Tag Archives: cult

The Wartburg Watch & The Great Shepherd

In recent weeks, Calvary Temple’s abuse has been spotlighted on a notable Christian blog called, The Wartburg Watch. Brandon wrote a few introductory posts. If you are looking for a history of Calvary Temple and the allegations of spiritual, mental, physical and sexual abuse, you can read his essay, “Calvary Temple: In a Nutshell.” Though it is long, the content makes it well worth the effort of reading. Woven throughout Calvary Temple’s history is the thread of Brandon’s personal story.

 

“I’m sorry, Joe. Dad sent me out here. You have to get out of my car.” My younger brother peered at me through tired eyes from the back seat of my 1998 Toyota Corolla where he had been sleeping. He nodded in resignation like a man who had just heard that he was going to have to sleep under a bridge that night and there was nothing he could do about it. He closed the car door behind him, walked down my parent’s gravel driveway, and disappeared into the lonely darkness. It was almost Christmas and it was snowing gently. He was fourteen. … Read more here.


The Wartburg Watch has also published a few stories of ex-CT members, like Michelle, Patty and Molly. Theirs are the stories of brave souls with lives torn apart by shepherds who devour sheep. Even I, who knew parts of these stories already, find it heartbreaking to read them. And for each of these stories, there are many more just like them. For being just one (or two) church(es), Calvary Temple is prolific in its destruction of families, marriages and lives. Note: To other Calvary Temple survivors, The Wartburg Watch is willing to publish more stories if you are willing to share.

Reading these stories is strong motivation in the fight to expose Calvary Temple, when one realizes that real shepherds don’t act like this. 

In choosing the axe instead of the shepherd’s staff, CT pastors have chosen to become devouring wolves. Instead of caring for their sheep, they beat, manipulate, abuse and destroy. They are shepherds in name only, displaying characteristics of satan and certainly NOT the Great Shepherd who loves His sheep with a great love.

I am meditating often on the pastoral words of Psalm 23, as I rest in the love and care of The Great Shepherd. It is God’s character that is the greatest indictment against Calvary Temple’s actions.

 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the L ord forever.

Psalm 23

 

 

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Taking Action Through Peaceful Protest

by Brandon

 

The Loudoun Times article has become the tipping point in the Against Calvary Temple movement. It is no longer just about religion, or Star Scott, or your particular interpretation of the Bible. It has become a community issue about sexual and physical abuse: with some covering up, others standing up, and a steadily increasing voice raising up a protest that these things shouldn’t be. The local media has helped, and we are thankful. And now, a peaceful protest is being organized for this Sunday, March 29th, at 9:15 a.m. across the street from the Calvary Temple property. Naomi and I will be attending, and we hope that you will come as well.

Of those who will attend, each has his or her own reasons for making it out. Some protesters will be ex-CT members who finally have a chance to stand against the evil they were dealt. Others will attend because they have friends or family affected by CT. Others see the direness of the situation and have decided that something must be done. None of us can stand by idly while children are repeatedly and systematically abused, maligned, and dealt lifelong damage by a leadership team who has demonstrated time and time again that their interests are preserving their own visions of grandeur, their positions of power, and their terribly ineffective racing ministry.

Why am I taking my wife and four month child four hours south for a protest in another state? There are several reasons. First, I have been directly affected by Calvary Temple. I grew up there and I was eventually kicked out, much to my own surprise. I was given a list of reasons why it was happening, all of which seemed like petty reasons to kick someone out of a church. I found out a year later that the actual reason was that they were afraid that I would influence people away from the church if the IRS investigation turned up criminal charges against Star Scott. I suppose that they were probably on to something there, as I had decided that the IRS investigation could not be persecution according to 1 Peter 4:15, which says that if you suffer because you are a thief, then do not consider it persecution.

I can remember a meeting with Associate Pastor Jeff Heglund and two others in which I made the mistake of saying the word “cult.” To give you context, I was brought into a meeting that I did not call because they wanted me to tell them any concerns I had about the church so that they could “help” me. After much prodding, I reluctantly told them that, while I would never separate over these issues because I knew that God was in control and He would be faithful to His children, if they insisted that I share my concerns, then I was concerned that the IRS investigation was a result of our own wrong-doing, I was concerned over the way that we treated former members, I was concerned that we broke off from the Assemblies of God but we didn’t let people break off from us, and I was concerned that we may have been beginning to develop the characteristics of a cult. The meeting was fine until the c-word came out. I saw the postures of the three men in Jeff Heglund’s office change. My deacon told me that I was full of demons. Sins that I had openly confessed and repented of years beforehand were brought back to the table as proof that I could not be seeing clearly.

And then Jeff Heglund said something that I have never forgotten. He said “Brandon, if you really think that we are a cult, then if you love us, you will do everything in your power to get us out of here. You will plead with us, you will beg with us, you won’t rest until you’ve pulled every last one of us out of here and seen us freed from this place.” And that is my second reason for attending this protest on Sunday: because I love these people and I want to see them freed.

It is interesting to note that if you speak against Calvary Temple, they say that you must be bitter. But in that closed door meeting, Jeff said a Truth—a capital ‘t’ kind of Truth—that I’m not even sure he fully understands. It is love, not hate, that compels us to free our families from that wretched place. And it is love that brings us all to the sidewalk of Tripleseven Road on Sunday.

The final reason that I am attending is because I am a Christian, and I have a responsibility to God for those people and for the purity of His name. The world must see that we are not all like Star Scott. They must see that Calvary Temple is not the way of Christ. To be silent is to offer tacit approval, and that is something I cannot do.

I have a responsibility to God in my response to Star Scott. We must distinguish between a right and a responsibility. Paul had a right to financial support from his churches, but he chose to forgo his right. However, as Christians we have a responsibility to “not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead to expose them (Eph. 5:11).” The Bible doesn’t say “you have the right to test every spirit.” No, it says “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone into the world (1 John 4:1).” Jesus makes it clear how you differentiate between a true prophet and a false prophet: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:15-16).”

It has been pointed out that Star Scott claims four of the five-fold ministry gifts that are written in Ephesians 4. He is an Apostle-Prophet-Pastor-Teacher. Which means he is either the most extraordinary man in the world or he is just another con man. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that, by claiming these titles for himself, he opens himself up to the Christian’s responsibility to test if he is a false apostle (2 Cor. 11:13), false prophet (Matt 7:15), false pastor (Titus 1), and false teacher (2 Peter 2). Ultimately, all of these tests come down to bad fruit, made up stories, fake miracles, and a false gospel. In Star Scott’s case, he fails on all four counts—an exercise which will have to be shown more thoroughly at another time. How is the church supposed to respond to a False Apostle-False Prophet-False Pastor-False Teacher? The Bible makes it clear repeatedly that we are to look out for these men, we are to expose them for what they are, and we are to warn other Christians to stay away. That is our Christian responsibility in dealing with Star Scott.

Lastly, I want to reiterate some truths that must be remembered as we go about this exposing and protesting. It is important to remember that not everybody at Calvary Temple chose to be there. When I was four and my parents decided to join, I didn’t have a choice. There are about 80 children at Calvary Temple—most of whom were born there—that were not given a choice. They aren’t legally able to run away, they can’t support themselves financially, and they certainly can’t be expected to have the mental fortitude to deal with the ostracizing that they would experience if they chose to leave. In the highest meaning of the word, they are the victims of Calvary Temple.

Not only are the children victims, but in many ways a lot of the adults are as well. Yes, there is an inner circle, and there are those that seem to be beyond hope. But all of us ex-CTers used to be CTers, and for a time none of us saw the truth. In many cases, it took extraordinary measures for us to be willing to see it. In my own case, I had to be forced to leave before I was willing to leave. So as we move forward with our plans, let us remember that we were once like them. If this had occurred at an earlier time in history, we would be the ones in the church building while a crowd gathered outside in protest. These people are our family. They are our loved ones. They have been told for years that we hate them and are persecuting them. They must see the opposite on Sunday. There are a small handful of them that need to be arrested and thrown in jail. And there are far more that just need to be set free. If it takes extraordinary measures to free them, then extraordinary measures I will take.

Join us on Sunday. Help us set them free.

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Horrified: About the Loudoun Times-Mirror Article

Written by Naomi

 

Today, the Loudoun Times-Mirror published an article detailing sexual abuse at Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia.

An excerpt from the article reads,

“Now 26, the Maryland woman, along with one other victim, have come forward, alleging rampant sexual assault within the church among members of its leadership, teachers and teacher’s aides.

The women paint a disturbing picture of an atmosphere where physical and sexual abuse were not only tolerated and encouraged, but “taken care of” within the church should a victim come forward.

But Thompson and the other woman, whose name is being withheld by the Times-Mirror because she fears for her safety, say they can’t stay silent anymore.”

Horrified. It is the only word that portrays my feelings with accuracy. I am horrified at the stories, horrified at the circumstances detailed in the article, horrified at the extent of Calvary Temple’s inability to act like a real Christian church, horrified that children endured these atrocities, horrified that any human being would respond in the way CT did, horrified that there are still several hundred followers there, horrified that some choose silence over warning, horrified that Calvary Temple exists and cloaks itself in the guise of spirituality.

Horrified. Filled with horror, to shock greatly. To make my blood run cold. To make my hair stand on end. To scare the living daylights out of me.

In 2012, my little hometown was engulfed in one of the greatest sexual abuse scandals in the nation. Penn State University’s former football assistant coach and defensive coordinator was accused of multiple years of sexually abusing young boys from a charity that he founded. I was surrounded by people of all walks of life with same normal human response to this scandal: they were horrified. They were not horrified because of the publicity or because of PSU football or anything like that. Over and over, people expressed their horror for the abuse that those poor boys endured. In my workplace, folks talked of little else. They shook their heads in shock. Grown men were grieving. Women who never met the victims cried tears of empathy. And when Jerry Sandusky was pronounced guilty by a jury of his peers, our tiny town erupted with rejoicing for justice that had been done.

It is normal as a human to empathize with the innocents. To be angry at injustice. To be horrified by evil. To fail at this normal human response is to become a monster.

As I write these words, my four month old son sleeps peacefully on my shoulder. Before he was born, I thought I understood what love was. Now I know without a doubt the intense love of a parent for their child. My actions are driven by the God-given responsibility of parenthood. My child is small, defenseless, innocent. Far be it from me to ever put him in danger or to stand silent while he was harmed.

As a parent, I am horrified at the stories of things happening at CT’s church and school. I am horrified that people would question a sexual abuse victim in front of her abuser. I could not raise my child at Calvary Temple. I could not allow him in a place where multiple accusations of sexual abuse have been raised. I could not entrust him to a church-esque community that has shown themself to be unworthy of trust. As a parent, I would run far, far away.

In a passage of Scripture so important that three of the four gospels repeat it nearly verbatim, it says,

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”
Mark 9:42 NASB
 

The God that we serve hates those who hurt children. In the same way, we Christians (followers of Christ) are compelled to stand against such things. The oddity in this situation is that Calvary Temple routinely hurts children, by turning their parents against them, by counseling (i.e. forcing) them to abandon their children, to shun them, to ignore them for daily church events, to give them to the care of a school that has no oversight with teachers that are not certified and inept and according to the article, willing to overlook abuse.

The straw that breaks the camel’s back? Star R. Scott and his taped confession of sexually abusing minors. Calvary Temple’s revered leader, senior pastor and self-professed Apostle-Prophet-Pastor-Teacher who is accountable to no one, admitted that what he formerly stated was adultery and a one-time-thing, was actually sexual abuse. Of course, he offers spiritual-sounding excuses and justifications to disguise the truth, but they matter little. Star R. Scott ought to be behind bars, not leading a church. Forgiveness is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, and his repentance, if it were real, would have led to justice.

Star Scott’s actions make him unfit for ministry.

“Namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,”
Titus 1:6-8 NASB (underline added)
 

Star Scott deserves reproach by law enforcement, normal people, churches, Christians and the universal Church. He does not deserve respect or a position of church authority. When the email detailing those accusations against him was released in 2008, his response was essentially “it’s not true.” People believed him, but even loyal followers said to themselves, “if it is true, we would leave.” Fast-forward to seven years later and he admits the truth. What will the response be now?

It is possible for those at Calvary Temple to become immediately defensive at the Loudoun Times-Mirror article, but I strongly caution against the reaction to denigrate the victims brave enough to tell their stories (and those additional victims not featured in the article). It is extremely rare for a childhood sexual abuse victim to lie about what they have suffered. It often takes the courage that comes with adulthood for them to tell their stories. You may read more about childhood sexual abuse here to give understanding about the normalcy of their responses and the mountain of issues that they bravely work through to come to a point of sharing their stories publicly. Their stories are not to be taken lightly.

As a human, as a parent and as a Christian, I am horrified at these things, at Calvary Temple. If God had not already rescued my husband from their clutches four and a half years ago, I might be tempted to stage a hostage rescue attempt. Unfortunately, you cannot rescue those who do not wish to be rescued. So today, I make my appeal.

Dear CT congregants, please leave. Please, please leave. Before the horror escapes your heart and you become immune to evil, please leave.

 

 

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Panel Discussions: Clarity or Control?

by Naomi

After any cataclysmic event, Calvary Temple has something they refer to as “panel discussions.” It’s the cult version of a Q&A session. Congregants/church members submit questions, either written down if the topic is particularly sensitive or verbally if they’re feeling courageous. The panel of pastoral staff answer the questions. These panel discussions often follow the exodus of a prominent church member or a particularly inflammatory teaching series (usually regarding how you should never leave Calvary Temple. Listen to the sermons yourself. Every sermon circles back to the same thing).

One of the specific marks of a cultic environment is that they control information. The members of a cult believe only what their leaders tell them and are immediately suspicious of outsiders/outsider’s information.

Panel discussions are Calvary Temple’s chosen method of controlling information believed by their members. The leaderships (I do so dislike calling CT pastors & deacons “leadership” since they are such a bad example of what God has called leaders to be) has this down to a science. They have weekly pastors’ and deacons’ meetings to discuss ‘issues’ and ‘situations’ that arise. The pastors tell the deacons what to think and then the deacons tell the people what to think. If their initial form of information-twisting doesn’t work or the situation is serious enough to warrant whole-congregation information feeding, they must resort to a panel discussion. Or several.

Characteristics of Panel Discussions:

Mud-Slinging, or more Biblical term: Slander

Defined as: Defamation or Evil-Speaking. 1 Peter 2:1-3

Pastors say, “if you only knew what we knew” about the departing member. They cast as much doubt as humanly possible onto the character, integrity and motives of the departing member. They bring up past sins and disciplinary issues. They may even tell stories, most often exaggerated and even some outright lies to bolster their message that there is absolutely no way on earth this person was right in leaving! They’re rebellious! They’re proud! They hate authority! Their ‘much learning hath made them mad!’ You know it’s getting serious when they bring out the King James English. And again, I feel like I’m repeating myself, that’s not what that verse means!

Every single Calvary Temple member is conditioned to accept this information as truth. These members can hardly imagine the possibility that their leaders are often lying. Yes, lying. Speaking falsehood, deception and untruths. The members think, surely not! I trust them! Run away, these leaders are not worthy of your trust. If/when you leave the church, they will slaughter your reputation from the pulpit, too. Once lauded and applauded, you will be maligned and maliciously destroyed. They will try to eat you for lunch (a word to those who left/leaving, just walk away. Don’t live in bondage to the opinions of Calvary Temple members & leadership. You only need the good opinion of God. He is the One who judges you and that is enough.).

When people leave normal churches, normal Christians don’t usually treat them like lepers. They shake hands, have them over for dinner one last time and wish them well on their journey. If they moved on to a different church in the same area, they’ll see them around town and greet each other with genuine warmth and care. Normal Christians don’t burn bridges and sling mud at other believers.

 

Placing Blame 

Blame is placed on members that are doubting, by inferring that to doubt, question or search the Scriptures themselves is sin. This particular aspect screams of spiritual abuse. It also reminds me of the corruption in the early Catholic church. The Bible was in Latin and the common man was forbidden to read it, because supposedly, he couldn’t interpret it right. Panel discussions often include encouraging members to listen to more teachings and discover the hidden sin within themselves that would cause them to doubt the validity of CT teaching. Because obviously, you *must* be in sin if you’re questioning (sarcasm).

You know who questioned the apostles’ doctrine?? The Bereans. You know who applauded them for doing so? The Apostle Paul. And yet the self-professed Pastor-Teacher-Apostle-Prophet Star Scott thinks that you should read the Bible less, because  you can’t interpret the inspired Word of God responsibly for yourself and you need him to do it for you. (definitely sarcasm).

Re-Establishing Authority

Star Scott loves to bring out obscure Old Testament passages to liken himself to Moses. That’s unBiblical: see Pastoral Authority is Not Mosaic. He also likes to ridicule the scholarship of anyone who would interpret Scripture differently than him, which is hilarious, considering he has very little training in how to interpret Scripture. Bible training also doesn’t validate interpretation. If we’re comparing dollars-to-donuts here, I probably have more Bible training than Star Scott. That alone doesn’t make me right. It is honesty and integrity with the Word that makes me right. I welcome any discussion, questions, criticism and comments about how I interpret the Word of God. I welcome polite, respectful, cordial discussion about the points that I bring up. I absolutely welcome face-to-face conversation about Calvary Temple’s doctrine — but so far, none of the CT members I know have cared enough to do that. They’d rather believe the gossip that comes from the deacon’s meeting than ask me themselves.

Star Scott also enlists others to re-establish pastoral (and mostly HIS) authority. He has surrounded himself with “yes men” and puppets-on-a-string that more than willingly flatter him before the congregation. They say, “We are so blessed to have a man of God like this, who preaches sound doctrine even when it’s unpopular. It is such a privilege to sit under this man who has laid down everything for us.” Syrupy-sweet flattery that sounds spiritual and is used to further convince members of their ultimate fear — that to leave CT is the equivalent of leaving God.  Oh, and consider this: he says that his accountability is in the “plurality of elders,” but in just the past 5 years both of his chief pastors (who were designated by him to take over the ministry in his place should the need arise), 4 or 5 deacons, and 3 or 4 young adult captains have left the church over Scott’s anti-Biblical doctrines.  Does he change?  No, he just replaces them with lesser men and preaches on Korah and Dathan and Aaron and Miriam one more time.  So when we call his pastoral staff a rubber stamp club of yes men, that’s what we are referring to.

 

Reminding Members of Their Absolute Dependence on the Community

“If you leave, you are serving your flesh.”
“If you leave, you are going to be spiritually shipwrecked.”
“If you leave, you will fall into sin.”
“There’s nothing wrong with leaving… but if you want to leave, there’s something wrong with you.”

 This characteristic of Calvary Temple particularly infuriates me (don’t go crazy and call me bitter and angry, because (a) I’m not bitter and (b) there is a holy anger). I am angry by the arrogance that Calvary Temple leadership and members constantly show in assuming not only that they are the best church, but that they are the only church that is really teaching truth. Is God so limited that He can only speak through one church in the entire world? Is the power of God so weak that He cannot empower a believer to live holy without the support of the almighty Calvary Temple?

 

Fearmongering

This is the use of fear to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end. Panel discussions are the perfect venue for inspiring fear in Calvary Temple members because they are particularly vulnerable to drastic decisions (like leaving the church) after a trusted member has left. The pastors know this so they use every opportunity to say their favorite line: “if so-and-so left (because they were considered spiritual), then you could be next.” They imply that because so-and-so left, and obviously they had to be deceived to leave the only church in the world that preaches truth (extreme sarcasm), then you could be deceived, too!… and leave… and go to hell!

Outsiders are reading this and thinking, “this is insane! Pastors actually do this?!” Oh yes. You have no idea.

 

Re-Directing 

“Don’t spend a lot of time studying the Bible on authority.  You should spend more time studying what the Bible says about self, then you’ll realize who you are, and all of these other things will be easier to accept.” Star Scott, January 13th, 2013 Panel Discussion

When honest questions are asked at Calvary Temple, often they are not answered — they are redirected. When inconsistencies are noted by the members, pastors turn attention to the person asking the question. That their motives must be wrong, their heart must be impure, they must be somehow in sin.  I don’t know about you, but when I ask an honest question, I expect an honest answer. Honesty, integrity, truth. Not deception by avoiding the question.  In a healthy church, there is a way to ask tough questions without fear of retaliation through labeling and discipline for “deception.”

 

Manipulation

Panel discussions are framed for the purpose of producing a specific action. The leadership would say that they just want their people to obey the Word, but really, they want the people to take very specific actions… to obey leadership. We are not talking about specific commands of Scripture. We are talking about ideas that they have, non-Scriptural commands that they give and expect unquestioning obedience, weddings that they want to take place, more money to be given to the church, correct information to be spread across a three hundred member congregation so they can all lie and sound like they’re telling the truth (i.e. “it’s not a school!” even though everybody calls it a school, it’s not a school).

CT leadership manipulates people into doing what they want. If you’re a member there, I pity you. I am sorry that you cannot make your own decisions (except for stupid things like what you are eating that day), but that they are made for you. I am sorry that you are held to the standards of others, instead of walking with Christ and finding the standards that the Holy Spirit presses on your heart. I’m sorry that you will probably stay because you are afraid of losing your family/marriage/friends/etc. I’m sorry that your spiritual life will be dictated to you and that you will lose the joy of being led by the Spirit, because you are only being led by a man. I’m sorry that you now believe this manipulation is actually spiritual leadership.

 

Conclusion 

To sum up, panel discussions are not preaching. Not teaching. Not edifying. Not enriching. Not enlightening the believer. Not giving aid. They do not expound on Scripture, except to use it in error. They do not point CT members to Christ, but to a man and a religious system.

Panel discussion are slander-centric. They are comprised of pastors oiling the hinges of their controlling machine with spiritual sounding words that go against the very essence of Scripture. Panel discussions aid in destroying relationships and reputations. Panel discussions are venues for publicizing bad reports, guiding willfully ignorant souls into more ignorance and engaging much spiritual dialogue with nothing but a sprinkle of real sound doctrine. Like honey added to poison, members swallow these lies because they “taste” good. Lies always go down easily. Then you are murdered while you remain unaware.

One last reminder: Panel discussions are often edited before being posted Calvary Temple’s website to remove information that pastors say “confuse people.” In rare circumstances, panel discussions will never be available to the public. When churches hide information that is spoken from the pulpit, it is yet another sign of a cultic and controlling environment. For a place that lauds personal transparency (Calvary Temple-ism alert: “walking in the light”), there is much darkness and cover-ups happening in the backrooms and offices of Calvary Temple in Sterling, VA.

Panel discussions are another way for the pastors to use the Bible as a battering ram on the hearts of CT’s members. It forces loyalty to Star Scott, rather than loyalty to Christ. I pray that one day, those panel discussions will not be enough to stop the exodus.

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The Why & How of Personal Bible Study | Part 4

by Naomi

This is a four part series. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

We have talked about the attitude of Calvary Temple leadership on personal Bible study. We understand our personal and spiritual deficiencies when we exist without personal Bible study. The question remains; what shall we do now? Study the Bible! How do we study the Bible? Keep reading for a few recommendations on this vast subject.

Recommendations for Personal Bible Study:

* Get a new version of the Bible. At Calvary Temple, the King James Version is the preferred translation. Unfortunately, this version only serves to confuse most modern readers. There are a few peculiarities to the KJV that make it even more difficult for CT members to understand the meaning.

a) The King James Version is printed in verse form, with each verse being its own paragraph. This format causes readers to mistakenly believe that each verse is separate from the others, and instead of reading the author’s whole train of thought–they get “revelation” from one single verse and often, their application is skewed violently from the author’s original intent. This is in violation of basic laws of Bible interpretation. This concept is useful to Star Scott because he often quotes only one verse or one phrase from a verse and then indicates that the hearer should fill in the blanks. Because the hearers are conditioned by Star Scott’s ignorant Bible interpretation, they assume that the volume of Bible verses he quotes means he is teaching solid Bible truth.

b) The KJV’s antiquated language is a great barrier in understanding (and therefore, properly applying) Scripture. English words are used much differently now than they were in the 1600s or even the 1800s. It’s easy to assume you know the meaning of the text, and you might be entirely wrong. It is also easy for a not-very-educated pastor like Star Scott to proclaim the KJV says one thing (because of a particular word or turn of phrase) and for every Calvary Temple member to accept it as truth. Star Scott has very little knowledge in the original languages. By “very little,” I mean even less than I do. Add his propensity for dishonest Bible interpretation to his ignorance and you have a recipe for disaster.

c) The King James Version is translated word for word. The literal accuracy is great; but any language translator knows that there will be discrepancies because of differing syntax and idioms.

I’m not saying that the King James Version is bad. I keep several KJV Bibles for my own personal study. I am simply stating that you should be aware of the KJV’s weaknesses, complexities and variances. Then, you can more easily understand how Calvary Temple and Star Scott can use the Bible for their own gain.

There are many great translations that may be more helpful to you in your personal study of the Bible. I prefer the New American Standard. My husband reads the New International Version. We often borrow each other’s Bibles for cross-references and use additional versions of the Bible for clarity (a great way to avoid taking things out of context). Be informed.

Find a Bible that you can understand. It makes reading and applying God’s Word so much easier.

* Get understanding in basic Bible interpretation.

I highly, highly recommend “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart. It’s a short, relatively easy read. This book is incredibly helpful on learning how to interpret the Bible yourself. When you have spent most of your life listening to a pastor make the Bible say whatever he thinks it should, you need a complete brain overhaul on how to interpret the Bible. You need a good dose of real common sense and real hermeneutics. Star Scott uses the word “hermeneutics” and then completely does the opposite of proper hermeneutics. This would be funny, if it wasn’t so alarming.

Here’s a few simple rules for understanding the Bible:

1. Context is key. Don’t just read one verse and then, build a doctrine out of it. Read a few verses before and after, read the whole chapter, read the whole book. For real understanding and a good overview, read the whole Bible. You will have a much better understanding of what God is saying through His Word when you have seen what He says in the whole thing. As a vociferous reader of many kinds of literature, I rarely read a book that I don’t finish. It amazes me that so many people (who claim Christianity as their reason for existence) have not read the entire Bible cover to cover. To truly understand the meaning of Scripture, you must read ALL of the Bible for yourself.

2. It cannot mean to you what it did not mean to them (the original audience). You need to understand the author’s original intent to be able to understand its meaning. A text cannot mean what it never meant. You will never be able to have a proper application of a verse if you do not comprehend its original meaning.

* Get honest.

Many people get uncomfortable when they come across a Scripture verse that contradicts or challenges their previously-held beliefs. It is dishonest to twist God’s Word to fit your own ideas. We must be able to submit our preferences to what God is or is not saying in Scripture. Commit yourself to personal honesty, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Be diligent-absolutely bulldog stubborn–in your pursuit of truth.

*Get serious about personal Bible study.

Many people have a mental block about reading the Bible in its entirety. Book, chapter and verse dividers have made it easy for us to pick up a few verses here and there and consider ourselves great scholars of the Word, or at least good Christians. If you have not read the Bible completely, cover-to-cover, beginning to end, that you should make it a top priority to do that. Right now.

Here’s some food for thought:

The Bible contains about 789,000 words, give or take depending on your translation. The Harry Potter series contains approx. 1,084,000 words. The Twilight Series contains approx. 520,000 words. In the time it takes to read these two series of garbage, someone could read the Bible through cover to cover twice. If the overwhelming majority of pre-teen girls can devour those series over and over again, why do we shudder at the thought of devouring the Word of God once? Much less three to four times a year? If you truly believe that the Bible is inspired by God and is beneficial to your spiritual life, then treat it as such. READ. Jump over that mental block. Read so that you become spiritually mature, strengthened and able to handle anything that comes your way.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Conclusion

My intent is not to condemn or guilt you into reading the Bible more. My desire is to challenge you to be studious in your personal pursuit of Christ, to plow into the depths of Him, to find truth for yourself instead of being that little helpless child that believes everyone and everything. I want you to know the tremendous value of Scripture. We have been given the most precious gift in having the ability to study God’s words for ourselves. Don’t surrender that gift to anybody else.

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The Why & How of Personal Bible Study | Part 3

by Naomi

This is four part series. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

My challenge to you: Study the Bible for yourself.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

Turn off Star Scott’s teachings and find out what God really says in His Word. Once you dig in, you will be surprised by the ignorance that is propagated under the guise of “being so well-taught.” For people who claim to be uncompromising in the Word, they have very little respect for it and very little knowledge of it, besides Star Scott’s multiple Bible phrases thrown into his sermon-type rambling. The sad truth is that for a great apostle who “sets doctrine,” he handles the Scriptures like a first-grader. Topical studies pulled straight from the concordance (the concordance is a tool, not a crutch), spiritual jargon, rambling, contextual messes, convenient theology that changes based on who left the church at that particular time, nonsensical strings of phrases that sound like Scripture, but do not originate from Scripture.

It will take work to study the Bible and not be influenced by the things you have been taught since your youth. The continual stream of ‘teaching’ should be called, “brainwashing.” To brainwash is to make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure. Calvary Temple utilizes this method by mocking anyone who disagrees, reinforcing Star Scott’s teaching by having other pastors teach and quote him more than they quote the Bible as if he were the final authority, by threatening dissenters with painful penalties and employing manipulation and church discipline as weapons under the guise of being “for your own good.” Calvary Temple breeds Scriptural ignorance under the guise of “being so well-taught.” This is heart-breaking and maddening and disgusting all at the same time. Ignorance is not bliss. Whether you are a current member or a former member or simple someone who has had contact with Calvary Temple, I urge you to study the Word of God for yourself.

As believers in Christ, it is our sober responsibility and our greatest privilege to be able to study the Word of God personally. Christians throughout the ages have laid down their lives, often burned at the stake, to give us the Bible in our language. Christ Himself laid down His life, suffered the most awful agony on the cross–for the purpose of ripping the veil in the temple–a symbol of His making a way for personal access with God. To willingly give up that access to God and His Word is to denigrate His sacrifice and devalue one of the basic tenets of the faith–the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture.

Calvary Temple thinks you don’t need the Bible… personally. Or they think you don’t need “too much of it.” They like to twist Scriptures like “much learning hath made you mad!” (Acts 26:24) and “knowledge puffs up” (1 Corinthians 8:1) to discourage personal Bible study. Those two verses have nothing to do with personally studying the Word of God to know and understand Him better. Calvary Temple implies that you need to be spoon-fed Bible teaching from Star Scott. They’re dead wrong.

You need God. You need His Word. You don’t need Star Scott.

Stay tuned for Part 4!

 

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The Why & How of Personal Bible Study | Part 2

by Naomi

This is a four part series. Read Part 1 here.

Without personal study of the Word, we are unable to discern between good and evil.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14

Over and over again, our ignorance mocks us. We hear the words of so-called church leadership who tell us to do things absolutely contrary to the Word of God. We believe them. We submit to them. Lives are destroyed because we could not/would not/did not assimilate the Bible into ourselves. You might be wondering what this lack of discernment looks like. Let me elaborate.

One disturbing example is the tendency of Calvary Temple leadership to insert their unBiblical “counsel” into the marriages of their members. They suggest (in reality, demand) that members separate from their dissenting spouse, which is opposite what Scripture teaches. They declare that “spiritual adultery” is grounds for divorce, when in fact, that phrase is never, ever, EVER used in the Bible to talk about the literal marriage covenant between a man and wife. They counsel separation if a spouse is ‘speaking against leadership’ or ‘questioning’ or any attitude that is rebellious towards church leadership. They usurp the authority of the husband by suggesting that the wife confide in some other man about spiritual matters (hello! inappropriate!), especially to tattle on their husband for real or imagined sin. Calvary Temple leadership violates the sanctity of the marriage covenant, by making it about the Husband, the Wife and the Church, rather than a precious covenant between Husband & Wife, at the exclusion of all others. If a spouse expresses the desire to leave Calvary Temple (I will not elaborate on this concept in this article, but let me state: yes, you can leave a church. No, you don’t need the leadership’s permission), the leadership suggests manipulative tactics, running back to one’s parents (completely contrary to Scripture’s teachings on this subject), ignoring one’s spouse while they’re on church discipline, breaking them down and using children as pawns in a life-altering game. Their strategies are absolutely despicable and only more so because they are done under the guise of obeying the Bible.

The Bible is clear on the subjects of marriage and divorce. When a man and wife are married, no one gets in between. They leave their parents (Genesis 2:24) and cling to each other. If a believer and unbeliever are married, they are to stay married unless the unbeliever decides to leave (1 Corinthians 7:12-13). Just because someone leaves the church doesn’t give their spouse any room to divorce them. Even if they leave Calvary Temple and leave the faith completely, there is still no room for a professing believer to divorce them. God hates divorce. He hates it! He detests it! God created marriage as a covenant not to be broken, and most definitely NOT for the stupidest reason ever of leaving Calvary Temple.

In this example, Calvary Temple has taken something that God despises — divorce — and actually called it necessary and held it up as some badge of honor. They have encouraged what God strongly discourages. This flip-flopping of truth is not limited to the idea of marriage and divorce, but rather is a prevalent practice throughout Calvary Temple. Star Scott calls something good evil, and something evil good, and nobody reads the Bible enough to recognize it.

Without personal study of the Word, we are perpetual babies.

Just like our bodies are designed to grow and mature from babyhood to adulthood, God intends for us to grow up spiritually (Ephesians 4:15). No growth = abnormal. Calvary Temple likes to keep people in perpetual babyhood, because babies don’t question. Babies don’t talk. Babies don’t leave. Babies just eat what’s shoved in their mouths and smile.

“like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” 1 Peter 2:2

It is a mark of a true believer that they are hungry for the Word of God. I seriously wonder how any pastor could discourage a new believer from studying the Word for themselves. The Word of God is the catalyst for our spiritual growth. Without the Word, we will starve. Without the Word, we will degrade and waste away. The Word is what leads us to victory.

“I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 1 John 2:14

It is an interesting process. Because you are a newborn baby in Christ, you are hungry. You desire spiritual food. You want the milk of the Word. You eat that Word. It is life and spiritual strength and victory to you. Subsequently, you grow up in God. You are no longer a baby. You are a man or woman of God. You are mature. That is exactly what God designed you to be.

Read Part 3 now!

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The Why & How of Personal Bible Study | Part 1

by Naomi

The conversation was hardly two minutes long. It was a passing comment and yet it burned in my memory from that day forward. I was standing inside the Calvary Temple sanctuary with a Calvary Temple friend. The friend told me of a recent new convert, who had been saved in CT’s prison ministry. This young man* was a voracious reader of the Bible. When he was released from prison and became a member of Calvary Temple, he had many questions. Questions that he took to leadership.

“The leadership told him that he shouldn’t read the Bible so much,” my friend said. “He doesn’t need to, because he gets such good teaching here.”

In the most eloquent way possible, let me communicate my thoughts: SAY WHAAAAAAT?!

The leadership of a church told a new convert that he should not read the Bible. He didn’t need to read the Bible. They discouraged a new believer from the very source of spiritual strength and nourishment that will bring him into maturity. They inferred that a pastor’s teaching is higher, better and more useful than the divinely inspired Holy Scriptures. According to John 1, Christ is the Word. The leadership of Calvary Temple cut off a new Christian from Christ Himself.

Through this seemingly-insignificant comment, I learned that Calvary Temple only professes to love the Word. In reality, they love the teaching of Star Scott. They relish his words over the Word of God. When confronted with Scripture, they quote a Star Scott one-liner and spout one of his Scriptural phrases used out of context. This example of the leadership redirecting a new believer away from Scripture disgusted, alarmed and provoked me.

Without personal study of the Word, we are helpless.

We are at the mercy of every charlatan who can speak in churchy language and holds a concordance. We are like little babies, abandoned on a street corner in the wintertime. Freezing to death, and powerless to stop it. We base our trust in humans–fallible humans–instead of the infallible God. We believe anything and everything said to us by the person that helped us get saved, because (supposedly) they wouldn’t lead us astray.

Without personal study of the Word, we are easily deceived.

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 (underlines added for emphasis)

 

Calvary Temple is skilled at cutting people off from divine truth—the very place that would help them to realize that they are in deception. Is it important for pastors and leaders to preach the Bible? Absolutely. It is also important (and I would venture to say, even more important) for Christians to be able to study the Bible for themselves, lest when they hear incorrect doctrine–they are too stupid to discern it.

Without personal study of the Word, we handle the Bible carelessly.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

Accurate handling of the Scriptures means that you have nothing to be ashamed of. Conversely, if you are unable to handle the Bible accurately, you should be ashamed of yourself! Without diligent personal study of the Word, we are apt to pick up any verse at any time and use it however we feel like using it. This is a dangerous and irresponsible practice.

Without personal study of the Word, we are incapable of conquering sin.

Sinners sin, but saints live holy. As Christians, we are living in the shadow of Christ, walking in the steps of Christ, mimicking actions of Christ. Sin is not the normal practice of our lives, and it is certainly not acceptable. Calvary Temple teaches that you will always have some level of personal sin in your life that is unavoidable and unconquerable. Really? The Bible doesn’t teach that.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” Psalm 119:9-11

When you are unable to overcome personal sin, there will always be some mud for spiritual leadership to sling at you. There will always be something they can say to somehow prove a point; that you couldn’t possibly be right because you have done this sin and that sin and that other sin. Calvary Temple has created the perfect little gilded cage that you will never escape from until you learn the Bible for yourself and allow Christ Himself to free you from that spiritually abusive environment and from the chains of constant personal sin. His Word is enough to do this!

Read Part 2 now!

*I do not know this young man personally and his life is not relevant to this article. I am merely using this conversation that I was privy to as an illustration of the erroneous and spiritually destructive attitude of Calvary Temple towards personal Bible study.

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Holiday Pain

               by Naomi

When you’ve been shunned by family members who go to Calvary Temple, the emotions hit the hardest during the holidays. “There’s no place like home for the holidays” is ringing through every store. Coworkers and friends are asking the eternal question, “what do I buy my parents for Christmas?” People are extolling the virtues of family, talking about parents/sisters/brothers/grandparents and seeing everything through the twinkle-light-romantic-Hallmark-movie euphoria.

Those of us who are related to current Calvary Temple members have varying family situations to deal with. For some, CT parents continue in semi-normal, yet emotionally detached relationships with their former-CT adult children. They will speak to their children, invite them to dinner, give gifts and remain cordial. For others, this cordiality lasted for a short time and now there is not the slightest hint of relationship. For parents whose adult children still go to Calvary Temple, there’s much emptiness in the home on holidays. The phones remain silent, the photo frames of grandchildren are empty, and the loneliness is palpable. For others, they have been estranged from non-CT family for so long (even a lifetime), that when they come out of that church, there is no relationship to speak of. They had CT friends who took the place of family and after they made an escape from the clutches of the controlling church, they are left spinning their wheels. Alone. It can be a terrifying realization that you are alone in the world, and sadly, it is one that often drives people back to Calvary Temple. Still others have left Calvary Temple and all its members behind, and are in the midst of forging new friendships, traditions and a life outside of the CT bubble.

Our personal situation is such that we have been completely shunned. No conversation, no phone calls, no invitations, no contact whatsoever. I have never formally met my in-laws, since before they became my in-laws. Please don’t make jokes about how ‘it must be so nice to not have in-laws.’ It’s not. We are grieved by the state of the non-relationship with my husband’s parents. It is unnecessary and brings shame to the name of Christ. We are saddened and it is especially acute during the holiday season. I imagine that many former Calvary Temple members feel the same. I want to share with you a few things that are helping me to deal with the holiday season.

1. Keep my focus right. I make a conscious effort to remember the true meaning of the holidays. When I’m celebrating Thanksgiving, I spent much time meditating on how much I’ve been blessed and how much I have to be thankful for. I remember not what I have lost, but what I have gained. I possess life and health. I possess good things, daily provisions, an amply comfortable home. I possess truth and righteousness and the accessibility to God’s Word. I possess some family relationship, those who love me and those that I love. I thank God for my husband, and that even through the cultic environment that he was raised in, God’s hand was upon him–upon us–and God created beauty from pain. God gave us a marriage that is amazing in every way. And most importantly, if all else were lost, I would still be grateful for the one very important thing. That I serve a God who will never, ever, ever fail me. He will never leave and never forsake me (Psalm 9:10). When I’m celebrating Christmas, I remember that God the Father had a plan. Even though men messed it up with sin, He sent His only Son for redemption. Redemption is the key. God redeeming me from sin is enough to be grateful for every single day. Even on Christmas.

2. Acknowledge emotions. Emotions are real, emotions are valid and they were created by God. God created you as an emotional being. He created you to be in His image, to feel joy and to feel pain. Are you under the impression that truly spiritual people don’t feel things? That surely the strong ones do not have moments of weakness? Or are not bothered by injustice? Read the psalms. Delve into the torment of the psalmist’s heart. He grieves, he rages, he wonders, he prays, he cries, he mourns, he worships, he hurts, he rejoices. He is silent and he is loud. He is with the congregation, in a corporate setting, but mostly he is alone with God. The psalms are a wonderful window into the prayer life of a man after God’s own heart. The psalmist feels things most acutely. He is not ruled by his emotions, but he takes them to the secret place of the Almighty and beseeches the Most High God to bring resolution. Acknowledge your emotions this season. Acknowledge that there may be days of struggle, days of pain, days of loneliness, days when the wounds of betrayal feel fresh again. There may be days of righteous indignation and days of diving into the forgiveness you have experienced in Christ, so that you can forgive again the ones who have wounded you without cause. You may feel, but that is no excuse to sin. Christ Himself was angry and yet did not sin. Strive to live that way. (Eph 4:26)

3. Appreciate healthy community.  Newsflash: Not every church is like Calvary Temple.  In fact, most aren’t.  A healthy community does not manipulate you into cutting off family members. A healthy community does not think that it is the only church worthy of your attendance or the only church where the presence of God dwells (do you really think the Almighty God is so limited?). A healthy community does not get jealous or offended when you visit relatives in another town/city/state during the holidays. A healthy community does not commandeer ALL of your free time for its super-important (sarcastic) events. A healthy community does not use guilt; they do not manipulate or goad. Period. A healthy community knows that they do not control people’s lives. A healthy community will not fall apart if there is no Wednesday night meeting the day after Christmas. On the flip side, a healthy community consists of people who are there in times of need, are thoughtful, kind, humble, are not selfishly-motivated, who think the best of you, mind their own business instead of minding yours, work out their salvation daily with honest living, and seek God enough privately to know that the Word of God always remains higher than the words of their pastor. Granted, no church or community is perfect. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will be able to extend grace to people instead of running away the first time they offend you. But most churches do not look like Calvary Temple–and thank God for that! Keep your eyes open for spiritually abusive situations; as those who have come out of an abusive environment are more prone to find a similar situation in a different form. But don’t become overly suspicious. And remember, you are not a slave to people. You are a slave to Christ alone. People will not be able to take advantage of you, your time or your resources if you set boundaries. Community is a wonderful part of life.Set your heart to enjoy community in its proper place and in a healthy way.

4. Bear someone else’s burden. And do it quietly. (Matt 6:3) One day, I looked around and realized that everyone else was dealing with or had dealt with some tragedy or heartbreak in their life. It was a revelation to me. I don’t know if I was simply maturing out of the teenage tendency of complete self-involvement, if I had suddenly been gifted with empathy or the Lord was teaching me an important lesson. Many of my dear friends had endured and were enduring the most tragic circumstances possible. Death, divorce, abuse, betrayal, abandonment, financial burdens and the crushing pressures of life. It is important to look beyond our own heartbreak and to look into the heartbreak of others. We are not suffering more; we may be only suffering a little differently. While it is common at Christmastime to be a do-gooder, I challenge you to meet someone’s need without broadcasting it. Do something without breathing a word to anyone else about it. Open your ears to the pain of others. Listen, remember, meet the need. And allow only heaven to be your witness.

5: Create new traditions. Maybe you can’t imagine Christmas without your parents, your siblings or the same house you were raised in. It’s time to change your mindset. The most wonderful Christmas traditions are yet to be discovered. Make new memories. Stop thinking that you’re living your second-best life until so-and-so gets a clue and leaves Calvary Temple. You can only control your own life (not the stupidity of others), so create new traditions to enjoy. No matter what the Christmas movies say, we live in an imperfect world. You will never have the movie-perfect Christmas, so enjoy the one you have!

6. Look forward to the future.  There will be a day with no more tears. There will be a day with no more cults and no more estrangements and no more discord. There will be a day when the only thing that matters is Jesus. Comfort one another with these words.

Friends, I don’t claim to have all the answers. If these words help even one person during this holiday season, I will rejoice. May your hearts be filled with thanksgiving and joy.

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Resource: The Purpose & Limits of Authority by Carter Conlon

We have been extremely blessed over the years by the ministry of David Wilkerson. Through his tireless devotion in starting Teen Challenge and also founding Times Square Church in New York City, authoring countless books that have edified the Church and preaching truth accurately over the course of his lifetime, he has proven himself as a humble man of God. Eventually, Carter Conlon became the senior pastor of Times Square Church and continues in the same spirit of simple, honest and careful Bible preaching.

Have you ever wondered if your church (i.e. Calvary Temple) is misusing or abusing spiritual authority? This sermon may help you to answer that question.

Understanding Spiritual Authority (Part 2): The Purpose & Limits of Authority by Carter Conlon

 

As an aside: This teaching was brought to the attention of Star Scott and his response was, “David’s gotten ‘off’ in recent years.”  We submit that the fruit of David Wilkerson’s teaching and ministry is much more far-reaching and eternal than anything of Calvary Temple or Star Scott. David Wilkerson has been consistently accurate in his prophecies and blameless in his conduct throughout his seventy-nine years of life. We highly doubt that he had gotten “off.” And besides, this message was preached by Carter Conlon so it seems to be a moot point.

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