Monday, November 12, 2012
Danger of Signs and Wonders By S.J. Black “The power of the Lord came down and split the alter while the guy was preaching” I was attending a benefit dinner some time ago and had a fellow that happen to be sitting next to me make this statement. His statement was in reference to something that happened during a service while a particular teacher he seemed to really love was preaching. But there was a serious problem with this. The preacher this man was referring to was close kin to the TBN crowd. Basically, this preacher was part of the third wave, dominionist and self proclaimed “modern apostles” movement. This preacher also was heavily into the “word of faith” or “name it claim it” gospel Many today are out seeking after signs and wonders. Sad really that so many today are so into seeking after signs and wonders that they forget to compare the message given to what is in their Bible. The attitude in some crowds these days is that if there is any type of supernatural stuff going on then it must be the Lord. But is that always the case? I don’t honestly believe too much can really shock me any more. I have heard many stories of false signs and wonders leading many astray that would include everything from gold dust magically appearing at meetings where false prophets were teaching to people being healed because someone had a ‘vision from the Lord’ and giving instruction to perform occultist sounding rituals to deliver healing. Satan is not God by any stretch of the imagination. However, Satan is much more powerful then you or I could ever dream of being. Satan was from the highest order of angels prior to his fall and no doubt about it, while still not God he is much more powerful than you or I. The book of Job is a good example of what Satan is capable of if the Lord were to allow a trial or test in your life. Satan is very capable of creating false signs and “miracles.” You need to look no further than the book of Exodus chapter 7. For a little background here, God commanded Moses and Aaron to go before Pharaoh with a simple message. The message was “let my people go”. The Lord had also given Moses and Aaron several signs or miracles they could perform in front of Pharaoh to get their point across. But it is important to note that while Pharaoh’s magicians could not copy all of Moses and Aaron’s miracles they could certainly copy some of them. For example, when Aaron turned his staff into a serpent the magicians had no problem using witchcraft and the power of Satan to copy the miracle. “But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.” (Exodus 7:11) Later, Aaron turned all the water in Egypt to blood and again the magicians of Egypt through the power of Satan could copy the miracle. “Then the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments; and Pharaoh’s heart grew hard, and he did not heed them, as the LORD had said.” (Exodus 7:22) Begs the question about how many gullible people out there today would have seen the false signs of the magicians of Egypt and right away assumed they were using the power of the Lord to perform miracles? People seem to be drawn to the miraculous and let their emotions lead them astray. Many today assume that if it is supernatural it must be the Lord. But do they ever in their excitement stop to consider the message given and how it compares with Scripture? I think the answer in many cases today is probably not. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Here is a question I often like to ask people caught up in the movements that tend to chase after signs and wonders. If the fruit of the Spirit as given in Galatians above includes self control then what on earth do things such as laughing uncontrollably, barking like a dog, roaring like a lion or being on the floor in an epileptic seizure have to do with the Holy Spirit? These things are never to my knowledge associated with God or the Holy Spirit in the Bible. However, epileptic seizure is mentioned in the Bible. But not as a sign of the Holy Spirit, it is mentioned as a sign of demonic possession before Jesus casts an unclean spirit out of a boy: “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” (Matthew 17:15-16) I recently read an article that sums up nicely the way that I personally view some of these chasing after false signs and wonders games that people play: “I stood watching these same kinds of manifestations in Brownsville meetings and I cried also. Not because it was the Holy Spirit but because little children were being brainwashed and some even demonized by false prophets and heretics by the laying on of hands. The Brownsville adherents were pointing towards people laying on the ground writhing, screaming, kicking, laughing uncontrollably, making animal noises, and even vomiting and saying "The Holy Spirit is all over that person". But my Bible is clear about these manifestations as well as those Bevere describes as having experienced himself ... these are not the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and of self-control, but people exhibiting a lack of the fruit of the Spirit of self-control and also of clear demonization. Because people like Bevere, former associate pastor at Benny Hinn's church in Orlando, FL, have allowed the devil free reign in their churches because of their disobedience in allowing and promoting false prophecy and occult practices, they are now driven by another spirit, the spirit of the power of the air, the "Zeitgeist". The continued "fruit" of that spirit is lies, deceit, false prophecies, continued dabbling in occult practices like slain in the spirit, and teaching things they ought not to teach.” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/beverequotes.html My concerns with the signs and wonders type movement are several but I will highlight only two. First there is the concern about whether people in these movements are truly saved by faith in Jesus. Are they practicing a “Christian sounding” religion that in truth is New Age in nature with subtle spin applied to it to make it sound “Christian”? Lets face it, if I wanted to do so I could take the Scriptures out of context and convince some of just about anything I wanted. Consider that the “word of faith” movement teaches that Jesus Christ was born a man and only received the Holy Spirit when He was baptized by John. This belief undermines a very core or essential doctrine that Jesus was fully man but also fully God and a part of the Trinity. This belief that Jesus was anything other than the literal word of God made flesh or the very Son of God who existed before creation stands in blatant contradiction to John chapter one among many other verses of Scripture. If you believe that you are a “little god” are you really putting your faith in Jesus. The New Age movement teaches that we are all “little gods” and that Jesus was simply an “ascended master”. Consider a few quotes that I found without much effort from some of the word of faith teachers while digging around on the internet at http://www.biblebb.com/files/WRDFAITH.HTM "You don't have a god in you, you are one." "Are you ready for some real revelation knowledge....you are god" "Pray to yourself, because I'm in your self and you're in Myself. We are one Spirit, saith the Lord." Does the position that we are "god" or "equal with Jesus" really line up with what Scripture says? Not in the Bible, I read! The heresy of saying ‘you are equal with God’ while actively practicing fellowship with demons brings to my mind a few verses: “Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” (1 Corinthians 10:20-21) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) I know we are saved by Grace and not by works but there is one sin that cannot be forgiven and that is dying without accepting the Gospel of Jesus being the way the truth and the life and surrendering your life to Jesus. If the only “gospel” someone has ever accepted is that they are a “little god” and equal with Jesus then I do fear that one day they will also hear Jesus say to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ It is clear in the verses from Matthew chapter seven that the one’s Jesus is addressing here are some that believed they were in Christ and using false signs and wonders to give them a false sense of security. It would appear that to them it validated they were on the right track to the point that they still won’t “get it” when they are standing in front of Jesus Himself to be judged. Another concern though is that I believe very soon the true Church will be gone in the Rapture and shortly after the False Prophet and Anti-Christ will come on the scene. Scripture says clearly that the False Prophet and Anti-Christ will use false signs and wonders to validate their gospel. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.” (Revelation 13:11-14) My guess is that the false gospel of the Anti-Christ and False Prophet will in reality be a mix of New Age humanistic garbage with just enough “Christian sounding” spin to allow it to deceive many. Verse 11 from Revelation 13 above says the false prophet will have “horns like a lamb” or in other words appear to be like the Lamb of God but “speak like a dragon”. In Scripture Jesus is the only true lamb of God and the devil or Satan is referred to as a Dragon. There is coming on the scene a false religion that will try hard to appear to be Christian but in reality will be the doctrine of demons. This doctrine will likely be that we are all ‘little gods’ working towards being ‘enlightened’ which is the doctrine of the New Age movement but also in reality the false doctrine many “Christian” teachers are preaching today. My guess is some of the chasing after signs and wonders word of faith teachers are already hard at work laying the ground work for the Anti-Christ and False Prophet.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
RICHARD FOSTER—CELEBRATION OF DECEPTION By Ken Silva pastor-teacher on May 2, 2012 in Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism, Current Issues, Features, Richard Foster By Apprising Ministries special correspondent Bob DeWaay In February 2008, Christianity Today ran a glowing cover story about Evangelicalism’s recent embrace of medieval Roman Catholic mysticism entitled The Future lies in the Past.1 The article traced the beginning of the movement as follows: “The movement seems to have exploded in a 24-month period in 1977-1978, which saw the publication of Richard Foster’s bestselling Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth and Robert Webber’s Common Roots: A Call to Evangelical Maturity.”2 The article views Foster as one who continues to guide the movement: “From Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, and living practicing monks and nuns, they [those going back to Roman Catholic mysticism] must learn both the strengths and the limits of the historical ascetic disciplines.”3 So Foster was instrumental in starting a movement that is still growing 30-plus years later. The irony about this particular CIC regarding Foster’s 1978 book is that in 1978 I myself was living in a Christian community committed to practicing much of what he promotes in Celebration of Discipline (even though we had not learned it from him directly). So I am not criticizing a practice about which I know nothing (or one in which I have no experience). I am criticizing a practice I foolishly allowed to deceive me for a significant portion of my early Christian life. When it comes to being deceived by mysticism, I have had abundant involvement. The only way I escaped it was through discovering and adopting the Reformation principle of sola scriptura. In this article I will show that Foster’s “journey inward” is unbiblical and dangerous. I will show that most of the spiritual disciplines that he calls “means of grace” are no means of grace at all—but a means of putting oneself under spiritual deception. The Journey Inward The Bible nowhere describes an inward journey to explore the realm of the spirit. God chose to reveal the truth about spiritual reality through His ordained, Spirit-inspired, biblical writers. What is spiritual and not revealed by God is of the occult and, therefore, forbidden. We have discussed this in many articles and have produced DVD seminars on the topic. But the concept of sola scriptura is totally lost on mystics such as Richard Foster. They, like the enthusiasts that Calvin and Luther warned against, believe they can gain valid and useful knowledge of spiritual things through direct, personal inspiration. Foster describes the idea of the disciplines that are the topic of his book: “The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm.”4 So Foster has conceptually repudiated sola scriptura on page one to replace it with a journey inward to explore the realm of spirits. Something must have been seriously amiss in evangelicalism already in 1978 to render this book a bestseller! It ought to have been repudiated on the spot. In a footnote to that statement Foster writes, “In one form or another all of the devotional masters have affirmed the necessity of the Disciplines” (Foster: 1). The devotional “masters,” by the way, are mostly Roman Catholics who never were committed to the principle of sola scriptura. It is not surprising that they looked for spirituality through experimentation. But as an “inner light” Quaker, Foster never was committed to sola scriptura either. Forgetting that the Bible forbids divination, Foster explains what he is after: [W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well. . . . They call us to the adventure, to be pioneers in this frontier of the Spirit. (Foster: 13) Realizing that his readers would likely take this as an endorsement of Eastern religions, he makes a disclaimer that it is not Transcendental Meditation (TM) or something of that ilk: “Eastern meditation is an attempt to empty the mind; Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it” (Foster: 15). But what Foster wishes us to fill our minds with are personal revelations from the spirit realm that we naively are to think are the voice of God. This sort of meditation is not meditating on what God has said, but uses a technique to explore the spirit world. In other words, it is divination. What we learn about the spirit realm either is revealed by God (once for all in Scripture) or gleaned by man-made techniques. That distinction is the difference between Christianity and paganism. Only Bible believers know what God has said about Himself and what He wishes to reveal about the unseen spirit world. Foster’s material continues to be popular because we live in an age where being spiritual pioneers on a journey into the unseen realm of the spirits is the essence of popular piety. It is the spirituality of secular talk shows. To fully understand the degree of Foster’s deception, he even calls these techniques to the inner journey “means of grace”: “They [the Disciplines] are God’s means of grace” (Foster: 6). As with all who teach spiritual disciplines, there are no boundaries to these false “means.” For example, consider this recommended practice: “After you have gained some proficiency in centering down, add a five- to ten-minute meditation on some aspect of the creation. Choose something in the created order: tree, plant, bird, leaf, cloud, and each day ponder it carefully and prayerfully” (Foster 25). This after he had just taught breathing exercises (a means of “centering down”). Then he makes a startling claim: “We should not bypass this means of God’s grace” (Foster: 25). And there we have it: meditating of a leaf can be a means of grace! Foster’s journey inward is to discover a spirit world that is available for any who search for it: “How then do we come to believe in a world of the spirit? Is it by blind faith? Not at all. The inner reality of the spiritual world is available to all who are willing to search for it” (Foster: 18). He claims that this spiritual search is analogous to scientific experimentation. Never mind that every pagan culture that has existed has believed in the “spiritual world.” Spirituality of the Imagination The Bible does not have anything good so say about the imagination. For example: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are leading you into futility; They speak a vision of their own imagination, Not from the mouth of the Lord’” (Jeremiah 23:16). A search of the KJV for “imagination” yields 14 verses, and in each case it is a bad thing. According to the Bible, the imagination is where people go when they do not want to listen to God. However, for Foster the imagination is central: “The inner world of meditation is most easily entered through the door of the imagination. We fail today to appreciate its tremendous power. The imagination is stronger than conceptual thought and stronger than the will” (Foster: 22). Some of the authorities he cites on this point are C. G. Jung, Ignatius of Loyola, and Morton Kelsey. Jung is famous for his concept of the collective unconscious, and Kelsey was an Episcopal priest committed to Jungian principles. Kelsey wrote many books promoting mysticism. The advice Foster gleans from these teachers is that we must learn to think in images and take our dreams to be a possible doorway into the spirit world. Foster claims that dreams are something we already have and can help us develop the use of the imagination. He says, “Keeping a journal of our dreams is a way of taking them seriously” (Foster: 23). There is, Foster warns, a danger to this process: “At the same time [that we ask for dreams to be God speaking to us], it is wise to pray a prayer of protection, since to open ourselves to spiritual influence can be dangerous as well as profitable” (Foster: 23). I would say that is asking God to protect us as we use various techniques to go where He does not want us to go (into the world of the spirits to gain information). The danger he warns of is far greater than Foster imagines. Those who take the journey inward will be deceived—every time! We are not equipped to gain spiritual information from that realm. That is why God speaks to us through His ordained mediators (the inspired Biblical writers); otherwise we would be fishing in the dark in a medium we are not suited for. Foster teaches his readers to use their imaginations to experience Biblical stories with the five physical senses. Here is what he claims will happen: As you enter the story, not as a passive observer but as an active participant, remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and is not bound by time, this event in the past is a living present-tense experience for Him. Hence, you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by His voice and be touched by His healing power. It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; it can be a genuine confrontation. Jesus Christ will actually come to you. (Foster: 26) Showing that Foster’s ideas are still influential in our day, Greg Boyd cites some of Foster’s words here to support what he calls “cataphatic prayer” which uses the imagination and images as a means to contact God and gain spiritual information.5 Those who endorse this practice assume they are not being deceived by spirits, but I cannot see on what grounds. Foster prescribes a practice using one’s imagination that mimics astral projection to the degree that he actually includes a footnote disclaimer stating that it is not astral projection (Foster 28). It begins by telling his readers to imagine themselves going out into nature into a beautiful place (Boyd describes how he practices this, as well as its results6). After enjoying the sights and smells (in your imagination) these are the next steps: In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. . . Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence. Listen quietly, anticipating the unanticipated. Note carefully any instruction given. With time and experience you will be able to distinguish readily between mere human thought that may bubble up to the conscious mind and the True Spirit which inwardly moves upon the heart. (Foster: 27, 28) I must ask how one knows whether “True Spirit” is not a deceiving one? Mysticism’s fatal flaw is that it naively assumes that Christians having subjective religious experiences must therefore be having Christianexperiences that are truly from God—even if the experiences were provoked through unbiblical practices similar to those used by pagans. Mental Alchemy Foster’s approach to prayer is laced with mysticism as well. He claims that prayer needs to be learned from people who have the right experiences and are “masters” who know what they are doing. Foster does not teach ordinary prayer, whereby we bring our needs and requests to the Lord and know that He hears us (because He promised that He does). Here is why he thinks such prayer fails: Often people will pray and pray with all the faith in the world, but nothing happens. Naturally, they were not contacting the channel. We begin praying for others by first centering down and listening to the quiet thunder of the Lord of hosts. Attuning ourselves to divine breathings is spiritual work, but without it our praying is vain repetition (Mt. 6:7). Listening to the Lord is the first thing, the second thing, and the third thing necessary for successful intercession. (Foster: 34) Of course this means we have to become mystics if we want to pray. He teaches that we first must hear personal revelations from God, using meditation techniques such as he teaches, before we pray. He says: “The beginning point, then, in learning to pray for others is to listen for guidance . . . This inner “yes” is the divine authorization for you to pray for the person or situation” (Foster: 35). No! Foster is wrong! The only authorization we need to pray is the Biblical command to pray—not personal revelations. For Foster, meditation (mystical style) is necessary but not sufficient. He also brings the imagination into the process: “As with meditation, the imagination is a powerful tool in the work of prayer” (Foster: 36). He credits Agnes Sanford7 for helping him see the value of using the imagination in praying. Foster writes, “Imagination opens the door to faith. If we can ‘see’ in our mind’s eye a shattered marriage whole or a sick person well, it is only a short step to believing it will be so” (Foster: 36). Sanford got her ideas from Theosophy, New Thought, Jung, and Emmet Fox. These ideas, echoed by Foster, come from the unbiblical “mind over matter” thinking of that era. That kind of thinking uses creative visualization to change reality or channel spiritual power. Foster suggests, “Imagine the light of Christ flowing through your hands and healing every emotional trauma and hurt feeling your child experienced that day” (Foster: 39). In his 1985 book, The Seduction of Christianity, Dave Hunt labeled creative visualization such as what Foster promotes, “mental alchemy.”8 Hunt warned the church that Foster promoted such mental alchemy in Celebration of Discipline, and as we have shown, he, in fact, does. So how is it that 24 years after Hunt’s warning Foster is more popular than ever with Evangelicals? The answer is end times deception. Now, a huge movement that claims to be a reformation promoting Foster, Willard and their versions of mysticism does exist (i.e., The Emergent Church). Things have gotten so very much worse. Spiritual Directors Once mysticism and the supposed need to gain personal revelations from God are embraced, there arises a need for new “masters” who are better at navigating the spirit world. Pagan societies have always had such persons. They are called “shamans.” Eastern religion calls them “gurus.” Deceived Christians call them “spiritual directors.” Foster explains, “In the Middle Ages not even the greatest saints attempted the depths of the inward journey without the help of a spiritual director” (Foster: 159). The problem, according to Foster, is that the churches (in 1978) lacked “living masters”: No doubt part of the surge of interest in Eastern meditation is because the churches have abrogated the field. How depressing for a university student, seeking to know the Christian teaching on meditation, to discover that there are so few living masters of contemplative prayer and that nearly all of the serious writings on the subject are seven or more centuries old. No wonder he or she turns to Zen, Yoga, or TM. (Foster: 14) Foster’s dream has come true. Today people can even practice Yoga in a Christian church. We have Christian TM; it is called contemplative prayer. Yes, Eastern religion has come right into the church, and Foster has helped usher it in. But what about “living masters” or spiritual directors? In 1972 Morton Kelsey lamented their lack: “Indeed I would suggest that everyone who is serious about relating to the spiritual realm find himself a spiritual director, if there were more men trained and experienced in this way.”9 That “problem” has been solved in a huge way. Evangelical theology schools are now offering masters degrees in “spiritual formation” in order to equip people to be “spiritual directors.” Here is what Biola University says about its program: “This degree is designed to equip men and women for the ministry of spiritual direction, discipleship, formation and soul care in the local church and for further academic training in spiritual formation.”10 Spiritual Directors International will help you find a spiritual director regardless of your religion.11 Richard Foster’s own Renovare, which purports to “encourage renewal in the Christian church,” has a list of spiritual direction programs.12 Foster explains the purpose of the spiritual director: “He is the means of God to open the path to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit” (Foster: 160). Apparently, in a full-blown rejection of sola scriptura where the Holy Spirit’s teaching is mediated to the church through the Biblical writers only, we need mediators for personal revelations beyond scripture. Foster explains how spiritual directors lead: “He leads only by the force of his own personal holiness” (Foster: 160). In Roman Catholicism the Pope is called “his holiness” and in Tibetan Buddhism the Dalai Lama is called “his holiness” but now evangelicals are developing a class of people who evidently deserve the title. How exactly are we to judge when someone has gained “personal holiness” sufficient to be a spiritual director and mediate spirituality to others? Foster says, “Though the director has obviously advanced further into the inner depths, the two [master and disciple] are together learning and growing in the realm of the Spirit” (Foster: 160). Foster cites Roman Catholic mystic Thomas Merton about how this works: “The spiritual director was something of a ‘spiritual father who begot the perfect life in the soul of his disciple by his instructions first of all, but also by his prayer, his sanctity and his example. He was . . . a kind of ‘sacrament’ of the Lord’s presence in the ecclesiastical community” (Foster: 161). End Times Delusion When it comes to end times deception, Foster is on the cutting edge of embracing it. Consider what he wrote: “In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emerging of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. . . . Individuals can be found here and there whose hearts burn with divine fire” (Foster: 150). Such inclinations have led to massive deception. They smack of the Latter Rain deception, now embodied in such false teachers as Rick Joyner and Mike Bickle. They are elitist. They are in line with the beliefs of the Emergent Church as well. He also says: “Our century has yet to see the breaking forth of the apostolic church of the Spirit” (Foster: 150). Now we have the New Apostolic Reformation claiming to be just that. Foster’s ideas now embody the massive apostasy and end times deception that characterize our age. Foster’s teachings have taken the church as far away from the Reformation principle of sola scriptura as the Roman Catholic Church ever was. The only thing left is for them to bring us all the way back to Rome.Christianity Today praises Foster for pointing us in that direction. In early 2008 I wrote a CIC article about how abandoning the principle of sola scriptura would lead evangelicals back to Rome.13 It was partly a response to the CT article praising mysticism. The response I received was rather unexpected. I was contacted by former evangelicals who had rejected sola scriptura and had gone back to Rome! They wanted to debate me about sola scriptura. Sadly, my point was proven. As a response to their misguided challenge our church hosted a seminar on sola scriptura, called Faith at Risk 4. In the seminar Gary Gilley and I defended the scriptures as the sole authority for the church.14 The aforementioned CT article discusses a new monasticism, former evangelical leaders converting to Roman Catholicism, and mystical practices like lectio divina—and they call all of it a good and hopeful thing. Chris Armstrong, the author of the article, concluded, “That they [evangelicals] are receiving good guidance on this road from wise teachers [Foster and Willard] is reason to believe that Christ is guiding the process. And that they are meeting and learning from fellow Christians in the other two great confessions, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox, is reason to rejoice in the power of love.”15 Who is left to defend the principles of the Reformation? One would think Reformed theologians are, but they aren’t doing their job. In the last CIC article we mentioned Reformed theologian Donald Whitney who wrote: “Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline has been the most popular book on the subject of the Spiritual Disciplines in the last half of the twentieth century. The great contribution of this work is the reminder that the Spiritual Disciplines, which many see as restrictive and binding, are actually means to spiritual freedom.”16That from a teacher in a Reformed seminary? If a book that teaches Christian TM, Christian astral projection and mental alchemy by means of the imagination is a “great contribution,” then something is seriously wrong here. The delusion is so widespread that I see no other explanation for it than the end time deception predicted by Paul: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1Timothy 4:1). Another passage warns: ”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” (2Timothy 4:3, 4). That time now is here. We are accountable to God for what we believe and practice. Those who wish to persevere in the faith in this age of delusion must base their beliefs and practices only on the truths found in Scripture. Foster’s journey into the world of the spirits will deceive all who enter it. Issue 112 – May / June 2009 End notes: Chris Armstong, “The Future lies in the Past” in Christianity Today, February 2008. Ibid. 24. Ibid. 29. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York: Harper & Row, 1978) 1. All subsequent citations from this book will be bracketed within the text in this fashion: (Foster: 1). Greg Boyd, Seeing is Believing, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004). Boyd cites Foster to prove that the Lord will actually come to us through our use of “imaginative meditation.” I deal with this issue more fully in CIC issue 83 July/August, 2003: HTTP://CICMINISTRY.ORG/COMMENTARY/ISSUE83.HTM Ibid. 111-125. I write about Sanford’s inner healing theories in CIC Issue 96:HTTP://CICMINISTRY.ORG/COMMENTARY/ISSUE96.HTM Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity (Eugene: Harvest House, 1985) 138. Morton Kelsey, Encounter With God, (Bethany Fellowship: Minneapolis, 1972) 179. HTTP://WWW.BIOLA.EDU/SPIRITUALFORMATION/PROGRAMS/ HTTP://WWW.SDIWORLD.ORG HTTP://WWW.RENOVARE.US/WHATWEDO/TRAINING/SPIRITUALITYTRAINING/SPIRITUALDIRECTION/TABID/2384/DEFAULT.ASPX CIC Issue 105; March/April 2008: HTTP://CICMINISTRY.ORG/COMMENTARY/ISSUE105.HTM That seminar is available here: HTTP://WWW.CICSTORE.ORG/SERVLET/THE-60/FAITH-AT-RISK-4/DETAIL Armstrong, Future DONALD S. WHITNEY, SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (COLORADO SPRINGS: NAVPRESS, 1991) 23. Republished with permission. The original appears right here.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Joyce Meyer was born on June 4, 1943. She is married, has four children, and lives outside of St. Louis, Missouri. She runs the Joyce Meyer Ministries organization (joycemeyer.org). When examining the site's statement of faith we are glad to see an affirmation of the Trinity, that man is a sinner, that without Jesus we can have no relationship with God, that salvation is a free gift, and eternal hell of conscious damnation. There is a concern with the statement on "divine healing," since there are so many aberrant groups that also affirm divine healing but say Christians must claim it and people who are sick are in sin. However, I am not aware of what Meyer's position is on this.
The Joyce Meyer Ministry takes in a great deal of money. She travels in a private jet and has several multimillion dollar homes.
"While Meyer's previous salary is unknown, a recent series of investigative articles in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch revealed Meyer's ministry purchased for Joyce and Dave a $2 million home, a $10 million private jet, and houses worth another $2 million for the couple's children, who also work for the ministry. The articles also outlined Meyer's recent personal purchases, including a $500,000 vacation home. Meyer, 60, lives in Fenton, Missouri, near St. Louis." (1/1/2004, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/januaryweb-only/1-19-13.0.html)
Having a lot or a little money is neither good nor bad. If she has earned it all fairly through her work, fine. Nevertheless, this article will focus on her teaching, not on her finances. Let's take a look at scripture, then Joyce Meyer's teachings.
First, what does the Bible say?
It is absolutely necessary that we Christians use biblical discernment when supporting any preacher and/or teacher of the gospel. It is irrelevant whether or not we like the person, think the person is a good speaker, or if the person says things that are uplifting. Instead, we must be as noble as the Bereans.
- "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so," (Acts 17:11).
- "Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other," (1 Cor. 4:6).
If the Bible says that even Paul was checked by scripture, and that we are not to exceed scripture's teaching, then aren't we obligated to judge what Mrs. Meyer says against the word of God? Of course we are. It is not enough to just believe what she says, no matter how good the words are or how well she presents them. Let's not be taken in by a public figure who is confident, assertive, and appears to be biblical. Our duties as Christians include biblical discernment - which can only be done by examining what she says and comparing it with scripture.
What does Joyce Meyer teach?
For the most part Joyce Meyer preaches a positive, biblical message that is of great value to many people. We applaud her desire to be biblical, to point women to godly submission and humility, to trusting God, being loving, to have value based in what Christ has done for us, etc. These are all good. However, there are some very significant errors that need to be addressed. Some of them are so bad that she is outside of biblical orthodoxy and must be considered a false teacher. Let's take a look at what Joyce Meyer has said.
Following is a list of quotes from Joyce Meyer, along with responses.
- Jesus stopped being the Son of God: "He could have helped himself up until the point where he said I commend my spirit into your hands, at that point he couldn’t do nothing for himself anymore. He had become sin, he was no longer the Son of God. He was sin."(http://storage.carm.org/joycemeyer/joyce-meyer-Jesus-became-sin-stopped-being-son-of-God.mp3)
- Response: This is heresy. Jesus did not ever stop becoming the son of God. Essentially what she is saying is that Jesus stopped being divine, the eternal son, second person of the Trinity. This is an attack on the very nature of Christ and it is a dangerous false teaching. Joyce Meyer needs to repent and retract this statement. There is no place in Scripture that says Jesus stopped being the son of God. She's adding to the word of God and placing in the hearts and minds of listeners false doctrine.
To continue reading the article follow the link: http://carm.org/joyce-meyer
Sunday, June 10, 2012
© 1997 by Kevin Swanson
Some new worship methods are very similar to the techniques used by hypnotists or eastern mystics
Directly before the news at 7:00 am during my morning commute I tune the radio to a Christian station and listen to one or two contemporary Christian songs. Last week the radio aired a mantra of 4-5 notes which repeated the same words at least ten times in a row. This in itself was not so amazing. I almost had to pull over when the announcer called it his favorite song and stated that his church had used the song in worship time last Sunday, and everybody was just so blessed by it.This called back memories of a documentary I saw once of a crowd engaged in Transcendental Meditation, swaying back and forth, uttering the same phrase over and over again. The protagonists utter a word or short phrase (often Biblical names or phrases such as "Jesus" or "Hallelujah") over and over again in order to initiate a mind-altering trance. The physical, emotional, and mental changes elicited by such manipulations are incredible, similar to the effects of hypnosis.
Some new "worship" methods popularly used in many of our evangelical churches are very similar to the techniques used by hypnotists or eastern mystics. It is the worship of vain repetition, "the vain repetition of the heathen", in Jesus' words.
The number of times something is repeated is important particularly in the context of worship, at least according to Jesus. Hypnosis, generated through repetition of sights or sounds, has no part in true Biblical worship. Hypnosis permits the mind to disengage to some extent. But Biblical worship requires the full engagement of the mind. We are to worship in spirit and TRUTH. Christianity is a religion in which the mind must be fully conscious and fully engaged. We are to love the Lord with "all our mind." We are called to the "renewing of our minds" and to "think soberly." (Romans 12:2, 3).
Our worship and praise must come forth from a lucid mind that is not clouded by hypnosis, unbiblical notions, gibberish that nobody understands, or over-simplified, meaningless, trite, or sentimental phrases. Scripture is dogmatic on this point:
Many modern day choruses are good and profitable. But there are too many that rely on the cheap and illegitimate methods of "vain repetition" to "heighten the worship experience" to the delight of the uninstructed and to the displeasure of a God who does not accept vain repetition in His worship. Some even use bits and pieces of the Psalms in their repetitive compositions.
Biblical examples of repetition are clear. The Psalms use a repeated phrase in the form of a chorus. (Eg. "His mercy endures forever."), but only between verses with varied phrases and thoughts. Sometimes, although rarely, the Scriptures repeat a phrase or a word, but no more than 3 times in a row. (Eg. "Holy, holy, holy.)
May our worship be worship that pleases the God whom we worship rather than worship that titillates the uninstructed and the pleasure-seekers.
Reprinted from Mayflower Chronicles, June 1997
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
To read the entire article click this link: A fast-growing movement with disastrous implications
Highlights from the article:
Highlights from the article: