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Principles and Standards

Principles and Standards - An introduction

Since cults and false leaders often practice secretiveness in order to maintain a hidden agenda, it is wise to keep our agenda as open and readable as possible. Therefore, we have taken the time to construct statements such as these in our discussion of Principles. We have also included disclosures regarding money and contributions, and other written proclaimations as well.

Love and Flexibility

Personal Christian growth is not realized without assurance and security of God's love for us, without Christ's redemptive work, without the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and without sincere love and honesty toward one another. In all Christian relationships, no matter how they may be defined, it is desirable to maintain reasonable respect for one another as Christians.  If at all possible, we need to be at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us.

Scripture shows that when policies and procedures (laws) are multiplied and exalted, the core ideals become lost. The Pharisees whom Jesus opposed, demonstrated this type of spiritual blindness.  In their zeal they added more and more traditions of man, 'laws' or 'fence laws,' while neglecting the essentials -- like love.  Eventually, their excessive rules, policies, and procedures, left them a hardened wine skin.  Their loss of love and abandonment of higher principles incurred the disapproval of God Himself, who eventually removed His Spirit from them.

The failure of those whom Jesus rebuked is an important example of what we need to avoid. We must be open to the leading of the Spirit and the will of the Father.  The only limit to this 'flexibility' is our promise to adhere to the integrity of Scripture while we pursue God's will.


It is said in Scripture that faith without works is dead. Similarly, faith with WRONG works conflicts with faith itself, making it of no account. Like dirt that mixes with water to the point of making it undrinkable, incorrect practices can so muddy the Christian walk as to make the Christian faith itself recognizable. This makes it undesirable to unbelievers.  Just as the apostles exhorted the early Christians to be concerned for Christianity's reputation, so should we.

No one is perfect, yet we can still be His worthy representatives, weak as we are in the flesh.  Mistakes can be made because of  naive ignorance, or because of personal difficulties that might distract us from our purpose. Carelessness or ignorance should not be a way of life though, since faith in Christ gives us the power and wisdom to find and practice a better way.

Standards in The Word of God

The Word of God expresses the principles and standards of Christian conduct very well.  For instance, the apostles often wrote to their fellowships about how to relate to one another and to God. They taught, complimented, exhorted, rebuked or reproved as needed to encourage believers to adhere to both Truth and Love. The authority by which they did this was the truths which they themselves carried out, as they followed and held to the example set forth by the Lord Jesus Christ. They also set their minds on what the Holy Spirit desired in their lives. The values of Jesus Christ the Son of God were not ignored by them and neither should they be ignored by us.

Of course, we all know in part and see in part. Our best defense to our own human fallibility then is to humbly acknowledge that fact. One way to do this is by making ourselves as available as we can to the feedback of others who also esteem the Word of God. Therefore, although we are not a slave to every hostile person who might contact us, we have made ourselves as open to constructive criticism as we can. Anyone who does otherwise, or who disallows the same, is demonstrating their unwillingness to hear from those whom God may send.  

The Failure of Authoritarian Discipleship

There has been much emphasis put on individuals who are "in authority" and those who are "under" them.  It becomes easy then for some people to "Lord it over" others, even though Jesus Himself taught against this. Authoritarian 'Christianity' has been almost a complete failure for centuries. This is because being slavishly "held accountable" to specific people is not justifiable in Scripture, nor does it ultimately work when it comes to spiritual growth or health. We are only to be a 'bondslave' to Jesus Christ, who is the sinless Son of God, but we are not to be a 'bondslave' to any other person, place, or thing. 


Accountability can be known in a variety of ways. Correction can come directly from God or from the Body of Christ.  When concerns from other believers are consistently avoided, unanswered, despised, or openly or secretly rejected, we need to notice what may be an attitude of rebellion against God's Spirit through brothers and sisters in Christ. Actively repressing all freedom of speech or hiding all evidence of disagreement or dissent is a sure sign of hidden rebellion to any accountability that might be inspired by God's Spirit. 

Open statements and practices make it possible for a ministry to be held accountable. However, practices that oppose the stated intent, belief, or ideals reveal a 'disconnect' from the stated beliefs. Such things are at the very least, unwise. They may reveal a doublemindedness that is both self- and other- destructive. It is well known that hypocrites and charlatans say one thing and do another. Hypocrisy and duplicity breeds cynicism and hurt.

No one person or group of people are infallible nor are they the same as Christ, God the Father, or the Holy Spirit. Because of this, no one is obliged to anyone who has less submission and respect for the Holy Scriptures and for the Person of Jesus than they do themselves. As for gross error, rebukes or seperations often become necessary.  No one needs to be held accountable to those in gross error any more than they would need to be held accountable to the devil himself.  

True and False leadership

Christian leadership should demonstrate service, love, and humility, as modeled by Christ. Fostering and nurturing both personal and community growth and integrity is a respected part of that service to God. God Himself tests the willingness of man to resist or accept His good counsel and calling by a variety of methods and ways.  Just as conduct and righteousness are more important to Him than gifts, so should they be to us.

False leaders tend to establish one set of standards of conduct for themselves and their inner circle, while expecting a different, often higher, set of standards of conduct for those outside of their 'inner circle'. This, among other things, undermines and destroys the healthy expression of Christian community. False leaders may be those who undermine the leadership or prior teachings of others before them -- those who have already labored in Christ to establish a healthy Christian community or family. Or, they may be those who start a fellowship or alliance of some sort in the first place.

False leaders promote themselves into a role only Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or God Himself should have, giving themselves special priviledges in a manner that Jesus Himself disapproved of.  They often expect or demand favoritism for themselves or others, with an attitude that they are 'over' those whom they consider to be 'lesser' or 'under' then themselves. The often display or practice an elitism that God never sanctioned or desired as a quality of the Body of Christ. Because of the deep deception and spiritual pride that is often involved, it is wise to have realistic expectations when dealing with false leaders, even as we may grieve for their souls.  

Anyone can claim to hold to correct doctrines or practices, but his practices either verify his claim or expose them as wanting.  Sometimes, a person's practices exposes the doctrines themselves as being incorrect too.  Regardless, a mockery of the faith is still a mockery, and hypocrisy or doublemindedness are not the qualities of a stable, genuine faith.  For this reason we must adhere to reasonable standards of conduct, such as the ones outlined here, as well as expect reasonable accountability to those standards.

Should anyone discern that we are out-of-bounds to the standards of Christian conduct and humility, or that we willfully disregard the principles or standards we post for ourselves on this website, or that we are not sincerely accountable to the Word or the Spirit of God to the best of our ability, we ask that they reprove or rebuke us as necessary. We also reserve the right to do the same to those who lack integrity or sincerity with regard to reasonable standards or their own stated beliefs. 

This concludes this rather formal introduction to our Principles and Standards.

-Teri Lee Earl (author, 2005-2007)

Money and Contributions:

For the past decade, we have done everything on a volunteer basis with the time and resources that God has given us.

The Apostle Paul provided for himself by his tentmaking profession so that he was not a burden to the Corinth church nor an example of greed to the elders in Ephesus (Acts 20). We hope that the Western Church will cease exalting paid ministers over and above the volunteers who sacrifice their own time and resources.  

The following unpaid volunteers are contributing to this work right now:

Links about money: 

This was one of our first pages (1997), put up in hopes that people would think long and hard about conferences that were obvious money-making machines.  Little did we know that the trend in Christendom would get worse afterwards! 

Please also see our Money page for teachings and articles about money and contributions.

Tip Jar 

Other early pages: 

Bob and Teri's Personal Statement of Faith (1997 or so)

On Becoming a 'Team Player' (1997)
This is a humorous analogy inspired after prayer by the Holy Spirit. It is about getting along with one another in productive ways.

Establishing the Agenda for the Unmoderated E-mail List  (1999)
This was developed both prior to and after years of successful experience with unmoderated e-mail lists. Since it is currently easy for anyone to start their own e-mail list, it is left here as a guide to anyone who needs it.

E-mail Etiquette

Outside links
We often link to material that is not hosted here at HarvestNET.  These are either seperated out into their own section, or identified with a  symbol. We try to maintain reasonable standards both for both ourselves and the articles we link to. Please access our Guidelines To Basic Biblical Interpretation and feel free to contact us if you have any scriptural objections. In addition, feel free to utilize our "Bible Helps" section too.   

Another relevant link to this page:

Why We Speak Out Against Spiritual Abuse  (2007) "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received..." (Eph. 4:1) Discusses character above gifts. Links at the bottom.

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© 1997- Robert and Teri Earl
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