Dr. Michael Horton Has a REALLY Good Point

Previously I posted a link to the article below. Based on some feedback I have received from someone recently, coupled with the fact that I know a lot of professing Christians who have bought into the ‘false religion’ of the WoF movement. I did myself a long time ago, but thankfully the written word brought me out of it. Without further comment, here is the entire article:

Evangelicals should be deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s attempt to mainstream heresy

– Michael Horton

This opinion piece is by Michael Horton, a theology professor at Westminster Seminary California.

Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration will include Paula White and possibly other members of his inner circle, Darrell Scott, “Apostle” Wayne T. Jackson and Mark Burns. They’re all televangelists who hail from the “prosperity gospel” camp. They advocate a brand of Pentecostal Christianity known as Word of Faith.

Inaugurations are always curious rituals of American civil religion. It would not be surprising to see a non-Christian religious leader participating. But what’s problematic for me as an evangelical is how Trump’s ceremony is helping to mainstream this heretical movement.

The prosperity gospel — the idea that God dispenses material wealth and health based on what we “decree” — is not just fluff. It’s also not just another branch of Pentecostalism, a tradition that emphasizes the continuation of the gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues. It’s another religion.

In terms of religion, this inauguration exhibits the confluence of two major currents of indigenous American spirituality.

One stream is represented by Norman Vincent Peale’s longtime bestseller “The Power of Positive Thinking” (1952). The famous Manhattan pastor is Trump’s tenuous connection to Christianity, having heard the preacher frequently in his youth. For Peale and his protege, the late Robert Schuller of Crystal Cathedral fame, the gospel of Christ’s death for human sin and resurrection for justification and everlasting life was transformed into a “feel-good” therapy. Self-esteem was the true salvation.

Another stream is represented by the most famous TV preachers, especially those associated with the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Paula White are the stars of this movement, known as Word of Faith.

The headwater for both streams is New Thought, formulated especially by Phineas Quimby, a late 19th-century mesmerist whose mind-cures attracted Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science. The basic idea of his “gnostic medicine” was that we’re sick only because we think bad thoughts. Illness and death are an illusion.

Harvard’s William James took note of the phenomenon in his 1902 classic, “The Varieties of Religious Experience.” He described it as “an optimistic scheme of life” rooted in Emerson and “spiritism,” suggesting that even “Hinduism has contributed a strain.” “But the most characteristic feature of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct,” he surmised. “The leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving power of healthy-minded attitudes as such …”

The Word of Faith movement was largely the brainchild of E.W. Kenyon (1867-1948), who blended Quimby’s Emersonian transcendentalism with his more evangelical “Victorious Life” beliefs. “I know that I am healed,” he wrote, “because [God] said that I am healed and it makes no difference what the symptoms may be in my body.” Kenyon shaped many of the distinctive Word of Faith teachings, including the central idea of “positive confession.” “What I confess, I possess,” he said — in other words, “name it, claim it.”

As a student of Kenyon, Kenneth Hagin, revered as “granddaddy” in Word of Faith circles, gave the faith-healing movement its theological core. It included odd teachings about us all being “little gods.” Those who are born again, Hagin said, “are as much the incarnation [of God] as Jesus of Nazareth.” “You don’t have a God living in you,” says Hagin’s student Kenneth Copeland. “You are one.” Creflo Dollar adds, “[The] only human part of you is the flesh you’re wearing.”

The positive-thinking movement appealed to urbane movers-and-shakers. Peale and Schuller were counselors to CEOs and U.S. presidents. Word of Faith has been more popular among rural sections of the Bible Belt, where faith healers have had a long and successful history. But in the 1980s, the two streams blended publicly, with Copeland, Hinn and Schuller showing up regularly together on TBN.

In the 1950s, American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr described Peale’s message as a false gospel: “The basic sin of this cult is its egocentricity,” he said. “It puts ‘self’ instead of the cross at the center of the picture.” The Word of Faith teachings, conveyed from Quimby via Kenyon and Hagin, are similarly centered on not making God a supporting actor in our life movie.

Televangelist White has a lot in common with Trump, besides being fans of Osteen. Both are in their third marriage and have endured decades of moral and financial scandal. According to family values spokesman James Dobson, another Trump adviser, White “personally led [Trump] to Christ.”

Like her mentor, T. D. Jakes, White adheres closely to the Word of Faith teachings. Besides throwing out doctrines like the Trinity and confusing ourselves with God, the movement teaches that Jesus went to the cross not to bring forgiveness of our sins but to get us out of financial debt, not to reconcile us to God but to give us the power to claim our prosperity, not to remove the curse of death, injustice and bondage to ourselves but to give us our best life now. White says emphatically that Jesus is “not the only begotten Son of God,” just the first. We’re all divine and have the power to speak worlds into existence.

So if you’re still a wreck, that’s your fault. Negative thinking. You’re the creator, so why not be a successful one? White puts it this way in a television TBN program: “There is creative power in your mouth right now. God spoke and created the universe; you have creative power to speak life and death! If you believe God, you can create anything in your life.”

Of course, to be a “little god,” you have to do your part, often involving a financial commitment. It’s what they call “seed faith.” White even gives her viewers the words to tell themselves: “So I’m going to activate my miracle by my obedience right now. I’m going to get up and go to the phone.” When you do that, she says, and “put a demand on the anointing,” you’re “going to make God get off His ivory throne.” “Don’t you miss this moment! If you miss your moment, you miss your miracle!” When Jesus raised Lazarus, according to the old King James Version, “his face was bound with a napkin.” It’s taken from John 11:44, so for everyone who sends $1144 (get it?), White said, she would send a napkin she blessed.

Some representatives, like Osteen, offer an easy-listening version that seems as harmless as a fortune cookie. It’s when he tries to interpret the Bible that he gets into trouble, as in his latest book, “The Power of I Am.” “Romans 4 says to ‘call the things that are not as though they were,’” he says, but the biblical passage is actually referring to God.

But it’s not really about God. In fact, one gets the impression that God isn’t necessary at all in the system. God set up these spiritual laws and if you know the secrets, you’re in charge of your destiny. You “release wealth,” as they often put it, by commanding it to come to you. “Anyone who tells you to deny yourself is from Satan,” White told a television TBN audience in 2007. Oops. It was Jesus who said “anyone who would come after me” must “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Most evangelical pastors I know would shake their heads at all of this. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore tweeted, “Paula White is a charlatan and recognized as a heretic by every orthodox Christian, of whatever tribe.” Yet increasingly one wonders whether modified versions of the prosperity gospel — religion as personal therapy for our best life now — has become more mainstream than we realize.

Thanks to the First Amendment, Christian orthodoxy has never been a test for public office. But it is striking that Trump has surrounded himself with cadre of prosperity evangelists who cheerfully attack basic Christian doctrines. The focus of this unity is a gospel that is about as diametrically opposed to the biblical one as you can imagine.

Since “evangelical” comes from the word “gospel,” that should make more of a difference to those who wear the label than it does at the moment. The prosperity gospel may be our nation’s new civil religion. It doesn’t offend anyone (but picky Christians). It tells us everything we want to hear and nothing that we need to hear most.

Michael Horton is author of “Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story.” He blogs at whitehorseinn.org.

Hillsong and Man

This is the third in a series of articles from Grace to You ministries and again, well worth the read. It’s not a ‘hit’ piece, but is borne of a concern for the integrity of God’s Word and the true gospel.

Hillsong and Man

by Cameron Buettel & Jeremiah Johnson










The heart of the human problem is the human heart. Therapy can’t change it. Self-help gurus can’t fix it. Positive confession can’t conceal it. And self-esteem can’t convert it.

Sinners cannot be persuaded into the kingdom of God. Salvation is not achieved through mental assent or emotional responses. Unless God regenerates the heart (Ezekiel 36:25–27; John 3:3) it remains dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), hostile to Him (Romans 8:7), and worthy of condemnation (Ephesians 2:3). That’s not a matter of opinion—it’s God’s own diagnosis of the unregenerate heart. And the only cure is His redeeming and transforming work. Everything else is woefully insufficient.

If you get the doctrine of man wrong, you can’t help but get the gospel wrong, too. That’s why John MacArthur describes total depravity (or “total inability”) as the most distinctly Christian doctrine:

No doctrine is more hated by unbelievers than this one, and even some Christians find it so offensive that they zealously attack it. Though the doctrine of total depravity is often the most attacked and minimized of the doctrines of grace, it is the most distinctly Christian doctrine because it is foundational to a right understanding of the gospel. . . . The neglect of this doctrine within American evangelicalism has resulted in all kinds of errors, including both the watered-down gospel and the seeker-driven pragmatism of the church growth movement. [1] John MacArthur, Slave (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 121–22

That was exactly what we experienced during our visits to Hillsong Los Angeles, where the biblical view of man has been discarded and replaced with something far more palatable to a therapeutic, self-centered culture.

Man Is Central

In Hillsong’s spiritual economy, man has tremendous inherent worth. The individual replaces Christ as the central figure in God’s redemptive plan. Their own doctrinal statement says that the purpose of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was to “prove His victory and empower us for life.” The redemption of wretched sinners is not in view.

That man-centered approach is a recurring theme throughout Hillsong’s global ministry empire. Their songs are often more about the ones singing than the One they’re singing to. Every passage they preach is a promise of God’s blessing and favor for you. And their altar calls emphasize an endless stream of temporal, personal benefits—breakthrough, healing, success, and prosperity.

Effectively, Hillsong’s leaders seek to enable and empower a latent human condition. Their focus is primarily on the enormous potential we have to do great things and be great people. Hillsong’s official website contains a gospel presentation in which we are told that the main point of Christ’s incarnation was to “show us our full potential . . . the wonderful potential of perfected humanity.”

The preaching is where Hillsong’s man-centeredness is most blatant, as all the sermons we heard adhered to a simple but consistent template. First, a narrative portion of Scripture would be isolated and severed from its larger biblical context. Next, the preacher would insert him or herself and the congregation into the story. Third, the text was routinely used as a bridge to introduce personal illustrations from the preacher’s own experiences. And finally, after those personal experiences had been fully exegeted, the passage is recast as a promise from God for the congregation. Sitting under that kind of teaching long enough would convince you that all of Scripture is merely an allegory for you and your life.

God’s purpose in writing the biblical story, or its place in His wider redemptive plan, was never mentioned in any of the messages we heard. Man was always central. However, his culpability for sin was avoided at every turn.

Man Is Never Prosecuted

Human guilt barely registers on the Hillsong radar. While the word “sin” does get an occasional mention in Hillsong worship songs, it is never defined or described. The same goes for all the Hillsong preachers we heard—and even then, they prefer to describe sin as “dumb stuff” or “mistakes.”

Their statement of faith attempts greater clarity on the subject, but still falls far short of the biblical definition: “We believe that sin has separated each of us from God and His purpose for our lives.” That’s not a false statement, but it drastically understates the reality of man’s fallen condition.

The reticence regarding sin extends throughout the ministry. We spoke with some of the Hillsong volunteers responsible for integrating new attenders. They made it clear that they had been instructed to avoid challenging or confronting people about their sins—even open, unrepentant sin. Considering the way Hillsong operates, you can’t help but wonder where and when such a confrontation might happen? It’s certainly not coming from the pulpit.

That reluctance to deal directly with sin is institutional at Hillsong. When Brian Houston—Hillsong’s founder and global pastor—was interviewed on Australian television, he was incapable of expressing any clear-cut biblical convictions on prominent moral issues:

I think that the homosexual question and sexuality generally is one of the most challenging questions there is for the church in the 21st century. And it’s one where I feel conflict myself, as a believer in the Bible and specifically the New Testament, I think that marriage is God’s idea, and I think it’s for a man and a woman. But I also represent a God that’s merciful and gracious and kind, and having to connect those two things I think is one of the great challenges for me as a church leader.

In the church we can point the finger so easily. On the subject of abortion, I’m pro-life. But in a way I’m pro-choice as well, because I believe in the sanctity of life and I believe that life begins at conception. But I also believe that ultimately human beings have to make their own choices, and I ultimately can’t tell you what you should do. I can only give you the parameters that I believe.

Those quotes don’t represent Christian conviction. They are the chameleonic ramblings of a political pragmatist.

Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong New York, goes even further than Houston. Instead of equivocating on morality, he simply chooses to avoid the subject altogether. During a television interview with Katie Couric, Lentz was asked for his views on gay marriage: “Do you feel you have a moral imperative to speak publically about some of these more controversial issues?” He responded: “No, because we try to be like Jesus. Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues.”

That’s either a lack of integrity or biblical literacy. Either way, it’s indicative of just how far Hillsong is willing to go to avoid dealing with sin directly.

Man Is a Victim

Since Hillsong refuses to offer any exploration or explanation concerning our personal guilt, our condition is always couched in therapeutic language. Man is regularly designated as the victim rather than the perpetrator.

Both Hillsong’s music and message label the primary problems of unbelievers with words like trapped, bound, enslaved, captive, hurting, wounded, disappointed, let down, and brokenhearted. Certainly some of those words reflect the biblical truth about the unregenerate heart. But the gospel of Hillsong is presented as the remedy to those problems—not reconciliation with God (2 Corinthians 5:19) and rescue from His wrath (John 3:36).

During our visits, we regularly heard different Hillsong teachers point out that God loves us just as we are; that He understands how hard our lives are; that He has great desires and dreams for us; that He wants to fix all our financial, health, and relationship problems; and that He’s waiting on us to let Him unleash blessing and breakthrough in our lives. But none of that can happen until we have repented of our sin and surrendered our lives in faith to God.

We’re not denying the existence of genuine victims. But in terms of eternity, even the greatest victim still needs to appreciate the depth of his own guilt in order to grasp his need for the Savior. The speakers we heard at Hillsong LA were only interested in salving our own grief—there was no thought whatsoever for how our sin grieves God.

Man Doesn’t Need to Change

The natural consequence of concealing human guilt is that it removes all need for repentance—another word we rarely heard in our time at Hillsong LA. It did fit the rhyme scheme of one or two songs, and it occasionally slipped out during the routine alter calls, but it was never explained or stressed as a necessary element of faith in Christ.

Oddly enough, Hillsong’s statement of faith does talk about repentance: “We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives.” However, that quote only highlights the danger of taking doctrinal statements at face value. Concerning Hillsong and the doctrine of repentance, there is zero correlation between what they claim in print and what they actually preach.  

For the sake of honesty, Hillsong should either conform their preaching to their doctrinal statement or conform their doctrinal statement to their preaching. As it stands now, it’s hard to see it as anything less than a devious misrepresentation. Worse still, they have congregations full of people—many of them previously unchurched—who are being kept in the dark about the seriousness of their sin and their urgent need to turn from it.

Man Is Validated

That leaves Hillsong with an emaciated, man-centered gospel. A gospel where God is the supporting cast to man’s starring role. It is a gospel that fails to prosecute men for their sins against God, and instead portrays the criminal as a victim—a gospel that places no requirements on the sinner to turn from his wicked ways. Salvation is thus reduced to God’s revitalization of the victim rather than His justification of the sinner.

Even during a discussion on the prayer acronym ACTS—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication—we were specifically cautioned against confessing sins. The confession part of prayer was instead explained as reminding ourselves and God of His promises of blessing for us—a practice commonly referred to in charismatic circles as “positive confession.” With the doctrine of depravity already in ruins, it makes sense that Hillsong turns confession into another opportunity for self-aggrandizement.

That example pretty much encapsulates the delusional anthropology Hillsong teaches to its attenders. They focus on building self-esteem rather than our need to esteem Christ. They spotlight our disappointments at the expense of our guilt. They emphasize our potential while ignoring our depravity. And all the while the Hillsong flock is left in the dark about their true need for Christ.

A Final Word

Please don’t misunderstand our purpose in this series—as though we take some perverse delight in chronicling such a theological disaster. Instead, we feel a responsibility to warn the church about what we’ve seen and heard during our time at Hillsong, and encourage God’s people to be discerning about the ministries they allow to influence their faith and spiritual growth.

We also hope these posts will be lifelines to men and women who are unwittingly drowning in theological error. The people we encountered at Hillsong LA were some of the friendliest, kindest, and most welcoming people you could hope to meet. We are genuinely grieved for them and deeply troubled by their spiritual malnutrition. It’s our sincere hope that our words will help awaken them to the truth—that they are being denied the life-giving truth of God’s Word.

Perhaps you know people likewise caught under the sway of Hillsong or another similarly weak ministry—sadly, there are many others. Pray for them, and do what you can to funnel quality, biblical teaching their way. They are not the enemy; they are a spiritually starving mission field that needs to hear about the greatness of their sin and an even greater Savior.

GOD will ‘fix’ my bills?

Found this on my Faimagecebook news feed the other day. I immediately bristled at the same two things these sorts of memes always seem to be saying.

First of all, there’s the implied Word of Faith (WoF) questionable doctrine that if we ‘believe’ enough (have enough faith), GOD will in fix our bills. Not a word about how we got those, dare I say ‘legitimate’ bills in the first place, or an accompanying scripture verse that contains such a promise. I guess the skinny big headed figure dropping money bags is supposed to illustrate the non-existent promise from God.

Then there’s the “If you believe, like, type Amen and share.” line that always seems to appear on these things. It’s like saying, “If you DON’T type Amen and share, you DON’T believe and God won’t fix your bills!”

Well, while I didn’t ‘type amen and share’, I did reply that God gave me a job.

Does that mean that God ‘fixed’ my bills? On one hand, you could say ‘no’ because God didn’t drop a bag of money from the sky. On the other hand, couldn’t you say ‘yes’ if you believe, like me, that having a job that provides the means to pay your bills is one of the ‘good things’, all of which come from God.

But if I knowingly spend more than I make, I have no right to ask God to ‘fix bills’ that I could have avoided.

What really got to me about that post was the number of ‘Amens’ this silly post received and others like it receive on a regular basis.

If God doesn’t ‘drop money from the sky’, so to speak, What happens to all the ‘belief’ that was applied? A couple of things might happen. A positive result might be a person actually reading the Bible, discovering that no such promise exists within its pages. It might also result in some who has been deceived by WoF heresy and the false teachers who spew it.

A not so good result would be if some turn away from God altogether, because what they knew of ‘god’ came from wolves in sheep suites who tickled their itching ears.

So what can we do to try and stem the tide? Instead of a quick ‘amen and share’ we can keep answering with comments like ‘God gave me a job so I guess, in a manner of speaking, he did ‘fix’ my bills! Hopefully we can encourage some serious thought.

The Charismatic Spin Doctor

I ran across another Fighting For The Faith broadcast that hit it out of the park called “Michael Brown’s Spin Control for Bill Johnson”. This program has as it’s guest Phil Johnson, of Grate To You Ministries and discusses an interview between Dr Michael Brown (referred to as “Baghdad Bob” a few times) and Bill Johnson, leader of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, who just might be the most dangerous ‘wolf wearing a sheep suit’ on the planet. I highly recommend heading over there, listening to the F4F episode, watching the embedded clips of Jenn Johnson comparing the Holy Spirit to a ‘blue genie’, and also checking our some of the other links, especially the link The Bill Johnson Cornucopia of False Teaching.

If you do head over there and do a little research, let me know what you think, please.

Discernment Troubles?

In the facility where I work there is a Wednesday lunch time fellowship/Bible study. I am not a frequent Visitor, for a variety of reasons, but I’m on the distribution list the study facilitator maintains and I receive the Wednesday morning announcements confirming that it will indeed take place, along with the topic of discussion. Yesterday morning I received this one:

“Today, we’ll continue our new study of Psalm 91: God’s Umbrella of Protection, from the book by Peggy Joyce Ruth. We’ll look at Chapter 2 which looks at verse 2, “I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!’” Peggy says to circle the word ‘say’ in verse 2 in your Bible, “because we must learn to verbalize our trust.” She believes that the more we say verses 1 and 2 out loud, “the more confident we become in His protection.” Do you believe as she does? Bring examples of when speaking Scripture out loud boosted your confidence. Peggy also says that in times of trouble, “Take notice of what flies out of your mouth.” “The worst thing that can happen is for something to come out that brings death. Cursing gives God nothing to work with. This Psalm tells us to do just the opposite – to speak life!” What comes out of your mouth in times of trouble, death or life? I think this will be a great day of discussion. See you at noon! Bring your lunch.”

The first questions that came to mind were 1) Who is Peggy Joyce Ruth? 2) Am I looking at Word of Faith (ala Kenneth Copeland) teaching? And 3) Is Psalm 91 really about our needing to “verbalize our trust”?

1) Peggy Joyce Ruth. Well, at first I couldn’t find out a lot about Peggy Joyce Ruth other than a short bio on her ministry website and a few transcripts of interviews with Sid Roth, of “It’s Supernatural” fame. It seems that she spent about eight years in psychological torment, including electric shock treatments, received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at a Pepsi Cola meeting in New Orleans, had peace for two years and the spirit of fear came back to torment her again.

Then one night God appeared to her in a prophetic dream/vision one night and spoke to her audibly and said ‘‘in your day of trouble call on Me, and I will answer.’ To make a long story short, she said this was God leading her to Psalm 91, which she has been studying for about thirty years while receiving ‘divine’ insight to its meaning. She now has published a series of books about Psalm 91, with editions for toddlers, youth, teens, mothers, and military members (regular and pocket sized editions), as well as a collection of testimonies of those who come through some really tough stuff and were miraculously delivered thanks to clinging to the promises of Psalm 91 and quoting it a lot.

2) The Kenneth Copeland Connection. A day after looking into her ‘ministry’ and reading Sid Roth Interviews I discovered the August 2015 edition of Kenneth Copeland’s Believer’s Voice of Victory magazine. She was the cover story for that edition and there was a lengthy article about her inside which focused more on all of the ‘taking spiritual authority over demons and dark forces’, as is to be expected from Kenneth Copeland. While Sid Roth was all about the “Supernatural”, Kenneth Copeland was all about “taking authority”.

3) Psalm 91. The other thing I did was read Psalm 91 again to see if it was teaching anywhere that we “must speak/verbalize” Psalm 91 to see miraculous deliverance(s) when we are in a pickle. (Especially verse 2, the crux of Ms Ruth’s ‘divine’ revelation). Turns out from my plain reading in context and ALL of the commentaries I consulted (10 or so); Ms. Ruth’s teaching is nowhere to be found. The Psalm certainly promised divine protection for those who trust in the Lord, in all manner of circumstances, but no way does it teach any “Word/Faith” techniques/practices.

Discernment Troubles?

All this brings us to the crux of this post – discernment. You see, after my initial questions and first round of research, I sent an email to the Wednesday Bible study facilitator with my concerns:

“It might be profitable to actually examine Ps 91:2 to see if it is actually teaching “we must learn to verbalize our trust”, or is it an expression of a heart sentiment, knowing and trusting that God is a refuge and strength. Don’t take my word for it. Here is a link to several commentaries concerning Psalm 91:2.


This a wonderful Psalm concerning God’s protection in all the circumstances and storms of life, and one in which we can take great solace and comfort, but is it really teaching about personally verbalizing a passage for better confidence. Personally, the more I read and study scripture the more confidence I have in its truth. In this case, reading and studying other passages that speak about God’s protection for his children will go much farther in that regard.”

I received a hearty “Thanks for your input!” reply and sent another short email asking if anyone had looked into Peggy Joyce’s credentials as a Bible teacher. Here is the reply from my friend:

“I did a little bit and nothing jumped out as questionable.”

At that point, and mostly because I had not been attending the Bible study and been part of the process in selecting something new after the previous topic being discussed, I could only wonder why my friend found nothing questionable about this woman’s teaching if he had looked into her. Was it because his ‘little bit’ of investigating was very, very little, or he found the same stuff I had found (since there was little to find anyway) and was clueless concerning bad doctrine? Did he get sucked in by the novelty of new revelation that was pleasing to itching ears? What?

This is not a personal criticism, but rather an observation. After all, my friend might have a LOT of company. While I am sure that there is a certain amount of truth in Ruth’s books and teachings, I am equally sure that lies always ride in on the horseback of truth. I don’t remember when I first heard it or who said it, but someone said that sound discernment isn’t so much knowing the difference between truth and lies, but it’s being able to tell the difference between truth and ‘almost’ truth. Perhaps he was right.

On the other hand, maybe the disease technically termed “itchingearitis” causes the desire for plain Biblical truth (inherent in the new heart of a believer) to fly out the window. If that’s an accurate statement, there is a single and 100% effective solution for that believer. Read the Book for what it says, and be cautious concerning ‘extra’ material. First and foremost, let scripture interpret scripture. When we do that, our ears become sensitive to little clues that something might be amiss, and are less susceptible to being tickled.

Yes, I would say that ‘discernment troubles’ abound in the ranks of professing Christians, given the amount of very questionable ‘teaching’ these days.

And remember. . .lies come prancing in on the horseback of truth.

“Of course  it’s true, it’s on the Internet!”

We laugh at that notion, as if no one with of a functioning brain would swallow such a ridiculous idea! Only a complete idiot would believe that!

At the same time, some of us who profess Christ would subscribe to a slightly different notion:

“The music is fantastic, it MUST be a great church!”

Well, don’t we? (Rhetorical question) Whether it’s tender lyrics that make us feel all loved and warm inside, electric guitar riffs accompanied by loud pounding drums reminscent of our non-believing days, or somewhere in between, we automatically assume we’re in a great church!

But is it true, or are we getting ‘Hooked on a Feeling’, like B. J. Thomas used to sing. (aging myself?)

At ths point I have to admit that I have two specific ‘churches’ in mind, Hillsong and Bethel. I recently visited family in Texas and the music of both was glowingly spoken of. A friend at work, when I asked him if he had a good weekend, said yes and going to the recently released Hillsong movie was part of it. If you don’t know, it was billed primarily as ‘experiencing’ worship. You can hardly find a church thesemdaysmthat doesn’t play Hillsong and Bethel music on a regular basis.

In case you think / this a Hillsong/Bethel bash fest, don’t worry, it’s not. I’ll leave it to you to investigate their respective ‘doctrines’, vision statements, etc.
Some of you won’t have an issue with Word of Faith, the prosperity gospel, glory clouds, gold dust, dead raising teams, etc.. If you are one of those, I encourage you to read the Bible, in context, and ask yourself if they are biblical.

In fact, I would ask us all to be a bit more discerning when it comes to both contemporary Christian music and the doctrine(s) held by the churches who have laid classical theology rich hymns aside in order to attract more of the ‘unchurched’. Hillsong and Bethel aren’t the only ones dispensaing spiritual junk food.

While you’re examining the church behind the music, also ask yourself if the preaching there is more about you and your felt needs, or God and his glory.

Happy discerning!

If a personal word of prophecy spoken over you fails, it’s YOUR fault!

In an article published 11 August at the ‘Jennifer LeClaire Ministries’ website titled “Why Some Would-Be Life-Changing Prophetic Words Don’t Come to Pass” (also published in Charisma Magazine and via the Chrisma podcast), Jennifer LeClaire has this to say to us concerning the ‘prophetic word(s)’ over our lives:

At the end of the day, it really does boil down to this: There is a war over the prophetic word over your life. Sometimes that war comes from the wicked one. Sometimes that war comes from our own carnal nature that wars against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). Either way—and whether in Scripture or via prophecy judged accurate—we must fight the good fight of faith so we can walk in the fullness of God’s promises.”

I see a couple of problems with the above declaration. First of all it assumes that extra biblical ‘prophetic words’ over our lives are part of ‘the fullness of God’s promises’. Of course, as Jennifer tells us concerning these prophetic words, “you need a certain maturity to walk out the word by faith”. In other words, your spiritual immaturity could cause these ‘prophetic words’ to fail. Neither of these two points is taught in Scripture, but must be read into the text.

What is her scriptural support for this? What is the Biblical text into which Ms. LeClaire tries to fit her assertions? The parable of the sower, the seed, and the different types of ground upon which the seed falls (Matthew 13:3-23)! Jennifer tells us (prophetically?) that “In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explains some spiritual truth about the Word of God. But it can also apply to prophecies that come straight from His heart.” (emphasis mine). In other words, the ‘prophetic words’ that others can speak over us, that we can speak over ourselves, or that we can receive in dreams (more about that in a bit), are straight from Jesus’ heart. So how do we know that a ‘prophetic word’ is from Jesus’ heart or an imperfect and still sinful human heart? I have no idea and Jennifer doesn’t explain that one.

Then we have the ‘spiritual warfare’ that takes place in the spiritual realm and/or in our own flesh that can thwart that the parable describes (because Jennifer says so, of course):

“When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one who received seed beside the path” (Matt. 13:19-20). It’s important you understand exactly what God is saying prophetically. Many people miss it on the interpretation or application, especially in the dream realm. Of course, some prophecies are hard to misinterpret, especially ones about having babies or operating in some spiritual gift.”

Jennifer’s concluding advice is this:

“Continue to declare the prophetic word over your life. Remember, the enemy doesn’t really care about you. He hates you, yes, but ultimately he just doesn’t want the prophetic word to come to pass because, when it does, God’s will comes to the Earth.

If you are in a season of waiting and warring, hold on. Keep in mind it was at least 15 years between David’s prophetic anointing and David’s kingship. And it was about 13 years in between Joseph’s dream and his promotion to Egypt’s prime minister.

Chances are, it won’t take that long for you to see the first fruits of life-changing prophetic words spoken over your life. But even if it does, don’t give in to the enemy’s strategies. Ultimately, this is the Lord’s battle. Declare the prophetic word over your life and keep fighting the good fight of faith.”

Really? What the bible tells us about the possibility of genuine prophecies failing seems to disagree with Jennifer:

“If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him” (Deut. 18:22).

Not surprisingly, Jennifer never touches that passage, nor can she without suffering a huge loss of credibility, at least with the Biblically literate among us.

Furthermore, the penalty for prophesying falsely, in the name of the one true God or any other false god, was death (Deut 18:20). Period. End of story.

Ms. Leclaire, as well as other false prophets among us would have far fewer followers, not to mention ‘students’ at their “Schools for Prophets” (they’re out there) if God’s true word concerning claiming to speak directly for Him were read and heeded. While we don’t actually see false prophets being executed at the hand of man, or God for that matter, they will all face judgment. Perhaps if one were to drop dead, perhaps at a ‘prophecy open mic night’ (they are out there too), some of their mouths would quickly become silent as they repented and begged God for mercy. That is not the case however.

What can we do to stem the advancing tide of false prophets claiming to speak directly from God’s lips to our ears? If the spiritual tsunami of apostasy lead by false teachers and lying prophets is part of the end times great delusion, maybe nothing. It could get worse and worse. We can however, stand up for truth and the sufficiency of scripture for all things in our lives. We can expose the lies and falsehoods out of a love for God’s revealed word, a burden for lost souls, and the spiritual welfare of believers we know who have bought into the lie.


The Jennifer LeClaire Ministries article can be read here. The same article is in Charisma Magazine here. I mention Charisma Magazine because Ms. LeClaire is a Senior Editor at CM, which is the ‘flagship’ publication for Charismatics everywhere. I also have Christian friends who are Charismatic/Pentecostal and for whom I care deeply. I used to be one.

As a final note, Chris Rosebrough over at Pirate Christian Radio Episode addressed the same article/issue in a recent ‘Issues, Etc.’ podcast you can listen to here. It was listening to the podcast that led to more research. It was hard to believe that someone would twist scripture as badly as Ms. Leclair (I’m thinking giant pretzel).

Beware of False Fire

The ‘Toronto Blessing’ (now called ‘Catch the Fire Toronto’) began in January 1994 and its fallout has been continuously poisoning the church for a dozen years now, even having invaded once solid evangelical organizations. The Toronto Blessing had roots in the earlier Latter Rain movement and was denounced by the Assemblies of God in 1949. Nevertheless, it still gets very favorable press in Charismatic circles and publications, most notably Charisma Magazine.

At the same time, those with sound biblical discernment skills can easily see it for what it is – heretical poison. Recently, Chris Rosebrough devoted a Pirate Christian Radio segment to the movement, using a teaching by Alan Morrison from 1994. You can listen to it here, or you can watch the YouTube here. The presentation discusses the roots of the movement, it’s main personalities, and its purposes.

This post summaries  the purposes of Toronto Blessing, both Satan’s and God’s, as presented in Alan Morrison’s presentation:

Satan’s Purposes:

1. Destroy the authority of scripture.

· Making it subordinate to personal revelation(s).

· Making it subordinate to human personal/subjective experience(s).

· Twisting it (scripture) to justify unbiblical ideas. (Psalm 23-he makes me lie down) Decide what you want to believe and find a ‘proof’ text.

2. Stop Christians using their minds. Like the New Age movement.

  • Through the suppression of  discernment
  • By eradicating the centrality of doctrine in the Christian life. (Relationship with Jesus is more important than doctrine.)

3. Destroy the work of Biblical evangelism.

  • By stopping the mouths of preachers of God’s word.
  • By removing the heart from out of the gospel (Christ died for our sins).

4. Intimidate Christians into surrendering to Satan.

  • Death to those who resist the ‘new’ move of the Spirit. (Benny Hinn, William Branham, Paul Crouch)

5. Seduce Christians into believing there is some ‘higher’ form of salvation that they should seek. Faith is not enough – there’s MORE!.

6. Make believers confuse pietism (experience of divine presence, etc.) with true spirituality.

7. To bring an occult initiation into the heart of the church. Initiation into all the forces of the New Age.

8. Prepare Christians for the coming great deception (Benjamin Crème and The New Age)

God’s Purposes:

1. Drive his true people to run to him alone for comfort and salvation – to become serious students of the Word.

2. Sift the churches – separating the true church from false churches, denominations and movements.

I highly recommend watching the YouTube, which is rather long, to get a real appreciation for the seriousness of the poison that has invaded the church. Chris Rosebrough’s audio doesn’t really do the presentation justice.

I also pray that current Charismatics would either listen to or watch the presentation. It very well could be a giant wake up call for those deceived into thinking Toronto was a genuine move of the Holy Spirit when it was not.

Together 2016 – Reversing the Reformation?

If you haven’t already heard, an event called ‘Together 2016’will be held on July 16 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It’s advertised as a call for unity in the church – a stand against division.

Division is everywhere.

Race. Class. Politics. Social media. Religion. The millennial generation is the most cause-driven in history—but our causes put us at odds and we create enemies of each other. The Church is paying a price. Young people associate faith with arguing and politicking. The message that Jesus loves us and offers a reset is getting lost in the noise.

Jesus directly challenged a culture of division. He prayed we would be one—one family, one body. And He told us to love our enemies. Everyone loves their friends; it’s when we love those who aren’t like us that the world takes note. It’s time to come together around Jesus in a counter-cultural moment of unity and love for each other. 

The need for hope is too great to be pointing fingers at each other instead of pointing to Jesus together.


Roman Catholic Pope Francis is even scheduled to make a video appearance. Main organizer, Nick Hall  had this to say about the Pope’s appearance:

“We are humbled and honored by his involvement and are eager to share his message with the crowd that gathers at Together 2016,” Hall said in a statement to The Christian Post, reacting to the announcement that the pope has added his name to the list of speakers. “That His Holiness would choose to speak into this historic day is a testament to the urgency and the need for followers of Jesus to unite in prayer for our nation and our world.”

I hate to say it, but Nick Hall & Company will probably be an inspiration to a huge flock of young people. You see, Nick Hall is the founder of PULSE, which is primarily a ministry to college age ‘next generation’ youth. He seems to be HUGE, if you believe the ads about him, but I wouldn’t know because I am not a follower of the various youth directed ‘movements’ that seem to be more like rock concerts than genuine spiritual revival. They are ‘spiritual’ all right, but what ‘spirit’? Just asking. . .

You see, by having the leader of a religion that preaches a false gospel of ‘faith plus works’ as a headliner at a ‘Christian’ event should concern genuine Bible believing Christians. I don’t necessarily blame the million or so young people that will be drawn to this event. Many, if not most of them have probably never read their own Bibles. Although there have been attempts in the past to bring Protestants and Catholics together, or make it seem that we are, the Council of Trent clearly states that it is faith in God plus works that save a man. You can read for yourself the specific Canons from Trent speaking to adding works to faith here.

The movement toward Catholic & Protestant reconciliation is nothing new.

“March 29, 1994 saw a development that some have touted as the most significant development in Protestant-Catholic relations since the dawn of the Reformation. A document titled “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium” was published with a list of more than thirty signatories—including well-known evangelicals Pat Robertson, J. I. Packer, Os Guinness, and Bill Bright. They were joined by leading Catholics such as John Cardinal O’Connor, Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, and Catholic scholar Peter Kreeft.” Source

“The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ) is a document created, and agreed to, by the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999, as a result of extensive ecumenical dialogue. It states that the churches now share “a common understanding of our justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ.” To the parties involved, this essentially resolves the five hundred year old conflict over the nature of justification which was at the root of the Protestant Reformation.” Source

In 2017 Lutherans and Catholics will jointly celebration the 1517 Reformation. In a section of a detailed explanation of the 2017 initiatives we have these words:

“The first imperative: Catholics and Lutherans should always begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division in order to strengthen what is held in common even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced.” Source

I would add that the segment of Lutheranism represented in this ecumenical dialogue does not represent the conservative segments of Lutheran Church, such as the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).

Here’s the point in all this in the words of the Apostle Paul:

Ephesians 2:8-9English Standard Version (ESV)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9, ESV)

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:8, ESV)

Need I say more? I certainly hope not.

What we can do:

1. Educate our believing friends concerning the danger of mixing the genuine gospel with false gospel messages, and pray that evangelical churches sponsoring and planning to attend this abominable event will see the light and choose truth over false unity.

2. Pray that God will open the hearts of young people (the primary target audience for this abomination), and that He will send his messengers to speak to those open hearts.

May this Lord’s Day find you blessed and prospering in His Word!

Abraham Maslow or Jesus Christ – What’s it Gonna Be?

I suppose you are wondering what I’m on about this time! And who’s this Maslow fellow? Those are both understandable concerns. It wasn’t until earlier today that I discovered the connection between Maslow and most of today’s evangelicalism. And after all, I’m not William Tapley, the 3rd Eagle of the Apocalypse and co-prophet of the End-Times! I’m a it slow some times.

I made the connection while reading an article about something else entirely and coming across the term ‘self-actualization’. The term immediately brought Abraham Maslow to mind, since I first heard that term in a class discussion concerning human behavior. According to Maslow, self-actualization sits as the top of a pyramid that explains why people behave the way they do. Here’s that pyramid, with explanations of the main human ‘needs’ areas and what they each mean:



It seems to me that today’s evangelicalism, as expressed by today’s seeker friendly/purpose driven models, is more about and speaks more to individual psychological and self-fulfillment needs in the exact terms expressed above, than it does about behaving in all things first and foremost to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).

Instead of being told we are sinners deserving of the wrath of God (Eph 2), we are taught that what’s missing from our lives is a personal ‘relationship’ with Jesus, whose principal and often sole character trait is love, love, love. None of that sin judgment stuff, “All We Need is Love”!

We are told all about ‘community’ and relationships with other believers, and put into ‘Life Groups’ to help us feel a great sense of ‘belonging’ to something bigger than ourselves. When we are pumped up to buy into the ‘vision’ of our church’s Pastor, pitched as given to the Pastor directly and often audibly from God himself, the sense of ‘belonging’ seems even more intense.

In many of our churches, our self-esteem and how good we feel about ourselves seems to be of paramount importance. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Dr. Robert Schuler once stated that our lack of self-esteem is THE great sin and patterned his ministry around that assertion. Thanks to a couple of good students of his, we’ve seen the birth and growth of the seeker-friendly and purpose driven models for ‘doing’ church. If we use the Apostle Paul’s model and simply preach Christ crucified and resurrected because of OUR sins, we are out of touch.

That brings us to the ultimate goal of all human beings (according to Abraham Maslow and others), to find self-fulfillment /actualization. In today’s evangelical jargon, it’s called one’s ‘dream destiny’. That’s not a new concept either. It’s been the staple of motivational speakers for years (just Google ‘dream destiny & tony Robbins)! Now it’s also all over the evangelical landscape. People in pews and stadium seats from coast to coast are constantly being told how to find and accomplish their ‘dream destiny’, which has been especially designed by God for each and every person!

Today’s gospel is that ‘Jesus died for your dreams’, not ‘Christ died for our sins’. I actually heard that from an Army Chaplain one Sunday morning and relocated to a different Chapel for Sunday worship. If you don’t believe me about how widespread this new gospel is, try listening to Rick Warren and Joel Osteen for a bit, not to mention a growing number of formerly sound Biblical churches and Pastors.

And how great this new gospel sounds to the itching ears of fallen men, and how easily it deceives genuine believers who are not yet well informed by the truth of scripture that speaks of dying to self, not living for self!

Yes, Abraham Maslow had it right concerning what we ‘naturally’ want most out of life. What a great tragedy that so many churches have adopted, and are preaching a ‘gospel’ of self-actualization. I wonder if he foresaw the evangelical church capitalizing on his needs hierarchy in the name of faux church growth.

The most significant question for many of today’s evangelical churches might be “What are you teaching in your church – Abraham Maslow and self-actualization, or Jesus Christ and self-denial?”

As an individual believer, I can ask myself “What is my Christian life and walk about – Abraham Maslow and self-actualization, or Jesus Christ and self-denial?”

What about you and your church, dear reader? Abraham Maslow or Jesus Christ – what’s it gonna be?