Gal 1:6-9 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
Seth Barnes likes to use terms and teaching more closely associated with pop psychology than Biblical truth. His recent posts are on the necessity of vulnerability. Unfortunately, vulnerability is not a biblical term. The Bible uses terms such as meekness and humility, both of which indicate a recognition of our depravity and a proper posture before a holy God. Neither is weakness, rather they are both power under control and indicate great strength of character. Vulnerability on the other hand refers to a state of weakness and susceptibility to attack. The terms are not synonymous.
A quick search of the NASB and ESV versions of scripture reveals that the word vulnerable is nowhere to be found. The one scripture that Seth used in his 3 part series (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) is misinterpreted. He did however use a TED talk and praise Ghandi, (a Hindu), Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King as great heroes of the faith. This is the subtly of a false teacher.
We are left to ponder what happens when we substitute pop-psychology terminology for Biblical terms?
Taking excerpts from each of the three blog posts, let’s look at what Seth is teaching.
Seth says, “We have to harness the power of vulnerability. Vulnerability is the secret sauce that unlocks intimacy. It puts us in a posture to receive grace and to connect with others who need grace from us. Vulnerability sets the table for intimacy.…
The Scripture says, a humble recognition of our wicked heart before a Holy God puts us in a posture to receive grace. James 4:6, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Seth continues, “Jesus’ began his public ministry by declaring it was not the religious, but the vulnerable who would receive his ministry. Quoting Isaiah 61, he said he would bring hope to the “poor, the blind, the prisoner, and the oppressed.” (Luke 4) Preaching on the mountainside, he elaborated on the theme. It’s the “discouraged, the sorrowful, the hungry, the hated and rejected” who are candidates for grace. (Luke 6:20-22)…
Christ never used the word vulnerable. Matthew Henry’s commentary says that the poor are those who are meek and humble, truly sorry for their sin. The captives are those that Christ will loose from bonds of guilt. The blind are those he frees from the darkness of sin. These are all metaphors for sinners, not people being vulnerable to show their weaknesses. Why doesn’t Seth talk about sin? He is teaching a different gospel.
It is not the “vulnerable” but the spiritually destitute who, like Isaiah, recognize they are unworthy to stand before a Holy God because of their sin. Isaiah 6:5 “And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“You will never be able to understand God’s remedy for this world if you don’t understand the malady under which this world lives and functions. [Gen 3] may well be the most important chapter in the Bible because it explains absolutely everything about our universe and about life in that universe and all of us who live in it. It explains everything about why things are the way they are, why we are the way we are, and what God is doing in history, and why He’s doing it in terms of salvation. Genesis 3 explains the human dilemma. All the problems of the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account. I’ll say that again: all the problems in the universe. Physical problems, spiritual problems, moral problems, social problems, economic problems, political problems, all the problems in the universe have their origin in the events of this historic account.
[Gen 3] then is the foundation of any true and accurate world view. And without this foundation, every and any world view is utterly wrong. If you do not understand the origin of sin and its impact based on Genesis chapter 3, then your understanding of the world is wrong. Everything then is misunderstood. Everything is misevaluated. Everything is misread. Everything is misdiagnosed and hopelessly incurable.” source
Seth goes on,“[Christian] Leaders need to regularly touch the humanity of those who follow them. They need to lead with weakness….This is one reason that AA groups are better church than most churches.”
In his blog posts we have repeatedly seen Seth Barnes speak negatively of the church. If Christ is head of the church then we need to recognize the true church’s value for saving lost souls through the faithful preaching of the true Gospel. This is not what Seth is offering.
More from Seth, this is what he offers those under his leadership in place of Biblical truth, “Brene Brown is all the rage at Adventures. Her TED talk on vulnerability went viral… and it sure hit a responsive chord with us. Why? Because it was a paradigm-shaker and we’ve seen its power.”
The above is a TED talk from a secular perspective. We would hope that the leader of a missions organization would rely primarily on Scripture to offer us wisdom. Rom 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The GOSPEL is where the power lies.
Seth says, “We screen World Race candidates for a willingness to take a risk in order to grow. We only take one out of every seven people who begin an application with the World Race. Jesus screened his disciples this way and he screened those listening to his message as well. Speaking to the fit between his message and his listeners he said, “Don’t throw pearls before swine.” He had high standards for his disciples.”
No, Jesus took tax collectors and fisherman. He took sinners. The “fit between his message and his listeners”?? That is nonsense.
Looking at Seth’s Scripture reference, he is completely missing the point. Matt 7:6 says, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” Again from Matthew Henry on this verse, “As a rule to the disciples in preaching the gospel; not that they must not preach it to any one who were wicked and profane (Christ himself preached to publicans and sinners), but the reference is to such as they found obstinate after the gospel was preached to them, such as blasphemed it, and persecuted the preachers of it; let them not spend much time among such, for it would be lost labor, but let them turn to others”
This verse is about respecting what is holy, not about “standards” for disciples. Ironically, Christ is speaking of those such as Seth Barnes who blaspheme His Holy name by mangling His Word obstinately refusing to acknowledge their sin and the sacrifice Christ offered to redeem us.
Seth continues, “But it doesn’t get us to God’s best in today’s world. These days, we need more. We need to embrace vulnerability….This is part of the good news that Jesus preached. His path of vulnerability may be a narrow one, but it is the path leading to abundant life. It may be rare, but it is powerful. It is the power that our heroes have tapped into. Think of Gandhi and Mandela, and King. They all projected power from a place of weakness…There is a great reservoir of grace awaiting those of you who will risk trusting your brothers and sisters with your secrets…
Let’s look at that Scripture, Matt 7:14, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Salvation is by grace alone, through repentance, faith and submission to Him. It is not easy and Jesus is the only way to pass through. It is the path to ETERNAL life. Vulnerability has nothing to do with it. Where does it say we receive grace by trusting others with our secrets? This is clearly erroneous. Again, it is a different gospel.
Speaking of a “revival” Seth was a part of, “And when the tide of vulnerability that had unleashed such waves of revival at last began to ebb, there seemed to be a sacred residue in the room – a sprinkling of spiritual stardust that left us reluctant to speak, knowing that any words about life beyond those walls would be banal and fall flat.”
There was nothing about the true Gospel in any of the 3 posts. NOTHING! The words, sin, repentance, cross, Christ, redemption were all missing. There was nothing but an incorrect view of grace and a different Gospel.
Please take time to think about what Seth is teaching. He uses non-biblical terminology, misinterprets Scripture, and is leading those who follow him down the wide path toward destruction.
1 Cor 2:14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”