REPORT ON "THE BIBLE SPEAKS", LENOX, MASSACHUSETTS Prepared by Gospel Truth Ministries, Inc., Box 518, Sandwich, MA02563March 28, 1981 ____________________________________________________________________________
We are living in a day, when, more and more we are witnessing the growth of a particular kind of threat to the Christian church, one which is rising up from within the very ranks of the body of Christ. We find scriptural warnings against being misled in this manner in the epistle of Jude, as well as in Romans 16:17 & 18, where Paul exhorts: "Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." A similar reference is found at Acts 20:29&30: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also, of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
How aptly these warnings relate to the tragic events at the Penple's Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. Jim Jones had professed to be a born-again believer, and yet his authority and control were allowed to go unchecked, to the extent that in time he became more important to his followers than Jesus Christ. Many who died in that jungle were professed Christians. Other groups which have misled many genuinely born-again Christians, though not to that extreme, would include Victor Paul Wiewille's The Way International, the Local Church of Witness Lee, and others. It was out of concern for the unity of the body of Christ that a number of ministries, dedicated to the defense of the Christian faith against doctrinal error from outside as well as within, have felt the need to express a warning, in love, relative to certain divisive tendencies which have been exhibited by the Bible Speaks Ministry, of Lenox, Massachusetts.
It is, understandably, a difficult task to have to scrutinize a ministry which is generally recognized as a Christian body, with much good fruit in evidence. Some research ministries have termed the Bible Speaks an "aberrations Christian group", a research category applied to groups not too far removed from the evangelical/fundamentalist realm in the area of basic doctrine, and many of whose leaders were, at one time, members in good standing within conventional evangelical denominations. Many sincere evangelical Christians are members of some of these organizations without realizing (or admitting) the cultic characteristics which the groups have developed. These members are understandably concerned and hurt when critical attention is directed toward them or their leaders. However, the application of the term "aberrational" is based upon both theological and socio-psychological criteria. Nonetheless, it is with much prayer, and with a motivation of love and caring for those in and considering association with The Bible Speaks Ministry, that this report is prepared and presented.
Carl H. Stevens, Pastor and Founder of The Bible Speaks, was born in West Sumner, Maine, on November k, 1929. After graduation from school he became a salesman for the Cushman bakeries. In 1961 Stevens became Pastor of a Bible church in Milton, Maine, co-pastoring churches in West Sumner and Norway. He was named area co-ordinator for Youth for Christ, as well as serving a term as President of the Oxford County Camp of the Gideons. In September 1962 he was named Pastor of the badly failing MontsweagBaptistChurch. Many who knew Stevens in these early days of his ministry have expressed the opinion that he was a dynamic minister, who preached the gospel as it had seldom been heard in New England.
According to Bible Speaks literature, Stevens was ordained by a council of independent ministers at the MontsweagBaptistChurch on March 7, 1963, although he had reportedly been active in Christian work since receiving Christ in 1952.
Within six months of Stevens' assuming the pastorate at Montsweag, the church began to realize significant growth, apparently due to a visitation program instituted by Stevens, with the intent of inviting people to church and winning the unsaved to Christ. After a time, the church members voted to drop their affiliation with the organized BaptistChurch and become independent. By 1967 the congregation had grown to a point where a new church building was needed. The new church was named The Woolwich-Wiscasset Baptist Church, and was dedicated in 1968.
By 1971, under Stevens' leadership, the NortheastSchool of the Bible began on a part-time basis. In 1972 the school opened on a full-time schedule with 100 students registering. By 1975 the attendance was 325.
In 1973 both the Church and the School relocated in South Berwick, Maine. There is an element of controversy surrounding the move to South Berwick. The Bible Speaks Book of Miracles states simply that through several attacks made against the ministry, it was made clear that God desired the body to move to another area. Other reports, however, indicate that serious differences arose within the body, causing a division with one faction remaining faithful to Stevens and following him to South Berwick, and the other faction remaining at Wiscasset. There are indications that even households were affected by this division, with one mate leaving the other to follow Stevens.
With the move to South Berwick came the beginning of what The Bible Speaks calls the corporate community, with families and individuals living on the church premises.
By 1973 The Bible Speaks "Telephone Time" Program was being broadcast over Portland and Boston radio stations. Since that time The Bible Speaks has been active in sending out missionary teams to numerous foreign lands with significant results in the number of souls won to Christ. While in South Berwick The Bible Speaks had an active bus ministry, with the state Sunday school attendance record being broken in April of 1976, with 2,042 children coming to hear of Christ. By late summer of 1976 The Bible Speaks World headquarters were established in Lenox, Mass. on a 96 acre tract of land with some 25 buildings. The StevensSchool of the Bible and StevensChristianSchools opened in September 1976. The ministry also purchased two additional tracts of 12 and 35 acres. They presently lease the entire campus of the HollistonJunior College, renaming it The Bible Speaks West.
According to information provided to Gospel Truth Ministries by the Bible Speaks public relations department, pastor Stevens has no formal theological training, but official literature indicates he has received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity and Doctorate of Letters and Law from Clarksville School of Theology in Clarksville, Tennessee.
The Bible Speaks, according to its publications, has active members in 17 states and 20 countries, with over 220 Bible studies and services weekly in the United States and more than 280 worldwide. The BibleSchool has 28 extension schools and a total enrollment of over 1,000. According to their statistics, the outreach program has had impressive results as well, with 1,500 professions of faith in 1974, an estimated 6,000 in 1975, and 12,000, 30,000 and 72,551 in 1977, 78, and 79 respectively. It was in the early 1960's while Stevens was pastoring two small churches in Maine, according to the Bible Speaks Book of Miracles that "...God called him one day to the back of the woods near a lake. There the Lord Jesus baptized him with what Pastor describes as liquid waves of love.
Along with this experience God promised him several things. First and foremost, God promised an anointing upon every message he would preach from then on. Secondly, God gave the Scripture Isaiah 43:19 and showed Pastor He would build a church that the gates of hell could not prevail against. The Lord gave more definition by saying it would not be produced overnight, but that He would build a 'one new man' of Ephesians 2:15 step by step." Isaiah 43:19 reads (NIV) "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."
It is interesting to note that the application of this verse to Stevens' ministry as well as the statement just cited, that the Lord "would build" a church that the gates of hell could not prevail against, and that such "would not be produced overnight" suggest that the building of the church by the Lord was to begin then, rather than already being an accomplished fact. Christianity historically has held to the position that the church was established by Jesus Christ nearly 2,000 years ago, and that the gates of hell have never been able to prevail against His church, nor will they. Expressions such as this have contributed to the fostering of an attitude which we have found to be quite common among members, past and present, of the Bible Speaks: that theirs is a higher calling; that the Bible speaks represents the fullness of Christianity as it can be experienced nowhere else.
Bible Speaks literature and recorded lectures contain numerous statements which would further contribute to an attitude of superiority among the adherents to the movement. Some examples would be "A, person can be saved, go to Heaven and yet on earth live apart from God's man. He may experience a certain portion of Kingdom life but he will never be full." (Tape #1410, and The Bible Speaks from the Throne, July 1976, pg. 14), and "We are hid in Christ and in the Corporate Body which is his fullness." (Meditations from the Throne, Pg. 4).
This feeling that The Bible Speaks represents the fullness of Christ, and is of a higher calling than other Christian bodies has even been a factor in the breakup of some Christian marriages and households. This is not meaning to convey the thought that the Bible Speaks or Carl Stevens has necessarily condoned or encouraged such breakups, but simply that the view of that particular ministry, as held by many of its members, has been a contributing factor in the breakup of the marriages of at least some Christian couples.
It is taught that outside of the Corporate government of God's army, such as that claimed by the Bible Speaks, one is under the devil's headship. In Meditations from the Throne, pg. 3 we read: "We will not allow natural relationships to tie us in the Devil's bondage. Instead we step ahead, leaving eternity to explain the steps of God. We hearken to a higher calling."
Now, the casual reader may very well take this in application to the general walk as a Christian as being of a higher calling, than that of natural relationships, which may have been the intended meaning. However, as mentioned, we are aware of Christian couples who have separated when one mate chose to follow the higher calling of the Bible Speaks ministry with a stronger allegiance than he or she had for the other mate or for any other Christian body. On other instances Stevens has referred to the Bible Speaks as "the best thing going in New England." (Tape #1871, Living From a View of the Mountain.) There is a definite tendency among the Bible Speaks members we have spoken with to look down on other churches because their Pastors may not have the "anointing" attributed to Stevens, because other bodies may not be as actively engaged in soul-winning as The Bible Speaks, and because being outside of
"God's Corporate Government" these churches have no covering to protect them from the devil's attacks.
Adherents to the Bible Speaks are taught that Carl Stevens is God's man, God's delegated authority. One Bible Speaks publication said of this: "True delegated authority is an authority derived from love, which causes one to serve. Therefore, properly executed authority never demands 'obedience' nor exalts itself." Nonetheless, the claim to being God's man and His delegated authority has placed Stevens in a position of unquestioned authority in the minds of many Bible speaks adherents. Many quotations from Bible Speaks tapes and literature give the plain implication that it would be wrong to question God's delegated authority. To do so would, in effect, be questioning God. To begin with, as you will recall, Pastor Stevens alleges that God promised him an anointing upon every message he would ever preach, thus making his messages virtually God's words.
The introduction to Meditations from the Throne states "As you sit and read this book and discover its revelations, you soon will realize that it is not written by a man alone, but through a revelation straight from the throne of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." Thus, it appears that the Bible Speaks believes in continuing revelation as expressed through the person of Pastor Stevens. Of these revelations and of delegated authority we read in Meditations from the Throne on pages 10-11: "The seats of delegated authority have been filled with appointed servants chosen by God Himself.
If we forfeit the covering provided for guidance in life, it is as if we took off the Tabernacle roof causing the steps of our life to be without God's glory. Without our mind covered by the headship of Christ through God's leadership on earth, our natural mind and emotions operate in reaction to the atmosphere instead of revelation from God. We may have an eternal covering in Heaven but no experiential provision of revelation on earth."
Elsewhere it says: "Submit to the glory which has taken over the authority to which we are submitting. Submit to the glorified authority imparted to the man of God to be revealed on earth. Hear the Government." It concludes: "God's thoughts are uncovered to us when we are covered by his authority. The voice of God's man verbalizes the thoughts ministered by the Spirit. We first receive the word of revelation which gives us the word of reconciliation as we cry: '0 earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord' (Jeremiah ) ."
Bible Speaks adherents have been taught to accept what Stevens says as God's words and to act upon such without question or hesitation. For example: "Revelation must not be left to discussion, but believed upon in immediate action. One place giver, to questioning truth revealed through God's man stops the flow of life for us in that personal truth." (The Bible Speaks from the Throne, December 1975, pg. 3). And "Every new word from God demands an immediate response of faith from man." (The Bible Speaks from the Throne, February 1976, pg. 11).
Tape#1410, "What it Means to be Baptized Unto a Man", contains statements such as the following: "If you don't hear the words of the servant of God, you are despising God." In another place we hear: "And all of a sudden you realize that it isn't him but it's Christ. He is no more than a servant or a messenger, but he is that. And because he is that from Christ you must receive his word and honor his message and obey his purpose."
On tape #1445,"Self Power vs. Christ is All in All", Stevens says the following: "When you come to a service and you hear a challenge, and you personally get challenged, don't make a reservation to intellectually challenge me later through feelings; but humble yourself to what is being said as facts, and let God bring you up to what I am saying." One of the most extreme teachings relative to questioning Stevens is found on tape #1350, Presumption vs. Speaking to the Rock, "If you have a close friend that evaluates anybody in delegated authority I'll guarantee you that if it's done with any consistency you'll be weak and sick and die within the future months (I Cor. 11:26-31)."
Total submission to delegated authority is stressed by such statements as "Imparted righteousness is received through the measure of your obedience to the Word in the submission to the government while in the state of continuing victories." (The Bible Speaks from the Throne, November 1975, pg. 19). Submission to the government does not mean earthly government, but rather, God's government of delegated authority.
Similar emphasis, again pointing up the superior position of The Bible Speaks over other ministries is found in this quotation from The Bible Speaks from the Throne, July 1976, pg. 11: "There is a lot of good in Christianity today but the ultimate product is not bringing people into what they should be in the Kingdom because they are not in the order and line of delegated authority." And, on page 16: "Under submission to the choice of God's delegated authority there are pleasures forevermore. At His right hand we are seated in a delegated position by God, governmentally arranged with divine wisdom that we might experience the fullest potential possible to experience the abundant life now."
There is a distinct tendency among Bible Speaks adherents to elevate Dr. Stevens to a point bordering on adoration. This may be fostered by teachings on Stevens' part such as that in Tape #1675, 'Following a Man or God, wherein Stevens emphatically stresses that he is God's man, and following his teachings is likened to adherence to the Apostles' doctrine as referred to in Acts 2:42. While Stevens says the term "apostle" is to be applied to himself only in the sense that he is a master builder or organizer, many of his followers look at him as having the same stature as the first century apostles such as Paul.
I taught a Bible study some time ago where a young man who had recently begun attending the StevensSchool of the Bible told me what a privilege it was for him to be sitting under the teachings of an Apostle. Further examples of how his followers view him can be seen in the Bible Speaks Book of Miracles. In the dedication to that book, Stevens is referred to as the Good Shepherd, capital G, capital S. On the next page, in the section "ABOUT THE PASTOR" one reads: "What was it like to walk with Jesus, to see His smile, to be looked upon with that piercing glance, and to hear His precious voice speak those sanctified words? What was it like to laugh with Him, to cry with Him, to eat with Him and to be His friend? Most Christians have wondered this at one time or another. Those in the Bible Speaks stopped wondering years ago. To be a sheep under the shepherdship of Carl Stevens is to know intimately the person of the Lord...To know Pastor Stevens is to know Christ. To love the Pastor is to love the one who gave him to us. As one sheep I speak for thousands who have been led by our beloved shepherd out of Egypt and out of the wilderness into the Promised Land." The November 1979 Crossroads magazine said of The Book of Miracles, which was published in 1975, "Unfortunately when people share from the depths of their hearts the love and devotion they have for the Lord, they sometimes over express themselves."
The article goes on to state that Dr. Stevens has never been one to exalt himself, that the introduction to The Book of Miracles is inconsistent with his personal views, and was written without his knowledge or consent. We are told that as soon as Dr. Stevens saw the book it was taken out of print. We have been unable to determine exactly when the book was withdrawn from circulation, but it was apparently available for 22 to 3 years, allegedly without Dr. Stevens being aware of its contents.
One of the more unusual doctrines of The Bible Speaks Ministry is one which was taught by Stevens in Tape #1410,"What it Means to be Baptized Unto a Man:' This message was excerpted, with some changes in The Bible Speaks from the Throne, July 1976, pp. 11-17. All of the following quotations are from one of these two sources. Stevens admitted that this was a teaching which he had never heard preached before. The essence of the message was this: "Do not try to live after salvation without being baptized into a Body, into the Word, and unto God's man."
With reference to the body one is to be baptized into, he said: "And that must be in a body not with a clique outside of the body, and outside of true anointed, delegated leadership that is truly of God. There can be good people, but you just better remember that Jesus Christ doesn't anoint everyone for those positions." Stevens says that he is not saying you must be baptized unto him necessarily. But, he states that there were not many Moses', Joshuas, Elijahs, Peters or Pauls. "There were many Christians but there were not many leaders of that caliber, because Jesus only has one of them ... usually, in a generation." All of this is in relation to God's man, a label which Dr. Stevens freely applies to himself.
Stevens has also said "People say, I am not going to follow a man, I am following Jesus. That cannot be done. If you follow Jesus, you follow God's man who leads you in the authority of the Kingdom of how to live in him." Stevens concluded the message "Be baptized unto a man of God, and be true to him for Jesus' sake, and honor him for Jesus' sake with double honor, in I Tim. 5:17, submit to him at Hebrews 13:17 for Jesus' sake, never criticizing him for Jesus' sake, being willing to die with him in I Cor. 3:9 for Jesus' sake; Why? Because that's the only way that you can experience the authority of delegated grace ... is to be in the authority of delegated life."
In one issue of Crossroads magazine it was written: "Dr. Stevens sees himself as a pastor and no more. Those were his exact words in a recent message. He is a sinner, saved by grace. A vessel who God has called, and he has responded, just as hundreds of pastors in the world did. He is deeply grieved when people exalt him, and his attitude is this - 'Believe God, not me. If what I say should ever, for any reason, be off, then believe the Bible'." The particular choice of wording "He has responded just as hundreds of pastors in the world did" could still leave the reader with the impression that Stevens is of a very select group of pastors, merely hundreds, past and present.
Furthermore, while he says "Believe the Bible, not me" he often endeavors to prove to his audience that his message is biblical by using isolated proof texts, sometimes in a very far-fetched application. One such example would be in his sermon "What It Means to Be Baptized Unto a Man" wherein his theme text was I Corinthians 10:1&2 "Moreover brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through-the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;" On this verse, Stevens reasons that since the Israelites were "baptized unto Moses", and Christ was his head, then this is a pattern for New Testament believers to follow as well: to be baptized unto a specific man of God today, and follow him as the Israelites followed Moses.
Unfortunately, we are not aware of one Bible scholar or commentator who sees this verse as Stevens' does, as being a pattern for New Testament believers, except insofar as the Israelites baptism unto Moses prefigures our baptism unto Christ. We have read numerous commentaries on this verse, and not one indicates that this is to set a pattern for believers today to follow a man of God as Moses was followed. Furthermore, the context of this verse brings out that even though the Israelites were "baptized unto Moses" God was displeased with many of them, and the passage concludes in verses 11 & 12 with the fact that Paul had expounded on this situation with the Israelites as an admonition, that "He that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
There are other verses which The Bible Speaks has used in support of the "following a man" teaching, such as Phil. 3:17: "Brethren be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example." Another is I Corinthians 4:16: "Wherefore I beeseech you, be ye followers of me." And finally, I Cor. 11:1: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." A careful study of these verses and particularly of the Greek words rendered as "followers" reveals that Paul was simply exhorting his readers to imitate his example as a Christian and a missionary. He was in no way suggesting that individuals be followers of him in the sense of following him exclusively as a leader. Such would have been directly contrary to his expression at I Cor. 1:12 & 13: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?" Here we find Paul warning against just such tendencies as are evident in The Bible Speaks.
Furthermore, at I John 2:27 we read: "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him." So, while this verse is not ruling out the need of teachers in the Body of Christ, it is admonishing against looking to any particular man as teacher, since the Holy Spirit is the believers' teacher and guide in spiritual matters. Christ is the one mediator between God and man, without the need of another man in a position of mediatorship. When every part of the body of Christ is in its set place, each is able to receive from Christ directly, so that the body increases and edifies itself in love. In John 15 Jesus is the true vine, the whole vine. Every branch or believer is related to him directly, and receives its flow of His life directly, not through some other branch.
Of course we have pastor-teachers in the Church today as part of the variety of ministries to the body. To reject these ministries would be to deliberately reject the loving and wise provision of the Head of the Church who gives these gifts. On the other hand, though, to suggest that a Christian must submit to a human shepherd for leading and guidance is going to the opposite extreme and denies the Bible's teaching about the believers' direct access to God. Hebrews 4:14-16.
In mid-1980 The Bible Speaks released a 43 page booklet entitled The Bible Speaks Goes on Record. The introduction to this work states the intention of clarifying certain aspects of the beliefs and practices of The Bible Speaks out of the desire to establish a mutually beneficial working relationship with the entire body of Christ. The introduction concludes with this statement: "It is in the spirit of goodwill and reconciliation that we offer this paper." The report goes on to present an essentially orthodox Statement of Faith, The Bible Speaks' basic doctrinal beliefs, followed by an explanation of the Hermeneutic Rules (the method of interpretation of Scripture) followed by The Bible Speaks. Then follow elaborations upon several of the areas of Bible Speaks' teachings which have contributed to concern among other Christians and former members of The Bible Speaks: The Question of Spiritual Authority, The Question of Apostles, of Order, Honor and Commitment, The Question of Growth, of Marriage and Divorce, and finally, a glossary of terms peculiar to The Bible Speaks, and not commonly used outside of that movement.
Most of what is stated in these areas is quite orthodox, and were it not for knowledge of what was clearly taught in the tapes and periodicals cited previously, the casual reader would likely arrive at the conclusion that the problems had arisen out of a misunderstanding of what had been taught and that all that was needed was a clarification of terms.
In several areas, however, what is expressed in The Bible Speaks Goes on Record is a distinct departure from what had previously been taught. However, most of the major problems have been ones of attitude among Bible Speaks adherents: Their attitude toward The Bible Speaks Ministry as opposed to other Christian ministries, their view of The Bible Speaks' and Carl Stevens' authority, their attitude toward the person of Carl Stevens as God's man. It is perhaps easier to change one's position in writing than it is to change one's inner attitude. While positive changes are being observed in certain areas, such as a willingness on the part of The Bible Speaks to work shoulder to shoulder with outside ministries now, there are other important areas where change is not yet as overtly manifest.
One example would be in the view of Carl Stevens as an Apostle. We discussed earlier some of the implications the use of this term has carried in the minds of Bible Speaks adherents, as fostered by Stevens' statements about himself. While The Bible Speaks no longer recommends the use of the term Apostle when speaking of Carl Stevens or other Bible Speaks pastors, our research in contact with Bible Speaks adherents reveals that while the term Apostle may not be as frequently used, the attitude of his followers remains essentially unchanged. Whether this is simply a carry-over from before the teachings were changed, or whether it is still encouraged by Bible Speaks teachings is a question we cannot answer at this time, but we would urge those who come in contact with the Bible Speaks ministry to be on guard against viewing Carl Stevens any differently from any other Christian pastor with a gift in the area of leadership.
Another area where change has been expressed is with regard to Stevensí anointed teachings. Statements previously cited clearly conveyed the impression that all of Stevens messages would have the Holy Spirit's anointing, that he conveyed revelations from Jesus Christ, and that these revelations should not be questioned. However, in The Bible Speaks Goes on Record we are now told: "In speaking of the anointing, the words are merely men's words, but the Hold Spirit is especially present to help our human infirmity in conveying the best sense or meaning."
We are further told: "It is impossible for God to be present in that which is untrue or unbiblical, it is impossible that false and unscriptural teaching be anointed teaching at the same time." A well-balanced explanation is then given, which, in light of certain of Stevens teachings which we have heard would enable most Christians to readily dismiss the thought that all of his messages are anointed. While much of what is taught is clearly scriptural and perhaps could properly be termed anointed teaching, there remains the need for discernment by listeners. The Bible Speaks Goes on Record goes on to clarify the meaning of the word "revelation" as they now use it. To most Christians "revelation" is a revealing, by God, of something previously unknown, as is the case with the writings of many of the early apostles. "Illumination" on the other hand, refers to the making clear or illuminating of an already revealed scriptural truth. We are now informed that when The Bible Speaks uses the term revelation what is really meant is illumination; that "when we speak of receiving revelation we would do better to use the words illumination or enlightenment for what is truly meant." Although the term illumination doesn't really seem to fit in the context of the passages previously cited, we would do well to keep The Bible Speaks' definition of "revelation" in mind for the future.
The Bible Speaks also uses some special terminology which would be foreign to many Christians outside of that body: Terms such as one's vertical, one's horizontal, going through the cross, being hid in the body, keeping a single eye, and others. Related to such peculiar terminology are some additional areas of possibly questionable doctrine, but which have a lesser significance than the divisive attitudes already discussed. With regard to the attitudes of his followers toward Stevens, and their view of that particular ministry, there may well be members of the Bible Speaks who do not hold to these same attitudes which we have found to be fairly common.
Nonetheless, in spite of the tremendous amounts of good accomplished through the ministry, the number of people who have been hurt, even if indirectly by the ministry, including the dissolution of some Christian marriages, has been sufficient to move us to present this report on some of what we and other research ministries see as potential problem areas within The Bible Speaks. This report is not intended to condemn The Bible Speaks, nor to be judgmental in any way, but rather to be cautionary,...to express warning to those in and entering the Bible Speaks, that they might be alerted to those areas which many respected Christians see as aberrational toward Biblical Christianity.
Perhaps as Christians we should realize that such teachings and tendencies as we find in The Bible Speaks in the areas of authority and submission have indeed grown out of real need. In the midst of a permissive society people do need authority. But it is our task to point them to the basic authority of God's Word. Then we can point them to Paul's admonition that they learn to know those who labor among us, and esteem them in love for their work's sake (I They. ). In our impersonal society, people do need the kind of close fellowship demonstrated in The Bible Speaks. Ways of meeting this need can vary with the circumstances. But the kind of division seen in the Corinthian church, bayed on building a following for a human leader, must be avoided.
In today's complex society people do need teaching and training. But more is needed than one person or a local church can provide. The Bible calls for a plurality of ministry and gifts within the local church (II Cor. 12).
Above all, we must recognize that the sin of causing division in the church is a most serious offense, as suggested by Romans 16:17 & 18. In light of the many divisive tendencies within the Bible Speaks movement we would urge caution on the part of those involved with the group, and those contemplating membership. This is not to even suggest that the adherents to the Bible Speaks' teachings are not Christians. But in the urgency of the times in which we live, the unity of the larger body is highly important if we are to accomplish the mission of the church. It is our earnest prayer that the body of Christ will not have to apply the admonition of Romans 16: 17 & 18, cited in the first paragraph of this report, to The Bible Speaks ministry, but rather that teachings and attitudes within that body will be adjusted in such a way as to permit the entire body of Christ to function as one harmonious whole.
Finally, Jesus Christ must be kept central. He alone is the great Shepherd of the Sheep. The only covenant we need is the one sealed with His blood. The only covering we need comes through the blood atonement, something Jesus did once and for all - something that is available only through Him.
******************************************************************** We welcome a point-by-point response from the leaders of Greater Grace World Outreach...