You’re not helping….(part 2)
You’re not helping when you think the problem of false teaching, bogus claims and undiscerning believers is limited to a small minority or only found on the fringes of Christianity. You’re not helping when you think the danger of false teaching and spiritual deception is only within the known and obvious aberrations, like the cults and sects we wrote off long ago. Some make a terrible assumption when dealing with error by thinking that it’s restricted to the outskirts of Christianity and really isn’t happening in many or even most churches.
The books and content on sale at Christian bookstores reflect accurately the interest of many believers. Therefore when we see book shrines up of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes and your best-selling “Heaven’s for real” genre it is very telling of the spiritual appetite of believers! That kind of spiritual garbage won’t be there if it isn’t being bought and it won’t be best-sellers if it isn’t being bought by many! And this shouldn’t surprise us because the Bible informs us that false teaching won’t be on the outside looking in but will creep inside unnoticed (Acts 20:29-310, 2 Tim. 3:1-9)!
So the problem is much closer to home and the prevalence of false teaching and false teachers are more accurately taking up larger parts of Christianity. Just last week I was wondering out loud (on facebook) why it is that men like Benny Hinn a supposed ‘faith healer’ aren’t making plans to go the Ebola effected countries in West-Africa. With all sincerity I think this should be a legitimate question asked by any person who appreciates the ministry of any faith healer.
However as of to date no plans are made by him and instead I was told by his appreciators, that I’m being cruel, and foolish, and various other sweet superlatives. This again made me realize how relevant and necessary it is to encourage discernment among believers. There is still a large part of protestant Christianity that sympathizes and still supports Benny Hinn. This is especially troubling after he has, on countless times been shown as a fraud, charlatan and deceiver. Justin Peters clearly demonstrates Benny Hinn as a false teacher:
Benny Hinn is one of, if not the most widely recognized personalities of the charismatic/Word-Faith movement. He is the world’s most famous (or infamous depending upon your point of view) faith healer. He attracts large crowds domestically, but the crowds at his international crusades are staggering, often numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Hinn has been doing “ministry” for some 35 years and in that time has taught some of the most jaw-dropping heresies, offered dozens of demonstrably false prophecies and has made some of the most outlandish claims imaginable:
Claims he healed every patient at a hospital in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada
Claims his father was the mayor of Jaffa, Israel. He wasn’t.
Of his critics said, “Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun, I’d blow your head off.”
Has threatened even the innocent children of his critics.
Claims Kathryn Kuhlman visits him from the dead and claims to get an anointing from the tomb of Aimee Semple McPherson.
Claimed to have video of Jesus walking around in one of his meetings. When asked to show the video his staff said that it had been “misplaced.”
On Dec. 31, 1989, Hinn went into a “trance” and said that God was giving him (in real time) prophecies about major events in the then upcoming decade of the 1990s. “God” said these events would include the collapse of the American economy, the East coast being ravaged by earthquakes, a female elected as president, Fidel Castro’s death in office, the rise of a “short man dictator,” the Rapture of the church, and the destruction of the homosexual community in America “in ’94 or ’95, no later than that” – with fire. This is by no means exhaustive of Hinn’s false prophecies, it is just all he managed on this particular night.
Claimed that God told him by divine revelation knowledge that there are actually 9 members in the Godhead.
Claimed the Holy Spirit told him that women were originally intended to give birth out of their sides.
Claimed that when the Red Sea parted the water froze and it was actually ice that crushed the Egyptian soldiers.
Claimed that as a young man he was in his room talking to the Holy Spirit. When called to supper by the “woman of the house,” he said, “…as I was about to leave, I felt someone take my hand and say, ‘Five more minutes. Just five more minutes.’ The Holy Spirit longed for my fellowship.”
Lives in a $10 million parsonage and is known to stay in hotel rooms costing upwards of $10k per night. He flies in a private jet and is well known for his lavish spending and opulent lifestyle – all funded by donations to his ministry.
Teaches all of the standard Word-Faith doctrines such as Positive Confession, the Little gods doctrine, the Spiritual Death of Jesus (SDJ) doctrine, and guaranteed health and wealth for the believer.
Seed-Faith theology is a staple in Hinn’s teaching. He promises people that if they “sow a seed” (translated, give him money) that God will give them a “harvest.”
Claims to have a department that verifies all of his healings. I have spoken with a former employee of Hinn’s who says that not only are the healings not verified but that such a department does not even exist.
This just scratches the surface with Hinn. Benny Hinn literally meets each and every biblical criterion as to how to discern a false teacher. If Benny Hinn is not a false teacher then someone needs to explain to me what one is because I do not know. If he is not a false teacher then the term truly has no meaning. (read here for more)
More closer to home, over the past week there has been a lot of talk in Cape Town about a Christian conference called “Quantum leap”. In an extract from Joy Magazine the conference is described in the following words:
“Quantum Leap, as defined, implies a sudden, highly significant advance or breakthrough. This completely blows every law out of the water. It allows you to go from 0 to one million, from A to Z and completely missing everything in between. A quantum leap goes from lack to overflowing abundance in the blink of an eye. This is what we expect from God in this atmosphere. This year we will be blessed by some of the most cutting edge speakers. God has anointed specific men and women to speak us right into the next ten years of church building.”
This conference promises to enable you to take a quantum leap…whatever that means. Now if I’m right the idea of a ‘Quantum leap’ feeds off the other erroneous notion of a ‘leap of faith”. Perhaps it’s what 20th century existentialism’s ‘leap of faith’ would look like in 21st century undiscerning Christianity. Now though many believers become very excited at anything that promises ‘instant success”, ‘immediate results” , “quick fixes, “quantum leaps”, moving from “0 to one million’ the truth of the matter is that the Bible more often than not exhorts us to “wait” to be “patient” to “persevere” to trust in God and hope in God even though times are testing and difficult.
Now my aim is not to show the obvious error of this quantum leap business, I think reading that extract should make it obvious that it has nothing to do with Christianity or the gospel for that matter. Especially when you take into consideration that the line-up of speakers at this conference all sing from the same heretical hymnbook of word-faith theology.
The line-up includes Michael Pitts known for his word-faith, prosperity gospel theology, and being the ‘bishop’ arrested for driving under the influence, or perhaps he just got carried away with the communion? I reference this to show again the immediate presence of false teaching and erroneous claims and undiscerning believers (reportedly 3000 young people attended a Friday evening Quantum leap event). So what I’m concerned about is not something that’s in the minority and fading but something that’s more seriously a major growing problem.
Then during the same time there is a conference taking place in East-London called Stand Strong. One of the speakers at the conference is Perry Stone and that he can still attract a Christian audience to take him serious after saying and writing stuff like this is beyond me. I sat watching this “show” (for want of a better word) on tv and what was supposed to have been a sermon preached from the Bible, instead what I heard and saw was more like a comedy show, clownish oratory and a complete mockery of God and His Word. Yes there were various familiar biblical words used but so devoid from the Bible that it quite literally makes your head spin stomach turn!
And this I say with genuine concern and love; the farcical claims, practices and experiences, the man-centered-your-best-life-now-preaching to itching ears that is passing itself off today as Christianity has just got to stop! If you want to have a conference, fine! If you want to give it some existential ‘neo-Kierkegaarden’ name like ‘Quantum Leap’, fine! If you want to call comedian-like blasphemous-word-faith-preachers to East-London for your Stand Strong Conference, fine! But if you are not going to make an attempt to rightfully handle the Scriptures, faithfully proclaim the gospel, clearly demonstrate a Biblical understanding of the person and work of the Lord Jesus, and truly honor the person of the Holy Spirit in His true work- then don’t call it Christian! I’m fed-up with the nonsense passing itself off as Christianity, and the outrageous claims made in the name of the Lord Jesus, as well as the bogus experiences attributed to the Holy Spirit.
Now I might be upsetting and hurting some feelings, but I’m sincerely more concerned about the thousands of people being deceived and on their way to hell because they’re led astray by wolves in sheep clothing. I’m sincerely more concerned about the many unbelievers who stand and watch and think that the circus nature of many church services and the unintelligent, money-loving, sheep-fleecing prosperity preachers are actually a true representation of Jesus, His Church and the gospel! The time and the need is as serious as ever to contend earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints! With the same spirit and resolve of Luther at the Diet of Worms we must contend today and say!
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone (in our day it would be so called apostles or popular preaches), as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. [Here I stand; I can do no other.] God help me. Amen.
Now I believe as it relates to large parts of Christianity in Cape Town the problem might not be that people are deliberately teaching error. It’s that biblical illiteracy and undiscerning believers led by incompetent preachers are providing a massive platform for false teaching and teachers. And “you’re not helping when you think the problem is limited to a minority and on the fringed of Christianity”.