In China, the following testimonies are typical of the part healing prayers play in evangelism. Below are several testimonies from Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, Oxford University Press, 2011. Each of these testimonies have been peer reviewed and verified for publications.

A common testimony 1 

I used to be a party member . . .  . So of course I was an atheist, I didn't believe in anything. But then my daughter contracted some kind of heart disease . . .  . We were so poor; we didn't have much money for expensive treatments. At that time, someone introduced the Gospel to me. I started to pray and became a believer . . .  . My daughter also believed. After ten days, she could leave the hospital because she was much better. After that, my whole family became Christian.  . . .  And the really miraculous thing is: Since then, none of us has ever been back to the hospital ever. We didn't have to spend one penny on health care!   [1]

A common testimony 2

My neighbor fell seriously ill. She was hospitalized, but the doctors couldn't help her…. She tried what she could to regain her health. Finally she said, “I will try and become a Christian now, then the other Christians will come to pray for me. Perhaps that will help.” The woman was indeed healed!    [2]      

Testimony of a peasant woman from Li Shuying

(In this testimony, the distinction between the spirits of Daoism and the Jesus of Christianity is clearly seen. Especially note how the peasant women is awed by Jesus’ graciousness. She emphasizes that Jesus does not demand money or sacrifices, but simply responds to prayers and hymn singing.)

About ten years ago, I suffered from serious anemia. I fainted frequently; but in order to earn a living, I had to sell fruit every day on the streets. One day, I overheard someone say that I was possessed by six demons. I was very frightened and asked the help of a sorceress. I spent a lot of money with her, but my health was not a bit improved. Another day, while selling fruit, I heard some strangers reciting unfamiliar words which I later learned were the Ten Commandments. These people claimed that Jesus was the greatest god and could heal the most stubborn illness. I hurried home to tell my husband what I had heard on the street, adding that I was determined to seek this greatest god. My husband, however, mistook the word Jesus for Zushi [founder of Daoism], because the two sound familiar in Hakka. But I knew it could not be Zushi, for I remember clearly that this god, Jesus, did not take chickens or ducklings as offerings.  Then, months later, I came across a preacher named Jiang Yunying and I inquired about Jesus. She first taught me to sing a hymn of praise. I was so anxious to seek God, I memorized the whole hymn and it has stayed in my heart: “Opening the door we see the blue sky. Do not worry about firewood, or about money. Do not worry about rice, or about clothing. For all these are in the hands of the Lord.”  . . .  Every Sunday I asked my husband to take me [to church] to Huacheng by bicycle, a journey of 17 miles one way. It was through [the preacher's] influence that I learned to be an honest person. Like all hawkers, I too often gained extra advantage at the expense of the customer. To be a Christian means that I must never cheat again. In practical terms, I lost money in my business. This antagonized even my own mother, but I cared little about the derision and taunting of others. On the contrary, I felt enthusiastic and shared with them what I learned from the church.  Now, my anemia is gone, my whole family, including my mother, are Christians, and my business is good. With all these blessings, how could I ever forget to thank the Lord?   [3]       

Testimony of a professor turned preacher 

A retired physics professor turned preacher in Jiujiang (Jiangxi Province) relayed to the interviewers an account of how he came to believe in divine healing. 

While traveling to villages around his city, he was approached by a farmer who had a tumor the size of a soccer ball on his leg. This farmer had been to a hospital and was informed that his condition was too serious to be remedied by any other (Western or traditional) cure than an operation. Like most farmers in China, however, he lacked health insurance, and the necessary operation would have cost more than he earned in a year. He thus had few options besides asking prayer for healing. As a scientist who had worked in an ideological environment of enlightened materialism and as a church worker trained in “western” theology, the preacher was skeptical about divine healing. However, due to the farmer's urging and out of love for this poor, stricken man, the preacher gave in and said a prayer, since he could not help him financially. When he visited the village again a few weeks later, the farmer came running toward him, greeted him enthusiastically, then pulled up one trouser leg to show him that the tumor had all but disappeared.   [4]    

Testimony from a female leader in Shaanxi Province  

The healing of my daughter was just the beginning of my faith. But there is a lot of faith healing around here. In most cases, people first start asking about Christ when they are sick. They don't have any other way to go. To believe in Christ is their last resort, when nothing else is possible. When they have received Christ, they also realize the need for change and repentance. Of course, those who are ill and experience other obstacles on their life roads need to believe in Christ, but those who don't have these obstacles need to believe even more . . .  . Because we don't just believe in Jesus for reasons of our flesh, our body. We need the salvation of our souls. Faith is not just for now, it is also for the future . . .  . So, if you are healed, you should believe, but if you are not healed, you should also believe. Because faith is not only for our life on earth.  [5]

China church DNA: Prayer, Care and Love 

The connection between religious conversion and healing from an illness may not always be as simple as the testimonies suggest. As Oblau has pointed out, healing prayer is practiced in a natural way by everyone. Thus, it is not an isolated ritual abstracted from the context of community but an integral part of life in community. It is one aspect of the loving, comforting, and supportive attention shown to the hurting by the church. 

So it is not just a spectacular healing that brings Chinese people to the faith but also the care for one another observed by outsiders. Oblau notes that in his own experience, many attest to seeing the apparent commitment and care with which the church representatives keep visiting their members in the hospital. Such observations produce appreciation often leading to curiosity. Further, in China, family is important. The virtues of loyalty and love within the family are common. Yet rarely, if ever, does it extend out beyond the bounds of blood. What makes Christianity so attractive in China is the expansion of traditional family values to the extended family of the church. That people help each other though they are not blood relatives causes astonishment and admiration from outsiders. Even when prayers do not seem to bring immediate healing, those receiving prayer are often observed to experience a betterment of life. A spectacular recovery often gets people’s attention, but it is the care and familial bond among the faithful that makes Christianity attractive. 

Oblau points to a holistic view of healing as a central of the Chinese church's view of divine healing. It is never about a Holy Spirit whammy. Where everything is made right in a moment, almost magically, like the end of a Disney movie. God never works that way for we are all works in process. Pastors should also not work that way. It takes more than an a hand on your forehead with a strong shazam to bring wholeness. It takes community, not celebrity, to make people whole. This consumeristic, prepackaged, Amazon-shipped, view of healing that claims instantaneous cures without personal engagement and community involvement is a doctrinal virus in need of eradication. Divine healing can happen in a moment. The dead are raised. The lame walk. God moves in power and the sick are made whole. But that is not the end of the story, only the beginning, the start of a path to wholeness if one is willing to walk it. 

The Chinese church understands that the gospel brings wholeness. The healing found in Christianity extends to all aspects of life; relational, physical, spiritual, emotional. Yet, this process happens as prayer, care, and the love of Christ are practiced in community. In this way, God’s healing power is experienced as love and care are actualized in terms of social support, nurturing human relationships, and improved living conditions. In this sense, healing is a process of unfolding wholeness. So in reality, a personally experienced health crisis, help received, and betterment felt (with or without full healing) becomes the starting point for the majority of converts in China’s churches.  


In the next blog, we will look deeper into the Chinese church's holistic view of healing. Also see our playlist on healing  found on Remnant’s  Youtube page



[1] Währisch-Oblau, interview, Shaanxi Province (1997).       

[2] Währisch-Oblau, interview, Zhejiang Province (1991). These events took place during the Cultural Revolution, when all religious activities were officially banned.   

[3] Areopagus: Magazine of the Tao Fong Shan Christian Centre  (Advent 1993): 28.    

[4] Währisch-Oblau, field notes (Feb. 1993). 

[5] Währisch-Oblau, field notes, Shaanxi Province (1997).

Normalizing healing is an aim here at Remnant. By this, we mean normalizing the practice of praying for healing, believing that God will meet His people if we seek, knock, and ask. It means believing God continues to bring His “kingdom in power.” We believe Jesus commissioned His church to proclaim the gospel. If we ask that proclamation can be accompanied with signs following (Mark 16:19-20; Heb 2:3-4; Acts 4:29-30). 

Where do we begin? What model do we hold out as faithful to the mission? I believe all would agree, the need of every community of faith, no matter the context, is a growing trust in God’s Word and a deepening life of prayer. The testimony of the Chinese church is a good example to hold out to us all. Oblau describes the Chinese church’s commitment to living out the Word (He also delivers a funny quips): 

“Chinese Christians tend to read the Bible literally and prescriptively. For them, there is no historical-critical or theological gap between the text and their present-day reality. They are definitely not cessationists. Biblical healing stories go hand-in-hand with reports circulated in villages today.”[1]

He quotes a church elder in eastern China, explaining why they believe in praying for healing:  

In Christ, our Lord, we can see God's love. His love is the same yesterday, today and certainly in the future, too. Because His love does not change, we who believe and follow Him can do what the Lord has allowed us to do: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. When the Lord Jesus Christ lived on earth almost 2000 years ago, He helped a lot of sick and wretched people. Our church today is in no other situation at all! There are still many suffering and miserable people in our midst. [2]

The elder outlines a problem and a solution that has not changed in 2000 years.. The problem is the world is full of hurting people. The solution is Jesus. It is a s simple as it is profound. Let’s look a little deeper at these ideas. 

First, the Chinese church sees the world as a mass of hurting humanity because of the fall. In the fall, the world became a collection of dehumanizing powers. Sin brought death and the consequences of death brought corruption, and sickness. The West gets this backwards, the Chinese church does not. We, in the West, define what is normal by what is natural. Our experience of the world shapes what we think is normal. We often see miracles and healing as the disruption of the natural order. As if we live in the natural order of things. When God does something supernatural — we often interpret it as unnatural. Yet miracles, and especially healing, are not interruptions of the natural order; they are the restoration of the Creator’s natural order.  We think sickness, disease, and death are natural. They are not. They are unnatural. Those unnatural things broke into God’s good world that he made and corrupted it, bringing a dehumanizing influence into a good world. 

Second, The gospel message that Jesus has done it all and is doing all to save humanity, and this includes restoration of health that can be experienced in this life. Physical healing is understood as a foretaste of the bodily resurrection to come. Believers have no need to postpone all hope to a heavenly existence but expects resurrection power to become effective at any place and moment, in the here and now. On a grassroots level, Chinese Christians take initiative and mobilize people to pray for healing and wholeness of anyone willing to receive it. For they believe, as C.S. Lewis described, that the effects of the cross and resurrection meant, “Death itself would start working backwards.”[3]

Seeing Restoration in a Dehumanizing World. 

The Chinese approach to healing is simple and direct. It is rooted in a commitment to the Bible; its story as their story and its God as their God. It also centers on the needs of hurting people and the God that can meet that need in practical ways. In light of their understanding of sickness, testimonies of divine healing are stories of protest. They tell of people who do not resign themselves to the vicious circle of illness, pain, and sickness. The message for those hurting is one of hope. It is a message, where sickness is not absolute and help is only a prayer away. Yet such prayers are not seen as instantaneous escapism through mystical means but a progressive restoration one prayer at a time. Knowing, just as Lewis, that God never wastes our pain but from conversion to consumption is in a process of making us whole. And even if the healing is slow, we confess with Lewis, “Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.” [4]

These stories are underdog stories. Stories of death running in reverse. Stories of Heaven working backwards to bring an outpost of restoration in this mass of human suffering. So, our brothers and sisters in the East, pray against the status quo of sickness and suffering, knowing God is moving against the flow of sin and sickness in this world. So many in the West get it backwards. We consider the simple to be foolish. Yet, with God all things are possible and God uses the foolish things to confound the wise, as Währisch-Oblau observes:  

“Simple, poor, uneducated people gain access to the power of God through their prayers. In so doing, these people show themselves to be more powerful than those who are usually invested with power: more powerful than doctors with their university degrees, and more powerful than party officials who have not succeeded in providing a functional health care system.” [5] 

In the next few blogs, we will look at some testimonies of healing in China and what we can learn from them. Also see our playlist on healing  found on Remnant’s  Youtube page



[1] Gotthard Oblau,  “Divine Healing and the Growth of Practical Christianity in China,” in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, Edt. Candy Gunther Brown (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) 324.

[2] Währisch-Oblau, field notes (May 1995).      

[3] C.S. Lewis, “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” (New York: HarpersCollins, reprint, 2002) 171.

[4] C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce,” (New York: HarpersCollins, 1946), 69.

[5] Währisch-Oblau, “God Can Make Us Healthy,” 98.




In Chapter 15 of “Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing” put out by Oxford University Press, in 2011, Gotthard Oblau writes on his research into the role divine healing had in the rapid growth of Christianity in China. 

From 1985 to 1997, Oblau was employed by a state-approved Chinese medical agency, the Amity Foundation. His job gave him a chance to travel the country far and wide, affording him the opportunity to gather stories and testimonies of divine healing in China. 

At the time he was in China, Christian believers accounted for 3–5 percent of the overall population. Yet Protestant communities were growing like someone put fertilizer in their shoes. The growth was so rapid that the majority of all Protestants were first-generation Christians. 

The question for many was, why were so many Chinese people deciding to become Christians? The answer among academics was that it was the result of the moral and ethical fruits of Christian religion. Yet, on a grassroots level, the answer was radically different. After reviewing his research, Oblau concludes:

Divine healing, understood as both the restoration of physical bodies and in a more holistic sense as the transformation of individuals and communities, may be the single most important factor explaining the extraordinary growth of Christianity in China. [1]

Oblau recorded many stories about healing experiences, and prayers for the sick. His observations were not isolated but were collaborated by other international observers and many Chinese colleagues. Some of the conclusions made in his chapter: 

    • Divine healing in China is in a context of poor medical care and Daoist-inspired preoccupation with health. 
    • Divine healing in China is seen as holistic transformation and not just healing of the body. 
    • Divine healing in China is often an entry point into Christian faith   

Two key theological factors related to divine healing in China: 

    1. Everybody does it! Prayers for divine healing are a universal practice among Christians in China. The practice of divine healing prayers is not exclusive to one group or denomination. It cuts across the urban-rural divide as well as denominational lines. Testimonies about divine healing experiences are a regular and widespread phenomenon among Protestant Christians in China. In China, it permeates protestant Christianity as a whole, registered and unregistered congregations, in rural and urban communities.

The universal practice of divine healing across denominational lines has led many to point to the influence of the Pentecostal movement. While it may be fair to claim that China's Christianity as a whole does carry a pentecostal flavor, this flavor can’t be attributed to some doctrinal distinctive, but to the fact that committed and ardent passion for God looks the same no matter the creed or confession.

2. The democratization of prayer for divine healing. In China, the practice of divine healing prayers has been democratized. The Chinese understanding of the classic Protestant principle of the priesthood of all believers includes the practice of healing prayers. Any Christian can say a simple prayer for somebody else's recovery, while the actual miracle is expected from God's supernatural power. The faith needed is considered implicit in the act of praying to the Christian God. Thus, faith is defined as going to the only one who can actually help. 

Prayer for divine healing as a function of the priesthood of all believers has support in scripture. The command for such a practice is located in the commissioning of the 72 disciples. In Luke 9:1-2, Jesus commissions the twelve apostles and “sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Then again in Luke 10, Jesus sends out a larger group to do mission work. Luke writes, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.’” . Among the instructions he gives to them, Jesus states, “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”(Luke 10:9). 

It seems clear in Luke, that not only are the twelve apostles commanded to heal the sick, but a similar command was also given to the seventy-two “ordinary” disciples as they were sent out. The command in Luke 10 is often taken to be a universal command and in harmony with the great commission. This commission is applies to all believers as part of their priestly service before the Lord. Further, it is commonly held that every believer has  priestly access to God in prayer.  Any christian may come before the Father as a holy priest of God, and make a request, be heard, and stand in hopeful expectation of receiving an answer. 

So, as stated above, among Christians in China there appears to be a common conviction that any single believer can pray for the sick and expect healing. Countless testimonies like the one below reflect this fact: 

“When my son started to get worse, I became more and more desperate...  but there was an old woman in the hospital who believed in Jesus. Pretty soon she kept coming and praying with me for the child. And then he started to get better.”  [2]

As international observer Claudia Währisch-Oblau concludes:  

It cannot be stressed enough that prayers for the sick in China take place “democratically,” i.e., without any one person specifically assigned to this role and with virtually no fixed ritual applied. Illiterate peasant women as well as university professors and pastors ordained decades ago, as well as newly converted Christians, all pray for those who are sick, without any sense that a special gift or training is needed for this. This is possible because of the extreme simplicity of procedures: There is rarely any laying on of hands, no anointing with oil, no ecstatic prayers, no falling and “resting in the Spirit,” no holy water, no specific place or situation for healing prayers. [3] 

They just pray and leave the rest to God. Thus, the practice of healing prayer is low key (as the kids say). 

The Historical and Social Shape of the Practice

The Chinese practice of divine healing prayers is drastically different from the expression in the West. The best way to observe the difference is by looking at what is absent from the Chinese church’s practice when compared to the church in the West. Below is a list of practices Oblau found to be absent from the church’s expression in China:  

    • A christian needing a spiritual gift of healing to operate in divine healing is downplayed. 
    • No particular healing ministries are relied upon as necessary.
    • Healing crusades are unheard of and utterly unfathomable in a Chinese context. 
    • Special church services for the sick are extremely rare. 

Given the “everyone participates” attitude, any sensational showmanship like we see in the West was unloaded for a more stripped down version. In the East, prayers for the sick are conducted with little fanfare and “spectacle”.  

The low-key approach to divine healing does have sociological origins and is not an indictment of the cultural practices in the West. The development of this low-key approach can be traced back to two factors within the social development of the Church in China. 

    1. A persecuted church produces a striped down liturgy.

The simplicity corresponds with the style of worship and liturgy. An average worship service involves hymn singing, praying, Bible reading, and some sharing of religious encouragement. Often all performed by leaders with rudimentary religious training. The liturgy developed during times of intense religious persecution. Times when church buildings were closed and pastors sent away for manual labor, often never to be seen again.

2. Continuing outside pressure reinforces simplicity of practice.

Legal and political pressure played a role in shaping the simplicity of the practice. The way they practice healing prayers may be seen as an act of self-protection. The communist government is firmly atheist, as their governing documents reflect. China’s constitution states that, “no person is permitted to use religion to conduct counterrevolutionary activities or activities which disrupt social order [or] harm people's health.” The last clause is problematic for many influential party members, and political leaders count the practice of “exorcising spirits to cure illnesses” among the “feudal superstitious activities” that are incompatible with the progress of socialism as well as China's modernization. [4]    

A Community of Prayer 

If everyone can pray for healing and prayers are practiced in a “low key” way, then what does it look like in the life of the community? The answer is surprisingly simple. The universal, democratized practice of divine healing looks like a community of faith that cares. Oblau gives us a description of love actualized within the church: 

Prayers for the sick, present or absent, are also common in midweek Christian meetings and in prayer and Bible groups, whether they convene in churches or in private homes. Church members pay visits to fellow believers who are sick at home or in the hospital. Many congregations organize rosters of people responsible for such visits. It is clear that Christians in China who fall ill will seldom have to suffer in isolation but will become the center of loving attention from their congregation. [5]

The love for those inside the church is not self-contained, turning back on itself but overflows and extends outward in prayers to those not of the flock. 

Healing prayers for non-Christians are not uncommon either. Individual Christians may pray for sick family members, neighbors, colleagues, or people who share their hospital ward. In praying for those unfamiliar with Christianity, Chinese Christians commonly disavow their own gifting and emphasize God's agency in healing. [6]

In the next few blogs, we will look at the theology of healing in China and what we can learn from them. Also see our playlist on healing  found on Remnant's  Youtube page.




[1] Gotthard Oblau,  “Divine Healing and the Growth of Practical Christianity in China, in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing”, Edt. Candy Gunther Brown (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) 325.

[2]  Claudia Währisch-Oblau, interview, Zhejiang Province (Apr. 1991).        

[3] Claudia Währisch-Oblau, “God Can Make Us Healthy Through and Through: On Prayers for the Sick and the Interpretation of Healing Experiences in Christian Churches in China and African Immigrant Congregations in Germany,”  International Review of Mission: Journal of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism of the World Council of Churches  [Geneva] 90.356–357 (Jan.–Apr. 2001): 89.     

[4]  Article 36, qtd. in  Donald MacInnis, “Religion in China Today: Policy and Practice”  (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1989), 35, 404. 

[5] Gotthard Oblau, “Divine Healing and the Growth of Practical Christianity in China, in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing”, Edt. Candy Gunther Brown (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) 312.

[6] Gotthard Oblau,  “Divine Healing and the Growth of Practical Christianity in China, in Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing”, Edt. Candy Gunther Brown (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2011) 312.



In the previous post we looked at the first three yellow flags. Flags that point in the direction of someone being a toxic leader. Here are the last four flags.

4. Fake Faith

A toxic person can learn to talk the talk. They typically have been in christian circles long enough to learn the faith lingo. So they know what to say. They can know "The Faith" and even teach sound doctrine. The crazy part is the way they make themselves sound like they are full of faith. Yet watch what happens when they are frustrated. Frustrating situations have a way of showing the cracks in our character (we all have them). But a real life crisis will reveal the real you. So look for what comes out of them when a real crisis hits. Their self-centered and tender ego doesn't rely on God. Depending on the type of crisis, they will try to control the situation or spin the narrative. If its more personal in nature they will turn to people and expect help. If they don’t get the help they think they deserve they often play the victim while plotting revenge.

James 1:1-4 teaches us real faith brings stability and serenity in trials. A real believer can have a song of joy in their heart while all hell comes against them. The joy comes from knowing that God is deepening our character and capacity to know him through the trials. Also in james 2:17 reminds us that “faith without works is dead”. We cant be a person of faith without showing the fruit of faith. If they are all talk then their faith is phony, as fake as my five year old’s superman costume. (Superman pajamas and an old ratty red towel is not a costume but don’t tell him that)

5. Fake Repentance

Toxic leaders don’t apologize. Yet these people do understand that repentance is part of the christian process. So they have learned the art of the non-apology. When they do apologies it is shallow and full of christian spin.

They don’t apologies for a very specific reason it would wound their fragile ego. This in one reason such leaders don’t like to apologize. They may not even realize the shallow nature of their repentance. It hurts them to perceive themselves as flawed and imperfect. In their minds, any harm they do is collateral damage and not something they should be held personally responsible.

At first, when such leaders are not apologetic. People take this as strong leadership but soon the offenses begin to build up and resentment begins to fill the workspace. They may fool people with their half-hearted often side-handed apologies but only for a time. Typically people will begin to realize the blame is being covertly put back on them. The begin to hear in the apology that they are made to shoulder sum or all of the responsibility for the wrong committed.

We are all sinners and conflict is inevitable. That is why part of life together involves confession and forgiveness. The cross is not just our means of forgiveness between God and us but also between other Christians. When leaders don’t lean into that but seek to appear above it all that’s a yellow flag.

6. Fake Thankfulness

In the gospel, we are all given something we don’t deserve. We deserve hell and judgment. We get Jesus and life eternal. If this is at the heart of the gospel then two things must be true of all Christians 1.) we ought to be thankful 2.) we cant be entitled.

What if the IOS system in your brain ran on the assumption that you were entitled to every good thing you got. What if you assumed you deserved everything you got. How could you be thankful? This is a big problem with toxic christian leaders.

Toxic people aren't thankful. They have learned to fake a thankful spirit because no one likes a selfish and arrogance Christ follower. They will pretend to be thankful but deep down they feel entitled to what was given them. Slowly expectations are raised and if not delivered on they become resentful that those around them haven't given them everything they feel, they truly deserve. Leaving those around them scratching there heads, and often conditioning those around them to all expectation no mater the sacrifice. Such leaders create a staff of people pleasers with one carnal rule, keep the leader happy. All because of a lose of thankfulness. It is little wonder why the Puritans summarize the doctrine of sanctification under the heading of “Thankfulness”. Entitlement is not just a character flaw it may be evidence that don’t get the gospel or have not grown very much as a christian.

Toxic leaders are often entitled. As leaders they have grown to believe that everything is owed to them because they are the talent. They deserve special treatment (And sometimes special exceptions) because of who they are and what they think they do for the kingdom. Yet a church could go years without detecting the truth. Especially if all is going well for them and the people around them serve their purpose. It is when the tide changes as they always do the leader will often heap unrealistic expectations on other while excusing themselves.

7. Fake Promises

Toxic leaders often make promises but have no follow through. Promises are not bad if you intend on keeping them. Sometimes plans change and promises are broken but the toxic leader promises with little or no intention of follow through. Proverbs 25:14, states “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.” Growing up in Georgia, I have seen my number of droughts. I remembers spending summers on the farm and how happy my granddad looked to see rain clouds. His livelihood was connected to the rain. When the rain clouds never actually produce any rain he would get visibly frustrated. Likewise, when someone makes lofty promises and does not follow through it can make the follower very frustrated. Depending on the promise, the person’s livelihood could be jeopardize. Toxic leader will often use promises to manipulate people into following their agenda. They use the promise of employment or future ministry opportunities to keep someone on the hook.

The abuse of hope is problematic in the church. It is a common tactic for motivating ministry minded followers. I have seen it destroy people’s faith and confidence in the church. While it is up to us to guard our hearts (Pro. 4:23) fake promises can destroy as much as they can motivate. First, We avoid fake promises by holding people accountable for the promises they make to you. One time a leader made a fantastical promise to me. I pulled out my phone and asked if I can film him making that promise. He declined. At the time he was a little offend but soon realizing how fantastic the promise. Later we talked, and it became a teachable moment for his leadership style. The promises of man should never be used to motivate. Only the promises of God have the power to motivate for they alone are Yes and Amen in Christ. Another way we guard our heart is by knowing when to stop having our trust used against us. At some point, we must say enough is enough and stop believing someone’s word. Instead we hold their word with a grain of salt and for they have shown themselves to be untrustworthy. Don’t keep giving people chance after chance expecting them to finally follow through when they have consistently failed you in the past.


This blog is brought to you by The Remnant Radio, a theology broadcast that exists to educates believers on Theology, Church History and the Gifts of the Spirit. If you would like to know more about Remnant Radio. Here is a short video.

Yellow Flags and Fake Flowers

Today more than every, the American church needs a smell test for fake leaders. Some way to identify the phoniness. They're fake like the flowers on my friends table (see previous post). They look the part but they can’t pass the smell test. They put up a good front with no real substance behind the facade.

I want to give you 7 yellow flags. Something of a smell test. They are types of behaviors that reveal someone is a phony. The list is not exhausted but it does give you an idea of what to look for if you smell something but are not sure.

Note: I say “yellow flags” because we all do these from time to time. One infraction does not make the person “anathema” it only make them a sinner, like the rest of us. So a yellow flag means caution. It tells us to slow down and look more carefully. Our judgment about a person should be measured and weighed over a extended period of time. Also, yellow flags are always cumulative. Someone hits seven of the eight and we should take note. Lastly, these are sinful behaviors. So if you see yourself in any of them. I suggest you repent and stop the behavior immediately before it becomes problematic. You don’t mess with another man wife and not suffer the consequences. How much more do you heap on your own head for hurting the bride of Christ?

1. Fake Humility

C. S. Lewis once wrote, “humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less.” Philippians 2:3 tells us “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”

The toxic leader does not count others more significant. In their own estimation, look at what they are doing for the kingdom. Yet they also know it's not christ-like nor socially acceptable to be selfish. So they mimic humility by faking it. Publicly putting themselves down while selectively avoiding platforming or praising anyone who could take there spotlight. Yet few know this and all are afraid to share it. You should watch out for this seemingly humble person. When no one else is watching they will not put other first.

2. Fake Niceness

Who doesn't like a nice and agreeable person. As proverbs tells us beware of the faltering tongue. The toxic leader has learned this one. It seems as if they are trying to win you, like a politician on the campaign trail. They seem sweet. They smile to your face but will throw you under the bus if you get in their way or it suit them to do so.

Such people have read the leadership books. They know the tricks. They pretend to be interested in what your saying. Truth be told they operate on a reciprocal ethic (like those books teach). It's kind of a give to get thing. They're only looking for you to be nice to them, often to feed their fragile ego. If they don’t get the expected result something is wrong with you. You don’t know how the game is played and so they move on to the next person. Like in Poker some of these have a “tell” all you need to do is trigger it. So go ahead and disagree or offer constructive criticism. You will see an entirely different side to this seemingly nice person

3. Fake Sincerity

Have you ever had someone agree with you to your face. Only to find out later they disagreed with you behind your back. It can be frustrating. The toxic leader will not have the courage to disagree with you nor be truthful to your face. Such behavior is seen in more personal relationships than in formal conversations where public opinion is at stake. In public settings such leaders appear bold but use the truth without grace or love. In private settings, they will tell you what you want to hear and then go do what they want anyway.

In Matthew 5:37, Jesus gives us some insight on how to have sincerity in your speech. “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” Even if the inconsistency is obvious and you confront them 30 times. Every time they will have a excuse. Don’t try to hold them accountable for those lies disguised as oversights. Such people have no intention of being real with you. They will never just let there yes be yes and their no be no. They have no intention of being sincere with you, your just a tool to be used.


The last four flags will be in the next post. This blog is brought to you by The Remnant Radio, a theology broadcast that exists to educates believers on Theology, Church History and the Gifts of the Spirit. If you would like to know more about Remnant Radio. Here is a short video.



Matthew 7:15

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

Some initial observations of Jesus’ words.
Everyone knows Jesus’ description of bad leaders (false prophets). They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The imagery is evocative. Jesus pulls from the prophets where wolves are a common metaphor for the wicked who prey on God's flock (Ezek 22:27, Zeph 3:3). Let’s look at the description Jesus gives this leader.

1.) Inwardly a wolf’s heart
The name wolf identifies an inner nature. People that look normal but have a wolf’s heart. The wolf is bold, opportunistic and ruthless in contrast to its victim, the sheep, which is naive, trusting and vulnerable (Mt 10:16).

3.) Outwardly a sheep’s appearance
The wolf is covered in sheep's clothing. Wolves in sheep’s clothing will likely be very good at blending in and being accepted. They have sheep‘s clothing that means they know how to win people over and appear like the real thing.

The text gives us the clear sign of a toxic leaders. Bad toxic leaders are phoniness. They are phonies, deep fakes of real leaders. Since they are faking it, they lack authenticity and have to copy the behaviors of others just to gets them what they want.

Knowing the Fake
Onetime my wife and I were invited to a friends house for dinner. In the middle of the dining room was an exquisite flower arrangement. The Daisies were perfectly shaped and the tulips appeared bright and alive. It was a beautiful sight to behold. The arrangement made for the perfect centerpiece. Although I enjoyed its beauty, I was not surprised. The husband was a florets. I complimented him on the work. He chuckled and insisted I smell them. I did but they had no sent. I smelt nothing. It was then I realized they weren't real. The Flowers were fake. His wife had made them. They looked good but were complete phonies. In the end, they could not pass the smell test.

In Matthew 7:17-20, Jesus talked about how trees can’t be fake. Behind Jesus’ statement is the common sense assumption that apple trees make apples. If you pick from an apple tree you expect apples. The nature of the tree can’t change. An apple tree cant produce oranges. It’s fruit will reveal what it is by nature. Good trees produce good fruit. People unlike trees can be shifty. They can be unhealthy and try to staple fake ‘good’ fruit on their branches. Yet even with all the fake fruit and shiftiness no one can get away from their hearts true nature. It will come out in little ways. People will take note of the inconsistency. The observant will see the staples. Jesus states this truth, “Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matt 7:20) Jesus’ point is that the wolf’s inner nature no matter how hard they hide it, will show itself in unguarded behavior (Mt 7:15-16). It will be phony behavior, no matter how skilled they are at faking it.

Phoniness or being fake is the first sign of a Toxic leader. In the next blog we will look at the seven warning signs that exposes this phoniness. They seven signs are something of a smell test for such leaders.


Brought to you by The Remnant Radio, a theology broadcast that exists to educates believers on Theology, History and the Gifts of the Spirit. If you would like to know more about Remnant Radio. Here is a short video.



In the book “A Church called Tov” by Scot McKnight, he gives eight false narratives that toxic churches often tell to protect themselves. In Part one we looked at the first four false narratives. In part two we looks at three more false narratives and in this post we will look at the last of the false narratives as well as make some concluding remarks on how to detox from these worldly ways.

The majority of this content comes from the third chapter of McKnight’s book, “A church called Tov”. All quotes are in italics and quotes other than McKnight are cited below. I have ordered McKnight material into sections: First a description of the false narrative and Second some examples for clarity.



 fake apology, [are] not an apology at all. Fake apologies are not issued out of confession or repentance like a true apology. Instead, they condemn the victim, appease the audience, attach excuses, and try to justify inappropriate behavior.

Types of Fake Apologies

Wade Mullen in a post titled “What I’ve Observed When Institutions Try to Apologize and How They Can Do Better.” He describes five types of apologies that are not up to snuff. They don’t make the cut. 9 out of 10 doctors (of theology) would not recommend them. they are the wrong way to do the right thing.

1. The Condemning apology

“the apology that condemns” the other person. “The classic example of this is the apology that says, ‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’” [1] There is no admission of wrongdoing, only a manipulative suggestion that the other person is either too sensitive or has misinterpreted the situation.

1. The obligatory apology or insincere apology

The next “apology” is one that appeases. “It is not an attempt to do all that is necessary to right wrongs, but an attempt to offer only what is needed to quell [an] outcry. ” [2]

2. The “But And” apology

The “apology” that comes with excuses attached. Mullen calls this an “apoloscuse.” It can take many forms, but they all seek to shift the blame or one’s perception of the evildoer.

3. The Self-promotion apology

“apologies” that are couched in terms of self-promotion. “Many public statements of apology . . . become pitches for why [the organization is] still worthy of continued support and engagement from [its] followers.”” [3]
* Mullen adds that organizations should never announce that they are “on the same side as the victims.” That decision, he says, is only for the victims to make.

4. The apology with a hook 

non-apologies that attempt to garner sympathy for the institution. This is the “we’re hurting too” type of statement that tends to “displace the pain of the wounded with the pain of the wounder.” [4] ”

Conclusion: Real apologies, a painful promise and the upside to Genocide

As a people with forgiveness as a core tenet of the faith we should be experts in forgiveness. Something like world class forgivers, a people who hold the gold standard in apologizing. Yet when i look around all I find is elite level apologists of our sin. People able to give an reasoned account why that sin is not really sin. The church need to relearn how to apologies.

Components of a real apology include 
five elements

    1. surrender the need to be right and the desire to defend yourself 

    2. confession of our sin without qualifiers or explanations

    3. ownership of our sin and it’s effects on others 

    4. recognition of the full consequences of sin 

    5. empathy over the hurt you have caused.

In Luke's gospel, Jesus gave a painful promise.  Jesus promised, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17).  So when this promise is fulfilled on this side of the judgment day, it is always mercy. A severe mercy that offers a church or individual the opportunity start over the right way. The five aspects to starting over are 1.) Repent Well 2.) Authentically Apologies 3.) Trust the Gospel 4.) Learn to do right the next time 5.) to live more transparently all the time. These five aspects ought to be lived out. We are to walk them out and as we do we experience something of a detox for the worlds ways. Sadly this way is narrow and few find it.

The havoc that these false narratives have inflicted on a church making it impossible in many quarters of the church to know objectively who is telling the truth. Such a sad reality makes me long for the days when the Holy Spirit killed people who lied to the church. These days if the Holy Spirit returned to that practice we would likely have “help wanted” signs on many churches in America. An upside, fear and awe would fill the church at least until our Starbucks order was completed.



If you like this content then you may enjoy our video featuring Dr. McKnight on this subject. [Click here]. Also if you like this blog you will love the McKnight’s book amazon link below:

A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing by Scot McKnight.


[1] Wade Mullen, “What I’ve Observed When Institutions Try to Apologize and How They Can Do Better,” personal blog, Oct 4, 2022,

[2] Mullen, “What I’ve Observed.”

[3] Mullen, “What I’ve Observed.”

[4] Mullen, “What I’ve Observed.”



Scot McKnight gives Eight false narratives that toxic churches often tell to protect themselves. In Part one we looked at the first four false narratives. In this post, we will look at three more false narratives, leaving the last false narrative for the third post.

All quotes are in italics and come from the third chapter of McKnight’s book, “A church called Tov”. All quotes other than McKnight are cited. I have I have ordered McKnight material into sections: First a description of the false narrative and Second some examples for clarity. We will pick up where we left off with the fifth narrative.


A narrative that make the perpetrator out to be the victim. In it everything is flipped and the perpetrators become the victims. This self-victimization narrative is a textbook example of flipping the script by playing on peoples emotions. The perpetrator uses all the social capital they have to convince others they are the victim.

The aim of the narrative
Such a narrative is seeks to winning in the court of public opinion by falsely claiming victim status often through emotional means. The narrative aims at causing others to give to the perpetrator the compassion as well as the support people would normally give to those that were wronged. They play on the sympathy and emotions of bystanders thus triangulate and win allies.

Common Tactics

Bringing attention to your own pain and thus diminishing the the victims experience. The perpetrator claiming, “we are all hurting here” or calming how ‘sad’ it was they were being exposed. Also claiming things like, How hard the ordeal has been on them and especially  their family.

False accusations that reverse the moral landscape
“a survivor telling her story to others may be accused of hurtful gossiping or divisiveness. Anger is misdirected and listeners are angry with accusers for their mistreatment of the church or pastor.”

In a larger church context, the primarily the use language games to shift narrative by throwing shade at the victim while polishing the church and the leader.

A.) Subtly smearing the victim
Such smearing is seen in subtle ways and well crafted word choices.

They say things like: The “opinions” of a “few” “disgruntled” “former” members, in this way a church can tries to establish the unfairness of the issue.

They use non-verbals to suggest the accusations lack credibility without actually saying it lacks credibility only intimating by non-verbals and tone that its no big deal thus lower it's credibility. Or hint at the people involved are motivated by malice without outright saying it.

They marginalize the concern by passively implying the victim is alone in there option. They make it sound like the victim is the only person with that option.

Then there is my personal favorite The "he is a good guy but" smear. This one caters tot he biases of the larger group. where you seem to affirm the person but also draw associations with groups seen as suspect to the in-group.They say things like "He is a great guy but he has been known to hang out with "those" people. AND You know they are suspect."

B.) Polish their image
“The church seeks to polish its own image — using phrases such as “carefully expressed viewpoint,” “a happier and healthier church,” “God’s kingdom moving forward,” “we have chosen the high road,” and “grace-filled . . . attempts to reconcile.”

Types of Appeals use by church’s or leaders

1.) Appeal to sympathy

“[An] appeal for sympathy can be seen in the church’s reframing of the harm done to others as “mistakes” that the church has now “owned….these events are then described as something the leadership had to ‘endure,’ revealing a perspective that sees one’s self as the primary object of harm.”

“A pastor may lament his weariness or confusion about attacks against his character and against the ministry he spent his life building—and how wounded he was by his accuser going public with the allegations….. These manipulation narratives are highly effective because they plead sympathy for the evildoer. “

2.) Appeal to biblical protocols (as they see interpret them)

"Voices of authority at the church may explain how accusers are “not behaving biblically” or are refusing to engage in relationship restoration.... Churches also appeal to their commitment to biblical standards as another means of falsely claiming victim status. Church leadership contends the accusers are behaving contrary to biblical teaching. The church claims the high road because they are following the Bible. The accusers are discredited and the church becomes the victim".

3.) Appeal to Protecting Reputations

Leaders may appeal to protecting the reputation of the ministers involved or of the church. In this way, the church is the victim because accusers are harming its reputation and good work.



Sometimes churches create a “silencing narrative” often through legally means. This is the main distortion with the next narrative below, suppressing the truth. Silencing the truth draws most of it’s power from legal consequence.

The church preserves its public reputation, and its false narrative remains intact. Narratives that silence people prevent the truth from becoming known, create confusion for people who sense something is wrong but can’t put their finger on it, and sow discord between those who try to speak up and others who choose to believe the false narrative.

Aim of silencing narratives
An added layer of Protection by the prevention of “negative information from becoming known.

Two common kinds of silencing narratives
1.) Members covenant (legally binding contract with a group)

Membership covenants, which have become increasingly common in some American churches, are a way for church leaders to prevent negative information from becoming known.

2.) A nondisclosure agreement (NDA).

[A] nondisclosure agreements are designed to silence people who know about bad things that happened behind the scenes and who agree to keep their mouths shut in exchange for some type of severance package or other compensation.”

If you sign a NDA you're legally bound under threat of the law to remain silent. They are “incapable of establishing justice by speaking truthfully about what they know or have seen or heard.



A variation of the silencing narrative is suppression of the truth, Forms of this include shaming, intimidation, threatening spiritual or financial consequences, or destruction of evidence.

There are numerous ways to suppress the truth it is all a matter of finding the leverage needed for the situation. Here are some common ways to suppress the truth:

1.) Leader responds to accusation, or suspicious questioning, by threatening a lawsuit.
Note: Such threats are heavy handed intimidation. It power rises from the economics of the situation. For the collective resources of a church community will always outweighs the the financial ability of an single individual.

2.) They may also accuse the accuser of sowing discord and division, or “bearing false witness” against one’s brother or sister. Social stigma and shame is a powerful tool to suppress the truth. Making speaking up the problem not the actual problem being the problem.

3.) They may state that an independent investigation has been done and found no wrongdoing, and thus cut off any further inquiry. This tactic draws power from the appearance of due diligence to the initial inquiry.[1]

4.) They may also appeal to the pastor’s or church’s reputation to manipulate the victim into silence. They say things like, “Don’t tarnish the public wittiness of the church, you love!” Or don’t tarnish the name of Christ in bringing this to light..

5.) Another way of suppressing the truth is by coercion and intimidation of the witnesses. This one runs the spectrum from heavy handed clarity to implicate but threatening.

Where there is a lack of transparency, there will always be some suspicion. When the truth is suppressed and silence is maintained, abusers are able to move on and abuse and wound others. The victim and the silencers are the only ones who know what happened. When silence and suppression become false narratives, the story they tell is that victims don’t matter and the abusers’ acts are not worthy of discovery.


In Part Three, we will look at the last of McKnight's false narratives.  If you like this content and you may enjoy our video featuring Dr. McKnight on this subject. [Click here]. Also if you like this blog you will love the McKnight's book amazon link below:

A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing by Scot McKnight.



[1] An independent investigation is support to be unbiased. The investigation is suppose to leave no stone unturned as they look for wrong doing. So that if no wrong doing is found is is justifiable to drop the issue.  In today's world transparency is needed at every point of the process. Questions like, How the independent investigators were selected need to be freely answered. As well as the evidence, methods and prodigals uses by the team should be open to scrutiny. Such openness insures the findings of an independent investigation will be above reproach or at least reasonably done without bias.



Scot McKnight in his book “A Church called Tov” gives Eight false narratives that toxic churches often tell to protect themselves. The narratives are something like institutional defense mechanisms. When criticisms or crisis arise look for these false narratives. They are signs of toxicity, marks of a toxic church culture. Evidence that there is some poison in the pound-cake.

All quotes are in italics and come from the third chapter of McKnight’s book, “A church called Tov”. All quotes other than McKnight are cited. I have I have ordered McKnight material into sections: First a description of the false narrative and Second some examples for clarity.


“This false narrative is based on an age-old trick: If you don’t want to admit the truth of an accusation, discredit the accuser instead.”

The aim is to undermine credibility by discrediting an accusers motives or character.

Two examples

1.) “[A] strategy is character assassination. Character assassination seeks to get the congregation to question the truth of the accuser’s story by casting doubt on the accuser.”

2.) “Another way of discrediting the critics is to question their motives. If you can’t get ’em on character, try collusion. Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory.”


“portraying the accusers as evildoers who are trying to harm the church and all its good work for Christ’s Kingdom. ..if the critics are evil, they are not to be trusted and one can therefore dismiss what they say about the pastor and the church.”

Example of demonizing language

“What the men are saying is Satanic to the core and must be dealt with very directly.”
“Separate from these false messengers.”
They have been deceived by the enemy
The enemy is using them


“Spinning a story is a deceitful strategy designed to hijack the accuser’s narrative and create an alternative version—an intentionally false narrative that supports the pastor and the church while creating doubt about the allegations.”

Examples of Spin

1.) When a story is turned around and people are told the accusations are false and just fabricated as a means of pay back for a perceived offense.

2.) When a leader misquotes and misrepresents someone to re-frame the issue in question. That is spin. The poker tell of spin is how difficult it is to believe that such distortions are accidental.

3.) When a pastor tells his congregation a vague explanation that is in the same emotional zip code as the truth. Often what is said sounding vaguely right like yet upon further reflection the statement is hollow or illogical. You realize they have not say anything all. It  sounded like a profound insight, the right thing for that moment but in reality they say nothing to avoid saying the real thing.

When a leader speaks gives excuses sees for letting someone go

wanted a bigger challenge
Transitioning out of his position
Leaving “on good terms”
Moved on to pursue other things

4.) When a pastor tells his congregation that a suspiciously absent minister has moved on to pursue other things. When in reality they were fired for clearly unethical behavior.


In practice, gaslighting is “a form of psychological manipulation in which a person . . . sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment. . . . Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.” [1]

Gaslighting is psychological warfare. In Gaslighting the accuser re-framing the issue then making counteraccusations that contradict the perceived reality of the victim. Such a tactic is a powerful means of psychological manipulation with the aim of messing with someone’s head.

“A counteraccusations is designed to get into the woman’s head and make her question her own account—what she knows happened—and destabilize her to the point of wondering if she is sane….Some victims back down at this point because of the power differential and how much effort it takes to overcome the pain inflicted by gaslighting.”

The practice of gaslighting is intentional strategic lying. It is talking to someone in such a way as to make them feel destabilized, that is like they are going crazy. The result is a person so frustrated confused and destabilized that they to act crazy and so validate the gaslighter’s lies.

McKnight quotes Sociologist Paige Sweet to emphasize the “social characteristics that actually give gaslighting its power.”[2]

Specifically, gaslighting is effective when it is rooted in social inequalities, especially gender and sexuality, and executed in power-laden intimate relationships. When perpetrators mobilize gender-based stereotypes, structural inequalities, and institutional vulnerabilities against victims with whom they are in an intimate relationship, gaslighting becomes not only effective, but devastating. [3]

In churches, gaslighting often comes with the force of the whole community behind it. The social pressure can compound the destabilization. As McKnight explains:

“When an accuser is gaslighted from the platform of a church, by a trusted pastor with leadership support, the destabilization becomes all the more intense because the prevailing narrative now appears to be connected to God’s truth, and it has been broadcast to a crowd of people who accept the church’s story. No wonder many accusers choose not to report abuse or back down once they meet resistance.”


In Part Two, we will look at three of the last four of McKnight's false narratives. Thus leaving the final narrative for a third post. If you like this content and you may enjoy our video featuring Dr. McKnight on this subject. [Click here]. Also if you like this blog you will love the McKnight's book amazon link below.

A Church Called Tov: Forming a Goodness Culture That Resists Abuses of Power and Promotes Healing by Scot McKnight.



[1] “Gaslighting,” Wikipedia,
[2] Paige L. Sweet, “The Sociology of Gaslighting,” American Sociological Review 84, no. 5 (2019): 852,
[3] Sweet, “The Sociology of Gaslighting.”



1. “Some well-organized business enterprise?”

“We tend to think of Christ building his invisible church, and our building the visible church. We tend to think in this kind of dichotomy. So our building of the visible church becomes much like any natural business function, using natural means and natural motives. How many times do we find that in doing the business of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is a rapid opening of prayer, a rapid closing prayer after half the people have left, but in between there is no difference between doing the Lord’s business and the business of some well-organized business enterprise? Instead of that, we should always look to Him, and always wait and pray for His leading, moment by moment. This is a different world.”

–Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1971/2001), p. 152.

2. “The simple tragic fact”

“The church’s or Christian group’s methods are as important as its message. It is to deal consciously with the reality of the supernatural. Anything that exhibits unfaith is a mistake, or may even be a corporate sin. The liberal theologians get rid of the supernatural in their teaching, but the unfaith of the evangelical can in practice get rid of the supernatural.
May I put it like this? If I woke up tomorrow morning and found that all that the Bible teaches concerning prayer and the Holy Spirit were removed (not as a liberal would remove it, by misinterpretation, but really removed) what difference would it make in practice from the way we are functioning today? The simple tragic fact is that in much of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ – the evangelical Church – there would be no difference whatsoever.
We function as though the supernatural were not there. If the Church does not show forth the supernatural in our generation, what will? The Lord’s work done in the Lord’s way does not relate only to its message, it relates also to the method. There must be something the world cannot explain away by the world’s methods, or by applied psychology.”

–Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1971/2001), pp. 150-51.

3. “The central problem of our age”

“Christians must humble themselves to know the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit. To the extent that we do not humble ourselves, there will be no power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Lord’s work in the Lord’s way is the Lord’s work in the power of the Holy Spirit and not in the power of the flesh.

The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat.

The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.”

–Francis Schaeffer, No Little People(Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1974/2003), 66.

4. “The church is something beautiful”

“One cannot explain the explosive power of the early church apart from the fact that they practiced two things simultaneously: the orthodoxy of doctrine and orthodoxy of community in the midst of the visible church, a community which the world could see.
By the grace of God, therefore, the church must be known simultaneously for its purity of doctrine and the reality of its community. Our churches have so often been only preaching points with very little emphasis on community. But the exhibition of the love of God in practice is beautiful and must be there.

We have, then, two sets of parallel couplets: (1) the principle of the purity of the visible church, and yet the practice of observable love among all true Christians; and (2) the practice of orthodoxy of doctrine and observable orthodoxy of community in the visible church. The heart of these sets of principles is to show forth the love of God and the holiness of God simultaneously. If we show either of these without the other, we exhibit not the character, but a caricature of God for the world to see. If we stress the love of God without the holiness of God, it turns out only to be compromise. But if we stress the holiness of God without the love of God, we practice something that is hard and lacks beauty. And it is important to show forth beauty before a lost world and a lost generation. All too often people have not been wrong in saying that the church is ugly. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are called upon to show a watching world and to our own young people that the church is something beautiful.

Several years ago I wrestled with the question of what was wrong with much of the church that stood for purity. I came to the conclusion that in the flesh we can stress purity without love or we can stress the love of God without purity, but that in the flesh we cannot stress both simultaneously. In order to exhibit both simultaneously, we must look moment by moment to the work of Christ, to the work of the Holy Spirit. Spirituality begins to have real meaning in our moment-by-moment lives as we begin to exhibit simultaneously the holiness of God and the love of God.”

–Francis Schaeffer, “The Church Before the Watching World” in The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, Volume Four, A Christian View of the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1982), 152.

5. “What Christians are to wear”

“First, Christians are called upon to love all men as neighbors, loving them as ourselves. Second, we are to love all true Christian brothers in a way that the world may observe.
This means showing love to our brothers in the midst of our differences– great or small– loving our brothers when it costs us something, loving them even under times of tremendous emotional tension, loving them in a way the world can see.
In short, we are to practice and exhibit the holiness of God and the love of God, for without this we grieve the Holy Spirit.

Love -and the unity it attests to– is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father.” (John 13:34-35; 17:21)

–Francis Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, Volume Four, A Christian View of the Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1982), 204.



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