Because I’ve been involved in online discernment for 17 years people ask me questions about the latest fads sweeping through the visible Church; likewise, my view on different movements or of someone’s teaching they find concerning. I’m often asked about theological cults such as Mormonism, Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel, New Apostolic Reformation (hyper-charismania), Progressive Social Justice “Christianity” a.k.a. “wokeness”, and lest we forget the demonic New Age/New Thought spirituality and occult practices that have wormed their way into churches.
In the past few years people have asked me about false teachers, i.e. wolves in sheep’s clothing, who have YouTube channels. Since YT’s popularity has expanded, people don’t want to be taken in by "Christians" who promote highly unorthodox views and conspiracy theories on their monetized channels to the undiscerning. Not surprisingly, some very vicious wolves have a substantial number of subscribers/likes/shares, so buyer beware!
This article is not about youtubers (more on them here). Instead, I’m going to address some of the concerns I hear from family and friends and questions that frequently show up on my social media comments, PMs and email. What I often do, if appropriate, is refer people to Research Papers I’ve authored and published over at CRN. When time allows, I respond.
Following, as best I can recall, are synopsized conversations I’ve had with professing Christians whose names will remain anonymous. But first these cautionary words from B.B. Warfield:
Helen & Evie
Sometime ago I received an email from Helen inquiring as to what she should do about her sister who had been “sort of” flirting with Mormonism for a few years. Helen was upset that Evie’s family had decided to jump in with both feet. In other words, she and her husband, Skip, who were members of a PCA church, had left their church to attend a Mormon church.
For over a decade Helen had shared with Evie the main reasons Mormonism is considered a theological cult. She wrote to ask my advice on how to address what had become a sticky situation without causing a family rift.
A bit of background. Helen’s is a close-knit family and the sisters frequently do things together. Their husbands play golf on Saturday’s and from time to time they meet at a pizza parlor to watch sports events. Occasionally, their teenage kids hang out. They trade off hosting holidays and often vacation together. So, there you have the nutshell version of Helen’s dilemma. My response is downstream.
Rose & the Prophetess
Now moving on to my friend Rose, who I’ve known for over a decade. Since I hadn’t talked to her for a while I called to catch up. During our call she mentioned that she and a woman from her church regularly get together for prayer. She shared that the woman often “prophecies” during prayer. The self-professed prophetess believes she hears directly from God and that He also speaks to her through dreams and visions. Rose believes God uses the prophetess to pass on vital info, sometimes having to do with future events. During one of their meetings the prophetess passed on a “word from the Lord” that later came to pass. One thing God told her that “came true” was that her oldest daughter, who had only been married a short while, would become pregnant before Christmas. On Christmas Eve Rose’s daughter announced that she and her husband were expecting. Rose shared a couple of other predictions her friend made that were in some cases on target and others where she was monumentally mistaken.
According to the Bible, prophets who claim to speak in the holy Name of God must be 100% accurate. Further, whatever the Lord tells someone must come to pass and the very words of God must be delivered from the prophet’s lips to the recipient’s ears.
Sidebar: If I were to meet the prophetess, I’d ask her three questions. 1. Who appointed you as a prophet? 2. Who are you accountable to? 3. When you get a prediction wrong, do you admit that the words you thought God spoke to you were not from Him, and humbly repent as the Bible commands you to do?
Anthony Wade reveals that NAR prophets use the unbiblical argument that you “can be wrong about hearing from the creator of the universe, as long as you were somehow sincere within the depths of your wickedly deceitful heart...A good tree (someone who is saved) cannot produce bad fruit (a false prophecy).”
Back to the subject at hand. Rose has no interest in hearing what God says in His Word about soothsayers (fortune tellers). I’ve offered to show her how modern day “prophets” twist Scripture into a theological pretzel to get people to believe that God speaks directly to them. Rose has not taken me up on my offer. She prefers focusing on the good they do by bringing positive uplifting messages from God to people in despair. Juxtapose this to the fact that she finds it troubling that I focus on the “negative” aspects of sign gifts in some of my articles for the simple reason that so much of what is done in this realm is based on deception.
Intrepid discerner Ken Silva was often dealt the “negative” card as well. Here’s his response:
God Gave Me A Peace About It
A longtime Facebook friend who has asked my advice on spiritual matters wrote to let me know that she had left her husband of 15 years. Since she brought it up, I thought she might want to discuss her reason for the split. “What caused the breakup?” I queried. “Adultery or abandonment?” Her answer surprised me. She wrote back that she left her high school sweetheart because he had become too conservative for her liking, and they could no longer have a civil conversation. Even though she had no biblical grounds, she clung to the myth that “The Holy Spirit gave me a peace about divorcing him.” I pointed out that God hates divorce, which is clearly taught in Scripture, and she came back with “I believe God’s will for me is to be happy.” I replied, “According to God’s Word, His will for you is to be obedient.” A few days later I received a PM letting me know that many of her Christian friends disagreed with me. “Your friends disagree with God, not me” I chided. Perhaps she chose not to include the scriptures I had provided showing that God hates divorce. But even if she had, progressives will water down and minimize the Bible’s plain teaching in order to appease the in-crowd. She ended any further dialogue with this zinger: “My advice to you is to lighten up – and quit being so legalistic. Don’t bother responding. I’m blocking you.”
My Facebook friend may have blocked me but it’s impossible to block the omnipresent Creator. How soon people forget that the most dangerous place for an unrepentant sinner is in the presence of God on Judgment Day, when He will pour out His wrath on those who stubbornly cling to their sin. Be forewarned: The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
George & Noah
While I’m on the subject of marriage, I’ll make this short, another longtime friend, George, mentioned that his buddy Noah, a professing Christian, divorced his wife because he fell out of love with her. When he had cast her off like an old suitcase, he quickly re-married. When I mentioned that he had no biblical grounds for divorce, George defended Noah’s decision. It hadn’t occurred to George that divorcing one’s spouse without biblical grounds is an egregious sin against God.
Several years have passed since Noah’s first marriage disintegrated. Not surprisingly he remains in rebellion against God. For George, his buddy’s happiness matters most. George admits that the way he often responds to messy situations comes from his subjective feelings rather than from objective truth, i.e. what he gleans from reading the Bible….which he admits he doesn’t often do. (Christians who don’t read/study the Bible…don’t have Christianity.)
Alexander Strauch made this observation about love:
What I have just described are self-professing Christians who reject the clear teaching of Scripture. In other words, the Bible is not their final authority when thinking through decisions. I could easily show them chapter and verse, to include the words our Lord spoke, to make my case only they would roundly reject it. Over the years I have gone toe to toe with progressive Christians and come to realize that what J. Gresham Machen said is true when he stated that “liberalism is totally different from Christianity, for the foundation is different. Christianity is founded upon the Bible. It bases upon the Bible both its thinking and its life. Liberalism on the other hand is founded upon the shifting emotions of sinful men.”
Progressive Christianity And Shifting Emotions
Progressivism is a lot like cancer. Once it shows up in one place in the Body of Christ it tends to spread all over. The deadly progressive cancer will travel to other sites in the body by metastasis until their very foundation is different from biblical Christianity. When you read a report that a Lutheran church hosted drag queen story hour during Sunday worship service (here), or that grown men wearing dresses are allowed to prance around “in garish, over-the-top outfits, sporting heavy makeup and fake breasts, while young children watch on” (here), or where a Texas church held a blessing for sexual deviants (here), then you become suspicious that, as the saying goes, something is rotten in Denmark.
Getting back to Helen and my promised response to her. When a Christian leaves the faith to join a cult as Evie and Skip did, Mat 18:15-20 tells believers how to biblically handle the situation. Per my advice Helen took step #1 and lovingly confronted them with their sin. She suggested that they spend a few hours pouring through the scriptures so that she could show them the differences between biblical Christianity’s Fundamentals of the Faith (essential doctrines) and official Mormon doctrine. When Helen had completed the task, the couple knew the truth. Even so, they dismissed the clear teaching of Scripture and chose the Mormon Church over a Bible teaching, gospel preaching Christian church.
Why did Evie and Skip choose a path that would lead them away from God? Because their kid's happiness mattered more to them than anything else. The kids had made friends at the Mormon Church, even joined the youth group, and they were unhappy about the possibility of leaving their new friends.
As for the PCA church, the church body completed the steps required of them in accordance with Matthew 18. In the end the members had no choice but to excommunicate that family.
What does the Bible say about self-professed Christians who intentionally abandon the faith? According to 1 John 2:19, a person who denies the basic fundamentals of the faith is no longer a Christian. Sadly, Evie and Skip are now apostate.
You cannot have it both ways. Either Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, as He claimed, or He is not. Jesus asked the Pharisees “Who do you say that I AM?” A Mormon would answer, “The spirit brother of Lucifer.”
If you understand nothing else about Mormonism brethren, understand this: Mormons deny the Deity of Jesus Christ. They believe that Jesus was a created being which is utterly demonic. For those reading this who are unfamiliar with Mormonism, let me be clear that this cult denies the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Thus, Mormons are not Christians, as they claim, they are out right heretics.
Allow Scripture To Speak For Itself
So, what should Helen do about her sister’s family, the ones she loves who chose to leave the Christian faith to join the LDS cult and in so doing have caused division in her family? In Romans 16:17-19 Paul addresses this situation thusly:
In his piece Discernment, Heresy and Prophecy, Mike Ratliff has this advice for the people I mentioned above who believe they are modern-day prophets who hear God speak to them directly, or others who have introduced unscriptural ideas concerning marriage. Mike writes, “Heresy is a choice, a deliberate decision to “seize” upon a particular teaching that is not orthodox.”
Mike urges us to know our enemies, especially our enemies inside the visible Church. “We must not waste time on apostates outside of the Church when we are focusing on those who are infiltrating the Church with false teaching hoping to ensnare people into heresies.”
False teachers are deceitful, warns Mike. “They secretly bring in their teachings by smuggling them in. These teachings are degrading in that they deny the Lord and His Work in one way or another and in so doing degrade and blaspheme Him. This could also take the form of an attack on the veracity of God’s Word.”
Summing up my discussions with the people I mentioned above, the word that springs to mind is diabolical. False teaching is diabolical. Anything the devil has his claws lodged into is destructive. As Mike brings to light, “It not only destroys right doctrine and the lives of its victims, but it also destroys the propagators themselves.” In other words, false teaching will ultimately destroy those who smuggle it into the Church!
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.