An open letter to John Thiel

                        

Dear John

 

I am writing you this letter as a matter of record, to explain my position as to why I will no longer be attending your church. I want my motives to be crystal clear to you and the people lest any of you may be tempted to surmise that ‘I couldn’t handle truth’ or that ‘I wasn’t prepared to surrender all to Jesus’.

 

I have attended your church for three years. I spend the majority of my working days listening to sermons. I have listened to your entire back catalogue, some sermons multiple times. I learned much and have retained that which is profitable, I thank you for that. Given this fact it would be foolish of anyone including yourself to surmise that I speak from a position of ignorance; I understand your doctrines very well.

I have sent a copy of this email to all members and affiliates of the church.

John I was interested to hear that the French man Victor is to be baptized at camp woody. I am happy for Victor as I am for all who make a profession for Christ. And lest anyone might surmise that I am ‘offended’ this is not the case. This has merely brought forward in my mind elements of your teachings that have troubled me, that I see as non-biblical, how these teachings have affected my three and a half year journey toward baptism, and the futility of my position within your ministry as a heretic (the crime of wishing to think for myself and follow my own conscience regarding scripture).

 

John I have questioned you at length regarding your position on baptism, and you have explained at great length. I have also gone further in attempting to communicate to you personally that which I am now writing. This attempt was answered with a Bible study that dealt with “railing” and “Nit picking”, you even went on to describe how people who have crossed you have met violent deaths at the hands of The Lord. This is your response to questioning.

 

I intend to put forward my case from the bible and more importantly the SOP, more importantly because the SOP has ultimate authority in your ministry because it provides ‘more detail’ than is found in the Bible.

 

The question of worthiness for baptism is not one that seems to be evident in the Bible. You have put forward your views in our personal studies. Your views hinge on three premises. The first is that the candidate must ‘Die to self’ or ‘Surrender all’ before being deemed worthy for baptism, I address this under the headings ‘The doctrine of Dying to self’ and ‘Total Surrender’. The second premise is that a candidate must learn the cultural nuances of the Jews. I address this under the heading ‘Salvation is of The Jews’. The third premise is linked to the second being that your ministry IS or is part of Gods true church. This isn’t openly stated but is so heavily implied that it may as well be. You establish this by claiming to be in complete harmony with (a) The Apostolic Church (b) The pioneers and (c) Ellen G White, I address this under the headings ‘Apostolic succession’, ‘Infallibility of the pioneers’ & ‘Infallibility of EGW’.

 

 

The doctrine of Dying to self

The minds of many are clouded with unbelief because those who unite with the church as the chosen of God do not reveal the virtues that are the fruits of the Spirit. Joining the church is not a sure evidence that a man has joined himself to Christ. The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ, are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self-did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ.

 

 

EGW on EGW. 1876

 

I wish that self should be hid in Jesus. I wish self to be crucified. I do not claim infallibility, or even perfection of Christian character. I am not free from mistakes and errors in my life. Had I followed my Saviour more closely, I should not have to mourn so much my unlikeness to His dear image. 2BIO 444.6

 

John. You believe that you have the spiritual discernment to judge how far along a person is in their Christian experience. You believe that this is a divinely appointed work and that you are in direct cooperation with the Holy Spirit in it. This is despite the fact that you have a poor track record in character judgement, you have brought people into the ministry who have caused and continue to cause problems, people who have outwardly shown righteousness but have left, and you have even allowed a self-proclaimed minister to preach Anti-Christ from your pulpit! 2 John 1:7 I have no faith in your ability to judge character. You link conversion to ‘total surrender’, and total surrender you link not only to Jesus but to your dogmas. This is Papal.

John, you are the teacher, as a candidate I must look to you as an example. If I see in you, fault or discrepancy, in comparison to your teachings, it is not “Nit Picking “as you term it, nor is it “railing”. It is not justifying self by finding fault in others either; it IS weighing you in the balances of your own making. Matthew 7:2.

You preach against emulation yet fast bowl little girls. Is this death to self? You are vain, egotistical and speak of your power over women, causing them to “swoon”. Is this death to self? You are quick to anger if another man threatens your ego. Is this death to self? You use the pulpit to smash people who cross you,or even when they are a brother preaching righteousness by faith! Is this death to self? You display the traits of your race, intolerance, aggression and the desire to dominate others. Is this death to self?

 

It must be said at this point that I do not dislike you; neither do I have an axe to grind against you. This is about your dogma. You have many noble attributes, but you, like everyone, are flawed, and in the context of baptism you are a witness against your own dogmaWhen I pushed you on the matter you admitted in a roundabout way that you believe that you have overcome sin. Yet, when we were camping in the state forest on Sabbath, I made a light hearted jest as you were playing the man, lighting a fire, and you tore my head off. I don’t care about your frailties, God forbid! For if I did I would be a witness against myself. Matthew7:5 .However, don’t you tell me that you have overcome sin. Matthew 5:22, Rev 3:17

 

John, I would like you to meditate on this letter from EGW to a minister.

 

Ellen White  Selected Messages, Vol. 1 page 177

 

"Lead the people to look to Jesus as their only hope and helper; leave the Lord room to work upon the mind, to speak to the soul, and to impress the understanding. It is not essential for you to know and tell others all the whys and wherefores as to what constitutes the new heart, or as to the position they can and must reach so as never to sin. You have no such work to do.

All are not constituted alike. Conversions are not all alike. Jesus impresses the heart, and the sinner is born again to new life. Often souls have been drawn to Christ when there was no violent conviction, no soul rending, no remorseful terrors. They looked upon an uplifted Saviour, they lived. They saw the soul’s need, they saw the Saviour’s sufficiency and His claims, they heard His voice saying, “Follow Me,” and they rose up and followed Him. This conversion was genuine, and the religious life was just as decided as was that of others who suffered all the agony of a violent process.

 

Our ministers must cease to dwell upon their peculiar ideas with the feeling, “You must see this point as I do, or you cannot be saved.” Away with this egotism! The great work to be done in every case is to win souls to Christ. Men must see Jesus on the cross, they must look and live. It is not your ideas they must feed upon, but it is the flesh and blood of the Son of God. He says, “My flesh is meat indeed.” “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

 

The soul that accepts Jesus places himself under the care of the Great Physician, and let men be careful how they come between the patient and the physician who discerns all the needs of the soul. Christ, the Physician of the soul, understands its defects and its maladies, and knows how to heal with the purchase of His own blood.

 

What the soul lacks, He can best supply. But men are so officious, they want to do so much, that they overdo the matter, leaving Christ no room to work.

Whatever moulding and fashioning needs to be wrought in the soul, Christ can best do. The conviction may not be deep, but if the sinner comes to Christ, viewing Him upon the cross, the just dying for the unjust, the sight will break every barrier down. Christ has undertaken the work of saving all who trust in Him for salvation. He sees the wrongs that need to be righted, the evils that need to be repressed. He came to seek and save that which was lost. “Him that cometh to Me,” He says, “I will in no wise cast out.”

 

Through the goodness and mercy of Christ the sinner is to be restored to the divine favor. God in Christ is daily beseeching men to be reconciled to God. With outstretched arms He is ready to receive and welcome not only the sinner but the prodigal. His dying love, manifested on Calvary, is the sinner’s assurance of acceptance, peace, and love. Teach these things in the simplest form, that the sin-darkened soul may see the light shining from the cross of Calvary.

 

Satan is working in many ways, that the very men who ought to preach the message may be occupied with fine-drawn theories which he will cause to appear of such magnitude and importance as to fill the whole mind; and while they think they are making wonderful strides in experience, they are idolizing a few ideas, and their influence is injured, and tells but little on the Lord’s side.

 

Let every minister make earnest efforts to ascertain what is the mind of Christ. Unless your mind becomes better balanced in regard to some things, your course will separate you from the work, and you will not know at what you stumble. You will advance ideas which you might better never have originated.

 

There are those who pick out from the Word of God, and also from the Testimonies, detached paragraphs or sentences that may be interpreted to suit their ideas, and they dwell upon these, and build themselves up in their own positions, when God is not leading them. Here is your danger.

 

You will take passages in the Testimonies that speak of the close of probation, of the shaking among God’s people, and you will talk of a coming out from this people of a purer, holier people that will arise. Now all this pleases the enemy. We should not needlessly take a course that will make differences or create dissension. We should not give the impression that if our particular ideas are not followed, it is because the ministers are lacking in comprehension and in faith, and are walking in darkness.

 

Your mind has been on an unnatural strain for a long time. You have much truth, precious truth, but mingled with suppositions. Your extreme ideas and strong language often destroy the effect of your best efforts. Should many accept the views you advance, and talk and act upon them, we would see one of the greatest fanatical excitements that has ever been witnessed among Seventh-day Adventists. This is what Satan wants.

 

Now there are in the lessons of Christ, subjects in abundance that you can speak upon. And mysteries which neither you nor your hearers can understand or explain might better be left alone. Give the Lord Jesus Christ room Himself to teach; let Him by the influence of His Spirit open to the understanding the wonderful plan of salvation.

 

There is a time of trouble coming to the people of God, but we are not to keep that constantly before the people, and rein them up to have a time of trouble beforehand. There is to be a shaking among God’s people, but this is not the present truth to carry to the churches....

 

The ministers should not feel that they have some wonderful advanced ideas, and unless all receive these, they will be shaken out and a people will arise to go forward and upward to the victory. Some of those who are resisting the very principles of the message God has sent for this time, present just such cases as yourself. They point to your extreme views and teaching as an excuse for their neglect of receiving the Lord’s messages.

 

Satan’s object is accomplished just as surely when men run ahead of Christ and do the work He has never entrusted to their hand, as when they remain in the Laodicean state, Lukewarm, feeling rich and increased with goods, and in need of nothing. The two classes are equally stumbling blocks.

 

Total Surrender

 

The other phrase that you are fond of, alongside ‘dying to self’ is ‘Total Surrender’. You put this forward as some elusive thing that must be attained before baptism. I can find no such biblical prerequisite.

 

I have come to understand your true meaning is ‘Total Surrender’ to your dogmas; you equate this with total surrender to Jesus, as though they were one in the same. The baptismal candidate must surrender to all the minutiae as pontificated by you, he must tithe in cumin anise and mint before he is permitted to come to Jesus. This isn’t protestant, it’s Papal.

 

Among the many things that you have intimated that I must ‘Surrender’ is my non believing children. You are of the view that in order to follow Jesus I must abandon them to the world, You see that church family is more important than the souls that have been entrusted to me by God, that I should favour Church camps and picnics over the spiritual and temporal welfare of my own children. You misuse Matthew 10:37 to establish this, I reject your perversion of this passage.

 

 

"Wherever the people of God are placed, in the crowded cities, in the villages, or among the country byways, there is a home mission field, for which a responsibility is laid upon them by their Lord's commission. They are to take up the duty which lies nearest. First of all is the work in the family; next they should seek to win their neighbour’s to Christ, and to bring before them the great truths for this time."  {PH078 18.1}

 

"Should a Christian Wife Leave an Unbelieving Husband?—Letters have come to me from mothers, relating their trials at home and asking my counsel. One of these cases will serve to represent many. The husband and father is not a believer, and everything is made hard for the mother in the training of her children. The husband is a profane man, vulgar and abusive in his language to her, and he teaches the children to disregard her authority. When she is trying to pray with them, he will come in and make all the noise he can and break out into cursing God and heaping vile epithets upon the Bible. She is so discouraged that life is a burden to her. What good can she do? What benefit is it to her children for her to remain at home? She has felt an earnest desire to do some work in the Lord’s vineyard and has thought that it might be best to leave her family rather than to remain while the husband and father is constantly teaching the children to disrespect and disobey her. In such cases my advice would be, Mothers, whatever trials you may be called to endure through poverty, through wounds and bruises of the soul, from the harsh, overbearing assumption of the husband and father, do not leave your children; do not give them up to the influence of a godless father. Your work is to counteract the work of the father, who is apparently under the control of Satan."

The Adventist Home, Page 348

 

 

Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

 

 

 

In our many discourses I have noted that you put a spin on your own marriage breakdown. You intimate that you were somehow doing Gods will by ending the union. That you were sacrificing all for Jesus in the abandonment of your children. That this is a noble example of piety for others to follow.

 

I consider the spiritual and temporal care of my children to be my first and most sacred duty to God. He has entrusted their precious souls to my care. I shall not abandon them to Satan, the day may come when they abandon me, but until that day I will fulfil my sacred obligation. If I ‘surrendered all’ to your wishes and abandoned my children to attain my own salvation (according to you), what would I then say when I stand before the saviour and he asks “where are your children”?

 

 

Let men remember that they have a Ruler in the heavens, a God who will not be trifled with. He who puts his reason to the stretch in an effort to exalt himself and to delineate God, will find that he might far better have stood as a humble suppliant before God, confessing himself to be only an erring human being.  {6BC 1079.10} 

 

 

You give the real meaning of “total surrender” in your sermon titled Unquestioning Obedience   in which you actually talk as God in the first person!

 

Speaking as God you urge the people to blindly obey you, linking Gods will to John Theil’s will, as though they were one and inseparable. Meaning in the practical application that I must accept your interpretation of the word with all your bias as though it were God himself speaking ,and that this is status quo must be accepted before I’m baptized!

 

Not only is this incredible Hubris but is also the principal teaching of the Jesuit order. Ignatius Loyola’s called the principal “perinde ac cadaver;” meaning “Obedience as a corpse."

 

 

This is also a principal teaching of the Mormon Church

 

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the “prophets, seers, and revelators” of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy…. Lucifer … wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to “do their own thinking.”…

 

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan—it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy

 

Brigham Young

Church of latter day saints

 

 

'It is neither safe nor consistent with salvation to do anything against conscience' (Martin Luther, at the Diet of Worms, 1521).