Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dunamis Church

A few weeks ago I noticed a friend's profile status mention a church called Dunamis. I was bored, so I decided to check this church's website out, and to be frank, found it somewhat distanced from Protestant orthodoxy. Coming out of a Pentacostal background, I know well the doctrine of continual revelation held on par with Scripture. But even so this depends on what denomination of Pentacostalism you're in. Some are extreme with their doctrine on new revelation, some not so much, and both wings critisize the other for not conforming to the other's view. Sound familiar? Ironically enough, the Pentacostal-fathers, especially Seymore, Parham, and Bartleman, all furiously denounced division which had been consuming the Protestant faithful, and all hoped that the outpouring of God's Spirit would unite all churches together. There is some hope to their dream: for even the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have felt the power of the Holy Spirit, and this provides yet another common ground amongst the Catholic-Orthodox and Protestant Churches. Indeed, there are many blessings when we least expect them, and how we least expect them to be executed. However, the doctrine of Pentacostalism is not under analyses here, and not the actual outpouring itself.

The doctrine of Dunamis will be what we are looking at this evening. First, let's see what the church's statement of faith declares:

We believe there is one living and true God who has revealed Himself in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, infinitely perfect and eternal in existence and equal in glory, majesty and power (Matt 28:19; Luke 3:21-22)

We Believe in...

1. THE WORD OF GOD

We believe the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is fully inspired by the Holy Spirit and without error, unified in their redemptive purpose, yielding a complete revelation of God's will for the salvation of mankind. We hold the Bible to be trustworthy, the only supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. Scripture is our source of revelation of God, the knowledge of salvation, the origin of all things and of the hereafter-it is the final Court of Appeal on all points of doctrine, life and godliness. (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Hebrews 4:12)



2. THE PERSON OF GOD

We believe there is one living and true God who has revealed Himself in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, infinitely perfect and eternal in existence and equal in glory, majesty and power (Matt 28:19; Luke 3:21 -22):

a) God the Father is the Creator of all things and the Author of eternal redemption. (Matt 6:9)

b) The Lord Jesus Christ was manifest in the flesh as the very Son of God-fully God and fully man, Creator of all things with the Father, and the appointed Judge of all men (John 1:14 ,18; Col 1:13-20; Acts 17:31; Heb 1:1-4)

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, died on the Cross for our sins, was buried, resurrected bodily on the third day according to the Scriptures and appeared to his disciples (1 Cor 15:1-8). He ascended to the Father, where He continues His High-Priestly ministry. He will personally and physically return for a glorious Church and execute judgment upon the wicked. (1Thess 4:16 -18)

c) The Holy Spirit is The Comforter, the Promise of The Father (Acts 1:4), the Revealer of Christ and His work on the Cross, the Empowerer and the Distributor of gifts and graces upon the Church.



3. HUMANITY'S FALLEN NATURE AND NEED OF THE SAVIOUR

We believe the human race was originally created by God, in His image, to have dominion over His creation (Gen 1:27). However, with The Fall of humanity, sin entered through disobedience and rebellion. Humanity became separated from God and totally incapable of saving itself (Rom 5:12). All of mankind needs to turn from sin and trust personally in the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, to receive redemption. (Rom 3:23)



4. SALVATION ONLY THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST

We believe the power of sin and death was broken when Jesus bore our sin at the Cross and rose again, providing the only way of salvation for the whole person: spirit, soul and body. (Heb 4:12 ; 1Thess 5:23)

Mankind can only be saved by grace through repentance and faith in Christ's perfect and sufficient work of the Cross. We receive remission of sins by Christ's substitutionary sacrifice for us, redemption through faith in His shed blood and regeneration by the Holy Spirit's power. (John 3:5)


5. EMPOWERMENT OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE

We believe the Lord's Presence, Peace and Power are manifest in His Body in various ways, which are not, however, to be regarded as a means of salvation. We regard:


a) The Lord's Supper as a means of fellowship of the spiritual body of Christ, and as a way of partaking of the spiritual benefits bequeathed to New Covenant believers.(1Cor 11:17-34)

b) Water baptism, by immersion, as the obedient response to the Lord's command (Acts 2:38 ; Matt 28:19-20) and a visible representation of our death, burial and resurrection with Christ.

c) The baptism of the Holy Spirit as a valid and important experience for believers today. The Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost and is present for all believers today, often subsequent to the new birth and evidenced by speaking with other tongues (Acts 2:1-4;10:44-46; 19:1-6) and empowerment to witness (Acts 1:8). This baptism is also accompanied by grace gifts and fruit of the Spirit (Rom 5:5, 1 Cor 12:5-11; Gal 5:22 -23)



6. THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH

We believe the Church is the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12 -14; Eph 1:22 -23) , His Bride (Eph 5:25 ) and Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16), the expression of the present rule and reign of Christ's Kingdom of God on earth. Christians are members of the universal, mystical, body by faith - they are a holy priesthood of believers. Believers need to live out their commitment to Christ in love, unity and community with other body members in the local church - this is the practical expression of Christian faith in action. Christ gifted His Church with unity and a five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers for maturing, ordering, equipping, and releasing the whole body to do the works of service that reveal His glory. (Eph 4:11-16)



7. DIVINE HEALING

We believe divine healing is within Christ's work of atonement (1 Pet 2:24) and great gift of salvation. Healing, communicated by God's grace, gifts, laying on of hands, anointing with oil, and simple faith alone, minister healing for the whole person (emotional, mental, physical) and deliverance from oppression by the devil (Acts 10:38; Mk 16:17-18; Jas 5:14-16). The gospel is not only in word, but in power and "these signs will follow those who believe."



8. THE LAYING ON OF HANDS

We believe that the laying on of hands, as practiced in the New Testament, is an operation of the ministry of the Holy Spirit for:

- healing the sick
- baptism of the Holy Spirit
- receiving spiritual gifts
- dedicating children
- ordaining ministries
- and sending out ministries (Acts 13:3)




9. THE CHRIST-LIKE ABUNDANT LIFE

We believe all Christians are called into a life of separation from sinful practices and they should take every opportunity to promote righteousness and godliness (James 4:4; Romans 12:1-2, 13:1-10; 2 Cor 6:14 -18; 1 John 2:15 -17). Holiness is the release of Christ within each and every believer, changing us into His image, from glory to glory. (2 Cor 3:18 )



10. EVANGELISM

We believe the mandate and privilege of every Christian is to spread the Gospel to the lost world by making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching them to obey everything He commands (Matt 28:18-20). This lifestyle of evangelism is accomplished through prayer, living out our faith, preaching the Word and sacrificial giving. (Acts 1:8; Luke 10:2; Matt 10:7-8; 1 Cor 9:19 -23)



11. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

We believe the Ascension and Exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ to the throne of the Father proclaims His present rule and reign over the universe. His Kingdom is revealed here on earth through His Body, the Church, resulting in a glorious Church and global harvest at the end of this age. He will be finally revealed through His personal, physical, and soon return and the events described in the following scriptures, including the resurrection of the dead (the just to everlasting life and unjust to eternal separation from God (Acts 1:11 ; 1 Thess 4:16 -17; Titus 2:12 -14; 2 Thess 1:7-10).



12. FURTHER REVELATION

We recognize that God is continually restoring truth and light to His Church. Therefore, we place no limit on further revelation; however, each must be substantiated according to the Scriptures.


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On the founder of the church:

If there was one word to describe Joshua Pitka it would be “passionate”, however, it would be unacceptable not to add “...lover of God”. His excitement for the Kingdom of God is contagious and his passion for the lost is convicting. Josh imparts purity and vision to all who are around him. Called by God to start a church named DUNAMIS, his story is nothing short of miraculous.



Josh grew up in the Toronto, Ontario area from his birth. Situated from the age of 11 in Oshawa, Ontario, from the age of 13 to 16 drugs, alcohol, and many vices controlled Josh’s life. A thief and a liar, a drug-addict and drug-dealer, Josh was full of disrespect and completely rebellious of all authority. He was totally consumed with his addictions. His ambition in life at that time was to deal drugs. However, at the age of sixteen, in April of 1999 while walking home from a bush party, Josh was stopped in His tracks when he heard, as he would describe it as the audible voice of God. “JOSH, YOU'RE EITHER WITH ME OR YOU'RE NOT.” Trying to shake it, he took two more steps, then froze as the voice spoke again. "NO JOSH, THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE, YOU’VE BEEN MESSING AROUND LONG ENOUGH! YOU'RE EITHER WITH ME OR YOU'RE NOT! MAKE UP YOUR MIND!” Josh fell to his knees as He cried out for God’s mercy. In that moment he knew He was a sinner, and was headed for Hell, his sinfulness was revealed to him as He cried out for God to save him.



The fear of the Lord gripped his heart and that night Josh made Jesus Christ his personal Lord and Saviour. Turning his back on a life of partying and getting high, Josh started to attend some local youth groups. Not more than a few months after his conversion, one could find Josh in his bedroom, worshiping God and reading the Word of God (The Bible) for hours on end. He would get home from school and go straight to his bedroom often not having a desire to even eat dinner, sometimes seeking the Lord into the late hours of the night and early hours of the day. He was consumed by the love, joy and peace he was experiencing from his Creator. He would often cry as the Holy Spirit filled his bedroom and he could feel the tangible love of Jesus. There was little time for television, video games or movies.



A few months later, due to a lack of Josh being discipled in the faith, he started to fall away from God as he started to fancy a girl from one of the youth groups he was attending. Pride and vanity gripped Josh’s heart, as sometimes he wouldn’t even go to youth if he didn’t ‘look right’.



But in March 2000, almost a year after his conversion, Josh decided to accompany a youth ministry to the Brownsville Revival, a move of the Holy Spirit happening in Northern Florida. It was there Josh sat under the preaching of Steve Hill for two nights straight. Josh spent two nights at the altar ‘getting right with God’ and getting the sin out of his life. God took the sandpaper to Josh’s heart and cleaned him up again.



The next month in April Josh attended a youth conference in Toronto called, “Fresh Wind”, where he experienced the power of God in miracles and healings that placed a hunger in Josh’s life for the miraculous, supernatural power of God as he sat under the ministry of Judah Smith, a youth pastor from Seattle, WA.



He was completely on fire!!



It was the summer of 2000 that Josh and his family (his parents and three brothers) moved to Sarnia, a border city in Southern Ontario. It was in this city that God would decide to plant Josh's heart. Josh graduated from a local high school, but not before he was suspended for handing out nearly a hundred copies of his testimony to many random students.



It was also at that time Josh would be overcome by the attack of the enemy, and literally almost get taken out by darkness. During a time when Josh thought he had fallen again, the enemy came and relentlessly accused Josh, trying to convince him that he’d lost his salvation. For over the next two years Josh was under a yoke of condemnation, and was tormented in his mind by demonic thoughts that would haunt him day and night. They increasingly got worse and worse. Josh would say he feels what it’s like to be in a mental institution. It seemed no one could relate to what was happening in Josh’s mind and psyche, it felt as if he was bound with unbreakable spiritual chains. It wasn’t until he attended a School of Ministry in Toronto that he realized he had been agreeing with the enemy (Satan and his demons) by ‘repenting’ of thoughts that were not his own. The enemy would throw perversity at Josh’s mind, and Josh would say, “Oh Lord, forgive me, wash me, cleanse me, I repent of these thoughts,” thereby claiming them as his own. An evangelist by the name of Bob Edwards who was ministering at the school called for the whole school to repent to God FOR ignorantly ‘repenting’ to the enemy. It was during Bob’s ministry to Josh the revelation came to him that to put a stop to this bondage in his mind Josh could stop the torment by simply saying, “NO!” to these thoughts and standing strong in God. Bob walked up to Josh during a session and looked him in the eyes, “You’ve been tormented, haven’t you?” Josh agreed and was set free from this deception.



After completing the School of Ministry at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, it was during this season that the Lord really began to break Josh. The fear of man was no longer an option. Josh was called as a preacher, and before his return to Sarnia, God would have him stand up to preach on city buses, subway carts and even in road stop restaurants. Everywhere he went, Josh would feel the heart of God for the lost, and he would have to stop and share the love of Christ.



Shortly after his return to Sarnia God sovereignly arranged for Josh to meet a pastor whose name is Brendan Witton. Pastor Brendan was (and still is) the pastor of a rapidly growing church in Pickering and Toronto Ontario called Church Without Limits. Josh instantly felt a connection with this ministry.



During this time, Josh was working a job cutting grass. Because of the long hours of sitting on a lawnmower, Josh had lots of time to think, and also pray and commune with his God. He would often get off the mower to witness to innocent bystanders, pray for healing, etc. It was at this time that God began stir Josh’s heart and speak to him about starting a church. Initially he mildly struggled with the idea, as it was not the ‘normal’ route for a 21 year old. But Josh felt like God was saying, “I want you to start a church, and pastor Brenden will be your pastor.”



Josh then contacted Pastor Brendan and shared with him about how God had been speaking to him about starting a church. Pastor Brendan initially liked the idea and thought he could do it, and subsequently prayerfully concluded that God was indeed speaking to Josh. Pastor Brendan encouraged Josh to come and serve under his ministry to receive training and instruction. After the set time, Josh would be released to go back to Sarnia and start things up. Josh agreed and spent the next 6 months working closely with Pastor Brendan and his team.



On Friday April 1, 2005, the first Dunamis meeting was held in the living room of Josh’s parent’s home with 10 people... The rest is history.


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And now on the church itself:

Dunamis is a fellowship of believers who are finished with empty religion and “church as usual” and are hungry for more of God. We make it our aim to hear what God is saying and then do what He says. (No matter how unusual it may appear). We are not interested in putting on a performance or doing the “Sunday duty”. (Note: We do not believe that there is anything wrong with going to church on Sunday)

Here at Dunamis, we believe that God is restoring true (biblical) Christianity. We believe that when we meet together, Jesus is actually in our midst and that if Jesus is with us, we should have some evidence. This evidence includes but is not limited to:

a) People who need to be saved from a life of sin and death should be given that opportunity. (Acts 2:38-40)

b) People who have never experienced God’s presence should experience it. (Acts 2:43)

c) People who are sick or in pain should be healed. (Acts 5:16)

d) People can come (as they are) and be genuinely loved and accepted. (Romans 12:9-10)

e) People should be encouraged and strengthened in their faith. (Acts 15:30-32)

f) GOD SHOULD SAY SOMETHING: Whether by prophecy or teaching or tongues and interpretation; through visions or angelic visitations or even the audible voice of God. (Acts 13:1-2)

We know that God is always speaking and he continues to speak today. The Holy Spirit is teaching His children how to hear and respond to the voice of their Father. Jesus Himself said “My sheep hear my voice”.

We at Dunamis are committed to knowing God, hearing His voice and understanding His heart... then obeying!



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You may have the same thoughts running through your head which ran through mine when I read the statement. To see those thoughts, I'll post the email I sent to the pastor of the church, along with his reply and my second message. I think my email sums up well the concerns I had and that of others who aren't familiar with the 'new' Pentacostal mindset. Even Protestants are wary of the Pentacostal teaching, and rightly so, since it drifts so far from Christian orthodoxy in many ways. However, there are some things in Pentacostalism that all churches may appreciate. This is not the time to cover either of those issues, so we'll simply proceed with the email:

Dear Pastor Josh:

I stumbled upon your church website a few moments ago after seeing the link posted on a friend's Facebook profile. After reading your testimony I must say you are one extremely blessed young man. God certainly has carried you out of darkness in a most extreme way. I found your Statement of Faith rather interesting, and had a few questions concerning that.

First, the statement makes its decree on the Bible as the Word of God, of which I absolutly agree. The statement says, "We hold the Bible to be trustworthy, the only supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct. Scripture is our source of revelation of God, the knowledge of salvation, the origin of all things and of the hereafter-it is the final Court of Appeal on all points of doctrine, life and godliness. (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Hebrews 4:12)" -- Now I make it a personal ambition to be sure I know which doctrine I should believe and which I should denounce. Can you please tell me exactly how you interpret the Scriptures? by what methods? according to whose leadership? and so on. The fact that there are countless denominations in the world today, all who say the exact same said statement, yet hold contradicting doctrines, shows that there is somewhat a problem with someone's interpretation. Since the Scriptures are theopneustos, breathed out of the very mouth of God, the most tenderest of care must be taken when interpreting its message. Knowing the Holy Spirit does not lie, nor does He contradict Himself, we can be certain not all of the denominations hold the true interpretation of Scripture - someone somewhere is not correct. Yet at the same time antiquity shows that someone had the right interpretation and still does to this day. I am interested, sir, in knowing how you interpret the Scriptures and how your interpretation may or may not differ from the interpretations of other Christian churches.

Second, the statement on God sounds very much like the Nicean Creed, of which I happily and fully agree with 110%. So from my viewpoint it is good to see that you do indeed hold to the same God I do; namely, that He is One God in Three Divine Persons. Your defining of faith and salvation I also agree with.

In Point 5, the statement says:


'We believe the Lord's Presence, Peace and Power are manifest in His Body in various ways, which are not, however, to be regarded as a means of salvation. We regard:


a) The Lord's Supper as a means of fellowship of the spiritual body of Christ, and as a way of partaking of the spiritual benefits bequeathed to New Covenant believers.(1Cor 11:17-34)'



What is your understanding of the Lord's Supper? in other words, is the doctrine related to the Catholic/Eastern Orthodox doctrine of the Eucharist, or the more Reformed doctrine? If I may ask, where in Scripture do you find support for your view on this subject? why or why not is it neccessary for salvation?


Also, your final statement regarding Revelation, how is this to be understood? in other words, how do you test the new revelation? what standards do you set for revelation? is revelation on par with Scripture? does revelation overrule any existing revelation already set forth in Scripture?



In the 'About the Church' section, I read the following: 'Here at Dunamis, we believe that God is restoring true (biblical) Christianity.' I could not agree more that church-going has become mundane and without meaning to many Christians today, and personally I am tired of that attitude people have as well concerning it. However, in light of the fact God never changes, I don't believe the ancient way of worship - though it may be 'updated' to fit the modern understanding of the people, yet the essential parts remain unchanging - may be done away with. And what disturbs me about said quote (if I understood it correctly), is that it has been said by the Mormons, by the Jehovah's Witnesses, by the SDAs, and other major cults. If I am understanding the quote correctly (and if I am not then please forgive me), are you claiming true restored doctrine and teaching as was taught by Christ and the Apostles, and that all other Christian churches - good though they may be - have lost the true doctrine and simply are continuing in mundane worship and empty teachings which are not in accordance with Scripture?



If my understanding of the quote is in error, please clarify for me. However if it is not misunderstood, I would be very interested in knowing how and why you believe the doctrine taught at Dunamis is the only most accurate to the Scriptures.


If all this seems so inquisitive, again forgive me, lol. My personal take on you is that you are a young man saved by grace, burning with an inferno of the Holy Spirit, ready to do the Lord's will. However, I also believe the sincerest Christian - a true, living, Jesus-loving Christian - has the capability of being in doctrinal error. I do not list any of the above in any sort of judgmental attitude, but in all the honesty of a Christian brother in the Lord Jesus to another Christian brother in the Lord Jesus. I believe God has called you to a phenomenal ministry, furthermore I believe your ministry in healing is outstanding, be it authentic. But as I said before, any Christian can be in doctrinal error. I believe the best way to deal with such issues is to get at the heart of the matter, through biblical exegesis and the consistent interpretation of church history. So please, accept this email as a genuine question that needs genuine answers, to know where your heart truly is. Understand I do not call you a liar, but I have experienced and know many people who claim to be led of God, but in truth are as far from God as can be.



May the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.



Yours in Christ,



Carmenn Massa

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I recieved a reply from Josh almost immedietly afterwards:

Hey Carmenn,



Thanks a lot for your interest in me and the website. This will take some research J

I love it though. Study of scriptures and church history is something I want to do a lot more of.



Bless you and I will try to take time in the next few months to thoroughly read your inquiries and give you heartfelt answers. The reason I say that is that I am quite busy right now doing a variety of other writings… actually updating the site shortly! You’ll love it!



Much love man!

By the way, where do you live? What church do you attend? Why do take such a heartfelt interest in our ministry?



God bless you man!!



Josh Pitka

Lead Pastor of Dunamis Church

www.dunamis.ca

(519) 330 9350

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I was great-ful that he answered my heart-felt questions, and so took some time to respond to his. What I want people to get from this is that Josh, as full of Christian love as he is (seemingly at first), we can't let that be an obstacle in the way of seeking out legit Christian doctrine as found in Scripture and Tradition. The example I'm about to give is in no way meant to imply anything about Josh; it's simply an example of a situation that really and truly happened, and we've seen the horrible effects of it up until this day. Joseph Smith was an excellent actor. He duped thousands into believing he was a genuine, God-loving, Christian who had recieved a revelation from the Lord. Countless people believed him...Why? Because, to put it simply, they let their emotions for him, and for that "burning in their bosoms", run away with them. They did not put Smith's doctrinal claims under intense scrutiny from Scripture and Tradition. This is how any given cult comes into being. Once again, I am in no way implying this is Josh's hidden agenda; my point is that any time we see a 'new church' springing up, declaring to be restoring 'true Christianity', we need to examine it. Not to see if it's true or not, but to refute it from error. Sometimes these 'new pastors' are truly sincere in their ministry, as I'm sure Josh is; some times they're cons, like Joseph Smith was. The only way anyone can deal with this issue is to ask questions relating to their doctrine and how it fits with Scripture according to the consistent Tradition of orthodox Christianity.

Tertullian had a great little antidote for any one claiming to 'restore Christianity'. He tells them to give proofs of their mission, a lineage from the Apostles themselves (which only the Catholic-Orthodox Churches can produce) the traditional doctrines of the Apostolic Churches, and points out their contradictory systems, as invincible proofs that they are teachers of error. This is what should be asked of any one who claims to have recieved revelation from Almighty God to found a church and teach 'restored Christianity'. Thanks for stopping by, and may God bless you.

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