A Different Gospel

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.”

Spiritual stardust…?

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.”


Repentance-an unbiblical view

The Westminster Shorter Catechism has an excellent definition of repentance in Question 87:

“Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.”

What Do I Need to Repent For?

In this recent blog post by Seth Barnes, though the title would lend itself to the sharing of the Gospel, alas there is no Gospel message .  The very simple answer to the question posed in the title is of course “sin”.  As sinners separated from a Holy God we need to repent of our sin.  Unfortunately, sin is no where to be found amidst the verbiage.

“Some people are born bounding out of bed, but most of the rest of us have this daily struggle. I think God gives it to us in part as a reminder of what he is looking for in the spirit. We are asleep and we need to awaken.

Jesus writes the church, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore…and repent.””

Seth curiously left out this part of Rev 3:3 out and did not use the Scripture reference. “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

Cross reference: 2 Tim 1:13- “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

This verse is saying remember and obey the written Word!  The result of this dead faith is the destruction of all the unrepentant at His return.  Judgement.  We have yet to see AIM speak of the coming judgement which could be a reason this verse was cut short.

“I knew he wanted me to share this passage at the Awakening, but then, because I believe that leaders need to model what they want from their followers, his action plan made me squirm.”

As well it should, except that Seth’s action plan is not what Jesus actually said to the church at Sardis.  If Seth had been hearing from God the message he gave at Awakening would have been the Gospel. (see our post,The Awakening“)

“Many of us were slumbering in the spirit. Jesus wanted us to wake up, so he wanted us to repent. And if he wanted us to repent, then he specifically wanted me to repent. People do what they see. As babies, we learn to mimic the smiles of our parents. Our mirror neurons cause us to grow into our humanity in the reflection of example. Leaders need to model behavior.”


“If our deeds were not complete, then that was true for me too. If we had a reputation for being alive, but were in some way dead, then I could start the accountability with myself.”

Accountability?  Christ is telling them to repent and get saved as judgement is coming!! He is speaking of a dead, unrepentant, and unregenerate church that he is coming to destroy if they don’t submit to Him as Lord.

“Ugh. So in the morning before the Awakening, walking on my driveway, I wrestled this out. “OK, God, you have my attention, what should I repent for?”  I needed to repent. And he began to unravel it for me. Not all at once. Not as though I were taking dictation. But in pieces the thoughts came to me. Sixteen years earlier, He’d told me that a fatherless generation was growing up and that I should minister out of a fathering spirit. But too often since then, I’ve defaulted to positional authority and stewardship.”

Basically, Seth is interested in influencing more kids and having them call him “Papa”.  Is this why he needs to repent?

“For 16 years I’ve felt awkward in the role. I’ve wanted to defer to those for whom fathering came more naturally. But what people wanted from me was the fathering hat more than the boss hat.  “OK, God, I get it.”

The conversation on my driveway continued as I listened for God’s still small voice. “And it’s not just one father – it’s a group of them. This tribe will never be born if the elders don’t step upif the fathers don’t become elders. Young people are jaded. All they’ve seen are leaders who act out of self-interest. Who will show them a better way?””

This is absolutely frightening.  Seth has just undermined fathers, grandfathers, pastors, etc.  He will show them a better way. While “seeming” humble he is saying God is telling him to be their spiritual father.  This is reminiscent of cult language…“the tribe will never be born”…

“”It’s true. I have looked for that too. We do have much to repent for.” I paused and reluctantly asked, “OK, while we’re on a roll, Lord, is there anything else on your heart?”I was confused.

I’m collapsing time here as I play the conversation back to you. I’m not sure when it came to me, but the thought occurred, “the very thing God asked me to do is the thing I need to repent for.””

Again, what exactly is he repenting for? 

“In 2007, while jogging on a Swazi road, the Lord had said, “Scale this for a movement.” I heard it, and knowing he was talking about the World Race, received it. And like Geppetto in the shoe shop, I’ve been diligently working on the assignment ever since. But now God was saying “repent.” Being a human being is confusing. You think you’re doing the right thing, and then you get a little perspective and you go, “whoops.””

Stay in the Word of God alone and you will never be confused.  It is clear, sufficient and authoritative.

 “Because so many people wanted to go on the World Race, I thought I had to scale at the speed of demand. We could only accept one in nine people showing interest in the Race. What was I to do? Obviously we needed people who thought more systemically than I did.

And so, we brought in people from outside. People who had skills and great intentions. Good people. Diligent people. People who slowly began to steer God’s dream off course. People I had to ask to leave. People who still may be nursing the wounds of our conversations.”

 He is “repenting” that he did not have full control and all the authority over these kids!

“The results hurt a lot of people. Who was responsible for their pain? Ultimately me. Growth hurts. We all make mistakes, but leaders have to own the consequences of their actions.”

 This certainly seems to be false humility. He has taken a position of authority, intentionally usurping the role of parents in the lives of these young people.  The endless praise of the kids that call him “Daddy” is very disturbing.

 “Last Thursday night, standing in front of the Awakening crowd, including my own board of directors, I shared all this. Because, much as I hated being up there, I only know one way to lead and ever since Adventures started in ’89, I’ve been messing up and repenting.”

 See our post on the Awakening for more info.

“It’s what God wants.  Then during Saturday’s session, God showed us he wasn’t finished. Jesse Green, a Racer alum, began to speak to the crowd about what else he wanted. And watching her, God was continuing to speak to me.

If you were there, you may have thought, “Well, this certainly isn’t on my schedule.” It wasn’t on mine, either. But it seemed that God wanted to do something with us to restore his body to health. We, the body of Christ, had been limping and hiding for a long time. It was time to get on the divine operating table.”

There is no mention of sin or of Christ’s sacrifice, no Gospel yet again.

“I knew that if anyone was exhausted by ten years of messy labor to birth the dream of God, it was Clint. I drug him up onstage. And before long, the crowd was laying hands on the two of us and we were weeping and snotting. If I could have crawled off the stage, I would have. Double ugh. Kneeling there in that heavy place, someone passed me a tissue and I don’t think I’ve ever needed one more.

I guess it was what God had in mind, because the fruit afterwards was good. A number of those who I had hurt came to me over the next few days and said things like, “I’m sorry too. I was hurt. I didn’t even know that I was bitter, but I want to walk in freedom. Will you forgive me?””

Interesting…others needed to repent to Seth.

“Those exchanges are sweet. We are all flawed humans and we do better when we own our status. I don’t know if we’ll ever birth the dream of God. But if we do, we’ll do it together.”

 Sin? Christ? Salvation? Grace? Faith?

There was one scripture verse in this post, that was not even referenced so that it could be easily seen that important words were intentionally left out.  This is not biblical repentance, nor accurate handling of God’s Word.

Missing the Gospel

“We have to deal with men who will be either lost or saved, and they certainly,

will not be saved by erroneous doctrine.

We have to deal with God, whose servants we are, and

He will not be honored by our delivering falsehoods;

neither will he give us a reward, and say,

“Well done, good and faithful servant,

thou hast mangled the gospel as judiciously as any man that ever lived before thee.” Spurgeon

Since it’s inception in 2000, Seth Barnes has written hundreds of entries on his blog.  In spite of this readers are hard pressed to find a clear statement of the Gospel message anywhere in his posts.  Though his testimony sounds legitimate, the Gospel is elusive in all of his subsequent writings. 

The spread of the Gospel should be the heart and joy of any true mission organization and it’s absence at AIM speaks volumes.  Based on his blog, Seth doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of the mercy God shows sinners, the necessity for Christ’s sacrifice, and the triumph of the resurrection. God is not acknowledged as holy and worthy of praise.  There is no mention of gratitude for the wrath and eternal punishment from which we have been saved and for the eternal life we have been given based on no merit of our own. He says very little of any lives being changed by this Gospel.

Consider these blog posts by Seth that would seem provide a perfect opportunity for a Gospel presentation.

What does it mean to be born again?

Seth writes, “So it is for all of us who would move from a life pattern of meeting personal, lower-order physical needs to a life patterned after a different set of spirit-based principles. It is never easy or fast. After all, our brains are hard-wired according to the pattern of physical need-meeting. Neural pathways reinforced by years of habitual hand-to-mouth living must be rewired. Awareness of the possibility alone does not change behavior.”

The Gospel is simply not that confusing. “[Being born again] is simply a term that describes the necessity that a person receive a new birth, a new life, a new nature, a new disposition, a new character, a new mind from God and that person makes no contribution to that…This analogy is very instructive, very simple, very basic; really should not be misunderstood at all. To enter the kingdom of God, whatever it is you may have accomplished morally, religiously, ritually, ceremonially in terms of human goodness is immaterial because you can’t contribute anything to your birth spiritually, any more than you contributed to your birth physically…Let me tell you what you can do. You can do what any sinner can do, you can ask…you can ask God in His mercy and in His grace to give you life. And mystery of mysteries, Jesus said, “Him that comes to Me, I will never turn away.” “Seek and you shall find. Ask and it shall be given. Knock, the door will be opened.” That’s the mystery of it all. source

Acts 20:29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them

Searching for God This is a sad post devoid of any hope and complete lack of recognition or mention of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Orphan spirit?? There is no use of the words sin, repentance, redemption, cross, or JESUS for that matter.  Instead Seth says,

“The antidote to an orphan spirit is to see over and over again that your needs will in fact be met, and so begin to change the neural wiring in your brain”

Poor in Spirit In this post, the term is grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted by Seth.

A right description would be, “The poor in spirit are those who recognize their total spiritual destitution and their complete dependence on God. They perceive that there are no saving resources in themselves and that they can only beg for mercy and grace. They know they have no spiritual merit, and they know they can earn no spiritual reward. Their pride is gone, their self-assurance is gone, and they stand empty-handed before God.” source

 Concerning the lack of the Gospel at AIM another blogger writes,

“Even more disturbing is the idea that AIM sees no distinction between their panentheistic, God-in-everything view and the pagan God-in-everything view found in the countries, presumably, where AIM is trying to reach people with the good news of the gospel.  

One has to wonder, then, what AIM’s “gospel message” is.  For instance: Do they explain that all men are born wretched and depraved? (no “divine inner spark”)…Do they teach about the pre-eminent holiness of God?…Do they tell of the exclusive nature of Christ? …Do they explain that without Christ’s atoning death, there is no union with God?”  source