Welcome to the Blogosphere (Where Voices are a Dime a Dozen)

I was in the remote South-South region of Nigeria during the Easter of 2009. The town we stayed in did not have consistent electricity. Most businesses operated by candle or oil lantern at night. Every bit of the cooking I saw was either done on kerosene stoves or over a fire. Most people walked everywhere or had bicycles. If you had a little bit of money you might have had a 50cc Chinese-made motorcycle upon which you would transport your family of five. Many of the homes were made of mud walls on a stick frame with thatched roofs. Everyone in that city had to rely on generators for essential electrical needs, but most generators did not run all day. If you were fortunate enough to have municipal water, it was not safe to drink. Trash blew the streets like leaves on a fall day. I think you get the picture. But among this all too common scene of African scantiness something caught my eye—cellphones—an abundance of cellphones. As I began to pay attention, I noticed most people didn’t just have one phone, no, more often than not, people had two or three cellphones—men and women. And there, in a part of Africa, without potable water, sanitation service, where people burn their trash to dispose of it; in a place with no more than three hours of electricity a day, the Internet was available on cellphones. (We even pulled up YouTube one day just to do it.)

 

On another trip, we were in the bush of Uganda, at the base of an extinct volcano near the Kenyan border, preaching at a pastors’ conference. The home of the pastor we were visiting had no electricity or running water. Many of the children in that village ran around without pants (for some reason they had tattered shirts). The livestock were tied to rocks and allowed to graze in circles. The pastor’s compound had a small brick and mortar house surrounded by three traditional round mud huts used for sleeping and cooking. And even there, we not only had cell signal, we had Internet. And there, we not only pulled up YouTube, we actually watched a video or two.

bush phone
Smartphones abound in Africa.

Anyone, anywhere, can now have a voice and a platform, even when they could never earn that platform from God or even the experts in their perspective fields.

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So I Went to a Mark T. Barclay Conference . . .

This past week I attended what is called Mark T. Barclay’s National Holy Spirit Conference. Apparently, it is held every year in Midland, MI—the home of Mark Barclay Ministries. Since this blog is all about the Theology of Mark T. Barclay, I want to take time in this article to report what I witnessed and experienced.

 

Before I deliver my field report on this “Holy Spirit” conference, let me be very transparent concerning my background so that you will understand the perspective from which I experienced this series of meetings. Perspective is so critical when it comes to interpreting and reporting what one has observed. Show a city-slicker a picture of a cow calving with the help of a ranch hand and they may state, “That farmer looked like he was pushing something into the cow.” A farmer or a vet would have the more precise interpretation of the same photo: “That farmer was helping to deliver the calf. He was pulling.”

 

Cow_calving-MBA_Lyon_1969-409-IMG_0143
Is he pushing or pulling?

I have had the privilege of worshipping and serving among many different denominations in the Kingdom of God. I was brought up in many different denominations, not because my parents were church hoppers, but because we moved around due to my father’s career. I’ve been among the Methodists (black and white), the Baptists (black, white, African, South American, and Eastern European), the Catholics (American, Central American, South American, and Eastern European), Covenant, Presbyterian, Church of God in Christ, Assemblies of God, Church of God, Church of God Prophecy, Apostolic Faith Mission (Southern Africa), countless non-denominations, etc., etc. I share all of this to say, I’ve been able to see how so many members of the Body of Christ serve and worship Jesus Christ based on where they are at culturally, geographically, doctrinally, and denominationally. I have never agreed with everything I have seen, but I have always found the hearts of the people to be sincere and desirous to please the God of the Bible. Certainly, every church has its problems, and those problems are the people that call that church, “Home,” but I have found Peter’s sermon ringing true everywhere I have travelled, ministered, and served: “But in every nation he that feareth him [God], and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35).

Allow me to be the interpreter of what I observed at Mark T. Barclay’s 2015 National Holy Spirit Conference.

 

First Impressions

Upon arriving to the ministry headquarters of Mark Barclay Ministries, you can’t help but spot a big silhouette statue of a bird (I later gathered it was a dove). And by large I mean it’s every bit of 15 or 20 feet tall. As it turns out, it’s the same silhouette Barclay uses for his ministry logo. The headquarters appears to be on a quaint acreage with very modest buildings out in the middle of nowhere Midland (but about 500 yards from an Islamic Community Center—go figure!).

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Mark T. Barclay–Heretic? Pt. 2

In my last article, we began to define doctrine, sound doctrine, and heresy. We determined from the Scriptures that the only way we as Christians are permitted to build doctrine is from the Word of God, and more specifically, from the witness of two or three verses. The intention of these articles is to scrutinize the doctrines of television preacher, Mark T. Barclay, to determine whether they are heresy or sound doctrine. If the doctrines of Mark T. Barclay can be proven to be heresy, then we can, with all humility and without a critical spirit, call him a heretic. However, if his doctrines are proven to be merely doctrinal differences and not heresy, then we must leave him and his ministry alone and obey the Scriptures that command us to, “know them that labor among you and esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thessalonians 5:12,13). Paul didn’t encourage us to love the Gospel Preacher because we agreed with all their doctrine, for doctrine is not even mentioned in the verse, rather, it is for their work’s sake that we love and esteem them.

 

So, What is Heresy?

So, what is heresy? According to the sum of the New Testament verses addressing the subject, heresy is a doctrine or system of teaching designed to deceive and lead people away from a holy life serving Jesus Christ. Heresy is designed to remove the love of God from a believer’s heart, callous their soul against sin, and turn them against truth by providing an easier standard. In short, any opinion or teaching that is repugnant to the doctrines of the Bible is heresy.

 

When does a mere doctrinal difference qualify to be labeled as a heresy? Doctrine can earn the label of heresy when it produces the following perverse fruit:

  • Deception in the minds of believers (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24)
  • Lawlessness in the hearts of believers (Matthew 24:12)
  • Remorselessness in the hearts of believers (Matthew 24:12)
  • A perversion of the Gospel (Galatians 1:7)
  • Bewitching the hearer out of the Gospel and back into spiritual slavery (Galatians 3:1)
  • Causing people to depart from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1)
  • Producing an attractive alternative Gospel to follow (2 Peter 2:2)
  • Causing the Gospel to be slandered and mocked by others (2 Peter 2:2)

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