Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for joining us in session eight. Before we necessarily had to include a conference session examining a Rick Warren apostasy flair-up in his Daniel Plan, we were set to reveal the power behind the thrown at North Point Community Church, pastured by Andy Stanley. How do we do that? We do that by examining where, exactly, they turn when problems in life get very serious. North Point refers to these problems as “complicated.”1 Now, you’ll want to keep it simple at North Point, because if you start getting complicated you probably have an “emotional need” where, they tell us, you can no longer “lean on friend, family member, or community group.”2 Now, when serious problems come your way, you might think it appropriate—necessary—to see an elder, or assistant pastor, or even the pastor himself. But that’s not the course followed in the contemporary, visible church.
We already know the prevailing attitude of these ruffled-come-hipsters when it comes to receiving the little people who have sacrificed to build their empires. Perry Noble exemplified their sentiment when he told his church that the likelihood of seeing him in person would be when the guy behind him had the bodybag you’d be leaving the hospital room in. But not always. In his favor we should acknowledge that there are exceptions. If you are willing to grease his palms with $1,500 cash, then you could get a small audience with him as your Personal Coach. You’d only have to share him with only 15 or so other suckers to make it worth his while. Oh, the compassion of it all! But back to Stanley’s house of horrors as we attend another session in our conference series the: Church of What’s Happening Now.
If you thought you’d need to see a mature saint for comfort and encouragement from the word of God in time of trouble, and perhaps even the pastor, don’t think that at North Point. Because at North Point, when “problems become more complicated” you really “need the guidance of a professional.”3 That’s right, forget about the Bible believing faith stuff, that’s only for the good times.
What’s a ‘professional’?
For North Point: a professional is a state licensed psychologist or psychiatrist who charges an hourly fee for counseling. The staff at North Point will put you in touch with one of these by means of a counseling referral. They might even match you with a Christian counselor, but presumably that would be an hourly rate also.
Now, let’s try to square this with scripture. That shouldn’t step on too may toes at North Point. After all, they use the word “Church” in the name of their organization.
When Christ ordained and sent out preachers, He also instructed them to heal the sick, to cleanse lepers, and even to raise the dead! (Mat 10:5-8). Now stop. We can imagine what price some would be willing to pay to be brought back to life after an accident, or after expiring on an operating table.
But what does Jesus command to those who heal according to the word of God?
Even for raising the dead, and casting out demons, the command was: “freely ye have received, freely give” (Mat 10:8b). Has that changed? And if a church arranges to charge money for solving problems in life that get ‘complicated,’ how much more is charged for salvation itself?
Oh, they really wouldn’t do that! Really? What do you think they insinuate when extracting the tithe? Don’t balk, in the Church of What’s Happening Now, the imposition of the Hebrew tithe is extorted by alternately positioning people inside God’s protective grace, or else outside His church and huddled with the children of wrath. Their ever changing justification depends on their adherence to that supporting duty of the Jewish ceremonial law (and an ancillary one, at that). To hear these guys preach it.
How many church attendees today have not set through a thundering message of condemnation and cursing as the guy on the platform read selected passages from the book of Malachi. And that person always omits it is a book written exclusively to Israel which mentions the storehouse tithe, which, by the way, has nothing to do with money.
Ladies and gentlemen, the tithe is their back-door way of charging for salvation. But we know that salvation is the gift of God (Rom 5:12-17; 6:23). Remember: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9). The tithe is a work, performance of it won’t get you in, and the absence of it can’t keep you out.
But the difference between supporting a ministry and building an apostate empire is another discussion. Here we will ask: can North Point be justified in having saints charged for counseling? What saith the scriptures?
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Eph 4:10-12).
Notice that pastors and teachers are a gift for ministry which works towards the perfecting of the saints. Notice also He did not give psychologists and psychiatrists to the body of Christ. So, if one receives real Christian ministry, where Christians are ministered to with the sincere milk of the word whereby they may grow (1Pet 2:2; 1Co 3:2)—eventually maturing to a diet of strong meat (Heb 5:12)—can they be charged a price?
Of course, there can be no charge for Christian ministry. This means that North Point is either practicing a sort of Simony—thinking the gifts of God can be sold, and thereby purchased with money—or they are selling something else. And they are.
1 – 3. North Point Community Church, “Counseling Referrals.” http://www.northpoint.org/counseling