This is part 2 of a post I wrote discussing my re-construction (not deconstruction) of my faith and understanding of God’s word. I am not saying that I am not a Christian anymore nor am I saying I have some weird theology or belief now. This is about me going back to the basics of faith in Christ, reading and following the bible more, and just re-evaluating erroneous beliefs I had picked up over 20 years of being a Christian.
Catch up on part 1, and continue below to see where I am today compared to where I was. I hope this post encourages you to grow, learn, question, even be OK with doubt or not knowing everything. I know it has been helpful to me.
If you are caught up with my first piece discussing why I re-evaluated a lot of teachings I had accepted as a Christian, then I will jump right into where I am now and resources for those who have similar struggles.
So to recap, most of my first years as a Christian in church were Pentecostal/Charismatic churches and sadly I caught a lot of bogus theology while I was in them. I still am a Charismatic in that I am not a cessationist and I believe (and have seen many times with my own eyes or myself being used by God) in the gifts of the spirit still being active today. I’m not going to go into a debate as to why, though I do recommend some videos below on this.
When I left King Jesus Ministries, a huge Hispanic church in Miami, FL, then went to International House Of Prayer Miami (IHOP), I was still dealing with spiritual fogginess. There were teachings that I was questioning in my mind but so many people believed them and they were preached on a pulpit followed by thousands of people, I would think to myself “who am I to think that I know more?”. How could I find theological errors from someone who has supposedly studied the bible for years and went to school with a degree in theology? Yet, for years, there were points that I disagreed with and it was actually pretty simple to pick apart when I went back to scripture.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
Let me give a few examples, and then I will go on to explain what helped me get freedom and clear up my thoughts from the nonsense that I was listening to. I gave a similar list in my previous post, but I want to point out a few more that came to mind while writing this post.
- Money: The almighty dollar that is talked about so much, especially in certain churches. I found that many times I was guilt-tripped into giving, and if I didn’t, the blessings of God would not come to my life. The preached always connected God to money, and the less I gave or lack thereof, then I couldnt’ expect my life to go as God planned. It was like I was in a church casino and I had to make sure I was pulling the right slots to win my prize.
- Obeying authority: Whatever the pastor/leader/mentor said, goes and that was that. Even if you point out that scripturally what they were telling you to do was incorrect, they were still right because they “know more than you do”, or “you have to go through the process”. This was all an excuse to lord themselves over others and feel powerful, yet they were leading people down the wrong path and sometimes into sin.
- Volunteer till you drop: Another way that the church (ERJ) made you feel like you weren’t doing enough (Hillsong was in the news about this) was if you didn’t serve more. Their reasoning was that if you wanted to be in God’s Kingdom, it had to be in a church and that would be by helping out in various ministries. Whether it was being an usher, holding a door, photography, media, music, singing, cleaning, running the bookstore or holding the pastor’s bible, there was something that had to be done. They would give you a guilt trip by saying that if you didn’t help out in the church, you weren’t really a Christian or you were being selfish with your gifts and time. Of course, you were never paid for any of this as some people (myself included) would be in church up to 3-5 times a week for hours each time. It felt like a part-time job and you were constantly critisized if you didn’t meet their standards.
I can write about even more examples, but the point of this article is to help others get out of an abusive church or spiritual environment. The key that got me moving forward was reading the bible more, putting the words of scripture at a higher authority than any leader past or present, and having the boldness to disagree and say no whenever I heard a teaching that wasn’t right.
2 Peter 2:1
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
Churches are difficult to contradict because it’s a place where often we have friends or family that we talk to every week and commune with. They may be doing or believing something we don’t feel is biblically correct but we follow along anyways. If so many others are obeying what is taught on the pulpit, why should we question it?
As I began to look for assistance in understanding what I was going through and get others’ opinions, I found several books, Youtube channels, podcasts, and blogs that were a blessing. These people have already been through what I was going through and have been set free from bad teaching. There were a few I would have mentioned early on in my journey of freedom but looking at them now, some were very judgmental and “heresy hunters”, thus spending all their time bashing those they disagree with.
If someone is a false prophet or teaching scripture incorrectly it doesn’t mean we should laugh at them or insult them. Call them out and let others know to avoid them but also pray for their salvation and to turn from their ways.
17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Here are a few of my favorite content creators, but definitely give the full list below a look and see what you may find helpful. Let me know what you thought also in the comments and share anything you felt has helped you in your faith journey.
- Remnant Radio: These guys, Joshua Lewis, Michael Roundtree and Michael Miller, have been a true Godsend. They interview people from all over the body of Christ from different denominations or viewpoints and discuss different topics. Whether it’s baptism, gifts of the Spirit, end times, false prophets, true prophecy, or dealing with the same points I’ve brought up they bring a refreshing way of living out our faith. It’s not with the attitude of proving that they are right and others are wrong, but taking an honest look at scripture and as they say, destabilizing theological echo chambers. I posted several of their videos below in the resource section, instead of posting them here. I recommend going through their channel and clicking “watch later” or listen to them on your podcast app of choice, there are so many that it’s hard not to link to the majority of them!
- Books: So many books! I threw away at least 20-30 books, as well as deleted at least 50 or more from my kindle/ebook library. Yes, it was that bad, and I was consuming all that trash for years. I’ve been able to find a wealth of strong biblical authors from the past and present that have blessed my life. Among the top ones on my list, check out anything from Sam Storms who also has a podcast. His material will give you a practical roadmap on the gifts of the spirit among other topics. Charles Spurgeon’ devotional is on my dining table and it’s a good one, though I need to read it more. Boundaries is another one that is just that, explains how to have boundaries in your life and keeping toxic relationships or situations out.
- Youtube Channels: Here is where I want to thank some amazing Youtubers that make some fantastic content and have gone over questions, doubts and misunderstandings I’ve had for many years and given me clarity. People like Allen Parr, Ruslan KD, Melissa Dougherty, Dr. Sean McDowell, and others. Their discussions and honesty has been so refreshing after being around so many people who hide behind their pulpit, authority and populatiry.
I hope this post has been useful to you and given you options if you are stuck in a spiritual rut. I know I was, and until I started listening to others who had dug themselves out of that hole by God’s grace and mercy did I get ever get clarity. God has been so good to me, and I cannot thank Him enough for showing me out of so much garbage that I was attached to spiritually.
Question what sounds off, read your bible, and clean out your bookshelf if you have to. Get back to the basics of the faith (prayer, scripture, worship, fellowship with other believers, loving others and loving God) and don’t make it more complicated than it is. The gospel is simple, yet very profound, and if you know Christ you are a new creation in Him.
Let me know in the comments how I can help, which resource you found helpful and what your journey of faith has been like so far.
- Didache: Teaching of the Apostles
- Understanding Spiritual Warfare: A Comprehensive Guide
- Family Worship: In the Bible, In History, and In Your Home
- ESV Study Bible
- 50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Spiritual Giants of the Faith
- Morning and Evening: A New Edition of the Classic Devotional Based on The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
- 77 FAQs About God and the Bible: Your Toughest Questions Answered
- The Gospel Of Luke [DVD]
- Practicing the Power: Welcoming the Gifts of the Holy Spirit in Your Life
- Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life
- Managing God’s Money: A Biblical Guide
Videos / Channels
- Allen Parr, Ruslan KD, Melissa Dougherty
- Steven Bancarz (Reasons For Jesus)
- Clouds Without Water – Justin Peters
- “Why I left Elevation church,” explains former volunteer leader
- Ex-Bethel Student Tells All: Lindsay Davis Testimony
- Bethel Church: Incorporating New Age Mysticism, Spirit Guides, Auras, Angels, Revival,Healing Energy
- A response to the courts of heaven prayer: With Ken Fish
- From New Age to Jesus: My Story Out of Deception
- Why we quit working for Joyce Meyer, and left the Word of Faith movement
- Gifts of the Spirit Explained: with Dr. Sam Storms
- The MegaChurch Mega-Mess
- Challenging Unhealthy Charismatic Practices
- Cultish: Practicing Discernment as a Charismatic w/Josh Lewis
- Benny Hinn’s Nephew, Costi Hinn, Exposes the Word of Faith Movement // INSIDER TELLS ALL!
- Can Christians Travel to Heaven?
- How to Identify Spiritual Abuse by a Spiritual Leader
- New Age, Charismatic, Prosperity “Gospel” and Word of Faith Movement with Melissa Dougherty
- Why I Left My Charismatic Church and You Should Too IF You see THESE signs!
- STEVEN BANCARZ – Leaving the New Age and Finding Truth