I recently received a request to do a post on some cult called “Voice In The Desert.” Apparently its leader is someone named David McKay.
Normally when I am asked to do biblical critiques of people (you can call them “white papers”), the subject is an easily identifiable person (i.e., Max Lucado, Joseph Prince, Todd Smith, Henry Seeley, Richard Rohr, etc.). However, that is not the case with David McKay. He apparently hides his face a lot. When I did a search on him on the internet, I could hardly find him in the public arena. Thankfully, this request came front-loaded with some excellent leads. One of those leads is this article from the Cult Education Institute that has some information on McKay. It also includes a photo, but I do not know the photo’s age.
I now cite parts of the article from the Cult Education Institute. I’ll offer commentary in between as needed because the article I reference is almost four years old. Any bolding on the quotes is done by me.
February 26, 2017 was the last video from End Times Survivors that starts with “Bro Dave” for its title. His face is blurred in all “Bro Dave” videos this channel has.
Dave McKay, now in his seventies, is originally from Rochester, New York. McKay married and moved to Australia in 1968 where he joined the cult “Children of God (COG).” COG became infamous for child sexual abuse. McKay later decided to leave COG and become leader of the so-called “Jesus Christians” in 1982.
The one-season show Cults and Extreme Belief on A&E did an episode on the “Children of God” cult. Apparently the “Jesus Christians” McKay founded in 1982 disbanded in 2010.
Like Moses Berg, the founder of COG, McKay became notorious for the total control that he exercises over his followers. Now on YouTube he is “Brother Dave.” Claiming divine revelation McKay says, “When I tell people that God talks to me I can see the wheels turning, their thinking ‘psycho,’ ‘psycho,’ this guy needs professional help.” Maybe McKay is a psycho. Apparently if you disagree with Dave you disagree with God.
I’ll refute McKay’s claiming direct revelation from God in a bit.
McKay’s group was dubbed the “kidney cult” because reportedly more than half of his followers donated a kidney in what many saw as a ploy for media attention.
Brother Dave seems to be adept at “brainwashing” his disciples according to numerous press reports. And after new recruits join his group they frequently cut off virtually all communication with family and old friends. The group has also garnered controversy for recruiting minor children.
Complaints from estranged families and bad press followed Dave McKay wherever he went and made his group appear toxic. No wonder McKay has chosen to rebrand his group online with a new name. Brother Dave even blurs his face and his followers are masked to obscure their real identity on YouTube.
In short, McKay has had ties to cults for about five decades. Moreover, he and his followers blur their faces. I’ll get to that point in a bit.
Before I elaborate on whether or not it is worth it to extensively refute faceless teachers, recall that McKay claims direct revelation from God. Such a thing is a denial of Sola Scriptura.
It is important to understand that God’s Word is all true, all powerful and without error (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6; Psalm 12:6; John 17:17; Titus 1:2). Furthermore, it equips the believer for every good work, for it is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-9). Scripture is sufficient. Scripture alone is one’s authority for the faith and practice of a Christian. Hebrews 1:1-2 (NASB) states:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.Hebrews 1:1-2 (NASB)
Who is “His Son”? That would be Jesus Christ, God in human flesh (John 1:1-14). Jesus is the Word incarnate. Moreover, He has already revealed all the Christian needs to know as it pertains to life and godliness. We do not need claims of direct revelation from God. What McKay does is not helpful. After all, when you deny the sufficiency of Scripture, anything goes. As a result, it is always best to quarantine someone who claims direct revelation from God, for that person may be carrying false doctrine.
Now you might be saying, “So go ahead, Clint. Quarantine McKay. Find out what false doctrine he has. Let us know why we should pull a Romans 16:17 and mark and avoid the guy.”
Here’s the problem; McKay has basically been faceless for almost four years. Moreover, his latest affiliated group, A Voice In The Desert, admits to being anonymous.
The gentleman who requested I do a post on McKay sent some emails to the above organization (henceforth referred to as AVID). He gave the green-light for me to post the responses he got. Here was presumably the first response he got (any bolding is done by me):
Thank you for writing. In the Cc line above (just under your email address) is the email address of a brother (Santi), who is helping to train and mobilise a few Christians from the U.S. who have quit their jobs, sold all their possessions, and pooled their resources in order to more effectively preach the gospel in all the world. Please direct any questions you have to him, as well as sharing with him any information that you think would be helpful in terms of understanding your present situation. Our videos are being spread all over the Internet, sometimes with the video title changed as well. So when someone writes to us, we don’t really know which video they have seen or where they have seen it. However, most of the videos originated from a YouTube channel, called “A Voice in the Desert” (AVID), where you can find literally hundreds of good videos. Please check it out if you haven’t already. You can use this link: http://bit.ly/3adybNm I hope you will subscribe to that channel, and click on the bell icon so that you can be notified as new videos become available. YouTube has stopped promoting our videos, and so, if you are not subscribed, you may even find it difficult to get back to AVID through searching for it. Please keep watching, and please stay in touch. In love and peace, Voice
I’ve never heard of the term “Voice” be used for someone’s name. Since AVID does call itself anonymous, maybe “Voice” is being used as an anonymous term.
Here was a second response the gentleman got. This response came from Santi:
As Voice mentioned, my name is Santi and I am part of a community of believers who work full time for Jesus. It is great that you have checked out the message we are preaching. I am not sure which videos you have seen, Voice recommended our YouTube channel, and I’ll specifically recommend the playlist on the teachings of Jesus, which gives a good idea about what it means to become a Christian. In short, we believe a Christian should follow Christ. Sounds simple enough, right? The problem is that most people don’t even know what he taught, and when they find out, they either try to say we don’t need to do it, or that he meant something different than what he said. In the end, people don’t end up following Christ. But just because most people are not getting it right, doesn’t mean we should give up. So, we persist in preaching obedience to what Jesus said, just how he said it. Here is a link to that playlist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cot5v_qY8Ow&list=PLSWJU8S4WD3gulrFr5tELMJUP7n_2H3mS Hope to hear your thoughts! In Christ, Santi
Observe that AVID admits to preaching obedience. The problem is I am not saved by obedience. In fact, by default, we are all born dead in trespasses and sins.
Ephesians 2:1-10 explains:
2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
The Bible is clear that people are born dead in trespasses and sins (2:1-3). God’s being rich in mercy makes one alive in Christ (2:4). Furthermore, it is by grace through faith that one is saved (2:5-9). It is not based on works (2:9). No amount of obedience could ever save a person (see Romans 3:1-20).
If you do not believe what Ephesians 2:1-10 states, I would ask you please look at the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen something, even if it was small? Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Jesus said that whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery in the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). Jesus also said that if you ever get angry at someone, you’ve committed murder in the heart (Matthew 5:21-26). Just the mere thoughts of adultery and murder make you guilty of the very acts themselves.
Please understand that it only takes one murder to be a murderer, one lie to be a liar and so forth. David said in Psalm 51:5 that he was conceived in sin. Genesis 6:5 states that every intent of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually. Clearly, man has a sin problem. Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Man is in big trouble with God because of his sin. This is more amplified by the fact that perfection is the standard (Matthew 5:48).
Now, some people try to justify their sin by trying to balance it out with the good deeds that they have done. However, if you were to try that in a court of law, the judge would throw the book at you. A good judge would not accept a bribe. He would cast you off into jail. God likewise will not accept a bribe, for there is no partiality with Him (Deuteronomy 10:17; Ephesians 6:9). Revelation 21:1-8 states the following (NASB):
21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among the people, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be anymourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He *said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give water to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life, without cost. 7 The one who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. 8 But for the cowardly, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and sexually immoral persons, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
The Bible is clear that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. No adulterer, no murderer, no idolater, no unbeliever (among others) will inherit the kingdom of God (see also 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Sin has a very serious consequence.
Thankfully, Jesus Christ came to solve the sin problem 2000 years ago (Isaiah 53:1-12). You and I broke the law. Jesus paid the fine (Matthew 26:14-28:20). This means that the judge can do what’s legally right in dismissing your case. He can say, “This person has broken the law, but someone has paid his fine. He’s out of here.” This is good news.
There are two things a person must do. He must repent. This means to turn from his sin (Mark 1:16; Luke 24:36-49; 2 Timothy 2:19-26; Acts 17:30-31). He must also put his trust in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31, 17:30-31; Romans 4:1-25, 10:1-17; Galatians 3:1-14; John 6:26-29). These gifts of repentance and faith are granted by God (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:22-26). If you repent and put your trust in the Savior Jesus Christ, He will forgive you of your sins and grant you everlasting life (John 6:47). Oh may you know His mercy and grace today if you have never repented and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
When the gentleman —who was very helpful in providing me leads — showed me the response from Santi, I asked if Santi had a face. The gentleman asked Santi both if he had a face and how one becomes a Christian. Here was the response he got:
Well, our belief is that to be a Christ follower, we need to do what he said, so I would say almost all of the videos tell us how to become a Christ follower. #5, though, gives the most meaty sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOc4vb0lvPs Let me know what you think! I am in a couple of videos, but I’ll let you discover those, as hopefully it’ll keep you watching! In Christ, Santi
Notice what is missing here; Santi did not cite a single biblical text in his response. Instead, he pointed the gentleman to videos from AVID. Before I go further there, notice also Santi’s emphasis on the term “Christ-follower.” In a lot of sermons I have listened to from the seeker-driven movement, the term “Christ-follower” is heavily used. Why is that an issue, you ask? Well, saying the term “Christ-follower” (or “followers of Jesus”, etc.) is a little problematic. Think of it this way: Do Muslims say they’re Mohammad-followers? Do Mormons say they’re Joseph-Smith followers? Do Buddhists say they’re Buddha-followers? Christianity is a “done” religion (and a falsifiable one at that). Those other religions are “do” religions (and works save nobody; see Romans, Galatians 1-5, Ephesians 2:1-10, etc.). The word “Christian” is not a bad word (see Acts 11:19-26). Then again, AVID does admit to preaching obedience, so perhaps its using the term “Christ-follower” works really well with its “do” (or obey) emphasis.
I mentioned that Santi pointed the gentleman to AVID’s own videos rather than a biblical text. A biblical text to consider here in this matter is Acts 20:17-38 (NASB):
17 From Miletus he sent word to Ephesus and called to himself the elders of the church. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them,
“You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was beneficial, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, 21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that chains and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of God’s grace.
25 “And now behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.26 Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all people. 27 For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. 32 And now I entrust you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes.34 You yourselves know that these hands served my own needs and the men who were with me. 35 In everything I showed you that by working hard in this way you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
36 When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And they all began to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him, 38 grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship.
Here’s a question to ask; did Santi try and draw people to Jesus Christ in his response, or to a video by AVID? The answer is the latter, and keep in mind AVID’s emphasis on obedience. AVID’s pointing people to itself rather than the words of Christ in the Bible is an action in alignment with wolves who draw people after themselves. With stuff like this allegedly happening, calling AVID a group of wolves is not really far-fetched to do.
At this point, I’ve refuted the faceless bunch perhaps more than enough. What I do now is explain whether or not it is worth it to really extensively refute faceless, anonymous teachers. Here are some questions worth asking as it pertains to interacting with faceless (even admittedly anonymous) teachers, groups and the like:
- Is one able to “Matthew 18” anonymous relationships?
- Can you preach the Gospel to anonymous individuals?
- Can you name any anonymous people who were persecuted?
- Can you persecute a screen name?
- How do you do evangelism to anonymous people you’ll never meet?
I can ask more questions, but I hope you get the idea by now. I’d like to now show some biblical texts to consider. Mind you that none of these texts have anything to do with social media or anonymous individuals. Having stated that, they should show something about personal, face-to-face relationships.
13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.Matthew 5:13-16 (NASB)
Speaking to His disciples (Matthew 5:1-2), Jesus tells His disciples (who were not nameless or faceless, per Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20) that their light must shine before people. How does it shine under anonymity? How does a faceless, anonymous group claiming to be Christian shine like a city on a hill?
Now, I’m not stating that AVID is a city on a hill. My brief refutations of AVID and David McKay should show that. Let’s say for the sake of argument that AVID/McKay was preaching sound doctrine. Why the need to blur a face? Why be anonymous?
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the greedy and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to leave the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is a sexually immoral person, or a greedy person, or an idolater, or is verbally abusive, or habitually drunk, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what business of mine is it to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the evil person from among yourselves.1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NASB)
How do you remove an anonymous person from the church? Doesn’t church purification become basically impossible with anonymity? One would have to undo much of the Bible to promote anonymity.
5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Your speech must always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.Colossians 4:5-6 (NASB)
In order for one to know who is inside the church and who is outside, one must do away with anonymity. Paul wrote his letters to real, identifiable churches/people.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you’re a recipient of one of these letters, but the letter was anonymous. How does one know if the person behind that letter is a wolf in sheep’s clothing or a soldier for Christ? Is there any reason to trust the letter?
5 Therefore, I urge elders among you, as your fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and one who is also a fellow partaker of the glory that is to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not with greed but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as domineering over those assigned to your care, but by proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.1 Peter 5:1-4 (NASB)
How does a pastor shepherd its flock if he does not know who his flock is? Why trust a so-called ministry if you cannot tell who the people are? How does one know the people behind the ministry aren’t under church discipline? How does one know these people behind the so-called ministry are members of a local church? Also, are there any anonymous people in the Lamb’s book of Life (Revelation 20:12)?
12 “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains, and go and search for the one that is lost? 13 And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that have not gone astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven for one of these little ones to perish.
15 “Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be confirmed. 17 And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”Matthew 18:12-20 (NASB)
How does the man in verse 12 know the one who is lost if the lost one is anonymous? Moreover, how does one tell an issue to the church if the offending party is anonymous? It would be completely asinine to even try such a thing.
1 The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. 3 For I was overjoyed when brothers came and testified to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth. 4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
5 Beloved, you are acting faithfully in whatever you accomplish for the brothers and sisters, and especially when they are strangers;6 and they have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. 7 For they went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. 8 Therefore we ought to support such people, so that we may prove to be fellow workers with the truth.
9 I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. 10 For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with malicious words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brothers either, and he forbids those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.3 John 1-10 (NASB)
How can one effectively address an anonymous Gaius (verse 1)? How would a pastor address an anonymous Diotrephes (verse 9)?
4 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave, although he is owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 3 So we too, when we were children, were held in bondage under the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons and daughters. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
8 However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles, to which you want to be enslaved all over again? 10 You meticulously observe days and months and seasons and years. 11 I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.
12 I beg of you, brothers and sisters, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; 13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and you did not despise that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition, nor express contempt, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I testify about you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They eagerly seek you, not in a commendable way, but they want to shut you out so that you will seek them. 18 But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable way, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— 20 but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone of voice, for I am at a loss about you!Galatians 4:1-20 (NASB)
Paul is wishing to be present with the church of Galatia in this beautiful letter that affirms and defends the precious doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. There’s no room for anonymity here.
2 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that somehow I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 Yet it was a concern because of the false brothers secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy on our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to enslave us. 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them, even for an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. 6 But from those who were of considerable repute (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no favoritism)—well, those who were of repute contributed nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who was at work for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised was at work for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of some men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and separate himself, fearing those from the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from the Gentiles;16 nevertheless, knowing that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Far from it! 18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a wrongdoer. 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”Galatians 2:1-21 (NASB)
Paul opposed Peter to Peter’s face because Peter stood condemned. Moreover, this was done in the presence of all. There was nothing anonymous about that interaction.
Recall that AVID’s “About” section on its Youtube page stated the following (bolding done by me):
A Voice in the Desert is anonymous. Its purpose is to point people to the message, rather than the messenger. Most modern day prophets promote themselves more than the teachings of Jesus and the true message of Revelation. A Voice in the Desert challenges that error and more.
I do agree that promoting self is a bad thing (2 Corinthians 4:1-7). However, does one technically need to be anonymous to point people to “the message, rather than the messenger”? Is there anything wrong with identifying yourself? Obviously, that answer is “no” given the texts I have already shown. Consider these texts as well (all bolding outside of verse numbers done by me):
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,4 who was declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles in behalf of His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Romans 1:1-7 (NASB)
1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2 To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (NASB)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and ourbrother Timothy,
To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Corinthians 1:1-2 (NASB)
That apostle Paul loved pointing to himself by naming himself in the opening line of those three books, didn’t he? Never-mind the fact he was only an apostle of Christ Jesus who preached Christ Jesus and Him crucified for our sins (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5; 2 Corinthians 4:1-7). Paul didn’t need to be anonymous to do so. Just because one puts his name out there does not automatically mean he is pointing to himself.
Here are more texts:
1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through human agency, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.Galatians 1:1-5 (NASB)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To the saints who are at Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Ephesians 1:1-2 (NASB)
Keep in mind that all Scripture is inspired of God, who cannot lie (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6; Titus 1:2; Psalm 12:6; John 17:17; John 10:35). If anonymity was such a virtue (and it certainly is not), don’t you think God would make it a clear point to keep Paul’s name hidden?
You might retort, “But the author of Hebrews was anonymous.”
Was it really?
Consider this text:
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such a declaration as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory: “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this declaration made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture becomes a matter of someone’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.2 Peter 1:16-21 (NASB)
Ultimately, the Holy Spirit authored Hebrews, so that book is technically not anonymous. The human author is unknown, but the ultimate source is most certainly known.
I continue with the epistle beginnings that I have been citing ad nauseam.
1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:1-2 (NASB)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.Colossians 1:1-2 (NASB)
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.1 Thessalonians 1:1 (NASB)
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.2 Thessalonians 1:1-2 (NASB)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,
2 To Timothy, my true son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.1 Timothy 1:1-2 (NASB)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.2 Timothy 1:1-2 (NASB)
1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3 but at the proper time revealed His word in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, my true son in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.Titus 1:1-4 (NASB)
1 Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,
To Philemon our beloved brother and fellow worker, 2 and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Philemon 1-3 (NASB)
Can a fellow worker really be anonymous? How could anyone think of partnering with AVID when nobody really knows the faces behind that organization?
1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.
2 Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.James 1:1-4 (NASB)
Paul was not the only one who had his name in the first line of an epistle; James did too.
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who reside as strangers, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.1 Peter 1:1-2 (NASB)
Peter also got in on the action of having his name in the first line of an epistle he authored.
1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.2 Peter 1:1-4 (NASB)
1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.Jude 1-2 (NASB)
Jude also had his name in the first line of a book he authored.
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, everything that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— 6 and He made us into a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.Revelation 1:1-6 (NASB)
Add John to this growing list of people who had their names featured in the opening line of a book.
1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.Isaiah 1:1 (NASB)
Even the Old Testament prophet Isaiah had his name at the beginning of a book. He must have loved promoting himself. Never-mind the fact he came undone when he saw the holiness of God (Isaiah 6:1-13). I hope you spotted the sarcasm there (no worries if you did not; it’s hard to spot in writing, hence my disclaimer).
Here is one final text for consideration:
12 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman); 2 and they said, “Is it a fact that the Lord has spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the Lord heard this.3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any person who was on the face of the earth.)Numbers 12:1-3 (NASB)
Moses was known, and God put in His Word that Moses was humble. Moses was also one of those guys who had his name shown in the opening line of a book (Leviticus 1:1; Numbers 1:1; Deuteronomy 1:1).
Does AVID really think it is doing people favors by claiming anonymity? Even other Old Testament authors like Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Solomon and Daniel had their names in the book’s opening line. I could go on with this one (like I haven’t already). Simply put, claiming anonymity in the name of pointing people to a message rather than a messenger is not humble. It’s not virtuous. It’s something else. It’s a “something else” that does not do favors for anybody.
Before I cited a plethora of Scriptures that showed book authors who were identified in a book’s opening line, I pointed to many Scriptures showing many face-to-face settings involving real, identifiable people. There are many more texts alongside those (see 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Matthew 28:18-20; Titus 3:9-12; Galatians 6:1-5; Matthew 5:21-26; Hebrews 10:19-25; Hebrews 13:1-21; 2 Corinthians 12:14-13:14; Acts 2:41-47; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 1 Timothy 5:17-20; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 1; Galatians 1; Revelation 2-3; Romans 16; Ephesians 4:25-32; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Acts 15). When the apostle Paul named the names of false teachers, he named the names of those who could be personally identified (see 2 Timothy 1:15, 2:17, 3:8, 4:10, 4:14; 3 John 9). Can faceless, anonymous people be identified the way the false teachers of Paul’s day were identified? That is something to think about.
I now close with both a confession and a call to repentance.
First, I confess that I was once the faceless and basically nameless individual who was writing blog posts in the name of discernment (or whatever it was). My former blog was faithcontenderblog.wordpress.com. I went by the name “CT Adams” (Thomas is my middle name, but I really should have used my first and last name for the sake of being more clearly identifiable). However, I had no face attached to my name. This was also the case for my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts (specifically the picture part). I was a rather reviling individual (a bad thing, per such texts as 1 Corinthians 5:11 and 1 Corinthians 6:10). I remember reviling this organization called The God Culture in an unprovoked hit piece (my words). I would also just unleash on organizations and people on Facebook and Twitter. Many times, I got blocked on Twitter. I also got blocked or defriended on Facebook on a few occasions (even getting blocked from commenting on pages). It was sinful and wrong since I did it unprovoked. I was the perp in the scenario. I wasn’t really looking for meaningful discussion; I was a person in cage-stage (different story for another day) who got loose way too early. I ended up getting off social media in October 2018 because I was so out of control.
About a week after I got off social media, a sermon (preached by a guy I now humbly have called my pastor for the last year) really made me rethink the whole social media thing. I ended up staying off of social media for 18 months, refraining from coming back unless I could do it right (i.e., with a name/face attached with a lot more civility in my behavior). I also took down my blog shortly after social media went out the window (think summer 2019). I stopped doing book reviews for Moody Publishers and I stopped answering questions from GotQuestions.Org. I did not want to do those things again unless I could put my name and face behind what I do. I also needed to make something right.
In November 2019, I wrote an email to The God Culture. I apologized for the hit piece that I wrote (only reason I remember the date is because I have their response in my email). The organization both extended grace and forgave me. That was the one thing I needed to make right before I could really do anything else internet-related as it pertained to writing. The next month, I started to rebuild at a snail’s pace in starting up a new blog.
In April 2020, I did resume both consistently writing and being on social media. I now have a name and a face behind both my posts and my social media activity. Moreover, I use social media as a tool for networking and writing instead of a battleground for going after false teachers and heretics. It has not been perfect, but it is leaps and bounds above how I used to be.
Now, why do I state that confession? I do that because you don’t wanna be that nameless, faceless individual that I was. It’s not a good path. It’s a sinful one. It’s far from a biblical one. It can get out of control. It does nobody any favors. Thankfully, God granted me eyes to see and ears to hear. He is merciful.
I close this article with a call to repentance. May people/organizations like David McKay and AVID repent of their false doctrine (which I displayed albeit briefly). May they also refrain from being faceless and admittedly anonymous individuals. They’re not doing anybody any favors by claiming anonymity while trying to do stuff in the name of Jesus. May they submit themselves under church leadership. May they submit themselves to a pastor who will feed them God’s Word rightly handled. May they be forgiven of their false doctrine, for Jesus Christ even bled and died for those sins.
This call to repentance goes for all other individuals/organizations hiding behind a screen name, anonymity and/or blurred faces (while at the same time preaching false doctrine and/or trying to do stuff in the name of Jesus). These people don’t need excessive refutation due to their anonymity (even though I technically did that with all the Scripture); they need evangelization, discipleship and heavy doses of God’s Word. They can only hide for so long (see Ecclesiastes 10:20; Luke 12:1-3; Luke 8:17; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Timothy 5:24-25; Romans 2:16; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Psalm 139:1-6; Jeremiah 17:10). May they come out of hiding so that proper actions (discipline, guidance, evangelism, correction, reproof, etc.) can be taken.