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Five Things You Need To Know About Salvation
(Acts 4:10, 12) Posted by Bro. Jeff Ray

We as Christians need to be so thankful for our salvation in Jesus Christ and you say I know plenty about salvation and have heard so many sermons on it that you could teach it. Well, we need to be reminded so that we can keep a thankful heart and renew the joy of our salvation in our hearts. We need to hear it again so that we can tell others about salvation found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, today we are going to look at five things we need to know about salvation.

I. Salvation and the Two-fold Implication

First we need to define salvation. Salvation means to fully deliver someone from out of danger, harm, or destruction. Now does that have any implications for us? It definitely does. We can get two implications from this.

The first implication is that someone needs to be saved and cannot save themselves. Well I can imply that to myself, in light of what scripture says about mankind ability to save themselves I understand this truth, I am lost and condemned in my sinfulness and I cannot save myself.

The second implication of salvation is this, there is someone who is able to save and is willing to save us. In reading the scriptures we can come to this truth, only Jesus can save us and was willing to save us. From this we have two unchangeable truths, our inability to save ourselves and the one who can save us (Jesus) who is more than willing to save us.

God chose to save us and went to the tremendous task to save us through the sacrifice of the eternal Son of God. The awesome love and grace and mercy poured out on a mere creation. In all rights He could have and should have destroyed us but He did not. What love and kindness and tender mercies He has shown sinful and disobedient mankind (Ps. 69:14-16 says, “Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters. Let not the water flood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.).

The subject of the Bible and the object of God’s love is the redemption of man made possible through Jesus Christ, God the Son.

II. Man is Lost

Rom. 3:9,10 – “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.”

If you ever read the book of Romans in just the first 3 chapters we come to these important truths about the nature of man: man is lost in his sins, it is his nature to sin, and that all people are sinful and in need of a savior. The sinfulness of man is called the depravity of mankind. That simply means we are morally and sinfully corrupt and that is our nature.

Every human being ever born or will be born in this world will be born with a sin nature, Rom. 3:23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”, we see it doesn’t say some or most but all. All people are equal in this that we are sinful and separated from God (Is. 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you). We can’t let pride say, “I’m not as bad as somebody else”, we are all sinful and in the same spiritual condition without Christ.

III. Man cannot save himself.

Man cannot save himself because he is sinful and cannot come into the presence of a holy God. Because of our inability, we can only fall upon God’s grace to save us. Salvation is by God’s grace and not by any works we do (Eph. 2:8, 9- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.).

Man-made religions, cults, and philosophies trust in a false hope that somehow good deeds, religious devotion, or self-effort will make us good enough to be accepted by God into His Heaven. The prevalent philosophy is that if one does enough good things that it will outweigh the bad. That is far from the truth, the parable of Jesus about judgment day in Matt. 7, in verses 22 & 23, we see them say to Jesus, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Those in that day that relied on good works and religious rituals but never had a personal relationship with Christ and found themselves deceived and facing the judgment of God. Prov. 14:12 says “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”.

Salvation is not earned by church membership, good deeds, baptism, or by keeping the 10 Commandments. It is by putting your faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, recognizing He is the only way of salvation, because mankind cannot save themselves.

IV. What is Salvation?

A. Reconciliation- Salvation is reconciliation with God. Rom 5:10, 11 (NIV) – For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. The suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ, He has reconciled us back in right relationship with the God.

B. Redemption- Gal. 3:13- Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law. The term redemption in Greek was used of one purchasing a servants at a slave market that gives us the understanding that Christ paid the price to purchase our salvation from the slavery of sin. The redemption price was His blood which was sufficient to purchase everyone sold under sin. The words used to show redemption also mean to purchase and take home, no longer for sale in the slave market, to purchase and give freedom. Christ redeemed us from the slave block of sin and forever given freedom in Christ.

C. Adoption (Gal. 4:4,5- But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.) – we are adopted as sons and daughters of God by and through the person and work of Jesus Christ. We have full rights as children of God through Jesus Christ.

D. Imputation- Christ’s salvation took the penalty for our sin on Himself Is. 53:5- “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.” And because He was the substitute for us, He could give vicariously or impute to us His righteousness. So we could be accepted by the Father.

E. Justification (Rom. 3:24,25 – Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins.)- Justification is the forgiveness of sin (past, present, and future) and God declaring us righteous through Christ’s righteousness imputed to us and the removal of His judgment.

V. Cost of Salvation – the cross; the suffering, shed blood, and death of Christ on the Cross. Is. 53:4,5 -Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 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. Healed, cleansed, forgiven, and set free from our sins by the mighty work of Jesus Christ. With great love He gave Himself for the salvation of our souls. With great love we need to confess and believe by faith in Christ to be our Lord and Savior. And after He becomes our Lord we need to serve Him and live for Him and witness about Him to all of those who are still lost and blind in their sins.

http://excharismania.blogspot.com/2009/01/five-things-you-need-to-know-about.html

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The Doctrine of Autonomous Self: A Hidden Idolatry
By A. Sutono

Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!

how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:11-15)

I. Background

In this text, Isaiah describes the fall of Lucifer, as well as the cause and effect of it. We learn the cause of him being eternally condemned by God from v.13 and 14 is that he is so filled with pride and self-adoration that he declares himself to be worthy to ascend into heaven and be exalted above the stars of God. He considers himself to be as equally valuable, as equally worthy, if not more valuable and more worthy than God himself that he should be like the Most High. In response, God removed him from his original state and declares that his splendor be nullified and brought down to shame, and he himself be brought down to hell, to a place of eternal torment which is the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) forever as his eternal destiny. When Lucifer was removed from heaven, his name became Satan, and was cast to the earth. In the account of the Fall in Gen 3, after which God offered the promise of deliverance through the atoning work of the LORD Jesus Christ on the cross implied in v. 15, we may observe the correlation between Satan’s sinful ambition to what he tempted Adam and Eve with, which eventually led the couple to sin against God and caused the entire humanity to be totally and hopelessly depraved and under the same condemnation that Lucifer has as a result. The correlation is clearly seen in Gen 3:5, when Satan, disguised as a serpent, said to Eve, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Here are the double lies being offered to Eve springing out of the same principle behind his botched coup attempt; first, that she would be like gods, and thus independent, able to rule over herself apart from God, and secondly, there is not one God, but many gods; each is sovereign over himself or herself.

From here, I would like to state the thesis of this article before expounding further:

1. That the doctrine of autonomous-self, or often referred to as “free-will”, whether it be “Christian” or non-Christian one, though may not appear explicitly, originates from the same spirit by which Lucifer rebelled against God, that is, the spirit of self-idolatry.

2. That the doctrine of autonomous-self is indeed a non-Christian doctrine because there is nowhere in the Bible that teaches such a doctrine and therefore, should be rejected by all true Christians.

I would like to first define what an autonomous self is. I would then attempt, by the use of the first thesis, refute the free-will Arminian argument to defend this false doctrine, particularly in regard to the Fall, salvation, and all the affairs of the world. Finally, I would close with the Biblical basis of my refutation with the exhortation given in the second thesis.

II. Definition of Autonomous Self

Throughout history, there are many who teach the doctrine of autonomous self, among whom is Pelagius. I would now quote from John Owen [1] on what Pelagianism teaches about the autonomous self:

“According to Pelagianism, God gives grace to all who hear the law and the gospel preached. Those who do this are persuaded to repent and believe by the promises of the gospel and the threatenings of the law. The things taught and commanded in the law and gospel are seen to be not only good in themselves, but so utterly reasonable that anyone would gladly receive them if they were not so prejudiced ( i.e., men can themselves respond favorably to the gospel preached by believing in the message without any regenerating work of the Holy Spirit), or deliberately chose to continue with their sinful life. Man has only to consider these promises of the gospel and threatenings of the law to remove these prejudices and so reform himself. When man believes the gospel and obeys it of his own free will and choice (again, no external divine influence at work to convince him of the truth of the gospel, on the contrary, this conviction comes out within himself), then he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit, enters into all the privileges of the New Testament, and has a right and title to all the promises concerning both the present and the future life. So say the Pelagians. Thus man converts himself, and the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit are both excluded. All that is needed is the ability to persuade him to repent of his sin and believe and obey the gospel.”

In other words, the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that men in both unregenerate and regenerate states is completely independent and capable of self-determination of what is good and bad for him (hence the term autonomous) and from which make decision without any external divine influence or swaying to a particular direction.

To understand what autonomous-self is more clearly, let us look at Sproul’s definition of autonomy [2]:

“To be autonomous means to be a law unto oneself. An autonomous creature would be answerable to no one. He would have no governor, least of all a sovereign governor. It is logically impossible to have a sovereign God existing at the same time as an autonomous creature. The two concepts are utterly incompatible. To think of their coexistence would be like imagining the meeting of an immovable object and an irresistible force. What would happen? If the object moved, then it could no longer be considered immovable. If it failed to move, then the irresistible force would no longer be irresistible.”

Then for the definition of autonomous self, I would borrow from David Wells [3], defining the autonomy generation as:

“…those who belonged in this outlook saw themselves as being at the center of life, as being responsible only to themselves, as having the sole hand in deciding what beliefs to hold and what behaviors to follow.”

And therefore, continuing to quote Wells [3]:

“… the self becomes the main form of reality and the pursuit of its rights and unique intuitions, even in the face of others, is what life is about.”

My comment to Prof. Well’s definition is this. Isn’t the autonomous-self then the essence of prosperity gospel, where Christ has been reduced to a lackey or a genie to serve us to accomplish our agenda whether that be family, or money, or career, or, self-healing, self-improvement or anything other than Christ himself? Some may say they don’t believe in prosperity gospel but believe in free-will in the autonomous sense. This, in my view, is an implicit endorsement of the prosperity gospel.

II. Refutation of the Arminian Argument of Autonomous Self

Now I desire to refute biblically a familiar argument in regard to God’s sovereignty in salvation and all events throughout the course of history. In addition, I would also attempt to show the spirit behind all these arguments tends to resemble that of Lucifer as written in Isaiah 14:13-14. Before I go on doing so, however, I would like to point out ‘the goal of the commandment is love’. I can understand new Christians who believe in autonomous self, because I was like that. I tend to think it is natural for new Christians to have such an understanding of how salvation and all the affairs in the world work. I acknowledge I need the humility to understand those who are slow to grasp the truth in the sovereignty of God over all things. The fact is the LORD had mercy on me to reveal what I consider a precious biblical truth of his sovereignty that I have come to love, embrace, and desire to defend with hopefully a holy zeal, holy motive, yet with humility as well in this article. And may the LORD grant the grace to change and transform hearts and minds into ones that acknowledge and submit joyfully under his supremacy over all things (Col 1:18).

The argument that I would like to refute (though there has been many more qualified pastors and theologians than me, past and present who have done this, but I would try to do it from hopefully a different point of view), is a common free-will Arminian / Pelagian argument which was the first Arminian article in their remonstrance brought by Johannes Uitenbogaard and Simon Episcopious in 1610, which was refuted by the Calvinists’ Counter Remonstrance at the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619, in regard to how salvation works as follows. This first article stated the following: “God’s foreknowledge, that is, divine election was conditiond on foreseen or foreknown faith”. In other words, it says “faith is the cause of election” the basis of which is for example in Rom 8:29, refers to God knowing in advance of who is going to believe by their own free will and who is not, and from there God elects them to be saved. Thus man’s faith existing apart from God’s will but from the man himself is the cause of God’s election. In other words, it all starts with man’s free will to choose to be saved. Men are the Alpha, the beginning, not God. Then based on each independent isolated individual’s decision to believe or to desire to be saved where God has nothing to do with because this comes out completely and independently from man and not God, God is obliged to save them because they have faith to believe. Here men call God to account and demand that because they initiated to believe the Gospel, God is required to save them. So God’s sovereignty consists in submitting himself to and making sure the wills of men are carried out. God is not free in ordaining anything because He is subject to the will of men that he values very much even more important and above himself. Here is the worst kind, the most blatant, the most arrogant, and the most blasphemous of man-centered doctrine that is nowhere taught in the Bible, and an example how the Scripture like Rom 8:29 is distorted to serve man’s needs or if I may borrow John Piper’s quote[4], the gospel has been abused for ‘psychological form of mind control’. I regard this Arminian stand on the free agency of man and God as the most self-centered among man-centered doctrines, even more man-centered than opentheism.

Opentheism at least admits the future is unknown, even God has no control over it and anybody could change it. The Arminian doctrine in regard to the free-will of men as we have discussed is worse than open-theism because it teaches the future is already known, at least in regard to salvation, who is saved and who is not, and who makes this decision before the foundations of the world is men. Then God responds to each individual decision either by saving or condemning. Here is the kind of abomination that I dread has been prevailing in the minds of many Christians, because this is how they were taught by man-centered, world-loving, money-loving preachers. Those who teach this doctrine usually insist that God is still sovereign and omnipotent. But I sense this is simply a futile attempt to cover up their self-centeredness and thus, self-idolatry. God, despite his omnipotence, has been domesticated to serve man’s needs. His omnipotence has become subordinate to man’s will and it is his to use for his benefit. Man makes the call first independently out of his own self-determination of good and bad. Then it is God’s turn to follow up on man’s actions and decisions, whether to clean them up if they are sinful, or to bless them if they are good.

As Mark Talbot says [5] (he explains it in the context of opentheism, but I believe it is applicable here as well) that the doctrine of autonomous self teaches that God values man’s free will so much that he is willing to pay any price. God is really good in cleaning things up to the point that the alternative plan B that he executes looks even better, more perfect than the botched plan A that man has frustrated. So in a way, the doctrine of autonomous self treats God like a lackey or a genie in a bottle whom man can stir as he pleases and wills. Everything God does is for the benefits of man, and here is man, the center of the universe and God’s idol. Therefore, men are not only the Alpha, the beginning, but also the Omega, the end of everything God does and the whole entire universe work for. This, I fear, may God forbid, is the desire behind those who embrace the doctrine of autonomous self which is nothing but the very ambition of Lucifer to be exalted above God (Isa 14:13-14) because the resemblance between the two is striking. It is all about desire for control, as Dave Wells pointed out behind autonomous self [6]:

“This preoccupation with the future is really about control. At least, it is about our attempts at controlling the future as it crests into the present by being able to position ourselves to avoid what is disagreeable and to capitalize on what is advantageous. Indeed, we even go further. We imagine that the future begins in our minds and we can actually create it.”

At this point, I would point to Scripture texts (that I also included somewhere else [7]) that I hope the LORD uses to show the fallacy of the doctrine of autonomous-self, to humble its proponents and exhort them to embrace the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of God over all things. While these texts tend to be self-explanatory in themselves but I shall attempt to expound a little on each:

– “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13). John says the decisive power to become the sons of God ( v.12), i.e., to be saved, does not come from man’s will power, but God’s (v.13). Therefore, contrary to what the first remonstrance article says that faith is the cause of election, John says election is the cause of faith. God initiates salvation, not men. Men are dead in their trepasses (Eph 2:1). Physically dead people do not and can not have any desire (inclination) and ability to eat, drink, work, because they are dead, their brain is dead, their heart is dead, their digestive system is dead, and there is no way for them to revive themselves. So also dead Lazarus was unable to revive himself until Jesus called him and infused life to his body to revive him. (John 11). Lazarus did not revive himself. Jesus did. And thus Lazarus couldn’t brag he was alive because of his free will to be alive. Likewise, it is impossible for spiritually dead people to have any desire for God. Their heart is ‘desperately’ or ‘hopelessly’ wicked as Jer 17:9 says. St. Paul affirms the total depravity of humanity apart unless God changes this heart of stone with the heart of flesh (Ez 36:26-27) because “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law. Nor can it do so.” (Rom 8:7). Notice the last part that says “Nor can it do so.” So let us not brag that we have the free will to be christians or we in our sovereignty “decided” to be christians. Let us not think of ourselves more highly than we should (Rom 12:3) but with sober judgment, I’d say, of who we were, and what we are now, and who God is. Do not rob God of something He did and claim we did it. The faith, the willingness to believe, to embrace Christ as our treasure, our LORD does not come from our self-determination, but He purchased it on the cross.

– “All the plans of the LORD stands firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (Psalm 33:11). God has written down the course of history from the beginning to the end. All his plans will happen, stand firm forever. Everything originates from Christ and returning to Christ, and the details for everything on its way returning to him is fixed and unchangeable (see also Heb 1:2-3, Rom 11:36). God does not make mistakes. God is not a God who is good in cleaning up mess created by men and coming up with plan B. Nobody can frustrate nor thwart nor prevent God from doing anything he wants, Dan 4:35, “All the people of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand, or say to him, ‘What have you done?'”

– “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16) God has written down not only the entire course of history before the foundations of the world, but also the scenario of each individual who ever lives, past present and future. This is good for believers for two reasons (but may cause free-willers to feel dejected because they don’t desire God to make the call for them, they desire to make the call themselves). First, it teaches humility that you and I are creatures and God is God. We have absolutely no right over ourselves because we don’t own ourselves, God does. Secondly, this is good news because God knows you and me better than we know ourselves. Therefore whatever plans he has for us can be guaranteed to be the most absolute best for our good and the magnifying his name first and most importantly (see Rom 8:28).

– “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.” (Isa 46:10-11). God is free to do anything he wants according to the pleasure of his will. His decision making is not constrained by anything, not by the will of men, not by the wills of angels, not by the will of the devil. He is absolutely free in making any calls. Isn’t this what it means to be God? If God has to submit beforehand in his foreknowledge to men’s decision to be saved or not to be saved, then men are gods, and God is their lackey.

A question then arises, “How, despite crystal clear words from the apostle that believers are slaves of Christ (e.g., Rom 6:18,22), can there be such an arrogant doctrine as the autonomous self in Christian churches?” The answer is because the LORD Jesus Christ is an infinitely good, gracious, merciful, patient, loving Master. He is not a hard Master at all. Men, seizing this opportunity arising from their deep-rooted corruption inherited from the Fall, reinforced by the temptation of the old serpent, abuse the kindness of Christ for their own glory. Men, out of their odious mind resulting from the stench infected to them from the Fall, distort the grace of the Savior to serve their own vanity, and so distort the message of the gospel, that is the pursue of God’s (not men’s) glory in salvation through Christ. Since Christ is so patient, then it is their opportunity to question him, to hold him accountable to them, and thus, what John Piper pointed out [8], that men placing themselves on the bench and putting God in the dock, instead of the other way around (he actually quoted this from C.S. Lewis). I sense free-willers would feel uncomfortable in hearing what God’s goal is in everything he does in Eph 1:5-6, “… he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasures and will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” that God saves men not because he makes so much of them, but for the praise of his glorious grace, that his name may be magnified, cherished, worshipped for his great mercy upon mankind, “…that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Rom 15:9). The only way to cure this discomfort is to acknowledge and repent of the pride and the self-idolatrous spirit behind the doctrine of autonomous self, renounce it, and embrace the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God who causes all things to work together for the good of those who love him, and who have been called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called, those he called he also justified, and those he justified, he also glorified. Amen.

References
1. J. Owen, “The Holy Spirit,” The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998, p. 76-77.

2. R.C. Sproul, “Chosen by God,” Tyndale House Publishers, October 1986, Ch. 3, p.?

3. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 234, 153.

4. J. Piper, “Woe to Those who Trample the Son of God,” Desiring God Ministries (audio), April 13, 1997, http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…he_Son_of_God/

5. M. Talbot, “All the Good that is Ours in Christ: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do Us,” Desiring God National Conference, Minneapolis, MN, October 7-9, 2005.

6. D. F. Wells, “Above All Earthly Pow’rs: Christ in a Postmodern World,” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006, p. 239.

7. A. Sutono, “The Defense for the Sovereignty of God in the Fall of Man,” Nov 25, 2006.

8. J. Piper, “Pastoral Thoughts on the Doctrine of Election,” Desiring God Ministries, Nov 30, 2003, ttp://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceL…e_of_Election/

ttp://www.christianchatforum.com/articles/elect.shtml

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Healing the economy means going beyond ‘What’s in it for me?’
By Douglas Todd 01-10-2009

Healing the battered economy means going beyond the ‘self’; ‘What’s in it for me?’ is not an attitude that will work in the times we face

Many Pentecostal Christians have been among the hardest-hit victims of the economic meltdown in North America.

“Victims” might not be the best word to describe their fate, though. Followers of the popular “Prosperity gospel” suffered because of their own desperation, naivete and uncontrolled desire.

Prosperity gospel adherents have put too much stock in certain Pentecostal leaders in the United States and Canada who preach that God will provide worldly wealth if you just give your soul to Jesus Christ and your donation to the church.

The most prominent proponent of this theology of cars, boats and houses is Joel Osteen, author of Your Best Life Now.

With virtually no assets, many financially struggling Christians attracted to the Prosperity gospel of Osteen and others were eager to jump at the subprime loans offered by sleazy brokers.

Prominent Pentecostals have admitted that many followers believed God was miraculously answering their prayers when a bank gave them a loan they couldn’t afford. However, it’s not only adherents of the Prosperity gospel who have spiritual and moral lessons to draw from the financial collapse. After all, they haven’t been alone in their struggles.

The larger spiritual themes behind this financial meltdown are those of too much blind optimism about the financial system, too much faith in leaders and too much unacknowledged self-interest.

Which brings us to greed.

There can be benefits from modest amounts of each of the Seven Deadly Sins: anger, lust, envy, sloth, pride, gluttony and greed.

While there is something to be said for moderate self-interest fuelling our lives and the economy, greed has careened beyond control on many economic fronts. In the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko was not much of an exaggeration of a real-life financier when he baldly preached, “Greed is good!”

Rebecca Blank, senior economic analyst for the Brookings Institute and co-author of Is the Market Moral?, recently said: “Greed is good to most economists. It’s greed that makes people work harder, be more productive, and helps the economy grow. Greed has certain economic advantages. It’s hard for an economist not to say that.

“But greed is clearly partially responsible for where we are right now. There’s a level beyond which greed can go too far, and . . . being greedy for more goods and to make another buck can make me stop paying attention to the effects of my action on you. That is when greed clearly becomes sinful — even, I think, in economics.”

Moral concerns about our over-avaricious attitudes have even been expressed recently by high-profile evangelical Christian leaders such as Chuck Colson (Richard Nixon’s former right-hand man), who has made a career of praising Jesus Christ in the same breath as free enterprise. Like theologian Michael Novak, Colson believes western democratic capitalism is like a three-legged stool, resting on political freedom, economic freedom and moral restraint. “Take away moral restraint and the stool collapses.”

But Colson’s solution — simply to talk more about morality in churches and elsewhere and to wish for greater moral behaviour — won’t make the economic system more stable or fair. That is what was uncovered through a revealing investigation of the moral behaviour of evangelical leaders by scholar Michael Lindsay, author of Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite.

Lindsay found precious few evangelical executives were “distinguishing themselves from their secular peers” by taking salaries capped, for instance, at a ratio between the highest- and lowest-paid employees of 20:1. Most tried to justify astonishingly luxurious salaries.

Just as the Communist Soviet Union fell apart because it wasn’t realistic to expect everyone to embrace the principle of equality, the western capitalist system cannot sustain itself just by hoping everyone will embrace justice.

Without regulations to enforce society’s moral ideals, the scoundrels prevail. Now nearly all of us are suffering because we were drawn, knowingly and unknowingly, into their unrestricted avarice.

As Aristotle said, “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”

Spiritual insight into the economic collapse comes from Martin Marty, of the University of Chicago Divinity School, one of the most distinguished religious historians in North America.

Marty believes the economic meltdown grew out of a growing global obsession with the “self.” He points to the way many economists talk about how the “spreading disease” in the global economy will “self-heal.” But Marty believes the modern free world is fixated on terms such as “self-generating,” “self-developing” and “self-correcting.” It’s the kind of thinking that has led many to over-optimistically advocate for an “unfettered” and “unregulated” market that never impinges on the supremacy of the “self.”

But there are crucial limits to the “self.”

Marty suggests Americans (and, I’d add, many Canadians) haven’t been willing to face the dark, shadow aspects of an economic system and foreign policy that focused on serving only the “self” (including that of the nation).

Just as the Iraq war has proved disastrous on human and financial fronts, Marty says the battered economy is making us look at all aspects of what happens when “the self” is glorified as absolute.

“We are well aware of our own virtue, knowledge, power and security, and these are real enough to be celebrated,” he writes.

“But we did not recognize their undersides: vice, ignorance, weakness and insecurity, which overtook us.”

As a Lutheran, Marty responds to the financial crisis with a secular translation of the “body of Christ” theme, which teaches us to reflect on how “we are members one of another.”

Instead of “self-healing,” he wisely suggests the western economic system needs “mutual” healing.

To use the language of other traditions, a Buddhist might say we need economic solutions that recognize we are all interconnected.

In secular terms, the late American political philosopher John Rawls would teach that we need economic policies beneficial to us all, no matter where we find ourselves on the financial ladder.

The simplest way to put one of the spiritual lessons of the economic collapse, however, is simply to make it clear that creating a healthy society has to go much further than asking, “What’s in it for me?”

dtodd@vancouversun.com

http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/thesearch/archive/2009/01/10/healing-the-battered-economy-means-going-beyond-the-self-what-s-in-it-for-me-is-not-an-attitude-that-will-work-in-the-times-we-face.aspx

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Does God Want You To Be Rich?

A growing number of Protestant evangelists raise a joyful Yes! But the idea is poison to other, more mainstream pastors. By DAVID VAN BIEMA, JEFF CHU Posted Sunday, Sep. 10, 2006

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533448,00.html

When George Adams lost his job at an Ohio tile factory last October, the most practical thing he did, he thinks, was go to a new church, even though he had to move his wife and four preteen boys to Conroe, a suburb of Houston, to do it. Conroe, you see, is not far from Lakewood, the home church of megapastor and best-selling author Joel Osteen.

Osteen’s relentlessly upbeat television sermons had helped Adams, 49, get through the hard times, and now Adams was expecting the smiling, Texas-twanged 43-year-old to help boost him back toward success. And Osteen did. Inspired by the preacher’s insistence that one of God’s top priorities is to shower blessings on Christians in this lifetime–and by the corollary assumption that one of the worst things a person can do is to expect anything less–Adams marched into Gullo Ford in Conroe looking for work. He didn’t have entry-level aspirations: “God has showed me that he doesn’t want me to be a run-of-the-mill person,” he explains. He demanded to know what the dealership’s top salesmen made–and got the job. Banishing all doubt–“You can’t sell a $40,000-to-$50,000 car with menial thoughts”–Adams took four days to retail his first vehicle, a Ford F-150 Lariat with leather interior. He knew that many fellow salesmen don’t notch their first score until their second week. “Right now, I’m above average!” he exclaims. “It’s a new day God has given me! I’m on my way to a six-figure income!” The sales commission will help with this month’s rent, but Adams hates renting. Once that six-figure income has been rolling in for a while, he will buy his dream house: “Twenty-five acres,” he says. “And three bedrooms. We’re going to have a schoolhouse (his children are home schooled). We want horses and ponies for the boys, so a horse barn. And a pond. And maybe some cattle.”

“I’m dreaming big–because all of heaven is dreaming big,” Adams continues. “Jesus died for our sins. That was the best gift God could give us,” he says. “But we have something else. Because I want to follow Jesus and do what he ordained, God wants to support us. It’s Joel Osteen’s ministry that told me. Why would an awesome and mighty God want anything less for his children?”

In three of the Gospels, Jesus warns that each of his disciples may have to “deny himself” and even “take up his Cross.” In support of this alarming prediction, he forcefully contrasts the fleeting pleasures of today with the promise of eternity: “For what profit is it to a man,” he asks, “if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” It is one of the New Testament’s hardest teachings, yet generations of churchgoers have understood that being Christian, on some level, means being ready to sacrifice–money, autonomy or even their lives.

But for a growing number of Christians like George Adams, the question is better restated, “Why not gain the whole world plus my soul?” For several decades, a philosophy has been percolating in the 10 million–strong Pentecostal wing of Christianity that seems to turn the Gospels’ passage on its head: certainly, it allows, Christians should keep one eye on heaven. But the new good news is that God doesn’t want us to wait. Known (or vilified) under a variety of names–Word of Faith, Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It, Prosperity Theology–its emphasis is on God’s promised generosity in this life and the ability of believers to claim it for themselves. In a nutshell, it suggests that a God who loves you does not want you to be broke. Its signature verse could be John 10: 10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In a TIME poll, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be prosperous. And 31%–a far higher percentage than there are Pentecostals in America–agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.

“Prosperity” first blazed to public attention as the driveshaft in the moneymaking machine that was 1980s televangelism and faded from mainstream view with the Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals. But now, after some key modifications (which have inspired some to redub it Prosperity Lite), it has not only recovered but is booming. Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three–Osteen’s Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar’s World Changers near Atlanta–are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits (although Jakes’ ministry has many more facets). While they don’t exclusively teach that God’s riches want to be in believers’ wallets, it is a key part of their doctrine. And propelled by Osteen’s 4 million–selling book, Your Best Life Now, the belief has swept beyond its Pentecostal base into more buttoned-down evangelical churches, and even into congregations in the more liberal Mainline. It is taught in hundreds of non-Pentecostal Bible studies. One Pennsylvania Lutheran pastor even made it the basis for a sermon series for Lent, when Christians usually meditate on why Jesus was having His Worst Life Then. Says the Rev. Chappell Temple, a Methodist minister with the dubious distinction of pastoring Houston’s other Lakewood Church (Lakewood United Methodist), an hour north of Osteen’s: “Prosperity Lite is everywhere in Christian culture. Go into any Christian bookstore, and see what they’re offering.”

The movement’s renaissance has infuriated a number of prominent pastors, theologians and commentators. Fellow megapastor Rick Warren, whose book The Purpose Driven Life has outsold Osteen’s by a ratio of 7 to 1, finds the very basis of Prosperity laughable. “This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?”, he snorts. “There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”

The brickbats–both theological and practical (who really gets rich from this?)–come especially thick from Evangelicals like Warren. Evangelicalism is more prominent and influential than ever before. Yet the movement, which has never had a robust theology of money, finds an aggressive philosophy advancing within its ranks that many of its leaders regard as simplistic, possibly heretical and certainly embarrassing.

Prosperity’s defenders claim to be able to match their critics chapter and verse. They caution against broad-brushing a wide spectrum that ranges from pastors who crassly solicit sky’s-the-limit financial offerings from their congregations to those whose services tend more toward God-fueled self-help. Advocates note Prosperity’s racial diversity–a welcome exception to the American norm–and point out that some Prosperity churches engage in significant charity. And they see in it a happy corrective for Christians who are more used to being chastened for their sins than celebrated as God’s children. “Who would want to get in on something where you’re miserable, poor, broke and ugly and you just have to muddle through until you get to heaven?” asks Joyce Meyer, a popular television preacher and author often lumped in the Prosperity Lite camp. “I believe God wants to give us nice things.” If nothing else, Meyer and other new-breed preachers broach a neglected topic that should really be a staple of Sunday messages: Does God want you to be rich?

As with almost any important religious question, the first response of most Christians (especially Protestants) is to ask how Scripture treats the topic. But Scripture is not definitive when it comes to faith and income. Deuteronomy commands believers to “remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth”, and the rest of the Old Testament is dotted with celebrations of God’s bestowal of the good life. On at least one occasion–the so-called parable of the talents (a type of coin)–Jesus holds up savvy business practice (investing rather than saving) as a metaphor for spiritual practice. Yet he spent far more time among the poor than the rich, and a majority of scholars quote two of his most direct comments on wealth: the passage in the Sermon on the Mount in which he warns, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth … but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”; and his encounter with the “rich young ruler” who cannot bring himself to part with his money, after which Jesus famously comments, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Both statements can be read as more nuanced than they at first may seem. In each case it is not wealth itself that disqualifies but the inability to understand its relative worthlessness compared with the riches of heaven. The same thing applies to Paul’s famous line, “Money is the root of all evil,” in his first letter to Timothy. The actual quote is, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

So the Bible leaves plenty of room for a discussion on the role, positive or negative, that money should play in the lives of believers. But it’s not a discussion that many pastors are willing to have. “Jesus’ words about money don’t make us very comfortable, and people don’t want to hear about it,” notes Collin Hansen, an editor at the evangelical monthly Christianity Today. Pastors are happy to discuss from the pulpit hot-button topics like sex and even politics. But the relative absence of sermons about money–which the Bible mentions several thousand times–is one of the more stunning omissions in American religion, especially among its white middle-class precincts. Princeton University sociologist Robert Wuthnow says much of the U.S. church “talks about giving but does not talk about the broader financial concerns people have, or the pressures at work. There has long been a taboo on talking candidly about money.”

In addition to personal finances, a lot of evangelical churches have also avoided any pulpit talk about social inequality. When conservative Christianity split from the Mainline in the early 20th century, the latter pursued their commitment to the “social gospel” by working on poverty and other causes such as civil rights and the Vietnam-era peace movement. Evangelicals went the other way: they largely concentrated on issues of individual piety. “We took on personal salvation–we need our sins redeemed, and we need our Saviour,” says Warren. But “some people tended to go too individualistic, and justice and righteousness issues were overlooked.”

A recent Sunday at Lakewood gives some idea of the emphasis on worldly gain that disturbs Warren. Several hundred stage lights flash on, and Osteen, his gigawatt smile matching them, strides onto the stage of what used to be the Compaq Center sports arena but is now his church. “Let’s just celebrate the goodness of the Lord!” Osteen yells. His wife Victoria says, “Our Daddy God is the strongest! He’s the mightiest!”

And so it goes, before 14,000 attendees, a nonstop declaration of God’s love and his intent to show it in the here and now, sometimes verging on the language of an annual report. During prayer, Osteen thanks God for “your unprecedented favor. We believe that 2006 will be our best year so far. We declare it by faith.” Today’s sermon is about how gratitude can “save a marriage, save your job [and] get you a promotion.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever preached a sermon about money,” he says a few hours later. He and Victoria meet with TIME in their pastoral suite, once the Houston Rockets’ locker and shower area but now a zone of overstuffed sofas and imposing oak bookcases. “Does God want us to be rich?” he asks. “When I hear that word rich, I think people say, ‘Well, he’s preaching that everybody’s going to be a millionaire.’ I don’t think that’s it.” Rather, he explains, “I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don’t think I’d say God wants us to be rich. It’s all relative, isn’t it?” The room’s warm lamplight reflects softly off his crocodile shoes.

Osteen is a second-generation Prosperity teacher. His father John Osteen started out Baptist but in 1959 withdrew from that fellowship to found a church in one of Houston’s poorer neighborhoods and explore a new philosophy developing among Pentecostals. If the rest of Protestantism ignored finances, Prosperity placed them center stage, marrying Pentecostalism’s ebullient notion of God’s gifts with an older tradition that stressed the power of positive thinking. Practically, it emphasized hard work and good home economics. But the real heat was in its spiritual premise: that if a believer could establish, through word and deed (usually donation), that he or she was “in Jesus Christ,” then Jesus’ father would respond with paternal gifts of health and wealth in this life. A favorite verse is from Malachi: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse … and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘If I will not for you open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.'” (See boxes.)

It is a peculiarly American theology but turbocharged. If Puritanism valued wealth and Benjamin Franklin wrote about doing well by doing good, hard-core Prosperity doctrine, still extremely popular in the hands of pastors like Atlanta megachurch minister Creflo Dollar, reads those Bible verses as a spiritual contract. God will pay back a multiple (often a hundredfold) on offerings by the congregation. “Poor people like Prosperity,” says Stephen Prothero, chairman of the religion department at Boston University. “They hear it as aspirant. They hear, ‘You can make it too–buy a car, get a job, get wealthy.’ It can function as a form of liberation.” It can also be exploitative. Outsiders, observes Milmon Harrison of the University of California at Davis, author of the book Righteous Riches, often see it as “another form of the church abusing people so ministers could make money.”

In the past decade, however, the new generation of preachers, like Osteen, Meyer and Houston’s Methodist megapastor Kirbyjon Caldwell, who gave the benediction at both of George W. Bush’s Inaugurals, have repackaged the doctrine. Gone are the divine profit-to-earnings ratios, the requests for offerings far above a normal 10% tithe (although many of the new breed continue to insist that congregants tithe on their pretax rather than their net income). What remains is a materialism framed in a kind of Tony Robbins positivism. No one exemplifies this better than Osteen, who ran his father’s television-production department until John died in 1999. “Joel has learned from his dad, but he has toned it back and tapped into basic, everyday folks’ ways of talking,” says Ben Phillips, a theology professor at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. That language is reflected in Your Best Life Now, an extraordinarily accessible exhortation to this-world empowerment through God. “To live your best life now,” it opens, to see “your business taking off. See your marriage restored. See your family prospering. See your dreams come to pass …” you must “start looking at life through eyes of faith.” Jesus is front and center but not his Crucifixion, Resurrection or Atonement. There are chapters on overcoming trauma and a late chapter on emulating God’s generosity. (And indeed, Osteen’s church gave more than $1 million in relief money after Hurricane Katrina.) But there are many more illustrations of how the Prosperity doctrine has produced personal gain, most memorably, perhaps, for the Osteen family: how Victoria’s “speaking words of faith and victory” eventually brought the couple their dream house; how Joel discerned God’s favor in being bumped from economy to business class.

Confronting such stories, certain more doctrinally traditional Christians go ballistic. Last March, Ben Witherington, an influential evangelical theologian at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, thundered that “we need to renounce the false gospel of wealth and health–it is a disease of our American culture; it is not a solution or answer to life’s problems.” Respected blogger Michael Spencer–known as the Internet Monk–asked, “How many young people are going to be pointed to Osteen as a true shepherd of Jesus Christ? He’s not. He’s not one of us.” Osteen is an irresistible target for experts from right to left on the Christian spectrum who–beyond worrying that he is living too high or inflating the hopes of people with real money problems–think he is dragging people down with a heavy interlocked chain of theological and ethical errors that could amount to heresy.

Most start out by saying that Osteen and his ilk have it “half right”: that God’s goodness is biblical, as is the idea that he means us to enjoy the material world. But while Prosperity claims to be celebrating that goodness, the critics see it as treating God as a celestial ATM. “God becomes a means to an end, not the end in himself,” says Southwestern Baptist’s Phillips. Others are more upset about what it de-emphasizes. “[Prosperity] wants the positive but not the negative,” says another Southern Baptist, Alan Branch of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo. “Problem is, we live on this side of Eden. We’re fallen.” That is, Prosperity soft-pedals the consequences of Adam’s fall–sin, pain and death–and their New Testament antidote: Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and the importance of repentance. And social liberals express a related frustration that preachers like Osteen show little interest in battling the ills of society at large. Perhaps appropriately so, since, as Prosperity scholar Harrison explains, “philosophically, their main way of helping the poor is encouraging people not to be one of them.”

Most unnerving for Osteen’s critics is the suspicion that they are fighting not just one idiosyncratic misreading of the gospel but something more daunting: the latest lurch in Protestantism’s ongoing descent into full-blown American materialism. After the eclipse of Calvinist Puritanism, whose respect for money was counterbalanced by a horror of worldliness, much of Protestantism quietly adopted the idea that “you don’t have to give up the American Dream. You just see it as a sign of God’s blessing,” says Edith Blumhofer, director of Wheaton College’s Center for the Study of American Evangelicals. Indeed, a last-gasp resistance to this embrace of wealth and comfort can be observed in the current evangelical brawl over whether comfortable megachurches (like Osteen’s and Warren’s) with pumped-up day-care centers and high-tech amenities represent a slide from glorifying an all-powerful God to asking what custom color you would prefer he paint your pews. “The tragedy is that Christianity has become a yes-man for the culture,” says Boston University’s Prothero.

Non-prosperity parties from both conservative and more progressive evangelical camps recently have been trying to reverse the trend. Eastern University professor Ron Sider’s book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, a fringe classic after its publication in 1977, is selling far more copies now, and some young people are even acting on its rather radical prescriptions: a sprinkling of Protestant groups known loosely as the New Monastics is experimenting with the kind of communal living among the poor that had previously been the province of Catholic orders. Jim Wallis, longtime leader of one such community in Washington and the editor of Sojourners magazine, has achieved immense exposure lately with his pleas that Evangelicals engage in more political activism on behalf of the poor.

And then there is Warren himself, who by virtue of his energy, hypereloquence and example (he’s working in Rwanda with government, business and church sectors) has become a spokesman for church activism. “The church is the largest network in the world,” he says. “If you have 2.3 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ, that’s bigger than China.”

And despite Warren’s disdain for Prosperity’s theological claims, some Prosperity churches have become players in the very faith-based antipoverty world he inhabits, even while maintaining their distinctive theology. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who pastors Windsor Village, the largest (15,000) United Methodist church in the country, can sound as Prosperity as the next pastor: “Jesus did not die and get up off the Cross so we could live lives full of despair and disappointment,” he says. He quotes the “abundant life” verse with all earnestness, even giving it a real estate gloss: “It is unscriptural not to own land,” he announces. But he’s doing more than talk about it. He recently oversaw the building of Corinthian Pointe, a 452-unit affordable-housing project that he claims is the largest residential subdivision ever built by a nonprofit. Most of its inhabitants, he says, are not members of his church.

Caldwell knows that prosperity is a loaded term in evangelical circles. But he insists that “it depends on how you define prosperity. I am not a proponent of saying the Lord’s name three times, clicking your heels and then you get what you ask for. But you cannot give what you do not have. We are fighting what we call the social demons. If I am going to help someone, I am going to have to have something with which to help.”

Caldwell knows that the theology behind this preacherly rhetoric will never be acceptable to Warren or Sider or Witherington. But the man they all follow said, “By their fruits you will know them,” and for some, Corinthian Pointe is a very convincing sort of fruit. Hard-line Prosperity theology may always seem alien to those with enough money to imagine making more without engaging God in a kind of spiritual quid pro quo. And Osteen’s version, while it abandons part of that magical thinking, may strike some as self-centered rather than God centered. But American Protestantism is a dynamic faith. Caldwell’s version reminds us that there is no reason a giving God could not invest even an awkward and needy creed with a mature and generous heart. If God does want us to be rich in this life, no doubt it’s this richness in spirit that he is most eager for us to acquire.

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Did The Prosperity Gospel Play A Role In Suprime Crisis?
Oct.03, 2008 in Commentary, Economy
According to this author, the answer is “Yes”.

Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York state, “The pastor’s not gonna say ‘go down to Wachovia and get a loan’ but I have heard, ‘even if you have a poor credit rating God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house, or that car or that apartment.’” (more…)

When I read the title of this article, admittedly I dismissed it as far-reaching speculation. But after reading it and taking the time to reflect upon my own experiences in the church, I think the author is on to something.

For starters, I think that there is enough blame to go around–STARTING ON MAIN STREET.

My Atlanta Experience

I remember how pastors would tell folks about how the Lord wanted them to move into home ownership–all while steering them to certain brokers and banks. I remember saying to myself “folks are getting broke off over this and the Lord has nothing to do with it. This is just a plain ol’ hustle.” Brokers would be publicly acknowledged in front of the congregation as they would convince the church that all of this was just his/her way of “giving back to the Lord”. No! He was giving back to the pastor as a way of thanking him for sending the business. Again, the Lord had NUTTIN to do with this arrangement. I saw all of this during the early stages of the housing boom.

My wife and I were part of a megachurch where the pastor made it a priority to move all the renters in his congregation into home ownership. He tied the whole thing into how God moved Israel into the promise land. While I agreed with the pastor that far too many of us have been renting too long, the huge influx of moving folks with bad credit into McMansions had me a bit nervous. This took place right at the time we were preparing to move out of state.

All of a sudden, getting approved for a loan with bad credit was seen as a miracle from God–all because of those generous faith offerings folks were told to give earlier.

“I told the Lawd ‘but my credit is too messed up to get a house’. Then I heard pastor preach about taking a step of faith last Sunday. Don’t you know I applied for the loan and now I am the proud owner of a 5 bedroom house…”.

These types of ‘testimonies’ were common in the churches I attended back when the market was getting hot.

I am of the opinion that any pastor who encouraged parishioners to commit to predatory-type loans while cloaking the whole thing as “God’s will for their lives” should be thrown out of office. Part of me is telling me to name names of pastors who I know engaged in this practice. I’ll chill with that idea for now.

Again, I must stress that churches that participated in peddling these loans do share A PART of the blame.

http://www.blackinformant.com/2008/10/03/did-the-prosperity-gospel-play-a-role-in-suprime-crisis

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Prosperity Gospel on Skid Row
Difficulties of high-profile pastors may reorient movement—or reinforce it.
Bobby Ross Jr. | posted 1/15/2009 09:40AM

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/february/2.12.html

Some of the high-flying icons of the prosperity gospel—the belief that God rewards signs of faith with wealth, health, and happiness—have run into financial turbulence.

Not all of their troubles can be blamed on the nation’s economic crisis, say critics of the name-it-and-claim-it theology found in some charismatic churches.

“I believe the charismatic movement, of which I am a part, is in the midst of a dramatic overhaul,” said J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine. “God is shaking us.” Grady predicts the movement will look much different in a few years as it refocuses on evangelism and overcoming what he calls the distraction of “materialism, flashy self-promotion, and foolish carnality.” But Scott Thumma, a Hartford Seminary sociologist who studies megachurches, is not so certain.

“Most clergy who preach a prosperity gospel would interpret for their congregation any conflict, scrutiny, or questioning as an attack of the Devil and proof that they are following God,” he said.

Among recent developments:

• In Fort Worth, Texas, a review board ruled December 7 that Kenneth Copeland Ministries’ $3.6 million jet did not have tax-exempt status. The ruling came after the ministry, whose 1,500-acre campus includes a $6 million church-owned lakefront mansion, refused to release the salaries of Copeland, his wife, and others.

• In suburban Atlanta, Georgia, a sheriff’s deputy served an eviction notice November 14 at Bishop Thomas Weeks III’s Global Destiny Church. Court documents indicate the bishop, the ex-husband of televangelist Juanita Bynum, owed half a million dollars in back rent. The church has lost roughly half of its 3,400 members since Weeks and Bynum’s 2007 fight in a hotel parking lot, in which Weeks was accused of pushing, choking, and beating his then-wife.

• In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church—which once attracted 23,000 worshipers—has shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 they were divorcing. The church faces an uncertain future after the Evangelical Christian Credit Union began foreclosure proceedings November 4 and demanded repayment of a $12 million loan on the church’s property.

• In suburban Minneapolis on November 18, Living Word Christian Center pastor Mac Hammond won the first stage of a court battle with the Internal Revenue Service to keep his salary private. Yet in 2008, he was forced to put his private jet up for sale and cut Living Word’s hour-long television show in half to save money amid falling contributions.
Meanwhile, Copeland and the Whites are among six televangelists whose large organizations have been targeted in a Senate Finance Committee investigation into allegations of questionable spending and lax financial accountability. All six preach some form of the prosperity gospel.

Could followers of the prosperity gospel—encouraged by pastors to “sow a seed” of faith by spending money, often in the form of a donation to the pastors’ ministries—be turned off by the recent turmoil?

Craig Blomberg, author of a 2001 study of prosperity theology, said he expects the movement to “take a small hit among those who recognize that it can’t deliver on what it promises.”

But many followers could view the financial difficulties as consequences for sin and personal failings—from Weeks’s assault conviction to the Whites’ divorce—and determine to try that much harder to please God and prosper themselves, he suggested.

“Some may well interpret this as judgment on the leaders who have abused their positions or proved immoral in other respects,” said Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary. “And many may simply assume this is the time to call others and themselves to an even truer faith so that the ‘system will work’ as it is supposed to in their minds.”

In Grady’s view, the notion that “God blesses us so we can be a blessing” is biblical. What is needed, he believes, is a shift to a more selfless movement where people “realize that God wants to bless us so that we can feed the poor, lift up the broken, and transform society.

“We need that kind of prosperity,” he said, “and I think that is where things are going.”

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Is the Prosperity Gospel Financial Heresy?
By Mr. ToughMoneyLove | October 5, 2008

Mr. ToughMoneyLove tends to avoid mixing religion and personal finance for a variety of reasons. However, I am going to make a very brief exception to that policy this Sunday.

This week Time ran a story on the possible role of the “prosperity gospel” in the sub-prime mortgage mess that has played a significant role in the current economic crisis. I certainly don’t agree with the premise that God should be blamed for what has happened. But the article makes an interesting anecdotal review of how believers in the prosperity gospel could be led to accept that divine intervention would prevail over their lack of financial resources. According to the prosperity preacher, that belief is enough to put the believer in a home he or she cannot afford. I think we can all agree that there is no logic to that belief. On the other hand, religion is based on faith, not logic.

I submit that are two hard truth takeaways from this story. First, the “prosperity gospel” is really intended to bring economic prosperity to those who preach it, not to those who listen to it. Second, an all too common rationalization offered by broke people when they make yet another discretionary purchase is that they “deserve” that car or gadget or vacation. The prosperity gospel reinforces that misguided rationalization and gives it another dimension. Just as I believe that poor people are not being punished by God, I also believe that wealth on earth is not bestowed based on spiritual merit.

What do you think about the prosperity gospel as a contributor to current economic conditions?

http://toughmoneylove.com/2008/10/05/is-the-prosperity-gospel-financial-heresy/

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Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess
By David Van Biema Friday, Oct. 03, 2008

TIME.com

Has the so-called Prosperity gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California at Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God will “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, dangerous expression during the subprime-lending boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Others think he may be right. Says Anthea Butler, an expert in Pentecostalism at the University of Rochester in New York: “The pastor’s not gonna say, ‘Go down to Wachovia and get a loan,’ but I have heard, ‘Even if you have a poor credit rating, God can still bless you — if you put some faith out there [that is, make a big donation to the church], you’ll get that house or that car or that apartment.’ ” Adds J. Lee Grady, editor of the magazine Charisma: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘If you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.” If so, the situation offers a look at how a native-born faith built partially on American economic optimism entered into a toxic symbiosis with a pathological market.

Although a type of Pentecostalism, Prosperity theology adds a distinctive layer of supernatural positive thinking. Adherents will reap rewards if they prove their faith to God by contributing heavily to their churches, remaining mentally and verbally upbeat and concentrating on divine promises of worldly bounty supposedly strewn throughout the Bible. Critics call it a thinly disguised pastor-enrichment scam. Other experts, like Walton, note that for all its faults, the theology can empower people who have been taught to see themselves as financially or even culturally useless to feel they are “worthy of having more and doing more and being more.” In some cases the philosophy has matured with its practitioners, encouraging good financial habits and entrepreneurship.

But Walton suggests that a decade’s worth of ever easier credit acted like a drug in Prosperity’s bloodstream. “The economic boom ’90s and financial overextensions of the new millennium contributed to the success of the Prosperity message,” he wrote recently on his personal blog as well as on the website Religion Dispatches. And not positively. “Narratives of how ‘God blessed me with my first house despite my credit’ were common. Sermons declaring ‘It’s your season to overflow’ supplanted messages of economic sobriety,” and “little attention was paid to … the dangers of using one’s home equity as an ATM to subsidize cars, clothes and vacations.”

With the bubble burst, Walton and Butler assume that Prosperity congregants have taken a disproportionate hit, and they are curious as to how their churches will respond. Butler thinks some of the flashier ministries will shrink along with their congregants’ fortunes. Says Walton: “You would think that the current economic conditions would undercut their theology.” But he predicts they will persevere, since God’s earthly largesse is just as attractive when one is behind the economic eight ball.

A recent publicly posted testimony by a congregant at the Brownsville Assembly of God, near Pensacola, Fla., seems to confirm his intuition. Brownsville is not even a classic Prosperity congregation — it relies more on the anointing of its pastors than on Scriptural promises of God. But the believer’s note to his minister illustrates how magical thinking can prevail even after the mortgage blade has dropped. “Last Sunday,” it read, “You said if anyone needed a miracle to come up. So I did. I was receiving foreclosure papers, so I asked you to anoint a picture of my home and you did and your wife joined with you in prayer as I cried. I went home feeling something good was going to happen. On Friday the 5th of September I got a phone call from my mortgage company and they came up with a new payment for the next 3 months of only $200. My mortgage is usually $1,020. Praise God for his Mercy & Grace.”

And pray that the credit market doesn’t tighten any further.

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1847053,00.html?cnn=yes

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Understanding Word-Faith Teaching
by Rob Bowman

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Once upon a time, long long ago, on a faraway planet, there lived a good God. . . . Because Jesus was recreated from a satanic being to an incarnation of God, you too can become an incarnation – as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth! And, as an incarnation of God, you can have unlimited health and unlimited wealth – a palace like the Taj Mahal with a Rolls Royce in your driveway. You are a little messiah running around on earth! All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.

Hank Hanegraaff (summarizing the Word-Faith teaching)

It seems our friends, the book writers, have invented an entirely new theology called the “born again Jesus” built upon a conglomeration of quotations taken from 6 or 7 ministers, pulled out of context and combined as though we all believed identically the same thing or were even speaking about the same subject when quoted (which, in some cases, we were not). And the reader is told we all believe this “born again Jesus” theology, believe exactly alike about it, and we’re all heretics. Yet I am diametrically opposed to some of the doctrines held by those who are quoted on the same page as me! Kenneth E. Hagin

He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him. Proverbs 18:13

If we are to evaluate the Word-Faith teaching, we first need to understand it. As Solomon counseled, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). We need to grasp the Word-Faith theology as a whole and understand how it all fits together from the perspective of the Word-Faith teachers if we are to make an intelligent decision as to whether it is biblical. Moreover, we need to look at the movement from all sides and consider it from every relevant angle in order to make our assessment as complete and balanced as possible. In this chapter I will set forth an agenda for such a complete assessment and then explain the Word-Faith teaching in order to make its basic message understandable.

The Roots, Shoots, and Fruits

A complete evaluation of any movement’s teachings requires that we look at three aspects of the teachings, which may be called the roots, shoots, and fruits of a doctrine.

Exposing the Roots
The roots of a doctrine are the sources or origins of the teachings. Did the ideas come from the Bible? Did they come from the biblically based teaching of a sound Christian teacher? Did they come from a source that is clearly cultic or non-Christian? Or did they come from a mixture of all three types of sources? If certain ideas can be traced to non-Christian or cultic roots, how were these ideas transferred?

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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An examination of the “roots” of a teaching is never sufficient by itself, because non-Christians, after all, can express truths and can have genuine insights. It is perfectly fine for a Christian teacher to “plunder the Egyptians” by taking over ideas or formulations found in non-Christian thought and putting them into a soundly Christian context. So we must be careful not to argue that a particular doctrine is false merely because a cultist or other non-Christian advocated it. In logic this is called the genetic fallacy – attempting to dismiss an idea on the basis of its genesis, or origin.

William DeArteaga, in his book defending the Word-Faith movement, claims that Daniel R. McConnell’s critique of the Word-Faith teaching commits the “genetic fallacy” by arguing that “Hagin derived his teachings from Kenyon, who in turn was associated with the Metaphysical movement.” DeArteaga calls this error “the pharisaical objection of origins,” referring to his belief that the Pharisees erred by rejecting any workings of the Spirit that contradicted their theology or which they could not explain. This is an odd theory: the Pharisees never criticized Jesus’ teachings for supposedly deriving from a suspect source (say, that Jesus got his ideas from the pagan Greeks). They did accuse him of having a demon (Matt. 9:34; 12:24; John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20), but this is a “genetic” argument of a very different sort! Setting aside this strange reference to the Pharisees, DeArteaga’s criticism overlooks the fact that McConnell explicitly denies trying to discredit the Word-Faith teaching by a simple exposé of its origins:

The historical origins of the Faith movement are not enough, however, to justify the charge of cultism. That would be an example of theological guilt by mere historical association. To prove cultism requires that it be demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the beliefs and practices of the contemporary Faith movement (not just those of Kenyon) are both cultic and heretical.. . . The Faith movement is cubic not just because of where it comes from. but also because of what it teaches.

DeArteaga elsewhere shows that he does take the question of the origins of the Word-Faith teaching to be relevant. In answer to McConnell, he argues that Kenyon’s doctrines of revelation – knowledge and of the Christian life are not really Gnostic at all but are instead rooted in the theology of the apostle Paul.

If the genetic fallacy is to be avoided, then why examine the roots at all? There are two reasons for doing so. First, sometimes teachers will misrepresent the source of their teachings in order to exaggerate their own originality or because the true sources are a potential embarrassment to them. In some cases professing Christian teachers have been known to plagiarize whole sermons or books from various cultic or questionable sources. Obviously, if they pass off as new insights or revelations from God ideas that they actually lifted word for word from a non-Christian or cultic writer, this constitutes a serious problem. Exposing these teachers’ lack of honesty in this area serves its own purpose independent of evaluating the teachings themselves.

Here again, DeArteaga argues that McConnell has criticized Kenneth Hagin unjustly by accusing him of plagiarism. According to DeArteaga, “McConnell also accuses Hagin of passing off his theology as pure ‘revelation knowledge’ without any credits to human sources” (emphasis added). DeArteaga points to the preface of The Name of Jesus in which Hagin acknowledges drawing on Kenyon’s The Wonderful Name of Jesus as proof that McConnell is wrong. Yet McConnell himself quotes Hagin’s preface and comments, “This is one of the few candid, direct acknowledgments of Kenyon to appear in any of Hagin’s writings.” McConnell also observes that “Hagin demonstrates the ability to give credit where credit is due with regard to the sources that he drew on to develop a particular idea,” except concerning those sources from which he plagiarized extensively. His contention is simply that Hagin’s repeated, massive plagiarism of the writings of Kenyon, along with those of John A. MacMillan, demonstrate that Hagin’s claim to have learned the Word-Faith teaching directly from visitations and revelations from God is patently false. DeArteaga’s criticisms of McConnell in this matter are not cogent.

Second, identifying the source of someone’s questionable doctrines can aid us in pinpointing the real problems in those doctrines. If certain doctrinal errors have been taught before and have been answered by sound Christian teachers, then finding these antecedents can be very helpful in identifying and refuting the errors. Discovering the true roots of the Word-Faith teaching, once it is shown to be unbibilcal and damaging to authentic Christian faith, will then aid us in getting to the core of the problem. It will also enable us to be better on guard against similar errors in the future.

Again, we do not expose the roots of a doctrine to prove it false. We examine the roots to help us diagnose the problems and prescribe a cure.

Examining the Shoots
The second aspect of any doctrine is the substance or idea of the doctrine itself. This is what for convenience I call the shoots, though it would be more precise to talk about the trunk and branches. More technically, the shoots of a doctrine are the doctrine itself as a doctrine – what the doctrine says in theory and the arguments or reasons given in its support.

Most of the time, we identify a tree by its shoots. That is, we can usually tell what sort of a tree it is simply by looking at its overall appearance as shaped primarily by its trunk and branches. A quick glance at the shoots of a fir tree is enough to determine that it is not an oak.

Examining doctrines is often not as easy, of course, because doctrines are not tangible entities that can be perceived with a single glance. What we purpose to do in examining a doctrine, though, is not merely to identify it but also to evaluate its soundness and strength. When examining a tree, for example, we would check various branches to see if they are strong and well connected to the trunk. If there was some doubt about the health of the tree, we might cut through the bark to examine the interior of the wood. When examining a doctrine, we would test its soundness and strength by examining the reasoning used to support the conclusion and seeing if that reasoning is firmly based on the Bible.

Examining the shoots, then, comes down to comparing the contemporary teachings with the teachings of the Bible. The Word-Faith teachers tend to resist this kind of critical examination, offering various reasons why their teachings should not be critiqued. I have evaluated these objections to doctrinal discernment in Orthodoxy and Heresy. Here I will point out simply that this sort of study is strongly encouraged in the Bible itself (see Matt. 22:29; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16). It is the basic method used by Christians throughout the centuries to test novel and controversial teachings as they have arisen in the church.

Looking at the Fruits
The third and final aspect of testing a doctrine is to look at its fruit. This test is perhaps the best known because of the words of Jesus regarding false prophets: “You will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16, 20). Unfortunately these words are among the most abused words in Scripture. They are all too commonly cited to prove that testing someone’s teachings by comparing them with Scripture is either unnecessary or illegitimate. Yet this claim is itself a doctrine that people try to prove by citing Scripture!

What Jesus says here is absolutely true: One can know a false prophet by his or her “fruits.” We need to ask, though, what is included, and what is not, in these fruits. One thing Jesus makes very clear in the context is that prophetic utterances and miracles are not included (Matt. 7:22). This is important because Word-Faith teachers and those who support them often point to stories of healings, apparent supernatural revelations, and other amazing incidents as proof that God has blessed their ministry. But Jesus specifically excludes such things from the “fruits” by which we would be able to tell a false prophet from a true one.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  <- link LIVE RADIO TUESDAY 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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On the other hand, Jesus does not discourage testing doctrines by comparing them with Scripture. Indeed, his focus is not on the truth or falsity of a particular doctrine but on the divine calling of a professed prophet. The purpose of the test is to tell apart true and false prophets, both of whom seem to speak in the name of the Lord (Matt. 7:21-22). The implication is that a true prophet must represent the Lord truly both in word and in action. Thus the point here is not that true prophets can say anything they want as long as their outward lives are good. Rather, it is that a prophet is false if his fruit is evil, no matter how good or true his words seem to be.

A short while later in the same passage, Jesus contrasts the wise person with the foolish person. The wise person acts on Jesus’ words, while the foolish person fails to do so (Matt. 7:24-27). The implication is that one may and should compare people’s actions to the words of Jesus to see whether their actions are wise or foolish.

One bad fruit that is always produced by false prophets is confusion and division. When false prophets come along and teach false doctrines or make false claims, it is their fault when confusion and division ensue. It is certainly not the fault of those who oppose their unbiblical teachings.

The sum of the matter is this. The test Jesus sets forth in Matthew 7 is intended to expose false prophets. It is not the only such test, but it is a valid and crucial test. It cannot be used to avoid responsibility to teach doctrine that is faithful to the same Bible in which this test appears. False and unsound doctrine always contradicts biblical doctrine and results in bad fruit.

On Defining the Word-Faith Teaching

Before explaining the Word-Faith teaching, I need to say some things about the approach taken here. In discussing this subject with advocates of the Word-Faith teaching and with its critics, I have learned that how one approaches the discussion virtually determines whether communication and understanding will ever take place.

Is There a “Word Faith Teaching”?
Some people object to any critique of the “Word-Faith teaching” on two grounds. First, it is sometimes said that the Word-Faith teachers are evangelists, healers, prophets, or pastors, not teachers or theologians, and that they should not be judged as if they were theologians. Second, it has been argued that the critics of the Word-Faith movement have created a straw-man “Word-Faith teaching” from statements taken out of context or shoe-horned into a theology that none of the Word-Faith teachers espouse. We are told that the Word-Faith teachers differ markedly on a number of doctrinal points, so that the doctrine attributed to them as a group is an artificial construct of the critics’ own imagination.

It is, of course, true that none of the Word-Faith teachers is a systematic theologian or even a methodical teacher whose theological “system” is easily encapsulated from his writings. This does not mean, however, that the Word-Faith leaders are not teachers. Whatever they may see as their primary calling, when they regularly present teaching on matters of Christian belief, they make themselves teachers. It is silly to say that individual – articles, and disseminate video and audiotapes of their messages on doctrinal topics are not teachers.

In any case, at least some of these men do claim to be teachers. Kenneth Hagin, who claims that his primary calling is to the ministry of a prophet, also claims to serve in the ministry of a teacher. Thus it is perfectly appropriate to hold the Word-Faith teachers to a higher standard of doctrinal accuracy than we do persons in ministry who do not presume to teach doctrine (James 3:1).

As for the second objection, it simply is not true that the Word-Faith teachers have no theological system. The lack of a formal Word-Faith “systematic theology” does not mean that there is no structural or thematic unity in their teaching. If a Word-Faith teacher’s teaching is at all coherent or consistent, it should be possible to systematize his teachings in order to bring out its coherence and essential ideas. If such systematization is not possible, it only goes to show that his teaching is chaotic and therefore that he is a poor teacher.

Kenneth Hagin has complained that the theology attributed to him and other Word-Faith teachers is an invention of the critics (see the quotation at the beginning of this chapter). Hagin’s objection has some justice, but the legitimate point he is making should not be exaggerated. There is a core of doctrinal teaching that makes the Word-Faith movement distinctive and identifiable, a core of teaching to which the Word-Faith televangelists generally subscribe and that sets them apart from other Christian traditions. I agree that some of the critics of the Word-Faith teachers have erred in superimposing on the Word-Faith movement a greater degree of unity than is actually there. But the error of this extreme does not justify the opposite extreme of denying any distinctive doctrinal unity in the movement.

In this chapter, then, I will attempt to state that core theology of the Word-Faith movement. It may be that some Word-Faith advocates will disagree somewhat with the way their doctrine is presented here, but I believe that overall this presentation of the Word-Faith theology is accurate and representative of their teachings.

How Shall the Word-Faith Teaching Be Defined?
It is easy to make the Word-Faith doctrine sound silly or absurd. Indeed, one can do so by just stringing together a number of the more colorful statements that have been made by Word-Faith teachers. When critics of the movement do this and then fill in the gaps with their own interpretative embellishments, the result is a caricature.

This is the problem, as I see it, with the way in which the Word-Faith teaching is represented in the section titled “Once Upon a Time . . .” in Hank Hanegraaff’s Christianity in Crisis. Hanegraaff himself makes the following admission in a prefatory note in very small print:

The following tale is a composite of the erroneous teachings of individuals like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, and many others. While not all the Faith teachers hold to every aspect of this tale, they have all made substantial contributions to both the production and the proliferation of these aberrations and heresies. (emphasis added)
What Hanegraaff fails to acknowledge, unfortunately, is that none of the Word-Faith teachers “holds to every aspect of this tale.” The “composite” fails to represent accurately the views of any of the Word-Faith teachers, because none of them holds to the whole thing. Moreover, some of the elements of this “composite” are not held by any of the Word-Faith teachers but are Hanegraaff’s own imaginative and colorful additions. Hanegraaff describes the Word-Faith teachers’ God as hoping to get “lucky.” He describes the Jesus of the Word-Faith teaching as becoming “a satanic being” when he died. He claims that the Word-Faith teaching asserts that Christians can have “a palace like the Taj Mahal. . . . All it takes is to recognize your own divinity.” These descriptions, however, make the Word-Faith movement sound more akin to Eastern religions or the New Age movement than it really is. In truth none of the Word-Faith teachers ever talk this way.

This way of presenting the Word-Faith teaching, while it has shock value, unnecessarily offends those who embrace the Word-Faith teaching. Just as we would not want our beliefs to be misrepresented, we must be careful not to misrepresent the beliefs of those in the Word-Faith movement (Matt. 7:12). When they hear the views of their favorite televangelists being exaggerated or sensationalized, they use that to dismiss out of hand the many valid criticisms of the Word-Faith teaching that critics offer.

We must never lose sight of the fact that many persons do, after all, find in the Word-Faith doctrine a convincing and coherent message. I will therefore be presenting the teaching in such a form as I think a systematically minded advocate of the Word-Faith teaching might articulate it. What I have attempted to do here is to set forth the Word-Faith teaching in the best possible light, focusing on the most prominent and essential aspects of that teaching. This way, what is being refuted is not the worst possible representation of the teaching but the doctrine at its best.

I hasten to add that the more colorful and extreme ideas that have been taught by Word-Faith teachers are certainly, in and of themselves, fair targets for criticism. I will be critiquing some of them in this book. But these more outlandish ideas need to be placed fairly in the context of the Word-Faith teaching.

In order to be as fair to the Word-Faith movement as possible, I will base my exposition of its teaching solely on the words of Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Since these two men are the undisputed leaders of the Word-Faith movement, any doctrine to which both of them subscribe may be safely regarded as part of the Word-Faith teaching. With one important exception, I have avoided mentioning in this summary any doctrine taught by only one, and not the other, of these two men. Persons who acknowledge Hagin or Copeland as teachers and who accept the general ideas of the Word-Faith teaching, even if they deviate in one or a few particulars, may also be regarded as part of the Word-Faith movement.

What follows, then, is a summary of the theology of the Word-Faith movement, including the doctrinal issues that will be explored later in this book.

Human Beings Are Spirits

Basic to the Word-Faith theology is a particular understanding of human nature as spirit, soul, and body. Spirit is more real than the physical, according to the Word-Faith teaching, and therefore the spirit is the real person. It is the spirit that is made in God’s image, allowing the Word-Faith teachers to conclude that human beings are exact duplicates of God, or little gods.

Furthermore, it is the spirit to which God communicates (not the mind), and the spirit that is supposed to control the soul and especially the body. The problem with the human race is that we are allowing our bodies to control our lives, or our reason to dictate to our spirits, rather than having our spirits take control over our whole beings. This is fundamental for the Word-Faith teachers, since in their view we should disbelieve our senses when they tell us we are sick or poor, and disbelieve our reason when it tells us that the Word-Faith teaching is illogical or false (see chapter 6).

God and Humanity

According to the Word-Faith teachers, God is much more like a man than Christians generally have supposed. God is a God of faith; he created the world by faith and accomplishes all that he desires by believing in his heart and speaking the word of faith, thereby bringing things into existence (see chapter 7).

There is another respect in which Word-Faith teaching makes God more like a man than is traditionally thought. Although God is in essence a spirit, the Word-Faith teachers hold that God, like human beings, is spirit, soul, and body – albeit a “spirit body” (see chapter 8).

Likewise, the Word-Faith teachers insist that human beings are much more like God than Christians have usually believed. Our creation in God’s image is interpreted to mean that we exist in God’s “class” as the same kind of being as God, though on a smaller scale (as “little gods”). Moreover, the purpose of the coming of Jesus was to restore humanity to godhood by creating a new race of humans who, like Jesus, would be God incarnate (see chapter 9).

Humanity’s potential as little gods was, according to the Word-Faith teaching, thwarted by the fall. Adam forfeited his status as the god of this world by obeying the devil and thereby making Satan the god of this world. In sinning, Adam gave Satan legal dominion over this world and passed Satan’s nature of death, with its corresponding symptoms of sickness and poverty, down to the rest of humanity (see chapter 10).

Jesus Christ

To correct the situation arising from the fall, God, according to Word-Faith theology, implemented a strategy for reclaiming dominion from the devil. The centerpiece of this strategy was his becoming a man. Although Word-Faith teachers affirm that Jesus Christ was God incarnate, their understanding of what this incarnation meant is in some respects highly unusual.

First, all Word-Faith teachers argue that Christians are just as much “incarnations of God” as was Jesus Christ. This implies that “incarnation” in Word-Faith teaching does not mean the same thing it means in traditional Christian usage. Much of what the Word-Faith teachers say suggests that in their view anyone who is indwelled by the Spirit is an incarnation.

Second, Word-Faith teachers are not altogether clear as to whether it was the preexistent, eternal Son of God who became incarnate. Some Word-Faith teachers, such as Hagin, seem to assume this traditional, biblical view. Others, though, notably Kenneth Copeland and Charles Capps, teach that the Word that became incarnate was God’s Word of promise that he would redeem humanity, and that this Word was “positively confessed” into personal existence by the Virgin Mary (see chapter 11).

The Word-Faith teachers also have a distinctive view of what Christ did to effect our salvation. In their view, what Jesus did that was unique was to die, not merely physically but spiritually as well (thus taking on himself Satan’s nature), and go to hell. There, they say, he was “born again,” rising from the dead with God’s nature (which, it is sometimes implied, he had lost in dying spiritually). By doing so, the Word-Faith teachers argue, Jesus paved the way for us to be born again and exhibit God’s nature in our lives (see chapter 12).

As has already been mentioned, the Word-Faith teachers tend to interpret the incarnation as the prototype of God’s Spirit dwelling in a human being. In this sense, they insist, Christians are as much an incarnation of God as was Jesus Christ. This lends support, in their view, to the claim that all Christians ought to be able to overcome difficulties in their lives and perform miracles in just the same way Jesus did. In principle any of us can do anything that Jesus did on earth (see chapter 13).

Faith, Prayer, and Confession

The distinctive ideas about God and man in Word-Faith theology are the basis for its views on faith and prayer. Faith is not only believing what God says but also believing that we have whatever we say. Prayer is not only speaking to God but also speaking to things and circumstances and commanding them to do as we say. This is the basis for the concept of positive and negative confession, the idea that what we believe and say, whether good or bad, will happen for us (see chapter 14).

On the basis of a positive confession – itself based on faith that we are divine spirits created and redeemed to rule our circumstances by speaking words of faith – Word-Faith theology says we are to obtain health and wealth. Since Christ died to free us from the curse of the law, reason the Word-Faith teachers, this must mean that Christians need no longer accept sickness or poverty in their lives. Christians ought to live in divine health and wealth as testimony to the power of God and as evidence that they are children of God (see chapter 15).

This is the Word-Faith theology to be studied in this book. For the most part, my focus will not be on the personalities who promote these views but on the biblical teachings that are relevant to evaluating the Word-Faith theology. However, in order to understand the teachings fully, we need to consider how they arose and know something about their sources. The next four chapters will deal with just these questions.

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Matthew 9:34 – But the Pharisees said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.”

Matthew 12:24 – But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebub,[4] the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

John 7:20 – “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

John 8:48, 52 – The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?” – At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death.

John 10:20 – Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”

Matthew 22:29 – Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.

Acts 17:11 – Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Matthew 7:16, 20 – By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? – Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Matthew 7:21-22 – “Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’

Matthew 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

James 3:1 – Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Matthew 7:12 – So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

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Taken from The Word-Faith Controversy by Rob Bowman. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, copyright 2001. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Book House Company. You can purchase The Word-Faith Controversy for a total of $15 by calling the Issues, Etc. resource line at 1-800-737-0172 .

http://www.mtio.com/articles/bissar63.htm

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MORE WORD OF FAITHPOST

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Word of Faith: Devastating Impact: Casualties

On a personal level, it seems that – in the long term especially – the WOF is devastating. It is devastating to the WOF believers because they have allowed themselves to be led astray and to be spiritually deceived. The presumption that God does not allow his own children to be deceived is obviously false, because in the Bible, Paul and John and Peter are constantly telling those early Christians to pay attention and to watch out that they would not be deceived – because the presumption is that it could happen, and in some cases was happening.

God has given us his Holy Word so that we can use it, and if we know it well, and if we use it often, and as our minds are renewed through the study of His Word, then When we know the teachings of the Bible, and how to defend our faith and identify false teachings, we are much less likely to be deceived.

But the impact of WOF for those who want to come out of it – is almost just as devastating for those who leave WOF (as it is for those who stayed), especially right after they have just left.

Where can a person go ? WHat Church would you send them to ? Who can they find to talk with, not only who will empathize, but who will actually offer them some seriously Biblical advice and genuine assistance ? And where do they start ?

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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There are many thousands of walking casualties out there who have no idea how to respond to their WOF experiences: the first half seems to be those who thought that WOF was Christianity (Which it is not) – and who then have rejected Christianity because WOF did not work; the second half seems to be those who are Christians and realize that WOF does not work, and is wrong, and is misguided, but they do not have the practice nor enough spiritual understanding – to understand

1) where the problem is or 2) how to fix it and 3) how to go on from there. And the emotional consequences can be very heavy. For many of those involved, their friends and their Churches are still WOF. So they experience additional isolation from their friends, rather than support and comfort. This may be the price for also having friends not spiritually grounded, but that does not really help much either.

The solution should include books and authors that will talk about their own WOF experiences and help to highlight the contrast between 1) what the Bible says and teaches and 2) what the WOF teaches. All this can take a lot of time.

Another part of the solution seems to try to talk it out, work it out, write it out, and let it out, and to make these things part of the process of learning how to come to terms with WOF teachings and reject them, And THEN – replace those teachings with actual Biblical theology.

The “Soft” Cults

Changing your mind to change your master ?

It used to be that Cults were essentially those who operated using an environment of obvious mind-control, where a person was food-deprived, or sleep-deprived as part of their conditioning.

Cults today are much more sophisticated. Part of the dangers of the WOF movement is that its seduction is not so much what it does to you from the exterior – as much as it is what happens to the interior of the person, who has agreed to subject themselves to the same physical environment as the WOF Teacher.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  <- link LIVE RADIO TUESDAY 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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There are aspects of the WOF movement that resemble more the beauty and seduction of a “mass movement”, than they resemble the old cults or their methods. In fact, in some ways WOF movement is more dangerous because all of its impact is on the brain of the persons being affected.

They change you – by teaching you how to change your own consciousness.
They induce the atmosphere, but it takes the will and the cooperation of the person listening, existing there in that moment, and agreeing to “take it all in” and accept it – in order for them to have the impact that they do.

There are situations where a person can recognize faulty or wrong theology in a conversation in a Coffee place. Somehow, those same people are suddenly incapable of thinking of almost anything else – except to ACCEPT the experience which is offered, in the context of the WOF meetings.

One of the characteristics of God is that He does not require us to put our minds on hold, and experiences that are truly from Him 1) Agree with the Bible and 2) are Consistent with Biblical Teachings.

Its unfortunate to say this, but in many WOF meetings, it is insufficient to suggest that it is merely false teachings which takes place. I believe that in many of those meetings, demonic spirits are looking to control the audience and find people willing to accept the input of those Evil spirits. The Bible says that Satan comes as an Angel of Light. What better place for him to display this, than in the WOF meetings ?

I believe that increasingly – in the WOF meetings, the combination of the professional production, and the work of the Spiritual Enemies of the Cross are too powerful for those who are in the audience to not be affected by them.

We can all debate how long the impact of those meetings will be, but they must be long term: Because people coming out of WOF find it so hard to extricate themselves not only from having attended, but from the experiences that they were involved with.

====

In situations like that, I believe that it is important to recognize this for what it is: good old fashioned Spiritual Warfare. This is not the “demon of nail-biting” kind. It is rather simply the Devil making war on the saints, in order to attempt to paralyze us in as many ways as possible.

Praise God that there is a natural antidote called Prayer and Renewing of our Mind through reading the Bible.

Romans 12: 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

It is important to understand that we need to pray for

a) great wisdom and discernment,

b) to pray that we will understand what has happened,

c) to pray that we would understand Which part of our theology and teachings are wrong or have been changed and altered by Word of Faith.

Those of us who do not have a local church should pray that we would find one that has people inside with 1) great spiritual discernment and 2) great spiritual maturity – or that we would be able to find a group of Christian believers who are like that.

It is important to not Stay paralyzed. We do not mean a day or two. we are talking about weeks turning to months. It is important to recognize that God does not abandon us, (even though it can feel that way sometimes) and that He allows things in our lives which will make us stronger, but that there will be times when others hurt us and there will be times when we get burned, even by those who claim to be doing the work of God.

Often, what the Devil knows he may not be able to do anymore with deception, he may try to prevent us from serving Jesus Christ by Confusion or Paralysis. The only way to work out of those feelings is to try and process them, but not allow those bad feelings to become the basis by which we make our new everyday choices.

Bad things DO happen to Good people. And the fact is that although we like to think of ourselves as Good, we are really sinners saved by the Almighty Grace of a loving God. Having said that, it is important to know and remember that just because God lets us fall does NOT mean that He rejects us. On the contrary, God wants us to know Him better. We can never go faster than God, in His desire for our company, and in HIS desire for us to know Him better and continue to worship Him, in spirit and In Truth.

These times are exiting but they do bring some dark days. We know one of the reasons why things happen to us:

II Cor 1:
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Just to be sure we dont miss it, it says that we have tribulation (Difficult & Hard times)

quote:

that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Other Verses are also helpful:

I Thessalonians 15: 18
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober [minded].

we should remember what Paul said:

II Thessalonians 2:16
Now [may] our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17 Comfort your hearts, and [e]stablish you in every good word and work.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_devastation_1.htm

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The Word of Faith Movement and the Capture of the Mind

One of the ways that WOF (Word of Faith) harms people is that it uses their own willingness to believe something which is false – against the person who is doing the “believing”.

Many of these people who are in WOF actually have been in this kind of stuff for their entire lives (some of the WOF teachers started back in the 1950s or before). But many of the people who are in WOF are NEW to the movement. Where did or do these people come from ?

Don’t they come from other churches ? Isn’t there some kind of implication that these churches – from which the WOF converts came – did Not teach people

1) how to rightly divide the Word of God or

2) how to study the Bible or

3) how to identify important doctrines in the Bible or

4) how to spot a cult or identify false teachers ???

We are not proposing that individual believers don’t have a choice, and don’t have a responsibility to educate themselves. Clearly they do, whether someone informs this of that or not, and they are {and will be} held responsible by God, for the doctrine that they believe. The Bible tells all of us to be on our guard and warns about Spiritual deception and also about the need to stay constantly in the Word (the Bible) So That …we will continue to grow spiritually.

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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But having said that – the failure of the leaders and teachers in those local churches, would seem to be an indication of the spiritual weakness and sickness of the Church in general, that it would provide an “impression of safety and stability”, while seeming to encourage the Lack of Spiritual grounding and the Lack of development of Spiritual Maturity.

Thank God we should not leave it up to our churches, and that we can find others and good authors to help us grow spiritually. But it remains disappointing to see many people go to church but only find the confirmation of a lack of Biblically grounded and encouraging teaching.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  <- link LIVE RADIO TUESDAY 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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These implications seem to very serious. In many cases, the original independent local churches (around today) have almost entirely failed in their Biblical duty to educate and thoroughly ground the Christians who attend in the Bible, and especially the new Christians. But now the WOF [Word of Faith Movement] is becoming so large that it will likely continue to absorb those same former “local” churches and get many of those churches to adopt WOF theology and teachings.

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/wof_&_the_mind.htm

 

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JONI A TRUE AND FAITHFUL CHRISTIAN

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Joni Eareckson Tada & Word/Faith [Word of Faith]

A Personal Experience

On December 8, 1999, Joni Eareckson Tada was on the Bible Answer Man, and made the following devastating comments about Word-Faith teachings:

Kenneth Copeland or Kenneth Hagin or Benny Hinn – they’ve never called me and asked me to come on their program.

…I had read some portions of Scripture that seemed to indicate that if God’s Word abided in me, and I abided in Him, I could ask whatever I wished and the request would be fulfilled and my joy would be brighter.

I took that to mean that God wanted me healed. And my sister packed me into her station wagon and a couple of friends, and we drove down to the Washington DC arena and Kathryn Kuhlman swept on stage and praise choruses and testimonies and songs and all of us in the wheelchair section, we kind of like with baited breath were waiting and wondering, and nothing happened. In fact, the ushers came up to all of us in the wheelchair section, about 35 or 40 of us, and said, “Let’s escort you all out early so as not to create a traffic jam, and so there I was, Hank, number 15 in line of 35 people in wheelchairs or on crutches, waiting at the stadium elevator to go up to the parking lot, and we could still hear the distant strains of the organ and piano – Kathryn Kuhlman’s meeting was still going on – and I looked up and down this line of solemn-faced individuals and saw so much disappointment, and I thought “Something’s wrong with this picture.

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Scamming the Lamb’s Fam: Hireling Mike Murdock Gets Paid $100,000 For Twisting the Gospel on the Inspiration Network  See video here

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Either I wasn’t reading God right in His Word or God is not coming through on His promises.” And I knew that wasn’t true, and so Hank, it was that experience that drove me into God’s Word so deep I started reading people like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and Jeremiah Burrows and John Owen and Jonathan Edwards and other contemporary authors – Dr. John MacArthur, there’s so many. I really dove into God’s Word with both sleeves rolled up to understand the Lord’s perspective on healing and I can say now that I am so grateful for the wisdom of God.

…John 5 talks about where Jesus once visited the Pool of Bethesda, and among all these disabled people He touched and healed a man paralyzed on a straw mat for over 30 years. I remember I was in the dark at night. After my bible was closed I’d picture myself at that same pool. I would imagine me dressed in maybe a rough burlap coat lying on a straw mat, perhaps even near that man that Jesus healed, and I would plead with God in prayer, “Oh, Lord, do not pass me by.” I would even sing to Him that hymn, “Jesus, Jesus, hear my humble cry. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” I would pray that, and yet I was never healed.

Well, as you know, years later, and I began to get my spiritual act together with the Lord Jesus and I realized He was using my affliction, my paralysis to push me up against a spiritual wall with my back, getting me to seriously consider His lordship in my life – years later – in fact, just last year my husband Ken and I had a chance to visit Jerusalem, and we chose to do the old city on a hot, dry, dusty day, midday, when we knew no tour buses would be around and we’d have the place pretty much to ourselves.

And Ken was pushing me in my wheelchair down the cobblestone streets and we arrived at the sheepgate, made a lefthand turn, and there, a couple of hundred yards down the path, it opened up into this grand old ruins of – my goodness, it’s the pool of Bethesda. Ken, I said, would you look at this. And although you could not make out the colonnades because the ruins were crumbling and tumbling, and there’s no water in the pool yet, the place was empty, and as I leaned against the guardrail with my elbow, Ken hopped the guardrail to jog down to the bottom of the pool to see if there was any water in one of the cisterns.

And while he was gone and the wind was warm and dry and the sun was hot, tears began cascading down my cheeks as I looked over this pool of Bethesda and I said, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how good of You to wait 30 years, almost as many years as that man laid on his straw mat, You waited this long to bring me to this place, a place where I imagined myself so many years ago, and I’m so grateful that You did not pass me by, because a ‘no’ answer to a request for healing has meant purged sin from my life, and it strengthened my commitment to you, Lord Jesus. It has forced me to depend on Your grace. It has bound me with other believers. It has produced discernment.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes?  <- link LIVE RADIO TUESDAY 10pm on BlogTalkRadio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

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It has disciplined my mind. It has taught me to spend my time wisely. It has given me a hope of heaven. Lord Jesus, You were so good in not healing me.” And I know there are many people listening now who wish to be free of their circumstances – they are looking for an escape hatch, or maybe a quick fix for their affliction, and they think they might find it in a divorce or they are pondering maybe with the idea of suicide, such as one caller mentioned earlier. Or they’re thinking that they’ll find it in pills or medication, or a healing service. But the 32 years that I’ve been in this wheelchair and being at the Pool of Bethesda last year, has taught me that suffering is that good sheepdog, always snapping at my heals and driving me into the arms of the Shepherd. For that, I am so grateful. I am so grateful.

God Is Not a Vending Machine

Who is Joni ?

http://www.exorthodoxforchrist.com/joni’s_story.htm

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes? http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200901/1231101182.html

Headline: The How2BecomeAChristian.Info RADIO SHOW with Damon Whitsell AND a very special Guest: YES affirmation to Title Questions. Jan.6 10pm Central http://blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian.

economic

United States of America (Press Release) January 4, 2009 — As one witchcraft site says,,, “The differences between the Christian and witchcraft viewpoint is the difference between being citizens of a society which takes an active role to shape and mold the structure of society or subjects of a society which has the connotation of subordination to the larger group for the benefit of all.

A similar term with very different meanings between Christian and pagan understandings of the word is “self-control”. To those practicing witchcraft they believe that they are the one who has full control over the actions. They do not surrender to another except under very brief, special and voluntary circumstances. Self-control means taking charge, making all decisions relating to oneself, doing anything so long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.

The witch views control as the act of intentionally and positively directing the will toward the achievement of positive goals. The underlying assumption with the witch’s view of self control is that man is inherently valuable, and can achieve good and beneficial ends through the use of will power.” http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/christianity.html

The same Witchcraft website says,,,, “Inanimate nature also obeyed the words of witchcraft and even the creation of the world itself was through a spoken word. The words could tear the earth apart and make water pile up in a heap and even the sun could be stopped in its course by a word uttered in witchcraft.”

Featuring Special Guest, Kenneth Hagin Student, Rhema Bible Training Center Graduate AND Ex-Word of Faith Preacher, John Edwards from faithpreacher.blogspot.com

Subtopics: 1. COULD IT BE THAT?, Americans and the World are now paying the consequences of a false “prosperity gospel“, through economic crises and outrageous personal debt? What will be the end result? 2. Honest, sincere people read and seek the truth. Scared people hide from truth?

This Press release can also be distributed with this URL link: http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/2009/01/05/special-topic-press-and-listener-release-the-how2becomea-christianinfo-radio-show-with-damon-whitsell-and-a-very-special-guest-topics-1-have-american-christians-accepted-a-false-gospel-that-is-r/

In PART ONE of the series, John and Damon will examine the biblical warnings to beware of false teachers/prophets and BE NOT deceived, because one day God will send a delusion into the world, upon those who love not His truth. They will be delving into the History and Occultic/New Age/Luciferian roots of the Word of Faith Movement. And will be discussing Cult Psychology (why people fall for cults and cultic teachings, including mind control techniques). Do your ears itch?
John Edwards and Damon Whitsell will return on air Tuesday January 13 the following week to cover the assertion made in the Title that the prosperity gospel is to partly to blame for our economic crisis. MORE INFO @ http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/ AND http://how2becomeachristian.info/

http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200901/1231101182.html

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Special Topic Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Headline: The How2BecomeAChristian.Info Radio show with Damon Whitsell AND a very special Guest: Topics; 1. Have American Christians accepted a false gospel (that is really occultic witchcraft) because they have itching ears for what they want to hear and not a love for God’s Truth? Are some “Christians” practicing Witches, Unaware? 2. Have ”Word of Faith Preachers” and “Word of Faith Believers” contributed to American National Debt and financial woes?

Subtopics: 1. COULD IT BE THAT?, Americans and the World are now paying the consequences of a false “prosperity gospel“, through economic crises and outrageous personal debt? What will be the end result? 2. Honest, sincere people read and seek the truth. Scared people hide from truth?

Biblical Truth and Your Thoughts Aired on the Social Radio Network BlogTalkRadio

Featuring Special Guest, Kenneth Hagin Student, Rhema Bible Training Center Graduate AND Ex-Word of Faith Preacher, John Edwards from faithpreacher.blogspot.com

==============================================================

This segment episode of The How2BecomeAChristian.Info Radio show with Damon Whitsell AND a very special Guest: “Have American Christians accepted a false gospel (that is really occultic witchcraft) because they have itching ears for what they want to hear and not a love for God’s Truth?”,, will air on January 6, 2009 at 10 p.m. Central Time. It will be informative, exciting, socially and personally challenging to Christians and non Christians alike..

The show will feature both Show Host Damon Whitsell and Special Guest Ex-Word of Faith Preacher; John Edwards, YES AFFIRMATION,, to the title and subtitle questions.

They will offer an examination of what the Bible and Jesus have to say about false teachers and guarding against deception in the last days. A historical and theological critique of the WoF movement that has been all the rage in “big Christianity” and most Charismatic Circles. They will compare the “Word of Faith” teaching that faith and words are a “creative force“, with the exact same occult teaching that has always been the corner stone of witchcraft and the occult.

As one witchcraft site says,,, “The differences between the Christian and witchcraft viewpoint is the difference between being citizens of a society which takes an active role to shape and mold the structure of society or subjects of a society which has the connotation of subordination to the larger group for the benefit of all.

A similar term with very different meanings between Christian and pagan understandings of the word is “self-control”. To those practicing witchcraft they believe that they are the one who has full control over the actions. They do not surrender to another except under very brief, special and voluntary circumstances. Self-control means taking charge, making all decisions relating to oneself, doing anything so long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.

The witch views control as the act of intentionally and positively directing the will toward the achievement of positive goals. The underlying assumption with the witch’s view of self control is that man is inherently valuable, and can achieve good and beneficial ends through the use of will power.” http://www.witchcraft-magick.com/christianity.html

The same Witchcraft website says,,,, “Inanimate nature also obeyed the words of witchcraft and even the creation of the world itself was through a spoken word. The words could tear the earth apart and make water pile up in a heap and even the sun could be stopped in its course by a word uttered in witchcraft.”
==============================================================

In PART ONE of the series, John and Damon will examine the biblical warnings to beware of false teachers/prophets and BE NOT deceived, because one day God will send a delusion into the world, upon those who love not His truth. They will be delving into the History and Occultic/New Age/Luciferian roots of the Word of Faith Movement. And will be discussing Cult Psychology (why people fall for cults and cultic teachings, including mind control techniques). Do your ears itch?

John Edwards and Damon Whitsell will return on air Tuesaday January 13 at 10pm Central Time (same bat time, and channel) the following week to cover the assertion made in the Title and Subtitle, that our current economic crises can be proven to be, at least indirectly, related to the Word of Faith Movement and it’s false “Prosperity Gospel” of greed and self centeredness. And the Word of Faith movements veritable catch 22/Double bind of, “Prove your faith by breaking out your credit card and check book, for God (or at least the “Man of God’ on T.V.)“. You will get 100 or 1000 times a return on your money (that you send to them) GO AHEAD!!! You deserve it!!! (Rev. 3: 13 & 19)

Read this for your own good. The Evil of Usury ß link The TV Word of Faith Ministers are not the only ones USING YOU and Us.

“Who goeth a borrowing goeth a sorrowing” — Benjamin Franklin.

If your not aware that the OCCULT is real and has an agenda, maybe you should check out the other H2bac.Info (with a numeral 2) ministry sites. http://occultworldexposure.wordpress.com/  AND http://www.freewebs.com/occultworldexposuregat/  Also look for a corresponding Radio Show by Damon Whitsell to start in February or March on BlogTalkRadio. Visit DeceptionInTheChurch.com

In PART TWO of the series, John and Damon will also play and critique audio clips from prominent Word of Faith Teachers false, heretical, aberrant and damnable teachings. And Damon has some tough Questions for John as he will play devils advocate with John to wrap up the second show. Both Damon and John have been strongly affected by the Word of Faith movement and have much to say on the subject.

Damon’s take on the Word of Faith Movement is: “Because my uncle is a Mormon bishop, I have studied the occult extensively. All secret occult groups have one thing in common, freemasonry as a recruiting ground. AND as several prominent freemason writers have claimed, the Cabbala is the source of freemasonry and all of the ancient mystery religions.

It just blows me away, and testifies to the veracity of the bible and its end time apostasy claims, in that so many today would agree with Satan (believe lies taught by demons) in saying Genesis 3:22 (And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever) is their favorite bible verses.

I know not many say it is their favorite verse, but the Word of Faith movement (WoF) stuff falls apart without it, Gen3:22 is what it is built on.Gen3:22 is known as the occult secret doctrine. BUT in occult circles, this so called occult truth, is only for the adept, initiated and illuminated. Freemasonry and other occult traditions practice secrets within secrets and secret groups within secret groups. These groups are split between the adept and the un-adept. SO your average WoF believer is more adept to occult teachings than most freemasons and members of other occult groups.

The WoFM transformed the Latter Rain Movement into the Manifest Sons of God Movement. AND it saddens me that the biggest outlet for occultic teachings, is now the Christian Church. I see it in the bible and I see it in occult writings. Almost every big name writer in the occult has written about how they intend on invading the Christian church and change it from inside out. Christianity will be the end time one world religion. Not the faith once delivered though. They say Christianity is to be invaded and turned into the religion of apotheosis (men become gods) or Luciferianism. AND it has happened,,,, and the ground work for the abomination of desolation is set. People that call themselves Christians (occultist have always claimed to be the true Christians because they claim to be little gods or little Christ) will soon chose to openly worship Lucifer over God,, saying as occultist do,,,,, ‘the great rebel Lucifer blazed the path to Godhood for us all‘, and they will worship him for it. The WoF crowd will be the easiest to deceive. Because they already are! Maybe more than the Mormons and more obvious occult groups.”
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Callers are welcome to join the conversation after the first hour of the show by calling (347) 215-6795. If caller demand warrants it, more shows on the subject will be scheduled. The live, Internet talk-radio show will stream from the host page and there is an interactive chat room available @ http://blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian

An archive will be available at the same link immediately following the show or listeners can subscribe to the archives via the RSS feed located on the same host page.

Read and learn more about cults and cultic movements @ http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com  AND http://how2becomeachristian.info

ATTENTION: A pre-recorded interview between Damon and John is available for listening and downloading at http://www.soundclick.com/how2becomeachristian

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The How2BecomeAChristian.Info Radio show with Damon Whitsell and it’s sister sites are a How2BecomeAChristian.Info (with a numeral 2) Ministry.

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Why Jehovah’s Witnesses Have Mental Problems

Jerry Bergman, Ph.D

ABSTRACT

A scientific literature review found that the rate of mental illness among Jehovah’s Witnesses is considerably above average. The specific level found in the research varies partly because the extant research was on different populations and time periods. The major factors identified as either helpful or harmful to Witness mental health were discussed. Although persons with emotional problems tended to join the Witnesses, the Watchtower teachings and its subculture clearly adversely affected the mental health of those involved. The official Watchtower attitude on mental illness was also examined as were the common beliefs about the problem among Witnesses.

The History Of The Watchtower Reveals the Sources of Mental Problems

Jehovah’s Witnesses were organized in the late 1800’s by Charles Taze Russell, a second Adventist disappointed in the failed prophecies of his fellow religionists. He soon reinterpreted these prophesies and set his own new dates. He first taught the time of the end started in 1798 (latter changed to 1799), that Christ had returned invisibly in 1878 (latter changed to 1874), and that a new world wherein the righteous would dwell forever on a paradise Earth would begin in 1914.[1] With his father’s fortune, Russell preached tirelessly, yet when he died only a small band of followers existed as a result of all his efforts.

The second president, a lawyer named Rutherford, used his law background to create one confrontation after another with the state and almost everyone else including business, medicine and even religion. Soon Jehovah’s Witnesses became infamous throughout the world for their legal clashes which often involved violence.[2] A fighter with no small legal skills, Rutherford recruited several other attorneys and the Watchtower soon had themselves positioned as martyrs. The small band of devoted–some would say fanatical–followers, they achieved something that no amount of money could buy: name recognition, and, at least in the legal profession, an admiration for their legal success and tenacity.

The third president, N.H. Knorr, ruled from the 1950s to the 1970s. He toned down their behavior and worked tirelessly to modify their public image from fanatics to quiet, determined Christians fearlessly going about their work preaching the good news of the Watchtower’s kingdom. Pushing numerical growth to the exclusion of almost everything else including the health of individual Witnesses, his policies paid off. Except for the 1975 fiasco, growth has usually been steady. 1975 was their third recent major prediction for Armageddon, the other two were 1914 and 1925 which caused upward of one million people to eventually leave the sect.[3] They have carefully cultivated a public image of a God fearing devoted people, determined to ferret out God’s truth from the scriptures and live their lives fully according to them. Behind this facade lies a nightmare which resulted in a rash of mental illness and social problems considerably higher than that found in virtually every American religion. The reasons for the Watchtower tragedy are complex and can only briefly be explored in this short review.

The Scientific Research

Especially since the 1975 date (which was predicted to usher in God’s kingdom on earth) failed, the numerous problems in the Watchtower congregations have received much mass media and scholarly attention. Most intensively studied problems include disfellowshipping, doctrinal disputes, and their recurring prophetic speculation failures. [4] Witness mental health issues have also been examined by many investigators.[5]

The writer, as a former Witness for over twenty years, was extensively involved in various administrative levels of the organization. This gave him first hand access to information relating to most social and bureaucratic aspects of the Watchtower. He has also used his decade of extensive clinical experience with Witnesses and an extensive literature review as a basis for his evaluation. Outsiders have limited access to inside information, and for this reason are forced to rely on official publications, all of which are viewed by Witnesses as quasi-inspired.[6] The literature reveals eight academic studies which explored the problem of Witness mental illness. These will be briefly reviewed by year, the oldest first.

The Rylander Study

Swedish psychiatrist Dr. Rylander investigated a sample of conscientious objectors imprisoned in Sweden. Of the 135 randomly selected cases, fully 126 were Witnesses. Of these 126, Rylander diagnosed 51 as neurotic, 42 psychotic, 32 as mentally retarded, and 5 as brain-damaged (some overlap exists because some cases were in two or more categories).[7] Diagnosis was made solely on the basis of behavior that was clearly pathological, such as irrational paranoia or severe long term depression, and not behavior that resulted from following Watchtower doctrine as non-social involvement with the non-Witnesses. Rylander also concluded from the subjects’ medical records and his interviews that their pathological state was not uncommonly evident before conversion, but that the Watchtower’s’ influence was often detrimental to mental health, sometimes severely so.

About four percent of the eligible armed service Swedish population were judged psychologically “unfit” for military services. The corresponding figure for Witnesses was twenty-one percent, or a rate five times greater. This was very close to the same ratio found by Spencer [8] whose diagnosis of “psychotic” or “neurotic” was made on the basis of mental hospital admission screening. Few of the cases in Rylander’s study were marginal Witnesses, and most were actively involved in the Watchtower. Rylander concluded that many of those he studied lacked an education, job skills, emotional stability, and quality social relations. Unsatisfactory employment records often existed because of psychological deficiencies, lack of ability or immaturity. Rylander found that Witnesses committed “…a relatively large number of small crimes and other misdemeanors which generally resulted only in a fine…three [Witnesses] have been imprisoned for stealing or harboring of stolen property, and 36 have been fined for various offenses (traffic violations, drunkenness, unlawful selling of alcohol, poaching, unlawful entering, etc.)” [9]

Neurotic symptoms commonly found in his sample included “feelings of discomfort, general anxiety, poor sleep habits, times of brooding over what they see as the meaninglessness of life, the wrongs they have suffered and the mistakes they have made.” [10] Rylander noted that the Watchtower doctrine helped some adherents to explain “all of their problems in life, and has given them a satisfaction and calmness which has brought a measure of stability to their lives.” [11]

He also concluded that individual Witnesses tended to be burdened with a variety of serious concerns and often joined the sect in an effort to solve their many problems. Although the results of this study are not fully applicable to today’s situation, many of his conclusions are still largely true. [12] A major difference between his sample and today is that the Witnesses are now more middle-class and less socially rejected. Many Witnesses, though, especially those living in developing nations, still experience many of the same problems that Rylander reported.

The First American Study

Pescor, in the first study on American Witness mental health, diagnosed as psychotic over seven percent of his total sample (n=177) of young males imprisoned due to obeying the Watchtower’s prohibition against complying with military regulations.[13] The sample was obtained by interviewing all selective service violators admitted to the Federal prison medical center during the study. The level of Witness psychosis in his sample was about seventeen times higher than that for the population as a whole. A whopping seven percent were diagnosed psychotic, four percent had other mental abnormalities and fully one quarter were rated socially maladjusted. Sixteen percent of Pescor’s sample were on hospital status and forty-four percent of these were diagnosed psychotic.

The demographic characteristics of the Witnesses in the study were as follows: almost half were raised on farms and only thirty-nine percent grew-up in cities of 5,000 or more. About half had some high school education (the median grade achieved was 9.2), and the majority were engaged in agricultural work. The discrepancy between socioeconomic status and I.Q. (the median I.Q. was 101.5) was partly a result of the Watchtower’s discouragement of occupational advancement coupled with their stress on the regular study of Watchtower publications, a practice which serves to develop verbal and reading skills.

Only two percent were judged to have poor work performance and over forty percent took advantage of educational opportunities, mostly correspondence courses offered by the institution. Spanish was the most popular class pursued, presumably so the Witness could serve as a Watchtower missionary when released.

The Janner Study

Swiss psychiatrist Janner (1963), examined a random sample of 100 Swiss citizens who were imprisoned because of objection to military service, about eighty-five percent were Jehovah’s Witnesses.[14] The study found a significant number of Witnesses showed one or more of the following symptoms: high level of fear anxiety, severe neuroticism, introversion and/or social isolation tendencies. Janner [15] concluded that the Witnesses were generally “somewhat removed from reality, although some demonstrated intense religious feeling.” As found in other studies, the majority of the Witnesses in his sample were unskilled or semi-skilled workers.

His research revealed a whopping 10.4 percent of the Witnesses had previous criminal convictions, about half of which were for sexual offenses, mostly pedophilia and exhibitionism. The rest of the criminal connections were for minor property or person offenses. He did not compare the mental illness rate of Jehovah’s Witnesses to the population as a whole, but concluded that the rate among Witnesses was far higher than the rate among non-Witnesses. The Watchtower influence was often not positive, and there was no evidence that it had in the long run helped those who had emotional problems when they joined. Evidence was found, though, that the Watchtower had an adverse effect on many regardless of their adjustment level when they became involved.

Spencer’s Research

Spencer, an Australian psychiatrist, examined the records of all admissions to Western Australia psychiatric hospitals from January, 1971 to December, 1973.[16] He located fifty cases that, according to the patients’ own admission, were active Jehovah’s Witnesses. Spencer concluded that the rate of serious mental illness among this group was three times higher than that of non-Witnesses, and the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia was fully four times higher. A reason that Spencer’s statistics are probably low is that Witnesses are prone to avoid psychiatric treatment and, especially, institutionalization.[17] The Watchtower, like many cultic movements, is very critical of both the mental health profession and most non-medical professional therapy.[18] The official Witness teaching is that the decision to visit a psychiatrist is up to one’s conscience, but the undertone in most of their literature is strongly opposed to all types of professional mental health help.[19] The typical Witness believes that it is either very foolish or blatantly wrong to rely on the advice of a secular mental health therapist.[20]

Other Research Studies

Licensed therapist Montague monitored the admissions to state and private mental hospitals, and local mental health clinics in Ohio from 1972 to 1986.[21] From this data (n=102) he estimated that “The mental illness rate of JW’s is approximately 10 to 16 times higher than the rate for the general, nonWitness population [and that]…about 10% of the publishers (full members) in the average congregation are in serious need of professional help…[although they are often] able to hide this fact quite well, especially from outsiders.” [22] From his intensive interviews with Witness patients and others, Montague concluded that persons who had emotional problems were attracted to the Witnesses but Watchtower involvement also caused many of the emotional problems that they suffered. This is evident from the fact that many with problems reported they were far happier after they left.

Another study was completed by Potter [23] as part of his Ph.D. thesis on religion and mental health. He concluded that there exists “a strong positive correlation between Witness membership and clinical schizophrenia.” In yet another Ph.D. dissertation, Sack evaluated the effect of religion on the mental health of select clients.[24] Although the case study method was utilized, many of the same conclusions were reached as found in the above studies, and in many ways her research compliments the present study. The clients she utilized had an enormous amount of insight into the pathological processes of the Watchtower and similar sects, and her study is well worth reading.

In addition, a German study by Elmer Koppl [25] also came to similar conclusions as did a study by Norwegian psychologist, Kjell Totland [26] Using Oakland County court records from 1965 to 1973, Bergman concluded that not only is the mental illness rate above average, but the suicide and crime rates are also high, especially aggressive crimes against persons [27] This is the extent of published empirical studies about the mental health of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an area in which a need exists for more research.

The Validity Of These Studies

The above studies may have under reported the level of Witness mental illness because of sampling problems. A major flaw with the military research studies is that many seriously psychotic Witnesses would have a history of hospitalization, and thus would likely have had a medical deferment. In the States, only those who have passed the required physical would be imprisoned because of refusing to obey the selective service law. If these cases were included, the rate would be higher than that which both Pescor and Rylander found.

It is possible that some Witnesses feigned mental illness in order to be released from prison, thereby inflating the rate. Conversely, faking mental problems generally would not result in prison release, but in reassignment to hospital status within the institution. Although hospital assignment may be a more desirable placement within the prison, the negative feeling that our culture has about the mentally ill would encourage faking physical, not mental problems. On the other hand, some Witnesses may have violated Watchtower teachings and selected alternative service. Those who did may be better adjusted because of the tendency for the more maladjusted Witnesses to rigidly cling to the Watchtower and all of its teachings.[28]

The mental hospital studies also likely under-reported the level of Witness mental illness. Spencer had to rely on self-reporting, and it is possible that many Witness patients did not reveal their true religious affiliation. Those who are forced to seek psychiatric services are often reluctant to admit their Witness involvement.[29] Many have written on their hospital forms “Protestant” or even “none” instead of their true religious affiliation.[30]

Jehovah’s Witnesses who have mental difficulties are typically ashamed of them because they often believe good Witnesses do not become mentally ill. Due to the fear that their illness may bring reproach upon the Watchtower, they not uncommonly are not open with a therapist or researcher about their problems. Often they will undergo intense suffering to protect the Watchtower reputation. [31] When a Witness becomes “mentally ill,” regardless of the reason, much personal guilt results because of the belief that faithfulness to the Watchtower will usually protect one from emotional problems. Witnesses often believe that mental problems are evidence of personal shortcomings that are usually religious in nature. Active Witnesses are instructed to believe that “if I am not happy, I must not be pleasing God or doing what God desires of me” as interpreted by the Watchtower [32]

The Watchtower often stress Scriptures such as Psalms 128:1-2 which state, “Happy is everyone fearing Jehovah…[and] walking in His ways…happy you will be and it will be well with you.” [33] Verses such as this are used to conclude that their unhappiness is a result of displeasing God; therefore, the cause of mental problems must be their personal shortcomings. This belief only further intensifies their guilt and, ironically, in an effort to solve emotional unbalance, they increase their loyalty to what they believe is God’s only true organization. They often reason that “the organization is right; therefore, I must be wrong.” Thus, a Witness who has been active for many years commonly believes that Jehovah’s Witnesses are as a whole a happy people and, “as I am not, I must not be a good Witness.”

Many persons raised around the influence of the Witnesses (especially during their formative years) who leave as adults often remain largely Witness in belief.[34] And these persons are usually no longer included in the Witnesses mental illness statistics. Montague concluded that, although those persons who remain involved often have more emotional problems than those who depart, Witnesses who suffer from severe mental illness tend to be forced out.[35] Those who are obviously psychotic are commonly made to feel unwelcome due to the common conclusion by Witnesses that they are either “demonized,” or not fully committed Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Common Witness Reactions to This Research

Witnesses commonly react to the research on their mental health by refusing to acknowledge its validity. [36] They may cite the Watchtower’s teaching that “…the Christian Witnesses of Jehovah are the best oriented, happiest, and most content group of people on the face of the earth. They get along better with each other than do people of any other religion, tribe or social group. They have the least need for psychiatrists.” [37] The Watchtower [38] adds: “Jehovah God has a New World Society operating earth-wide today, and that it is through it that true happiness can be found.”

Many Witnesses accept this statement as true even though their own experience is often contrary to this frequently repeated misconception.[39] Interestingly, the Watchtower has not made the above claim lately, and they are now more aware of this problem, as is obvious from their discussions of this issue in their publications and at their meetings.[40] Yet they have done little concrete to respond to it in the last decade except to publish numerous articles in their official magazines on depression and similar topics, mostly with primarily pop psychology content. The Watchtower also has not responded to the areas identified as the most serious factors causing emotional problems, and they have actively resisted even minor changes emanating from both insiders and outsiders.

The Tendency to Protect the Society

The attempt of individual Witnesses to protect the Watchtower is a major impediment to research. The author, from working with almost one hundred active Witnesses who were mentally ill, has repeatedly experienced their revealing significant doubts, troubles, and fears (an important part of which is the personality conflicts common within the congregation) and then a short time later, while attempting to proselytize their neighbors, state that “Jehovah’s Witnesses are the happiest people on the face of the earth.” [41]

Another response is the following rationalization: “True Christians will be persecuted for God’s name sake–and God’s name is Jehovah. Thus Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted–and these statistics about the high mental illness rate are just another example of the persecution against us.” [42] Although Witnesses are sensitive about the common antagonism against them and many persons regard them as somewhat “strange,” most know little more about them other than the fact that they refuse to salute the flag and accept blood transfusions. Many pastors have commented to the author that it is difficult to stimulate church members to study Watchtower theology in order to effectively present orthodox Christianity to Witnesses who visit their homes.

Why People Join the Watchtower

A case history will help the reader understand why people join the Watchtower. The case involves Melissa, a women who from a young age had her life planned, as do many women; a husband, children and a career as a nurse. Shawn was her first true love; and they dated for almost two years before their church wedding. They met when she was waitressing in Connecticut after graduation from high school and attending college part time to become a nurse. The two soon became fast friends, then dated regularly. Shawn was good looking, kind and had no reservations about giving either attention or gifts to Melissa. Shawn was from a nice family, and Melissa felt close to especially his parents and three brothers.

After their first child, Shawn spent less and less time at home–and after their second child, the fights intensified. He then became physically violent, although almost always after drinking heavily. After the violence began, home was no longer the same, and Melissa saw Shawn in a drastically different light. They soon divorced and she was shattered. Alone in the city they moved to after they married, she had few friends, two young babies and no skills aside from waitressing. Melissa also felt trapped under the court order not to leave the city so her ex-husband could see the children.

Soon a young lady with a child in tow knocked on Melissa’s door and offered her two magazines which would “help her to understand her Bible.” Desperately seeking to fill her need for companionship, Melissa enjoyed the company of the lady, Thelma, and invited her back. Thelma seemed to have what she didn’t: happiness and a devoted loving family. The Witness soon offered her a “Bible study,” confirming Melissa’s suspicion that her new friend was a Jehovah’s Witness. Knowing little about the group except they did not celebrate the holiday’s or accept blood transfusions, she felt it would not hurt to discuss the Bible with Thelma. After all, Thelma assured her they would only be studying the Bible, not a Watchtower book. Anyway, Thelma explained, whether Melissa celebrated birthdays was up to her. And besides, Thelma said, the Watchtower does not interfere with medical treatment–all decisions in this area are up to the individual. Many misconceptions about what Jehovah’s Witnesses believed existed, she added, stressing that after they studied the Bible she could decide for herself.

Raised a nominal Lutheran, Melissa now felt a deep spiritual need. Thelma even speculated that the events in Melissa’s life might be part of God’s plan to cause her to make a commitment to God’s organization. After all, if Melissa married a Witness, she would be happily married now. Witness husbands, Thelma explained (and those that Melissa met at the Kingdom Hall seemed to verify this) were good men who loved and cared for their wives in harmony with their scriptural obligations. If they behaved otherwise, they would be disfellowshipped. The more Melissa learned about this religion, the more it seemed the answer to her every need. Soon after Thelma showed up on her porch, the Witnesses helped her by babysitting, chauffeuring her to the store until she could afford a car, and one “brother” who owned a restaurant gave her a good job. She was soon able to rent a small apartment, and in less than a year she met a young Witness who was as enthusiastic for her new religion as she was. They married and both were able to arrange their affairs to spend full time in the Witness work, encouraging other people to accept the gospel accordingly to the Watchtower.

This story which started out so wonderful soon became a nightmare which eventually resulted in the suicide of the two sons which Melissa bore from her second marriage. It is also a scenario that is repeated millions of times every year throughout the world: over thirteen million people are now either active or studying to become Jehovah’s Witnesses. The nightmare that these millions of people enter could have been avoided if they were aware of the deception and entrapping quagmire of this Watchtower.

Why Mental Health Problems are so Great

Numerous reasons exist for the mental health problems among Witnesses, but research has determined the following often are among the most important:

1. Change in policy. The Watchtower is in a perpetual state of doctrinal change, often flip flopping as many as three or four times on a single issue. Nowhere has this been so tragic as in their anti-medical teachings. The Watchtower taught during the 1930’s and 1940’s that vaccinations were not only ineffective, but were a “direct violation” of God’s law.[43] Then in the early fifties vaccinations were up to one’s conscience, but today the Watchtower publishes articles extolling the virtues of vaccinations and the many lives they have saved. In late 1961 organ transplants were specifically ruled acceptable, then in 1967 they were banned.[44] Even cornea and kidney transplants were taught to be in violation of God’s law because they were ruled as being cannibalism. Then in 1980 most organ transplants were ruled a matter of conscience.[45] The only exception, bone marrow transplants, was wrong only because bone was a source of blood. In 1984, even bone marrow transplants were approved.

In 1909 the Watchtower specifically stated that the Jewish prohibition against eating blood was not considered law for Christians, but it was not until 1961 that receiving a blood transfusion was grounds for disfellowshipping.[46] The Watchtower now teaches that “if a court authorized transfusion seems likely…[a witness must] put forth strenuous efforts to avoid a violation of God’s law on blood [and if] authorities…consider him a law-breaker or make him liable to prosecution…the Christian could view it as suffering for the sake of righteousness.” [47]

The Watchtower teaching is clear: Witnesses are to forfeit their life rather than submit to a transfusion, and this includes allowing their children to die. If they do die due to lack of blood, they may sue the surgeon as they did Dr. Denton Cooley– they lost this case; the jury ruled the blood objection made the operation more risky (Houston Chronicle Nov. 18 1995 p. 42A) Yet even in this area the Watchtower society has changed. Use of all blood products and blood fractions for any purpose was once condemned–even glues made from blood products were not to be purchased. Now Witnesses may accept albumin, globulins, factor VIII, factor IX and even circulating blood. The ban on blood fractions for hemophiliacs was lifted in 1978.[48] Blood serums are now approved because those for viral hepatitis rabies, tetanus, diphtheria and others contain only “a tiny amount” of blood.[49] Because the Watchtower also teaches Witnesses are to be faithful even “in little things,” many view these many exceptions as hypocritical. Thousands of children have died of lack of blood, grandparents became blind because of refusing cornea transplants, and others died because of refusing a kidney transplant.[50] This is especially traumatic if the doctrine changes and what was once condemned becomes approved. This is shown in the following case.

According to Walker “Gary Busselman watched his wife, Delores, die of leukemia. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, the couple did not believe in blood transfusions or a bone-marrow transplant…. Today, Busselman thinks the refusal of those medical procedures was wrong and he wants to help others who might have experienced similar tragedies.” [51] He added that “she died in 1971 and in 1980 they changed their rule and members since then can get transplants.” Guilt and anger commonly result from the belief that a loved one died (Busselman had an extremely good marriage) because of following a doctrine which was later admitted as being wrong by the church.

2. Another major reason that causes disillusionment among Witnesses is they are taught that their organization alone is specifically run by God. Those inside of the Watchtower organization are the only true servants of God, and all of those outside, especially the clergy, are evil persons soon to be destroyed at a holocaust called Armageddon. Yet many are aware of the numerous cases of Witnesses who have done horrible things. A recent example is the two “skinheads” who “used to get along with their parents…and [were nice boys]” but murdered their mother, Brenda 48, their father Dennis, 54 and their brother Eric, 11.[52] The boys, Brian, 17 and his brother, David, only 16 then both plead guilty to lesser charges and received life in prison. This horrendous crime which received international attention no doubt reminded many Witnesses of the other infamous Watchtower murder cases. Another Witness, William Carlson, who murdered both his Witness parents when he was only 16, received international publicity and is only one of hundreds of similar cases.[53]

3. Prophecy failure. Many Witnesses harbor a powerful deep seated fear which they often try to repress or rationalize that the Watchtower is a false religious organization. This idea is so frightening for many Witnesses that they refuse to explore their fears–preferring to suppress rather than acknowledge and deal with them. This response is not unlike a wife who is deeply suspicious that her husband is unfaithful. Each sign of his sin causes her emotional turmoil, yet she denies her fear to her friends and even herself.

The most recent drastic doctrinal change was the former Watchtower teaching that the countdown to Armageddon commenced in 1914, and that the first world war was a major sign that Christ would very soon establish his Millennial kingdom on earth. [54] They also taught the generation that saw 1914 would see Armageddon and the New World. Then a November 1995 Watchtower, according to Woodward, announced “all millennial bets are off…the sects leaders quietly acknowledged that Jesus was right in the first place, when he said that ‘no one knows the day or the hour.'” [55] The Watchtower has been wrong on almost every single prediction it has ever made, and this is especially traumatic when persons take stock in what they sacrificed to become Jehovah’s Witness.

The date failures effect in a major way other policies. In the forties and fifties, the Watchtower even discouraged having a family–teaching that Armageddon was too close to risk having children. Even marriage was once discouraged. In 1941 the Watchtower published a book entitled Children in which they argued that the only way people can “please God” is to acquire “the right kind of knowledge.” [56] The book’s purpose was primarily to convince the reader that only the Watchtower is God’s organization, and it is only by following it religiously that everlasting life can be obtained.[57] Woven within this message was the story of John and Eunice who decided not to marry but instead to serve the Watchtower full time. They conclude that they will someday have children but not until after Armageddon when “under the Rule of the Theocracy…all the people will rejoice, and that righteous rule shall stand forever and be a monument to the supremacy and righteousness of Jehovah…[all] those who desire to live and who love righteousness will now give heed to the admonition of the Lord and flee to that kingdom.” [58] The Watchtower then informs its readers in this publication by God’s organization that

“Armageddon is surely near, and during that time the Lord will clean off the earth all that is disagreeable. Then, by His grace we shall begin our life with a greater vision, and prolonged joy…From now on we shall have our heart devotion fixed on the THEOCRACY knowing that soon we shall journey forever together on the earth…We can well defer our marriage until lasting peace comes to the earth. Now we must add nothing to our burdens, but be free and equipped to serve the Lord…Eunice, my decision is made. I shall shun politics, religion, and commerce, and I shall avoid the cities…Our present duty is plain. We must now be witnesses to the name of Jehovah.” [59]

Eunice and John would now be in their 70’s, still waiting for Armageddon which in 1941 was prophesied to occur “very soon.” Witnesses who chance upon these older publications are often both angry and hurt at being deceived and betrayed. This leads to guilt, depression, often bitterness and even open anger. Witnesses who lived during the time when these things were written are likewise often bitter because they sacrificed enormously for what turned out to be, not just a false hope, but an open lie.

Those who are not part of the Watchtower often do not understand the critical significance Watchtower failed prophecy and erroneous teachings have in the lives of Witnesses. Watchtower publications are not simply books written by humans to try and explain scripture, but they are viewed as quasi inspired, a new Bible chapter that arrives each week. Witnesses are taught that no one except the very top Watchtower leaders can discern God’s will through Bible study alone. Only by being part of God’s organization, the Watchtower (which they teach is the ark of salvation), can one be saved. As the flood came and killed all of those who were not in the ark, likewise too, Armageddon will destroy forever all of those who are not in the Watchtower ark.

The key is not being saved in the Christian sense or even being good, but being in the Watchtower organization–although they also teach that even this does not guarantee salvation. Witnesses as a whole firmly believe–at least they must verbalize they firmly believe–that the Watchtower is God’s only organization and is directed by Him. For this reason, the many changed teachings–and hundreds of examples exist–are of no small importance. False prophecy vividly tells the Witness they devoted much of their life to a false religious organization. Dealing with this reality is enormously traumatic, can take years to adjust to and can bring on psychological as well as somatic symptoms. Those who have been in the organization only a short while are often not aware of the Watchtower’s history, but nagging doubts soon become greater and greater, often precipitating a “crisis of conscience” which forces the person to eventually leave the Watchtower.

And leaving is also no easy matter. When people become Witnesses, they are slowly indoctrinated into a belief structure which requires them to give up their friends — often even their family — and adopt a new family, that of the Watchtower. After they have been Witnesses for a few years, most all have only Witness friends. For many, especially those who were born into the Watchtower, their entire family and many relatives were also all Witnesses. Leaving often results in being disfellowshipped, which means that they will be forced to cut off all meaningful association with virtually every one of their friends, and often their family, if Witnesses. Consequently, many find leaving extremely traumatic even after they are fully convinced the Watchtower is wrong. For this reason many elect to stay, trudging along to Watchtower meetings and hearing and saying things that they themselves disagree with. Eventually, the conflict may become too great, and they conclude they must resign, giving up family, friends and their whole previous life.

Common are stories of children who left the Watchtower and as a result ended all communication between parents and the children. Many ex-Witnesses have told me they have never seen their grandchildren, and have not talked with their own children in decades, all because either the parents or the children have left the Watchtower. In one case, a kind man active in his church related that after he and his wife left the Watchtower 15 years ago neither one of their children have spoken to them since. They have even never once seen pictures of their four grandchildren. Their children have an unlisted number, and mail to them from their parents is marked “unwanted, return to sender.” When they tried to visit their sons home he called the police and had them forcefully removed from the porch. Attempts to obtain a court order to see their grandchildren have so far failed. These stories are common, especially because worldwide there are probably as many ex-Witnesses as active Witnesses. Even persons who are not baptized, if they no longer choose to associate with the Watchtower and speak out against it, are labeled “undesirable association” and are often completely cut off as if they were disfellowshipped.

When Witnesses read the earlier Watchtower publications, most agree that much which was once taught is absolute foolishness. The Watchtower’s “historical archives provide a seemingly inexhaustible pool of craziness, superficially written articles, and naive acceptance of formerly in vogue ideas.”[60] Clearly, one of the Watchtower’s problems is “their incredibly superficial research, and the fact that the attitude of ‘God directs us’ tends to cause laziness–why work hard if God directs the way. God will ensure that only what is true will be published…” [61]

The Watchtower’s Control Over Witnesses

In my twenty years as a Witness, I become acquainted with only a handful of Witnesses who were employed as mental therapists, and a couple even had their Ph.D.’s in psychology. As far as I know, most of them have left–although I am aware of three Witnesses in the United States who are licensed counselors. The reports that I have received about these individuals have been less than flattering. I recently received a copy of an agreement form which a Witness psychologist requires that all of his Witness patients sign before he will work with them. I understand he has a thriving practice doing therapy with Witnesses.

The Watchtower policy of requiring Witness professionals such as lawyers, doctors, or psychologists to report information to the elders relative to Watchtower defined wrong-doing has created much controversy. It is appalling that any licensed therapist would indulge in the highly unethical practice of using this agreement which requires them to “report” to the elders behavior in their patients the Watchtower considers wrong. Given the large number of offenses that the Watchtower disfellowships for, it is probably a rare psychiatric client that has not committed some of them. Having doubts about the Watchtower being God’s organization, complaints about the brothers and sisters, or even guilt about past sexual or moral behavior, are all very common among this population. People who seek out a counselor have problems, and in endeavoring to deal with them not uncommonly involve themselves in behavior which they later regret–drinking, unkindness or immorality are only a few examples. Further, many individuals who have doubts about the Watchtower end up with emotional turmoil which they often take to a therapist for help in dealing with.

This form almost guarantees that the client will not be free and open with a counselor–but rather will be extremely guarded, fearful that what they say will be used against them later. I cannot imagine a poorer situation to do counseling. A counselor is a person with which the client should feel fully free and open to reveal his or her most hidden thoughts, secrets, dreams, fears, and sins. The whole point of therapy is to lay bare one’s soul so that the therapist can work with clients to help them build a better life. The fear and guilt that such an arrangement as this engenders would almost guarantee that this did not occur. Of course, the client could elect to reveal damning information and face the consequences–a situation which in most cases is hardly very conducive to helping the person deal with his or her problems which are the basis for whatever sin may have occurred. Even if the committee elects not to disfellowship, the fear that one could be thrown out of the congregation and be rejected by one’s counselor during this difficult time can work against helping the client. The counselor is clearly saying with this statement that “you and your needs are not as important as strictly obeying the dictates of the Watchtower.” And, “if in the elders’ opinion you violate these dictates, I as your counselor, who once endeavored to unconditionally accept you and help you with your problems, will also toss you out, and will no longer help you.”

To refer patients to the elders, virtually none of whom have formal training in psychology, therapy or human behavior, is often a drastic mistake. When the writer suggested to a male Bethelite who was going through severe depression to talk to the elders, his response was “Do you think a janitor and a brush salesman are going to help me with my emotional problems?” As has been well documented, elders tend to feel that the solution to every problem is to pray, study more, and trust in Jehovah. Besides, they feel the guilt over whatever emotional problems one is suffering from are likely due to some sin or shortcoming on the victim’s part. In my experience, the elders often do more harm than good, which is what we would expect: putting people who have not only no training, but a false view of humanity and a distorted perception of reality in charge of an emotionally disturbed person could well be lethal–as it sometimes is.

4. The Watchtower prohibitions have reached into virtually every area of life and cover minutia to the extreme. They condemn all holidays and celebrations except one they call “the memorial,” and for generations have condemned higher education, all avocations, and even career advancement. Missing one of their required five meetings per week (Watchtower activities could take between 20 and 30 hours per week if one is conscientious) and spending time with non Witnesses except to proselytize were also condemned. As a result, it is very difficult for a child raised a Witness to develop into a normal, socially aware, well adjusted adult. They are taught that all of those of the world are evil, and even though worldly people may appear to be kind, this is one of Satan’s tactics to lure people out of God’s organization.

Witnesses are often fearful to read anything critical of the Watchtower. The Watchtower teaches Witnesses must have “nothing to do with” critics, and they “will not be curious about what such people have to say.”[62] When something critical is being shown on T.V. they often turn it off, no doubt with secret longings to hear what was said. Yet they routinely put themselves in the position of encountering opposition when they go from door to door–and from this experience often develop paranoia which may explain the fact that paranoia schizophrenia is extremely high among them. A major problem among both leaders and followers is their true believerism causes them to accept conclusions based on ignorance. As a wise person once said, beware of a man who has read only one book!

Prohibited from involving themselves in normal social relations and most all school activities, they often grow up lonely children. Although deviance among them is not uncommon, it none-the-less brings guilt and ambivalence. Their stand on many topics–especially condemning sports, refusing to salute the flag or celebrate the holidays–often also brings derision from their peers which typically acerbates normal social development.[63]

5. A major reason why so many Witnesses have mental health problems is because the Watchtower has issued few effective major guidelines to help them live their lives. Their main goal is to serve the Watchtower, and consequently they feel compelled to attend five usually boring meetings each week and involve themselves in the often unrewarding door-to-door proselytizing work. Although many households are polite but not interested, some are very rude. A Witness can spend years in the field service without detecting a single person who has a genuine interest in their message. Discouraged from many normal means of self fulfillment, they slavishly devote their time and energy to serving an organization which in fact does not care about them as individuals. Given little practical and realistic advise on to how to deal with life problems, discouraged from finding rewarding employment that is enjoyable and financially adequate, many feel they are trapped in a way of life in which virtually every alternative is undesirable. Many thus plod along for years, hoping that Armageddon will come soon to rescue them from their plight. In the mean time, their depression and hopelessness colors everything they do, even though they ostensibly may appear to be “happy serving Jehovah.”

The attractions which originally pulled many people to the Watchtower often do not last much beyond baptism. Their associates who were once very supportive and tolerant of their lack of doctrinal conformity soon insist that they rigidly teach and believe all Watchtower policy. They are now considered mature and must rigidly follow every whim of the Watchtower. No longer is celebrating birthdays “up to the individual,” but now is a disfellowshipping offense. Once they are trapped, the easy going tolerance which lured them into the Watchtower is no longer manifested. They are thus successfully pressured into doing things they had first resisted, sometimes tremendously. The hope of a New World just around the corner becomes more and more in the future until many wonder if this often delayed promise will ever come. Discouragement is an often repeated theme, both in the Watchtower literature and in discussions among Witnesses. They are constantly admonished to keep their chin up and focus on serving the Watchtower only, assuming that slavishly spending as much as thirty hours or more per week in Watchtower interests will solve their every problem. When it doesn’t, guilt often sets in, causing Witnesses to feel that they are evil and will not survive Armageddon. The depression and hopelessness not uncommonly leads to suicide, homicide or both.

Why do People Stay so Long?

Many sincerely believe that the WT is God’s organization -and that He is directing it. Even if things they do are wrong, such as their past erroneous teachings they are done for a purpose. No matter what good or bad they do, it is all part of God’s purpose. Others even feel that the past tragic teachings such as condemning vaccinations, organ transplants, and blood transfusions do not matter since loss of life is now somewhat like having to go on a long vacation–a faithful person will be resurrected anyway, thus what does it matter? A common reason many stay is because they have given their life to this organization– I did not marry, and am too old to begin a career, but have a reasonably good life (the Watchtower will take care of me if I am ill, sick, cannot work or whatever) thus I may as well stay involved in the Society. Many have a “crisis of conscience” and feel that they can no longer support an organization that they no longer believe in, but stay because of family. Many believe that “who knows whether the Watchtower is true or false–it’s background and history indicates that they are as good as any other religion, so why not stick with them? Of, course, the Watchtower stresses the worst in all other churches and only the best of themselves. Some of the leaders believe that they are specially anointed of God, and that God uses them only. These have a “Christ-like” position in the earth–somewhat like the Apostles or better.

The Way Out

Fortunately, some do find the way out. Many become agnostics or atheists, hating God and all attempts to understand and reach Him. Some are fortunate though, and through intensive Bible study come to realize that the Watchtower is based on a misunderstanding of the Bible and a misreading of many select “proof texts.” These persons realize a firm faith does exist that is not based on the shifting sands of a man made organization directed by individuals who are scripturally illiterate and ill informed about historical Christianity or even modern Biblical research. These people are able to look back at their experience in the Watchtower as one that can be used to help others. Many of them become involved in the various cult ministries and use their Watchtower expertise to help others find salvation in Him who is the only way, truth and light.

And the number of these are growing daily: the ex-Jehovahs Witness for Jesus Conference held annually in Pennsylvania attracts hundreds. Ministries to ex-Jehovahs Witnesses world wide now number in the thousands, and the number of high quality tapes, books and journals produced to help persons deal with the Watchtower tragedy is growing yearly. Dr. Walter Martin, one of the early pioneers of this movement, produced excellent literature to help those who were ensnared in the Watchtower find their way out. His Jehovah of the Watchtower, originally published in 1953, is now a classic. Since then, over three hundred books have been published which thoroughly document the Watchtower’s checkered history and the tragedy that it has brought to the lives of multi-millions of people.

Summary

The extant research, although some of it is dated, clearly shows that the mental illness rate among Witnesses is many times higher than among the non-Witness population. The Witnesses see their primary task as spreading their message and are generally little concerned with whether or not the mental illness rate is higher among them than the non-Witness population. Yet if they believe that the level is low, they will try to use this (and anything else they believe is favorable) as a drawing card. Frantic activity devoted to spreading the Watchtower “Word” before God destroys “this system of things” is foremost in their minds. Most Witnesses conclude that questioning something they know a priori to be true is a waste of time and counter productive. Most feel that the mental health of members is far less important than obedience to the Watchtower.

Self-report information finds that most Witnesses who leave consistently report that involvement in the Watchtower, while usually positive at first, in time often causes much emotional turmoil which increases to the point that they develop a serious approach-avoidance conflict. The positive aspects are such that for most Witnesses leaving is not easy, and typically causes inner turmoil for months or even years. After one has adjusted to the outside world, most all ex-Witnesses do not regret leaving and many conclude that their involvement seriously adversely affected their mental health. Admittedly, this retrospective assessment is somewhat distorted by the resentment many ex-members usually feel. Nonetheless, an examination of the many available case histories reveals a clear pattern of progressive mental health deterioration caused by the teachings, practices, and the environment that the Watchtower produces.

The Watchtower often shows little concern for those under their care. They are now a huge bureaucratic organization–their USA income alone was over $1,250,000,000. They have just completed a luxury complex in Patterson, New Jersey, own million dollar chandeliers and billions in real estate. A major concern now is their teachings that one should use whatever tactics are necessary to obtain finances to run their empire–a good example is the coercion of individuals to leave their money to the Watchtower Society under the guise that this will facilitate their achieving everlasting life (I am now aware of a dozen cases in this area).

NOTES

http://www.seanet.com/~raines/mental.html

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STARTING JANUARY 6

The How2BecomeAChristian.info RADIO SHOW will begin to air on BlogTalkRadio on January 6 at 10pm central. The show will be a mix of pre-recorded live shows and live call in shows. The show will feature interviews with well known Theologians and other professionals in various fields of Study. First up will be Ex-Word of Faith Preacher John Edwards from FaithPreacher.blogspot.com AND Christian Ufologist Guy Malone from alienresistance.org The shows will also do other things besides interviews. I will schedule ONE SHOW a month for people to air their grievances in a live format.

There is NOW a rough draft of a preview show with Pastor John in which I use audio from his video on his site, available for your listening (click the LOGO above). To let you know what to expect. The full and finished show will be finished and released in a few days. I will have MY INTERVIEW with pastor John coming in 1-2 weeks.

There will be 3 points of distribution for the How2BecomeAChristian.info RADIO SHOW and it’s Sister show OccultAgendaExposure.Info RADIO which will start sometimes in February.

1. BlogTalkRadio. The shows can be viewed and participated in at this URL http://www.blogtalkradio.com/How2BecomeAChristian The shows will also be available for download and listening there.

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3. ALL shows will be broadcast from a respective BLOGPOST for that show episode.

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GUEST WISHLIST:

Scheduled: Guy Malone, John Edwards

Almost Scheduled: Peter Goodgame, Stan Deyo, Patrick Hering, David lowe, john Edwards, Michael heiser, Bill scnoebelen, Dave Ruffino, Jim Wilhelson, Joe Jordan, David Flynn
Wishful yet hopeful: Justin peters, Sandy Simpson, Rick Ross, biblical truth for Mormons, Mormon curtain, 20 truths about Mormonism, Keith and Lorrie Macgragor, and their Trinitarian friend, Ed Decker, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at peering into the darkness, PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at shatter the darkness, Christ White No Where to Run from Revere Radio Network and Revelation Radio, Ron Rhodes: Reasoning from the Scriptures ministries, Sharon and Derrick Gilbert at Peering into the Darkness PID RADIO, Russ Disdar at Shatter the Darkness, Chris , James Spencer at Maze Ministry, Matt Slick at carm, Kirby Anderson Probe Ministries.

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How2BecomeAChristian (with a numeral 2) ministries is a Christian Apologetics Ministry primarily devoted to answering the question “How to become a Christian?” The ministry focuses on Christian essentials but also covers all non essential doctrines and issues concerning Christianity and religion in general. Including all non/Christian religions, aberrant Christian cults, the Occult, the New Age Movement and much more.

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Brigham Young Student Art Project Censored For Proving Existence of Gays
Posted by Lacy Hart 12/09/2008 09:56 AM

Gay people exist.

Does such a well-known fact offend you? Are you suddenly going into spastic convulsions whilst lamenting the thought that somewhere out there men and women exist who prefer companionship from someone of their own gender?

Well, if you’re a member of Brigham Young’s homosexuality-intolerant administration, chances are you’re already angrily pounding a response into the comment box below.

Last month, a BYU student named Michael unveiled his fine art portrait project on his blog.

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The premise:

These are some of the final images for my fine art photography project. These portraits are of students of BYU who identify themselves as homosexual and a person that supports them. With all of the dissenting views regarding this topic in the past few months I have felt very strongly about this project. The portraits will be shown in pairs. The idea is that there are gay and lesbian individuals not only in the Mormon culture, but also at BYU. I also chose to photograph someone who is a support to this person. This could be a family member or friend. This support person may also identify themselves as homosexual and both people may provide support to each other. I am not telling the viewer who identifies themselves as homosexual, because I hope the viewer will realize that placing a label with the portrait only creates divisions in our society and furthers stereotypes. It is my hope this body of work can be a vehicle for tolerance, support, love and change.

As it turns out, Michael’s project is “offensive,” because it proves that—gasp—homosexuality isn’t a myth and/or celebrates something that is considered deplorable by Mormons.

And so, the administration quietly pulled it from the display at the fine arts department.

I know it’s Brigham Young, so my expectations for this so-called institution of “higher learning” should be appropriately tempered, but…

What’s next, BYU? Censoring the yearbook pictures of students identified to be gay?

http://www.collegeotr.com/college_otr/brigham_young_student_art_project_censored_for_proving_existence_of_gays_16521

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Responding to Heresy: Five Biblical Principles for Confronting Heresy

Are We Afraid to Even Mention It?

In a culture that has a hard time accepting the notion that there are objective, transcendent truths about the nature of God, it’s sometimes hard to take a stand for what we believe without offending someone. And more and more, offense is being taken WITHIN the Christian community. Relativism has entered the Church with a roar, and ‘doctrine’ has become a dirty word. Many current theologians and Christian writers have come to reject the idea that ANY established doctrine of Christianity is objectively true. For these thinkers who have been profoundly affected by the culture around them, we traditionalists dare not take a stand for what has been believed and accepted for two millennia. For these post modern theologians, no truth is fixed or objectively true for all of us. Everything is up for negotiation:

“…the doctrine of the Trinity is still on the table. Some people, it seems to me, would like for us to no longer debate certain ‘sacred’ doctrines — the Trinity, the nature of Christ, the nature of scripture, the nature of marriage etc. And these persons tend to get very jumpy when emergent-types discuss these ‘sacrae doctrinae’, especially in books and at conferences that are being taped. ‘This is dangerous,’ they say. I say it’s dangerous to stop talking about these things, and it leads to a hegemony among those who already control the seminaries, colleges, magazines, radio stations, conferences, publishing houses, and magazines. We (Emergent Village) will continue to debate such things” (Tony Jones, from his Theoblogy Blog entry, “De Trinitate” – emphasis in the original).

It’s interesting to note that the effort to seek and uphold the ancient, objective, Biblical truth that is now seen as ‘hegemony’ (the desire of those in authority to dominate and exercise control over others). The pursuit and defense of truth is being seen as oppressive, not by unbelievers, but by FELLOW believers!

The Fight for What is Right

Christians today seem to have forgotten how important truth was to Jesus and to the first believers. Many current thinkers actually feel like it is divisive for us to take a stand for truth at all, and they certainly don’t like it when they are publicly rebuked for holding a position that might be called ‘un-Biblical”. But let’s try to remember that both John the Baptist and Jesus were quick to point out the false teaching of those around them, and they did so with a pointed and biting manner. Take for example, John’s biting condemnation of the Pharisees he addressed on the shore of the Jordan River:

Matthew 3:7-9
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,’ We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”

That sounds pretty bold to me. John certainly had no problem calling people out for their beliefs. Was he being Godly? Was He following the Biblical Model? Well one thing is certain: he was behaving in a manner that was consistent with the Lord. Look at how Jesus addressed the same group:

Matthew 12:34
“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”

Both John and Jesus had no problem addressing false teaching and addressing false teachers. Perhaps there is something that we can learn about the importance of identifying what is true and addressing what is false.

Five Biblical Principles for Dealing with Heresy

Let’s look at several Biblical principles that can help us understand how we can and SHOULD address error. These are principles that are meant to guide Christians as they confront heresy. If we abide by these principles, no Christian brother or sister can ever accuse us of acting in an ungodly way. And conversely, if we see others refusing to abide by these principles, they are clearly not behaving as God would have them behave:

We Should Call Out the Teacher By Name!

We simply MUST identify those who are teaching error. Paul certainly had no problem doing this and he instructed those who followed him to do the very same thing. In these passages written to Timothy in Paul’s ‘pastoral’ letter, note that Paul does NOT hesitate to name names. He PUBLICLY identifies false teachers and ungodly men so that others can be warned:

2 Timothy 4:9-10
Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica

2 Timothy 1:15
You are aware of the fact that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.

1 Timothy 1:18-20
This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered over to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

We too are called to (1) Identify false ideas, and (2) Publicly expose those who are either living by or teaching others these ideas.

We Should Describe the Teaching!

We also need to be very articulate about WHAT it is that is false in the teaching of these false teachers. We need to take the time to describe the error. Paul also did this, even as he named the false teachers by name:

2 Timothy 2:16-18
But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and thus they upset the faith of some.

We too are called to (1) Know the truth well enough to see the lie coming, and (2) Describe the lie to others so that they can be warned.

We Should Do All We Can to Silence the Teacher!

In some ways the first two principles seem rather defensive, particularly when compared to the next set of principles which are a bit more aggressive and proactive when dealing with error. Paul asked his followers to do their best to stop false teaching by SILENCING the false teachers and DENYING them a platform from which to teach!

Titus 1:10-11
For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.

2 John 9-11
Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.

We too are called to (1) Understand how false teaching impacts believers and their families, (2) Recognize the worldly motives of false teachers, and then (3) Do all we can to silence these teachers and keep them from having the opportunity to spread the lie.

We Should Refute the Heresy!

But what do we do about those who have already gained a foothold in the Christian community teaching false ideas and doctrines? How are we to respond once the error has already started to permeate the Church? Paul tells his followers that they are to REFUTE the lies. They are to identify and demonstrate WHY the false teaching is false, and then REPLACE this false teaching with the truth, and they are to do this in an emphatic and strong manner:

Titus 1:7-9
Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless-not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

Titus 1:13
This testimony is true. For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith…

We too are called to (1) Identify doctrinal errors and describe their false nature, (2) Strongly correct teachers who teach this kind of error, and (3) Replace the errors by describing the Biblical truth of the orthodox Christian Worldview.

We Should Avoid Those Who Continue to Follow or Teach the Lies

Even though we may make a dedicated effort to identify, call out, and refute false teaching and false teachers, many may still decide to follow lies, particularly if some worldly desire can be satisfied by accepting a lie. How are we to live in regards to people who either teach falsely or live according to false views? Well, according to Paul, we are to avoid people like this:

Ephesians 5:11-14
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.

Romans 16:17-18
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

2 Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

Titus 3:10-11
Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

We too are called to (1) Avoid those who have embraced false teaching, and (2) Warn and ultimately reject those who are false teachers. Paul is pretty clear about how we are to treat those who are living according to false teaching. We are not to try to make peace with or embrace this kind of person or teaching. God calls us to separate from people who say they are Christians, but are following false teaching. That’s pretty severe, but it is what God clearly calls us to do if we are to take the words of Scripture seriously.

The Truth Matters to God

It sure sounds like God is calling us to be very careful about the truth that the Bible teaches. It sure sounds like God is calling us to study the truth, then set careful boundaries around this truth so we will know when someone has crossed over a boundary into a lie or false teaching. It sure sounds like God is then calling us to deal strongly with those who are leading others astray. Why would God call us to be so harsh and judgmental? Why would God call us to take a stand for truth as if truth was NOT relative to the holder but existed objectively, transcending all of us?

God calls his children to study, understand and DEFEND the truth because the truth DOES matter to God. Faith, in and of itself, is not what God is looking for. We need to understand that. Faith is NOT, in and of itself, valuable or capable of saving us. It’s not enough to be sincere or intense. Faith, in and of itself, has no magic power. It’s faith in the TRUTH that matters to God. It’s faith that has been placed in the correct and true God of the universe that matters to God. That’s why God is so particular and calls us to have an accurate understanding of who God is. And that’s why God has called us to treat heresy very seriously.

http://www.pleaseconvinceme.com/index/The_Biblical_Response_to_Heresy

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Demonic Names in the Book of Mormon

While I was studying some points of interest in Masonry, I came across some names within their books that sounded familiar to me. The familiarity became abundantly clear when I opened the Book of Mormon. I began researching some of the names in the Book of Mormon and their meanings. I compared them with the Bible, bible dictionaries and even Webster’s dictionary.

I found 57 names of people and places that are demonic or names of false gods and their derivatives, however I have chosen to narrow this down to three names that I thought was most relevant.

Someone mentioned to me in a recent letter to Saints Alive that what I see as wrong or demonic is not necessarily demonic to that person. We need to take a firm stand against this rationalization. Truth is not relative. The following names of places and/or people are demonic or ungodly and the LDS Church has twisted their meanings into something other than what they truly are.

Ammonites-

Biblical meaning of people: These were a nomadic people that were descendants of Lot’s incestuous relationship with his youngest daughter. Genesis 19:38: ‘And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day’. According to Unger’s Dictionary of the Bible, the Ammonite’s deity was Molech.

Book of Mormon’s definition of Ammonites: They observed the laws of Moses and looked forward to the coming of Christ. Alma 25:15-16. Their origin is actually from the Lamanites; Alma 24:17-8.

Mulek

Biblical meaning: This is a derivative of Molech. In Leviticus 18:21 it says; ‘And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD’. Molek is found in Strong’s Concordance and in Hebrew it means the chief deity (king) of the Ammonites. #4427-4432 gives the definitions and derivatives of this name.

Book of Mormon’s definition: Mulek was land in the north that God prospered and appointed. Mulek was a son of Zedekiah. Helaman 6:10.

Sidon

Biblical meaning: This is a land that was possessed by the Cannanite cults. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. Their goddess was Ashtoreth. 1 Kings 11:5. They brought nothing but misery to Israel. Jesus referred to the iniquities of the Sidonians in Matthew 11:21-3; ‘Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you’.

Book of Mormon’s definition: In 84 BC, Alma began baptizing the people in the river of Sidon. Alma 4:4. Sidon was also the river where the Nephites defeated the Amlicites & the Lamanites. Alma threw their bodies from the banks into the river so that they could cross to the other side. Alma 2:17, 27, 34-5. It says that the land where Sidon was became peaceful and prosperous.

In the book, Discourses of Brigham Young on page 257, he states; ‘I hope to see the time when we shall have a reformation in the orthography of the English language, among this people, for it is greatly needed. Such a reformation would be a great benefit, and would make the acquirement of an education much easier than at present’.

It’s obvious that this is exactly what they have done. Read, study, decipher what words and their origins mean. It is vital that we understand what we read and not take it for granted that what we read is always true. The only book that we can take for face value is the Bible.

I ask that you join me in prayer for the Mormons. I am praying Isaiah chapter 61 for them. And remember what it says in 2 Timothy 3:16; ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness’. With Love in Christ; Michelle

http://www.lifeafter.org/demonic_names.asp

More Demonic and Ungodly Names in the Book of Mormon

Over five years ago I wrote an article entitled ‘Demonic and Ungodly Names in the Book of Mormon’. Since then I have been asked by numerous people to write more on this particular subject so here it is! Back by popular demand I went through my old notes and found some other names that I think would be of interest to the Mormon and non-Mormon alike. There were more than 50 names of people and/or places that contradict what the Biblical accounts report. Here are just a few of them.

Chemish

The name of Chemish so closely resembles the name of Chemosh from the Bible that it is hard to ignore. In Mormonism the name Chemish belongs to the brother of Ameleki. These two brothers and others were responsible for writing the book of Omni in the Book of Mormon. The official LDS website search engine says this about Chemish:

“The book of Omni: A book translated from the small plates of Nephi in the Book of Mormon. The book has only a single chapter, which contains an account of the wars among the Nephites and Lamanites. Omni wrote only the first three verses of the book. The plates were then passed in turn to Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and finally Amaleki. And it came to pass that I did deliver the plates unto my brother Chemish. He delivered the plates to King Benjamin, king of Zarahemla…”

In the introduction of the book of Omni it states:

“Comprising records kept by Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki – Mosiah, leaving the land of Zarahemla, occupied by another colony from Jerusalem”.

It is evident from the writings in the Book of Mormon that they believe Chemish to be an honorable man, worthy of writing their ‘scripture’ and worthy enough to be listened to.

What is interesting to note in this however, is what the real meaning of Chemosh translates into. From the Jerusalem Publishing House Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible, it says Chemosh is:

“The principle god of the Moabites who were also known as the “people of Chemosh” (Num. 21:29). He may have been the god to whom Mesha king of Moab sacrificed his son (II Kings 3:27)….Solomon tried to please his foreign wives by setting an altar to Chemosh “on the hill that is east of Jerusalem” (I Kings 11:7), thus incurring the wrath of the Lord (I Kings 11:33).”

Once again we see yet another of the Mormon ‘good boys’ that has a questionable name. It seems that the theme is the same as the last time I wrote on the ungodly names of the Book of Mormon. The theme: sex. The Moabites are the descendants of Lot who came from an incestuous relationship with one of his daughters.

Jared

This story is interesting because it shows two different accounts of what God did with the people involved with the tower of Babel. It seems that God is a god of confusion with his people if you believe the Mormon version.

As it turns out, Jared and his family are the only ones in the whole world that didn’t have his language confounded when God scattered the people at the time of the tower of Babel. After Jared told his brother to pray to the Lord to not confound their language, they somehow miraculously realized that God heard the brother of Jared’s cry. It’s also interesting to note that Jared’s brother never seems to have his own name.

Joseph Smith claims the people that descended from Jared are called the Jaredites. The Jaredites had grown to become a great god-fearing nation which moved to the Americas, thus the Book of Mormon. After many generations and hundreds of years they were destroyed by civil wars from caused from the disobedience unto the Lord.

Ether 1:33-4 says; ‘Which Jared came forth with his brother and their families, with some others and their families, from the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered. And the brother of Jared being a large and mighty man, and a man highly favored of the Lord, Jared, his brother, said unto him: Cry unto the Lord, that he will not confound us that we may not understand our words.’

Verse 35 tells us that their language wasn’t confounded. Then they prayed that even their friends’ language wouldn’t be confounded and theirs was spared as well. The Bible has always told us two things for sure:

God is not the author of confusion. 1 Corinthian 14:33 says; ‘For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.’ And then in Acts 10:34 we have Peter telling us that God is no respecter of persons.

With these two simple things in mind why would God decide that the rules were different for some and not all? What was so different about Jared and his non-named brother that they and their friends didn’t have the same treatment?

The story of the tower of Babel can be found in Gen. 11. Verse nine says; ‘Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of ALL the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth’.

Did you notice what it said in Ether 1:33? Let’s take a look at it again! It says; ‘…at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered.’

Two more things come to mind when I read this passage. 1-God can’t be trusted. If God ‘swore in his wrath’ that they would be scattered and he confounded the language then went back on what he said, it’s likely that he could be bought off the next time I sinned.

2-Did he or did he not confound the language? If he confounded the languages and then Jared’s brother started praying, did God have to give them back their languages? Call me picky but I think that knowing the God I worship is a serious business and I want to make sure I know it intimately!

Amaleki

This has to be one of the most confusing things I have ever had to study in Mormonism. There are two Amaleki’s mentioned in the Book of Mormon. What I originally wanted to point out are the disparities between the Amalekites of the Bible and the ones mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but alas that wasn’t all I found! Here are the characters in the Book of Mormon, their ‘jobs’ and the Amalekite people:

Amaleki #1 is described as a Nephite record keeper’ who died circa 130 BC, according to LDS.org. He was the 5th person to help author the book of Omni in the Book of Mormon. You can read his account in Omni 1:12-30 as he calls people to Christ (keep in mind it’s 130 BC), his handing over of the plates to King Benjamin (not the same King Benjamin as in the Bible) and the expedition to the land of Nephi.

Amleki #2 is one of the three brothers of Ammon. They were part of Zeniff’s group. They wanted to travel to the land of Nephi-Lehi from Zarahemla and ended up traveling in the desert for 40 days. They finally came upon a hill north of Shilom, pitched their tents and hiked it down to the land of Nephi. The four brothers were imprisoned by King Limhi but eventually freed when they explained that they were descendants of Zarahemla. This story can be found in Mosiah 7:6, it is said that this transpired circa 121 BC.

The Amalekites however are another story, there was nothing godly about these people, they were not the godly men great scholars that Amaleki #1 & #2 were. The Amalekites were a people that were apostates, originating from the Nephites. The Amalekites helped build a city called Jerusalem (Alma 21:2), their hearts were harder than the Lamanites (Alma 21:3) and were preached to by Aaron in their own synagogues (Alma 21:4). They were said to be from the order of Nehor. The Nehors were people who intentionally preached something other than the word of God. This all took place circa 90 BC as Aaron went to the sanctuaries to preach the scriptures of the crucified Lord Jesus. As the story progresses it talks of how Ammon even went out to preach in the synagogues in the land of Ishmael.

Now I could go on and on about the time-line part of preaching Jesus crucified and it still being 130 BC but bear with me here as I try to ignore that part of the story. Smith has made it hard to believe that anyone called by the name of Amaleki or its derivatives could be anything but horrible.

The Biblical accounts of the Amalekites spans from the book of Genesis to 1 Chronicles 4:43. Let’s see what the Bible says about them and why no mention of them is found after that. ‘And they [Israelites] smote the rest of the Amalekites that were escaped, and dwelt there unto this day’. So it seems that there weren’t any Amalekites after this battle! How then did they make it all the way over the waters of the Atlantic ocean and survive being annihilated as well?

When I read the accounts of these people the stories are far too similar. I am also taken aback that anyone who is considered to be a ‘holy’ mouthpiece for the Almighty God would be touting a name such as Amaleki. Amalek is considered to be a descendant of Esau. They were the very first people who fought with Israel after they crossed the Red Sea! This is rather significant in the whole matter!

The Amalekites were a thorn in the side of Israel. They first met up with them in the region near Sinai, when Amalek tried to prevent the entrance of a new tribe into their region. Ex. 17:8-16. In the period of the Judges they aided the Moabites in raiding Israel and at a later time they even helped the Midianites to do the same thing, Judges 6:3.

The Illustrated Concordance and Dictionary of the Bible from G.G. The Jerusalem Publishing House LTD says this about the Amalekites; ‘Archeological surveys have shown that the kings of Judah strengthened their hold in the Negeb from the 10th Century B.C. and this led to the decline and disappearance of the Amalekites.’

There is also a problem here with who was preaching to whom. Why were the Amalekites being preached to by Ammon in the land of Ishmael? I have already established who Ammon was in my last article. The Mormons believe that he observed the laws of Moses. (Alma 25:15-6). The Bible says they [Ammonites] were a nomadic people who were descendants of Lot. Ammon’s deity was Molech. (Gen. 19:38).

My question is this; why was this ‘good prophet’ in the Book of Mormon out preaching to the Amalekites when in the Bible the Ammonites were bowing to Ba’al? Wouldn’t that mean that the Amalekites were getting another gospel?

http://www.lifeafter.org/demonic_names2.asp

For more information on Mormon beliefs, please go to www.lifeafter.org

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Wacky Mormons Love to Baptize Dead Jews

The controversy over LDS posthumous baptisms continues. See, the Mormons have this thing in which they offer salvation to the dead by performing rites that “baptize” them in absentia, giving even us backward Jews a glimpse at heaven. Thanks, guys!

All kinds of celebrity figures, including Adolf Hitler and Irving Berlin, have been included in these rituals, as well as the ancestors of Mormon converts, and muy controversially, many victims of the Holocaust. Starting in 1995, Jewish groups began meeting with the LDS, attempting to explain why the practice was offensive to them. They attempted to communicate that these people died as a result of their identity as Jews, and that the practice tarnished the memory of what they died for and what their deaths mean.

Last Monday, Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the (deep breath) American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, walked out of negotiations with the LDS, charging that the Mormons were not doing enough to prevent this continuing practice. Meanwhile, William Tumpowsky, the head of Utah’s UJF, is determined to make this shit work, and will continue discussions.

The truly amazing part of the whole thing is that after 13 years of discussion, the two groups have achieved a level of communication approaching zero. The LDS representatives and many Mormon people (check the comments under Deseret News’ coverage) still seem to have no idea why this is offensive to Jewish people. They just can’t understand why, if the survivor groups do not believe in their religion, they would care. (Yeah, why?) And also, they don’t get why Jews don’t appreciate that they are doing it out of LOVE for our dead. Urm.

The AGHSD, (easier) the Simon Wiesenthal Center, (fun fact: Wiesenthal himself, apparently was vicariously baptized after his death) and other groups that protest the practice, make a lot of demands, and do things like walk out of meetings, and yell at the nice Mormons, who smile at them and then turn and whisper to each other: “Do you know what he’s talking about?” The LDS reps claim that they have already removed over 200,000 Holocaust victims from their roles, and just can’t get why these good Jewish folk are so durned angry. And on it goes.

AP’s coverage here.

http://www.heebmagazine.com/blog/view/1170/1

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Mormon Exaltation (eternal progression), Theosis, Apotheosis, and INTENTIONAL MORMON DECIET By Damon Whitsell

Spend some time researching Mormonism and you will eventually run into the Mormon argument that says, “early Christianity and eastern orthodoxy believe in Theosis so therefore Mormonism must be true Christianity”.

I had a Mormon that runs a blog @ http://mormonsarechristian.blogspot.com/ comment on a post at this blog.

After I unravel the deception in his comments, I will give you a link that shows MAC, (Mormons are Christian) already knew that what Mormons call “Theosis” is not what any Christian has ever called Theosis.

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Here is his comment

The Trinity:

A literal reading of the New Testament points to God and Jesus Christ , His Son , being separate , divine beings , united in purpose. . To whom was Jesus praying in Gethsemane, and Who was speaking to Him and his apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration? The Nicene Creed’s definition of the Trinity was influenced by scribes translating the Greek manuscripts into Latin. The scribes embellished on a passage explaining the Trinity , which is the Catholic and Protestant belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The oldest versions of the epistle of 1 John, read: “There are three that bear witness: the Spirit, the water and the blood and these three are one.” Scribes later added “the Father, the Word and the Spirit,” and it remained in the epistle when it was translated into English for the King James Version, according to Dr. Bart Ehrman, Chairman of the Religion Department at UNC- Chapel Hill. He no longer believes in the Nicene Trinity. . Scholars agree that Early Christians believed in an embodied God; it was neo-Platonist influences that later turned Him into a disembodied Spirit. Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) views the Trinity as three separate divine beings , in accord with the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts.

Theosis

Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans, was also part of Early Christian belief. St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.” Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: “we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods” Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: “all men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods,’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest” Clement of Alexandria explained “Saints . . pure in heart . . are destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior.” The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: “He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him,” (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988) The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) agrees with Early Christian church leaders regarding theosis.

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I will gloss over MAC’s Trinity paragraph with just a few observations I don’t know any Christians that use 1John 5:7 as a proof text for the trinity.

Many of MAC’s trinity arguments are the same as ONENESS Pentecostals. Who was Jesus praying too and who was Jesus talking too?? That is simple. The Father. A proper understanding of “Tri-Unity” of the Godhead dispels this misunderstanding. While God is 1, He is also 3.

WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER TAKE A MORMON FOR HIS WORD?
MAC says, “Harper’s Bible Dictionary entry on the Trinity says “the formal doctrine of the Trinity as it was defined by the great church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries is not to be found in the New Testament.” “

MAC conveniently (and dishonestly) quotes the first sentence of the final paragraph of this dictionary entry. Here is the rest of the paragraph:

“Nevertheless, the discussion above and especially the presence of trinitarian formulas in 2 Cor. 13:14 (which is strikingly early) and Matt. 28:19 indicate that the origin of this mode of thought may be found very early in Christian history.”

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SO WHAT IS THEOSIS 

Actually MAC gives a pretty good definition of Theosis in saying that Theosis is “Divinization, narrowing the space between God and humans”. Although a little ambiguous in that at first glance “divinization” would seem to mean “becoming a God”, it does not as the following reference will show. But the later part “narrowing the space between God and humans” is a real good definition.

BUT NOTICE The bait and switch technique, There is a vast difference in between “narrowing the space between” and “becoming” Gods,, as expressed in his “out of context“ Church Father quotes. . Lets look at these references.

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Theosis

 (“deification,” “divinization”) is the process of a worshiper becoming free of hamártía (“missing the mark”), being united with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in bodily resurrection. For Orthodox Christians, Théōsis (see 2 Pet. 1:4) is salvation. Théōsis assumes that humans from the beginning are made to share in the Life or Nature of the all-holy Trinity. Therefore, an infant or an adult worshiper is saved from the state of unholiness (hamartía — which is not to be confused with hamártēma “sin”) for participation in the Life (zōé, not simply bíos) of the Trinity — which is everlasting.

This is not to be confused with the heretical (apotheosis) (1) – “Deification in God’s Essence“, which is imparticipable.
(1) Apotheosis (from Greek “to deify”), deification or divinization is the glorification of an individual to a divine level. 
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Deification in MORMONISM
The doctrine of theosis or deification in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs significantly from the theosis of Orthodox Christianity. In Mormonism it is usually referred to as exaltation or eternal life. While the primary focus of Mormonism is on the atonement of Jesus Christ, the reason for the atonement is exaltation which goes beyond mere salvation. All men will be saved from sin and death, but only those who are sufficiently obedient and accept the atonement of Jesus Christ before the judgment will be exalted. One popular Mormon quote, coined by the early Mormon “disciple” Lorenzo Snow in 1837, is “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.”[2] The teaching was taught first by Joseph Smith while pointing to John 5:19 of the New Testament, “God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-46).

Some Mormons also suggest that discussions of theosis by early Church Fathers show an early belief in the Mormon concept of deification, although they disagree with much of the other theology of the same Church fathers, most notably the doctrine of the Trinity.

The Mormons’ belief differs with the Orthodox belief in deification because the Latter-Day Saints believe that the core being of each individual, the “intelligence” which existed before becoming a spirit son or daughter, is uncreated or eternal. Orthodox deification always acknowledges a timeless Creator versus a finite creature who has been glorified by the grace of God. The Mormons are clear promoters of henotheism (2), and the Church Fathers have absolutely no commonality with their view.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Theosis

(2) Henotheism (Greek εἷς θεός heis theos “one god”) is a term coined by Max Müller, to mean devotion to a single god while accepting the existence or possible existence of other deities.[1]

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As we see from this ORTHODOXwiki reference, Mormon exaltation is not Christian Theosis but rather Apotheosis and Henotheism. Christian Theosis has to do with becoming more God like, NOT becoming God.

Theosis in the Eastern Orthodox and the protestant sense means to be sanctified, set apart and becoming “holy”. The protestant form of Theosis is expressed by saying that as Christians, we are saved by grace through faith, FROM BOTH the penalty of sin, and the power of sin. We simply do not have to be a slave to sin any longer and through adoption as sons, we may partake in the nature of God if we “walk in the Spirit”. This does not mean however that we become like God ontologically or in position. In contrast, when Jesus says he and His Father are ONE, he is saying he and the father are ONE BEING.

Theosis in eastern orthodox and the early church fathers view was,” salvation from unholiness by participation in the life of God.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosis

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BUT WHAT ABOUT MAC’S QUOTES?? Don’t they show early church father believed in Theosis in the way Mormons do? NO THEY DO NOT.

MAC, other Mormons, and cult mebers in general will quote Pre-Nicene Church Fathers out of context to support their heretical doctrines.

MAC says “St. Athanasius of Alexandria (Eastern Orthodox) wrote, regarding theosis, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God.”

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The statement by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, “The Son of God became man, that we might become God”, indicates the concept beautifully. II Peter 1:4 says that we have become ” . . . partakers of divine nature.” Athanasius amplifies the meaning of this verse when he says theosis is “becoming by grace what God is by nature” (De Incarnatione, I). What would otherwise seem absurd, that fallen, sinful man may become holy as God is holy, has been made possible through Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate. Naturally, the crucial Christian assertion, that God is One, sets an absolute limit on the meaning of theosis – it is not possible for any created being to become, ontologically, God or even another god.

http://orthodoxwiki.org/Theosis

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CONVENIENTLY MAC fails to tell that Athanasius himself clarified this very thing in his third treatise against the Arians: “To become as the Father is impossible for us creatures.” http://www.archive.org/stream/selecttreatises00newmuoft/selecttreatises00newmuoft_djvu.txt

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So Then MAC quotes a few more Fathers. Lets see if his quoting is faithful to what the Fathers intent was, OR do Mormons intentionally use selective and targeted out of context quoting practices.? The responses to MAC’s quotations are in BLUE

The following quotes come from this post on this blog which contains many quotes showing church fathers did not believe Mormon doctrine.

Did The Early Church Believe Mormon Teac

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.” Irenaeus wrote in the late 2nd Century: “we have not been made gods from the beginning, but at first merely men, then at length gods”

Irenaeus Against Heresies, (A.D. 190) 1:10:1
For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the Apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, Father almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them…
.
Ibid., 1:22:1
We hold, however, the rule of truth, according to which there is one almighty God, who formed all things through His Word, and fashioned and made all things which exist out of that which did not exist….
Ibid., 2:1:1
Nor is He moved by anyone; rather, freely and by His Word He made all things. For He alone is God, He alone is Lord, He alone is Creator, He alone is Father, He alone contains all and commands all to exist.
Ibid., 2:11:1

It is easy to demonstrate from the very words of the Lord that He acknowledges one Father, Creator of the world and Fashioner of man, who was proclaimed by the Law and by the Prophets; and that He knows no other, this being God over all.

Ibid., 2:30:9

Of His own accord and by His own power He made all things and arranged and perfected them; and His will is the substance of all things. He alone, then, is found to be God; He alone is omnipotent, who made all things; He alone is Father, who founded and formed all things, visible and invisible, sensible and insensate, heavenly and earthly, by the Word of His Power.

Ibid., 2:34:2

…let them learn that to be without beginning and without end, to be truly and always the same, and to remain ever without change, belongs to God alone, who is Lord of all. All things, however, which are from Him, all that have been made and which will be made, receive each their own beginning of existence; and inasmuch as they are not unbegotten, in this way they are inferior to Him who made them. They perdure, however, and continue through a length of ages, according to the will of God their Maker; for indeed, He makes them to be in the beginning, and afterwards gives them continuance.

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Justin Martyr in mid 2nd Century said: “all men are deemed worthy of becoming ‘gods,’ and of having power to become sons of the Highest”

Justin, Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (A.D. 155), 5
For whatever things exist after God or will at anytime exist, have a corruptible nature, and are such as may be blotted out and no longer exist. God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, which is why He is God. Everything else after Him is produced and corruptible. 

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MAC next two quotes will be in red.

Clement of Alexandria explained “Saints . . pure in heart . . are destined to sit on thrones with the other gods that have been first put in their places by the Savior.” 
I could not find any specific quotes of Clement on the nature of God BUT this wikipedia article will shed some light on MAC’s assertion that Clement taught men can become Gods.
Saint Clement of Alexandria 
He united Greek philosophical traditions with Christian doctrine and valued gnosis that with communion for all people could be held by common Christians specially chosen by God.[citation needed] He used the term “gnostic” for Christians who had attained the deeper teaching of the Logos.[1] He developed a Christian Platonism.[2] He presented the goal of Christian life as deification, identified both as Platonism’s assimilation into God and the biblical imitation of God.[1]

Like Origen, he arose from Alexandria’s Catechetical School and was well versed in pagan literature.[2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_of_Alexandria 

Notice that Mormon and Christian differences on the concept of Theosis can be seen in these statements here. He presented the goal of Christian life as deification, identified both as Platonism’s assimilation into God and the biblical imitation of God.[1]

The idea of IMITATION, thus theosis, of God is biblical ,,,, verses, Plato’s’ idea of “assimilation INTO God” which is UNBIBLICAL and from PLATO. 

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The Gospel of Thomas (which pre-dates the 4 Gospels, but was considered non-canonical by the Nicene Council) quotes the Savior: “He who will drink from my mouth will become as I am: I myself shall become he, and the things that are hidden will be revealed to him,” (Gospel of Thomas 50, 28-30, Nag Hammadi Library in English, J.M.Robinson, 1st ed 1977; 3rd ed. 1988)

Well Quoting from a Gnostic Gospel just shows how desperate Mormons are to validate their heretical and damnable doctrine of exaltation. We have Greek manuscripts of the 4 gospels that go back to 50 – 60 ad. The Gospel of Thomas dates around 90 ad. My Mormon uncle liked the Davinci code very much. I guess MAN and all Mormons do.

As with the early church fathers, Mormons will accept what lines up with their preconceptions, But will deny the fundamental tenants of Gnosticism and the Gnostic gospels, just to try and say they are not the only ones who believe that men can become Gods. Actually all occultist think they can become God. Google “occult secret doctrine” and see that Satan has been telling the same old lie that he told in the garden, that men can become gods. BUT the occultist believe Genesis 3:22 and the Luciferian doctrine that occultist draw from it.

Gnostisism denies the reality of ALL MATTER and believe it is an illusion. According to Gnosticism, There are really no humans, mush less any man exalted to Godhood with a physical body that will have physical sex to populate his own physical planet.

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SO HERE IS THE INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE AGAINST MAC
Don’t be deceived into thinking he is the only Mormon to use intentional deception. I found this Mormon blogpost http://heartissuesforlds.wordpress.com/2008/10/25/reynolds-on-orthodox-theosis-at-the-nsdc-ii/ in which MAC has commented. Here is the Content of the post. KEEP IN MIND This is a Mormon blog. It shows MAC was lying intentionally.

Reynolds on Orthodox theosis at the NSDC II

October 25, 2008 by Todd Wood Reynolds per Aaron this afternoon, live from Utah:

“The Orthodox notion of theosis is not what some Mormons say it is. It historically refers to imitating God’s energies or becoming like the incarnate Christ, but explicitly reject the idea that we can become like God’s essence”

This is coming from a Mormon AND,,, THE VERY FIRST comment from a Mormon after that typically expresses the popular Mormon Notion. Johndh “I’m aware that the orthodox concept of theosis is different from mine. It doesn’t bug me.”

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MR, “Mormons are Christian” and all other Mormons, IT IS NOT ONLY YOUR DOCTRINE that offends Christians and cause us to say Mormons are not Christian. IT IS ALSO the underhanded tactics you all use in arguing your positions. MAC, you knew full well that the Mormon Concept of THEOSIS is NOT what church fathers believed. But Still yet you come to this blog to post your intentional deception.

As we say in the south SHAME ON YA’LL. =========================================================

Here are some related post on this blog.

Did The Early Church Believe Mormon Teac

Mormon Missionaries Instructed in the Ar

HOW ANCIENT IS THE TRINITY DOCTRINE?

Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults

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AMENDMENT TO THIS BLOG Since making this blog, the owner of the Mormon blog I referenced, contacted me to inform me that he is NOT A MORMON but rather a Baptist pastor. So I was wrong in the context of my statement that MAC deliberately used deception. Although this does slightly diminish the truthfulness of my statement. It does not change the fact that MAC was still propagating his false Mormon rhetoric of “early Christians believed in Theosis in the same way Mormons do”,,,, in light of the fact that he knew there is an answer for that in the content of the post in which he commented. .

The definitions from the OthrodoxWiki shows conclusively that Mormons do not practice Theosis,,,, but apotheosis and henotheism.

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Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults
by James Sire

In debating and discussions with non-Christians such as Mormons or atheist, I have found many areas of twisting of the Scriptures. In the book “Scripture Twisting,” James Sire has a chapter devoted to each of the methods, and I have seen them ALL used from time to time.

1. INACCURATE QUOTATION: A biblical text is referred to but is either not quoted in the way the text appears in any standard translation or is wrongly attributed. Example: The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says, “Christ said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.'” Whereas this text is found ONLY in Psalms.

2. TWISTED TRANSLATION: The biblical text is retranslated, not in accordance with sound Greek scholarship, to fit a preconceived teaching of a cult. Example: the Jehovah’s Witnesses translate John 1:1 as “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the word was a god.”

3. BIBLICAL HOOK: A text of Scripture is quoted primarily as a device to grasp the attention of readers or listeners and then followed by a teaching which is so nonbiblical that it would appear far more dubious to most people had it not been preceded by a reference to Scripture. Example: Mormon missionaries quote James 1:5 which promises God’s wisdom to those who ask him and, then, follow this by explaining that when Joseph Smith did this he was given a revelation from which he concluded that God the Father has a body.

4. IGNORING THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT: A text of Scripture is quoted but removed from the surrounding verses which form the immediate framework for its meaning. Example: Alan Watts quotes the first half of John 5:39 (“You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life”), claiming that Jesus was challenging His listeners’ over emphasis of the Old Testament, but the remainder of the immediate context reads, “and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (verses 39-40), which shows that Jesus was upholding the value of the Old Testament as a testimony to Himself.

5. COLLAPSING CONTEXTS: Two or more verses which have little or nothing to do with each other are put together as if one were a commentary of the other(s). Example: The Mormons associate Jeremiah 1:5 with John 1:2,14 and thus imply that both verses talk about the premortal existence of all human beings; Jeremiah 1:5, however, speaks of God’s foreknowledge of Jeremiah (Not his premortal existence) and JOhn 1:2 refers to the pre-existence of God the Son and not to human beings in general.

6. OVERSPECIFICATION: A more detailed or specific conclusion than is legitimate is drawn from a biblical text. Example: The Mormon missionary manual quotes the parable of the virgins from Matthew 25:1-13 to document the concept that “mortality is a probationary period during which we prepare to meet God.” But the parable of the virgins could, and most probably does, mean something far less specific, for example, that human beings should be prepared at any time to meet God or to witness the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

7. WORD PLAY: A word or phrase from a biblical translation is examined and interpreted as if the revelation had been given in that language. Example: mary Bake Eddy says the name Adam consist of two syllables, A DAM, which means an obstruction, in which case, Adam signifies “the obstacle which the serpent, sin, would impose between man and his Creator.”

8. THE FIGURATIVE FALLACY: Either (1) mistaking literal language for figurative language or (2)mistaking figurative language for literal language. Example of (1): Mary Baker Eddy interprets EVENING as “mistiness of mortal thought; weariness of mortal mind; obscured views; peace and rest.” Example of (2): The Mormon theologian james Talmage interprets the prophesy that “thou shalt be brought down and speak out of the ground” to mean that God’s Word would come to people from the Book of Mormon which was taken out of the ground at the hill of Cumorah.

9. SPECULATIVE READINGS OF PREDICTIVE PROPHESY: A predictive prophesy is too readily explained by the occurance of specific events, despite the fact that equally committed biblical scholars consider the interpretation highly dubious. Example: The stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph in Ezekiel 37:15- 23 are interpreted by the Mormons to mean the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

10. SAYING BUT NOT CITING: A writer says that the Bible says such and such but does not cite the specific text (which often indicates that there may be no such text at all). Example: A common phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is not found in the Bible.

11. SELECTIVE CITING: To substantiate a given argument, only a limited number of text is quoted: the total teaching of Scripture on that subject would lead to a conclusion different from that of the writer. Example: The Jehovah’s Witnesses critique the traditional Christian notion of the Trinity without considering the full text which scholars use to substantiate the concept.

12. INADEQUATE EVIDENCE: A hasty generalization is drawn from too little evidence. Example: The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that blood transfusion is nonbiblical, but the biblical data that they cite fails either to speak directly to the issue or to adequately substantiate their teaching.

13. CONFUSED DEFINITION: A biblical term is misunderstood in such a way that an essential biblical doctrine is distorted or rejected. Example: one of Edgar Cayce’s followers confuses the eastern doctrine of reincarnation with the biblical doctrine of being born again.

14. IGNORING ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS: A specific interpretation given to a biblical text or set of text which could well be, and often have been, interpreted in quite a different fashion, but these alternatives are not considered. Example: Erich von Daniken asks why in Genesis 1:26 God speaks in the plural (“us”), suggesting that this is an oblique reference to God’s being one of many astronauts and failing to consider alternative explanations that either God was speaking as “Heaven’s king accompanied by His heavenly host” or that the plural prefigures the doctrine of the Trinity expressed more explicitly in the New Testament.

15. THE OBVIOUS FALLACY: Words like OBVIOUSLY, UNDOUBTEDLY, CERTAINLY, ALL REASONABLE PEOPLE HOLD THAT and so forth are substituted for logical reasons. Example: Erich von daniken says, “Undoubtedly the Ark [of the Covenent] was electrically charged!”

16. VIRTUE BY ASSOCIATION: Either (1) a cult writer a ssociates his or her teaching with those of figures accepted as authoritative by traditional Christians; (2) cult writings are likened to the Bible; or (3) cult literature imitates the form of the Bible writing such that it sounds like the Bible. Example of (1): Rick Chapman list 21 gurus, including Jesus Christ, St. Francis and St. Theresa, that “you can’t go wrong with.” Example of (2): Juan Mascaro in his introduction to the Upanishads cites the New Testament, the Gospels, Ecclesiastes and the Psalms, from which he quotes passages supposedly paralleling the Upanishads. Example of (3): The Mormon DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS interweaves phrases from the Gospel of John and maintains a superficial similarity to the Gospel such that it seems to be like the Bible.

17. ESOTERIC INTERPRETATION: Under the assumption that the Bible contains hidden, esoteric, meaning which is open only to those who are initiated into its secrets, the interpreter declares the significance of biblical passages without giving much, if any, explanation for his or her interpretation. Example: Mary Baker Eddy gives the meaning of the first phrase in the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father which art in heaven,” as “Our Father-Mother God, all harmonious.”

18. SUPPLEMENTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: New revelation from post biblical prophets either replaces or is added to the Bible as authority. Example: The Mormons supplement the Bible with the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.

19. REJECTING BIBLICAL AUTHORITY: Either the Bible as a whole or texts from the Bible are examined and rejected because they do not square with other authorities – such as reason or revelation = do not appear to agree with them. Example:Archie Matson holds that the Bible contains contradictions and that Jesus himself rejected the authority of the Old Testament when he contrasted His own views with it on the Sermon on the Mount.

20. WORLD-VIEW CONFUSION: Scriptural statements, stories, commands or symbols which have a particular meaning or set of meanings when taken within the intellectual and broadly cultural framework of the Bible itself are lifted out of that context, placed within the frame of reference of another system and thus given a meaning that markedly differs from their intended meaning. Example: The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi interprets “Be still, and know that I am God” as meaning that each person should meditate and come to the realization that he is essentially Godhood itself.

NOTE:
This material comes from the appendix of James Sire’s Scripture Twisting Methods of the Cults, and summarizes his indepth treatment of each of these points. This book should be part of every Christian’s library.

http://www.ovrlnd.com/Apologetics/scripturetwisting.html

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Dispelling Myths about Christianity

Myth #1. Christians think all you have to do is say a little prayer to go to heaven, then you can live like the devil and still be saved.

Fact: Christians do NOT believe this. There is nothing magic about “the prayer.” People who just a say a little prayer to “cover all the bases” are not demonstrating saving faith. True Christians do not believe in what is referred to as “cheap grace” or “easy-believism;” the concept that one can just say a prayer and then go on living a lifestyle of sin. It is true that Christians believe a person praying from the heart, with real intent, asking for salvation, will indeed be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone, and that good works will not add one iota to his salvation. However, they do not use their salvation as an excuse to do wrong.

There is a difference between justification and sanctification. When a person puts their trust completely in Jesus Christ, praying in faith for salvation, he is immediately justified, or put into right standing before God. He has been washed clean by the blood of Jesus and the righteousness of Jesus is credited to the person’s account. The biblical definition of salvation is being saved from the wrath of God (eternal hell) and living eternally in heaven with God.

Sanctification is a process occurring over time as the Holy Spirit works in the life of a Christian, purging him of the desires of the flesh. We are sinners by nature, so of course Christians stumble and fall in their walk with the Lord, but they do not make sinful actions a pattern of living. For example, a person claiming to have been born-again who year after year lives with his girlfriend, cheats people in business, doesn’t read the Bible or pray, and consistently lives as the world lives, would need to “examine [himself] as to whether [he] is in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). The Holy Spirit equips a Christian for godly living. As a Christian becomes more mature in his walk with the Lord, he begins to love the things God loves and hate the things God hates. His sin begins to bother him and doing what pleases God becomes delicious to him.

What is one of the signs that we have been saved? “And hereby do we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:3). The Greek word for “keep” in this context is the same one that sailors used for being guided by the stars. Pastor Adrian Rogers—beloved by millions of Christians and who recently passed away—used the following analogy. He said that sailors in ancient times would chart their course at sea by the stars, so they would know where they were going. There might be occasions when the captain fell asleep at the helm and drifted off-course, but it would not be long before he was able to adjust his direction and arrive at his intended destination.

This practice of navigation was called “keeping the stars.” Likewise, keeping the commandments is similar for a Christian. He may “fall asleep at the helml” (sometimes called backsliding) or occasionally go off course, but If his eyes are upon Jesus and the desire of his heart is to please God, he will arrive safely into heaven’s harbor.

Myth #2. Either the Mormon Church is true or the Catholic Church is true. It could not be the Protestants because they broke off from the Catholic Church.

Fact: Not exactly. The church of Jesus Christ was already established long before the Roman Catholic Church came along. Whenever “church” was referred to in the New Testament, it meant “the called out ones;” it is the Greek “ekklesia.” The Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon explains what “church” has meant from New Testament times onward:

[Church] in a Christian sense. An assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting., a company of Christians, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake., those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body., the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth., the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven. (Strong, J. 1996. The exhaustive concordance of the Bible: electronic edition)

Galatians 3:26-29 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.

To rephrase that in modern language, “There is neither Baptist nor Lutheran, Calvary Chapel nor Nazarene, Methodist nor Pentecostal, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.” Denominations may differ in some regards, but our salvation comes through a saving relationship with Jesus alone. That is what makes us members of His church. The Roman Catholic Church is a man-made institution. It was organized by men and many of its doctrines and practices were made by men. The protestant denominations came out of Catholicism only to get back to what the original church was; the body of believers saved through Christ’s atonement; the priesthood of believers; deriving their authority from the Word of God. (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Ephesians 2:18; Romans 12:1; Revelation 1:6)

Myth #3. All the denominations argue about which one of them is right.

Fact: There is no arguing going on. No single denomination claims to be “The True Church” or “The True Denomination” or “The Only Way” through which a person can come to Jesus Christ. A favorite expression among Christians concerning denominations is; “In essentials unity; in non-essentials diversity; in all things charity.” All the Protestant denominations agree on the nature and character of God, who Jesus is, the means of salvation (grace alone by faith alone through Jesus alone), and the inerrancy of the Bible.

When I left Mormonism and began looking for a church to attend, I was surprised at how well the various churches in the area got along. I had been taught as a Latter-day Saint the myth of fighting denominations each trying to gain more members for themselves. I visited several churches of different denominations. Over the ensuing weeks several people I had met called me and said that they hoped I would start coming to their church, but wherever I decided to go their prayers would be with me. When I found a church that was not too much of a culture shock coming out of the Mormon Church, my pastor often said over the pulpit to visitors that he hoped they would make Shadow Hills Baptist Church their home church, however, there were many other good churches in the area that taught sound biblical doctrine. My pastor met monthly with pastors and ministers from several denominations for lunch where they would discuss important issues, pray together, and be supportive of one another. This is not to say that individual fellowships do not have their share of disagreements on occasion, but the over all attitude among the denominations is one of love.

Myth #4. The Bible is missing a bunch of books and is not translated correctly.

The Old Testament we have now is the same one the Jews had in Jesus’ day. Jesus authenticated the Old Testament by quoting from every part of it. There are books mentioned by Old Testament writers, such as the Book of Jasher and the Books of the Wars of the Lord, but that does not mean they were inspired. Jesus did not quote from any of these so-called missing books. The apostle Paul quoted from Greek poets, yet their writings or complete works are not found in the New Testament. From an LDS perspective the Book of Mormon is missing “the sealed portion” and Brigham Young claimed to have seen wagon loads of metal plates and other writings beneath the Hill Cumorah. Does this mean books are missing from the BoM and therefore make it unreliable? A Mormon would say, “No, of course not.” So why set a double standard for the Bible?

The God Who had the power to call forth the universe into existence is certainly powerful enough to preserve His holy word! Hebrew children were immersed in scripture from a young age. In school, the rabbi would place a bit of honey on the child’s tongue before having him memorize scripture so the child would begin to see God’s word is sweet and precious. Scribes committed their whole lives to carefully preserving the word of God. They would painstakingly copy letter for letter and if anything were amiss they would destroy the page and start all over. Everey time they came to God’s name they would get new ink to write it with—that is how much they revered the word of God. There was no such thing as a careless scribe as LDS leaders want you to think.

The Dead Sea scrolls refute the idea that things were taken out and/or added to the Old Testament. For example, the book of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea scrolls was one thousand years older than any manuscript in existence at the time. With only a few variations in spelling, it was correctly transcribed word for word! There are over 5,000 manuscripts in existence today containing all or part of the New Testament. The earliest fragments have been dated to 100-150 A.D.. The manuscripts in other languages combined with the Greek bring the total manuscripts in existence to over a stunning 24,000 in number! The mountain of evidence for the accuracy and authenticity of the Bible is overwhelming. A good book for in-depth information on this topic is The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell.

Myth #5. The Council of Nicea is where a bunch of relgious leaders were locked in a room and told they could not come out until they agreed on their ideas about God. They also voted on which books to include in the Bible.

Fact: This myth is utter nonsense. “The facts of history demonstrate, however, that the New Testament was not formed hastily, nor was it formed by the councils. It was the product of centuries of development, and its official ratification came in response to the practical needs of the churches.”

Developments that forced the Church to Establish a Canon: 1) Need for a Scripture to spell out the message of the Apostles, 2) Need to decide on what should be read in the churches, 3) Need for a true canon to answer heretical ones, 4) Need to establish authoritative truth to answer error, 5) Need to decide which of the many books claiming to be canonical were false, 6) Need to decide which books to die for when possession resulted in martyrdom (Vos, H. F., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1996. Exploring church history.)

Archaeological evidence now proves that the New Testament books were written by the end of the first century. These books were already circulating among the churches to be read in worship services. Within a short period of time, however, heresies began to creep into the church. Writings started to pop up that were claimed to be authored by some of the apostles (such as the book of Thomas) and other writings were introduced into variuous churches as new revelations. To protect the church (the ekklesia; Christians), a standard had to be set to keep the Scriptures pure. Writings thaat could be proven authentic of the apostles and those close to them were kept. Writings that did not have a basis in truth or had no evidence for their origin as apostolic writings were rejected.

As for the creeds, they formalized what the Bible already revealed about God. The LDS Church puts forth its Thirteen Articles of Faith as a statement of what Mormons believe. The Nicene Creed, Apostolic Creed, and other confessions do the same thing. The creeds are nothing more than statements of faith so Christians everywhere could readily share their beliefs with others.

JUST as the New Testament canon developed in response to a need in the church, so did the creeds. In the days before the canon was formulated and when there were few copies of any of the New Testament books in circulation, believers required some standard to keep them in the path of truth. Moreover, they needed a standard by which to test heretical opinions. So very early, possibly near the end of the first century or beginning of the second, a rule of faith came into existence.

Assuming different forms in different churches, it generally taught that Christ, the Son of God, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and died, was buried, rose again, and ascended into Heaven—for the remission of sins. This rule of faith, which has come to be called the Apostles’ Creed, reached its present form about 750. In the early church, candidates for baptism often were asked if they assented to the various clauses of this standard of faith. (Vos, H. F., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. 1996. Exploring church history, electronic version)

It was creeds such as this—the Apostles’ Creed, which clearly laid out Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection—that Joseph Smith said were abominations.

http://www.equippingchristians.com/DispellingMythsAboutChristianity.htm

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mormonismexplained.com

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Reviewed by Patti (Batavia, NY), May 19, 2008

This is a very informative book about what the Latter Day Saints teach and practice. Jackson has certainly done his homework, which is evident as he spells out clearly what Mormon’s believe and why they believe the way they do. While it is full of information, the author has a very easy-to-read style. Mormonism Explained is one of the most thorough books on Mormonism I ever read. It covers their history, beliefs, theology, and their diversity in beliefs. This book clears up some confusion I had about what Mormons really believe. I want to note that Jackson does not put down Mormonism as he explains their beliefs, not as a critic but as a teacher. It is a good book for those who want more insight into this religion.

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QUOTES FROM THE BOOK

1. “As a result, within Mormonism the Bible is functionally subordinate and subject to clarification and revision by the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price” (13).

2. “Early Mormonism reflected many of the common Christian trends of the times: having an authoritarian prophetic leader and being noncreedal, staunchly Arminian, fervently restorationist, evangelistically driven, end-time-focused, and characterized by isolated communal living” (18-19).

3. “Although, many Mormons take pride in rejecting historical Christian creeds, they have creeds themselves” (190f7).

4. “Although LDS authorities have often denied Joseph Smith’s treasure-hunting, he was found guilty of disorderly conduct and treasure-hunting through the use of divination on March 20, 1826 in Bainbridge, New York” (25).

5. “Mormons believe that April 6 is the birthday of Jesus Christ himself and thus connect the incarnation of Jesus Christ with the birth of the first Mormon church” (29).

6. “It is important to understand that early Mormons were not simply interested in building churches and temples within cities; their vision was to become a church that consisted of a large network of Mormon cities, with the city of Zion as their capital. Mormons wanted whole cities, not simply a portion of them. It is no surprise that the Mormon vision of building and dominating cities created significant tension wherever they settled among non-Mormon citizens” (39).

7. “Mormons believe that American Indians are the direct ancestors of the Book of Mormon’s Lamanite people and thus are also direct descendants of Israelites” (191f26).

8. “Numerous Ohio revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants are the direct result of Smith’s revision of the Bible” (40).

9. “Attempting to get a new start, reestablish authority, and obtain badly needed finances, Joseph Smith changed the name of the Mormon Church to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 26, 1838, attributing the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 11:1-10 to himself instead of Jesus Christ” (46).

10. “Although Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith, they do acclaim his status of preexistent greatness and latter-day calling to a level of superiority that is unprecedented in the history of Christianity” (189f1).

11. “Joseph Smith’s death lead to a bitter succession crisis not unlike what had occurred following the death of Muhammad” (50).

12. “Immediately following the appointment of the new Mormon successor, there was a major split between Brigham Young and Joseph Smith’s wife Emma. In fact, it seems rather revealing that Young never even visited Emma after Joseph’s death” (51).

13. “The LDS President and Prophet is the single authorized mediator between God and Mormon leaders and members” (78).

14. “Because not a single person, place, or event unique to the Book of Mormon has been proved to have existed, Mormons emphasize that a subjective heart experience—what they call a burning in the bosom—proves the authenticity and truth of the Book of Mormon” (86-87).

15. “In fact, the worldview constructed and promoted by Mormonism mirrors several aspects of ancient paganism, Egyptian and Greek mythology, Hinduism, and New Age, and is foreign and destructive to a biblical Judeo-Christian worldview” (94).

16. “According to Mormonism . . . The human mind or spirit has no beginning and will have no end” (96)

17. “Although Mormonism does not like the word polytheism because it is too closely reflects a pagan worldview, there is not doubt that Latter-day Saints believe in the eternal reality of a plurality of gods” (97).

18. “In fact, the LDS Church describes the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—more as the supreme heavenly presidency of three gods than as the historically and universally accepted Christian doctrine of the eternal triune nature of one God” (113).

19. “Although in my view Mormons are somewhat contradictory in their own writings, Dr. Craig Blomberg told me that many informed Mormons would unequivocally say that their understanding of deification means that one day we will share perfectly God’s communicable attributes only. They do not claim we will ever be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. They stress that we will always be dependent on and contingent on God. We will never become beings that anyone else worships. All worship for all eternity will be reserved for God, through Christ, in the power of the Holy Ghost. We must ask, then, why spirit-children of the Father worship Jesus and the Holy Spirit, who are themselves other spirit-children who progressed into gods. If it occurs today, why wouldn’t it logically occur in the future? (200-201f52).
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An Interview with Dr. Andrew Jackson, author of “Mormonism Explained”

The Christian Manifesto recently had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jackson about his upcoming book.

First of all, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to interview with us, Dr. Jackson. I know I said I would call a little later, but class got out earlier than expected. Is this a good time?

It’s no problem. Really. Actually, this is a great time.

I guess we’ll dive right into our questions here, then.

Fire away.

Your new book is titled, Mormonism Explained: What Latter-Day Saints Teach and Practice. Why this subject and why now?

Well, I am one of the pastors at an Evangelical nondenominational church in Mesa, Arizona, a city that was originally founded by the Mormons. One block down from our church is the Arizona [Mormon] Temple. The area still has a very strong Mormon culture; it is very much a part of our social fabric here.

Because of that, it has led me to teach quite a few seminars in the surrounding area called “Mormonism Explained.” Many Christians have no idea what Mormons teach or believe and the seminars were a way of communicating that and fielding questions and reconciling misconceptions. Eventually, Crossway [Books] approached me about adapting the seminar into book form.

The timing also seems correct right now because of Mitt Romney’s bid for president. It has put Mormonism front-and-center for a lot of people and there is a lot of confusion as to what they believe.

That’s really interesting. How did you go about researching for Mormonism Explained?
(Laughs)

It was a challenge really. Once you get into the question of “What is Mormon orthodoxy?” and “Who can explain Mormon orthodoxy in a systematic way?” is very difficult to find. I found that Mormon missionaries tended to be some of the worst sources for finding out about Mormon beliefs. The same went for Mormon bishops. I ended up contacting and working with Dr. Steven Robinson, Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University as one of my scholarly sources. One of the problems he cited with many missionaries and bishops is that they have no theological training in Mormonism itself. A lot of them, especially the bishops, don’t actually work for the church. They have full-time work outside the church. Accordingly, when you question them about Mormon orthodoxy, you’re not likely to get a very good answer.

So, I ended up leaning on Steven Robinson, Robert Millet, a few of the new Mormon scholars who have been interacting with evangelicals as of late, and the writings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young for source material. I found that there are really two streams of Mormonism, which I explain a little in my book.

What are some of the distinctive features of Mormonism? Are Mormons Christians or do they diverge from Christian orthodoxy?

Of course, Mormonism arose in New York because that’s where Joseph Smith was from. But, it also arose during a time of the revival and restoration movements that were sweeping across the US. In that respect, Mormonism definitely emerged out of a Christian culture. However, Joseph Smith really did create his own thing, excluding himself very early on from accepted Christian orthodoxy.
According to Mormon teaching, Smith received his first vision at the age of fourteen—all of Mormonism is based on this visitation. Mormonism is also regarded as an exclusive movement outside of historical Christianity. This is partially due to the fact Smith believed there was a strong apostasy movement that started as early as the time of the writing of the New Testament documents. Thus, in Smith’s view, even the church that arose out of this time emerged apostate. Mormons believe that Smith was told in his vision to restore the church and now, at their core Mormons believe they are the true and only church on earth.

So, it’s almost like the Catholic teaching that they are the only church that holds the fullness of the Gospel?

I would say that it goes even deeper than that. They believe they’re the only church on earth. Everyone else is apostate.

Do you feel your work is more of an academic endeavor (i.e. more of a textbook) or that the average Christian ought to sit and read your book?

I wrote in a way that the average Christian can read it, but it is heavily footnoted. So, while it’s accessible, if you want to go deeper and check out some of the resources, you have that option, too.
So, what is it you hope people will get out of Mormonism Explained? Who is it written for?

My main purpose is really [to be] educational. A lot of Christians don’t know what Mormons systematically teach. So, I’m really hoping to present something that will introduce them to what Mormons believe. Mormonism Explained isn’t as apologetic as many Christian books about Mormonism. This is more of an explanation of belief than anything else. To often little pieces are presented here or there. I’m trying to present a more comprehensive introduction to the topic.

Though, at various points throughout the book I contrast the teachings of Mormonism with Christian orthodoxy. So, while the primary audience will likely be Christians, I’m hoping that a Mormon or nonbeliever can pick it up and learn something.

You’re hoping Mormons will pick your book up, too?

Yes. I have relationships with a number of Mormons and I hope they read it.

So, a Mormon picks up a copy of Mormonism Explained. Do you think they view it more like a Christian views Dawkins’ The God Delusion, or do they think you handled their beliefs with integrity, whether they agree with your final conclusions or not?

That was actually a concern I had from the beginning. When I first started to write about this subject I contacted an organization called F.A.I.R., a Mormon apologetic organization, and got about 20 or so people from that network to dialogue with me about the topic. That helped to keep things balanced.

So, I think a Mormon reading my book will find it to be very fair and very well-documented. I tried not to follow too many rabbit holes looking for obscure quotes and references to discredit Mormonism. I just tried to show it as it is.

One last question. And we have to ask it. Mitt Romney is running for US President and is open about the fact he is a Mormon. Many Americans have expressed fears about having a Mormon in the White House? Would having a Mormon in the White House, in your opinion, be any different than having a Catholic or a Baptist?

I do believe there is a distinction, between someone running [for president] as a person with Orthodox Christian beliefs and someone running as a Mormon, not that I would fear it. A concern would be that it would give an obvious platform to the Mormon Church. In actuality, it already has. They wouldn’t necessarily control a Mormon president, but the LDS Church would definitely use a Mormon president [to their advantage]. It would help enhance the reality of the Mormon Church in the eyes of the American populace.

Thanks so much for your time, Dr. Jackson. We look forward to reading your book when it releases in March.

No problem. It was great talking with you, too.

http://thechristianmanifesto.wordpress.com/2007/12/07/an-interview-with-dr-andrew-jackson-author-of-mormonism-explained/ 

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mormon-questions3

ANSWERING MORMON OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY

There are too many versions of the Bible

The number of Bible versions does not negate the efficacy of God’s word. The purpose of the various versions is to make the original text more readable and increase the reader’s understanding of scripture. This is no different than the Mormon Church publishing the children’s “Book of Mormon Reader” in addition to the standard Book of Mormon.

My grandparents’ native language was Czech. As I was growing up I wanted very much to learn the language and frequently asked them what they were saying. Sometimes they paraphrased in English what they had said and other times they told me word for word. Since some Czech words do not have an English equivalent, my grandparents would have to find the best way to explain what they were saying. ICzech grammar also varies from the English. The literal word for word translation of “I love you” from Czech to English would be “I you love.”

The same principle holds true for translating the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into English. Because of differences in grammar, style, and language, etymology becomes challenging. Nevertheless, there are several ways to convey meaning without diminishing the original message. Whether I say “I am extremely hungry” or “I am famished” it means the same thing. Here are some examples:

John 3:16

King James: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

New American Standard Bible: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

New International Version: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

There are different versions suited for a variety of purposes. For personal, devotional reading, one would use a “paraphrase” translation (thought-for-thought), such as the Living Bible. For in-depth study one would use a word-for-word translation, like the Amplified Bible or the New American Standard Bible. For those who enjoy the beauty and majesty of Old English, the King James Version is a good choice. A very good article on the history of the English Bible can be found here.

Are there problems with the new translations? There are good translations and bad ones, however, this does not mean there is only One True Translation.

…we must be very careful to make intelligent and informed decisions about what translations of the Bible we choose to read. On the liberal extreme, we have people who would give us heretical new translations that attempt to change God’s Word to make it politically correct. One example of this, which has made headlines recently, is the Today’s New International Version (T.N.I.V.) which seeks to remove all gender-specific references in the Bible whenever possible! Not all new translations are good… and some are very bad.

But equally dangerous, is the other extreme… of blindly rejecting ANY English translation that was produced in the four centuries that have come after the 1611 King James. We must remember that the main purpose of the Protestant Reformation was to get the Bible out of the chains of being trapped in an ancient language that few could understand, and into the modern, spoken, conversational language of the present day. William Tyndale fought and died for the right to print the Bible in the common, spoken, modern English tongue of his day… as he boldly told one official who criticized his efforts, “If God spare my life, I will see to it that the boy who drives the plowshare knows more of the scripture than you, Sir!”

Will we now go backwards, and seek to imprison God’s Word once again exclusively in ancient translations? Clearly it is not God’s will that we over-react to SOME of the bad modern translations, by rejecting ALL new translations and “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” (John L. Jeffcoat, http://www.greatsite.com)

Keep in mind that the forty-seven scholars who translated for the King James Bible were working with fewer manuscripts than we have available today. The KJV is certainly an accurate and reliable translation of the Bible, but it is not the only one! There are several excellent English translations of the Bible. Regardless of which translation a person uses, for study and understanding it is wise to keep a concordance handy, as well as an “interlinear Bible,”

an edition in which each line of the original biblical text (OT Hebrew or NT Greek) is followed by a line containing a literal English equivalent directly underneath each Hebrew or Greek word; since the word order of the ancient languages is very different from any modern languages, the English equivalents seem very strange, chopped up, and out of order; thus a smooth English translation is usually also provided in the margins (Web definition, retrieved from Google).

The Dead Sea Scrolls contained a complete copy of Isaiah, dated one thousand years older than the earliest manuscript of the day (1947) and was found to be almost word for word the same; the few variations in the text did not change the meaning of any passage. The New Testament is even more astounding because we have over 5,000 Greek manuscripts to work with!

A few existing fragments date back to within 25-50 years of the original writing. New Testament textual scholars have generally concluded that 1) 99.99 percent of the original writings have been reclaimed, and 2) of the remaining one hundredth of one percent, there are no variants substantially affecting any Christian doctrine. With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which are indeed worthy of the title, The Word of God. (John MacArthur, The John MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc. 2006, p. xxi)

Let me ask this; if, as Joseph Smith stated, “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1976 Deseret Book, p. 327) then why doesn’t the First Presidency—with the wealth of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts available today—make an accurate translation of the Bible for the use of the Latter-day Saints, or indeed, for the world? The Joseph Smith Translation (copyright held by the Reorganized LDS Church; now known as Community of Christ) is not really a translation at all by definition. Smith did not have any manuscripts at his disposal; rather, he read from the King James Bible, dictating changes to his scribe. So, with all the ancient manuscripts available, thanks to archaeological discoveries, why does the LDS Church not “fix” the alleged errors and come out with its corrected edition of the Bible? Could it be because we already have an accurate and reliable Bible?

Allow me to pose another question; why is it that the LDS Church casts doubt on the reliability of the Bible despite all the historical, archaeological, and textual evidence supporting its accuracy, yet wholeheartedly accept the authenticity of The Book of Mormon with NO manuscript, archaeological, or historical evidence at all?

There are too many denominations

Yes, there are many denominations of Christianity, but that is no different from the many denominations of Mormonism. There have been many splinter groups off Mormonism since its inception; in fact, the LDS Church split into several branches after Joseph Smith’s death. It is doubtful that Mormons would consider this proof that Mormonism is not true, so why the double standard? Why would many Christian denominations be one “proof” that Christianity is not true?

The mainstream Christian denominations differ more in style and ritual than in doctrine. Furthermore, each denomination is not claiming to be the “only true denomination,” as individual LDS denominations assert. I have personally visited dozens of Christian churches from California to Washington, D.C. and never witnessed any “fighting” or contention over denominational issues. The statements of faith for each of the major denominations all agree on the essentials; Who God is, Who Jesus is, the Trinity, and salvation. In Las Vegas, NV and other cities across the country, pastors of various denominations meet on a monthly basis to pray for one another, encourage each other, and discuss issues facing the church corporately. The “church” (the “body of Christ”) consists of those who have received Jesus of the Bible as personal Lord and Savior, regardless of the denomination they attend for worship services.

There are too many arguments over doctrine

There are no more arguments over doctrinal issues in Christianity than there are in the Mormon Church among its members! Is caffeine soda against the Word of Wisdom or is it all right to drink Dr. Pepper? What constitutes Sabbath-breaking; going on a family picnic on Sunday or watching a football game? Or should there be absolutely no TV or outdoor activities? Can a person be temple-worthy if they watch R-rated movies? What if it’s only rated R for violence and not nudity? Is it a sin to turn down a calling? Some say yes, others say no. I’ve heard arguments among LDS over personal revelation versus revelation given to Church leaders; which should be given greater weight? Should a person do what the Bishop or Stake president tells you or what the spirit tells you? I know someone who was excommunicated over his view on that issue! Which doctrines should be followed and/or believed; those given by deceased LDS prophets or those given by living leaders that contradicts past doctrines and teachings? The strongest arguments are between the mainline LDS Church and the Fundamentalist LDS Church; for example, which one is practicing authentic Mormonism? Those who live as conventional Mormons or those who practice Mormonism “Joseph Smith / Brigham Young style?”

Whenever people with strongly held beliefs get together there are going to be disagreements, regardless of what denomination they belong to. Among mainline Protestant denominations the disagreements do not affect soteriology (salvation). The point isn’t if there is a right or wrong answer for each of the above questions among LDS; the point is that arguments do exist among Mormons, so why is there a double standard? Why are doctrinal arguments among Christians considered “proof” that Christianity has been corrupted, but doctrinal arguments among Mormons is not “proof” that Mormonism has become corrupted?

There is no priesthood authority among Christians

There is no need for centralized or controlled priesthood authority. In Old Testament times, priests acted as intercessors between Israel and God. They offered sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the people. Only the Levites could hold the priesthood and officiate for Israel. In addition, there was only one High Priest at a time that was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies inside the temple to make offerings. The blood sacrifice made on the altar was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ, who was the True Lamb sacrificed as a propitiation for our sins. Once His blood was shed, there was no longer a need for priests because Jesus Himself became our High Priest!

Hebrews 7:23-28 tells us that Jesus is the only and final “high priest” we need!

23 The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing,

24 but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.

25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;

27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. (NASB)

Old Testament Cities of Refuge provides a perfect illustration of Jesus being the final high priest. There were six “cities of refuge” appointed by God for Israel (Numbers 35:1-34). If a person accidentally killed someone (manslaughter) the victim’s family had a legal right to avenge the blood of their slain relative. The perpetrator could take his chances, so to speak, or flee to a City of Refuge for safety. If he could convince the high priest that he was innocent of murder—that the death he caused was unintentional—he could remain in that city under protection from the “avenger of blood” until the death of the high priest.

Jesus is a “type” of a city of refuge. Because of Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden, we inherit a sin nature, which, in combination with our personal sins, qualifies us for physical and spiritual death. In a very real sense each of us is guilty of manslaughter because our sins put Jesus on the cross! God’s wrath can “legally” be poured out on us, however, we have recourse; fleeing to Jesus Christ, Who is our “city of refuge.” Since Jesus is the high priest Who never dies, we have asylum in Him forever!

Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, made the final atonement for sin, thus ending the need for the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, this veil was 40 cubits high (about 60 feet) and four inches thick! The significance of this event is monumental. The veil separated the Holy of Holies (where God dwelt) from the rest of the temple. Only once a year was the high priest permitted to enter to make atonement for Israel’s sins. The high priest then, acted as intercessor between God and man. When Jesus gave His life as the perfect Sacrifice, the veil between God and man was torn and individuals could now come “boldly before the throne of God.”

Peter speaks of the priesthood of believers, which, by implication, includes women and children.

You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that the priesthood is a power or force through which healings, blessings, prophecies, or miracles are performed. These things are done in the power of Jesus’ name, not by a special ability or right bestowed on an individual by “one holding proper authority.” Those who belong to Christ become “priests” in the sense that they offer themselves as “living sacrifices.” Two excellent articles on the priesthood of believers can be found here (gotquestions.org) and here (hismin.com)

It’s all about money

There are literally thousands of pastors throughout the United States and tens of thousands or more throughout the world. Very few of them are “in it for the money.” Countless pastors and ministers labor 24/7 at minimal pay, if any pay at all. They are leading, teaching, visiting the sick in hospitals or nursing homes, preparing in-depth sermons based on examination of Scripture, praying over their congregations, and spending time in community service. Many ministers have side jobs in addition to pastoring in order to provide for their families. They sacrifice long, exhausting hours at the expense of their own comfort to carry on the work of God. Therefore, is it wrong that they should receive compensation for their time and effort?

1 Timothy 5:17-18: The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

1 Corinthians 9:14: In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

Numbers 18:21-24: To the Levites, however, I hereby assign all tithes in Israel as their heritage in recompense for the service they perform in the meeting tent. The Israelites may no longer approach the meeting tent; else they will incur guilt deserving death. Only the Levites are to perform the service of the meeting tent, and they alone shall be held responsible; this is a perpetual ordinance for all your generations. The Levites, therefore, shall not have any heritage among the Israelites, for I have assigned to them as their heritage the tithes which the Israelites give as a contribution to the LORD. That is why I have ordered that they are not to have any heritage among the Israelites…(v. 31) Your families, as well as you, may eat them anywhere, since they are your recompense for service at the meeting tent.

LDS members are not the only ones who serve without pay! Most Sunday school teachers, nursery workers, Bible study leaders, ushers, and a host of others in Christian ministry serve by volunteering their time and talent without compensation. The Mormon Church may brag about its “unpaid ministry,” but it is only the “rank and file members” who are not paid. LDS Institute teachers and directors get salaries. The General Authorities, LDS apostles, and the LDS Church president “receive a modest living allowance” (Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 2. [Macmillan, 1992], 508 and 510). Note that the Mormon prophet lives in a multi-million dollar home provided by the Church;

The $1.2 million condominium at 40 N. State that is home to the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be exempt from property taxes, Salt Lake County commissioners ruled Tuesday. (Salt Lake Tribune, Dec. 8, 1988) Editor’s note: The property has substantially increased in value since 1988!

The Mormon Church employs public relations people, lawyers, secretaries, body guards…and by the way, why does the Mormon prophet need a body guard? Moses, Jeremiah, Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, and a host of other prophets of the Bible did not need body guards–God protected them until their time was up…but I digress.

Are there abuses by some so-called Christian ministries? Are there some “Televangelists” getting rich? Sadly, yes. We usually hear about the few that take money shamelessly or prey on the gullible. We rarely hear about the countless Christian pastors and ministers of the gospel who selflessly and tirelessly serve their congregations and their communities. They don’t make the headlines, but they exist in great numbers!

Why do LDS find it objectionable for Christian leaders to be compensated for full-time ministry, yet they don’t seem to have a problem with their own leaders receiving pay? Again, why a double standard?

In Conclusion

Mormons have been taught that there must be a single church that has central authority and power. The Bible does not teach this. Being a member of Christ’s true church is a matter of being “called out” from the world as individuals. Jesus becomes the head of the believer and all power and authority is given by Him directly. Remember, “Religion” is man’s attempt to reconcile himself to God. True salvation is God reconciling man through Jesus Christ alone.

http://www.equippingchristians.com/ObjectionstoChristianity.htm

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8 Characteristics of a Counterfeit Christian Church
By Eric Johnson

With the leaders of thousands of different religions and churches attempting to make their beliefs appear authentic, it behooves a person to carefully ascertain truth from error. In fact, many leaders of these faiths may call themselves “Christian” and even attempt to convert Christians into their churches.

After all, Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” This is why John warned the believers in 1 John 4:1 to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” And 1 Thessalonians 5:21 adds, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

Jesus told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27 that they were “like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” How can we tell whether or not a particular religious leader (like the Pharisees) ought to be believed, especially when such a person may appear authentic and even claim to be Christian? Let’s then consider eight basic doctrinal characteristics of counterfeit groups.

1. Denial in the true nature of God
The rejection of fundamental Christian tenets such as the historical definition of God should be a major warning sign to any perceptive believer. Groups that deny the Christian viewpoint of the deity of Christ and the Trinity typically follow in point-by-point succession each of the other characteristics in this article. One example is The Way International, a group founded by Victor Paul Wierwille, (He once served as a former evangelical pastor. In fact, several cult leaders had their start in authentic Christian denominations and churches.) Wierwille’s view of God is Unitarian rather than Trinitarian as he denies that there are three persons in the Godhead. He also claims that Jesus was not God, teaching that the deity of Christ was not a Christian teaching for the Christian church’s first 300 years. This is a common (though false) assertion of many cult leaders. Because Wierwille and his church deny the very essence of what makes God who He is, this is a group to avoid.

2. Works-emphasis salvation
Although a counterfeit’s doctrine may include the idea that God’s grace is important in the role of salvation, the leader normally emphasizes the idea that “salvation” ultimately comes through one’s own efforts. Take the Hare Krishna devotees, for instance. These dedicated followers believe that they are in the middle stage of their reincarnation cycle. The way for a dedicated devotee to be born into the next level of existence is to deny himself on this earth while performing good works, including the repetition of the Hare Krishna mantra a total of 1,728 times a day. It may take a devotee who wakes up at 4 A.M. several hours a day to maintain this goal. Those who belong to such work-oriented groups are normally told that they can never know if their works are good enough to please God; instead, they are told to keep trying even harder.

3. The true church
Counterfeit Christian churches often make it a point to cast doubt and suspicion on other churches or denominations, with the leader oftentimes claiming that only his church is true. While many groups hold that the Christian churches do have partial truth, it is taught that full truth has somehow been lost and can now only be found in the “one true church.” This may involve utilizing Christian terminology while having a different meaning behind those particular words. An example is the Watchtower Society, also known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This group, founded by Charles Taze Russell in the 19th century, teaches that those who belong to any church outside of “Jehovah’s” church are doomed to annihilation. Only those who belong to the Watchtower organization have a chance to attain “Paradise Earth.” This is why Jehovah’s Witnesses are adamant in sharing their faith door to door, even attempting to convert those who already attend Christian churches. The Jehovah’s Witnesses will often use words that sound reasonable to a nominal Christian (i.e. “Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses,” “salvation,” “Jesus Christ,” etc), but they are usually reluctant to tell potential converts that the meanings behind these words are completely different than what has been historically meant.

4. Authoritative leadership
A group where the leader(s) has an authoritative role, even to the extent that they say they speak for God, is another cause for concern. Such leaders claim to have special revelation with God, and their words hold special precedence over their followers. A classic example is Jim Jones, who led almost 1,000 followers to their deaths in the jungle of Guyana in 1978. When men in his charge killed Rep. Leo Ryan (D-CA), a congressman who was visiting “Jonestown” in response to complaints from the relatives of church members, Jones called for his followers to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. The majority of the people willingly followed his commands because they had come to accept his words as truthful and from God. Those who refused were shot. Trusting someone so much that you listen to any command, even to the point of moving to another country and then taking your own life, is something that God never intended.

5. Regimented giving requirement
Another heretical trait is when a church regulates the giving of its people or requires a certain amount of financial giving in order to receive certain privileges related to salvation. For example, the Church of Scientology teaches that people need to discover their true nature through a process called “auditing.” This is accomplished by “clearing Engrams” from one’s life. One Los Angeles Times article on Scientology religion estimated that it would cost a full “Operating Thetan 8” participant between $200,000 to $400,000 from the beginning of the lessons to the completion. Without these courses, the adherent is unable to clear himself of these unwanted “Engrams.” Using finances as a requirement to reach salvation goals is much different than what Jesus, Paul, and Peter preached.

6. Loss of salvation for leaving
Many counterfeit Christian churches insist that if a member decides to leave the group, for whatever reason, they jeopardize their salvation before God. One group with such a belief is the Boston Church of Christ, also known as the International Churches of Christ. The leaders of the ICC teach that there should only be one church in any particular city, which they say is the New Testament model. Members who decide to leave are considered spiritually lost and their salvation is considered negated. This is true even for those who leave because they decide to attend a Christian church outside the ICC network. Since the ICC does not recognize the baptisms of other denominations, and since the doctrine of baptism is considered a necessity in order to receive salvation, leaving the ICC negates the baptism that was given when the person joined the church. Holding a person’s salvation hostage in such a way is certainly not biblical.

7. Authority beyond the Bible
Although the Bible is sometimes utilized and even considered beneficial by a number of counterfeit groups, it is not considered as a completely authoritative scripture. Therefore, extrabiblical writings are necessary. Normally these scriptures are considered to have more authority than the dated Bible. The Christian Science religion is one example. Those who inquire into this religion are told that Mary Baker Eddy’s 1875 pantheistic book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is a “reference book for life,” which is needed by a person who hopes to discover “practical, spiritual answers for health and healing, security, and lasting relationships.” This book must be studied in order to ascertain full truth. When the Bible contradicts Eddy’s book, then the Bible is considered to be wrong or misunderstood.

8. Unique truths never before revealed
The idea that a hidden mystery or new truth is available through a particular church should be taken as a strong sign that this group is a counterfeit Christian religion. In addition, many such groups may change their doctrines over time. Christians believe that God has very clearly shown His truth through the pages of the Bible; therefore, new or fluctuating doctrine—especially that which contradicts the Bible—ought to be taken with a great deal of caution. The Unification Church (numerous front names include “Association of Families for Unification and World Peace” or “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification”) was founded by Korean “Rev.” Sun Myung Moon. He teaches that Jesus never fulfilled his mission. Therefore, Moon says that he was commissioned to finish the job that Jesus never finished. Moon’s followers (often known as “Moonies”) accept Moon as a Christ-like representative on earth whose teachings supersede the Bible. The Unification Church theology has evolved over time, and there may be some drastic changes once he dies in the very near future.

Conclusion
Not all counterfeits may be characterized by every one of these traits. However, a person should be cautious when considering a church that is marked by one or two of these characteristics, especially any of the first three in the list. Churches with three or more of the above characteristics ought to be avoided at all cost. In addition, there are some Christian churches that may not have doctrinal problems but are rather sociological abusers. For instance, some churches have controlling “discipleship” programs or church memberships with high levels of guilt or feelings of inadequacy. These types of groups also ought to be avoided. If you believe that your church has problems in either doctrinal or sociological areas, you would be wise not to get involved. If you are already a member, you need to consider leaving. As John 8:32-33 says, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

http://www.mrm.org/topics/introductory-issues/8-characteristics-a-counterfeit-christian-church

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 LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND RELIGIOUS

SEND ME YOUR $$$$$’S  And YOU TOO can operate in the BILLION DOLLOR FLOW

SEND ME YOUR $$$$$’S And YOU TOO can operate in the BILLION DOLLOR FLOW

 

OUR EXPERIENCES WITH KENNETH COPELAND by Tom Killingsworth  @ exwordoffaith.blogspot.com

I would have left the Word of Faith on the basis of that denomination’s Gnosticism and the abuses of the Prosperity Gospel. But I would have parted peacefully. The abuses of human beings that I saw at the hands of leaders in the Word of Faith, particularly Kenneth Copeland, his daughter Terri Pearsons, and other leaders at Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) and Eagle Mountain International Church (EMIC) are the reasons that I am blogging all this. Copeland needs to be exposed as a tyrant and a fraud!

Let me tell you what happened and you can judge for yourself.

My wife and I had been followers of Kenneth Copeland since 1990. We believed everything he said. While not members of Eagle Mountain International Church (the church affiliated with KCM and pastored by Copeland’s son in law), we did go there. We always wanted to work for KCM, and in August of 2003, we both got our chance. We were so excited! This was the opportunity of a lifetiime — to be able to help Brother Copeland put legs to his vision and help expand the Kingdom of God!

Yeah. We were in for a rude awakening! It was one thing to see KCM and EMIC from the outside. It was quite another to be insiders.

What we saw was nothing short of spiritual abuse and Shepherding. Remember, in a previous article, I mentioned two separate sources that prove that Kenneth Copeland married the Word of Faith with Shepherding. Keep that in mind as you read our experiences.

While I was at KCM, a nationally famous minister came in to encourage us at one of our staff “chapels.” He said “Don’t ask questions. Just do what you’re told. If you ask questions, then you aren’t in faith.” If we were going to do our job, didn’t we need to know what we were doing, and didn’t that mean we had to ask questions? This was nothing less than Shepherding, a restatement of “Don’t touch the anointed!”

A friend of mine who attended EMIC, began to become concerned about the direction the church was headed. It seemed all he heard were sermons on prosperity. So, he wrote the pastor a letter outlining his concerns. The next week, the pastor stood up and held up my friend’s letter and said “I have received a letter from a member outlining some concerns with our church. These are legitimate concerns and questions and I want to answer them. So, next week, I will answer this letter, question by question.”

The following week, the senior pastor remained seated, in a very submissive manner. His wife, Terri Pearsons, the senior associate pastor and Copeland’s daughter, stood up and took the microphone. In front of a congregation of 3,500 people, she said “Some of you have questioned what is taught in this church. If you don’t like it, I suggest you go find another church that you can more easily manipulate, because it won’t happen here.” My friend said that his blood ran cold because he knew the pastor’s wife was talking about him. Then the pastor’s wife led the congregation in an oath of allegiance to the pastor. I was there that day. I refused to take the oath, and I never returned after that Sunday. Oddly enough, KCM did not have a job requirement commanding employees to be members of EMIC, so we left and went elsewhere. An oath of allegiance? Total obedience to the pastor is a concept of Shepherding. I no longer ask myself why this woman said what she said. If Shepherding is a part of the official doctrine of KCM/EMIC, then she was just doing what she thought she was supposed to do.

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That was not the only occasion, either. We later learned that the pastor’s wife also publicly humiliated and eviscerated the head of the greeter department, simply because the head greeter refused to require all her ladies to wear dresses, and allowed a few to wear pants suits. In other words, the pastor’s wife, a member of the Copeland family, enacted the Shepherding practice of telling someone how to dress.

I have a friend who worked at KCM at the same time I did. While she worked there, her mother “came out of the closet” and declared herself to be a lesbian. A coworker took my friend aside and said that her mother couldn’t be her family anymore because she was going to Hell. Her coworkers were her family now. This cut my friend to her core! I don’t know the motivations of the woman who said this to my friend, but the end result was spiritual abuse. This is a sign of Shepherding, a belief that they have the right to tell us who our friends and family ought to be.

During my tenure at that ministry, I experienced quite a bit of indirect Shepherding. I say indirect, because these were rules that were hinted at, not given to me directly in writing or as a verbal warning. The appearance of what was appropriate was more important to leadership than our spiritual walk with God. So I knew I had to wear a mask of correct behavior and not admit to liking things that were frowned upon by the Copeland family (in my case, comic books, science fiction stories, unbridled sex for pleasure with my wife, and the theological works of non-Charismatic ministers). If any of us employees did mention these “unspeakables” in public, it was not uncommon for us to be silenced and told that if management found out, we could be fired. It grew wearying after a while, and I felt dehumanized after working there for four months. I was told that it was a great honor to work at that ministry, yet I felt totally dishonored as a person.

Shortly before my wife left KCM, it imposed a gag order. In a rather stridently written memo, management said that employees were not to talk to anyone, including family members, because they never knew who they would be talking to. That person could be a news reporter. I should think that an employee would know if his or her spouse or child is a reporter! This memo did nothing to help build marriages and strong families. Instead, if taken literally, it would build suspicion, distrust and paranoia within the families of employees. I’m sorry, but to me, this is Shepherding; management by fear and coercion, putting loyalty to the church above loyalty to family.

Parties are meant to be fun, to be celebrations of accomplishment, a holiday season, or just for the heck of it. But it is difficult to celebrate when your invitation to the party pretty much says “you are required to attend, required to have fun, and if you don’t, you will be fired.” While not putting it in exactly those terms, we knew that when the ministry invited its employees to a party, that if we valued our jobs, we should go. This is not just a rhetorical reading of the memo, either. Another friend of mine who worked at that ministry, decided to not attend the Christmas party one year. They were serving barbeque beef, something he doesn’t care for, so he went off site for a sandwich. When he returned, he was hauled into his supervisor’s office, given a written reprimand, and told me that the only reason he wasn’t fired was that he was too good at his job. His supervisor told him that when the ministry invites you to a party, it is a high honor and privilege so he better go!

Invitations to special conventions and teaching engagements were treated the same way. Like it or not, we knew we had to go, or lose our jobs.

That kind of action did nothing to enhance our spirituality or walk with God. If anything, that kind of action tore it down.

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Are some Christians practicing Witches Unaware? Prosperity Gospel to blame for economic woes? 

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I was a licensed Word of Faith minister for several years, and during that time I had a friend who was a pastor at EMIC. At one time, we were very close. But when I became a minister, things changed. He began to take it upon himself to mentor me, without my permission. At the time, I had a ministry to Goths, and he would tell me to teach prosperity to the Goths, tell them to stop wearing black, tell them to stop reading poetry, and go get jobs in the corporate world. I was trying to reconcile Goths to Jesus; if I had done what he said, I would have alienated them further. When I didn’t do what he said, he called me rebellious. Uh … I was licensed by a totally different church, so he was not part of my ecclesiastical chain of command, so how could I be rebelling? When I found out that KCM/EMIC was merged with Shepherding, I saw his actions for what they were – part of the theological platform that made up his job.

I left KCM as part of a massive layoff in 2004. My wife was fired in late 2007 … for posting a photo of her Halloween costume online. Before you go and scream at us for celebrating Halloween, I have to point out that she and I are old theatre people and take any opportunity to put on costumes. To us, it’s a reason to “dress up.” If we could do it in April and July, we would. We weren’t engaging in any sorcery or fright fests. Yet, a Halloween costume photo, on my wife’s personal blog, was a reason for this ministry to fire her. They were actually looking for a reason to fire her; her opposition to the Prosperity Gospel was becoming well known. My wife did something that was against the written and spoken doctrines of the church. Shepherding allows no independent thought or feelings by congregation members.

As soon as my wife was fired, I began to be stalked on my Xanga blog by employees of KCM. As many as 50 anonymous “footprints” (ISP addresses) would appear on my blog daily. Through Xanga’s footprint tracking system, I could easily tell that they originiated inside KCM. This lasted from mid-October, 2007 until early 2008. I guess they grew weary of me after I made my blog private. Stalking of ex-members is a Shepherding technique. I was perceived as a threat and had to be monitored.

Six friends left me. Two were very close, and I considered them to be two of my best friends. These friends left me, not just because of a theological dispute, but because they chose loyalty to the doctrines of men and to EMIC over loyalty to a human being. This was shunning in action.

The day after my wife was fired, several of our friends who worked at KCM at the time were hauled into their superiors’ offices and grilled about their connection with my wife and me. They were told that KCM had checked out their background thoroughly … one can only ponder what THAT meant! Most were given a “clean bill of health.” Two of these friends had restrictions placed on them by the pastors of EMIC, preventing them from having any future contact with us. I did not hear what the consequences would be if they ever ran into us in Wal-Mart. Shepherdists dare to tread only where our mothers did … in believing that they have the right to tell people who their friends will be. Some people are gullible enough to believe they have to obey.

Since our departure from KCM and the Word of Faith, we have found out more about Kenneth Copeland and his true nature. The way he is behaving is so much like a Shepherding preacher, or a cult leader, that I can’t tell the difference.

First, Senator Grassley launched an investigation into six televangelists. I’ve read the questions Grassley sent them. The questions to Copeland are the most extensive and the most damning. To read them yourself, click here.  Why did Copeland use a church owned airplane to fly to Colorado on a vacation? Why is there a for-profit cattle company operating on ministry land? What happened to the funds donated for investment in the Revival Capital of the World theme park, which shows no signs of being built? These are legitimate questions, and Grassley would not be investigating if there were not some evidence of wrong doing by Copeland. Did Copeland answer Grassley? No. He refused. What he sent as an answer to the Senator was a mere pie chart, their IRS statement, and the address to the IRS. In other words, KCM gives the appareance of having much to hide. If they had nothing to hide, then why not tell all to the Senator? Maybe that’s why KCM erected a wrought iron fence, complete with lockable gates, around the ministry property … to keep IRS and ATF agents out. They place does look more and more like the Branch Davidian compound.

Following an impromptu interview by a local reporter, Copeland attended what was supposed to be the dedication ceremony for KCM’s new Partner Services Building. Instead of reading the Bible or praying, Copeland spent half an hour blasting the reporter and calling him names. Gloria Copeland had to publicly remind him that he was there to pray for the building.

Two friends of mine, who are also ex-KCM employees, and now ex Word of Faith, agreed to be interviewed for a news broadcast in which they pretty much called Copeland a liar. The day after the local news broadcast (to read the transcript, click here;  to see the actual broadcast, click here), which was also two days after Senator Grassley launched his investigation into KCM, Copeland convened a “chapel,” which is more of a business propaganda meeting than any spiritual event. During the “chapel,” Terri Pearsons called Grassley, the local news reporter, and my two friends, Nazis and possessed of the anti-christ. Her rant was published on the KCM website, and everyone that I know who saw it all said the same thing; “She’s demon possessed!” The hatred and terror at someone catching her father’s hand in the cookie jar was palpable.To see her rant for yourself, click here.

In late November, Copeland had presidential candidate Mike Huckabee on the Believer’s Voice of Victory broadcast, giving a politician a week’s worth of free publicity. This is from a man who demands that Senator Grassley respect the separation of church and state, but is unwilling to recognize that same separation where an Evangelical candidate is concerned. That was just blatant hypocrisy. To see them for yourself, click here. You won’t have to scroll down very far. The dates are November 26 – 30, 2007.

It gets better!

Copeland revealed his true colors at his Ministers Conference, held January 22 through 24, 2008, at EMIC. He didn’t appear as a Shepherdist, but he did use the U.S. Constitution as toilet paper.

First, he turned the conference into a fund raiser for Huckabee. It was supposed to be a conference for ministers and by ministers. Instead, he turned it into a political platform, raising $111,000 in cash for Huckabee, and a million dollars in pledges. Oh, sure, the KCM spin doctors are saying Copeland did everything right. They say that Copeland never endorsed Huckabee, and that he dismissed the conference (early), and said that if anyone wanted to come back, they could. So, it was a private meeting. They also say that Copeland rented a room at EMIC to Huckabee, and that the fundraising happened there. The KCM spin masters say that EMIC has a tradition of renting rooms to ministers at the conference. Well … my wife was responsible for the Ministers Conference from 2004 through 2007, and began to set up for 2008. She told me that at no time did Copeland, KCM or EMIC rent rooms to anyone, especially during the Ministers Conference. The conference is tightly controlled, and KCM does not want a lesser known party trying to sell books behind the scenes. So, the publicly stated habit of renting rooms is a bold faced lie! This is total political pandering, using a religious meeting to garner money for a political candidate, and a violation of the U.S. Constitution. If this fund raising had happened in a hotel room after the conference, there would be no problem. But it happened inside a church, during the dates set for a ministers’ conference. That is a total violation of the separation of church and state. To read one news article on this, click here.

As if that wasn’t enough, during the Ministers’ Conference, Copeland declared war on the U.S. Senate. First, he said that his reply to Senator Grassley was “a six page lesson in ‘no!’,” meaning Copeland didn’t reply to Grassley’s request for information. Copeland said that the ministry’s finances belonged to God and that Grassley had no business looking at them. Furthermore, Copeland said that he could tell Grassley the truth, but wouldn’t, because Grassley didn’t know the truth. Finally, Copeland dared Grassley to subpoena him, throw him in jail, or execute him. That is sheer arrogance, and total hypocrisy from a man who for decades has preached patriotism and obedience to Romans 13:1-7. The website, Wittenburgdoor.com, has posted clips from Copeland’s rant. To see them for yourself, click here.

Now, CBS Evening News thinks Copeland has gone too far and has accused him of fraud, finding two more ex-employees who spoke out about their former boss. To see CBS’ video, click here.

So … Kenneth Copeland. Preacher of the Gospel, or Shepherdist madman? You decide.

Some of you may not like what I said about Copeland. You know what? I don’t care! What I wrote is the truth. I suffered much abuse from the hands of this man, and I owe it to Jesus to expose the apostasy in KCM. I do not want revenge, but like any rape victim, I do want to see justice and see the rapist go to prison. So does God.

You have to decide what the truth is for yourself. If you can continue to follow Kenneth Copeland with a clear conscience, then please do so. But I cannot. My conscience demands that I stand up, say something, and oppose what I see as a Gnostic-Shepherding preacher who is leading many sheep into destruction.

http://exwordoffaith.blogspot.com/2008/02/our-experiences-with-kenneth-copeland.html

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Top Ex-Scientologist says “I’d have killed for the Cruise CULT” 

By DAVID LOWE
Published: 03 Nov 2008

A TOP Scientologist who escaped the cult has given the most explosive insight yet into the shady “celebrity religion”.

A-list followers including Tom Cruise, Kirstie Alley and John Travolta believe their faith is the secret of their success.

But for John Duignan it cost him everything and everyone he held dear after he become a leading figure in the church’s British branch.

John says he was so brainwashed that he would have killed for Scientology.

And he claims another member was driven to a suicide bid when she was “rehabilitated” after trying to leave.

John tells of his nightmare in his book.

His hell began in 1985 when he was approached in the street by a pretty girl who offered him a free personality test.

John — who had never heard of Scientology — was 22 and living in Stuttgart with his German girlfriend but their relationship was on the rocks. Depressed and lonely, he accepted.

John, now 45, says: “The test is a clever recruitment device because it appeals to people who are searching for something. I was unhappy and latched on to the prospect of gaining confidence. I probably needed proper psychological counselling but I got nothing of the sort. The result of my initial test was Urgent Action Required.

“These friendly people seemed to have the answer in Scientology and I surrendered myself to it.”

In the following weeks, John was grounded in the Scientology doctrine.

The movement was founded in 1952 by an American sci-fi writer, the late L Ron Hubbard.

He claimed humans are really spiritual beings called Thetans which have lived for trillions of years and are constantly reincarnating.

Followers believe that through past life recall therapy they can enrich their understanding and souls.

Under a regime of sleep deprivation, brainwashing and so-called counselling, John gave up his mind to the bizarre teachings.

He says: “On one occasion I sat on the floor while others shouted in my face and flicked things into my eyes.

“It went on for hours. I wasn’t allowed to react or blink. You’re suppressing your natural reactions and that helps Scientology creep in to take over your mind.”

John quickly became fanatical about his new-found faith.

He says: “I saw myself as a soldier for Scientology. I believed it was the only route out of oblivion for mankind.

“The doctrine teaches a human’s body doesn’t matter because it is the Thetan, or soul, which survives.

“If I’d been told someone had to be eliminated because they were a threat to Scientology I could have justified the killing. They’d just lose their body, which isn’t needed.”

When it was suggested John might train to become a church staff member, he jumped at the chance.

He signed up for an “advancement course”, where he endured constant “auditing” sessions, being grilled on every aspect of his life.

John says: “I was hooked up to a Scientology machine called an E-meter. It has a swinging needle and believers think it shows hang-ups or concerns.

“Your goal is to achieve no movement of the needle and a state of “Clear”. That’s when you’re ready to receive the secrets of the universe.

“By now I had cut all ties with friends and family. I was trying to take Scientology doctrine on board but it felt as if my mind was being repeatedly hit with a hammer.”

John persevered, and three months after his personality test he received a call from Scientology Missions International in Los Angeles.

They wanted him to join the church’s 3,000-strong elite core, Sea Org, which oversees recruitment and its other big international interests.

For John it was his ticket to the Scientology big-time.

He says: “As a Sea Org member I’d get to wear a special uniform and be highly respected by other Scientologists. We were told other members would bow to us. Suddenly I felt important.”

But when John arrived at the cult’s headquarters in LA, conditions were not what he’d imagined.

He says: “We were expected to work, eat and sleep Scientology with every minute of the day scheduled, from 7am until lights out at 11pm.”

The harsh conditions John endured were in stark contrast to the luxury enjoyed by stars at the glittering Scientology Celebrity Centre down the road.

L Ron Hubbard believed the church should have famous names as the church’s public face.

John says: “The centre is beautiful. I loved it when I worked there in the garden. Once I spoke to Kirstie Alley on the phone about a rally we were organising. I also saw John Travolta a couple of times.

“But interaction with celebrities wasn’t encouraged. They arrived through a special celebrity entrance and were taken to exclusive suites for auditing sessions.”

After the Sea Org bootcamp John was posted to Scientology’s UK HQ, Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

Here he spent almost two decades devoting his life to the cult — until a bizarre encounter with Scientology poster boy Tom Cruise made John begin to question his faith.

He says: “In 2004 Tom was welcomed to the annual International Association Of Scientologists Gala Ball as the Most Dedicated follower.

“I was working in the grounds and Tom came out wearing a bad fake beard. It was pathetic.

“Scientologists look upon Tom Cruise as one of their best assets, but it was him who made me think twice about the cult.

“I was earning £15 a week, doing my best to spread the word. I had no privacy or time to relax and was afraid or stressed all the time.

“Yet I wasn’t as dedicated as Cruise? It hurt.”

Two years later John made his escape bid.

He says he knew he would be hunted by the sect’s intelligence wing, the Office of Special Affairs (OSA).

John says: “Members who try to leave Scientology are subjected to the Rehabilitation Project Force.

“This uses military tactics and are feared. A friend, Alice, was put through rehabilitation. At 19 she was subjected to daily interrogations for six months.

“One afternoon Alice swallowed a tin of paint thinner and jumped from a 15ft roof.

“The whole thing was hushed up. Alice is now crippled.”

Despite the risks, John told his superiors he needed to visit a sick relative in Ireland, then he fled to a hotel in Birmingham where he hid for a week.

He says officers were sent after him and even staked out relatives.

In a bid to lure them away he made sure he was sighted near the Birmingham Scientology office.

Then he fled to Dublin when he knew the officers had been recalled to England.

John is now rebuilding his life in his native Co Cork. He says: “I gained nothing. I still bear the scars of my time in the church.

“But I’m now studying for an arts degree, getting to know my family and putting the past behind me.”

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/real_life/article1881317.ece

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The Dangers of “Sinless Perfection” Doctrine

By Reese Currie, Compass Distributors

I’ve been receiving an increased volume of e-mail lately from proponents of “sinless perfection” doctrine in response to my article, “Can We Live Sin Free?” None of these supposedly sinless folks offer any argumentation from the Bible, since the doctrine they espouse can’t be found there, but yet they seem quite concerned that I’m doing terrible things to peoples’ Christian walk in maintaining that humans never attain sinless perfection. I am, according to one writer, “an agent of Satan” holding back the true believers in Christ, and should “seek God and be taught of Him.”

Obviously, another article on this is required, since the first, although quite laden with Biblical facts on the matter, does not dissuade these people from e-mailing me to label me a heretic, unknowledgeable, and “Satan’s agent.” So, I offer these facts about people who advocate “sinless perfection.”

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Do Not Believe the Bible.

James writes, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2). So, is James not saying here that a man can indeed be perfect? No, because only a few verses later, he comments, “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

There are two things about sinless perfection to be drawn from James’ comments. First off, James is stating that no man can tame even the tongue to the point of perfection, let alone his whole body. Advocates of sinless perfection are calling James a liar and are calling the Scripture a lie in this instance.

The second thing to note is that James is using the example of a man being perfect as a ridiculous impossibility in his writing. He is stating that all men stumble in their words, and he says anyone who claims otherwise is claiming something as ridiculous as personal sinless perfection. Advocates of sinless perfection actually believe the very thing that James cites as a ridiculous, impossible example.

Certainly we should strive to tame the tongue. We should do the best we possibly can in all areas of life. But it is unrealistic to expect perfection when the Bible itself plainly says such perfection is impossible.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Do Not Have the Same Religion as the Early Church

Look carefully at the first part of James 3:2. It says, “For we all stumble in many things.” The “we” here refers to Christians. James is identifying himself with “all” the Christians he writes to, stating directly that neither he, nor they, are perfect. “We all stumble in many things.” Since advocates of sinless perfection do not believe they stumble in anything, they disassociate themselves from James—and they are therefore not a part of the Christian religion. James was inarguably a part of the Christian religion, but advocates of sinless perfection refuse to be included in James’ comments toward all Christians, including himself.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Are Spiritually Dead.

People who think they are sinless are obviously experiencing no conviction for sin whatsoever. They believe themselves to be perfect in every way and incapable of sinning. Scripture has already demonstrated that people who do not believe they are sinning are mistaken. In fact, Scripture paints a bleak picture for anyone who is under the delusion that they are without sin.

1John 1:8 states simply, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” People who are oblivious to the fact that they still have sin do not have the Spirit of truth within them. There is no light shining to expose the darkness of their souls.

There is sin in everyone, but how can we explain that a subculture within Christendom, the “sinless perfection” crowd, feels no conviction for the sin they have whatsoever? It is easily explained. Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”

The Holy Spirit convicts the real children of God for their sins. But fakes, even if they do not realize they are fakes, receive no conviction because, since they are not God’s sons, God does not discipline them.

Two points here point definitively to a condition of spiritual death for people who believe in sinless perfection. First, the truth does not reside in people who say they have no sin. Second, people who never feel conviction for their sins have never been adopted by the Father; they may think they are sons, but they are not.

Advocates of Sinless Perfection Refuse to Repent of Present Sin.

1John 1:8-10 says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

The very act of claiming to be sinless is a sin in itself, as this Scripture so ably demonstrates. A person claiming not to have sin deceives himself or herself, and in effect calls Christ a liar.

Being cleared of sin is so simple! All we have to do is confess that we have sinned, and our sin is forgiven and we are cleansed of our unrighteousness. The problem is, a person who considers himself or herself to be sinless cannot confess sin. To confess sinning would run contrary to their belief that they have sinless perfection. So, because they will not admit that they are indeed sinners, they cannot have the forgiveness that is in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is for Sinners, Not for the Sinless.

Jesus said it so well: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32). And yet, the Bible says no one is righteous: “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one;’” (Romans 3:10). So what did Jesus mean? He meant He did not come for people who claimed to be righteous, He came for those who knew they were sinners. He did not come for the self-righteous; He came for those who would repent, knowing that they needed Him.

Some correspondents have accused me of encouraging Christians to keep on sinning since they cannot be “perfect” and “sinless.” It isn’t my aim to make people sin, but it is my aim to make people recognize reality: they will never be perfect as long as they have a “flesh” component. Unless people will confess this, they have no need of Jesus—and will not get to have Him.

The Struggle is the Proof of Salvation.

When we are saved, a battle begins between our saved soul and our unsaved body. Paul writes of this battle that continues within us even after our salvation, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:18-25).

As long as any person has flesh, that flesh will be serving sin. It will always be warring against the spiritual mind. We will be delivered from this sin completely only when we are delivered from “this body of death.” It is only at that point that the Christian is “completely sanctified.”

The absence of this struggle between body and soul means that the body has won and the soul is actually given over to sinfulness. The flesh does not become justified! So if the struggle between body and soul ends, it can only be because the flesh has won.

Closing Words.

Those who think they have attained “sinless perfection” are the most unfortunate of us all. Not only do they remain sinners, contrary to their claim, but because they refuse to admit their sinfulness, they cannot avail themselves of Jesus Christ through repentance, to forgive them and to help them do better.

The Dangers of “Sinless Perfection” Doctrine is Copyright © 2001 by Compass Distributors.

All Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.), 1982

http://www.compassdistributors.ca/topics/sinless.htm

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