There are no "Church Planting Movements" in the Bible

There are no "Church Planting Movements" in the Bible October 1, 2014

Are our missionary methods “biblical” or do they more reflect the values of our own cultures?231011361_4a4a257a60

One of the most influential ideas in missions over the past 15 years goes by the name “Church Planting Movements” (CPMs). In one form or another, CPM-theory has shaped the face of missions around the world.Therefore, I have just published two articles in Global Missiology that examine CPM theory. In addition, David Garrison submitted his own response to my comments. Garrison is the man who literally wrote the book on CPMs, called “Church Planting Movements.”

Here are the titles and a few questions I explore in my two articles.

THERE ARE NO CHURCH PLANTING MOVEMENTS IN THE BIBLE: WHY BIBLICAL EXEGESIS AND MISSIOLOGICAL METHODS CANNOT BE SEPARATED

Are you ever examined the passages used to support CPM theory within their original context?

Would Paul have passed a CPM assessment?

In the process, I try to provide an exegesis of the 7 so-called CPMs in the book of Acts. Here is an excerpt from my introduction:

“In recent years, missionaries have discussed and strategized ways to catalyze “church planting movements” (CPMs) around the world. However, many people have challenged mission practices that are oriented on CPM-theory. Both sides of the debate appeal to Scripture to support their arguments. Indeed, CPM theorists implicitly and explicitly contend that CPMs are found in the Bible itself. This article examines and contests any such claim.

This article makes a simple argument: there are no “church planting movements” in the Bible. Although someone might regard this as a “negative” thesis, the aim of the essay is quite constructive. It is utterly critical that certain notions and associations be set aside if we are to develop biblically faithful and strategically wise missiology. Of course, there is much to commend in CPM literature. However, we cannot simply draw out what is good from a CPM theory without examining related ideas, such as its use of Scripture. When applying some aspect of CPM missiology, we may unwittingly assume ways of thinking or interpreting the Bible that are counterproductive. Therefore, this essay tries to help readers discern theory from theology.”

This leads to my second article….

THE INFLUENCE OF CULTURE ON THE EVOLUTION OF MISSION METHODS: USING “CHURCH PLANTING MOVEMENTS” AS A CASE STUDY

Have you considered how a missionary’s own culture influences his or her strategies?

Is there any biblical precedent to expect a large response from “full Gentiles” (those without familiarity with Jewish beliefs)?

Here is an excerpt from my introduction:

“How precisely does culture influence ministry methods? The question is multi-layered. In a missionary setting, the relationship between culture and strategy becomes even more complicated. At one level, Christian practice should stem from a sound interpretation of the Bible. Yet, ministry does not happen in a vacuum. Global missions brings people from diverse backgrounds together in a cross-cultural setting. Mission strategies are constantly shaped by at least three different cultures––the missionary’s home culture, the local culture in which he or she ministers, and the biblical culture(s). Of course, people may not be conscious of this fact.

Therefore, it is important that we intentionally consider how culture shapes mission strategy and practice. Given the vast breadth of the topic, a helpful approach would be to examine a particular philosophy of ministry that is popular among missionaries around the world. In this way, we can avoid abstraction. Also, our analysis will be relevant for a greater number of people.

This article highlights three specific ways that culture contributes to the evolution of a missionary strategy. As a case study, I will examine the cultural influences behind “church planting movements” (CPMs). This study first considers how CPM practitioners understand culture’s influence on Paul’s missionary efforts. The second section identifies a number of cultural assumptions affecting the application of the CPM paradigm. Third, I give one explanation why the model survives despite a lack of biblical precedent. There are strong forces within missionary subculture that have enabled CPM theory to evolve into a popular ministry model. Finally, I conclude by offering a few practical suggestions that will help us resist the rapid spread of syncretism within contemporary mission strategy.”

DAVID GARRISON’S RESPONSE

David Garrison wrote a reply to my first essay. His article is called “Church Planting Movements Are Consistent with the Teachings & Practices of the New Testament: A Response to Jackson Wu”


What do you think?

Leave your comments and pass along these articles to others. We need to continue the conversation in order to make sure we use biblical faithful strategies.

 

Photo Credit: Capture Queen/flickr

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Let me know if this costs you your job, I¹d love to have a good teammate over here! :)

    I¹m just kidding, I doubt there will be any major problems since Garrison interfaces with you. Look forward to reading it.

    J

    From: jacksonwu Reply-To: jacksonwu Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2014 11:59:23 +0000 To: Jason Borges Subject: [New post] There are no ³Church Planting Movements² in the Bible

    WordPress.com jacksonwu posted: “Are our missionary methods ³biblical² or do they more reflect the values of our own cultures? One of the most influential ideas in missions over the past 15 years goes by the name ³Church Planting Movements² (CPMs). In one form or another, CPM-theory h”

  • Let me know if this costs you your job, I¹d love to have a good teammate over here! :)

    I¹m just kidding, I doubt there will be any major problems since Garrison interfaces with you. Look forward to reading it.

    J

    From: jacksonwu Reply-To: jacksonwu Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2014 11:59:23 +0000 To: Jason Borges Subject: [New post] There are no ³Church Planting Movements² in the Bible

    WordPress.com jacksonwu posted: “Are our missionary methods ³biblical² or do they more reflect the values of our own cultures? One of the most influential ideas in missions over the past 15 years goes by the name ³Church Planting Movements² (CPMs). In one form or another, CPM-theory h”

  • Cindy Bratton

    Thank you, Pastor Wu, for this blog.

    I’ve review the three links at the bottom, have started reading Massey’s article and will pursue Robinson’s review of T4T.

    My husband and I have CPM training and have a general idea of T4T. We work in a “fully Gentile” country, Thailand. Lo and behold, our “elephant church” (according to an IMB CPM strategist 5 years ago – and not in an encouraging way) consists of about 25-30 children, ages 4-15, plus a handful of relatively illiterate adults who, nonetheless, excellent auditory learners. It took us being in our location for a full 2.5 years before we were given credibility even though we were well-liked before. The kids ministry really took off, and they are thirsty to learn and apply the principles of godly living from Scripture. It will take years to raise up an indigenous leader from these children because, in order to have credibility they must have a really good education and prove themselves. They would probably need to be at LEAST 25 years old, possibly closer to 35. Do we continue to work with the adults in our community? Absolutely! But they are so hardened in Buddhism/Animism or the very animistic religion of the Moken/Sea Gypsies that it’s very difficult for them to forsake all for Jesus. We are very grateful to have supporters that don’t worry so much about numbers and speed. We’re excited to see what God is going to do through these children and how He will impact our area. It may be a decade or more, but we’re here for the long haul.

    Cindy

  • Cindy Bratton

    Thank you, Pastor Wu, for this blog.

    I’ve review the three links at the bottom, have started reading Massey’s article and will pursue Robinson’s review of T4T.

    My husband and I have CPM training and have a general idea of T4T. We work in a “fully Gentile” country, Thailand. Lo and behold, our “elephant church” (according to an IMB CPM strategist 5 years ago – and not in an encouraging way) consists of about 25-30 children, ages 4-15, plus a handful of relatively illiterate adults who, nonetheless, excellent auditory learners. It took us being in our location for a full 2.5 years before we were given credibility even though we were well-liked before. The kids ministry really took off, and they are thirsty to learn and apply the principles of godly living from Scripture. It will take years to raise up an indigenous leader from these children because, in order to have credibility they must have a really good education and prove themselves. They would probably need to be at LEAST 25 years old, possibly closer to 35. Do we continue to work with the adults in our community? Absolutely! But they are so hardened in Buddhism/Animism or the very animistic religion of the Moken/Sea Gypsies that it’s very difficult for them to forsake all for Jesus. We are very grateful to have supporters that don’t worry so much about numbers and speed. We’re excited to see what God is going to do through these children and how He will impact our area. It may be a decade or more, but we’re here for the long haul.

    Cindy

  • Kevin Funderburk

    I have great respect for both you and Dr. Garrison. It seems to me that CPM Theory is not a Scriptural mandate, nor is it prescribed, or even described in Scripture. However, it appears that CPM Theory, as I understand it, is supported by Scripture. That is, it falls within the teachings and principles of Christ and the Apostles. I wish that Dr. Garrison had responded more thoroughly to your primary issue which was “rapid reproduction.” I don’t see where one can exegete the time-related elements of the definition of CPM from the passages quoted by Dr. Garrison. I suppose it is possible that churches multiplied at the rate that meets the Garrison’s CPM standard, but, as you pointed out, we cannot build an argument from silence. However, I must then ask the question, “Do the passages asserted by Dr. Garrison preclude the non-occurence of CPM as defined by Garrison?” Again, to affirm this is also to argue from silence. We simply cannot know for sure, and for either party to speculate calling it revelation is irresponsible at best.

    In the end, the Board has identified its missions strategy with that of building rapidly reproducing, multiplying churches. This concept, I believe, falls well within the paradigm of Scripture, although it cannot, and should not, be interpreted as normative. Perhaps, the Board should not look to change its strategy but rather seek to communicate its CPM strategy and its biblical support more responsibly. Moreover, I would hope that the Board would take care to convey well-balanced expectations of its missionaries.

    Let’s all keep planting churches!

    • Thanks brother for your thoughtful comment. The only reply I would offer now is this—if you take away the rapidity component, you kill CPM theory. The other principles (like prayer, evangelism, etc.) are not specific to CPM theory. The goal in my essay was to ensure people don’t misuse Scripture in defending a methodology without biblical precedent.

  • Kevin Funderburk

    I have great respect for both you and Dr. Garrison. It seems to me that CPM Theory is not a Scriptural mandate, nor is it prescribed, or even described in Scripture. However, it appears that CPM Theory, as I understand it, is supported by Scripture. That is, it falls within the teachings and principles of Christ and the Apostles. I wish that Dr. Garrison had responded more thoroughly to your primary issue which was “rapid reproduction.” I don’t see where one can exegete the time-related elements of the definition of CPM from the passages quoted by Dr. Garrison. I suppose it is possible that churches multiplied at the rate that meets the Garrison’s CPM standard, but, as you pointed out, we cannot build an argument from silence. However, I must then ask the question, “Do the passages asserted by Dr. Garrison preclude the non-occurence of CPM as defined by Garrison?” Again, to affirm this is also to argue from silence. We simply cannot know for sure, and for either party to speculate calling it revelation is irresponsible at best.

    In the end, the Board has identified its missions strategy with that of building rapidly reproducing, multiplying churches. This concept, I believe, falls well within the paradigm of Scripture, although it cannot, and should not, be interpreted as normative. Perhaps, the Board should not look to change its strategy but rather seek to communicate its CPM strategy and its biblical support more responsibly. Moreover, I would hope that the Board would take care to convey well-balanced expectations of its missionaries.

    Let’s all keep planting churches!

    • Thanks brother for your thoughtful comment. The only reply I would offer now is this—if you take away the rapidity component, you kill CPM theory. The other principles (like prayer, evangelism, etc.) are not specific to CPM theory. The goal in my essay was to ensure people don’t misuse Scripture in defending a methodology without biblical precedent.

  • Thanks so much for this post and these articles – for having the courage to challenge these widely held views. It is refreshing to read the echoes of our own hearts. We have seen too many times in our corner of Africa, the damage which a faulty perspective on church planting can have.

    We’ve seen missionaries and mission societies pull out of areas because there weren’t enough ‘results’ – people weren’t coming to Christ in big enough numbers and ‘churches’ planted weren’t growing and reproducing fast enough….thus conduits for evangelism, and discipleship were withdrawn.

    We’ve seen Western churches not prepared to support missionaries that were not specifically having in their ‘job description’ the terms ‘church planting’.

    We have seen missions from the ‘sending end’ being defined as if Scripture commanded us to go into all the world and ‘plant churches’. And on the flip side we have seen the depth and true meaning of Scripture’s actual command to go into all the world and ‘make disciples’ sidelined or almost totally ignored. Numbers of ‘converts’ from crusades, or numbers of people sitting in church buildings of a Sunday is what has counted. How sad! Somehow the principle of ‘Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart” has been largely forgotten!

    By way of further comment and to encourage you, I would just like to re-quote from your articles of some sections that particularly resonated with us and we want to say a strong AMEN to. You are so ‘spot on’ with your articles once again. (I also read Garrison’s response and didn’t find it really properly addressing the points you raised at all.)

    “Christians and missionaries in particular are assessed by standards not at all found in the Bible. Quantitative measures are inherently specific but are not in the Bible. Qualitative markers (like the fruit of the Spirit) are explicit in Scripture but can easily get minimized because, as one field researcher once told me, “You can’t put a number to things like patience,”

    “In some contexts, a missionary may be theologically convicted to be slower to baptize or report “professions of faith” for fear that a “new convert” is simply trying to give them face. Likewise, in many cultures, people may have a pluralistic or functional view of religion. In that case, a profession of faith can easily be regarded as another religious tool to gain some blessing”

    “missionaries should not feel that they fall short of the biblical norm simply because their ministry resembles that of Jeremiah or Ezekiel.

    There is a difference between what God can do and what God is doing”…….

    “CPM theorists argue that just as Paul catalyzed CPMs in the book of Acts, so also we can expect God to do a similar work around the world today” ..(to add an extra comment to this: not only is this a perspective on Paul that cannot truly be substantiated from Scripture as you rightly show, it also perpetuates a faulty understanding of how God works – it makes the same mistake as many in the prosperity churches who say take the text where God says “I am the same yesterday, today and forever’ and apply it to God’s acts rather than his character. – or as you mention, ‘can do’ rather than ‘does do’. This is dangerous theology and is the source of so much false teaching in our part of the world. Just because Jonah jumped over the side of a ship and God sent a fish to catch him doesn’t mean we can do the same and expect God to send a fish again!)

    “Philosophically speaking, this approach is thoroughly “western”

    “strong emphasis on “best practices” displays a bent towards western pragmatism”

    “Missionary subculture emphasizes numbers in order to attract potential contributors. Thus, financial pressure also fosters an ethos in which CPM theory thrives.”

    “Full Gentiles” cannot be expected to accept the gospel, after having only been introduced to the gospel with a 3–5 minute presentation”……

    “Missionaries need more intentionally to not only preach the gospel but also prepare the way for the gospel. At one level, this could include “pre-evangelism” discussions about worldview and apologetics related topics. On another level, we should reflect on the gospel message as preached in the Bible. As has been shown elsewhere,

    certain ideas are consistently emphasized in Scripture that do not always find their way in contemporary evangelism tracts.” – (to comment further…and we often forget that many Westerners have had some kind of Judeo-Christian input in their lives and have even just a little context to put some bible truth – though it is becoming less and less, but some cultures without a Judeo-Christian worldview have no context. Gospel presentations that simple introduce Jesus to rescue from sin so a person can go to heaven, not only don’t extensively tell the whole gospel story including the covenants as you mention, but many don’t even talk about God as Creator, or where sin even came from, why we need saving and who Adam was….all things that Paul took time to explain at the beginning of Romans.)

    This has been a long comment….but we just want to encourage you in your willingness to speak strongly and boldly on this, as it is a topic that needs to be addressed because its not just a theological discussion point, but it is negatively affecting real people in real life ways and/or real ministry and a for real eternity!

  • Thanks so much for this post and these articles – for having the courage to challenge these widely held views. It is refreshing to read the echoes of our own hearts. We have seen too many times in our corner of Africa, the damage which a faulty perspective on church planting can have.

    We’ve seen missionaries and mission societies pull out of areas because there weren’t enough ‘results’ – people weren’t coming to Christ in big enough numbers and ‘churches’ planted weren’t growing and reproducing fast enough….thus conduits for evangelism, and discipleship were withdrawn.

    We’ve seen Western churches not prepared to support missionaries that were not specifically having in their ‘job description’ the terms ‘church planting’.

    We have seen missions from the ‘sending end’ being defined as if Scripture commanded us to go into all the world and ‘plant churches’. And on the flip side we have seen the depth and true meaning of Scripture’s actual command to go into all the world and ‘make disciples’ sidelined or almost totally ignored. Numbers of ‘converts’ from crusades, or numbers of people sitting in church buildings of a Sunday is what has counted. How sad! Somehow the principle of ‘Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks at the heart” has been largely forgotten!

    By way of further comment and to encourage you, I would just like to re-quote from your articles of some sections that particularly resonated with us and we want to say a strong AMEN to. You are so ‘spot on’ with your articles once again. (I also read Garrison’s response and didn’t find it really properly addressing the points you raised at all.)

    “Christians and missionaries in particular are assessed by standards not at all found in the Bible. Quantitative measures are inherently specific but are not in the Bible. Qualitative markers (like the fruit of the Spirit) are explicit in Scripture but can easily get minimized because, as one field researcher once told me, “You can’t put a number to things like patience,”

    “In some contexts, a missionary may be theologically convicted to be slower to baptize or report “professions of faith” for fear that a “new convert” is simply trying to give them face. Likewise, in many cultures, people may have a pluralistic or functional view of religion. In that case, a profession of faith can easily be regarded as another religious tool to gain some blessing”

    “missionaries should not feel that they fall short of the biblical norm simply because their ministry resembles that of Jeremiah or Ezekiel.

    There is a difference between what God can do and what God is doing”…….

    “CPM theorists argue that just as Paul catalyzed CPMs in the book of Acts, so also we can expect God to do a similar work around the world today” ..(to add an extra comment to this: not only is this a perspective on Paul that cannot truly be substantiated from Scripture as you rightly show, it also perpetuates a faulty understanding of how God works – it makes the same mistake as many in the prosperity churches who say take the text where God says “I am the same yesterday, today and forever’ and apply it to God’s acts rather than his character. – or as you mention, ‘can do’ rather than ‘does do’. This is dangerous theology and is the source of so much false teaching in our part of the world. Just because Jonah jumped over the side of a ship and God sent a fish to catch him doesn’t mean we can do the same and expect God to send a fish again!)

    “Philosophically speaking, this approach is thoroughly “western”

    “strong emphasis on “best practices” displays a bent towards western pragmatism”

    “Missionary subculture emphasizes numbers in order to attract potential contributors. Thus, financial pressure also fosters an ethos in which CPM theory thrives.”

    “Full Gentiles” cannot be expected to accept the gospel, after having only been introduced to the gospel with a 3–5 minute presentation”……

    “Missionaries need more intentionally to not only preach the gospel but also prepare the way for the gospel. At one level, this could include “pre-evangelism” discussions about worldview and apologetics related topics. On another level, we should reflect on the gospel message as preached in the Bible. As has been shown elsewhere,

    certain ideas are consistently emphasized in Scripture that do not always find their way in contemporary evangelism tracts.” – (to comment further…and we often forget that many Westerners have had some kind of Judeo-Christian input in their lives and have even just a little context to put some bible truth – though it is becoming less and less, but some cultures without a Judeo-Christian worldview have no context. Gospel presentations that simple introduce Jesus to rescue from sin so a person can go to heaven, not only don’t extensively tell the whole gospel story including the covenants as you mention, but many don’t even talk about God as Creator, or where sin even came from, why we need saving and who Adam was….all things that Paul took time to explain at the beginning of Romans.)

    This has been a long comment….but we just want to encourage you in your willingness to speak strongly and boldly on this, as it is a topic that needs to be addressed because its not just a theological discussion point, but it is negatively affecting real people in real life ways and/or real ministry and a for real eternity!

  • Mike Morris

    Check out the fall edition of the Southwestern Journal of Theology. There are eight articles on missions issues. It is a free download at this link: http://www.swbts.edu/swjt

  • Mike Morris

    Check out the fall edition of the Southwestern Journal of Theology. There are eight articles on missions issues. It is a free download at this link: http://www.swbts.edu/swjt

  • I thought Dr. Garrison’s response did not address the issues you brought up, namely that those within the CPM movement claim that their methodology is described in scripture. Instead, Garrison developed a new definition for CPM’s and defended the new definition. This new definition could fit a number of Church planting methodologies, not just CPM’s. That’s pretty slick on his part.

  • I thought Dr. Garrison’s response did not address the issues you brought up, namely that those within the CPM movement claim that their methodology is described in scripture. Instead, Garrison developed a new definition for CPM’s and defended the new definition. This new definition could fit a number of Church planting methodologies, not just CPM’s. That’s pretty slick on his part.

  • Ben Brendle

    Just hopped over to your site after reading the latest edition of GM. Really appreciated your thoughts, our hearts beat the same rhythm on this issue. I believe that the American church has fallen victim to several of these cultural eisegesis phenomena, and it is refreshing to hear the voices of those who see it. As I write, I am in the process of planting a church in Missouri, USA with a team of faithful men from our church. One key area of cultural eisegesis I am hammering on is the establishment of leadership. So many churches here preach about biblical leadership and discipleship, meanwhile importing unbiblical qualifications like degree of education, numbers of converts, and other examples of measurement and western empiricism.

    The results on the average American congregation mirror the attrition rates you spoke of among missionaries, with a subtly additional sickness: Apathy. The faithful are not honored here, merely the educated. Not that education is wrong, or I would condemn my own valuable (in my opinion) training. Not that education and faithfulness oppose each other. All i am saying is this: It does not take one long in these churches to realize that the expectation and goal for their spiritual life is passivity, because those who step up as lay leaders are never allowed to advance into the realms of recognition for their godly example (As mandated in the book of Titus).

    Funny that much of Garrison’s list of things we’d have to throw out (since we’re throwing out stuff that’s not explicit in Scripture) is stuff I think we DO seriously need to rethink.

    Keep on looking to Him, keep on encouraging the brothers you have influence over. Make sure they steer far clear of these western fragilizations of church. More importantly, make sure they steer clear of an attitude that is unwilling to accept criticism or a failed attempt at something.

    -Ben

    • Thank you Ben for this comment. It’s encouraging to know what I’m writing connects with people.

  • Ben Brendle

    Just hopped over to your site after reading the latest edition of GM. Really appreciated your thoughts, our hearts beat the same rhythm on this issue. I believe that the American church has fallen victim to several of these cultural eisegesis phenomena, and it is refreshing to hear the voices of those who see it. As I write, I am in the process of planting a church in Missouri, USA with a team of faithful men from our church. One key area of cultural eisegesis I am hammering on is the establishment of leadership. So many churches here preach about biblical leadership and discipleship, meanwhile importing unbiblical qualifications like degree of education, numbers of converts, and other examples of measurement and western empiricism.

    The results on the average American congregation mirror the attrition rates you spoke of among missionaries, with a subtly additional sickness: Apathy. The faithful are not honored here, merely the educated. Not that education is wrong, or I would condemn my own valuable (in my opinion) training. Not that education and faithfulness oppose each other. All i am saying is this: It does not take one long in these churches to realize that the expectation and goal for their spiritual life is passivity, because those who step up as lay leaders are never allowed to advance into the realms of recognition for their godly example (As mandated in the book of Titus).

    Funny that much of Garrison’s list of things we’d have to throw out (since we’re throwing out stuff that’s not explicit in Scripture) is stuff I think we DO seriously need to rethink.

    Keep on looking to Him, keep on encouraging the brothers you have influence over. Make sure they steer far clear of these western fragilizations of church. More importantly, make sure they steer clear of an attitude that is unwilling to accept criticism or a failed attempt at something.

    -Ben

    • Thank you Ben for this comment. It’s encouraging to know what I’m writing connects with people.

  • Hi, I just read your articles, and then Garrison’s response. I previously read Garrison’s book “A Wind in the House of Islam.” From my understanding, the tone of that book and his response paper to you are emphasizing things that they are observing as phenomenologists, not necessarily prescribing for missionaries to do as a strategy. I have not read his book on CPM’s, but “A Wind in the House” describes “movements to Christ” with certain quantitative data so that he can track how many “movements” there currently are, and so that the reader can understand what the term “movement” means. Isn’t this the same with CPM’s? Is not the IMB simply recognizing what God “is doing” in dozens of places?

    • Thanks for your comment. The main point of my article is simply that the Bible cannot be used as evidence for that CPMs are found in the Bible. In practice, when people claim various CPMs are often found in the Bible, the line between description and prescription gets increasingly blurry.

  • Hi, I just read your articles, and then Garrison’s response. I previously read Garrison’s book “A Wind in the House of Islam.” From my understanding, the tone of that book and his response paper to you are emphasizing things that they are observing as phenomenologists, not necessarily prescribing for missionaries to do as a strategy. I have not read his book on CPM’s, but “A Wind in the House” describes “movements to Christ” with certain quantitative data so that he can track how many “movements” there currently are, and so that the reader can understand what the term “movement” means. Isn’t this the same with CPM’s? Is not the IMB simply recognizing what God “is doing” in dozens of places?

    • Thanks for your comment. The main point of my article is simply that the Bible cannot be used as evidence for that CPMs are found in the Bible. In practice, when people claim various CPMs are often found in the Bible, the line between description and prescription gets increasingly blurry.