What happened to the Jim Smyrl we knew?
When he began preaching here in the 90's, he was a young preacher with so much promise. He seemed to pattern his expository style after Jerry Vines.
He left our church, got his PhD, pastored for a few years, then came here to earn the big bucks as Mac's education man. Unfortunately now that he is under the tutelage of Mac Brunson, he is not the same preacher. He has taken a decidedly darker, legalistic tone in his ministry. What a shame.
And now he has gone overboard in his latest blog entry on our church's official blog site.
In Smyrl's November 14th blog entitled "Voting Yourself Out of Fellowship", Smyrl calls Catholic priests "cult leaders", and then has the audacity to voice agreement with the a South Carolina Catholic priest's decision to recommend that congregants who voted for Obama refrain from taking communion to keep their souls from being dammed. He also equates voting for Obama as "sin" of which the Christian needs to repent. Need to read his blog entry carefully, because as I have pointed out before he writes in "spiritualistic" code, where the meaning of his words is not always clear on the first reading.
How on earth does Smyrl defend using our church website to call our Catholic friends "cultish", and Catholic priests "cult leaders"? How does that help us minister to the city of Jacksonville? How does that further our church goal of reaching this city for Jesus Christ? No doubt that Baptists and Catholics have many doctrinal disagreements - but in the classical definition we don't universally consider them to be a "cult" as there are some points of doctrinal agreement, such as the critical view of the Trinity. And no doubt we have points of moral agreement such as the topic of abortion and the sanctity of life.
But I guess if our own pastor sees no problem in berating his own congregation week after week, and declaring that we are a hotbed of legalism where we have no real relationship with Jesus Christ...if our own pastor has such a low spiritual view of his own congregants....then certainly Brunson sees no problem in his #2 man in offending all of our Catholic friends in Jacksonville on our church's blog site. And just for the record: Brunson himself invited a singer in 2007 to perform at our church who is an ordained minister of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) church - which is in many circles considered to meet the definition of a "cult". Several of our church members were very hurt that our pastor invited an SDA minister, as they have family members who have been greatly harmed by the SDA.
Look at this sentence in his closing paragraph:
"...Who alone can cleanse us of all sin. Whether it is the sin of voting in a manner that misrepresents God’s character or the sin of maliciously dividing fellowship with other believers, Christ is the answer for reconciliation. "
So those of you who voted for Obama, don't let Smyrl find out. He will perhaps bring you to the discipline committee and ask you to repent else you'll be considered by Smyrl and Mac to be unworthy of fellowship . And of course if you're like me and "maliciously dividing fellowship with other believers", you too will eventually be expelled from the fellowship.
Read again the title of his blog: "Voting Yourself Out of Fellowship"...this to me is scary stuff. Jim Smyrl and his Theology Driven Ministry concept should be expelled from our church. If you ever doubted what TDM is about, its about teaching a legalistic view of scripture, throwing the Holy Spirit out and replacing Him with Mac's unannointed preaching, and a set of questions to be asked in small groups. And if you don't join in and believe exactly as Smyrl and Brunson, and if you don't bow to their demands in the practice of your faith, if you dare to ask questions or express worry, you're unworthy of fellowship.
Jim and Mac. What a pair we have. When will the men of our church rise up and say NO MORE!
P.S. Please, do not try to compare Smyrl's words here to Vines' words about Muhammad in 2001. Completely different, no comparison. Smyrl's words are not TRUE. Catholic priests are not "cult leaders".