Vol. 1 - No. 2
PRAYER PARTNER FALLACY
by Jack L. Holt
The church of Christ is made up of people who have been called out of the world by the Gospel, and who are God's very own possession. From the time the church was established until now, the keeping of God's people separated from the world and its ideals has been a constant battle. The devil is in the eye-blinding and mind bending business. What he cannot destroy, he will corrupt. He is always on the job. (1 Peter 5:8)
In the first century the church faced many isms, Judaism, gnosticism, materialism and partyism. To meet these and other errors God revealed His truth through inspired men to His church. That body of truth is complete and final. The truth that guided the church as it faced errors and problems then is to guide the church today. The church must believe and follow that truth.
In recent years a liberal attitude toward God's perfect pattern of truth has spawned another ism that has divided the church. This popular ism is liberalism. Liberalism left the pattern and promoted institutionalism, and in so doing opened a Pandora's box of grief and problems for the liberal churches. One departure always leads to another for digression and departure never stand still. Sinking further into the depths of departure is one of God's present judgments upon those who leave His perfect pattern. Now, among the liberals a cultic movement called the "Crossroads Movement," is giving some of the liberal churches and preachers no end of trouble. This is one of the fruits of their no-patternism philosophy.
The Crossroads Movement was born in Gainesville, Florida. The father of the movement is said to be Chuck Lucas. But a look at the movement will show that it is a mongrel with many fathers. This movement, like many cultic movements, consists of a blending of teachings picked up here and there and then woven into the cultic philosophy that makes up the Crossroads creed. This movement began within the liberal churches, and to give it the bona fide orthodoxy the claim is made, "we follow the pattern." And to further give the movement the appearance of orthodoxy the movement has been blessed and praised by well known preachers.
However, the Lord tells us the true test of any movement. "A tree is known by its fruits." (Matthew 7:20) This statement is made in the context of Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets ", and refers to the teachings of men. (vs. 16) When men are properly taught, they will not embrace some human movement, but they will prove themselves to be good fruit by "doing the will of God."1(Matthew 7:21)
In all cult movements there are three basic features: (1) a low view of Jesus, (2) a low view of Scripture, or (3) both. In the Crossroads Movement you have a low view of the Scriptures for men have imposed their system on the Word of God. In the hierarchal structure at Crossroads, Chuck Lucas sits on the throne. After him come the campus ministers, then the soul talk leaders. The elders of a local church do not really fit into this structure. The elders instead of overseeing the flock are merely to stand off to one side, nod approval when the structure moves, and then tell the treasurer to pay for it. The movement works within churches to capture the church for the Crossroads hierarchy. When the movement has the power, all who will not go along with the movement soon find themselves on the outside looking in.
Among the cultic practices of the Crossroads Movement is the assigning of prayer partners. In the prayer partner setup the upper echelon assigns a "father confessor," to each new recruit. This father confessor is regarded as superior, and to that confessor 'the new convert is to confess every sin no matter how personal or private it may be.2 (Even to the "sin" of honoring father and mother above the cult, or the "sin" of taking time from the cult for one's family). The confessions that are made become the common property of the cult leaders and may be used to whip the recruits into line. One wise man observed: "If you want to become the slave of another, tell him your innermost secrets."
In this prayer partner business the Crossroads hierarchy doesn't have anything new. The Roman church has been a master in the slavery of the confessional for centuries. Lucas and others have merely picked it up and adapted it for their own purposes. The superior prayer partner puts the new recruit under the impression that if he/she doesn't tell all to the father confessor, there is no real trust, but evidence of spiritual pride. They convince the inferior prayer partner that this lack of trust will retard spiritual development and hinder progress up the spiritual ladder to the higher echelons of the cult structure.
Of course, the superior prayer partner doesn't have any spiritual pride! He just acts from humility when he sits on the throne of gnostic holiness and considers himself far above the sins of lesser mortals and hears their confessions! What brazen arrogance! I wonder if this superior one ever "considers himself, lest he be tempted?" Or "takes heed lest he fall." (See Galatians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 10:12) This business of confessing one's sins to a prayer partner is a degrading and corrupting process to both alike.
Some years ago (my copy has no date) a Roman priest, Chiniquy, wrote a book, "The Priest the Woman and the Confessional." He wrote, "Perhaps the world has never seen a more terrible, desperate, solemn struggle than the one going on in the soul of the poor trembling young woman who at the feet of that man (priest or prayer partner, JLH), has to decide whether or not she will open her lips on those things which God and her womanly honor and self respect, tell her never to reveal to any man." (pp 7-8) He further writes, "My infallible church (now the hierarchy at Crossroads, JLH), was mercilessly forcing me to oblige these poor trembling, weeping and desolate girls and women to swim with me and all her priests (prayer partners, JLH) in those waters of Sodom and Gomorrah under the pretext that their self will would be broken down (see the cultic personality destruction? JLH), their fear of sin and humility increased (guilt feelings abound, JLH) and that they would be purified by our absolutions," (or rise higher in the Crossroads structure, JLH). (p. 9)
The foregoing quotes show the thought control and slavery involved in the degrading practice of making fallible creatures pour into the ears of some father confessor the secrets of their hearts. The Roman church knew how to make slaves through the confessional box centuries before Lucas blended it into his new movement.
In an effort to justify this prayer partner business there is an appeal to James 5:16. James says, "confess your faults one to another, pray one for another:" Now to whom does the superior prayer partner confess? Who is the ultimate father confessor in this prayer partner chain? Who has the power to select and appoint a father confessor for any Christian? Since James said, "Pray one for another," when does the inferior pray for the superior? This perfidious prayer partner practice has broken up homes and families. Chiniquy asks, "What would you do to anyone mean enough to peep or listen, through the keyhole of your door, in order to hear or see anything that was done therein? But what is the confessional, if not the keyhole of your house and of your very chamber, through which the priest (superior prayer partner, JLH), can see your most secret words and actions, nay more, know your most intimate thoughts and aspirations." (p. 83).
When the prayer partner pries into the private matters of the new recruit and learns that he/she has an attachment to the family, mother and father; or husband or wife that may interfere with the new converts complete commitment to the cult he then proceeds to tear apart the family relationship by convincing the recruit that the cult comes first.
The Scriptures teach us to confess our sins, but to whom are we to confess them? Since all sin is against God we confess our sins to Him. David said, "Against thee only have I sinned." (Psalms 51:4) In Psalms 31:5 he said, "I have confessed my sins unto the Lord and He forgave me." Next, we are to confess our sins to the one(s) we have sinned against. (Matthew 28:15; James 5:16) Then there is an obligation to confess our sins to those whom we may have caused to stumble. But God never commands us to confess our sins to some father confessor in a prayer partner relationship. What a blasphemy it is for a self appointed father confessor to hear confessions and then leave the confessor with the impression that cleansing can come, not just by forgiveness from God, but through more dedication to the cult. Shades of the Roman church, "do penance!"
There is no reference in James 5:16 to a confession that is to be made to a church, to the elders, nor to a prayer partner. The prayer partner practice of the Crossroads church is simply an adaptation of the Roman church confessional. This cult needs to be exposed for what it is, and the people of God should never surrender the freedom they have in Christ for any human system in or out of the church.
(1) See "Commentary on Matthew & Mark," by J. W. McGarvey.
(2) See "contending for the Faith," for Nov. 1980 and July 1981.