seth barnes

The Ancient Lie of Eden Retold

“I have often loved darkness, observed lying vanities, forsaken thy given mercies,
trampled underfoot thy beloved Son, mocked thy Providences, flattered thee with my lips, broken thy covenant. 
It is of thy compassion that I am not consumed. Lead me to repentance, and save me from despair.  Let me come to thee renouncing, condemning and loathing myself, but hoping in the grace that flows even to the chief of sinners. 
At the cross may I contemplate the evil of sin, and abhor it, look on Him whom I pierced as one slain for me.  May I never despise His death by fearing for the efficacy for my salvation.  And whatever cross I am required to bear, let me see Him carrying a heavier…Thus may my soul rest in Thee, O immortal and transcendent One, revealed as thou art in the Person and work of thy Son, the Friend of Sinners.”
(Valley of Vision, pg 39)

This is a good, clear example of how the concept of our sin is downplayed and ignored by Seth Barnes, the visionary of Adventures in Missions.

“God had to call me out from the comfort of a world I could control before I could hear his call to walk in the mystery of sonship….I could have missed the plot and seen myself as a victim. But God was taking me through a process as old as mankind. It began with Adam being called out – out of the garden.”

 This would be laughable if it wasn’t so scary! Adam was not “called out” of the Garden to walk in the “mystery of sonship”. Seth is twisting Scripture. This lack of recognition of sin cannot equal saving faith. (John 1:8-10)
Adam was BANNED from the garden of Eden because of SIN and rebellion against the clear commandments of God. Adam was driven out, not called out!  Let’s look at Scripture since Seth did not share any to back up his interpretation.
“Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Gen 3:22-24


In God’s great mercy, Adam did not physically die immediately (although he did ultimately), however he was banned from the Tree of Life.  This is God’s graciousness, preventing Adam from living physically in a corrupt body for all eternity.  Even before this  in Gen 3:15 Christ is promised to us as the One who would “bruise [Satan’s] head” defeating the curse incurred in the Garden. What a different story than Seth’s version.

“God’s love is a great comfort. But perhaps it’s not supposed to be as comforting as some would like to believe.  …God’s love is not a theological blanket that smothers everything else the Bible says about how He relates to us. That myopic, feel-good approach to God’s love often ignores its wider implications. Specifically, it overlooks the fact that God’s love carries an inherent condemnation.” “…there was a greater purpose behind God’s creative work. He did not create the world as the main attraction, but as the theater where His redemptive plan would take place and His love would be put on display. Even the corrupting blight of sin on God’s creation is integral to the display of His love:His redeeming love would forever remain hidden without sinners to redeem. source  source

One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin.

“Nevertheless, I (Jesus) tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;  concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11

The Holy Spirit can not be at work in a place where there is no mention of sin.

To downplay sin is to downplay the need for the Cross,

“for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“But God demonstrates His love for us in this:  While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“…and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

“Repent then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” Acts 3:19

and is a lie as old as the Serpent himself,

“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Gen 3:13

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” 2 Cor 11:3

The rest of his post is just nonsense because he began with faulty theology. Seth continues,

“This tension begins with God the Father; it’s a gift that he gives to his children. God is an inside guy who lives in the wild places outside. Inside his kingdom is life everlasting. There’s a perpetual party going on just inside the gates.
He has extended us an invitation to join him inside. It’s a place of celebration and comfort (check out Matt. 22). We get to hang out with the poor in spirit there – those shunted to the side by a society that is moving too fast.”

Why is this so difficult to understand?   A good teacher of the Word of God makes it clear for everyone.  This is nonsensical.
Seth used one Scripture in this post.  Did he even use Matt 22 properly?
This passage is comforting to those who admit and acknowledge their sin and need for a Savior, but it is not good news for those who avoid repentance.  It is the parable of the wedding feast; a feast that will be for the redeemed.   The poor in spirit are those who are contrite over their sin and recognize their desperate need for a savior not those who are “shunted to the side by a society that is moving too fast.”

“And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. (The Jews) Again he sent other servants, (God’s patience and mercy) saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.” ’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.  The king was angry, (the end of God’s patience to Jews who rejected His offer of salvation) and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. (judgment, AD 70 on Jerusalem) Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.(free offer of the Gospel to all Gentiles) And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. (Christ’s robe of righteousness, Is 61:10) And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. (no excuse) Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (hell) For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Rev 22:17)

“How many are willing enough to receive gospel blessings, but they are still at emnity with God and have no delight in the only Begotten Son. Such will dare to use the forms of godliness, and yet their hearts are full of rebellion against the Lord.  The wedding garment represents anything which is indispensable to a Christian, but which the unrenewed heart is not willing to accept, anything which the Lord ordains to be a necessary attendant of salvation, against which selfishness rebels…Have I anyone here in such a condition of heart, that while he has been sinning by making a false profession, and knows it, yet he sullenly refuses to confess his fault?
Yield thee, man! Yield at once.  Fall at the King’s feet at once. Even if you are not a hypocrite, if you have any suspicion that you are, fall down and say, “My King, make me sincere; I submit myself to thy will, and am ready to put on the wedding badge; if there is any method by which I can honour thy Son…let me wear His colours and be known by all men to be truly a lover of the Great Prince.”

 How does Seth’s post compare?
Young Racers, this organization is not offering you anything to save your soul much less those you will go to serve.  The Gospel is the best news!  Lay down the burden Seth is placing on you and take the easy yoke of Christ in His precious, complete and finished payment for your sin.  




Heresy and a false Gospel-Seth’s connection to the G42 Academy

Racers are encouraged to come to the G42 school in Spain run by Seth Barnes’ “spiritual father” Andrew Shearman.  A potential candidate says,”G42 Leadership Academy in Mijas, Spain is affiliated with Adventures in Missions, and the trip I was on, the World Race, has become a feeder program of sorts to G42.” We have previously written about G42 here and here.

Seth says of G42,I love what this place stands for. Andrew injects the vision of a hope-filled God and a soon-coming kingdom into everyone who attends the school. The place is alive with possibilities..We’ll be teaching the students on discipling, leadership, church planting, and spiritual entrepreneurship this week… If you’ve ever wanted to discover more of what God is doing in the earth and how to join him, I recommend coming here and taking a few classes. It’s an awesome place.”

So what about this academy is worthy of such lofty praise?

The following excerpts taken from a young racer’s blog tell us a bit about the teaching at G42.  Note that there is no definition of the Gospel, nor use of any Scripture to support what is being taught.  The God that is spoken of is not the God portrayed in Scripture, therefore is an idol of their own making.

Our comments are intended to shine a light on the teaching of this organization not on the writer of the blog post, though what this young woman has been led to believe is indeed concerning.

“A little bit of what I have been learning at G42:

Here’s a bit of stark honesty for you: for the majority of my Christian life I did not believe the gospel was actually good news….Somehow, in my “adult” life, I had managed to encounter Jesus on multiple occasions and therefore could no longer deny His existence… I also felt as though what people told me about God and Jesus didn’t always match up to the love and peace I had experienced when I encountered Him

On numerous occasions, whether overtly or subtly- this was the message about God that was being conveyed.

I will use an analogy Andrew Shearman used in class that I think illustrates it pretty well. Imagine you are in love with someone and are about to get married and these are his/ her vows:

I love you, (your name). I know that you are my true love. I am happy and I am grateful that you came into my life, that where others have spent their entire lives looking for the one, I have found you. And now that I have found you, I shall never let you go. I promise you, that I shall hold you and cherish you and give you my heart, that I shall support you and care for you. Faithfully, I shall always stand steadfast at your side with your hand in mine, regardless of what life would bring to us. I take you now as my wife/husband, and I shall remain so for the rest of my life….but if you don’t love me back and do everything that I say, I will kill you.

This may seem a bit extreme, but is it not essentially the message being conveyed about God? God loves us so much and has forgiven us BUT, if we mess up and don’t do a good enough job being a “good” Christian, he will send us into the depths of hell.”

The “message” that has been conveyed to this young woman is NOT the gospel of Jesus Christ, rather, one of works righteousness. Scripture clearly states, 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not of your own doing; it is a gift from God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Eph 2: 8-9 

“…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:6-8

It is not our job to be a “good” Christian to avoid hell. We don’t need to worry about “messing up”, because as believers we have been ransomed by the blood of Christ. 

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” Eph 1:7. 

“…knowing that you were ransomed from the foolish ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ…” 1 Peter 1:18-19

The “gospel” that Andrew Shearman uses in his analogy is a false gospel.  The blogger then continues…

 “This was the good news I was supposed to be sharing?

I knew in my head that the gospel should be good news, but as many times as I tried, the head knowledge was not being translated into heart knowledge.

It is confusing.”

It certainly is confusing when you are dealing with a false gospel.  A message of works righteousness is most definitely NOT good news worthy of sharing. 

“After my time here, I can finally say that I do in my heart of hearts believe that the gospel is not only good news, but bigger and better than we were ever told.

But it’s kind of like this… I can tell you all about my friend Bree:

I can tell you how great she is, how trustworthy, brilliant and funny she is.

Or I can tell you that she sucks, that she is wrathful and angry and will do whatever she can to make your life miserable.

But the truth is that neither of these descriptions really matter to you until you actually spend time with her and learn it for yourself.

I believe that in a way it is the same with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. No matter what any one says about Him, ultimately it will come down to you and what you think of Him when you get to know Him.”

“So… I am not going to explain how I came to this realization, partly because it would be a novel and partly because I’m not sure it would help. What is much more beneficial is for you to invite the Holy Spirit to show you God’s character and reveal to you whether or not it is actually good news.”

This is heartbreaking because the true gospel is bigger and better than we can believe but the message the G42 academy is teaching is not the gospel.  It is a lie.

First, what WE think of God has no bearing on anything.  It matters how HE sees us.  Second, the way to know God’s character is through the study of His WORD, the inspired, inerrant, all sufficient Holy Scripture.  To invite the Holy Spirit to subjectively “teach” one God’s character is an open invitation to deception.  We must always be mindful that the enemy disguises himself as an angel of light. 

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Tim 4:3-4

The role of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin and point us to our need for Jesus as our Savior.  Christ says,

“And when He (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me” John 16:8

The young woman goes on,

“And, if it is anything like my experience, He will show you that life is more exciting, adventurous, and joyful than you ever thought possible (truly). That life with Him is the exact opposite of boring. That who you are with Him is beautiful, powerful, and ok. And you will be brought back to life knowing you are so, so loved.

Extra-biblical revelation is not necessary to know we are so, so loved.  God has already revealed this to us in the sacrifice of His son. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Continuing, “So, if this is something that has been on your mind recently, here is my advice: God is bigger than you questioning if He is actually good. He can handle it, so tell Him exactly how you feel about it and know that He won’t love you any less.
Ask Him to reveal to you whether or not it is actually good news. I think you may just find it is bigger and better than you ever thought or believed.”

Again, we don’t need to ask God to reveal whether or not the gospel is good news.  He has made it abundantly clear in His word.  As illustrated in the below verses, the Bible clearly says that the JUST penalty for our sin and rebellion against Him is hell.  Because of His LOVE He has provided for our redemption.

“For the wages of sin is death, (Justice) but the free gift of God (Love) is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom 3:23

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left…“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels …And these will go away into eternal punishment, (Justice) but the righteous into eternal life. (Love) ” Matt 25:31-46

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life (Love) ; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.(Justice)” John 3:36

In order to understand the gospel as the truly good news that it is we must understand our sin and our just punishment.  God loved us so much that Christ came to satisfy God’s wrath. God’s character has many facets, much like a diamond.  Love is one facet but Justice, Mercy, Patience, Holiness and Wisdom are others.  We cannot define Him as loving without recognizing the other traits that are equally present. 

The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 4, asks,”But isn’t God merciful?

The answer is, “God is certainly merciful, but He is also just. His justice demands that sin, committed against His supreme majesty, be punished with the supreme penalty-eternal punishment of body and soul.” (Ex 20:6; 34:6, 7; Ps 103:8, 9;Ex 20:5; 34:7; Deut 7:9-11; Ps 5:4-6; Heb 10:30, 31;Mt 25:45, 46)

Kevin DeYoung in his book, The Good News we Almost Forgot, explains this answer by saying,

“Divine love without divine wrath is meaningless.  When we minimize God’s justice, we do not exalt His mercy, we undermine it.  God’s mercy exhibits its full power and sweetness when we see it not merely as a general goodwill to all people, but as the means by which God’s people are rescued, in Christ, from their just wrath and punishment.”

The young world racer ends her blog post by writing, “Here is a teaching from a past intern…that I think gives a great illustration about the revelation I have had about our Father’s love:


And here lies the problem…if this describes her “revelation” and also what is being taught at the G42 Academy, then it is clearly NOT from God.  We ARE guilty.  We have rebelled against Him and broken His law.  Until we acknowledge that we can not be saved.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick;
who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind” Jer 17:9-10

There is no scripture to support “loving ourselves more” or “making ourselves proud”.  These are man-centered lies from the enemy.  God desires godly sorrow and confession of our sin so that He might extend to us the bounty of His marvelous grace. 

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:9-10

Seth Barnes happily recommends and partners with Andrew Shearman’s G42 Academy. They are not teaching truth, they are promoting lies.

For those unfamiliar, this has all the markings of the heresy called Pelagianism.

Pelagius taught that a person is born with the same purity and moral abilities as Adam was when he was first made by God. He taught that people can choose God by the exercise of their free will and rational thought. God’s grace, then, is merely an aid to help individuals come to Him.

Pelagianism fails to understand man’s nature and weakness. We are by nature sinners (Eph. 2:3; Psalm 51:5). We all have sinned because sin entered the world through Adam:

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

Furthermore, Romans 3:10-12 says, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God;  All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.”

Therefore, we are unable to do God’s will (Rom. 6:16; 7:14). We were affected by the fall of Adam–contrary to what Pelagius taught. Pelagius has been condemned (as heresy) by many councils throughout church history.

What a satisfaction it will be in that day to have had a part in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have shared in winning the victory for our Lord! Happy are those who entrust themselves to this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with Him doing their part in His name and by His strength! How unhappy are those on the side of evil! It is a losing side, and it is a matter in which to lose is to lose and to be lost forever. On whose side are you? Spurgeon





Racer Testimony-Part 2-Redefining Grace

A Biblical definition of GRACE needs to be clarified before we look at what Seth and AIM teach.

“The word ‘grace’ thus comes to express the thought of God acting in spontaneous goodness to save sinners: God loving the unlovely, making covenant with them, pardoning their sins, accepting their persons, revealing Himself to them, moving them to response, leading them ultimately into full knowledge and enjoyment of Himself, and overcoming all obstacles to the fulfillment of this purpose that at each stage arise. Grace is election-love plus covenant-love, a free choice issuing in a sovereign work. Grace saves from sin and all evil; grace brings ungodly men to true happiness in the knowledge of their Maker. This is the concept of grace with which the New Testament writers work.” J.I. Packer

Romans 5 is all about God’s grace toward repentant sinners, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God….”

The Racer’s testimony from Training Camp continues… grace is part of the culture at AIM, however, based on other faulty theology taught we must ask is it a Biblical definition? and what are the repercussions of an unbiblical teaching?
“Beginning at training camp, World Race participants are repeatedly told that AIM is grounded in a culture of grace and honor, and that in order to succeed in the WR environment, one must pursue these things at all costs. In the context of the World Race, one is to “show grace” by recognizing differences in the perspectives, personalities and beliefs of other team members and then accepting and validating these differences in a number of ways, such as:
       Offering positive and constructive feedback to other team members
       Seeking “words of knowledge” from God and then sharing those impressions with other team members
       Addressing and resolving conflicts between team members to prevent greater division within the team
       Giving up individual rights and desires for the good of the team
       Agreeing to disagree on theological or doxological matters for the purpose of maintaining unity among team members
       Overlooking petty issues and dissimilarities among team members
       Minimizing the real dangers of sin by accepting the fact that “life is messy”
       Affirming other team members by “speaking life” over one another
Not wanting to cause division or be labeled as someone who is unwilling to show grace to others, the overwhelming majority of Racers will begin adopting and practicing this “culture of grace.” However, if a Racer does chose to vocalize certain concerns about the beliefs and practices of other participants or the leadership of AIM, their team members and superiors will likely view him or her as one who lacks grace. Even if there is not a direct reprimand for raising questions or concerns, the individual will likely be shamed in subtle ways for not completely “buying into” the World Race culture.
For World Racers, the concept of grace is widely viewed and understood within the bounds of community. Essentially, grace is something that Racers ought to extend to those around them and to themselves, for the purposes of maintaining harmony and dissolving personal feelings of guilt or shame.
Unfortunately, what is not emphasized on the World Race is God’s saving grace that leads to faith in Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross, grace that is received and experienced only through God’s direct intervention in one’s life.”

A few comments, it is notable that it doesn’t seem that anyone pulls out a Bible to test concerns instead, supposed impressions and “words from God” are used.  They are expected to affirm and validate, even when their God given conscience may be warning them to test. Scripture is the only valid and objective means we are to use, it is why God gave us His “external Word”. This is not encouraged.

Let’s see what AIM’s leader, Seth Barnes, has to say about grace, in Searching for a place of grace, he says,

“God himself gave us ten rules upon which to organize our lives and multiple books of the Bible to show us the specific ways in which we should live. But Jesus, knowing we’re terrible rule-keepers, has a better idea. He wants to help us make a paradigm shift away from the old covenant and toward a new way of living…”

10 rules to organize our lives by??  Scripture says,

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) 

The law condemns us, it doesn’t organize our life.  Grace is the only way we are justified (Eph 2:8-9), however, we are proven genuinely saved by our obedience.

I John 2:5-6 says, “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Rom 6:16

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22

Seth continues,

“As I reflect on my upbringing in the church and in missions and I think about all the complicated situations I was in that needed grace, it’s amazing how graceless many of the communities I was in were. When people messed up, they were kicked out.”

Seth’s idea of grace is overlooking sin. This is reiterated in the Racer’s testimony above… “Minimizing the real dangers of sin by accepting the fact that “life is messy”.

A church is mandated by Christ in Matt 18 to punish unrepentant sinners, Matt 18:17, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Christ wants His church pure, “…so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Phil 1:10-11

“You have to appreciate the role of rules and then you have to be willing to break them when grace is more right than the rules…I want to live in a place where rules are respected, but grace is normal. For 25 years I’ve been fighting to create a place like that at Adventures…It’s the glistening white surface on the pearl of great price that Jesus described. “

Grace has been defined here as love and acceptance with no holy standards.  Sin is minimized and the “pearl of great price” is undefined.  Here is what Jesus actually said about His laws and the pearl in Matthew 13:41-46,

“…The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. …Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

The pearl is a picture of salvation, hidden, but once revealed by God’s grace, it is worth giving up everything for. Law breakers, unjustified by Christ’s atoning death through faith and repentance, will be thrown into hell.  Seth says the opposite, his definition of the priceless pearl is a life free from rules.  Seth is not sowing good seed…in the preceding verses 37-39 we read,

“He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.”

In this world of Adventures that Seth is “fighting to create”, “grace” trumps obedience, sin with no repentance is just fine and it is more loving and gracious to overlook sin.  Contrast this with King David who was very aware of the  unmerited favor given to him, an unworthy sinner.

“Be gracious to me, O God,
according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:1-4)

Note how sins are marginalized and called “flaws”,

“So, it’s about identity and insecurity. I see so many insecure people living under the weight of their all-too obvious flaws and I know that there is an answer. People make peace with their flaws all the time – why not be one?…When the spotlight is on your flaws, you can’t. So to get to where you can breathe again, you have to somehow escape that place of condemnation.

Unfortunately, no Biblical answer to how to escape the condemnation of sin is given by Seth.  Rom 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” 

He goes on…“To be able to breathe again, you need to find a community where you can be affirmed and even celebrated.”
Sin, the Cross, the sacrifice, the mercy, and the grace of a Holy God are all missing.  The Gospel that speaks of our ultimate forgiveness and the reason why Christians can  overlook personal offenses and forgive each other 70 times 7 is missing. 
Seth’s idea of grace is not grounded in any Biblical definition and so proves worthless and eternally fatal.


The World Race Parents Guide

A careful reading of this guide is necessary to discern exactly what Adventures in Missions values. The World Race parents guide is intended to for parents to understand exactly what the World Race is all about.    After reading it, we have two main concerns.  1.  The pure sweet Gospel of Christ is not at the heart of their “mission”.  2.  Intentional distancing of family and the faith “learned from childhood” (2 Tim 3) is   encouraged.
 Keep this verse in mind as you read on.
 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” Eph 4:4-7, 13-14
We are called to one, true faith and as we mature in that faith we should mature in our ability to discern these deceitful schemes of the devil.
As a caveat, we understand that it is good and necessary for young people to leave home, to get married, for a job, etc. It is biblical for a couple to leave and cleave and/or to separate financial responsibilities, etc.(Gen 2:24) However, this is very different than abandoning the family of your youth and discovering a “new” faith.
The parents’ guide offers this insight into what AIM’s schemes are:
We practice radical discipleship, and this involves a process…Our young people
struggle with feelings of being illegitimate adults because there is no rite
of passage. The only option they feel they’re left with is rebellion that
leads to a tearing away from their parents. That tearing away may take
years to mend and heal. The World Race offers a healthy option in the
process of initiation.
It struck us that the initiation process intended to prepare young people for an 11 month missions trip neglects to mention Christ or winning souls to Him.  Missions is NOT about making legitimate adults and this self-centered focus is alarming.
Rebellion being the “only option” for young people denied a “right of passage” into adulthood is absurd. Parents, Seth is saying you fell short in raising your children and adequately preparing them for adulthood.
We expect Racers will go through the first three to four stages on the
World Race, and the final two to three as they return home and on into
their continuing life journey.
Everything starts with a call to leave the old security and structure and lean into the challenge of moving into the unknown. They are asked to leave their homes, and the comfort of current close relationships… Their mission is the same as Abraham’s: “get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1).
Seth insists this “mission” is required.  Is he correct? It hardly seems necessary to note that this was a specific call to Abraham, through whom God would build a nation set apart to be His people.  His call does not apply to all believers.  There is no Scripture that commands this and Seth’s use of this passage as a proof text for his idea is a mishandling of Scripture. 
His entire premise, that this call of Abraham is the reason parents need to let their children go, is using a “descriptive” passage of the Old Testament to be a “prescriptive” command for our lives. 
Abraham was living in a pagan and idolatrous family  (Josh 24:2) when he was chosen by God to be the man through whom He would build the nation of Israel.  Through Abraham’s lineage God’s Son, Jesus Christ would ultimately come.  Clearly, this call was not one that applies to all of us.


We are called to leave the old pattern of worldly, sinful living when we come to Christ (2 Cor 5:17). This is the only calling that is true for all who will come to Christ in faith, and it does not mean we are all called to leave our family and the faith that is genuine. Rather, these are to be considered a blessing from the Lord to embrace not abandon. Nowhere in Scripture are children instructed to abandon the family and the faith taught by their parents.

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:5-7
Each person needs to have a faith that is their own, having come in repentance to a merciful Savior, but they are called to embrace “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) taught by parents.  They are not to abandon that faith for “new” ideas offered in its place.
As Paul exhorts Timothy,  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ” 2 Tim 3:14-17
This moving from the old leads into a season of insecurity and questioning. They can no longer rely on someone else’s belief systems or experiences. In order to make their faith their own they must be willing to embark on a treacherous journey of faith toward God. It is a transition and, although scary and painful, it is absolutely necessary.
The transition from a childlike faith to a true saving faith does involve forgoing reliance on someone else’s personal faith and submission to Christ. But, parents encourage this by example and sharing the Gospel, teaching their children to acknowledge a personal recognition of sin. This is how each person will be adopted as children of God and justified before Him.  We will all stand before the Judge alone and we individually need to be wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness. The legacy of faith taught in Christian homes should be seen as invaluable to bring young adults to saving faith.
Brokenness leads them to find faith molded out of their own experiences and creates a new dependence upon God. It’s a nerve-racking time to swing from one security net to the other. In the end, this new dependence and faith in God will serve them on the World Race and for the rest of their lives. They will find themselves saying yes when God calls them to things previous generations have been afraid to embrace.
Repentance leads them to faith. Where is Christ in any of this? Parents, he is mocking you as being afraid to embrace what he is going to offer your kids.
In this time of true dependency upon God something incredible begins to happen. God starts answering their prayers in ways they have never experienced before. He actually seems to challenge them to believe and ask for more; they begin to believe for and ultimately see the miraculous. Doing greater works talked about in John 14:12 becomes their goal…
The “greater works” does not mean greater in power.  It means greater in extent meaning we are fulfilling the Great Commission to share the Gospel to the world, (Christ’s earthly ministry was limited to Israel) making disciples empowered by a life submitted to Christ and filled by the Spirit.  It does not mean performing signs and wonders which can also be mimicked by Satan.
While God is meeting them at the point of renewed faith they hear a whisper of God’s plan for their lives. Perhaps in this stage, they will sense God imparting a specific focus or calling. The goal of this time is to create an environment for God to speak about ministry. It’s a time of rediscovery that could lead them into areas that might be unexpected or even unrelated to their education. Much of this rediscovery is done near the end of the World Race and into their first several months home.
Still nothing of Christ or the Bible for that matter.
The World Race is not an all-encompassing experience. After the conclusion of their journey, we begin to see clarity to the calling. We begin to see real-world applications. As they begin to lay out the plan they are sensing from God, there will be a confirming sense of God’s presence apparent to those around them. This continues to be a time of discovery, so we as a World Race staff are working on post-Race options that will give better direction to calling and confirmation.
Racers need to be fully released and fully empowered by the Lord. Scary? Yes, but we believe it is the most successful and healthy way to go through the process.
Why does Seth keep using the word scary? Maybe scary is not the right word…maybe it is unsettling and unnecessary.  Hence the feeling that there is something wrong here.
One of the foundations of our discipleship model is that every Racer would break dependency on everything but the presence of God in their lives. The journey away from the familiar is imperative to this goal: they must journey away from the guidance of family, the security of friends, and the predictability of their everyday lives. They must learn to rely on their own pursuit of the things of God.Even if they’ve been taught good worldviews and theologies, they need to move beyond the spoon-feeding into new and deeper ways of thinking.
Even if they have been taught good theology?  Your faithful teaching of God’s Word to your child is termed spoon-feeding?  Seth is going to give your kids HIS newer, deeper way of thinking and it will not be the faith taught by our Lord Jesus and His apostles.
Throughout the World Race, each participant will be expected to learn the discipline of listening prayer.If God truly speaks and gives us the ability to discern his voice, then a life of listening to the Spirit of God on all occasions and for every purpose is the best life possible. Everything we do is rooted in the lifestyle practice of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is a new concept to most of the Racers, but has life-changing results.
This is a perfect example of Seth conforming these kids to HIS theology.  For a man that does not exalt Christ anywhere in his writings, is he really the one you want teaching your kids how to hear the voice of God?  This is a mystical practice associated with Eastern religions and mystics.  It is not biblical.  Seth wrote the book they are expected to read.
Here is more information, “Centering prayer (listening prayer) is an unbiblical and dangerous practice.  It can put a person in an altered state of consciousness and open him up to a spiritual connection that is not in harmony with Scripture. Instead, we are to seek God in prayers that are non-repetitious, with a focus on God’s word and truth, with an active mind seeking to find the true and living God through the revelation of the Scripture and communion with his son Jesus. In short, avoid centering prayer and avoid whatever church promotes it.” 
We emphasize listening prayer. We believe God wants to communicate with us daily in a personal way. We ask, listen, and obey: asking God for guidance, listening for His response, and obeying Him to the best of our ability.
You’ve given your sons and daughters the best years of your life; you’ve been there and provided for them. Because of this, you may feel entitled to some things from them in return. Truthfully, one of the most helpful things you can do now is to give them the space they need to find their own identity and faith.
Their own faith?  There is only one.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed…” Jude 3
If you have brought your children up to fear the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to His gracious care as our Redeemer, this is NOT the faith that they will be taught from this organization.  They are asking you to release them to their teaching and to abandon the faith of their youth.  This is not biblical.  Please read the testimonies we’ve shared in other blog posts and also the other areas we have pointed out concern about the thoughts towards parents.
“The focus of the World Race must remain on making it the best discipleship experience we can for the Racers — including helping them step into their own identity as adults.”
Missions is not about making adults, it is about sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ. 
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

1 Cor 2:2


Cult Criticism-Conformity and Control

(Note the original title to Seth’s article in the hyperlink, he changed the post title from “a Ridiculous Criticism”)

In his blog post Seth Barnes writes,  “Have you ever been unfairly criticized? Once, because one of our mission teams went on a one-month media fast, the rumor circulated among some parents that AIM is a cult… Our objective at AIM is to thrust over-protected young people out into the world to formulate their own world view and collide with their destiny. It’s actually the opposite of what cults do as they seek conformity and control.”

The formulation of the young people’s worldview, however, is intentionally shaped in part by Seth’s own writings that are required or “highly suggested” reading. (We have shared concerns about other books recommended here)

Concerned Missionaries write, “one of the girls in the group (a World Race team) gave me a book written by Seth Barnes, the founder of AIM, called Kingdom Journeys, and I can see how it would appeal to young people, because it’s written in a very personal way, that meets their felt needs; I can see how they can relate to it and trust a guy that is so personable. But even though it talks about his own personal journey—there is no reference to his conversion. And when he uses Scripture—it’s like how Rick Warren does in his books, there is no Scripture reference, but a vague alluding to a Scripture verse—so someone can say, “I remember something about that in the Bible” but he seems to use it to validate his own position about something that he’s talking about, not explaining the meaning of the verse from a biblical perspective. The girls also had a book he wrote on listening prayer* they were supposed to go through daily…

Seth continues,

“Thinking about the criticism, I wanted to blog about it. But a staff member had a more prudent perspective, “It’s not worth your time,” he said. He was right; it’s a lesson I’ve been learning for a while now. In life if you’re going to ever do anything significant, then you’re going to have critics. The right thing to do is to honor them.”

Seth chose to dishonor parents, criticizing them for “ridiculous” rumors and ultimately deciding they were “not worth his time”.

He diffused the charge of leading a cult by deflecting the issue.

He goes on,”If you aspire to change the status quo, you’re going to have a target painted on your back; it’s the price of leadership. If you grow in your influence as a leader, the target just gets bigger.”

However, the ability to defend yourself against such a serious charge is also expected.

This is an interesting comment posted to this exact article…
“I know this is old news, but I was in the group that was subjected to the media fast. From within, the biggest problem was that it was forced upon us with no choice, it was during December, and it was only enforced because a smaller % of people on the trip were spending too much time connected to home that they were neglecting their duties/ job at hand.
My biggest issue with TWR and AIM overall is that questions regarding doctrine, practices, and overall “command structure” were mostly stifled and led to a “dismantling” of previous beliefs only to leave me trying to put the pieces back together after returning home.
In other words, many people involved didn’t practice what they preached, and I now have a sour taste for the organization. Sorry, but true.” (Seth responded to this comment with another deflection)
A media fast forced on them, with no choice?  That contradicts this statement in the FAQ’s responding the the question, “What if my parents have concerns?”, they respond, “This is your Race. You are an adult and we treat you that way.”

Note this testimonial from a former racer titled “I recently got out of what was basically a cult”.  Please be warned that the writer uses coarse language throughout.  However, her concerns are worth taking note.

“It starts before you even apply. The main form of communication about this trip is a site where participants post blogs from the field. It’s actually required to do so once per week. The people writing these have already bought into the romanticized ideas and skewed theology, but the organization really censors the blogs, and the ones that get promoted are the cool adventure stories. Training- A couple months before leaving, all participants go through ten days of training camp. I gained no practical knowledge here for life in the field. It was mostly just indoctrination. We lived in tents, used bucket showers, and sat through 8+ hours a day of them preaching a weird combination of bad theology and pop psychology at us. Not harmless stuff either. They preyed on the fact that most of the people there had partied their brain cells away in college. They convinced fairly normal, healthy people that they were in codependent relationships, had “soul ties” to ex-lovers, and needed to go through the organization’s prescribed method of cutting any ties that remotely resembled these things. They manipulated the faith of many participants to get them to end healthy relationships. … after hearing it day after day, it began to sink in, and made me doubt the healthiest relationship I had or have ever had in my life. They also made us participate in ridiculous physical challenges that would only be useful if Rambo was a missionary. These challenges served only to make everyone feel like “part of the club”. Despite all this and more, I still thought I could ignore their attempts at brainwashing and still do humanitarian work without drinking the Kool aid. I was wrong.”
“Cutting ties” with healthy relationships, indoctrination, manipulating faith.  Other testimonies we have shared sound much the same. 
This site has a list of some characteristics of a cult we thought were interesting.  Though they are not all true of AIM, many seem to line up with other testimonies we have shared.

How are they kept in the cult?

  1. Dependence
    1. People often want to stay because the cult meets their psychological, intellectual, and spiritual needs.
  2. Isolation
    1. Outside contacts are reduced and more and more of the life of the member is built around the cult.
    2. It then becomes very easy to control and shape the member.
  3. Cognitive Reconstruction (Brainwashing):
    1. Once the person is indoctrinated, their thinking processes are reconstructed to be consistent with the cult and to be submissive to its leaders.
    2. This facilitates control by the cult leader(s).
  4. Substitution

    1. The Cult and cult leaders often take the place of mother, father, priest, teacher, and healer.
    2. Often the member takes on the characteristics of a dependent child seeking to win the approval of the leader and or group.
  5. Indebtedness
    1. The member becomes indebted to the group emotionally, financially, etc.

Christ’s Birth, Death and Resurrection…ignored

“Study Him in His pre-incarnate glory, before He took upon Himself your nature! Think of the mighty love that drew Him from His throne to die upon the cross! Admire Him as He conquers all the powers of hell! See Him risen, crowned, glorified! Bow before Him as the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Mighty God, for only in this way will your love for Him be what it should.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Why wouldn’t the leader and visionary of a “Christian” mission organization intentionally and joyfully write about the most important events we celebrate as Christians, Christ’s birth, death and resurrection? As Christ’s redeemed, we celebrate how Christ provided a way for us to be reconciled to God if we trust in His sacrifice for our sins to justify us through faith and repentance. 

Below is a list of the articles Seth Barnes, Executive Director of AIM,wrote the weeks of Easter and Christmas for the last few years.  Sometimes what is missing provides a strong argument from silence as to what someone believes or… doesn’t.

2016 Easter (3/27)5 Steps to Recovering from Broken Trust (3/24/2016)

There is nothing about Easter in this post.

2015 ChristmasMerry Christmas from My Family (12/22/2015)and Intentionality Day (12/26/2015)

Not one word about Christ’s birth.

2015 Easter (4/5)Resolving Conflict: How to Apply Matthew 18 (3/29/2015)

No word about Christ’s sacrifice or resurrection and a complete misinterpretation of Matt 18 using The Message bible.

2014 ChristmasMerry Christmas from the Barnes (12/24/2014)

“All of us are so thankful this Christmas season that Jesus came to earth and put on skin. Living in this world can seem overwhelming – it’s comforting to know that he knows how we feel.”

Missing the reason all together.

2014 Easter (4/20)Fighting a Terrorist on My Sister’s Flight (4/15/2014)


2013 Christmas Getting in the Christmas spirit (12/23/2013)

“It’s Christmas, a time to remember what Jesus accomplished by coming to earth as a baby. We talk about “getting in the Christmas spirit.” What exactly does that mean? The spirit of gift-giving? The spirit of spending time with family? …One of the best presents we can get this Christmas is to recover those parts of ourselves that others love most.”

That is the most he spoke of Christ…recover ourselves? What?

2013 Easter (3/31)University apologizes & reinstates student (3/26/2013)


2012 ChristmasMerry Christmas! Here are some gifts for you (12/22/2012)

This is all about donating to Adventures, nothing about Christ 

Forgiveness as an act of self-love (12/26/2012)

Nothing about Christmas.

2012 Easter (4/8)We need a scapegoat (4/6/2012)

sounds promising…

” Every year, as described in Leviticus 16, they designated a certain goat to be the “scapegoat” that took on their shortcomings and inadequaciesEvery year your shortcomings pile up before you. How many people do you know carrying around their shortcomings like a big, overstuffed pack? Like my friend, they live in a shame-filled land and need a release – a scapegoat of some sort. On Good Friday, we inheritors of the Jewish tradition mark the transferring of our inadequacies to the ultimate scapegoat, Jesus Christ. It was a horrible and heroic act, an act predated by hundreds of years of Jewish practice. It’s a practice validated by modern psychology and our own experience. It buys us freedom. I can’t imagine living any other way but free. I’m so thankful that my scapegoat is not a product of artifice or my own victim status, but a construct thought up and executed by God himself so that I wouldn’t be separated from him.”

Did Christ suffer, die and take on the wrath of God for our inadequacies! What is his definition of “freedom”? “Validated by psychology”? “Inheritors of Jewish tradition”? Strange terms used. Let’s understand a better more Biblical explanation.

“God Himself imputes our sins to Him: “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”, “He made him to be sin.” And as the substitute for our guilt, bearing our sin upon His shoulders, represented by the cross, we see the great Scapegoat led away by the appointed officers of justice.

Beloved, can you feel assured that He carried your sin? As you look at the cross upon His shoulders, does it represent your sin? There is one way by which you can tell whether He carried your sin or not. Have you laid your hand upon His head, confessed your sin, and trusted in Him? Then your sin no longer lies on you; it has all been transferred by blessed imputation to Christ, and He bears it on His shoulder as a load heavier than the cross.

Do not allow this picture to disappear until you have rejoiced in your own deliverance and bowed in adoring wonder before the Redeemer upon whom your iniquities were laid.” source

2011 ChristmasChristmas & your dysfunctional family (12/22/2011)

Strategies to enjoy Christmas 

Loving broken people (12/24/2011)

Advice to share your struggles…nothing about Christ’s birth 

Barnes Christmas 2011 (12/26/2011)


2011 Easter (4/24)Anthony is resurrected this Easter! (4/24/2011)

Scant mention of Christ, but much about the death of a young boy instead 

The cost of bringing freedom (4/22/2011)

nothing again

We have gone back 5 years so far…Years worth of avoiding Christ on our faith’s most precious celebrations and remembrances…  Why would that be?

“As a help to high thoughts of Christ, remember the estimation that Christ has beyond the skies, where things are measured by the right standard. 

Think how God esteems the Only Begotten, His unspeakable gift to us. 

Consider what the angels think of Him, as they count it their highest honor to veil their faces at His feet.

Consider what the blood-washed think of Him, as day without night they sing His well-deserved praises. 

High thoughts of Christ will enable us to act consistently in our relationship with Him.  The more loftily we see Christ enthroned, and the more lowly we are when bowing before the foot of the throne, the more truly shall we be prepared to act our part toward Him.” (Spurgeon)


update: Christmas 2016-while Seth finally mentions Christ and uses the word incarnation…there is still missing so much of the true reason to celebrate Christmas, much is mishandled.  

Seth says, “We love the Christmas season because of the incarnation. But when you’re born again, it’s Christmas wherever you go. Jesus puts you on like a glove and touches people. It’s the magic of incarnation all over again, the second coming of Christ.”

This is bordering on blasphemous…we are NOT in any way equal to the glory of the incarnation, nor are we to be called the second coming of Christ.  We are left here as humble servants to proclaim Christ as Lord until HE comes for His bride, the church.

The glory of the incarnation is that Christ laid aside His divine prerogative to humble Himself as a servant to sinful mankind, that any who would repent and trust in Him would be adopted as sons. 

Seth offers bits of truth, but never speaks of why Christ had to humble Himself as a baby and then die.  It is the MOST amazing act and he minimizes it to be about us again…

“And we’re his kids – the ones he’s coming for. If you’ve ever felt alone in life, this isn’t just good news, it’s unbelievably fantastic news. “

it is not about us, it is about HIM. “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. ” 2 Cor 4:5

He says,”Maybe the Gospel would seem more like good news if we understood that God is a father who wants his family back.”

Seem like? It is AMAZING news! If we understand how wretched (Rom 3:12) we are before a Holy God, we understand how minimalist this statement is. “But the LORD of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness.”Isaiah 5:16

The Bible could not be clearer that we are loved and He does not wish any to perish, (2 Pet 3:9), however, Jesus makes clear that some will, “…I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5

God IS love, but God does not accept or chose everyone to be in His eternal family just because we are created in His image, sad and lonely.  This is a man-centered gospel, which means it is not the Gospel.  Let’s not forget what is said directly after John 3:16.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:16-21

Belief means more than intellectual assent.  It is a submission to Christ as Lord and a willingness to turn from sin and to Him as Savior. Seth is not proclaiming this Good News. 

Seth says, “Sometimes we can reduce Christianity to a “pray the prayer and go to church” religion. It’s so much more.”  We 100% agree with this statement!  We do not agree with what he concludes is “much more”. God is not in a panic, He has offered us a rescue plan and is patiently waiting for us to grab hold of it, there will be an end to His patience though. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” Heb 9:27.

We praise Him for the incarnation because it is the only way we could be offered eternal life. 










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.”


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