Leaving the World Race Early-Part 3

March 18, 2017 by missionsandmysticism

In seeking wise counsel, this Racer looks to the pastor of the local church for confirmation to leave the Race early. We pray it is helpful to those who have questions about leaving (or beginning) the Race. 

(Here are parts one and two.  There are also links provided throughout to past blog posts in which we have covered similar concerns.)

“The reason for the timing being now is this: In addition to the bad theology, bad fruit has been produced in our squad, which is a direct result of poor leadership that does not lead us closer to the Lord. The leadership on the field and in the home office has failed to protect women on the squad from guys in the group who have not treated them with respect, dignity, and basic human decency that even non-believers display…

As a result of all this drama, which is a continuation of the constant drama that has been happening during the months I’ve been on the Race, the leadership is having a special Debrief where we’re going to talk about the things that have happened and re-sign our commitment to the World Race and to each other as a squad.

I do not feel I can re-sign my commitment to this organization, knowing what I know about their theology, how the organization operates, and who it employs and puts in spiritual authority over us. I cannot commit to this leadership as a spiritual authority over me, because I see the bad fruit their teaching and example has produced, and I do not believe they encourage us to be more like Christ.

I take my commitments very seriously, so when I signed up for 11 months of the World Race I fully intended to complete it. When I signed up, I didn’t fully know what I was saying yes to. But now I know this organization, and if I had known them before I would never have committed to spend 11 months with them. Knowing what I know, I cannot in good conscience commit to any more time with them.

Since I am a Member [of the local church], I want to run this by you before deciding to leave the field. I don’t want to feel like I’m making this decision completely outside of any spiritual authority — because the organization is adamant, we are supposed to be under the spiritual authority of the leaders they have placed over us.

If you think it is a bad idea to walk away from this commitment then I will stay on the field, but with your approval I intend to withdraw from the Race. I know that if I stayed, I could endure the weeks that remain and be a light in the darkness in spite of the organization’s beliefs and the drama and gossip and poor leadership happening, and I could continue to stand for truth on the squad. But I believe the more powerful statement is to stand for the truth by refusing to continue to submit to this authority, especially in light of their mandate that we re-sign our commitment to them.

Below is a list of the specific reasons I do not feel comfortable continuing with the World Race under the spiritual authority of Gary Black and ultimately Seth Barnes:

  • Leadership does not walk in holiness and does not encourage others to do so(drinking, swearing (calling people **, using language profusely, telling us we don’t know ** about **), worldly responses to spiritual matters, misuse of “everything is permissible”); in fact leadership has often labelled attempts at holiness as “a spirit of self-righteousness” and “a spirit of religion,” bad legalistic / Pharasaical ideologies that are not becoming of true sons and daughters of the King
  • Mention of Jesus (let alone focus) is not present in our discussions, nor in our worship. Neither Christ nor the cross is ever mentioned by our leadership; the focus of our discussions is on the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit and never on the saving work of Christ on the cross
  • Leadership taught during our training that “the reason man exists is simply to be loved”. This goes against 400 years of established church doctrine that addresses the question “what is the chief end of man?” with the answer “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” This viewpoint was presented to leadership, but they rejected it with their “new theology” (which they themselves acknowledge is a new way of thinking that the Lord has allegedly revealed to them as truth). 
  • Focus on mysticism and “higher levels” of spirituality; spirit of division between denominations that labels Baptists as religious and Pharasaical and exalts charismatic traditions above non-charismatic traditions. Those who speak in tongues, claim to have spiritual discernment, or operate with “miraculous” gifts are considered “more spiritual” than those with other giftings
  • Repeated worldly man-centric view of the universe, producing fruit accordingly. The focus of our leadership is very much on Self and not on Christ. Our squad has wrestled increasingly with selfishness and self-focus, more and more every month. Sin is not treated seriously; grace is always extended above discipline, at the expense of the victim. Leadership’s attitude toward grace and “everything is permissible” diminishes Christ’s work on the cross and leaves the members of our squad basking in “freedom” that is actually still a chain to their sin
  • Our squad has had no training on evangelism from AIM, has not discussed the gospel even one time in eight months, and has not been encouraged by leadership to present the gospel
  • No expectation for Bible reading during 11 months on the field:When the squad mentor was informed that squad members were rarely reading the Word and a suggestion was made to set an expectation that people spend time in the Word every day, the squad mentor responded that each individual could choose what they wanted to do, and that the individual was welcome to spread that idea around her own team but that no such expectation would be set for the squad. Previously on the race, both of the squad leaders had informed various members of the squad that you could spend the entire 11 months on the Race and never open a Bible even once (in the spirit of, it’s up to YOU to read the Bible if you want to; we’re not going to force anything or provide accountability for it). Additionally, two squad members were told they were reading their Bible too much and that they should spend less time in the Word and more time “looking at the face of Jesus” by literally staring into space to imagine His glory.
  • During training, we were taught on leadership’s “personal belief” during a mandatory training that “God did not give us free will just to fill Hell,”that our God of love and forgiveness and mercy would surely not allow more people to be in Hell than in Heaven because if He did, then Hell would win. This goes in direct contrast to Jesus’ teaching that the way is narrow that leads to life and few find it.
  • During training, another leader encouraged us to pray for the dead,as he himself did, ever since his oldest son committed suicide. He said he absolutely believed that people still have a choice after they die, and that our intercessory prayers can save them, and that Paul said to pray for the dead that they might believe. When challenged about what Jesus and the Word said on the matter, he said he did not want to discuss, but that we were welcome to do as we felt led.
  • When discussing during training about our mission on the race, leadership informed us that “it’s not about getting people saved, it’s about bringing the Kingdom here now. We bring the Kingdom by praying over people to heal them, casting out demons, speaking in tongues, and planting churches.”
  • Numerous false teachings with “new / alternative” applications of Scripture(e.g., when Jesus says “depart from me, I never knew you,” He was telling the leaders of the church to go find God and then return so they can go to Heaven; that because people are born in God’s image they are born good and not sinful; that Hell is not a literal place but that there are different levels and might be referring to states of depression; that Hell is not a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth; that “God loves sin” which caused confusion on our squad, justifying with “it’s not in the Bible that God hates sin”; also just bad interpretations of passages, like “with the measure you use it will be measured to you” being used to refer to pressing in to God (instead of giving), and teaching the fruit of the Spirit as a successive bell curve where you can’t get to Joy without first gaining Love, and no Peace without Joy, whereas scripture clearly discusses them working together in unity).”

 

Thankfully, the home church affirmed this Racer’s concerns.  The pastor wisely counseled that Jesus Christ is the head of the church and He has given authority to pastors, elders and overseers of the local church (that meet His qualifications Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Tim 3:1-7) as they preach His Word and care for the souls of their flock guided by the Word.  

Para-church organizations may have “leadership” authority for a season if one chooses to submit, but as we have seen, that in the case of AIM, this is not wise. AIM has proven that they misuse and misinterpret God’s Word.  The Bible is clear that false teachers will face judgement for leading people astray with their false doctrine. 

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.  And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Peter 2:1-3

 

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