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.

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.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

Time for another round of things that should scare - and sadden - a discerning Christian; things which people need to be alerted to stay away from.

Let’s start with The Alpha Course.  As noted in previous blogs, this is a spiritually-dangerous course.  Not only did it originate from someone with aberrational ideas, but it is also extremely ecumenical and brings in lots of Roman Catholic teachings.  There is just so much wrong with this course that it has taken books to examine it all.  One of the best sites for good summation articles is Erin Benziger’s “Do Not Be Surprised...

Apprising Ministries has also previously posted articles exposing the nature of The Alpha Course, and last week posted an excellent one examining six important points where this course is problematic.

What is shocking about The Alpha Course is that, while making a strong comeback, it is being promoted by too many well-known church leaders.  In my last “Random” post I noted that John Piper, and Moody Radio’s Janet Parshall were both speaking approvingly of the course.  Rick Warren has now joined the band-wagon, claiming that God began a movement with The Alpha Course, and that it was inspired by the Holy Spirit”!  I hate to burst Warren’s apostate bubble, but God would never start a movement which teaches apostasy and other false teachings, nor would the Holy Spirit inspire it.  Just another reason Warren should not be trusted as a Christian teacher.

Apprising Ministries was good enough this past week to post an older article from another site examining some issues surrounding The Alpha Course, and whether or not we should be judging its content.  This link will go to the original article.

Moving right along, Rick Warren is not only promoting Alpha but he is now regretting making the video supporting real marriage during the 2008 Proposition 8 in California.  Putting this together with a comment he recently made during an interview when he stated that homosexual behavior “might be” a sin, one has to wonder what his particular teachings about homosexuality will now be.

I’m not done with Rick Warren yet (one could write a very large book about the false teachings of Warren).  I previously briefly mentioned his new PDL anniversary version as being as bad - if not worse - than the original; this week Lighthouse Trails Research ministry posted a special report which should be reviewed by everyone interested in the whole PDL issue.  The book is still unbiblical.

Although the fundamentalist LDS groups who practice polygamy are ostracized by the Utah church, in regards to polygamy the FLDS actually follows the teachings of Joseph Smith better than does the LDS.  Greg Kouki makes an excellent point comparing the Mormons desire for clear distinction between them and the FLDS, and Christians’ desire for clear distinction between us and the LDS.

Remember Christine Caine, mentioned in previous posts as being a false teacher?  Well she is again reminding us that her “spiritual mother” is none other than Word of Faith heretic Joyce Meyer.  Anyone with a heretic as a “spiritual parent” should not be teaching the Word of God.

Christine Caine’s association with heretics and other false teachers is becoming a very common occurrence.  It seems another of her favorites is Sheryl Brady, another WOF “pastor” who was installed in her office by WOF heretic and modalist T.D. Jakes.  In this article by Apprising Ministries, you can see the connections between all these false teachers with so many other WOF fakes.  None of these people have a clue about what the Bible really teaches.

And of course there is Rod Parsley, with his “prayer cloths.”  But guess who is chummy with this WOF heretic?  Steven Furtick!  There is no shame with these new “superstar” emergent and seeker-sensitive leaders; take a look at the latest from Ed Young, Jr.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

More Worship Songs Compared

I’ve been following the comment string on a blog post about problems at IHOP - that bastion of aberrant and false teaching and false prophets (referred to in my last “Random Apostasies and Heresies” post). Someone posted the lyrics to two “worship” songs by Misty Edwards, who was identified as “IHOP’s supreme musician,” and, while reading them, I was just shaking my head at what was passing for “Christian” songs.

I was going to write a post about these two songs, but while singing in church today my mind was immediately drawn to the difference between what we were singing and what Misty Edwards promotes. It was such a stark contrast that I felt the need to compare them.

Now, be aware that I am only posting lyrics that I copied from the other site, and am trusting accuracy to the person posting them there. I also must note that the poster said that these lyrics are “taken from” the whole songs, while he was demonstrating a problem.

“I will waste my life” 

For I am in love with you,
and there is no cost.
I am in love with you,
and there is no loss.
I am in love with you,
I want to take your name.
I am in love with you,
I want to cling to you, Jesus,
Just let me cling to you, Jesus.
I say goodbye to my father, my mother,
I turn my back on every other lover, and I
Press on, yes I press on.
I say goodbye to my father, my mother,
I turn my back on every other lover, and I press on, yes I press on.
“What Only You can Do”

I’ll take Your Word in my hand
And then I’ll give You time
To come and melt me
I can’t even love You unless You call my name
I can’t even worship unless You anoint my heart, God
I can’t even want You unless You want me first
Come fan the flame, oh
Come fan the flame, yeah

The first song sounds like something one would sing to a boyfriend, i.e, “I want to take your name” would be saying she wants to marry him. At any rate both these are “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, treating Jesus as if he were a lover rather than Lord and God.

Now, let’s look at the song we were singing when I thought about the contrast. The lyrics are from the 4th century - you know, before Roman Catholicism corrupted things. The tune itself is from the 13th century.

“Of the Father’s Love Begotten”

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the Ending He
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heav’n, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Pow’rs, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King;
Let no tongue on earth be silent;
Every voice in concert ring,
Evermore and evermore.

Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore
I think it should go without saying that the songs from IHOP are not even useful for private devotion, let alone in the assembly, while the last song is useful for both.

And that is a problem with much of what passes for “Christian” music nowadays. I realize some of the “old” stuff is problematic, but if I were to hazard a guess I’d say 90% of the older songs are good while 90% of the newer ones are not! While most of the older songs were focused on the Lord, the majority of today’s songs are focused on self - and way too many of them are of the “Jesus is my boyfriend” variety!

I really, truly wish Christians would be more discerning as to the music they choose, especially those in leadership positions! Filling our heads with garbage does nothing to foster the worship of God.