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Category Archives: False Teaching

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Who Is Making Who Jealous?
By David Ravenhill

Saul of Tarsus was certainly no fan of the early Church. His zeal drove him to plunder, persecute, prosecute and imprison whomever he came across belonging to The Way. Entering house after house he destroyed God’s fledgling flock, causing them to be scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. His very name evoked fear in all who heard it.

Then it happened. Saul had an encounter with the Living God. This once proud Pharisee became the apostle to the very dogs he formally despised. Saul, their one-time arch adversary, became their chief advocate.

So great was his conversion and his subsequent revelation of God’s grace that he became even more zealous. Now Paul’s zeal turned against his former manner of life and against those Judaizers who sought to infiltrate his former enemies in the Church.

So radical was Paul’s conversion that he compared his former religious life as one of bondage or slavery. Paul relished his new freedom in Christ. No longer was he striving to please God through his own efforts. No longer was he under an obligation to observe days and months and seasons and years which he referred to as weak, worthless, and elemental things leading back into slavery.

Paul was a changed man. Christ meant everything to him. Christ was his treasure in the field, his pearl of great price, his unspeakable gift. He soon realized that all the types and shadows he had grown up observing and zealously lived for were mere dung in comparison to Christ.

While Paul consistently loathed and opposed those Judaizers who insisted that the Gentile believers be circumcised as well as keep the law of Moses, he also carried a great burden for his own people, Israel, that they might be saved.

In his writings to the Romans Paul stated that Israel’s transgression led to salvation coming to the Gentiles, but then he adds “to make them jealous.” Israel’s calling was to be a light to the nations. It was their job to make us jealous, but now Paul says the shoe is on the other foot. It is now the Church’s job to make Israel jealous.

By now you may be asking where am I going with all this? I’m glad you asked. I’m concerned with what I see happening throughout the Body of Christ. Over the last decade or so as the Church has become increasingly aware of it’s responsibility to pray for and support Israel, there has risen the subtle yet false belief that Israel is somehow superior to the Church. As a result, many are being drawn back to the types and shadows, festivals and Sabbaths, etc. In other words, Israel is now causing God’s people to be jealous for her ways rather than God’s people causing Israel to be jealous for Christ.

This got me thinking. I wonder how the Apostle Paul would react today if he were to tune into some religious broadcast extolling the virtues of a prayer shawl or hearing the clamor over blood moons and shemitahs. Added to that is the constant reminder that this is the beginning of such and such a feast or festival.

Why have these days, seasons and Sabbaths proven to be more exciting than Christ? Why has the Feast of Passover become more attractive to God’s people than the communion celebration that replaced it? Why do these Old Testament types stir so much passion? Paul himself states they are merely a shadow of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

My concern is that there is a new breed of Judaizers who unwittingly are causing the Church to be drawn back into bondage and slavery. While that may not be their intention, nevertheless, they dress, act, and emphasize what the writer to the Hebrews declared to be over with. “He takes away the first in order to establish the second.”

I believe if Paul were here today his message would remain the same; “You foolish believers, who has bewitched you…” “Stand fast in the liberty in which Christ has made you free and be NOT entangled again with the yoke of BONDAGE”.

This article is part 1 of 1 in the series Spiritual Covering

This multipart article is excerpted from my book, Uncovering the Myth of Spiritual Covering, which is adapted from my book, Charismatic Captivation—Authoritarian Abuse & Psychological Enslavement in Neo-Pentecostal Churches, first published in 1996. That book exposes the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse that has been flourishing virtually unabated for decades since it was first infused into the very fabric, foundation, and functions of the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal church during the false movement known as the Discipleship/Shepherding Movement (1970-77). The frequently quoted and alluded to volume spotlights the salient signs and symptoms of authoritarian abuse, dissects the fallacious doctrines behind it, and offers victims clear, concise steps for recovery from the psychological trauma and restoration from the spiritual damage they’ve experienced.

In the two decades since it was first released at the time of the publishing of this extract of it, Charismatic Captivation has been appraised and praised by Bible scholars and commentators, ministers, and laymen as the most comprehensive and convincing volume written to date on the particulars of the prevalent problem of Neo-Pentecostal authoritarian abuse, or what is also referred to as “spiritual abuse.” Many readers and analysts over the twenty years since it was first published have come to concur with the somewhat audacious claim emblazoned on the back-cover blurb that despite being “disdained by defiantly unrepentant perpetrators of Pentecostal predomination, Charismatic Captivation is undeniably a genuine prophetic word ordained by God to which He is now demanding obedience.”

If you have not read that book, I strongly recommend that you do for a better understanding of the context of the subject matter of this book and the larger issue of the widespread problem of authoritarian abuse transpiring particularly in the Charismatic/Neo-Pentecostal stream. Continue reading “Uncovering the Myth of Spiritual Covering” »

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10 SIGNS OF PROPHETIC ABUSE AND OR MANIPULATION
By Joseph Mattera

Master Manipulator

I have been in the body of Christ now since the late 1970’s. I came into the prophetic movement in the early eighties and started moving out prophetically, even participating in prophetic presbytery while doing itinerant prophetic ministry. Furthermore, our local church has nurtured many outstanding prophetic leaders and voices as well as hosting numerous prophetic trainings and schools. My primary motivational gift and mode of ministry is prophetic, even when it seems like I am teaching. (I rarely use notes and teach and preach as prompted by the Holy Spirit when I am ministering.)

Furthermore, I have found the prophetic gift, including inspirational preaching, teaching and prophetic words to be the most edifying of all the gifts as St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14. However, with every true gift of God comes either a counterfeit and or an abuse. You can say that about all of the cluster of gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. The prophetic gift can especially be very dangerous if left un-checked, since people think the words spoken are directly from God and will often obey them without question or the use of discernment. Based on all my years of operating in the prophetic, as well as mentoring, nurturing, overseeing and hosting many prophetic ministers, the following are ten signs of prophetic abuse and manipulation. Continue reading “10 Prophetic Abuses and Manipulation” »

EIGHT SIGNS OF HYPER-GRACE CHURCHES
By Joseph Mattera

The past several decades we have seen a dramatic decline in doctrinal and Biblical preaching. We have gone from theology to therapy in the pulpits. In the past decade we went from therapy to motivational speaking instead of preaching.

In addition to this, whole churches and movements have oriented themselves to a distorted understanding of the gospel by espousing a “hyper-grace” approach that trickles down to not only what they preach but who they allow to minister and teach. (I was told there is even a new television station devoted to this view of “grace.”) Continue reading “Signs of Hyper-Grace Churches” »

This article is part 1 of 1 in the series Apostasy

Biblical Proof Christians CAN Fall Away (Part 1)
By Steven Lambert

Jesus specifically said that in the case of this second category of hearers He identified and characterized in the Parable of the Sower: “…when affliction and persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away” (Mk. 4:17). According to Jesus, the result when they met with adversity after having believed is that ─ “immediately they fall away.” According to the doctrine of a number of Christian denominations today, this just cannot be so. Nevertheless, according to Jesus and God’s Word, it is immutably so. Continue reading “Biblical Proof Christians CAN Fall Away” »

This article is part 3 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts

Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts ~ by Dr. Vito Rallo ~ Published by Real Truth Publications

PART THREE

Black-belt karateka in "gi" (karategi) meditating in yoga "lotus" position

Black-belt karate devotee (karateka) wearing “gi” (karategi) meditating in yoga “lotus” “power” position.

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

READ PART TWO of this article.

There are many influences in our western society. Some are good – some are not so good. Some appear on the surface to be beneficial, but in fact, are the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” In other words, the acclaimed benefits of a thing or practice of something may, in fact, turn out to be harmful, if not downright dangerous. The irony is, it may not be obvious at the onset.

What matters most is what lies behind the secret mask of all martial arts and yoga—what is at the root! The two are undoubtedly intertwined and are often advertised together. The practice of these ancient practices, driven by a huge popularity factor, has made major inroads, especially of late, into western society. This infiltration has had an enormous impact on both the world we live as well as in an ever-expanding segment of the church realm, and consequently has become a force to be reckoned with due to its widespread acceptance as a supposedly innocuous sport or physical activity. Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts (Part 3)” »

This article is part 1 of 3 in the series Exposing Dangers of Martial Arts
Dojo student bowing to pay homage to the "gods" behind martial arts

Dojo student bowing to the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4) behind martial arts.
“Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.” (Ex. 23:24)

PART ONE

[Editor’s Note: This article series is an adaptation from the book, Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts, by Vito Rallo, a former five-time USA National Karate Champion. See the end of this article for more about the book.]

Over the course of the last three to four decades, martial arts have pervaded both the world and the church realm at an alarming rate. During that span, the enemy has been hard at work instituting his insidious plan to spiritually weaken and wreak spiritual destruction in the lives of individuals, as well as even whole segments of the church at large, by means of injection of the expansive package of deceptions comprising the martial arts.

Let us be clear, all forms of martial arts (and yoga), without exception, are rooted in false religions and the occult, and can in no way be sanitized or Christianized. Many individual believers and entire church-groups have been deceived into believing they can be. Such theories and beliefs are total deception from a practical standpoint, and from a theological standpoint would be labeled heresy! Yet, such false beliefs about these ancient religious practices and false claims of their being harmonious and congruous with Biblical Christianity have seemingly inundated the modern church like a tsunami! And at present there appears no indication of this “wave” of false doctrine receding at any time in the foreseeable future (cf., Eph. 4:14).

The bottom line is this: The spirit behind martial arts is antichrist! By that I mean it is contrary to everything we know about who Christ and Christianity is! How can we think that an antichrist spirit is in any way compatible or harmonious with the Spirit of Christ? They are not friends or friendly with each other! We cannot make them be friends or friendly with each other! I have seen people fall away from their faith in God who were once strong in the Lord because of this antichrist activity. The people of God—Christians, Christian churches—have been deceived in regard to the martial arts and just how diabolical they in fact are! It is time to acknowledge that deception and do something about it.

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; emphasis added)

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; (Eph. 5:11; emphasis added)

Continue reading “Exposing the Dangers of Martial Arts” »

What These Preachers Are Spewing Could Kill You
By Bert Farias

There is an increasing measure of unbelief in today’s churches. Weak faith, little faith and no faith is at an all-time high. Strong faith, exceedingly great faith, and the kind of faith that causes Jesus to marvel (Matt. 8:10) is at an all-time low.

The first reason faith is now at an all-time low is because many believers don’t read or hear the pure Word of God. There’s a great mixture in our churches today. People put more faith in what the popular elevated teachers in the Christian culture say. They put more faith in man. They place their trust in logic, reasoning and the wisdom of men. Continue reading “Your Spiritual Diet Could Be Killing You!” »

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.]

Master Manipulator

For nearly forty years now, I have been doing all I possibly can to teach, preach, and warn believers about the prevalent problem of authoritarian abuse in the church-realm at large and in Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal streams in particular. I’ve preached sermons, published audios of sermons, written scores and scores of articles, authored and published books, conducted teaching seminars, counseled hundreds of victims, and basically talked to everyone about this dastardly device of the devil who would listen (or pretend to) for five minutes about it over the span of four decades. I wish I could report (if for no one else’s edification than my own) that there is evidence that my efforts have had a powerful impact or made strong inroads into combating this insidious and spiritually decimating activity of the kingdom of darkness in the collective church as well as in individual believer’s lives. I really do. But, sadly, I cannot.

Oh, hundreds of the thousands who have obtained (can’t say “read,” because the publishing industry’s own research indicates that less than 20% of all books purchased are read by their purchasers and less than half of that number read entirely) the two books I authored on the subject so far in their various published formats (print, ebook [PDF], epub, Kindle, Nook) — Charismatic Captivation and Charismatic Control — have corresponded via some medium to tell me how the books helped to them, and some that it most literally “saved” them from the destructive effects of victimization of authoritarian abuse upon their life. How could that not be extremely encouraging and edifying? After all, that was the primary motivation for spending three and half years writing the book (I guess I’m a slow writer).

Certainly, I’m grateful and exceedingly humbled that God would chose to use me and my paltry efforts to actually help someone with regard to their spiritual life, psychological being, and relationship with the Lord. Though the negative “cost” upon my own life and ministry for my has been extreme, in some aspects excruciating, and at times, from an earthly perspective, seemingly excessive, yet such temporal and transient afflictions are superseded by the real assurance that beyond the fleeting vapor of this mortal segment of life rewards — substantial and significant rewards — await. It is for those “joys of the master” that we toil, enduring the hardships inuring from our labors of evangelism and fulfilling our ministry callings (2 Tim. 4:5). Continue reading “Identifying Hyper-authoritarian Doctrines and Practices” »

pope-francis-usa-visit

SEVEN REASONS WHY I AM NOT A ROMAN CATHOLIC
By Joseph Mattera

With the election of Pope Francis and his imminent visit to the United States, there is a resurgent interest in the Roman Catholic Church. It is without dispute that the Roman Catholic Church is a major force in the earth with 1.5 billion adherents, its roots in the first century church, it has historically been an amazing bulwark against the secular humanistic tide of liberal social values, and has a vast array of effective institutions such as universities, hospitals, charitable organizations and adoption agencies to name a few.

It also goes without saying that the divisions in the church since the first millennia have weakened the influence of Christianity in the nations. (I wish there was never a split between the Roman and Eastern Church, and then between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Church.) Also, Vatican II made many good and necessary changes that made the Roman Catholic Church more relevant and biblical.

Furthermore, I have worked closely with many Roman Catholic leaders who were just as committed to scripture as I am, and I also know many who have a deep relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, why am I not a Roman Catholic practitioner? (Keep in mind that I was raised a Roman Catholic.)

The following are seven reasons why I am not a Roman Catholic:

1. They have institutional unity without oneness with the Father and Son (John 17:20-23).

No doubt the Roman Catholic Church has a strong understanding of the church (ecclesiology) that outshines most Protestants and Evangelicals. However, their claim to be the one true Catholic (universal) church is undermined by their distinct “Roman” name. As soon as you say “Roman” you demonstrate that it is only one aspect of God’s church and not representative of the whole Body.

Also, just because they have organizational unity and historical continuity does not mean they function in the “oneness” demanded by the prayer of Jesus in John 17:20-23. This biblical oneness first and foremost is spiritual and organic because it is supposed to mimic the ontological oneness of Jesus and the Father. Many make the mistake of equating political, programmatic, hierarchical and institutional unity for biblical oneness. You can have this kind of unity without spirituality. The oneness Jesus described implied a spiritual, mystical unity that transcends titles and structures, resulting in spiritual power that causes the world to believe in Jesus.

Although the Protestant Reformation resulted in thousands of denominations, those congregations and individuals that preach the gospel and uphold the Word of God have a commonality that unifies them irrespective of institutional structures.

2. They believe in papal authority over the church universal.

As much as I like the present pope as person, he has no biblical grounds to be the titular head of the church universal. Just a cursory reading of the book of Acts 11-15 shows that the Apostle Peter deferred to James (half-brother of the Lord Jesus) as the apostolic leader of the church. Since the Pope claims apostolic succession from Peter, this biblical narrative undermines the Petrine view of papal authority.

Also, reading church history shows that in the first five centuries of the church, there was never universal acclaim that the bishop of Rome was the bishop over all other bishops. The bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople as well as those from several other cities, all vied for positions of power and did not initially cede their final authority to Rome. Furthermore, one of the primary reasons the Eastern Church separated from Rome approximately 1000 years ago was because they refused to recognize ultimate papal authority.

Consequently, there is no substantive biblical or historical proof that the bishop of Rome was set up by the Apostle Peter (or by God) as the bishop of all other bishops.

3. They practice Mary worship.

While I believe that Mary was the most blessed of all people because she had the privilege of giving birth (as a virgin) to the lord Jesus Christ, to say that she is the greatest human ever born (besides Christ) is unbiblical, because Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest human ever born. (Matthew 11:11, since Mary was also born of a woman, John was greater than her.)

The fact that many in the Roman Catholic Church worship Mary is seen in the following popular Roman Catholic song devoted to Mary;

“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping, in this valley of tears? Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”

While there are various views regarding Mary, the fact that the Roman Catholic Church prays to her to intervene on our behalf in such prayers as the “Hail Mary” and “Rosary”, violates what Jesus taught us in John 14-16 when He taught the church to ask the Father in the Name of Jesus. Furthermore, 2 Timothy 2:5 says that there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ. So to ask Mary or any of the saints to go to the Father on our behalf is against the clear teaching of scripture.

There are supposedly five major dogmas regarding Mariology (the study of Mary in the Roman Catholic Church).

The first one, in the Council of Ephesus is biblical, but the next four dogmas are as unbiblical as you can get! Basically saying that she ascended body and soul into heaven without sin, that she was co-redemptrix with Jesus, that she was born without original sin and that she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. (Matthew 13:55-56 mentions the names of the other children Mary had with Joseph and Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph knew her not (did not have intercourse) until after the birth of Christ, implying that she did not remain a virgin.)

Romans 6:23 also teaches that all humans have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Mary notwithstanding!

Check out the following five dogmas related to Mary.

“Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis, was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh. Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory. Mary, at her conception, was preserved immaculate from Original Sin. ‘Perpetual virginity of Mary’, means that Mary was a virgin before, during and after giving birth.”

Although there are only four Marian dogmas, popular support for a “fifth Marian dogma” which establishes Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix appeared in the 20th century both from lay groups and the clergy. According to L’Osservatore Romano, in 1996 the Holy See formed a commission to seek the opinion of scholars regarding the possibility and the opportuneness of establishing a fifth Marian dogma on Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. A lay movement called Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici is promoting the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix and provides petitions that can be signed by Roman Catholics at large and sent to the Pope in support of a formal dogmatic definition.

4. They practice celibacy in the priesthood.

The first command God gave Adam and Eve was to bear fruit and multiply (Genesis 1:28), which means as a married couple they were to have children. 1 Timothy 4:3 says that those who forbid marriage are teaching a doctrine of demons! To force men and women who want to serve God to take vows of poverty and remain celibate opened up a door for many sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church. It is not good that man should be alone and marriage is a sacred sacrament instituted personally by God. I totally disagree with the Roman Catholic Church in this area and cannot support such a doctrine. (Of course, it is cheaper for the Roman Catholic Church to support single men and women then those who get married and have children. So this doctrine may also be driven by economics more than theology.)

5. They equate church traditions and canon law as equal to the writings of the Bible.

The Roman Catholic Church believes that since the church gave scripture, the church has a right to change it. Hence, they place church traditions, which arose out of their various councils and canon law, on equal ground and/or above the Bible. This is why they can and will continue to hold to unbiblical doctrines such as praying for the departed saints, asking the saints in heaven to intercede for them, purgatory, and infant baptism (paedo baptism) to name a few. (Not even Vatican II corrected the error regarding tradition and scripture.)

6. They have allowed a culture of secularism in their seminaries.

By and large, the Roman Catholic Church places natural law as either above or equal to the Bible in regards to epistemology (the process of discovering truth). Consequently, when a person attends a Roman Catholic Church seminary to study for the priesthood, they will probably learn that classical philosophy; anthropology, sociology, psychology, and all the sciences, serve as the primary grid for determining truth while the Bible is used as an ancillary epistemological tool at best.

Furthermore, when they determine that science and the Bible clash, the biblical narrative is regarded as myth and parabolic. It’s no wonder that many priests, nuns and bishops have a liberal higher critical view of the Bible which eventually leads to dumbing down the Bible to fit cultural norms.

7. They violate the spirit of the teachings of Christ as found in Matthew 23.

Generally as we read this amazing discourse of Christ, He compares man-made religion with the true faith. Man-made religion focuses on hierarchical structures, titles, pomp, institutional power, religious attire, and man-made traditions more than inward holiness and relational faith. The Roman Catholic Church generally seems to fit into this framework. Many in these structures have a form of godliness but deny the power (2 Timothy 3: 5).

This is not to say that just because someone has a high church service and wears clerical garb that they are not manifesting true Christianity. However, from my perspective, the Roman Catholic Church is a massive institutional structure that too often emphasizes the ritual over knowing the manifest person and presence of Christ. (Of course, you can also place some Orthodox and Protestant groups in this Matthew 23 category as well.)

All creation yearns for the true manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:19), and our world will not be transformed with mere religion and ritual.

In closing, in spite of all of the above, I still hope and pray for a greater working relationship between Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, especially as concerning biblical ethics in culture and freedom of religion (First Amendment issues). As persecution becomes more intense, we will all be forced to work closer together. We probably have more in common than that which divides us. My prayer is also that all expressions of Christianity including Protestant Evangelicalism become more biblical and Christ-like so the world will believe that Jesus was sent by the Father.

[Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-why-i-am-not-a-roman-catholic/]

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]

7 Reasons I’m Not a Christian Dominionist
By Joseph Mattera

There have been some in the Christian camp who have labeled themselves Christian dominionists, possibly because they refer to the original covenant found in Genesis 1:26-28 as “the Dominion Mandate” and because they advocate a top-down approach regarding the imposition of biblical ethics on secular society.

Regarding my teachings on the kingdom, some with an anti-Christian bias have no doubt referred to me as a Christian dominionist even though I preach against it. These folks try to label and intimidate any Christian leader who believes biblical ethics belong in the public square.

Since I am not in agreement with Christian dominionist language, methodology and/or conceptual framework, I will use this missive to give seven reasons why I am not a Christian dominionist. Some reasons are theological and some methodological.

1. The word “dominion” in Genesis 1:28 is not referring to the exerting of dominion over humanity.

As we examine this passage we realize God never commanded Adam to exert dominion over other human beings, but to have stewardship over the created order. (Read the context in Genesis 1:29-30.)

Consequently, I have theological issues with those who use language like “God has called the church to take our cities!” The church is never called to force the gospel message upon the general public. Of course, when a law that reflects biblical ethics becomes public policy, the civil authorities should enforce its application, which is much different from forced conversions.

In a pluralistic society such as the United States, only those who win the public’s perception earn the right (meritocracy) to frame culture with their worldview. Instead of using force or depending upon mere political coercion, Christians are called to prove that their biblical values best serve society in the context of everyday life.

2. The New Testament model for gospel influence is through service, not through coercion.

The New Testament equivalent to dominion is influence. Jesus modeled how the church is to have influence when He washed the feet of His disciples and said that the greatest in the kingdom is the one who serves. Those who serve eventually lead because they become the problem solvers of their families and communities. Jesus did not just preach the Word, but He met the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people.

Consequently, if we want to influence a city, we don’t take it but rather love and serve it. The problem with the early church after Emperor Constantine began to favor Christianity (A.D. 313) was not that Jesus was proclaimed the universal or imperial ruler, but that the church transmuted itself and became elitist in nature. In some ways the oppressed (the church) became the oppressor and the Roman Empire influenced the church more.

3. I do not believe politics is the primary means to kingdom influence.

As a case in point, the Christian Right put most of their time and money into political elections since the late 1970s. Although they have won many elections which include two presidencies (Reagan and Bush), they have lost the public relations battle with the secular humanists, and lost influence in the majority culture. Consequently, while they were focusing on mere politics their opponents focused on the music, arts and entertainment industries and won the hearts of most of the millennials.

Presently, the highest value in the Western world is freedom of expression and the Christian Right is now viewed as intolerant bigots who are against progress, creativity and equality. Politics is very important but will never ultimately work unless the hearts and minds of a culture are in agreement with its stated platform and philosophy of life. Thus, the church should focus on reflecting God’s truth in every aspect of culture, not just politics.

4. I do not vote for a political candidate just because he/she is a Christian.

There have been several elections, both national and local, in which I voted for a non-Christian over a Christian candidate. I would rather vote for a qualified person than someone who agrees with me theologically. Regarding the presidency, we are not electing a theologian-in-chief but a commander-in-chief! Also, if we elect an unqualified person just because they are a believer it can backfire if their failures in policy are blamed on Christian beliefs. I will vote for a person irrespective of their beliefs and lifestyle if their values, qualifications and methodological approach to policy is closer to my view than their opponent, even if their opponent is a Christian.

Of course, all things being equal, if two candidates are virtually equal in regards to policy, values and pragmatics, I would choose the Christian over the non-Christian. My hope is that eventually more Christ-honoring people will be qualified to lead in every realm of society because the consummation of history will ultimately unite heaven and earth under the Lordship of Christ.

5. God uses non-believers to fulfill His purposes.

In Romans 13:4-7 non-Christian magistrates are called God’s servants. Isaiah 45-46 and the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther demonstrate how God uses unsaved political leaders for His purposes and even calls them His anointed ones. (Pagan kings such as Cyrus, Artaxerxes, Nebuchadnezzar and Darius are all biblical examples of how God used kings to save His people from a holocaust, to return them to their own land and to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.)

Through His common grace, God works through all people for the good of humanity even if they are philosophically opposed to Him. For example, many of the charitable outreaches I have participated in have been resourced and/or aided by secular agencies, political officials and some private citizens who have espoused a lifestyle different from mine yet we still serve together for the good of our communities.

6. I believe God has called believers to work toward having flourishing communities.

I am not opposed to Christians getting involved politically and I believe in biblical ethics in policy. However, our greatest ethos regarding ethics is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Consequently, this means that the church should not do community service merely when they can evangelize and add members. This is disingenuous and the world sees through this and has a right to be offended by it. We are to love for the sake of love and use our gifts and abilities as image-bearers of God, to creatively enhance our communities for human flourishing.

As we live a life dedicated to love and service we will inadvertently change the narrative folks have regarding our churches and our faith. The church once transformed the Western world through music, art, the promotion of aesthetics, abolishing slavery, fighting for civil rights, and through the founding of universities, disaster relief agencies and hospitals. Without the love and ingenuity of the church, the Western world would still be living as their pre-Christian Barbarian ancestors did.

Hence, God is calling believers back to both kingdom orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

7. I do not believe all nations will be Christianized before the bodily return of Christ.

The Bible teaches us that Jesus will not return until the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21) and all His enemies are under His feet (Ps. 110:2). Furthermore, Jesus as the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45) came to fully implement the cultural mandate given to the first Adam (Gen. 1:28), which is why He called believers to disciple whole nations (Matt. 28:19). While some Christians (some, not all Christian dominionists) have interpreted these passages to mean that every nation will eventually become Christian before He returns, I do not agree.

The Bible is not clear regarding what it means for His enemies to be put under His feet, so we are only left with conjecture regarding what kind of kingdom witness will be on the earth before His coming. Jesus said (Matthew 25:25-41) that there will be disobedient goat nations when He returns, thus showing that all nations will not be saved at His return. Also, scripture teaches in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 that “when He comes He will punish those who know not God and disobey the gospel.” Hence, there will be plenty of unbelievers at His return.

Finally, it says in Revelation 20:8-10 “that near the end of human history Satan will deceive some of the nations” and Revelation 21:24 (KJV) that “the nations that are saved will be able to enter into the Holy City” which implies that there will be large collections of unsaved people groups at the consummation of human history. What all these passages teach is that, this side of heaven, we will never experience the fullness of the kingdom until Jesus returns. This does not mean that we do not try to manifest His kingdom wherever we go, but that we occupy and function as the salt and light of the world until He comes (Luke 19:13; Matt. 5:13-16).###

Original Source: http://josephmattera.org/seven-reasons-why-i-am-not-a-christian-dominionist/

[Editor’s Note: Bishop Joseph Mattera is the president of the US division of the International Coalition of Apostles, an organization that claims conservatorship of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), presided over and proliferated by C. Peter Wagner, who abruptly stepped down after spearheading the very public and highly-publicized, purportedly prophetic “apostolic alignment” ceremony of the bizarre, brash, substance-abusing, New Age stigmaticist and sorcerer, convicted child-molester, head-to-toe-tatted, biker-dude, WWF-wannabe, frontman of the so-called “Lakeland Outpouring,” Todd Bentley, whose longtime hypocritical secret life of adultery and multifaceted debauchery was exposed the very next day, bringing an abrupt end to the months-long freak show that was televised around the world on the now essentially defunct, blasphemously-named “God TV” network. This inexplicable enigmatic event brought increased international disgrace and disrepute upon the ICA organization and its more prominent members, in particular, who were already perceived by many in the Body of Christ as authority-grubbing, egotistical elitists who used their self-proclaimed status as self-proclaimed, self-appointed apostles for self-aggrandizing and self-exalting purposes. A myriad of other extant proponents and subscribers of the apostolic-prophetic restoration who are not affiliated with the ICA (who are far more in number than those who are) are highly disturbed and perturbed by the antics, actions, and reflected attitudes, and in some cases, broadly-held doctrines, of the ICA and some of its members in that they are misrepresenting and discrediting apostolic and prophetic functions, and thereby deterring and delaying the apostolic-prophetic restoration and God’s purposes for it. The present primary leader of the international ICA is John Kelly, one of the organization’s original founders, who had voluntarily stepped away from top-leadership position in the ’90s citing health issues among other reasons, ceding leadership to Wagner, at the time. SLM is encouraged by this critique, albeit, indirect, by Joseph Mattera on the Scripturally-indefensible Dominionism (a.k.a., “Kingdom Now”) doctrine, and hope that it is a harbinger of more forthcoming, sorely needed, correctives to the ICA, its members, and its unofficial affiliates and subordinates. The ICA and those associating itself with its endeavors and enterprises would do well to recognize and perhaps even acknowledge the existence of this aforementioned myriad of extant non-ICA-affiliated proponents and subscribers of the apostolic-prophetic restoration and their aversion to such extreme heterodoxies as Dominionism, Preterism, Amillennialism, et al., along with other unorthodox teachings, private interpretations, and quirky beliefs emerging from the New Order of the Latter Rain movement in the late 1940s, of which C. Peter Wagner stated and restated numerous times, in writing and orally, the NAR of which he was a proponent, was an extension and continuation. In what seems to many to be blinding, narcissistic egotism, the ICA seems oblivious to the fact that its public persona is in desperate need of massive rehabilitation. Or, maybe, it, i.e., its members, couldn’t care less, despite the fact that God’s purposes for the apostolic and prophetic functions in the last hours of the Church’s presence on the earth is (in one sense) being severely harmed and hindered by same. See also SLM’s previously published disclaimer regarding this author. It is important to recognize that Mattera’s disavowing and tacit denouncing of Dominionism is also a refutation, inadvertent or intentional, of the so-called “Seven Mountain” teachings popularized by prominent ICA affiliates/members, the origins of which are rooted in Marxism, and the essence of which is Dominionism.]

SECOND WARNING – BILL JOHNSON AND BETHEL CHURCH
By Andrew Strom

Bill & Beni JohnsonA couple of years ago we sent out a Warning itemizing a number of facts about Bill Johnson‘s ministry and Bethel Church in Redding. Numerous witnesses and videos from Bethel show that this church is spreading an “anointing” very similar to Todd Bentley – i.e. spiritual “drunkenness,” jerking, hysterical laughter, “angel orbs,” “fire tunnels,” spirit travel, mystical “portals,” etc. Plus constant talk in their ministry school of bizarre angel encounters and trips to the “third heaven.” All of it has an extremely “New Age” feel. And it is still going on today. (But even worse, as we shall see).

Bill Johnson strongly defended Todd Bentley – even after his divorce and remarriage. No wonder, for the “anointing” that both men carry seems almost identical (though their “style” is very different). These facts are beyond dispute and have been confirmed by many witnesses.

But whenever I say such things about Bill Johnson, people rush to defend him, saying what a “great guy” he is, and what a great ministry he has. And yes, he is a very charming man who does say good things. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be so dangerous. Deception always wraps itself in the best “sheep’s wool” it can find. Otherwise it would have no chance of deceiving the sheep! Why do you think the Bible warns of “SEDUCING” spirits in the Last Days – and “LYING” signs and wonders? If the deception was not so “seductive” then nobody would fall for it. And this stuff is very seductive indeed. Continue reading “WARNING #2: Bill Johnson and Bethel Church” »

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]

 

Charles G. Finney

Charles Grandison Finney (1792–1875)

Why I Left Freemasonry
By Charles G. Finney, D.D.

When I was converted to Christ I had belonged to the Masonic Lodge in Adams, New York, about four years. During the struggle of conviction of sin through which I passed, I do not recollect that the question of Freemasonry ever occurred to my mind.

New Views of Lodgism

But soon after my conversion, the evening came for attendance upon the Lodge, and I went. They, of course, were aware that I had become a Christian and the Master called upon me to open the Lodge with prayer. I did so, and poured out my heart to the Lord for blessings upon the Lodge. I observed that it created considerable excitement. The evening passed away, and at the close of the Lodge I was asked to pray again. I did so, and retired much depressed in spirit. I soon found that I was completely converted from Freemasonry to Christ, and that I could have no fellowship with any of the proceedings of the Lodge. Its oaths appeared to me to be monstrously profane and barbarous.

At that time I did not know how much I had been imposed upon by many of the pretensions of Masonry. But, upon reflection and examination, a severe struggle and earnest prayer, I found I could not consistently remain with them. My new life instinctively and irresistibly recoiled from any fellowship with what I now regarded as “the unfruitful works of darkness.”

Quietly Withdrawing Membership

Without consulting anyone, I finally went to the Lodge and requested my discharge. My mind was made up. Withdraw from them I must — with their consent if I might; without this consent if I must. Of this I said nothing; but somehow it came to be known that I had withdrawn.

They therefore planned a Masonic festival and sent a committee to me, requesting me to deliver an oration on that occasion. I quietly declined to do so, informing the committee that I could not conscientiously, in any wise, do what would show my approval of the institution, or sympathy with it. However, for the time, and for years afterward I remained silent, and said nothing against Masonry; though I had then so well considered the matter as to regard my Masonic oaths as utterly null and void. But from that time I never allowed myself to be recognized as a Freemason anywhere.

Beginning a Public Testimony

This was a few years before the revelations of Freemasonry by Captain William Morgan were published. When that book was published, I was asked if it was a true revelation of Freemasonry. I replied that it was so far as I knew anything about it, and that as nearly as I could recollect, it was a verbatim revelation of the first three degrees as I had myself taken them. I frankly acknowledged that that which had been published was a true account of the institution, and a true exposé of their oaths, principles and proceedings. After I had considered it more thoroughly, I was more perfectly convinced that I had no right to adhere to the institution, or appear to do so; and that I was bound, whenever the occasion came, to speak my mind freely in regard to it, and to renounce the horrid oaths that I had taken.

Masonic Oaths Procured by Fraud

I found that in taking these oaths I had been grossly deceived and imposed upon. I had been led to suppose that there were some very important secrets to be communicated to me; but in this I found myself entirely disappointed. Indeed I came to the deliberate conclusion that my oaths had been procured by fraud and misrepresentations; that the institution was in no respect what I had been informed it was; and as I have had the means of examining it more thoroughly, it has become more and more irresistibly plain to me that Masonry is highly dangerous to the State, and in every way injurious to the Church of Christ.

Features of an Anti-Christ

Judging from unquestionable evidences, how can we fail to pronounce Freemasonry an unchristian institution? We can see that its morality is unchristian. Its oath-bound secrecy is unchristian. The administration and taking of its oaths are unchristian and a violation of the positive command of Christ. And Masonic oaths pledge its members to some of the most unlawful and unchristian things: Continue reading “Why I Left Freemasonry” »

For three years or so the Lord has been speaking to me out of the prophetic prediction of Malachi 3:1-6 concerning imminent events that He will be orchestrating in the Church that He is building, i.e., the genuine Body of Christ. In the first quarter of this year, the Lord has been continually increasing the intensity and urgency of what he has been showing and telling me in this regard. I cannot possibly convey much at all of those prophetic insights He’s been communicating to me here in this forum and format or at this time because it is far too expansive and extensive and I have only recently begun to attempt to transfer it from my spirit to paper, so to speak, or in reality, to computer. I will, however, be progressively sharing it in some books and study courses I am currently and concurrently working on.

Anyone who has any substantial experience in “prophetic writing” knows how arduous, strenuous, and time-consuming such an endeavor can be, especially when words so often fail when attempting to convey spiritual impressions, concepts, precepts, and insights into human language as the medium of natural – i.e., intellectual – assimilation. I cannot account for the experiences of other prophets, but I know in my own case, what I “see” in my spirit, is so clear, precise, unambiguous, forthright, apparent, but when I attempt to communicate what I’ve seen in the spirit for consumption by others, words/language fail, and communication methodology conventions hinder rather than help. Or maybe in reality its just my own communication capacities that are lacking.

Many times I’ve wished that God would allow at least momentarily a peeling back of the clouds of human carnality overlaying our spiritual senses (hearing and sight) so that pristine spirit-to-spirit communication could transpire, but as idealistic and desirable as that might seem, it is not His plan or desire. Maybe some of those who are called upon by the Lord to communicate prophetically to God’s people understand what I am trying – probably ineptly and inartfully – to say.

Notwithstanding, I rise today through the auspices of this forum to make a sincere and earnest attempt to convey what I believe I received as a prophetic word from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, which He has instructed me to convey to the Church He is building, that is, His Body. A few days ago, I heard Him instructing me in my spirit to sit down at my computer, write what He speaks to me, and title it “A Prophetic Prognosis.” I did; He did; and what He spoke is what this article is about. It is too long and would take up too much space to place the whole message into this post format. So I have summarized what He spoke to me here and provided a link to the PDF document that contains the entire prophetic word. Continue reading “A Prophetic Prognosis” »

TEN JUDGMENTS OF JESUS AGAINST THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS OF THE CHURCH
By Joseph Mattera

Every church and/or organization has a corporate culture with norms, rules and expectations that pressure participants to conform. Some cultures are good and some bad. That being said, there are particular attributes that characterize false religions or become the norm during religious decline in a true faith such as Christianity. For example, “Every religious system in the world is centered upon a temple (or a sacred place) and has rites and ceremonies, has hierarchies and titles distinguishing men from one another, and has holy days and holy celebrations” (quoted from a teaching I heard from Pastor Tommy Moya several weeks ago).

The Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Micah and Amos decried religious ritual that was without true righteousness, humility and love for neighbor (Isaiah 1:10-17; 58; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:8). The line of prophets arose starting in the eighth century B.C. primarily because Israel had a tendency to focus more on adhering to the temple ritual worship of the Levitical system than the ethical lifestyle required by the Law of Moses as found in the Ten Commandments. For this, the prophets pronounced judgment upon the nation, and God dispersed the people and, on two occasions, destroyed their temple.

We have the same issue in today’s church, irrespective of the denomination or expression of the Body of Christ. (Many Pentecostal, charismatic and Evangelical churches have these same issues.) Not only that, but all leaders (including me) have to constantly grapple with some or all of the following issues internally to make sure we are never sucked into this false system. Continue reading “Ten Marks of False Religious Systems” »

I feel led of the Lord to address a very vital matter that is a stumbling block for many people that prevents them from receiving the ministry they desperately need for their life.

From the beginning of human history, God has always used people as vessels through whom to do what He wants to do on Earth. It would take quoting half the Bible to provide Scripture for that, so obviously that’s impractical here. But, anyone who knows much about the Bible and “His-story” knows that’s true. One Scripture sort of sums it all up for me: “The heavens are the heavens of the LORD, But the EARTH He has given to the sons of men” (Psa. 115:16).

Beginning with Adam and Eve, God established Mankind as the surrogate caretakers of the Earth. So, God has always worked through human surrogates or stand-ins. What He does on Earth, He does primarily and preeminently through people — people acting as God’s human agents or operatives. The Bible is FULL of stories demonstrating that God works through people, and distributes what He distributes through people, and does whatever He does through people.

Ministry—of all things—is the same. Genuine, God-called, God-appointed ministers are God’s select surrogates through whom He distributes blessings and all manner of ministry. Not to say that one cannot receive directly from Him as a result of your intimacy with Him, particularly when you’ve drawn near to Him and He then has drawn near to you. Of course, direct, personal ministry from God is also a reality. But, the fact is that sometimes God chooses to do what He does — even regarding ministry — through someone else, a fellow human, rather than directly. In fact, if that were not true, there would be no need at all for ministers.

Jesus gave a word of instruction to the original apostles that is also a word to everyone in the ministry in all ages, though actually the most frequently quoted part of that word is only one part of the message He spoke: “FREELY you received, FREELY give!” (Mat. 10:8). While this word is one of the most important words He gave to His disciples, unfortunately it has also become one of the most misunderstood and misapplied words of Jesus. Many people whose hearts are not right even though they may claim to be Christians refer to this passage as proof text for their completely erroneous and ludicrous assertion that ministers should do all they do for free, i.e., without any compensation for their labors whatsoever. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth! Continue reading “Did Jesus Command Ministers to Minister Without Compensation or Support?” »

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