Paul's Passing Thoughts

Holy Schmoly…Who Needs Holiness When You Have Authority?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on January 5, 2017

afshin-ziafatAfshin Ziafat holds the title of “lead” pastor and “elder” of Providence Church in Frisco, TX. He was part of a panel discussion along with Conrad Mbewe, John Folmar, and moderated by Kevin DeYoung at the 2016 Cross Conference in Indianapolis, IN. The clip below is an excerpt from that discussion. It happens pretty early on. There are several examples I could have used, but this particular exchange really caught my attention.

Here is a transcript of the above video clip.

KEVIN DEYOUNG: So let’s talk about some of these terms that are often given to describe church. This is sort of Ecclesiology, the study of Church 101. So sometimes there is a reference made to the four attributes of the church. One, holy, catholic, apostolic church. So just jump in who wants to just, 30 seconds, what does it mean, “one church”?

JOHN FOLMAR: Unified in the gospel. United to Christ by the power of the Spirit, and thus united to one another.

DEYOUNG: Okay. So Ephesians 4, there is one spirit, one body, one Lord, one baptism. What about “holy”? Afshin?

AFSHIN ZIAFAT: Um, I’m not sure exactly what you’re wanting from that.


I’m not the smartest person in the world, and granted, as I go back and read the transcript, DeYoung doesn’t do a very good job at articulating what he’s asking, but even I understand the question. DeYoung wants to know what it means when we say the church is holy.

Yet here is a man who is supposed to have an academic and theological pedigree which supposedly qualifies him to sit on this panel of “experts”.  Here is a man who is supposedly responsible for the “sheperding” of hundreds if not thousands of people every week.  Here is a man to whom a room full of young people are looking for guidance and direction, a man whom people are supposed to submit to his “authority”.  And yet Ziafat says he’s not sure what DeYoung is wanting?  Does he mean he does not know what it means to say the church is “holy”, or does he not even know the definition of holy?  I am beyond incredulous!

Like I said, I am not the smartest person in the world- I didn’t go to seminary, and I am not the pastor of a church of thousands. I did however give a session on the definition of holiness back at the 2014 TANC conference. Perhaps Mr. Ziafat might find it useful. Here are the links to those sessions.

TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 1
TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 2
TANC 2014 – Andy Young, Session 3

Now let’s look at the remainder of the transcript:

(ZIAFAT CONTINUING) But I would say just, you know, the fact that, if I may couple with what [FOLMAR] just said, the need for you to be in the church to be shepherded, because, as I see, you know, one catholic church, but yet there’s a need for the local church that you are involved in actually being cared for. Because from the very beginning God is known as a shepherd and His people the sheep of His pasture and Jesus taught His disciples how to shepherd and Peter tells fellow elders that you are to shepherd the flock of God among you. So all that to say, I would tell [the audience] that if they are not in a local church, that’s God’s setup for how He as the shepherd is gonna shepherd them through under-shepherds. And so I think that they need to be in that local church.

Ziafat never answers the question with respect to holiness. Instead he does what politicians do when there is a question they don’t want to answer. They try to distract you by rambling on and on over talking points that you would want to hear, hoping to impress you with their verbosity, all the while saying nothing of any substance. (Donald Trump did this very effectively during the last election campaign.)

But notice what he does choose to talk about: the authority of the church in the lives of Christians. “…the need for you to be in the church to be shepherded…”, “…need for…actually being cared for…”, a local church is how God is “gonna shepherd them through under-shepherds…”, “…they need to be in that local church.” Authority, authority, authority.

I am not the only one who notices that Ziafat doesn’t answer the question. DeYoung realized it too. But rather than put him on the spot, he bails him out by actually answering the question for him. I mean, these guys have to stick together, right?

DEYOUNG: Right, for the accountability, for, you know, if the leaders of the church are accountable before God for their people you need to have some kind of membership, or to whom or for whom are they accountable, and that holy aspect is called out ones out from the world into this fellowship, shepherded, guided…

This is just one example of how these guys perceive themselves and you. You need to be shepherded for your own good. I am reminded once again of what John Immel said at the 2012 TANC conference regarding the metaphysical assumptions of reformed theology – man is fundamentally incompetent to be able to comprehend truth and know good; he therefore needs have good dictated to him; that dictated good is accomplished by the institutional church through divine mediators who presume to stand in God’s stead. And this is all done under the pretense of being done for your own good, since you poor schlubs don’t know any better.

This was the tenor of this entire panel discussion, that we should just be so thankful that we have these “godly” men to guide us poor incompetent masses though our ignorance, and we should just listen to them so that we don’t screw up our lives. I find such arrogance and condescension appalling, especially since these men are such intellectual pinheads who couldn’t come up with an original thought among the four of them to save their lives. They are simply regurgitating what they themselves have been taught. That much is obvious from this example.

~ Andy

5 Responses

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  1. John said, on January 5, 2017 at 4:16 PM

    Oh. My. Word. The clip is unforgivably cringeworthy. Well, that’s the feeling I get every time I hear false teachers/preachers and deceivers try to peddle and try to defend their false, man-made gospel. (What does “gospel” mean to these guys, anyway?)

    Yes, Andy, I’m with you: I’m also not the smartest person in the world (my future girlfriend will disagree), but at least I would have tried to answer DeYoung’s question without making us look even bigger fools than we already are (that possible?) by saying something like,

    “Here comes Johnny singing oldies, goldies
    Be-Bop-A-Lula, Baby, What I Say?”

    Yes, I know it’s meaningless, but it would have been an answer…some kind of an answer. But no, Mr Confused False Teacher from Texas jumps to authority, the only thing he can think of, because during his seminary indoctrination (CA?), some words were probably grouped together (a trick those other deceivers called hypnotists supposedly use). Uh, let’s see: church, authority, holy, untouchable, believable…church, authority, holy, untouchable, believable, fool.

    Cringeworthy. And long it may continue to be just so foolish, so that people can see these “godly” men for what they are…workers of iniquity.


  2. steeliedave said, on January 15, 2017 at 8:43 AM

    Mmk. Speaking of “authority” try this one on for size. Another “conversion” story and look what the linchpin was for this man making the leap to death…he just didn’t trust his own reasoning. He needed an authority to submit to. It’s like he was looking for an accident to get involved in or something. Maybe some crazy metaphysical death wish…. Here’s the link. Read at the risk of your own outrage at the sheeple who commented after….

    Theron’s Story: Why I Left Evangelicalism for Eastern Orthodoxy –


    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 15, 2017 at 9:39 AM

      What caught my attention was not just the appeal to authority but also the use of coercive force to enforce its orthodoxy.

      “I begin sharing stories of Orthodox priests I knew in Romania who would threaten the children attending evangelical AWANA clubs, even vowing to “cut off their fingers.” When I ask his opinion regarding this persecution of Baptists, he looks surprised and calls the priests’ actions “exaggerated.” He refuses to condone such behavior, but at the same time, he sympathizes with their need to “defend” the faith. “They probably view Baptists like you and I would view Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are people coming to their country and ‘destroying the faith,’ so they will do anything possible to defend it. I can see where that mindset comes from.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Andy Young, PPT contributing editor said, on January 15, 2017 at 11:00 AM

      In either case, whether it is Baptist or Eastern Orthodox or you name it, notice the progression of thought. It begins with mass incompetence. Man’s depravity. Because man is metaphysically unable to know truth he is therefore epistemologically disqualified from being able to make a correct assertation of truth. Notice Theron’s statement:

      “I felt I was flying by the seat of my pants as a Christian. I would read Scripture and come to conclusions myself. At some point, I felt I had to submit myself to some authority outside of myself.”

      He has bought into the assumption that he is not qualified to make a reasoned decision regarding truth, so he has relegated this decision to some authority. The irony is that what that “authority” is is completely subjective. He is still the one choosing which “authority” rules his life. So who is ultimately to decide which “authority” is the correct one? It comes down to whichever one has the biggest stick, or which one is the most aggressive in its abillity to use force to compel others into compliance. This is always the end result of this progression of thought: a force that must compel dictated good in the name of God or “allah” or “buddha” or whoever.

      Liked by 1 person

      • steeliedave said, on January 15, 2017 at 12:15 PM

        Obviously the irony is missed because of the modality they willingly choose to accept even when the truth is obvious, ie they are autonomous and therefore able to make a choice. It was his assumptions that created the hole his mind was reaching out for and his programming which could full the void. It is incestuous to me. It doesn’t even seem to enter their faculties that there may even be another way, a way of true freedom, the way which Christ gave us. Co-regents; a heavenly citizenry of kings and priests. Autonomy and competence as it should be.


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