Meet Philadelphia’s New Cult Leader Pastor Gino Jennings
The label “cult” should not be thrown around flippantly. But when the slithering serpent of old, who long ago deceived Eve by his cunning, gathers professing to himself to carry their thoughts away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3), love demands us to call a spade “a spade”. And if Gino Jennings’ First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc. is anything, it is a cult. Here are three tell-tale signs that First Church has reached cult status.
First, it is egregiously man-centered. Although their leader intersperses “glory to God” throughout his ramblings, including at odd times, such as when he is graphically describing the death of an older man by heart attack while visiting a prostitute (1), First Church is the farthest thing imaginable from being God-centered. One need only visit the front page of the cult’s website to notice how glaringly man-centered it is. Across from “TruthOfGod.com” we find the name of a man—Gino Jennings—surrounded by no less than six titles. This is no ordinary pastor. This is “Apostle, Pastor, Leader, Teacher, Guide, and General Overseer”, elsewhere “Prophet”—Gino Jennings. First Church is gathered around—centered around—the personality of an entertaining uber-confident MAN.
Second, it judaizes the gospel. It is the Galatian heresy repackaged for 21st Century “black” people who are fed up with the abject worldliness they see in many “black” churches (quotation marks because there is actually no such thing as “black” and “white” people, let alone churches, Colossians 3:11). Jennings lambasts “snakes like Jakes” (referring to TD Jakes) and money grabbers like Creflo Dollar on a regular basis. Trouble is…Jennings’ path to “holiness” is not the antidote to the carnal antinomianism of these megachurch pastors. It is poison of the opposite variety—legalism. Jennings rejects salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. As if Acts 15 and the book of Galatians were never written, Jennings (2) moves baptism (and not just baptism, but a certain formula for baptism—only in Jesus’ name) out of order in God’s order of salvation (Acts 10:44-48). Similarly, he makes speaking in tongues a requirement for salvation, contra Romans 3:21-26, let alone 1 Corinthians 12:10&30. The Judaizers added just one thing, saying “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). Jennings adds two things—baptism and tongues—so how much more does he fall under the Galatians 1 anathema?
Third, Jennings preaches a different god. This is not surprising. 2 Corinthians 11:4 tells us to watch out for “a different gospel”, which Jennings clearly has, so why would he not have “another Jesus” and “a different spirit”, as false prophets often do? Other cult leaders—Marcion, Sabellius, Arius, Joseph Smith—have done it before. Why not now? Gino Jennings’ particular variety of heresy is modalism. He asserts the oneness of God’s Being, and as far as that goes, he does well (Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29). But Jennings would rob God of His ability to be ontologically different from created things (Isaiah 40:25). Jennings disallows three co-eternal co-equal persons to exist in the one Being—the one Essence—of God. As if God need be fashioned after the conceptions of an overconfident manJennings rejects the Biblical presentation of God and collapses all distinctions between the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, leaving Jesus praying to Himself in the Garden (Luke 22:42) and sending “another Comforter” (John 14:16) who is none other than Himself! Jennings rejects the Biblical presentation of God and collapses all distinctions between the persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, leaving Jesus praying to Himself in the Garden (Luke 22:42) and sending “another Comforter” (John 14:16) who is none other than Himself!
Jennings probably doesn’t understand what the doctrine of the Trinity actually is, because his efforts to refute it don’t even address what we teach. But he nevertheless espouses Sabellianism with his characteristic confidence. He preaches a gospel that cannot save, because when you add works to grace, grace is no longer grace (Romans 11:6). And as so many cults do, this one centers around the personality of its founder. So, mark Gino Jennings as a false prophet and First Church as a cult. I challenged the Apostle, Pastor, Leader, Teacher, Guide, General Overseer, Prophet of this cult to a public moderated debate (Acts 15:2). For the sake of the truth of God, I hope he accepts the challenge.