Open Letter to the Leaders of the New Apostolic Church USA:
Sent: Tue 2/18/2014 4:14 PM
To: ‘Len.Kolb@nac-usa.org’; ‘John.Fendt@nac-usa.org’; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘RHecht1@carolina.rr.com’; ‘email@example.com’; ‘Karl.Orlofski@nac-usa.org’; ‘ThomasRSchmidt@me.com’
I write this open letter as a former member of the New Apostolic Church. I served as a Deacon, a Priest, a Youth Leader for 10 years of my life there. I highly respect many of those that I served with. My rector was a second father figure who always tried to do what was right in his heart. My fellow priests and brothers were family to me. My congregation was also like family to me. Some I’ve maintained contact with, others I haven’t, but I still love them all-even those that have branded me “fallen.” It is because I love them, and I love you, that I write this letter. I’ve made it an open letter, because many of you and other church leaders have not responded to attempts to contact you directly. Emails have been ignored, sincere concerns have gone unanswered, attempts to meet and discuss have been turned down. I’m thankful for the unconditional love of my savior Jesus Christ.
I serve a Savior that loves all human beings, even when they have failed, sinned, or erred. I serve a Savior that wants to save every soul that walks and breathes. I serve a Savior that is holy, righteous, good, gracious, a consuming fire, and the judge of every single work we have done in the end. Please know that I serve Jesus, and I’m not writing this letter to judge, to condemn, or to accuse-rather to present various issues and concerns in regards to truth. I was taught growing up that my church was a bible based church. I was taught to believe various things “blindly” in my opinion. I have read the Bible/The Word of God and by God’s grace have been given clarity, and have sincere concerns. The Bible teaches in James 3:1 that not many of us should become teachers, because a teacher is subject to a greater condemnation before God. I fear my God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I write this letter in God fear and trembling. I know that if I screw up, I am subject to greater condemnation. It is for you, to determine whether I am a false teacher, or if I am telling you the truth. If I am telling you the truth, than it is you that should also fear and tremble. I hope that you will go to great lengths to study what I will present to you and test it using the Word of God/Bible. I hope that you will one day meet to discuss these things openly in peaceful dialogue as well.
There are a number of doctrines that I was taught, that are foreign to and even contradict in some cases the Bible. I will present some of them one by one in this email:
The Bible– I was taught that the bible is outdated, and wasn’t necessarily meant for us today. This goes against the teaching of the Bible, that “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:14-17 Paul indicates that no man is above that which is written “And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” ~ 1 Corinthians 4:6. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” ~ Matthew 22:29 If we as Christians from various backgrounds have any chance at fellowship and true unity, we have to at least be able to agree that the Bible is the unchanging word of God, it is holy, and it is truth. If this can’t be a common conclusion, than Christianity becomes a “create what you want” religion. Growing up in the church I was not encouraged to read the Bible- rather to take the leaders at their word. I was taught that the bible is interpreted differently by different churches, yet the Bible indicates- “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation.” ~ 2 Peter 1:20 It means what it says, and it reads as it reads.
Forgiveness of Sin– It was taught to me that forgiveness of sins came from the Apostle, and that I could only receive forgiveness of sins on a Sunday and a Wednesday where either an Apostle was present, or a priest utters “in the stead of my Apostle your sins are forgiven.” I was taught that sin is just a part of our nature and that we just need to keep getting our sins forgiven. For this reason, I continued in sin through my church life believing it was ok, even as a minister. The bible tells a different story about sin, where as a part of our rebirth, we repent for sin (meaning we make a change, we turn away from our evil ways, a change of mind), then we become baptized with water in the name of Jesus, and then we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The bible indicates that we aren’t to continue in our sin after we’ve been reborn. “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” ~ Hebrews 10:26-27 Rather we walk in the Holy Spirit free from sin! The bible also indicates (when examining the entire text line upon line in its entirety) that the only one that can forgive sins is Jesus. He is the mediator/High Priest of the New Covenant, just as the Levitical High Priest was the mediator of the Old Covenant. We repent to God, and Jesus forgives our sin as our High Priest. Forgiveness was not a matter of a weekly right in the first church- rather forgiveness came at the moment that a sinner truly repented to God and asks Jesus for it. Forgiveness of sin occurred at the Rebirth: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” ~ Acts 2:38 The sinner then continues on their path no longer committing sin. They become reborn. A new creature, a new creation with a new Holy Spirit that does not sin. We then learn to “Walk in the Spirit”, a process of learning how to heed this new Holy Spirit within us. Also to note, there isn’t one single example in the NT where an Apostle declares someone’s sin forgiven. It is a matter between the sinner and God at the rebirth. Here is an article with bible verse detail concerning forgiveness of sins. Who Can Forgive Sins? Under The Law, Under Grace Explained, and Walking in the Flesh or the Spirit.
Baptism– I was baptized and “sealed” with the Holy Spirit as a baby in the NAC. I was raised up by two god-fearing parents who did their best to teach me of Jesus. That being said, I never developed a relationship with Jesus. I feel now the reason was, I had never experienced true rebirth. Rebirth in the bible involves three steps- Step 1- (Baptism in the Name of the Father)- Repentance to God for Sin, Step 2- (Baptism in the name of the Son)- Baptism with water in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins, and Step 3- (Baptism in the name of the Holy Ghost)- Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Peter said: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” ~ Acts 2:38 All of these steps of the rebirth in the bible were performed on conscious people that were capable of making the decision to repent. There isn’t one single case of infant baptism found in the bible or the early church. The practice originated in the Catholic Church (which was a state religion), and babies were baptized into this belief system because it was the state religion. This never happened once in the bible or the first church. In every case, someone had to hear the gospel, repent for sins (disobedience to the law of God), and then they received baptism with water for the remission of their sins, and the Holy Spirit. This is the beginning of the “relationship,” that I feel I missed out on for many years. Without a relationship with Jesus, it was impossible to live a life free from sin. I speak from personal experience. This Catholic practice has robbed countless individuals of the opportunity of a true relationship with Jesus. Having led youth group, I never had an answer why the young people, and myself, were prisoners to sin. I think this is why- deprivation of true rebirth by hearing the gospel, true repentance to God, and baptism with Water and Holy Spirit. I have since experienced true rebirth and can testify that my life truly has changed. Bible details can be found here: Baptism
Baptism with the Holy Spirit– I was taught that the Holy Spirit could only be received by the laying on of hands of an Apostle. The bible teaches otherwise. Not only could the Apostles lay hands, but other spirit filled believers (non-Apostles) could lay hands on someone to receive the Holy Spirit. That is not to mention that God himself saw fit to give the Holy Spirit to people on multiple occasions. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit is not limited to any man- nor can any man claim ownership of it. According to the Bible, it is given by God to those that ask for it and seek it. Bible references can be found here: Holy Spirit Baptism According To The Word
Communion– This was a practice that growing up I was taught would forgive my sins. If I would sin, my minister would tell me that’s ok, you can get communion on Sunday. This teaching is also foreign to the bible. Communion in the NT and early church had nothing to do with forgiveness of sin. Not only that, Communion was forbidden for a non-believer, or someone that didn’t fully believe in Jesus Christ- as unworthy partaking was coined- drinking yourself to damnation by Apostle Paul. See bible detail here: The Body & Blood Of Jesus- Communion
Times Have Changed– I was taught that the reason for the regular changes in doctrinal teaching and practices was that times had changed so we change how we do things. Things seemed to always change with a change in leadership. This contradicts the teaching of the bible- “For I am the Lord, I change not.” ~ Malachi 3:6 And “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” ~ James 1:17 “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” ~ Psalm 89:34 The only true way can be found by Jesus and the first Apostles as evidenced in the Bible. According to the Bible, He does not change. Putting your faith in Jesus and His teachings, doctrines, commands etc, is building your house on the rock. Otherwise you are just blowing in the wind from one doctrine to the next, from one set of rules to the next set of rules, from one idea to the next.
Service for the Departed– I was taught growing up to pray and offer for people that were dead for various reasons, and that those that were dead still had an opportunity for salvation, even rebirth through baptism, and could even receive Communion. Three times a year, they would have a special service where they would invite the spirits of the dead to the church for these practices. This entire practice cannot be found in the Bible. On the contrary, the bible warns against these practices. “Necromancy” is forbidden in the bible, which means the calling up of the dead. It was a grave sin against God’s law. On top of this, there is a ton of biblical testimony that explains that death is not as I was taught: “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.” ~ Ecclesiastes 9:5 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.“~ Ecclesiastes 9:10 “The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.” ~ Psalm 115:17 “Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.” ~ Psalm 146:3 “For Sheol cannot thank you, death cannot praise you; those who go down to the Pit cannot hope for your faithfulness” ~ Isaiah 38:18. Even the early church leaders understood this. Clement was one of the first Bishops (90-100AD) and was trained up by the Apostle Peter himself in Rome. Here is what he had to say: “For after that we have departed out of the world, we can no more make confession there, or repent any more.” ~ 2 Clement 8:3. The Bible teaches that death is a penalty for sin. It teaches that death means death, not immortal life for the soul. Immortal life for the soul only comes on the “last day” when Jesus returns, raises the dead, and translates the living into a new body. “All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.” ~Psalms 22:9 “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” ~ Ezekiel 18:4 Why don’t these biblical texts and others reconcile with NAC doctrines? More bible details on this topic can be found here: Truth About Afterlife
Worship at Holy Altars and in Holy Buildings– I was taught growing up that if I wanted to have an encounter with God, I had to go to church. I was taught that if I wanted God’s blessing on anything, I had to get it in front of the altar. I was taught that the altar was holy, not to touch it, not to touch chalices, not to enter the sacristy etc. This whole practice of worship at “holy” altars and in “holy” buildings is textbook idolatry according to the bible. The purpose of the altar in the bible was to sacrifice animals. The altar was to be made of unhewn stone (uncut), and any altar that was hand crafted by man was “defiled” according to God. Jesus died as the final sacrifice for sin. The altar is now in heaven, along with the tabernacle temple (See Hebrews), and we know from scripture: “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things? Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” ~ Acts 7:48-51 “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” ~ Acts 17:24-25 “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:16. The bible teaches that God is not bound by a building, an altar, or anything man can make. He can be found everywhere, as He created all things. His temple is in us, he walks with us and talks with us. More on this can be found here: Modern Day Idolatry, The Temple, Kingdom, Church, Holy Spirit Within You
Power of the Holy Spirit– I was taught that the demonstrations of power of the Holy Spirit are no longer needed today. This contradicts the saying that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. This contradicts the saying of Jesus himself: “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” ~ Mark 16:17-18 Having come out of the church, I’ve witnessed and participated in the same miracles that the bible teaches happened with the first church. I’ve seen broken bones healed, sprains, back pain, cancer, headaches, bad knees, HIV, you name it- instantly healed in Jesus’ name by spirit filled believers bringing the gospel to unbelievers and believers alike. I’ve even had my own badly sprained ankle healed instantly by two young Christian teenagers. I’ve laid hands on others (strangers, family, friends, the afflicted on the streets) while bringing the gospel for instant healing in Jesus’ name. I have spoken in tongues and been among other believers that speak in tongues, prophecy, and walk in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit is active, and many are coming to Jesus through the gospel not only in word, but in power, just as the testimony of the book of Acts. These gifts are available for every believer that walks in the Holy Spirit. No man or organization can contain the Holy Spirit or its activity. It is beyond us, a work of God.
Friendship with the World– In attending the NAC, as Jesus began to call me to truth, I realized more and more how I was surrounded by NAC Christians that looked no different than the world (myself included). We looked like the world, talked like the world, enjoyed the things the world enjoys, watched what the world watches, dressed like the world dressed, got drunk with the world, engaged in sexual immorality like the world, read the same filthy books as the world, enjoyed the same filthy movies as the world, listened to the same music, coveted riches and luxury like the world, worshipped the sports and entertainment in the world etc. I was a part of this. Ministers even would talk about things of the world that they loved from the pulpit (myself included). I was surrounded by this. Looking back, I wish I had received truth at a younger age. Instead, my sins led me down a road of hurt, pain, torment, difficulty, stress, you name it. Where is the gospel of repentance? Where is the truth, that if we engage in these things- we WILL NOT see the kingdom of God? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” ~ 1 John 2:15
Sin & Law– I was always taught that sin meant “to miss the mark.” In hindsight, that doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you know what the mark is. I grew up learning a very loose doctrine of what sin is. The Bible is clear on what sin means: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” ~ 1 John 3:4 “I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” ~ Romans 7:7 Sin according to the Bible means to disobey the law of God. Sin is the whole reason Christ had to die for us. That being said, growing up- with the exception of the 10 commandments, I never learned the law of God. It wasn’t taught. It is difficult to repent for sin, when you don’t even know what exactly sin is. I perished for my lack of knowledge. Bible references can be found here: Sin & Law
There are many other deeper topics concerning sin, the law, the New Covenant, the Commandments, Holidays, Sabbaths etc, but I figure this is a healthy start. The Word of God has never changed, and every letter of it is true. Above are sincere concerns about the teaching of the NAC. I know that many of these things have been passed down from generation to generation over the past 150 years or so. Will the church ever open up a dialogue or joint study on these things? Will the church ever exhaustively vet their doctrines using the Word of God? I can say today that many doctrines, not just in the NAC, but of many other denominations have been passed down from generation to generation also without being vetted or checked against the unchanging Word of God. I’ve fellowshipped with Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, Church of Christ, the list goes on, and between all of these and other denominations there are so many various doctrines (more than I can count) that are unfounded in the bible. They were man-made, and they divide Christians and deprive them of unity with other believers. I can also testify to you that there is a growing number of people (and many that I know personally) from all of these denominations that are leaving their churches as they read the Bible and cannot reconcile the Bible with what they’ve been taught. They tremble in God fear at His Word and don’t want to partake in practices that either aren’t found in the bible, or contradict it. The Word of God is like a two-edged sword and is powerful. I have met many of you face to face, and I feel that you have good intentions. I ask that you please consider these things. I ask that you consider meeting to discuss these and other issues for the benefit of the people of God. Many remain slaves to sin and it doesn’t have to be this way. Many are imprisoned by man-made doctrines. I know that you have not created these doctrines and many of these doctrines were passed down from Catholicism, but you certainly are in a position to seek truth in the Word for the saving of those that you have influence over. Please understand that I in no way judge you and I hope that you also will not judge me, but rather judge these things that I am saying using the Word of God and the Holy Spirit for discernment. The kingdom of God is truly at hand, and I pray that you will take these things seriously. I do hope to get some kind of response- I can count on one hand those leaders that have shown unconditional love, and have communicated with me over these and other concerns. You men sit in a seat of authority over others, and I pray that you will prayerfully consider these and other things in all God fear and trembling as I present them in that mind.
Again, I do hope for some kind of response, and hope all is well with you and your families.
With Love- Your brother in Christ,