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

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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”

c

After the “Blurr”

b

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

Annunciation

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?

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.

a

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.

b

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.

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  • 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.

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Reflection:

 

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.

Weaponizing Scripture, exploiting tragedy

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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