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
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Monday, December 31, 2012

Spiritually Abusive Religion or Religious Leader

A few years ago, while doing research on the Seventh-day Adventist sect, I ended up being subscribed to “Proclamation” magazine, the publication of Life Assurance MinistriesLife Assurance Ministries has ex-SDA members and is an “anti-SDA” apologetics ministry.

The current issue, Winter 2012, has a good article (by Joan Yorba-Gray with Colleen Tinker) about spiritually abusive religions and religious leaders, including an excellent chart comparing spiritually abusive teaching to healthy teaching.  I think the chart is well-worth sharing, so below you will find the information from the chart, but not in the chart format (I am not geeky enough to do that, and scanning the chart would make it too small to read).  Also, the chart explains where the SDA falls into the Abusive category, but I am leaving that part out so these descriptions can stand alone, as well as  be compared to other churches or leaders.

Abusive:  Coerces obedience with power, manipulation, domination and fear.
Healthy:  Leads the flock in his care with a servant’s heart and seeks cooperation and fellowship (Mk.9:35)

Abusive:  Uses the Bible for his own purposes, i.e., to control and dominate the flock.
Healthy:  Uses biblical doctrines in teaching and encourages the flock to do their own personal Bible study and study in groups.

Abusive:  Has rigid or overly-enmeshed boundaries, and the members of the church are closed off from other groups.
Healthy:  Has appropriate boundaries with members of the church.  Doesn’t try to become enmeshed in their lives or cut them off from other Christians.

Abusive:  May be narcissistic and believe that he knows what God thinks and may even see himself as “God’s mouthpiece.”  Authority goes from the top down.
Healthy:  Knows that God works through the Holy Spirit in each believer to give us discernment; accountability goes both ways.

Abusive:  Sees itself as the only “true” church; has black and white thinking - us vs. wrong (the others are wrong).
Healthy:  All those who have accepted the finished work of Christ on the cross, without need for personal performance, are brothers and sisters in the Lord.  There are not “superior” believers; all believers are equally loved by God (Romans 8:1).

Abusive:  Promotes legalism and perfectionism.  This gives the leader ability to control people by their fears of not being saved and going to hell.
HealthyKnows that the Christian is saved by grace through faith and salvation cannot be earned by one’s behavior (Eph. 2:8-9).

Abusive:  Has obsession with discipline in which those who disagree are shunned, censured or expelled from the church.  Leader expects to be obeyed because he has “the mind of Christ.”...  Many sins are tolerated if a person is a loyal tithe-paying member.
Healthy:  If the individual has erred, he confesses the sin and receives forgiveness (1 Jn.1:9).  Believers are not shunned or expelled for disagreements on non essential matters of faith.

Abusive:  Encourages “group think” by using rules and regulations that are constantly repeated, taught and reinforced by church literature, classes and teaching from the pulpit.
Healthy:  Encourages the Bible as truth, does not obsess about rules and regulations, but focuses on helping individuals grow in their relationship with the Lord.

Abusive:  Believes the end justifies any means.  The denomination sponsors community events and public activities without saying who they are in order to gain proselytes.  Immoral or criminal conduct on the part of a leader may be covered up for the sake of “the mission”.... 
Healthy:  If the end that is desired is not consistent with God’s Word, then no means will be acceptable.

Abusive:  Uses end-time events to promote its own eschatology.  Eschatology itself isn’t wrong, but when the leaders use end time teaching to control the flock by promoting fear and anxiety, isolation from other Christians, perfectionistic behavior, uncertainty about salvation and “extra-biblical” teachings, they are in error.  There may be an obsession with calculating the dates, situations or events that predict Jesus’ return...
Healthy:  Teaches that no one knows the time of Jesus’ coming (Mk. 13:32).

Abusive:  Uses insider double-talk with a confusing doctrine.  The group encourages blind acceptance of its opposing teachings and rejection of logic through complex presentations on incomprehensible doctrines.
Healthy:  The Bible is the doctrine upon which teachings are based; other ancillary teaching texts must be consistent with biblical truth.

While some spiritually abusive religions or religious teachers will be guilty of every one of these, most will probably just be guilty of most, or at least several of these descriptions.

If you recognize any of these as applying to a group you are in or a teacher you follow, get out of that group and leave that teacher as quickly as possible.  If you know someone in a group described above as abusive, teach them why they need to leave such a group.  Be discerning with everyone you follow; some can be very subtle and slowly drag you in.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ravi Zacharias

 Ravi Zacharias has long been one of my favorite apologists ever since I first heard him on radio broadcasts while I lived in the Chicago area.   He has always been a solid defender of the faith.

I don’t know what has gotten into Mr. Zacharias, but he is now compromising the faith by praising and otherwise sanctioning false teachers.  Ken Silva, over at Apprising Ministries, has been following a story about Zacharias giving praise to Joyce Meyer and her teachings.  Zacharias has called Meyer, who is a Word of Faith heretic, “a great Bible teacher.”  This is really a very sad situation.

The following links will take you to the various articles posted by Silva as the story was coming out:

Joyce Meyer as “a great teacher,” with Zacharias giving giving her credence on her show.

A reader’s exchange with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and the further tacit support of Meyer.

Other problems with RZIM:

Ordained women ministers, and Ravi calling Henri Nouwen “one of the greatest Christian saints.”
This particular article links to this one excusing the praise of Nouwen.

Ravi praises The Alpha Course and claims God inspired Gumbel in his work with Alpha.

A question is raised as to whether Silva is too hard on Zacharias, and Silva responds.

Here is the crux of the matter: Teachers of the Word are held to be more accountable than the everyday Christian (James 3:1).  As Silva notes, Ravi is not untouchable, nor is any other popular Christian leader/speaker.  In fact, they are in a position to do more damage than anyone else, which is why it is important that they not be giving even tacit approval to false teachers and false teachings.

My hope and prayer is that Ravi will cease promoting these false teachers and expose their teaching instead.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Another Attempt at Relevance

During Christmas Eve service at the Church assembly I attend, we had “special music” with a woman singing Faith Hill’s song, “A Baby Changes Everything.”  I never previously heard this song, and I wish I never had now.  It is just another attempt at relevance in today’s culture.  I was disappointed it was used in our service.

Due to the way the singer performed the song, I had difficulty understanding most of the lyrics.  (I don’t know what it is about our culture nowadays wherein no one seems to enunciate the words in song lyrics.)  But that which I did understand disturbed me.  So today I had a chance to seek the lyrics on the Internet, and what I post below is what I found.

Teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what's to come
A baby changes everything

Not a ring on her hand
All her dreams and all her plans
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

The man she loves she's never touched
How will she keep his trust?
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

And she cries!
Ooh, she cries
Ooh, oh

She has to leave, go far away
Heaven knows she can't stay
A baby changes everything

She can feel it's coming soon
There's no place, there's no room
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything

And she cries!
And she cries!
Oh, she cries

Shepherds all gather 'round
Up above the star shines down
A baby changes everything

Choir of angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
A baby changes everything
A baby changes everything
Everything, everything, everything


My whole life has turned around
I was lost but now I'm found
A baby changes everything, yeah
A baby changes everything.

Now, except for the last two verses the song could be about any unwed mother.   But there is a problem with anachronistically placing modern ideas into the culture of the period of Jesus’ birth.

First, the fact that Mary was a “teenage girl” is irrelevant.  She was a young woman, as is every “teenage girl.”  It is only in modern culture where we keep our children as children well into their 20’s.  During Mary’s culture, marrying at 14 was common.  In fact, it was quite common up to a couple hundred years ago, and even after that it wasn’t unusual.  My own mother married at 15.  Mary was already engaged to be married.

Mary was told by an angel that she was going to conceive and have a baby.  Therefore, being a mature young woman, she was not “unprepared for what’s to come.”

“Not a ring on her hand” is anachronistic.  Rings weren’t used.  Of course the listener is meant to understand by this that she wasn’t married and having a baby would change “everything.”  We know nothing of any “dreams” or “plans” of Mary’s other than she was planning on marrying Joseph.  Of course being with child and unmarried was certainly a problem, but Joseph was also contacted by an angel when he thought about divorcing Mary.  We aren’t told in the Bible, but I would assume that both Mary’s and Joseph’s parents would have been filled in with the information about the miraculous conception.  After all, that isn’t something which would have been kept secret from family members who worshipped God.  But what I found especially amusing about this song and its attempt at relevance, is that in today’s culture being an unwed mother is readily accepted without any stigma!

“The man she loves” - do we know she loved him?  She was engaged to him, but in those days many marriages were arranged and romance was not necessarily part of the equation.  And we are never told Mary cried about anything!  She most likely was ecstatic about being chosen to bear the Son of God!

A baby changes every couple’s lives, and that is all this song is saying with its attempt at relevance.  However, it totally leaves out the reason why this particular baby was different from every other baby; if I knew nothing about the gospel, I would think this song was just about a new heir to a throne being born.

In all the efforts to be relevant to today’s society, song writers continue to be touchy-feely in their so-called “Christian” songs.  And everyone is led to feel so emotional about them, without ever once exercising discernment and trying to understand what the lyrics teach.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Are Christ’s Soldiers?

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
(2 Timothy 3:12-13)
Christian Soldiers Standing Up For Jesus?
In many of our local fellowships on a given Sunday we could hear a congregation singing songs like Stand Up Stand Up For Jesus and/or Onward Christian Soldiers. But let’s stop and think for a moment; isn’t part of the job of a soldier defending against attack?
Doesn’t this bring them into conflict; and wouldn’t it mean that they’d have no choice but to fight? So ask yourself: Have I seen much of that going on for the cause of Christ in my lifetime? Which is why I find myself wondering: “Where are the Elijahs of God?” Lord, about now I’d say Your church would be willing to settle for just one.
You know I can’t help but wonder, among our professing Christian brothers and sisters today, just where are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6)? And among our so-called Christian “leaders,” with their compromised Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, which always leads to a false and phony unity; just where are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Matthew 5:10)?
Do they seriously not know that Christ Jesus said of those who do hunger, and of those that are persecuted, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven? Let’s take a moment to go over to 2 Corinthians chapter 11 and verse 4. At this point in this Age of Grace it’ll be a good idea to remind ourselves of something the Bible tells us about false teaching. And this is becoming especially evident in these times of growing apostasy and the so-called “Christian” mysticism that’s now infesting our Lord’s visible church through men like Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.
Truly this is really but a form of gnostic mysticism all over again, which originally resurfaced in the antibiblical monastic traditions of apostate Roman Catholicism; and which, has already been condemned within the pages of Scripture itself! However, secular humanism and the theory of evolution—left virtually undefended by the church visible—gave birth to the relativism now so deeply imbedded in very definitely pagan America.
Continue reading at Apprising Ministries

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dr. David Jeremiah

I began listening to David Jeremiah almost 30 years ago; I would listen to him on the radio while driving to or from work, depending on the time of day (I worked rotating schedules).

I always liked Jeremiah’s teaching, but as I matured in the faith I tended to find his continuous use of anecdotes to be rather dry.  Don’t get me wrong; I think anecdotes are excellent for making points, but I am not fond of sermons which seem to be 80-90% anecdotal.  I like to have more exegetical teachings - I want more meat!

Recently I have read that Dr. Jeremiah has been promoting the contemplative movement, and have been disappointed.   Too many good teachers are jumping on the mystical bandwagon to the detriment of the Church.  Jeremiah has also given credence to the Word of Faith movement by appearing on TBN and even praising heretic Paul Crouch!

I just finished reading a book by Dr. Jeremiah, Living With Confidence In A Chaotic World, which was given to me by a friend.  As usual, it was filled with anecdotes, as is his style.  There was a lot of very good teachings, but the people he cited throughout the book, and other things he promoted, prevents me from passing the book along.  Non-discerning and immature Christians would read this book, and assume if a teacher in it was cited, then he or she must be someone worthy of reading - or listening to.  This is not so!

So, just who are the teachers Jeremiah cites, without any caveats, which are problematic?

1)Philip Yancey.  My evidence against Yancey is an article I wrote a year ago.

2)  Watchman Nee.  Nee is another very mystical teacher, and sometimes his teaching borders on the bizarre (try reading his book series, The Spiritual Man, with its gnostic teachings).  Perhaps one day I’ll even do an article on him.  Meanwhile, read this article by G. Richard Fisher.

3) Henri Nouwen.  Nouwen was a Roman Catholic mystic who endorsed many Eastern practices as well as teaching a form of universalism.  A short article by Lighthouse Trails should be sufficient to demonstrate the problem of citing Nouwen.

4)  Beth Moore.  Moore has been examined many times on this site, and you can select her label to read the various articles I have posted.

5)  Eugene Peterson.  Peterson is also very much involved in mysticism and other New Age teachings.  He’s another one I need to get around to writing about.

Aside from citing these very, very questionable teachers, Jeremiah uses The Message paraphrase “Bible” throughout the book.  This “version” of the Bible is rife with New Age teachings, twisting of Scripture, and many other problems.  Many apologists call it “The Mess,” and rightfully so.  I could link to many articles examining the problems with The Message, but I’ll just link you to this one which also explains more about Eugene Peterson’s beliefs as well as a bit of examining The Message itself.

The last disturbing thing in Jeremiah’s book was his support for Mel Gibson’s Roman Catholic propaganda piece, “The Passion of Christ.”  

I will never again recommend David Jeremiah to anyone.  While he has some great teachings, when he promotes such teachers and teachings as noted above, he can lead weak Christians down the wrong path.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

So many false teachings, so little time.

Christmas has been a traditional day to celebrate the day Christ was born.  Of course we know that most like isn’t the day (although it could be close to when he was conceived), and we know lots of pagan traditions have been added to it, and, yes, Santa is all about materialism and greed.  But MOST true believers only see it as a day to worship the Lord and celebrate the fact that he took on humanity. 

The point is, if a church assembly is going to celebrate Christmas, the purpose should be to worship and honor the Lord Jesus Christ.  Ah, but apostate “seeker-sensitive” types just find it as another venue for entertaining the goats.  I’m sure I’ll be coming across many examples over the next week, but for now I have to tell you about the ones found this week.

First up, Grace Community Church of Shreveport, LA (a UMC assembly): they are offering a “Blue Christmas Service.”  As cited by Christian Research Network, [link gone 6/16/18] KTBS News reported that “The service will allow worshippers to acknowledge feelings of grief, sadness, loss, anxiety or despair in the face what is supposed to be a season of joy, energy, eager anticipation and delight.  The service will also feature blues music, candlelight sermon by Rev. Roger Templeton and options for prayer and counseling.”
Ah, yes, another service focussing on self - worship of self instead of the Lord.

I can hardly wait to see what is on store this coming week.

Christianity Today (or, should I say, “Christianity Astray”?) has given credence to more false teachings by publishing an interview with Mary Neal about her “visit” to heaven.  These books about visits to heaven are selling like hot-cakes, and it seems to be an easy way to make a buck, no matter how unbiblical the claims are.  Make some claims of visiting heaven (or hell) and the apostate “Christian” bookstores will be the first to sell them, and gullible, non-discerning Christians will be the first to buy them.

Hollywood seems to be having a field day with “Christians” who want their day in the spotlight.  First there was the program (The Sisterhood) about pastors’ wives and how they really live (the last I read about it only apostate denominations were represented).  Now we have a show about Preachers’ Daughters,” a supposed “behind-the-scenes look into the lives of teenagers whose fathers are Christian ministers...”  I just want to know what sort of “pastor” would subject his family to this type of Hollywood “reality”?

Another assault on Christian values comes in the form of fashions.  There is now a clothing company, founded by three women, creating provocative attire for Christian girls.  Shouldn’t Christian girls and women be more interested in modest attire instead of being “‘Playful for Jesus”? Of course one of the T-shirt titles plays on the “Jesus is my boyfriend” ideology with a shirt that says, “A Date with JC.”  And of course this fashion trend must be okay because they say God gave them the talents to do this - and they are, after all, part of their church’s worship crew.

Speaking of needing to be in the limelight, Rick Warren had to tell everyone that he counseled Chelsea Clinton on his “The Daniel Plan.”  The plan itself has been the subject of many apologetics ministries who have exposed problems with it.  But aside from the problems of the “Plan” itself, should Christian counselors be broadcasting who comes to see them?

Okay, I need to break for a few moments and head off into cult-land and the Mormon church.  The Mormons in Utah have done much to prevent anyone from doing Christian ministry near their temples or tabernacle; after all, they don’t want anyone exposing their false teachings.  I received a mailing yesterday from Mormonism Research Ministry describing another example of the fear Mormons have for the truth.  “After breaking ground for the temple, Brigham City had passed an ordinance...allowing the city to arbitrarily label as ‘protestors’ any individual or group that distributed literature in their city.”  The article went on to describe the rules required for permits to distribute material whether or not a protest was involved.  The whole point of the law, of course, was to prevent Christians from passing out literature exposing the fraud of Mormonism.  With all the restrictions placed on the MRM missionaries to the Mormons, they ended up getting the ACLU involved and a lawsuit was filed which allowed them to practice their Constitutional freedoms.  The good news about this is that the publicity enabled them to hand out about five times as much literature as normal!  Mormons have never, ever been in favor of free speech.

Janis Hutchinson had an article about a claimed 1886 resurrection appearance of Joseph Smith, which was something I had never heard before.  Very detailed article which demonstrates the claims were fraudulent (like all other LDS claims, of course).  It’s a long article, but the last half has some really good information about Smith and the “translation” of the Book of Mormon, the witnesses, First Vision, etc.  Good primer for those who aren’t familiar with the LDS.

Okay, we can leave cult-land now and look at more weird stuff in the world of supposed Christianity.

I learned this week about a board game which has been out for at least a year without me ever having seen anything about it.  This is surprising because it is Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” game!  Tim Challies has an excellent review of this game, [link gone by 12/16/15] demonstrating the totally un-Christian and un-Biblical nature of it.  I also found an excellent 10-minute video exposing how bad this game is.  Well, coming from Osteen, what can one expect?

I believe I have reported previously about a “stylish” baptism.  What I didn’t know before was that the lady who developed this is Joel Osteen’s sister!  Wretched TV has an excellent video contrasting the frivolous, self-centered “baptism” with a baptism in Russia in which people are serious enough about their faith to be baptized in some extreme and non-stylish conditions.

In the news this week is another “Bible” which promotes homosexuality.  The claim is that it is the first pro-homosexual Bible, but that isn’t true; I reported on the “Gay and Lesbian Bible” five years ago [deleted due to missing link].  This new one is called the “Queen James Bible,” and all it does is “correct” the passages in the KJV to be “gay friendly.”  Lest you think this is satire, Apprising Ministries has demonstrated that this is a serious assault on the Word of God.

Can you imagine the impact the Church would have for Christ if they spent more time teaching the Word of God and less time entertaining the goats while trying to be “relevant” with the world?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"God Day"?!?

I’m sure you will all be excited to know that today is “God Day.”  No?  Well, neither am I.  (If you responded, “yes,” then you have been greatly deceived.)

The Associates of the New Apostolic Reformation have declared today as “God Day,” which they say is a “day like no other.”  They are gathering in Orlando today to help start “mass deliverance and salvation” worldwide.  I discovered this activity through one of my daily news updates, which linked me to an article at a Christian Post website.

According to the CP article, the NAR website said, “A sound will be released that will awaken a city to awaken nations.  This sound of awakening shall go forth and an army of awakening shall arise in kingdom government and demonstration.  Supernatural signs, wonders and miracles shall continually increase.  Mass deliverance and salvation will break out in cities and regions.  Places that were once dead in sin will spring forth in revival.  News networks will report locally and globally about this phenomenon.  Those who embrace this move will experience economic turnarounds.”

All this nonsense began because an Orlando “minister” claimed he had an “encounter with the Lord in 1999 to move to Orlando and raise up an army to bring ‘God Day’ to Orlando.”

The NAR is one of the most aberrational groups to have come down the pike while still claiming to be evangelical Christians.  C. Peter Wagner, of unbiblical “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare” fame, is credited with founding the NAR.  The NAR is a dominionist group, claiming to have apostles and prophets for bringing God’s kingdom on earth.

Firstly, I’m pretty sure I remember Jesus saying that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36).  Secondly, these new prophets have yet to provide any prophecies which have come to pass, and some of this group have actually claimed that modern prophecies don’t always have to come true (find THAT in Scripture, please).  

Thirdly, the Bible gives many qualifications for the office of apostle, and one of the main qualifications was to have seen the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 9:1), while other qualifications were to have been personally taught by Him (Lk 24:45; Jn 14:26; Jn 16: 13-14; Jn 17:7-8, 14, 26; Acts 1:2; 1 Cor. 15:3; Gal.1:11-12; 1 Jn 1:5), and be divinely inspired (1 Cor. 2:10-13; 1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Thes.2:13; 1 Tim. 1:11; 1 Jn. 4:6).  They were confirmed by the many REAL signs and wonders they were able to provide.  Since none of these so-called NAR “apostles” meet any of these qualifications, we can readily dismiss them as false apostles.

Lastly, Ephesians 2:20 says that the Church was built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, meaning there can be none today without building a new foundation!  

As with all their other claims, these latest ones will be shown to be more false prophecies, proving once again that this group does not have God’s blessing in any manner.

Anyone can surf the Internet to study from multitudes of apologetics ministries and solid Bible teachers and learn just how aberrational and unbiblical this group is.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Did They Really Say That?!?

“The belief that material bodies return to dust, hereafter to rise up as spiritual bodies with material sensations and desires, is incorrect.”
Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.73

“...for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Genesis 3:19

“Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.”  Matthew 28:9
“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.”  Luke 24:30
“He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet.  It is I myself!  Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.’”  Luke 24:38,38
“They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.”  Luke 24:42,43
“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them...John 20:19
“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.”  John 20:27

“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorified body.”  Philippians 3:20-21

The Bible says that we will return to dust, and practical experience shows that all who die turn to dust in the grave.

Christ had a spiritual body after His resurrection, and yet he could touch things and be touched, appear materially in a locked room, and eat food.  And he ascended into heaven.

The Bible continually states that there will be a resurrection of all the dead, some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation.  Paul said that Christ will transform our bodies to be like His glorified body.

So, according to Scripture, the belief that our bodies will turn to dust and then resurrect as spiritual bodies with full sensations, is a foundational truth.  That means Mary Baker Eddy has once again been proven to be a false teacher.