June 16, 2015

Under The Flag of Abaddon: A List of False Teachers

False Teachers
False Prophets
False Christs

They present themselves as rescuers or rescue ships flying a flag of salvation but they are actually pirates flying false colors on their mast. They are waiting for their opportunity to board and pillage your spirituality and plunder your faith. They deliberately fly false flags as a Ruse de guerre or ruse of war. Spiritual Trojan horses. A deception to allow them to gain entry inside your defenses. Once inside they give you Hell (literally). They give no quarter.

2 Peter 2:1-3 ~ "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

I'm naming names today. No more dancing around this subject. If I don't name names I am complicit in the misleading of God's people that are in the midst of rapacious pirates. So hold on to your hats. This is going to get mighty uncomfortable for some folks. I write in the spirit of the Book of Jude when it speaks of false teaching.

Jude 3-4 ~ I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

I have recently started preaching/teaching again and the questions of who's who and what's what have again arisen. I've chosen to make a comprehensive list to acknowledge where I stand. As a teacher who should have discernment I would be remiss if I did not do what I have done here. It truly pains me to have to do this but when people start asking me what I think of Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn, it is time for me to open my mouth. What I do here I am commanded to do as a true follower of Jesus and Scripture.

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.

Everything I say in this post is said in love. I write here because I am feeling an increased sense of urgency to tell the truth when it comes to determining possible spiritual harm. I am concerned with whether or not what the following people preach affects people’s view of salvation. The two questions I ask myself when approaching these people are: 
(1) Would I use them myself as a source of truth in determining what the Bible truly says? 
(2) Can what they teach or expound possibly interfere with the message of the Gospel and what constitutes the correct behavior or actions that will lead to true repentance and salvation through the Gospel? Discerning this second question at times is not clear-cut.
In an age when people are culturally allowed to redefine love, race, sexual preference and even gender, I am beginning to see a determined attempt to also redefine Christianity to more "tolerable" forms. Even those in the Church are trying to scale back the demands of Scripture by putting it on the measuring table of modern culture. Whatever prohibitions or commandments don’t fit they hack it off and relegate them to the “optional” category. It becomes an issue of “should” not “shall”. When they do this they effectively amputate the Gospel invalidating it because what ends up coming out of their mouths is then a twisted unbiblical lie. They therefore make it "doctrines of demons". 

1 John 4:1-6 ~ "Beloved, do not believe every spirit (those claiming to speak by the spirit), but test the spirits, whether they are of god; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the spirit of god: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of god, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of god (i.e. The Gospel). And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of god, little children, and have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of god. He who knows god hears us; he who is not of god does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." 

So what is true teaching and not false? True teaching is teaching that aligns itself with Scripture either literally or in principle. Therefore those that do no align with Scripture, are not true teachers. They are then false teachers. Any time a person’s words or actions contradict or go against what the Bible says, alludes to or illustrates, they are no longer speaking for God. Having clarified this, there is a difference between inadvertent error and deliberate habitual deception

Let's be honest, even good people make occasional mistakes. I believe many if not all true teachers of the Word have made mistakes in their teaching or preaching at one time or another. I know I have. True teachers, when they are in error will accept correction or rebuke depending on the severity of the error. They will also be quick to right the wrong and provide the truth.

On the other hand, habitual rebellion against the truths of Scripture in a consistent pattern constitutes what the Bible refers to as false prophets or false teachers (1 John 3:9-10). Therein lies the distinction between the two. We need only listen to the words that come from the people themselves to make this discernment. It is the careless or Bible illiterate that don't base their discernment in Scripture that will fall victim to these bandits. Conversely, no sensible person will declare a teacher false as such after only one mistake appears. That is not discernment, that is pharisaical judgment. But when it becomes a pattern? Well, that is a different story altogether. At that point I am to identify bad teaching  as such and I should be able to explain why it is wrong in a way that is understandable. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was noted as having said the following about spiritual discernment.
"Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right." —Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Those that know me know I did not come to these conclusions lightly or accidentally. I am quite aware that if I malign God's true anointed I am under stiff penalty myself and will bring judgment on myself. I've done my homework with these people. I am not just pulling these names from whack-job legalistic websites. I am labeling these people because they are dangerous as Hell. They’re dangerous as Hell because their teachings are accelerating peoples trek to condemnation if people treat their words as Gospel truth.

I've also included some people that have effectively disqualified themselves from ministry due to their behavior (1 Timothy 3, Titus, etc.). Yes, people can still learn through other people's bad behavior (children). These behaviors should also be considered teaching because people that observe them can learn by example. Yes, some of these people may have repented and apologized for their wrong-doing (Swaggart, Driscoll) but we must then take the sum content of their character into account. Forgive them? Yes, absolutely! Forget the error and give them a pass? No way! The line becomes blurred at this point and one needs to ask themselves: Is it worth the risk of defaming Jesus' name? Since men's hearts are deceitfully wicked and none are righteous of their own accord...I say no.

There is enough false teaching or departure from Scripture in the teachings of these people or organizations that it warrants mentioning them. I would be remiss if some's salvation was jeopardized because I didn’t call out the vipers, hyenas and jackals and identify them as deceivers or liars. I mention these because they are the most visible and pose the greatest risk to the Body of Christ due to their popularity and the reach of their “ministries”. I have personally either read their work, heard them speak or have seen video of them. If there was even a question in my mind about the validity of their ministry....I post them here today. Mind you, these are just the tip of the iceberg. I will defend this discernment with source material matched to Scripture if I need to because explaining why all of these people are false teachers would make this post a book.

The False Teachers/Prophets
E A Adeboye, Stephen Anderson, Herbert Armstrong, Karen Armstrong, Matthew Ashimolowo, John Avanzini, Karl Barth, Jay Bakker, Jim Bakker, Rob Bell, Todd Bentley, Marcus Borg, William M. Branham, Barbie Breathitt, Rodney Browne, Emil Brunner, Rudolf Bultmann, Juanita Bynum, Christine Caine, Paul Cain, Harold Camping, Tony Campolo, Charles Capps, John Caputo, Morris Cerullo, Shaine Clairborne, Kim Clement, Kenneth/Gloria Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch, John Crowder, Creflo Dollar, Mark Driscoll, Jesse Duplantis, Bart Ehrman, Steve Furtick, W.V. Grant, Stanley Grenz, Ted Haggard, John Hagee, Kenneth Hagin, Bill Hamon, Christian Harfouche, Marilyn Hickey, Hillsong Church, Benny Hinn, TD Jakes, Leroy Jenkins, Bernard Jordan, Tenitope Bolegun Joshua, Rick Joyner, E.W. Kenyon, Dan Kimball, Eddie Long, Brennan Manning, Scot McKnight, Brian McLaren, Joyce Meyer, Donald Miller, Steve Munsey, Mike Murdock, Myles Munroe, Arnold Murray, Joel & Victoria Osteen, Chris Oyakhilome, David Oyedepo, Doug Pagitt, Rod Parsley, Norman Vincent Peale, Peter Popoff, Fred Price, Joseph Prince, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, the Roman Catholic Church, Jerry Savelle, Robert Schuller, The Jesus Seminar, John Shelby Spong, Jimmy Swaggart, Leonard Sweet, Leroy Thompson, Robb Thompson, Phyllis Tickle, Paul Tillich, Robert Tilton, Westboro Baptist Church, Ellen G. White, Paula White, Randy White, Dallas Willard, Bruce Wilkinson/Prayer of Jabez, Jeremiah Wright, Ed Young, Sarah Young/Jesus Calling, William Young/The Shack, Zig Ziglar
Although those next on the list are not near as detrimental as the previous list of people, they should be approached with extreme caution. The following have some things to offer the church at-large but there is often plenty of error mixed in. This makes them risky at best, heretics at worst. Sometimes what the following actually believe is difficult to pin down (example: R. Warren and Christlam, B. Hybels and Homosexuality). I believe some of them are sincere but misguided. A person can be sincere and still be dreadfully wrong. I believe with some of these people it is more an issue of misguided theological understanding than deliberate misleading of people like the list above. Error is still error though.

The Disputable Teachers
Mark Batterson, John Bevere, John Eldredge, Bill Hybels, Peter Kreeft, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Erwin McManus, John Ortberg, Rick Warren, N.T. Wright, Philip Yancey
The Hard To Categorize Teachers

Here I deal with “hard to categorize” teachers. These are the ones I am not willing to throw under the bus or throw the baby out with the bathwater. This includes the likes of Billy Graham, Tim Keller and John Stott. Yes, I am aware of the accusations towards Graham due to his Inclusivist / Universalist statements. I am not discounting them but what I am seeing in those statements is a desire to attempt to try and save as many of the lost as possible. Unfortunately, in an attempt to do so I see a man caught up in the emotions of the moment when he made certain statements (perhaps I am just in denial?). Other than those select moments, I see a man who has given nearly eight decades of his life to preach the True Gospel. Likewise, I believe Tim Keller has much to offer the Body of Christ but at times in the past has chased rabbits towards Contemplative Spirituality, and what amounts to eastern mysticism. He also sometimes clings a little too tightly to the Social aspect of the Gospel. While we’re at it, I find John Stott’s Annihilationist views, Ravi Zacharias’ (RZIM) support of Joyce Meyers, John Piper’s camaraderie with Rick Warren, Norman Geisler's Amyraldist views and William Lane Craig's Molinist views that border on Open Theism 
awkward to say the least. Do these positions make these people false teachers. I doubt it...but you decide for yourself. I merely present the information so that you do not make uninformed decisions.

Finally, I deal with the 800 lb. gorilla in the room with Evangelical Christianity. A gorilla called Dispensationalism. Quite a few fit loosely under this banner including the well respected teacher Dr. John MacArthur. This topic must be dealt with because the Dispensationalist undercurrent in Evangelical Christianity is pervasive and inescapable. I personally have read and interpreted the original Greek passages that deal with the idea of the Rapture (especially 1 Thessalonians 4) and have found that I do not agree 100% with Dispensationalist interpretation of the Greek even though the premise remains plausible (if not probable). It’s not necessarily the Dispensationalist view that makes me place the next few names on this list. It is the unnecessary paranoia and sensationalism the following people drum up that is disconcerting. If I group these men in even loosely with John MacArthur it is an unfair comparison. I’m talking about...
Jack Van Impe, Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins, Hal Lindsey, Grant R. Jeffrey, etc. 
To me, these men believing in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture and the things leading up to it isn't a direct issue of salvation although it might affect how one lives out their lives in the end. It’s an issue of how they believe. All of them focused way too much on end-times eschatology and not enough on Jesus. Do I find Jack and Rexella Van Impe odd? Yes I do. Van Impe focuses way too much on insignificant non-salvation things like Y2K (remember that?). I am also concerned with the avarice of LaHaye/Jenkins and the empire they built on a book series written over a span of 16 books. To me this looks like fleecing. Furthermore, Hal Lindsey’s endless speculations about the identity of the Antichrist and exact time of the Rapture is also grating. To say it’s false is too much of a reach for me, sorry. The only time a Dispensationalist becomes an issue for me is when it goes to the extreme of John Hagee who makes a claim of two distinct covenants for Christians and Jews. That is rank heresy.

The truth is that if we don't clean up our own ranks within Christianity it will be our own fault when the unbelieving world demonizes all of us categorically and unfairly. A majority of the people in the first list I wish not to be associated with at all because frankly, they're probably not even Christians. If they are, they're painfully misguided. I often get maligned because of their stupidity. I am often unjustly compared to them simply because they refer to themselves as Christian. I end up getting the brunt of the backlash and need to do damage control at the street-level because of what they do on television and in media. What is worse is that some of these people are likely led by demonic forces.

Moving Forward, We Look Back

To wrap up I present to you Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle. He actually made a really good checklist in modern terms based on Biblical principles for analyzing false teachers and their followers. This list is more telling of the followers of the false teacher than the false teacher themselves. Please note these were written over a century ago:
1. There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error–their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.  
2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge–many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to. 
3. There is a general tendency to completely free and independent thinking today–many like to prove their independence of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties. 
4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded–many seem half-ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher. 
5. There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers–they are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.  
6. There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship–people are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men. 
7. There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).  
8. There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians–every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.

Here is a good article from the Gospel Coalition as further reading: 7 Traits of False Teachers

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