Letter to a pastor who turned to false teaching

This letter was requested to be made public for those dealing with similar situations. This was the result of a senior pastor shifting from scripture to follow a so-called prophet. After the false prophet came into the church, there was a major shift in direction and doctrine. I wrote this letter to plead with someone I counted as a friend to not abandon the scriptures. At the end of the letter there is a link. This is a response from someone in the organization where this ‘teacher’ came from. Someone high up in this organization demanded I submit to ‘their covering’. It’s a very disturbing perspective. This interaction took place in 2007.

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Dear Xxxxx,

I am writing this letter to you concerning some of the doctrinal issues we have discussed in the past. I would be very willing to meet face to face on this issue if you are interested but I will also understand if you are not. This is going to be a long letter and I only ask that you read it in its entirety even if your conclusion is that we are not in agreement. As I have observed the shift in the church over the last several months, I have tried to avoid the appearance of being disagreeable, yet I have also tried to be an influence to draw others toward scripture. I had hoped that you would see that many of the doctrines you have been open to are contrary to scripture and the problem would resolve itself, but this has not been the case. After seeing how multifaceted this doctrinal shift is, I realized that it is necessary to organize this in such a way that it can be addressed as a whole while also addressing specific areas that deviate from scripture.

There will always be minor points in which the church will disagree and these are not worthy of dividing over; however, when we see a mega-shift away from the heart of Christianity to another religion that poses as Christianity, it must be addressed. The scripture is absolutely clear that it is the responsibility of believers to address these types of errors. While I realize that scripture cannot be used to force others into conformity, it can be used to reveal what is true and what is false. My hope and prayer is that this letter will succeed in my goal of making it clear that there is indeed a difference between the doctrines being brought into New Freedom and the doctrine laid down by scripture.

There are two phases of deception – one is that of ignorance. When we overlook an important truth or we are unaware of the motives behind a false teacher, we can be led astray briefly; however, when the truth is revealed and we see the contradiction, God provides a way of escape. When the Word of God reveals truth, the moment of decision arrives and we must choose the truth, or the error. Unfortunately the well crafted error appeals so strongly to our desires that many will choose the error even when they know it is in contradiction with scripture. This ushers in the second phase of deception – willing participation. Both Romans 1 and 2 Thessalonians 2 address this truth. When someone willingly rejects the truth, God will give them over to deception. God never forces us into obedience but gives us what we desire – whether that is God or that which is contrary to God. As Christians, our responsibility is to present the truth so each person can decide whom they will follow.

Let me also affirm my love for New Freedom, its people and you as the pastor. It is a mistake to say that love must agree at all times; in fact, the person who truly loves is willing to risk rejection and wrath for the good of another. Proverbs teaches that open rebuke is better than secret love. The Bible also teaches that some will say “peace and safety” even when destruction is coming. To speak comforting, agreeable words as someone heads down the path of destruction is not love. If I did not have love for you and the church, I would sit silently and be in agreement with everyone. It would be much easier to go along with the direction of the church; however, that is a self-centered way of thinking.

New Doctrines and Philosophies

I have heard many things quoted from the pulpit by teachers who have been brought in and by the books you have recited and endorsed before the church that sheds light on where this shift is coming from.

We are like God?

One thing you quoted a couple of weeks ago was something we discussed face to face. In preparation for Lynn Reddick coming to the church, the church was asked to read the 2-Minute miracle. I pointed out a few of the problems I saw with this book. One specific problem I saw was Lynn’s quote:

Abraham called into existence the things that were not as though they were. That is how we are like God.

Again he stated:

God created the universe by speaking it into existence. Seven times He said, “Let there be…” and there was! This ability to speak things into existence is how we are like God.

When I showed these quotes to you in the book, you affirmed that Lynn would not be teaching this doctrine and if he did, you said, “He would be wrong”. He did indeed teach this doctrine and then you affirmed this before the church as being a word from God. A few weeks ago you said in a sermon that Kenneth Hagin had the best definition of faith you have ever read, “Faith is calling those things which do not exists as though they were”.

To fully understand Kenneth Hagin’s quote, we should take a moment to look at His view of man and God.

“The believer is as much an incarnation of God as Jesus Christ. … If we ever wake up and realize who we are, we’ll start doing the work that we’re supposed to do. Because the church hasn’t realized yet that they are Christ. That’s who they are. They are Christ.”

“[Man] was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority…God made us as much like Himself as possible…He made us the same class of being that He is Himself…Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God…[The] believer is called Christ…That’s who we are; we’re Christ”

“The Lord Himself taught me about prosperity. I never read about it in a book. I got it directly from heaven.

The last quote explains why so little of this type of doctrine is taught directly from scripture. This so-called direct revelation comes from the hearts of those who claim to be prophets and apostles; however, if they are truly of God, they MUST be in agreement with scripture or they are not of God. This is how we find our point of decision – does the teaching agree or disagree with scripture. Now, do we choose scripture or ‘the new revelation’? I would like to compare this doctrine to scripture and see if it measures up. The one thing we KNOW for certain is that the Bible is the revealed word of God. Therefore, we can measure the new revelations against what has already been revealed and see if they agree.

Let’s first look at the quote about speaking things into existence:

“Abraham called the things that do not exist as though they were – this is how we are like God.”

I find this quote disturbing because it completely re-writes scripture to fit the doctrine. This alone should eliminate the possibility that a teacher is of God. This is a re-wording of Romans 4:17:

(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed — God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

This passage cannot be misinterpreted, it has to be rewritten in order to fall into error. Abraham believed God and God is able to give life to the dead and God calls those things which do not exist as though they did. God, by His power is able to speak and create something out of nothing. No where do we see the power of words creating, but it is ALWAYS attributed to God’s power. Jeremiah 32:17 Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You. It is always God’s power. All things were created by Him, through Him and for Him.

Not one time does the Bible state that man has the power to create. By our tongue we are able to build up or destroy, but never to create. This old doctrine repackaged in a new Christian wrapping has to fabricate new revelations or reword scripture in order to give this power to man. The only way these teachers can mislead people into believing they are like God is by setting themselves up as God’s authority and revelators, rewording passages like Romans 4:17 or taking the passages where God is creating and attribute that to man. Lynn Reddick said, “Seven times God said, let it be…and it was. This is how we are like God…” How do we get from ‘God said and it was’ to ‘man is like God’ and ‘man is equal to God and can stand in His presence without any consciousness of inferiority’?

Each time man encounters God in scripture, an amazing thing happens that completely contradicts this teaching – man falls on his face. Those who do not fear God are called wicked. God has promised to mock at the calamity of those who do not choose the fear of the Lord; God will break His covenant with those who do not fear Him; and one of the signs of the end is that this fear of God does not exist. However, when we see the righteous, fearing God is the beginning of wisdom; knowledge and righteousness. When Moses saw God, he fell on his face. Isaiah cried, “Woe to me for I am undone” and even the apostle John, when he saw the glorified Christ, he said, “I fell at His feet as dead”. There are more examples but these make the point clearly. No man will stand in God’s presence and proudly proclaim equality. In fact, the Bible clearly teaches that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Is Kenneth Hagin in God’s grace? The Bible says, no.

Look at these passages as well:

Psalm 50:21-23 21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes.  22 “Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces, And there be none to deliver:  23 Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”

Do we think we are on the same level as God? We will be rebuked and we have the warning that those who resist God’s rebuke will be destroyed. However, the same One who judges also holds out grace and salvation. If we demand to be like God, we will be judged; if we humble ourselves and obey, we will be blessed.

This brings up another important but related point. The overarching theme of these teachers is that we are gods. This doctrine is worded differently depending on the crowd they are trying to reach. They are bold before the churches that have accepted this doctrine while they are more subtle before churches being introduced to this doctrine. Whether they say we are like God or we are gods, the doctrine is the same. I have even seen the followers of Kenneth Hagin partially quote scripture and say the Bible says “Ye are gods”. While this is true, it is important to look at the passages they are borrowing this phrase from. ‘You are gods’ is mentioned three times in scripture and each of these times God is condemning those who are being called gods. Jesus condemned the Pharisees by pointing them back to this quote in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament it is mentioned twice – once when God is criticizing the leaders and proclaiming that they will die like men and the second time sums it up completely. In Isaiah 41:21-24, God challenges these men who think they are gods and mocks their inability to see the past, future or even know the plan of God. God then makes a statement that should be a sounding alarm for each of us:

Isaiah 41:24 Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.

Not only does God proclaim judgment against the ‘gods’, but God also states that anyone who chooses these gods is an abomination to the one true God! Kenneth Hagin is a god? Whoever chooses Kenneth Hagin is an abomination to God. The same is true for all those who teach man to be equal to God. Perhaps we would be edified if we look at Isaiah 55:6-9

6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.  7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.  8 ” For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.  9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

Instead of seeking to become like God, we are commanded to seek God and recognize that His ways and thoughts are beyond man. This theme is preached throughout scripture. Not one time is man put on equal terms with God and not one time is man, angels or any other created thing given the power to create. All things were created by God and for God. We do not need new revelation because it has already been revealed.

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

Rewriting scripture

I have already pointed out that Romans 4:17 was rewritten to give power to Abraham so that the doctrine of man’s power can be supported, but I observed several other examples when the Reddicks were in town.

When the classes were combined for Sunday School, Linda Reddick taught from Deuteronomy 28. We were instructed not to turn there because she was going to quote it for us. I did turn there after I heard her quote. She stated the following:

In Deuteronomy 28 God told His people that they would be blessed if they have unity and cursed if they were not unified. In Deuteronomy 28 the Lord said to His people, “If you have unity, you will be blessed in the city and you will be blessed in the country; you will be blessed with your coming in and going out… but if you do not have unity, all these curses will come upon you”.

Take some time to read Deuteronomy 28 and see if the word unity is even mentioned. We are not blessed based on unity or disunity – this passage and the rest of scripture affirms that we are blessed when we obey or cursed when we disobey. I believe they have a motive for teaching unconditional unity and I’ll will give a quote from their website to explain this shortly; however, the important thing to note here is that this woman who claims to be a prophet of God openly did what the scriptures teach a prophet will never do. In fact, we are taught that God will allow false prophets to give lying signs and wonders to test his people to see if they will obey the Lord or follow the prophet. (See Deuteronomy 13:1-3 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

How can we praise someone who openly and blatantly reworded scripture contrary to its obvious meaning in order to teach something that is contrary to scripture? A similar paraphrase was done to the story of Balaam. According to Lynn Reddick and his book, ‘The 2 Minute Miracle’, Israel was blessed because of the power of Balaam’s words. When if you read this account in scripture, God clearly stated to Balaam that Israel was already blessed and could not be cursed. Since Balaam was a prophet of God, he could not be allowed to speak a false prophecy; therefore, God put a blessing in his mouth. It was not the words of Balaam, but God’s proclamation that Israel was already blessed.

If you read the biblical account, right after Balaam’s words, Israel sinned with the Moabite women and God severely judged the nation until they repented. Why did Israel fall into sin right after these words? The Bible makes it clear, you are blessed if you obey and cursed if you disobey – regardless of what words are spoken.

If words themselves have power, how do we understand this passage:

1 Thessalonians 5:3 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.

Why does destruction come after peace and safety has been spoken and proclaimed? Because, you are blessed if you obey and cursed if you disobey. Speaking blessings does not bless and speaking curses does not curse. Read Psalm 128. God promises blessings for the man who fears and obeys the Lord. A curse can never nullify God’s promises and a blessing cannot nullify God’s judgment. Words can build up and edify; words reveal what is in the heart; words testify, justify and condemn; but words cannot create. The Bible clearly teaches that power is not in words, but in God alone.

Unity or an occasion to silence critics?

There is a biblical unity and there is a false unity. Biblical unity comes from God alone and is founded upon the doctrine of the Word of God. There are two very important passages that stress that unity in the church is by following biblical doctrine and divisions are caused by those who do not follow sound doctrine. Look at Ephesians 4:12-15

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,  13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,  15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ –

I know you are familiar with this passage but I want to point out the one thing that may have gone unnoticed. The gifts mentioned before verse 12 are for the edifying of the Body of Christ so that we come to unity in the faith. One of the major reasons of building up the body is so that we are no longer tossed about and carried by every wind of doctrine. We build up through doctrine so that we have a sure foundation that each member is grounded in so that when false doctrine comes, we are not carried off course. The opposite is true when false teaching comes into the church. Look at Romans 16:17-18

17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

Who causes division? It is those who do not follow the sound doctrine of scripture. We are commanded to avoid them and regardless of their claims to be the voice of God, scripture states that they do not serve Christ.

When false teaching is introduced, intimidation follows. Those who question false doctrine are called the dividers of the church. Unity at all cost is stressed while sound teaching is discredited. False teachers begin by compelling leaders to question doctrine as being a sure foundation. It is often asked, “Can anyone really know doctrine?” It is commonly taught that no one can know for sure; therefore, we have no right to question what is being taught. If you can undermine the believers confidence in the scriptures or his ability to understand the scriptures, you can then establish any doctrine regardless of its agreement with scripture. Once we are not allowed to question teaching, then any teaching becomes acceptable. Ironically, the only one who can be judged is the one who judges by comparing what is being taught by what is in scripture.

False teachers teach leaders to become intimidators of those who do not conform. Many leaders become willing participants without even being aware that they are doing so. As people hear ideas and people being mocked, they tend to imitate those behaviors. Course jesting is a very subtle, but powerful tool of intimidation. When you laugh at people from the pulpit and mock ideas, people are intimidated into silence or into leaving. When a preacher or teacher builds a straw man, mocks his illustrations and gets the congregation to laugh at ‘those people’ being represented by the straw man illustration, group think is introduced and everyone is pressured to conform without a direct confrontation.

In scripture, we see the opposite is true in the Biblical church. In Acts 17, we see the Bereans praised for receiving the apostles teaching after searching the scriptures to see if what was being taught were true. Why is it that the true apostles praise those who judge doctrine by scripture and in modern theology people are judged as divisive when they do the same? I believe it is because the apostles knew their doctrine agreed with what has already been revealed and those claiming to be prophets today know that their doctrine does not agree with scripture.

Judging

We are told that it is wrong to judge. Why? The scripture commands us to judge. One thing I have noticed is that those who don’t want their teaching compared to scripture ignore the commands the Bible gives us to judge and they focus on the passages that tell us not to judge unrighteously. I believe that it is important to clarify what is unacceptable and what is acceptable concerning judging in scripture.

One often misquoted passage is Romans 14:4

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

False teachers use this passage to convince the church that they are not allowed to judge and this argument sounds very convincing when this passage is taken out of context. Chapter 14 of Romans is addressing personal convictions – not doctrine. Some eat vegetables only and honor specific days as holy while others eat meat and do not value any day over another. Those who observe criticize those who do not and vise-versa. Paul is warning the believers that they do not have the right to question someone’s personal convictions or impose their own personal convictions on others. The Bible gives liberty in these two areas for the believer to decide for themselves what they feel God desires in their lives. Where the Bible is silent, we should be silent. While it is fine to share your personal convictions, it is not permissible to condemn those who do not share these convictions. They are just that – personal convictions.

Even so, there are many convictions we are given by scripture and that are specifically spelled out in scripture. When someone teaches something that is contrary to scripture, we are mandated by scripture to judge that teaching and even expose it. Look at these passages:

Ephesians 5:8-11 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light  9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),  10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.  11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Titus 2:15 15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.

 

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

 

Titus 1:9-14 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,  11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.  12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”  13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith,  14 not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.

There are dozens of scriptures I can also include but these make this point clear. We are COMMANDED to test, expose, rebuke and exhort based on scripture. Sound doctrine is vital and mandated by scripture. In fact, we are warned that we will be judged if we allow false teaching. Look at 2 John 1:9-11

9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.  10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;  11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

This passage is one of the reasons I feel so compelled to write this to you. Many false teachers are being endorsed from the pulpit and I do not want you to share in their sins. The Bible says that if we greet those who do not hold the doctrine of Christ, we will share in their evil deeds. Endorsing from the pulpit and providing a platform for false doctrine to be taught is a greeting to these teachers.

It is the responsibility of every Christian to evaluate what is being taught by what has already been revealed in scripture, and it is the responsibility of every leader to build unity of faith in the local church by instructing in sound doctrine. Growth without truth is worthless. Unity without biblical love and truth is not true unity. Getting a crowd to agree is not true unity; God given unity also requires a unity of faith based on the truth of scripture.

Flattery

The Bible is explicit in its warning to watch out for flatterers. Flattery is different than complimenting and building up another. If I recognize something good in someone, I can build them up and encourage them without flattery. Flattery is a tool for manipulation. You flatter someone in order to manipulate someone into accepting what you are saying, doing or trying to get. Look at these passages:

Romans 16:17-18 17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

Psalm 5:9 9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is destruction; Their throat is an open tomb; They flatter with their tongue.

1 Thessalonians 2:4-5 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.  5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness — God is witness.

Proverbs 28:23 23 He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward Than he who flatters with the tongue.

Jude 1:16b they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.

Five times the Bible warns us about the flatterer. They user flattering speech to deceive; they flatter outwardly but destruction is in their heart; the flatterer uses their words to gain an advantage. Compare the flatterer with the apostles of Christ. Paul felt it to be important to point out that when they came to Thessalonica, they came with the straight truth and did not at any time use flattering words. Why is that important? I believe it is because flattery is always deception and those who use flattery always have ulterior motives.

An odd thing happened to me a short time ago. I was visiting family and my kids were watching Hermy the caterpillar. I walked in the room just as the video was ending. After the main cartoon ends, there is a closing scene where the animated character interacts with Max Lucado. Hermy crawled up to Max Lucado and said, “I don’t like you because you are a liar”. That seemed a bit odd and caught my attention.

Max replied, “I’m not a liar”.

“Yes you are and I don’t like you”, said Hermy.

Max then said, “I’ll prove to you that I am not a liar. Hermy is the strongest caterpillar in the garden. Hermy is the most handsome caterpillar in the whole world. Hermy is the greatest caterpillar ever!”

Hermy stated, “I guess your right. You are a good guy and do tell the truth.” Then Hermy crawled away and the show ended.

I asked myself, what was that supposed to teach? Max proved that he was not a liar because he flattered Hermy? By exaggerating his flattery he was able to prove to Hermy that he was not evil? I was at a loss as to what message they were trying to communicate to kids with this short interaction. Since the show ended, there was no other conclusion that could be drawn other than, “Trust those who flatter you”. I was a bit dumbfounded.

The next day, Lynn and Linda Reddick were at church. I was introduced to Linda and the person introducing us said, “His wife teaches the kids art”. Linda looked at me and said, “Your wife is such a gifted artist. Her artwork is so amazing and beautiful. I haven’t seen it, but I know it”. Not knowing that she was supposed to be a prophetess I didn’t know what she meant but “I haven’t seen it but I know it”.

Throughout the day, Lynn and Linda said things like, “This is the most spirit filled church we have ever seen”; “I have never seen so much love in a church in our 38 years of ministry”, “This church has something no other church we have found has”, and other similar comments. I have heard guest say things like this so I was not overly alarmed though I felt it was clearly intended to be flattery. The one thing that did send alarm bells off was when Lynn stood up and talked about his ability to see black spots on people’s souls and he knew when there was sin in their life. He then walked over to you, put his hand on your shoulder and said, “but when I look at this man, I do not see any spot or blemish. This man has no black spot on him and is 100% pure”. He then went on for a few minutes about your perfection and sinlessness but I don’t remember his exact words after the 100% pure statement. My mind was going back to Hermy at this point.

I believe that my chance encounter with Hermy was to drive home the point that I would see the next day at church. There is not one person on this earth that can be said to be spotless. The next week, you confessed some struggles that you were having and asked for prayer. I hoped then that you would see the contradiction. A man who claims to be an apostle of God and gets direct revelation from God concerning sin in peoples lives declared that it was revealed to him that you were spotless, sin free and 100% pure and by your own confession you were struggling. That was from God to serve as evidence that this man was not of God. This man is using flattery to manipulate you into accepting everything he says. I could picture Hermy saying, “I guess you are a good guy” after being flattered into submission.

Why is it that the apostles made it a point to stress that they did not try to gain trust by flattery and these people use nothing but flattery to gain trust? Why is it that the Bible warns that the flatterer is trying to deceive and gain an advantage over you but we cannot recognize the error after we have been flattered?

Wolves in Sheep’s clothing

What is a wolf in sheep’s clothing? It is a false teacher that make themselves look like sheep. They know what the sheep want, what the sheep are looking for and they attempt to mimic the behavior of the sheep. Look at this passage: Matthew 7:13-16

13 ” Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  14 “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  15 ” Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.  16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

It is important to look at verse 15 as well as the preceding verses. Jesus, after stressing the importance of looking for and going in by the narrow gate and walking the difficult way, He then uses this as a platform to warn us about the wolves. After we identify the truth, Jesus immediately warns about false prophets. They will come in and claim to widen the gate and present what is contrary to what Jesus just delivered. They will look like sheep, talk like sheep, mingle with the sheep and all outward appearances will indicate that they are sheep. The only evidence we have is their fruit. Do they point us to Christ and to the Word, or do they show another way? This fruit is explained well in these passages:

Colossians 2:8 8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

2 Peter 3:16-18 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.  17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;  18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

I believe that we can clearly see that they have introduced worldly philosophies and deceit. We have already seen how they reword scripture to say what is in contradiction to what is actually written. We can also see that even by their own admission this philosophy is palatable to the world. In the ‘2 Minute Miracle’, Lynn Reddick states that his teaching applies to the Christian and non-Christian alike. It is not the power of God, but the power of words and anyone can use it, not just the ‘goody two-shoes’ Christian. This is also echoed by Kenneth Hagin and his protégé, Kenneth Copeland who states, “People will say that this is that New Age stuff. The New Age is trying to do this and get results because it is a spiritual law”. The power of words has been a doctrine in eastern mysticism and New Age thinking for thousands of years and has always been contrary to God. Only in these modern times has the church began to accept worldly philosophies and eastern religions into Christianity. It has been labeled with Christian words, but the doctrine has not changed.

We have been warned beforehand so that we are not deceived. They will twist scriptures and will lead those who are not on guard away from their steadfast faith according to Peter.

At this point I will state that I do not believe that the goal of the Reddicks is to teach people how to bless others. I believe that they have identified a real need in the church that has been neglected and they use it as a platform to gain an inroad into local churches. Deception would not be deception if it was not deceptive. With most false teachers, people will look at their works and say, “How can someone be evil that feeds the poor…teaches us to bless…meets needs, etc.” No false prophet comes into our midst with a sign over his head saying ‘warning, I am a deceiver’. They always look like the real thing. This is why we are warned that they will look like sheep. Just doing a simple word search, I found fourteen times that we are warned to beware, be on guard, and to be watchful against false teachers. If you were driving down the road and you past fourteen people who warned you that danger was around the corner, would you dismiss it as alarmism? Why would Jesus and all the apostles be so diligent to drive home the point that these deceivers would come in unwares if it was not a real threat?

A false teacher finds an area of need that can be fulfilled and uses it for a platform to make himself or herself look like God’s provision. Sometimes we don’t even know they are deceivers until after they are in our midst because they will not tip their hand until it is to their advantage. However, once we see their doctrine departing from scripture, it must be addressed or we will find ourselves outside of God’s will. God is merciful and gives room for repentance but He will discipline and eventually judge those who reject His truth. Hebrews 12:6 states, “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

The scripture is the only sure judgment that we have and we must hold up as our standard and compare all things to it. Where it is silent, we have liberty to determine what is best; however, where it speaks, we must stand firm. Jesus said that He does not judge for we already have that which judges – the word. I do not have the burden of determining what is right and wrong; that judgment has already been made. My responsibility is to evaluate all things based on the revealed judgment in scripture. To say that we will not judge is in itself a judgment that rejects the commands of God. We judge in love with a spirit of reconciliation; however, when someone does not want the truth, they will always say we are being judgmental. Even so, the scripture speaks well to this:

Proverbs 28:23 23 He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.

Our hope is that afterward, those we rebuke will evaluate and receive what has been said.

What these teachers believe

A false teacher is rarely upfront with their beliefs but rather they put up a public face that sounds orthodox while secretly they hold philosophies that are unbiblical. The scripture forewarns about this in 2 Peter 2:1-3

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.  3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

This goes back to the warning of wolves in sheep’s clothing. They present a Christian face, but are secretive about their motives. Outwardly they present themselves as sheep but by their doctrine we will know their true motives. Jim Rutz is listed on the staff of Covenant Bible Institute (http://www.covbible.org) . This is the Bible college Lynn Reddick founded in Portal GA. Lynn Reddick is also listed as staff on the Open Bible Ministry that Jim Rutz heads (http://openchurch.org) and is linked on Lynn’s website. When these two present their ideas to the masses it is taught that their version of house churches are very biblical without the hierarchy; however, on their website an article addressing house church leaders states the following:

There is only one Kingdom. God does not want you to view these 30 movements as a competing jumble, but as a God-breathed whole. Rid yourself of the notion that “If it’s not our steeple, it’s not our people.”

You may have a legitimate concern about the theology or practices in several of the movements above. Perhaps you’re 100% right in every case, and the flaws you perceive are all too real.

Still, you are called by God to labor alongside your brothers and sisters in every corner of the Kingdom.

In other words, they are acknowledging that what they are teaching will create warning alarms among those who are knowledgeable in scripture. This objection is preemptively attacked by stating that even if those who object are right saying that Lynn Reddick and Jim Rutz doctrine is in contradiction to scripture, it is the responsibility of those who object to ignore their objections and support this movement.

Are these men to be followed over scripture? God has given us many warnings about these types of philosophies and here are two that I believe apply:

1 Timothy 6:20-21 20 O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge —  21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15 12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast.  13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

 

Do we obey God and guard the scripture committed to our trust or do we ignore what contradicts and allow our members to stray from the faith? We should be on guard for deceitful workers can pass themselves off as workers of light. This goes especially for those who claim to be apostles and prophets but teach what is contrary to scripture. Even though they have found one good thing to use as a Trojan Horse to get within the church, we are required and mandated by scripture to scrutinize all doctrine to see if it is of God. Do we need to speak blessings and encouragement to others? It is good to do these things and to build one another up; however, just because someone has found a need in the church that has been neglected does not mean that we trust that everything they say is acceptable without question. If a teacher admits that their doctrine contradicts but we are expected to labor with them anyway, that should serve as a major warning that something is wrong.

The foundation of what they believe is in error and by this error everything else has been corrupted. While the Bible teaches that spoken blessing is a form of encouragement (or by the Old Testament prophets a foreshadowing of what was to come), the power of blessing is always from God when His people obey. The false blessing is far from the Biblical blessing. Hagin, Reddick and others have an unbiblical starting point that alters the meaning of the word into something the Bible does not support. They believe that we have equality with God and therefore have the same power as God. Their idea of blessings is to speak words that have power and are able to create or destroy. It is not God’s power, but our power. Not one time in the scripture do we find that we are told that we have equality with God in this life or the life to come. We have many warnings that we are not to be lifted up with pride and that those who claim to be gods will be judged by God.

You have also quoted Thomas Merton on several occasions. Let’s look at Thomas’ own quotes to find out if his doctrine is founded upon scripture. I believe it is evident that it is not.

Quotes from Thomas Merton

“And I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own traditions, because they have gone, from the natural point of view, so much deeper into this than we have.”

“I want to become as good a Buddhist as I can.
(Steindl-Rast, 1969)

Asia, Zen, Islam, etc., all these things come together in my life. It would be madness for me to attempt to create a monastic life for myself by excluding all these. I would be less a monk

I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.

If Thomas Merton claims that he is a Buddhist, how can he be acceptable to the church? He has a smorgasbord of religions and introduced the modern contemplative prayer movement to the church. Contemplative prayer is nothing more than Eastern religions and occultic mysticism wrapped in Christian sounding terms. He was a Catholic monk that claimed to be a Buddhist and was impregnated with Sufism. Sufism is a mystical version of Islam. While he borrowed Christian terms and tossed in a few scriptures to sound Christian, by his own admission, the Bible and Christianity is not his source of doctrine.

Thomas Merton has succeeded in bringing New Age eastern meditation into the church and labeled it as prayer.

I have already quoted Lynn Reddick and Kenneth Hagin earlier so there is no need to recite them again. What is important to realize is that each one of these men introduces New Age philosophies into the church and stands in direct contradiction to the scriptures. They recognize that they are in contradiction and that is why they reword scripture to give the false impression that what is being taught is actually in the Bible. They also recognize that others will see the contradiction and this objection is headed off through intimidation, and mockery of those who hold biblical Christianity. They also teach that doctrine cannot be understood to create confusion and make the Bible appear to be unreliable while claiming that their ministry is ‘God breathed’ and should be supported even if it is in contradiction to the Bible. They are aware that people will recognize their New Age connections, so they claim that the New Age has adopted these so-called ‘spiritual laws’ that can be used by anyone independent of God. None of these so-called spiritual laws are found in scripture, but they have been taught in Eastern Religions for centuries.

Conclusion

If you have made it to this conclusion, I am grateful and appreciate your willingness to look into this matter. Let me begin wrapping this up by quoting Galatians 1:6-9:

6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,  7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.  8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.  9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

If the apostle Paul made it a point to say that even he, who was delivered this God-breathed scripture were to come back and contradict it, he would be accursed. If even a true apostle or angel from heaven does not have the right to present ‘new revelation’ which contradicts the revelation already delivered, why do we think the ‘new apostles’ and prophets can do so?

Rather than being instructed to ignore the contradictions and labor beside them as Open Church Ministries claims, we are instructed by God to count them as accursed. Take a moment and consider the contrast between those claiming to be apostles today and the behavior of the apostles in scripture.

In scripture, the apostles discipled with the purpose of creating non-dependence on the apostles. In fact, when a major dispute arose in the church, the apostles worked as equals to the elders appointed in the church. Rather than usurping authority, they honored the authority of each church’s leader. The modern apostolic movement has apostles that are served and are given authority. Rather than leading churches into independence, modern apostles come in and ask for submission. The Open Church Ministry website goes into detail on this. While claiming that they are opposed to hierarchy in the church, they teach that Open Church affiliates submit to their hierarchy and are regularly evaluated and graded on a scale listed on their website. They are opposed to local leadership but they seek to institute their organization’s leadership as the authority over the local church. In one of their articles they were very critical of rogue home churches that do not submit to a governing authority.

In the scriptures, the apostles taught the people that they, as individuals were anointed, the individual believer has full access to God, the individual believer has everything needed for godliness and is able to understand and interpret scripture without the need of an apostle. Everything they taught was geared toward getting believers to grow to the point where they were teachers and would replicate their ministries. Modern apostles claim to be God’s anointed and have special revelations that only come through them. The church becomes dependent on ‘the anointed ones’ rather than becoming independent followers of Christ.

The apostles of Christ stressed the importance of sound biblical doctrine, the authority of the word that has been delivered and that God and His word do not change. There is no new revelation that does not agree with the old revelation. In fact, nothing in the New Testament is new but rather it is the same revelation God gave from the beginning but with the veil removed. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:2-5

2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.  3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,  4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.  5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.

God’s word is not veiled unless it is rejected. Those who are perishing have the veil over their hearts but the truth is not veiled. We as believers have no veil to block our ability to see and understand the truth. The apostles of Christ did not preach themselves, but the new apostles do preach themselves. The apostles of Christ stressed that they were not needed and only intervened when the immaturity of believers distracted them from following the truth. The new apostles teach that they are needed in order for the church to gain the new revelations God is putting forth. The new apostles draw the focus away from the Word, sound doctrine and the unchangeable ways of God. Very little scripture is given in their teachings. A pet scripture may be tossed out to give the impression of a biblical basis but it almost never coincides with what is being taught unless it is reworded. When a so-called prophet, prophetess or apostle rewrites scripture at will, this alone should be enough to alert us that they are not of God.

The starting place for these teachers is based on a New Age philosophy and world view; therefore, everything being taught has its ultimate purpose in supporting this world view. A Buddhist has no place in the church of Jesus Christ and should not be taught from the pulpit or have his doctrines influencing a pastor of the church. A teacher who believes that he or she is on equal terms with God should not have a platform in the church nor should they be endorsed in the church. Anyone who believes that they are a god does not have the Spirit of God and should have no place to teach or credibility in the church. Just because someone puts Christian words to New Age doctrine does not change the fact that it is New Age doctrine based on the occult and not the Word of God.

My hope and prayer is that you can see the contradiction that I see and reject those who secretly bring in destructive heresies. It will never be obvious because deception, by design is intended to be a secret agenda. As these men have come into the church I have often prayed that God would show me that I am wrong. I would rather be wrong than to be the one who stands up and goes against the tide. I have repeatedly prayed, “God, show me that I am wrong if these teachers are of you. I am willing to change if they are yours. Please make it clear to me.” God has always answered these prayers dramatically. I am absolutely confident that the scriptures stand against these people. I would be afraid to contradict if it was my opinion against theirs. In truth, it is scripture that contradicts them and either the Bible is wrong or they are wrong. Since the Bible is the only sure foundation we have, I have to side with scripture.

Please consider these things and examine the scriptures. There are many who are young Christians that will be lead away from the faith if the church goes away from the scripture.

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Sincerely in Christ,

Eddie Snipes
April 2006

This letter was challenged by Jubilee International. View this interaction by clicking here.

One thought on “Letter to a pastor who turned to false teaching

  1. Love the letter and love you, dear brother! There are many superstars (covert) in the EL, GL, GF, GW community worldwide. Glad we are all on the same page by Grace! Write anytime – eEncourager@aol.com

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