Phony Apostles and Real Elders

PhoneyThe next time you are tempted to fall under the influence of some author, blogger or other self-anointed “itinerant” authority on “being the church”, ask first if they have a history of personally being – on a sustained basis – part of the kind of church they promote.

For example, here in the U.S., the number of phonies pontificating on all things organic and missional in various books, blogs, social media posts and conferences is astounding. They talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

Some of them even proclaim that your church is not legitimate unless it is founded and maintained under an itinerant, so-called apostolic “worker” like themselves.

Yet, when you check, you will find that not a single one of them has a history of successfully being able to function as part of an actual local fellowship – like those they promote with their unproven ideas and grand visions – on a consistent, sustained basis.

Rather, their local church history is a pattern of either not being part of any local organic fellowship in their home town (it seems they can’t actually function in, or successfully start, a local church where they live), or they have a pattern of jumping from church to church in other locales around the country under the claim of being an “itinerant” (yet nearly all of those churches eventually fall into obsolescence or outright ruin after a couple of years of their “help”).

When it comes to such self-appointed “somebodies”, ask, check and discern – then just say no.

If some “expert” or pontificating author can’t prove that they first have walked the walk and made it work in their own lives and their own local church (assuming they even have one!), don’t fall prey to their attempts to bamboozle you as they try to sell their attempts to talk the talk.

Seriously. There’s just too much phony going around.

Fortunately, God is raising up proper local leadership in the form of elders and deacons – who are tasked in scripture with strengthening local fellowships and protecting them from wolves with phony credentials, unproven teachings and failed histories.

The Biblical role of local elders is frightening to those guys.

Maybe that’s why self-appointed apostolic “workers” like Frank Viola, Milt Rodriquez and Jon Zens – along with their supporters and promoters like Felicity Dale, Bart Breen and Keith Giles – have been so adamant lately about attacking the legitimate need for distinct, functional elders and deacons at the local church level.

In fact, their disdain for actual, functional local church leadership – which then might be a check on their own crazy stuff – is so great that Viola and Rodriquez for many years openly called local leaders “garbage men”. (It seems they now have stopped using that term, realizing how offensive it was, but the sentiment is still there in their current teachings.)

I guess it’s not enough for them to openly dismiss the plenary authority of scripture as a check and restraint on their own “deeper life” “revelations”.

Now their mutual promotion network (including their newly resurrected House2House Magazine) is intent on undercutting the clear Biblical mandate for distinct local elders – who in turn are charged with protecting local churches from folks like them.

Sometimes it’s so bizarre, you think it can’t get any more weird. But then, they prove you wrong.

~ Jim Wright

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14 responses

  1. What do I think? I think you are totally off the mark on this one. I have been personally acquainted with Frank and Milt for over three years now and have never – NEVER heard them “attacking the legitimate need for distinct, functional elders and deacons at the local church level”. I have known Jon for two years now and he has never done this either. None of these men are ‘self-appointed” anythings – our group in Dallas sought them out to help us BECAUSE of their experience and because we saw first hand the thriving bodies of Christ where they had been personally involved in church planting. Milt and his bride lived in my home for 4 of the 5 months they were here working with us and I saw the “real” Milt Rodrigues – and you know what? He is the same in private as he is in public – genuine and authentic through and through. Are any of these men perfect? Not by any standard. Are they men after God’s eternal purpose – by EVERY standard! When you attack these men you are attacking the Christ that dwells within them. You have YET to sit down face to face with any of these men as the bible mandates to address your concerns with them, but rather you continue to make slanderous accusations that belittle the work that Christ is doing through them. I am not “blinded” by celebrity, nor are the other hundreds of people these men have helped and ministered to. We are amazed by the glorious Christ working in them and through them to see the kingdom of God in the here and now.

    You speak and write of that you do not know first hand. You take second and third hand gossip and spew it forth as ‘truth’. Those of us that know these men personally know that your words are lies from someone who seems jealous of the work God is doing through them, seeking to tear them down in order to build yourself and your supposed ministry up. I pity you Jim Wright. I don’t expect to see this post added to your blog but I hope and pray that somehow, some way God will open your eyes to the wrong you are perpetrating and change your heart. Maybe when His kingdom becomes more important to you than your own you will be able to see and we can all move forward together.

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    • In fact, I base my comments regarding their views on elders on their own words in their own blogs and books. But now I have to get to know them personally before responding in public to their public writings? I reject that standard.

      Applying the criteria of holding them accountable to their own public statements, I’m not sure what it is that you think I said that was false.

      You have not disputed any specific facts. If you wish to dispute anything specifically, it would be easier to respond. However, if your only point is that you personally know and like them, well, that may be true. But that’s hardly grounds for ignoring their public pronouncements and actual personal histories.

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      • You fail to document your sources. What ‘public’ writings and where can these writings be found. I have read pretty much everything each has written and fail to see any evidence to support your accusations. Please provide solid, substantial documentation to support your accusations, please.

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        • Sigh…

          You claim to have read pretty much everything these guys have written, but apparently didn’t bother to do even a simple Google search to see if what you think of them on a private, personal level in fact is publicly true.

          In two back to back articles in November, Milt Rodriquez and Jon Zens launched their latest attacks on the Biblical office of elders in the local church at Felicity Dale’s House2House Magazine. Those attacks are now included in a new book by Jon Zens, which Frank Viola endorsed and started vigorously promoting last week on his own blog.

          Their coordinated attacks on the role of local elders have been going on for many years, but just not as openly as now. Now it is becoming more open as more as more local church leaders have started seeing through their phony claim that a church is not legitimate unless it’s been planted or is “relating” to a so-called “apostolic worker” – like them! (In point of fact, however, these guys never seem to actually plant new churches, but rather latch onto existing groups that they then end up wrecking with their very weird doctrines and practices.)

          More significantly, over the last year many local leaders in the organic church community have begun to flat out reject them as the history of failed churches, false credentials, sexual predation and cover up among them has been exposed here and elsewhere.

          Now, to their actual views on elders, based on their own writings and teachings, one need look no farther than their history of calling local leaders “garbage men” and their own, very recent writings.

          In November, Felicity Dale published an article by Milt Rodriquez, which explained the views of his fellow “co-workers” (their euphemism for “apostles”) on local church elders in her House2House Magazine, with Keith Giles as editor.

          In it, he begrudgingly acknowledged that Paul appointed local elders in some churches, and instructed others like Timothy to do the same. But he then goes into this bizarre attempt to say that he really doesn’t know what that exactly means, so it must not have any meaning for us today.

          Really? Because we don’t know if it meant stretching out their hands, laying on their hands, or whatever, we must then reject the central idea of appointing specific people as discrete elders in local churches?

          He also argues from silence, by saying that there is no account of Paul appointing elders in “all of the churches he planted”. Thus, we are to then conclude that because the New Testament does not bother to give a full record on whether or not Paul did in fact appoint elders in all the churches he “planted”, then local elders are – at best – optional. Furthermore, he says, “elder” is “just a word” to describe some amorphous attributes, rather than an actual designated leadership position with distinct people filling that role in the New Testament.

          But, just in case anyone misunderstands, he then makes it clear that “apostolic workers” like him and his buddies are essential because they alone establish the “headship of Jesus” in a local church – thus making them indispensable while negating (how convenient!) the need for any local elders who might then protect a local church from men like him and his buddies and their crazy histories, practices and very weird doctrines.

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  2. While some elders can drag their feet and hinder an alleged “move of God”, I have witnessed a volatility in some Charismatic circles that is downright scary. Perhaps I would make a good elder since I’ve seen all sorts of excesses that came to nothing. We used to joke about job applications which should say, “20 years of experience…all of it bad.” In a way that may be a good qualification for a church elder. They shouldn’t stop someone who believes he is hearing from God, but testing has a place too.
    1 Corinthians 9:12 ,,,we endure everything so that we may not be a hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
    Acts 11:17 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?”

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  3. What I see MAB saying is actually personal, first-hand testimony of actual people, testimony that seems to contradict what you are saying from a distance, Jim.

    MAB, your experience with these men matches nicely with mine, especially with Jon Zens. Never a denial of the importance of elders or servants.

    Mr. Wright, however, I know very little about.

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    • Gordon, like MAB, you seem to rely on personal and very subjective impressions regarding these guys, without having bothered to verify their actual views.

      I responded to MAB’s defense of Milt Rodriquez, so I guess I should respond to your defense of Jon Zens – based on his own recent writings.

      If you look at several of Jon Zens’ recent articles in Felicity Dale’s House2House Magazine, you will see that his main theme has been to dismiss the idea of local church leaders. Why? Because “our only leader is Jesus Christ” (and, of course, men like him who have been given that profound “revelation”!)

      Really? Like his fellow “apostolic worker” Milt Rodriquez, the fallacy of his ongoing attempts to discredit the role of actual local leaders in the church – based on the premise that only “Jesus Christ” is our leader – is disturbingly transparent.

      It is true that Jesus is our head, but He also has ordained that there be some among us who also serve His church as elders and deacons. Jesus therefore devotes a lot of attention in His written word of scripture (oops, sorry – I forgot that Jon Zens has endorsed in writing the bizarre view that anyone who believes the Bible is the Word of God is committing “treason against Christ”, but that’s another post!) to the proper role and need for elders.

      I have been encouraged over the last year to see that Jon Zens and his buddies have been increasingly exposed – the lies, the abuse and predation among them, the failed churches, and their frantic efforts to cover it all up.

      It seems they are now desperate, because their attempts to entrap more of the organic church community in their very cultish mutual promotion network of phony apostles – who not only have a disdain for the plenary authority of scripture as as the written Word of God, but also for the need for local church leaders to likewise be a check on their crazy practices, failed teachings, and crazy doctrines – are finally crumbling.

      Even Frank Viola lately has been reduced to using his blog to sell gadgets, while complaining that his book sales, conference invites, and the like have been drying up.

      Good. Let the light shine and let more churches begin to ask questions and do their own research on who and what these guys have really been about.

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  4. Like you, Jim, I see huge red flags from many of these people, including the ones you’ve named. But for different reasons. Many of these people peddle books, charge for conferences, and other such corrupt practices. All the while claiming to be apostles and such in many cases.

    But to offer badly needed balance, what I would suggest is instead of setting your own requirement of having some established assembly which they are a part , it’d be more scriptural and a while lot wiser to focus on other things. Things like the words they speak, their behavior, the power which they walk in, their character. It’s these things which testify to one sent by the Lord to perform a work. Most especially one in which they seem to be trying to bring some type of reformation or restoration.

    Point out the errors of their teachings, the corruption of their ways, the lack of power. With the ones you’ve mentioned, it’s easy enough to do.

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  5. Hi from Scotland,

    God Bless you Jim. You are a man after my own heart. I have been blogging about this stuff which is now beginning to afflict evangelicals in Scotland. Keep going.

    I would value your feedback on my blog.

    Every Blessing,

    Elliot

    (blogging as Charles Carrelej………e-mail account opened so that I could comment on local government policy which was not allowed when I was employed…….hope this makes sense)

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  6. Just like there are evangelist, pastors and teachers, there are apostles and prophets for the edifying and equipping of the body.

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    • Yup, but that begs the questions of what those functions look like and how do they operate today?

      Regardless, my goal is to urge folks to start being discerning about those who claim these titles. Often, they are self appointed without any proven context of a functioning local church like we see in Ephesians 4 (where this list is found).

      I also hope we are willing to give a hard look at those who claim those titles.

      For example, take the men I listed and the repeatedly confirmed history of sexual abuse, predation and exploitation among them; the associated coverup, lies and attacks on those who dare bear witness against them; the false bios that leave out so much in order to mislead folks into falsely thinking they have a history of successfully living out their teachings in actual local fellowships; their repeated rejection of the plenary authority of scripture as the written word of God; and their pattern of leaving anemic and often failed church after church in their wake.

      Those are not the marks of an apostle, no matter how you otherwise might interpret that role today.

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      • Hi from Scotland,
        We have at least one Apostle that I know of following the teachings of C. Peter Wagner on the New apostolic Reformation. These people are deluded phonies. The Scottish Apostle came to my town in the West Highlands and did the usual thing of getting people to fall over etc. She claimed on her Facebook page that as a result of her visit there were numerous healings. I checked….nobody was healed. What kind of Christian leader lies to promote themselves?
        I was the only person to challenge this. The evangelical deacons in town did nothing.
        We need born again Bible believing courageous elders who are up to the task and prepared to stand for truth.
        C.C.
        On Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 12:14 PM, Crossroad Junction < comment-reply@wordpress.com> wrote:

        Jim Wright commented: “Yup, but that begs the questions of what those > functions look like and how do they operate today? Regardless, my goal is > to urge folks to start being discerning about those who claim these titles. > Often, they are self appointed without any proven context” >

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