Allen, along with Lindsey Nobles and several other women, started this 'movement,' as they describe it, to gather women for purposes of discussing their feelings about the Bible. This is accomplished outside of the auspices of the local church. Several participating IF:Leaders admit they actually abandoned their own ongoing church ministries to do form this non-church organization and focus on the global movement they hoped to incite. Their intentions are full of self-stated hubris. They plan to 'disciple a generation'. They intend to 'heal the nations'. They will 'reconcile the world'. They will 'unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose'. And so on. You can read about my concerns with the IF movement here, and here.
IF was born from a direct revelation given by a voice in the sky to Jennie Allen sometime in 2007. The movement perpetuates twisted hermeneutics, unbiblical lifestyles, social justice, and a warped view of the Gospel that is based on doubt. That's the synopsis of concerns regarding IF:Gathering. That it is unhealthy is to say the least. Please read the previous essays for scriptural foundations supporting these concerns.
Today I want to shift focus and show you in pictures just how quickly satan propagates his false doctrines and unbiblical lifestyles.
The first IF:Gathering was held in February 2014. At this writing, exactly three years have passed since then. The movement has indeed caught on. Its activity is mostly hidden. If you haven't heard about IF that's because the gatherings are announced via social media and many of them are private. This activity is all going on out of sight for the most part (aside from the annual convention). Three years ago I'd posted a shocking map that showed how many of these public and private gatherings were taking place all around us. Here is the map showing IF:Gatherings three years ago when it began.
By 2017, the gathering's teachings have spread worldwide. Look how many gatherings are held locally now:
Map from IF:Local, 2/2017
From Paraguay to Nova Scotia, from Rwanda to Thailand, From Australia to Denmark, there are IF:locals everywhere. It is a global force by now and it didn't take satan long to do it.
This fact should primarily remind us that women are vulnerable to satan's wiles. IF is a female movement through and through. The IF:Locals that are held are mainly held in homes, not churches. Many of them are private parties, so accountability and oversight is very much more difficult to ensure.
For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, (2 Timothy 3:6)
The sad fact of the IF:map fact should also bring to mind the verse where Paul tells us how fast false doctrine spreads. Paul said that false teachings are like gangrene. Gangrene is a fast-spreading condition that occurs when healthy body tissue dies because the disease obstructs blood to it! How apt as a metaphor for the healthy body of the church and its lifeblood from Jesus obstructed and infected by false teachings and teachers!!
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2 Timothy 2:16-17a).
Do you see the progression? There IS a progression.
leads people into more and more ungodliness...
the talk spreads like gangrene...
gangrene infects even the healthy tissue.
As Barnes' Notes explains of the effects of gangrene:
will spread over and consume the healthful parts. It will not merely destroy the parts immediately affected, but will extend into the surrounding healthy parts and destroy them also.I know that some people find discernment work distasteful. They do not see the necessity of one of the important activities of how we defend the faith. I consider the importance of defending the faith by both exalting Jesus AND naming false doctrines and teachers. They do not like to name false teachers, they do not emphasize exercising the skill, or they simply overlook rooting it out, hoping it will go away. Many pastors never even preach on the importance of discernment from the pulpit, or if they do, they make aw shucks apologies. And sadly, many others do not practice it themselves.
I've seen many false doctrines and movements come and take root. I know you have too. However, in my experience, (which granted, isn't lengthy, just 14 years in the faith), I have never seen a doctrine, movement, or pseudo-Christian 'celebrity' culture embed itself so fast. Whether that speaks to the low levels of discernment, the bloated pseudo-church, or the lateness of the times, the fact that it's aimed at women, (or all of the above) I do not know. But this thing is wildfire and it is growing faster even than Charismania or prosperity Gospel. Its tentacles have gone deep.
Notably, in 2012, Pastor Jim Murphy of First Baptist Church of Johnson City, NY found to his dismay how quickly satan's tentacles embedded themselves into his church when he overlooked some areas he knew he should address but simply hadn't. Eventually he preached a powerful message to his congregation that took himself to task, and them too. He asked their forgiveness. Then he said,
Now is the time for clarity. No more messing around. No more experimentation. No more dabbling into these dangerous practices. Now is the time for clarity and that clarity comes through discernment: this ability to think Biblically. The ability to read a book and see what it is saying aside from the warm fuzzy you got from it. Discernment takes time and it takes work and shame on you for not taking the time and effort. Shame on you.In that sermon, Pastor Murphy said that satan's tentacles had spread so fast and deep, he was saddened and shocked. He took on the guilt himself, saying that he knew the Sunday School and the Church Library held some off-ideas but he didn't address it because he was so busy and wrongly handed off total responsibility to underlings. He was wrong to do that he said, because false doctrine does not come in only at the pulpit. It comes in the small groups, the library, the women's ministry. It takes vigilance to combat it.
Please listen to the sermon, it is so good and encouraging!
We see by the map that false doctrine comes through the para-church groups, gatherings, and conventions/conferences your women are participating in. Men, satan targeted Eve. It spreads fast. Don't think for a moment that satan isn't working through every means he can to get to your people. Stay strong.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (Romans 16:17)
Essay: The Five Tests of False Doctrine (Challies)
Essay: False Teachers and Deadly Doctrines(Challies)
Sermon: How to treat false teachers part 1(J. MacArthur)
Sermon: How to treat false teachers part 2(J. MacArthur)
Essay: The Danger in Women's Ministries (Aimee Byrd)