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The great pretenders: Look who is infiltrating the church

How did an atheist end up as president of the student union at a Christian College? Photo Northwestern Christian University: Google Earth

How did an atheist end up as president of the student union at a Christian College? Photo Northwest Christian University: Google Earth

It shouldn’t surprise us. The Apostle Paul warned this would happen a couple of centuries earlier.

The Apostle Paul was on his way to Jerusalem and in what was his last good-bye to the elders of Ephesus, Paul charged them to watch for wolves who would try to infiltrate the church (Acts 20:17-38). Jesus made the same warning, though He was a bit more descriptive describing them as wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing (Mathew 7:15a NASV)

Wolves disguised as sheep. It is not something believers in the West understand. But Christians in communist and muslim countries are always on their guard as governments and religious extremists purposefully try to infiltrate churches with their agents. These are the wolves being referred to by Jesus and Paul.

But it appears infiltration of Christian churches and groups is happening in the West — though on a smaller scale and perhaps not at the level of maliciousness Paul and Jesus talked about, but who knows?

In her article Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing Actively Working in Pentecostal Church on Charisma News, Jennifer LeClaire writes of an atheistic plan – called The Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing Project — purposefully setup to infiltrate Christian churches. On their website, an anonymous writer describes the project this way:

“social and psychological experiment where myself and a friend integrate ourselves into a highly conservative religious community without informing the community that we are skeptics. In fact, not only is that information left out, but during our time there we worship, discuss the truth of the Bible with congregants, and otherwise fully take part as conservative believers.”

At this point, it has only two members who have infiltrated a pentecostal church. The person working on the website said at one time he served in a leadership role in a pentecostal church having actually taught. But it puzzles me why he now finds it necessary to infiltrate a church. It smacks of dishonesty as the writer says “we are there to present ourselves as radical men of faith.” But the bigger question is what really motivates them.

As for their “official” reasons, they list five goals for the project. There were a couple suggesting they would receive a better understanding of the Christian culture, though having been involved in a Pentecostal church already I am not sure why this is necessary.

But a couple of other ones caught my attention. Number three states they plan to develop a relationship with people in the church and then watch their reactions when a year or so down the road the two supposedly fall away from the faith.

The fifth states:

5) This one is a maybe: to begin ministering, speaking, and/or doing ministerial projects for the congregation.

In other words, they want to worm their way into leadership positions in the church. Atheists as leaders. Why?

Christian College student union president says he is an atheist

This article falls on the heels of an op-ed written by Eric Fromm, the student body president of Northwest Christian University (NCU) — a respected Christian college in Eugene, Oregon. In an op-ed entitled “Lifting the Curtain” published in the university’s student newspaper in early November 2013, Fromm, 21, admits he was an atheist and was one long before he showed up at NCU.

Fromm said he attended NCU because of its outstanding communications program. He even tested the waters to make sure he could handle the Christian content. A few close friends were aware of his atheistic views but most students were not. But that didn’t stop Fromm from running and winning the student union presidency.

Fromm stated he has seen a change in behaviour of the Christians towards him since he wrote his op-ed. In an interview he said, “Sometimes they would verbally attack me, sometimes they would give me the cold shoulder, and sometimes they gave me dirty looks.”

Fromm is somewhat taken back by this, but I have a few questions:

I wonder how many of those students feel Fromm was less than honest, not by what he said, but what he didn’t say when he campaigned for the student union presidency. Obviously, he decided to keep his atheistic views a secret. Why did he keep it secret? Did he feel it would hinder his election?

I wonder how many of those students felt deceived because they voted for him believing he was a Christian.

I wonder how many of those Christian students who actively supported his candidacy feel betrayed for the same reason.

But some in the University’s leadership team were aware of Fromm’s atheistic views before being elected student union president. In an interview with the Register-Guard, Michael Fuller who serves as VP of enrolment said:

He’s a man of very high character and respect. He’s a great advocate for our student body, which is exactly what he is supposed to be and do.

A puzzling answer considering one of the goals of the school — according to its website — is “to encourage students academically, spiritually and socially.” Fuller did go on to say he hoped Fromm would become a “strong Christian man.”

I suspect this is not the last we are going to hear of this type of thing. Don’t be surprised if other activists try to infiltrate Christian congregations as well.

Churches need to be vigilant and sensitive to the Holy Spirit before appointing people to leadership roles.  Paul says “be on alert” (Acts 20:31) and warns to lay hands on no one suddenly (1 Timothy 5:22) — a reference to leadership appointment.

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