By Marsha West
November 4, 2006
Scripture twisting has become an art form. This is not just a problem in America. All over the globe false teachers are pulling Christians into their web of deception.
There’s so much unorthodox teaching going on that it’s impossible to expose all of it. Flawed “theology” should be obvious to Christians who are biblically literate. I’m not talking about Bible scholars; I’m talking about your average Jack and Jill Christian who study the Bible for all it’s worth. What results from a diligent study of God’s Word is discernment. Even so, false teaching blended with truth is sometimes hard to detect, even for the discerning mind. Which is why false teachers have been so successful at making their mark on the Church, and marketing their made up Christianity.
Don’t think for one minute that these men and women are unaware that what they’ve been feeding the gullible sheep is not only unorthodox, it’s heretical. Many of them know perfectly well that they’re preaching a different gospel. But they don’t care! In Part one, I used Robert Schuller’s “Theology of Self-Esteem” as an example. Rev. Schuller is the epitome of a false teacher who is preaching another gospel to millions of people. What is the true Gospel? Christ crucified. Schuller is more concerned with people’s “self-esteem” than with their eternal souls.
There are also false teachers among the Pentecostals.
Methodist holiness preacher Charles Parham is considered the founder of modern Pentecostalism. Parham broke with the Methodist church and started his own ministry. In 1901Agnes Ozman began to speak in "tongues" when hands were laid on her. Parham believed that speaking in tongues was both a sign of Spirit baptism and also the signal of the end of the age. Parham also linked the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with a latter-day Pentecost.
“What began on a corner at the turn of the twentieth century is now barreling down Main Street. What was once known as the Pentecostal movement has now splintered into numerous diverse, yet overlapping movements: Pentecostal, Charismatic, Vineyard, Word-Faith, and Holy Laughter.”
Here are a few more to add to the list: Latter Rain Restorationism; Third Wave (or Signs and Wonders); Dominionism; Deliverance; Soaking in the Spirit; New Apostolic Reformation. And I’ve only scratched the surface!
What this all boils down to is that the Church can’t make up its mind! Why? Because liberals, liars, low-lifes, losers and lunatics have infiltrated Christendom and made it one unholy mess! Is it any wonder that the younger generation want nothing to do with organized religion? Who can blame them!
Progressives would have us believe that Jesus is not divine and there was no resurrection. Scripture was written by men, not by Divine inspiration, the Bible is a book of myths and fables, full of contradictions, open to interpretation, holds hidden meanings only the “enlightened” know about. God loves, doesn’t judge, hence no Hell. And heaven’s for all! Triniterianism is out, modalism is in. Sodomy? No sin there! Fornication and cohabitation? Who cares! Abortion? My choice!
Pretty much everything is acceptable in our post-modern church, including outright heresy. Take for example Pastor Rick Joyner’s 1988 “vision” on the coming “revolution” in the Church,
Have I missed something? I can’t think of a single nation that trembles at the name of any of Rick Joyner’s so-called apostles. (More on them later.) Joyner’s alleged prophecy came to him almost 20 years ago. He claimed that the “soon to be” anointed would turn an upside world right side up. Well, what’s the hold up? With the way things are going in this country, I’m eager for the “great company” to turn things right side up.
NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION
Add to the list of church movements the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), also called the Latter Rain movement, which emerged in 1948. The current leader of NAR is C. Peter Wagner. Wagner is one of the leading authorities on the church growth movement and has been studying the field of church growth for over 30 years. C. Peter Wagner is the “presiding apostle” in the International Coalition of Apostles.
“C. Peter Wagner is attempting to will into existence what he calls a "New Apostolic Reformation." He tells us in a book he has edited called "The New Apostolic Churches" of the struggle he had with naming his new reformation.”
According to Orrel Steinkempt, NAR is not new at all. Bill Hamon has been teaching it for decades. “Can it be argued,” Steinkempt wonders “that this "New reformation" is something that God has just recently dropped new from heaven like the baby Superman from Krypton? I suggest that there is nothing new here at all and for anyone willing to do the study they will find it a mere cutting edge version of something at least 100 years old. G. Raymond Carlson, former General Superintendent of the AOG [USA], had this to say regarding the new apostles and prophets:
Steinkempt continues: “To Latter Rain teachers it seemed obvious that if there was to be a repeated apostolic Pentecost then apostles and prophets must be restored as well. These teachers then devised a historical scheme of restoration. Church history was understood as a succession of recoveries of lost or neglected truths. Luther recovered justification by faith, Baptists believers' baptism, Wesley holiness, A.B. Simpson healing and the early Pentecostal pioneers the gifts of the Spirit. The recovery process was now extended further. The end time body of Christ must go on to maturity and restore the apostles and prophets and these restored ministries must lead the church to a new and final dimension of power and authority not only bringing in the final harvest but establishing the Kingdom of God upon the earth.”
In John 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”
Now fast forward to 2006. According to C. Peter Wagner the prophets and apostles have been restored. But there’s tension in the ranks. Wagner explains the problem: “Prophets hardly ever go out-side the lines and try to set things in order. Prophets are not known for setting things in order, so they usually don't infringe on the territory of the apostle. But the apostle sometimes neglects the ministry of the prophet. This is one of the problems I've found when I first began associating with prophets and apostles. I began to understand they're the ones making up the new wineskin for the body of Christ, which I call the New Apostolic Reformation. Yet I was very surprised to find that many prophets don't even trust or like apostles around; and vice versa, many apostles don't trust or like prophets around.”
Let’s hope they get things ironed out.
The one thing that C. Peter Wagner has right is that the ministry of the apostles continues today. “Not in the person of anyone claiming to be an apostle, but in the New Testament. Every time the Word of God in the New Testament is read and proclaimed, the apostolic ministry and office fulfills its role. The apostles of the first century live on today, in the Church, through the Word God has given us through them.”
One of the most prominent leaders within the Emergent Church movement is Brian McLaren, founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church and one of progressive evangelical’s best selling authors. According to Caryle Murphy, staff writer for the Washington Post, Brian McLaren offers “an evangelical vision that emphasizes tolerance and social justice. He contends that people can follow Jesus's way without becoming Christian. In the latest of his eight books, ‘The Secret Message of Jesus,’ which has sold 55,000 copies since its April release, he argues that Christians should be more concerned about creating a just ‘Kingdom of God’ on earth than about getting into heaven.” (Again, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”)
Jesus commands believers to follow His way. Certainly the unsaved can follow Jesus’ way without becoming a Christian. Following Jesus is to love your neighbor as yourself. But loving one’s neighbor is not what saves a person! The Bible has guidelines on how to live the Christian life -- and God expects His people to obey them! Being obedient is important, but it’s not what gets a person into heaven. To be an advocate of tolerance and social justice is admirable but it won’t get one single soul beyond the pearly gates. In other words, a “good deed doer” gets zero points with God. Put your faith in Jesus Christ, and the gates will be thrown open, the trumpets will sound, and the celebration will begin!
Where does Brian McLaren stand on the sin of homosexuality? Well, he’s not sure. When asked, this is how he responded, “Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we'll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they'll be admittedly provisional. We'll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we'll speak; if not, we'll set another five years for ongoing reflection. After all, many important issues in church history took centuries to figure out. Maybe this moratorium would help us resist the ‘winds of doctrine’ blowing furiously from the left and right, so we can patiently wait for the wind of the Spirit to set our course.”
With all due respect to Pastor McLaren, the wind of the Spirit has already set the course by inspiring the writers of Scripture, starting with the Genesis account. Scripture is what it is! As the good pastor knows, the issue of sodomy was figured out centuries ago. God addressed it directly in Genesis, Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter. A man lying with a man is a sin. Why does McLaren feel the need to ruminate over what God has made crystal clear in His Word?
If you’ve never heard of contemplative prayer, you will. It stems from contemplative spirituality, which has its roots in mysticism and the occult. It comes to us courtesy of the Roman Catholic Church. Contemplatives apply modern psychology and New Age/Eastern teachings to spirituality. So essentially it’s a blend of Christianity and New Age beliefs. Those who practice CP believe that spiritual growth and true spirituality come about by contemplation of God through emptying your mind. In other words, going into an altered state of consciousness. Hindus call this Transcendental Meditation (TM).
Here’s how TM works: “One starts by silencing the mind--for many, this is not easy, but when the mind has become silent and still, it is then possible for the Divine Force to descend and enter into the receptive individual. First it trickles in, and later, it comes in waves. It is both transforming and cleansing; and it is through this force that divine transformation will be achieved.” (from Holistic Health magazine, Winter 1986)
“Nowhere in scripture,” says Paul Proctor, “are we encouraged to recite mind-emptying mantras but are in fact, specifically commanded NOT to engage in them. Jesus considered such things to be a "heathen" practice. Nevertheless, today's Emergent enthusiasts fondly refer to it as "Contemplative Prayer" or "Centering Prayer." Some even use biblical words and phrases as their mantra, known to many as "lectio divina," which essentially turns the Word of God into a meaningless mechanism of magical mush. Still others choose to focus on their repetitious breathing to achieve "the silence," calling it "breath prayer."
Contemplative prayer is clearly unbiblical. When the apostles asked Jesus how to pray, He never mentioned going into an altered state of consciousness.
FEMINIZING THE CHURCH
Stacy Boorn, pastor of Ebenezer Lutheran Church, offers a “new form of church” where you’re invited to “Let your relationship with the Divine be opened and expanded.” Pastor Boorn’s church is a “diverse community, standing firmly within the Christian tradition in order to re-image the divine by claiming her feminine ... all persona in theology, liturgy, church structure, art, language, practices, leadership, and acts of justice. Challenging the church's restricted language of the past, we pay special attention to images and metaphors that attempt to embrace divine fullness and that offer a witness of holy nurture and inclusive justice, both to the church and to the world.” Not surprisingly this church is in San Francisco, CA. Pastor Boorn’s liturgy “features images and metaphors that will enlarge understanding of and connection with the sacred. Music and readings further reflect this commitment to reclaiming the feminine persona of the divine.” During worship, “Christian/Lutheran feminist prayers and liturgy reach back into the storehouse of tradition to bring forth names as Mother, Shaddai, Sophia, Womb, Midwife, Shekinah, She Who Is.”
They say they receive renewed insights into the nature of the Gospel.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is an order of ‘gay’ nuns (talk about an oxymoron) that “promotes gay liberation, freedom from guilt over the gay lifestyle, and safe sex. The members hold a variety of religious faiths and ideological positions.” Homosexuals will go to any extreme to mock the Catholic Church. For them, nothing is sacred, everything, including Christ, is fair game.
What I’ve described in this two part series is just the tip of the iceberg. False teachers and progressives have twisted sacred Scripture into a theological pretzel. Douglas Groothuis, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, entreats,
“I believe that, more than anything else, the church is imperiled by its own failure to teach, to believe, and to live out the great truths of the Christian faith in a way that pleases God. This is true not only of theologically liberal congregations--which essentially abandoned the Bible long ago--but also of too many evangelical churches and institutions. When "truth stumbles in the public square" (Isaiah 59:14, NSRV), when the church succumbs to the larger culture’s trivializing of life’s greatest questions, then the gospel and all the truths of the Bible go unheeded. People lose their way and call good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20). As Jeremiah lamented, "Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips" (Jeremiah 7:28).”
In John 8:31 Jesus said, " If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Clearly, Jesus expects His followers to hold to His teaching. To know the truth. And there’s only one truth. God’s truth. Play it safe. Remain within the pale of orthodoxy. For part one click below.
Click here for part -----> 1,
History of the Charismatic Movement By Gary E. Gilley
© 2006 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved
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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.
is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On
Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's
books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.