Handy Reference to False Charismatic Christian Teachings.
Emphasis is on what is being promoted on so-called Christian TV.
Author: Kurt Hutchison
Warning, this document names names, and quotes many false teachings. I want to set the stage and say that we as Christians do not condemn or judge people, but false doctrines and false teachers we are called to reject. To condemn false doctrines without getting into the wrong spirit, the spirit of condemnation, division, and criticism, is a difficult thing to do. I have struggled with this. This preface was added after the bulk of this document was written as I recovered from the shock and horror of discovering I had followed so many bad doctrines for so long. Please accept my apologies if anything here goes too far and crosses the line into condemnation. Remember, we are to treat people with love and respect, while offering no apology for defending sound doctrine. And that defense should be done graciously, not venomously, or it is not of Christ at all.
I also want to acknowledge a distinction between classical Pentecostalism that is loyal to the Bible, which I consider to be within the realms of evangelical Christianity, and the word-of-faith and extreme Charismatic positions I am refuting in this document. So with these things in mind let us proceed.
After fifteen years in the Charismatic movement I thought I had been "called to preach", and decided to study theology, figuring I should not just parrot our leaders but should know the basis of our teachings in order to better articulate them. I thought I should also learn a little about the false teachings of the past, so I would be in a better position to defend the faith so-to-speak.
I ended up finding out that the false doctrines of the past have become accepted doctrines of the present, and that many of our leaders are false teachers and that lying signs and wonders abound. As of this writing virtually all of the teachers on TBN are false teachers, ranging from just imbalanced to open promotion of heresy (horror of horrors I know, but please read on).
Pastors need to know about this, because unless they are avid watchers of Christian TV (as I was), they will be unaware of the flood of false teaching beamed into the homes of their flocks on a 24x7 basis.
Here is a handy introduction of some of the false doctrines and manifestations floating around. Not everything in this document is heresy, some are just false doctrines. I try to confine myself to areas where I think strong Biblical arguments exist.
While the Bible warns against doctrinal division on minor issues, it warns that following a false gospel, or a false god will result in loss of salvation. Even if an angel from heaven appears and says follow after other gods, do not follow them.
Anything that changes the nature of God, or changes the core doctrines surrounding salvation we are commanded to vigorously defend against. The word heresy is generally accepted to mean a compromise of one of those two core doctrines, thus heresy is dangerous to your salvation if you believe it.
The anti-intellectualism permeating the Charismatic movement uses the excesses of the middle age theologians to justify itself but forgets that both Luke and Paul were educated men.
The Holy Spirit is the spirit of a sound mind. The most doctrinally educated person in the New Testament is Paul, and God used him to write two thirds of the New Testament. Dr. Luke said he researched everything carefully so he might present an accurate account of what happened, and he wrote Scripture.
The end-times church is clearly portrayed by prophecy as apostate, selfish, greedy, going after false doctrines, chasing lying signs and wonders, where only a remnant will be saved.
This is completely contrary to the popular Joel's Army preachers who say the greatest revival of all time will precede the return of Christ, and that the Church will exit in a mighty victorious rush of God's glory. God does promise an increase in true signs and wonders at the end, but prophecy also says that an increase in the false will also occur, and that the majority will follow after the false. And in fact this is the great falling away prophesied for the end times. It is under way now. Love for God’s word has grown cold.
Only sound doctrine can help you to tell the difference. Repeatedly we are told in the Bible to compare any teaching against scripture, and to reject false teachings. You have to know what is true in order to do this. I would like to encourage every Christian to study theology at least a little bit, the great doctrines of the faith are timeless and unchanging. My personal testimony is that until I began to seriously study theology, (I set out to survey the history of Christian thought, with a focus on the reformation and the early church), I really did not know some of the basic doctrines of the faith, even though I read the Bible, and was quite an active reader of pop Christian books. I thought I was up to date, but in fact I was far out in left field. In particular, a study of the heresies the early (and reformation) churches faced was particularly enlightening. I found that the very things they condemned as heresy were the things I believed in.
We are told that special revelation (Scripture) is closed at the end of the book of Revelation. Note: special revelation is scripture and general revelation is the creation in theologian-speak. Revelation says that no man may either add or remove anything thereafter. These basics make it easier to discern the false revelations and teachings that abound in our perilous last times.
In the letters to the seven churches in revelation, there were only two churches that Jesus had nothing bad to say about. Most notable however is what He had to say that was good about them. The suffering church He exhorted to hold fast, and said they would suffer and that some would die, but that their reward in Heaven would be great. And to the Philadelphian Church he commended them not once, but twice for holding fast to His Word. No works or miracles were mentioned at all, just faithfulness to His Word.
Cessationism comes in two general forms (partial and full cessationism), both assert that all charismatic gifts ceased after the last apostle died and full cessationism denies any and all miracles from God today, including any form of communication except by providence. Most cessationists admit that God speaks through His Word by quickening Scripture as you read it. This one is not a part of the Charismatic movement, but I mention it because coming out of the false teachings might cause one to overreact and deny all miracles.
I deny full cessationism and assert that God is sovereign and He can and does intervene miraculously today. He also leads us into truth and gives guidance through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Cessationism of all forms is correct in stating that special revelation is closed. Any new special revelation, even if it agrees with scripture one hundred percent and adds or removes nothing, is probably still false. Consider the value of such a revelation; it would serve solely to inflate the reputation of the person claiming such a revelation, which by definition does not glorify Jesus.
The origin of cessationism can be traced to the early church fathers who within a hundred years after the last apostle died were writing that all miracles appeared to have ceased. By Augustine’s time two centuries later theology to explain it had been developed. Essentially the position was that the gifts were for the purpose of writing and confirming New Testament scripture and the offices of the Apostles.
The origins of cessationism as a reformation theology can be traced to Jonathan Edwards in the 1700’s, who was one of the first to adopt a theological position that miracles had ceased. I believe the theology goes too far and takes an observation and turns it into a mandate. Just because God chooses to go for long periods in history without doing miracles does not justify a theology mandating it in my opinion.
Notice that cessationism is also not heresy, it neither compromises the Gospel nor the nature of God. So cessationists (of all forms) are brothers in Christ. I say this because the heretics accuse anyone who disagrees with them as being spiritually dead legalists who have denied the Spirit, and issue particularly strong condemnation to the cessationist viewpoint.
My own position is somewhere near partial cessationism: some if not all of the gifts appear to have ceased, but I maintain that God still does miracles in response to prayer. I make no theology however mandating that the gifts must have ceased. Although for example the case against prophecy is particularly strong. At least, nobody out there can claim a one hundred percent hit rate, and thus pass the test for a Biblical prophet. And since Revelation makes it clear that nobody will ever add to the words of that book, I think you can make a pretty good case that prophecy has ceased. I am not dogmatic on this, but will challenge anyone who claims the gift of prophecy to demonstrate their one hundred percent hit rate. I believe they must also pass the test for Biblical orthodoxy.
Charles Finney, in the mid 1800's, invented the first seeker-friendly services. He is credited with starting the second great awakening. Gone however were the fire and brimstone preaching of Jonathan Edwards and Whitfield of the (first) Great Awakening 100 years earlier. Finney also added positive emotionalism and appeals to self-improvement. To Finney, Christianity was a moral movement. He is remembered fondly today by modern Charismatics as the inventor of the revival service, and seeker friendly services. Promise Keeper leaders brag that Finney lives today, in their movement. This is essentially true as Promise Keepers is also a moral movement at its core, and like Finney, has abandoned sound doctrine.
The problem with Finney is that he was a heretic. He denied the substitutionary atonement on the cross and believed that one got into heaven on the basis of changing one's life by moral behavior. He believed that if one sinned one temporarily lost one's salvation until the sin was repented of and forgiveness was asked for. He clearly understood the substitutionary atonement because he explicitly spoke out against it.
But we are saved "by grace through faith" says Paul. The Bible teaches that salvation is entirely a work of the Holy Spirit. We do not bring anything to the table, not even a "willingness" to accept Him. We are convicted and converted by His work, not ours. Yes we must accept the conviction, but even the power to do that is a gift from God. Decision oriented evangelism is always seeker friendly, and unfortunately usually ends up compromising the Gospel to make it "relevant" to modern culture.
The correct preaching of the Gospel is what Paul said: "We preach Christ and Him Crucified." 1 cor 1:23. Put another way, we do what Jesus did on the Sermon on the Mount. We preach law to let people know they are sinners, no good in them at all, none. Then we teach why this is an important issue (fire and brimstone goes here), and then we preach grace and forgiveness (Hallelujahs go here). The Gospel means "good news", there is no good news needed until the bad news that one is a sinner and hell bound is understood. There is also no salvation without repentance of sin and genuine bowing to Christ’s lordship also (feel good Christianity does not save).
The seeker friendly Gospel repackages all the things the world wants (wealth, prosperity, health, self-improvement, inner peace, spiritual power), and says you can have all that in God, only better. Little or no mention of sin, or hell, or the self-denial and sufferings that Christ so clearly said will accompany his followers is mentioned by the seeker friendly gospel. Those who are genuinely converted are left to trip over it and discover it for themselves, often thinking there is something wrong with them, that they aren’t right with God when in fact the reverse is true.
The Bible says we shall suffer for Christ, and that we must give up everything to follow Him, in precise opposition to the seeker friendly gospel. In fact it is trials that allow us to be conformed to Christ’s image.
The seeker friendly gospel also seeks to be inoffensive; this is the excuse to make it relevant to modern culture and to draw people in. We must not offend anyone. But Paul gives us a different picture:
gal 5:11 Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
The cross is called an offense. And preaching of it will bring persecution. The offense-free Gospel is a Gospel-free Gospel.
Sadly, many are preaching the Gospel today without sound doctrine. It is frequently seeker-friendly, inoffensive, and devoid of the need for salvation through the cross, Finney's legacy lives on.
Interestingly, a little known fact is that Finney’s short term legacy was also negative, he lamented in his memoirs that the areas where he had campaigned the most for the Gospel were now the most Gospel resistant and least churched areas in the nation (the northeast US states). Other historians of that time even called it the burned-out areas where no evangelist dared go, because they were assured of failure by nobody coming to their meetings. Thus we see that false fire has no power to save, or to change a heart in any long-term way, despite the short-term emotional fervor it can whip up. And in fact all it did was vaccinate people against the true Gospel.
The Latter Rain Movement, led by William Branham in the forties and fifties, invented or greatly popularized the following doctrines:
· Joel's army - a large number of people would be endowed with power to perform miracles and would create a massive revival in the end times. They believed this revival would last until Christ's return or the rapture (they initially denied the rapture). Later versions of this accept the rapture. The idea of "taking the world for Christ" essentially started here.
The picture of the end-times church painted by prophecy is not one of glorious victory, but rather it is an apostate church that seeks self, money, pleasure, signs and wonders, and false doctrines.
· The apostolic and prophetic offices would be restored, thus rounding out the five-fold ministry. In truth Branham did not originate this doctrine, but he popularized it considerably. Self-appointed apostles and prophets now abound. Their leader and self-proclaimed best of them (in the third wave movement today), C. Peter Wagner, carries a binder of his "prophecies" and claims a 95 percent accuracy rate (the best hit rate any have achieved so far) and brags how much better than the New Age psychics this is. His conferences have thousands of self-proclaimed apostles and prophets attending to be trained in their craft. He says prophecy is a learned skill. Prophets start at about a 10 percent accuracy rate, but can rapidly achieve a 50-60 percent accuracy rate with training under his expert guidance.
The Bible says anyone with less than a one hundred percent accuracy rate is a false prophet and will be cut off (go to hell), because they dared to speak a lie in God's name. This effectively discredits all self-appointed prophets today. I am not trying to set out prophecy as any special form of sin however. Dying in the state of unrepentant sexual sin is no different than the sin of unrepentant false prophecy.
Prophecy (special revelation) ceased when the Bible was completed, and the Bible itself makes this clear. They try to get around this by redefining prophecy to mean inspired exhortation, but there is no biblical support for this redefinition.
The Bible teaches there are exactly twelve apostles, period. Their names are engraved on the foundations of the heavenly city. Therefore any claim to be an apostle is false. Apostolic, a lesser claim, is also frequently made, but it is still false. The church is apostolic because it was founded by the twelve apostles.
· A restoration of the nine gifts of the Spirit would occur in the end times. This alone of Branham's teachings has some (weak) Biblical support, but when signs follow false doctrine you can be assured they are false too. Branham's conclusion that the increase of Godly miracles would result in a world-wide revival and the dominion of Christianity is contrary to Bible prophecy.
If the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue to operate, how do you tell the true from the false? The Bible tells us we are to test the spirits, and we are to test them against scripture. Anyone who claims to be a prophet or an apostle is probably a false teacher. When signs and wonders follow heretical doctrine, again they are probably false. Prophecy says that many false teachers will abound in the last days, deceived themselves and deceiving many.
· The anointing can be imparted by the laying on of hands in prayer. Branham’s movement exploded in 1946 when he laid hands on his disciples, imparting power in imitation of what Jesus did (consider the hubris of this act for a moment), and sent them back home to impart that power to others. Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, and many others echo this false teaching. I have received flyers in the mail with the pictures of self-appointed prophets and apostles promising to lay hands on me to receive a greater impartation of the anointing. For only $129.95 I can attend their conference and receive this mighty blessing from God.
No biblical support for this kind of “impartation” exists. The true meaning of the anointing is God Himself, and it comes exclusively from God Himself. Turning the anointing into an "active force" that can be imparted by men and passed around like a cup of coffee is heresy because it redefines the nature of God. It is a New Age cultic teaching. Kenneth Copeland is a chief proponent of the idea that faith is an active force.
There are no gymnastics or training examples in the New Testament to indicate that we should or can somehow increase our anointing over time. God is everywhere already. The few "draw near to Him" verses are about us daring to enter His presence at all, not about exercises to increase anointing. Spiritual growth in the Bible is never about power.
Most shameful of all is they are effectively selling the (false) anointing. This is the sin of Simon in the New Testament. The apostles were quite clear about what they thought of this:
act 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
· Manifest sons of God doctrine. People can grow in power, impartation, and holiness, until they become just like Jesus in power and authority. Supporting this is the idea that Jesus was no better than us. He was "baptized" in the Holy Spirit and was dependent upon the Holy Spirit to do miracles just as we are. Another supporting idea here is that we can speak the Word of God, just as He does, and we have His delegated authority to do so.
No Biblical support for any of those doctrines exists. Deceptive teaching and stretching of some scriptures way beyond their intended meaning is used to support these doctrines. God does miracles by His grace, not because we command Him do so. Speaking God's word until it becomes reality is not only without precedent in the Bible, it is mind over matter, a New Age teaching that has many names such as "create your own reality". No Biblical example of anyone speaking God's word to enforce it on earth exists. Prayer is petition to an all-powerful God, plain and simple.
Saying that Jesus laid down his divinity and became a man and did no miracles Himself denies His divine nature. This heresy is actually threatening to salvation. The early Church fathers faced the same heresy and soundly condemned it as heretical. This is also the position of the Jehovah's witnesses. But the Bible says that Jesus was fully God and fully man. To believe that He only did miracles by the Holy Spirit is to deny who He was and to make up a doctrine that is not found in the Bible.
· Spiritual warfare. The whole spiritual warfare thing was started by Branham. It was yet another way of stating the “take the world for Christ” doctrine. The Bible teaches we overcome the Devil as Christians by standing in faith and obeying His word. And our authority over demons is limited to casing them out of individuals. The spiritual warfare doctrines twist this into something it was never intended to be. The reason it is such a heretical doctrine is it denies that Satan was defeated on the cross. We become the church militant in their eyes, and continue the fight against Satan. Most of the spiritual warfare/dominion thinking follows this (heretical) vein. Another wrong-thinking emphasis of the dominion theology of LRM thinking is that it de-emphasizes individual salvation and over-emphasizes national transformation or advancement of the kingdom. The true Gospel always was and is a personal one-at-a-time transformation. All the victory in the cross is to be found there in individual transformation, the Devil cannot stand against it and never will. God will not lose one, despite the Devil’s best efforts.
Branham also believed in UFO's, pyramids, the zodiac, and oneness modalism (denial of the Trinity). I have heard John Hagee on TBN preach the Zodiac as part of God's revelation to men, and T.D. Jakes, Rod Parsley, and Creflo Dollar espouse oneness modalism also.
Branham also believed his personal angel did all of his miracles, and gave him all of his revelation (a familiar spirit of course). In 1949 the Assemblies of God Church denounced him and the LRM as heresy. It went underground for 10 years or so, and was kept alive by Demos Shakarian and the Full Gospel Businessman's movement (because Branham died during this time). About ten years later these teachings reappeared and were integrated into the Pentecostal parts of evangelicalism and were hugely successful. Time Magazine declared 1979 the "Year of the Evangelical". Focus on miracles and imparted power intensified and the name Charismatic came into widespread use. Ultimately however we would say that these doctrines reside at their strongest in the word-of-faith movement today. The best-known academic institution that endorses LRM theology today is Fuller Theological Seminary.
Today, Charismatic and word-of-faith leaders endorse Branham. Marilyn Hickey and Rodney Howard Browne endorse Branham as one of the greatest prophets to ever live. One of them actually said greatest, which of course violates scripture as Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest prophet to ever live. And for the miracle seekers, not one miracle is attributed to John, but Jesus called him the greatest of all the prophets.
Many Charismatic leaders claim to have received visions from Christ giving them special revelation. Many claim to have been given personal tours of heaven or hell or both. Kenneth Hagin, a pioneer in the Word of Faith movement, preached many heresies, but said he was personally given his commission to preach by Jesus appearing to him. In the vision, he saw the holes of the nails in the palms of Jesus' hands. Years later archeologists dug up several crucified skeletons and the world learned that the nails go through the wrists, not the palms. Kenneth Hagin's followers and protégés (Kenneth Copeland is a Hagin protégé) were unfazed. In truth he was a false teacher, as are his protégés.
Jesse Duplantis, a Copeland protégé, claims to have been given a personal tour of Heaven by Jesus. He teaches many additional revelations as well as many that directly contradict scripture. He somehow missed the 1500-mile high heavenly city, even though he claimed to have toured it. He described a planet, with many cities, towns, and villages. He saw souls of men being pre-created in Heaven before being sent to earth to inhabit conceived bodies. The pre-existence of the soul is a false Mormon doctrine (and is seen in other cults too). The idea that Heaven is a planet is also a Mormon doctrine. He also describes people in heaven as referring to God as "The Great God Jehovah". This one is a dead give-away. The word Jehovah is a transliteration of a reformation attempt to rediscover the lost pronunciation of the Hebrew word Yahweh. It is a made up word, but the denizens of Jesse’s fantasy Heaven seem to like it. Duplantis also tells the humorous story of his asking a really stupid question in Heaven: “Where is the Holy Spirit?” He asks. The response? “He is on Earth”. The response is a lot dumber than the question.
psa 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
psa 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
The Holy Spirit is omnipresent; He is in Heaven, Hell, and here on earth. I ordered a copy of this vision (DVD for $29.95) from Jesse Duplantis Ministries. I had to wait a month for it to arrive because it was so popular that it was on back order. They had to order another manufacturing run of them to meet demand. This is a false Gospel marketed for profit.
Note: That verse (psa 139:7-8) also destroys the false teaching that hell is eternal separation from God because God’s spirit is there too. Hell is eternal punishment for sins.
Mary Baxter published a book "A Divine Revelation of Hell". In it the Devil rules in Hell and his demons are the tormentors of lost souls. Hell is shaped like a human body, and many other extra-biblical teachings are evident. Since the Bible does not place the Devil in hell it is clearly a false revelation. The Devil is the "prince and power of the air" (eph 2:2). In Isaiah 14:12-15 it says Lucifer is fallen from heaven, and shall be brought down to hell (future) where passers-by will stare and wonder how such a pitiful being caused the nations to tremble. The Devil was cast down to earth and is SENTENCED to hell.
Conveniently, Ms. Baxter got a tour of Heaven a bit later, just in time to stop those sagging book sales. You can buy "A Divine Revelation of Heaven" now too. The sad part is that so-called Christian bookstores carry these books. And sadder still is they fly off the shelves into the hands of unsuspecting victims.
Scripture clearly says that special revelation is closed, finished. If anyone adds words to it, they will have the plagues of Egypt added unto them, and if anyone removes words from it, then their names will be removed from the book of life (not a good thing). However, fortunately for us, these new revelations have more theological holes in them than Swiss cheese so even those (like I was) with minimal discernment have a chance to see through them.
God can give us revelations to help us to understand scripture, but He will never add to it, or subtract from it, period.
Summed up, these many false teachings come under the general heading of Gnosticism. Gnosticism was faced by the early Church and was denounced by the early Church fathers as heresy. Gnosticism teaches "hidden knowledge": that some people have additional special revelation given to them which they are to impart to the body of Christ. It also stressed that we are all to come into knowledge through our experience, that each is the keeper of their own truth. Gnosticism also taught that the world and the flesh are totally evil. This meant nothing done in the body mattered because it was evil already. That was essentially license to sin. The license to sin has not resurfaced as a popular teaching, but the hidden knowledge and focus on personal experiences over sound doctrine is overflowing today.
Gnosticism also taught a separation of spiritual things and worldly things. This false dichotomy is rampant today. People neglect family, work, and careers in favor of church attendance. Things aren’t viewed as having any value unless they are “spiritual” activities. Education and material success is viewed as evil.
Anyone with a private revelation that adds to scripture is a false teacher, plain and simple.
Kenneth Copeland's definition of faith says God is a faith creature, as is man: God is a faith creature; his insides are made of faith. God can only speak truth because He believes everything He says. If He were to speak a lie it would become truth. I have heard nearly identical quotes from Copeland's protégé, Jesse Duplantis. The implication (well they don't imply, they come out and say it) is that we are just like God when we understand this power of faith that is also inside us. We are declared to be faith creatures also, with the power over everything in our tongue. Copeland, Dollar, Hinn, and others have all proclaimed us (word for word) to be “little gods.” “You are divine” says Hinn, “You are God”, says Dollar, “You are little gods”, says Copeland.
The Bible says God is spirit, not faith. Copeland’s teaching changes the nature of God, thus making a false God. It changes faith from trust in a Divine Person into an active force. This is New Age, this is heresy. The “little gods” teaching is the old lie from the Garden of Eden "You shall be as God...” We are in no way like God in power and authority, we are sinners saved by grace who make petitions to a sovereign loving God.
Scripture says "the power over life and death is in the tongue". But this does not mean our tongue has the power of the keys of death and hell, or authority over all creation to create our own reality, but rather we are condemned or justified by our words, just like the Bible says "by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
This is the idea that we speak with the same creative force of faith that God uses. Since all of His power is delegated to us as fellow faith creatures it is our job to enforce God's will on this planet. This is a supporting doctrine of the Joel's Army doctrine. I have heard repeated references to “God’s creative force” and the “power of faith” as being one and the same.
This is essentially a repackaged manifest sons of God doctrine, and is still just as heretical. We can neither curse or bless anything or anyone else with our mouths. We have no delegated authority. Our mouth only has the power to condemn or justify us because out of the heart the mouth speaks.
This is the idea that we have just as much right to healing as we do to forgiveness of sins, from the moment we are saved. In Isaiah it describes the work of the cross. That verse taken alone would appear to indicate that healing and forgiveness of sins really is like that. Teachers of this doctrine teach that you are sick only because you lack faith, or that you don't understand scripture, or that the Devil has somehow taken advantage of you. Virtually all the healing evangelists of the last hundred years have taught a variation of this and it is in full force now. Those same evangelists were always trying to explain why not everyone gets healed. It always boils down to it being the sheep’s fault. There certainly aren’t any problems with the leaders or the doctrine. They teach we are supposed to deny reality (pretend we are healed before we actually get healed) to live by faith, but this is an occult concept and has no place in Christianity.
Let us add a few more scriptures to get the correct picture. Our spirits were regenerated (born-again) at the moment of salvation, but we await the regeneration of our bodies says the New Testament. Again and again the New Testament says "Believe in your heart, confess with your mouth, and you shall be saved". But not once does it offer such a promise for healing. God heals by His grace now, the promise for total healing is yet future for when we receive our glorified bodies.
This doctrine has been taught for at least a hundred years, in many circles, and yet nobody has ever achieved the one hundred percent hit rate that Jesus did, (and later Paul did on the Island of Malta). It should be noted that they healed unbelievers and believers with equal effectiveness. Yet these same teachers loudly proclaim they have everything that Jesus and Paul ever had. They are defeated by their own arguments in my opinion.
Now let me expand upon the dark side of this teaching. I have read books by many of the major healing evangelists of the last 100 years. Most of them give lists of reasons why they think not everyone gets healed. I have read many such lists, some are short, and some are long, but universally they blame the person who fails to get healed for their failure. And if they don’t tell the person what they think, they still teach it in private. I attended a Pentecostal church for many years and was gratified to hear my pastor preach against this doctrine. He was angry about it, how dare you blame the sick person for their condition? How can you in good conscience during their moment of greatest need tell them it is their own stupid fault that they are there and can’t get out?
Here is an even darker side of it: A sad fact is that dozens of cases are on record of children dying because their parents refused medical care based on this doctrine. And in America we have more children dying from these kinds of excesses in so-called Christian denominations than we do in the cults who explicitly refuse medical treatment as part of their doctrine.
Allow me to mock this doctrine a bit to show the foolishness of it. If it is as easy to obtain a healing as it is to get saved (which is the claim that is trumpeted so loudly, I used to believe it myself so I speak as an ex-practitioner of this doctrine) then it must be a lot harder to get saved than people think, and in fact the majority of people who pray the sinners prayer for unknown reasons, can’t receive it. At least here some balance could be achieved, as I actually hold the viewpoint that it is considerably more difficult to be saved than is popularly taught. Perhaps I could be the one to achieve what Jesus and Paul did…
Don’t underestimate the power of autosuggestion. Anton Mesmer (we get the word mesmerization from him) did it, and so can we. People can be talked into doing all kinds of crazy things and claim it is a manifestation of God. And when the demons get into it and enhance it a bit the whole thing becomes a demonic deception. Listen to the way the healing evangelists (Hinn in particular) talk during a service. Soft music, repetition of suggestive phrases, it is meditation and mesmerization in Jesus’ name. No biblical examples of any such antics can be found.
Also, notice how the virtually all of the events in “healing” meetings today are psychosomatic healings. Never do you see someone get up and describe a physical condition that instantly disappeared, it is almost universally “the pain is gone”. A hypnotist could easily achieve that, the problem is it wears off a few hours or days later.
Here is a little known fact about Benny Hinn ministries. If you call them and ask them to produce documented miracles, they cannot produce a single one. They had one briefly of a woman who claimed to be healed of diabetes, but six months later she was back in the hospital being treated for, you guessed it, diabetes.
By that standard I am a better faith healer than Benny Hinn, I can count two fairly legitimate miracles in response to my prayers, that if (a big if I admit) a doctor was present, would have been easily documented. Maybe I need to buy a white suit and let my hair grow a bit… Not sure I could afford the hair spray though.
Based on the parable of the sower, that produced 30, 60, and hundred-fold, it is the promise that money can be sown into good ground (a ministry that believes in seed-faith), and you will receive a return from God. Oral Roberts originated this teaching, but it is all over the Charismatic world now. Tithing is routinely taught also. Offerings are gifts over and above the (required) tithes. Paul Crouch recently added a first fruits requirement (first paycheck of the year) to the list. This idea that you should constantly strive to increase your level of giving (and thus your anointing and spirituality) is pervasive today.
“All the great men of God are givers” I have heard. TV preachers routinely preach “I survive on my giving, not yours.” I think their checkbooks would prove otherwise.
I have heard poverty called bondage, I have heard poverty called a sin, yes, you are in sin if you haven't used your faith to get rich yet (more from the TBN peddlers of false doctrine).
I also routinely hear that you can sow money and expect a return in healing, relationships, salvation of loved ones, or other kind of blessing. This "you can buy a miracle" mentality is everywhere.
The definition of good ground is a bit humorous too. You are supposed to sow into an anointed ministry and you can expect to share in their anointing as part of your return. "Our anointing is bigger than their anointing so give your money to us."
This is the teaching that produces self-fleecing sheep. Marks and rubes that willingly hand over their money to con-artists promising them wealth and blessings. I have routinely heard sermons on TBN entitled "You are worth your weight in wealth" (Mark Chironna Feb 2005), "God wants you Rich", and more.
This is covetousness in the name of Christ, a blatant violation of the tenth commandment. Notice how nothing is ever enough, in order to constantly increase your spirituality you have to increase your giving level.
Notice that bondage is like the IRS, it increases every year. J
Neither tithing nor seed faith is in the New Testament. There is no cause to assign money as the meaning of the seed symbol in that parable. Jesus explicitly says a few verses later the seed is the Word of God.
Nowhere in the New Testament do you find anyone commended for using their faith to get rich, or giving out of their need so they can obtain more. But love of money is repeatedly warned against, and it is stated that rich people will have much more difficulty in getting into heaven than poor people.
If is it sin to be poor then the apostles were certainly sinners and men of little faith. The teaching that Jesus was rich is also false.
In the New Testament, giving is simple, each believer is to set their own giving level, and is to give it cheerfully. Anything above that is bondage, plain and simple.
There is a group of people who preach prosperity. The list is long, but to name a few: Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch, Fred Price, and Kenneth Copeland. The basic idea is that prosperity is as much our covenant right as healing or salvation is here on earth. Fred Price brags about having 25 million dollars in the bank and 11 very expensive cars, enough so he doesn't have to get bored driving the same one more than once a week. Creflo Dollar even says we are God and are to rebuke the Devil to obtain our wealth, and he has a unique way to say it. Since we are partakers of the divine nature we are God (with a capital G) and are to say to the Devil "I AM THE LORD THY GOD, GET BEHIND ME SATAN." Can you rebuke the Devil with his own lie? I doubt it.
They are essentially preaching covetousness in the name of Christ. I heard Benny Hinn scoff at the idea of him, a man of God, driving a Honda. He was actually angry at the idea. Personally I believe you could do worse than a nice new Honda. Consider that $100 is more money than one third of the world's population sees in a year.
The Bible asks us to give it all up, to be willing to give even our lives for Christ. The Laodicean gospel is the world's gospel of health, wealth, comfort, and spiritual power (with accompanying self-glory) in God's name. But God said you will have trials and tribulations if you follow Him. I have heard Duplantis mock people who say that we must suffer for Christ. "They preach that you should suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, suffer, SUFFER, SUFFER, SSUUFFEEEERR!!!" Yeah I heard him say it, and directly mock a Biblical truth.
This is the formal name for the teaching that we speak the Word of God in faith, that we command things to happen and they will. It is clear that most of them actually believe this.
Rodney Howard Browne's daughter (about nine years old) died because he refused to give her medical treatment, believing that God would heal her. Prayers for her resurrection also failed. As tragic as that was, Browne failed to realize that this invalidates his beliefs. He eventually rationalized it by saying she wanted to stay in Heaven because she is happier there. Word of faith teachers routinely have close relatives die, just like every body else, it doesn’t work for them either. Prayers for Kenneth Hagin’s resurrection (the father of the word-of-faith movement) by his disciples (Copeland et al) failed, but funny you don’t seem to hear them talk about that much anymore. I am amused when I hear aging word-of-faith teachers (the Copeland’s for example) brag that they are going to live to one hundred and twenty years old and that we can all do that too.
Nowhere in the Bible are we delegated the authority to speak for God, even if we speak the Bible itself. Neither is there a single example in the Bible of anyone speaking scripture to enforce God's will on the earth, and even less to enforce our wills. Faith is believing what is in the Bible, not speaking it out with New Age mind power to coerce reality to our wishes.
There is a rich theological history behind this one which I will cover in a moment. The idea is that you must live a holy life in order to please God, or in order to get into heaven and is completely false. The reverse is true, we live a holy life (as best we can, knowing we will not succeed completely) out of gratitude and obedience, because God has already saved us as a free gift. Jesus came to save us from our sins (not just from Hell), part of salvation is freedom from sins here and now, and that is not of ourselves, but it is a gift from heaven. Self-denial (denial of the flesh) is one of the signs of a true convert, but denying yourself is not the way to become a convert, rather it is the result of it.
Now for the theological perspective which I hope will explain this more clearly. A historical heresy the early Church faced was called Pelagianism, named after its founder. Pelagius. A reduced form of Pelagianism (but not as openly heretical) was introduced shortly after the reformation began by Jacobus Arminius and has been mistakenly cast as the free-will vs. predestination debate.
John Calvin was (wrongfully) accused of taking a pure predestination stance, and Armininism (named after Jacobus Arminius) reacted and took a pure free-will stance. In fact Calvinism is more accurately represented as the doctrine of grace, we are saved by grace through faith, and not of ourselves that no flesh may boast.
It is debatable whether Arminianism is a full-blown heresy or not (I lean against it being heresy and accept that Arminians can be true followers of Christ and thus do not brand them as a cult or part of the false church). But Arminianism is close to the line, add in a few more false teachings and it easily crosses the line into unorthodoxy. Spurgeon also held this viewpoint (that Arminians could be saved but were close to the line) and called Arminianism a slippery slope to try to stand upon (as opposed to sand or rock, borrowing from the Biblical imagery).
Both Arminianism and Pelagianism reject total depravity, the idea that we are hopeless sinners, incapable in ourselves of either deciding to follow God, or to live a sin-free life.
Arminianism takes a small step and says that we can make a decision to follow Christ on our own, but acknowledges that He has to help us afterwards. It is endorsed by some mainstream denominations today. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, held this view for example. Other Arminians say that we need the convicting power of the Holy Spirit too but retain the ability to reject it, whereas Calvinists deny that we have the ability to resist the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
The Bible clearly teaches that we cannot come to God and don’t even have the desire to do so without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible also teaches that free-will and predestination are simultaneously in full force. The great Calvinists throughout history (Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Spurgeon) all taught this balanced biblically accurate viewpoint under the name of Calvinism. The Bible also teaches the doctrine of election (the words chosen, predestined, appointed, and elect are throughout the New Testament). Arthur Pink called the doctrine of election the most hated doctrine of professing Christianity (contrasted with Hell as the most hated doctrine of non-christians). He said it separates the sheep from the goats like no other doctrine because of its flesh-withering and humbling nature.
Arminianism denies predestination (and thus election and with it the sovereignty of God) and asserts that only free-will is in operation by stressing that God knew in advance what we were going to do.
You may say, what is wrong with Arminianism, it doesn’t seem that bad? Besides contradicting the Bible, history must also judge it harshly. The entire seeker-friendly watered-down gospel mentality is based on Arminianism gone too far. Another name for Arminianism is decision theology, that people can make “decisions” for Christ. It is the idea that we can cajole, convince with clever arguments, or woo with emotional presentations people into making a “decision for Christ.” The flip side of this thinking of course is that we are helping people get saved, doing great works for God. Arminianism appeals to the ego, both to those making “decisions” and those helping them make “decisions”. Part of the “Seeker-friendly” mentality of Arminianism is that we try to make the Gospel more palatable to the “seekers”. A watered down Gospel is no Gospel at all. An additional problem is that when someone is won by a watered-down, gospel-free gospel, that is what they will pass on to others.
To add perspective however, the Arminians that do the above things tend not to focus on doctrine at all (do not claim to be Arminians or anything other than Christians), and even view doctrine as suspect, so they are Arminians, but they are ones who have embraced other false teachings also and have thus crossed the line in my opinion.
Pelagianism goes farther that Arminianism, and appeals even more to self and pride by saying that not only can we decide for Christ in our own strength, but that we can decide to live a moral life too. It is essentially full-blown salvation by works. We earn our way into heaven by changing the way we live, living a moral life for God. Charles Finney actively preached this view. The more moral your life is the more spiritual you are. A sanctified life is bragging rights in Finney's view. Pelagianism effectively denies the substitutionary atonement, and is therefore a far more serious departure from the truth than Arminianism. Finney explicitly (by name) rejected the substitutionary atonement. Finney taught that whenever you sin, you temporarily lost your salvation, and that it was regained after you repented and asked forgiveness. The early Church condemned Pelagianism (and effectively the teachings of Charles Finney as well) as heresy.
Ultimately both Arminianism and Pelagianism are salvation by works, Arminianism says we are saved by exactly one work (“accepting” Christ), and Pelagianism says we are saved by many works (“accepting” Christ, and living a holy lifestyle).
Pelagianism abandons Paul who said "we are saved by grace through faith." We can only "make a decision" for Christ under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is clear on both these issues.
This one is not part of the Charismatic movement, I include it to solely to round out the discussion on Arminianism and Pelagianism.
Going in the opposite direction of Arminianism, we find Hyper-Calvinism, which is a form of Calvinism that overemphasizes predestination at the expense of any responsibility on our part. Often the attacks on Calvinism use this viewpoint as a straw man to attack all of Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinism tends to be fatalistic, that is to say whatever happens must happen and we have no responsibility for it, nor any obligations to try to change it. Hyper-Calvinism can have in it the idea that God hates sinners for example, and that the offer of salvation is not to all but only the elect. It tends to discourage Gospel calls to repent of sins and follow Christ, rather it stresses that you are either saved or damned (emphasis on damned) according to God’s will and you can’t do anything about it. You can sometimes recognize a Hyper-Calvinist when they criticize forms of evangelism that plead with sinners to repent and accept Jesus’ offer of salvation as Arminian heresy. Hyper-Calvinism can also include the idea of once-saved-always-saved, that once you profess Jesus, nothing else you do matters. For more on Hyper-Calvinism see the excellent article from one of my favorite web theologians .
As Phil observes, Hyper-Calvinism has the unfortunate effect of eliminating one’s subjective assurance in Christ. This is because it asserts that one’s assurance is based on subjective feelings of conviction that one had at the moment of conversion. Their position minimizes the responsibility of the sinner to have faith in Christ to obtain salvation, and thus fails to identify faith itself as the primary evidence that one is of the elect. Put another way, your faith in Christ is your assurance of election, because that faith itself is the primary gift of God to His children. And the fact of His atonement on the cross is God’s personal guarantee to you.
You will hear this over and over again in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. There is a certain validity to this as theologians of the middle ages got into arguments over how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. But one could claim (correctly in my opinion) that they were members of an already dead church and were preoccupied with issues that were meaningless. Not so today, but the claims are made anyway to defend false teachings. This is analogous in my mind to a predator encouraging an ostrich to keep its head buried in the sand.
The Bible is clear again. Arguing over peripheral or minor theological issues is prohibited, but issues central to the nature of salvation and those that pertain to the nature of God are to be vigorously defended, and teachers who have incorrect theology in those areas are to be rejected totally. Dr. Luke and Paul were educated men and Paul was an expert in theology and was used to write the majority of the New Testament.
Too little theology kills. If your understanding of who God is, or how salvation works is off, then you haven't really received it. The end-times Church is one that rejects sound doctrine. Jesus’ only commendations for the "good" churches in Revelation were that they held fast to His word. Sound doctrinal basics are to be taught and understood by all. This is not seeker friendly however because you have to mention sin and hell, so it is not done much any more.
False teachers often quote this one saying that you should not speak against them. But the new false teachers have little claim to be God’s anointed ones. Signs and wonders or a big television ministry are no proof that they are anointed of God.
Even the way they quote the verse implies that the anointing is something some New Testament Christians possess more than others. They should understand that when they speak against their critics they are also speaking against God's anointed ones since the New Testament is clear that all Christians are anointed equally.
The Bible commands us to test the spirits and the doctrines of teachers. Testing a teaching for correct doctrine by comparing it to Scripture is an act of faith, and is not an insult to God at all.
Absolutely false, we are warned that in the end times lying signs and wonders will deceive many. This is already occurring. I will go into this in much more detail in a bit, stay tuned.
Subjectivity and feelings are the Devil's playground, if you trust in these you will be led astray. I believe God does speak today, but you better be sure it is Him before you act. He welcomes and encourages you to test the spirits.
Gnostic thinking, that is valuing personal revelation over general revelation (scripture), is throughout the church today. It is even taught that one cannot understand scripture without a personal revelation from the Holy Spirit. This is a twisting of the correct Biblical idea that one cannot believe the Gospel without the Holy Spirit. Even non-believers can understand the Gospel, they just reject it as foolishness. The same is true with sound doctrine, anyone can understand it, but to believe it is something else altogether.
People seek the signs and wonders and they also seek the people who will deliver them in miracle meetings.
Biblically, the signs are to follow us, we are not to follow them. Following after signs and wonders turns the meaning of that scripture upside down on its head.
Following signs is a not a sign of faith but is a sign of doubt. Jesus said "A wicked and adulterous generation desires a sign..."
This is the old heresy of dualism, resurrected by the spiritual warfare folks. This brand of dualism says that God only does good things and that the Devil only does bad things.
This doctrine denies the sovereignty of God, and also denies his holiness and righteous judgment and paints him as a feckless (weakling) God of love only, where “love” is perverted into tolerance for everything, and demanding of nothing. Since that is what the flesh wants God to be, it is a popular perception. However, verses in the Old Testament and the New routinely have God pronouncing sickness (and other judgments) on people. Sometimes He lets the Devil do it, but He definitely does it too. A logical conclusion to this doctrine would be that the Devil made Hell, since they are claiming God does nothing negative. In reality God is the righteous Judge every bit as much as He is the loving Father.
This doctrine is obviously sent by the Devil to confuse us into following after his false signs and wonders without question. And since it appeals to the flesh, it has gained popularity.
Cults boast of many healings, are we to say that God healed them too? This is in fact the cry of some of the cults today, “we have miracles so we are Christians too.” In particular Mormonism has noticed that parts of Christianity (the word-of-faith movement in particular) teach pretty much what they do and have now started a public image campaign to brand themselves as just another denomination of Christianity.
This is the Word of Faith doctrine in a nutshell: "Speak it in power and authority and it will happen." Starting right out in Genesis, God spoke "Let there be Light". Not too many verses later however He creates animals without speaking,
And many non-speaking events follow throughout the Bible. No Biblical support exists that we can speak His word in authority. Some limited scriptural support does exist that we can stop God from answering our prayers by speaking in doubt, but these verses do not give us carte blanche authority.
Mark 11:23-24 are the classic verses to justify this thinking:
mar 11:23 " I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.
mar 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Notice it says it will be done for us, not that we accomplish it. Notice that we believe we have received the answer to our petitions, not that we speak the word in faith.
The New Testament has no example of anyone speaking the word as "little gods", but just like the verse says, they make petitions to God, and God answers them. And He most definitely says no sometimes. It is correct to teach that we often fail to fully trust God in faith. But it is not justified at all to claim we can speak in unlimited (or even limited) authority.
We are also taught that nothing shall be impossible for us in Mat 17:20. Again faith in God can accomplish much, and I agree with the premise that some segments of Christianity even grossly underestimate this, but you do not see the New Testament believers taking over the world, or praying down strongholds to end persecution, or "binding and loosing". Rather they trust God to fulfill His purposes in their lives.
For balance, add to this the New Testament verses that say God himself allows false teachers and trials and tribulations to test us, and you will see that we are not granted unlimited authority at all.
The Word of Faith people routinely preach this idea.
Nobody prayed for God to create the world, or to make us, or a gazillion other things in the Bible. No Biblical support whatsoever. To limit God to responding to our wills denies that He is sovereign and elevates us by making Him our servant.
They say all denominations are of the Devil. Promise Keepers, TBN, Charismatics, and many Evangelicals are echoing the call of "unity at any price". So do C. Peter Wagner's new apostles and prophets. They seek to unite all of Christianity under their banner, to "take the world for Christ". It is the Babylon message repeated again in modern terminology, "we shall reach up to Heaven itself". Its modern roots are in the Manifest sons of God doctrine from Branham. The end result will be a false church that follows anti-Christ.
Already TBN embraces oneness teachers (who deny the Trinity), Catholics, and Coptics. Negotiations with the Mormons are under way by the president of Fuller Theological Seminary (the Word of Faith seminary). It is a small step to add the Jehovah's witnesses, Christian scientists, and many others, since Copeland et al preach exactly what they preach. And a few more small steps of doctrinal compromise and the entire New Age can be grafted in because "They love Jesus too." And voila, a one world false Church has been formed, ready to serve anti-Christ.
In fact there are plenty of denominations that agree on core doctrines and get along just fine, and openly acknowledge they are brothers in Christ. And they defend against false doctrine. Certainly some divisions are of the Devil, but blanket condemnation of denominationalism under the banner of unity of any price is not sound thinking.
Anti-Christ will appear to be a Christian at first. He will be a defender of the faith, and a defender of Israel. When he signs a seven year peace treaty guaranteeing the peace in Israel it may raise a few eyebrows, but the Bible teaches that apostasy will advance so much than many will accept him as the messiah.
I am surprised by how fast this is moving. I have watched TBN for fifteen years. It is true the heretical teachings have been there from the beginning, but even five years ago TBN was a mix of prophecy teaching, doctrinal teaching, and empty motivational speaking. It is now almost entirely empty motivational speaking, and the appeals to greed have increased dramatically.
If this rapid pace continues it will not be long before the one-world Church arrives. "We all serve the same God,” says George Bush of the world’s religions, echoing exactly what the anti-Christ will probably say, and yet the so-called religious right loves him to death. The "death" part is deliberate irony on my part.
One of the chief reasons for the “unity at the expense of doctrine” thinking, is that the charismatic gifts have been crossing denominational lines. Any orthodox theology will for example tell you clearly that Catholicism is clearly heretical and therefore a cult. And yet we have charismatic Catholics abounding. They pray to Mary and the saints, believe that you must have the seven sacraments and live a holy life to be saved, and speak in tongues and see miracles.
Those manifestations cannot be of God, any more than the apparitions of Mary or the children who “channel” Mary and give prophesies in her name.
The fact that the so-called gifts of the Spirit appear to cross into occultic “denominations” is very suspicious in my mind. It is not proof that all miracles are false, not by any means, but the fact that the miracle movement as a whole is embracing false and heretical doctrine without any regard for Biblical truth to me makes it overall a false movement.
Let me show you what true Biblical unity “in the Spirit” really is:
eph 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
That verse taken alone can (and is) taken to mean that unity of the Spirit in peace somehow takes precedence over doctrine. But just a few verses later we are told what is really meant:
eph 4:13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
eph 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Christian unity is only possible in the presence of sound doctrine and maturity in Christ. The two parts of Christian maturity are also mentioned in those verses (but given much more explicitly elsewhere), which are character (peace) and knowledge of sound doctrine.
Actually what is really being communicated is that the church should rule politically.
Completely false. No Biblical support whatsoever. This is Kingdom Now and Dominion thinking. It is also espoused in a new form by the Third Wave people that evangelization (different from evangelism) includes transforming societies and governments into Christian friendly forms.
Dominion theory holds that proper government has certain religious obligations. Separation of church and state is an invention of man they say. Throughout the Old Testament it was the king of Israel (government) who instigated revivals, and who rooted out false doctrines with capitol punishment (as the Law commanded him to do), and kept national Israel in line (or out of line) with God’s word. John Knox was the chief proponent of this doctrine in reformation times, and he was so successful that it was added to the Westminster catechism (Presbyterian doctrinal statement) and remains there to this day. John Calvin also held to this viewpoint, and ended up executing a man for heresy in Geneva. Early reformers killed many Anabaptists in the name of Christ, although the scale was miniscule compared to its predecessor in Rome. The theology was identical regards to political dominion of the Church and produced the same terrible results.
The other school of thought (the one I adhere to) is government is responsible for enforcing justice (Rom. 13), not religion. And justice includes liberty of conscience where religion is concerned. We point out that the Law was and is fulfilled by Jesus, who will in time rule the earth with a rod of iron and only then will church and state successfully unite. So what we work for now is a government that allows us to freely associate and worship Christ without governmental interference or mandates. It is also argued that this more closely follows the model of the early church, whose political involvement was generally limited to various forms of persecution by government.
In fact, every historical attempt to meld church and government has produced the most horrible of abuses. Government’s job is to foster justice; the church’s job is to preach the Gospel. Government uses force when necessary to accomplish its purposes and uses lethal force as its last resort. The church never uses force, and uses expulsion as its method of last resort.
Eschatology also tends to drive your viewpoint here, postmillennialism teaches the church will enjoy a golden age of political dominance and prosperity for a thousand years before Christ’s return. The lack of success in producing this “millennium” is a serious attack against this element of postmillennialism. Seventy percent of the world’s population lives under governments mildly or severely hostile to the Gospel and the trend (in agreement with other views of Bible Prophecy) as increasing hostility towards the Gospel.
Please note there is no Biblical prohibition against political activism, but it is not a requirement and has the potential to become a distraction. But beware of the ideas that demand more of government than liberty to worship Christ, because historically they always end up in the same place. This same negative effect occurs in microcosm, when small churches and movements become authoritarian in their methods. The stories of abusive leadership in small and large churches are legion.
For a more lengthy description of this viewpoint see:
This is the latest wave of guilt-trip-now theology from people who aren’t practicing what they preach. Joyce Meyer and C. Peter Wagner for example are involved in this. This one will fleece sheep like no other before it. They are espousing a subsistence-level lifestyle for all in wealthy countries. Forget ten percent, they want all your money that you don’t need to survive. I wonder what they will think of next, it seems like they will be running out of options to fleece the sheep after this one.
So many fallacies are in this line of thinking it is hard to do it in a nutshell. Wealth is not a static possession, it creates jobs, progress, and much trickle-down. Giving vast amounts of money to the third world would not change it as the money would mostly just disappear (wealthy economies create wealth and have an entire underpinning infrastructure that is totally absent in the third world, and their corrupt governments would effectively prevent any such payments from having the desired effect), but it would destroy the economies of the first world, and progress would grind to a halt, therefore eliminating any possibility for the emancipation of the third world. It would however successfully even the playing field, everyone would become poor (except TV preachers and corrupt government officials), the infrastructure would be destroyed, and hope for improvement (via developing the infrastructure more universally) would be lost.
The United Nations (of which the third world is the majority vote) however agrees with this line of thinking, and if it had its way, would tax first world nations to death very very quickly.
Please note that I am not denying our obligation to give to the poor, but I am denying the teachings of those who profit from it and who seek to place unreasonable and unbiblical burdens upon the body of Christ.
While it is true that greed and avarice are sins, the Gnostic idea of separation of spiritual things from worldly things has crept in and created an imbalance. People neglect families, work, and careers in favor of “spiritual” things like church attendance. People are made to feel guilty for worldly success and education. Women are made to feel guilty if they aren’t stay-at-home moms, and a career woman is often stigmatized. In some circles people (especially women) will apologize for having an advanced degree as something they did before they were Christians.
Working hard with enthusiasm at your job is viewed as a meaningless worldly pursuit. Gone is the Biblical work ethic, and the deep spiritual significance of a job well done.
The Bible does not separate spiritual things from worldly things in this way, we are to do all things as unto the Lord. You will not find it separating “church” activities from other activities. The Bible spends effort to commend people who develop their trade-skills and who work hard and go the extra-mile. The Judeo-Christian work-ethic was once synonymous with western society.
People are also led to think that lazy, poor quality, and poorly managed activities will be blessed by God because they (the people) are so spiritual. Excellence in workmanship and integrity in the workplace have fallen into disregard.
Notice God commends those who have developed their education and skills:
pro 22:29 Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.
Does it seem like God is criticizing the above worker for spending so much time developing his skills when he could have been witnessing, bible reading, or praying?
And we are permitted do all things with gusto (my modern interpretation):
col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (NAS)
And whatsoever we do, when we do it as if the Lord was our boss, it glorifies Him. Our work-ethic, education, and professionalism is a major part of our witness, it is not some unspiritual drudgery we must endure until we attain Heaven.
Do you remember all those scriptures that condemn idleness? We are made to work. Work is a holy, righteous activity that glorifies God, there is nothing whatsoever carnal about it.
See my article: http://www.kurthutchison.com/work.html
This statement was first made in the late 1800’s and was denounced as heresy by its opponents. Yet it survives and flourishes today. God is omnipresent, there is nowhere you can go where He is not, as all things are bound and held together by His power. The eternal separation theory has no Biblical merit.
Hell is eternal punishment for sins. To soften it to something else borders on a false Gospel.
Often accompanied with the teaching that Jesus suffered in hell for three days. Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and many others have all echoed this heresy.
Jesus said "It is finished" on the cross. The word translated as "finished" has connotations of "paid in full".
Jesus said “Father into thy hands I commit My Spirit”. Saying He went to Hell violates this plain and simple statement.
Since the beginning of the reformation, it has been taught that Jesus “descent” was not to the punishment area of Hell, but into an adjacent area called paradise, where the saints of the Old Testament were awaiting their redemption. Proper theology states that paradise is now empty, as its residents are now in heaven.
This is the idea that Jesus not only bore our sins legally, but actually became a sinner. Kenneth Hagin and his disciple Kenneth Copeland echo this heretical teaching. Hagin bragged that with his knowledge of the Gospel that he, or any born-again Christian, could have done what Jesus did by dying on the cross, going to hell, and defeating the Devil, and then being raised by the power of the Holy Ghost. Kenneth Copeland echoes this outrageous statement nearly word for word.
Jesus was able to "bear our sins" because he was sinless. The substitutionary atonement, which this teaching effectively denies, is impossible without a sinless sacrifice. The lamb must be without spot or blemish goes the foreshadowing in the Old Testament. If Jesus became a sinner, then the atonement was impossible. This also violates Jesus' statement "It is finished".
The Devil isn't in hell, nor has he ever been. Isaiah clearly states that Lucifer fell from heaven to earth, and is SENTENCED to Hell. He is the prince and power of the air. Satan's kingdom is all around us, not down in some underworld.
This variation of Jesus going to hell would make a good Indiana Jones movie. It says God made some magical keys that nobody, not even God, could get into Hell without, and the Devil stole them and has been hiding out in Hell ever since. God then had to sneak His son into Hell (masquerading as a sinner, actually not a masquerade, He became a sinner for us) and descended to do battle with the Devil in true Hollywood style, and took the magical keys back, and made a no doubt dramatic exit.
Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism) taught the same thing, that there are some actual spiritual keys. He claimed Jesus gave him the keys, so that authority over death and hell was delegated to him, and he naturally passed that on the to the Mormon Church.
In reality there are no physical or spiritual keys, Jesus was talking symbolically about His authority, that He had conquered death legally for us with His substitutionary atonement and purchased the right to resurrect us in sinless immortal bodies. If you wish to assign a more direct meaning to the keys, they are simply the Gospel itself. We have received the keys, that is the Gospel, that we pass onto others via preaching the word, and thus people are saved. And it is this activity (evangelism) that the Devil cannot stand against, since God backs it with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Allow me to describe Brownsville Assembly of God meetings in general terms:
The man of god stands up front and passes out the "power" to the congregation. "Take it" he says (Hinn and many others do this). People fall down in waves. People come up front and are knocked down on command from the Pastor, who obviously enjoys knocking people over with just a wave of his hand. In Brownsville people are actually picked up and dropped on pews now, as the violence slowly escalates. Lots of spontaneous laughter and crying is heard. A lot of speaking in tongues is also heard, although interpretation (mandated in the Bible) is noticeably absent. Some people fall on the floor and cannot get up for extended periods of time. Some can't remember what happened during these times. Many experience euphoric feelings. Others bark and growl and make animal noises. We even have clucking like chickens. Still others are "drunk in the Spirit", slurred speech and difficulty walking are evident. People report electricity moving up and down their bodies. Spontaneous uncontrolled body movements (jerking and twitching) are evident in many people.
Nearly identical manifestations are taking place at the Toronto blessing also, but with a little more emphasis on laughter.
All (I repeat ALL) of these manifestations are relatively new to the body of Christ, within the last two hundred years. And only slain in the Spirit and tongues go back more than a handful of years. All are attributed to God.
However, Kundalini awakening services in India have been reporting these same identical manifestations for as far back as history records. Mormons also describe the Spirit as feeling like electricity.
So are these manifestations of God? Doubtful.
In fact, physical manifestations (that aren’t divine healing or casting out of demons) have little to do with God, it is a changed heart (the fruits of the spirit), and loyalty to sound doctrine (love of God’s word) that are the true works of the Holy Spirit.
Let's explore in a little more detail however. How many of these manifestations have solid Biblical support as something the Body of Christ should regularly experience?
None. Even tongues were unheard of for the first 1800 years after the apostles died. It appeared sporadically but was always associated with heretical groups. Not much has changed unfortunately. Glossolalia (gibberish) has long been associated with cults however.
Brownsville (Pensacola), Toronto, Rodney Howard Browne, and Kundalini manifestations are identical in every respect.
God is the spirit of love, peace, joy, and a sound mind. He is not the spirit of uncontrolled noises, involuntary twitchings, electric tinglings, euphoric emotions, violent throwing people back and down. Even “slain in the Spirit” has only very weak support in the New Testament. Many people who were forced to fall down in the New Testament were being judged by God because they were doing something evil. None of them became drunk or mentally impaired. The other examples of falling down in God’s presence appear to be voluntary in the Bible, not forced. You cannot prove it is forced anyway, and the complete lack of any evidence that this was a regular practice in the New Testament provides sufficient evidence to reject slain in the spirit as a commonplace thing we are to seek after.
On the day of Pentecost Peter told the people they were not drunk, we have turned this around to assuming they were, just drunk on another agent. The Holy Spirit is not a free alcohol replacement. If He was the bars would empty, and the churches would fill faster than you can shake a stick.
I debated with myself for a long time before I decided to put this one in. I fact it took a lot of research to come to a conclusive opinion that is based on scripture and is a decent argument. Earlier versions of this document did not have this section because I had not as yet discovered such an argument (which means I had come to no conclusion myself on the issue). Even the strongest arguments here are weak. I cannot answer why God left this doctrine a little unclear, but He did, and so we should not be dogmatic about it.
The following website has a complete list of all scriptures related to the Holy Spirit, both baptism and infillings in the New Testament:
A careful examination of these scriptures will reveal the following truths:
· The Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment of salvation.
· Multiple infillings subsequent to salvation are possible and we are encouraged to seek them.
Pay close attention to 1 cor 12 13:
co1 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be
Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink
into one Spirit.
Note that that baptism of the Holy Spirit essentially places us into the body of Christ, a simple clear text that we have missed.
John Calvin (one of the greatest theologians to ever live) essentially held this view, he stated (as does the above website) that the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at the moment of regeneration, and infillings can occur many times afterwards.
In short we Pentecostals have our terminology backwards, the “Baptism” is the moment of regeneration. Walking with the spirit, being filled with the Spirit, is a daily dynamic that can ebb and flow in the life of a believer.
This also refutes any theology that says there is a second work of grace, meaning that a later definitive empowering moment is expected to occur in the life of a believer.
Attempts to definitively associate speaking in tongues with such an empowering moment is also fallacious regardless of when you think the Baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs.
It is however possible to distinguish between those Christians full of the Holy Spirit, and those who are not. We would judge such difference based on our twofold measure of Christian maturity, the fruits of the spirit, and their knowledge of sound doctrine. The Bible itself makes this distinction when the New Testament Church chose new leaders for example, they chose men full of the spirit and of the grace of God, which is a clear reference to their gracious character and knowledge of God (sound doctrine).
Carlton University did the following study:
"Sixty subjects who had never spoken in tongues or heard anyone else do it were used in an experiment. After two brief training sessions including audio- and videotaped samples of tongues speaking, all the subjects were asked to attempt to speak glossolalia for thirty seconds. Every subject in the test was able to speak passable glossolalia throughout the thirty-second test, and seventy percent were able to speak fluently."
Note there is no mention of them being Christians, or laying on of hands, or anything like that. They were just asked to imitate gibberish, and were easily able to do so. My two-year old son could do the same thing when he was practicing his language skills.
This sums up what I think comprises the vast majority (if not all) of tongues today. We do what a two year old can do, and call it holy. It may be good for a laugh or two in Heaven, but it has no spiritual significance.
The best description of tongues is that it is a spiritual gift like any other, some have it and some don’t. The arguments against any tongues occurring today are pretty good, but they are not iron-clad in my opinion. About one out of a thousand people (if that) who speak in tongues speak in an intelligible language that they themselves don’t know. Since intelligible vs. unintelligible languages in the Bible don’t seem to take priority one over the other, I think that is probably a good estimate for how many people actually speak in tongues today if in fact any still do.
The following link develops tongues in great detail, the development is quite good, as it puts tongues into Biblical perspective:
They have an online support group for recovering ex-charismatics, which I joined. Read some of their testimonies and you will laugh and cry. We talked about how our initial prayer languages often sounded pathetic, so we practiced, some added Spanish or foreign language elements to our “prayer language” to make it sound better so we would not be ashamed to speak it in public. One person added Chinese sounding phonics to it (that was me). Another sprinkled their tongues with English words such as “Christ”, “Glory”, and other things so it would sound more like a real conversation. Another admitted to trying to vary the consonants and vowels used so that it did not sound so repetitive. We have all done things like this. The email threads were actually quite funny as we admitted some of the foolish things we had done.
I have had people who believe in tongues confide in me they were ashamed of their prayer language and it took six months or more of practice before they were willing to speak it in public. In my opinion these things are not of God, they are silliness, nothing more. Notice this is a fairly charitable position. You can speak in tongues, be wrong about it, and still go to heaven. The idea that tongues are of the Devil, and that all tongues speakers are going to hell is an unscriptural overreaction in my opinion.
And to those who think that speaking in tongues is the true mark of a spiritual Christian, I can still do it.
Have you ever heard it said "He who has had an experience is never at the mercy of someone with an argument"? I used to believe this too. R.W. Shambach said it all the time, and he meant that miracles prove that miracles did not cease when the last apostle died.
I believe it is true that miracles did not cease (although I think you could argue that the gifts did), but if you trust in experiences and elevate them over the truth of God's word then you are in idolatry and will follow every deception and lying wonder of Satan. Trusting in experiences is another form of Gnosticism.
Note: Mr. Schambach also fails to make the distinction that the gifts could have ceased without necessarily miracles ceasing.
I bought a book by Mark Virkler called “Communion with God.” In this book he taught me to relax my mind and listen for the voice of God (meditation essentially, which is also called centering down by the New Age). He taught Journalling (writing down what you hear), active visualization (daydreaming in the name of Christ), and writing down your dreams too (which means keeping a pad of paper by your bed since you have to write them down immediately or you will forget). Initially I embraced this wholeheartedly and with great excitement. I did all these things but the active visualization. I just couldn’t bring myself to do that since I daydreamed a lot when I was younger and he was essentially describing daydreaming for Christ in my opinion. Virkler describes Jesus regularly speaking to him in his visualizations, imparting many revelations. In my daydreams I was easily able to create fictional characters that were life-like in their personalities and attributes. The last thing I wanted was an imaginary Jesus of my own making.
Initially excited about his teachings (except the visualization part), I bought another book by Virkler called “Am I Being Deceived.” In it He compares his viewpoint with two others, the Pharisees (he described them as cessationists who deny all supernatural forms of communication who have refused the spirit and are thus unsaved – I disagree with that assessment), and the New Agers (who embrace all forms of spiritual communication but lack discernment in who they communicate with and are also unsaved – I agree with that assessment).
He acknowledged that his techniques closely parallel the New Age, but claimed that since we contact the true, it is not a problem. His argument was essentially, I know it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, but trust me it isn’t really a duck. This argument didn’t work for me, and was actually the straw that broke the camel’s back. I started studying sound doctrine – theology - soon after I read that book.
I later found out that Virkler is a C. Peter Wagner disciple, and believes in the training of the prophetic - you too can be a false prophet with a bit of training. Virkler runs a University (Christian Leadership University), and has courses training you in the prophetic, in healing, and he even has one on starting Christian multi-level-marketing schemes. The belief is that you are expected to use your faith to get rich.
The Bible says the Holy Spirit indwells us, brings all things into remembrance (He speaks through the Word), and is our counselor, and comforter. Several of the gifts of the Spirit impart knowledge. This is enough to convince me that God still speaks today, but I reject all New Age meditation or visualization techniques to encourage God to speak. I would keep an eye on your dreams however, since that is prophesied as part of what God will do in the end times.
However I journalled enough wacky dreams to learn that you can reconcile anything to a Christian message if you are flexible in assigning symbols. You can also reconcile them to Italian food, or the movie you saw last week, so you are on your own with this one. In the end I think your best bet is to “ti2 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
I am not saying that God doesn’t send us dreams, but you will need to depend upon Him to send you the discernment to tell if they are from Him. And if you hunger and thirst after those things, believing it will make you a better Christian, or more spiritual, then you are ripe for deception because you are already in deception.
Mr. Virkler had one really good point. Any life changing revelation you receive, such as “I have been called to preach to the Eskimos in Alaska,” or the ever popular “I am going to be mightily used of god”, should be run by a fellow Christian or two that you trust before you act upon it. I have heard many such prophecies, and if I were to quote some of them you would be rolling on the floor laughing (ROFL in chat rooms) at the pretentious, self-glorifying nature of what passes for prophecy in some parts of the church today.
Also, a little note for all those people who get words from the Lord and deliver them to other people in His name: If you have ever been wrong, or even one of your words or visions has failed in even the tiniest way, you are under the condemnation of a false prophet until you repent of such behavior. You see, one false prophecy, and you are proved to be in imagination or divination, listening to your own vain imaginings or a familiar spirit rather than the Spirit of God. And it isn’t like you can repent of just the one false prophecy, you have to repent of the whole self-glorifying prideful mentality of “I-am-a-prophet god-speaks-through-me” or you haven’t repented at all.
Consider, which is a worse sin, to die in unrepentant sexual sin, or to die as an unrepentant false prophet? Think about it from God’s perspective and I think you will get the idea.
Speaking as one who has made a few dramatic prophecies that came true, and some more that failed miserably later, and ultimately repented of the whole thing, it is easier human-nature-wise, to admit that so-and-so is a false prophet, than for us to admit that about ourselves.
I have seen many so-called prophecies that came from very smart people, whose intuitions were right on most of the time. Such people would be doing the body of Christ a favor if they dispensed such utterances under the name of god-given wisdom (thus fallible but still useful), rather than the hubris of claiming it is God speaking through them.
This teaching isn’t as popular as the others, but it lurks in corners waiting to snare the unsuspecting. It caught me.
The basic tenet is that Christians can have demons inside them, and you have a lifetime battle to keep them out. Basically you are a hotel with a revolving door, and every time you sin (or doubt) more demons come into you, so you have to constantly be casting them out to stay above water. Only living a sin-free life will allow you to completely kick all the demons out of you, which means of course you can never kick them all out. Finney would be jealous he didn’t think of this one.
You need to study demonology, learn about groups of demons and how to cast thousands of demons out of individuals because demons are everywhere.
I bought heavily into this teaching for a while, and cast demons out of myself and my son for an extended period of time. The sum total of it: not a whole lot changed. I did give up a few idols (and praise the Lord for that), but no manifestations of any demons coming out of me resulted. There was one questionable event with my son, but if the deliverance teachers are right I kicked that thing all over the place with my powerful prayers of devil bustin’ power.
Other doctrines come into play here. Generational curses are in force today, and are demon energized. You have to break them by the force of your prayers; they don’t go away automatically when you get saved, the demons hang around until you cast them out. And anytime you sin the demons come right back in and you have to cast them out all over again.
Sin is suddenly a scary thing, it is dancing with the Devil, a sure-fire method to make sure your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are demon possessed from the moment of conception (their definition of a generational curse). Anything in your home that looks like a cursed object (pigs, frogs, owls, monsters) is a cursed object and gives demons the legal right to enter you and your descendants and wreak havoc. All sickness is caused by demons and your job is to learn how to overcome them and stop them from harming your family. Learn the laws of all the different curses and how they manifest so you can constantly be on the alert to break them by asserting your authority and power as a Christian.
Books filled with long lists of the names of demons to help you cast them out by the correct name can be had. The Devil sure does keep himself up to date too, since most of those demonic names come from modern psychology and medicine. The good news is you have the power now, to kick the Devil out of your life. Again, and again, and again.
Your entire life is now expressed as a fight against the Devil, properly trained you can overcome all disease, personality defects, and other “curses” authorized by God, but performed by the Devil and his hordes. Attack the Devil before he attacks you. Word curses are real, when you speak negatively about yourself or others you unleash hordes of demons, and people can do that to you so you need to break word curses as part of your daily prayers. All this without any dead chickens or pins in dolls. We humans sure are powerful creatures, casually unleashing the powers of hell all over the place with our divinely empowered tongues.
There are some scriptural shreds of evidence upon which this house of cards is built, but there are enough holes in it that it falls apart under sound Biblical analysis. There is no basis to assign Old Testament curses (from breaking God’s laws) as legal rights for demonic torment. Neither is there a basis to assign all physical and emotional problems to demonic activity. Nor is there a basis to assign the kind of power to our words that this teaching does. It is essentially the Word of Faith heresy in reverse; we have the power to create our own reality in the negative.
We do have anecdotal (not Biblical) evidence to suggest that past involvement in the occult does tend to make one more likely to have a demon. But the idea that our words carry power that grant demons legal rights to harass others is also without Biblical merit. We have plenty of evidence that demonic curses do exist, but that is part of the deception to make cultists believe they have power when in fact they are slaves of the Devil. So when a demon attacks after a curse was spoken, it is not because the curse was spoken, but because they are attempting to sustain the deception in the eyes of both the cultists and Christians who will fall for it.
There are some amazing stories of demonic manifestation out there, and I know personally people who have those kinds of testimonies. Many (but not all) can be explained as essentially demonic deception. There is so much false Gospel floating around that a lot of professing Christians aren’t. And the unsaved can be taken at will by the Devil and his demons (2 tim 2:26), thus the charade is easily propagated by the Devil and his hordes of con artists.
That said, if a legitimate manifestation does occur, we do have authority over demons to drive them out and away from us (that is the only authority we are given in the Bible). I know a person who was knocked down and held on the floor by a demon. She screamed in fear, when in fact she was in no danger. She suffered no adverse effects in fact. So I exhort people not to fear. If a demon was attacking your kid, would you stop it? God our Father is no different, and He makes many explicit promises to protect us and care for us. God is not forgetful of His promises even if we are, nor has He lost His omnipotence that He can’t keep us from a demon or two without assistance from us.
Much of modern demonology (lore about demons) comes from the testimony of demons themselves and the surrounding manifestations. People have been caught faking this stuff too, just to yank the preacher’s chain because they thought it was funny, a practical joke. The Bible forbids us to listen to familiar spirits, and I believe that includes listening to what demons say during deliverance sessions. I have read testimonies of demons that contradict each other within the same testimony, and yet the people quoting those testimonies point to a part of it as if it was a really important revelation. Don’t believe it.
Other false ideas are that all bad things come from the Devil, and that all judgments from God are really God allowing the Devil to work in your life, therefore all the curses of the Old Testament are legal rights for the Devil to torment you. Besides denying the sovereignty of God, this flies in the face of the work of the cross where we are justified. How can you believe that Jesus paid for our sins but still gives the Devil a legal right to torment us? I can’t find a single warning about this in the New Testament anywhere.
However the Bible does teach that the Devil and his hordes of demons are real. They seduce, lie, and trick people into doing all kinds of rotten things both to themselves and others. For the Christian Paul clearly tells us the battle for sanctification is against the flesh. The devil and his tempters lead us away by our own lusts. The major warnings about demons in the New Testament are about the spirit of anti-Christ (false doctrine), lying signs and wonders, and seductive doctrinal errors introduced by demons. Strongholds are described as lies in our minds we hang onto. We are also told that persecutions, trials and tribulations will be our lot and that some of these things are from the Devil, but they are allowed partly for the purpose of perfecting our Godly character.
But for the Christian, quick fixes and short cuts to sanctification don’t exist. Real results of deliverance are obtained when we repent of old ways of thinking and are transformed by renewing our minds with the word of God. This process also only occurs by God’s grace, attempts to work it up in our own strength inevitably fail. This process entails pain also, which is why the quick fix teachings are so attractive.
It is also arguable if a Christian can have an indwelling demon at all. I am in the camp that it is not really possible, oppression (voluntary yielding control of part of one’s life to a demon is possible, but not so-called possession). I say again that the lore we have on demons today is built from testimonies and testimonials, often from demons themselves. Biblical basis is completely absent. If you want to get the Devil off your back the following verse will do it for you:
jam 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
This idea, which originated around the time of Branham, gives us the modern worship service. Remember, church services were liturgical for centuries, and this includes the reformation church. David however engaged in relatively enthusiastic praise and worship. Davidic tabernacle worship “restores” this form of worship to our church services.
This is not a core doctrine, and I have no problem with how church services are conducted today, but some false expectations accompany this teaching that should be addressed.
Unfortunately, the idea behind Davidic tabernacle worship is that we reach up and pull down the presence of God. You will hear it said that if God doesn’t show up to our church services that there is no point. In other words some subjective “atmospheric” expectation is used to judge whether a church service is good or not. This idea sows dissatisfaction, and levies accusations against pastors, worship leaders, and even congregations when none is warranted. Somehow we hold them or us responsible for calling down the presence of God.
And we incorrectly define that presence by “feelings” or worse, by lying signs and wonders such as a cloud (representing the shekinah glory) for example. Somehow convincing or coercing God to “show up” has other peripheral expectations such as an increase in salvations, or conviction of sin, or healings (all these manifestations are routinely promised by the false teachers on TBN). True, these are things that God does, but in no way does the Bible ever suggest that we can increase these manifestations by the strength or force of our worship. You can see how this thinking ties into all the other false teachings that we hear today.
You will hear forms of this thinking applied to small groups, “soaking prayer”, “bask in God’s presence”, and so on. All these things tie into a false conception of what God’s presence means, and all tie back to false thinking that spiritual gymnastics will “give us more power”, make us more spiritual, or increase the chances of our prayers getting answered. This is an entirely occult concept and has no place in Christianity.
The Bible is clear that God is already here, and dwells within us. God answers prayer the same way He saves us, by grace through faith. No gymnastics or showmanship are required.
The Bible does say that there is one thing that will be accompanied by signs and wonders, and that is the preaching of the Gospel, ergo sound doctrine. One of the few valid (in my mind) testimonies I have heard of a demon manifesting was in a Bill Gothard seminar (I hear he is a Calvinist but don’t know for sure). The demon caused extreme pain and difficulty breathing in the individual (a friend of mine) while they were in the seminar. It was cast out by a fellow church member, she didn’t know what it was (being a new convert), but she felt the thing go whoosh out of her head, the pain departed immediately, and it never returned.
I have gone through scripture and said a lot about what we should not do, but I would like to talk a little about what we should do. So let us go one small step forward in history from when scripture was completed, and examine the focus of the early post-apostolic era Christians. The records that survive show no preoccupation with miracles or seeking after such things. They taught a moral life, the sinfulness of man, the Deity of Christ, and they spent their time praying, preaching the Gospel, fighting heresy, and loving one another.
Read the document "The Didache". Its full name is "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the Nations", it was shortened to "The Teaching". "Didache" is Greek for "Teaching". Written in 120 AD by the Apostle's students, it is not a theological document, but a practical guide for Christian living, that was the focus of the early Church, living day-to-day by following Christ.
They also followed a liturgical style of service after the Jewish services, where a bit of scripture was read every meeting. If you attended all meetings eventually all of scripture would be read to you (this took a year or two). Liturgical denominations follow this practice today. However, they did not have all the trappings, pageantry, and false doctrines associated with the dead religion of the Middle Ages. Compared to the scriptural famine in many of today’s pulpits however, even a liturgical reading of the word would be an improvement.
Some things of note, the Didache does not mention tithing, but it does say we should support our teachers and workers in Christ. It mentions sin (it lists them like anger, pride, etc.). It actually spends a lot of time listing sins. It does not mention Hell but says that those who follow sin are following the way of death, which is pretty clear. It contrasts that with the way of life, which includes love, kindness, forgiveness of one's enemies, and humility. It mentions hospitality for strangers, but says nobody should be put up for more than three days if they will not work, for such a one seeks to make gain of Christ. It also condemns abortion, but not a single reference to miracles occurs. Nor is anything resembling spiritual warfare mentioned. Nor is tongues, or any supernatural manifestation of any kind. No breakthrough miracle harvests or any silly baloney like that. J
The early Church was a praying church. It is clear they understood that Paul’s epistles command us to pray continually. But no mention of name-it-and-claim-it can be found, or speaking scripture in authority either.
Another major focus of the early Church was fighting heresy. Many writings survive on this topic. They convened councils and condemned heresy on a regular basis because the Devil was working overtime to create them. A study of the heresies they condemned is fairly enlightening. The Devil is still working overtime today, but gone are the councils defending the faith, partly because the new heresies are generally rehashed old heresies. However Christians defending the faith still exist today and are vigorously defending sound doctrine in the gentle gracious spirit that marks a true Christian.
Doctrine matters. It is the only method for distinguishing a false teacher from a true one. Someone teaching false doctrine and performing many signs and wonders is still false, and the signs and wonders likely are too.
References for doctrinal research are at the end of this document.
The following verses accurately describe what is going on today:
pe2 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
pe2 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
pe2 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Notice that every part of those verses is being fulfilled by our false teachers today. The parts about covetousness, merchandise, and denying the Lord particularly stand out in my mind.
If you find yourself asking, "but where then is the fun in Christianity, you just took all the guts out of it". Yes, I took all the guts out of the self-seeking, self-aggrandizing, ego-boosting, pleasure-seeking, sheep-fleecing, false Christianity. Check your heart, do you love Jesus and His Word, or all that other junk? True Christianity is a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice rather than self-seeking and self-fulfillment. It is also a life of peace, joy, and love.
I also want to briefly state what spiritual growth in the Bible really is (it is not about ever increasing power, blessing, and self-satisfaction). Biblical spiritual growth has two facets, the first is the development of Godly character, generally by trials, and always by God’s grace and never by your own power. The second facet of spiritual maturity is learning God’s Word so that you can rightly divide the Word of Truth. In other words, we must learn sound doctrine to grow in Christ.
The following websites go into much more detail on the topics I have covered here and they are the research behind this reference (most of the ideas come from them and I want to give them full credit), my main contribution is to try to provide a summary that can be handed to someone in one compact package, and to add my testimony in various places. Let me affirm that I heard the false teachers say virtually all of the outrageous statements the following sites claim (I watched TBN for fifteen years, thinking I was more “spiritual” for doing so).
www.letusreason.org - the most comprehensive one I have yet seen. Goes through the major doctrines of Word of Faith, Pentecostalism, Latter Rain, false prophecy. They concentrate on distinguishing the true from the false. He also has a booklist for anyone who wants to study sound doctrine and apologetics.
www.discernment.org - an ex-Charismatic preacher debunks many of the major doctrines. This man actually felt power flow out of him, was able to knock people down and so on. Hear his testimony and listen to the truth. He also gives the chilling details of Kundalini and the striking parallels to the Pensacola and Toronto revivals.
www.issuesetc.org - This site is run by a Lutheran theologian. Read the articles in the archives section. His dictionary of theological terms and descriptions of past heresies the Church faced are quite informational. See the journal section.
www.deceptioninthechurch.com - A site that is just a jumping off point to articles on other sites. Over 1,000 links are on the site. The author is a theologian and is quite prolific. He is slightly Arminian in his writings, but is pretty good about most things. His focus on debunking the false teachings is why I recommend his website here.
After you have deprogrammed yourself, then you can embark on a study of sound doctrine. Links to help you start are provided on my website.