Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Category: New Age, New Thought, occult influences in the body of Christ
Context is everything. One word taken out of context changes the ENTIRE meaning of something. Just think- when texting back and forth you use a word misplaced and the receiver now has an entirely different understanding of what you meant.
This verse in scripture is used only in part and not in context: the partial verse used often by WOF and NAR Movements is: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” and they end it there. The full verse is “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
Many WOF and NAR who most unknowingly practice occultism by means of “speaking your reality into existence” will use this partial verse when someone speaks (often biblical correction) words to them that may somehow cause them to ‘feel negatively’ — they don’t recognize and can not discern Holy Spirit conviction and having “guilty feelings” is often a safeguard that God has built into our very fibers so we DON’T do certain things. But according to these folks if you feel guilty it’s the “devil trying to steal your joy!” And will say “there’s no condemnation for those in Christ!” And what this verse actually means in context is our guilty status of Gods judgement upon us has been acquitted by Christ. Through Jesus Christs substitutionary (full) atonement we are acquitted for those of us who are IN CHRIST. It has nothing to do with “feelings” it’s a spiritual position before God. Apart from Christ we stand condemned and guilty before God.
You see in their world a person should never have any negative things said in their lives, have anything bad happen, or encounter any uncomfortable situations in life or struggles. And this is the unbiblical ‘jesus’ they preach as well; the “come to Jesus and you’ll be rich, never sick, no marital problems, always blessed with material blessings and never experience any financial problems etc. This “different jesus” creates false converts; after all who wouldn’t want a “genie” of sorts to take away all their problems and promise to never have any issues ever. Everything and I do mean everything is contingent on THEIR force of faith, a faith that’s a created power from within them, as opposed to biblical faith.
Getting back to the full verse in context, we need to back up into Romans 7 and read through:
“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
As you can read in context this verse is not about “feelings” or when we feel guilty it’s not always the devil, its not someone’s “negative words” … it could very likely be the Holy Spirit Himself convicting you. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Hebrews 12:6
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” 2 Corinthians 11:4
As unsettling changes take place in your Christian environment, you might find yourself in this scenario:
In my Christian reading, I get a gritty feeling about a phrase here or a teaching there. Then . . .
I sense that new meanings are being applied to established Christian terms. Then . . .
I find outright heresy in books and/or sermons.
I notice certain names repeated in those sermons or in the endnotes of books.
I voice concern to my minister, but he’s dismissive: “Now, now, we can’t all agree on everything.”
I see acceptance of practices that I’ve discovered are misleading: Eastern wellness techniques . . .
and contemplative prayer . . .
But I also wonder if I’m missing out, if I’m not as spiritual as others who are having “experiences.”
I come to realize that I can’t blindly follow authorities; they may be losing their grasp of the Scriptures. I’ll get into the Word for myself, stay connected to the church [the body of Christ] and to the real Jesus.
That gritty feeling
A phrase or idea sounds “off” in a seemingly solid book: “the Christ-thing which has no name.” (John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted); “Our souls are those sacred centers where all is one.” (Henri Nouwen, Bread for theJourney); “There is nothing wrong . . . with eroticism in worship.” (Tony Campolo, Adventures in Missing the Point)
Same vocabulary, different dictionary
Terms that have traditionally been associated with the church have been infused with new meaning, like: Christ, God, atonement, kingdom, silence, spirituality, meditation, incarnational . . .
Outright false teaching on foundational doctrines
Rob Bell on the virgin birth, Jesus’ deity, truth of Scripture: If “Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time,” Bell says, we wouldn’t lose any significant part of our faith, since it’s more about how we live. (Velvet Elvis, p. 26)
Brian McLarenon salvation: “I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish contexts.” (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 260)
Alan Joneson the atonement: “The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end . . . [because of] . . . the vindictive God behind it.” (Reimagining Christianity, p. 68.)
Among those who promote mysticism (some inadvertently) is a pattern in the sources being quoted. Learn to check the endnotes in popular books. Some key names: Thomas Merton, Teresa of Avila,Desert Fathers, John of the Cross, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Brother Lawrence, Madame Guyon . . .
Dismissive leaders in the local church
The response to your concerns/research: “Well, I haven’t heard about this, so you must be wrong.” Or “That’s a brilliant scholar you’re criticizing!”
Eastern wellness techniques
Yoga(union with the divine), reiki(spirit energy), and mindfulnessare brought into our culture from paganism, often somewhat sanitized and/or billed as non-religious. Compare manifestations ofkundalini(coiled) yoga and the Toronto Blessing/IHOP movement. Catholic writer Philip St. Romain equates kundalini serpent power to the power of the Holy Spirit.
An integral part of “spiritual formation” disciplines, contemplative prayer (aka centering prayer, abiding prayer, breath prayer, prayer of the heart, Jesus prayer) is described by Richard Foster as: wordless (no content), not for the novice (exclusive), unmediated, and dangerous. Thomas Merton gives the dangers: you could lose your faith, contact a demon, be led into false belief by your own imagination, feel a dread sense that God has abandoned you, or have a mental breakdown. No Scripture prescribes the following ritual to achieve union with the divine: sit quietly, use measured breathing, repeat a phrase over and over for 20 minutes until your mind is empty. Is this altered mental state really the one way to achieve union with God, as mystics claim? . . . Aren’t Christians already covered with the blood of Jesus and indwelled with the Holy Spirit?
One Christian blogger expressed what thousands of proclaiming Christians are coming to believe about meditation: “The ridiculous theological squabblings between adherents of different faiths disappear when the thoughts that produce all that dissension are stilled. Call it centering prayer; call it mantra meditation. The practice is the same, and it brings mystics together under the sheltering tent of wordless reality.”
Do these terms mean “doing benevolent work with people of other faiths” or “blending religions”? We’re hearing about Chrislam, Christian Zen, Buddhist Catholics, and demon-invoking ceremonies in churches. Also adopted from paganism and moving into the church are labyrinths, rosaries, monks and monasteries, enforced celibacy, extreme asceticism, visualization, consulting the dead, channeling, and goddess worship.
Missing out on something?
You may begin to question your own faith. Others are having spiritual experiences—seeing lights or spiritual beings, visualizing Jesus for a personal message, feeling an ecstatic unity with all mankind and the universe—all of which can subtly begin to take precedence over the authority of God’s Word and the Lord Jesus.
Perhaps you haven’t felt the need to question Christian study materials until recently. But how are destructive heresies secretly introduced? Why are doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1-3) associated with asceticism, and how is the church exposed to them? How could demonic doctrines be so clever that the elect [the whosoevers] could be deceived?
Who is “the Christ-thing which has no name”? Would God refer to his Son in that way? What are the implications of “eroticism in worship”? When confronted with several wrongly translated texts in The Message Bible, someone from the publisher dismissed the problem by asking, “Does anyone really know what any of the Bible really means anyway?”
Ironically, a couple of insightful Western Buddhists seem to see the problem better than we do, probably because they understand pagan doctrine. From a Buddhist’s review (2008) of Rob Bell’s popular book: “Velvet Elvis contains enough inconsistencies of logic and violations of orthodox Christian theology to raise the hairs on the back of any well-read and deep-thinking Christian’s neck.” And from a Buddhist blogger to his student on how to convert Christians to Buddhism: “If this information [Merton’s teachings, for example] could be taught in the Seminaries it might start to impact the various preachers 10 or 20 years down the road. This is the angle I’m working. If the preachers are inwardly ‘Buddhists’ in their hearts, then you don’t need to beat your head against the wall dealing with ignorant congregants.”
This article is from Lynn Lusby Pratt’s blog. Used with permission. Click here to see the source page and also if you want to download the above article and an expanded version of it. Lynn is the author of two Lighthouse Trails booklets.
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Anyone with access to the world wide web can simply google some of the terms above and a variety of mostly outlandish and almost unbelievable things will flood your search engine. However it can be easy to look from the outside at the most blasphemous claims (and behaviors) made by people in this movement and think what in the world are these people thinking? Then, there are the folks on the outskirts who essentially are passing by and unknowingly get “swept up” into some of the less outlandish and more subtle versions of what this blog will highlight.
I have learned that words matter and defining terms is essential. I will provide a real life example of how important this defining of terms is. I recently met an elderly woman, who was well dressed, wearing a plain cross around her neck, and had a old tattered book titled the sermon on the mount in her lap. In my mind, I immediately thought, well praise the Lord, I can chat with this woman about Jesus and surely she will understand what I am talking about! Then very quickly a sense that something was very very wrong came over me. She seemed a certain way, she looked good but something wasn’t right and I was about to find out exactly what that was.
As we engaged in a conversation I began asking her about the book she had. I “knew” not by my own understanding that there was something wrong with that book. She clenched it ever so tightly as if her very life was in that book and said “this is the only thing I have read for 30 years!” She proceeded to exclaim to me “you must have a copy, it will change your life!” In my head I thought, I am sure it will change my life, but not for the better, this book is not from God. The sermon on the mount spoken by Jesus Christ has changed and continues to change my life. However this woman’s book the sermon on the mount was everything that is antichrist but posing itself as Christian using all the same terms yet meaning something entirely different. The book she had that was written in 1934 by New Thought spiritual leader Emmet Fox.
I am mentioning all this to bring this back to the word of faith teachings that are solely based upon new thought, “christian science”, new thought metaphysical movement, gnosticism, with some “peppered” scripture in there as a condiment to “appear” Christian just like this elderly woman I met.
At this point I would hope the reader is already starting to see this has nothing to do with God at all and we haven’t even begun to get into mainstream “christian” word faith teachings that have come from this.
EW Kenyons writings went on to heavily influence Kenneth Hagin Sr. who is the recognized “father” of the Word of Faith Movement also referred to as Neo-Charismatic, prosperity gospel, force of faith, faith healers, positive confession movement. This movement is also heavily intertwined with the New Apostolic Reformation movement previously touched upon here.
The false teaching that “we are little gods” is central to WOF teaching as well as the NAR movement. It has to be so they can maintain the position of (“I will be like the most high”) the scriptures mentioned in the opening of this blog. The correct biblical exposition of the “little gods teaching” is here.
God “speaks words of faith” with his mouth is basic to Word-Faith doctrine is the idea that God created the world by literally speaking aloud words of faith. Thus, Hagin taught that “God created the world with words, human beings were created to be gods.”
Although Word-Faith teachers affirm that Jesus Christ was and is God, this affirmation is compromised by other elements of their teaching. According to basic word of faith teaching- Jesus was born again in hell and then rose from the dead. The correct biblical view is that Jesus was not “born again” He has always existed. They also argue that healing from disease or illness is assured in the atonement in this current temporal life, missing the true understanding of what Christs atonement entails, not just in this temporal body, but life everlasting. The focus is here and now and self centered, rather than glorifying God. Some teaching on biblical healing can be found here,here, and here.
I mention biblical healing because there is an overemphasis and idolatry of healing and money (materialism and good health is equated to spirituality) within this movement. If people are not healed of diseases they are left with their faith bankrupt. If they are financially poor it’s because they didn’t give enough money or they “spoke out” (AKA negative confession) against their finances. As is the case within my own family I have witnessed this movement cause serious spiritual damage. There is plenty of public testimony where this movement has even caused death in circumstances because people trenched in this view often refuse medical treatment because “sickness is just an illusion.”
Word of Faith says we should speak words of faith like God does: Since words spoken in faith are inherently powerful (Prov. 18:21 ” Death and life are in the power of the tongue ….” which is used out of context) what we say, if we believe it, is basically what we get. This is a “spiritual law” and God MUST act as we declare and decree a thing so.
John 10:10 “the thief” (comes to kill, steal, and destroy) … is another half verse quoted by WOF and some NAR to once again confirm that since according to their teaching, since it is always Gods will to be healthy, wealthy, etc. then if you’re not –‘satan has stolen your inheritance, or you need to stand firm and take back what the enemy has stolen (AKA money, health)!’ They equate “the thief” in this verse to satan, when (words and the meaning matter) the word “the thief” is referring to false teachers in the context of this whole chapter. The irony of false teachers using this verse once escaped me.
The WOF movement has cashed in on this verse : 3 John 2 “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” … This is often used to “confirm” Gods will is always that you have good health, a lot of money, and always happy and prospering. Again words matter and in the context of 3 John 2…it’s a simple salutation. It would be the same if I sent an email to a long lost friend and said, “ It’s been awhile since we spoke, I hope you and your family are well, healthy, and doing ok.” The WOF movement has made an entire doctrine from this misused scripture.
Listed below are just some (not an exhaustive list) notable Word of Faith/Prosperity teachers/speakers today (some still living, some not) and for the most part they all share the same underlying/overlapping aberrant and even heretical belief systems which will also be explored. It is important to list these teachers as many of them are aging and rapidly “passing the torch” to the younger generation. For example- Kenneth Copeland is passing “his torch” or as word of faithers would say “passing the mantle and anointing” to Todd White. Listed below The Word of Faith and NAR (New Apostolic Reformation Movement) are very much overlapped in many ways and at the same time also have some unique characteristics unto themselves.
So we have covered only some of the elementary basics of the occult, new thought, christian science, and the influences it has had on major “Christian” leaders.
What is often seen in this and all false teaching is a mashing of pieces of scripture (and most often secondary non-canonical sources) and attaching to another not in the way of cross referencing/studying, rather just a “whole new” verse thus a whole new teaching can come from it.
Other central versus from Scripture within the WOF movement that will be explored in coming blogs:
“By His Stripes we were healed….”- is the mantra in WOF- and there is a reason why the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah is always quoted but the same reference in The New Testament (in Peter and Matthew) scriptures that refer to this passage in Isaiah are not the “go to” scriptures in this movement. Like I said very early in this blog– words and the meaning of words matter.
I was listening to The Berean Call radio and listened to a testimony of a man coming out of the false teaching of the NAR. When he was asked why do people continue to stay in something that they know to be false. He answered it’s largely due to the fact that people just cannot psychologically cope with the reality that they’ve been duped for 20 or 30 plus years.
I watched Pastor Steve Mitchell talk about seminary school and he met a man in seminary and they became acquainted. As I recall Mitchell speaking about this man, he says how he ministered to him for approximately 2 years before the man went off to be a catholic priest. The man agreed with Mitchell on the facts (and accepted 1st century apostolic biblical doctrine as true) that the teachings of Rome is diametrically opposed to biblical Christianity, but the man just could not let go of the belief that he had been given the power of transubstantiation. So it was more important for him to have that power than to have the truth of the Gospel. Power at the expense of Truth really is at the root of all false teachings.
So far people who may be following these teachers may not hold the belief systems mentioned, or like myself, not even aware they did hold to such unbiblical beliefs. A little leaven, leavens the whole lump, and trying to separate what is true from the lies in these teachings is like trying to strain the cream out once its been mixed in your coffee.
In the coming blogs about the Word of Faith movement deeper discussions and biblical content will be explored. Including more scriptures that are plucked out to base an entire doctrine on. I will also provide book excerpts and/or video/audio excerpts whenever possible for the reader to research on their own about the people mentioned.
I hope this has encouraged people to look at Scripture themselves and compare it to what you have heard. Feel free to contact here and also ponder this until next time.