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from 828 Ministries:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. — Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. — Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV)

Only let your manner of life be worthyof the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, – Philippians 1:27 (ESV)

https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/77917-join-kenneth-copeland-and-lou-engle-in-these-healing-prayers-for-the-body

The bible prophesies in Revelation the state of the world leading up to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. While the date cannot be known, the birth pains can be felt, and one area of Eschatology experts agree on is the establishment of a one world religion. We need to be ever vigilant against the calls for false unity, which are heard nearly every day from the purpose driven industrial complex. To them, a unified church means more suckers to sell their wares to. To Satan however, it means unifying the people of God in something other than His Gospel and we need to make sure that the true remnant stays unified in Christ. The above link is to the most recent call for false unity. So, let us reason together once more and be reminded what we need to be watchful for.

This week, we are in the midst of praying through the 40-day Jewish season of repentance, Teshuvah. The word “Teshuvah” literally means to return to the presence of God. It is a season of introspection and repentance for Christians to come into unity with God, as Jesus prayed in John 17:21. However, as Jesus prayed, unity with God also requires unity with each other in Christ (John 17:20-23). Yet, almost since the beginning of Christianity, believers have quarreled about Christian doctrine and church government. The first Jerusalem Council served as an example of a favorably resolved dispute (Acts 15). However, other disputes resulted in division and treatment of opponents as non-Christians. As Ralph Martin famously said, “The body of Christ is broken.” Today there are many denominations and doctrines which create a great diversity within the body of Christ. Yet, we can still be united in Christ. Lutheran theologian Oscar Cullmann said, “Unity in the church … is unity in diversity … recognizing others in all their variety as true Christians.” — Ron Allen

Would it surprise you to learn that there is no Christian season called Teshuva? Or that the word actually means to simply repent? When scouring the Jewish calendar, we see no such record of the season of Teshuva. The only Christian referent we could find was to the wildly heretical ministry of Perry Stone. So, the notion that this Jewish word for repentance is secretly a season for Christians to return to the presence of God, be introspective, and come into unity is absolutely made up. The entire thing is a work of fiction. Christians have quarreled since the beginning because God is so clear about being careful to avoid false doctrine. Paul only tells Timothy to guard two things. His life and his doctrine. His doctrine because the eternal lives of his listeners is at stake. Our first key verse is crucial to understanding unity because disunity is sown in the body through the admission of false teaching. Most charlatans point to discernment ministries or people criticizing what is false as the source of disunity but it is their false teaching that divided the body to begin with. The second key verse is crucial to remember that only the Gospel, the true Gospel, has the power of God to save someone. What does that mean preacher? That means without the preaching of the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ, no one gets saved — period, full stop. I have had well intended people ask me if people can get saved through a heretical ministry such as Joel Osteen’s and the answer is no. Not according to the bible anyway. Now, can Osteen force someone to seek the truth and thus get saved by someone else presenting the Gospel? Of course, but that person is saved in spite of Osteen, not because of him.

read the full article here.

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Todd Bentley was rotten and a false teacher from the start, so this article should not surprise anyone!

from The “Christian” Post:

Stephen Powell, an estranged protégé of controversial evangelist Todd Bentley at Fresh Fire USA, has publicly dismissed his mentor as “not fit for public ministry,” alleging that he has a “perverse sexual addiction” that has driven him to prey on interns.

Citing personal and reported testimony, Powell, who runs Lion of Light Ministries in Pineville, North Carolina, alleged in a lengthy post on Facebook Thursday that Bentley “has an appetite for a variety of sexual sins, including both homosexual and heterosexual activity.” He was not immediately available to respond to The Christian Post’s request for further comment on Friday.

Powell also charged that Bentley’s behavior is enabled and covered up by his wife, Jessa, as well as Christian leaders in the evangelist’s orbit such as Rick Joyner, author of The Final Quest and founder of Morning Star Ministries and Heritage International Ministries.

Joyner helped Bentley create Fresh Fire USA in 2009, the year after Bentley separated from now ex-wife, Shonnah, and got involved in an emotional relationship with a staff member. Joyner was also part of the “healing team” that was formed to help restore Bentley after the divorce and emotional affair.

In a Facebook Live broadcast on Friday, Joyner said he currently has no authority over Bentley and acknowledged being aware of accusations that he had preyed on interns. He also acknowledged that Powell had come to him and tried to pressure him into taking swift action against Bentley. He accused Powell of operating in a spirit of “witchcraft” for going public with his knowledge.

“When people come to me with pressuring, manipulating, especially threatening if I don’t do something their way, or in their time, I know that’s the devil,” Joyner said. “That’s in Scripture, counterfeit spiritual authority which is called witchcraft. That is not the Holy Spirit. We’ve got to start recognizing what is from the Holy Spirit and what is not.”

Powell said that even though he had been aware of misconduct by Bentley over the years, much of the evidence supporting his current allegations came to light this summer after he started appealing to Joyner to stage an intervention.

“Down through the years, Todd [Bentley] has made sexual advances toward (and in some cases engaged in sexual sin with) a number of different men and women outside his marriage, many of them interns and/or students under his leadership care in the church,” Powell alleged.

Powell cited testimony from a male intern who claimed in 2013 that Bentley offered to pay him $1,000 if he allowed him to perform oral sex on him.

He said the intern told him: “‘There was a time that I was with Todd and I was struggling to get by. … I was living with my sister, working a job, just trying to pay my bills and get by, and Todd was supposed to be my mentor you know. And we’re hanging out and he’s paying for me to eat out, paying for me here, paying for me there, you know, and always showing off his money you know. … And he was like, ‘I know you’re struggling so’… I don’t know how it came up, but He was like, ‘Can I suck your d— for $1,000?’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ I was like, ‘What the F is your freaking problem?’ … And I was like, oblivious. … And you know, it was not just that. … I saw pictures of His wife naked, fully naked, the whole nine yards.”

He said he was told by another male intern who witnessed what happened that he informed Joyner of Bentley’s actions but ultimately “nothing was done and Todd was still allowed to go on in ministry as if everything was okay.”

In a response on Facebook Friday, Bentley admitted to “having a past” and noted that the allegations against him weren’t new.

“I decided to come out in a public way ahead of what has been brewing in recent months….This isn’t something new as many of the things that I’m dealing with do go back up to six, seven years. Yes, old stuff. I do have a past and many of the things I’m being accused of today come from the fact that I’ve had cracks in my foundation. I’m not about to hide, try to lie or run from the fact that I have a past in which my wife and my therapist [have been a part],” he explained.

He said he has been working with a therapist for approximately one year as well as an accountability team.

Bentley called many of the current accusations against him, “false.”

“They are gossip, they are swirl, they are speculation, hearsay and they are without any real evidence. As far as let the accusers come forth. Let them name names. Let them meet with me, with Rick. With whoever is on my leadership. I would love to be able to look in the eye of the people making the claims,” he said.

“I do have the things in my past I gotta say … whether they are six months, a year, two years, five, six, seven. Many of the things that I’ve addressed and continue to address in my life to be clean,” he said.

“I am not guilty of the things that I’m being accused of as far as those homosexual acts. Things that are taken out of context in inappropriate text messages or conversations that I had that were not right that I’ve had to own, that go back to 2013,” he said, noting that he didn’t have any sexual affairs or commit adultery.

He said he is now leaning on the prayers and support of his friends, then read a prepared statement after assuring his followers that his ongoing healing revival will continue.

In his response, Joyner explained that after he completed oversight of Bentley’s restoration in 2012 stemming from the 2008 scandal, the evangelist has been charting his own path while continuing counseling.

“I do not have authority over Todd Bentley. Those of you who know the story had the issues [that manifested in 2008]. I was asked by Peter Wagner as a representative of the Revival Alliance to oversee Todd’s restoration. I was given very few guidelines, [not] anything. Just here, you take this. We think you’re supposed to do it. I thought I was the worst one in the world to do it,” he said. “I’m not good at that. That’s not my type of calling.”

He said he prayed about it, however, and he felt like God would give him the grace to do it.

“I would say this about Todd, he’s still being restored but guess what? So am I. So are you. We still have a ways to go. I felt like the Lord showed me in 2008 that this wasn’t the last big public embarrassment that Todd was gonna have or mistake or sin. I was given a Scripture in Proverbs where the righteous fall seven times. Even the righteous fall seven times, but He said Todd would keep getting back up. He said he would fight on. But I never expected after we released him in I think about 2012, that he would be perfect,” Joyner said.

He disputes as well that nothing was done when he learned of Bentley’s behavior toward interns.

“A situation arose in 2013 when Todd, a friend brought some text messages that Todd had sent to some interns. I was appalled,” Joyner said.

“They are in the accusations that the brother put out yesterday. I was shocked. I still didn’t have authority over Todd but I went to him as a brother and I confronted him with it. As a matter of fact, I confronted him harder than I ever confronted anybody over anything. I was absolutely outraged,” he said.

“If a brother is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore them, and do it in a spirit of gentleness lest we too be tempted. So I’ve resolved to obey that. I’m not gonna turn away from anyone who is caught in any trespass. And I’ll be honest with you, working with some really public figures … my whole concept of any trespass got so stretched. And my concept of what God would give His grace and mercy to got so stretched. Even the deplorable things that Todd did do in this case, to me, they weren’t shocking anymore. And I’ve seen God help people through things way worse,” Joyner said.

He said Bentley got counseling and repented of the things he did in 2013, and he along with others will investigate the other allegations made by Powell.

“My opinion, the things that are said about me and written about me in this accusation, I thought they were not only not true but in my opinion, they were the opposite of the truth. They obviously helped me doubt everything else in it except for what was true that Todd had done way back in 2013. But the rest of it, we’re still gonna examine. We’re still gonna check out and try to get with witnesses and everything else. It’s a long process. I can’t just lay everything else I am doing down,” Joyner said.

Citing testimony he was given, Powell alleged that Joyner refused to help the young male intern who reported Bentley in 2013.

Another intern alleged that Bentley offered to pay him $500 to send the evangelist a video of him masturbating, while yet another claimed that Bentley and his wife frequently sent him explicit photos and videos.

It was further alleged by Powell that Bentley “made out with his young female assistant whom he is not married to, walked into a room, closed the door, and stayed in there for at least 30 minutes with Jessa being in the same house and knowing about it.”

Citing several other accusations in the post as well as in a Facebook Live broadcast, Powell said he was forced to speak out because the leaders of Bentley’s ministry have done nothing to address the evangelist’s behavior.

“I believe that both Todd and his wife, Jessa, are both complicit in this sexual perversion and have both participated in inviting other sexual partners, both men and women, into their marriage bed. Todd and Jessa’s relationship and marriage began in sexual sin and it appears that that sin has only grown and become stronger in their lives over the years, despite the bond of marriage they share,” he continued.

“I believe Todd is not fit for public ministry. On top of his sexual sins, he has proven to be a compulsive liar, he lacks financial integrity when handling God’s money, and he is a substance abuser that has drawn many others into these sins with him over the years. I believe Todd has proven over more than two decades of ministry, moral failures, and abuse of others that he cannot be trusted with the care of God’s people.”

Powell said he was a janitor at a small church in Alaska in 2012 when he met Bentley who “recognized a ministry gift on my life and began mentoring me in ministry.”

Bentley, he said, helped him get established as an itinerant preacher but in recent years, he began distancing himself from the evangelist after God spoke to him about holiness. He admitted to being involved in crude behavior while he was a part of Bentley’s camp but said he was never a part of any sexual acts.

“I myself have seen things over the years that I find very disturbing. I myself have seen Todd preach, pray, and prophesy over the people, only to leave the meeting, purchase hard liquor, and walk into his hotel to party the rest of the night,” Powell said.

“I myself have seen and heard Todd and Jessa speak with unclean/foul speech. I confess that I myself, at times in the past, have gotten caught up in some of this culture of speech that’s unpleasing to the Lord … what one might call ‘guy talk’ or ‘locker room banter,’ which the Lord has dealt with my heart on and I’ve repented for. But honestly, with the vile culture that has infiltrated the charismatic church, it is extremely difficult at times to have fellowship with other ministers, and build alliances with others for the kingdom, and not be affected by this stuff,” he explained.

Powell noted that he is hoping Bentley will respond to the allegations with repentance.

“At the end of the day, given the evidence I have and the 100’s of hours I’ve spent on the phone talking to witnesses, I am fully convinced that Todd & Jessa both have lost the privilege to minister to God’s people any longer, in full time ministry,” he said.

“When someone has a record of sexual abuse, sexual misconduct, inappropriate behavior, drunkenness, lying, & cheating going back more than 20 years … and they have repeatedly been offered great mercy and grace rather than disqualification from ministry, yet they continue to behave in this matter … in my mind and through what I can see in the scripture, they have lost the right and privilege to minister to God’s people ever again, in their own public ministry.”

Joyner argued that Powell acted out of frustration, which is not of God.

“This brother put out this thing yesterday, admitted he did this out of frustration because I wouldn’t meet with him. I was gonna meet with him, but at the right time and for the right reason. I was not gonna cave to his pressuring threatening, manipulating, anything else,” he said. “Frustration, I don’t think is a fruit of the spirit … If we do things out of frustration that is not going to be the Spirit of God.”

Powell argued that he, along with some of the witnesses he interviewed to compile evidence he submitted to Fresh Fire leaders, have already been threatened.

“Some of the witnesses I talked to at the beginning of my investigation have since withdrawn their testimony because they have been threatened by people involved in this network of sin and cover-ups. I’ve come across at least one witness who was paid off and made to sign a legal gag order in order to keep silent about the great sins and abominations he’s witnessed. And in some cases, I personally have been threatened with a lawsuit and violence if I revealed my findings,” he said.

Regardless of the allegations, Joyner believes that Bentley and his ministry will survive and the exposure will be “used for good, for Todd, for me.”

“I’ve seen the consequences of those who’ve done the things that this brother is doing … I was waiting to meet with him so that I could have something from God that I could give to him that might help set him free from the course that I believed him to be on,” Joyner said. “It’s a black hole when you start to believe you’re the police of the body of Christ but you’re not getting that from above. You’re getting it from the devil.”

 

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from Christian Headlines:

The president of a seminary founded in 1836 on the “infallible” Word of God says in a new interview she doesn’t believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ, the power of prayer, a literal heaven, or miracles.

Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in New York, made the comments in an interview with Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times for an article published Easter weekend. Although the author’s intent may have been to inspire readers, it also served to spotlight the leftward drift of many seminaries.

Union Theological Seminary’s founding constitution stated the seminary’s goal was to “promote” the “Kingdom of Christ.” Professors were required to affirm they believed “the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God” and the “only infallible rule of faith and practice.”

But as Jones made clear, the seminary is a very different school today.

She rejects a literal bodily resurrection of Christ.

“When you look in the Gospels, the stories are all over the place. There’s no resurrection story in Mark, just an empty tomb. Those who claim to know whether or not it happened are kidding themselves,” Jones said. “… Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts. For me, the cross is an enactment of our human hatred. But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Isn’t that reason for hope?”

She rejects the idea that God miraculously heals through prayer.

“I don’t believe in a God who, because of prayer, would decide to cure your mother’s cancer but not cure the mother of your nonpraying neighbor,” she said. “We can’t manipulate God like that.”

She rejects the virgin birth.

“I find the virgin birth a bizarre claim,” she said. “It has nothing to do with Jesus’ message. The virgin birth only becomes important if you have a theology in which sexuality is considered sinful. It also promotes this notion that the pure, untouched female body is the best body, and that idea has led to centuries of oppressing women.”

Asked what happens when people die, Jones responded, “I don’t know! There may be something, there may be nothing. My faith is not tied to some divine promise about the afterlife.”

Asked how we can reconcile an “omnipotent, omniscient God” with evil and suffering, Jones responded, “At the heart of faith is mystery. God is beyond our knowing, not a being or an essence or an object. But I don’t worship an all-powerful, all-controlling omnipotent, omniscient being. That is a fabrication of Roman juridical theory and Greek mythology.”

When Kristof asked her if he can be considered a Christian after not believing in a virgin birth or resurrection, Jones answered, “Well, you sound an awful lot like me, and I’m a Christian. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said Jones rejected the “entire edifice of orthodox, biblical Christianity.”

“This is not Christianity,” Mohler wrote. “This is a new religion, a new god, formed in an image intended not to offend modern secular sensibilities. She has constructed a god from post-modern theology that in no way resembles the God of the Bible – the one true God.”

Mohler observed that Jones denied “the reality of the resurrection, the necessity of the virgin birth, the attributes of God, the power of prayer, and the existence of heaven and hell.”

“According to Jones,” Mohler wrote. “there is no cross on which Jesus died for sin, there is no Father who sent the Son to pay our ransom, there is no bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead as a sign and seal of God’s promises – indeed, she has denied everything that makes the gospel good news. She even denies that God is a ‘being.’”

Jones claims to be a Christian minister while simultaneously rejecting “every tenet of the historic Christian faith,” Mohler said.

“Why would anyone identify as a Christian minister and then deny the entire superstructure of Christian theology?” Mohler asked. “What we see here is a hope to replace biblical Christianity with a new religion without anyone noticing.”

 

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1 Corinthians 15:14:

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”

Did you think it was outrageous when a literally Satanic college professor accused God of sexual misconduct?:

That was nothing compared to the blasphemy you can hear right in church. The Reverend Rick Mawson, an 83-year-old retired United Church of Christ minister who currently leads a First Congregational Church class on progressive theology, barks that it is primitive, shameful, and offensive to believe that Jesus died for our sins. He outmoonbats even the nutty Satanist professor with the proclamation that God is a “bloodthirsty child abuser.” Seriously:

from The Tribune:

It is with a sense of joy for me to witness people tenderly holding hands, especially the young or the elderly. Holding hands can be very comforting. It is a way of being connected to another person. We all know that the experience of being embraced in another’s caring is life giving and life enhancing. Being intimately in touch with other human beings is a universal human hunger.

From the time we were conceived in our mother’s womb, we have begun to learn how important it is to be connected to another person. At our birth we experience a world separate from our mother. After being born we also start to experience something called separation anxiety even though our world is expanding to include other family members. The threat to intimacy that occurs after birth is a universal human experience. At some level, deeply embedded in us, we yearn to re-establish that connectedness with the “Source of Our Being.”

As humans we need each other to survive and thrive. Behavior that damages human relationships and their ability to thrive is a form of “sin.”

Our Hebrew ancestors told stories to explain the estrangement that humans experience in regard to the Ultimate Source of Life and Being, which we usually referred to as “God.” The earliest biblical creation story is told in Genesis chapters 2 and 3. It speaks of the disobedience of the original human couple, Adam and Eve. Their failure to obey God introduced “original sin” into what was presumed by our ancestors to be a perfect and complete world. In the story, God, acting like a stern tribal leader, condemns Adam and Eve for their disobedience by punishing them with hard labor and the pain of childbirth. The story says our ancestral parents were then banished forever from the garden of perfection.

Given the knowledge available to those ancient Hebrew storytellers, the story seemed to make sense. When humans make greedy or sinful choices there may be unwelcome consequences. The storytellers did not have, as we do today, any awareness of how life and culture continue to evolve over millions of years. The ancient creation story should never be taken literally, as if it actually happened that way. We now know our world has never been perfect and complete, it has always been in a process of becoming more complex and interrelated. Our world is a work in progress.

The sense of estrangement experienced by many humans generates a desire to be embraced by the Source of Life. That quest is for “atonement” (at-one-ment). It is a yearning to become whole again by being united with the Holy.

“Substitutionary atonement” is the commonly held, yet theologically primitive, shameful idea that God required the humiliating sacrificial death of his only son Jesus to pay the restitution price for the sins of all humanity, by suffering punishment on our behalf, so that we may ultimately be reunited with the Source of our Being. Think about the implications of that assertion. It presents the Creator, who loved us into being, as judgmentally incapable of forgiveness and a bloodthirsty child abuser. That limited view of the Divine does not make sense to me and is offensive. The theology of substitutionary atonement is based on the primitive concept of an “original sin” the stain of which is genetically passed on generation to generation from our first ancestors. This is the belief that we are all, from the time of our birth, depraved sinners in need of saving from eternal damnation, the kind of saving that can only come from the same God who requires, and can only receive, satisfaction by brutally sacrificing God’s own child.

I have come to believe that the theology that affirms, “Jesus died for my sins” is bad theology. It is our human attempt to make God take care of our problems. This primitive theology is designed to try to relieve us of responsibility for how we live our lives and treat one another.

Starkly missing in the substitutionary atonement analysis of our situation is any acknowledgment of the unlimited and unconditional grace that is offered by the Holy Source we call Love. In the life and teachings of Jesus we find one who embodied love by loving people into wholeness and by showing us how to do the same. In the freedom that comes with love, we have the choice to flourish within that abundant grace or resist it.

How can we experience intimacy with the Holy in our lives? How can we achieve a healthy sense of being at one with the Divine, the Holy, the Source of our Being? The story of the life examples and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth has been transformative to many in this regard. Guidance on how to restore intimacy with the Holy can be found in Matthew’s biblical writing (25:31-46) where Jesus is said to be speaking about how, in caring for others, we experience our most intimate contact with the One who created us. Simply said, we achieve atonement with the Love that brought us into being by compassionately loving others in response to their needs. We are ultimately accountable for what we do to provide all people with what they need to thrive.

Regardless of our particular faith tradition, we are encouraged to embrace peace, to be compassionate toward our neighbor, to love our enemies, to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to heal the sick, to visit with those in prison, to welcome the stranger, and in the process of loving others into wholeness we will be experiencing an intimate relationship with the Source of our Being.

Tenderly holding hands is a small yet significant sign of our human connectedness to each other and to our Source of Life. We are all in this together.

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from Lighthouse Trails Research:

In May of 2013, Lighthouse Trails released a report titled, “They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years.” In view of the upcoming elections and some of the things going on around the country in the “background,” it seems diligent to repost the report at this time. While some of the documentation in the report is a few years old, there are similar efforts going on today as are described in the report. For instance, the “Vote Common Good” (a website created on June 2018, just in time for the elections) bus tours taking place right now around the country are intending on “flipping congress.” The line up of those speaking on the tour are largely extreme liberal  emergent figures such as Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, Frank Schaeffer, John Pavlovitz (recently featured in a LT article), Mark Scandrette, Doug Pagitt, Samir Selmanović, Diana Butler Bass, and Nadia Bolz-Weber. Folks, these people mean business, and they won’t let up until they’ve accomplished their Marxist/Socialist-leaning, anti-biblical goals. This next election will come and go, but they will still be here, telling the world that they represent “true” relevant organic Christianity, and your children and grandchildren will believe them. We know that politics is never going to solve the problems of any country. And there is no perfect political party. But what is being presented by the people in groups like the one named above is an anti-Christ agenda. That sounds strong, but think about what Diana Butler Bass (who was part of the 2015 Parliament of World Religions) said in her book, Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening:

Conventional, comforting Christianity has failed. It does not work. For the churches that insist on preaching it, the jig is up. We cannot go back, and we should not want to. . . . In earlier American awakenings, preachers extolled “old-time religion” as the answer to questions about God, morality, and existence. This awakening is different . . . it is not about sawdust trails, mortification of sin [putting to death the old man], and being washed in the blood of the Lamb [the preaching of the Cross]. The awakening going on around us is not an evangelical revival; it is not returning to the faith of our fathers or re-creating our grandparents church. Instead, it is a Great Returning to ancient understandings of the human quest for the divine. (pp. 36, 99; emphasis added)

Several of the names we have listed above have said similar type things about biblical Christianity over the years as you can read about on our site and in our published materials. Some of you may remember our 2009 article “Brian McLaren Wants End Time Believing Christians Robustly Confronted.” As far as these highly influential emergents are concerned the “old-time religion” of being washed in the blood of the Lamb is over. And you can be sure their target is your children and grandchildren, especially ones who’ve grown up in Christian homes. When you consider how Rick Warren, Bob Buford (Leadership Network), and Bill Hybels all had a part in launching the emergent church back in the 1990s1 and then never retracted a single promotion of it, it’s difficult to witness the “fruit” of their labors these 25 years later and listen to the silence of Christian leaders who seem to care more about building their own empires than defending that old time religion.

And now the 2013 Lighthouse Trails report:

“They Hate Christianity But Love (Another) Jesus – How Conservative Christians Are Being Manipulated and Ridiculed, Especially During Election Years”

In 2008, which was an election year, books, videos, broadcasts, and news articles were pouring into mainstream America with a guilt-ridden message that basically manipulated conservative Christians into thinking that either they shouldn’t vote because “Jesus wouldn’t vote,” or they shouldn’t vote on morality issues such as abortion or homosexuality. Suddenly, all over the place, there was talk about “destroying Christianity,” or “liking Jesus but not the church,” or “Jesus for president” (suggesting that maybe we could get Him on the ballot but certainly we shouldn’t vote for anyone already on the ballot). It all sounded very noble to many. After all, everybody knows there is so much political corruption in high government and certainly as much hypocrisy within the walls of many proclaiming Christian leaders and celebrities.

This special report by Lighthouse Trails is not going to attempt to answer the question, “Should a Christian vote?” But we hope to at least show that things are not always as they seem, and what may appear noble and good may not be so at all.

In January of 2012, another election year, a young man, Jefferson (Jeff) Bethke, who attends contemplative advocate Mark Driscoll’s church, Mars Hill in Washington state, posted a video on YouTube called “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Within hours, the video had over 100,000 hits. Soon it reached over 14 million hits, according to the Washington Post, one of the major media that has spotlighted the Bethke video (hits as of May 2013 are over 25 million).

The Bethke video is a poem Bethke wrote and recites in a rap-like fashion his thoughts and beliefs about the pitfalls of what he calls “religion” but what is indicated to be Christianity. While we are not saying at this time that Bethke is an emerging figure, and while some of the lyrics in his poem are true statements, it is interesting that emerging spirituality figures seem to be resonating with Bethke’s message. They are looking for anything that will give them ammunition against traditional biblical Christianity. They have found some in Bethke’s poem. Like so many in the emerging camp say, Bethke’s poem suggests that Christians don’t take care of the poor and needy. While believers in Christ have been caring for the needy for centuries, emerging figures use this ploy to win conservative Christians (through guilt) over to a liberal social justice “gospel.” Emerging church journalist Jim Wallis (founder of Sojourners) is one who picked up on Bethke’s video. In an article on Wallis’ blog, it states:

Bethke’s work challenges his listeners to second guess their preconceived notions about what it means to be a Christian. He challenges us to turn away from the superficial trappings of “religion,” and instead lead a missional life in Christ.1

What the article is talking about when it says “preconceived notions” is Christianity according to the Bible. Emerging figures accept some of it but find to accept all of it is too restricting. Many of them call themselves “red letter Christians,” supposing to mean they adhere to all the red letters that Jesus said; but they have actually chosen which red letters they adhere to—they don’t accept them all. For instance, they dismiss red letters that refer to there being a hell for those who reject Jesus Christ as Lord, God, and Savior. When the word missional is used, this doesn’t mean traditional missionary efforts to evangelize the world. It means to realize that all of humanity is saved and being saved along with all of creation and that the means of salvation didn’t take place in a one-time event (the Cross) but is an ongoing procedure that occurs as people begin to realize they are all connected to one another and can bring about a Utopian society through this interconnectedness. Such emerging buzz words like missional fool a lot of people though.

Incidentally, if you’ve never read the article we posted in the summer of 2010 regarding Jim Wallis and Sojourners, “Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis’ Revolutionary Anti-Christian “Gospel” (and Will Christian Leaders Stand with Wallis?)” we highly recommend it.2 But be warned—you may find it quite disturbing when you read what the agenda behind the scenes really is.

The rally call to throw out Christianity but keep “Jesus” isn’t a new one—we’ve heard it many times before from various emerging contemplatives. Futurist Erwin McManus once said in an interview:

My goal is to destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ . . . Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I’m anti-Christian. I think they might be right.3

And, of course, there is Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church. In a book review of Kimball’s book, Lighthouse Trails stated that the book should really be calledThey Like (Another) Jesus But Not the Church, the Bible, Morality, or the Truth.4 Kimball interviews several young people (one is a lesbian) who tell him they “like and respect Jesus” but they don’t want anything to do with going to church or with those Christians who take the Bible literally. Kimball says these are “exciting times” we live in “when Jesus is becoming more and more respected in our culture by non-churchgoing people.”5 He says we should “be out listening to what non-Christians, especially those in their late teens to thirties, are saying and thinking about the church and Christianity.”6

According to Kimball, it is vitally important that we as Christians be accepted by non-Christians and not thought of as abnormal or strange. But in order to do that, he says we must change the way we live and behave. Kimball insists that “those who are rejecting faith in Jesus” do so because of their views of Christians and the church.7 But he makes it clear throughout the book that these distorted views are not the fault of the unbeliever but are the fault of Christians, but not all Christians, just those fundamentalist ones who take the Bible literally, believe that homosexuality is a sin, and think certain things are wrong and harmful to society . . . and actually speak up about these things.

Perhaps what is most damaging about Dan Kimball’s book is his black and white, either or reasoning (the very thing he accuses Christians of). He makes it very clear that you cannot be a Christian who takes the Bible literally and also be a humble, loving, thoughtful person. They are two different things, according to Kimball. There is no such thing as a loving, humble Christian who takes the Bible literally. His book further alienates believers in a world that is already hostile to those who say Jesus is the only way to salvation, the Bible should be taken literally, homosexuality is a sin, and we are called out of this world to live righteously by the grace of God.

Brian McLaren, the emerging church’s early pioneer, resonates with these ill feelings toward the Christian faith when he states:

I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.8

Roger Oakland deals with this “we love Jesus but hate Christianity” mentality in his book Faith Undone. Listen to a few quotes Oakland includes in that book:

For me, the beginning of sharing my faith with people began by throwing out Christianity and embracing Christian spirituality, a nonpolitical mysterious system that can be experienced but not explained.9—Don MillerBlue Like Jazz

They [Barbarians] see Christianity as a world religion, in many ways no different from any other religious system. Whether Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, or Christianity, they’re not about religion; they’re about advancing the revolution Jesus started two thousand years ago.10—Erwin McManusThe Barbarian Way

New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other faiths. . . .  One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.”11–Leonard Sweet

I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.12–Rick Warren

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.13–Thomas Merton

Allah is not another God … we worship the same God. . . . The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God . . . the Muslims–worship.14–Peter Kreeft

Roger Oakland relates a story from the Book of Acts:

“[T]he apostle Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He was brought before King Agrippa and given the opportunity to share his testimony of how he became a Christian. He told Agrippa that the Lord had commissioned him to preach the Gospel and:

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)

“Agrippa continued listening and then said to Paul, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (vs. 28).’ Paul answered him:

I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (vs. 29)

“If Paul had been following the emerging mentality, he would have told Agrippa, “No need to become a Christian. You can remain just as you are; keep all your rituals and practices, just say you like Jesus.” In actuality, if Paul had been practicing emerging spirituality, he wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. He would not have stood out, would not have preached boldly and without reservation, and he would not have called himself a Christian, which eventually became a death sentence for Paul and countless others.”15

It’s hard to believe there was not at least some political agenda in this storm of “we love Jesus but not the church or Christianity” especially witnessed in election years. And we believe this agenda was aimed particularly toward young people from evangelical conservative upbringings who had joined the emerging church movement. In a CBS Broadcast, anchorman Antonio Mora suggests there may have been over twenty million participants in the emerging church movement in the United States alone by 2006.16 Even half that number would be enough to change the results of a presidential election.

Some may contend that Jefferson Bethke’s song doesn’t have any political message at all—it’s just about hypocrisy of religious people. But interestingly, in the very first few lines of the song, Bethke raps:

“What if I told you getting you to vote Republican, really wasn’t his [Jesus’] mission? Because Republican doesn’t automatically mean Christian.”

Could there be some message here that Bethke is trying to relay? Is it just to tell people that just because they are Republican doesn’t mean they are Christian? Surely not. A fourth grader could reason that out. It’s difficult not to believe there is some other message here that just happens to be taking place on an election year.

Just consider some of the things that were said by evangelical and emerging figures during the 2008 presidential election year. And think about what you are hearing today. A lot of people love the messages being sent out by people like Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, and let’s not forget Frank Viola and George Barna’s book, Pagan Christianity, where they condemn church practices like pastors, sermons, Sunday School, and pews, but say nothing about spiritual deception that has come into the church through the contemplative prayer movement. These latter two figures (Viola and Barna) give readers a feeling that they should hate Christianity but just love Jesus. But what Jesus are these voices writing, singing, and rapping about? It may be “another Jesus” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4).

As the world is gradually (but not too slowly anymore) heading toward a global government and global religion, it is becoming more and more apparent that this global society will be one where “tolerance” is the byword for everything other than biblical Christianity. And what better way to breed hatred toward biblical Christians than to say “we love Jesus but hate the church” (i.e., Christians and Christianity)? Perhaps they have forgotten what Jesus said:

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15: 18-19)

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14)

This report we have written may produce more questions than answers regarding things like politics, voting, the role of Christians in the world, the view the world has of Christians, and so forth. But while we have not answered such questions, we hope we have shown that indeed things are not always as they seem and that often what seems right may actually be from a deceiving angel of light and those who appear good may actually be only false ministers of righteousness.

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness. (2 Corinthians 11: 14-15)

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You are seeing an ever increasing number of humanistic thought and ideologies overwhelm virtually all of Christianity today. It is at the point where a majority of pastors and leaders have basically given up believing what the Bible says verbatim! This includes other topics such as suicide, an increasing number of confessing Christians have no problem with believing that a Christian who commits suicide goes straight to Heaven!!

from Pulpit and Pen:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

John Piper, a longtime figure in the New Calvinism movement, has proven himself in recent years to handle even the most basic doctrinal aspects of the Ordo Salutis clumsily. After butchering the doctrine of Justification almost beyond the point of recognition, being accused of holding to a modified form of Federal Vision or denying Sola Fide altogether (the accusations are not without merit), Piper’s Desiring God has now denied the heart and substance of the doctrine of Sanctification. While claiming that there is a “final justification” that is based on increased holiness, Piper’s website now argues that homosexuals cannot expect to be made holy, leaving them damned in their sins as a tragic and ironic result. Written by guest contributor, Jackie Hill Perry, and posted by Desiring God, an article on September 4 argues that we should stop telling gay people that God can make them straight.

To make the point of the insane levels of Downgrade in this argument, let me illustrate it in the following ways:

“Stop telling murderers that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from killing people.”

“Stop telling thieves that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from thieving.”

“Stop telling blasphemers that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from profaning his name.”

“Stop telling idolaters that if they come to Jesus, he will keep them from idolatry.”

The argument from Perry is sinister, sick, and perverse. That Desiring God would post the refuse is beyond incomprehensible. It is irresponsible, detestable, and destructive. In order to craft her narrative, Perry operates under the presumption that so-called  “Same-Sex Attraction (SSA)” – the Bible would call this the desire for sodomy from a depraved and fallen heart – is not a sin. Although a shocking proposition to many evangelicals who haven’t been paying attention, the line of thought that SSA is not a sin has become a common one, advocated for mostly by the same New Calvinists who are a part of the new “woke” Social Justice movement and they speak in terms of “gay Christians” and “sexual minorities.” Even more shockingly, Perry says that telling gay people that God can reorient their sinful hearts is a “different Gospel.”

She writes:

I know, I know, some of us Christians believe that we are only pointing our gay and lesbian friends to the miraculous. To the power of God to make all things and them new. Well-meaning believers, in an effort to encourage or cast vision to their same-sex attracted (SSA) friends or family, preach this gospel often. This gospel is not the good news of Jesus however, but another gospel. A gospel that I call “the heterosexual gospel.”

Calling something “another Gospel” is a damning accusation from Perry toward anyone who believes in the doctrine of Sanctification, the belief that the Holy Spirit will continue a work in us after salvation, giving us a new heart with new desires. Paul says that anyone who is preaching another Gospel is “accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Essentially, Perry places all right-thinking and orthodox Christian believers (who have always identified homosexual desire as a sin) under the Galatian curse.

The woman continues:

The heterosexual gospel is one that encourages SSA men and women to come to Jesus so that they can be straight, or it says that coming to Jesus ensures that they will be sexually attracted to the opposite sex.

Clearly, mortifying sin and becoming like Jesus is one of the reasons one should want to come to Christ. New Calvinists should have no problem looking to Owen’s Mortification of Sinto examine this point further.  In fact, a hatred of sin is a sign of the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion. Anyone with homosexual desires who God wants to save will want to come to Jesus to be straight (and to put to death the rest of their sin as well). Furthermore, we should rightly reject Perry’s claim that coming to Jesus won’t ensure they’ll be sexually attracted to those of the opposite sex, and we should clarify in the strongest terms that what the Scripture teaches (from the verse at the top of this article) is that if they don’t stop lusting after those of the same sex, they will have no part of Heaven.

Perry goes on to call heterosexuality “idolatry” and creates a false dilemma between “being straight” and “being made right with God.”

When the gospel is presented as “Come to Jesus to be straight,” instead of “Come to Jesus to be made right with God,” we shouldn’t be surprised when people won’t come to Jesus at all. If he is not the aim of their repentance, then he will not be believed as the ultimate aim of their faith. They will only exchange one idol for another and believe themselves to be Christian because of it.

While there are plenty of heterosexuals who are right with God, we can say with all the authority of Holy Scripture that there is no homosexual on Earth – anywhere – who is right with God. Romans 1 presents that sin in particular as a demonstration of lostness. Paul says that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God. In other words, while heterosexuality doesn’t make us right with God in and of itself, everyone right with God will be a heterosexual and their sexual desires will be properly oriented toward that which is natural and not grossly deviant.

Again, Perry’s argument doesn’t make any sense when applied to any other list of sins not championed by the religious left. At no point would you (or should you) hear Christians claim that the Holy Spirit’s work in our heart should not be expected in the life of a believer. Only in the most recent of days has homosexuality received a privileged, special status among evangelicals and the deviant desire seen as an exception to the power of the Spirit’s transforming work.

What the gay community needs to hear is not that God will make them straight, but that Christ can make them his.

First, there is no such thing as a “gay community.” Communities are built around shared values, not shared deviancies. We would not classify pedophiles, necrophiles, or murderers as a “community.” The nomenclature itself is compromised. Secondly, when Christ “makes them his,” he makes them straight. God has no homosexual children. That is the Scripture; deal with it.

God has not come mainly to make same-sex attracted men and women completely straight, or to get them hitched. Christ has come to make us right with God. And in making us right with God, he is satisfying us in God. That news is good for a reason. For it proclaims to the world that Jesus has come so that all sinners, gay and straight, can be forgiven of their sins to love God and enjoy him forever.

If the Spirit’s transformative work can’t make the sinner whole in Christ, then the news is not that good. What is missing from Perry’s article and John Piper’s Desiring God is any indication whatsoever that the doctrine of Sanctification even exists. It appears not even to be an afterthought or speedbump on her way to apostasy.

Perry claims that God has saved her out of the gay lifestyle, but uses her unique position as one of evangelicalism’s growing chorus of “gay Christian” voices to minimize the abomination of Same-Sex Attraction and preach against the work of the Holy Spirit to fully redeem sinners.

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The reason is obvious but people continue to ignore it: The Roman Catholic “Church” is a false church, a man made organization modeled on fallen humanistic power politics. From it’s founding it was in direct opposition to how a church should function. The Bishop of Rome wanted to gather power around himself, and used his position as the Bishop of the ancient seat of power in the Roman Empire to force other churches to submit to his rule! From there on out it was downhill!

from MSN:

With revelation after revelation, a new wave of sexual abuse scandals is rocking the Roman Catholic Church and presenting Pope Francis with the greatest crisis of his papacy.

In Chile, prosecutors have raided church offices, seized documents and accused leaders of a coverup. In Australia, top church figures are facing detention and trials. And in the United States, after the resignation of a cardinal, questions are swirling about a hierarchy that looked the other way and protected him for years.

The church has had more than three decades — since notable abuse cases first became public — to safeguard victims, and itself, against such system failures. And, in the past five years, many Catholics have looked to Francis as a figure who could modernize the church and help it regain its credibility.

But Francis’s track record in handling abuse is mixed, something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse institution.

Analysts who have studied the church’s response to sexual abuse, and several people who have advised the pope, say the Vatican has been unable to take the dramatic steps that can help an organization get out from under scandals — and avoid their repetition.

“Each new report of clerical abuse at any level creates doubt in the minds of many that we are effectively addressing this catastrophe in the Church,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, warned last month. Failure to take action, O’Malley said, “will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church.”

Francis is credited with some meaningful moves. Last month, he accepted the highest-level resignation to date when Theodore McCarrick stepped down from the College of Cardinals. The former archbishop of Washington and longtime church power broker is accused of sexually abusing adults and minors. He faces a church trial in which he could be defrocked entirely.

But the pope has also had notable missteps. During a January trip to South America, he drew widespread criticism by saying he was convinced of the innocence of Bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up the acts of a notorious abuser.

Francis sought to recover from that episode by sending two investigators to Chile, apologizing for his “serious errors” in handling the crisis and making a reference — unprecedented for a pope — to a “culture of abuse and coverup.” He invited Chilean abuse victims to the Vatican. He also called Chile’s 34 bishops to Rome, where, according to a letter that was leaked to the Chilean media, he accused them of failing to investigate possible crimes and destroying evidence. The bishops offered to step down en masse. So far, Francis has accepted five of those resignations.

Yet the church has struggled with a more comprehensive effort to close the chapter on sexual abuse.

Whereas transparency is typically advised, the church remains quiet about its investigations and disciplinary procedures. It does not release any data on the inquiries it has carried out. A proposed tribunal for judging bishops accused of negligence or coverup was quashed by the Vatican department that was supposed to help implement it. And, rather than being fired and publicly admonished, offending church leaders are typically allowed to resign without explanation.

“The church doesn’t like removing bishops,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and a senior analyst at the Religion News Service. “Bishops are vicars of Christ in their diocese. They’re not just McDonald’s franchise owners or local managers that can be fired by the CEO. And the church has always been reluctant to give in to political pressure to remove them.”

Francis has called on churches to maintain a “zero tolerance” policy and warned about the “sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power.” But the Vatican declined to distribute to bishops conferences suggested guidelines, drawn up by the commission advising Francis on sexual abuse, on how to respond to abuse complaints and cooperate with civil authorities.

Even when the Vatican does take action, resolution comes “at a very glacial pace,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, who was among the Chilean abuse victims who met for several days with Francis this past spring.

Cruz said he tried to tell the pope bluntly that a deeper shake-up was still needed. He specifically mentioned Francisco Javier ­Errázuriz, a member of the pope’s powerful nine-member advisory Council of Cardinals, who victims have long said ignored their abuse accusations and tried to discredit them. Errázuriz has denied wrongdoing.

“[The pope] asked us to give him time to act,” Cruz recalled. “He said, ‘I have to pray about this and let the Holy Spirit guide me on what I have to do.’ ”

Meanwhile, in the wider world, the cultural ground is shifting, and other forces are taking the lead on accountability.

A separate movement fighting abuse and harassment in the workplace has helped spread awareness about victims while diminishing skepticism about their stories.

At the same time, law enforcement agencies have been pursuing abuse cases in countries that once treated the church with deference. In Australia, some state and territory governments are even going after one of the church’s most sacred tenets and are on the verge of enforcing new laws requiring priests to report child abuse that they learn of during confessions. In the United States, the Catholic Church is bracing for the release of a 900-page grand jury report into sex crimes across six dioceses in Pennsylvania.

There have been competing calls within the American church on strengthening oversight of the hierarchy. Church leaders in Albany and Atlanta took the notable step of suggesting the involvement of expert laypeople, either to investigate or chart reforms.

“I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer,” said Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. “We bishops want to rise to this challenge, which may well be our last opportunity considering all that has happened.”

A similar conversation, about how to strengthen the response to abuse, has played out for several years in the Vatican — particularly within the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Francis created a year after he became pope. But little has come of the commission’s ideas.

In 2015, Francis approved its proposal of a tribunal, placed within the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office, that would assess cases of bishops accused of concealing or neglecting abuse. The tribunal, though, was never created. Four former members of the commission, as well as outside analysts, say the idea was thwarted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some outside analysts say the objection could have been on legal or logistical grounds.

In an interview published last year with the Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, then the head of the doctrine office, said the Vatican already had the “tools and legal means” to handle cases. Vatican watcher Marco Politi said congregation members and others in the Vatican hierarchy were also concerned about opening a “Pandora’s box.”

“This would mean hundreds of cases that would then bounce back to Rome with a huge media impact,” said Politi, author “Pope Francis Among the Wolves,” a papal biography. “It would signify the beginning of hunting season on culprits.”

In turn, Francis used another method to bolster accountability of the church hierarchy, issuing an apostolic letter that made it clear that bishops could be removed from office for negligently handling sexual abuse. But under the current system, any of five different Vatican congregations can be involved in investigating bishops, depending on the accused person’s role and affiliation within the church, and also on whether he has been accused of coverup or abuse. Coverup cases are handled by the same congregations that help to appoint bishops.

“It’s a potential conflict of interest,” said Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. “That’s absolutely an issue.”

The stalled effort to launch the tribunal prompted the resignation from the commission of Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor. Current and former members of the commission said that they are not given data and information on abuse-related cases being handled by the Vatican. Krysten Winter-Green, a former commission member who was a longtime counselor for abuse victims, said they were up against a “domain of secrecy.”

“The crime in the Catholic Church remains causing scandal, not covering up,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the site BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sexual abuse cases. “Bishops all over the world are not being forthcoming.”

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