The Gigantic Problem Beneath the Really Big Problem

Dear Fellow Christian,

Let's be brutally honest, you've got a difficult road ahead of you. You no longer live in a culture that tolerates Christian beliefs very much, you've got secularists and atheists breathing down your neck, and you're loosing your sons and daughters to the surrounding pagan culture at an alarming rate. There are a lot of things that the Evangelical church is struggling with at this point in history. In the many attempts to remain effective, relevant, and frankly, to try and stay ahead of declining membership, many churches have adopted a solution that is making things even worse-they're throwing gasoline on this raging fire.

Here at Pirate Christian Media we are constantly trying to sound a warning to the church: "You are way off course-you're in great danger!!" is the message we often proclaim. We provide evidence and convincing proofs. On "Fighting for the Faith" Chris Rosebrough plays (and then carefully critiques) hour after hour of sermons from the biggest and most popular pastors in the world. These sermons are terrible. These pastors are using the Bible as a prop-they often don't even read it at all. These pastors are clearly misusing God's Word to say whatever they want to say-to get what they want to get. The proof is abundant and it's overwhelming. If you haven't listened to Fighting for the Faith I expect you to read the previous four sentences with great skepticism. Fine. Listen to a couple dozen episodes and come back to this when you're done (and presumably queazy). 

Having enough proof of the false-teaching is not the problem; in fact, it's not even very hard to prove these "super-pastors" are misusing God's Word. Anyone who simply reads their Bible can see what's going on most of the time. So yes, there's a Really Big Problem in the church: False-teaching is the new normal in many mega-churches. Google any list of the "Biggest Mega-Pastors in America" and you'll notice how just about every single one of them has been exposed as a false-teacher on Fighting for the Faith (and some other good podcasts and blogs, too). All sorts of false-teaching is also the norm in many best-selling "Christian" books that are published by "Christian" publishers, and things are really bad on "Christian" television. False teaching is the new normal and it's everywhere, but that's not the Gigantic problem.

The Gigantic Problem is that you're being systematically convinced that sound doctrine is the problem.

You're being told, over and over again, that we need to skim even more lightly across the surface of Christianity and "just love and accept each other no matter what we believe; after all, isn't that what Jesus is all about?..." Churches, pastors and Christians that refuse to take a stand on the meaning of God's Word are not helping anyone-they're making things worse. When they go along with this confusing idea of doctrinal ambiguity, they're throwing gas on a dangerous fire.  

This strange new version of Christianity can only be passed off to a church that has rejected God's Word. And make no mistake about it: The American Evangelical Church has abandoned God's Word. It almost never comes right out and says so, but it has. But that's why it's so hard for most Christians to see what's right in front of them: everyone assumes that everything is Biblical and, therefore, everything is okay. Almost never do these false-teachers come right out and proclaim their abandonment of the Bible, because that would set off alarms and they would lose their audience. So a very thin facade covers up a very obvious and overwhelming issue: False-teaching (of many varieties) is the new normal. And the thin facade covering up this obvious false-teaching? Often, it's just the use of the adjective "Biblical." As long as a false-teacher sticks the word "Biblical" in front of their twisted teaching, most people smile and nod in agreement. 

I truly wish more people would say things like:

  • "I wonder if what this guy is saying is really Biblical?"

  • "I wonder why this pastor sounds exactly like a motivational speaker with Jesus tacked on at the very end?"

  • "I wonder if this teacher is being accurate with the text? It seems like he's inserting his own meaning into what the Bible says."

  • "I wonder if this guy is just proof-texting the Bible to make it say what he wants it to say?"

  • "I wonder if this lady really knows what she's talking about-she talks so fast I can't even keep up with half of what she's saying! I'm gonna check my Bible and test what she's saying."

  • "I wonder why this supposedly 'new and better' version of Christianity never existed for all of church history... until now?"

  • "I wonder why this guy always hears a 'fresh new word from God' at exactly the same time as his latest book comes out?"

  • "Isn't it a strange coincidence that this pastor suddenly changed his view about an important issue and adopted the exact same viewpoint of the surrounding culture?"

  • "If it's so important for me to emotionally experience the "Presence" of God, why didn't Jesus or the Apostles ever mention it? Why is the church now sounding like the New Age movement??"

Most of the time people don't want to believe bad news-especially bad news that seriously affects their whole view of the world. But when there's really bad news they really don't want to believe it. Having to admit that your favorite pastor/author/teacher is wrong is just too hard for many people to accept. But one's feelings about reality should never be a cover-up for reality itself

Something is true because it's actually true-whether you like it or not.

Something is false because it's actually false-whether you like it or not. 

And...

Something is Biblical because it's actually Biblical, whether you like it or not... no matter what some slick, over-paid and overly-confident pastor might say, even when he's in an expensive and emotionally manipulative video full of half-truths, careful editing and compelling music. 

The Bible makes it ridiculously clear that sound doctrine is vital and essential. It's not just a nice hobby for theologians and Bible nerds. Jesus made it ridiculously clear that we should watch out for false teachers-He warns us to not get mislead by them. Then the Apostles did the same thing. But a lot of people are ignoring Jesus and His Apostles (who wrote the New Testament) and following the teachings of men (and quite a few woman, too).

  • If you listen to many of these super pastors, you'd think there were all sorts of Bible verses instructing us to skip God's Word and follow whatever our pastor says-especially if he seems really sincere (and can muster up tears at the conclusion of his sermons).

  • If you evaluate the modern Evangelical church, you'd think there were lots of Bible verses telling us to "make it up as you go-as long as your heart is sincere and you seem to be getting results."

  • If you read many of the Christian best-selling books you'd think that the Bible says: "Listen for your own personal messages from God, because this Bible isn't really good enough."

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible teaches everyone to navigate this life, and all of eternity based on our feelings, thoughts and personal experiences, because "God just wants us to be happy."

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible is a success guide to help you achieve the American Dream (and maybe improve your sex life).

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible says, "listen to the most popular and convincing false teachers, because even though they twist God's Word, they have some good things to say, too."

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the God of Scripture, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny reside in the same realm; along with the ability to "speak things into existence" and "discover your Destiny" so you can "become a Champion!"

  • Here's an entire article full of things that aren't in the Bible (but you'd think they were).

Underneath these really bad ideas is the gigantic bad idea that "doctrine doesn't matter-doctrine is the problem." Doctrine is just another word for teaching. The Christian Church gets its teachings from the Bible, and the Bible demands that we adhere to sound doctrine. You cannot bypass the Bible and "just follow Jesus." Sorry, but Jesus never taught that, the Apostles never taught that, and God's Word-The Holy Bible-does not teach that. Does this sound legalistic to you? That's probably because of all the bad doctrine (bad "teaching") that you've received. God demands sound doctrine (good "theology") because He wants you to know the Truth. Remember, the Truth can set you free-but it has to be the Truth. 

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.’
— John 14: 6,7

Think about it: Doesn't it make sense that God would want us to know what's true and avoid everything that's false? And if God has given us His Word, shouldn't we listen to it-instead of the teachings of mere men? The very Good News is that God Himself has intervened into human history and given us His Word; and His Word tells us about the amazing and shockingly Good News that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, who died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

Now here's something you really need to read (I dare you to read through the entire page):

Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know!

Here's another article that might add more clarity to this topic:

Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs

Here are a couple of videos that provide convincing evidence of the fallen state of the church:

Church of Tares: PurposeDriven, Seeker Sensitive, Church Growth & New World Order

The Real Roots of the Emergent Church

Here's an interview with Dr. David Wells on Issues, Etc.: 

The Decline of American Evangelicalism

Here is a recently completed survey of the Evangelical landscape that shows how confused Christians are:

The State of Theology

This article by Steven Kozar

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! I've got millions of dollars to give away-trust me!!")
  • The scammer hopes that the recipient will make an assumption. ("This email 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're gonna do something great and it's right around the corner," etc.) and these assertions are largely 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 Vallotton 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 teaches 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 surrender. 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:

 

 

 

 

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

Kris Vallotton: "We Shouldn't Confess Our Sins to Each Other"

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Bethel "pastor" Kris Vallotton thinks it would be wrong to confess our sins to each other, because that would "create a culture where we are always looking for what is wrong with each other." Instead, Vallotton says we should look for the "goodness, the GODness, the gifts that God has given us."

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
— James 5: 16

Kris Vallotton says that sometimes his group of disciples had to invent sins because they really didn't have any sins to confess that week. While it is not necessary to spell out the specifics of our sins, we should always be willing to "confess our sins to one another." Kris Vallotton teaches a twisted form of theology that believes "we just don't know how good we are." Check out this article and video to learn more: The (False) Gospel According to Moana.

But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
— 1 John 1: 7-10

Here is one of the things that Jesus instructed us to ask for in the Lord's prayer:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
— Matthew 6: 12

Why would Jesus want us to ask for forgiveness? Doesn't Jesus want us to look for the GODness in each other??


A Biblical Guide to the Prosperity Gospel

 

These are Bible verses that "Prosperity Preachers" hope you never read.

If you follow Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Brian Houston, Jesse Duplantis, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Todd White, T. D. Jakes, Steven Furtick, and most of the other "Super Pastors" of today, you will not hear these verses hardly at all.

  (Kenneth Copeland)

(Kenneth Copeland)

If you believe that all Christians are supposed to be rich and successful, you've been lied to in the name of God. And if you think that pastors can get rich by peddling the Word of God, you've really been bamboozled!

Here's what Jesus said about earthly riches:

Matthew 6: 19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Matthew 13: 22  "The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful."

Mark 8: 34-37   "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?"

Mark 10: 17-25  "As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 6: 20-26  And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets."

Luke 12: 13-21  "Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12: 13-15  "Someone in the crowd said to him, 'Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.' Jesus replied, 'Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?' Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'"

Luke 12: 16-21  "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God."

Luke 12: 32-34  “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Luke 16: 13-14  “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things, and they were scoffing at Him.”

 

Here's what the Apostle Paul said about preachers getting rich:

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.”

1 Timothy 6: 5, 9-11  “...and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. (9) But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. (10) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things.

1 Corinthians 5: 11-13  "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you."

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.”

 

Here's what James has to say about earthly wealth:

James 1:9-10  "But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away." 

James 5:1-3  "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!"

 

Here's what the Apostle Peter said about preachers getting rich:

2 Peter 2:1-3  “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

 

  (Benny Hinn)

(Benny Hinn)


Here's what the book of Hebrews says about getting rich and earthly success:

Hebrews 11: 13-16  "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."

Hebrews 11: 32-40  "And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak,  Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets-who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated-of whom the world was not worthy-wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect."

Hebrews 13: 5  “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” 

 

Here's what the Apostle John says about getting rich:

1 John 2:15-17 "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world. And this world is fading away, along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."

 

Here's what Jesus says in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 3: 16-19 "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent."


-This article by Steven Kozar

The Fortune-Telling "Encounter Gospel" of Bethel & the NAR Explained

Tired of getting no results with old-fashioned, Bible-based Christianity? It's time to go off the map with Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and all of their New Apostolic Reformation friends! In this first episode of this series we will focus on the fortune-telling aspect of the "Encounter Gospel," so get out your tarot cards, oops... I mean get out your Destiny Cards and let's get started! Here's a quick summary of the new and better Gospel of the Kingdom:

  • People aren't really that bad, they just need to be convinced of how special they are-they need to understand their "true identity."
  • Religion is the real source of people's problems, not rebellion against God (sin).
  • God is desperately trying to get people to "accept" Him, but He's been hindered by the historic Christian Church, with its specific, Biblical teachings about Salvation, Heaven and Hell, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all other forms of unnecessary "head knowledge" found in the Bible. 
  • People would believe in God if they could just see some proof for themselves.
  • Bethel teaches how to give people the proof they need to believe that God is real, He loves them, and He wants all of their dreams to come true so they can fulfill their "Destiny."

How does Bethel teach you to provide proof of God's existence? How can you convert anyone you want? 

Give people an "encounter with God." This is the new and better "Gospel of the Kingdom!"

  • Tell them something about themselves that can only be known supernaturally, exactly like a psychic, only much better! 
  • Always tell them something good about themselves; especially about how they have a great "Destiny" and how God thinks they're amazing.
  • Do NOT call this fortune-telling, call it prophecy. Examples: "I operate in the prophetic," or "I have a prophetic gifting/anointing/mantle/office," or "Wow! I received a prophecy from Theresa and it was dead-on!" or "These aren't tarot cards-they're prophecy cards!" 
  • It helps if you have some stock phrases memorized ahead of time, like these: "I'm sensing a shift in the atmosphere," or "You've been waiting for a breakthrough, haven't you?" or "God wants you to know that you're very special and He hasn't forgotten about you."
  • If your prospect appears skeptical or nervous, assure them that you're getting direct downloads from the third heaven realm.
  • Remember, you want people to feel confirmed, accepted and convinced of their value as unregenerate and unreconciled people ("sinners"); so do NOT mention outdated ideas like the need to repent before a Holy and Sovereign God who is angry at their sin. This means that Jesus dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins can (and should) be ignored.  
  • If you don't have effective fortune-telling skills you can always bring people to a manipulative "church" service (the bigger the better!), where highly emotional music is performed, theatrical stagecraft with dramatic lighting is utilized, and unverifiable stories are repeated by skillful speakers who can sell God's "Presence" and convince audience members to make "decisions" for Jesus.
  • Our next installment in this series will explain the Hypnotic Worship "Encounter Gospel" 
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John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
— Mark 1:4
I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
— Matthew 3:11
And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
— Luke 3:3
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
— Luke 5:32
And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
— Luke 24:47
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
— Acts 2:38
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.
— Acts 3:19
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
— Romans 2:5
As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
— 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
— 2 Peter 2:9
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
— Proverbs 28:13

"Reading the Bible With Jesus in Mind"-Guest Post By Mitch Schultz

One of the most common errors in the Pop Evangelical Church is the elevation of man (with its constant emphasis on our supposed "Destiny") and the depreciation of Jesus Christ and the great work He accomplished for us on the cross. 

Here's a great little guest post from our Mitch Schultz of Fruitful Vine Ministry:

"There are two ways to read the Bible. To see what it says about us, or what it says about Jesus. Reading the Bible with you in mind leads to a self-centered, empty and meaningless pursuit. Some refer to this as narcissistic eisegesis. (Eisegesis reads yourself into the text while exegesis seeks to read what’s out of the text.) Reading the Bible with Jesus in mind is selfless and comes with unimaginable gain, Jesus Himself. Michael Horton claims that the Bible is not about us, it’s for us. The Bible is the story of Jesus, for us. God’s revelation of Himself through the pages of scripture is an invitation to know Him, and by knowing Him, discover ourselves. You discover yourself best when you seek to know Him first. The only way to truly discover yourself, sinful and in need of a savior, is to begin with Jesus. 

There are plenty of preachers, too many, who approach the Bible looking to see what it offers to make life better and easier.  Bryan Wolfmueller in his book, Has American Christianity Failed? refers to this as a moral reading of the Bible. Many take passages meant to relate a historic story, or serve as a type and shadow of Christ, and allegorize for today, thus promoting a theology for now never intended in the text. This is as futile as looking at a road map to try to understand what’s wrong with your car. We are not David, and Goliath is not our financial giant, easily knocked down by one stone called faith, or a second stone called prayer, a third stone call trust, a fourth named hope or that fifth called patience. (Yes, I actually heard it preached like that once.) The Bible was not written to help you lead a better, healthier more fulfilling life. It was written to know God, His commands, and by consequence to understand our problem, that we are hopelessly sinful and in need of a Savior. And in scripture God has revealed to us that Savior. 

A right view of self leads to an encounter with Jesus on every page of scripture. 

Several years ago I decided to read the Old Testament looking for Jesus in every story. The scriptures came alive. I’m not just permitted to do this, but instructed to. You remember Jesus walked with two men who seemed perplexed by all the events surrounding his resurrection. When their eyes were finally opened, Jesus took the rest of the journey, explaining to them how all scriptures prepared for and pointed to him. “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:27) Think about it. Every story and every event in the Old Testament either was about Jesus, or pointed to him. Consider, too, these words from John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” (Note the contrast between using scripture for your own end – eternal life – instead of knowing him –bear witness about me.) 

If the Bible is about Jesus, we should read it with him in mind, not us. If you read scripture as a way to live better, you’ll end up in a dark place, for the Bible paints a pretty dismal picture of man. If you really want to look for yourself in scripture, here’s what you find; “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18). Clearly, to read the Bible looking for encouragement and personal affirmation, outside of Christ the Savior, is a pretty disappointing exercise. 

It’s tempting, for example, and on the surface, logical, to go to passages where barren women received the provisions of a miracle birth and take that to mean God will meet you in all your equally barren situations. However, God put those stories in the Old Testament to point us to the most amazing, unbelievable miracle of all history; the impossible birth of Jesus to a virgin. Those stories, where barren women get pregnant, were meant to point us to the birth of Jesus, not to promise us that each time life gives us a short end of the stick, he will deliver. (Pun intended).

Recently, a famous female speaker used the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6 and took every point of the narrative to show what God will do if we give him the little we have, like the boy gave Jesus all he had. This story, though, has nothing to do with that. The moment the attention shifted away from Jesus to the boy, his two fish and five loaves, the speaker stepped onto a narcissistic, self-indulging path, and the story bogged down completely in a muddy and sluggish trap where we, not Jesus, become what the story is about. It’s a pitiful place to walk. It completely misses the whole point of the story, which Jesus quite clearly explains as the narrative expands. 

A thorough and complete reading of this story tells us what this miracle was meant to teach, and it’s a story for us, not about us. Later in John 6:35 he explains that he is the bread of life.  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” The whole miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 was to teach that truth. Sandwiched in this story is another, often misunderstood and misapplied wonder work of Jesus. When the disciples left Jesus following the feeding, and were alone in a boat, a fierce and unexpected storm swept over them. In their panic they saw what they thought was a ghost, but it was in fact Jesus. That part of the story is not a place for us to turn when financial or health or relationship storms rock our world. This is a story about Jesus and his power over nature and his demand that we acknowledge him to be God, like Peter did. But it was also when the storm calmed that Jesus referred to the miracle of the feeding, pointing to their lack of faith in both instances. …for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”  And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded,  for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:50-53) So the miracle of the feeding did two things: showed them their hardness of heart, their sin, and revealed himself to them as the bread of life, the one who came to save them by offering eternal life.  This grand story was written to show his disciples that he is God, they are not – they are sinners – and that he came to offer eternal life. And his provision to the 5,000, and his great display of power over sin showed that he had the authority to offer that promise of eternal life. 

The point of both stories, the feeding and the storm, was to prove that Jesus is the bread of life who promises eternal life to those who take him in (eat his bread) and that he has the power over death (calming the storm.) 

The beauty of this approach is once we truly meet Jesus in this way, by making the Bible about him, not us, we get to bring ourselves, our problems and all life’s challenges to someone who is bigger than us, sovereign, just, good and fully in control. There is no guarantee he will resolve our current problem, but I didn’t go looking for that. I came looking for him and meeting him in the scriptures is enough. 

When my son Travis was dying of cancer I rushed often to the story of Jairus who in Mark 5 pleaded for Jesus to heal his daughter. Now, I did not run to Jairus with my need, I ran with Jairus to Jesus. Honestly, I never expected Jesus to heal Travis like he healed Jarius’s daughter. I simply went to this passage to meet again the same Jesus who looks with compassion on his children and whom I trust has the right authority, the appropriate power and who can sovereignly give me, what he wants and bring me to that place where whatever the outcome, I will love him all the more. And I do.

There is great value in reading the Bible with Jesus in mind. You might not get what you want for this life, but it’s the way to truly meet him." -Mitch Shultz 

Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.
 -A.B. Simpson (1843-1919; founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance)  

(Mitch wrote "Part One" to this article last year)

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. (Read: A Biblical Guide to the Prosperity Gospel)

  • 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.”
 

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

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. 

bible-quotes-about-flowers-quotesgram.jpeg

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!

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

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! I've got millions of dollars to give away-trust me!!")
  • The scammer hopes that the recipient will make an assumption. ("This email 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're gonna do something great and it's right around the corner," etc.) and these assertions are largely 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 Vallotton 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 teaches 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 surrender. 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:

There's Power in Our Words? Name It and Claim It??

Related to the Code Orange "revival," here are two great videos from When We Understand The Text:

Be sure to check out the latest Fighting for the Faith programs that give detailed explanations of the blatant false teaching and Bible twisting that took place at the recent Code Orange Revival.

How to Ignore "Discernment Bloggers" and Stay Comfortably Clueless

Want to stay comfortable in your (theologically shallow & Biblically illiterate) Christian beliefs? Even if those beliefs are not really based on God's Word?? Of course you do! Here's a guide that will keep you in the dark, and will help you to avoid the bothersome content of whichever discernment bloggers are currently bugging you:

 

  1. Start with this assumption: There aren't any false teachers. With this handy starting point everything else falls comfortably into place. Just tell yourself that people who proclaim a different Gospel are just... different. It's like the difference between hotdogs and hamburgers. If there are no false teachers, then it logically follows that all discernment bloggers are wrong. Now you won't have to consider what they say!
  2. Go with the group. If the majority agrees with you, you must be right. Remember, Jesus wants you to follow the most popular teachers, even when they twist the Bible. Discernment bloggers are not popular, so they must be wrong. Now you won't have to consider what they say!
  3. Lump them all together. It's true: some discernment bloggers are too extreme and exaggerate too much, or they go off on some crazy bunny trails; therefore you can ignore everything that every discernment blogger says (see points 1 & 2).
  4. They are mean and angry, therefore, they are wrong. If you think they're mean and angry... well, that means they are mean and angry. Now you won't have to consider what they say! 
  5. Criticize their criticism. Discernment bloggers are not speaking in love when they call out false teachings and teachers, therefore you can ignore the actual content of what they say. Once you understand this you can freely criticize them, because it's not unloving when you and your group does it.
  6. Say something like this: "The Holy Spirit leads me-I don't need all this theological stuff." Remember, the Holy Spirit leads us, but He does it by using God's Word. So if you want to remain clueless, just focus on the thoughts that pop into your head, and avoid the Bible (and it's theology) at all costs. If you do decide to read your Bible, make sure to avoid the actual meaning of passages, which can be determined by simply understanding the context. Instead, use your Bible like a divining rod or a crystal ball, that way the Bible will always agree with you and your ideas!
  7. Give them a label. This is a great thought-stopper. Label all discernment bloggers with a generic and meaningless label so you can comfortably ignore them. Examples:

"He's into those Christian conspiracy theories now, it's really sad." (Hint: never define "Christian conspiracy theory;" this way people who make convincing theological arguments using scripture can be grouped together with Bigfoot hunters and UFO hobbyists.) 

 "She used to be a regular Christian, but now she's into all that weird stuff." (Hint: You get to define what's weird, in order to pacify your pre-existing beliefs)

"He's one of those judgmental, Bible-thumping Christians now. He's a religious Pharisee; he's always quoting Bible verses." (Hint: never define "judgmental" or "Bible-thumping" or "religious Pharisee."  Also, you get to determine the exact number of Bible verses that can be properly quoted before extremism sets in; also, when in doubt just quote "Judge not!")

"Ever since she's been reading those discernment articles she's gotten too negative. God's in control, right? Why worry so much?!" (Hint: if you ever realized how brain-dead the church has become, you'd be "negative" for a while, too. So keep ignoring all the proof that surrounds you, and stay away from your Bible which repeatedly warns you to watch out for false doctrine!)

 


Okay, in all seriousness, there is a lot to say on this important topic, and yes there are a lot of wacky "discernment bloggers" out there. Here's a pretty in-depth conversation between Chris Rosebrough, @Aspree and Steve Kozar: "Discerning Discernment" on Fighting for the Faith

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
— Galatians 1: 6-9
Currently, anyone who insists that pure doctrine is a very important matter is immediately suspected of not having the right Christian spirit. The very term ‘pure doctrine’ is considered taboo and is outlawed. If anyone holds fast to pure teaching and attempts to fight against any false doctrine, he is put down as a heartless and unloving fanatic. The era in which we live is what the apostle refers to when he says of false teachers that they are ‘always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.’ The spirit of our time is the same as in the era of Pilate, to whom the Lord had testified that He was the King of Truth in a kingdom of truth and who sneered, ‘What is truth?’

To hate pure doctrine is to hate the truth, for pure doctrine is nothing but the pure Word of God-plain and simple. When people hate pure doctrine, that is proof that we are living in a terribly miserable era.
— C. F. W. Walther "Law & Gospel-How to Read and Apply the Bible" Written in 1878

Cognitive Dissonance and the Silly Putty Jesus

Jesus Christ (the actual God/Man of the Bible) is not a mythical being that we've created; He is the second person of the Holy Trinity-the Godhead. However, the Jesus of Pop Evangelicalism is, too often, a cartoon character that adapts and adjusts to us, in order to meet our felt needs. 

He's like Silly Putty. We can bend him into any shape we want-we can even even press him against any image and he'll take on that image like a cheap copier. He's very accommodating of our every whim and fantasy, and he's a very useful tool of the Evangelical Industrial Complex. There's only one small problem: he isn't real. At all.

     Pop Evangelicalism should be busy eliminating the Silly Putty Jesus; after all, aren't Evangelicals supposed to be the ones following the Bible very closely? Are Evangelicals examining the evidence to see if something is really Biblical anymore? Does Jesus really exist to "make our dreams come true?" Did Jesus die on the cross to "give us a sense of purpose and community" or to help us promote "leadership principles?" Did the Sovereign Maker of the Universe come and take on flesh and die on the cross so that we could become:

    "Empowered Dreamers of Destiny?" or

             "Prophets of Global Awakening?" or

                        "Radical Worshipers of the Heavenly Realm?" or,

                                 (just insert whatever non-Biblical, yet spiritual sounding, phrase pops into your head...)

No, Jesus came to rescue us from sin and death.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life.
— 1 Timothy 1: 15-16
But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
— 2 Timothy 1: 10
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
— 1 John 4: 10
God has placed a special dream in your heart, so that you can fulfill your great destiny. God is waiting for YOU to go out there and really make a difference!
— Says NO passage in the Bible

     In psychology, the term "cognitive dissonance" describes the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Dr. Leon Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance (which was developed in the late 1950's) focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically uncomfortable and they are motivated to reduce this dissonance, in any number of ways. It's painful to hold two opposing beliefs at the same time. One can either change one's beliefs in order to make them consistent or one can make some other superficial adjustment.

     When confronted with the false "Silly Putty Jesus" Evangelical Christians tend to react in two different ways: they either recommit to their false beliefs with increased fervor (often by invalidating the messenger who delivers the uncomfortable truth; i.e. "that blogger is just a mean jerk!"), or they give up on Christianity altogether (which they've mistakenly believed was owned and operated by the Silly Putty Jesus, and thus, all their dreams have not come true).

     It's very interesting to note that Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance was formulated during research for the 1956 book "When Prophecy Fails." Festinger and his collaborators, Henry Riecken and Stanley Schachter, examined conditions under which disconfirmation of beliefs leads to increased conviction in such beliefs. The group studied a small apocalyptic cult led by Dorothy Martin (under the pseudonym Marion Keech in the book), a suburban housewife. Martin claimed to have received messages from "the Guardians," a group of superior beings from another planet. The messages purportedly said that a flood would destroy the world on December 21st.

     As a side note, Dorothy Martin received her messages by utilizing an "automatic writing" (demonic) technique just like Sarah Young, who wrote the "Jesus Calling" book that Evangelicals have made a runaway best-seller.

     Anyway, the three psychologists and several other assistants infiltrated Dorothy Martin's group incognito, where they observed the group firsthand for months before and after the predicted apocalypse. Many of the group members quit their jobs and sold their possessions in preparation for the predicted "End of the World." When the prophesied doomsday came and went, Martin claimed that the world was spared because of the "force of good and light" that the group members had spread throughout the world. Rather than abandoning their discredited beliefs, group members adhered to them even more strongly and began proselytizing with increased fervor.

     So, these people had experienced tremendous cognitive dissonance when their leader was proven utterly wrong; so they increased activity and fervor in order to compensate for their internal discomfort. Hmmm....

     Doesn't this sound like a lot of church services where the goal is to prop-up shallow beliefs and bad theology with emotionalism and spiritual cheer-leading? And in the charismatic Evangelical church, there have been so many false prophets saying so many false things that it's impossible to even keep track of it all. How many of the "New Apostles" have said false things that don't line up with scripture? All of them have. How many of the "New Apostles" have made false prophecies that haven't come true? All of them have. Yet they keep "preaching" and getting richer, as they ride the conference circuit. Sound Biblical teaching has been replaced with: "Speaking my dream into existence" and "declaring and decreeing my destiny" and "My time of special anointing is about to be birthed..." These ideas came from the world of sorcery and New Thought, but they've been accommodated by charismatic churches for decades, and now many "mainline" Evangelical churches have accepted and adopted these charismatic practices and beliefs without pause. Why? Because it's "what people want" and it "brings in the numbers."

     More recently, another psychological study found that playing pleasant music (Mozart, in the study) can decrease cognitive dissonance. In other words, if one is holding two or more conflicting beliefs simultaneously, the resulting tension can be decreased by listening to soft, or pleasant music. Of course, the best thing to do would be to eliminate whatever false belief is causing all the trouble! And yet, perhaps, this helps explain why a soft rock "praise band" is a vital part of any Evangelical service nowadays. While the parishioner sits and listens to a sermon that conflicts with Biblical Christianity (usually in a subtle, sneaky way), he is eventually lulled into compliance by an emotional chord progression played repeatedly in the background.

     As an accomplished musician I know about this from playing for many years on the worship team. We musicians would often be out in the lobby talking and eating donuts during the sermon, but we had to watch for the pastor's signal to come up and play while he delivered his emotional ending plea. Charismatic churches compound this charade by calling any emotional response "The Holy Spirit," or by saying "you could really feel the Holy Spirit fall down during the service this morning!" Do we really believe the Holy Spirit was somewhere (up in the rafters maybe?) and by playing a certain type of music that we can "call Him down" as if we had some kind of mystical God whistle? In truth, emotional music is, well, emotional. That's why can you feel very similar feelings at any concert when certain similar music is being played. In the modern church, this is plain old emotional manipulation, and it's been a hallmark of American Evangelicalism ever since the days of Charles Finney.

Here are some thoughts on how to fend off cognitive dissonance for good:

1. Diligently eliminate all false teachings from you life.

 This is what God's Word tells us to do. This will probably take some time and effort-do it anyway. This will also probably make you unpopular with some people-do it anyway. As a start, check out all of this Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know! Even though Jesus and the Apostles tell us repeatedly to "watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing" we've been told by Evangelical "experts" to do the opposite; we've been told to always (and only) be accepting, non-judgmental and positive. As for me, I've been more at peace than ever before by ignoring all the "experts." If Jesus is the head of the church, shouldn't Jesus be the head of the church? Why are we allowing "vision-casting" pastors to promote the Silly Putty Jesus? Probably because he tells us whatever we want to hear. But it's all deception, and true freedom comes from the true Gospel.

2. Question everything.

 Seriously. Question your own presumptions before you even start asking questions. For example: instead of saying, "I want to go to a church where the pastor can really keep my attention with exciting and humorous sermons" or "I want to go to a church that I'm comfortable with" or "I want to go to a church that's relevant to my needs" you should be saying "I want to go to a church that carefully follows God's Word-no matter what!" The pastor who keeps your attention with his exciting and humorous sermons is quite possibly preventing you from hearing about Christ and Him crucified for your sins.  Is hearing a little pep talk about improving your life skills a good enough reason to attend church? Do you really expect so little from the God of the Universe? Question everything, but make the Bible your final authority. Which leads to the last point...

3. Stop following the teachings of men. 

Do you want to follow Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior? Great! That means taking up your cross and denying yourself, it doesn't mean "having your best life now." Evangelicals believe that the Bible is God's Word, yet they read it very infrequently, and then they often misunderstand it when they do. It's not a "manual for life" or a set of instructions for "achieving you dreams." It is God revealing Himself through the redeeming Savior, Jesus Christ. He came to earth by taking on human flesh through a virgin birth; He lived an amazing life full of astounding miracles; He had authority and wisdom far beyond any human; He died on the cross where He took our sins upon Himself, and then He was raised from the dead. And then He gave us His Word: His unchanging and objective Word. We need not live in doubt anymore.

That's enough.

              Actually, that's much, much more than enough!

Why would we add anything to this? What pathetic "new" teaching of man could possibly be better than the true Gospel? When we focus on the shocking, stunning and truly wonderful miracle of Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sins and the complete, final and unconditional forgiveness we've been granted, we won't have any need for the shallow teachings of man to tickle our ears.

Leave the Silly Putty Jesus behind, and find true freedom, forgiveness and hope in the real Jesus!

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
— Romans 5: 1

 

Here's an article about cognitive dissonance that might be of interest:

Creating Straw Men from Cognitive Dissonance

Here's another article (with links to more articles) that should be useful:

Confirmation Bias: Why You are Protecting Your False Beliefs

 

-This article by Steven Kozar

The Gigantic Problem Beneath the Really Big Problem

Dear Fellow Christian,

Let's be brutally honest, you've got a difficult road ahead of you. You no longer live in a culture that tolerates Christian beliefs very much, you've got secularists and atheists breathing down your neck, and you're loosing your sons and daughters to the surrounding pagan culture at an alarming rate. There are a lot of things that the Evangelical church is struggling with at this point in history. In the many attempts to remain effective, relevant, and frankly, to try and stay ahead of declining membership, many churches have adopted a solution that is making things even worse-they're throwing gasoline on this raging fire.

Here at Pirate Christian Media we are constantly trying to sound a warning to the church: "You are way off course-you're in great danger!!" is the message we often proclaim. We provide evidence and convincing proofs. On "Fighting for the Faith" Chris Rosebrough plays (and then carefully critiques) hour after hour of sermons from the biggest and most popular pastors in the world. These sermons are terrible. These pastors are using the Bible as a prop-they often don't even read it at all. These pastors are clearly misusing God's Word to say whatever they want to say-to get what they want to get. The proof is abundant and it's overwhelming. If you haven't listened to Fighting for the Faith I expect you to read the previous four sentences with great skepticism. Fine. Listen to a couple dozen episodes and come back to this when you're done (and presumably queazy). 

Having enough proof of the false-teaching is not the problem; in fact, it's not even very hard to prove these "super-pastors" are misusing God's Word. Anyone who simply reads their Bible can see what's going on most of the time. So yes, there's a Really Big Problem in the church: False-teaching is the new normal in many mega-churches. Google any list of the "Biggest Mega-Pastors in America" and you'll notice how just about every single one of them has been exposed as a false-teacher on Fighting for the Faith (and some other good podcasts and blogs, too). All sorts of false-teaching is also the norm in many best-selling "Christian" books that are published by "Christian" publishers, and things are really bad on "Christian" television. False teaching is the new normal and it's everywhere, but that's not the Gigantic problem.

The Gigantic Problem is that you're being systematically convinced that sound doctrine is the problem.

You're being told, over and over again, that we need to skim even more lightly across the surface of Christianity and "just love and accept each other no matter what we believe; after all, isn't that what Jesus is all about?..." Churches, pastors and Christians that refuse to take a stand on the meaning of God's Word are not helping anyone-they're making things worse. When they go along with this confusing idea of doctrinal ambiguity, they're throwing gas on a dangerous fire.  

This strange new version of Christianity can only be passed off to a church that has rejected God's Word. And make no mistake about it: The American Evangelical Church has abandoned God's Word. It almost never comes right out and says so, but it has. But that's why it's so hard for most Christians to see what's right in front of them: everyone assumes that everything is Biblical and, therefore, everything is okay. Almost never do these false-teachers come right out and proclaim their abandonment of the Bible, because that would set off alarms and they would lose their audience. So a very thin facade covers up a very obvious and overwhelming issue: False-teaching (of many varieties) is the new normal. And the thin facade covering up this obvious false-teaching? Often, it's just the use of the adjective "Biblical." As long as a false-teacher sticks the word "Biblical" in front of their twisted teaching, most people smile and nod in agreement. 

I truly wish more people would say things like:

  • "I wonder if what this guy is saying is really Biblical?"

  • "I wonder why this pastor sounds exactly like a motivational speaker with Jesus tacked on at the very end?"

  • "I wonder if this teacher is being accurate with the text? It seems like he's inserting his own meaning into what the Bible says."

  • "I wonder if this guy is just proof-texting the Bible to make it say what he wants it to say?"

  • "I wonder if this lady really knows what she's talking about-she talks so fast I can't even keep up with half of what she's saying! I'm gonna check my Bible and test what she's saying."

  • "I wonder why this supposedly 'new and better' version of Christianity never existed for all of church history... until now?"

  • "I wonder why this guy always hears a 'fresh new word from God' at exactly the same time as his latest book comes out?"

  • "Isn't it a strange coincidence that this pastor suddenly changed his view about an important issue and adopted the exact same viewpoint of the surrounding culture?"

  • "If it's so important for me to emotionally experience the "Presence" of God, why didn't Jesus or the Apostles ever mention it? Why is the church now sounding like the New Age movement??"

Most of the time people don't want to believe bad news-especially bad news that seriously affects their whole view of the world. But when there's really bad news they really don't want to believe it. Having to admit that your favorite pastor/author/teacher is wrong is just too hard for many people to accept. But one's feelings about reality should never be a cover-up for reality itself

Something is true because it's actually true-whether you like it or not.

Something is false because it's actually false-whether you like it or not. 

And...

Something is Biblical because it's actually Biblical, whether you like it or not... no matter what some slick, over-paid and overly-confident pastor might say, even when he's in an expensive and emotionally manipulative video full of half-truths, careful editing and compelling music. 

The Bible makes it ridiculously clear that sound doctrine is vital and essential. It's not just a nice hobby for theologians and Bible nerds. Jesus made it ridiculously clear that we should watch out for false teachers-He warns us to not get mislead by them. Then the Apostles did the same thing. But a lot of people are ignoring Jesus and His Apostles (who wrote the New Testament) and following the teachings of men (and quite a few woman, too).

  • If you listen to many of these super pastors, you'd think there were all sorts of Bible verses instructing us to skip God's Word and follow whatever our pastor says-especially if he seems really sincere (and can muster up tears at the conclusion of his sermons).

  • If you evaluate the modern Evangelical church, you'd think there were lots of Bible verses telling us to "make it up as you go-as long as your heart is sincere and you seem to be getting results."

  • If you read many of the Christian best-selling books you'd think that the Bible says: "Listen for your own personal messages from God, because this Bible isn't really good enough."

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible teaches everyone to navigate this life, and all of eternity based on our feelings, thoughts and personal experiences, because "God just wants us to be happy."

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible is a success guide to help you achieve the American Dream (and maybe improve your sex life).

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible says, "listen to the most popular and convincing false teachers, because even though they twist God's Word, they have some good things to say, too."

  • If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the God of Scripture, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny reside in the same realm; along with the ability to "speak things into existence" and "discover your Destiny" so you can "become a Champion!"

  • Here's an entire article full of things that aren't in the Bible (but you'd think they were).

Underneath these really bad ideas is the gigantic bad idea that "doctrine doesn't matter-doctrine is the problem." Doctrine is just another word for teaching. The Christian Church gets its teachings from the Bible, and the Bible demands that we adhere to sound doctrine. You cannot bypass the Bible and "just follow Jesus." Sorry, but Jesus never taught that, the Apostles never taught that, and God's Word-The Holy Bible-does not teach that. Does this sound legalistic to you? That's probably because of all the bad doctrine (bad "teaching") that you've received. God demands sound doctrine (good "theology") because He wants you to know the Truth. Remember, the Truth can set you free-but it has to be the Truth. 

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.’
— John 14: 6,7

Think about it: Doesn't it make sense that God would want us to know what's true and avoid everything that's false? And if God has given us His Word, shouldn't we listen to it-instead of the teachings of mere men? The very Good News is that God Himself has intervened into human history and given us His Word; and His Word tells us about the amazing and shockingly Good News that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, who died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

Now here's something you really need to read (I dare you to read through the entire page):

Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know!

Here's another article that might add more clarity to this topic:

Confirmation Bias: Why You Are Protecting Your False Beliefs

Here are a couple of videos that provide convincing evidence of the fallen state of the church:

Church of Tares: PurposeDriven, Seeker Sensitive, Church Growth & New World Order

The Real Roots of the Emergent Church

Here's an interview with Dr. David Wells on Issues, Etc.: 

The Decline of American Evangelicalism

Here is a recently completed survey of the Evangelical landscape that shows how confused Christians are:

The State of Theology

Congratulations! You've Abandoned Christianity in One Sentence!

This was posted on Facebook by someone who, as far as I know, used to profess (or still does) to being a Christian. I'm guessing that this is a quote they found from someone else:

This one sentence has it all: blasphemy, the elevation of personal choice over the sovereignty of God, the complete rejection of our need for salvation... it's quite stunning. Let's look at this sentence a little deeper:

First of all, there is the "issue of God" phrase; isn't this is an arrogant and blasphemous thing to say? Who can reduce the Creator of the Universe down to an "issue?" It's like saying:

"Listen everyone, I know that billions of people have written, speculated and philosophized about God for all of human history, and I know that God has revealed Himself in His Holy Word, but we can just skip all of that: I'm gonna summarize God for you now, since my knowledge is above all people throughout history and even above God Himself..."

It's not just blasphemy, it's also a strangely casual kind of blasphemy; like God isn't even real anyway, so "what's the big deal?"

Now about this phrase "what could happen if we die," First off, the words "could" and "if" really need to be replaced by the words "will" and "when." Or wait, maybe this person has the ability to live forever; come to think of it, they did have the "issue of God" all figured out...

I'm guessing that because this person thinks the idea of God punishing us sinful humans is extremely unpopular and old-fashioned, it can be disregarded like a bad sitcom from the 90's. Here's the clever logic involved: "We (the modern and smart people) don't like God's punishment, (His wrath, His judgement, hell, etc.) therefore, it doesn't exist." 

See how clever it is?

Let's try using this clever idea in a different form: "I don't like having to pay Federal Income Tax, therefore, it doesn't exist." (Please consult your personal tax consultant before attempting this yourself).

Lastly, since these new, smarter people don't have to worry about dying and they've eliminated any resulting eternal consequences of sin using their sheer mind-power, they are free to move on to the really important matter: "what could happen if we actually choose to live." Wow! I didn't even know we could choose to live; last time I checked we had to be born from our parents. These people really are smarter and better!!

Seriously, after completely rejecting the God who has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture, this is all they've got?? This is, at best, the title of an out-of-print self-help book. This isn't a brilliant new philosophy of life that answers all the questions plaguing mankind; this is more like re-hashed and vapid liberal Protestantism from the 1920's (see the link below for proof).

But much, much worse, this way of thinking says to Jesus Christ, the Son of God who took upon Himself the sins of the world: "No thank you; your death was in vain. We don't need forgiveness or salvation; we're just going to choose to actually live."

This is nothing less than a complete rejection of the shocking and unfathomable free gift of salvation bought on the cross. 

Please, if you think your good choices are what life is all about, I urge you to start reading the Bible again and come out of the demonic fog that surrounds you and repent, before it's too late.

“Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. 

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 

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.”

— Galatians 1:3-8


This "new and better" Christianity is not new and it's not better; it's been around for a long time. For instance, here's an amazing short summary of J. Gresham Mechen's 1923 book "Christianity and Liberalism."