THE BEREAN CALL ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Weaning Evangelicals Off the Word-Part II T.A. McMahon
Last month, in part one of this series, we quoted the Apostle Paul speaking about how Christians would view doctrine in the time prior to the return of Christ for His church: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3,4). Obviously, biblical doctrine will not be looked upon favorably.
The implication is that doctrine will be regarded as rather burdensome, something that Christians of the future won’t want to “endure.” Conforming to sound doctrine involves spiritual discipline, thoughtful diligence, and making choices based on God’s Word that go against the desires of the flesh. What is sound doctrine? Very simply, it is the teachings of God, including His instructions, His precepts, His commandments—in short, it is every word that He says from Genesis to Revelation.
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). Yet in the Last Days, many if not most Christians will not endure sound doctrine. So what will be left? Apostasy—a form of Christianity that is a mere shell of what the Bible teaches. It will accommodate the lusts of the flesh under the guise of godliness, as Paul tells us in his second epistle to Timothy. Furthermore, there will be an ample supply of persuasive Christians around who will, wittingly or unwittingly, subtly and not so subtly (but nonetheless surely), subvert sound doctrine. And the process is already well underway.
As we pointed out in part one, Satan’s chief strategy in the seduction of mankind is to undermine, pervert, distort, corrupt, libel, denigrate, and deny the Scriptures by any and every means he can. The end product of his mission will be an apostate religion and church in which its adherents will worship and follow the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness whom Satan will empower. Fulfilling his mission involves a rather simple formula that was terribly effective in the Garden of Eden and throughout the Old Testament and Apostolic times. It has continued throughout church history right up to our present day: to induce humanity to deviate from and then ultimately reject what God has said. Adam and Eve were the first to succumb.
An inherited sin nature made their offspring easier prey for the adversary, the devil, who goes about as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). God continually declared to the Israelites that if they obeyed Him they would be blessed, and if they walked in disobedience they would suffer the devastating consequences of their sin: their separation from God, and God’s separation from them, the loss of righteous guidance and protection, and the various disciplinary actions of God, including being subjected to His wrath. Israel’s wilderness experiences in Exodus and through the cycles of rebellion and repentance in the book of Judges testify to the fact of God being true to His word and His warnings. Deuteronomy seems to be an exercise in redundancy as Moses again and again issues God’s instructions to the children of Israel and cautions them to carefully obey what He has commanded.
It wasn’t just a matter of law, but of life: “And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life” (Deuteronomy 32:46,47). Samuel, the prophet and judge, echoes Moses’ exhortation more than three centuries later: “Serve the Lord with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain” (1 Samuel 12:20,21). Not only is turning from God a pursuit after vanity, something worthless, but the process itself is wickedness: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Samuel 15:23).
Samuel’s inspired analogy underscores not only the evil of rebellion as it relates to idolatry but it provides insight that helps us recognize Satan’s inducements to disobedience that are prevalent in the church today. Idolatry was the dominant issue. The children of Israel were commanded not to make graven images or gods of silver or gold (Exodus 20:3,4, 23). What was their reply? “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient” (Exodus 24:7). Yet days later, when Moses failed to return from Mount Sinai and fear set in, they turned from the words of God to what they supposed would better meet their emotional and spiritual “felt needs.” They fashioned a physical object to worship—a golden calf. Although their act was unmitigated rebellion against God, let’s consider what very likely influenced their thinking. Their spiritual leader had disappeared. Panic gripped them.
They were more comfortable with the physical forms of worship learned from the Egyptians than with instructions from an invisible God. Perhaps Aaron thought the best way to pacify the people was to give them something their physical senses could relate to—something experientially reassuring. What’s wrong with taking a wholistic approach, i.e., meeting the needs of body, mind, and spirit? Wouldn’t their worship of a physical thing, as well as the spiritual stimulation of ritual, be “acceptable,” as long as it was directed toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Aaron must have thought so. He crafted a golden calf, built an altar, oversaw the liturgy, and dedicated the feast “unto the Lord.” The Israelites’ response was a precursor to the spirit of religious ecumenism and compromise, so prevalent in our day, which is also based upon lies: “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4).
We urgently need a biblical understanding of what idolatry comprises. Old Testament examples and the admonitions against it are given by God. Why would they be relevant for us? Because the evangelical church today is following Aaron’s example! Most Christians would define idolatry as “whatever takes the place of God in our lives.” True. Yet, too often, that rather general answer fails to help us understand the ways and means by which idolatry works. Consequently, we may not have the discernment necessary to be on our guard against it. Why is idolatry so critical? Let’s start with the obvious: The Bible defines idols as false gods (Psalm 96:5). They are items of deception and, even worse, the creations of men and devils. To worship them is delusion.
The veneration itself often consists of debauchery and depravity, ritual activities completely given over to the physical senses. Idolatry involves materialism and experientialism, totally oriented toward the flesh. The so-called gods are physically represented and sensually worshiped. Most evangelicals know all this, but what many seem not to understand today is the nature of idolatry and how it subverts our worship of the true and living God. The worship God desired from the Israelites, His people whom He set apart to receive His Messiah, stands in stark contrast to the religious endeavors of the heathen nations. Rather than giving them images, Moses spoke the words of God to them, and then he wrote the words in a Book. “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord...and he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people” (Exodus 24:4,7).
He told them (then wrote it down) that the making of images to represent God is condemned: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4-5). Why would God give such a command? Because no image that man could ever draw, engrave, paint, sculpt, fashion through any medium, or conjure up in his mind could truly represent Jehovah God. He is infinite (1 Kings 8:27). He is spirit (John 4:24). He is invisible (John 1:18).
Even the God-prescribed places of worship were drastically different from their pagan counterparts. There was nothing physical to worship! The Holy of Holies within the tabernacle, and later in Solomon’s temple, contained not the image of God but the Word of God, represented by the Ark of the Covenant. Contained within the Ark was the Testimony of God, the second set of tablets written by God’s own hand (Deuteronomy 10:1,2). Again, by the design of God, the emphasis is on the Word. God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity through words, not Images. In like manner, worship must be through His Word, according to His Word. No doubt He selected words because they are best suited to convey precisely what He wants mankind to know and to do. Words have definite meanings and can be interpreted objectively.
Only words, spoken or written, can come close to accurately communicating attributes of our transcendent God and His divine nature. On the other hand, worship aroused by imagery is based upon the imagination rather than upon the teachings of Scripture. Religious images can at best only convey information in a symbolic and superficial way. Their interpretations are mostly subjective, experiential, and rely mainly upon the imagination of the observer. The message of the Bible, however, is not about aesthetic gratification but about our redemption; it’s not about our feelings but His truth, which images can never express but only oppose.
Jesus prayed to His Father for His disciples, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). The theology of the Bible is instructional. It is given in words so that man can understand it. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7). The Bible encourages faith that is founded upon evidence, logic, and reason. No image-reliant belief system can make those claims, and when the people of the Book turn to religious imagery, they are abandoning reason and following idolatry. That happened to the Israelites throughout their history, including when they were instructed by God to make a bronze serpent as a symbol that ultimately pointed to Christ’s death on the Cross, in payment for the sins of the world.
They later turned it into an object of idolatry and as a consequence God told them to destroy it (2 Kings 18:4). Throughout its history, Christendom has likewise succumbed to idolatry through imagery and liturgical ritual. Roman Catholic tradition credits St. Veronica as having captured the image of Christ upon her veil, which supposedly became the source for later icons, paintings, and engravings of Jesus. St. Veronica continues to be venerated today when Catholics observe the ritual of the Stations of the Cross. Eastern Orthodoxy developed icons of Christ, Mary, and the Saints as devices for mystically transcending the temporal through imagery that enables one to “spiritually see” indescribable divinity. In the ninth century, the Russian Orthodox Church incorporated icons as a central part of their worship, including a form of divination known as “praying through the icons.” Again, this is religious rebellion, which the Scriptures tell us is as the sin of witchcraft.
The Emperor Constantine did much to introduce idolatrous imagery into Christianity in order to appease the multitudes of pagans he coerced into joining his newly favored religion of the realm. It was during the Middle Ages, however, that the Roman Catholic Church greatly increased its use of visual imagery. Religious statues, paintings, reliefs, the display of relics, as well as expanded liturgies with the use of luxurious vestments, incense, candles, and processions were increasingly emphasized to encourage the participation of the mostly illiterate population. Rather than educate the people, the Church of Rome fed them an experiential, visual theology that prolonged their ignorance of the Scriptures and bred superstition.
By God’s grace, Gutenburg’s printing press in the fifteenth century and the Reformation in the sixteenth century were instrumental in helping to turn those who “protested” against the abuses of the Catholic Church back to the Bible. Astonishingly, the evangelical church is progressively sliding into idolatry as it turns from the Word of God to visual imagery. A goal of the American Bible Society is to put the entire Bible on video to accommodate our visually oriented generation (which has little interest in reading). The Jesus Film, a dramatic representation of the Gospel of Luke, has been the staple of Campus Crusade’s overseas evangelical efforts. The very Catholic movie The Passion of the Christ became a runaway box-office hit, largely due to the overwhelming support it received from evangelicals.
Biblically conservative mission organizations such as Gospel for Asia are using Mel Gibson’s Hollywood production as part of its outreach program. Millions of The Passion of the Christ DVDs were purchased by evangelical churches for their Sunday schools, Bible studies, and small group meetings. Religious movies are on the rise (e.g., The Nativity Story, One Night with the King) as evangelicals “partner” with Hollywood and demonstrate that they are an eager and profitable market. One pastor, whose church bought out theaters for private showings of The Passion (which produced only “one conversion”) repented. He came under the conviction that rather than partnering with, his church was, in fact, “pimping for Hollywood.” As true as that may be, and as praiseworthy as his repentance was, if he doesn’t understand the serious nature (as explained above) of attempting to represent God’s Word in dramatic visual form, he is vulnerable to repeating the same error with visual idolatry.
This is not a blanket condemnation of the film/video medium, but films cannot be used to present the Scriptures visually without becoming idolatrous. Not only are the images historically false (they are conjured up from the imagination of a screenwriter or director) but they must also conform to the mechanics of the medium (acting, cinematography, art direction, lighting, music, sound effects, etc.), which are designed to manipulate the senses and the emotions for dramatic purposes (see Showtime for the Sheep?, www.thebereancall.org a more detailed explanation).
Biblical movies are just one trend among dozens that are contributing to weaning evangelicals off the Word of God and producing biblically illiterate Christians. This is especially true regarding our visually oriented youth. In the final part of this series, we want to give more extensive examples of movements within evangelical Christianity that are aggressively turning our next generation away from the Scriptures and toward an idolatry of experientialism. We serve a merciful God who can rescue a soul out of the darkest of circumstances but who will not support by His grace man’s religious ways and means in their attempts to serve Him. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). To the degree that we deviate from His way, we are lapsing into idolatry. As Jesus explained, “God is a Spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). TBC ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Quotable ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
God loves broken things and broken people. As Vance Havner wrote, “It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that sheds forth perfume. It is Jacob limping from Jabbok who has power with God and men. It is Peter weeping bitterly who returns to greater power than ever.” William MacDonald, The Forgotten Command: Be Holy, 195 Out of the heart “are the issues of life....” As our thoughts are, so are our affections...our prayers, and all else....God...knows the thoughts and judges them....In what does the difficulty of Christianity lie [but] in keeping of the thoughts in bounds. Without this, all religion is but “bodily exercise.” Papists may mumble over their prayers, hypocrites may talk, but this is godliness.
Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680), The Vanity of Thoughts, 28 Careless seems the great Avenger; history’s pages but record One death-grapple in the darkness ’twixt old systems and the Word; Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne— Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own. James Russell Lowell, 1819-1891 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Q&A ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Question: I love TBC. It keeps me informed on the issues that the fundamentalist sect of Christianity is concerned with....I’m an “informed atheist”...in that I’m just as knowledgeable about the Bible, its god and related subjects as either Dave or T.A. Tell Dave I read In Six Days. That book confirmed why sectarian religious views and science are incompatible. I was saddened at the waste of the 50 authors’ minds. As you are aware, the greatest enemy of religion is reason (Martin Luther), for it exposes “faith” as the emperor’s new clothes that it is. All one has to do to overthrow atheism...is to obey Paul when he says the gospel isn’t word only, but a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. How hard can it be for an In-Six-Days god to put arms, legs, and other missing body parts on the fine Christian men/women who were deceived by Bush to fight for God and country in Iraq? Perhaps Biblegod could “stop” the sun—which Hezekiah says is a “light” thing....Even something as easy as causing an iron axehead to “swim” will suffice. How hard can any of this be for a real God? (Humans making excuses for their God’s inaction is unworthy of a real, divine being.)
Man has invented close to 6,000,000 gods! All of you at The Berean Call are atheists concerning all but one! I have simply added that one to the pile of would-be gods. Love your newsletter. Response [as promised in Letters section last month]: Apparently TBC hasn’t helped you but has only given your atheist mill more grist for mocking God. That fact either reflects our incompetence—or your unwillingness to admit the truth that would bow you before your Creator. You are not as knowledgeable about the Bible as you think you are. Instead, you exemplify the scripture that says, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tm 3:7). We encourage readers to “search the Scriptures daily.”
Neither the Scriptures nor TBC promotes “sectarian religious views.” If you knew the Bible as well as you claim, you would know that it is not about religion. The words “religion” and “religious” are found only seven times in the entire Bible—six times referring to false religion, and only once to true religion—which is not what you think it is. You think science and religion are at odds, yet the National Academy of Sciences says they are not. You say that faith is unscientific, “the emperor’s new clothes.” But hundreds of top scientists, past and present, disagree with you. William D. Phillips, who won the 1997 Nobel Prize in chemistry, once said that so many of his colleagues were Christians that he couldn’t walk across his church’s fellowship hall without “tripping over a dozen physicists....”
You seem to be out of touch with science and scientists. Has your atheism blinded you to the truth? Astronauts are scientists. The crew of Apollo 8 (William Anders, James Lovell, and Frank Borman) have all been inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame. They were the first humans to circle the moon, and on the evening of December 24, 1968, broadcast back to earth their reading of the first 10 verses in Genesis. They introduced this passage about God creating the universe with these words, “For all the people on Earth the crew of Apollo 8 has a message we would like to send you.” Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon.
The first food or drink ever ingested on the moon was the bread and wine Aldrin had brought to celebrate communion. And you say science and religion are incompatible and mock believers as unscientific? You are really out of touch! As for “sectarian religious views,” not one of the 50 scientist authors of In Six Days promotes such. These Christians are all competent scientists, respected in their fields, from Biology to Physics, Biochemistry to Genetics, Mathematics to Geophysics, Botany to Geology, etc. Your suggestion that scientists must be atheists contradicts the facts and reveals either ignorance or prejudice.
The greatest scientists of all time, the founders of science, nearly all believed in God. Among believers were: Aggasiz, Bacon, Bell, Boyle, Copernicus, Cuvier, Descarte, Fabre, Faraday, Joule, Kelvin, Kepler, Maxwell, Mendel, Newton, Pascal, Pasteur, and too many others to name. Boyle even left a fund to support lectures refuting atheism that still continue at Oxford today. Newton published more material devoted to the Bible than about mathematics and physics. Is your ignorance showing, or is it just prejudice? You claim to know the Bible yet say that “the greatest enemy of religion is reason”?
You haven’t heeded God’s challenge: “Come now, and let us reason together” (Is 1:18). Perhaps you overlooked the many times that Paul reasoned with Jews and Gentiles from the Scriptures. Or maybe you’ve forgotten that Peter reminds believers always to be ready to give a reason for why they believe (1 Pt 3:15). It is irrational to blame God for what Bush or any other man does in His name. And it is equal folly to blame God for wars and other evil and suffering in the world. This is not the world God made but the world we have made in our selfish rebellion against Him.
Of course TBC doesn’t honor the false gods that foolish men have invented. But even if there were a billion, that would be no reason to say there could not be one true God. Question: Have you read former President Carter’s new book Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid? Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has said that Carter’s book is “blatantly one-sided and unbecoming of a former president.” I was wondering what your thoughts are. Response: Yes, I’ve read that brazenly anti-Israel book. Israel is blamed for everything, the Arabs are whitewashed. Arafat is called “a strong leader...well-educated...[who] turned much of his attention to raising funds for the care and support of the refugees and inspiring worldwide contributions to their cause.”
No mention is made that Arafat and his PLO murdered thousands, or that he siphoned off billions for his Swiss bank accounts, lied continually, and never kept one promise that he made to Israel. Carter writes as an unabashed promoter of PLO and Muslim lies, which he passes off as the informed truth, for example: that Arabs, PLO, or “Palestinians” have never threatened Israel, have always wanted peace and have done all they could to effect it, and that the land of Israel belongs to them as descendants of the original inhabitants—none of this true! Carter dares to say that the Israeli kibbutz dwellers in 1948, who had few and inferior weapons, were “better armed” than the regular armies of the six Arab nations (600,000 against 60,000) who attacked Israel with tanks and planes, of which Israel had none.
He says it was “the continuing state of war between Israel and its neighbors [that] caused many Jews to flee Syria, Iraq, and other Arab countries to Israel.” No, it was 1,300 years of perpetual persecution and murder of thousands that caused Jews to flee to Israel when it became a nation and offered the first refuge they’d ever had. Carter’s claim that in 1993 Arafat and his PLO “recognized the right of Israel to exist in peace and security...renounced the use of terrorism [and] those articles of the PLO covenant that deny Israel’s right to exist” is not true. He blames “Israeli repression” of Palestinian rights for the terrorist attacks against Israel, exonerating the Arabs. He accuses Israel of imposing “apartheid” upon the “Palestinians” and says, “Peace will come...when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law...by accepting its legal borders.”
Carter is scandalously dishonest. In fact, Israel accepted the borders set by the UN in 1948. “Palestinians” could have been living in peace for the last 60 years, had they done likewise. Instead, the Arabs refused to accept the existence of an Israel of any size, attacked to annihilate her, and have sought to destroy her ever since. Any land Israel ever took was in self-defense against an enemy that will not recognize her existence (no Arab map in the world shows Israel). Why should Israel retreat to the indefensible borders dictated by the UN in 1948 (as Carter advocates), which the Arabs refused to accept? Never in history has an attack upon any country other than Israel been for the purpose of annihilation, which has been sworn to repeatedly by the Arab world. Muslims must destroy Israel—or renounce their religion, Allah, Muhammad, and the Qur’an.
Never was any nation except Israel blamed for failing to make peace with an enemy whose openly stated and irreversible goal was its total destruction. Never was a nation so pressured by the world to surrender territory taken in self-defense as has been Israel. Carter’s book justifies the Muslim desire to destroy Israel in order to make “peace.” In contrast, we give you the shocking truth in Judgment Day (see offering list). Question: Our church says you must speak in tongues or you don’t have the Holy Spirit. Is tongues for all? Response: Not a single verse says that the sign of having “received the Holy Spirit” is to speak in tongues.
No one can be saved without being indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit. A Christian has been “born again...of the Spirit” (Jn 3:7,8) and “by one Spirit...baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12:13). Those whom Paul asked, “Have ye received the Holy Ghost...?” (Acts 19:2-4) were not yet Christians. They were followers of John the Baptist and had never heard the gospel of Christ until Paul explained it to them. Paul asks a rhetorical question: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing?” (1 Cor 12:29,30).
The obvious answer is, “No. Not every Christian is an apostle, prophet, teacher, worker of miracles, healer, etc.” There is no reason for the next two questions to have a different answer: “Do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” Of course not -- unless all are apostles, prophets, and workers of miracles. The spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 are said to be distributed by the Holy Spirit when and to whom He wills. “Tongues” is part of this list. Just as no one can prophecy or heal at his own initiative or power, so no one can speak in tongues except as given at the time by the Holy Spirit. A basic error of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements has been to put tongues in a different category—a “gift” that one can “learn,” should continually “practice,” and can use whenever one pleases. That is not biblical.
One might as well practice walking on water or raising the dead as “practice speaking in tongues.” We do not get any gift from God by practicing. That false teaching has led multitudes astray and causes “tongues speakers” (including leaders) so often to fall into immorality. “Tongues” is the most dangerous gift. One could hardly deceive anyone to believe that he was raising the dead or restoring a missing limb. But it is quite easy to deceive oneself and others into thinking one is speaking in tongues. Millions have been and still are under this delusion, with serious consequences evident everywhere.
Question: Why is Israel giving up land -- and when will she once again have all the land God promised her? Response: The United States, UN, EU, and most of the world have been pressuring Israel ever since 1948 to give back the land she was forced to take in self-defense when attacked by Muslim neighbors determined to annihilate her. Tiny Israel is blamed for the terrorist attacks and wars that Arabs start. She depends upon Europe to buy her produce and upon the world to buy her electronics. If the nations boycotted her products (as some Christian denominations have advocated), how could she survive?
Although Israel is under God’s judgment for centuries of rebellion against Him, she is also under His protection. There can be no other explanation for the fact that she exists today. Israel will only possess in peace all the land God promised her when Christ intervenes at Armageddon to rescue her, all Israel believes He is the Messiah, and He sets up His kingdom over her and the world on the throne of David. This is declared clearly in Ezekiel 36-39, Zechariah 12-14, and elsewhere. -------------------------------------------------------------------
--------- News Alert ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Denverpost.com, 2/6/07: Disgraced pastor goes for master’s degree in psychology [Excerpts]—Former National Association of Evangelicals president and pastor, the Rev. Ted Haggard, emerged from three weeks of intensive counseling convinced he is “completely heterosexual” and told an oversight board that his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser. Haggard broke a three-month silence in e-mails over the weekend to select members of his former church. In the message, Haggard revealed that he and his wife, Gayle, intend to leave Colorado Springs and pursue master’s degrees in psychology through online courses. Among other things, the overseers urged Haggard to enter a 12-step program for sexual addiction.
Haggard’s “restoration” is being overseen by another panel: megachurch pastors Tommy Barnett and Jack Hayford, and H.B. London, who runs a Focus on the Family ministry to pastors. London said he was not surprised Haggard was considering the psychological field. “Many of us that go into the healing, helping professions do so out of some sort of dysfunction or traumatic event in our lives, and we want to do what we can to help other people avoid what we’ve gone through,” he said. [TBC: The only thing that is surprising about this article is that Haggard is not “confessing” that a demon made him carry on a sexual affair with a former male prostitute. That’s the usual rationale given by those involved with C. Peter Wagner’s Strategic Spiritual Warfare movement (see TBC issues May & June ’97...), a group heavily connected with Haggard and his church. But we suspect that wouldn’t play well in the press.
On the other hand, the myth of psychological counseling still has the world and the church duped. “Three weeks of intensive counseling” gave him insights from the professionals, whose degrees and licensing necessitate that they ignore sin and place the root of the problem and the blame elsewhere (e.g., his parents, a childhood trauma, or some experience buried deep within his unconscious). Now he and his wife want to become professionals as well. Tragically, the leaven of delusion spreads. Overseers recommend the unbiblical, occult inspired “12-step program for sexual addiction.” Focus on the Family’s London sees hope in Haggard’s desire to join the “helping professions.”] ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Itinerary ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mar 9-11 Westside Bible Church (Dave) Meridian ID (208) 938-9424 Apr 13-14 South Manitoba Prophecy Conference (Dave) Winkler MB (204) 325-6714 April 15 Ambassador Baptist Church (Dave) Morden MB (204) 822-3398 Apr 20-21 Discerning the Times Bible Conference (T.A.) Saskatoon SK (306) 717-0374 Apr 25- May 9 Various Assemblies of Believers in Albania (Dave) GEOSTURM01@aol.com Jun 2-3 A Church of Jesus (Dave) Port Neches TX (409) 722-6959 Jul 7-14 Word of Life (Dave) Schroon Lake NY (518) 532-7114 Aug 3-4 Hope for Today Conference (Dave) Chino Hills CA (800) 752-4253 Aug 9-11 TBC Conference (Dave/TA) Bend OR (800) 937-6638 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Letters ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Dave and Staff, Thank you all once again for another year’s magazines loaded with helpful information. Things here in the UK are spiraling out of control both morally and spiritually as a result, I firmly believe, of a judicial blindness upon the Nation’s leaders for willfully embracing and incessantly promoting devious lifestyles and concocting laws giving strong rights to the homosexual camp to sue anyone who does not bow the knee to their perversions. Please renew my subscription. GC (United Kingdom) Dear Mr. Hunt and Mr. McMahon, Let me thank you for The Berean Call letter every month. I appreciate your insight on the Scriptures and your truth on the Catholic religions.
I was Catholic the first 35 years of my life (I’m 75 now) but thank God and His grace, I’m free. MD (KY) Dear Dave, I just finished reading your book The Mind Invaders for the second time. [It] really encouraged me, and even though it’s a work of fiction, I also know that evil spirits truly work in such a deceitful manner. By leading victims unaware by these methods of so-called spiritists and mediums, these evil forces lead untold thousands into the paths of deception. As believers, we should be “blowing the whistle” on such travesties, even when the “wise” of this world call us small-minded and intolerant. CP (prisoner, FL) Dear Folks at Berean Call,
Please keep up the great work, particularly in your exposés on the failure of psychology and secular counseling. I work in the court system, and it’s discouraging and heartbreaking to see families in crisis being referred to counselors who do nothing but make their situations worse. It’s particularly distressing to see these spiritually bankrupt “solutions” used in juvenile courts, where so many lost, empty, precious children are floundering. I pray that their lives will be touched by true believers in Christ who will offer them life and hope in place of the deadness that all these secular programs doom them to. MC (NH)
Dear Co-Laborers in Christ, About two years ago, I was attending a good Bible-based community church when seemingly out of nowhere TULIP teaching became the focal point. I struggled with the “T” [Total Depravity] and the “U” [Unconditional Election] but when it came to the “L” (Limited Atonement), I looked around the congregation and noticed no one else seemed to be looking around—stunned, as I was. This Calvinist teaching was taught in-depth for several months. Even before moving on to the “I” and “P,” I hit a pit of despair. For the first time since my salvation, I began to doubt and realized there was no assurance. If I’m chosen, I’m chosen. If I’m damned, I’m damned. And God is glorified in both? I was astounded to learn that the words “world” and “whosoever” did not mean what they implied but meant that “God so loved the ‘chosen’...” and they were “whosoever.” For months I continued searching and despairing....
During this time, a friend came into [our] store and I tentatively shared with her my new-found doubts. My fear was that she too believed this TULIP doctrine. Instead she loaned me her husband’s book by Dave Hunt, What Love Is This? It was underlined and highlighted and I knew I needed my own copy. I contacted TBC and ordered the book....The ministry at TBC is invaluable. Many of our customers are delighted to find books that offer substance and answers to those who are thirsting, starving, and despairing. LP (WA) Dear Dave, It is with sadness that I ask to be removed from your mailing list. I have been an avid reader for over 12 years now.
I am United Pentecostal but the apostolic movement is far greater than one organization. Of course, we believe in the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ. One can’t see a Spirit for He is invisible. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is a Spirit. He is invisible too. Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God. God manifest in human flesh. There is only 1 Spirit—not 2 or 3. Scriptures say that the Lord is that Spirit. There is only One Lord—not 2 or 3. Acts 2:37 clearly shows that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ....You are in grievous error in your remarks and my heart goes out to you and forgives you, but how can two walk together unless they be agreed?
The Trinity doctrine is the only doctrine that links the Protestants and denominations to the Mother Harlot Church of Rome, kind of like an umbilical cord. We have severed all ties with Rome. VH (TX) Dear Berean Call, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for your newsletter. It is refreshing to read articles that declare fundamental, God-inspired truth. So many mainstream Christian magazines and newsletters along with the ministers of those denominations have bowed to such deceptive and liberal thinking. By the inspired Word of God today, as God allows, I will seek to only fill my mind with God’s Word, “The Standard for Truth.” Thanks for writing material that uses God’s Word as your plumbline. ML (prisoner, SC) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- TBC Notes ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Letters, We Get Letters Please don’t be upset if you take the time to write to us and you don’t receive a reply. Although we continue to grow as a ministry, we still try to keep TBC’s operation small and personal yet at the same time economically efficient. Aside from Dave, only one person answers letters on a regular basis, along with many other duties. Every letter is read, and the input is greatly appreciated and often put to use; but it is physically impossible to answer each one. We trust that our newsletter and the books and cds we recommend will continue to be the ministry’s primary information resource. The newsletter archives are available for free online and have proved to be tremendously valuable to our readers, providing answers to the majority of questions. T.A. McMahon Executive Director ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- TBC Extra ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
SHAMANISM IN THE CHURCH Occult “Eagle Spirituality” Manifests in Popular “Prophetic” Ministries As demonstrated by native American culture and indigenous people groups worldwide, animal worship has long been a means of contacting and interacting with deceiving spirits. Equally pleased to appear in human or animal form, they often take willing participants on exciting out-of-body experiences or communicate “secret knowledge.”
Modern shamans (who are as apt to wear suits as loin cloths) market seminars where everyday people can “encounter” their personal “power animal.” In public schools, children are encouraged to use their “imagination” and “dreams” for astral travel. Occult relaxation and visualization techniques are reinforced by literature such as the Harry Potter books and Scholastic’s “Animorphs” series, in which hero-children transform into creatures with special powers and abilities. Fictionalized in popular games and movies, these techniques are based on ancient occult practices that, once widely banned, now flourish virtually unchecked. According to answers.com, “a familiar spirit...obeys a witch, conjurer, or other users of the supernatural, and serves and helps that person....If they look like ordinary animals, they can be used to spy....These spirits [also]...inspire artists and writers.”
Many new age writers and occult practitioners have been assisted or encouraged by animals they perceive as “familiars.” As Patrick Ryan, author of The Eagle’s Call: A Journey of Body, Mind, and Spirit recounts, When I was writing this book...an eagle often circled the building in which I lived, visiting many times....When I was...doubting my direction, a coyote also came to visit....Across the street, it looked toward me as if encouraging me on....So, led by the spirit of coyote, eagle and the many other guides of the universe, I was able to complete this tale. Its primary message is about following the call of my body, mind and spirit. Romans 1:18-32 gives a clear account of man’s “call of his body and mind”—a rejection of God in favor of nature worship: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Rom 1:22-23).
Perhaps in part due to the reverence of “animal spirits” by ancient pagan cultures, animals continue to play a significant symbolic role in our world today. School and professional sports teams adopt animal names such as the panthers, tigers, lions, bears, wolves, or eagles—based on popular significance of animal traits. Consumers even purchase “animal” car models and athletic shoes marketed for their perceived attributes of speed and power. So, what’s the fuss? Is animal symbology inherently evil? No, even Scripture makes generous use of animals as symbols—from love poems in The Song of Songs to comforting analogies of the Lord: “hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Ps 17:8b) et al.
Take the eagle, for example. Revered as a national symbol by various countries, Scripture makes several positive references to the eagle. One of the most popular verses cited for encouragement is “they shall mount up with wings like eagles...” (Is 40:31). Many are comforted by the eagle as a symbol of patriotism and American heritage (which is often equated with Christianity). Fewer though, take note of passages that portray the eagle in a negative light, or realize that the eagle doubles as a Masonic symbol of the phoenix, representing “rebirth through fire” in occult mythology. In addition to its being an “unclean” animal,
Scripture also contains a number of negative references to the eagle (“They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey” (Job 9:26). Obadiah even contains a reference to Edom as an eagle, apparently as a type of Lucifer: “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord” (Ob 1:3-4). So why do the neo-prophets and apostles of today use the eagle as a symbol of choice?
Many “prophetic” ministries associate eagles with tremendous natural vision and observable qualities of “rising above;” but like shamans and seers—ancient and modern—they err in assigning to eagles spiritual qualities. An occult website declares the eagle’s role is that of an “illuminating force” that rises on the east wind, whose gift is that of “seeing hidden spiritual truths” and “whose strength is by its connection to spirit guides.” The website advises: “One who flies with the Eagle has a responsibility...to operate from Higher Intent, to develop the latent abilities of Illumination, and then freely share this Illumination with Others.” In other words, a seer who channels the eagle is to “impart” this knowledge and “gifting” to others.
A number of prominent ministries use the eagle as a corporate symbol, and most of these do so quite innocently. But research into the testimony of a young prophetess associated with C. Peter Wagner’s self-titled New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) raises great concern. (The NAR, a blended resurrection of several modern heresies—kingom-dominionism, manifest sons of God, new breed, et al.—is spreading like wildfire through a growing number of charismatic and evangelical churches.) Here is just one example of cause for alarm: Sharnael Wolverton...was called to the ministry at an early age....During [an] incredible period of seeking intimacy with [God] she encountered many dreams, visions, visitations and divine appointments leading to the birthing of Swiftfire Ministries....One divine appointment...was with Bob Jones, who introduced her to a golden eagle named “Swift.” “Swift is sent forth to those in order to carry the purposes of God swiftly.”
Another encounter was with Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic, who had also been introduced to Swift. This admission by a professing Christian “minister” is nothing short of astounding! Aside from this startling testimony, most followers of these seers (and even skeptics) would not think twice about the recurring “eagle” motif on the websites of Sharnael Wolverton (swiftfire.org), Bob Jones (bobjones.org/itinerary), and Patricia King (extremeprophetic.com). But with the knowledge that Bob Jones (a proven false prophet who was removed from ministry in 1991 for sexual misconduct) “introduced” at least two prominent neo-apostolic women to a demonic entity that manifests as an eagle (whom all three know as Swift) the “birds of a feather” mascots they share take on far greater significance.
Other “apostolic-prophetic” leaders who often teach with or promote Bob Jones also use the symbol of an eagle in their ministry logo: Paul Keith Davis, Rick Joyner, Bobby Conner, Cindy Jacobs, and others. Does this mean they also have the spirit of Swift to help them “carry out the purposes of God?” Not necessarily—but the connection between “eagle spirits,” shamans, and today’s neo-prophetic seers is unmistakable. This is the New Spirituality. Though his mystical teaching remains unchanged, none of Jones’ co-ministers or spiritual offspring seem to mind that his misconduct involved giving private “hands-on” readings to young women—disrobed to “stand naked before the Lord”—or that he was rebuked for other occultish practices.
Ironically, he is revered as a spiritual grandfather among today’s rising stars of the Third Wave (neo-apostolic) movement, promoted largely by the much-hyped pseudo-prophetic website, “The Elijah List.” But, Jones is in good company. Many of his disciples, as well as the “apostles” and “prophets” who endorse or teach with him, claim to have met and talked with angels, with the Lord, and with saints of the past (the forbidden practice of necromancy); and, they all take great pride in teaching others how to have angelic encounters and “third heaven visions.” Undoubtedly believing they are working divine signs and wonders, could they instead be “deceived and deceiving others” (2 Tim 3:13)? As God’s word declares, “There shall not be found among you any one...that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord” (Deut 18:10-11). —Mark Dinsmore