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April 12, 2020

False Pastor Who Insists on Meeting -- "True Christians Do Not Mind Dying"

By Anthony Wade

Pastor Tony Spell gives horrific interview with TMZ declaring his congregants do not mind dying...


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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -- Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

We wrote last week about the perfect storm brewing in America right now. We have decades of purpose driven church theory infecting the body of Christ that has created waves of cult of personality pastors. These pastors think they are the reason for the draw instead of Christ. They have the stately homes, huge book deals and in some cases television shows. They are the Pharisees of old with all of the power within their local religious system even if it is subordinated to the state. The second storm front is the emergence over the past 20 years of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), with their dominionist platform. The dominionist looks at the carnal and conflates it with the spiritual. They worship this world and more specifically, this country. Why wouldn't they? Here they run mega churches of personal stardom and in the next life they will have to answer for it. This has resulted in the current state of the siloed church in America. Little fiefdoms dot the evangelical landscape. Sure they talk a good game about being united but each individual church is just that, individual. These pastors have generated a reliance upon the church building instead of Jesus.

Then along comes the third storm front, the coronavirus. With almost two million infected and over 100,000 dead, this scourge has literally stopped the world dead in its tracks. The number one breeding ground for the viral spread is large gatherings of people, because so many asymptomatic people could actually be carriers, spreading the virus further. As such the responsible local governments have decided to temporarily disallow large gatherings of people, including churches. And the NAR dominionist crowd went nuts. I mean completely bonkers. In Florida there was an infamous false teacher who was arrested for violating his county order and holding service for 500 people anyway. When I say false I mean ridiculously heretical. This is the guy that invented the "drunk in the spirit" heresy as well as the holy laughter movement. He is a cancerous tumor upon the body of Christ for decades with untold numbers of people being led to hell due to his teaching. Yet he has become the poster child for this imagined persecution. That is how badly the NAR infects the mind. That you would stand with Rodney Howard-Browne and fight for his right to lead more people to hell. That is how you know you care more about the carnal politics of this world then you do about the Gospel.

Browne however is a lightweight of craziness apparently next to Pastor Tony Spell. This Louisiana pastor appears to want to become famous at the expense of his congregants. He held service last week and was arrested for it. That led him to a national platform to play out the NAR persecuted church narrative for all to see. While he had some pretty ridiculous things to say then, he has now tripled down in an interview with TMZ as reported by the Daily Wire and other sources. Let us walk through the reporting from the Daily Wire and apply common sense and biblical values to his insanity.

"On Wednesday, TMZ uploaded a video in which they interview Pastor Tony Spell, the leader of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana. Spell has made a national name for himself in recent weeks as he has continued to hold large church services despite state social distancing orders. TMZ asked Spell what he would say if a congregant died of COVID-19 having attended a Life Tabernacle gathering. "Would you feel like you have blood on your hands or no?"

Spell replied, first quoting scripture. "Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil for God is with us." The pastor then added that "the Bible teaches us to be absent from our bodies is to be present with the Lord. So, like any revolutionary, or like any zealot, or like any pure religious person, death looks to them like a welcomed friend." -- Pastor Tony Spell

Tony Spell is not a revolutionary and neither are any of the people foolish enough to listen to him and attend a church service in the middle of a plague. A zealot he might be but as Calvin once said, zeal without doctrine is like a lunatic with a sword. Tony Spell is that lunatic right now. He is asked a very fair question about whether he would have blood on his hands if someone died from COVID after catching it at his church. His second response is simply reprehensible. That he feels his congregants should look at death as a welcomed friend. Trivializing the death of his sheep is something he will answer for when he stands before Christ. His first response however is worse because he cannot even see how he is mangling scripture to try and prove a point he does not have.

He quotes Psalm 23:4, the key verse for today but only quotes half of it. Yea though I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me. First is the obvious problem that this Psalm is not recommending that people seek out the valley of death to walk through because God is with us. That is simply juvenile thinking to assume that because God is with us we should seek death out as if to test God. It is not wise to tempt the Lord your God, as Jesus told Satan during His own temptation. The portion Spell left out however is the imagery of the shepherd, with his rod and staff. These instruments were used to guide the sheep and ward off predators. Why did Spell ignore this part? Because it destroys his "they don't mind dying" narrative. The reality is that it is HIS job as their shepherd to protect and guide them. Not casually lead them to slaughter for his own self-glorification.

"This led to the following exchange: TMZ: You're saying that they wouldn't mind if they died?

SPELL: True Christians do not mind dying. They fear living in fear, [cowardice] of their convictions.

TMZ: So you're saying that you think that your parishioners would prefer to come to the service and potentially get coronavirus and die than not come to the service and be fine?

SPELL: A people that can prefer disgrace to danger are headed for a master and deserve one. People that prefer tyranny over freedom do not deserve freedom. People have been locked in their homes for 23 days now, like prisoners. The only vent that they have to their emotion is coming to the house of God and worshiping like free people." -- Pastor Tony Spell

Wow. What an utter pile of garbage. First of all, obeying the law and not helping to spread a worldwide contagion is not "living in fear of their convictions." It simple means being a good citizen and showing godly concern for our neighbors, which last time I checked was part of the greatest commandment. Secondly, the state asking for a temporary hold on public gatherings is not "tyranny." That is straight up NAR talking points. People have not been "locked in their homes." I just got home from a nice walk actually on a beautiful sunny day. The only escape they have is to violate the law, endanger everyone they may come into contact with all to attend your church? What an ego. We are the body of Christ, not some building in downtown New Orleans. If you cannot worship at home and must be in a gathering of 500 in order to worship, then it is not God that you are worshiping. Next, choosing to take the wise path is now a disgrace in the eyes of this hireling? Let me be clear for you Mr. Spell, sorry but you are NOT a pastor. It is a disgrace to lead people who rely on you for guidance into a situation where not only could they die but so could everyone they come into contact with after attending your service. What is a disgrace is to do so solely to gain notoriety and fame, hiding behind Jesus. Our Lord and Savior does not need you to hold your little service. It is not that important. You are not that important.

Perhaps the worst part here is that because Spell is so enamored with himself and this grand statement he thinks he is making he keeps missing the utter disbelief in the questions being asked of him by a secular reporter writing for a secular magazine. This is what it means when the bible says that false teachers will lead unbelievers to blaspheme the way of truth. I feel badly for the TMZ reporter because they must have been blown away by the careless and reckless answers from someone who claims to be a pastor.

"TMZ asked Spell why the church can't simply meet "on Zoom," adding that God is "everywhere." Spell said that it "does not work," and that if it did, "why did America spend billions and billions of dollars on churches?" One final time, TMZ asked Spell what he would tell the family of a congregant who died of COVID-19. The pastor replied that this hypothetical person "died like free people fighting for their convictions." Spell then said that his congregants pass away from sickness such as "cancer, HIV, AIDS, [and] heart disease." TMZ noted that COVID-19 is "preventable," to which the pastor responded: Well, who knows what is preventable? " God gave us a strong immune system, and the only way we're going to destroy this virus is for -- they say everybody's gonna get it. Then if everybody's gonna get it, then let's get on with life. On Palm Sunday, Spell held services despite having been served days earlier with a "misdemeanor summons for six counts of violating the governor's executive order," according to Central Police Department Chief Roger Corcoran." -- Tony Spell

How sad is it that the person in this interview with sounder theology is the TMZ reporter! They are correct! God is everywhere and the bible says where two or three are gathered He is there. It is only the mega church mentality and the bloated egos of cult of personality pastors that confuse this. Why did America spend billions of dollars on mega churches? Because they allowed Rick Warren to define church success. They allowed him to create a generation of pastors who look down with disdain upon small congregations. Who think the only measurement of success is how much people tithe. Who build monuments to themselves like Saul before them while paying lip service to the Lord. The sheer callousness of Spell's response here is how you know he is no pastor. No true pastor of Jesus Christ would answer so disgustingly. Oh well they died fighting for their convictions. No Mr. Spell. They died because of YOUR false convictions. They were not free at all because they were taken in by a charlatan such as yourself. A huckster who can say with a straight face that no one knows what is preventable? This is why the notion of listening to pastors on matters of public health is beyond stupid. Because if we did, Tony Spell would recommend everyone catch the virus so that those the survive would have immunity. Those that do not survive? Oh well.

'While Spell reportedly told CNN that approximately 1,220 people attended his two Sunday services, Chief Corcoran told NBC News that the pastor has been padding the numbers: "At the most, he had 500. Between the two." The spotlight has been focused on Spell as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pastor has refused to suspend large church gatherings despite the virus infecting hundreds of thousands of Americans, and leading to the deaths of more than 19,800 people, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) Global Cases map. During a recent interview with CNN's Victor Blackwell, Spell said that he and his congregants are following a "command from God" to assemble, and that "there are no governing bodies that can tell us we cannot gather and worship freely."' -- Tony Spell

Yes there is Tony. It is called the government. It is time for pastors and Christians to stop playing constitutional law professors because they simply do not know what they are talking about. Even first amendment rights are not absolute. I used to teach US Government, but I do not wish to get into a civics lesson in a Christian devotional. Suffice to say if you are getting your legal advice from your pastor, you are in a lot of trouble. The larger point here is the abuse of the call to assemble. It is true that the bible says to not forsake the fellowship but let's actually see that in context:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -- Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV)

So is God saying here that meeting in huge stadiums is paramount and something that is never to infringed upon? Of course not. Let us consider how to stir one another up. To love and good works. While not neglecting to meet with one another. This meeting can be done in many ways. Are public gatherings for corporate worship valuable? Absolutely! But are they absolute? Heaven forbid! Do you think the underground church in China are gathering in stadiums or house to house? We need to get over ourselves. We can encourage each other without risking infecting each other.

"When asked by Blackwell if his position was consistent with his alleged pro-life values, Spell replied: My response to that is people's hope is in the house of God. If they do contract the virus, if they have fears of the virus, the church is more essential now than ever to pray with people, to let them know there is a balm in Gilead. There is a physician in Jesus Christ. He is the healer. He said, "Come unto me, all you that are wearing heavy laden, let me give you rest." So, we were supposed to be at a million and a half body bags. We're at 8,400. So, the narrative is false, Victor." -- Pastor Tony Spell

People's hope is in the house of God? Only in the warped mind of the NAR pastor. Our hope is in God. In His Son Jesus Christ. We are the temple of His spirit. When you start placing your hope in the church building you have left the faith altogether. That is Warren theology that has infected the body of Christ like a cancer for over two decades now. The rest of this response is just biblical malpractice. The balm is Christ, not a building in New Orleans. Are we sensing a theme yet? That Tony Spell seeks to supplant the role of Christ through his church building. The references to healing and "let me give you rest" are references to spiritual healing thorough salvation in Christ, not a physical healing that will be required because a false pastor did not care to protect those that follow him. Look again at the sheer indifference to the death of people that Tony Spell traffics in. Because "only" 8400 have died to date, the question is not worth answering. As if those 8400 people do not even matter, which they clearly do not to Tony Spell.

Blackwell noted that the friends and families of the 8,400 who had died at the time of the interview likely wouldn't appreciate Spell's attitude. In a Facebook post on March 31, Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran stated in part: Instead of showing the strength and resilience of our community during this difficult time, Mr. Spell has chosen to embarrass us for his own self-promotion. Mr. Spell will have his day in court where he will be held responsible for his reckless and irresponsible decisions that endangered the health of his congregation and our community. Corcoran concluded: "This is not an issue over religious liberty, and it's not about politics. We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community's leaders to set a positive example and follow the law." Speaking with Reuters about upcoming Easter Sunday services, Pastor Spell said that the congregation isn't "afraid," that "Satan and a virus will not stop us," and "God will shield us from all harm and sickness."' -- Pastor Tony Spell

The police chief is 100% correct. This is not a matter of religious liberty. Asking churches to not meet in large gatherings temporarily is not infringing on our ability to freely worship. Only the depraved NAR mindset says that worship must be within the mega church model. This issue is not about politics as much as the NAR demands the debate be couched in those terms. The virus does not discriminate between red or blue, conservative or liberal, Christian or atheist. This is a matter of public health and following the law. I do not want Tony Spell of anyone else with utter ignorance to matters of public health deciding matters of public health. Not only are they incapable of such decisions but as Spell brilliantly displays, they do not care to make informed and wise decisions. The virus is not Satan. The devil is quite happy that hirelings such as Spell continue to risk the lives of the Lord's sheep. Each sheep removed from the battle field is that much less prayer, worship and evangelism for the Gospel. As for God shielding us from all harm, Spell needs only to look to Illinois and see a church that has a gathering 80 people on March 15th and now 43 of those folks are sick, with ten confirmed COVID cases. Or perhaps he needs to look at Pastor Spradlin from Virginia, who mocked the virus as a scheme to ruin Donald Trump. He then went to New Orleans to cleanse it from its sins and debauchery. Pastor Spradlin contracted COVID on that trip and died before he could get back home. This interview only further cements that Tony Spell and those like him do not care one bit about the lives of the sheep that have been entrusted to them. They are not pastors and they do not represent Christ or His teachings. He will end up with the blood of innocents upon his hands and will answer for every single drop when he stands before the Lord. Beloved, if your pastor is insisting that you need to gather publicly, he is a hireling. Run as fast as you can and find someone who will care for your spiritual and physical well-being. In Jesus name. Amen.

Reverend Anthony Wade -- April 12, 2020

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.