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Seminar on the Willow Creek Community Church Paradigm (By J. E. Choate)

October 30 2011 at 4:00 AM
ConcernedMembers  (Login Donnie.Cruz)
from IP address

Seminar on the Willow Creek Community Church Paradigm

By J. E. Choate


A primary objective of this article is to awaken our brethren to the stern reality that formidable foes are stalking the conservative churches of Christ. They clearly identify themselves with their proposals to alter and to change the organization, worship, practices and biblical traditions of the conservative churches of Christ. Their proposals are not generally well understood because they have been less than candid to divulge what they have in mind.

An inflexible minority of "scholarly" brethren and such popular pulpiteers as Mike Cope are determined to replace what they call the old hermeneutic -"precept, apostolic example, and necessary inference"-with a new hermeneutic which they do not define. They have spoken much of the "paradigm" versus the "pattern" in referring to the model, or pattern for churches of Christ. With the same token, when they also talk volubly about parameters and perimeters, we have a clearing picture of their intentions.

This matter was clarified and laid on the table by two of our astute "scholars"-Michael R. Weed and Gary Holloway who put it all down in black and white in a paper which was read May 5­6, 1995 during the Second Annual Forrest K. Kirkpatrick Seminar for Stone­Campbell historians sponsored by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society in Nashville.

The Holloway­Weed paper was titled The Gospel in Urban Vessels: Churches of Christ Face the Twenty­First Century. Holloway and Weed obviously endorse the Foster­Hughes contention that the "Church of Christ" denomination started as an exclusive sect in the early 19th century. Both reject the biblical doctrine of the apostolic pattern of the church.

Instead they allege that the "'Churches of Christ" have societal origins. The Holloway­Weed paper proposes three options as possible replacement models (paradigms) for the churches of Christ as they enter the 21st century. Holloway and Weed name three opt ions, or models which churches of

Christ could adopt in part or whole, and which are already adopted in some churches.

The models are namely: The Willow Creek Community Church model; (2) the Vineyard (Third Wave Pentecostal) Movement model; and (3) the "Neoconservative," or "moderates" which identify with postmodern theology. The rank and file of churches of Christ have no understanding of the structure of the three proposed models. To be sure, the better informed "change agents" do.

I propose over the next several months to explain in simple terms what we are talking about when we refer to the Willow Creek Community Church, the Vineyard Movement (Third Wave) Pentecostal movement, and the "neo­conservative," or "moderates." We have over the past year dwelt at length with postmodern theology. This is the theology which comes after Barth, Bultmann, and Tillich.

It is imperative, to weed out these noxious plants, that we recognize these destructive influences. It can not only be done, it can be easily done. The best way to learn is to go to those who know the most about these matters.

The current bibliography is set up that we may understand the latest church "crazes"' sweeping through the churches like wildfire. Then we can understand what the Willow Creek Community Church is all about and how it operates. The bibliography can be easily accessed in college and large public libraries. The search is worth the time and effort, and besides the documentation becomes one's personal property. There are some matters too complex to be spoon fed.


My first introduction to Willow Creek comes from news stories written by world class feature writers for major American publications with no ties to organized churches. The writers do not have in mind churches of Christ. Their feature stories are strictly reportorial of interest to the general public.

The most significant of these sources are:

  1. The New York Times (Sunday, April 16, 1995) carried a series of four special articles on the Willow Creek Community Church. The first article is titled "Where Shopping­Mall Culture Gets a Big Dose of Religion."

  2. The New York Times Magazine (July 21, 1996, Section Six), "The Capitalist: God in the Packaging." The lead sentence is: "A few years back the Harvard Business School gave its blessing to the Willow Creek Community Church. In this flattering case study, it was shown how in less than fifteen years, Willow Creek had grown from a hole in a wheat field in Illinois into the largest church in America.

  3. By far, the Atlantic Monthly (August, 1996) carries the most penetrating and definitive feature article titled "Welcome to the Next Church," written by Charles Truehart on the Willow Creek Community Church and other similar churches. The names on the packaging are different, but the content is the same. Kindred churches using the mega­market packaging of religion wear such names as Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Mariners Church, and the Church of the Open Door.

  4. Coming from the religious side of the picture, an article was published duly 18, 1994 in Christianity Today titled "Selling Out the House of God" with a decidedly negative, if not unfriendly, approach. Bill Hybel, the genius who brought his Willow Creek dream to reality, answered a series of critical questions put to him by Michael Maudlin and Howard Gilbreath from Christianity Today. The Willow Creek Community Church is singled out as the undisputed prototype of this new pop 'Shopping­mall culture" organized church where the biggest doses of this make­you­feel­good religion are dispensed.
Max Lucado was the first to give a glowing and approving report of the Willow Creek Community denomination in the 1993 January/February issue of Wineskins. He endorses the doctrine that there are Christians in all churches regardless of beliefs, practices, and denominational distinctions. Jeff Walling is the debonair front man who goes across the country selling the "community church" concept. He delivered a series of lectures during Jubilee '96 under the title A Truly Community Church. I listened attentively to him. He divulged absolutely nothing about the parent Willow Creek Community Church. Nor do any of this ilk.

The only bona fide community church in the Nashville area is the Hendersonville Community Churches. The Masons are no more secretive than the Church of Christ community churches who leave the false impression that they form an open religious society. My big question to the Hendersonville Church of Christ Community Church is: "What are your official ties to the Willow Creek Community Church Association?" Don't tell me you have none.

We ask Doug Varnado of Hendersonville Community Church: Does your church belong to the parachute organization called the Willow Creek Association whose church memberships number 70 denominations with a total of 1700 churches? Harold Hazelip and Carl McKelvey preach in your pulpit. The churches of Christ in the Nashville area are entitled to know this much. And before you and your kind further milk the churches of Christ tell us really who you are?

I have the resources of David Lipscomb University, and Vanderbilt libraries and their professional librarians who assist my research efforts. My purpose is to put the fear of God into the liberals lest they should be so foolhardy as to question my sources.


We say to our liberal brethren that the long haul is on, and it will take time to flush you out into the open. The day of sophomoric strategies borrowed from Lynn Anderson is now a matter of the past. We can now force our liberal brethren out onto a level playing field where the rules apply to all. So let the games proceed. Whatever our liberal brethren propose, God will make the final disposition.


To editors of papers who have printed my articles in the past, would you print this article? My purpose is to flush out the liberals so that our brothers and sisters who sit in the pews may sooner understand and identify the chief take over "change agents"' who are after your buildings.

We are now at the fork of road as church leaders will either opt for the liberal image or remain committed to the patterns of New Testament Christianity.


Published January 1997

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Fred Whaley
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Re: Seminar on the Willow Creek Community Church Paradigm (By J. E. Choate)

November 4 2011, 3:51 PM 

Did the Willow Creek Church ever have a lampstand from Jesus? It has been said that Revelation chapters 2 and 3 clearly state that only "Churches of Christ" receive a lampstand. But when reading these chapters and searching for the truth about "Churches of Christ" being the description on the church buildings or was it homes that had these signs? Fred is confused. Ken please help a struggling sinner but searching sinner.


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Donnie Cruz
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'Churches of Christ" in Quotation Marks

November 4 2011, 11:53 PM 


It's folks like you who make a big deal about the "description on the church buildings" and assert that the church that Christ established and built is only one of the hundreds and hundreds of denominations worldwide. It's a faulty and wrong argument.

Do we discuss church buildings here? I think NOT, unless we need to rebut assertions like yours. From what I gather from your posts, you don't even believe that the New Testament church exists today. I gather from your posts that all denominations are alike and they all comprise the church, the body of Christ. If that's the case, why even state your claim that you are a member of the "'Church of Christ' denomination," when, based on your logic, you should have no roaming charges as you change membership from one denomination to another.

The only reason why the building (any building: gymnasium, school, indoor tennis structure, etc.) has an identification is that there's so much confusion in this world. Isn't there a reason for the local postman to know that the Whaleys reside at this address and that the Sharkeys [pun intended?] reside at that address?

You know there were no Protestant and Catholic denominations at the time when the church was first established in Jerusalem and when it spread and grew in other regions in the first century. It was as scriptural to identify the various congregations of God's church or family as "churches of Christ" (Rom. 16:16) as to identify a congregation as "the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:1) or "the church of the Laodiceans" (Col. 4:16).

Fred, you just might mistakenly "worship" in an Islamic assembly if you preferred unidentified religious bodies.

Frankly, the proper ID usually reveals what a religious group teaches and believes in. Otherwise, Fred might not be aware that he is worshiping with the Mormons or the Christian Scientists.

This is a very good identification: "The church of Christ in Lakewood City meets here."

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Donnie Cruz
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The Willow Creek Association of Community Churches

November 8 2011, 2:35 AM 


It is true that Willow Creek is an association of religious communities. The group wants to define itself as non-denominational, although the Community Church itself is a denomination. "Non-denominational" is misleading and deceptive, as only the New Testament church built and established by Christ in the first century is not a denomination.

The Community Church is not non-denominational. Rather, it is inter-denominational as it is comprised of various religious denominations -- Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.

Surprise! Surprise! There are some "Churches of Christ" that have affiliated themselves with the Community Church. I did not place them there. The members did not place them there. Their "church leaders" did!!!

Maybe you should find out for yourself. Here are some links (select tab "Membership" and tab "Find a WCA Church"):

Someone has recently asked me about a congregation that is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ/Christian Church. So, I answered. I also provided the following link to the Willow Creek Community website. I actually sampled the search for churches of Christ in Texas, and here's what displayed:

Farmers Branch Church of Christ Farmers Branch, TX 75234-5059
Glenwood Church Of Christ Tyler, TX 75703-3414
Golf Course Road Church of Christ Midland, TX 79703-5098
Lake Highlands Church Dallas, TX 75238-3498
West Houston Church of Christ Houston, TX 77095-1921

So, just to let you know that I am not making up what's going on with the change agents and their scheme for the church of Christ "to be just like the other [DENOMI]nations."

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Ken Sublett
(Login Ken.Sublett)

Re: The Willow Creek Association of Community Churches

February 26 2015, 2:28 PM 

bump for J. E. Choate
I have shreds and shards of Choate: maybe someone from the family can supply the papers. He has books in print.

Choate and Woodson from sounding brass: refuting the RACE CARD.

None of this really matters because the LU patternists and legalists have new VISIONS or hear A SPIRIT SPEAK or somehow after 40 days of praying have some mechanism for detecting the ONE ALMIGHTY contradicting the documents suddenly abrogating everything that the traditionalists in all religious groups defend UNTIL THEM. They have a move virulent KoolAid and tens of thousands of people rushing to drink it. None of the laidity can say "no" because they didn't get Simonized at one of the defunct universities producing universalists.

It is good to sound some brass and honor great scholars who sounded the trumpet.

This message has been edited by Ken.Sublett from IP address on Feb 26, 2015 2:36 PM

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Ken Sublett
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Re: The Willow Creek Association of Community Churches

February 26 2015, 2:58 PM 

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(no login)

Re: The Willow Creek Association of Community Churches

February 26 2015, 4:17 PM 

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Ken Sublett
(Login Ken.Sublett)

I am also a God!

February 26 2015, 9:16 PM 

Neither of these are J. E. Choate or didn't you notice? Earl Roberson asserts:

Everything depends on the right answer to Jesus' question, "Whose son is he?" (Matt. 22:42). If He is the Son of God He is God-deity, divine (John 10:36, 37; 5:18);

John 10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
John 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
John 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world,
Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
John 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.

By definition, a Christian is a Disciple of Christ-only. If you quote part of a verse and then preach yourself you CANNOT be a Disciple. Jesus PATTERNED a Son by doing exactly what Jehovah the FATHER commanded Him to do. The progressives say WE REJECT THE JESUS PATTERN: therefore, they are not sons of God and they will die like men

John 10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works:that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

The Jews understand LORD to be Jehovah and gods were eloyhim. In the Greek THEOS is the Supreme. In Psalm 83

Jesus didn't say I AM GOD (Jehovah): He said that He was the SON of God. This is stated in Psalm 82 disabusing anyone from saying that Jesus was a liar for saying that He was the SON of God. It was the enemy or progressives who extrapolated and said YOU MEAN that you are the ALMIGHTY.

Psa. 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods [El]; and all of you are children of the most High.
Psa. 82:7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

God says there are many Els but I, Jehovah, am the only TRUE El.

5945. elyown, el-yone´; from 5927; an elevation, i.e. (adj.) lofty (compar.); as title, the Supreme:—(Most, on) high(-er, -est), upper(-most). Alah

Jesus said that He was the filius of the only MIGHTY El.

I told you that anyone who sees religion as a means of financial gain WILL NOT and CANNOT chase down what Jesus said: Jesus was an elohim because He was the SON of Jehovah: He never said that he was Jehovah. Math 101a: there cannot be two Almighties or two Most High.

How am I supposed to watch Hockey and do your work?

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Ken Sublett
(Login Ken.Sublett)

Re: I am also a God!

February 26 2015, 9:44 PM 

My mistake for directing you to TruthMagazine: I pointed to a few notes by J. E. Choate. I do not intend to argue from that magazine. If you have any more Choate material, post away. Jesus said that ALL of the authority vested in the pagan trinities is vested in Him. Therefore, God does not need THREE PEOPLE to carry out all of His Works.

Rom Halbrook

There are three PERSONS in the Godhead: the Father, the Word or the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Godhead works in perfect harmony because each person fully SHARES the same divine nature. All three members of the Godhead were active in the creation of the universe (Gen. 1:1-2, 26; John 1:1-3). The miracles of Jesus were the deeds of deity, proving, “I and my Father are one . . . I am the Son of God . . . the Father is in me, and I in him.” The Jews properly understood that Jesus was claiming to be God in the flesh (John 10:22-38).

Harmony in the Godhead

Because of the harmony in the Godhead, what may be attributed to one may be attributed to the other , even though each member may perform some distinct part of the work spoken of. For instance, since each acted in the creation, we may properly recognize each as our Creator. Since each acted in providing our salvation, we may ascribe our salvation to each. Since each was involved in the origin and provision of the gospel, including the command of baptism, it may be properly said that we preach and practice baptism “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” To accept or reject baptism is to accept or reject “the counsel of God” because he commanded it (Luke 7:30). Also, Christ commanded it: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Also, the Holy Spirit revealed and commanded it, so that we are “born of the water and of the Spirit” (John 3:5). Truly, since baptism is in the name of Jesus Christ, it is in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

God forgive these people for they know not what they do or say for pay. At ALL levels of the "scholarly world" people believe that GODHEAD is to identify a god with three equal heads: that is the old paganism of a three-headed god. Godhead means "the divine nature." We, too, can have the divine nature but who but a disabled person would say that we are the ALMIGHTY because God makes His Sons rulers in His kingdom.

Theotes resides in me as a disciple but to define me as triplets would go further than my doctor dares to go.

[linked image]

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(no login)


February 27 2015, 3:54 AM 

Cherry-picking is a dangerous sport. You act as if someone slipped a couple of persimmons in your bucket. happy.gif

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Ken Sublett
(Login Ken.Sublett)

Re: TruthMagazine

February 27 2015, 12:32 PM 

The "fruit" we were picking were something that J. E. Choate wrote and seems to be lost except in parts. The folly of the people J. E. Choate warned about back beginning in the 50s is that they claim (as psychological violence) that the SPIRIT person now lives inside of their bodies.

The fact is that Halbrook failed to consider the immediate context or the quotation by Jesus. A son of a god is a god: but the son is not part of the "father" or Most High Jehovah Who caused him to be a god. A son of a father has a beginning and Jesus is called God's first born. The folly began when preachers began to claim that "a holy spirit person" lived inside of their bodies to tell them what Jesus WOULD have said if HE had attended the "School of the Doctors of the Law." Hey! It works: just tell people that you are inspired and most people can be fooled most of the time: that meets the budget.

When the Christian Churches left the Disciples terminated c 1971-1973 Leroy Garret was slipping in and working as "campus minister" so that J. E. Choate notes:

Herman Norton, distinguished Vanderbilt professor and Restoration historian wrote in his book Tennessee Christians (1971): that "If a definite date is needed to specify the time of the division within the Christian Church in Tennessee, October 6 and 26, 1890 must be considered." The first date marked the founding of the Tennessee Christian Missionary Society. No Organized societies and conventions had been a bone of contention among the Disciples dating from the establishment of the American Christian Missionary Society in 1848.

Churches of Christ were mostly centered in the state of Tennessee and joining counties: this was a PLUM and the Christian Standard sent an evangelist boasting "we will take Tennessee for the organ and society party within 5 years. The fact is that Churches of Christ existed in Tennessee before either Stone or Campbell. The INSTITUTIONAL NACC which represents itself like all organizations is still the Guiding Light of trying to infiltrate and "transistion" your congregation so we can be "united."

What Dr. Norton said in 1971 should be thought of as a primary fault line foretelling the major earthquake which tore apart the Christian Church following 1968.

Enter Jo Bass forced the Baptist views of G. E. Jones into the eldership as one of the earliest marks "women ruling over" attacks although I can remember the outbreak in Seattle in the 1960's where Roy Osburn boasted about burning all of his old sermons.

Neo-pentecostalism broke out in many of the liberal churches. In 1973 there was a shakeup at Highland church in Abilene. E. R. Harper, the preacher there when “Herald of Truth” started, and who along with Bro. Yater Tant conducted the first public debate on the issue, was fired and one of the elders, W. F. Cawyer, resigned. Others later resigned. There was “tongue speaking” in the church! Because of this, many hundreds of churches discontinued their support of “Herald of Truth”.

If someone tells you such as Jeanene Reese ACU that the NEW ORDER is in effect with a NEW PARADIGM you are supposed to run for cover. However, that would deny the statement that "many (most) are called (invited) but few (a tiny number, a Little Flock) are chosen or elected.

Their hated SECTARIAN RACA WORD calls Scripture a liar because Paul belonged to the SECT called the WAY. They way is the narrow road. Their WORKS-CENTERED effort to deny Scripture and history and become ECUMENICAL is the "fooled you, didn't I?" Marks for avoidance because Satan is the world ruler of the ecumenical.

Matt. 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
Matt. 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Matt. 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

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There are thousands of churches being taken over across America.

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Madison Church of Christ was a 60 year old church. At one time it was one of the largest churches in the US, and the largest Church of Christ.

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At the heart of the plan was the fact that old members were going to be driven off so new techniques could be used to go out and reach the unchurched through new "Contemporary Holy Entertainment" methods developed by the "Community Church Movement"

Old members had to be kept on board long enough to get their plans ready, or the funds would not be there to pay for the new building. So by the plans very nature, it had to be secret.

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10 Not so Godly Elders
120 "Deacons" (allegiance unknown)
2,800 - 4,000 church "members"
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Unknown number of "sinners" (This is what the 10 elders call us.)
Unknown number of "demons" (Flying everywhere, to many to count)

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