9. Beware the Lewd and Lascivious Man!Case History I
Other apostles, such as Jude and Peter, also recognized the nature of these false teachers: 'Ungodly persons who turn the grace of God into licentiousness . . . following their own ungodly lusts' (Jude 4, 19); 'creatures of instinct having eyes full of adultery, that never cease from sin ... promising freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption' (2 Peter 2:12-19). If these practices occurred in the early church when the believers were so attuned to the working of the Holy Spirit (despite the hyped up claims of the so-called charismatics of today) we should not be surprised that it occurs today. There are no new deceptions - merely the re-hashing of old heresies.
When hypocritical leaders preach sermons that contradict their own behaviour can we really believe that it is right to sit on our hands and do nothing? Unclean thoughts and lewd behaviour in the church, with ministers indulging in flirtatious comments amongst the weaker women, have often paved the way for the actual deed. How many Christians have watched a leader in the church sitting during a 'counselling session,' perhaps in a corner of the building, holding hands with a woman - you may even have heard it said: 'that is the Holy Spirit at work!' The next thing you know they have run off together, abandoning their families and you're reading about the scandal in the national media! In recent years deceivers such as the 'Reverend' Holmes, self-proclaimed 'Knicker Vicar of North Yorkshire,' has become just one of a succession of runaway bishops and adulterous vicars forming the staple diet for today's tabloid newspapers. Holmes shamelessly gained further notoriety in the press when the press came to interview him and he used his new notoriety to openly 'flirt' with the female interviewer. Sheffield became notorious because of so-called 'Evening Services' run by 'Reverend' Chris Brain who allowed blatant, licentious behavior, such as 'topless dancing,' which was tolerated for some time by the weak and vacillating leadership of the Church of England. Scripture warns clearly: 'Immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you' (Ephesians 5:3). Practicing homosexuals and lesbians are encouraged by the Anglican leadership and, in the Cardiff area, we have our own local heretic, John Henson of Pontypridd, claiming that the Lord Jesus Christ installed other 'communions' with God among these perverts in an attempt to justify his encouragement of homosexual ordinations. Scripture is clear on these deceptions: 'Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God' (Ephesians 5:5).
10. Beware the Liar who pretends to be a Joker!
We are warned in Scripture: 'The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9). It comes as a shock to many Christians to find that the man they had put up on a pedestal is an unmitigated liar. Unless the Christian surrenders totally to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and is thoroughly cleansed by the blood of Jesus, he will find the 'Old Adam' raising his ugly head again and again. I am amazed by the way in which 'conforming to the world' is accepted in the church today. I can remember going into churches before I became a Christian and recognising that people were in reverent awe of their God. I did not know this One True God then but, over the past 20-30 years, the ways of the world have replaced the holy fear of the Almighty and made many places of worship little more than social clubs where you can meet on Sundays and then again, perhaps, once during the week you can meet to discuss your amalgamation of wrong views on God and the Bible. We have the equivalent of 'the fat man in the pub' theology, where a resident can air his personal views (no matter about the accuracy of the speculation) and thus detrimentally influence the spiritual life of a portion of the church. We sometimes call these 'house groups' or 'Bible studies.' Don't think that things are necessarily different in the cults, for I found the same to be true in the Mormon church and well remember the reaction of a large part of their 'priesthood' meeting as they rejected the advice of the current prophet of the time, Spencer W. Kimball, who suggested that card-playing was spiritually dangerous because it could lead to a gambling habit!
A short while ago I attended an Assemblies of God meeting in Cardiff and the 'pastor' advised everyone to follow his sermon in the Bible: 'If you haven't got a Bible, get one. If you can't afford one, go to a hotel and steal a Gideon's Bible - it's easier to get forgiveness than to get permission!' Yes, there were gasps in the congregation, but they were more of admiration at the audacious 'humour' of their speaker and exceeded by the laughter at this 'grand' entertainment. There is no reason not to use most of the range of human emotions in a sermon in order to illustrate points, but there is no Scriptural precedent for a 'man of God' being 'entertaining' or 'funny' at the expense of truth and sensitivity to other members of the body - and non-Christians who may be present (1 Corinthians 11:17-22; 14:20-25).
One of my abiding memories of one of the biggest liars I've ever met in a church, Kevin Tugwell of the Elim Pentecostal denomination, resulted from a 'joke' he aimed at his elderly father, who was hard of hearing, while speaking from the platform at the beginning of a service. Kevin would always strive to be the centre of attention and, when his father laughed good-naturedly, with many others in the congregation at one of the 'jokey' comments, Kevin added, 'He's laughing - he can't hear a word I'm saying, the poor old fool!' Honour your father and mother?' (Exodus 20:12). This is a very serious matter and reflected the serious problems this 'pastor/evangelist' inflicted upon the churches in which he was involved.
Tugwell would regularly exaggerate over any particle of fact to hold an audience or remain in the spotlight and one day gave me this account of deception, which he claimed occurred in a church in nearby Barry. Kevin said that he visited the church on one occasion and was introduced to a couple who were, according to their pastor, the "leading counsellors" of that church. Kevin thought that he had met the two before but took some time to "place the faces." Then, he claimed, it dawned on him who they were and he accused them to their faces: "I know you two - you're Moonies." According to his account they readily admitted it, and Kevin claims he said, "You're coming with me," and he drove them back to Cardiff. According to Tugwell that was the end of the story. It was clear that he knew little about the cults, and it became more apparent as we got to know him that he really believed that this was the kind of 'infiltration' that the Moonies practice. At the same time that he sought kudos through his own experiences he would mock counter-cult and 'watchtower' ministries.
When we allow another person to be deceived by telling a small lie, exaggerating, or by telling only a part of the truth, we reach the point where lying does not offend the conscience and it becomes a tool that you use to promote yourself, or to get yourself out of difficulty, and truth gradually becomes unimportant to you. I remember Tugwell informing me that he had experience of 'deliverance ministry' (popularly known as exorcism, or 'driving out demons'). I probed him for more details of his experience and he admitted that he had been 'called out to numerous supposed cases but had found nothing in them.' Receiving no useful advice from him, Iater that same year another pastor advised me to 'phone a minister in Merthyr Tydfil, Steve Morgan, with a view to getting help for a lady in the Barry area who specifically requested his help. Reverend Morgan made it clear that his work-load was "full" and asked if someone in the Cardiff area could do the work. I asked him who he would suggest and he recommended Kevin Tugwell!
We had joined 'Tugwell's church', and I call it this because it quickly became clear that it was a vehicle for his ego-trips, after it had been running for some months. We found out in retrospect that Kevin had installed his best friend, and organiser of his 'Kevin Tugwell Evangelistic Ministries,' Roy Warne, as the elder, and his brother, Robert, as the deacon of the church. Can anyone find Scripture to support this dangerous precedent? It was no accident that the Mormon 'prophet' Joseph Smith started his church with his brothers and best friends - and the rest is history! Kevin had also visited my wife at our house while trying to 'drum up business' for his new church, and told her that 'you may hear some people call me a heretic.' Why would any Christian leader share this without elaborating? We prayed earnestly about joining this new church on our doorstep and the Lord told us that we would learn many things from joining this denomination! Although we always prefer to minister in the locality, where you can more easily be a good neighbour to people who know you, Cardiff is a small city and you don't need to travel too far to fellowship. But, soon after, we were asked to be involved by Kevin Tugwell (and our previous church, Calvary Baptist in Cowbridge Road East, released us with their blessing) and he quickly installed me as Youth Leader and Counsellor with an accompanying Elim anointing. I did not seek either of these appointments. Kevin told us that he had received 'prophetic' words from two sources, one a woman in the USA, which instructed him to seek out the biggest building on the Llanishen side of the River Taff in Cardiff. I spent some hours with Tugwell as he drove around the area looking at massive industrial buildings while he regaled me with stories of miraculous acquisitions of land on which other churches had been founded. It quickly became clear that these 'false prophecies' were being used to another end.
11. Beware 'minor' inconsistencies in doctrine that hide heresy
We began to notice glaring inconsistencies in his stories and doctrinal absences from his ministry that were of great concern to us - particularly his inability to preach on continuing repentance and sanctification. It was clear that the new pastor had other problems and was easily angered when questioned about the problems in his ministry. Kevin regularly stated in his sermons: "I never ask the Lord to humble me because God always humbles in judgement." This is also un-Scriptural as we can read in many places:
2 Chronicles 7:14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Job 22:29 "When you are cast down, you will speak with confidence And the humble person He will save.
Job 40:12 "Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him; And tread down the wicked where they stand.
Psalms 25:9 He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.
Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.
Isaiah 66:2 "For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD. "But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Luke 1:52 "He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. Jas 4:6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE."
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,
Failure to humble yourself and demonstrating pride before Almighty God results in a leader and a church that has difficulty in recognising the need to repent - and allows the leader to impart his ego-trip on the flock, for his arrogance will never bring about real repentance even though he might appear to be remorseful. Kevin often claimed that 'New Life Church' was preaching the "full gospel" and repeatedly quoted: "Preaching, teaching and healing," - but he became very obviously red-faced with anger when my wife, Zoë, added - "And casting out demons." Early in our experience with Tugwell, Zoë used to make visits to his house, when she attempted to share the things God was showing her about the church. When she returned crying, after one meeting with him, I found out that our new pastor had made the disgraceful suggestion that the relationship that she had with her previous pastor was of a sexual nature! I spoke to him about his actions and he made the excuse that some pastors had been compromised by meeting alone with women and had to throw chairs through windows to escape their advances! The fact that his wife was in the house when Zoë visited him made his excuse all the more pathetic. I made it clear that I would not let him speak with her alone again. I had earlier shared with him that Zoë had the gift of prophecy, but I did not tell him that she also had the gift of 'discernment of spirits' - and God had clearly shown her the spirits that controlled him.
12. Beware the proud, jealous, and covetous man
Part of Kevin's testimony was that he used to mimic an evangelist he admired, even wearing the same style of polo-neck sweaters as the man, and he described how he would pose with his Bible proudly under his arm as he set off for the City Temple. Amazingly, for a man of mature years, he would talk in an awed whisper of recently going up to London and 'strutting through the streets, really feeling like someone.' Truly, pride will be used only by Satan, for 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble' and 'When pride comes, then comes dishonour, But with the humble is wisdom.' Sadly, it was also his habit to go into stores in town and try out clothes and test furniture that he knew he and his wife could never afford. Coveting also leads to disastrous jealousy of those who have the possessions you desire, and I remember the look of disgust on his face and how he was, for once, speechless when he learned that we had won a washer-drier in a Prize Draw for which we were automatically entered by Barclays Bank. When two ladies in the church revealed with joy that, before this prize was announced, they had been praying that Zoë would get some assistance with the enormous piles of laundry that our household produced, he was even more helpless. Pride and jealousy can lead to a destructive spiral.
Early in the church we were given the privilege of running a Sunday morning service in Kevin's absence and this included the communion service. Friends who visited the church had enquired after the meaning of the 'Holy Huddle' - as they put it. The pattern that Kevin had instigated was for the men to gather around the table which held the bread and wine and then to link themselves together over the table by placing their arms over each others shoulders. Since this caused the men to lean forward so that they were almost looking at the floor the prayers for the 'elements' were then spoken inside the circle of men so that it made it very difficult for those seated to hear much of what was said and the remembrance service thus became more a strange 'men's priesthood,' reminiscent of my time in the Mormon's, than a time of sharing. This was so alien to us that we organised our communion service in the manner of the open prayer and distribution of bread and wine which is common in most non-conformist churches in Britain. However, little did we know what 'a red rag to a bull' this little change to the service would make. On Kevin's return he called a special meeting for the mid-week in which he had drawn a 'map' of the very position of the chairs and the manner in which communion service was to be held! Clearly we had disturbed his little ego-trip in making this simple change to what he had made a perplexing ritual, instead of a time of remembrance and unity.
Kevin had given his opinion of his position in the church in an earlier sermon when he claimed: "I have been told that I am in the top ten of the Satanic prayer list. Well I'm glad - because it means they are frightened of me." Astoundingly vain, and dangerous, boasting! Nobody is frightened of Kevin Tugwell, least of all Satan or Satanists, for he has been on Satan's tread-wheel, being used to damage and destroy church after church. Again, during a sermon ("Mankind's Search For Peace," Nov. 26th, 1989) he became carried away with his own cleverness: "Some people say that the time is short before the Anti-Christ comes into the world; but this preacher does not say the time is short. This preacher says that the Anti-Christ - not the spirit of anti-Christ - is in the world NOW and perhaps involved in politics even NOW." Of course, he thought that he was safe from detection and could lightly disguise this 'prophecy' or 'word of knowledge' because how can this be proven?
13. Beware the man who uses the weak as pawns
I had sought no position in the church and continued to pray that God would show us what to do. Since I had been appointed 'counsellor' to the church by Kevin Tugwell, with the laying on of hands at an 'official' Elim ceremony, I had been meeting with an older member of the 'youth' group, Nick, to try and deal with his relational problems. He was 23 years old at the time and was preying on the 16-17 year old girls in the church. His problems were easy enough to recognise because he was disrupting the youth of the church, who met under my leadership (and Tugwell's title of 'Koinonia'), by setting people up against each other by obvious - and blatant - lies and ploys. When I told 'Pastor' Tugwell that I was trying to deal with the problem I was not only keeping him in the picture, but also seeking his advice to see what was real about him! He told me that he wouldn't bother with the boy! Tugwell's son had told the other youth members that his family were not allowed to fellowship closely with Nick but, when I asked Tugwell if this was true, he denied it!
When I informed him of other relational problems in the church his opinion had been blunt: 'I wouldn't bother to see them - if they've got a problem they should come and see me!' This was the first I had heard of the sheep being expected to drag themselves free from the thorns and go and find the shepherd! (Matthew 18:12-13; Luke 15:4-7; John 10:7-18). The problem with deceiving shepherds is the same as in Jeremiah's day, and the inspired prophet wrote (Jeremiah 50:6):
"My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; They have gone along from mountain to hill And have forgotten their resting place.
Kevin next informed me that Nick had been a trouble-maker in his previous church and, in his opinion, had 'two demons.' Several weeks later, when I informed him that I was no longer allowing Nick to fellowship with my family he said he would support me in whatever decision I made. He also repeated that he would not have spent the time with Nick that I had - in other words Kevin had already written him off without spending any time with him - but he then told me that he now considered that Nick was "mentally ill" and that 'he wouldn't be surprised if one day he attacked someone!' This was another astonishing contradiction, but worse was to come.
A short while later Kevin embarked on an evangelistic tour of the USA and, while he was abroad, the problems with this young man multiplied to the point where we had to ask the remaining elder, Roy Warne, if we could hold a prayer meeting with the rest of the youth in the church after the evening service in order to seek God's direction over the problem. Seven people attended the meeting, including four of the youth and Nick, who had just returned from 'Spring Harvest' (a series of multi-denominational Christian meetings held annually in April around Britain) where the other youth declared that 'something evil' had manifested in him. Nick had obviously experienced something frightening but was still not being honest and stood up in the evening service to give an account of their experiences. He was definitely aware that something unusual had occurred and, although he couldn't explain it, he did not attempt to say that anyone present had imagined what happened. Furthermore, he claimed that he was in 'real fear' himself, even wondering what his fate would be if their car crashed on the way back - would he go to Hell for eternity, for he admitted that he hadn't made a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. I found out later, from interviewing the other members, that the account he gave was a "tailored version" which omitted many other factors.
I questioned Nick again about his possible previous involvements with the occult and he was very devious in his answers. There was another incident that Nick failed to mention, concerning the car journey home from Spring Harvest, because it showed him in a bad light, and it was clear that he had rushed to give his version of events before anyone else could speak so that people would tend to remember what he said. This was consistent with his subsequent behaviour, for if you spent a lot of time with him it was easy to catch him out in lies and contradictions and detect the ways in which he constantly set people up against each other. He repeated this behaviour even after I told him that, because he rejected Jesus as Lord and Saviour and his behaviour clearly showed that he was not a Christian, he could no longer fellowship with my family. This was done Scripturally, but we knew he would promptly seek allies from weaker members of the church - and the man who was most akin to him, 'pastor' Kevin Tugwell.