I 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.”
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.
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.