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polluted-river

Early this morning  three things entered my mind when I recounted the religious deception that had occurred in my own life.

1. I had listened to the lies of Satan.

2. When I knew the truth I repented and turned away from the spiritual pride of thinking of myself  as “special”.

3.  I had to warn others of the spiritual deception of “christian divination”, which in truth is witchcraft or fortune-telling.

Moments later I came across these two posts.

Adrift in the River of God

 I  don’t recall exactly how it started or when the decisive moment was. I do not know how I got to the point of being so deeply entrenched in apostasy and deception. I can not definitively point to one moment and declare that that is when the deception began and my destructive course was charted. I simply don’t know. What I do know is that I was convinced. I was convinced of my being on the right path. I was one of God’s chosen, His elite, His enlightened ones.  “Get into the River” was our mantra and our manifesto.   In my home church they called us the River People, and I was hopelessly immersed. Those that loved me enough had tried to warn me.  However, I did not want to listen to those I perceived as being beneath me spiritually.  They simply did not understand the river’s flow, I reasoned.  No, I wanted nothing to do with their life-vests; I was happy being adrift.
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Full story of Part One read HERE

Adrift in the River of God- Part Two

 After my first summer at Morningstar I enrolled in their ministry school. As Joyner was quick to point out, it was not a Bible school per se. The emphasis was on prophesy, dreams, visions, and the supernatural.  We were being trained for the coming harvest and what Joyner referred to as the coming civil war in the church. He was quick to tell us that we represented the blues. Like the ocean and the sky, blue stood for revelation and expanse, spiritual enlightenment, and openness of spirit.   
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We were special, a new breed. We were Joel’s army who would go forth victoriously to build the kingdom of heaven on earth. 
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……..Did I have a gift? Was this gift truly from God? If this gift was from God, was this the way He wanted me to use it? What if the gift was not from God? What if I had been engaging in soul reading or fortune telling?  I believed in the gifts of the Spirit but something suddenly felt very wrong. 
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Full story of Part Two read HERE
Part Three to follow
Mishel has given permission to cut and paste his articles as long as credit is given to Deception Bytes.
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Leaving Lakeland – A Firsthand Account

I found this article written by Mike Kirkland posted on:  http://www.darinhufford.com/article.php?id=19.  Mike went to Lakeland to get a firsthand account of what was going down.  I am posting this article for it’s very humorous, but more importantly I am posting this because it’s also a very sad article, in that it shows us what really happens at Todd Bentley’s revivals – that those who desperately need healing, leave the same way they came!

** Please note that I have edited some of the language. I understand that Mike is angry, but, there are other words we can use to express our anger.

Leaving Lakeland

by Mike Kirkland

The three o’clock traffic in downtown Lakeland wasn’t bad. I decided to ride by Lake Mirror since it was such a beautiful afternoon. The sun warmed the gentle breeze as it blew across the water where Blinky the one eyed alligator once lived and enjoyed celebrity status in the downtown area. Somewhere around here is the site of the old building where my grandmother worked. She was the first female manager in the Kress department store chain and I spent many a day hanging out here, looking for Blinky, and watching the people come and go.

This is my past. This is where I grew up. Though I have fond memories of Lakeland I also carry the scars of bad choices and negative influence. I was kicked out of Jr. High for drug possession and had been enticed into other small-time criminal activity along the way. There was good here and I had plenty of wonderful experiences; but the bad seemed to overshadow the beneficial and my parents had to make a decision for me. Leaving Lakeland changed the course of my life forever and it was difficult for me. I was fifteen and this place helped form my personality, it was my identity and my home. I didn’t like leaving and it felt like I was ripped from the only turf that provided me both trouble and a sense of belonging. Though it was a difficult transition and the pain of the change would take years to fully heal, the end result would prove life changing.

At four o’clock we decided we better hurry to the Lakeland Center so we could sit outside and wait! We wanted to make sure we got good seats and we were sure we’d be there early enough to make that happen. Mandy, the lovely but tenacious (and sometimes smug) voice of our GPS, guided us directly into the parking lot where we were elated to see that there was no charge.

It had only been a few weeks since we’d heard of Todd Bentley, and only then because of a message board post talking up a healing revival. “This guy is the real deal” they said, which made my skeptical skin crawl. I’m no stranger to this stuff having spent nearly 15 years involved in Christian worship ministry at various levels; but my perspective has changed quite a bit and having fallen off a few, I’m not so quick to jump on any wagons. But when the opportunity presented itself for me to actually see this revival first hand I had to take it.

Todd Bentley is a healing evangelist holding revival crusades all over the world. His quick rise to fame is all but miraculous, and the fact that he has garnered the support of heavy hitters like Bob Jones, Bobby Conner, Paul Cain, Rick Joyner and others, tips the scales of his charisma-cred. They’re calling it the “thing” they’ve been waiting for, the next big move of God, “this is it!” Of course, the fact that Bentley has taken full advantage of the internet to “spread the word” of his crusade instantly should be seen as no small factor in the success of the movement. One thing is for sure, whether it’s God or Google, Bentley’s Fresh Fire is catching on like… well, somethings hot.

The Lakeland Center is a fairly large venue with ample parking and open spaces. There were lots of cars in the lot but maybe a hundred or so people outside lined up at the various entrances. I noticed the handicapped spaces were filling up as well. We walked up a ramp and stopped at the first set of glass doors. There were about twenty people positioned strategically and ready to move at the first sign of the unlocking. The people seemed nice and they smiled friendly smiles welcoming us into line as the newbies. We wouldn’t be there long before we too would turn, smile, and try to make the rookies more comfortable.

Earlier in the day I told a friend that I planned on interviewing as many people as possible while waiting in line. But that proved more difficult than I imagined. What would the people think? I refused to lie about my skepticism and I certainly didn’t believe any of the hype about Bentley. But would I come across as a self-righteous ass by admitting it? Would I cause them to lose the happy feeling they seemed to be enjoying right now? I couldn’t do it. Maybe I’m a coward, but I didn’t feel good about it. So we decided to listen in on some conversations instead. We considered it eavesdropping for truth.

To our left were four middle aged ladies discussing the revival. “People have been hungry for God” said the lady with red and gray highlights. “Yes. People will crawl over one another to get to God!” said another woman. We would soon find out that she was the prophet of the group. One of the other women talked about being so overtaken with the “spirit” that she couldn’t stand up and she doesn’t remember how she drove home. I couldn’t help but wonder if God would really put lives in danger that way or was she simply embellishing? Or hell, maybe God has a special angel that helps people when they’re DWS (driving while spiritual).

Todd Bentley certainly believes in angels. In fact, he works with them all the time. One angel in particular is named Emma. She is a “mothering angel” who also made appearances to Bob Jones. Bentley says Emma put gold dust on people during one meeting which subsequently helped him bring in “thousands and thousands” of dollars. But why wouldn’t Bentley see angels? It seems perfectly natural since he also makes trips to heaven to visit the apostle Paul who lives in a cabin there. Oh, and by the way, all of you scholars who are debating over who actually wrote the book of Hebrews, Bentley said Paul claims that he co-authored the book with none other than the patriarch, Abraham. Personally, I think Paul is lying.

Two Hispanic fellows stand at the front of the line, all smiles, talking with the elderly couple and young man behind them. Three younger guys stand to our left talking smack like young guys do. One, with long stringy hair, black-rimmed glasses, shorts and flip-flops, mixed spiritual topics with various quips. His partner, dressed in all black, metrosexual, with what appeared to be fake glasses (which seemed a bit ironic at a healing revival), laughed as if on cue. My wife and I stood patiently looking, listening, but apparently not looking right in front of us because the three young guys decided to squeeze their way into our spot. I mean, they moved in front of us when we weren’t looking… praise Jesus, “on thy feet, lose thy seat”, so to speak.

Up at the front of the line I overheard the Hispanic guy explain to the elderly couple and young man about a gold tooth that appeared in “one guy’s” mouth after one of the meetings. I never understood why God, the creator of the universe would take the time to do that. And then I wondered if God would give me gold fronts like Flavor Flav, cause that would just be cool. They talked of expectations and being ready to receive whatever God had to offer. The vibe outside the venue was definitely that of expectation. I looked over at the other entrances and all over the place people were praying for each other and some were beginning to get what I call “the Cocker Shuffel”. Out of the blue they would break into Joe Cocker like movements; kind of like Tourette’s but with rhythm and the added convenience of being able to turn it off at will.

As I stood in line I began to wax nostalgic about my past. This was the town where I got saved. It was in a little place called Crystal Lake Church of the Nazarene. Sure, it was after watching a movie called “A Thief in the Night” which totally scared the shit out of me, but still, I have fond memories of that place and the people there. That’s also where I discovered I had a talent for singing and first felt “called” to somehow do that for God. I also wondered whether or not the pastor’s daughter remembers me but was jolted back to reality by my wife pointing out the fact that the four ladies had also cut in front of us. I really need to pay more attention.

Just then a hulking security guard, and by hulking I mean if the Hulk were played by Peter Griffin from The Family Guy, opened the door and the crowd surged forward. Only one door was opened. In other words, three lines of people were funneled through one door. I was quickly reminded of the earlier prophesy regarding people crawling over each other to get to God and just then three more people jumped in front of us. When it was finally my turn to breech the opening I noticed an elderly couple standing slightly to the rear and to the right of me. I saw a look of frustration sweep across their faces as they stood not knowing how to approach the situation. Immediately my years of home-training kicked in and I held the door for the old folks. They seemed appreciative and gave a slight smile as the passed by and moved through the doorway. Then another couple slipped in behind them, and another. I counted nearly 15 people rush past me while I held the door. I finally had to put my hand out toward the crowd and say “whoa! I’m not the door man people!” That created a hole just large enough for my wife and I to scoot through and enter. Once we got in we saw people running toward the corridors and we were once again separated by swarms of pushy people. Though we were very early, we weren’t ruthless enough to secure floor seating. That was left to the truly spiritual, the battle-ready, hard chargers for Jesus. We wound up second tier, stage left. But that’s okay.

A nice lady sat beside us. She was middle aged, seemed a bit stern, kind of like a librarian, one that wasn’t afraid to tell you to “shut the hell up!” She asked the typical questions: “where are you from?” and made the standard statements: “this is going to be good” etc. Turns out, she had driven twenty-two hours straight to attend a few days of the revival. She wanted to bring the “FireTM” back home to her church. She told us of how she’d been to previous “outpourings” such as Toronto and Brownsville. She asked how we liked it so far and I couldn’t help but mention our recent adventure traversing the God-Gauntlet in the lobby. She wasn’t amused but decided to relay a story about last night’s prayer time. She said that Bentley asked how many in the service were senior pastors and about a hundred raised their hands. He then said for the senior pastors and ONLY the senior pastors to come down front to receive prayer. But instead, almost a thousand people got up and rushed down front. I felt a bit of indignation come over me and I said: “wait, did Bentley stop everyone and rebuke the spirit of LYING!?!! If he didn’t, WHY NOT?” “Why are Christians such selfish jerks?” “If I would have known that’s how God rolls, I would have brought football pads and numchucks to secure my personal blessing!” I continued. I could tell I made her uncomfortable so I let my lovely and way more tactful wife talk with the nice lady while I decided to go get some food at the concession stand.

During my absence the lady recounted a story Bentley told regarding yet another angelic encounter. The angel came to him in a dream but didn’t give his name. It turns out that Bob Jones already knew about that angel and said that his name was “winds-of-change”, which, obviously suggested that Bentley was a new kind of revivalist or something (further establishing his charisma-cred). My wife said that Bentley must have channeled an Indian angel with a name like that. I said, yeah, well there was demon in the men’s room named “hey-light-a-match”. You couldn’t see him, but you knew he was there, oh yeah, he was definitely there!

I ordered two nachos, two red-bull’s and a snickers. It was $20! I made the lady at the counter tell me she loves me before I paid her. She asked why but then almost as quickly said: “Ohhhh I get it, I love you man”. When I got back I think the librarian lady had decided that we were just going to bring her down so she changed seats. It was just as well, the music was starting.

The band wasn’t bad. By the end of the first song they had most of the technical bugs worked out and even with our bad seats and poor acoustics, I liked them. But then again, I tend to cut worship bands a lot of slack. They played a song that my worship team used to play and my mind began drifting back a few years. I remembered how good it felt to cut loose and express deep seated emotions through music. I remembered the synergy shared between team members each expressing their individual creativity held together by the laws of rhythm, timing and tone. As a worship leader, my style leaned toward the “prophetic” and back then I was known for being spontaneous and spirit led. Today I’m known as a skeptic. I’m not sure when the transition began, but on some level I think I understand this stuff more deeply and better than ever before.

Part II

“I want to change”, “fill me”, “wash me”, “set me on fire.” This was the mantra shouted by the emcee, then repeated by the crowd, over and over, prior to the live feed television broadcast. The people were being hyped up and primed for the cameras. Prayers and more prayers, with lots of shouting preceded the program. This is a healing revival and according to them, it requires activating faith. “You have to expect it” stated the emcee. And the people definitely expected something.

I began my interest in stage magic and hypnotism several years ago after seeing a show in a local bar. Though I never actually engaged in the art, I studied the techniques intently and greatly enjoyed trying to figure out various tricks and illusions. One particular interest was the power of suggestion and how it relates to everyday life, especially in advertising and later in Charismatic meetings. Few people realize that hypnosis is completely voluntary and only works on willing subjects. Trickshop.com put out a book called “Mastering Hypnosis”. In it, they define hypnosis as:

“…an altered state of consciousness characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion. Under hypnosis, suggestions bypass the critical faculties of normal consciousness and directly enter the subconscious mind where, if accepted, they are acted upon. The deeper the level of hypnosis, the greater the subject’s suggestibility.”

“This entire process is based upon the fact that while our conscious thought processes produce inductive reasoning, our subconscious uses only deductive reasoning. Once a suggestion is accepted by the subconscious, it is automatically transformed into reality. It does not matter if the suggestion originates from an internal source (i.e. self hypnosis) or an external one (the operator). Indeed, the distinction between autosuggestion and heterosuggestion is considered to be both arbitrary and superficial.”

The speaker approached the stage with a serious look and a nervous twitch that apparently told the audience that he was about to say something important. “Seventy-five percent of what happens here is due to hunger” he said. “Are you hungry tonight?” The crowd responded loud and long; of course they’re hungry, that’s why they’re here! After several minutes and more such comments the band cranked back up.

The music was carefully selected to create an atmosphere of surrender and expectation. I’m no stranger to this sort of manipulation, but I’m not going to say it’s necessarily a bad thing either. Maybe I’m just defending the art since I’m a musician but before you stop reading, at least here me out. I would say that all music is or can be a form of meditation. At least it helps one experience a meditative state. These type worship songs are a merging of music and message which allows one to accept the suggestion and experience it emotionally. What’s wrong with that, as long as the suggestion is positive? All music does that to some degree and that’s why I still listen to Christian radio. At least I am meditating on pleasant things for the most part and not subjecting my subconscious mind to accept the rubbish produced by the various other artists such as Brad Paisley “checking his girl for ticks”, or Juvenile’s infamous “Back that a** up”. No thanks, I’ll stick to the positive message found in Christian music whether or not I describe myself as one or not. In doing so I’m making a logical and informed decision on what I allow to influence my mind. The trick is learning when and how to turn it on and off. For a brief moment, I allowed myself to relax into the music, but that would quickly change.

The speaker once again took the stage and began telling an Old Testament story where Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ arms so that Joshua could defeat the Amalekites. He then told the crowd that they too could be like Aaron and Hur and undergird Todd Bentley by becoming a, you guessed it, “ministry partner” to financially support the revival crusade. This classic bait and switch was a bit too blatant for me. I almost called b**s** but just then they asked for twelve more volunteers to help with the offering. “Meet at the bottom of the platform, stage right” said the emcee. I immediately leapt to my feet and didn’t even have time to tell my wife where I was going; she knew. It was all the way across the arena so I sprinted down the steps, nearly busting my butt on the sticky soda stained floor but I made it to ground level in tact. Others were running too, and they beat me. I showed up at the corner, out of breath and attempting to speak. “I’m… here… to volunteer” I said but was too late. The younger, more agile guys (with football pads and numchucks) made the cut and I was turned away.

On my way back to my seat I decided to get the lay of the land. To check out the people and see if I could get a better feel for the type of crowd that was present. As I made my way around the floor seats I noticed several wheel chaired individuals, people with various infirmities and some with obvious deformities. Some were old; some were young; like this one little girl with dark hair and angelic smile. Her legs had not formed properly and they hung from the wheelchair motionless but most notable thing about her was the way she brightened up the space around her with her presence. I walked by an old man, slumped over in his chair barely moving. It looked as if he’d had a stroke or something, his wife stood behind him dutifully with rays of hope beaming from her eyes as she looked around expectantly. I saw another man walk by and I caught myself do a double-take as I noticed a large tumor protruding from the right side of his face causing his right eye, nose, and part of his mouth to be distorted by the intrusive mass. As I continued to walk, I noticed more and more chairs and people, all in some need of physical healing, all with the same gleam of hope and air of expectancy. By the time I made it back to my seat I was emotionally exhausted. My little comedic adventure of trying to volunteer was overshadowed by the notable suffering of the individuals I passed.

The emcee took the stage and delivered a monologue which I would describe as a Bentley promo. He told a story of how a group of ministers recently said that whenever Bentley came in the room, they could feel the presence of God and that they would often drop to the floor (in typical charismatic type fashion I suppose). My ears perked up at this because I felt he was laying the groundwork for what was to come later. He was literally and blatantly implanting suggestions. I predicted (not prophetically) that Bentley would use these suggestions later to create the desired effect so I quickly jotted down notes. I put myself in Bentley’s shoes and tried to read the crowd. They were not that difficult to read, it was like they were holding up a neon sign that read: “we’ll believe whatever you tell us, but just tell us SOMETHING!” And tell them he did.

A Successful hypnotic induction relies mainly on acceptance by the subconscious mind of the target. “Even under hypnosis this acceptance is not always automatic but rather relies on proper timing, repetition, and delivery. Timing is the single most important element in presenting a suggestion” says the book Mastering Hypnosis. “Always begin by suggesting what will happen, and gradually work up to reinforcing what has happened”. Bentley’s crew did a wonderful job of doing just that. They certainly don’t call it that, they call it activating faith. But the entire evening, prior to Bentley’s first appearance, has been spent on priming the pump and implanting suggestions. “Think of repetition” says the book, “as the glue that binds your timing together. It helps to ensure you maintain proper timing with regard to your suggestions. In addition, the persuasive power of suggestion tends to be cumulative in effect.” The music, the prayers, the cheering, the repetitive and monotonous nature of the songs, growing in intensity, all culminate in one thing; the arrival of the main speaker.

I see Bentley sitting on the sidelines reading a magazine. No doubt it is the Charisma Magazine article which just today published their take on the event. I thought he was about to take center stage but another man walked to the podium and asked the crowd if they were ready for testimonials. It may seem pretty innocuous to ask that question, and the guy probably didn’t mean anything by it, but it is significant nonetheless. They were responding on cue and willing to be led. He began by reading a testimonial he received via email. A man was flying into the Lakeland airport and saw an angel outside the plane. My mind immediately raced to the Twighlight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 feet” where a creature devoured the wing of the plane right in front of a passenger who subsequently went nuts. Even though this guy’s angel didn’t do anything as cool as that, I listened intently. He said the angel looked in the plane at him as if wondering to himself, “why are you in a plane?” I thought that must have been a really dumb angel. Then the man said that he looked ahead and saw thousands and thousands of angels spiraling into the city of Lakeland to attend Bentley’s event. Wow. That sounds pretty cool and the crowd seemed to enjoy it as well. I’m sure there were more skeptics at the event, but everywhere I looked I saw nodding heads. The man read other testimonials claiming various healings and such but what struck me was that there didn’t seem to be any verification process, they simply took their word for it.

As Bentley approached the podium the crowd began cheering. He’s a lot shorter than I imagined and pale, the man is very pale. Tattoos cover most of his arms, hands, and neck and his face is pierced with several metal studs. His appearance is certainly atypical and stands out from his peers. That’s about the only thing that stands apart from them though. His voice, his mannerisms, and his style all seem to mimic those who have gone before and you can definitely detect a Kathryn Kulhman-esque quality in his performance. He didn’t preach, and I’m not sure he even had a message. But he did have a point and it came through loud and clear. Todd Bentley is the next big thing. He droned on for a long time, dropping names of the charismatic superstars like John Wimber, Paul Cain, and Bobby Conner showing how they all approved of Bentley. He spoke of their long-time prophecies that called for a big revival and proceeded to insert himself as the fulfillment of that prophecy. And why shouldn’t he? Bob Jones sat directly behind him nodding in approval.

At first I was confused as to why he was pumping himself up like that but it soon became clear. It wasn’t because of healing, it was because of support. He wanted people to give to his ministry, become a “ministry partner” and help spread the word. He told stories of spreading the FreshFire revival worldwide and that even Arab countries are opening the airwaves to his ministry. He claimed that a group of Arabs attempted to hop a plane and come to Lakeland but that day terrorists shut down the Beirut airport so they called Bentley on his cell phone telling him of their predicament. I wonder how they got his cell phone number? I’m calling b**s** on that one.

Bentley went on and actually made a theological point. He claimed that God was in heaven, and that he couldn’t come down unless we tore open a hole so that he could come through. And if we tore a little hole, we would get a little bit of God, but if we tore a big hole, we would see more of his presence. It doesn’t matter that this statement has absolutely no basis in fact, reality, or even biblical theology; he said it and that’s all that matters. The people responded with cheers; maybe they were attempting to let God out of his cloudy prison, I don’t know. But the wording here is important. Bentley suggested to the crowd that they were responsible for how much of “God” they would receive. The ball was now in their court and he garnered himself a bit of plausible deniability. If nothing significant happened, then he could blame it on the small hole, if something cool happened, then all they would remember is the name Todd Bentley and that cool thing. It’s a win-win for him.

Part III

One thing I noticed about the crowd is that they all seemed to be long-time Christians of the charismatic line. Those I talked to and listened to throughout the evening had all been to several of these type events and seem to speak the same language.

My wife confided in me that when she was sixteen she attended an event with Eastman Curtis as the key-note speaker. It was a camp that lasted several days and during that time they tried their hand at the healing aspect of ministry. Several of the teens were encouraged to receive prayer for all sorts of ailments and sure enough, my wife had one that necessitated urgent and immediate prayer. Some of the girls noticed that her right ankle turned in a bit and they talked her into being the center of a prayer circle where God would be invoked to heal her ankle. She reluctantly agreed and entered the circle. Now her ankle isn’t deformed it simply rolls inward after standing for any length of time, but those folks were desperate for a restorative miracle (one where God actually fixes a physical problem). After several minutes of prayer and touching the affected body part, they asked her to stand. When she stood up her ankle was completely and utterly straight. It looked absolutely perfect. The people shouted hallelujah! Praise God! Their faith immediately went through the roof. All the while my wife never told them that this was completely normal for her and that after a few minutes standing, it would roll inward again. She said that she chickened out and allowed them to feel that they had actually done something. To do otherwise would disappoint them she said. I’m not sure it would have mattered, because people tend to only look for whatever confirms their bias and omit the rest. I can’t be too hard on her though, I had a similar experience when one of my legs was shorter than the other!

One of the elders of my church had us over for lunch after services one day. He told me that God gave him the ability to lengthen shortened limbs! I said, well, that’s cool. So he decided that he would show me. I didn’t even know I had one leg shorter than the other but sure enough, whenever he sat me down and held them up, it was true. Holy smokes! Maybe that’s why I always felt I leaned to one side! At any rate he prayed in tongues for a minute or two then said “watch this, here it comes, look, it’s growing, there it goes”… and sure enough, IT WAS! Right before my eyes I saw it grow. At least I said I did and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings because I really liked the guy. Much later I learned how to do the exact same parlor trick, without the praying and speaking in tongues. It’s a simple illusion, nothing more.

Those events led to my eventual skepticism and rejection of the Charismatic movement as a whole. If you want “success at hypnotic suggestion” states the author of Mastering Hypnosis, “You need to get it early and build slowly. With each failure you diminish the suggestibility of the subject.” I think that’s what happened to me combined with my hard-headed nature and analytical personality. Other factors that increase suggestibility include getting people to respond early to suggestion. Voluntary responses increase susceptibility to involuntary responses later on. Non-verbal suggestions such as certain repeated mannerisms, body movements, and breathing all influence the outcome. Mass suggestion is more powerful than individual. People who are in groups tend to lose inhibitions as long as the entire group is going with the flow. By this time it seemed like the entire arena was in Bentley’s grip. They were ready for what he was about to do.

Bentley began telling a story of a recent crusade in Africa. He spoke of creative miracles which are supposedly where God actually restores a body part such as an amputation. He said that these things actually happened at his crusade in Africa. I wondered to myself; why the hell does this only happen in Africa? What is so special about them that they can get documented, verifiable, bonafide miracles and we get healing of hemorrhoids? Of course, those miracles are NOT verified, documented, or proven; they are simply claimed, halfway across the world, where it is nearly impossible to actually investigate. That’s why it only happens in Africa.

Bentley then claimed that after he prayed for a creative miracle, a woman ran up on stage and ripped open her shirt to expose her breasts. He said that the woman had one of her breasts surgically removed due to cancer and that God had given her, apparently, a new set of chi-chis. I kid you not; Bentley said that this miracle was verified by those who knew her. Bentley also talked about a man who came up on stage and said that he had a creative miracle of his own, and pointed to his nether-regions. So Bentley now claims that God restored a man’s penis, which had been previously amputated. He said it, I’m just reporting it.

What I think offended my intellect most was that here Bentley had a great opportunity to actually document and verify a significant and ministry-altering, life-changing and ultimately faith building event, and he doesn’t do it. Instead he offers a theological explanation of why God did it. This again is a classic bait-and-switch! It takes the crowd’s focus off of the reality of the claim and forces it onto why God would do such a thing. Turns out, as Bentley suggests, God was showing him that it was about reproduction. And reproduction incidentally was what Bentley was all about; reproducing his ministry to as many people and places as he could. God was giving his seal of approval by symbolically, and actually, restoring reproductive organs. What more could you ask for? Well, I would ask for proof, but that’s just me.

Bentley then claimed that some 34,000 people came to his revival in Africa and had become Christians there. I would like to know how he accounts for this number since he doesn’t seem too worried about verifying the most exciting miracle since Jesus walked the earth, I’m not sure he can be trusted to show how he arrives at his numbers.

“Get ready!” said Bentley. Then he began calling out creative miracles that God wanted to perform! He used the typical shotgun approach where he called out so many different types of things, he was bound to get it right with some. He said that God was going to remove tumors, heal sexually transmitted diseases, re-grow body parts, heal erectile dysfunction and even re-grow hair. People literally ran down to the front of the auditorium and the front area filled up quickly with at least a thousand people. As I looked out over the crowd, I was amazed at how many people needed a creative miracle in their reproduction organs.

When it came time for healing testimonies; the part of the show where Bentley calls up people who have been healed throughout the service, several people vied for their spot on stage. One-by-one they sifted through and gave their testimony with Bentley ending each with his signature “BAM!” (which he totally ripped from Emeril) and an open handed push to the forehead which sent ninety-nine percent of them to the floor resulting in a quivering pile of mush. Of course, they fell ever so gingerly, never messing up their hair or sustaining a bruise but always falling in someone else’s way. To that I have some advice… If you’re going to protect your head and elbows, why not take the extra second to make sure you’re clear of the aisle? C’mon people!

A few of the testimonies stood out to me, like the woman who claimed she was healed of Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid arthritis. Or the other woman who said her doctor told her she had cysts in her arms but now they were gone. Another woman insisted that she had a golf ball sized tumor in her neck that disappeared instantly. Still another woman claimed that God healed 18 fibroid cysts in her breasts. The only consistent thing in these testimonies is lack of proof. I mean, the man I saw earlier with the large facial tumor, wasn’t among those giving testimonials. Why would God only heal occult symptoms and not obvious deformity? I’m calling b**s**. It may not be these women’s fault either; they were literally hypnotized from the outset. I am quite sure they actually believe they were healed but I am equally sure that an independent physician would not corroborate their claims. I would love to be proven wrong here. That would make me very happy indeed.

A man in a wheelchair with Multiple Sclerosis approached the stage. The staff helped him up and sat him in his chair after he hobbled up the steps. Bentley told him to get up and walk. The man slowly pushed out of his chair and stood. As the man got up he walked toward Bentley and the crowd cheered. But his gait was unsure and his legs weak, typical of MS. He was obviously struggling under the pressure. Bentley told him to remove his back brace and the man did so. It actually made him more unsteady but Bentley told him to walk nonetheless. Again the crowd cheered and Bentley took the opportunity to claim victory for the miracle. But this wasn’t a miracle, it was more likely a simple case of the crowd seeing only what they wanted to see and not questioning the information to the contrary. If the man was actually healed of MS, it would be a significant find. After that Bentley said that there is an anointing for crippled people in wheelchairs to be healed.

In a bold move Bentley called all those in wheelchairs up to the front of the stage. He said he would pray for them to be healed. Faithfully they came and lined up side by side along the front of the arena. But they never got prayed for and they never got healed. Bentley left the stage.

I noticed the older man in the wheelchair leaning forward, his wife still behind him, not smiling nearly as much now, but still hanging in there like a faithful companion. I was very close to them and wanted so much to reach down and take the man by the hand and just hang out with them but as the worship band played the crowd grew densely packed and the woman wheeled her husband slowly back to her seat.

I saw the angelic little girl, still lighting the path with her smile, head back to her seat along with all the other wheelchair faithful. They’re the ones that need the miracle. No amount of suggestion can heal them. Hypnosis cannot create body parts or even restore life to them and these folks are the evidence of that. They are also evidence that Bentley’s healing revival is merely a revival of hype with no actual substance. All of the physically impaired individuals with very real and evident medical problems were not healed. They’re still in their chairs Todd; they’re still in their chairs and you’re p****** me off.

After the cameras were turned off the real show began. Todd took a break and a guy named David Hertzog gave the offeratory. It was an hour long ridiculously lame infomercial about how people need to give more money to the revival. This guy was blatantly over the top. I can’t say enough how much I don’t like this guy. For instance, he said that if you give, you’ll get that many times in blessing. For instance, if you give three times, you’ll get three years blessing and that whether you give or not, you’ll affect the next seven years of your life, good or bad! In other words, if you don’t give money, it’s worse than breaking a mirror people! Holy smokes. Did I mention that I don’t like this guy? He also mentioned that there are angels of finance. He said that he prays to his angel of finance to bring him money from the four corners of the globe. Huh? Dude, this guy is really, really weird. No wonder they waited till the cameras were turned off to feature him.

The rest of the night was more of the same but as fatigue set in the crowd thinned and the rhetoric stopped being as affective. I was tired at this point and just wanted to leave. I forced myself to stay though, and took the opportunity to wander around the arena again. There were lots of people who seemed genuinely moved by the experience. These were self admitted ministers who were there to bring back the “Fire” to their respective towns and cities. There were those who were less elated but still somewhat pleased to be there. These were the truly crippled and I can only wonder what they must be feeling since they left the arena in exactly the same condition as when they came. Was their faith not strong enough? Does God only wish to heal obscure or hidden conditions that cannot be medically verified? Maybe God is too humble or shy and doesn’t want to call attention to himself.

Then it hit me. This revival isn’t about those who actually need healing. It’s about those who think they can be used by God to heal those who need healing. That’s where the revival is, that’s what is spreading like fire. It’s a big ole steaming pile of ego gratifying and emotional marketing without substance. What it is sure to do is fund a huge ministry to perpetuate the same. I predict (not prophesy) that they will bring in tons of cash and I also predict that not one single verifiable healing will take place; one that passes rational inquiry of a qualified medical professional.

This kind of thing will happen as long as people buy into it, lock, stock, and barrel, without subjecting it to the rational mind. As long as people continue to give their wills over to others without thinking for themselves, they will be duped.

As I walked back to my seat I saw a woman frantically running through the arena with a panicked look on her face. As she came near to me I reached out and grabbed her arm and asked “what’s wrong ma’am?” She kept moving but started crying “my baby I can’t find my baby”. I followed behind her a short ways and then her child popped out from behind a table and the woman collapsed in delight. I didn’t really have to help her but what is significant is that no one else bothered to approach her to ask. That seemed to be the capstone of the event for me. People are too spiritually self-absorbed, trying hard to get a personal and supernatural touch from God while overlooking others who could benefit from real and practical aid.

Walking to the car I noticed a young lady being lifted out of her wheelchair into a van. She’s still in the chair Todd and you’re still p****** me off.

It was around one o’clock in the morning and as we left the Lakeland Center we drove around by Lake Mirror then set out to see the old neighborhood and finally by Crystal Lake Church of the Nazarene where I said hello to the old building. It was just as I had remembered it; in fact I don’t think it changed at all, but I certainly had.

As I left Lakeland for the second time I realized that my life was once again changing. I was leaving behind a belief system that helped form my thought processes and shape my personality. I was leaving behind an identity and moving toward a future which would no doubt be full of uncertainties, hard work, and downfalls. But I knew that where I was moving would be better in the long run.

War on the Saints – Lying Spirits

I once read a book in which the author consistently said, “The Lord told me”. This was repeated so often I began to doubt that everything this author said was indeed from the Lord.

I have a reason to question his oft quoted assertion. I too can say “The Lord told me”, ” I heard”, “I sensed.” Come to find out, even though I was aware of lying spirits, I still listened to them, thinking that I could always tell the difference. I was wrong.

Not too long ago I read an e-book from a man who was featured on a blog, The Sign of Jonah. His story was fascinating and it was evident that he thought he truly was in the will of God, but certain aspects of his story began to reveal that he was deceived. He told of how he was always hearing from God. God was being rather specific with this man. Apparently this man went through his day, constantly being directed as to what to wear, what to eat, and when to make a left turn. He saw red dragons on all supposedly “evil” sites that needed to be “taken” for the Lord. It became apparent that this man was totally deceived and was not listening to God but had given his ear over to the lying spirits.

In the book “War of the Saints” it talks of counterfeit guidance.

“As Christ was a pattern or example for His followers, guidance or ‘leading’ in its perfect and true form is shown in His life, and believers can only expect the co-working of the Holy Spirit when they walk after the pattern of their Example. Out of line with the Pattern the cease to have the working of the Holy Spirit, and become open to the deceptive counterfeit workings of evil spirits.”

“If the believer ceases to use mind, reason, will and all his other faculties as a person, and depends upon voices, and impulses for guidance in every detail of life, he will be ‘led’ or guided by evil spirits, feigning to be God.”

“This is the time for which the deceiving spirits have been watching…he (man) is now watching for some other supernatural indication of the way to go, or the course to take….This is the moment of opportunity for a deceiving spirit to gain his faith and confidence: and so some word or words are whispered softly, that are exactly in accordance with the inward drawing that he has had….the soft whisper of the deceiving spirit is so delicate and gentle, that the believer listens to, and receives the words without question, and begins to obey this soft whisper, yielding more and more to it, without any thought of exercising mind, judgment, reason, or volition.”

“From this point deceiving spirits can increase their control, for the believer has begun the listening attitude…until he is always watching for an ‘inner voice,’ or a voice in the ear which is an exact counterfeit of the voice of God in the spirit; and thus the believer moves, and acts as a passive slave to ‘supernatural guidance.'”

ppg. 136-137

When I returned to the Lord some years back, I had a true spiritual awakening. Unfortunately, Satan was not going to give up without a fight. Every time I grew in the Lord, Satan provided opposition. I struggled to divide what was from the Lord and what was counterfeit.

God was so good to show me these things and to teach me through the Holy Spirit. All through this struggle I only wanted the truth and I prayed for answers.

Are you teachable? Do you really want the truth? This may seem like a silly question, but truly it is not, for you may say to yourself…of course I want the truth. Human nature is full of pride and what does pride do to man? It limits him. What does it limit? It limits admission.

Admission of being wrong.

Admission of being fallible.

Admission of weakness.

Admission of being deceived.

Why is this so hard? Losing face. What will others think? When we have been wrong the truth hurts. It pierces our pride, and when we are more concerned with what our fellow man thinks rather than what God thinks….we will fail every time.

It is because of this difficult admission of wrong thinking that we allow Satan to lead us into deception…no matter how many Bible verses we learn. We have to really believe and heed them. God’s Word is powerful if we actually use it and apply it to our lives. God’s Word can be poetic and inspiring but if it is left at that, using it only for its beauty we will forfeit its powerful instruction.

It is this power that keeps us teachable, humble, and open to the truth. Truth opposes lies – Satan’s lies. In these times Satan’s lies are growing more powerful because they cover-up and distort God’s written Word. When we as Christians listen to Satan’s lies, we will begin a journey into deception.

“It requires a very deep allegiance to the truth which God desires should reign in the inward parts of His children, for a believer to accept truth which cuts and humbles, as readily as he accepts that which is agreeable. The ‘undeceiving’ is painful to the feelings, and the discovery that he has been deceived is one of the keenest blows to a man who once thought that he was so ‘advanced,’ so ‘spiritual’ and so ‘infallible,’ in his certainty of obeying the Spirit of God.”

Pg. 181

So why is this deception so compelling, ever-growing, and filtering into the church? This has always been Satan’s plan. He is the deceiver of the whole earth. He is deceiving all into thinking that a new spiritual awakening is coming upon the earth. He is right, you know…there is a spiritual awakening but it has nothing to do with Jesus Christ.

“The world is now drawing nearer to the ‘time of the end,’ characterized by the deception depicted in the Apocalypse as being world-wide; when there will be deceptions of NATIONS, and individuals, on such a vast scale that the deceiver will practically have the whole earth under his control. ‘The whole world lieth in the evil one’ (1 John 19) said the Apostle, to whom was given the Revelation, describing the world as already lying deep in darkness through the deception of the evil one, and blindly led by him through vast evil spirit hosts under his control.”

Pg.10

When Satan was bombarding me with opposition and lies, I listened for awhile, but I always questioned, probed and prayed. Was I deceived? Yes, I was…but I was more interested in the truth, no matter what. If I had never acted on my doubts, who knows…I probably would be posting silly lies and prophecies that would sound just like false prophets, Kim Clement or Chuck Pierce.

I was listening to a tape this morning from a Discernment-Ministries conference I attended last year. Carolyn Schorle spoke of her deliverance from drugs prescribed to her when she was diagnosed as mentally-ill. She was taunted with the voices of demons and she battled her way out with scripture. She told us, read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. When you are done start over.

I beg of you….pray for the truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God.

*************

“Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.”

Daniel 11:35

            holding-hands.jpgholding-hands.jpgholding-hands.jpg
 I am reposting this article by Tamara Hartzell. She has left us to be with the Lord. Her research is painstaking and excellent.
  originally posted February 2008: by Tamara Hartzell
 

  Are You “Being Led Away with the Error of the Wicked” to the New Age Ark of Oneness?

Not too long ago I read through Tamara Hartzell’s In the Name of Purpose: Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity. What an amazing piece of research…. Now I have completed “Being Led Away with the Error of the Wicked” and found it also to be a great article. Tamara tells an interesting story which starts like this.

“As a child growing up in Fresno, my favorite attraction was Roeding Park with its Zoo and Storyland. As its name imples, Storyland is a play area for kids featuring explorative displays and audio recordings of different children’s stories, such as The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, and various others. A Noah’s Ark display has also been included that featured a walk-through Ark made into a Christian Chapel, complete with stained glass windows and pews.
This past spring I had the opportunity to revisit Roeding Park. At first, the Noah’s Ark display appeared unchanged. It still seemed to be the same Christian Chapel. However, as I entered the Ark/Chapel I stood stunned and in disbelief.” [1]

   

Sorry to leave the story hanging but I want you to read this article. I printed it out for my ever-growing collection, but here are some interesting excerpts:
Although humanity intends for its Ark of Oneness to bring the world love, peace, compassion, brotherhood, goodwill, sharing, beauty, justice, virtue, unity, service and elimination of global and planetary problems, humanity is ultimately being driven by the god of this world to a very specific destination (a destination that not every builder and would-be boarder of the Ark is necessarily aware of ahead of time). This Ark of oneness is the ultimate forbidden fruit. It is the no-holds-barred grand finale of the serpent’s seduction of humanity, which he began in the Garden of Eden.” [2]

“The new world and its Emerging One Church (one universal faith in “God” and in humanity) are emerging so rapidly now that it is simply too difficult, it not upright impossible, to keep up with the massive global shift taking place in both the world and today’s professing church.” [3]

“…humanity is becoming a swift learned of the ways and teachings of the New Spirituality and its Emerging One Church. When the time comes, those who are spiritual enough will, as one leave all separateness behind and follow the serpent’s Coming One (the New Age anti-Christ) right into his counterfeit kingdom of God…” [4]

“…a genuinely “Self-centered” humanity will be successfully incited by the dragon and his spirit realm to execute judgment upon all who are ‘guilty’ of the new world’s ‘worst’ hate crime–believing the truth given to us by God in His word.” …..”Yet in the upside-down New Spirituality of this upside-down new world, the ones who are deemed guilty of ‘self-centered’ ‘hate’ are those who lovingly alert others to God’s truth…” [5]

 

A friend from another Christian ministry…told me that 10-15 years ago, he never would have thought that he would live to see the day, that is now quickly approaching. It is extremely difficult at this point to keep up with all the organizations that are promoting unity for peace, love and goodwill of man. While these goals are good in themselves there is an undertow swirling meant to pull mankind down into a new world order. The world will go willingly.

 

We, as Christians, followers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, are not to be of this world. This new spirituality is not about Jesus Christ…it is about the false christs. It is a deception so well-planned that innocent people will be taken-in because they did not know the Word of God. Who are you following? Are you being Led Away with the Error of the Wicked?
I pray that you are not.
[1] page 5
[2] page 13

[3] page 47 [4] page 17 [5] page 19        

the-moses-code.jpg 

The Moses Code Movie Blasphemy and The Big Shift 

Update: Since this article was published, the original movie trailer for the Moses Code was removed without explanation from both YouTube and the MosesCode.com website. They have replaced the original with a different one that does not contain the blasphemous, “I AM” statements referred to in this column. I look forward to their explanation as to why they felt they needed to remove it.  

This article is from http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/3159/Ingrid_Schlueter

A movie will be unveiled on April 5 that should get a prize for honesty in blasphemy. Unlike the emerging church celebrity authors and speakers who shuck and jive when asked direct questions about God, salvation, and truth, The Moses Code is produced by those who will tell you right out what they believe. What they do believe is breathtaking in its Satanic audacity. In the original movie trailer, now removed mysteriously from YouTube and the MosesCode.com site, promoters of The Moses Code cheerfully announce that I AM is something all of us can say. Towards the end of the original clip, one young man looks up and into the camera and tells viewers, I am the way, the truth, and the ‘light’.” The website says the following:

For the first time a major spiritual film release is being combined with a worldwide prayer vigil focused on shifting the planetary consciousness.

Join millions of people from every corner of the globe in learning the most powerful manifestation tool in the history of the world. Then on one momentous day we’ll use the code to promote peace and compassion for all beings through over 1000 gatherings worldwide.

This is the chance for humanity to use the Law of Attraction to create peace on the deepest level.

Coming on the heels of The Secret, the New Spirituality teachers featured in The Moses Code are in hopes that by teaching everyone about the power of declaring themselves God, they can help along the “Shift” in planetary consciousness that everyone is talking about today.

The Shift is the name of another movie under production featuring New Spirituality gurus like Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, alongside leftist environmentalists like Al Gore and religious figures such as Archbishop Desmond TuTu. Their message is the same, as though it was taken from the same script.

“A massive worldwide phenomenon is in progress, offering seeds of great hope for the future…We are in the middle of the biggest social transformation in history, THE SHIFT.”

Working on the Evangelical end of things, emergent author Brian McLaren is also promoting a Big Shift, calling his nationwide tour, The Deep Shift Conference. A heretic who does not believe in hell and who rejects the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, McLaren is taking his Shift Experience to Willow Creek Community Church in April where he will be teaching youth workers and pastors from evangelical churches across the country about how they need to change their ministries to accommodate the Big Shift in thinking.

Emergent authors Phyllis Tickle and Tony Jones are also on board promoting a big spiritual shift. They prefer to call it the “Great Emergence”. Speaking at the Zondervan sponsored National Pastor’s Convention this week, Phyllis and Tony have titled their speech, not surprisingly, “The Great Emergence.” 

What is emerging is another Jesus and another gospel. The Big Shift that all of the New Spirituality gurus are buzzing about marks the advent of the worldwide apostasy that is now upon us. Just as the Lord assigns roles to fulfill in His Church, the enemy assigns roles for his purposes. Over the two decades of researching the New Spirituality teachers and the inroads they have made into evangelical churches, it is evident to me that deception comes in many forms today on many different levels. Whether it is the spiritual bubble gum from Joel Osteen that serves to deceive the shallow masses or whether it’s the quasi-intellectual postmodern poison served up to college students by men like McLaren, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball and so many others, it’s all deception working towards the same end.

It is one thing to identify the counterfeit Christ of Marianne Williamson or the latest New Age author on the Oprah Winfrey Show (Eckhart Tolle is her latest protégé ), but what happens when authors published by the big “Christian” publishers are saying the same things? What happens when our celebrity emerging church leaders are using the same language, calling for the same things, and promoting the same false doctrines that redefine Christ and the Scriptures as the New Spirituality authors?

Compare these two quotes. One is from a popular emerging author and speaker who spoke at a conference with men like Andy Stanley and Rick Warren and regularly rubs shoulders with those in the new Evangelicalism. The other quote is from one of the world’s leading New Spirituality heretics. Can you tell which is which?

Quote 1

“The first of these five untheorized observations is that New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and ‘in-formation’ with other Christians. Deeper feeling and higher relating go together. The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a comm-union whose cells are connected to one another within the information network called the Christ consciousness. New Lights offer up themselves as the cosmions of a mind-of-Christ consciousness. As a cosmion incarnating the cells of a new body, New Lights will function as transitional vessels through which transforming energy can renew the divine image in the world, moving postmoderns from one state of embodiment to another.”

Quote 2

‘Third Jesus’ can be seen only when we move into a new human awareness that will carry us beyond tribe, prejudice and even beyond our religious systems. As a Christian, I welcome his insights into my Jesus and his provocative call to me to enter the ‘Christ Consciousness’ and thus to become more deeply and completely human.”.

The first quote is from emerging author Leonard Sweet who spoke at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, attended by thousands of evangelical leaders from across the nation. It’s from his book, Quantum Spirituality, in which he thanks New Agers Willis Harmon, Matthew Fox and Ken Wilbur, to name a few, for their influence on him.

The second quote is from John Shelby Spong, in a book endorsement for Deepak Chopra’s brand new book, The Third Jesus, which is a brazen introduction of the cosmic Christ of the Big Shift everyone is talking about.

Both authors are talking about the same Christ-consciousness. They are describing the same thing—one from inside of evangelicalism, one from outside. Both popular author Rob Bell and occultist/New Spirituality teacher, Barbara Marx Hubbard, speak of being co-creators with God. Bell tells us in his latest Nooma video, “Open”, that creation is unfinished and that God needs us to be fellow creators with Him to finish the job

.…we have to understand that Jesus took very seriously the creation poem Genesis, that the Bible begins with. And in this creation poem God creates, but God creates things that are capable of creating more, and so God creates trees but then gives trees the ability to create more. God creates animals and plants and fish but then empowers them to create more. And then God creates people, and gives them the ability to create more. So everything in creation is essentially unfinished, God leaves the world unfinished, and invites people to take part in the ongoing creation of the world…

Hubbard’s occult “Christ” in her channeled book, The Revelation, instructs us about our participation as co-creators of the world.

“Those of you who hear these words are to carry on the commandment given to John two thousand years ago. You are not only to prophesy the end, the tribulations, and the New Jerusalem, you are to act it out. You are to discover the blueprint and become co-creators with God. You are to see the first fruits of the NEW BEGINNING.”

Yes, there is a Big Shift underway. The two spheres that were once irreconcilably opposed to one another, (Evangelicalism and New Spirituality) are coming together. The overlap has begun. But millions of evangelical Christians in the pews are distracted. They haven’t researched these issues. They don’t know their Bibles. They accept without question whatever Zondervan or Thomas Nelson put out. They watch the DVD’s their church screens like Rob Bell’s Nooma videos and they don’t catch the language. It is slippery. It is subtle, but the enemy is getting bolder with each passing day. There is a lack of sobriety and vigilance, and now the enemy is walking boldly in the front doors of our churches and Christian colleges.

At bottom, the New Spirituality blasphemers like the producers of  The Moses Code are more honest than the emergents when they state openly that they believe they are the way, the truth and the life. At its core, their message is the same as many within the emerging “conversation”. The Bible is not a product of “Divine fiat”, Rob Bell says, “it’s a human product.” (Christianity Today, 11/1/04) The end result? We become God in our own minds. We can make things up as we go. Where does it all end? Rob Bell ends up promoting doctrines of demons—that we are co-creators with God, or rejecting the existence of hell, or the atonement, like Brian McLaren. That’s where it all ends. When you abandon a high view of Holy Scripture, your rebellion will take you places you never dreamed you would go. At some point, God blinds those who willingly believe a lie. With the full counsel of God in our hands, we are without excuse if we choose to participate in the Big Shift. The Shift is here, but those who serve the risen, ascended and glorified Lord Jesus Christ will stay separate. They will reject the anti-Christ doctrine of “oneness” of the New Spirituality and they will stay faithful at all costs.

“We are discovering Christianity as an Eastern religion as a way of life.”

The Emerging Church -The Latest Heresy By Stephen Holland

steveholland.jpg

Preached on: Sunday, February 10, 2008

Westhoughton Evangelical Church

King Street, Westhoughton

Lancashire, UK BL5 3AX

Online Sermons: http://www.sermonaudio.com/revholland

Now a few year ago I heard a talk given on the Emerging Church and after it went away

and thought, “I haven’t a clue what he was on about.” So I hope after this session that

you will not go away with the same opinion.

If you have not come to hear of it, the chances are you soon will. A search on the internet

search engine Google will bring up no less than 616,000 references to what has come to

be known as Emergent or Emerging Church.

A check to your local Christian bookstore and see you find such titles as A New Kind of

Christian or Vintage Christianity for New Generations or The Forgotten Ways or The

Lost Methods of Jesus or Adventures in Missing the Point, Liquid Church, A Generous

Orthodoxy: More ready than you realize, Finding Faith Post Christendom, Changing

Worlds, Changing Church, Emerging Church, Emerging Churches, emerging-

church.intro. Those were just found on one shelf in one Christian so called bookstore.

There could be added-and will be many more titles added-to the list in the coming

days. Some authors with in the Emerging Church are Brian McLaren, Ralph Bell, Dan

Kimball, Doug Paget, Leonard Sweet, Spencer Burke, Yurgin McMannis, Tommy Collolen, Jason Clock, [?], Richard Foster and Tony Jones. And we could add also to that

people like Tony Campolo and Steve Chalk.

A tour is apparently being planned in 11 states of the USA to run from February to May

of this year. That tour is called “Everything Must Change Tour.” The title, of course,

that gives almost the game away. We are told by the organizer, Brian McLaren that this

is a tour for people short on hope. This tour is named after McLaren’s latest book Everything Must Change. The subtitle of this book reads: Jesus, Global Crisis and a Revolution

of Hope. This tour is for people of all thoughts, but seems especially aimed at those who

are fed up and disillusioned with-quote-traditional church. It is for people looking for

new ways of doing church. That is the in word today, doing church.

So what, may you ask, what’s all the fuss about?

Well, the very term “Emerging Church” suggests itself that they are emerging from

something. The very titles of the books just quoted suggest the same thing. Terms like

“lost message” or “new kind of Christian” or “forgotten ways” or “finding faith” or

“missing the point” or “post-Christendom” or “changing worlds, changing church.” All

this suggests some form of revolution is taking place or is about to take place and within

branches of the professed Christian Church.

So what, again, you may be asking. After all, the Church has changed, hasn’t it, from

one generation to next and from one century to another. And, of course, our world is

every changing.

There is nothing wrong, of course, with change. None of us, I take it, came here today by

horseback like many of our forefathers would have done or are dressed like our Puritan

brethren of the 17century. We live in a very advanced age where change is happening

at an incredible pace.

Is the Church in danger of being left behind or even in danger of extinction all together

unless she adapts? These people would tell us, “Yes.”

Men can doubt that the Church of Jesus Christ is at a low point as far as man can see. We

are told that excluding deaths and transfers 1500 people are thought to be deserting

churches in Britain every week. The promised hopes of the decade of evangelism have

not materialized. In the early 1990s it was hoped that about 20,000 new churches would

be opened by the close of the century. Rather, a survey has revealed that only 1867 new

churches were opened in England while 2557 closed. We are told that the fall in church

attendance was expected to decline in Scotland from 17.1% in 1980 to 10.3% by 2005. In

Wales from 14.1% to just 6.4% while in England from 10.1% to 6.7%.

The attendance of young people in churches seems to be even more depressing. In 1979

1,000,416 under 15s attended church. In 1989 it was 1,177,000 and by 1998 it was down

to just 717,100. One has estimated that 94% of young people are not in church on a Sunday. [?] of course, in spite of all its boasts and claims has failed to stem the decline. The

situation seems bleak and desperate. The Church is being increasingly told that she is out

of date, out of touch and irrelevant to our post-modern generation.

What is the answer to our plight? Is this new phenomena, the Emerging Church, the savior of the supposed dying Church? Have we found the answer in this newest of movements? One author things to think so. Michael Moynagh in his book emerging-

church.intro he says this of his own book, “It argues that church of a different timbre is

key to Christianity’s revival, perhaps survival in the western world.” He does, though, go

on to say, “But Emerging Church is not a magic solution. Emerging Church is not a quick

pick me up for a sick body. It is a collection of new vessels for new…for all the ingredients that are essential to Church and up dimension in worship and in dimension in community, announced dimension in mission and an of dimension as individual churches see

themselves as part of the body of Christ.” End quote.

Well, how would we define the Emerging or Emergent Church? How would you define

the Church? Well, let me give you a quote from one of the leading spokesmen, Brian

McLaren, and see if you can figure it out for yourself.

On the front cover of his popular book A Generous Orthodoxy he says this. “Why I am

missional and evangelical and post Protestant and liberal conservative and mystical poetic and biblical and charismatic contemplative and fundamentalist, Calvinist and Anabaptist, Anglican and Methodist and Catholic and Green and incarnational and [?]…”

You are not surprised, “Yet hopeful and emergent and unfinished Christian.”

Well, you were beginning to thinking that here is a man who really isn’t quite too sure

what he is all about. He seems to be one who certainly hasn’t arrived at certainty. And

this really sums up the whole Emerging Church. It doesn’t quite know what it is itself or

where it is going.

Michael Moynagh says, again-quote-“Emerging Church is a mindset. We will come

to you, rather than a model. It is a direction rather than a destination. It rests on principles rather than a plan. It rises out of a culture rather than being imposed on a culture. It

is a mood scarcely yet a movement.”

The same author goes on to say-quote-“Emerging Church is more than a pragmatic

response to declining numbers. It is a theological vision, a wide eyed vision that escapes

a blinked past, challenges the status quo and calls for new forms of Christianity in which

individuals can encounter Christ authentically. Might these communities renew inherited

congregations and become the crucible of the Church in the Postmodern world?” End of

quote.

Though the Emerging Church has no leaders, official leaders or base, one widely recognized as a leading spokesman and author is Brian McLaren. He says, Brian McLaren

says, “Right now Emerging Church is a conversation, not a movement. We don’t have a

program. We don’t have a model. I think we must begin as a conversation then grow as a

friendship and see if a movement comes of it.”

Moynagh says, “The lack of a single term reflects how cutting edge it all is. Not even the

language has been defined.”

Leonard Sweet, one such Emergent pioneer, has used the acronym EPIC to describe what

Emergent is all about. E stands for experimental. You see, this is because the Postmodern man, we are told, wants to experience the spiritual. The P stands for participants because Postmodern man wants to enter into things and not just be an observer. So, you

see, we may as well do away with the sermon and have a conversation instead. The I relates to image because our Postmodern man, supposedly, in this generation is sight oriented so we might use things like images-artwork, film and video-in our presentation

and in our worship. C is for communal because Postmodern man wants essential community and belonging.

Well, these things are not necessarily wrong, of course, in and of themselves, but there is

more to it than seems to be. It is not just all innocence.

Rob Dell, who is another one of the leaders in this movement puts us in the picture when

he says, “This is not just the same old message with new methods. We are discovering

Christianity as an Eastern religion as a way of life.”

Well, having no official position as yet has caused one critic to comment, “The Emerging

Church is a rather slippery name for a rather slippery movement. By slippery I mean that

the movement is so new-originating in the late 1990s-so fragmented, so varied that

nailing it down is like nailing the proverbial Jello to the wall. There are no official leaders

or headquarters. Some have said that there are thousands of expressions yet only a few

churches have sold out to the concept. And even those claiming the name can’t agree on

what is going on. Although maybe they are not yet a force to be reckoned with, this

movement will no doubt grow, have its adherents, take its casualties and then give way to

the next heresy to attack the Church of Jesus Christ.”

We need to be very clear that what we are dealing with here in the movement Emergent

Church. We are not simply dealing with differences within evangelical theology or with

secondary issues upon which Christians must agree to disagree. We are not dealing with

what the apostle…we are dealing with what the apostle Paul would describe as “another

1

gospel.”It is another gospel which is not a gospel to begin with.

Here is another devilish attempt at muddying the waters of the pure gospel of Jesus

Christ. Well, should we be concerned? Should we be taking a few hours out on a Saturday to look at this new phenomena that is coming in to the Church and claming to be

Christian? Well, we should be as concerned as the apostle Paul was concerned in combating heresy that attacked the Church in his own day. We are called to “earnestly con

2

tend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”And Paul says that we are

3

“set for the defence of the gospel.”

So the answer is a definite yes. We should be concerned about this false, heretical Emerging Church that is coming upon the scenes and you will soon see to hear about it or get to

hear about it.

One pastor on the fringes of the movement, although it is not entirely Emergent in the

heretical sense of it, Mark Driscoll, who was one of the early young pastors who got involved in this and how it all started in the United States as a group of men gathering together to meet. None of them seemed to have much theological understanding at all, but

they seemed to get together and hold conferences. And out of this grew the Emerging

Church. But he says, “I have to distance myself from one of the many streams in the

Emerging Church because of theological differences. The Emerging Church is the latest

version of Liberalism. The only difference is that the old Liberalism accommodated modernity and the new Liberalism accommodates Postmodernity.”

This really brings us to the heart of the movement. The Emerging Church is a move to

make the gospel attractive and acceptable to Postmodern man. The big challenge, we are

told, is how to tap in to the heart and mind of our Postmodern generation. In order to do

this we must start, of course, they say, with 21st century man, start with where he is at.

1

See Galatians 1:6

2

See Jude 3

3

See Philippians 1:17

How do we do that we ask. Well, we must start with experimentation. After all, as one

Emergent leader tells us, “That is exactly what God did when he created the world.”

Moynagh says this. “Experiments are one of the defining features of Emerging Church.

What is evolution if it is not a history of experimentation? One species flourishes. Another doesn’t. A third mutates.”

Of course we tell him if he read Genesis he would know there is no such thing to begin

with so his movement would flop there.

But he goes on and it gets even worse. He then goes on to say that that is exactly what

God did, experimented when he created Adam. To quote him again, “Does Genesis

two,” he asks, “contain a picture of God in experimental mode? He places Adam in the

Garden and then decides that it is not good for man to be alone. ‘I will make a helper

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suitable for him.’He forms all the animals and brings them to Adam to see what he

would call them. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. Has God’s experiment not

succeeded? So God tries again. He creates the woman. The experiment produced the

desired result. God seems to be learning.”

He quickly, of course, see the heresy cries coming and admits that seems to go against

one of the basic attributes of God. But he says that God seems to limit himself. He goes

on to say, “It is a part of God’s perfection that he can be surprised by creation. He has

created in us, for example, with not the songs that humans compose. Each new chart

buster can amaze and perhaps delight him. There is something [?] fitting about a wonderful surprise. Is God to be denied that emotion?”

Do you see where these people are coming from? No understanding of a theology of

God.

One fellow Emergent leader, George Lings, takes great delight in what has been said.

And he adds this complement in the book, “I am glad Mike has been daring and picked

up on the open and creative relationship God has with his creatures to which the Bible

testifies,” to which I say-and this is me-it most certainly does not. And then he goes

on, “And which makes so much better sense of a world where things go wrong. I would

only add that God’s grand experiment or risk was to choose to create beings who have

genuine freedom to love him or not. All the rest flows from this audacious fact.” We are

also told, “Experimentation is part of human being. So it will be second nature for Christians to try and try again with church.”

So after 2000 years we have still not got it right and we must keep on trying and experimenting.

To say that the Emerging Church has a faulty theology of God is an understatement. Any

heresy usually has a defective view of God himself and the Emerging Church has gone

4

See Genesis 2:18

wrong on its attempts to spread the gospel because it has a wrong view of God and a

wrong view of the Bible.

Well, at the heart of the Emerging Church is the adopting of a Postmodern culture. We

are living in what has come to be termed as Postmodernism. You see, we pass through

the Premodern era, a period stretching from Medieval times up to the French Revolution

of 1789. That was the Premodern era. In such a period man had difficulty in believing

the supernatural. Spirits, demons, hell, heaven and an afterlife and even much superstition is said to have abounded in that period. You would not have had difficulty in persuading people that God or even gods existed. Such beliefs, however, began to be challenged and their sources of authority. This began the Modern era, said to have begun with

the Enlightenment period. Philosophers like Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804) began to challenge and question the dogmas of the past age. The Enlightenment would bring in the

age of Modernity.

One writer, Michael Kruger, says, “With the rise of the Enlightenment there came a new

guardian of truth to replace the Church. Science. No longer would human beings stand

for the irrational musings and archaic dogmatism of religion. Science, with reason as the

foundation, was the new god. And all intellectual theories had to bow and pay homage in

order to be seriously considered. Science viewed Christians as being naively committed

to ancient myths, unable to see past their bias and to take an objective and neutral look at

the world. So Modernity proffers the idea that mankind, armed with rationalism and science, is able to access absolute truth and make unlimited progress toward a better life for

itself. Therefore at its core Modernity is a celebration of human autonomy.”

Well, such a period, of course, was a very exciting period in the history of mankind. It

was a period of discovery, a period of development and a period of growth. It appeared

to offer mankind hope for the future. However, the discoveries being made were not too

deliver. Not only has science and learning not provided man with the satisfaction desired

and prayed for, but it has neither provided him with an answer to life’s most perplexing

questions.

In the area of religion the Modernist theologians have destroyed any belief in a supernatural God who spoke through a divinely inspired and infallible Bible. These two

worldviews, then-Premodernism and Modernism-have failed miserably. Of course,

we would expect them to do so as neither can be said to be firmly rooted in the Word of

God.

Well, we now come to our present worldview today. It is called Postmodern,

Postmodernism, a Postmodern generation. Well, it is a matter of debate among scholars

as to when this new period began, but many place it at the time of the collapse of the

Berlin wall in 1989. Some have put it somewhere in the 70s with the sexual revolution

and all the rest. But whichever we say, it is a new era that has come in, Postmodern.

With both Premodernism and Modernism failing to satisfy, man has become disillusioned. Answers to the meaning, purpose and direction of life have not been found. Man has been looking for truth and meaning. The Premodernist stores it in a revelation-albeit

the wrong one-the Church. Well, at least the Church of our day. The Modernist stores it

in science and reason. The Postmodernist now sees his worldview as one in which, for

example, that there is really no such thing as truth. So that is Postmodernism. There

really is no such thing as absolute truth. Absolute truth, he tells us, cannot be. Truth is

rather created and not found. So a culture, for example, may invent its own truth. And

yet another culture, its own version of truth even though they may be contrary to each

other. But there can be no universal truth that belongs to all and everyone. In other

words, there is no absolute truth and it must not even be sought.

Michael Kruger says, “Postmodernity, in contrast to Modernity, rejects any notion of objective truth and insists that the only absolute in the universe is that there are no absolutes. Tolerance is the supreme virtue and exclusivity, the supreme vice. Truth is not

grounded in reality or in any sort of authoritative text, but is simply constructed by the

mind of the individual or socially constructed.”

Another author says, “For the Postmodernist thinkers the very idea of truth is decayed

and disintegrated. It is no longer knowable. At the end of the day truth is simply what

we, as individuals and communities, make it to be and nothing more.”

If you think that is not yet affecting your worldview you are wrong. It is. We have so

many different paths in society, don’t we? So many religions. We are not allowed to say

that one has absolute truth, somebody else is wrong. No, no. You can’t say that. Everything is relative. If it is right for them, then it is right. If they are happy, if that is their

belief, then it is acceptable.

But for Postmodern thinking, “Well if it is…if to them, you know, it’s a flower, it’s a

flower. If to somebody else it’s a weed, it’s a weed. It is whatever you think it to be.”

And hasn’t that come in even in subtlety in things like, with so called, certain crimes,

homophobic crimes, so called, racist crimes, so called. If the person perceives it to be

such then it is. There is no real objective truth.

If such is now the culture and the world we are living in how are we to get the gospel

across?

Well, first we must…first we are to remember that the world in which we live must never

be allowed to shape the gospel that we believe. The Emerging Church has embraced-

like its forefather the Modernist-the belief of its age. It, too, denies that there is such a

thing as truth.

Take the words of Brian McLaren, one of its main architects, “Ask me of Christianity.

My version of it, yours, the pope’s, whoever’s, it is orthodox meaning true. And here is

my honest answer. A little, but not yet. Assuming by Christianity you mean the Christian’s understanding of the world and God, Christian’s opinion on soul, text and culture. I

have to say that we probably have a couple of things right, but a lot of things wrong. And

even more spreads before us unseen and unimagined. But at least our eyes are open. To

be a Christian in a genuinely orthodox way is not to claim to have truth captured, stuffed

and mounted on the wall.”

This is a man who claims to give adherence to the Word of God.

Christians for over 2000 years have believed, rejoiced and often died for the absolute

truth they find in the teachings of Christ and his Word. Yet after all these years we are

now told that there really is no such claim on truth.

Interesting that, McLaren’s latest book is called The Secret Message of Jesus. He and those who follow him are constantly telling us that they are dissatisfied with doing church the traditional way. They are tired of evangelical right they tell us. They are seeking to break free from all that they belonged to the past. Could it be, I ask, that such people have never known the truth and have never known the real Jesus of the Bible? Could it be that they are so dissatisfied because they have never known the liberating power of the gospel of Jesus

Christ? I believe that is so. Christians have traditionally and robustly rejoiced in the certainties and steadfastness of the foundation of the gospel. We have read about it,

preached it with conviction and sung about it with rejoicing. It houses the Emergent

Church, Emerging so called Christians see such.

Rob and Christine Bell, his wife, in the beginning of being interviewed said this concerning the Bible, but they have discovered the Bible as a human product. “I do the thinking,”

she says, “that we figured out the Bible, that we knew what it means.” Now she says, “I

have no idea what most of it means. And yet I feel life is big again like life used to be

black and white and now it is color.”

Brian McLaren sums it all up in the closing of his book A Generous Orthodoxy. “Consider for a minute what it would mean to get the glory of God finally and fully right in

your thinking or to get a fully formed opinion of God’s goodness or holiness. Then I

think you will feel the irony. All these years of pursuing orthodoxy ended up like this, in

front of all this glory, understanding nothing.”

So McLaren would like us to believe at the end of it all we really end up understanding

and knowing nothing. And yet the Christian can say with a certainty like Jeremiah nine

verse three, “And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant

for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me,

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saith the LORD.”

Unbelief and uncertainty like this is found nowhere in the teaching of Christ or the New

Testament epistles. In fact, the Christian message is not only solid, but simple, too. The

message of the Bible is neither lost, uncertain, complex or difficult. It is a message that is

clear, plain and easy to understand.

5

Jeremiah 9:3

Oh, yes, there may be a few difficult passages in Daniel or Revelation to interpret, but the

overall message of the Bible is simple and plain. And for people like Christine Bell we

would say she ought to get on her knees, humble herself before the God of heaven and

submit to his authoritative, inspired, easy to understand revelation.

The message of the Bible is not complex. They seem to great delight in saying, “We can’t

understand anything. We don’t know truth. We don’t know what it is all about. And yet

life is big again.”

We say, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest

6 the light of the glorious gospel…”

How do we share the gospel, then, in their eyes with the unchurched? Well, one of the

key words in the Emerging Church is missional. That is the big word, missional. We

want to be a missional church.

What do we understand by missional? Well, the old meaning, of course, of doing missions, going to the lost, preaching the everlasting gospel of God’s saving grace and rescuing sinners from hell and seeing them get into heaven is not quite what they mean by

missional. A clue to what being a missional Christian is all about is found in the

McLaren’s work, his most well known, although he seems to be spewing out these books

and heresies one after another. But in [?] he says this. “But what about heaven and hell

you ask. Is everybody in? My reply. Why do you consider me qualified to make this

pronouncement? Isn’t this God’s business? Isn’t it clear that I do not believe this is the

right question for a missional Christian to ask?”

Let me break in and say there what caused men like William Carey and others to leave

everything behind was the eternal soul of the people that they were to go and preach to,

but that they were concerned about the eternal destiny of man’s never dying soul.

Not so being missional within the Emerging Church. McLaren goes on, “Can’t we talk

for a while about God’s will being done here on earth as it is heaven instead of jumping

to how to escape earth and get to heaven as quickly as possible? Can’t we talk for a

while about overthrowing and undermining every hellish stronghold in our lives and in

our world?”

Doesn’t this sound very much like the old “damnable heresy” of the Modernist, Liberal

social gospel that emptied our churches and robbed the gospel of all its saving power?

He goes on to say, “Missional Christian faith asserts that Jesus did not come to make

some people saved and others condemned. Jesus did not come to help some people be

right while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion, Judaism having been exclusive based on genetics and Christianity being

exclusive based on belief which can be a tougher requirement than genetics.”

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2 Corinthians 4:4

McLaren has no understanding of the New Testament gospel at all. He himself admits

so. He says, “We must continually be aware,” and this is him speaking, “that the old, old

story may not be the true, true story.” He goes on, in other words, “We must be open to

the perpetual possibility that our received understanding of the gospel may be faulty, imbalanced, poorly [?] or downright warped and twisted.”

Here we must retain the good, Protestant, evangelical and biblical instinct to allow Scripture to critique tradition including our dominant and most recent tradition and including

our tradition’s understanding of the gospel. In this sense, Christians in missional dialogue

must continually expect to rediscover the gospel.

Note how he is prepared to us-or we would say misuse-Scripture to critique what he

says is tradition. He wants us to rediscover the gospel he says. Yet he doesn’t even know

what the gospel is himself. This really is the gospel according to Brian McLaren. It is a

gospel full of uncertainty, mystery and we say falsehood. And he wants us to join him in

his journey of rediscovery?

The gospel of McLaren and the Emerging Church is not the saving gospel from sin and

hell, but another gospel of making a better world and a better you.

But he goes on to say, “From this understanding we place less emphasis on whose lineage, rights, doctrines, structures and terminology are right and move emphasis on whose

action, service, outreach, kindness and effectiveness are good in order to help our world

get back on the road to being truly and wholly good again the way God created it to be.

“We are here on a mission to join God,” he tells us, ” in bringing blessings to our needy

world. We hope to bring God’s blessing to you,” he says, “whoever you are and whatever you believe. And if you would like to join us in this mission and the faith that creates and nourishes, you are welcome.”

I say, “No thank you.”

Note his intention is to join God in bringing blessing to a needy world. He tells us it

really doesn’t matter what you believe. Why, of course, would you when none has arrived at truth anyhow or orthodoxy anyway because he has imbibed a Postmodern age?

His gospel is not to get you into the kingdom, but to bring the kingdom to you.

Dan Kimball, another Emergent leader, says, “Our faith also includes kingdom living.

Part of which is the responsibility to fight local and global and social justice on behalf of

the poor and needy. Our example is Jesus,” he tells us, “who spent his time among the

lepers, the poor and the needy.”

Are we saying that these thing are unimportant and unnecessary? Well, by no means.

Jesus did, in fact, heal the sick, raise the dead, feed the hungry and perform other miracles. We are not saying doing good works is a bad thing. No, they follow the fruits of the gospel. Yet we must always remember that the forming of such miracles was first and

foremost to point to who he was and what he had come to do, of course, to testify that he

was the Savior of lost sinners.

Jesus, in fact, said virtually nothing about social injustice, nothing about the environment

or political tyranny or eradication of poverty or making the world a better place.

What is the true gospel itself? Whereas it has transformed the lives, that society has been

so changed for the better, this was never the priority of Christ, the apostles or the early

church. Christ did not come to bring a paradise to earth through his Church. He came to

rescue sinners from the wrath to come, to give spiritual life to the dead, to draw men back

to the Father, to be a propitiation for men’s sins, to shed his blood for the forgiveness of

those sins, to provide a mansion in heaven, to reconcile sinners to a holy God. He himself

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has said that he had not come to bring peace on earth, but a sword.As the truth divides

and brings a different color…literal thought, of course where people fight each other. That

is not the gospel. Christians willingly lay down their lives for the gospel, but the sword is

the Word of God which cuts against truth and separates from truth and error. That can

never happen with McLaren’s gospel or the gospel of the Emerging Church because it

has imbibed a Postmodern culture that tells us there is no such thing as truth.

So he certainly can’t earnestly contend for the faith because he doesn’t know what that

faith is. This aspect of the social here and now gospel is seen in McLaren’s two questions that he asks which are these. What are the biggest problems destroying our world?

And what do the life and teaching of Jesus have to say about these global crises?

The Emerging Church is more world focused than heaven focused. The early Church

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looked for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness.The Emerging

Church is man centered. Its starting point is not with the truth as expressed in God’s

Word, but-imbibing a cultural philosophy of the day-truth cannot be established anyway.

The well being of man is the beginning. We hear things like, “We will come to you

rather than you come to us.” “We’ll do church on your terms rather than on ours or the

Bible’s terms.”

Rob Bell writes for the media in the States, but all this may be new to you, but it is big

news in the States and it will come over here. They consider him the next Billy Graham

although why I am not sure. He has neither gifts nor theology, well, as he had in his

younger day. Rob Bell says, “For Jesus the question wasn’t how do I get into heaven, but

how do I bring heaven here. The goal isn’t escaping this world, but making this world the

kind of place God can come to. And God is making us into the kind of people who can do

this task, this kind of work.”

7

See Matthew 10:34

8

See 2 Peter 3:13

One wonders which Bible are these people reading. He seems to be ignorant of the fact

that Scripture teaches, “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements

shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned

9

up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved….”What does Peter say? Not

put on a global mask to solve the world’s dilemmas and problems, but in light of this Peter says, “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on

10

fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”There, and as we

have quoted earlier, “We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth right

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eousness.”

I want to look-the time is moving on-to the mystical aspect of the Emerging Church.

Due to the fact that the Emerging Church is not truth based means it is susceptible to all

forms of error and falsehood as one might expect. As we are not moved by the truth of

God’s Word then we will seek experiences outside of that Word. And that is exactly

what we find in the Emergent movement. There is no real Jesus in the Emerging Church.

I believe it is not the Jesus we find in the Bible. Christ himself warned that, “Many will

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come in my name.”And there appears to be as many Jesus’ in the world as there are

Jones’ in Wales. The big question is: Which Jesus do we have and which Jesus are we

following?

Peter Rollins, an Emergent Leader in Northern Ireland-so it has come over into this

country already-Icon. They all have strange names. They don’t have, you know, Emergent Evangelical Church or Emergent Church. They have stupid, silly names. And here is

one Icon. And the very name will suggest where it is going.

Icon, “We as Icon,” they say, “are developing a theology which derives from the mystics,

a theology without theology to complement our religion without religion.”

You notice all this double talk. It doesn’t make sense. And you read their books. It

doesn’t make sense. Much of the Emergent Church thinking is not based on what the Bible teaches. And they do not derive their theology from the Bible, but rather, their theology-if it can be called that-from experience.

Dan Kimball, another Emergent leader says, “The old paradigm taught that if you have

the right teaching you will experience God. The new paradigms says that if you experience God you will have the right teaching.”

Another Emergent leader [?] in England, so it has arrived on our shores near to here,

Sanctus One, you know, so it is not, you know, the Baptist Tabernacle or somewhere.

They adopt one of their silly names. Sanctus One which is actually in Manchester says,

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2 Peter 3:10-11

10

2 Peter 3:11-12

11

2 Peter 3:13

12

See Matthew 24:5, Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8

“We believe that God is not defined by theology. Experience is vital and experience defines us.”

Now in our second talk I am going to jump to the next section because we will be all afternoon otherwise, but I want to jump on briefly and then we can close with some questions. You see, this searching for meaning and experience has not driven this movement

to the Word of God, but back into the world of Medieval Catholicism and Eastern mysticism.

Of course the Roman Catholic Church will endorse anything that furthers its own cause.

An official endorsement in 1965 by the Vatican reads this. “In Hinduism men seek release from the trials of the present life by ascetical practices, profound meditation and

recourse to God in confidence and love. Buddhism proposes a way of life by which man

can with confidence and trust attain a state of perfect liberation and reach supreme illumination either through their own efforts or by the aid of divine help.” And then they go

on to say, “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.”

The Second Vatican Counsel then or some time afterwards mentioned, “It longs to set

forth the way it understands the presence and function of the Roman Catholic,” in this

context, “Church in the world today. Therefore the world which the Counsel has in mind

is the whole human family seen in the context of everything which envelopes it. This is

the reason why this sacred synod in proclaiming the noble destiny of man and affirming

an element of the divine in him offers to cooperate unreservedly with mankind in fostering a sense of brotherhood to correspond to this destiny of theirs.”

You are not surprised, then, at the Emerging Church going down the pathway not just to

Eastern mysticism, but to Romanism as well. In Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality and

Contemplative Practices in Youth Ministry Tony Jones advocates 16 ancient future, both,

spiritual tools or disciplines such as-quote-“the Jesus prayer, [?] diviner, silence and

solitude, stations of the cross, center in prayer, [?] and the labyrinth.”

Richard Bennett, a former Roman Catholic priest says this, “Assuming that the Roman

Catholic Evangelical split over the gospel is a thing of the past,” which we know it is not,

“Jones begins by defining his Postmodern approach to youth ministry by combing aspects

of what he sees as common spirituality and evangelicalism, Roman Catholicism and

Eastern Orthodox traditions along with Eastern religious practices gleaned from Buddhism and Hinduism.” Then it goes on, “Tony Jones’ involvement with youth ministry

and leaders of youth ministry is particularly dangerous. This is the cause of cases of obscure heretical practices from papal Rome when he then passes off on the unsuspecting as

if he has rediscovered a long hidden spiritual treasure for Postmodern Christianity. His

major goal is to make his very Roman Catholic view of the past come alive in the present,

something Bible believers should consider carefully especially regarding his very young

audience.”

This man, by the way, Tony Jones, is a foul mouthed individual who uses foul language

of the worst kind even in describing the Bible. It is for this reason that you will find some

Emergent Churches lighting candles, crosses and other ritual things being performed, all

done in seeking a deeper experience of the divine. So they light their candles. They will

have their crosses They will have their music and their lights. Of course, they will all be

different.

But what are they doing? They are seeking an encounter with the divine. They are seeking an encounter with the spiritual. For the true evangelical we say we are not seeking or

searching for the divine God out there whoever he may be. We have found him in Jesus

Christ, the Jesus alone in the pages of God’s Word.

We are never against experiences, but experiences come from the Word of God and are

based and tested by that very Word.

You will notice many of these people talk about seeking the divine and their masks that

they are having with McLaren and all this everything must change in 11 states of the

United States. They are all telling, “We are seeking something.”

I am not seeking anything. I found it. I am not seeking God or deeper experiences. He is

there in the Word in the written page.

And just in closing: Many young people will be attracted to this Emergent Church. They

will pack them out. The man we just quoted from, Tony Jones, you have seen his influence as to so many Emergent leaders among the youth. The Emergent Church targets the

young and is of particular attraction to young people. One of the reasons is that it uses an

anything goes approach in worship. You can have your bands. You can have your hip

hop, your reggae, whatever music you want. You can have it. You can bring your drums

and whatever you want into worship, whatever is appealing, whatever you want, whatever you are into. Bring it along.

And people will think, “This is great.”

But it is just like the world. You can bring anything into it. All forms of worship and

fleshiness come in. It would not amiss to say it is an almost anything goes approach. Any

form of music no matter how much it represents the debased culture around us seems to

be acceptable and even encouraged. So it will attract the young people who have no understanding of the gospel.

Another reason for why it attracts and will attract the young people is because it appeals

to their sinful nature. It has almost a no rules policy. If you are to go into an Emerging

Church you will find standard. Whatever is right for you is right. You will find one

standing, another sitting, another slouching because anything goes. Just fill out whatever

takes your fancy. We will have appeals, not appeals. There is no such thing as, “Let all

13

things be done decently and in order.”However, this pandering and [?] to the young is

sinful.

The young of our church-and they are to be those who are shown authority and leadership-they are not to be those who are considered as to what they would like to see in

church or what pleases them or what will attract them or what will keep you here. Leadership shall be done by those who are mature adults in the faith. And this pattern of lead

14

ership is seen right throughout Scripture. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord.”

“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your

15

souls.”Considering those who would be leaders there is one that ruleth his household

well having his church or household in subjection.

See, man’s heart is rebellious and will be attracted to this fleshy, false gospel of the

Emergent Church. It is a denial of the clear truth oriented certain foundation of biblical

Christianity.

And I am going to close by summing up two quotes from the Emerging Church and then

we will hand back to our chairman. Sanctus One, an Emerging Church in Manchester

says, as stated on their blog site, “Churches in the West are increasingly experimenting

with more symbolic, reflective spiritualities [?] from Orthodox and Celtic traditions and

sing digital technologies and ambient music. How far can we engage with the Eastern

spiritualities of our Sikh, Hindu and Muslim neighbors whilst retaining our Christian integrity? What might an Emergent Church look like in a multi faith context?”

Our second quote, “Does a little dose of Buddhism thrown into a belief system somehow

kill off the Christian part?”

Real Christians would say a loud, “Yes.”

“My Buddhism doesn’t, except for the unfortunate inability to embrace Jesus,” as if that

is a side issue, “is a better Christian based on Jesus’ description of what a Christian does,

but almost every Christian I know…”

It could be well, he doesn’t know any Christians.

“If they are using Matthew 26 as a guide she would be a sheep and almost every Christian I personally know would be a goat.”

And I say in the Emerging Church they are all goats and may be warned and discerning

about Emerging Church?

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See 1 Corinthians 14:40

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Ephesians 6:1

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Hebrews 13:17

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From a great site The Great Apostasy you can now order  Christian books, music and movies.

 This is from “Eds” site.

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Believe it or not, I now have a full Christian bookstore online, complete with a secure shopping cart and seperate categories (run in conjunction with Amazon).

The offerings on the new bookstore site are fairly limited at this point … but they’ve been hand-selected so you shouldn’t find too much apostasy running around there (although some of the automatic recommendations that might show up in the sidebar from Amazon aren’t necessarily items I would’ve personally recommended).  As with all things, use your own discernment.

Most books are sold at a discount (sometimes as much as 30-70% off the cover price) … plus, you’ll qualify for free shipping with a total purchase of over $25.  That can make shopping here even less expensive than ordering through your local Christian bookstore.  -)

To visit my brand new online Christian bookstore, go to:  Believers’ Books, Bibles, Music, Movies and More 

–”Ed” and family

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False Teachers, False Teachings, & Non-Christian Cults 

Not too long ago it was pretty simple to expose false teachers and non-Christian Cults, but today this task has taken a much deeper level and quite frankly it is becoming more difficult. See, non-Christian Cults such as Latter-Day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, Moonies, and others are for the most part known about today, but there are many within our so-called Christian Churches today that many Christians are not aware of. It is a sad thing to say this, but many of us who are a part of the body of Christ have been deceived from teachers within more so than those outside of the Church.

What is the Big Deal? There are people who simple say: “why are you judging people, who are you to point a finger, just let people be, it really does not matter what people believe as long as they believe in Jesus.” The Bible does speak of not judging another person in the sense of being like the religious Pharisees who lorded over people and were hypocrites.

(Matthew 7) Jesus in Matthew 7 and the other accounts of the same sermon in the Gospels was speaking to the crowds on the issues of how people were be looked down upon in a way of disrespect and contempt, and this we are not to do. However, looking at other places on what Jesus and the apostles taught on Biblical judgment consider the following.”He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”(John 3:18 NASB)

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”(John 7:24 NASB)

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NASB)

“in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:12 NASB)

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 NASB)

“to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 1:15 NASB)

“12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:12-13 NASB)

These are just a few Scriptures that speak of the issues of judgment to come and if you don’t like it, well, then you just don’t like the truth of God’s Word. The Bible warns about false teachers and prophets who claim to be of God, and it is very Biblical to be on your guard against being deceived, even from those among us.

“13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:13-15 NASB)”

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” (Matthew 7:21-23 NASB)”

28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” (Acts 20:28-31 NASB) ”

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”(2 Corinthians 11:13-15 NASB)

“6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:6-9 NASB)

Be Careful of False Teachers in Sheep’s clothing. Unfortunately when it comes to exposing false teachers it is not an issue of feel good mentality but rather on the issues of concern for the body of Christ. Let it be known that it is the purpose of this information and it is important to examines things for yourself. Non Christian Cults are more obvious in certain areas where they have false teachings, but when it comes to those who are supposedly of the Christian faith it is more difficult.

Tommy Tenney is a very common teacher within Christian bookstores and among Churches. However many Christians are not aware of Tommy Tenney’s Church background and affiliation with the UPCI, commonly known as the Oneness Pentecostal movement. Oneness Pentecostals deny the doctrine of the Trinity and teach another theological spin of who God is known as Modalism.

 Now according to the sources Tommy Tenney broke off from the UPCI but nothing has ever been stated on his part in rejecting the Oneness teachings on who God is and accepting the true doctrine of the Biblical Trinity. Along with that Tommy Tenney has connections with the charismatic chaos known as the Toronto Blessing movement. Tommy Tenney is Biblically teaching false things concerning the identity of God, the working of the Holy Spirit, and he endorses false teachers among the Faith Movement and Toronto Blessing. For more in depth information check out http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ttenney.html & http://www.letusreason.org/Poptea10.htm &

Joyce Meyer? What does Joyce Meyer teach that is so bad? Is Joyce Meyer a false teacher? Is Joyce Meyer a Christian? Why should anyone be concerned? Joyce Meyers does not have all the same false teachings as those in the Faith Movement, but she does have some teachings that are the same with various Faith teachers. Examine this information for yourself and line up the Biblical gospel to the gospel that Joyce Meyer teaches, check out http://www.afcministry.com/Joyce_Meyers.htm

Bishop Thomas D. Jakes is a very popular preacher and writer. The purpose of this examination is to provide people with information concerning T. D. Jakes beliefs & teachings on the Trinity doctrine, his affiliation with the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI, Oneness Pentecostals), and other issues of concern. Our intent is not to be judgmental but to be open to the truth and test all things in light of the Scriptures. The concern is, Is Bishop T. D. Jakes a true or false teacher of God, and What is the evidence? Check out http://www.afcministry.com/T_D_Jakes_Examined.htm

Kenneth Copeland is a popular faith movement teacher. Many say do not attack Kenneth Copeland. I wish to say that I am not attacking at all, but I am sharing information that is needed for the body of Christ to know concerning what Kenneth Copeland Ministries teaches concerning what took place at the cross and what Jesus went through for atonement. I ask all those who read this to be open enough to look at this carefully and decide for yourself whether or not Kenneth Copeland is true or false doctrines on the message of the cross and salvation. For more information check out http://www.afcministry.com/Kenneth_Copeland.htm

Benny Hinn is known by being on TV and his crusades around the world. Is Benny Hinn a true teacher? Is Benny Hinn a false teacher? Is Benny Hinn a false prophet? Is he a true prophet? The following will be actual statements and quotes from Benny Hinn’s teachings on what he believes concerning certain topics and you examine for yourselves whether Benny Hinn is of God or not. For more information check out http://www.afcministry.com/Benny_Hinn.htm

Do not be Deceived! False teachers hide behind things like don’t touch God’s anointed, do not judge, and it is our Biblical Christian duty to expose those who are misleading people with false teachings on who God is, the Gospel message, and the working of the Holy Spirit. Non Christian Cults such as the Mormon Church (Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc, all have false teachings on the identity of God, the Gospel, and if you are looking for information on them visit our other sections, and we welcome your questions or comments.

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“How to Try the Spirits” is from Tozer’s book, “Man, The Dwelling Place of God”, and I found it to be even more relevant today than when it was written.  There are 7 sections dealing with how to test spiritual experiences by asking “How has it  affected my attitude toward and my relation to:”

  1. God
  2. Christ
  3. The Holy Scriptures
  4. Self
  5. Other Christians
  6. The World
  7. Sin

 

How to Try the Spirits

THESE ARE THE TIMES that try men’s souls. The Spirit has spoken expressly that in the latter times some should depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. Those days are upon us and we cannot escape them; we must triumph in the midst of them, for such is the will of God concerning us.

Strange as it may seem, the danger today is greater for the fervent Christian than for the lukewarm and the self-satisfied. The seeker after God’s best things is eager to hear anyone who offers a way by which he can obtain them. He longs for some new experience, some elevated view of truth, some operation of the Spirit that will raise him above the dead level of religious mediocrity he sees all around him, and for this reason he is ready to give a sympathetic ear to the new and the wonderful in religion, particularly if it is presented by someone with an attractive personality and a reputation for superior godliness.

Now our Lord Jesus. that great Shepherd of the sheep, has not left His flock to the mercy of the wolves. He has given us the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and natural powers of observation, and He expects us to avail ourselves of their help constantly. “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” said Paul (I Thess. 5:21) . “Beloved, believe not every spirit,” wrote John, “but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1) . “Beware of false prophets,” our Lord warned, “which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15). Then He added the word by which they may be tested, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

From this it is plain not only that there shall be false spirits abroad, endangering our Christian lives, but that they may be identified and known for what they are. And of course once we become aware of their identity and learn their tricks their power to harm us is gone. “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird” (Prov. 1:17)

It is my intention to set forth here a method by which we may test the spirits and prove all things religious and moral that come to us or are brought or offered to us by anyone. And while dealing with these matters we should keep in mind that not all religious vagaries are the work of Satan. The human mind is capable of plenty of mischief without any help from the devil. Some persons have a positive genius for getting confused, and will mistake illusion for reality in broad daylight with the Bible open before them. Peter had such in mind when he wrote, “Our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Pet. 3:15, 16).

It is unlikely that the confirmed apostles of confusion will read what is written here or that they would profit much if they did; but there are many sensible Christians who have been led astray but are humble enough to admit their mistakes and are now ready to return unto the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls. These may be rescued from false paths. More important still, there are undoubtedly large numbers of persons who have not left the true way but who want a rule by which they can test everything and by which they may prove the quality of Christian teaching and experience as they come in contact with them day after day throughout their busy lives. For such as these I make available here a little secret by which I have tested my own spiritual experiences and religious impulses for many years.

Briefly stated the test is this: This new doctrine, this new religious habit, this new view of truth, this new spiritual experience how has it affected my attitude toward and my relation to God, Christ, the Holy Scriptures, self, other Christians, the world and sin. By this sevenfold test we may prove everything religious and know beyond a doubt whether it is of God or not. By the fruit of the tree we know the kind of tree it is. So we have but to ask about any doctrine or experience, What is this doing to me? and we know immediately whether it is from above or from below.

1) One vital test of all religious experience is how it affects our relation to God, our concept of God and our attitude toward Him. God being who He is must always be the supreme arbiter of all things religious. The universe came into existence as a medium through which the Creator might show forth His perfections to all moral and intellectual beings: “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another” (Isa. 42:8) . “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).

The health and balance of the universe require that in all things God should be magnified. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” God acts only for His glory and whatever comes from Him must be to His own high honor. Any doctrine, any experience that serves to magnify Him is likely to be inspired by Him. Conversely, anything that veils His glory or makes Him appear less wonderful is sure to be of the flesh or the devil.

The heart of man is like a musical instrument and may be played upon by the Holy Spirit, by an evil spirit or by the spirit of man himself. Religious emotions are very much the same, no matter who the player may be. Many enjoyable feelings may be aroused within the soul by low or even idolatrous worship. The nun who kneels “breathless with adoration” before an image of the Virgin is having a genuine religious experience. She feels love, awe and reverence, all enjoyable emotions, as certainly as if she were adoring God. The mystical experiences of Hindus and Sufis cannot be brushed aside as mere pretense. Neither dare we dismiss the high religious flights of spiritists and other occultists as imagination. These may have and sometimes do have genuine encounters with something or someone beyond themselves. In the same manner Christians are sometimes led into emotional experiences that are beyond their power to comprehend. I have met such and they have inquired eagerly whether or not their experience was of God.

The big test is, What has this done to my relationship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? If this new view of truth-this new encounter with spiritual things-has made me love God more, if it has magnified Him in my eyes, if it has purified my concept of His being and caused Him to appear more wonderful than before, then I may conclude that I have not wandered astray into the pleasant but dangerous and forbidden paths of error.

2. The next test is: How has this new experience affected my attitude toward the Lord Jesus Christ? Whatever place present-day religion may give to Christ, God gives Him top place in earth and in heaven. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” spoke the voice of God from heaven concerning our Lord Jesus. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, declared: “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Again Peter said of Him, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) . The whole book of Hebrews is devoted to the idea that Christ is above all others. He is shown to be above Aaron and Moses, and even the angels are called to fall down and worship Him. Paul says that He is the image of the invisible God, that in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily and that in all things He must have the preeminence. But time would fail me to tell of the glory accorded Him by prophets, patriarchs, apostles, saints, elders, psalmists, kings and seraphim. He is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. He is our hope, our life, our all and all, now and forevermore.

All this being true, it is clear that He must stand at the center of all true doctrine, all acceptable practice and all genuine Christian experience. Anything that makes Him less than God has declared Him to be is delusion pure and simple and must be rejected, no matter how delightful or how satisfying it may for the time seem to be.

Christless Christianity sounds contradictory but it exists as a real phenomenon in our day. Much that is being done in Christ’s name is false to Christ in that it is conceived by the flesh, incorporates fleshly methods, and seeks fleshly ends. Christ is mentioned from time to time in the same way and for the same reason that a self-seeking politician mentions Lincoln and the flag, to provide a sacred front for carnal activities and to deceive the simplehearted listeners. This giveaway is that Christ is not central: He is not all and in all.

Again, there are psychic experiences that thrill the seeker and lead him to believe that he has indeed met the Lord and been carried to the third heaven; but the true nature of the phenomenon is discovered later when the face of Christ begins to fade from the victim’s consciousness and he comes to depend more and more upon emotional jags as a proof of his spirituality.

If on the other hand the new experience tends to make Christ indispensable, if it takes our interest off our feeling and places it in Christ, we are on the right track. Whatever makes Christ dear to us is pretty sure to be from God.

3. Another revealing test of the soundness of religious experience is, How does it affect my attitude toward the Holy Scriptures? Did this new experience, this new view of truth, spring out of the Word of God itself or was it the result of some stimulus that lay outside the Bible? Tender-hearted Christians often become victims of strong psychological pressure applied intentionally or innocently by someone’s personal testimony, or by a colorful story told by a fervent preacher who may speak with prophetic finality but who has not checked his story with the facts nor tested the soundness of his conclusions by the Word of God.

Whatever originates outside the Scriptures should for that very reason be suspect until it can be shown to be in accord with them. If it should be found to be contrary to the Word of revealed truth no true Christian will accept it as being from God. However high the emotional content, no experience can be proved to be genuine unless we can find chapter and verse authority for it in the Scriptures. “To the word and to the testimony” must always be the last and final proof.

Whatever is new or singular should also be viewed with a lot of caution until it can furnish scriptural proof of its validity. Over the last half-century quite a number of unscriptural notions have gained acceptance among Christians by claiming that they were among the truths that were to be revealed in the last days. To be sure, say the advocates of this latter-daylight theory, Augustine did not know, Luther did not, John Knox, Wesley, Finney and Spurgeon did not understand this; but greater light has now shined upon God’s people and we of these last days have the advantage of fuller revelation. We should not question the new doctrine nor draw back from this advanced experience. The Lord is getting His Bride ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb. We should all yield to this new movement of the Spirit. So they tell us.

The truth is that the Bible does not teach that there will be new light and advanced spiritual experiences in the latter days; it teaches the exact opposite. Nothing in Daniel or the New Testament epistles can be tortured into advocating the idea that we of the end of the Christian era shall enjoy light that was not known at its beginning. Beware of any man who claims to be wiser than the apostles or holier than the martyrs of the Early Church. The best way to deal with him is to rise and leave his presence. You cannot help him and he surely cannot help you.

Granted, however, that the Scriptures may not always be clear and that there are differences of interpretation among equally sincere men, this test will furnish all the proof needed of anything religious, viz., What does it do to my love for and appreciation of the Scriptures?

While true power lies not in the letter of the text but in the Spirit that inspired it, we should never underestimate the value of the letter. The text of truth has the same relation to truth as the honeycomb has to honey. One serves as a receptacle for the other. But there the analogy ends. The honey can be removed from the comb, but the Spirit of truth cannot and does not operate apart from the letter of the Holy Scriptures.

For this reason a growing acquaintance with the Holy Spirit will always mean an increasing love for the Bible. The Scriptures are in print what Christ is in person. The inspired Word is like a faithful portrait of Christ. But again the figure breaks down. Christ is in the Bible as no one can be in a mere portrait, for the Bible is a book of holy ideas and the eternal Word of the Father can and does dwell in the thought He has Himself inspired. Thoughts are things, and the thoughts of the Holy Scriptures form a lofty temple for the dwelling place of God.

From this it follows naturally that a true lover of God will be also a lover of His Word. Anything that comes to us from the God of the Word will deepen our love for the Word of God. This follows logically, but we have confirmation by a witness vastly more trustworthy than logic, viz., the concerted testimony of a great army of witnesses living and dead. These declare with one voice that their love for the Scriptures intensified as their faith mounted and their obedience became consistent and joyous.

If the new doctrine, the influence of that new teacher, the new emotional experience fills my heart with an avid hunger to meditate in the Scriptures day and night. I have every reason to believe that God has spoken to my soul and that my experience is genuine. Conversely, if my love for the Scriptures has cooled even a little, if my eagerness to eat and drink of the inspired Word has abated by as much as one degree, I should humbly admit that I have missed God’s signal somewhere and frankly backtrack until I find the true way once more.

4. Again, we can prove the quality of religious experience by its effect on the self-life.

The Holy Spirit and the fallen human self are diametrically opposed to each other. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Gal. 5:17). “They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit . . . . Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8: 5, 7).

Before the Spirit of God can work creatively in our hearts He must condemn and slay the “flesh” within us; that is, He must have our full consent to displace our natural self with the Person of Christ. This displacement is carefully explained in Romans 6, 7,and 8. When the seeking Christian has gone through the crucifying experience described in chapters 6 and 7 he enters into the broad, free regions of chapter 8. There self is dethroned and Christ is enthroned forever.

In the light of this it is not hard to see why the Christian’s attitude toward self is such an excellent test of the validity of his religious experiences. Most of the great masters of the deeper life, such as Fenelon. Molinos, John of the Cross, Madame Guyon and a host, of others, have warned against pseudoreligious experiences that provide much carnal enjoyment but feel the flesh and puff up the heart with self-love.

A good rule is this: If this experience has served to humble me and make me little and vile in my own eyes it is of God; but if it has given me a feeling of self-satisfaction it is false and should be dismissed as emanating from self or the devil. Nothing that comes from God will minister to my pride or self-congratulation. If I am tempted to be complacent and to feel superior because I have had a remarkable vision or an advanced spiritual experience, I should go at once to my knees and repent of the whole thing. I have fallen a victim to the enemy.

5. Our relation to and our attitude toward our fellow Christians is another accurate test of religious experience.

Sometimes an earnest Christian will, after some remarkable spiritual encounter, withdraw himself from his fellow believers and develop a spirit of faultfinding. He may be honestly convinced that his experience is superior, that he is now in an advanced state of grace, and that the hoi polloi in the church where he attends are but a mixed multitude and he alone a true son of Israel. He may struggle to be patient with these religious worldlings, but his soft language and condescending smile reveal his true opinion of them-and of himself. This is a dangerous state of mind, and the more dangerous because it can justify itself by the facts. The brother has had a remarkable experience; he has received some wonderful light on the Scriptures; he has entered into a joyous land unknown to him before. And it may easily be true that the professed Christians with whom he is acquainted are worldly and dull and without spiritual enthusiasm. It is not that he is mistaken in his facts that proves him to be in error, but that his reaction to the facts is of the flesh. His new spirituality has made him less charitable.

The Lady Julian tells us in her quaint English how true Christian grace affects our attitude toward others: “For of all things the beholding and loving of the Maker maketh the soul to seem less in his own sight, and most filleth him with reverent dread and true meekness; with plenty of charity to his fellow Christians.” Any religious experience that fails to deepen our love for our fellow Christians may safely be written off as spurious.

The Apostle John makes love for our fellow Christians to be a test of true faith. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him” (I John 3:18, 19). Again he says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:7, 8).

As we grow in grace we grow in love toward all God’s people. “Every one that loveth him that begot loveth him also that is begotten of him” (I John 5:1) . This means simply that if we love God we will love His children. All true Christian experience will deepen our love for other Christians.

Therefore we conclude that whatever tends to separate us in person or in heart from our fellow Christians is not of God, but is of the flesh or of the devil. And conversely, whatever causes us to love the children of God is likely to be of God. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

6. Another certain test of the source of religious experience is this: Note how it affects our relation to and our attitude toward the world.

By “the world” I do not mean, of course, the beautiful order of nature which God has created for the enjoyment of mankind. Neither do I mean the world of lost men in the sense used by our Lord when He said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16, 17). Certainly any true touch of God in the soul will deepen our appreciation of the beauties of nature and intensify our love for the lost. I refer here to something else altogether.

Let an apostle say it for us: “All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:16, 17) .

This is the world by which we may test the spirits. It is the world of carnal enjoyments, of godless pleasures, of the pursuit of earthly riches and reputation and sinful happiness. It carries on without Christ, following the counsel of the ungodly and being animated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2: 2) . Its religion is a form of godliness, without power, which has a name to live but is dead. It is, in short, unregenerate human society romping on its way to hell, the exact opposite of the true Church of God, which is a society of regenerate souls going soberly but joyfully on their way to heaven.

Any real work of God in our heart will tend to unfit us for the world’s fellowship. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Cor. 6:140. It may be stated unequivocally that any spirit that permits compromise with the world is a false spirit. Any religious movement that imitates the world in any of its manifestations is false to the cross of Christ and on the side of the devil and this regardless of how much purring its leaders may do about “accepting Christ” or “letting God run your business.”

7. The last test of the genuineness of Christian experience is what it does to our attitude toward sin.

The operations of grace within the heart of a believing man will turn that heart away from sin and toward holiness. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:11-13) .

I do not see how it could be plainer. The same grace that saves teaches that saved man inwardly, and its teaching is both negative and positive. Negatively it teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts. Positively it teaches us to live soberly, righteously and godly right in this present world.

The man of honest heart will find no difficulty here. He has but to check his own bent to discover whether he is concerned about sin in his life more or less since the supposed work of grace was done. Anything that weakens his hatred of sin may be identified immediately as false to the Scriptures, to the Saviour and to his own soul. Whatever makes holiness more attractive and sin more intolerable may be accepted as genuine. “For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psa. 5: 4, 5).

Jesus warned, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect.” These words describe our day too well to be coincidental. In the hope that the “elect” may profit by them I have set forth these tests. The result is in the hand of God.

A Review Of Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life”
By David Cloud
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The book “The Purpose Drive Life” by Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in southern California has sold more than 18 million copies and has wielded a vast influence.

Bruce Ryskamp, president of Zondervan, said, “The Purpose Driven Life is more than a bestseller; it’s become a movement.”

Over 12,000 churches from all 50 states in America and 19 countries have participated in Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose, which is drawn from the book. Over 60,000 pastors subscribe to Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. He has provided materials and teaching to Christians in more than 117 countries on all seven continents.

Richard Bennett observes, “The movement is becoming a global empire.”

Rick Warren has been called “America’s pastor,” and it is for good reason. He is so shallow in his teaching, so positive in his approach, so slighting of repentance, so neglecting of unpopular doctrines such as hell and judgment, so tolerant of heresies, so enthusiastic of rock music, so soft-spoken on that nasty subject of worldliness, that apostate America can’t help but love him.

All of these characteristics are reflected in his best-selling book.

A FOUNDATIONAL ERROR IN WARREN’S BOOK IS THE EXTREME SHALLOWNESS AND INSUFFICIENCY OF HIS GOSPEL.

In chapter 7, “The Reason for Everything,” Warren explains to his readers how they can become a Christian.

“If you are not sure you have done this, all you need to do is receive and believe. … First, believe. Believe God loves you and made you for his purposes. Believe you’re not an accident. Believe you were made to last forever. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you’ve done, God wants to forgive you. Second, receive. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose. … Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity. ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’ Go ahead. If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!” (The Purpose Driven Life, pp. 58, 59).

This is one of the most superficial “gospels” I have ever seen. There is nothing here that would offend or convict the Pope or a Mormon. It’s not the gospel that was preached in the book of Acts or Romans.

For one thing, there is no clear dealing with the sin issue. Warren’s book is intended for wide distribution in society at large, and it is not enough in such a context merely to mention the word sin. The average person in North America will admit that he is not perfect and that he is a “sinner” in some sense, but he also thinks of himself as

a pretty good person. When he thinks of himself as a sinner, he does not mean what the Bible means, that he was shaped in iniquity and conceived in sin (Psa. 51:5), that his heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9) and full of evil (Ecc. 9:3), that he is unrighteous and unprofitable (Rom. 3:10-11), that in his flesh dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18), and that his very righteousness is as filthy rags before a holy God (Isa. 64:6). Warren’s incredibly shallow approach allows any person who will admit that he is a sinner in any sense to pray a prayer and then think of himself as a genuine Christian, even though he might continue to deny what the Bible says about sin.

There are many other things we could expose in Warren’s gospel. There is nothing about God’s holiness and justice. There is no clear teaching on what Jesus did on the cross. There is nothing about the blood. He invites the reader to “believe on Jesus.” What Jesus? People today believe in all sorts of false christs, but Warren does not warn them of this nor does he take the time to identify the true Jesus of the Bible in any clear fashion and to distinguish Him from false ones. Just a vague “believe on Jesus” and presto you are ready to heaven.

And Warren completely ignores repentance. There is not a hint here that the sinner must repent of his sin and idolatry. This is not the gospel that Paul preached. Paul summarized his message as follows: “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Warren says that he believes in the Great Commission and he mentions it in passing in The Purpose Driven Life, but he ignores repentance which is a part of the Great Commission. Christ gave the Great Commission in Luke 24:44-48 and He commanded that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.” Paul boldly preached repentance to the philosophers and idolaters in Athens, and if he were alive today he would certainly preach repentance to the idolaters in America! Paul said that God “now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30), and we can be sure that God hasn’t changed His mind.

WARREN TEACHES A SELF-ESTEEM THEOLOGY UNDER THE GUISE OF WORSHIP AND SERVICE

Though Warren professes that his teaching does not exalt man but rather exalts God and he claims that he does not teach a self help program, in reality he teaches nothing less than a Robert Schuller-style Self-Esteem theology.

Notice the following statements:

“The moment you were born into the world, God was there as an unseen witness, smiling at your birth. … It proves your worth. If you are that important to God, and he considers you valuable enough to keep you for eternity, what great significance could you have? … Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship …You may be gifted at mechanics or mathematics or music or a thousand other skills. All these abilities can bring a smile to God’s face. …. You only bring him enjoyment by being you.  Anytime you reject any part of yourself, you are rejecting God’s wisdom and sovereignty in creating you. … God also gains pleasure in watching you enjoy his creation. … When you are sleeping, God gazes at you with love, because you were his idea.  He loves you as if you were the only person on earth” (pp. 61, 64, 74, 75).

Here worship is turned on its head by making it as much about me as about God. I am so loveable and so important and so desirable to God that whatever I do brings God pleasure and therefore is worship. Wonderful me! The self-esteem theology is more about celebrating self than dying to self, even when it talks of dying to self! Warren says that if I reject any part of myself I am denying God’s sovereignty.

What about sin and what it has done to “myself”?

Consider another statement from Warren’s popular book:

“If you want to know how much you matter to God, look at Christ with his arms outstretched on the cross, saying, ‘I love you this much! I’d rather die than live without you'” (p. 79).

Thus the cross is sanctified by the self-esteem theology so that it is about me and how the Lord couldn’t live without me. Wonderful me!

Consider another statement:

“God is a lover and a liberator, and surrendering to him brings freedom, not bondage. When we completely surrender ourselves to Jesus, we discover that he is … not a boss, but a brother…” (p. 79).

The self-esteem God is dedicated to liberating me. He is not a boss! There’s nothing to fear. He’s just a Big Buddy, a Powerful Pal.

Warren quotes from Olympic runner Eric Liddell. “To give up running would be to hold him in contempt.”

Thus to deny what I am gifted at and what I like to do is to deny God. Isn’t it clever how that Warren has identified self will with God’s will so that they have become one and the same?

In fact, things I am gifted for and enjoy oftentimes come into conflict with God’s perfect will. God oftentimes calls upon an individual to give up even legitimate things for which he or she is highly gifted and qualified. Many men have given up such things when God called them to be a preacher or a missionary. Peter, James, and John gave up fishing. In the 1980s I met a Chinese man in Singapore who was a brilliant chess champion. God had saved him and called him to preach and he was preparing himself in a Bible College. He told me how that for awhile he had written a column on chess for a newspaper for extra income toward his Bible training, but he discovered that it was not possible to keep the chess moves out of his mind when he was trying to study Scripture so he gave it up entirely, though he was highly gifted at it and enjoyed it. That is true dying to self.

Note the following quotes from chapters 30 and 31 of The Purpose Driven Life which deal with finding my place in God’s will:

“Listening to your heart. The Bible uses the term heart to describe the bundle of desires, hopes, interests, ambitions, dreams, and affections you have. Your heart represents the source of all your motivations–what you love to do and what you are about most. … Don’t ignore your interests. Consider how they might be used for God’s glory. There is a reason that you love to do these things. … How do you know when you are serving God from your heart? The first telltale sign is enthusiasm. When you are doing what you love to do, no one has to motivate you or challenge you or check up on you. … The second characteristic of serving God from your heart is effectiveness. Whenever you do what God wired you to love to do, you get good at it. … Figure out what you love to do–what God gave you a heart to do–and then do it for his glory. … What I’m able to do, God wants me to do” (pp. 237, 238, 239, 243).

Note that Warren does not warn his readers that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). What a gross, inexcusable omission! While it is true that you can trust your desires to some small extent when you are a mature Christian who is delighting in God and immersed in His Word and obeying Him (Psa. 37:4), how many of the readers of The Purpose Drive Life are in that condition? A great many of the millions of readers are doubtless complete unbelievers or nominal Christians or novices or carnal, and to teach them that what they love to do is God’s will is frightful heresy. Many are professional sports fanatics, for example. Others are rock & roll fanatics. Others are fanatics about modern fashion trends. Are they fanatic about such things because that is the way that God made them? No, they are fanatic about such things because they are conformed to the world and walk in the way of sinners (Psa. 1:1; Rom. 12:2).

There are many things that professing Christians are gifted for and effective at that are NOT God’s will!

Again we see that when Rick Warren’s theology is examined carefully it is about self fulfillment, but it is presented under the guise of worshipping and serving God.

Warren builds his self-esteem theology upon strange versions of the Bible. Consider an example:

“The Bible says, ‘Noah was a pleasure to the Lord.’ God said, ‘This guy brings me pleasure. He makes me smile” (The Purpose Driven Life, p. 69).

Warren is quoting Genesis 6:8 in the Living Bible. In fact, this verse should say, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” It has nothing to do with God getting pleasure from Noah. It has everything to do with Noah getting favor from the Lord! The Living Bible perverts this verse, turning it upon its very head. Nonetheless, since it fits Rick Warren’s theology he grabs hold of it and pretends that it is Scripture.

Consider another example of how Warren builds his self-esteem theology upon inaccurate versions of Scripture.

“The Bible says, ‘Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self'” (p. 19).

Here Warren quotes Matthew 16:25 in The Message. Actually, the verse should say, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

There is not a hint here about self help or finding your true self. The verse is not teaching about finding your self but about finding your life. What Warren quotes as Scripture is actually a prefabrication by Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message.

The Message also takes away the Lord’s solemn warning that whosoever will find his life shall lose it. This fits in perfectly with Warren’s unscriptural positivism.

WARREN SLIGHTS OVER HELL AND JUDGMENT AND THE FEAR OF GOD

The Lord Jesus Christ preached on hell frequently. There are nearly 100 references in Scripture to fearing the Lord, and God’s judgment is a never-ending theme of Scripture.

But when it comes to Rick Warren, he does not mention God’s judgment, never urges his listeners to fear the Lord, and he makes only one passing reference to hell. This is on page 37, and in the same section he quotes C.S. Lewis twice. Lewis believed that hell is a mere metaphor and a state of mind: “And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind–is, in the end, Hell” (Lewis, The Great Divorce, p. 65).

Not only did the Lord Jesus Christ preach much on hell, but he preached it hot and furious.

“And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48).

There is no a hint of this kind of preaching in Rick Warren’s woefully inadequate ministry.

If ever there were an hour in which the people of this world need to hear hell and judgment and the fear of God preached fiery hot and powerfully plain it is this present unbelieving, mocking, blasphemous, pleasure mad, self-loving, self-content, self-righteous age, but the popular preachers won’t touch it. Too negative. Too damaging to self-esteem. Too dogmatic and intolerant. Too likely to offend and cut into the size of my audience.

WARREN PROMOTES EVERY STRANGE BIBLE VERSION

In The Purpose Driven Life, Warren uses 15 different Bible versions, including two Roman Catholic ones (The New American Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible). His favorites are the “dynamic equivalency” versions such as the Living Bible, the New Living Bible, Today’s English Version, the Contemporary English Version, and The Message. The latter seems to be his most favorite.

As a result, it is often impossible to know exactly what Scripture he is quoting because it is so strangely paraphrased and wildly inaccurate.

On page 70 Warren quotes Hebrews 11:7 from The Message.

“By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told … As a result, Noah became intimate with God.”

In the dependable King James Bible this verse says:

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

We can see that The Message adds to and takes away from the Word of God in an amazing manner. It adds the bit about Noah building a ship in the middle of dry land. It omits the fact that Noah was moved with fear. It changes “became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” to “became intimate with God.”

On page 20 Warren quotes 1 Corinthians 2:7 from The Message:

“God’s wisdom … goes deep into the interior of his purposes … It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest–what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us.”

In the King James Bible this says:

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.”

It is obvious that The Message is not a translation in any sense of the word; it is a presumption. It is not God’s thoughts but man’s. It is almost childish, not because it is simple but because it is ridiculous.

Warren claims to have quoted more than 1,000 Scriptures in The Purpose Driven Life, but most of the quotations are similar to the previous examples and have no right to be called Scripture.

When I visited a service at Saddleback Church in 2003, I observed that only a few people were carrying Bibles into the auditorium. The reason became clear when I saw the multiplicity of versions that were used in the preaching. It would be impossible to follow along in one’s Bible. The result is that the people do not bring their own Bibles and do not therefore carefully test the preaching. How could they, when any biblical statement they would attempt to examine has dozens of contradictory variations?

WARREN SLIGHTS SCRIPTURAL BAPTISM

The Purpose Driven Life has a page and a half dealing with baptism, but there is not a word about the mode, which is one of the most important aspects. He leaves the reader with the impression that pouring, sprinkling, or immersion is equally acceptable. Obviously it would offend many readers if he were to present a truly Scriptural position on baptism as a burial in water, but what else would a true Bible believer and a true Baptist do?

WARREN CLAIMS THAT GOD LOVES ALL KINDS OF MUSIC

In chapter 8 of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren becomes a prophet, saying:

“God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all–fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don’t like it all, but God does! … Christians often disagree over the style of music used in worship, passionately defending their preferred style as the most biblical or God-honoring. But there is no biblical style! … God likes variety and enjoys it all. There is no such thing as ‘Christian’ music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes” (pp. 65, 66).

This idea that music itself is neutral and that any music can be used in the service of the Lord has opened the door for the world to come into the churches as few other things.

Though the Bible nowhere says nor even hints that God loves all kinds of music, we are to believe that he does because Rick Warren says so. His only evidence for this outrageous statement is his reasoning that since God “invented it all” he must like it all. But where is the evidence that God invented all music? Are you telling me that the devil and sinful men are not involved in the field of music? That is a ridiculous thought, seeing that the devil is called “the god of this world” and music is one of the most powerful influences among men. Sinful men have used music since Cain’s children built the first society apart from God and made musical instruments to satisfy their carnal pleasures (Genesis 4:16-21).

Styles of music are not neutral. Rock musicians have testified that they play their particular style of rhythm for the very reason that it is lascivious. Frank Zappa said: “Rock music is sex. The big beat matches the body’s rhythms” (Life, June 28, 1968). Gene Simmons says, “That’s what rock is all about–sex with a 100 megaton bomb, the beat!” (Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Dec. 10, 1987). John Oates said, “Rock ‘n’ roll is 99% sex” (Circus, Jan. 31, 1976). Patty Labelle said, “Rock and roll was something that’s hardcore, rough and wild and sweaty and wet and just loose” (Rock Facts, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Ohio). And punk rock manager Malcolm McLaren agreed, saying, “Rock ‘n’ roll is pagan and primitive, and very jungle, and that’s how it should be!” (Rock, August 1983).

Note that they are not talking merely about rock music’s lyrics and associations but also its RHYTHM! These men and women of the world believe there is such a thing as a sexy rhythmic pattern. Rapper Missy Elliot’s album, “Miss E … So Addictive,” was described by as “a seductive cocktail of quirky rhythms and hypnotic beats.”

Why do these secular rockers describe their heavily syncopated rock rhythms as sexy, primitive, seductive, rough, hardcore, naughty, loose, wild, and hypnotic? They are testifying the very opposite of Rick Warren’s philosophy; they are saying that music is not neutral and that the heavy rock & roll backbeat that can be heard on any Sunday at Saddleback Church is sensual and licentious and that is exactly why they love it.

As for the idea that there is no biblical style of music, I could not disagree more fervently. The Bible tells us exactly what type of music to sing in our churches, as follows: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). Spiritual songs are not the same as unspiritual or sensual or worldly, hymns are not the same as rock music, melody is not the same as raucous repetition. Spiritual is something that is set apart from the world unto a holy God; different in character than the things of the world. The Bible gives Plain instruction about the Christian’s affiliation with worldly things, and any music that draws the child of God into fellowship with the world is to be rejected (James 4:4; 1 Jn. 2:15-16). The Bible forbids the Christian to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). Yet the Contemporary Christian Music that Rick Warren uses in his church is nothing if not conformed to the world’s musical styles.

WARREN PROMOTES AN UNSCRIPTURAL JUDGE NOT PHILOSOPHY

The Purpose Driven Life contains extensive documentation of Rick Warren’s dangerous and unscriptural “judge not” ecumenical philosophy.

On page 164, Warren says, “God warns us over and over not to criticize, compare, or judge each other. … Whenever I judge another believer, four things instantly happen: I lose fellowship with God, I expose my own pride, I set myself to be judged by God, and I harm the fellowship of the church.”

In typical New Evangelical fashion Warren makes no distinction between judging hypocritically (which is forbidden in Matthew 7) or judging on the basis of personal preference in matters not taught in Scripture (which is forbidden in Romans 14) and judging on the basis of the Bible (which is required by God).

The child of God has an obligation to judge everything by God’s Word. The believers at Corinth were rebuked because they were careless in this regard and were tolerant of false teachers (2 Cor. 11:1-4). The Bereans, on the other hand, were commended because they carefully tested everything by the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). The Bible says “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” (1 Cor. 2:15) and Jesus taught that we should “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). We are to judge preaching (1 Cor. 14:29) and sin in the churches (1 Cor. 5). We are to try the spirits (1 John 4:1).

To test preachers and their message carefully by God’s Word is not a matter of pride, but of wisdom and spirituality and obedience.

On page 34 of The Purpose Driven Life, Warren says: “God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him?”

If this is true, why does the Bible say so very much about doctrine and why did the apostles call for doctrinal purity on every hand? Paul instructed Timothy to allow “no other doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:3). That is the very strictest stance on doctrinal purity, and it is precisely the stance we find throughout the apostolic writings. Rick Warren has a lot to answer for, because millions of people are basing their lives upon his teaching rather than upon the pure Word of God.

If God is unconcerned about doctrine, why did the apostles spend so much time warning about false doctrines and doctrines of devils? See, for example, 2 Corinthians 11:1-4; Galatians 1:6-12; Philippians 3:18-21; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Peter 2; Jude 3-23.

Rick Warren requires his church members to sign a covenant promising to protect the unity of the church (The Purpose Driven Life, p. 167). This is a dangerous and unscriptural covenant. The child of God is not instructed to submit to a church or to its leaders blindly and at any cost. We are commanded to “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21), and all things means all things. The Bereans are exalted because they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). No preacher or church is above being tested by God’s Word. The Bible says, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge” (1 Cor. 14:29). Preaching is to be carefully judged by God’s Word. The pastor has God-given authority (Heb. 13:17), but it is not unquestionable authority and it is not his own authority; he is not a shepherd over his own flock; he is an undershepherd over God’s and he will give an account to the Great Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:1-4). The pastor’s authority is not in his own word; it is in God’s Word (Heb. 13:7); and if he strays from the Word of God he has no authority over God’s people and he should not be followed. Blind loyalty to a church is Popery and it is a gross heresy.

Warren even claims that “conflict is usually a sign that the focus has shifted to less important things” (p. 162).

If this were true, then the apostles and preachers in the early churches were side tracked much of the time, because they were frequently involved in doctrinal conflicts. Paul was involved in such conflicts almost continually. Many of his epistles contain lengthy sections in which he takes a stand against false teachers. In his epistles to his fellow preacher Timothy, Paul repeatedly warned about false teachers by name (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2:17-18; 4:12, 14).

WARREN PROMOTES HERETICS

In keeping with his unscriptural judge not philosophy, Warren uncritically quotes from a wide variety of theological heretics, especially Roman Catholics such as Mother Teresa, Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence (Carmelite monk), John Main (Benedictine monk who believes that Christ “is not limited to Jesus of Nazareth, but remains among us in the monastic leaders, the sick, the guest, the poor”), Madame Guyon (a Roman Catholic who taught that prayer is not from the mind and does not involve thinking), John of the Cross (a pantheist who believed the mountains and forests are God).

Warren does not warn his readers that these are dangerous false teachers who held to a false gospel.

Mother Teresa and Henri Nouwen, who are quoted at least four times in The Purpose Driven Life, were universalists who believed that men can be saved apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ. When Mother Teresa died, her longtime friend and biographer Naveen Chawla said that he once asked her bluntly, “Do you convert?” She replied, “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him” (“Mother Teresa Touched other Faiths,” Associated Press, Sept. 7, 1997). Henri Nouwen said, “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey).

Why does Rick Warren continually and non-critically promote heretics? The Bible asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

WARREN‘S SHALLOW ENCAPSULATIONS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT FAITH

On every hand Rick Warren presents his own shallow encapsulations as the true essence of biblical Christianity. For example, in chapter 39 he lists “God’s five purposes for your life.” They are (1) Love God with all your heart, (2) Love your neighbor as yourself, (3) Go and make disciples, (4) Baptize them into [a church], and (5) Teach them to do all things.

There is nothing in these “five purposes” about holiness, contending for the faith, separation from the world, separation from false teaching, reproving sin and error, and many other things that are emphasized in the New Testament Scriptures. Obviously Warren’s five purposes for life are not the sum total of God’s.

My friends, we don’t need some misguided man’s abbreviated form of Christianity; we need the “whole counsel of God” as found in the Scriptures (Acts 20:27). The Bible as a whole, not a few select parts thereof, is the sole and sufficient authority for faith and practice. The Lord Jesus Christ instructed the churches to teach “all things” rather than a few things (Mat. 28:19-20).

June 2017
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