The Slandering of Mark Cahill
By: B. Nickel
Reader, beware. There’s a trick being played on you by Tony Miano and Matt Slick in their invective against Mark Cahill. You know the drill. People with an “axe to grind” crossing the line and in the process of defending their position, reveal how weak it is by the tactics they employ. In desperation, these men have reacted to non-existent provocation. They beat the drums as if the enemy is in the camp when, in reality, no one is pursuing them at all. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Proverbs 28:1).
Fighting an enemy, even an alleged enemy, always unifies a group. Vigilantes marshal the troops, corral their own, and brand the slightest hint of dissent in the most extreme terms to keep their camp in line and following them. As they take aim at their intended target, they paint themselves as the victims-turned-heroes, which interestingly seems to be the case in this trumped-up diatribe against Mark Cahill.
Gatekeepers become quite creative when shielding themselves from the light of truth. They cry “foul,” obscure the obvious, use leading statements, hurl insults, make grand insinuations, and stoke skewed information with enough fuel to railroad anyone’s perceptions toward their own inescapable conclusions. This appears to be the strategy being used in the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry tirade against Mark Cahill.1
In this case, Tony Miano and Matt Slick have pulled out all the stops to polarize the evangelical community away from Mark Cahill and toward both themselves and the doctrines of Calvinism, even while declaring they are doing nothing of the sort. Tony Miano defends his own “goodness” and “concern for Mark Cahill’s soul” as he rips him to shreds not only in the public eye, but in full view of God. Have you noticed that Mark Cahill has not retaliated? Miano, and those who have believed his polemic, have sought to denigrate this extraordinary evangelist who is held in the very highest esteem. It’s been said that the threat one poses is measured by the attack mounted against him. In this light, it appears that Tony Miano and Matt Slick feel very threatened indeed.
Proverbs 18:17 “He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him.”
People Don’t Forget Mark Cahill
One wonders why this attack has been mounted against Mark Cahill when he is known for his strong stand for truth and love for the lost. The deeper question is what or who is motivating this attack against truth? Is it really because a few people have misunderstood Mark Cahill’s intentions, or could there be more?
Mark Cahill is recognized for his impeccable character and sterling reputation as a sold-out evangelist for Christ. He is widely recognized for his quick-paced, forward-leaning, direct and incisive approach to truth that is balanced with a genuine heart of care and a touch of humor. Mark Cahill is also a highly sought-after speaker noted for freely blessing others and giving away all that he has to the Lord. The veracity of Mark Cahill’s teachings is backed up by his fully given-over life and fearless stand for truth that makes a serious impact on those who have the privilege of hearing him speak.
First-time listeners are blown away by the power of Mark Cahill’s convictions, his love for God, his love for truth, and his riveting real-life stories. Audiences marvel at the obvious hand of God that moves through this man’s life, even while realizing this same kind of sold-out Christian life can be theirs as well. People are stirred by Mark Cahill’s encouraging nudge to step out of their comfort zones and into the most blessed walk of faith they could ever hope to have. And Mark Cahill’s delivery never disappoints. Everyone who hears him speak knows that this high calling of Christ is within their reach if they will boldly step up and share their faith. It is not an overstatement to say that Mark Cahill makes a lasting impression on all in his listening audience.
John Petrilli says of Mark’s presentations:
“Powerful, practical and persuasive. Biblical, bold and believable . . . Mark is in a class all his own.”2
Dan Burrell was astonished with Mark Cahill’s style saying:
“No show, no rushing, no pretense, no pressure — just engaging people in conversation and helping them learn God’s plan of salvation . . . It was casual, contagious and Christianity at its core.”3
In short, there is no one in the evangelical world that even comes close to the caliber of Mark Cahill’s stature, nor to the example he sets when it comes to evangelism and concern for the lost. Even other well-known evangelists have said that Mark Cahill makes them feel “lukewarm” when it comes to giving the gospel.4
It is more than obvious that God has raised up Mark Cahill in these last days to wake the church to her great commission of reaching all people with the gospel of Christ. In our day, when the church is in sore need of true leaders, Mark Cahill stands out as a shining example of living single-mindedly for the things of Christ. Young and old alike, who love the Lord Jesus Christ, will recognize the powerful and inspirational messages and deeds that God is working through Mark Cahill and his ministry.
In view of such an obviously blessed life and ministry, one has to wonder why misleading charges have been leveled against Mark Cahill by Tony Miano and Matt Slick in their online screed. But we know that attacks are greatest where the work of God is most effective and where people fear losing the most ground, which in this case is to the truth.
Anyone not beholden to Calvinism clearly sees that these men, who are both five-point Calvinists,5,6 are defending Calvinism’s “Doctrines of Grace” (TULIP) at all costs. They simply cannot suffer anyone that takes issue with these. To protect their views, they falsely accuse Mark Cahill of violating the essentials of unity when, in reality, it is they who have compromised them.
Taking full advantage of this excuse, Matt Slick exposes his real motives behind this campaign when he said on Tony Miano’s Cross-Encounters Radio program, “I want this guy. And I want to take him to the carpet,”7 along with, I might add, coarse jesting not suitable for mixed company.8 Interesting behavior from a leader who admits he had never heard of Mark Cahill until Tony Miano came along.9 Whatever Tony Miano told him was enough for Matt Slick to throw down for the take down. Slick wants to slug it out in debate10 over Calvinism when Calvinism is supposedly not the issue.
Tony Miano also lifts the veil when he complains that Mark Cahill won’t fellowship with him over what he admits are “mutually exclusive” beliefs.11 So let me get this straight. Tony Miano can say that Calvinism is “mutually exclusive” but Mark Cahill can’t? Correct me if I’m wrong, but is he saying that the rules apply to others but not to him?
After excoriating Mark Cahill in the public forum, Tony Miano insists that Mark Cahill reconcile with him over these “mutually exclusive” beliefs. One wonders why Tony Miano wants to fellowship with someone who holds “mutually exclusive” beliefs anyway. Sounds like a double standard and indeed it is.
These allegations ring hollow when one considers that Tony Miano demands that Mark Cahill come to the table and reconcile with him under pastoral oversight when Tony was unwilling to do this very thing himself. Apparently in the spring of 2012, Tony Miano publicly accused Chad Johnson of following heretics, and within hours Chad was defriended by scores of people on Facebook. Tony’s warnings to stay away from him resulted in Chad being shunned, which also happens to be what Tony Miano has called for the evangelical community to do to Mark Cahill under the pretense of boycotting him “for his good.”
When Chad’s pastors suggested that Chad approach Tony Miano to meet with them and resolve this issue, Tony excused himself from the process claiming Chad hadn’t sinned against him and he didn’t belong to Chad’s church. He apparently missed that Chad was the injured party who was trying to resolve this division between them. Now Tony is castigating Mark Cahill for what he wouldn’t do himself? How is this not a clear case of hypocrisy and watchdog legalism run amok?
Romans 2:1 “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”
Luke 6:41, 42 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Here is the story that Chad Johnson has to tell:
“Just to give some background, I have been involved with street evangelism since 2008. I started to learn how to witness from Ray Comfort and Mark Cahill. At that time, I was not aware of Calvinism or any other “ism” within the body. I became very involved in both Mark Cahill’s and also Living Waters’ ministries. In July of 2011, I attended Ambassadors’ Academy 20, which was a four-day, intensive street evangelism training course that Living Waters used to do. At the time, Tony Miano was the head of Ambassadors’ Academy. Tony recognized and welcomed me to the Academy without an introduction. I considered him a mentor to me from that time forward.
Fast forward to spring 2012. I was aware that there were some street preachers that Tony and his followers did not like and whom Tony even went so far as to call “heretics.” I often questioned Tony and others as to why they considered these street preachers heretics. I never got an answer other than, “they just are” or “they are into some weird stuff.” At that time I was beginning to gain a clear understanding of Calvinism and its teachings, so I was seeing why there was such strong division in the street preaching community. At this point, Mark Cahill had severed all ties to Living Waters and had called them out on their Calvinism.
So, here is where the fun starts. Sometime in the spring of 2012, I posted a video on Facebook of Kerrigan Skelly preaching on a college campus. The video was some of the best witnessing dialogue I have heard. When I posted it, I started to get flak from FB friends that were calling Kerrigan a heretic. I questioned them about why they thought that, and just like with Tony, I still got no answer. There was some discussion back and forth on Facebook about my post, but I thought that was the end of it. Later that day, I received a phone call from a friend and local street preaching brother who said Tony had suggested that people stay away from me on FB. By the end of the day, over 60 people defriended me. My friend who called me said, “He [Tony] said you had fallen into heresy.” That was what I was told Tony said. Now at this point, I was not aware of the fact that Tony was privy to the FB conversation. I was also not included in the discussion about me that continued after I was blocked on FB. After I found out, I immediately went to my pastors. We put together the following email to send to Tony.
Because of this week’s events via Facebook I felt it necessary to write to you and hopefully resolve this fault between us. I noticed you have de-friended and blocked me on Facebook, and I have heard that you are calling me a heretic. I have not seen what you wrote about me, and I am not clear what it was you said. Because of this my heart is heavy. I know that we have had some differences in the past but I still considered you a Brother and a friend. In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus tells us that “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained a brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.
If you believe that I am in sin come to me and tell me alone, and we can discuss it. I have always respected and valued your guidance. However you made a public announcement and declared me like a heathen. Do you believe that from the short thread on Facebook you have enough evidence to condemn me? Also do I not have the right Biblically to defend my actions and explain myself? (Matthew 18:15) My heart aches when it comes to division in the Church, and I am not willing to label someone a heretic without thoroughly investigating it for myself.
The purpose of this letter is not to make my defense. I will do that when the time comes. I wanted to reach out to you as a Brother and a friend to resolve this fault if possible. I value your work as an evangelist and a ministry leader and my hope is our relationship can be healed.
Tony Miano responded with the following:
Glad you wrote.
I’ve included Jeremy Dozier in this email since he contacted me and told me he has talked to you about Kerrigan Skelly.
By way of clarification, I never called you a heretic. I said that you were following some of the teachings of heretics, like Kerrigan Skelly. As far as I know, you are not teaching the false doctrines to which Kerrigan ascribes—false doctrines such as the denial of Original Sin, the denial of the Imputed Righteousness of Christ, and the denial of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement of Christ.
I have since removed the Facebook post—not because I am retreating from my position, but because the comment thread was getting too snarky.
This is not a Matthew 18 situation. You have not sinned against me, therefore there is no reason for me to go to you privately.
You do not belong to my church, therefore there is no reason for me to start the church discipline process with you.
You have made statements publicly, which indicate you are influenced by and are, at least on some level, in agreement with Kerrigan Skelly. Therefore, there is no reason for me to address you privately about statements you have made publicly.
Finally, I owe it to my family, friends, and those who have befriended me on Facebook, and those who are in any way influenced by my teaching and encouragement, to warn them of anyone who has the potential of harming Christians with errant doctrines.
I will not engage you in any attempt on your part to make a defense for any of the before-mentioned heresies. I will not engage you in any attempt on your part to make a defense for Kerrigan Skelly or other false teachers who ascribe to the heresies he promotes.
Chad, I do not consider you a “heathen.” I do not consider you unsaved–not that my opinion regarding the state of your soul matters. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, only One who is able to save and destroy; and it’s not me. I consider you to be one of a growing number of Christians who are being duped by Kerrigan Skelly and others like him into believing false doctrines.
And let me be clear. The issues at hand have nothing to do with the Calvinism/Arminianism debate. The issues at hand go much deeper than that. Kerrigan Skelly, and others like him, are Pelagians—denying essential doctrines concerning the character and work of Jesus Christ, as well as the nature of man. I have many friends, on Facebook and elsewhere, who disagree with me regarding the Doctrines of Grace. I do not for a second question there [sic] salvation.
Chad, I will not debate you. I will not argue with you. But I will pray for you.
I hope that you will run as fast and as far away from the teachings of Kerrigan Skelly, as soon as you can. I will pray that you will see beyond Kerrigan’s facade and see him for the heretic and wolf in sheep’s clothing he is. Until you do, I cannot allow you around my Christian family and friends. I cannot risk the influence Kerrigan has on you, influencing anyone I know and for whom I care.
I apologize if my tone in this email comes across as harsh or terse. It is not my intent to be harsh or terse. But I will not beat around the bush, and I will not play games. These issues are too serious for superficial diplomacy. The character and work of Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word is [sic] being assaulted (as it [sic] always has been) by false teachers; and lives are at stake.
Thanks again for writing. I’m praying for you.
Director of the Ambassadors’ Alliance”
Here is part of the conversation I had with my pastor after receiving Tony’s response:
“I never saw Tony’s thread. I was blocked from it. I am not sure what my heart says. I am not surprised at his response; I almost predicted it. I am for now leaving it at that. It seems that the bigger ministries have little time or patience for us little guys. I emailed him back and thanked him for his response and his time as he is very busy. John and I talked and we are good. He knows my views on Calvinism and he is ok with that. I have deactivated my FB account for now and will be focusing on our local group of street preachers. I am not willing to get into a major doctrinal battle on topics that cause division. I want to be obedient to my Lord and to proclaim Him!! Not a man-made theory. I appreciate your support and guidance. So let’s Go, Stand and Speak!
In conclusion, I have no problem with disagreement within the body of Christ. What saddens me is division. Being part of the street evangelism community was very important to me, and still is. I saw Tony as a leader in this community. I thought I was part of Tony’s Christian family and friends, and if Tony was concerned about them the way he said he was, why didn’t he reach out to me? In fact, no one in that Facebook community, or Jeremy Dozier, explained why they thought these street preachers were heretics. Why didn’t Tony come to me rather than judge me and leave me hanging? Apparently, he didn’t want to come to me privately to instruct me, yet was more than willing to malign and falsely accuse me publicly me behind my back. When the events of April 2012 went down, I was really hurt. I wanted to sincerely know why I was being told to stay away from certain preachers. Instead, I was labeled as “someone to stay away from” without an explanation. Maybe Tony needs to read some books about people skills―I don’t know. Nevertheless, I am not bitter with the situation and will continue to reach people for Christ wherever I am.
How can Tony Miano demand from Mark Cahill what he was unwilling to do himself? Why can Tony Miano warn his followers of bad doctrine, but Mark Cahill cannot? Clearly this is a double standard, not to mention why go after Mark Cahill if their predestinating god has ordained all of this in the first place? Is he suggesting that Mark Cahill has a free will? If Calvinists were consistent, which they are not, they’d admit they are not fighting against Mark Cahill but against the sovereign plan of their predestinating god. How sad is the influence of these doctrines that move people to punish others for what their god has supposedly foreordained.
Are we willing to admit that while these men accuse Mark Cahill of engaging in an “ongoing campaign to marginalize, vilify, and otherwise mistreat Calvinists,”12 that perhaps it is them who are doing this to Mark Cahill? When Mark Cahill doesn’t submit to their demands, they pull out all the stops and go public. It seems that legalists and Pharisees just cannot rest until we submit to them. Thankfully, Mark Cahill isn’t playing their game, which has allowed their sin to surface and come fully forward.
Proverbs 26:4 “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”
Proverbs 4:16 “For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.”
THE POWER OF SUGGESTION
Agitators know all about the power of “suggestion” that accomplishes their mission, yet preserves plausible deniability. Misinformation does all the work in steering public opinion toward the desired outcome.
Tony Miano and Matt Slick have made some rather strong “suggestions” themselves as they use emotionally charged words―rabid, false witness, malevolent, caustic, shrill, ignorant, arrogant, maligns, vilifies, attacking, abrupt, divisive, marginalizes, mistreats, persistent, uncharitable, unrepentant, and unscholarly―all of which inflate the facts beyond the truth, even as they magnanimously trumpet not only their love for Mark Cahill, but their longing for unity with him in hopes of serving with him again one day. Why am I not buying? Because such scathing rhetoric never engenders trust or the intention to reconcile, but instead erects a high wall that no one wants to even come near. Then the aggressor can blame the victim for not making peace.
Proverbs 17:19 “He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.”
Also, consider the “suggestions” put forward that are then quickly retracted. This tactic of maximizing and minimizing a conjecture plants the extreme while minimizing its possibility. For example, in the days following the posting of his denunciation of Mark Cahill, Tony Miano makes the following comments: “And Mark, you are not showing the fruit of someone who has genuine faith in Christ. Not judging you. I don’t know whether or not you’re saved. You say you are. I hope you are. You always have been from the moment you came to faith in Christ and you always will be, uh, for all eternity.”13 Yet he also repeatedly says, “I fear for Mark Cahill’s soul.”14 Now which is it? Tony suggests Mark Cahill isn’t saved while claiming he’s always been saved. He claims he’s not judging Mark Cahill, yet his “fear for Mark Cahill’s soul” speaks otherwise. Doesn’t this kind of doublespeak merely serve to cover one’s tracks?
To make my point, here’s an excerpt from a man who defended Mark Cahill in the social media against the “suggestion” that Mark Cahill treats Calvinists terribly.
“What terrible treatment of Christians are you talking about? I am unaware of such conduct. You shouldn’t even make an accusation without being specific, thereby slandering his character, or insinuating I’m in the same boat. I know about Mark’s ministry. I have read two of his books, and I believe he is a Godly man. Ray Comfort said of Mark Cahill, that he was the only Christian he knew that made him feel lukewarm. The only issue I am aware of with Mark Cahill is his recent coming out against the heresy of Calvinism. If that is what you call terrible treatment, because he disagrees with a false teaching in the Church, then what about all of the disagreements Calvinists speak out against people that disagree with them, like Tony Miano for instance? We are commanded in Scripture to defend sound doctrine, and the theology of Calvinism is a doctrine of demons. So, yea, maybe I am of his sort, a Biblical sort. If Mark Cahill has committed a gross iniquity, then maybe he needs to be called out publicly, so others may fear as the Bible teaches. But Calvinists, over all, are way more ‘terrible’ in their interactions and dialogues with people who disagree with them than Mark Cahill will ever be. Maybe the hypocrisy of Calvinists should be addressed too, huh? Oh wait, they are the ones God chose, so it must be everyone else who is in error, right? Typical Calvinist. And if not Mark’s stand against Calvinism, then what is this heinous terrible treatment of Christians you speak of? . . . By the way, the only reason Mark started talking about Calvinism was because of Tony Miano’s ‘terrible’ attacks on him first! . . . If it is his views on Calvinism, it’s not surprising that a Calvinist would say that someone who disagreed with them was treating them terrible. If you call disagreeing terrible treatment, what are you going to do when the Muslims or the antichrist get a hold of you?”
Calvinists say it’s all about unity on the front end, as if doctrinal tolerance is a virtue, then demand you agree with them on the back end, or else. If you won’t agree to “peace” on their terms, then look out because war is in their hearts.
Jeremiah 6:14 “. . . saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”
In the same radio broadcast mentioned above, Tony Miano continued to petition Mark Cahill for “repentance” on his terms by saying, “But Mark, you need to repent, man. You need to set aside your pride. You need to set aside your arrogance. You need to humble yourself. And you need to seek reconciliation with me, and I want to seek reconciliation with you.”16
Repent of what? Having different convictions? Believing that God loves all men and not just some? Believing Jesus died on the cross for all men and not just a chosen few? That salvation is genuinely available to every person? Why become an evangelist if men can’t choose to believe the gospel? And further, if the elect are saved prior to belief, as five-point Calvinists such as Tony Miano and Matt Slick believe, then why evangelize at all? Honestly, what’s the point if they’re already saved? Can the elect possibly be lost if not evangelized?
These men say their posting isn’t about Calvinism, then talk only about Calvinism. They say it’s not about Arminianism but slap Mark Cahill with the “Arminian” label to set up a straw man. For all of their scholarly prowess, you’d think they’d know that Arminianism holds to total depravity, enabling grace, and conditional salvation making Arminianism more similar to Calvinism than they care to admit. Since Mark Cahill believes in the total ability of man to believe the gospel, he can’t be labeled an Arminian.17 Of course, Calvinists redefine the term “Arminian” to brand those who reject sovereign election with the label. And to divert our attention further, they say their issue with Mark Cahill is about the “essentials of the faith,” but redefine these to suit their purposes as well.
This whole brouhaha in denouncing Mark Cahill hinges on the single idea that one believer cannot separate from another if they both agree on the “essentials of the faith.” While CARM’s “Doctrinal Grid”18 is offered as the standard for unity, it is really a general statement for who CARM believes is in the faith and who isn’t. If Tony Miano really believes it is a standard for fellowship, then why did he cut off Chad Johnson who he admitted wasn’t a heretic or unsaved? Further, this “grid” can’t be taken at face value because anytime Calvinism in the mix, trouble is lurking in double talk and shifting definitions. The game is in the words and we have to pay attention.
For instance CARM cites, “Salvation is by grace through faith” as a “Primary Essential.”19 Sounds fine until you learn their definition of grace is “irresistible” and their definition of faith is “gifted.”20 Calvinists believe that irresistible grace causes those who were preselected for salvation to be born again (regenerated) before belief. Being “born again before belief” supposedly enables the elect to place divinely gifted faith in the gospel. The problem with this mechanic is that it can’t be substantiated anywhere in the Bible. Nowhere. Instead, it’s inferred. The Bible clearly and repeatedly states that man believes from the heart and salvation comes after belief (Luke 8:12; John 3:36; Acts 16:31; Acts 21:25; Romans 3:25, 5:1-2; 10:9-13; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 15:2; Ephesians 1:12-13; Jude 1:5), which makes agreement with Calvinism impossible. How clever of the enemy to couch Calvinism in safe sounding words (grace alone/faith alone) that later become weapons to force unity with unbiblical precepts.
Romans 10:10 “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”
And while CARM relegates Calvinism to a “Secondary Non-Essential,” nowhere in the Bible can this claim be substantiated either. In fact, CARM offers no scriptural support to back up their assertion that Calvinism is allowable as a secondary issue. This glaring omission leads people to think that Calvinism is no big deal, when it is a very big deal to alter the character of God. Sadly, few Christians are equipped to handle the onslaught of abuse that Calvinists heap on those who dare to question its veracity, nor are they prepared to untangle the web of “out of context” verses that have been strung together to give the illusion that Calvinism is true, when it is not.
Jose Muniz who is the founder of Jesus Crew, a network of street evangelists,21 is well-acquainted with the mistreatment of Calvinists toward anyone who disagrees with Calvinism. He warns the unsuspecting to be on their guard against the verbal barrage that often ensues:
“When the topic of Calvinism comes up, get ready for strife, arguing, and dissension to be in the middle of the conversation. Nobody can read the Bible alone, without any outside input and come to the conclusion that they are now Calvinist. A person only becomes a Calvinist after they get taught that doctrine. Clearly, Calvinism is another gospel and Calvinists will treat people, who don’t accept Calvinism, as not complete
What if a person believes the entire Bible? Does that person still need Calvinism to get to heaven?
From my 28 years of being born again, I’ve never seen anything good come out of Calvinism. Lost several believer friends that turned on me when they found out I was not going to accept Calvinism.
Anyone who rejects Calvinism should expect attacks from them.
I have experienced it several times throughout the years as has my friend and brother in Christ, Mark Cahill. Anyone who listens to and spends time with Mark will see the work of the Holy Spirit in the ministry that God has put him in. We have personally been blessed by God through His servant, Mark Cahill. We are standing with Mark because he is standing on God’s Word.”
―Jose Muniz, Jesus Crew Founder
Calvinists have convinced themselves they are squarely in center of truth, when they err concerning the essence of the gospel and the nature of God. It is a very serious matter to worship a different image of God, as well as change the nature of the gospel. If we care, we will keep pointing Calvinists to the truth, which is the most loving thing we can do for not only them, but others who might be taken captive by their message.
The Character of God
The looming oversight in this entire discussion is the character of God from which everything, including the gospel, flows. In fact, CARM completely skips over the character of God and jumps right to the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ22 meaning, His deity and humanity united in one person without confusion forever. At issue is whether God’s holy and perfect character would sovereignly preselect a segment of mankind to salvation and thereby relegate others to hell, or whether God desires for every single person to be saved and equips them with the ability to make that choice.
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Consider the intentions of God as He holds out the offer of life to men through His ambassadors. Is the gospel a genuine offer that every man can avail themselves of? Is it a duplicitous offer made to all men but intended to quicken only the “preselected”? Or is it an outright lie that God has no intention of giving? Which is it? The character of your God determines your answer.
How about the cross? Did Jesus die for all men like His Word says, or will we change that meaning too because we’re beholden to the image of a sovereign electing god (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2; Colossians 1:20; Luke 2:10; John 12:32; Ezekiel 33:11; Revelation 5:9; 22:17)? If God is viewed as sovereignly predestinating, this will be reflected in how we interpret―make that exegete―any given passage of scripture. Jesus cuts through the games of scholarship to lay bare the heart when He asks, “Whom say ye that I AM?” (Matthew 16:15). His identity is our real hermeneutic. Think hard about whether your answer and interpretations will hold up on the day you stand before Him. The Judge is perfectly holy and will bring every hidden thing to light.
1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”
Often Calvinists refuse to come into the light so that their teachings aren’t seen for what they really are. Consider that Matt Slick says CARM takes no position on Calvinism23 yet he makes allowance for it as a “Secondary Non-Essential” in his “Doctrinal Grid.”24 Then we learn in his radio interview with Tony Miano that he fully believes in Calvinism himself.25 Now why wouldn’t he promote what he fully believes? Aren’t leaders supposed to lead in the cause of truth? Aren’t we to shout truth from the rooftops? Isn’t truth commendable to all men’s consciences? Why not unabashedly declare the glories of the sovereignly electing god if they’re true? Why not? Because Calvinism is a shameful doctrine crafted to accord with a different image of God. Calvinists need to wake up and realize their reluctance to come out in the open is precisely the Holy Spirit’s warning that deception is afoot. There should be no hesitation, equivocation, or conditioning to these doctrines by degrees.
The BASIS FOR FELLOWSHIP
Tolerating “mutually exclusive” beliefs for the sake of unity actually results in no unity at all. The elephant in the room will always cause division. Fellowship by definition is over truth, not compromise. It is error that lobbies for unity in order to be accepted into the tent of truth. Then once inside, it further insists that truth submit to tolerance and thereby submits to silence.
Here’s the experience of a new Christian who loved Mark Cahill’s ministry until her “tolerant” Calvinist friends apparently violated the “essentials of unity” with Mark Cahill and tainted her attitude to pull her away toward Calvinism.
I was first introduced to Mark Cahill Ministries in December of 2010. Being a fairly new Christian at the time, I was given a copy of his book “One Heartbeat Away” by a new friend who highly recommended Mark Cahill’s resources. That book had a huge impact me, so much so, that I emailed Mark almost immediately after reading it to tell him. He was extremely kind, and offered to send me some tracts, books, and DVD’s, which I gladly gave away to others in hopes that they could feel the same impact on their life that they had on mine.
Another ministry that I’d familiarized myself with early-on in my Christian life was Ray Comfort’s ministry, Living Waters, which is where I came to know of Tony Miano. I highly respected Living Waters, as well as Tony, and made a lot of friends with others who did as well. I think it was the high level of respect that I had for Tony that caused me to be taken completely aback when he began to publicly attack Mark Cahill and Mark Cahill Ministries for his views regarding Calvinism. I’ll admit that I really hadn’t taken a stand on either side of the Calvinism debate, but I was blown away over the fact that Tony could be so cruel, and unloving.
In the CARM article that Tony wrote, he accuses Mark of causing division in the Church. The very thing that Tony is accusing Mark of doing seems to be exactly what Tony is doing himself. Around the time that Tony began attacking Mark, I started to notice friends of mine, who had become big fans of Tony, beginning to do similar things (sharing the CARM article on Facebook, un-liking the Mark Cahill Facebook page, etc.). One friend, after admitting to me that she didn’t know where she stood in the Calvinism debate, told me she could no longer “like” Mark’s Facebook page, or support his ministry because he was unrepentant. Considering the fact that I still felt quite young in my faith, I was only growing confused over the whole thing. I didn’t know if I could believe, or trust anyone anymore. I know we are to be on the lookout for false teachers, but I hardly saw Mark Cahill as being a false teacher. Or a possible false convert? I sure didn’t think so.
I didn’t know what to do about the issue, but I knew that I’d had enough, so I emailed Mark for the first time since back in 2010. I was nervous to do so, since the testimonials in Tony’s CARM article painted Mark in such a hateful light, but I wanted to let him know how I felt, and why I felt the way I did. His response wasn’t hateful at all! Even at the mention of Calvinism, he never made me feel under attack, and more importantly, he never questioned my salvation. Mark is my brother in Christ, and I will happily continue to recommend his ministry and resources. I hope, and I pray that they will continue to impact many lives, and that many lives will be saved as a result.”
Once a false “unity” is established, no stepping out of bounds is allowed. Do so, and you’ll be accused of dividing the body of Christ. If you dare to stand against their doctrine, they will put words in your mouth, as they have with Mark Cahill, and insist you’re accusing them of not being saved when you’ve said nothing of the sort.
The saved and unsaved
Let’s set the record straight. Mark Cahill never makes accusations of Christians being unsaved, but will give clear truth which all men should examine themselves by. However, Calvinists judge others all the time. In some circles, judging others is even a pastime. Further, Mark Cahill is known for holding out hope as he says, “Today is a new day.” However, hope is foreign to Calvinists who are stuck with an inconvenient fatalism. They cannot fathom the elect could ever be wrong because reprobates are wrong. The elect are the “enlightened” and reprobates (non-elect) are not. Therefore when Mark Cahill warns about the seriousness of Calvinism, it quickly translates in their minds to, “he’s saying I’m not saved!” even though he hasn’t said that at all. Then they retaliate with they “fear for Mark Cahill’s soul.” This merely reveals that the finger they point at him is the finger they had been pointing at themselves. An old Finnish proverb says it well; “The dog that yelps is the one that got hit.”
2 Timothy 2:19-21 “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”
Why all the insecurity? Why the persecution complex? Why? Because Calvinism teaches that God can purposely give the reprobate a “false faith.”26 When someone questions their doctrine, the Calvinist defaults to a very real and sometimes debilitating fear of a false conversion. This fear secretly haunts the Calvinist for he has no way to be assured of salvation. Tony Miano echoes this fear when he says:
“Show me a Christian who claims he or she has never struggled with or doubted their faith, and I will show you a liar who might not be saved.”27
Rather than normalizing fear, the Scriptures plainly say, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7). Mark Cahill hasn’t judged them, but their reactions reveal they have been judging themselves.
While we’re on the subject, it’s useful to clarify that Mark Cahill hasn’t judged Spurgeon either as evidenced by Mark Cahill’s statement, “The good news is that Spurgeon is no longer a Calvinist! That all changed when he died!” And by the way, anyone who reads Spurgeon’s great swelling words of concern for the lost should be able to take them at face value, right? Who would ever suspect that a man so concerned with the unsaved would ever be a Calvinist? His bemoaning the lost seems more like compensating for the indifference the Calvinist god has for them. We should ask: Are Spurgeon’s words of concern for the lost trustworthy? Should men who teach falsely be denounced for false teaching? Precisely my point.
The apostle Paul warned the Corinthians to avoid the corrupting influence of beguiling teachings, but didn’t declare them unsaved for listening to those who “preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted,” but he did recognize that “ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Paul didn’t declare the Corinthians unsaved for listening to and being misled by them for a time. He was perplexed, but he didn’t condemn.
The fact is we’re called to be the pillar and support of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). We’re called to discern sound doctrine that is commendable to all men’s consciences, which Calvinism fails at miserably. How do I know that to be true? Try floating predestination out on the streets and watch the lost people run. They won’t come anywhere near that kind of god, which is exactly why Calvinists preach the “gospel of choice” on the streets rather than the “gospel of election” they secretly believe in.
2 Corinthians 4:2 “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
Calvinism often remains hidden in the shadows of Christian circles and ministries because it’s communicated through words and catchphrases that have specialized meanings. Those “in the know” get the message, but the rest of us are kept in the dark.
Such was the case a few years ago when attending a Living Waters conference. While checking into the hotel the night before, there was another group in the lobby who were in town for the conference, as well. I cautioned them to be on the lookout for any Calvinism they might encounter the next day. Immediately, I was verbally attacked by the zealous Calvinist in the group in full view of the lost people watching. It was so bad that another person in the group had to call him off. Then they asked why I was even attending the conference if I wasn’t a Calvinist! Now that’s telling for an organization that says they’re not Calvinist.
To be sure, as Tony Miano has pointed out, “Living Waters, with great effort and intentionality, has sought to remain neutral” with regard to this “theological debate.”28 The thought that crosses my mind is, why work so hard at maintaining neutrality when we’re called to stand on the side of truth. Mark Spence, clearly a representative of Living Waters, since he is the Dean of Students for the Living Waters Publications online School of Biblical Evangelism, took the podium during that conference and declared, “God can do whatever, to whomever, whenever He wants, and He doesn’t care what you think!” Now some might miss its import, but the audience who erupted in thunderous applause did not. All that was missing from the cheers were the confetti and streamers falling from the rafters! We need to remember that God cannot do “whatever, to whomever, whenever He wants” if it is contrary to His character or Word. After the conference, I asked an attendee if he thought Calvinism was taught that day, and the man answered in a most affirming voice, “Oh, yes, very definitely.”
Further, here is the story of a couple who attended a conference where Mark Spence of Living Waters was speaking. They expected to hear Mark Cahill speak, but found themselves surrounded by Calvinists instead.
“Several years ago we learned about Mark Cahill’s book One Heartbeat Away and were very excited and encouraged. When Mark came to speak at a local conference, we were totally blown away by his passion and delivery. So much so, that the next year we even welcomed another family into our home who wanted to attend too.
At the next year’s conference, we were looking for Mark Cahill but he wasn’t there, and we wanted to know why. All we were told was that Mark Cahill was into false doctrine. When I asked what false doctrine they meant, no one would come out and say exactly what that false doctrine was. I can say there was no charity or unity in their attitudes toward Mark Cahill. To hear all of this was greatly upsetting because we looked up to Mark as a leader who could be trusted.
I remember standing in line for lunch that day when one of the open air preachers came up to my husband and me. Out of the blue he asked us if we were ‘reformed.’ I said I didn’t know what ‘reformed’ meant. So he tried convincing us that we were already Calvinists. Then my husband said firmly that we didn’t believe that God predestines certain people for heaven and certain people for hell. That ended the discussion.
Mark Spence from Living Waters was also at this conference so I found him in the hallway. I was very troubled about what I had just heard regarding predestination. I wanted to see if he also believed that we have no choice in accepting Christ, and go to heaven or hell. I asked him because he was a speaker there and in the past, I highly regarded Living Waters’ ministry. I was very upset when he responded using my first name saying, ‘_____, we have no choice.’ My heart within me was broken and I said to him, ‘Why does this feel so wrong to me, why am I so upset?’ He replied, ‘Because you believe something those you love don’t agree with.’ I was confused. He then looked very uncomfortable, and gave me his card and asked me to email him and he would give me books on Calvinism that would help me. I did not email him for books.
It got worse that night when our house guest, a man in our own home, became very forceful with us about Calvinism. He was showing us scriptures where God hates some men and loves others. About that time his son left the room and all I could think about was the fear of hell I had as a child growing up Catholic and not knowing there was a way to be saved. Calvinism could offer that child no hope.
All the pieces came together for us at that conference and I was not happy that I had been supporting this ministry. I felt betrayed. I don’t want any person or child to ever think they may not be loved by God, or that they are destined to hell and they cannot do a thing about it. This is heartbreaking! I want every person and every child to know that God loves them and wants them in heaven. It will be their choice, not God’s choice, if they reject the gospel and end up in hell. What must Calvinists be thinking on their dark days if they secretly fear that they were not elect? People need to keep their guards up and research who they support.”
The point is that those who work hard to remain neutral can still introduce people to Calvinism, or even believe it themselves. And just because someone insists they are not “Calvinist” doesn’t guarantee they don’t hold to sovereign election. Calvinists will often deny the labels preferring vague language instead. We have to be alert to every word, define our terms, and gather information to be sure where someone stands when it comes to Calvinism.
Founder of Living Waters, Ray Comfort, says the following in his Blue Book of Evangelism with regard to Calvinism:
“I normally keep silent about this issue . . . I know that God is sovereign. We don’t do anything to be saved. We are saved by grace alone. But when I find myself leaning toward Calvinism, I think of a mass of verses that lean the other way . . . Besides that, the issue is very divisive―a real church-splitter. So even if I did figure it out, I would keep it to myself for the sake of the ministry that God has entrusted me with. If I went one way or the other, doors would instantly slam.”29
Typical questions to ask would be: What kind of sovereignty―sovereignly electing or sovereignly giving free choice? What kind of grace―irresistible grace for salvation before belief, or grace for salvation because of belief? And just what is the anything we don’t do to be saved? Rather than not doing “anything to be saved,” God very definitely commands us to do something and that something is to believe the gospel. We do the believing and God does the cleansing of sin and the saving.
John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
Leaders are called to lead, and that means they step over the line of neutrality to take their stand on the side of truth. Truth never needs to be hidden, hushed or concealed. And if doors slam, they are slamming on error. We are not to stand by and hold the door open to error, but to “come out from among them, and be ye separate,” (Corinthians 6:17). Ministries need to prove they are not Calvinist and stand against it, rather than sympathize with and benefit from it.
By taking their case against Mark Cahill to the court of public appeal, Tony Miano and Matt Slick have put themselves, not Mark, on trial.
They present their argument that Mark Cahill is dividing the body of Christ when their invective creates the very division they feign concern for. They state that Mark Cahill is unloving and uncharitable toward Christians, but can’t see that he is protecting people from bondage. They profess undying love for Mark Cahill but their words are a sounding gong in light of their posting. They maintain he needs to repent when they are the ones who have attacked a ministry that is obviously blessed by God. They reason they are serving God and the Christian community by boycotting Mark Cahill’s ministry not realizing they are heaping guilt to themselves through those who execute their directives. They treat the believer as the enemy, which is very serious in the eyes of God. The court of public appeal will clearly recognize the fruits of the Spirit from the deeds of the flesh, unless of course, they are wearing Calvinist-colored glasses.
Has it occurred to anyone why Mark Cahill might be the target of such a cruel denunciation? Perhaps it’s precisely because he is making a serious impact on the church and the world in reaching the lost for Christ.
Psalm 55:21 “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.”
Psalm 140:3 “They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips…”
Should we follow the example of Tony Miano and Matt Slick and call for the evangelical community to marginalize them, like they have suggested for Mark Cahill? No. Each Christian is vested with the responsibility to stand for truth and identify error. We give instruction where we can and patiently wait for men under deception to come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil that holds them captive. It is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit who convicts all men of truth (John 16:8), which is sown in the hearts of all who hear it (Matthew 13:19). Once convicted, they have the choice and the responsibility to stand with Truth.
2 Timothy 2:24-26 “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
The real problem for Tony Miano and Matt Slick is that Mark Cahill is a man of truth and they know it. Rather than suffer for truth, as their attack has afforded Mark Cahill and which finds favor in the eyes of the Lord, they have become the aggressors who have cast many stones. Thankfully, the flaming arrows hurled at Mark Cahill can’t pierce the armor of God that is fitted securely about him. The battle is the Lord’s and Mark Cahill is undaunted by the destroyer.
Romans 15:3 “For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.”
Isaiah 30:15 “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.”
Until such men come to their senses, we bring them and this situation before the throne of God and wait on Him. Far better to walk humbly with the Lord in quietness and rest than to go after His children and give the impression that one is wearing a sheep suit that just might be slipping.
1. “Mark Cahill,” Tony Miano and Matt Slick, http://carm.org/mark-cahill.
2. “Mark Cahill Challenges Audience to Win Souls,” John Petrilli, http://www.goodnewspaper.org/2012/11/01/mark-cahill-challenges-audience-to-win-souls/.
3. “The Best Evangelist You May Not Have Heard Of,” Dan Burrell, http://www.danburrell.com/?p=337.
4. Deeper Conference Trailer, Ray Comfort, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn0bb7GkTzc
5. Cross-Encounters Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013; Matt Slick, 60:57 min.
6. Tony Miano, https://www.facebook.com/OpenAirTony/posts/407583715940535
7. Cross-Encounters Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013; Matt Slick, 112:08 min.
8. Cross-Encounters Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013; Tony Miano, 93:00 min.
9. Cross-Encounters Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013; Tony Miano and Matt Slick, 104:00 min.
10. Cross-Encounters Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013; Matt Slick, 112:19 min.
11. “Mark Cahill,” Tony Miano and Matt Slick, http://carm.org/mark-cahill.
12. “Mark Cahill,” Tony Miano and Matt Slick, http://carm.org/mark-cahill.
13. Cross-Encounters Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013; Tony Miano, 147:45 min.
14. “Mark Cahill,” Tony Miano and Matt Slick, http://carm.org/mark-cahill.
15. http://lostcauseministries.com/?s=apology; comments removed.
16. Cross-Encounters Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013; Tony Miano, 157:40 min.
17. “Total Ability,” Mark Cahill, http://www.markcahill.org/news/0111news.html.
18. “Doctrinal Grid,” Matt Slick, http://carm.org/doctrine-grid.
19. “Doctrinal Grid,” Matt Slick, http://carm.org/doctrine-grid.
20. “Faith,” Matt Slick, http://carm.org/dictionary-faith.
22. “Doctrinal Grid,” Matt Slick, http://carm.org/doctrine-grid.
23. “Calvinism,” Matt Slick, http://carm.org/carm-calvinism
24. “Doctrinal Grid,” Matt Slick, http://carm.org/doctrine-grid.
25. Cross-Encounter Radio, http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2012/11/05/cross-encounters-radio-0013, Matt Slick, 60:57 min.
26. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008 edition), Book III, Chapter ii, Section 11, p. 362.
27. Tony Miano, https://twitter.com/TonyMiano/status/260230015952773121; October 21, 2012; 9:04 PM
28. “Mark Cahill,” Tony Miano and Matt Slick, http://carm.org/mark-cahill
29. Ray Comfort, Blue Book on Evangelism (Bellflower, CA: Living Waters Publications, 2008), p. 132.