Category Archives: False Teaching
After the Harold Camping debacle in 2011 where “pastor” Harold Camping predicted the end of the world — which obviously failed to come true — people should be asking what should they do when pastors go bad.
Or how about a local pastor who may have started out on the straight and narrow but at some point either embraces some radical individualistic view or begins supporting some blatant heresy.
Further, what if an entire ministry goes bad? What should the “lowly” Christian do? Often, we’re told we just should move on. Vote with our feet per se.
In the Bible, there are very few examples of elders/pastors who go bad and eventually return to the Faith. Most examples are of elders/pastors going bad and never again returning to the Faith. The Bible has an of example of warnings of how to avoid installing a bad pastor. (1 Tim 3:1-7)
It is disillusioning when people we trust or want to trust not only let us down but even betray us. As I said, typically we just move on; look for new heroes. Maybe the problem is that not only do we often make heroes out of these people, but they sometimes present themselves as heroes. As “authorities”. As “experts”. As “presidents”. Who are we to question them? But when the corruption becomes so obvious that they can no longer deny it, the illusion is shattered.
It becomes worse when people rally around these bad pastors. It becomes worse when the followers of these bad pastors viciously attack anyone who would dare speak out against these bad pastors.
The purpose of the attacks against the critics of bad pastors is not only to shut them up, but to destroy them; to make their name “mud”. Most of the time it works, because who would want to endure all of that?
So, typically an episode of a bad pastor ends with his critics smeared and his followers with their chests puffed up in “vindication” that they have protected their leader from what they call “slander”. However, eventually if we believe God gets justice for those wronged bad pastors and their followers will finally expose themselves once and for all.
A quiz for church members to determine if they are participants in a personality cult. For you newcomers who have not yet taken the quiz, here it is again with new additions given first.
Disclaimer – This is not a critique of megachurches in general. Personality cults develop in large and small churches alike. Also, these descriptions are not necessarily the fault of the pastor. Any resemblence to known personalities is purely intentional.
1. Your pastor autographs people’s Bibles – As if he wrote it. Maybe he did – see #14
2. Your pastor’s interpretation/opinion is viewed by the congregation as virtually infallible – “Well, Pastor John Doe says that it means this, so that basically settles it.” Is he the pope?
3. In sermon illustrations/stories, your pastor is often the hero – If people remember the cool thing that he did in the story, rather than the text or Christ, he has failed as a preacher.
4. Your pastor cannot name 3/4 of the church members – I think that 3/4 is pretty low, but I’ll cut him some slack. After all, he has lots of Bible to sign.
5. You have been a member of the church for five years and your pastor has never invited you to his house – Probably because you are one of the 1/4 that he does not know by name.
6. The other pastors on staff copy your pastor’s preaching style – Including his mannerisms and regional/foreign accent. Why does your associate pastor from Maine sound like he’s from Alabama? Because the senior pastor is from Alabama.
7. Your pastor uses catchphrases in his sermons – People are upset when he has not said ____ in a while.
8. Your pastor’s salary is not published in the church budget – President Obama is considering a cap on your pastor’s salary, just like the Wall St. CEO’s.
9. Your pastor has a ghost-writer – He’ll slap his name on anything with a barcode.
10. Your pastor wears make-up in the pulpit, in order to look better on television – If he has had plastic surgery, run before fire and brimstone consume the church.
11. Your pastor has visible bodyguards – Sure, some pastors have threats on their lives, but do they have to make it obvious? Some just pay off-duty cops to act like their friends.
12. Your church receptionist will not confirm or deny if your pastor is or is not preaching this weekend – Why come if he’s not there?
13. Church attendance drops significantly when your pastor is not there – see #12
14. Your pastor has a product named after him – “John Doe’s guide to ___.” “John Doe’s method of ____.” “The John Doe Study Bible.”
15. Your church has multiple campuses which all broadcast the same sermon by your pastor – Very popular, but still wrong. Are his sermons so special that a live pastor is inferior? I’d rather stay home and watch on the internet in my pajamas.
16. Your pastor/church started a fellowship/association of churches – “Do not call it a denomination! I am not starting another denomination!” Seriously, it’s a denomination.
17. All church plants started by your church have the same name as the mother church – Greentree Bible Church – Miami; Greentree Bible Church – Boca Raton; Greentree Bible Church – Orlando; Greentree Bible Church – Del Boca Vista; etc.
18. Your pastor has multiple members of his immediate family working on the church staff – The church is not a family business, even if your pastor is treated like the Godfather – see # 2
19. The congregation keeps a mental note of your pastor’s neckties – “He wore the green paisley just last month.”
20. Your pastor’s wife is referred to as “The First Lady” – And she has her own ghost-writer.
21. People brag about being baptized by your pastor – I am of Peter, I am of Apollos…
22. Your pastor attracts Christian celebrities to your church- “You know that guy who does the voices for Veggie-Tales? He goes to our church. So does the guy who played lead guitar in Stryper.”
23. People move across the country to go to your church – “I moved from Spokane all the way to Atlanta just to go to John Doe’s church. We just couldn’t find anyone like him in Spokane.” When your pastor moves to a bigger church, they move with him.
24. Other pastors identify themselves and their churches with your pastor – “What is your church like?“ “Well, we are sort of like a John Doe church. I admire his ministry and we share the same doctrine. I try to do what he does, just on a smaller scale. I’ll never be as good as John Doe, chuckle-chuckle, but I sure try to come close.”
25. Your pastor has an agent – “Have your people call my people; we’ll do lunch.”
26. Your pastor lists the size of your church on the official church website – Are people more likely to visit the church if there are more than 1,000 people? 5,000? 10,000? Add one point to your score if the statistic is on the front page of the site.
27. Your pastor name-drops other cults of personality in his sermons – “I was recently having dinner with Pastor (fill the the blank) . . .” Your pastor’s sermons are like a Christian version of Access Hollywood.
28. Your pastor encourages other pastors in the denomination he has started (“It’s not a denomination!” See # 16) to preach his sermons as if they were their own – Why should average pastors struggle to write dynamic sermons when they can just hitch their wagon to the cult of personality’s star? When your pastor oozes this much awesomeness, it’s a crime to keep it to himself.
29. Your pastor is creating a brand – He has a denomination, books, Study-Bibles, conferences, study materials, a seminary, cruises, neckties, coffee mugs, pens, You-Tube page, etc. He’ll slap his name on more products than Donald Trump.
30. Your pastor employs a full-time writer for sermon illustrations, exegesis, background material, jokes, etc. – With all his time spent dazzling people with his brilliance and winning personality, your pastor cannot be expected to research matters of lesser importance.
31. Your pastor is related to another cult of personality – “You know who our pastor is? Pastor _____ ’s son! I know, I can’t believe it either.” Score two points for direct relation, one point for marrying into the line of genius.
If your pastor scored more than ten, you’d better learn the secret handshake because you’re in a personality cult.
If your pastor scored between five and ten, be on the lookout for a new ministry that involves selling fake poppies. The cult is on the way.
If your pastor scored less than five, be thankful.
Mat 24:3-5,10-11 (NIV) …”Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered, “Watch out that no one deceives you, for many will come in my name,.. At that time many will turn away from the faith… and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
• As spiritual adultery increases in the church, false prophets will flourish as highly sought after speakers, and as Christians accept more of these false teachings indiscriminately, many will fall away, believing in a phony “faith”. Since we have been warned, it might be wise to seek insight into how to discern false prophecy–what are false prophets likely to say? What are they like?
Signs And Wonders
Deut. 18:20-22 (NIV) “A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously…”
• But what if it does come true? In fact, aren’t we specifically warned that near the End of the Age many will show great signs and wonders? What then? Are signs and wonders “fruit”? Effective witchcraft is not the “fruit” we are to look for (Gal 5:22-23). Signs and wonders are not to be sought (Mat 16:4). Does the prophet call for repentance, for holiness and loyalty to Christ? Or is he providing an enticing strip-tease away from God?
Deut 13:1-3 (NIV) “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
The Enemy Is Among You…
Deut. 13:5 -8 (NIV) “That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God… He has tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you,.. do not yield to him or listen to him…”
Jer 9:2-6 (NIV) “…For they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. “Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer. Friend deceives friend, and no one speaks the truth… You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the Lord.
Jer 23:33-36 (NIV) “When these people, or a prophet or a priest, ask you, ‘What is the oracle of the Lord?’ say to them, ‘What oracle?..’ You must not mention ‘the oracle of the Lord’ again, because every man’s own word becomes his oracle and so you distort the words of the living God, the Lord Almighty, our God.”
False Prophets, And Their Followers, Reject The Truth
Neh 9:26 (NIV) “But they were disobedient and rebelled …They killed your prophets, who had admonished them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.”
Isa 30:9-11,15 (NIV) These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
The Message Of False Prophecy: “Peace, Peace”–Without Repentance
Jer 5:11-13 (NIV) “The house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord. “They have lied about the Lord; they said, ‘He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.’ The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them…” (Ez 13:7, De 29:19)
Jer 23:16-18 (NIV) This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The Lord says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’ But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?”
Jer 23:21-22 (NIV) “I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.”
Jer 8:6-9 (NIV) “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. No one repents of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’.. My people do not know the requirements of the Lord. How can you say, ‘We are wise…’ Since they have rejected the word of the Lord, what kind of wisdom do they have?”
Lam 2:14 (NIV) “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading.”
Luke 6:26 (NAS) “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.”
Jer 14:14 (NIV) “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries, and the delusion of their own minds.”
Jer 28:8-9 (NIV) [Jeremiah identifying Hananiah as a false prophet:] “From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.” (Jer 28:15-17 tells the outcome.)
Micah 2:11 (NIV) “If a liar and deceiver comes and says, ‘I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,’ he would be just the prophet for this people!”
Prophets For Profit
Micah 3:5 (NIV) This is what the Lord says: “As for the prophets who lead my people astray, if one feeds them, they proclaim ‘peace’; if he does not, they prepare to wage war against him.”
Jer 8:10-12 (NIV) “From the least to the greatest all are greedy for gain; prophet and priest alike, all practice deceit. They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush.”
Eph 5:6 (Jer) Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is for this loose living that God’s wrath comes down on those who rebel against him. Make sure you are not included with them.
John 10:12 (Jer) “The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep.”
Eze 13:1-16 (Read from the NIV about the big whitewash and the storm approaching.)
Jer 23:30-32 (NIV) “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes,.. I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,.. They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.
Going To The Dogs
Mat 7:15, 20-23 (NIV) “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves… Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them… Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!'”
Isa 56:10-11 (NIV) “Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, each seeks his own gain.”
2 Cor 11:19-20 (Jer) Oh, you’re tolerant all right! . Yes even to tolerating somebody who makes slaves of you, makes you feed him, imposes on you, orders you about and slaps you in the face.
Eze 13:17-19,22 (NIV) “Now, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who prophesy out of their own imagination. Prophesy against them and say,.. By lying to my people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live… Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives…”
Jer 23:14-15 (NIV) “…They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness… Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty says concerning the prophets: ‘I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land.'”
Jer 23:9-11 (NIV) “Concerning the prophets:.. ‘The land is full of adulterers;.. The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly. Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,’ declares the Lord.”
2 Cor 11:13-15 (Phi) “God’s messengers?” They are counterfeits of the real thing, dishonest practitioners masquerading as the messengers of Christ. Nor do their tactics surprise me when I consider how Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is only to be expected that his agents shall have the appearance of ministers of righteousness–but they will get what they deserve in the end.
1 Tim 4:1-2 (Phi) God’s spirit specificaly tells us that in later days there will be men who abandon the true faith and allow themselves to be spiritually seduced by teachings of demons, teachings given by men who are lying hypocrites, whose consciences are as dead as seared flesh.
Jer 23:25-29 (NIV) “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?.. Let the prophet who has a dream tell his dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully. For what has straw to do with grain?” declares the Lord. “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
2 Pet 2:1 (NEB) But Israel had false prophets as well as true; and you likewise will have false teachers among you. They will import disastrous heresies, disowning the Master who bought them, and bringing swift disaster on their own heads.
Col 2:18-19 (Jer) Do not be taken in by people who like groveling to angels, and worshipping them; people like that are always going on about some vision they have had, inflating themselves to a false importance with their worldly outlook. A man of this sort is not united to the head…
Eph 4:14-15 (Jer) Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and carried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practicing deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head.
1 Jn 2:20-26 (Phi) God has given you all a certain amount of spiritual insight, and indeed I have not written this warning as if I were writing to men who don’t know what error is. I write because your eyes are clear enough to discern a lie when you come across it… For yourselves keep faithful to what you heard at the beginning. I had to write to you about these men who try to lead you astray.
Acts 20: 29-31 (Jer) “I know quite well that when I have gone fierce wolves will invade you and have no mercy on the flock. Even from your own ranks their will be men coming forward with a travesty of the truth on their lips to induce the disciples to follow them. So be on your guard…”
Mat 10:16-17 (Phi) “Here am I sending you out like sheep with wolves all round you; so be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But be on your guard against men…”
Luke 10:3 (NIV) “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”
Mat 24:25 (Phi) “False christs and false prophets are going to appear and produce great signs and wonders to mislead, if it were possible, even God’s own people. Listen, I am warning you.”