Many of us have had this experience: you’re at home drinking your coffee, watching the morning news when whap whap whap on your door signals that you have Saturday morning visitors. You quickly throw on something a bit more presentable than your pj’s and open the door to two young, smiling faces complete with ties and Bibles. “Good morning sir or madam, we are just out sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Have you ever heard of Jesus Christ?” they ask you. You are immediately trying to determine if these are Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, but you need to play along just a little bit longer to find out.
“Uh, yeah, I’m a Christian. Where do you guys go to church?”
“O good! We’re Christians too—just like you! We attend the ward down on First Street.”
“So you guys are Mormon?”
“Yes, and we wanted to sha—“
“That’s nice, but I ah, I don’t believe the same thing you guys believe.”
“Well sir, what do you believe?”
“Well, that Jesus came and died on the cross for my sins, and He rose again the third day, and because of that I am saved by grace.”
“Actually sir, we believe the same thing!”
At this point in the dialogue, if you felt awake and ZEALOUS enough to continue, you probably spent the next hour trying to convince them that they were not the same thing you were. And at every turn, they nodded their heads and agreed with your verses and beliefs. As you listened to them speak, they used the exact same words you have read in your Bible and have said to your friends at church. But you know they are different. If you’ve ever studied Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons or some other fringe group, then you have studied a group collectively known as the Jesus Cults. The first thing any good book will explain to you is why the above conversation happened and why they sound so similar even though they are very different: they are using the same verses that you use, but they have changed the meanings.
This very thing makes it incredibly difficult to talk to a member of Calvary Temple. As you try to reason with them, your attempts to dissuade them from their deception are rebutted verse after verse. Often they will quote two or three verses in the same sentence, and they tend to come across as though they feel they possess some superior knowledge of Scripture. The only problem is, you know that what they are saying isn’t quite right; even though it sounds really good and really spiritual, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Part of this muddling comes from how they have spent years using the same phrases over and over again in a wrong way—the results of which are much like the unsuspecting frog in the kettle where the temperature is slowly raised until the frog is cooked. Even when people first leave the church they aren’t entirely sure which verses to use in defense, except that they know something at Calvary Temple is very, very wrong.
Interestingly enough, after you as the frog jump out of the kettle (leave Calvary Temple) and cool off from the deception (have your mind renewed by the Holy Spirit), you can begin to sift through the error of their speech. When I attended Calvary Temple, I thought Pastor Scott’s teaching was the bomb: I could talk about a Pastor Scott sermon for hours after church. I wondered why the Christian world didn’t view him as the next A.W. Tozer or Charles Spurgeon, because we needed men that could teach the Word as deeply as he could—at least that’s what I had always heard the other pastors say. I was waiting for the day when I would see a Star R. Scott book in any bookstore or church besides my own, and I would know that Christendom had finally recognized his highly unique giftings as an Apostle-Prophet-Pastor-Teacher. Now, almost two years removed, as I read the transcripts of his teachings, I realize that his sermons make no sense. He generally uses Scriptural “phrases” here or there as it suits his topic, and he rarely expounds on any passage of the Bible. As I read his sermons now I must conclude that the man is terribly unscholarly, because he seldom uses a verse in its proper context. It’s like he has put a dozen verses together to form a building, but the foundation isn’t on Scripture. As a result, when I compare a Star R. Scott sermon to the Bible, the structure falls apart into a dozen separate meanings that couldn’t possibly be combined to form the thought he was trying to convey.
Topical Preaching vs. Expository Preaching
You could separate preaching methods into two broad categories: topical and expository. Topical focuses on a specific topic and references verses related to that topic. Expository focuses on a passage and expounds on its meaning word by word, verse by verse. Cults gravitate toward topical studies and away from exposition, as the former can be easily twisted to deceive, and the latter forces them to recognize that what they are saying doesn’t match with the rest of the content. Star Scott, by his own admission, teaches almost exclusively in a topical manner.
“I think–something we don’t normally do is to share the Scriptures from an expository-type manner. I’m more of a topical teacher. Exposition is when you go verse-by-verse and look at passages of Scripture. I want to take a little bit of time here in these first couple of chapters in Proverbs and do something we don’t always do. We’re going to look at a lot of verses in their context as we’re reading through here and just let the Holy Spirit speak to us and deal with the purposes.” -Star Scott, Absentee Parents Pt. 4, December 10, 2000
As a side note to the above, Proverbs is one of a few books of the Bible less suited for exposition, as it is a collection of proverbs (wise sayings) over many years from several authors where each verse does not necessarily relate directly to the preceding verse. It is much different than an epistle written to a specific audience for a specific purpose at a specific time: the message that is conveyed from the start of that epistle to the end is called context. I just find it ironic that on the rare occasion he went expository, he chose Proverbs.
“I happen to be a topical teacher. Because of that, we don’t always cover the full course of the Word of God.” -Star Scott, On This Rock Pt. 3, June 11, 2008
You can even look at the names of his teachings and derive this: “Walking in the Spirit,” “Prayer,” or “Humility” to name a few. By his own admission, he often begins sermons by looking up a word in the concordance, perhaps authority, and reads each and every verse that has the word authority in it. That’s not the absolute worst thing in the world—there are places for word studies. But what you have to grasp is this: if you look in your concordance and find 50 verses on the word authority, you will be dealing with up to 50 different contexts, 50 different audiences, multiple languages, and two different testaments. This is begging for a proof text (using a verse or short passage from the Bible as part of a proof for a doctrinal belief; the nature of taking a verse to stand alone apart from its context, noted for frequently building a case for a doctrine not found in the Bible and usually contradictory to another passage of the Bible viewed in its proper context). If you then combine two of those verses that did not intend to convey the same thing in order to hammer your point home, you are going to find yourself in a place of using the same words as the rest of Christendom, but with different definitions.
Let’s look at an example of something that might be said from Calvary Temple’s pulpit—if you’ve spent any length of time there, you’ll recognize this Calvary-Temple speak. NOTE: this is not a quote from Calvary Temple, I am just creating an example to make a point.
“Well, Jim has chosen to leave, and he “says” it’s because he doesn’t agree with our interpretation of the Word. We sat down with him for hours and I said, ‘if this is how you are feeling, then how can two walk together unless they be agreed?’ We know that God doesn’t reveal anything unless He first reveals it to His prophets, and what you are saying, God hasn’t revealed to us so you got it from somewhere else. For you to assume that you’ve heard from God without even seeking our counsel is dangerous: you are to know them that labor among you. Because you aren’t doing that, you are putting yourself in a position of walking disorderly, not falling into the rank and file that God wants His people to walk in, and the Word says to have no company with those that follow not after our traditions.” He chose to go his own way, saying that he knew better than all five of us pastors, just like the fool that cannot be taught, though seven wise men can render reason. He was throwing verse after verse around, and it’s almost like his much learning has made him mad. You might be surprised by this but we aren’t surprised. We’ve spent countless hours with Jim and have been dealing with this for several years. The only thing I will say about this is that you know where he is now. You know what he thinks of us as a people. So why would you want to fellowship with that—light has no fellowship with darkness.”
To the outside observer, this might just sound like a weird way to talk, but this is the language of Calvary Temple. What you can’t quite see in the above paragraph is that there have been eight different scriptures with eight different meanings used to justify CT’s actions. In most cases, not even the entire verse was used, let alone a single verse in its proper context. To the CT congregant, the above paragraph makes perfect sense, because they’ve been conditioned to fill in the Scriptural blanks; but by doing so they have become susceptible to overlooking the obvious proof texting that has taken place. Let’s dissect this:
- Amos 3:3 “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?”
- Amos 3:7 “Surely, the LORD God does nothing without revealing His plan to his servants the prophets.”
- I Thess. 5:12 “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you”
- II Thess. 3:6 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”
- II Thess. 3:14 “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
- Proverbs 26:16 “The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
- Acts 26:24 “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.”
- 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
So we’ve got Old Testament, New Testament, Pauline epistles, minor prophets, Proverbs, and historical books all thrown together into one paragraph to explain why you shouldn’t talk to someone who left the church. Well, let’s look at the context of each of these verses and then see exactly what was said in our fictional (but accurately retold) announcement from the pulpit:
1. Amos 3:3 “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?”
This verse is found in Amos when the prophet was pronouncing God’s judgment on Israel. The context is found in Amos 3:1-9:
Hear this word the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt: “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.” Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Does a lion roar in the thicket when he has no prey? Does he growl in his den when he has caught nothing? Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground where no snare has been set? Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch? When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared—who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy?
In this case, Amos is speaking to the people of Israel about their sins being the cause of the judgment that was about to come. It is imperative to realize that there weren’t factions of Israel having disputes over different doctrines: this was about clear-cut sin; about Israel’s outright rebellion and idolatry. In fact, nowhere in Amos are differences in doctrine even mentioned. So any time verse (3) is used by Calvary Temple to justify breaking off fellowship with another Christian due to differences in doctrinal opinion, it is being used improperly. So what is the context of this verse and this passage? Amos is using a series of causes and effects—seven, in this case—to show that Israel’s sin is the cause of God’s using Amos the prophet to pronounce His judgment upon them. Verse (3) is speaking very particularly about God and Amos as a prophet, and Amos is essentially introducing himself as a prophet and giving his reason for prophesying. Looking at the Hebrew word נֹועָֽדוּ׃ (transliteration: no·v·’a·du), we see that the KJV word “agreed” is better interpreted “to make an appointment.” So Amos is asking “will you see two people walking together unless they have made an appointment to do so?” The cause and effect relationship he is stressing in this passage is “Would I be speaking God’s judgments to you if He had not told me to do so? A lion doesn’t roar without a reason, and people aren’t frightened without a cause. Since I am prophesying, it is because the Lord has called me.” This is what Amos is saying. It has nothing to do with differences in Biblical interpretation. It had everything to do with proving that God was going to judge a wicked and backslidden Israel.
2. Amos 3:7 “Surely, the LORD God does nothing without revealing His plan to his servants the prophets.”
Interestingly enough, the same passage is used twice in our example of a CT pulpit announcement for two separate meanings—in the first, it is used to justify separation due to doctrinal differences, and in the second, it is used to create some dogma that God always speaks to Christians through prophets or in this case, through a pastor at a local church. Before we continue, I must interject that SURELY it is obvious to even a beginner Bible student that you can’t use the same passage to take on two different meanings. Look at number (1) for the full context on number (2). Amos was speaking very specifically that “Every time God has judged you, Israel, there has been a justifiable reason—your own sins. And every time He has judged you, He has sent a prophet to tell you of the coming judgment that you might repent and be spared. I am the prophet that God has sent, and He has sent me because of your sin.” So to take this verse to mean “God wouldn’t tell you to leave this church unless He first spoke it to me as your pastor” is completely nonsensical and grossly out of context.
3. I Thess. 5:12 “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you”
Let’s examine the full context of 1 Thess. 5, starting at verse 1:
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.Rejoice evermore.Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
You will notice that “know them which labor among you” is in the middle of a chapter that isn’t about hearing from God, or giving absolute obedience to a pastor. In fact, ‘knowing them that labor among you’ speaks of esteeming very highly, and honoring church elders. And it’s true—we should honor our spiritual leaders and esteem them very highly. But this next point is key: there is no command that we need to obey them carte blanch—this passage is about various and sundry commands concerning normal Christian living. You could just as accurately say “And we beseech you therefore, brethren, to appreciate them with labor among you and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you.” Appreciation and honor are not the same thing as obedience. If my pastor tells me to jump off of a bridge and cites 2 Thess. 5:12, I wouldn’t say I have to honor him Biblically by obeying him. And in the above pulpit announcement, this phrase from this verse has been used to insinuate that by disagreeing with a pastor, the congregant has somehow “not highly esteemed” the pastor.
4. II Thess. 3:6 “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”
5. II Thess. 3:14 “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
We can probably handle these two at the same time. Let’s fill in the blanks between verses 6 and 14, and see if CT filled in the blanks properly during the pulpit announcement:
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
In this case I quoted the NIV, because it takes the confusion that the English word “disorderly” causes in the minds of CT members. What is the context of this passage? Is Paul talking about someone who disagrees with pastors? No, not at all. The passage is very clearly talking about people who are not working and are requesting food from the church storehouse. Paul was saying that they should not do that, but to continue to work and not be dead weight in the church. The fill in verses that Calvary skipped in their announcements display Paul when he was among them, how he took bread from no one, but worked with his hands to provide for himself. He concluded his thought with “if anyone obey not this command (to work and not demand free food and support) then don’t fellowship with him. Make him ashamed, so he goes back to work.” So by looking into the context of (4) and (5), we see that it has nothing to do with the application Calvary has chosen to use them for. A CT member might now say “But wait! Don’t scripture verses have deeper meanings than the surface meaning?” Nope. And that’s the problem. Each passage of Scripture means one thing. To take it to mean something different is to take it out of context.
6. Proverbs 26:16 “The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
This is true. Probably doesn’t apply here.
7. Acts 26:24 “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.”
I don’t think that Star Scott realizes that when he references this phrase, he is putting himself up as an pagan ruler of the Roman empire and his congregant as the Apostle Paul. Furthermore, this historical account of Paul’s defense before the Romans has absolutely nothing to do with a CT congregant disagreeing with Star Scott’s interpretation of the Bible. If he uses this one on you when you leave, count it as the highest compliment he’s ever given a dissenter: most of them are considered stupid, ignorant beasts with no Bible training. At least he thinks you tried.
8. 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”
Look at (4) and (5), the context being how to treat a believer who isn’t working. In fact, Paul continues in II Thess. 3:15 to clarify “count him not as an enemy, but count him as a brother.” But now in (8), they are using a verse that is directed towards NONBELIEVERS. So in one paragraph, they have applied verses meant for believers and those meant for unbelievers. And no one catches it.
Now that we have looked at these eight verses a little closer, let’s reconstruct the pulpit announcement and see if it still makes sense:
“Well, Jim has chosen to leave, and he “says” it’s because he doesn’t agree with our interpretation of the Word. We sat down with him for hours and I said, ‘if this is how you are feeling, then (1) would I be speaking God’s judgment on this country if He hadn’t told me to? (2)We know that God always reveals his plans of judgment on Israel through His prophets, and I am one of God’s prophets. And what you are saying about disagreeing with Calvary Temple’s doctrine, God didn’t reveal to me when He showed me how He would judge Israel, so you got it from somewhere else. For you to assume that you’ve heard from God without even seeking our counsel is dangerous: (3) you are to honor a pastor by always telling him what you believe and by being prepared for him to correct your stupid belief with the obvious truth that he is in charge and you are not. Because you aren’t doing that, you are putting yourself in a position of (4) not holding down a job and buying your own food, and (5) the Word says to have no company with those that don’t work.” He chose to go his own way, saying that he knew better than all five of us pastors, just like the fool that cannot be taught, (6) though seven wise men can render reason, because everything I had just told him made so much sense. He was throwing verse after verse around, and (7) it’s almost like his much learning has made him mad, just like the Apostle Paul. You might be surprised by this but we aren’t surprised. We’ve spent countless hours with Jim and have been dealing with this for several years. The only thing I will say about this is that you know where he is now. You know what he thinks of us as a people. So why would you want to fellowship with that—(8) light has no fellowship with darkness, which means this guy was a Christian at the beginning of this announcement and has lost his salvation by the end of it.”
Before someone runs off looking for the Calvary Temple transcript of this announcement, I will clarify again that I have created it to make a point. You can huff and puff about it and say that no one at Calvary ever says that, but after 20 years of living there I beg to differ. This lingo is an integrated part of their speech.
This introduces a series that we want to write on the misunderstood verses, phrases, and words that Calvary Temple uses in defense of their doctrines. The difficulty in reaching a CT member is due largely to the inability to show them the Word, as they will just rebut your reasoning with a few halfcocked “counter points” that sound really spiritual; but when those counter verses are broken down into their various meanings as context is accounted for, you will see that CT members are essentially speaking nonsense.
I do not say this as an attempt to be insulting to any member of Calvary Temple; more importantly, I think it is insulting to God to misuse His Scripture for personal gain. Proof texting is a danger that we all need to be aware of, as we all can become susceptible to it when we start to put the answer before the question. What I mean by that is this: if you start with a conclusion and look for it in the Bible, you will very likely find it. If you start with a question and look in the Bible for the answer, you are in a place to find truth. Much of Calvary’s doctrines have been formed slowly in response to “situations,” in an attempt to keep the church from dissolving and to keep Star Scott from looking bad.
There are several areas of concern in their doctrines, but one of their largest areas of error is their belief that Star Scott must sign off on their decision to leave the church. He has taught them this lie sermon after sermon: and while others may disagree with me, I think he truly believes it. I think he believes it because he stands the most to gain from it, and I think he is unaware that he approaches Scripture with his own gain in mind. Do you wonder why there are hundreds if not thousands of “defectors” from Calvary Temple and virtually ALL of them are in sin, bitterness, and deception because “they left disorderly?” Think about it—you want to leave a church, and you are waiting for God to speak to the one person in the world that stands to lose financial remuneration and spiritual credibility if you go. That’s like waiting for your butcher to tell you to become a vegetarian.
Concerning proof texting and the changing definitions of words, the first issue here is preeminence, and how Star Scott loves to have it. It is approaching the Word of God with the answer already determined that “I am in charge, the buck stops with me, and it’s my way or the highway” instead of the question “how does God command pastors to function within their church.” Just by studying passages such as “do not be lords over God’s heritage” one would understand that your church members belong to God—not to you. Do you understand the context of 1 Peter? Who was lord of the Roman empire? Peter was saying “Don’t be Caesars over the possession of God.” Surely that would lead you to believe that the buck does not stop with the pastor.
The second issue is a lack of scholarship among the congregation. If you are reading this and you are a member of Calvary Temple, don’t huff and puff at me—I lived there for 20 years and I am well aware of your conversation. Put your fear aside and open Scripture. Read the Bible without the terror of losing your family if you perchance should find that what you have been taught is incorrect. And I don’t just mean the Bible-in-a-year chapters on your calendar. Open the Word and read an entire book over and over until God reveals to you His purpose in inspiring its authorship, and see what His focus is: what His desire is.
The third issue is a lack of correction. These false doctrines continue because of a lack of people standing up for the truth. The same fear and control that keeps people at Calvary keeps them from standing up to Star Scott after they leave. I understand that we don’t want to tear down what God is building. But we would not want to build up what God is tearing down. Your silence is your approval, and the decision of inaction is to enable the deception to continue. If everyone that had the nerve to act would stand up, walk out, and stand against, this place would change or disappear a whole lot faster.
In conclusion, I’ve never heard a group claim so frequently and with such vehemence that they have sound doctrine than I have heard from Calvary Temple. But I have also come to realize that no one has recognized the soundness of their doctrine except for themselves. I’ve never heard of a group that claimed so often and so unabashedly that they are “so well taught.” But for all of the “good teaching,” I’ve never heard any other person recognize that Calvary Temple members are “so well taught.” They have drifted so far away from the foundational truths of Scripture that they no longer see them under their feet, but rather afar off. And because it isn’t what is under their feet anymore they don’t even recognize the foundation, but rather call it heretical and “easy beliefism.” Then, they take that which is under their feet to be foundational, and stand on it as their soap box to proclaim their false doctrines to be truth. And they use verse after verse to persuade anyone who will listen that they have found what it means to be a Christian, what it means to hear from God, what it means to be under authority. But anyone who has listened has not recognized it as truth, but has rather tilted their head to the side in doubt and said, “That’s not what it means.”