Tag: Joshua Feuerstien

Explanation for our (Near) Silence on Orlando Shootings.

By Jonathan David Faulkner

If you do not know about it by now, then you have not been watching the news or the internet. Last Sunday a gunman walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people while injuring 53 more. This sad and tragic act has been the topic of almost every news story and point of debate everywhere from the Campaign Trail to the creators of memes and those who I call “Internet experts” that always seem to have the right opinion on Social Media. Resulting in a flurry of accusations and comments on race and violence and gun-control and treatment of the LGBT community by Christians and Republicans, debates about what an “Assault Weapon” is and finger pointing that would make the greatest debater fear for his life building to an incoherent babble that would make a Greek blush.

Everyone making comment, everyone making debate, everyone having to have their voice heard…well…except us.

I know “Jonathan, a Muslim walked into a LGBT nightclub and killed 50 people, shouldn’t you be talking about how it was God’s judgement or demanding life be sacred or defending the second amendment or talking about Islam…You’re a Christian, should you not have something to say on this?”

It turns out that I did release one statement on the subject, it was as follows.

“The fact is those who died in Orlando were made in the image of God, as was the shooter. Yes, the image was distorted and skewed and lost in depravity. But we must still mourn and pray with and for those who passed away and those who they left whether they are children of the covenant struggling with sin or not. As for what God will do, I know that He will be Just. #PrayforOrlando.”

That was all I had to say, the post was released both on the Jonathan David Faulkner Facebook Page and on my own personal profile. After that statement we moved on, choosing to engage in a discussion on the difference between Call and Vocation. An article that garnered our lowest reader count of anything we have ever released and saw none of the usual reactions to that kind of article. Meanwhile sites covering Orlando exploded, their comment sections filling up with outrage, anger and prayers for the victims.

“You could have really blown up over this, I mean, people listen to your opinion.” We know, but we did not want to be a part of what we knew was coming, and for the sake my conscious, I am glad I was not. It was like the day we released an article about Westboro Baptist by 10:31 Writer Josh Williams and our site blew up because we mentioned Westboro. But my conscious was troubled because we had stooped to their level, we had attacked them and in turn became targets. We had treated them ungraciously and I did not want to manage a ministry that sunk to that level. So I told the guys and gals that Westboro was off limits unless we could talk about them in a gracious manner. That event was also why I maintained a desire to see Joshua Feuerstien restored and see him transformed by the true Gospel way back in January when we first started researching his theology. I did not want to participate in the hatred, choosing to have fun when we and many others were called “Sissies” in a video earlier this year instead of firing back with an angry tirade of our own. I do not want to be that person, I do not want to run that type of Ministry.

Consider also that any other response would merely have been us adding to the noise and deluge of opinions without a complete understanding of the situation. I know, a Muslim man walked into a Nightclub during Ramadan and killed or injured 103 people. I know it came shortly after a Cleric spoke at a Masque in Orlando with an open anti-gay message. I know that Christians and Republicans have been blamed for the attack because they have impeded “LGBT Legislation” and proposed “Anti-LGBT Legislation” creating an environment where this was possible. I have seen the gun control debates, though I know little about guns or the finer points of the legislative process. I know that all the arguments I have heard this week have baffled me, as has all the finger pointing, and while I have opinions on Gun-Control that I will tell you if you really want to know, I also know that legislation cannot stop something like this.

So, I refused to engage in the public discourse, refusing to add to the ruckus because I did not want to be party to more division, hate and fear. I choose to do something else instead, I chose to Pray for Orlando and to carefully consider what was going on so that if I was asked I could have a well thought out, articulate response to something horrendous. I chose to react through actively praying, actively seeking the Lord and being there for those who needed comforting. To not offer an opinion, but to offer hope and love and care when it was needed most. Choosing the Gospel over destructive words.

Because, while I will never accept the LGBT Lifestyle I refuse to be hateful towards anyone who disagrees with me, in fact, to quote Glenn Beck’s statement to the LGBT Leaders in New York a few weeks back: “If someone was trying to shoot you I would stand between them and you and if I had a gun of my own, I would even shoot the person trying to shoot you.”

I hope you have seen, through reading these posts that God’s Heart considers all human life sacred. Beginning from the Imago Dei, seeing all people as made in the image of GOD and wanting to see that image renewed in Christ through Faith in Christ. We want to see people free from the bonds of what we, as an organization consider sin, but we know that being hateful and cruel does not a free man make in the end. We do seek to stand united with those who are suffering and hurting while being messengers for the Gospel. All human life has value in God’s Heart.

So that is why I have been quiet on this issue, I cannot, and will not speak out of hatred or ignorance on the issue and instead of throwing my opinion and intellectual weight around I found it better to be a light and witness to the broken and hurting. So that all might know that God is as good as He is just

 

12973040_10154269785339245_3845786340930956602_oJonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree inChristian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry

 

Why I Support the Babylon Bee:

By Jonathan David Faulkner

So earlier this month we published a question about The Babylon Bee in our Faulkner on the Fifth. I had a generally positive response to the website, and I still do, but I had readers coming to me expressing their concerns about the popular Christian Satire site, and about my support of it. So let me articulate here my thoughts on the site and afterwards I hope you have a better understanding of why I am supportive of it.

The Babylon Bee is satire, Satire is generally the breaking down of a cultural norm or folk idea in a way that is generally humorous. So, by participating in Satire the Babylon Bee is breaking down issues within a group of people, specifically Christians, in a way that is generally humorous. Now, they can go too far, and there are some articles that I have seen that do just that, but we are fallen human beings and Satire can be such a sensitive thing.

My reader base is split on my enjoyment of the Babylon Bee. Some find it offensive, and indeed it is, others try to fact check it and still others absolutely love it. I enjoy it, but I also find it offensive, like in most issues I sit in the middle of two extremes. I do have concerns about it, I have not blindly accepted it.

So why am I supportive of it? And what are those concerns that I have?

I will start with my concerns:

  1. It tears down the Body of Christ.
    1. Some of the articles are ungracious towards certain people. As funny as the Joel Olsteen Posts are I have to admit that instead of seeing Joel torn down I would like to see him return to Orthodoxy and to preaching the truth of Gospel.
    2. This is also the direct opposition to what we are trying to do at God’s Heart. We have a “Blue Print” if you will, for building up the Church, BT and I spend hours talking through these issues that we address on the website, searching God and His Word for our answers to your questions and to those things which we are addressing on this site. We want to see the body renewed, not just to each other, but to the world in general. To see the Church recapture that love that once made it so compelling.
  2. It “Airs out the Churches Dirty Laundry.”
    1. To borrow a quote from my Uncle who disagrees with the website. He is right, it does, and it is unfortunate that it took a Christian Satire website to get us to the point where those things we have held so dear in “Christianity, American Style” (Zahnd), that are not in line with scripture. Organizations like Church Leaders, The Dirty Christian and God’s Heart that have tried to address these issues are by their very nature unpopular because they call for a change in attitude among the general populous. A move away from those things that we have added to the Gospel.
  3. It is Offensive:
    1. Indeed, it is, and if it were not, I would have concerns. Again, I do wish there was another way to expose some of these things than a Satire site. The truth is, the things I have been offended by are things that I myself need to work on. It forces us to look inside and see if the attitude being portrayed is one we hold to and ask ourselves: “Does this really line up with the Gospel?”

So why support such a website?

  1. It exposes Heterodoxy and Folk Theology that have brought us to where we are as the American Church.
    1. If you disagree with me, that is fine, but remember I am one of the many who has become very disillusioned with American Christianity. A lot of the attitudes that they address are attitudes that I grew up hearing all the time or even some of the more modern issues within the bounds of our technology infused world. In fact the first article I ever read by them was entitled: “Girl finished morning devotions without posting on Instagram.” No Folk Theological idea is safe, and folk theology in America has done much more harm than good.
    2. Heterodoxy, which is the opposite of Orthodoxy, is dangerous, it perpetuates heresy such as what we have had to deal with from Joshua Feuerstien, Kenneth Copeland and Henry Wright (See David Faulkner’s A New Look At Job). You cannot deal with false teaching until it is exposed as such, and they have done that.
  2. It opens the Doors for Conversations:
    1. Again, I do not necessarily like that it took a Satire Site to open these doors but now they have been thrown open with a great thrust and now we can discuss why a lot of the ideas that have become prevalent in the American Church. Ideas about Evangelism (method and execution) and our reactions to things that are happening the world or the problems presented by certain Christian Leaders. Like Art in the Medieval Church the Babylon Bee opens the door for the Lay Christian (among whom are its reader base) to discuss these issues with their Church Leaders. It can also help to bridge the gap between the Laity and the Leadership.
  3. It gives us a reason to laugh at ourselves:
    1. Let’s face it, we take ourselves too seriously as believers. We have such a hard time laughing at ourselves. Sure, it is easy to laugh at Target or Apple or the rest of the World. Laughing at the world of its issues is easy, but turn the microscope back onto us and all of a sudden we become the most rigid people on the planet. In the words of Christian Comedian Brad Stine: “We have to laugh again.” After all, God did create laughter and he did create us, so why not be able to laugh at our shortcomings and show each other grace while we address these issues.

 

I know, this is a sensitive topic for us as a Church, we do not want to be told we are doing it wrong, especially in the American Church. The truth is we have a lot of work to do if we are going to impact the next generation. That has to start by addressing these attitudes and issues that have brought us to where we are. To rediscover the truth of the Gospel without addition or subtraction and to move beyond the label of being the “American Church” and learn to see ourselves amongst the universal Body of Christ. So that the church can be the Church for all generations until the return of Christ.

Ceasing to Be Christian: A Brief, Critical Look at the Theology of Joshua Feuerstien

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By Jonathan David Faulkner

I talked in a previous article concerning Joshua Feuerstien and his wife Jessica, the popular Facebook evangelist. Addressing his often over-the-top videos and subsequent, abusive, fundamentalism and inability to question their doctrines without being told to “Move along.” The purpose of this article is to discuss what we at GHFT find to be troubling theological assertions. I do want to make it clear that we are not out to get Joshua, these articles are not meant to be attacks against him, but rather to engage his theology in such a way that opens the door for discussion and ultimately for heart change in Joshua and his followers.  It is not my desire to assert, nor would I ever, that Joshua himself is not a Christian. That is not my place to judge, God looks at the heart, I am not God and cannot judge as God does, perfectly.

However we do want to address his theology, because, as the title suggests, we find it in a lot of ways contrary to the beautiful truth of Scripture. Yes, if you listen to Josh you find him using Scriptures to back up his points about God and our country and to defend his radical views on everything from Guns to President Obama. Views that have caused him to release a video calling for Christians to attack abortionists and openly attack Starbucks for a perceived War on Christmas. Since these assertions were made in a public setting GHFT has chosen to address it in a public setting, citing Galatians 3 and Titus 2 as reasons for a public address of Feuerstien’s teachings.

 

The Gnostic Root:

It is important for us then to address what we find to be the root of Feuestien’s teachings, that is, an extreme form of Gnosticism that can so easily sneak into Protestant Evangelicalism. Feuestien seems to assert that the flesh is all evil, all the time, that one must run from the flesh and avoid all sins, the implication becoming that man, but living by the spirit can avoid all sins. Or sin no more.

The Dualism then is that Sin, which could easily be substituted for “Flesh” is bad and Spirit is good. This is Gnostic Dualsim applied to Christianity, Yes, GHFT acknowledges that sin is contrary to God’s plan for humanity, that we are to put off the things that are Earthly and put on the things that are from Christ. But like the Gnostics Joshua and Jessica preach a kind of Ascetic that seems to allow themselves to claim some sort of Earthly perfection. The reality is that we will not attain perfection, we all sin, and ranting against other peoples sins, like Obama’s, does nothing for your own spiritual walk.

 

The Small god.

It would seem then that the Feuestine’s god does not seem to be the bible at all, instead he is a very small, angry god, dependent on Starbucks cups and Republicans to achieve his plans and purposes. One could even make the assertion that the god of the Feuestine’s is American Christendom, and even then an scewed version based on Western Ultra-Fundamentalism. The idea that Christian = Republican, gun owner, church goer. GHFT has no problem being a Republican, Gun Owning church goer, but when that becomes your view of Christianity, as it seems it has for Joshua, then you have distorted the image of true religion. When you rant and rail against what you deem to be its “Destruction” one can assert it has potentially become a false idol, and if the viewpoint has not, perhaps your view of god has become such.

At GHFT we affirm the God of the bible, a God that gives grace to the humble, but is also all-powerful. We affirm the Trinity, that is, God is three in one and a Trinitarian Spirituality. Based on a Holistic study of scripture and years of Theological Training and Education in the reformed Tradition. We do not believe that one can or should limit Christianity to being the religion of the right or what have you. We believe that shows a worship of ideologies rather than the God of the universe who transcends our current western culture and desires that we be Salt and Light in that culture and context in which we daily live.

 

An Eisegesis Issue:

Eisegesis is when we read our own ideologies into scripture instead of allowing Scripture to inform our own ideologies, opinions, persuasions and convictions. An example of Eisegesis would be the misuse of passages such as Chronicles 7:14 to insist that God is going to restore America if we repent of our fleshly sinfulness. Ignoring the reference to the renewal of the Covenant between God and Israel. The Transcendent truth here is that God’s people should pray, but that does not mean God is going to restore America. There is a greater context in which a passage must be read and be considered. God’s words to Israel do not always apply to us today. Yes, prayer is important to a healthy spiritual life, but Feuerstien wants us to pray for his version of American Christianity to prevail, a type of Christianity I am increasingly wary of given the increasingly damaging effect people like Feuerstien are having on the secular view of Christians. God may let America fall by the wayside, but his believers, who are truly following after Him, they will persevere, they will be preserved.

 

Chaining the Flock 

The result of all of this is a flock chained to western Ideologies and their own small view of the great and transcendent, Triune God of the universe. Creating what Dallas Willard, in his book “The Divine Conspiracy” a “Gospel of Sin Management.” Chaining people to life of constantly trying to make sure they do not sin, or sin less and less everyday that they might become perfect. Ignoring the freedom of a deep relationship with God the father as co-heirs with the son in the Joy of the spirit. To Josh we live primarily to escape evil and become good spirits. Saying nothing of glorifying Go or seeking to achieve the desire of God by preaching the decree of God until the whole world hears. If you subscribe to Feuestine theology you are chaining yourself to a very small, angry god that can do little unless you act. God can work without you, remember that, or as Casting Crowns points out “Sometimes the best thing for us to do (with the gospel) is just get out of the way, because we are slowing it down.” Feuerstien’s logic does more to hinder the Gospel then it does to advance it.

 

No Longer Christian:

This is why God’s Heart comes down on the teachings of Joshua Feuestien as “No longer Christian.” Meaning they no longer reflect the truth and righteousness of Scripture. Preferring a Pharisaic twisting and adding on of so many requirements that the believer can barely function. As Timothy Keller points out in his commentary on Galatians, “Any addition to the Gospel causes us to “Lose the Gospel.”

 

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Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry.