphalia, 1534-1535

         Let us look briefly at the errors of the Anabaptists. Though not
accepted by some as a true part of the Reformation, they were,
nevertheless, part of it, for good or ill, and so mention of their errors
is fair. We can think of them as we would a modern-day charismatic
denomination or cult.
         In their zeal to establish the „New Jerusalem‟ at Münster, the
Melchiorite Anabaptists entered into an intolerable situation. Some
think that their behaviour was inevitable as “an extreme outworking of
some latent tendencies within reformed thought” (Charisma &
History: The Case of Münster, Westphalia‟, Tal Howard, essays in
History, University of Virginia, Volume 35, 1993).
         Remember that at this time emphasis was being removed
from priests and Roman ideas of „church‟, and so, often, weird
interpretations of scripture emerged, almost as a “right of laymen”.
(Even today many reformed preachers insist on „spiritualising‟ texts,
without any kind of logical or Biblical warrant).

        Two men, major „prophets‟ within the movement, Jan Matthys
and Jan Bockelszoon van Leiden, taking extreme interpretations as
their guide, caused mayhem socially and politically by not interpreting
properly (see later notes on the proper interpretation of scripture).
        Matthys was said to have a „dominant charismatic style‟, whilst
Bockelszoon merely „bureaucratised‟ the charisma, which led to an
hideous oppressive legalism. (This is denied by the University of
Virginia, who claim that both men became extremely bureaucratic
and authoritarian. The researchers admit that identifying the origins
of Anabaptism can be „notoriously complicated‟.) Both errors can be
seen today in many Reformed and charismatic churches.
        It is not my intention to refer to Anabaptism itself (and
inclusion of what they claim does not mean I accept their teachings),
but only to show that the heresies of charismatic thought were
already present at the Reformation, and this is why present-day
Reformed men ought not think of the Toronto Blessing as a remote
or passing phase. Like the herpes virus that lays dormant in the body
until a person becomes weak or sick and then erupts, so charismatic
error arises whenever the true Church is weak and ineffective.
        A preacher by the name of Melchior Hoffman started to
baptise adults independently in 1530 and preached fiery end-times
sermons that „hooked‟ many thousands in his day – just as
charismatics deceive thousands in our own day with similar ploys.
        His „prophecy‟ that Münster was to be the „New Jerusalem‟,
led to great unrest and the city fathers saw him as a social threat,
imprisoning him in 1533. When Jan Matthys, then a baker in
Haarlem, Netherlands, heard of this, he claimed that he was „driven
by the Spirit‟, who revealed to him that he was Enoch come back to
earth! (Not unlike claims made by some charismatic leaders today).
Hoffman claimed to be the „first witness‟, Elijah.
        The Melchiorite Anabaptists were thrown into utter confusion.
Not knowing how to react to such a sudden claim by one of their
own. (Is this not exactly what happened when the Toronto Blessing
threw up dozens of „prophets‟?). Matthys retaliated against their
confusion and doubt by cursing them to hell, threatening them with
terrors unknown under the hands of demons if they did not accept
him as the incarnation of Enoch („Confession of Obbe Philips‟). This
is another sign present amongst extreme charismatic leaders today
and kept silent by the Reformed.
        As is very typical when extremists preach, the man began to
gather followers. One of his disciples was van Leiden, who Matthys
crowned as the future king of the „New Jerusalem‟. Very soon,
disciples were sent out in pairs to preach the new doctrines and
prophecies. Bockelszoon and Gerard Boekbinder were sent to
Münster. They discovered another preacher, Bernard Rothmann,
who espoused similar teachings.
        Originally, the „New Jerusalem‟ was to have been Strasbourg,
but this news led to a major rethink, and so Münster was named as
the new headquarters for God‟s people. As a result more „emissaries‟
were sent to Münster to baptise adults, in an effort to hasten the

creation of God‟s city on earth (not unlike modern charismatic efforts,
based on dominion theory).
        A main writer on this period, Max Weber (a scholar well-known
to sociologists), says of the emergence of charismaticism, that it
“represents a radically different form of authority that appears in
periods of social distress”. Who can doubt that we are in just such a
period today? Who can deny that charismaticism flourishes when
true men of God show only a nodding acquaintance with God‟s
        Weber continues that charismatic authority appears in the
leadership characteristics of specific individuals, or perhaps more
accurately, in the dialectical interplay between leaders and their
followers. Again, who can deny this very accurate portrayal of
charismatic (and some Reformed) leadership and activity as we see
it in our own time?
        With even more chilling accuracy, Weber says “Charisma shall
be understood to refer to an extraordinary quality of a person,
regardless of whether this quality is actual, alleged, or presumed.”
This is a key sign of modern charismaticism – the presumed
legitimacy of leaders even when they are found to be total heretics
and liars.
        He continues, “Charismatic authority, hence, shall refer to rule
over men…to which the governed submit because of the belief in the
extraordinary quality of the specific person…charismatic rule
is…‟irrational‟.” (The latter word used sociologically). How is it that an
unsaved sociologist can see what our esteemed Reformed leaders
        It has been said to me, time and again, that the charismatics
who lead the „Blessing‟ and its allied wild children, are somehow
genuine and ought not to be challenged. I see them as Satan‟s
envoys, placed in churches to deceive millions. Who is right? Their
fruit should hold a clue.
        We see that followers are devoted to their leaders (not to God
per se). This is evident in many charismatic churches, where leaders
rule without question or challenge, and anyone who questions them
are said to be rebelling against God Himself! (Though I have heard
this from Reformed pulpits, too). The same dynamic applies to the
way the Alpha course, and not God, is praised for this or that
perceived work of God.
        Weber has also said “Charisma, in its most potent form,
disrupts rational rule as well as tradition altogether and overthrows all
notions of sanctity…The bearer of charisma enjoys loyalty and
authority by virtue of a mission believed to be embodied in him…it
has inverted all value hierarchies and overthrown custom, law and
tradition.” “… to be a charismatic leader is not necessarily to be an
admirable individual”.
        This is exactly what has happened in recent years! I cannot
accept many traditions, but Weber is talking here about total anarchy
against all that has been held dear by genuine Christians. And which

has been allowed to happen without question, even by Reformed
         Weber correctly identifies „genuine charisma‟ with revolution.
The original apostles turned the world upside down. The revolution
was of God. But today, men assume they are God‟s special men,
and so revolt not against wrong beliefs, but against right beliefs,
destroying truth in the process. It is these men who Reformed
teachers adhere to, or allow to operate without challenge!
         Weber asserts that because charismaticism grows strong at
times of social distress, it is necessarily short-lived. However, today,
its influence has been widespread and generally accepted even by
those in Reformed circles (a sign of a corresponding lack of
discernment and adherence to God‟s word).
         Far from diminishing in its power, charismaticism is
experiencing a rapid growth. This is due partly to its strong organic
links with Romanism (or is it a mother-son relationship?), and partly
to its swift „theologising‟ attempts – the most famed being the Alpha
Course. It is also growing fast simply because „good men remain
         We are seeing not just a temporary phenomenon, but a steady
and hastening rush toward the end-times, when heresy and falsity
will replace most truth and reality. This charismaticism is indeed the
devil‟s work. Started as a questionable force, it is becoming the
accepted norm. “Its very quality as an extraordinary, supernatural,
and divine force, makes it a suitable source of legitimate authority for
the successors of the charismatic hero” (Weber). In other words,
what is truly demonic will become socially and spiritually acceptable.
         Even in Reformed churches where pastors seem untouched
by the charismaticism of the age, the signs of rot are evident in
words. Church members now openly talk of charisma – not in any
rational or Biblical sense, but after charismatic fashion. The
movement, then, has certainly gained ground in the heart of
Reformed churches, proving Weber‟s assertion that even when
charismaticism appears to have lost its force “it still remains within
the fabric of the ascending structures of tradition and/or rationality”,
becoming a part of a group that should have opposed it.

       Otthein Rammsted („Sekte und soziale Bewung‟, 1966)
depicts Jan Matthys as a „radical charismatic leader‟, no less than
any who have recently entered the religious scene. He bases this on
the fact that, like so many modern charismatics, Matthys claimed to
be directly led by God Himself, even though his claims were Biblically
preposterous. As such, his claims could not be “controlled, criticised,
or subjected to set regulations (e.g. the Bible) or traditions”. Added to
this, he claimed to have possessed the gifts of exorcism. He made
spontaneous „prophecies‟ and expected everyone to just accept them
as true, from God.
       Matthys died soon after Münster was taken over as God‟s new
capital on earth. His successor, Bockelszoon, was not so wild in his
claims and did not carry his followers so easily. So he resorted to

authoritarianism…much as we can observe in modern charismatic
leaders in local churches. “though he did prophesy, his prophecies
were unsatisfactory to the…congregations, because they lacked the
spontaneous and irrational elements characteristic of Matthys‟s
visions.” Note here that irrationality claimed loyalty, and not truth!
         Again, today, the charismatics who gather the most followers
are those who are irrational and beyond any kind of check (Benny
Hinn being a prime example). The less irrational Bockelszoon was,
the more he had to resort to domination of the people, regulating
their lives completely. Just like today.
         It should be noted that the Anabaptists under their two main
leaders entered Münster almost without challenge from the reigning
Lutherans. Thus their influence and irrationality grew. Can you not
see the correlation with today‟s deceivers, and the way Reformed
men allow them to dominate the scene?
         This city „take-over‟ resulted in the Anabaptists, fired by the
end-time prophecies of their leaders, taking up arms and storming
the town hall. At the same time they ran through the streets
uncontrolled, screaming to everyone to repent. Some followers then
began to see visions (notably former nuns) and began to foam at the
mouth, as they fell to the ground.
         After that, the rational Lutherans fled the city and the irrational
wild ones became the legal citizens! Only those who lived in the
physical boundaries of the new Jerusalem would be saved; the rest
would be obliterated by God. This is how I see today‟s charismatic
situation. Black has become white.

        What I have attempted to show Reformed friends in this
section is that charismatic fervour is not new, nor is it just a phase. It
is a Satanic thread that runs through history and which has today
become dominant. (It also immediately predated the start of
Pentecostalism, but did not start to formalise until the 1960‟s). As its
domination grows and its theologies gain ground even in Reformed
churches, Reformed men remain silent. In this way, their churches
have been breached. Remember, when enemies storm the walls
they kill those within, or take them prisoner.
        Thousands of Christians have been spiritually injured by the
spirit behind the Toronto Blessing, and newly charismaticised
individuals are replacing legitimate Christians through the newer
force of the Alpha Course. Not only is the writing on the wall today, it
was written large across church history during the Reformation years.
Why, then, are Reformed men staying silent? Why are they allowing
history to repeat itself?
        They do so because their own traditions and rules of spiritual
engagement are badly flawed by centuries of error and infiltrating
lies. That is how the Toronto Blessing so quickly decimated
Reformed churches and others. Where God is not absolute, sin
gathers strength and God lets the enemy overrun His people. It is
where Reformed men are right now, but will they turn and repent?
We opened with a text from the Old Testament. Remember that God

has brought down His people over issues of far less magnitude.
Think, and beware!

        I see the error and Arminianism of Romanism as similar to, but
not the same as, that of charismaticism. According to Romanism, all
men are seen as saved by God unless they deliberately remove
themselves from His grace. Charismaticism, on the other hand,
claims that all men are potentially saved, and are finally converted by
their own choice.
        Because both versions are man-led and humanly produced,
they must, of necessity, include the possibility of loss of salvation.
That is, if we choose salvation, or choose not to be within God‟s
sphere of salvation, then we can lose that salvation; “saved today;
lost tomorrow”. Both versions are false.
        One error leads to another. Arminianism – the choice of a man
to either be saved or lost – automatically leads to the possibility of
loss of salvation, and these, together, utterly oppose the scriptural
truths of predestination and an everlasting salvation that refuses any
thought of losing our heavenly status.
        Charismaticism is hybrid – it has one foot in Protestantism and
another in Romanism (as recent „spiritual‟ movements prove). It is
the bridge between falsity and truth, though it is a delusional bridge
that will crumble underfoot if stepped upon. Therefore, it behoves
charismatics to decide what they are: Romanists who are
charismatic, or Protestants who are charismatic?
        If the former, they are lost per se. If the latter, they have a
better background but are still in danger, for they defy the open
teaching of God in His word – the rejection of predestination is a
rejection of God‟s command and teaching and an alliance with
        The same arguments can be given for the successful but
errant Alpha Course, which is proving to be an even better bridge
between Protestantism and Romanism. As one who has observed
these phenomena for some time, I believe, strongly, that it is error to
treat Alpha as a slightly askew Protestant method of evangelism,
worthy of general acceptance but with a few „concerns‟.
        Alpha is a full-blown collection of heresies and godless
teachings, masquerading as holy. One big clue is its use by Roman
Catholics. Those who continue to treat the Course as just another
slightly misused tool of God are being deluded…just as they were
deluded by the Toronto Blessing. By not hitting this evil straight
between the eyes, they continue the evil.
        Evil is not to be trifled with or given the status of an equal
partner. We are not to be „balanced‟ when dealing with it, with the
lame excuse that those in error might see the light. We are not to
have loose partnerships with it. We should not be discussing it in
order to get over the „bad bits‟. We should not have „dialogue‟. We
must hit Alpha hard and fast, or we lose the moment (again)!
        Nowhere in scripture does God tell us to have dialogue with
evil, whether it is a foetus-like taint, or a massive fully-grown fraud.

We are called to completely obliterate it and to walk away from it
fully! Those who attempt to be „balanced‟ are themselves part of the
problem, because they allow the error to continue as a „truth-with-
problems‟. Friends, in scripture, there is no such truth! There are only
full truths and full lies. If there is the slightest taint, we must throw out
what we have and start over again. Otherwise the taint remains and
grows, overtaking the whole to destruction.
         Remember, one rotten apple contaminates all the others in the
barrel – the many good apples do not stop the rot or continue to be
good. They will eventually be overtaken with the same canker. Sadly,
those who play with Alpha and attempt to be „balanced‟ are one of
those good apples, and will eventually succumb.
         It is often thought that if we hit Romanism hard between the
eyes, then we lose any possibility of winning-over Romanists to the
Gospel. If I had a „holy host‟ for every time I have heard that one, I
would have a storehouseful of biscuits by now! Do you not realise
that you are using Romanist-Arminian reasoning here? You are
saying that by using language or an approach that is tough, we can
actually stop people seeing truth and being saved.
         This is exactly the same as charismatics (and, sadly, many
Reformed churches today) who use a huge variety of tactics to „bring
them in‟. They try to use emotion and any way under the sun to
persuade people to be saved. For them, use of a wrong tactic will
prevent the salvation of some.
         Both approaches are wrong. They are Arminian and not
Reformed. They oppose God‟s teaching on predestination. If we truly
believe that God elects some to salvation and that salvation is
therefore fixed and cannot be lost, then what are we doing with such
tactics? Think very hard, reader! Are you for God‟s word or for men‟s
         Whenever a new film comes out about the life of Christ,
Christians everywhere rush to accompany unsaved friends to see it.
The films are usually made by unsaved men for profit, yet Christians
flock to them for an emotionally-hyped inoculation! What they are
doing, in cold reality, is relying on human intervention to bring about
a spiritual conclusion.
         The film often produces an emotional response and this is
mistaken by the Christian for a genuine spiritual one. Even Christians
who accept predestination fall into this easy trap. Satan knows that
emotion is an easy target! He will call Christians to take their
unsaved friends to a film. The friends are touched by what they see,
and the Christian quickly dives in to the middle of their emotions to
„take advantage‟ of the unsettled state of mind. They might even
obtain a hazy „salvation‟, but it is all temporary, an illusion. It is a
charismatic tactic and is bound to fail. Why? Because it is a tactic
and is not reliant on God‟s grace and sole role as Caller of men!
(Tactics are the result of panic or desperation, not of godly faith).
         God will save a man whether or not he has seen a film! He will
save the man in His own time and by His own means. The man who
is elected will be saved no matter what happens. It does not matter if

the man is snowed-under by bad preaching, or if he has never seen
an emotional film about Christ. If a man is saved after watching a
film, then it is his time to be saved, no sooner and no later.
        It is about time that Christians stopped fooling about with
tactics and instead prayed for salvation of souls, allowing God to
save as and when He wishes – because that is what happens
anyway, in spite of our misguided notions and attempts to hasten the

                              Chapter 2

                The Augsburg Confession

        Article 8 of the Augsburg Confession, delivered by Philip
Melancthon in 1530, deals with „What the Church is‟. It admits that
the Church is “the congregation of saints and true believers” but goes
on to say that “nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and
evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments
administered by evil men…” because “Both the sacraments and the
word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of
Christ, not withstanding they be administered by evil men.” (from
„Confutatio Pontificia‟, Triglot Concordia: The Symbolical Books of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church, publ. Concordia Pub. House, 1921,
St Louis).
        The apologist condemned the Donatists who said it was
unlawful to use evil men for these purposes in the churches “because
they were unprofitable and „of none effect‟.”
        Personally I cannot accept the Melancthon view on this. It is
true that within the churches are unsaved men, and men of
unsavoury character. If these men happen to be pastors or teachers,
their placement is even worse.
        It is one thing to accept that we can be duped by men whose
inner heart is secretly evil. It is quite another to willingly accept them
into our midst and to allow them to teach or to preach or to pastor!
We cannot be blamed for what we do not know, but we can be
blamed for deliberately placing men in offices they do not have from
God, when we know they are evil or unsaved or both.
        I mention this because Reformed churches are very slow to
oust unsaved men and preachers from their pulpits. They even invite
them in as brethren. This cannot be left unchallenged.
        Article 5, on Justification, briefly states the predestination
position, that men cannot be justified “by their own strength, merits,
or works”. (page 37-95). This Confession is the basis for all
Protestant confessions – so why do Reformed men today preach an
Arminian gospel, which is anathema?

         This ties in with Article 18, which, when talking about free will,
says that no man can do anything righteous unless he is led to do so
by the Holy Spirit. (I would argue against the form of words used in
this Article, where it says that “We grant that all men have a free will,
free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason…”, for no man has
free will, whether saved or unsaved. True free will would make any
man as God, and this is impossible. See my articles on free will).
         The reader might be disturbed that I argue against venerable
men of the Reformation, but my approach is acceptable, for in the
very same Article above, Melancthon argues in favour of the Mass,
substantiating my assertion (seen easily in history) that Reformed
heroes still retained Romanist teachings. Like myself, they were men,
and men can make mistakes – and can even commit gross sins. If
we can only recognise this fact, even in our own day, we will not be
duped by good men or bad. Nor will we place men on a pedestal,
thinking them to be demi-gods.
         In the matter of prayer, Luther said “…whoever would pray
must have something to present, state, and name which he desires;
if not, it cannot be called a prayer.” He adds, referring to the monks,
that “None of them has ever purposed to pray from obedience to God
and faith in His promise…But where there is to be true prayer there
must be earnestness…prayer (must be) made spontaneously” (from
The Large Catechism). Such true prayer is rarely found in any
Reformed church I personally have known, and this is why a long
treatise on this matter is given in this book.
         In the next chapter I outline a proper „method‟ of Bible
interpretation. It is not the only method, but it adheres to scripture
alone, and is thus commended. Once we have defined how I am
approaching the subjects in the book, we can get on with looking at
some of the problems that burden Reformed churches today,
problems that have been present since the Reformation itself and
which need not exist at all.

                               Chapter 3

                 Interpretation of Scripture
                        A Commended Model

        The study of theology is a proper and needful exercise in the
life of every Believer. One result of the UK 1904 Welsh „Revival‟
(whether you see it as a charismatic error, or a work of God) was that
virtually everybody discussed theology. Even coal-miners, working
deep underground in harrowing conditions, talked nothing but
theology in its smallest detail! But, today? It is refreshing, but a rarity,

to find Christians talking theologically. Many I know think their limit is
to read popular books by famous authors, or glossy-covered
magazines on the latest charismatic heresy.
        Theology has been hi-jacked by academics and has been
made to seem beyond the experience and ability of ordinary
Christians. That is far from the truth. Every Christian can at least be
a „basic‟ theologian! For our present purposes, „theology‟ can be
defined as the study of God. In scripture, God is not separated from
what He says. The Bible is God‟s word; Bible „theology‟ is, then, the
in-depth study of God‟s word, the Bible. All Believers are called to
study God‟s word diligently.
         (Some theologians object to my thinking here, because I appear to be
„minimising‟ their „craft‟. This is not so. We have doctors, who study medicine in
immense detail. At the other end of the scale we have first-aiders, who are able to
assist those in peril on a more basic level. In between, there are others who are
more formally trained in medical subjects but not as intensely as doctors. All are
worthy and all are acceptable, so long as each recognises his own limitations).
        Two factors can affect the level we reach in theological study:
one is the intelligence we were born with and the second is the level
of spiritual understanding given to us by God. However, it does not
follow that the more intelligent we are the higher will be our
theological understanding. The reason for this is very simple – they
are not necessarily connected. Having a high intelligence may indeed
produce excellent theology, but what the Holy Spirit does is of
greater importance.
        Understanding of scripture is a gift of God. We are told that He
bestows upon all men whatever spiritual understanding they have.
Thus it may very well be that an academic genius can have a lower
level of spiritual understanding than does the „average (Christian)
man in the street‟. Or to put it in reverse order – an ordinary man
without academic qualifications can be head and shoulders above a
highly intelligent man in his theology.
        God determines our level of theological understanding, NOT
us. And whatever level we reach is perfect for the way God wants us
to be. Reading and studying help enormously, but it will be
meaningless if the Holy Spirit has not given us His understanding.
        Not everybody is called by God to study scripture in-depth.
Pastors need to understand scripture and God‟s will, but it does not
mean that every pastor is endowed with a higher level of theological
understanding. Being „apt to teach‟ is a term used to denote
something of secondary importance. The main point is that pastors
must look after the flock‟s well-being.
        I have heard many, many pastors preach. Most of them may
be good pastors – but they do not necessarily display intense
understanding of scripture. It can be heard in their preaching. It is
not disparaging to say that they know their Bibles, but head-
knowledge of scripture is not the same as God-given understanding.
Most will tell us what scripture says…but that is an activity that
almost anybody can undertake. What is missing is interpretation.
        It is all very well repeating Biblical texts – but the test of true
understanding is that the person with knowledge is able to reiterate it

in his own words and in a fresh way. That is, the words of
interpretation are given to him by the Lord, with direct application for
someone who is listening at that time. (Anyone, including wicked
men, can simply read out texts).
        Every Christian man, woman and child, is called upon to study
scripture to the best of their God-given ability. Only some will attain to
a higher level of understanding, because that is the way God has
gifted them. The main requirement is that we do not waste our time in
superficial parrot-fashion reading.
        Martin Luther said there are three main points to remember if
we are to study theology – prayer, meditation and testing. Prayer
should always be the very first action for a preacher. Sadly, in a rush
to preach two or three times on a Sunday and once or twice in the
week, many a pastor neglects a proper approach to theology. Or, to
be more precise, he is so overburdened with „doing‟ that he misses
out on self-sustenance. Even if he does not write a single word for
his sermon, a preacher MUST pray! It is through prayer that we
show our earnest intention to seek God‟s help.
        Then, after prayer and maybe even during it, we alight upon
texts we are to study. We must then read and reread them until they
become a part of our current thinking. God gives His own levels of
understanding! After all that, we need to test ourselves.
        Often, the best way our theology is examined is when critics
attack us. When they do, we are driven back to God to see if we are
right! And so our thinking is finely honed until it reflects only what
God says. Paul did this when he visited Jerusalem to see Peter
(Galatians 2).
        Other things need to be borne in mind, too: our knowledge of
scripture and of allied Christian matters, can be legitimately
categorised as follows:

    K. Knowledge which is firmly displayed in texts, without any
        possibility of alternative meaning. For example, scripture
        plainly tells us that Jesus is the Messiah and that the Messiah
        is God. There is no other way of interpreting that statement.
        In this case – as in all major aspects of doctrine – scripture
        truly provides its own interpretation.
2. Next in priority, are texts that are obviously based on plainly-stated
truths. An example is that of the Trinity. Nowhere in scripture do we
find reference to „Trinity‟, but it is there anyway. This kind of textual
interpretation is also „fixed‟ and has no other possible allusion. It just
means we have to study in greater detail to discover the
interpretation. Both the plainly stated and the indirectly stated truths
are obvious and incapable of alternative interpretations.
3. Then there are texts whose interpretations can be implied from
other truths in scripture. That is, their truths are indirect, but are
based entirely on declared Truth. Many daily decisions are founded
on this. It is when we get to these (very few) texts that it is possible to
obtain alternative interpretations.

        For example, think of Saul when he was chasing David. He
one day entered a cave to „cover his feet‟. There are genuinely two
possible interpretations for this phrase – one is that Saul went to the
lavatory and the other is that he went to sleep. The interpretation
would not harm the text either way and so the issue is not vital to
faith. (However, it is this writer‟s interpretation, given the general
context, that Saul went in to sleep. How else could David get near
enough to cut off the hem of his garment? See my commentary on
    K. Finally, there are texts whose meanings are unclear, for one
         reason or another. It is in this grey area that many cults and
         sects enjoy themselves! They claim to „know‟ the actual
         meanings of texts that have puzzled the Church for centuries,
         but when it comes down to it, their „interpretation‟ relies more
         on emotion or complex theory than on actual Biblical
         evidence. In other words, it is nothing but human opinion. It
         is this latter kind of interpretation that can be dangerous
         (charismatics resort to this type).
        It is my own practice not to waste time on expounding
something that cannot be verified. If the meaning is really unclear no
matter which way it is approached, then I usually leave it. In this
way, my own opinion takes a back seat and it cannot cause
        Having said that, there is nothing wrong with opinion – unless
it clearly contradicts scripture, and so long as it is identified as
opinion and not misrepresented as fact (the word „fact‟ here given its
standard meaning). For instance, the majority of New Testament
texts are crystal-clear about the meaning of „tongues‟ – an earthly
foreign language. Just one single portion of one single text could,
possibly, indicate something more „angelic‟ (a notion which I do not
accept, personally) and unknown to mankind – but only if we ignore
all the other, very clear, texts. Another example of opinion is the
Millennium. Nowhere in scripture is such a physical time clearly
shown to exist. It comes down to theory and what people want to
believe (even without adequate proof).
        So long as we distinguish what is plainly scriptural and what is
opinion, we are safe (and honest!). Too many theologians and
preachers merge Biblically obvious interpretations with opinionated
ideas. Be honest and you will not go far wrong.

Legitimate Interpretation of the Word
       „Dividing the word‟ has been a messy, pretentious and
unscriptural affair in the hands of dispensationalists, who literally cut-
up the word of God with abandon, giving us what is known as
„dispensationalism‟…a system of belief that bears no resemblance to
the simple teaching of God. Some folk, though, think that the more
obscure a system of thought is, the more advanced and true and
profound it must be!
       (An interesting note – several days after I was saved, I bought
a Bible from a Christian book shop. Knowing nothing of versions I

asked the shop manager to give me a good one. I began reading at
Genesis chapter one. By the time I reached the first reference to the
serpent, I felt very uneasy and simply could not accept the footnotes
that went with it. So, I took the Bible back and asked for one without
footnotes. Grumpily, the manager gave me a straightforward King
James version, and all was well. I did not know until later that the
Bible I had been given was used by Dispensationalists. Yet, my spirit
was troubled by what I read in the first few footnotes!).
        Others, less methodical than dispensationalists, also misuse
and abuse scripture. They take a basic text and then elaborate upon
it. That is, they „spiritualise‟ and give remarkable (and often
ridiculous) meanings to texts that the texts themselves cannot
possibly bear. (I was kindly presented with a full set of cassettes
containing about a dozen sermons by a world-famous preacher. But I
could not listen to them, for they relied heavily on spiritualised
interpretations of texts that simply did not hold water, so I threw them
away. Basically, they were theological nonsense, which displayed no
doctrinal purity, and no practical application value, whatever).
        Yet others, possibly the majority of folk, just collect this bit of
„meaning‟ and add it to another bit, collected from a different source.
Then they sew it all together until it resembles what I call a
„patchwork quilt theology‟. The quilt keeps them warm and
comfortable, but it uses so many different cottons and materials, it
falls apart after just a few washes. These folk are magpies. They
collect anything that is shiny or different, and anything that takes their
fancy. But they do not want the truth as it is given in scripture. I have
observed over the years that even Reformed Christians do this, with
a “Yes, I hear what you say from scripture, but I prefer to think of it
this way…”.
        With such a variety of ways of looking at scripture, how do we
know the best way? Dare I be so obvious as to say the best way to
examine scripture is to see what scripture itself says! Possibly, you
are thinking this really is too obvious. Well, if it is that obvious – why
do the majority of people have next to no real understanding of
scripture? Many of those I meet and communicate with clearly have
no true understanding of what God says. Theirs is a confusion or
mish-mash of ideas and half-formed theology, mostly either extreme
or popular. A patchwork quilt theology!
        What is the scriptural way? It is as follows…

   K. Look at the text itself. Not at what other men (no matter how
      famous) say about it. To my mind, the text ought to be the
      1611 King James Authorised Version.
   K. Examine the words in the text, as found in the original
      languages (mainly Greek and Hebrew).
   K. These meanings are the basis for interpretation. Note that
      almost every word can have many different possible
      meanings, and the one to choose, sometimes, cannot usually
      be ascertained until the context has been examined. Look for
      the most direct and obvious meaning first.

   K. Look at the text in its setting, that is, the context. All meanings
      must „fit‟ the context. The text must not be twisted to fit a
      particular theological theory or denominational stance!
   K. Put together the meanings you have found, and interpret them
      according to the context.
6.    If something is unclear, only then should you look at what
      others have said about the text. But, be very careful! You
      might read a view that is prejudiced or wrong.
7.    Even if you think you have obtained the obvious meaning, do
      not underestimate the role of the Holy Spirit in this activity, for
      He will give you true understanding and wisdom…these are
      gifts and cannot be acquired by reading or storing up
      academic knowledge.
   K. The role of the pastor or Bible teacher is to do all of the above,
      using his God-given gift of teaching and the understanding
      given to him by the Holy Spirit. This means he will be enabled
      to provide a proper interpretation which is applicable to those
      he teaches. Because it is God-given it will always be relevant
      and useful, and will always be correct. Once the teacher uses
      his own abilities, his interpretation will falter or be wrong.
      Note that even if you follow the above, the final interpretation
      is given by the Holy Spirit.

        By going only to scripture you get only what scripture says.
Makes sense? If you do this and you still cannot understand what the
text is saying, then you must simply leave it alone! Do not become
agitated and do not think that you must always obtain a full
understanding of every text you read on every occasion. It is quite
possible that the Holy Spirit is not ready to give you understanding at
that time. It is also possible that you will never come to an
understanding of that particular text. Just accept it. Each of us is
given his or her own „measure‟ of spiritual gifts and understanding.
God will not reveal something to us unless He is ready to do so. So
do not fight it!
        It is also true that although you know all the meanings a word
might have, you will not necessarily also obtain the full interpretation
of a given text, unless the Lord is pleased to give it at that time.
        Sadly, those who fall into the error of being a part of
charismatic circles, may be tempted to join so-called „workshops‟ that
claim to teach them how to interpret scripture. They are given a
„method‟ and so they use that with each and every text. This is
Arminian error, that tells a person that all he needs is to read and
apply a particular technique, to obtain meanings of texts.
        Even when a person has no idea what scripture means and he
is, say, unsaved, he will be given a good, general, understanding if
God so decrees it. This can occur even if he is not yet regenerated,
because, on the whole, scripture is open and can be read plainly.

Example of Proper Text Examination
       Read John 3:16. It is a very familiar text, but it is also a much
misused and abused one. Do you believe that this text is telling us
God „offers‟ salvation to everyone? If you do, then you are mistaken.
If the proper „rules‟ of scripture interpretation are applied, you will
discover the following…

   K.      The vital word to find a meaning for is „world‟. It is not as
           easy as you think! Look in, say, a Strong‟s concordance.
           There you will find there are at least nine different
           meanings for the word „world‟. One of them is „Believers
           only‟. Did you know that? Write down all the possible
           meanings for the word, for the proper interpretation of the
           word will affect the meaning of the whole text (and your
           understanding of election/salvation).
   K.      Now, look at the context. What does it tell us? It says, in
           unequivocal language, that God sent His Son to die for
           those who would believe. Now, look again at all those
           meanings you wrote down. Which of those meanings can
           fit the context? You will find that the only meaning that fits
           is „Believers only‟. Read the rest of that portion of scripture
           and you will find that God sent His Son only for Believers.
           That is, those who are already elect. He did not die for
           „everyone in the world‟! Once you add the word-meaning to
           the context, you have your „interpretation‟.

        Of course, if you are Arminian, you will reject this proper form
of interpretation, and will instead replace it with an invalid and totally
humanistic method. The total effect is to reject God‟s election by
claiming that we can „choose‟ our own salvation. And this makes
Christ the „minister of sin‟ (Galatians 2: ).
        Basically, you are either a Believer or you are not. If you truly
are saved and a Believer, then you have no right to tamper with
God‟s word. Even a football team‟s fan club has its rules and
regulations. If you do not abide by them, then you are not a member
and cannot claim to be one. If you are a Believer and you reject the
proper form of interpretation as found in scripture itself, then you
cannot claim to be acting as a Believer. Simple, really.
        Now that we have a basic approach to the interpretation of
scripture, we can go on to study a variety of topics. Because the
prayer meeting is called the hub of any reformed church, we will look
closely at that first. I can guarantee that many readers will be
shocked or disturbed by what they read, but please bear with it. It is
not my intention to shock you, only to make you rethink a centuries-
old claim – that the prayer meeting is the centre of all our church life
and that corporate prayer can be regulated and „offered‟ regularly.

        I have looked at internet material on interpretation and found
one     site devoted to interpretation (

Disregarding the wrong spelling of „Arminianism‟ (Armenia is a
country not a set of beliefs), in its section on „Why do we need to
have rules on Bible interpretation?‟ it says “We cannot rely on
feelings since that would be subjective. We cannot say (two opposing
views are) both right since the Bible has only the meaning the
original author intended it (to have). We cannot say that the Bible can
mean something to you, and can mean something different to me.
This would be saying that the Bible doesn‟t really mean anything at
all. What we need is a standard to evaluate everybody‟s
interpretation of the Bible.” This is sound advice, even if it uses the
NIV as a source of quotes.
       It has a neat section explaining the meaning of hermeneutics,
etc., and other sections are interesting. If you want to compare what I
say with this simple site, feel free!
          Another site you can use to concur with my own material, or
even to oppose it, is offered by Peninsula Bible Church based in
California. You can see what they say at – again, inclusion of
a name or source does not infer my own acceptance of anything or
everything said by a group.
       Only recently I challenged the once famed preacher, Roy
Clements (who, you may remember, shocked the Christian world by
declaring his homosexuality) on the matter of interpretation. His site
attempts to view everything through the murky glasses of
homosexuality and his articles contain evasive and distorted
statements that typify heretical stances.
       So, beware when contacting any such site or reading books
by prejudiced people. Roy Clements speaks against „homophobia‟ –
a nonsense word devised by homosexuals and which is
meaningless. In this, he and those like him display
heterophobia…fear of normal sexuality! Far more meaningful than
„homophobia‟. Those with skewed beliefs and leanings are bound to
allow them to influence their thinking on all subjects.
       Also beware when reading charismatic or ecumenical
material, for they inevitably twist meanings and methods to suit their
own theology. What I have tried to do in this chapter is opposite to
that – by saying you must go back to scripture itself. It would be
useful to expand on what I have said about interpretation in this
book, but space does not permit it.
       Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries (Ron Rhodes) gives
users a readable approach. It includes much that I have already said.
Emphasis is put on determining whether a text is literal or figurative,
for example. In my own ministry work I have come across not just
this, but also the inability of many Christians, to recognise what is
actual and what is rhetorical, especially when it comes to reading the
work of Paul. Another problem is not understanding Hebraic forms of
argumentation. So, there is much to learn when interpreting scripture!
Just be careful when choosing who to trust.

              “And Joseph answered and said,
              This (is) the interpretation thereof….”
              (Genesis 40:18).

       This is the pithrown, or true meaning. Said Joseph, without a
moment‟s hesitation. He had the one and only explanation for the
dreams. There was no other possible explanation, because there
could not have been any others. God does not offer alternatives – He
says exactly what He means.

              “And it was (so), when Gideon heard
              the telling of the dream, and the
              interpretation thereof, that he
              worshipped, and returned into the
              host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the
              LORD hath delivered into your hand
              the host of Midian.” (Judges 7:15)

        Gideon relied totally on one single interpretation of a dream,
and so knew that God would give Israel victory. If he had relied on
the interpretations of men, all Israel would have been lost. David had
the same experiences, time and again…remember the incident of the
rustling in the treetops? If he had tried to attack his enemy without
this very small sign, there would have been disaster. There was only
one interpretation. The wise man will know this and will listen to wise
counsel (Proverbs 1:6).

              “…the great God hath made known
              to the king what shall come to pass
              hereafter: and the dream (is) certain,
              and the interpretation thereof sure.”
              (Daniel 2:45b)

        Daniel was unwavering. His interpretation of the dream was
sure. The result of his assurance was that the king fell on his face
and worshipped Daniel, acknowledging his God to be Almighty.
There was only one interpretation! In Daniel 5:26 there is found the
same firm answer, “This (is) the interpretation…”…den
        The New Testament is no less sure – godly interpretation is
final and sure…hermeneia; what is obscure or unknown to others is
made sure by God speaking through men called to interpret (as in
the interpretation of tongues, for example; 1 Corinthians 12:10, and
in 1 Corinthians 14:26, where interpretation seems to extend to
preaching or knowledge, etc).
        In 2 Peter 1:20 we come to the interpretation of scripture, a
proof that interpretation is not a matter of private musing: “Knowing
this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private
interpretation.” The interpretation here is epilusis, the „loosening‟ of
meaning from something previously wrapped up or hidden.

Charismatics major on vague or difficult texts and boast that they
know the actual meaning, when many before them have failed.
Interpretations abound and many do not agree with the others. This
is not godly interpretation.
        Godly interpretation is always sure and firm, epiluo – it clears
controversy and settles the matter firmly. It can be done because the
teacher is called by God to interpret scripture. This is not merely a
matter of knowing Greek or Hebrew, or carefully discovering actual
meanings of words. It also includes something that men cannot
muster for themselves – Holy Spirit revelation. Without this,
interpretation is always open to abuse and misuse, which follow
when it is „private‟, idios, „his own‟ thoughts.
        The point being made is that interpretation must arise solely
from scripture itself, and be attended by the Holy Spirit‟s prompting of
the one who is interpreting. This latter requirement is that of the office
of teacher and preacher, who must always be chosen by God for the
task and equipped with the spiritual gifts necessary. No theologian
with academic knowledge alone is a match for this person; nor is the
well-known preacher who is not truly called to speak by God.
        What I am saying sounds exclusive, simply because it is! If a
man is called to the office of preacher or teacher, this means that
others are not. Therefore, if one is called to the office, others should
listen and take note, not pretend to have the same gifts. Nor should
they „stand on their dignity‟ and take affront. The man of God who is
called to interpret scripture has an office to fulfil and he will do it with
immense confidence, because God is with him. That is why his
interpretations will be sure and firm. Those who listen to him should
not be critical, if what he says is of God‟s word and plainly true.
        Conversely, those who are false teachers and prophets must
be marked and denounced publicly, for theirs is not a calling or of
God. I can name a number of famed names who have been shown to
be false, mostly from the charismatic cults. They chose their own
paths and called themselves apostles and teachers, when they
clearly had no calling.

                                  Chapter 4

                Are Prayer Meetings Valid?

         Note: Readers should understand that the prayer meetings being referred
to are those whole meetings given over to prayer, as they are today. The article is
NOT critical of prayer itself, or of spontaneous prayer meetings where all those
who pray speak with „one accord‟ (discussed later).

         In his Institutes (Book 3, chapter 20), Calvin says this of
         “This indeed is that secret and recondite philosophy which
cannot be extracted from syllogisms, but is well understood by those
whose eyes God hath opened, that in His light they may see
light…By means of prayer we penetrate to those riches which are
reserved with our Heavenly Father for our use. For between God and
men there is a certain communication, by which they enter into the
sanctuary of heaven and in His immediate presence remind Him of
His promises, in order that His declarations which they have implicitly
believed, may in time of necessity be verified in their
experience…hence our consciences derive peculiar peace and
tranquillity; for when the affliction which oppressed us is represented
to the Lord, we feel abundant composure even from this
consideration, that none of our troubles are concealed from Him…”
         C. H. Irwin wrote “The consciousness of God‟s presence was
indeed the supreme influence and dominant force in his (i.e. Calvin‟s)
life. In his letter to Melanchthon, for instance, he appeals to „God and
the holy angels who see us‟. And elsewhere he appeals to Christ as
the master of the lists, the witness and the judge, under whose eyes
we contend.” („John Calvin‟, C. H. Irwin, p111,112 Pub. The Religious
Tract Society, London 1909).
         To Calvin it was the mystery of prayer that was recondite.
Today, I fear that what is recondite is the attitude of men, who have
reduced prayer to a weekly chore, a form of proof of orthodoxy. I
have no doubt that many pastors and preachers who call on others to
pray, pray themselves with depth of heart and genuineness, but I
also have no doubt that most also pray when they are not called to
do so, making their prayers „vain‟.
         This observation is very true of many congregations who
bother to attend prayer meetings, and especially those who are
forced to pray „in the round‟, where everyone prays from one end of
the line to the other. These times cannot provide peace and
tranquillity because they are not true times of prayer, but are
formalised statements for the sake of peers present, not God.
         Much is assumed by churches. Charles Finney, an Arminian,
said in his Lecture 8 „Meetings for Prayer‟: “I am now to speak of
social prayer, or prayer offered in company…Such meetings have
been common from the time of Christ, and it is probable that God‟s
people have always been in the habit of making united supplication,
whenever they had the privilege.”
         Sounds good – but he used the word „probable‟, for there is no
real evidence for regular prayer meetings, and even if there was, this
is not in itself proof of legitimacy. Yet, Finney himself added “The
propriety of the practice will not be questioned here.” This is odd, for
his purpose was to ask if corporate prayer can obtain this or that

      The existence and validity of prayer meetings is taken for
granted. Yet, of all meetings the prayer meeting is, possibly, the

least attended and least appreciated. Independent Protestant
churches insist that the prayer meeting is the very core, or hub, of
local church life. Without it, they say, the local church would die. But,
where does this axiom come from? It is certainly not found in
        It is very easy for pastors to publicly blame the laxity of the
flock, or the state of the world in general, because the prayer meeting
is not attended. But perhaps this is merely to give an excuse! Does
a pastor have the right to pass-on blame in this way? Over the years
I have questioned the validity of „corporate prayer‟ as we have it
today in our local churches. It is a matter of intense personal
importance. After 40 years of being a Believer and dutifully attending
prayer meetings, I ask these questions:

                        “What exactly is a prayer meeting FOR?
                        What is its purpose?
                        Is it an authentic – and therefore valid –
                        form of worship?”

        Let us face these questions with honesty. If we can answer
them, we may yet see life in near-dead churches. Without honesty,
our churches become heavy with unbiblical traditions, like a small
boat encrusted with barnacles. Sooner or later it will sink lower in the
sea of spiritual life, until it is washed this way and that, like an old tin
tub, by increasing tides of mere opinion. Then it will sink.
        Spurgeon said “Prayer itself is an art which only the Holy
Ghost can teach us. He is the giver of all prayer, Pray for prayer –
pray till you can pray.” („Order and Argument in Prayer‟, Metropolitan
Tabernacle Pulpit 1866, Vol. 12, Sermon 700).
        This can be misunderstood. It does not mean that we just say
anything we wish, hoping that God will then help us out. It means that
God intends us to pray, and this is what we ought to do, but when we
pray we must say what God wishes us to pray, even if this is halting.
Thus, even the „praying until we can pray‟ is of God. This is to do with
personal prayer, not prayer meetings.

A Complex Question
         If the majority of Christians are honest, the prayer meeting is
usually the most boring and fruitless of meetings. In my own
Christian life I must have attended all kinds of „corporate‟ prayer
meetings – thousands of them. I have attended other types of prayer
meetings, too. Also, I have prayed in all kinds of denominational
structures…Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Brethren…just about
every kind of Protestant group you can name.
         Some prayer meetings are more lively than others. But
„liveliness‟ does not necessarily constitute validity, or truth, or
holiness. How we feel about particular prayer meetings is irrelevant
to our argument. The fact that some may emerge from these
meetings feeling wonderful has nothing at all to do with the questions
being asked.

        To put it bluntly, Satan can make us feel wonderful, as present
day charismatic meetings prove. What matters is God‟s word, NOT
how we „feel‟ about an issue. Thankfully, we can experience feelings
of true joy before, during and after prayer. This is not disputed. But
true feelings can only follow true prayer, not the false prayers that
are the subject of this chapter (false prayers can often produce
euphoric happiness, but not Biblical joy).
        The sad truth is this – in all but a very small number of cases, I
cannot remember ever knowing a real satisfaction in such meetings.
That is a hard fact and a tender spot to touch. Critics could retort
that this is my own fault. But is it? Could it be, rather, that the lack of
joy was due to my practice of something that was not scripturally
        This implies, of course, that most Christians are misled about
prayer – another serious statement. If that is true, it does not imply
that these Christians are fools or that their pastors are evil. No, it
simply means that some have not yet reached a point at which they
can see their error. After all, I practised and taught exactly the same
things for many years, advising Believers to do the same. Now, I
publicly denounce my error and I pass on the findings of my Biblical
examination of the topic. The aim is to help build the Church of
Christ, of which we are all brethren, in strength and vitality.
        I have met with those who claim to „enjoy‟ every prayer
meeting they attend. All I can say is that they should beware of
psychological factors that can easily mask the truth. To „enjoy‟ a
sermon, or a prayer meeting, or a book, etc., is not necessarily proof
of its Biblical truth.
        There can be many reasons why we „enjoy‟ something. Quite
often, we enjoy those things with which we concur! „Enjoyment‟ of
meetings is not barred, but neither is it necessarily a proof of spiritual
reality. Again, the easiest thing for a pastor to now do, is to blame
the writer for these failings!
        This would be a mistake. Such meetings have never
prevented me from praying inwardly (although now I try not to attend
them at all, so that I maintain my integrity). I often met God in this
way, despite the coldness of the meeting itself. (On many occasions
there is humanly-generated „warmth‟ and fervour, but this is not Holy
Spirit warmth).
        It could be said that I am merely expressing spiritual laxity or
the signs of a backslidden state. The challenge for the critic is to
show me where I am in Biblical error. If such error is not
forthcoming, then the problem must be elsewhere. Yes, hard
questions – but the answer is not to apportion blame simply because
one does not like the questions. Don‟t shoot the messenger!
        Most Christians enjoy the „first half‟ of a prayer meeting, which
is usually a Bible study. But they say they are not so happy about the
second half (the supposedly „prayer‟ part) and join in only because it
is part of a longer meeting. The people who say this are often sincere
Believers: it is simplistic and derogatory to label them „backsliders‟.

(These people dare not admit to their boredom or dislike to their own
pastors, for fear of being labelled).
         The question being raised is not an academic exercise. Nor is
it trite or ill-conceived. It emerges from a background of wrestling in
(and with) prayer in great depth. It has to be that way, for we are told
that prayer meetings are the „very core‟ or „the power-house‟ of a
local church. Thus, it has to be central in our lives and it should
challenge us all. (It is my personal belief, based on scripture, that
prayer should permeate every moment of life, and not just squeezed
into a convenient hour once a week, in a church building).
         We must not hide from the issue, but must deal with it.
Whenever a Jehovah‟s Witness has doubts or awkward questions,
the leader will advise him to read more JW books and to sell more
literature. In this way, he is assured, the doubts will go away. It is
like this in Christian churches, too. Awkward questions are ignored or
treated as evidence of declining spirituality. For this reason, most
Christians will never ask the questions (publicly) in the first place, nor
will they ever admit to their doubts. This leads to the classic
„evangelical smile‟ where what is inside a man is not what is seen on
the outside. Another word for this is „hypocrisy‟.
         For this reason, too, most Christians resort to clichés. They
hide behind them. Indeed, we are not expected to question our
beliefs or those traditions handed down over centuries. Clichés
provide a superficial comfort and a barrier against disapproving
fellow Believers. Just smile and say „Praise the Lord‟ and all is well!
But how is that different from brainwashing? The comfort evaporates
in private, because it is superficial and doubts or fears grow without
an outlet. This does not strengthen our faith, but weakens and almost
destroys it.
         Continuous questions can sometimes be a sign of unbelief.
They can also be the sign of a sincere seeking after the Truth of
Christ and real spiritual life. The questions in this chapter are being
asked for the sake of the well-being of the saints, not for sheer
mischief value. All traditions must stand or fall on their own strengths
or weaknesses – but moreso on their validity. No tradition is beyond
Biblical scrutiny. Traditions that cannot pass this test must be thrown
out. It just so happens that the prayer meeting is now the tradition
under scrutiny.
         Coming from a Welsh Baptist/Calvinistic background (but not
any longer), I know that my questions will alarm those with a similar
history. Seeking the Truth can often cause disquiet. When deep-
seated opinions are challenged, questions concerning their validity
are perceived to be a threat. But opinions are not the same as
Biblical Truth. So, to question them is not to question the Truth
(which cannot change or be altered by questions), but to question
men‟s opinions. Truth remains, whether we question it or not;
whether we believe it or not.
         The topic of prayer meetings is now being discussed. This is
disturbing. It is also a complex issue – but it need not be complex.
Like so many issues in life, we can always find ways to make them

ultra-complex! When things we have done for years are questioned,
the questions are seen to be a threat, even if no threat actually
exists. There is only a „problem‟ if that is the way we prefer to think
of the matter. On the other hand, what one sees as a „problem‟ will
be, to others, a situation to be faced and dealt with. Thus they are
challenges, not threats.
        Honest Believers, including pastors, will admit that prayer
meetings are a difficult thing to deal with. It is far easier to just carry
on holding them! But what is wrong with them? Is it to do with the
format?       Or is something fundamentally wrong?                Does the
membership of the local church reflect the state of the prayer
meeting…or does the prayer meeting reflect the state of the
membership? Or, does the prayer meeting reflect the desires of Man
and not of God?
        For too many years, Christians in the West have lived off past
glories, almost like carrion crows. We pick at the flesh of our dead
spiritual forefathers, hoping that this will fill us with like passions and
spiritual greatness. Most of us feed off our forefather‟s greatness.
We fail to sow our own crops in our own day and rely on stories of
spiritual giants, pretending that their triumphs are our own.
        We continue in activities passed down like worn clothing
through our denominational history. (Most denominationalists treat
their denominations almost like political parties requiring total loyalty).
But how often do we question them? How often do we test the spirits
to see whether they be of God? Because God worked mightily in
men in their day, it does not mean He will remain in the same
activities if we continue them today.
        We cannot live our lives according to an historic pattern,
unless it comes direct from God and His word. Also, what was good
for men of one era may not be good for a man of today (we are not
here referring to obvious Biblical teachings, which prevail through all
ages, but of tradition).
        It is our duty to be constantly alert to these dangers. God
worked great works through great men in the history of the Church,
but Christians today miss an important fact – that is, the local
church (which is but a microcosm of the Church universal) is as
alive and as pure as its oldest living member. In other words, the
spiritual state of any local church depends entirely and solely on its
current state and not on its past glories. That is, it is only as
Christian as its present members! The father may have been a
giant of spiritual virtues – but the son may well be an evildoer of the
worst type. If a whole denomination is only as holy and as Christian
as its present membership, we cannot live off the purity and holiness
of others in the past.
        Yet this is exactly what we attempt to do if we refuse to
question our dearest traditions. They may be doctrinally justified.
But, maybe they are not. How do we know if we never face them?

A Typical Prayer Meeting
         It seems that corporate prayer meeting is possible only
between 7.30pm and 8.30pm on one mid-week evening                      (or
whatever other times and days are chosen) – except where „prayer‟
is used as a „power‟ tool for dubious purposes (e.g. charismatic
meetings)! Let us see what a typical prayer meeting is like…
         Enter the room. Sometimes it is cosy and warm; sometimes it
is cold and uncomfortable (some say this is „more spiritual‟). Few
people are there compared to the actual numbers on the
membership book. Everyone sits in his or her usual place.
         The meeting comes to order and, predictably, there is a
„sandwich‟ of opening prayer by the pastor, a hymn or chorus, a
reading, another hymn…well, you know what I mean. Some prayer
meetings are mixed with Bible studies. In essence it is a Sunday
service, except that the men usually dress more casually…cable-knit
jumpers, etc!
         (Why do this? What makes one day a „suit and tie‟ day and
another day more casual? Even TV presenters do the same thing.
Does our dress really express our intent? Or is this just another
tradition? If dress is an expression of intent, then I must be the worst
backslider of them all…but I cannot afford new clothes, or even a
suit. Does that make a difference?).
         We finally get to the „prayer‟ section. Again, there is usually a
format or style. This may be determined by the pastor and because
they want to be approved by him, members follow this format or
style. They do this even if they do not agree with it, or if they do not
like it, or if they feel uncomfortable about it. Sometimes the „style‟
depends on denominational requirements. Hence the stark contrast
between, say, High-Anglican „prayers‟ and those in an evangelical,
Independent chapel.
         There is no reason or excuse to ignore these questions. What
you think is what you are. If you secretly think these things – then
ask the questions! Think of this next time you „pray‟ just because
your pastor says so, or because it is „your turn‟.
         God sees us as we really are and He knows if we pray out of
expectation or duty. He knows if we should really pray or not,
regardless of what the pastor or our fellow members think! Beware
of hypocrisy. Pray in public ONLY if you are led to do so – do not
dare to open your mouth otherwise.
         And so the prayers start…or are they prayers, REAL prayers?
Occasionally there are impassioned pleas by some who rarely pray.
But most prayers are said by the same people, who often use exactly
the same words and language (or clichés) and the same format…first
a bit about God Himself, then something about the local church,
quickly followed by pleas for the whole Church. Maybe a few words
about missionaries we do not even know, and about their work,
which may, or may not be, Biblically legitimate. Perhaps, then, a
request for the sick and the persecuted. It is all standard stuff.

        Some prayers are flowery. Some are quick and plain. Some
are fluent. I am not saying that each of these is necessarily
hypocritical. No – I am asking if they are of value. I am asking if they
are truly of God. If they are not, then what are they for?
        Remember – a prayer that has not been prompted by God
Himself is a form of lie. I cannot accept that most of these prayers
are OF God and FOR God and FROM God…because they appear to
be vain repetition or just dutiful shows of „worship‟ without substance.
        So, the regulars keep the prayer meeting going. I hear them
utter real, heart-felt pleas. But this does not make them true prayers.
They may be perfectly phrased and contain everything expected of
them. This is partly why I question them! It is as if we write our own
version of the Lord‟s Prayer and stick to it! Every week we use the
same ideas and formula, with just a small change here and there.
Essentially, though, they are always the same set of phrases and
format-words. This is never intended, but it always happens. I know
because I did it for several decades, as did everyone else I knew!
        Do we realise that we pray mainly because others expect us
to do so? Because the pastor is listening? Or worse – because he
has asked us to pray and we know very well that we were not even
thinking about praying? Do you pray because otherwise others will
think you are backsliding? Or, do you pray publicly because you
enjoy it, or because you have an outgoing personality?
        There can be many reasons for praying out loud…and none of
them are of the Lord. Remember what the Lord said about the
Pharisees who insisted on praying in public? Are YOU trying to
elongate your garments to appear superior to men (whether you
realise it or not)? Are you willing to question your motives?
        To return to Finney‟s paper on the matter…his claim is that
“One design of assembling several persons together for united
prayer, is to promote union among Christians.” This is the opposite to
my own claim – that we must have union before we can dare to pray
corporately. On what does Finney base his claim, for I find none of it
in scripture? Finney thinks that Christians cannot help but to love
each other when they pray together. I beg to differ, as this chapter
        It is often the case, too, that a congregation will allow
themselves to be carried away with the enthusiasm of a pastor,
rather than because each and every person has been touched by the
Holy Spirit and prompted to pray in unity. Indeed, Finney allows for
this: “A minister, for instance, will often, as it were, breathe his own
feelings into his congregation.”
        He then makes a case for the use of feelings (being known for
this himself) and their part in enthusing others. The conclusion of this
is the spiritual debauchery of today‟s charismatic meetings. There is
nothing wrong with emotions, but they must never rule.
        Finney then touches on prayer meetings as „moving God‟, a
completely Arminian concept. At least he says openly that prayer
cannot cause God to change His mind. He means that if Christians

are in a right state of mind, then God will bestow His blessings upon
them when they pray.
        I do not think Finney realised that he was actually
contradicting his own thoughts. Only God can give Christians the
desire to pray, and it is only when this happens that corporate prayer
is genuine. It is wrong to say that we must begin to pray, add
emotion, and then we shall somehow achieve genuine prayer. Again,
we see a natural end to this thinking in the charismatic practice of
uttering rubbish in order to gain „tongues‟.
        Another aim of prayer meetings, claims Finney, is to convict
and convert sinners. Again, this is not found in scripture, for the Holy
Spirit must firstly regenerate sinners before they can even bother to
listen to the Gospel! The exciting of sinners is found in abundance in
massive charismatic meetings designed specifically to whip up
emotions. Is this a genuine godly movement? No, it is not.
        What I mean by this latter argument is that to hold a prayer
meeting particularly to excite sinners is a mistake. It is true that any
activity of God can begin the work of grace in a person (so long as
the Spirit has firstly regenerated him, that is), but the prayer meeting,
if it must take place, is an activity only for Believers. To have a prayer
meeting specifically to excite sinners is like designing Sunday
evening meetings to speak to the unsaved…meetings should be
aimed at saved men and women, not at unbelievers, because a
meeting of the church is just that.

Prayer Content
        What do prayers really say? Is there a purpose behind them
(in a prayer meeting, that is), or are they forgotten once said,
because they are just for the public and not from the heart? Only on
rare occasions have I come from a prayer meeting with the distinct
impression that something spiritual has happened.
        Needless to say, such occasions have always followed my
own bouts of inward, secret, personal prayers. They have rarely
arisen from the meeting itself. At these meetings my prayers were
almost invariably silent. When I did finally pray out loud it was often
the result of „psyching myself up‟ because I „ought‟ to pray. In other
words, they were false prayers. So, the prayer meeting itself made
no difference…and I know that all this will strike a chord of
recognition in many readers.
        Pastors should research this matter: are the feelings in a
prayer meeting to do with spiritual movements within one‟s own heart
– or do they arise from group encouragement, fostered by
psychological factors? Exactly the same process makes a cohesive
group out of soccer fans. Are these signs of God‟s prompting? We
all take too much for granted: have we ever wondered if our
„marvellous prayer times‟ in public are really of God? Or are they
products of human phenomena?
        A „sincere‟ prayer is not itself proof of spirituality or of a
spiritual motive. On the other hand, no prayer at all is not necessarily
a sign of backsliding. Many people who are heretics or apostate can

„pray‟ fluently and with great passion. Yet, their prayers are of Satan
or of their own minds. The fact that prayers sound „balanced‟ (how I
dislike that idea!) makes no difference, either.
        What sounds a beautiful offering to us, may be a stench in the
nostrils of our Holy God. The vilest of men can sound good in
prayer. So, if a pastor, or anyone else, judges a man‟s Christian
state by the content or construction of his public prayers, there is
something seriously wrong.
        Similarly, I have heard pastors boast that they can “know a
man from his bookshelf”. It seems to me that every man is an
amateur psychologist – I defy anyone to „know‟ me from my
        It is about time that Christians stopped using this phrase and
„method‟…I have even witnessed pastors snooping in a person‟s
bookshelf so as to form their opinion of him. Thus, the pastor bases
his whole perception of a man on a browse through his books!
        This is dangerous practice…on my shelf there are Mormon
„bibles‟, Hindu holy books, reports on pornography, letters from
homosexuals…I can hazard a guess as to the perception some
would have of me! All they would see are the titles – they would not
bother to ask me why I have them. I know this is true, because it has
        To me, all books (not including the Bible) are only for
reference and practical study purposes. I have no time for novels, for
the time is short. But if all you „see‟ of me are the titles, then my
reputation is lost!
        In the same way, listening to a man‟s prayers cannot be an
accurate way to sum up his spiritual state. Of course, good men can
pray good prayers – I am merely saying that we must be
careful…silence in a prayer meeting does not mean someone is
backsliding and „sound‟ prayers do not guarantee high spirituality.
        Let me put it this way, in the cold light of day – I know of
pastors who have prayed „soundly‟ in public just hours before beating
up their wives or before they had secret sexual meetings with other
women! People can pretend in any sphere of life, whether it is
spiritual or not.
        I rarely pray in public, in a prayer meeting. I certainly never
appreciate being told to pray. Yet, if I take a meeting, I am willing to
pray (although there have been one or two exceptions). Leading in
prayer on behalf of the congregation is well-documented in scripture.
It is not the same as the kind of prayers spoken in corporate prayer
meetings, or in private.
        In a prayer meeting I am very aware of being in front of God
Himself – as I am anywhere. People claim to come together with the
express purpose of speaking directly to God. Therefore, I am very,
very careful. This is why I rarely pray in public. Although all
churches insist on this public, generalised, getting-together-to-pray,
there is no real point to it. It is relatively easier for some to pray in
public, when everybody else is doing it (group dynamics again). But
is the result „prayer‟?

        I remember the times I have responded emotionally to the
prayers of others, even though I am not the easiest of persons to
respond in this way. Indeed, I am known for the control I exert over
my emotions. Now, if I, who am able to well-control his emotions, can
respond emotionally – what about the thousands who easily respond
emotionally? They will quickly „join in‟ the emotionally-charged
situation and become a part of it.
        Many, many Christians respond emotionally and not
spiritually. This is observable. Many Christians base their beliefs on
their emotions and will attend prayer meetings because of this
emotional „need‟. This can be witnessed when things they cherish
the most are challenged or upset – it is then that their real beliefs (or
not) can be seen in action. It is when we reach our weakest points
that we see if our beliefs can stand the test, or if they are just
        In prayer meetings, I often used to pray silently with others
who were praying. That is, I mentally repeated what was said. But
how valid is this? We all do it, but is it acceptable to God? Later we
will look at praying with „one accord‟…but the example above is not
praying with one accord! Can I be so busy hearing and repeating,
that I do not have time to digest and understand? Can I legitimately
„borrow‟ the prayers of others and apply them to myself (i.e. the
„carrion crow‟ syndrome)?
        Whenever I left a prayer meeting I always took out what I took
in – my own fears and doubts, my own requests and my own private
pleas to God. There is no way I could have shared these thoughts
with others. More importantly – God does not want us to do that,
        In many ways, the Finney we have already quoted previously,
made sensible comments on prayer in the article quoted. He points
to the practice of the „leader‟ reading a portion of scripture before
prayer begins. Rightly, he says that this should only consist of apt
texts that are given by God and are short. If none comes to mind of
the Spirit, then it is better to shut up. On that I can agree! He says
that to read a text just as a “matter of form” is an “insult to God”.
Again, I agree wholeheartedly.
        He said that the leader should explain what prayer is before
the session starts, together with reasons to pray, listing them before
the people. He bases this on the belief that we must concentrate our
thoughts before we can pray effectively. He says that this is the task
of the leader.
        Remarkably for an Arminian, he adds “It is of no use to stay
there and mock God by pretending to pray, when they have nothing
on earth to pray for.” Quite right. But, he does not seem to realise
that by prompting the people with his own list of topics, the leader is
supplanting the work of the Spirit. Either the people gathered with
one mind and with the same reason given by God, or it is all useless
and their prayers are worthless. True prayer is not produced by
„concentrating‟ thoughts, but is the product of God‟s mind permeating
our own.

        Finney says “One reason why prayer meetings mostly
accomplish so little, is because there is so little common sense
exercised about them. Instead of looking around for some solid
footing on which to repose their faith, people come together and pour
forth words, and neither know nor care whether they have any
reason to expect an answer.” Yet, this is what people do all around
the world every day – they collect for „prayer‟ because the rota says
so, and they „pray‟ without any true conviction other than emotion.
        Finney‟s paper encompasses many of the points I raise in this
chapter, but sadly his thinking is not the same as my own in many
ways. This does not mean that people who think differently are
inherently wrong. It means that he raises the proper queries but
answers them wrongly.
        For example, he says that the leader should designate who
should pray, calling on the “most spiritual” to speak first, so that his
example will cause others present to „catch‟ the emotion. This is not
true prayer, but mere emulation of another human being. And, as I
say elsewhere, those who usually stand first are those who pray the
same things every time, fluently but without God‟s calling.
        It is evidence not of God, but of human arrogance with a silver
tongue. I could continue with Finney‟s paper in detail, but it would not
serve a purpose in this book. I can say that his paper covers many
vital points and asks the right questions, but fails because his mind is
set on human endeavour. It would have been interesting to have
asked him to consider my objections, to see if he would have re-
thought his conclusions!
        Calvin was very aware of the need to be spiritually-minded
when praying and said “Let the first rule of right prayer then be, to
have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering
into converse with God.” (Institutes). Exactly. Most I have heard
usually enter into converse with each other, mindful of who in the
room is listening.
        “Foreign and extraneous cares must be dispelled” adds Calvin
as he warns not to bring “any of those things which our blind and
stupid reason is wont to devise” into the presence of God. He spoke
of leaving aside our own vanity and to “rise to a purity worthy of
God.” Without doubt, I would say that if Reformed men really
adhered to their reformation heroes, they would pray with purity!
        Many years before, Origen said “it is necessary not merely to
pray but also to pray as we ought and to pray what we ought. For
even though we are enabled to understand what we ought to pray,
that is not adequate if we do not add to it the right manner also.”
(„Origen on Prayer‟). Whether or not a Christian accepts the work of
Origen, what he says here is right.

More Questions
       What has been said above are the thoughts of countless
Believers, but they dare not articulate them within their own
churches. Are they all lax or backslidden? I doubt it very much. If

prayer meetings should exist, then we must ask several pertinent

      K.   Should they exist on a regular basis?
      K.   Should they be convened for special reasons only?
      K.   Should they exist as separate from other meetings
           or as part of them? And should these other
           be regular (i.e. repetitive) anyway?
      K. Should public prayers be made only at the prompting
           of the Holy Spirit, when necessary? (If so, then we
           must all learn what ‘prompting’ really is! So often,
           we attribute something to the Holy Spirit, when it is
           no such thing).
           There are many more questions.

        I find it difficult to understand, you see, how prayers can be
„ordered‟ for one hour on one weeknight (except for public holidays!).
To me, this is superstition and not praise or prayer. When I once
suggested to a good friend that the prayer meeting should be
discarded his appalled retort was “But if we do that, what else can we
put in its place?”
        That was no answer at all! When I replied “Nothing” he just
disagreed and walked off! Why should something replace the prayer
meeting, if it should not exist anyway? It is a very mechanistic way to
live a Christian life.
        This attitude treats prayer as though it were something apart
from life; as something one only does at certain times (as in Islam).
It does not comprehend what true prayer is, or the constant
communion (in all its variety) we must have with God.
        I have walked around my home chatting to God in prayer,
complete with nods of the head and waving of my arms, as though
walking next to a person. That‟s because He is „walking‟ next to me!
I have exclaimed just one word in an emergency, because there has
been no time for anything else.
        There have also been even more critical times when I have
been unable to think straight because of a pressing situation: in these
times the Holy Spirit promises to step in and mediate on our behalf,
saying those things we cannot speak.
        Thus, prayer need not be vocal and need not be known in
terms of thoughts…when God accepts prayers we are not aware of
sending. This is when our spirit communes directly with the Holy
Spirit. (Read Romans). Yes, prayer takes on many forms – some
unknown to many Christians.
        Prayers-to-order are not true prayers and have no worth,
except as human therapy. Yet, Christians are made to feel inferior if
they cannot muster prayers at a prayer meeting. Some do not attend
for this very reason. (Pastors and leaders may not intend to make
people feel this way, but they nevertheless do so by inference).

       Others may attend because it gives a feeling of spiritual
superiority. Again, this may not be the intention, but it is certainly
projected. This all suggests that „prayer‟ can be a magical rite or a
social norm. It is definitely not open and honest communion with

Corporate Prayer
        In all the Biblical references to „prayer‟ and to similar words
(pray, etc.), I cannot find substantial – or even flimsy – evidence to
support prayer meetings as we know them today.
        There is much evidence for prayers being used as a part of
other activities, though. The overall picture seems to be that of
individuals talking privately to God, their prayers being first prompted
by God. Thus anything else must be sheer garble.
        In prayer, as in any other spiritual activity, there is no such
thing as a „cavalier‟ action – we cannot just „have a go‟, or „try our
best‟. The suggestion that “We should just start to say something
and the Lord will fill our mouths” is not Biblical (in this context). The
idea is not mature and it ignores the mind and the spirit. It forgets
that the devil would just love us to simply „open our mouths‟, for he
has plenty to fill them with!
        It is a mindless activity…if we rely on it we may as well rely on
Christmas Cracker verses, or those boxes of ready Bible texts where
we pick one out at random and tell ourselves that God is speaking to
us! We may as well spin a Buddhist prayer-wheel! No, all this is
spiritual deadwood. It sends us toward Satan, not toward God.
        A prayer is real only if it is first given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Otherwise it must be either of ourselves or of Satan. If it is not of
God, then He will not listen to us. „Having-a-go‟ has no place in the
Christian life, whether in prayer or in any other activity (e.g. door-to-
door work, witnessing, etc.).
        I simply do not understand what our churches mean by
„corporate prayer‟. And, I suspect, neither do they! I know what I
have been told it is and what I have read about it in books. But that
is as far as it goes.
        I have no firm Biblical understanding of it from scripture, which
is why I am so suspicious of it today. We all refer to it and all talk
about it and many of us do it. But very few of us have thought about
it. We accept the existence of prayer meetings because we have
always done so and for no other reason.
        In scripture (the AV) seven words directly refer to the subject:

    Pray, Prayer, Prayest, Prayeth, Praying, Prayed, Prayers.

       Together, these words appear 510 times in the Old and the
New Testaments combined. A breakdown of their uses is given later
in the Article. (There are other references to prayer that do not use
these actual words, but they also appear to follow the same pattern).
       We must never pick out texts that „prove‟ our beliefs and reject
those that do not. We must see if the meanings of texts are

supported by other texts, or if these other texts oppose the meaning
we have given them. Apart from that, we must also check the whole
ethos of the Bible. This gives us the atmosphere or setting of our
texts. That is, their context. In all this I find nothing to support
modern-day ideas of corporate prayer.
        What, then, do we base prayer meetings on? Yes, there are
texts that speak of getting together to pray, but these texts do not
support the use of modern-day prayer meetings.
        The majority of uses for the word „pray‟ are found in the Old
Testament and these uses have nothing at all to do with our idea of
„prayer‟! Instead, it is used as an ordinary form of greeting. There
are rare exceptions to this. At no time did it refer to prayer-
communications between a group, or between a group and God.
        It is hard to see how personal prayer can be „shared‟
corporately.    Even a public prayer made on behalf of the
congregation by a pastor is not a personal or a corporate prayer, but
is a formalised prayer, representative of the congregation, but with no
other application.

Biblical Warrant
       An example of texts that refer to prayer but that do not use
any of the usual seven words referred to above, is found in 2
Chronicles 20. This is typical of prayer made by a leader on behalf of
(not corporately with) the people. It cannot, then, be used as
evidence in support of corporate prayer. There are many more
examples like this. Most Biblical examples of praying refer to prayer
made on behalf of others, or made in private for a very special
       So where, then, is our Biblical warrant for prayer meetings?
There is certainly no direct evidence of commands to meet together
for corporate prayers in the form we now have them.
       In scripture, texts that tell of prayer between God and a man
usually assume a highly personal form, such as „beseeching‟ or
„pleading‟. This cannot be done, week after week, in a roomful of
people whose spiritual states and temperatures differ so widely from
hot to near-freezing! How can wayward hearts possibly „join in‟ the
true prayer of an earnest heart? It is not possible. Nor can a
personal, earnest, prayer be shared.

Wonderful times Are Not Proof
        A reader may retort that he has had „wonderful times‟ in prayer
meetings. I cannot deny that, of course. But, having a „wonderful
time‟ is not necessarily proof that something is of God. People have
a „wonderful time‟ getting drunk, or of being high on drugs, or by
indulging in orgies of illicit sex! Satan can counterfeit anything,
including having „wonderful times‟ in prayer meetings…and even
prayer itself.
        Another problem I have with corporate meetings is the way the
Holy Spirit is „called down‟. All of us who preach have done this at

one time or another, almost as a matter of course. We have all
prayed for “The Holy Spirit to come down amongst us”.
        If you think about it, this is nothing more than ordering God
around for our own convenience and is akin to the „calling down‟ of
Christ by Roman Catholic priests during the Mass and, more
recently, like the evil practices of charismatics. It also neglects the
fact that the Holy Spirit is already in each one who is saved. To say
that He „comes down‟ (and by implication, goes „back up‟ again) is
not theological truth.
        It is true that we feel the presence of God more keenly at
certain times. This, however, appears to be more a sign of our
spiritual awareness and spiritual state than of the Holy Spirit „coming
down‟. He is always with us, even when we do not realise it.
Otherwise, we are really saying that God is NOT WITH US, except in
prayer meetings when He is „called down‟. There are serious flaws in
the act and attitude of „calling down‟ the Holy Spirit.
        In the past I have been in meetings (particularly those very
large American-evangelism, or Pentecostal-type meetings) where it
has been claimed that the Holy Spirit “moved in a mighty way”…but
where I was distinctly unmoved! How can this be explained? By
going back to the old „backslider‟ charge? No – let us question things
more closely…such as the hyping of the audience, especially
amongst charismatics.
        Anticipation is heightened and emotional excitement is
fostered by use of music and carefully constructed speech. Ever
tried „proving‟ that Father Christmas visits children? It is fairly easy to
convince them that Santa is on the roof…hear the bells? Hear the
clatter of reindeer hooves on the roof? Hear the soot falling down the
        Oh, look! There goes the sleigh in the night sky…see it kids?
Yes, they do see it…there it goes…wow! Such is their expectation,
they actually „see‟ the sleigh and „hear‟ its sounds! They believe it
happened because you have carefully built up their expectations.
        When similar tactics are used in large meetings, I have no
time for them. If God is there, then He is there – no need for hype or
emotional charging! It is strange that some „feel‟ the so-called
Presence of God at these meetings whilst others, sincere Christians,
do not. To claim that it is due to their coldness of heart is not
sufficient, or fair.
        On the Day of Pentecost the room the disciples were in shook
with God‟s Presence! Things were blown about by the wind
accompanying His Presence. There was no mistake about it, it was
so obvious. Yet, power-preachers insist that the Holy Spirit „comes
down‟ in a mighty way amongst us…yet leaving many untouched?
This is not acceptable. (We must not swing the other way – meetings
held by the heretic Benny Hinn contain many examples of movement
and mass influence, but not of God).
        Satan can invent a spiritual response in us (particularly if we
never question what happens). I am sure that this is what happened
in those meetings I attended, where the name of Jesus was chanted

again and again, like an Hindu mantra. Then, after this repetition,
„He comes down‟!
        This is credulity stretched beyond normal limits. It is nothing
less than auto-suggestion/self-hypnotism dressed in dubious
„spiritual‟ clothing. At such times I feel the chill of evil in the air. This
can happen in the most sincere of Christian meetings, so even a
prayer meeting must be discerned.
        Feelings have their place in worship and in prayer, but they
must never rule these activities. Unless the feelings are direct from
God, they prevent true prayer taking place. It is better to be silent
than to „pray‟ a non-prayer under the guise of public prayer.
        The greatest giants of the Church have all spoken of the
toughness of prayer and of their inner traumas when praying.
Personally, I do not understand those who say it is „so easy‟ to pray.
Yet, many Christians today say they always „enjoy‟ prayer as though
it were some sort of game. They have a prayer for every occasion,
        This is a danger pastors should watch out for…because a
prayer is „always‟ done at a particular point or for a particular event, it
does NOT mean we must always pray. A holy silence is better than
wrongful prayer in public. I am always wary of those who find it
„easy‟ to pray. It should be repeated – Satan is a Master-

Does Intent Matter?
        In law, much depends on the intent of the accused. If he is
found guilty of a crime his intent does not absolve him from the
penalty, but it can affect the extent and the severity of the penalty. It
can sometimes lead to a dismissal of the penalty or some other
judgement of mercy. But he is guilty whether or not he intended to
commit the crime.
        Does this principle apply here? Does the validity of a prayer
meeting depend on the intentions of the people who pray, even if the
outcome is not as holy as the intention? We are told that where two
or three are gathered together in His Name, then that is where God is
to be found. However, we should examine that text again, for it does
not refer specifically to prayer meetings at all. Also, this promise is to
those who gather „in His Name‟. It is not a promise divorced from
        I have attended prayer meetings where the pastor or some of
the members were bitter, where human feelings were obviously to
the fore. In no way can they offer true prayer at that time. Also, the
promise (re two or three gathered) cannot apply if many of those
present are unsaved or if Christians are cold toward Him or toward
each other.
        What happens in a meeting if only ONE person is in a right
state to pray (or is there a „fit state‟?)? What if he alone is properly
communing with God and all the others are cold or spiritually
rebellious? Does this mean that God is NOT in their midst but only
with that one man? In that case, such a meeting is invalid and

should never have taken place. If such coldness continues, should
that one man keep returning to such a barren place – or should he
come out, like Lot?
       On the other hand, is intent a side issue? Is the real value to
be found in coming together – even if everyone is cold? That is, will
God bless meetings simply because everybody is meeting together?
Is mere duty blessed? After all, many prayer (and other) meetings
are attended out of duty, not love.

Prayer Menu
        I am not the only one concerned. I know there are pastors
and others who are just as concerned about the same thing. Why,
then, is the situation carrying on? Could it be like the Annual
Congress meetings in the time of Stalin? When he finished his
speech everyone had to stand and clap, whether or not they wanted
        The clapping went on for many hours, because everybody
was afraid to be the first to stop! Those who stopped first were
reported and were subsequently sent off to a labour camp. The
same mentality occurs in our churches (but in „love‟ of course): no-
one wants to be the first to raise an issue, for fear of the
consequences of being branded an heretic or a backslider!
        In many churches pastors, realising a need for change, issue
what amounts to a „prayer menu‟ of priorities, thinking it will help.
Others say “Don‟t pray-around-the-world tonight – we must pray
for…” and a list of items is issued. This, however, is wrong. The
pastor is substituting one formula for another. It is mechanical and
not Spirit-led.
        How can a pastor tell a group what to pray for, or how to pray?
Maybe the Holy Spirit is telling the pastor himself what to privately
pray for, but that does not mean everybody else must pray for the
same things.
        A menu can be false. It removes individual discernment and
prompting. At one meeting, we were told exactly what to pray for – a
special meeting to be held the following year. A team of „evangelists‟
were to visit to help „soften-up‟ the locality for our own „big push‟.
Then members were asked to vote on what was already a decided
issue…and afterward to „pray about it‟.
        But pray about what? Some of us refused to do so, because
we felt it was unbiblical. We were asking outsiders to do our own
work, thinking that somehow everything would be wonderful after
they had left. What would we have? We would still have a church
full of cold and unresponsive Believers, who would then be expected
to provide „back-up‟ for the departing team.
        Thus the whole church „prayed‟ for the event, except for four
of us who dissented. If the issue being prayed for was invalid – then
surely the whole prayer meeting itself was invalid? In this case the
„prayer menu‟ was just a tool of manipulation, to guide members
along a predetermined human path of action. That is shoddy and
underhanded and not of God.

The Prayer Meeting
        When a person prays in a prayer meeting, is his or her prayer
representative? Is it said on behalf of all others present? We must
remember that each person stands alone before God. Can, then, the
prayers of a righteous man „cover‟ all those others whose intentions
are impure and unrighteous?
        If we say that the prayers of a righteous man do cover others
of bad intent, then we fall into the Roman Catholic trap, who use
priests as intercessors (or, rather, as stumbling blocks and
interferers) and as absolvers of sin. This is very close to the setting
up of hierarchies (which almost every church informally has
anyway!), where one man is supposed to be „holy‟ and whose „faith‟
covers the failings of everyone else. „Leaders‟ should not, therefore,
try to force a congregation along a desired path – there are too many
errors of presumption and pride to fall into.
        If an individual prayer cannot thus „cover‟ everyone else, then
what is a prayer meeting (where prayers are said in public) actually
for? Let us assume that everyone in a room prays. I have not
personally attended a meeting where a single theme is adhered to, at
least not to the same degree of earnestness or even with a show of
real interest on the part of many. Rather, everyone „prays‟ exactly as
he or she wishes and much of what they say can be deemed „private‟
to the person who prays.
        Others DO „pray around the world‟ without ever being specific.
These „universal‟ prayers say everything and yet nothing and, frankly,
I see no justification in saying them: they are bland and impersonal,
reflecting the fact that the person has nothing really to pray for!
Instead, it is easier to „pray‟ generally, using a format, than to pray
from the heart as led by the Holy Spirit.
        If each real prayer is personal, then what is the reason for
coming together in the first place? If each of these prayers is
supposed to be a personal encounter between an individual and
God, then where do others fit into the picture? Where is the
mandate? I strongly propose that „corporate prayer‟ does not exist,
but is just a play on words, a fumbling through traditional activities, a
pretence of corporateness stretched over a layer of individual
        A dangerous concept now enters the scene. Frequently, I
have heard the suggestion that gathering together „concentrates‟
prayer and its „power‟ (as though the act of prayer itself had power,
rather than the power coming from God). Let us be rid of this
        At its extreme it is heresy. Exactly the same idea is found
amongst witches in their covens, mediums in their trances, cult
priests in their rites, Hindus in their group mantras, and so on. When
we say that prayer is more „concentrated‟ or efficacious and made
more powerful by geographic proximity, we are in immediate danger
of making prayer occult, magical, mythical. This is the sum total of
charismatic groups who travel to a particular geographic site to

„concentrate‟ prayer against demons they claim are „in control‟ of the
area (so-called „territorial spirits‟).
        We thus limit God‟s power and God Himself, to one spot on
the globe and to one group of people who have the power to control
Him. None of this is in the minds or hearts of those who thus pray
(except for charismatics) – but it is definitely in their actions, intended
or not.
        God is omnipresent. It is absurd to imply that we can pin Him
down to one place on earth. Or, that He cannot hear us too well
unless we all pray together physically. Placing our bodies in close
proximity does not make our prayers more potent! The prayers of
one righteous man alone in his own home, is worth more than the
fervent pseudo-prayers of 100 men packed into a small church room.
The power of prayer is vested in the Holy Spirit, not in physical
proximity, or in meeting once a week at a particular time.
        We must not be like occultists and cultists. We do not need
physical concentration for prayer to „work‟. The only workable
prayers are true prayers…where God first prompts us to pray, then
we pray the prayer – God hears it because we „pray aright‟ and
because it was prompted by Him in the first place. Anything else is a
delusion and is sin. It is only this authoritative prayer that works and
has power.
        The Lord does not just know what we are praying tonight, but
He also knows what we will pray tomorrow. He knows our every
thought, even before we start to think it. So, why do we try to limit
Him to a single weeknight service and to meagre, dutiful, human
words? The simple, individual prayers of righteous men all over the
world are a „prayer meeting‟!
        There is no guarantee that God will prompt people to pray
simply because they have gathered together for what they call a
„prayer meeting‟. If God does not prompt people to pray, does this
mean the meeting is a failure? Any „failure‟ is on the part of men, not
God. So, how can we honestly meet together for the express
purpose of „praying‟, when there is no prompting of God to meet, let
alone to pray? Should not prayer be a part of meetings – and only if
those who pray are genuinely called to do so?
        I know of people who gather in very small groups to pray.
They believe that their desire to pray is somehow thwarted by their
churches. But, what are they really doing? Are they truly praying in
unity? Is there some serious and all-pervasive reason to thus pray on
a regular basis? No, there is not. They just feel better by praying.
But, if prayer meetings (of any size) have no Biblical mandate from
God, their meeting, though well-intentioned, is of no value and can
even be a sin.

Meanings of „Prayer‟ in the Bible
      Emphasis and actual meaning of each word depends on
context – the texts and the situations they are used in. However, in
most cases there is a general unity in their meanings. As an

example, some of the possible meanings of the word „pray‟ are cited

                          OLD TESTAMENT
     Incitement and entreaty, e.g. “I beseech you”, “oh”.
  (Note: The word most used for „pray‟ is nâ‟. It is usually used as a
  request between two persons, in the same way as we might say
  “Would you please do me a favour?” Therefore, it has nothing to do
  with prayer meetings or with prayer as we know it today)
     To judge; intercede; make supplication.
     Used as a wish, e.g. “I would that”, “I pray thee”, “would God
       that”, etc.
* To stoop to kindness to an inferior; to favour, or to bestow; to
  implore; grant graciously; be merciful, etc.
     To be weak/sick/afflicted, or to grieve or to make sick. Make
       prayer or be sorry; woman in travail; be wounded, etc.
     To impinge by accident/violence, or by importunity; to come
       between; cause to entreat; make intercession; intercessor;
       meet together; come upon; reach/run, etc.
  (Note: The word used for „meet together‟ above is pâga„. It occurs
  only once, in Job 21:15, when the question is asked “What profit
  should we have, if we pray unto him?” Thus, this term cannot be
  used as a proof-text for corporate prayer meetings).

                           NEW TESTAMENT
    To supplicate (pray to God); worship; to pray earnestly.
    To beg/petition/beseech; pray to; make request to, etc.
    To call near; invite; invoke; call for; exhort, etc.
    To interrogate/request; ask.
    To wish/pray to God.
 It can be seen that New Testament meanings are close to Old
 Testament meanings.
       The various derivatives of „pray‟ (prayer, etc.) have virtually
 the same meanings. Note, also, that certain words are used
 interchangeably. An example is pâlal, which is used for „pray‟,
 „prayer‟, „prayeth‟, „praying‟ and „prayed‟!

       Interesting as such facts may be, meanings cannot be
separated from their usage. That is, how words are used in their
contexts. Thus, after examining each of the 510 texts that contained
the seven words shown above, I then examined how they were used.
The following headings or categories were used.

             P+P           Between human person and human
                           person, e.g. two people talking to each
                           other, or similar.
             P+A           Between an human person and an angel.

               P+G           Between an human person and God the
               P+J           Between an human person and Jesus.
               P+P(J)        Reported speech of Jesus, e.g. as He
                             prayed to God the Father.
               J+G           Between Jesus and God the Father.
                             (Note that none of these refer to groups of

        Perhaps the reader thinks I am merely playing with words. Let
me explain…I am looking for support for prayer meetings, or
evidence against them. To this juncture, the actual meanings of the
words „pray‟, etc., do not provide conclusive proof either way. So
now I am looking at these same words in their contexts; the
situations in which they were used.
        If they are used in situations we can call „corporate‟ then we
can deduce there may be a place for modern-day prayer meetings.
The following, then, is a brief analysis of the various usages. Not all
usages are shown, but I can assure readers that nothing important
has been missed out. (To avoid duplication some usages have been
grouped together):

            Classification              No. Times Used (Approx.)
                             Old Testament
P+P                                    188
P+A                                    6
P+G                                    25
                             New Testament
P+P                                    100
P+A                                    1
P + P (J)                              42
J+G                                    3

       From this analysis we can see that when „pray‟ is used, it
mostly refers to two human individuals (P+P). In the Old Testament,
the main usage is in the term “I pray thee”, which has nothing to do
with corporate prayer. In the New Testament, this same terminology
is used 100 times.
       The other usages follow a similar pattern. Most of them
(nearly all) refer to just two people talking to each other and include
Jesus talking with an individual and Jesus talking with God the
       Where speech from Jesus‟ lips is reported it usually refers to
Him speaking to God…ALONE. Throughout, then, we are reading of
personal encounters and not of corporate situations. This means we
cannot appeal to any of these words to support corporateness in
prayer. It would seem, then, that support comes from tradition only.

Possible Exceptions
         There appear to be exceptions to all this, that might refer to
corporate prayer. These are shown below. Not all the cases are
given – just sufficient to prove the point. Remember that these
usages are the exception in scripture.
         Look at Numbers 21:7. Here people are gathered in large
groups, but only one man prays – Moses prays on behalf of the
people. The closest parallel today is when a preacher prays a
benediction or mid-service prayer.
         The form of „pray‟ used in the Moses example is pâlal,
meaning a one-to-one prayer. The same kind of thing is seen in
many other situations, such as in 1 Samuel 7:5, where Samuel prays
on behalf of the people.
         Later, in verse eight, Israel begs him to pray for them (it
means exactly the same thing). This is NOT corporate prayer as we
perceive it today. Indeed, I believe the word „corporate‟ is a
         It is misleading – it is impossible to pray corporately, unless
every person uses exactly the same kinds of words and the same
concepts and has the same frame of mind and heart at exactly the
same time! Even if this happened, if it was executed regularly it
would be „vain repetition‟ and would not be true prayer.
         We find that Jesus usually took Himself away from people to
pray. Even when the disciples accompanied Him, He took Himself a
little further away from them so that He could pray alone. The only
time He appears to have prayed publicly was when He performed a
specific task, such as a public miracle.
         When we come to the prayers of the publican and the
Pharisee, although they are both engaged in prayer, they are not
praying corporately. Even in 1 Corinthians 14, it is not clear if
corporate prayer is alluded to, even though the text does speak of
„meeting together‟.
         We certainly are commanded to meet together, but we should
not thereby assume that this means we must pray together, or to do
it regularly. To do so would be to make the classic mistake of
projecting a specific instance into a general concept.              What
happened in one instance does not necessarily apply to all instances.
An extreme example would be to say that we can all raise the dead
because Jesus raised Lazarus.
         If we followed Jesus‟ example, then we would never hold
corporate prayer meetings. I remember the Christian who read the
original draft of this article some years ago and said “I agree with
what you say…but what do you put in the place of prayer meetings?”.
         The answer is simple, but it eluded him – we put NOTHING in
its place! We have no command or justification to fill a space in the
local church‟s social week, just for the sake of it. Nor are we to install
another „meeting‟ to take the place of a meeting that was invalid to
begin with!
         Another vital clue is found in Matthew, where we are told not
to use vain repetitions (Greek: „empty words‟!). James 5:14 speaks

of elders (pastors) praying together AS ELDERS, ON BEHALF OF
OTHERS (in this case, sick persons).
       Again, this is a public prayer but for a SPECIFIC PURPOSE.
On the other hand, it does not say whether or not other Believers
were present. In this passage, the elders were called together just
as the old leaders called together the tribes of Israel, for particular
purposes and not just out of habit!

        We must be careful how we read texts, too. In Acts 20:36, for
example, we are told that Paul “prayed with them all”. At first sight, it
seems that he prayed in a prayer meeting. But the Greek text puts it
this way: “Kneeling down with all (of them) he prayed.”
        Now, this could mean either that they all prayed together, or
that Paul prayed on their behalf. (The latter appears to be the most
appropriate). Therefore, this text cannot be used in support of
regular, corporate prayer meetings, either.
        Matthew 6:1-8 provides the most striking picture of prayer. In
verses five and six we are told to pray where others cannot see or
hear us! How do we reconcile this with prayer meetings?
        The passage begins with a warning about giving and
continues with the same warning when discussing the matter of
prayer. In both cases a public show is deplored and rejected by
        The word used for prayer here is proseuchomai, meaning to
make supplication to God and to worship Him. The word comes from
pros, which effectively means to „draw near to‟. It is also linked with
the word euchomai, which speaks of the wish to pray to God. All of
this is highly private.
        The word proseuchomai occurs only in this passage. The
word „secret‟ (kruptos) used in this text entirely supports the idea of
personal, private prayer. Kruptos means „concealed‟ or „private and
hidden‟ or „inward‟ (possibly referring to silent prayer).
        This word comes from the root verb „krupto‟, meaning „to
conceal oneself; to cover; to hide oneself and to keep secret‟. These
words are strongly distinct and cannot be interpreted in any other
        It must be remembered that Jesus Christ said these things.
How are we to take it all? Obviously, Jesus meant His words to be
taken exactly as they were spoken, as law or command. Our task,
then, is to see if the concept of corporate prayer can reconcile itself
to this unique command of Jesus Christ. Again, I must repeat, the
words for „prayest‟ and „secret‟ cannot possibly be interpreted in
various, alternative ways, because they have pre-defined, specific
        So, we are commanded to pray in private, in our own closet or
room. The reason for this has already been touched upon – God
does not like hypocrisy. Hypocrisy includes praying out of mere duty
and praying so that others may hear us being (outwardly) pious.
        Thus, whoever deals with this matter of prayer meetings must
first deal carefully with this direct, unambiguous command of Jesus

Christ. It cannot be ignored. Some have agreed with the general
tone and content of the above arguments, but the same readers add
“I do not necessarily agree with all your conclusions”. Interestingly,
they do not tell me what parts they do not agree with! Is this because
of a regard for tradition or because of sound theological reasoning? I
have been very specific – it is reasonable to expect that critics should
be just as specific…or is their objection only emotional?

         In some of the instances above and in other cases not
mentioned here, the words „we‟ and „brethren‟ are used. But this is
not an indication that people must gather together to pray as a
regular matter of course.
         In Acts 1:14 for example, we see that disciples met and
prayed together “with one accord” (homothumodon). This does not
necessarily mean that they all prayed together in the same room.
Homothumodon means „unanimously‟ or „with one mind‟. That is,
they were all in agreement!
         But there is far more to it than that – it means that the Holy
Spirit had filled their hearts with exactly the same message and
prompting. Thus they all prayed about exactly the same thing, at the
same time. It was as though the whole group had the „same (single)
mind‟ but still had their different bodies. There is no way we most of
us can honestly claim this has happened in any prayer meeting we
have ever attended!
         (To return to Origen again…”Such are the prayers, which are
really spiritual because the spirit was praying in the heart of the
saints…they are full of unutterably wonderful declarations”. “these
are prayers which, because (true) prayers (are) made and spoken
with the spirit, are also full of the declarations of the wisdom of
God…” Chapter one).
         Homothumodon comes from the word homou, meaning
„same‟. It is similar to the word hama, meaning to be „close to‟. In
these several meanings there is also the element of physical
proximity. But, taken as a whole, they refer to the gathering together
of Believers for one specific purpose and with one spiritual mind.
         This is further supported by another root of homothumodon –
thumos – meaning „passion‟. The depth and reality of this passion is
seen in the root of thumos itself, which is thuo. It refers to killing, or
sacrifice, or breathing hard! Do we see this kind of intensity and
passion in modern prayer meetings? (In some there is plenty of
passion – but of an human kind, generated by emotions). No, we do
         Finally, the words discussed above are all linked with the word
„spirit‟ (psuche), which takes us right back to Matthew where Jesus
says we must pray in the spirit (privately). Taken as a whole, then,
praying is an intense, private activity, between one person and God.
         Even if, after the evidence shown, we are still keen to maintain
prayer meetings, we should note that everywhere (to my knowledge)
that praying-together is mentioned in the Bible, the above facts hold
true – that people prayed together for specific purposes and in the

deepest and most profound of spiritual senses (i.e. they were of „one
mind‟). Note that “with one accord” can include the concept of
praying with the heart, i.e. silently or inwardly.
        From all this readers can see why I question the whole idea of
corporate prayer as we now know it. There are only one or two texts
that might refer to corporate prayer, but they are open to other
        These exceptions are unlikely to refer to open, public, audible
prayers made by everyone in a meeting. They certainly DO NOT
refer to regularly-held „prayer meetings‟ (that deal with almost every
topic under the sun). Nor do prayer meetings rest easily alongside
the command of Jesus Christ in Matthew. There is absolutely no link
between the two.

        I have seen (and felt) the coldness of prayer meetings. My
questions arise out of concern. If prayer meetings exist according to
scriptural definition – THEN WHERE ARE THEY? Everyone claims
to attend or to hold the best prayer meetings!
        Everyone claims to hold prayer meetings of the kind I never
see (I don‟t intend attending them to find out…I‟ve already done that,
too many times)! Everyone claims that their prayer meetings are
truly of God and are filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit…they
have even claimed this in meetings I have attended!
        In many cases such claims have been the result of personal
opinion and emotional ecstasy. Take away the emotion and there is
nothing left. Such bias can grow out of loyalty to the local fellowship,
or from a prejudiced view of what spirituality is…it is all personal
opinion, not scriptural fact or true evidence.
        What we feel in a prayer meeting is not necessarily proof of
Holy Spirit involvement or of Biblical Truth. Ultimately, it is irrelevant
how „wonderful‟ our prayer meetings are, or how „blessed‟ we think
we are by them – if prayer meetings as we now know them should
not exist, then that is the end of the story; how we feel about it is
beside the point and superfluous! It is all personal opinion and no
        Readers are reminded that Satan can manufacture or
counterfeit „spiritual‟ atmospheres and that many cults claim
marvellous things for their prayer meetings.
        To this point in time, then, I cannot find proof in support of
prayer meetings as we now know them. I would add the following:

        There is no evidence in support of regularly-held meetings
          that are convened especially for prayer, or for prayer-
          sessions within any other kind of meeting (e.g. Bible
          studies) that are held on a regular basis.
        Of all the references I have studied concerning prayer in
          the Bible, there are no evidences to suggest that prayer
          meetings were ever held except for specific purposes and
          “with one mind”.

            Jesus Himself tells us to pray in private.

        I do not presume to have all the answers, because I know I do
not have them. It is now up to the reader to check what has been
said and to come to an honest conclusion. We cannot rely on our
feelings, or (especially) our traditions. The Bible is our only and
ultimate source of authority. Even if prayer meetings are a product of
tradition, so long as that tradition is solidly based on scripture, then it
is valid.
        Our traditions, then, must be in concert with the whole of
scripture. We must not use isolated texts, or favoured interpretations
that contradict original meanings, just to support our own ideas. That
is what cults do! With prayer, we must face the fact found in Matthew
– that Jesus tells us to pray in private.
        We must examine what we mean by „corporate‟. If it simply
means that people gather together because they are expected to,
and they all pray about different things (with varying degrees of
sincerity) then I am firmly against that. It is a pointless exercise – we
can do that in our own closets.
        So, does „corporate‟ mean something else? Does it mean to
pray as Samuel did, on behalf of others? In that case, everyone
listens and assents with „Amen‟. But that is not „corporate‟ prayer – it
is representative prayer. (Note: the term „corporate‟ prayer is not
found in scripture).
        Even if this is what „corporate‟ prayer is, it must not
degenerate into a weekly event, because that would not fit the
Biblical pattern. It does not fit the Biblical pattern because there is no
pattern! Rather, prayers were ad hoc when done publicly. They
were never unclear or ambiguous and always had a single, specific
purpose – unlike our rambling and erroneous prayer meetings today.

        By implication we should ask similar questions about all our
other meetings. We are commanded to meet together, although we
are not told exactly what to do when we meet. But all these questions
get us nowhere. We need action on this issue. I am sure that God
prefers to see sincere, flawed action to perfect inactivity!
        If we suspect or know that something is wrong and we do
nothing about it, then we are guilty of sin. Possibly drastic changes
are necessary within our churches. But can we face up to them?
Surely God is praised and glorified by such discernment? Surely, it
is a sign of vital, committed Christianity? And it is also possible that if
we threw away our useless traditions, God would then place upon us
true „one mind‟ prayers that legitimise meeting together for prayer –
fairly often, but not regularly.
        We must not change things for the sake of it, nor must we
make changes to be „modern‟. We must change to be closer to what
God wants us to be. I do not wish to „go back to Apostolic days‟ (as
some groups wish to do), because those days are past.
        But, what we have today is dead, or almost dead. We carry a
dead body called „prayer meeting‟ and we need to bury it. When will

we come out of our stupor? Spiritual lives are groaning under the
weight of a false church life. What are YOU going to do about it?
         Knowledge brings responsibility. Now that you know the
argument made in this book, you must face the consequences. This
is a deliberate operation of the Holy Spirit – we cannot be told of
something and then ignore it or „forget‟ about it because it raises
difficult issues. Talk deeply about this topic. Look for the Biblical.
Forget your traditions or your emotional ties to the prayer meeting.
         God says that He honours those who honour Him. Do we
honour Him in our prayer meetings? I do not think so. If, after you
have checked my argument, you come to the same conclusions, then
you have only one course of action open to you – change! It is
change for the good and to the Glory of God.

        Firstly, readers must understand what „criticism‟ is. Criticism
is often regarded as being destructive. So, critics are thought to be
bad people, only out to destroy. This is a misinterpretation of the
facts. True criticism is always constructive, even if it comes to
conclusions we do not like.
        Destructive criticism is really a contradiction in terms. True
criticism examines, observes the facts and arrives at reasonable
conclusions based on those facts. In itself this is not destructive,
even if some of the conclusions are „negative‟. „Destructive criticism‟
is really another term for „prejudiced reasoning‟, whereby a person
ignores the facts and only looks at the matter with an opinionated
        Churches and individual Christians must never be afraid of
true criticism. Christian criticism is an evaluation of spiritual facts.
This is a legitimate role of theology and it is constructive. It is a
function of discernment and is given to us by authority of the
command to „test the spirits‟.
        Well, I have critically examined prayer meetings. The reader
must now respond by asking a number of questions:

            Is the prayer meeting valid?
            If it is, then what form should it take?
            If it is invalid, then is attendance also invalid?
            If attendance is invalid, is it also sinful?

        Pastors, too, must honestly face these questions, just as his
(God‟s) flock must support him as he attempts to grapple with these
and other weighty issues. We must all examine the content and
„style‟ of our meetings…and must ask the same question as before –
are they valid?
        These questions are not the sole property of theologians, or of
pastors and deacons. Every Believer has the right and the need to
ask questions – and to want answers. The sheer formality and
structure of many meetings dampens vigour and probably frightens
off newcomers to the faith. Even those churches that claim to be

„free‟ or „spirit led‟ and informal tend toward a rigid structure after a
short while.
        Thus the need to question is always present. Where is
spiritual life? Where is the attractive magnetism of open, overflowing
power and love? No, I am not talking about the glazed-eye
romanticism found amongst certain brethren who claim certain gifts,
where frenetic activities take the place of true spiritual growth!
        There should be more spiritual informality (not chaos or
anarchy, where everybody leads: there can be no such thing as
democracy in churches)…the kind that comes from allowing the Holy
Spirit to do as He wishes. After all, the local church is not a business
with bosses and workers, even if that is what it looks like! It is a
congregation of equals, pastor included.
        The pastor need not always lead, because that is not his
function. He may, along with others called to do so, oversee
proceedings to ensure that the flock do not harm themselves. There
will be many occasions when his leading is not required or
        Most pastors assume a breadth of role not apportioned to
them by God. How often have I heard pastors say that others do not
recognise their authority – but they are not in a position of absolute
power, nor are they bosses…although that is how many Christians
treat them.
        This writer believes prayer should be a part of life in a general
sense. That is, prayer should be made as and when needed
(„without ceasing‟), not according to a fixed calendar of meetings.
Public prayer should be specific and only made by those called by
God to pray.
        When public, prayers should be representative…but a „round‟
of prayers should not be sought, for this brings the danger of
unsolicited, improper prayer, which is not prompted by God and is
not desired by the one praying.
        Public prayer must be clearly prompted by the Holy Spirit.
How do we know the difference between prompted prayer and
human prayer? The difference is overwhelming and unmistakable!
Indeed, if you have to ask the question, then you have never known
true public prayer.
        The pastor or other person who may offer representative
prayer should only do so if prompted by God. If not prompted, then
do not pray. It is as simple as that.
        There must be more, real, inter-relating; fellow Believers must
get to know each other properly (Believers should have no continuing
social contact with unbelievers – we should find our friends amongst
other Believers). God‟s rule must flow into every sphere of our lives,
including church, work, play, politics, social activities and so on.
        People must be encouraged to voice their legitimate doubts
and fears; we must all examine Truth together. Pastors and teachers
must not expect or seek blind obedience, nor should they expect to
talk and then sit down. The congregation have the right to ask

questions and to make comments, whether it is a Sunday sermon or
a mid-week Bible study.
        Pastors should not think of sermons as though they were one-
way, one-man performances, without comebacks! There is
insufficient communication between pastor/s and others.            Any
psycho-social study would reveal a definite hierarchy of so-called
authority in almost any church – pastoral aloofness is just one sign of
it. Do not expect fellow Believers to simply sit and listen.

         The Christian life is dynamic and full of power. When it is lived
according to scripture (God‟s word) it is also full of authority. We see
so little of these factors because we do not allow the Holy Spirit to
live through us and we do not follow scriptural teaching. Dynamism,
power and authority, can all be ours because it ALREADY IS OURS!
         If prayer meetings must be changed or cast aside, then let it
be done, NOW. Do it and follow God, not self or tradition. If prayer
meetings should not exist, then do not attend them, for to do so
would be sin. Do not attempt to put something else in its place, for
then you are being false.
         Live your Christian life as it ought to be lived – in the power
and authority of the Holy Spirit, and know freedom in Christ. It
should not be a continuous round of engagements and meetings, all
with different names and days on which to attend them.
         We are not called to develop a full programme of events, or to
cleverly devise special meetings that will „appeal‟ to youngsters, or to
carefully „balance‟ meetings, etc. Let God do it all. If He wishes you
to hold this or that meeting, then let it be so. By devising all sorts of
meetings to cover every day of the week, you actually exclude God
and His power, no matter how much you think the Holy Spirit is with
         It is our Christian responsibility to praise God first. Everything
else, including meetings, must come second. Even witnessing
comes second to praising and obeying God. He will develop any
meetings He wants you to have…usually you will be the last to know
it! To fill-out the week for the sake of it is to invite spiritual disaster
and local church deadness.
         The glory of God is of greater significance than a gap in our
local church calendar of weekly events! Why not have short Bible
studies instead? They would do far more good than the weekly,
sterile, prayer meeting.
         When looking at the thinking of countless groups who meet for
prayer it is obvious that they are sincere in the desire to pray. But,
their mistake is universal – they believe that because it is legitimate
to pray, that corporate prayers are automatically legitimate at any
time, anywhere. They believe there is a logical link between prayer
itself and the holding of regular prayer meetings, even though they
do not adhere to what scripture actually says about praying together.
         This is why, like Buddhists who stuff prayers written on bits of
paper into crevices in statues, many Christians are able to send their
prayer requests not straight to God, but to ministries that offer that

service on their behalf! Even by email over the internet. But they are
simply using similar techniques to Roman Catholics, who pay priests
to „pray‟ for their dead relatives, or Jews who also stuff bits of paper
in the Wailing Wall.
        The Humanistic/Arminian nature of prayer meetings is seen
easily in the „Second Awakening‟ meetings at Fulton Street, USA
(1850: as sourced in „The Second Evangelical Awakening in
America‟). Guarding against disorder and disharmony, and wanting
freedom, the elders insisted on the „five minute rule‟, which, though
meant well, was the antithesis of freedom!
        “Please observe the following rules (seven rules are then
given for the outline of the meeting, followed by reference to a large
placard hanging in a prominent place which said)…”Brethren are
earnestly requested to adhere to the five-minute-rule. Prayers and
exhortations not to exceed five minutes, in order to give all an
opportunity. Not more than two consecutive prayers or exhortations.
No controverted points discussed.” Yet, the book describes the
meetings as „spontaneous‟! Similar „rules‟ are commonplace in many
churches today, and they have no scriptural authority or place.
        The Mennonites (source: Mennonite Historical Society of
Canada) have the same view as others, when they say “corporate
prayer was practiced by the early church”, quoting the usual Biblical
texts. The texts do NOT support the idea of corporate prayer as a
regular meeting, or in any way guided by human leaders or
structures or „rules‟.
        The Mennonites refer back to their organisation in Russia in
1860, after following the preaching of a Pietist, Edward Wüst. He
established prayer meetings and „prayer cells‟ (another modern trend
without scriptural basis). Throughout their history the Mennonites
experienced controversy concerning prayer, but they still insist that
corporate prayer is acceptable as a regular activity.
        In many churches worldwide, the idea is to „revitalise‟ prayer
meetings, and books proliferate on the subject, in which authors offer
a variety of „methods‟ to inject each church with life. Inevitably, this
involves human intervention (example: „Biblical Patterns for Powerful
Church Prayer Meetings‟, Greg Frizzell). They give „practical steps‟
for the “building of prayer meetings that make a difference‟, plus
“instruction for format, how to involve the youth, how to involve the
lay-leadership…” All of this is Arminian, through and through! It is not
of God, but of human interference.
        Though Watchman Nee‟s work is now held in suspicion by
many, he taught correctly when he said “The Lord wants all of us to
pray in harmony, not with different tunes. If we can be in harmony,
then whatever we ask, God will accomplish…The basic condition is
to be in harmony…We should not pray capriciously with everyone
still holding to his or her own idea.” (from „Collected Works‟ Set 3,
Vol. 48, 203-204). In harmony – of one accord. This is above and
beyond prayer meetings by rota or „guidance‟ given by leaders.
        We could gather many examples of bad teaching and wrong
interpretation linked with poor logic (e.g. prayer is Biblical, therefore

so is the regular prayer meeting). I believe that this chapter has given
plenty of food for thought on the matter. It is now up to the reader, if
he or she is honest, to examine his or her own heart.

        (For a criticism of the views I have set out above, plus my
response, see the Appendix, or Article A/130, Publications‟ List, Bible
Theology Ministries. Also see my criticism of „Prayer Meetings‟, an
article written by Dr Peter Masters).

       Next, let us take a brief look at that weird activity labelled
„worship‟. Weird not because it is Biblical, but because it is not, and
because those who practise it can be very odd indeed, for they do
not understand what it is anyway!

                              Chapter 5


        In 1667, John Owen wrote and published a catechism entitled
„Introduction to the Worship of God‟. At first, it did not bear his name
or that of the publisher, because of fear of retribution from the priests.
Today a similar condition is in force, except that whilst today I will not
be imprisoned for speaking out, those who consider their office to be
unassailable will castigate me and make sure that I am not listened
        Owen spoke of a “making to ourselves, an inventing, a finding
out ways of worship, or means of honouring God, not by Him
appointed, that is so severely forbidden.” And “Believers know what
entertainment all will-worship (is to God, Who says)…‟Who hath
required this at your hand?‟ and „In vain do ye worship me, teaching
for doctrines the traditions of men‟.”

        Certain churches hold what they call „worship‟ services. This
chapter wishes to ask a genuine question – what do they mean by a
„worship‟ service? Personally, as a Believer, I do not understand
what exactly such a service is supposed to be, or what function it is
supposed to serve. I understand the term „worship‟ – but not the term
„worship service‟. (All „services‟ should be „worship‟ services).
        The term „worship‟ service has become prevalent only
recently, so, in a way, it is a fashion statement rather than an
historically-based term. This is one reason I question it. (It does not
follow that a lack of historical background necessarily means
something is invalid, but it may hold a clue).

        Another problem is a very simple one – the term has no
immediate understandable meaning. If it had an understandable
meaning, then I would not be asking these questions! Again, the fact
that I personally do not understand the meaning of „worship‟ in this
context does not necessarily imply that such an observance (of a
„worship‟ service) is wrong. It just means that I do not understand
either the meaning given to it by men today, or its relevance to
Christian life. Thus, my own ignorance of these matters could be the
        As always, we must go to the scriptures to see if we can find
the solution. This should tell us if a „worship‟ service is valid, or if it is
required, or if it is relevant. We will find no less than nine clearly
differentiated Bible words for „worship‟. As is usually the case for
almost all Biblical words, these words themselves can be traced back
to roots (that is, other words on which the „main‟ words are based).
Three of these „main‟ words are found in the Old Testament.
        In the Old Testament, „worship‟ usually means to bow in
homage before a superior, God, angels, or before false gods. The
word may be used either literally or figuratively (therefore we may
legitimately say that this word can be used to refer to one‟s inner
desire toward a superior/God, etc.). Another word means to shape or
form or copy. Thus one may shape oneself to be like a superior (i.e.,
God) – this being itself a form of „worship‟.
        In the New Testament, „worship‟ can be taken six distinct
ways, depending on context (which partly determines the
translation/interpretation). The Persians displayed profound
reverence by kneeling and touching the ground with the forehead. In
New Testament times a person would kneel or lay prostrate to show
obedience and respect and/or to seek favour. This was done in
homage to God, the risen Christ, or to angels (whether holy or
        To „worship‟ also means to revere or to be devout, or to hold
an opinion of someone (good or bad – although, in the New
Testament, the opinion is always a good one, resulting in praise,
honour, or the glorification of a person, e.g. God). The same word
can also refer to the splendour of the moon and stars; the dignity,
grace and excellence, etc., of God; God‟s majesty as Supreme Ruler
and of Christ and the angels; it refers also to a glorious state, the
risen Christ‟s state before God, and the condition of true Believers.
        „Worship‟ can refer to the service of menials (that is, „practical‟
worship of a superior) or, to performance of sacred services/offering
of gifts; to perform the rites required by God (e.g. performed by
priests) and those things which glorify Him.
        It can mean to show piety or to act reverently – toward God, or
toward anyone/anything to whom/which, such reverence is due. Then
there is another word for „worship‟, which refers to misguided
worship. That is, worship/observances invented by men to suit their
own ideas. Thus, it is not true observance, or true holiness. Such is
common today in many churches, especially charismatic, pro-
charismatic, mainstream Anglican, etc.

        So…which of these words is being referred to when we talk of
a „worship‟ service? Can the reader see the reasons for my genuine
query and caution? Look at the meanings of the Biblical words
above. None of them can adequately be taken and applied to the
modern use of the term. Indeed, the true meanings of the words
render the modern use nonsensical.
        We see that virtually all the various words refer to one‟s state
of heart toward God (or toward any other superior being or object).
How that can be applied to an external form i.e. a church service, I
cannot tell. Hence the serious query.
        Sometimes these services are also known as „praise‟
services…but I do not understand what exactly is meant by that,
either. It seems that certain valid aspects of Christian attitude have
somehow been taken from their context (in this case, the context is
the individual‟s heart-desire) and re-formed into a physical type of
meeting. But to what purpose? The purpose is, we suppose, to glorify
God…but how is this done? If the way we glorify God is not
prescribed in scripture or, more importantly, it is not even based on
scriptural example, etc., then is it valid?
        This reminds us that one word for worship means to
misguidedly invent a self-made, invalid obedience which is, by
definition, disobedience and sin. I do not doubt the sincerity of those
who initiate or attend „worship‟ services. Nor do I want to denigrate
them in any way if they are my brethren in the Lord. I simply ask
what it is all supposed to mean! If „worship‟ merely consists of
throwing up arms, having „glazed eyes‟, and shouting „Amen‟ – then,
in my view, it is not worth anything.
        We have seen what true worship really is. Why, then, do we
need „worship schools‟ and classes invented by men? The New Life
School of Worship is quite typical of modern reliance on human
invention. It offers classes on a variety of „worship‟ subjects, as
though this is Biblical! Inevitably, the School is charismatic and
strongly emphasises music. Unfortunately, more Reformed churches
are following its example, because of the inroads of charismatic
heretical thought into all church life. is a website that is “more than music – a way of
life”. Thus, music is first, worship comes out of music. It is a „worship
resource centre‟. As with prayer, man is interfering in what God
begins and makes worship an act of works and not obedience to the
Holy Spirit. It begins with man and not with God.
        John Owen admits that a church has authority to institute
forms of worship, but warns that this must always be based on what
Christ has instituted. It is the ignoring of this principle, he says, that
“lies at the bottom of all the horrible superstition and idolatry of all the
confusion, blood, persecution, and wars…” („Communion with God‟).
        As I have taught many times – Christian life is simply living!
We get up in the morning; we work; we rest. We meet together and
we study God‟s word. All of this is, strictly speaking, „worship‟. But,
men have to make it something elusive and to be studied in a paid-

for course. Do we find elements of this in the New Testament? Of
course we do not!
       Before you again attend a „worship‟ service, ask yourself the
questions above and do not be fooled by emotions or by peer
expectations, which can often be off-beam, if not sinful. In particular,
do not attend charismatic „worship‟, for the very basis of
charismaticism is heretical.

                              Chapter 6

                     Who Is Reverend?

       The title „Reverend‟ is given to (and accepted by) clergy and
ministers, especially if they have completed an approved theology or
Bible course (approved by whom and by what authority is another
matter!). That is, men – and even women – are „ordained‟ by a
denomination, by a college or, by another „ordained man‟; they are
„ordained into the church‟ or „ordained into the priesthood‟, etc. A
number of relevant observations should be made here:

        No man, denomination, or college has the authority to
           ordain a person for purposes of priesthood. Post-New
           Testament priesthood is an unbiblical concept which
           opposes God‟s plan for the pastorate. In God‟s word, the
           priesthood as a physical entity does not exist because it
           has been abolished.
        A person has no right to call himself a „priest‟ in the clerical
           sense. The word „minister‟ is also misused and
       (c)      A person is not „ordained into the church‟. To claim to
                be so ordained is to admit to a poor understanding of
                what the church really is…no human         being can
                ordain another human being „into the church‟.
        The „ordained‟ person does not „enter the church‟. The
           very notion suggests that the Church is a corporation with
           a life of its own and that we may apply to join! This is
           Arminian, not Biblical, for the Church is the living Body of
           Christ – made up of other human beings. We enter this
           Body by being a part of it – and every Believer is a part of
           the Church, through salvation.
                Therefore, to say that only a „trained‟ person may „enter
                the church‟ is nonsense.

       In the 15th century pastors – mostly of the Roman Catholic
cult, but also of the new Reformation group – were given the epithet

„reverend‟ as a show of respect. Note that the word was first used in
the 15th century for the so-called „clergy‟. The word is not found within
the true Church before that time. There were no historical precedents
and there are no Biblical precedents or commands which require
such titles…not even when referring to pastors.
         In the 17th century, „reverend‟ was used as a title, in much the
same way as „doctor‟ or „captain‟ was used in other spheres of life.
However, by that time it was not so much a sign of respect, as a
declaration of rank. This idea of rank is clearly seen in the various
sub-titles given to clergy: „Most Reverend‟ for an Archbishop; „Right
Reverend‟ for a Bishop and „Very Reverend‟ for a Dean. (The titles of
„Archbishop‟ and „Dean‟ are not Biblical. Nor is the title of „Bishop‟ as
it is used today).
        Therefore, is the adoption of the title „reverend‟ without
scriptural authority?      The term „reverence‟ is used in certain
circumstances (see later notes) but, such circumstances appear to
be mainly lacking today. Many men (and women) use the title as a
badge of self-induced honour, requiring others to give them credence
simply because they bear the title.
        Such see themselves as „professionals‟ with a similar status
to, say, doctors, social workers, or teachers. This is in complete
opposition to Biblical principles concerning the place and role of
pastors and the place of the Church as a whole.
        One man, a local preacher/pastor known to this author,
continually berated and belittled the well-earned public honours and
titles of others…titles bestowed by university degrees. However, he
now parades under the title of „reverend‟ without, of course, saying a
word against himself!
        The title was „awarded‟ to him for his „long service to
preaching‟ and he proudly bears it, ensuring that it is displayed on
the local church notice board and in advertisements. Yet, he still
berates the titles of others, even though they are earned and quite
legitimate. In other words, the man is an hypocrite.
        Another young preacher/pastor, who already bears the title of
„reverend‟ (because he has attended a Bible school), displays
another form of hypocrisy and pride. He said to one elderly Christian
lady, who refused to pander to his pride: “You MUST treat me with
respect – I am a Baptist minister!” He expected the lady (who hated
all forms of pride and hypocrisy) to bow the knee in subjection to him,
simply because of a false title given to him by a Bible school; he
demanded reverence. God forbid that he should ever get it!
        Others, good men, use the title, even though it is not scriptural
to do so. Normally, these men would shun any idea of sin and pride
in their lives – so why insist on retaining a man-made title? These
men often say that the title means nothing to them, but that it serves
as a focal point when people meet them. They say it is easier to
speak to others when they use their title.
        This begs the question…why, then, did the Preacher of
preachers, Jesus Christ Himself, call Himself the servant of all? Why
did He not insist on a title, such as Rabbi? And why did He not

command future pastors to use a title? Why did Paul not give titles to
the pastors he trained, or to himself?
       Jesus allowed some to call Him „lord‟, because it was a matter
of fact – firstly, „lord‟ was used commonly to denote a man of worth
and honour; secondly, it was used of God – Who He, Jesus Christ,
really was. But „reverend‟ applied to preachers and pastors? I
suggest it may not justified. Let us see why…

The Word „Reverend‟
       This word has never been used in scripture to refer to a mere
man. Indeed, this word has never been used in scripture AS A
TITLE. The word „reverend‟ was used only once – to refer to a
quality of God Himself. Can the reader see, then, why it should
never be used as a title by men? The reference is found in Psalm

              “He sent redemption unto His people: he hath
              commanded his covenant for ever. Holy and
              reverend is his name.”

        The word „holy‟ – qadowsh – means sacred, Holy One, saint.
Thus, it may speak of either God or a holy man; qadowsh is rooted in
qadash, meaning to be hallowed, to show oneself sacred or majestic,
to be treated as sacred, to observe as holy, to be consecrated, to set
apart, to keep oneself separate etc. In the context of the text, it is
obvious that „holy‟ can speak only of God Himself.
        It can refer to a saint…but if we look at the meanings of „saint‟
here, and if we are brutally frank, how many men can have the words
of this text applied to them: “reverend is his name”? I do not know of
any. I know of good, Christian men. Quite a number of them are
pastors. But, in all truth, none can have this accolade paid to them.
        The word „reverend‟ or yare, means to fear, to revere, be
afraid; to stand in awe of, to honour and respect; to cause
astonishment and awe; to be held in awe; to inspire reverence/godly
fear/awe. Again – how many men can this be applied to? Few that I
know of. I certainly respect them, but not many of them cause
astonishment or awe in the scriptural sense.
        As for „name‟ in this text – it means a reputation, fame, glory.
THE NAME (ie God). So, if we put it all together in this verse, we
can see that no man can match God‟s glory. Indeed, the verse tells
us “reverend is HIS name”…not anyone else‟s name! Can the
reader see what I am trying to say?
        Yes, there are men in history, and in our day, who were/are
head and shoulders above most other Believers when it comes to
godliness. But, how many of them can honestly lay claim to this
word „reverend‟, when we see its context. In context, it shows us the
God Who gave us redemption, not a mere man who can only point
the way to the Redeemer.
        It is true that a man may be revered, in the sense that he can
be held in utmost respect. But that is not like having a title of

„reverend‟. Apart from that, it is utter foolishness anyway, for the
word „reverend‟ is not even a title…it is a descriptive word, not a
subject! Thus, as a title, the word is ungrammatical.

What About „Reverence‟?
       In Leviticus 19:30 we read

              “ye shall keep my ecidedl, and reverence
              my sanctuary: I (am) the Lord.”

        This is repeated word for word in Leviticus 26:2. In chapter 19
verse 30, the word for reverence is yare (that is, it is the same as the
word „reverend‟ in Psalm 111). But in chapter 26 verse 2, although
the English word „reverence‟ is used, the Hebrew is actually shachah
meaning to bow down; to prostrate oneself before a superior in
homage, or before God in worship. (It may also refer to bowing down
before false gods or before an angel. It depends on context again)
        The word „angel‟ is greatly misunderstood – it can be used of
men, as well as of spirit creatures or even of Jesus Christ. However,
in this text, it can only mean to bow in homage before Almighty God.
Further, there is no way that a pastor, no matter how holy, can allow
others to bow in homage before him, as though he were superior. It
is, simply, the opposite to his role in life…to be a servant and an
        This is emphasised in the text by the phrase “I (am) the Lord”.
The „Lord‟ here is Jehovah or „the existing One‟; the proper name of
the one true God. Its structure is almost exactly that of the name “I
AM” – a positional title used by God about Himself and which cannot
be used of any creature.
        The words “I AM” and “I am the Lord” are probably the most
profound statements-of-being ever to be uttered. There is no way,
then, that pastors may legitimately use the word (reverence) which is
applied to “I AM”. That is, there are few, if any, circumstances in
which a mere man may (like the young, brash pastor mentioned
above) claim the word for himself!
        Others may want to use it with reference to him, but he cannot
claim it for himself or insist on its use in his presence, even for formal
purposes (e.g. on a letter or at a function). Nor may he insist on
being called „reverend‟, as though he were God. Only a sense of
self-importance and pride will allow a man to use the word „reverend‟
as a title. Those good men who currently use the title will examine
themselves and, hopefully, drop the title. Such is their holiness and
godly intent.
        The argument does not mean that pastors and others cannot
be revered by others. But, a pastor who allows others to openly
show this reverence or deference, in their presence, without feeling
humility, can do so only in a spirit of pride. No pastor may actively
seek reverence, for if he does so (by using a title) he loses it in the
sight of God.

       If some men allow its use for themselves, then they are very
subtly giving themselves honours. If others see them as „worthy of
double honour‟ then that is another matter…but if they tell others in
word, title, or attitude, that they are worthy of such honour, then they
are worthy of none at all.
       There are instances in scripture when kings were reverenced
(treated with deference because of their status); 2 Samuel 9:6 is an
example, where the word for „reverence‟ is translated as „bowing low
before a superior, a king‟. Bathsheba similarly reverenced David,
because of his earthly status. None of this can apply to a pastor.
The pastor has no earthly status or position.
       In the New Testament we can find several uses of the word
„reverence‟. In the account of the husbandmen in Matthew 21:37 we
see the word entrepo – to regard or reverence someone for their
status. This is used to speak of Jesus Christ, of course.
       In Ephesians 5 husbands are told to love their wives and “the
wife (see) that she reverence (her) husband.” The word for
reverence in this case is phobeo – to treat with deference or
obedience. In this text, the age-old law of God is in operation, that a
woman is subject to a man, for that is the order of creation decreed
by God. It is not a title or something a man may flaunt or use as a
sign of power…it is just a statement of law.
       In Hebrews 12:9 we see reverence (entrepo) for earthly
fathers, because children must show respect for parents. But in
Hebrews 12:28 the word for reverence (referring to serving God
acceptably) is aidos, meaning respect, sense of shame and honour,
modesty, bashfulness, regard (ie with downcast eyes). When we use
the word „reverend‟ as a title for ourselves, we overturn aidos and
replace it with pride and self-bought honour, which is far removed
from aidos – godly piety and humility.

General Thoughts
        Scripture tells us that pastors who genuinely serve the flock
should be treated with double honour and with respect. A man who
calls himself to the pastorate (as the majority appear to do) or, who
ignores the qualities required of pastors, is not worthy of any honour
at all. Scripture does not tell us that a pastor can insist on being
honoured or that he can refer to himself as one to be revered!
        Further, as the word „reverend‟ is used only once in scripture
to refer to an attribute of Almighty God, Christian logic and
conscience should tell us that it is the height of pride and
haughtiness for a mere man to use the same word as a title for
himself, a mere created being.
        To their credit, many who have been „ordained‟ prefer not to
use the title „reverend‟, but they still use the word „pastor‟ as a title.
Their thoughts are well intended, but they are still not fully developed,
        To use the word „pastor‟ as though it were a title is also a mark
of pride, even if such is not the intention, for we are just substituting
„pastor‟ for „reverend‟. „Pastor‟ is a reference to a role and a function

in life; it is not a title. Once we use a title, we deliberately make
ourselves different in status.
        Whilst various academic or professional honours have their
place in society, because they state a specialism or an earned role,
there is nothing in scripture which allows us to use titles to give us
spiritual status. We are all one in Christ; there are no levels of
        We all have different levels of understanding and knowledge –
but as these levels are all given freely by God and are not self-
earned, there is no way we may lord it over others by using titles or
self-made honours. Nor is the pastorate an earned role. It is a role
assigned by God and maintained by Him. There is nothing in us to
warrant self-honour or titles, for it is „all in Christ‟.
        It has been argued that the title „reverend‟ may be used by
theologians and others who are not pastors, merely to distinguish
them academically. This, however, is not a valid idea. Graduates who
earn basic degrees do not have a title before their name.
        Even if they then earn a higher degree (e.g. MA, MSc, MTh
and so on), they do not bear a title. Only those who earn their
doctorate have a title – „Doctor‟ – before their names. Some choose
to use the title and others do not…but such use is legitimate.
        Use of a so-called pastoral title („reverend‟) by pastors is,
however, not legitimate. A pastor who has earned an academic
doctorate, on the other hand, may refer to himself as „doctor‟,
whether his higher degree is in theology or some other discipline.
But he may not use a title to indicate his pastoral role.
        In balance, then, I am saying that because they have
assumed „Reverend‟ as a title of status, men have no right to it.
However, some, because of their humility, a proven calling by God,
and obvious spiritual power, may be revered by others. These, it
would seem, may have the word „reverend‟ attributed to them by
others because of its description of their character, but should not
use it as a title.

       Pastors and others are requested to think seriously about this
matter. By losing their thoughts of self-esteem, true pastors will
genuinely gain God‟s blessing and the double-honour due to them as
servants of the Saviour.
       Many godly pastors use the title „reverend‟. This chapter is
not meant to belittle them or their work. Today, what is good is being
swamped by what is evil. The presence of pseudo-Christians almost
obliterates the presence of true pastors. It is a mistake to think that
the way forward is to pander to the thinking of the world.
       If using „reverend‟ is thought to be an answer, then readers
are asked to think again. Under-shepherds of Jesus Christ bear no
pastoral titles. To God, „reverend‟ applied to His creatures is
meaningless, except as a way of seeking human status…unless their
character is truly one of reverence.

Note: Like all preachers, Spurgeon had his flaws. On the matter of
ordination, though, I concur with his views (from „Spurgeon‟, by
Arnold Dallimore, p47-8, Published by Banner of Truth) given below:

              “On ordination he (Spurgeon) did not
              believe this was a scriptural practice and
              that he did not need it to validate his
              ministry. The blessing of God, he
              declared, was the divine seal upon his
              holding of the office. Man could not add
              anything to it.”


              “Similarly, Spurgeon rejected the title
              „Reverend‟ (though he did succumb to its
              use very early in his pastorate). He said it
              was a remnant of Romanism, that the
              Reformers ought to have dropped…(he
              urged his students to use the more
              scriptural term „pastor‟)”

        When it comes to titles used to denote spiritual office, I remain
adamant and concur with Spurgeon and others. If strangers refer to
me as „reverend‟ in a letter or on first meeting, I ask them not to use it
again as a title, and I explain that pastorship is not a title, but an
office. To use it as a title is to become an „officer‟…but I am not an
„officer‟, I am one who performs an office or task.
        Therefore I neither want or allow such title for myself, which
tends to elevate one above his fellows. If others believe a pastor is
humble and of double-honour, then there may be a case for using the
word „reverend‟, but only as a description. Far safer not to use it at
        Finally, what of the use of clerical „dog‟ collars? Are they
valid? It all depends on what you think about paganism, for the dog
collar represents sterility or purity and is a symbol of the sun, worn by
sun-priests in pagan religions since 1000 BC. Like many other pagan
symbols, it was adopted a long time ago by the Roman „church‟. So,
wearing a dog collar is not so innocent as it seems.

        Most nursing home and hospital nurses have a little game
called „Guess Who‟s at the Door‟. A man arrives on a ward or at the
door of a Home, usually outside normal visiting times and the staff try
to guess what he is by his dress. It seems that ministers almost
always wear black suits, dark ties, white shirts and polished shoes! It
is not unusual to get them mixed up with the undertakers!!
        Have you ever asked yourself why many ministers (or
correctly – „pastors‟) should dress this way? One big reason is so
they can fulfil the expectations of onlookers…which is a fairly weak

reason, but that‟s how it is. Pastors are „supposed‟ to look very
serious, as though they are attending a funeral.
        Even young pastors fall into this trap of not being
themselves…I remember seeing one young man sitting outside his
church study, in the open air, on a blazingly hot day, complete with
long sleeved shirt, tie and flannel trousers. He was obviously very hot
and uncomfortable. Here was I in a teeshirt and shorts and there was
he trying his best to look solemn. He just looked uncomfortable!
        He was probably not aware of the rules, which state that
ministers may (but only rarely) unbutton the top button on a shirt (no
more than that) and may roll sleeves up twice, but below the elbow!
Apparently, if a pastor dresses any other way, his spiritual state is in
doubt. (This is no joke…I‟ve heard similar charges!).
        Another reason for this sombre facade is that pastors, almost
without exception, see themselves as „professionals‟. Amongst
independents and evangelicals, this is not spoken out loud – but one
can tell by attitudes that this is so. They see themselves being of
similar „status‟ to, say, solicitors, or doctors. This is a throwback to an
older age, when most preachers were the product of university
divinity faculties. Today, few pastors have had an higher academic
education…nothing wrong with that, but their perceived equality with
a doctor can hardly be in academia. So why the status notion?
        Another thing about pastors is that most of them receive a
„stipend‟ which is, in other words, a salary. It seems that „stipend‟
sounds better than „salary‟, even though that is really what it is!
(Interestingly, many pastors receive more in real terms than fellow
members in their local church…what with free fuel, free housing,
expenses and „stipend‟. Giving cash to pastors is okay – but we
must be very careful not to equate it with „professional‟ status or
commercial salaries.
        Now let‟s get to the real issues…Firstly, a pastor is the same
as an elder – he is an elder according to scripture! Yet, how many
churches have an hierarchy with the „pastor‟ at the top, „elders‟ below
him and „deacons‟ below them, followed by other lesser beings, such
as Sunday School teachers and finally, those “down in the pew”.
        There are differences in this „pecking order‟, depending on
denomination, but the hierarchy still exists! It seems that one must
work his way „up‟ from being a deacon to being an elder – but unless
one attends a full-time Bible college course and is „ordained‟ by the
college, there is no step-up from „elder‟ to „pastor‟.
        Many variations of these intricate „rules‟ exist. For example, a
large church sent off one of its members, who was to become pastor
of another church. But, he had not been Bible-college „ordained‟ and
so he was „not allowed‟ to call himself a pastor. Instead, he was
called a „teaching elder‟!
        ALL OF THE ABOVE IS UNBIBLICAL! A pastor is the same
as an elder and, wait for it, the elder is the same as a bishop. They
are interchangeable names for the same office (though this is
sometimes argued over by various reformed men).

        But, a deacon is not the same as an elder. He may become an
elder if called by God to the office, but a deacon is simply one who
attends to the practical and often mundane tasks in the local church,
such as looking after the money, visiting the sick, and so on. The
idea is to leave the pastors free to attend to their spiritual roles.
There are no hierarchies in the Bible and no „promotion‟ systems.
        Furthermore, a pastor is equal in status to the deacon and to
the „lowest‟ member of the congregation. The pastor is merely
another member, but with a defined task to perform. He is an under-
shepherd who has no authority of his own…it is all of Christ. He is
not a „boss‟ and need not always lead at every service or be on every
„committee‟. (And his wife is not necessarily called by God to any
„management‟ task – so why is she usually the „head‟ of women‟s
meetings, etc?)
        The pastor is chosen by the Lord, not by the people. He is not
elected by the diaconate or by a show of hands. He must do his work
as directed by God, not by diaconate preference or pressure. It is up
to the other members to recognise his calling, but not to elect him. An
elder is not „voted in/out‟ of office! Once an elder, always an
elder…unless he offends God‟s laws in such a way as to forfeit his
office. Or, if he has to move away from his local church.
        Pastors should not be youngsters – especially if they have
gone straight to a Bible college from school or university – but must
be proven within their own local church. Thus pastors (note – more
than one!) of a local church should be „home-grown‟ and known well
to all the people. Theoretically, there is no limit on the number of
pastors in any one church.
        No Bible college can „ordain‟ a pastor and no pastor has any
real right to be called „Reverend‟ – for this is a word used only of God
Himself. Think on these things. Let us forget pride and tradition and
see what the Lord says.

       When I first mooted these notes in an article, certain folk were
outraged! One told me I was a Marxist who only wanted to
undermine and destroy the pastorhood! But I am myself a pastor –
and everything written in these notes applies to me also (doubly so!).
       The purpose behind the notes, and all others, is to show what
the Bible says and to help Christians understand what is really at
stake. When it comes to pastors, we must recognise that whilst all
pastors, without exception, are equal to other members of the Church
of Jesus Christ, they tend to be very isolated (and, often, lonely)
persons. This is mainly because other members do not realise the
pressures on them. They usually push a huge „work-load‟ onto the
pastor‟s shoulders…some even think this is justified because they
pay him and so he must have a full day!
       A true pastor is „worthy of double honour‟. Yet, he is also the
„servant of all‟ the members. The two go hand-in-hand. When the
pastor has the humility to be the servant to the flock entrusted to him,

and he discharges his duties with love and in truth, then he must not
be discounted as a mere „employee‟ of the local church.
         The pastor is never an employee, even if he is being paid.
Rather, he is God‟s man in that place. He takes his orders only from
the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit and God‟s
word. There may be times when the pastor requires words of
guidance, but that is not the same as being dictated to. The
members should obey the just and Biblical injunctions of the pastor,
as of Christ, Whom he represents…not because of who he is, but
because of Who he acts for. Paul exemplifies this in his letters.
         I know that there are many excellent men who are pastors.
They are genuine and sincere. They work tirelessly for those they
shepherd and they love them all. Even so, with so many false
pastors and false ideas amongst true pastors, it is necessary to
speak in plain terms. Not for their downfall, but for their good and
well-being. Their task is vital to every local church – hence the need
to know what is legitimate and what is not.
         We are told to hold to the truth. This is a strict and
unwavering command.            We cannot have communion with
unbelievers. Neither can Christians commune with each other in any
real way, if they all hold the truth on an individualised basis, as they
see fit. Truth is Truth, no matter what we think! Few texts in
scripture are open to personal interpretation, which is why it is vital
today to speak of such truths. If „God says so‟, but men resist, we
must still say „God says so‟, whether or not our listeners like what
they hear.
         We can certainly discuss these matters, but, there is no room,
finally, for personal views where God has made Himself crystal-clear.
Those who do not understand these notes should beware not to fall
on the side of negative-critics who only have self-interest at heart or
a stubborn adherence to the ideas of men. Even amongst those who
call themselves „reformed‟ there can be errors. There are certainly
things we are not told about pastorhood. But this lack does not make
much difference to the issue. The main thing is to remain true to
what we are told. God will supply wisdom for the rest.
         One source, referring to the single use of the word „reverend‟
in scripture, calls what I have said “just silly” (Nazareth Resource
Library, a Catholic web site). It is said to be „silly‟ because it “hinges
on the use of the terms in the King James Version.”
         The criticism goes on to say something very strange: “(such
an interpretation) ignores the fact that there are a lot of individual
terms that appear in the Bible only once, and some of them are in
passages which apply them to God. This does not mean that in every
day life we may only use those terms in connection with God. We
don‟t have to build a wall around these single-use terms in our
         But, I am not referring to words about cooking pots, or
anything not linked to God per se. I am talking about a word used by
God Himself about Himself!

        Part of the criticism is that the title „reverend‟ should be used,
even if the person using it is a „thorough scoundrel‟. Again, what an
odd thing to say. A man is either worthy of respect and honour, or he
is not. If he is not, then he is not to be revered…though this objection
is said to be “due to an overly legalistic reading (of) scripture.”
        Finally, the writer says that certain passages of scripture
“require     us     to    show     reverence       for  validly   ordained
ministers…(therefore)…it is perfectly appropriate to call them
„reverend‟.” This is not a logical statement to make. We can revere
men for their spiritual stature and work, but that does not mean they
may use a term that scripture only used once for God Himself.
Amusingly, the criticism is aimed at „fundamentalists‟, even though
my ministry has no basis in fundamentalism!

                              Chapter 7

                    Church Membership

        What is church „membership‟? Is it scriptural? Is it valid?
Every local church has its „members‟ and every denomination has its
„member‟ churches. But what does this membership really mean?
        Normally, a person has to comply with certain conditions
before he can take communion, for example. He must usually be a
„member‟. The process of becoming a member can be very different,
depending on denomination, locality, country, culture etc. It may
require a letter of commendation from a former pastor or, proof that
he is baptised.
        Other churches will ask for a brief interview – at my own
interview (by a deacon, I may add – not by the pastor!), in one
church, I simply had a chat! The interviewer was almost apologetic
and said that the rules demanded an interview…but he never even
mentioned my Christian status – was I saved, or not, or, what did I
        Sometimes a pastor will have a kindly chat; sometimes his
deacons; sometimes it is put to the vote of the whole church or of the
diaconate. The idea, rarely upheld, is that some can be barred from
„membership‟ whilst others may be „welcomed into the church‟.
        One of the latest church membership „schemes‟ I have come
across is as follows. It was received as an email:
               “Our church has formulated certain laws
         regarding church membership. In order for an
         individual to become an acting member, he or she
         must first attend and complete 5 courses. These
         courses include a course on prayer, one on “how to
         read the bible”, etc. These courses are absolutely
         sound in their doctrine.

               Then, once these courses are completed, the
        individual will be put into a small group setting which
        meets every Wednesday night. (Membership is ONLY
        FOR those who belong to a “mission group”). The 5
        course are approximately 2-3 months in duration
               If, for some reason, you are unable to commit to
        these home group meetings, ( though there is a bit of
        grace allowed for certain situations), you will not have
        the privilege of membership. As well, if you are
        already a member and discontinue your involvement
        with your home group, your membership is revoked.
                  As I stated earlier, the doctrine associated with
        our church has always been sound. There have
        recently, alongside the membership issue, been
        discussions on the topic of baptism. There is a couple
        in our church who hold to baptismal-regeneration. I‟ve
        brought this to the attention of the pastor and he held
        a church service on a Wednesday night with all the
        home groups attending. This was his message…
               Baptism is not only a public declaration of the
        work already done by the Holy Spirit in the heart of a
        new believer (he has now crossed over from death to
        life). It is that, but it‟s more than that. God‟s grace is
        somehow transferred through the very act itself. (I
        guess he means something similar to the teaching of
        the Roman Catholic church and the sacraments). He
        explained his understanding of this by comparing our
        conversion to a novel.
                  The front cover of the novel is belief and the
        back cover is baptism. When he was asked then if he
        believed one needed to be baptised in order to be
        saved, he hesitated and then said, “No….but it is a
        part of the conversion process and is necessary
        before certain blessings from God can be given.
        God‟s grace is dispensed through the act of
                  I personally believe he is a bit muddled in his
        understanding of justification and sanctification. And
        what are the spiritual ramifications of their take on
        membership? Is this a step too far in the area of
                  What is the historical take on church
        membership? What principles from scripture can I
        apply to my situation? The Questions go on and on,
        and I‟m sure that once I‟ve done my research, I‟ll
        have a few more questions to e-mail you.”

       In this case, the church has always been „sound‟ in its
doctrine. Yet, despite this, it is obviously being led down a wrong

path by the pastor. His hesitation in answering a direct question is
indicative of his personal break with what is sound. Not only is he
making membership a very strict human code of requirements, but
he is certainly moving along a Roman Catholic route, in talking of
„grace‟ being given by God for something that is, in Biblical teaching,
the simple and uncluttered practice of baptism.

What is Membership Worth?
        So, what does it truly mean to be a member? Well, the main
„advantage‟ (??) seems to be that you can then have „voting rights‟
and you can stay at special „business‟ meetings. In reality, outsiders
know exactly what has gone on in a special members-only meeting,
by the same evening – and many more know by the next day! So
what‟s the point of it all?
        As for „voting rights‟…vote for what? To appoint a new pastor
or deacon? No membership may vote-in a new pastor. Only the
Lord can do that (see section on pastors). It is dubious if deacons
can be elected, either. What else is there to vote for that requires
such secrecy? Whether or not to spend money on installing new
central heating? Who to send a donation to? Hardly worth the effort
of secrecy, is it!
        It has been said that membership is more for „eventualities‟
than for everyday use. By this is meant, the right of a local church to
get rid of someone it does not like. Thus, if there is a rule that allows
a person to be thrown out, then it is there to be used. (Read my book
on this, „The Left Boot of Fellowship‟. Details given later).

Is Membership Valid?
        No, it is not. Can a person be asked to leave the church if he
does not attend prayer meetings regularly? Can he be barred from
taking communion if he has missed more than three consecutive
Sundays? According to some, this can be done. Yet, even if we look
very hard in scripture, we do not find justification for membership or
for the rules applied to it by local churches.
        Where does membership come from? That‟s easy to answer
– it comes from the human need to interfere with what God has
provided! A local church building is merely a place where a large
number of people can meet without crushing each other. The people
who meet together inside the building should all be Believers if the
place is called a Christian church. (Sadly, virtually all local churches
are a mixture of saved and unsaved people…even unsaved people
are made members, and remain, whilst true Christians may be
thrown out, or forced to leave).
        The Church of Jesus Christ can be defined as „all who have
been saved, are saved, and who will ever be saved‟. That is the only
qualification to be a member of the universal Church, whose Head is
the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He did not ask for a vote or for a
        He knew, from before the world was formed, exactly who
would be saved and when. He knows exactly where they are at any

given time and He knows exactly what local church they are visiting.
He places no membership conditions on the saved person. This is
because once a man is saved, he can never be lost, no matter what
he may do in the future to offend others.
        Therefore, no local church has the right to impose rules on
fellow Believers that have not been instigated by Jesus Christ. Does
that mean we may do as we please and a local church does not have
the right to throw us out? No, it does not.
        A local pastor has a certain authority, delegated to him by the
Lord. The local church as a whole also has limited authority, in
certain instances. Every church must apply discipline. This is not
confined to throwing people out of a church…discipline is concerned
with much more than that. Discipline involves everyday living as well
as Bible study, prayer and other aspects of Christian existence.
        The Bible tells us things we must do, so that we may grow as
Believers. It tells us what to do if things go wrong. It also tells us
what kind of thing constitutes a serious offence and how we must be
very careful if we are to apply the extreme act of casting-out from
fellowship (see „The Left Boot of Fellowship‟). But nowhere does it
tell us we must have local church membership as it is seen today!
        All Believers are members of each other. If I walk into a local
church in outer Mongolia, I am automatically a member. There are
no physical barriers to my membership, because none are set by the
Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. He provides the Church with
sufficient „rules‟…we do not need to apply even more of them.
        If folk wish to move to another local church, well, there is
nothing much we can do about it. If they wish not to meet for a few
weeks, that is up to them. If they do not have communion for a while,
it is their loss, not ours. Yes, we may enquire to see if there are
problems…but we do not have the authority to cancel their
        Certain things (including prayer or preaching meetings) may
go on inside a local church building…but none of them are
mandatory. We do not even have to preach on a Sunday! If we
wish, we may just sit around and talk, or have a cup of tea. Not to
understand this is not to understand the nature of the Church itself.
        We invite the reader to examine the subject of church
membership. What purpose does it serve? Human reasons will
abound…but the Bible is silent on membership as we know it today.
        Did you know that computer companies sell „membership
control‟ computer programmes for churches? Does this say more
about the minds of those who use it, than about the Biblical basis for
membership? I think so, just as charismatic „workshops‟ on „how to
build up your membership‟ speak not of the Holy Spirit, but about
good commercial marketing.
        Some, wrongly, link membership with a perceived „need‟ to
have „organised religion‟ and with all kinds of doctrinal statements,
when no such links exist in scripture. One ministry (The Gospel
Way), using this system of thinking and showing false linkages, and
referring to those who do not see membership as necessary, says:

“…folk say…that one can be saved without being a member of the
church.” Its answer is to ask a question: “Will Christ save people
outside the church?”
        Such an answer shows a completely wrong attitude and
definition of „church‟. It implies that one must be in the „church‟ before
he is saved! It links salvation with being a member of a local church,
when scripture gives no link of this kind. Salvation is separate from
membership, though it must precede it.
        Michael Bunker gives an interesting slant on the matter in his
web site (, when he says that individual
Christians will be held responsible for the corporate sins of any
church they belong to…so be “careful what you join.” Interestingly, he
also claims, as I do, that Protestant churches have a „Rome-friendly‟
hierarchy, with their own popes (e.g. pastors who elevate their
        Bunker says: “Church membership is not mentioned one time
in all of scripture. We are not authorised to „join‟ a church, a
denomination, or a cult.” His reason is that we may not join with an
harlot, a definition I am not fully happy with. However, he has a point
when saying that membership of a sect means, really, NOT being in
membership of God‟s true Church. Also, he cannot see (as I cannot)
the link between the spiritual Body of Christ and an humanly-
demanded membership list with all that it implies. Despite some
definitions and links I would not make, it is worth reading his
arguments just as a source of stimulation to thought.
        If you want an opposite view, then go to, where
church membership is claimed to be taught in scripture. Like many
Protestant groups, though, it then spoils its approach by giving „other‟
reasons for membership, which have no real Biblical context. It also
thinks that the existence of local churches MUST mean membership
rites are acceptable. Again, there is no logical link.
        Throughout this group‟s arguments no concrete scriptural
proof is given for the need for physical membership. Read what they
say anyway, just to taste how this kind of argumentation manifests
itself. The site presents a typical set of Protestant-style arguments
based on tradition and perceptions rather than on scripture itself.
        I have nothing against what is „Protestant‟ – only against its
human devices. One such device is the way some Baptists (of
„seeker-friendly‟ churches) are starting to use „covenants‟ that compel
members to do this or that. Matthew Henry said of such oaths or
covenants: “The worse men are, the less they are bound by oaths;
the better they are, the less there is need for them.” So, instead if
imposing rules, local churches should encourage holiness and love
for each other (See 1 Thessalonians, chapter 3, for example).
        A commentator (Paul Proctor, of says:
“When a church becomes dependent upon carnal mechanisms for
spiritual motivation, rather than the power and conviction of the Holy
Spirit, contracts become fashionable amongst frustrated pastors, who
find it necessary to coerce members into carrying out the church‟s

ministry. Those who are led by the Spirit of God don‟t need to sign on
some dotted line…”
        Brian Schwertley, a Reformed writer, claims that membership
is valid. In his arguments he says that those who do not accept
membership rites fit into one of several camps…the trouble is, I am in
none of them. My objection is not against membership, but against
the formality that goes with it and what membership infers. Yes, we
must belong to a local fellowship, but not if it is cultic, heretical or in
any way corporately defying God.
        Schwertley gives us the same list of objections to membership
that appear in many other reformed works. He also presents
typically-reformed arguments for membership, saying that Biblical
evidence is “abundant and overwhelming”.
        I beg to differ, for, like others, he makes tenuous deductions
without using proper interpretation of texts, adding that those of us
who object „claim‟ to be Christians and are „ignorant‟. Immediately,
this makes readers think that we must therefore NOT be Christians. It
is what I call „naughty argumentation‟, because it stirs mischief
instead of relying on mere facts. The same author also refers to us
as „hedonistic, self-centred, materialistic…and do not want any form
of authority‟ over us!
        Also typically, he refers to „church hoppers‟, without thinking
that they may not settle for very good reasons other than the ones he
has mentioned. It is true that many „hop‟ because they do not want to
be under authority. Only recently one of my own congregation left the
fellowship for this very reason, after being disciplined. So, yes, it
exists. But do not relegate all under this simplistic banner.
        The writer ought to remember that the term is a double-sided
coin. On one side are his arguments, but on the other is the side
usually kept quiet by critics – the heresy or hatred of pastors and
members, that force a genuine Believer from his spiritual home, often
after spending many years there. (Again, see „The Left Boot of
Fellowship‟). The more often he meets this kind of situation, the more
discerning he becomes, and this can lead to a very wary view of any
church. Then, the writer adds that not being a church member is
equal to rebelling against God!
        Schwertley admits that there are no direct references to
membership in scripture, only those that „infer‟. He says that God set
up „church officers‟. I object to this, because there are no „officers‟ in
the Church, only those who have an office. I am not playing with
words here, but trying to define as scripture does. There is nothing in
scripture on church government that says we have „officers‟.
        With this kind of view, I am not surprised when he then says:
“The existence of ecclesiastical rulers, governors or overseers,
presupposes there is a group of people to be governed.” We can see
from this what the writer really believes about church government. It
is no different from the monolithic structure of Rome!
        There are no „governors‟ in the Church! Christ is the only
Head, and He delegates authority to some, such as pastors. But they

are not equal to Him, nor are they „officers‟ – positions that belong to
the Jewish religion rather than to Christian fellowship.
        The writer presupposes that elders have a „rule‟ over people,
therefore, this means membership is acceptable. But this is not what
the texts on „rule‟ tell us! They simple state that elders have a duty of
care over other Christians in their local church. Why does this need
formal membership? The texts on elders having oversight do not
necessarily link with „membership‟.
        Brethren are supposed to obey those with oversight. True.
But, again, nothing in scripture links this with membership, or the
need for it. There is also an unbalanced view of discipline. Because
discipline exists, says Schwertley, this must mean that membership
is scriptural. Yet another false link. It is my view, from scripture, that
any Christian is potentially under discipline from any pastor or other
minister, whether known to each other or not. This fits the Biblical
model of a spiritual body far more than the model of an ecclesiastical
hierarchy and membership. It is also what we see in the work of Paul.
        In my doctoral thesis I mooted the point that a local church
can excommunicate a Christian who has not been dealt with properly
by his own church. How is this possible? Well, if we are all members
of the same Body of Christ we are all affected by the failure of other
parts. And, as one Body, each part of that body has a „say‟ in how
the others operate, for the effect is on the whole body.
        When, then, a man who claims to be Christian requires
excommunication but it is not acted upon by his own church, any
other church has the right (by familial relationship) to apply discipline.
In the same way, a man who has been legitimately excommunicated
by one church may not join another church unless he has undergone
proper acts of repentance, etc.
        The writer, time and again, resorts to implied terms rather than
express statements. He interprets texts in a way that they cannot
bear. This is because there are no rules of membership in
scripture…if we imply, we must accept that others can imply also, but
in a different way. This is because there are no rules or fixed
        I have no wish to attack this man, or to derogate his views.
Nevertheless, I protest at the way he turns implications into
authority…it is how cults operate! There are no rules in scripture
demanding formal church membership. I can happily attend a local
church and commit my services to it, without going through a formal

                              Chapter 8


        In 1986 there were a staggering 21,000 denominations in the
world! By 1997, a further 7,000 had been added to the list! (From
„The Christian Sourcebook‟). How can Christians justify 30,000
        Even at the time of the Apostles, some were “of Apollos” and
some were “of Paul”. So, denominations are nothing new! They even
existed in the time of Jesus – the Pharisees (to whom Paul once
belonged) had some beliefs that were similar to those of
charismaticism today. Though powerful in the Sanhedrin and in state
affairs, their influence grew less until they disappeared and new
sects appeared.

What are Denominations?
        One dictionary defines a denomination as a „class of people‟
or „religious sect‟. The latter description is about the best, for every
denomination is sectarian. That is, it attempts to set itself apart from
other groups of Christians (who are in different denominations), by
declaring a particular set of beliefs. It does this because it thinks its
beliefs, or range of them, are better than the beliefs of all other
        No doubt members and leaders of denominations will say this
is not the case; in no way are they saying their own denomination is
superior. This causes a question to be asked…if it is not superior,
then why belong to it? Another question arises…if a denomination is
not superior but is the same as any other denomination, then why
have different denominations?
        Members of denominations are fierce in their loyalty. (There
are exceptions of course). Just try saying that some of their
denominational beliefs are not valid! Does this loyalty reflect the
superiority of a denomination? Superior in which way?
        In practice a group of people decide that certain facets of
doctrine are not being properly taught or upheld within a
denomination. So, they leave the denomination they are in and start
another one, in order to teach what they believe is missing.
        Inevitably, those in the other denomination think those who
have left are majoring on their „new‟ favoured teachings, but are not
placing enough emphasis on certain other beliefs. This is really the
basic difference between one denomination and another – the
emphases placed on certain beliefs above all others.
        Another form of denominationalism is that which goes beyond
differences in beliefs and which ventures into matters of irrelevant
practices etc. Whereas many denominations began as a way of
placing emphasis on favoured Biblical teachings (or, what are
perceived to be teachings needed to be a „good Christian‟), some
add layer upon layer of totally irrelevant requirements not found in
        Two excellent examples of this are the institutions of
Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. (Roman Catholicism is an
example of a non-Christian system, but Anglicanism is a very close
second, because it is framed on similar lines). In these two major

denominations, large numbers of non-essential and non-scriptural
„rules‟ are insisted upon.
         Also, many unscriptural teachings have been introduced. In
the case of Roman Catholicism, such teachings outweigh or deny
scriptural ones, making it an ungodly cult outside the definition of
„Church‟. All of this is a sign of faithlessness, not of faith. Layers of
material not found in scripture indicate man‟s attempt at being
supreme. By calling their efforts by denominational titles and by
insisting on non-scriptural rules, they set up a completely human
edifice, similar to the Tower of Babel.
         The New Testament knows nothing of denominations. Indeed,
it inherently opposes them! Denominations, to a greater or lesser
degree, intentionally or not, place Man before God, human rules and
devices before Holy Law. Even the „free‟ or „independent‟ churches
are guilty of this, for nearly all local churches segregate themselves
from others for non-essential human reasons.
         There is only one Church…and every individual Believer,
past, present and future, belongs to it. At the very least,
denominations are irrelevant structures built by Man; at their worst,
they are power-bases founded on the shifting sands of men‟s sinful
pride. We must bear in mind that God‟s word does not suffer either
silly irrelevancies or crude attempts at displacing God‟s order of
things. Simply, denominations should not exist, because they are not
of the Holy Spirit.
         What of the very real ignorance concerning baptism that
spawned the Baptist church (for example)? Surely our forefathers
were right to bring attention to these things? Yes, they were certainly
right to do so…but we must return to a very simple fact – there is NO
SUCH THING AS THE BAPTIST CHURCH! Or the „Anglican‟ church,
or the „Roman Catholic‟ church, or the „Presbyterian‟ church etc. (The
actual denominational name does not matter).
         There is only ONE CHURCH and it belongs to Christ alone. It
cannot and must not be split into arbitrary chunks, to suit our whims,
or even our well-meant concern. Every church must be self-
governing and must have no higher human authority or consortium.
And, it is the duty of every local church to teach the whole doctrine of
God, not just the parts preferred.

Demolish Babel!
       The Tower of Babel lives – but under the name of opposing
denominations! The time to demolish them is TODAY…but who has
the spiritual maturity to do the work?
       Some call for us to shun denominational Christians or
churches. This is neither fair or Biblical. If those we know in
denominational churches are genuine Believers and they hold to
those teachings we know to be „major‟ parts of doctrine (such as
concerning salvation by grace, etc), then we have no right whatever
to shun them! They are our brethren, not heathen or cult members.
       If we look at, say, the Baptist Union churches, we can
correctly question the dues they pay to the Union itself. Why?

Because part of it is paid to the World Council of Churches, which is
not a Christian organisation. This does not make members of such a
local church „infidels‟…it just means that they are misled or
misinformed. It could even be that members want their money to go
to the WCC…even then, they are still our brethren – though they are
in error. We can also question their more recent affiliations with
charismaticism. Even so, if they are saved by grace alone, they are
         Similar errors occur in other denominations, which, in
themselves, do not warrant shunning or castigating. Such errors
must be pointed out – but this cannot be used as an excuse to act in
an unloving way toward the local church or its members. If their error
is more fundamental to the Christian message, then that is another
         Where the issue is serious, there is no option but to cut-off
from the denominational church, until its members repent (the same
applies to non-denominational churches). Denominations are not,
then, required or needed by God. They are not found in scripture
and serve no real purpose. So – why do we retain them? Think on it,
         “Denominationalism is a comparatively recent phenomenon”
says, and the distinctions arose when Puritans
disagreed between themselves as to the organisation of local
churches. Is this reason for splitting and making denominations?
“The eighteenth century revivals associated with Wesley and
Whitefield greatly encouraged the practice…” and “Although a true
denomination (author: apart from Roman Catholicism, that is) never
claims to be the only legitimate institutional expression of the church
universal, it frequently thinks itself to be the best expression, the
most faithful to the Scriptures and to the present activity of the Holy
         As the site correctly adds, “Had it not thought so…why else
would it have gone through the trauma of separating from…an older
denomination?” This is simply partisanship in action, sectarianism. It
is not the sign of one indivisible Church.
         The people of Calgary Church, Canada, have formalised their
opposition to denominationalism in an article. It says “Today, those
who profess to believe in…Jesus Christ, call themselves by other
religious names, instead of just wearing the name „Christian‟…there
is no unity in faith, doctrine, and practice, seeing that denominations
teach and practice different things that contradict one another, as
well as things that contradict the „apostles‟ doctrine‟.” (Jerry Vinson:
„The Way of Christ without Denominationalism. Can this be
         The fruit of denominations, says Vinson, include division,
atheism, and confusion. He says that we can either ignore all this, or
“we can have the courage to stand against denominationalism and
follow the way of Christ (only)”. Do you have this courage?
         About    100     years     ago,    Richard    Niebuhr      wrote
“Denominationalism…          represents     the    moral    failure    of

Christianity…before the Church can hope to overcome its fatal
division it must learn to recognise and to acknowledge the secular
character of its denominationalism.” (Quoted from „New Life for
Denominationalism‟, Hartford Institute for Religious Research, from
Christian Century, March 15th, 2000).
         The Hartfield Institute did a survey over two years and found
that denominationalism in the USA was most obvious in rural areas. I
am not sure if this is the same for other countries, but this is almost
the spiritual equivalent of inbreeding. What I mean is this – where
people do not meet with others, they will be quite content to look
inwards. The survey found that almost half of all congregations had
previously belonged to other denominations. It concludes that this
makes all denominations very fragile entities. This, to me, is
inevitable, for they are not required by God anyway.
         The survey referred to a Presbyterian minister who claimed
that if he did not constantly talk of predestination, then his
denomination would suffer. This is a weird thing to say; surely we
should talk of those aspects of doctrine that are in scripture, simply
because they are there? The denomination is inconsequential.
However, the whole report is interesting to read.
         Dr Dave Miller (quoted in „Is Denominationalism Scriptural?‟,
Apologetics Press Inc) says that the religion expressed in the New
Testament is blurred by Satan, who wants to fudge the distinctives
God demands. “Denominationalism occurs when religious
people…divide…on the basis of…different doctrines.” “(In John 17)
Jesus…prayed against religious division…” In Corinthians 1:10 is a
text that says “denominations (should) not even exist”.
         In „What Denominationalism Does to Christ‟ (
we read “This may sound shocking to many but the concept of
denominationalism…is not taught or sanctioned in the New
Testament. Jesus promised and did build „one body‟ or church…The
concept of many different churches was absent in the First
Century…Denominationalism is division personified. The essay goes
on to give a number of problems that arise from denominationalism.
         Cecil Willis („Denominationalism‟, Truth Magazine, vol. 10)
says: “Denominationalism is a synonym for division”. And “If one man
were to attempt to preach everything that denominationalism
teaches, he would be adjudged insane, so inconsistent are the
doctrines of sectarianism. These inconsistencies and divisions, says
Jesus, result in infidelity.”
         There is much written against denominationalism, yet I know
that most Reformed men refuse to accept that they belong to a
denomination. A denomination is a group that separates from
another group, in order to practice its own distinctives. To do so, it
leaves aside a number of other distinctives and so it becomes,
inevitably, unbalanced. Reformed churches are joined by the same
overall pattern of beliefs, and they reject patterns taught by others.
Therefore, Reformed churches belong to a denomination, whether or
not it is named. That is why they must take notice.

                              Chapter 9

                      Godly Counselling
                            is not
                   (or, the „Have-a-Go‟ sub-culture)

        “We must get down alongside the person” says the counsellor
(whether Christian or not). “We must begin with where he is. We
must understand his problem and his situation, before we do
anything to help” says the same counsellor. Sounds okay? Of course
it does.
        But do you remember the old Greek mythical tale of the
Sirens? They had such beautiful singing voices, they were able to
lure hapless sailors to their doom as they listened spellbound. Their
ships smashed against the rocks and sank, along with all on board.
What sounds good is not always proof of quality or of usefulness to
the Christian!
        Much of modern Christian „counselling‟ is, really, godless
theory wrapped in good intentions. Certain aims and practices are
against Biblical truth. But, often, many good Christian folk who „want
to help‟ others are led by their emotions and not by what God
        It reminds me of my early nursing days, when we would
protect a patient with diabetes by giving him or her the proper
medication and a strictly controlled diet. But relatives (or undertrained
staff), thinking that the patient was having a rough time of it, would
sneak in sweets and cream cakes, saying it was a „treat‟! What they
were doing was measuring the other person‟s well-ness against their
own preferences and ideas of what was good for the person. The
result was a wildly fluctuating bill of health for the poor patient,
frustration on the part of the people who were really helping…and a
scenario which could easily lead to death!
        Let us look briefly at the rule of Christian counselling. Really,
there is only one major rule, which determines the boundaries of
Christian helps. It is, simply, that we do what God wants, not what we
want. Then, we are not hampered by emotions and by what we think
is best. We do what God wants. A few short definitions will guide us
in this matter…
        Everything God says is „law‟. Because He is God and is
Perfect, His commands and requirements are also perfect.
Therefore, what He says must be Absolute. (Because God is not a
part of His creation, He Himself is above Absolutes). God cannot
change His mind, make a mistake, or act in an impromptu way,

because He knows everything, including what happens in the „future‟
(to God there is no time).
       Now, for human beings, God‟s word is found in the Bible.
Everything in it is absolute, because it has been uttered by Almighty
God. And what do we find? We find that God begins with Himself.
Not with Man!
       We cannot go into detail in this short introduction, but we can
put forward several guidelines for Christian counselling.

    We must always start, continue and end with what God says.
2. We do not waste time analysing a person‟s anxieties or wrongs.
   Instead, we start bluntly with God‟s Word (everything in the Bible
   is „doctrine‟ and is for our guidance). All else is secondary.
3. There is no such thing as „non-directive counselling‟ for the
   Christian. Where we see sin, we must warn against it. We do not
   take long periods to „get alongside‟ a person. Rather, we say
   “God says…”. That is always our starting point. It is our duty to
   bring a person back to God, not to beat about the bush and swim
   in his own errors and human mess! If all we can offer is to jump
   into the very same human thinking and to struggle alongside, then
   we have nothing to hope for!
    Once we have said what God wants, there is not much more
        to it. The „details‟ and the „situation‟ of any case can be
        endless and humanly complex. What God says is clear and
        unequivocal. So we start with God and leave the rest to the
        Holy Spirit.
    When God‟s requirements have been set forth, He expects a
        person to comply. If he does not, then he is out of God‟s will
        and is disobedient. And so his situation gets worse. It is
        essential for the person to (a) know what God wants and to (b)
        do it straight away. Let us assume that, in the midst of „getting
        alongside‟ a person, he dies. That would mean that we have
        discussed „meaningful‟ (human) things but we have not
        brought the person back to God!
    If God requires immediate compliance with His commands,
        then what is a
   counsellor doing when he „gets alongside‟ and spends many
   hours, weeks and months trying to unravel the mess made by
   relying on human feelings and ideas?

       Once a Christian has declared God‟s word he has to retire
from the situation until the person he has counselled comes back to
God. There is no more he can do except pray and guide, and be
there to help when the person wishes to repent.
       Is all this harsh? No – just an outline! The above is merely an
introduction to what has become an incredibly complex matter.
Counselling today falls far short of Christian honesty and godliness,
because it is centred on Man and not on God.
       The crux of it is very simple – what does God want? Once we
have satisfied what God wants, all else will fall into place. There may

be various „details‟ to sort out, but these are nothing when put
against complying with God‟s commands. Sin is the basis of most
counselling problems.
       Lack of sympathy? No, quite the opposite! It takes a real friend
to face a person with his or her sins and with God‟s commands. This
is because we are ourselves prone to sin and can fall foul of our
feelings. That is why it is imperative that we begin with God. We may
have sympathy in a limited sense…we can acknowledge that we,
too, could be in the same position because of our humanity and
sinfulness; we can offer help when such a fall must be „sorted out‟.
       Some counselling does not require directing a person to God‟s
commands – it may require pointing him or her toward God‟s
promises. Even so, His promises are inextricably linked with His
commands, so the process is very similar…God first, then Man‟s
„problems‟ after. There is nothing worse in counselling, than a
counsellor who refuses to direct or who does not clearly tell a man
what God requires. Yes tell, you do not „advise‟ or „discuss‟ or
„debate‟ the absolute Truths of God!

Amateurs Let Loose!
-why we don’t need ‘church counsellors’
        If a Christian has a specialist problem with, say, finance, or a
spot of bother with paying bills, he might legitimately go to see
someone at the Citizen‟s Advice Bureau…local churches do not
always have the expertise in their membership to be able to cope
with such immediate and pressing problems. Obviously, if there is
such expertise, then we ought to use it, rather than go outside our
        But, when it comes to the need for counselling, the situation is
very different. Those who are familiar with my writing will know that I
am against the sending of Christians to the psychiatric profession for
help, because psychiatry is based on humanism and eastern
religious theories.
        This refusal has often landed me in strife from Christians who
cry hot tears, demanding relief from their emotional symptoms. This
merely strengthens my resolve, for I do not believe in the existence
of so-called „mental illnesses‟ either…only in sins that produce
certain types of behaviour that the world calls „mental illness‟! (Note:
There are, however, a limited number of conditions caused by brain
abnormalities, that manifest as „mental‟ problems – these are not
included in my criticism).
        Mental illness exists because theorists grandly reject the idea
of sinful Man. They have to explain-away the behaviour of their
fellows who act strangely, so they come up with mental „illness‟!
        To deal with this massive trade in emotional cover-up, there
must be professional dealers – therefore, we have a huge band of
people ranging from rank-and-file nurses, to social workers, to
consultant psychiatrists, all dedicated to „relieving‟ a mythical
category of human ills. People sometimes need emotional help – but
they can do without being „made ill‟ by well-meaning „experts‟, who

insist on saying they are patients, rather than ordinary folk whose
emotions have got the better of them.

Professional Talkers
         Amongst     these     professionals      are     those     called
„psychotherapists‟. Some are nurses or social workers who, already
working in the invented world of psychiatry, wish to specialise in this
„talking therapy‟. They have a driving desire to „help‟ people…though
their actual motive might be rather more basic. That is, some folk are
naturally garrulous. They will talk and talk, to anyone who will listen!
         Others have a natural sleuth‟s mind and love to unravel
emotions and problems. Others love the idea of having people in
their power – and when someone is vulnerable because they are
„spilling the beans‟ to a stranger, they are very vulnerable indeed;
there is actual power in being the „counsellor‟ in these situations. And
some just like to be nosey.
         As one who was a „professional‟ in this field, I was more than
able to manipulate people, their emotions, their minds and their
resolve. When I realised the reality behind my activity, I stopped and
would never return to such a „profession‟ again. At first I excused
myself by hiding behind my professional title. Then, I came to see
that my „profession‟ was of no value in God‟s eyes and my activity
was all a sham.
         I was not being „Christian‟ at all – I was just being one sinful
human-being using sinful means to promote even more sin. (I will
explain that later). Thus, with greatest respect, I urge Christian
churches not to employ the ways of the world.

Amateur Meddlers
        Now we come to another category of „professional‟ – the
person who „trains‟ to be a counsellor outside the usual psychiatric
setting. A large number of training institutes have been set up to offer
training in psychotherapy and counselling, including those that are
„Christian‟. Some are based, directly or loosely, on the work of Jay
Adams. I am very familiar with his work, and the work of other
Christian counselling „experts‟ (the subject of my Master‟s degree).
Much of what they say is acceptable and good.
        Many churches now insist that their counsellors be „trained‟. In
terms of their acceptability amongst other, psychiatrically-trained
counsellors, these „outside‟ counsellors are amateurs. Those within
the psychiatric setting are the „professionals‟, because they work, day
in and day out, with the hard-core „mentally ill‟.
        Within the terms of this profession they are perfectly correct.
For my own part, for example, I trained for three years in a
psychiatric hospital on all kinds of wards. This was „hands-on‟
training backed by continuous on-site advice and practical
experience given by senior staff. And regular block release in nurse
training school gave me sessions from senior nurses, psychologists,
social workers and psychiatrists, supplemented by my own intensive
and extensive reading and activity.

       On the wards we had daily case conferences where the
condition of patients was debated and discussed in detail, alongside
drug and therapy regimes. When qualified, this intensive training was
topped up by training in psychotherapy, again in actual settings with
psychologists and psychiatrists alongside. In my time at the hospital I
was exposed to several major psychotherapeutic theories.
       Now, put the „training‟ of home-based „counsellors‟ alongside
that, and there is no comparison! One is a paid therapist working
daily amongst all kinds of „mentally ill‟ patients with continuously
updated information and training. The other is, for example, a
housewife who sees her friends now and then and thinks a bit of
occasional „training‟ will do the same job. It will not, for very obvious

I‟m No Advocate!
        By now, the reader will have come to the conclusion that I am
advocating in-depth full-time training for counsellors. He or she might
also think that because I am trained I wish to see others equally
highly trained. You would be very far from the truth! In the context of
psychiatry I was „highly trained‟…but in what? I was highly trained in
humanistic theories that covered an invented category of human
failure. In Christian and Biblical terms, all of that was worthless.
        The only thing I can point to of worth was the learned ability to
speak openly and honestly, and a logical approach to problems. But
even this only helps me in academic work. I also encountered people
who had shown and experienced the full range of sinfulness, from
incest and lies to murder, and an even wider range of signs and
symptoms. It is for this reason I once referred to psychiatric hospitals
as the devil‟s playground.

Want to Help? Why?
       The housewife‟s wish to „help people‟ simply does not bear
comparison with such a gamut of experience and knowledge. Yet, all
that experience and knowledge does not help in the churches!
Though I went on to gain psychology degrees, none of it aided the
churches. Yes, I could reason and talk in depth. Yes, I could use
logic and observe with a trained eye. Yes, I had knowledge others
did not have. And yes – folk would approach me as if I had
something wonderful to help them with. But, I did not! God works by
His own rules and they do not include the mumbo-jumbo of
humanistic psychiatry. I had nothing to offer.
       I therefore stopped playing the game taught by psychiatry.
God was not in it. The „housewife‟ (symbolic of all in our churches
who want to „have a go‟ at counselling) who „trains‟ in counselling in
order to „help‟ her fellow Believers is, it must be said, merely an
amateur in Satan‟s profession! She is dabbling in an area she does
not really understand and can do untold damage. Earlier, I said that I
was being used to promote even more sin. Let me explain, for even
our housewife counsellor comes into this statement.

Playing Satan‟s Game
         When „counselling‟ on a professional or amateur basis, we are
doing what Satan wishes. By learning human techniques and human
answers to human problems, we are grounding everything on
„training‟. Because such training uses theory and techniques it is not,
by definition, of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit deals quickly and gives
immediate results.
         Whenever we use techniques and human resources we are
playing Satan‟s game, in which he is the ultimate professional. Thus
all who try to be „counsellors‟ are just bumbling amateurs who are
complying with his wicked deceits, unaware of the part we play in
expanding his hold on sinners.
         Whether we use the highly detailed work of Jay Adams, or of
lesser known experts, we are unwittingly falling in to a trap. The trap
is that in an attempt to „help‟ others we are using the ways and
means of other human beings. It does not matter if this gives you a
„certificate‟, or affiliation to a „professional‟ organisation, or not. It is
still human beings following human beings. Adding scriptural texts to
our line of chat is irrelevant.
         In my own writing – including this chapter – I ask readers to
think for themselves and not to rely on me. Whatever I have done
was for my own life. There might be something in that life that might
help others. But, not necessarily. What I have written on counselling
is a warning not to follow other men and not to put technique above
Holy Spirit guidance, which requires no training, only a humble
reliance on Him, and holy discernment.

The Human Approach
        It would be very easy for me to develop a „Christian‟ approach
to counselling, a system to be copied, and then to open some kind of
institute, which would offer „training‟. But this would not be
appropriate in a Christian world already bursting at the seams with
„professional‟ and other „training‟ opportunities that are, really, of no
worth unless they only serve as pointers and not as actual remedies.
        I do not set myself up as a „counsellor‟, even with such a
wealth of training and experience behind me, yet I have counselled
folk Biblically for many years. Over those years, I have watched with
dismay as fellow Christians have attended their training sessions in
counselling, because I know that by doing what they are doing, they
are already proving they have not been called by God to counsel!
How can I say that?
        It can be said because I have gone through the same self-
deception, which told me that I had something to offer people. The
desire to help is nothing like the calling of Almighty God, through the
immediate guidance of the Holy Spirit. The lowliest, meanest,
poorest, least articulate Christian, can turn another life around,
whereas the highest, mightiest, most trained person cannot. The
difference is the Holy Spirit.
        I know many who think they are „counsellors‟. Some have
„trained‟ and some have not. And I also watch as people flock to their

doors, crying bitter tears and spilling out the most intimate details of
their lives. Friend, if YOU are in this position and people come to you
for help, please take stock of what you are doing. Let us look more
closely at the situation…(and I hope that pastors who read this will
take note and gently stop their fellow church members from acting
out an ungodly activity).
         The one who people flock to for counselling – look at that one.
One woman who people turned to, was, in truth, just a busy-body.
She pretended her illness was severe, when it was not, to elicit
sympathy. She spent all her time gossiping and prying into the lives
of everyone in her church. By prying she got to know many
details…then she proceeded to „give advice‟.
         Sadly, this „advice‟ was taken to be genuine „counsel‟, when it
was nothing of the sort. It was simply a gossip feeding her own
information-bank and ego! People often were heard to extol her
„virtue‟…see how she selflessly helps others when she is in so much
pain! See how people turn to her! But, when people were not around,
she was „miraculously‟ not in pain and acted normally! And she
talked about everybody behind their backs, spreading gossip and, at
times, malicious lies, all in the name of „counsel‟.
         That person was NOT a „counsellor‟ by any stretch of the
imagination, yet that is the kind of person who is accepted in many
churches as the one to go to with their problems!
         In my own case I never offer counselling, but if others came to
me needing help I would give it if the Holy Spirit prompted me to do
so. Otherwise I would not get involved. I am NOT a „counsellor‟ – I
am just another Christian who might, at times, be given a word of
wisdom or encouragement to pass on to others. I can also, at times,
be given a word of rebuke, for both are part of the Christian‟s daily

The Cult of Selfism
       I have also observed another type of „counsellor‟. This one
also has people turning up at her door. She (again, „she‟ is
representative of all Christians in this position, male or female) also
eagerly offers counsel. This eagerness is a clue to any pastor to
beware. I am very wary of giving counsel and certainly will not jump
forward to offer myself, or to „give advice‟ or „counsel‟, even if it is
hedged around by apt scriptural texts!
       The person who thinks she is a „counsellor‟ will delve deeply
into the person‟s past, looking for „reasons‟ for present emotional
disorders. She will keep on searching until she feels she has found
the answers. She will talk about the person‟s „body language‟ and the
way she looks or speaks. Then, she will patch-together all this
observation and come up with „counsel‟. (In reality her „observations‟
are actually her own interpretations, which are coloured by her
theories and chosen therapy‟s background influence).
       Friends, none of this is evidence of God‟s help! It is yet
another example of someone „having a go‟ – and badly at that.
Christians ought not delve in to the life of another to winkle-out past

sins and to expose them. If there are past sins, then the Holy Spirit
will deal with them, privately, not the avid „counsellor‟. Such a
counsellor is very intimidating, for she always boasts to others how
she can tell this or that from body language, or from the way
someone speaks or acts. Such a counsellor is very forward in telling
everyone she has the ability to counsel! Immediately, that makes her
the least qualified!
        Christians are just like anyone else and are easily swayed by
the claims of others. They will accept as true the claim that a person
is a „counsellor‟ just because he or she says so, and appears to be
able to delve deeply in to their lives. Thus they will flock to that
person for advice and counsel. It is inevitable and it is wrong. It is
nothing but prying, to delve deeply to uncover hidden sins…just
another priest in a confessional! If there are sins, then let God deal
with them, not the „counsellor‟.
        On many occasions those who wanted my help have actually
offered to give me many secrets of their lives, including sexual
information. But I refuse to listen. At times, such information is a way
of off-loading guilt on to the listener. It can also be a way of feeding
information that is really not needed. Or, it can even be thrilling to the
counsellee to tell another person of his or her most intimate sexual
        Others make a habit of „confessing‟ – this, too, is wrong, as
the person continually „confesses‟ to sins but rarely ever does
anything about them. The false counsellor cares nothing for these
facts. She just loves to take people‟s lives apart so that she can re-
assemble them in her own image!

All Christians Can Counsel
        What I am saying, then, is this – pastors truly called by God
are automatically given the office and gifts to counsel in a godly way.
All Christians are given wisdom and knowledge to help their fellow
        It is a fallacy that there must be „special‟ people set apart as
‟counsellors‟. You will not find anything of this kind in God‟s word.
Rather, you will find ordinary Christians who help each other. Thus,
today I will be used (by God through the Holy Spirit) to counsel you.
Tomorrow, you will be used to counsel me. That is God‟s very simple
way of dealing with matters within the churches.
        It is true that some Christians will be gifted especially to help
others. But, this is a gift and calling, not simply a desire to „help‟.
Such gifting is done quietly and without fanfare. The one used will not
go around her church telling everyone about body-language or deep
sins that need probing and bringing to light! That is just human
interference and sinful pretence.
        Beware, pastor, of allowing such folk to meddle with the flock
of Jesus Christ! They are wolves, even if they are Christians. They
are promoting Satan‟s ideas, and are not acting out the will of God.
And they intimidate others, making them afraid to open their mouths

in the supposed „counsellors‟ presence. They can even cause others
to stop attending meetings.
        Beware, fellow Christian, if you have such an one in your
midst. Do not give credence to the person by letting her convince you
of her own worth! Do not let double-talk about body language,
counselling, therapy and solving mysteries of the mind, persuade you
to think of that person as being an „expert‟. She is an amateur in
Satan‟s own profession and she is being duped, just like you are for
listening to her!

Don‟t Feed Satan
        Do not feed that „counsellor‟ with information. Just cut short
any conversation in which she tries to illicit personal details from you.
Tell her that body language cannot be divorced from many other
details, such as personality, state of mind, level of knowledge and
education, general intelligence, and a multitude of other factors she
is very unlikely to understand or know about.
        The one who continually tells others of her counselling skills is
the very one to avoid if you have a problem! Better to keep quiet and
suffer than go to her. Seek God‟s counsel and He will either show
you by way of His own word in the Bible, or He will point you toward
the pastor, or he will arrange things in such a way that you will
suddenly be introduced to the Christian who will help. And that
person will NOT be the local church‟s self-proclaimed, humanly-
trained „counsellor‟.
        A church that has a „trained‟ counsellor is acting very
unwisely. God works His will through the office of the Holy Spirit and
NOT through trained counsellors. King David, like Samuel and the
other prophet-leaders, sat at the city gate to listen to problems. They
were guided by God Himself to make answer. But, Absalom, David‟s
son, desired to be the one at the gate. He wanted others to flock to
him with their problems. That made him the least useful of men to go
        If you need counsel, turn to God, not to men (or women). Ask
Him for His help and He will provide the right person…and it certainly
will not be the self-confessing „counsellor‟ who reads her popular
psychology books, scrutinises your body language and insists on
knowing every intimate detail of your life, including sexual behaviour!
        If you give her all this information, you are then in her power
and will always feel an unhealthy attraction to her, like that of a
hostage to her captor…or a penitent to her local Catholic priest. Yes,
we are talking about fellow Christians, here, not about pagans or

Trained Counsellors Not Needed
       The answer is very simple – local churches should not have
trained counsellors. They should have a people open to, and
obeying, the Holy Spirit. In this way every Christian is a counsellor at
some point. God does not devolve His power and authority to one
person in a church. He does not require her (or him) to train in

human means, even if those means have been developed by
       Not so long ago I received a letter crying out for help, from one
of our newsletter readers, involving a wayward son who was then in
a mental hospital. There was an immediate resonance in my spirit to
reply so I prayed for the wisdom to write back, which I did that very
same hour. The letter was very brief and did not really take much
notice of the various sordid details. It also called the son to
repentance and a change of life. The letter was shown to the son and
he immediately complied with the word of God in spectacular fashion,
for God had spoken, not me.
       The son is now back in his church and is doing fine. None of
this was my doing, even though it was a dramatic answer to his
parent‟s prayers. God pointed them toward me for help. I then
pointed them back to God and His word, ignoring the huge variety of
human sins that led to the son‟s failure.
       You see, the sins we commit are not the things we ought to
focus on. We need to tell the one sinning to stop his sins. He must
repent and turn back to God. This requires no knowledge of deep
past sins and intimate details. (If they are needed for some reason,
then God will bring them forth, not the counsellor).
       The most dramatic „deliverances‟ I have seen are those that
were straight from God, immediate, and used few words. When
people think they can „counsel‟ and resort to such things as body-
language, and in-depth examination of intimate details, there might
be a temporary relief of sorts. But it will not be the triumphant
success given by God Himself.
       Let me say it yet again – if you need counsel, the one you
ought to avoid is the one who claims to be a counsellor! If such a
person has to tell others he or she is a counsellor, then this is proof
that he or she is not giving God‟s counsel.

Let God Do It!
       Local churches should never encourage a man or woman,
though Christian, to be known as a „counsellor‟, or to train as one.
That is because every Christian is a „counsellor‟, used as and when
God sees fit. That means he or she might be used today to counsel
someone, but will not be used tomorrow. A highly visible, spectacular
„success‟ with one person, might be the only time God will use a
particular Christian.
       Today, I give counsel, tomorrow you give counsel. God uses
every Christian to counsel every Christian. That is how it works.
Forget the books and the courses. Instead, read scripture and pray.
Meditate on God‟s word and do not seek out opportunities to
counsel. If you are to counsel someone, God will ensure that the two
of you meet at the right time…no need for drawn-out meetings and
structured discussions. So, stop that „counsellor‟ nonsense
immediately, or you sin!
       Most concerns do not need counsel as such anyway.
Christians usually seek „counsel‟ for emotional problems, and these

are mainly caused by sin, either in one‟s self or in others. The answer
is very simple and intimate details are not required. Can you see
what I am saying?

Counselling Is Satan‟s Domain
         Churches who have counsellors are playing Satan‟s game
without knowing it. Satan is watering-down God‟s word in minds and
hearts by off-loading people on to „counsellors‟. By using human
techniques, they effectively declare that God does not have the
answer to everything. This leads to men and women taking over what
God should be doing. In other words, they are sinners, promoting sin
in those who need deliverance from their sin! They are leading
Christians away from God, not toward Him.
         Often, they do their counselling because they are busy-bodies,
or because they have a vaunted belief in their own abilities, or
because they just love to find solutions, or because they want power
and like to manipulate. I repeat – these are sincere Christians we are
talking about, not charlatans or obviously sinning pagans out to „get
         To counsel others is a privilege and a duty, but it ought not to
be sought out as a desired permanent activity by well-meaning (and
not so well-meaning) Christians in the local church. The „counsellor‟
does not exist in scripture as a separate person.
         Counsel should be given by all Christians whose lives and
hearts are toward God and who are prompted by the Holy Spirit to
give counsel ad hoc. There is no training. There are no books. No
certificates. No hovering around seeking out people to counsel. No
telling everyone how good you are as a counsellor! God will use
whoever He wishes at any time.
         Take a step back and meditate on God‟s word. The Holy Spirit
will gladly help those who rely on Him. A number of Christian
counselling centres have arisen over the past decade or so. In my
past I studied „Biblical‟ types of counselling, including the kind
espoused and detailed by Jay Adams. In my MA thesis I compared
the major Christian counselling techniques with secular techniques
and, sadly, found very little difference in them.
         Counselling, by its very nature, takes time. Some of it takes a
lot of time. But God demands change immediately, not in time. If we
sin (the usual cause of problems requiring counselling) we are not
asked to think about it and to be counselled. We are charged with
offending God and commanded to repent immediately. No more
needs to be said!
         Sometimes, the one needing help has not contributed to the
original problem, but goes on to sin by not relying on God‟s mercy
and grace for help. This is also sin and needs immediate repentance.
That means counselling is a luxury not given by God. Instead of
counselling we should have general and consistent Bible teaching by
men called by God to the task. We should teach sound doctrine and
not wait until men and women fall foul of God and their own

        I used to counsel folk, first in psychiatry and then in the
church. But I came to see how futile it all was. My role was to help,
but I hindered fellow Christians by allowing them to carry on with their
sins whilst we chatted about it! What I should have done was to have
challenged their sin by confronting it, then warn them to repent, and
tell them to change. Yes, we can stand alongside and assist in that
change with proper Bible teaching and personal friendship. But, that
is it. The rest is up to the other person, who, by God‟s law, MUST
change, straight away.
        One of the best and most Biblical books on the subject was
written by Dr Robert Law (an ex psychiatrist) and Malcolm Bowen,
„Breakdowns are Good for You‟. It speaks against both psychiatric
and counselling involvement, and squarely teaches that sin is usually
at the bottom of all emotional and so-called „mental‟ problems, a fact
that I endorse fully. What is needed, according to this book, is solid
doctrinal teaching and instant repentance and change.
        Interestingly, psychologists themselves think that Biblical
counselling techniques are wrong („Why Biblical Counselling is
Unbiblical‟, John H. Coe, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola
University, 1991). The reasons given are different from any I would
give, but it still is interesting, coming from a psychology department.
        I did a counselling unit when studying with London Bible
College, but had to be very critical of its contents. However, LBC did
not acknowledge a communication I sent them regarding this. Sadly,
then, Bible colleges continue to teach prospective pastors the
elements of „counselling‟, even though counselling has no Biblical
basis. issues a powerful article against Biblical
counselling, „Christian Counselling Courses – are they just fine?‟. It
describes a scenario that is becoming reality in the UK „Christian‟
charity market, in which genuine, saved, theologically-trained
ministers are turned down for pastorates because they have not
undergone a variety of „counselling‟ courses.
        These courses did not exist for 2000 years, so why are they
now so vital? The article says that the courses rarely mention Jesus
or scripture, though they claim to be „Biblical‟. Instead, Freud is given
credence (though in secular circles his work is hardly ever mentioned
and is even discredited!), when his work has nothing safe or right to
say. Liberal thought is enjoined in these courses, and everyone must
be „politically correct‟. Pluralism replaced the truth of One God and
follow the ways of the current world, and not scripture. The basis of
all Christian thought is scripture. Therefore, courses that ignore this
are not Biblical at all.
        There is nothing wrong with using knowledge gained by this
world‟s experts. I personally have gleaned much from my own
psychology studies and work in the past. However, I have to use the
knowledge wisely, and not ascribe to them the basis for wisdom.
Only scripture has this. It is about time that counsel was left to
Christians called by God to give it.

                             Chapter 10

                      An Anomaly –
                   Calvinistic Arminians

        Generally, Calvinists refer to Arminianism as an heresy, and
this is how it is described in Reformed literature. So, why, then, do so
many Reformed preachers and pastors use Arminian principles to
reach the people?
        Take a very simple statement: “Come to Christ NOW, for you
may not be given another opportunity” (or) “Tomorrow might be too
late!” This seems perfectly reasonable, but it is not what it seems.
        Preachers may legitimately call on their hearers to treat the
Gospel urgently. But, when they then take it beyond a simple
statement, it becomes heretical and wrong. The first phrase (Come
to Christ now) in the statement above is acceptable, but the latter
phrase, and its alternative, is not. Why? Because the latter phrases
are basic Arminian doctrine and should not be used by those who
claim to be Reformed. Think this is nit-picking? Then why not go
back in time and tell that to our spiritual forefathers who fought
theological battles over this very issue?
        Early theologians (including Romanists) spent years debating
single words and their meanings, so they would not be amused or
tolerant of modern-day Christians who say whatever they wish
without thought or conscience. The uttering of a few phrases is not
the main problem. The problem is in the fact that Reformed men are
preaching and teaching from their own minds and hearts, and not just
as superficial errors of utterance.
        If these men use Arminian words and phrases in public
speaking, then be assured that they have not properly thought-out
their theology. It also shows that they are not truly Reformed at all.
Words matter!
        If words did not matter, why did Paul condemn variances in
gospel preaching? Why did he say that those who did not preach the
exact same message as he and the other Apostles preached are
anathema, if words did not matter? Paul did not preach anything
unless he meant what he said. It is a great pity that later preachers
did not do the same…including me in my earlier days! Read his
condemnation in Galatians…
        Reformed preachers, genuine Christians, must use words as
though they were handling bombs, otherwise they can mislead their
hearers and even take them along a path of heresy. Almost without
exception, I hear Reformed preachers use Arminianism as a
backdrop. Yet, see what Paul said? There is no way that a Reformed

man can preach even a diluted Arminian gospel after what Paul said
– because words really do matter!
       Whenever a man speaks, even in ordinary situations, we can
detect a „pattern‟ in what he says. A man who is racist will gradually
express his prejudices over a period of time in ordinary language. A
man who is libertarian will prove his immorality. And a Christian who
uses language loosely proves beyond doubt that he cares nothing for
God‟s word and does not understand the theological implications of
what he says.
       A man who actually believes in God‟s word will study it. He will
be careful only to use terms and phrases that are consistent with
what God says, especially if it is connected with a direct command.
He will enter into a form of thinking that links one text with another,
so that he thoroughly imbibes scriptural principles. And when all this
has been done, and is the natural activity of the man, it will show in
everything he says.
       Is this forced or restrictive? No, it is being true to God‟s word!
Whenever we speak we should be portraying what God says
accurately. No Christian can afford the sinful luxury of
misrepresenting what God is telling us, for one set of words can lead
us to the pit whilst the other set can reveal God‟s glory.
       Does our pattern of speech inform hearers of our close liaison
with the Holy Spirit, or not? If we can effortlessly portray God‟s words
accurately and if we consistently reveal predestination and election in
everything we speak about, then it shows that we have an internal
consistency. It shows that we believe what we preach and teach and
are not simply saying something off the top of our heads.

Teachings of Arminius
        (James Arminius or Jacob Harmenszoon, of the Dutch
reformed Church, born 1559). If we read the actual declarations by
Arminius, we find that he closely followed scripture in many ways, but
failed at a vital juncture.
        Arminius‟ controversies began in a small way in 1591, when
he gave an unscriptural interpretation of Romans chapter 7.
Basically, he suggested that the struggle depicted in that chapter was
pre-conversion. Calvinists opposed this, and rightly so, because it
implied that Man can choose God. In 1593 he again preached a
sermon that Calvinists sharply disputed. Otherwise, his pastorate
was generally quiet.
        Then, in 1603, Calvinists objected strongly to government
proposals to give the position of theologian in the University of
Leiden to Arminius. The government therefore left it to the one
member of faculty remaining, a staunch Calvinist named Franciscus
Gomarus, to interview him. Remarkably, he found Arminius suitable
and so he was professor.
        No-one knows why he was chosen to office, but it could
possibly be that he was just a very nice person. The alternative is
either that Gomarus did not probe deeply enough, or Arminius
evaded direct questions, or even lied.

         In following years Calvinists questioned the growing list of
suspect books that Arminius asked students to read. Gomarus was
led to be suspicious about his stand on predestination. It reached a
point where a national synod was needed to examine what Arminius
taught – but the government refused to allow it. Later, in 1608, it
conducted an investigation.
         In that year, Arminius wrote his „Declaration of Sentiments‟,
which provided a general summation of his beliefs. He claimed that
he was only trying to protect the church from Calvinistic extremism.
However, Gomarus insisted that this was not the case, and
underlined justification by faith as the main issue. However, the
matter was not resolved and Arminius died in 1609 before answering
his critics properly. Interestingly, he was considered to be of „good
standing‟ in the Dutch Reformed Church. This emphasises the fact
that many heretics are thoroughly nice as people.
         Basically, Arminius said that it was our faith that obtained
salvation. Calvinists (and the scriptural position) state that God
predestinated people before the creation of the world to salvation (or
         Once we state this latter position, which is entirely scriptural,
no other position is possible, for God cannot change His mind.
Obviously, if He chose who would be saved before He even made
the world, there is no possible way men can choose their salvation!
In his teaching, also, Arminius had a hint of saved souls being lost
         Arminius seemed to be quite loving in his dealings on the
matter: he wanted to ascribe salvation to God‟s grace, yet he did not
wish to see loss of choice by human beings. His error was his idea
that “as much as possible (is obtained by) divine grace”. By making
God‟s choice and grace fit “as much as possible” Arminius left it open
to doubt and error, and so his views led to the theory of God‟s grace
not being entirely efficacious. In itself this is blasphemy, for it says
that God can do something that is not effective.
         It is interesting that Arminius was suspected of falling under
the influence of Jesuits (Suarez and Bellarmin) during his stay in
Italy. Is this why Rome looks favourably upon Arminius? It has been
said that Arminius‟ arguments were not so much those of theology as
of philosophy, and I can see why, for his debate is not with scripture
but with his own emotional response to scripture…the same
response that we see everywhere where men reject scripture as it is
         The end result was Man choosing salvation and Christ not
being the final Saviour, but only One Who makes salvation possible
(something I hear in many Reformed and charismatic sermons). Just
as Darwin did not deliberately set out to undermine the Church or
God, so Arminius did not deliberately attempt to undermine God‟s
grace – but that is what he did. No matter how small the seed, it grew
into immense proportion, so that today we have a whole root and
branch that is not Christian, but is heretical.

        His views also included the idea that faith was given to men
because of their righteousness – but this is alien to anything taught in
scripture, which states that faith, too, is a gift from God and cannot
be earned or learned.
        Overall, then, Arminius changed true Reformed teaching on its
head, denying the central positional belief that God chooses Man to
be saved. It should be emphasised that this is not just Calvinism – it
is scripture, as taught by Calvin. That Calvin taught this truth makes
no difference to scripture. That Calvin had some rather questionable
personal traits also makes no difference to the truth.
        Later, those ministers who wished freedom to preach
Arminianism wrote their „Remonstrance‟ to the government for
protection. They summarised their beliefs in five points. Since that
time all Reformed men refer to the „Five Points of Calvin‟…though
Calvin never provided five points. What happened is that later
Calvinists wrote back in reply to the five points of Arminianism. It is
from this treatise that history confused the five pojnts with Calvin!
        In 1618 the Synod of Dort, held at Dordrecht, attempted to
discuss the dangers provoked by Arminianism. William Ames, a
Puritan, wrote: “(Arminianism) is not properly a heresy but a
dangerous error in the faith tending to heresy…a Pelagian heresy,
because it denies the effectual operation of internal grace to be
necessary for the effecting of conversion and faith.” Thus Ames was
directing Christian back in time to the battle between Augustine and
Pelagius (who taught the natural end result of Arminian-style thinking
– that a man can choose salvation by his own natural ability of
        Though the Synod was hailed as a great example of
protection of the true faith, Arminianism has become the main
pretender in our day to the throne of the Gospel. The above are just
the main facts – can you still, as a Reformed Christian, accept
Arminianism in any form, knowing that it is the seed that produces
heresy of the greatest type?

Arminius‟ Argument
       Arminius‟ case rested on five points which can be outlined as
1.     God decreed to save those who believe in Jesus Christ,
       through the Holy Spirit. Only those who are incorrigible and
       unbelieving are left in sin.
2.     Christ died for all men (not just for the elect), but no-one
       except the believer has remission of sin.
3.     Man cannot do anything truly good of his own self or of his
       free will until he is born again of God, in Christ, through the
       Holy Spirit.
4.     All good deeds and actions in the regenerate must be
       ascribed to the grace of God, but His grace is not irresistible.
5.     Those who are saved are enabled by God to persevere in the
       faith, but it is possible for him to fall from grace (e.g. lose his

       Perhaps you can see the flaws in those five points? Calvinists
       could, and that is why they opposed Arminius.

        In many cases of heresy, the sin of bad doctrine may appear
in only a few words or phrases. They make a huge difference to
thinking and action, so words must never be used badly. Charismatic
error is founded on Pentecostal error, and both are founded on the
errors of centuries. Remember – to preach differently from the
preaching of the Apostles and Christ is anathema!
        Charismatic preaching is anathema because it rejects the
Gospel as being one of God choosing men and women for salvation.
Once we say that men and women may choose God to receive
salvation, we immediately change the vital truth into a lie. They are
opposite claims! How can they both be true? And how can Reformed
men, who supposedly believe in the teachings of Calvin, possibly use
Arminian terms in their preaching or teaching? If they do so
inadvertently then we can understand. But if they consistently use
Arminianistic terms and phrases, then we know something is amiss
in their thinking and allegiance (to God‟s word, that is, not to Calvin).
        Men do not choose God. They do not choose salvation. They
do not have „free will‟ in its purest form. To choose their own
salvation is an impossibility. Men must respond to God‟s call to
salvation, but even the response is given as a free gift by God,
otherwise it makes a mockery of predestination and election!
        Just as true prayer is given by God to pray, so salvation is
given as a free gift. It cannot be claimed by our own desire to be
saved, because in our unsaved state we are led by Satan our father
and we are incapable of making such a choice. That is what scripture
        It is a truism that charismatics, and other cultists, resort to
using texts that are minor or peripheral in an attempt to prove their
cases. Yet, true interpretation requires that we interpret texts in a
normal manner. That is, we look at what is obvious. (See section on
interpretation). Cultists specialise in peripheral texts and twist them to
mean what they wish them to mean. What they ought to do is find out
what the obvious texts say first. This is vital, because if they later
come across texts that appear to contradict the main meanings, then
the „contradictory‟ meaning cannot exist at all, for God will not
contradict Himself.
        To give an example, all the texts except for one, dealing with
tongues, interpret as „foreign languages‟. But those who wish to
believe a lie concentrate on just one rhetorical text that suggests that
angels have a separate language. They ignore all the rest! (See my
article on tongues). Though plainly rhetorical, the text is treated as
though it were factual, so that charismatics can retain their heretical
        Commonly, Reformed preachers persist in using language
badly, and thus use terms and phrases in Arminian fashion. This
usage has increased since the onset of the Toronto Blessing, which

popularised all kinds of heretical words, phrases and ideas. The
ideas of the Toronto Blessing are now encapsulated and refined in
the Alpha Course, yet who amongst our Reformed brethren speaks
against this Romano-Charismatic deception?
        They do not do so because they believe – as do all who do not
understand the importance of language – that one or two badly used
phrases are somehow acceptable even though those wrongly taught
words and phrases are completely at odds with God‟s word! When
they are given at vital junctures (such as salvation), then they must
be relegated to the pit. They are not equal to the truth, but are
outright lies that must be condemned.
        I despair of Reformed brethren if they cannot see this! Like rot
in an apple barrel, one small error quickly increases to two until the
whole lot is rotten. That is how Romanism began its descent into total
heresy. It began with the arrogant claim to supremacy by the Roman
bishops and quickly led to countless heresies added one on top of
        So, friends, what excuse can you give for preaching
Arminianistically? I was once very good at preaching that way. I did it
because I had the genuine desire to see souls saved. I thought,
wrongly, that I had to make things interesting, or that I had to insist
that people were saved right then and there, or it could be „too late‟. I
used jokes and tried my very best to bring things alive to my hearers.
Then, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and showed me my error and I
immediately stopped. With horror I looked at what I had been doing,
and realised that I had only been following the example of Reformed
men I had admired. It was then that I began to listen with new ears,
and it was the start of my withdrawal from all that I had known.
        I had to completely rethink everything, from top to toe. What I
discovered was a minefield of error, the errors sprinkled liberally
amongst the truths. As each error I once accepted blew up in my
face, so I picked my way even more carefully through my past, until,
at last, I began to see the way out.
        After some years at this, I listened with amusement as earnest
Reformed men told me that I had lost my way. I was no longer angry
at them. If anything I was saddened because they were still stuck in
their traditional ways of thinking.
        Some traditions are good, but others are bad. Will you be
bothered to examine the very basis of your thoughts and beliefs?
What is at stake is not God‟s truth, but erroneous perceptions and
wrongly held views.
        Arminianism is fundamental to the belief systems of many
cults. For example, charismatics who hold to the Latter Rain theory.
They think that Calvinism is „one sided‟ because it refutes the notion
of man‟s response. But this is an error, for Calvin never did reject the
idea. Latter Rain-ists believe that Arminianism „balances‟ the claims
of Calvinism and brings about „unity‟. They say that those who reject
Arminianism are „hard-core Calvinists‟.
        “For the most part Protestants and Pentecostals now accept
the tenets (of Arminianism) and it conforms to the Catholic positions

of the Council of Trent.” That statement ought to immediately make
any Reformed preacher sit up and take notice, for anything Rome
accepts should be examined very closely.
        The writer of the above quote ( also says
“Each one of us should accept both predestination and free will
because they are both taught in the bible”. But, they are not!
Nowhere in scripture can you find that man has a free will. If he is
unsaved, his will is the plaything of Satan and he has no choice but
to follow what his „father‟ says. Everything he does is sin. That is
what scripture says.
        The saved man has choice, but not free will. Even Adam did
not have free will. Jesus did not have free will, and neither does God
Himself! God is bound by His own laws and commands; Jesus Christ
is bound by the Father, and the saved are bound by the Trinity. No
man on earth can ever have free will, at least not in its proper sense.
A limited use of his will, yes, but not „free‟ will that enables him to
choose whatever he wishes without consequences.
        It seems that Latter Rain adherents, etc., do not understand
the term „free will‟ or its implications. They say that to argue over the
matter is stupid and divisive, but the issue is far deeper than mere
argument. It has to do with God‟s sovereignty as described in
scripture. The debate, if taken to its logical conclusion, must question
His sovereignty. We cannot just let the argument run so far and then
shut up!
        Charismatics and other Arminianists claim that Calvinists (a
term wrongly used of anyone who believes in predestination coupled
with God‟s absolute choice of those who will be saved) deny the
existence of spiritual gifts, free will, baptism in the Holy Ghost (as a
separate action after salvation), resistible grace, and salvation for all
who wish to be saved. This might be true of hardened Calvinists, but
it is not true of all who hold to a Reformed view.
        For myself, I believe in the spiritual gifts, because that is what
I find in scripture. I refuse to believe in man‟s „free will‟ because it is
not found in scripture and is a philosophical absurdity. I do not
believe in a second activity known as „Holy Ghost baptism‟, because
scripture teaches that the Spirit is in every man who is saved
        I do not believe that God‟s will can be resisted, but that we
may disregard what God says only when God decrees that we are
under His judgement, and thus we defy Him as a result. And I reject
man‟s freedom to choose God because such freedom is not spoken
of in scripture. The fact that God chose who would be saved before
the world was made is sufficient proof in itself to deny the notion.
Anyone who tries to deny this teaching denies God‟s word, not
        Note that Reformed teaching is that Christ died as a penalty
for our sins, but true Arminianism denies this, saying that this would
mean He died for everybody, and so nobody would ever enter hell.
This, however, only makes sense if we hold to Arminianism. Christ
did die for „everybody‟ – everybody who was elected before the world

began. Therefore, the statement remains true, despite the flaws in
Arminian theology…flaws commonly held today by a huge number of
Reformed Christians.
        Those who attack predestination (by direct action, as by
Arminians, or by indirect action, by Reformed Christians who fall
back on Arminianism without realising its destructive effect) do so
when thinking that the Synod of Dort / the Canons of Dordt are a
complete summation of predestination, which they are not.
        The Canons were a specific answer to the five points of the
Remonstrants, not a definitive work of complete Calvinistic theology!
That is why the Canons do not touch on other vital matters. (In a
Formula of Subscription the Canons are described as “the
explanation of some points”, whilst the Belgic Confession and the
Heidelberg Catechism deal with a more comprehensive theology).
        It is also why someone such as myself can believe both in
predestination and the spiritual gifts (for example), when more
denominationally-tied Reformed men do not. Very often I am
attacked by this or that critic with little knowledge, who bemoan the
fact that I do not tackle everything at once in a paper.
        I have to instruct the critic that he has read not a full treatise of
mine on all matters, but a response to particular and specific issues,
which have been addressed with proper economy! Indeed, I refuse to
be forced into providing more or less a complete anthology of
theological positions when I wish to respond to only a particular
subject which, by its nature, does not include everything under the
        The attacks of Arminians, then, are often vague or ill-
constructed. Overcome by their need for universal love, they charge
Calvinists with lack of it, because they insist on predestination. This
is nonsense, yet it is enough for Calvinists and other Reformed men
to give in to pressure and preach an Arminian gospel that is
anathema. It is not lack of love that makes me preach predestination
and God‟s choosing of men to salvation, but the simple presence of
texts that prove it beyond any doubt.

Selective Preaching
        It is a sad fact that too many Reformed pastors refuse to
preach certain subjects, or avoid them, rather than face subsequent
anger from Arminian congregations. I know because I personally
have met these men, who admit to their failure. The result is that they
finally receive their free house or pension, or they have retained their
„stipend‟ – but to get them they have dishonoured the Lord by their
        And, in order to do this, they must have totally misrepresented
the rest of scripture, and rewritten textual interpretations that they
may fit the sentiments of their disgruntled hearers. To avoid
preaching certain texts or aspects of theology is not, then, just a
matter of being silent on certain facts. It must include a distortion of
facts as well as living a personal lie. How many Reformed preachers

and pastors live this lie? Too many! Such men are just as much
deceivers as any charismatic leader or Romanist priest.
       I am talking about, and to, men saved by grace and who wish
to love God with all their hearts. But, they have gone astray for fear
of men. If you are one of these men, stop and turn back to the true
path immediately, before God brings you down in His wrath. Get
back to what you ought to be, regardless of the cost to your
pastorate, or the loss of income to your ministry. God will provide
whatever is needed.

                             Chapter 11

                     Some Final Words

         Do    not   accuse     me     of    writing    against    saved
Calvinists/Reformed brethren. Whilst they furnish us with more than
enough evidence concerning their misjudgements and errors, this
book is not primarily about castigating them. The book is about
highlighting certain problems within their ranks.
         They are problems that enable them to live without true
conscience. I know because I used to live the same way. To my
embarrassment I used to mimic them in my preaching and teaching!
What a disaster that was! I was not being myself, but tried my best to
copy those I heard from our pulpits. The result was a stilted and
badly-formed message, with one eye set on my peers, to see if they
approved. What a farce!
         As time wore on I could see that I was trying to copy error, and
so the very act of copying was itself an error. I repented of that
mistake and went on from strength to strength in the Lord, Who
graciously showed me a far better way and a more authentic faith.
         When we try to copy any spiritual system devised by men we
will fail. Reformed churches claim to follow the tenets of Calvinism,
but how many actually know what Calvin said? And how many know
that to follow a mere man is error? I am now able to accept what is
God‟s word in Calvin‟s work, without being his follower, to the
consternation of both Reformed and Arminian teachers!
         There is enough in this book to initiate deep thought in
readers. But, will you enter into such thought, with the very real
possibility of allowing it to change your whole life? It certainly
changed mine.

                            APPENDIX 1

                       ‘The Power of
                      Prayer Meetings’
                          K. a critique

        This assessment of „The Power of Prayer Meetings‟ by Dr.
Peter Masters, should be read in conjunction with chapter 4 of this
book. Dr. Masters‟ booklet is published by Sword and Trowel, and is
available through Christian bookshops, or direct from Metropolitan
Tabernacle, Elephant and Castle, London, SE1 6SD.
        It is possible that Dr Masters read my article before writing the
booklet, published in 1995. I say this tentatively, because several
phrases and ideas found in it appear in my own work (the first was
published about 1985).
        Of course, the similarities might easily be coincidental; at any
rate, this does not make any difference to the content of the critique. I
have a deep belief that Christians must discuss their differences
properly and fully. Sadly, many think this is not acceptable and so
any form of opposition or criticism is swept under the carpet. In Christ
I am free to state my case, just as Dr Masters and others may state
        My aim is not to discredit Dr Masters or to cause others to
think of him in a discourteous manner. The aim is simply to teach
what scripture says which, I believe, I have done adequately in this
book. In it, I openly invite others to show me any Biblical error, so
that I can rewrite my treatise if necessary.
        Soon after I wrote the original article, the Evangelical Times
kindly read it and said that though they accepted the main thrust of
its argument, they were not so sure about one or two details (though
they did not specify which details). I was grateful to them for
graciously giving the Article a brief mention in their „paper.
        Now, I wish to show Christians why I continue to uphold my
original treatise, by critiquing the work of Dr Masters. I use his work
for the purpose because it so closely follows my own thinking in its
earlier sections and because his booklet has been read by many
Christians. Indeed, I was prompted to read the booklet because one
of my own readers wrote in confusion. He had accepted my own
argument until he came across the one by Dr Masters! So, he was
torn between the two presentations, because both appear to be
        So, I had to respond, and the only way I could do so
intelligently, was to read the booklet. As I began reading it, I
wondered if I would, at last, have to recant, or at least rewrite, my
own argument. But, it became obvious from the start that this would
not occur. By the time I had finished the booklet I was very sure of

my ground, and can say that, in my eyes, Dr Masters has got it
        I invite readers to examine both publications honestly and to
check the scriptural evidences. If you think my own conclusions are
incorrect, then so be it. All I ask is that you rely on God‟s word and
not tradition. (The very first problem I have with the booklet is the
title, which is basically Arminian, for it extols the meeting and not
God-given prayer itself).

Two Kinds of Meeting
Pages 3 and 4
        Dr Masters sets out his belief in the first sentence: “In order to
grasp the unique place of a church prayer meeting we must
appreciate that there were two distinct types of service in the early
church, a pattern still followed today.”
        The two meetings he refers to are “the more public gatherings
for worship and instruction” and “another, rather different, kind of
meeting…the prayer meeting.”
        By flowing without reflection from describing the first type to
describing the second, the impression is given – and this seems to
be the intent – that both are equal and of similar type. But this is not
so, at least not in scripture. The idea that both share the same kind of
platform is a biased* assumption, based on Dr Masters‟ initial
assumption – that prayer meetings, the formal and scheduled type,
are valid…something he has yet to prove. (* By „biased‟ I mean a pre-
formed view based on a particular way of thinking. We all have a bias toward this
or that approach to scripture, but one bias may be authentically scriptural and the
other may be untenable, in which case it becomes a prejudice).
        He again makes another great assumption in the first
paragraph, when he claims that the first type of meeting was „led‟ by
“people who were members of the pastoral or teaching
team…which…included prophets and „junior‟ prophets (the tongues-
speakers) who functioned alongside the pastors and teachers”. This
is a huge presumption, without Biblical foundation.
        These „leaders‟, he says, constituted the „platform party‟ who
„led the worship‟ in an „ordered, pre-arranged, premeditated and
harmonious service (according to 1 Corinthians 14:33 and 40)‟. Later
in the booklet such men are spoken of as being „officers‟ of the local
church – a notion I strongly oppose, as my arguments elsewhere
show. My own view is that in the early church as well as today, there
are/were no „officers‟, only „offices‟. The difference is important to
        The assumption – that services were „led‟ by „officers‟ or a
„platform party‟ says more about typical Reformed (and Arminian)
thinking than about what scripture truly says. Scripture does not talk
about „officers‟ or about „platform parties‟ who „led‟ meetings.
        Dr Masters has come to this conclusion with a traditional bias
rather than by reading texts as they are written. Thus, with great
respect for Dr Masters, it comes down to a wrong interpretation of

scripture. He has written many fine articles and delivered many good
sermons, but, on this occasion, he has got it wrong.
        My own interpretation, I honestly believe, allows texts to speak
for themselves – that there were no officers or platform party, but that
meetings were orderly and harmonious not because other men
organised it to be that way, but because the Holy Spirit prompted
men and women as He saw fit.
        Indeed, in other texts we read of Christians meeting and
praying with one accord – the meaning of which, when compared
with current ideas of prayer meetings, is explosive and dynamic!
Harmony in meetings is not a matter of being well organised by a
platform party. It is achieved solely by the joining together of hearts
and souls totally given over to the Lord in love, humility and
obedience; and even this joining together is of the Lord, spontaneous
and without prior thought.
        The assumption by Dr Masters plainly upholds the hierarchy
idea of churches, whereas my own understanding of churches is that
they should be congregations of saved men and women, all equal in
status in God‟s eyes, with no „platform party‟, no „officers‟, and no-
one who „takes charge‟.
        The pastor (whether one or several) is merely another church
member with a particular function, the teacher (whether one or many)
has another function, and so on. The pattern is found in the
description of the Body of Christ given by Jesus Christ – each one in
the Body has a different but equally important function, and the only
Head is Himself!
        (Some think that bishops are „senior pastors‟. I have no
problem with that – bearing in mind that „bishop‟ is used in scripture
as synonymous with „pastor‟ and „elder‟ – for experienced pastors
surely can be a blessing to others. I do not accept that bishops are
„higher‟ than other pastors, or that they „rule‟ the church. Yes, a
pastor must look after the flock and watch out for their spiritual
welfare, but that does not equal a „boss‟ or manager, or warrant a
„platform party‟).
        I detail this matter because, by talking about hierarchies in this
way, Dr Masters is identifying himself as a traditionalist. It is thus fair
of me to question his understanding of prayer meetings because of
this predisposition, which, to me, is at odds with scripture.
        Dr Masters believes that the „prayer meeting‟ was less public
and less formal. He says that it contained no teaching element and
that all who attended were believers. In these assumptions he
concurs with my own view.
        I have the feeling, which may be wrong of course, that he
means by this that other meetings contained a mix of believers and
unbelievers. This, too, would be correct, though I hope he agrees
with me that the „Church‟ itself could only consist of believers, even if
unbelievers happened to attend meetings at times.
        The prayer meetings in scripture did not contain teaching,
simply because they were spontaneous gatherings instigated by the
Holy Spirit and were not planned. Dr Masters does not, it seems,

accept that this was so, though there is every indication in texts that I
am right. In a sense, though, he agrees, because he acknowledges
that such prayer meetings were “convened in a hurry, by way of
response to some pressing crisis…”
        His analysis is spot-on and agrees with my own findings. So,
why, then, does he insist that current prayer meetings should be any
different? Why does he say that prayer meetings in the early
churches were spontaneous, and yet demand that today‟s meetings
must be scheduled and formalised? The answer is a reliance on
tradition and not on scripture.
        Dr Masters goes on to say that „such a meeting‟ is found in
Acts 1, when the disciples met together in an upper room. With
respect, this was not a meeting that was scheduled as a standard
church meeting. We find that they gathered for an urgent reason – to
elect another apostle instead of Judas. It was not, then, a scheduled
church meeting, but was a time when all of them had a burden thrust
on them by God, a burden that led them to pray with „one accord‟
(the key element as far as I am concerned). So, that incident cannot
be used by Dr Masters as an example of a scheduled meeting in the
normally accepted sense.
        The next example he gives is another instance of a
spontaneous meeting for prayer directly put on them by God, and not
as a matter of an entry in a diary…to pray about the order from the
chief priests not to preach in the name of Christ.
        Dr Masters says that this meeting is an „example to be
followed‟. But it is NOT…it is an historical account of an event taking
place at that time, which was spontaneous and „one-off‟. The text
does, however, tell us that the apostles met with „one accord‟ and
„one mind‟…and this happened every single time they met for urgent
prayer! No schedule and no „leaders‟.
        Whilst he says that this is an example to follow, he disregards
the „sign‟ ministry and prophetic utterances – which he does not
accept continued beyond the lifetime of the apostles.
        Why insist on one part as an „example‟ and disregard another
part? Who gave the authority to do so? And where in scripture is
there freedom to differentiate in this way, accepting one thing and
rejecting another? What are the criteria for rejection and acceptance?
He does, however, accept that the prayers were given because of a
serious threat to their testimony. Thus, Dr Masters unwittingly agrees
with my own conclusions!
        Sadly, in the last paragraph on page 4, Dr Masters‟
interpretation of events goes a little haywire. He says, quite
categorically, that the words of Jesus in Matthew 18: 19, 20 refer to
the „special privileges and rules of church prayer meetings.‟ Friends,
this text says no such thing! The text says this: “Again I say unto you,
That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they
shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”
        Nowhere in that text do we find an instruction to convene
prayer meetings as scheduled events. Rather, it is a promise by
Jesus that if we pray with „one accord‟ then our prayers will be

answered. Do not think for one moment that this refers to the kind of
„prayer meetings‟ we have come to know in our generation! Far from
        The kinds of prayer Jesus is referring to were full of life and
certainty, prompted by the Holy Spirit, causing those who were
praying to think and speak with one mind! And such prayers were
always spontaneous and urgent, not scheduled.
        For Dr Masters to say that this passage gives us „privileges
and rules of church prayer meetings‟ is to stretch credulity too far. It
is a major error of interpretation. Read it again and search for what
Dr Masters is saying and you will not find it. Indeed, the text does not
specifically refer to prayer at all, or to group prayer, though we may
assume it can refer to prayer, if we wish to interpret that way.
Personally, I could accept such an interpretation if Dr Masters had
not misinterpreted the meaning as providing rules and privileges, for
the text simply does not say that.
        It is very important for us to get this straight, for Dr Masters is
building up his case for the existence of formal prayer meetings. We
must not begin with speculation, which is what Dr Masters is doing.
True Biblical interpretation is to hold to meanings that the texts
themselves give us.
        In this case, Dr Masters has got it totally wrong and I must say
so. Obviously, the text is referring to prayer, but in no way is it
referring to rules and privileges. To say it does so, is to extrapolate
and project on to a text our own ideas.
        As Dr Masters says, “These passages, and others, form the
basis of this booklet”. Thus, we must establish if this „basis‟ has any
true foundation. I have shown that his basis does not have a sound
foundation. Check for yourselves and you will see that I am right. But
it is not me who is right – I am only interpreting scripture as it ought
to be interpreted, without imposing upon it my own ideas or having
and displaying a predisposed reliance on tradition.

The Special Status of Prayer Meetings
Pages 5 – 8
        In this section Dr Masters quotes from Spurgeon, as though
this validates his claims. But here, too, we find a similar assumption –
that prayer meetings should take place on a regular, scheduled
basis, even though no such thing is found in God‟s word.
        Spurgeon asked why so many Believers did not see the
special significance in organised prayer meetings. I asked the very
same question in my own exhaustive study and could only conclude
that, like me, most Christians cannot see the significance because
there is no significance in scheduled prayer meetings!
        Once I had realised this, my guilt – imposed by zealots and
not by scripture or by conscience – fell away and I was relieved. Why
feel guilty for not accepting something scripture does not extol or
        In this section Dr Masters accurately pinpoints objections to
the prayer meeting. His summation of these is like my own. But, his

deductions are very different, because he is concerned with tradition
rather than scripture. He says that, theoretically, “Most believers
agree that the prayer meeting is the „power house‟ of the church. But
how many really think so? If they did, all the church prayer meetings
would be packed.”
        Precisely! Most people accept what they are told to accept by
their pastors, and most pastors tell them that the prayer meeting is
the „power house‟. But very few inwardly agree with that claim.
Hence the very poor turn-out at prayer meetings.
        Why is there this anomaly? It is there because the majority of
Believers are too afraid or anxious to voice what they really think.
After all, if your pastor tells you the prayer meeting is the „power
house‟ and years of tradition says the same thing, who will have the
courage to say the opposite? Not many, I can assure you!
        To contradict your pastor, even in a kindly manner, is to draw
attention to yourself in a negative way. You will be viewed with
suspicion and maybe even ostracised as a dangerous person, if not
a potential heretic (as has been my own experience).
        Everyone knows that the churches are sub-societies who
close ranks when threatened by change or different views. Everyone
knows that vast numbers have legitimate queries and doubts which
they dare not speak about, for fear of losing face or being shunned.
That is why „most‟ people appear to agree with Dr Masters‟
assumption but do not back it up with actual attendance!
        In the past I have challenged Reformed folk to show me from
scripture where I am wrong in my main teaching on the issue, and
whilst some have said they „disagree‟ with a few points, they have
not given me concrete evidences that amount to proper Biblical
        No doubt Dr Masters thought his booklet was „concrete‟ proof
– but it is far from proof, or even broad evidence. All I ask is that
Christians review the scriptural evidences in totality, without applying
traditional knowledge. Without traditional knowledge they will come to
starkly opposing conclusions to those of Dr Masters.
        He says that he wrote the booklet to inspire Christians to a
greater sense of the importance of prayer meetings. Obviously, with
so many booklets being sold, he has succeeded. Even so, I
categorically maintain, with scripture as my authority, that he is
wrong on this matter. Successful author and preacher he may be, but
his conclusions on this are not those of scripture.
        On page 5 he very briefly introduces yet another startling
assumption, far more serious than the ones he has made before –
that Jesus Christ commanded corporate prayers. A reader will be
forgiven for thinking, as I did, that to make such a claim Dr Masters
must surely have solid scriptural evidence. I must admit that I was
perplexed, because in my own examination I had studied every
single instance in scripture (and there are many) that dealt with group
prayer, but did not find even one example of being commanded to
pray corporately on a scheduled basis!

        Thus, when I read Dr Masters‟ confident assertion, I felt sure
that he would teach me something I had clearly missed. But when I
reached the point where he dealt with it, I found no scriptural
argument to support his view. What I found was an excellent
example of human presumption dressed as Biblical command.
        On the same page (5) he gives a „proof text‟ from the Old
Testament, Isaiah 56:7. But when we examine that text it says
nothing in support of the claim! Rather, Dr Masters has made a very
bad exegesis that is traditional but not scriptural. See for yourself, as
I quote his argument and then provide a counter-argument:
        “In Isaiah 56:7 there is a prophetic text on this subject. God
states that the future Gospel-age Church will be characterised by
communal prayer. He says: „For mine house shall be called an house
of prayer for all people.‟ This is clearly about when the Gentiles shall
hear the word and be converted. They, says the Lord, shall rejoice „in
my house of prayer‟. It is the will of the Lord and redeemer that His
people should be conspicuous for their praying together…In this
Isaiah passage the Lord presents the ministry of corporate prayer as
an outstanding sign that people have been truly converted. What will
be the best evidence of conversion in Gospel days? The Churches
will be known for prayer. Believers will flock to pray, says the Lord,
and it will give them great pleasure and assurance”.
        Does that seem right? It probably does if we read it through
blinkered, traditional glasses. But if we analyse it, we find glaring
flaws. Let me explain…The entire context of this verse is to do with
„strangers‟ who worship God. This properly refers to those foreigners
who took on the Jewish faith and obeyed the Lord as their God. Read
the text again and you will see this to be the case.
        We know this text applies to the immediate and near-future of
the Jews and „adopted‟ Jews, because Isaiah refers to them keeping
the Jewish ecided and not „polluting‟ it with non-Jewish activities. It
also refers to burnt sacrifices. That is the proper and immediate
meaning of the text, though it could apply also to future Gentiles in
principle, in an allegorical sense.
        That is the first observation and it is important, for Dr Masters
has made it seem to be an entirely far-future prophecy about the
Christian Church, when it is, in reality, something else.
        Even if we ignore this poor exegesis, perhaps Dr Masters is
right in his interpretation of „house of prayer‟? Let us look at it more
closely. „House‟ can mean one of many things. It can mean the
Temple itself. Or, a literal house for either animals or humans. It can
refer to the human body. Or, to Sheol. Or, a place that has both light
and dark. It can even refer to the land of Ephraim.
        „House‟ can also mean a thing that holds something, e.g. a
receptacle. It can mean a place housing a family, or it can refer to the
household itself (the people). It can also refer to the descendants of
that family, or to the family‟s household affairs. It can mean „inwards‟,
„within‟ or „inside‟. So, with such a large array of possible meanings,
which one is God referring to in this text? Has Dr Masters come up
with the right one?

         Let us look at the word „prayer‟. The word in the Hebrew can
have several meanings – prayer, to pray a prayer, „house of prayer‟,
to hear prayer, and liturgical prayer. From a root word, it means to
intervene, to mediate, to judge, to pray.
         The reference to the altar (verse 7) clearly gives us the
framework for our interpretation of „mine house‟ – it must refer to the
Temple. Let us bear in mind that the Temple is NOT the same as a
local church, for the Temple was a place for formal, rite-centred
worship. Allowing for this basic difference, how, then, can we
interpret „house of prayer‟?
         Well, we already know that, from the words given, the text
properly refers to the Jews and those who align themselves with God
through Jewish influence. We know that this „house of prayer‟ will be
for both Jew and Gentile believer at that time. Whether or not it also
applies to us in our day is open to debate, for we may only suggest
such a meaning, given that the primary meaning is Jews and their
         If we put together all that we know about the possible
meanings of the words „house of prayer‟ we may only legitimately say
that God intended that His Temple would be a place where Jews and
adopted Jews (in Israel) prayed to/petitioned the Lord.
         What I have given you above is a clear interpretation direct
from the text and context. I have not elaborated upon it or tried to
spiritualise it. If the text also applies to Gentiles in the far future, then
it can only be in principle, for it will be a secondary and implied
meaning, not a direct one. Thus, the principle would be that a local
church will contain people who pray to the Lord. Simple as that.
         Therefore, when Dr Masters says „this is clearly about when
the gentiles shall hear the word and be converted‟, he is extending
the meaning beyond what scripture actually says, for the text does
NOT say that. Nor is such a meaning „clear‟. The „clear‟ meaning,
rather, is that God is telling the Jews that they, and those who live
with them as adopted Jews, will pray to Him in the Temple.
         If Dr Masters had erred only in that single point, we could
ignore it. But he then goes on to elaborate on it with an even greater
assumption – that “It is the will of our Lord and redeemer that his
people shall be conspicuous for their praying together.” Nowhere in
that text do we find this kind of thing. Read it properly and you will not
find it! If we are to find a text that says that, it is certainly not found in
Isaiah 56.
         Just two sentences later, Dr Masters makes three more leaps
of belief, without providing any linking evidence, that “In this Isaiah
passage the Lord presents the ministry of corporate prayer as an
outstanding sign that people have been truly converted.” By using the
„If-hen;‟ form of argumentation, Dr Masters skilfully guides the reader
along his own pathway.
         What is this „If-Then‟ argument? It is when a writer says „If‟ this
is true, „then‟ so is what follows. It is pure rhetoric. Thus far Dr
Masters has not convinced us that his initial thesis (the „If‟ part of the
argument) is true. Therefore, his „Then‟ part (that corporate prayer

should exist, and that it is proof of conversion) is very open to
        Nor has he proved that this prayer is a „ministry‟. In the text
this prayer is not a ministry, but it is a promise of God. That is, He will
give the love of prayer as a gift. This is, of course, a ministry of the
Holy Spirit – but it is not depicted as a ministry of the people! To say
this is to again stretch the interpretation of the text. Indeed, it is very
close (in argumentation principle) to the Romanist notion of God
giving „grace‟ for completing this or that activity, when scripture says
nothing of the kind.
        The Isaiah text does NOT prove that the prayer promised will
be corporate. We do find people praying together in scripture – but
not in this particular text. Nor are we to assume that it is a sign of
conversion. Note what is being said here – that we can assume the
salvation of every member of a group, merely because they pray
„corporately‟. Can you not see how dangerous and false such a
conclusion is?
        What Dr Masters is doing, perhaps unwittingly, is to make
corporate prayer a condition of salvation. Perhaps he did not mean to
say it, but that is what he has said. This is an act of works, and it is
therefore Arminian.
        Dr Masters may be right when he says that Christian churches
should be known for their prayer. But this does not prove, one jot,
that such prayer must, or ought to, be „corporate‟. The text does not
give us such a far ranging set of meanings, containing so many
doctrinal claims.
        Indeed, I believe Dr Masters is confusing prayer meetings with
prayer itself, which is not acceptable as an argument. Prayer is
different from prayer meetings. The former is to do with an action and
the latter is to do with a form of that act. They are separate entities.
This means that proving the validity of one does not prove the validity
of the other. We are talking here about serious theology, not about
making statements from a traditional viewpoint that cannot be
        Dr Masters again misinterprets, this time Ezekiel 36:37, by
insisting that it is a prophecy of the Gentile Church in the far future.
Read it carefully and you will find it is about near-future Israel as a
nation. To say that it is about God blessing Christian churches with
many converts is again to stretch the meaning beyond its proper
        To add further injury to this misapplication, we are told that
these extra converts will come only if the churches pray. This is more
Arminian logic…‟we must do this, before God will do that‟. It is also
part of charismatic dominion and latter rain theology. Nowhere in
scripture does God say He will send more converts if we pray. He
says, very plainly, that He chose the elect before the world was
made. We cannot produce them by praying.
        His next statement – that God sends His blessings if we pray,
is certainly true and I cannot argue with that. But to say that God‟s
blessings are dependent on prayer is Arminian. In the same second

paragraph on page 6, Dr Masters makes yet another error, by
claiming that “The Lord longs to honour our evangelistic efforts. But
there may be an obstacle, causing Him to hold back His blessing.
Have we pleaded with Him in prayer?”
        First thing to note is that Dr Masters is saying that our
pleading can cause God to do something He may not have thought
of doing before. This is Arminian and is not scriptural.
        Second thing is his view that God is yearning to bless our
efforts but that there may be an obstacle. If there is an obstacle, this
only proves that the „efforts‟ are our own and do not belong to God!
        Also, this statement turns God‟s work upside down. In
scriptural reality, we must do what God gives us to do. This will come
to us as a burden we cannot shake off. We then do whatever we
have been commanded to do. Then God blesses us because we are
complying with what He has already commanded.
        That, friends, is the „elect‟ order of things. Dr Masters is
advocating an Arminian approach, which means we devise a project
and then ask God for His blessing on it. Regardless of this, the text
has nothing to do with a „command‟ to hold corporate prayer
        In the text, Dr Masters says, is the command to pray as a
house, or family. That is perfectly true – but it is still not proof of
corporate prayer. Christians can pray as a family without doing so in
physical proximity. The real meaning of praying as a „house‟ is to
pray in unity and with one accord, but not necessarily or primarily as
a group. And even if it means as one group, this does not give us
authority to hold regular, scheduled prayer meetings!
        Dr Masters says that we „must‟ pray as a group. This, as I
have already said, is Arminian. The only time we „must‟ pray as a
house or group, corporately, is when God places it upon each
Christian in that group personally, immediately, and urgently, and
with definite reasons for doing so, complete with the words to pray.
This is the scriptural picture of group prayer, as an occasional ad hoc
activity – which even Dr Masters acknowledges. Now, compare that
with what he is calling for. There is no resemblance at all.
        At the bottom of the page, Dr Masters again makes the same
mistake. He says, “The principle is that Almighty God, for special
reasons, has ordained as a duty the practice of communal, corporate
prayer for his people, and has attached unique promises to that
        However, he does not say what those „special reasons‟ are,
nor has he proved that God has „ordained the practice‟ of communal
prayer. Nor has he proved that such prayer attracts special promises;
an idea that is Romanist in origin and used to describe the benefits of
the Mass.
        In scripture we find exactly what Dr Masters initially
acknowledges – that God calls us to special, group prayer, on
irregular occasions, to pray for unique and urgent matters, and those
who are called to pray do so with one accord and one mind. So, how
can he possibly translate all that as meaning regular, common-or-

garden, scheduled meetings, where few are called to attend, let
alone to be of one mind?
         Believe me, if you are called to such a meeting, God will let
you know, without any doubt, that you MUST attend and pray! The
fact that so few are thus called, shows us that the meetings we now
have should not be convened at all for there has been no urgent call
from God to do so.
         On page 7 we are told that we must be earnest and sincere in
our prayers together. Friends, this is all too obvious! But, our own
earnestness and desire is not what God is looking for…He only looks
for prayers that He Himself has given us to utter. As I have said
elsewhere, the crux of prayer is that it is NOT something we do when
we decide we want something – it is an act of obedience in response
to what God calls us to pray for; it is this obedience that brings
results, not our human sincerity.
         In other words, Dr Masters has got it very wrong. It is he who
has „missed the point‟ – not those who, with good conscience, refuse
to attend organised prayer meetings!
         Half-way down page 7 we again see Arminian thinking, when
Dr Masters talks of us „making a difference‟ in prayer. As is shown
above, we do not make a difference by praying – God does, when we
obey His requirement placed on our heart to pray. If we „pray‟ without
firstly being prompted to do so by God, then it is not prayer at all, but
mere human fantasy.
         Strangely, Dr Masters agrees with this assertion! (See lower
down on page 8). He admits that praying is all part of God‟s glorious,
predestinated plan. He agrees that such prayers were all planned
before time began. He says that corporate prayer is „more effective‟
than individual prayer (which I do not agree with, if personal prayer is
also prompted by the Holy Spirit), but I will leave that one aside for
now, for it is yet another charismatic-style error.
         He also speaks of salvation as a work of grace alone. The rest
of the section is predestination-centred and I thank God for that. But
then he slides back into error by saying (page 8): “We may make
many mistakes in the Christian life, but the worst is to leave out
         I suppose it is arguable if this is the „worst‟, but it is certainly
significant and serious. The point I wish to make here is that Dr
Masters is talking in this sentence about „prayer‟ NOT „prayer
meetings‟, but throughout the booklet he confuses the two as being
the same.

Christ‟s Command and Promise
Pages 8 – 12
        “The most direct passage of all on the subject of corporate
prayer is the great promise of Christ recorded in Matthew 18: 19, 20.
Though expressed as a promise, it is really a command and a
direction. Indeed, it is nothing less than an ordinance.” Is this
correct? Here Dr Masters is claiming the text has multi-layered

                     (a)     It is a proof text in support of
                             corporate prayer (in his context
                             he means as a regular,
                             scheduled meeting)
   K. It is a promise
   K. It is a command.
                     K.      It is a „direction‟
                     K.      It is an ordinance

        Are these conclusions his own assumptions again – or do they
have a basis in the text? Let us look at the text itself, so that we once
more glean our interpretations direct from scripture, and not from
tradition. It says this: “Again, I say unto you, That if two of you shall
agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be
done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or
three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of
        This portion is not part of Jesus‟ general discourse on church
affairs and discipline, as Dr Masters claims. These two verses are set
aside, a kind of additional note, in which Jesus is reminding the
disciples of His promise that God will hear the pleas of Christians
who meet together – any number from two upwards. Then, He
returns to the topic of discipline when Peter comes back to Him with
a query.
        But, does this text prove the „command‟ to pray corporately on
a scheduled basis? No, it does not. It has a very simple message –
that if two or more Christians meet together with one accord, and
they ask God for what they are called (by God) to pray about, then
God will answer positively, because it is He Who put the prayer into
their hearts in the first place. We can infer that this is about group
prayers, but we cannot insist on it, for it can just as easily refer to any
meeting of Christians.
        Look at the text again and you will not see a specific reference
to group prayer at all. It can certainly apply to group prayer, but it can
also apply to any group meeting…and not necessarily a scheduled
meeting, either. When we interpret we must do so strictly, for we are
dealing with God‟s word, not an ordinary book.
        What I most object to in this section is not that Dr Masters
applies it to prayer meetings, but that he ignores any other
reasonable interpretation. This is because the second interpretation
properly applies and is part of the overall meaning.
        There is also another point to make – the text shows us that
the ones who gather together are of the same mind and heart. So,
again, we see that this is of „one accord and one mind‟. The only way
this can happen is that the Holy Spirit places the same burden on
several hearts at the same time and the burden is of such an urgency
and weight that the people know they must pray together. In this text,
then, we do not find a „command‟ to pray corporately as part of a
scheduled calendar of events.

        This text does not, as Dr Masters claims, give us „instructions‟.
It only gives a promise. When God calls us to pray as a group,
urgently and with immense burden, there is no need to „instruct‟ us to
do so in advance – the urgency and weight alone drives us to seek
each other out, and we do it anyway! If we are „instructed‟ so well in
advance, then it becomes scheduled and is not, by definition,
        So, Jesus was NOT “inaugurating the duty of corporate
prayer” (page 9). He was just promising that when Christians meet
thus, God will listen. Other texts tell us the reason why He listens –
because we respond to His prompting to pray in the first place and
obey by praying. This is not, then, an inauguration of the duty to
corporate prayer. It is a promise.
        True corporate prayer is always spontaneous, irresistible and
powerful, because it is instigated by the Holy Spirit for a special and
unique purpose. Scheduled prayer meetings with no real purpose
other than „duty‟ is, by definition, not true corporate prayer.
        Yet, though Dr Masters has acknowledged the truth of this in
part, he continues to state that we may meet regularly for „prayer‟
even when we have to manufacture unity of mind. There is no other
way we can take his words. He then goes back to proper
understanding by saying that the promise of Jesus applies to
anything we might ask for.
        In the third paragraph of page 9, though, he again lapses into
traditional thinking. He talks of “the teaching of Christ that there is
special power in the prayer of God‟s people when they are
assembled together.”
        It must again be emphasised that the power of prayer is not in
ourselves, in our resolve to pray, in the geographic togetherness of
groups, or even in the prayer itself. The power is in the fact that we
respond to the prompting of God to pray. Thus the „power‟ is in God,
not in us or in the act of prayer.
        Can you see the vital difference? If you cannot see it, then you
are thinking along Arminian lines. Dare I say it, but the idea of greater
power in proximity is also found in charismatic and spiritist/pagan
        In the last paragraph on this page Dr Masters gives an
accurate though truncated meaning of „agree‟…to act in harmony
and sameness. The rest of the section is good material and
describes the way some try to use the prayer meeting for their own
        A small but significant matter is raised at the bottom of page
10, when Dr Masters says that someone who believes there is a
problem in the local church should not speak of it in the prayer
meeting, but should approach the „officers‟ to be dealt with in the
„proper way‟. There are no „officers‟ (only offices) and the „proper
way‟ is to deal with it openly. This is because we are all equal in the
local church.
        A degree of manipulation is them resorted to as Dr Masters
talks of ”true Christians who opt out of the…prayer meeting…Do we

deprive our church of its…blessing by our failure to support the
prayer meeting?”
         This is the usual „guilt thing‟. By assuming (wrongly) that we
are commanded to pray together routinely and without special
urgency, he thinks that we cause our church not to be blessed. He
does not bother to think that it might be because of the dutiful and
unwarranted prayer meeting that the church is not blessed!
         God will not bless mere duty or doing things He has not
authorised. No mention at all is made of His Son‟s command to pray
alone in our closets!! It is not God‟s command to „support‟ a meeting
of any kind. The very word suggests something man-made.
         Nor is the corporate prayer meeting, as viewed by Dr Masters,
an „ordination‟. There are only two ordinations – communion and
baptism. To add a third is an error. If we take Dr Masters‟ idea just a
little farther, we can arrive at a new heresy, for he has already said
that corporate prayer is a proof of being saved.
         And there is a hint of inconsistency on page 11, when Dr
Masters says there are no elites in the Church…even though he
refers to „officers‟ who are the ones to deal with matters and, earlier,
he refers to an influential „platform party‟. What are „officers‟ if not an
         Also, on page 1, he displays a belief that everyone in a local
church must attend corporate prayer. This effectively rules out God
calling a particular few, suddenly and with urgency, as He sees fit, for
a particular purpose, with no date or time in mind. It also rules in the
idea of regulated, scheduled prayer meetings for all.
         Then – something that gave me a slight smile – he said, “We
must never interpret away our obligation to the prayer meeting, and
make it an optional exercise.” It makes me smile, because he is
making out that those who „opt out‟ as he puts it, are choosing which
of God‟s commands to obey. He also implies by this, that not to
attend a prayer meeting is a sin.
         In reality, it is not we who „interpret away‟ scheduled prayer
meetings, but it is he who „interprets in‟ what ought not be there! It is
these scheduled, meaningless, prayer meetings that Christians will
not attend. True group prayers, called suddenly by God for a special
purpose, are something entirely different. It is these latter type that
are „not optional‟, and if the call came from God to attend such a
meeting, those called would be drawn irresistibly to it.
         Dr Masters cites the very first „prayer meeting‟, Acts 1:14, as
proof that every church everywhere should have scheduled prayer
meetings, though he has no proof whatever. That prayer meeting
was urgent and called by God. Nothing like the usual treadmill
scheduled by churches nowadays. The key words, as always, are
„with one accord‟. When Dr Masters can prove to me that this is what
happens in every single prayer meeting, I will be convinced! But I
know he cannot, for I have attended enough of them to know!
         Yet another assumption is made by Dr Masters, at the bottom
of page 11. Though the next group prayer meeting is recorded 14
years later, he assumes, without any proof, that this was

“undoubtedly typical of their regular meetings”. How does he know, if
scripture itself does not say?
        Possibly, the Christians in the early church did have a large
number of spontaneous prayer meetings for urgent matters. But even
if they did, it is not proof that they held scheduled prayer meetings on
a regular basis, without urgent needs being made known to them
directly by God.
        About this prayer meeting, he cites Spurgeon, who comments
“Peter thought to himself, „Where shall I go?‟ Then he remembered
that it was prayer meeting night down at John Mark‟s mother‟s
house. That was the place to go. They were not gathered to hear a
sermon but to pray.” (Acts 12:12).
        If you read this whole passage you will read of special and
urgent prayer being made, because Peter was in prison. Peter was
the man they all looked to, because he had been with Jesus. He was
an elder of the early church and much needed. So, God had called
them all together to pray for his situation. This was a unique and
urgent matter. It was not a typical meeting, nor was it scheduled. For
Dr Masters to say that it was, is not acceptable, for it is a very loose
rendition of the text.
        There is no evidence at all in this text that the prayer meeting
was „typical‟ of scheduled meetings. Look hard and you will not find
it! Peter did not think „Ah, it is prayer meeting night at John Mark‟s!‟
No, he went there because he knew his friends would be there. It
was only when he arrived that he found them all at prayer – for him.
That is all there was to it. The text says nothing to support Dr
Masters‟ interpretation.
        Dr Masters goes on to make further erroneous claims in the
first paragraph on page 12. He says, “By practice, by conviction and
by instinct, the people of God gathered together to pray for great
matters…The early church certainly knew that the Saviour had
ordained corporate prayer for all.”
        Reader, this is an abuse of interpretation. The text does NOT
tell us anything like this. Nor does it tell us that Jesus „ordained‟ us to
meet together, even for urgent prayer, „by practice‟, „conviction‟ or
„instinct‟. All of this is Arminian, not scriptural.
        When we are called to such urgent prayer together, each is
called as an individual and the burden is overwhelming. It is not down
to instinct, or conviction, or practice, but is down to the Holy Spirit
calling us personally as the need arises. THAT is the only pattern we
find in scripture concerning group prayer. It is spontaneous, urgent,
and ad hoc. It is NOT scheduled without urgent reason.
        The argument by Dr Masters is obliterated in the first 12
pages, for he has not shown, in even one instance, that his thesis is
correct. He has misused scripture and makes many assumptions that
do not hold water. On this matter he has shown his exegesis to be
seriously flawed.
        He finishes this section by quoting Spurgeon…but even that
great man had his flaws! He says that churches that hold combined
prayer and Bible study meetings are less blessed than those that

hold separate meetings. How does he know? How does he qualify
the statement?
        The rest of the booklet tells us of the supposed unique „divine
purposes‟ behind prayer meetings, even though Dr Masters has
failed to give one shred of evidence, let alone proof, for their use.
The various sections will not be dealt with in this paper because,
frankly, they are concocted and have no bearing on the issue.
        Suffice to say that Dr Masters shows us his Arminianism in
this subject, not his understanding of scripture. In the section entitled
„What Should We Pray For?‟ he opposes his own acceptance of the
fact that in the early churches, prayer meetings were called for urgent
and precise reasons, when they were needed!
        The fact that he wrote this section, with its title, shows that he
does not really understand. If we need to ask what to pray about,
then the meeting is NOT like those in earlier times, when they all met
with „one accord‟!
        The same banal attitude is shown when he writes on „how‟ we
should pray. If men and women are called together with one mind,
they will not need to be shown „how‟ to pray, because the Holy Spirit
has already filled them with words and desires!
        He again shows an Arminian leaning on page 22, when he
says that there ought to be „many contributors‟ to the corporate
prayer meeting. Surely, if he believes in predestination, he should
know that it is God, not our own desire to rely on many contributors,
that brings the „result‟? If God is calling the meeting, He will also
cause us to pray, and those called to pray will be the exact number
He has called, saying the exact words!
        The second half of the booklet needs separate treatment, but
the need is to be queried. The main fact is, the booklet does not give
us any reason to hold corporate prayer meetings. Dr Masters has
completely misinterpreted texts so that he could uphold his traditional
view, even though scripture does not do so. Deliberate or not, that is
the result.
        It is therefore my continued view that corporate prayer
meetings as we now have them, as scheduled regular meetings, are
not of God, and as such are useless and without worth. Thus
Christians need not attend them and ought to seriously question
whether such meetings should be part of church life at all.

                           Appendix 2
     What follows are two papers, previously written by me to
combat Arminian and Reformationist heresies. Think carefully about

Free Will and the Arminian Heresy
      The concept of „free will‟ runs like a barb-wire thread through
Arminianism. Arminianism is heresy, and it is often found mingled

with other heresies. Yet, it is embraced quite openly within our
churches today. It surprises me that so many pastors and preachers
are able to be so tolerant of Arminianism, when it clearly contradicts
and devalues God‟s word and commands.
        Tolerance is offered because much of what an Arminian says
might be „good‟ – but this is a highly dangerous way to treat heresy.
Arminians are everywhere, and include large numbers of Methodists,
all true charismatics, Roman Catholics, Mormons, JW‟s, et al. They
are also found, in varying degrees, within all other denominations,
and in none at all.
        We cannot say that all Arminians are the same, for, obviously,
they are not. As in a denomination, each member has his or her own
beliefs and, in practice, each is judged according to those personal
beliefs. Thus, whilst a whole denomination might be judged heretical
because of its official, stated constitution, we cannot say the same
about its members. We can only say that if an individual member
agrees with, and promotes, the heresy, then he or she is judged as
being the same – heretical.
        However, it is often the case that those within an heretical
denomination are themselves quite unaware that they are being
taught heresy. These I term „casual‟ heretics, who have no intention
of committing heresy at all, but have merely imbibed what has been
taught them by those they trust. My argument is with those who
seriously and deliberately promote and encourage heresy.
        What is really wrong with Arminianism? (See BTM
publications that outline Arminianism). Surely it is just a matter of
opinion? No, it is not. It is a matter of grave urgency. Heresy in any
form must never be tolerated within the churches.
        Arminius was condemned for his heresy and condemned as
heretic by his contemporaries. We must do no less. Arminianism is
heresy! In this Appendix we shall approach the subject from the
angle of Free Will. The reader will see just how untenable
Arminianism is, and, by implication, how unbiblical Arminian
Believers are…if they are truly „Believers‟ at all!

The Importance of Nothing
        What is „nothing‟? There are basically two kinds of nothing –
Absolute and Secondary. Secondary nothing is what we all know
about – and which can be defined as „the absence of something‟.
That is, where something ought to be, is the „place‟ (or state) we call
„nothing‟. Thus, the „nothing‟ we all refer to is actually a conceptual
reality, based on existence as it is understood by human beings.
This existence can be physical – animate as well as inanimate;
mental – thoughts etc.; emotional – sadness, love, etc.; spiritual –
faith, angels, etc. Whatever realm of existence we refer to, „nothing‟
is the absence of something within that conceptual framework. We
cannot conceptualise outside of our own existence.

Secondary Nothing
        Conceptualisation is always within a created existence. That is
why I refer to it as „secondary‟. It is a derivation and has no creatorial
power. We cannot conceptualise what we do not know, because
what we know personally, through our senses and through our
human-related faculties, is all that we know. In terms of reference, we
have no other reference.
        We cannot conceptualise outside of the created universe. Yet,
we cannot understand, nor do we know, even a fraction of what is
contained within the created universe, or what may be beyond.
Nevertheless, everything we ever know is within that universe.
        Everything we can conceptualise is bound by that framework
and even when we do not know about something, there is the
potential of conceptualisation, because, although we do not know
something, it is nevertheless possible to come to know it. If
something is extant in creation, then it has the potential to be known
to us. That we do not yet know it is not relevant, for it exists, and
what exists in creation is potentially knowable.
        We might not know of the existence of, say, fish. Yet fish
exist. Because we do not know fish exist, we cannot conceptualise
about fish. When we first find a fish, we start to conceptualise,
wondering what it is for, what it is made of, what it can do, etc. We
can only conceptualise because we have conceptualised about
other, non-fish creations.
        Consider the following and assume it is possible: a child is
born into a black box, without openings and without light. It grows
within that box, which is soundproof and can record no movements.
As it grows it may, or may not, move about. It continues to grow, but
it will be blind. No matter what basic intelligence quotient it might
have been born with, the child‟s mind will remain blank. This is
because it has no stimuli. Without stimuli of any kind it will probably
die. At any rate it would be unable to conceptualise, because there
is „nothing‟ to conceptualise about!
        In this extreme case, „nothing‟ is a total environment to the
child. Even though it can still feel the box, it provides no „clues‟ upon
which to build concepts. The box itself is meaningless, because there
are no comparative structures. But even in such an extreme
situation, the box is created, as is the child within. That the child
knows nothing does not alter the fact that he is a created being inside
a created object, and the object is itself within a created universe.
Thus the potential for conceptualisation exists, even if it is not used,
or is rendered incapable of use.
        What it all comes down to is this – we cannot think anything
about anything unless what we think about exists in creation. Our
minds are incapable of thinking beyond what exists in the created
universe. In practical terms, we cannot think about what we do not
personally know. Indeed, this is the value of education – we come to
know things we did not know about before.
        The key to knowing is the acknowledgement of things to know.
In higher education a student is faced with things he did not

previously know existed. This new knowledge, added to what he
already knows, forms a brand new basis for knowing.
       From this expanded „pool‟ of knowledge come new constructs,
more complex concepts of what he previously knew. The more
extensive this pool of knowledge, the more complex can be the
constructs. But no matter how much the person knows, he cannot
know beyond what is made available to him to know, and he cannot
conceptualise beyond what is created.
       Like the person who grows in a box, he cannot know anything
outside of his created environment. Or, to put it another way –
outside of what we know, there is nothing…the absence of
       This is all very important. Why? Because the Arminian claims,
by his beliefs (although he probably does not realise it), to be able to
know outside of what is created, even though this is impossible.
What do I mean? Let us look at Absolute nothing….
Absolute Nothing
        Absolute „nothing‟ is that existence which is outside of the
created order. It is the state or condition in which God was before He
created what we know. To us, this was „nothing‟ and from this
„nothing‟ He created „something‟ – where nothing was, He placed
        This something was not made from pre-existing materials,
materials which we can now test and examine. It came from
„something‟ we cannot know – „absolute nothing‟. Secondary nothing
is the absence of something created. But absolute nothing means
existence in another dimension, of a kind we cannot imagine,
because it is outside our „knowability‟. Therefore, we cannot
conceptualise what it is like or anything about it.
        Unlike the person in the box, we are not even in a box! The
„nothing‟ Creation came from is outside of our existence. Everything
we know and can possibly know is within created existence. But
absolute nothing is greater than existence, because it is eternal, with
no beginning and no end. It is uncreated. It is outside time and
outside our present knowledge. From it came Creation.
        The importance of all this, is that God exists in what is here
called absolute nothing. He created out of this nothingness because
that is where He is (at least it is assumed that this is where He was
and is; see Article on „Heaven‟). He Himself calls this state (for
present purposes we cannot refer to it as a place, because a place
fixes a person to a geographical point and God is everywhere)
„heaven‟. Thus, „place‟ has no significance when we speak of God.
God calls this state „heaven‟, and it is also (assumed to be) absolute
nothing. So it has no comparison to what we call „nothing‟.
        God‟s „nothing‟ is spiritual and eternal, and it is constituted of
something which we know nothing about, and cannot presently know
anything about. (Even if this „nothing‟ is not spiritual or heaven, it is
still beyond our knowing). It is outside of our present existence. Yet,
we will one day come to know this „otherness‟ we call absolute

nothing. Until that day, though, it is outside of our comprehension.
Only God knows fully.

The Arminian and Free Will
        The Arminian believes in free will. But no man - no created
being – can have free will. Only God has the option of free will
(which He deliberately restrains). Man can only know what is created
and what exists in his own created environment. If free will exists
only in God‟s „environment‟ then Man cannot know it. Thus, if a man
says he has free will, he is really saying that he exists in an
environment we cannot know – heaven or „absolute nothing‟ – the
state in which God is.
        In other words, the Arminian places himself higher than God,
or equal to Him. How? Well, salvation and all matters related to it
can only be conceived outside of time and creation. That is, on the
absolute level. Salvation is completely alien to mankind because it is
outside of his own possibilities.
        Although we speak of salvation being „conceived‟ by God, the
word „conceived‟ is itself unsuitable, for it relates to time and space.
We cannot properly refer to God as „conceiving‟ something because
it would mean God having a thought He did not have or know about
beforehand. As this is impossible with God, the idea of God
„conceiving‟ something is merely a device human beings use in order
to partially understand heavenly truths.
        So, when an Arminianist states that we may choose God and
salvation, he is really making a statement of absoluteness that places
him alongside, if not above, God the Creator, for he assumes to have
his own power and authority, to bring into effect what God
determined before Creation!
        Thus, what appears to be a simple statement is a deceptively
profound rejection of God and His commands, containing all the
elements of heresy and apostasy. Hence to tolerate Arminianism is
to acknowledge the proposed deity of mankind (claimed by many
charismatics), the rejection of salvation by election, and the seeds of
spiritual destruction. Now let us enter into the argument on a less
abstract level.

The Basic Problem – Arminianism or God‟s Word?
       This question is asked of fellow believers who are not (to their
knowledge) Arminian. The question is very simple and need not be
complicated. Is God‟s word true? You will answer „yes‟. Is ALL of
God‟s word true (God‟s word meaning holy scripture)? You will
answer „yes‟. If a belief is not found plainly in scripture, does that
make it heretical? We must answer „not necessarily‟. A good
example of this is belief in a Trinity. The word „Trinity‟ itself is not
found in scripture, yet we may deduce a Trinity from scripture itself.
       On the other hand, if a belief is „unscriptural‟ does that make it
heretical? The answer must be „yes‟. To be „unscriptural‟ means to
reject what scripture says about something and to substitute another
teaching. That makes it heresy.

        One of the most basic errors in Arminianism is the belief that
man can choose God. This belief is not just erroneous – it totally and
utterly contradicts and opposes one of the most fundamental
teachings of scripture. Throughout scripture we are told that God
created everything, including Man, because He wanted to. Not
because He „needed‟ Man, or anything else.
        When Adam fell, God provided him with food and the means
to live. Not because He needed to, or because Adam chose to have
it that way, but because God chose to do so. It was an act of
unmerited mercy and grace.
        Abram was chosen by God out of all men and races. Abram
did not choose God. God kept Abram and his entire family and
goods because He chose to, not because Abram chose to keep
them. Throughout the Old Testament, God chose those who were to
serve Him – just as He chose to reject or even kill others, such as
        God chose to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth as a
man, for the sole purpose of being sacrificed to save us. This was
foretold in the Old Testament. Nowhere are we told that Man had
any choice in the matter. Indeed, the only thing Man initially chose
was sin!
        After that (the Fall) he (Adam) and all who came after (all of
us) were rendered incapable of choosing good. In the New
Testament we are taught, time and again, that God chose us – we
did not choose Him. Yet, Arminians preach and teach that we have
the ability to choose salvation and God.
        This is far more serious than a difference of opinion! It is a
deliberate rejection of fundamental truths given to us by God in His
word. For example, to say that we can „choose‟ God is to obliterate
the entire Old Testament, for the Old Testament is based on what
God did for, or to, Man. Man fell, and God chose to provide for him.
He later chose or elected a whole race to be His. From that race He
deliberately chose some to be his spiritual sons and daughters.
        Then, later, when salvation was through Christ, His choice
was made out of all humanity. From start to now, and from now to the
finish of time, it was and is God‟s own choice and not ours. Can you
see how serious it is to claim otherwise? The Arminian belief is in
self and in an inherent goodness, a „spark‟ of good from which comes
all „good‟ choices.
        This is the error found in many cult and occult beliefs today!
Yet, in their wisdom, many preachers and pastors allow it to flourish
as though it were a legitimate belief with some „good‟ in it. In itself
this means that such men are themselves Arminian, if only in the
smallest degree!! Thus they inadvertently condone and promote
heresy. Can you see this?
        By saying that we are able to choose our own salvation, we
effectively negate why Christ came and His death. If we are able to
choose salvation, then what was the point of Christ coming? Why
did He die? If Man has the ability to choose, then it means he has
the ability to save himself. If that is true, then God failed to act

economically and wisely. That is, He made a mistake. The idea of
God making a „mistake‟ is found in modern charismatic beliefs. That,
friends, is not just heresy – it is blasphemy. Again I ask – how can
Arminianism be tolerated?
        Scripture tells us we are corrupt, but Arminianism tells us we
have sufficient good within us to enable us to choose good. Thus, an
unsaved man is NOT totally corrupt but is both good and evil. This
duality allows us to „choose‟ to seek God – even though scripture
tells us that NO MAN seeks after God BECAUSE of his total
        Also, by saying we can choose God, we are actually saying
our will is free to do so, when it clearly is not. Scripture says we
cannot choose God because our father is the devil and we do his
bidding. It gets even worse than that, for to be able to make such a
stupendous choice we would have to be gods ourselves! Why?
Because we claim to manipulate our own spiritual existence and
future by our own act of will. That makes God passive and a tool to
be used by us.
        This list of sorry woes and lies can go on and on! Can you see
the full horror of allowing Arminianism free access to our churches
and minds? Can you see how terrible it really is to call Arminianism
an „opinion‟ that may legitimately be held by Christians? The
conceptual framework behind Arminianism is exactly the same as
that behind all major cult and occult thinking!
        I was told by the Evangelical Alliance that if I condemn
Arminianism, then I also condemn the majority of Christendom…as
though retaining the status quo should be our main concern. Our
main concern must and should be the integrity of God‟s word, not the
self-proclaimed piety of man-made groups!
        Yes, I am fully aware that to condemn Arminianism is to also
condemn the majority of Christendom. That is not my problem, but
the problem of those groups who are Arminian. They are either God-
fearing and God-honouring or they are not. No man can honour the
Lord and yet reject God‟s word, or the proper interpretation of it.
Such is perverse.
        God‟s word tells us that in any generation only a small
remnant will be saved. It stands to reason, therefore, that the
„majority of Christendom‟ are not truly saved at all, but are deluded
into thinking they are saved by their Arminianism. This same
Arminianism pervades our churches today and is partially taught
even amongst the faithful, by true pastors and preachers. There is an
urgent need to review what we say, so that we do not inadvertently
preach heresy and give support to those who are Arminian.

The Antidote to Reformationism
      „Reformationism‟ is a word I use but did not coin, to describe a
phenomenon that is rife. A word was needed to encapsulate the
essence of the subject – hence „reformationism‟. In this chapter (for
those who have not read my previous works on the subject), I will

give the characteristics of „reformationism‟ and suggest ways to
combat this dangerous disease found in the body of Christ.
        It is NOT my purpose to browbeat the brethren. The argument
is solidly scriptural – and scripture has its own way of striking the
heart of those in error. Let the argument flow from a desire to see
God‟s word paramount.
        The aim is very simple – to prevent my brethren from going
further down the road of traditional reformationism, that they might
repent and be rid of their errors. The result will be brethren whose
hearts are freed from the shackles of a mistaken idea, that they may
soar upward on wings of an eagle, to spiritual heights they have not
discovered before.
        No, this is not a recipe for ultra-spiritual cultism! When we rid
ourselves of useless tradition and get back to God‟s word, we can
see how we have wasted our minds and hearts on what is worthless.
Then, when we again start to search the depths of God‟s word, we
realise what we have been missing, and can see that we have been
dragged downward. Anything other than the valley floor MUST, by
definition, be „higher‟! There is no mysticism in this, just spiritual
        So, share with me now, and let us explore that hitherto hidden
world of „reformationism‟. It has been before our very eyes for
centuries, but it has been hidden from our rational minds by our
conformity to its claims. What began as a protest („protestantism‟)
developed into its own form of error. Christians were so busy
opposing Romanistic lies, they forgot to check their own mistakes.
        Before too long these mistakes became fossilised as rules and
human requirements. It is now our duty to remove this massive
superstructure, by examining the infrastructure…those things that go
to make up what we have come to call „reformed‟. In many ways
what we are describing is a movement and not just a collection of
diverse errors. It could be called a movement because all its
members do, say, and believe, the same things.
        You will find that although my intention is to dismantle and
oppose „reformationism‟, I do so without the attitude I have toward,
say, charismaticism. This is due to my proper deference to the
brethren. These brethren may be in error, but they are still my
brethren. As such they require a different approach. They already are
saved and are in the hand of Almighty God – it is just that they are
kicking the traces (often inadvertently) and need a quiet word to
enable them to look again at their hearts and minds. Hopefully these
notes will help in this task.
        So, brethren, I offer the notes in humility. I was once a
„reformationist‟ and so I know how it works. It took me many years to
understand what was going on. That experience and struggle has
now been distilled and made available, that we may all grow in the
Lord as we ought, according to His word. If the words are sometimes
hard, they are not meant to be harsh, which is a different thing.
        May He bless us and lead us, in this exploration of what we
ought to do to regain a proper definition of the truth. (The truth

remains the truth, no matter what we do to it. The main problem in
reformed circles is the way the truth is interpreted and used).

A Working Definition
        We need a comprehensive definition of what „reformationism‟
is. Many Christian writers have spoken of erroneous or rogue
elements within reformed circles, but there has been no systematic
approach. So, any definition must be broad. No doubt a more refined
definition will arise at a later stage. The definition will be an umbrella
over another set of broad characteristics, which will serve as an
„introductory model‟; a working model for those who wish to expand
or amend the topic.
        In no way do I pretend that what I am saying is the final
answer or even a totally accurate one! Nevertheless, the descriptions
are accurate. They are based on over 40 years personal observation,
a varied number of years observation by thousands of others (friends
and ministry contacts), personal involvement as a (pseudo-)
„reformed‟ preacher and teacher, and many discussions. Plus
reading „reformed‟ literature over many years.
        Given the magnitude of the problem, several definitions must
be used:

              1.     „Reformationism‟ is an attitude of mind that
                     embraces the Reformation, but which lacks the
                     will to practise its principles.
              2.     „Reformationism‟ is the romantic idea of
                     Reformation without a personal attachment to its
                     living principles.
                     K.      „Reformationism‟         is    a      mental
                             acknowledgement of the Reformation, but
                             the spiritual rejection of it by not living a
                             continually reforming life: so, belief is not
                             reflected in practice.

                     Several more definitions can be given, but the
                     above will suffice.

Who Are Reformationists?
       Mainly, reformationists are normal Christians. That is, saved
men and women. They have a high regard for scripture. They say
and do what is considered to be right in the eyes of their reformed
peers. In other words, they are just ordinary people; brethren! Many
of them are well-known preachers and teachers. And most of them
are Calvinists, believing in election and grace and scripture alone.
What, then, is the problem?
       The problem is quite complex. That is why it took me such a
long time to unravel what was disturbing about reformed circles. For
example, these people are saved – no question about it. Most that I
know are nice folk. But, they have become stuck in the past. They
love to hear of the Reformers and read their works. That, though, is

where they have stayed. They cannot grasp the thought of the
necessity to be continually reforming our lives. After all, that takes
immense thought and dedication, and the courage to dismantle
useless traditions.
        It is a sad fact that most Christians go to their churches, sit in
the same pews every Sunday, go through all the same motions, say
the same things, have the same kinds of „services‟, and so on. But
they seem unable or unwilling to translate scriptural requirements
into their own lives.
        Yes, they have a high regard for scripture – but their regard is
based on Calvinism and on Reformed ideas that have been remixed
for several centuries. Their regard is tempered with many, many
traditional values and teachings – the very structure and activities of
reformed churches are proof of this. They are right in the eyes of
their peers, but not right in the eyes of God. Even many well-known
preachers are like this, as they regularly preach traditionally, but
make scriptural errors.
        One major error is to confuse their message, by preaching the
true gospel but then „offering‟ Christ like Arminians! Often, the
Arminianism is very slight indeed…but it is there. And the fact that it
can be detected means that it is a part of the preachers‟ thought
patterns. And if that is the case, it means their thoughts are not
systematic or ranged scripturally. (Having extensive Biblical
knowledge does not automatically give one a systematic approach to
        If this was all I could muster, then this chapter would be
worthless. The trouble, though, runs far deeper. We are talking about
preachers and teachers who think nothing of ruining the lives of other
Christians. It happened to me, not just once, but four times in the
same town!
        Four preachers/pastors said and did the most despicable
things, and, they got away with it. Each considered himself reformed
and faithful. Yet each made my life and the life of my family and
many others not connected with me, a misery. Finally, we had to
leave what I came to call „the system‟.
        Those men are still in office and are still ruining lives. No
Christian reformed „paper will publish anything that would undermine
the situation, so blanket silence prevails – even though, under the
blanket, people talk! It has not gone away – it is just muffled, to the
detriment of the Church as a whole!
        Often, those of us who speak out are branded with all kinds of
names, usually „in love‟. We are ignored and even shunned. But what
have we done to deserve it? We have spoken about the sins of men
who are our brethren. That is all.
        If this had only happened to myself, then what I say could be
called „chagrine‟. But that is the whole point – it has happened to
thousands and thousands of people in the UK alone! In Swansea, an
entire church (except for a few) walked out on their pastor because of
his openly known sins. These people have since gone back, after the

pastor left. But what they did has been repeated many times all over
Britain, for several centuries.
         I find it incredible that so many people and their experiences
can be so easily forgotten! It is incredible that such a mass exodus
can be shrugged off. It is incredible that preachers think they can get
away with it.
         God knows and He will bring their actions to light, but this
must not be used as an excuse for us to ignore the situation in this
life. Interestingly, because I speak about these things, I am branded.
But the ones who are guilty are never rebuked or in any way
reminded of their sins. Do you not find this odd?

Inter-Church Migration
        A common charge against people who move between
churches is that they are „spiritual gypsies‟. They are castigated,
sometimes harshly and sometimes gently, for not staying in one
church to receive „nourishment‟ and to experience „fellowship‟. But is
this a proper evaluation?
        No doubt some are like that, and just cannot settle in one
place, for a reason other than a Biblical one. Yes, they ought to settle
down. I am not talking about these people, but about people who
have been forced to leave their churches, in one way or another and
for any number of genuine reasons. The name „spiritual gypsy‟ can
be both trite and unfeeling. It can also be very annoying!
        Much migration between churches occurs for solidly Biblical
reasons. There can be bad teaching, faithlessness on the part of the
pastor, wrong practices amongst the whole congregation, open
sinfulness, heresy, etc.
        In my own life, the first pastor lied, allowed evil to grow, hated
myself and my family, and refused to act scripturally. His hatred
became so bad we had no option but to leave. In my own parlance
(taken from employment law) this was „constructive disfellowship‟.
That is, I was forced, by the actions of others, to leave.
        The same thing happened in the next three churches, but got
worse. The first pastor had informed all the pastors in the area of
what I had supposedly done or said. It was all lies. The first pastor
(and the second) was very well known in Calvinistic/reformed circles.
        Even recently, a well-known pastor acted unreasonably and
so two of his members left and now worship with our own Manselton
Church. With each person who has been „constructively
disfellowshipped‟ there comes a tale of great sadness and, often,
astounding behaviour on the part of pastors or members. No-one
bothers to tackle the issue and so it goes on and on. That is why I
deal with it here. Who has the courage to make it known? Who will
face it head-on, so that it can be cut out from amongst us?
        We now need concrete examples of what is meant by
„reformationism‟. On their own, cases of pastoral ineptitude, though
bad, do not constitute a reason to take widespread action, or to call
what is happening a „movement‟. My objections run far deeper than

mere personal insult or badness toward me, as the following
examples of reformationism clearly indicate.
         Although reformationism is greater than the sum of its parts,
the parts I choose to highlight are major departures from scriptural
principles and they taint Christians with an unrighteousness they
ought to be ashamed of.
         I was ashamed. That is why I changed my life, and that is why
I now offer what I know to others, that they might change. This
process of brotherhood must not be ignored. Preaching the
brotherhood of all Believers is worthless if it is not carried out in
         In the following notes are given a few examples of what
reformationism means in the life of Believers. From the very first
example, you will recognise the signs and symptoms. As you read,
ask yourself what you are going to do about it all, for these notes
demand an answer. Not just for my own sake, or for your own well-
being, but for the health of the whole Church of Jesus Christ. It is as
serious as that. Read on and weigh up the arguments….
An Unscriptural Structure
        Reformed local churches as we now have them are not
structured scripturally. Yet, go into almost any reformed church and
you will feel at home. That is because what they do is identical. In
this sense, they belong to a „system‟, even if they are not affiliated in
any formal way, and this sameness is as effective as supermarket
branding, where supermarkets of same ownership all look the same
and are laid out in the same way.
        Their structures are identical because they all follow the same
traditional format. There is nothing wrong with tradition. But tradition
that is extra to scripture must be questioned, if not cast aside.
        Scripture itself gives us freedom to structure our local
churches as local Christians see fit – a task that must be reviewed by
every generation and not allowed to stagnate. (However, this is not
what is meant by „diverse administration‟). Even so, no local church
has the right to structure itself unscripturally. Before we go further in
this, let us discuss a few more working definitions…

„Unscriptural‟ and „not in scripture‟
         These are two totally different things. If something is
„unscriptural‟ it is contrary to scripture; it rejects or ignores scriptural
precept and is therefore inherently sinful.
         On the other hand, if something is „not in scripture‟, inherent
sin is not necessarily present. It just means that whatever it is cannot
be found in scripture!
         An example of the first is, say, a belief that Jesus is not God.
An example of the second, is, say, that we do not find reference in
scripture to going to church in a car. Going in a car is not itself a sin
just because the Bible does not mention cars.
         At times what is not found in scripture by name is nevertheless
found in scripture in principle, and it can be called sin. An example of
this is, say, sending pornography via the Internet (computers).

       What we are referring to in this chapter are „unscriptural‟
structures. Not only are they not found in scripture, but they are
opposed to scriptural principles. Hence the serious nature of their

Freedom and Choice
        As Believers, do we have freedom to choose? Well, we were
once bound to Satan by chains of sin. Now, we are „new creatures‟
with „freedom in Christ‟. This has often been taken to mean we are
free to choose whatever we like. This is an erroneous view.
        As Believers we are bound to Christ by chains of love and
command. We cannot do what we like. Our freedom is bound by
whatever God requires of us (His will). Anything outside His will is
        Thus, we may not legitimately choose to commit fornication,
even though this is rife nowadays in many churches. Yes, we are
„free‟ to do so in the sense that God does not usually force us to
commit His will on this earth. That is how we sin every day – we
choose rather to do what we want to do.
        But that freedom to choose sin does not mean God gave us
freedom to sin. Thus, churches might choose this or that structure,
but it does not mean they are right in their choices, or even that their
choices are Biblically legitimate. Nor does it mean that because they
preach the true gospel, their sinful structures are somehow thereby
        I am not the first writer to have said „there is freedom only in
restriction‟. This is a truth in all walks of life and does not just apply to
Christians. In Christian lives, it means that we are restricted to those
choices given by God. The boundaries are set by scripture. Choosing
outside of scripture („unscripturally‟) is sin. So, the only real antidote
to reformationism is, to get rid of everything that constitutes
reformationism! That is, get back to scripture alone. After all, this is
the proud boast of reformed Christians – but where is it to be found?

Sandwich Syndrome
       A „syndrome‟ is a collection of signs and symptoms that all
point to one cause. In our churches today we have many signs and
symptoms that point toward unscriptural local church structures.
They are typified by what everyone within reformed circles calls
service „sandwiches‟. For a reason I cannot fathom, this format of
service is either chuckled about or just listed as unfavourable. But it
is never spoken of as being sinful! Let us now look at what we mean.

Typical Church Services
       With respect for my brethren, I challenge them to show me in
scripture the source of their services. I do not just mean the order of
presentation (the „sandwich‟), but the actual reason for the existence
of a „service‟ at all. You will not find „services‟ in scripture. And, if we
break it all down into component parts, a normal „service‟ is anything

but righteous. Some of these components are described below (and
some were treated in more depth earlier):
     K. The Sandwich
        It is called a „sandwich‟ because that is what it looks like!
Typically, a „service‟ consists of an opening prayer, a hymn, a
reading, a hymn, announcements, maybe another short prayer,
followed by the „sermon‟, then possibly another short prayer and a
hymn, then the benediction.
        Now for the honesty! The congregation all sit quietly and just
listen. They then go home again until their next „fix‟. No questions or
comments. No real involvement. The preacher, if he is pastor, then
has to start again for the next round of sermons, Bible studies, etc.
(We must admit that though the congregation might be satisfied, the
pastor hardly has proper time to meditate and study, because the
time scale is so tight. Thus he is not led by the Spirit, but by the
demands of the local church structure).
        In all this there is very little desire or heart searching, and no
real intention to reform one‟s life, because it is all so mechanical. We
all say we want to be reformed, but none of us really means it. If we
did, the whole Church would glow as a light on a hill!
        The opening prayer is generally very broad. That is, vague
and often a repetition of last week‟s opening prayer. If the prayer is
uttered by a visiting preacher, then he cannot possible know the local
situation and so cannot pray intelligently. Hymns are strategically
inserted to stretch the legs. I know it because many preachers have
admitted it to me!
        The first hymn is sung…but who understands the words? Who
sings them with intense spiritual commitment? Who even remembers
the words of the first verse when they reach the last verse? Who has
bothered to look at each hymn to see if it is theologically and
Biblically sound? Are the hymns chosen for a specific God-led
reason – or because they fit the theme of the sermon and the tunes
are nice? And are they sung with a heart-felt „amen‟, or sung just
because everyone must sing at that point? Be honest – these are
genuine questions, are they not?
        The reading: Is everyone listening? Does anyone have a
Bible? Do they listen to the whole reading and consider its contents
as the speaker continues? Does it have any impact at all on the
hearer? Does the member drift off…looking at others, becoming
blank, drooping the eyes, thinking of something else?
        The sermon – what exactly is a sermon? What is its aim and
purpose? Has its subject and content been impressed upon the
preacher directly by the Holy Spirit, and must he preach it because
his very soul is burdened by it? I doubt it very much.
        Most „full-time‟ paid pastors have no time to contemplate their
breakfast, let alone the entire content of everything they say and do!
Has the man written his notes in such a way as to agree with the
„Geneva Pulpit method‟? This usually means having no more than
three points (an Arminian idea used by Calvinists!). Or is the whole
message from God?

        Will the preacher finish what he is saying when he realises his
own mind and will are taking over? I doubt it very much! Few have
that kind of courage. Will he speak for as long as the Holy Spirit
requires – or for as long as it takes for the Sunday roast to cook?
        It seems strange to me that every sermon lasts for exactly the
same amount of time! God is either very structured…or, more likely,
the preacher is spinning it out to reach the end, or he is cutting bits
out to finish before eyebrows are raised and people look at their
watches! All sound familiar? It should, because these things go on
everywhere, all the time.
        Is the congregation actually listening? Maybe the preacher
has attended his college course on „preaching techniques‟, in which
case he will see from yawns and shutting eyes when to raise his
voice, or when to lower it. When to pause and when to be excited. All
of this is „technique‟. How far this all is from someone like, say,
Jonathan Edwards, who was so short-sighted he read everything in a
monotone from notes, with his face up against the paper. One is
Man-led, the other is Spirit-led.
        Do people change their ways after hearing the sermon? Or, do
they just think the sermon is something they have to endure? For our
own part, some time after leaving the „system‟, my wife and I realised
that what we actually missed was „a good sing-song‟!
        Many people enjoy the singing, but think the sermon and the
prayers are boring. It is far too easy to blame the people for being
faithless…but could it be that God has not given the message to the
preacher, day in, day out? And that is why people think more of the
singing than of the message?
        And the „long‟ pre-sermon prayer? Is it the usual „around the
world‟ prayer, saying everything yet nothing? Does it talk in vagaries?
Has every word been prompted by the Holy Spirit? Is it just an
example of the preacher‟s eloquence? Do people go to sleep or
struggle to stay awake?
        Yes, we must ask ourselves about the spiritual state of the
congregation also…but we cannot absolve the preacher. More
importantly, has the prayer been sanctioned and given by God? If
not, then should not the preacher just shut up?
    K. The Prayer Meeting
        What is a prayer meeting? (See the more detailed chapter on
this topic). Nowhere in scripture do we find what is now known as a
„prayer meeting‟! Not only are they not found in scripture – but they
are actually unscriptural. No doubt this will sound absurd to those
familar with the reformed position.
        Reformed preachers point to scripture and say that there is
plenty of evidence that early Christians met specifically and regularly
for prayer meetings. But this is not true. Certain factors leap from the
pages of scripture to say otherwise.
        For example, the only time people met for prayer was when
each one of them was individually led by the Holy Spirit to meet.
They did not meet for the fun of it, or because it had been written on
a yearly planner, or because it was the „right thing to do‟. They met

for a very specific, urgent and serious purpose. There was a Spirit
initiated-and-led aim.
        And the prayer was very specific, not wavering or mentioning
everything under the sun! Furthermore, before the people met, each
was given the reason for the prayer, and each was given exactly the
same prayer, by the Spirit (not by the pastor). That is how they could
be unified in their prayer, and that is how they could pray „as one‟.
        None of this occurs today! Today, a prayer meeting is called
the „crux‟ or „hub‟ of local church life. Yet, there is not a shred of
evidence given in support of this view (see Appendix in response to
Dr Peter Masters)!
        Prayer meetings are planned not just yearly, but as a
permanent feature. Immediately, this tells us that the Holy Spirit is
not in the idea. Such meetings are obviously not specific or urgent,
but formal and man-led. They tell us that Man has deemed it right to
call on God to be there on a weeknight, from seven to eight (very
Arminian and very Roman Catholic)!
        In scripture we find the complete opposite – God calls men
and women together whenever He requires them to meet! This is not
regular, there is no set time scale, and no requirement placed upon
everyone; only on those whom He calls to meet.
        The content of many prayer meetings is usually determined by
suggested prayer lists given by the pastor (or the so-called „prayer
leader‟). Pastors are known to stop some from praying, or to cut
prayers to a „suitable‟ length. Prayers start at a certain time and
usually finish by a certain time. This is a man-made time-table, not
the prompting of the Holy Spirit!
        And when prayers are not „guided‟ by the „leader‟, they consist
of an ever-decreasing list of possible subjects…When the first person
prays, the second person tries to think of something not already said
by the first person. The third person then tries to avoid whatever the
first and second persons have already said. So, if the prayer meeting
is full, the people who have to pray toward the end start to feel
   ecidedly uneasy, as they desperately try to think of something else
to say!! (This is not speculation – it happens).
        It is also a fact that whilst a few members are „natural‟ pray-
ers, the rest find it hard to think of anything to say and they feel
forced to speak. This is especially the case when prayers start at one
end of a line and continue until each person has spoken.
        This tells us several things. Firstly, the „natural‟ ones are
probably only naturally eloquent and they enjoy speaking in public.
Secondly, if others feel forced to pray or find they have nothing to say
but they try anyway, then God has not called them to speak at all.
More importantly, it shows that He has not called them all together
for prayer in the first place.
        Jesus said that we must pray in private, in our „closet‟. This
single powerful argument should be enough to still the voices of
ardent prayer-meeting folk. He said that the Pharisees loved to pray
out loud in public, but we must not be like them!

         The only time we read of public prayers is when a man of God
prays once as a representative of the people. The only time we read
of people gathering for prayer, is when God has given each one of
them exactly the same (single) subject, at exactly the same time, and
for an urgent reason. There is not even a specific reason found in
scripture for those who pray having to be in the same room or
geographical area!
         True prayer is uttered by a man or woman who has been
prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak. What the person has to say is
for God‟s ears, not our own. That is why it must be in our „closet‟.
     K. The Reverend Thing
         A vast number of pastors use the title „Reverend‟. I have heard
their reasons, but they simply do not hold water. The word „reverend‟
is found only once in the whole of scripture, and it is used to describe
a particular characteristic of God Himself. So, how can a mere man
use it as a title?
         Others, at least trying to be more scriptural, make the mistake
of using „pastor‟ as a title instead. But scripture is very down-to-earth
about all this! A man who calls himself „pastor‟ may as well call
himself „reverend‟, because the intention is exactly the same.
         Nowhere in scripture do we find „officers‟ (who therefore
require some kind of title, such as „Chief Priest‟, etc). We only have
„offices‟. The first describes the person, and the latter describes what
he does within the local church. In scripture the pastor is supposed to
be the servant of all. But today, he is the boss or manager of a local
church, or even of an entire denomination! In scripture, a pastor is
only a sub-shepherd. Today, he is the one who all must listen to
whatever he says or does. He has real power.
         In scripture the pastor is subservient to the Lord Jesus Christ
and has only delegated authority. Today, pastors think their authority
is all their own.
         In scripture pastors are called by God. Today, they are
„ordained‟ by Bible colleges, or by other „reverends‟ or „pastors‟, or by
denominations. There is so much we could say about this error!
         In scripture, a pastor is only one of the local congregation, and
he can also be known as the bishop or overseer, an elder, a
presbyter, etc. These are not titles, only descriptions of the task they
perform within the local church. Every Christian has his or her own
calling, but they are not given titles!! The pastor is not greater than,
or above, the local congregation…he is simply another member, of
equal standing. Any authority he has is delegated, so he has none of
his own.
     K. Pastors, Elders and Deacons
         Most local churches have unbiblical hierarchies. A usual
hierarchy is: pastor, elder, deacon. Under these come lesser mortals,
such as Sunday School teachers, Bible class leaders, etc. We find
none of this nonsense in scripture!
         The „man in the pew‟ (a term that itself indicates an hierarchy)
looks „up‟ to the pastor. The elders are the „spiritual‟ leaders who are
next-down to the pastor. Yet, in scripture, an elder IS a pastor!! They

are exactly the same thing! So, to have a line of „elders‟ under the
pastor is nonsense.
        „Under‟ the elders or the pastor come the deacons…often the
most powerful body of people in any local church. Yet, in scripture,
the deacons are merely the folk who do the menial tasks on behalf of
the church! The current set-up is definitely not found in scripture.
        Deacons are not „more spiritual‟ nor are they spiritual leaders
of the church. Yet how many times do we find deacons making
decisions concerning the government of a local church? How many
times do we see them appointing or even sacking pastors? How
many times do they „stand for office‟ as though they were leaders?
How many times do deacons lead this or that service or meeting as a
matter of right? None of this is in scripture!
        The present structure means that folk think deaconship is the
first rung on the ladder of promotion…then comes „elder‟ and then –
only if they attend an approved Bible college and are „ordained –
comes the top prize of all…pastor. Each of these poorly perceived
offices is held in high regard for its status, power and authority.
Subservience to the Lord, and humility, are rarely found.
        It is often the case, too, that local pastors act as travelling
evangelists. This is most odd, for evangelism is not usually the
province of a pastor, because the pastorate is a totally different
calling. The pastor‟s sole task is to look after the spiritual well-being
of a saved congregation. The evangelist is called to preach to lost
souls and to „make Christians‟. This is not the task of the local pastor.
Nor is it his task to marry and bury local unbelievers, or to christen
their babies!
        Thus the pastor‟s role is confined to those who are saved,
within the local church. So, the usual split services on Sundays
(morning „teaching‟, and evening „evangelism‟) are completely wrong
and unbiblical if they are undertaken by the pastor. If unbelievers
decide to enter a meeting of Believers in a „service‟ then they must
adapt to it…the pastor must not alter his task to suit the unbeliever
(the ultimate version of this is called a „seeker friendly service‟ where
the supposed - and misconceived – „need‟ of the lost is considered
superior to the actual need of local Christians to be fed spiritually).
     K. Meeting Together
        We are commanded to meet together. But what we have
today is a highly structured social gathering with its own sub-groups,
rules and aims. Inevitably, Christians have much in common. Sadly,
though, today what they have in common is anything but a Biblical
        Scripture says very little about what we should do when we
meet together. Yes, we ought to meet together for communion, but
scripture does not make this a separate service. In scripture it is
usually part of a light meal. Yes, we ought to meet for Bible study,
because Bible teachers are appointed by the Spirit.
        The pastor, too should be „apt to teach‟ – though this does
NOT mean he must hog all the teaching classes! It simply means he

should have an ability to teach – which may, or may not, be „better‟
than that of the teacher.
        We should indeed meet together, but this is a very general
Biblical command. That is, we meet because we are fellow believers
and NOT necessarily to have a „service‟ or to do anything in
particular. We meet because there are so very few of us, and we
need each other as brethren. We meet to discipline and to rebuke,
exhort and to teach, to help each other and to ensure we do not go
off at a tangent.
        None of this makes it necessary for us to meet anywhere in
particular. We can meet in a field, or in a barn, or in a house, or in a
larger building built for the purpose. It does not matter where we
        The only reason I can see for us to meet in a large building we
refer to as a „church‟ is if there are large numbers that cannot
physically meet in anything smaller. If numbers are small, there is no
reason whatever why Christians should not meet in a house.
        Sadly, many reformed men think „house‟ churches are
somehow inferior to the „formal‟ kind. They also tend to wrongly
mistake all house churches as being charismatic or of the „house
church movement‟. They think that such churches are not „real‟
        Unfortunately, even „ordinary members‟ have the same
prejudices that cannot be supported by scripture. Scripture tells us
that the „church‟ exists wherever two or three are gathered together
(for any reason).

The Major Problem
       The above are only a few examples of reformationism. There
are many more. They are, though, just symptoms of an underlying
problem. After many years observation and having personal
involvement, I believe the real, underlying problem is as follows:
       Reformationists are saved people. They love to refer back to
the Reformers and the Puritans. They respect the Reformation period
and they revere the Reformers; many of whom lost their lives as
martyrs. There is nothing at all wrong with these things, but
reformationists go a stage further and are only a short step away
from becoming cult-like.
       This is because they love the Reformation, but they rarely
apply it as a principle to live by and rarely continue reformation of
their own lives, beliefs and churches. On top of this stagnation, there
are hundreds of years of human tradition and human teachings. It is
common for reformed people to mix scripture and reformed teaching.
That is, the teachings of men. The culmination of this is to insist on
being called „Calvinistic‟ or „Reformed‟.
       Reformed men all think like each other, and base what they
think on other reformed men‟s ideas. It does not occur to them that
they ought instead to rely only on scripture (though their preaching
probably extols it, week by week)! What is scriptural thinking?

        Firstly, it is the reading of scripture as it is written. For
Reformed men this is harder than it seems! They think it means
tacking-on to scripture what reformed writers have said. Almost
without exception Reformed preachers use reformed literature plus
scripture when preparing sermons etc. And if anyone dares to write
articles or books not using reformed writers as references, they are
deemed to be inadequate!
        Yet, this is not scriptural. God requires us to read His word
alone when making our judgements and when preparing teaching
materials. The work of other reformed men is adequate for
comparative purposes, but they must not be used as equal to
        Secondly, texts must be read in their contexts. I have heard
many reformed preachers preach this very truth! But, they cannot
take that vital step of relying only on scripture. For this reason they
tend always to use the works of other reformed men as „expert
witnesses‟ for what they preach. In many cases, these works become
substitutes for Spirit-given Biblical interpretation, and so traditions are
        Thirdly, all Biblical words and texts must be interpreted by
scripture itself. This is probably the biggest part of the problem. To
interpret properly is to see what the original languages say the words
mean, and to give these meanings only. As is usual, most Biblical
words can have a variety of different meanings, so they must be
„qualified‟. In reformed circles this often leads to personalised
interpretations without any reference to scripture at all! The inevitable
result of this kind of poor reading is to „spiritualise‟ texts, forcing them
to mean something quite different to what their real meaning is.
        Finding the true meaning is time-consuming, but certain
factors must be borne in mind…it is a rule of scripture reading, that
we must read a text as it is written. We must accept the meaning to
be literal unless the context suggests otherwise. We must use the
most obvious meaning unless the text and context suggest
        An important factor in finding the correct interpretation is the
context. An excellent example of how important this is, is the reading
of John 3:16. By restricting one‟s reading of the text to its immediate
verse Arminian heresy is conceived, and „world‟ is taken to mean „the
whole world‟. From this comes the supposedly scriptural teaching of
universal salvation.
        However, if the entire chapter is read (along with the whole of
scripture) a totally different interpretation appears. It is true that
„world‟ can mean the whole world, because this is a meaning of
„world‟ in the Greek. BUT – „world‟ in the Greek also has several
other meanings! One of these is „the saved only‟. We know that this
is the proper interpretation of 3:16 NOT because I say so, but
because that is what the context tells us! Thus, scripture has
interpreted itself.
        But what happens when we cannot tell the actual meaning
even from the context? Well, if the context does not reveal the

meaning, we must look at it against the whole of scripture. And if a
meaning still does not make itself obvious, we must just accept that
we do not have a precise meaning.
        Interestingly, when I reach such a juncture and check with
reformed writers and commentators, they have come to exactly the
same conclusions about the same words and phrases! That is
usually the only time I resort to other writers and, even then, what
they have to say must agree with the tone of all of scripture.
Otherwise, I reject what is said, or treat it as merely an opinion.
        Fourthly, the genuine teacher of scripture is given his office by
God and his „prophecies‟ are from the Holy Spirit. („Prophecy‟ here
means expounding scripture and applying it to modern day living).
Many reformed preachers think they are called to be teachers, when
they are not. They take their „prophetic‟ teaching out of reformed
books. The true teacher of God‟s word interprets correctly (as above)
and applies his prophetic role to the scriptural meanings to build up
the Church.
        It is rare to find the above scriptural thinking in reformed
churches. Instead, we find scripture mixed with reformed writings as
a basis for interpreting scripture. We also find much „spiritualising‟,
which is really an abomination, for it is the excuse of the uncalled to
invent stories with human meanings.
        Another problem in reformed circles is that many reformed
preachers and teachers are not called to their office. They have
assumed office and so the Lord is not with them in what they do. I
have heard countless numbers of these men! I do not hesitate to say
that many in the pulpits today should not be there, because they are
not called by the Holy Spirit to speak. There is no slur on their
character; they have just mistaken a personal choice for God‟s
        Linked with this is the bad habit of those who are called, of
speaking on a regular basis and wherever they are called to speak.
Has the Spirit actually called them to speak at every venue? From
what I have heard, I doubt it very much. The man called of God will
speak only when prompted to do so, and will shut up when the Spirit
has finished. This is not found in reformed circles.
        It is now about time that the reformed lived scripturally instead
of reformedly, Spirit-led and not Calvin-led. In this is the only antidote
to a spiritual sickness that is rampant within reformed churches…a
sickness unrecognised by most though the signs are obvious.

                          About the Author
       K. B. Napier lives in Swansea, UK. His special interest is
doctrine and the way it is presented. A preacher/Bible teacher since
the 1960‟s, he founded the Christian Research Institute in 1985, but
changed its name to more accurately reflect its work. Thus, it
became Bible Theology Ministries (BTM).

        This consists mainly of several newsletters, issued freely, and
articles covering a variety of subjects. There is also a major
theological website, with a growing number of
readers, and a newer website offering studies of Bible books, verse
by verse,
        K. B. Napier has written hundreds of articles, a book on
nursing in 1984, science scripts for radio, and a book on
disfellowship in 2004 called „The Left Boot of Fellowship‟
(Authorhouse). This latter book was based on his doctorate in
theology dissertation and is probably the first to cover the subject of
excommunication in readable format.

                     Bible Theology Ministries

        Bible Theology Ministries (BTM) was set up in 1985 after a
long gestation period. It began its work with an explosive summary of
the then new AIDS problem. At first, the founders were side-tracked
into using their own methodology, and the new ministry almost died
after a few years. Following repentance, it was revived by God into
its current work.
        The work is a definite ministry, given for the building up of the
Body of Christ, the Church, through the proper study of scripture as it
is written, and a suggested way of observing and interpreting what
happens in our day.

       The work of the ministry (BTM) is reviewed by, and under the
constant eye of the church pastured by K. B. Napier, BTM co-
workers, and those who read its literature.
       BTM has no formal links with any other group, denomination
or para-church organisation, believing that in standing alone as
called, it is better able to retain its integrity. It does have informal
links, however, with many who share the same kind of vision and
work. BTM expenses are partially borne by K. B. Napier and co-
workers of BTM, and partially by subscribers, who kindly send

The Beacon
This is our main newsletter, published monthly. It contains comments
on the news and Christian matters. Sent to subscribers only.

BTM News
A newsletter sent to all subscribers on an occasional basis.
Gives updates on BTM work and personnel etc.

Available during the time of the Toronto Blessing – comments on
charismatic errors. No longer published, but back copies (17 in total)

are available, 65p each incl. p+p (UK). Useful as a background
commentary to that time.

These are single sheet, two-sided articles, giving introductory
comments on a wide variety of Biblical and Christian topics.

Longer articles with detailed Biblical teachings. One section deals
with verse-by-verse teaching on books of scripture. Titles are added

Speaking Engagements
 All requests are carefully considered. There are no fees, but
actual and direct expenses should be met. Donations may, or
may not, be offered, but are not demanded or expected.
  The BTM also operates its ministry on the internet. This facility
contains additional material, including regularly updated comments
on news items and a section for „seekers‟. At this time the site is still
being constructed, as hundreds of documents have to be transferred
to it. Many titles are already available.
Verse-by-verse studies of whole Bible books. This website is being
constructed slowly, but there are already many available books.
Those interested may receive studies each Sunday, as they are
produced. Request to be placed on the Sunday studies mailing list
(main website).

                      Petra eBooks

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