The Athanasian Creed

11 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – Sept 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 9 – Athanasian Creed – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Athanasian Creed

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Before reading this creed which is one of the accepted ecumenical creeds of the holy apostolic Catholic Church around the world since it was formulated, a little historical insight is necessary.

Bishop of Alexandria; Confessor and doctor of the church; born c.296; died 2 May, 373. Athanasius was the greatest champion of Catholic belief on the subject of the Incarnation that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of “Father of Orthodoxy”, by which he has been distinguished every since. (1)

At the Council of 326, Athanasius of Alexandria was elected to succeed the aged Alexander, and various heresies and schisms of Egypt were denounced. In 340, one hundred bishops met at Alexandria, declared in favour of Athanasius, and vigorously rejected the criticisms of the Eusebian faction at Tyre. At a council in 350, St. Athanasius was replaced in his see. In 362 was held one of the most important of these councils. It was presided over by St. Athanasius and St. Eusebius of Vercelli, and was directed against those who denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit, the human soul of god, and God’s divinity. Mild measures were agreed on for those apostate bishops who repented, but severe penance was decreed for the chief leaders of the major heresies…The so-called Athanasian Creed dates from well after Athanasius’s death and draws upon the phraseology of Augustine’s De trinitate. (2) ♦

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02035a.htm on 09-06-09

2. “Catholic” simply means “universal” and does not refer to the “Roman Catholic Church.”

3. Obtained from Wikipedia.org on 09-06-09.

The Athanasian Creed

1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; [Catholic means universal and does not refer to Roman Catholicism].

2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

3. And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

14. And yet they are to three almighties, but one almighty.

15. So the Father is God, the Son is god, and the Holy Spirit is God;

16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.

21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believes rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

34. Who, although He is god and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ

35. One, not be conversion of the Godhead into flesh but by taking of that manhood into God.

36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

39. He ascended int heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;

40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. And shall give account of their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.





I Am OUTRAGED

19 09 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 11 – I AM OUTRAGED – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

I AM OUTRAGED

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                                By Robert S. Liichow

Outrage Defined

indignation a feeling of righteous anger Shock: strike with disgust or revulsion re: “the evangelists scandalous behavior of his ministry shocked the church” desecrate: violate the sacred character of a place or language: “desecrate a cemetery”, “violate the sanctity of the church.” “profane the name of God.” (1)

As an individual I generally run on a fairly even keel emotionally as much as any adult dealing with being ADHD. Even with my disability I strive to live a disciplined and organized life in may areas including emotionally. Yet within about a weeks time four incidents have taken place that literally burned my bacon in such a righteous manner that I have not even felt a twinge of remorse over what I have written or the way I felt at the time of writing you this newsletter. Some of these outrages you may be familiar with, others may not have hit your “radar” yet. In any event, consider this the “Outrageous Issue” of Truth Matters.

Ted Haggard

The title of this months article reflects a bumper sticker on the car in front of us as my wife and I pulled out of the movie theater a few nights ago. It sums up perfectly my emotional state concerning what is transpiring within the Church. There are four specific “cases” each of which has stirred up my righteous indignation and I hope that you are equally appalled over them too. Before I drop the hammer on these folks let me make it very clear that we are praying for all these individuals and the ripple effects their actions are having on their family, many Christians in the Body of Christ and the world’s view of the integrity of Christian leaders both morally and doctrinally.

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By this time you already know about the growing scandal concerning Haggard. If you are not aware of it then here is what has currently been brought to light. Ted Haggard was the senior pastor of New Life Church, a mega-church of 14,000 members in Colorado Springs, CO. He was the Presiding President of the National Association of Evangelical (NAE) which represent around thirty million evangelical Christians. He is a husband, a father of five children and a charismatic/sign-gift believer. In short, Haggard was a player in both the Church Growth Movement and conservative politics.

News of Haggard’s dismissal rocked the Christian world. Haggard was one of the evangelical movement’s most powerful leaders, and helped Colorado Springs earn the moniker of “evangelical Vatican.” He had the White House on speed dial, and Harper’s Magazine called New Life “the nation’s most powerful mega church.” Haggard had served as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization that represents more than 30 million evangelical Christians, until he resigned. (2)

It was the latter arena that brought to light his hidden sins. As you know America had an election Tuesday, Haggard was a staunch and vocal advocate against same-sex marriage. That stand is one I and DMI give a hearty “amen” to. The problem in Haggard’s case was that he had been living a double-life for at least three years according to his accuser, a homosexual prostitute whom Haggard is alleged to have been having sex with:

The scandal began Wednesday when a male escort in Denver said he had an ongoing sexual relationship with an evangelical leader. By later that day, Haggard had been named as that leader. (3)

Mike Jones is the homosexual escort who “outed” Haggard not only for his homosexuality but also Jones admitted that Haggard had used and bought methamphetamine from him. The reason Jones came forth at this point in time was because he thought, rightly so, that Haggard was being a hypocrite due to his vocal stance against homosexuality while being actively engaged in it!

What is outrageous to me is that when Haggard was confronted with the allegations Jones was making he lied about it! He is on record denying the charges. In one interview he acted like he had never even heard of Mike Jones. However, Mr. Jones has Haggard’s voice on a voice-mail (which is now available for the world to hear on the Internet). Then when pressed Haggard admitted that he had purchased crystal meth at some point but threw it away.

Finally more truth was revealed when his church leaders asked him to step down due to sexual immorality (the did not mention the drug abuse). It seems at this point that many, if not all, the charges made by Jones concerning Haggard are true.

What is equally outrageous to me is that Haggard’s case response echoes three other cases of homosexual immorality within the sign-gift segment of the Church. In December, 2001 Mr. Robert LIARdon was exposed for his ongoing homosexuality with the Youth Leader of his congregation. (4)

Three months later Robert Liardon was back preaching again. In February, 2004 Latter Rain false prophet Paul Cain was exposed for his life of homosexuality and alcoholism by fellow so-called restored prophets. Lastly, on September 18, 2004 the Los Angeles Times ran a story with allegations of homosexual behavior and drunkenness on the part of Paul Crouch Sr., the Founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN paid the accuser in Crouch’s case $450,000 in hush money as you may remember). (5)

In each of these cases, including Haggard, there are several outrageous similarities: (1) NONE of these men came forth voluntarily and confessed their sins. It was only when they were caught that any admission of guilt came forth. In the case of Mr. Crouch he denies to this day that any type of homosexual behavior went on, yet why then did TBN pay close to half a million dollars of donors money to the man making “false” charges? (2) Each of these leaders were and still are members of independent charismatic organizations which they ran. They had little to no genuine accountability to others around them or to any denominational affiliation. (3)The “Flip Wilson Defense” was invoked in LIARdon’s case and now Haggard’s. For those readers too young to remember the Flip Wilson Show, he had a segment where Mr. Wilson would appear in drag before a judge and say “the devil made me do it.” Here is how one of Haggard’s members cast this sordid situation:

Some people cast the situation as a struggle between good and evil and Haggard as the victim of a religious battle. “Satan may have won the battle, God will win the war. Satan is like a hunter. Satan goes for the big trophies. This is spiritual warfare, and Ted is under something the average person can’t fathom,” said Earl Beatty, who knelt at the church Saturday night. (6)

Note how Beatty views Haggard immorality —he is simply a victim of a Satanic onslaught. You, Mr. Haggard, are a “big trophy,” whereas if you or I fell into such immorality we’d be kicked to the curb immediately. I have seen this happen on numerous occasions within the sign-gift movement. The rules simply don’t apply to these superstars. If they get sick and die then it was the devil trying to stop the advancement of God’s kingdom. You or I get seriously ill and die, then we had some hidden sin or unbelief in our lives. They get divorce and remarried on other than biblical grounds; they are given a pass whereas other lowly sheep usually can’t even serve as a church janitor after a divorce.

Isn’t what the Bible teaches in James a little more plausible than Beatty’s comment regarding Haggard?

James 1:13-15: When tempted, no one should say “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Let me cite a few of the statements given by Mr. Haggard in a letter read to his congregation on Sunday, November 5, 2006: (1) Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.” The first thing on his list is that he asks his former congregation to continue to give MONEY!! Hopefully Haggard’s people have had their faith in Christ all along and thus naturally will stay faithful to Jesus.

(2) “Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.” Note the order, money first, then he confesses he is a sinner. Perhaps it took a fall from so lofty a height for him to realize something most biblically based Christians readily acknowledge, I.e. that they are sinners at the same time as being clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

(3) “Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life.” Why should we forgive Mr. Jones? He did the right thing in exposing Haggard. Most certainly Mr. Jones needs to be brought to faith in Christ and delivered from homosexuality. It seems to me like Haggard is saying something akin to “forgive the police officer that caught me.” He should have asked his former congregation to pray for the redemption of Mr. Jones, not for them to forgive him!! Lastly, in point  (4) Haggard tries to make lemonade out of lemons by saying Because of the negative publicity I’ve created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.” (8)

See, Haggard’s immorality is really a blessing in disguise because we (the Church) can now demonstrate to the world how our sick (Haggard) and wounded can be healed. I have news for Mr. Haggard the Church has been healing its sick and wounded for 2,000 yeas by the discipline and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Haggard has not committed the unpardonable sin and he has asked for forgiveness, even if it did not come voluntarily, and so it must be given to him. I will not doubt his contrition, for I cannot judge his heart. Nonetheless his immorality, denials, lies and attempts to deflect what he did from himself is outrageous in my eyes. Not to mention the blight he places on the rest of God’s genuinely faithful ministers who the world will tar with the same brush due to Haggard and all the other recent scandals rocking the Church.

We do pray for his restoration, but especially we pray for his wife who is understandably devastated, their five children who have to face their peers, the thousands of congregational members, many of whom were babes in Christ and without doubt “star stuck” by Haggard and may become shipwrecked due to his moral failure.

Haggard’s fall is simply more proof that allegedly possessing the sign-gifts does not make a person more anointed, powerful in Christ or holy. The fact of the matter is that the most egregious scandals to besmirch the name of our Lord have come mostly from “charismatic” believers such as Jim Bakker, Robert Tilton, Larry Lee, Jimmy Swaggert, Roberts LIARdon, Paul Cain and Paul Crouch. All of these leaders claimed to be special due to their alleged spiritual gifts, but in reality they were shown to have feet of clay, like the rest of us.

Katharine Jefferts Schori Installed As Head Of 2.3 Million Member American Episcopal Denomination

This is the next item to outage me, not because a female being ordained to lead a denomination, which in itself is unbiblical. Women have often been misplaced or taken place of authority within the Church since the false prophetesses Priscilla and Maximilla around 155 AD. It is not an outrage to see a woman holding the office of a bishop, which again biblically has been given to men. (9)

1 Tim. 3:2-5 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

What is outrageous is her blasphemous and heretical statements concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Before we get to her comments you should know that she endorses the ordination of homosexuals and also approves of same-sex marriages. (10) Do the following comments outrage you?

But in an interview this week with Associated Press, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori — who is to be installed on Saturday as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA — stated that Christians should not say that Jesus is the only way to God. “If we insist we know the one way to God,” she said, “we’ve put God in a very small box.” (11)

Jefferts-Schori says she views salvation as the healing of all Creation through holy living. “I understand salvation as being about the healing of the whole creation. Your part and my part in that is about holy living.” she offered. “As Christians we understand [salvation] as relationship with God in Jesus, but that does not mean that we’re expected to judge other people’s own commitments. (12)

Katharine Jefferts Schori preached her first sermon to the Episcopal Church General Convention as presiding bishop-elect, she announced, “Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creaton and we are his children. (13)

How a historical mainline Protestant denomination could elect a pro-gay female bishop who denies that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life is an outrage. If she is allowed to remain in that position then all those congregations that submit willingly to her authority can no longer be considered part of the Christian Church.

We disagree about many things within the Church visible, but one thing about our belief that cannot be compromised is that salvation is found through grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone and to God alone be all the glory. Any deviation from these obvious Apostolic doctrines places an individual, congregation or even denomination outside the orthodox Christian religion.

Katharine Jefferts-Schori, I do insist that Jesus Christ is in fact the only way to God simply because this is what God the Son Himself stated:

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 17:3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

JN 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

We can disagree over the mode of baptism, how often to celebrate the Lord’s Supper or which translation of the Bible to use…but salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone is NON-NEGOTIABLE. What part of Acts 4:12 is the presiding Bishop so obtuse to not understand? If this is the last thing I ever write you please understand this simple fact:

Two Statements Can Be Untrue, But Two Contradictory Statements Cannot Both Be True. “A” Is “A” And Cannot Be Non “A”

Truth by its very nature demands the exclusion of all other claims which contradict it. Either Jesus is who He said He was or He is notDMI chooses to draw a line in the sand right here. This issue right here is a make or break fellowship issue for us. I have a pastor friend in Detroit whose congregation is part of the American Episcopal Church, in fact, my mother-in-law’s funeral was held in his congregation’s sanctuary and if he agrees to submit to this heretic’s authority, then we will have no further fellowship, it is that serious to me personally and it breaks my heart but I and DMI fears God more than seeks the applause and friendship of man. The Apostle John is quite clear as is Paul in his letter to Titus on this matter and his admonition to Timothy:

2 John 1:9-11 Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your home, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deed.

Titus 3:10-11 A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

2 Tim 3:5: Having the form of godliness, but denying the power: from such stay away.

Many American Episcopal Churches have the outward form of godliness, I.e. they sing the hymns, pray, follow some form of liturgy, but deny the power of God which is found in the proclamation of the Gospel (see Rom. 1:16) by teaching that there is another pathway to eternal life apart from faith alone in Jesus.

As outrageous a stance as this woman has taken it is gratifying to report that several other bishops in the United States are appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury seeking to come under his authority. Other American Episcopalians have placed themselves under the spiritual oversight of the African Archbishop. Both of these Archbishops represent conservative wings of the Anglican faith. The African Archbishop being the more conservative of the two, but neither one accepts homosexual ordination nor agrees with the comments of Katharine Jefferts-Schori. Please join with us in prayer that the American Episcopal Church will come to its senses and reconsider whom they’re currently elected and replace with a brother who at least abides by the original confessional stance of the Episcopalian Church. If they do not remove her, then let her and those who follow her be anathema to you.

The “Father” Fenton Fiasco

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The first two attacks on the Church that outraged me (and I hope at least concern you very deeply) are issues that possibly touch closer to your home than my third “outrage.” This one is far more personal to me in my journey from heresy to Christian orthodoxy. John Fenton was previously a confessional evangelical pastor within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). As of Sunday 11-05-06, he had left the LCMS to join himself to the “Orthodox Church.” By Orthodox I mean as in the “Eastern Orthodox” branch of the Church. You might be saying to yourself, “ok, so what is the big deal? Didn’t Frankie Schaffer do the same thing after his illustrious father, Francis Schaffer died?” Some of you may be thinking “well aren’t Lutheran’s just Kissing-cousins of Roman Catholicism and the Eastern/Greek/Russian Orthodox Church just the stepbrothers of Roman Catholicism?” There is no short succinct answer to these questions. Let me just say that the Evangelical Lutheran Church (14) is not doctrinally related in many significant ways to the Roman Catholicism, the various Eastern Churches or the various Reformed and Protestant denominations. You’ll have to do your own sleuthing on this matter to see the clear distinctions between these branches of the visible Church. That said, confessional Lutherans readily and joyfully admit that God has His children scattered hither, thither and you, i.e. biblical Lutherans do not view themselves as the only genuine believers, nor do we consider the Evangelical Church to be the only true visible Body of Christ on earth.

What is outrageous about brother Fenton is that he is an intelligent man with a solid conservative seminary education; in fact, he is a graduate of Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN. He has served as a pastor within the Missouri Synod for eleven years and as of October 29, 2006 he resigned as pastor at Zion Evangelical-Church of Detroit to join the Orthodox Church of America (OCA). I will cite statements he made in his resignation letter:

However, I am convinced that the Book of Concord contains defective or deficient doctrines not in accord with the faith of the apostles. In simple terms, these deficiencies include the acceptance of an amended Nicene Creed, the notion that Jesus died to appease His Father’s wrath, a man-centered understanding of the church, the denial of prayers to the saints, and the idea that the liturgy is a man-made product. (15)

No Lutheran seminary professor or pastor I have met (and I have met quite a few over the last several years) proclaim the Book of Concord to be infallible. The LCMS does teach, believe and confess that the teachings within the Book of Concord do accurately represent biblical doctrine and orthodox Christianity. It is however never placed on the same level as the Holy Bible, nor are its contents ever appealed to over the plain teachings of the Bible.

Naturallly, the OCA, like all branches of the Eastern Church, disagrees with the western understanding of the Nicene Creed. Here is the argument in a nutshell (more or less):

The Nicene Creed introduced the word “homoousious” or “ consubstantial” meaning “of one substance.” This word was not invented at the council Eusebius writes that some of the “most learned and distinguished of the ancient bishops had made use of consubstantial in treating of the divinity of the Father and the Son. (16)

The Nicene Creed, also called the Nicaeco-Constantinopolitan Creed, is a statement of the orthodox faith of the early Christian church in opposition to certain heresies, especially Arianism. These heresies, which disturbed the church during the forth century, concerned the doctrine of the trinity and of the person of Christ. Both the Greek (Eastern) and the Latin (Western) church held this creed in honor, though with one important difference: the Western church insisted on the inclusion of the phrase “and the Son” (known as the “filioque”) in the article on the procession of the Holy Spirit; this phrase still is repudiated by the Eastern Orthodox church. In its present form this creed goes back partially to the Council of Nicea (AD 325) with additions by the Council of Constantinople (AD 381). It was accepted in its present form at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but the “filoque” phrase was not added until 589, However, the creed is in substance an accurate and majestic formulation of the Nicene faith. (17)

All of the historic creeds were developed by the early church fathers as a means of refuting heretics and their false teachings. A simple working definition of creeds is as follows: “A creed is a brief statement of faith used to enumerate important truths, to clarify doctrinal points and to distinguish truth from error. Creeds are usually worded to be easily memorized. The word creed comes from the Latin word credo, meaning, “I believe.” (18) Creeds are simply statements of what is commonly accepted as genuine Christian dogma. Virtually all Christian bodies do accept the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Creed of Chalcedon as well as the Athanasian Creed. (19) Apart from the Church of the Brethren, a small Anabaptist denomination whose statement is “no creed but the Bible,” this sounds pious, but actually demonstrates their ignorance of why the aforementioned creeds came into existence. It also highlights their misunderstanding regarding the place and use of the various creeds in liturgical confessional congregations.

What is the OCA (which is submitted to the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church) and Fenton’s issue with the Nicene creed as we confess it in the west? It boils down to western theologians adding a few words to clarify the Trinity because the original writing of the creed was a little fuzzy in this area:

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son” the debate concerned whether the Holy Spirit proceeded fro only the Father, or from the Father and the Son [filioque in Latin]. The phrase “and the Son” was not in the original Greek version of the Creed accepted at Nicaea and Constantinople. It was added in the Latin versions used in the Western (Roman) church in AD 589 as an attempt to clarify the relationship of the three person of the Trinity. The concern was that the original wording made Jesus the Christ subordinate to the Father, a view that the Western church felt endangered the doctrine of the Trinity. (20)

The Episcopalian Church has recently reverted back to the eastern version of the Nicene creed in their latest printing of the Book of Common Prayer (anything the Episcopalians do no longer surprises me).

Fenton’s next statement is equally outrageous to me when he blithely writes in opposition to “the notion that Jesus died to appease His Father’s wrath.” I am sure you have all seen the famous painting representing our Lord knocking on the outside of a cottage door? Now visualize that same painting with me standing there knocking on brother Fenton’s head!! Who does Fenton think Jesus was appeasing in His substitution death on the cross? The ransom view of the atonement is thankfully, not widely held these days (apart from the Word of Faith cultists). In this view Jesus died to purchase us back from Satan, this concept had its roots in the teaching of an early theologian named Origen, who was later condemned by the Church as a heretic not due to this teaching alone, but several others that went far beyond the pale of orthodoxy. (21) The problem inherent in Origen’s doctrine of the atonement deals with the issue of why does God owe Satan anything, especially His own Son?

The teaching of the LCMS and other truly evangelical bodies is that God sent His Son into the world (John 3:16) because of His great love for all humanity to suffer as our substitute, bearing the full brunt of God’s divine judgment that we owed due to our sin against a totally holy God. The words of an old hymn we used to sing, who name escapes me goes something like this: “I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe.” Jesus suffered and died in our place to appease the holy wrath of God by bearing in His own body the penalty for our sins. How brother Fenton could discard such an obvious truth of the Bible and embrace a heterdox view is to me outrageous.

Fenton’s next reason for departing from evangelical Christianity and going east is because Lutherans and others within Protestantism do not believe in praying to “saints.” He sure got that point of his letter correct. Lutherans and millions of other Christians do not pray to dead saints (including Mary) for one simple reason — THE BIBLE NEVER REMOTELY SUGGESTS THAT WE DO SO. Contrary to Fenton’s belief, the Bible teaches us the following:

Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 7:11 how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Luke 11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name your kingdom come.’

John 15:16…Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

These are merely four verses from the Gospel that I have cited. In each case we are told by God the Son to pray to the Father, to do so in the name of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t Jesus say “when you pray, ask my mother, who in turn will ask Me, and I will then ask the Father.” Or why don’t we read of any of the writing Apostles saying “when I have gone on to glory, I’ll be listening for your prayers in order to intercede on your behalf before the throne of Almighty God.” What we do learn from apostolic writings are directives such as these:

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not . And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Christ Jesus Himself makes intercession for us and as for me and my household we’d much rather have the Son of God standing in the gap for us than His mother, blessed woman that she was or even Peter and Paul. We are also told quite plainly that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:26). As God’s own dear children in Christ we are told by the author of the book of Hebrews to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace, not to ask some dead “saint” to do it for us.

This brings me to another “outrage” concerning brother Fenton’s deflection from the pure light of God’s Word into the shadows caused by man-made doctrine…the whole eastern (Roman Catholic too) stress on “saints.” Folks we are all saints, set apart by the blood of the spotless lamb of God. No one in the New Testament is especially noted as a “saint” and the rest of the Church is full of ain’ts. Such a distinction is never made biblically, that is the impure invention of sinful man.

I close this last outrage with Fenton’s comment that he is now seeking membership in the “true visible church” on earth, I.e. the Orthodox Church of America. This is very prideful on the part of Orthodox Churches to make such a statement. If words mean anything, then every other expression of the Church visible is in fact not the true visible Church, only the Orthodox Church holds that position!

Some reading this may ask why is it that some fellow believers turn to Roman Catholicism (RC) or Eastern Orthodox (EO) expressions and jettison their former evangelical beliefs. I think the answer is both complex and simple and may differ from case to case. Over all, I believe what takes place is that people get deceived into thinking that either expression is the closest thing to New Testament Apostolic Christianity. Both of these historic expressions make this claim regarding themselves, but it is not true. The Great Schism between Eastern and Western branches of the faith were due to doctrinal issues.

Here are a few beliefs brother Fenton now embraces as “Truth”:

About Mary: “The Mother of God is often referred to as the “New Eve,” for she said “yes” to God whereas the first Eve said “no” We believe that the Mother of God was sinless of her own free will, that she remains ever virgin, and that she is the “living tabernacle” of God inasmuch as her womb, as one hymn states, becomes “more spacious than the heavens” by carrying within it the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. (22)

Psal. 51:5 Behold, I was sharpen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Rom. 3:1 As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one:

1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

So much about Mary’s perpetual sinlessness and perpetual virginity (Matt. 13:53).

About Icons: Orthodox people kiss them, bow to them, pray to them, Why? Inseparable from the liturgical tradition, religious art is seen by Orthodox Christians as a form of pictorial confession of faith and a channel of religious experience. this central function of religious images (icons) – unparalleled in any other Christian tradition – received its full definition following the end of the iconoclastic movement in Byzantium (843). The Orthodox theologians, on the other hand, based their arguments on the specifically Christian doctrine of the incarnation: God is indeed invisible and indescribable in his essence, but when the Son of God became man, he voluntarily assumed all the characteristics of created nature, including describability. Consequently, images of Christ, as man, affirm the truth of God’s ral incarnation, Because divine life shines through Christ’s risen and glorified humanity, the function of the artist consists in conveying the very mystery of the Christian faith through art. Furthermore, because the icons of Christ and the saints provide direct personal contact with the holy persons represented on them, these images should be objects of “veneration” (pokiness), (22)

Regardless of tradition, where is this commanded in the Bible? Our Bible commands that we make no graven images (see Deut 7:5-6)

Praying to the Dead: The saints are regarded as those who have reliably finished the course of their lives in the path of theosis. Those that are known to the Church are glorified (canonized) by incorporating their lives into the Church’s liturgical life, a recognition of Christ in them. They are venerated (shown great respect and love) but not worshiped, for worship is due to God alone. In showing the saints this love and requesting their prayers, it is believed by the Orthodox that they thus assist in the process of salvation for others. (23)

The reformation came about because Dr. Martin Luther and others wanted to reform the church and bring it back into line with the Scriptures. He, nor any other reformer ever taught that we should seek the dead on behalf of the living.

Please re-read carefully the Book of Acts and you will not find a blueprint on how to “do” Church. God by His wisdom left us a great deal of latitude in how local congregations function administratively, musically, and yes, even liturgically. For instance nothing is mentioned about wearing a collar, robes or vestments with specific colors for specific seasons of the Church calendar. Nothing is mentioned about incense, how long a sermon is to be, should candles be used or not, length of a service. Nor are we commanded to have a specific number of deacons or elders. Must we sit in pews or are folding chairs ok? Should the pastor speak from behind a pulpit or walk around the congregation as he preaches? These and a whole host of other issues are considered adiaphorous (or non essentials) by the Evangelical Church but unfortunately some portions of the church have elevated these and other non-essential traditions to having equal status with the Holy Bible.

Pray for brother Fenton, I fear he has jumped out of the pan quite literally into the fire. He will find that the Orthodox Church of America is run by sinful men, just like the LCMS, the Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptist confederations, et al. There is no perfect Church on this earth, at least as long as you and I are alive.

Paula White

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While the prior events were taking place I was doing a bit of morning surfing on the television and happened across the Christian program sponsored by Paula White Ministries. Paula, when not screeching and running around a platform somewhere like a chicken on crack she has decided to try her hand at a sit-down television studio set similar to other televangelists. Some of you may not know anything about White, so allow me to cite her own PR from her website:

Paula White is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Preacher, Author, Humanitarian, Philanthropist, Teacher, TV Personality, Wife and Mother. Beneath her unassuming beauty, lies a gentle and girlish charm. (24)

Note the order of importance that she describes herself: (1) Life Coach, (2) Motivational Speaker, (3) Pastor, (4) Preacher, (5) Author, (6) Humanitarian, (7) Philanthropist, (8) Teacher, (9) TV Personality, (10) Wife and (11) Mother.

Her husband and children are last on the list. The first two are accurate, especially after what I witnesses on her television program.

What was outrageous to me was that her guests were no less than Mr. Donald Trump and his co-author, Robert Kioysaki hawking their latest best selling book entitled “Why We Want You To Be Rich.” In fact, Mrs. White had these two men for several days. During this time (paid for by Christian donors) she never once confronted them in a loving manner with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, i.e. that they were lost sinners in need of a Savior. What shocked and appalled me was that an internationally known woman “preacher” and a TBN regular would have two unrepentant heathens on her Christian program for the sole purpose of making money off the success of their book which she offers on her website ( anyone can buy it cheaper at Amazon.com). Trump has been married three times, after jettisoning wives number one and two on totally unbiblical grounds. He is well known for making much of his fortune from the gambling industry (casinos) and in short is a “prime candidate” for salvation. I do not know that much about his co-author, but he too is a multi-millionaire due to his other books and games he has created.

Brothers and sisters, there is something terribly wrong when someone who calls themselves a Christian and yet does not share the Gospel message with sinners sitting right next to them! Equally it is appalling to see irredeemable time wasted talking to men about how to get rich! The Bible plainly teaches that “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim 6:10). Sadly, Trump, Kioysaki and White’s goal seems to primarily self enrichment and not gaining wealth for the purposes plainly set forth in the Bible.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having wealth or making a great deal of money in this life time if biblical realities are kept in mind:

FIRST we all need to remember that it is God (not Trump’s schemes or our own abilities) that gives us the power to get wealth (Deut. 8:18). The purpose for our wealth is NOT to buy bigger homes, fancier cars, more expensive clothing or more jewelry. God gives people the ability to get wealth to establish His covenant. The Lord knew then as He does now, how easy it is for His people fallen human beings that we are to wrongly take credit for what we have and to grasp onto it tightly as if the money He has entrusted us with was as precious as life itself.

SECONDLY, We are to use a portion of our wealth to support (25) the work and workers in the ministry (1 Cor. 16:2). In fact, the Holy Spirit has Paul remind God’s people on two occasions that they need to set aside a portion of their finances for ministry support. (1 Cor. 9.9 , 1 Tim. 5:18). In another place he says that those who preach/teach the gospel ought to make their living by their ministry work (1 Cor. 9:14). This doctrine is echoed again by Paul to Timothy especially regarding leaders who teach (1 Tim 5:17). (26)

THIRDLY We all gain wealth to some degree through the work of our hands, some make more, others less that is not the issue. What is paramount to remember is the purpose of our work. Again, we do not work to get ahead of the “Jones” or keep up with the “Copelands.” No, the purpose of our labor is so that we may have something left to give to those who lack, I.e. the poor. (Acts 10:2, Eph. 4:28).

All of these outrages seemed to occur within a week of each other, it really has caused me to consider the seriousness of the times we are living in and the need to be all the more faithful in teaching truth & exposing error.

On behalf of Discernment Ministries International let me again express my heartfelt gratitude to our Lord for raising up those of you who faithfully support our ministry. We thank you for being both obedient to our Lord with your support and generous in your giving. It continues to be our prayer that everyone who reads Truth Matters, makes use of the website or uses our materials would give some amount each month. In all honesty, DMI really has need of more financial support.

With the passing of my mother-in-law things got backlogged on every front, both in ministry and our personal lives as a family. It may be a negative confession, but all of my immediate family not only went through a period of grieving, but my wife and I also suffered from a low grad depression, which thankfully has now lifted.

With this in mind please forgive the lateness of the last issue of Truth Matters, a few folks might still be waiting to receive a book or CD (they are on the way!), not to mention the delayed sending out of quarterly giving statements. If by the time you read this letter and you have not received something you did order PLEASE let me know (call me collect, and I will rectify it as quickly as possible.

I realize that some ministers would never publicly admit to such things, but I learned a great lesson from Kevin Butcher, a friend, fellow pastor and mentor who taught me that value of taking the risk, of being transparent to those you love and serve along with the truth of striving to be a human being versus a human doing. Thanks Kevin, those are lessons I will not forget. ♦

Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. Obtained from http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=defineoutrage&sa=X&io=glossary_definition&ct=title.

2. Colorado Springs Gaette, by Paul Asay, Bill Vogrin and Deedee Corell, Haggard Dismissed, 11-03-2006

3. Ibid

4. DMI was one of the first Apologetic ministries to expose Mr. LIARdon the date for his outing was obtained from http://www.christian-witness.org/archive/van2003/bilby_restor16.html

5. Los Angeles Times, Andrew Gumbel, September 18, 2004

6. Ibid. Bold type added for emphasis.

7. Please understand that I cite “church janitor” as merely an example of a lowly position (in some people’s eyes) as opposed to that of the pastor/prophets/apostle. I am in no way denigrating the often unseen and thankless task of those who keep the church buildings clean.

8. Colorado Springs Gazette, Ted Haggard’s letter to New Life Church, November 5, 2006. Underlining added for emphasis.

9. It is beyond the scope of this article to consider the roles of men and woman within the church. I know many women who are very gifted and I respect them. Yet God’s Word is the guide by which all our faith and practice is to be judged by and women simply are not called to serve as pastors, elders, bishops, or teachers over men.

10. This is according to an article on her ordination located at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/04/national/main2153338.shtml

11. Agape Press, by Jody Brown and Allie Martin, Comments by Jefferts-Schori During Interview Appear to Contradict Scripture, 11-02-06. Bold type added for emphasis.

12. Ibid

13. Quote from Jim Tonkowich, Religion Without Foundations, writer for the Daily Standard.

14. Please understand that the Lutheran Church was originally called the “evangelical” church and was not a part of the Roman Catholic church, nor is Confessional Lutheranism a part of the Protestant reformation nor a “Reformed” church/

15. Taken from John W. Fenton, M Div., S.T.M. Letter of Resignation submitted on 10- 29-06. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

16. Obtained from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/sbrandt/nicca.htm

17. Obtained from http://www.crcna.org/pages/nicene_creed.cfm Underlining added for emphasis.

18. Obtained from http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphlet/3creeds.htm

19. For more insight into the interesting history surrounding these and other classic statements of the Christian faith you might pay a visit to the following websites: http://www.creeds.net/; http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphet/3creeds.htm or http://www.cresourcei.org/creedsearly.html.

20. Statement obtained from http://www.cresourcei.org/creedsearly.html Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

21. If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomisu, Macedomius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema. This quotation was obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/widi/Origen#Christology.

22. The Evangelical position is stated as follows: Lutheran teaching of the atonement stresses that God’s act is objective, taking the imitative (cf. the OT concept of the Covenant) in reaching out toward man, and that Christ’s work is vicarious in that He bears the burden of sin, which is rightfully man’s (GI 3:10-13, cf. ls. 53). Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/ca/www./cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=A&t2=t.

23. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Orthodox_Church#The_Theotokos_and_the_saints on 11-08-80.

24. Obtained from http://www.oca.org/QAasp?ID=6&SID=3.

25. Obtained from http://www.paulawhite.org/about.htm.

26. When DMI and other Apologetic ministries refer to financial support please understand that we mean just that I.e. receive enough financial help to pay or feed or families, pay our bills and run our small ministries. I do not know one Apologetic or Counter-cult ministry that lives above a “middle-class” financial level, most of us, DMI most assuredly lives just above the poverty line economically speaking. I find it shameful when “ministers” receive millions of dollars personally I don’t care how “big” they are.

27. Those who preformed their functions well were worthy of “double honor [GK G5507}.” Since this word was often used in the sense of a price paid for something, it had been suggested that here it might be translated “honoraruim”. Perhaps we should allow both “honor” and honorarium” Highest honor is to be given to “those whose work is preaching and teaching.” 18. This verse, a well as the proceeding discussion of support for widows (vv. 3-16), suggests definitely that the “double honor” for elders was to be a financial remuneration. Quoting Dt. 25:4 (cf. 1 Co. 9:9) and Lk 10:7, Paul makes the point that a worker should receive compensation. Obtained from the Zondervan Reference Library CD, ver. 2.6. The New American Commentary Module.





Doctrine; How Important Is It Really?

30 06 2009
Truth Matters Newsletter – April 2005 Vol. 10 Issue 4 – Doctrine: How Important Is It Really? – by Robert J. Shipe

Doctrine;  How Important Is It Really?

 When the Holy catholic Church confesses the second article of the Apostles Creed it states:

“I believe in Jesus Christ His only son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose again from the dead and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.”

These historic and profound words which have been said throughout the ages of Christianity, and which are taken from the Holy Word of God tell us about the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, the Holy One from God. Our faith in Him, whom God sent to “take away the sins of the world,” is our only way to eternal salvation and heavenly home “whose kingdom has no end.”

The second article of the creed properly and truthfully describes Jesus, and we Christians adhere to and have total faith in these words when we confess this important teaching or doctrine of the universal church. Doctrine? Is this statement of faith that we confess in the Divine Service doctrine? Or is the idea of the creed being a doctrine of the church just a quirk, something that just happens to be true but really is not indicative of the God-Man Jesus Christ? Can we go even further? Can we rightfully state and prove that Jesus’ very essence, His entire being including His ministry, was firmly grounded in doctrine? If the answer to this question is “yes” then we must ask ourselves; do we need to adhere to ALL doctrine of the church laid out in the confession of the Lutheran church, or only to really important doctrines such as justification and the Trinity? Does all doctrine point directly to Christ, and is all doctrine really important? Or, as many in the Lutheran church today believe; is doctrine talked about too much, causing a stifling of growth. What follows is a brief look at some of these questions.

Let’s look at the very first question from above: Is the Apostles Creed doctrine? If such things as creation, the Trinity, virgin birth, the resurrection, the work of the Holy Spirit, the church and eschatology are considered teachings, then we would have to say that the creed is full of doctrine. There probably would not be too much debate on this, even from those who may disagree on the other aspects of doctrine stated in the previous paragraph.

The disagreement comes with the next question: Is the creed being a doctrinal statement just something that happens to be true but is not consistent with the ministry and very essence of Jesus? In the very first book of the Bible God reveals to us that because of man’s fall He will send a Savior into the world to cleanse man from his sin (Genesis 3). In this very first book, God has already revealed to us the doctrine of original sin and justification in direct connection to the Christ. This doctrine of justification (both objective and subjective) is consistent throughout the Old Testament. The doctrine of the Trinity is also consistently revealed to us when the Old Testament talks about the “Spirit of God” and with the prophecy of the coming of the Christ through the written word of the prophets.

The New Testament is filled with doctrine pointing directly to Christ. The ministry and life of Jesus can be directly traced to every teaching of the church catholic as it is laid out in the confessions of the Lutheran church, The Book of Concord. From Article I, the doctrine of God, to Article XXVIII, The Power of Bishops, each and every doctrine of the church is related to Christ. Any doctrine not relating to Christ, is no doctrine at all but adiaphorous, meaning that a teaching is neither commanded nor forbidden scripturally.

When the church errs on one doctrine, it becomes a snowball effect with other doctrines becoming weak. For instance; if the virgin birth is rejected then the deity of Christ will be questioned, which in turn will effect the doctrine of the Trinity, the atonement of Christ, the justification of the sinner, eschatology and finally our very salvation itself. Even if we take a certain doctrine and err on only one part we are in danger of the same results. When the doctrine of objective justification is rejected, that is, when it is stated that Jesus came into the world not for all of mankind but only for believers, we have also erred on the doctrine of election and predestination, which only God knows. The sacraments themselves become a questionable focus point on this issue of denying objective justification. In the Epitome of the Book of Concord we read;

“God assures us of this gracious election not only in mere words, but also with His oath, and has sealed it with His holy sacraments, of which we can remind ourselves and with which we can comfort ourselves in our greatest temptations and thus extinguish the flaming darts of the devil.” (Formula of Concord Art. XI paragraph 13).

Of course the Bible is full of objective justification doctrine. John 3:16 is one example among many. Listen to what Paul tells Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). So it is not only important to adhere to a doctrine, but to adhere to it completely and unequivocally. It is also important that if “basic Christian doctrine” such as The Trinity and justification by faith alone are adhered to then all other doctrine also needs to be adhered to because all doctrine is tied together.

In many Lutheran churches today while the creed may be confessed every Sunday (though here in Michigan there are many Pastors who do not think the creed is even necessary) it is not thought upon as an important doctrine of Christianity. While this may not be openly taught, it is clearly perceived with the absence of such teaching and preaching.

In fact it can be safely said that very little doctrine (which can be argued is almost always Gospel) is taught at all. Why? Why would doctrine of the Church catholic which has already been shown to be so crucial to and inclusive of the very work and person of Jesus be suppressed and even despised by many churches today? The answers are as varied as the number of missing doctrines themselves.

Many in the Lutheran church believe teaching doctrine and adhering to it takes away from the ministry of Christ. They believe that the Christian’s focus should be on Christ and the way He lived His life. This type of thinking has spawned the ever-popular W.W.J.D. bracelets, “What would Jesus do? Of course our focus needs to be on Christ, but instead of focusing on what He WOULD do, we need to focus on what He did and continues to do for us.

By focusing on what He did for us (justification) and what He continues to do for us (the preaching of His word and the administration of His sacraments) the faith built by His gifts will produce in us good works (sanctification). Justification, the sacraments, sanctification are all-important doctrines that are directly tied together with the ministry of Christ. By teaching and adhering to the doctrines of Jesus the ministry of Christ does not suffer because, as has already been shown with confessing the creed, the ministry of Christ IS doctrine.

In the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to teach and Baptize all nations, or all people. He tells them to teach the nations “everything I have commanded you.” If we focus on only the law (what would Jesus do), we are only focusing on those things which cannot save us because the law always condemns us and shows us where we have failed (the second use of the law, mirror). The gifts God gives to us produces faith, which can and do save us. So the ministry of Christ does not suffer but comes alive and comforts the sinner since he knows and understands the doctrines Jesus teaches AND lives.

Let us not forget that Jesus had some very strong things to say about His coming atoning sacrifice in John Chapter 6. If ever there was an opportunity for “church growth” it was when Jesus was feeding the 5000. When Jesus had said this “hard” teaching many of His followers turned and left Him. Did Jesus run after them shouting “Wait, let me meet your needs. I didn’t really mean what I said?” No. Instead He turned to Peter and wanted to know if he too wanted to leave with the rest. Peter answered for all the ages by saying; “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Jesus’ words are His teachings, His doctrine for the believer to learn, adhere to and follow. Because we fail so miserably in following and living Jesus’ teachings make it even more important to know, understand and confess those teachings.

Another reason why doctrine is not taught and is even despised in many of today’s Lutheran churches is because many believe that doctrine is too hard to teach, especially to children. Words such as “original sin,” “justification,” “sanctification,” “sacraments,” “Trinity,” “absolution,” and “eschatology” are too “theological” and obsolete they argue. While some of these words are not found in the Bible, their concepts are. Jesus taught all of these doctrines, not to the scholars of the day, but to fisherman, tax collectors and the like. Mary Magdalene and the Samaritan woman were hardly brilliant women, but Jesus didn’t shy away from teaching any of them important doctrines of His ministry. It could arguably be said that the smartest person Jesus taught certainly was not the easiest, at least by theological and cultural standards; Paul of Tarsus.

Now it may be argued that it was the Christ who was doing the teaching, God Himself explaining His doctrines to all these poor miserable sinners and certainly we cannot compare our wisdom with His. This is no doubt very true, but how about the people who were taught by the disciples? These were mere men teaching people who never hear the Gospel. Romans, Hebrews, Corinthians, Ephesians, and the like, even if they were intelligent, had no idea what these teachings meant, but they were still taught all these doctrines. In fact, how could Christianity have grown if they weren’t taught? Of course, Christianity grows solely by the Holy Spirit and that too is a doctrine, an important doctrine, of the church.

Children too need to be taught the doctrines of Jesus. Of course it wouldn’t be practical to use phases like “justification” with a 4 year old (though with the Holy Spirit anything is possible), but the teaching itself can and must be taught. Let’s look once again to the Great Commission Jesus tells His disciples to Baptize and teach “all nations.” This includes children as well as adults. It is interesting that while the Lutheran church Baptizes babies, many Lutheran Pastors really believe children cannot learn important doctrines of the church. It seems as though they are adhering to only half of the Great Commission. Many studies have been done to suggest that children, even at an early age, can understand teachings precisely because of their uncomplicated state. Jesus Himself gives children a lot of credit when He rebukes His disciples about their attitude toward little ones. Experts agree that a child learns a sport much easier than an adult. The same is true about playing a musical instrument. Cannot the same be said about the teaching of Christian doctrine? “Watered down” and “dummied down” theology is not only an insult to the believer, but it is lazy catechesis and many times “bad” theology as well.

A third and even more cynical argument against the teaching of doctrine is that it is not even needed at all. In fact these people claim that creeds and dogmas interfere with the church and its development and activity. It is interesting to note that the two main groups who hold this position are the very liberal (Modern theologians, who look to reason and science), and the very conservative (fundamentalists including many Baptists and those who belong to non-denominational churches).   While the former are just plain doctrinal or do not teach any doctrine because it does not exist, or fit their reason; the latter claim that creeds, doctrinal statements or confessional writings are merely “doctrines of men.” Those who hold to the liberal view (including many in the Lutheran church, the E.L.C.A. synod in particular) do not believe in the inerrancy of scripture. This essay assumes that the Bible is truly the word of God and is inerrant. If the Bible is not Divinely instituted, if it is not actually the word of God, if it does contain errors, then the source of all Christian doctrine is flawed, and it can be argued that all doctrine IS the doctrine of men. This is not the case however. In his translation of Francis Pieper’s book “Christliche Dogmatik” John Theodore Mueller states:

“Our divine Savior accepted no other norm than Holy Scripture, and He invariably rejected the traditions of the Pharisees and the ‘reasoning’s’ of the Sadducees. When He declared His divine doctrines and refuted errors, He constantly based His teachings on the immovable foundations of the written Word of God. Thus at the beginning of His minister He met the temptations of Satan with the emphatic assertion ‘It is written’ Matt 4,4 and He adhered to this principle throughout His ministry. Cp. John 5,39; Matt5, 17-19; John 8,31; etc.”

Against the view that creeds and confessional writings are just the doctrines or traditions of men, not only can we use the above quote, but Mueller further states:

The Christian Church, which has for its source of faith only the infallible Word of God (Eph. 2,20), must under no conditions acknowledge as right and legitimate any dogma, or doctrine, which is not a clear teaching of Holy Scripture. Or we may say; The dogma of the Christian Church is the doctrine of the Holy Bible.”

This is not to say that only what is found in creeds and confessional writings are to be thought of as the only doctrine of the church, as some who call themselves “confessional Lutherans” believe. We must not be confused about which book (The Bible or creeds and confessional writings) interprets which, Mueller again:

“The question is not: Is this or that doctrine clearly stated in the Confessions? But: Is this or that doctrine set forth in God’s dogma, even through not a word is said about it in the Confessions of the Church Dogmas (Creeds and confessions) have a rightful place in the Christian Church provided they teach the doctrines of God and not the doctrines of means. In its creeds the Christian Church has never developed the Christian doctrine, but only declared the express doctrine of Holy Scripture in its full truth and purity against the errors of heretics and schismatics. Thus, the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and the like, are not declarations of new, man-made teachings, but the very doctrines of Christ, and His apostles set forth in Holy Scripture.”

We must remember that creeds, doctrines and confessional writings are to accurately reflect the teachings of Scripture. Any doctrine not taken from Scripture is either adiaphorous (not commanded in Scripture) or it is not truly the doctrine of Christ’s teaching (heresy).  So the question remains; Do the confessional writings of the Lutheran church set forth by Melanchton, Luther, Chemnitz and others clearly proclaim the doctrine of Holy Scripture? Or are these writings, along with the creeds of the Church just opinions of legalists who wanted to push their “opinions” on the church at the expense of Christ’s ministry, therefore impeding the work of Christ and stifling the growth of Christianity? We need look no further than the confessions themselves when they say:

“We pledge ourselves to the prophetic and apostolic writings of the Old and New Testaments as the pure and clear fountain of Israel, which is the only true norm according to which all teachers and teachings are to be judged and evaluated. Since in ancient times the true Christian doctrine as it was correctly and soundly understood was drawn together out of God’s Word in brief articles or chapters against the aberrations of heretics, we further pledge allegiance to the three general creeds; the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, as the glorious confessions of the faith-succinct, Christian, and based upon the Word of God-in which all those heresies which at that time had arisen within the Christian church are clearly and solidly refuted.” (Formula of Concord Solid Declaration, Rule and Norm paragraphs 3&4).

In his book, “A Summary Of Christian Doctrine”, Dr. Edward W.A. Koehler is quite candid, but correct with these excellent observations concerning true and false doctrine as it relates to the Church in general, and the Lutheran Church in particular: “When we say that the Lutheran Church is the true, or Orthodox Church, we do not mean to say that it is the only saving church, or that all its members are true Christians and will unfailingly be saved. Membership in the Lutheran Church is not identical with membership in the invisible Church. But we do mean to say that all its official teachings agree with the Word of God and are, therefore, positively true, and that all doctrines differing from them are heterodox and false Insistence on purity of doctrine is by no means narrow-minded bigotry on the part of the Church. A false doctrine can never produce a right faith, nor can false teaching direct us in the right way (Matt. 15:9).  Beside “trembling” at God’s Word (Is. 66:2), and not daring to depart from its teachings, we know that we can accomplish the purpose of this Word only if we most conscientiously continue in its teachings; for the effect our teaching has on the hearts and the lives of men is determined by the content of what we teach. False doctrines create a false faith in those who accept them, and only the right doctrine can create the right concept in the mind and the right faith in the heart. To make men disciples of Christ the Church must teach ALL that Christ has commanded, and nothing but what He has commanded.” (Matt. 28:20).  As heresies and heterodox teachings are still being spoken within the church today, it would do us well to listen to these words. If these words are taken seriously, if Scriptural doctrine is continuously taught, believed, and confessed, then the Church, as it was set forth in Scripture, and taught by Christ, will remain the truly Christian and catholic Church. ♦

 

About the Author His name is  Robert J. Shipe.  He is 44 years old and lives in West Bloomfield, Michigan. He attends St. Marks Lutheran Church in West Bloomfield, Michigan, where he serves as an elder, lector and usher at St. Marks. His web site address is: http://www.concordtx.org/cpapers/shipe.htm

Bolding and color added for emphasis.




Sacred Cow Number Two – Jesus Ministered Only As A Man

29 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – March 2005 – Vol.10 Issue 3 – Sacred Cow Number Two – Jesus Ministered Only As  A Man – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Jesus Ministered Only As A Man

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This month’s heretical heifer is as crucial to the Word of Faith (WOF) belief system as the “Rich Jesus” cow we cooked on the Barbie last month. The Rich Jesus paved the way for a whole host of false teachings regarding financial prosperity. After all, since Jesus was extremely wealthy, and we are His disciples then logically, we too should be as wealthy as Jesus was during His ministry. Without flogging a dead cow, let me just say there is absolutely nothing wrong with financial prosperity, but it is no more a sign of God’s blessing than being poor is a sign of His curse. Enough said on that topic.

A Brief Definition of Heresy

Often we are tempted to call any and all false doctrine or aberrant teaching “heresy” when technically it is not.

Material heresy  is the belief in or the teaching of biblically unsound doctrines surrounding Jesus Christ out of simple ignorance. Many local teachers within the WOF cult are material heretics, they are just ignorant of God’s Word and repeat what they have heard others more highly esteemed than themselves have taught them at conferences or on cassette or video.

Formal heresy   is far more serious and it generally refers to the teaching of people who have been approached with the truth in love to correct their errors (see Matthew 18). These individuals reject the grace of God He offers in correcting their errors and they continue to hold to them and teach them to others. Sadly, many of the main leaders of the WOF movement fall into this category of heretic. “Formal heresy, a mortal sin, occurs if the person knows his error is contrary to the Church’s teachings, therefore those of Christ, yet continues to hold it. (1)

Originally heresy referred to errors regarding the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. These Christological heresies are included in the following errors, some of which still plague the Church today in more modern garb. The following chart gives us just a glimpse of some of the more “popular” errors regarding the person and work of Christ. This chart is in no way complete, but it does show some of the major purveyor’s of Christological heresy.

From this short chart it is easy to see that errors regarding our Lord swing from denying His deity to only seeing Him as divine. The battle over who the biblical Jesus was, what He accomplished on the cross and who He is as exalted Lord is still a source of bitter debate and division.

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Heresies still abound surrounding our Lord which is why ministries like DMI exist to uphold the truth of God against the flood tides of error.

As Christians we can “agree to disagree” on some minor points of our faith whatsoever, no glossing over areas of dispute, no going along to get along. The Holy Spirit through Paul was quite clear when He said:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtly, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 2 Cor. 11:3-4

In this text alone we read of the very real danger of having our minds corrupted by evil teachers who preach another Jesus than the biblical Jesus. One can receive a counterfeit spirit and not the Holy Spirit, and people can believe another gospel which is in reality not good news at all, but news that can lead the follower to eternal destruction. Keep in mind this was written to the Corinthians, a church which was known for having all the sign-gifts of the Holy Spirit manifesting on some level in their midst, i.e. they saw themselves as being very spiritual and Paul warns them that they too can be deceived. Not the Corinthians only, but Paul had to warn his flock in Galatia:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But through we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Gal 1:6-9

Again, false teachers had come in behind Paul and taught a perversion of the gospel of Christ. What was Paul’s response? If we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel than we have already preached let him be anathema or damned. (3)

Today the Head of the Church is again under attack by heretics who are on a massive global scale boldly proclaiming another Jesus than that taught in the Bible. Their version of who Jesus is, what He did and how He did ministered is a serious and damnable departure from biblical orthodoxy and it is time that this heretical heifer is led to the slaughterhouse and turned into hamburger!

How the WOF Movement Arrived At Their Beliefs Regarding Christ Jesus

Although the heresy that Jesus ministered only as a mere man and never as God is trumpeted most loudly by the WOF cult, it did not originate with them. Actually it was Kenneth E. Hagin who stole (he was a well documented plagiarist) (5) this aberrant idea from two men in particular and then a host of others taught “Hagin’s” error on a global basis. The sources are a Finis Dake and E.W. Kenyon.  From these two men this polluted stream of doctrine has become widely accepted by millions of professing Christians.

It is well beyond the scope of this article to detail the intricacies of Dake and Kenyon which led to the sad state of affairs within much of the sign-gift sects today, but I will briefly give a synopsis of how we got to the place of demoting the Second Person of the Godhead to a mere man.

When God created the earth and placed man on it He did so for them to exercise dominion over His creation (see Gen 2:21). Originally man and woman were created as much like God as was possible:

They were created miniatures of God in attributes and powers and could exercise their powers and attributes like God, but only in a limited and finite way. They had to learn by experience the free exercise of their faculties as to right and wrong, walk in the ways of God and be content with their own creative limitations in strict obedience and submission. Being like God in body, soul, and spirit they naturally could enjoy the same feelings, emotions and desires as God and have perfect fellowship with Him in their mutual administration of the universe. (6)

He must be created as near like Deity as possible, in order to be God’s child and heir…Man, after the fall, in his condition of spiritual death, could not know what the image of God was, without a revelation from Him…Your body is not you. Your mind is not you. You have a mind which you use. You possess a body which you use. Your mind and body are merely instruments of your spirit, the real YOU…Man was created as nearly like the Father-God as was possible. Man was to be God’s companion and under-ruler. His dominion reached to the utmost star and planet. His dominion was as far reaching as Christ’s rule shall be when He shall take over the dominion of the universe.   (7)

Dake and Kenyon believed that Adam was a “little god” a term you hear frequently in WOF circles.   Furthermore the role of Adam and Eve was to rule the universe with their Father. Kenyon adds to the picture the startling (but not original) view that we are not our bodies, nor are we our minds. The “real” person is the spirit which inhabits this tabernacle of flesh. My question is simply this—how does one know if one is hearing from their spirit or their mind? Various books and tapes have been published to help the confused charismatic grow to the place of receiving direct revelation knowledge from the Holy Spirit, bypassing their minds altogether!

Man was created to function on God’s level. Adam walked on that level in the Garden of Eden; but when he disobeyed God, he fell from his position of fellowship and oneness with God. It took Jesus coming to earth as a man to reclaim the authority that Adam gave over to Satan…As a born-again believer; you have the same spiritual capacity that Jesus has. If you spend time studying and mediating in God’s Word and living in the Word the way Jesus did, then you can have every ounce of faith, wisdom, and understanding operating in you that Jesus had during His earthly ministry. It is available to you because the Holy Spirit is available to you. (8)

Watch Video of  Paul Crouch and Kenneth Copeland on TBN say and agree that: “They are ‘little gods’   Make no mistake about it, this is what the WOF movement teaches:

The biblical account of man’s creation never says that we possess the attributes and powers of Almighty God. Nor does the Bible teach that we were created to function on “God’s level.” It does say that we are created in the likeness and image of God:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Gen 1:26,27

The Hebrew word for image is tselem and it means resemblance. Likeness is Demuth and simply means similitude. The dominion that God delegated to man did not include ruling the universe with the Almighty, but taking stewardship over the earth from whence he had been formed. Certainly nothing is taught in this text about man being a tri-partite being. Kenyon is the man who coined the familiar phrase “high treason” when it came to the fall of Adam:

“The sin of Adam was the crime of High Treason. God had conferred upon him the authority to rule the universe. This Universe-wide dominion was the most sacred heritage God could give to man…Adam turned this legal dominion over into the hands of God’s enemy Satan.”    (9)

Without beleaguering you with a lot of WOF folly, let me restate their belief thus far. Adam was created as close a duplicate of God as was possible on God’s part. God’s plan was for Adam to co-rule the universe with Him. Adam was created from the dust of the earth and thus for anyone to have legal authority in the earth one had to have a physical human body, one like Adam’s. When Adam sinned he lost the dominion mandate, the authority to rule the universe, he gave this “sacred heritage” to Satan when he sinned.

The result of Adam’s high “treason” was that now Satan was the God of this world (see 2 Cor. 4:4). Charles Capps, a prominent WOF teacher says the following regarding Adam, Satan and the fall:

“Things we see on earth today are perversions of nature. They came about when Adam bowed his knee to the outlaw spirit and turned his authority over to Satan. Then Satan became god of the world system and perverted the things God had created…When Adam turned his authority over to Satan, Satan became the God of the world system…He (Satan) had no authority on earth until he tapped into man’s power and authority. (Adam had given his own God-given authority over to Satan). Someone might ask, “Why didn’t Satan just go over and pick the fruit and eat it?” He couldn’t do that. Satan is a spirit being, and spirits have no authority in earth without a body…Man’s body gives him authority on earth. Satan tapped into man’s authority by using the body of the serpent. He tempted Eve through the serpent and caused Adam to commit high treason. “   (10)

Almost everything I have quoted is pure fabrication on the part of these ignorant false teachers and heretics. Yes Satan beguiled Eve (see 2 Cor. 11:3) and yes Adam sinned by disobeying the commandment given to him by God. NOTHING is mentioned about any transfer of authority from Adam to Satan. NOTHING is mentioned that one needs a physical human body to operate in the earth. We know God is a Spirit (see John 4:24) and He created the earth and did so without a human body! We know that angels are not human beings and possess angelic bodies and they have been in operation in the earth throughout the Bible. The Lord slew all the firstborn of Egypt in an evening (see Exodus 12:39). The Angel of the Lord slew (see 2 Kings 19:35) 185,000 Assyrians in an evening again without the need of a human body.

However fanciful this concept is, it is crucial in the formulation of why Jesus Christ had to come as a man and minister only as a man and not God, but we can’t get to our main topic yet. We still have some “doctrinal doo-doo” to quote Paul Crouch, owner of the Trinity Broadcasting System, to wade through before we can get to our subject.

Please understand, according to these heretics, Adam has now become the slave of Satan, there has been a transfer of natures, man now possesses the nature of Satan having lost the nature of God. Satan now is “god” of this world system and he has control of Adam, Eve and their progeny to operate in and through. Where does this leave the Ancient of Days? Charles Capps brings forth the answer:

“God needed a legal way to get back into the affairs of earth, so He made a covenant with Noah…You may ask, “Why did God have to make a covenant with Noah?” Noah had a body, and it gave him a certain amount of authority on earth. God limited Himself in what He could do because of what He had said and done in Genesis 1:26-28…Satan had gained ascendancy in the earth by gaining Adam’s authority, and God was left on the outside. God couldn’t come here in His divine power and wipe them out. He had to move in an area where it would be ruled legal by the Supreme Court of the Universe…God gained entrance back into the earth through the covenant He made with Noah.” (11)

Satan was now ruler of the earth, Almighty God was “left on the outside” and because He is a Spirit being, He has no authority or egress into the planet He created! According to WOF cult the “legal way” Capps and others speak of is the use of a human body, get one of those and then you can operate in this earth realm. Note also that Capps says the God had limited Himself according to His actions in Genesis 1:26-28.  There is NOTHING in those texts, which say anything at all that Capps says that God limiting Himself whatsoever. Also, I am wondering who sits on the bench of the “Supreme Court of the Universe.” My biblical understanding is that there is One God who exists in Three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I know of no one else to whom the Triune God must be accountable to other than Himself.

Another very curious, but important aspect Capps does not clarify is how it was that God was able to even approach Noah in the first place! God had no body, no authority; Satan was now Noah’s “god.” So how is it that God could find a man who being spiritually dead in his trespasses and sins (see Eph. 2:1) could enter into an agreement, which is what a covenant is, with the Living God. Nonetheless, God was somehow able to cut a deal with Noah.

“God gained entrance back into the earth through the covenant He made with Noah. He was still limited in what He could do because of His Word. He started putting things into motion through the covenant. “ (12)

The WOF cult not only has a heretical view regarding Christology, but their view of theology is just as heretical. They teach that God is a limited being and that through His Word He has placed Himself under certain self-limitations. It is taught that our prayers either release God or they bind Him. (13) This makes man more powerful than God on earth. That is sheer foolishness, yet well over a million people believe it. Another popular book buttressing this ignorance was written by John “the bagman” Avanzini (he is always trotted out by Paul & Jan Crouch when they need to bilk the gullible out of more money). (14)

Once God had made His covenant with Noah He was later on able to approach another man named Abram and to make him an offer he could not refuse. Capps puts it this way:

God was setting the stage for the greatest manifestation of love the world had ever know. God was saying, “I’m going to prove the Covenant I made with Abraham is legal. I’m going to prove, once for all, that Abraham will keep My Covenant.” So, He demanded that Abraham sacrifice his only son…He asked for his only son (the one God said would be heir to all….Abraham performed his part very well. God called it done; and in the Supreme Court of the Universe, it was written as done; that Abraham gave his son (Heb. 11:17-19)…Now God could give His Son for the world! Abraham’s obedience in offering his son made it possible for God to offer His Son, Jesus, as the Eternal Sacrifice for eternal redemption … Abraham’s obedience to the Covenant gave God the legal entry into the earth to redeem man with His Son, Jesus. (15)

It was due to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son that God the Father the right to send His only Son and sacrifice Him on our behalf. However, in order to get to the place where Jesus could be born of a virgin God had to begin to speak faith-filled words concerning Jesus, His birth, His ministry and even His death through other willing human beings called prophets.

You will find, as you study your Bible, that God never did anything without saying it first. This was hundreds of years before the prophecy [concerning the virgin birth] came to pass. This is the way God’s faith works! God framed the worlds with words. He was framing this and setting it in motion by saying it through His prophet: A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. The Bible tells us it is impossible for God to lie. Why? Because He releases sufficient faith in every word He speaks to bring it to pass.   (16)

For hundreds of years God through His prophets framed everything about His Son’s mission up to that fateful day when the angel met the Virgin Mary and spoke to her. What was her response? Luke 1:38:  “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. The virgin birth is really no big mystery at all according to the WOF cultists. It happened because Mary operated according to spiritual law. Let theologian Capps (16) continue to make it clear to those who still consider the incarnation a great mystery:

“God had found a woman who said, “Behold (look), You have found her. You have found the one. Be it done unto me according to they word.” It was the Word that was made flesh. Mary conceived the Word of God in her heart…Here is what the Spirit of God said to me about that situation: ‘Mary conceived the Word sent to her by the angel (God’s Word) and conceived it in the womb of her spirit. Once it was conceived in her spirit, it manifested itself in her physical body. She received and conceived the Word of God in her spirit.” (17)

The voice Capps identifies as the Lord goes on to tell Chuck that if His people will simply do what Mary did, receive the promises of God’s Word and conceive them in their spirits (not their minds) then they too will obtain the manifestation of that which they have spiritually conceived. New cars, health, wealth, and spiritual gifts whatever a person can believe for spiritually versus mere mental ascent or “want” they can have. This is how our Lord Jesus was born. Mary simply operated in eternal spiritual laws that govern not only the universe but also God Himself, since He too must use faith (I’m unclear what the object of His faith is) to accomplish anything.

Nine months later the first Christmas festivity is celebrated in a manger at town called Bethlehem. Now according to WOF heterodoxy God was once again in the planet and this time legally, because He came in an “earth-suit,” (a Copeland phrase for the body) or to us low-wattage believers, a physical human body that gave Jesus authority on the planet.

The “Man” Christ Jesus

When Jesus was born we know from last month’s Truth Matters  (18)  that He was born into a home of wealth and privilege. What most Christians do not understand is that when He donned His earth-suit He totally set aside, emptied Himself of all His divine attributes, power and abilities and operated ONLY as a man and NEVER as God. Here are some additional citations from the masters of mayhem:

We know Jesus wasn’t the son of Joseph. He was the Son of God. The majority of religious teaching today tells you Jesus healed the sick in order to prove He was the Son of God. Do you realize that Jesus was thirty years of age when He was baptized? Until that time, He had not healed one person. He had not raised anyone from the dead; He had not done one miracle-not one!…The real reason Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons was because He was anointed with the Holy Ghost to destroy the works of the Devil…He stripped Himself of His divine power. He didn’t use any power inherent in Him as God’s Son to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, or destroy the works of the Devil…The power Jesus used in His ministry was not something He brought from heaven with Him. It wasn’t inherent in Him as being the Son of God. Jesus came to earth as a man. He did not take the nature of angels nor the nature of God in His divine power. He took on the nature of man…He came to earth to operate as a man, anointed with the Holy Ghost. Because He was in the earth as a man, He could legally destroy the works of the Devil. (19)

The true Biblical teaching of the Kenosis of Christ is that in taking human form He divest Himself of His divine attributes or at least the power to use them, having laid aside His God-form…if Christ had retained all divine attributes or the free use of them in becoming man, then of what did He empty Himself? And how could we harmonize all the many limitations of His earthly life with the fact that He was equal with God in every sense?…Christ claimed no power or exercised no personal attribute of deity apart from the full anointing of the Holy Spirit. If his works were through the anointing of the Spirit, then they could not be through the exercise of His own natural attributes of deity. (20)

This is the major heresy that all the former quotes have been leading up to —Jesus Christ ministered as a mere man anointed by the Holy Spirit. He did absolutely nothing according to the WOF cult, by virtue of being God the Son. They do not deny that Jesus was God, but what they teach is a view not held by the Church for 2,000 years. He so divested Himself of His deity that He in His ministry was merely a man “anointed” with the Holy Spirit.

Watch Kenneth Copeland teach the error:  – Jesus Ministered ONLY as a Man,

Due to this heretical concept of Christ Jesus it naturally leads to further error which is what I believe was Satan’s goal all along, it leads back to the original lie of “ye shall be as gods.”

Man has been created so nearly like God that it was possible for God and man to become united eternally in one individual…God can dwell in these human bodies of ours. God can impart His life and nature to our spirits and dwell in our human bodies…If the incarnation is a fact, Christianity is supernatural. Every man who has been born again is as incarnation…The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth. (21)

As a born-again believer, you have the same spiritual capacity that Jesus has. If you spend time studying and mediating in God’s Word and living in the Word the way Jesus did, then you can have every ounce of faith, wisdom, and understanding operating in you that Jesus had during His earthly ministry. It is available to you because the Holy Spirit is available to you…Your spirit is just as big as God’s because you are born of Him. (22)

Copeland blasphemes even further in one of his most infamous discourses with his ‘god’ when he says the following:

The Spirit of God spoke to me; and He said, ‘Son, realize this”(Now follow me in this, Don’t let your tradition trip you up.) He said, “Think this was: A twice-born man whipped Satan in his own domain.” And I threw my Bible and I sat up like that, I said, “What”? He said ‘A born-again man defeated Satan. The first-born of many brethren defeated him.” He said, “You are the very image and the very copy of that one.” I said, “Good-nee gracious sakes alive!” I began to see what had gone on in there. And I said, “Well, now You don’t mean—You couldn’t dare mean that I could’ve done the same thing.” He said, “Oh yeah! If you’d know that —had the knowledge of the Word of God that he did, you could’ve have done the same thing. Because you’re a reborn man too. (23)

I hope you can see where this long train of error is leading and led millions of people. Since Jesus ministered only as a man anointed with the Holy Spirit and He told His disciples that they would do His works and even greater works (see John 14:12) then once we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit then we (through Bible study and mediation according to Copeland) will possess the exact same spiritual capacity and ability of Jesus! In fact, according to some alien spirit he misidentifies as the Holy Spirit, Copeland or any born-again person could have made the atonement for our sins if they simply knew what Jesus knew! That my brothers and sisters is enough to answer the question whether or not the WOF movement is a cult or not, it is a cult and I believe many of its top leaders are not genuine Christians at all.

It is obvious to me and anyone who has studied Pentecostal and sign-gift history that NO ONE has ever come remotely close to doing the same works as Jesus, especially in the realm of divine healing, miracles and even lifestyle. Copeland has been preaching this lie for close to forty (40) years now and what proof can he show us that his doctrine is true? Neither could Hagin (recently deceased) or Kenyon, Dake, Hinn, Meyer, Savelle, Branham, Coe, Lake, Dowie and the list can go on for pages. NONE of these people who taught it in the past or are now teaching it in the present could or can demonstrate it in their own lives! Why not? Because it is a false doctrine and God does not honor false doctrine!

This heretical heifer is based on the false premise that Jesus ministered only as a man and ceased to operate as God. Is this possible?

….the Bible is completely clear that God cannot cease to be Himself, that Jesus never gave up His deity, that the Trinity has always been just that, one God eternally existing in three equal Persons, Who are the same in substance, equal in power and glory.   (24)

For considering themselves to be “Word” people these folks have sure missed some obvious truths in the Gospels. If Jesus were not operating as God then how could He forgive sins? He did not forgive them by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed,: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; they sins be forgiven thee. And behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. Matthew 9:1-3

There was no doubt in the minds of the scribes that Jesus was claiming to be God and doing ONLY what God can do, forgive our sins. We have the event of Jesus “seeing” Nathanael under the tree:

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said, unto him, Before that Phillip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shall see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. John 1:47-51.

Again, there is no mention of the Holy Spirit revealing this information about Nathanael to Jesus. Nor did Jesus correct Nathan when he declared Jesus to be the Son of God, He did not respond “oh no Nathan, I’m just a prophet anointed with the Holy Spirit. Follow Me and you’ll learn how to do these works too.” One of my favorite texts proves that Jesus ministered as God in His earthly ministry.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. John 10:27-33

A.T. Robertson’s says the following about the statements made by Jesus regarding His sheep:

John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life. This is the gift of Jesus now to his sheep as stated in 6:27,40 (cf. 1 Jo 2:25; 5:11).  And they shall never perish. Emphatic double negative with second aoist middle (intransitive) subjunctive of apollumi to destroy. The sheep may feel secure (3:16; 6:39; 17:12,; 18:9)    (25)

This is in the present tense when Jesus said it and He did not say that the Holy Spirit was the One giving them eternal life, but He Himself. The religious leaders knew exactly what Jesus meant when He stated that He and the Father were one (John 10:30) they knew Jesus was claiming to be God and they picked up stones and were ready to kill Him for the sin of blasphemy. Crenshaw answers the WOF cult’s insistence on Jesus being only empowered by the Spirit and never functioning as deity:

It is true that Jesus lived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and did not do miracles except after the Holy Spirit came on Him at His baptism. But this emphatically does not imply that He was not God nor that He was not functioning as God. Because the Holy Spirit performed a certain act does this mean that Jesus in His deity could not do so also? How in the name of all that is biblical and rational could Jesus be God and not function as God?…To maintain that He did not function as both God and man denies the Person of Christ by maintaining that He did not have two natures (God and man) that if He used one of the natures meant that the other nature was voided in some way. Jesus was both God and man, functioning both as God and man…If these men had studied their Bibles and church history, they would have known that they had joined the ranks of the heretics and that these issues had been settled in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicaea and especially in A.D. 451 at the Council of Chalcedon. In this latter Council, the biblical position of the two natures of Christ was stated to be ‘without mixture,” without change, without division, and without separation.’ In 1600 years we have not improved this statement, nor can we. (26)

In the face of almost two thousand years of recorded Church history the leaders of today’s WOF cult, which is massive and growing rapidly has chosen to reject the orthodox stance of the true Christian Church.

The WOF cult probably comes closest to falling into the ancient heresy of Nestorius. He taught that Jesus performed His works by the power of the Holy Spirit and not His own inherent divine power (sound familiar?). Let me cite Crenshaw again on this point—”The early church fathers recognized that such a position took away the deity of Christ and that He was one person in two natures, which in turn took away our salvation.”

The leaders of the early Church recognized the danger of such beliefs and convened a Council in Ephesus in 431. Those in attendance represented the entirety of the undivided orthodox church. Here are just two of the statements they declared as a result of their meeting:

IF anyone shall say that Jesus as man [His humanity] is only energized by the Word of God [His deity], and that the glory of the Only-begotten is attributed to him as something not properly his let him be anathema.   (27)

IF any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Ghost, so that he used through him a power not his own and from him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was his own Spirit through which he worked these divine signs; let him be anathema. (28)

 I stand on very  firm theological ground when I declare that anyone who teaches that Jesus ministered only as a man anointed with the Holy Spirit is damned; because I am merely restating the position of the Church from its inception.

The leaders within the WOF cult take their error to even more damnable depths concerning the atonement for our sins by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but that steak will have to be served in next month’s issue. Let me conclude the brief history of this error by citing the definition of Chalcedon On the next page regarding our Lord Jesus:  ♦

Copyright © 2005  Robert S. Liichow

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The Definition of Chalcedon

Following then, the holy fathers, we unite in teaching all men to confess the one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This selfsame one is perfect both in deity and in humanness; this selfsame one is also actually God and actually man, with a rational soul {meaning human soul} and a body. He is of the same reality as God as far as his deity is concerned and of the same reality as we ourselves as far as his humanness is concerned; thus like us in all respects, sin only excepted. Before time began he was begotten of the Father, in respect of his deity, and now in these “last days,” for us and behalf of our salvation, this selfsame one was born of Mary the virgin, who is God-bearer in respect of his humanness.

We also teach that we apprehend this one and only Christ-Son, Lord, only-begotten–in two natures; and we do this without confusing the two natures, without transmuting one nature into the other, without dividing them into two separate categories, without contrasting them according to area or function. The distinctiveness of each nature is not nullified by the union. Instead, the “properties” of each nature are conserved and both natures concur in one “person” and in one reality {hypostasis}. They are not divided or cut into two persons, but are together the one and only and only-begotten Word {Logos} of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus have the prophets of old testified; thus the Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us; thus the Symbol of Fathers {the Nicene Creed} has handed down to us. (29)

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.defide.com/heresy.html on 2/20/05

2. Obtained from http://kevin.davnet.org/articles/heresy.html on 02-23-05

3. Obtained from http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/monothel.htm 2-23-05

4. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says of this verse: “a thing devoted to God without hope of being redeemed, and if an animal, to be slain; therefore a person or thing doomed to destruction 2a) a curse 2b) a man accursed, devoted to the direst of woes. Obtained from CD Rom BibleWords Ver. 4.0035 p 1999.

5. Liichow, Robert Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Kenneth Hagin, But Were Afraid to Ask: details his intellectual property theft in detail, along with his false visions, unfulfilled prophetic words. It is available from DMI for $12.00 which includes postage and handling.

6. Dake, Finis Jennings. God’s Plan For Man. Lawrenceville, GA 1997, p. 385 Underlining and bolding added.

7. Kenyon, E.W. The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption. Old Tappen, NJ 1969 pp. 17,18,20,21 Underlining added.

8. Copeland, Kenneth Walking in the Realm of the Miraculous Fort Worth, Tx. Pp 15,16 Underlining and bolding added.

9. Kenyon, E.W. The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption. Old Tappen, NJ 1969 p. 26 Bold type added.

10. Capps, Charles Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School Tulsa, OK 1984, pp. 29,30,44, bold type and underlining added.

11. Ibid. pp. 50,51 Bold type and underlining added.

12. Ibid p. 51 Underlining added.

13. Capps, Charles Releasing the Ability of God Through Prayer, Tulsa OK, 1978. This book details our authority over “God” in that we control what is allowed to happen on the earth through our faith-filled words/prayers or fear-filled doubt-ridden statements of unbelief. Man is in control, not God.

14. Avanzini, John  Moving the Hand of God. Tulsa, OK 1990. We move or stop the hand (a Hebraic euphemism for authority) of God by both our words and giving in Avanzizi’s case.

15. Capps, Charles Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School Tulsa, OK 1984 pp. 71,72,73. Ibid pp. 76, 77 bolding added.

16. A couple of years ago on the Believer’s Voice of Victory, Kenneth Copeland’s television broadcast he had Charles Capps on for an entire week. Their discussion concerned the end of time and soon return of Jesus. During that broadcast Mr. Copeland called Capps “the greatest living theologian.” I am sorry I do not have the day or date of that broadcast. You are welcome to contact Mr. Copeland and ask him if my statement is true.

17. Capps, Charles. Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School. Tulsa, OK 1984, pp. 81,82

18. Last month DMI stomped into hamburger the sacred cow that Jesus was extremely wealthy as were His disciples. If you just joined us this month you can order last month’s issue, just send us $1.00 to cover coping and postage.

19. Capps, Charles,   Authority Special Edition Word of Faith Bible School, Tulsa, OK 1984 pp. 89,90,91,93 Underlining and bold type added.

20. Dake, Finis Jennings. God’s Plan For Man. Lawrenceville, GA 1997 pp. 386, 387, 388. Underlining and bolding added.

21. Kenyon, E.W.  The Bible in the Light of Our Redemption. Old Tappen, NJ. 1969 p. 151 Underlining added.

22. Copeland, Kenneth Walking in the Realm of the Miraculous. Forth Worth, TX pp. 15,16 Underling added.

23. Copeland, Kenneth “Substitution and Identification”, cassette tape #00-0202. Bold type and underlining added.

24. Crenshaw, Curtis, I.  Man As God The Word of Faith Movement, Memphis, TN. 1994 p.326

25. Bible Works Software, A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures

26. Ibid p. 309

27. Obtained from

http://www.aroundomaha.com/ecf/volume37/ECF37THE_THIRD_ECUMENICAL_COUNCILTHE_htm

28. Ibid.