***I looked at my “drafts” folder tonight and realized that I had 54 blog posts at some stage of being written. I’ve committed to finish up a one for you that will hopefully be a quick and useful reference at some point. This post only has been 8+ months in the making…sigh…***
Over the past 2+ years as I was reading my eyes out and learning a boatload of information about the Renewal (Pentecostal/Charismatic/Word Faith/etc.) movement, I ran across a lot of questionable information on the internet that suffered from three common problems:
- Unverifiable Citations. As I followed up on some quotes and claims, I found that many of them were either unable to be substantiated or questionably fabrications (I explain this problem in a full post here). Because of that, I made a point of trying to stick to print resources in my research. This ruled out some of the more colorful stuff that I could have used, but it was a point of scholarly integrity for me. If you cannot track down a quote to an original source and verify its credibility, it doesn’t really exist.
- Quote Misrepresentation. Again, as I looked at some writers, I found plenty of zinger quotes that lost their zing when I followed them back to the original source. Far too often, zinger quotes are extracted from a larger citation that is dealing with an entirely different subject matter. Other times, a quote is simply stretched to infer something it doesn’t actually say.
- Invalid Arguments (including any number of logical fallacies). As I looked at some writers, I found far too many arguments that didn’t hold much liquid. Things like “guilty by association” arguments (person X is a heretic and person Y spoke at a conference with them, therefore person Y believes any number of heretical beliefs espoused by person X). Here’s a nifty and useful chart of logical fallacies for those that are interested:
In researching Renewal people, I wanted to avoid misrepresenting them, since bearing false witness is still a sin when you bear false witness about heretics. Also, if you’re going to tear apart an idea/argument, it’s more powerful to tear apart the idea/argument in its strongest and most accurately represented form.
I may be too cautious for most folks but generally speaking, the internet needs a whole lot more caution.
I recently learned about Torben Søndergaard.
He’s an evangelist and faith healer from Denmark who is quite the public prophet, faith healer, and “global evangelist”. He runs an organization called The Last Reformation, and he’s not exactly subtle: he claims to be part of the next Protestant Reformation (otherwise known as the New Apostolic Reformation). His about page tells the story of how he came to be a Christian, didn’t see “fruit” in his Christian life (“fruit” meaning “miraculous healings”), and then became a full-blown faith healer and prophet who writes books by divine revelation (which would be delivering written revelation, otherwise known as “writing scripture”).
You may not have heard of him yet, but he’s definitely getting around and building steam. He’s popping up in Singapore, Poland, England, Australia, Holland, Turkey, South Africa, Los Angeles, etc. All those listed countries were places where he has been in the past year alone. Just a few weeks ago he was leading a faith healing seminary right in my own backyard.
Some people may want to dismiss him as being “the fringe”, but he’s becoming a B-list charismatic celebrity, at least according to some. He’s clearly busy and doing this full time. He’s writing books and traveling the world. Even though his videos are videos of healing “on the street”, he travels because he’s invited to teach on faith healing and assorted charismatic theology in churches on every continent. In other words, Torben Søndergaard is not that fringe. Torben is also a fantastic example of a dangerously wide-spread type of false teacher: the guys who offer “gospel plus”.
What is “gospel plus?” Continue reading
There’s an old saying on the internet:
Wise words to live by.
I say that as a bit of a joke, but not entirely.
That’s the level of sheer stupid to which one has to plummet in order to make fun of bad ideas on the internet, because mocking anything less stupid might offend someone. Almost everything is taken serious by someone on the internet. The internet has been an absolute haven for the wicked, the wide-eyed and the witless since the first day someone sent a data packet across a phone line. Every unfathomably stupid idea has found new life on the internet, and old heresies have found unprecedented popularity amongst those who have more information than discernment. Continue reading
*Update for Sept 26th* – Seeing that I’ve got similar feedback as the first comment in the thread, I’ve updated/edited this post to make it stronger.
On behalf of your adopted family (namely all Christians worldwide), welcome to the family! We rejoice, along with Heaven (Luke 15:7), that you’ve come to recognize the fact that you’ve previously lived a life of moral rebellion against God (i.e. “sin”) in thought and deed, renounced and turned from your previous life of sin, called out to Jesus to provide the righteousness you lack and save you from the coming and just wrath of God upon the sinful world, and are now trusting in the person and work of Christ to save you from your enslavement to sin, the coming consequences, impute his own righteousness to you and one day, raise you from the dead into a body fit to live forever more on paradise earth with the Trinity and all redeemed and resurrected believers.
We know you are excited about finding Jesus and coming to faith, and many of us remember the joy and excitement of when we “came to our senses” about ourselves, the Bible, Jesus and the gospel. The time you’re in now is one of many delights, and we wish you God’s best in dealing with all the various challenges you’ll face. We hope we can be a helpful resource to help you learn and grow and would love to see you both happy and holy for the rest of your life.
All that being said, we’d like to give you three warnings: Continue reading
In my previous post, I took a quick stroll through the pseudes/pseudo word group in the New Testament and looked at the term “false” in its various usages and manifestations. Now I recognize that seems like I’m on a mission to make myself the most fringe Bible-egghead out there, but I honestly and sincerely do those sorts of things unto a serious and necessary end.
(I’m fighting the urge to toss out a few dozen egg puns right now…)
So, in an eggshell, the idea of the last post was that a “false prophet” isn’t so much a technical category as it is, quite simply, a prophet who falsely claims to be a prophet. This then begs the question: if every prophet who wrongly claims the title us a false prophet, aren’t there tens of thousands of false prophets out there? Aren’t there then also millions of false teachers? What about a guy who thinks he’s a prophet and is simply mistaken due to ignorance? Isn’t there room for an innocent misunderstanding with a guy who’s simply untrained about prophets, teachers, apostles, etc.?
Well, that’s where we need to take a comprehensive look at the concept of false prophets in the Bible. That should help us hammer through these secondary questions. Let’s rock!