Saturday, December 12, 2009

Unholy Trinity

John MacArthur

I don't watch much television, and when I do I generally avoid the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). For many years TBN has been dominated by faith-healers, full-time fund-raisers, and self-proclaimed prophets spewing heresy. I wrote about the false gospel they proclaim and the phony miracles they pretend to do almost two decades ago in Charismatic Chaos (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992. See especially chapter 12). I had my fill of charismatic televangelism while researching that book, and I can hardly bear to watch it any more.

Recently, however, while recovering from knee-replacement surgery, I decided to sample some of the current fare on TBN. From a therapeutic point of view it seemed a good choice: something more excruciating than the pain in my leg might distract me from the physical suffering of post-surgical trauma. And I suppose on that basis the strategy was effective.

But it left me outraged and frustrated—and eager to challenge the misperceptions in the minds of millions of unbelievers who see these false teachers masquerading as ministers of Christ on TBN.

I'm outraged at the brazen way so many false teachers twist the message of Scripture in Jesus' name. And I'm frustrated because I'm certain that if these charlatans were not receiving a large proportion of their financial support from sincere believers (and silent acquiescence from Christian leaders who surely know better), they would have no platform for their shenanigans. They would soon lose their core constituency and fade from the scene.

Instead, religious quacks are actually multiplying at a frightening pace. One thing I discovered to my immense displeasure is that TBN is by no means the only religious network broadcasting poisonous false doctrine around the clock. The channel lineup I receive includes at least seven other channels whose schedules are filled with false teachers and charlatans. There's The Church Channel, Daystar, GodTV, World Harvest Television (LeSEA), Total Christian Television, and several others. Some of them feature blocs of family television programing and a few fairly sound teachers who provide moments of escape from the prosperity preachers. But all of them give prominence to enormous amounts of heresy and religious claptrap—enough to make them positively dangerous. And TBN is singularly responsible for kicking that door open so wide.

The continued growth and influence of TBN is baffling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the thick aura of lust, greed, and other kinds of moral impropriety that surrounds the whole enterprise. A long string of scandals involving notable charismatic televangelists between 1988 and 1992 should have been sufficient reason for even the most credulous viewers to scrutinize the entire industry with skepticism. First came the international spectacle of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's moral, marital, and financial collapse. That was followed closely by the revelation of Jimmy Swaggart's repeated dalliances with prostitutes. Shortly afterward, an episode of ABC's Primetime Live exposed clear examples of deliberate fraud on the part of three more leading charismatic televangelists. Those incidents were punctuated by a score of lesser scandals over several years' time. It is clear (or should be)—based on empirical evidence alone—that preachers promising miracles in exchange for money are not to be trusted. And for anyone who simply bothers to compare Jesus' teaching with the health-and-wealth message, it is clear that the message that currently dominates religious television is "a different gospel; which is really not another" (Galatians 1:6-7), but a damnable lie.

TBN is by far the leading perpetrator of that lie worldwide. Virtually all the network's main celebrities tell listeners that God will give them healing, wealth, and other material blessings in return for their money. On program after program people are urged to "plant a seed" by sending "the largest bill you have or the biggest check you can write" with the promise that God will miraculously make them rich in return. That same message dominates all of TBN's major fundraising drives. It's known as the "seed faith" plan, so-called by Oral Roberts, who set the pattern for most of the charismatic televangelists who have followed the trail he blazed. Paul Crouch, founder, chairman, and commander-in-chief of TBN, is one of the doctrine's staunchest defenders.

The only people who actually get rich by this scheme, of course, are the televangelists. Their people who send money get little in return but phony promises—and as a result, many of them turn away from the truth completely.

If the scheme seems reminiscent of Tetzel, that's because it is precisely the same doctrine. (Tetzel was a medieval monk whose high-pressure selling of indulgences—phony promises of forgiveness—outraged Martin Luther and touched off the Protestant Reformation.)

Like Tetzel, TBN preys on the poor and plies them with false promises. Yet what is happening daily on TBN is many times worse than the abuses that Luther decried because it is more widespread and more flagrant. The medium is more high-tech and the amounts bilked out of viewers' pockets are astronomically higher. (By most estimates, TBN is worth more than a billion dollars and rakes in $200 million annually. Those are direct contributions to the network, not counting millions more in donations sent directly to TBN broadcasters.) Like Tetzel on steroids, the Crouches and virtually all the key broadcasters on TBN live in garish opulence, while constantly begging their needy viewers for more money. Elderly, poor, and working-class viewers constitute TBN's primary demographic. And TBN's fundraisers all know that. The most desperate people—"unemployed," "even though I'm in between jobs," "trying to make it; trying to survive," "broke"—are baited with false promises to give what they do not even have. Jan Crouch addresses viewers as "you little people," and suggests that they send their grocery money to TBN "to assure God's blessing."

Thus TBN devours the poor while making the charlatans rich. God cursed false prophets in the Old Testament for that very thing (Jeremiah 6:13-15). It's also one of the main reasons the Pharisees incurred Jesus' condemnation (Luke 20:46-47). It's hard to think of any sin more evil. It not only hurts people materially; it deludes them with groundless hope, deceives them with a false gospel, and thereby places their souls in eternal peril. And yet those who do it pretend they are doing the work of God.

That's not all. Almost no false prophecy, erroneous doctrine, rank superstition, or silly claim is too outlandish to receive airtime on TBN. Jan Crouch tearfully gives a fanciful account of how her pet chicken was miraculously raised from the dead. Benny Hinn trumps that claim with a bizarre prophecy that if TBN viewers will put their dead loved ones' caskets in front of television set and touch the dead person's hand to the screen, people will "be raised from the dead . . . by the thousands."

Ironically, one doesn't even need to be an orthodox Trinitarian in order to broadcast on the Trinity network. Bishop T. D. Jakes, well known for his rejection of the Nicene creed in favor of oneness Pentecostalism, is a staple on TBN. Benny Hinn has repeatedly attempted to revise the doctrine of the Trinity in novel ways, notoriously teaching at one point that there are nine persons in the godhead.

And yet evangelical church leaders typically show a kind of benign tolerance toward the whole enterprise. Most would never endorse it, of course. They may joke about the gaudiness of the big hair and tawdry set decorations on TBN. Ask them, and they will most likely acknowledge that the prosperity gospel is no gospel at all. Press the issue, and you will probably get them to admit that it is a dangerous form of false doctrine, totally unbiblical, and essentially anti-Christian.

Why, then, is there no large-scale effort among Bible-believing evangelicals to expose, denounce, refute, and silence these false teachers? After all, that is what Scripture commands church leaders to do when we encounter purveyors of soul-destroying substitutes for the true gospel:

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 (Titus 1:7-11).

Paul Crouch, Jr.Those who remain silent in the face of such grotesque lies may in fact be partly responsible for turning people away from the truth. Consider the testimony of William Lobdell, religion reporter for the Los Angeles Times, who once considered himself a devout evangelical Christian, but after doing a series of investigative reports on the moral and doctrinal cesspool at TBN; then "finding that his investigative stories about faith healer Benny Hinn and televangelists Jan and Paul Crouch appear to make no difference on the reach of these ministries or the lives of their followers, he [gave] up on the beat and on religion generally."

All those who truly love Christ and care about the truth have a solemn duty to defend the truth by exposing and opposing these lies that masquerade as truth. If we fail in that duty because of indifference, apathy, or a craving for the approval of men, we are no less guilty than those who actively spread the lies.

Link to original source: unholy
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Prophets Who Twist Scripture

It seems that everyone has a prophecy says there's going to be great prosperity and another at the same time says that there's coming great famine and need. Who's right? How do you test these prophecies to see who to trust? Of course, we could use the time old and scriptural method that's found in the Word of God:

Deuteronomy 18:20-21- But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart. How shall we know the word which the LORD hath spoken?

Isn't this directly answering the question? How do you know someone is speaking for God as a prophet according to God's Word? Look at verse 22:

Deuteronomy 18:22- When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

That's pretty clear...if you claim to speak for God then what you say better come to pass. Also, does it make sense if a prophecy does not match, or twists, God's Word? God is not the author of confusion and He will not give a prophecy to someone that does not agree with His revealed Word.

Now...back to the present. If you go to this link you will see that some people are making some very wild and interesting prophecies!

Let's test this and see what he's saying. Matt Sorger is a supposed prophet. He quotes John 10:10 and says that there's a time of "great restoration and harvest" coming. To simplify his argument... Satan is the thief of John 10:10 and he is stealing things from us...then he quotes Proverbs 6:31 and says that Satan needs to give back to you everything he's stolen...7-fold!

Oh my goodness that what all these passages are about!? Let's take a look:

John 10:10- "The thief cometh nto, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am ocme that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." So in this verse he says that the "thief" is Satan. Now it's true that Satan is a thief...I'll give him that. Here's the question...what does John apply this word to? Who is the thief of John 10:10?

  • (John 10:1)- He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other say, the same is a thief and a robber." There is a clear distinction in this passage about sheep...and thieves. You are either one of His sheep or you are a thief/robber. If you look at John 9 you'll see that the Lord Jesus is talking to the legalistic Pharisees who thought by their good works and obedience to the Law they earned their salvation. Look at verse 6- clearly He was speaking to the Pharisees "this parable spake Jesus unto them [the Pharisees] but they understood not"
  • (John 10:8)- All that came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them." Those that came before Christ offering a different way of salvation other than faith alone were thieves and robbers. Were not the Jewish leaders thieves and robbers?

So how does he apply this to Satan? Got me! If we read the passage in its context it is clear this is NOT about Satan, it's about the spiritual leadership of Israel at the time.

Now...Mr. Sorger's prophecy gets even more interesting. Now he jumps to Proverbs 6:31...

Prov 6:31- But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house."

He's misapplies John 10:10 to Satan...then because Prov 6:30 speaks of a thief and v. 31 says the theif must restore what he stole sevenfold, it clearly follows that Satan has to give back to you what he stole 7-fold, or does it? John 10:10 is not about Satan...and Proverbs 6:31 is speaking about a literal thief in Israel...again, not Satan. Nowhere does the OT or NT say that Satan is going to pay you back materially, emotionally for what he owes you! This is a HUGE twisting of Scripture that feeds the modern "prosperity gospel" nonsense.

But that's not the worst part of this article.

He says that Satan can steal from us by doing the following:

1. Putting depression and heaviness on you

2. Sickness

3. Debt and lack

4. Fear and anxiety

5. Bondage and addiction

Here is my question. How do you know Satan put these on you. First of all he is not omniscient and omnipresent. How do you know Satan put these on you. To Mr. Sorger's credit at least he said in the article that sometimes we reap a bad harvest because we make "bad choices." I think it would be better to say that we reap a bad harvest sometimes because we sin and rebel against God. THere's a big difference between sin and a "bad choice." That's dumbing down sin.

But how do you know if it's Satan, your bad "choice" or even God Himself? Doesn't God use trials and tribulations to conform us into the image of Christ? Didn't God use Satan himself to conform Job into the image of Christ? Didn't God use a demon and a physical affliction to keep Paul from becoming haughty? Read 2 Corinthians 12:7-9:

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

I'm sorry...affliction is NOT always Satan, it's not always due to a bad choice, not always due to sin, it could be that God is using it to conform you into the image of Christ. If everything goes well for you all the time you (and I) would fall hopelessly in love with this world that's full of sin. God uses affliction for His glory and honour sometimes.

Are we to believe that addiction is not due to our sin? Isn't that what addiction is? It is a form of idolatry where we give ourselves over to something. If I sin and start to drink alcohol and become a drunk I'm supposed to repent, confess and be held accountable! Nowhere does Scripture say that I'm supposed to claim back 7-fold from Satan when it's MY FAULT THROUGH MY OWN SIN that I'm in a situation. Even if Satan does attack you, Scripture does not teach that throught he atonement you are to get back 7-fold what he took.

If you have heaviness and depression then turn to Christ through His Word, and in the company of fellow believers for healing and encouragement. Your heaviness could also be due to sin...then we must repent and trust Christ.

If I'm sick I can ask God for healing but there's NO guarantee for that in the gospel. Paul besought the Lord but God said it was for a reason to keep Paul from becoming arrogant...and that God's grace was sufficient to get Paul through it. God did NOT take away the thorn and it's NOT because Paul didn't have the faith to believe He could. Maybe our sickness is due to sin such as taking the Lord's Supper in sin (2 Cor 11:29-30).

Maybe I'm in debt because I feel that I must have more material things than I can afford (that's covetousnes!). Should that person blame Satan as the thief and not themselves as being covetousness? No! What does Mr Sorger mean by "lack"? Doesn't scripture say we should be content with food, clothing, shelter? Is he saying that if I don't have a materially prosperous life that I am guaranteed that as a believer? Why then were the Apostles all living on the edge of poverty, why were they beaten, why were the many mentioned in Hebrews 11 who were commended for their faith living as destitute?

I have a great idea. Let's let Scripture speak for itself and not make wild claims that can never be proven and make applications that are unsriptural.

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Nostradamus VS The Charismatics

Nostradamus Predicted World War III for 2010
The following was taken from, World around us

According to astrologists and prophets, the next year of the Yellow Metal Tiger will not be easy. Researchers of Nostradamus’s predictions talk about some mysterious Virgin whose death is wanted and about the appearance of some “heartless, blood-thirsty” leader who will rule with “sword and fire.” Pavel Globa, a famous Russian astrologist, thinks that the year will be easier for Russians, but Europe and the USA can expect another economic downturn.

Researchers of Nostradamus believe that his predictions for the year 2010 can be found in X quatrain of X century.

The passage speaks about some mysterious Virgin, whose death is wanted, problems with trade, and appearance of some “heartless, blood-thirsty” leader who will rile with “sword and fire.” There is also a mentioning of “Satan’s arch of fury.” Interpreters think that it might be a ballistic missile.
Famous Nostradamus specialists think that his quatrains contain the following information for 2010:

- Possibly, World War III will start in November, and bacteriological and chemical weapons will be used.

- There will be conflict between Western Europe and the USA.

- There will be conflict between Great Britain and France.

- There is a possibility of armed military conflict on the Crimean peninsula.

- Europe will suffer an economic downturn.

- There will be a catastrophe in the Black Sea involving sulphuretted hydrogen.

Will the financial crisis end?

One of the famous astrologists predicted that economic problems in 2010 will grow. Many large companies will declare bankruptcy. This will cause hunger, religious and ethnical conflicts, and ecological problems. Global warming will greatly damage agriculture. An armed conflict is possible in Central Asia.

Russian “prophet” Pavel Globa believes that the year will be easier for Russians, while Europe and the USA can expect another economic downturn. This will happen because Russian officials will change their financial policy.

In September, predictions of a psychic named Ekaterina were spread on Russian websites. The predictions were as follows:

- Russia will suffer from a wave of earthquakes. One of them will destroy a huge building.

- Many cataclysms will take place in the US.

- On November 11, 2010, a war will be waged between two large countries. Only those who will be able to hide in the East or Caucuses will survive. 50 million Russians will die. There will be a short period of peace after the war.

- Four kings will clash in a battle, and another World War will commence.

- A large bird will fly over the USA, Satan himself will lay a bomb, and people will cry bloody tears.

What do futurologists think about it? In the end of the 20th century, a group of specialists formulated the following scientifically-based predictions for 2010:

- Solar activity will drop.

- There will be a large flood in South-East Asia

- Birth-rate in Europe will decrease.

- Russia and Belarus will experience economic upturn.

- An era of matriarchate will commence to last for 23 years.

- A new union will be formed involving the US, Europe, and countries of the Pacific basin

- New political and economic theories will start to form, and they will drastically change the future.

- New robots-androids will appear and will be introduced to day-to-day life

- Scientific evidence of the existence of soul will be discovered.

- Hadron collider will crash and form a black hole of artificial origin.

Predictions of Lev Melnikov, Russian futurologist.

- A possibility of development of virtual human nature will be researched.

- Cloning will be banned.

- A cluster computer of the world scale will be introduced.

- Households will use robots to help with chores.

- The UFO mystery will be solved, and our planet will be visited by guests from other planets.

The majority of predictors are inclined to believe that although years of the Tiger can be tough, they bring about many changes that are necessary to move forward. Let’s hope this happens again.

Link to original source: Predictions

Now compare that with the prophecies of some Charismatics:

You can read them at this link: Prophecies

As we approach the end of a New Year people everywhere have their predictions of what is going to happen in 2010. Some claim to have secret knowledge or divine revelations. The world loves to look to the writings of Nostradamus. In the Christian world we have the charismatic movement who claim to receive direct revelations from God. Here the prophecies of both!

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Tiger Woods and Pelagius

Tiger Woods:
Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods (born December 30, 1975) is an American professional golfer whose achievements to date rank him among the most successful golfers of all time. Currently the World No. 1, he was the highest-paid professional athlete in 2008, having earned an estimated $110 million from winnings and endorsements.

Pelagius (ca. AD 354 – ca. AD 420/440) was an ascetic who denied the doctrine of original sin, later developed by Augustine of Hippo, and was declared a heretic by the Council of Carthage. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism.

What is the connection between these two men?

Listen to the most recent News In Focus Program to find out:

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