Why we are not part of ‘Churches Together’ and similar affiliations

Why we are not part of ‘Churches Together’ and similar affiliations

During March 2010 a number of local churches are joining together to organise a series of meetings designed to introduce non-Christians to the gospel message.  As a church we recognise the importance of sharing the teaching of Jesus Christ with all in our neighbourhood, however Baldock Baptist Church cannot support this project.

The main reason for this is that the Bible commands the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ very clearly to withdraw from all those who do not walk according to the rule of scripture: that includes those who have departed from sound doctrine, and those whose lives appear to be at variance with the standards set down in the Word[1]. Furthermore the Bible instructs us not to join with those who fail to obey this command[2]. The organisers of this mission appear to have ignored this vital aspect of the teaching of Jesus Christ and therefore the Word of God makes clear our duty to withdraw from them as disobedient to the Word. The following sets out some of the ways we believe they have done this.

They are harnessing the testimony of those whose life and walk represent a serious departure from Biblical standards.

Although whilst on earth no Christian is perfectly free from sin, God does expect us to strive to live according to His perfect standards. The Word of God is very clear in commanding all who love the Lord Jesus Christ to live lives which are distinct from the ways of the world. The ‘a passion for life’ meetings will include prominent celebrities who profess to be practising Christians. It is vital that the conduct and life of these people reflect the standards clearly taught in the Bible or the message being sent out will be a confusing one.

Sadly one of the intended celebrities works for a Sunday Newspaper, well known for its lewd gossip and glamorisation of the often less than exemplary lives of famous people. The web-content he is said to be responsible for often advertises pornography at the click of an icon. The gospel commands us as sinners to repent – and that clearly requires separation from the immoral ways of this world. Repentance also calls the sinner to recognise the Ten Commandments as being ‘the glory of God’ and requiring our obedience. The breaking of the 4th commandment ‘Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy’ is a sin against God and true gospel preaching calls the sinner to repent of their Sabbath breaking. We fail to see how any gospel work can seriously make use of a man who works for a newspaper that thrives on gossip and is at variance with the call of scripture to keep the Day of Rest ‘

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Eph 5:11,12

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isa 58:13 KJV)

Jonathan Aitkin, former MP and prison inmate, has certainly changed in his outlook on life and we welcome that fact. However, on his own website[3], he informs us he attends St Matthews church, Westminster, which he describes as an Anglo-Catholic fellowship. If he is a true Christian, he is greatly misguided in his choice of church. The Church of Rome denies the sufficiency of scripture, the sufficiency of faith in Christ’s finished atoning work alone for salvation, and teaches many other things contrary to scripture. It’s denial of Salvation by Grace alone through faith alone is a denial of the heart of the gospel message and Paul declares such to be ‘another gospel which is no gospel at all’ adding of those that promote such teaching ‘let them be accursed’[Gal 1vv8,9]. However, St Matthews Church is not just ‘Anglo-Catholic’: it also openly identifies with the ‘emergent church’ movement[4]. On their own website we read:

moot is an innovative ‘fresh expression of church’ congregation and ministry of St Matthew’s, Westminster. It aims to promote creative experimentation in worship, mission and community in our current post-modern consumerist and urban society. To these ends, moot is attempting to be an emerging and experimental ‘body of Christ’ to an emergent culture.

moot looks to the Christian call for justice, equity and balance as a means of living politically and ethically, recognising the inspiration of saints, mystics and artists through the centuries. http://www.stmw.org/pages/article.asp?Sec=2&S=621&L=1&PId=621

The teaching and stance of this church and the movement it identifies with are at variance with the Word of God in many ways and all who are linked with such a group are guilty of publicly endorsing its erroneous and ungodly ways. The website of St Matthews confirms it to be a church which denies the inerrancy and sufficiency of scripture,

Following Karl Barth, it is assumed that the Bible has limited inherency. Which means that it is the inspired Word of God but that it is written through Human Beings. Texts therefore do hold the word of God, but also human content. We therefore need to approach texts critically to work out what is of God and what is human or cultural. http://www.klisia.net/blog/scrpture%20space%20guidance.pdf

It is also promotes a form of worship which can only be described as heretical and an abomination to God with no Biblical foundation whatsoever: almost nothing is out of bounds as far as worship innovation is concerned. See the following web pages

http://www.klisia.net/SitePage/link.htm http://www.klisia.net/SitePage/partner.htm



Such an approach to worship is a serious departure from the revealed will of God as declared in His Word and radically different from the practise of our forbears who framed the great confessions following the Reformation which state:

‘But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.’

[Jeremiah 10:7;Mark 12:33;Deuteronomy 12:32;Exodus 20:4-6] [Baptist confession 1689; Westminster Confession 1647]

Jonathan Aitkin, whether he realises it or not represents a church that has seriously departed from the ‘faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 4) and to join with him in the work of the Lord would involve ourselves in disobedience to God.

Many of the churches involved in a passion for life endorse un-biblical teaching themselves either directly or by association with others that do.

Within the group of churches who have joined together to organise ‘a passion for life’ in our district are churches who themselves stand for teaching which is contrary to the Word of God and also churches who are already publicly joined with churches who deny important doctrines.

At least one church[5] is part of a ‘churches together group’ which includes churches as diverse as Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Charismatic, Salvation Army, Quakers, United reformed, Methodist, Vineyard fellowship. Some of these churches hold to doctrines which are highly unbiblical and damaging to the true message of the Word of God, and to be part of such a group involves a church in serious compromise and disobedience to the command of God, who says ‘be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…..come out from among them and be ye separate’ [2 Corinthians 6v14ff]. In other words we are not to be yoked together with those who do not believe the key doctrines of the gospel as clearly declared by scripture. Further, we read: “Mark them which cause divisions contrary to the doctrine ye have learned and avoid them “[Romans 16v17]. When Paul encountered those who were teaching a gospel of salvation by good works, he declared “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” Galatians 1v8.

Another church[6] actively endorses the so called ‘charismatic gifts’. The Bible tells us that during the New Testament age, before the scriptures were complete, the Lord ordained apostles who were uniquely inspired to superintend the writing and completion of the New Testament scriptures. Like a number of prophets in Old Testament times, these apostles were authenticated by God through the sign gifts associated with them so that all would know that their teaching carried divine authority[7]. Healing gifts, prophecy, speaking in tongues and such like belonged to the apostolic era [and even then were not central to church life] and passed from history after the apostles had finished their work and the Bible was complete. Such has been the understanding of almost all the churches until relatively recently. The so called charismatic gifts some claim today not only bear little resemblance to the sign gifts of the apostles but they represent a significant departure from the teaching of the Word of God, and undermine the authority and sufficiency and the Word of God having been written by inspired men authenticated by God through the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit they exercised. As a result many are led astray from the truth as subjective experience and sensation seeking begin to usurp the place of objective truth and reason.

The endorsement of the Alpha course

A number of the speakers and churches involved in ‘a passion for life’ publicly endorse the ‘Alpha’ course and encourage people to enrol on it.

The Alpha course in Christian basics was developed by the strongly charismatic leader of Holy Trinity Brompton – the church credited with introducing the ‘Toronto blessing to the UK’[8]. We share the opinion of those who regard this course as falling far short of what is necessary to introduce people to the Christian faith. It is doctrinally so shallow that churches of all theological convictions are willing to use it, it promotes a very light-weight view of sin, and it virtually declares what we believe about the way of salvation to be of little consequence. In his critique of Alpha, Chris Hand quotes Nicky Gumbel [9]and then adds:

“we can hold opposing and contrary views about the message of salvation but we are brothers and sisters if we have had the experience of the ‘Spirit’. This is a disastrous view to hold. On the basis of a spurious experience such as mediated at the weekend away, a person is accepted as a bona fide Christian. The fact that all that is shared in common is the experience of an unbiblical ‘altered state of consciousness’ is lost on the promoters of Alpha. On this reading half the world must be Christians! It is a faulty message.” [10]

Whilst it is a worthy aim to seek to teach all people the message of salvation, we must ensure we do not mislead people into thinking they are saved when they are not. There is a very real danger that many who conclude that they are Christians because they have completed an Alpha course are not saved and any ‘conversion’ they experienced was merely emotional and spurious.

We are not speaking here of minor differences between believers and churches: on these less significant issues the Bible urges mutual respect and love [Rom 14v5]. However, where the great doctrines of the faith are being denied we are called to stand apart from error and contend for the truth.

There are important reasons for this:

1. The Holiness of God himself

False teaching is sin. Those who make shipwreck of [the] faith are to be regarded as blasphemers. 1 Timothy 1vv19,20

Israel were told to be separate from the surrounding nations because God was Holy

And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. Lev 20:26

Jehoshaphat, a godly king of Judah once went to help Ahab, the king of Israel. Judah and Israel were really part of the original nation of Israel which became divided into two kingdoms and doubtless this was the reason Jehoshaphat was willing to join in battle with the king of Israel. However, Ahab had turned away from the Lord and promoted false religion. Jehoshaphat almost lost his life in battle, but God mercifully preserved him. However on his return to Jerusalem a prophet met him and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. 2Ch 19:2. God is jealous of His name and His truth. We show disloyalty at our peril.

2. The preservation of the truth.

The church is described as the pillar and ground of the truth 1 Tim 3v15. The people of God are to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints [Jude 4]. How can this be done if we publicly endorse those who deny the faith?

3. The protection of the genuine Christian and their families

The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God.

Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. Deuteronomy 7v25; 3,4

*[although this is a reference to the heathen tribes surrounding Israel in Old Testament times, the principle applies to all who reject the teaching of the Lord]

Do not be deceived; evil companionships corrupt good habits. 1Co 15:33 [Modern KJV]

Biblical separation unto God

Sadly in our days the biblical principles of separation unto God have been buried as churches clamber for greater success in a society which finds the holiness of God unpalatable. Many find safety in numbers and do not stop to think if the faithful declaration of God’s unchanging truth will be compromised by their ecumenical steps. There are some who recognise the danger and have reaffirmed their commitment to Biblical principles of separation. We endorse their declaration, quoted below:[11]

We affirm the duty of making clear testimony to our Faith by separating from all error and therefore from all co-operation in religious activities with those who deny any cardinal truth of the Christian Faith.1 Under the old covenant, God’s people were solemnly warned against associating with those who had seriously deviated from the Truth,2 and when they did not heed such warning they were sternly reproved, rebuked or judged.3 Under the new covenant, we are plainly told to withdraw from those who separate themselves from God’s inviolable Truth.4 It is also clear that we are to restrict fellowship – especially church, public fellowship – with those professing “evangelicals” who disregard the teaching of Scripture on separation, choosing to fraternize with those who question or repudiate Bible Truth.5 It is one of the greatest weaknesses of modern “evangelicalism” that it fails to take a separated stand from apostasy. Those representing true, conservative evangelicalism should stand together – and work together – for the Faith once delivered to the saints.6

We reject all Inter-Faith activities, even as we totally repudiate false Ecumenism which attempts to bring together those who cannot agree on the fundamentals of the Christian Faith, and Romanism which promotes an idolatry essentially and blasphemously heathen, and Modernism which violates the doctrine of the verbal and plenary inspiration of Holy Scripture, and New Evangelicalism which opts for a position of neutralism and appeasement, compromising distinctive and vital Biblical Truth.

1 Romans 16:17,18; Ephesians 5:11; Titus 3:10; 2 John 10,11 2 Exodus 23:32; 34:12,15; Joshua 23:7 3Judges 2:2; 2 Chronicles 19:2 cf. 18:1; 20:35-37; Ezra 9:1,2,14 4 Matthew 7:15; 15:14; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Galatians 1:8,9; 2:4,5,11; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 2:14-17; 18:4 5 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14,15 6 Acts 2:42; 2 Corinthians 13:8; Philippians 1:27; 3 John 5-8; Jude 3

Doubtless some will regard this short explanation of our position as unloving and divisive. Our intention is rather to express loving loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and faithfulness to His Word. Our prayer is that others will see the importance of maintaining by word and walk the pure standards of a Holy yet loving God. He who says ‘be ye holy for I am holy’ also says ‘come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’. May the Lord guide all of us into the way of truth and peace.

[1] Rom 16:17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

[2] 2Th 3:6 & 2Th 3:14 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. ……..And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

2Jn 1:10,11 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. [i.e those who join with false teachers share their guilt]

[3] I am a grateful Alpha course completer but have moved to the Anglo-Catholic St Matthews, Westminster. http://www.jonathan-aitken.com/blog/

[4] For further information on this movement see http://www.bereanbeacon.org/emergentchurch.php

[5] Longmeadow Evangelical church, Stevenage

[6] Garden City church Letchworth

[7] 2Co 12:12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Heb 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; Heb 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

[8] “The Toronto blessing, the charismatic experience characterised by hysterical laughter, bodily sensations, involuntary collapsing to the floor, convulsions and even animal noises”. Chris Hand. ‘Falling Short? the Apha course examined’ Day One publications 1998 p95

[9] See Gumbel 1997 Questions of life p148, Kingsway, Easbourne

[10] Chris Hand. ‘Falling Short? p95

[11] http://affirmation2010.wordpress.com/the-quarterly/

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