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The Deflection Tactic

finger pointingI regularly receive comments from my readers–some who strongly disagree with me. One comment I received earlier this week came from “Pam,” a follower of Brian Simmons–a NAR leader who has undertaken his own NAR translation of the Bible, called the Passion Translation. Pam posted her comment in response to an article I wrote titled “So, Brian Simmons: Are You an Apostle or Not?” I’m going to include her comment here because it’s a good example of what I call the “deflection tactic.”

Pam’s Comment

Dear Holly:

After reading your message…I in turn have a question for you. Have you ever sat in Brian’s company? Have you been in attendance at service where he ministers? After meeting him (and his wonderful wife Candace), listening to him and reading the Passion Translation ~~ I found myself in a place with the Lord I had not previously known. Incredible growth that only the Lord can bring. One plants, one waters but the Lord brings the increase.

Brian is one of the most humble and yet amazingly anointed people on our planet. And I dare say if you had been in his immediate presence you would not have made the comments above or care about a “title”. All the glory from any true servant belongs to our Lord Jesus anyway.

Jesus made a fitting comment for you to consider….whether Brian is gathering people into the Kingdom? Or whether he is against Jesus? I cannot find evidence in the Passion Translation that remotely suggests Brian is someone you should turn away from as “evil” or be considered an agitator. Those comments grossly misjudge the man.

Dear Holly, I hope you have the opportunity to meet Brian in person. And I hope the Lord will open your eyes to see as He sees. On that day….you will change your thinking.

My Response

Is Pam right? Would my personal interaction with Simmons (or another NAR leader) totally change my opinion? I don’t think so. Here’s why.

The problem with Pam’s statements is they assume that an individual’s personal charisma and charm are more important than an evaluation of their teachings and actions on the basis of Scripture and careful reasoning. Notice that Pam completely ignored the specific questions I raised about Simmons. Rather than addressing my specific questions, she deflected them by declaring that if I had only “been in his immediate presence” I would not have raised the questions I did.

I can’t tell you how many times people have made similar statements to me: “If only you knew so-and-so NAR teacher like I do,” and “If only you had a chance to meet him and see him speak in person, you would see how wonderful and humble he is. You would discover his heart for God, and you would not speak critically of him.” But that principle just doesn’t work.

For example, people across the world revere the Dali Lama. Those who have been in his physical presence describe him as humble, caring, and genuine. Yet–as humble and genuine as he may be–he’s still a leader of a non-Christian and false religious system. This fact underscores the point that, when it comes to evaluating a teacher, outward appearances are not enough. Jesus made this very point when he warned his disciples to “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

What’s the takeaway? When responding to an argument, make sure you address the issues that are raised. Don’t make the mistake Pam did and deflect the main argument. It’s not enough to simply say that a leader gives you the goosebumps when you’re in the same room as them. Just because an individual is impressive in person isn’t a reason to turn a blind eye to any criticisms that are leveled against him.

I asked Simmons to answer the question of whether he claims to be an apostle or not. If he does not claim to be an apostle, then I asked him to explain why he held membership in the International Coalition of Apostles and why he allowed himself to be described as an apostle on the promotional materials for his speaking events. These are important questions–too important to be deflected.

——-

* Footnote: Pam also asked me to consider Jesus’ comment (made in Luke 9:49-50) that “whoever is not against you is for you.” I’ve already dealt with the NAR‘s misuse of this passage in another post here.

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18 Responses to “The Deflection Tactic”

  1. Thomas Heward Says:

    Dear Holly,

    I am in complete agreement with you on the current doctrinal errors that exist within the NAR.

    These issues must be “brought out into the open” and discussed in a Godly manner because the teachings of Jesus Christ who was “God in the Flesh” and the understanding of his teachings and application thereof in this life will have eternal consequences, that upon physical death, can no longer be remedied.

    Of course my stance on the doctrinal teachings of the Word of God is that all the offices, gifts of the spirit as well as the order of the church of Jesus Christ in our day and age were set forth in the 4 gospels, the book of acts and the letters of the new testament.

    That being the case I believe the Offices of Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Pastor, Worker of Miracles, Helps etc etc have been in His Church throughout the ages and are currently in His Church today.

    I personally like your approach to dividing the scriptures and believe you have hit on some very sensitive issues with the NAR.  IE Rick Joyner, Steve Thompson, Bob Jones (when he was alive) and a multitude of others.

    I believe one of my callings is that of a prophet and specifically to America.  I was led by the Lord to Rick Joyners prophetic group back in 1997.  I attended for 9 months and interacted with all the leaders on a face to face basis including Joyner who is quite a nice guy.  During that time I received dream after dream from the Lord warning me that Rick Joyner and the then forming NAR were in considerable scriptural error.  It was interesting that I received this information from the Lord at that time since Rick Joyner’s Morning Star Prophetic Group were heavy into anointed prophetic words as well as dreams and visions.   I began publishing these dreams and then distributing them on the windshields of the vehicles parked outside this fellowship.  I also gave several anointed prophetic words – verbally spoken – in the homefellowship I attended as well as the meetings held in that building in Charlotte, NC at the time.  These anointed prophetic words were received by leadership as they were quite anointed however they were “rebukes” for making wrong turns and going down a path God had not designated for them.  Rick Joyner was quick to take the floor after my words and attempt to explain the accuracy of the anointing and the validity of the word.  However he was also quick to speak of how they “Morning Star” were already putting in place he necessary corrections to adhere to the Lord.  The corrections never took place and I continued to receive multiple dreams of the error of the NAR as well as all those who identify with this movement.

    That will be it for now.

    Thanks Tom Heward

  2. John Says:

    This is very timely, it seems to me the standard way of deflecting criticism of someone’s teachings is to claim they are so highly anointed, they are a very Godly wo/man, they lead people to Christ and whatever else.

    These things may be true but they prove nothing. One of the people who gave me a big kick towards Christ was a world-renowned atheist, so it’s not as if pointing people towards Christ in and of itself proves anything. They might be Godly people but, to use the concept you mentioned in another post, they may be passionately wrong.

    I used to live near a family who were very devout followers of the things God commanded of them. They were humble people, giving people, they ticked a lot of the boxes that we as Christians are expected to teach. Except they were Muslims. It’s sad to say they were more Christ-like than some Christians I’ve known, but I wouldn’t take my theology from them.

  3. Chad Says:

    Thank you for your ministry. Keep up the good work and may the Lord bless you as you continue to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

  4. L. Johnson Says:

    An outstanding response, Holly.  Contend for the faith, sister. 
    Indeed in my own life I have needed to deeply feel the conviction of the question posed in Luke 18, which in part asks, when Christ returns, will He find faith?  Certainly, many a (wo) man thinks more highly of himself than he ought, and in my mind, this is one such case.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and I encourage Pam to reconsider from whence she is judging, because indeed, in order to please the Lord, we must be transformed, and our minds renewed, in accordance with the Living Word, and not so easily swayed by every doctrine.

  5. Tracey Says:

    I have experienced Brian Simmons’ preaching. In fact, he was the tipping point August 2014 for several people in my church finally deciding to leave due to the increasing influence of the NAR. He had visited our church several times in the past, but this time, his message was appalling. Not only did he prophesy a major event happening in CA on the first Friday of August that would be a sign of things turning around in CA (an event which did not happen, nor was it corrected), but he also told the congregation that there is no literal Antichrist. Brian Simmons and Mark  Tubbs (“apostle” and author of “Five Fingers Of God) ruined our church with their NAR teachings.

  6. austin hellier Says:

    Hi Holly – I saw Brian Simmons live, here in Brisbane during 2012. He was handing out 50 or so part copies of his ‘Bible’ translation, as it hadn’t been printed as a complete edition at that time.

    I managed to get a hold of one and it looked to me to be more of a paraphrase than anything and almost as watered down as the Message ‘Bible’. I prefer the KJV myself as I’ve read it consistently all of my Christian life, but the caution here is that like many of the cults in the past, the NAR is rewriting the Bible to suit themselves in this post modernist world, through the agency of this man.

    Are Brian Simmons and his wife nice people? Yes they are, I met them too. Were he and his wife well received at those meetings? Yes they were, by young and old alike. The problem was that, when asked by Katherine Ruonala to minister at the Glory Gathering meetings that weekend, he spouted a lot of stuff about the NAR end times views (similar to Reconstructionist doctrine). 

    He also imbibed in the false “pulling Christ from Heaven down to Earth” meme. Christ will return at a time appointed by God the Father, and not because false NAR apostles and prophets have decreed it to be at a time of their choosing.

    He also quite happily took part in ‘fire tunnels’ with the youth and young adults and madly ran around the room ‘prophesying’ over people in a distinctive and aggressive manner. This is not what old timer Pentecostals would identify with in terms of stable and time honoured practice, but people like Pam unfortunately swallow the charisma and ‘image’ of such mother and father figures, without ‘testing the spirits’ behind them. (1 John 4:1)

    Pam, there’s going to be lots of ‘nice’ people down in Hell, because they chose not to follow the ways of the Lord, as explained in the scriptures. It is God’s word that is our anchor in times of trouble, not the memories we have of ‘nice’ people and their human works which may look good, but may actually be drawing people away from God and into a false sense of security.

    Paul’s warning to us has stood the test of time. Speaking to the Ephesian elders, he said:

    “28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
    29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

    30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”

    Austin Hellier
    Downunder

  7. Pete - England Says:

    I’m always wary of Christians who use the Bible to condemn others. The Word of God is a sword to wield against the enemy (Satan if you’re not sure), not something to bash our brothers and sisters in Christ’s around the head with. 
    Holly, if only Christians who agree totally with you and me get to heaven, it will be a pretty lonely place and there would likely be two separate camps. (Your camp and my camp) But heaven is going to be full of people with all sorts of unusual doctrines who worshipped God in all sorts of unusual ways and spoke in unusual ways that WE would never have dreamt of doing while here on earth. But they will all have two things in common. They will all be born again of the Spirit of God, and they will all love Jesus. Jesus himself prayed for a third thing that we would have in common, that all believers would be one, as he and the Father were one. Now that IS close. Why on earth would he pray such an impossible prayer as that?

    Pete from England

  8. Austin Says:

    Pete, you’re basically saying that Brian Simmons et al of the NAR are ‘brothers and sisters’ who are advancing the Kingdom of God, and are being persecuted by other Christians for doing so. It may look this way to you, but after my experiences with NAR people here, including a dozen visiting ministries from overseas, I’d have to dispute that assertion.

    The NAR roots go all the way back to William Brannam and the false Latter Rain Movement (LRM) of the late 1940′s and early 1950′s. Those LRM people taught a markedly different set of doctrines, as opposed to the AOG and other Pentecostal churches back then. They espoused a ‘Dominionist’ and ‘Reconstructionist’ eschatology. They are considered to be heterodox, and not orthodox in doctrine.

    They also believed in the “Manchild company” – a group of specially selected believers, who would put on deity, and not just immortality,and ascend into heaven, making themselves out to be divine beings, believing the lie of the garden “Ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil…” Genesis 3:5
    This is much like the Jehovah’s Witnesses false interpretation of the 144,000, mention in Revelation 7 and 14, as being a ‘heavenly class’ of believer, while the rest of their following would be “Earth bound”. You can see the parallels between well known cults, and these so called NAR “churches”.

    C.Peter Wagner, was a part of that Latter Rain Movement back then in the 1950′s, and he was once again, a catalyst for the revamped NAR during the late 1980′s, which was only the LRM restructured, using more modern terminology and a far more organised infrastructure, including whole councils of end time “prophets and apostles”. These people have proven time and again to be false ministries, who preach a false gospel and exhibit false signs and wonders, which cannot be found anywhere in scripture.

    As such, Jesus Christ condemns them Himself, calling them out as false prophets, (see Matthew 7:13 to 23) because they seek to deceive and mislead many people from their time honoured and Biblically based church settings, and into local NAR churches, where all manner of heresy and wrong practices are promoted. Jesus warned us in Matthew 24 that in the last days, all manner of false prophets and false Christs would appear, and try to deceive the elect of God if it were possible.
    Don’t be deceived Pete, study your Bible and stay close to Christ, seeking wisdom from Him and His word…

  9. parishioner Says:

    you say “deflection,” philosophy says “logical fallacies.”  people do this so often the discipline of philosophy came up with a name for it, and have identified all the different types of deflection.  if you are pointing to the truth, and someone doesn’t want to address it and wants to make you seem unreasonable, they use the logical fallacy called “the straw man.”  this is what pam did.  I’m guessing it’s the most commonly used, but I’m no philosopher.  if you Google logical fallacies, you can find websites with charts and examples.  for “fun,” I once made my own chart with examples taken entirely from my personal experience with churchgoers.  a sad, sad, exercise.  (if you’d like a copy, holly, just send me an e-mail.  my apologies for not being able to offer it to anyone else.)

    I don’t have a blog, but I’ve thought about it.  if I were to have a blog, I’d probably have a link to the fallacies, and a warning that comments would be deleted due to abuse and/or use of logical fallacies.  then if someone said, “Chris is such a nice wo(man)!  how dare you say x!”  they would find their comment deleted, with a message in its place saying, “comment deleted due to use of straw man fallacy.  please address the truth raised in the post and defend your position on it.” yet that’s just me.  I am very weary of the poor critical thinking skills of the average christian who views discernment as optional, and the noble character and activity of the bereans as uninspiring or unattainable.

    it’s troubling how so many christians think god “wouldn’t allow” wolves in sheep’s clothing to enter the church, or that he “wouldn’t allow”  these wolves to seem like “nice, kind” people concerned with “love and acceptance.”  yet jesus cautioned of these seeming sheep, and scripture says the satanic can appear angelic.  too many also think satan would never make use of scripture for his own purposes, and encourage others to do the same.  if he tried to do so with jesus himself, the living word, when he tormented him in the wilderness, why wouldn’t he do so with us?  I read your critique of vallaton’s “tests for a true prophet” which makes heavy use of scripture, while ignoring the instructions already given in scripture for such testing.  his article is diabolically clever.  I mean that literately.

     keep up the good work, holly!

  10. Pete - England Says:

    Hi Austin. Not sure I agree with your interpretation of what I said. I quoted Jesus when he prayed that we would love each other as he and the Father loved each other. Where the church – in your country and mine - fails to do this, it become weak and ineffective allowing Satan to exploit the division among us. I listen to some of your (American) teachers and preachers on You Tube and there is a lot of nonsense spoken in the name of God. But the teaching I have heard from Dutch Sheets, Brian Simmons and a few others have actually led me into a closer, more intimate relationship with Father, Son and Holy Sprit. Thanks you guys.
    Austin, I do actually know and love my Bible thanks, and at the moment am very much enjoying Psalms in the Passion Translation.

  11. Austin Says:

    Pete – Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:13 to 15:

    “13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ”

    In particular, verse 15, which indicates how that ‘love’ is outworked among the brethren. To speak truth about those NAR people is not unloving as it is incumbent upon us to be our brother’s keeper to the extent that we are able.

    True NT ministries are put there by Jesus to grow the body of Christ into maturity – false ministries will always seek to grow their own kingdoms, which are not part of the Kingdom of God.

    If loving care or correction or warnings are brushed aside, then the person who rejects such things has chosen to go their own way. One last point Pete. How can you say that those who prophesy falsely, or teach heterodox doctrines, or claim to be apostles and prophets (with no biblical evidence of such ministries in tow,) have caused you to walk more closely with God? Which God Pete?

    PS: The Passion version is not even regarded as a half decent paraphrase by most Bible scholars, let alone a competent and consistent translation. I’m afraid that you’ve been sorely mislead by the NAR Pete, and you need to do a lot more research on them and their LRM/Branamite history.

  12. Pete - England Says:

    Dear Austin - That didn’t take long did it? From disagreeing with me to cheekily suggesting I’m not a true Christian in three messages.

    Got to admit that I’m not that concerned with what “scholars” think. Much more interested (passionately) in what my wonderful Heavenly Father, my incredible Saviour Jesus Christ and my exceptional friend the Holy Spirit think, and judging by the witness in my spirit as I read the Passion Translation and the weight of his presence as I submit my all to Him, He enjoys me reading it too. God bless. Pete

  13. Austin Says:

    Pete – what God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit “think” is clearly outlined in scripture, but you are much more satisfied with ‘feelings’ – the ‘presence’ that you claim to experience?

    Many eminent ’Scholars’ as you put it, were on the translation committees for the King James, RSV and NASB (used by many NAR proponents today) and other Bibles for the last 400 years, but you say that you don’t care what these scholars regard as important?

    As for suggesting that you’re not a ‘true Christian’ – my main thrust was that you were following false prophets, and I believe that has been borne out by your own comments to date…

  14. living4him Says:

    I’m shocked at what so called Christians are speaking using the word of God to justify.  Shame on you. Bringing division to the church and slandering God’s anointed.  Pastor Brian Simmons has not ever blasphemed God. He’s not ever twisted the words of God. He has brought a refreshing and enjoyable understanding to scripture.  So many children of God do not enjoy reading the KJV therefore neglect to carry their sword. What and who does it hurt to have this very relevant version out there as another option. Men of God such as Pastor Brian Simmons,  and his lovely wife Candice, have brought thousands upon thousands of people to Jesus, through the anointing God gave them. Can anyone of you who slander God’s chosen, say the same? I pray God touches your heart so that you turn from your vicious ways. Satan tears down. Be very careful who you shred with , hmmm, should I dare say ,fangs of a wolf??

  15. Apollo Says:

    “I’m shocked at what so called Christians are speaking using the word of God to justify. Shame on you.”

    Shame on us? Why should we experience your version of ‘shame’ just because we called Brian Simmons out for his highly questionable “translation”? Most people outside of the NAR movement don’t buy or read Simmons’ version of the Bible, with many saying that it is a ‘Bible’ written to bolster NAR claims re the restoration of ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets’ as well as many NAR doctrines and practices.

    You see, it’s a bit like the Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘translating’ their New World version of the scriptures. To this day, no one knows or will admit to who those twelve faceless, nameless men were, that oversaw that translation. While Simmons may have open about his involvement in the Passion Bible, it still looks like a cultish thing to do – when you can’t get your version of the “truth” out of any other existing Bible, then it’s time to rewrite the Bible within the context of your own teaching and practice, and that appears to be what Brian Simmons. He’s rewritten the “Bible” to suit his own beliefs

    That’s the problem right there @living4him…

  16. MCA Says:

    I wonder why is it so difficult for you people to see what is happening, further than the rewritten scriptures theme:
    1) If this NAR movement is claiming that because of their “renewed”doctrine they are getting more people into the Kingdom they are forgetting this cannot be truth. It is only the power of the Holy Spirit that “convert” someone. Despite languaje, despite people, despite music, despite anything. So if any followers of this NAR movement gets to know Jesus Christ, follow Him and praises Him it will not be because of the movement, it will be because in their hearts they truly want to know Him and He will reveal Himself by His Grace to them regardless the untruthful movement. That’s why blogs like this are useful, so they can know the truth. Glory to God always and not men.
    2)He is claimming glory for him or his movement and not for God. That is totally antiChristian. 
    3)When you get to know well Jesus and His father you get very clearly that worship is essential in your relationship with Him, for this you also get to know that it is no longer your will that prevails, is the Lord’s. So, even though his intentions are the best, you just cannot make what you want, like reinterpreting the scriptures because YOU think that’s what the Lord wants. Or because you are telling Him that his methods are unused and ancient x_x’ Something that we supposedly know is that God is onle and only, and he doesn´t change. The issue of this world is sin, is rebellion and denial of God, everytime this is exposed it will be truth and will be summing on the pursuit of God and edification. Repentance and assuming responsability of our sins. If not, or if sin is minimized you can dismiss that doctrine.

  17. Tim Mavers-Chance Says:

    Regardless of people saying he’s a nice guy or his ministry has brought me closer to God etc. We are still left with some facts. 1. He has changed / added words into his books which were not written by the authors. 2. He has made prophetic claims which have not come to true. 3. He is trying to change people’s beliefs and perceptions of scriptures.  

    However good a persons intentions are, they cannot change the Word of God. To me, all I see is danger.

    I pray the prayer that Jesus tought us all, 

    2 He said to them, ‘When you pray, this is what to say: Father, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come;
    3 give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins,
    4 for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us. And do not put us to the test.’

  18. Heidi Says:

    This method is also very common among mormon. They are taught to “doubt your doubts”, and can even be excommunicated for asking questions. The other day my roommate was taking about a girl who she didn’t like-and I poditive  they main reason she didn’t like her is because she was talking negatively about bethel. (A similar thing happened to me when I lived in a house with 3 mormon girls. They didn’t like me simply because I had left mormonism) Both bethelites and mormons deflect and get very defensive when someone disagrees or brings up a concerning point in their faith.  
    There are a lot of truly concerning parallels between mormonism and the NAR.

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