A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)
Today, a growing number of Christian leaders are holding public events calling for national repentance and church revival. With Christians deeply concerned about the state of our nation, it is understandable that repentance and revival would be on the hearts of many in the church. But sadly and alarmingly many of the figures who are calling for revival today have been promoting false and dangerous teachings, and we must ask the question, how can those involved with serious false teachings lead the way to true revival without first repenting themselves of those false teachings? In Warren B. Smith’s new book, The Titanic and Today’s Church (published by Mountain Stream Press), he asks this same question and challenges many of these leaders in their roles of possibly bringing about a false revival based on faulty foundations.
A case in point is Pastor Steve Berger. On September 26th, Berger spoke at The Return, an event in Washington, DC (hosted by author of The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn) in a session called Prayers for Blessing, the Spirit, and Revival. Earlier this year, Berger also spoke at a Promise Keeper’s event (and he is on their Advisory Board*) in a talk titled “A Call to Repentance“; and in 2016, he gave the opening prayer as guest chaplain at the U.S. Senate. It appears Steve Berger has become a major spokesperson in calling for repentance and revival in America. But there is a problem, and it is a serious one.
As Warren Smith documents in The Titanic and Today’s Church, chapter one, Steve Berger promotes communicating with the dead (i.e., necromancy). Smith explains:
In 2010, Steve Berger, head pastor of the Grace Chapel megachurch in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, wrote a book with his wife Sarah titled Have Heart: Bridging the Gulf Between Heaven and Earth. The book described how they claim to be in spiritual contact with their deceased son Josiah. . . . the Bergers wrote that their deceased son Josiah has been directly communicating with the two of them, their children, and some of their friends. . . .
The Bergers cited [an] incident in detail, telling readers that the visit proves that departed loved ones can communicate and interact with those on Earth. (pp. 31-32)
Two very popular Christian leaders, Pastor Greg Laurie and television host James Robison, have endorsed Have Heart (endorsements which still sit on the inside front pages of both the print and digital editions) even though such a practice is called an abomination in the Bible (Deuteronomy 18). Incidentally, both Greg Laurie and James Robison were contacted about their endorsements by Chris Lawson, director of Spiritual Research Network, as noted in Warren Smith’s book. Out of concern for both the Bergers and the body of Christ, Lawson also contacted Steve Berger and politely asked him about Have Heart. Berger told Lawson:
God has made an exception at this time in history for the Berger family. We are indeed in communication with our son Josiah. (source)
Warren Smith also documents in his book that on a Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Perspective radio program (23:50-29:02 min. mark),** a caller asked the two hosts (Don Stewart and Brian Brodersen) if talking to the dead was a serious issue. Smith writes:
Stewart said if the living are spoken to, it originates from one of only two sources—a “demonic spirit” or from some type of “charade” working through “a medium.” (pp. 33-34)
In Brodersen’s reply, he referred to Deuteronomy 18 and said, “This could cause real problems in the church.” Smith adds, “Program director Pastor Josh Turansky said that what had been discussed on the program was “dangerous” and “bizarre.”
The Berger situation is just one of many examples Smith provides in his book referencing Christian leaders whose request for repentance and revival are disconcerting and problematic.
While we should, as Christians, be praying for repentance and true revival in our country, we hope that discerning believers will realize we cannot sacrifice biblical truth in order to “save our country.” The only way America (or any country) can truly be helped is by Christian believers remaining faithful to God’s Word and by proclaiming the Gospel faithfully so that individuals will repent (i.e., change direction and turn to God) and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. The New Testament does not speak of “national repentance” but rather teaches people are personally saved when they believe on and put their trust in Him (“whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
The Bible clearly indicates that apostasy will abound in the end times. In 2 Corinthians 11:4, the apostle Paul speaks of those who bring “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel.” There are many false teachings going on within Christian leadership today. Before these leaders ask the church and the country to repent, isn’t it time they do this themselves? As Warren Smith points out, so many of these leaders have been promoting heretical and dangerous concepts such as “God’s dream,” “oneness,” “God in all,” “contemplative prayer,” “holy laughter,” and “quantum spirituality”—and these very same leaders are now calling for revival when it is clear, they don’t really understand what that means.
While many of these leaders do talk about Jesus and what He has done on the Cross to save man from his sins, the mixture of truth and error can be more dangerous than straight error in that it is less recognizable and therefore more deceptive. Theologian Harry Ironside pointed out:
Error is like leaven of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died. (source)
The church is in danger today, perhaps like never before; and just like the Titanic, which received six warnings about the ice field ahead, church leaders are disregarding the warnings that Scripture gives, and the result will end with countless spiritual victims.
In The Titanic and Today’s Church, Warren Smith warns:
Today’s church is being told to overlook denominational differences for the sake of . . . “revival”—that we must come together in “unity” for the purpose of the “great awakening.” However, the late researcher and author Tamara Hartzell warned that spiritual deception and spiritual disaster arise when truth is sacrificed on the “altar of unity.” (p. 95)
It is ironic that in Pastor Steve Berger’s talk at Promise Keepers, he states:
While the Titanic of the United States of America is sinking, we are channel surfing . . . Friends, why is it now then that we don’t have the insight and the courage to say we are clearly under the judgment of God? Can’t we see the signs? Don’t we know how they conflict with the character, nature, and purposes of God? Are we so blind, are we so deaf that we’ve lost touch with who God is and what His will is all about. These are perilous times, friends, and we’ve got to wake up. God is requiring us to make a decision. Are we going to repent and turn from all of the things that are contributing to the peril and turmoil in our country and in our churches, or are we too busy channel surfing to even care or to recognize what’s happening in our land? Friends, we’ve become so addicted to offending one another and being offended by other people I don’t hear anybody asking the question, hey do you think we’ve offended God? (starting at 17 minute mark)
Will Christian leaders turn and look at themselves (as Berger suggests) and ask these questions? And will they turn from their false teachings and stop offending God and leading the sheep astray? If not, the revival they are calling for may indeed be a false revival with disastrous results.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17
*On the Promise Keeper’s website, it states that “The pastoral advisory board is intended to provide guardrails on doctrinal issues to Promise Keepers. It will provide wisdom around how the PK board and leadership are to respond to biblical questions and on controversial and political issues. . . . The pastoral advisory board are leaders who bring deep biblical knowledge and insight.
**This particular YouTube video can take about 30 seconds to load.
(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)