Rolfe Barnard's Tape Ministry came out with this statement that I just ran across this morning while looking at their page:There is a group in Texas called “The Church of Wells.” We at the ROLFE BARNARD LIBRARY are in no way affiliated with this group that has a mixture of truth with many cult-like tendencies. For some reason they have “fallen in love” with the ministry of our late Evangelist ROLFE BARNARD, but we do not flinch to assure you that BARNARD and his ministry was nothing like “The Church of Wells.” We repudiate them and their use of our Brother Barnard’s sermons and ministry. We personally knew Rolfe Barnard — and can assure you the three young men who have started this “church” in Wells, Texas are not of the same spiritual class as Barnard and Spurgeon and Edwards, and others they claim to have affinity with. We are not in sympathy with “The Church of Wells,” and if you do a little research on the Internet you can surely understand WHY. They have no right to incorporate the ministry of THE ROLFE BARNARD LIBRARY into their very doubtful and unorthodox message and methods. We reject you, “Church of Wells,” as UNSOUND and definitely destroying the lives of young people with your dictatorial and deceitful methods!"THERE IS ONLY ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS" — and these three young men in Wells, Texas, who are standing between souls and God are blatant DECEIVERS! May God deliver those who are caught in their web.— Larry Howell and Wylie Fultonhttp://www.sermonaudio.com/new_details3.asp?ID=72968
_________________SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
Excellent quote bro Greg. I would like to remind all that no one has accused these young men of heresy. There is a difference between heresy and being a cult. It was mentioned that some of their group protested inside or outside of Joel Olsteen's church. They also protested outside of Times Square Church whom they consider to be not Christian..........bro Frank
Hi brother Frank, To answer your question, I'm not a member or affiliated at all with the church of wells.It was your post that made me aware that this group exist and just because personally I don't believe they are a cult, doesn't mean that I'm on their side.I appreciate what Greg and others here have posted about them, there is definitly something wrong with this group that has been disassociated by some godly ministries that we hold in high esteem.After doing some more research about their beliefs and practices, I found that there so called Doctrine of Judgment they are erring in the what they call familial division and familial idolatry. For them seperation from their unsaved parents or family includes not only a spiritual seperation but a physical separation too and the only contact they are to have with their unsaved parents is only in case when they have an opportunity to witness to them the gosple. At least this is what I understood from reading about their teaching of familial division and familial idiolatry.Their interpretation and application of Luke 14:26 is not biblical, "If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and children, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." From the spiritual point of view I agree that when we are born again,a spiritual division has already taken place with the rest of the family members that are not saved and Christ calls us to follow him and obey his word even though this may bring us to conflict with our parents or family. We are bought with the precious blood He shed for us on the Cross and our life belongs to him and he should be our Lord and Master.The terms of descipleship are clear in the gospel and we are called to deny our self, take up the cross and follow our Lord. The leaders of The Church of Wells err or go astray when they make it a rule for their church members to cut off all contact with parents or family members that are unsaved and the only communication they can have with them is only to witness the gospel.This is unbiblical and an extreme measure and I see where they err because one of the commandments of God is to honor our father and mother (Exodus 20:12) and Paul too exhorted believers the same thing (Ephesians 6:1-3). In Jeremiah 35:18-19 those who honor their parents are blessed. In Romans 1:30 and 2Timothy 3:2, those who are of depraved mind and those who exhibit ungodliness are characterized by disobedience to their parents. It is only when our parents demand or ask us to do something that is in contradiction with God's will that we should not obey them.This is one of their doctrinal errors that I found in their so called Doctrine of Judgment and particularly when they teach about familial division and familial idiolotry. May God open their spiritual eyes in this matter.All that said, should we characterize them as a cult? Their Manifesto and Statement of faith is evangelical and biblical. I have read about the testimonies of their elders and they seem to be sincere about their convertion and being born again. They are zealous to preach the gosple and fervent in prayer and in the study of the bible, they shun worldly amusements and entertainments. They are passionate about revival and they honor godly men like the Scottish Reformers/Covenanters, Puritans, early Evangelicals of 18th century, Revivalists and men of God like A.W.Tozer and Leonard Ravenhill who were a voice from God in the Church.From my understanding it seems like they are sincere in their convictions. Its true that our fellowship should be only in the light and in the family of God because friendship with the world is enmity against God but that does not necessarily mean physical separation from unsaved family members.I'm trying to rightly divide the Word of God and be as objective as I can in this matter. Do I believe that they are a cult? I don't, even though they have some tendencies that ressable a cultish group, like being exclusive and isolated etc. Their commitment to the Gosple, their desire to follow apostolic Christianity in my personal judgment or discernment excludes them from being a cult.
Hi brother Reddi,One of the classic signs of being a cult is a denial that one is saved by faith alone. Whether its Mormons or Jehovah's witnesses or even the Catholic Church, whether by doctrine or by practice or by over-arching and over-reaching authority, it is clearly laid down by these groups, and that would include the group from Wells, that unless you follow their practices and advice, then you will not get your salvation. Brother Greg and I both have personal experience with these young men and certain people within this group, and the cutting off of families is tragic. Of course I agree that if our families reject us because we become Christians then that is their choice and we cannot change who we are because family members disagree. That is one thing and that is Biblical, it is quite another thing and cultish, to cut off all meaningful communications with any family members who do not agree with our Christianity. Believe me when I tell you that these young leaders are bound and chained by works, those works being reading the Bible for several hours a day and praying for several hours and so on. Of course reading one's Bible and praying is a beautiful thing, but when that is turned into a work and by that work a person is measured and then rejected if one does not measure up, then it has become a snare and a chain with which to bind, classic religiosity and classic cultish behavior. We see similiar traits with the Amish and other groups like it whereby if one does not conform completely to their system then they are shunned by the community and this shunning is the punishment, the snare, the chain that keeps the people imprisoned. A genuine faith and walk with Jesus is a beautiful thing which brings much joy and love and peace, He who the Son sets free is free indeed, not snared by the chains of men and their own rules. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Gal 5:4)One time I had to witness some of these young people crawl under pews on their bellies because they were " vile worms." It is quite a thing to compete with one another to prove who is the vilest and somehow turn that into a virtue. The one leader that I spoke to, for several hours, became completely unglued because I spoke of the love of God, and how much He loves us and how many were His thoughts towards us and how we were children of the living God and what a joyous thing that was. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, there is freedom, there is joy and peace and love and security. The young leader had no answer to that and blamed his confusion on a lack of sleep, having not read his Bible for the obligatory several hours that day and not having prayed enough. In a house I was staying at were several leaders and speakers from various backgrounds, elders and mature saints that Greg had invited to speak at one of his conferences, many would know the names and their sermons are included on SI. This young "leader" could not accept that any of us in that house were even Christians and refused to pray with us. Very sad situation.................bro Frank
Thanks brother for shedding more light in this matter. I understand better their position, it seems like they are under the law and not grace, even though they use the language of grace and of the gospel. Jesus came to set us free and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace etc. I hope and pray that God will set them free by his truth and deliver them from legalism and the judgmental spirit.
A while back I studied this group in much detail and I would say that they do indeed have some heretical teachings. I don't have time right now to go into detail but will try later on if I get a chance. But I would agree with elected that much of what they do and teach is biblical. To me it seems that the three elders may be true believers who have been misled and fallen into some serious errors in their beliefs and practices. May God break through to them and bring them to repentance.
After reading this thread a question came to me, "How could this have happened?" I know the wife of one of these leaders - she was/is a sweet girl; I have met her family. They were sincere in their zeal of doing God's work.Then I read Redi's post and he suggested that legalism and a judgmental spirit pervaded their ranks and took over. Given the fact that we are called to discernment, to identify the wiles of the devil and work to disable these, how can one do it before sinking into legalism? As I muse on this issue an answer is emerging but would love to hear your take on this question.Sandra
So I live just a couple miles (19 miles to be exact) from these guys and have had the opportunity to engage with them.Here are a couple of Observations:1) They are generally very grounded in the scriptures, although not necessarily proper application.2) Their strategy is largely based on a person's lack of knowledge of what the bible actually says.3) On one particular encounter, I talked to 2 of the guys after I told them I liked the verse written on their SUV. One of the guys I got along with well. After really grilling me about where I stood with the Lord, he decided that he believed I was genuinely a brother, but wanted me to join their church. He anticipated that I, like many other believers, longed for a better, deeper, more full form of fellowship than just going to church. The other guy, standing right next to him, clearly didn't agree with him and spent the rest of our conversation trying to use various scriptures, logic, and my lack of perfection to convince me that I actually was not saved.I believe this is a pretty clear strategy. Appeal to those who are lost or confused by convincing them they aren't saved. If that doesn't work and they appear to be mature, appeal to the lack of real, godly fellowship in the American church and offer that. Taking either bait is a victory for them.4) This church is led by young men who are very zealous for their way of thinking and do not allow that they could be doctrinally wrong or doctrinally immature in ANY area. Their are no real "elders" there as far as age is concerned, from what I can see. There are older people, but I haven't seen them in authority (which they should be in authority in my opinion).Those are just some observations.I do believe we have bretheren who go to the Church of Wells, but I believe they've been tricked by the enemy into going. However, I am NOT convinced that they share the true Gospel, because no matter how much I pleaded with some of those guys that I have cast myself upon Jesus and believe on Him for my salvation--I was unsaved in their eyes. Apparantely I needed Jesus + the Church of Wells.
Excellent observations havok. ............."I am NOT convinced that they share the true Gospel, because no matter how much I pleaded with some of those guys that I have cast myself upon Jesus and believe on Him for my salvation--I was unsaved in their eyes. Apparantely I needed Jesus + the Church of Wells." Totally agree with those sentiments...............bro Frank
Besides their extreme views on discipleship, the following are a few other errors they believe and teach (they share those views in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0Mvdg3kUMc):1. The Church of Jesus Christ has been under God’s curse for the past 2,000 years and only a very small number of true Christians have survived the general great apostasy. The leaders of the Church of Wells denounce even many solid and sound churches that have not apostatized. This is typical of many cults. They take the truth and reality of God’s remnant to an extreme. 2. One can be a saved born again Christian and indwelt by the Holy Spirit while simultaneously be under God’s eternal wrath if they are in a state of backsliding and willful sinning. Saved born again/Spirit-indwelt Christians can be dead in sin and walk in spiritual darkness and therefore on their way to hell unless they repent. If those saved born again Christians who are in this supposed state of spiritual death and darkness continue to refuse to repent of their backslidings, they can come to a point where they become “reprobated”, which means they can no longer repent; they have no more hope of being delivered from God’s eternal wrath in hell. But how can one presently be saved and born again/regenerate and indwelt by the Spirit of God while at the same time be on their way to hell? It doesn’t make any sense. Yet this is what the Church of Wells clearly teaches. They do not equate being saved/born again/Spirit-indwelt with being saved from hell. Imo that is a weird and heretical teaching that I’ve never heard of before from anyone else. They use this heretical teaching to try to confuse new believers and convince them that they may be on their way to hell(though they may be saved/born again) unless they adhere to the Church of Wells’ teachings. 3.(closely related to point #2) In order to be completely saved from God’s eternal wrath and maintain that state of salvation one must be in a state of grace in which one does not sin willfully or knowingly. My comments: True believers can and do indeed sin willfully and knowingly at times yet they are still saved through the blood of the Lamb. Yes, they will be convicted of their sin and repent if they are truly saved, but they will not be completely without known or willful sin in this life. They base this teaching on Hebrews 10:26 which says that if we go on sinning willfully there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. However, the context of that passage is dealing with rejecting the gospel and relying on keeping the Mosaic Law for salvation. This teaching of theirs easily leads one to look to their own performance and law-keeping for salvation instead of looking to and trusting in Christ alone and His finished work on the cross.Again, this group preys on new believers who are not that rooted and grounded in their faith, in sound doctrine. Another interesting thing is that they are KJV-only ; not saying that that is heretical in itself, but it’s interesting to note that there are quite a few cults out there that are KJV-only.