Archive for the ‘Assemblies of God’ Category
Letter to the Editor: Mixed Bag of Speakers at Assemblies of God General Conference to Include Rick Warren, Priscilla Shirer, Circle-Making Mark Batterson
Dear LHT editors:
My parents attend an Assemblies of God church, and I try to keep up to date on what is going on. I left the denomination years ago, but they are struggling to stay. I just looked up the events for 2017 and wasn’t too shocked to find good old Rick Warren as a speaker as well as Mark Batterson (The Circle Maker) and others who I am not familiar with, but who seem to be part of the large megachurch mindset. Here is the link: General Council 2017 | Anaheim, CA
Also if possible if you could add Joanna Weaver to your list of books to stay away from. I am so grieved that churches just don’t want to listen. They refuse to expose error and embrace false teachers through books. They pick out the nuggets. It doesn’t matter if the author got her info from mystics, contemplatives, and flat out heretics from the NAR movement. :(
God bless you all and we will be praying for your ministry.
LTRP Comments: Dr. George Wood, who is the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God church, is one of the leaders Lighthouse Trails is sending booklets to a few times a year.1 Thus far, he has received 5 booklets from LT: 10 Scriptural Reasons Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book, 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome, Setting Aside the Power of the Gospel for a Powerless Substitute, and Is Your Church Doing Spiritual Formation (And Important Reasons Why it Shouldn’t). On December 22, 2016, Lighthouse Trails editors received a short letter from Dr. Wood acknowledging receipt of the last two. It is our hope he will read the booklets and consider the information provided in them. As with many other denominations today, the Assemblies of God is heavily promoting contemplative spirituality.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Many years ago when I was teaching an adult Sunday School class, I was so impressed with the importance of a certain book, I had the whole class order that book by Ray Yungen. It was called A Time of Departing.
It was all about how a new movement was entering the church. It went by a variety of names: spiritual formation, contemplative prayer, contemplative spirituality. It included topics like centering prayer, meditation, lectio divina, and visualization. It is a linking of Catholic and Eastern religions and has nothing biblical in it. Both my adult children and their spouses were in the Sunday School class.
Five years passed, and we got a new pastor who began to talk of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila among others (they are Catholic saints, and the Catholic link to all this is immense). Because we had read Ray Yungen’s book five years earlier, we were aware of the error that was being preached. All of our family were very active in the church – some had been there for over 20 years and held positions of authority – but we had been warned so we took our families, after having warned many others, and left.
Because of housing, our families went to two different Assembly of God churches. One day I saw sign-up sheets on tables in the foyer of one of the churches. One was for Spiritual Formation classes. I hoped it wasn’t what I feared it was. Things had seemed calm for approximately five years.
On Sunday Oct. 9 of this year (2016), the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave a sermon and told of his visits to Catholic monasteries. He then asked everyone to close their eyes, take deep breaths, picture Jesus, look at His face (during this time gentle music began to play), think of a time during the week that made you sad and invite Jesus into your thoughts. This is visualization. It is called an Ignatian exercise after Catholic founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius Loyola. It is everything that Ray Yungen described in his book, and the pastor stood there and led all those thousands of people in an exercise totally unbiblical. He then suggested they do this 2-3 times a day whenever they encounter difficult or sad situations.He says he does this every day himself. My granddaughter – who was 13 at the time we left the former church and is 20 now – knew what she was listening to. She had heard us speak of Ray’s book often. She had been educated just as the Lord would have her to be.
How strange that this book has followed us. Yesterday, I was preparing for my Thursday night meeting with the woman I’m discipling. We are studying the 23rd Psalm. The author of the book suggested we read Gal 5. What I found there made me think of what happened at these two churches: Gal 5:9: “A little leaven [or a few false teachers] leavens the whole lump [or misleads the whole church].”
On Sunday Oct. 16, a week after the Spiritual Formation Pastor gave his sermon – the author of the book that tried to warn everyone about this danger, Ray Yungen, died of a complication of a leukemia treatment at the age of 64. There are many of us who mourn his passing and highly respect his life. He has helped keep us from darkness and walking in the light. May God be pleased and say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
His concern at the end of his life was not only for his generation and the darkness that had infected us but ensuring that it not touch the next. That was the kind of man Ray was—always longing to expose the darkness. My granddaughter shows that his legacy continues.
Editor’s Introduction Note: It is very fitting that our 100th Booklet is about emerging-church leader Leonard Sweet. Many of you may not know who he is or know very little about him, but his influence in the church has been significant. He is a prolific author who has been writing popular books since the 1990s, has worked closely with many Christian leaders such as Rick Warren, and has been very involved in teaching college-age evangelical students.
Sweet is currently organizing and co-hosting an event in Germany taking place in October called Luther 2017. Sweet has brought on board with him at the event Christian figures including Dr. George Wood, head of the Assemblies of God denomination, Dr. Gustavo Crocker, one of the General Superintendents of the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Jo Anne Lyons, head of the Wesleyan denomination, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and several other major Christian leaders from around the world.
Important to note is Sweet’s newest book, Jesus Speaks, published by the same publisher (Thomas Nelson) as Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling and released this past summer. Jesus Speaks is touted by Sweet and co-author Frank Viola as “the practical sequel” to Jesus Calling that “gives you the practical steps to have your own ‘Jesus Calling’ experience.” As Warren B. Smith has documented in his book “Another Jesus” Calling, the Jesus in Jesus Calling is a false Christ.
And so the great deception happening in the church today continues. Popular proclaiming Christians introducing believers and unbelievers alike to false Christs and a “more magnificent way of seeing Christ” but, sadly, a way that does not point people to the true Jesus Christ at all. Once you read this booklet below, you will understand the direction Leonard Sweet is taking the church and why this cannot be ignored.
NEW BOOKLET: Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ? by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here.
Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?
To survive in postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth.1
Who is Leonard Sweet?
Leonard Sweet is an ordained Methodist minister who is presently the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is also a visiting distinguished professor at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. On his various websites, he is described as a “scholar of American culture” who has authored over 60 books and 200 articles and has published over 1500 sermons. A “Phi Beta Kappa graduate,” he is a “frequent speaker at national and international conferences, state conventions, pastor’s schools, retreats” and “serves as a consultant to many of America’s denominational leaders and agencies.” Descriptive terms such as “distinguished,” “most influential,” “widely quoted,” “highly sought after,” and “the Picasso of Preaching” give visitors to his website the distinct impression that this is a man they should definitely pay attention to. And many people are doing just that.
Day-to-day believers may or may not be familiar with Leonard Sweet, but many in Christian leadership are very familiar with this self-described “semiotician.” According to his website, a semiotician is someone who “sees things the rest of us do not see and dreams possibilities that are beyond most of our imagining.” And as a “cultural futurist” and “Christ follower,” he seems to be very comfortable assuming the role of a postmodern prophet who provides hip observations of what is and what will be. His mission is to help the church become more culturally relevant in the 21st century. However, as he attempts to walk the narrow line between the Gospel and the world, he frequently walks over that line into the false teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality. When he does, legitimate questions need to be raised about what he is doing.
In June 2010, Sweet became the object of a swirling controversy, and his name suddenly disappeared from the list of scheduled speakers at a National Worship Conference taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The controversy centered around the New Age implications of many of the quotes and teachings found in his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality: A Post Modern Apologetic. Prior to the conference, a number of people were starting to ask pertinent questions about Sweet and what he was teaching. In my 2009 book A “Wonderful” Deception, I wrote three chapters on Leonard Sweet and the obvious New Age implications of what he was teaching. In the first chapter on Sweet, I described some of my initial impressions regarding this man, and in particular, his book Quantum Spirituality:
Highly intellectual and well-read, Leonard Sweet almost dares you to keep up with him as he charges through the spiritual marketplace. Operating at lightning speed and quoting from countless books and articles, he will impress many readers with his quick wit and spiritual insights. However, as he treacherously dives into New Age waters and challenges his readers to go there with him, serious problems arise within his “postmodern apologetic.”
In reading Quantum Spirituality, I recalled the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus warned that you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Leonard Sweet may be a professing evangelical Christian, but he also simultaneously praises New Age authors and their teachings.2
Sweet’s “Response” to Critics
Keenly aware of the controversy he has created, Sweet has a statement prominently posted on his present home website titled—“A Response to Recent Misunderstandings.” While his attempt to explain himself might satisfy the uninformed reader, his “Response” does not address the specifics of what he has written and is actually teaching. His simplistic denunciation of the New Age is unconvincing. His statement that the “New Age rhymes with sewage” and his encouraging the use of a “daily ritual of starting the day by standing in front of a mirror and saying: “God is God and I am not” do not speak to the fact that he has never even addressed, much less renounced, the specific New Age teachings that he was otherwise appearing to deny and disparage. And his stating “back when the New Age was a movement” completely misses the fact that the New Age movement never went away. Those of us who came out of New Age teachings and have been observing the New Age over the past several decades know that contrary to Sweet’s claims, the New Age movement has actually grown exponentially and is now mainstream and an inherent part of our culture. Due to its continued wide-spread growth and influence, the New Age threat to the church (and the world) is larger than ever before. But now it is just hiding in plain sight behind the facade of other names like “New Spirituality,” “New Worldview,” or in Sweet’s case—the “New Light” teachings of a “Quantum Spirituality.” But by any other name a rose is still a rose and the New Age is still the New Age.
Because Sweet’s “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings” left so many unanswered questions and because of his continued influence in the church, it seems imperative that thoughtful Christians take a deeper look at what Leonard Sweet is really teaching. For starters, here are five immediate concerns to consider.
FIVE IMMEDIATE CONCERNS
1) Leonard Sweet teaches the New Age doctrine of “Immanence” that would have the church believe God is “in” everyone and everything
In her 1948 book The Reappearance of the Christ, New Age matriarch Alice Bailey and her spirit guide Djwhal Khul describe how the path to their New Age God will be based on an “immanent” God that is “within every form of life”:
. . . a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life. These are the foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.3 (emphasis added)
Likewise, in his 1980 book, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, New Age channeler Benjamin Creme, states that the New World Religion will be based on the proposition that “Christ” is “immanent”—“in man and all creation”:
But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.4 (emphasis added)
In Leonard Sweet’s 1999 book SoulTsunami—with its front cover endorsement by Rick Warren—Sweet introduces this same New Age idea of God not only being transcendent but also immanent. He writes:
To survive in postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth. It should not be hard, since Christianity has always insisted on having things both ways. Isn’t it based on the impossible possibility of Jesus being “beyond us, yet ourselves” (poet Wallace Stevens)? Biblical theological is not circular with a fixed center, but elliptical, revolving around the double foci of God’s immanence and God’s transcendence.5 (emphasis added)
Sweet clearly spells out what he means by “immanence” in his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic. As a self-described “radical,” he presents his “radical doctrine” that God is immanently embodied “in” His creation. He writes:
Quantum spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. . . . This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation. . . . But a spirituality that is not in some way entheistic (whether pan- or trans-), that does not extend to the spirit-matter of the cosmos, is not Christian.6 (emphasis added)
But Sweet’s “radical” panentheistic doctrine is a key New Age teaching—as is so much of what he wrote in Quantum Spirituality. In his “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings,” Sweet tries to dispel questions about Quantum Spirituality by saying, “Would I write the same book today? No. Would I say the same things differently? Yes. I started working on the book in my late 20s. I hope I’m older and wiser now.” But when it comes to the New Age implications of what he is teaching, he is not any wiser in regard to his previously stated New Age doctrine. In several subsequent books, Sweet reintroduces his New Age doctrine of immanence—that God is immanently embodied “in” His creation. For example, in his 1999 book Soul Tsunami, Sweet writes:
Postmodern evangelism is first of all telling people how special they are, how much God loves them, how unique each and every one of them is. The fourth-century theologian Athanasius said in one of his letters that God became one of us “that he might deify us in Himself.” Similarly, elsewhere he wrote that Christ “was made man that we might be made God.”7
In Sweet’s 2010 book Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There, he expresses in different words what he wrote in Quantum Spirituality about the “embodiment of God in the very substance of creation”:
An incarnational God means that God-stuff is found in the matter of the universe.8
In this same book he also wrote, “Nudgers help people discover their inner Jesus.”9 But God is not “in” everyone and everything. Jesus is not “in” everyone and everything. Sweet may seem to denounce the New Age, but what he is teaching is New Age. This is dangerous and unbiblical leaven. The apostle Paul lamented that it only took “a little leaven” to lure the Galatians away from the Gospel they once knew so well.
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)
God states in the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The New Age “God” who is “in” everyone and everything is another “God” and therefore a false God. Contrary to Leonard Sweet’s teaching in Quantum Spirituality, God is not embodied in His creation. Contrary to his teaching in Nudge, “God-stuff” is not found in the matter of the universe, and everyone does not have an “inner Jesus.” Scripture is very clear. Man is not God because God is not “in” everyone and everything. In Jeremiah 16:20, God warned: “Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods?” In Matthew 23:12, Jesus warned, “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” For further scriptural references on why God is not “in” everyone and everything and how this false teaching has entered both the world and the church, see my booklet Be Still and Know that You Are Not God.
2) Leonard Sweet describes the “Father” of the New Age Movement” as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice”
Sweet describes heretical Jesuit Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—the “Father of the New Age Movement—as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”10 In her best-selling New Age classic, The Aquarian Conspiracy, author Marilyn Ferguson describes Teilhard de Chardin as “the individual most often named as a profound influence by the Aquarian Conspirators who responded to a survey.”11 He is also the most frequently referenced New Age leader in her book. The Teilhard quote “This soul can only be a conspiracy of individuals” is found on the very first page of her book and inspired her to title her book The Aquarian Conspiracy. Ferguson wrote that “Teilhard prophesied the phenomenon central to this book: a conspiracy of men and women whose new perspective would trigger a critical contagion of change.”12
Evident in his posted “Response,” Sweet appears to be baffled by everyone’s concern about some of the things he is writing. He seems to take any criticism as a personal attack. But this criticism, if you will, is not about him personally, it is about what he is teaching. Jesus didn’t say “Get behind me Satan” to Peter because he thought Peter was Satan. He said “Get behind me Satan” because of what Peter was saying. And because Sweet describes the “Father of the New Age movement” as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice,” I believe the Lord would tell Leonard Sweet the same thing today. This should become especially evident when you read the following unbiblical statements made by Teilhard de Chardin in his book Christianity and Evolution:
What I am proposing to do is to narrow that gap between pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheistic aspect of Christianity.13 (emphasis added)
The cross still stands . . . But this is on one condition, and one only, that it expand itself to the dimensions of a New Age, and cease to present itself to us as primarily (or even exclusively) the sign of a victory over sin.14
I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe.15
I believe that the Messiah whom we await, whom we all without any doubt await, is the universal Christ; that is to say, the Christ of evolution.16
[I]f a Christ is to be completely acceptable as an object of worship, he must be presented as the saviour of the idea and reality of evolution.17
A general convergence of religions upon a universal Christ who fundamentally satisfies them all: that seems to me the only possible conversion of the world, and the only form in which a religion of the future can be conceived.18
Sweet’s affection for Teilhard de Chardin surfaced again in his 1999 book Aqua Church. After quoting a strong Bible-based stanza from the hymn “Jesus Savior Pilot Me,” Sweet follows it with a very revealing quote from Teilhard de Chardin. Teilhard stated that those who “see” Christ as he does understand Christ in “a much more magnificent way” than all those who went before him:
Christ is in the Church in the same way as the sun is before our eyes. We see the same sun as our fathers saw, and yet we understand it in a much more magnificent way.19
Really? Teilhard and his followers understand Christ in a much more magnificent way than their “fathers”? More than all the martyrs? More than the original disciples? This seems to indicate that Teilhard and Sweet and their “semiotic” emergent postmodern “Christ followers” are “seeing” something about Christ that the rest of the church does not see. Would Sweet have the church believe that Chardin’s seemingly updated New Age “Christ” is the real Christ? Is the “semiotic” Sweet trying to show us that if we adopt the New Age teachings of Teilhard, we, too, will “see” Christ in a “much more magnificent way” than the Christians who came before us? Sadly, it would seem that this is so.
Sweet seems to believe that with new understandings from quantum physics, a New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality/Quantum Spirituality would enable Christians to see Christ in a much deeper and “more magnificent way.” The church would finally understand that the science of quantum physics proves that God is an energy force that interpenetrates and embodies His creation. Therefore, we are all “connected” because we are all “God” because God is “in” everyone and everything. Sweet argues that Christians of the past weren’t ready to deal with things like quantum physics, quantum wavelengths, and the New Age implications of a Quantum Spirituality that would totally transform their faith and challenge everything they thought they knew about being a Christian. In his 2016 book Jesus Speaks, Leonard Sweet writes:
The Holy Spirit brings Jesus’ voice to life through history, theology, science, and social experience. Jesus told the disciples, “I have much more to say to you” (John 16:12). In other words, Jesus was saying, “You can’t handle everything I have to say to you right now. Some of my truth has a wavelength, and it needs time, maybe even centuries, to play itself out.20
But this implies that God’s Word is incomplete and insufficient and therefore in need of new revelation. This is simply not true. Besides, when Jesus said “I have much more to say to you, He was talking to His disciples—not to the church today. It is also important to notice how Sweet conveniently squeezed “wavelength” into his interpretation of Jesus’ words to set up his Quantum Spirituality. But Jesus wasn’t withholding spiritual insights that would have to be delivered to His people two thousand years later. This kind of false teaching is an inherent part of the New Age deception. The fact is Jesus has already given us everything we need to know in His Holy Bible.
Jesus warned of false prophets who would come in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15). And there would be those who honor Him with their lips, but their hearts would be far from Him (Matthew 15:8). He also warned of those who serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Psalm 144:11 warns of vain men who deceive with the “right hand of falsehood.” In Psalm 12:2, David warned of those who speak with a “double heart.” In James 1:8, James taught that “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways. In 1 Timothy 3:8, Paul referred to these same men as “double-tongued.” For Leonard Sweet to exalt the “Father of the New age movement”—Teilhard de Chardin—and suggest that Teilhard’s way of seeing Christ is a “much more magnificent way” than our forefathers is to fall prey to our Adversary’s deceptive devices. One thing is for sure: The New Age movement hasn’t gone away—it has entered the church through men like Teilhard de Chardin and those like Sweet who exalt him as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”
(3) Leonard Sweet Praises New Age leaders as his “Heroes” and “Role Models”
While some Leonard Sweet defenders argue that his postmodern “New Light” apologetic flies right over the heads of “Old Light” “fundamentalist” types, the facts tell a different story. But what one learns in reading Quantum Spirituality is that Sweet wants to transform biblical Christianity into a Quantum Spirituality that is, in reality, a New Age/New Spirituality. Without any apology, Sweet writes that he is part of a “New Light” movement, and he describes those he especially admires as “New Light leaders.” But many of Sweet’s “New Light leaders” are New Age leaders who are in the process of overturning biblical Christianity through obliging New Age sympathizers like Leonard Sweet.
Sweet’s New Age “role models and heroes”
In the acknowledgments section of Quantum Spirituality, Leonard Sweet expresses his deep gratitude and admiration to various “New Light leaders” whom he openly praises as “the most creative religious leaders in America today.” But many of these “New Light leaders” are New Age leaders. Included in this group are a number of men I was very familiar with from my years in the New Age—among them are Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck. Sweet describes these three men—along with numerous other New Age figures cited—as “extraordinary” and “great” New Light leaders. He goes so far as to say that they are his “personal role models” and “heroes” of “the true nature of the postmodern apologetic.” Sweet writes:
They are my personal role models (in an earlier day one could get away with “heroes”) of the true nature of the postmodern apologetic. More than anyone else, they have been my teachers on how to translate, without compromising content, the gospel into the indigenous context of the postmodern vernacular.21
But many of the men and women Leonard Sweet cited have compromised the “content” of the Gospel by translating it into the “postmodern vernacular” of a New Age/New Spirituality. For example, Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, and M. Scott Peck have all played leading roles in the initial establishment and popularization of today’s New Age/New Spirituality movement. But rather than commending these New Age/New Light leaders, a self-professing Christian leader like Sweet should be warning the church about them. A brief look at these three “New Light” leaders and their teachings will make this very clear.
Willis Harman (1918-1997)
Willis Harman is listed as one of the most influential Aquarian/New Age conspirators in Marilyn Ferguson’s The Aquarian Conspiracy. Harman was a social scientist/futurist with the Stanford Research Institute and one of the chief architects of New Age thinking. He wrote the book Global Mind Change:The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think. A review by The San Francisco Chronicle on the front cover of the book reads: “There never has been a more lucid interpretation of New Age consciousness and what it promises for the future than the works of Willis Harman.”22
Matthew Fox (1940- )
Another one of Sweet’s self-described “role models” and “heroes” is Matthew Fox, a former Catholic priest who was dismissed from the Catholic church for openly professing heretical New Age teachings—teachings that include those of his revered mentor, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Fox, like Teilhard, teaches that all of creation is the “Cosmic Christ”—therefore the Cosmic Christ is “in” everyone and everything. In his book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Fox writes: “Divinity is found in all creatures.”23 and “We are all royal persons, creative, godly, divine, persons of beauty and of grace. We are all Cosmic Christs, ‘other Christs.’ But what good is this if we don’t know it.”24 Leonard Sweet actually credits Fox in a footnote in Quantum Spirituality for inspiring Sweet’s own description of the “cosmic body of Christ” and actually refers readers of Quantum Spirituality to Fox’s New Age book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ.25
M. Scott Peck (1936-2005)
M. Scott Peck, the late psychiatrist and best-selling author of The Road Less Traveled, is another one of the “role models” and “heroes” that Leonard Sweet cites in his book Quantum Spirituality. The Road Less Traveled was on the New York Times best-seller list for over ten years. In a subsection of his book titled “The Evolution of Consciousness,” Peck describes God as being “intimately associated with us—so intimately that He is part of us.”26 He also writes:
If you want to know the closest place to look for grace, it is within yourself. If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside you . . . .To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time.27
When Matthew Fox’s The Coming of the Cosmic Christ was published in 1988, the lead endorsement on the back of Fox’s book was written by M. Scott Peck. Peck and Fox were obviously in New Age agreement. Peck, like Fox and Sweet, describes Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in glowing terms. He describes Teilhard as “[p]erhaps the greatest prophet” of the “mystical,” evolutionary leap that will take mankind toward “global consciousness” and “world community.”28 And it is this mystical New Age Christ of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Willis Harman, Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, and Leonard Sweet that challenges biblical Christianity today.
4) Leonard Sweet thanks New Age Leader David Spangler for helping him develop his Quantum Spirituality’s “new cell understanding of new light leadership”
If we want to possess a magic crystal for our New Age work, we need look no further than our own bodies and the cells that make them up.29—David Spangler, 1991
I am grateful to David Spangler for his help in formulating this “new cell” understanding of New Light leadership.30—Leonard Sweet, 1991
In his “A Response to Recent Misunderstandings,” Leonard Sweet states: “Because I quote someone does not mean I agree with everything that person ever wrote.” He goes on to say that “Some of the quotes I chose were meant to provide contrasting positions to my argument, some to buttress my argument, some even to mock my argument. The key consideration to whether I quoted someone was not ‘Do I agree with them?’ but ‘Does this quote energize the conversation?’ ‘Guilt by association’ is intellectually disreputable and injurious to the whole body of Christ.” But there is a big difference between “guilt by association” and “guilt by promotion.” Leonard Sweet is praising, thanking, and glorifying many of these New Age leaders—hardly guilt by association, especially when Sweet writes:
I believe these are among the most creative religious leaders in America today. These are the ones carving out new channels for new ideas to flow. In a way this book was written to guide myself through their channels and chart their progress. The book’s best ideas come from them.31
Ironically, one of the “channels” guiding him was an actual New Age channeler—David Spangler. A pioneering spokesperson for the New Age, Spangler has written numerous books over the years. His book The Revelation: The Birth of the New Age is a compilation of channeled transmissions that he received from his disembodied spirit-guide “John.” At one point in the book, Spangler documents what “John” prophesied about “the energies of the cosmic Christ” and “Oneness”:
As the energies of the Cosmic Christ become increasingly manifest within the etheric life of Earth, many individuals will begin to respond with the realization that the Christ dwells within them. They will feel his presence moving within and through them and will begin to awaken to their heritage of Christhood and Oneness with God, the Beloved.32
In a postmodern-day consultation that bears more than a casual resemblance to King Saul’s consult with the witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28), Leonard Sweet acknowledges in Quantum Spirituality that he was privately corresponding with New Age channeler David Spangler. Sweet even thanks Spangler for assisting him in forming his “new cell understanding” of “New Light leadership.”33 But as believers we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Rather than thanking them, we are to reprove and expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
(5) Misapplication of Quantum Physics: Trying to Draw Spiritual Truth From Physical Theory
Leonard Sweet—just like New Age leaders—tries to use Quantum Physics to prove that God indwells his creation.
The coming together of the new biology and the new physics is providing the basic metaphors for this new global civilization that esteems and encourages whole-brain experiences, full-life expectations, personalized expressions, and a globalized consciousness.34—Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami
When we experience such a quantum of transformation, we may simultaneously feel that the whole of the New Age is happening right now, that we are on the verge of overnight transformation—the fabled quantum leap into a new state of being.35—David Spangler, Reimagination of the World
We have the epitome of a great science . . . quantum physics . . . Everyone is God.36—New Age Channeler J.Z. Knight, What the Bleep Do We Know
In his book The Tao of Physics: An Explanation of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism, New Age physicist Fritjof Capra describes the union of mysticism and the new physics. He wrote “this kind of new spirituality is now being developed by many groups and movements, both within and outside the churches.”37 As an example of how this “new spirituality” is moving into the church, he actually cites one of Leonard Sweet’s “role models” and “heroes”—Matthew Fox.38
When Sweet refers to the new biology and the new physics as metaphors, he stretches these “metaphors” to the position of being actual fact. From his understanding of quantum physics, he asserts that all things are composed of energy and that this quantum energy must be God, hence God is embodied in all things. Yet, this metaphor falls on its face when we learn from Paul’s writings that God and creation are two separate things as is illustrated in chapter one of Romans: “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25). Paul further exposes the error of spiritualizing physical creation showing that all things are not God, nor are they even spiritual. As he points out, the “earthy” is only temporary and will be done away with:
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption . . . There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. . . . As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. . . . Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:42, 44, 48, 50)
Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren’s “New Spirituality”
In their 1995 joint presentation The Tides of Change, Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren had a quantum conversation as they discussed “waves,” “quantum metaphors,” “revival,” and what they were calling—even back then—a “New Spirituality.” Sweet told Warren:
Yeah, this is a wave period. I really love that metaphor of the wave and the wavelength. First of all, it is a quantum metaphor. It brings us out of the Newtonian world into this new science.39
Quantum waves, quantum wavelengths, quantum metaphors—all leading to a universal Quantum “God” and the Quantum New Age “Christ” of a New Spirituality, a New Worldview, and ultimately a New World Religion—a New World Religion that will be based on New Age teachings that have been labeled scientific but are, in reality, “science falsely so called”:
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:19-21)
Teilhard de Chardin, Leonard Sweet, and an ever-growing band of New Age sympathizers would have us believe that all those who preceded us in the faith were unable to “see” the big picture, because, after all, they didn’t have access to all the new scientific discoveries that we have today—scientific information that would have helped them gain the new spiritual understandings that Leonard Sweet claims to have acquired.
In that vein, Leonard Sweet, Rick Warren, and other Christian leaders are now teaching that God is in the process of bringing a new “Reformation”40 and a “great spiritual awakening” to the church. Sweet writes: “God is birthing the greatest spiritual awakening in the history of the church.”41 Yet this new reformation and great awakening Sweet heralds, is falsely founded on his hybridized New Age Christianity with its “radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation.”42 Ironically, while Sweet—as previously mentioned—encourages “a daily ritual” of standing in front of a mirror affirming “God is God and I am not,” he at the same time tells people that, as a part of creation, God is embodied in them. He also encourages people to be “nudgers.” He says “nudgers are not smudgers of the divine in people.”43 “Nudgers help people discover their “inner Jesus.”44
When the true Christ was asked what will be the sign of his coming and the end of the world, He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”(Matthew 24:4)—that many false prophets would arise and deceive many (Matthew 24:11). He specifically warned us to beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing. He said we would know them by their fruits.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matthew 7:15-16)
We must exhort one another daily. We must continue to preach the Word and not fall prey to those who would diminish the Word with their worldly wisdom, clever stories, metaphors, and false teachings. The Bible and our Lord Jesus Christ always have been and always will be sufficient for all our needs.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 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 4:2-4)
Regarding Leonard Sweet’s “radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation,” Jesus warns:
Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.45 (Matthew 15: 7-9)
To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here.
1. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), p. 28.
2. Warren B. Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception: The Further New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose Driven Movement (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2009), p. 106.
3. Alice A, Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing Company, Lucis Press, Ltd., 1948), 1996, p. 150.
4. Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England; The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88.
5. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 28.
6. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints for SpiritVenture Ministries, Inc., 1991, 1994), p. 125.
7. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 304.
8. Leonard Sweet, Nudge:Awakening Each Other to the God Who Is Already There (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010), p. 157.
9. Ibid., p. 40.
10. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 106.
11. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980s (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1980), p. 50.
12. Ibid., p. 25.
13. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanivich, Inc., 1971), p. 56.
14. Ibid,. pp. 219-220.
15. Ibid,. p. 128.
16. Ibid,. p. 95.
17. Ibid,. p. 78.
18. Ibid,. p. 130.
19. Leonard Sweet, Aqua Church: Essential Leadership Arts for Piloting Your Church in Today’s Fluid Culture (Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, Inc., 1999), p. 39.
20. Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, Jesus Speaks: Learning to Recognize & Respond to the Lord’s Voice (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2016), p. 85.
21. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. viii.
22. Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think (New York, NY: Warner Books, 1988), front cover.
23. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988), p. 154.
24. Ibid., p. 137.
25. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op cit., pp. 124, 324.
26. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1978), p. 281.
28. M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1988), pp. 205-206.
29. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 62.
30. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 312.
31. Ibid., p. ix.
32. David Spangler, The Revelation: Birth of A New Age (Elgin, IL: Lorian Press, 1976), p. 177.
33. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 312.
34. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 121.
35. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World, op. cit., p. 126.
36. What the Bleep Do We Know (DVD) (20th Century Fox, 2004, http://www.whatthebleep.com), transcribed by author.
37. Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics: An Explanation of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1999), p. 341.
39. The Tides of Change (A 1995 audio presentation with Leonard Sweet and Rick Warren that was part of an ongoing series called “Choice Voices for Christian Leadership,” distributed by Abington Press). On file with publisher.
40. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, op. cit., p. 17.
41. Ibid., p. 34.
42. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 125.
43. Leonard Sweet, Nudge, op. cit., p. 31.
44. Ibid., p. 40.
45. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p 125.
To order copies of Leonard Sweet—A More Magnificent Way of Seeing Christ?, click here.
NEW BOOKLET:Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson’s Unbiblical Teachings by Bill Randles is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson’s Unbiblical Teachings, click here.
Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson’s Unbiblical Teachings
By Bill Randles
What would you think of a Bible school that sends young people out to literally prostrate themselves on the graves of deceased preachers so that the students can absorb “the anointing” that lingers on the graves? What about a church in which a mist containing feathers, gold, and jewel dust descends on the worshippers in the sanctuary? How about a church conference which features prophetic “tattoo readings” as one of the workshops?
What would you expect of a church which is a combination of the Word of Faith error and the prosperity gospel of Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, the signs and wonders of Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn, the false assumptions of the “spiritual warfare” and hyper-deliverance movement, the “prophetic movement,” and the gnostic mysticism of the Toronto Blessing?
You don’t have to wonder any longer, for there is such a “ministry” which is currently the most recognizable and influential face of the prophetic movement. I refer to Bill and Beni Johnson who co-pastor Bethel Church in Redding, California and its related ministries including “Jesus Culture” youth band and Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry.
Bill Johnson, a noted conference speaker and leader, is the author of several best-selling books and considered to be an apostle and leader within the Apostles and Prophets movement. Hundreds of thousands have been affected by his ministry and have attended retreats and conferences where they have been “imparted” with “the anointing.”
In order to fully understand this prophetic movement in its current state, we must examine the teachings and ministry of Bill Johnson in the light of the Word of God. Didn’t Jesus warn us not to be naïve but that “every tree is known by its fruits”?
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)
The primary “fruit” of any professed prophet would be the teaching. (The same would go for any pastor or apostle or anyone who stands in the name of God).
Let’s examine some of Bill Johnson’s teachings which go errant on so many levels that it is hard to decide where to begin. For the sake of brevity, I will address four areas of concern: a) The Word of Faith Movement; b) Johnson’s teachings on the Incarnation; c) the anointing (Holy Ghost); and d) his theology of experience. I urge you to be the judge according to the test in Deuteronomy 13.
I. The Word of Faith Movement
It doesn’t take long to see by reading his books that Johnson is a proponent of the Word of Faith teaching, popularized by Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Therefore, it is necessary to give a brief overview of WOF teaching to be able to see where Johnson is coming from.
In a nutshell, the WOF teaching is based on a gnostic interpretation of the Fall and of redemption. The following is my paraphrase of their explanation:
When God created Adam, He gave him all dominion over the earth, to rule and reign as God’s regent. However, when Adam fell, by obeying Satan, he handed that God-given dominion over to Satan, who became the “god of this world.” God, the Father, couldn’t just come in and take the dominion back—Adam had given it away.
God had to find a way for a man to come in, as a man, and undo the folly of Adam, gaining back the authority given to Satan by Adam. Jesus is that man. (The WOF teachers do acknowledge that Jesus is God but believe that He “laid aside His own Divinity” in the Incarnation).
As a man, Jesus came into the world, resisted all of the temptation that Adam and Eve and the human race succumbed to, and died on the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins.
But there is a twist, for the WOF teachers insist that salvation wasn’t secured for man in Jesus’ death on the Cross as a substitute for our sins. Rather, Jesus first had to descend into hell and suffer the torment of Satan and his minions until God was satisfied that it was enough and could legally raise Him from the dead.
Of course, the Word of God says that Jesus’ death on the Cross was sufficient, and that when He said, “Telestai!” (It is done), it really was done. But Copeland and Hagin teach that it wasn’t finished until Jesus had literally “become sin” and endured demonic torment in hell.
The Fall, according to WOF, was as much about the loss of power and authority as it was about sin and alienation from God. Therefore, salvation is about restoration of power and authority, as well as forgiveness of sins. We get the power back and can now exercise dominion over this life and take authority over evil.
Because of this skewed view, WOF is a power religion. This is why WOF Christians frequently speak in terms of authority; they “bind and/or loose” angels and demons; they decree, rebuke, and otherwise speak in terms of “releasing” peace, grace, or mercy into this situation or that.
The essence of this theology is the restoration and practical use of the “authority to the believer.”
The ideal in WOF circles is that of the born again man of power and authority, the miracle man who has come in to the “revelation knowledge” of “who he is in Christ,” and demonstrates the power of “the anointing” to a lost world. There have developed extensive mythologies around truly historical figures such as John Alexander Dowie, John G. Lake, and William Branham. These are the men who really “took authority,” they say, and showed us all what any believer could do if he had but the faith and “anointing” to do so!
The WOF is an offshoot of an earlier expression of these very ideals, the Manifested Sons of God (MSG), once repudiated by the Assemblies of God in the 1940s but now widely embraced in this new form. MSG is based upon an erroneous interpretation of Romans 8:19, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
Traditional Christianity has held that this verse refers to what happens at the bodily coming of the Lord. When Jesus returns, the curse on Creation will finally be removed, and the true children of God will be manifested.
But the MSG teach that this verse means that the Creation is waiting for the church to attain to the knowledge of the power and authority, in order to “manifest” our Sonship to the world, through signs and wonders. All of this must occur before Jesus can come back!
This is the context in which to understand where Bill Johnson, Jesus Culture, and the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry are coming from, as they seek to bring the church into the power and anointing of their “mystical revival.”
In his teaching on the Incarnation, Bill Johnson states, and rightly so, that Jesus Christ is God. But Johnson also emphasizes to an unbiblical extreme that Jesus completely laid aside His deity:
Jesus had no ability to heal the sick. He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead. He said of Himself in John 5:19, “the Son can do nothing of Himself.” He had set aside His divinity. He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us, something for us to follow. If He did miracles as God, we would all be extremely impressed, but we would have no compulsion to emulate Him. But when we see that God has commissioned us to do what Jesus did—and more—then we realize that He put self-imposed restrictions on Himself to show us that we could do it, too. Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father—without the Father’s help.1
There are several problems with this teaching of Johnson’s. For example, it is theologically inaccurate to say that “Jesus had no ability . . .” and that Jesus “set aside His Divinity.” It is dangerously close to being a denial of the deity of Christ, for divinity by definition cannot be “set aside” nor could God ever be said to lack ability in any sense.
In the Incarnation, the eternal God became a man, though He never ceased being God. He always had all power, but restrained Himself, declining the prerogatives of power and majesty, which are inherent to Him, that He might live and die for us as true man.
Another problem with this is that Johnson asserts that Jesus performed miracles to “set forth a model for us . . . to show us that we could do it (the miracles) too . . .”
This is at the very heart of the Word of Faith teaching from which Johnson has emerged. Supposedly, we as individual believers can and should be doing all of the miracles of Jesus, in the power of the Spirit. To Johnson, Jesus came in the flesh, partly to show us that we too could do what He did!
This quest for miracle power is misguided and has led many into deception. Jesus didn’t do His miracles to “show us that we can do it.” The miracles of Jesus are manifestations of the merciful God, whether they be the ones in the Gospels, or in the Book of Acts, or those done in His name throughout the world today. “These signs will follow those that believe.” We are not to seek them. It is only a “wicked and adulterous generation (which) seeks after signs.”
Johnson actually posits that any believer has the potential to experience most of what Jesus experienced in the Gospels, even the Transfiguration! He states:
Most all of the experiences of Jesus recorded in Scripture were prophetic examples of the realms in God that are made available to the believer. The Mount of Transfiguration raised the bar significantly on potential human experience . . . The overwhelming lesson in this story is that Jesus Christ, the Son of man, had the glory of God upon Him. Jesus’s face shone with God’s glory, similar to Moses’s after he came down from the mountain.2
Johnson seems to fail to appreciate that though Jesus became “as one of us” in the Incarnation, His uniqueness cannot be safely diminished. Imagine a spirituality spent seeking to attain a transfiguration! No wonder Johnson’s students go to such lengths seeking “glory” experiences.
III. The “Anointing”
The second aspect of Johnson’s teaching that is dangerous and has led to the reckless mysticism in which so many associated with Bethel are involved is what he teaches about the Holy Spirit, particularly “the anointing.” Johnson states:
Christ is not Jesus’ last name. The word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah . . . [Christ] is a title that points to an experience. It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title. He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.3
First of all, here is an example of a teacher setting forth an unbiblical separation between the person “Jesus” and the word “Christ.” This is a very dangerous thing to do; it is similar to what the New Age movement claims, and it is being done towards a similar end.
New Agers want to establish the (false) idea that Jesus was merely an enlightened person, one who was anointed (Christed) at thirty years old, very similar to other remarkable human beings such as Gandhi and Zoroaster. This “anointing” is a self-realizing experience.
Johnson seems to be trying to establish that just as the man Jesus had to be anointed with the Holy Ghost in order (as a man) to do the miracles He did, we too can have the same experience to do the same thing, for Jesus is our model.
The Bible doesn’t do this with the word “Christ.” The apostles never relegated Christ as being a title, nor as being an experience. Christ is a designation of Jesus’ deity. Scripture insists that Jesus is the Christ, and it refers to Jesus as Christ, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself . . .” Christ is an eternal person, the second person of the godhead, chosen of the Father, and thus anointed with the Holy Ghost.
When Jesus came into the world, He already was Christ; he never had to become Christ, nor can anyone become Christ unless he is a false Christ (i.e., antichrist).
On the same subject—the “anointing”—Johnson continues:
The word anointing means “to smear.” The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism. The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit.
The outpouring of the Spirit also needed to happen to Jesus for Him to be fully qualified. This was His quest. Receiving this anointing qualified Him to be called the Christ, which means “anointed one.” Without the experience [the anointing] there could be no title.4
Do you see the problems Johnson’s teachings on “the anointing” raise?
For example, did Jesus become the Christ at His baptism? If “Christ” is only valid upon an experience, what was Jesus before the Holy Ghost came upon Him in the Jordan? Was He merely an unqualified “man with a title” up until then?
Johnson’s view on the Christ is strikingly reminiscent of an error which emerged early in the history of the church and was repudiated as heresy. It is called adoptionism. It holds that Jesus was a devout man who did not become “Christed” until He was thirty years old when He was anointed of the Holy Ghost. It was by the Holy Ghost that He did His miracles, but the “anointing” left Him when He died on the Cross. If Jesus could do these things (through revelation knowledge and the anointing), so could any other believer.
There is a passage in 1 John 5 that refutes this very error about the Christ:
This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. (1 John 5:6)
The heretics were teaching that Jesus was not Christ until He was baptized in water and anointed with the Spirit. He remained Christ until He shed His blood. But the apostle insists that “He came by water and blood;” that is, He was already Christ when He was baptized and remained so on the Cross, and through His resurrection. The designation, “Christ,” was and is more than an experience; it is inherent to Jesus, the Divine God/man.
IV. The Emphasis on Experience, De-Emphasis on Doctrine
Finally, Bethel (and Bill Johnson) is actually dangerous in its approach to doctrine and experience and has exposed its followers to the following practices:
Grave soaking trips5
Visualization, contemplative prayer, and meditation practices
Chanting, soaking, and spiritual drunkenness
“Toking” the Holy Ghost to get “high on Jesus”
In addition to “normal” prophetic words, those who attended Bethel’s “Power and Love Conference” in February 2014 received readings based on their tattoos and piercings. Doug Addison can interpret the hidden messages on your body and even train you to do the same. You don’t even have to fly to where he is; for the reasonable fee of $150, he can tickle your ears over the phone for thirty minutes.6
Believe me when I say I have just scratched the surface of the irrational, unbiblical, and even anti-biblical practices of Bill Johnson’s influential ministry. How do confessing Christians become so undiscerning?
There is one aspect of Bethel that is perhaps the most dangerous. Johnson, like so many Pentecostals and evangelicals who have preceded him, has a strong anti-doctrinal emphasis. To the neo-mystics of the New Apostolic Reformation, doctrine has a deadening effect and is valid only to the extent that it induces experience. Doctrine is “the letter which kills” and leads to “head knowledge” as opposed to the personal experience of God, based upon individual revelation.
Those who insist on adherence to true doctrine are caricatured as Pharisees. There are familiar clichés in these circles such as “God is offending the mind to reach the heart,” and “a man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with a doctrine.” These kinds of preachers often delight in saying, “I am going to upend your theology now . . .” as they unveil the latest nugget of their own revelation. Bill Johnson, in illustrating this, stated:
Jesus made a frightening statement regarding those who hold to Bible study vs. experience, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). If our study of the Bible doesn’t lead us to a deeper relationship (an encounter) with God, then it is simply adding to our tendency towards spiritual pride. We increase our knowledge of the Bible to feel good about our standing with God and to better equip us to argue with those who disagree with us. Any group wanting to defend a doctrine is prone to this temptation without a God encounter . . . Jesus did not say “My sheep will know my Book;” it is His voice that we are to know.7
Johnson is deconstructing those who seek scriptural knowledge as being in danger of “spiritual pride,” increasing in knowledge in order to “feel good about their standing with God,” and to be better able to win arguments with those who disagree with them! What a pastor! It is almost as if he would discourage the desire to grow in scriptural knowledge!
But on the other hand, it is the ones seeking “deeper knowledge” (than that which Scripture reveals?) and a deeper “encounter” with God (experience) whom Johnson considers to be blessed. Imagine a young person sitting under a steady diet of this, and you will see why Bethel, Jesus Culture, and the School of Supernatural Ministry are given over to the most sensual mysticism!
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)
To order copies of Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson’s Unbiblical Teachings, click here.
(See related booklets.)
1. Bill Johnson, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, first edition, January 1, 2005), p. 50.
2. Bill Johnson, Face to Face with God (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2007), p. 200.
3. Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers, 2005), p. 87.
5. http://beyondgrace.blogspot.com/2011/07/bill-johnson-and-john-crowders-leaven.html; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrHPTs8cLls https://www.facebook.com/photo.
7. Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth, op. cit., p. 93.
To order copies of Beware of Bethel: A Brief Summary of Bill Johnson’s Unbiblical Teachings, click here.
DRESS REHEARSAL FOR A FALSE REVIVAL? – Evangelical, Charismatic, Emerging Leaders, & Pope Francis Unite for “Together 2016” in Washington, DC
According to a news release from PRWire titled “Pope Francis To Address Americans At National Mall Event ’Together 2016’ With Special Video Message,” Pope Francis will be joining (via video) evangelical leaders such as Ravi Zacharias, Luis Palau, Michael W. Smith, and Josh McDowell, emerging-church leaders such as Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen (IF), and Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and charismatic leaders such as Sammy Rodriguez and Hillsong for an event motivated by a goal to bring unity to all those who “love Jesus.” The event is called “Together 2016,” subtitled Fill the Mall.
Nick Hall, the organizer of the event who hopes to draw one million people to the National Mall on July 16th, stated: “Together 2016 is about laying aside what divides us to lift up Jesus who unites us.”1 Hall told one news source, “We are coming together in historic unity to pray for a reset for our nation.”2
It’s been over fifteen years since contemplative pioneer Richard Foster shared his vision of Catholics and evangelicals coming together3 and over two decades since Chuck Colson helped author a document titled “Evangelicals/Catholics Together.”4 It’s been over a decade since Rick Warren announced his hopes to bring about a second reformation that would include people of different religions.5 In more recent days, evangelical leaders such as Beth Moore,6 Franklin Graham,7 and Kenneth Copeland8 have played their parts in helping to remove the barriers between the evangelical/Protestant church and the Roman Catholic Church (something the Catholic Church calls the New Evangelization program9).
According to the Bible, we know a time is coming when a global one-world religion will serve alongside a global one-world government, both of which will reject Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Lord. Whether they realize it or not, the leaders and musicians participating in Together 2016 are helping to make that global religion a reality as they participate in this ongoing relay race of breaking down the walls that divide different faiths in the name of unity at all costs.
Right now, in America, evangelical and charismatic leaders are calling for a nation-wide revival. But will their revival be a revival from God; or will it be a false revival? And is Together 2016 nothing more than a dress rehearsal for this false revival?
Introducing the newest Lighthouse Trails author, Danny Frigulti and his Ten Word of Faith Doctrines Weighed Against Scripture Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Ten Word of Faith Doctrines Weighed Against Scripture, click here.
Ten Word of Faith Doctrines Weighed Against Scripture
Since the 1970s, a growing and captivating faith-teaching movement has saturated the world. This movement continues to emphasize “faith Scriptures” as a foundation for encouraging Christians to have strong and unwavering faith when speaking, confessing, or declaring God’s Word for health and wealth. Most people refer to this faith movement as the “Word of Faith,” and many use Romans 10:8 and 17 to lay a foundation for their faith belief. These read:
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
In this booklet, we will look at some common Word of Faith teachings and compare these with Scripture to discern the definition of their doctrines. This will verify whether any person or ministry is preaching doctrines of truth or false doctrine. Some faith-teaching ministries do not claim to be Word of Faith ministries but still teach false faith doctrine. Therefore, our focus will also be on refuting ten common false faith teachings found worldwide.
1) Identifying the Sources of Sickness and Disease
Word of Faith teachings promote the belief that all sickness and disease is from Satan and his demons. Therefore, God has not and will not chastise His people with sickness. They also say that no Christian should be sick, and if sickness happens, it is because of 1) sin in your life; 2) weak faith; or 3) you are not walking in love. We will first look at various Scriptures to see if demons are responsible for all sickness and disease. Also, we will view Scripture to find the Lord’s role in any area of sickness. Then we will look at verses where servants of God were sick and see if sin, weak faith, or lack of love are mentioned as the cause of their ailment.
A verse Word of Faith teachers distort and use to convince themselves and their followers that all sickness comes from demons is part of Matthew 18:16 which reads “…that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Jesus is quoting from Deuteronomy 19:15. The obvious context is two witnesses who confirm testimony about sin, not testimony of sickness. Frederick K. C. Price ignores what Jesus teaches about trespass/sin in Matthew 18:16. He selects two passages where demons cause affliction (Acts 10:38; Luke 13:11-14) and says, “I am perfectly convinced, from these two scriptures, that sickness and disease is of Satan.”1 Acts 10:38 is to be understood as Jesus “doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil.” This is not a verse that teaches all sickness and disease are from the devil because forthcoming Scriptures in this section will prove otherwise.
Others who teach that all sickness is from Satan are: Larry Huch, “All sickness, no matter where it comes from—birth, inheritance, injury—is from the devil;”2 Guillermo Maldonado, “According to Scripture, every sickness is directly related with demon activity;”3 and E. W. Kenyon (1867-1948), “Every disease is of the Adversary.”4 Though the Bible does cite instances where demons are shown to be the cause of different physical problems (Matthew 12:22; 17:14-21; Mark 5:1-16; Luke 4:40-41), Scripture also reveals other sources of sickness that are not from demons, as will be shown.
In Matthew 8:1-4, a leper comes to Jesus to be cleansed of the disease. Jesus does not rebuke or cast a demon out of the person. The Law teaching about leprosy in Leviticus 13-14 never states that all leprosy is caused by demons. Matthew also mentions the mother of Peter’s wife was sick with a fever, and Jesus “touched her hand, and the fever left her” (verses 14-15). This Scripture says “the fever left her.” A demon did not leave her. More scriptural proof that some diseases are not demonic are Matthew 9:27-30 and Mark 7:32-35; 8:22-25.
There are several biblical examples of God directly using disease/sickness to chastise His people, if needed, as cited in Leviticus 26:15-25; Numbers 11:33-34; 12:1-15; Deuteronomy 28:15-29; 1 Chronicles 21:1-14. Also, the New Testament confirms that God uses sickness, and even death, to punish Christians who choose to sin (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:20-32). And because of sin, our corrupt/cursed creation is another source of sickness (Romans 8:20-22). Excessive sun exposure causes skin cancer. Air pollution causes respiratory ailments. Contaminated water and food cause various physical ailments and sometimes death. From the Bible, we have proof that demons are not responsible for all sickness.
Furthermore, the teaching that sin, weak faith, or not walking in love are the reasons Christians get sick is unscriptural as verified in Philippians 2:25-30; 1 Timothy 5:23, and 2 Timothy 4:20. None of these false faith beliefs/teachings are found as causes of the ailment/sickness in these verses. Still, Creflo Dollar writes, “Have you noticed that every time God deals with sickness and disease, He deals with sin as well?”5 Jesus never taught the sin of an individual always caused every disease but actually refuted the idea in John 9:1-3.
2) Discerning True Faith
Hebrews 11:6 states that “without faith it is impossible to please [God],” with the remainder of the chapter describing biblical characters as examples. These examples show that His servants had knowledge of His will and trusted and obeyed Him of whom some were “destitute and afflicted” (vs. 37). Where false faith followers create worldwide deception is found in their improper belief of verse 1 which reads, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” They believe faith is a spiritual substance Christians can speak into existence and direct, and the “faith substance” of their belief will cause the Lord to give them the content of their words, such as healing and money. The Greek word for substance is hupostasis and translates: assurance, confidence, substance.6
When studying the verses in Hebrews 11, it is obvious that the people mentioned did not “speak by faith” and declare their will to be done as the substance of their belief. The substance of their belief was obedient response to God’s will as revealed personally or through His messengers of choice. They followed God’s spoken/written Word with confidence and assurance. God didn’t follow their spoken word. This is where false faith believers are deceived, because they insist if you have faith without doubt, God must honor your faith. No verse teaches the Lord is obligated to man’s faith level (Isaiah 64:8). Our faith in God should accept His will for us whether or not it means health, success, and prosperity; Paul is an example of one who knew “both how to be abased and . . . how to abound . . . to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need” (Philippians 4:12).
I will list some faith teachings from Word of Faith teachers/authors, and you will see that their personal definitions of faith are not supported by Scripture:
Have or receive God’s faith. This is the same faith that God Almighty used to create the universe.7
Each time God spoke, He released His faith—the creative power to bring His words to pass.8
Every born-again believer has the faith of God in him NOW.9
You can’t build without substance. He took words; faith-filled words were God’s substance . . . God filled His words with faith. He used His words as containers to hold His faith and contain that spiritual force and transport it out there into the vast darkness by saying, “Light be!”10
Such ideas and beliefs are not found anywhere in Scripture. Teaching that God needs faith to create strips Him of His sovereignty to simply speak anything into existence as He wills. The word “faith” is never mentioned in Genesis 1! God speaks. It is done (Isaiah 44:24; 45:12).
However, misled Word-Faith people insist when Jesus said, “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22), He meant “Have the faith of God” or “the God kind of faith.” They teach this to convince people to believe they can call miraculous things into existence like God does (Romans 4:17). A look at the Greek will show the correct translation is “Have faith in God.” Renowned Greek scholar A. T. Robertson taught the Greek word structure for “Have faith in God” (echete pistin theou) is translated “Have faith in God” because of what is called an objective genitive in the Greek.11 An objective genitive means the noun (in this statement, theou) is the object of the action. God is the object of faith in Mark 11:22, not your faith, and “the God kind of faith” is the kind of faith that is focused on God. Your faith is never to be the object of your faith. Jesus didn’t teach “Develop faith in your words”12 as some have done for years. Such a belief leads to word-faith idolatry.
To follow unbiblical faith (i.e., God always responds to your words of faith for what you claim) is to embrace presumption—a disastrous false faith belief. Concerning presumption, the psalmist said:
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (Psalm 19:13)
Notice the words “great transgression.” This sin has serious consequences. Presumptuous sins were punishable by death in the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 17:12-13; 18:20-22). In 2 Peter 2:10, presumption reveals those who are self-willed, not God-willed. Presumption graphically describes the heart of false Word of Faith belief because it sets itself against the true faith of Scripture. True biblical faith always submits to God, trusts in His guidance, and never speaks presumptuously, and is rooted in Scripture.
3) Jesus and the Teaching of Positive Confession
A popular Word of Faith teaching is “positive confession,” also called “confessing God’s Word,” “name it (what you want from God) and claim it,” “confession of the Word brings possession of what your faith believes,” “faith decrees and declarations,” and “You can have what you say.”13 The last sentence gives “positive confession” its definition. Obviously, this doctrine has nothing to do with biblical prayer. It’s all about finding verses you believe God has already ordained for you or a specific need you believe you’re entitled to claim. Then you “confess” your faith claim out loud. Common “positive confessions” usually refer to physical healing and money because Word-Faith people believe the shed blood (death and resurrection of Jesus) guarantees them not only the forgiveness of sins but also health and wealth. This heretical atonement belief will be refuted later.
Though the word confess indicates a strong conviction in what one believes, there is no citation in the New Testament where Christians are encouraged to use “positive confession” for healing or money. First Timothy 6:12-13 and Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 10:21-23 refer to a Christian’s confession of Jesus as the Son of God, High Priest, or holding on to the faith. None of these verses teach “positive confession” for speaking forth healings, miracles, or prosperity.
Some unbiblical “confession” teachings for health and wealth circulating the world are:
“If you want to change your life, you have to change your confession. The miracle is in your mouth” (John Osteen 1921-1999).14 Miracles are by God’s will, not man’s mouth (1 Corinthians 12:10-11).
“Confession is to your faith as thrust is to an airplane.”15 No verse proof is given.
Yet, Word of Faith believers proclaim “positive confession” for health, wealth, and miracles, because Jesus said “he shall have whatsoever he saith” in Mark 11:23:
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
In this verse, Jesus did teach you can have what you say if you do not doubt in your heart and believe what you say will come to pass. However, there are scriptural guidelines that always pertain to answered prayer or miracles. Jesus said, “he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone: for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). Jesus did only as directed by His Father (John 5:19-20) so He withered the fig tree (Mark 11:20-21). We must ask according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). Miracles happen according to God’s will, not our faith-determined will (1 Corinthians 12:10-11).
Mark 11:23 is not a step-by-step formula for daily miracles. It must be the Holy Spirit’s will for the miracle to occur. Exodus 14:14-22 is an example of “You can have what you say.” Moses first heard from God, and then he told the sea to part. It obeyed Moses because God had willed this to happen in advance.
Finally, two things are important to remember 1) the words “positive confession” are not found together in the Bible; and 2) Jesus never used “positive confession” when teaching us to pray, request, do miracles, ask, or call upon God for anything. Obedient Christians will not use “positive confession” because it is unbiblical.
4) Creative Visualization
For decades, Word of Faith people have taught “creative visualization” to enhance a Christian’s prayer life where a person is encouraged to create a picture or image (also called mental imagery) in their mind as if it has already happened as they desire and seek the help of supernatural power to make their created vision manifest/happen. This is combined with “positive confession” to activate the supernatural spiritual realm. When done, these two components of visual and verbal effort have the spiritual potential to connect users to the wrong spiritual realm, a realm where demons are found.
Normal visualization imagines pictures of events in our mind that have occurred or might happen (daydreaming). Athletes picture or imagine, with concentrated focus, the free throw going into the basket or picture the body movement needed to perform in a specific event. These everyday examples of picturing something in the mind are simply ways of thinking something through and do not engage supernatural powers for something to become a reality.
David Yonggi Cho, a Korean pastor, teaches “Through visualizing and dreaming you can incubate your future and hatch the results.”16 Charles Capps (1934-2014) taught, “The best way to get the image in you of the thing hoped for, is with your own words.”17 “Creative visualization” is actually an occultic practice (secret, hidden things) that is commonly used in magic as shown in the following references:
“What is the purpose of creative visualization? . . . creative visualization is a key component to making magick.”18
“Creative visualization is one of the Most Occult Spiritual practices in the world.”19
Creative Visualization is the name for a Magical-Occult-Operation.20
These three sources show the occult/demonic nature of “creative visualization.” “Prayer picturing” (creative visualization) is not biblical prayer; it’s occult prayer. Christians are to pray (ask) in Jesus’ name (John 14:13) and in accordance with God’s will (1 John 5:14-15), not in accordance with our pictured and positive confession will.
5) Financial Angels
Angels are a common Word of Faith topic. Many believe we can use Hebrews 1:14 to command the angels around us to get money for needs and ministry. This verse says angels are “sent forth [by God] to minster.” God sends them “to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (emphasis added). Therefore, they listen to “the voice of His Word” (Psalm 103:20-21), not man’s word. Here are some unbiblical teachings about money angels at your verbal command from Kenneth and Gloria Copeland:
In the name of Jesus, I take authority over the money I need . . . I command you to come to me…Ministering spirits, you go and cause it to come.21
The angels are in the earth to prosper you.22
Your words put the angels to work on your behalf to bring to pass whatever you say. . . . The angels are waiting on your words.23
[W]hen you use the Word in the name of Jesus, they are obligated to follow your command.24
Even the late Kenneth E. Hagin (1917-2003) was convinced angels are for gathering money. He declared that Jesus personally spoke to him25 and said the following: “Claim whatever you need or want. Say, ‘Satan, take your hands off my finances.’ Then say, ‘Go, ministering spirits, and cause the money to come.’”26 This couldn’t have been the real Jesus who spoke to Mr. Hagin because the real Jesus knows the context of Hebrews 1:14 and also knows angels are subject to Him only (1 Peter 3:22). His chosen apostles didn’t have this convenience, and Jesus didn’t tell angels to get Him money during His ministry.
6) Seed Faith for $
In the last few decades, there has been a significant increase in televangelists devoting more air time to preaching faith in financial prosperity rather than faith in the true Gospel. Financial “seed faith” planting is preached constantly. These false preachers proclaim that if you plant a “seed faith investment” in their ministry, God will bless you with a financial return if you have faith to receive it. Here’s the problem; Jesus and His disciples never taught the Gospel was a financial system where money given to the work of the Gospel guaranteed your money back and even more, if you have faith. In 2 Corinthians 9:10, Paul says the seed sown (money) is multiplied for Gospel use, and increases “the fruits of your righteousness.” Paul does not say the “seed faith donation” will be money multiplied back to the givers if they have enough faith.
Still, some insist that if you plant a seed of financial faith in their ministry, “you can receive a 30, 60, or 100 fold financial blessing.”27 They set up the unlearned listener by combining Mark 4:20 which states seed sown on good ground “brings forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred” with Mark 10:29-30. These verses cite various blessings, including persecutions but do not talk about exchanging faith for money. The seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11).
7) 3 John 2—Health and Wealth?
Globally, false prosperity preachers insist 3 John 2 is God’s will for all to prosper financially. John writes directly to Gaius (verse 1), not all Christians. The King James Bible is commonly used in Word of Faith congregations. They should remember that when “Thou” is used, as in 3 John 2 in reference to Gaius, it is in the Greek singular, not the plural. John wrote this verse to Gaius only. This means any who teach 3 John 2 is God’s will for all Christians to be financially prosperous and healed are wrong. Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones explains the singular/plural use in his book Which Version is the Bible?28 Dr. Jones explains in his book how the following authors mislead people by teaching that 3 John 2 assures health and/or wealth for all Christians:
Rod Parsley—Your Harvest Is Come, 1999, p. 26.
Benny Hinn—Rise & Be Healed!, 1991, p. 66.
Gloria Copeland—God’s Will is Prosperity, 1978, p. 45.
Guillermo Maldonado—Jesus Heals Your Sickness Today, 2009, p. 28.
Joseph Prince—Healing Promises, 2012, p. 61.
Charles Capps—The Tongue—A Creative Force, 1995, p. 66.
Joyce Meyer—Prepare to Prosper, 1997, p. 46.
8) Abraham’s Covenant
Concerning Abraham’s covenant from God, Gloria Copeland writes:
When the Church received spiritual redemption, she let go of the rest of the blessing of Abraham. Prosperity and healing became a lost reality. The Church took spiritual blessing and left the prosperity and healing portions of the promise.29
This doctrine is incorrect. A careful reading of chapters 12-17 in Genesis will reveal Abraham’s covenant was about his seed, land rights, and circumcision. Though Abraham was wealthy, nowhere in these chapters is physical healing and wealth promised to all future New Covenant believers.
Luke 1:67-79 mentions Abraham’s covenant. Health and wealth are not recorded. Romans 4:1-5:2 cites several references about Abraham’s blessing and does not teach this covenant provides health and wealth for all New Covenant believers. Galatians 3:8 explains God’s plan to justify the heathen through faith. Verse 14 reveals the blessing of Abraham for the Gentiles; they would “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” According to the apostle Paul, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write Romans and Galatians, Abraham’s covenant guarantees forgiveness (justification), not money and healing.
9) the Curse of the Law
Galatians 3:13 says “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Kenneth E. Hagin taught the curse of the Law is threefold: Christ redeemed us from sin, sickness, and poverty.30 Frederick Price also believes we “have been redeemed from the curse of the Law, which is poverty, sickness, and spiritual death.”31 Both of these authors confuse the various curses (plural) in the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 28:15; 29:20-21) with the specific curse of the Law. Galatians 3 contains information which defines the curse of the Law. Paul never writes Jesus redeemed us from the “threefold curse of the Law,” and Paul received the Gospel by revelation from Jesus (Galatians 1:11-12). The curse of the Law was that no one could keep the entire Law (Galatians 3:10-11), therefore, all were under the Law’s curse of sin. Christ kept the entire Law and never sinned (1 Peter 2:22). His perfect blood sacrifice redeems us from the death penalty of unforgiven sin.
More proof that the curse of the Law doesn’t guarantee physical healing and prosperity for all is found in Galatians 2:10 where Paul records he was aware of their poverty. If Christ’s sacrifice removed poverty from the curse of the Law, Paul would have told them in this epistle, and Jesus would have reminded His followers in Revelation 2:9 that they should not be in poverty. It is unscriptural to teach that Christ’s shed blood guarantees health and wealth throughout our life. Clearly, redemption from the curse of the Law is redemption from the penalty of all our sins. The totality of our redemption (complete curse removal) will be finalized as recorded in Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-5.
There are serious consequences to indoctrinating people into believing that the atonement guarantees health and success; people who have been taught this often lose heart and possibly even deny the faith when they are unable to attain these goals.
10) Guaranteed Physical Healing Through Christ’s Atonement
When teaching on healing, Word of Faith healing ministers repeatedly declare throughout the world, “Isaiah 53:5 says by His stripes you are healed. Jesus died to physically heal you. Your healing has already occurred at the cross. Just claim it by faith, and you will be healed!” First Peter 2:24 is often combined with Isaiah 53:5 by faith healers. A few atonement healing advocates are the following:
Joyce Meyer—Be Healed in Jesus’ Name, 2000, pp. 16-19.
Rod Parsley—At the Cross Where Healing Begins, 2003, pp. 37-39.
Joseph Prince—Healing Promises, 2012, pp. 17-19.
Kenneth Hagin—Plead Your Case, 1979, p. 28.
Kenneth Copeland—You are Healed! 1979, pp. 9-12.
Frederick K. C. Price—Is Healing for All? 2015, pp. 120-121.
The context of Isaiah 53:5 reveals whether physical or spiritual healing is emphasized. As you read, notice the words in italics:
But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. (emphasis added)
The words “transgressions,” “iniquities,” and “peace” all refer to the condition of our spiritual relationship with God. Christ’s purpose for being wounded, bruised, and chastised for us on the Cross was to reconcile us through His forgiveness that we would have peace with His Father in heaven. The healing that Isaiah describes in this verse is spiritual healing. The Messiah forgives so we can be reconciled to Almighty God. Isaiah is foretelling the Lamb of God will be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2; 4:10). Physical sickness and financial poverty are not mentioned in Isaiah 53:5 because these problems do not separate us from God, as sin does. Isaiah 53 vividly directs our focus on the Suffering Servant who atones for the sins of the world.
An argument from Isaiah 53:5 false faith healers have used to convince people to have faith to receive healing is: “The word for healing in Isaiah 53:5 is râphâ, and it means physical healing.” Yes, râphâ can mean physical healing, but it also can mean spiritual healing, and it does not have to mean both: Psalm 41:4; 147:3; Isaiah 6:10; Jeremiah 3:22; Hosea 7:1; it can refer to the healing of water, 2 Kings 2:21-22 and the healing of the land, 2 Chronicles 7:14. Therefore, the context of Isaiah 53:5 determines what type of healing the Holy Spirit is referring to. In this case, the context is spiritual healing (forgiveness). Also, Isaiah 61:1 is a prophecy describing the Messiah’s ministry and gives clarification to 53:5. It says:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
Jesus reads this messianic identity prophecy in Luke 4:18 and says, “He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted.” Jesus does not say He was sent to heal all sickness and disease, though He did heal multitudes due to His great compassion for them: “Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14, emphasis added). But He also “withdrew Himself” from multitudes (did not heal them) who wanted His healing (Luke 5:15-16), and He was selective in healing only one in a multitude who continually sought healing (John 5:1-9). Concerning atonement healing, Isaiah 53:4 is a final verse needing explanation from an apostolic observation.
Matthew 8:1-16 cites miraculous healings and deliverance from demonic spirits while verse 17 comments, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias [Isaiah] the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” Verse 17 is quoting from Isaiah 53:4 where it says “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
Isaiah 53:4 appears to be a verse referring to Christ’s time on the Cross (“smitten of God”). But Matthew records these healings as happening during Christ’s ministry, not linking them to the atonement. If Matthew had wanted to teach guaranteed physical healing through the atonement, he would have followed verse 17 with “and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). But he didn’t, and a crucial Greek word he uses in verse 17 shows what he was taught by the Holy Spirit when recording Scripture to ground us in truth.
The Greek word for “bare” (our sicknesses) is bastazō and is never used to describe atonement bearing of sins or diseases in the New Testament. It directs our focus to everyday bearing of burdens and sufferings borne on behalf of others.32 If Matthew had wanted to teach guaranteed atonement healing in verse 17, he would have used the word anapherō, which “is used twice of the Lord’s propitiatory sacrifice, in His bearing sins on the Cross, Hebrews 9:28 and 1 Peter 2:24.”33 On the Cross, Jesus does bear the sins of the world and all the problems sin has created, so in the future all the consequences of sin will be removed (Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-5). Until then, we seek the Lord for healing as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:9, 11), ask for the elders to pray (James 5:14-18), and read His Word to strengthen the inner man daily (2 Corinthians 4:16). Those who teach that physical healing is guaranteed for all through Christ’s atonement are teaching false doctrine.
Take the time to read every Gospel message preached in the Book of Acts, and you will see the apostles never preached “Jesus died to heal and prosper all,” and they never used “by His stripes you are healed” in any Gospel presentation. First Peter 2:24 is the only time Isaiah 53:5 is used in the New Testament, and it refers to spiritual healing. Furthermore, if healing was guaranteed through Christ’s atonement, there would be no need for the gifts of healing (1 Corinthians 12:9).
Response Needed to Glorify the Real Jesus
If you will look back at the various Word of Faith doctrines that have been exposed, you should scripturally discern the real Jesus didn’t teach any of these, nor did His apostles. These false faith doctrines are rampant worldwide. If you are involved with believing any of these unscriptural doctrines, you need to repent by renouncing them and exposing them. The leaven of false doctrine (Galatians 5:9) inflates deception which impairs abundant life in Jesus (John 10:10). False teachers and false prophets (Matthew 7:15-23) proclaim doctrines and a gospel not taught by the real Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4, 13-15).
Luke 24:45-48 teaches exactly which Gospel Jesus wanted preached. His true Gospel does not include guaranteed atonement healing and prosperity for all. Not preaching the true Gospel is working against God’s Holy Spirit of truth (John 15:26; 16:13) because it redefines Jesus and His atonement. Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified in truth (John 17:17). True doctrine glorifies the Lord Jesus; false doctrine does not. We are to treasure God’s Word in our heart that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). Receiving and confessing the true Son of God as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-10) establishes the assurance of eternal life in one’s heart (1 John 5:11-13). Make sure you have eternal life.
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1. Frederick K. C. Price, Is Healing for All? (Los Angeles, CA: Faith One Publishing, 2015), p. 7.
2. Larry Huch, The 7 Places Jesus Shed His Blood (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2004), p. 41.
3. Guillermo Maldonado, Jesus Heals Your Sickness Today! (Miami, FL: ERJ Publications, 2009), p. 23.
4. Don Gossett & E. W. Kenyon, The Power of Your Words (New Kensington: PA: Whitaker House, 1981), p. 63.
5. Creflo A. Dollar Jr., How To Obtain Healing (College Park, GA: Creflo Dollar Ministries, 1999), p. 16.
6. James Strong, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Of The Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1996), p. 94.
7. Bill Winston, The God Kind Of Faith (Oak Park, IL: Bill Winston Ministries, 2014), p. 13.
8. Kenneth Copeland, The Power Of The Tongue (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1980), p. 5.
9. Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Faith (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1992), p. 13.
10. Charles Capps, Faith and Confession (England, AR: Capps Publishing, 1987), p. 25.
11. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, The Gospels According to Matthew and Mark, Volume I (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1930), p. 361.
12. Charles Capps, Faith and Confession, op. cit., p. 255.
13. Kenneth E. Hagin, “You Can Have What You Say!” (Tulsa, OK: Rhema Bible Church, 1979), pp. 1-6.
14. John Osteen, There is a Miracle in Your Mouth (Houston, TX: Lakewood Church, 1972), pp. 42-43.
15. Charles Capps, Faith and Confession, op., cit., p. 78.
16. David Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension, Volume One (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1979), p. 32.
17. Charlie Capps, Faith and Confession, op. cit., p. 22.
20. Ophiel, The Art and Practice of Getting Things Through Creative Visualization (San Francisco, CA: Peach Publishing Co., 1968), p. 1.
21. Gloria Copeland, God’s Will is Prosperity (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1978), p. 63.
22. Ibid., p. 117.
23. Ibid., p. 121.
24. Kenneth Copeland, The Laws of Prosperity (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1974), p. 102.
25. Kenneth E. Hagin, How God Taught Me About Prosperity (Tulsa, OK: Rhema Bible Church, 1985), p. 23.
26. Ibid., p. 18.
27. Gloria Copeland, God’s Will is Prosperity, op. cit., pp. 70-71.
28. Floyd Nolen Jones, Which Version is the Bible? (Humboldt, TN: Kings Word Press, 2014), pp. 78-79.
29. Gloria Copeland, God’s Will is Prosperity, op. cit., p. 25.
30. Kenneth E. Hagin, Redeemed From Poverty, Sickness, and Spiritual Death (Tulsa, OK: Rhema Bible Church, 1983), pp. 1-2.
31. Frederick K. C. Price, Three Keys to Positive Confession (Los Angeles, CA: Faith One Publishing, 1994), p. 59.
32. W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966), pp. 100-101.
33. Ibid., p. 101.
To order copies of Ten Word of Faith Doctrines Weighed Against Scripture, click here.
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Lighthouse Trails Publishing to Make Contact with Over 100 Christian Leaders to Warn About Jesus Calling
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Isaiah 119:105)
For nearly 14 years, Lighthouse Trails has been trying to warn Christian leaders and the body of Christ of the spiritual deception that has entered the church. While thousands of Christians have responded favorably to the work we do, and we believe our material and the material of our authors has influenced, either directly or indirectly, tens of thousands of believers, the sad reality is tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of proclaiming Christians throughout the world are following leaders who will not warn them about spiritual deception, even when it is warned about in the Bible. In an ongoing effort to warn the church, Lighthouse Trails has put together a spreadsheet with the names of over 100 Christian leaders. We have now collected mailing addresses to all these names. While we have given away thousands of copies of books, booklets, and DVDs to leaders, professors, missionaries, pastors, and church members since 2002, we have never had a list with names and addresses so that we could send materials to a large number of leaders all at once. Now that we have this database, we are going to begin sending these 100+ leaders booklets on a regular basis with the hope of stirring them to discerning action.
While we realize our efforts in this mailing project to leaders may end up being futile, we are motivated by a sense of desperation as we witness the snowballing effect taking place in the church with regard to Christians becoming seriously deceived and deluded.
Because most Christian leaders are not even talking about Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling, the first booklet we are sending out to these leaders is Warren B. Smith’s new booklet, 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book.
The following is a cover letter we will be including with the booklet. Below that, we have listed the 100+ leaders who will be getting this booklet and subsequent ones. As the Lord provides and leads, we will send out a new booklet to these men and women every two or three months. Please take a look at the names we have listed below, and if you know of a leader whom we have not listed and feel we should, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will take your suggestion into serious consideration. Please include that person’s organization name and mailing address so we can include him or her on the list. Keep in mind, the names we have chosen are primarily considered influential leaders of the evangelical church.
We hope our efforts will encourage you to continue the good fight for the contending of the faith. For those who may be feeling dismayed at the struggle in their own efforts to contend for the faith, please read “The Unacknowledged War and the Wearing Down of the Saints” by Cedric Fisher.
OUR LETTER TO CHRISTIAN LEADERS
Dear Christian Leader:
Sarah Young’s perennial best-selling book, Jesus Calling, has sold over 15 million copies since it was first published in 2004. It continues to be enthusiastically read around the world and is available in over 20 different editions in English alone. With the book more popular than ever, there are entire Sarah Young’ sections in Christian bookstores that feature Jesus Calling and other related products. Sadly, most Christian leaders are either unaware of the book’s serious problems or are just choosing to stay away from the growing controversy surrounding Jesus Calling. Whatever the case, few, if any, warnings are being issued by those in Christian leadership.
In case you happened to be unaware of the problems involving Jesus Calling, we have enclosed our recently published Lighthouse Trails booklet titled 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book. Hopefully, it will help you to understand why Sarah Young’s book is such a threat to the spiritual well-being of today’s church.
Sincerely in Christ,
The Editors at Lighthouse Trails Publishing
The List of Leaders We Are Reaching Out To
(Not all of the names below are those in deception. This list has a variety of persuasions within the evangelical camp. We are compelled to send each of these people specific information on various important issues that are basically not being addressed in the church today.)
|First Name||Last Name||Organization|
|Randy||Alcorn||Eternal Perspective Ministries|
|John||Ankerberg||John Ankerberg Ministries|
|Kay||Arthur||Precept Ministries International|
|Mark||Bailey||Dallas Theological Seminary|
|Alistair||Begg||Truth for Life|
|John and Lisa||Bevere||Messenger International|
|Pat||Boone||Actor and Activist|
|Brian||Broedersen||Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa|
|Kirk||Cameron||c/o Liberty University|
|Pastor Tom||Carter||Dinuba First Baptist Church|
|Matt||Chandler||The Village Church|
|Bryan||Chappell||Grace Presbyterian Church|
|Roberta||Combs||Christian Coalition of America|
|Jim||Daly||Focus on the Family|
|Mart||DeHaan||Our Daily Bread|
|Dr. James||Dobson||Family Talk|
|Joni||Eareckson-Tada||Joni and Friends|
|Jack||Eggar||Awana CEO President|
|Dr. Tony||Evans||Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship|
|Pastor Jonathan||Falwell||Thomas Road Baptist Church|
|Joseph||Farah||World News Daily|
|Dr. Ronnie||Floyd||Southern Baptist President Crosschurch|
|Jim||Garlow||Skyline Church (La Mesa, CA)|
|Louie||Giglio||Passion City Church|
|Dr. Jack||Graham||Prestonwood Baptist Church|
|David||Green||Hobby Lobby Stores Inc|
|Pastor John||Hagee||Cornerstone Church|
|Ken||Ham||Answers in Genesis|
|Hank||Hanegraaff||Bible Answer Man|
|Jack||Hayford||The Church on the Way|
|Pastor Skip||Heitzig||The Connection|
|Hugh||Hewitt||The Hugh Hewitt Show|
|Pastor Jack||Hibbs||Real Life With Jack Hibbs|
|Pastor Dave||Hocking||Hope for Today|
|Dr. Michael||Horton||Westminster Seminary|
|Pastor Bill||Hybels||Willow Creek Community Church|
|Pastor Robert||Jeffress||First Baptist Church|
|Pastor David||Jeremiah||Shadow Mountain Community Church|
|Pastor Timothy||Keller||Redeemer Presbyterian Church|
|Pastor R T||Kendall||R T Kendall Ministries|
|The||Kendrick Brothers||Film makers|
|Dan||Kimball||Vintage Faith Church|
|Dr Tim||LaHaye||Southern California Seminary|
|Dr. Richard||Land||President-Southern Evangelical Seminary|
|William||Lane Craig||Biola University|
|Pastor Greg||Laurie||Harvest America|
|Nancy||Leigh DeMoss||Revive Our Hearts|
|Mike||LeMay||Stand up for the Truth|
|Hal||Lindsey||Hal Lindsey Ministries|
|Pastor Fred||Luter||Franklin Avenue Baptist Church|
|Dr. Erwin||Lutzer||Moody Church|
|Pastor John||MacArthur||Grace Community Church|
|Mike||Macintosh||Horizon Christian Fellowship (Calvary Chapel)|
|James||McDonald||Walk in the Word|
|Josh||McDowell||Josh McDowell Ministry|
|Janet||Mefferd||Janet Mefferd Today|
|CEO Santiago “Jimmy”||Mellado||Compassion International|
|Eric||Metaxas||The Eric Metaxas Show|
|Joyce||Meyer||Joyce Meyer Ministries|
|Albert||Mohler||Southern Baptist Theological Seminary|
|Beth||Moore||Living Proof Ministries|
|Elisa||Morgan||Women of Faith|
|Dr Joel||Mullinex||Rejoice in the Lord|
|Pastor Joel||Osteen||Lakewood Church|
|Luis||Palau||Luis Palau Association|
|Tony||Perkins||Family Research Counsel|
|John||Piper||Bethlehem Baptist Church|
|Dennis||Pollock||Spirit of Grace Ministries|
|Dave||Ramsey||The Lampo Group|
|Dave||Reagan||Lamb and Lion Ministries|
|Ron||Rhodes||Ron Rhodes Ministries|
|Pastor Raul||Ries||Calvary Chapel Golden Springs|
|Pat||Robertson||700 Club Christian Broadcasting Network|
|James & Betty||Robison||LIFE Outreach International: LIFE TODAY|
|Rev. Samuel||Rodrigues||New Season Christian Worship Church|
|Joel||Rosenberg||Trident Media Group|
|Dennis||Rydberg||Young Life Service Center|
|Pastor Tim||Savage||Camelback Bible Church|
|Mark||Schoenwald||HarperCollins Christian Publishing|
|Bobby||Schuller||Crystal Cathedral Church|
|Jay||Sekulow||American Center for Law and Justice|
|Gary||Smalley||Smalley Relationship Center|
|Larry||Spargimino||Southwest Radio Church Ministries|
|Dr Charles||Stanley||First Baptist Church|
|Cameron||Strang||Relevant Media Group|
|Jimmy||Swaggart||Jimmy Swaggart Ministries|
|Chuck||Swindoll||Insight for Living Ministries|
|Tim||Tebow||Tim Tebow Foundation|
|Jack and Rexella||Van Impe||Jack Van Impe Ministries International|
|Pastor Joe||Van Koevering||Gateway Christian Center|
|Pastor Rick||Warren||Saddleback Church|
|David A.R.||White||Founder Pure Flix Movies|
|Dr George||Wood||Assemblies of God president|
|Dr Rick||Yohn||Men of the Word|
|Dr Ed||Young||The Winning Walk|
|Pastor Michael||Youssef||Leading the Way|
|Board of Director||Bible Study Fellowship|
|Kimm||Carr||Community Bible Study|
|Michael||Farris||Home School Legal Defense Association|
|Dr. Jeff||Meyers||Summit Ministries|
|Dr. Jerry||Nance||Teen Challenge global president|