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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, June 23, 2006
Liberal Libertines (Part 3)
I don’t believe there is any hope for young Gaius. He has become totally corrupted by the worldly influences of The Agora, a contemporary style church he is attending. The church itself is one of the modern liberal apostate churches that are so popular with young people today. I e-mailed him one last time to warn him of the grave danger he was in. Rather than heeding my advice, however, he responded with ridicule.

Here is what I sent:

My Dear Gaius,

I understand your desire for liberty, but I am afraid that you may be in serious peril. I have it on good authority that the people at The Agora play rick music in their so-called worship service. Everyone knows that the throbbing beat of such music appeals to the flesh, not the spirit. Rock and roll is demon-inspired music straight from the pits of hell and has no place in godly worship. It is not expedient for Christians who are instructed to be suber and vigilant in this wicked age to try to incorporate the devil’s music in God’s worship.

Here are Four Tests For Christian Activities to determine whether or not you should allow certain thing in your life.
1. Does it bring me under its power?
2. Is it expedient?
3. Does it edify?
4. Does it help or hinder my fellow man or cause him to stumble?

Certainly, we would not want you to be a stublingblock to anyone including your children. Consider these Four Tests carefully and prayerfully and then let me know how, in good conscience, you can continue to worship with the licentious crowd at The Agora.

By God’s Grace Alone,

Two days later I received this insulting and disrespectful reply:


I applied your four test to church and here is how we turned out.

  1. The music did not bring us under its power. We were not gyrating in hedonistic abandon in the service like you seem to think. We stood in worshipful adoration of a soverign creator who saved us by the power of his marvelous grace.
  2. We feel that our worship is expedient. The Psalms tell us to worship God with music of all kinds. They tell us to sing new songs with a loud noise. Since it is expedient to obey the scripture, our worship passes your second test.
  3. Since most of the lyrics in the songs are based on scripture or quote directly from it, you can see that our songs are edifying.
  4. Beause our music is upbeat and encouraging, we are attracting people to church. We are drawing them in with our lively spirit and sharing the gospel with them. Far from causing others to stumble, we are seeing souls saved nearly every week. In fact, we have seen more people come to Christ in the last month at The Agora than we saw the entire time we were at your church.

Since you were kind enough to send me the Four Tests, I though you would appreciate it if I applied them to one of your favorite activities – The Carry-In Dinners that your church hosts every month.

1. Does it bring me under its power?
Since you seem pretty addicted to fried chicken (even encouraging people to bring plenty to the dinners) you have obviously fallen completely under the power of the red & white bucket. You should cancel your next Carry-In Dinner and announce that instead you are going to have a church-wide fast. This should free you and your members from satiating your fleshly lusts.

2. Is it expedient?
Since the Bible speaks often on the subject of fasting, it is clearly not expedient to have church Carry-In Dinners. Nowhere in the Bible are you admonished to eat so much that you have to “let the old belt out a notch or two,” as you say after nearly every meal. In fact,
1 Corinthians 11:22 warns against this very thing, telling you to keep your feasting at home.

3. Does it edify?
I admit that eating second and third helpings of sumptuous dinners on a monthly basis may build you up. Unfortunately, the only part of you it will build up is your waste size and the reading on your bathroom scale. I doubt that your gluttony builds you up spiritually. In fact, satisfying your stomach most likely hinders your spiritual growth.

4. Does it help or hinder my fellow man or cause him to stumble?
The fact that your church hosts those Carry-In dinners on a regular basis indicates to me that you, in your capacity as pastor, are causing plenty of people to stumble at the sin of gluttony. You are a hindrance to their continued spiritual growth by failing to cultivate, demonstrate and encourage the spiritual discipline of fasting.

Since you are so spiritual, I am confident that you will be ending the wicked, sinful, gluttonous hedonism of Carry-In Dinners at your church. I believe your warning against practicing things that appeal to the flesh is timely and I look forward to seeing you put your own warning into practice by abstaining from church-sanctioned gluttony. Let me know when you have finally stopped engaging in this dangerous practice of appealing to the flesh and we might give thoughtful consideration to your warnings. Only then can you write to me and tell me how bad the Agora is.


As you can tell, he is an impertinent, disrespectful and unrepentant reprobate. He is rude and judgmental. I find it to be the height of hypocritical hubris for him to think he could possibly judge me or my preferred style of worshipping God through celebratory feasting. His condemnatory tone was unconscionable. I decided to shake the dust off my feet against him and leave him to continue his inexorable slide down the slippery slope to hell where he is bound.

Let this be a warning to you all. Once you begin to exercise your liberty, it inevitably leads you deeper and deeper into sin. A girl who petitions her parents to wear slacks will not stop there. If her parents give in, she will then ask to wear capris. Her parents, thinking it is just a tiny step that makes no real difference, will relent. Next she will ask for loose shorts, then tight shorts and eventually she will end up dressed in nothing but a thong – all because her parents first let her put on a pair of slacks.

A young boy who starts out wanting to listen to contemporary Christian music (because of it’s “uplifting message”) is doomed to end his days at a heavy metal rock concert strung out on alcohol or drugs and covered in the blood of live chickens who have had their heads bitten off on stage.

Don’t let this happen to you! Avoid any church that appears to have even the merest hint of fun.

The inspiration for this post can be found here.

Friday, June 16, 2006
Liberal Libertines (Part 2)
As you may recall from last week, I was working with a young man who had left our church for a contemporary church that was, in his words, “fun.” Because I didn’t want him to slide into apostasy among the lazy, lay-about Christians at his new church, I told him in the sternest tone I could muster that there is nothing “fun” in the Bible. The Word of God focuses instead on unquestioning obedience, extreme spiritual caution and spotless separation from the world. I quoted from the great preachers of the Bible like James, John, Paul and Peter, who railed against sin and called God’s people to holiness and separated living.

His response was typical of those who have fallen under the thrall of postmodern libertinism, liberalism and general heresy. He said:

Pastor Gamaliel,

I see that you have taken my meaning of the word ‘fun’ to mean something different from what I really meant. I did not mean that I was looking for ‘fun and games’ in church. I was looking for a church that was enjoyable rather than simply bearable. At best.

I am very happy at The Agora because there is far more grace and Christian liberty in their worship, teaching, and Christian service than what I found in Pharisee churches. On the whole, I have found most Pharisee churches to be legalistic and condemning instead of loving and encouraging. Not only that, I found your church is even stricter than others in the Pharisee denomination as indicated by your recent e-mail.


Except for the evident pride I took at being known for the strictest church in our denomination, I was gravely disturbed by this young man’s response. I wrote to warn him not to use his liberty for an occasion to evil (Galatians 5:13). He clearly needed to know that there are biblical limits to our Christian liberty. I told him that Christians were indeed free in Christ, but that didn’t mean that we are free to do anything we please. We are NOT free to:

Unfortunately, his rebellious heart continued to deceive him into thinking that The Agora was a godly church. This is what he wrote back:

Pastor Gamaliel,

I have been going to The Agora for more than a month now and you will be pleased to know that neither I nor anyone in my family is fornicating with anyone in or out of the church. Nor are we involved in any uncleanness or unfruitful works of darkness. You will also be thrilled to know that no one at our church has been drunk with wine. I can assure you that I have never heard any corrupt communication come out of anyone’s mouth, neither have I seen anyone allowing any filthiness or being involved with anything that has the appearance of evil.

I do not love the world.

I am not a friend of the world.

I do not dress immodestly.

I want to thank you once again for your concern, but as you can see, I have not falling into sin. My liberty has not caused me to lose my spirituality. As you know from your reading of I Corinthians
6:12-13; 8:1-13; 10:23-24 and Romans 14, we are free in Christ. More importantly, we are also free from being judged by other Christians like yourself.


This young man is clearly deluded by his own sophistry. What he fails to realize is that these verses do not exempt him from judgment of any kind. He may think he is free to live any way he chooses, but this is certainly no part of the New Testament message. Despite his claims to the contrary, I am sure Gaius is abusing his liberty in order to satisfy his carnal desires.

The only thing our liberty frees us to do is to be obedient to the Bible. His gravest error is to think that he, a mere layman, is capable of deciding for himself what the Bible says. He is clearly allowing his own fleshly desires to affect his interpretation. Because I am able to take an objective, dispassionate view of the Bible, he should trust my enlightened and informed interpretation of the Bible over his own misconception of what the Bible says. My devotion to godly living assures me that I will not be led into wantonness and profligacy, so I can provide righteous guidance. Taking this Biblically-mandated responsibility to be a shepherd to the sheep, I wrote him to warn him one more time of his immanent peril. I will let you know next week how he responds.

The inspiration for this post can be found here.

Friday, June 09, 2006
Liberal Libertines (Part 1)
The saddest event that can happen in the life of a Man of God such as myself is when a promising young man allows himself to be drawn into falsehood and apostasy. I had this very experience happen last month. Young Gaius had a wonderful gift with young people and I had great hopes for him. Even though there were less than half a dozen young people in our church, Gaius was doing a marvelous job with them. Unfortunately he allowed the heady responsibility of being Youth Pastor turn him away from the faith.

I suspect that he was possessed of a rebellious heart because he started asking a number of questions that challenged much of what I was preaching from the pulpit. Had he been content with the answers I gave him instead of coming back with verses that he believed contradicted me, I'm sure he would have turned out just fine. Instead, he was lured into apostasy by one of the modern non-denominational churches in town called, "The Agora." I sent him an e-mail expressing my compassionate concern over his willingness to ally himself with a godless, liberal, apostate, contemporary church, warning him of the danger of such a course. I closed with an appeal not to forsake the faith but to keep his mind pure and untainted from the worldly forms of hedonistic worship he was subjecting his family to. He sent back this reply:

Pastor Gamaliel,

Thank you for your concern. I would like to encourage you not to worry about the welfare of my family and me. The Agora is a wonderful church. It is filled with people who love the Lord and one another.

The reason we are attending there is because I feel more liberty and more love than I ever felt in your church. I am having more fun and I find myself enjoying church for the first time in a long while. I am so glad to be free of the awful legalism I found in your church. The sermons at The Agora are filled with grace and compassion. They are not full of criticism and condemnation like the ones you preach. It is so much nicer to be ENCOURAGED by the pastor instead of being JUDGED all the time.

I appreciate your interest in our welfare but you don't need to worry. We will not be returning to First Pharisee Church anytime soon.


It was clear to me from his reply that young Gaius had grown lackadaisical in his church attendance. Everyone knows that the Agora is full of backslidden, lazy Christians because they don't hold Sunday evening or Wednesday evening Bible study services.

Sure, they have a Saturday night "seeker" service but those are widely regarded by most Pharisee pastors as obvious attempts to appeal to worldly people through a watered-down version of the gospel. They tone back their preaching on sin, and appeal to the flesh by playing God-dishonoring rock and roll music and movies.

In order to assuage the guilt of Agora members who feel guilty for not attending midweek services, they encourage people to attend Home Bible Studies. However, these are such casual affairs that no serious study of God's word could possibly take place. First of all they are not led by trained professional ministers, second they encourage people to dress casually and finally they have no set curriculum or study guide. It is clearly a case of every man doing that which is right in his own eyes. Besides, Ephesians 3:21 says, "Unto him be glory in the church," not in a Home Bible Study.

I could also tell from his reply that Gaius was putting more emphasis on recreation and relaxation with his family than on the rigorous practice of worship. Like most young people, he would rather focus on sports, the great outdoors or the endless variety of activities that are unconnected to dedicated, godly service. Our church, by way of contrast, would never sponsor recreational retreats. We recognize that it is more important to study the word and feed the spirit than it is to canoe down some river or camp in some national park in the company of other lukewarm Christians bent on satisfying their fleshly desires.

Christians should not meet to play. They should meet to pray.

They shouldn't be wrestling over a football. They should be wrestling over the truths of God's word.

People who want to spend time with their families rather than the Family of God are not worthy of the name. The only thing these people want is a thin veneer of some shallow Christian service. They do petty little things like working in the local homeless shelter, soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity project. These so-called Christians have no interest in digging into the Word with hard, diligent study. All they want to do is "minister" to the needs of the poor and unfortunate as a poor substitute for real service to God – condemning sin and preaching the gospel of repentance.

My duty is clear. As a spiritual Christian, it is incumbent on me to restore wandering sheep like Gaius and his family. The most loving thing I can do is to rebuke him sharply for leading his family into error and apostasy. I shall also admonish him to be true to the Pharisee faith once delivered to the saints. He needs to heed my warning, repent of his declension from the truth and return to the fold of the fundamentalist faithful. I will keep you posted on my success.

The inspiration for this post can be found here.

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