Mike Cope Highland Church and Bible Study Fellowship
Mike Cope, preacher for Highland Church Of Christ and Bible Study Fellowship: Mike Cope as a key man of the Nashville Jubilee with Rubel Shelly, unwittingly used Robert Frost's Mending Walls as a "code word" for Navigating the Winds of Change. Unfortunately, the only allegorical connection to the Bible is to the "dogs" which surrounded Jesus trying to induce the songs and dance of Dionysus -- the effeminate worship which afflicted Jerusalem and its priesthood dismissed by Jesus.
Abdicating the role of "Watchman on the Wall," Mike Cope wants to kick down all of the walls. He pities those of the pre-breaking down the walls dispensation by noting that:
Of course, this is all very disorienting. With walls we feel safe and secure, protected from the heretics and barbarians storming the gates.
Isn't feeling safe and secure the meaning of "salvation?" Didn't Jesus come to bring peace "beside still waters?" Didn't He come to remove the burden of the priests who refused, like all priests were required to do, to have a secular means of support? What was that burden? That which the Jewish clergy "laded" on the backs of people used like pack animals was "spiritual anxiety created by religious ceremonial." Those who come to bring "dis - ease" have no authority from Lord Jesus Christ.
Then Mike Cope ridicules and attempts to "wilt" those who are dedicated to mending the walls kicked down by dogs chasing bunnies:
But the efforts of a few to stick their fingers in the cracks in the walls to hold them together are futile.
True Christianity has always been the "little boy" putting his fingers into the cracks in the walls created by the "overflowing waters" trying to wash "the mother and her child" off the face of the earth. And it will ever be. The BIG MEN singing and dancing on the broken walls are big in their own sights but the "little boys" stopping leaks will win when the celebration is over.
Me? I have no trouble being one of the "little boys" --
"who will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. Is.58:12
All too often men who become professional preachers have no loyalty to the flock over which they have hired into. This leads to the promotion of other people's ministeries while breaking down the walls to their own. Or in the words of Rubel Shelly and Randy Harris in The Second Incarnation, following the Aztec "paradigm" of burning down the old structures during their 52 year and 52 week "jubilee." Unfortunately, the allegory is that up to 20,000 prisoners had their heart cut out after one Key Man had a year of liberty just playing his harp and enjoying the girls.
Too many now realize through relationships built at
Bible Study Fellowship,
Walk to Emmaus, (This is the Catholic Cursillo Movement brought to Highland Church of Christ)
Promise Keeprs, (This is the new age phallic movement of bonding buddies aspiring to be a world-wide movement -- but it won't work very long.)
or any number of other ministries,
that not all Christ-followers understand all matters of doctrine the way we do.
Well, those who live inside the "walls" of the spiritual temple -- the body of Christ -- did not have to meet with denominational organizations to understand that not everyone understand all matters of doctrine the way we do. That is why Baptists have chosen their walls and why they would not -- for a microsecond -- tolerate a pulpit 'minister' who was not loyal to the job description under which he receives a salary to put the kids through college.
Anyone who could allow themselves to be one of the 40,000 who had their "walls" broken down by a football paradigm of PK cannot be a Word-Warrior along with men like Paul. In fact, this was quite identical to the mass-rallies of Dionysus or Bacchus worship held in Jerusalem. They tried to break down the sexual walls of Jesus but He did not allow Himself to be 'enthused.'
All of these groups are denominational or mind-control in their organization and methods. Therefore, to promote them while at the same time trying to break down the walls to allow the "sheep" of his own flock out to join the goats is disloyalty to the people who pay him and to the Lord who commissioned him only to go preach.
We could not help but notice that on the "Ministers" list of Highland Church of Christ:
- A lady is "Minister of Congregational Care." and
- A lady is "Minister of Adult Faith Formation" who "equips the teachers of our adult classes." In other words, the teachers are "eldered" by a lady.
- A lady is Children's Minister. "Leads the Ministry Team." That excludes all males or violates Paul's explicit command.
It seems that all of the "maleness-formation" has been abdicted. This was exactly the motive for not putting young Jewish males under the leadership of women.
A CLOSER LOOK AT BIBLE STUDY FELLOWSHIP
"BSF International, formerly known as Bible Study Fellowship is "an interdenominational, not-for-profit, international, lay Christian organization [which] aims to acquaint people with the truth of the Bible through classes using personal study, discussion group participation, lecture, printed notes."
1 It sounds so good, but after participating in BSF for 4 years from Sept., 1991 - April, 1995, I recognized deviation from Scripture resulting in serious errors in BSF's
1) organizational structure,
2) method of presenting the Bible study material, and
3) content of the Bible study material itself. Although BSF presents itself as a Biblically sound organization in both teaching and practice, the negative elements exposed in this article contaminate BSF and demonstrate that it simply is not faithful to the Word of God.
The curriculum consists of 7 studies: Genesis, Matthew, Life of Moses, Romans, John, History of Israel and the Minor Prophets, and The Acts of the Apostles. Each study is taught over an entire year. This article will focus only on the Life of Moses study and on a portion of the study on Matthew. HISTORY OF BSF
BSF was founded by A. Wetherell Johnson, a former missionary with China Inland Mission. When forced to leave China, she came to the United States and lectured for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. After settling in San Bernardino, California, she agreed to teach the Bible to five women in 1952, yet refused to "spoon-feed" the students but wrote questions designed to make them study the Bible for themselves. As the program grew, it moved to a church that could accommodate a separate program for the participants' children which was held at the same time as the adult study.
In 1958 Miss Johnson accepted an invitation to go to the San Francisco Bay area to conduct Bible classes for converts following a Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade.
She then formed a Board of Directors and incorporated BSF. Prior to her retirement in 1979, Miss Johnson's successor, Rosemary Jensen, was chosen to be the new Executive Director, a position which she currently retains.
2 BSF has grown dramatically over the years and is now comprised of 913 separate Bible Study groups worldwide although the majority (about 850) are in the United States. Each group ranges in size from around 100 to 600 participants, and may be designated for women, or for men, or for mixed male/female young adults (ages 18-35), their pre-school children, and their grade school children depending on the location and time of day that the group meets.
Thirty (30) paid staff work at the San Antonio, TX, campus and complex of buildings which comprise the international headquarters. Additionally, approximately 1,000 volunteers travel to the complex each year to donate their time working for BSF.3
The internal structure of BSF is as follows: The participants at any one location are divided into small groups which are led by Small Group Discussion Leaders.
These Leaders are accountable to the Teaching Leader of that location.
Teaching Leaders report to the Area Coordinators of that region.
Area Coordinators ultimately report to the Board of Directors in San Antonio.
Scripture clearly teaches that women are not to usurp authority over the man (I Tim. 2:12), yet BSF's organizational structure demonstrates this very usurpation of authority. Each Bible Study group, whether a men's group or a women's group is accountable to Area Coordinators for that region which are often women. Some men's groups do report to female Area Coordinators. Even if a particular men's group has a male Area Coordinator,
all men's groups ultimately report to the female Executive Director, Rosemary Jensen. Moreover, the Board of Directors is comprised of 8 men and 2 women.4 If Mrs. Jensen has authority over the Board, it would be a breach of Scripture.
Another indication of women having authority over men is in the writing of the Bible Studies themselves. Miss Johnson wrote all of the original Bible studies herself. She writes in her autobiography, Created for Commitment,
BSF's structure promotes Shepherding/Discipleship practices. BSF encourages its leadership to share personal intimacies with the next higher level in the hierarchy.
Small Group Discussion Leaders are supposed to call each member of their group once a week, encouraging them to share what is going on in their personal lives.
These Discussion Leaders may then reveal their own matters of the heart to the Teaching Leaders as well as any confidences they choose from those in their groups.
The Teaching Leaders may then tell those confidences to the Area Coordinators, etc. In this way, the allegiance of BSF participants shifts from the God-ordained marriage-family structure to BSF itself.
This hierarchical structure of accountability to the next tier of authority is common to cults and cultish organizations. It bypasses the local church in a manner not unlike Promise Keepers which is simply not scriptural.
Another questionable Shepherding/Discipleship practice of BSF is its adherence to a vast quantity of complex rules which are designed to promote orderliness within the organization, but which actually promote legalism.
I sensed that any resistance to rules by participants results in their being labeled as rebellious or not in submission to their higher authority in the hierarchy, even when the rule contradicts Scripture. For example, at one location where I was a participant, I gently admonished a woman because of something that she had shared in small group, not to allow a certain object to remain in her house based upon Deut. 7:26. Although the Bible says that she should have come directly to me if she were offended,
she complained to our Discussion Leader,
who in turn informed the Teaching Leader.
Certainly the sharing of participants' confidences behind their backs without permission among the leadership is not biblical.
The result of this episode was that I was censured:
I was no longer allowed to speak with anyone about what they shared in small group.
Furthermore, as a result of questioning BSF teaching, I have met with opposition from the BSF establishment. In my case, I brought my Teaching Leader some information about The Message, a modern Bible version which adds to, deletes from and distorts the Word of God. She was offended, probably because she had read from The Message to the group,
and even went so far as to say that I was under the influence of Satan
and operating in that Bible Study as his agent!
Because of the above error,
BSF exhibits the cultish characteristic of maintaining strict control over the flow of information within its organization.
Nobody is allowed to speak about or discuss specific denominations. Nobody is allowed to ask other questions than those which are presented by BSF for discussion in the small groups.
In fact, nobody is even allowed to bring up Scripture to clarify a point other than those Scriptures provided in the questions. (The exception to the above is "Challenge" questions where participants are allowed to bring in other Scriptures, but there are very few of these challenge questions, usually no more than one per week.)
But most importantly, BSF will not allow their lesson materials to be given to anyone for scrutiny or examination unless they are a class participant. "BSF notes are provided for the personal use of class members during their active participation and must not be loaned or given to nonmembers."
[This writer was made painfully aware of this 25 years ago when it was unlawful for husband to read what wife was reading.
The ladies found that they could write quite good lesson material and did not have to be in the cult]
Such secrecy is a common element of shepherding/discipleship groups and secret societies. However, II Tim. 2:9 states, "... but the word of God is not bound."
The method that BSF uses to present its material is also problematic. Participants arrive at the group location, usually a host church,
and gather in the sanctuary for a 10 minute opening devotion.
Then they assemble into pre-assigned small groups of about 10-15 people which are facilitated by the Discussion Leader.
For about 38 minutes, participants go over questions that they answered during the previous week on specific Scripture passages.
Finally, after the small group session, students gather again in the sanctuary for a 45 minute lecture by the Teaching Leader who teaches about the Bible passages which were studied for that week. Upon leaving for the day, participants pick up a copy of the notes/questions. Written notes further expound the just-completed lesson and questions are for participants to answer during the coming week about new Bible passages.
The dialectic process (thesis + antithesis = synthesis) is at work here. The formula for the dialectic is "a diverse group of people dialoging to consensus over social issues in a facilitated meeting." This method will brainwash participants to abdicate strict adherence to Scripture for the sake of their relationship to the group. In other words, Thesis (What the Bible says) + Antithesis (What BSF says) = Synthesis (Allegiance to BSF's interpretation of the Bible).
For example, BSF strongly taught that class members should never question their leadership citing the Korah rebellion (Numbers 16) and Miriam and Aaron who spoke against Moses (Numbers 12).
My Discussion Leader put forth, "Be positive or be quiet" as a model for godly behavior within our BSF group.
That unbiblical statement set the stage for future lectures where heavy emphasis was placed on strict allegiance to Christian leadership.
While reading through BSF materials in preparation for writing this article, I experienced the incongruous sensation of simultaneous blessing and alarm. Many parts of the content are very good, but others are a source of serious concern. For example, the Life of Moses notes promote a blatant liberal approach to the study of Scripture claiming that it "will guard us against a false spiritualizing of the text."25
...the Bible bears the marks of the human authors so that, for example, Moses does not write like Paul or Paul like David. And it means that the way into the mind of God, who is the ultimate author, is through the mind of the human writer. That is, we must seek to understand the books of the Bible as we would seek to understand any other books.
This means that we need to pay attention to the context out of which the human author is writing, including what may be known from secular sources. So, for example, what we can know about Egypt and its religious practices will throw light on the Exodus. Other law codes of the ancient world will throw light on the Ten Commandments."26
One of the most grievous indications of error in BSF is the integration of psychology and psychological techniques into its course of study.
Approximately 25% of all the questions in The Life of Moses study that participants are expected to answer are of a personal nature.
According to Rosemary Jensen, "The questions have been written to encourage people to apply to their lives that which they are learning rather than to become full of knowledge only."
ADDING TO SCRIPTURE
God tells us, Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. (Deut. 4:2) and Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Prov. 30:6) However, BSF has gone beyond what is written in their description of the crucifixion of Christ in their study of Matthew.
Mike Cope at Jubilee 98 Lifting Holy Hands what we predicted came true!
For material on Female Control of the Church -- Didn't E. R. Harper fight that battle a long time ago?