Criticistianity (Revisited)

Criticistianity (Critical Christians)
How to repent of a critical spirit
Robert Wurtz II


Why, then, do you criticize your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? For all of us will stand before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10)


When Edward Bernays coined the term “public relations” and founded it’s industry, it is doubtful that many could foresee just how the feedback loops would create an opinion driven culture. Find out what the people want, compare that to what you’re doing, and make adjustments to please as many people as possible. Think about how often in any given day we are afforded opportunities to “rate” a service, give feedback or cast a vote based upon our personal judgment of something or someone. It’s as if the world is conditioning people to become expert faultfinders.  


The spirit of American Idol


What happens when this attitude begins to infiltrate the churches of God? Not having a proper definition to describe my answer I created one; Criticistianity. You will notice I simply combined criticize and Christianity; and what a foul mix. What a stench and rottenness in my ears! Yet the behavior is more vile yet. Why? Because we risk losing an essential part of ministry in the body of Christ all together. Christians measure other Christians contributions to the kingdom the same way the three judge panel measures the audition of a would be American idol. If that is not an abomination I don’t know what is. The people of God get set up for a worldly criticism from their own peers. It’s as if a believer may venture to come forward with their talent and rather than it being measured for its potential ministerial value- it is looked at through the critical eye of America’s Got Talent. Strike one! Strike two! Strike three.. your out! Ha ha ha ha ha! Goes the crowd and down goes another potential Peter, Paul, John, Steven or James. Laughed down and mocked by their own peers. I asked a young person recently why most of their peers won’t step out to minister; they replied, “Because they are too afraid they will be mocked or told what they done wrong afterwords.” 





Teaching Pragmatism


At some point in the last 50 years a sinister concept has came in to many circles. It has been fostered, in my view, by Christian television that has sought out the most beautiful singers, choirs and instrumentalists; the most eloquent, refined and articulate speakers to show-off to the world and the churches of God. We started producing performers rather than ministers. We needed to show the world that we had just as ‘good of talent’ as they do. So we started forging potential ministers into a worldly behavior and preference. Everything became as fake as a $3 bill. Pretty soon it didn’t matter if you were holy and living right — all that mattered is that you could perform. This is contrary to the church meetings that I remember as a child. I recall a day when men and women got up and preached and sang from the depths of their heart. It was powerful. I had a sense that the preacher believed what he preached and the singer meant what they were singing. Today that doesn’t seem to matter in the least. Its more about your stage presence and mannerisms. Strangely, its often about how cool your hair looks or how high of notes a man can hit during the song. This, in my view, can project a false and even soulish since of sincerity and power. It all ‘sounds’ powerful to those that never had a front row seat to the real thing. But I’m not fooled by the proverbial banana in the tailpipe. It is just sad that a whole generation of Christians have no idea what I’m talking about. Ironically, they likely would say that it is me that is critical. The world might be wanting players like Eli’s sons, but God is looking for pray-ers like Hannah’s son.  


If we are moving in an American Idol type construct, we will create the same thing American Idol creates: men and women made up to be IDOLs. It is what the program is designed to do. Think about it. It sets out to exalt men in the eyes of man. The more exalted the ‘teen idol’ is the more profitable the enterprise. This is an abomination to God and one example of something that best not be being practiced in the churches of God. 

Coolness or Holiness?



The all too often results? Sadly, some of the most lauded and popular, as has also happened from time to time in the Christian music world, the singer is found to have been in adultery, homosexuality or some other vice like alcoholism. They lose their contract and it becomes a huge scandal. Their singing was said to be ‘powerful’, but now there is chaos and confusion. I don’t want to be denunciatory, but whatever happened to just being sincere and meaning what you sing? What ever happened to being moved by the spirit rather than feeling coerced into the singer “performing” and then the crowd into ‘participating’? I don’t remember a crowd having to be prodded to worship God in the old days. Why? Because the singers had a way of making folk feel what they felt when they sang. They meant it and the crowd believed them. There was no performance or pretense. The people tried to live holy lives and it reflected in all that they did. I have to ask, what is more important- holiness or coolness? 


Judging the Ministry?


Do we have a right to sit back and judge a minister or a singer based on their proficiency in their genre? Do we worship the aesthetics of music? Does it have to sound perfect and pretty or we can’t enter in? Does the speaker have to sound slick and refined for the people to listen? What happened to the days when folk stumbled over their words, but yet we recognized the voice of God in their speech? Does this generation even know how to listen for an unction from God? Have they been so cultured that they would probably walk out on Paul the Apostle because his bodily presence was weak and his speech contemptible? Would an old timey country preacher even have a prayer today? Would we cast off a Dwight L. Moody because he used words like ‘aint’ in a sermon? Would David be told to ‘sit down’ with his 5 stones and a sling in preference of some modern Rambo figure? Have the masses cast off the truth that little is much if God is in it? Do we despise the day of small things? God has chosen the weak thing to confound the mighty. 


Have a generation of critics been raised up? Just asking. A person is known as a critic when they have become proficient at judging. Granted, some things must be judged. This is common sense and we will not waste time exploring it. This is not what I am referring to. Criticistianity is that mode of behavior in which an individual has exalted themselves as an expert in a subject so as to critique others that move among them in that area. There is an ‘armchair quarterbacking’ that goes on today that surely cannot please the Lord. “God, were sending this one back because they’re not refined enough.” God help us. 


Is it really the world to blame?


Can we rightly blame Eddie Bernays? Not completely. Christians know better than to entertain a critical spirit. Yet the behavior has so reached the mainstream that almost everything and everyone has to be critiqued, even in the churches of God. It seems that everyone and everything has to “perform” these days to a certain expectation and we are being asked to give our opinions. The opinion gets used in a feedback loop to keep altering everything and everyone until it (or they) suit the highest number of peoples’ desires. What do you get? A ministry that is performance based and pandering to the masses. Again, what happened to the days when folk were just REAL. Has Hollywood infiltrated modern Christendom through all these talent shows until their is no hope for anything? Just asking. Did we not read Romans 12:1,2. This is not supposed to be how the churches of God treat their ministers. Selah.


Performance or Ministry?


I may be starting to get a little up in years, but does anyone remember when this was still about ministry? I have been a musician and singer for over 20 years. I always take ministering before the Lord with a profound reverence. Why? One of the most fearful and sobering lessons in all the Bible is that of Eli and his wicked sons. He allowed these boys to use their position to pick-up on the girls as if they were rock stars and drove the very presence of God from the people- all the while his father, repeatedly warned of God, refused to confront them. As they offended God to the uttermost in the name of “ministry” and “worship,” God told Eli he has honored his own sons more than he honored God. God judged Eli’s house forever as an example unto us as to how he views using ministry for whoredoms. The modern ‘American Idol’ worship service is doing exactly that all over again and the Eli’s sit back as the Ark is carried off as if they have done no wrong. The Lord knoweth it. It is epidemic in our times. All the while the old timers sigh and cry and are accused of being the trouble makers. But Ezekiel 9:1-10 comes into view. God’s presence is departing the Temple. But before He goes He sends a messenger to set a mark in the forehead of those that sigh and cry for the abominations that are driving out the presence of God from the people. A destroying angel was sent in to destroy all that had not that mark in their forehead. This story is exemplary. It shows us forever God’s estimate of what was happening. We do well to take heed. 

Dividing the Worship


Men and women wanting to be seen and adored divide the worship in the house of God. Why? because musicians and singers that are ‘talented’ are typically the most pampered, paid and tolerated individuals around. They are in demand and in the money (as they say). Churches have the attitude if they have good music they can grow, but if not they will falter. This is what American Idol and Hollywood has done to many of the churches of God in our times. Local churches see TV churches doing it and just like in pop-culture- they desire to imitate what they see on TV. But God is not calling ‘stars’ He is calling ‘servants’. He does not want the self-exalted, He wants self-deny-ers. A man or woman’s talent is of no use to God until it is taken through the cross of Christ. If we subvert people with our talents in the name of ministry we have a God to face. It makes me wonder, who still believes in the fact that God can use anyone for his purposes? 


Why in the world would we fight against God to try to teach people that they have to perform at a certain level in order to be acceptable in the churches of God when God called the churches out of that very mindset in the first place? Do we not realize that we will give an account to God as to how we define Christianity and ministry in the eyes of the people? We are shaping their concepts of what church is, what ministry is, what worship is, what holiness is. Every time we get up before the people they are watching us and following our lead. Where are we leading them? What are we modeling before their impressionable eyes? Were shaping right now the next generation of Christian’s concepts of God and church and all things ministry. 


What a sobering thought and awesome responsibility! God don’t want a church modeled after the latest craze. He has called us to take the lead. We set the tone. We dictate what is ‘cool’ or ‘in’ in the churches of God- not the world. The people will acclimate to what we are doing, so we had best do what is right; for we have already been warned that we will endure the stricter judgment. When Moses said, ‘Thus Saith the Lord’ a million people took a step forward and when we signify some new thing as of God when it is not the influence is tremendous and more than we can possibly know. Surely we can’t possibly be so ill-advised that we don’t understand that most basic fact? Peter. John and Andrew were fisherman; they were not conference style motivational speakers. Does a man have to sing like Sinatra or Elvis before he is worthy to “minister”? Do our kids need to become like Britney Spears or Justin Bieber? Seriously. What message are we sending people? I’ve been backstage in the performances. I’ve seen the confident groups mock the ones that sought to pray for the touch of God. But who do you think gets the high marks and praise? 


Rejected Among Your Peers?


We have answered to some degree Paul’s first question, Why, then, do you criticize your brother? Because this is the 21st century and we live in the three strike/three person panel era. This is the idol manufacturing generation. Men are made into idols to be exalted rather than abased servants. All of the trappings of the manufactured rock star come to play; all the while the sincere, god-fearing, non-celebrity types are marginalized and made to fear doing anything lest they not measure up to the worldly criticism. It goes without saying that that type criticism should never have a place in the churches of God, but this is what the three judgment panel spirit (attitude) does. Is there any wonder worldliness is trying to rule? The funny thing is that the three man judgment panel is trying to trump the Three Person panel of the Godhead (if you will) that is calling a generation to serve. It’s lunacy. It’s not working either. Look around. We have almost no-one stepping up in ministry. And why should they? Do you like being criticized? Neither do they. I believe it is sin. The problem is that it has now gone on for so long and so many are used to texting in the favorite pick to their phone, that the sting of the transgression for that behavior in the churches of God is no longer felt. Many are becoming past feeling. That is to say, it used to sting the conscience, but not any more. There used to be a check in the Spirit, but not now. It’s not only acceptable in our times, its almost demanded. Should we as Christians succumb to moving in this mindset?


Ministry in an Era of Criticistianity


The results of this age? Ministry now has to cope with a new catch phrase, “your not good enough.” And if its not ministry why are we doing it? Why are we wasting precious time to do it on any level? Were supposed to be shepherding the flock of God. We are to come along side and encourage a generation to step into what God has for them. Not with an invitation in one hand and a stick in the other. God have mercy on this critical generation. Not with a checklist to critique how they preach or sing. We need to get out of God’s business and let Him start using whom He will.   
  

The Love Problem

The Love Problem
Robert Wurtz II

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:9-10).


We can see in Paul’s list of “Thou shalt not(s)” the #7, #6, #8, #9 and #10 of the Ten Commandments. The “other commandment” is taken from Leviticus, which reads; “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18 NKJV) Paul then adds, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” 



It is fascinating that Paul would add this teaching to everything he says in the book of Romans. It reminds me of how he inserted the “love chapter” into a teaching on spiritual gifts when writing to the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 13). What use it is to be a great theologian who could expound the book of Romans and not love our neighbor? What would it profit a person to operate in the gifts of the Spirit and not have love for their neighbor? these sound like very basic questions; but they are of the utmost importance. Nothing else matters if we do not love our neighbor. 

Jesus spent a great deal of time expressing the importance of loving everyone, including our enemies. Many years ago I took five semesters of Mosiac law. I learned that there are, according to the Rabbis, 613 laws in the Old Covenant (365 negative “don’t” and 248 positive “do”). We studied each and every one of those laws. There are things we must not do (negative command) in order to love and there are things we must do (positive command) in order to love. This is the positive and negative aspect to love. The question becomes, “who is our neighbor?” The New International Bible Commentary passes this comment:

“The debt of love is categorical and admits of no exceptions. In Buddhism love is a rather dispassionate feeling of benevolence toward humanity in general, though much less is said of its expression toward particular individuals. Not so in Christianity. Agapeä (God’s kind of love) is not an abstract concept; it is a will in search of an object. Four times Paul identifies that object as one another (Romans 13:8), fellowman (v. 8), and neighbor (twice in vv. 9–10). The other person represents God’s claim on our love. We normally think of our neighbor as a person who is like us, but in the parables of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and Final Judgment (Matt. 25:31-46) the neighbor is very much unlike us. Others are our neighbors not because they are like us, not even because they are chosen by us, but because they are given to us by God with a need which we can meet. Indeed, Christ himself meets us in that need (Matt. 25:40, 45).” (NIBC)


All the “negative” commandments (365 don’t) can be boiled down to this simple statement, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbors: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” The Greek word translated in the KJV as “ill” is generally translated as evil, wrong, bad, or harm. Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet, are all examples of things we must not do — lest we work ill or harm towards our neighbor. The 248 positive commands can be boiled down to one, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” In other words, treat everyone in a way you would want to be treated. Don’t make excuses or look for loopholes in these verses. All of the laws of God boil down to two simple ones, “love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves.”

The Love Problem

The love problem is simply this: if we don’t love, there’s a problem… a bad problem. Many problems that we have today are the direct result of non-love. Had love been being expressed, it would have never happened. Why? Because when everyone is treating one another the way they want to be treated, everything is good. However, when people treat others in ways they wouldn’t want to be treated problems inevitably result. This is why we have been commanded along these lines. the time would fail to cover this subject properly; but one thing is certain; all of our lives would be much different if everyone followed Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:8-10. 

Regeneration or Reprobation (Revisited)

Regeneration or Reprobation (Revisited)
Gospel Hardened
Robert Wurtz II

The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed by the fire; the founder is smelting in vain: for the wicked are not drawn off. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them (Jeremiah 6:29-30).




There are many people in the world today that are in inconceivable danger. Rebellion has taken root until it has taken their mind. The same was true of the people in the time of Jeremiah. God had turned the temperature up in the lives of these Israelites until the bellows caught fire and burned up. This is an awful picture of people that refuse to turn to God no matter what He does to arrest their attention. C.S. Lewis used to say that “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Pain is a form of distress, and it comes in many forms. Matthew Henry once said that “God is never at a loss for a means of dealing with rebellious people; His quiver is always full.” 

No matter what God does, the rebellious refuse to repent and believe. It is a sad and vexing reality. God provides the necessities of life as an expression of His goodness, and yet sinners go on pretending He has done nothing at all. An attitude of “expectation” and “entitlement” enters in, along with a general ungrateful spirit, ripening the person for total destruction. They credit anything and everything for what they are or have, except the God that provided. What happens? God’s goodness is disregarded and scoffed at — so He has to turn the temperature up; that is to say, He has to bring greater pain and distress. Contrary to the health and wealth heresy gospel, God is not in the business of giving people good and comfortable lives; He is about saving souls. Did Jesus shed His blood so men and women could be comfortable? Obviously not. God wants sons and daughters. God wants people who will agree with what is right and surrender their lives to Him. 

Many people want Heaven, they just want a heaven after their own lusts. They don’t want God to be there. They blasphemously envision partying and all kinds of sinful acts going on there. Just attend a funeral of a lost sinner, and you will hear the comments of how the dead are enjoying a Jack Daniels or some other crazy notion. I have been to funerals where the deceased were given 4 aces in their hands or a pack of smokes in their pocket as if they were headed to some Las Vegas style poker match. Horrified as I was, this is the mentality of the reprobate. They have lost all sense of rationality and right and wrong. Having heard Gospel messages perhaps hundreds of times throughout their lives — they became Gospel hardened. Their faculties have become pickled, and I wonder whether God will ever grant them repentance. 

Many are simply unwilling to be saved; that is, they are unwilling to be saved on the terms upon which God will save them. Some so-called ministers understand this, so they modify the Gospel to make it more acceptable. Paul makes a staggering statement in Acts while speaking to a massive group of soon-to-be reprobates, Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Many ministers preach as if God is asking people if they would like to repent. This is not the case at all; God is commanding all men everywhere to repent. It is a direct order from God. You and I are commanded to repent. To ignore this command for one more second is to invite a greater level of reprobation and with it a growing doubt as to whether or not you will ever be saved. 

Ask sinners whether they are willing to be saved, and they almost universally and sincerely say “yes,” but they will only be saved upon their own terms. However, when the minister offers God’s terms for salvation, they make excuses. The only terms on which they can possibly be saved, they reject. As the rich young ruler, they go away sorrowful. I think about the hundreds of people that I have ministered to over the years that have turned away from Christ just like that rich young ruler. Some went away sorrowful, not having great possessions, but have little more than the shirt on their back. You do not have to be rich to become a reprobate, all you have to do is keep resisting God and rejecting the Gospel. 

I have seen perhaps thousands of people go forward to make commitments to serve God over the years, and yet they never followed through. Was it not an insult to God to make a false commitment? The only true reason that anyone is not a Christian, is that they are unwilling to repent, turn to Christ and obey the Gospel. Many have done this until they don’t even feel God anymore; they are reprobate. The bellows are burned up from fanning the flames of adversity in their life, and yet they have only hardened and became more evil. They have treasured up wrath against the day of judgment; they have trodden under foot the blood of Christ; they have traded almost nothing for their everlasting soul. Many keep telling themselves there is time, and that they will repent in the end. They are blinded even now and are being made into vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. Like Pharaoh, they are becoming increasingly bolder in their sinning. They don’t feel conviction or their conscience. The Holy Ghost has been grieved away, and their conscience is seared with a hot iron. With each passing second, they are hardening all the more- getting farther from God and the ark of safety. 

I look at young people that are now adults and tremble. People that have heard things that many prophets and great men desired to hear and did not hear them. God has poured out His Spirit to them and shown them many signs and wonders. Nevertheless, the rebellion and the reprobation goes on. The trouble is, I have been at the bedside of the rebellious as they we passing into eternity. Many people think they will come to God on their death bed, but I have watched the blank stares when you try to share the Gospel. I have been told of the terror that the person felt knowing in a short while they were about to face God; only to never see them alive again. They lived their whole lives rebelling against God and playing games — never getting serious about their soul. Now they are in their grave. I have watched many at the end of their life struggle to receive the grace of the Gospel. Years of running and rebelling had finally caught up. 

Of the funerals and memorial services, I have presided over, I often come back to the words of Solomon. He had it all. He had everything this world wants and in super abundance. He was drowning in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. He called it all vanity. Nevertheless, he ended his thoughts with these words I would like to leave in this entry to those who are following a similar path;  Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; […] Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.    

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