It’s time to talk about confronting apostasy

It’s time to talk about confronting apostasy

This is an ongoing, artistic and pastoral series on ending apostasy in the church: this is post 6 of the series. You can read the previous posts by clicking on the links below.
Post 1: Melted Crayons and Smothered Light
Post 2: Trees Are Not Brown & Other Truths
Post 3: Blurring Right & Wrong, a Lesson from Charlottesville
Post 4: The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees
Post 5: We are the antibodies of the church, the soldiers of Christ


It’s time for confrontation.


After having applied a light blue paint in clusters to create the illusion of leaves, I made the mistake of then applying teal and white paint in horizontal strokes. The net result was a blurred mess.


While I stood there in my kitchen, assessing the blurred state which I had inflicted upon the foliage of my tree, I had a revelation.


“Blurring” has been a recurrent theme through this project: blurring the line between right and wrong, truth and lie, good and evil. Confusion and distortion are the tools of apostates, of those who live in darkness, seeking to dim our places and sources of light, holiness, and righteousness.

Before the “Blurr”


After the “Blurr”


When we choose to allow false teachers to persist unreproached, against the wishes of God, we further the destructive forces of confusion (the blurring) within the body of Christ.


Inaction is action.


When I was a toddler, my family moved away from the city, in part so that my older sisters could attend safer, better schools. Since there was no Episcopal Church out in our area, my parents and a handful of close friends founded a new church.

From the Church of the Annunciation’s website:

On January 10, 1988, twelve families gathered together on a cold winter day in the auditorium of the Cordova Center. There was no heat, only a borrowed kerosene heater from a neighboring ballet class. The group gathered as pioneers, establishing a new Episcopal Church in the growing Cordova community. On October 14th, 1988, with donated altar hangings, a bell, an organ and fixtures from all over the diocese, this group officially became the mission of Church of the Annunciation.

On January 9, 1994, the current church building was completed, dedicated and opened


Over the years, while our little church was growing, so too was an apostate movement within the national church. This heretical movement was secretive, clever, persistent, and patient in its slow, steady infiltration. Congregants across the country remained blissfully unaware.


More and more bad actors quietly rose to positions of power.


There was no national response.

There was no public rebuke.

There was no correction.


There was no confrontation.


Although this apostasy had not taken place in our little church, it was taking place in other churches. People knew and did nothing. Scriptural warnings had been ignored; the scriptural-outlined responsibilities of congregants and leaders were neglected.


As a result, the national church was officially hijacked by idolaters, worshipers of the flesh. The entire Episcopal Church of America has become captives of the philosophy of man (Colossians 2:8).


Our little church is ours no more.


Blurring the truth is evil. Allowing it to stand only aids in the spread of darkness.


But, what should you do?

How should you confront apostasy in your church?


“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matthew 18:6


Scripture provides us with ways of confronting heresy, depending on whether that heresy is (A) private or (B) public.


For example, although I no longer belong to the Episcopal Church, Christ’s words in Matthew 18:6 haunt me. Because the Episcopal Church of America (ECUSA) is now going public with their false ideology, many souls are at risk. Thus, ECUSA must be publicly confronted.


While we’ll explore this subject in depth in my next post, you can read my public rebukes of ECUSA here and here.


For today, you have an important task:

Before you begin confronting apostasy in your church, you must prepare you heart and mind, pray for guidance, and examine your motives. As Rev. Elliot points out, there are three principles to consider:

  • First, love must be your motivation in confronting apostasy.If you have in mind any motivation other than the preciousness of Christ, the preciousness of His truth, and the preciousness of His true church, then you need to think twice. Now, I do not say that to discourage you from doing what the Bible says you must do. Your duty is clear. But you must constantly, continually check your motivation and make sure that by God’s grace you keep it pure. And that motivation must be love for Christ, and His church, and His truth.
  • Second, self-sacrifice must be this love’s demonstration.Confronting false teaching and apostasy is not the easy thing to do. Let me speak to you from experience. If you find that God has put you in the place of having to confront false teaching, you will find that it is going to be exceedingly time-consuming. It will take much prayer. It will take much effort. It will require you to spend much time in God’s Word. You will find yourself spending much time in dealing with people on both sides of the issue – people who are for the truth and people who are against the truth. It will take much discipline to stay the course.

You will need the whole armor of God. This is a spiritual battle of the most intense kind. Once again, I say this not by way of discouragement. Your duty is clear, and God will bless you for doing that duty in ways you may not immediately understand. But you must constantly, continually rely upon the Word of God as your authority and the Spirit of God as your teacher, and guide, and strength during the entire process. You will need to constantly check yourself for any danger signs that you are operating in the flesh. Remember that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Remember that the work is done “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit saith the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).

  • The third principle I want to reiterate is this:Biblical truth is the issue. We are to speak the truth in love. The issue in confronting apostasy is always God’s truth. The issue is not persons, or personalities, or reputations, or creeds, or confessions, or anything else. Do not let any of these other things become the issue. Do not do that yourself, and do not let anyone else do it. If anyone tries to do that, you must endeavor to bring the focus back to the issue of truth and error. The Lord Jesus Christ said in John chapter 17 that God’s truth is that which sanctifies. It is truth that sets the genuine believer apart from the imposter. It is God’s truth that separates false teachers from the faithful ones.


As I begin to confront the “blurred” imagery of my painting, I ask that you take this topic to God. Pray, consider, wrest. Are you ready to take on this task? What are you willing to do?

UPDATE! Episcopal Church doubles down on bad, plays dumb

On February 2nd,  I reported on a resolution that was passed in the Washington D.C. diocese of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA). The resolution calls for all future updates to the Book of Common Prayer (the liturgies) “to avoid the use of gendered pronouns for God.”

The news of the passage of the resolution was widely received with dismay, and a plethora of criticisms toward ECUSA have followed.

Now, the Episcopal Church has responded…. continue reading.

The Episcopal Church has a God Problem


Last week, the Washington D.C. diocese of the Episcopal Church (ECUSA) adopted a resolution that seeks to permanently alter the language found within all future updates of the Book of Common Prayer to reflect the diocese’s newly adopted non-gendered version of God.

This resolution will be presented for adoption nationally later this year.

Continue reading…

Antibodies of the church, soldiers of Christ

In this way, each of us has a special role to play: the role of a righteous antibody. – We are the antibodies of the church: righteous fighters, salvation’s soldiers.

Project 3, post 5: We are the antibodies of the church, the soldiers of Christ

This is the 5th part of Project 3. You can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, Part 3 HERE, and Part 4 HERE.


Periodically we are treated to the sight of a rainbow stretching wide across the sky, or vivid sunsets of red and pink, purple and blue. During such times, the colors that we typically spot in the landscape of God’s plentiful earth, we can also find high above, beautifully complimenting the pastel sky.


To mimic these stunning moments of symmetry, testaments to the splendor of the Almighty, I began bringing the colors found in the sky and in the foliage of the tree in my on-going piece down into the grassy meadow below.


Note: Painting involves mixing paints to create various colors. Because of this, it is important to stagger the stages of your painting, keeping in mind the paint you wish to use in multiple areas should be carried out in a fashion that does not lend itself to the premature drying-out of your paints.


Artistic process:


  • First, I redefined the border between the meadow with a simple, thin brown line. Next, I used a matte black to define the roots of the tree, creating shadows. White was added to define highlights and add the illusion of texture and dimension.


  • Using the tip of my pinky finger, I smudged the black paint onto the canvas, drawing it out away from the roots, creating depth. I also smudged black along various areas of the grass away from the roots of the tree.


  • Again, using the tip of my pinky finger, I smudged teal paint along the outside of the shadows beneath the tree. The dark, teal-gray paint was the same color I used as the base color for the foliage of the tree. Like the black, I carried this color into the broader body of grass.


I observed the many shades of reds and oranges and flecks of yellow which were so vibrant in the sky of the piece.


Keeping in mind that the tree’s broad branches would, in real life, cast a shadow upon the ground below, I plotted areas toward the edges of the canvas that would remain brightly lit from the vibrant sun.


  • Using a half-inch wide, flat-faced brush with stiff bristles, I used left to right dragging stroke to punctuate the grassy field with reds and oranges and hints of creamy yellow. The yellow was used to emphasize the most sunlit areas of the landscape.


When painting landscapes, the infusion of darks and lights and various colors can serve to define elevation changes of the earth.


Sprigs of grass can be added to these elevation indicators to further develop the impression of fluctuations in elevation, such as with small mounds or sloping hills, as seen in the example (below) of a different painting.


  • Mixing paints, I created five different shades of green, from very light to very dark.


  • Using a small, very thin, round-tipped brush, I applied sprigs of grass with brisk strokes upward; starting at the base of the blade of grass and then sweeping upward.


  • I also used the green paint to further define the earthen base for the grass. I applied a few random lines, from left to right, and pulls blades of grass out and upward from each.


  • Lighter shades of green were used in areas of direct sunlight; darker shades in the shadows.


  • I made sure to sporadically group clumps of grass around the roots of the tree to create depth.


I stood back a few feet from the painting and observed the balance of color. Having carried colors from the sky and the dark grayish-teal down into the meadow, I decided to add one last touch.


  • Using the same, round brush I had used to apply the vibrant, deep blue “dots” in the foliage of the tree, I carried that color and the dots down into the grass.


  • I applied the dots heavily around the base of the tree; then thinned them outward.


The below image shows the painting as completed after the above steps.




As I stood back to take in the piece, at all that I had done thus far, those bright blue dots popped out at me. Those vibrant dots felt as if they were alive; tiny balls of energy, as if the very life source of the meadow and of the grand ol’ tree itself.


As I gazed up my painting I realized that those splendid bits of blue were symbolic embodiments of the souls of Bible-believing, faithful Christians…


Throughout this project – dealing with the need for the body of Christ to reclaim our churches from the grips of apostacy – I have written at length about the need for each one of us to take responsibility for both reading and studying God’s precious Word, and for safeguarding His Word from misapplication and abuse. We must hold tight to sound doctrine.


In this way, each of us has a special role to play: the role of a righteous antibody.


Scattered amongst the branches of the tree and sprinkled in the meadow below, each vibrant blue dot – each dedicated, Bible-believing Christian – acts as an antibody, serving to prohibit the infection of heresy from progressing. If we each do our job, we prevent the disease from running rampant.


For this reason we have a very important task: In essence, we must be missionaries within our own congregations, apostles within our own churches.


We are the antibodies of the church: righteous fighters, salvation’s soldiers.


And, that’s a pretty cool thing indeed!


So, now I wish to close from a few verses from 2 Timothy:

2 Timothy 2New Living Translation (NLT)

A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

Timothy, my dear son, be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus. You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.

Always remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David, was raised from the dead. This is the Good News I preach. And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained. 10 So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

11 This is a trustworthy saying:

If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
12 If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
he will deny us.
13 If we are unfaithful,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is.

The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees

Project 3, Post 4: The Illusion of Holiness & Shadow-barren Trees

The is the 4th part of Project 3 which covers the state of the church here in America. You can read Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, and Part 3 HERE.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”

(Col.2:8-9, NASB).

Artistic Process:

  • After first identifying what direction the sun would be coming from in this painting, I added highlights to the branches of my tree using a bright off-white. Using a thin, straight brush, I created clean, crisp lines across the topside of each branch. Next, I used a dark grey to define the underside of each branch, as seen in the image below.


  • I selected a dark greyish-teal to form the base of the tree’s foliage. Using a 1/2” wide, rounded, soft brush, I dabbed the dark teal paint into the canvas. Since trees do not have leaves all over each branch, I scattered the teal around the branches. Notice: I added some teal along the length of the branches, but often not covering the branch itself. This allows for the foliage that appears from behind each branch.


  • Next, I added shadows, very dark shadows. For this I selected a flat back. I followed along the same pattern of the teal I had already laid upon the canvas, but also took the black across the branches in several areas. I did this, because leaves that are closer to the viewer would undoubtedly cast a shadow behind them. In other words, the dark shadow was applied to create depth.


  • I then selected a slightly lighter shade of teal-blue paint. After allowing my brush to dry, I dabbed it into the paint. Keeping the width of the brush parallel to the bottom and top edges of the canvas, I briskly tapped/dabbed the teal paint upon the canvas. This created rough edges, creating the illusion of leaves. I applied the teal paint in clusters. Some of these clusters were applied across the branches of the tree. Once this was finished, the distinct illusion of leaves had been created.


  • Finally, I used a long, straight brush with a circular tip to dab on tiny dots of dark blue paint. This added texture and dimension to the foliage of the tree.



While reading the Bible, 1 Corinthians 14:23-25 grasped my attention. Here, Paul says:

If some people are not Christians come to your church meeting while all the people are speaking in special sounds, they will think you are crazy. But if a man who is not a Christian comes to your church meeting while you are all speaking God’s Word, he will understand that he will understand that he is a sinner by what he hears. He will know he is guilty. The secrets of his heart will be brought into the open. He will get on his knees and worship God. He will say, “For sure, God is here with you!”


Paul’s main point here, put very simply, was to point out the fruitlessness of preaching in tongues/languages that others can not understand. Obviously, it is quite difficult to impact others meaningfully without speaking a language they understand. However, Paul’s words also point out the power God’s Word has on others. Thus, we can see the importance of straightforwardly speaking God’s Word for others, as the Word has the unique power to convert souls. This power lies in the Word’s ability to illuminate the darkness of sin, to bring it to the surface of one’s conscience. It is through the intimate illumination of sin which takes place within a person’s soul that leads to repentance and conversion. For this, I am reminded of Jesus’s words (John 3:20), “Everyone who sins hates the Light. He stays away from the Light because his sin would be found out.” Jesus is the Word, and the Word is the Light.


The composition of the tree’s foliage in my ongoing painting is symbolic of American churches which contain both darkness and shadows, as well as light. Some churches have become places of darkness, where scripture twisting and sin validation commonplace. Like the illusion of foliage in my painting, the illusion of holiness is maintained in unholy houses of worship. It is this illusion of holiness that sustains the false teachers’ positions of authority. As the scattered blue dots among the leaves, there may still remain a few congregants in the darkest churches who remain genuinely filled with the Light of the Holy Spirit. However, the majority of the congregants in the darkest houses have been led astray by the wolves.


How does this happen?

Notice in the image below how the foliage has overtaken the black shadows that I had laid down.While the shadows are still visible, the light has returned to prominence. In many churches the opposite is true: their trees are barren; the shadows having overtaken the branches. Like a garden unattended, weeds were left unopposed and passively permitted to flourish without reproach, and the Light of God’s Word was slowly, selectively, and purposefully twisted into language incomprehensible or kept locked away from the ears of the flock. The flock has been led into placid captivity.


Still, there are others who actively engage in their own entrapment and in the entrapment of others. These sheep, having fallen asunder through indoctrination into worshiping the false philosophies of men, will fervently reject God’s Word when it is spoken. They will bray incessantly with anger and rage to all those who plainly speak God’s Word. These are like the swine who trample pearls beneath their feet (Matthew 7:6).

“Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

Our jobs a Bible-believing Christians of all denominations is the same today as it was in Jesus’s time, in Paul’s time: we are to be a spirit-filled force of holy opposition, holding fast against the forces of darkness. We must keep ourselves directly opposite to those who espouse falsehoods. Only through our steady withstanding can we expect to bring God’s Light and His Word into our shadow-stricken churches. Only through our unwavering example can all sinners hear the language of Christ and repent, sheading their chains of sin.

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.  “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”

(Acts 20:27-31 NASB).


Guest Author: A Christian’s Take on Sutherland Springs

So, what can we, as Christians, do about mass shootings?  It is easy to blame the world around us, but the reality is, if the world doesn’t know about Jesus it is our fault.


♣ Guest Column by Steven Hart

In the event a mass shooting, the first reaction of the public, as in the case of any tragic loss of human live, is invariably one of unified horror and dismay.  Yet, as the days go by, grief fades, and as life resumes its former pattern, one question remains looming in the public mind: Why did this happen?  Were this only an isolated instance, perhaps we all could continue on, satisfied with a circumstantial answer.  “He was out of his mind!” or “He’s just a really bad guy.”  But when the news of mass shootings becomes more and more routine, the localized answers no longer suffice.  What we really want to know is “How can we prevent this from happening again?”  In our present society, two main answers to the question predominate:

The first solution focuses upon the instrument.  In order to stop mass shootings, we must keep guns out of the hands of mass shooters.  This solution works in theory, but is very hard to put into practice.  Some attempt to achieve this through artificial regulations such as limits on magazine size and mandatory waiting periods, but these do virtually nothing to stop any determined shooter.  Others focus on the idea of “universal” background checks.  The case of Stephen Paddock (the Las Vegas shooter), however, calls this logic into question, as he showed no foreseeable signs of instability and passed all background checks.  Other solutions have been suggested as well, but they all face the same inevitable reality: gun control measures cannot be truly effective at stopping massing shootings in this country without wide-scale disarmament of the American people.  This is not only a logistical, political, and constitutional impossibility, but it also works directly against the second answer to our original question.

Rather than focusing on the gun in the hands of the criminal, some choose instead to focus on putting guns in the hands of the potential victims.  As these people see it, we may not be able to stop the shooter from firing his first volley, but we certainly can stop him from firing a second.  Although this logic may be disturbing to some, it is more pragmatic than many of its opponents are willing to admit.  Indeed, once a shooting has begun, it is most often another gun that brings it to an end.  This being said, although this solution may be effective on a circumstantial level, it doesn’t offer a truly systematic solution to the problem.  Even if we were able to get a gun in every school, church, and public place, (and find able-bodied people to use and fire them) this still would not stop these shootings from happening in the first place.

  …the reality is, if the world doesn’t know about Jesus it is our fault.

I want to make it very clear that I am not attempting to summarily dismiss either of these two solutions.  Both side’s arguments have their merits, and any policy which could lower the number of deaths from mass shootings in this country is at least worth considering.  That being said, both of these plans really only deal with the symptoms of a greater problem, a problem that has its roots in our modern culture.  The reality is that 60 years ago, people didn’t just walk into churches in order to murder everyone.  This, of course, raises a very interesting question. What has changed in American culture such that people now choose, with increasing frequency, to engage in mass murder?

Before I attempt to answer this question, we must first stop to clarify the topic.  People have been murdering each other since the beginning of time.  Domestic gun violence has existed as long as have guns, and violent racketeering has existed (and will continue to exist) as long as it has been profitable.  These things, evil as they are, have existed in some capacity over virtually all cultures at all times since the advent of gunpowder weapons.  [Terrorism, on the other hand, is a more recent phenomena, but not one that is by any means endemic to American culture.  Heinous though it may be, it has its roots in politics and ideology, and thus its causes and motivations are relatively easy to track and understand.]

  A society without God is a society without hope, and a society without hope will inevitably become filled with bitterness and misery.

The shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, alongside many others, however, are of an entirely different phenomenon.  In these cases, we have an individual murdering a large amount of people with no clearly identifiable personal or ideological motivation, other than perhaps a generic ire against society.  In common language, they are just ordinary people who appear to have “snapped.”  Although it is true that these shootings constitute only a tiny fraction of overall gun violence, these acts often appear to us the most heinous, as the victims are chosen not on the basis of any individual offense, but rather their membership in some greater segment of American society.

With this in mind, we can now consider the heart of the question: What has changed about American society, such that these shootings now occur?  There are a lot of possible causes I could point to – social isolation, bitterness, entitlement, etc. – but I think, for the Christian, the answer can be summed up with a simple statement: we live in a society that has forgotten God.  Some may reject this as mere truism, but I deeply believe this to be the heart of the matter.  A society without God is a society without hope, and a society without hope will inevitably become filled with bitterness and misery.  I am afraid that so long as society drifts away from the church, shootings like these will only become more and more commonplace.  Gun control and self-defense measures might be able to help, some, but ultimately, they are nothing more than painkillers.  What we are dealing with is a cancer.

♣  For if we save lives on this earth only for them to perish in the next life, what have we accomplished?

So, what can we, as Christians, do about mass shootings?  It is easy to blame the world around us, (“if only they knew better”) but the reality is, if the world doesn’t know about Jesus it is our fault.  It is our job to let the world know and experience the love of Christ.  So long as the Church sits on the sidelines, entering the public sphere to make its voice heard only on issues of petty politics, societal degradation will continue.  If we wish to curb the tide of nihilism in our society, we must get out and fight!  But we cannot fight bitterness and despair with anger and self-righteousness.  Our weapon against the forces of evil is the love of Christ and the truth of his Gospel.  If you are sickened by this tragic loss of life, the best thing you can do is love your neighbor and share the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For if we save lives on this earth only for them to perish in the next life, what have we accomplished?  For this reason, I urge you all, brothers and sisters, to live and preach the gospel with ever greater fervor, and when tragedy strikes, let your love and faith shine all the more.


♦Steven is currently a student at Cedarville University, a private Christian college in Ohio, where he is currently studying Accounting and Political Economy. In addition to his formal studies, Steven enjoys reading about history and philosophy, and analyzing current events through the light of his Christian faith.

Weaponizing Scripture, exploiting tragedy


Weaponizing scripture, that is, quoting scripture and applying it out of context to attack one’s political enemies and to exploit tragedy for political brownie points, has become a ritual here in America. This familiar pattern has again emerged, with fervor, following the shooting at a small-town church on Sunday.

Like a metal beam which has been bent and is no longer structurally sound, God’s Word does not serve His people when it has been distorted.

So, what exactly did the apostle James mean… continue reading