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Each October, a half-million visitors invade Salem, Massachusetts. During the month-long Halloween festival, our little city of 40,000 gets overtaken by an eclectic whirlwind of costumes, families, partiers, and occult practitioners from around the ...

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Displaying 1–117 of 117 comments

audrey ruth

December 03, 2013  12:51am

Good tip, Lois. I looked it up and my concerns were confirmed. Phil Wyman says himself that he is not out to convert witches and Wiccans (his big unChristian supporter in Salem says he is a witch, not a Wiccan). Since he is not out to convert them, where does that leave them? On their way to the Lake of Fire which they mock in song. God tells us that He is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. But there is no record here, nor in Phil Wyman's comments I found elsewhere, that any witches, warlocks, or pagans are called to repent of evil and renounce the way of darkness.

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Lois Tamara

November 29, 2013  3:49pm

People, people people...do your homework on Phil Wyman. You are missing the well-documented forest for the trees on this character and what his "ministry" is all about.

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audrey ruth

November 25, 2013  11:55pm

Good grief, Matt, how did you miss the reality of what I actually said? I used the word "typically" because I HAVE seen so many situations where extra-Biblical things are done in the guise of the Holy Spirit. In many (and my experience, most) cases, the spirits at work are not the Holy Spirit. I haven't heard of Audrey Harper, so I haven't read anything she's written. The people I mentioned who signed contracts with Satan in a mixture of their blood and urine lived in something close to hell on earth while they were in that bondage. They got the "benefits" of those contracts, but the horrific consequences weren't worth it. This Salem/Halloween circus may not be actively attended by real witches and warlocks, except for those who are quietly scoping out possible recruits. I praise God for anyone who is sent there by the Holy Spirit, who speaks the truth in love, as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. I just didn't see anything here about calls to repentance.

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Matt Arnold

November 24, 2013  4:12am

Goodness? Who is good? The Good Samaritan - one who broke down religious barriers and crossed over them to help someone in need. Jesus - who moved into the neighbourhood, as these people have done, living alongside the community to be there for them. Contrast the bussed in "fire and forget / in your face / scream until you're foaming" type preachers who attempt to steal the long work being done in this community with their inappropriate methods... Faithfulness? A ministry that's taken years of work, that's taken a willingness to walk outside of the traditional bounds of Christianity and step in faith with the leading of the Holy Spirit to speak to those who don't know Christ or have a wrong view due to bullhorners who are so faithful they only turn up at Halloween parties... Gentleness? Speaking the truth in love takes gentleness, not the brash bullhorner attitude which is in no way gentle!... Self control? It takes a lot to avoid total syncretism, which I pray these guys hold on to.

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Matt Arnold

November 24, 2013  4:07am

Let's see what fruits of the Spirit are in this missional attempt: Love? It takes love to go to a people not your own, to learn their language and to reach out to them in ways that don't instantly put their backs up. Unlike the bullhorn preachers...Joy? There is a great amount of joy in their words from what I've read - unlike the false joy of the bullhorner shouting hellfire, damnation and calling them whores etc... Peace? This is a work of peace making, building bridges and attempting to speak peace into their lives, unlike the "peace"ful noise of the bullhorner... Patience? It's a long journey to travel with some people - years at times, unlike the patience shown here with the removal of Kelly's posts, unlike the patience of doing an altar call via a bullhorn expecting instant results (a Western impatience I call "the Instant Coffee Missionary")... Kindness? These people making themselves available with more than just shouting - their time. What is kind in calling someone a whore?..

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Matt Arnold

November 24, 2013  2:20am

For Audrey and Marilyn on here, and anyone else interested in this sort of thing and who have an open mind to how good may be speaking to people where they are at, can I recommend the following books? "Beyond the Burning Times" by Johnson et al "Dawning of the Pagan Moon" by David Burnett "Mission Shaped Evangelism" by Steve Hollinghurst These are Christian books which are appropriate to missiology in these contexts. Avoid books by Audrey Harper as they contain many falsehoods which have been proved so. The trouble is that the publisher makes much money from them (this joining in bearing false witness). A quick trip to Amazon shows them inexpensive at the moment. Open your eyes and heart to the Spirit and pray for discernment and the truth to be revealed.

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Matt Arnold

November 24, 2013  2:13am

Re signing contracts with Satan in blood.... What were the details of the contract? If it is one of those 'I sold my soul to the devil' contacts, the Bible specifically states that all life belongs to God and that we as the clay are not our own. So we don't own our souls to be able to give away. Such a 'contract' isn't valid and is purely either sensationalist or based n ignorance which binds. I regularly meet witches who don't dress up as you describe and they are generally private about their faith because they don't want to be persecuted by ignorant people. Much like Christians in China. Re infiltration in the church - some examples would be good to back up your argument as I've heard this before and never been able to find any substance to it. Please supply one to analyse. All the trouble in the churches I know is caused by Christians who think they know best and laud it over others in a power mania. I have experienced crucifixion by Christians many times when showing them up.

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Matt Arnold

November 24, 2013  2:01am

Ok, so rather than just chunter on, I thought I'd learn something and did some research Re. Point 1- have you read the lyrics for the Nirvana "Lake of Fire" song? I'm thinking you might actually agree with the lyrics tbh. The lake of fire is mentioned in Rev, so I believe you could say it's a Godly concept after all. Check it out in the Bible. The song is by the Meat Puppets originally. Lots of people have written much worse songs lyrically and have not committed suicide so I'm not sure your argument holds much water. If you are to argue effectively against something, you need to study logic and rhetoric so you won't come unstuck and so make your cause look bad I'm afraid. 2 - dream interpretation isn't a gift of the Holy Spirit, but it's a biblically documented gift. You use the word 'typically', which means you don't have first hand experience of these people's work, so is it right to condemn what you don't know? I think not. 'I wonder...' again you argue based on ignorance :(

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audrey ruth

November 21, 2013  11:43pm

Matt, here are two big concerns: 1) The "sing-a-long about the Lake of Fire" (the author's words) mentioned in the next to last paragraph on page 3. The referenced song is said to be by Nirvana, which is named for a totally unGodly concept. Why would anyone celebrate the Lake of Fire? That's the kind of stuff Nirvana has always done, and it's why Kurt Cobain's life was so wasted and ended as it did. This doesn't sound like people who are "in the world but not of it". 2) I believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but dream interpretation is not listed as a gift of the Spirit. I have seen such things operate in churches. Typically, the words which are given are sweetness and light** without balancing calls for repentance such as the Lord gave through Joseph and Daniel. **I wonder if the "psalm readings" are like this too. I hope not. The overall tone sounds like this fits right in with the shenanigans which celebrate the kingdom of darkness at Salem each Halloween.

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audrey ruth

November 21, 2013  11:29pm

Matt, the witches and warlocks I referenced had signed contracts with Satan in a mixture of their own blood and urine. I'm not talking about people who like to dress up and show up at Salem at Halloween; I seriously doubt that a lot of them have made that level of commitment. The ones I know who lived this way before they were delivered out of that nefarious kingdom into God's marvelous light by the power of Jesus Christ never did such things; they were very secretive and their covens' activities were very secretive. They were typically highly-educated, held regular jobs, outwardly lived regular lives, and they did not go around drawing attention to themselves. They were so secretive, they were able to infiltrate churches and wreak havoc among leadership and throughout churches as well. This does not mean that people who've made 'lesser' commitments don't need the Lord, of course. Many of them don't even realize they're serving Satan. Even if they don't, the oppression is there.

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Matt Arnold

November 21, 2013  7:59am

Audrey, I use a Samsung S3 mini to access the Internet, so my screen size is very small, and I'm reading in about 2pt font, so find it very difficult to read through the over 100 posts on here. Is it possible you could bullet point them so I have a clearer idea rather than remain in the dark on this issue. I do hope this reasonable request isn't deleted and / or ignored. As someone who works alongside real pagans (witches, druids and Asatru) as the hands, feet and mouth of Christ in the UK, I often experience hostility from Christians who misunderstand missiology and say all sorts of horrible, accusatory and false things about me, simply because I go where the Spirit leads me. I meet Christians who say they were into witchcraft but when you drill down into what they were involved with, many of them weren't, they just liked to make up stories (which when checked were proved false), so I test Christian testimonies out thoroughly. We are not to bear false witness in testimonies.

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audrey ruth

November 20, 2013  8:25pm

Back on topic: Whether witches and warlocks realize they are serving Satan or not (some do), the Word of God is clear. Any ignorance on their part does not change the fact. The Lord says the devil has blinded the eyes of unbelievers, witches or not. Should we take Him at His Word, or do we make up our own 'truth' as we go along? Jesus was revealed from heaven for this very purpose, that He might destroy ALL the works of the devil. Many times people chastise Christians for speaking Truth by telling them to love. However, God's love and truth cannot be divorced. Mercy and truth kissed in Christ Jesus. He loved and loves more than any human - He IS love - and not even once did He ever compromise Truth. He said, "If you continue in My Word, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." He told us, "Speak the truth in love." Love without truth is not God's love. It is a pale imitation which leads to spiritual ruin. He specifically tells us NOT to engage in spiritual darkness.

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audrey ruth

November 20, 2013  4:48pm

Matt, my comment about unfruitful works of darkness was not about dream interpretation, per se (although I do have valid concerns about that). If you read my earlier comments, you'll see my concerns. That would be quicker than me having to copy and paste them again.

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audrey ruth

November 20, 2013  4:46pm

Matt, was that written to me? Because I could have written every word of it - except your assertion that "most Christians reject" such people. I've never been part of a church that rejected anybody. The primary teaching has been that God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. And believers have put feet to that belief.

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Matt Arnold

November 20, 2013  4:42pm

Audrey, what participation in works of darkness are you saying these people participate in? I am confused? If it's dream interpretation - I hardly think that's a work of darkness. Are you a cessationist?

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Matt Arnold

November 20, 2013  4:37pm

... Have been made clean on the inside only need a wash on the outside. What Jesus is telling us is actually to GO into the highways, byways, places where people are at, both physically and spiritually, to travel ALONGSIDE them as Jesus did with Emmaus Road. What if Jesus is saying to go to those who he is drawing to himself (because when he was lifted up he would draw all unto himself). What if those who claim to follow Christ refuse to go into ALL the world but remain separate and keep their "salt" in their cellar? What if God is speaking to people where they are at in ways they are accustomed to (eg the astrologers were led by conjunctions in the heavenly bodies - a language they were used to), but some Christians who can't get their head around it try and quench the fire of the Spirit in those who try to follow the Spirit into these places where people are, speaking their language? Surely we should rejoice there are people skilled in reaching a people most Christians reject?

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audrey ruth

November 20, 2013  4:36pm

Kelly, I am familiar with those scriptures. You had earlier mentioned a gift of dream INTERPRETATION, not God speaking directly to people in dreams. I've only seen God giving interpretations of other people's dreams to Joseph and Daniel. His purpose was to challenge unbelievers to recognize Him as God and submit their lives to Him. One of the issues I have with things like this (I've witnessed these things in churches) is that people DO invariably only give out words of sweetness and light - love without truth, which is not God's love.

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audrey ruth

November 20, 2013  4:30pm

Matt, there is a difference between innate gifts such as you listed, and the gifts of the Spirit. Unbelievers have natural gifts and talents. The Holy Spirit is only given to those who receive Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord. The gifts of the Spirit issue forth from Him, are gifts to His children for the purpose of ministry. I haven't seen anyone here say it is wrong to befriend someone who is not a believer. Jesus DID do this, constantly. But He did not participate in unfruitful works of darkness. I believe this is what He meant by being "as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves".

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Matt Arnold

November 20, 2013  4:24pm

God gives gifts without repentance - even unbelievers are given gifts by the Holy Spirit! Is being able to program a computer website a gift? Yes. Who gives that gift? God. Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes Is programming a computer a gift of God? Yes Is programming a computer a gift of the Spirit? Yes Is programming a computer a gift mentioned in Scripture? No. Therefore are the gifts of the Spirit only limited to a list in Scripture, with no opportunity for expansion as time passes? No. Scripture is the base line we use to live by. But that doesn't mean we are to switch or brains of and fail to think things logically through (logic is a gift of the Spirit). What I find sad is that people are frowned on for being a friend to those who walk a different path to the Christ path. Surely the fact Jesus moved into the neighbourhood and made himself a little lower than the angels, associating with prostitutes, drunkards, "sinners", etc, along with telling us that those who...

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audrey ruth

November 20, 2013  2:16pm

No lectures here. Just scriptures which express my thoughts and concerns. God bless everyone.

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Kelly Williams

November 19, 2013  9:08pm

Please stop lecturing us about God's love, when we are the ones who heard for ourselves the street preachers screaming at women names like lesbian whore and slut. They even told a minister on our team that he was gay! Just for the record, one of the people the street preacher called a lesbian whore is a heterosexual, born-again Christian! They had absolutely no discernment and are so hate-filled it blinds them to their appalling lack of love. They really think they're doing God and people a favor to go out on the streets and act like that! If that is your idea of a demonstration of your god's love, I don't want the tiny, hateful god you serve, and neither does anyone else! You need to realize that is how you and the street preachers are coming across. If you truly believe you have The God in your heart, then you and the street preachers need to reevaluate your methods and find a better way in which to communicate that love, because right now ya'll are a TOTAL FAIL at demonstrating it!

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audrey ruth

November 19, 2013  2:10am

Laura, you judge and condemn me as "ignorant" without knowing one thing about my spiritual background. And you base your accusation on the fact that I quoted God's own Word: "Learn not the ways of the heathen." Your response to this consisted of your own words based on your own thoughts. For the record, I have indeed had direct contact with former witches from whom I have learned of their former lifestyle. I have read a number of such testimonies as well. THEY are the first ones to say how dangerous it is to open one's spirit and heart and mind to the ways of the heathen. You say they are people - yes, they are. I said so. I said they are people who are in bondage to pagan belief systems, which is the truth. Do you not know this? Above all, they are people for whom Christ Jesus died. He told us to take the Gospel to every people, every land. He did not tell us to join pagans in their activities, but to lift up His love and truth and power as THEIR ONLY HOPE.

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Laura D

November 18, 2013  1:40pm

Audrey- I'm particularly interested in answering one of your questions. "You say that "a local witch and friend of the church, spoke to the group about life as a witch." Why?" The answer is to eliminate fear of the unknown so that people can see witches as people and not as "people who are in bondage to pagan belief systems" as you say. Also, you say "The Lord tells us not to learn the way of the heathen." You are using this as justification to maintain your ignorance. You call all things related to Halloween "dark shenanigans" Perhaps Lilli did not mean to refer to you as judgmental and condemning, but I do. You are hellbent on maintaining your ignorance. Let me ask you a question, how can you claim you are not a "fearful opposer" if you refuse to even speak to a witch?

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Laura D

November 18, 2013  1:00pm

Oh Kelly, I'm afraid you may have opened up a can of worms. "Witches do NOT pledge allegiance to Satan. This is a very common misconception. You might want to actually befriend some witches and find out what they really believe before you publicly state things like that." Some of the people commenting on this article have made it perfectly clear that they have no intention of clearing up there own misconceptions. How do you expect them to understand what you're saying when people like audrey have clearly stated they will never ever talk to a witch. I find the general ignorance here sad, but I hope you will not let it get in the way of you continuing to bring your lovely self to Salem every year.

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Kelly Williams

November 17, 2013  10:13pm

Witches do NOT pledge allegiance to Satan. This is a very common misconception. You might want to actually befriend some witches and find out what they really believe before you publicly state things like that. **** Also, if you're going to stand with the "whatever is not of faith is sin..." thing, let's talk about fear. Did you know that fear is not of God? Perfect love casts out all fear. If you're going to use that scripture, then the thought would follow that if you have any fear, we should stone you!

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Margaret Phillips

November 17, 2013  9:15pm

Just a question. n Deuteronomy 18:10 (and other places), God condemns witchcraft, and calls for the death of anyone practicing witchcraft. While I absolutely believe we need to share the Gospel with every soul on earth, can we call witches friends if they refuse to denounce their allegiance to Satan (since God condemned the practice, it was not from God; whatever is not of faith is sin [Romans 14:23]).

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Kelly Williams

November 16, 2013  9:56pm

"When this wonderful move of God is opposed by dictators, cults, and witch doctors, the church thrives. When it is opposed by our brothers and sisters, it is weakened. That is the difference between the outpouring in the US, and the outpouring in Mozambique." ~ Bill Johnson ***** Just another little reminder that we are called to love one another and be "fruit bearers", NOT "fruit inspectors". They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love....

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Kelly Williams

November 16, 2013  9:53pm

I never said interpreting dreams was a gift of the spirit. Prophecy IS a gift of the spirit. It is a revelatory gift when God tells us something that we would not otherwise know. The purpose of that gift is to "comfort, encourage and exhort". It really doesn't matter if you believe in it or not, because millions of believers flow in the use of it every single day. I happen to be one of those believers, and so are the other people on our ministry team. You not believing in it, sure isn't making God's flow of it stop! In order to interpret dreams, one would need a revelatory gift (like prophecy) because like it says in Genesis 40:8 “They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” God is not a respecter of people. If Joseph could flow in dream interpretation, anyone can.

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audrey ruth

November 15, 2013  5:33pm

Michelle, you have seriously misjudged me, as I don't live in fear of anything, thanks to Christ Jesus who has set me free. The holy fear of God (translated 'worship' in the NT) is the beginning of all wisdom. The love of God casts out all ungodly fear, and He has not given His people a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. You have also inaccurately misjudged me as 'legalistic'. By your definition, every NT writer is a legalist. Not comparing myself to them, of course, but they did in fact issue many warnings about 'the unfruitful works of darkness'. Jesus said, "By their fruits you shall know them", and the fruit of Cobain's life sadly speaks for itself. No doubt he was hurting - that's the point: The love and truth and power of God could have delivered him from everything the devil used to destroy him. That is why Jesus came, to destroy all the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)

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Michelle Pritzl

November 13, 2013  6:41pm

Audrey Rose, Seriously, if you feel like you should live your life in fear of things like a band and a song, and Halloween fun, enjoy it. But please stop attempting to place your legalism and your judgement on people you will never know. It's ugly. And maybe go pick up a Nirvana CD, and grow some compassion who people who are hurting.

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audrey ruth

November 12, 2013  8:52pm

Kelly, I don't know who you were accusing of making false accusations. All of my concerns are based on what is actually written in the article. Phil, you ask why I'm concerned about the "sing-a-long about the Lake of Fire" (your words) mentioned in the next to last paragraph on page 3. The referenced song is said to be by Nirvana, which is named for a totally unGodly concept. Why would anyone celebrate the Lake of Fire? That's the kind of stuff Nirvana has always done, and it's why Kurt Cobain's life was so wasted and ended as it did. This doesn't sound like people who are not of the world. The overall tone sounds like all of this fits right in with these dark shenanigans each Halloween. I do not agree with all of Marilyn's theology (I do not see Scriptural support for the idea that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased), but dream interpretation is not listed as a gift of the Spirit. I have seen such things operate in churches. There is rampant use of extra-Biblical things, not of God.

Kelly Williams

November 11, 2013  7:09pm

I hoped to find some common ground and build a bridge so that we could all just get along in Salem. It would be nice if we could maintain a culture of honor towards each other, even if we don't "get" each other's ministries. However, I guess there just wasn't as much common ground as I thought. Sigh.

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Matt Arnold

November 10, 2013  8:34am

Marylin's walk away response when Scripture is quoted back at her, sadly, is typical of how too many unthinking Christians behave when dialogue gets 'tough'. It's almost like the baby that throws is rattle out of the pram when it doesn't get its own way, and in biblical terms they're known as 'milk drinkers', never moving onto the solids of how to study for themselves and hear from God. However, if you're still taking a sneaky peek Marylin, here's a puzzle for you... You quoted 2 Tim 3:16 as a way how to run a church... When was that written? When the OT was written down and before the Canon of the NT had been settled. So what scriptures is Paul referring to? And if it's the OT at the time, why do you constantly refer to the NT? As you're a cessationist, how do you know God is speaking to you Today? The Bible alone? If so, why do you use the printed word because the printing press, projected words for songs. God speaks through the two books - nature and Scripture. Both work together, so even those without Scripture are able to see the wonders of God on display and obtain a knowledge. And those who seek God, in whatever way they sincerely can, will find God. That's a promise. We tend to try and put God in a box of theology. But God's bigger than our box and thankfully so. Study to show yourself approved Marylin, and allow the Holy Spirit to break down the human made roles and barriers in your understanding of the Divine Creator.

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Matt Arnold

November 09, 2013  2:46pm

Marilyn my dear sister, I too used to argue that the wine mentioned in the Bible which we're allowed to drink was grape juice, until a wise old Christian told me to do a word study for myself (study to show yourself approved by God - ie don't let others control your thinking). I looked up the Hebrew word 'yayin' which is used in verses condemning getting drunk on wine. So 'yayin' is fermented drink. Then I discovered the Nazarite vow in Numbers 6:20 says that after the vow has ended the Nazarite may drink wine 'yayin' ( ie fermented drink). Google up the three words yayin hebrew strongs and look at all the references to it as alcoholic drink which God gave us to enjoy responsibly. To claim a higher knowledge than the plain words of God in the original language is worrisome, as is the reluctance to studythese things before telling others what they should / shouldn't do. I'm not telling you to drink alcohol or not. I am imploring you in Christ to check out God's word not men's.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 09, 2013  9:53am

This is my last post on this article because well I feel like I am just beating my head against the wall. There are parts of the Bible that deals with history. Yes, parts of it are applicable for life today and some that aren't but give us the history of Israel and shows us the power of God and how Israel turnd its back on God. The Jews required signs.... Like well when was the last time you picked up a stick, struck the sea, and watched it part for you to walk across on dry ground? Moses did that why can't we? When was the last time you saw manna falling from heaven? 1 Cor. 1:22, "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom." God performed many, many miracles for the Jews. Yes, He can still perform miracles if He so chooses, but there are simply some things that are not meant for us today as they ceased with the beginning of New Testament CHURCHES. Do we know all of God? "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." Isa.55:8

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Kelly Williams

November 09, 2013  2:12am

So I guess to summarize, now you don't believe in dream interpretation because it's not in the specific books of the Bible you want it to be in order for you to believe? I'm trying to understand this. Is it that you don't believe we can talk to God and hear Him for the interpretation? Is it that you think in the history of life, God only gave Joseph and Daniel the gift of interpretation? What scriptures do you base that on?

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Kelly Williams

November 08, 2013  8:58pm

Couple of points: (1) Are you saying that knowledge has passed away? Of course we still have knowledge! If we still have knowledge, then we also still have prophecy/tongues. There are millions of people who still speak in tongues and the gift of prophesy and we love Jesus and hear His voice. If you don't believe prophecy and tongues is for you, that is your loss and your choice to cut off a way in which God can speak to you. (2) Do you think we have ALL knowledge and information on God? There is no mystery left? If there is some mystery left, then we still only know in part. (3) If I understand you correctly, you only base how to run a church on the epistles. If that is true then why do you constantly quote scriptures from the rest of the Bible? I don't think you're allowed to throw out the verses that you don't like or that don't suit your argument. The entire Bible is given to us for instruction and guidance in how to do things and God's not a respecter of persons. It's open to all.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 08, 2013  7:31pm

You will notice that there is no mention whatsoever of visions and/or dreams in the Epistles to the churches. 2 Tim. 3:16, states that in the early church pastors and members where instructed to seek their teaching and guidance from the Scriptures.Do you not think that if we were to be performing these dream interpretations and tattoo readings in our churches that they would have been mentioned by Paul when he told us how we are to run our churches! "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away." 1 Corinthian 13:8-10 God used (past tense) dreams with the Jews and is not for us. He uses the Bible for the church today. As far as the drinking alcohol, I believe I already addressed that in a previous post. So, you can scroll down for that.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 08, 2013  7:15pm

Kelly I WAS trying to avoid an argument. Okay, then here we go God is now revealing Himself through His written Word, and the time of God speaking in visions and dreams has ended. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son. . ." Hebrews 1:1-2 Jesus Christ is the Word of God as John 1:1,14-16 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace." Jesus Christ (as you should know) is the Word. God now speaks to us through the Bible which is His word.

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Kelly Williams

November 08, 2013  6:57pm

So if we can give someone scriptures that prove what we do is Biblically-based, they just leave the conversation rather than consider that we might actually have a point? Interesting. Interesting and sad.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 08, 2013  6:48pm

Okay, I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussions, but I will bid you adieu. When it comes to the subject of Christians drinking alcohol, the dream interpretations, etc. because I know I can not be swayed on these subjects, and I am fearful it will just turn into one big argument. As you know I don't believe Christians should drink alcohol and most certainly not bring it into the church, and I don't believe in doing the dream interpretations, tattoo readings, etc and bringing that into the church. We will just have to agree to disagree. So, I wish you all well and may the Lord bless each of you.

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Kelly Williams

November 08, 2013  4:18pm

"As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams." Daniel 1:17

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Phil Wyman

November 08, 2013  3:46pm

Andy Guerrero! Yay! Good to see you here ol' friend. Thanks for the thumbs up form the left coast.

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Phil Wyman

November 08, 2013  3:44pm

Hi Brian, I am not sure how I feel about your "challenge" as to practicality. Michael Marcavage (sp?) from Repent America, accused me of being a "Pragmatist," because I thought our methods worked best. He isn't exactly astute in philosophy to have stated that, but his point was that what works is not what always honors God. Yet, generally it has been the case that the Street Preachers will lead a couple people to the Lord each year, and those who join us for outreach have generally had a "pray with someone to receive Jesus" experience about 35 times each year. So, there goes the metrics, but then I am wary of decisional salvation experiences as accurate measurements of the growth of the church, and of true blessing. Other metrics you mention are almost impossible to identify in a festival setting. The more important issue to me is developing a growing sense within our culture that Christianity still has something to offer This would be a game changing development.

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Kelly Williams

November 08, 2013  1:44pm

If the Bible says wine, it means wine - not grape juice. It's dangerous to say a word doesn't mean what it means because our version justifies our point. The original Greek/Hebrew words mean fermented, and no matter how you spin that or justify it, it still means fermented. Just logically looking at it, if Jesus drank only grape juice the Pharisees would have had no cause to call Him a drunkard. The fact is, no matter what we do, someone will criticize it (because many Christians do think they are called to be fruit inspectors, as opposed to fruit bearers). *** This scripture confirms that even back in New Testament days this was a problem: "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” Matthew 11:18-19a *** It's an honor to be accused of the same things Jesus was. I'm especially honored to be called a friend of sinners!

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Tamara Feightner

November 08, 2013  1:12pm

Thank you for writing this great piece sharing your hearts passions for loving people openly. I admit that embracing my own "foolishness" has been challenging for many reasons, but even in the small ways of being more goofy, silly, unscripted...I have experienced how this shifts my internal poster. I think it strengthens the connection to the inner child...and good comes from that relationship with our innocence...that part of us that loved people before we learned all of the reasons to not be friends. This opens up a freedom to try new things and to learn without assumptions...how we started learning in this world. Connecting with the fool/the child means taking mistakes with an easier stride and children more easily forgive. Ironically, for people like myself, donning a costume is vulnerable...it's an invitation to dive in, put it all out there, stretch beyond the scripts I find comfort in. You help me reflect on these things that then help me be open to others...to risk in loving.

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Kelly Williams

November 08, 2013  12:23pm

I've also mentioned 5 dreams in the first 2 chapters of the NT, which God thought important enough to include in the Bible. If He didn't know the Jews valued and paid attention to their dreams, God would not have chosen that exact method in which to communicate messages to them. God is still doing that today and most of rest of the world does still tune into their dreams and pay attention to them, even if they don't always understand that it is God Himself who is communicating through them. America is unique in that, for the most part, people dismiss their dreams. If they do pay attention to them, they are ostracized by traditional churches and called psychics. However, churches that still believe in the Gifts of the Spirit do understand that dreams and dream interpretation fall under the Gift of Prophecy and use that gift to help others hear God. Destiny readings are simply prophecy. We call it that because we are using language that makes sense to people on the street. Romans 12:6-8

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Kelly Williams

November 08, 2013  11:58am

“They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” Genesis 40:8 ESV *** “So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.” Genesis 41:8 *** “And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Genesis 41:15 *** "For God does speak one way, now another, though no one perceives it...in a dream, in a vision of the night when deep sleep falls upon people as they slumber in their beds....." Job 33:14-15 *** Dreams are symbolic, if you understand symbols, it is not a stretch to interpret a tattoo just like you would a dream. I've seen grown men cry and come to know God through an interpretation of their tat.

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Carl Nystedt

November 08, 2013  11:34am

Good, I'm glad we have found some common ground :) I've actually been understanding what you are trying to say all along but I think it is important to point out certain subtle dynamics that I'm not sure you have thought about. Such as what the word " World " really means, The act of moderation when it comes to alcohol and the fact that each one of us (myself included) bring to the table a set of our own interpretations whenever we discuss scripture.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 08, 2013  8:29am

Actually Brian, Phil has not answered my questions as to Scripture to support their practices of bringing the alcohol into the church, dream interpretations, tattoo and destiny readings, etc. I do not see any of this supported by Scripture. That is my measuring stick on what I do not numbers. Is it supported by Scripture, and if not then I don't do it nor would I attend a church that does things not in Sciprture in order to (in my view point) tickle the ears and draw a crowd. I would rather attend a church of 40 people that sticks with the model of the New Testament church than attend a church of 400 that brings the world into the church in an effort to draw a crowd and please it's people rather than God. Toward the end times fewer and fewer want to hear the truth. Of course, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matt. 7:21 Not everyone that professes to be saved is saved.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 08, 2013  8:15am

Aaaahhhh we have a winner! You are finally understanding what I am saying at least to a degree! Your most intimate relationships are fellow Christians! I would think these are the people that you choose to "hang around" regularly. I am not opposed to and do have friends and family who are lost and yes I eat meals with them like cook outs with my family or eat out with a friend from school, coworker etc. However, I do not go to bars with them (as I think a Christian should not be drinking alcohol) or partake in their sin nor would I hang around them when they are smoking pot, and I would not go to any type of celebration that would glorify their sin. I also witness to them when I am with them as I wish them all to be saved. The people that I am closest to and spend most of my time with, however, are fellow Christians. I am closer to my church family than I am to some of my own "blood" family for this very reason.

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Carl Nystedt

November 08, 2013  7:07am

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 everything hinges on the first verse "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" How I apply this to my life is I have my most intimate relationships with those I have found I am able to grow closer to the Lord with. Just like Jesus did in the Gospels. The yoke represents extreme intimacy. I have lived this way for most of my life and I have been kept in the grace of God and I love him dearly. It has been proved right and true. In light of what I just said about the aforementioned scripture your statement "There is a difference between fellowshipping with someone and ministering to him or her" is your opinion/interpretation. It is not pure scripture. In fact, I would argue to the Apostle Paul's point (and Brian Pendell's) that friendship and ministry is the most effective. "I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some". It's unfortunate that you choose to not go this path that is clearly allowed and encouraged in scripture

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Brian Pendell

November 08, 2013  6:25am

I also have a challenge for both Marilyn Smythe and Phil Wyman: We've argued the scriptural viewpoints as to your differing approaches; what about from the standpoint of practicality? Marilyn, why do you think your method is superior to Phil's? What metric are you using? Baptisms? People discipled through Christianity 101 at local churches? And the same question to you , Phil. Why do you think your method is superior to what Marilyn is doing? Or what the street preachers are doing? Hard data and metrics, not anecdotal evidence. Final point: Kelly Willliams, I doubt there was an actual statue to the unknown God in the Areopagus. I suspect it was an empty spot precisely because it was a 'fill in the blank' altar. If so, then it was a niche in the Greek belief system Paul could use to explain his own.

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Brian Pendell

November 08, 2013  5:52am

I respectfully submit 1 Corinthians 10:27 " If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience." This implies that Paul expected those who lived in Corinth to potentially be on good enough terms with unbelievers to break bread with them. "Breaking bread" was very significant in those days. The entire chapter discusses how to live among the people in Corinth and to love them but not love their idols. He recognized that some believers didn't see it this way, and commanded they be allowed to follow their conscience in regard to these things. But that is entirely different from his command to 'not associate' with false believers, with whom he commanded Christians to not even eat (1 Cor 5:11). I myself have found that unbelievers do not listen to my preaching if I do not share their griefs, joys, sorrows. In a word, I must earn the right to be heard through friendship.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 07, 2013  11:23pm

Carl, I use the KJV Bible, and this is what 1 Cor. 9:19-23 says, "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you." Paul was a free-born citizen of Rome and became a servant to the Jews & Gentiles. He labored as a servant although he did not have to in order minister to them. Paul would not have broken any of Christ's laws in the process to minister. I can & do minister/help lost people but don't hang around with them.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 07, 2013  10:45pm

"How can I minister to them unless I fellowship with them?" There is a difference between fellowshipping with someone and ministering to him or her. The Bible is very clear about fellowshipping with the ungodly, (regardless if they are family or friends.) 2 Cor. 6: 14, "BE YE NOT UNEQUALLY YOKED TOGETHER WITH UNBELIEVERS: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?.........17 Wherefore come out from among them, and BE YE SEPARATE, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.. (Cannot get much clearer than that!) James 4:4 "...know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Pretty clear here too! Carl, I bring these scriptures to your attention. How do you apply these verses to your life?

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Kelly Williams

November 07, 2013  5:52pm

"Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" Romans 2:4

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Kelly Williams

November 07, 2013  5:17pm

"So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. 'It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.'" Acts 17:22-23 *** If we used a statue witches have on their altars to explain God to them, we would be criticized and called names by the street preachers. Yet that is exactly what the Apostle Paul did. I'm open to any creative idea God gives us to help someone understand Him. God is not in a box, no matter how hard we try to put Him in there. Also, please note in the scripture how respectful and gracious Paul was to Anthenians. God's KINDNESS leads to repentance - NOT dishonoring, hateful uninvited attacks on the street by a street preacher. Same message: Jesus! Different method: Kindness!

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Brian Pendell

November 07, 2013  5:12pm

My second point is that not all ministries are the same. Consider Paul and Apollos. I think it conceivable that both the bullhorn preachers AND Phil are called to minister God's word in different ways to different people. God has given his different servants different talents to administer as they see fit, and on the final day they will give a reckoning to him. Only then will we see whether Phil or the street preachers will be found faithful, and to what extent their efforts are worthy of reward. (1 Cor 3:13).

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Brian Pendell

November 07, 2013  5:10pm

Many comments here. I have only two observations: 1) I think Paul's warning about association needs to be read in the context of 1 Corinthians 5:9-12 "I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 ***not at all meaning the people of this world*** who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. ***In that case you would have to leave this world.*** 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people." Paul's instruction, therefore, is not to dissociate from people in the world but from people who call themselves Christians yet shame him. This would make his remarks consistent both with Jesus' eating with tax collectors and his own going to the Gentiles.

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Carl Nystedt

November 07, 2013  4:51pm

Marilyn, Kelly brought up an excellent scripture verse that I want to bring back to your attention (perhaps you missed it) and I am very curious; how do you personally apply this scripture to your life? “Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized ;whoever. I Didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ - but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Also, every time you type scripture you are not just quoting pure scripture. You are bringing with it your own set of interpretations

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Marilyn Smythe

November 07, 2013  2:09pm

Continuation.... Matthew 6:24; Romans 12:2; Galations 1:10 - Some of these verses are warnings againts being worldly and pleasing to men. AND FINALLY: John 15:19: "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because YE ARE NOT OF THE WORLD, BUT I HAVE CHOSEN YOU OUT OF THE WORLD, therefore the world hateth you." KJV (I capped for emphasis.) So, lets put this together-- we are obviously IN this world, but look at John 15:19 "If ye were of the world, the world loves his own" (the lost and who is the god of this world -Satan) "but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." Who are the chosen? Those who are saved. What does it say? YE ARE NOT OF THE WORLD.... Therefore those who are saved are in the world but not of the world! I have no problem with churches who can substantiate their practices using Scripture. Problem being when we BRING THE WORLD IN the church when we are called to be separate, i.e. beer, destiny and tattoo readings.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 07, 2013  1:26pm

Phil you can't seem to grasp what I am saying. Obviously we live in this world and have to have friends and/or family who are lost. However, the Bible warns us about hanging around with people who are not saved. Why does it warn us of that fact? Because God knows our weaknesses and dangers that are ahead when we go against what He tells us to do. I have been a Christian well long enough to not have dangers of falling into my lost family members/friends sins. However, I do not make a habit of hanging around them because God tells me not to, and I believe He knows what is best for me because well, he made me, and I am His child. Therefore I do what He tells me to because I love Him and want to be pleasing to Him. Still you do not give me Scripture reference for the worldly practices of your church. As far as the scripture references for being in this world but not of this world.... How much time you got? ... Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17; 1 John 2:15; James 4:4; Colossians 2:8; cotinued...

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Andy Guerrero

November 07, 2013  10:29am

I don't think its appropriate to discuss Scripture here as this is a human problem caused by human failings and human prejudice. Although I believe that everyone should worship as they see fit, the Christian community continues to produce people who won't tolerate those that don't hold their same beliefs. I see the same reactions in all parts of the country. Intolerance is rampant and I just can't abide by it within the "Christian Church". Even the largest Christian conclave, the Catholic Church, has only recently started to look within to change some of its thought and doctrines. It is with a glad heart that I see a church willing to stand up for what is right despite the intolerance of other churches. I see too many churches condemn and don't display enough loving. Bravo to The Gathering. Keep your moral compass pointed in the correct direction.

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Kelly Williams

November 07, 2013  9:31am

"Can I value what you have to say even if it isn't something I agree with or understand? If not, then I will begin a process of judgments and punishments that send messages of invalidation. Many of us don't realize that we create a world where everyone has to look and sound like us or we have no value for them. Before I know it I've surrounded myself with myself in order to get along with others." ~ Danny Lee Silk

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Phil Wyman

November 07, 2013  8:55am

Hi Mark! Thanks for those great scriptural references about people in the Bible befriending or working alongside those of different faiths. Marilyn, you seem to have missed Mark's references to people in the Bible practicing what we are practicing. On another note: Who wants to show me passage from the Bible, which says these exact words as a command, that we should be "in the world but not of it"? I'll bet no one knows where that comes from despite the fact that we throw those words around all the time. Marilyn, you wanna go first. ;-) Let's have the chapter and verse on those exact words.

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Kelly Williams

November 07, 2013  8:33am

Still waiting for a showing of hands of all who were saved through street preachers screaming at them. Last year we had so many saved, we lost count! I asked a street preacher how many salvations he'd had and he could claim none. You can be RIGHT all day long, but if you are not RIGHT with LOVE, you are just a clanging cymbal. You might dislike our methods, but surely you can't complain about the fruit. I find if I don't understand something another ministry is doing, it's better to take a step back, and watch and seek God for wisdom/understanding - rather than make a snap judgment based on my own limited knowledge. It has saved me from speaking words against another ministry for which I will be judged by God. We have the same MESSAGE (Jesus Christ and Him crucified), but use a different METHOD that actually works. The street preacher's method DOESN'T WORK. Period. When the method no longer works, it's time to find one that does. We have the same MESSAGE, but use a different METHOD.

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Kelly Williams

November 07, 2013  8:14am

Do you honestly think "all men speak well" of us?! If that's the plumb-line by which we judge if we're doing the Godly thing, then Pastor Phil, The Gathering and our team are doing GREAT because very few men "speak well" of us! Thanks for the encouragement, Marilyn! lol!

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Marilyn Smythe

November 07, 2013  7:57am

I notice that no one has addressed (with Scripture) the worldly issues of your church but only coming to Phil's personal defense. I never said he was not a good or nice man. Phil as far as me saying "buddies." At that time I could not think of a better word to translate being more than a friend in passing or just say friend you work with but not hang around with but someone you maintain a close relationship with as I thought was brought forth better in the article. If you don't have Bible to back up all those worldly practices of your church - the world does not belong in the church - then I think you need to examine yourself and your church. I caution you (in love) Phil with all these friendships and catering to the worldly crowds, witches, and pagans... Luke 6:26, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you...."

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Kelly Williams

November 06, 2013  7:47pm

Joshua Jinno, I think you just summarized everything that needs to be said. You rock!

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Joshua Jinno

November 06, 2013  7:44pm

Pastor Phil has been my mentor for over twelve years, Phil was on my ordination council and was the preacher at my ordination service. There are few people as wise as Phil Wyman, and yet over the years he has faced tremendous loss for choosing to serve the gospel in love. Some of the lessons I've learned from Phil: Always Err on the side of grace. Teach people to respect each other not you. The most rewarding relationships are those with whom you have the least in common. Don't be afraid of suffering for the sake of the gospel. There is no place you cannot go, if you go there with God. Know the difference between spirituality and superstition. Respect the responsibility of a calling. Believe the authority of the promises in scripture. Music has power, never misuse it to simulate a "spiritual experience." Attacking someone for what they believe is a very weak position. Distrust "orthodoxy." Praxis matters. Learn to listen.

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Mark Nystedt

November 06, 2013  7:26pm

Highrock Evangelical Covenant Church Salem is another church in Salem that is sharing the Gospel in a relational manner with Salem's Wiccan/Pagans. They meet in the social hall of the 1804ish First Universalist Church, Salem, whose members are Wiccan/Pagan. The ECC denomination was founded by Swedish Trinitarian Congregationalists 100-150 years ago. They greatly admire the Puritan founders of the Massachusetts and Plymouth colonies. Their denominational family camp is Pilgrim Pines in NH, with the Mayflower Lodge, and the children's Camp Squanto. Now, two other Boston area HECCs are Korean; and a NH ECC is Sudanese. My son Carl, who attends the Gathering, spent his first 10 years attending ECCs. When I attended a HECCS Friday night dinner recently (steak tips and mussels) upstairs, FUC was hosting a regional Wiccan/Pagan event downstairs. HECCSers invited FUC Pagan/Wiccans to dinner.

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Mark Nystedt

November 06, 2013  6:50pm

Marilyn. I'm Carl's father and couldn't be more proud of it. I moved Phil Wyman into Salem 15 years ago; and I moved out of Salem 5 years later after 20 years there. The Bible commands us to be in the world, not of the world. Joseph was the Pharaoh's friend and Prime Minister; in the world, not of the world. Esther was the Emperor's friend and Queen; in the world, not of the world. The only missionaries that have ever been effective, from the first Judeo-Christian missionaries to the present, were/are in the world, not of the world. The first American foreign missionaries were ordained in Salem in 1812. Two of the missionary wives, Ann Hazeltine Judson and Harriett Atwood Newell, grew up in Haverhill/Bradford, my home town. Carl's gr-grandfather Rev Paul Nystedt's picture is hanging in Gordon College, named for A J Gordon who was named for Adoniram J, Anne J's husband. The Gathering is in the world, not of the world; and not a cult.

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Phil Wyman

November 06, 2013  6:39pm

Marilyn, Not sure what to say to you about Pub Theology, except I was born on the same day as that Beer Drinking Heretic Martin Luther. He seemed to change the world in a fairly significant manner with his faults and even with his beer drinking. I certainly do not encourage drunkenness, and in fact have had to deal a friend struggling through addictions all this week. May you find a way to walk the balance between being a friend (I could not find a reference in the Bible to "buddies", by the way) and remaining unspotted by this world. Somehow God loves you and I and He doesn't get dirty from our sins. I think He is calling you to love people just like He loves you, and still remain holy. In fact, I am convinced that unless we do that we can not even be holy - we can only pretend to be holy without loving those who are unlike us.

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Phil Wyman

November 06, 2013  6:31pm

Hey Aubrey Ruth, You repeatedly mentioned the next to last paragraph on page 3. Are you saying that you have a hard time with us leading non-Christians in a sing-a-long about the Lake of Fire? Seems like an interesting way to imbed scriptural reference into a person's brain to me, and that's why we do it. Even had a larger crowd singing this year. Pray tell - why do you struggle with this?

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Phil Wyman

November 06, 2013  6:29pm

Jeepers! I turn around and this thing goes crazy! Thanks everyone for posting. Even you who disagree with me - Thanks for chiming in. Our approach to reaching this world is something that needs to be discussed. It is one of my deepest concerns, and it is my deepest passion in respect to where I put my labor in the Lord, so, let's be willing to let iron sharpen iron, and rock on with the open discussion on missiology.

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Carl Nystedt

November 06, 2013  5:02pm

Marilyn, I've read your link, and yes I consider myself to be open-minded :) In my experience I consider the warnings in it to be mostly false. I just can't agree with it. I'm not ignoring biblical commands but rather I'm obeying scripture and not adding my own misled interpretation. Through God given experience, reason, discernment and humility I consider myself to be able to be misled by those who follow Christ and by those who don't and similarly I am able to be pointed to the Lord by those follow Christ and those who don't. I have lived this way for more than a decade and have found it to be true. You obviously have not so you have no right to say that it does not work. I also have a problem with the last part of the link. "There is nothing wrong with building quality friendships with unbelievers – but the primary focus of such a relationship should be to win them to Christ by sharing the Gospel with them and demonstrating God’s saving power in our own lives." That is not love

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Lilli Meszaros Willingham

November 06, 2013  4:21pm

I will definitely read it when I have a little more time. I'm very open minded and love to learn. Thank you. I wonder how much our definition of "buddies" might differ though. I believe with all my heart and soul that if God called me to minister to drug addicts that if I got to know them, spent time with them, and loved on them that it would not cause me to become a drug addict. That's all I'm saying. I am so in love with my God and so convinced that I cannot live my life without Him, that it wouldn't matter who I was around, associated with, or what environment I was in, I would not choose to serve another master. I would not however advise this to everyone. Some are not this far along in their faith or identity or even biblical knowledge to "go there" It would be a HUGE mistake for some to play in the devils playground. Some are mature enough and rooted in their faith and identity that they are called to go to some of the lost that others shouldn't. Someone needs to go tho, in love.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 06, 2013  3:15pm

Kelly and Lilli - If you want to go against what the Bible says about Christians being "buddies" with sinners, light and darkness, that is between you and God. I am not going to go on and on because you obviously are not interested in seeing it from a Biblical perspective but based on your own thoughts and feelings. I did, however, run across a great article on the subject that may put this into a better perspective for you if and only IF you are willing to read it with an open mind and heart... http://www.gotquestions.org/friendships-unbelievers.html

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Lilli Meszaros Willingham

November 06, 2013  3:00pm

I agree with Kelly that so much of the opposition is rooted in fear and that is what I meant by "fearful opposers" because I used to be one of the fearful. If you told me someone was a witch or demon possessed I couldn't have disappeared fast enough. I've had a change of heart since the scripture "greater is He that is in me" became fully understood and I am more able to be who Jesus wants me to be and not fearful. I also realized that those people who do not worship our God, are caught up in darkness, or possessed are who would need Jesus' LOVE the most. If I am to be the hands and feet of Jesus then I need to LOVE EVERYBODY. I would like to know others defintion of love and what that looks like to and for them. I understand it to mean more than just telling someone God is good and Jesus saves. I think it requires more than that. If believers only have loving relationships with each other then so will unbelievers. To love is to care, and to care you must know someone...

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Kelly Williams

November 06, 2013  9:27am

What I'd really like to know is how many Christians criticizing Pastor Phil and our team's methods became a Christian BECAUSE some man stood on the street using a bullhorn calling them names like "lesbian whore" or was screaming at women to "cover themselves up" - which is what one of my friends encountered. Just for the record, she happens to be a born-again believer and in a completely heterosexual marriage - not that it is any of the bullhorn guy's business! I'm merely saying that to make the point that these hateful "preachers" have no discernment whatsoever and just spew their hate on everyone unlucky enough to be within hearing distance. *** Show of hands please, if you got saved through this method! *** I'm willing to bet that the VAST MAJORITY of you became a Christian because someone befriended you, demonstrating the love of God in your life in a way that made you desire that same relationship with God. I'm also willing to bet it involved several FRIENDLY encounters over time.

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Kelly Williams

November 06, 2013  9:13am

The apostles weren't birthed into this world already full-on believers and apostles so that when Jesus came upon them He was able to instantly be friends. We can read one of the gospels in a few moments, but it's covering Jesus' entire life. For the sake of covering the big points, it's a very condensed version. There had to be SOME FRIENDLY "hanging out" with the apostles BEFORE they were converted in order for Jesus to have enough FAVOR with them to WANT to be converted. Using your theory, they would have never been friends before they were believers/apostles.***Marilyn, you claim that you "choose to do what the Bible/God says to do and not simply what [you] reason out in [your] mind to be right and wrong." Yet it appears to me that you're reasoning and adding all kinds of your own thought process into understanding wine. God give us the ability to use reasoning for a purpose, and even invites us to "come let us reason together" in Isaiah 1:18. Reasoning is a GOOD thing.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 06, 2013  8:14am

Jesus went to them to witness to them as we are to do. He was not their buddy, hanging around with them. He "hung around" with the disciples. They were his "friends." One of the reasons we are instructed to not hang around those in darkness is because our flesh is weak and prone to sin. Jesus was not weak as we are... He is perfect because He is God. (1 John 5:7) There was no chance that He would commit sin even if He were to have chosen to hang around with them but He still did not. I have lost family members and I do not shun them by any means. However, I will not hang around them when they are drinking, cursing, etc. We are to hate sin as God hates sin. 1 Cor. 5:11 even commands us to not hang around other Christians who are in sin. I am a Bible believer and choose to do what the Bible/God says to do and not simply what I reason out in my mind to be right and wrong. It is not "Well I think" but "What does the Bible say?"

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Kelly Williams

November 06, 2013  7:52am

I find it really odd that some Christians seem to act like if they are around sinners, the sinners' lifestyles are going to slime the Christians and make them "filthy". That is a fear response, and fear is not from God. Perfect love casts out ALL fear! Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world. Our God has ALL the power. I have no fear of "catching" someone else's sin! Pastor Phil, The Gathering and our team bring Light everywhere we go because Light is living in us. If you are Christian, you do too. We are holy because God is holy and He lives in our hearts. We are not holy because of anything we do, and even locking yourself up in a monastery high on a remote mountain won't keep you "from the world" UNLESS your heart is made pure by the residing presence of God in it. Frankly, if you have all Christian friends, I don't see how you'll ever have have a Kingdom impact in the world. Like Jesus answered the Pharisees, the sick people are the ones who need a doctor.

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Carl Nystedt

November 06, 2013  6:56am

I've lived in Salem my whole life. Watched different ministries' responses to the phenomenon that is Halloween and over the years have found the Gathering to be the most fruitful as far as outreach goes. Marilyn, those are very common scriptures to be quoted when discussing hanging out and befriending people who do not believe in the same manner as yourself. My question to you would be what about Jesus when he hung out with the outcasts, the drunks and prostitutes? Religious leaders would make massively similar accusations about Jesus as you are to Pastor Phil and the Gathering. I would also question your idea of the separation of light/dark, and holiness/evil. There is never a clear black and white answer to where those separations occur (only the Lord really knows). I know as a christian that I have both and I must war against that. The same is true for the apostle Paul, the same for you and even those who do not profess faith in Jesus.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 05, 2013  11:52pm

Kelly as far as wine in the Bible: The Greek word for wine is oinos which can either be fermented or not fermented. There are obviously instances that "wine" in the Bible means fermented. However if in all instances it is fermented and Prov 20:1 calls it a mocker. Then (as Rev. Mark Creech says better than I could ever say) "it was a 'a mocker' that Jesus made for the guests at the wedding feast in Cana, and 'a mocker' which Jesus introduced to his disciples at the Passover table, and bade them to drink. Does all wine 'bite like a serpent' and 'sting like an adder'? [Proverbs 23:32] Then Jesus made wine for the guests at Cana with the 'bite of a serpent' and the 'sting of an adder' in it. Do you believe it? No, a thousand times no! Did Jesus give to His disciples a cup in which were the 'bite of a serpent and the sting of an adder,' and tell them that cup contained that which represented his blood, His life-giving blood – shed for the remission of their sins? Do you believe it? No…"

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Marilyn Smythe

November 05, 2013  11:16pm

God commands us to love (and be kind to them) by witnessing to them, ministering to them, and giving them the Gospel but we are not to hang out with them as buddies. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Cor. 6:14 Paul is not just giving good advice—he is declaring the command of the Lord: "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord" 2 Cor.6:17. He also says "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" 2 Cor. 7:1. Thus the doctrine of separation is grounded in the holiness of God. Christians must be separate from the world because God is separate from all sin. Believers must be separate from sin and worldliness in order to be separated unto God. "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" Ephesians 5:11

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Lilli Meszaros Willingham

November 05, 2013  9:38pm

Kelly, I like you. Hang in there. Keep your peace. You guys are reformists...wasn't Martin Luther King? Not everyone is going to understand or agree. You do what you were called to do. I fully and completely believe you can have relationships with and love anybody and everybody and not be of their particular world. If you went to a prison and listened to the prisoners tell of their lives and stories that would not mean you agree with or partake in rape, murder, or child abuse now would it? It means you can value a person above their belief systems, past, and shortcomings and care for them. It means you can show grace like Jesus does. What would the world be like if we could focus more on what we agree about as believers and focused less on fighting one another when ultimately we all love the same God and want His love to save the lost as it has saved us. Unity and unconditional love and grace would be a beautiful and powerful thing....someday...it starts with love and kindness ALWAYS

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Kelly Williams

November 05, 2013  8:41pm

IF, Biblical wine is "really" only grape juice or non-fermented juice, then why are there so many warnings about getting drunk in the Bible? If it was merely grape juice, then wouldn't it appear that the Bible is wasting a bunch of wording on drunkenness? To follow your logic, you would not be able to even drink plain grape juice. Have you ever heard of plain grape juice making anyone drunk? In the scheme of things, this really is just a silly part of the discussion, but I've been curious about how anyone came up with the idea that "wine" really isn't wine in the Bible in spite of all the references of it's potential to make one drunk. You can't have it both ways. Either it had alcohol & CAN make you drunk, or it doesn't have alcohol & doesn't warrant a warning. It's just a little puzzling to me. I guess if you can dismiss wine simply because you don't like it, it's not much of a stretch to dismiss the actual wine miracle, dream interpretation, prophesy, raising the dead, healing, etc.

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Kelly Williams

November 05, 2013  7:58pm

Re: Marilyn Smythe's comment, "Also I read on another board that one of your members said it was the norm at your church for people to heal other people and she had seen several people raised from the dead? Needless to say this throws up all kinds of red flags especially with your known friendships with those in witchcraft!" ***You misquoted it, but I was the person who said it. ***I have no idea why, if you believe the Bible like you say you do, you would have a problem with my statement (as I actually said it). We heal IN JESUS' NAME. I did not say that I have "seen several people raised from the dead", I said I KNOW OF people who've been raised from the dead. In Matthew 10:8 it says, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." We are COMMANDED BY GOD to do those things, so why on earth would you relate those things to witchcraft?!

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Kelly Williams

November 05, 2013  6:20pm

“Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I DIDN'T TAKE ON THEIR WAY OF LIFE. I KEPT MY BEARINGS IN CHRIST - BUT I ENTERED THEIR WORLD AND TRIED TO EXPERIENCE THINGS FROM THEIR POINT OF VIEW. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Emphasis mine. Not yelling, but didn't now how else to highlight the point I was trying to make.

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Kelly Williams

November 05, 2013  6:15pm

“Pray that I will be bold enough to tell it (the gospel) freely and fully and make it plain, as, of course, I should. Make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News. Be wise in all your contacts with them. Let your conversation be gracious as well as sensible, for then you will have the right answer for everyone.” Colossians 4:4-6 TLB

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Kelly Williams

November 05, 2013  6:13pm

"I said that Christians don't need to learn [about witch's lifestyles] in order to know that God loves them." ~ Audrey R. Of course we can know God loves someone w/out knowing their lifestyle! God loves everyone. That's a given! We're missionaries to Salem. I'm sure you've no problem w/a missionary to China learning the language, customs, social mores & culture of China to help them communicate w/out offending over stupid things. The witch/pagan culture is the mission field to which Pastor Phil & our team have been called. We do not embrace anyone's sin & frankly, I'm tired of the false accusations. We do need to understand their paradigm in order to effectively communicate. It's making a judgment against your brothers & sisters in Christ to ASSUME that we are embracing/joining in with sin that goes on in Salem. It is a difficult & challenging enough mission field w/out the constant attacks against us by other Christians. Where is the fruit from our accusers?

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Marilyn Smythe

November 05, 2013  5:55pm

Now, I do not doubt that Phil is a nice guy and cares about people. However, this just screams of bringing the world (IN A REALLY BIG WAY) into the church. Hopefully this is not all done in an effort just to fill the pews for the sake of numbers. However, regardless of the reasons behind it, we should not be bringing the world into the church in any way shape or form. The church is to be SEPARATE from the world. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord," 2 Cor. 6:17. You have been quick to throw the other Christians under the bus for their way of evangelization but maybe they are living their lives separate, not worldly and "abstaining from all appearance of evil.' 1Thess 5:22 When you celebrate Halloween with all the witches and pagans and provide them a stage to sing worldly music and doing your borderline psychic readings, you are screaming OUR CHURCH IS WORLDLY AND NOT HEAVENLY "tickling their ears" which the world (unsaved) and Satan love.

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Marilyn Smythe

November 05, 2013  5:32pm

I am also concerned about the dream interpretations, destiny and tattoo readings your church performs as I feel that is borderline Pagan and sounds strangely like a psychic service. The dream interpretations performed in the Bible were special gifts given to specific people that God chose to bring glory to Him and not to be trivialized. I am concerned about the worldly music that you promote at Halloween and throughout the year. As the Bible says, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4 We are to be different, separate, and a "peculiar people." Also I read on another board that one of your members said it was the norm at your church for people to heal other people and she had seen several people raised from the dead? Needless to say this throws up all kinds of red flags especially with your known friendships with those in witchcraft!

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Marilyn Smythe

November 05, 2013  5:23pm

My biggest concerns about this as I have also read other articles and checked out the Gathering and Phil Wyman online is the Pub Theology nights you have and having people teach your congregation how to brew their own meade (beer/wine). I do not believe a Christian should partake in alcohol. People always try to say well Jesus turned water into wine. I believe that IF it was fermented alcohol that it was not of the strength (% proof) that is drank today and was simply used as a means to purify the water to make it suitable to drink or was either the pure fruit of the vine and not fermented. The Bible does not contradict itself. Why would Jesus give people wine when Proverbs 20:1 says "Wine [is] a mocker, strong drink [is] raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Why would you bring alcohol into the church and at your fellowships?

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audrey ruth

November 05, 2013  3:54pm

Dennis and Lilli, all that you guys have written sounds wonderful. But, to be honest, what you are saying is not what I saw in the article, particularly that next to last paragraph on page 3. I'm no one's judge - God is the only Righteous Judge. I am simply one of His children who cares. That's all.

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Lilli Meszaros Willingham

November 05, 2013  3:06pm

Audrey Ruth, I did not mean to infer that you were judgemental or condemning. In fact, I had not read all the comment thread and was not referring to you at all, but rather some of the ones mentioned in some articles that seemed critical and unloving in a biblical sense. I was simply trying to encourage the Pastor as I believe his cause is worthy and making a difference where a harsher, less honoring and relational approach might make people want to know our God even less than they already do. So many Christians are judged harshly because of the way the relate not only to the unbeliever, but also to fellow believers. I believe we need to treat everyone with dignity and respect...even if that means getting to know them a little better than some others may wish to. We all have our calling and maybe Pastor(and others who step outside the proverbial "correct" box) are the only ones who will be able to reach certain souls. If he wins even ONE for the Kingdom where others have failed...BRAVO

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Dennis Huxley

November 05, 2013  9:49am

As one who has ministered with Phil and the Gathering every year since 2007, let me allay the concerns of people who fear that we are not only IN the world, but OF it. Most of us, especially Phil, live sacrificial lives in order to do what we do. We are not interested in the things of this world. We live for Jesus, and by extension, for people. Anyone who questions the ministry style of Phil and the Gathering should examine the fruit, especially as it compares to that of others who come to Salem in the name of the Lord. Some come with nothing to offer the people they claim to want to reach, shout at them for a few hours, then go home. They may pay their own travel expenses for all I know, but other than that, it costs them nothing. We're in it for the long haul, and our love and friendship toward witches and everybody else is genuine. We believe that's how Jesus operated.

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Jonathan Chubb

November 05, 2013  8:57am

As a nearby pastor to Phil, I have been incredibly encouraged by what he has been doing with his ministry. The Gathering truly loves Salem and local churches can learn a valuable lesson from their mission - of all the things that you can focus in on, how much of your local town/city is part of your vision? I often wonder if my own church ceased to exist, if anyone in the town would notice or care - with the Gathering, I know that Salem would notice and definitely care!

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audrey ruth

November 05, 2013  4:00am

Lilli, if you have deemed me "judgmental and condemning". then you have judged and condemned me. I have not judged or condemned Phil, at all. Nor am I am a "fearful opposer" (whatever that means). I have questioned things Phil cited in this article, from a Biblical perspective. The Lord specifically approved the Bereans for comparing and measuring everything by His Word, and that is what I am doing here - that is all. Again: Love is vital, always. But we should not ignore His truth and discernment while loving people. God's love cannot be divorced from His truth.

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audrey ruth

November 05, 2013  3:50am

Michelle, I have not criticized anything which is related to the gifts of the Holy Spirit (charismata). How did you miss that in my post to Phil? Are you familiar with the scripture which says the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the children of God? When I say the next to last paragraph on page 3 does not witness with my spirit, there is a scriptural basis for that. You seem to be confused about what I said about learning about witches' lifestyles - I said that Christians don't need to learn this in order to know that God loves them. "Learn not the ways of the heathen." We know that God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance. I do not celebrate anything which glorifies and celebrates evil. The Lord says, The worship of the Lord is to hate evil, and every evil way. We are to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Jesus came to set the captives free. If we celebrate their bondage with them, we do them terrible harm.

Lilli Meszaros Willingham

November 04, 2013  9:41pm

Pastor Phil I find your vision and your heart admirable and inspiring. I feel like both can bring about more change and repentance than your judgemental, condemning, and fearful opposers. If you TRULY love someone you are not afraid to get to know them and even have a respectful and honoring relationship. Love is unconditional and kind. If we don't have that our message is nullified. I read a quote today...it said "you can tell you have created God in you own image when He hates all the same people you hate" Thank you, Pastor for loving ones that others are afraid to love, the others people don't REALLY, TRULY love until they change. Thank you for loving EVERYBODY where and as they are. Thank you for showing the world how to love like Jesus does. Keep doing what you're doing. You matter and you are making a difference. GOD BLESS YOU ABUNDANTLY!!!!!!!

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Michelle Pritzl

November 04, 2013  8:39pm

Audrey Ruth- 2 things... When you say something doesn't witness to your spirit, you sound just as charismatic as what you are criticizing. And I'm not sure why you think that anyone at the Gathering feels that they need to hear about a witch's belief to think that God loves him or her, everyone knows that... If you know about someone's beliefs, I guarantee you would not find them dark and scary, but a lot like you. You also sound like you are against Halloween. That makes me sad for anyone who is missing out on a great holiday, but you are entitled to that belief. You don't get to judge Phil or the Gathering for being a part of Haunted Happenings. A lot of us love Halloween and love Halloween in Salem. There's nothing wrong with that. Phil is the only person in Salem putting on activities that draw people to them, not pushing people away by screaming hate in their face through a megaphone.

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audrey ruth

November 04, 2013  8:29pm

John, if your implication is that I am somehow hostile to people who are in bondage to pagan belief systems, you could not be farther off base. You do not know my experience, nor do you understand where I'm coming from, the basis for my concern.

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John Morehead

November 04, 2013  7:47pm

I have known Pastor Phil Wyman for several years, and just a few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Salem the week of Halloween to see his ministry firsthand. I was very impressed. As a scholars specializing in cross-cultural missiology, and new religious movements (including Paganism), I was pleased to see Phil apply the lessons learned in the history of Christian missions to his work in Salem. But even more so, he is following the example of Jesus in his encounters with Gentiles and Samaritans. Rather than focusing on confrontational methods that often involve perpetuating stereotypes of Pagans (an approach that often characterizes much Evangelical ministry to new religions), Phil's ministry is more akin to Jesus with the Samaritan woman in John 4. For those who take issue with Phil's ministry, perhaps it is not so much the methods that are the issue as it is our hostile faith identities in regards to Paganism and other minority religions. Keep up the good work, Phil.

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audrey ruth

November 04, 2013  5:59pm

P.S. to Phil: Your next to last paragraph on page 3 is very troubling to me, does not witness with my spirit. Jesus told us to be IN the world but not OF the world. The overall tone sounds like you fit right in with these dark shenanigans each Halloween.

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audrey ruth

November 04, 2013  5:57pm

Phil, thanks for your responses. Some people I've questioned have not bothered to reply. I give you kudos for that. I am very familiar with the prophetic Charismatic movement, including interpretation of dreams, and am very leery of it. To be honest, I have seen a LOT of unGodly things under this umbrella: misleading words which have led to shipwreck in people's lives, and abuse, etc. To be clear, I believe the entire Bible, including the gifts of the Spirit. The basis of true spiritual warfare is given in Ephesians 6 and 1 Corinthians 10, and I don't see anything there about confronting people at all, let alone in an antagonistic way. God has given us spiritual warfare for a purpose and it is very needed. I cannot understand why Christians would need to hear a witch tell about her life, in order to know that God loves her too. The Lord tells us not to learn the way of the heathen. Love is vital, always. But we should not ignore His truth and discernment while loving people.

K. Smith

November 04, 2013  4:28pm

Phil Wyman - great points about how to interact with others to show them the love of Christ. No one is going to convert if people shout "sin, hellfire, and damnation" at them. That only makes people defensive and turns them off even further to Christ.

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Phil Wyman

November 04, 2013  11:50am

John, The opening line was added by the editors. I would never use the term "Halloween-crazed Salem." In actuality, few of the visitors think that the accused were Witches, but the Salem Witch Craze of 1692 is the drawing card for the tourists. You are correct, Salem residents have a hard time with the October, but most of them simply want to flee the crowds and traffic problems. There is a fairly significant Pagan population locally, some say it is as large as 10%. I think it is smaller, but it is still much larger than average across the US. If you visit the Witch memorial, you will see that the people executed are presented in a positive light. This is also true for many of the attractions highlighting the events of 1692-1693. My story was edited, and removed about 30% (originally I was asked to present this the print edition, so it had to be cut to fit the online version). There were names of participating churches, and other locals in my original full story.

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Phil Wyman

November 04, 2013  11:37am

Audrey, Will try to answer you questions. Dream Interpretation: The people who come to do this from all around the US are part of a prophetic Charismatic movement. They believe they are gifted. "Disengaging from antagonistic spiritual warfare": treat people like people. It is a simple idea of treating all people with respect. Agnostic as a friend: Isn't it good that people who know we love Jesus, but are still undecided if God exists actually like us, and want to hang out with us? A Witch speaking: so people can see that she is a real person who God loves. People crying Hail Satan: I know some of them, and I know they were mocking the street preachers. I do not condone their mockery, I was just reporting the crazy activities.

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Phil Wyman

November 04, 2013  11:20am

Tom: indeed there are faithful witnesses, but also it should be known that from many leaders who have lived here for years there had been a fairly aggressive approach against both Halloween and Witches. When we moved here, we discovered that despite 20 years of much of that aggressive mentality both Halloween and Witchcraft had grown exponentially. We simply felt responsible for the hordes of visitors coming to Salem - both Pagan and non-Pagan. Our willingness to engage the culture has allowed us to run a stage all month long (with the blessing of of the city) for the whole month of October for 15 Halloweens now. Many leaders have been supportive, and have joined us, but there are those who have been shouting at Witch shops, praying curses against people and businesses (and sometimes us), and more often simply disengaging from this phenomenal opportunity to reach the world.

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teresa bacon

November 03, 2013  10:18am

For once I have nothing to say. I think I agree w both above

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audrey ruth

November 02, 2013  3:50pm

Re: "free dream interpretations, à la Daniel or Joseph"? How does this work? This sounds like mockery of the true gift God gave to Joseph and Daniel. Surely the people offering these interpretations do not give the illusion of being gifted of God in this? When you say you ask volunteers to "keep from engaging in antagonistic spiritual warfare", what does that mean? You say that "a local witch and friend of the church, spoke to the group about life as a witch." Why? You say an agnostic is also "a friend of the church." Why do you assume that people who shout, "Hail Satan" are pretending to be Satanists? Your next to last paragraph on page 3 is especially troubling to me. I can see why your former denomination disfellowshipped you, and I would think they sorely regret their substantial gift of the year before. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that perhaps you are indeed sincere, but it sounds like you may be sincerely misguided. The overall tone sounds like you fit right in.

John Bresnahan

November 01, 2013  5:40pm

The opening headline on this story "Halloween-crazed Salem" is only partially true. Only local business people seeking a buck and invaders on tour busses are the crazed ones. Many of these business people live elsewhere. I live in Lynn on Salem's border and am amazed at the caravan of busses which pass through Lynn to join the lunacy in Salem. People I know who actually live in Salem have become disgusted with how those who died in Salem are being exploited, lied about, and ridiculed. The invaders of Salem talk and act as if those executed in Salem were really up to something and that they were really exercising occult powers. Many of the people flocking to Salem brag about their paganism. But they are worse than pagan. The people who died at Gallows Hill were honorable people who died rather than lie and commit perjury. (If you confessed--to the lie that you were a witch- you were sent home with a warning, not executed).

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Truth Betold

November 01, 2013  10:52am

I tried speaking to some witches. They have a coven theology. Ba-dump!

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Tom Petter

October 31, 2013  8:01pm

Great to focus on outreach in Salem, but it's good for readers to know there are lots of other folks who have worked faithfully in the city for many years to build bridges and connect in order to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the city. In fact I am quite sure they are happy they were actually not mentioned in the piece!

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