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Category Archives: Discernment

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TEN CONTRASTS BETWEEN ENTERTAINERS AND LEADERS
By Joseph Mattera

There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a local church pastor, chief executive officer of a ministry or business, you are called to lead not entertain. Many do not understand the difference. If your primary goal is to make people happy, become an entertainer, not a leader. Leaders by nature should be on the cutting edge of God’s will, which challenges people to leave their comfort zones.

Often times this causes people to be upset with their leaders. The leader also should keep people accountable to standards of excellence. This becomes especially difficult when a leader is close friends or family with those aligned under their spiritual authority. Many do not understand how to discern between business and friendship, and it causes a rift in the relationship.

The following are ten contrasts between entertainers and leaders.

1. Entertainers primary goal is to make people happy. A leader’s goal is to empower/provoke people to excellence.

An entertainer’s primary focus in their ministry is to keep their people happy and satisfied. Sometimes folks are happy because they are comfortable and feel secure but their own hearts is deceiving them. A true leader’s primary goal is to disturb the comfortable and provoke them to excellence. For example if an athlete never pushed himself to the point of pain in his training, he will never excel. True leaders push their people to the perimeter of their potential in Christ.

2. Entertainers perform. Leaders lead.

Entertainers put all their effort into the public performance of their speaking, worship team, visual effects and appearance. They do not take a lot of time evaluating whether their followers are truly growing in Christ. A true leader cares about their public appearance, but puts more time focusing on bringing people into the promised land of their destinies.

3. Entertainers avoid disagreement at all costs. Leaders often provoke disagreement and discomfort.

Since entertainers crave affirmation because of their own lack of self-esteem, they will attempt to avoid strife and disagreement with their people. True leaders don’t really care so much about disagreement because their main motivation is to move people from passivity to purpose.

4. Entertainers gauge their success based on numbers. Leaders base their success on obedience to their assignment.

Entertainers count nickels and noses. It’s all about church attendance and offerings. If both are high then they are happy. True biblical leaders gauge their success on remaining faithful to the call of God upon their lives and organization. For example Jeremiah is considered one of the greatest prophets of all time, but yet he had only a few who believed him. He was not only rejected by his leaders and thrown into prison, he also died in exile.

Furthermore, when Isaiah received his mandate from God (Isaiah 6), God told him nobody would listen to him and the cities would eventually become desolate! John the Baptist only had a six month ministry and died in prison, yet Jesus called him the greatest person ever born of a woman (Matt. 11:11).

By today’s standards of success, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John the Baptist, to name a few, were very unsuccessful! Even Jesus only had one hundred and twenty true followers after more than three years of ministry (Acts 1). However, the true gauge of success in the kingdom is obedience to our assignments, not numbers.

5. Entertainers are popular with the mainstream. Leaders are often distained by the mainstream.

Entertainers always put their hand in the air to sense where the wind is blowing and then they will go in that direction. They are politicians who crave the vote of the majority, and care little about the holy minority. They will preach only what will receive the least resistance and will always stand on the edges of compromise so not to offend. It is not just what they say, but what they will not say that matters. (They will never say anything controversial when it comes to social and moral values.)

Leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill) speak the truth even when it could cost them their careers or their lives. When true leaders lead, they are often on the prophetic edge of what God is saying and only have “innovators and early adaptors” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are counter cultural.

6. Entertainers make people feel good. Leaders transform people.

Entertainers dream about how they can make people feel good. Leaders dream about how they can make disciples that will transform the world. Entertainers focus on attracting the crowds, leaders like Jesus, focus on the few that will eventually build a movement that will transform the world.

7. Entertainers long for acceptance. Leaders provoke respect.

Entertainers live to be loved and liked, while leaders primarily desire influence and respect. For example good parents are not always liked, but are respected by their children when they have to correct them because they have their best long-term interests in mind. Likewise, leaders understand that maintaining respect is more important to release the purpose of God then garnering social acceptance and likeability. Jesus wasn’t always liked and understood, but His followers (John 6:60-71) always respected him.

8. Entertainers are focused on the present. Leaders are focused on the future.

Entertainers are focused on making people feel happy in the moment. They base all their strategies around programs, hype, and visceral experiences that lift people’s souls. Leaders not only want to emotionally lift the souls of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls towards a divine trajectory.

9. Entertainers focus on their public persona. Leaders focus on their interior lives.

Many entertainers spend hours in front of the mirror practicing their public speaking, reviewing their body language and appearance. They focus primarily on their outward appearance so as to attract the most followers. In contrast, true leaders focus more on their interior lives and gives God space to transform their souls. They obey the words of Jesus who said to first cleanse the inside of the cup and then the outside will also be clean (Matt. 23:26).

10. Entertainers receive the accolades of men. Leaders receive their accolades from God.

At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they stand before God? In eternity it will be known that many loved the glory that come from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).

Leaders may not always be the most popular ones while they are alive, but they will be received into eternity with a rich reward and will eventually have the most influence on the earth with men.

The Seventh-Day Adventists — Christian or Cultic in Nature?
By David R. Reagan

The Seventh-Day Adventists are an anomaly. Evangelical Christians have never been comfortable with them, but they have been unable to decide whether the SDA is a legitimate expression of Christianity or whether it is a cult, like the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The majority view among contemporary cult-watchers is that it is a cult. But the most authoritative cult expert in modern Christian history, Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), decided in 1965 that “it is perfectly possible to be a Seventh-Day Adventist and be a true follower of Jesus Christ, despite heterodox concepts.”1 This conclusion caused a storm of controversy because Dr. Martin had earlier labeled the SDA a cult in his book published in 1955 called The Rise of the Cults.2

Yet, shortly before he died, Dr. Martin expressed conflicted second thoughts in a television interview:

“I fear that if they continue to progress at this rate, then the classification of a cult can’t possibly miss being reapplied to Seventh-Day Adventists because once you have an interpreter of Scripture, a final court of appeal that tells you what Scripture means — as soon as you judge Scripture by that, as soon as you have someone who has made doctrinal errors in the past, even on the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the atonement and on other things, and that person is raised to that position of authority, you have polarization around that person.”3

If Christendom’s foremost cult expert could not make up his mind about the status of the SDA, you can certainly understand why others have experienced equal difficulty. So, what about it? Does the SDA deserve the designation of a cult?

A Brief History
Let’s begin our consideration of this question by taking a brief look at the origin of the Seventh-Day Adventists.

The SDA Church is rooted in the Millerite Movement that swept the United States in the 1840’s. William Miller (1782-1849) was a New England Baptist preacher who developed a unique interpretation of Daniel 8:14.4

In the King James Version that passage reads: “And he [a saint] said unto me, ‘Unto 2,300 days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’” This is a prophecy about the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. But Miller applied it to the end times by converting the days into years. Assuming the prophecy was given in 457 BC, he calculated that Jesus would return 2,300 years later, sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. Incredibly, he interpreted the “cleansing of the sanctuary” to refer to the purging of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Jesus!

When March 21, 1844 came and passed, Miller recalculated the date for October 22, 1844. When nothing happened on that day, Miller’s followers became totally disillusioned. The whole experience was dubbed “The Great Disappointment.” Miller died in disgrace four years later.

But a small hard-core group of Millerites called “the little flock” continued to insist that the date had been correct. One of the group’s members, a man named Hiram Edson, claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus standing at the altar in Heaven, and he concluded that Miller had been right about the time, but wrong about the place. In other words, Jesus’ return was not to earth but to the Heavenly sanctuary as described in Hebrews 8:1-2. This strange idea was promoted by a retired sea captain and Millerite convert named Joseph Bates.5 One of his pamphlets greatly impressed a teenage Millerite girl named Ellen G. Harmon (1827-1915).

The Life of Ellen G. White
Ellen G. White -- SDA "Prophet"Ellen Harmon was the daughter of a family in Portland, Maine. In 1840, at age 12, she accepted Jesus as her Savior. She was baptized and received into the membership of the Methodist Church. Shortly thereafter, her parents began to attend Millerite meetings and became avid followers, confidently expecting the Lord to return in 1844.

In December of 1844, one month after “The Great Disappointment,” this 17 year old girl experienced a vision in which she saw Adventist believers being ushered into Heaven. Her vision was accepted by the Adventist group in Portland as “light from God.”16

In 1846, at age 19, Ellen married a young Adventist preacher named James White. Shortly after their marriage, they were introduced to a tract by Joseph Bates, a Seventh-Day Baptist. It convinced them of the sacredness of the Sabbath, and they began to observe Saturday as the Sabbath. Six months later, in April 1847, Ellen had a vision in which she was shown the Heavenly sanctuary with a halo light around the fourth commandment, establishing it in her mind as the most important of the Ten Commandments.7

In 1850 James and Ellen began publishing a magazine called The Review & Herald. Its purpose was to disseminate Adventist and Sabbatarian doctrines. Their publication was instrumental in helping the handful of remaining Millerites to coalesce into a distinctive group. In 1860 they adopted the name, Seventh-Day Adventist Church. They formally incorporated in 1863 with approximately 3,500 members located in 125 churches.8

Ellen White never held any official title as head of the church, but she was always acknowledged as its spiritual leader. She claimed to have the spirit of prophecy, and she claimed that her messages were directly from God.9 Here’s how she put it in her own words:

“I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision — the precious rays of light shining from the throne.”11

James White died in 1881, and in 1888 Ellen published her most famous book, The Great Controversy. Ellen White died in July 1915 at the age of 87. She and her husband are buried in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The Church Today
Today, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church claims to baptize 2,000 people a day. Church membership reached one million between 1955 and 1961, and it hit 5 million in 1986. At the turn of this century, the church claimed 10.7 million members worldwide. Approximately one million of those reside in the United States.12

Much of the phenomenal growth of the church in recent years has been due to the fact that the SDA has been on the cutting edge of media evangelism ever since 1929 when they launched a radio program called “Voice of Prophecy.” In 1956 they began broadcasting the first religious television program to air in color, called “It is Written.” The most effective media thrust began in 1965 as a radio program called “Amazing Facts.” In 1987 this program was converted into a television ministry, and in 1993 it was taken over by Doug Batchelor who has since become the most recognizable face among Adventists.13

Leading SDA SpeakerDoug Batchelor is a very gifted communicator who heads up a team of 12 evangelists who conduct media-spectacular prophecy conferences all across America. Doug’s television program, “Amazing Facts,” is broadcast on several national cable and satellite networks, including the Fox Family Channel, the Black Entertainment Network, the Inspirational Network, the National Network, super station KSBN (SafeTV), and the Three Angels Broadcasting Network. The estimated number of homes the program can now reach within the U.S. exceeds 100 million.14

The Three Angels Network, known as 3ABN, was founded in 1984. It provides a 24-hour satellite service that broadcasts the programs of all major Adventist ministries around the world. There is also a Three Angels Radio Network. Both of these networks are privately run as non-profits, and neither is an official arm of the SDA Church.15

Despite its phenomenal growth in recent years, the SDA has suffered some major internal disputes. One occurred in the 1970’s when Adventist pastors began to question some of the Church’s most cherished doctrines.16 The SDA hierarchy responded by becoming more entrenched in its unorthodox positions. This caused a number of pastors, and even entire congregations, to leave the SDA. Others were asked to leave.

An even greater shaking occurred in the 1980’s when one of the SDA’s leading theologians, Dr. Desmond Ford, prepared a 900 page doctrinal analysis in which he questioned the biblical validity of some of the Church’s most sacred dogmas. The SDA responded by removing Dr. Ford’s ministerial credentials.17 Two years later a book by Walter Rea was published which revealed that a great number of the writings of Ellen G. White were flagrantly plagiarized.18 This revelation undermined the faith of many who had accepted Ellen White as a prophet of God.

The reverberations continue to this day. In August 2005 Doug Batchelor sent out an email message in which he made an amazing admission:

“Literally thousands of Seventh-Day Adventists have fallen away from the church in recent years. According to the General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, in the past ten years alone, over 1.6 million people have requested that their SDA membership be dropped. The annual growth rate within the church has gone from approximately 6%, ten years ago, to a record low of 3.98%.”19

Distinctive Doctrines
There are two distinctive doctrines of the SDA.20 First and foremost is “The Investigative Judgment.”

This is the unbiblical concept that in 1844 Jesus entered “the second and last phase” of His atoning ministry — the work of investigative judgment. Instead of returning to earth on October 22, 1844, as William Miller predicted, Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven and began a review of the works of all believers who have ever lived to determine how faithful they were to the commandments of God. “Sins that have not been repented of and forsaken will not be pardoned and blotted out of the books of record, but will stand to witness against the sinner.”21

According to Ellen White, a person must believe this doctrine to be saved:

“All need a knowledge of the position [in the Holy of Holies] and work [investigative judgment] of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs for them to fill.”22

Twisting Bible Prophecy
There is absolutely no valid biblical basis for this bizarre doctrine. As pointed out earlier, it is based upon a misinterpretation and misapplication of Daniel 8:14. The prophecy concerns the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes (215-164 BC). It refers to a restoration of “the holy place” after it has been “trampled.” This occurred when Antiochus took Jerusalem in 167 BC and stopped the sacrifices in the Temple. This led to the Maccabean revolt which succeeded in reconquering Jerusalem. In 164 BC the Jews cleansed and rededicated the Temple. Hanukkah is the eight day festival celebrating this event.

Applying this prophecy to the Heavenly sanctuary is ridiculous. Since when has the Holy of Holies in Heaven ever been defiled or trampled down? Since when has it needed to be restored?

The prophecy also refers to a time period during which the “holy place” will remain desecrated. That time period is “2,300 evenings and mornings.” The King James version translates this to read “2,300 days.” William Miller converted these days into years. SDA teachers defend this conversion on the basis of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 where prophets were specifically told to interpret days in their prophecies as years. But those verses have no application to Daniel 8:14.

Perverting the Atonement
More significant is the fact that the whole concept of “investigative judgment” is unbiblical and contrary to the true Gospel as revealed in the New Testament. Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in Heaven immediately after His Ascension, and not in 1844 (Hebrews 1:3, 6:19-20, 8:1, 9:6-12, 24 and 12:2). His atoning work is not continuing in Heaven. It was finished on the Cross (John 19:30 and Romans 3:24-26). Jesus is currently serving as our High Priest before the Father’s throne (Hebrews 8:1-2).

Further, the Bible teaches that a believer’s sins are both forgiven and forgotten (Hebrews 8:12). Believers will never be subjected to a judgment of their works to determine their salvation (John 5:24 and Hebrews 9:28). There is no condemnation for the person who has placed his or her faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 8:1). The believer can be assured of salvation (1 John 5:13). As believers walk in faith, they experience a continual cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).

The concept of an “investigative judgment” is a blasphemy of the blood of Jesus because it asserts that His death on the Cross was insufficient to guarantee a believer’s salvation. Instead, Jesus must continue His atoning work by evaluating the works of each believer.

This whole concept is nothing but a thinly veiled form of works salvation. Think of it — the SDA member is taught that he can never be sure of his salvation until the judgment work of Jesus is completed and he is certified as one whose works validate his salvation. Here’s how Ellen White put it:

“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above, are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their character must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort, they must be conquerors in the battle with evil.”23

How could a true prophet of God speak such unbiblical words? The Bible says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Ellen White says salvation is by grace plus our own “diligent effort.” The Bible says Jesus will never cease being a believer’s mediator (Hebrews 7:25). Ellen White says that when believers stand before God to be judged, they will be “without a mediator.”

The bottom line regarding the pernicious doctrine of the “investigative judgment” is that it represents a desperate attempt to salvage an incorrect prophecy. William Miller was a sincere Baptist preacher who misinterpreted a biblical passage and inappropriately used it to set a date for the Lord’s return. When his prophecy failed, he took responsibility for his mistake and repented for all the grief and embarrassment he had caused. But his error led to the rise of a true false prophet who spiritualized Miller’s prophecy and then used that spiritualization to manufacture a doctrine that is alien to the Word of God.

Sabbatarianism
The other distinctive SDA doctrine is the one contained in the very name of the group — observance of the seventh day of the week (Saturday) as the Sabbath. Ellen White stated in her writings that observance of the Sabbath is the “greatest” of all the Ten Commandments:

“The pope has changed the day of rest from the seventh to the first day. He has thought to change the very commandment that was given to cause man to remember his Creator. He has thought to change the greatest commandment in the decalogue and thus make himself equal with God…”24

Did you notice that in this statement Ellen White directly contradicts Jesus? What did Jesus say when He was asked to identify the greatest commandment? He said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Ellen White believed so strongly in the necessity of Sabbath-keeping that she asserted that only Sabbath-keepers would be able to resist taking the Mark of the Beast in the end times.25 She truly believed and taught that Sabbath-keeping is a condition of salvation: “I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers.”25

The fact of the matter is that Sabbath-keeping was prescribed by God to the Jewish people. This law was never given to the Gentiles, nor was it given to the Church. The Law of Moses was nailed to the Cross (Colossians 2:14). The death of Jesus inaugurated a New Covenant — a covenant written on the heart (Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 9:15). In His teaching, Jesus emphasized nine of the Ten Commandments and expanded them in scope to apply to our thoughts as well as our actions (Matthew 5-7). He never commanded the Church to observe the Sabbath.

When the Church began to convert Gentiles, the issue arose as to how many of the laws of Judaism the Gentiles would be required to observe. For example, should Gentiles be required to submit to circumcision? The issue was so important that it prompted the convening of the first church council (Acts 15). At that council it was decided that Gentile converts should not be “troubled” with Jewish customs. They were simply told to “abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood” (Acts 15:20). If Sabbath-keeping was the most important of all commandments, why was it not mentioned?

There is ample evidence that the early Christians met on Sunday from the beginning in order to remember the Lord’s resurrection on that day. References to these meetings can be found in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2.

Furthermore, Romans 14 makes it very clear that Sabbath-keeping is no longer a law. In that chapter, Paul states that we have the freedom in Christ to give spiritual significance to any day — or not to do so. What we do not have the freedom to do is to condemn those who give spiritual emphasis to other days (than the ones we choose). Also, Colossians 2:16-17 teaches that the Sabbath was a shadow of things to come. The reality it pointed to was Jesus. Jesus is our Sabbath. We find our rest through faith in Him.27

The Seventh-Day Adventists have every right to worship on Saturday if they so please. What they have no right to do (but what they have always done and continue to do) is condemn those who choose to worship on Sunday.

Characteristics of a Cult
With this survey of the SDA as a basis, let’s return to our original question — Is the Church a legitimate expression of Christianity, or is it a cult?

Let’s begin by defining a cult. You will find dictionary definitions to be so broad and bland as to include “a particular system of religious worship.”28 I prefer to give the term a more technical meaning. To me, a cult is a religious group that masquerades as being Christian. It employs Christian terms, quotes the Bible, and uses Christian symbols. But it is not a true expression of the Christian faith because it teaches a false Jesus or a false Gospel or both.29

1. The Identity of Jesus
First and foremost is the group’s concept of Jesus. Our salvation depends upon our relationship with Jesus — the true Jesus of Nazareth who revealed Himself to the world as God in the flesh (John 14:9-11). There is salvation in no other person (Acts 4:10-12). There is salvation in no other way except through Jesus (John 14:6).

Cults are notorious for presenting a false Jesus. Reverend Sun Myung Moon claims to be the Messiah himself. The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim Jesus is the Archangel Michael. The Mormons view Jesus as one of many gods created by the super-god whom they believe is an exalted man.

We can be wrong about many things, but if we are right about Jesus, we can be saved. Likewise, we can be right about many things, but if we are wrong about Jesus, we can be lost. To be saved, we must put our faith in Jesus — the Jesus revealed in the Word of God (John 17:3).

The official creedal statement of the SDA concerning Jesus is very orthodox. He is affirmed as being part of the Trinity, and He is declared to be God in the flesh. His death, resurrection, ascension and second coming are all confirmed. His atoning sacrifice is endorsed. The only unbiblical information about Jesus in the SDA creed is a statement about His ministry in the Heavenly sanctuary — the so-called “investigative judgment.” But this does not affect the personal identity of Jesus.

So, on the surface, the SDA appears to pass the first and most important test. The disturbing problem is that the many Internet websites run by former SDA members all assert that behind the scenes the SDA teaches that Jesus is the Archangel Michael.30 This is the teaching of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but unlike the JWs, the SDA also teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh. Further, the SDA teaches that the title, Archangel, does not mean that Jesus was an angel. Rather, it means He was the “chief over the angels.”

This is all very confusing. The more I have studied it, the more convinced I have become that the SDA quietly talks about Jesus being the Archangel Michael because that was the teaching of Ellen G. White,31 but officially and publicly the Church has endorsed the orthodox view of Jesus. It would be refreshing if the SDA would simply drop all the double talk and unequivocally state that Jesus was God in the flesh.

There has been a similar doctrinal shift with regard to the Trinity. Many early Adventists were not Trinitarian. The official SDA hymnal published from 1941 until 1985 reflected ambivalence about the Trinity. For example, the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” which says, “God in three Persons, blessed Trinity,” was changed to read, “God overall who rules eternally.”32 Today, the creedal statement of the SDA affirms the orthodox view of the Trinity.

2. The Nature of the Gospel
The second characteristic of a cult is the proclamation of a false Gospel. Cults always end up teaching some form of works salvation. This usually leads to the production of a list of “dos and don’ts” which are then rigidly and legalistically enforced by the cult leaders. This is the area where the SDA begins to definitely fail the test.

As I have demonstrated, the SDA teaches a form of works salvation. Instead of asserting that we are saved by grace through faith, they claim we are saved by faith plus works that satisfy the “investigative judgment” plus Sabbath observance. That is not the Gospel of the New Testament, and Paul says that “even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).

3. The Type of Leadership
A third characteristic of a cult is that it is based upon a charismatic founder who considers himself to be either the true Messiah or the last prophet of God. Classic examples are Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormons, and Sun Myung Moon, the leader of the Moonies.

The SDA certainly bears this characteristic since it was founded by a person who claimed to be a messenger of God. The SDA affirms this in its official creedal statement, section 17, entitled “The Gift of Prophecy:”

“One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.”33

This is a serious matter since the writings of Ellen G. White are full of biblical errors, inaccurate prophecies, and downright silly commandments. Also, much of her writing is plagiarized.

Her biblical contradictions are extensive in nature. She asserted that the plan of salvation was an afterthought of God following the sin of Adam, whereas the Bible says it was preordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-20). She claimed that pre-flood humans mated with animals and produced a sub-human species that was destroyed by the flood. There is no mention of this in the Bible. In fact, the Bible asserts that animals can reproduce only according to their kind (Genesis 1:24-25). Ellen White also wrote that the tower of Babel was built before the flood; that angels (rather than ravens) fed Elijah; that Paul learned the Gospel from men rather than Jesus; that the seal of God is the Sabbath instead of the Holy Spirit; and that we can know the date of the Lord’s return.34

Ellen White’s inaccurate prophecies are also well documented. She endorsed William Miller’s prophecy that Jesus would return in 1844. She proclaimed that salvation for all sinners ended in 1844 when Jesus supposedly entered the Heavenly sanctuary. This was called “the shut door” doctrine. It was conveniently abandoned in 1850. She prophesied that some who were alive in 1856 would live to see the Lord’s return. She predicted that England would enter the Civil War. She claimed she would be one of the 144,000 saints who would be living when Jesus returned. In 1850 she rebuked Bible scholars who were predicting an end time return of the Jews to Israel. She proclaimed that “Old Jerusalem will never be built up.”35

Ellen G. White pontificated about every aspect of life in her writings, and most of her non-biblical comments are an embarrassment today. She wrote that “drug medication… is a curse.” She stated that using medical doctors was a dishonor to God. She denounced the eating of eggs, milk, cream, and butter. In fact, she stated that eating eggs would make your prayer life useless! She spent most of her life advocating a vegetarian diet even though she ate meat herself. She forbid the drinking of tea and coffee and the eating of mustard, pepper, pickles and cinnamon. She put a ban on card playing, chess, and checkers, saying that such games “open the door for great evil.” Picnics and parties were condemned. Tennis, cricket, baseball, and bike riding were labeled “species of idolatry.”36

And these are only a few of her many commandments. Keep in mind this is a woman who claimed to speak for God and who had the audacity to proclaim, “There is one straight chain of truth without one heretical sentence in that which I have written.”37

4. The Source of Authority
The fourth characteristic of a cult is that there are always some extra-biblical writings that are considered to be equal to or superior to the Bible. The Mormons have their Book of Mormon and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have their own eccentric and highly inaccurate “translation” of the Bible. The Children of God look to the letters of their founder, Moses David (David Berg). The proclamations of Herbert W. Armstrong and Reverend Moon have been considered holy and infallible by their followers.

What is the status of Ellen G. White’s writings among members of the SDA? This is a difficult question to answer. The official creedal statement affirms the Bible as “the infallible revelation of experience, the authoritative revealer of doctrines, and the trustworthy record of God’s acts in history.” The statement also says “the Bible is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested.”38

But all these orthodox declarations about the Bible are qualified by the creedal statement that the writings of Ellen G. White “are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.”39

It is confusing, to say the least. What makes it even more so are the many statements by SDA leaders and pastors that leave the clear impression that Ellen White’s writings are considered to be on a level with Scripture:40

“I believe… Mrs. White’s writings are the world’s only inspired Bible commentary.”
— E. E. Cleveland, one time Secretary of the General Conference.

“She did one of the greatest works that I have ever known since John the Revelator. She’s to me one of the greatest prophets that have ever lived. Why? Because she had the same gift that Daniel had…”
— Stanley Harris, SDA pastor.

“Ellen White reinterprets Daniel for our time. And because I fully believe and am convinced that God spoke to and through Ellen White, I accept her writings 100%… I accept her as an inspired writer.”
— Raymond F. Cottrell in a talk to the Association of Adventist Forums. Dr. Cottrell was the former editor of the Adventist Review and served as a collaborator on the Seventh Day Adventist Bible Commentary series.

In 1928 the SDA issued an official position paper on the writings of Ellen G. White. It said, “As Samuel was a prophet of Israel for his day, as Jeremiah was a prophet of Israel in the days of captivity, as John the Baptist came as a special messenger of the Lord to prepare the way for Christ’s coming, so we believe that Mrs. White was a prophet to the Church of Christ today.”41

In the October 1981 issue of the SDA Ministry Magazine, the following statement was made about the writings of Ellen White: “We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other.”41

In recent years, the status of Ellen White’s writings has been a source of constant internal debate and strife. This conflict motivated the current president of the SDA, Jan Paulsen, to make the following statement at the May 2002 General Conference:

“A further word needs to be said about our being ‘loyal to our heritage and to our identity.’ Some would have us believe that there have been significant shifts in recent times in regard to doctrines that historically have been at the heart of Seventh-Day Adventism.

The historic sanctuary message [‘investigative judgment’], based on Scripture and supported by the writings of Ellen White, continues to be held unequivocally. And the inspired authority on which these and other doctrines are based, namely the Bible, supported by the writings of Ellen White, continue to be the hermeneutical foundation on which we as a church place all matters of faith and conduct. Let no one think there has been a change of position in regard to this.”42

Notice carefully the wording, “the Bible, supported by the writings of Ellen White.” Does the Bible really need the affirmation of an external, human writer? I think this statement makes it clear that to this day the leadership of the SDA considers the writings of Ellen G. White to be on a par with the Scriptures, and that is clearly a cultic characteristic.

5. Attitude Toward Others
A fifth characteristic of cults is their exclusivistic and sectarian attitude. They always view themselves as God’s only true church and refuse to have anything to do with other Christian groups. They also tend to be secretive in nature — as evidenced by the secret temple rites of the Mormons.

Once again, the SDA fits the bill. In her early writings, Ellen G. White condemned Christendom as “Babylon” and asserted that the SDA was the “Remnant Church.” As recently as their 2000 worldwide General Conference meeting they passed a resolution affirming this belief. They continue to refer to other Christians as “apostate Protestants,” “Babylon,” “Sunday-keepers,” or “sheep that have not yet come into the fold.”43 A former Adventist has expressed it this way:

“Adventists are taught from childhood that they are God’s only true church on earth and that they are God’s remnant people. They are taught that they have the “truth” and all other Christians are wrong and are apostate.”44

SDA leaders have toned down their public statement of these sentiments in recent years because of their desire to gain acceptance as a legitimate expression of Christianity. Another motive has been the desire to gain access to Christian television and radio networks. Their strategy has worked, but the change in attitude is only cosmetic in nature.

Although the SDA operates much more openly than do the Mormons and JWs, they are still characterized by a commitment to secrecy when it comes to interacting with the public. This is manifested in the way they try to hide their identity when attempting to communicate with non-members.

None of their media ministries identify themselves as being affiliated with the SDA. When one of their prophecy seminars comes to town, the area’s mailboxes will be flooded with beautiful, eye-catching, full color brochures that never reveal any SDA connection. The seminars are always held at a neutral site like a hotel ballroom, and they literally sneak up on the audience with their SDA doctrines. Here is how a participant has described the experience:

“Their prophecy seminars take you through a very well developed prophetic scenario, amazingly illustrated and convincing. They give you lots of free stuff to keep you coming night after night. Then, on the last night, the real agenda appears — they reveal the secret, coded, ‘scriptural’ information: all those who reject Sabbath worship will receive the ‘Mark of the Beast.’”45

Their publications do not reveal their SDA origin or affiliation. Either the publisher is not identified or the publisher is a non-descript entity like “Pacific Press” or “Pilgrims’ Press.” Ellen White’s most famous book, The Great Controversy, is often distributed under the title, America in Prophecy. And her name on the title page is often printed as “E. G. White.” This is obviously done to hide her gender and to keep her from being easily recognized.

Since beginning my in-depth research on the SDA, I have gotten on several of their mailing lists. I recently received a mailing from their number one media outlet, Amazing Facts. The mailing encouraged me to distribute a video called “The Final Events of Bible Prophecy.” It gave detailed instructions about how to go door-to-door in an effort to convince all my neighbors to watch this propaganda piece.

Part E of the instructions was entitled, “Addressing Denominational Questions.” I was told that if I were asked, “What church are you with?” I was to reply: “I am representing Amazing Facts, a Christian ministry that provides Bible study resources for people of all different faiths. My goal is to encourage others to read the Bible and learn how to find God.”46 In short, do not reveal that you are in any way related to the SDA! This is deception, pure and simple.

6. The Type of Governance
The sixth and final characteristic of a cult relates to governance. The cults tend to be authoritarian, dictatorial, and sometimes even totalitarian. Someone at the top — either an individual or a collective group — calls all the shots. The classic example of this trait can be found among the Mormons and JWs.

The SDA does not appear to be as controlling as these groups, but there is little tolerance for divergent views or independent thought. The fate of Dr. Desmond Ford, mentioned earlier, is a good example of how rigid the SDA is with regard to doctrine.47

Christian or Cultic?
So, where does this leave us? Is the SDA a cult or not? I have proposed six tests. The SDA failed all but one of them — the one concerning the identity of Jesus. And there are serious questions about that one.

I am convinced that Walter Martin declassified the SDA as a cult in 1965 because he became convinced that they had an orthodox view of Jesus. To him, that was the acid test. I would agree that it is the most important one, but the group’s perverted concept of the Gospel must be ranked as almost equal in importance because of Paul’s warning in Galatians 1:8-9.

I therefore must conclude that the SDA should be considered a cult until they are willing to repudiate the “Investigative Judgment” doctrine and are willing to clearly state that the Bible, and not the writings of Ellen G. White, is their final authority in all matters.

After I concluded this essay, I decided to contact Dr. Ron Carlson, the man who is considered to be Christendom’s foremost expert on the cults today. I asked him for a statement about the SDA, and this is what he wrote in response:

“As you may know, Walter Martin was my mentor and dear friend for 20 years and spoke at my ordination. I was to have lunch with him the day he died in 1989.

Walter had a real influence on many of the SDA leaders in the 70’s and early 80’s seeking to move them to a Biblical position. Many were, and there was hope for the SDA Church.

What has happened in the last 20 years is that nearly 50% of the SDA pastors and leaders who were seeking to move it to an evangelical position have all been ‘kicked’ out or left the SDA. The people who are now in control have moved the organization back to following the teachings of Ellen G. White and denying some basic doctrines of Biblical Christianity. In fact, their official position is that if you do not worship on Saturday you are not a Christian and will not go to Heaven. Sunday worship is the mark of the beast. They are clearly today a false Cult.”48

Notes

  1. Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults (Bethany House, 1965), p. 517.
  2. Walter Martin, The Rise of the Cults (Zondervan, 1955).
  3. Walter Martin, Appearance on the John Ankerberg TV show in January 1985,
    www.macgregorministries.org/seventh_day_adventists/sda_facts.html, p. 10 (01/02/2006).
  4. For a detailed article about William Miller see William Miller: The Sincerely Deceived Prophet by David R. Reagan, (05/16/2006).
  5. Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM), “The History of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church,” www.carm.org/sda/history.htm, p. 1 (02/04/ 2006).
  6. Arthur L. White, “Ellen G. White: A Brief Biography,”
    www.white estate.org/about/egwbio.asp, p. 2 (02/23/2006).
  7. Ibid.
  8. Melton, J. Gordon , Encyclopedia of American Religion, Volume 2, (McGrath Publishing Co., 1978) p. 681.
  9. Dr. Michael E. Todd, “Truth or Fable? Ellen G. White and the Seventh-Day Adventist Movement,” www.biblebelievers.com/SDA/ SDA1.html, p. 13 (02/ 23/2006).
  10. Maurice Barnett, “Ellen G. White and Inspiration” (Gospel Anchor Publishing Co., 1983) pp. 5-17.
  11. Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, (Review & Herald, 1980) p. 27.
  12. Wikipedia, “Seventh-Day Adventist Church,”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seventh-Day_Adventist, p. 7 (12/30/2005).
  13. Answers.com, “Seventh-Day Adventists,”
    www.answers.com/topic/seventh-day-adventist-church, pp. 3-4 (01/02/2006).
  14. Doug Batchelor, “The Story of Amazing Facts,” flyer produced by Amazing Facts, Inc., P.O. Box 1058, Roseville, CA 95678. Further information can be found at www.amazingfacts.org.
  15. Answers.com, p. 4.
  16. Geoffrey J. Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism (Baker Books, 1984).
  17. Good News Unlimited, “Des Ford,” www.goodnewsunlimited.org/bioford.cfm.
  18. Walter T. Rea, The White Lie (M & R Publishers, 1982). For a good summary of the evidence of plagiarism presented by this book, see the article by Walter Rea entitled “Ellen G. White: Prophet or Plagiarist?” www.bible.ca/7-WL-exhibits-Great-Contro.htm (02/26/2006).
  19. Email message dated August 17, 2005 from Amazing Facts Ministry.
  20. A detailed analysis of SDA doctrines can be found in the book, The Cultic Doctrine of the Seventh-Day Adventists (Life Assurance Ministries, 1996). This book was written by a former SDA pastor, Dale Ratzlaff.
  21. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Pacific Press, 1950), pp. 480-488.
  22. Ibid., pp. 488-489.
  23. Ibid., p. 425.
  24. Ellen G. White, Early Writings (Review & Herald, 1963), p. 65.
  25. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 605.
  26. Ellen G. White, Early Writings, pp. 32-33.
  27. For an excellent discussion of the Sabbath issue, see: CARM. “Does the Bible allow Christians to worship on Sunday?” www.carm.org/sda/sunday.htm (02/04/2006).
  28. The American College Dictionary (Random House, 1967).
  29. For more detailed information about cults, see The Deception of the Cults by Dr. David R. Reagan, (05/16/2006).
  30. See, for example, SDA Outreach, “Jesus is not Michael the Archangel,”
    www.sdaoutreach.org/Home/Articles/JesusisNotMichael/tabid/482/Default.aspx (05/13/2006).
  31. Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Review & Herald, 1958), p. 761: “Jesus was revealed to them as the Angel of Jehovah, the Captain of the Lord’s Host, Michael the Archangel.”
  32. SDA Outreach, “Jesus is not Michael the Archangel.”
  33. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, “Fundamental Beliefs,”
    www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html (05/14/2006).
  34. Dr. Michael E. Todd, “Truth or Fable? Ellen G. White Contradicts the Bible,” www.biblebelievers.com/SDA/SDA1.html (02/23/2006).
  35. “Ellen G. White’s Failed Prophecy,” www.bible.ca/7-prophecy-blunders.htm, pp. 1-6 (02/23/2006).
  36. The Ellen White Research Project, “Thus Saith Ellen White: The Rules and Regulations of Ellen White,” www.ellenwhite.org/egw30.htm, pp. 1-15 (05/13/ 2006).
  37. Dr. Michael E. Todd, “Truth or Fable?” www.biblebelievers.com/SDA/SDA1.html, p. 2 (02/23/2006).
  38. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, “Fundamental Beliefs.” See #32 above.
  39. Ibid.
  40. The Interactive Bible, “Seventh-Day Adventists: They alone view Ellen G. White as an inspired prophet!” www.bible.ca/7-WhiteInspire.htm, pp. 5-9 (02/ 23/2006).
  41. Ibid.
  42. MacGregor Ministries, “Facts Seventh-Day Adventists Won’t Tell You,”
    www.macgregorministries.org/seventh-day-adventists/sda-facts.html, p. 2 (01/02/2006).
  43. Jan Paulsen, “Perspectives on Issues Facing the World Seventh-Day Adventist Church,” Adventist Review, May 2002.
  44. SDA Outreach, “Frequently Asked Questions about Seventh-Day Adventism,”
    www.sdaoutreach.org/Home/FAQ/tabid/61/Default.aspx, p. 3 (01/ 02/ 2006).
  45. Email message to the author from Tim Osterholm dated 01/16/2006.
  46. Amazing Facts, “Inside Report,” Jan/Feb 2006, p. 18.
  47. Good News Unlimited, “Des Ford,” see #17 above.
  48. Email message to the author from Ron Carlson in May 2006.###

Original Article: http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-seventh-day-adventists/

Dr. David R. Reagan is the founder of Lamb & Lion Ministries and serves as its Senior Evangelist. He holds several graduate and postgraduate degrees, has authored numerous books and widely published essays and papers, and is the host of the weekly television program, Christ in Prophecy, broadcast nationally and internationally on seven Christian networks, reaching hundreds of millions of viewers around the world.

[Editor’s Note: SDA’s also espouse unscriptural strict dietary beliefs to include vegetarianism, as well as strange doctrines regarding blood and the preservation of the body postmortem based on their unorthodox doctrines concerning judgment, all of which have been problematic in the operations and management of the fairly extensive network of denomination-owned hospitals. These issues are particularly important now relative to longtime SDA member 2016 Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, whose primary base of operations during his lengthy career as neurosurgeon prior to his retirement was in the SDA’s hospital system.]

[Update—12-03-15: In a Washington Post interview, 2016 Presidential candidate Ben Carson states he does not believe in Hell and that it is a literal place. He also stated he does not believe in the concept of the “Rapture,” considered by most Christian theologians to be an orthodox Biblical doctrine, though several differing views regarding its timing exist. Read Charisma article.]

10 Differences Between Real Pastors and Hyped-Up Entertainers
By Joseph Mattera

There is a great tendency in human nature to crave the affirmation of other human beings. With some people, their need for affirmation is so great it hinders their ability to discern between the will of God and the will of man. What is more alarming is the fact that those who lead churches and Christian organizations are not exempt from this tendency.

The fact of the matter is, if you are a local church pastor, chief executive officer of a ministry or business, you are called to lead not entertain. Many do not understand the difference. If your primary goal is to make people happy, become an entertainer, not a leader. Leaders by nature should be on the cutting edge of God’s will, which challenges people to leave their comfort zones.

Often times this causes people to be upset with their leaders. The leader also should keep people accountable to standards of excellence. This becomes especially difficult when a leader is close friends or family with those aligned under their spiritual authority. Many do not understand how to discern between business and friendship, and it causes a rift in the relationship.

The following are ten contrasts between entertainers and leaders:

1. Entertainers’ primary goal is to make people happy. A leader’s goal is to empower/provoke people to excellence.

An entertainer’s primary focus in their ministry is to keep their people happy and satisfied. Sometimes folks are happy because they are comfortable and feel secure but their own hearts are deceiving them. A true leader’s primary goal is to disturb the comfortable and provoke them to excellence. For example, if an athlete never pushed himself to the point of pain in his training, he will never excel. True leaders push their people to the perimeter of their potential in Christ.

2. Entertainers perform. Leaders lead.

Entertainers put all their effort into the public performance of their speaking, worship team, visual effects and appearance. They do not take a lot of time evaluating whether their followers are truly growing in Christ. A true leader cares about their public appearance, but puts more time focusing on bringing people into the promised land of their destinies.

3. Entertainers avoid disagreement at all costs. Leaders often provoke disagreement and discomfort.

Since entertainers crave affirmation because of their own lack of self-esteem, they will attempt to avoid strife and disagreement with their people. True leaders don’t really care so much about disagreement because their main motivation is to move people from passivity to purpose.

4. Entertainers gauge their success based on numbers. Leaders base their success on obedience to their assignment.

Entertainers count nickels and noses. It’s all about church attendance and offerings. If both are high then they are happy. True biblical leaders gauge their success on remaining faithful to the call of God upon their lives and organization. For example Jeremiah is considered one of the greatest prophets of all time, but yet he had only a few who believed him. He was not only rejected by his leaders and thrown into prison, he also died in exile.

Furthermore, when Isaiah received his mandate from God (Isaiah 6), God told him nobody would listen to him and the cities would eventually become desolate! John the Baptist only had a six month ministry and died in prison, yet Jesus called him the greatest person ever born of a woman (Mat. 11:11).

By today’s standards of success, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and John the Baptist, to name a few, were very unsuccessful! Even Jesus only had one hundred and twenty true followers after more than three years of ministry (Acts 1). However, the true gauge of success in the kingdom is obedience to our assignments, not numbers.

5. Entertainers are popular with the mainstream. Leaders are often disdained by the mainstream.

Entertainers always put their hand in the air to sense where the wind is blowing and then they will go in that direction. They are politicians who crave the vote of the majority, and care little about the holy minority. They will preach only what will receive the least resistance and will always stand on the edges of compromise so not to offend. It is not just what they say, but what they will not say that matters. (They will never say anything controversial when it comes to social and moral values.)

Leaders (like Dr. Martin Luther King and Winston Churchill) speak the truth even when it could cost them their careers or their lives. When true leaders lead, they are often on the prophetic edge of what God is saying and only have “innovators and early adopters” as their followers. It is easy to go with the mainstream, difficult to swim upstream; leaders swim upstream and are countercultural.

6. Entertainers make people feel good. Leaders transform people.

Entertainers dream about how they can make people feel good. Leaders dream about how they can make disciples that will transform the world. Entertainers focus on attracting the crowds, leaders like Jesus, focus on the few that will eventually build a movement that will transform the world.

7. Entertainers long for acceptance. Leaders provoke respect.

Entertainers live to be loved and liked, while leaders primarily desire influence and respect. For example, good parents are not always liked, but are respected by their children when they have to correct them because they have their best long-term interests in mind. Likewise, leaders understand that maintaining respect is more important to release the purpose of God than garnering social acceptance and likeability. Jesus wasn’t always liked and understood, but His followers (John 6:60-71) always respected him.

8. Entertainers are focused on the present. Leaders are focused on the future.

Entertainers are focused on making people feel happy in the moment. They base all their strategies around programs, hype, and visceral experiences that lift people’s souls. Leaders not only want to emotionally lift the souls of others, they want to transform the lifestyle of people’s souls towards a divine trajectory.

9. Entertainers focus on their public persona. Leaders focus on their interior lives.

Many entertainers spend hours in front of the mirror practicing their public speaking, reviewing their body language and appearance. They focus primarily on their outward appearance so as to attract the most followers. In contrast, true leaders focus more on their interior lives and give God space to transform their souls. They obey the words of Jesus who said to first cleanse the inside of the cup and then the outside will also be clean (Matt. 23:26).

10. Entertainers receive the accolades of men. Leaders receive their accolades from God.

At the end of the day, entertainers may go down in history as being popular with men, but what will the verdict be when they stand before God? In eternity it will be known that many loved the glory that comes from men more than the glory that comes from God (John 12:43).

Leaders may not always be the most popular ones while they are alive, but they will be received into eternity with a rich reward and will eventually have the most influence on the earth with men.

Open Letter to Tony Campolo
By Michael L. Brown, PhD

Dear Tony,
Dr. Tony CampoloIn the spirit of your public statement released yesterday, urging churches to welcome same-sex couples, I’m writing this open letter to you, appealing to you to reconsider your decision before you bring further reproach to the gospel and hurt those you want to help.

Like you, I’m a professor as well as a gospel preacher, and I have always appreciated your willingness to tackle controversial issues, not caring who you will offend, willing to rock the boat and unsettle Christians from their cozy and safe belief systems if you felt it was in the interest of truth and justice.

This time, however, you have offended the Lord, rejecting the clear testimony of His Word and – as could be expected, given your stance – not citing a single scripture in support of your new position.

I know that your wife Peggy has long been an out and proud advocate of same-sex “marriage” and that, for a number of years, you have believed that it is impossible for a person to change his or her sexual orientation. You have even explored the possibility of non-sexual, church-blessed, romantic same-sex relationships. Now, you have taken the inevitable next step in giving your full backing to practicing homosexual couples, calling on the church to support and embrace them.

May I ask, Tony, what it was that stopped you from embracing this position years ago? Was it not the clear and unambiguous testimony of the Bible?

Surely your emotions wanted you to embrace same-sex couples.

Surely your compassion wanted you to put your arms around a gay college student and tell him that following Jesus did not preclude him from having an intimate relationship with another man.

Yet you were held back by the teaching of Scripture, knowing that God’s Word emphatically states that God created men for women and women for men, that marriage, in its divinely intended form, was the lifelong union of a man and a woman, and that homosexual practice was strictly forbidden in all circumstances.

When did any of that change? When did the Bible suddenly become unclear on the subject? As a gay atheist wrote last month in the aftermath of Ireland’s vote to redefine marriage, “the conservative Catholic’s only proper response to news such as that from Dublin . . . is that 62 per cent in a referendum does not cause a sin in the eyes of God to cease to be a sin.”

What a terrible shame it is that a gay atheist has clearer moral boundaries and better biblical instincts than you, dear sir.

I believe you when you say you’ve heard all the biblical arguments on the subject and I don’t doubt that, “It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.”

And I recognize that it may be too late for any of us to reach you at this juncture in your life (are you really 80 already?). Still, I join my voice with others, in the spirit of James 5:19-20, and urge you to recognize that you are committing a grave sin against the Lord, against His church, and against your LGBT friends by espousing this new position. In fact, you are now complicit in the potential deception and destruction of both believers and unbelievers alike.

You say it was your reflection on the meaning of marriage that ultimately brought about your change of heart, but can you really pick up your Bible and tell the world that there is a single verse that supports the “marriage” of two men or two women? Are you really willing to preside at a wedding ceremony and say, “I now pronounce you husband and husband” (or, wife and wife)? And in your heart of hearts, do you honestly believe that God designed a man to be with a man (or vice versa) and that when a gay couple comes together in the act of sodomy, that their intimacy now sanctifies that forbidden practice?

Tony, when same-sex couples read the Word, what do they do with verses like, “Wives, submit to your husbands” and “Husbands, love your wives” (Ephesians 5:24-25)? Which one is the husband and which the wife? What do you (and they) do with the fact that there is not one single positive reference to homosexuality in the Bible and, no matter how “inclusive” churches might be, gay couples must live with that reality (not to mention the reality that every reference to homosexual practice is condemned in the strongest of terms)?

You wrote, “When we sing the old invitation hymn, ‘Just As I Am’, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too.”

But it is true for them, just like the rest of us: We come to Jesus in our brokenness and sin, and He transforms us by His grace, just like He transformed (rather than affirmed) the tax collectors and prostitutes of His day.

As for the possibility of change, I personally know former homosexuals who experienced true change in their sexual orientation (either by the power of the gospel, counseling, or both), while I know others who experienced no change in their orientation but who are committed, nonetheless, to follow the Lord, living blessed and joyful celibate lives, declaring to the world that Jesus is enough.

I absolutely join you in calling on the church to have a heart of compassion for those who identify as LGBT, and I join you in urging us to reach out to the marginalized and disenfranchised. May we all emulate our Savior in this regard.

But under no circumstances can I join you in your apostasy from God’s Word in terms of the meaning of marriage and the standards of sexual morality, and I pray that our Lord would have mercy on you (and Peggy) and grant you repentance.

With your typical candor, you stated that, “I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about” the position you are now espousing.

You are wrong, dear sir, and unless you were absolutely 100% sure of the scriptural truth of your position, you would have done far more good to keep silent than to speak. That would have been the least we could have asked for a leader of your stature.

As it is, however, you have a taught an important (and cautionary) lesson to many others: If you play too close to the edge, eventually you will fall in.

Should you wish to dialogue with me in private or in a public setting, my door remains wide open.###

Source: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/50039-an-open-letter-to-tony-campolo

[Editor’s note: Our beliefs and response to this clear case of apostasy by a prominent Evangelical/Baptist professor and author is and would be (if we were to write such an open letter) much stronger than Dr. Brown’s, and his response falls far short of our sentiments. Our assumption, though we wouldn’t purport to speak for him, is that Dr. Brown’s assumption in the writing of this letter of appeal that Dr. Campolo’s apostasy is not yet so “seared in (his) conscience” that he is incapable of reconsidering his position and recent statements. Perhaps this somewhat muted approach is the result of Dr. Brown seasoning the matter with Godly grace and mercy, which would be laudable, but our sense is that even if Dr. Campolo chooses to walk back his comments, it will only be due to the hue and cry his statement engendered, and not due to a genuine change of heart. In other words, we think, Campolo’s views are indeed seared in his conscience already and have been for quite some time. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.]

IS “GRAVE SUCKING” ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF “CHARISMANIA”?
By Joseph Mattera

grave-sucking

There is something gaining more attention in some circles of the charismatic world called “grave sucking”.

Evidently, this refers to the practice of a believer going to the grave of a departed saint they revere (for example, Charles Finney or Kathryn Kuhlman) and lay on top of it and/or kneel in front of it so they can receive an impartation of the anointing (or mantle) of the departed saint.

This is nothing new. I heard several decades ago that Benny Hinn supposedly visited the gravesite of evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman to get her healing anointing. I also heard recently that a respected prophetic teacher I know visited the grave of Charles Finney (19th century revivalist) and had a tremendous experience with God as He renewed his vision and call to revive America. (Not sure this one exactly fits in the same category or that this leader would consider his experience “grave sucking”.) [We’re pretty sure by that leader’s explanation that it does NOT fit in the same category and that he does not consider his experience “grave sucking.” —Editor]

Also, regarding the possible connection between a manifestation of God at the grave of a departed saint, there is a story in 2 Kings 13:20-22 in which a person came back to life after he was inadvertently thrown into the grave of Elisha the prophet and happened to touch his bones!

While I am sure there are many well-intentioned and even some effective ministers who practice “grave sucking,” I have serious concerns regarding it. [We do not share this view that any ministers who practice it are well-intentioned or that they are “effective ministers,” except for the kingdom of darkness. One of the “effective ministers” the author is no doubt referring to is the New Age Neo-Charismatic leader of Bethel Church, Redding, CA, Bill Johnson, whose endorsement and encouragement of the practice was recently addressed in SLM. —Editor]

Before I list these concerns I want to say up front that I appreciate the fact that there is now more and more respect for church history. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-2 teaches us that the present day church is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses; this refers to the saints who have passed on to glory before us. This means that the church of the past is connected to the present and future church and that the First Testament saints are part of the New Testament church!

To be fair, I think any time we come face to face with a significant historical artifact, it can have a profound effect on us because the reality of the biblical or historical story becomes more real. This is why we visit museums; this is why many people are greatly affected when they visit one of the death camps of the Nazi Jewish Holocaust and why many Christians go to Israel and are blessed. It is an amazing experience to see firsthand the land of the Bible and to physically see the places where the saints of old walked with God.

I am sure that if I visited the grave of one of my heroes like Finney, Calvin or Luther, I would be greatly blessed. Not because their anointing is still in the grave but because the physical marker (their graves) may aid me in believing and remembering their lives and legacies, which could open me up by faith to go to another level with God. If that is all these so called “grave suckers” are doing then I am fine with it.

However, this is not the impression I am getting from what I have heard.

The following are seven concerns I have about grave sucking:

1. It distracts from the true power source of our anointing.

The Word of God is clear that the true source of our anointing is from God (Acts 1:8). James 4:4 teaches that if we draw near to God He will draw near to us. Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1 and 119, and 2 Timothy 3:15-16 teach that meditation on the word day and night is the key to our biblical success. Many charismatics want shortcuts to the anointing and desire results from an instant microwave experience or a one-time event. Instead of wasting their time traveling to “grave suck”, they should discipline themselves to seek God, pour over His word and dig down deep in His presence.

2. We get equipped for the work of the ministry by the present-day fivefold ministry gifts.

Ephesians 4:7-12 teach us that the grace we need to minister comes from the ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor/teachers. Reading the context of the Bible clearly shows that the equipping and grace/impartation we need comes from those we are sitting under and trained by, not those who have already died. Hence, the spirit that was on Moses came upon 70 elders (Numbers 12) and then upon Joshua (Numbers 27) to help equip them to lead, but that experience was handed down personally to those who walked with Moses. We do not read about others in later generations getting Moses’ spirit; the same when Elijah passed his mantle onto Elisha.

Regarding John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17-19): that was referring to God divinely placing an assignment upon John from birth, it did not come from John finding Elijah’s grave and sucking out the anointing! Furthermore, John was carrying on the next phase of a ministry Elijah started and was perhaps the last in a line of prophets from the school of the prophets Elijah led at one time (which was started by the prophet Samuel).

Hence, the anointing, spiritual DNA and legacy of a person can be extended generationally via a divine assignment and/or training and impartation, but not through “grave sucking”.

3. The only spirit of a departed person that is promised is the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus.

Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to His followers after He left the earth (John 14-16) which He said would empower us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Consequently, the spirits of the departed saints are not sent down from heaven nor are they dispensed from the place where their bodies were buried.

4. It can make an experiential doctrine out of a mysterious unique biblical story.

As mentioned, 2 Kings 13 gives us a story of a person who came back to life after touching the bones of Elisha. Some have no doubt that the power of God was still in his grave and/or that the miracle-working anointing of Elisha was still residually present on his bones. We have to remember that this is a strange, unique, mysterious story and that it is dangerous to formulate a doctrine and/or practice based on one obscure passage. This is how cults have started. We need to compare scripture with scripture and if there is an isolated obscure passage we encounter, then we should refrain from conjecture and not make a doctrine out of it until we can establish a clear biblical pattern. Also, it must be noted that the person in this passage was raised from the dead. The Bible does not indicate that he received Elisha’s anointing, mantle or became a prophet.

Furthermore, that may have been just one sovereign act of God to remind the Jews of their heritage and the unique prophetic calling Elijah handed down to Elisha.

5. The spirit, power and anointing of these saints is no longer in the ground.

The Bible teaches that when believers are absent from the body they are present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). This implies that our spirit leaves our body when we physically die. Hence, it is no longer on the earth and thus no longer in the grave.

6. It can lead to saint worship and necromancy.

One thing I greatly respect in the Christian Eastern Orthodox tradition is their love of the (spiritual) fathers and patriarchs. Unfortunately, some have taken their reverence too far and worship and pray to images of departed saints. There is a fine line between venerating the saints of old and worshipping them, especially to those who may be biblically ignorant among them. Also, many in this tradition have put the writings of the apostolic fathers (those leaders of the church who came after the first-century apostles) on the same level of scripture, something I disagree with for many reasons too numerous to cite here.

In the Roman Catholic tradition we actually see the official practice of Mary worship and saint worship. Furthermore, it is common for a Roman Catholic to pray to one of the canonized departed saints. Whenever we go to a departed saint for something instead of directly to Jesus we violate scriptures like 2 Timothy 2:5 and John 14:6, since we only have one designated mediator between God and man: Jesus Christ. Grave sucking comes perilously close to saint worship and, if not corrected, could also lead to communing (speaking) with departed saints. After all, if we can receive an anointing from the grave of a departed saint, who is to say we cannot receive advice and/or life altering visions from that same saint?

Finally, this could eventually lead to necromancy, which is witchcraft and has to do with conjuring up the spirits of the dead. Scripture teaches this is wrong even if you are trying to contact a departed saint (1 Samuel 28).

7. This could further divide the body of Christ.

Grave sucking seems like lunacy, not just to nonbelievers but probably to most Bible-believing Christians. Why? Because there is no specific biblical pattern that demonstrates it and/or commands or encourages it. Consequently, it further perpetuates the belief many hold in the evangelical camp that charismatics emphasize subjective experience more than the authority of scripture. Possibly the worst thing about grave sucking is that it could further divide the body of Christ at a time when we need true believers to unite more than ever before.###

[We agree that “grave sucking” is lunacy and another item on the long and growing list of demonically-inspired practices of Charismania and Charismaniacs. We also, however, believe that the time has come to name and call out the so-called leaders who espouse and promote such clearly demonic, New Age practices, such as the apparent chief leaders of same at this time, Bill and Beni Johnson, who we believe to be very, very spiritually dangerous people, in that they are leading multiplied thousands around the world into Biblically-condemned New Age religious practices and anti-Christ “doctrines of demons.” —Editor]

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

David Wilkerson, during most of his ministry, and in particular since one day in 1958 when he was thrust into news headlines, was a controversial figure in ecclesiastical circles. But, he was not controversial in the same way or for the same reasons many people who have basically earned that appellation. David Wilkerson was controversial because he was a genuine modern-day prophet both to the world of the unbelieving and to the church of the purported believing.

David Wilkerson simply saw and heard things in the Spirit that others did not, or would not, and boldly and courageously, spoke out about what he saw and heard, not because he chose or even desired to, but because he was called, chosen, and impelled by God to. All of that is the very simplest but all-encompassing definition of who and what a genuine prophet is.

As he witnessed the rapidly and exponentially proliferating of unrestrained hedonism and debauchery in the 1960s and its entrenchment in American culture, Wilkerson began speaking prophetic words of admonition about impending judgment of America if Americans did not repent from their unabashed sinfulness. With strong words of exhortation that oftentimes were words of rebuke, he also chastised the churches and church leaders of the time for their complacency, inaction, spiritual blindness and dullness, and infatuation with and seduction by the world and its allures. The core of his message was essentially what every genuine prophet of all ages espouses and expounds: That as the world system, along with its human perpetrators, spirals deeper and deeper into the vortex of utter evil and wickedness, the true Church that Jesus is building, in its role of restraint (2 Thes. 2:7-8), preservation (Mat. 5:13), and salvage (Rom. 11:14; 1 Cor. 9:22) must gird up, rise up, stand up, and speak up against it, thereby “snatching some out of the fire” (Jude 1:23). Yet, as with all genuine prophets, whether those of Bible times or those of more recent times, Wilkerson’s prophetic warnings were always seasoned with grace and God’s offer of mercy for those willing to turn from their wicked ways, to repent, and turn to God. In fact, often publicly, but always privately, the messages he received from God for the people of the world and the church, who he loved so deeply and indefatigably, broke his heart, and caused him to weep uncontrollably, much like the prophet Jeremiah, who theologians dubbed “the weeping prophet.”

Before the prophetic words of remonstrance reached his lips, they were purified by having passed through a salty river of intercessory tears, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, and sometimes for years. Maybe no one in the 20th/21st century spent more protracted periods in agonizing prayer than David Wilkerson. Times without number, he sequestered himself away from all the hub-bub, distractions, and trifles of life and ministry, and secreted himself alone with God for two weeks, three weeks, 21 days, or 40 days of fasting and intense prayer. The frequency of his separation from others was a source of frustration and even anger and bitterness at times for family, friends, and fellows — a price that had to be paid. But, few who’ve ever lived had the fire and fervor of David Wilkerson, and the source was the austere secret place where, like Moses on the mountain-top and Elijah in his cave, he met face-to-face with God. There, in that austere secret place, alone with God, is where he came to know God — who He is, what He desires, what pleases Him, and what displeases Him — with rarefied intimacy. Above all else, like King David, David Wilkerson was a man after, meaning in desperate pursuit of, God’s heart. Like Enoch, he walked with God until he walked right into the company of God, for God took him.

On Friday, April 29, 2011, Gary Wilkerson, David’s son posted the following tribute:

“David served the purposes of God in his generation, then he died” (Acts 13:36).

On Wednesday afternoon my father, David Wilkerson, passed away in a car accident. We grieve the loss of a beloved father, a faithful husband and a holy man of God. My mother, Gwen, his wife of 57 years, was in the car also, but we are told she will recover fully. (Editor’s note: she did, but then succumbed to cancer in 2012.)

Dad’s 60-plus years of ministry have impacted the lives of those closest to him and extended to millions around the world. Today we feel a personal loss, but at the same time we rejoice knowing Dad lived life to the fullest, obeying God with devotion and loving Jesus radically.

He was known for his unlimited faith. He believed God could change the lives of gang members and transform the most desperate drug addicts. He believed that a dynamic church could be launched in the heart of Times Square, New York City.

He believed he could be a man who loved his wife and children well. And he did.

Dad was not one for fanfare, acclaim or ceremony. He turned down invitations to meet with world leaders yet would give everything he owned to support a poor orphan or a widow in distress.

Like King David of old, Dad served God’s purposes in his generation. He preached with uncompromising passion and relentless grace. He wrote with amazing insight, clarity and conviction. He ran his race well and when his work was done, he was called home.

I don’t think my father would have retired well. I don’t think he was one to sit in a rocking chair and reminisce about times past. I believe that Jesus, knowing this, graciously called him home.

Dad’s last mission on earth was to be an advocate for the poorest of the poor—to provide relief and support for hungry children and widows and orphans. After founding Teen Challenge, World Challenge and Times Square Church, he sought to feed starving children in the most impoverished countries in the world. Today, Please Pass the Bread is saving the lives of thousands of children, through 56 outreaches in 8 countries.

Like King David of old, after having served God’s purpose, he died. I know if my father were able to encourage you with his words today, he would invite you to give your all to Jesus, to love God deeply and to give yourself away to the needs of others.

The works he began outlive him. We can all attest to his impacting us—not only in his preaching, writing and founding of world-changing ministries, but in his love, devotion, compassion and ability to stir our faith for greater works.

You can read the above devotion online at: http://www.worldchallenge.org/en/node/13180.

Wilkerson published many of his warnings and admonitions in various publications, including his newsletters (prior to the Internet), books, audio sermons, and videos later in his ministry. By and large, the more he warned, the more controversial he and his ministry were regarded, especially, it seemed, by the Pentecostal church of which he was a part, being a third generation Pentecostal minister, having received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit at age eight, and having been ordained by the Assemblies of God in 1951, after attending the AG-affiliated Central Bible College. While the church he founded in 1987 in New York City, Times Square Church, quickly grew to several thousand congregants, and continues to minister to tens of thousands, nevertheless, Wilkerson was basically held at arms length by Pentecostal church leaders, and even more by Charismatic church leaders, as complacency, lack of fervency, deception, and outright apostasy increased in those streams.

In the early days of the PTL Club nationally televised program, its founder/host Jim Bakker would occasionally have prophetic types like David Wilkerson as guests on the program. But, as “sin in the camp” increased, that occurred less and less, until finally, “negative” voices speaking about sin and error were banned entirely from the program. Nothing new or surprising about that, it goes on yet today on Christian television networks like TBN who bans and ostracizes genuine prophets who are deemed to be “loose cannons” who network brass know can’t be muzzled or silenced, but who are genuine mouthpieces of God, who speak whatever God whispers in their ear and the Spirit leads them to speak without hesitation, filtering, qualm, bias, or concern for self-preservation, no matter who or what it is about.

Even an obscure and unknown nobody like me is subject to such discriminatory banning and blackballing in that I was banned from the local TBN station more than ten years ago now, after only one appearance on the local “Praise The Lord” program, which I only found out about when a local host invited me to be a guest on that program he was hosting because, he said, I was among the few in the area who had a true understanding of the topic he was going to be discussing on the program — the apostolic and prophetic restoration. He had known this because I had reached out to him after hearing his radio program several times and invited him to be a panelist at a round-table I had moderated about a year before that was one of the breakout sessions during the day of a conference hosted by another ministry in the area. About ten minutes after I had accepted his invitation, he called back to say that regrettably he would have to retract his invitation because when he called the station manager to inform him of the lineup of guests he had put together for the program, the station manager informed him that I could not be a guest on his program because I had been summarily and totally unbeknownst to me banned from appearances on the station. He was shocked by that revelation, but not nearly as shocked as me. When I asked him if the station manager had given him any reason(s), he said he had not and that it was clear that the decision was non-negotiable. To this day, more than ten years later, I’ve never been given a reason for that banning, but that station manager and his wife who also worked at the station were summarily dismissed themselves sometime later.

For ten years or so, I put the whole matter out of my mind, and didn’t give it another thought. But then, a short time before Paul Crouch Sr.’s death, who actually interviewed me in 1977 when I was the scheduling coordinator for a large touring choir I helped to start called, “Festival of Praise,” at the top of the “Praise The Lord” program that was entirely devoted to a FOP performance at Ralph Wilkerson’s (no relation to David) church that then met in a high-capacity auditorium laid out in the round that the church had purchased from a failed theater, located across the street from Disneyland in Anaheim, called, “Melodyland Church,” I felt led of the Lord to reach out to TBN via email concerning whether or not this ban had come from TBN headquarters and was network-wide or just that station manager and was limited to that station. Paul’s assistant, and later Matt Crouch’s assistant, responded telling me Paul and TBN brass knew nothing about it, knew nothing about any purported justification or reasoning, that that manager had been terminated, which I already knew, and that I should consider any such purported ban lifted. Which was decent of them, but, though I forwarded that email to the new station manager, mailed them some ministry materials, and subsequently called twice requesting to speak to the new manager, I’ve never heard from anyone at the station, the manager has never returned my phone calls, and I’ve never again been invited to be a guest on the local version of the program.

All this to say that nothing has changed with Christian television networks; they still don’t like genuine prophets on their programs because they know they can’t control them or what they will say. They’re not invited to be a part of the “good ole boy” club of preachers who, like our Congress, “go along to get along” and to maintain their political careers. Genuine God-called, -appointed, and -anointed prophets are GOD’S spokesmen, not any man’s or collection of men. Their “silence” cannot be purchased with inordinately large honorariums, like so many of the “yes-man” sycophants who comprise the relatively small club of hosts and frequent guests who have demonstrated their willingness to “look the other way” or “wink” at the obvious, broadly-publicized and well-known outright, blatant, and habitual sinfulness and debauchery of the network’s founders, family members, board members, bigwigs, and many of its frequent hosts. Such people are enjoying their “rewards” now in the form of appearances on internationally televised programming on the largest television network in the world in order to expand their personal notoriety and thereby fill up their ministry coffers, but in the final day of reckoning, as they stand before the Bema Seat of Christ, their going to have some major ‘splainin’ to do, as I see it…IF they even make it to that glorious and privileged place…which in my view is highly questionable!

Such people, ministers and leaders of ministers, whose conscience allows them to simply “look the other way” and pretend that these things are not happening, or that they don’t know anything about it, or to hide behind some disingenuous claim that these reports are only unconfirmed rumors that they have no direct confirmation of their validity, or who disclaim any culpability or association with known hypocrites and their irrefutable behavioral apostasy, strictly for self-aggrandizing purposes, in my opinion, are people of highly questionable character, morals, and spirituality, no matter how well they can sing a song, preach, prophesy, orate, interview, moderate, or speak with the sincerest of countenances into cameras. They might be “stars” on Christian television networks, but they’re only spiritual criminals, con-men, and apostates in the Kingdom of God.

David Wilkerson was of the polar opposite ilk. He was one of those men the Bible talks about who was of such high character, morality, and spiritual nature that the world was not worthy of his life and presence for the 79 years that he graced this planet. The thousands who knew or knew of him were to a person shocked and dumbfounded when in 2011 he was suddenly and mysteriously taken from us.

“April 27, 2011, Reverend Wilkerson posted on his devotional blog, “To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights, and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, ‘I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident.’” That afternoon, Reverend Wilkerson was killed in a car accident.” [From David Wilkerson’s Bio on his ministry website]

To learn more about David Wilkerson and his international ministry and the tremendous impact of his life, visit his ministry website at: worldchallenge.org

Virtually (possibly literally, if they all could be known) all of David Wilkerson’s prophecies about America, in particular, have come true already, many, if not most, of them came true during his lifetime, which is not something that made him happy or caused him to swell up with pride, for he, like all genuine prophets, was a reluctant prophet, for the true prophet speaks not out of hubris and selfish ambition, but out of severe brokenness and humility, and as one who has begged God, sometimes for many years, for his divine and sovereign intervention so that the message need not be spoken and the impending judgment, if repentance is not forthcoming, need not be meted out. In a PTL program taped in November 1976, David Wilkerson shouts from the rooftops what he heard whispered in his ear from the Lord. It’s astonishing how accurate Wilkerson’s predictions he talked about in this brief TV appearance were.

KUNDALINI WARNING – Shocking Update
by Andrew Strom

Five years ago we put out a book and a video series called “Kundalini Warning.” It shocked a lot of people at the time.

For a long while I felt there was no particular need to update it in any way. But recently we came across some new information that completely stunned everybody we showed it to.

It comes from some of the very biggest Charismatic ministries — in their own words — bringing utterly blatant New Age practices into the church. Not in a “hidden” way. But totally open and unashamed about it. Most people who have seen it are just as gob-smacked as I was.

You will hardly believe it. It is that bad.

I have added a whole new section to my book and we will start releasing all this information very soon. But in the meantime, all three episodes of the video series, “Kundalini Warning,” are available on YouTube. The links to them are below. Each video is a little less than 10-minutes long.

Please watch them again and pass them around, my friends, in preparation for this new information. It will help a lot.

[Note: We have embedded the 3-Part continuous-play series from YouTube just below;  The Facebook links are below the YouTube embed.]

Here are the links to the individual videos.

‘SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY’ – Part ONE-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBpw2oQrvMM

‘SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY’ – Part TWO-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCcGaTRwG_4

‘SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY’ – Part THREE-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWeUNoR30_0

Special blessings to all,
Andrew Strom

Strom’s website: http://www.revivalschool.com/

_______________________

BUY THE BOOK, KUNDALINI WARNING! [Available in print and Kindle versions]

DISCERNING BETWEEN WOLVES, SHEEP AND HORSES IN A CHURCH
By Joseph Mattera

The Bible uses certain animals as metaphors to depict certain kinds of people in the kingdom. Pastors and senior leaders of organizations need to discern at least three kinds of people in their organizations to effectively lead.[1]

Although most people may have a mixture of all three traits at times in their lives, it is very possible that either the negative or positive traits of a person can suck them fully into either the dark side or the light of the Kingdom of God. It is inevitable that every growing organization and/or church will attract all three of these kinds of people simultaneously.

Following are some of the main characteristics of wolves, sheep, and horses as based on my observations during almost 30 years of ministry in the church and marketplace. Continue reading “Wolves, Sheep, & Horses in the Church” »

SEVEN REASONS WHY MANY BELIEVERS FOLLOW “SUPERSTAR” PASTORS
By Joseph Mattera

The church has seen the rise of “celebrity cult status” pastors who act like spiritual superstars.

In this article I define superstars as those who act as little gods who believe they are above everybody else. They walk around with an entourage, body guards, and are inaccessible to family, friends, high level staff and peers, and are an unaccountable island to themselves.

Furthermore, no matter how much these leaders violate biblical ethics, they still maintain their leadership position because most of their followers are blinded by their devotion. Many of these superstars have started in the ministry for the right reason but because of un-dealt with emotional dysfunction related to their youth. They carry these dysfunctions over into their ministry and church family.

There are some social and psychological reasons for this aberrant behavior / both from the vantage point of the leader and their followers.

The following are some of these symptoms and reasons:

7 Reasons Why followers follow superstar pastors

1. Many Christians need a male figure to emulate.

Many believers come from dysfunctional family backgrounds and need a male figure hero to emulate as a father figure. Some folks view their spiritual leader as a surrogate father, hence they will be protective of said leader to the point in which their emotional connection and loyalty clouds biblical truth

2. Many Christians have no identity of their own and live vicariously through their leader.

Those without a healthy self-identity gravitate towards a strong, confident leader with a compelling vision to the point in which their own individuality is subsumed or fragmented. Thus, this creates a vacuum of being and essence which makes them vulnerable to a charismatic leader; e.g., this is how false prophet Jim Jones was able to lead 900 well-educated followers into committing corporate suicide in Guyana in the 1970′s.

3. Many believers have a strong sense of failure and live through the success of their Leader.

Many people live a boring life without purpose and feel that they have more meaning when vicariously live their life through a person they deem successful.

4. Many followers lack their own intimate knowledge of Christ and are ignorant of Scripture.

Unfortunately, most Christians are Bible-illiterate and will believe anything their leader teaches them, even if it is heretical. Hence, their leader can live a life or lead their church in a way not congruent with Scripture and they wouldn’t even know it!

5. Many stay connected to the leader primarily because of their social community.

After being in a church for several years, folks usually assimilate into that particular faith community (which is a great thing in most cases) and build their social network around their church life and ministry. If they leave their church, they have to cut off many of these social ties, thus, they will continue in a church even if the leader is living an ungodly life full of pride, abuse, and manipulation

6. Many are connected to a superstar leader because it gives them religious status.

There are many people I have met who attend a certain church only because they have a lot of members, even if they are not being discipled or ministered to in a personal way. They get fed from other sources but remain in their church because the celebrity status of their leader gives them status with other Christians in their city.

7. Many have low self esteem and don’t recognize when they are being abused or manipulated.

Those with self-esteem will allow others to abuse, disrespect, and even manipulate them because they don’t have enough self-dignity to disapprove or even recognize it. Many of these folks were abused or neglected at home and live with a sense of guilt and feel an unconscious need to have authority figures who act the same way as their parents did (to satiate their feelings of guilt in some cases).

In closing, in rare instances where I perceive believers start attending our local congregation who come from these dysfunctional churches, I am not as quick (as usual) to discourage their attendance, but am willing to open up our congregation to them as a place for them to receive personal ministry and (hopefully) flourish in their faith.

Read the previous article: 10 Reasons Some Church Leaders Become Divas

Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-many-believers-follow-superstar-pastors/

Beware of Superstar, Self-Appointed Church Personalities
By Bert M. Farias

Bert Farias

Bert M. Farias — revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries

Are these popular ministerial personalities great in the sight of the Lord or only in the sight of man? Are they really known in heaven or only on the Earth? Are they God-anointed or self-appointed? Is it ministry they deliver or some subtle form of hype?

“Many who are great in the sight of the Lord are living in cottages and hovels, and are scarcely known, unless to a few neighbors equally obscure,” said William Jay.

Believers, especially Christian ministers, need a baptism of clear seeing and holy discerning. Our ministry marketing budget may be soaring high, but our perception can sometimes be so low. Our motives need refinement. The refiner’s fire is near the door. Will you open it? Can you see the narrow way to holiness? Or is all the smoke blocking your view?

Before me now I see the impression I saw months ago. There are two scenes. One is of a clear and sunny horizon lined with an endless row of people. The other is of a vast forest. Dense fog covers the forest, and out of the fog comes the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ, for the most part, is not found among the general populace. People have to really look to recognize Him.

Think about it. Our Savior was not born in a big metropolis, but in the small town of Bethlehem. And He grew up in the despised region of Galilee. He was not born in a palace where kings are, but in a lowly stable. The wise men had to really search and diligently follow the star to find Him. When Jesus entered into ministry, it is written that He had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). He did not have a ministry headquarters. He died a criminal’s death on a cross, naked and nearly alone. His grave was a borrowed tomb. His throne was an invisible one hidden from the multitudes of those who were healed and delivered through His ministry. He was called meek and lowly; certainly not the description fitting for a king. But today, ministry is so different.

A church brings in a special speaker. He’s known all over, so the people flock to hear him. They come from everywhere, every night. At the meetings they jump, sing and shout. They hear the newest revelation proclaimed with jubilation. The people are saying of the special speaker:

He’s on TV,
I love his personality.
His ministry is so big,
His clothes I really dig.
He’s so wonderful!
And his wife looks so smart,
Her latest hit song
Is at the top of the chart.
Oh, I love to hear him speak,
And I hate to see him go.
Maybe he’ll stay another week,
Or speak again on his daily show.

The same church brings in a name unknown. The people stay away by the droves. A few faithful gather to hear the Word of God. They long for holiness and a vision of Jesus. With a broken heart, the little “no-name” preacher weeps for lost souls as he delivers a word from God.

The big personality was sent by man. The little “no-name” was sent by God. The crowds who came from miles away came to hear a man. The smaller group came seeking Jesus. One set of meetings produced much excitement but no fruit of holiness. The other smaller meetings generated far less excitement but resulted in a brokenness and a lasting work of holiness in those who came. This may seem like an extreme example, but it makes the point.

Just because someone or something is big doesn’t mean it’s godly (and it is also understood that bigness is not tantamount to ungodliness either). In fact, it’s a greater test of our devotion to be big (whatever “big” means to us) and yet remain holy, than it is to be small (whatever “small” means to us) and holy. And let’s not forget that smallness is not equivalent to godliness either. Discerning the difference between hype and holiness is what’s important. But we are so often fooled by the “big” while being unaware and undiscerning of the “small.”

Holiness is not only sought but bought: “Buy of Me gold tried in the fire that you may be rich” (Rev 3:17). Have you been tried in the fire? Have you tested your teachings? Have you experienced and even suffered for the truth you believe? Truth is to be bought, not sold. We sell the truth when we sell our souls to pleasure, profit and earthly popularity. We buy the truth when we are tried and found true, when we suffer with godly sorrow the pains of our personal Gethsemanes, and yet remain private about them. When we allow God to strip us of all glory-seeking and subtle pride, we are buying the truth.

Too many today are selling messages they never bought. When we minister forth from what we’ve personally experienced or suffered, the Spirit will produce a far greater effect of holiness in the hearers. The deeper the suffering is—or has been—usually the more perfect the obedience. The more fiery the trials, and the deeper the burning, the purer and richer the vessel becomes.

This is what we must understand: God’s measuring gauge and standard of holiness is so different from man’s. Bigness and smallness are terms not found in Christ. Here is the criterion for holiness: Is Christ made visible? Is He seen and heard? Is the ministration of Christ being imparted? Is His Word being made manifest? Are the people changed more into His likeness? Is it producing a spirit of holiness and an increase in the fruits of righteousness? Are they paying less credence to men and personalities and reverencing God?

The problem with today’s generation is that we elevate the teachings of popular Christian teachers and we have a tendency to place greater value on them than the Scriptures. We elevate their charisma, their eloquence, their humor and wit, their style, and even their cuteness and good looks. We even sow our finances into the same.

Beware of hype. Beware of those who glory in appearance void of substance. Beware of emotional excitement that lacks depth. Beware of hypnotic smoke with no holy fire.

Hype fakes the happening while delaying true holiness. Hype is infinitely more dangerous than we can ever imagine, because it lies to us and tells us that something great is happening, when in fact, very little is going on.###
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Bert M. Farias, revivalist and founder of Holy Fire Ministries, is the author of several books, including the newly released My Son, My Son, which he co-wrote with his son Daniel for the purpose of training up a holy generation. He is also co-host of the New England Holy Ghost Forum, a school of the Spirit. Follow him at Bert Farias on Facebook or at @Bertfarias1 on Twitter.

[Source: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/the-flaming-herald/45699-beware-of-superstar-self-appointed-church-personalities; accessed 10-16-14.]

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[Editor’s Note: For us, the terms “Christian” and “tattoos” are a non sequitur. Or, stating it another way, the issue of Christians having tattoos is a no-brainer because Scripture is unequivocal, unambivalent, and crystal clear regarding the matter. In other words, there is absolutely no gray area regarding this matter in the Word of God, but rather is entirely black and white: God condemns it and states categorically that it’s a practice of pagans, not bona fide Christians! Period! Case closed! But some people, including purporting Christians, vociferously and adamantly claim and contend otherwise, albeit without a scintilla of Scriptural support. Again, for us, there is no argument; none at all. Continue reading “Christians and Tattoos?” »

Be Careful Whom You Damn

It is true that the Scriptures often warn us against deception, and it is true that some preach “another Jesus” (who is not Jesus at all) and “another gospel” (which is no gospel at all; see 2 Cor. 11:1-4; Gal. 1:6-9). And it is true that many false converts will be shocked when Jesus says to them on that great and dreadful Day, “Depart from me” (see Mat. 7:21-23; 25:31-46).

All of us should examine ourselves to be sure that we are “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5) and all of us should be diligent to “confirm [our] calling and election” (2 Pet. 1:10), and this does mean falling into performance-based religious exercises but rather living out our calling to be God’s children (see 2 Pet. 1:3-11; this is our response to what God has graciously done for us).

At the same time, we need to be very careful about setting ourselves up as the ultimate judge of who is saved and who is lost—meaning, among those who claim to be followers of the Jesus of the Scriptures. Continue reading “Condemn Not! You May Be the One That’s Wrong!” »

PROPHETIC PREDICTIONS FOR THE COMING YEAR

By David Ravenhill

Every year the prophetic community releases their plethora of prognostications for the coming year. If taken seriously, you’d have to believe that around November or December, God looks over His Gregorian Calendar, and begins to draw up His list of resolutions for the year ahead.

Having spent the last forty eight years around the prophetic community, I can be guaranteed that God will release some new type of anointing in the coming year. Continue reading “Prophetic Predictions for the Coming Year” »

John MacArthur

John MacArthur

Pastor John MacArthur has announced a “strange fire” conference to be held this October, claiming that part of the charismatic movement “offers to God unacceptable worship, distorted worship. It blasphemes the Holy Spirit. It attributes to the Holy Spirit even the work of Satan.”

If these charges are true, this means that many leaders in the charismatic movement have committed the unpardonable sin and are therefore hell-bound. If these charges are not true, Pastor MacArthur has seriously overstepped his bounds and misused the Word of God.

And it is only fair to ask whether Pastor MacArthur, in his rightful zeal to correct excesses or errors in the charismatic movement—what he calls “strange fire”—is also guilty of rejecting the true fire. Does he embrace the glorious things the Holy Spirit is doing worldwide, resulting in the salvation of tens of millions of souls, or does he write them off as the result of emotionalism and deception? Continue reading “John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference” »

Dr. Steven LambertThe JEZEBEL SPIRIT, is an evil spirit obsessed with domination and obtaining control in realms of authority, that operates through witchcraft/sorcery to achieve its goal. The covert operations of the Jezebel Spirit remains to be one of the most prevalent and dastardly problems in all of Christendom—in families and businesses of believers, churches/ministries, and every other arena of interrelations of believers—as well as in every segment of secular society where human relationships exist. In psychology, the effects produced by this demonic spirit are known as “narcissism,” or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in clinical cases (see, DSM-IV). While as a deliverance counselor with Doctoral Diplomate Christian Counseling Board Certification, I personally believe effective therapeutic relief from the effects of NPD requires deliverance (casting out of demons), the Mayo Clinic has published an information-rich and enlightening article on NPD, which, due to unusual copyright restrictions I am constrained from citing, that you can read by CLICKING HERE. [See also “How To Identify A Female Narcissist” below this article.] The references in the Bible to two different women with the name “Jezebel” are portrayed by the Spirit as being classic narcissists. Continue reading “Exposing the Jezebel Spirit!” »

By Dr. Steven Lambert

In a day of ubiquitous uncertainty, one thing the Body of Christ can know without any doubt or equivocation is that Christ is coming back to claim as His Eternal Bride the true ekklesia that Jesus has been building now for more than 2,000 years (Mat. 16:18)! That is the great hope of the Christian faith that distinguishes it from all other so-called “faiths” or “religions.” Christ WILL soon return, and events and circumstances around the world are telling us, per Bible eschatology, that His return is imminent! And, when He does return, we have the glorious promise (and God cannot lie) that: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with [the dead in Christ] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thes. 4:17) Indeed, the succeeding verse commands us to “comfort one another with these words.” Continue reading “The Purification Of Deliverance” »

By Eddie L. Hyatt

Prophetic ministry has great potential for blessing and building up the people of God. But when abused and misused, it has the same potential to trouble and destroy. In order to derive the greatest benefit from prophetic ministry, we need both the guidelines of Scripture and the lessons of history to point the way.

Warning Sign 1:
When prophecy is used to enhance the status of a movement and its leaders.

1517-1537 was a very exciting time for many Christians in Europe. A great spiritual reformation was under way, and many believed that God was restoring the church to its original purity and power. Many believed that out of this restoration would come a great revival and harvest that would usher in the coming of the Lord and the end of the age. Continue reading “Five Warning Signs That Prophetic Ministry Has Gone Awry” »

[Editor’s Note:] For several years I have been receiving the email messages Andrew Strom sends out. I have also read many of his writings in which he addresses various issues regarding the insidious infusion of New Age teachings and practices into large segments of the Charismatic stream, in particular, as well as issues related to the so-called “New Apostolic Reformation” and the restoration of the prophetic. We also had one extended phone conversation, I believe in 2007, in which we touched briefly upon a number of issues of common concern. While I cannot say that I know everything about his theological/doctrinal positions, beliefs, and motives, and thus am in no way endorsing the totality of his ministry, in general, I agree with much of what he has written regarding the error and delusion associated with the aforementioned movements. Continue reading “WARNING: Bill Johnson and Bethel Church” »

Editor’s Note:  Many Christian home schooling families today utilize virtual public school curricula as part of their course work, due to the fact that it is affordable to low-income families. Oftentimes, the method of delivery (most of the course work is internet-based) makes for an easy and attractive fit for their children, whose parents are trying to do the best they can with what is affordable to their family. We applaud families who choose to homeschool their children and support believers in their efforts to raise up their children in the way they should go. We believe that the Lord looks favorably upon these Godly parents for the sacrifices they have made to ensure that their children are raised in “the fear and admonition of the Lord.” We also remind those parents to be ever-vigilant in monitoring the curriculum being presented to their children in regard to unbiblical slants and biases, as well as and historical omissions, in order to point them out, explain, and dealt with them appropriately, according to Truth of the Word of God. The article below provides valuable information on the practice of “Revisionism” and why it is so harmful to every believer, but especially to your children.

By David Barton

Revisionism is the common method employed by those seeking to subvert American culture and society. The dictionary defines revisionism as an “advocacy of the revision of an accepted, usually long-standing view, theory, or doctrine; especially a revision of historical events and movements.”

Revisionism attempts to alter the way a people views its history and traditions in order to cause that people to accept a change in public policy. For example, during the 150 years that textbooks described the Founding Fathers as being devout men and Christians who actively practiced their faith, civic policy embraced and welcomed public religious expressions. But in recent years as the same Founders have come to be portrayed as atheists, agnostics, and deists who were opposed to religious activities, public policies have similarly been reversed. Continue reading “Revisionism: How to Identify It In Your Children’s Textbooks” »

Charles Carrin is my dear friend. I know him personally, albeit far too briefly, having met him initially in the first part of the ’90s. Charles Carrin is the real deal, a genuine, Spirit-infused, Spirit/Fire-baptized, yet thoroughly humble “man of God!” Now an octogenarian for two years, he is a Spirit-ignited prophetic patriarch and elder-statesman to the Church Jesus is building, hailing from a by-gone and vastly under-appreciated era and personal wilderness experience but bringing forth with him a quality and quantity of wisdom manufactured and tempered in the crucible of trial, trouble, and tribulation that is not only rare, but genuinely rarefied. Words fail in attempting to describe the value and worth of “old soldiers,” in the words of General Douglas MacArthur, such as Charles Carrin, but perhaps the most fitting words are that he exemplifies the Scriptural phrase, “treasure in earthen vessels.” I regard him as one on the same plane as the likes of Tozer and Ravenhill to their generation. In this open-letter, Charles trumpets a profound, poignant, piercing, and powerful prophetic message to former fellows of a denomination he still cherishes that gave him the “left foot of fellowship” when he finally eschewed its warnings and teachings, accepted and obeyed God’s Word, and received the Father’s Promise of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, after nearly 30 years of dedication to and ministry in that denomination. But, we publish this heartfelt cry because of its applicability not only to the constituency of that particular rapidly declining denomination, but also to many other denominations and sects of believers, as well as whole “movements,” who claim the name of “Christian” and a “name” of being alive, but are really spiritually dead (Rev. 3:1). I highly commend this letter to you for your reading and meditation—and then your weeping, mourning, repentance, and praying—as it pierces your heart. “If anyone has an ear, let him hear” (Rev 13:9). [Steven Lambert, Publisher] Continue reading “An “Open-Heart-Letter” to Primitive Baptists (and others)” »