Saturday, March 22, 2008

The New Anti-Christ Advocates

1 John 2:19 ~ "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
Normally I reserved this space to take a slightly different approach in discussing the condition of the church. My more Bible study oriented material can be found at The Dunamis Word 2. With that said however, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do a little teaching on the Resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, because it and the complete Biblical record are under more scrutiny and flat out attacks today than seemingly ever before.
The resurrection of Jesus is arguably the most debated and discussed topic in history. In fact, the resurrection is the centerpiece of Christianity. Without it, Jesus becomes nothing more than a man and in fact the most deceitful man that ever lived on the face of the Earth. Paul too understood this and said to the Corinthian church in about AD55:
I Cor. 15:17-19 ~ "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."
For those who don’t already know, there is a new round of form and textual criticism has been levied against the church through books and publications from individuals and educators such as Microbiologist Richard Dawkins who in his book 'The God Delusion' claims supremacy of manking and materialism over God because, in his world, God does not exist. Therefore, according to Dawkins, the Bible is little more than a collection of pious fictions and is irrelevent to the plight of mankind. Dawkins is at odds with all religion but especially the Christian religion and dogma.

Richard Carrier who in his book ‘The Empty Tomb’ argues that "the earliest Christians probably believed Jesus had received a new body in the resurrection, and that stories of his old body disappearing from its tomb were developed later." He also argues it is less likely but still possible the original body of Jesus was misplaced or stolen.
There are others such as reported atheist Robert Price who is the Chair Of Theological Studies at Johnnie Coleman Theological Seminary, and Fellow of the Jesus Seminar. Has also, in books, such as ‘The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man’, ‘Deconstructing Jesus’ and ‘Beyond Born Again: On Putting Away Childish Things,’ has consistently challenged Biblical literalism and has argued for a more skeptical and humanistic approach to Christianity. He has also helped popularize the Gnostic tradition and has questioned the idea of a historical Jesus. Among atheists and agnostics his books and publications are very popular.

There continues to be a growing list of other atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and so called free-thinkers, promoting a continued rise in ant-Christ and anti-Biblical sentiments.
Even some "supposedly" Christian scholars such as fundamentalist Bart D. Ehrman who is currently a confirmed and "happy agnostic" and the author of 'Misquoting Jesus' (Click Here For A Summary Critique) and 'Orthodox Corruption Of Scripture' , have gone off the deep end into fantasy and sensationalism. Ehrman is also the Religious Studies Professor at UNC Chapel Hill. Professor Ehrman has concentrated on various aspects of Walter Bauer's thesis that Christianity was always diversified or at odds with itself. Ehrman is often considered a pioneer in connecting the history of the early church to textual variants within biblical manuscripts and in coining such terms as "Proto-orthodox Christianity." Professor Ehrman recently received much press and accolades from atheists with claims that the bible is unreliable and full of as many as 200,000 material errors called variants. What he fails to admit is that his number represents less than 5% of the Biblical text and most of the variants that he claims are a result of spelling and translation errors. Beyond that the rest of the supposed variants primarily deal with changes that had to be made to clarify meaning of the text, such as changing pronouns like "he and they" to proper nouns like "Jesus and The Disciples". In short when all things are considered there is no change in any essential doctrine that the Bible sets forth and certainly no change in any mainline Christian beliefs.

Then finally there are the near religiously insane such as Fr. John Dominic Crossan Co- founder of the Jesus Seminar who maintains the Gospels were never intended to be taken literally by their authors and the Body of Jesus was probably eaten by dogs ('Search For Jesus' ABC June 26th 2000) and possibly even drug through the streets.
These men and others have rejected the faith, claiming that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, and that the scriptures are erroneous and contradictory, and because of their weakness, continue to postulate ridiculous fantasies with no basis in actual events, facts, or history.
The aim of the enemy through them is to create doubt against the clear and overwhelming evidence for the historicity of the Jesus of the Bible and the resurrection account which confirms that only Jesus has power over life, death and sin.
II Timothy 4:4 ~ "And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables"
It is interesting to note that these men have done this because of the foolishness of their hearts. It is crucial that the Christian is able to know not only what he or she believes, but also why he or she believes it.

Romans 1:21~ "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened"
Because of the danger of abundant error, ignorance can not be an excuse for the serious follower of Jesus. I have written The Historical Fact Of The Resurrected Jesus In this article I will set forth some of the primary reasons why we as Christians can rest assured that our savior lives and that he rose on the third day as he said he would some 2000 years ago. The anti-Christ advocate looses EVERY battle and looses the war. I read the end of the book.

Heb. 10:35 ~ "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward."
Blessed!

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Friday, March 7, 2008

Naked & Ashamed

In recent months I have received a number of emails questioning a particular allegation of sexual abuse that is probably one of the worse cases that I have heard about in association with my church, the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. Memphis, TN.
Please be assured that I knew NONE of the individuals or the story until it broke and was made public.

The case involves the former Pastor Sherman Allen of The Shiloh Institutional Church Of God In Christ and former member 32 year old Davina Kelley who is one of a number of women claiming sexual assalt, rape and abuse at the hands of Pastor Allen. The whole story came to light when Ms. Kelly filed a lawsuit against, Pastor Allen, The Church Of God In Christ of Memphis, TN. And certain unnamed persons of the Church Of God In Christ.

You may view the complete story which has been well documented by the Dallas Times Observer. In summary, the story alleges that the former Pastor of the Shiloh, Sherman Allen, who enjoyed relationship and fellowship with many of the more prominent Ministers and Bishops within the Church Of God In Christ, was on a sexual rampage for at least 20 years. During this same time Pastor Allen is said to have sexually and physically abused at least 20 women, by inappropriately touching them, paddling, raping and even sodomizing them and is accused of causing the miscarriage of at least one married woman.

Note Of Special Interest: Pastor Allen and his congregation came from a spiritist foundation and supposedly joined the Church Of God In Christ some 20 years ago. He has since produced what he calls "evidence" that he was NEVER a part of the Church Of God In Christ nor consequently subject to its rules and regulations. One is left questioning whether he really felt that way or whether this is a trick that he somehow hopes helps his argument against his alleged criminal activities.
The questions I have received revolve around administrative procedure as it pertains to pastors and certain leaders questioning whether The Church Of God In Christ could have been more aggressive in handling the original complaint which was proportedly known and heard among certain Bishops and leaders.

Although I love my church, this is not meant to be a Church Of God In Christ apologetic. Comments across the spectrum are welcome as we place the added dimensions on this case and others that will soon arise. I will save my judgement on all issues until the end of this blog, and in a future writing I will deal more extensively with clergy sexual abuse that according to current statistics is rising every year throught every denomination and organized church. However, I felt that it is in the publics best interest to disclose certain procedural information in order to assist public understanding of the process of pastoral and church discipline within the church.

Under Article VIII – Church Discipline, there are 4 processes and options for trials specified within the Church Of God In Christ Constitution. Although I will only deal with the first two, the categories outlined are as follows:

  • Trial Of The Local Church
  • Trials Of Local Pastors
  • Trials Of Jurisdictional Officers
  • Trial Of All Bishops
Section A: The Trial Of The Local Church

The offences for which a CHURCH may be tried are:

  • Persistently violating the provisions of the Charter, Constitution and Rules, Laws and regulations of the COGIC, or it’s Articles of Faith.
  • Sustaining or supporting a Pastor who teaches or practices doctrines contrary or repugnant to the Articles Of Faith of the COGIC.
  • Sanctioning immoral practices of members and failing or refusing to take steps as prescribed by the Constitution and By-laws of the church for trial of members charged with the commission of the foregoing offences.
Any member believing that any of the enumerated offences have taken place may file charges against the church.


The procedures for such a trial are as follows:
  • The original charge must be filed in the Office of the Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of which the church is a part, or with which it is affiliated.
  • Copies thereof shall be filed with the Clerk or Secretary of the Local church.
  • Copy thereof shall be filed in the office of the General Secretary.
  • The Clerk of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction shall submit the charge to the Jurisdictional Bishop, who shall appoint an Investigating Cmte. of not less than three (3) nor more than five(5) members to examine the facts and ascertain whether there is reasonable grounds for having the church brought to trial.
The Investigating Cmte. shall report its findings and recommendations to the Jurisdictional Bishop. If the Investigating Cmte. determines that there is not merit to charge and recommends that the charge be dismissed, the Jurisdictional bishop shall thereupon dismiss the charge and send copies of the letter of order of dismissal to the principal parties.

If, however, the Investigating Cmte. finds and determines that the church should be tried, it shall submit its recommendations to the Jurisdictional Bishop, who shall appoint and ecclesiastical Council consisting of five (5) Pastors of the Jurisdiction to determine the merits of the complaint. Said council shall give written notice to all interested parties and to the General Secretary of the time and place of the hearing at least twenty (20) days prior to the time the Ecclesiastical council sets down cause for the trial.

The parties shall have the right to be represented by Counsel, who shall be members of the Church Of God In Christ, but said Counsel may be advised by non-members of the Church.

The majority decision of the Ecclesiastical Council shall be necessary to sustain the charges.

In the event the charges are not sustained, the complaint shall be dismissed. But if charges are sustained the Council shall render its judgement or decision as follows:
  • It may order the church to be placed on Probation or
  • It may order or recommend that the church be given an opportunity to repent of it’s evil ways and agree to conform to the government and faith of the church, recognize the Constitutional authorities of the Church, and specifically refrain from committing, in the future, any of the acts embraced in the charges; or
  • It may order that the Church be reorganized; or
  • It may order that the church be disorganized; or
  • It may order that the Pastor be suspended or removed from office; or
  • It may take such other orders or decisions as it may determine to be in the best interest of the COGIC.

The Jurisdictional Bishop shall execute the orders and decrees of the Ecclesiastical Council.

If and in the event a church is disorganized, its real property, real and personal, shall pass to the Trustees of the ecclesiastical Assembly and the officers of said church, or Trustees thereof, who have the legal right to convey title, shall execute a Deed of Conveyance wherein legal title to said property shall be vested in the Trustees of the ecclesiastical Assembly, in trust for the use and benefit of the members of the COGIC in the ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the church; but said Trustees shall not dispose of said property except by and with the written consent of the Jurisdictional Bishop and Trustees of the General Church.

Section B: Trials Of Pastors Of Local Churches

A Pastor may be tried for the commission of the following offences, to wit:

  • Repeated failure to abide by the laws, rules and regulations of the COGIC;
  • Misfeasances, malfeasance or nonfeasance in office
  • Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude in a Court Of Law;
  • Espousing doctrines repugnant to the Articles Of Faith of the COGIC;
  • Personal misconduct;
  • Misappropriation or misuse of funds of the Church;
  • Conduct unbecoming of a Minister of the Gospel.

The procedure for the trial of a local Pastors shall be as follows:

When the MAJORITY OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COGIC have documented evidence that a Pastor of a local church has committed any or all of the offences enumerated herein above, they may file charges against such Pastor specifically setting out the acts and things complained of.

  • The original charge must be filed in the Office of the Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of which the church and Pastor are a part of, or with which they are affiliated.
  • Copies thereof shall be filed in the office of the General Secretary of the COGIC at its national Headquarters in Memphis, TN.
  • The Clerk of the Assembly of said Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction shall submit the charges to the Jurisdictional Bishop, who shall appoint an Investigating Cmte. of not less than three (3) nor more than five(5) members to examine the facts and ascertain whether there is reasonable grounds for having the Pastor brought to trial.
  • The Investigating Cmte. shall report its findings and recommendations to the Jurisdictional Bishop, and if it reports that the charges are without merit the trial shall be dismissed by the Jurisdictional Bishop, and notice of dismissal shall be sent to all interested parties including the General Secretary.

If the Investigating Cmte. finds and determines that the Pastor should be tried, it shall submit its recommendations to the Jurisdictional Bishop, who shall refer the case to the Elder’s Council of the respective ecclesiastical Jurisdiction and the Secretary of the Elders Council shall give written notices to all principal parties and a copy of said notices shall also be filed in the office of the General Secretary at the National Headquarters, Memphis, TN. And said notices shall given at least twenty (20) days prior to the time the Elder’s Council sets down cause for the trial.

The parties shall have the right to be represented by Counsel, who shall be members of the Church Of God In Christ, but said Counsel may be advised by non-members of the Church.

Decisions of the members of the Elders Council by a majority vote shall be necessary to sustain the charges and find the Pastor guilty of committing the alleged offenses.

In the event the charges are not sustained, the complaint shall be dismissed. But if the charges are sustained, it shall render its decision or enter a Decree as follows:

  • It may order the Pastor be placed on Probation; or
  • It may suspend the Pastor for a definite period of time; or
  • It may remove him from office and declare the pulpit vacant; or
  • It may render such other decisions or decrees as justice may demand or as it may determine to be in the best interest of the COGIC.

In the event a Pastor is dissatisfied with the decision or the decree of the Jurisdictional Elders Council, he may appeal to the General Council by filing notice of appeal within thirty (30) days from the final decision of the Elders Council of the respective Jurisdiction.

The General Council shall review the case and render its decision by majority vote of the delegates and members present and voting.

The Jurisdictional Bishop shall execute the orders and decrees of the General Council.


What Happened In This Case?


At least this much remains a mystery to me. Pastor Allen's accusers placed a case before his leadership in 1989 or 1990. The Bishop, Bishop J. Neaul Haynes (COGIC General Board Member). Bishop Haynes is reported to have walked out during a meeting in which the victims outlined their complete case and requested assistance as well as disciplinary action from the church. The Bishop is also proported to have responded by saying "old habits die hard" before making his exit from the meeting.

Before one jumps to conclusions it is worth noting the actual procedures for both Pastor's and Church Trials. By the rule, the Bishop has authority based upon the recommendation of the Council in a CHURCH TRIAL. No such authority exists in a PASTOR'S TRIAL.



QUESTIONS

Did he, Bishop Haynes, neglect his duty and responsibility by refusing to do anything?

According to proceedure, COULD he, Bishop Haynes, do anything at all?

Was the entire process, a CHURCH TRIAL or a PASTOR'S TRIAL?

Who are "The majority Members of the Church Of God In Christ" according to the Church trial regulation?

If it was a CHURCH TRIAL, where is the complaint from the local church on the Pastor's behavior?

At any rate, what has prohibited ANY complaintant from filing CRIMINAL charges for rape, molestation and physical abuse?

According to the WORD of God, should Bishop Haynes have acted more detrminately? If so, what SHOULD he have done?

Could the local church (Shiloh) have done something about this?...YES...Did the local church do anything?...NO!

Could there have been better resolution and handling of the alleged victims? Time will tell but my answer is YES!

Whatever influence I had is probably all but gone after this post. (LOL) However, If you pray for me I have some plans that I believe will help change things around.


Numbers 32:20-23

"And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out."

Revelation 2:4-5

"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."


Blessed!


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