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Mariners Church seems to have lost their identity as a nurturing local congregation and appears to be changing into a media brand, all the while neglecting its attendees. It wasn't that long ago that the whole weekend volunteer team became disillusioned and walked off. They've had close to a dozen staff leave the preschool over toxic leadership (allegedly). Elders and long term volunteers are leaving. Long standing bible studies and communities of people were kicked off campus. Too many good men and women are getting cancelled, silenced and pushed out of the congregation. This megachurch has become a mega bummer for many people. In its wake, Mariners Church has broken communities of believers and damaged hearts strewn all over the place. Has their pride overwhelmed their ability to love their church family well?

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Hypocrisy and Legalism, Part #7

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Roger Roger

Hypocrisy and Legalism, Part #7

Post by Roger Roger »

On June 5, 2022, Eric Geiger gave a message entitled, "How Not to Be Miserable." He started with a story about 500 WWII American and British POWs being held 30 miles behind the battle lines and how 121 volunteers liberated them from their 3 yearlong captivity in the Philippine jungle. Interesting, when their rescuers rushed in many of the prisoners were not all able to accept or mentally process they had their freedom; accept their liberation from captivity. They were unsure and at first resistant to leave the authority of their Japanese captors. They were not use to living and thinking with a mindset based on personal freedom. Eric Geiger put it this way,

"People who are set free are having a hard time living free. They've known this captivity and that's all they've known for three years. They're having a difficult time believing they are actually free. They've become accustom to their captivity. And in many ways, I've have been just like these soldiers. Because after becoming a Christian, Christ has set me free. He has barged in; he has announced victory by securing my forgiveness on the cross, in my place for my sins when he yelled out, "It is finished" as he died for me and for you. He secured our liberty, but so many times I am just like these POWs. I go back to the prison that Christ has set me free from." This is a good point. Remember his (EG) confession.

Eric Geiger (EG) encourages us not to go back to our spiritual/emotional prison of trying to prove ourselves worthy of God's love or to find satisfaction in God's creation versus God himself. Maybe you’re a pleaser and your prison might be codependency and or the approval of people. Do you live in the freedom of Jesus's grace and forgiveness over your life or do you have a tendency to run back to your prison of unbiblical thinking?

Next EG attempts to tie his central point that we are all legalists or recovering legalists (our need to return to prison) to his biblical point of us all having a God given freedom through Jesus and the cross. Enjoying our freedom in Jesus and our walk with God rather than earning our way or trying to please God to receive His love and grace. He also points out when we force our point of view onto others in an effort to restrict them in their God given freedom, we sin ourselves. The sin is legalism. Another memorable point to remember!

Appropriately, EG takes us to the scriptures for guidance, Galatians 5:1-24. For reference, I've presented the Amplified bible to help expand and ease our understanding of the verses. This very important scripture illustrates the unbiblical nature of Mariner's Church Irvine and its toxic culture.

Walk by the Spirit

It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].

2 Notice, it is I, Paul, who tells you that if you receive circumcision [as a supposed requirement of salvation], Christ will be of no benefit to you [for you will lack the faith in Christ that is necessary for salvation]. 3 Once more I solemnly affirm to every man who receives circumcision [as a supposed requirement of salvation], that he is under obligation and required to keep the whole Law. 4 You have been severed from Christ, if you seek to be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] through the Law; you have fallen from grace [for you have lost your grasp on God’s unmerited favor and blessing]. 5 For we [not relying on the Law but] through the [strength and power of the Holy] Spirit, by faith, are waiting [confidently] for the hope of righteousness [the completion of our salvation]. 6 For [if we are] in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but only faith activated and expressed and working through love.

7 You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ]. 9 A little leaven [a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers] leavens the whole batch [it perverts the concept of faith and misleads the church]. 10 I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view [contrary to mine on the matter]; but the one who is disturbing you, whoever he is, will have to bear the penalty. 11 But as for me, brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision [as I had done before I met Christ; and as some accuse me of doing now, as necessary for salvation], why am I still being persecuted [by Jews]? In that case the stumbling block of the cross [to unbelieving Jews] has been abolished. 12 I wish that those who are troubling you [by teaching that circumcision is necessary for salvation] would even [go all the way and] castrate themselves!

13 For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the [e]sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another. 14 For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].” 15 But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another.

16 But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the [h]sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. 18 But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law. 19 Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.


1. EG confesses that he fights his own prison of seeking popularity and legalism. He tells us that he can fall into legalism and thus, it explains why he created the current legalistic "Simple Church" culture at Mariners Irvine.

2. When we force our point of view onto others in an effort to restrict them in their God given freedom, we sin ourselves. The sin is legalism. Only compliance to Simple Church, Rooted and small groups is allowed at Mariners. They may say they teach having a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit and we have God given freedom, but it is not allowed to be practiced at Mariners. Only staff can hear from God. Lay leaders are only allowed to follow and do as they're told or you will be cancelled and expelled. This is why they've lost scores and scores of mature lay leaders and volunteers. They are in crisis and don't know why.

3. Verse 6, the only thing that means anything is faith activated and expressed and working through love. Mariners has demonstrated that they were anything but loving to people in this series of messages. Accordingly, these biblical passages would lead us to believe the staff were operating from their flesh and not by the Spirit. Moreover, Simple Church and the current leaders appear more dominated by the flesh than the Spirit. This is not a small thing.

4. Verse 7-10, there are those who deceive and even the slightest deviation from scripture is not from the Holy Spirit so beware you are not led astray into heresy. False teachers are false teachers even if they do it unintentionally. The forcing of Simple Church and Rooted onto the congregation in such a militaristic and dominate way was the height of legalism, arrogance and self-interest. We need to be set free from "Simple Church" and the legalism it represents.

5. Verse 14, for the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is fulfilled in one precept, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, you shall have an unselfish concern for others and do things for their benefit].” Amen! This is not the culture at Mariners church. The morning of this message, the worship leader DK said something like, if you've ever considered volunteering, God wants you to come to this volunteer meeting. This was grievous and wrong. 1) I've been around him and never sensed or seen him to be one who openly practices spiritual gifts 2) this was presented from the main stage and said as if it were prophetic. I didn't sense it was 3) if it was supposed to be humorous it wasn't appropriate humor. It was actually self-serving for the flailing volunteer shortage and a symptom of a much bigger problem of toxic church culture.

6. 6. Verse 16, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. This goes along with #2, biblically we are called to an active Spirit filled relationship with the Holy Spirit that calls us to hear and respond to him, but this is not practiced or allowed at Mariners and under the controlling Simple Church dogma. By denying disciples their God given freedom and deterring them from exercising their relationship, listening to and following the leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit, they grieve the Spirit and bind His disciples to fight their flesh and walk aimlessly without the God given direction available to them. They leash them to spiritual weakness.

7. 7. Verse 17, tells us that our spirit and the Holy Spirit when we are connected together are in opposition to our sinful nature. Thus, we should habitually seek out the Holy Spirit or we are encouraging our sinful nature and the people that promulgate this attitude at Mariners are operating in their sinful flesh and not their activated spirit. This is a most serious breach, grieves of the Holy Spirit and will keep you from reaching the fullness of your God intended spiritual walk. This church is poorly managed and will hold you back.

Over these posts, it has been shown that the senior pastor, men's pastor and singles pastor have all acted more like the sinful nature found in verse 20 than the fruit of the Spirit in verse 22 and 23. You should ask yourself, "Why would I go to church here? Why do I contribute here and volunteer here? What am I thinking?" Are your answers similar to those given to rationalize the behavior for the sexually abusive Catholic priests? Are you full of self-interest, awe for man made things, willing to overlook serious spiritual blunders? Honestly, what keeps you going? Is God really leading you there? It's time for a awakening and a reality check!