Magic Charms Enchant Apostolic-Prophetic Movement

Pivec, Holly-Magic Charms Enchant Apostolic-Prophetic Movement

Article: JAA167 | Author: Holly Pivec

This article first appeared in the News Watch column of the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 4 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Kits to remove curses, cards to interpret dreams, and music to heal people have become popular products in the apostolic‐prophetic movement, also called the “New Apostolic Reformation.” The movement, which is fast growing in charismatic churches, has long been criticized for its promotion of modern “apostles” and “prophets” who claim to have great authority and to speak for God. It is now being criticized for selling products that—many Christians believe—have more in common with the magic charms used in occult practices than with Christianity.

Property Dedication Kit. One organization that sells these products is the Elijah List, based in Albany, Oregon, which is founded and run by “prophet” Steve Shultz. The Elijah List e‐mails daily newsletters that feature prophecies—and advertisements for products like these—to more than 130,000 subscribers, according to its Web site (www.elijahlist.com).

One of the Elijah List’s top‐selling products is the “Portals to Cleansing Property Dedication Kit”—sold for $12—which is supposed to remove curses from houses and properties. Created by Henry Malone, a professional “house cleanser” and founder of Vision Life Ministries in Irving, Texas, the kit contains anointing oil and wood stakes, with Scripture verses on them, to drive into the borders of a property.

“Use it and make the enemy flee!” Shultz promised his Elijah List readers in an advertisement for the kit, sent on October 16, 2006. Shultz personally vouched for the kit, saying he’s cleansed his own 20 acres of land three or four times and, each time, has seen “a noticeable change in the atmosphere and circumstances.” He said curses are the only explanation for “certain sicknesses, diseases, and even death that comes upon very anointed and pure‐hearted people.”

A companion book written by Malone—titled Portals to Cleansing: Taking Back Your Land from the Hands of the Enemy (Vision Life Publications, 2002)—is sold separately from the kit. It promises to teach readers the “keys to reclaiming [their] land, home, possessions and animals from the power of Satan and his demonic forces.” (See the book and kit at: www.elijahshopper.com.) The book recommends holding a communion ceremony at the center of a property—where family and friends gather inside a circle drawn on the ground with anointing oil—then burying the unused bread and juice or wine.

After following the book’s advice, Matthew Spencer posted a review on Amazon.com saying that his home had a new “peace” and “lightness of spirit.” Spencer said, “I no longer feel uneasy walking through the house in the dark. Honestly, it is a night and day difference.”

Marcia Montenegro, author of the book Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids (Cook/Life Journey, 2006) and founder of the Web site “Christian Answers for the New Age,” however, said Christians don’t need to worry about curses since they aren’t emphasized in the Bible. Even if curses were a threat, though, she thinks the kit would be powerless against them.

“How is that going to remove curses?” said Montenegro, a former professional astrologer and occult practitioner who converted to Christianity. She told the Journal that the kit has more in common with an occult worldview, comparing the anointing oil and wood stakes to “amulets”—objects that occultists believe have powers to protect them from evil, disease, or other harm.

“[With the kit,] it’s like you’re engaging in the occult to protect yourself from [the occult],” Montenegro said, adding that occult practices are banned by the Bible in Deuteronomy 18:10–12. She believes that a biblical response to threats is prayer to God—which goes straight to the source of divine power—rather than relying on magic charms. “What happened to regular prayer?” she asked.

Amulets have a long history, according to Dr. Ron Rhodes, founder and president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries in Frisco, Texas, and author of New Age Movement (Zondervan, 1995). The ancient Babylonians, for example, wore cylinders that were supposed to ward off evil spirits, Rhodes told the JOURNAL.

Today, New Agers wear crystals to ward off negative energies. The purpose of amulets—like all occult charms—is to harness and manipulate the power of a deity or the forces of nature, according to Rhodes. He sees this as the purpose behind the property dedication kit.

“It is definitely an example of paganism making its way into the church,” he said.

Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil. Another top‐selling product for the Elijah List is “Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil,” which is supposed to give visions of the heavenly realm. Sold by Tom Panich of Vancouver, Washington, it’s made with a base of virgin olive oil and six fragrances that are mentioned in the Bible: calamus, cassia, frankincense, myrrh, Rose of Sharon, and spikenard. A half‐ounce sells for $12.

Anointing oil often has been used by Christians on sick people—along with prayer—in accordance with a Scripture passage, James 5:14–15. Christians historically did not view the oil as having any special power, however; they saw its use simply as an act of faith in God. They also did not use the oil to induce visions or cleanse homes from evil, as it is used in the apostolic‐prophetic movement.

In this movement, different brands of oil are depicted as “anointed” and, therefore, as more powerful than other “non‐anointed” oils. For example, in the Elijah List’s first advertisement for Third Heaven Vision Anointing Oil, sent on March 22, 2004, Shultz said, “We’ve carried different anointing oils in the past. But I always try to carry anointing oil with true anointing on it. This oil fulfills that anointing ‘standard.’”

Panich—a graduate of Norvel Haye’s New Life Bible College in Cleveland, Tennessee—claims that, in 2003, God told him to make the oil. Panich said, later, he was in the shower one day when he was hit with “a lightning bolt of God’s Glory,” and the Holy Spirit gave him the name, “Third Heaven Vision.”

Panich said, “Every time I mix up a batch [of the oil], a strong anointing hits me and I shake vigorously…Also, on the occasions that I have put a full box (144 bottles) of the anointing oil in the hands of two separate strong intercessors, they have been hit by the power and anointing of the Lord, almost to the point of falling to the ground.”

Panich also recommends that the anointing oil be poured over the wood stakes from Malone’s property dedication kit, something Panich said he has tried. “After I drove the first stake into the ground, I felt the Presence of the Lord come across the yard, hit me, and then I almost fell over,” he wrote on the Elijah List (Oct. 16, 2006).

Such descriptions of anointing oil (as having magical power) concern Montenegro. She said that it’s one thing for Christians to use the oil symbolically, “but it’s another thing if you think that the oil itself is somehow going to magically protect you,” she said. “To think that an object in and of itself has power is [to think according to] an occult worldview.” Such a use of anointing oil reminds Montenegro of the New Age practice of burning sage to cleanse and bless houses, she said.

Dream Cards. The Elijah List also sells “Dream Cards,” created by Barbie Breathitt of “Breath of the Spirit Ministries,” based in North Richland Hills, Texas. The laminated cards contain common dream symbols—such as numbers, colors, and animals—and their interpretations. They are sold for $10 each or in sets of 6 and 12—for $50 and $96, respectively.

Breathitt’s Dream Cards are endorsed by Patricia King, the founder of Extreme Prophetic Television with Patricia King—a half‐hour program featuring well‐known “prophets” that airs on Canada’s Miracle Channel.

“So many believers are having significant dreams but do not always understand the significance of the symbols within them,” King said. “Barbie Breathitt has done a marvelous job of preparing dream cards as a tremendous tool to help this process.”

Besides dream interpretations, one of the cards lists colors and musical keys that are supposed to bring healing to specific body parts. The use of music and colors for healing is also promoted in occult circles, as on New York psychic Ellie Crystal’s Web site (http://www.crystalinks.com/colors.html).

Rhodes said that dream cards that are similar to Breathitt’s are common in New Age stores: “The idea that it [dream interpretation] is penetrating the Christian church is kind of scary,” he said, adding that this represents a growing acceptance of mysticism among Christians.

Rhodes admits that the Bible records times when God’s people, like Daniel, interpreted dreams. He says that in those cases, however, they always made it clear that God gave them the interpretations, not dream cards.

Montenegro, who knew dream interpreters before she became a Christian, said that the assignment of meanings to symbols is subjective. “Who’s going to say what represents what? You can make anything be a symbol for anything,” she said, adding that the people she knew couldn’t agree on the meanings of symbols.

Besides being a waste of time, dream interpretation can encourage egotism, according to Montenegro. “If you start focusing so heavily on your dreams and think everything has a meaning, it leads to self‐ absorption,” she said.

Prophetic Worship CDs. Another growing industry is “prophetic” worship CDs—combinations of music, teachings, and prophecies that are supposed to bring healing, visions, and supernatural encounters just by listening to them. Many of the CDs are recorded in live settings, where the musicians and “prophets” perform spontaneously, without preparation. They, allegedly, are taken over by the Holy Spirit—composing music and lyrics that come from the “throne room of God.”

One of these CDs, sold by the Elijah List for $15, is called Invitation to Intimacy. It was recorded by James W. Goll, the cofounder of Encounters Network in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while he was “caught up into another realm,” according to the advertisement. The CD contains over an hour of “prophetic, spontaneous worship and teaching with keyboard and instrumentation in the background.”

Divine encounters are offered by Ryan Wyatt’s CD, titled The Overshadowing. Wyatt—founder of Abiding Glory Ministries in Seymour, Tennessee—urges his listeners to “sit back and relax as you are taken into the Open Heavens and experience Visions of God! Rest under the wing of God as He overshadows and saturates you with His thick, weighty, intoxicating presence!”

CDs that offer physical healing include one by “prophetic revivalist” Matt Sorger of Seldon, New York, titled Healing in His Wings. The advertisement says the CD combines instrumental music and many other “heavenly sounds, healing scriptures, spontaneous healing prayers and prophetic song.” It claims to be a “powerful combination of both the biblical healing word and the manifest healing presence of Christ.” Another CD by Canadian “prophet” Todd Bentley, titled The Voice of Healing, promises to “bring the transferable, tangible healing anointing and atmosphere to your home, hospital room, or healing service.”

The concept of music or teaching that is composed directly by the Holy Spirit alarms Rhodes. “That whole idea assumes a direct pipeline to God,” he said, adding that if someone claims to receive revelation from God, then it needs to be perfectly consistent with the Bible. “But oftentimes it’s not,” he said.

Rhodes also objects to the idea that an anointing can be transferred through a CD, saying, “There is definitely a pagan connection there—a transference of anointing or power or energy.”

Rhodes said that New Agers also have released music they claimed was inspired by the Holy Spirit, but they redefined the Holy Spirit in non‐Christians terms—as a nonpersonal force rather than as one of the three Persons of the Godhead. In the same way, people in the church sometimes redefine the Holy Spirit, Rhodes added. “Just because someone is talking about the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean it’s the Holy Spirit you and I know from the Bible,” he said.

Hocus Focus. Rhodes suspects that many of the people who sell dream cards, prophetic music, and similar products are motivated by a love of money—something the Bible warns against in places such as 1 Timothy 6:10. “People are capitalizing on, and ripping off, gullible people,” he said.

Rhodes believes the biggest danger for Christians, however, is not being conned out of cash, but being deceived by a magical worldview that diverts their focus. “Their attention is being taken off of God and put onto objects and potions,” he said.

Holly Pivec holds an M.A. in Christian apologetics from Biola University and is the managing editor of Biola Connections. She has a blog at spiritoferror.wordpress.com, which examines the apostolic and prophetic movement.


Why was King David Punished for Taking a Census?

CRI-Blog-Hanegraaff, Hank-David Census

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah” (2 Sam. 24:1).*

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel (1 Chron. 21:1).

Q: Did God tell David to take a census and then punish him for it? Why?

Hank Hanegraaff: We have to look at this in context. I mean in the context of all of Scripture, because that passage is cited at different places in the Bible. If you look at 2 Samuel, you’ll find that God told David to take a census (2 Sam. 24), and if you look at Chronicles, it says Satan incited David to take a census (1 Chron. 21). The passages demonstrate that although Satan incited David, ultimately it was God who allowed Satan to carry out the provocation. Satan’s design was to destroy David and to destroy the people of God in the process. But it was God’s plan, and it was His purpose to humble David, and then to teach his people a valuable lesson.

Here’s what’s going on. Instead of trusting solely on God, David had begun to trust in his military might. David himself—you see so clearly in context—has a sense of guilt, there’s also an uneasiness on the part of his general Joab, and that indicates that they were both well aware that they were on dangerous ground in taking the census. So they already knew that to fall for the provocation of Satan was to distrust God. They knew that this was against the very command of God, and yet, they failed the test, because in the end they wanted to depend on the arm of flesh as opposed to depending on the arm of God.

Q: David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), and this was stated in his early life; however, yet later in his life he sins dispassionately, one example being the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam. 11; cf. 1 Kings 15:3 and Psalm 51). At the end of his life was he still a man after God’s own heart?

Hank: I don’t think there’s any question about it. He’s Israel’s quintessential king, he’s a man after God’s own heart. That is not because he doesn’t sin. It is because he desires fellowship with his heavenly father and therefore confesses his sin, most notably in Psalm 51 where he says “Have mercy on me, O God | according to your unfailing love | blot out my transgressions | Wash away all my iniquity| cleanse me from my sins” (vv. 1-2). And he asks God to restore to him, grant to him a willing spirit and the joy of his salvation. “Create in me,” he says, “a pure heart, O God | and renew a steadfast spirit within me. | Do not cast me from your presence | or take your Holy Spirit from me. | Restore to me the joy of my salvation | and grant a willing spirit to sustain me” (vv. 10-12) And then he says “Then I will teach transgressors your ways | and sinners will turn back to you. | Save me from blood-guilt, O God, | the God who saves me, | and my tongue will sing of your righteousness” (vv. 13-14).

David was well aware that he not only had an affair with Bathsheba, but as a result of that affair he had to have Uriah killed on the battlefront. So he had blood on his hands and this was pointed out to him in no uncertain terms when Nathan pointed a boney finger at him and said “You are the man…You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own” (2 Sam. 12:7, 9). And Nathan used an illustration to get through to David, who was living in denial with respect to his own sin. And this was not even the greatest of his sins. I mean, it was a great sin, but there were many other great sins in David’s life, including the census that he took, demonstrating that he was leaning on the arm of flesh rather than on the arm of God.

David is not just anyone, he is the leader of God’s people and therefore his responsibilities and his judgment is a stricter judgment, very much like what James says about teachers. “Not many of you should be teachers because in teaching there is a stricter judgment” (Jas. 3:1). So David sinned horribly, but he had a heart that panted after God “as a deer pants after streams of water” (Psa, 42:1).

For further related study, see the following equip.org resources:


Taming Bible “Discrepancies” (Rachel Ramer)

Presumed Innocent Until Proven Guilty (H. Wayne House)

Does Satan Have Access to Our Minds? (Hank Hanegraaff)


New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (B106) by Gleason Archer

Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority (B2023) by Jonathan Morrow

The Covering: God’s Plan to Protect You from Evil (B665) by Hank Hanegraaff

* All Scriptures cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984).

This blog adapted from “Did God tell David to take a census and then punish him for it?” and “Science Affirm Intelligent Design and Q&A.”


Islam’s Two Qur’ans

Islam’s Two Qur’ans

Q: You are familiar with what happened here in Orlando, Florida at Pulse, the gay bar. What happened is the Islam community took a page add in the Orlando Sentinel apologizing and said they had nothing to do with that shooting. Part of the add went, “We affirm that the mass murder that took the lives of so many innocent people was a vicious aggressor whose actions do not represent Islamic values. The Qur’an says, ‘Do not be brutal or commit aggression, for surely God does not love aggressors’ (Surah 2:190)” Are they missing the part where the Qur’an says that all people must be converted to Islam and the teachings of Muhammad, and that all those who do not believe in him will be either eliminated or killed? Isn’t that too part of what Islam teaches?

Hank Hanegraaff: Well, absolutely. I think what’s important to realize is that you really have two Qur’ans as opposed to one. You have a “Meccan” Qur’an and you have a “Medinian” Qur’an. When Muhammad was in Mecca, he was a struggling itinerate preacher. He had a very long road to hoe. As a result of being a struggling preacher, he said things—part of the Qur’an—that were peaceful at the time because he was in a great minority. He had very few followers. When you get to Medina, Muhammad was a bloodthirsty warlord. Therefore, the tenor of what he communicated was far different from when he was a struggling preacher in Mecca.

So, you have two Qur’ans. You can pick and choose between the two, but if you want to know what Islam is all about, conceding that there are peaceful Muslims, you can never concede that Islam is a religion of peace. It has always advanced by the sword.

If you look at the history of Christianity it has advanced by the Word not the sword. You don’t find suicide bombers in the Christian faith. If you do, they are an aberration.

Inevitably, when you hear of a suicide bombing, you can immediately deduce that it must be Islamic. The fact remains that all of history has been a history of violent jihad within Islam. Look, for example, at Muhammad’s life and then the four Caliphs that followed him, a twenty-nine-year reign collectively. These were very violent years whereby Islam advanced by the sword. Look at the Umayyad Caliphate, again a bloody one, if there ever was one. The Abbasid Caliphate, often times considered the greatest of all of the Muslim caliphates, advanced by the sword. Look at the Ottoman or Turkish Empire throughout the world, and you find violence, destruction, and death. In some cases, there was complete genocide. Now you have the Islamic State following in the footsteps of previous Caliphates, calling themselves a Caliphate, wanting to unite all of Islam under their ghastly reign, and they are inspiring a whole host of people based not on some weird radical theology, but on the essence of what was taught to them and modeled for them by their leader Muhammad, modeled for them in the Qur’an, the Al-Hadith, the Surah, the Sunna, Sharia law, and interpreted even by those today who are the experts.

You find nothing in the history of Islam but a legacy that either says that you submit, and if you happen to live in a Muslim country then you become a dhimmi, which is a proposition whereby you are inferior and you have to pay a protection racket to stay alive, or you say the Shahada, which is the means of saying, “I have just converted to Islam,” or you face the sword. Those are the three options you have. What Muhammad taught and what Islam has always taught is that there are only two houses—the house of Islam and the house of war. If you’re not part of the house of Islam, you’re part of the house of war.

Now do I concede that there are many Muslims that do not understand their own legacy, their own history? Of course. But, this is very akin to what you ultimately put your trust in. The founder of Christianity or the founder of Islam, as two primary sources. You have the two fastest growing religions in the world, although Islam now is the fastest growing religion in the world. If you look at the legacy of Christ, He told to put up your sword, if you advanced by the sword, you will die by the sword (Matt. 26:52). Muhammad did exactly the opposite, beheading Jews—very much like the Islamic State does today. Calling People of the Book the vilest of all creatures (Surah 98:6).

There are Muslims that know what they’re doing, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) is a great example. They are simply playing off the ignorance of people within the American community who think that Islam is a religion of peace. It isn’t even a religion in the Western sanitized sense of the word. It is a socio-political economic system that rides on the rails of Sharia, and in the process subjugates people. Look at how women are subjugated under Islam and wonder how Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can speak of Islam in breathless terms with soaring rhetoric. You have Obama denouncing Scripture, but revering the Qur’an, and you find in that there is either duplicity or ignorance. I don’t know which but one or the other. This kind of duplicity is being communicated over and over again, particularly in the wake of the kinds of tragedies experienced in Orlando.

For further study, please see the following:

Will the Real Islam Please Stand Up? (David Wood)

Jihad, Jizya, and Just War (David Wood)

Muhammad and Messiah: Comparing the Central Figures of Islam and Christianity (David Wood)

The Rise of the American Jihadist (David Wood)

Ambiguous Islam (John Ferrer)

Submit or Die: The Geostrategic Jihad of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Part One) (Charles Strohmer)

Submit or Die: The Geostrategic Jihad of Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda (Part Two) (Charles Strohmer)

Did Muhammad Believe in Women’s Rights? (Mary Jo Sharp)

Blog adapted from the July 8, 2016 Bible Answer Man broadcast.


First Fruits, Tithes, and Revering the Lord

Hanegraaff, Hank-First Fruits, Tithes,

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine” (Prov. 3:9-10)*

Q: Quite a few pastors today are asking for firstfruits, which is an offering that is above the tithe and regular offerings. Sometimes they ask for a whole week’s salary. I know under the Mosaic Law there was firstfruits, but is that for today?

Hank Hanegraaff: We should not understand firstfruits in the sense which it is being used by certain televangelists. You know the Rod Parsley and Paula White types of the world. That’s just sheer manipulation.

First of all, we do not go back to types and shadows when the substance has come. I think a lot of people have no clue about biblical typology, and how the types and shadows are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

There is certainly is a sense in which we want to give our first fruits to the Lord as designated by the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 9:6-15; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; Rom. 12:8). And we also have to realize that the tithe in the Old Testament meant something, it was a way of demonstrating your reverence for the Lord. And we are, according to Moses in the Old Testament to revere the Lord our God always. So learning to reverence the name of God is a timeless principle as crucial today as was in the days of Moses. And I think it’s very important to learn through tithing how to give.

Q: What about Proverbs 3:9-10?

Hank: I think certainly when you look at Proverbs 3:9-10 you see that if you give that God is going to reward you for your giving. I think that principle is important. Again, what you are doing when your honoring the Lord with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your crops, then “your barns are going to be filled to overflowing, you vats will brim with new wine.” It’s true. When you “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6). If you do that, you will be blessed.

Now that blessing does not mean you are going to be rich. If you trust in the Lord, God will be your source and your provision. He will give you everything that you need.

For further study, please access the following equip.org resource:

Is the tithe for today? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What is the Biblical View of Wealth? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Does the Bible Teach about Debt? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Tithing: Is it in the New Testament? (Revisited) (Elliot Miller)

Short-Term Recession of the Long Winter? Rethinking the Theology of Money (William F. High)

What is the Significance of Biblical Typology? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity in Crisis 21st Century: Wealth and Want (Hank Hanegraaff)

Christianity Still in Crisis: A Word of Faith Update (Bon Hunter)

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984) unless noted.

Blog adapted from Is the giving of first fruits for today?


Jesus Christ: Fully Divine, Fully Human, One Person.

Hanegraaff, Hank-Jesus Christ Fully Human Fully Divine

Q: I was talking to a friend about the two natures of Jesus Christ. He was telling me that Christ had a human spirit and a divine spirit. Does Christ have two spirits or just one?

A: Remember that Jesus Christ was one person with two natures—fully man and fully God. What does it mean to be fully man? When a woman gives birth, she gives birth to a body/soul unity. Jesus Christ was fully man. We also recognize from Philippians that He was not divested of a single attribute of deity. So, in the incarnation, while He took on the limitations of humanity, He was fully and completely divine.

How that is communicated, I think, is most safely put in the Creed of Chalcedon or in some of the other biblical creeds, like the Creed of Athanasius. This is important in that the church fathers wanted to codify this in language that’s consistent and correct.

There is a mysterious aspect to it; therefore, the language is important. We recognize even with the language that we don’t fully comprehend it, but this is our apprehension of God’s condescension in the pages of Holy Writ. I think we need to be very careful with the language; therefore, once again, I’ll refer you to the creeds that say,

One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledge in two natures…the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son.1

I don’t know if I can say it any better than that. From a historic Christian standpoint, therefore, we are well served to emulate the language of the creeds in communicating what it means that we have one person with two natures fully God and fully man.

For further related study, please access the following:

Does the Bible Claim Jesus is God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Jesus Claim to be God? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What Credentials Back Up Jesus’ Claim to Deity? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is the Incarnation Incoherent? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Deity vs. Humanity A Closer Look at Philippians 2:6-7 (Kristen Forbes)


  1. Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes, sixth edition, vol. II (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House) 62

Blog adapted from “Did Christ have two spirits or just one?”


Apostles, Prophets and Aberrant Doctrine

Pivec, Holly-Apostles, Prophets, Aberrant Doctrine

Article: JAF075 | Author: Holly Pivec

A book review of Understanding the Fivefold Ministry by Matthew D. Green, editor (Charisma House, 2005).

This review first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 1 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

Advocates of the growing, controversial New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement believe that God is raising up modern‐day apostles and prophets to lead the church in the end times. They believe that such apostles and prophets will have great authority, supernatural power, and divine revelation to defeat demonic principalities, convert nations to Christ, and establish God’s kingdom.

A central teaching of the movement, called “fivefold ministry”—based on Ephesians 4:11–13—is that God has given the church five ongoing governmental offices: those of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Two of those offices, apostles and prophets, have been ignored since the first century, according to the movement’s advocates.

This oversight is the subject of Understanding the Fivefold Ministry, edited by Matthew D. Green (an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God denomination and the managing editor of Ministries Today magazine), with a foreword written by Jack W. Hayford (president of the Foursquare Church International and senior editorial adviser to Ministries Today). More than twenty Pentecostal and charismatic leaders contributed chapters to the book, including C. Peter Wagner (former professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and a leader of NAR, Ted Haggard (former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals), and J. Lee Grady (editor of Charisma magazine).

Written for a lay‐level readership, the book has six sections: one on each of the five offices and a final section with a self‐test to help readers find their place in the fivefold ministry. Its purpose, according to Hayford, is to “contribute something of substance” to a subject that he believes has been treated recklessly, with many “apostles” and “prophets” becoming preoccupied with “power and position.” Hayford says he hopes the book will refocus the movement on the “servant leadership” that Jesus, the giver of the five “gifts of leadership,” modeled (foreword, p. xi‐xiii). The book does stress the importance of humility among apostles and prophets, but it fails to make a solid, biblical case for the basic issue of the continuation of those offices.

The Case for Modern Apostles and Prophets. Few Christians will object to its chapters on evangelists, pastors, and teachers, so this review will focus on the chapters on apostles and prophets. Understanding the Fivefold Ministry presents two main arguments for the continuation of these offices.

First, it claims that Scripture gives no indication that these offices will cease. Second, it claims that there are contemporary Christians who have all the characteristics of the New Testament apostles, which Green lists in the first chapter as humility and servanthood, the equipping of others for effective ministry, a dramatic call from God, unique giftedness, signs and wonders, and sound theology.

Grady finds both arguments compelling. In his chapter “Stuck on Titles?” Grady says that the question, “Are there apostles today?” is “dumb…since the Bible never says the ministry of apostles would vanish before Christ’s return, and there are so many gifted people functioning in this vital role today” (193).

It is odd, however, that Grady would call this question “dumb,” when, before this movement’s rise in the 1980s, almost all Protestants viewed the office of apostles as one that belonged to the first century. Wayne Grudem, for example, argues in his book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Crossway, 1988) that the purpose for which Jesus called apostles (to found the church, which included writing Scripture) and the criteria for being an apostle (having seen the resurrected Christ and being appointed by Him) limit the office to the first century. He points to Ephesians 2:20 and Revelation 21:14 as support for the role of apostle as foundational. Grudem, however, allows that the word “apostle” may be used today in a lesser sense, to refer to missionaries and church planters. He argues against a modern office of prophet, contrasting Old Testament prophets—who spoke God’s very words and had tremendous authority—with Christians today who have the gift of prophecy, but do not hold that office and whose words are not authoritative.

Some of the book’s contributors seem to believe that modern apostles and prophets have extraordinary authority. Wagner, for example, does not address the authority of modern apostles and prophets in his chapter, but he does address it in his other books (including some that are recommended in Understanding the Fivefold Ministry). In Churchquake! (Regal Books, 1999), Wagner argues that the authority of the apostles cannot be questioned, even by the pastors or prophets under them. (One may wonder why this controversial teaching—held by many in the movement—is never mentioned in the book.)

Cindy Jacobs (co‐founder of Generals of Intercession, a prayer and spiritual warfare ministry in Colorado Springs, Colorado) argues that prophets have great authority to guide world leaders and nations. She compares modern “prophets,” such as Bill Hamon and Chuck Pierce, to Old Testament prophets, such as Elisha and Daniel (see her chapter in Understanding the Fivefold Ministry, titled “Prophets—A Voice to the Nations”).

Other contributors view modern apostles and prophets in the same lesser sense Grudem describes. Eddie Hyatt (author of 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity), for example, argues that modern prophets can’t prophesy God’s will, as Old Testament prophets did. In his chapter, titled “Putting Personal Prophecy to the Test,” Hyatt says that there is no example in the New Testament of a prophet being sought for guidance. He states, “In the New Testament, the indwelling Holy Spirit is the right and privilege of every believer, making the mediation of a special prophet unnecessary” (60). The purpose of prophecy today is to confirm and encourage—not to mediate or legislate, Hyatt says, citing 1 Corinthians 14:3.

Hyatt also opposes the idea that God is restoring apostolic government. His Web site features an article (available at http://www.eddiehyatt.com/article01.html) that states, “No such order or government is either delineated or prescribed in the New Testament. The New Testament writers, in fact, show very little concern for church offices and organizational structure.”

What the Book Doesn’t Say. One wonders why the book doesn’t clarify that some of its contributors are defining apostles and prophets in very different ways. Without these distinctions, readers may be misled to think that all the contributors are in agreement. Also, much of the aberrant teachings that contributors promote in the book, ironically, can’t be found in the book itself. They are found, rather, in books that the authors recommend for further study at the ends of the chapters.

For example, three different contributors—Jacobs, Green, and Grady—recommend Bill Hamon’s books, including Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God (Destiny Image Publishers 1997). This is troubling, since this book, which has a foreword written by Wagner, teaches that Christians need new doctrinal revelation. Hamon says, “He [Paul] also reveals that this anointing for divine revelation was not just given to the prophets of old but has now been equally given to Christ’s Holy Apostles and Prophets in His Church” (Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God, 140). Extrabiblical revelation in Hamon’s book includes the teaching that modern apostles and prophets are going to become so powerful that Christians who come into their presence with sin will be struck dead.

Dismissing Concerns. Despite the book’s silence on these controversial issues, Doug Beacham (executive director of church education ministries for the International Pentecostal Holiness Church) seems to be aware of them. In his chapter, titled “The Leadershift,” Beacham expresses concerns that modern apostles may use their authority to promote “authoritarianism” and that prophets may attempt to give new doctrinal revelation.

In response to Beacham’s concerns, Wagner agrees that preventing apostles from abusing their authority is a challenge. He reassures readers that the International Coalition of Apostles—a network of over 330 apostles led by Wagner—is addressing the issue.

Wagner’s response, however, is inadequate. Are Christians simply to trust that the International Coalition of Apostles will provide its own oversight? Some of these same “apostles” have already abused their positions by teaching that they have great authority and the ability to give new doctrinal revelation.

Wagner also agrees that Beacham’s concern about new doctrinal revelation is legitimate. Wagner says that, in the past, some “prophets” and “apostles” claimed to give revelation that “superceded” Scripture, such as the Book of Mormon. Wagner assures readers, however, that the apostles he knows “would tremble at the thought that new truth that they receive would in any way violate the integrity and the authority of Scripture” (31).

Wagner’s response, nonetheless, sounds hollow, since he currently promotes “apostles” and “prophets” who proclaim new doctrinal revelation. This includes Hamon, whom Wagner elsewhere calls one of his “closest prophetic colleagues” (Changing Church [Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2004], 11).

Final Thoughts. Some contributors, such as Haggard, commendably acknowledge abuses among modern “prophets,” such as proclaiming false prophecies and “explain[ing them] away” (35). Contributor R. T. Kendall (former pastor of Westminster Chapel in London) encourages teachers to promote the written Word over prophetic words. Kendall also urges readers to contend for sound doctrine—the faith “once for all” delivered to the saints, which is refreshing in light of the book’s endorsement of those who promote new doctrinal revelation.

Hayford’s endorsement of the book, likely and unfortunately, will cause many Christians to feel safe accepting the aberrant teachings associated with the NAR movement. It is troubling to see Hayford’s credibility used in this way.


Holly Pivec holds an M.A. in Christian apologetics from Biola University and is the managing editor of Biola Connections. She has a blog at spiritoferror.wordpress.com, which examines the apostolic and prophetic movement.


Does the Bible Permit Homosexual Activities?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Homosexuality Parameters

Q: Can you be a practicing homosexual in good standing with God? Was Leviticus 18 really condemning the ritualistic sex done by Baal worshippers? Was not this prohibition really against pagan idolatry as opposed to modern homosexuality?

A: I think the whole passage, Leviticus 18, has to do with unlawful sexual relations and not only talks about homosexual relationships, but also it says “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it” (Lev. 18:23).* Leviticus 18 is then talking about all kinds of sexual improprieties.

Leviticus 18 is not an isolated passage. If it were, maybe you could try to make the case that you can’t have homosexual relationships in the sense of worshiping at the altar of Baal or something like this; however, the Bible in general warns against these kinds of practices.

If you look at Romans, Romans aptly describes not only the perversion of these kinds of relationships but the penalties that are associated with them. When Paul says, “their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Rom. 1:26-27).

So I think the point is God has set parameters around our lives so that our lives would indeed be full. I don’t think that it takes someone with an advanced degree in physiology to appreciate the fact the human body is not designed for homosexual relationships.

Homosexuality is not an identity it’s a behavior. It’s a behavior that has associated with it all kinds of attendant problems. But, you know, you have to ask yourself the question: How could God have made this point any clearer? There’s not a single unambiguous passage in Scripture that affirms homosexuality, but what you find is the Bible universally condemns it. So the Bible is as clear as it can be on this particular subject.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Does Homosexuality Demonstrate that the Bible is Antiquated and Irrelevant? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Speaking of Homosexuality: A Christian Response to the Arguments of the Gay Rights Movement (Joe Dallas)

Answering the Gay Christian Position (Joe Dallas)

Is Arsenokoitai Really that Mysterious? Homosexual Sin in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (C. Wayne Mayhall)

Is There a Gay Gene? (Donald F. Calbreath)

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Robert A. J. Gagnon)

The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread The Bible (Joe Dallas)

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Blog adapted from “Can you be a Christian and actively practice homosexuality?


Michael Baigent and the Gnostic Tactic: Fantasy Posing as Fact

JAJ033-Michael Baigent and the Gnostic Tactic

Summary Critique: JAJ033 | by Paul Maier

Michael Baigent, The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover‐Up in History (HarperSanFrancisco, 2006). This review first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 30, number 1 (2007). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

A cavalcade of books on Jesus have appeared over the past fifty years that claim to give a new and more accurate portrait of Christ, but deliver a crude caricature instead. Jesus shows up as a Passover Plotter (H. Schonfield), a Radical Revolutionary (S. G. F. Brandon), a Mushroom Cultist (J. Allegro), Master Magician (M. Smith), Senescent Savior (D. Joyce), Happy Husband (Baigent, Lincoln, and Leigh), Divine Divorcee (B. Thiering), Subversive Sage (J. D. Crossan), and Misrepresented Mortal (D. Brown). After coauthoring Holy Blood, Holy Grail—the principal source for Dan Brown’s notions about Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdalene—in 1982, and losing his lawsuit against Dan Brown in 2006, Michael Baigent is back. His book The Jesus Papers: Exposing the Greatest Cover‐up in History unveils what might be called “the Surviving Savior.”

Why the Baigent book was published under the category of nonfiction rather than fiction is a mystery to me. Perhaps his publisher, HarperSanFrancisco, anticipated that reviewers would share this concern, since they refused to send out advance review galleys of the book, as is customary.

Sensationalism in these pages is rife from the start. The book jacket blares:

“What if everything we have been told about the origins of Christianity is a lie?”

“What if a small group had always known the truth and had kept it hidden…until now?” “What if there is incontrovertible proof that Jesus survived the crucifixion?”

Except for the last line, these what‐ifs seem so directly lifted out of another book of falsehoods, The Da Vinci Code, that Dan Brown might well consider a reverse lawsuit against Baigent! But he would also lose, since this has been the standard formula for pulp fiction about Jesus ever since the Gnostics invented the genre in the second century A.D. In fact, all of the books with caricatures of Christ that are spawned today on a conspiracy‐happy public merely demonstrate that Gnosticism, the earliest Christian heresy, is alive and well in the twenty‐first century.

Author of the Arcane. Born in New Zealand in 1948, Michael Baigent emigrated to England in 1976, where he received an M.A. in mysticism and religious experience from the University of Kent. In the years since his 1982 best‐seller, Baigent has traveled throughout the Mediterranean world, hobnobbed with antiquities dealers and private collectors, searched excavations and tunnels for lost documents and hidden archives, and zealously pursued his attempts to rewrite the history of Jesus. Even the flap copy of his latest book deems him “a leading expert in the field of arcane knowledge,” which serves as a forewarning of the repackaged Gnosticism that lies at the heart of the book’s thesis.

However preposterous many of his claims, Baigent does hold the reader’s attention as he snakes his way through hidden tunnels and ancient passageways. His descriptions of the historical and cultural settings in the ancient world are largely on‐target. He offers colorful anecdotal material about his research, and no less than fifty‐five color photographs illuminate these pages, although most of them have absolutely nothing to do with the book’s basic theses.

Despite his literary flair, Baigent fails the test of serious scholarship. The book is filled with hypotheses that turn into “facts,” conjectures that reflect creative imagination rather than hard evidence, hearsay in place of primary sources, and sensationalism in place of sense. At times he is honest enough to frame his theories in the form of a question, for example, “Could Jesus have?” or “Might Jesus have?” In the case of one impossible scenario on what Jesus was doing in Egypt, Baigent admits he is “indulging in pure speculation” (p. 265). This should have been the subtitle of the book itself!

Most scholars try to curb their natural biases as much as possible in the interest of conveying the truth. Not so Michael Baigent. Early on, he refers to “the myth about Jesus Christ” (14). He later mentions “the Vatican and its relentless need to protect its fraudulent picture of Christ and Christianity” (88). He states, “Our New Testament gives us a sanitized, censored, and often inverted view of the times” (63), and again, “Certainly the New Testament is bad history. This is impossible to deny. The texts are inconsistent, incomplete, garbled, and biased” (123). Baigent’s formula is obvious: in order to clear the way for his weird (at places grotesque) theories—all of which are opposed by the New Testament’s sober record—he must first blast away the biblical bases. This is the common strategy of all radical revisionists, biblical or secular: attack the opponent’s sources.

“Amazing” Allegations. The basic scenario proposed in The Jesus Papers runs as follows. Jesus spent much of His youth in Egypt (rather than Galilee), where He learned religious mysticism and incorporated it into His teachings. Later, when He changed water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana, the event itself was to celebrate His own marriage to Mary Magdalene, whose subsequent leadership in the church is cited in the Gnostic gospel bearing her name. On Good Friday, Jesus survived His own crucifixion, assisted by close friends and in collusion with Pontius Pilate. He was taken down from the cross, still alive, and placed in an empty tomb. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus came by night with medicines, revived Him, and removed Him from the tomb.

Baigent is not dogmatic about what happened next, but speculates that Jesus and His wife went to Egypt, where they settled in or around the Temple of Onias, some twenty miles from today’s Cairo. Troubles that arose there around A.D. 38 caused Jesus and Mary to go perhaps to Narbonne in southern France, where some other Jewish families claimed Davidic descent.

These wild claims have not a spark of supporting evidence. Let us dismantle them one by one. For years, imaginative authors have had young Jesus saddled with a case of wanderlust and traveling everywhere from Egypt to India, without a shred of evidence, when in fact, He grew up in Galilee. Later, at Cana, Jesus and His disciples were specifically invited to the wedding feast (John 2:2), a verb hardly used for one’s own wedding! There is not a scintilla of evidence in any ancient (even Gnostic!) source that Jesus married anyone, let alone Mary Magdalene. Jesus would have been a perfect example for St. Paul to include in 1 Corinthians 9:5, where he lists Peter and others who are in the marital category, but Jesus clearly is not listed. Furthermore, on Good Friday, how could Jesus provide for His mother Mary, but fail to do so for his wife, if that’s what Mary Magdalene was, when she too was standing at the foot of the cross? Mary Magdalene obviously was no “Mrs. Jesus.”

Pontius Pilate never could have been involved in any plot to save Jesus after publicly condemning Him to the cross. Such a scheme would have been far too dangerous politically for any Roman governor, especially one who already had a record of turbulence with his Jewish subjects, as did Pilate; moreover, he had no motive for doing this, despite Baigent’s unconvincing efforts to find one.

Finally, that Jesus truly died is beyond debate. The Romans were deadly efficient at crucifixions, and victims did not escape by feigning death or indulging in charade. The pike piercing Jesus’ heart area was the executioners’ final gesture to make doubly sure of His death.

One wonders if Baigent is not using the fanciful events and locations he conjures up for Jesus as an excuse to take the reader on long deviations from any serious presentation on his alternate Jesus. Endless pages are devoted to a travelogue of the author’s explorations in Africa, Israel, and Italy, meeting mysterious people, climbing mountains, or spelunking through caverns and tunnels without Jesus once being mentioned. The truest statement in the entire book comes after a long section that has nothing to do with Jesus: “These matters may seem far too arcane to have any relevance whatsoever to our story, which, after all, concerns Jesus and the source of his teaching” (208).

A Catalogue of Errors. The listing that follows should not be regarded as nitpicking on the part of a jaundiced reviewer, but rather as a sad commentary on Baigent’s sloppy scholarship and his publisher’s editorial failures. Baigent claims that the following italicized statements are true:

The first‐century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus “defected to the Roman side” during the Great Jewish War with Rome, committing “treachery against his own people” (34). In reality, however, Josephus was a commander of Jewish forces in Galilee and fought against the Romans until captured by them; he did not defect, and was not a traitor.

In A.D. 68, “Nero was murdered. After him, two emperors came and went in quick succession” (49). In fact, however, Nero committed suicide, with the assistance of a faithful servant, and it was not two but three emperors who quickly succeeded Nero: Galba, Otho, and Vitellius.

“So far as can be ascertained, the marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias took place in A.D. 35. Hence John the Baptist was executed in A.D. 35. So Jesus must still have been alive at this date” (52). He certainly was, as the resurrected Lord, but the rest of this chronology is as much as six years in error, and is shared by no knowledgeable scholar on earth.

Constantine, the first Christian emperor “was only converted to Christianity himself on his deathbed” (88). This is totally false! Constantine was a proven (though controversial) Christian for more than 25 years before his death. He was baptized on his deathbed, but only because people in those days had the strange idea that, since baptism wiped people’s slates clean of sin, people should do all of their sinning ahead of time, and only then receive baptism so that they could go to heaven with a clean passport!

“We can be certain of only one thing: wherever it was that Jesus lived [during His ‘silent years’ as a youth], it could not have been in Israel” (133). All evidence supports the fact that young Jesus grew up in Galilee (Israel), and nowhere else.

“Unfortunately, there is no evidence whatsoever that Nazareth even existed in Jesus’s day” (134). Aside from the obvious references to Nazareth in the Gospels, archaeologists at Caesarea recently discovered a list of first‐century synagogues, including one in Nazareth.

“…the death of the famous Cleopatra in 60 B.C.” (141). Cleopatra instead died in 30 B.C.

The “Gospel of Mary of Magdala…like the Gospel of Thomas…has as much claim to validity as the Gospels in the New Testament” (241). This statement is an outrage. All apocryphal, Gnostic writings such as these were authored later than were the New Testament Gospels, are derivative of the true Gospels, are not eyewitness documents, have false authorship attached to them, and contain grotesque addenda that are incompatible with Christianity. The Gospel of Thomas, for example, claims that women will not inherit the Kingdom of God!

The Dead Sea Scrolls are virtually “early Christian documents” (262). In actuality, no relationship to Christianity is contained in them.

“The Dead Sea Scroll materials…reveal a long hidden reality, embarrassing to both Judaism and Christianity, a reality that had long been manipulated by a small group of scholars” (247). Now that all Scroll texts have been made available to the worldwide scholarly community, this tired old calumny can be put to the rest it so richly deserves.

Such disregard for factual truth on the part of both author and publisher is more than evident in this abbreviated listing. This is not to say that all of Baigent’s stinging criticisms of Christianity are unwarranted. For parts of church history, particularly the medieval period, they are justified indeed, as church historians long have admitted.

The “Jesus Papers”? But whence the title of this book? The author reserves that surprise for a concluding chapter. Baigent claims to have learned from an unnamed Israeli friend, during one of Baigent’s many trips to Israel, about two papyrus documents in Aramaic that the friend said he had discovered in the early 1960s while excavating the cellar of a house he had bought in the Old City of Jerusalem. The house was in the area where the temple was situated in early Christian times.

The documents were two letters to the Jewish Sanhedrin written by someone who called himself bani meshiha – “the Messiah of the Children [of Israel?]” (a designation that does not appear in the New Testament Gospels). The writer seemed to be defending himself against a charge that he had claimed to be “son of God.” In the first letter, the writer said that he did not mean to suggest he was “God,” but that the “Spirit of God” was upon him, and that he was an adopted “son of God” in a spiritual sense. Baigent does not tell us what the second letter purportedly contained.

As Baigent proceeds with his story, it becomes even more sensational: when archaeologists Yigael Yadin and Nahman Avigad supposedly confirmed the authenticity of these documents, Pope John XXIII allegedly asked that they be destroyed. Baigent’s friend refused to do this, but promised not to release them for 25 years. After that quarter‐century had long expired, the friend told Baigent that releasing the documents would only create problems between the Vatican and Israel, and inflame anti‐Semitism. He did, however, purportedly show Baigent the two documents, both about 9 x 18 inches large and framed under glass.

I do not intend to impugn Baigent’s basic honesty; however, this seems to be part of the same song sung throughout the book. Every time some apparently important documents that could help prove Baigent’s theses appear, they are never either quoted for the reader or supplied to the scholarly world so that it could gauge their possible authenticity. The personalities involved are unnamed or they disappear into the thin air of the past, as do the documents themselves, leaving only the author’s hopes that they might be revealed in the future.

However “sensational,” then, I am totally unimpressed by these “Jesus papers.” The one message cited doesn’t at all sound like Jesus—He was never deferent to the Sanhedrin in this manner. The language instead sounds exactly like a liberal New Testament critic explaining “the son of God” designation today. In a city such as Jerusalem that seems to mushroom with forgeries, this appears to be more of the same, if the alleged documents even exist.

Baigent suitably summarizes the religious mysticism that he imposes on Jesus throughout (which Jesus supposedly learned in Egypt) in his explanation of Jesus’ statement, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). Baigent comments, “And how does one travel within? This much we know: by entering the silence. Jesus has returned us to the concept of incubation and the still, dark, silent underground crypts and caves where a seeker can be initiated into the world where the dead live—the Far‐World“ (228).

This, of course, is Michael Baigent at his purely autobiographical best. It is not Jesus of Nazareth.

Christianity rests on fact, not on fantasy, but Gnostic writers, now just as then, remain eager to superimpose their own image and fantasies onto the facts of history. The Jesus Papers is a prime example.

Paul L. Maier is the Seibert professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University and a best-selling author of books that correlate sacred and secular sources on Christianity. He also wrote, with Hank Hanegraaff, The DaVinci Code—Fact or Fiction? (Tyndale House).


When is it Proper to Tell Mormons the Truth?

JAM200-Mormon Tell Truth

Review: JAM200 | by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Book review: David L. Rowe, I Love Mormons: A New Way to Share Christ with Latter‐day Saints (Baker Books, 2005). This review first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 29, number 6 (2006). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

David L. Rowe, a professor at Salt Lake Theological Seminary and a Utah resident since 1975, has pooled his ministry experiences into a “how to” manual for Christians who are interested in sharing their faith with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints (LDS, Mormons). Rowe describes Mormons as having “their own culture, lingo, and worldview” (back cover).

There are positive aspects to I Love Mormons. The catchy title may prove to be a stumbling block, however, at least for some readers. Many Latter‐day Saints, after all, dislike being called “Mormons” and often complain that this term is only a nickname. The book’s subtitle, A New Way to Share Christ with Latter‐day Saints, may be problematic as well because many Latter‐day Saints think Christ already is the central figure of their religion. The subtitle also might be puzzling to Christians who have been witnessing to Mormons long before this book was published. Rowe’s “new” evangelism model centers on creating relationships with Mormons, which appears to be simply an offshoot of the “friendship evangelism” model that was popularized several decades ago. Is the subtitle implying that Christians who use the “old” model have failed to share their faith with Mormons? Or is it implying that those who use tactics other than relational evangelism hate Mormons, or that they have failed to “learn and respect LDS culture,” as the back cover puts it?

Rowe’s main point in the book is that Christians should avoid the “traditional way” of evangelism, which utilizes what he calls a “warrior saint” approach that uses “jousting games,” because it results in the three‐part sequence of “‘discussion,’ recoil, and shutdown” (17). He seems to jab mainly at the few vocal Christian street preachers who frequent Salt Lake City during the LDS Church’s general conferences, which are held twice a year. He wonders if these “wannabe zealots” may be exhibiting “unharnessed anger hurling imagined God‐bombs at people with a smug pride” (129). He adds, “Generally, ‘Bible bash’ evangelism with its heresy‐hunting rationalism simply squashes the life out of relationships and builds walls, not bridges” (154).

The impression Rowe gives, however, is that anyone who uses tracts or any other “confrontational” methods is not evangelizing using the recommended “wiser, gentler” tactic. If Rowe is merely trying to highlight the fact that Christians can be insensitive by cramming Bible verses down a Mormon’s throat and using inappropriate tactics, then we are in full agreement. Rowe does a disservice, however, to many Christians who practice bolder evangelistic methods while simultaneously exhibit‐ ing a sweeter spirit than those to whom he specifically refers.

Rowe states that Christians generally should not initiate theological discussions with Mormons, but he does not mean that we should not discuss doctrine. In fact, Rowe wants to hammer home” the idea that Christians “need to prayerfully seek and sensitively seize the doors of opportunity God grants us in which our theological knowledge truly counts” (68). We agree wholeheartedly; but there are occasions when there is not enough time to develop long‐lasting relationships, such as when sitting next to someone on a plane or talking to a clerk in a store. Do we set aside our sense of urgency to share important biblical truths merely because we do not have a relationship with the person? The mistaken message Rowe conveys—whether intentionally or unintentionally—is that successful evangelism can take place only after years of friendship.

Culture vs. Cult. One of the more controversial emphases in I Love Mormons is that Mormonism is a culture rather than a cult. Rowe practically apologizes for having his book listed under the category of “cults” that is printed above the barcode on the back cover. He writes, “As an author I have no control over this practice and the institutional bias that drives it. I’m arguing it’s high time we rethink this bias” (29).

This is where we have our sharpest disagreement with Rowe: Mormonism certainly has its own cultural characteristics, but this does not diminish the fact that Mormonism has characteristics that historically have warranted categorizing it as a cult. This designation historically has been applied to groups that insist that they truly represent Christianity while they deny or distort the basic biblical tenets that historically have defined Christianity. We should not intentionally use the designation “cult” as a pejorative, but it does apply to modern‐day Mormonism.

It may surprise some to know that LDS leaders have used this label to describe other groups. For instance, 10th LDS president Joseph Fielding Smith used it to refer to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‐day Saints (later changed to the Community of Christ) based in Independence, Missouri (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:284). Twelfth president Spencer W. Kimball described fundamentalist polygamists as cultists (Conference Report, October 1974, 5). Mormon apostle Bruce McConkie even went so far as to say that all Trinitarian Christians had a “false system of worship” with “a false Christ” and were therefore “a false church” and “a false cult” (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man, 48).

For years the word cult has clearly marked the boundary between orthodox and unorthodox groups. It has served as a warning sign to those who may not understand the sometimes confusing doctrines and ideologies of certain groups. Does it really serve the general public, or the Christian church for that matter, to insist that the designation does not apply to the LDS Church just because it might offend someone?

Is Mormonism Changing? Rowe believes that the LDS Church is moving “away from the unorthodox, radically Mormon claims we do not find in the Bible” (166). He insists that the “subject matter of these changes is not just trivial but deals with central, crucial teachings of the LDS Church.” To bolster his point, he compares the 1978 edition of the LDS Church manual Gospel Principles with the more current 1992 and 1997 editions. Rowe correctly notes that the rhetoric on doctrines such as the potential for men to become gods has been toned down.

We would like to share Rowe’s enthusiasm over these changes, but we cannot over‐ look the fact that Gospel Principles is a basic overview of LDS teachings that is used to instruct new converts and those who are investigating the church. The LDS Church often prints this manual in a new language even before they translate the complete set of the LDS standard into that particular language. It is meant to be an introduction to the Mormon faith, so it is not surprising that the LDS Church might deemphasize or even omit doctrines from the manual that might unnecessarily alarm potential converts. Church manuals meant primarily for the instruction of LDS members, on the other hand, fail to demonstrate a departure from Mormonism’s historically heretical positions.

For example, the idea that men may become gods still can be found in the Doctrines of the Gospel, Student Manual: Religion 430 and 431 (which carries a 2004 copyright date). The student manual cites President Spencer Kimball: “Man can transform himself and he must. Man has in himself the seeds of godhood, which can germinate and grow and develop. As the acorn becomes the oak, the mortal man becomes a god. It is within his power to lift himself by his very bootstraps from the plane on which he finds himself to the plane on which he should be. It may be a long, hard lift with many obstacles, but it is a real possibility” (52) (from The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 28).

We would love to see the LDS Church leadership cease promoting heretical teachings, but the evidence from LDS conference speeches and church manuals is not encouraging. Just because a doctrine is not being emphasized fully does not mean it is being denounced.

Shared Concern. Despite our disagreements with I Love Mormons, we do believe that Rowe has a genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of the LDS people. His understanding of the Mormon mindset and the LDS belief system is, for the most part, accurate. Readers who plan to move to Utah or who have LDS friends or relatives certainly will benefit from Rowe’s personal experience of living among the LDS people.

It is unfortunate that the book comes across as offering the only legitimate method to evangelize Mormons. Christians, of course, should treat Mormons respectfully, but we should never think that friendship, apart from the truth of the Word, will convert anybody. Despite its many good points, I Love Mormons seems to be too cautious in this department. We personally know far too many ex‐Mormons who, after being confronted with the doctrinal errors of Mormonism, became Christians because someone who barely knew them spent the time and effort to share the truth in love. Different people and different circumstances sometimes demand different methods of sharing God’s love with the lost.

Bill McKeever lives in Utah and is the founding director at Mormonism Research Ministry (MRM). Eric Johnson is an associate at MRM and teaches high school, college, and seminary classes in Southern California. Together they wrote Mormonism 101 (Baker, 2000).


Job and the Power of Satan

Hanegraaff, Hank-Job and the Power of Satan

Q: Does the Devil have creative powers? Does the enemy Satan have no powers to cause infirmities and the like? Yet in the Book of Job it seems like Satan has the power to cause storms or cause armies to go out and kill people, can you help me on this?

A: I think, first of all, that it is Satan inciting God. “Though you incited me against him,” against Job, “to ruin him without any reason” (Job 2:3)* is the retort of God when Satan appears again in chapter 2. This is by the power of God.

Certainly Satan can take the Sabeans or the Chaldeans and tempt them. We are well aware that Satan has the power to sit on our shoulders, whisper into our ears and tempt us to do all kinds of things. It is not the physical ear, but the ear of the mind. There is mind to mind communication that takes place. We do not know how that works anymore that we can explain how the mind can cause the physical synapses of the brain to fire; however, it is biblically incontrovertible that temptation through mind to mind communication takes place.

What’s going on here in the Book of Job is that God is permitting Satan to do what he’s doing.

Only God has creative power, and that’s why when the resurrection of Jesus Christ took place, the Lord was able to say, “a spirit does not have flesh and bone as you see that I have” (Luke 24:39). If Satan had creative power, he could have masqueraded as a flesh and bone substitute for the resurrected Christ. (If that is true about Satan, we would lose epistemic warrant for the central truth of Christianity.)

God can use Satan as His agent, but God is always the author. As I said so often, Satan is a lion on a leash the length of which is always determined by our Lord

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

 Does Satan Have Access to Our Minds? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is Satan Always the Cause of Sickness? (Hank Hanegraaff)

The Armor (Hank Hanegraaff)

Spiritual Warfare—God’s Way (Elliot Miller)

The Covering by Hank Hanegraaff

Spiritual Warfare in a Believer’s Life by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

This blog adapted from “How much power did Satan have in the book of Job?