TPM (Theophostic): a technique built on a lie(s)

A little while ago a person in one of my church groups said that it appeared that I was ‘anti-Theophostic’. I replied that I was anti-anything significant that takes believers away from the truth of the gospel.

I have previously documented the lofty ambitions of TPM, the organisation behind ‘Theophostic’, and the questionable need for the technique. But I am here now to record that, after carefully looking at the Scriptural basis for the core belief behind TPM (as ‘Theophostics’ has now been rebadged), I am indeed ‘anti-Theophostic’.

At the heart of TPM is the belief that what Jesus Christ did for us was an incomplete solution to our condition:

Even though I was made totally new in my spirit person when I was saved, my core beliefs remained relatively intact. The Lord’s death took my sins away having them all nailed to the cross, but it did not change too much of my lie-based belief (emphasis mine).

And here:

We died with Christ and were created anew in righteousness and holiness of the truth, but most of what we believed prior to the cross followed us out of the tomb. Of course there was a change in what we believed regarding our situation of being lost and needing a Savior, and about Jesus being the price of our redemption. Believing these truths with the heart resulted in our justification (Rom. 10:10). Nevertheless, many of our false beliefs about who we are and who God is remained the same (emphasis mine).

Just in case you didn’t get it – TPM materials intentionally contain much duplication – the Smiths describe this incomplete gospel with a graphic example:

The day you came to cross of Jesus and believed in your heart the truth of the Gospel, you were crucified with Christ and were raised up with Him so you might “walk in a new way of life” (Rom 6:1-5) as a new creation. However, on this same day while standing before the cross of Jesus you were also holding a suitcase in your hand. This suitcase contained everything that you believed. Some of its contents reflects the truth, while much of it did not.

While standing before the cross you came to believe in your heart that Jesus death was payment for all your sins. You put this truth in your suitcase along with all that you still believe. In that moment you also realized that you died with Christ and shared in His death. Three days later you are raised up as a new creation from the dead with Christ. However, you are still holding your old suitcase that is filled with most of the same lie-based beliefs that were present before the cross and resurrection and your new creation (emphasis mine).

Do the Smiths give any Scriptural support for their belief that it is the normal Christian experience for Christ’s forgiveness to have bypassed our ‘false beliefs’? No.

And it’s not because they are against using Scripture. In support of their claim that ‘TPM draws from the principles of God’s Word and seeks to apply them rightly’, they have 75 statements of what they believe, each supported by a verse or passage from the Bible.

But nothing even close to a defence of a post-salvation ‘suitcase’.

Five of these statements mention these lies that we are all meant to be harbouring. Here are the Scriptures that go with each statement:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [NIV].

There is no support for the Smiths’ claim that this unrest has its root in their ‘lie-based thinking’.

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” [NIV]

There is no support for the Smiths’ claim that the disciples’ fear was due to their ‘lie-based thinking’.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen [NIV]

Paul is talking to those who need salvation, not believers. Even if the audience was relevant, the verse does not support the Smith’s equation of ‘a lie’, in the verse, with their post-salvation ‘lie-based beliefs’.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love [NIV].

This does not support the assertion for which it is given: ‘fear and other similar emotions are rooted in lies’.

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Life Through the Spirit

8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death [NIV].

Whether one believes that Paul was talking about his pre-conversion or post-conversion experience, and I am firmly on the side of the former, the passage is no support for the Smiths’ idea of some of our former self carrying over to our new life.

The truth is that the old self’s corruption included not only the sin inherited from Adam and his descendants (Exodus 34:7; 2 Corinthians 5:21), and your own sin (Hebrews 10:22), but also the effects of what others had done to you (Zechariah 13:6; 1 Peter 2:21-24). These sins of others also shaped you as a person, and caused the fear, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, poor self-esteem, and lack of trust that the Smiths say are rooted in ‘lie-based beliefs’.

However, contrary to what the Smiths say, and build a man-made technique on, these went, along with all the other effects of sin, when Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again. See, not only did He die FOR you [Romans 5:6-8], but He died AS you [Romans 6:6-7].

He died for you. 100% of you. Not you with a suitcase full of issues that was immune from His sacrifice – you come up from the water of baptism completely cleansed from all sins.

As our Lord said, ’It is finished!’ [John 19:28-30]. Let’s get…Back to The Gospel.

 

Is it always wrong to coerce somebody’s conscience?

In their Ezekiel Declaration, three Queensland Baptist pastors, and now 3019 ‘Church Leaders’ who have signed their declaration[1], say that one reason why our governments should not introduce a ‘vaccine passport’ is that the ‘conscience should never be coerced’.

Really? There is no occasion where it is reasonable for a Christian to have to do something against their sense of right and wrong? I don’t think so.

‘Coerce’. ‘to persuade someone forcefully to do something that they are unwilling to do’[2].

‘Conscience’. ‘a person’s sense of whether a behavior is right or wrong.[3]

We cannot rely on our conscience to always match God’s view. This is because the conscience is from God, but it is not God. We are all on a continuum stretching from new birth to perfection. And sometimes we are not very far along. Or moving very slowly. Or even slipping backwards in an area.

An example: however much you believe in your right to protect yourself from harm, if you carry a weapon into church, that’s an illegal act, and you will be coerced. For the common good. I think the signatories would all accept that coercion in this case is something that is reasonable by God’s Word (Romans 13:4).

If your COVID test has come back positive, it is likely that you are highly infectious. Therefore, whatever your conscience tells you about how much freedom of movement you should have, you won’t be allowed to come to church. Coerced. For the common good. I think the majority of the signatories would accept this coercion too.

If you are COVID unvaccinated, you are at greater risk of catching COVID. Whatever your reason for not being vaccinated. And you might not know that you have it. And then you can pass it on. The government may therefore require you and your unvaccinated friends not to attend an indoor function at the same time as those of your friends who are vaccinated. Whether or not the government institutes this requirement, I can see how a person using the wisdom of the Bible can come to the same conclusion. Others using their interpretation of that wisdom will not come to the same conclusion. This shows that it is not black and white like the Declaration suggests.

The Ezekiel signatories say that

A government that endeavours to force or coerce an individual who is striving to honour God, will find that they only encounter resistance.

We should all be ‘striving to honour God’. The fact that one or more of us resists the Government’s ‘coercion’ may mean only that we need to get a better sense of what’s right and wrong.

Let’s get….Back to The Gospel.

 

 

  1. In between writing and publication the signatures were removed and this message substituted:
  2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/coerce. Accessed 20 September 2021.
  3. Mangum, D. (2014). Conscience. D. Mangum, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, & R. Hurst (Eds.), Lexham Theological Wordbook. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. Accessed via my Logos Bible Software, Version 9 (www.logos.com)

 

The Moses Statement: an unjustified request?

In an undated post on Cauldron Pool, three ‘Ministers’[1], a ‘Pastor’[2] and an Elder[3], recently ‘respectfully and dutifully’ urged our PM and the Premiers to “allow Christ’s church to gather together for public worship.” To date another 381 ‘church leaders’ have also signed ‘The Moses Statement’.

The body of the letter makes it clear that the subtitle ‘Let God’s People Worship’ is a reference to Moses’ repeated request to Pharaoh to ‘Let my people go’[4]. This occurred because God’s people, a great nation, were in soul-destroying bondage. They had no close relationship with God and no land of their own. Through Moses and a series of miracles, God not only delivered them out of slavery, but into a new relationship with Him. Huge.

What then is happening to Christians in Australia to justify the invocation of Moses?

Nothing. All that’s happened is that we have been stopped from gathering in our church buildings. Is this an action against churches? No. Against Christians? No. It’s merely part of a society-wide prohibition on gatherings because they are unwise on public health grounds.

Are we justified in seeking an exemption from restrictions on the grounds that God requires us to participate in ‘public worship’? If there is such a case, the authors have not made it. Including making no mention of the case for church leaders to protect their congregations from a disease that is highly contagious and potentially deadly.

Let’s get….Back to the Gospel.

 

 

  1. Robin Tso, John Forbes, and David Kerridge.
  2. David Lachman
  3. Thomas Eglinton
  4. As recorded in the book of Exodus in the Bible.

 

The Ezekiel Declaration: God’s warning without God’s reasoning?

On Thursday three Queensland Baptist pastors[1] published, on Cauldron Pool, a letter to our PM. It is an objection to the introduction of ‘vaccine passports’. They called the letter the ‘Ezekiel Declaration’. And their subtitle, ‘Watchmen, It’s Time To Speak’, made it clear that this was a warning from church leaders, the people who took over the role of the Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel).

The pastors don’t define what they mean by ‘vaccine passports’, but the content of their letter is consistent with this Australian Human Rights Commission explanation:

The pastors say that they are not the first in history to issue a warning about ‘vaccine passports’, quoting approvingly Abraham Kuyper’s 1880 equation of the threat from ‘vaccination certificates’ with that from smallpox. (Australia already has a vaccination certificate, so that boat has sailed, but if Kuyper had an objection to the use of the certificate to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable, the reference is valid.)

These pastors, and now 2011 church leaders who have signed the letter, say that

For many Christian leaders and Christians, this [the introduction of a ‘vaccine passport] is an untenable proposal that would inflict terrible consequences on our nation.

Their ‘terrible consequences’ are five: ‘an unethical two-tiered society’, ‘immeasurable pressures on ordinary people’, ‘coerced consciences’, ‘vaccines do not protect infection’, and Jesus is the only one who can legitimately restrict entry to church services.

Here’s the first one, the creation of ‘an unethical two-tiered society’[2]:

I can see how those who willingly get the vaccination form one group (but not a ‘tier’). But if there is only one other ‘tier’, then they have omitted a group in their second ‘tier’: those who have declined to be vaccinated but do not have ‘good and informed reasons for declining’. And if the people that I know are anything to go by, there are a significant number of people in this group who will, when presented with information, change their mind. The pastors are therefore either missing a ‘tier’ or overstating the strength of the ‘two-tiered society’. Of course, a binary conflict is the more powerful image.

One of these ‘good and informed reasons for declining’, the pastors say, is the belief that the vaccine rollout is a ‘clinical trial’. It is plausible that some people may believe this, but the pastors offer no evidence for the claim.

But it gets worse: the pastors then use a sentence taken completely out of context (and without proper citation), from a speech by the Commonwealth Minister for Health, to justify these people’s fear. Here’s the quote, highlighted, in context:

To suggest that the Minister was saying that the vaccines are still in the trial phase, is dishonest, and, to use the same yardstick that the pastors use, behaviour that is clearly contrary to Scripture.

The pastors then move on to claim that the proponents of the ‘passport’ are ‘promoting segregation’. Without evidence, this claim is beneath any right-thinking Christian, certainly a group of Christian leaders, and brings shame on the name of Jesus.

In the same emotive and unsupported way, they then claim that the ‘passport’ represents ‘therapeutic totalitarianism’, a totalitarianism and that would use the aim of the ‘personal safety health and safety’ of Australians to hide a measure that would ‘dehumanise and control’ Australians.

Conclusion on their first reason

The use of a ‘vaccine passport’ to determine whether I and my fellow Australians are eligible or ineligible for certain goods, services, and activities, may well be something that an evangelical Christian like myself should be against. But the authors of this letter, have not, through their first reason, made the case. (There are similar flaws in the reasoning for their other four claims.)

Let’s get….Back to the Gospel.

 

  1. Timothy Grant of Mount Isa Baptist Church, Matthew Littlefield of The Baptist Union of Queensland New Beith Baptist Fellowship, and Warren McKenzie of Biota Baptist Church
  2. The pastors’ division of the population into those who hold and ‘vaccine passport’ and those that don’t, ignores the fact that there may be possiblility of a third group: those people who get vaccinated but are allowed to elect not to be issued with a ‘passport’.

 

But it works

I was telling them about the result of my investigation of a prayer technique for when you are feeling bad. I had misgivings. This touched a nerve in a couple of them: their response was effectively ‘It worked for me, so I won’t hear anything against it.’

This logic didn’t seem right. And it didn’t feel right by the Bible.

A bit of research (Galatians 6:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21) confirmed both things.

Judging a process based on the result is faulty thinking. It’s called ‘outcome bias’. A good result this time doesn’t automatically mean a good result the next time.

What about the Bible?

First up, the result may have been God. Even if the method was wrong. God’s mercy at work (for instance, Eldad and Medad in Numbers 11:24-30), and perhaps the desperate woman in Mark 5:25-34).

But maybe it wasn’t God. It could have been Satan (for instance Matthew 24:242 Thessalonians 2:9). Or it may have just been the power of suggestion. Either way we’ve not become more like Christ.

Second, the only way to guarantee a God-honouring result is to play by His rules.

Let’s get…Back to The Gospel.

 

Know thy enemy: John 17:13-16

I had a wake-up call recently. And, as is not uncommon with me, it came from Scripture.

I knew that we were meant to be in the world but not of the world (Hebrews 11:9-10). But when reading John 17, I had to ask myself whether I was sufficiently ‘not of the world’ to need the protection that Jesus prayed for his disciples when He knew that they were shortly to be without Him?

Did he pray for their protection from suffering? Persecution? Grief? Loss? Natural disasters? Sickness? Poverty? No, none of the above. Instead, he asked His Father to protect the disciples from ‘the evil one’. Satan.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

He knew that, without Him being around anymore to take the heat, the heat-maker was going to go for them. The ‘evil one’, Satan. Judas had shown that he was a real threat[1].

And removing them from the world was not an option – they were to continue the Father’s work of warfare with the world. And the world would hate them. Just as removal is not an option for us.

How often do we pray for that protection? Are we about the Lord’s work (1 Corinthians 15:58) enough to need that prayer? A sobering thought.

Let’s get…Back to The Gospel.

 

 

  1. John 6:70; 8:44; 13:2, 27

 

No need to gather to meet Jesus: Matthew 18:20

It’s happened again. And I still get not only disappointed, but surprised. A Christian author with otherwise sound thinking misusing Matthew 18:20. This time it’s Brian Sanders in Microchurches: A Smaller Way[1]:

The challenge is, how will the church present itself to a world that is becoming more and more relationally isolated…The answer is to look to smaller expressions of church…We know that Jesus poured his life into just twelve men and that where “two or three gather” in Jesus’ name, he is there with them (Matt. 18:20)[2](emphasis mine).

No, Brian, this verse is no support for your argument for small churches.

It is not about knowing that Jesus is present when at least two Christians are together. I mean, stop, and think for a second: what does that mean for you on your own?

Reading the verse in its context[3] gives the lie to[4] this common mistake[5].

This is what precedes verse 20:

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.

19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

And the subsequent verse:

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

So, what verse 20 – For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – is saying, is that when the church decides to remove a sinning brother or sister from the assembly, it is done with the authority of Jesus.

Discipline. Ex-communication. For some Christians, then, it’s time to recycle their dining room sign, buy a different notebook, reconsider buying these books, and consider a different coffee cup for a present.

Let’s get…back to the gospel. Don’t give up gathering [Hebrews 10:25].

 

 

  1. I got to this via his book Life in Intentional Community, sent to me by my friend Trevor Russell, Rocky Cape Company, and a leader in Detention River Christian Community.
  2. Sanders, Brian. Microchurches: A Smaller Way (p. 50). UG Media. Kindle Edition.]
  3. What respected guides Fee and Stuart identify as ‘the crucial task’ in [biblical] exegesis: “Essentially, literary context means first that words only have meaning in sentences, and second that biblical sentences for the most part have full and clear meaning only in relation to preceding and succeeding sentences” [Fee, Gordon D.; Stuart, Douglas. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (p. 31). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.
  4. The first meaning here: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/give+the+lie+to.
  5. One of my favourite theologians, Craig Blomberg, agrees [Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, pp. 280–281). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, accessed via my Logos library.

 

Church: don’t confuse the organisation with the organism

Roman Catholic teaching says that the true church is the visible organisation, the Roman Catholic Church, the church that descended from Peter and the apostles. Legitimacy for its local churches comes via the mother (outward, shell) organisation[1].

In contrast, the local church in the Bible, the ecclesia, gets its legitimacy from the Holy Spirit. It consists of a group of called out ones, an assembly. It’s not an organisation, but an organism[2]. (Yes, it may be organised, but that doesn’t make it an organisation – not as people usually think of an organisation anyway, something with structure existing independently of the people who are organised.) And since the Reformation, it will be marked by two practices: baptisms and the sacraments[3].

Unfortunately, when what begins as an organism, a few families in a home, grows, there will be pressure to create an organisation. And from then on, you have two ‘churches’: the organism, operating as God planned, and the organisation, being and doing what Caesar requires.

The first question then is whether you need this organisation. Do you really need to create something in addition to what you’ve got?

If you decide that you must participate in Caesar’s world further by creating one of his organisations to achieve the church’s purposes (worshipping God, building believers, sharing the Gospel, and doing good works[4]), how can you do that with minimal intrusion on the Biblical way of operating?[5]

Questions for both in-home churches and churches revisiting their governance to consider.

Let’s get…Back to the Gospel.

 

 

  1. From The Oxford Dictionary Church, Livingstone, E.A and F.L. Cross, Logos Bible Software, 17 May 2021Roman Catholicism. The term, which denotes the faith and practice of Christians who are in communion with the Pope, is used particularly of Catholicism as it has existed since the Reformation, in contradistinction to Protestant bodies. On its doctrinal side it has been characterized by strict adherence to tradition combined with acceptance of the living voice of the Church, which is held to expound infallibly the revealed truths contained in the deposit of faith. Whereas in the early centuries the Church had to clarify especially the great mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation, and in the Middle Ages doctrines concerning the relation of God and man through grace and the sacraments, post-Tridentine theologians have been especially concerned with the structure and prerogatives of the Church, the position of the BVM in the economy of salvation, and the function of the Pope as the Vicar of Christ on earth, culminating in the dogma of *Infallibility promulgated at the First *Vatican Council of 1870. In recent years there has been some reaction against the positions developed at the end of the 19th cent. and an attempt to bring the Church into closer communication with the modern world. This movement is closely connected with the Second *Vatican Council, with its doctrine of the *collegiality of bishops, the use of the vernacular in worship, and a more liberal attitude towards Christians of other denominations.

    From an external point of view RCism presents itself as an organized hierarchy of bishops and priests with the Pope at its head. This structure has been built up during a long history and rests its claims on the powers entrusted by Christ to His Apostles in general (Jn. 20:23) and to St *Peter in particular (Mt. 16:18 f.; Lk. 22:32; Jn. 21:15–17), as whose successors the Popes are traditionally regarded. Their supremacy over the Church, though sometimes contested by representatives of the *Conciliar theory and of *Gallicanism, was widely accepted in the W. from early times, as is shown by the appeals to Rome in the *Donatist and *Pelagian controversies of the 4th and 5th cents. Papal supremacy was positively accepted at the Council of *Trent and only slightly modified by the Second Vatican Council, which emphasized the position of the bishops. Acc. to RC teaching this hierarchy represents the Divine authority to whom obedience is due. Supernatural life is normally mediated to individual Christians by members of this hierarchy in the *seven sacraments. The emphasis in recent years on the part of the whole Church and the desirability of the participation of the community, e.g. in the administration of *Baptism, has not altered the essential position of the ordered episcopate and priesthood. An elaborate sacramental theology was developed by the Schoolmen and post-Tridentine theologians, and the sacramental system covers the whole life of RCs. The centre of the liturgical life of RCism is the Mass, which is regarded as a re-presentation of the redeeming work of Christ in His passion, death, and resurrection. Frequency of Communion has been encouraged by modern Popes, esp. *Pius X, and has been made easier by drastic relaxations in the *Eucharistic fast and by the introduction of *Evening Masses. Communion is, however, required only at Easter, and should then be preceded by the Sacrament of *Penance. Attendance at Mass on the other hand is compulsory on all Sundays and *Feasts of Obligation. Other devotions are left to the free choice of individuals and the traditional extra-liturgical exercises, such as *Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the *Rosary, and *Stations of the Cross, have recently come to play a less prominent part in RC life than formerly. This development may be partly explained by the introduction of the use of the vernacular in liturgical worship obviating the need for popular services, and more particularly by the increased emphasis on the liturgical life of the whole Church which is reflected not only in the new *Missal and *Breviary but also in the customary arrangement of services at times convenient for those engaged in secular life. The reformed liturgy has laid stress on the centrality of Sunday and drastically reduced the importance of saints’ days. At the same time, devotion to the saints has been fostered by the large number of canonizations in modern times, such as those of St *Teresa of Lisieux and the *Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

  2. The top meaning at www.dictionary.com: “a form of life composed of mutually interdependent parts that maintain various vital processes.” Here’s Kyper’s explanation, reported by John Halsey Wood Jr.:“In this address [Rooted & Ground], Kuyper offered an ecclesiological paradigm to meet the exigencies of modern society. The church, he said, was at once an organism and an institution. As rooted, the church had an inner organic life that flowed directly from the Spirit of God. The way to understand this aspect of the church was the various biological metaphors used in Scripture, especially the church as a body. This would also explain the familial character of the church. Whatever disestablishment may signify, the church was not a mere club but made claims even upon those born into its bosom apart from any deliberate choice. Nevertheless, the life of the church was not to be taken for granted, as perhaps a national church was prone to do. It must be deliberately built. The church was not only a body but also a house, and as such it was founded and built by human hands. This building had a solid outward form that shaped and protected the inner organism. “The church is called a multitude of priests, legitimated through birth but consecrated only through anointing,” he said.

    Moreover, these two, the hidden mystical life and the outward form, were not to be separated, but existed in a reciprocal dependence….” [Introduction—Abraham Kuyper and the Challenge of the Church, Rooted & Grounded: The Church as Organism and Institution, Abraham Kuyper: Collected Works in Public Theology, 2015, Lexham Press, Bellingham, via Logos Bible Software, 17 May 2021.

  3. For example, Grudem, Wayne, Bible Doctrine, ed. Jeff Purswell, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, 1999, page 369.
  4. For example, Grudem, page 373.
  5. An ABN (Australian Business Number) begins the journey. But do you really need one? At least ask the question.

 

Leaders: a painting or a window?

A painting[1]:

A white window with black shutters Description automatically generated with low confidence

A window[2]:

A picture containing window, clouds, appliance Description automatically generated

I would like to be like the apostle Paul, a window to Christ:

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many [NIV].

Think of your leaders, the people you follow on social media, watch, see at conferences: are they a window to Christ?[3]

Let’s get…Back to The Gospel.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Photo by 贝莉儿 DANIST on Unsplash
  2. Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash
  3. Thanks to Paul Tripp in his book Lead [p. 60. Crossway. Kindle Edition]. Recommended for all Christian leaders (whether formal, ‘Big L’ leaders, or informal, ‘Little L’ leaders).

 

TPM (ex-Theophostic): you feel bad but is TPM the solution?

Who doesn’t feel bad at times – sometimes for extended periods.

Good news then: the purveyors of Transformational Prayer Ministry (TPM) say they’ve got the solution. The introduction to TPM on the website says that TPM is for people[1] who feel bad and want those feelings to go away[2]:

No wonder then that the TPM organisation has such lofty ambitions for TPM.

But not everything that is available, or even popular, is right for you. So, let’s examine TPM, using Scripture as our standard.

To be fair to TPM, we should look at it in the way that the authors suggest: purpose and principles before process[3]. And use their material, The Essentials of TPM.[4]

Let’s start with its purpose[5].

The purpose of TPM is to provide a frame of reference that views life’s difficulties from a heavenly perspective, so we might intentionally and purposefully cooperate with what God is doing as He refines our faith, renews our minds and transforms our lives [page 172].

How do we access this ‘divine vantage point’[6]? By being ‘positioned’ through the TPM process[7]:

The only way that we can have God’s truth and perspective is by having God persuade us of it. The good news is; this is exactly what He wants to do! However, we need to be in the proper position to receive it. What we will learn in TPM will help us move to the place where God can shine His light of truth into our hearts [page 19].

This process achieves ‘the ultimate goal of TPM’:

The ultimate goal of TPM is that the person might know the truth within his or her heart, resulting in the effortless and maintenance-free expression of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives [page 18].

This is not via additional knowledge but by ‘transformation’:

Transformation is accomplished through an inner work that is brought about by God. The Scriptures point out,

“We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

We are being transformed by God, not by our own efforts. This transformation is the purpose and goal of TPM. Transformation is the outcome of the work that God is doing within every believer [pages 20-21].

The purpose of TPM is therefore to provide ‘both a frame of reference and a process by which we can co-operate with God in this refining [transforming] process’ [page 22].

The result of this co-operation with God is that it ‘expedites what He is trying to accomplish’ [page 37].

Having seen the purpose of TPM, let’s now turn to Scripture.

TPM was a recent invention of man. How did Christians survive before it was invented?

Feeling bad? Scripture says that we should be controlled by the Holy Spirit (e.g., Ephesians 5:15-18; 1 Peter 5:6-11), not by our emotions. Speak to God, cry out even. See the Psalms. Talk to other believers (e.g., Galatians 6:1-10). (Yes, from these things you may end up with a specialist helper, but even there Scripture can be the guide.)

To build up my insulation from feeling bad, I would continue with the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1-2): increase my knowledge of God by reading and studying His Word, pray, and spend time with other Christians who also want to ‘grow in the Lord’ (2 Peter 3:18).

And Scripture’s answer to accelerating this transformation (Hebrews 10:14), TPM’s ‘expediting’? Do more of the above.

Let’s get…Back to The Gospel

 

 

  1. TPM is for Christians:
  2. The early training that he developed (which he then called “Theophostic Prayer Ministry”) focused primarily upon training ministers, counselors, and lay people in how to help those viewed as the emotionally wounded. Unfortunately, because of this early perspective, TPM came to be viewed by many as a “recovery” ministry for those who could not manage their emotional pain in healthy ways. Because of this limited view, much of the Body of Christ did not consider TPM for themselves since they did not put themselves in the “emotionally wounded” category. It would be over a decade before Ed Smith would come to realize that TPM was not about pain management or “healing the past” (or healing anything for that matter), but rather about faith refinement, mind renewal, and genuine transformation available for all’ [The Essentials, 8].
  3. The ‘Three P’s of TPM’ [The Essentials…page 7]
  4. Ed Smith & Joshua Smith, Second Edition, New Creation Publishing, Simpsonville, 2019, downloaded from Welcome to TPM – Transformation Prayer Ministry, 4.12.2020.
  5. If you are already convinced that TPM is something that you should use, please still read on: the authors say that if you don’t understand the purpose of TPM, you ‘will not likely see any need for more once [your] pain reaches a tolerable level’ [page 10]. And that, they say, would mean that you would miss out on the benefits of making it part of your lifestyle [page 11].
  6. The Purpose answers the question, “Why should we learn and apply TPM?” It provides a frame of reference or, more accurately, a divine vantage point from which to view life’s difficulties. When we are able to understand our difficulties from God’s perspective, we can then more intentionally participate in His purpose, which is to refine our faith, renew our minds, and transform our beliefs and, subsequently, our behavior’ [The Essentials…, 168-169].
  7. The TPM Process (what happens in a ministry session) has a specific purpose and intent: to connect with negative emotion, identify lie-based thinking, and receive the Lord’s perspective that results in transformation’ [The Essentials…, page 56].