Truth Matters Newsletters – The Need For Apologetic Ministries – By Robert S. Liichow
The Need For Apologetic Ministries
I was recently shocked and somewhat dismayed when I learned that no church that I am familiar with has an Apologetics/Polemics Ministry as a distinct ministry in their church structure. Many of the largest evangelical congregations in America, such as Saddleback, Willow Creek and others have no ministries devoted to Apologetics/Polemic work and research!
The Two-Fold Problem
Why does this shock me? To begin with cultic activity is pandemic in the world. Christianity is no longer merely competing with the views of the major world religion (Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, etc.). Today the Church is competing with literally 1,000’s of new belief systems, many of which are very sophisticated technologically and extremely evangelistic in delivering their message.
These non-Christian cults have multitudinous websites, Public Access television programs, cable programs in the form of infomercials and a growing army of devotees actively spreading their version of salvation. A good example would be the Church of Scientology. A highly published Christian Apologist was told by Zondervan Publishing House, the largest Christian book publisher in the world, to remove the chapter he had written about Scientology, simply because that cult is too powerful and they have the capability to sue any organization into bankruptcy (this is what happened to the Cult Awareness Network, which is now owned and operated by Scientologists). Due to the many high profile musicians and movie actors in Scientology their cult is growing in popularity and power. What is the local church doing to combat their false message? Ask yourself a question, “is my church equipping me to biblically and effectively challenge their beliefs? When was the last time your church offered a course or seminar on the cults, their beliefs, and how to refute them from a loving biblical perspective?
What is even more troubling is the rapid expansion of heresy and aberrant teachings within the Church. Never in the history of the Church have God’s people suffered from such a massive infestation of false teachers, false prophets, and false apostles.
The “Christian” bookstore has become one of the most spiritually dangerous places for the child of God to set foot in. The list of Christian best selling books include such titles as Good Morning Holy Spirit, The Divine Revelation of Hell, God Calling, The God Chasers and other books filled with false teaching and in some cases, outright lies.
“Christian Television offers the world a perversion of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. TBN, a global network, serves up a regular diet of heresy and error through people such as Jessie Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kim Clement and others. Televangelism is alive and well on the airwaves proclaiming a false gospel of health & wealth. Peter Popoff, Don Steward, R.W. Schamback, Marilyn Hickey and Robert Tilton (to name just a few) are still broadcasting on a regular basis and raking in millions of dollars a month to support their lavish lifestyles.
Yet within the walls of the local church is there any ministry devoted to exposing biblical error and equipping God’s people with the ability to discern biblical truth from falsehood? So far, according to my research, the answer is sadly, “no”.
Some Recent Accounts Demonstrating the Need For Local Church Apologetic Ministry
Cult related Suicide—
The old aphorism “ignorance is bliss,” must be changed to “ignorance is deadly” in the time we live in. Just 2 weeks ago a story broke concerning the Bible-based cult group Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God and the over 600 people who committed suicide or were murdered following the direction of their spiritual leaders Cledonia Mwerinde and Joseph Kibweteere. Their behavior becoming part of an all to familiar pattern:
November 18, 1978 – The Rev. Jim Jones led more than 900 followers to their deaths at Jonestown, Guyana, by drinking a cyanide-laced punch. Cult members who refused to swallow the liquid were shot.
December 1991 – Mexican minister Ramon Morales Almazan and 29 followers suffocated after he told them to keep praying and ignore toxic fumes filling their church.
April 19, 1993 – At least 70 Branch Davidian cult members died after fire and a shootout with police and federal agents ended a 51 day siege of the compound near Waco, Texas. The sect’s leader, David Koresh, who had preached a messianic gospel of sex, freedom and revolution and told followers he was Jesus Christ, died of a gunshot would to the head sometime during the blaze.
October 1993 – Fifty-three hill Vietnamese tribe villagers committed mass suicide with flintlock guns and other primitive weapons in the belief they would go straight to heaven. Officials said they were the victims of a scam by a man who received cash donations for promising a speedy road to paradise.
October 1994 – The burned bodies of 48 Solar Temple members were discovered in a farmhouse and three chalets in Switzerland. At the same time, five bodies including that of an infant, were found in a chalet north of Montreal.
December 1995 – Sixteen Solar Temple members were found dead in a burned house outside Genoble, in the French Alps.
March 23,1997 – The charred bodies of three women and two men were found inside a house in Saint Casimir, Quebec. All were members of the Solar Temple, an international sect that believes ritualized suicide leads to rebirth on a planet called Sirius.
March 26, 1997 – The bodies of 39 young men who were paret of the Heaven’s Gate cult were found late Wednesday afternoon in a mansion near San Diego, and deputies described the deaths as a mass suicide.
These people are not just numbers on a page. They were real people, with real needs, people who left behind real families. Members of “fringe” groups? Yes, without a doubt, but those people who died were anything but “fringe” people, especially to those who loved them. The troubling question is why did these 100’s of people seek answers outside of the true Church?
Cult Related Murder—
There are many other groups who do not endorse suicide, instead they believe in murdering those who oppose them. Before the end of last year the self-proclaimed “prophet” Monte Kim Miller and his followers were going to foment acts of violence in Jerusalem believing it would bring back Jesus Christ. Fortunately, they were deported before they could wreck havoc. Some of the followers of Yahweh ben Yahweh, the self-proclaimed black Messiah (now in Federal prison) murdered several white people under his direction. Various members of the white Aryan Nation Church have murdered African-American people recently, following the pseudo-biblical ideologies of their racist leaders. The Process Church of the Final Judgment taught a doctrine of murder, the now saved ‘Son-of-Sam’ was a member of the Process.
In June 1996, Asahara, the leader of the Aum Shinri Kyo cult went on trial for the spreading of a nerve gas, Sarin, in a Tokyo subway station on March 20, 1995. The gas killed 11 passengers and injured over 5000. US Senate testimony revealed that if those responsible had not made errors in preparation and dispersion of the gas, that many thousands of innocent subway patrons would have been killed, and untold thousands injured. Over 100 Aum members have been charged. Trials are expected to last up to 10 years. The government is attempting to outlaw the cult under their Anti-Subversive Activities Law. Membership had dropped to about 7,000.
The Nation of Islam, a fast growing cult among African-Americans has not been opposed to murdering those within its ranks who deviate from their doctrine, Malcolm X being one of the most prominent victims.
Jeffrey Lundgren: (1989) He was the leader of a small group of about 2 dozen members that broke away from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). The RLDS Church has a membership of about 250,000, and is centered in Independence, MO. The much larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints split from the RLDS when the former moved to Utah. Lundgren in turn split from the RLDS in 1987 because of its liberal tendencies (e.g. allowing women to be ordained as priests). There is also suspicion that he had embezzled money from the Church. Members prepared for an expected war in which they would attack the original Temple in Kirtland which is now preserved as a historical site by the RLDS. They engaged in strange sexual rituals, and para-military training. One family, the Averys, who opposed some of Lundgren’s rulings, were executed and buried on the group’s ranch. Lundgren was sentenced to death for his crimes; his wife and son received long prison sentences.
Cult Related Deaths Due to Medical Neglect
Many people today have either forgotten or never knew that over 90 people died under Dr. Hobart Freeman’s ministry. These people followed Dr. Freeman’s teaching regarding divine healing and they chose to “believe God” even if it meant dying versus going to a medical doctor. Please understand that Dr. Freeman was no biblical ignoramus. At one time he was a well respected Old Testament theologian and scholar. He latter died of an easily treatable leg ulcer. His church and satellite churches still exist and their members still are dying.
The “Followers of Christ” based in Portland, Oregon (with over 1,000 members) have alarmed local officials due to the number of children who have died while their parents “prayed” instead of seeking medical attention. To date over 18 children have died in this Bible-based “sect”.
End Time Ministries: They have lost several members in a number of states due to their exclusive belief in faith healing. Members Charles and Marilee Myers in Lake City, Fl. , were charged with child abuse in 1990. Their son, William, needed an operation to remove a heart tumor. His liver had failed; he had lost
Researchers studied the records of 172 American children in faith-healing sects who had died between 1975 and 1995 after their parent chose not to seek medical care for religious reasons. The study authors concluded that 140 of the children would have had more then a 90% chance of surviving had they seen a medical doctor. (Medical Tribune: Family Physician Edition 39 (10) 1998 Jobsom Healthcare Group).
30% of his weight. He was near death both because of the tumor and from the complications of long-term malnutrition. A few months later, their newborn grandson died from massive hemorrhaging the parents did not seek medical treatment. Two other End Time Ministry families in Florida lost daughters in the early 1990”s Five newborns died in Sioux Falls SD during the 1980’s. They died during unattended births of women who belonged to this group.
Church of the First Born: Loyd and Christian Hayes are members of this Church in Albany, OR. The sect promotes the use of prayer to heal; they do not believe in doctors or medicine. They were charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of their 7 year old son. The son died in Nov. 1994 from a treatable form of leukemia. After the April 1986 trial, the father was given 5 years probation, and ordered to report any serious illness or injury to any child in his care. The mother was acquitted. He filed an appeal on July 1996. The state has also appealed, because the judge did not sentence Hayes to prison, as specified in the sentencing guidelines. Joshua and Mindy Gory are members of the Church of the First Born near Clifton, Co. Their infant son, born Feb, 1999 died on Feb 28 of cardiac arrest due to an untreated infection disease. The death investigated as a possible homicide.
There are also numerous cases of members of the Christian Science cult allowing their children to die while they made “positive affirmation” over their sick bodies.
The examples I’ve just cited may seem extreme, yet in reality, they are simply the logical consequences of what happens when people are deceived and follow false prophets and teachers. The 100’s of people who died, in most cases were fully convinced of the truthfulness of what they had been taught. People are still dying today as a result of following cleverly devised doctrines of men and demons (read 1 Tim. 4:1).
Coming to Your Town Soon!
Below are 2 advertisements from the latest Charisma magazine (April, 2000)—
For 5 years “Living Bread Ministries” led by “apostle” Kenneth Hogan had held these prophetic/apostolic conventions. This year’s theme? “Transitioning from the Pastoral to the Apostolic.” It is the belief of these restored apostles that in this new move of God the role of the pastor will become subservient to the guidance of the restored apostles and prophets who will spiritually govern the “city Church.” who are some of these prophets & apostles? Mary Crum—prophetess, Jonathan David—apostle; John Eckhardt—apostle, and John Isleib—prophet.
♦ Is your pastor ready to yield the pulpit to men and women such as these?
♦ ¨Is he, or your congregation, even aware that there is a well organized, technologically astute, biblically aberrant group of false prophets, apostles and teachers seeking to draw disciples away from his care?
♦ ¨Has your congregation been educated about today’s prophetic & apostolic movement, what they believe and why they are spiritually destructive?
This is the back cover of the April Charisma magazine. Let me start with the obvious, Oral Roberts cannot independently verify that any creative miracles have occurred in his 50+ years of ministry as a “divine healer.” Who are some of the speakers at this conference? Jessie Duplantis (upper right), a man who claims to have visited heaven and denies the efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ to perfect the believer once for all (read heb. 10:10). Kenneth Copeland (third on the left), a false teacher who boldly teaches blasphemy concerning the atonement of Christ. Mr. Benny Hinn (bottom right), today’s man of “faith & power,” who like Oral Roberts cannot prove anyone has actually been healed in his miracle meetings, yet he still rakes in over 50 Million dollars a year. Lastly, Creflo “Cashflow” Dollar (bottom left), dubbed the African-American Robert Tilton by the IOHH. He is under investigation for fiscal improprieties.
How much does your church know about these highly televised and widely published individuals? How many of your friends and families support these type of ministries? Probably more than you are aware of.
The need for apologetics and counter-cult ministry has never been greater. There is no such thing as “harmless” error. Certainly some error is more serious and detrimental than other, but all error leads to further deception if left unchecked.
Yet in spite of these facts the local church has not seen the need to establish Apologetic ministries within their existing structures .
Why Is This?—
There are no simple reasons to why this has occurred but I have jotted down some reasons which come to mind:
♦ There are no existing ministry models that pastors can look to for ideas on how to incorporate apologetics/polemics into their church. All pastors glean from other ministries to some extent and since 99.9% of churches do not have an apologetic component there is no encouragement to start one.
♦ Local church leaders are often ignorant of the massive scope of the problem (attacks on the flock from within & without). These leaders are simply blind to the real need for this branch of ministry, ergo, funds are never set aside to develop or support such work.
♦ Pastors who have been out of seminary for at least 15 years are probably out of touch with the multitudinous new forms of aberrant quasi and pseudo Christianity, not to mention the newer cults which are growing rapidly. Many pastors labor under the pressure of “being only as good as their last sermon,” spending time researching new religious movements is simply out of the question for them.
♦ It is not popular to take a stand for truth. To be a church that has concrete positions regarding what they believe is often seen as harsh and dogmatic. There is often a wrong-headed belief of “can’t we all just get along,” and doctrine divides” among many in the evangelical movement today.
♦ Many pastors wrongly believe that their members are not susceptible to cults and the various forms of extremism. Yet the facts prove the opposite. The majority of cults in America are made up of people who grew up in evangelical or mainline denominational churches. Almost all of the charismatic extremists movements are comprised of people who were once members of biblically sound congregations who were enticed away from them.
Every Apologetic ministry in existence today struggles financially each month to make ends meet. Yet Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) raises millions of dollars monthly to expand its network & continue to finance the opulent lifestyle of the Crouches.
Why Is This?
The unvarnished truth of God is not as popular nor as marketable as the ‘false gospel being promoted by TBN. Those who listen to TBN and its host of “teachers” aggressively and sacrificially support them on a regular basis. I pray God awakens our evangelical brothers and sisters to become equally as aggressive and sacrificial in support Apologetic and Counter-Cult ministries in this new millennium.
People whom God has called into the unpopular ministry realm of contending for biblical orthodoxy have been forced into assuming a para-church role because there has been no real interest on the part of the established church.
What is disheartening (at times) is to realize that most evangelical churches spend more on flowers and their annual church picnic than they do supporting apologetic ministries which are being used by God to bring many people out of spiritual bondage.
After almost 20 years of active ministry I am fully aware of the reality that money is spent on what is deemed important by those who control the money. You know about “the golden rule” those with the gold make the rules. Thus far they have not been ruling in our favor.
Is there a need for apologetic ministries within local churches? Absolutely! In fact I’ll say that the churches which do not either incorporate an apologetic element into their structures or partner with existing para-church ministries will find some of their members being swept away into aberrant beliefs & practices. It has already happened in some churches we know of.
20 years ago apologetics may have been seen as a luxury” item, but today it is a necessity. Frankly, the reason the Church is so beset with heresy and aberrant practice today is because the local church did not stand up militantly for biblical orthodoxy 20 years ago.
If God’s people had been equipped with the truth then the Benny Hinn’s of this world would not be siphoning off over 300+ million dollars a year. Monies which would otherwise been used to genuinely expand God’s Kingdom. 100’s of million of dollars a year go to feather the nest of people like Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Oral Roberts and others of dubious orthodoxy. These ministries are only allowed to flourish when God’s people are ignorant of what the Bible actually teaches.
It is our hope that you will encourage the leaders of your local church to seriously consider adding an apologetics component to their existing outreach ministries, or at least partnering with existing ministries.
Our Ministry is more than willing to work with your leaders in helping them establish this form of ministry. We are always available to answer questions about ministries or ministers visiting your town or community. Please let your pastor know he is free to contact us at any time. If we do not have the specific information he is seeking, we can probably put him in touch with another ministry which does have it.
Lastly, our ministry is actively seeking other congregations to partner with ICCDM. If we could have just 15 churches commit to give $200.00 per month it would go a long way to meeting our financial needs. Maybe your local church would partner with us?
The Scholar’s Pack CD ver. 1.0
We have packed almost 650 megabytes of research on to this compact disk. Here is just some of what is on the Scholar pack:
The Biblical Refutation of the Revival Manifestations complete and unabridged
Copies of the Original Azusa Newsletters (fascinating reading)
Detailed files on the major cults, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons, the New Age movement, etc.
Back Issues of Truth Matters newsletters
Over 30 Full color overheads
Over 30 full color “gimmicks” pictures of anointed cornmeal, prayer cloths, “blessed” pennies, etc
Over 200 megabytes of video clips showing charismatic extremists in “action”.
A formerly unpublished thesis on E.W. Kenyon, “father” of the Word of Faith movement.
Plus Much More!
ALL This for a donation of
Please make your check payable to:
Discernment Ministries International
P.O. Box 15639
Detroit, Michigan 48215
Copyright © 2005 Robert S. Liichow