Steven Furtick (and Craig Groeschel) Jump On Prosperity Bandwagon

Two of America's biggest and most influential Evangelical megachurch "rock star" pastors have officially jumped the shark and joined forces with full-on "prosperity pimp" Bill Winston

 

 

These guys pass themselves off as Bible-teaching pastors, but they have proven (yet again) that it's all about the money. Word of Faith teaching has no place in a real, Christ-centered, Christian church.

 

Here's an article about this pathetic excuse for "leadership" and "business training" from our friends at Pulpit and Pen:

Steven Furtick Goes Full-On Prosperity by Jeff Maples

 

For an extra-large dose of irony, here's a full-page advertisement from Christianity Today Magazine (May 2016) from the (poorly named) Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability:

"You can trust us! Why? Because we took out this expensive ad that says you can trust us!"


 

The Steven Furtick Cornucopia of False Teaching, Egomania and Hair Gel

Bill Winston, Steven Furtick and Craig Groeschel do NOT want you to read this: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know!

Interview With Costi Hinn: Leaving Uncle Benny to (Really) Follow Jesus

Here's an absolutely fascinating interview with Benny Hinn's nephew, Costi Hinn. Costi went from being an insider in his world-famous uncle's ministry to being just a "regular" Bible-teaching pastor. Please listen and share this episode with your friends who need to hear the real Gospel message! 

Costi Hinn

Costi Hinn

Here is the website for Costi Hinn's church: Mission Bible Church 

Here is the media ministry website for Mission Bible Church: Equip the Saint

Costi Hinn's articles on Pulpit and Pen: Pulpit and Pen

His Twitter handle is: @costiwhinn


The Charles Finney Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Pelagianism & Evangelical Manipulation

Charles G. Finney (1792-1875) was the father of "Revivalism" in America, the most prominent preacher of the Second Great Awakening, and in many ways the father of modern Evangelicalism in America. He is often considered the predecessor of American Evangelists/Revivalists like D.L. Moody, Billy Sunday and Billy Graham. He was a successful lawyer who became a Christian as a young man and decided to use his considerable powers of persuasion to begin preaching, in spite of having little theological training.

 

If you've ever heard a preacher give an impassioned, emotionally manipulative sermon that ends with an irresistible plea to come forward and somehow make a decision to become a Christian, you've witnessed the lasting impact of Charles Finney. If you've ever felt that the church was ineffective in building God's Kingdom and what we really need is a big 'ole revival, you've been influenced by Finney. 

In overly simplistic terms, Finney was guilty of a form of "Pelagianism," which means he over-emphasized man's free will so much that the sovereignty of God (and God's ability to save) was virtually ignored. Finney believed that Christians could accomplish God's work by simply using their determination, so much so in fact, that he practically left God out of the equation:

 "A revival is not a miracle according to another definition of the term "miracle” — something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind become religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert powers which they had before, in a different way, and use them for the glory of God. A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means — as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means." -Charles Finney, (Lectures on Revival, Lecture 1, 11)

Worse than that, was Finney's unorthodox view of the atonement of Christ. Finney didn't believe in the substitutionary atonement, instead he believed that Christ's death on the cross was simply demonstrating obedience to God. Since Jesus was obedient enough to go all the way to death on the cross, we should do likewise. Christ didn't so much accomplish something on the cross (pay for our sins) as He was setting a good example for us to follow. This alters the meaning of the Gospel completely! This view of the atonement is usually called the "Moral Influence" theory. Not only did Finney believe that the "moral influence" theory of the atonement was the chief way of understanding the cross; he explicitly denied the substitutionary atonement, which he said:

"assumes that the atonement was a literal payment of a debt, which we have seen does not consist with the nature of the atonement ... It is true, that the atonement, of itself, does not secure the salvation of any one" -Charles G. Finney (Systematic Theology p.217).

If you've ever felt worn out and frustrated by the "do more, try harder" version of Christianity, this shocking news about Finney's beliefs might help you to understand what has gone wrong in much of American Evangelicalism. 

 

The following articles and videos are from various writers, theologians and pastors who all agree that Charles G. Finney had a number of very questionable beliefs, and it would do the church much good to carefully consider how Finney's ideas contrast with Holy Scripture. 

The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney by Michael Horton

Charles Finney’s Influence on American Evangelicalism-Exposing Charles Finney's Heretical Teachings by Bob DeWaay

Charles Finney's Influence on American Evangelicalism Radio Broadcast with Bob DeWaay

The Pelagian Controversy by R. C. Sproul

Charles G. Finney: Heretic or Man of God (Part one) by Richard Belcher

Charles G. Finney: Heretic or Man of God (Part two) by Richard Belcher

Charles G. Finney: Heretic or Man of God (Part three) by Richard Belcher

Finney: The Aftermath by Monte E. Wilson

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing: How Charles Finney's Theology Ravaged the Evangelical Movement by Phil Johnson

Charles Finney The Father of American Evangelicalism lecture by Jeremy Rhode

Walther Versus Finney by Dr. Tom Baker

Charles G. Finney: How Theology Affects Understanding of Revival by Iain H. Murray

The Heresies of Charles Finney (Part one) by John Cereghin

The False Teachers: Pelagius by Tim Challies

  Charles G. Finney: How Theology Affects Understanding of Revival

 

Todd White Flees Rebuke of Homeschool Mom, Threatens to Call Police

Read this amazing first-hand account from a homeschool mom who dared to confront the hyper-charismatic superstar, Todd White:

Todd White Flees Rebuke of Woman, Threatens to Call Police by Cindy McCann in Pulpit & Pen

 

 

Read more about this false teacher:

Todd White- How to Read Your(self into the) Bible by Steven Kozar

Todd White Flips the Gospel Upside Down by Steven Kozar

Todd White is part of the New Apostolic Reformation: The New Apostolic Reformation Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Dominionism, Charismania and Deception

For those who think it's mean, judgmental and un-loving to criticize Todd White (or any other popular teacher) here's something just for you: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know.

If you're having a knee-jerk reaction to try and defend Todd White, check out: Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs.

Finally, here's an article that will help you be more discerning and a lot less gullible: Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs.

The Seeker-Friendly, Purpose-Driven Cornucopia of False Doctrine

The "attractional" church model is so common that it's practically the norm; most Christians have assumed that it is the only valid way to "do church" nowadays, or they don't even know that other legitimate options exist. What is it? Simply put, this model of church starts with the idea that "normal" church is unattractive and can't bring in new people, so exciting new ideas must be implemented in order to get people in the door. Once people show up for the attractive and entertaining aspects, they'll eventually hear a gospel message and they'll "accept Jesus in their hearts" (or something to that effect).

This philosophy makes a number of assertions and assumptions right from the start:

  • The needs and sensibilities of the unbeliever should determine the strategy of the church. 
  • All of the churches in history (up till now) were doing it wrong: too old-fashioned, too boring, too stiff, too negative, too much doctrine, too ritualistic, etc.
  • People would be glad to go to church, but it's just too "churchy." All we need to do is tone down all the religious stuff, make it fun and "relevant" and people will show up.
  • A church should focus on meeting people's needs through "life skills," "success," "psychological therapy" and "leadership" training, and it should help it's members become "purpose-driven" people who can "accomplish their destiny." A church doesn't need to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins anymore; or if it does, it must radically alter the language to appease unbelievers. 
  • Numerical growth is proof of God's blessing; lack of numerical growth is proof that God is not involved.
  • In order to build the church, God needs "vision-casting" pastors, and these pastors must then command their followers to do the work required by the "vision" that God gave them.   

Robert Schuller (1926-2015) is probably the man most responsible for establishing the Attractional, Seeker-Friendly, Purpose-Driven church model; although a case could be made that Henry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) really laid the foundation. Schuller removed many of the "negative" aspects of Christianity like Christ dying on the cross to atone for our sin, hell, God's anger and God's wrath; and replaced it with the Positive Thinking philosophy he borrowed directly from his mentor, Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993). Here's an article with more detail: Robert Schuller and The Seeker Sensitive Church-The Roots and Fruits of Robert Schuller's Version of Theological Liberalism by Bob DeWaay

At a very fundamental level, Schuller believed that because modern people didn't care about their eternal salvation anymore, the church should reach them by appealing to the things that did matter to them; things like their self-esteem and their earthly success and happiness. 

The church must develop a theology for mission. I don’t think it’s done that. I accept John 3:16 as a good one if people have a fear of hell. Maybe they have, but I find a lot of secular people haven’t. At what point can I find a button to push so that I can reach them? I think their desire for self-esteem is that button.
— Robert Schuller interviewed in Christianity Today, Aug. 10,1984
I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and hence counterproductive to the evangelistic enterprise than the unchristian, uncouth strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.
— Robert Schuller “Dr. Schuller Comments,” (letter to the editor), Christianity Today, October 5, 1984, pp. 12-13

A New Reformation? The Christian Research Institute Examines the Theology of Robert Schuller

After Schuller established the Crystal Cathedral and his T.V. Show "The Hour of Power" came a couple of young pastors who took his ideas and implemented them on an even larger scale: Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. Both of these men learned about growing a church directly from Schuller when they were starting their new churches. Although Schuller was often viewed with skepticism by many Evangelicals (because he had so clearly altered and reduced the Gospel message), both Hybels and Warren have maintained more mainstream reputations as genuine Evangelicals and have escaped much scrutiny. But when examined more carefully, the Mega-Church/Attractional model they brought to full fruition in Willow Creek Church (Hybels) and Saddleback Church (Warren) is not really an orthodox, Biblical Church; it's a strange hybrid that ends up creating more problems than it solves.

Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, attended Robert Schuller's "Institute for Church Growth" in 1979 while Warren was in his last year of seminary. In a 2002 interview for Christianity Today Magazine, Kay Warren said this of their visit to the institute: "He (Schuller) had a profound effect on Rick. We were captivated by his positive appeal to non-believers. I never looked back." (Christianity Today, Nov. 18, 2002) Rick Warren, however, has been strangely silent about the obvious influence that Schuller has had on him.

A big problem with the Mega-Church message is that it's a watered-down and neutered message. This Christianity is focused on meeting the "felt needs" of people, but the Gospel message is about how Christ gave His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. He didn't die on the cross to give us purpose or make us successful. The true and complete Gospel must be preached so that people can hear the Word of God and can understand the weight of their sin; it's only from that point that people have the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. In the worse case, "Mega-Church" scenario, the message confuses people into thinking that becoming a Christian is simply "accepting" Jesus so that He can make you more complete, or more satisfied. As an example of this, Rick Warren had a chance to preach a gospel message to a gigantic audience at a TED Talk in 2008, but he choose to preach a feel-good, non-Christian message instead: 

So the good life is not about looking good, feeling good, or having the goods. It’s about being good and doing good. The bottom line is that God gets pleasure watching you be you. Why? He made you. And when you do what you are made to do, He goes, ‘That’s my boy.’ ‘That’s my girl.’ You are using the talent and the ability that God gave you. So my advice to you is look at what is in your hand, your identity, your influence, your income. And say, ‘It’s not about me; it’s about making the world a better place. Thank you.
— Rick Warren, TED Talk, February, 2006

(Here's the complete TED Talk given by Rick Warren in February, 2006)

 

Here's an example of Andy Stanley freely admitting that he uses "attractional" messages to get people to attend his Mega-Church:

People are not on a truth quest; they are on a happiness quest. They will continue to attend your church - even if they don’t share your beliefs - as long as they find the content engaging and helpful.
— Andy Stanley

One of the most striking characteristics of the Attractive, Seeker-Friendly church is the constant emphasis on LEADERSHIP. This is not surprising, since much of the philosophy behind this church model is not based on the Bible-it's based on business principles. The non-Christian business guru  Peter Drucker (1909-2005) has probably had more influence on this idea of church than any single pastor. Read: Peter Drucker's Mega-Church Legacy. Both Hybels and Warren refer to Drucker as their primary mentor. Here's a quote from Bill Hybels book "Courageous Leadership" that clearly portrays his near-idolatry of leadership:

I believe that the great tragedy of the church in our time has been its failure to recognize the importance of the spiritual gift of leadership. It appears to me that only a fraction of pastors worldwide are exercising the spiritual gift of leadership, organizing the church around it, and deploying church members through it. The results, in terms of church growth and worldwide spiritual impact, are staggering.
— Bill Hybels

 

The following two videos are based on the excellent "White Horse Inn" radio program:

The Beth Moore Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Mysticism, and Impassioned Frenzy

Beth Moore is a mainstream Evangelical superstar who speaks with an impassioned frenzy that inspires many women to become fanatical followers. She is not (officially) a pastor or theologian, but she serves both of those functions for millions and millions of people in the church. She first gained popularity in the 1990's when her theology was viewed as middle-of-the-road, Bible-based, Baptist teaching, but her teaching has become more mystical and subjective over the years. Beth Moore sometimes refers to her own direct conversations with God in order to establish and validate her teachings, and she emphasizes unity in the church over sound teaching about important doctrinal matters. Moore has partnered with and endorsed Word of Faith false teachers like Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Christine Cain, and she is featured prominently on TBN:

A Manifesto of Christian Discernment

We will maintain a healthy skepticism towards all the big-name leaders in the church. No matter how famous a Christian celebrity might be, we refuse to be gullible just because someone has become a "brand name." 

We will check everything any pastor/teacher says against God's Word, and when it comes to the most powerful, multimillionaire "Super Pastors," we will assume the worst until convinced otherwise. 

"Pastor" David Hughes

"Pastor" David Hughes

We refuse to be impressed or motivated by storytelling, drama and entertainment. God and His written Word is the only acceptable focus of a worship service-not the manipulations of men. We will not tolerate idiotic stunts in order to "bring the unsaved to church." We will not tolerate false humility and claims of direct revelation from any pastor/teacher. Any pastor/teacher that claims to hear "something new" directly from God will be immediately disqualified. No second chances.

We don't need you.  We understand that you need a constant influx of new and gullible listeners, but we refuse to participate. 

"Pastor" Steven Furtick

"Pastor" Steven Furtick

A pulpit and a microphone should only be used to direct attention to Christ, not towards a pastor who loves the attention of an audience. A large church platform does not give any pastor the right to amass power and enlarge their bank account. Pastors must tell the truth, all the time-not just when it advances their career.

"Pastor" ED YOUNG JR.

"Pastor" ED YOUNG JR.

  • Stop telling people "it's all about Jesus" when you actually talk more about yourself and your ideas. 
  • Stop bragging about how much you're doing for God. 
  • Stop bragging about how great your church is. 
  • Stop bragging about how you started out with just a few people meeting in your living room and "now we have (x) number of people coming!" 
  • Stop bragging about the guest speaker-he's a sinner, too. (We know you just want to get invited to his church so you can make a pile of money.)
  • Stop bragging about your best-selling book. 
  • Stop bragging about your celebrity friends.
"Pastor" Eddie Long (who died mysteriously)

"Pastor" Eddie Long (who died mysteriously)

Pastor, you're a sinner that deserves God's wrath, just like the rest of us. Jesus took the punishment we deserve upon Himself to set us free from sin and death; you didn't do anything. Either tell us about the true Gospel or we will go elsewhere, with zero regrets. 

We are all on equal footing; no pastor should be getting rich from his parishioners.

  • You are not a rock star, you're a servant of Jesus Christ.
  • You are not a CEO, you're a servant of Jesus Christ.
  • You are not a motivational speaker, you're a servant of Jesus Christ. 
The ridiculous and obscene mansion of "Pastor" T. D. Jakes

The ridiculous and obscene mansion of "Pastor" T. D. Jakes

Any pastor/teacher who misuses the Bible should be removed from ministry. Period. We realize that this rarely takes place, but we will work towards that goal, as much as possible.

Pastors:

  • Stop taking Bible verses out of context to support your own personal agenda. 
  • Stop spending so much time putting on a good show each Sunday that you're not studying the Bible. 
  • Stop emphasizing leadership skills as if you were running a large corporation; you're cheapening the church and starving your sheep. 
  • Stop using marketing gimmicks and promotional tricks to imitate a genuine work of God. 
  • Stop apologizing for the Bible while you pander to newcomers who aren't being told the full story of their sin and need for salvation. 
  • Stop embarrassing us by trying to be cool, relevant and modern. Just preach the Word.
  • Stop thinking that nobody will show up if you don't tickle people's ears to get them in the door. 
  • Stop relying on musicians to create a fake "Holy Spirit;" you should be more concerned about the Biblical training (and eternal fate) of these musicians rather than just using them as part of the Sunday morning "show."
  • Stop giving motivational speeches that promise success in the name of God.
  • Stop telling people to tithe in order to get God to do something. God is sovereign.
  • Stop using tithing as a false promise of guaranteed prosperity to your parishioners and as a means to fill your own wallet. If you didn't have such an expensive "church" to run, you wouldn't need so much money.
  • Stop manipulating people-start serving them.
  • Stop pointing to yourself-point to Jesus.
  • Stop referring to your own thoughts and ideas-start referring to God's Word alone.
  • Stop putting people under the burden of the Law-point people to the freedom that only the Gospel brings.

In Conclusion, 

We will seek out the pastor who faithfully serves God and proclaims repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name. God's Word alone will be our guide. It will be our joy to serve faithfully under a real, Biblical pastor, no matter what. God help us all, in the great name of Jesus.

 


Titus 1:7-11  “For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”

James 3: 1 "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." 

Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

2 Timothy 4:16  "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

Romans 16:18  “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.”

2 Corinthians 2:17  “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”
 

 

A Very Confused "Word of Faith" Man Writes Me An Email

Here's an email I just received from a well-meaning, but very confused man; he didn't write this to ask my opinion or start a conversation-he wrote this to correct me. Specifically, he wanted to correct my recent article The Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards-Let It Fall and Be Free. I decided to respond to his false "Word of Faith" doctrine in this article, because I hope it will be helpful for people who are trying to think through these issues. This man's words are in bold and my comments are in italics and in parenthesis:

Hi Steven,
While you likely meant well with your post titled the "Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards", you are actually doing more harm than good. While there are many excesses and problems in the charismatic church, there is an underlying spiritual reality that they have built these ministries upon
(this is simply a gigantic assertion; this "underlying spiritual reality" is never defined or proven from Scripture). Think about how Satan operates - he takes something good that God has created and provided and corrupts it and distorts it so that it no longer functions properly. In doing so, Satan is then able to discredit God's original working or plan or intention and seed the sin of unbelief in its place (so these charismatics are almost completely smothered in the lies of Satan, but they also have great power against Satan?). By going along with the lie that there is so much smoke in the church and no real fire, you are promoting the anti-christ agenda (No, I'm pointing people back to Christ and Him crucified for our sins, as opposed to the confusing charismatic world that is largely incapable of fending off imposters and frauds and is often guilty of ignoring Christ and Him crucified for our sins.).

It is really hard to separate the false from the true, and in fact without the Holy Spirit's guidance and the Bible as a spiritual mirror it is impossible
(Actually, it's not that hard, charismatics make it hard by constantly adding new revelation that competes with God's Word. They love their personal revelation and signs and wonders so much that simple Bible study is neglected, or the Bible gets misinterpreted in order to confirm their false teachings.). Take 'word of faith' doctrine as one example. Word of faith teaches that God created the universe by speaking it into existence, and He created us in His image and likeness. Given that Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth from the Father and made us joint heirs with Him, we also have access to that same power (That's just another ridiculous assertion. Let's use that same deeply flawed logic in a similar way: "Given that Jesus received all authority in heaven and on earth from the Father and made us joint heirs with Him, we also have the ability to raise ourselves from the dead." or: "..we also have the ability to throw ourselves down from the pinnacle of the temple so the angels can catch us."). If you study the relevant Scriptures (Chapter and verse, please..), you will find that this is unrestricted power and authority (Really? UNRESTRICTED POWER AND AUTHORITY?? Why didn't Jesus or any of the Apostles tell us about our ability to speak things into existence with our unrestricted power and authority?). Now if you stumble over the sin of unbelief by refusing to believe what the Bible says this regard, you will not be able to activate your faith so as to speak and receive from the Father (Why are you bothering to write this email? Why argue your point using thoughts and words? Why are you not using your UNLIMITED POWER AND AUTHORITY to declare whatever it is you want to come true? You should just "declare that Steven Kozar will remove his article from the internet because it is causing unbelief!" Don't you have enough faith?)

While it is true that many teachers have abused this spiritual truth (What "spiritual truth?" The spiritual truth of casting spells with our unlimited power & authority?) by pandering to baser human nature while teaching this, that abuse does not invalidate the teachings found in Scripture (except that they are not found in Scripture). However, if we fall into unbelief on account of that abuse then that biblical truth is nullified and can have no power in our lives. See Psalms 78:41 and following verses for context and Hebrews 3 for further Biblical discussion of this concept. (These verses have NOTHING to do with Word of Faith doctrine or how we must activate our faith so we can have unlimited power & authority. These verses are about becoming disobedient and having a hardened heart. Wait a minute-is that supposed to be for me?!)

Kind regards,

(I didn't include his name)

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
— 2 Thessalonians 2: 11-12

The Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards: Let It Fall and Be Free

If you've been a part of a church that adheres to some of the "New Apostolic Reformation/Signs and Wonders" teachings, there's a good chance that you have nagging doubts and concerns that keep popping up from somewhere in the back of your mind.

That's actually good.

For example, you've been told something like this: The Christian who gets baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaks in tongues and then... jumps aboard the hyper-charismatic NAR/Signs & Wonders bandwagon, will get a bunch of things that "regular" Christians don't have. You've gone to a lot of services, conferences & revival meetings so you can get "the anointing," and you've read a lot of "anointed" books and watched a lot of "anointed" TV and video presentations. And now you're supposed to have more. More blessings; more power; more prosperity; more confidence; more effectiveness; more intimacy with God... on top of that you've been taught to keep asking God for more because God is waiting to see how hungry and desperate you are before He does anything more

But admit it, you don't really have more of those things. In fact, you probably have more questions, more confusion, and more doubts.

  • You've heard these teachers prophesy about things that didn't come true at all.
  • You've been promised things that you didn't receive.
  • You've "sowed financial seeds" into ministries with zero results.
  • You've used the "power of your words" to claim things that you never got.
  • You've been given "prophetic words" that were basically just cheap fortune-telling tricks (without the crystal ball). 
  • You've tried to "speak things into existence" with zero success, but you're afraid to say anything because you've been taught that you'd be making things even worse if you speak about it.
  • You've been told that God really really really wants to make all your dreams come true. Really.
  • You were supposed to have something "activated" (faith; understanding; miracles; anointing...) but nothing actually happened. Nagging doubts are all that got "activated."
  • There was supposed to be a "shift in the atmosphere" but you're not even sure what that means.
  • You've been told about the gigantic new "move of the spirit" that's right around the corner... for a decade or two (or three) now.
  • You've been told that being a Christian is all about finding your Destiny So You Can Change The World. How's that working for you? Are you exhausted and disillusioned yet?
  • You've been wondering why the people on stage have all of these amazing stories to tell, but God hasn't done those things in your life. "What's wrong with me?" is a common thought of yours.
  • You've got a stack of books and/or DVDs that claim to give you the magic formula that leads to more. But only the person selling those things got more... of your money. 

On top of these personal difficulties and inconsistencies, you've watched men and women who were supposed to be great spiritual leaders prove themselves to be regular sinners with all of their divorces, financial scandals and confusing teachings that seem to get made up on the spot. These are the people who claim to have great power because they get "built up in the Holy Spirit" by speaking in tongues, and they know the secret key to "resist the devil" and get radical results. Bill Johnson even claims that he can change the atmosphere of a room just by walking in the door. They know exactly how to brag about their amazing walk with God while maintaining a facade of humility.

But lets be honest. These are people just telling stories on a stage; they're really professional speakers. They have little to no proof of all the amazing things they claim to have done. All the miracles happen somewhere else (and nobody takes a video). These people are very good at telling compelling stories. They are very good at sounding humble as they attract and retain more followers for themselves. "Aw shucks, it's all the Lord; but He works through me a lot more than He does through you" is the overall attitude.

  • These kind of false teachers have to keep propping each other up with endorsements and guest speaking invitations for each other.
  • They have to keep talking about the new and better thing (that they just invented), so that you'll continue showing up for the next meeting or conference.
  • They have to use and repeat spiritual sounding catch-phrases, in order to replace the sound teachings of scripture.
  • They have to have yet another "greatest conference ever" (until the next one) so that they can make money by selling more tickets and books.
  • They require an audience full of gullible and emotionally dependent people. "Just Trust Us" is the underlying theme to everything they say and do. 
  • They have to promote all this stuff with very expensive and manipulative video commercials that constantly tug at your heartstrings.
  • The one thing they can't have is this: you realizing that your ears are getting tickled, while your soul is being drained.
Pop_Haydn_the_Shell_Game_by_Billy_Baque.JPG

It's a house of cards.

 

You've been tricked. You've been sold a bill of goods. You've been bamboozled.

 

Now it's time to move on and find rest. Rest in the true freedom that comes from the unaltered Gospel: Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. You've been forgiven of your sins, not because of anything you've done, but because Jesus took your place on the cross. You can stop trying to be more desperate to show God how serious you are (yet again). You can stop trying to be more passionate than you were the last time you mustered up a bunch of passion. You can stop trying so hard to feel something to convince yourself of God's presence. You can stop wondering why you still haven't gotten your "breakthrough." You can stop trying to get a "fresh word from the Lord." You can stop trying to figure out your Destiny so you can Change The World. 

God does not require these things from you, and He never has. You've been ensnared by the teachings of men. 

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So here's the bottom line to this article: If you're confused by all the stuff you've been taught, start reading your Bible again, and stop listening to all the people who've been telling you these things. Just take a little time off and see what happens. Here's a truly radical idea: read entire books of the New Testament all of the way through (most of them are really short). If God's Word is actually God's Word, then He will you use it to speak to you. Stop trying to hear God's voice in your constantly changing imagination; the Word of God is unchanging and it's outside of you, and that's a very good thing. Clear out all the false teachings that have cluttered up your mind and discover the simple Gospel message. 

He's given you His Word, now simply read it and be free!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
— Ephesians 2: 4-10
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
— John 15: 26
Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.
— Colossians 2: 18-19
If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
— 1 Timothy 6: 3-5
And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.
— Jonathan Edwards

If you found this interesting and thought-provoking, you might also enjoy the following articles:

Assertions and Assumptions are NOT the Foundation of the Church

Cognitive Dissonance and the Silly Putty Jesus

The false teachers who have invaded many of the Pentecostal and charismatic churches do NOT want you to know about The Charismatic Day of Infamy!

Marcia Montenegro: Astrologer Overtaken by the Love of God

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Here's a fascinating interview with Marcia Montenegro, a former professional astrologer for 8 years and teacher of astrology; a former practitioner for many years of Eastern-type meditation and beliefs, and who engaged in various occult practices such as having a spirit guide and doing astral travel:

Here is Marcia's website:

Christian Answers for the New Age

Assertions and Assumptions are NOT the Foundation of the Church

Assertion: (noun) a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason:
Without providing any evidence, he made an assertion.

Assumption: (noun) something taken for granted; a supposition:
She didn't check the facts to see if it was true, she just made an assumption.
 

Have you ever received one of those ridiculous emails that claims you are the recipient of a multi-million dollar fortune from somebody in another country? But in order to claim your money you have to send a smaller amount of money to the complete stranger that sent you the email? Emails like this rarely fool people, but they work just enough that different versions of this scam re-emerge from time to time. 

  • The scam emailer is making an assertion. ("I'm telling the truth-really! Trust me!!")
  • The scammer hopes that the recipient will make an assumption. ("This must be true, I believe it and will send the money") 

The reason these scams don't work most of the time is because the assertion is obviously not true and most people do not assume that it is.

Much of the bad teaching going on in churches has both of these aspects. The pastor/teacher is making assertions and the people listening are simply assuming those assertions must be true. It looks something like this:

  • The pastor/teacher makes an assertion, often quite vigorously; he says it with confidence and emotion or he even claims it came directly from God Himself.
  • The people listening make the assumption that this pastor must be telling the truth. Why would he lie? He's a super nice guy, or he seems very sincere, or he went to some college somewhere... there's a million reasons why people assume they are being told the absolute truth.

Christians often use catch phrases that appear to be true, and the more often these phrases and ideas get repeated the more often they are assumed to be true. Popular pastors often have memes with their own sayings that are nothing more than mere assertions-usually meant to make people feel good.

For example, the following Joel Osteen memes look nice and sound good, but if you click through and read them all, you'll see that they don't say anything Biblical:

All of those sayings are making assertions ("You need to use your faith in order to accomplish the victorious destiny that God has for you;" "You're gonna do something great and it's right around the corner;" etc.) and these assertions are derived from a non-Christian, man-centered viewpoint.

  • These assertions are very appealing because they tell us what we want to hear, so...
  • it's no wonder that many people assume they must be true.

If you understand the Word of Faith movement (with some Positive Thinking along side), you'll see how these sayings stem from that belief system.

Now let's click through the ideas expressed in the following memes from Bethel church, where Bill Johnson and Kris Valloton teach:

These memes express a type of mystical, gnostic belief system; really, the only thing they share with Christianity is the use of some similar Bible words and phrases. Notice how the mystical "Yoda" meme actually seems to fit in? A portion of the New Testament was written to combat the gnostic beliefs that were an ongoing threat to the early Church. Here's a basic Christian definition of gnosticism (from the Pirate Lexicon): "Gnosticism is an early heresy which replaced the Gospel with a demand for secret knowledge. Gnostics claimed the only way to be saved was for the spirit to be liberated from the material order, which they considered evil. Elements of Gnosticism remain in modern churches (i.e. personal revelation, secret knowledge and mystical experiences)." Like the previous assertions made by Joel Osteen, these assertions put man at the center of our faith, but on top of that, they denegrade the use of thinking, reasoning and the objective, written Word of God.

This doctrine teaches that doctrine is bad. This teaching believes that teaching is bad.

This belief says that God wants to be known internally and subjectively through a personal mystical experience. In this religion, He shares His miraculous power only with those who demonstrate the most extreme intimacy, passion and devotion. This has more in common with pagan mysticism and gnosticism than Christianity, but because these assertions are rarely tested, too many people make the assumption that they must be Christian and they must be true. 

Now for a striking contrast, here are some assertions from God's Word:

Titus 2:7-8  “...in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21  “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good...”

1 John 4:1  “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

2 Timothy 1:13-14  “Hold fast (retain) the pattern of sound words (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

2 Timothy 3:12-17  “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

2 Thessalonians 2:15  "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter."

1 Corinthians 16:13  "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."

Jude 3  “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”

 

  • Notice how these Bible passages teach the importance of sound teaching? And this sound teaching does not come from inside of us; God's Word is independent from us.
  • Notice how these Bible passages teach us to examine everything carefully, and test things? Nowhere does Scripture tell us to mindlessly accept a doctrine from a self-described "prophet" or new "apostle;" instead, we are to be very skeptical of the teachings of men.

One of the fascinating moments captured in the book of Acts is the very brief mention of Paul and Silas visiting the Jewish synagogue in Berea. Acts 17: 11-12 says, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek woman of high standing as well as men."

The Bible encourages us to be like the Bereans, who "received the word with all eagerness, and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."

  • We should never just believe the assertions that somebody makes, we should examine the Scriptures to find out if it's true. Period.
  • We should never just assume something is true, instead, we should examine the Scriptures to see if something is true. Period.

God has given us His Word.

He didn't "sort of" give us His Word. He didn't give us His Word with a bunch of exceptions and exclusions, and cause us to become dependent on new "prophets" and "apostles." And He certainly didn't give anyone permission to add or subtract from his Word.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
— Ephesians 2: 19-22
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
— Matthew 7: 24-25
And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.
— Jonathan Edwards

Here's an article that explains the false assertions in the messed up church:

The Mike Bickle and IHOP Cornucopia of False Teaching, Bridal Weirdness and 24/7 Confusion

Mike Bickle's multi-million dollar "International House of Prayer" is an outgrowth of the heretical "Latter Rain" movement that began in 1948,  even though IHOP has only been an official organization since 1999. Before IHOP, there was the "Kansas City Prophets" which basically turned into IHOP. Here's a brief overview of the Latter Rain Movement and how it leads to IHOP: Latter Rain: The Spawning of Apostasy

Mike Bickle is a passionate and convincing speaker who has built a world-wide ministry based on something that seems like a great idea: 24 hour a day prayer and worship. Underneath this simple idea of praying and worshipping are a number of unorthodox, strange and unbiblical teachings. His entire ministry is built upon convincing stories of miraculous prophetic words that God supposedly gave men like Bob Jones and Paul Cain (two very influential but discredited false prophets). Some are now claiming that IHOP has become a full-fledged cult that separates young people from their families and creates zombie-like adherents. If you Google "IHOP cult" you will find many blogs written by former IHOP students and staff that are now warning others about the troubling experiences they had. And experience is what IHOP is all about. The Bible takes a back seat to the exciting and ever-changing "prophetic words" that keep IHOP followers coming back for more, but ultimately leaves them confused, hurt and, many times, angry. Of course, like any gigantic organization there are a wide variety of opinions about IHOP and there are many Christians involved that sincerely believe they are serving God. Instead of focusing on individual opinions & experiences, the links below are largely addressing the flawed teaching that comes from Mike Bickle and IHOP; this is not intended as a personal attack on the many people involved. 

The following articles are written by a number of Christians from many different denominational and theological backgrounds. These various writers don't agree on every aspect of Christian doctrine, but they do all agree that Mike Bickle and IHOP's false teachings should not be ignored. 

The Dangers of the International House of Prayer by CARM

Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer-The Latter Rain Redivivus by Critical Issues Commentary

What is the International House of Prayer (IHOP)? by Got Questions

Multiple Articles about Mike Bickle and IHOP by Berean Research

Multiple Articles about Mike Bickle and IHOP by Deception in the Church

Bickle's Bible Botching by Spirit of Error

Is Mike Bickle Biblical? by Holy Bible Prophecy

The 2nd Coming of the "Presence" (5 Part Series) by Herescope

Kansas City Prophets Exposed-Ernie Gruen's Report "Aberrant Practices"

Mike Bickle and IHOP Resource Page (Many links/articles) by Beyond Grace

Bill Johnson, IHOP, & Ancient Heresy Reborn (Interview with Bob DeWaay) by Echo Zoe Radio

The Over-Sexualization of Christ and the Heretical Bridal Paradigm by 828 Ministries

The Perfect Storm of Apostasy – An Introduction to The Kansas City Prophets and Other Latter-Day Prognosticators by Lighthouse Trails Research

The Fatal Flaws of the Renewal (Part 1) by Watch Your Life and Doctrine Closely

IHOP "Explain" Their Concept of the House of Prayer from the Bible by Churchwatch Central

The Apostolic and Prophetic Movement by Keith Gibson

Mike Bickle Quotes from the Zedekiah List

Chris Rosebrough Reviews Mike Bickle's Sermon "Blow the Trumpet in Zion" by Churchwatch Central

Forerunner Eschatology: Mike Bickle’s End-Time Teaching and the International House of Prayer by CRI

Bill Johnson & Mike Bickle's Mutual Admiration Society by Spirit of Error

Why I Believe IHOP is a Cult by Gospel Masquerade

Bill Johnson, IHOP and the "Passion" Translation by Spirit of Error

 
For in many dreams and in many words there is emptiness. Rather, fear God.
— Ecclesiastes 5: 7

“And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.” -Jonathan Edwards

 

Here are some examples of the worst kind of manifestations that sometimes occur at IHOP:

                   Watch Mike Bickle Refute Mike Bickle!

Want to watch a man sawing off the branch he's sitting on? Here's Mike Bickle's very own youTube video where he begins by saying "anything that's not in the written Word of God I reject" but then he goes on to promote and encourage things that aren't in the written word of God:

 

Here he is again trying to explain why it's okay to have lots of FALSE prophecies:

 

Here's Bickle spending 28 minutes confusing a room full of people; this is where he explains that 80% of the manifestations and prophecies are FALSE, but that's okay:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
— 1 John 4: 1
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
— 1 Corinthians 14: 33
An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?
— Jeremiah 5: 30-31
And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken.
— Ezekiel 22: 28
Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.
— Lamentations 2: 14
For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
— Matthew 24: 24

Mike Bickle probably doesn't want you to know what his friends did at The Charismatic Day of Infamy

Mike Bickle is a key player in The New Apostolic Reformation

Here is some Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know! 

For further reading and research: 

Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs

Assertions and Assumptions are NOT the Foundation of the Church

The Hyper-Charismatic House of Cards-Let It Fall and Be Free

Here's a great article to help you be more discerning and less gullible:

Defusing Demonic Dirty Bombs

CCM Song Critique: "Through Your Eyes" by Britt Nicole

Here's another CCM Song Critique by Jorge Rodriguez at Faithful Stewardship. Please, please, please keep in mind that these articles are examining the meaning and theology of the lyrics-NOT critiquing the intentions or sincerity of the songwriters/performers:

"Through Your Eyes" by Britt Nicole at Faithful Stewardship Blog

 

A note from Steve:

The problem with the lyrics in this song is similar to the problem expressed in this Todd White video critique:  Todd White Flips the Gospel Upside Down. While we all agree that people shouldn't live in a state of shame, the answer to that shame is to receive the Gospel in Word and Sacrament, not convince ourselves that we're actually much better, or more beautiful than we think we are. Jesus died on the cross to rescue us from sin and death; that's what He did in spite of our sin-not because we're so valuable or "beautiful inside." If you're exhausted from trying to feel better about yourself by "remembering your true identity" or (worse) by mustering up the ability to live without sin (for just a little while) I suggest that your theology is wrong and it has actually burdened you with another work for you to accomplish. Perhaps the Gospel is even better (and more simple) than you thought!

Here are a few more articles that might give you clarity on this topic:

Not Feeling It-The Gospel For Everyone Else

A "Personal Relationship With Christ"-Burden or Biblical?