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Have you ever known someone that is more concerned with the next move of God or wave of the Spirit rather than reading , understanding, and applying the principles of God into their daily living. I do, there are numerous charismatic signs and wonders chasers being deceived in the Body  of Christ and in the Church today. I can compare it to a surfer trying to catch the ultimate wave, going from beach to beach in search of the ultimate wave but never finding it. The search for the next wave in Charismatic circles  has led believers down a path away from  Jesus instead of towards Him.

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Dr. Marinelli is the owner of wordoffaithanswers.com

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Marinelli: I have never seen a hard and fast rule of 10% explicitly stated in the New Testament as a commandment.

Kelly: That is because none exists. If it did, and, if tithing were legitimate, then tithe-recipients would not be allowed to own property and would have to kill anybody who dared to worship God directly per Numbers 18:21-29.

Marinelli: This matter of tithing is similar to the discussion of the Sabbath (See my Q&A about the Sabbath). The Sabbath was a type of our rest of faith (Hebrews 4), and has been since replaced with the first day of the week for worship (Acts 20:7).

Kelly: The Sabbath of Hebrews 4:3 is a type of the Creation Sabbath which lasted until Adam sinned. The 7th day Sabbath was only given to national Israel per Ex 31:13-17. Sunday does not replace the Sabbath commandment as part of the Law. According to Hebrews 8:13 the entire Old Covenant Law vanished at Calvary.

Marinelli: The New Testament shouts aloud of our freedom in Christ. We aren’t bound by ritualistic observances.

Kelly: Tithing was the most important ritualistic statute-ordinance-ceremonial law because it enabled the priesthood to exist. It was not a moral law.

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Cherie is the author of the Word of faith NO MORE blog.

I gave my life to the Lord in August of 1999. My best friend attended Word of Faith Christian Center in Michigan and led me in the prayer of repentance and into the WoF movement. I was living in California at the time and her Bishop had established churches all over the world. She led me to one of his churches on the west coast and that’s pretty much how it began. I also started to watch TBN and other networks in order to be “fed.” I wasn’t raised in the church and had no biblical foundation so everything that I learned in WoF I thought was the truth. I must admit that I sensed that something was wrong from the beginning. Never the less I continued to attend the faith church and basically thought everything that I experienced was normal.

2004- I attended the laypersons bible school that was established by the church. They took the curriculum from RHEMA and modeled the school after it. Our Bishop graduated from RHEMA and all of his children went there. He in turn established a Bible Training Center in Southfield Michigan which has educated thousands of pastors who are now pastoring his various churches. I considered attending RHEMA or BTC but I did not.

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Answer: He is the Third Person of the Trinity (Matt. 28:19, II Cor. 13:14)

Personality and deity of the Holy Spirit proven!!!

GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT -three divine persons by richesinchrist.com

Personality and deity of the Holy Spirit proven! by bible.ca

WHO IS THE HOLY SPIRIT?. by bible-truth.org

Why did Jesus not say the Holy Spirit would know or not know? by Tony Capoccia

the Holy Spirit a Distinct Person Apart from the Father and the Son!!!!!!!! by light

Trinity Doctrine: “One God revealed through three distinct Persons” by apologetics for Christian

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A “Church of Christ” Member “asked” or rather stated: Does the Church have a name….what is it? I would be a shamed to say I was of any other Church, then the COC. Why? If you are in Christ, you have eternal life. Good Night!! Christ said, he was going to build his Church, did he……….Is it His Church? What name is it? On the day of Pentecost when Peter got up with the twelve, and the same day there were added unto them three thousand souls…..who’s Church were these people added to.

Where in the bible does it name the church as the “Church of Christ”. It doesn’t. Rom 16:16 says “Churches (plural) of Christ” being demonstrative of the differing congregations through out the biblical area. And Paul mentioned this also.

1Co 1:12-13ow this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Paul said there was unity among those “churches (plural) of Christ” in that they are not of Paul, Apollo, or Cephas. No they where “IN” Jesus. Paul the notes that his Christ given mission is not to baptize but to preach the gospel least the cross be made un effective.

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This was written in response to many post (which where basically just links to universalist site material) made in a MSN group by a Universalist named Rodger (associated with tentmakers.org).

If you will listen to what Universalist Rodger says, he says,, “Even though I was and am trusting for my salvation in what Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection, through the power in the blood of His cross, I was, and still am unable to love a god who would let anyone suffer forever.”

I could not find the quote but he also says that anyone who does not believe “as he does for pardon of sins” is of the hook anyway. So how can he trust in Jesus for his sins and dedicate his life, as he has, to telling others not to do the same because it matters not? He does not realize that when a person steps into the realm of biblical teaching he should so with great discernment because of the higher level of accountability and yes judgment for all teachers of religious or God’s truth.

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christian suicide

These questions where asked in a forum I visit. WHAT ABOUT SUICIDE? Can it be forgiven? Is it not written that blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, is the only unpardonable sin? The questionnaire has yet to answer the questions himself, but his questions prompted this response and I would like to share it so that other may share it freely if they so wish. The questionaire advocates salvation by works.
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It always saddens me to see those that advocate “self salvation” to bring up suicide. It is always served with a generous portion of apathy and contempt for those who do commit suicide, and even those who are depressed to the point of considering it. There will always be someone that defines suicide as murder and try to state that murderers cannot be forgiven and end up in God’s heaven. The reasoning goes if you can save yourself you can likewise condemn your self. But the bible says that “all” are condemned already. From that we must be rescued.

But what does the bible say about murderers? It says they shall not have a place in God’s heaven. But when the Spirit of the new law of Christ says that we are ALL murders if we get angry at our brothers for no reason, it kind of levels the playing field huh? Like it or not we are all murderers! Have you not heard that if you break one of Gods laws you have broken them all?

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In case you have not noticed I would like to point out to you that universalism is not Christian at all. But rather the one world religion of the coming anti-Christ/pantheist and new age system of religion. And universalism as with all the above stated, is really anti Christian. No matter how much someone may tout tolerance to and for all.

Pantheism is a religious belief in MONISM and the divinity of all things. It seeks to absorb all other religious systems besides biblical Christianity because the two are incompatible. The new age is really a revival of pantheistic paganism from way back to Egypt and Babylon. The NWO is a religious, political and financial system that is currently in place to offer it’s power thrones to the antichrist when he gets here. ( Spare me any debate on the antichrist right now to make this point). They all have the same conclusions and the only real difference is that the one world order religion will replace all these absorbed into universalism and replace it with a luciferian religion of luciferian worship and sacrifice towards the unholy one.. Do yourself a favor and Google “David Spangler, luciferian initiation” and see for yourself that ALL of our governments all the way up to the qausi government of the United nations has waiting for all humans and for us biblical Christians who will not take such and initiation or oath.

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Forty Things God Provides Every Believer at Salvation
Compiled by Lewis Sperry Chafer
Revised by R. B. Thieme, Jr.

The Thirtynine Irrevocable Assets

1. The Christian resides in the eternal plan of God, sharing the destiny of Christ.

o Foreknown by God—Acts 2:23; Romans 8:29; I Peter 1:2
o Elected—Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12; I Thessalonians 1:4; Titus 1:1; I Peter 1:2
o Predestined in Christ—Romans 8:29-30 ; Ephesians 1:5, 11
o Chosen—Matthew 22:14; I Peter 2:4
o Called—I Thessalonians 5:24

2. The Christian is reconciled by God to God. The sin barrier that separates man from God is removed.

o By God—II Corinthians 5:1819 ; Colossians 1:20
o To God—Romans 5:10; II Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 2:1417

3. The Christian is redeemed (purchased from the slave market of sin). Romans 3:24; Colossians 1:14; I Peter 1:18

4. The Christian’s condemnation (eternal judgment) is removed. John 3:18; 5:24; Romans 8:1

5. All sins are judged by the substitutionary spiritual death of Christ on the Cross. Romans 4:25; Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 2:24

6. Under grace, every Christian receives propitiation for sins instead of judgment. God is satisfied with the death of His Son on the Cross. Romans 3:2526; I John 2:2; 4:10

7. The Christian is dead to the old life (Old Sin Nature) but alive to God (retroactive positional truth). He is

o Crucified with Christ—Romans 6:8;Galatians 2:20
o Dead with Christ—Romans 6:8; Colossians 3:3; I Peter 2:24
o Buried with Christ—Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12
o Raised with Christ—Romans 6:4; 7:4; Colossians 2:12; 3:1

8. The Christian is free from the Mosaic Law. He is

o Dead to the Law—Romans 7:4
o Delivered—Romans 6:14; 7:6; II Corinthians 3:6−11; Galatians 3:25

9. The Christian is regenerated. John 12:10; I Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5

o Born again—John 3:7; I Peter 1:23
o A child of God—Romans 8:16; Galatians 3:26
o A son of God—John 1:12; II Corinthians 6:18; I John 3:2
o A new creation—II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10

10. The Christian is adopted by God (placed as an adult son through positional truth). Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:5

11. The Christian is made acceptable to God. Ephesians 1:6; I Peter 2:5.
He is

o Made righteous (imputation)—Romans 3:22; I Corinthians 1:30; II Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9
o Sanctified positionally—I Corinthians 1:30, 6:11
o Perfected forever—Hebrews 10:14
o Qualified for inheritance—Colossians 1:12

12. The Christian is justified (vindicated, declared righteous). Romans 3:24, 5:1; 8:30; I Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:7

13. The Christian receives the unique availability of divine power. II Peter 1:3

14. The Christian is guaranteed heavenly citizenship based on reconciliation. Luke 10:20; Ephesians 2:14−19; Philippians 3:20

15. The Christian is delivered from the kingdom of Satan. Colossians 1:13a; 2:15

16. The Christian is transferred into God’s kingdom. Colossians 1:13b

17. The Christian is placed on a secure foundation. I Corinthians 3:11; 10:4; Ephesians 2:20

18. Every Christian is a gift from God the Father to Christ. John 10:29; 17:2, 6, 9, 1112,24

19. The Christian is positionally delivered from the power of the Old Sin Nature. Romans 8:2; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11

20.Every Christian is appointed a priest unto God. He is

o A holy priesthood—I Peter 2:5, 9
o A royal priesthood—I Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6

21. The Christian receives eternal security.
John 10:28−29; Romans 8:32, 3839 ; Galatians 3:26; II Timothy 2:13

22. The Christian is given access to God. Romans 5:2; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:16; 10:1920

23. The Christian is within the “much more” grace care of God. Romans 5:910. He is the

o Object of His love—Ephesians 2:4; 5:2
o Object of His grace
o For salvation—Ephesians 2:89
o For keeping—Romans 5:2; I Peter 1:5
o For service—John 17:18; Ephesians 4:7
o For instruction—Titus 2:12
o Object of His power—Ephesians 1:19; Philippians 2:13
o Object of His faithfulness—Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 13:5b
o Object of His peace—John 14:27
o Object of His consolation—II Thessalonians 2:16
o Object of His intercession—Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25; 9:24

24. The Christian is beneficiary of an inheritance as heirs of God and jointheirs with Christ. Romans 8:17; Ephesians 1:14, 18; Colossians 3:24; Hebrews 9:15; I Peter 1:4

25. The Christian has a new position in Christ. Ephesians 2:6. He is

o Partner with Christ in life—Colossians 3:4
o Partner with Christ in service—I Corinthians 1:9
o Worker together with God—I Corinthians 3:9; II Corinthians 6:1
o Servant of the New Covenant—

II Corinthians 3:6
o Ambassador—II Corinthians 5:20
o Living epistle—II Corinthians 3:3
o Servant of God—II Corinthians 6:4

26. The Christian is the recipient of eternal life. John 3:15; 10:28; 20:31; I John 5:1112

27. The Christian is created a new spiritual species. II Corinthians 5:17

28.The Christian is a light in the Lord (part of the angelic conflict). Ephesians 5:8; I Thessalonians. 5:45

29. The Christian is united with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is

o In God—I Thessalonians 1:1 (cf. “God in you,”Ephesians 4:6)
o In Christ—John 14:20 (cf. “Christ in you,”Colossians 1:27)
o A member of His Body—I Corinthians 12:13
o A branch in the Vine—John 15:5
o A stone in the Building—Ephesians 2:2122 ;I Peter 2:5
o A sheep in the Flock—John 10:2729
o A portion of His Bride—Ephesians 5:2527 ; Revelation 19:68, 21:9
o A priest of the kingdom of priests—I Peter 2:9
o A new spiritual species—II Corinthians 5:17
o In the Holy Spirit—Romans 8:9 (“The Spirit in you”)

30.The Christian is the recipient of the ministries of the Holy Spirit. He is

o Born of the Spirit—John 3:58
o Baptized with the Spirit—Acts 1:5; I Corinthians 12:13
o Indwelt by the Spirit—John 7:39; Romans 5:5; 8:9; I Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Galatians 4:6; I John 3:24

o Sealed by the Spirit—II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30
o Given spiritual gifts by the Spirit— I Corinthians 12:11, 2731

31. The Christian is glorified. Romans 8:30

32. The Christian is complete in Christ. Colossians 2:12

33. The Christian is the possessor of every spiritual blessing granted in eternity past. Ephesians 1:3

34. The Christian receives a human spirit (an integral component of Operation Z, along with the Holy Spirit). I Thessalonians 5:23

35. The Christian has all sins and transgressions blotted out. Isaiah 43:25, 44:22

36. The Christian is the recipient of efficacious grace. Ephesians 1:13

37. The Christian is guaranteed a resurrection body forever. I Corinthians 15:4054

38.The Christian is the beneficiary of unlimited atonement. II Corinthians 5:14, 15, 19; I Timothy 2:6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; II Peter 2:1;
I John 2:2

39. The Christian has equal privilege and equal opportunity under election and predestination. Romans 12:3; Ephesians 3:1619

The One Revocable Asset
40.The Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation. Galatians 3:3.

The filling of the Holy Spirit received at salvation is revoked when the Christian sins. The filling of the Holy Spirit is recovered when the Christian rebounds by acknowledging his sins to God.

http://www.upc-orlando.com/_Assets/pdf/BibleStudies/Women/SimplySoul/fortyThings.pdf

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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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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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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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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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What is the Word-Faith Movement ?

The Word-Faith Movement encompasses a number of different philosophical streams, that have coalesced into the false theological perspective that reality can be created not by human action, nor by the intention of our hearts nor by human effort (under the guidance of the Holy Spirit), but rather by the uttering of words from humans.

According to this perspective, humans have the ability to create/re-create matter and direct spiritual energy (& other energy) not by asking God, but rather by speaking words out loud. Speaking words out loud is considered speaking words “into reality”, the premise being that the words magically change the order of the universe and affect the world, or any person or circumstance, in accordance with the will of the one who utters those words. Another way of saying this is that it makes men as Gods.

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This view on speaking words/matter “into reality” has long been at the core of witchcraft and the occult. Under new disguises, this perspective continues to gain converts in Mainstream Christian Churches and Denominations, by those who are eager for a spiritual experience, but disregarding the source of that spiritual experience.

XOFC rejects the Word-Faith movement as contrary to the teachings of the Christian Bible, and as contrary to the teachings that Christians have held since the time of Jesus Christ. (check our books out for the documentation of this point)

Having compared Word of Faith teachings to the Bible, we don’t believe in the Word of Faith movement. Or should we say, we believe in its “reality”, just not its authenticity.

The Word of Faith Movement teaches that one can command God, and that one can do this using Words. The supposed basis for doing this is the Bible. But in Word of Faith, the Bible is treated much more like a book of Magic Incantations where the God of the Book must cooperate with those who have a copy of His
book.

This is comonly called “Word of Faith”. The Bible has another term for this: It is called Witchcraft. The belief that the Words in the Bible “activate” God and that God is compelled to respond because of the way that we pray … is simply an attempt to bend God to our will. It is the exaltation of the self in the Name of God.

But it is not connecting to God in any real sense. Charles Capps, E.W. Kenyon, Branham and Copeland actually are much closer to Charles Manson and Anton LaVey or Judas, than they are to Jesus, at least the Jesus Christ who is the Son of God, the one who died and rose again and is coming back.

The fact is that William Branham claimed to be in fear when interacting with the force that he was calling ” a Spirit”. (He also denied the Doctrine of the Trinity). Branham said that the spirit he was interacting with was threatening him. Oral Roberts also seemed to describe a Jesus who threatened him. It was the 800 or 900 Foot Jesus that had told Oral Roberts that Oral was going to have to die, if Oral could not raise a certain amount of money.

These teachings are not Biblical, and they are Not from God. The Word of Faith movement is full of counterfeit doctrines, that are Anti-Christ. The Word of Faith movement is simply Witchcraft disguised in Christian terms. We wish we could say we’re sorry for saying that, but we’re not.

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Don’t ask yourself if you are offended. Ask yourself if this is true. The teachings of E.W. Kenyon have much more in common with the standard teachings of Witchcraft than they do with the Bible. Additionally, the occultists teach that Satan is the one who will triumph. Not surprisingly, Word of Faith teachers affirm that “Jesus had to let Satan triumph over Jesus by torturing him for 3 days”.

That story is straight from Hell. It does not explain the resurrection. It mocks it ! Word of Faith teachers are simply the prelude to the symphony from an eternally dying being who knows that his own seven years of temporary evil will come to an end. Did you actually think that we are implying that Word of Faith teachings are from the Devil ?

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You Did ? Well that is what we are trying to say – based on the evidence.

Its not the Word of Faith movement we need. Its the Word of Jesus Christ.

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We would encourage all to study the details and the doctrines of the Word-Faith movement.

To that End, we have begin by posting information on one of the Leaders of the Word-Faith Movement – C. Peter Wagner and one of his spiritual disciples Pastor Ted Haggard, the newly elected leader of the National Association of Evangelicals.

We have posted this information below in PDF format. We appreciate those who have provided this information to us. We encourage all to continue to do research which is able to impact many for his True Kingdom.

More Specifics on the Word of Faith Movement

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

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

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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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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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WHAT DO THEY THINK OF CHRIST?

AETHERIUS SOCIETY – UFO group messages from “Master Jesus” in outer space.

AHMADIYYA MOVEMENT – (Islam) Jesus a prophet only.

ALAMO CHRISTIAN FOUNDATION -Correct doctrine on Jesus but cultish in their denunciation of other Christians.

AMORC – (See Rosicrucianism)

ANANDA MARGA YOGA SOCIETY – Founder Maha-Guru is an incarnation of God.

ANTHROPOSOPHICAL SOCIETY – Jesus just man until age 30, and then received “Christ Essence”.

ARICA INSTITUTE INC. – “Christ cannot be God”.

ARMSTRONGISM (WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD)- Since death of H.W.Armstrong in a state of doctrinal changes. Church split with new groups forming. See Philadelphia Church.

ASSEMBLIES OF YAHWEH – Denies Trinity.

ASSOCIATION FOR RESEARCH AND ENLIGHTENMENT (EDGAR CAYCE) – A portion of God called Soul reincarnated eventually as Christ.

ASTARA – Speak of “Cosmic Christ”. Deny His eternal nature.

BABA RAM DASS (HANUMAN FOUNDATION) – Disciples encouraged to acknowledge their inner divinity and oneness with universal deity. Hinduistic.

THE BAHA’I FAITH – Christ one of the 9 great manifestations of divinity. Baha’u’allah greater.

BAWA MUHAIYADDEEN FELOWSHIP- Man becomes God.

BHAGWAN SHREE RAJNEESH- (See Rajneesh Meditation Centers.)

BLACK MUSLIM- Jesus was black and only a prophet. Allah incarnate is Wallace Ford.

BRANHAMISM – Jesus created, not eternal.

BROTHER JULIUS – Believes he is incarnation of Jesus.

BUBBA FREE JOHN (DAWN HORSE FELLOWSHIP; FREE PRIMATIVE CHURCH OF DIVINE COMMUNION; FREE COMMUNITY ORDER; LAUGHING MAN INST.) – Claims he is incarnation of God; a guru to be worshipped; equal with Christ.

BUDDHISM – Christ not recognized as Deity. Zen Buddhism also does not affirm the existence of the living God.

CABALA (KABBALAH) – Doctrine of Deity recognizes only two deities-the hidden god; the infinite great divine Nothing; and the dynamic god of religious experience. Mystical.

CENTER FOR SPIRITUAL AWARENESS – (CHRISTIAN SPIRITUAL ALLIANCE) – Jesus a man who reached “Christ-consciousness”.

CHILDREN OF GOD (FAMILY OF LOVE) – Began fundamentalist but degenerated into Occult.

CHRISTADELPHIANS – Jesus did not exist before birth to Mary. Not God.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE -Christ is a Divine Idea and his blood doesn’t cleanse us.

CHURCH OF ARMAGEDDON (LOVE FAMILY) – Follow prophet “Love Israel”. Use Yoga & drugs.

CHURCH OF GOD INTERNATIONAL)(Garner Ted Armstrong) follows original teachings of Herbert W Armstrong. Denies Trinity, God is a family.

CHURCH OF BIBLE UNDERSTANDING (FOREVER FAMILY)- Founder Traill is one true access to bible understanding; denies Trinity.

THE CHURCH OF GOD INTERNATIONAL -(See Armstrongism.)

CHURCH OF THE LIVING WORD (THE WALK) – Followers become the Living Word (Christ) to the world.

CHURCH UNIVERSAL AND TRIUMPHANT (SUMMIT INT.; SUMMIT LIGHTHOUSE) – Jesus a man with Christ-consciousness within him.

COONEYITES (TWO BY TWOS) -Jesus inherited Adam’s fallen sin nature and did not finish His earthly mission, but they are doing so.

DAWN BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOC. (FRANK AND ERNEST) – Jesus created; not God. Deny Trinity.

DIANETICS – (See Scientology)

DHYANA-MA-NDIRAM – Jesus one of many reincarnations of God.

DIVINE LIGHT M ISSION OF GURU MAHARAJ JI – Followers believe their Guru is Christ come again.

ECKANKAR (THE ANCIENT ART OF SOUL TRAVEL) – Christ is “god as all men are god”.

EMISSARIES OF DIVINE LIGHT (ONTOLOGISTS) – Do not accept the atoning work of Christ; Mystical.

ESALEN INSTITUTE – “Human Potential” movement; Mystical.

EST (ERHARD SEMINAR TRAININGS) THE FORUM) – Teach that each person is a god himself.

ETERNAL FLAME – Chas. Paul Brown, the leader, claims to be the very body and blood of Christ.

FAMILY OF LOVE – (See Children of God)

THE FARM – Jesus a man indwelt by Christ-consciousness.

FINDHORN FOUNDATION UNIVERSITY OF LIGHT – Separate Jesus and Christ. Appear to be pantheistic and believe in plant spirits.

FOREVER FAMILY – (See Church of Bible Understanding)THE FORUM- (see est)

THE FOUNDATION FAITH OF THE MILLENNIUM- Deny deity of Christ, only a prophet.

FOUNDATION OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING (ROY MASTERS) – Neglects Christ or mentions him in a negative context.

FRANK & ERNEST – (See Dawn Bible Students Assoc.)

FREE MASONRY – Jesus a man like us.

HARE KRISHNA (ISKON) – Jesus one of their gurus, but Hare Krishna is their God.

HINDUISM – No need of a personal savior; each one attains to becoming “a god” or attaining “cosmic consciousness”.

THE HOLY ORDER OF MANS – Jesus a man indwelt by Christ consciousness.”

“I AM” MOVEMENT – Jesus one of many ascended masters.

IGLESIA NI CRISTO – Jesus a great savior, but not true God.

INNER PEACE MOVEMENT – Jesus a man who reached “Christ-consciousness”. God is impersonal.

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY OF CHRIST (THE JAMILIANS) – Christ came again in the form of Jamil Sean Savoy (Born 1959, died 1962). Christ a “universal force” to be experienced but not worshipped.

ISKON – (See Hare Krishna)

ISLAM – Jesus a prophet of Allah who was superceded by Muhammed.

JAINISM – Deny existence of Creator. Non-theistic humanists.

JAMILIANS – See International Community of Christ)

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES THE WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY) – Jesus created as Archangel Michael/lesser god; became only a good man, died, ceased to exist, re-created as Michael again in heaven. Not God. Deny Trinity.

KABALARIANS – Speak of “Christ Principle” born within every individual. (See Cabala)

KRISHNAMURTI FOUNDATION OF AMERICA-Disciples worship him as incarnation of God without his approval.

LATTER DAY SAINTS – (See Mormons)

LAYMEN’S HOME MISSIONARY MOVEMENT – Christ is not God.

LIFESPRING – Similar to EST.

LOVE FAMILY- (See Church of Armageddon)

MAHIKARI – Both Jesus and Buddha are regarded as refined spiritual beings able to radiate true light in their day.

MEGIDDO MISSION – Jesus wholly human in his nature.

THE MIND SCIENCES – God is a principle.

MOONIES (THE UNIFICATION CHURCH; THE HOLY SPIRIT ASSOC.; HOLY SPIRIT ASSOC. FOR THE UNIFICATION OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY; THE UNIFIED FAMILY; INTERNATIONAL ONE WORLD CRUSADE; INTERFAITH ENDEAVOR; ETC. ETC.) – Christ failed in His earthly mission leaving Rev. Moon to finish the task. Many believe Moon to be “Lord of the Second Advent.”

MORMONS (THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS) – Jesus was born in heaven as the spirit child of Elohim (Heavenly Father) by one of his wives, and Jesus’ brother was Lucifer, who became Satan. Jesus one of many gods.

MUKTANANDA PARAMAHANSA (SHREE GURUDEV SIDDHA YOGA ASHRAM) – Each person strives for his own “God-realization”.

NEO-GNOSTICISM – Jesus one who possessed a “higher consciousness”. Did not die for man’s sins.

NEW AGE MOVEMENT – Promises to produce “Messiah” out of a coalition of cult/occult groups.

NICHIREN SHOSHU SOKA GAKKAI – True God replaced by Gautama Buddha and Nichiren. Bible replaced.

ONTOLOGISTS – (See Emmissaries of Divine Light) Spirit.

PENITENTES (BROTHER OF OUR FATHER JESUS) – Atonement comes by personal bloodshed rather than Christ’s death and suffering.

PEACE MISSION MOVEMENT- Sometimes states that Jesus is God, but leader George Baker has also claimed to be God and Holy Spirit.

PEOPLES TEMPLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH -Jim Jones considered himself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and led over 900 followers to their deaths.

PHILADELPHIA CHURCH – Recently formed breakaway group from World Wide Church of God. Carries on with old Armstrongism teachings. Denies Trinity, God is a Family.

PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT – Jesus a man.

PSYCHIANA – Jesus a human life acting out the God-power.

RADHA SOAMI SOCIETY – Jesus one of many lords.

RAJNEESH MEDITATION CENTERS (ORANGE PEOPLE) – God is not a person. Existence is without cause.

REORGANIZED CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS – Jesus Christ existed with God in the beginning, sharing in creation.

REV. IKE (FREDERICK EIKERENKOETTER) – Deity is “the presence of God in you”. There are no literal, spiritual realities.

ROSICRUCIANISM (ROSICRUCI ; AMORC) – Reincarnated man is a manifestation of the cosmic Christ.

RUHANI SATSANG – Jesus Christ essentially a man of the East.

SANATANA DHARMA FOUNDATION – Jesus is a man who achieved a divine state through meditation.

SATHYA SAI BABA – Claims to be Christ and has achieved “God-realization”.

SCIENTOLOGY – All are gods including Christ.

SELF-REALIZATION FELLOWSHIP – Separates Jesus and Christ. Jesus was indwelt by “Christ-consciousness”.

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISM -Believe Jesus is God but also that he is Michael. Christ did not complete atonement at Calvary.

SHREE GURU DEV SIDDHA YOGA ASHRAM – Believes leader is God.

SIKHISM – If a person works his way to salvation he is absorbed into the formless God.

SILVA MIND CONTROL -Seek oneness with pantheistic deity; speak of “Christ awareness”.

SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL FOUNDATION – Their leader, Sai Baba, is Jesus Christ who was returned. Man forgets he is God.

SPIRITUAL FRONTIERS FELLOWSHIP – Jesus the man died but Christ lived. Uses seances.

SPIRITUALISTS – Jesus was a Jewish medium.

SRI CHINMOY CENTERS – God is seen as consciousness and light. Divinity is within.

STILL POINT INSTITUTE – Christ is an evolutive god, a cosmic Christ.

SUBUD (GURDJIEFF; RENAISSANCE FELLOWSHIP OF FRIENDS) – God is a “great life force” flowing through everything and is felt by inner vibrations. Impersonal.

SUFISM – God-consciousness by whirling dancing.

SUFISM REORIENTED INC. – Meher Baba claimed to be Christ incarnate.

SUMMIT LIGHTHOUSE (SUMMI NTERNATIONAL) (See Church Universal and Triumphant)

SWAMI KRIYANANDA – Followers seek God-realization; Hinduistic.

SWAMI RAMI (HIMALAYAN INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF YOGA SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY) Combines Indian religious philosophy with psychological therapeutic techniques.

SWAMI VIVEKANANDA (VEDANTA SOCIETY) – Mystical Hinduism; Ramakrishna worthy of same devotion as Christ.

SWEDENBORGISM – Calls Jesus god but denies the personality of the Holy Spirit.

TAOISM – Worships creator-principle of the Tao (“The Force”) Ignores Christ.

THEOSOPHY – Christ is the reincarnation of the world’s soul.

THE 3 HO FOUNDATION (YOGI BHAJAN; SIKH FOUNDATION) – God is cosmic consciousness. Pantheistic.

T.M. (TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION) – Christ is a prophet. Mankind can meditate into God-awareness without a mediator.

THE UNIFICATION CHURCH – (See Moonies)

UNITY (UNITY SCHOOL OF CHRISTIANITY) – Jesus was a perfect man indwelt by the Christ consciousness present in everybody.

UNITARIANS (UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST ASSOC.) – Jesus extraordinarily good man only.

UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH – Denies Trinity.

URANTIA – Jesus a “Creator Son” called “Michael”.

THE WALK – (See Church of the Living Word)

THE WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY – (See Jehovah’s Witnesses)

THE WAY INTERNATIONAL – Jesus is not God.

WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD – (See Armstrongism)

YOGA – A series of exercises designed to align your body to absorb the cosmic force.

ANANDA MARGA YOGA – Jesus is considered God, but you, too, will become God.

INTEGRAL YOGA INSTITUTE – God has no name, no form, no place. Evil is also God.

SIVANANDA YOGA VENDENTA CENTERS – God (or Christ) is not a person or spirit, but consciousness.

TANTRIC YOGA – Achieving God realization by sexual means.

ZOROASTRIANISM – Does not recognize personal God.

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Not all religions are Christian.
There is a difference.

The Gospel message of Salvation is clear:

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

No one comes to the Father except through Him.

http://mmoutreach.org/other_cults/articles/what_do_they_think_of_christ.htm

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Trinity…equal or hierarchal?

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1. Given that there is God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is there a hierarchy in the Trinity?

 
The short answer is “yes” and “no.” Consider the biblical evidence.

 
Yes – there is a hierarchy in relationship within the Trinity.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” God is recognized honored as the One with Fatherhood.

Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “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. ” Jesus is recognized as being the Son with the appearance of coming after the Father and with unique characteristics: part man and fully God.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 that “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.” Thus the Holy Spirit knows and understands the thoughts and depths of God. And Jesus tells us in John 15:26, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me.”

The Father sent the Son whose purpose was to reveal the Father. The Son sent the Spirit whose purpose was to reveal the Son.

NO- no hierarchy exists in nature within the Trinity despite the different functional roles that They play.

Creation. Each personality of the Trinity created the world.

God the Father
Psalm 102:25, “Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” 

Creation of man. Each personality of the Trinity created man.

God the Father
Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

Jesus Christ the Son
Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

Holy Spirit
Job 33:4, “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

The Incarnation. The power of God, ministered through the Holy Spirit, resulted in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Luke 1:35, “The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.”
Matthew 1:18-20, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism of Our Lord. When Jesus Christ was baptized, the Spirit descended on Him and God the Father attested to His Son.

Matthew 3:15-16, “But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.'”

Death of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the death of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

The Resurrection of Christ. Each personality of the Trinity was involved with the resurrection.


God the Father

Acts 3:26, “For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

1 Thessalonians 1:10, “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”

Jesus Christ the Son
John 2:19-21, “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?’ But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”

John 10:17, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.”

Holy Spirit
Romans 8:11, “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

The Provision of Our Redemption. Each personality of the Trinity is brought together in providing for man’s eternal salvation.

God the Father chose us for salvation, Jesus Christ the Son was the offering to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit set us apart.

Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
1 Peter 1:1-2, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.”

Indwelling Believers. Both Jesus and God the Father dwell within Believers through the person of the Holy Spirit.

John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.”

John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”

The Great Commission. The name of each distinct personality of the Trinity is invoked at baptism; but note that they are declared in one name.

Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'”

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/4Trinity/DeityEqualOrHierarchal.aspx

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HOW ANCIENT IS THE TRINITY DOCTRINE?

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by Wesley P. Walters

As different as para-Christian groups or cults are from each other, most have one thing in common: they hate the biblical teaching of the Trinity. They want their God to be simplistic, uncomplicated, and less complex than the world He created. They want a God reduced to terms they can get their finite minds around.

Modern advances in science have shown that the created world is an extremely complex mechanism. Those who work in nuclear physics or molecular biology are continually discovering the complexity of the world God has created.

In fact, some complex, seemingly contradictory data has yet to be fitted into a rational system that explains the relationships. A simple thing like “light” is known to move like “waves” yet strike like “particles.” Atomic physicists are still struggling to put together a theory that can fully explain this apparent contradiction.

Those who work in the complex mathematical equations of quantum mechanics are told by their instructors that “If you think that you really understand quantum mechanics and how it applies to reality, that proves you do not understand it.” One of the basic theorems is that if the speed of a particle is known, then its location can not be known, and the more accurately you know its location, the less accurately you know its speed. This does not seem very logical to the average person, but it works very well in atomic physics, in which scientists get very close to the essence of matter.

Thus, while scientists are continually learning more about how complex and even apparently contradictory the world of created reality is, cults that reject the complexity of the God who made this reality are proliferating. They, along with Moslems and modern Jews, taunt Christians, saying: “How can there be just one God, and yet the Father be God, the Son be God and the Holy Spirit be God? Is He the Son of Himself and the Father of both?”

Even though Christ Himself taught that the name [singular] of God in which we baptize is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), all cults falsely assert that the doctrine of the Trinity is a teaching that grew out of fourth century paganism. So unified are the cults in this assertion that they appear to be using the same erroneous Church history book and parroting one another.

The truth is that by the time of Christ, the first century A.D., the Jews themselves, on the basis of the Old Testament, were coming to an understanding of the complexity of Yahweh.

The Teachings of The Targums

When the Jews returned from Babylonian captivity 450 years before the birth of Jesus, they had adopted Aramaic as their native language. Although it is a dialect of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic is about as different from it as modern Italian is from its classical Latin ancestor. Consequently, during the first and early second centuries A.D., Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Old Testament were made.

These translations, called Targums, were The Living Bibles of their day, an interpretive paraphrase of Scripture. They help us see how these first-century Jews understood their Old Testament.

One of the striking things these Targums show is that first century Jews had come to understand the phrase “the Word of God” as referring to a divine entity within God Himself, yet distinguishable at times from God. J.W. Etheridge, in the introduction to his translations of the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, has given us a number of examples of this Jewish understanding of the term, “the Word” (Aramaic: Memra).

In Genesis 18:1, where the Hebrew Bible says Yahweh (Jehovah) appeared to Abraham, the Targum says, “The Word of the Lord appeared to Abraham.” Further on, where the Hebrew reports “Yahweh rained down upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven,” the Targum states that “the Word of the Lord sent down upon them sulphur and fire from the presence of the Lord out of heaven.” (Genesis 19:24)

In Genesis 16, when Hagar sees “the Angel of the Lord,” the Targum says she saw “the Word of the Lord.” After seeing this “Word” (Memra) she says, “Here has been revealed the glory of the Shekineh of the Lord.” Then, according to the Jerusalem Targum, “Hagar returned thanks and prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, who had appeared to her.” Thus the Word not only is regard- ed as the presence of deity, but is in some manner personally distinguishable from the Lord.

In Genesis 28:20 the Targum of Onkelos paraphrases Jacob’s vow, “If God will be with me… then Yahweh will be my God” with the words, “If the Word of the Lord will be my help… the Word of the Lord shall be my God.” Again, the Angel of Yahweh who spoke to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14) is designated by the Jerusalem Targum as “the Word of the Lord.”

The distinct personality of this Divine Word is seen pointedly in Jonathan’s Targum of Isaiah 63:7-10. There, where the Hebrew text speaks of Yahweh being their Savior, the Targum reads, “the Word (Memra) was their Redeemer.” (vs. 8) When the Israelites continued to disobey, then “His Word (Memra) became their enemy, and fought against them” — an action ascribed to Yahweh in the Hebrew text. Again in Isaiah 45:22 the Targum of Jonathan exhorts, “Look unto My Word and be saved.”

While this personalizing of the Word was being expressed in Palestine in the Targums of Jesus’ day, Philo, an Egyptian Jew and contemporary of Jesus, was expressing similar thoughts in even more distinct words. In his essay “On the Creation,” Philo states that man was not made in the image of some creature, but in the image of God’s own uncreated Word. He wrote: “for the Creator, we know, employed for its making no pattern taken from among created things, but solely, as I have said, His own Word.”

Philo continues: “Man was made a likeness and imitation of the Word, when the Divine Breath was breathed into his face. (“On the Creation,” XLVIII: 139, Loeb Edition I, pp. 110-111)

In his work on Noah, Philo again expresses the teaching that man is made by “the First Cause” (that is, God) in the image of “the Eternal Word:” “Our great Moses likened the fashion of the rea- sonable soul to no created thing, but averred it to be a genuine coinage of that dread Spirit, the Divine and Invisible One, signed and impressed by the seal of God, the stamp of which is the Eternal Word.”

He continues: “…man has been made after the Image of God (Genesis 1:27), not however after the image of anything created… man’s soul having been made after the image of the Archetype, the Word of the First Cause.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:18-20, Loeb III, pp. 222-223)

Thus, the eternal Word is in some sense distinguishable from God, and yet at the same time is, like God, uncreated, rational and the bearer of the divine image. This comes very close to the teaching of the New Testament that the Word was distinguishable from God, and yet was God. As John 1:1 expresses it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It also appears similar to Paul’s teaching that the Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15); and the writer of Hebrews statement that the Son “is the exact representation of His being.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Philo, however, goes further. He says that God is the king and shepherd of all creation, but rules and controls it through his eternally existing Word, whom Philo calls God’s “First-born Son.”

His “hallowed flock” of created things God directs by his divine laws, setting over it His true Word and first-born son, who shall take upon Him its government like some viceroy of a great king. (“On Husbandry,” I:51, Loeb III, pp. 134-135)

Philo has God expressing Himself in this manner: “I alone… sustained the Universe to rest firm and sure upon the Mighty Word, who is My viceroy.” (“On Dreams,” I:241, Loeb V, pp. 424- 425)

Therefore this eternal Word, God’s first-born Son, is the upholder of the whole creation, “the everlasting Word of the eternal God is the very sure and staunch prop of the Whole. He it is, who extending Himself from the midst to its utmost bounds… keeps up through all its length Nature’s unvanquished course, combining and compacting all its parts. For the Father who begat Him constituted His Word such a Bond of the Universe as nothing can break.” (“Noah’s Work as a Planter,” I:8-9, Loeb III, pp. 216-217)

This reflects the same thought that Paul expressed about the Son as being the one “in whom all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17) It also reminds also reminds us of Hebrews 1:3, which depicts the Son as “sustaining all things by his powerful Word.”

Philo continues his discussion of the Word by maintaining that to those incapable of seeing the supreme cause, God Himself, He appears to them in the form of His Angel, the Word: “For just as those who are unable to see the sun itself, see the gleam of the parahelion and take it for the sun, and take the halo round the moon for that luminary itself, so some regard the image of God, His Angel, the Word, as His very self.” (“On Dreams,” I:239, Loeb V, pp. 422-423) This sounds very similar to the teaching tha t the Son is “the radiance (or outshining) of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3), the only part of God’s nature that people are allowed to see. This is true because “no one has ever seen God,” but “the only begotten God… He has made Him known.” (John 1:18) Thus, Jesus, the Son, can say, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

Philo further explained that God, being light, is “the archetype of every other light.” As such He is “prior to and high above every archetype.” Thus He holds the position of “a model of a model,” that is, He is the model for His Word, which Word becomes the model for creation. The Word, therefore, contains all the qualities of God. As Philo expressed it, “the model or pattern was the Word which contained all His fullness — light, in fact.” (“On Dreams,” I:75, Loeb V, pp. 336-337) Paul expressed a similar thought when he wrote that in the Son all God’s fullness dwells. (Colossians 1:19; 2:9)

To Philo, therefore, the Word of God is the eternal, uncreated Word containing all the fullness of God and bearing His image. That divine image which the Word bears is the image in which man was created. The Word is further the sustainer, upholder and ruler of the world, carrying on the governing of all things, as God’s viceroy, and containing all God’s fullness.

While the Word is not a created thing and carries on all the functions of God, Philo is clear that there are not two gods — although he does not attempt to explain how this can be. Philo’s teaching is, therefore, very close to the biblical doctrine of the Trinity. Philo reached his conclusions without the aid of the New Testament and certainly without deriving his ideas from pagan notions of deity. The Old Testament teaching that the Angel of Yahweh is really the presence of Yahweh Himself seems to have strongly influenced Philo’s ideas.

To relegate the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, to a fourth- century adaptation of paganism is to ignore the conclusions that several Jewish theologians and teachers had reached four centuries earlier, from God’s revelations given to Israel before the time of the coming of Christ. At the very time that the Word was becoming flesh (John 1:1, 14), Jewish writers were already beginning to see that God’s Word could in some way be distinguished from God the Father Himself, yet have all the fullness of God contained in Him.

http://www.barr-family.com/godsword/trinity.htm

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THE EARLY CHURCH WAS OUTSPOKEN ON THE DEITY OF CHRIST

If One examines carefully the writings of the early church writers their language and theology reflects their understanding of the Trinity. They contended from Scripture not from Greek philosophy or paganism as is charged from anti-Trinitarian opponents. Trinitarianism certainly was not developed in the 4th century but was part of the theology of the early church. Those who oppose it today, are not part of the Church just as they were not part of the Church in the beginning.

Ignatius Bishop of Antioch died about 110 A.D. he was a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote about the lords 2nd coming, “Look for him that is above the times, him who has not times, him who is invisible”. Only God is without time , eternal and invisible. In numerous other places in his letter to Polycarp he states “Jesus is God”, “God incarnate”

“Be deaf, therefore, when any would speak to you apart from (at variance with) JESUS CHRIST [the Son of God], who was descended from the family of David, born of Mary, who truly was born [both of God and of the Virgin … truly took a body; for the Word became flesh and dwelt among us without sin”… Bishop of Antioch died about 110 A.D. he was a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote about the lords 2nd coming, “Look for him that is above the times, him who has not times, him who is invisible”. Only God is without time , eternal and invisible. In numerous other places in his letter to Polycarp he states “Jesus is God”, “God incarnate.”

“Be deaf, therefore, when any would speak to you apart from (at variance with) JESUS CHRIST [the Son of God], who was descended from the family of David, born of Mary, who truly was born [both of God and of the Virgin … truly took a body; for the Word became flesh and dwelt among us without sin.”

Ignatius of Antioch “In Christ Jesus our Lord, by whom and with whom be glory and power to the Father with the Holy Spirit for ever” (n. 7; PG 5.988).

“We have also as a Physician the Lord our God Jesus the Christ the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For ‘the Word was made flesh.’ Being incorporeal, He was in the body; being impassible, He was in a passible body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.” ( The ante-nicene Fathers, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, Vol. 1, p. 52 .)

“For our God Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost.”( Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 4:9)

“…God Himself appearing in the form of a man, for the renewal of eternal life.”( Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 4:13)

“Continue inseparable from Jesus Christ our God.”( Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians 2:4)

“For even our God, Jesus Christ, now that He is in the Father”.( Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans 1:13)

Clement of Rome (Philipians 4:3)”For Christ is with those who are humble, not with those exalt themselves over his flock. The majestic scepter of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, did not come with the pomp of arrogance or pride (though He could have done so), but in humility, just as the Holy Spirit spoke concerning Him.” (1 Clement 16:1-2)

“Brethren, we ought so to think of Jesus Christ as of God : as of the judge of the living and the dead”.(2nd Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians 1:1)

Justin Martyr ( 140 A.D.) “the word of wisdom, who is himself God begotten of the Father of all things, and word, and wisdom, and power, and the glory of the begetter, will bear evidence to me”.(Dialogue with Tropho Ch.61)

“God speaks in the creation of man with the very same design, in the following words: ‘Let us make man after our image and likeness’ . . . I shall quote again the words narrated by Moses himself, from which we can indisputably learn that [God] conversed with someone numerically distinct from himself and also a rational being. . . . But this Offspring who was truly brought forth from the Father, was with the Father before all the creatures, and the Father communed with him” (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 62).

“For Christ is King, and Priest, and God and Lord…”(Dialogue With Trypho, 34)

“…He preexisted as the Son of theCreator of things, being God, and that He was born a man by the Virgin.” (Dialogue With Trypho, 48 )

“We will prove that we worship him reasonably; for we have learned that he is the Son of the true God Himself, that he holds a second place, and the Spirit of prophecy a third. For this they accuse us of madness, saying that we attribute to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all things; but they are ignorant of the Mystery which lies therein” (First Apology 13:5-6).

Polycarp (70-160). Bishop of Smyrna.A disciple of John the Apostle. “O Lord God almighty…I bless you and glorify you through the eternal and heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be glory to you, with Him and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever”

“Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal High Priest Himself, the God Jesus Christ, build you up in the faith…”( The Epistle of Polycarp to the Church at Philippi, 12

Iranaeus (120-202) “In order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King…”(Irenaeus Against Heresies, 1.10.1)

180 A.D. “But he Jesus is himself in his own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, Lord, and king eternal, and the incarnate word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles …The Scriptures would not have borne witness to these things concerning Him, if, like everyone else, He were mere man.” (Against Heresies 3:19.1-2)

“For with Him were always present the Word and Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, by whom and in whom, freely and spontaneously, He made all things, to whom also He speaks, saying, ‘Let us make man after our image and likeness'”.( Against Heresies, 4:10)

Iranaeus gave the Church two statements which have continued in its creeds: (1) Filius dei filius hominis factus, “The Son of God [has] become a son of man, (Earl Cairns Christianity Through the Centuries, Zondervan, 1981, pg.110) Jesus Christus vere homo, vere deus, “Jesus Christ, true man and true God.” (Harold Brown Heresies, Zondervan, 1989, pg.84)

Irenaeus gave three forms of the statement of faith in three different contexts in This is showing the variety of ways that the faith could be expressed in his day:)

Third Form: IN ONE GOD ALMIGHTY, from whom are all things; and IN THE SON OF GOD, JESUS CHRIST, our Lord, by whom are all things, and in his dispensations, through which the Son of God became man; the firm -persuasion also IN THE SPIRIT OF GOD, who furnishes us with a knowledge of the truth, and has set forth the dispensations of the Father and the Son, in virtue of which he dwells in every generation of men, according to the will of the Father (IV. xxiii. 7).(God in three persons C.Beisner) this is long before the council of Niacea.

Diogneteus Diogneteus to Mathetes (written 130 A.D.) “as a king sends his Son, who is also king, so sent he him, as God (1) he sent him; as men he sent him; as savior he sent him,…” Chpt.7 says “God” (1) which refers to the person sent.

Theophilus (115-181) Bishop of Antioch (To Autolycus 2:22 ,160 A.D.) “For the divine writing itself teaches us that Adam said that he had heard the voice but what else is this voice but the word of God, who is also his Son.”

Tatian the Syrian (170 AD ) “Our God has no introduction in time. He alone is without beginning, and is Himself the beginning of all things. God is a spirit, not attending upon matter, but the Maker of material spirits and of the appearances which are in matter. He is invisible and untouchable, being Himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things. This we know by the evidence of what He has created; and we perceive His invisible power by His works”.(Tatian, Address to the Greeks , 4)

“We are not playing the fool, you Greeks, nor do we talk nonsense, when we report that God was born in the form of a man” (Address to the Greeks 21).

Melito of Sardis (177 AD )The activities of Christ after his baptism, and especially his miracles, gave indication and assurance to the world of the deity hidden in his flesh. Being God and likewise perfect man, he gave positive indications of his two natures: of his deity, by the miracles during the three years following after his baptism… he concealed the signs of his deity, although he was the true God existing before the ages” (Fragment in Anastasius of Sinai’s, The Guide 13).

Athenagoras (160 AD.) Speaks of “one God, the uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, uncontainable, comprehended only by mindand reason, clothed in light and beauty and spirit and powerindescribable, by whom the totality has come to be.”(suppl. 10.1)

…”the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in oneness and power of Spirit, the understanding, and reason of the Father is the Son of God.” (Ante Nicene Fathers vol.2 p.133 a plea for Christians)

“For Christ is the God over all”.(Refutation of All Heresies 10.34)

Athenagoras identifies the Word as the Son of God, says ‘although the word is God’s offspring, he never came into being. Rather, having been with God and in God eternally he issued forth at a point in time.”( A plea for the Christians 12.20) “God the Word came down from heaven…He came forth into the world and…showed Himself to be God”.( Against the Heresy of a Certain Noetus, 17)

speaking of what the church believes, “they hold the Father to be God, and the Son God, and the Holy Spirit, and declare their union and their distinction in order.”(A plea for the Christians.10.3)

“Who, then, would not be astonished to hear those called atheists who admit God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and who teach their unity in power and their distinction in rank?”( Intercession on Behalf of the Saints, 10)

Clement of Alexandria (190 AD) “The Word, then, the Christ, is the cause both of our ancient beginning, for he was in God, and of our well-being. And now this same Word has appeared as man. He alone. is both God and man, and the source of all our good things” (Exhortation to the Greeks 1:7:1).

Tertullian (converted around 193 AD)(215 AD) “The origins of both his substances display him as man and as God: from the one, born, and from the other, not born” (The Flesh of Christ 5:6-7).

“God alone is without sin. The only man without sin is Christ; for Christ is also God.”(The Soul 41.3)

We find that it was the ones who did not understand the trinity that were looked upon as divisive. Tetullians theological writings consisted mostly in response to what the Oneness (modalists) believes. (God is singular in person) When he debated Praxeas of which he wrote. “thus the connection of the Father in the Son the Son in the paraclete, produces three coherent persons, who are yet distinct one from another. These three are one essence, not one person, as it is said, “I and my Father are one,” in respect of unity of substance, not singularity of number.”( Ante-Nicene fathers vol.3,p.621, against Praxeas.) He went on to say “Yet we have never given vent to the phrases ‘two Gods’, or ‘two Lords’: not that it is untrue the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God, each is God.” (ibid 13)

Tetullian developed his arguments and refined his belief of which the third form of his rule of faith became this. “We believe there is but one God, and no other besides the maker of the world, who produced the universe out of nothing, by his word sent forth first of all, that this word, called his Son, was seen in the name of God in various ways by the patriarchs, was always heard in the prophets, at last sent down, from the spirit and power of God the Father, into the virgin Mary, was made flesh in her womb, and born of her, lived as Jesus Christ…”.

Not only is he careful in his explanation but throughout all his writings he defines three persons and one substance who are the one God. .”That this one and only God has a Son, his word, who proceeded from himself, by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. him we believe to have been sent by the Father into the virgin, and to have been born of her- being both man and God, the Son of man, and the Son of God, and to have been called the name of Jesus Christ;” (against Praxeas vol.3, p.598)

Novatian (235 AD. )”For Scripture as much announces Christ as also God, as it announces God Himself as man. It has as much described Jesus Christ to be man, as moreover it has also described Christ the Lord to be God. Because it does not set forth Him to be the Son of God only, but also the Son of man; nor does it only say, the Son of man, but it has also been accustomed to speak of Him as the Son of God. So that being of both, He is both, lest if He should be one only, He could not be the other. For as nature itself has prescribed that he must be believed to be a man who is of man, so the same nature prescribes also that He must be believed to be God who is of God . . . Let them, therefore, who read that Jesus Christ the Son of man is man, read also that this same Jesus is called also God and the Son of God” (Treatise on the Trinity 11).

Novatian “The rule of truth demands that, first of all, we believe in GOD THE FATHER and Almighty Lord, that is, the most perfect Maker of all things. . .’ The same rule of truth teaches us to believe, after the Father, also in the SON OF GOD, CHRIST JESUS, our Lord God, but the Son of God…. Moreover, the order of reason and the authority of faith, in due consideration of the words and Scriptures of the Lord ‘, admonishes us, after this, to believe also in the HOLY GHOST, promised of old to the Church, but granted in the appointed and fitting time.

The church did not have non-Trinitarians. The Gnostics, Arians, Oneness and others were considered to be praching heresy and were excluded from the church universal. (This is not my words but the Churches) This did not stop them from going out and starting their own movements and church’s. These were the first cultic movements and many today have aligned themselves with their teachings , some have synthesized several of them together to make something altogether new.

Hippolytus 190 A.D. (Against the heresy of one Noetus “a Oneness promoter” ch.14, ) After quoting part of Jn.1:1 “If then the word was with God and was also God what follows ? Would one say that he speaks of two God’s ? I shall not speak of two Gods but of one; of two persons however and of a third economy, the grace of the Holy Ghost. For the Father is indeed one but there are two persons because there is also the son; and there is the third the Holy Spirit. The Father decrees, the word executes and the son is manifested, through whom the Father is believed on. The economy of the harmony is led back to the one God, for God is one. It is the father who commands and the son who obeys and the Holy Spirit who gives understanding; The Father is above all the son is through all and the holy Spirit who is in all. And we cannot think of one God, but by believing in truth in Father and Son and Holy Spirit”.

“God, subsisting alone, and having nothing contemporaneous with Himself, determined to create the world….Beside Him there was nothing; but He, while existing alone, yet existed in plurality….And thus there appeared another beside Himself. But when I say another, I do not mean that there are two Gods….Thus, then, these too, though they wish it not, fall in with the truth, and admit that one God made all things….For Christ is the God above all…..He who is over all is God; for thus He speaks boldly, ‘All things are delivered unto me of my Father.’ He who is over all, God blessed, has been born; and having been made man, He is (yet) God for ever….And well has he named Christ the Almighty. “(Hippolytus ” The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 5, pp. 227, 153, 225)

In another of his writings “This is the order of the rule of our faith…God the Father, not made, not material, invisible; One God, the creator of all things; this is the first point of our faith. the second point is this; the word of God, Son of God, Christ Jesus our Lord who was manifested to the prophets according to the form of their prophesying and according to the method of the fathers dispensation, through whom all things were made.”

Gregory the Wonder-worker (262 AD) “But some treat the Holy Trinity in an awful manner, when they confidently assert that there are not three persons, and introduce (the idea of) a person devoid of subsistence. Wherefore we clear ourselves of Sabellius, who says that the Father and the Son are the same [Person] . . . We forswear this, because we believe that three persons–namely, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–are declared to possess the one Godhead: for the one divinity showing itself forth according to nature in the Trinity establishes the oneness of the nature” (A Sectional Confession of Faith 8).

“But if they say, ‘How can there be three Persons, and how but one Divinity?’ we shall make this reply: That there are indeed three persons, inasmuch as there is one person of God the Father, and one of the Lord the Son, and one of the Holy Spirit; and yet that there is but one divinity, inasmuch as . . . there is one substance in the Trinity” (A Sectional Confession of Faith, 14)

Dionysius (262 AD )”Neither, then, may we divide into three godheads the wonderful and divine unity . . . Rather, we must believe in God, the Father almighty; and in Christ Jesus, his Son; and in the Holy Spirit; and that the Word is united to the God of the Universe. `For,’ he says, ‘The Father and I are one,’ and `I am in the Father, and the Father in me'” (Letter to Dionysius of Alexandria, 3)

Methodius (305 AD) “For the kingdom of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is one, even as their substance is one and their dominion one. Whence also, with one and the same adoration, we worship the one Deity in three Persons, subsisting without beginning, uncreated, without end, and to which there is no successor…. For nothing of the Trinity will suffer diminution, either in respect of eternity, or of communion, or of sovereignty” (Oration on the Psalms 5).

Arnobius (305 AD) “‘Well, then,’ some raging, angry, and excited man will say, ‘Is that Christ your God?’ ‘God indeed,’ we shall answer, ‘and God of the hidden powers'” (Against the Pagans 1:42).

Athanasius (290 -370) “[The Trinity] is a Trinity not merely in name or in a figurative manner of speaking; rather, it is a Trinity in truth and in actual existence. Just as the Father is he that is, so also his Word is one that is and is God over all. And neither is the Holy Spirit nonexistent but actually exists and has true being.” (Letters to Serapion 1:28).

“United without confusion, distinguished without separation. Indivisible and without degrees.” (Sermon on Lk.10:22)

http://www.letusreason.org/Trin1.htm

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IS THE TRINITY PAGAN? Is the Holy Trinity Pagan?

Some groups (including Jehovah’s Witnesses) claim that the Holy Trinity comes from paganism; Is there really any truth, or hard evidence in this claim?

My purpose in this article and in the graph which follows it, is to show that this claim is a nonsense because, as a matter of fact, the Trinity is a very distinctively Christian belief. Following this brief article you will find a graph showing how The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit are all biblically revealed to be God. If you do not read the article at least scroll down to the Godhead graph so you will know the Scriptures to quote in any future controversy.

So What is the Trinity?

It is the Christian belief that there are Three Persons in One God. These Three Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – are distinct from one another yet they share the same Divine Nature. Thus they are not three distinct gods, but one God; so God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit ALL (according to the Holy Bible) bear the character and attributes of God.

Some cults and sects claim that the early Christians copied the Holy Trinity from surrounding pagan religions. They are a mile from the truth. So just what is the truth? Why did the ‘Church Fathers’ find it necessary to set out this doctrine? Far from what the sects and cults teach (and they are often woefully ignorant of the facts of church history), the concept actually came from a very careful reading and inspired interpretation of the Bible, which refers to three distinct Persons as “God” yet insists that there is but one God. The ‘fathers’ were concerned that some early groups were coming to an understanding of God which did not do full justice to ALL the Scriptures about God so they found it necessary to set these things out doctrinally in order to avoid error and heresy. Many of these things were set out in doctrinal, creedal fashion in the 4th century. Much (though not all) of this was in order to refute Arius who was guilty of perverting the Scriptures which refer to God. This man, of course, came to give his name to the well-recognized heresy of Arianism – very much ‘alive and kicking’ in today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Evidence of an Egyptian “Trinity”?

Before Christianity, no religion ever believed in a single Deity consisting of three persons. Detractors sometimes say that the Osirus-Isis-Horus family of ancient Egyptian mythology was a “model” for the Christian Trinity. Yet this is clearly a triad of distinct pagan deities, not a trinity in the Christian sense. The Egyptians never considered them to be three persons in one God, but as two separate gods and a goddess – among numerous other divinities such as Hathor, Ptah, Neith, Set, Nut, Geb, and Basht, to name a few. The highest deity in their pantheon was the sun god Ra, so they didn’t even consider the Osirus-Isis-Horus triad to be supreme among the gods!

A Triune Goddess Among the Celts?

Some point to “triple goddesses” worshipped by the pagan Celts as forerunners of the Christian Trinity. Yet these were either triads of mother goddesses or a single goddess with three “aspects” or “modes of being”. The Holy Trinity isn’t one Divine Person with three “aspects” or “modes”, for the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are personally distinct from one another. Thus the “triple goddess” is merely a threefold deity, not a true trinity in the Christian sense, thus could not be the origin of the Holy Trinity.

The problem is that when people go looking for pagan ‘divine triads’ they might well find them, but so would they find ‘divine quartets’, ‘divine septets’ or almost anything else! It depends what the researcher is looking for! We must realize that in India alone it is claimed that over 1,000,000 deities are worshipped (according to the region and the particular strain of religiosity one prefers)!! – in such a huge number we might find almost anything! However, if it could indeed be shown that there are many pagan divine triads (probably highly dubious), is it not possible that Satan himself could have fashioned this on his knowledge of God as the former Lucifer? It would “prove” nothing.

Hindu Trimurti = Trinity?

Other critics within the cults claim that the Hindu “trimurti” – Brahma, Vishnu and Siva – was another model for the Christian Trinity. Yet scholars tell us that this “trimurti” only appears in Hinduism during the 4th-7th centuries AD. By that time the Christian understanding of the Holy Trinity was becoming fairly well-established! If the Holy Trinity concept predates the Hindu trimurti (which certainly appears to be the case), the former could not have been copied from the latter. In fact, given Hinduism’s tendency to absorb concepts from other religions, and the fact that Christianity reached India in the first century, it is very likely that the Hindu teachers developed the trimurti along the lines of the Trinity-concept professed by Indian Christians!

Yet the former is not an exact copy of the latter. Hindus do not consider Brahma, Vishnu and Siva to be three persons in one God, but three distinct gods who each manifest part of Brahman, the impersonal Absolute. Some even add a fourth god, Ishvara, to this group, and claim that he is the first – antecedent to the other three! This demolishes the threeness which might seem to parallel the Trinity.

Moreover, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva each have a goddess consort – Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Sakti respectively. That would make not three but six. Add Ishvara and his consort, Maheshvari, and you now have eight primary manifestations of Brahman! Yet these are only eight among millions of divinities in the Hindu tradition, all of which are considered various manifestations of the Absolute.

Thus any alleged Hindu parallel with the Trinity quickly dissolves into a modalistic polytheism and finally a monistic pantheism, in which all diversity in the universe merely manifests an underlying spiritual Unity (a concept which has no place at all in orthodox Christianity, although it certainly appears in New Ageism).

CONCLUSION
(But please check out the graph AT THE ARTICLES SITE before you leave this article!)

It is only too clear that those cults and sects which reject the Trinity do not even correctly understand it so it should not surprise us that they think they can find the Trinity in polytheism or modalism when those concepts are absolutely anathema to the doctrine of The Holy Trinity. So the Christian concept of the Trinity is quite unique to world religions, not copied from another faith but progressively revealed by God in Holy Scripture. Undoubtedly some Christians believe that various pagan triads and threefold deities may have originated in a primitive revelation of – or memory of – the Triunity of the One True God. This is also quite possible. Perhaps the memory traces back to our first parents, who walked with God at the dawn of humanity. Or maybe God revealed something of the Divinity to “righteous pagans”, Gentiles of centuries past who genuinely sought the Most High God (the Bible certainly appears to suggest that such people have existed). These memories or revelations may have seeped into the legends of the human race, and soon became myths of divine triads and deities with three “aspects”. For every religion has an element of truth in it; perhaps this is one such element. This may show that God has not left the human race in complete ignorance of Divine Truth throughout the ages. But many other Christians, including myself, are somewhat sceptical that divine triads can be found in paganism any more than any other shape or number of “divinities”.

Thus if we do locate pagan religious notions which might bear a slight resemblance to biblical truth, they would frankly prove nothing, and most certainly they would not prove that early Christians copied these concepts. Why would the early Christians do such a thing when we have a record which shows how determined they were in their fight against paganism? In fact, we have a very clear record from church history which tells us why ‘the fathers’ were concerned to outline the Trinity: It was a concern that biblical truth about God should be carefully preserved.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/robin.brace/1THEGODHEAD.html

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Dr. Pyuwarmer flipped the chart closed, took off his reading glasses, and let out a long sigh. “John, there is a procedure that can save your life. I’d like you to consider it.

John Skeptich rubbed his temples and looked up. “Well, is it an invasive procedure?”

“Well, that’s hard to answer, John. Yes and no.”

“You call that an answer, doc?” John’s frustration was beginning to show. “Either it is or it isn’t.”

“Well, it’s kind of both. I’m sorry, but it’s hard to describe. It’s a very advanced procedure, and I don’t really understand it fully myself. However, I think you should have it done.”

“Do you have any literature that can explain it?”

“Well, yes, but it’s not very clearly spelled out. You kind of have to read between the lines. It’s all in there though.”

John could no longer hide his frustration. He stood up, grabbed his coat, and fixed Dr. Pyuwarmer with a hard look. “Look doctor. You’re asking me to submit to a procedure you don’t understand and can’t explain. With all due respect, I’ll take my chances!” With that, John swept out the door, slamming it so hard that Dr. Pyuwarmer’s medical school diploma fell from the wall.

Putting yourself in John’s shoes, it’s easy to see how hard it would be to put your faith in something that your doctor didn’t even understand. Just as in this analogy, Christians must be prepared to explain our faith with nonbelievers. There are few things more important for Christians to understand than the nature of God. Many of the differences between biblical Christianity and cults occur within the context of variant understandings of the nature of God. If we are to worship God in truth (John 4:24) and share the truth with others, it is vitally important that we have an understanding of what the Bible says about God.

Perhaps the single most misunderstood doctrine regarding the nature of God is the doctrine of the Trinity. Believers and nonbelievers alike have a difficult time comprehending God’s triune nature, and those that do understand have a difficult time explaining it. As critics of the Trinity are quick to point out, the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible, and no single verse provides a summary of the Trinitarian doctrine. In an email we received, LDS apologist D.L. Barksdale said, “The homoousion Trinitarian dogma is heretical to anyone who cherishes the Bible. It is an unbiblical doctrine…”

Complicating the issue are various misconceptions about the Trinity within Christianity as well as from without. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons disregard the Trinity, believing that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct gods, with the Father being a greater God than the other two. Jehovah’s Witnesses especially emphasize the subordination of the Godhead, believing Jesus to be Michael the Archangel – a created being, and a lesser “god” than Jehovah. Mormon doctrine is polytheistic (worship of multiple gods), though some Mormons will stress that their belief is henotheistic (belief in multiple gods, but worship of only one). Mohammad’s misunderstanding of the Trinity was apparently affected by the hyperdulia veneration of Mary seen in the Eastern and Roman Catholic churches, as the Qur’an accuses Christians of believing the Trinity to be composed of God the Father, Jesus, and Mary. Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity can pose a stumbling block for some people. A Jehovah’s Witness sent us an email that included the following (the English is poor, but you’ll see the point): “And when I can not find in any Bible that I read that there is a 3 headed god that will resurrect anyone on this earth, both now or ever. If this 3 headed god is your belief? I have never read about such a god in any Christian Bible that I have ever read!” As I told this man, we agree that the Bible does not teach of a three-headed god. That sounds more akin to the hydra of Greek mythology. Yet this illustrates the extent of the misunderstandings. Even Christian churches have been victimized by erroneous doctrines such as modalism, particularly Oneness theology.

We may never fully understand the nature of God until we get into heaven. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal. Our finite created minds are unable to fully grasp these characteristics of God. However, it is possible to have a basic understanding of the triune nature of God, and to be able to defend this doctrine with the Word of God. In this article, we’ll assess the Scriptural evidence and put the pieces together until they form a full picture. A triune God will be the only possible verdict based on an objective analysis of the Scriptural evidence.

The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as follows: Within the one Being that is God, there exist eternally three coequal and coeternal Persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[1] In order to prove this doctrine we must prove the following:

There is only one God

The Father is God

Jesus is God

The Holy Spirit is God

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons.

Each point above is very important, and we will clearly illustrate each. Heresy arises when these distinctions are blurred. For instance, modalism (also known as Oneness theology) would agree with items one through four, but item five is where modalism fails. However, as James White said in regards to the doctrine of the Trinity, “For some reason many feel that there is a hierarchy of ‘error’ when it comes to the Trinity…. We are to worship God in spirit and in truth, and two-thirds of the truth is not a valid substitute, no matter which one-third of His truth we choose to reject.”[2]

There is a treasure trove of Scriptures to support each of the points we’ll be studying. To keep this article at a reasonable length, where there are several relevant verses, I’ll limit the full verse quotation to two verses (in NIV, unless stated otherwise), and give the Scripture references for the rest.

1. There is only one God:

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are known as the big three monotheistic religions. You won’t find many arguments among Muslims, Jews, and Christians that there is more than one God, except perhaps among some aberrant sects. Nevertheless, let us establish this Scripturally before we move on to areas where disagreements will arise.

A. There is only one God:

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.” – Deuteronomy 4:35

“This is what the LORD says- Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” – Isaiah 44:6

Other Old Testament Verses: Deut. 4:39; 32:39; 2 Sam. 22:32; Isa. 37:20; 43:10; 44:6-8; 45:5, 14, 21-22; 46:9.

“How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” – John 5:44

“…since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.” Romans 3:30

Other New Testament Verses: Rom. 16:27; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Gal. 3:20; Eph. 4:6, 1 Tim. 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 25.

B. There is only one true God:

“But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath.” – Jeremiah 10:10

“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” – 1 John 5:20.

Other verses: 2 Chron. 15:3; John 17:3; 1 Thess. 1:9.

C. All other so-called “gods” are false gods.

“For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” – Psalm 96:5

“So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.” – 1 Corinthians 8:4

Other verses: Deut. 32:21; 1 Sam. 12:21; Isa. 37:19; 41:23-24, 29; Jer. 2:11; 5:7; 16:20; 1 Cor. 10:19-20.

The verses above are clear evidence that there is only one God. This is known as monotheism. Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are known as the three great monotheistic religions. However, Islam and Judaism will fall off as we continue our support of the Trinity.

2. There is a plurality to God.

The Hebrew word for God is el in its singular form. The most common form used for God is elohim, which is plural in form. How can there be plural form used for only one God? Some suggest that the answer is found in the three persons of the Trinity. Others contend that the plural construct denotes a fullness of deity as opposed to plurality. I submit that both interpretations are correct. I’m getting ahead of myself now though. Rather than look at all the verses that use the plural elohim, let’s look at other verses that point to a plurality within the one God.

“Let us make man in our image” – Genesis 1:26, emphasis added.

“God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us…’” – Genesis 3:22, emphasis added.

Some would say that God could be speaking to the angels in these verses, but that’s simply not correct. God was speaking to co-creator(s) in these verses (“Let us make man…”). Who could be a co-creator? Not the angels. The answer is found later in this article.

3. The Father is God.

This isn’t really an item that is in question. While God the Father is only known as the Father in the New Testament, Christians, Jews, Muslims, and pseudo-Christian cults understand that the Father in the New Testament is the Yahweh of the Old Testament, though some disagree with the characterization of “Father”. However, it is important to establish that the Father of the New Testament is the true God referred to in the Old Testament, known often as Yahweh, or “Jehovah”.[3]

A. The Father is God.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,” – 2 Corinthians 1:3

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” – Ephesians 1:3

Other verses: John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; 1 Peter 1:3; (Note: Some verses seem to indicate that Jesus is not God at first glance. These will be explained later).

B. The God of the Old Testament is known as Yahweh/Jehovah (“The LORD”).

“You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other…. Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” – Deuteronomy 4:35, 39.[4]

“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” – Psalm 100:3

Other verses: Gen. 9:26; 24; Exo. 3:14-18; 4:5; 2 Sam. 7:22, 25.

From the verses above, it is clear that Yahweh/Jehovah in the Old Testament is the one God. It is also clear that the Father in the New Testament is that one God. Now, let’s look at whether Jesus Christ is God. Remember, there is only one God. There is also a mysterious plurality to this one God. We have established that the Father is Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament. We now explore the plurality in the one true God.

4. Jesus is God.

There is a great deal of Scriptural evidence that Jesus Christ is God. The evidence is comprised not only of specific statements, but also in prophecy fulfillment and his attributes. Let’s first look at some of explicit Scriptural evidence. In this section, we won’t limit ourselves to only giving the text of two verses.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” – John 1:1

“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” – John 20:28

I want to pause just a moment to discuss the verses above. The Greek word for God is theos. In John 1:1, we read that the Word (Jesus) was with theos and was indeed theos. Jesus was (and is) God! This is a very powerful statement! The word theos is used not only in John 1:1, but also in verse 18 and in John 20:28. Theos is used in the New Testament in reference to Jehovah/Yahweh God. Theos is also used in reference to Jesus. We’re beginning to see the plurality found within the one God.

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11 (the words of the 24 elders to Jesus).

“…Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” – Acts 20:28

Once again, in the verses above Jesus is referred to as theos. In Acts 20:28, we know that Jesus shed His blood for the church, and as one person of the triune God, this action is the action of God. Now let’s look at some common compound references to Jesus:

“…the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” – Titus 2:13

“…To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” – 2 Peter 1:1

In the passages above, both “God” and “Savior” are used in reference to Jesus Christ. There is no division of the clause. Scholar Robert Reymond writes, “The two nouns [‘God’ and ‘Savior’] both stand under the regimen of the single definitive article preceding ‘God,’ indicating…that they are to be construed corporately, not separately, or that they have a single referent.”[5] In other words, attempts to divide this clause into a reference to God and a separate reference to Jesus as Savior flies against the Greek grammatical construct. These verses provide additional powerful and clear evidence that Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh God. Let’s now turn our attention to more verses that reveal Jesus to be Jehovah/Yahweh.

“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…. for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” – Romans 10:9,13. Note: Paul reveals Jesus to be the same “Lord” referred to in Joel 2:32, which he quotes. In Joel 2:32, “LORD” is Jehovah/Yahweh.

“…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11. Note: “Lord” = Jehovah/Yahweh.

“…now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” – 1 Peter 2:3. This verse is taken almost identically from Psalms 34:8, where “Lord” is Jehovah/Yahweh. From the verses that follow verse 3, it is clear this is a reference to Jesus.

Another way we know that Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh comes from the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy. Zechariah 12:10 says, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” This verse is part of an oracle given by Jehovah/Yahweh. This passage starts off in verse 1, “This is the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The LORD, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares…” Jehovah/Yahweh prophesies that He will be pierced. It is widely accepted among scholarly circles that this was fulfilled in the crucifixion and spearing of Jesus Christ. This is confirmed in Revelation 1:7 wherein we read concerning Jesus, “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” This is important enough to go over again. In Zechariah 12:10, Jehovah/Yahweh prophesies that He (Jehovah/Yahweh) will be pierced, and people will mourn for Him. Jesus Christ is pierced through his hands and feet at his crucifixion, and pierced through the side with a spear while on the cross. Revelation 1:7 confirms this fulfillment of prophecy. Conclusion? Jesus Christ is Jehovah/Yahweh!

Another evidence that Jesus is Jehovah/Yahweh comes from His role as Savior. Isaiah 43:11 says, “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior.” Yet Jesus is referred to many times in the New Testament as our Savior (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 13:23; Eph. 5:23; Phi. 3:20; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:10; Tit 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2 Pet. 1:1,11; 2:20; 3:2,18; 1 John 4:14).

Jesus caused no small uproar among the Jews of the day because He accepted praise and worship – blasphemous if He were not God! As we have seen, only God is the savior of men. Matthew 21:1-11 describes Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. He came riding in on a donkey, in fulfillment of an Old Testament messianic prophecy (Zec. 9:9). As Jesus rode in, we find the crowds that surrounded him shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Webster’s 1913 dictionary defined Hosanna as “A Hebrew exclamation of praise to the Lord.” The word is derived from a Hebrew word that meant “Save us,” in a prayer directed to God. This shows that the crowd viewed Jesus as God and Savior. It is important to note that Jesus did not rebuke the crowd for this praise. In verse 15, we find that the chief priests and Pharisees were outraged and indignant at this (because, as we said, this would be blasphemy for a mere man). Children had followed Jesus in to the temple are and were still shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” In verse 16, they asked Jesus if He could hear what the children were saying. No doubt they were shocked that he would not have straightened out the blasphemy of these little urchins. But Jesus did not rebuke the children. Instead, He answered, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” Additionally, in John 9:35-39 we read the following exchange:

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36″Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. [emphasis added]
39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Jesus accepted worship. This is not adoration of a mere prophet, but praise and worship due only to God. Jesus was either God or He was crazy, and there is ample evidence against the latter and in support of the former. Further evidence comes from the fact that Jesus has many of the attributes of God:

Creator (John 1:3, 1 Cor. 8:6; Col 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2; Rev. 3:14)

Unchanging (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8)

Eternal (John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:2)

Omniscient (John 16:30)

Omnipresent (Matt. 18:20; 28:20; John 3:13; Eph. 1:23; 4:10; Col. 3:11)

It is clear from the Scriptural evidence above that Jesus is God. He is the LORD (Jehovah/Yahweh) of the Old Testament, and therefore is the one true elohim or theos. He shares this role as God with the Father. As we are about to see, He also shares this role with the Holy Spirit.

5. The Holy Spirit is God

Less Scripture is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, but there is enough to conclude that He too is God. In Acts 5:3-4, we see the Holy Spirit being equated with God:

“Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.’” [emphasis added]

Paul clearly and explicitly equated the Holy Spirit with God:

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Additional evidence of the deity of the Holy Spirit comes from the shared attributes of the deity. The Holy Spirit is:

Eternal (Heb. 9:14)

Omniscient (1 Cor. 2:10-11)

Omnipresent (Psa. 139:7)

Savior (Rom. 8:1-27)

In addition to the attributes above, we find the Holy Spirit was involved in creation (Gen. 1:2; Psa. 104:30), the incarnation (Matt. 1:18,20; Luke 1:35), and the resurrection (Rom. 1:4; 8:11). This is ample evidence to show that the Holy Spirit is God. We have now proven Scripturally that there is only one God. We have also proven that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can each lay claim to being God. However, one can believe in all this, and still subscribe to the erroneous belief of modalism.

Modalists believe that there is only one God, but believe God to be comprised of one Person who simply manifests Himself at different times through Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. In other words, modalists believe that God is one in substance as well as essence – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not distinct persons. As we shall see, modalism fails because the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are indeed three distinct persons.

6. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons.

A. Jesus is not the Father: First, let’s turn our attention to Matthew 28:19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. The grammatical construction of this verse is very revealing with regards to Trinitarian doctrine. First, each person of the Trinity is identified individually with use of the definite article preceding each (the Father…the Son…the Holy Spirit). The use of the definite article for each person of the Trinity identifies each as unique and distinct from the others. Yet at the same time, this verse groups each into a singular entity by use of the singular form “the name of”. What is this name? The singular name of God is Yahweh/Jehovah, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit share that name. Other verses identify the Father and the Son as two separate persons (John 3:17, 35; 5:22-23, 31-32; 8:16-18; 11:41-42; 12:28; 14:31; 17:1-26; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 15:24-28; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; 4:4; Eph. 1:2; 6:23; Phil. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1-2; 1 Tim. 1:1-2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Phm. 3; James 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:2; 1 John 4:10; 2 John 3).

B. Jesus is not the Holy Spirit: The first evidence of this is discussed in detail in the preceding paragraph – Matthew 28:19 identifies the Son and the Holy Spirit as separate persons, using definite articles preceding each. Next, Jesus tells us that He would send the Holy Spirit (“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.” – John 15:26). This verse is revealing in that each person of the Trinity is mentioned as separate individual persons. Key elements in this verse include 1) Jesus will send the Holy Spirit, 2) from the Father, 3) the Holy Spirit will go out from the Father, 4) and will testify about Jesus. Another verse that identifies Jesus and the Holy Spirit separately is John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Here we have two important elements: 1) Jesus will go away, and 2) send the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus arose and ascended in his physical human body, the Spirit He sends is not Jesus Himself. Another important verse is John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever” (emphasis added). Once again, the elements are here to show that Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit are separate. Jesus said He would ask the Father. If Jesus were simply a manifestation of the Father, then He would be asking Himself, which sounds neurotic rather than orthodox. The verse also refers to the Holy Spirit as “another Counselor” separate from Jesus.

C. The Father is not the Holy Spirit: Once again, the first bit of evidence is given in Matthew 28:19 as discussed before. John 14:16, and 15:26 also remain as evidence that the Father and Holy Spirit are distinct persons. As we delved into each verse in the preceding paragraph, we won’t do so again. We also find Paul describing in Romans 8:26-27 that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with the Father. If the Holy Spirit were the same person as the Father, he would not need to intercede with himself.

Now let’s address another Scripture that makes it clear that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three different persons. Luke 3:21-22 covers the baptism of Jesus Christ, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” Each person is described separately here. First, note that Jesus was praying. If Oneness theology were correct, Jesus would be praying to Himself. Once again, that smacks of neurosis. Instead, Jesus was praying to the Father. As He did, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in a physical manifestation like a dove. The voice of the Father was then heard from Heaven, speaking to the Son. This highlights that each person of the Trinity is unique and separate.

7. Conclusion:

It is clear from a reading of the Bible that there is only one God, known in the Old Testament as Yahweh/Jehovah. It is clear that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are each God (Yahweh). It is also clear, in contrast to Oneness theology (Unitarian modalism), that each person is separate and distinct from the other. One God in three persons – the Biblical Trinity.

Ontology is important in understanding the Trinity. Ontology is the study of “being.” As James White said, “It is vitally important that we recognize the difference between the words Being and Person…. Being is what makes something what it is. Person is what makes someone who he or she is…. when speaking of the Trinity, we speak of one what (the Being of God) and three whos (the three divine Persons). Most cultic rejections of the Trinity focus on blurring the distinction.”[6]

Are you still having a difficult time comprehending the triune nature of God? That’s understandable. The laws to which we are bound define our comprehension. God’s nature transcends these laws. If we could fully comprehend God’s nature, he would cease to be Almighty God. He would be lesser than He truly is. I am a devotee of analogies. One analogy I like to use with regards to the Trinity is my computer. My computer consists of input devices (mouse and keyboard), output devices (monitor, printer, speakers), and the central processing unit. These different components form my one computer. This analogy fails to capture the full complexity of the substance of God, but it can help someone to grasp the basic relationship.

It is true, as so many Mormons, Muslims, and Jehovah’s Witness are inclined to point out, that there is no concise, clear teaching of the Trinity in the New Testament or Old Testament. However, by such reasoning, there is also no clear teaching regarding smoking or illicit drug use. Yet by examining Scripture in its greater context, it is clear that our body is the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19) and Paul urges us to purify ourselves from things which contaminate the body (2 Cor. 7:1). Similarly, by examining the sum of Scripture in immediate and greater context, it is clear that God is triune. He is one God, eternally existent in three divine persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We must be able to defend this biblical doctrine if we are to effectively contend for the truth of the gospel.

 

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The Pentecostal movement was from its inception Trinitarian. It was from the revival at the Azusa Street Mission from 1906 to 1909 that the Pentecostal experience spread throughout the world. When this modern day revival had first occurred with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues, it was upholding Trinitarianism.

Their message of Oneness was first delivered to the Pentecostals that fateful day on 1913 in a camp meeting in Arroyo Seco, California, where hundreds of preachers were attending. The truth of the Oneness of God was given accompanied by the new revelation of baptism in the name of Jesus. Evangelist R.E. McAlister was selected to preach on the subject of water baptism. He began with the accepted baptismal message and spoke on the different modes of baptism, mentioning trine immersion by which the candidate was immersed three times face forward. He summed it up by “they justify their method, by saying that baptism is in the likeness of Christ’s death, and make a point from scripture that Christ bowed his head when he died.” that to them, it was necessary to baptize once for each person in the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). He concluded his message abruptly by saying that the Scriptural answer to this was that the Apostles invariably baptized all their converts once in the name of Jesus Christ. He ended by stating the words Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were never used by the early church in Christian baptism .

McAlister introduced in 1913 a “new thing,” a Jesus name baptismal formula–  that had no mention of the Father and the Holy Spirit.  McAlister was taken aside at the time and told not to preach the this new theory about the “baptismal formula.”     

However, many hearing McAllister speak received the new revelation of the name Jesus.  Three important men attended and were influenced by this new revelation, these were Frank Ewart, G.T.Haywood, Glenn Cook.

By the spring of 1914,Ewart accepted the “new found truth “became one of its leading advocates. Ewart reached the conclusion that the singular “name” in Matthew 28:19 was Jesus Christ. He came to believe that the one true God who had revealed himself as Father, in the Son, and as the Holy Spirit was none other than Jesus Christ. To support this view, he pointed to Colossians 2:9, which states that in Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Ewart explained his discovery to other Pentecostal ministers, some of whom rejected his teaching, but others enthusiastically embraced it. On April 15, 1914, Ewart rebaptized Glenn A. Cook, his assistant and a veteran evangelist of the Azusa Street Mission, in the name of Jesus Christ, and Cook rebaptized Ewart. This would set in motion an issue that would divide the Pentecostal movement between the Trinitarians and the Jesus Name only, or Oneness, believers. After Ewart and Cook were rebaptized, they began to rebaptized thousands of Pentecostals with the shorter  new found formula “in Jesus name.” Claiming those baptized with Mt.28 were not valid, it must be “in the name of Jesus” (only). Anyone baptized in the threefold name of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”, must renounce that baptism and be rebaptised with the right words said over them, before they can be regarded as biblically baptised.   Today it is added one must speak in tongues to have salvation.

This evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit (i.e. speaking in tongues) must be present or they are not born again, and they cannot enter the Kingdom of God.Frank Ewart stated of this message it was “the shot had been fired, and its sound was destined to be heard around the world, as Christendom would soon be shaken by this new doctrine (p.106) But it was hardly new, it was a revived ancient heresy of Sabellian. Not unlike the Campellites and Kip Mckean, who also stated of his discovery in restoring the ancient Gospel of salvation by water, what a revelation !
When the new baptismal formulae was promoted and accepted it opened the door to the Sabellian heresy that was dealt with so long ago in the early Church. All these conclusions were arrived by a method of interpretation, that used only a “part” of Scripture not the “whole” teaching in Scripture.  In other words they made the whole bible to “fit” the new baptismal formula.This movement began to sweep through the church’s, especially the newly formed Assembly’s of God. The issue of baptism in Jesus name was debated at the general council in 1915.Trinitarians within the Assembly of God stood their ground, opposing the new doctrine and embraced the traditional formula. A “Statement of Fundamental Truths was drawn up adopting a Trinitarian statement in 1916 as a basis for membership. With this stand it severed 156 ministers from the 585 which were in the organization. From this the Oneness denomination was formed. The Pentecostal Church officially Incorporated in 1945 separating with the Assemblies. In January 1918 the General Assembly of the Apostolic Assemblies merged with the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, a Pentecostal organization that be in Los Angeles in 1906 (Golder, 1973, 31)

According to Oneness, they were promoting false doctrine and were not saved because they did not follow the prescribed formulae of being baptized in Jesus’ name “only,” nor did they renounce the Trinity. But Oneness wouldn’t even know there was a baptism of the Spirit or the gift of glossalia if it were not for those Trinitarians who received it first. Considering  the Oneness position that is held today, we would have to believe that those who first had the evidence of the gift of tongues (but were Trinitarians) were unsaved and practicing paganism.

So they trace their own beginnings to Trinitarian’s, then turn around and claim they alone have the truth, being the one true Church. So the Church was refound 85 years ago by a new revelation and an experience. What started as a new baptism formula actually became a restoration of a lost gospel — salvation by water. It was not salvation in Jesus name but specifically salvation by baptism in Jesus name. They then took the position of being the “only church” who preaches the true “Apostolic doctrine” the same as the first church.” Up until this time all the people that loved and served the Lord were all lost, not having the Spirit or truth, because of an improper baptism and no tongues. The truth of the matter is that most agree it was they who departed from historic Christian doctrine. By isolating themselves and thinking that they alone hold to the true Apostolic doctrine apart from the Christian church, they have joined with many others that have preceded them to lay their claim to restoring the truth. The Mormons, 7th day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christadelphians, the Campellites     ( today’s Int. Churches of Christ) and those who came afterwards like Iglesia ni Cristo, ad infinitum.

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This  is from Bob Ross’ “The Trinity and the Eternal Sonship of Christ.” a defense against “Oneness attacks on Historic Christianity. (1993)

Observations:

(1) The “baptism of the Spirit and speaking in tongues” had been experienced about thirteen years before the introduction of the new “baptismal formulae” in 1913.

(2) Up until the new formula was introduced in 1913, the movement was Trinitarian in doctrine and in its baptismal formula, except for Parham’s abortive effort, if in fact this was true [Foster, p.121].

(3) Following the acceptance of the new baptismal formula, changes were made in both interpretation of Scripture and in theological concepts so as to “fit” the new baptismal formula.

(4) The hermeneutic,” or method of interpretation, was therefore “inductive,” from a “part” to the “whole”. Or, in simple terms, they made the whole bible fit their one theory on the formula for baptism, even to the denial of the trinity.

(5) This interpretation not only revised their interpretation of every verse in the Bible that has to do with the Godhead, so as to bring these passages “into line” with the new baptismal idea, it also implied or expressly stated that all of the past Christian history was “paganistic” in its doctrines, practices, and interpretations relating to the trinity .

All of the denominations, such as Baptists, the Presbyterians, the Methodists the Episcopalians, the Congregationalists, the Lutherans, the Reformed churches, and any other Trinitarians, were wrong on the Godhead and their Confessions of Faith were filled with the false doctrine of paganism. Outstanding Christian leaders, such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, the Puritans, John Wesley, George Whitfield, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Andrew Fuller, C.H. Spurgeon and a galaxy of other similar names were wrong and were advocates of “paganism.”

The men who translated the Bible, such as Wycliff, Coverdale, Tyndale, the King James translators, and the like, were also wrong and were advocates of “paganism.”

The only people in history that the “Oneness” movement can identify with are heretics such as the early post-apostolic “Modalists”– like Noetus, Praxeus, Sabellius, later on the heretic Servetus who was famed for his blasphemy of the trinity, and “clairvoyant”, Emmanuel Swedenborg, none of which we covet for our own theological “family tree”. They also are in the habit of quoting agnostics, “monotheistic” [Christ-rejecting] Jews- – perhaps anyone- – who rejects the trinity on some grounds.

(6) The fallacy, therefore, was not only one of basic doctrine, but the route pursued in the arrival at the ultimate “oneness” theology was faulty. The proper method of biblical hermeneutics (interpretation) is deductive – – that is, you draw the truth from the text; you do not force theories upon or into the text. You do not come to the Bible with a theory, an axiom, a principle, and force the entire Bible to conform to that particular view. To quote an old, old saying, Let the Bible say what it says.”

Every heretical movement is marked by what might be called “all kinds of fancy twistings and turnings,” as a gentlemen once said of a piece of hand-crafted furniture. A great deal of “hacking-and-hewing” must be done to make the passages fit the “hobby-horse” of its advocates. We see this in Campbellism, in Russellism, in Adventism, in Romanism, and in all the sects and cults that have peculiar notions to maintain. It calls to mind the idol of the Philistines, Dagon: the creation of their own minds and hands becomes the predominant hobby of all their energies, They read the Bible with this hobby constantly in mind, bending every statement into a distortion to keep from decapitation the idol.

(7) The ultimate discrepancy of the “Oneness” movement is the fact that their current “baptismal formula” calls for “baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins and baptism with the Holy Ghost, with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues,” yet when this “gift” was supposedly “restored in 1901,” none of those who “received it followed this immutable “formula”! The “new revelation” did not arrive on the scene until thirteen years after the original “restoration” (1913)! And it was even later still that the “new truth” was finally developed into the full-fledged “Oneness” system that it is today, represented by such writers as Bernard.

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Seventh-Day Adventism (SDA) arose from the aftermath of the Adventist movement of the mid-1800s. “Seventh-day” refers to the focus on sabbath, or Saturday worship. “Adventist” refers to the SDA belief that they are the fulfillment of prophecies pertaining to the latter days remnant and the coming of Christ. The world was predicted to end in 1844 with the Second Coming of Christ, by William Miller, a New England Baptist itinerant preacher. Miller’s followers condemned all the churches of the day as apostate and “Babylon,” and warned Christians to come out of them. A great many did, and the “adventist” movement was born and grew rapidly (Melton, J. Gordon, Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. 2, pp. 21–22). 

Christ did not appear in 1844. After this “Great Disappointment,” one “little flock” still insisted the date of their original predictions had been correct. They decided the event marked by 1844 was not the Second Coming, but the entrance of Christ into the Holy of Holies in the Heavenly Sanctuary. There, they said, He began the “Investigative Judgment.” (See #6 below.) This doctrine was received and endorsed by Ellen G. White (Ibid., p. 680).

From 1844 to 1851, the group taught the “shut door” doctrine, based on Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins. Anyone who had not accepted the Adventist message by the time Jesus entered the Holy of Holies was to be shut out permanently, as were the five foolish virgins. Cut off from the Bridegroom, they could not join the Adventists or have any hope of eternal life. Ellen White not only approved and taught this doctrine, but her first vision experience (she claimed over 2,000 visions) was largely responsible for its being received by the Adventist group (Brinsmead, Robert, D., Judged by the Gospel: A Review of Adventism, pp. 130–133).

By 1846, the group had adopted the Seventh-Day Baptists’ view that the Saturday Sabbath must be observed by Christians. A highly elevated form of this doctrine, together with the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment, became the hallmarks of Seventh-Day Adventism. In 1850, James and Ellen White began publishing a magazine, The Review & Herald, to disseminate Adventist and Sabbatarian doctrines. This helped many of the remaining “Millerites” to coalesce into a distinctive body, which adopted the name of Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1860, and formally incorporated in 1863, with approximately 3,500 members in 125 congregations (Encyclopedia of American Religion, Vol. 2, p. 681).

Ellen G. White (1827-1915) never held official title as the head of the SDA church, but was one of its founders and acknowledged spiritual leader. She rather disingenuously declined to claim the title of “prophet,” calling herself a “messenger” instead (P.G. Damsteegt, et al., Seventh-day Adventists Believe … A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Doctrines, 1988, p. 224). But she claimed to have the “spirit of prophecy,” and that her messages were direct from God for the guidance and instruction of the church. With her knowledge and consent, others called her a prophet and an inspired commentator of Scripture1, and even “the Spirit of Prophecy” (Maurice Barnett, Ellen G. White & Inspiration, pp. 5–17). Having only a third grade education, Ellen White said for years she was unable to read, bolstering the claim that her beautiful prose was inspired by God. However, it has been discovered that she not only read, but plagiarized other Christian authors throughout virtually all her writings. The sad facts of this matter have been thoroughly and indisputably established in several books. (e.g., see Walter Rea, The White Lie; and Judged by the Gospel, pp. 361–383). 

As of year-end 1999, the SDA church claimed more than 10.9 million members worldwide in 46,700 churches; there are more than 900,000 Adventists in the U.S. and Canada (making the SDA one of the fastest growing “churches” in the world — membership up over 10% in 1999). While headquartered in Washington, D.C., SDA employment worldwide totals nearly 166,000, not including 13,815 ordained ministers. (Contributions in 1999 totaled $1.6 billion.) SDAs claim to be working in 725 languages and over 1,000 dialects. They have a large investment in publishing and education — they operate 56 publishing houses and support 549 medical units (696 including 117 nursing homes and retirement centers and 30 orphanages); and 5,846 primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities (with total enrollment of over a million students). They also broadcast over Adventist World Radio more than 1,000 hours per week of programming in more than 40 languages from 18 transmitters in seven international locations, and have almost 13  million students enrolled in its more than 110,000 “Sabbath Schools” (11/2001, SDA Internet web site). (The SDA church also publishes two of their own Bible “translations”: The Study Bible and The Clear Word Bible.)

SDA is organized as a representative democracy. Lower echelons elect representatives to higher units; determination and administration of policy and enforcement of doctrinal orthodoxy is imposed from the top down. President and Executive Committee of General Conference are standing chief administrative offices. Lower administrative units are the General Conference, Divisions (over continents), Union Conferences, local Conferences, and congregations.

In the late 1950s, cult expert Walter Martin, founder of the Christian Research Institute, in collaboration with neo-evangelical Donald Barnhouse, made an extensive investigation of the teachings (doctrines) of Seventh-Day Adventism. Their purpose was to determine whether to classify SDA as part of the evangelical community, or to go along with the majority of evangelicals and treat SDAs as cult members (thereby requiring evangelicals to exercise Biblical separation). (In the 1955 edition of The Kingdom of the Cults, Martin originally did classify SDA as cultic.) Martin and Barnhouse concluded that SDA was within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy. Walter Martin, in his article in the 12/19/60 Christianity Today, said: “That Adventists should be recognized as Christians and that fellowship should be extended to them we do not deny” (p. 15).

Among those adamantly opposing that conclusion was Biblical scholar Dr. John Whitcomb, Jr., then of Grace Theological Seminary. Detailed below is Whitcomb’s reasoning* for his classification of SDA as a [anti-assurance, Sabbath-keeping, Law-enslaving] cult:2

1. Source of Authority. Ellen G. White claimed to be, “a lesser light to lead men and women to the greater light.” The official SDA Questions on Doctrine (Q.D.) states that, “the Holy Spirit opened to her mind important events and called her to give certain instructions for these last days, and inasmuch as these instructions, in our understanding, are in harmony with the Word of God, which Word alone is able to make us wise unto salvation, we as a denomination accept them as inspired counsels from the Lord” (Q.D., p. 93). (Emphasis added.) Mrs. White claimed to have received more than 3,000 “inspired counsels from the Lord” (i.e., visions) between 1844 and 1868. (From these “visions,” she produced over 100,000 handwritten manuscript pages from which were published 54 books!) Therefore, SDAs have a new source of authority in their lives — according to SDA’s dogma, if an SDA does not accept Mrs. White as infallible, they have no salvation! 

2. Mankind. Seventh-Day Adventists do not believe that the whole man or any part of him is inherently “immortal” (Q.D., p. 518). SDAs believe in “soul sleep” for the saved (i.e., no conscious existence from the time of death until the resurrection), and annihilation for the wicked (i.e., the body and soul are destroyed at death rather than experiencing everlasting torment). How, then, can one get to heaven?: SDAs believe that one can have immortality only on the condition that he comes to Christ through Ellen G. White; i.e., a works program, following salvation by grace with light of revelation through Ellen G. White as the infallible guide to Holy Scripture, apart from which one cannot have immortality.3 Then, at resurrection day, the body will be re-created (necessary because of soul sleep) for all those who believe in White’s guidance and teachings (while non-SDAs will remain in “soul sleep” forever; i.e., will cease to exist [annihilated] and will not suffer everlasting torment).

3. Christ.
Mrs. White: “Christ took upon His sinless nature our sinful nature … Christ took human nature and bore the infirmities and degeneracy of the race. He took our nature and its deteriorating condition” (Q.D., pp. 654-656) (cf. Jn. 14:30). According to SDA, then, Christ acquired a sinful nature! Of course, if this could have been so, there could have been no sinless sacrifice, no hope for sinners, and no Savior.

4. Atonement. “Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ” (E.G. White, The Great Controversy [TGC], 1911, p. 623; TGC has since been retitled and published as America in Prophecy, 1988). SDA teaches that, though saved by grace, we are kept by the Law (i.e., “partial atonement”). Therefore, one must keep Old Testament dietary and ceremonial laws, paying particular attention to keep the Saturday Sabbath and the Ten Commandments, and most importantly, making sure to faithfully pay the tithe. 

Even when speaking of being saved by the righteousness of Christ, Adventist writers refer to imparted righteousness, seldom to the Biblical concept of imputed righteousness. Calling it “Christ’s righteousness,” while insisting on the believer’s perfection of character as a prerequisite to salvation, is at worst a thinly veiled works salvation, or at best an attempt to mix grace and works, something the Bible says is impossible to do (Rom. 11:6). Mrs. White’s words are crystal clear — one will not be forgiven until all sins are eradicated from one’s life and one’s character is perfected. Precisely the same heresy is found (besides many others) in Mormonism. It is not the salvation by grace alone through faith alone offered in the Bible.

5. Baptism. “… Christ made it clear that He required baptism of those who wished to become part of His church, His spiritual kingdom”; “In baptism believers enter into the passion experience of our Lord”; “… [B]aptism also marks [a] person’s entrance into Christ’s spiritual kingdom. … it unites the new believer to Christ.… Through baptism the Lord adds the new disciples to the body of believers — His body, the church.… Then they are members of God’s family” (SDAs Believe …, pp. 182, 184, 187).

6. The Investigative Judgment. According to SDA theology, beginning on October 22, 1844, Christ entered upon the “judgment phase” of His ministry, whereby He blots out sin: [The SDA doctrine of the “Investigative Judgment” rests on Ellen G. White’s claimed revelation that Christ entered the heavenly Holy of Holies, not at His ascension, but in 1844, wherein He then began to investigate the records of human works (TGC, pp. 362-373) (cf. Heb. 9).] “When Christ, by virtue of His own blood, removes the sins of His people from the heavenly sanctuary at the close of His ministration, He will place them upon Satan, who, in the execution of the judgment, must bear the final penalty” (TGC, p. 422). Satan, thereby, becomes the scapegoat of Leviticus 16. This lack of clear distinction between the forgiveness of sins and the blotting out of sins, makes it impossible for anyone to know, even in the hour of his death, whether he is saved or not. (SDAs are not “allowed” to experience assurance of salvation, because then there would be no pressure on them to keep the Old Testament law, as interpreted by Ellen G. White, and especially no pressure to pay the tithe.) Moreover, the concept that the sins of all men are to be laid on Satan, assigns to Satan an indispensable role in the blotting out of sin, thus nullifying the all-sufficiency of the finished work of Christ. [When Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” i.e. completed, paid in full, it cannot be that there is yet another salvation event more than 1,800 years later, just as essential to salvation as Christ’s death on the cross, in which one must believe in order to be saved. This is clearly “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6–9).]4

The “Investigative Judgment” and the “Scapegoat Theory of the Atonement” are, by themselves, so non-Biblical as to contradict Galatians 1:8-9. It is “another gospel,” about which the Apostle Paul wrote, “let such be anathema” (i.e., cursed/condemned). Yet according to Ellen White, one must believe this doctrine to be saved:

 “Those who would share the benefits of the Savior’s mediation should permit nothing to interfere with their duty to perfect holiness in the fear of God … The subject of the sanctuary and the Investigative Judgment should be clearly understood by the people of God. All need a knowledge for themselves of the position [in the Holy of Holies] and work [Investigative Judgment] of their great High Priest. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to exercise the faith which is essential at this time or to occupy the position which God designs for them to fill. Every individual has a soul to save or to lose. Each has a case pending at the bar of God … All who have received the light on these subjects are to bear testimony of the great truths which God has committed to them. The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ’s work in behalf of men … It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects … The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was His death upon a cross. By His death He began that work which after his resurrection He ascended to complete in Heaven” (TGC, pp. 488–89; emphasis added).

7. The Sabbath. “In the last days, the Sabbath test will be made plain. When this time comes, anyone who does not keep the Sabbath will receive the mark of the beast and will be kept from heaven” (TGC, p. 449); “… [T]he divine institution of the Sabbath is to be restored … The delivering of this message will precipitate a conflict that will involve the whole world. The central issue will be obedience to God’s law and the observance of the Sabbath. … Those who reject it will eventually receive the mark of the beast” (TGC, pp. 262–63). In one of her most revered works, Ellen White wrote that Sabbath observance would be the “line of distinction” in the “final test” that will separate God’s end-time people who “receive the seal of God” and are saved, from those who “receive the mark of the beast” (The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, p. 605). Describing a supposed vision direct from God, Ellen White wrote, “I saw that the Holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers” (Early Writings, p. 33; emphasis added). She also wrote of some Adventists failing to understand that “Sabbath … observance was of sufficient importance to draw a line between the people of God and unbelievers” (Ibid., p. 85).

SDAs have, thereby, made Sabbath-keeping a criterion for a personal relationship with the Lord — even to the extent of one’s salvation! Why? Because, according to SDAs, we are all to be under strict adherence to Old Testament Law, including the Ten Commandments, of which the fourth one says, “keep the Sabbath.” (This Sabbath-keeping requirement was supposedly confirmed in a vision received by Ellen G. White, rather than by study of the Bible.) SDAs believe that “Sunday-keeping” will be the mark of the beast in the future.

8. Ellen G. White, the Prophet. Many rank-and-file SDA members deny that their organization any longer decrees Ellen G. White a God-inspired prophet. Yet in SDA official publications, the SDA church continues to defend Ellen White legends, and maintain there was no difference in the degree of inspiration she received from that received by Bible writers (Review & Herald, 4 October 1928, p. 11; “Source of Final Appeal,” Adventist Review, 3 June 1971, pp. 4–6; G. A. Irwin, Mark of the Beast, p. 1; “The Inspiration and Authority of the Ellen G. White Writings,” Adventist Review, 15 July 1982, p. 3; Ministry, October 1981, p. 8 (5); see also, Judged by the Gospel, pp. 125–130). And in the SDA June 2000, General Conference, the church voted to more aggressively affirm and support the “Spirit of Prophecy through the ministry of Ellen White” (Adventist Today, [online: July 2000]).


* Besides relying heavily on the work of Dr. Whitcomb (1988  Syllabus notes), some of the material in this report has also been excerpted and or adapted from: “Seventh-day Adventist Church Profile,” Timothy Oliver (Watchman Fellowship Profile, 1996).


Endnotes

1 The Bible lists six identifying marks of false prophets, any one of which is sufficient for identification: (1) through signs and wonders they lead astray after false gods (Dt. 13:1-4); (2) their prophecies don’t come to pass (Dt. 18:20-22); (3) they contradict God’s Word (Isa. 8:20); (4) they bear bad fruit (Mt. 7:18-20); (5) men speak well of them (Lk. 6:26); and (6) they deny that Jesus, the one and only Christ, has come once and for all in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:3), thereby denying His sufficiency in all matters of life and godliness (2 Pe. 1:3). Most cults are founded upon false prophecies, which, if pointed out, offer an effective way to open blind eyes and rescue cultists. SDA originated with similar false prophesies about Christ’s coming. It began with William Miller’s prediction that Christ would return in 1843 (revised to October 22, 1844). Miller admitted his error. However, SDA prophetess Ellen G. White (EGW), who had repeatedly endorsed Miller’s prophecy, insisted that Christ had indeed come, but not to earth. Instead, He had entered “the holy of holies” in heaven “to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits” (The Great Controversy, p. 480).

Number 17 of the “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-Day Adventists” states: “The Gift of Prophecy: One of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is prophecy. This gift is an identifying mark of the remnant church and was manifested in the ministry of Ellen G. White. As the Lord’s messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.” Yet EGW made numerous false prophecies: that “Old Jerusalem never would be built up” (Early Writings, p. 75), that she would be alive at the Rapture (Early Writings, pp. 15-16), that Christ would return before slavery was abolished (Early Writings, pp. 35, 276), that Adventists living in 1856 would be alive at the Rapture (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, pp. 131-132), and many more. Nevertheless, SDAs revere this false prophet’s writings as if they were Scripture.

2 Nevertheless, SDAs are continuing their efforts to be identified as “evangelical Christians.” As an illustration of this effort, SDAs were very prominent at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) held in San Francisco, November 19-21, 1992. They presented themselves in the printed program as the Adventist Theological Society (ATS). During the meetings, they conducted at least eight workshops/seminars open to all the members of the ETS, as well as a general meeting of their own ATS on Saturday morning, November 21st. Likewise, at the 1/97 National Religious Broadcasters Convention, the SDA’s “Voice of Prophecy” booth provided books and tapes of their programs, but there was no indication that this was an SDA organization. Christians need to be aware that cult groups like SDA often use the same Christian-sounding terminology, but the meanings of the words have been redefined.

3 Many quotes could be given to prove that EGW taught salvation by works. Here are a few:

(a) “Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny … though … forgotten by us, they [our works] will bear their testimony to justify or condemn” (TGC, pp. 486-490).

(b) “When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life …” (TGC, p. 483).

(c) “Each one of you needs to … [be] working with your might to redeem the failures of your past life. God has placed you in a world of suffering to prove you, to see if you will be found worthy of the gift of eternal life” (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 3, p. 530).

4 This teaching of the “Investigative Judgment” is the foundational doctrine and major heresy of Seventh-Day Adventism: that the atonement was not complete on the cross, but was begun in heaven in 1844 and depends upon our works. According to Ellen G. White (EGW), the blood of Christ, instead of making “an atonement for the soul” (Lv. 17:11) and “cleans[ing] us from all sin” (l Jn. 1:7), brought sin into heaven: “[O]ur sins are, in fact, transferred to the heavenly sanctuary by the blood of Christ” (Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, p. 266). Thus, Christ had to begin the work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary (of sins His blood had brought there!) through the “Investigative Judgment.” EGW declared that “Ministers who would not accept this saving message” were hindering God’s work and “The blood of souls is upon them” (Early Writings, p. 234). Millerites who adopted this delusion became Seventh-Day Adventists. The whole concept of the Investigative Judgment is antithetical to the Gospel. Jesus did not wait until 1844 to enter the Holy of Holies in heaven (Heb. 1:3; 6:19–20; 8:1; 9:6–12, 24; 12:2). Neither is He still making an atonement in heaven (Heb. 9:25–26; 10:11–14). The Investigative Judgment proposes to “vindicate the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus,” by showing they were “loyal,” “penitent,” and “faithful” commandment keepers. This is an outrage. God’s justice in saving sinners is vindicated by Christ’s death on the cross, period (Rom. 3:24–26).

5 The SDA Church made this statement in their Ministry magazine of October 1981, and have never retracted it — We believe the revelation and inspiration of both the Bible and Ellen White’s writings to be of equal quality. The superintendence of the Holy Spirit was just as careful and thorough in one case as in the other” (June 1997, The Baptist Challenge). (Bold added.) This sounds like SDAs also believe that Mrs. White is inerrant.

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Dear Friends in Christ,
 
I have been fascinated for a long time with the Diety and Pre-incarnate existence of Jesus Christ, as it is revealed in the scriptures. We have studied and contemplated the coming to earth and taking on of our flesh of Jesus Christ, perhaps it would be good to consider His Eternal existence as a member of the Trinity before He ever came to the manger. His “goings forth” have been from Old Testament times being seen on this earth, and yet keeping His true identity  hidden until just the right time when He came to live and die on the cross for our sins.
 
Most of these Bible verses were found in the book,  Major Bible Themes by Lewis Sperry Chafer, Dunham Publishers, (1966) p 30-33. Chafer was the founder and first president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Much of the content of this book was published in the magazine “The Sunday School Times”  in 1925.
God Bless you as you read and ponder His Word.


 
This  group of scriptures shows how the Pre-existence of Christ relates to the revealing of His Diety. By these Scriptures, Jesus Christ, The Son of God is seen to be in His Infinite Person and eternal existence, coequal with the other persons of the Godhead, and this fact is unaffected by His becoming a Man. Therefore, Jesus Christ is shown to be True God and True Man all at the same time. Consider these Scriptures: 
 
John 1:1-2 (KJV)
 In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
{2} The same was in the beginning with God.
 
Micah 5:2 (KJV)
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah,
though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel;
 whose goings forth have been from of old,
 from everlasting.
 
Isa 7:14 (KJV)
 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign;
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel.
(Note:”Immanuel” in Hebrew means: “With us is God”)
 
Isa 9:6 (KJV)
 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:
 and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
 
John 8:58 (KJV)
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you,
Before Abraham was, I am.
 
Exo 3:13-14 (KJV)
And Moses said unto God, Behold,
when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them,
The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you;
and they shall say to me, What is his name?
what shall I say unto them?
{14} And God said unto Moses,I AM THAT I AM:
and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel,
I AM hath sent me unto you.
 
Isa 43:10-13 (KJV)
Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD,
and my servant whom I have chosen:
that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he:
before me there was no God formed,
neither shall there be after me.
{11} I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.
 {12} I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed,
 when there was no strange god among you:
 therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.
{13} Yea, before the day was I am he;
and there is none that can deliver out of my hand:
 I will work, and who shall let (hinder) it?
 
John 17:3-5 (KJV)
 And this is life eternal,
that they might know thee the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
{4} I have glorified thee on the earth:
I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
{5} And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self
with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
 
John 13:3 (KJV)
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,
and that he was come from God,
and went to God; 

Phil 2:5-11 (KJV)
 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
 {6} Who, being{Grk=from the beginning} in the form of God,
thought it not robbery{Grk=a prize to be retained at all costs} to be equal with God:
{7} But made himself of no reputation{Grk=emptied Himself},
and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men:
{8} And being found in fashion as a man,
 he humbled himself,
and became obedient unto death,
even the death of the cross.
{9} Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him,
and given him a name which is above every name:
 {10} That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
{11} And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
 

 

Col 1:12-22 (KJV)
 Giving thanks unto the Father,
which hath made us meet{Grk=worthy} to be partakers
of the inheritance of the saints in light:
{13} Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness,
and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
{14} In whom we have redemption through his blood,
even the forgiveness of sins:
{15} Who is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn{Grk=foremost in importance} of every creature:
{16} For by him were all things created,
that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible,
whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers:
all things were created by him, and for him:
{17} And he is before all things,
and by him all things consist.
{18} And he is the head of the body, the church:
who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things he might have the preeminence.
{19} For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
{20} And, having made peace through the blood of his cross,
by him to reconcile all things unto himself;
by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
{21} And you, that were sometime alienated
and enemies in your mind by wicked works,
yet now hath he reconciled {22} In the body of his flesh through death,
to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Tim 3:16 (KJV)
 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,
seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles,
believed on in the world, received up into glory.
 
Heb 1:1-3 (KJV)
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners
spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
{2} Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son,
whom he hath appointed heir of all things,
by whom also he made the worlds;
 {3} Who being the brightness of his glory,
and the express image of his person,
and upholding all things by the word of his power,
when he had by himself purged our sins,
 sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
 
Heb 13:8 (KJV)
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
 
Rev 1:8 (KJV)
 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord,
 which is, and which was, and which is to come,
the Almighty.
 
Rev 21:3-8 (KJV)
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and He will dwell with them,
and they shall be His people,
and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
{4} And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away.
 
{5} And he that sat upon the throne said,
Behold, I make all things new.
And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
{6} And he said unto me, It is done.
 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
 I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
 {7} He that overcometh shall inherit all things;
and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
{8} But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable,
and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers,
and idolaters, and all liars,
shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone:
which is the second death.