We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Friday, October 29, 2010

Questionable Teachings of the “Local Church” and Living Stream Ministry

1/6/13 update:  some links to internet sources have been removed.  I will note such with *, but I will leave the original link.  These sources did exist at the time I cited them.

The teachings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee are the primary sources of theology for members of the “Local Church.” While Lee’s teachings have more prominence, there is little difference in the theology of the two men. The “Local Church” has various questionable doctrines and practices which have caused numerous apologetics ministries to describe them as a cult. As Miles J. Stanford points out, “Lee's method of teaching and control is a definite form of brainwashing. All who join his assemblies are admonished to forget all the doctrine they ever knew, and submit to the ways and teachings of the Leeites.” (http://withchrist.org/mjs/neelee.htm)*

Let’s look at some of the teachings of this group, and I’ll let you decide for yourself as to whether they should be classed as a cult or just cultic.

Recovery: The “Local Church” is also known as “The Lord’s Recovery,“ and teaches that the Christian church went into total apostasy, losing many teachings of the New Testament churches. Therefore, they have “recovered” these teachings. The following citation explains the “Local Church” view of this “recovery” by them:

“The word ‘recover’ means to obtain again something that has been lost, or to return something to a normal condition. "Recovery" means the restoration or return to a normal condition after a damage or a loss has been incurred. To say that God is recovering certain matters means that in the course of church history they have been lost, misused, or corrupted and that God is restoring them to their original state or condition. Because the church has become degraded through the many centuries of its history, it needs to be restored according to God’s original intention. Concerning the church, our vision is governed not by the present situation nor by traditional practice, but by God’s original intention and by His unchanging standard as revealed in His Word. We regard the New Testament revelation of the church not merely as a historical antecedent, but as the norm for church practice in the present day. God’s recovery did not begin in the twentieth century. Although it is difficult to fix an exact date for its beginning, it is convenient to set it at the time of the Reformation. The recovery has gone through several stages since the Reformation, passing through the partial recovery of the church life in Bohemia under the leadership of Zinzendorf, moving on to the unveiling of the many precious Bible truths through the Plymouth Brethren, and then going on to the genuine experience of the inner life. Now it has reached its present stage with the establishment of genuine local churches as the expression of the Body of Christ. In His recovery today the Lord is doing two things. He is recovering the experience of the riches of Christ—that is, the enjoyment of Christ as our life and our everything—and He is recovering the practice of the church life. These two matters go hand in hand, for the practical church life is the issue of the enjoyment of the riches of Christ. We in the Lord’s recovery today testify that Christ is unsearchably rich, that He is the all-inclusive One for our enjoyment. Furthermore, we testify that the Lord has burdened us for the practice of the church life according to the revelation of the pure Word of God.”  (http://www.localchurches.org/

For examples of the teachings by Witness Lee as to the full apostasy of mainline denominations, which required the “recovery” of what was lost, the following citations are taken from “AN OPEN LETTER ✦ To the Leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the “Local Churches” (http://www.open-letter.org/

“The Lord is not building His church in Christendom, which is composed of the apostate Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations. This prophecy is being fulfilled through the Lord’s recovery, in which the building of the genuine church is being accomplished.” Witness Lee in The New Testament Recovery Version, note 184 (Matthew 16:18) (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1991), p. 99 http://online.recoveryversion.org/FootNotes.asp?FNtsID=639

“The apostate church has deviated from the Lord’s word and become heretical. The reformed church, though recovered to the Lord’s word to some extent, has denied the Lord’s name by denominating herself, taking many other names, such as Lutherans, Wesleyan, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. … To deviate from the Lord’s word is apostasy, and to denominate the church by taking any name other than the Lord’s is spiritual fornication.” Witness Lee in The New Testament Recovery Version, note 83 (Revelation 3:8) Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1991), p. 1256 http://online.recoveryversion.org/FootNotes.asp?FNtsID=8759

“I am afraid that a number of us are still under the negative influence of Christendom. We all have to realize that today the Lord is going on and on to fully recover us and bring us fully out of Christendom.” Witness Lee, The History of the Church and the Local Churches (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1991), p. 132

“‘We do not care for Christianity, we do not care for Christendom, we do not care for the Roman Catholic church, and we do not care for all the denominations, because in the Bible it says that the great Babylon is fallen. This is a declaration. Christianity is fallen, Christendom is fallen, `Catholicism is fallen, and all the denominations are fallen. Hallelujah!” Witness Lee, The Seven Spirits for the Local Churches (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1989), p. 97

“To know God is not adequate. To know Christ is also not adequate. Even to know the church is not adequate. We must go on to know the churches which are local. If we are up-to-date in following the Lord, we will realize that today is the day of the local churches.” Ibid., p. 23

Response: As with all the cults, LSM and the “local churches” have decided that they are the only ones who have recovered what was supposedly lost from the church, when in reality they have merely come up with their own aberrant ideas as to what the church is. And while denominations may have some erroneous teachings, to say that all are apostate is saying the same thing as do cults such as LDS, JW, etc. Unlike the cults, the “local churches” do at least acknowledge that true Christians are found in denominational churches.

The Church:  As noted above under “Recovery,” the “Local Church” teaches that all denominations are in error and each town should have just one church, a “local church” named for the town it is in. They believe the church should have no name other than a reference to the city. The following citations are all from http://www.local-church-history.org/

“The testimony of Scripture consistently confirms that the believers in a given city constitute the church in that place, the local church.”

“In Acts 8:1, immediately after the death of Stephen, the word is again used, and the connection in this case is clearer than before. ‘There occurred in that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem.’ From this passage it is obvious that the believers in Jerusalem are the church in Jerusalem. So we know now what the church is. It consists of all the saved ones in a given locality.” (Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 30, 73) “Later on, in the course of the apostles’ first missionary tour, many people were saved in different places through the preaching of the gospel. Nothing is mentioned about their being formed into churches, but in Acts 14:23, it is said of Paul and Barnabas that ‘they had appointed elders for them in every church.’ The groups of believers in these different places are called churches, without any explanation whatever as to how they came to be churches. They were groups of believers, so they simply were churches. Whenever a number of people in any place were saved, they spontaneously became the church in that place. Without introduction or explanation of any kind, the Word of God presents such a group of believers to us as a church.” (Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 30, 73-74)

“We do not read of the churches in Jerusalem, or the churches in Ephesus, or the churches in Corinth. Each of these was counted as only one place; therefore, it was permissible to have only one church in each.” (Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 30, 59)

“God has ordained that there be only one church in each locality. … God has also ordained that no local church can be joined to another local church to form one church. This is why the Bible says, ‘The seven churches which are in Asia’ (v. 4), and not ‘the church in Asia.’ (Asia is a province, and there is more than one locality in a province.)…If we know the Bible and if we know the Holy Spirit, we will acknowledge that there can only be one church in one locality. It is not scriptural to make a church out of a few localities or to have several churches in one locality. Forming one church out of several localities demands a oneness that is not found in the Bible, while having more than one church in one locality divides the oneness that the Scripture demands. If we are mindful that the seven lampstands are the seven churches, we will be reminded of the proper standing of the church in the eyes of God.” (Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 2, Vol. 34, 167)

Nee and Lee condemned the catholic - universal - idea of one church on earth, confusing a spiritual entity of the church with an organizational entity such as Roman Catholicism: “We must study the Scriptures carefully and accurately before God to ascertain whether or not the church on earth is one church. If it is only one church, we must say that the local church is wrong, and even the many denominations in Protestantism must also confess that they are wrong. If there is but one church, we all have to go back to Rome; if we do not, we are wrong. Therefore, we must study the Scriptures to see whether or not we are wrong. I know there are some Protestant friends who have said that the church on earth is one and that our churches in different localities are wrong. According to them, the church is always one. Please note that their word condemns them. If the church is one, there is no reason for any of their denominations to exist. If the church is one, then regardless of where it is, it must be the Church of Rome. According to numbers, the Church of Rome is the largest, according to history, it is the oldest church, and according to organization, it is one. If there should be only one church, that is, if the church of God or the church of Christ should be singular, then this would be the scriptural way. We should all return to Rome. However, the Bible does not teach this.” (Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 3, Vol. 56, 331-333)

Response: Watchman Nee said that “having more than one church in one locality divides the oneness that the Scripture demands,” yet the true church has to be of one accord in Christ to be truly the Church of Christ. Nowhere does Scripture demand what Nee and Lee claim. Since the “Church” is actually the people and not buildings or organizations (as Nee misunderstands), this teaching of only one church in each city is actually misusing the Scripture. In reality, there is indeed only one “Church” on earth, because it is the body of Christ and Christ can have only one body: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4:4-6) However, historically Christians have always gathered and called the assembled saints the “Church.” While denominational divisions are certainly not Scriptural, the church itself is not an organization. It is aberrational and a misuse of Scripture to say that these gatherings cannot be named for identification purposes unless they are identified with the Roman Church.

Bible:  Living Stream Ministry publishes their own translation of the Bible as the Recovery Version. While the text appears to be a proper translation, the reason for their own version was so it would include copious notes by Witness Lee, which are often problematic to orthodox Christianity. Living Stream Ministry explains their version:

“[F]rom the sixth to the fourteenth centuries, the Bible was largely inaccessible to the public. During this period, the bright light contained in the Bible and many of the precious truths revealed in it and enjoyed by the early Christians were not generally available. Since the 1500s, beginning with Martin Luther's groundbreaking realization that justification is by faith, the Lord has continued to gradually recover more light and truth from His Word. This recovery in spiritual and scriptural understanding has ushered in a corresponding recovery in both the individual and the corporate aspects of the Christian life. The New Testament Recovery Version is so named because its text and footnotes crystallize many of these truths and experiences. …The New Testament Recovery Version is translated from the original languages according to principles and standards of translation established by major English translations of the last five centuries. The New Testament Recovery Version was translated and revised by the Editorial Section of Living Stream Ministry from 1974 to 1991. The New Testament Recovery Version contains numerous study aids, including, the subject and background of each book; detailed, interpretive outlines; enlightening footnotes, valuable cross-references, and a variety of useful charts and maps. All of these study aids were written by Witness Lee, who received much help from the writings of noted Bible expositors throughout church history, including his co-worker, Watchman Nee. The New Testament Recovery Version in its current format in English was published in 1991, and it is also available in Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, and several other languages. The Recovery Version of the Bible, including outlines, footnotes, and cross-references for both the Old and New Testaments is now available.” (http://www.recoveryversion.org/)*

Response: Since Watchman Nee and Witness Lee claimed revelation from God in their teachings, it is obvious that LSM/“local churches” do not accept the Bible as a closed canon, nor sufficient in its teachings.  The following teachings are on a “Local Church” website as of October 2010. These are commentaries by Witness Lee in the Recovery Bible. (http://www.afaithfulword.org/articles/CBs.html)*

Gen. 3:1 - Now the serpent was more crafty than any other animal of the field that Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, 3Did God really say, You shall not eat of any tree of the garden? fn. 3:13 - In tempting the woman, Satan first touched her mind by questioning God's word, causing her to doubt God's word. The serpent's question stirred up Eve's doubting mind and prevented her from using her spirit to contact God. Satan's evil thought entered into Eve and contaminated her mind even before she ate of the tree of knowledge.
Response: There is no biblical evidence to suggest Eve was unable to communicate with God. And she could not have had a “contaminated” mind prior to eating the fruit because she hadn’t sinned yet. She was still able to make a decision.

Gen. 3:4-5 - [4] And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die! [5] 1For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God, knowing good and evil. fn. 3:51 - This slanderous word from the evil one caused Eve to misunderstand God's love and to doubt God's heart in His forbidding man to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17). It poisoned Eve's emotion, causing her to dislike God.
Response: Again, this is speculation about Eve’s thoughts, in which we have no teaching from Scripture. And Scripture never says Eve “disliked” God, even though it is apparent she doubted God’s reasons.

These are just two samples of how Lee’s “revelation” and teachings misrepresent what the Bible says. Steve Amato, of Boston Christian Bible Study Resources, spent a year attending a “local church” and made the following observation: “if you go to such a church you will find literature displayed which was written exclusively by Lee and Watchman Nee and no others. Why is that? And their Bible - the "Recovery Version" - includes a commentary on every page written by Witness Lee. Their weekly Bible readings also include a teaching by Lee or Nee. I also attend a weekly Evangelistic Bible study in which at times the Bible is used very little, but rather in which the readings have consisted almost exclusively of Witness Lee's comments and opinions. Much as they affirm the Bible, they tend to filter everything through Witness Lee's Theology, and many times read his opinions as if they were the Bible.” (http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/lc.html)*

God/the Trinity:  There are many teachings by Witness Lee which contradict or compromise historic, orthodox teachings about God and the Trinity and are thereby heretical. The following examples are taken from “AN OPEN LETTER ✦ To the Leadership of Living Stream Ministry and the “Local Churches”  (http://www.open-letter.org/) (LSM has published a response, claiming Lee’s statements have been taken out of context; this can be found at http://www.lctestimony.org/ResponseToOpenLetter.html

“The Son is called the Father; so the Son must be the Father. We must realize this fact. There are some who say that He is called the Father, but He is not really the Father. But how could He be called the Father and yet not be the Father?... In the place where no man can approach Him (I Tim. 6:16), God is the Father. When He comes forth to manifest Himself, He is the Son. So, a Son is given, yet His name is called ‘The everlasting Father.’ This very Son who has been given to us is the very Father.” Witness Lee, The All-Inclusive Spirit of Christ (Los Angeles: The Stream Publishers, 1969), pp. 4–5

“...the entire Godhead, the Triune God, became flesh.” Witness Lee, God’s New Testament Economy (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1986), p. 230

“The traditional explanation of the Trinity is grossly inadequate and borders on tritheism. When the Spirit of God is joined with us, God is not left behind, nor does Christ remain on the throne. This is the impression Christianity gives. They think of the Father as one Person, sending the Son, another Person, to accomplish redemption, after which the Son sends the Spirit, yet another Person. The Spirit, in traditional thinking, comes into the believers, while the Father and Son are left on the throne. When believers pray, they are taught to bow before the Father and pray in the name of the Son. To split the Godhead into these separate Persons is not the revelation of the Bible….” Witness Lee, Life Messages (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1979), p. 164

“THE SON IS THE FATHER, AND THE SON IS ALSO THE SPIRIT…. and the Lord Jesus who is the Son is also the Eternal Father. Our Lord is the Son, and He is also the Father. Hallelujah!” Witness Lee, Concerning the Triune God (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1973), pp. 18–19

“Therefore, it is clear: The Lord Jesus is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, and He is the very God. He is also the Lord. He is the Father, the Son, the Spirit, the Mighty God, and the Lord.” Witness Lee, The Clear Scriptural Revelation Concerning the Triune God www.contendingforthefaith.org/responses/booklets/triune.html

“The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not three separate persons or three Gods; they are one God, one reality, one person.” Witness Lee, The Triune God to Be Life to the Tripartite Man (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1970), p. 48

Humanity: Again, there are teachings by Lee which contradict or compromise the teachings of Scripture. As with the section on God, these citations come from the Open Letter and are given explanations by LSM on their response.

“Christ is of two natures, the human and the divine, and we are the same: we are of the human nature, but covered with the divine. He is the God-man, and we are the God-men. He is the ark made of wood covered with gold, and we are the boards made of wood covered with gold. In number we are different, but in nature we are exactly the same.” Witness Lee, The All-Inclusive Christ (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 5th ed. 1989), p. 103

“God can say to His believers, ‘I am divine and human,’ and His believers can reply, ‘Praise You, Lord. You are divine and human, and we are human and divine.’” Witness Lee, The Triune God to Be Life to the Tripartite Man (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1990), pp. 51–52

“My burden is to show you clearly that God’s economy and plan is to make Himself man and to make us, His created beings, ‘God,’ so that He is ‘man-ized’ and we are ‘God-ized.’ In the end, He and we, we and He, all become God-men.” Witness Lee, A Deeper Study of the Divine Dispensing (Anaheim: Living Stream Ministry, 1990), p. 54

“We the believers are begotten of God. What is begotten of man is man, and what is begotten of God must be God. We are born of God; hence, in this sense, we are God.” Ibid., p. 53

“Because the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one with the Body of Christ, we may say that the Triune God is now the ‘four-in-one God.’ These four are the Father, the Son, the Spirit, and the Body. The Three of the Divine Trinity cannot be confused or separated, and the four-in-one also cannot be separated or confused.” Ibid., pp. 203–204

Other false or aberrational teachings: The following information was taken from http://www.thelocalchurch.org/  in early 2003 while I was researching the “Local Church.” The site was operated by Light of Truth Ministries and Jim Moran. This site no longer exists, as explained on http://dazuma.freeshell.org/lcinfo/?page=writings/research/moran:*

“Mr. Jim Moran spent many years studying the ‘Local Church’, wrote a lengthy analysis of the movement from a primarily theological standpoint, and operated a ‘Local Church’ focused counter-cult ministry called ‘Light Of Truth Ministries’. Unfortunately, Jim Moran passed away unexpectedly in January of 2003. During subsequent months, the ‘Local Church’, represented by The Church In Fullerton, purchased ownership of all Mr. Moran's research material, websites and copyrights from his estate. Since then, The Church In Fullerton has been exercising its ownership of those copyrights by demanding the removal of all Mr. Moran's works from distribution.”

The page I printed out had links to several articles, but I have only the titles of the articles. These titles demonstrate that there were false or aberrational teachings discussed in the articles. Some titles and summations are as follows:

1. The Local Church and Baptismal Regeneration. Witness Lee teaches a strict form of baptismal regeneration. According to Lee and the Local Church, baptism transfers someone from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God, and is necessary to be saved.

2. The Local Church and Man & Sin & Satan & Christ. Witness Lee teaches that Satan and man’s body are mingled together and that Satan dwells within mankind as man’s sinful nature. According to Lee, Satan also dwelt within Christ’s body and was then put to death on the cross. According to Lee, the cross was God’s plan to trap and destroy Satan!

3. The Local Church and “Mingling.” Witness Lee teaches that Christ’s two natures were mingled together, illustrated by mixing with tea and an apple and peach having been grafted together. According to Lee, God’s Spirit and man’s spirit are mingled together as one intrinsic, organic entity. They are now a one-spirit entity.

4. Witness Lee: Oracle, Apostle, and God’s Deputy Authority on Earth. Witness Lee claimed to be an apostle, the oracle of God, God’s deputy authority on earth, and was looked upon as such by members of the Local Church movement!

Additionally, G. Richard Fisher, in his article Watching Out for Watchman Nee (Personal Freedom Outreach newsletter, Vol. 5, No 1, page 5) gives the following insights into Watchman Nee’s teachings:

The teachings that developed over Nee's lifetime and out of his encounters with these women and the teachings they directed him to are dangerous to Christians seeking clear guidelines to follow. Space allows a listing of only a few of the problems in Nee's teachings.

* Nee outlines no method of Bible study and interpretation and appears to deny evangelical hermeneutics. In his book Spiritual Authority, he sets himself and his elders up as the unquestionable authorities. By all appearances, Nee saw himself not as a servant but as a guru. One gets the impression from Nee that the Bible was not nearly as important as Christians generally consider it. In his book The Ministry of God's Word, Nee says, "Words alone cannot be considered God's Word." In this book, Nee becomes very philosophical, mystical and incoherent. He says that only as we deliver the Word in terms of the "reality behind it," using what he calls "Holy Spirit memory" and "presenting the pictures as well as speaking the words" will the words be correct; otherwise they are not real.

* Nee overemphasizes emotions. In The Ministry of God's Word, he claims that the effectiveness of a preacher's delivery is a product of his emotions. If a preacher does not feel emotionally charged in delivery, "The Spirit is stuck" and the "Spirit is inevitably arrested," Nee says. He continued, "The Spirit flows through the channel of emotion." Then he arrives at a strange conclusion: "Nose in the Scripture stands for feeling. Smelling is a most delicate act, man's feeling is most delicate." Therefore, Nee says, a preacher in speaking needs to "mix feelings with the words spoken, else his words are dead. If our feeling lags behind, or words are stripped of the spirit." To say as Nee does, on page 210, that the Holy Spirit only rides on feeling is dangerous.

* Nee uses terms imprecisely. One example is his writing about a minister's receiving "revelations" in his "Holy Spirit memory" and those revelations being remembered in us by the Holy Spirit. This sort of metaphysical mumbo jumbo is impossible to understand, since there is no direct scriptural reference to a "Holy Spirit memory."

Finally, Steve Amato tells us the following at Boston Christian Bible Study Resources: Both Witness Lee and Watchman Nee advocate a purgatory idea. In his book "The Gospel of God, Volume 3" pg 443, Watchman Nee says: "If a person has become a Christian but his hands or feet sin all the time, he will suffer the punishment of the eternal fire in the kingdom of the heavens. He will not suffer this punishment eternally, but will suffer it only in the age of the kingdom" (Meaning the 1000 year Millenial Kingdom). These are contrary to two aspects of Biblical Christianity. First it is contrary to the forgiveness of sins which Jesus provided by his atoning sacrifice. It is also contrary to the fact that there is no such thing as one who has been born of God, but lives a lifestyle of sin, as John writes: "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." 1John 3:6 And John is speaking in a lifestyle sense, as Nee is also speaking when John says: "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:9,10 But Nee doesn't accept this concept. Nee goes on to say: "If a Christian has any unrepented of and unconfessed sins, which are not forgiven, he will suffer the Gehenna of fire." And he also says "In the coming age, there is still the possibility of forgiveness, but one cannot come out until he pays the last quadrans and clears up everything with his brother." So he teaches that there are certain sins which those who have been born of God may have which are not forgiven, but must be payed for in a purgatorial cleansing. Indeed in the same book he says, "All the unconfessed sins and all the sins that have not passed through the blood of the Lord Jesus leave their uncleaness on the person. This uncleanness will cause one to lose his share in the coming kingdom" (Meaning they get thrown into the eternal fire for a time) (http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/lc.html)*

These examples of doctrinal problems with the “Local Church” demonstrate the cultic nature of this group.

Beware of False Teachers


But some most worthless persons are in the habit of carrying about the name [of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practice things unworthy of God, and hold opinions contrary to the doctrine of Christ, to their own destruction, and that of those who give credit to them, whom ye must avoid as ye would wild beasts.  For “the righteous man who avoids them is saved forever; but destruction of the ungodly is sudden, and a subject of rejoicing.”  For “they are dumb dogs, that cannot bark,” raving mad, and biting secretly, against whom you must be on your guard, since they labour under an incurable disease. ... I have heard of some who have passed in among you, I have heard of some who have passed in among you, holding the wicked doctrine of the strange and evil spirit; to whom ye did not allow entrance to sow their tares, but stopped your ears that ye might not receive that error which was proclaimed by them, as being persuaded that that spirit which deceives the people does not speak the things of Christ, but his own, for he is a lying spirit. But the Holy Spirit does not speak His own things, but those of Christ, and that not from himself, but from the Lord; even as the Lord also announced to us the things that He received from the Father.  Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians

It sounds like Ignatius is describing the Emergent Church, or perhaps the Word of Faith, or perhaps many other false teachers today.  There really isn’t anything new under the sun.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Error Is Subtle

"Error indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being exposed, it should at once be detected.  But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself."   Irenaeus, Against Heresies.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Joyce Meyer - Another Teacher to Avoid

Someone gave my wife a book by Joyce Meyer, titled: Enjoying Where You Are On the Way to Where You Are Going. I have read in many places on the Internet and in many of the books and journals in my library about how bad a teacher Joyce Meyer is. So getting a first-hand look at one of her books was something I normally wouldn’t have accomplished because I refuse to pay good money for bad teachings! However, since my wife was given this book, I decided to review it. This article is the review I did of this book, and if you don’t have the book for reference, you won’t get the full effect, but there should be plenty here to demonstrate why Meyer is not a credible teacher.

To begin with, Joyce Meyer is a proponent of the heretical Word-Faith teachings, part of the extreme end of charismania. This doctrine comes out in her teachings. (This alone is a reason to avoid her!) This review isn’t as in-depth as it could be, simply because I didn’t want to expend the time. When citing Scripture I will use the Amplified Bible unless otherwise noted, because that is what Meyer uses.

Chapter 1
p.9   Meyer quotes a paraphrase of Matthew 11:29. The paraphrase is the problem. Matt. 11:29 says, "You will find rest for your souls," while the paraphrase says, "You will discover the meaning of your life." Jesus has just offered the gospel, i.e., salvation through him. That is the meaning of "rest" for our soul - it is the "rest of salvation," the rest of knowing our sins are forgiven. It has nothing to do with discovering "the meaning of your life." Another problem with the paraphrase is that it says the yoke of Jesus is "the burden of responsibility I give you." The “yoke” is the yoke of service to Jesus! He just offered salvation and now He is saying to place yourself under the yoke of service to Him. Compare to Matt. 23:4 where He talks about the burden of the Pharisee's yoke. While this may not seem to be a very serious error, and the rest of Meyer's message in this chapter is satisfactory, I immediately become concerned as to her ability to rightly divide the Word (2 Tim. 2:15).

Chapter 2: One of the problems with this chapter is Meyer's use of Deut. 30:19 as an application to the Christian. This verse, in context, is addressed to Israel and Israel only. If she wanted to use this as a principle or analogy, she should have stated so. Her examples from the New Testament were sufficient. To rightly divide the Word she should delete all references to Deut. 30:19 from this chapter.

p.17  Meyer states, in regards to Israel, "The Promised Land was always available, and yet the Israelites wandered around in the wilderness forty years. Deuteronomy 1:2 states that the geographical distance of their journey was actually an eleven-day trip. They were all around the Promised Land, close to it, even at the border, but refused to go in. They sent in spies to see if it was really as good as it sounded, but they did not enter. And the Bible tells us the reason they did not enter was unbelief. (Heb. 4:6 KJV)."

This statement gives the impression that Israel chose to wander for the 40 years when they could have gone into the Promised Land at any time. When Heb. 4:6 says it was because of "unbelief" that they wandered, the writer is stating it was their unbelief which led to the punishment of God, which was 40 years of wandering until the rebellious generation were all dead, as described in Num. 14 and Deut. 1. The Promised Land was not "always available" to Israel during that 40 years because God would not allow them to enter.

Another concern is with her use of KJV for this proof text instead of the Amplified Bible as she did for all other quotes in this chapter. Her point is to make unbelief the reason Israel did not enter the land when Numbers and Deuteronomy plainly say it was rebellion and disobedience that led to the punishment. In fact, of the 19 English translations I looked at, only KJV, Revised English Bible, Today's English Version and J.B. Phillips say "unbelief" instead of "disobedience" at Hebrews 4:6. One could argue that it was unbelief that led to the disobedience, and that is all well and good, but if Meyer had used the Amplified Bible it would have said "disobedience" and that wouldn't have fit her scenario. Although Meyer's good point of the chapter is well-taken, I now become more concerned as to her ability to rightly divide the Word of God.

Chapter 3.
p.30  Meyer states that 1 Chron. 22:13 “warns against dread.” This text does not warn against dread, rather it encourages against it - That is a big difference! Meyer then states that dread “will also hinder our prosperity.” She follows this with Heb. 11:6 about how God rewards those who seek him. This is typical “name it and claim it” doctrine. Nowhere does Scripture say dread will hinder our prosperity, and Heb. 11:6 has nothing to do with financial rewards. She then leaps to the conclusion that dread is void of faith, and therefore, according to Romans 14:23, is sin. Common sense says that dread does not exclude faith. Jesus plainly seemed in dread of the crucifixion, but he lack no faith. The context of Romans 14:23 has to do with whether one’s faith permits eating certain items and, if not, to that person it is sin. It has nothing to do with dread vs faith. Meyer has again demonstrated her inability to rightly divide the word.

pp.31-32  Meyer, at the bottom of p.31 begins a sentence completed at the top of p.32. She says to let her book be a “point of contact.” This is an occultic divination activity which is practiced by many in the Word-Faith movement.

Chapter 4.
p.33  Meyer talks of the “labor of reasoning.” Then on p. 35 she says, “The doubtful, negative mind is filled with reasoning.” This denigrates reasoning but we are called by God to be reasonable people. We are to “test everything” (1 Thes. 5:21), which requires reasoning skills. The Bereans are praised in Acts because they used reasoning to determine the truth of what they were hearing versus what the Scripture said. This is typical of the Word Faith heresy - the denigrating of thinking and logic skills.

p.36  Meyer quotes John 10:10 about enjoying living “abundantly,” but John was not talking about a hedonistic enjoyment of life, which is what Meyer is implying here. When the Scripture talks of enjoying life, it is talking about enjoying fellowship with God, enjoying the fact that we are free of our bondage to sin. Meyer makes it more of a celebration - almost a “party” mentality. However, our joy is to be in the Lord.

p.38  Here is a classic example of taking Scripture out of context. Meyer quotes John 6:29 as, “Jesus replied, ‘This is the work (service) that God asks of you: that you believe.…’” Meyer then proceeds to tell us all we have to do to please God is believe, with no subject of the belief being identified. Word Faith teaches that faith is a power in and of itself, and this paragraph is leading in that direction. The problem is that John 6:29 continues with, “...in the One Whom He has sent - that you cleave to, trust, rely on and have faith in His Messenger.” The passage defines the subject of faith; i.e., the work of God is to have faith in Jesus as our Savior. Again, this shows Meyer’s lack of being able to rightly divide the word of God.

p.40  Meyer says we make a much bigger deal out of sin than God does. If that is the case, then how does she explain the entire Bible’s teaching against sin, and that God had to provide a Savior to atone for sin? I think Meyer takes sin too lightly. Meyer then goes into some “name it and claim it” teaching with the idea that “receive” and “believe” are synonymous. She is obviously setting the stage for the remainder of the book.

p.42  Meyer says, “...the Gospel is supposed to bring great joy - not condemnation for sin.” However, I don’t think she really makes it clear what the joy is. We have to understand the “good news of a great joy” as being the joy of knowing we have our eternal life secured now in Christ. I think it is important that we do remain “sin conscious” in order to examine ourselves in our relationship with God, applying 1 John 1:9. Although I think this is what Meyer is trying to say, it doesn’t come across clearly.

p.44  Meyer equivocates with the word “life.” She says, “...He is Life, and my conclusion was that I could not enjoy God unless I learned to enjoy life.” Whereas Jesus is “life” in the sense of what he is giving to us (in all its facets, including eternal life), Meyer wants to enjoy “life” in the sense of being in the world and alive and “living it up,” so to speak. Either that, or she doesn’t plainly state what she means, at least to this reader. Meyer says, “A few years ago, the Lord said to me, ‘Joyce, I am not nearly as hard to get along with as most of you think I am.’” Is she saying she received a direct revelation from God? This statement seems to substantially reduce the holiness of God.

p.45  Here is where we really begin to get into the Word Faith teachings. She says “Faith is a force...” and then proceeds to go into unbiblical teaching about what faith is and what it does. She talks about faith being in the heart and being in agreement with the mind. The problem here is that the “heart” is the mind. I don’t know who this Ben Campbell Johnson is, but his talking about faith “actualizing” what one says is definitely of the Word Faith doctrine.

Chapter 5
p.50  Meyer quotes James 1:6-8 and claims that this is an example of the “complicated, bewildered” man. However, when James is discussing the “double-minded” man, he is talking about one who on one side says he believes God and then disbelieves that God will answer his prayer. This is not complicated or bewildering to the man; it is just a lack of faith when praying to God. It has nothing at all to do with lacking simplicity, as is the subject of our chapter. This is another example of not rightly dividing the Word. In the next paragraph Meyer makes a mistake in defining words. She says that “anything simple is easy to understand because it is ‘composed of only one thing.’” “Anything simple” may or may not be “composed of only one thing.” That is one definition of “simple,” not of “anything simple.”

p.54  Here Meyer is guilty of equivocating. She has been talking of simplifying one’s life, making it less complicated. Then she uses where Paul talks of the simplicity of the Gospel as justification. In Gal. 5:1, the “yoke of slavery” Paul refers to is going back to the Law for justification. This has nothing to do with Meyer’s subject of living a simple life. Midway down the page Meyer again makes a slam at “reasoning.” Word Faith teaching does not want us to use reason because we would immediately see their false teachings for what they are.

p.55  Meyer says, “Complication is the work of Satan.” There is no Biblical basis for this, let alone that common sense says that “complication” is not always bad. Her whole concept of complication vs. simplicity being good or evil is nonsense, and not even addressed in the Bible in this context. If she had said, “Complication of the Gospel message is the work of Satan,” I could agree with her. We are told many times in Scripture that the Gospel is simple and even foolish in the sight of the unsaved, but that is not the context of Meyer’s subject.

p.56  Meyer says God spoke to her and said, in regards to her seeking the answer to her problem with her husband, “Why not simply go to bed?” Here she is again claiming personal communication with God, i.e., direct revelation. My problem with this here is that I think God wants us to discover what causes problems so we can address our own sin. It is not complicating an issue when you seek the cause of a problem. Beyond any of this, I fail to see how any of this has anything to do with our relationship with God!

pp.57-59  Last paragraph p.58 begins the problem. Meyer says, “Most people are full of what God has called them to do and what He has anointed them for...” I think she would be hard pressed to find “most people” believing they are anointed in any way. Maybe most people in her Word-Faith environment, but certainly not among the average Christian. Further on p.58 through p.59 she says, “God got the point across to me...”, “He [God] taught me some wonderful things...”, “The Lord taught me...”, “He [God] showed me...”, “He [God] made me see...”, “The Lord also taught me...”, “The Lord showed me...”. These are all examples of her personal “revelation” knowledge. She sets herself up as one who is in personal communication with God, beyond the normal Christian relationship of prayer and the Holy Spirit’s leading. This again is common among the Word-Faith teachings. Another problem is that she was listening to all these people telling her what to pray for and how to pray; what about what Scripture says about it? She never once mentions seeking guidance of prayer from the Bible. The whole issue beginning at the last
paragraph on p.58, in reference to praying under an “anointing” has no Scriptural basis.

p.60   In the third paragraph Meyer says, “I am placing a prayer cover over this family.” Where is the idea of a “prayer cover” found in Scripture? Nowhere! This is found in the teachings of Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, another aberration.

p.63   Paragraph 5 states, “[God’s] will for each of us is prosperity and abundance.” “Prosperity” and “abundance” are very subjective terms, but I believe she is setting the stage for the “health and wealth” message of Word Faith. At any rate, if that was what God wants, why are there so many believers lacking these things from a strictly material aspect? I believe this quote is true in a spiritual aspect, but not in the material aspect, since there is no Scripture to prove this.

p.64  At the bottom of the page Meyer begins her definitions again, stating that “simple” means “easy.” However, in the verse she quotes this is not the meaning of the word “easy.” In fact, in v.28 “ease” is not in the text but is in the commentary amplification. This is also true of v.29. So, contrary to Meyer’s claim, the word does not appear often in this passage. In v.30 Jesus isn’t saying his yoke is “simple”, rather he is saying it is not difficult or, as William McDonald states, “does not chafe.”

p.65   John 15:11 does not speak of enjoyment! Jesus speaks of joy, which is a much different thing. In the next-to-last paragraph she says the Holy Spirit is “simple.” The Bible says nothing about the Spirit being simple. This is Meyer’s fantasy.

p.66   “Simplicity obeys promptly. It is complicated to disobey...” This is a logic fallacy of non sequitur. It may be complicated to obey and simple to disobey - each situation could be different.

p.67  Meyer really has no concept of what James talks about. Here she talks about the double-minded person as being confused and indecisive. When James talks about a double-minded person he defines it as a person who asks of God but doesn’t really believe God will answer him. This section, “Simplicity and Decisions,” is not what James 5:12 is talking about. James is talking about taking oaths, and that one does not need an oath to emphasize a “yes” or “no.” If Meyer would study a little about oath-taking in the Bible, and the purpose for using an oath to verify one’s veracity, she would know James is not talking about decision-making ability. Nowhere does the Scripture condemn a person for being unable to make simple decisions in life. Meyer’s examples of making decisions as to what to wear, what to eat, where to eat, etc. have nothing whatsoever to do with James 5:12. This is again proof that Meyer cannot rightly divide the Word of God.

p.68  Meyer says, “it is much easier to decide to apologize than it is to stay angry and be filled with unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment...” She is flat wrong here. It is very difficult for anyone to decide to apologize for wrong-doing. It is an issue of pride. Experience in life will prove that to anyone.

Chapter 6
p.72  To say that “every healthy adult should also have a child in him” is pure psycho-babble. We are supposed to mature and leave the child behind (1 Cor. 13:11). The attributes Meyer attaches to a child can also be found in a mature adult, but not always demonstrated. Jesus said we must be like a child in these attributes in order to be open to his message, but that is not saying we must not be mature believers. Heb. 5:11 - 6:1 makes a complaint against those who are still babes in the Word, and Paul, in 1 Cor. 3, complains about the Corinthians still acting as infants in Christ. Satan did not attempt to kill the Christ child because he “is always out to kill the child” in us, he was after Christ only. He knew who He was and wanted to get rid of Him. This is not an example of Satan wanting to “kill the child” in us. The next-to-last paragraph is nonsense. The progression Meyer makes is illogical: Satan was afraid of a child, a child was a king and kings rule; if we want to rule and reign as kings we must become like little children. What about the fact that the majority of all kings in history were adults! She says that, “When we become childlike, it frightens the devil just as the Christ Child frightened Herod.” No place in Scripture does it say that Satan is afraid of children! This is a claim Meyer makes up out of her own imagination.

p.74  In the third paragraph Meyer states that, “God will bless us in all that we undertake,” and then she cites
Deut.28:8 as her reference. This again proves to be out of context, as it is in reference to God’s promises to Israel. It has nothing to do with the Christian!

p.78  In referring to John 21:1-6, Meyer said that the disciples “quickly made an emotional decision” when they decided to go fishing, and that was why they failed to “produce the desired result,” i.e., they failed to catch fish. This is reading into the text; there is no place that it says they decided to go fishing just because they were emotional. This is silly reasoning. Meyer then says, “Perhaps Jesus was using this terminology [calling them “children”] to remind them of their need to come as little children and totally depend on Him.” Again, this is reading into the text. “Children” was a term of endearment, to show his affection.

p.79  Here is another blatant example of Meyer’s eisegesis and inability to rightly divide the Word. She quotes Is. 49:15 and says it “is another Scripture that reveals that our heavenly Father desires us to come to Him as children.” This is foolishness. The plain reading of the text demonstrates that God was using the analogy of a woman and her compassion for her child as being the way God relates to his “child” Israel. He says that He will never forget to take care of Israel any more than a woman will forget to take care of the child she has brought into the world. Throughout the next few pages Meyer continues her theme as to how we must be like little children, and she never points out that we must mature in the faith, that we can’t always be like little children.

p.81  Meyer equivocates in her use of “child”. She says that, “According to the Bible, childlikeness is our God-given, blood-bought right,” and then quotes John 1:12 and Romans 8:16-17 where the writers say we have the right to become children of God. The Scripture does not say we have a right to “childlikeness,” rather we have a right to become adopted as God’s children - heirs - through our faith in Christ. It doesn’t even seem that Meyer understands English.

Chapter 7: While this chapter is the best one yet for orthodox teaching, it, too, has a problem where Meyer takes Scripture out of context.

p.85  Meyer says, “God promised that the day would come when He would give people His heart, put His Spirit in them, cause them to walk in His statutes and bring them into a new relationship with Him.” She then quotes Ezekiel 36:26-28 and follows it with, “We are now living in the availability of the fulfillment of that promise. The Lord said that He would take away the stony heart out of man.” The problem is that Ezekiel says nothing of the kind. Ezekiel 36:26-28 in context is the Lord making a promise to Israel, not “people” in general; He will take away the “stony heart” of Israel, not of “man” in general. He is talking about bringing Israel back into the land from where they had been scattered and making them holy again. If Meyer wants to make the point that Christians are made new in Christ, there are plenty of Scriptures in the New Testament that can be used as proof texts, beginning with 2 Cor. 5:17, but the use of the O.T. here is just plain wrong.

Chapter 8
p.103  Bottom of the page. Is Meyer saying that God spoke to her directly (which I don’t believe) or that he just brought it to her mind?

p.104  Is she saying a place is holy just because the Christian is there? That is what it sounds like, but that is
unbiblical.

p.106  Top of the page. 1 Pet. 3:1-2 does not say “enjoy” - that is the amplification commentary! Can not Mrs. Meyer tell the difference between the text and the commentary?

p.107ff   Meyer uses the word “spirituality” where she seems to be talking about “religiousity”.

p.109 The problem in the anecdote was not that they were discussing “spiritual” things, but that they were
discussing aberrational things such as “casting out demons” and “Charismatic phrases”. These are common among adherents of charismania and embarrass other Christians. The “burnout” is usually caused by emotionalism or other wrong focus. Biographies of great men and women of the faith do not indicate “burn out.”

p.110  Meyer takes another shot at “reasoning.” Word Faith teachers continually denigrate any logical thought.

Chapter 9
p.113   Meyer calls joy a “spiritual force.” This is definitely wrong. Joy is an attitude.

p.115  Meyer discusses being of “good cheer” and “good courage,” but she makes these two words synonymous. Sometimes I wonder if she understands English, let alone the Bible! In Joshua 1:6 God is telling Joshua to be courageous because he will be leading his people into the promised land. God has made Joshua the leader of Israel and is taking him into a situation that would be fearful to the average person, so God is telling Joshua not to fear because God will be with him. God was not telling Joshua to have a “cheerful attitude” as Meyer states. Meyer contrasts Josh. 1:6 with John 16:33 where it says to “be of good cheer” by pointing out that the Greek here can mean “be of good courage.” The alternate meaning is not in dispute; in fact the following are some translations of this verse: “be of good cheer,” “take courage,” “take heart,” “be confident,” “never lose heart,” “cheer up,” “be brave,” “be strong.” It seems to me that Jesus is telling them that, although the future looks bleak, he has already overcome the world so we can “stiff upper lip” it, cheer up and be confident in Him. This is a little bit different than telling someone about to go into combat to “be courageous.” I think comparing the two as synonymous is wrong.

p.116   Meyer tells us that we should not continue praying about something once we have prayed about it already. She says, “If we have prayed God has heard.” How then does Meyer explain the story Jesus tells in Luke 11:5-13 about the persistent neighbor? Or how does she explain Luke18:1-8 where Jesus discusses the judge who finally gave in to the persistent widow? Luke 18:1 even states that this parable was to show the disciples “that they should always pray and not give up.” God tells us to persist; how can Meyer contradict that? Meyer then brings in Mark 11:23, which has absolutely nothing to do with the subject at hand! Jesus was not telling us anything about “speaking to” versus “talking about” the mountain. He was giving a lesson on faith and its power in our lives. Again I have to ask if Meyer really understands what she reads.

p.117  God’s laughter in Psalm 2 is not a laughter of faith, nor a laughter of joy. God’s laughter is one of derision, mocking men who are arrogant. Meyer again does not rightly divide the Word.

p.118  Meyer says Abraham laughed “the laugh of faith” when God told him he would have a child. My reading of this text (Gen. 17:17) leads me to believe it was a laugh of incredulity, a laugh to himself that God couldn’t be serious.

p.119  Speaking of incredulity, the anecdote about a dying man who laughed himself well strains my credulity!

p.121 Meyer says, “According to the psalmist, the climate of heaven is joy and pleasure–-which means that where God is, there is holy laughter.” Meyer has now broached the subject of “holy laughter,” which is an unbiblical Manifestation found in the aberrational “revivals.” The cited Psalm, 16:11, no where hints of any such manifestation. A problem exists with the remainder of this chapter, and probably the remainder of the book, in that Meyer confuses joy in the Lord with mirth. A joyous attitude due to our faith and trust in God is not the same as the happiness or mirth that result in laughter. Joy in the Lord is very often had in even the saddest situations, with laughter not even considered. Meyer confuses joy in the Lord with worldly joy based on pleasures of the flesh. Laughter is not so much from joy in the Lord as it is with happiness and mirth in the flesh.

p.122  Meyer says that Acts 16:22-26 describes an “incident in the lives of Paul and Silas and how their joy
preceded and precipitated a ‘sudden’ breakthrough,” where the prison doors opened for their freedom. Scripture says that what “preceded and precipitated” their release was “praying and singing hymns of praise to God.” It appears to me that it was worship and prayer, not “joy,” that reached God. Did they have joy in the Lord? Most certainly, but it wasn’t that joy that led to their release except obliquely in that the joy in the Lord is probably what led them to pray and praise Him.

p.126-127  Meyer is building up to her case for “holy laughter.” For in-depth exposition on this manifestation and how unbiblical it is, there are several sources available, but the following should suffice:

Will the Real Pharisee Please Stand Up?, by Rev. Robert S. Liichow
Weighed and Found Wanting, by Pastor Bill Randles
Counterfeit Revival, by Hank Hanegraaff
The Signs and Wonders Movement - EXPOSED, edited by Peter Glover
Blessing or Judgement? by Rev. Robert S. Liichow
The Two Roots of Today’s Revival, by Rev. Robert S. Liichow
New Wine or Old Deception? by Roger Oakland
The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, by Fisher, Goedelman, et.al.

p.127  Meyer says, “When God called me to teach and preach His Word...” But with her demonstrated lack of rightly dividing the word, and her aberrational and heretical teachings in other venues, it is obvious that God has not called her to teach or preach!

p.128  Meyer says, “I believe Jesus laughed a lot more than most of us do.” The problem with this statement is that it is nothing more than that - a belief. The Bible never mentions Jesus laughing, and I doubt if He laughed all that much during his ministry or we would have been told as much in Scripture. Either way is arguing from silence. Writing of her meeting in Birmingham, Meyer states, “There was an obvious anointing on the time of ministry to those standing...” What is obvious to me from her narrative is not an anointing of God, but it may have been an anointing of the occult because of the manifestation of laughter.

p.129  Meyer says she “felt it was the Holy Spirit so I just stood and watched it.” Feelings are deceptive; we are told to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” The spirit she was watching in no way represented God.  In her discussion about the woman, Meyer says, “God used her...” From her narrative it is obvious that God did not use this woman, rather another spirit used her to start unbiblical nonsense. What makes this even more obvious is the fact that Meyer says the entire congregation would laugh when the Word of God was spoken. Laughing at God’s Word can only come from the demonic realm. There is nothing funny about God’s Word.

p.130   Again Meyer claims God was involved in this unbiblical manifestation by saying that “God was ministering to the people Himself...” I challenge anyone to show me from Scripture where this “holy laughter” is in any fashion godly. She claims God has used “laughter to minister to the congregation over the years” but this is making an assumption that God was there. Did Meyer have a personal revelation to prove it was God and not an evil spirit? Due to the unbiblical nature of this manifestation, I am forced to conclude it was an evil spirit that was ministering.

Chapter 10
p.135  The “signs and miracles” of Mark 16:20 were to confirm the original message, to authenticate what the apostles were teaching was true. We no longer need signs and wonders for authentication because we have the written Word. Any signs and wonders Meyer is seeing in her ministry are false (2 Thes. 2:9-12).

p.141-142  This section is mostly drivel discussing self-centered desires to satisfy one’s ego. She speaks much of self-focused boredom. This is an outgrowth of Meyer’s problem of confusing the joy in the Lord with hedonistic enjoyment in the world. She never seems to be able to separate those two distinct concepts.

p.146  Spiritual joy is not affected by “sameness.” This is an example of confusing joy in the Lord with enjoyment.

p.147  Meyer’s use of Rev.3:8 is out of context. In this passage Jesus is speaking to the church at Philadelphia. William MacDonald’s Commentary says, “The open door which Jewish synagogue and pagan cults were powerless to shut is the God-given opportunity to preach Christ to all who will hear. The key of David [v.7] is an Old Testament allusion to the absolute sovereignty of God in opening doors and shutting mouths. See Isaiah 22:22. ... Therefore He would set before [the church at Philadelphia] an open door of opportunity that no one would be able to shut.” The passage certainly has nothing to do with God opening or closing doors for us to tinker with “diversity.”

p.148-149  Another claim that God speaks directly to her. Meyer speaks much nonsense about having a good time, as if that is what the joy of the Lord is about. With her, it’s all about “me.” Some of the ideas are quite illogical and of disorder. But God is a God of order, so why would he want us to do things helter-skelter?

p.151  Meyer quotes from 1 Pet.3:18 about being full of “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” and then she says for us to enjoy your life!” Persons being persecuted and tortured for Christ certainly are not enjoying life, but they do have joy in the Lord as their strength. This section is building up for her teaching about how we can have “creativity and diversity” in our “Spiritual life.”

p.153-154  If Joyce’s husband thinks she’s called by God for this teaching, he is sadly mistaken!

Chapter 11
p.159   Meyer says, “God does some of His best work in secret, and He delights in surprising His children.” I’d like to see Biblical reference for this.

p.160  Meyer says here that, “...whatever God calls us to do, He provides enjoyment for. God has not drawn you and me into relationship with Himself in order to make us miserable. Instead, He brings us righteousness, peace and joy. (Rom 14:17.)” Again, Meyer is confusing joy with enjoyment. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God “provides enjoyment for” “whatever God calls us to do.” Meyer’s reference misses the last part of the verse - the part about what joy it is that God gives us. “[After all,] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead, it is righteousness - that state which makes a person acceptable to God - and heartpeace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (My emphasis.) We have “joy in the Holy Spirit,” not “enjoyment.”

p.164  Meyer says she has had “almost twenty years of experience working closely with God...” I find this to be rather presumptuous, saying that she and God work close together. With her teachings and twisting of Scripture, it is obvious that God doesn’t work close to Joyce. Maybe she meant she has been drawing near to God.

Well, there you have my review of the many errors Joyce Meyer has in her teaching in just this one book. One book is enough to tell me that Meyer is a false teacher who should be avoided.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cultic Doctrines of the Churches of Christ

Unusual doctrines of the Churches of Christ run from legalism to heresy. The first legalistic error is the teaching that the name of their churches are in line with the New Testament, and their names are the only biblical names. However, when we examine Scripture we find that term “church of Christ” is found only once in the New Testament (Rom. 16:16) and it is only descriptive, not a title. In several passages the church is described as the “church of God,” but often in Scripture the church is just called by the name of the town.

The Lord’s Supper
As with other Campbellite churches, the Churches of Christ claim that communion is a weekly requirement and absolutely essential to Christian worship. Some individual assemblies even assert that only one cup may be used and that they could not fellowship with another assembly which used individual cups during communion. “Unless providentially hindered, each member considers this weekly appointment as binding. In many instances, as in the case of illness, the Lord's supper is carried to those who are hindered from attending the worship.” (Batsell Barrett Baxter, Who are the churches of Christ and what do they believe in? http://church-of-christ.org/who.html)

Response: While it appears that in the New Testament Christians celebrated communion weekly, it is a logic fallacy to say it is therefore mandated. As for the single cup, there is no evidence that only one cup was ever used, and, in fact, it appears from studying the Passover meal that each person had their own cup or cups.

Instrumental music
Churches of Christ prohibit instrumental music during worship service because they believe there is no mention of musical instruments in the New Testament except for a negative reference (1. Cor. 13:1). Therefore, as their reasoning goes, musical instruments are prohibited. This is certainly a legalistic misuse of Scripture.

Firstly, even if the New Testament did not mention musical instruments, it would be a non sequitur logic fallacy to say it therefore followed that instruments are prohibited. Secondly, the New Testament often commands the worshiper to sing songs, and the Old Testament numerous times refers to musical instruments being used in worship. Even in Revelation there are several references to harps being used in worship.

The truth is that in the New Testament we see two places where the church is to worship with “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19). In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words we have the following explanation for the word “psalm”: pslamos primarily denoted ‘a striking or twitching with the fingers (on musical strings)’; then, ‘a sacred song, sung to musical accompaniment, a psalm.’”

The Holy Spirit and Trinity
One of the early founders, Barton Stone, determined the doctrine of the Trinity was man-made, and that the Holy Spirit was “the power of force of God.” Stone wrote the following about the Holy Spirit: “I understand the Spirit of a person is not the person himself. We often read in the Bible that the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father, but we never read of either the Father or the Son loving the Spirit as a person, or of the Spirit loving the Father or the Son.” (Craig Branch, “The Stone-Campbell-Scott Movement,” Areopagus Journal, Vol. 9, No.5, p.15) Alexander Campbell agreed with Stone that the Nicene Creed’s teaching on the triune nature of God was “humanistic philosophical creation.” (Branch, p.15)

While the official stance of the Campbellite churches maintains the orthodox teaching on the Trinity, this historical foundation can be confusing, and some members have been known to hold these unorthodox views.

Baptism
As with some other denominations, the Churches of Christ believe that baptism is required for salvation. They teach that, although actual forgiveness of sins is through faith in Christ and his shed blood, formal remission of sins can only be had in baptism.

As cited by Craig Branch, Alexander Campbell stated, “I do earnestly contend that God, through the blood of Christ, forgives our sins through immersion - through the very act and in that very instant…. No one has ever received pardon by faith only. Water baptism, with faith as the principle of action, is the means through which God by the power of the blood of Christ imparts remission.” (p.16) Campbell claimed that baptism was not a work.

As pointed out by Dr. Hugh F. Pyle in his book, The Truth About the “Church of Christ,” if baptism saves a us, then the person doing the baptism becomes our savior! (p.94)

(A peculiar teaching is that a Christian can lose his salvation, but when he returns to the church and is again saved, he does not need to repeat his baptism. Baptism saved him the first time, yet he does not need it to be saved again!)

Works
The Churches of Christ believe there are six steps to salvation: hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized, and obey the New Testament commands. Teachings by Church of Christ authors demonstrate just how serious Churches of Christ consider works and salvation to be intertwined. The following examples are cited by Dr. Hugh F. Pyle (p. 12):

“Going to church is pre-eminently essential to going to Heaven.” A.G. Hobbs, Is Church Attendance Essential?
“Good works are not necessary to becoming a Christian, but they are essential to being a faithful Christian, and we cannot go to Heaven without faithfully performing them.” John H. Banister, God’s Way of Salvation.
“We affirm that one is saved at the point of baptism.” Evangelist L.L. Applegate (reference not cited).

By adding baptism, and the 6th step to salvation (that of obeying the New Testament commands), the Campellites have made salvation dependent upon works. When we look at the New Testament, however, it plainly teaches that the only thing necessary for salvation is faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, and that works are of no benefit for salvation.

Legalistic views on the name of the church, the Lord’s Supper, and instrumental music in church, mixed with some confusion about the Trinity, and heretical views on baptism and works, puts the Churches of Christ in the category of being a cultic church group.