You were a great witness for Jesus to all four of the churches God gave us the privilege to confront with the true Gospel of Christ.  The lambs in those churches desperately need the “living water” you possess and give away so graciously and freely.  Here is a follow-up on one of those churches. 



August 4, 2012 by Flip Benham

I attended the early morning service (8:45 AM) at Central United Methodist Church in Concord, yesterday August 4, 2012, and listened to Andy Tolliver (Pastor) deliver a message on Jonah.  He began his sermon this way:  “Most Hebrew scholars view the book of Jonah as a folk tale.”  He explained that “…all the facts may not necessarily be true, but that the folk tale does reveal a truth about God.” 

OK, so who determines what is true and what is not?  Are you the final arbiter of Truth Andy?

So I settled in my mind that the most implausible thing to imagine in the book of Jonah was the fact that he was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish.  That he remained in the belly of that fish for three days and nights, until God got his point across, and then the fish expelled him on a beach near Nineveh. 

As a matter of fact, Andy even had a huge fish balloon filled with helium being raised up in the sanctuary with the real scary music from the movie “Jaws.”  It was corny, but he was trying to make a point: “God loves everybody, including the hated Ninevites!”

The “Word of God” was like a fire shut up in my bones, but I remained silent until I could speak to Andy at the end of the service.  After most of the folks had left the church, I went to the Fourier where Andy was shaking hands and asked him if Jesus believed that Jonah was actually swallowed by a great fish, and remained in that fish for three days and nights.  I referred him to Matthew 12:39-42 and Luke 11:29-32.

“He (Jesus) answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!  But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For as Jonah was three days and three nights of a huge fish, so the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  Matthew 12:39-40.

I asked him if Jesus considered Jonah to be a folk tale or an actual historical fact.  After all, Jesus did use this (folk tale?) as a “living parable” of His own resurrection.  I asked him if Jesus was lying about the fact that Jonah did actually spend three days in the belly of a great fish.  Surely He (Jesus) would know the truth.  Andy seemed a bit flummoxed but continued smiling at me.  I pointed out that either he was lying or Jesus was?

I then gave him this Scripture out of the Book of Jonah, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  Jonah 2:8.  I reminded him that God had spoken to him on several different occasions through the lives of simple little Christians in many and various ways calling him to repentance.  Andy has chosen to cling to worthless idols (Higher Criticism being one of them) and therefore will forfeit the grace that God desires to give him.

The sad thing is Andy is the shepherd of so many lambs that are being led astray by his false and arrogant teaching.

1 reply
  1. Steve cude says:

    Mr. Benham, it’s a shame that you think that some can’t receive Gods grace just because you believe or don’t believe the Jonah story. He may even grant you his grace for being so judgemental.!! And even further, there is not and has not ever been any pastor with the name Tolliver or anything like that for at least 40 yrs. I wonder if you can’t read his name can you be trusted to relate anything you hear? Gods grace be with you.

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