But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. — 2 Peter 2:1-3
This passage explains clearly why exposing false teachers in the church is a crucial aspect of the gospel. There are many who distort the true gospel of Jesus Christ and cause destruction in the church. Last night, while evangelizing at a Rob Bell conference in Charlotte, NC, I ran into a couple who were in line to see the event. This couple claimed to be church planters who pastored a church here in Charlotte yet they took serious issue with the gospel that we were giving to people. I found it peculiar that a pastor, a professed minister of God’s word would be so repulsed by the preaching of His word.
This morning I woke up to see that this pastor’s wife had spouted her commentary all over one of the threads of our Facebook video, threatening to contact the staff of my church and griping about how obnoxious our preaching was to those who were simply there to “hear their friend [Rob Bell] speak.”
This prompted me to research the “church” they planted and lead here in Charlotte, and what I found was, well, actually unsurprising.
The name of this “church” is Watershed. It’s located in the Plaza Midwood area of Charlotte. The church is co-pastored by Scott Hofert, whom we met last night, and Matt O’Neil. What kind of church is this? According to their website,
Watershed was birthed out of two things: deep relationship and justice. Our founders and co-pastors, Matt O’Neil and Scott Hofert, along with their wives Donna and Taryn, met in the late 90’s while working together for a Virginia-based international humanitarian organization.
Okay, so they met while working for a humanitarian organization. Red flag. Humanitarian = social justice. Couple this with Scott’s wife’s comments on our Facebook page in opposition to our proclamation of gospel truth where she states,
I was there in line last night- we are church planters and pastor a church in plaza midwood. Your loudspeaker blared in all our ears as you yelled scripture and damnation so we couldn’t hear ourselves think. In a city like ours surrounded by so much brokenness and poverty are there not better ways to bring God’s kingdom than accosting people who bought tickets to hear a friend speak? Wouldn’t your hours be better spent feeding the hungry, empowering the marginalized and being hope rather than yelling about it? And we wonder why people don’t want to become Christians, you know? If you wanted to bring attention to yourselves you succeeded- but to God? Not a chance.
Notice this: She objects to us “yelling Scripture,” and believes that the preaching of the Word of God is why unbelievers don’t want to “become Christians.” We preach Christ, and if unbelievers reject what we proclaim, it is Christ who they reject. These “church planters” are repulsed by Scripture. But it makes sense now. They are not really church planters–not in the biblical sense by any means–they are social justice warriors. They claim the name of Christ yet flee from His word.
‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ — Matthew 15:8-9
Okay, so this pastor, Scott Hofert, and his wife are at a Rob Bell conference. Rob Bell, a well known false teacher and distorter of God’s truth, is widely known for rejection of the biblical doctrine of Hell and false teachings on the sinfulness and depravity of mankind. With this comes Bell’s obvious objection to the Holiness of God whose divine attributes, according to Scripture, include not only love and mercy, but justice and wrath. I wanted to see if these so-called church planters promulgated the same distortion of God’s character.
I took a look at their beliefs posted on the church website, and I must say, the beliefs do not depict the Christ that is found anywhere in Scripture. What I found was pure idolatry–a false Jesus that these so-called church planters and “pastors” have invented for themselves. While I will not go through every belief line by line, I will focus on a few of the weightier here.
First, the question is “What do you believe about salvation, sin and redemption?”
We believe that the original gift we are given in this lifetime is goodness. When God created us, he did so and called us good, called us beloved and found us to be pleasing. However, we also believe that, regardless of how well we are cared for throughout our lifetimes, we all experience a degree of woundedness or distortion in ways that are both seen and unseen. Through his life, death and resurrection, we believe Jesus was announcing a way of becoming awake and a way of letting go of the sin that these wounds create in ourselves and in our world.
This is a completely baseless and false assertion about Jesus’ redemptive purpose. It is true that we were created in the image of God and God called His creation “good.” But the statement then veers off into something foreign to the Scriptures. Our depravity, as humans, is not dependent or relative in any way to “how well we are cared for throughout our lifetimes.” The Scriptures say “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” Our “woundedness” is directly related to our sin nature. We sin because we are sinners. Through the fall, sin entered the world and tainted our good image (Romans 5:12).
Further, the purpose of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection presented in this church’s beliefs is a total distortion of Christ’s salvific work. Jesus did not purpose His work on the cross to “announce a way of becoming awake and letting go of sin,” Jesus bore our sin on the cross. This is a false gospel.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. –2 Corinthians 5:21
In the statement of beliefs regarding social justice, it states,
Since our inception Watershed’s passion for undermining systems that perpetuate human suffering has slowly grown … Watershed believes that our response to the change we experience in our life with God should activate our empathy and compassion to personally and communally respond to systematic suffering; lovingly, creatively, non-violently, sacrificially and purposefully.
It is not wrong to be compassionate toward those who are suffering. In fact, a necessary consequence of becoming a regenerate child of God is compassion. Yet, the primary mission of the church is not to relieve the suffering of this world. The primary mission of the church is the proclamation of the Risen Christ, the savior of the world. His final words to the church were to go forth and make disciples. How do we do that?
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. –Romans 10:14-17
Now, remember, this is what these “church planters” were opposed to, the preaching of the Word of God, the “yelling of Scripture and damnation,” as the pastor’s wife states. The couple is totally fine with a false teacher like Rob Bell coming to spew his repugnant falsehoods about our God yet totally opposed to the reading and preaching of Scripture. See a problem here? Of course, according to a few of the visitors to Bell’s event, their reason for being there is because they find Bell’s God “comforting.”
Now, keep in mind, that the vast majority of Bell’s constituency are unrepentant idolaters who, instead of seeing themselves as God sees them, find comfort in a false God that approves of their sin. That’s Bell’s purpose. Interestingly, Watershed’s God appears to be of the same ilk. For their statement of beliefs makes the following assertion:
At Watershed we acknowledge that sexual expression can be both life giving as well as destructive to ourselves and to others, regardless of orientation. We believe God’s love and acceptance is not withheld from anyone due to their sexual identity or expression.
So they are obviously a gay-affirming church. This means they believe that you can practice sin unrepentantly and still see the Kingdom of God. Yet the Scriptures completely deny this false assertion in Romans 6:9-11. Further, Jesus says in Luke 13:3-5, not once, but twice, “unless you repent, you all will likewise perish.” This false church denies the biblical gospel of repentance and faith in Christ alone.
Like Rob Bell, this false church denies or downplays the existence of a real, eternal punishment for those who die without Christ and instead redefine Hell as something people in this temporary life experience while “on the receiving end of abusive power, greed, or lust.” While this experience can be devastating, this experience is nothing close to what Jesus describes as everlasting torment for unbelievers–where the worm does not die and the fire is never quenched (Mark 9:48). Jesus was adamant about the existence of this eternal place of death and torture and warned incessantly against it. There is no equivocation in the Scriptures regarding the existence of Hell, yet Hofert and his church have decided that this is not an important issue and the relieving of temporal sufferings should most certainly take precedence over the true gospel. They state,
And while Watershed will often engage dialogue about what happens after a person dies, the conversation that we find more interesting is what happens in our lives with each other and in this world before you die. In other words, how will your life becoming more alive and more in sync with the ways of Jesus make ways for heaven to overwhelm the hells that we know exist today for others?
Why would a pastor be so offended by those proclaiming Christ and his truth? These people do not know Christ. Scott Hofert does not know Christ, not the biblical Christ. Hofert has idolized a false Jesus, teaches a false gospel, and operates a false church. Hofert’s God is a god that overlooks sin and comforts sinners in their transgressions. The true God is a just God who demands punishment to satisfy his wrath towards sin. Man can never completely satisfy God’s wrath, and this is why Hell is eternal for those outside of Christ.
Hofert believes that his ways, his teachings, his ideas are better than God’s, yet his ways, according to the Scriptures, will only lead him to destruction (Proverbs 14:12), unless he repents. Scott Hofert is clearly a false teacher according to the Word of God and because of this, he must be marked and avoided (Romans 16:17).
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. –2 Corinthians 11:13-15