Response to Doug Burleigh: Speaker at the Community Bible Fellowship (CBF) Men’s Breakfast – August 3rd, 2013, Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
Doug Burleigh, an ordained Presbyterian minister, former president of Young Life and currently involved with the Washington, DC, National Prayer Breakfast, was asked to speak about discipleship. Doug is a member of a Washington, DC, group called, “The Fellowship” or “The Family”, that some press reports have called secretive. Doug Burleigh is the son-in-law of Doug Coe who is described as a leader of the Fellowship.
Doug spoke repeatedly against judgmentalism and legalism and said that his points were in response to Christians who were judgmental and legalistic. I recommended that we also be concerned about gnostic universalism.
Doug mentioned discipleship and “formation”.
Doug described the Washington DC Prayer Breakfast. He said it was not a Christian prayer breakfast, otherwise no one else would show up. He said that Muslims and Buddhists are included. One of the brothers at the Men’s Breakfast asked who the Muslims are praying to at the Prayer Breakfast. Doug shot back, “Do you know how many times Jesus is mentioned in the Koran?” I pointed out that it is a different “Jesus” in the Koran.
He proceeded to describe many of his views.
Doug said that a person can be a Muslim and follow Jesus; or a Buddhist and follow Jesus. I disagreed.
Doug said that we should not use the term Christianity or Christians to describe our relationship to Jesus Christ or each other. He corrected some brothers who used the terms, “Christian” or “Christianity”. He pointed out that the phrase, “Born again” shows up only one place in the Bible and yet we refer to it over and over.
Doug said that when it comes to, “the Gospel”, some people say it has four points and some say six points. Therefore, Doug said, we should just realize that the Gospel is a person. We should just follow Jesus.
Doug criticized Christians who dismiss Mormons as a “cult”. Doug said we may be surprised who is in heaven and that he believes some Mormons will be in heaven.
The following is a summary of Doug Burleigh’s points and my responses:
1. A person can be a Muslim and follow Jesus; or a Buddhist and follow Jesus
a. This is a syncretism and a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible calls us to come out of darkness, repent of our former paganism, idolatry, and attempts at salvation by works. In countries where a public profession is dangerous, it is between that individual and the Lord as to how to walk as a Christian with wisdom under the circumstances. It is reasonable to accommodate the culture to varying degrees. This is a disputable matter. But to say it is right to call oneself a Muslim or a Buddhist and a believer in Jesus Christ is not Biblical.
2. Prayer Breakfasts are not Christian. Muslims and Buddhists attend.
a. Ecumenical gatherings where each religion is praying to their “god” does not serve the Biblical Gospel. Rather, they serve the merging of the world’s religions and the last days counterfeits. We do an unsaved person no favors by giving him the impression that there are many paths to God.
3. The Gospel is not four points or six points. The Gospel is a Person.
a. This sounds good on the surface, but actually creates a subjective “gospel” that can be interpreted in many ways and makes it easier to merge the religions of the world. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is written. It is objective. Jesus is a person. The Gospel is not a person. The Gospel is the objective truth about what Jesus has done and what our response should be.
4. Some Mormons will be in heaven.
a. This is another example of blurring the distinctions between truth and error. There is only one way that a Mormon will be in heaven: If he has trusted in the Biblical Jesus in terms of the Biblical Gospel. That means the he has to have rejected the false Mormon Jesus and the false Mormon gospel of works, in which case he is no longer a Mormon!
5. Christians who disagree with his various points are judgmental and legalistic
a. The choice is not between agreeing with Doug Burleigh’s points and being judgmental and legalistic. I am convinced that both are unbiblical. I agree that we should not be judgmental and legalistic. I also believe that we should not be gnostic, licentious, and universalist. We should love God, love people, love the truth.
6. Jesus is mentioned many times in the Koran
a. I believe that referring to the mention of Jesus in the Koran is a valid stepping stone to witnessing to Muslims, similar to Paul referring to the “unknown god”. But that is not to say that the Koran is a valid source of information about the true Jesus of the Bible. It is a perversion of the truth to use the fact that the Koran refers to a “Jesus” to support the idea that it is acceptable to be a Muslim and a Believer in Jesus at the same time.
7. We should not call ourselves, “Christians”, or align ourselves with a religion called, “Christianity”. We should not over use the term, “Born again”.
a. There is some validity to the concerns that Doug Burleigh raises in this context. I do believe that it is important to clarify to the unsaved the difference between what it has meant to follow Jesus versus the “Christianity” of Christendom that has prostituted itself with the world’s political and economic systems and has used the name of Christ to pervert and dominate and murder and oppress. I do believe that we ought to emphasize a relationship with Jesus rather than a “religion”. And yet I ought not demand that my friends, who use the term “religion” to describe Christianity, adopt my vocabulary. Similarly, it is one thing for Doug Burleigh to say that he personally chooses not to use the terms, “Christian” or “Christianity”. It is another thing for him to claim that it is wrong to use those terms. All this emphasis on jargon does is make it all the more easy for Christians to be merged with the world religion. Referring to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus is very important in describing that following Jesus is so much more than just a lifestyle that any Mormon, or Muslim, or Buddhist could follow. Rather it is as radical as being, “Born Again”!
Scripture references: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 2 Corinthians 6:11-18, Galatians 1:6-10, Acts 11:25-26, John 3:1-21, 1 Peter 4:16
I do not question that Doug Burleigh is a born again believer in Jesus; a Christian. I do not have any evidence that Doug is intentionally deceiving people. But his unbiblical points are consistent with deceptive trends occurring all over the world and developing throughout at least the last 30 years.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 ____________________________