Friday, January 16, 2009

Kerry Shook

I was flipping through the channels last night (as any good male human does), and I stopped to listen to Kerry Shook preach on some supposedly Christian network. Now I have no idea who this guy is but just listening to his sermon would be a great example of Horton's book, Christless Christianity. His sermon was therapy for men who have experienced "identity theft". Our true need is to choose Jesus so that we can be the best we can be (in Jesus of course).

If you read his site's statement on "What We Believe", you will find nothing heretical. In fact, it is quite good. But this is exactly Horton's argument throughout his book. Notice Shook's mission statement.
Our mission is to help people experience Christ – rather than man’s creation of religion – so they can take the Christ Experience back to the community and the world.

Our church is guided by The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. Our mission is biblically-based and relevant. Our mission is to reach people for Christ, grow them strong in Christ so they can go out and make a difference for Christ in the world.

Now on the face if this, who would disagree? Who doesn't want people to "experience" Christ? Yet is this man's true need? The substance of the sermon easily could have been preached by one of Oprah's guests or Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura.

Now of course the response would be that we need forgiveness in Jesus and that we need to be "in Christ" so that we could live our true identity. However, if you pay close attention, Shook, at least in the message I was listening to, wasn't preaching man's deadness in sin or Christ's righteous life or the holiness of God. Instead it was Christian therapy. Although Jesus' name was sprinkled throughout the message, the message was Christless.

In essence, the premise must be challenged. Is our mission truly to go and get people to experience Christ? Is that really what Apostolic preaching is in the Bible? Notice this portion of the website's statement.
"We believe in a great commitment to the great commission and the great commandment will grow a great church!"

The Great Commandment
"Jesus said, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart...soul...and mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.' " Matthew 22:36-40

Again, I don't think guys like this are intentionally trying to distort the Gospel. I want to be clear. Shook is probably a good Christian man who loves Christ. He may really want to see men "experience" the Christian faith. But again, growing a great church through the "Great Commandment"? My friend, it is not more law or "law lite" that man needs. There is a wholesale confusion between the categories of law and Gospel among Evangelicals. We want more advice. We want more practical preaching. We have basically become at least semi-Pelagian if not Pelagian.

I think Romans 1:16 says it best.
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.
Instead, we believe in man's free-will and use every Finney-ite trick or moral therapeutic exhortations or music or whatever in place of the Gospel.

It really is that simple. Perhaps if we truly believed in the Gospel, we would actually preach it.

Horton's book may be the most important book I have read in years. It is an accurate description of the state of the American church. If you don't have a copy, go buy it now!

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

This Kerry shook seems questionable, and with so many people backing his books that are well known prosperity preacher heretics, "Joel Osteen" and "Rick Warren" being the leading false prophets---I'd agree with you.

Only thing I'd encourage you to read into sir/ma'am, is the "semi-Pelagian" claim. Spend some time reading into the Ante-Nicene church fathers and I guarantee you may renounce that claim. Pelagius was a man/preacher of holiness--not Oprah/Dr.Phil sermons. If you study the writings of the first 80AD-300AD of the Early Church, you'd see they would have probably denounced Augustine as heretic, and Pelagius the more Biblical one(though I don't agree with all I've read of Pelagius, he's much closer than Augustine to true Biblical and traditional faith passed down from the apostles directly after Christ death.). And don't take this as a slight, I used to believe a lot of false things before I actually began studying the Bible more... I learned many doctrines taught in today's American churches are outright heresy, some even semi-Gnostic. God Bless

Howard Fisher said...

Thanks for the comment. I doubt I'd renounce the semi-pelagian claim. Most of us naturally bend to that since the Law is written upon our hearts and man is bound under the Covenant of Works. It is our default way of thinking.

You may think my position is in error (my rejection of Pelagianism), but to refer to the fact that much of Evangelicalism is semi-Pelagian is not an overstatement or a view that I think could really be disputed.

1) The Fathers are not my ultimate authority.

2) I have read the Apostloic Fathers and several writings of the early church. If you are attempting to say they were Pelagian, I can't even begin to see how you may go there, but you have your freedom to think so. ;-)

The writings of the Fathers are anything but a unified group of theological writings. Perhaps the comparison could be made that there is as much diversity among them as there is in a so-called Christian book store today. :-)

3) My ultimate infallible authority is Scripture Alone. Pelagius missed the Gospel entirely. He missed the Covenant of Works as opposed to the Covenant of Grace. There are only two men (mankinds or humanities). Adam and Christ. All in Adam die. All in Christ are made alive.

4) Augustine must be seen in light of his own controversies. His battle with the Donatists formed his erroneous doctrine of the church. His battle with Pelagius caused him to rethink much of what he had come believe.

As the great Princeton theologian, Warfield, once said, "For the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine's doctrine of grace over Augustine's doctrine of the Church."

In conclusion, (And I do not say this as a slight) if you really believe Pelagius was a man that understood the Gospel and you agree with him, then I would suggest you do not know what the Gospel is either.

Romans 5 is all too clear. But perhaps I am misreading your comment?

Anonymous said...

Awesome! I found this again.

I've read a lot of the Early Church Fathers quotes with as full context as possible(I don't own the 18 volume set), and a few of the works online. I see them quite unified on many things...

1)Agreed, They are not, but I do lend them authority before any other book/writers of today, especially Augustine since his writings had a profound impact on the church.

2) How? I see much talk of free will and not strict predestination as most consistent Calvinists define it today. I see rarely any talk about being born sinful with no choice(and see most of them claiming sin is choice and choice alone with no one taking fault for sin but the sinner himself, see Ezekiel 18), Tertullian is the only exception I've read that hinted towards being born sinful--but since he did later depart to a Montanist Gnostic sect, so I'm leery of his words. I see MUCH writing about HAVING to keep the commandments to enter Heaven, and one sin(even in thought) will dismiss us from grace, and definitely see them claiming one can "lose" salvation, or not attain it once falling back into sin.

I don't understand why everyone claims they're not unified, maybe I'm not reading the right Father's works? I've been through many quotes within 70AD-300AD, I don't see too much disagreement on main things, especially the above few things I listed(there are many more).


As for Pelagius, I have not read much, so I won't go in over my head about him.

3) That sounds like a universalist position? Forgive me if I'm mistaken.

4) Don't care much for Augustine because of his former 9 year Gnosticism prior to conversion, and the fact that he didn't read Greek--it doesn't surprise me that he brought many false teachings into the church. It's like an atheist who converted, but couldn't let go of evolution and taught it was compatible with Genesis 1. I would agree with this statement you said though.

Romans 5 is fine... quite clear "because all sinned"
And again I would press the consistency of Romans 5 if you believe it teaches we're born sinful, if all automatically became sinners because of Adam--then all are automatically saved because of Christ's sacrifice(this is why I asked you about universalism).

I think this issue I often find, is people don't know there's two(at least) types of law in Scripture, the Mosaic and the Natural(and the Early church affirms this, I had called it the moral law prior to seeing their writings). Jesus even reaffirms it by saying the law will not pass away(so it certainly cannot be the Mosaic law because it did, the covenant is gone). This is why Paul was often fighting off the Judaizers trying to convert Gentiles to the Mosaic law, and had to talk about it so often in his letters.

Reading all of 1 John, how it teaches how to know who is and who is not a Christian by using the commandments(natural law and above), and how to know you have salvation, and how not to sin(and this letter partly speaks against Gnostic heresies of complete sinlessness and Christ not in the flesh), I don't see how one cannot see that Christians must walk as Christ did--or they're not Christians.

I don't think we'll reconcile this, but this is what I clearly see in Scripture, and my reading of the Early church writings only fortified it. Because after those first 300 years, things really started falling apart--so I think they had something right overall.

Didn't mean to turn the whole tide of talk from Kerry Shook--but I've seen some of his sermons and teachings, he's on my watch list--I've seen a lot of "entertainment" and little expositional teaching from the Bible from him... just a bunch of half truths. Tell others, don't let them get sucked into his "One Month to Live" trash---Jesus' words are enough.

God Bless

Howard Fisher said...

Howdy again Anonymous,

Thanks for the comments and interaction. I don't know that I have ever talked with an actual quasi-Pelagian. So this is quite fascinating for me. I think I'll just hit on a couple of thoughts you raised, and if you want to go from there we may.

1) "Reading all of 1 John, how it teaches how to know who is and who is not a Christian by using the commandments(natural law and above"

I think discussing this point may answer some of your "law" questions. We must keep in mind that the language of the Reformation came about due to the nature of the debate and the times in which they were raised. The early church does speak about the Gospel and works. But the theology of properly putting them in proper categories was not a part of the discussion of the day. The debates were the One true God, The humanity of Christ (Gnosticism), obviously the Trinity and the Deity of Christ, the donatist controversy and then the Pelagian controversy (among others I am sure).

There will always be anti-nomians among us and there will always be some pietistic/monastic movement among us as well. 1 John simply explains the Gospel and its effects in another fashion. The true Christian loves God's law. This is descriptive. The Gospel is in the indicative, not the imperative. It causes the imperative.

2) "if all automatically became sinners because of Adam--then all are automatically saved because of Christ's sacrifice(this is why I asked you about universalism)."

This misses some major biblical categories that the Apostle sets up. There are only two humanities, Adam and Christ. All who are IN Adam shall die. All who are IN Christ shall be made alive. So this is far from universalism.

You must understand the Covenantal nature of Scripture. It is exactlyt this point that mankind becomes offended due to free-will assumptions. This is Pelagius' big problem. It is also the problem of everyone today.

The reason Christians are not to sin while being perfectly saved is their union with Christ. Paul explains i romans 6 the very question you are raising. In fact, it is evidence that the Gospel is being preached correctly.

If you are accusing the Christian of being antinomian, then you are the imaginary objector of Paul, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? May it never be!"

We must allow Paul's answer explain how the law functions in the life of the Christian. The true Christian has died with Christ and is buried with Him. He is also raised with Him. If this is true, then how can we continue to live sin without any repentance at all? And yet God has left us in a state with abiding sin. Why? To cause us to always come to Christ. To always believe in what Christ has done for us. To always look to His finished work as our perfect representative. To always see His righteousness as our own and not our filthy works that declares us right with God.

3) " Jesus even reaffirms it by saying the law will not pass away(so it certainly cannot be the Mosaic law because it did, the covenant is gone).

This is part of your error. Although you rightly understand that we make a theological distinction between natural law and the Mosaic Law, Jesus was referring to the Scriptures and the law contained therein (jot tittle?).

I would highly recommend Richard Barcellos' book, In Defense of the Decalogue.

Obviously the Gentile Christian is not bound to the geo-political laws of national Israel, yet the "Law" referred to in Jeremiah and fulfilled in Hebrews 8 is the very natural law that is summed up in the Ten Commandments. It is the Covenantal Law now written not upon tablets of stone but on the heart.

Anonymous said...

Phillipians 1:18 seems appropriate.

Howard Fisher said...

Anonymous, I only wish that were true, but if you read my post carefully, you will see that is the problem. We are not preaching Christ.

Anonymous said...

ALL tele-evangelists are frauds! They're nothing more than monetary villains preying on gullible, vulnerable and mostly not very intelligent people. Organized religion is the oldest fraud known to humankind. Though more and more of the world is becoming more secular (thank goodness) there's still going to be the weary members of the flock who can't shed their blinders and see the truth as it is in science. Since science currently isn't able to conclusively dismiss a god (not yet anyway)the day will come when there is 100% certainty that science will have proven that god does NOT exist. Anyone with a good head on their shoulders disbelieves religiously and spiritually. Atheism can only lead you on a path of realism. Try it you may find that you like it.

Howard Fisher said...

Wow Anonymous, no category errors there or religiously held presuppositions that are easily challenged, eh. (sarcasm)

Sorry, your ignorance and ignorant rant may inspire the "go get 'em" crowd, but if you are seriously trying to persuade those who hold true Christian beliefs, then you need to do better.

Sorry if I sound impatient, but atheism is just so lame anymore.

Howard Fisher said...

Wow Anonymous, no category errors there or religiously held presuppositions that are easily challenged, eh. (sarcasm)

Sorry, your ignorance and ignorant rant may inspire the "go get 'em" crowd, but if you are seriously trying to persuade those who hold true Christian beliefs, then you need to do better.

Sorry if I sound impatient, but atheism is just so lame anymore.

Anonymous said...

In all honesty just watching Kerry Shook ONCE for ONE sermon and making a judgment based on that ONE sermon is exactly what Jesus preached against. J U D G E M E N T. He said "Judge NOT less Ye be Judged."

I am disabled, highly intelligent--genius I.Q with 3 degrees, written up in books, magazines, etc. if you must judge me by my intelligence for watching aforementioned programs. I am hardly the unwashed morons you are indicating watch these Christian programs. I watch several pastors: Charles Stanley, Andrew Wommack, David Jeremiah, Kerry Shook, Jewish Jesus, etc. I have studied at the Seminary level all the great teachers, apostolic fathers, saints, etc. Robertson isn't the ONLY authority by far and a book called "The Most Dangerous Man in America" shows his denial of civil rights and religious freedom this country was founded on he is doing besides his alleged good Christian deeds. I watch him too and I don't put him down, I simply listen. I understand he believes what he is saying and while I may not agree with it all I wouldn't question how devout he was to Jesus in his own way. Same with the others. I watch all of them to get their different viewpoints.

I then compare what they say with the Bible and decide for myself what works best for ME. I don't judge somebody if their viewpoint is different than mine. I am no legalist. Each has a different way of presenting their sermon for what works best with their "Style". I watch Catholic programs too to understand their viewpoint. They are ALL of God and Jesus. Each mentions Jesus and some of them really distort biblical teachings i.e. Song of Solomon has been interpreted to be all about Jesus when it's not but I wouldn't call that person a fraud, simply say that's his viewpoint. I wouldn't question his devotion to Jesus or God either. This "religious freedom" was supposedly the reason this country was once so great. But it has become so narrow-minded and judgmental that it is often nothing related to biblical teachings at all but more about man's power and control over another.

You call people names and this is the primary reason so many people turn away from Christianity. All this ridiculous name-calling and stupid judgment. You don't like Kerry's style so he's a fraud in your book. Kerry Shook isn't a phony, he just doesn't have a style of preaching you like, so move on, turn the channel, but REALLY, ONE sermon you didn't like and YOU Mr. Allegedly Perfect Know-it-All Christian put down him and anybody else who doesn't agree with you. This is why Christianity is in trouble. We spend more time on this kind of judgment than getting the message of faith, love, hope, and peace which was what Jesus REALLY said out to the masses. We put down each other's churches, etc. rather then "Living and Let Live" as John Stuart Mills wrote and getting out what the Bible says without interpretation. You are entitled to your opinion of course but because you are so dogmatic and legalistic you are not much better than the very Pharisees and other legalists Jesus challenged.

Howard Fisher said...

Wow! Mr. Anonymous, you couldn't have read my post for no one who claims to be so super-de-dooper smart could have missed what I wrote so badly.

But what is even worse is the super judgmental arrogance with which you write. Simply amazing and hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

I guess I watch way too much Christian TV and, quite frankly, I don't know who to believe. I have studied the Bible for many years and am also married to a retired Southern Baptist preacher (who disagrees with some of the stuff the Southern Baptist Convention has voted on). Most of these TV preachers/evangelists say you have to believe what they say. If you disagree, they say they are right and you are wrong. Some of them will lead you believe that you aren't saved if you don't have the specific "spiritual" gifts that they have. Some of them say that you are never supposed to get sick and you can have anything you want if you just concentrate on it long enough or donate to their ministry. I grew up in Orthodox Judaism but was saved in 1980. Now Christians are wearing prayer shawls and promising all kinds of blessings on the Jewish holidays. I wasn't even taught all of this in my over 30 years attending synagogue. Why has Christianity become so confusing?

Howard Fisher said...

I'll simply say this. Christianity has never been a monolithic, top down, controlled by any human being, organization. Christians are no more united to perfection than the Jews of Jesus' day were. Simply look at some of the more ascetic Jews such as those who provided the Dead Sea Scrolls.

What I think you will find amazing, is that if you look at those who take Sola Scriptura, Scripture Alone seriously, such as Reformed Baptists and Conservative Presbyterians, you will find they have far more unity in theology, despite their obvious differences, than any two Roman Catholics who claim to have perfect unity in Rome's Church.

It is not as bad as you may think.

Mstreye said...

Hi. I can understand your feeling Kerry Shook might be a "Joel Osteenish" type preacher since you've only heard one message from him. I am a member of his church and though admittedly he probably doesn't preach on sin's cost enough, he has preached and shown some good illustrations on the cost of our sin and how it nailed Jesus to the cross.

Obviously, he is not a "fire and brimstone preacher", unfortunately that kind of preaching is hard to find these days.

In any event, we cannot rely on preachers, television or in our church alone to teach us God's Word. We must, through the help of the Holy Spirit, do our own study and research and, as the Word puts it, "rightly divide the truth."

In other words, we must compare what we are taught via television pastors (or televangelists) and/or our Pastor to the Word of God and see if they line up.

One poster posted they watch David Jeremiah and Charles Stanley. I too watch them. You have to be very careful who you allow to teach you the Word which is the whole point of this discussion from my observation.

My former Pastor who is now in Heaven, taught very much like David Jeremiah does. He would teach series of teachings and thoroughly research the Bible and use an abundance of Scripture in his teaching, unlike the common practice of using only 2 scriptures in a 30 min. "sermonette for Christianettes" as my former Pastor used to call them.

I also do not like Pastors (you know who I'm referring to here) saying "the Scripture says" without telling where the Scripture is found.

May God bless each of you in your journey with Him

Home Site said...

Anonymous to take one verse out of context makes you in the error .Jesus did not say it is wrong to judge .He said do not judge another in the s sin you yourself are in .The bible exposes and names names and says to judge . The problem in the church is the foolishness of not judging and letting anything and everything go .Mstreye yes the holy spirit and the bible alone .That why I not longer go to church .I trsut no preacher anymore .Over an Over I hear something false and they to prideful to accept rebuke .Because hey they are the pastor .Being a Bereans is not accepted today .I hand out gospel tracts and seek to reach the lost .Churches even yours are playing church .In the four wall and money money money .