During the 2012 election, the New Religious Right (NRR) held prayer vigils all throughout the United States. Their rallying cry: “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
There is nothing wrong with Christians gathering together to pray for a common cause. There is nothing wrong with asking God to return our country to biblical principles for the simple reason that those of us who profess Christ believe that there’s something diabolical going on, and our country is in the grip of evil. The way we see it, spiritual forces of wickedness have invaded virtually every aspect of society. And this reality is what drives us to our knees to plead with God to intervene on our behalf. As the election drew close, we appealed to the Creator to spare us from an administration that aims to transform America into a socialist utopia.
Even though large groups of conservatives from many religious systems joined together and prayed their brains out, God did not spare America.
What struck me as odd is that many professing Christians met in large groups to pray with people that reject the God of the Bible even knowing that those from other religious faiths do not pray to the God of Christianity. So the purpose for praying with unbelievers is….?
Now consider this. The Bible teaches that anyone who is not born again is not indwelled by the Holy Spirit. I tackled this subject in “Are you praying to the only true God”:
Scripture speaks of God the Holy Spirit residing within all who believe in the Son of God. The Spirit guides, instructs and empowers believers. (John 14:16-17) As well, the “Spirit of truth” confirms everything about Jesus. (John 15:26) The unregenerate (unsaved) person is not Spirit filled. God does not hear anyone’s prayer unless it is put into words by the Holy Spirit. So if we want our prayers to be heard and answered we must pray to the right God. (Source)
Paul drives home the point in 1 Timothy 2:5:
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
As mediator, Jesus Christ stands between God and men to reconcile man to God. According to Scripture, God does not hear the prayers of the unrepentant sinner. “Sin had made a quarrel between us and God; Jesus Christ is the Mediator who makes peace.”
Returning to the election, Albert Mohler believes it was a “catastrophe” and a “disaster” for evangelicals. He said in a New York Times interview:
It’s not that our message—we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong—didn’t get out. It did get out. It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed. An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.
Perhaps the NRR leaders should put their priorities in order and do what the Bible commands. First and foremost followers of Jesus Christ must share the Good News of the Gospel with the lost. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Mark 16:15) We may defeat the evils of our day through political means and we may change laws. But unless man’s sinful heart is changed, evil will persist.
We must also oppose the evolutionary secularist worldview. Many pro-family groups have been in the trenches for decades, fighting to “take back America for God.” It has been an up-hill battle — and expensive to boot. But let’s be honest; in spite of all our efforts and the money we’ve poured into winning the culture war, liberals are winning!
After months of pleading with God to oust Obama, we’re now asking, “Why did God allow his re-election?”
In a word: Judgment.
So with that in mind, the question we should be asking ourselves is, “Why is God judging America?”
Again, in a word: Sin.
When I was a child and disobeyed my parents I got a spanking. But before the boom was lowered I’d cry out, “Don’t spank me! I’ll be good, I promise!” All the pleading in the world did not work with my parents. They’d give me a licking because I deserved one.
Well, America is getting a licking because we deserve one. It would seem that God has closed his ears to our pleas and stale promises. We the Peeps have not repented of our sins and turned from our wicked ways. In fact, most Americans could care less what God thinks of their lascivious behavior. So for now, at least, God will allow us to continue wallowing in filth.
I believe one of the reasons God has turned us over to a reprobate mind, to do what should not be done (Rom. 1:28) is that, like the world, the visible Church is awash in sin. A whole host of self-professed Christians are deep in sin simply because they have no clear understanding of what God deems sinful — and they have no desire to find out!
Satan uses syncretism to separate God from His people. Religious syncretism is the blending of differing systems of belief. “Syncretism relies on the whim of man, not the standard of Scripture.” Syncretism in Protestantism occurred when elements of other religious beliefs were integrated into mainstream denominations. So, what’s the big deal?
The big deal is blending historic Christianity with other philosophies! Listen to Deuteronomy 12:29-31:
When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
The LORD was not kidding around.
Syncretism slithered into the Church through liberalism. But well intended evangelical conservatives who make up a large part of pro-family groups are also responsible. In their desperation to “bring America back to God” groups such as the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, Americans for Working Families, Wall Builders, Traditional Values Coalition, Liberty Council and Concerned Women for America reached out to a slew of controversial Christians (false teachers), including men and women in theological cults! And they’re routinely invited to participate in spiritual and political endeavors — even prayer rallies!
Over the years religious renegades have shared the platform with GOP candidates, congressmen, entertainers, heads of pro-family groups, and other conservative superstars. Now, I’m not saying that people on stage with renegades share their beliefs; what I’m saying is that when highly regarded leaders unite with heretics and cultists, the public sees it as an endorsement!
“If the New Religious Right were truly committed first and foremost to sound biblical theology and doctrine,” says Brannon Howse, “they would not be involved in spiritual enterprises with those who participate in the New Age Movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, ecumenicalism, globalism, communitarianism, the Church of Rome, the Word of Faith movement, social justice, and the social gospel.”
As Brannon rightly pointed out, the Word of Faith movement is not committed to sound biblical doctrine. What they teach is heretical!
Here CRI exposes word-faith teaching:
God created man in “God’s class,” as “little gods,” with the potential to exercise what they refer to as the “God-kind of faith” in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. Of course, we forfeited this opportunity by rebelling against God in the Garden and taking upon ourselves Satan’s nature. To correct this situation, Jesus Christ became a man, died spiritually (thus taking upon Himself Satan’s nature), went to hell, was “born again,” rose from the dead with God’s nature again, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be what they call “little gods.” Since we’re called to experience this kind of life now, we should be successful in virtually every area of our lives. To be in debt, then, or be sick, or (as is even taught by the faith teachers) to be left by one’s spouse, simply means that you don’t have enough faith — or you have some secret sin in your life, because if you didn’t, you would be able to handle all of these problems.
In every instance, the “Word-Faith” teaching is guilty of presenting an inflated view of man and a deflated view of God, thereby compromising God’s message as revealed in the Bible. This fast-growing movement has disastrous implications and, in fact, reduces Jesus Christ to a means to an end — when in fact he is the end. If the New Age Movement is the greatest threat to the church from without, “positive confession” may well be its greatest threat from within. (Online source)
Another movement mentioned by Brannon Howse is the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The NAR, aka dominionists, hold that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle. The leaders fancy themselves modern-day apostles and prophets and believe they have the same gifts as the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles. In a piece I wrote entitled “Dominionists are on the move…and they mean business” I brought to light some of their unbiblical beliefs:
The NAR/dominionist’s goal is to transform society into the kingdom of God on earth. How? By controlling various aspects of society. The term they use is the “Seven Mountains,” or “Seven Spheres” of society. The Seven Mountains are: 1) Arts and Entertainment; 2) Business/Economy; 3) Education; 4) Family; 5) Government; 6) Media; 7) Religion. The NAR holds that as they accomplish ridding the world of evil, things will get better and better and then Jesus Christ will return to set up His kingdom.
The goals of the CR [Christian Right] and the NAR seem like a good idea, right? I mean, who could argue with wanting to influence the seven spheres of society that are dominated by secular humanists. Christians are not wrong in desiring to have a society based on Judeo-Christian principles. But here’s the problem. This “mandate” the NAR mob subscribes to did not come from the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 18:36 Jesus made it clear: “My kingdom is not of this world.”
However, dominionists never let a little thing like what Jesus said get in the way of their lofty goals. One of the most troubling aspects of their “theology” is the unbiblical teaching on spiritual warfare. They believe they have a kingdom mandate to do “strategic-level spiritual warfare” which is “a popular charismatic method of casting out demons from geographical locations or territories. It identifies three levels of demonic control on earth. Firstly, are “Ground-Level” demons, which possess people. Secondly, “Occult-Level” demons empower witches, shamans, magicians. Finally, “Strategic-Level” demons which are the most powerful of the three, are said to rule over certain regions or territories. Their main purpose is to hinder people from coming to Christ.”
Hence, dominionists go hither and yon to do strategic-level spiritual warfare to tear down demonic strongholds established by Satan and his demons. This is not local; it’s global. (Source)
The fact of the matter is that the word-faith/positive confession movement and the NAR have many of the same heretical beliefs. In Matthew 7:15-17, Jesus warned:
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. … Therefore by their fruits you shall know them.
In Ephesians 5:11 Paul tells us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” We are not only to expose them, we are to call them what they are – evil! We have many examples in the Bible of name calling. For example, in Matthew 23 Jesus called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and “whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones.” He called these same men serpents and a brood of vipers, looked them squarely in the face and said, “how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?”
But instead of exposing unfruitful works of darkness as we are commanded to do, New Religious Right leaders, many of whom profess Christ, organize prayer events with them!
So – did God hear those prayers? Consider who He hears according to Scripture and draw your own conclusion.
New Apostolic Reformation articles—On Solid Rock Resources
Televangelists & Word of Faith Movement—On Solid Rock Resources
Are you praying to the only true God? By Marsha West
Liberals created the culture of evil and death, part 2 By Marsha West
How the Religious Right Assisted in the Re-Election of President Obama And Are Hastening God’s Judgment of America By Brannon Howse
Is it possible for a Christian to know God’s will and not have to agonize over it? Should a believer make a decision without first spending hours in prayer, asking God to reveal His will? Must a Christian avoid making a decision until he or she has a “peace about it”? What about waiting for a “sign” from God? Is it okay for a Christian to consult a psychic or a Ouija board to seek God’s guidance?
A married couple, John and Tina, is faced with a dilemma. They would like to move to Colorado to be closer to John’s family. They’ve been praying about it, asking God to show them His will. Their decision must be made before the end of the week, yet they’re still not sure what God wants them to do — should they stay or should they go?
Naturally John and Tina are confused and frustrated. John is leaning toward moving because he knows it will be good for the kids to live close to their grandparents. He’s even getting excited about it. Not Tina! She wants to wait for a “confirmation,” from God before they pull up stakes and move half way across the country.
John and Tina are in the proverbial pickle.
Many Christians talk about finding God’s will as though it were some deep dark secret, hidden away in the pages of Scripture. Maybe God doesn’t want us to find it.
Where does the Bible teach that God tries to hide His will from us?
Tina and John believe their heavenly Father loves them, yet they’ve decided that He’s hiding His will from them. Maybe God likes playing hide and seek.
Most good parents want what’s best for their children, right? So does it make sense that God would want to hide His will from those He loves? If Tina and John really believe He’s a loving Father, why are they clinging to the ridiculous notion that He wants to keep them in the dark?
If you search the New Testament you’ll find no explicit command to “Find God’s will.” Read through the book of Acts and you’ll see what I mean. The Apostles were given no clear instructions on how they were to discern God’s will. No prayer ritual. No magic formulas. Nothing!
Christians shouldn’t waste their time searching for a magic formula that will cause the Almighty to reveal His will. Since God forbids pagan divination, dabbling in the magic arts is risky business. Yet professed Christians are using eastern meditative techniques hoping to gain secret information that God has not chosen to reveal. Followers of Jesus Christ should never seek supernatural powers. God has determined the means by which we come to Him in prayer–and He set certain boundaries! Try to imagine, if you will, Christians determining the boundaries for themselves. There would be no limits whatsoever!
Some Christians push the limits to the brink. Mystics like Brennan Manning and Richard Foster believe God can be found within through achieving an altered state of consciousness. Individuals involved in contemplative prayer commune with God through meditation and yoga. By using these techniques they’re able to reach stillness, thus opening themselves to new experiences within, and receiving illumination. Gary Gilley offers this insight into what Christian mystics believe:
“[T]he mystic has no confidence in human knowledge accessible through normal means such as the propositional revelation of God (Scripture). If we are to know God, it must come from a mystical union with Him that transcends the rational thought process or even normal sensory experience. This takes place through following the three stages of purgation, illumination and union; implementing the spiritual disciplines and most importantly, practicing contemplative prayer.” (Source)
Contemplatives admit that the means they use to commune with God can be dangerous as it invites demon oppression. And for those who are not Christians, it invites demon possession! In Acts 8 we learn that Simon (the sorcerer) Magus was severely rebuked by Peter for seeking supernatural powers. Christ himself criticized the “perverse generation” that always asks for a sign from God.
Looking for signs through coincidences, or flipping through the Bible and placing a finger on a verse, or relying on the first thought to enter your mind after a prayer, are forms of Christian divination.
In order for Christians to mature in their faith they must read and study Scripture, meditate on it (this does not mean eastern meditation), then put its principles into practice. We must put our Bibles before all the other books we’re reading. It’s the only book that has God’s direct message to His people.
“I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word — Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law–Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors — I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws…Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight” (Psalm 119:16-35 KJV).
An important aspect of reading the Bible is knowing how to interpret Scripture correctly. Paul said to Timothy, “[T]he things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. … 15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim 2 & 15). We must seek accurate interpretations–and correctly handle the word of truth! That way we will not only know what the words say, but the intended meaning of the words. Christian apologist Greg Koukl makes this point: “Private interpretations do not yield accurate meaning–there is a particular truth–a determinate meaning–God intends to convey. Individual, personalized interpretations that distort this meaning only bring danger.”
Stay out of the danger zone! Applying esoteric meanings to Scripture is irresponsible. Anyone who distorts God’s Word does so “to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16).
I haven’t forgotten about John and Tina. Why haven’t they received an answer from God on the Colorado question? A simple yes or no will do. They’re not expecting God to appear to them in a burning bush or through thunder and lightning as He did with Saul. Why the silence?
We may think God intends to reveal His plan — but what if He chooses not to? What if He has no intention of sharing His plan with us? Part of God’s plan for Job’s life was to allow ghastly things to happen to him. What if Job had known in advance about the losses he would suffer, the pain he would have to endure? The man would never have left his tent! God’s plan for Job was that he should suffer more than any man. God never told Job about His plan. And he never found out why he was made to suffer.
God still speaks to us today–but not through a burning bush! He speaks to us through the pages of Scripture. If we read and study the Bible what we’ll discover is that His will for us is not hidden. In fact, it’s crystal clear. So why do so many believers agonize over it? I’ll answer this burning question (pun intended) in a moment. But first, is it possible for a Christian to know God’s will and not have to agonize over it? Should a Christian (a) make a decision without first spending hours in prayer, asking God to reveal His will? (b) avoid making a decision until he or she has a “peace about it”? (c) wait for a “sign” from God? (d) consult a psychic or a Ouija board to seek God’s guidance?
Pastor and Bible expositor John MacArthur reminds us that:
“The will of God is not meant to be a secret we must uncover. God wants us to understand His will far more than we want to understand it. He always makes His will clear to those who seek it with an obedient heart. Most of the real problem areas in the question of God’s will are settled for us in Scripture.”
What does Scripture tell us about seeking God’s will for our lives? According to noted Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke:
“There are no examples of explicitly seeking or finding God’s will after Acts 1:24-26, in which the disciples drew lots to select Matthias as a replacement for Judas. There are dreams, visions, and revelations after this, but never in the context of explicitly seeking God’s will. From this point onward it is not divination (seeking to probe the divine mind) but revelation given by God to His people. After Pentecost there is no instance of the church seeking God’s will through any of the forms of divination? The problem of using divination today is that the techniques Christians use, like promise boxes and seeking signs are not examples offered to those living under the New Covenant. So when a believer is told to “not take a job until you have God’s mind,” I think he may be led astray. His faulty logic and faulty exegesis cause him to believe in divination, but there is no such biblical example to follow for Christians.” (Source: Knowing the Will of God By Bruce Waltke, with Jerry MacGregor Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene OR.)
Nowhere in the New Testament does God tell His followers to “seek his will.” Christians are commanded to seek His kingdom and do His will.
The means God used to reveal His will before Pentecost is not normative for the church today. According to Waltke, “God does not administer His church in the same way He administered old Israel. He administered old Israel by the Mosaic Law, but we are no longer administered by that law. He administers us by the Spirit, not the Law, and this changed at Pentecost.”
God operates differently today because we are under grace, not under the Law. (Romans 6:14). Born again Christians are controlled by the Spirit of God. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we know how to tell right from wrong. Hebrews 8:10 says, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”
God speaks to us through the pages of Scripture. “For all our talk about sola Scriptura,” says Greg Koukl, “many also hold that God speaks to them on a regular basis giving true information about Himself and specific directions for their lives. Their claim is, essentially, ‘I believe the Bible is a bona fide source of information and the Spirit also gives private information directly to me.’ The second step frequently follows the first: The personal, subjective sense of what a person thinks God is telling him trumps the objective Scripture.”
Koukl makes an important point. Should what we hear in our mind take precedence over what Scripture says? Christians will often toss out the phrase, “God told me” that they should do this or that. Or “I felt led,” or “I sensed that God wanted me to___” You fill in the blank. Televangelists, who pretend to have a direct pipeline to God, prance around in front of the TV camera, claiming to hear a “word from the Lord.” At the risk of sounding divisive, most televangelists teach outright heresy (I can prove it), so why would God speak to them at all? Frauds should not expect to hear from God; they should expect to be rebuked by God. But I digress.
Now for an example of divining God’s will. Loretta wanted to change jobs so she prayed for guidance. When God didn’t answer immediately she experienced doubts and anxiety. Maybe she should stay at her current job. After being in limbo for a week, someone mentioned a company that was hiring and thought Loretta would be the perfect candidate. A sign from God, perhaps? Loretta applied and landed an interview. The interview went well and she knew it would be a good fit. Loretta really wanted the job, yet she felt uncertain about accepting it, as she still hadn’t heard from God. Frustrated, Loretta decided to lay out a fleece. If the company offered her the job, with a raise in salary to boot, she’d know for certain it was God’s will. Eventually the company extended an offer, which included an increase in salary–and a private office! There was no doubt in her mind that God had spoken. The fact that she had gotten everything she prayed about–and more–was the confirmation she was waiting for. Loretta also felt a peace about it.
Loretta believed she had received a confirmation from God, and she felt a peace about it, yet in the end she turned down the job. The reason? The 30-minute commute didn’t appeal to her. Does Loretta’s decision mean she’s out of God’s will? Was Loretta ever in God’s will? It’s obvious that Loretta’s a very confused individual.
I used the job illustration to show the lack of maturity in the Church. Loretta’s behavior is not uncommon–it’s become the norm! How is it that God’s people will blithely cast Truth aside and pursue occult techniques to find the Father’s will–or to have a—“deeper experience” with Him? “The customs of the people are worthless,” warned the prophet Jeremiah. Worthless? Wow. With this in mind, why are professed Christians immersing themselves in cultural customs and cleverly crafted gimmicks and paying no heed to Scripture? Perhaps these “Christians” have a said faith, and not a real faith. Truth hurts.
Today important life decisions are made based on subjective experiences instead of God’s trustworthy precepts found in His Word. Greg Koukl asks, “Does Scripture give us the liberty to assign the authority of divine fiat to our subjective experiences?” He answers, “Nowhere does the Bible give us that liberty. It does not enjoin us to assess our feelings and then judge whether they are a manifestation of the voice of God or not.”
Can we even trust our feelings?
“The question is not whether or not Jesus lives in our hearts in the person of the Holy Spirit. Having believed, we’ve been sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. We’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit. He indwells us. He convicts us of sin. He teaches us. The Holy Spirit regenerates us, washing us in the blood of Christ. He comforts us in difficult times. He confirms in our hearts that we are children of God. The Holy Spirit is in and through every part of our lives, and He ought to be. All of this is specifically taught in the Bible.
“The question is not whether there is a Holy Spirit, or whether that Holy Spirit indwells us, or whether that Holy Spirit does things for us or to us in an experiential, subjective way. All of those things are the case.
“The question is actually two-fold: Is it enough for Christians to simply say, ‘You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart. I have the confirmation of a subjective experience. I feel Jesus?’ The answer is no, it is not enough to say that–[T]he New Ager feels Jesus–Lots of people feel Jesus. They have psychological certainty that they’re children of God and that they’re right with God.” (Source)
Many Christians fall into the same trap as the cults and New Agers. Their trust is placed in subjective experiences rather than the objective Truth of Scripture. For cultural Christians, it’s not about knowing God; it’s about experiencing God. For many believers, feelings and experiences are what matters most. Forget about reading the Bible. Excuse my bluntness, but that’s just plain dumb! How will Christians be able to discern truth from fiction if they’re biblically illiterate? The answer comes from an article I wrote on spiritual discernment, Got Meat?:
“A thorough study of the Bible will equip the believer with understanding and wisdom that leads to maturity. Christians who don’t take time to study are unable to differentiate between God’s purpose and desire for their lives from their own aspirations.”
Which brings me to the burning question, “What does Scripture tell us about seeking God’s will for our lives?” John MacArthur tackled this in Plan of my Life: God’s Will. It is God’s will for all of us to be:
Sanctified – 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7
Saying thanks to God – 1 Thessalonians. 5:18
“If all those things are true in your life,” declares MacArthur, “you may do whatever you want. Psalm 37:4 says, ‘Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.’ That means that if you are conforming to God’s will in all the five ways listed above, He will place in your heart desires that reflect His will. So do what you want to do!”
There you have it. The six qualifications for knowing the will of God are first and foremost a person must be saved. What follows is the infilling of the Spirit, sanctification (being made holy) submission to Christ’s Lordship (emptying ourselves), suffering that glorifies God. When we do these things we are demonstrating that we genuinely love God. Thus, God will give us the desires of our hearts.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1, 2).
By far the biggest obstacle the Church faces is the infiltration of ubiquitous, aggressive liberals, many of whom are renowned pastors, authors, conference speakers, missionaries, televangelists, radio hosts, and CEOs of Christian organizations. As of late, even some of our most beloved evangelical leaders appear to be morphing into theological liberals. The extent of movement to liberal ideology varies with each individual, but in certain cases they have gone completely off the rails. False doctrine abounds in books, Bible studies and Bibles authored by notable Christians and promoted by so-called Christian publishers and book sellers. We have been duly warned about this sort of thing happening:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (1 Tim. 4:1).
That, brothers and sisters, is a pretty severe warning!
To give readers a sense of what kind of person to be on the lookout for let me introduce one of the most dangerous wolves in Christendom, the Rev. Jim Wallis. This man wears many hats. He is the founder of Sojourner’s Magazine, speaker, author and activist. He’s also President Obama’s “spiritual advisor.” This alone speaks volumes. Rev. Wallis insists that he’s an evangelical Christian even though he has abandoned thebiblical gospel for the “social gospel.” He believes he’s on a mission from God to assist the poor and oppressed to bring forth the Kingdom of God on earth.
David Noebel sheds light on some of the good reverend’s activities:
Wallis’ Sojourners enterprise has been a radical, socialistic undertaking from the start. Frontpage Magazine (March 17, 2009) says, “As one of its first acts, Sojourners formed a commune in the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Southern Columbia Heights, where members shared their finances and participated in various activist campaigns that centered on attacking the U.S. foreign policy, denouncing American ‘imperialism,’ and extolling Marxist revolutionary movements in the Third World.”(Source)
Jim Wallis is also a champion of unbiblical movements such as the Emergent Church, Spiritual Formation (contemplative prayer/mysticism) and what he refers to as “spirituality.” Here is his view of prayer:
I pray, but there are many understandings about prayer. For many, prayer is talking to God, sometimes a great list of requests and needs—sort of like a child’s Christmas list mailed to Santa Claus. But at least for me, prayer is becoming a time of listening rather than talking. There is so much noise in our world and our lives (much of our own making); prayer becomes a quiet space that enables us to stop talking long enough to see what God might be trying to say to us.
The disciplines of prayer, silence, and contemplation as practiced by the monastics and mystics are precisely that—stopping the noise, slowing down, and becoming still so that God can break through all our activity and noise to speak to us. Prayer serves to put all parts of our lives in God’s presence, reminding us how holy our humanity really is. (The Great Awakening: Seven Ways To Change The World, 290) (Source)
Wallis is promoting unbiblical contemplative/centering prayer.
On homosexuality he believes:
[T]he major differences of theology and biblical interpretation in the church with regard to issues such as the nature of homosexuality, gay marriage, and ordination are not issues that should be allowed to divide the churches – that local churches should lead the way here, and that an honest, open, respectful, and, hopefully, loving dialogue should characterize the church on these very controversial questions.(Source)
Issues which are clearly unbiblical, such as the sin of homosexuality, should not be allowed to divide us? Really?
Are professing followers of Jesus Christ supposed to ignore the Bible’s explicit teaching on marriage, one man and one woman for life, so that men can marry men? Should we really go against what God says in His Word regarding His plan for sexuality and marriage and adopt a “pro-gay” theology to accommodate a small group of gays and lesbians? The answer is “May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, ‘That Thou mightiest be justified in Thy words, And mightiest prevail when Thou art judged.’” (Romans 3:4)
Going against God is folly! (For the biblical view of homosexuality read Answering the Gay Christian Position)
Even though Wallis is a Red-Letter Christian and a Wild Goose chaser, he poses as an evangelical. Sadly, he and his ilk have many starry-eyed, misguided followers who, like most liberals, wish to farm out their obligations to the tax payers.
Liberals such as Jim Wallis dub themselves “progressive Christians” and more recently “social justice Christians” (SJC). Social justice has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? But hold your horses! SJC has its roots in communism and has the same aim: The common good.
Sounds magnanimous, doesn’t it? Don’t be fooled! What these people are striving for is government transfer of wealth from one group of citizens to another to level the playing field. Some liberals use Genesis 4:9 “I am my brother’s keeper” to make their case. Leftist hypocrites have no problem quoting Scripture to defend wealth redistribution, but when conservative Christians quote Scripture to defend their opposition to abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and so forth they cry foul!
In an essay entitled “A Biblical View of Social Justice,” John Wheaton writes:
[I]t is essential that Christians clearly define what social justice entails. On its face, the term has a positive connotation that conveys a seemingly strong sense of virtue and morality. Basing a claim on an appeal to “social justice” provides the claim holder with a degree of persuasive advantage – a kind of moral blessing on his or her political, theological, or social ideas. However, social justice involves much more than a superficial label or feelings of compassion. It must involve a clear understanding and delineation of each social problem, the root cause of the problem, and the best solution for the problem. In short, “Good justice requires good judgment.”(Source)
For SJCs, Christianity is a lifestyle. Their morality comes, not from Scripture, but from popular opinion. Although they believe that some things in the scriptures are true, the Bible doesn’t hold a place of authority in their lives. As one blogger put it, “the emphasis is more on growth thru the process of work and serving others.” In other words, a person must have faith plus he/she must do good “works” in order to be saved. This teaching is demonstrably unbiblical. ”For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8, 9) (Bold added)
Many SJCs are Darwinian evolutionists, environmental extremists (save the planet, not souls), and they think nothing of co-mingling Christianity with paganism gleaned largely from Eastern mysticism. They are supposedly Christians, yet many of them support abortion, the normalization of homosexuality, and same-sex “marriage.” What is most telling is their denial of basic biblical doctrines such as the inerrancy of Scripture; the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ as God’s judgment for sin; Hell; and Jesus Christ as the only way to God and instead hold to collective salvation – all roads lead to God (religious pluralism).
What it all boils down to is that many SJCs are cultural Christians. They are not regenerate (born again) believers. In fact, they are hostile to the true gospel. Moreover, their goal is the redefinition of traditional Christianity.
Liberal wolves are spreading a false gospel or what Peter called “damnable heresies.” (2 Peter 2:1–2) In a word, evil.
WOLVES IN THE HEN HOUSE
Purpose-Driven aka Seeker Sensitive/Seeker-driven/Radicalis (Pragmatism)
Some of the most prominent players are Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Perry Nobel, Steven Furtick, Ed Young, Jr., Ed Stetzer, Craig Groeschel, and Kerry Shook.
Individuals like Brian McLaren, Marcus Borg, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Leonard Sweet, Brennon Manning, Eugene Peterson, Donald Miller, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Ken Wilbur, Tony Campolo, Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Frank Viola, Laurie Beth Jones, Ruth Haley Barton, Shane Claiborn, Shane Hipps, Spencer Burke, and Jay Bakker hang their hats here. The Leadership Network has played a pivotal role in the Emerging Church movement. So have Catholic mystics. Be aware of Meister Eckhart, Ignatius of Loyola, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, William Meninger and Basil Pennington.
New Apostolic Reformation aka Kingdom Now/Latter Rain/Elijah’s List/Joel’s Army/International House of Prayer (Gnosticism)
Some of the movers and shakers are Kenneth Hagin, William Branham, C. Peter Wagner, Doris Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, Rick Joyner, Dutch Sheets, John Arnott, Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, Bill Hamon, John Eckhardt, Lew Engle, Che Ahn, John Benefiel, Bill Johnson, Jack Deere, Ed Silvoso, Lance Wallnau, Todd Bentley, Samuel Rodriguez, Harry Jackson, Steve Shultz, Patricia King, Alice Smith, Kim Clement and Reinhard Bonnke.
Word of Faith aka Prosperity/Health and Wealth/Name-it-and-claim-it (What you believe you can achieve)
Leaders in this heretical movement are Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Pat Robertson, John Hagee, James Robison, Paula White, Jan and Paul Crouch, Ken and Gloria Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, Robert Morris, Creflo Dollar, Fred Price, John Avanzini, Eddie Long, Jim Bakker, Robert Tilton, Jentezen Franklin, and Jesse Duplantis.
Off the reservation
In this group are luminaries such as “possibility thinker” Robert Schuller, so-called Christian historian David Barton, Southern Baptist Bible teacher Beth Moore, influential pastors like James MacDonald, Tim Keller,Max Lucado, Jim Garlow, David Jeremiah and formerly Emergent now Reformed Pastor Mark Driscoll.
Become A Better You by Joel Osteen
The Shack by William P. Young
The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn
Love Wins by Rob Bell
Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick
A New Kind of Christianity by Brian McLaren
Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson
SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT…ON THE WANE
Spiritual discernment is almost becoming nonexistent in the visible Church. So – what exactly is spiritual discernment? Pastor and Bible expositor John MacArthur defines it thusly:
In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically.
First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning: “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” The apostle John issues a similar warning when he says, “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). According to the New Testament, discernment is not optional for the believer-it is required.
The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one’s ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living-a certain recipe for compromise. (Source)
In an article entitled Got Meat? I offered some advice on how to avoid the pitfalls of compromise:
[It is] important to learn what someone really believes about God. A discerning Christian will pick up on the deception. Always find out what a professing Christian believes about Jesus. Is He the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, as orthodox Christians believe? Is He the Son of God? The Savior of the world? If someone’s view of God is radically different from what the Bible teaches, that person is not a Christian!
Had followers of Jesus Christ exercised spiritual discernment, perhaps what my friend Ken Silva refers to as the apostasy-palooza would never have gotten a foothold in the Church — and the wolves in sheep’s clothing would be considerably less threatening to the Body of Christ than they are today.
I’ll close with this reminder:
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20: 31)
Religious Trojan Horse—By Brannon Howse
Worldview Weekend Training—Brannon HowseJim Wallis: Obama’s “Red” Spiritual Adviser—By David NoebelLiberals changing word meanings with intent to deceive—By Marsha West
Two former employees of the world’s largest Christian television channel Trinity Broadcasting Network are accusing the non-profit of spending $50 million of its funding on extravagant personal expenses.
Among purchases, the network founded by Televangelists Paul and Jan Crouch, is accused of misappropriating its ‘charitable assets’ toward a $50 million jet, 13 mansions and a $100,000-mobile home for Mrs Crouch’s dogs.
Their granddaughter, Brittany Koper, 26, recently filed her allegations in court after a brief appointment as the network’s chief finance director in July.
Accused: Brittany Koper, center, recently filed a suit accusing the Trinity Broadcasting Network, its founders Janice Crouch (left) and Paul Crouch Sr (far right), in squandering $50 million of its funding
She claims she was fired in September after discovering the ‘illegal financial schemes’ according to the lawsuit obtained by the Los Angeles Times, and consequently reporting them to Mr Crouch.
Her lawsuit follows a second by another former employee and Koper in-law, Joseph McVeigh, the uncle of Mrs Koper’s husband, Michael Koper, who detailed the opulent spending by the Christian network.
According to Mr McVeigh’s accounts filed in his lawsuit, the network used their collections for side-by-side mansions in Florida, as well as in Texas, Tennessee and California.
The network’s $50 million luxury jet was purchased through a sham loan while Mrs Crouch’s personal jet, a Hawker, totalled $8 million, according to his suit.
Dog house: Mrs Koper claims she was fired after reporting financial irregularities in their spending which according to one of two suits filed accuses Mrs Crouch of spending $100,000 on a mobile home for her dogs
The 13 properties listed in the suit were also referred to as ‘guest homes’ or ‘church parsonages’ while their directors also received $300,000 to $500,000 in meal expenses, as well as the use of chauffeurs.
The suit also accuses the network of using funds to cover up sex scandals according to the Times’ review of the suit.
- $100,000-mobile home for Mrs Crouch’s dogs
- $50 million luxury jet purchased through a sham loan
- $8 million personal Hawker jet for Mrs Crouch
- 13 properties listed in the suit as ‘guest homes’ or ‘church parsonages’ in Florida, Texas, Tennessee and California
- $300,000 to $500,000 meal expenses for network directors, as well as the use of chauffeurs
In a reverse lawsuit filed by debt-collection company Redemption Strategies last year, the Kopers have been accused of forging documents to obtain items such as several vehicles, jewelry, a boat, motorcycle, and life insurance. The debt collection company was registered with the state by a TBN attorney one day before it filed suit against Mr Koper.
They accuse Mr McVeigh of also receiving thousands of dollars from the non-profit without their authorization.
That lawsuit against Mr McVeigh and Mr Koper was later dropped by the court, but not before Mrs Koper and two in-laws were added as defendants.
Mrs Koper countersued, alleging that TBN’s attorneys formed Redemption Strategies to retaliate against her for whistleblowing.
Her suit doesn’t list TBN as a defendant, but it alleges that Mrs Koper was fired and made to turn over her house, condominium, life insurance policy, car, furniture and jewelry as ‘an act of Christian contrition’ when she complained about the financial misdeeds at TBN.
In the similar suit filed by Mr McVeigh, he alleges that TBN attorneys also targeted him as part of a campaign of retaliation for his reporting of their lavish spending.
TBN attorney Colby May called the McVeigh’s lawsuit a ‘tabloid filing’ and said the allegations in both cases were ‘utterly and completely contrived.’ TBN suspects McVeigh, who claims he received a $65,000 loan from the family empire, was working with the Kopers to steal money from the ministry, Mr May said.
Attacks: The family feud could draw further scrutiny of TBN after its previous trouble with allegations of a homosexual encounter by Mr Crouch and a five-year battle with the FCC
The network’s spending is in line with its mission to spread the gospel throughout the world, Mr May said, and the Crouches travel by private jet because they have had ‘scores of death threats, more than the president of the United States.’
The ministry keeps large amounts of cash in reserve because incurring debt goes against the Biblical exhortation to ‘owe no man any thing,’ he said.
‘The answer is, there is no fire there,’ Mr May said. ‘They pay as they go and every now and then one of the things that they pay as they go on is the acquisition of a broadcast facility and that’s a multi-million dollar transaction.’
The outbreak of legal skirmish offers a rare window into the secretive world of the sprawling religious non-profit and exposes a family feud that could draw more outside scrutiny of TBN. Attorneys from both sides say they have contacted police and the Internal Revenue Service.
Growth: The network, whose headquarters is pictured, is seen on every continent but Antarctica 24 hours a day, seven days a week, raking in $92 million in donations in 2010 and $175 million in tax-free revenue
The Crouches founded TBN in 1973 and grew it into an international Christian empire that beams prosperity gospel programming — which promises that if the faithful sacrifice for their belief, God will reward them with material wealth — to every continent but Antarctica 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It has 78 satellites and more than 18,000 television and cable affiliates and owns seven other networks, as well as its headquarters in Costa Mesa in Orange County, an estate outside Nashville called Trinity Music City, USA and the Holy Land Experience, a Christian amusement park in Orlando.
On any given day — or night — viewers from the United States to India can watch Christian-inspired news updates, documentaries, movies, talk shows and sermons by preachers such as Benny Hinn, T.D. Jakes and Dr. Creflo Dollar without leaving their armchairs.
Expenditures: Additional claims detail the purchase of two jets at a cost of $50 million and $8 million each, and 13 mansions across the U.S. reported as ‘guest homes’ or ‘church parsonages’
The lawsuit attention comes at a bad time for TBN, which has seen viewer donations drop steeply.
TBN raked in $92 million in donations in 2010 and cleared $175 million in tax-free revenue, but its net income plummeted from nearly $60 million in 2006 to a loss of $18 million in 2010, the most recent year available. Donations fell by nearly $30 million in the same period — a hit the network blames on the bad economy.
At the same time, Mrs Koper’s father — the eldest Crouch son — resigned abruptly as vice president and chief-of-staff late last year. The unexplained departure of Paul Crouch Jr. roughly coincided with his daughter’s legal battle and came just months after he launched iTBN, a project to expand the network’s online and mobile reach.
TBN places a premium on privacy and it’s almost impossible to divine what is going on behind the scenes. Yet televangelist empires built largely on charisma often encounter choppy waters as their founding personalities age.
Needs: The attorney for Mrs Crouch, seen shielded by security in New York, said the Crouches travel by private jet because they have had scores of death threats, more than the president of the United States
‘It’s true that in these large ministries, they do become family enterprises … and in many ways that can be a most precarious problem for them,’ said David E. Harrell, a professor emeritus of American religion at Auburn University, who has written about well-known televangelists. ‘Business squabbles, if they’re complicated with family squabbles, can get nasty indeed.’
Mr May dismissed the idea of family turmoil and said the reason behind the legal fight was simple: Mrs Koper and her husband stole from the network.
‘They’re attempting to create a diversion and to create as much public spectacle as they can in the vain hope that this will all get resolved and that’s simply not going to happen,’ he said.
TBN’s reach and programming are expansive, but what is more impressive is the amount of money it receives from viewers — even in a downturn.
Sex scandals: The suit also accuses the network, whose headquarters is pictured from the roadside, of using funds to cover up additional sex scandals according to the Los Angeles Times’ review of the suit
During TBN’s Praise-A-Thon earlier this month, a preacher exhorted viewers to bellow ‘Fear not!’ three times, count down from 10 and then rush to the phone with donations. In exchange, he said, they would receive a miracle from God ‘about this time tomorrow.’ Within seconds, all 200 phone lines were busy.
Ministry watchdogs have long questioned how TBN — which declared more than $800 million in net assets in 2010 — spends that wealth.
TBN files reports with the IRS, but the Crouches run nearly two dozen other organizations that are harder to track and they operate extensively overseas, said Rusty Leonard, who founded Wall Watchers, an organization that monitors the financial transparency of church ministries to which its members donate.
Wall Watchers gives TBN an ‘F’ for financial transparency and keeps them on its list of the 30 worst ministries.
Lawsuits: In a reverse lawsuit filed against Mrs Koper and her husband, they have been accused of forging documents to steal from the network themselves, whose Texas location is shown, but that case was dropped by the court
‘They could run a loss like the one they ran last year for an awfully long time before they would run out of money,’ Mr Leonard said. ‘They’re basically taking money from old people and putting it in their pocket and living the high life.’
TBN is no stranger to outside scrutiny.
In 1998, the elder Crouch secretly paid an accuser $425,000 to keep quiet about allegations of a homosexual encounter. Crouch Sr. has consistently denied the allegations, which were first reported by the Los Angeles Times, and has said he settled only to avoid a costly and embarrassing trial.
In 2000, after a five-year battle, a federal appeals court overturned a ruling by the FCC that found Mr Crouch had created a ‘sham’ minority company to get around limits on the number of TV stations he could own.
With their termination from the network, both Mr MacLeod and Mrs Koper plan to file a wrongful-termination suit according to the Times.
Source: Mail Online
“The gospel’s most dangerous earthly adversaries are not raving atheists who stand outside the door shouting threats and insults. They are church leaders who cultivate a gentle, friendly, pious demeanor but hack away at the foundations of faith under the guise of keeping in step with a changing world.” – Phil Johnson
“Do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead even expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11)
There is a spiritual battle of epic proportions going on in churches all over the globe that should drive serious Christians to their knees. A whole host of aberrant to downright heretical movements have slithered into contemporary evangelicalism and more are being added to the mix virtually every day.
Unbiblical teaching is rampant in mainline Protestant denominations as well as in non-denominational churches. Inside our churches you will find men and women teaching rank heresy. Sunday after Sunday people flock to churches and become a captive audience to those who preach outlandish lies and half-truths. Televangelists are the worst offenders! Many of them are money grubbing charlatans! As a result of false teachers and cult leaders gaining worldwide access to churches and Christian ministries over these past few decades to spread their false doctrines, evangelical Christianity is experiencing a downward spiral.
The good news is: “Upon this rock I will build my church,” said the Lord Jesus Christ, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18).
Matthew Henry stated that “Christ himself is the Rock, the tried foundation of the church; and woe to him that attempts to lay any other!”
Triple “woe” goes to the wolves that have infiltrated evangelicalism and show a startling disregard for the major tenets of the faith.
Speaking of wolves, somewhere around 45,000 people attend Lakewood Church each Sunday to hear Pastor –celebrity Joel Osteen preach the word-faith prosperity gospel “lite.” The Lakewood services are broadcast in over 100 countries. Gary Gilley reveals that:
Osteen has no theological training and it is obvious from his books, sermons and interviews on television that he has little knowledge of the Scripture. Nevertheless, he has caught an unprecedented wave of popularity and could clearly claim the title as the most admired pastor in America.
Osteen brags that he teaches a non-confrontational gospel. He believes:
There’s a lot of negativity in the world. We need somebody to bring us hope and somebody to tell us that we can overcome our past and break free from addictions and things like that. And, you know, our whole message is that Jesus came to help us live a great life. And some people are not going to agree with that. (Online source)
I for one disagree with Joel’s statement that Jesus wanted us to live a “great life.” Tell that to the persecuted church! Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world,” so for many the “great life” Osteen speaks of will not be experienced here on earth, but in the Kingdom of God. The reason Jesus came to earth was to set the captives free! Free from what? Free from sin and death! Why? We are dead in our sins. And by the way, sin is an odious thing – and the God of the Bible is infinitely holy and righteous. (Isaiah 6:3, Rev. 4:8, 2 Thess. 1:6)
Sin makes us unclean, thus the unredeemed are not permitted in the presence of holiness. How do people get clean? By believing in Jesus! Believe that He came to earth to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. When He died on the cross our debt was paid for – in full. He died once, for all. Only believers will spend eternity in heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Contrary to popular belief there is no way to have a relationship with the One true God unless we believe that we are sinners in need of Savior, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23) God says sinners must be punished, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
This is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly, this is not the gospel people hear from Joel Osteen and countless other word-faith prosperity preachers.
The intent of this article is not to fully examine the Word of Faith Movement (WF), but to give readers a glimpse into their beliefs. At the end of this piece are links to articles and videos of a few prominent word-faith teachers. It’s important to take the time to watch these so called teachers and preachers in action.
Following is a summary of WF teaching:
God created man in “God’s class,” as “little gods,” with the potential to exercise what they refer to as the “God-kind of faith” in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. Of course, we forfeited this opportunity by rebelling against God in the Garden and taking upon ourselves Satan’s nature. To correct this situation, Jesus Christ became a man, died spiritually (thus taking upon Himself Satan’s nature), went to hell, was “born again,” rose from the dead with God’s nature again, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be what they call “little gods.” Since we’re called to experience this kind of life now, we should be successful in virtually every area of our lives. To be in debt, then, or be sick, or (as is even taught by the faith teachers) to be left by one’s spouse, simply means that you don’t have enough faith — or you have some secret sin in your life, because if you didn’t, you would be able to handle all of these problems.
In every instance, the “Word-Faith” teaching is guilty of presenting an inflated view of man and a deflated view of God, thereby compromising God’s message as revealed in the Bible. This fast-growing movement has disastrous implications and, in fact, reduces Jesus Christ to a means to an end — when in fact he is the end. If the New Age Movement is the greatest threat to the church from without, “positive confession” may well be it’s greatest threat from within. (Online source)
The WF is considered a metaphysical cult. Pastor/teacher John MacArthur calls it Satanic. WF holds that faith is a tangible force. This force is released through the spoken word, hence name-it-and-claim-it. When we speak words of faith, power is discharged that will accomplish our desires. Through faith we can have health, wealth, success – anything we want!
As I previously stated, word-faith teaching ranges from aberrant to outright heretical. As such these people must be exposed. “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:13-14).
It is imperative that serious Christians recognize word-faith teaching. Therefore I’m including Beyond Grace’s Word Faith Top Ten which is an abbreviated version of an article Tricia Tillin wrote: Top Ten Reasons for rejecting Word-of-Faith doctrine.
It requires ‘revelation knowledge’.
It makes the Almighty God and Creator a weak ‘faith-being’ who is at the mercy of His own universal laws.
It makes the Divine Son of God into a born-again man who had to die in Hell to pay the price for our treason.
It elevates man to equality with Jesus.
It makes man a god.
It makes the redemption into a restoration of dominion for mankind.
Its goal is the transformation of the earth by spiritual dominion.
It replaces prayer with confession, and God’s will with the manipulation of ‘forces’.
It denies the reality of sin and sickness.
It focuses on self and the world instead of God and Heaven. (Tillin’s article expands on these ten points)
To avoid being taken in by false teachers and cult leaders Christians must have some knowledge of heretical movements such as the word-faith/prosperity gospel/name-it-and-claim-it. Another movement that is steeped in word-faith theology that’s taking the Church by storm is the New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism aka Latter Rain/Kingdom Theology/Kingdom Now/Charismatic Renewal/Third Wave/Joel’s Army/Manifest(ed) Sons of God. Read about this dangerous movement here.
Most false teachers and cultists do not take the opposition’s rebuke or criticism lying down. In part 4 of a piece I wrote titled Doublespeak: The Language of Deception I explained how words are often used as a club against anyone who reports on the aberrant teaching of those who have “Christian rock star” status:
…Conservative Christian apologists and those involved in the counter cult and discernment ministries who dare to expose apostates are accused of being divisive. For example, if a conservative attempts to combat the spread of the social justice gospel that emphasizes good deeds without the power of the gospel, their liberal critics cry “Pharisee!” Implying that these critics are Pharisees is another way of saying that they are narrow-minded, mean-spirited and unloving — and yes, even intolerant and bigoted.
Word Faith (false) teachers use “heresy hunter” to define the opposition. But in reality discernment ministries are “truth-seekers.”
What is heresy and what is a heresy hunter? According to Let Us Reason Ministries:
“Heresy can be defined as any departure from Christian orthodoxy which is a teaching, doctrine or practice that goes beyond the apostles teachings — the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3). Biblical heresy is often a denial of the core beliefs held in the Church that are founded on the Bible. In this sense it applies to groups which reject basic Christian doctrines and separate themselves from the historic church.”
Most mature Christians recognize heresy when it rears its ugly head. But when they speak out against prominent false teachers who are leading the Body of Christ astray, their bamboozled followers invariably play the Matthew 7:1 card:
“Judge not, lest you be judged.”
This is doublespeak for: Shut the heck up!
First of all, discernment demands that we make judgments. As my pastor, Stan Way, said in a recent sermon, faithful Christians live their lives in a new center of gravity – the biblical worldview. Serious Christians must stand up and speak the truth with conviction and courage. We must be willing to lose our life for Christ and the gospel. In other words, for truth! Further, we must be willing to be treated with contempt by the world. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
So – I am going to name names. The list of popular word-faith teachers numbers in the hundreds. Following are the names of a few of these who have risen to a more prominent status:
Kenneth Hagin, E. W. Kenyon, Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller, Paula White, Paul and Jan Crouch, Robert Tilton, Paul Yonggi Cho, Jentezen Franklin, Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Fred Price, John Avanzini, Charles Capps, Jerry Savelle, Morris Cerullo, Juanita Bynum, Rod Parsley, Ed Young, Eddie Long, Rodney Howard Brown, Joseph Prince, Kim Clement, Cindy Trimm, and John Hagee.
As I have indicated in this piece there are things going on in the Church that are deeply disturbing. And for this reason it is imperative that Christians have no fear of exposing those who “hack away at the foundations of faith.” We really have no choice, the reason being that the Bible commands the Body of Christ to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
Recommended videos and articles:
Articles on Word of Faith/Televangelists – On Solid Rock Resources
Articles on the New Apostolic Reformation – On Solid Rock Resources
“Bishop” T.D. Jakes
Read: Benny Hinn
I have written several articles voicing concern over the Christian Right (CR) uniting with leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) for the purpose of fighting the culture war. Other Christian bloggers are concerned as well and have been asking valid questions, such as why the CR chooses to involve themselves with these fringe groups. As of this date we’re still in the dark. So I’ll toss out the question again: Why do Christian leaders, pastors, and luminaries choose to unite with what Jesus referred to as “ravenous wolves”?
In my article series The Religious Right uniting with Religious Renegades I expressed alarm over some or our Christian leader’s decision to attend Gov. Rick Perry’s The Response: A call to prayer. Many evangelicals were distressed that respected leaders would be standing shoulder to shoulder with folks who are associated with fringe groups such as the New Apostolic Reformation(NAR), the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and the Word of Faith (WoF). These groups hold many of the same unbiblical beliefs such as “positive confession.”
“‘Positive Confession’, a movement that came to popular acclaim through supposedly good fruit such as healing, has revealed its true nature as something more like a cult, with extremes of belief that bring the Name of the Lord into disrepute. The roots of Word of Faith doctrine are firmly planted in the soil of the metaphysical cults.” (Cross + Word, 1997)
For several weeks before The Response many CR leaders who weren’t on board with the rally warned their brothers and sisters who were endorsing it that if they went to Perry’s prayer rally they’d be joining forces with false teachers and heretics. But their warnings went unheeded by many. A case in point would seem to be Joel Rosenberg.
On August 5, Joel posted his reasons for attending The Response (here). He later posted a glowing report of his experience (here). From where I stand it appears he chose to shut his ears to friends and fans that urged him not to lend his good name to an event that included IHOP-Kansas City on the leadership team. Here’s what Joel wrote on his blog:
“The Response” was no ordinary prayer meeting. Personally, I’ve never been to anything like it, and I was blessed by every minute of it. There were no political speeches. No entrance fees. No offering. No fund-raising
About those who urged him not to participate he said:
Some evangelicals were critical of “The Response.” They urged people not to attend because they have serious and fundamental theological differences with some of those involved in the event. A few emailed me and urged me not to participate. I heard those concerns and I have strong disagreements with some of the participants, too. But the truth is the vast majority of organizers and participants of this prayer meeting were theologically, morally and ethically solid evangelical, Bible believing followers of Jesus Christ. They included some trusted friends and allies that I have worked with over the years like Dr. James Dobson and Shirley Dobson, Vonette Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Pastor Greg Matte of Houston’s First Baptist, Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, among others. Such men and women see the grave crises facing our country. They believe and faithfully teach that the Bible offers the only answers. Together with the governor of an important state, they called the country to pray based on the Scriptures. And many — including the media — paid attention.
Three things. (1) A large number of organizers and endorsers were NAR/IHOP leaders. (2) Bible believing follower of Jesus Christ Tony Perkins has partnered with the NAR in the past (see links below). Tony knows how dangerous these groups are so why does he continue to partner with them? (3) The AFA sponsored and organized the rally so most likely Bible believing follower of Jesus Christ Don Wildmon chose the leadership team. Don knew well in advance that some were apostate IHOP-KC leaders. Is Wildmon (and other Bible believing followers of Jesus Christ in AFA’s leadership) so results oriented that it doesn’t matter to them who they unite with as long as they get the results they want? Another question for AFA is: Do some of its leaders share the NAR’s unbiblical Dominionist beliefs?
Last year Joel Rosenberg was invited to speak at the 2010 Break Forth Canada Conference and promoted the conference positively on his blog. He shared a platform with those in the contemplative/emerging/new spirituality camp including New Age sympathizer and Emergent guru Leonard Sweet and universalist William P. Young. When people wrote to voice their distress over his involvement in the conference, here’s how Joel responded:
The reason I am attending is because it is the largest Christian conference in Canada (some 15,000 are expected to attend), I believe the Holy Spirit wanted me to accept the invitation, and I’m not ready to concede such ground to those who are peddling false teaching. I’ve been asked to come and teach the Word of God and preach the gospel and that’s what I intend to do. I can’t explain why Young, for example, was invited. But why cede the entire stage to him? Moreover, at this critical juncture, I hope to explain why the God of the Bible loves Israel so much and why He wants us to help mobilize a global movement of true believers to stand with Israel while so much of the rest of the world turns against her. Thanks for your concerns. I would appreciate your prayers. God bless you. (Online source)
The Holy Spirit wanted him to accept the invitation? That doesn’t seem very likely in light of what the Bible says:
But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’ table, and of the table of devils. (I Corinthians 10:20-21)
Please understand that I’m not picking on Joel Rosenberg. To be fair, he’s not alone. Many Christians share a platform with men and women they have theological differences with. I’ve singled Joel out because the reasons he gave for doing it don’t really stand up. It stands to reason that if he’s invited to “teach and preach the gospel” the other speakers are invited for the same reason. At the Canada conference attendees were exposed to Sweet’s and Young’s heresy! Moreover, they were exposed to a false gospel.
In a previous article I pointed out that some of The Response organizers and participants were also involved in the May Day 2010: A cry to God for a Nation in Distress put on by NAR “prophet” Cindy Jacobs of General’s International. James Dobson promoted the event and recorded an audio message encouraging people to attend. Several CR leaders who attended both prayer rallies have been guests on Mormon Glenn Beck’s radio and TV broadcast. Glenn’s guests have included Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, mega church Pastor Jim Garlow, David Barton of Wall Builders, televangelist James Robison (he didn’t attend The Response), even Joel Rosenberg. Rev. John Hagee was one of the only pastors to pray solo at The Response. Hagee chose Glenn Beck as a keynote speaker for “A Night to Honor Israel.” CR leader Gary Bauer, President of Our American Values and a board member of Hagee’s Christians United for Israel, also spoke. For readers who are unfamiliar with Rev. Hagee, he’s the founder and pastor of San Antonio-based Cornerstone Church which is one of America’s largest WoF churches (prosperity gospel, name it and claim it). According to G. Richard Fisher, Hagee is a false teacher:
[C]areful evaluation of the teachings of Hagee…reveals false teaching and a defective view of a basic and essential issue regarding salvation and the Gospel. Hagee preaches another way of salvation for the Jew, which is in direct violation of Paul’s warnings in Galatians 1:6-9. (Online source)
Some of you are probably thinking, “Hagee’s books line the shelves of Christian bookstores and sell like hotcakes so he must be a solid Christian.”
It ain’t necessarily so:
“How a book sells is not an indication of its merit. The American public has a seemingly bottomless appetite for nonsense, as evidenced by the countless tomes about astrology, aliens from outer space, quack diets, and UFOs that have regularly graced best-seller lists over the years. Some books that sold millions have later been exposed as hoaxes. A slot on the best-seller list tells you exactly one thing about a book: that a lot of people bought it.” (Online source)
The point I’m making is that even discerning Christians are finding it difficult to ferret out true believers from those that have a very different agenda.
I have one final question for CR leaders: Do you not know that:
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 9-11) (Bold mine)
The NAR’s aberrant doctrines and beliefs are causing division in the Church. In Romans 16:17-18, Paul writes,
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (See also Philippians 3:17-19).
CR leaders must be obedient to God’s Word and stop uniting with those who are deceiving the hearts of the simple and do as Paul says: Mark them!
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from a 1988 message given by the late Dr. Walter Martin Warning of the Word Faith Movement’s teaching to the church:
Jesus said there will come men who will speak claiming their authority is from me…There will come men who will speak in my Name. That is, I am supposedly saying this to you – that’s a very important phrase! They are going to come and say I’m speaking to you in my Name, they will work miracles in my Name, they will cast out devils…they will prophesy and preach. But when I meet them I will say, leave me, I never knew you, workers of iniquity!
Why? Because they use His authority and His Name because the power was in Jesus’ Name, or in Jesus’ authority, not in them. And God honored the Name of His Son. And they took that as a means of teaching their own false doctrines and false prophecies and because of that they corrupted the faith of the church. But inwardly, spiritually, they really roooaaar! And if you don’t know fleece from fur, you’re dinner, dumb dumb. And the only way you can know fleece from fur is to know how to test them. And you don’t test them by Walter Martin or by Norman Geisler, as good as the apologist and defenders of Christianity might be and as much as you trust them. You don’t test them by other people. You test them by Scripture. Then if your fidelity is the Scripture, and your allegiance is the Scripture, you reject them! But, says Paul, in the last days men are going to be drawn away by false teachers and prophets in the Church speaking in the Name of Jesus and you’re not going to test them. You’re going to go along with them. And they’re gonna fragment and divide the Church because you won’t test them. Well, it’s about time we test them. (Note: For clarity I took the liberty of making a few changes. The original quote is onLet Us Reason Ministries.)
The New Apostolic Reformation article links—On Solid Rock Resources
Word of Faith article links—On Solid Resources
Former IHOP Member Explains Why IHOP (International House of Prayer) Is A Cult–Sola Sisters website, posted by Christine Pack
The Devil’s Algebra (False teaching and the real Gospel of Jesus Christ)—Jacob Prasch, Morial Ministries
The Religious Right’s Modern Day Spartan Army–Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council talks with NAR “Apostle” Rick Joyner
America Needs Godly Leaders–Tony Perkins of FRC talks with televangelist James Robison
Having previously written a piece on The Response voicing my legitimate concerns over Gov. Rick Perry’s August 6th prayer event that was held at Reliant Stadium, now that all is said and done I’ll respond to what I watched via the live streaming on their website.
As the camera panned a sea of people with their arms outstretched to heaven, many of them with tear-stained faces singing praises to God, my eyes well up and I was moved. There is something about that Name…
Christians go to big events expecting to hear a Christian band playing praise and worship music. It breaks down barriers, draws the crowd together and pulls them out of their chairs and onto their feet. The right kind of music puts people in a worshipful mood. Did you know that the steady beat in conjunction with word repetition…Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…can put individuals into an altered state of consciousness? But that’s an article for another time.
The band played mostly contemporary music and also some old hymns. I knew the words so I sang along! Hearing the Name Above all Names booming through the air is a wonderful way to start the day.
For close to 3 hours I was glued to my computer screen. Quite honestly, I was both moved and infuriated.
I’ve stated before that I believe it’s good for Christian groups gathering together to fast and pray for America and to repent of our egregious sins against God. Praying is what Christians do. Through prayer and Bible reading we are able to connect with God. Because our nation is in dire straits we need to call on God for His help in putting our Humpty Dumpty nation back together again. We serve a loving, gracious God. We have the hope that our prayers will be answered.
I believe Gov. Perry’s call for prayer and fasting was a good idea. Not many politicians would stick their necks out like he did. He got pummeled by the liberal press, even worse by the far-left loons. And he stood his ground.
Gov. Perry had invited 49 governors. Only Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback attended. He joined Gov. Perry on stage and said a brief prayer. Florida Gov. Rick Scott participated via a videotaped message. Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert was also there.
It warmed my heart to see thousands of Americans join together to pray, fast, weep and mourn for the country they love. Every ethnic background and all generations, from the very young to the very old, came up on stage to pray. Time and time again Scripture was cited. Some repented for the “shedding of innocent blood” of 50 million babies who have died as a result of Roe v. Wade. People prayed for our awesome military. They prayed for the state of Israel too.
The best part by far was hearing a multitude of voices lift up the precious Name of Jesus.
So, what went wrong? Gov. Perry made an unfortunate decision when he chose his leadership team.
“Apostle” Doug Stringer of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) cult hosted the event so he was on stage all day. Seeing Stringer in the limelight was my first clue that the American Family Association (AFA), the pro-family group that sponsored the event, had made the decision to ignore the pleading of Christians who urged them not to unite with false teachers. I was one who pleaded with them. (Read my piece here)
Doug Stringer seemed like the perfect choice to host the event. He’s articulate, has a soothing voice, his prayers are fluid and heartfelt, and he demonstrated that he is more than capable of handling a microphone! From all appearances Doug is a “godly man” who has a passion for God. What I’m leading up to will no doubt shock some of you. This so-called apostle is up to his eyeballs in a cult. Any person who shares the beliefs of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), as Stringer does, is a false teacher. Anyone who shares the beliefs of the Word of Faith (WoF) movement is a false teacher. Anyone who stands on a platform with false teachers, as some of the most respected Christians in America did, ignores what God says in Scripture:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (rebuke) them.” (Eph 5:11)
In 2 Tim 3:5 Paul explains that some men have a form of godliness, but they deny the power of God. He admonishes Timothy to turn away from such men.
Gov. Perry and other politicians along with many in the Christian Right (CR) did not turn away from false teachers; instead they invited these men and women to break bread with them. CR leaders were warned that they were uniting with cultists, but instead of turning away they received them. And then they publicly embraced them, even prayed with them.
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 9-11) (Bold mine)
Let me give you the Cliff Notes version of the NAR’s warped theology that is being introduced through the back door of many evangelical churches:
Advocates believe they are equal with Jesus Christ and have the same power that Jesus had.
They believe they receive extra-biblical revelations from God apart from Scripture and they are able to rewrite doctrine with “new understanding.”
They are modern day prophets and apostles and claim that the biblical ministry of an apostle has been forgotten so God has called them to restore it.
They are “Super Apostles” second only to God.
They believe the church is a theocracy not a democracy and the government of the church must be under the leadership of restored “apostles.”
They believe “all people, nations, and demonic principalities must submit to these so-called apostles and prophets, who will lead God’s end-times army in establishing His kingdom on earth.”
They believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit—who was the source of all of Jesus’ power when He was here on earth– they can perform miracles even greater than Jesus performed because they have access to the same power source, the Holy Spirit.
They’ve been commanded by God to “take dominion” over certain spheres of influence. They call this the Seven Mountain mandate. These mountains of influence are (1) Arts and Entertainment; (2) Business/Economy; (3) Education; (4) Family; (5) Government; (6) Media; (7) Religion.
According to NAR czar C. Peter Wagner,
We can pray for all these mountains with power because we have that power that Jesus had and it’s up to us to be in a place where we’re open to release that power of the Holy Spirit so that His name will be know and that His kingdom will advance.(Online source)
Did you get that? Wagner believes born again Christians have the same power that Jesus had.
No! First off, the Holy Spirit is a not a personal power source and God’s people are not Energizer Bunnies! Secondly, the Holy Spirit cannot be manipulated. Thirdly, if we have the same power that Jesus had, why are true believers unable to walk on water? Why can’t we stop a tornado in its tracks? Why are God’s people unsuccessful at bringing our dead loved ones back to life? Jesus performed miracles with a wave of a hand. He also used words, but very few. “Lazarus,” He commanded, “come forth!” Lazarus, who had been dead 4 days, instantly obeyed the Voice and came out of the tomb. (John 11:43) I for one would like to see Peter Wagner or Cindy Jacobs or Rick Joyner or Todd Bentley perform the same kinds of miracles Jesus did.
Listen to what Mark Vrankovich says about these people:
[T]hese Super Apostles do not follow Paul’s example. They are rigorous self-promoters who see power and wealth as important goals. They demand that you cede (to yield typically by treaty) to their authority. Church members must sign “covenants” stating that they will obey the church leadership. Church leaders themselves must “submit” their lives to the Super Apostles. To not submit is to rebel against God’s will and condemn you to a barren Christian life outside the protection of the Super Apostles magical “umbrella of authority”. (Online source)
Calling them heretics does not qualify as an argument, which is the reason I cited a small portion of their heretical beliefs. (Read more about the NAR/Dominionism here)
What does the WoF movement believe? Faith is a force. Our words are the containers of our faith or fear. Through faith we can create our own reality. Pastor Gary Gilley explains that supporters of this movement believe that faith works like a mighty power or force. Through faith we can obtain anything we want — health, wealth, success, whatever. However, this force is only released through the spoken word. As we speak the words of faith, power is discharged to accomplish our desires. (Bold by author)
Later in his article Gilley says of faith teacher Kenneth Copeland,
Kenneth Copeland states the faith formula this way: “All it takes is 1) Seeing or visualizing whatever you need, whether physical or financial; 2) Staking your claim on Scripture; and 3) Speaking it into existence.”
Paul Yonggi Cho, borrowing from the occult, has developed what he calls the “Law of Incubation.” Here is how it works: “First make a clear-cut goal, then draw a mental picture, vivid and graphic, to visualize success. Then incubate it into reality, and finally speak it into existence through the creative power of the spoken word” (Online source)
As you can see, the NAR (Dominionist, Latter Rain, Manifest(ed) Sons of God) and the WoF (positive confession, name it and claim it) movements share many of the same beliefs. I don’t have the space to go into IHOP. What’s important to “get” is that it’s an outright cult and some of its members including, as I said above, the very pleasant host Doug Stringer, were on Rick Perry’s leadership team. Why? Only AFA, the group that sponsored the event and its founder Tim Wildmon, has the answer.
DANCING WITH WOLVES
Knowing what you now know about what these people believe, does it make sense that Gov. Perry, the AFA, CR leaders, pastors, ministry leaders, politicians and Christian luminaries would have anything to do with these wolves? I use wolves because that’s what the Bible calls false teachers. Wolves are ferocious creatures who stalk their prey before they pounce and devour it! This is how God views these people! They stalk and devour. They are cunning and crafty. This is why God’s people are to avoid them like the plague.
Not long ago I wrote a piece on prayer titled Are You Praying to the Only True God? I’ll close with this quote:
The scriptures speak of God the Holy Spirit residing within all who believe in the Son of God. The Spirit guides, instructs and empowers believers. (John 14:16-17) As well, the “Spirit of truth” confirms everything about Jesus. (John 15:26) The unregenerate (unsaved) person is not Spirit filled. God does not hear anyone’s prayer unless it is put into words by the Holy Spirit. So if we want our prayers to be heard and answered we must pray to the right God.
“This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
New Apostolic Reformation–On Solid Rock, links to articles
Word of Faith/Televangelists—On Solid Rock, links to articles
IHOP & the Latter Rain—Herescope
The prayer event I’m speaking of is The Response: a call to prayer for a nation in crisis. The cult Gov. Rick Perry has involved himself with is the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The NAR has dozens of offshoots and an assortment of names such as Dominionists, Latter Rain, Kansas City Prophets, Third Wave, Joel’s Army, Manifest(ed) Sons of God, Five-Fold Ministry, to name a few. Another offshoot, and the one I’ll deal with here, is the International House of Prayer (IHOP), a splinter group of the Kansas City Prophets. Confusing? You betcha!
I’m not alone in my view that much of the NAR and IHOP theology and doctrines are unbiblical, most conservative Bible scholars, apologists and pastors agree. According to Brannon Howse:
The Response…is being promoted as a time of prayer and repentance. However, how can Christians and Christian leadersgather together in a spiritual enterprise and a spiritual service, with individuals that embrace a theology and doctrine that teaches a different Jesus and a different gospel? I, and thousands of pastors and theologians, believe that the Word of God reveals that the teaching of the New Apostolic Reformation, (NAR) the Word of Faith movement and the prosperity gospel is completely unbiblical. (Online source)
The American Family Association (AFA) is sponsoring the event. AFA is part of the Religious Right a.k.a. the Christian Right (CR). Is the fact that cultists are involved just a slip up or a failure on the part of AFA to fact check? No. They know perfectly well who these people are and have decided to unite with them anyway.
So why would a so-called Christian group pal around with members of a Christian cult? In a word, pragmatism. This is the philosophy that “the end justifies the means.” In this case the end is getting people motivated to show up at a prayer rally. The NAR has the resources to accomplish this task because a large part of what they do is planning global prayer events. Although I have no way of validating how this project was conceived it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the NAR wanted to do a prayer event in Texas that included the governor so they presented the plan to the AFA and a partnership was created. Since it benefits politicians to have the support of the Religious Right, Perry also jumped on board. Another possibility is that AFA’s leadership has Dominionist leanings and they, feeling comfortable with this group, sponsored the event. Finally, it very well might be that the governor’s staff came up with the idea and presented it to the AFA, they liked the idea and agreed to sponsor it. Although it would be interesting to know how the idea for this event was conceived and how this group of organizers was put together, the fact remains that Gov. Perry and the CR are involved with cultists.
It’s not a stretch to say that most folks, including the governor, have never heard of the NAR or IHOP-KC, so it’s possible that at first he was unaware that cultists were on The Response leadership team. He knows now! And rumor has it that he might be backing away from the event. We shall see what happens on August 6th.
On the other hand, the AFA is not backing away. As of today AFA.net has a large advertisement on its website. But I’m getting ahead of myself. More on the AFA after I summarize the NAR’s beliefs.
Let there be no doubt that the NAR is a cultic movement within many Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. It stresses supernatural signs and wonders, prayer, and spiritual warfare. According to C. Peter Wagner, former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, church growth guru, and NAR author, the new apostolic churches, better than any I have previously studied, combine, on the highest level, solid technical principles of church growth with solid spiritual principles of church growth. (Online source)
The NAR believes that God is restoring the lost offices of Prophet and Apostle and that the modern-day apostles and prophets are gifted with the same gifts as the New Testament era Apostles. What do the apostles and prophets do? Wagner explains:
The apostles bring spiritual government to the pastors of the city so that the pastors of the city can do the job that God has given them in a much more effective way. The only thing is that the pastors of the city have to recognize the existence of apostles and be willing to acknowledge their governmental role. This hasn’t happened too much yet. (Online source)
Wagner said this over a decade ago. Today it is definitely happening… too much.
The NAR also believes God is giving them new revelation, thus they are able to rewrite Church doctrine. Moreover, these so-called apostles and prophets plan to aggressively ”retake the reins of our country” for Christ. They also hold that Jesus Christ cannot return until Christians subdue and rule the earth. You say, “that’s crazy! The Bible doesn’t teach that!” True….which makes one wonder how a savvy politician like Rick Perry—who’s considering a run for the presidency–got bushwhacked by a band of religious renegades.
That’s it in a nutshell. (For more on the NAR go to Recommended Reading.)
Returning to the AFA, what’s important to know is that it is a prominent Christian organization that has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war since 1977. How prominent? According to their website,
AFA is one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with over two million online supporters and approximately 180,000 paid subscribers to the AFA Journal, the ministry’s monthly magazine. In addition, AFA owns and operates nearly 200 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio (AFR) banner.
AFA is big. My reason for bringing attention to them is simple: Their supporters have a right to know if the AFA leadership shares the NAR’s unbiblical beliefs — or they’re simply deceived.
In my opinion the AFA’s leadership is anything but deceived. Whoever chose The Response leadership team knew perfectly well that they were choosing members of the IHOP-KC and I have good reason for believing this. Several weeks ago an article I wrote titled The Religious Right unites with Religious Renegades, Part 1 was featured on AFA’s blog Rightly Concerned. After 2 days my piece was pulled — with no explanation for several days. Why did they suddenly pull it? Because I connected the dots between the CR and the NAR. (Blogger David Brumley noticed that my article disappeared from AFA’s blog. He became curious and began digging to find out why. There’s not enough space to explain what he found. Read his report. You will find it very interesting.)
Christian discernment groups have been all over the Perry debacle. They’re rightly concerned that the NAR is a major player in the event and that their participation will give these wolves credibility, not only with people of faith but also with politicians. CR leaders must heed Christ’s warning:
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. (Mark 13:22).
In an effort to right the wrongs here I’m going to include the names (it’s biblical) of The Response leadership and endorsers. Some of them are high-profile Christian leaders, others not so much.
Buddy Smith—Executive VP
Luis & Jill Cataldo-Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP)
Randy & Kelly Bohlander-IHOP & Lou Engle’s The Call
Dave Sliker–The Call & The Elijah Revolution
Doug Stringer–NAR “Apostle”
James & Shirley Dobson
Richard Land–Director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Penny Nance—CEO Concerned Women for America
Tony Perkins—President of the Family Research Council
Tony Evans—President of the Urban Alternative
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez –President National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference / Hispanic Evangelical Association
Endorsers: (More here)
David Barton–President & Founder, WallBuilders
Jim Garlow—Senior Pastor Skyline Church
John Hagee—Cornerstone Church; John Hagee Ministries
Timothy Johnson–Founder and National Chairman, Fredrick Douglass Foundation
Max Lucado—Pastor, author, speaker
Kelly Shackelford–President and Chief Counsel, Liberty Institute
NAR Endorsers (includes “Apostles” and “Prophets”)
C. Peter Wagner—Presiding Apostle of the International Coalition of Apostles. (According to Herescope: “Wagner’s presence indicates the marshaling of forces of his Seven Mountains Army behind a potential presidential candidate.” Wagner and his wife’s names were recently removed from the list with no explanation)
Cindy Jacobs—General’s International
Mike Bickle—Director, International House of Prayer – Kansas City
Ché Ahn–Senior Pastor, Harvest Rock Church
John Benefiel—Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network
Laura Allred—Founder, Captured and Back to Life Movement
Nick Nilson–Youth & Young Adult Pastor, Lakewood Church (Joel Osteen’s church)
This is only a partial list. And the list is growing.
You’re probably wondering, Is something sinister going on behind the scenes?
According to Herescope:
This type of prayer is not about evangelism. It is about Dominionism. This movement has been going on for decades now, but it gained momentum and popularity under the auspices of C. Peter Wagner, who first articulated this agenda in numerous books on the topic. Wagner… began to experiment with novel forms of worship, including prayer, in the 1980s. Wagner says that his idea about prayer began to change when he was exposed to Paul Cain in 1988 and Cindy Jacobs in 1989. Paul Cain was a father figure in the “Kansas City Prophets” which formed the IHOP … movement. Cindy Jacobs has since become one of Wagner’s chief lieutenants in the global Dominion movement, particularly through the vehicle of prayer. (Online source)
The Response is not the only event where the CR and the NAR have joined forces. In my 3 part article on the CR uniting with the NAR, I took no joy in reporting that “prophet” Cindy Jacobs and General’s International held the May Day 2010: A Cry To God For A Nation In Distress at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial and that pro-family conservative Janet Porter of Faith2Action organized the event. Among the many promoters were James and Shirley Dobson. According to the Christian Post intercessors included Janet Porter, Tony Perkins, Jerry Newcombe, host and senior producer of “The Coral Ridge Hour,” the television outreach of the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, and Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. NAR leaders Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets and Chuck Pierce offered prayers of “Repentance for the Mountain of Religion” and for “The Church.” A large number of pro-family conservative leaders showed up for the prayer meeting.
Janet Porter is a huge supporter of Israel. On May 19, 2011 she ran a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal and in the Jerusalem Post on May 20th: Israel: You’re Not Alone. We Stand With You. Following are some of the signatures of CR leaders Porter gathered for her ad: Tim Wildmon, Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, Mathew Staver, Lou Sheldon, Bill McCartney and Judge Roy Moore. She also gathered signatures from NAR “apostles” and “prophets” Chuck Pierce, Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle and Che Ahn. Far be from me to criticize Janet for supporting Israel. I’m with her on this one. What troubles me is her ongoing friendship with wolves in sheep’s clothing.
There’s more. A number of prominent pastors and Christian leaders attended Televangelist James Robison’s Leadership Summit in September of 2010 and again in June of 2011. Robison conducted the gathering because he believes, there is an insidious attack on God, faith, family and freedom” and that God was planning on using this group of “national leaders to help inspire a spiritual awakening, a return to sanity and a restoration of freedom’s foundation. (Online source)
Robison’s blog provides visitors with a list of attendees along with those who encouraged and assisted in bringing about the gatherings. The list includes some of the leaders and endorsers of The Response such as AFA founder Don Wildmon, Tony Perkins, Jim Garlow, Richard Land and Tony Evans. Emergent Church guru Dallas Willard is also on the list. And there are several infamous televangelists. For example: Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and Rod Parsley. On the roll with prosperity preachers you find David Meyers (Summit Ministries), Jay Richards (Discovery Institute), Maggie Gallagher (National Organization for Marriage), Wayne Grudem (author and professor of Phoenix Seminary) and Rabbi Daniel Lapin (American Alliance of Jews and Christians). David Barton and Ravi Zacharais were on the list but their schedules did not permit their attendance. You’ll find the entire list here.
I have thrown out a number of names, events, and organizations in this article. My intent is not to confuse but rather to provide limited insight into how blurry the lines are becoming between true believers and cultists. I hope readers will do their homework and follow the links I’ve provided.
The serious Christian must ask oneself if it is prudent to support false teachers in an effort to “take back America.” You’ll find the answer in the Bible:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove (expose) them. (Eph 5:11)
Exposing unfruitful (worthless) works is not happening! What’s happening is that so-called Christian organizations are teaming up with outright heretics and unbelievers. What does the Bible say on this subject?
“Be ye not unequally yoked together (team up) with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14)
It seems many Christian leaders do not have an ounce of discernment. Here they are standing on platforms all across America in front of thousands of people calling for repentance when they’re the ones who need to repent for going against God by uniting with wolves in sheep’s clothing! Many in the discernment ministries have been warning the Religious Right about their alliances with those in false religions the cults. How do they respond? By thumbing their noses and continuing their march down the path to destruction.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, if you really want God to bless this nation His people need to start keeping His commands beginning with Jesus’ command to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost. He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:5)
Do you love Him? Then prove it.
New Apostolic Reformation—Email Brigade
Links to articles
Joel’s Army—By Jewel Grewe
The Latter Rain Revival Movement, Part 1—By Thomas Ice
The Formation of a Revolution—Herescope Blog
What is Dominionism? —By Sarah Leslie
IHOP’s New Breed Leaders—Herescope
Mike Bickle’s Gigolo Jesus—Herescope
The Ramp Exposed—Babylon Forsaken
You’ll find many names of false prophets on this site. Watch the video to see the NAR “apostles” and “prophets” gathered together for Todd Bentley’s commissioning ceremony.
The Shocking History of Spiritual Warfare—End Times Prophetic
This Islamic preacher is “out there.” No doubt about it. So is Christian preacher John Hagee.
Hagee promises his flock a Rapture that will beam them up to Heaven. But not just yet. First God’s Chosen People must recover Jerusalem.
Remind me: isn’t the status of Jerusalem THE most contentious and volatile issue in the entire Middle East?
Hagee is much loved by the Likud Party wing nuts that have never shown any desire for peace with an indigenous population that has been ethnically cleansed, imprisoned and provoked with impunity for six-plus decades.
Isn’t Hagee’s preaching an incitement to violence? Yet members of his flock can claim a tax deduction to support his inspired preaching. We call this freedom of religion
If the recovery of Jerusalem for The Chosen requires an Armageddon, so be it. That too is part of God’s plan. Hagee should know. He claims a direct line to Yahweh. Just ask him.
Even a nuclear holocaust would fit God’s Plan. Why? An Apocalypse would assure the reappearance of a long-dead prophet.
This End Days prophecy is routinely foretold on the public airwaves by this tax-subsidized televangelist. For The Faithful, he offers an inspiration that has a twisted logic behind it.
When The Chosen recover their God-Given real estate, God will smite all those who refuse to join Hagee’s flock. Or some Christian affiliate thereof.
And, yes, that includes The Chosen. Convert or die. That’s the Hagee-inspired, tax-subsidized version of Christianity.
Such smiting does not qualify as a Holocaust. Why? Because those smitten are only The Chosen who refuse to choose a conversion to this version of a Loving God.
By then Hagee’s True Believers will be safely enfolded in the post-Rapture embrace of a God that prefers Christians Above All.
What about The Smitten? It was their Choice as The Chosen not to Choose. That’s their problem in this Biblical version of Blue State vs. Red State politics in a post-Apocalypse world.
Democracy-meets-theocracy supported by freedom-of-religion tax subsidies that inspire both The Saved and The Smitten.
Light Unto the Darkness
This blend of Star Trek and the Old Testament lacks any basis in either fact or faith. But Never Mind. That’s the burden that befalls those inspired by such a vision.
Just keep on keeping on, faithfully secure that you will be on the side of The Chosen in the post-Apocalyptic era. Provided, of course, that you choose wisely.
For that, consult Reverend Hagee. And keep those tax-deductible donations flowing.
Why do U.S. taxpayers subsidize such preaching? Why are we now using our tax dollars to hunt down and kill Muslim preachers in faraway lands?
Were there not a consensus that Hagee’s preaching merits protectiion as religion, he would be consigned to a padded cell. Or described as a terrorist and a Christian Evil Doer.
But the immediate issue here is neither about sanity nor the freedom to inspire.
The issue is what conduct you inspire. Yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is a no-no. Unless, of course, there’s a fire. Yell “Apocalypse” and you may find yourself in one of those cells.
What about taxpayer subsidies for televangelists who preach a nuclear Apocalypse? Why subsidize such “inspiration” in the world’s most volatile region?
Is Hagee’s inspiration subsidized because it fits into a “Judeo-Christian” narrative? What if he were calling for an Apocalypse here instead of the faraway Middle East?
What is it about a U.S.-born Islamic cleric living in Yemen, the poorest Arab nation, that makes him such a danger to Americans’ interests in the Middle East?
Who benefits from his death? Why is he so problematic?
A Contract on the New Mexican
Barack Obama, a political product of the Chicago Outfit, reportedly approved this hit.
Who persuaded this former professor of Constitutional law that this was a good idea?
What is the rationale for this contract? All we know is what’s been reported to date.
But we also know this: FBI agents were actively monitoring at least three “incidents” by Muslim Evil Doers with whom this New Mexico native was in contact:
- The two San Diego hijackers who flew jets into the World Trade Center on 911.
- The Fort Hood shooter. See: Make the Real Terrorists Accountable, and The Christmas Day Crotch Bomber
And now we discover that he also “inspired” The Times Square Fizzler. Who knew?
Akin to an online Billy Graham for evangelical Muslims offering inspirational DVDs to his faithful flock, Mr. Awlaki appears uniquely capable of inspiring serial acts of “terrorism.”
But wait a minute. The facts confirm he advised and/or “inspired” four such incidents, including at least three incidents undertaken during FBI oversight of Awlaki.
How did the Times Square Fizzler make 16 trips to and from Pakistan with impunity? How did he show up in Manhattan to launch a high profile “incident” just as the United Nations began debate on a treaty to create a Middle East free of nuclear weapons? See: Israel Defense Official Defends Nuclear Ambiguity.
Imagine yourself seated in a darkened theater focused on a mystery thriller featuring a complex plot with several intricate subplots.
Then someone in your peripheral vision lights a fireworks sparkler. What happens to your attention? Then someone lights another. What then happens to your focus?
That’s why, in national security parlance, well-timed incidents are called “sparkle.”
Is it coincidence that Awlaki is found on the periphery of so many well-timed incidents? Why are federal law enforcement agents also found on the periphery?
Who benefits from having a Muslim cleric killed in a Muslim country by U.S. forces instead of apprehending him for questioning?
Kill him and watch this evidentiary trail vanish like the “dancing Israelis” who were spotted filming and celebrating the mass murder of 911.
For game theory war planners, a provocation is only the appetizer. The main course is the cascade of reactions that advance a narrative in support of a geopolitical agenda.
Provoked by 911, prodded by phony intelligence and duped yet again by a trusted ally, the U.S. reacted by invading Iraq, a nation now known to have no hand in that event. At last count, 1.3 million Iraqis are reportedly dead of war-related causes.
Rather than a nuclear-free Middle East, we’re now urged to invade Iran, the latest nuclear Evil Doer. Or is the next target now the Evil Doer Pakistan? How about Syria?
What’s been the reaction to our reaction to 911 among Muslims worldwide? Was our reaction modeled by game theory war planners? Are we that easily profiled? How much of the ongoing cascade of reactions-on-reactions-on-reactions could be modeled such that today’s outcomes became foreseeable—in the sense of being probable?
As Israeli war planners aptly say: “When the orchestra starts to play, we just hum along.”
What if the anticipated reactions fail to emerge on a timely basis? Are these Awlaki-inspired incidents “sparkle?”
Were they meant to distract attention and diffuse the focus required to press for an end to Israeli occupation of Palestine—including Jerusalem? Did the Times Square Fizzler further delay U.N. treaty—first proposed in 1995—that would force Israel to abandon its nuclear arsenal?
If we experience a nuclear “incident,” does it now appear more “plausibly” the work of Muslim Evil Doers? Iranians? Pakistanis? Syrians?
Or will it be the work of Israeli provocateurs?
Advancing the Narrative
Anwar al-Awlaki has the gift of gab. There’s no dispute about that. Raised in New Mexico and steeped in the Koran, his fiery rhetoric combines fluency in both pop culture and theology.
What radicalized him? What personal experiences transformed him from a glib Islamic cleric to a U.S.-bashing Muslim Evil Doer?
How about 18 months in a Yemeni prison, most of that sentence served in solitary confinement?
That alone might not suffice to turn him against his native country—unless his confinement was traceable to an American official.
Remember John Negroponte? He first emerged on the global scene as an overseer of death squads in Central America during the mid-1980s as part of the Reagan administration.
Regarded as a mass murderer by those knowledgeable in that volatile region, he reemerged in February 2005 when Secretary of State Colin Powell was dispatched to the United Nations. With Negroponte seated behind him, Powell’s credibility as a former general was associated with intelligence falsely alleging Iraq’s possession of mobile biological weapons.
Such “associative” psy-ops are business-as-usual for those skilled at displacing facts with what a targeted populace can be deceived to believe. Displacement is an essential component when waging Information Age warfare. See: Guilt By Association.
When watching Powell’s performance (he now concedes he was duped), television viewers saw over his right shoulder CIA Director George Tenet. The intelligence operative that no one could see behind Tenet was Paul Joyal, his chief of staff who boasts of being a Khazar.
Over Powell’s other shoulder peered John Negroponte, then director of national intelligence with oversight of the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies. None of those agencies now support Powell’s Power Point presentation of “facts” proving those biological weapons.
Negroponte was the U.S. official who did not object when Yemen imprisoned a U.S. citizen and held him in solitary confinement—where Awlaki immersed himself in the Koran for 18 months.
The U.S. approval of his release in 2007 suggests that he could have been released much earlier.
Try to imagine a better formula for radicalization. Who better than an outraged articulate American cleric to inspire Muslim-American Evil Doers? Or Pakistani-American patsies such as the Times Square Fizzler.
Why was Awlaki imprisoned? Equally important, why was he released? Capture him alive and we may find out. Kill him and the trail goes cold. Could that be the point?
Why has his death been ordered by a U.S. commander-in-chief? Why do Barack Obama’s advisers not want him brought in alive?
Who is the real enemy in this hall of mirrors? Faced with yet another well-timed “incident,” how do we sort out the source of this evil doing?
Do we protect U.S. national security by killing a U.S. citizen?
Think about it.
Of all the responses to the devastation in Haiti, the most copy-worthy is televangelist Pat Robertson’s claim that the earthquake was divine retribution. In making his case, he told a story about how Haitian leaders long ago made a pact with Satan, promising to serve him if he would help vanquish their French oppressors. The Devil delivered, said Robertson, but the consequence is that the nation has ever since been cursed, with one disaster befalling it after another. It was reminiscent of when the late Jerry Falwell said — and Robertson agreed — that those who have authored America’s descent into sin were partially responsible for 9/11.
Not surprisingly, the response today is much as it was back then. Robertson has been roundly criticized in media, by the left, right and center. Yet there’s something more troubling than his remarks.
Just for the record, I don’t share Robertson’s theology. While I do believe there can be such a thing as the wrath of God, I also know that God has both ordained will and permissive will. The former, of course, is when God intervenes and makes something happen; miracles, in the typical sense, fall into this category. And many have believed in divine intercession. For instance, Ben Franklin once said, “the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this Truth, that God governs in the Affairs of Men.”
In contrast, permissive will is when God allows other forces — such man’s free will — in the Universe free rein. I believe most events fall into this category, although I’m certainly not inclined to argue about what percentage of all happenings they might be. I’m also not inclined to argue about the category into which the Haitian earthquake falls. I’ll simply note that disasters, like death, touch the Hades-bound and holy alike. I’ll also point out that Robertson’s story about the Haitian rebels’ pact with Beelzebub seems more urban legend than cause of urban devastation. Yet more ridiculous than the televangelist’s comments is something inherent in the criticism of him.
Many lambasting Robertson are Christians who believe in miracles and sometimes pray for God’s intercession. Yet, while they believe He may reward and rescue us, they certainly don’t seem to believe that He would apply the rod. Now, many would say this is because He is loving God, not a vengeful one; of course, others might say a loving father knows that love involves discipline. But I’d like to focus on a different matter.
Why do people take such umbrage at Robertson’s remarks? Now, I don’t ask why they disagree; to reiterate, I part ways with him theologically myself. Yet I’m not offended. I don’t act as if his commentary is as bad as a phony reverend screaming “God d*** America!” from the pulpit — which, I should emphasize, isn’t just saying that God has punished America. It is asking Him to damn America. And let us be clear: Damnation in Christian thought is something infinitely worse than sending a natural or manmade disaster our way. It is wishing on your target the worst thing possible: eternal separation from God. We should also note the context of that esteemed man of the cloth’s remarks. He was saying that 9/11 was our just deserts, that, as he put it, “America’s chickens have come home to roost.” Only, unlike the pastoral admonishment of Robertson and Falwell, he spewed the words with venom. And I don’t remember the chickens in the media condemning him as they did those two men. But I digress.
The larger point is that there is nothing un-Christian about a belief in God’s wrath. The Bible is replete with examples of it, such as Noah’s Ark and the great flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah. And when the Crusades (which, mind you, were a response to Moslem aggression) weren’t successful, medieval Christians viewed it as punishment for their sins. They then aimed to purify themselves, and piety movements arose all across Europe.
Yet, while many view this thinking as backward and superstitious, it isn’t always because they scoff at the idea of the supernatural; as I said, millions believe in miracles. Rather, it is because so many believe they have nothing to purify.
Truth be known, what really angers people is the implication that we could be deserving of such punishment. It’s just a very unfashionable idea in our I’m-OK, you’re-OK, self-esteem-and-candy culture. Yet the belief reflected by this anger is far more contrary to authentic Christianity than anything Robertson has said.
Central to Christianity is the idea that we’re deserving of the worst punishment — of damnation itself. As the Bible says, “All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” Yet we won’t necessarily get what we deserve because God is merciful. But this doesn’t mean He would not, under any circumstances, administer lesser punishment. I suppose you could say it’s much like the difference between a pagan Roman father and a good Christian one. As the paterfamilias, the former had the authority to even kill his children if it suited him. Thankfully, no average father today would contemplate such a thing, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t put hand to hindquarters on occasion.
Also, before one judges a Christian harshly for speaking of God’s wrath, it’s important to understand the idea within the context of Christianity. As the one who gave us life, God has the right to take it away.
But He doesn’t.
Upon leaving this fold, we pass on to eternal life. And if God takes people from this world but then invites them into His kingdom, is it not a blessing? Now, I well understand that this sounds ridiculous to secular ears that find the very concept of an afterlife silly. But we’ve all heard of the importance of putting yourself in another’s shoes, of understanding his “perspective.” There’s nothing sillier than judging someone’s intentions — what’s going on in his mind — without trying to grasp the world view shaping that mind.
Most interesting, though, is the modern man’s belief in his own sanctity. Some would say this problem is a result of a lack of introspection, but, in a way, it’s also a result of nothing but introspection. And this is largely a function of moral relativism. I’ll explain.
The question here boils down to what you use to judge your moral state. If you use Moral Truth — that is, something existing apart from man that constitutes perfect moral law — you will always find yourself wanting as you can never be perfect, never measure up to it. Sure, not everyone has the same grasp of morality; some are blind to many of its elements; some see elements that aren’t there. Some are blind to many of their own faults. Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe in Truth, in perfection, and also believe that you truly reflect it.
But if there were no Truth, there would be no morality. After all, if there is no external reality on which to base right and wrong — if, as the Greek philosopher Polybius said, “Man is the measure of all things” — it is simply an invention of man. This is why relativists shy away from the term “morality” and instead prefer “values,” which usually refers not to divine or “natural” law but to social constructs. But, then, what are values? What are we really talking about? What are we actually using as a yardstick for judging “moral” state? It then could only one thing, emotion — consensus or individual. This accounts for the popularity of the animalistic credo, “If it feels good, do it.”
But then, whose feelings should hold sway? A person could use those of the wider society, and there certainly is social pressure to do so. And given that our relativistic, feel-good culture has dumbed down standards to rubber-stamp what is pleasurable (part of which is sin), our collective set of values is far from perfect. Thus, it’s easy to view yourself as “OK” relative to it.
More significantly, though, if values are relative and feelings carry the day, why should we defer to other people’s feelings? After all, I’m a person just as you are. Why should you be the arbiter of my “moral” standard? Don’t impose your values on me, you intolerant oaf.
The individual then uses his own emotions as the yardstick for what his relativistic mind can only call morality. Then, since his “morality” is just a reflection of himself, he will conform to it perfectly. This is the process by which one deifies himself. It is when he finds the only kind of being this side of Heaven who could establish moral standards: the god “within.” And then don’t dare suggest that he deserves punishment, for that is an offense against the perfect. Is it any wonder that many so-called Christians today no longer believe in Hell?
Of course, not everyone descends into complete self-delusion. But the more relativism blinds our eyes to the yardstick that reveals imperfection, the more we start to mistake our warts for marks of distinction.
I don’t think the Haitian earthquake, 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment. But I do know this: It is not dangerous to believe that God would wash away wickedness with a great flood. It is very dangerous to believe it wouldn’t matter anyway, because we can walk on water.
If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.~~Thomas S. Szasz, The Second Sin
Several months ago, CNN published the results of a couple of disturbing polls about Americans and their religious beliefs. The first found that more Americans are rejecting religion and thus, according to CNN, America is becoming “less Christian.” The second, a Pew survey of only 742 mostly white evangelical Protestants, revealed that more than six in 10 of them believe that torture is often or sometimes justified.
More than six in 10? What this says about those claiming to be God’s own is that perhaps they should use their Bibles for more than “thumping.” Because not one in 10 — not one in 10 thousand — not one in 10 million — Christians believes that torture can ever be justified. Ever.
Anyone who has paid attention to the growing number of evangelical zealots over the past couple of decades must be aware that there is a growing chasm between Religion and Christianity. Today, the term, “religious Christians” is nothing if not oxymoronic. It seems when folks become apocalyptic frothing-at-the-mouth religious, they ultimately stray from the light and life of Christianity, while descending deeper into the darkness and death of Religion.
Because, all religion is politics. CNN quoted Mark Silk of Trinity College, who said, “In the 1990s, it really sunk in on the American public generally that there was a long-lasting ‘religious right’ connected to a political party, and that turned a lot of people the other way.” Silk cited the obvious link between the Republican Party and groups such as the Moral Majority and Focus on the Family.
Tony Perkins, the right-wing evangelical president of the Family Research Council, told CNN not to worry. He said people will return to their faith in droves; that soon, the decline will ease and religion will be an even greater part of people’s lives. The good news, according to Perkins, is, “As the economy goes downward, I think people are going to be driven to religion.” (emphasis added)
Yes, as more Americans lose their jobs, their homes, their very reasons for living, those like Perkins see them as Manchurian congregations — flocks driven to religion like cattle — bawling, shuffling, pushing, milling around with tags in their ears, looking for a leader. Even now, they can be seen in mammoth mega-churches, some with arms raised — fists clutching at dead air — others writhing in the aisles, moaning, begging for some “sign” from their rigidly religious God. Perhaps their panic stems from the instinctive knowledge that God, unable to get a word in edgewise, has left the building.
The conservative religious right is a frightening political force driven in its efforts to divide and conquer by greed, an insatiable lust for power, and an ideology of hate. Its members, unable to drag God down to their level, have no qualms about elevating themselves to what they perceive as His level. They succeed in controlling the flock because fear — especially fear of God — is a great motivator. They use God not only as a weapon against millions who stand between them and their goals of replacing democracy with theocracy and of controlling the worlds resources and its people — but as a divine justification for the destruction they leave in their wake.
No one was more adept at giving God credit for his killing fields than former president George W. Bush, who openly bragged that God had hired him to remove evil from the face of the earth. “I trust God speaks through me,” Bush said in 2004. “Without that, I couldn’t do my job.” And, even before that, in 2003, Bush tried to round up a “coalition of the willing” for his Iraq slaughter on God’s behalf. According to Charleston Gazette editor James A. Haught, Bush told then French President Jacques Chirac that “Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse.” Haught wrote…
“Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”
But some presidents, such as Lyndon Johnson, were not so magnanimous. God got the blame, not the credit, for the Vietman atrocity. Ronnie Dugger, in his book, “The Politician: The Life and Times of Lyndon Johnson,” writes that Johnson told Austrian ambassador Ernst Lemberter in 1966 that the Holy Ghost regularly visited him…”He comes to me about 2 o’clock in the morning,” Johnson said, “–when I have to give word to the boys, and I get the word from God whether to bomb or not.”
Now, you don’t have to be a Christian to reject the right-wing bull hockey that the God who appeared in a blinding flash of light and spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus has sunk to the evangelical depths where He emits not even a glimmer as He bends our presidents’ ears on who to slaughter, urges televangelist Pat Robertson to ask a woman about her sex life, and is still deciding if He wants Michelle Bachman or Sarah Palin to be president.
Christians should be lauded for rejecting modern-day Religion. When the God they are taught to love is either credited — or blamed — for all hell on earth; when they search in vain for Jesus, and finally find Him, hanging out in a secretive townhouse on Washington’s C Street with the greedy, war-mongering gang who refer to themselves as “The Family,” it’s time to take a second look at the direction in which this nation is hurtling.
For years, conservative right-wingers have hidden out in the C Street “church,” where they are free to conduct all manner of fraud and to carry on adulterous affairs. People who have sold their souls; who have no sense of morality, and who use God as a Trojan Horse to hide their political manipulations to replace both Democrats and Democracy are quite mad, you know. Right-wing evangelicals and neocon operatives are consumed with religious hate, not Christian love. Their modus operandi is, as Weekly Standard operative William Kristol said, “go for the kill.”
And, those who are familiar with Kristol know he wasn’t referring just to health care. Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition protege, the now disgraced Ralph Reed, dubbed in 1995 by Time magazine as “the right hand of God,” was a master at evangelical politics, which he said was like Viet Cong-style guerrilla warfare. Reed said, “I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don’t know it’s over until you’re in a body bag. You don’t know until election night.”
Anyone doubting the viciousness with which Reed would “go for the kill” should have a talk with Vietnam War hero and amputee Max Cleland, who not only found himself crammed into a body bag on election night 2002, thanks to Ralph Reed, but was in there with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
But Reed and others are tyros when it comes to those most likely to cause Christians to reject religion — those whom CNN failed to mention who incite violence by preaching sermons laced with politics, religion, racism — and hate. Those like Tempe, Arizona’s Steven Anderson, who has no college degree nor formal Bible training, but is qualified to preach because he “has memorized almost half of the New Testament.” Anderson started his own church — Faithful Word Baptist — in 2005 on Christmas Day. A firey right-wing preacher, he’s against homosexuality, liberalism — and President Barack Obama.
In August, Anderson gave a breathtakingly vile speech entitled, “Why I Hate Obama,” in which he said about President Obama, among many other things……
“Obama is a madman in control of this country.”
“Obama is NOT my president.”
“Obama mocks the Bible.”
“Obama is a socialist devil murderer.”
“I hope he dies and goes to hell.”
“God looks down and says, ‘Man — I HATE that guy!’”
Anderson, and those like him, epitomize the breach between Religion and Christianity. The religious believe that God belongs to them. Christians know that they belong to God. It’s that simple. Thus, CNN polls notwithstanding, America cannot become “less Christian” as a result of members of the flock jerking the tags from their ears — and rejecting modern-day religion.
When President George W. Bush was first elected back in 2000, I well remember the way Christian conservatives went gaga over him. They would deny it, of course, but it was more than hero worship: they acted as if he were a god. Life-size posters filled Christian bookstores. Religious broadcasters and televangelists swooned over him like 16-year-old girls used to swoon over Elvis Presley. Pastors invoked his name almost as a prayer. The Religious Right acted like they had died and gone to Heaven. In the minds of Christian conservatives, G.W. Bush could do no wrong. The result of all this sophomoric silliness was that the Religious Right became blind, impotent lackeys to a Big-Government, big-spending, Orwellian, and inept administration–maybe one of the worst in U.S. history.
And all of this was not lost to the political left. They called Christian conservatives “dupes,” “buffoons,” “gullible,” and a whole lot more. But now it is the liberals’ turn to take a voyage in the vehicle of villainous vulnerability.
First, there was the major media’s “anointing” of President Barack Obama. Yes, I use the word “anointing” on purpose. Make no mistake about it: in the minds of the major media, Obama was not inaugurated; he was canonized. No pope, king, or potentate of history received the coronation that Barack Obama received. To the liberals who dominate the news media and entertainment industry in this country, Obama is not a President: he is a god.
For example, did readers see the way NBC newsman, Brian Williams, bowed to his majesty, Barack Obama? (If you missed it, see it here:
Where are Keith Olbermann’s eloquent rebukes of the Military Commissions Act (MCA), the suspension of Habeas Corpus, and many other Big-Government intrusions into the private lives of the American people that were first instituted under George W. Bush and that now continue under Barack Obama? When he wants to, Olbermann can be a very convincing, articulate defender of constitutional liberties. However, it seems that Olbermann is only interested in constitutional government when it is a Republican trampling it. Since Obama became President, Olbermann has not only muted his criticism against unconstitutional policies emanating from the White House, he has joined the chorus of mindless worship of the new President.
(Here are Olbermann’s trenchant comments on President Bush’s support for the Military Commissions Act and denying Habeas Corpus–something we will not see from Olbermann regarding the same policies emanating from the Obama White House:
The list of ways that media and entertainment lemmings fawn over Barack Obama is almost endless. And just when one thinks he has heard it all, out comes the blathering balderdash from Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas.
Appearing on last weekend’s Inside Washington, Thomas lauded President Obama as a “brave,” “great teacher” who “stands above everybody.” But Thomas saved his most outrageous oratory for last Friday’s Hardball program. On Hardball, Thomas gushed, “I mean in a way Obama’s standing above the country, above–above the world, he’s sort of God.”
There you have it: according to Newsweek’s Evan Thomas, Barack Obama is “sort of God.”
Well, now that God is in the White House, I suppose we don’t need the Constitution; we don’t need the Bill of Rights; we don’t need Congress; we don’t need the Supreme Court; we don’t need individual sovereign states; we don’t need the media; and we certainly don’t need Evan Thomas, do we?
There it is, my friends: because Barack Obama is the President, the major media now worships toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Goodbye resistance; goodbye objectivity (if they ever had it); goodbye fairness; goodbye investigative reporting; goodbye accountability (at least for Obama); goodbye professional journalism; and goodbye free and independent press. Hello propaganda; hello favoritism; hello yellow journalism; hello socialism; hello “monarchalism”; hello globalism; hello elitism; and hello Pravda.
What in the world has happened to us? How is it that otherwise intelligent and educated people can so quickly forget virtually everything their principles and values taught them, and become little more than clumsy chumps for a Presidential administration–any Presidential administration? Are we that slavish? That childish? That foolish? Apparently so.
As bad as it was under Bush, it will be twice as bad under Obama. Only because, at least with Bush, the major media’s natural liberal bias tended to want to keep Bush somewhat honest, which meant that Bush would often face criticism from the media for some of his unconstitutional policies (such as Olbermann’s eloquent repudiation of Bush’s policies regarding the MCA and Habeas Corpus referenced above).
Forget it with Obama. The liberal bias of the major media will tend to cause them to support anything this guy says or does, and to always look the other way whenever unconstitutional or illegal activity surfaces.
For eight years, Christian conservatives had “Lord Bush.” Now, liberals have “Lord Obama.” Seems to me that gods come pretty cheap these days.
It’s understandable that free-market conservatives are deeply troubled that Barack Obama has taken the reins of power. Already we see America moving even closer to socialism than before. But to me what’s even more troubling than what’s going on in Washington D.C. is the clear and present danger in Christendom. Let me spell out the problem as I see it: A-p-o-s-t-a-s-y.
Dictionary.com defines apostasy as “A total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.”
For hundreds of years orthodox Christianity has held that the Bible is the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, by supernatural power, and that every word in it is true. (2 Tim 3:16) Thus, Scripture has the power, or right, to command how people of faith live their lives. Then theological liberalism rears its ugly head and attempts to undermine established truths. The theological liberal pretends to be a Christian (“progressive Christian” is preferable) as he or she blatantly and unapologetically undermines the Divine authority of the scriptures in matters of faith and life. As a result of the onslaught of liberal influences, the Church is in dire straits!
False teachers and charlatans persist solely because Christian’s have become biblically illiterate. Many believers think studying the Bible is so dull and boring that they can’t be bothered anymore. So they’re ripe for the picking. And this is not the exception but the rule!
If it’s true that the Bible is God’s Word, shouldn’t what He says matter to those who believe in Him? Evidently not because many people who say they “love the Lord” have no clue what’s in the Bible – and clearly they don’t care to find out!
A number of professed Christians ignore what was written by the apostles and others who sat under Christ’s teaching and put their trust in human opinions and unreliable sources. More on this in a moment.
If God did not reveal Himself through the prophets and those who penned the Old and New Testaments, and the Bible is simply a collection of fascinating morality tales, myths and fables, what source are people to draw from in their quest to know the one true God?
Let’s say the Gospels were made up, as the unbeliever claims, how, then, will the person who has given his or her life to Christ know anything at all about Him? Moreover, if the Bible is merely a book of fables, when Jesus was tested by the devil, why did He quote from Deuteronomy 6:6, 6:13, 8:3 and 10:20? Because the Word of God is the source of power against the enemies of God! Even the Son of God wielded the “sword of the spirit, which is the word of God” against the evil one! “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Mat. 4:4). The words that proceed out of the mouth of God are in the Bible! God’s word is the bread of life! It is nourishment for the soul! You can’t fight evil forces without arming yourself for battle! The way you do that is explained here http://www.emailbrigade.com/84.html
Make no mistake. Rulers of darkness are the driving force behind theological liberalism. Paul warned, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). These counterfeit Christians are relentless in their plan to deconstruct historical, orthodox Christianity. They want to mold Christianity into a one size fits all religion that appeals to everyone. To be successful they must refashion the Jesus of the Bible into a tolerant, all-inclusive Savior who condemns no one. Sound familiar?
Progressive Christians abhor the Bible’s “oppressive morality.” Not even God has the right to tell them how to live their lives, especially when it comes to free expression, or what the Bible deems deviant behavior. They’re mantra is “God wants me to be happy, halleluiah!”
Books that put a positive spin on the cults, the occult, New Age spirituality, Eastern mysticism, homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals transgenders, and what not are available through online Christian outlets as well as in walk-in stores. Here’s a point to ponder: So-called Christian publishing houses are the largest suppliers of outright heresy. Oddly, Christian publishers and outlets are responsible (or should I say irresponsible) for much of the apostasy because they give false teachers a platform for what simply equates to heresy!
Listen to what Peter Jones says in his article, “Evangelism Highjacked by Closet Theological Liberals”:
“I write, so to speak, from the belly of this beast, attending the National Pastors’ Conference, sponsored by Zondervan and Intervarsity Press, which is taking place in San Diego, February 9-14, 2009. It is amazing to see how these once faithful publishers of evangelical orthodoxy are now consistently and deliberately launching a massive but subtle attack against the “Fundamentals” for which Evangelicalism stood courageously against liberalism in the past.”
A word of warning about Christian bookstores. Bibles are sold in every color, shape and size, in translations that are supposedly “accurate” “up-to- date” and “easy to read.” If you don’t know what you’re buying, be careful! Many Bible translations are highly unorthodox, hence they’re unfit for Christian consumption! Albert Mohler, President of Baptist Theological Seminary, cautions that the translation a person chooses is “what they will have in their minds and what they will hide in their hearts.” Unorthodox material can lead ignorant souls into cults and apostate Christianity — and this is tragic!
Visit just about any Christian bookstore (CB) and you’ll see display cases and shelves stocked with spiritual merchandise, including jewelry, figurines, framed pictures, greeting cards, calendars, posters, music – you name it they stock it. But what’s disconcerting about these stores is that they also stock books that not only attack the fundamentals of the faith, some of the books contain out and out heresy! Christian publishers and storeowners have a responsibility to examine the material they sell!
Let me provide a few examples of many that could be cited. So-called Christian publishing houses publish books that purport Word of Faith theology (prosperity gospel) that are distributed to Christian retailers. You ask, “What’s wrong with the prosperity gospel?” Well for one thing, prosperity preachers hold to the decidedly unorthodox view of Scripture that faith is a force. Faith teachers say that faith is controlled through words and by uttering the right words, or the right formula, you can have what you want. Adherents call it making a “positive confession.” Confess you’re healthy and you can overcome disease. Confess you’re a millionaire and it will happen. Just name it and claim it! That, my friends, is heresy.
One of the most popular prosperity preachers is Joel Osteen. If you’re a fan of Joel’s, please don’t stop reading — just hear me out. I realize that it’s hard to believe that Rev. Osteen would steer you wrong. But don’t be fooled by his humble demeanor, his neatly coiffed hair and dazzling smile. Listen to what he says about faith in his best-selling book, “Your Best Life Now”:
“You have to begin speaking words of faith over your life. Your words have enormous creative power. The moment you speak something out, you give birth to it. This is a spiritual principle, and it works whether what you’re saying is good or bad, positive or negative.” 
This so-called spiritual principle is “the law of attraction.” New Age guru, Rhonda Byrnes, author of “The Secret” believes “you create your life through your thoughts.” Joel believes the same thing! Those who choose to read his books, attend or watch his church service on TV are sitting under a false teacher!
Joel Osteen is not alone. The Rev. T. D. Jakes is a spiritual advisor to President Obama. He has been labeled a “black Billy Graham.” Yet Rev. Jakes teaches something Billy never taught:
“Jesus was a rich man. He had to have been, in order to have supported his disciples and their families during his ministry.” 
Funny, but the Bible tells us that Jesus “had nowhere to lay His head.”
John Avanzini also believes Jesus was rich:
“…Jesus lived in great prosperity…” 
Trend-setting Jesus wore designer clothes:
“Why do you need to know that” asks Avanzini. “Because until you know that Jesus was prosperous, you won’t be either. You may have His kindness, you may have His gentleness, you may have all His other attributes, but you’ll never have His prosperity.”
Televangelist Benny Hinn is “sick and tired of hearing about streets of gold.” He says he doesn’t need gold in heaven: (My comments are in brackets)
“I gotta have it now. [Rev. Greedy is worth millions.] I mean, when I get to glory, all my bills will be paid, brother. I won’t have bills in glory. I gotta have it here. [So send him your hard earned money!] You say, ‘Well, Benny Hinn, isn’t it wonderful to have streets of gold in heaven?’ Well, of course, but if I hear the thing one more time of how it will be and how it was, I’m gonna kick somebody.” [Hopefully Benny did not follow through on his threat.] 
In her book “The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make” Joyce Meyer writes this heresy:
“During that time He [Jesus] entered hell, where you and I deserved to go (legally) because of our sin. He paid the price there. …no plan was too extreme. … Jesus said on the cross and in hell.” she continues…. God rose up from His throne and said to demon powers tormenting the sinless Son of God, ‘Let Him go.’ Then the resurrection power of Almighty God went through hell and filled Jesus. …He was resurrected from the dead – the first born-again man. 
Admittedly some of Joyce’s teaching is biblical, however her teaching on the Atonement, which is a central doctrine of the faith, is heretical. Why would Jesus Christ, who is God, need to be born again in hell? The Bible clearly teaches that it is mere mortals who must be born again! The cross is where Jesus’ atoning work for mankind was completed! In John 19:30 Jesus said: “It is finished…and gave up the ghost.” That His work was finished is also evidenced in Paul’s words in Col. 1:20: “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
What Joyce Meyer teaches is clearly Word of Faith theology.
This is just a taste of prosperity teaching. You can listen to these men and women ’til the cows come home and you will not hear one of them utter that followers of Jesus Christ are to deny themselves and take up their cross. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mat. 16:24). But that’s just Jesus.
Here is a partial list of other word-faith apostates:
Kenneth Hagin, Charles Capps, Oral Roberts, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, John Hagee, Rod Parsley, Todd Bentley, Paula White, Fred Price, Jerry Savelle, Robert Tilton, Marilyn Hickey, Morris Cerullo, Miles Munroe, Jesse Duplantis, Steve Munsey, Ken Clement and Ed Young. (For more on word-faith teachers follow the link at the end of this column)
Frankly, I’m surprised Oprah Winfrey’s book club recommendations aren’t displayed in CB windows. Whatever Oprah recommends becomes an overnight best-seller and rakes in mega bucks. In fact, hordes of “Christians” run right out and buy Oprah’s book club picks. A few years ago she pushed Neal Donald Walsh’s blasphemous “Conversations With God” on her show and the book sold millions and made Walsh a household name! Last year Oprah promoted the New Age Bible, “A Course in Miracles,” a “self-study spiritual thought system that teaches the way to Universal Love through Forgiveness.” (For more on ACIM follow the link at the end of this column)
My point is that if Christian booksellers think nothing of prominently displaying alleged miracle worker Benny Hinn’s books, then it would be perfectly appropriate to offer “A Course in Miracles.”
I would be remiss if I failed to mention William P. Young’s mega-selling book “The Shack.” Like ACIM, some church groups use it as a “Bible” study. But is “The Shack” based on sound biblical principles? I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings but the answer is a resounding No!
In “The Shack” Young presents a new understanding of the Christian faith under the guise of fiction. Here’s how Pastor Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel sums up Young’s book in his online book review:
“The Shack, while occasionally getting things right is, in the end, a dangerous piece of fiction. It undermines Scripture and the church, presents at best a mutilated gospel, misrepresents the biblical teachings concerning the Godhead and offers a New Age understanding of God and the universe. This is not a great novel to explain tragedy and pain. It is a misleading work which will confuse many and lead others astray.” 
Gilley’s not alone in his analysis of “The Shack.” There are a whole host of pastors and scholars who have written articles to express their concerns about it. Some Christian radio hosts have devoted entire broadcasts to the book. And the consensus is that it must not be looked at as “a novel to be enjoyed.” In his May 26, 2008 radio broadcast Albert Mohler warned his listeners that the book is “deeply subversive,” “scripturally incorrect” and contains “undiluted heresy.” (Listen here http://www.albertmohler.com/radio_show.php?cdate=2008-05-26 )
Now, if the anti-Shack folks are right in their assessment of the book’s contents, wouldn’t it be prudent for CBs that choose to sell the controversial book to at least post a disclaimer?
A disclaimer should also be posted next to books by Emerging/Emergent Church (ECM) proponents as these men and women have been roundly criticized for their unorthodox views. The Christian Post reported:
“The Emerging Church movement is seeking to revitalise the faith but may end up severing Christ’s church from the Word of God, says one Reformed Presbyterian pastor and theologian.
“‘If churches embracing the principle of Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) fail to understand and address the concerns voiced in the Emerging Church conversation, we may lose an entire generation of professing believers,’ says the Rev Rutledge Etheridge, an adjunct professor of systematic theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in Pittsburgh and pastor of Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church.
“According to Etheridge, the Emerging Church movement – known for flexible methodology and efforts to be culturally relevant – seeks to glean the good from Christianity’s past while painting a fresh picture of the faith today. Those familiar with the movement say its members seek to live their faith in what they believe to be a “postmodern” society, while its leaders are often critical of traditional evangelical churches and often place high value on good works or social activism.” 
To put it plainly, ECM is not the Christianity of the New Testament. The leaders in the “conversation” denigrate the Word of God. Moreover, they do not preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is but one gospel and Paul clearly lays it out in 1 Cor. 15:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain” (1 Cor. 15:1,2).
Many ECM leaders are wolves with razor sharp canines masquerading as harmless lambs. Beware! “For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 14).
Lighthouse Trails Research has a plethora of information on ECM. I found the following quotes on LTR’s website:
“I stopped reading from the approved evangelical reading list and began to distance myself from the evangelical agenda. I discovered new authors and new voices at the bookstore-Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and St. Teresa of Avila. The more I read, the more intrigued I became. Contemplative spirituality seemed to open up a whole new way for me to understand and experience God. I was deeply moved by works like The Cloud of Unknowing, The Dark Night of the Soul and the Early Writings of the Desert Fathers.” -Spencer Burke, The Ooze
“Some of the values of the emerging church are an emphasis on emotions, global outlook, a rise in the use of arts, and a rise in mysticism and spirituality.”-Josh Reich
ECM does not hold to the authority of Scripture, hence they are careless in their handling of it. They’re all about political liberalism with a social gospel, pluralism, and universalism. As I pointed out in my article, “Emergent Church Spreading Spiritual Cancer”:
“The movement…is emerging away from orthodox Christianity, spreading its spiritual cancer throughout the globe. ECM change agents have made inroads into evangelicalism, big time. What they preach is a counterfeit social gospel. They say they bring a “message of peace.” Their hope is to make Christianity more palatable to the world. Sounds altruistic, doesn’t it? But don’t believe it! In order to accomplish their lofty goal, the shifters must first repackage the Church.” 
Here’s a partial list of prominent voices in ECM:
N.T. Wright, John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, Ryan Bolger, Wilbert Shenk, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Erwin McManus, Dan Kimball, Scot McKnight, Elizabeth O’Connor, Nancey Murphy, Leonard Sweet, Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Donald Miller and Phyllis Tickle.
Certainly some Christian bookstore employees are sincere Christians. To them I say: Defending the faith is a duty! Jude urges Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). Apostasy is rampant in the contemporary church. Selling heretical books that lead people away from Christ only contributes to the problem.
Jude also warns against false teachers and leaders who undermine the faith:
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).
What I’ve covered here is only the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to be said about all the garbage sold by so-called Christian publishing companies and bookstores. My desire is not to condemn them; only to bring to light some disturbing trends and to expose a few apostates.
John Avanzini, “Was Jesus Poor?”–Believer’s Voice of Victory, Jan. 1996, p. 8
 Kaylois Henry, “Bishop Jakes Is Ready. Are You?”–The Dallas Observer magazine, June 20-26, 1996, p. 22
 Benny Hinn, Praise the Lord broadcast, Nov. 8th 1990-Audiotape
 The Most Important Decision You Will Ever Make-By Joyce Meyer, 1991 edition, p. 35-36
 Emerging Church movement threatens church foundation, says pastor–By Eric Young, Christian Post
 “Emergent Church Spreading Spiritual Cancer”-By Marsha West
The Shack: Interview with William P. Young. In the interview Paul Young denies the substitutionary atonement.
I detest the prosperity gospel. Ever noticed how the “name-it-and-claim-it” preachers are lining their own pockets but those who support their ministries can barely make ends meet? These smooth talking televangelists are adept at using psychological manipulation and peer pressure to persuade people to pull out their credit cards. (More on this later.)
Televangelists hold to Word-Faith beliefs that are both blasphemous and heretical. Faith preachers say, “Demand what you want by faith and you will receive it!” Moreover, they hold that Christ provided for physical healing at the cross. So not only are Christians saved from sin, they are promised a healthy life! You ask, “Is what they teach biblical?” Nope. Still, Faith teachers contend that their “enlightened” view of the Bible is the gospel truth. Read some of the blogs and you will discover that many in the Body of Christ find the radical beliefs and practices of the false prophets in the Charismatic movement deeply disturbing. Unfortunately much of their unscriptural teaching and ungodly behavior is posted on YouTube.com, GodTube.com, and shown on God TV.
Jesus did not mince words with this warning:
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Mat. 7:15).
What I’m about to reveal illustrates the great lengths two false prophets have gone to to add to their own personal wealth.
In a recent article “God Bless Your Credit Card”  Rapport news describes what occurred in Johannesburg during televangelist Benny Hinn’s Miracle Crusade. Around 18,000 people went to the Coca-Cola Dome in Randburg to hear Hinn’s message of healing and miracles. What they heard was that God wants to make people rich. Pastor Todd Koontz, who accompanied Hinn, spoke about financial burdens. He told the receptive crowd that 500 audience members would receive “an exceptional blessing.” He said the service would “yield millionaires and billionaires within 24 hours.” The “exceptional blessing” rested on everyone donating up to $1,000. Here’s the catch. To motivate people to part with their money the blessing would be poured out for only two minutes. That’s right. Folks had only two minutes to receive God’s “exceptional blessing.” Credit-card machines were at the ready to accommodate those who were convinced that the “anointing” was flowing through to them.
Pay God for a blessing? Leave it to a sham artist to come up with something that preposterous.
But what about all the disabled who had come to Hinn for healing? Did Koontz really expect them to get to the stage in 2 minutes?
Pastor Tommie Ferreira was not happy with the underhanded way in which Koontz, on Hinn’s behalf, squeezed money from the gullible sheep. He saw a large number of people push their way to the front. “Poor people, rich people, people from all sections of our society.” So naturally he got to wondering if any of the people who donated $1,000 or more had become millionaires, as Koontz promised.
Later that week Rapport News spoke to a money counter in Hinn’s South African office in Durban who admitted that after a week they were still raking in money. Which is not surprising at all considering that many people give to get — and Koontz promised they’d get rich!
Something else the money counter told Rapport:
“’Americans always talk in dollars. If some of the churchgoers believed that they would not be blessed, then they should not have given their money.’”
“’The church-goers did not have to give $1,000. If they couldn’t afford it, then they could’ve given less. And, some of them did.”
Does this not make your blood boil?
Ferreira assured Rapport that he wasn’t attacking Hinn and Koontz. “It just20really gets my goat when people make unfounded claims and then they’re off with these people’s money.”
At last, some good news! Someone at the event actually had the backbone to check up on Benny Hinn and put the facts out there!
If this kind of mind-manipulation weren’t such a serious issue in the Church, it would be laughable. But it makes you want to cry. Even though people have been warned about televangelists they continue to contribute to their ministries!
Another televangelist who uses tactics similar to Benny Hinn’s is John Avanzini. At his events a message is flashed across a large screen: INCREASE… INCREASE… INCREASE for the waiting audience to see. Some televangelists induce the “sheeple” to increase a ministries bank account by using psychological manipulation to get what they want.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Crosstalk Radio Talk Show host Ingrid Schlueter drove to Harvest Church in Tinley Park, Illinois to investigate the Inspiring Faith Conference. Ingrid tells us what happened after Avanzini finally arrived on stage: (All quotes by Ingrid are from “John Avanzini and His Talking Stones” 2)
“After a rambling, free-ranging talk about the worsening economy and the price of gas, he told us that he would give us all two things to help us get through perilous times. The first was a list of 7 Bible promises, as he called them, that he had printed up on a card. The mixture of truth and error was very evident here.
“The list…gave the following “seven anchors for these perilous times”. Note that the word prosperity as he uses it is referring to material wealth. Spiritual wealth was never mentioned that night.
- God has already made plans for your prosperity. Jeremiah 29:11
- Everything you will need and want has already been provided for you by your great God. 2 Peter 1:3
- God has already given you his best so there is no need to worry about him denying you anything else. Romans 8:32
- God wants you to live with limitless supply. Judges 18:10
- Your wealthy place is always on the other side of the perilous times you are facing.
- It gives God great pleasure to prosper you in good times…in bad times..at all times. Psalms 35:27
- In good times or in bad times, God is willing to make you rich. Proverbs 10:22
Ingrid describes how truth is mixed with error in the 7 Bible Promises:
“All of those Scripture verses given do talk about the prospering of God’s people. The idea that this is always referring to physical wealth is patently absurd. Avanzini and all of his huckster compatriots only use Scripture as proof texts for their own ridiculous claims that God wants everyone wearing Brioni suits and Rolex watches.”
Avanzini informs the crowd that to help them through “perilous times” he would give them a stone. Ingrid describes what the stone represents:
“He went through several Bible references where stones ‘talked’ in the Old Testament. Here Avanzini introduces the stone idea. He strolled down the aisles, his ring winking in the lights, and held out a shiny stone for a woman to hold. Avanzini told the assembled crowd of about 650 people that these stones should be rubbed whenever people faced rising prices or higher prices at the pump. The ushers went down the aisles with buckets of shiny, smooth stones and handed them out.”
As I mentioned above, Avanzini uses psychological tactics on Christians who come to hear him speak. As soon as he had the Harvest Church audience in the palm of his hand, he conveyed his real message. Incredibly, he takes Bible stories out of context and misapplies the intended meaning to get people to buy what he’s selling. For example, he used the story of Gideon found in the Old Testament book of Judges. Ingrid tells how he skillfully twisted the story to suit his purpose: (My comments in brackets.)
“His [Gideon’s] offering of a goat [to God] was such a sacrifice for someone who lived in a cave. He [Avanzini] described how the angel of the Lord IGNITED the offering on the rock. We, who were in possession of the lucky rubbing stones, would need to ignite ours. I’ll give you a guess how that should be done…[I]t turns out, Avanzini had a whole new doctrinal revelation to tell us about: the doctrine of reverse entrapment. If you’ve never heard of that before, that’s because God just showed it to him right there. Reverse entrapment is when you put a gift to Avanzoni [sic] on a credit card and outsmart the lenders who are trying to get rich off your debt. When you put a gift on a credit card, I quote, ‘something happens in the spirit world.’ Here he tells everyone how to have a credit card breakthrough. Turns out Avanzini has a way for you to get rid of your mortgage debt. All you have to do is to give him a20gift the size of your house payment and God will see that your mortgage gets paid off right away. If you don’t have a house, $500 will do nicely for future debt. Avanzini assured us that it worked for him.
“Perhaps the man sensed a few hostile vibes from the audience (from our row in particular) because he warned us not to let the devil keep us back from getting free from debt by putting a gift for his ministry on our credit card. The credit card ‘invitation’ began as the keyboardist began to noodle around with some mood music. Then Avanzini warned everyone again not to let the devil keep us away. The people streamed down to the stage area and wrote out their credit card numbers and house payment gifts and left them at the expensively shod feet of the speaker. While the people came down to the front to divest themselves of their money, Avanzini appropriately chose to tell an Al Capone joke. I doubt if one other person in the house recognized the irony.
“Avanzini then prayed an igniting prayer over the stones everyone was clutching. Presumably, we still have to ignite our own with a credit card gift, but maybe his igniting prayer was considered the first step. The entire thing was an unspeakable tragedy. These men target the poor in particular because they are the ones desperate enough to need a ‘breakthrough.’ That is the evil in all of this. The rich aren’t stupid enough to give away their cash to the likes of Avanzini. It’s the poor and the needy, the hurting and the ill who desperately need help who are vulnerable to these sharks.”
Speaking of sharks. Did you know that God wants popular televangelist Joel Osteen to be rich? Portfolio.com repoted in “God Wants Me to Be Rich”  that in these troubled times “Reverend Feelgood” wants us to be rich, too.
“Joel feels our pain and has made himself wealthy (reportedly earning $13 million for his last book advance alone) and his church prosperous ($75 million and counting in annual revenue) by urging us to let go of it, to turn it over to God, to accept God’s favor so that we may be as prosperous as Joel.”
So, if we accept God’s favor He will prospers us financially? Who knew? There is no biblical precedent whatsoever for what Osteen preaches. But that hasn’t stopped the name-it-and-claim-it preachers from going all over the world preaching that God wants us to have a big house, drive expensive cars, even own yaughts and jet airplanes – and many of them do!
“Osteen is one of a new breed of televangelists — Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Creflo Dollar are also rising stars — who are preaching a less sanctimonious, more inclusive message. His church is in that part of the economy that thrives in troubled times, that can count on full pews when wallets are empty and an ever more receptive audience if we do go into a full-on recession.”
As noted above it would appear that Benny Hinn and John Avanzini are already making plans to see that they, or anyone close to them, won’t suffer during a full-on recession.
Lately televangelists are receiving a huge amount of attention, even from the U.S. Senate. Six prosperity ministries are under Senate Finance Committee investigation because of “possible misuse of donations.” The list includes Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Eddie Long and Randy & Paula White. All of them have become filthy rich because of supporter’s generous donations. For example, televangelist Kenneth Copeland’s ministry (Eagle Mountain International Church of Newark Texas) owns a multi-million dollar Citation 10 and has a private airstrip capable of landing jets that cool their engines in a hangar. Brother Copeland personally owns three other aircraft. According to t he TimesOnline, Copeland told his congregation, “The Lord spoke to me and said ‘you’re gonna believe for a Citation 10, right now.’” He promised them that the jet “will never ever be used as for anything other than what is becoming of you Lord Jesus.”
TimesOnline revealed that Copeland’s ministry “leases land for Mr. Copeland’s cattle and horses and also leases land to the family so that it can operate oil and gas wells.” The ministry also owns a $6 million lakefront mansion. And that’s not the half of it.
Copeland did not cotton to the Senate’s investigation into his finances:
“In a television interview last month, Mr. Copeland’s son John hit back at allegations of financial impropriety:
‘The jet is a tool. It is just a tool to use in ministry. Where in the Bible does it say you should have watchdogs and judgment groups that watch over ministries?’”
Where in the Bible does it say Christians should be rich? My husband, a pilot, would relish owning Copeland’s ministry “tool,” as would most pilots. Christian pilots can “believe9 D for a Citation 10, but the chances of owning one is slim and none.
Certainly the Apostle Paul’s life would have gone a whole lot smoother had he been the CEO of a tent company, instead of a humble tentmaker. As an itinerant preacher having money would have afforded him first class accommodations on luxury sailing vessels. But God did not open up the vault in the Bank of Heaven for his beloved apostles. To Paul he said, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor.12:9). This is authentic Christianity!
Please join me in “believing” that false prophets like Benny Hinn, John Avanzini, Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland will be exposed as frauds and go flat broke.
“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” – 2 John 1: 9-11
The Word-Faith Movement, By Gary Gilley
Marsha West is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org