We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Friday, December 9, 2016

Personal Freedom Outreach Journal

Back in 1999 I was researching Bill Gothard and his Institute for Basic Life Principles.  I first called Christian Research Institute to see if they had any information about Gothard; they didn’t but they had me contact Midwest Christian Outreach apologetics ministry in the Chicago area.  MCO had done a lot of examining Gothard’s teachings and even met with him trying to correct his teachings. They provided me (free!) with all their material on Gothard (including copies of their journal articles) and also suggested I contact Personal Freedom Outreach apologetics ministry in the St. Louis area for their examination of Gothard.

Well, after reading journals from both these ministries, I began subscribing to them.  With PFO I ordered all the back issues!  MCO’s is a good publication, but isn’t as regular due to the other needs of their ministry.  MCO’s journals are also usually not as in-depth, nor do they have as many people writing for it.  There are several issues of the PFO Journal on-line (for various reasons) but MCO is getting all of theirs on-line.

I can’t recommend the PFO Journal highly enough.  You can get the whole set (from 1981) in pdf format on a CD for about $70.  You can get the complete set of six issues examining Beth Moore’s books for $30.

This introduction is because I am going to be citing the latest issue of the PFO Quarterly Journal, which has excellent articles exposing problematic teachings of Andy Stanley and Priscilla Shirer.  The citations I use should give you a wee bit of a taste for this journal, so enjoy — beginning from the article about Andy Stanley’s new book, by Gary E. Gilley:

To Stanley, the church is an evangelistic center in which the focus is on the “unchurched,” as he calls unbelievers.  Stanley’s goal is to attract non-Christians and retain them, even if this means putting new Christians and even unbelievers into positions of ministry and leadership.  A person can even join North Point online, without talking to anyone.  North Point has limited classroom instruction and the teaching of Scripture is consistently belittled throughout the book [Deep and Wide].

Relationships, on the other hand, especially through small groups, are dominant.  These groups, sometimes led by new Christians and apparently even unbelievers, by necessity are not primarily centered on Scripture or even Christ, as biblically understood, but on relationships.  This is hardly the model found in Acts 2:42-43.  Too bad Stanley did not choose the second chapter of Acts, rather than Acts 15, to develop his ecclesiology — or better yet the New Testament epistles which give instruction on why God has created His Church and how He wants it to function. . . .

[T]he student of biblical truth is one who does not seek knowledge for its own sake, or to stake out a position of superiority over others.  The biblical picture is that truth and theology are used by the Holy Spirit to change lives not just fill our heads.  As the Puritan William Ames defined it, “Theology is the knowledge of how to live in the presence of God.”

Deep and Wide offers nothing that has not been said before by seeker-sensitive leaders.  This philosophy of ministry which first gained traction in the 1970s via Robert Schuller and Bill Hybels has radically changed the Church in the Western world.  The unsaved consumer is now king, marketing strategy sets the direction, and pragmatism rules.  The system “works,” at least numerically, for many like Andy Stanley.  But a careful examination of the New Testament leads us to conclude that this is not God’s design for His Church. . . . 

After discussion of Andy Stanley’s claim of a “secret sauce” for church growth, Gilley exposits Biblical teaching as to God’s “secret sauce,” which includes doctrine, the Faith, Truth, and Teaching/instructing.  The Gilley quotes Kevin J. Vanhoozer: “Desire for God without doctrine is blind; doctrine without desire is empty.”  Later Gilley cites Adrian Rogers:  “It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error.  It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills.  It is not love and it is not friendship if we fail to declare the whole counsel of God.  It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. … It’s better to stand alone with the truth than to be strong with a multitude.

In his summation of his article, Gilley writes, The alternative to sound biblical theology, in which people walk in truth to the glory of God, is walking in deception to the dishonor of God.  Without clear biblical theology, discipleship is not possible.

The article by M. Kurt Goedelman is regarding Priscilla Shirer’s new book, Fervent, which is supposedly a “battle plan” for prayer.  He begins his review with this:

Near the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, the writer says, “Of making many books, there is no end” (12:12).  Today he might have written, “Of making many books on prayer, there is no end.”

A search on the website of Christian Book Distributors for resources on prayer returns a list of nearly 9,300 books — and more than 16,000 total products — available from just this one company.

Many of these books have little biblical substance.  Those that attract the most attention and record the largest sales often are the least biblically sound.  They owe their success to claims that they offer the latest and greatest insight into communicating with God, breaking spiritual traps and “strongholds” caused by the devil, overcoming and eliminating the difficulties of life, or getting the Almighty “on board” with one’s dreams and aspirations. . . .

[Shirer] tells readers that [Fervent] was a fulfillment of a prophetic word spoken to her. . . .

Shirer touts her book as one Satan doesn’t want you to read.  “At the end of the day,” Shirer tells her readers, “the enemy is going to be sorry he ever messed with you.  You’re about to become his worst nightmare a million times over. . . “

I need to break in here for a personal comment:  You can tell Shirer and Beth Moore hang out together because Moore has stated, in her “Believing God” DVD series, that we become Satan’s worst nightmare, and that he will be sorry he ever messed with us!

It appears that Shirer would have her readers believe it is up to us to activate God’s armor and give it power:  

“Through intentional, deliberate, strategic prayer, you grab hold of Jesus and of everything He’s already done on your behalf.  It’s how you tap into the power of heaven and watch it reverberate in your experiences.  It’s a key part of your offensive weaponry against a cunning foe who prowls around and watches for your weaknesses, your vulnerable places, for any opportunity to destroy you.  In prayer you gain your strength — the power to gird yourself with armor that extinguishes every weapon your enemy wields.”

Author Kris Lundgaard disagrees:

“Many people talk about the power of prayer as if our words or will could move God.  The Scriptures say the Spirit is the real power of prayer, giving life, vigor, and strength to our prayer, and making it persuasive to God.  When we can’t drag ourselves out of bed, he enables us to pray with ‘groans that words cannot express’ (Romans 8:26).”

Prayer does relate to the armor of God and to our spiritual warfare, just not in the way Shirer describes.  Pastor and author Mark Hitchcock writes:

“The significance of prayer to spiritual warfare is evident in the very first word of Ephesians 6:18.  The word ‘with’ is a connecting word.  Prayer is vitally connected to the discussion of spiritual warfare and the Christian’s armor in 6:10-17.  Our defense is not to speak to the devil or demons by binding or rebuking them, but to pray to God.  Ephesians 6:18-20 comes right on the heels of eight verses that deal with spiritual warfare and our arsenal of six pieces of armor.  We might say that after describing our spiritual battle dress or what to wear to war, Paul now tells us how to get dressed.  We get dressed for battle in an attitude of prayer.” 

After another paragraph on spiritual warfare, Goedelman then begins to address Shirer’s teachings about forgiveness; after a couple columns of citations and commentary, he writes:

[A]ccording to Shirer, extending forgiveness is “mostly” for us — a concept never stated in Scripture.  Shirer has missed the fact that biblical forgiveness is a transaction.  Repentance must be expressed and forgiveness sought.  Then forgiveness can be extended to the offending person.  As Donald Whitney observes, “biblical forgiveness is never given or required where there is no repentance.”

While Shirer, in her discourse, correctly incorporates God’s forgiveness to us as the basis and mandate for us to forgive others, she fails to understand that God’s forgiveness is conditional — based upon our repentance.  Apart from our repentance, there is no forgiveness of sin.  Divine forgiveness without repentance is Universalism — the belief that everyone with or without repentance will be saved. . . .

So, then, if we cannot extend forgiveness apart from repentance, how do we keep from being, as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “outwitted by Satan” and fall victim to “his designs”?  Whitney provides the healthy and biblical course to follow when a Christian wants to forgive, but the one who has offended refuses to seek forgiveness:

What Christians should always do, as Jesus exemplified in His prayer, is to be ready to forgive.  And then, when forgiveness is sought, forgiveness can be extended.  Yes, we ought to release our sinful bitterness and hatred whether the offender ever seeks forgiveness.  Some equate this decision with forgiveness itself.  In reality though, this is only getting ready, being willing to forgive.  Then if the offender repents, we are prepared to complete the process by saying, ‘I forgive you.’ The one who announces forgiveness where it hasn’t been sought not only discounts the importance of repentance, he also misunderstands the requirement of Scripture.  But the one who is not willing to forgive is contradicting the Scripture and, for the moment at least, is putting the reality of his salvation to the test.” . . . .

Excluding the Psalms, there are 650 prayers recorded in Scripture.  They are all worthy to be used as prayer prompters, remembering that prayer is a personal matter of the heart.  Jay Adams reminds us:

“Prayer is not a bag of techniques, not learning the right formula, possessing some magic charm, or tacking on an open-sesame type password like ‘in Jesus name.’  It is not a matter of going through proper rituals, nor agonizing before God for long periods of time or anything of the sort.  No, the essential conditions to fulfill have to do with your heart. … In essence, effective prayer is a matter of the heart.”

No matter how perfect a “battle plan” or “strategy” we outline for prayer, if our heart condition is not right, then our prayers are ineffective and wasted.  Scripture tells us what makes up the condition of a “right heart.”  We can pray effectively — or fervently — when we approach God with an obedient heart (1 John 3:22), a forgiving heart (Mark 11:25), an undoubting heart (James 1:6), a broken or contrite heart (Psalm 51:17), an undivided heart (Jeremiah 29:13), a faithful heart (John 15:7), and a yielded heart (Romans 8:26).  These seven conditions do not constitute an exhaustive list but they do provide the basics of the heart attitude and spiritual temperament of the one who desires a fervent prayer life. . . . 

[W]e are certainly grateful for any teacher or any publication that encourages believers to pray more or establish a discipline of daily prayer.  However, prayer should never be seen as an exercise in becoming Satan’s “worst nightmare a million times over.”  The Lord’s Prayer provides a more comprehensive model for prayer.  In it we learn that prayer is first of all a relationship.  We also learn that prayer is to change us as we confess our sins and bow before His glory.  We also find that it is not done to get our will done, but to submit to His will.  There are certainly great mysteries in prayer.  These mysteries are both theological and philosophical.  Prayer is our way as believers to express our total dependence on God.  We also remember that we pray because we are commanded to pray.  To the undiscerning, Priscilla Shirer and her Fervent book misses these truths while overselling and overpromising.

Well, you can see that in reviewing both books the authors of the articles provide the biblical teachings against the teachings of the authors of the books.  This is the normal process with all articles in The Quarterly Journal.  

In addition to main articles, the QJ has an editorial page, a couple pages of news updates in the religious realm, and a book review on the back page.  You couldn’t go wrong by subscribing to this publication and learning solid teaching!


Anonymous said...

Good stuff! Amazing how the Lord gave you all these valuable resources, just based on your one inquiry to combat error from Gothard.

Especially appreciated the explanation of forgiveness by Goedelman. Excellent.

Wow, what a cavalier attitude by Shirer and Moore toward Satan, that they think they can become his "worst nightmare" and make him "sorry he messed with us". Prideful!!!

I don't see in Scripture any indication God wants humans to be arrogant toward fallen angels. Christians are told to submit to God, and resist the devil, and he will flee (James 4:7).

What I do see in Scripture is that having that kind of arrogance toward the devil is an earmark of a false teacher (Jude 1:8-10)...


Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Even more than the material I gained from that one inquiry are the many many conferences we attended -- the six apologetics conferences put on by PFO, and three biblical counselors' conferences sponsored by PFO, all of which helped build my library with the numerous books purchased at these conferences! And the invitation to co-author an article on Beth Moore!

Anonymous said...

Prayer: I began praying thru the Book of Ephesians to save my marriage. People recommended all sorts of books to me but I just wanted the Bible. Every day I read thru the whole book--takes about 15 minutes to read Ephesians. I printed out the 1st chapter and kept it in my pocket. The Lord stirred me to pray through out the day, I pulled it my little print-out out and prayed thru a verse or two or the whole chapter. I'd be doing something like washing dishes and the Lord stirred me to stop, go somewhere quiet (I have a big, loud family) and pray for my husband.

It worked. But not what I thought. Those prayers changed ME. Not my spouse (tho my changed, gentle reactions to his reactions softened the whole relationship, things are so much better and there is hope.) It renewed my mind. There was spiritual warfare but it was the lies in my mind, the lies in my being, that were changed. His convicting, loving, powerful truth of the Word transformed and healed the lies, falsehoods, and strongholds in my being. His Word is all we need, we don't need books on marriage or prayer or whatever. Sometimes they are helpful. I love commentaries. I love background info on Biblical history, culture, etc. But it's His pure Word that transforms my mind, sets my sinful, wicked heart in the right direction.

I meet many in my circles dealing with problems in relationships, especially in marriage. And I share the power of praying thru His word. It's right there. We don't need to run to CBD or the Christian book store and get just the right book for our situation. We already have it, we all have Bibles, we all have several Bibles. The Holy Spirit will lead you to the right passage to pray, meditate, memorize and study. His Word is perfect and will meet our every need.

Choosing Anonymous for this post but I'm a regular poster.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Thank you for that great testimony!

Christians need to remember 2 Peter 1:3: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."

Anonymous said...


I didn't make it through your 3 paragraphs without the tears filling my eyes. Thank you for your testimony of God's power through prayer. He commands us to pray without ceasing - 1Thes.5;17. I used that this morning in SS class, as we have a focus on prayer every week.

Keep on trusting the Lord to have His way in your husband's heart. He does turn the hearts of kings....and husbands, too.

From a sister in Christ.

Martha said...

Dear sister in Christ: agree with Glen here when he said, "Thank-you for that great testimony."

I needed to read that this morning from another sister in Christ. Your testimony is a blessed encouragement to my faith in Jesus to make all things new, especially concerning my marriage as well.

May our LORD bless you and grant you His peace as you draw closer to Him through His Word. Your witness softened my heart. Thank-you, thank-you.