Hell Hath Enlarged Herself (Isaiah 5:14)

21 09 2012

Sun Myung Moon, a self-professed messiah who claimed millions of religious followers in his Unification Church and sought to become a powerful voice in the American conservative movement through business interests that included the Washington Times, has died. He was 92.1

Almost thirty plus years ago as a young man I experienced my first cult intervention which involved a young man who had become ensnared by the false claims of an alleged Korean messiah.  That deceiver was no one less than Sun Myung Moon, founder of The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit aka The Unification Church and/or Moonies due to their slavish devotion to their leader.

An Aside:
Have you ever noticed how Satan tries to dress up his false cults with names that sound so appealing to the unwary?

The Jehovah’s Witnesses
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The Unification Church of the Holy Spirit
The Children of God aka The Family of Love or Love Family
The Way International
The Church of Christ Science

Jesus Christ Superstar was out in theaters (as a movie) and one evening myself and a couple of friends decided to go see the movie.  As was our habit in the early 70’s we began the evening by ingesting some mind altering substances, after a while we got hungry and stopped by a 7-Eleven and my friends went inside for some munchies.  I sat in the car and looked out and saw a young guy standing there by our door holding a box of peanut brittle and wearing a huge round button with the deceased Mr. Moon’s photograph on it.  By this time in America, the Unification Church was deemed a cult, and rightly so and many parents were having their children kidnapped and deprogrammed.  One famous de-programmer was Ted Patrick2 who was in the newspapers back then.  I looked at this ‘kid’ and got out of the car and went up to him and said “do you know who I am?”  He said “no.”  I responded “I am Ted Patrick (who turned out to be African-American) the white lightening.  What are you doing here?  The boy responded “I am serving God would you like to buy some peanut brittle?” I said, “No, you are serving (pointed to his button) THAT man!”  He looked at me and said “same thing.”  I then told him to get in the car, he tossed his case of peanut brittle in and got into the backseat.  My friends returned and were naturally surprised to see this unknown guy in the car with us.  Long story short, we took him to see Jesus Christ Superstar (I know, I know), he slept through all of it,  At the end of the movie we had a debate between the 3 of us as to what to “do” with this guy now that he was with us.  Rudy, had no church or pastor to call, Greg was Roman Catholic and he said his priest would not have anything to do with him.  My Presbyterian pastor was a “no go” as well.

During his stint at the 7-Eleven a Baptist pastor had come by and given him a tract with his phone number on it.  We found a phone booth and called Rev. Kuncle who came out at 3:00 in the morning and took the young man to his home and his church.  That morning, after church, yes rebellious as I was I was in church every Sunday; I approached our Pastor, Ben Jones, and related the story with tears in my eyes and he responded “oh, huh, you can’t save everybody.”  Although I have never forgotten the encounter, Pastor Jones response was sufficient enough cold water thrown on a fledgling spark that was not rekindled for another five years.

I must be honest with our readers.  I have NEVER liked Moon or his organization.  I have fought against him, even to his face when he spoke at a Baptist ‘church’ in Detroit several years ago.  My wife and I went out and witnessed AGAINST Moon and FOR Christ in front of the church building he was usurping.  We were not well received by his followers or henchmen.

The Bible says that God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (see Eze. 18:23).  I guess “pleasure” is too strong a word, but I am glad he is dead.  He deceived millions during his life; he was given 92 years of grace and never repented of his blasphemy.  I am sorry he never came to the saving knowledge of Christ and will now suffer the eternal torments of the damned.

I am on David’s imprecatory psalms side of the scale when it comes to Mr. Moon.   The imprecatory psalms are the ones in which David calls for Divine judgment and curses to fall upon the godless, the wicked and his personal enemies.  In Mr. Moon’s sad case he has certainly obtained what he deserved, may each of us reading this NEVER receive what we deserve, but may we gladly and humbly accept the grace of God shown only in the Person of Jesus Christ our Lord and soon coming Savior.  Although I have written in the past about the Moonies, allow me to give our newer readers a thumbnail sketch of his beliefs and practices.

Who Was Mr. Moon?

Sun Myung Moon was nothing if not ambitious.  He had his sights on nothing less than global domination by his organization:

His stated ambition was to rule the world and replace Christianity with his own faith, which blended elements of Christianity, Confucianism and Korean folk religions.3

Like virtually all of the false religions Moon had a mystical encounter with an angel of light (see 2 Cor. 11:14) who revealed himself as Jesus.  This Jesus explained how e had failed by being crucified.  According to Moon’s Jesus the crucifixion was never the Father’s plan, yet Jesus failed and he appeared to Rev. Moon (at age 16) to call Moon to finish His redemptive work!

Young Myung Moon (later changed to Sun) was born in Pyungan Bud-do province in North Korea on January 6, 1920.  Throughout his early life, Moon had a great deal of interest in spiritism.  It was on Easter Sunday morning at the age of 16 that his first major encounter occurred, when Jesus Christ supposedly appeared to him while he was in prayer.  Jesus told Moon that he had an important mission to accomplish in the fulfillment of God’s providence as a latter-day prophet.   After the experience, Moon began writing his Divine Principles while studying Engineering in Japan.  It was during this time, and after World War II, that Moon became involved in an underground Pentecostal movement that was deeply entrenched in mystical revelations and the appearance of the Messiah in the New Jerusalem, Korea.  (They believed the Messiah would be born in Korea).  It was in 1945 that Moon experienced his most important victory when he fought and defeated all Satanic forces and became victor of heaven and earth.  (This is when he changed his name to Sun).   In 1950, Moon was released from prison and moved to South Korea when in 1954 he began his Unification Church.  In 1955, Moon was again jailed for draft evasion, adultery, and promiscuity.  This came for his ritual sex with women in the church.  Those who have been in Moon’s church say that one has to receive Moon’s blood to receive salvation.  This salvation comes from three periods of sexual intercourse.   In the years that followed, Moon became a multi-millionaire from his many enterprises-tea, titanium, drugs, and air rifles.  Finally, on January 1, 1972, Moon claims God appeared to him and told him to come to America to prepare the people for the Second Advent of Christ.  Believing the USA to be the base of the coming Messiah, Moon purchased much land in New York along with his 22-acre estate in Tarrytown, N.Y.  Since this time, the church has grown here in America.4

Who was Mr. (I cannot call him “Rev.” people he was never ordained by any recognized body within the true Church) Moon? He had no biblical framework to judge his mystical encounter by, so he accepted it at face value, after all it is pretty “heady” stuff to be asked by Jesus to fulfill his “failed” mission!

Unfortunately for Moon he was raised in North Korea prior to the partition.  He grew up in a rural area that was steeped in religious syncretism and mysticism.  He joined an aberrant Pentecostal cult that firmly believed the next and final Messiah would come from Korea, which just happened to line up with his paranormal encounter.  In 1946 Moon was arrested by the communists and sentenced to a five year prison term.  While in prison he alleges to have engaged in tremendous spiritual warfare and in the end every other former religious leader and demon(s) bowed down to Moon as victor over them.

Moon did his time and in 1950 moved to the South and began his new religion he called “The Unification Church.”  Part of his bizarre doctrine was that the women in the church, in order to be saved had to have sex with him on three occasions.  That apart from his blood, there was no salvation (I wonder where he got that concept from)?  This unique doctrine landed Mr. Moon back into jail for immorality and adultery.

There was a book by Pak Chung Hwa who was one of the earliest followers of Moon in the early days called The Tragedy Of The Six Mary’s. In the book, Pak alleges that Moon’s early teaching was that the new messiah must have sex with 6 “Marys” in a ritual that would cleanse the womb and make it pure. These women who must be married would then have sex with other men and the process would multiply until all people were “saved” in this way. Pak claimed though, that Moon wouldn’t stop at the six as he originally stated, but turned the theology into a kind of rotating sex-club for himself, which upset Pak, particularly he claimed because sometimes these encounters produced children and Moon allegedly left the women to fend for themselves with no support from Moon.5

Soon after getting out of jail the second time Moon “felt led” to take his message to America to prepare us for the second return of Christ (which meant the installation of Mr. Moon as the Christ).  From 1972 until recently he has seconded himself to his palatial estate in Tarrytown, New York.

Moon became a huge supporter of Richard Nixon during his troubles and he gave massively to right-wing organizations and mobilized his followers to campaign for various politicians and raise money for them, etc.

Within ten years of his stay in America Mr. Moon was arrested, this time for tax evasion in 1982. While the trial was ongoing various American “evangelicals” came to his aid, people like Jerry Falwell whose Bible school was bailed out of bankruptcy by Moon.6   Moon was convicted of all counts and spent his full 18 month sentence in prison.

Moon taught that his family was the perfect family and his twelve children were representative of perfection.  The public illusion of his perfect family was shattered by a few tragic events.

In 1984 17-year-old Heung Jin Moon died in Poughkeepsie when he drove recklessly into a truck.7   In 1998 his eldest son, Hyo Jin, was denounced as a violent cocaine addict by his wife (he would die of a heart attack in 2008, aged 45). In 1999 another of Moon’s sons, Younjin Phillip Moon, committed suicide aged 21.8  Several of the perfect families spouses have divorced their less than ‘perfect’ husbands.  The biggest insights into the Moon daily lifestyle came from Nansook Hong, wife of the eldest of Moon’s sons and heir apparent to his vast empire.  Nansook divorced and exposed her husband for the abusive pervert he was along with revealing the ungodly and lavish lifestyle led by all the members of the perfect family in her book “In The Shadow of the Moons,” I highly recommend her book to anyone interested in the daily inner workings of an antichrist and his family.  The last I heard was that Nansook has become a Christian since her departure from the madness of the Moons.

What Is His Doctrine?

Any cult leader worth his or her cosmic salt has to appeal to some sort of authority; ergo the deceiver MUST put down the sublime new revelations in a book.  Mary Baker Eddy wrote her “Scripture Keys to Science and Health,” Joe Smith got together his “Book of Mormon,” Mohammed’s followers cobbled together “the Koran” after his assumption of desert temperature.  Even the Rastafarians have their “Holy Philby” (DMI has copies of all these heretical tomes), Judge Rutherford and devotees patched together “The New World Translation,” The Urantia cult has “The Urantia Book,” The Bahai have their “The Book of Laws,” and yes folks Rev. Moon wrote his too entitled “The Divine Principle,” which Moon left open for further revelations which he gave in his series of talks called “The Master Speaks.” From these two sources we can learn what Moon’s  doctrine is.

To begin with the Bible is not “truth itself” but the Bible does contain truth, so immediately understand that Moonies have no real regard for Scripture as God’s holy Word.  They usually interpret the Bible allegorically:

The Moonies interpret much of the Bible allegorically; they teach that the thieves on the cross represent democracy (the “right”) and Communism (the “left”). They claim that “resurrection” does not refer to raising the dead, but to accepting the “word of God” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:12-20). They say that the expression “end of the world” only means that “evil is going to end.” [HJB] Moon also believes the Bible teaches that Christianity is not the one and only divinely revealed and saving faith. He says that “God has established many religions. … God cannot be found where there is conflict. Catholicism and Protestantism must become one.”9

Scriptures are understood in the current light of The Divine Principle along with whatever else Moon may have said in various teaching settings.  Allow me to briefly bullet point some of their main doctrinal “distinctions.”

The Fall:

Moon was indeed a sexual deviant and his views on sexually colored much of what he believed and taught to others.  The sin of Adam and Eve can be boiled down to Eve having sex with the serpent (Satan) and then having sex with Adam causing all mankind to fall.10

Sin:

Sin was not the result of Adam’s willful disobedience to the Law of God, but was of a sexual nature:

Adam and Eve thus failed to fulfill God’s plan for them to be the “true parents” of mankind. According to Moon, then, sin is a matter of genetics (physical children of Lucifer), not moral choice. Salvation, therefore, requires a physical redemption; i.e. it is a matter of being born of Moon’s physical bond or entering a marriage union chosen and blessed by Moon himself. [Originally, “Blood cleansing” as defined by Moon was accomplished for any male by having sexual relations with a woman that had been “cleansed” by Moon (i.e., had sexual relations with Moon). Now, those who totally submit to Moon’s authority (e.g., defined as turning over all financial assets to the Unification Church, allowing Moon to choose one’s mate, etc.) may consider their devotion to be a spiritual kind of purification not requiring sexual cohabitation.]11

God the Father:

They deny the Triune nature of God, instead saying that God is dualistic in nature being composed of both male and female energies.

Jesus Christ:

Jesus is not God, He is not virgin born, He is not the Savior of the world.  Jesus is a failure, the bastard son of Zachariah and Mary and begged Mr. Moon to complete his “failed” mission (see D.P. pp. 143-145).  At best Jesus provided an incomplete spiritual salvation and not the full physical redemption designed by God.

The Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit is not “God” but is the impersonal redemptive activity of God.  They teach that the Holy Spirit is female and the “spirit-wife” of Jesus the failure (see D.P. p. 113).

Salvation:

Naturally, Moon as all non-Christian religions teaches salvation by personal works:

Moonies teach the “Law of Indemnity” — that God’s children must pay for at least a part of their debt of sin before God will forgive them. They believe a person earns his salvation through fasting, fund-raising, recruitment, and other such works. They claim that both a spiritual and a physical salvation are needed — and that the “third Adam” will provide physical salvation by marrying and producing sinless children (Divine Principle, p. 148). They teach that once the “third Adam” comes, those who have paid indemnity will also be able to marry and bear sinless children. [HJB] Moonies view Moon as that “third Adam” who provides physical salvation through a perfect family (indeed, his twelve children are considered sinless!), and extends this perfection to his followers through their obedience to him.12

There we have it!  “Trickle down salvation” that starts with Moon and his perfect family and spreads to those who have been tireless workers and whom Moon puts together as husband and wife.  These now blessed couples will produce perfect families such as their Master’s, i.e. broken families of immorality, substance and physical abuse and in the end, hell.  According to Moon eventually all of mankind will be saved and hell will be dissolved by the expanding universe.

I will not waste much time mentioning that Moon was a shrewd businessman and invested his cult’s assets into a vast global empire spanning everything from the making of air rifles to ginseng drinks!  These businesses are run by his family members and trusted flunkies and many of them are staffed with Moonies who work for little pay and give much back to Moon!

Moon is Dead, Now What?

Frankly, I do not know what this will mean.  Moon never really prepared for a successor, He was the “guy” period.  His teachings did not make room for someone to continue his work, he said he fulfilled it.  As with many groups based on failed promises and/or prophetic utterances I believe we will see a “spiritualizing” of many of Moon’s belief’s about his success.  Sort of like the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses spiritualizing events they said would take place on earth.  Those left behind (a little End-Time lingo) will have to do some very fancy footwork to keep he religious aspect of the cult alive.

Key to the church’s religious future is the Rev. Hyung-jin Moon, the U.S.-born 33-year-old who was tapped to succeed his father several years ago as head of the church.  Known as “Sean” back at Harvard, where he studied, he is more fluent in English than Korean and has signs of his father’s charisma — but with an American sensibility. His sermons, delivered in English, are designed to appeal to the next generation of “Unificationists,” the name followers prefer over the moniker “Moonies.”13

Often cults wither away, thankfully, with the death of their founder, but in the case of the Moonies they may persist for a while longer.  Moon’s sort of sex-magic salvation is behind all of the “mass weddings” we’d see taking place with Mr. & Mrs. Moon presiding and blessing the arranged couples.  Through these marriages the women are saved, perfect children are born already members in the cult and if people are employed by a Moonie owned and operated business, they had best continue to toe-the-line.  These marriages alone account for thousands of people and families, so the cult has a sort of built-in survival system, at least for a little while.

Also, many cult watchers agree that Moon’s organization is indeed not so much a “religion” as it is a money-making concern.  They still field thousands of solicitors (beggars) on the streets of the capitals of the world asking for donations (and getting them), this brings in unknown amounts of cash which is used to keep the Perfect Family in the mannerto which they are accustomed.  It is a religious cult that provides the motivation to mobilize people to become slaves to Moon and his family organization.

The big question now that Moon’s being turned into compost is who will run his vast business global empire?

The church has amassed dozens of businesses in the United States, South Korea and even North Korea, including hotels, a ski resort, sports teams, schools, universities and hospitals.  One expert said the church’s business prospects appear brighter than its religious future. Tark Ji-il, a professor of religion at Busan Presbyterian University, described the church not as a religious organization but as a corporation made up of people with similar religious beliefs.  The church won’t give details about how much its businesses are worth, other than to describe them as part of a “multibillion-dollar” empire.14

He has ten of the twelve surviving perfect children and there are literally hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.  It seems the next eldest son is the head of the business wing of the cult:

An older brother, Kook-jin Moon, a 42-year-old also known as Justin, runs the Tongil Group, the church’s business arm.  The church has amassed dozens of business ventures over the years, including the New Yorker Hotel, a midtown Manhattan art deco landmark, and the Yongpyong ski resort in South Korea. It gave the University of Bridgeport $110 million over more than a decade to keep the Connecticut school operating. Moon also founded the Washington Times newspaper in 1982. (They also own the Associated Press newswire, the AP).15

Obviously, this leaves eight other siblings to either be happily bought off or possibly form some splinter group, only time will tell.

How Should Christians Engage the Moonies?

When  approached, most people will encounter Moonies soliciting money for runaway teen programs, substance abuse, pregnancy centers, etc.  Now they may be real programs (Moon has 100’s of non-profits) or they may be total lies.  Moon has a teaching called “heavenly deception”which allows Moonies to lie to others for the sake of the kingdom.  It is perfectly permissible to lie to those you are about to bilk.

A pair of fresh-faced usually young people approaches you asking for money to help the homeless.  They are well dressed, well groomed (kind of look a bit Mormony) and usually they will not say anything initially about religion, most have been taught to somewhat hide their affiliation with Moon and his cult until pressed on the point.  The following are merely suggestions and they can be applied to anyone who has not yet been converted to faith in Christ.

For many of my Lutheran brethren, it has not been our practice to actively “share our faith” on the public streets or door-to-door.  Be that as it may, we still need to be equipped to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.  If your pastor has not yet taught you how to share your faith effectively, then why not ask him to hold such as class or invite DMI to come and help equip the saints in your area!
1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear

#1.  Pray first!  Keep in mind all cult members have been deeply deceived and are totally invested in their group.  Realize that you are engaging in genuine spiritual warfare, so ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom (see James 1:5) and to “fill your mouth” with the proper words to share (Luke 12:12).

#2.  Share Christ alone!  Jesus is the focus of our witness. The Apostle Paul defined the gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). If we aren’t explaining the sacrifice of Christ, then we’re not really sharing the gospel. (See also 1 Corinthians 2:2 and Romans 10:9-10.)  Make sure to stress the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, not just one of many ways. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).   I would probably share the Father’s love for lost humanity with John 3:16 and make sure the cultist knows that our Father loves them so much He sent His only Son to die for them that they might have eternal life.  If this is all you have time to get out before they flee from the presence of the light in you — then thanks be to God you have shared enough!
#3.  Thank God!  At the end of your encounter then give God praise for allowing you to share your faith.  Know that when you have shared it is up to the Lord to convict and to draw to faith.  Our job is to simply share what Christ has done for the world and for us personally.  We are not the Savior, nor do we rest on our ability to share the Gospel.  God has promised that His Word will not return to Him void (Isa. 55:11).  In some cases we will be watering seed that has been previously sown (see 1 Cor. 3:8) at other times we will be sowing Gospel seeds, and yes at times you may meet people who are ready to be “harvested” into the Kingdom, i.e. people who come to repentance while you are with them.  In the sowing, the watering and the harvesting — the Lord of the harvest (Matt. 9:38) gets all the glory.

Moon is dead, now is the time for Christians to reach out to the confused devotees with the genuine Gospel.  One way to gain experience in sharing your faith proactively is simply go online and join the various forums sponsored by the Moonie cult and begin to engage the cultists with  God’s Word.  This is a less pressured way to witness and you have the ability to lookup texts immediately as your share and/or find answers quickly to somewhat “pithy” questions the cultists may ask.  Let me close this out by saying that in sharing our faith we do not have to have all the answers.  When asked questions you do not have an answer for then say “that is a good question, give me your number and I will get back to you with the answer.”  Our job is simply to be faithful, walk humbly before our God and share His love flowing through us to a dying world of neighbors for whom Christ died.

An Attitude of Gratitude

DMI wants to acknowledge the work of one of our fellow truth-tellers.  Sister Sherrie D. has single-handedly set up and run the DMI Blog for the last six years!  Due to her work the newsletters have now been read (to some degree) by over 100,000 people.

THANK YOU SHERRIE!

For six years of volunteering your time and gifts for Christ’s sake.  Fact is —— without the sacrifices of time, talent and treasure of ALL of our readers DMI would not be able to “Teach Truth & Expose Error.”  We give thanks and praise to God for each and everyone of you!

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/sun-myung-moon-dies-at-92-washington-times-owner-led-the-unification-church/2012/09/02/001b747a-f531-11e1-aab7-f199a16396cf_story.html.  Underlining added for emphasis.

2. To read more about his colorful life go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Patrick

3. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/sun-myung-moon-dies-at-92-washington-times-owner-led-the-unification-church/2012/09/02/001b747a-f531-11e1-aab7-f199a16396cf_story.html. Underlining added.
4. http://www.biblelineministries.org/articles/basearch.php3?action=full&mainkey=THE+CULT+OF+SUN+MYUNG+MOON. Underlining added.
5. Obtained from http://www.reocities.com/craigmaxim/m-3a.html.
6. Obtained from http://www.contendingfortruth.com/wp-content/uploads/Exposed-Chuck-Missler-Tim-Lahaye-etc.pdf
7. Obtained from http://www.icsahome.com/docview_elib.asp?Subject=Ex-Memers+and+Moon’s+Alienated+Kin+Speak+Out+About+Troubled+Family+Life
8. Obtained from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9517193/The-Rev-Sun-Myung-Moon.html
9. Obtained from http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/unificat.htm.
10. Bizarre, yes, original, no.  William Branham taught this sex-with-Satan nonsense aka as “the serpent seed doctrine” in the 40’s when Moon was involved with an underground Pentecostal cult, so he may have gotten gist of it then.
11. http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Cults/unificat.htm
12. Ibid.
13. Obtained from http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/feuds-concern-children-inherit-moons-empire-17142307#.UEYii41lQn0
14. Ibid. Obtained from http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/feuds-concern-children-inherit-moons-empire-17142307#.UEYii41lQn0. Underlining and highlights added for emphasis.
15. Ibid.





When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood Abuse is Inevitable

7 09 2011
Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 9 – When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood – Rev. Robert Liichow

 Discernment Ministries International

“When the Purpose of a Thing is Misunderstood Abuse is Inevitable”

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Last month I began an article on The International House of Prayer (IHOP) and now I want to focus in on what it is that actually transpires in these vaunted 24/7 never ending prayer services.

 I have gone as far as to join the IHOP website and I have spent too much time watching their archived services and reading through their own literature. One thing I am pretty firmly convinced of this that IHOP is a grand experiment, which may or may not yield anything verifiable. By “experiment” I mean that Bickle has put into motion a charismatic-experiment, something hitherto untried in the Church. This vision he has created is simply one of a long line of charismatic-experiments.

 Most people today know nothing about Shiloh in Maine operated by early restored apostle Frank Sanford which ended in the spiritual abuse of many people and the deaths of several of them and children as well. (2) Sanford was indirectly connected to another grand experiment down south from him in Zion, Illinois. Again, many people do not now that Zion was founded by apostle/prophet/healer John Alexander Dowie. Dowie wanted to create a godly city patterned after heaven. He got things going pretty good until he received the revelation that he was The Elijah to Come and after making that pronouncement he was stricken with a stoke and died suddenly, only to be replaced by several men more despicable than himself.

 In our day PTL had their little precious moments Kristian Kingdom. We know where that experiment ended up today — vacant land. Let us never forget The City of Faith that Oral Roberts built in Tulsa. Another costly, yet failed experiment. I am still waiting for the medical cure for cancer to come from the now defunct ORU Hospital and Medical School that Oral said God told him would happen. (3) The Children of God led by the now deceased David Berg aka Moses David tried to express a utopian view which was in reality nothing more than a thin veil to cover Berg’s insatiable sexual perversions. (4) Berg was a tongue-talking self-proclaimed restored prophet who burst onto the Jesus Movement in the late 1960’s.

 IHOP seems to be following this pattern. In all these cases a leader gets an “inspired” (aka novel) idea, gets feedback from others of like mind, seeks some form of biblical proof text(s) and rallies disciples and puts the vision into motion. When it fails later, as they all have, the leaders shrug their shoulders and keep on stepping leaving in their wake many shipwrecked souls.

 Think I am being harsh? I am not being harsh enough. Here is the proof: John Arnott allowed the Holy Laughter phenomena which destroyed true body ministry, burned out his staff and people. In the end, Arnott left TACF and took off when the revival died. The same thing happened to Pastor John Kilpatrick who oversaw the Pensacola revival (Brownsville Assembly of God, BAG). When problems arose at BAG and the crowds diminished revivalist Steve Hill left, then music leader Lindell Cooley bugged out and finally Kilpatrick left (or was fired, it is unclear) to assume the same role as Arnott who declared himself as one called to “shepherd the revival.” These men took the money and ran, leaving in their wake more damaged and abused souls.

 In researching IHOP I learned that there are many people (mostly unmarried) that make up the “staff” of the IHOP meetings. It is these people who have the responsibility to see to it that Isaiah 62:6-7 is fulfilled by them:

 I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: Ye that make mention of the LORD, Keep not silence. And give him no rest, Till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth. (5)

 As in some of the other experiments, the people all live together in a campus/communal setting. Living together makes sense on the surface, but in the charismatic experiment cases it has always been about control over people’s lives and has ended in spiritual abuse and often sexual abuse as well. The IHOP application form which asks some extremely personal questions concerning past sins. Answering such questions places the devotee at the “mercy” of their leaders who will refer to these forms if there are any problems with the person. Knowing every detail of one’s life, especially a detailed list of past sins is an easy way for a SINister to psychologically manipulate their followers by playing to either their strengths or weaknesses. Do I sound cynical? I hope not, but as one who has suffered spiritual abuse I know what I am saying is true.

 IHOP has been hopping along since 1999 but it has taken them awhile to develop to the place where they have people paying money to serve their vision. It takes time for abusive situations to develop. The initial recruits have to proe themselves to their leaders, who initially are very involved with the people. After some time of people coming and going a core group remains; these become the second tier of leadership. At this point the leader(s) usually back off from contact with the plebeians, (7) apart from the larger gatherings they spend their time “imparting” to tier two leaders and living off the largess generated from the “down-line” dupes in this Ponzi scheme. [I’d make money all day betting Bickle is virtually impossible to get “face time” with by the rank-n-file].

 There are now several credible accounts on the Internet from people long associated with IHOP who have escaped the madness and are now sharing their sad experiences. One Blog account located at truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/is-ihop-a-cult speaks about some common practices in the charismatic experiments formerly mentioned:

 1. Food deprivation (required fasting), 2. sleep deprivation – (praying at all hours of the day and night) Sleep and food depravation are all used as mind control methods! Mike Bickle’s own words: (Matthew 12:37 “for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”) “We require that all our full-time staff missionaries commit themselves to at least 50 hours per week of dedicated service. This includes helping to lead prayer and worship meetings, training missionaries and leaders, evangelism, outreach to the poor, administration of the Missions Base, etc. our missionaries maintain a rigorous prayer life with regular fasting as they serve the poor, sick, and needy in our outreaches.” So, the question is how do you support yourselves? If you have to work a secular job to pay for your food and rent and then are REQUIRED to work another 50 hours per week as a full time staff missionary, this causes SEVERE SENSORY DEPRIVATION! (8)

 Anyone whose studied religious phenomena knows that protracted fasting accompanied with hours of repetitive songs and ecstatic tongues does at least tow things in virtually all people: (1) it causes ones conscious mind, the ability for critical thinking aspects to be diminished, (2) and opens people up to paranormal experiences bypassing one’s normal state of perception. These practices are used as spiritual tools by all religious cultures to attain altered states of consciousness — EXCEPT — orthodox catholic Christianity. (9)

 Even the most cursory reading of any of IHOP’s literature reveals a myriad of paranormal (10) experiences including angelic visitations, visits from Jesus, visits to heaven/hell, out-of-body experiences which are the same results attained by the false religions and cultists whose deception is shown to them in the appropriate religious grab. If a Hindu has a demonic paranormal experience it falls within the context of his religious culture, background, former experience. So, I am not surprised that demons present their deceptions in Christian grab. Isn’t this what Scripture warns us about?

 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (11)

 Prayer, fasting, worship are as we know are godly activities when used in their biblically prescribed forms. However, when they become simply tools and or as spiritual weapons (12) depending upon the context of the gathering, although the atmosphere can change in these meeting in an instant and I mean suddenly from praising Jesus to calling down demonic strongholds with angry shouts, foot stamping, karate kicks in the air (I kid you not); they become twisted and open people up to deception. Never forget what Jesus taught us in:

 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (13)  John 8:31-32

 If we continue in God’s Word, being doers and not hearers only (James 1:22) we shall know the truth ( truth matters, it really does) and the truth we know shall set us free. However, I believe the converse is equally true. Just as the truth of God’s Word sets us free, the misapplication of His Word will put people in bondage, even though they think they are people of the Word.

 There is little contextual validation for using prayer, fasting and praise/worship as either weapons or as means of gaining spiritual power. [A Short Rabbit Trail to be Fair & balanced] I say “little” because of one possible text in:

 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (15) Mt. 17:18-21

 It would seem that Jesus is saying that “this” specific kind of demon is cast out by means of prayer and fasting. Some interpret this event to mean that since Jesus neither “prayed” nor “fasted” at that moment He was referring to living a fasted life in which one is prayed-up at al times so the disciple will be ready to victoriously encounter the demoniac. Others, say this refers to the need for a specific time of fasting and prayer in preparation to successfully cast out the demon. So if pressed I would agree that prayer and fasting can be used to cast out this specific demon if ever encountered. This text does not teach a doctrine that fasting and prayer is required to cast out all demons. [IHOP abuses prayer, fasting and their concept of worship. [End of the Trail]

 Let’s focus back on the abuse of the people, next month we will deal with the abuse of the three practices that comprise this movement. The formula is like this: Get the people to fast for long periods of time combined with hours of praying in other tongues during virtually their every waking moment liberally sprinkled with dancing, moving around, loud repetitive music both vocal & instrumental. Intersperse during the lulls in these marathon services with quasi preaching exhortations delivered under the emotion that befit’s the mood. (16) The result is like this: A room full of, in Rush Limbaugh lingo, peole with “skulls full of mush.” Within the large group is a sub-group that is highly susceptible to suggestion, probably many more people than we suspect and these folks comprise the swallow-and-follow cadre of devotees. These folks have been taken “captive” by the enemy (2 Timothy 2:26) and they have suspended their rational critical thinking abilities. The fact remains, there are things people will do or believe under duress that they would not act on or accept if in their sober mind (1 Peter 1:13). Many leaders use what I have shared (the less scrupulous SINisters in their ranks) because they know the mechanics work whenever they are applied.

 The following is the testimony of a former prayer-warrior showing how these spiritual practices were really tools for manipulation, spiritual control and abuse:

 1. Mandatory fasts which made me very physically ill. They would never admit to having “mandatory” fasts but when you don’t have any food available, close down the kitchen, give your cook the day off and don’t allow interns to hold jobs (or that they have money to go buy food if they aren’t participating in the fast) then that is called mandatory.

 2. Being practically held hostage in the prayer room and told that it was required that I be there and I was not allowed to leave even though I did not feel well and wanted to go back to my apartment. I was told I needed to stay in the prayer room to be part of the “corporate anointing” and that I shouldn’t leave. It was one of my “required” prayer room sets as an intern so I spent the remainder of that 2-hour set in one of the side prayer rooms in the back sobbing on the floor because I wanted to leave so badly and our internship leaders were standing by the door. You might ask “why didn’t you just force your way out and leave anyway?” When you are part of a cult where free, independent thinking is not condoned when you don’t comply with what is expected of you, very often guilt, manipulation and penalties are instated for those who resist. Interns who didn’t follow “the rules” of the internship were penalized through loss of privileges (such as loss of your day off, having to do extra work/manual labor, etc.)

 3. The grip of control and micro-management increasing: greater demands and restrictions on interns (such as increased pressure to fast more to attain a higher pinnacle of spirituality) being told where we had to sit when in the prayer room, taught a model for how to pray, how to dance, sing, etc. Any form of worship outside of this model was not considered to be acceptable. It had to fit IHOP’s style and method to be admissible.

 4. Mandatory journaling assignments which we had to do weekly and then we had to turn in our journals to be read by internship leaders. (17)

 I do not doubt the validity of the many growing complaints by former IHOP participants. These groups/experiments have always ended up being abusive to its followers. Sometimes they can be pulled back from the brink of becoming labeled an actual cult. This was the case concerning The Jesus People U.S.A. (JEPUSA) located in Chicago. A large and influential charismatic commune that got very heavy-handed and abusive got brought back to some form of orthodoxy via the intervention of people like Dr. Norman Geisler and others. IHOP as an organization is beyond redemption, but the people, often referred to as sheeple can have their eyes opened and be recovered back to usefulness. God delivered Tracy and myself from extremism so I know He can do the same in the lives of others too.

 Next month we will biblically consider the three ingredients that comprise an IHOP meeting prayer, fasting and worship. I believe you will continue to learn why false doctrine produces false practices which often lead to bondage and abuse. Selah.

 Copyright © 2011 Robert S. Liichow

 1. Restored false apostle Myles Monroe made this statement to us as elders at an extremist congregation Detroit. Later he wrote a best selling book on “Purpose.”

 2. DMI has an excellent and hard to get book entitled: Shirley Nelson, Fair, Clear, and Terrible: The Story of Shiloh, Maine (Latham, New York: British American Publishing 1989). Nelson was the daughter of former members and it is fascinating and sobering reading. Check for it used at www.abebooks.com

 3. To read more about it check out http://www.ondocrine.com/10robero.htm

 4. Fellow truth-tellers have a good web site & article on Berg at http://www.arcapologetics.org/articles/article17.htm

5. The holy Bible: King James Version 2009 (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.) (Is. 62:6-7). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

6. Obtained from www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID=100005168o Underlining added for emphasis by the author.

7. Nothing like paying for the privilege to be abused.

 8. If you doubt what I say simply visit any big charismatic Word of Faith church say Word of Faith in Detroit with over 10,000+followers and try to speak personally with Pastor Keith Butler (you will not get past his armed bodyguards, I kid you not). This is common in many charismatic congregations where the pastor is led to and from the pulpit by his or her personal Armor Bearer one of whose duties is to deflect cloying toadies from the SINister.

 9. Obtained from www.truthspeaker.wordpress.com/2008/08/17/is-ihop-a-cult/ Bold type added to honor the text cited.

 10. By “Catholic” I obviously mean universal referring to the “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Faith” type of Catholic (I regularly tell people who ask “Oh me? I’m an Evangelical Catholic which never fails to open doors for communication).

 11. I purposefully use the term paranormal to describe these type of events. Only God is supernatural and only His actions are truly supernatural. Paranormal simply means beyond the normal observable realm, a realm I consider the haunt of demons and unclean spirits and all manner of darkness and deception that masquerades as the supernatural.

 12. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009) 2 Co. 11:14-15.

 13. When I was an extremist my wife and I ministered at a congregation led by a restored “Apostle.” We were know as a “warfare church,” in that we waged what we called “strategic level spiritual warfare” using as weapons fasting, long sessions of praying in tongues and protracted praise and worship times.

 14. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009) Jn 8:31-32.

 15. Naturally if you interpret “truth” here to refer to Jesus then simple faith in Him is eternal life, yet I do stand by the fact that a person cannot walk (live by faith, obey, etc…) the Word (portion of the Bible) they do not know. Ignorance is one thing, something that is easily ovrecome through study. Ignorance when combined with scriptural error and the resulting self-deception (see Gal. 6:3) takes the power of God’s Word rightly roclaimed to set at liberty such individuals.

 17. The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Mt 17:18-21.

 18. I’ve seen these guys cry at the drop of a hat, then quickly switch gears. If the service atmosphere is somber or too happy either can be manipulated by a skillful charismatic con-artist.

 19. Obtained from www.endtimepropheticwords.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/some-of-my-ihop-%E2%80%Cred-flags%E2%80%9D/ Underlining added for emphasis by the author.





The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

22 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 4 – The Word Of Faith Cult & the Atonement – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

The Easter Issue

Due to the faithful sacrificial giving of several individuals Discernment Ministries International is able to print another issue of Truth Matters. A dear couple has committed to help DMI get the website back online and with their (and others) help in a short time our web site will be back up on the Internet “Teaching Truth & Exposing Error.” We thank God for all our partners and especially give Him thanks for those individuals who heeded our recent plea for financial support. Truly Easter is a time of “resurrection.”

His servant and yours,

Rev. Bob Liichow

__________________________________ 

The Word of Faith Cult & the Atonement

By Bob Liichow & Moreno DeBallo

Since it is Easter time I thought it would be beneficial for us to study what is being preached, taught and unfortunately believed by millions of professing Christians around the world regarding the atonement of Jesus Christ.

There are some issues which we as Christians can disagree upon, things we Lutherans call “adiaphora” or “things indifferent,” such as the wearing of vestments, the exact age of communing a child, when Christmas is celebrated, length of a worship service, etc.

However, there are certain core beliefs which all Christians must agree about in order to be considered genuine believers. The atonement of Christ on our behalf is one of those central doctrines of the Church.

Unfortunately the Church has been deluged with a blasphemous heresy regarding the atonement for over forty years now. Many of the most prominent charismatic televangelists believe and teach what shall be shared in the rest of this article.

Lest anyone think that their favorite televangelist surely does not teach such error allow me to cite just a few of the most well know purveyors of this damnable poison: Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Hagin Jr. , Fred Price, Benny Hinn, Marilyn Hickey, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Jessie Duplantis, Jerry Savelle, Norval Hayes and Charles Capps to name just a few.

On the cross the satanic nature entered Jesus at the point of spiritual death upon the cross. It was then that He literally became sin and was separated from God. The spiritual death of Jesus transformed Him from a man into a mortal and satanic creation. Kenneth Copeland ‘enlightens’ us, “See you have to realize that He (Jesus) died; you have to realize that He went into the pit of hell as a mortal man made sin. But He didn’t stay there, thank God. He was reborn in the pit of Hell and resurrected.”   (54)

Furthermore, we are told by Copeland that while in hell Christ’s “…emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit…” (55)  was tortured by Satan and every demon in hell without legal right. The reason given by Copeland as to why Jesus could not be detained in hell is that Jesus was not an actual sinner but was only made sin as the result of the sins of others, plus the fact that Satan had forgotten this detail Copeland says, “The Devil forgot to take into consideration that Jesus hadn’t sinned Himself but, rather had merely become sin as a result of the sin of others.” (56)  I don’t know how stupid Copeland thinks Satan is, but it is very difficult to perceive how the wisest of God’s creature could simply forget such a truth. Where is the evidence to sustain all of this in Scripture anyway? Conveniently, what Copeland and others fail to find support for in the Bible is attributed to personal conversations with God or His Son, as has so often been the case with other espousers of ‘new truth’.

This apparently was the opening God had been awaiting. We are told that God spoke forth words of faith into hell, and as Copeland articulates: “…that Word of the Living God went down into the pit of destruction and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wrack spirit began to fill out and come back to life. He began to look like something the Devil had never seen before. He began to flex his spiritual muscles…Jesus was born again–the first born from the dead.”   (57)

This is nothing but sheer fantasy. Copeland twists the meaning of first born from the dead (Col. 1:18), from that of pre-eminence, to the false notion of Christ’s being born again. What possible need would Jesus, the sinless and Holy Son of the Holy God have to be born again? This teaching, perhaps more than others we have discussed, does away with the truth that Jesus is unchangeable, and strips Him of His eternal deity!  (Heb. 13:8).  This false teaching unveils Copeland’s ignorance and distinct lack of understanding of Biblical terminology, his total disregard for Bible scholars, the most eminent theologians and Church history. Not surprisingly, these sources are often ridiculed by Copeland and other Faith leaders.

The fable does not end here. Charles Capps teaches that the outcome of all this was the birth of the Church! Capps says, “Jesus was born again in the pit of hell. He was the firstborn, the first begotten, from the dead. He started the church of the firstborn in the gates of hell…He went down to the gates and started His Church there…The Church started when Jesus was born again in the gates of hell.” (58)  Not only was the Incarnate Almighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ born again in hell, but according to Capps, the very Church of Christ can trace its roots to the gates of hell!

This teaching is so preposterous that I will give only the briefest response by answering with the truth that the birth of the Church, as any Christian knows, began on the day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2.

Best-selling author Benny Hinn gives this piece of ‘revelation knowledge’ to his hearers: “My, you know, whoosh! The Holy Ghost is just showing me some stuff. I’m getting dizzy! I’m telling you the truth–it’s, it’s just heavy right now on me…He’s (referring to Jesus) in the underworld now. God isn’t there, the Holy Ghost isn’t there, and the Bible says He was begotten. Do you know what the word begotten means? It means reborn. Do you want another shocker? Have you been begotten? So was he. Don’t let anyone deceive you. Jesus was reborn. You say, ‘What are you talking about?’…He was reborn. He had to be reborn…if He was not reborn, I would never be reborn. How can I face Jesus and say, ‘Jesus you went through everything I’ve gone through, except the new birth?”   (59)

Despite Hinn’s claims to divine revelation, the word begotten does not mean reborn. The true meaning of the word begotten is simply born, or to be born. It has nothing to do with being reborn. A moment of basic Bible study will reveal that Jesus is referred to as the only begotten from the Father (NASB), or, the one and only Son who came from the Father (NIV) (John 1:14; cf. John 1:18; 3:16), which stresses the unique nature of our Lord, Hebrews 1:5, “Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee,” is a reference to Christ’s resurrection. God raised up Christ from the dead and imparted life to His body, and, as Albert Barnes notes, “By His own power restored Him; and hence is said figuratively to have begotten Him from the dead.” (60) (cf. Psa. 2:7; Acts 13:33). The resurrection was a type of begetting to life, or its beginning (Rev. 1:5).

Copeland accentuates the issue (note his subtle changing of the word firstborn to reborn), by saying “It is important for us to realize that a born again man defeated Satan…Colossians 1:18 refers to Jesus as the firstborn from the dead…He was the first man to be reborn under the new covenant.” (61)

The original Greek word for firstborn (prototokos), speaks not of being born again, but of primacy; headship and pre-eminence. Colossians 1:18 (cf. Rom. 8:29), simply denotes Christ’s supremacy over all creation, as the context of Colossians 1 will bare out (cf. Col. 1:15). The remainder of v. 18, …among the dead, is a reference to Christ’s bodily resurrection, not of a mythical spiritual death from which He needed to be reborn. Michael Moriarty expounds: “Scripture is clear that the term ‘firstborn’ is used to refer to the physical birth of the first child born into a family, but also speaks of a person’s position, rank or status. For example, in Israel the firstborn son has special birthrights and privileges. He succeeded his father as head of the house and received a larger portion of the inheritance; these were his birthrights. The nation of Israel is also called God’s ‘firstborn’ and received special blessings and privileges as compared with the heathen nations (Ex. 4:22). In this same way Jesus is called the firstborn (Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:6). The term has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus being born again; such an option is completely foreign to the Biblical text and is much closer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ understanding of this word (firstborn = first created), than it is to orthodox Christianity’s.  Jesus Christ is the Pre-eminent One, the first Heir to all creation. The N.T. calls Jesus the firstborn in reference to His exalted position and firstborn right of inheritance. He is first in rank and has first place in everything. ‘ And He is the Head of the body, the Church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.” (Col.1:18).   (62)

Kenneth Hagin, who on occasion has denied that he has ever taught such things, clearly does so in this statement, “Why did He (Jesus) need to be begotten, or born? Because He became like we were; separated from God. Because He tasted spiritual death for every man….Jesus was the first person that was ever born again.”   (63)

Gloria Copeland, in her book God’s Will, says, After Jesus was made sin, He had to be born again…(Therefore) Jesus is a born again man. This is the same new birth that the Good News of the Gospel still offers to any man who will accept it.” To teach that Jesus needed to undergo a new birth is to teach that He at one time had an unregenerate and sinful nature, which is precisely what these Faith teachers would have us believe. It is to deny the indisputable fact that Jesus is the eternal God and has always been God.  According to Hebrews 13:8, Jesus cannot change in essence. He is eternal. There is no beginning, no end and NO INTERRUPTION to His Godhood! (cf. Mal. 3:6; John 5:26; Phil. 2:6).

As we approach the next chapter, one may be thinking, ‘where are all these extraordinary teachings leading to? The following statement made by Kenneth Copeland will show exactly where. It will take us to the precipice and then plunge us head first into an age old lie. The Serpent’s lie!! Copeland declares: The Spirit of God spoke to me and He said, “Son realize this. Now follow me in this and don’t let your tradition trip you up.’ He said, ‘Think this way–a twice born man whipped Satan in his own domain.’ And I threw my Bible down…like that. I said, ‘What? He said ‘A born again man defeated Satan, the firstborn of many brethren defeated him.’ He said ‘You are the very image, the very copy of that one.’ I said, ‘Goodness, gracious sakes alive!’ And 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 have done the same thing?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, if you’d had the knowledge of the Word of God that He did, you could’ve done the same thing, cause you’re a reborn man too.”  (64)

If ever there was an absolute departure from the Word of God, from the most basic understanding of what the Bible teaches, this is it. Kenneth Copeland, a mere man, not only claims that he could have redeemed mankind by defeating Satan in hell, but he dares attribute this nonsense as being communicated to him directly by the Holy Spirit!!

If Copeland could have redeemed us, then we also could have done the same thing. We could all have been our own saviours were it not for our lack of knowledge! The Christian is to be on guard against false doctrine, especially when it is presented to him with a smile and in an authoritative manner, Oftentimes, such ‘new truth’ is presented to the eager listener as God’s very own Words.

Thus far, we have investigated the Faith movement’s claims that Christ’s death on the cross was not enough to atone for our sins; that Christ had to die spiritually for every man; that He took upon Himself the satanic nature; and that He needed to suffer the agonies of hell and become born again in order to acquire the redemption of mankind. And the outcome of all this, so Kenneth Copeland believes, is that, “He (Jesus) was the pattern of a new race of men.”   (65)

One always needs to be aware of the origins of a doctrine and where it leads. Perhaps the underlying reason for this massive straying from Scriptural soundness on the part of Faith leaders, has been to lead us to the subject at hand: The Deification of Men!

No words can better illustrate what the Faith leaders teach concerning the rebirth and what it means for us, than the following statement made by Benny Hinn:

“When you were born again the Word was made flesh in you. And you became flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone. Don’t tell me you have Jesus. You are everything He was and everything He is and ever shall be…It (the new man) says, ‘I am as He is.’ That’s what is says…As He is, so are we in this world. Jesus said, ‘Go in My name go in My stead.’ Don’t say, ‘I have.’ Say, ‘I am, I am, I am, I am, I am.!   (66)

Most recently, Hinn has declared, “When you say, ‘I am a Christian,’ you are saying, ‘I am mashiach’ in the Hebrew. I am a little messiah walking on earth, in other words. That is a shocking revelation….May I say it like this? You are a little god on earth running around.”   (67)

The Faith movement and certain charismatics hold that upon being born again, Jesus’ divine nature returned to Him, and subsequently every born again person has also been infused with God’s own nature. 2 Peter 1:4  is the verse that is quoted to prove that we have the nature of God,”…that by these (promises) you might be partakers of the divine nature…” Note that Peter here has said that we might be partakers of His divine nature not essence. The verse is simply saying that we may become partakers of God’s attributes, His divine qualities not His divinity for God has said,” …I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me”  (Isa. 43:10).

In order to better understand who Copeland says we are, we need to grasp just who he believes Adam was. Copeland believes that:

“God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself and in the Garden of Eden He did just that (Adam) was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even…Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as JesusAdam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh.” (68)

The Faith movement does not adhere to the Biblical teaching of Adam and what happened at the Fall. They believe that Adam inherited Satan’s nature at the Fall and that this was our condition before becoming born again partakers of the divine nature. Kenneth Hagin expounds on this concept and believes that not only was Adam God manifest in the flesh, but that we are all just as much incarnations of God as Jesus was!! Hagin states, “Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.” (69)   It would appear from this statement that Satan’s lie in the Garden of Eden, “ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5), has taken on yet another façade. Hagin’s claim divests the word incarnation of its unique reference to Jesus Christ (John 1:14), and turns a one time act into a daily occurrence!

Hank Hanegraaff makes the observation that the whole idea of an incarnation only makes sense if a person existed prior to having a physical body, He explains: “….while the bible clearly declares Christ to be pre-existent (John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5), nowhere in Scripture do we find the concept of human pre-existence. In fact, human pre-existence remains a concept relegated largely to such cults as Mormonism. The fact that Christians are indwelt by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (John 14:17,23) in no way implies that the Bible endorses the concept of incarnation for Christians.”   (70)

It is unsettling enough that many such claims are coming out of the Faith movement. What is of greater concern however, is the fact that they are being all too readily accepted as Christian teaching, which should make the disciple of Christ wonder just what is happening in Christianity today. One has commented that the Faith movement has infiltrated Christianity, not unlike the New Age invasion of the world’s affairs. If there are any who doubt that the Faith leaders are proclaiming that all Christians are gods, please read on.

Kenneth Copeland makes the bold announcement that, “You don’t have a God living in you, you are one!”  (71)   And again, “God has been reproduced on the inside of you.” (72)  Kenneth Hagin also promotes this tenet when he says, “This eternal life He came to give us is the nature of God.” He then adds, “It is in reality, God imparting His very nature, substance, and being to one human spirit…Zoe, then, means eternal life, or God’s life. This new kind of life is God’s nature…Even many in the great body of Full Gospel people do not know that the new birth is a real incarnation…Jesus was first divine, and then He was human. So He was in the flesh a divine-human being. I was first human, and so were you, but I was born of God, and so I became a human-divine being!”   (73)

Hagin here elevates himself to the rank of a god. His view is that we are all god-men as was God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. The view is similar to Nestorianism, a 5th century heresy which was condemned by Church leaders at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431. Michael Moriarty explains: “This view, developed by the scholarly monk Nestorius (ca. 381 – ca 452), taught that the Word did not actually become flesh (John 1:14) but only united Himself to a human being. Christ was in effect a God-bearer rather than the God-man. Nestorius ended up making Christ out to be a man in whom, in Siamese twin fashion, the divine and human natures were combined in a mechanical union rather than in an organic union of natures, Hagin’s view of the incarnation is very similar to the fifth-century Nestorian heresy.” (74)

The concept which teaches that, at conversion, we become spirit-gods who merely reside in human bodies is Gnostic in origin and is also touted by Gloria Copeland. She states in her article ‘A Fast Brings New Direction’, in Christian Life magazine, “When we are born again we become a spirit being in a flesh body.”

Gnostic belief held that material creation is evil, but the sparks of divinity have been encapsulated in the bodies of certain ‘spiritual’ individuals who have been destined for salvation.

Kenneth Copeland makes his views quite clear when he says, “You need to realize that you are not a spiritual schizophrenic—half God and half Satan–you are all God.” (75)   One can easily identify whose fingerprints are impressed upon this teaching and others that we have mentioned specifically in this chapter, for they all promote the Devil’s lie to Eve in the Garden”…ye shall be as gods…” (Gen 3:5).

There has not been much analysis of these teachings in this issue of Truth Matters because they are self-damning. However, we will take a closer look at the most poplar passage from Scripture applied by Faith teachers to support their ‘little-gods’ theory, John 10:31 – 39. In v. 34 we see Jesus addressing the Jews and saying, “Is it not written in your law, I said ye are gods?” Jesus is here responding to his opponents with an ironical use of Psalm 82:6, where God condemns the unrighteous judges of Israel for their self-righteous attitude and pride. These judges sinned by showing partiality towards the wicked rather than defending the weak. Psalm 82:7 is one verse you will never hear from the mouth of Faith leaders. After calling these judges gods, God says in the next verse, “But ye shall die like men…”

Jesus was reminding the Jews that the Scriptures called Israel’s judges gods, not because they were in any way divine, but because of their roles as representatives of divine justice. Moses and the judges in Exodus were also referred to as gods because they, like God, held the power of life and death (Ex. 4:15, 16; 6:28 – 7:2; 21:6; 22:8,9). The word gods is used symbolically to show that the judges were the representatives of God. God told Moses in Exodus 1, “I have made thee a god to Pharaoh”, an obvious reference to Moses’ being as a god, not literally divine. Walter Martin comments on John 10:34, “Jesus mocks the people as if to say, ‘You all think you’re gods yourselves. What’s one more god among you? Irony is used to provoke us, not to inform us. It is not a basis for building a theology.”   (76)

The idea that we, or any created being can be like God is a lie of Satan’s. It was this very desire–to be like God– that brought the fall of Lucifer (Isa. 14:14). There is only one God– there shall only ever be one God (Deut. 5:35,39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 7:22; Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 45:5,6; 21:22; 1 Cor. 8:4,6; Gal. 4:8). No one is as God is, neither is anyone even remotely like God.

The Faith movement doctrine which purports that being born again means we become as Christ was–a God-bearing people–a new race of men, was also presented to the Church during the 4th century, and is known as the Appolinarian heresy. John 1:12,13 is used as a proof text that we share God’s divinity. The fundamental difference between Jesus as the Son of God and the Christian as a son of God, is that He is the only begotten of God, and we are adopted sons. Contrary to Copeland’s claim that “Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God”, the Bible tells us that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son (John 3:18; 1 Jn. 4:9). Jesus remained the second Person of the Trinity when He became flesh. We are not an incarnation we are not gods in the flesh. We are never spoken of in Scripture as being incarnations of God. The notion that man is, or ever will be, a god is only ever spoken of in Scripture as idolatry and blasphemy.

These declarations of men are more at home with the ravings of Orange People guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who once exclaimed, “When you call Jesus, really you have called me. When you call me, really you have called Jesus.” (78) Or that of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of Transcendental Meditation fame, “Be still and know that you are God.” (79) Faith teachers have yet another infamous comrade in Jim Jones, who taught, “It is written that ye are gods. I’m a god and you’re a god…until I see all of you knowing who you are, I’m gonna be very much what I am—God, Almighty God.”

As this article has shown the Word of Faith cult is teaching another Jesus and another non-biblical view of the atonement of Jesus Christ. As Christians we can disagree about many things, but when it comes to the Person and Work of Christ we can not accept any divergent view that deviates one iota from the Apostolic teachings held by the Church for the last two thousand years. Mr. Copeland and his ilk have placed themselves outside the boundaries of the Church and must not be considered genuine Christians until they repent and recant their heretical teachings concerning Jesus Christ and especially His work on the cross. ♦

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

54. K. Copeland, audiotape #00-0303, op, cit.

55. K. Copeland, “Believer’s Voice of Victory” program 21 April 1991. This massage was originally delivered at the Full Gospel Motorcycle Rally Association 1990. Rally at Eagle Mountain Lake, Texas.

56. K. Copeland, audiotape #00-0303, op. cit. Side B

57. K. Copeland, “The Price of It All”, Believer’s Voice of Victory 19, 9 Sept. 1991; 4-6

58. C. Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, op. cit p. 212-213.

59. B. Hinn, “Our Position in Christ, Part 1”, Orlando, FL: Orlando Christian Centre, 1991, videotape # TV – 254

60. A. Barnes, op. cit. p. 461

61. K. Copeland :Jesus our Lord of Glory”, 3 op. cit.

62. M. Moriarty, op. cit. p. 375

63. K. Hagin, How Jesus Obtained His Name, Tulsa: Rhema audiotape #44H01.

64. K. Copeland, Substitution and identification, K. Copeland Ministries, 1989, audiotape #00-0203, Side B

65. K. Copeland, audiotape #00-303, op. cit.

66. B. Hinn, “Our Position in Christ” #2 The Word Made Flesh”, Orlando, FL. Orland Christian Centre, 1991 audiotape #A031190-2 Side B.

67. B. Hinn, “Praise-a-Thon” program on TBN, 6 November 1990.

68. K. Copeland “Following the Faith of Abraham 1” , Side A, Fort Worth, Texas K Copeland Ministries, 1989, audiotape #01-3001.

69. K. Hagin, “The Incarnation”, The Word of Faith magazine, 13, 12 (Dec. 1980); 14

70. H. Hanegraaff. Op. cit. p. 176.

71. K. Copeland, “The Force of Love”, Fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Ministries, n.d. audiotape BCC-56.

72. K. Copeland, “the Force of Righteousness”, Fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Minstries, 1984, p 12.

73. K. Hagin, Zoe: The god-Kind of Life, Tulsa, OK Faith Library, 1981 p. 40.

74. M. Moriarty, op. cit p. 332

75. K. Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory, march 1982, p. 2

76. W. Martin, “Ye Shall Be As Gods” The Agony of Deceit, ed. M.A. Horton, Chicago: Moody, 1990. P. 97.

77. K. Copeland, How We Are in Christ Jesus, fort Worth, Texas, K. Copeland Ministries, n.d. p. 24.





The Cult of Personality Is Crumbling

20 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 2 – The Cult of Personality Is Crumbing – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Cult of Personality Is Crumbling

By Rev. Bob Liichow

The following article is written by Gillian Flaccus – Associated Press Writer on 2/1/2009. The highlighting italics and underlining were added by DMI for emphasis.

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. – Once one of the nation’s most popular televangelists, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller is watching his life’s work crumble. His son and recent successor, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, has abruptly resigned as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. The shimmering, glass-walled mega church is home to the “Hour of Power” broadcast, an evangelism staple that’s been on the air for more than three decades.

The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County Property to pay off debts. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle’s Club members – who supply 30 percent of the church’s revenue – for donation and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support.

“The final months of 2008 were devastating for our ministry,” the 82-year old pastor wrote.

The Crystal Cathedral blames the recession for its woes. But it’s clear that the elder Schuller’s carefully orchestrated leadership transition, planned over a decade, has stumbled badly. It’s a problem common to personality driven ministries. Most have collapsed or been greatly diminished after their founders pulpit or died.

Members often tie their donations to the pastor, not the institution, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University. Schuller, with a style that blends pop psychology and theology, has a particularly devoted following, she said. “Viewers are probably much less likely to give when it’s not their preacher they’re giving to,” she said. “There’s something about these televised programs where people develop a certain loyalty.”

Today’s increasingly fragmented media landscape is also to blame, said Quentin Schultze, a Calvin College professor who specializes in Christian media. Church-based televangelism led by powerful personalities filled TV in the 1980s, but now only a handful of shows remain, he said. Among the struggling ministries are those of Oral Roberts and the late D. James Kennedy of “The Coral Ridge Hour” TV show. “I don’t see a scenario for maintaining a TV-based mega church anymore. The days of doing that in the models of Schuller and Jimmy Swaggart and Oral Roberts are over,” Schultze said. “It’s amazing to me that the ‘Hour of Power’ was able to keep going as long as it did.”

Through a spokesman Schuller Sr., his family members and other cathedral officials declined to comment. The younger Schuller, 54, did not respond to an e-mail requesting an interview. The elder Schuller, who called his weekly show “America’s Television Church,” founded his ministry in a drive-in-theater after moving to Southern California in 1955.

He studied marketing strategies to attract worshippers and preached a feel-good Christianity, describing himself as a “possibility thinker” and spinning his upbeat style into a 10,000-member church and a broadcast watched by millions worldwide. The church’s main sanctuary, the Crystal Cathedral, is a landmark designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, with a spire visible from afar amid Orange County’s suburban sprawl. Thousands make the pilgrimage to see where the broadcast is filmed before a live congregation. The Schullers consider the church a family business and the younger Schuller’s 2006 appointment was sanctioned by the Crystal Cathedral’s parent denomination, the Reformed Church in America.

But the church announced on Nov. 29, that Schuller Jr. had resigned as senior pastor, just a month after he was removed from the church’s syndicated broadcasts. In a news release, Schuller Sr. said: “Robert and I have been struggling as we each have different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry.” The church since instituted a rotating roaster of high-profile guest preachers, including Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago-area mega church, and evangelist Luis Palau.

Schuller Sr.’s daughter and sons-in-law remain involved in the church, some in key roles. But Juan Carlos Ortiz, the interim senior pastor, hopes to appoint a senior pastor with no ties to the Schuller family within two years.

On the church Web site, concerned members and TV fans have posted hundreds of comments protesting the upheaval, with some indicating they have stopped giving or will leave altogether.

Several angry viewers have launched petitions to get the younger Schuller back. Melody Mook, a 58-year-old medical transcriptionist from El Paso, Texas, said she stopped her $25 monthly donation and is looking elsewhere for her spiritual needs. She said she dislikes the guest pastors. “I feel hurt and confused and I’m not sure that I want to sit and watch when I know there’s problems beneath the surface,” she said. “You feel like you’re in somebody else’s church every Sunday.” Others said they felt betrayed that the Schullers couldn’t put God before their family spat. “They have not been forthcoming at all,” said John Dewart, an insurance agent from New Jersey who’s watched for 30 years. “Why can’t a father and son work together for the glory of God.? That’s my big question.”

(End of Article)

For years, even when I was a raving charismatic one thing I always disagreed with was the practice of naming ministries, later I learned were really SINistries ) after the people who started them. When you put your name on something it points to you and if you are in ministry my advice is for you to always point to Jesus Christ the One who are supposed to be serving.

So the article by Flaccus should not come as any surprise. When various so-called works of God that are built upon fallen men or women will begin to crumble and fall when their founders begin to die off. I can promise you that any work that is bearing the name of a man will bear some of the marks of a cult of personality. I am referring to works men name after themselves, not names given by others posthumously.

For example, Oral Roberts reported that no less than God Himself told him never to touch the “three G’s.” The three g’s are (1) the gold, (2) the glory and (3) the girls. Well Oral seems to have been obedient with number 3, he is the husband of one wife with no hint of adultery. He failed with number one, he is phenomenally wealthy and number two he did name his university after himself, i.e. “Oral Roberts University,” and his SINistry is called “Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” So is it any wonder with Oral and his deathbed that his son Richard is having trouble keeping the ORU ship afloat not to mention the television aspect of the work? After all, these things bear Oral’s name and not Richard’s. At best he stands in the shadow of his allegedly anointed father, a shadow Richard never could nor will outgrow.

Benny Hinn Media Ministries, is one of the “official” names of Mr. Hinn’s moneymaking machine. When he dies it will not continue. Why not? Because it is built around Mr. Hinn there is no “ministry.” The same can be said of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Joyce Meyer Ministries, Jerry Savelle Ministries, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, Ed Dufresne Ministries, Marilyn Hickey Ministries, ad nauseam.

None of the above were created to live any longer than their flawed founders, apart from their specious books and tapes. None of them has any plans to really continue after the deaths of their namesakes. These leaders are not interested in raising up disciples because their operations are one-man shows. NEVER FORGET THIS FACT! It is all about Benny Hinn, Kenny Copeland, Joyce and Jesse.

Perhaps the one exception to the rule might be Marilyn Hickey Ministries. Marilyn is getting pretty long in the tooth so to speak and is not in the best of health. So a couple of years back she brought her daughter Sarah along side her. However, Sarah lacks the abilities her first-grade teacher mom has in communicating to audiences. She does try to use the same aphorisms and gestures as Marilyn but she ain’t Marilyn and when Marilyn dies that work will decrease to infecting people on a local church level as opposed to the current global level of infection.

I suppose in retrospect it is somewhat of a good thing that these SINisters thought only of themselves when they got started out. Because they have a built in self-destruct button in the form of their death (and I do not care how much faith you have, there is still one death per person).

In closing, I find it interesting that I cannot find one biblically sound television ministry that is named after a living person, man or woman. Names have meaning names indicate things and point people in certain directions. Biblically, names are important and often have prophetic meaning. Thus, I think the very act of consciously naming of a work (that is supposed to be about Jesus) after oneself speaks volumes abut the direction that work will take. Jesus’ words are as true today as they will be forever when He says “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” 

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow





“HEARING” THE VOICE OF GOD

23 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 4 – “Hearing the Voice of God – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Hearing the Voice of God

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

One of the most frustrating things for me as a charismatic extremist was hearing the various testimonies of my teachers regarding hearing the voice of God. All of these men and women made it abundantly clear to us mere sheep that they were in fact in daily, if not, moment-to-moment communication with the Ancient of Days.

Usually their sermons or lessons began with statements like “ I was in prayer the other night and the Lord said to me ‘son why don’t you explain what faith is to My people’ and I said yes Lord and He opened my eyes to the scriptures like never before.” Obviously, we as the hearers upon hearing this statement buckled down in our seats, got out our pens and took notes on what was divinely revealed to the speaker (you can insert almost anyone’s name e.g. Ken Hagin, Copeland, Savelle, Dollar, Price, Jakes, White, Meyer, Dupantis, Hayes, et al.). After their stirring words we little sheep would wander to our homes wondering what did it take to actually “hear the voice of God”? We were literally in awe of people like Kenneth Hagin senior who said on a regular basis that God was more “real to him then his wife.” Also, Mr. Hagin was a man who claimed to have had at least seven (7) direct face-to-face encounters with the risen Christ, during which encounters Mr. Hagin was given revelations which became some of the body of his teachings {doctrine}. Obviously Mr. Hagin and many of our other teachers had a relationship with Jesus Christ that we did not have. Hagin used to share an anecdote that went something like this: “A man told me he was afraid of anyone who said God spoke to them, I answered him back and said I was afraid of anyone who God didn’t speak to!” In context let me add that Hagin was not talking about God speaking through His Word, he meant God speaking directly to us as individuals. Hagin’s position was that it was normative for God to speak to His children.

This obviously lack of intimate fellowship with the Godhead that our teachers seemed to have led many of us “on-fire” saints (me included) on the “hunt” for obtaining such an equally close fellowship with our Lord and Savior. After all, who does not want to “hear” the Holy Spirit say directly to them “go this way, turn left on Elm, “ or marry this woman,” or “accept this job position, it is My will.” Hearing from “God” on that level would take all of the guesswork out of life. If a person could hear so clearly from the Lord it would equal an error-free life (something God nowhere promises any of us in His Word) assuming the individual heeded everything the Lord told Him directly.

I’ll let you in on one of charismania’s dirty little secrets. A large portion of what charismatic teachers offer to those who will follow can be condensed into the claim that they (the teacher) possesses some spiritual experience which can be anyone’s if they will learn how to “tap in” as their teacher did. This experience can include some of the following examples: receiving revelation knowledge, receiving divine healing; walking in divine life; increasing the anointing in one’s life; achieving financial prosperity among other claims. Naturally merely attending a conference will probably not give one any of the above abilities. Thus the seeker is urged by the SINister or his or her shills to purchase books, tapes and DVD’s on the experience being sought, all of which happen to be for sale, authored by the SINister just outside the arena (all major credit cards accepted).

Apart from the extraordinary gifts, such as the power to heal or work miracles, every charismatic teacher claims to hear directly from God. The old expression “from God’s lips to my ear” would be wildly accepted by these people. Most Christian’s will accept that they will probably not work miracles or heal the lame, but at least they can hear from God can’t they?

The question is a simple one —does the Bible teach that the children of God would in fact hear His voice and be led by Him directly and individually? It does not matter how many people vociferously declare that God speaks to them directly to their spirits. As discerning Christians we must always go back and look at what the Bible teaches concerning this or any other matter being foist upon us.

Really the challenge is in the court of the charismatic extremists to prove to us biblically that it is the practice of God to speak individually to His children. The spiritual enthusiast has two general responses to this challenge. The popular response today (at least since the Holy Laughter paranormal manifestations) has been well expressed by Jack Deere, a former Dallas Theological Seminary professor who went off the spiritual rails so to speak:

God can and does give personal words of direction to believers today that cannot be found in the Bible. I do not believe that he gives direction that contradicts the Bible, but direction that cannot be found in the Bible.

According to Dr. Deere, John Arnott and a host of other charismatic leaders God speaks to His children all the time, gives them guidance, but it is of such a type that cannot be verified biblically. The best they can say is that any supernatural direction given, whether through dreams, visions, apparitions or voices will not violate the Bible!

This is the same type of argument that John Arnott (former pastor of the Toronto Airport Christian Church i.e. vortex of the holy laughter nonsense) gave me personally in our e-mail correspondence. Mr. Arnott in answering my concerns regarding all the non-biblical manifestations my wife and I eye witnessed in his congregation was simply to begin by citing John 21:25

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25 (KJV)

Arnott’s response to me was simply that what was taking place in the outpouring of the “new wine” of the Holy Spirit was nothing new, it just was not recorded in the Bible for us to read about. Holy Laughter, making animal noises, being slain in the spirit, uncontrollable jumping, jerking and running are simply part of the “many other things” Jesus did as well !!!

I responded by asking Arnott how can we know that what is happening is biblical if the Bible is silent on this specific matter? What are we to use as our guide pertaining to spiritual matters? His response was to direct me to all the good fruit being borne by the revival, the joy, the laughter, the changed lives of those undergoing these manifestations.

In the words of the arch-heretic Kenneth Copeland “that dog won’t hunt!” If the best Arnott can do is point me to subjective paranormal experiences that some people were undergoing as proof that it was “God” at work then he has a great deal to learn about religious experiences. I can take Arnott to various ashrams where the same manifestations are being experienced by the devotees of various power gurus and these followers will give passionate explanation of how their lives have been changed.

Appealing to anything other than the Bible as the final arbitrator of doctrine and experience is to leave oneself wide open to demonic deception, delusion, and disappointment. What today’s charismatic enthusiasts want the Church to do is simply accept their teachings, experiences and practices on the power of their word alone, not on the authority of God’s Word.

I warned Mr. Arnott that he and those like him were in danger of becoming a cult due to their going down the same pathway all the Bible-based cults have gone. The reason we call them “Bible-based” cults is due to their claim to believe in the Bible, however God has given them further revelation whether it is in the form of the New World Translation of the JW’s, or the Book of Mormon, The Divine Principle, The Scripture Keys to Science and Health or the Mo Letters. So for these cults it boils down to a formula like — The Bible + new revelations/writings {guess which ends up being authoritative }. Many charismatic are in the same place — The Bible + new revelations, fortunately the Bible still seems to hold ultimate authority in may of their lives.

The second response to our apologetic challenge is a finally turning to the Bible and cherry pick examples that seem to fit their particular belief or practice. In the case of our topic, they will show us people God talked to and use these examples to attempt to prove these encounters as normative. This is GREAT! Always guide the discussion with these misguided folks back to the Bible, because we both can agree that it is God’s Word and as Christians It is binding on our lives. So then the weight is upon us to prove our position is in fact – the biblical one.

Who “Heard” the voice of God?

Old Testament

Adam & Eve: Obviously we can start with them. They not only heard the voice of God, but also walked with Him in the cool of the garden (Genesis 2:3). Obviously none of us can use Adam and Eve as our examples of fellowship with God since after they sinned and were kicked out of the garden their face-to-face communication ceased with the Lord.

Noah: Yes Noah heard from God directly. Since it had never rained on the earth until the flood I’m sure the Lord had some things to make clear to Noah, such as the directions on building the ark and who to place within it. (Gen. 6:9). Noah conversations with the Lord can hardly be normative since it involved the salvation of mankind.

Job: Only towards the end of the book of Job (Job 38-42) do we read of Job having a divine communication from the Lord.

Abraham: Over the entire span of his long life Abraham heard directly from the Lord in various manners only 16 times, hardly a daily ongoing conversation between The Ancient of Days of the patriarch of the faith!

Sarah: She only was spoken to once, which she initially denied saying what she had said (read Gen 18).

Moses: He holds the “record” of hearing from God, but then leading a few million Jews no doubt required quite a bit of direction. We read are approximately 85 times when God spoke to Moses. Again the majority of these times had to do specifically with the economy of God and the leading of God’s people.

Aaron: Moses’ brother and first high priest, he heard from God about 14 times, again always involving serious matters.

Joshua: The man who replaced Moses and led the people across the Jordan — again only around 13 or so experiences with the “voice of God” in his life.

Samuel: The great prophet of the Lord, we know at the beginning of his ministry the Lord spoke to him and he did not even recognize the Lord’s voice (1 Sam. 3) How the “word of the Lord” came to him and the other prophets we are not always told. We do know that in Samuel’s time the “word of the Lord was rate” (3:1) and there were few visions. What I am focusing our attention on is direct, personal communication from God to individuals.

David: The sweet psalmist of Israel, you’d think he would had daily running conversations with the Lord (like Hagin, Copeland, and others claim), But, no, go read the accounts of his life again and you’ll find less than 12 direct encounters Person-to-person.

Solomon: One of Israel’s most blessed kings, wisest of all O.T. personages, he only had 3 experiences hearing directly from the Lord. (read 1 Kings, 3:5-14; 9:2-9; 11:11-13).

My brothers and sisters there are many other O.T. examples I could cite, but these examples should make it very clear that people in general never personally heard God’s voice. Even God’s specially chosen vessels, rarely heard His voice and when they did it was regarding salvation’s history in some form or another.

The charismatic belief that throughout biblical history God is just chattering away to His people simply doesn’t stand up to any close examination of the Bible. Of course many within the charismatic movement will point that we are “New Testament” believers, ergo we should consider the New Testament as our “norm.” Ok, let’s take a quick look through the New Testament.

New Testament

Again our sign-gift inclined brethren would have us believe that under the new covenant we find our heavenly Father speaking to His children on a regular basis, leading and guiding them via personal speaking, dreams, visions and even angels. However, as Christians we must allow the Bible to be our guide, not subjective personal experiences. We know that during Jesus’ ministry when God spoke it was at times considered thunder by those who heard it (see John 12:29). On the Mount of Transfiguration when Peter, John and James did hear the audible voice of God they were speechless (see Mark 9). There is absolutely no evidence that “God” apart from the personal earthly ministry of Jesus, God and Son, ever spoke internally to any of the disciples in the Gospels.

As a former charismatic I’d be quick to argue that the Book of Acts is really the template for the Church and that’s where will find God speaking to about everyone. I also used to believe that miracles were commonplace and were being wrought by just about every Miriam, Peter and John. Folks the truth is, as with hearing the voice of God, very few people were ever used by God throughout the entire Bible to work a miracle. Think about it, write them all down and you will have a very short list. Common sense dictates that if miracles where commonplace then they would cease to be “miraculous.”

Well if one reads the Book of Acts carefully one will discover that the vast majority of the times we read of God speaking directly or even indirectly, say through an angel, less than twenty times and the majority of these times were involving the Apostle Peter and Paul. The few others so specifically guided by God were folks like Agabus (a prophet), Cornelius (whose salvation was a catalyst for the Gentiles), and Ananias (who went to pray for a man named “Saul”.

What is remarkable about each occurrence is that none of these individuals were seeking to hear from God directly! God was the One who reached out to them. Also keep in mind that none of these people were ever taught any formula, hidden keys, or method on how to hear from God (which is a very popular subject in almost all Christian bookstores & conferences). Even more astounding is the FACT that no one is ever counseled to seek to hear God’s voice.

A simple truth that really “blew” my mind in seminary was when I learned from Dr. Eugene Mayhew that the Book of Acts is a historical account of what took place in the early Church and NOT a template on how to do Church. This was contrary to everything I had been taught as a sign-seeking believer. However, once you realize this is true you see that everything that took place in Acts is not normative nor to be expected in the daily life of Christians today.

Some may respond “but brother Liichow doesn’t the Apostle Paul tell us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:14)?” Yes, but the text does not say “those who hear from God directly are the sons of God.” In fact, this text does not tell use exactly how God’s Spirit will lead us. Sign-gift folk insert voices, dreams, visions, visits from Jesus and /or angels into the text in invisible ink. They may assent that this text does not say exactly how the Spirit will lead us but will often counter with another text, this time from the Gospels. “Didn’t Jesus say that ‘My sheep hear My voice’ so obviously His true hear from God!” The context of John 10:16 is regarding sheep and goats and the fact that untimely there will be one flock (Jew & Gentiles together) under one Shepherd, Jesus. Jesus is not speaking about some private conversation(s) He will have with His sheep. Compare this text with Romans 10:17 “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Add to this “how shall they hear without a preacher’? (Rom. 10:14). Jesus was not speaking about Him personally talking with His sheep. Oh yes He does “call” us but He does so generally through the foolishness of preaching or even through our baptism.

Some Charismatic Comments

“In June God gave us a vision of the world with silver and gold bands covering the entire globe —we began to understand that God was telling us to take the message…” Charles and Francis Hunter, How to Heal the Sick, Hunter Books, pg. 1.

“I could hear the Spirit of God challenging me, “You’ve approached it wrongly. You’ve worked on the wrong end of the thing. You fasted and you prayed that I would do something and I’ve done all I’m ever going to do…” Kenneth E. Hagin, The Art of Intercession, Faith Library, pg. 47

My Father said to me (oh, I could hear His voice so plainly as He spoke to me), ‘Son, you don’t know how that delights My heart…You know, He said to me, ‘I made man so I’d have someone to fellowship with. I made man for My companion…I’ll put this way (and He said it is just these words), I made man so I’d have someone to pal with,’ “ Kenneth E. Hagin, Growing Up, Spiritually, Faith Library, pp. 64-65.

“The Spirit of God spoke up on the inside of me and said, ‘She has been holding fast to the problem al of these years. If she had prayed in faith she wouldn’t have prayed all those other 24 years…But she has bound Me from the situation by the words of her mouth.” Charles Capps, Releasing the Ability of God, Harrison House, p. 38.

“I asked the Lord, ‘Why did the centurion have that kind of faith…The Lord said, ‘He was a military man who understood authority because he was under authority. If you will teach My people to understand authority as this man understood authority, they will operate in the same kind of faith.” Charles Capps, Authority, Harrison House, p. 5

“Just this Pat: God is telling me to go and share the message of His power an the baptism of the Holy Spirit with Mrs. Peale.” Pat Robertson & Jamie Buckingham, Shout It From the Rooftops, Logos, p. 66

Fear not, I am sent from the presence of Almighty God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing to the people of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN CANCER… He told me how I would be able to detect diseases by vibrations on my hand. He went away, but I have seen him several times since then.” Gordon Lindsay, William Branham A Man Sent From God, Voice of Healing, p. 77.

The BIG Question

These are just a very few examples of some instances where well known charismatic leaders are relating a little of their personal conversations with the Lord. In the same arena we have to also include today’s restored prophets and the “word of the Lord” they proclaim to congregations and individuals (that also is a common charismatic way to hear from God). The question for either individuals hearing from God or from the mouth of an alleged restored prophet is the same: “Why isn’t the words you’ve received from God authoritative?” In other words if God is indeed speaking then what is said should be transcribed and placed in the back of the Bible, right? Since when does God’s “word” cease to become God’s word to us? Also, if the words received in whatever manner (through a neo-Montantist prophet, dream, and vision or audible voice) is not elevated to such a level, then what good are they?

Our sign-gift brethren have a problem on their hands (as does anyone who says they have heard directly from God) and their response is to say that these words are a combination of both our flesh & the Lord which is what many leaders suggest having mature believers discern the wheat from the chaff so to speak. They say this is the biblical pattern as taught by the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 14:29. This text says let 2 or 3 prophets speak and the others should weigh carefully what is said. That’s fine considering at the time there were still prophets in the Church as well as false prophets! The Corinthians being sign-gift driven needed to be told to “judge” what was being told them in the name of the Lord. Plus there is nothing in the text to indicate that the “others” ere discerning if part of the word given was of God and part of the flesh. Biblically either one was a true prophet, 100% accurate or one was a false prophet. From the record of scripture it seems most likely that the “others” were judging whether the person speaking was in fact from God or our enemy.

When it comes to the accuracy of today’s so-called prophets and their prophetic declarations virtually every charismatic leader will defend the blatant error, lies and unfulfilled statements given out in God’s name as being simply part of the “growing process” we all undergo in our God-given gifts! Just as one develops as a pastor or a Bible teacher even so one develops as God’s prophet. Oh really? Pray tell where is that in the Bible? There is nothing to indicate that the prophets developed from one level of accuracy to another. Daniel was not 5 % accurate as a young man and about 80% as an old man. What nonsense! Yet this explanation is commonly handed out to those who dare question the inaccuracies of today’s plague of prophets.

All of us who have thought that God was speaking to us and directing us in some area of life have had to admit that it was not God after all. I remember before I was married another sister in our congregation “heard from the Lord” that I was supposed to marry her. God had told me nothing about it and I told this deceived sister she was in error. She later went on to marry someone else and would gladly admit today she was not hearing from God. Other couples said they both heard from God to marry and now are divorced, what happened to the “plan of God” (I can assure you His plan never includes divorce).

There is a method by which we ALL can hear from God, but I have run out of space to go into this month. Stay tuned for Part Two! (Below are some examples of the many books out there to mislead the unwary).♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

 





7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

4 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2007 Vol. 12 Issue 11 – 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day

by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

When Larry King mentions me as a “critic” of Joel Osteen our web site went down for 2 days due to excessive band-width use which told me that a lot of people were downloading my initial article concerning Joel. Next more negative e-mails berating me for simply pointing out the errors Joel had made in his interview began to flow in. I knew it would only be a matter of time before a Osteenite asked me “well have you even read Pastor Osteen’s book?” I can honestly answer in the affirmative and tell them “yes I have and here is the problem I have with it.”

Joel’s latest book is the largest printing ever published at one time by A Free Press, the publishers of his materials. They’ve printed an initial 3 million copies of his latest book based on how well his former book Your Best Life Now performed.

This book could easily be entitled “The Little Engine that Could” or possibly “Fake It Till You Make It,” and anyone who has been involved with the charismatic movement will be disappointed in the contents because it says absolutely nothing new. The entire premise of the book can be boiled down to the old aphorism “God helps those who help themselves.”

In the DMI archive we have several bookcases filled with titles such as: Super Brain Power: 6 keys to Unlocking Your Hidden Genius; God is My CEO: Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-Line World; Prayer, Power, and Prosperity: Three Keys to a Move of God; Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity; seven Facts About Prevailing Prayer (John Osteen), You Can Change Your Destiny (another John Osteen)…and the list could go on.

Now just when we thought we might have gotten past the formulaic approach of laws, principles, and rules for spiritual development we are offered another set of 7 keys to self-improvement! Here is Joel’s list: 1). Keep pressing forward. 2) Be positive toward yourself, 3) Develop better relationships, 4). Form better habits 5). Embrace the place where you are 6). Develop your inner life and 7). Stay passionate about life!

Obviously, the book is divided into these 7 sections and we’ll take a quick trip through each (it will save you the price of buying the book)! The first chapter urges the reader to never be content with where they are in life. “He’s a progressive God and He wants every generation to be increasing in happiness, success and significances. (1)

The Apostle Paul said this about Contentment:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11-13

Paul’s source of contentment was found in Christ Jesus not in any material sources. Whether he had “plenty” or whether he was in need Paul was content because he had the correct focus knowing who was his source of strength.

Where does the Bible ever say that one of God’s purposes is for us to be happy? I’d be willing to grant He does not want us to be depressed or despondent but where does the Scripture teach that God wants each succeeding generation to increase in happiness, success and significance? I’ll give you a hint, the Bible never teaches such things.

In Joel’s reality our only limits are self-imposed. It does not matter if you live in the poorest ghetto in Haiti, or if you are horribly handicapped the only limits to life are those you place upon yourself. “If your thinking is limited, then your life is going to be limited.” (2) If that sounds like the old Norman Vincent Peale “power of positive thinking” you are correct!

At the start of each new day, remind yourself, ‘I am talented. I am creative. I am greatly favored by God. I am equipped. I am well able, I will see my dreams come to pass.’ Declare those statements by faith and before long, you will begin to see them in reality. (3)

Let me just briefly unpack this common thread through the entire book. This is also basic Word of Faith (WOF) cult doctrine “101.” It’s called “calling those things that be not as though they are, i.e. “fake it till you make it.” Hagin, Copeland, Capps, Savelle, Duplantis, Price and pappy Osteen all have taught this same error.

WOF dogma teaches that this world is ruled by spiritual laws and these laws will work for whoever will work them, child of God or child of the devil. Furthermore, the WOF cult teaches that faith is a force that we use to create our own reality. Understand — it is not faith in Jesus, it is faith in a spiritual force we wield and release by our words.

Joel is after all his father’s son, and all he has ever learned about the Bible has come through the lens of a Word of Faith heretic (John Osteen) which explains why his books are nothing more than warmed-over WOF dogma.

How can I say that? Simple! Joel begins with encouraging the readers to think positive thoughts. From here he will go in a few chapters to the next building- block of WOF error…positive confession. Once you have the image of what you want in your mind then you confess “faith-filled” words out of your mouth continually until you change your reality by the power of these faith-filled words. However, before getting to speaking the right words he has to deal with an uncomfortable fact, i.e. why does your life stink now? In Chapter 4 Joel teaches another bizarre WOF concept, that of generational curses. Again this a teaching I heard Marilyn Hickey teach at Robert Tilton’s church over 20 years ago, but Joel is reaching many folks who probably don’t know about generational curses.

This is the false teaching: that some believers problems stem from their family line passing a “curse” through the generations. Joel says” many times, you can look back and see the results of those choices somewhere in your family line.” (4) The proof texts these false teachers use are Ex. 20:5; 34:7 Num. 14:8; Deut. 5:9 and these texts basically say that God will curse the generation that hates Him to the third or fourth generation But let’s consider the rest of the context of these passages.

Notice that the curses are on those who hate God. It is not for those who love God, but make some mistakes in life. One might argue, however, that their father or grandfather might have hated God. This is irrelevant, but brings up the next point. Using a hyper-literalistic interpretation of this passage, if the Lord shows mercy for 1000’s of generations on the fathers who loved God, then all that would be necessary for us to be in the “mercy” rather than “cursed” category is to find one relative in the past thousand or so generations that loved and obeyed the Lord. Is it not probable that we have at least one distant relative in the last 1000 generations who loved the Lord and kept His commandments? The statistical probability is that we most certainly do. And if we do, then we are part of the 1000 generations the Lord promised to show mercy to, not curse. This notion is pure WOF heresy which Joel follows up by teaching in the next chapter on “Generational Blessing.” Joel says that we are to think of our good works in this fashion.

Think of it like this: Each of us has a spiritual bank account. By the way we live, we’re either storing up equity or storing up iniquity. Equity would be anything good: our integrity, our determination, our godliness. That’s storing up blessings…You have more of God’s favor, more of His blessing because of what they have done. (5)

Its almost like a Roman Catholic belief (Joel does not know that of course) of the storing up of meritorious favor by the saints that can be drawn upon by those on earth! If you come from godly parents and grandparents then they have been putting spiritual ducats into the family account, or as Oral Roberts might say “they’ve sown seeds and you’re reaping the harvest.” My father was a godly man but I doubt I can tap into some heavenly bank account and draw from his good work! Naturally Joel offers no contextual biblical proof for such a doctrine, but who cares, right? It sounds good and who doesn’t want a spiritual piggybank to draw upon?

In part two of the book Joel, having liberated the reader from negative self-talk marches on to encourage them to stop listening to accusing voices (negative words spoken to the reader). He says that it is imperative that you “learn to feel good about yourself.” (6) Anytime a criticism comes to you (or from your conscience) you are to cast it down immediately!

Don’t make the mistake of dwelling on that rubbish, not for a moment. Sometimes when I walk off the platform having spoken at Lakewood and around the world by means of television, the first thought that comes to my mind is, Joel that message just wasn’t good today. Nobody got anything out of that. You practically put them to sleep. I learned to shake that off. I turn it around and say, ‘No I believe it was good! I did my best…I thought it was good. (7)

Brothers and sisters one of the ways we grow is by receiving correction, by useful criticism. When we reject rebuke and correction then our spiritual growth is stunted. Proverbs clearly says:

Since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes. Prov. 1:30

He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. Prov. 15:31

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool. Prov. 17:10

Flog a mocker, and the simple will learn prudence; rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge. Prov. 19:25

Personally I want someone I respect and trust to tell me the truth when I have finished teaching or preaching. Maybe my message fell way short of the mark. Maybe I didn’t properly distinguish between Law & Gospel or took certain passages out of context. If I immediately reject any “negative” input then I will not grow and worse yet may lead those who hear farther from Jesus and not closer to Him. Joel’s guidance in this chapter is simply “if it seems remotely negative don’t listen to it!”

Chapter 8  entitled “Learning to Like Yourself” is more nauseating pabulum. Joel does not seem to get a fundamental message in the New Testament — the problem is not that people do not love themselves or like themselves, just the opposite, we love ourselves far too much!

Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. 1 Cor. 10:24

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Phil 2:4

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Heb. 13:16

All of this psycho-babble about people not loving themselves is recent nonsense which the Bible does not even address…because 99.9% of humanity has no problem loving numero uno.

Another one of Joel‘s glaring theological inadequacies is his lack of any real sense of our sinful fallen nature.

Shake off guilt, condemnation, inadequacies, and a sense that you can’t measure up, and start feeling good about who you are. ‘Well Joel, I don’t know if I believe that,’ a dear, well-meaning man told me. ‘We’re just poor old sinners.’ No, we used to be poor old sinners, but when we came to Christ, He washed away our sins. He made us new creatures. Now, we are no longer poor old sinners. (8)

This too is a WOF cult and general charismatic extremist point of view. They teach that we were sinners prior to salvation. Now in Christ we are the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21) and no longer sinners. They have no concept of the reality of being simil Justus et peccator which means we are simultaneously justified, and yet sinners. Both conditions are always true of us. We will fight against sinful inclinations our entire lives and by the means of grace God will be working in us progressive sanctification in this life. Joel is dangerously misleading his readers to encourage them to think they are no longer sinful.

Chapter 9 – is classic WOF/Positive Confession dogma and Joel has very subtly brought the reader from a place of thinking positive thoughts to now confessing these thoughts. What he says in this chapter is regularly proclaimed in any Ken Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Jesse Duplantis or Fred Price meeting.

As long as we have that poor self-image, we’re not going to experience God’s best. You will never rise above the image that you have of yourself. (9)

He restates the problem of humanity as he sees it but he fails to recognize one very salient point — God blesses us APART from what we do virtually all of the time! Grace, is the undeserved gift from God. We experienced God’s best (which by the way, Joel, is salvation by JESUS CHRIST alone) when we were haters of God.

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Rom. 5:10

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, Col. 1:21-23a

In Joel’s warped view how are we supposed to overcome this self-image problem in order to experience God’s best? Simple! We speak positive words about ourselves!

One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. Every day, we should make positive declarations over our lives. We should say things such as, ‘I am blessed. I am prosperous. I am healthy. I am talented. I am creative. I am wise.’ When we do that, we are building up our self-image. As those words permeate your heart and mind, and especially your subconscious mind, eventually they will begin to change that way you see yourself. (10)

Our words do not have creative power. We cannot change reality by what we say. To believe such things is simply occultism and not Christianity. I’ve buried folks who died from AIDS confessing they were totally healed by the stripes of Jesus.

Positively or negatively, creative power resides in your words because you believe your words more than you believe anybody else’s. (11)

The WOF/extremist universe words are the most powerful things in the universe. They teach that God Himself created the universe not out of “nothing” (ex nihilo) but out of words that contained the force of faith to bring to pass whatever He said. They teach that since we are in His image we too have been given this same power. Negative words will produce bad results in our lives, they carry a sort of negative-faith. Positive words carry the force of faith in a fruitful direction creating whatever the wizard wielding the magic wand desires.

The sad thing is that Joel probably has not thought it through enough to realize what bondage such a belief system puts people under. If Joel is correct, then humanity is in the condition it is in simply because of not speaking the right words necessary to create a better life. All of his congregation’s problems fall squarely on their shoulders. Whatever their situation it is their fault.  The only way out is to begin to confess positive “faith-filled” words until your situation changes, which may take years…Remember just a few negative statements can dig up years of positive confessions and then the poor soul, like Sisyphus, is back at the beginning. What a horrific weight to place on the shoulders of God’s people.

No matter how impossible something looks, no matter how you feel, start boldly declaring, ‘I am strong in the Lord. I can do all things through Christ. I am well able to fulfill my destiny. Call in what God has promised you…Don’t merely use your words to describe your situation; use your words to change your situation….With our words, we can prophesy our own future. (12)

Notice God active in any of this? Who is the agent of change? Who determines your situation? Who is in control of your future?  Obviously, you are! God set these so-called spiritual “laws” in place and now we eat the good or bitter fruit from them apart from God.

I think you can see why Joel’s book is so immensely popular. It is all about self and works righteousness. Which all people love (yes even Christians). People love spiritual legalism in all its varied forms and dislike the orthodox biblical view of sola Christus, by Christ alone and looking to Him to do what we cannot do. That is too easy, we want to know “where’s my part in the play?” The point is this — salvation and all its benefits are monergistic, which means that God did all the work and we passively receive what He has done on our behalf. We add nothing to our salvation but thanksgiving to God for His great grace and mercy which He richly pours out on us through the sacrifice of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

The genius behind Joel’s writing is that he has encapsulated the basic tenets of WOF heresy into a format which does not come across as either charismatic in nature nor as something that has been taught by WOF heretics for over fifty years now. He has “spun” old false doctrines a new set of “Dr. Phil” clothing and is marketing it as a self-help book. The problem is that people will not genuinely be helped, in fact, many may end up in some serious bondage due to his lightweight version leading some readers to seek heavier teachings on the same concepts.

In closing, I will leave you with some simple biblical texts that will show you how to truly become a better you.

And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matt. 10:38,39

Then he said to them all; “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? Luke 9:23-25

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25

You want to be a “better you” then take up your cross, follow Jesus (where) to Calvary and DIE to yourself. This dying (reckoning ourselves dead Rom. 6:11) is a daily process/struggle (we Lutherans like to urge one another to “remember your baptism”) that is how we become “better people” we become less SELF-INVOLVED and thus with ourselves off our hands we are freed up to love God and our neighbor more perfectly Jesus said seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and ALL the things the Gentiles seek after will be added to you (Matt. 6:33), something Joel does not mention. Instead of seeking the sphere of God’s rule he has his readers trying to conjure up a better self-image instead of one buried in the waters of baptism. He has people confessing how good they are as opposed to saying “God have mercy on me a poor miserable sinner.” He inflates human pride by a system of works-righteousness to our account. Frankly, Joel is fundamentally wrong regarding the major premises of each of his chapters. His biblical/doctrinal ignorance is truly appalling and I sincerely urge all of us to pray for him (and I will be writing and sending him a registered letter soon, I’ll let you know if he responds) and more importantly the 100,000’s of people who watch him on television and buy his books. Lord have mercy upon us! ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Osteen Joel, Become a Better You New York: A Free Press, 2007, p. 3

 2. Ibid. p.21

3. Ibid pp. 22 -22

4. Ibid. p. 49

5. Ibid. pp.56,66

6. Ibid. p. 85

7. Ibid. p.86

8. Ibid. pp. 101-102

9. Ibid p. 109

10. Ibid pp. 109-110 underlining and bolding added for emphasis.

11. Ibid. p. 11

12. Ibid pp. 113-114 underlining and bolding added.

Anyone else notice a “theme”? 7 steps to living at your full potential & now 7 keys to improving your life every day. Is it possible that Joel is using a ghost writer to pen these novels? If I was already achieving my full potential why should I read his latest book? It simply does not make sense to me?

 





THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

28 12 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – October  2007   Vol. 12 Issue 10 – THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE – Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

As we studied last month all of the aberrant practices and false doctrine stem from an incorrect interpretation of the Scriptures. In fact, all errors in “Bible” based cults can be traced back to using a faulty hermeneutical system. Every Christian should understand and apply some basic hermeneutical principles when they study their Bible. Unfortunately most pastors do not equip their people with the skills necessary to become good Bereans. Sadly, many pastors across America have little or no theological training and thus they lack any real understanding of how to correctly teach the Bible of to their congregations (Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar are just two examples) and we end up with a case of the blind leading the blind.

Apart from incorrect biblical interpretations with all its attending problems there is another difficulty plaguing God’s people and that is the widespread practice of accepting personal spiritual experiences as authoritative. Millions of professing Christians readily accept the subjective “revelations” of various leaders, or their own private experiences as being as valid as the written Word of God.

The Word of God is seen as not being the only guide for many Christians. It is not viewed as complete and totally sufficient when it comes to faith and practice. Many people are augmenting the Bible with extra-biblical data that is proclaimed as “new” revelations from the Holy Spirit through a host of roving self-proclaimed Apostles, Prophets and revivalists. Admittedly this is not a new problem; in fact the Apostle Paul spoke of people who were misplacing their faith in alleged mystical experience:

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not see, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Col. 2:18,19

It seems that people have a propensity to be drawn away from the objective truth of God’s Word into their own fallen subjective experiences.

 Today we see this enthusiasm for experience over God’s Word vividly in the Charismatic movement. For example the recently departed Kenneth E. Hagin built a great portion of his SINistry on his alleged face-to-face encounters with our risen Lord. Many of these he wrote about in great detail in his book I believe In Visions.

 

Another widely followed heretic, Jesse Duplantis expanded his influence tremendously after publishing his farcical tale about going to heaven in his book Heaven Close Encounters of the God Kind. Jesse regales his readers with not only a very detailed account of “heaven” but also shares about his visible experiences with angels, he and his car being teleported across the state of Louisiana and other bizarre experiences.

Mary K. Baxter wrote a book which plunged her into charismatic fame & fortune about her being taken to hell on forty (40!) consecutive evenings allegedly by Jesus Christ. The Divine Revelation of Hell has been reprinted several times and in over ten languages. The book is filled with graphic details of what awaits the damned soul and Baxter claims thousands of people have come to faith in Christ due to her book! If that was not enough she went on to write another spurious tome entitled The Divine Revelation of Heaven and then another book called The Divine Revelation of Glory.

Discernment Ministries International was among the first Apologetic ministry to expose the nonsense in Cho Thomas’ book Heaven Is So Real about her rapturous transport to heaven. Thomas reveals to us that there is death in heaven when Jesus takes her fishing and kills the fish and cooks it for her.

Every one of these books (and there are many more I could mention) has sold well over 100,000 copies each, and all of them are printed in foreign languages for wider consumption by the sign-seeking crowd (don’t forget there are videos, DVD’s, and cassettes of these accounts by authors for sale too). The authors go all over the world sharing their experiences with untold numbers of people.

These examples demonstrate my concern that people are leaving the sufficiency of the Scriptures to listen to someone’s latest experience. I can tell you that DMI receives a great deal of vitriolic email from devotees of these deluded heretics. Some of the gentler complainers say things like “don’t you believe God can take someone to heaven? Look at the Apostle Paul for example!”  Yes, let’s consider Paul for a moment:

I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Cor. 12:3-4

Virtually all commentators agree that Paul is writing about an experience he had being caught up to heaven. What is interesting about his account is that he does not share any of what he saw or heard.  Why not?  Today when someone says they were taken to heaven they create an entire “ministry” out of their experience. Paul did not relate any of his experience precisely because it was just that…his own “experience” and as such would not benefit others.

Here is what the NIV Commentary says about this part of Paul’s life:

What Paul head (and saw?), human words were inadequate to relate (v.4b). Furthermore, he was not permitted to try to share the content of the revelation, perhaps because it had been designed for him alone, to fortify him for future service and sufferings (Ac 9:16; Ro 8:18). Glimpses the NT does give of the coming glory are intended to strengthen faith and promote holiness (cf. 2 Pe 3:10-14;p 1Jn 3:2-3) not satisfy curiosity.

Nothing that Hagin, Duplantis, Cho or Baxter wrote about strengthens faith nor does it promote true holiness. What all those books do is to point to the human authors and imply that they are special vessels chosen for these last days to prepare the Church for the return of Christ. Nothing in their mythological writings do anything to encourage their readers to get into the Holy Bible and let God speak to them via its inerrant pages.

As I stated earlier this phenomenon of people promoting doctrines and practices that are based on their personal experiences is nothing new. During the Evangelical Reformation led by Martin Luther he constantly had arguments with various sects of what he termed “enthusiasts.”

Enthusiasm clings to Adam and his children from the beginning to the end of the world –fed and spread among them as poison by the old dragon. It is the source, power, and might of all the heresies, even that of the papacy and of Mohammed. Therefore, we should and must insist that God does not want to deal with us human beings, except by means of his external word and sacrament. Everything that boasts of being from the Spirit apart from such a word and sacrament is of the devil. (1)

The enthusiasts then as today looked within to feel something or to attempt to hear God speak to them directly and personally apart form the Holy Bible. This is exactly what is taking place on a massive scale within the charismatic movement. I’ve been involved in many meetings where the “Spirit” began to move in a mighty way so much so that the Word of God was never preached. These meetings were declared to be of the highest order! Various people “prophesied” the so-called word of the Lord, others were slain in the spirit, some danced in the aisles, others just sat and watched the show. 

One well accepted restored-prophet, Bill Hamon carries with him a 5 inch 3 ring binder filled with 100’s of “personal” prophecies that have been uttered over his life for the last 40 years. Obviously he takes these extemporaneous words to be true or why collect & carry them?

What does the Bible say?

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:1-3

Yes God did speak through the prophets in the past. Yes God spoke in various ways, by dreams, visions and at times angels or through Theophanous. However, in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Peter knew of his impending death (2 Peter 1:13-15) so what he said was vitally important to him as a pastor. He reminds his readers that he was with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration and he actually heard the voice of God speak. Yet what does he then tell the Church?

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:19-21

Even though Peter was there in person to hear God’s voice he goes on to tell the Church that they have a more sure word of prophecy (the written Word) and they would do well to take heed to It a a light that shines in a dark place. Peter does not preach his experience but points to the Word of God and warns them to take heed of the Word.

Why this emphasis Peter, what is the big deal?

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3

The problem today is that the “more sure word” is now deemed passé and there is a desire to seek what is termed “present day truth” (see 2 Peter 1:12) by the charismatic extremists. This is alleged truth that is arrived at through mystical or metaphysical means, i.e. subjective belief as opposed to the objective inerrant truth set out in the Bible.

One very popular charismatic heretic, Tommy Tenney, wrote a hugely popular book entitled The God Chasers. Tenney denigrates the written Word of God and expounds that people need to seek a direct encounter with God. Here are some of his comments regarding the Bible:

We just keep going through the motions, lighting the lamps and shuffling from dusty room to dusty room as God was still speaking to us. (2)

There’s no need for me to preach [the Word] if God shows up in His glory. (3)

They [the early disciples] walked and talked with Him in such a rich level of intimacy that it wasn’t necessary for them to pour over dusty love letters that were written long ago. (4)

Folks Tenney’s comments are the voice of millions enmeshed in charismatic extremism. Note the very low view of holy scripture—the books of the Bible are “dusty rooms” that we shuffle through with the mistaken belief that God is still speaking to us through these biblical letters! Tenney echo’s the statements of many of today’s revivalists by saying there is not even a need to preach the Word of God if “God” shows up, i.e. some paranormal manifestations or unchecked emotionalism breaks forth. Lastly, Tenney says that the early church members communed with God on an intimate one-on-one basis APART from pouring over the “dusty old love letters” that were written long ago. What does my book of dusty old love letters say in response to Mr. Tenney and the other heretics?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore, many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. Acts 17:11-12

The people in Berea heard Paul preach and then they went immediately to those dusty old love letters to validate by objective truth what Paul was proclaiming. What was the end result? MANY of them believed the gospel that Paul preached!  ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

Endnotes:

1. Oswald Bayer, Theology The Lutheran Way (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007, p. 53

2. Tommy Tenney, The God Chasers, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 1998) p. 31.

3. Bid. p. 44 Underlining and bolding added for emphasis

4. Bid. p. 74 Underlining and bolding added for emphasis.