Saturday, 1 April 2017

FLEECING THE FLOCK - THE INIQUITOUS IMPOSITION OF TITHING IN WELSH "WORD OF FAITH / PROSPERITY GOSPEL" CHURCHES.

"But before faith came, we were kept under the law, 
shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, 
that we might be justified by faith. 
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus."
(Galatians 3:23-26)

But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law."
(Galatians 5:18)


One of the most far-reaching and malignant of maladies in contemporary Christianity has been the gangrenous growth of what has become known as the Word of Faith (or simply Word-Faith) movement, which preaches the so-called "prosperity gospel." This, it is critically important to observe, is "another gospel" and so no Gospel at all! (Galatians 1:6-8). Not Good News for sure, but exceedingly Bad News!

Many are the spiritual deviances promoted by Word of Faith adherents, but one particular practice that is the nefarious norm in such churches and which I want to focus on in this article is the iniquitous imposition of tithing.

Iniquitous? Yes, indeed! Any teaching that runs contrary to Biblical truth is iniquitous! Firstly, I must emphasize that I am in no way speaking here against the principle of giving, for righteous and proper purposes, which is something that the New Testament most certainly supports and encourages. What I am highlighting here is the legalistic and completely unscriptural application of a church members' taxation system.


THE BIBLICAL TITHE

"And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham."
(Hebrews 7:5)

So what exactly was the tithe, from a correct Biblical perspective? Well, the first thing to take note of is that MONEY did not come into the equation! The tithe was all about EDIBLE assets! The Levites, comprising the Kohanim (the priests) and those of the tribe who were not Kohanim but had other religious or political duties, were not allocated any territory of their own as was the case with all the other tribes. They were instead granted a total of 48 cities across Israel, each set within a narrow verge of "borrowed" land extending a mere 1000 cubits - approximately 500 yards - around the walls, a small area which would allow some grazing space for the tithed animals brought to them. (See Numbers 35 and Joshua 21). Being thus unable to produce their own foodstuffs, God instituted the tithing system whereby the farming tribes were to give a tenth part of their meat, fruit and crops to sustain the Levites, who were not to be distracted from their designated duties by more mundane considerations. Tithes were taken to the Levite cities, from where a portion was delivered to Jerusalem to feed those engaged in Temple activities. (See Nehemiah 10).

Please don't take my word for it. Follow the Bereans' good example, and search out the Scriptures for yourself. Fact is, ALL Biblical references to tithing confirm it was FOOD! Here are a few examples to prove this important point:

"And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, 
or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD." 
(Leviticus 27:30)

"And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD."
(Leviticus 27:32)

"Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, 
that the field bringeth forth year by year."
(Deuteronomy 14:22)

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, 
that there may be meat in mine house..."
(Malachi 3:10)



QUITE APART FROM THIS CONSIDERATION THAT THE TITHE WAS ONLY FOOD, WE SHOULD WELL NOTE THAT TITHING ONLY EVER APPLIED TO THE HISTORICAL NATION OF ISRAEL. IT HAS NEVER BEEN APPLICABLE TO GENTILES OF ANY ERA. 

Nowhere in the New Testament is to be found any justification whatsoever for transferring this Israelite, tribe-specific arrangement to the Church. Nowhere. The plain truth of the matter is that with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and the Diaspora, tithing had become a completely redundant institution. It had served its purpose, until that purpose ceased to exist. A New Covenant had been established, and post-Calvary the Mosaic Law of tithing had no place.

We pay tax to the Government of the land, a statutory obligation; we render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. The imposition of a second income tax payable by church members to the church leadership is a very convenient and most lucrative fund-raising contrivance, a word we might just shorten to con. I'm not mincing my words here; I'm saying it as it is. Anyone who teaches that tithing is a requirement of members of the Body is not upholding Scripture but perverting it, and no, that is not too strong a word to use. This is a different gospel, a most incredibly serious matter!

THERE IS NO LEVY ON BELONGING TO THE LORD!

Give by all means, from your means, as you are so led and able. But it must be clearly understood that such contribution is firmly a free-will offering, which when given in the right spirit for correct Christian purposes is pleasing to God and fully in accordance with His Word. Tithing is something altogether different: it's symptomatic of the empire-building of today's Laodicean leaders, and alien to the Kingdom-building of Christ. Any church that is misappropriating funds from the flock in this way should be studiously marked and carefully avoided.


THE TITHE IN WELSH "WORD OF FAITH / PROSPERITY GOSPEL" CHURCHES

Newport is undoubtedly the epicentre of the Word of Faith movement's alternative gospel in Wales, with notable tremors extending along the M4 corridor at least as far as Bridgend, which we'll come to presently. Firstly, though, we need to look at the central role played by King's Church and the man who was its long-time Senior Pastor, Ray Bevan, in the advance of Word of Faith concepts here in Wales. (His then Associate Pastor Dave Edwards has now taken charge, while Mr. Bevan has gone on to broadcast his own show with TBN, which is without a doubt the loudest echoing voice of the so-called "prosperity gospel" on the planet).

I'd like for a moment, if I may, to digress slightly from my focus on tithing in order to emphasize Ray Bevan's proven embrace of and regurgitating of Word of Faith beliefs, by reference to his recent book, 'Grace Shouts Louder.' (Rayla Ministries, 2015). Whilst I'd like to quote directly from this work, I have to avoid the possibility of being charged with copyright infringement. (Mr. Bevan has previously impressed upon me that - regardless of 1 Corinthians 6:1 - he is not averse to threatening people with legal action!) But I can refer my readers to an online source where his exact words can be found, if you would wish to verify the facts of the matter:


In a nutshell, the author here teaches one of the central tenets of Word of Faith theology, that when Adam sinned in Eden, Satan was thereby given legal right to rule the earth. Satan now had very much the upper hand, and God had completely lost His authority and somehow had to find a way to reclaim it. And so He devised a cunning plan to win his sovereignty back, kicking off with the Incarnation...

FRIENDS, IF FOR EVEN ONE NANO-SECOND GOD LOST HIS AUTHORITY, HE WOULD NOT BE GOD! IF HE WAS FOR ONE NANO-SECOND PUSHED INTO A CORNER, HIS BACK UP AGAINST THE WALL, AND FORCED TO DREAM UP SOME SCHEME TO RECLAIM LEGAL RIGHT TO THE EARTH AND HUMANITY, HE WOULD NOT BE GOD! HE IS THE ALMIGHTY, OMNISCIENT, TRANSCENDENT CREATOR AND PERMANENT LEGAL OWNER OF ALL THAT IS, AND WAS, AND WILL BE! HIS WORD UNEQUIVOCALLY PROCLAIMS THIS GREAT TRUTH:


"The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof;
the world, and they that dwell therein."
(Psalm 24:1)

To declare that it has ever been otherwise, is quite simply a denial of the eternal complete Sovereignty of God, and a most heinous heresy. Did the Psalmist, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the period between the Fall and the Incarnation, record a LIE when he wrote this testimony? For if Mr. Bevan's WoF theology is correct, then the wording should have been, "The earth is SATAN'S, and the fulness thereof..." 

But playing fast and loose with the Scriptures does not trouble such a man as this. He goes on to declare, in respect of the supposed power of believers, that we can call those things which are not as though they are. No, Mr. Bevan, only God Himself can do that! Besides which, to make this assertion, you have wretchedly twisted the relevant verse, which actually reads:

"And base things of the world, and things which are despised, 
hath God chosen, yea, 
and things which are not, TO BRING TO NOUGHT things that are."
(1 Corinthians 1:28 - my capitalization)

Having so blasphemously demoted God to the position of being an impotent mere spectator of world affairs until He was able to concoct a cunning plan to regain control, Ray Bevan proceeds to teach the validity of tithing and to slur anyone who would dare to challenge this. The point here is that if Ray Bevan cannot be trusted to even teach properly on the eternally immutable nature of God Himself, how can he possibly be trusted to teach properly on the things of God? The sad and simple answer is that he can't be.

More wrong teaching pours from the pages of 'Grace Shouts Louder' as the author attempts to synthesize grace and law, calling tithing grace-based which is an utter contradiction in terms. Tithing is law, and binding. Grace is, well, grace, and liberating... allowing one to give freely according to the decisions of one's own heart, not the dictates of a leadership which thinks nothing of abusing the Word of God to re-activate rules which were completely superseded  by the Cross! 

Notable is Mr. Bevan's scathing and self-righteous condemnation of those who would rightly question the correctness of 21st. century tithing, as being Word-ignorant misers who do not trust God. This is pure - actually IMpure - emotional blackmail. For who would wish to have their Pastor and fellow-worshipers see them as being mean and immature Christians? To avoid being branded as such, folks are thus cynically manipulated into doing something to please men rather than to please God, the absolute reversal of how things should be. (See Galatians 1:10). If truth be told, this is not grace shouting louder; this is Ray Bevan shouting louder than grace!

Oh, and BTW Mr. Bevan, true grace never shouts. True grace speaks only in a still small voice... no thundering, just the gentlest of whispers...


ROBBIE HOWELLS AND HEATH VAN STADEN - TWO "PROSPERITY PIPPINS!"


I have given some emphasis here in this article to the skewed teachings of Ray Bevan, not just to draw attention to how King's was shaped under his controlling influence, but to alert people to how this has birthed two other similar operations in the same city.

As the old saying goes, the apple never falls far from the tree, and two such apples dropped off the King's bough, only to land elsewhere in Newport! The first such apple to feel the gravitational pull was Robbie Howells, who established his own Word of Faith operation called Newport City Church, to all intents and purposes a clone of King's complete with the inevitable tithing policy. An article on Robbie Howells and NCC, highlighting the very real concerns about them can be found here:

The second "Prosperity Pippin" to more recently branch out on his own (if you'll excuse the extended apple tree metaphor) was Heath Van Staden, who had been the Youth and Children's Pastor at King's. His Liberty Church was launched 31/1/15 with himself and wife Leah installed as Lead Elders, an outfit again aping King's and rather unsurprisingly implementing tithing as the essential basis of its finances.

(Who someone follows on Twitter can be very revealing as to their theological leanings, and when Mr. Van Staden follows the likes of Mark Driscoll, Bill Hybels, Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren, Richard Branson (!), Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Casey Treat... need I say more?)


ALEX ASHTON AND THE VINE CHRISTIAN CENTRE IN BRIDGEND

A little way west along the M4 and we come to Bridgend and The Vine Christian Centre, Alex Ashton's own bastion of the Word of Faith/Prosperity gospel. I have had previous occasion to write of Mr. Ashton's apostate partnering with Kenneth Copeland - probably the biggest name in the whole "name-it-and-claim-it" brigade - and his complete lack of any response to my approaches to him on the subject. Please see:

http://watchman4wales.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-compilation-of-shocking-kenneth.html


The Vine operates tithing, and the "give-to-get" ethos typically engendered by Word of Faith false teaching on "health and wealth" is so very sadly evidenced here in The Vine's 'Tithe and Offering Confession,' this information being garnered from a visitor who personally witnessed a congregational chant along the following lines in a service there a few years ago:

Tithe and Offering Confession:

As we give today's offering,
We are believing the Lord for:
Jobs and better jobs,
Raises and bonuses,
Benefits and settlements,
Sales and commissions,
Estates and inheritances,
Interests and income,
Rebates and returns,
Cheques in the mail,
Gifts and surprises,
Find money,
Debts paid off,
Royalties received.
It's offering time -
Hallelujah!

Nothing whatsoever of believing the Lord for the advance of His Kingdom, only for the furtherance of one's own self-interests; the Gospel of grace has here grotesquely morphed into a gospel of greed.


JERRY SAVELLE AT THE VINE, BRIDGEND AND NEWPORT CITY CHURCH

As the guest of Welsh Word of Faith frontmen Robbie Howells and Alex Ashton, one of the Prosperity wolf-pack's hungriest wool-wearers is about to trot through the wide open doors of their respective sheepfolds. As part of his UK tour, Jerry Savelle will be at Newport City Church on 3rd. April, and at The Vine on 4th. April. If I might resort to using a musical analogy, Savelle is a one man Copeland tribute band, playing all the superstar's tunes with great gusto; if you can't get to a Copeland gig, Savelle would be the next best (worst!) thing.

If you should doubt for one moment Savelle's allegiances, see his fawning "Beautiful Are Their Feet" December 2016 tribute to Ken and Gloria Copeland here:

Birds of a feather indeed flock together, and that includes vultures...


It's more than interesting and relevant to record that Robbie Howells (full name Robert George Howells), like Alex Ashton before him, can now record on his CV a close collaboration with Copeland. He has been a Director on the Board of Kenneth Copeland Ministries (UK and Europe) since June, 2015. He also holds a Directorship in John Bevere's Messenger International Limited (UK and Europe); Mr. Bevere, it goes without saying, also perches on the selfsame rotten Word of Faith/Prosperity gospel branch. Mr. Howells' CV, you will find, tells us that he's a graduate of a certain Bible Institute and School of World Evangelism. Yes, it's the one run by Jerry Savelle Ministries International... 'Nuff said!

Very interesting to note too is that Jerry Savelle's UK and Europe office is located just a few miles to the east in Chepstow, and banks in Newport. The Administrator and UK Senior Pastor is Geoffrey Howard Rouch, a one-time business partner of Ray Bevan. One of the 5 trustees is Damian Pugh, who plays drums at Robbie Howells' Newport City Church. In such ways it can be glimpsed how the strands of the same WoF web interconnect, both historically and contemporaneously.


CONCLUSION

Of course, it's not only Word of Faith churches that have implemented tithing. In the Restorationist camp, for example, churches like the grandly-named 'Nationchangers' here in Merthyr Tydfil, have taken the same wrong route. We might note that none of these leaders who are so avidly applying the Mosaic Law of tithing are anything like as keen to apply the Mosaic Law of circumcision. Somehow, persuading people to part with their foreskin doesn't seem to have quite the same attractiveness as persuading them to part with their cash!

Through Christ's finished work on the Cross, we live under grace and not under law. The old has been superseded by the new. As the Scriptures gloriously declare:

"For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; 
by the which we draw nigh unto God...
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises."
(Hebrews 7:19, 8:6)

AND SO, MY FRIENDS, LET US REJOICE IN AND CLEAVE TO THAT WHICH IS BETTER! FOR THE LAW IS OUR PAST CONDEMNATION, BUT GRACE IS OUR PRESENT ABSOLUTION. AND IF THE SON HAS MADE US FREE, THEN WE ARE FREE INDEED! (John 8:36)

* * * * * * *

One final thought. I could suggest referring to Word of Faith as Word of LAODICEAN Faith, from which accurate appellation we'd derive the most appropriate acronym:


         
    
"WOLF!"

* * * * * * *

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

ROY GODWIN AND FFALD-Y-BRENIN RETREAT CENTRE - A KEY FORMER EMPLOYEE HERE SHARES HER SOBERING TESTIMONY.

"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed;
neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops."
(Luke 12:2-3)

Grace outpoured on all... except the staff?


What follows is the heartfelt personal account of a key former employee of Roy Godwin at the Ffald-y-Brenin Retreat Centre in Pembrokeshire, of her harrowing experiences there. It is no small thing for her to share what she has here; I know from having met with this very plucky and principled Christian lady, whose integrity shines through, that her soul-searching over all this has been considerable indeed. I greatly commend her for her decision to make her concerns a matter of public record, solely in the interests of the truth being told. So without further preamble from myself, here is Jane's sobering testimony:

I’ve thought and prayed long and hard about whether to write something and post it here.  To be able to put down in words that which I experienced whilst working for Roy Godwin at Ffald y Brenin, I do not approach lightly.  It is a very serious matter to discuss another individual publicly.  However, I am greatly challenged by Rob Thomas’ desire to see the truth exposed.  I see how easy it is for us Christians to ‘sweep things under the carpet’, or not to ‘rock the boat’.  I have felt it too and no more so than whilst working at Ffald y Brenin and particularly following my exit that I should be silent about my experience since to talk about it somehow curtails the work of God, is an affront to God, sabotages those who might be on the verge of receiving God or any other number of different messages that people think about in a situation such as this.  But it is clear to me that it’s not about being ‘nice’ or making allowances, which quite ably allows what is not quite the truth to continue on it’s way. 
I came to faith out of a great suffering and love the Lord as I know that so many others do.  I have so often questioned my own part in my time working for Roy Godwin, I have rent my heart before God, have wanted to come to some other conclusion but sadly, do believe that things are not quite right. Please don’t misunderstand me, I do not expect perfection, as I know that is not achievable, but there does seem to lie the problem with Roy Godwin, who I found to expect it and whom I found to be uncomfortable with his own imperfection and worse is prone to a spiritual bullying that is very uncomfortable for those subject to it.
Now I am not a theologian or scholarly in any shape or form but I know the peace of God and the day that it was imparted to me was an incredible day.  Furthermore, trusting in God enabled me to learn more, harvest more of the treasures of heaven and in particular become more comfortable with myself and to embrace my imperfection.  Most of all, a gift of discernment together with my own walk in darkness prior to being born again has given me a rich understanding of the wiliness of the world.  I know the heart is deceitful and that mine can also be.
I would have to write a book to say how things were but the gist of it was much to do with a spiritual bullying and the devaluing and disempowerment of others.  This done in such a surreptitious and underhand way that it is difficult to put your finger on and very difficult to put into words.  My antennae went up on day one of working with him, however, when I was told that two of my predecessors were ‘awful’.   Perhaps I am just too sensitive, as I knew straight off that if he could talk of others in that way, then he could quite obviously talk of me in that way.  Moreover, I was not issued with a contract or given any details prior to joining in regard to salary or exactly what would be required.  Whenever I asked, I was fobbed off with, ‘we are very relaxed here’.  Clue no 1.  What you want is not important…  It became clearer and clearer to me that it was all about Roy Godwin and what he wanted.  At first, I was confused since I believed I might find something different to the world in the way in which Ffald y Brenin was run but in fact what I found was something worse than I had experienced in the world.  His attitude was very authoritarian and I do believe that most of the staff were and are afraid of him.  Certainly, nobody dared to challenge him.  Staff were able to relax more at lunchtimes when both Roy & Daphne were not around when the atmosphere was markedly different.  One new staff member asked me about my background and where and how I got to Ffald y Brenin only to be told by Roy Godwin that ‘we don’t talk about people’s backgrounds here’.  I’ll leave that one for you to ponder on but perhaps he didn’t want to talk about his, but I certainly don’t mind talking about mine, warts and all.  All of this done under the guise of what a wonderful family we are. 
The one question I found myself asking so often was ‘does it matter what sort of person evangelises and runs a Christian centre?’  If we are all imperfect and God uses imperfect people, surely it doesn’t?  I came to know the answer as yes, it does matter - if that person doesn’t trust God in their own lives and uses Him for their own purposes, then it certainly does matter.  That is indeed a very serious matter in the kingdom of God.
There was much more that I will not go into detail about here but God brought me to a place of speaking to Roy Godwin about my experience of him and it seemed for a time things got better.  And then worse…. Sadly, my confidence was eroded to the extent that I just got up and left at the end of the June conference 2016.  I wrote in a letter my reasons for doing so and received a letter back from Roy which confirmed for me beyond doubt what this person is capable of. I was greatly saddened and 
upset to see the lies that he had written about me.   I wonder why if I was so bad at my job he had not mentioned it whilst I was there?  I am quite sure that a man of integrity and who had reached adulthood in Christ, would have come to speak to me personally on the subject. 
You may be wondering why I believe my experience is necessary to be brought into the light …. And no, it is not because I am bitter or unforgiving, but rather because I am extremely concerned about how people are led to believe something without understanding fully whence it comes.  We so often take people at face value and believe in them!  I have many times in the past visited a conference and thought how amazing somebody is without looking at who the person really is.  It is so important that we seek Jesus directly as it is He who will heal us and guide us – we must not seek Him through others and we must certainly test what we see and hear.  Worse still, is how easily we are hoodwinked when we want desperately to believe in something, how we can easily kid ourselves that something will be different or change if we just go along with it for a while.  Worse still again, when we see things that are not quite right but ignore them because we have managed to idolise or glorify that person in some way.  Sadly, I was guilty of these things too and wanted to believe that we were a family.  However, families share their lives, their hearts, their feelings and their desires… - that was not my experience of Roy and Daphne Godwin.   I find that very sad as I ponder on how different things could be.
I know that I am a lone voice here and this, of course, is my word against his.  But, I am comforted in the knowledge that God knows and reminds me in Psalm 23: ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.’

* * * * * * *

When I wrote about Roy Godwin recently I did not question his personal sincerity, only his determinedly errant and frankly dangerous theological departures. But as the full extent of the problems at Ffald-y-Brenin under his Executive Directorship comes to light, it becomes clear that his sincerity is indeed all too questionable, his much-praised public persona sadly proving to be just an elaborate front and part of the carefully created illusion of sanctity and sanctuary that is Ffald-y-Brenin.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, 
and if there be any praise, think on these things."
(Philippians 4:8)

* * * * * * *


POSTSCRIPT 

This month, 14/15 March 2017, Ffald-y-Brenin is holding a Conference on 'A NEW MONASTICISM.' Part of the blurb reads:

"The Desert Fathers and early monastic communities became powerful sources of renewal for local churches again and again."

The truth of the matter is that these, rather than being sources of renewal, were in fact fountainheads of apostasy! Please see:

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

ROY GODWIN AND FFALD-Y-BRENIN RETREAT CENTRE - A "THIN PLACE" WHERE CHRISTIANITY AND CELTIC MYSTICISM MEET!

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
(Colossians 2:8)




A "THIN PLACE"

In the remote west of Wales is a Christian retreat centre called Ffald-y-Brenin, which translates from the Welsh as The Sheepfold of the King. The "mother house" of Local Houses of Prayer, it is held in extremely high regard by many people internationally as a place of prayer and healing (though strangely enough for a location apparently favoured by God as a place of healing, its own website advises that it is unsuitable for the disabled to visit!)

Roy Godwin, its Executive Director, holds it to be "a thin place, where heaven and earth seem to overlap." (Ref. http://www.roygodwin.org/portfolio/ffald-y-brenin/ ). Mr. Godwin's personal perception of Ffald-y-Brenin as a "thin place" should in itself be a rather large red flag for any discerning Christian who holds to uncompromising Biblical truth, as so-called "thin places" are nowhere to be found in the Word of God, actually being a completely pagan concept, a product of pre-Christian Celtic mythology and occult mysticism. Or, as we might pointedly observe with reference to the Scripture above, a "vain deceit, after the tradition of men... and not after Christ."

Roy Godwin's disturbing departure from orthodoxy and entry into the realm of the mystical is intrinsically connected to his great enthusiasm for Celtic Christianity, which it is critically important to observe was simply a branch and expression of Roman Catholicism, with all its attendant elements of paganism in what has always been a deeply syncretic belief structure. Such a concoction was born of political expediency on the part of the Roman Empire, cleverly melding together its diverse cultural religiosity and thereby assisting immeasurably in maintaining the 'Pax Romana' or 'Roman Peace.'

That Roy Godwin has no real understanding of the true nature of the cult of Roman Catholicism and the deadly deceptive spirit that drives it, is evidenced in a very revealing interview he gave with 'Good News,' which is the magazine of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the UK:


"Although Roy says that he was brought up in a protestant context with a mistrust of Catholics, through his own personal journey, he has come to appreciate the riches of Catholic spirituality."

"This is why we need each other. None of us are it. We bring different gifts and the only way we become the Church of God is to share our spiritual riches." 
- Roy Godwin

Er, no Roy... actually, the only way we become the Church of God is by studiously resisting syncretic fusions and being totally uncompromising on the Faith whose foundation was Rock-solidly laid by the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the Lord Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and does not descend at the behest of a Catholic priest (blasphemously called Father) at each and every Eucharist. Let's say it as it is. There are NO riches in Catholic spirituality, only abominations like the Mass, the RC doctrine of transubstantiation incontestably holding that the wafer and wine become the actual flesh and blood of Christ, then to be consumed in the pagan rite of god-eating! Truly NO Christian riches in Catholic spirituality, Roy, only heathen abominations...



A FALSE FAITH ON THE SHELVES

The 'Good News' article reveals Godwin's extremely worrying predilection for, and promotion of, the works of Henri Nouwen:


"Henri Nouwen whose books are in the Ffald-y-Brenin bookshop, in particular is a great favourite. He comments, "He could be writing just for me."

Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest, a mystic, panentheist and Universalist whose thinking was formulated by the profound influence of Eastern religious traditions, which led to his great belief in contemplative prayer, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity and everything to do with Hindu/Buddhist meditation. And such meditation is a deeply occult practice, designed to enable one to enter an altered state of consciousness ("the silence") and commune with the "god" that supposedly dwells within us all. 


"The quiet repetition of a single word {i.e. using a mantra} can help us to descend with the mind into the heart {i.e. enter "the silence"}... This way of simple prayer... opens us to God's active presence."
- Henri Nouwen, in 'The Way of the Heart'


Consider if you will these shocking Word-denying and God-defying Nouwen quotes:

"Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God."
- Henri Nouwen, in 'Sabbatical Journey'

"The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being."
- Henri Nouwen, in 'Here and Now'

"Prayer is soul work because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one... 
It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is."
- Henri Nouwen, in 'Bread for the Journey'

The unity of all that is. God is in all, and all is in God. Panentheism. Which makes God one with Satan, and Satan one with God. Blasphemy. And Roy Godwin says that an extreme heretic like this could be writing just for him? The works of a man who denies that Jesus is the only way, averring that we can claim our own way to God in blatant contradiction of John 14:6, are not only lauded but sold at Ffald-y-Brenin? Is it not obvious that something is very seriously amiss here?

 Nouwen galore: a false faith on the shelves of the FYB bookshop

It's more than relevant to note that Nouwen's theology is inseparably intertwined with that of Thomas Merton, a much acclaimed fellow Roman Catholic mystic, who has been hugely influential in bringing Hindu/Buddhist style centering meditation (commonly referenced and sanitized as contemplative prayer) into mainstream evangelicalism. And yes, the Ffald-y-Brenin bookshop is also a purveyor of Merton's similarly deadly departures from the true Faith!



You'll note that on the shelf above and alongside Merton's 'Contemplative Prayer' are volumes on Celtic Christianity by Ian Bradley, including his 'Colonies of Heaven,' a description cited by Roy Godwin in his own book 'The Grace Outpouring' in reference to the liturgical spirituality of the Celtic community: "It was reflecting heaven. Heaven was touching earth. The dynamic of the kingdom was made present. A colony of heaven was being established. The liturgy was priming the pump." (p144-5). So is Ian Bradley an author to be read and trusted by a born-again believer? In answering this question I'll refer to two particular books penned by him.

The first is 'Grace, Order, Openness and Diversity: Reclaiming Liberal Theology' and I'll quote here from Amazon's summary:


"This title presents a powerful re-statement of Liberal Protestantism for the twenty first century, especially alive to the imperative of inter faith dialogue and understanding... Ian Bradley presents fundamentalism... as the great twentieth century heresy and aberration. He identifies and seeks to reclaim for the twenty first century a liberal theological tradition existing in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the other major world faiths."

The second is 'God is Green: Ecology for Christians' and I'll again refer to Amazon's summary:


"In God is Green, Ian Bradley recovers the green heart of Christianity - a God who clothes wildflowers in splendor; reminds Job of his humble part in the cosmic drama; and sends a COSMIC CHRIST {my capitals} to ennoble and perfect all of creation... By plumbing the Bible, the writings of the early Christians and of the Celtic Christian Church, and the testimony of MYSTICS {my capitals} through the ages, Bradley shows that a sacred world is at the heart of Christian belief."

Reclaiming a liberal theology? The imperative of inter faith dialogue and understanding? Fundamentalism is the great 20th. century heresy and aberration? The testimony of mystics? A COSMIC CHRIST? Clearly, Bradley is about as sound as a plastic pound!

It is important to note that the Ffald-y-Brenin bookshop is also very well-stocked with the works of Bill and Beni Johnson, the Senior Pastors of Bethel "Church" in Redding, California. This has to be one of the unsafest "Christian" couples on the planet, their "Christianity" having all the authenticity of a paste diamond, with Bethel having far more in common with sorcery and New Age mystical spirituality than with Biblical Christianity. From gold dust to glory clouds, from falling feathers to fire tunnels, from floating orbs to a born-again "Jesus," from waking up sleeping angels to grave-sucking necromancy, absolutely anything goes at Bethel under the Johnsons' (mis)leadership. But hey, why worry about little details like that when their books have such glossy covers and look so pretty on the shelves...

"... another Jesus... another spirit... another gospel..." (2 Cor. 11:4)

 A group of students from Bill Johnson's Bethel School of the Supernatural engage 
in sucking up Evan Roberts' anointing from his grave at Loughor in South Wales...

And here's Beni Johnson herself, soaking up the anointing 
off C.S. Lewis's bones by lying on his grave in Oxford. 
She also uses a 528HZ tuning fork for prophetic purposes...

The Ffald-y-Brenin bookshop can thus lamentably be seen to be recklessly disseminating to the unsuspecting an alternative form of faith that is assuredly NOT the true Faith, but instead a deeply fallacious mystical New Age delusion, a cunning counterfeit of Biblical Christianity inspired not by the Holy Spirit but by a subtle and seducing utterly unclean spirit, working stealthily out of the war-camp of the Enemy!


DANCING IN THE MUDDY PUDDLES OF "THE LATTER RAIN"


"The Seven Mountains Mandate" of the NAR
  
It's also unfortunately rather relevant to record here that Bill Johnson is widely lauded as an Apostle of the New Apostolic Reformation, C. Peter Wagner's hot-bed of dire Dominionist deception which claims to have a mandate to take over all aspects of human society everywhere, and establish the Kingdom on earth BEFORE the return of Jesus Christ. It is a worldview in which human endeavour has the victory, and the Lord is relegated to being a mere passive bystander who will not - indeed some say cannot! - come back until His Kingdom is set up for Him! It presents an eschatology which can only be properly described as a doctrine of demons, and yet Roy Godwin has no qualms at all about associating himself with such "Latter Rain" deviancy. He has very close connections with the re-opened Bible College of Wales in Swansea (where he has taught) and their Far Eastern overlords, the Cornerstone Community Church of Singapore (where he has preached), whose Senior Pastor is Yang Tuck Yoong, a man with huge hyper-Charismatic and Dominionist sympathies. He is the organizer of Cornerstone's annual 'Kingdom Invasion' jamboree, which plays host to some of the biggest names in the skewed world of Charismania and the New Apostolic Reformation. This year's 'Kingdom Invasion' in mid-March will be no exception, with the inevitable Bill Johnson headlining alongside Heidi Baker, Lou Engle, Ed Silvoso and Shawn Bolz, who are all some of the most luminous stars in the NAR galaxy. We should also well note that it was Lou Engle and fellow NAR frontman Dutch Sheets who led the celebrations of the re-opening of the Swansea Bible College. 



"A NEW MONASTICISM" AND "HOUSES OF PRAYER"

At the core of Ffald-y-Brenin-style spirituality is "a new monasticism." Formerly known as The Caleb Community, but now re-branded as The Caleb Connection, I'll let them describe it in their own words, as found in the picture below:


OK. If they were really rooted in the Scriptures as they claim, there's no way that they would "dig the wells of the Desert Fathers (and mothers), Celtic Christianity and centuries of Monastic spiritual heritage!" Monasticism, with its attendant "daily rhythm of communal prayer" as adopted by Ffald-y-Brenin, is quite simply a completely unScriptural invention of Roman Catholicism, and Celtic Christianity as we've already observed was just a branch and expression of Catholicism. As for the Desert Fathers, they were RC mystic contemplatives who were the bridgehead for the arrival of Hindu/Buddhist pagan practices in the "Church," utterly unChristian practices which have since flourished in our own times like Japanese knotweed under the likes of Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Keating, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Tony Campolo and others; the so-called Emerging Church is thoroughly infested with such practices, as is the NAR's Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer in Kansas City. Be very careful, my friends, when it comes to 'Houses of Prayer,' for just how prayer is perceived, practiced and promoted in such an establishment could well prove in reality to be way off beam - and quite wildly so! 

It really is food for thought that the Bible references a "house of prayer" only in the context of the Temple in Jerusalem (Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46), a structure which has not existed since 70 A.D. In fact, we would do well to consider that since under the New Covenant it is the born-again believer who is now the temple, the abode of God in the Third Person (1 Corinthians 6:19), then it is actually our own bodies which are a "house of prayer" unto the Lord, and not any external location. 


ROY GODWIN'S TEACHING ON PRAYER AND "RELEASING GOD'S BLESSING"

Quite apart from noting the great impact that contemplatives with their altered consciousness inducing methods of "prayer" have had on him, Roy Godwin's perception of and teaching on prayer as recorded in the Spring 2015 magazine of Anglican Renewal Ministries (Wales) raises further very concerning questions about his approach to this vitally important facet of Christian life:


"As a follower of Jesus you are given the enormous and challenging responsibility of SEIZING HOLD OF HEAVEN, SPEAKING WORDS AND NOT LETTING GO UNTIL YOU HAVE RECEIVED ON EARTH ACCORDING TO YOUR REQUESTS." {my capitals for emphasis}

"One of the prime purposes of prayer is that we might receive what we ask for."

 Here Roy comments on 'The Lord's Prayer' as taught by Jesus:


"In this teaching lie the fundamentals about Christian prayer. We are taught to bring ourselves into agreement with heaven's purposes which are eminently practical. WE ARE TO INVOKE THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM SO THAT THE RULE OF GOD MAY HOLD SWAY OVER THE LIFE AND LOCALITY OF WHEREVER WE ARE, LIBERATING OUR NEIGHBOURS AND NEIGHBOURHOOD TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT IT LOOKS LIKE HEAVEN. AND WE ARE NOT TO STOP ASKING UNTIL WE RECEIVE." {my capitals for emphasis}
(Source: http://www.anglicanrenewalministries-wales.org.uk/Magazines/Spring%202015.pdf )

Is he right? Well... actually... NO! We are not in any sense to seize hold of heaven, never mind not let go until we've received according to our requests. This is not ASKING God, it is COMMANDING Him! Is not a key aspect of the Lord's Prayer, THY will be done? Fact is, He knows infinitely better than ourselves which petitions to assent to and which to refuse. And if the latter applies, absolutely no amount of nagging God will change His mind. He is Sovereign. In point of fact, Jesus Himself taught in no uncertain terms AGAINST doing such a thing, calling such unremitting behaviour a PAGAN practice and expectation:

"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."
(Matthew 6:7)



Wasn't even the Apostle Paul's petition for the removal of his "thorn" declined three times? Did Paul refuse to let go until He received that which he had requested? No! The "thorn" was for a purpose, and he humbly submitted to the will of His Lord, whose grace as Scripture testifies is sufficient. (2 Corinthians 12:9). Are we to stand in contradiction of such sufficiency, demonstrating by our determined actions that we hold His grace to be INsufficient in our circumstances? 

Have we the ability to control God? Do we really have the power in prayer to "release God's blessing" over people and indeed the land also, a concept which has become such an essential constituent part of Ffald-y-Brenin's spiritual make-up?


"On Fridays blessings are prayed over the neighbourhood, the flocks and the herds, the teachers and pupils and marriages... For Roy this was a revelation and a totally new understanding of the calling of the Christian and this idea of the priesthood of believers, ministering to God first and then RELEASING GOD'S BLESSING ON OTHERS." {my capitals}

Is it not the Creator and He alone who decrees that the blessing of each day's sunrise is upon both the evil and the good, and that the blessing of the life-giving rainfall is upon the just and the unjust alike? (Matthew 5:45). It is the Almighty Himself who releases blessings - or withholds them as the case may be - and He has no need of our human input whatsoever to release anything at all! Yet Godwin insists:


"The Lord is raising an army of prayer warriors {a concept found nowhere in the Scriptures} who are becoming effective at releasing heaven on earth wherever they are." 

Do we really possess the power to release Heaven? The power to decide for God, and direct His resources? To overrule His Sovereignty, and bend His will to ours? Is it He who is to submit to us, or is it we who are to submit to Him? He will bless, or indeed He will curse, as pleases His holy purposes, and any presumptions on our part about such things are just that. Presumptions. Born of a subjective human rationale. As He has unanswerably declared:


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:8-9)

Such teaching on prayer has much more to do with "Kingdom Now" eschatological handstands and "Word of Faith" theological somersaults, than with how we are truly meant to approach God in prayer. "To invoke the coming of the Kingdom so that the rule of God may hold sway over the life and locality of wherever we are, liberating our neighbours and neighbourhood to such an extent that it looks like heaven" is neither within our brief nor within our reach as believers in this present age. Any idea of our here-and-now neighbourhoods looking remotely like heaven prior to Christ's establishment of His millennial reign on earth is quite simply Dominionist delusion. And our neighbours are only in any real sense liberated quite individually, by their personal sincere repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour; no amount of "invoking the coming of the Kingdom" will achieve such an end, only the honest and humble, faithful preaching of a pure, totally uncompromised Gospel which brings the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Our real brief? Within our reach? The presentation of Christ come, crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended, sitting at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us, and coming again soon to put all things under His glorious feet! We the Church are not about bringing heaven to earth as Bill Johnson boasts, but rather Hell-bound sinners to the foot of the Cross. And this is the Cross of Calvary, the only one that matters... not the alternative High Cross at Ffald-y-Brenin...

Am I questioning whether miraculous healings have occurred at Ffald-y-Brenin? No, I am not. I fully believe that God can and does heal, when it is His will to do so. But the idea of Ffald-y-Brenin being a special "thin place" as claimed by its Executive Director, where Heaven and Earth are in some way closer together, is not just error, but dangerous deception. God is omnipresent, and everywhere on this planet is exactly the same distance from the One who created it. No matter where you are, He is always as close (or indeed as far away) as an individual chooses to place Him. It is extremely important to recognize that God can and does work in any set of circumstances in any geographical location. His grace is so infinitely great that He will work out His purposes no matter what. And so, often despite what we might consider to be how a particular person, or place, is particularly "right" with God, when in reality things are demonstrably wrong and Scripturally unsupported, His grace can still be seen to prevail. DESPITE, and NOT BECAUSE OF that person or place! This is something I feel I can't emphasize strongly enough!

Am I questioning the sincerity of Roy Godwin? No, I am not. The point is that you can be sincerely wrong, all the while sincerely believing that you are right. And sincerity in error is infinitely more powerful than insincerity when it comes to transmitting such error to others, who all too frequently neglect to do as Scripture urges and test the spirits (1 John 4:1). We urgently need to be good Bereans, for the Word of God is the proof or otherwise of all things, and we would do well to remember that even Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and is the master of subtle spiritual seduction. (Genesis 3:1)


CONVERGENCE: THE GREAT RIVER OF ECUMENICAL COMPROMISE

We dine at the same table... Pope Francis, Palmer and Copeland

As is so often the case, error begets error and deception spawns deception. I don't know if Roy Godwin ever met the late, similarly Celtic Christianity-loving Tony Palmer, who was a Bishop in the CEEC (Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches) and a personal friend of Pope Francis, and who was instrumental in creating a close bond between the Vatican and evangelical renegades like Kenneth Copeland and the Arnotts of Toronto Blessing infamy. But if there is one word which would best describe the theology of them both, that word would be 'convergent.' Without wishing to digress too much, 'convergent' would also describe David Carr of Renewal in Solihull and the Order of St. Leonard, the subject of last month's article and earlier pieces, a man who has also long drawn water from the lead-lined well of Celtic Christianity. Convergence is the meeting and mingling of all the various streams of everything that calls itself Christian into one great river of ecumenical compromise, a most unholy uniting of purity and poison. Such men as these quaff deeply from any flow that looks good to them, and lead others to likewise drink from it, with a cavalier unconcern for where its source might lie or what sea may be its destination. It is folly indeed to pay no heed to the Word of God's urgent and timeless warning:


"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
(Proverbs 16:25)


* * * * * * *

Some further reading:
'A Time of Departing' by Ray Yungen
'Faith Undone' by Roger Oakland
'The Light That Was Dark' by Warren Smith
http://watchman4wales.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/beware-of-contemplative-prayer-part-one.html
https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=20820 (on Bill Johnson and Bethel)