Wednesday, December 31, 2014

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 3, the IF:Gathering

This is part three of a four-part series. I'm examining the website, teachings, and women of "She Reads Truth" in 2 parts (What They Say, and What They Do). Part 3 (this part) looks at the conference known as the "IF:Gathering" in which many of the She Reads Truth women are involved. In part 4 I will discuss women teachers in general from a biblical perspective, and provide a list of solid teachers (men and women) of the Word.

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 1 (What They Say)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 2 (What They Do)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 4 (Women Teachers)

Have you ever heard of the IF:Gathering? No? I hadn't either. But after reading this today, you will.


I'm 54 years old. I was born before the internet, before cell phones, CD's, DVD's, laptops, personal/desktop computers, cable television, wireless, GPS, robots, and almost before satellites. I remember what it was like to roam around the neighborhood for hours, unsupervised. To ride my bike to the creamery to get an ice cream. To be dropped off at the mall and picked up 8 hours later. I listened to Sgt. Pepper on 8-track. My telephone was hooked into the wall, tv was black and white, and there was a test pattern that came on when broadcasting ended at 11:00 (or 1:00) and the National Anthem was played.

We watched a man walk on the moon and thought we had reached the heights of technology, marveling that just a few decades prior, the Wright Brothers had first flown a very few feet. Now we were in space. When the astronauts landed, they were given ticker tape parades in the streets. I read that the computer in the Apollo manned rockets processed 4,000 times slower than the ones we use today for space. They were no more powerful than a pocket calculator.

Even though I was born before all that, I am no fuddy-duddy when it comes to technology. My father bought Pong, the first mainstream video game. (1972). I was hooked from the start. I grabbed a computer when they became affordable in the mid-1990s, and got online at 360 baud.

Today's crop of young women are known as Millennials. They were born approximately from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. These kids were born entirely in the digital age. They have a natural proclivity toward accepting the digital. If you ever saw a toddler pop a CD into the computer or use joysticks on a video game you know what I mean. On Wikipedia regarding the Millennials and technology, a large-sample (7,705) research study of college students was conducted.
They found that Next Generation college students, born between 1983–1992, were frequently in touch with their parents and they used technology at higher rates than people from other generations. In their survey, they found that 97% of these students owned a computer, 94% owned a cell phone, and 56% owned an MP3 player.
As each new invention comes along, they are in themselves neutral. Each new invention has the potential for good or for bad. Laptops have no doubt made life easier, from grad students to executives. But they also revolutionized the porn industry, which is a #1 problem in America today. I remember when the Swedish X-rated, commercially aimed porn movie I Am Curious Yellow came out (1967). It created a huge stir in our town in RI. It was banned in Massachusetts. I remember certain older women who wanted to see it, but didn't dare, because they would be seen going into the public movie theatre. Nowadays you can watch anything, anything, on your on computer in the dark secrecy of your LCD-lit bedroom.

IF:Gathering combined a unique scriptural message with viral marketing through online networks. ~Christianity TodaySo technology is neutral, it's how we use it that matters. What does this have to do with the IF:Gathering? Becuase the technology these women use to promote their unbiblical agenda is almost entirely digital. That's why you never heard of the IF:Gathering- it is a viral, digital movement.

We exist to gather, equip, and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.

Sounds ... interesting. On the one hand it is good to find a place where women can be equipped. It is good to live out our purpose, as long as we have a solid understanding of the biblical purpose of our lives, first as children of God, then as our gender. The part that makes me unsettled is the "unleashing" part. Am I leashed? Have I been leashed all my life? These young women are going to take off the collar of leashing and let me go? Who leashed me in the first place? To live out my purpose? I haven't been living my purpose all this time? Have I missed the boat for 54 years? Good thing these women exist.

I try to alert you to buzzwords. Here we are concerned with the word 'unleashed.' In 2006 John MacArthur explained the emergent's language, particularly the use of "unleashed." (Even though in the last 9 years we have gone from emergent to post-modernist to post-Christian to anti-Christian). His reference to the 'facts' is to the emergent's notion that nothing can be known to be absolutely true in scripture anyway. Uncertainty is king.
What is more important than truth is ennobling the heretofore disenfranchised masses who have been subsumed under the dominant European white male culture. And so in order to "release" these oppressed women and minorities, we have to reinvent truth because the liberation of these...of these abused people is more important than facts, since we might not have any reality about what facts are anyway. So history gets twisted, everything gets twisted. ... This mentality of post-modernism is being applied to the Scriptures and to the church.
As a woman feminist Jewish professor I know says, "Surviving the patriarchy." In other words, a Millennial woman who calls for unleashing is saying that women have been wrongly oppressed by misinterpreted scriptures and they are here to unchain us from patriarchal bondage.

Hopefully you can see the hubris and foolishness
in the IF:Gathering mission statement
Do you know that the IF:Gathering title means?

"If God is real, then what?"

IF God is real? (Genesis 3:1). Hath God said? The title of their movement starts with questioning the existence of God. This is not a good start. There is nowhere to go but down.

#IFGathering trended on Twitter throughout the weekend, ranking among the top hashtags used around the world. ~Christianity Today
It is even worse than Genesis 3, because in the scene in the Garden of Eden with Eve, satan acknowledged God's existence. He went on to questioning what He actually said.

Under the "Equipping" pages on their website, for example, they will put up a verse. Then they will explain it. Today's is Genesis 46:30-47:12 with an emphasis on Genesis 47:5-6,

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 You can choose any place in Egypt for them to live. Give your father and your brothers the best land. Let them live in the land of Goshen. And if they are skilled shepherds, they can also care for my cattle.”

Below the verse, which is artfully pasted into a softly blurred mountainscape photo-scripture, is their explanation of the verse.

Below that, a journaling question. Here is the question:

IF you believe this is true, what does this mean about God? You? The world?

If I believe? If Joseph really existed, you mean? If Pharaoh existed? If Joseph and Pharaoh talked together? If Egypt existed? If Goshen existed? If cattle existed? What would not be true about that verse?

The postmodern person rejects the biblical absolutes that there is an immutable God, that God is sovereign, and that the only way to salvation is through the blood sacrifice of Jesus.
~Matt Slick.

The 'equipping' of the women of "IF:Gathering" is the same 'equipping' satan helpfully treated Eve to in the garden. You must understand that the emergent church post-modernist person questions everything about the bible, they absolutely believe that nothing can be known for absolutely true.

Jen Hatmaker is one of the women of  IF:Gathering along with founder Jennie Allen and including Ann Voskamp and Angie Smith and some others. Hatmaker explains IF’s inception as 'a movement for our generation.' Unlike all the other movements every other generation has experienced?Read Ecclesiastes 1:4. Hatmaker wrote,
We’re building a tribe, in my bravest moment I’ll call it a movement. With humility and thankfulness, we are mentored by Christine Caine, Debbie Eaton, and Shelley Giglio.
Yes, the Tribe of Doubters in the Slough of Despond.

But wait, it gets worse.

We've talked about the IF part. There is the gathering part, also.

The women don't just promote their doubts online in digital fashion. They gather in real life. They say,

Our desire for you to be brave and to dream about what it would look like to gather, equip, and unleash women in your city. This is not going to happen because of us, this is going to happen because of you. Period.

Maybe they are forgetting Someone? The Holy Spirit?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So I don't know about the brave part, but the bible does talk about weakness an awful lot.

Their graphics always show blurred or softened farm tables artfully filled with flowers and seated around them are young, trendy, (slim) women in cool glasses and artfully arranged scarves "wrestling with questions." Like, Hath God said? They describe the IF:Local Gatherings this way-
IF:LOCAL 
IF GOD IS REAL... THEN WHAT? This 2-day gathering will bring women together from around the world to wrestle with belief that God is real, the places in our lives where we are struggling with unbelief, how can we overcome unbelief and then what God can do with our belief.
If you don't believe then you need something different than a table full of biblically unknowledgeable women sipping refreshing drinks on lawns. If you do believe then edify and equip takes on a different meaning. If they invite unbelievers to a table for Gospel sharing purposes, then that is one thing, because it is the Word that saves. (Romans 10:14). That's mission. (Matthew 28:16-20, Luke 14:23). If they're believers, then they trust the Word, believe it, and are being trained by it. (2 Timothy 3:16). The path these women are taking is the middle ground, But there is no middle ground. (Revelation 3:16).

I wish people wouldn't complicate things. It really is black and white. Belief and unbelief. Saved and sinner. Narrow road and broad road. Hot or cold. In or out.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6)

IF:Gatherings are ongoing in living rooms and lawns by the thousands. See?


Are you astounded? I was. White pins represent private gatherings. This means that they are invisible to you and me in daily Real Life. But they are not invisible to the Millennial (Digital) Generation. They are going on, all over and all the time. Each one of those pins represents a place where impressionable women will gather to plant or nurture seeds of doubt. Do you see this as the monstrous ecclesiastical tragedy that it is? Do you mourn these women?

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Christianity Today wrote on the IF:Gathering and its viral and volcanic impact, in February 2014.
The first-time event had a vague premise—If God is real, then what?—and no speaker lineup when announced this fall, but sold out in 42 minutes, forcing organizers to coordinate local watch parties across the U.S. and 22 other countries to accommodate interest. teachings from women like Christine Caine, international speaker from Hillsong Church; Jen Hatmaker, Christian blogger and author of 7; Ann Voskamp, author of A Thousand Gifts; and Shelley Giglio, a leader alongside her husband Louie Giglio at Passion City Church. 
Allen brought together 60-some influential bloggers and leaders from across churches, denominations, and theological positions, convinced that God was calling her to rally for unity among the splintering factions of the church. IF focused distinctly on spiritual formation, with both inspirational and practical takeaways. Based on the directive in Hebrews 12 to "throw off everything that hinders" and "run with perseverance the race marked out for us," dozens of speakers encouraged women to chase their calling. Since the event details were kept secret, IF attendees were drawn to the overall concept, rather than popular speakers "from their camp" or sessions on hot topics, said Amy Brown, IF communications director. 
“"We've been slow to step into our giftedness or strengths. For a long time, that wasn't an option," said Allen.”
Just think about that last statement for a moment. For 2000 years, the Holy Spirit has been distributing Gifts, all that He determines (1 Corinthians 12:11)  but it hasn't been an option to step into them ... until now?

This new wave of evangelical women is fueled by an ever-growing online culture of high-profile women bloggers and savvy social media types who have laid the groundwork for the new focus. … “We’ve grown up in a different context,” Allen said. “The technology is unprecedented.” ~HuffPo

Would you pay to attend a conference that had a vague premise and a secret lineup of speakers? Doing so is just foolish.

But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)

But foolishly, they bought into it...in 42 minutes.

How can a woman test the spirits, if the premise is vague and the lineup a secret? (1 John 4:1)

What this is about is, encouraging women to be Christian feminists, and be teachers, pastors, and leaders. THAT is what this is about. And of course you must disbelieve the Word to do so because the word is clear on what women's roles are. To be what the IF women propose, one must abandon truth. "Hath God said?" IF God is real, then what? IF God isn't real, then what?

for those who guide this people have been leading them astray, and those who are guided by them are swallowed up. (Isaiah 9:16)

Where are the men holding on to these women as they hang precariously over the Pit!?

Stallone, in Cliffhanger
He, therefore, that went before, (Vain-confidence by name), not seeing the way before him, fell into a deep pit [Isa. 9:16], which was on purpose there made, by the Prince of those grounds, to catch vain-glorious fools withal, and was dashed in pieces with his fall. ~John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.
The worse tragedy is that these women do not know the danger they are in.

Source
IF God is real? Doubt is not noble. The bible says doubt is a destroyer of life. (James 1:5-8). There is no such thing as a bible "study" that has as its premise, "IF you believe this, then..."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Conclusion~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How can we help these young women? They are or will be mothers, and mothers are the architects of the next generation. Young doubters are leaving the church in droves, and this is where they are going, to home gatherings led by the LCD display on their monitors, not by the bells of church.

First, pray. Pray for the youngsters in your midst, in church and those who have left church. Prayer is a magnificent and primary way to change things.

Second, disciple. Disciple. Disciple. Titus 2:3-5.

What does it mean to be a Titus 2 woman, exactly? It begins and ends with discipling. I listed some good articles below that are theological AND practical. Please refer to 'Further Reading.'

Pray, disciple, and third, be a good example yourself. A Titus 2 woman is to be reverent. Young women leave the church (and young men too) because they can't stand the hypocrisy in church people and can't stand to see sin tolerated. Hypocrisy is always there, but try not to add fuel to the fire with what you say and what you do.

Fourth, always strive to be biblically knowledgeable. The word washes us, bathes us in holiness, trains us. If you are not a student of it how can we expect the young women to be? How can we be in a spirit of readiness to share, encourage, and instruct, if we don't know what the Bible says? (2 Timothy 4:2).

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31


She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 1 (What They Say)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 2 (What They Do)

She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 4

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Six months after the conclusion of this series, Lighthouse Trails researched the IF:Gathering also. Please read their extensive research here

What does the bible say about doubt?

Study Guide: Making Disciples

Woman to Woman: Answering the call of Titus 2
This article has excellent practical advice for both older women and younger women.

Being a Titus 2 Woman
Also practical advice

'IF:Gathering' Of Evangelical Women Focuses On Social Justice In Austin, Texas

If a Brand-New Christian Women's Conference Goes Viral, Then What?


12 comments :

  1. Elizabeth, thank you for your very informational post. I appreciate seeing this so that I might be informed before it heads out my way....

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  2. Wow, Elizabeth, I had no idea any of this was going on. What a dangerous (world wide) web that is being woven to ensnare countless women, who as you said, then poison the next generation.

    Like you, the word "unleashed" jumped off the page at me. To unleash means to free from a restraint. Yet is not the Holy Spirit called "the restrainer" (2 Thess 2)?

    It is GOOD to be restrained by the Lord. Proverbs speaks of restraint as a virtue, not a vice (ie, as in retraining your tongue/words).

    And 1 Timothy 2:15 in the NAS, states, "women will be preserved... if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with *self-restraint*."

    Regarding Titus 2 women, my husband and I just spoke with the leadership at our church, stating that our church needs more active Titus 2 discipling of the young women. That is something that has been on my heart for a while, particularly as I see the young women embracing the world's standards for apparel.

    -Carolyn

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  3. "Doubt is not noble."

    I might have to quote that in my little book of epic quotes from Christian history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most Christians struggle with doubt at some point. That's OK. Eventually they come out of it.

      The ignoble doubt I'm speaking of here is doubt as a way of 'Christian life'. To believe one is humble by doubting God's existence but pursuing His doctrines anyway is just stupid. Is that my opinion? No, it;s biblical. This IF:Gathering is to me an EXACT representation of the women spoken of in 2 Tim 3:7

      For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

      Delete
  4. Just want to add: One of the first things they said at the Gathering (assuming you missed it) was, "We know at some point we have all asked "Is God Real." And we are here to tell you that He is..."
    There are non-believers that are attending my Gathering and asking that question. God is using IF: Gathering and She Reads Truth to bring people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are people you will MEET in Heaven b/c these women were called to encourage other women to seek the Lord. Praying you get a chance to view this content from the Gathering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What the ladies say and what they do do not match up. The premise of the entire curriculum is "IF God is real", as seen by their statements in the devotionals online.

      In addition, we can see that their discernment is at a low by the fact of who they associate with and consider a sister, and by their misplaced attitudes regarding motherhood, and unbiblical pursuits (especially in the social justice arena).

      Praying you get a chance to respond to the Spirit's conviction hat there are more worthy curricula and 'gatherings' to attend and learn from. Remember, discernment is seeking the best, not settling for less.

      Delete
  5. Well, I guess there's sinners everywhere...I'm sorry you weren't taken under wing when you were younger. Thank you for being a mom. We need more moms who actively love being "just" a mom!!

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  6. I just came across your post and it made me sad in between the laughter. I attended an If Table but not the gathering. It was so vague and obscure I didn't walk away mad. Women embraced and were nice to me. But maybe that's just it. There was no substance. I had a good time but it didn't do much else. The woman facilitating it was a homeschool mom I have known for awhile. It seemed more like a bandwagon to jump on because everyone else is. I wasn't blown away. Women in large groups generally annoy me. And emotionalism mixed with sob stories bother me. I don't want to be defined by a movement. I already have a purpose as Gods daughter. On one level, this appeals to my need for justice. I do tire of old fashioned men telling women what they can and can't do. Most of us end up doing nursery duty when Gods gifted us in other ways for the church. So I appreciate that women are seen for the beautiful people they are. Seems like we are often put in roles even if they aren't things we are meant to do. I wish the church would stop doing that. On the other hand, the IF gathering seems too dependent on a movement and not the Holy Spirit. I think that should give most of us pause. Isn't Jesus enough? Isn't the Bible, Gods Word, all we need to learn and grow? IF not, then what will be enough?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Totally agree with "anonymous" above! When you have non believers attending church/gathering/bible study....they should feel that they IF they are questioning God...they are in the right place....that they will be (hopefully) LOVED and encouraged in God's word and come to have a personal relationship w/HIM. I don't think you have enough information to be making such a huge statement against this whole group of women who are doing what Jesus has called them to do! I hope they keep reaching more and more people and loving more and more people! If you have never been to an IF Gathering or Table...find one in your area....try it out for yourself....why listen to someone else about who has it all right and who doesn't? I think we can all count on our Heavenly Father to let us know when we are reading/listening to/going to a speaker/conference/small group etc...that we shouldn't be...don't you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mel, the premise of the IF in IF:Gathering is "IF God exists." How can one have a bible study, studying someone they doubt even exists?

      Additionally, their organization focuses on "social justice" which has nothing to do with the Bible. (http://www.gotquestions.org/social-justice.html)

      Third, individually, these women elsewhere have been shown to have a weak-to-no understanding of theology nor of the Jesus of the Bible. I have all the information I need to make an assessment they are to be avoided.

      PS: The heavenly Father DID let us know who to avoid. You are right on that one. Those instructions are in the Bible. Interesting that you didn't respond to any of the Bible verses here.

      Delete
  8. I was aware of the danger of the "IF" movement, but now I have a better and full understanding. Thank you for taking the time to do so much research and test it against the Word of God.
    I am almost tempted to attend a gathering just so I can speak truth into the lives of those who do. This is all very troubling in deed.

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