Articles

Sound Doctrine

Following is an excerpt from my booklet, The Essentials of the Faith, which is available from Sound Doctrine Ministries. I pray it will bless you.
The Virgin Birth

The doctrine of the virgin Birth of Jesus Christ is prophesied by Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14:

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
“Immanuel” means “God with us.” Two chapters later (9:6), Isaiah prophesies that this child will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” No doubt these verses refer to Christ’s deity as well as His virgin birth. In the doctrine of the virgin birth the Holy Spirit (third person of the Trinity) plays a major role along with the virgin Mary. By the agency of the third person of the Trinity, the second person of the trinity, the eternal Word (John 1:1), took on flesh. Thus we read in Luke 1:35 as the angel speaks to Mary:

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
We also read in Matthew 1:18, 20:

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit . . . . But after he [Joseph] had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”
Remember that the virgin birth of Jesus was not the beginning of His existence. He always existed, eternally existed, as the Word. At the incarnation through the virgin birth He took the form of a man. At the incarnation He was God in human flesh.
The Deity and Personality
of the Holy Spirit

Christian orthodoxy throughout the centuries has held that the Holy Spirit is God and that He is a person.
The Deity of the Holy Spirit

Acts 5:3, 4

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? Wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Here Peter says that to lie to the Holy Spirit is to lie to God. Peter equates the Holy Spirit with God. Hebrews 9:14

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.
The Holy Spirit is eternal.
Divine Attributes of the Holy Spirit:

Omnipresence: Psalm 139:7-10 Omniscience: 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11 Sovereign Omnipotence: 1 Corinthians 12:11 Eternal: Hebrews 9:14 Takes part in the creating of all things: Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4 Holy Spirit mentioned in conjunction with the Father and the Son: Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14
Personality of the
Holy Spirit

Only a person can do the following: Speak: Acts 13:2 Teach: John 14:20 Send out workers: Acts 13:4 Be lied to and tempted: Acts 5:3, 4, 9 Be grieved: Ephesians 4:30 Be blasphemed: Matthew 12:31 Exercise will: 1 Corinthians 12:11 These are all attributes of personhood.

Spiritualism

Have you ever driven past a building with a sign on the lawn that read, “First Spiritualist Church”? It may call itself a church, but it is not Christian—by any stretch of the Christian theological imagination.

Beginnings

On March 31, 1848, the two Fox sisters (Margaretta—14 years old, and Katie—12 years old) were visited by “Mr. Splitfoot.” Mr. Splitfoot was a spirit who thrilled the young girls by answering their questions with “rappings.” For example, one of the girls said, “Now, do just as I do. Count one, two, three, four” (she clapped her hands as she spoke). The spirit answered by rapping the same number of claps. Public demonstrations followed, and the audiences grew to such an extent that they needed larger meeting places. On November 14, 1849, the mediums Margaretta and Katie held the first Spiritualist meeting in Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York.

From that point on, Spiritualist phenomena captured the attention of thousands of people, as is evidenced by the springing up of psychical research societies throughout Europe and the United States. Even at Duke University in 1927, J. B. Rhine conducted experiments to investigate psychic phenomena. Many of these societies, as well as others that have surfaced since, exist today. Needless to say, with the rise of these societies, churches were formed to give the faithful a place to express belief in psychic phenomena.

Practices of Spiritualism

I have attended several meetings of Spiritualist churches (do not do this unless you are called of God to do so). In these meetings certain spirit phenomena occur. Those who lead the meetings are Spiritualist ministers and have been trained as mediums. Mediums serve to bring spirits and their accompanying phenomena to those attending. In this way they serve as “mediators” between the realm of the flesh and the realm of the spirit.

Doing so involves different skills on the part of the medium. Clairvoyance (“clear seeing” or “soul seeing”) allows the medium to see the spirit realm (or spirits) and to convey messages from the spirit realm to attendees of the service. Clairaudience means “clear hearing,” where sprit entities interchange thoughts with the medium. The medium in turn gives the message to individuals at the meeting. Clairsentience is the practice by which the medium senses a contact with the spirit realm. This is sometimes called “the sixth sense.”

Perhaps the most exciting event that occurs at either Spiritualist meetings or séances is when “ectoplasm,” a living material substance sometimes described as a milky white substance, exudes from the body of the medium (and those attending the séance) and lifts tables and other objects (levitation). The most sensational form of this comes about when the ectoplasm attaches itself to an actual spirit (a deceased relative), who thereby establishes contact with those at the séance. This is called “materialization.”

The Theology of Spiritualism

When Jesus appeared to hundreds of people after His death, He “materialized.” There is no resurrection. There is materialization. In this sense Jesus became the spirit guide of His disciples and could materialize and dematerialize at will.

Its doctrine of God is panentheistic. Panentheism teaches that God is “in” the world in the sense that just as the soul is in the body, so God is in the world. The world is, then, God’s body. God is therefore an impersonal infinite intelligence that pervades the world.

Further, “Jesus Christ was not ‘Alimighty God,’ ” but was simply a man (Spiritualism denies the virgin birth). Spiritualism tacitly rejects the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Also, Jesus is one of many Christs, one of many people that have come into the world to enlighten the world. Beware, though, that Spiritualists affirm the “divinity” of Jesus. But they do not mean this in the biblical sense. Instead, Jesus was divine as every child of God is divine. Spiritualists will even say Jesus is unique, in that He was the greatest medium that ever lived.

Related to this is the Spiritualist teaching that Jesus and “the Christ” are separate entities. Christ is an impersonal “principle of divine love.” Jesus was a man who embodied and expressed this principle.

The Holy Spirit is not a person. It is “spirit power” or “spirit control.” Thus, when we read in the Bible that the Holy Spirit came upon believers, it was simply a manifestation of people coming under the control of some kind of spirit guide.

As for humanity, Spiritualism affirms the spark of divinity in every person. Each person contains all that God is.

What is salvation? Man is his own savior, and there is no need for the vicarious blood atonement of Jesus Christ. Heaven and hell are states of mind, states of consciousness for which we are responsible. The Spiritualist view of the afterlife is one of transition from the earth plane to the spirit plane. “There is no death,” says the Spiritualist, “only transition to that plane where there eventually will be pure spiritual bliss and where God is love and love is God.”

Christian Response

The spirits of dead relatives are not dead relatives. Either they are the product of the imagination or they are demons. Jesus is the unique Son of God, the Christ, second person of the Trinity. He gave Himself in substitutionary atonement for His people. He is not a medium. He condemns mediums (see Lev. 19:31; 20:6). He was bodily resurrected, and was not a materialized spirit. God is tri-personal, not some impersonal soul whom the world embodies. Humanity is sinful, not divine. Humanity is therefore in need of a personal Savior, Jesus. Finally, heaven and hell are real, and are two places where all people go after death, depending on whether or not one believes in the biblical Christ.

Encountering Mormons with the Truth on the Atlanta Subway

I got on the Atlanta subway (MARTA) to head home as usual, but the very second I stepped in the door I knew it would not be like any other ride home. I immediately saw two young men around twenty years of age standing just a short distance inside talking to some fellow passengers. What caused them to stand out was not that they were wearing nice suits and were well groomed and well mannered, but that they were wearing badges on their lapel. One read “Elder [name withheld]—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (LDS, or Mormons). They were LDS missionaries on their traditional two-year mission away from home, and were in Atlanta going door to door or train to train to promote Mormonism.

As I got my place on the train, I saw one of them quietly sitting down holding the Book of Mormon. The other was talking to another man about Atlanta. My adrenaline raced. I prayed to God asking not whether I should talk to them, but how to talk, what He wanted me to say, and how to break into conversation in a gentle but bold way. While neither of them made eye contact with me, God gave me the path to take and the words to say. I approached one of them and asked, “Is that the Book of Mormon?” He looked up at me with a big smile and said, “Yes. Have you heard of it?” That’s all it took to start us off on a spiritual conversation for the next thirty minutes.

After inquiring, he told me that he was from Wyoming and that he was also a Sioux Indian. That helped to break more ice because I rent a place on an Indian reservation in NC from a Cherokee Indian who is currently in prison. He did not know of any of the Christian ministries that reach out to Native American Indians—such as CHIEF— but that helped to open more doors and to keep the conversation on spiritual grounds.

The Book of Mormon is not a toy! It is full of deception and false doctrine. It plagiarizes the Old Testament and replaces the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ with a false Jesus. (For more on Mormon teachings, see the SDM booklet on Mormonism at www.sdmin.com, or see the back of this newsletter on how to order it.)

I like to pose a question to Mormons that will cause a deeper spiritual investigation into what they believe. This was once revealed to me while discussing the Book of Mormon with a couple of LDS missionaries, and is based on a passage within it. I ask, “There’s something that has always been curious to me that I read once in the Book of Mormon, and I’d like your thoughts, if that is OK?” We then turn to Mormon 9:32-33, and I read it out loud:

“And now, behold we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record” (emphases mine). I then state, “This tells us that God is not

concerned when it comes to preserving His Divine Word, so He allowed it to be written on small plates, which forced them to write in altered reformed Egyptian, and it is admitting to be an imperfect record.” Now I present the question: “This is the translation that Joseph Smith has given you, admitting to be in error. Do you still want to put your faith in this spiritual philosophy for your eternal security and end up in errors as well?”

At this time both Mormons were staring at the passage and looked up with a puzzled look on their faces. I waited silently for their answer. Even people on the subway standing nearby awaited the Mormons’ answer! The Mormons looked at each other and one said, “Gee, we don’t have an answer for you. Maybe one of our friends can help give you an answer.” I then responded, “I think you need to find the answer for yourself. It is your eternity and your faith to which I refer. This question is for you, not for me. I know where I put my faith.”

The train made a stop and some people departed and we were able to sit down. Upon doing so two more Mormons sat down near us. One of them turned to me and said politely, “I hope you don’t feel we are ganging up on you.” “No, not at all,” I said, “I never feel out-numbered.”

Then I went on to another subject. I asked them how they reconcile Isaiah 45:5—“I am the Lord and there is no other; besides Me there is no God”—with a statement from one of their past leaders, Lorenzo Snow, who said, “As man now is, God once was: as God now is, man may be.” I saw more blank stares and puzzled looks.

By the time the train got to the last stop, there were at least 20 Mormons standing on the station platform. They asked me to do a few things, which I’ve heard from LDS missionaries before—read the Book of Mormon, read the book of James, and ask God for the truth. I told them that I have done all that and more, and God has given me the truth—THE Gospel and not “another gospel.” The conversation ended and I said I’d pray that God would give them the answers to these questions that they currently did not have. As we departed they mentioned that someone was picking them up at the station. When I got back to my car I remembered I had the booklet from SDM on Mormonism. I quickly raced through the parking deck and around the block to the other exit to meet them as they were pulling out. God caused another divine encounter. I put my name and phone number on the back and asked the driver to give it to the Sioux Indian. He smiled and said “OK,” and drove off.

Only God knows whose hands it really went in and how that train conversation will be used to lead them out from the grip of the spiritual deception in the LDS church. Pray for them. Pray for their salvation. Pray that our God and Savior Jesus Christ would reveal Himself to them.

*Don Carver is SDM’s Atlanta correspondent. He is active in reaching cultists with the Gospel of Christ, and in training Christians to do the same.

Reiki – Strictly Secular

“Volunteers at the Reiki clinic [at the Tuscon Medical Center] have found it helpful not to use metaphysical terms when talking to patients or to hospital staff about Reiki. Terms like aura, chakras, energy bodies, etc. tend to cause confusion and mistrust”—William Lee Rand

A few months ago a Christian who worked at Portsmouth Regional Hospital (PRH) in Portsmouth NH contacted me about a concern she and other Christian staff workers shared. The hospital offers Reiki to patients. Further, it offers Reiki without any mention that it is a religious practice. I was allowed to speak to a gathering of staff at PRH to present the case that it was indeed grounded in religion. They were not convinced. There were three Reiki Practitioners present, one of which was a “Reiki Master.” Later, a Portsmouth Hospital spokesperson stated in a letter to me that “our presentation and use of this practice to all patients is only as a secular relaxation technique.”

PRH is not alone. Reiki treatments can be found in many hospitals, such as the Tucson Medical Center, Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Hospital in New York, and California Pacific Medical Center. Is it simply a secular relaxation technique?

What Is Reiki?

Reiki means “Universal Life Force” (Portsmouth Regional Hospital, a brochure titled Reiki). It was discovered by Mikao Usui in the mid-1800’s.

How Does It Work?

This “ancient art of healing” is accomplished through the “laying on of hands” (ibid.). It is based on the premise that there is a “Universal Life Force” (Reiki) that permeates and animates all things. We have this Universal Life Force in us. The brochure from PRH stated that this Life force is known by various names in different cultures —in Japan as Ki, in India as Prana, in China as Chi, and in Western traditions as Spirit. Sometimes the Universal Life Force becomes unbalanced, causing illnesses of various kinds.

Chakras are spiritual energy centers existing throughout the body. There are seven total chakras, and each has a list of body organs with which they are associated. The patient tells the Reiki Practitioner what the illness is, the Practitioner then lays her/his hands on the patient, thereby “adding more energy to our ‘life force’ ” (PRH brochure). This brings balance to the Universal Life Force in the patient, restoring health.

Is Reiki a Religious Practice?

Without a doubt it is a religious practice. The problem with Reiki is its packaging—it is a clever way of bringing a healing technique based on the theology of pantheism (all is God) to the West. Reiki’s underlying pantheistic philosophy/theology is packaged in non-religious-sounding words, or in words that we here in the West do not recognize (and do not bother to define). Set forth in the way that the PRH brochure conveys, its supernatural and religious nature flies over the heads of the untrained and unsuspecting person.

For example, many will no doubt notice that Universal Life Energy is just another name for God in the frameworks of Eastern religions. The idea that God is all and permeates all comes directly from some forms of Buddhism, particularly Vajrayana.

And what about the “laying on of hands”? Is this not a religious practice when it is in the context of directing the Universal Life Force?

When I went on-line into the net to look for some information on Reiki, I was amazed at how blatantly religious it was. Terms like “God-consciousness” and “chakras,” and phrases like the “one Supreme Being” and “the Absolute Infinite” (describing the Universal Life Force) characterized Reiki (found at the web page of The International Center for Reiki Training at www.reiki.org).

What’s Wrong with Reiki at Hospitals?

Obviously, Reiki Practitioners have a right to offer their services at hospitals. What disturbs me is that Reiki is not offered to patients as a religious service. It should be. Instead, Reiki is portrayed to unsuspecting patients as a “secular” practice or simply a “relaxation technique.” Further, from the perspective of God it is a counterfeit system of healing based on a counterfeit view of God, offering a means of “oneness” with God apart from the biblical Christ. Christians, therefore, should keep far away from Reiki and counsel others to do the same (it is also a great context in which to share the Gospel!).

As the Lord provides the opportunity, we should get the word out as to the true nature of Reiki.

DID HE SAY THAT? COPELAND, HAGIN, HINN

Through books, tapes, radio and television, the influence of Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin and Benny Hinn upon Christians is astounding. Many of us are unaware of the serious doctrinal deviations proclaimed by these men. Following are selected quotations.

Copeland

In his February 1987 issue of Believer’s Voice of Victory magazine, Copeland delivered a prophecy in which Jesus spoke through him: “They crucified Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn’t claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me. Hallelujah. That’s what you’re doing” (p. 9, emphases added). Would Jesus say this? Who, then, was speaking through Copeland?

Because Copeland is not aware of the meaning of “firstborn” when it describes Jesus (it depicts, in part, enthronement and exaltation, not the first one to be born again, as Copeland teaches), he makes the following error, implicitly denying the uniqueness of Christ: “Now listen! From the Book of Acts, all the way through all of the epistles, all the way through the Revelation of John, Jesus is no longer called the only begotten-Son of God” (audiotape, “What Happened from the Cross to the Throne”).

Speaking of Adam, and again implicitly denying the uniqueness of Christ, Copeland states, “Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus. When He came into the earth He said, ‘If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.’ He wasn’t a lot like God; He’s God manifested in the flesh. And I want you to know something. Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh. He was God’s very image, the very likeness. Everything he did, everything he said, every move he made was the very image of the Almighty God” (audiotape, “Following the Faith of Abraham”).

Copeland teaches that Jesus was born again. This is known as the Born Again Jesus doctrine, wherein on the cross Jesus took on the nature of Satan, died, went into hell to finish His work (He did not finish it on the cross!) and was born again out of hell: “Jesus was the firstborn man to ever be born from sin to righteousness…. You have to realize that He died! You have to realize that He went into the pit of hell as a mortal man made sin! But He didn’t stay there. Thank God! He was reborn in the pit of hell” (audiotape, “What Happened from the Cross to the Throne”). But only sinners must be born again. What, then, does this teaching say about Jesus?

Key to Copeland’s theology is that believers are gods: “You don’t have a god in you; you are one” (audiotape, “The Force of Love”). But Copeland takes this even further, and is consistent with his above implicit denials of the uniqueness of Christ: “And I say this with all respect, so that it don’t upset you too bad. But I say it anyway. When I read in the Bible where He says, ‘I Am,’ I just smile and say, ‘Yes, I Am, too!’ [the audience responds here with “Amen!”]” (“Believer’s Voice of Victory” broadcast, TBN, July 19, 1987).
Kenneth Hagin

The Born Again Jesus doctrine is proclaimed by Hagin: “Jesus is the first person ever to be born again” (Kenneth Hagin, The Name of Jesus, 29-30). Hagin as well implicitly denies the uniqueness of Christ when he writes, “The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth” (“The Incarnation,” Word of Faith magazine, December 1980, p. 14).

Hinn’s Way Out Statements

Here is a sampling of the teachings of Benny Hinn. The first concerns Adam: “Adam was a super being when God created him. I don’t know whether people even know this, but he was the first superman that really ever lived. First of all, the Scriptures declare clearly that he had dominion over the fowls of the air, the fish of the sea, which means he used to fly! Well, of course! How can you have dominion over the birds and not be able to do what they do? I’ll prove it to you. The word ‘dominion’ in the Hebrew clearly declares that if you have dominion over a subject, that you do everything that subject does…. I’ll prove it further. Adam not only flew, he flew to space. He used to be, he, he, he, he, he, he was, with one thought he’d be on the moon” (audiotape on file with SDM from the Christian Research Institute).

Concerning believers being gods: “Kenneth Hagin has a teaching. A lot of people have problems with it, yet it is absolute truth. Kenneth Copeland has a teaching. Many Christians have put holes in it, but it’s divine truth. Hagin and Copeland say, ‘You are God. Ye are God.’ [Hinn now anticipates a response] ‘Huhhh! I can’t be God!’ Hold it. Let’s bring balance to this teaching. The balance that is being taught by Hagin–it’s those that repeat him that mess it up. The balance is being taught by Copeland who is my dear friend–but it’s those that repeat what he says that are messing it up. You see there brother! When Jesus was on earth, the Bible says that first He disrobed Himself of the divine form. He, the limitless God, became a man, that we men may become as He is” (Ibid.).

Warning the Ephesian elders, Paul rightly anticipated the infestation of false teaching that would come from within the four walls of the church (Acts 20:29-30). It is no different today. From many sides the uniqueness of Christ is denied or downplayed, man is exalted to a place never intended by God’s Word, and all kinds of strange doctrines are allowed to go virtually unchecked so that in time they become “truth” for the undiscerning. Watch!

Wicca

Wicca (coming from the old English “wita” [counselor] or “wis” [wise]) is a term for modern-day witchcraft as invented in England by Gerald Gardner in the early to middle part of this century. With England’s law against witchcraft repealed in 1951, the religion of Wicca traveled extensively abroad. Raymond Buckland was primarily responsible for introducing Wicca to the United States in the 1960’s.

Some claim that Wicca is the “Old Religion,” and that Gardner merely revived it. I am of the opinion, however, that Gardner merely drew from pagan sources and rituals to invent Wicca. Freemasonry is one of these sources. To see the enactment of a wiccan initiation (which I have) is to see many elements from the ritual of Masonry in wiccan garb.

Though this treatment of Wicca can by no means be exhaustive, and in recognition that Wicca is quite diverse, there are nonetheless several theological / philosophical traits common to Wicca. I shall detail five of them, and then offer an approach for a Christian apologetic and evangelism.

Worldview

The worldview of Wicca is multi-faceted. First, it is “Animistic.” Here, all things are animated by “Spirit” (or the “Life Force,” or “Energy”). Second, it is “Pantheistic,” in that God (the ABSOLUTE ONE) cannot be separated from nature. Consequently, humanity participates in God and is God. Third, understand that though all is God, there are diverse realities within God as humanity participates in God. For this reason, it is claimed, groups that are quite diverse (I would say contradictory as well) in belief and practice are able to exist harmoniously with each other (taken from Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon [Boston: Beacon Press, 1989], 25).

Goddess / God

This is the female and male aspect of the genderless ABSOLUTE ONE. Some wiccans see these as personal beings. Others view them as aspects of the personality, or the self. They are given various names, but in the ritualistic circle (a metaphysical circle of a certain circumference for the performance of ritual) the High Priestess of the coven (group of witches) is the Goddess incarnate, and the High Priest (if there is one; and he is not a “warlock”) is the God incarnate. They experience the God/Goddess within all men and women.

Magic

It plays a big part in Wicca. Some witches see magic as supernatural, while others view it as natural, but both see it as a tapping in to “Energy” through various techniques. There are four steps to understanding the mechanics of magic. First, the witch believes that there exists a Power / Energy / Life Force throughout the universe. Second, this Power can be aroused. Third, this Power can be programmed. Finally, this Power can be directed toward a desired goal through the “spell” (words, chants, gestures with tools, etc.) (see S. Cunningham, The Truth About Witchcraft [St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 1988], 7, 4).

Morality

The wiccan rede (creed) is, “And it harm none, do what you will.” A law of three-fold retribution exists within Wicca. Do evil and it will return to you three-fold; do good and it will also return to you three-fold.

Reincarnation

Reincarnation is basically the belief that the soul, at death, returns to another physical existence. Witches may see reincarnation as the vehicle of perfection, in order that the soul may be prepared to reunite with the ABSOLUTE ONE.

Witnessing to Wiccans

There are two routes you can take. First is the philosophical. Here we take the worldview of wiccans (included here is the view of morality) and ask them some serious questions. For example, within the ABSOLUTE ONE are there contradictory realities? And is this a God they would want to trust? Further, “What if,” I once asked a High Priestess, “it is my reality and religious path to slit your throat, that I may be cleansed of my sin with your blood?” The answer came in a hurry, “You can’t do that! You mustn’t harm anyone!” “But who,” I asked, “defines what harm is? What good is? Where do we get a definition of ‘harm’ and ‘good’?” “From within,” came the reply. I countered, “What if I define from within what harm is and what good is, and it comes out different from your definitions?” She answered, “Well, you just can’t!” You can also take the biblical route. But here we must be careful to secure that the witch sees the Bible as, at the very least, somewhat authoritative. Thus, in our conversation with witches, watch to see if they are quoting the Bible, or stating something to you that they get from the Bible. For example, after conversing with this High Priestess, I moved to another witch. She started talking about Jesus! (This most likely was because I introduced myself as a Christian.) Although what she was saying was not biblical, I asked her what gave her the idea that Jesus existed, and then where it was that she believed He taught those things. “From the Bible,” she responded. Well, as you can imagine, I was off and running with that one, asking her to read passages that state that He is uniquely God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14, 18), the only way (John 14:6), and that the Bible refutes reincarnation (Heb. 9:27).

In both situations outlined above, the ultimate goal is to share the Gospel with wiccans. Having (by God’s grace) collapsed their worldview from under them, or having seized upon their use of the Bible in some way, we can then proceed to encourage them to receive Jesus Christ, the true and biblical Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.

On the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity has been tried, tested, attacked, and redefined throughout the centuries. The Christian, in the face of these challenges, must stand up and give a reasoned defense of what the doctrine is. Moreover, the Christian must in this defense be thoroughly biblical, taking great care to enunciate what the Scripture says regarding the doctrine.

The following explanation of the doctrine of the Trinity is given (1) to encourage and edify the reader, and (2) to furnish the reader with an apologetic-type explanation of the doctrine in the hope that it would be used to communicate the doctrine to those who either struggle with it or deny it outright.

Some Presuppositions

A presupposition is something assumed or taken for granted. For our purpose we shall assume three things: (1) the Bible is the word of God; (2) we are finite in knowledge and understanding; (3) God is infinite in nature. Therefore, although we cannot fully comprehend how the one God is three persons (because of presuppositions 2 and 3), we can nonetheless fully apprehend that the one God is three persons (because of presupposition 1). It now remains to explain the doctrine.

The Doctrine

There are three sentences furnishing the explanation of the doctrine, each with Scripture to support them. I shall first state the doctrine, and then I shall elaborate upon the statement.

There is one God (Isa. 43:10). God is the Father (2 Pet. 1:17), and the Son (John 20:28), and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). The three distinct persons are the one God (Matt. 28:19).

There is one God. Christianity is monotheistic–it believes in the existence of only one God: “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after me” (Isa. 43:10). Other “so-called” gods (cf. 1 Cor. 8:5) do not in reality exist (cf. Gal. 4:8).

God is the Father. In 2 Peter 1:17 we have a person called the Father, and He is called God: “For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased.'”
And the Son. In John 20:28 Thomas confesses Jesus as both Lord and God. We therefore have a person called the Son, and He is called God: “Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!'”

And the Holy Spirit. Peter in Acts 5:3 exclaims, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” He then states that Ananias has “not lied to men, but to God” (v. 4). Here we have a person called the Holy Spirit, and He is called God.

If there is only one God, and we have three persons in the New Testament that are called God, we must conclude that somehow the three persons are the one God (remember our presuppositions).

The three distinct persons are the one God. Matthew 28:19 states, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The “name”–the authority–into which believers are baptized and are identified with is “of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” “Name” is singular, and consists of the three distinct persons. Why distinct? A Greek grammatical rule states that when two or more nouns (must be personal, singular, and non-proper names) are connected by “and” (kai) and are each preceded by the definite article “the,” they must be understood as separate and distinct. Here we have three nouns (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) that are each preceded by the definite article “the” (tou) and are separated by “and” (kai):

eis to onoma tou patros kai tou

in the name of the Father and of the

huiou kai tou hagiou pneumatos

Son and of the Holy Spirit

In part, it is for this reason the Church believes that the one God (the one name, the one authority) with whom believers are identified, and by whom believers are owned, is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and that the three distinct persons exist simultaneously as the one God.

ROBERT SCHULLER & NORMAN V. PEALE

Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale are credited by most to be Christian ministers. Schuller is best known for his Crystal Cathedral and “The Hour of Power” television program. Norman Vincent Peale, now deceased, is one of the most widely read inspirational writers of all time. He was an ordained minister (he was also a Mason) and served as pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City. Without doubt they have influenced millions. Christians, of course, are among these millions. But, unfortunately, most Christians are unaware of the heretical teachings of these two men. This article will demonstrate that both Schuller and Peale, at the very least, command a most discerning eye and ear from Christians.

Schuller’s Gospel of Self-Esteem

Schuller rocked the Christian world with his book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1982). “Self-esteem,” writes Schuller, “is the single greatest need facing the human race today” (p. 19). Even though he earlier stated that “the deepest of all human needs is salvation from sin and hell” (p. 14), he continues on this same page to offer redefinitions of sin and hell: “Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem.” He then defines hell as “the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God,” and that “a person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem” (pp. 14-15).

Later on in the book Schuller redefines another most essential phrase: “To be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image–from inferiority to self-esteem, from fear to love, from doubt to trust” (p. 68). It is then that we can pray, “Our Father in heaven, honorable is our name” (p. 69, emphasis original). This should come as no surprise to his readers, for earlier Schuller stated that “[w]here the sixteenth-century Reformation returned our focus to sacred Scriptures as the only infallible rule for faith and practice, the new reformation will return our focus to the sacred right of every person to self-esteem!” Finally, speaking of classical reformed theology and its insistence that we are rebellious sinners, he calls this “too shallow,” and states that “[i]t is precisely at this point that classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered,’ not ‘man-centered'” (pp. 63-64).

Schuller’s Possibility Thinking

Schuller’s concept of human success is grounded in what he calls “possibility thinking.” More recently Schuller has written a book titled, If It’s Going to Be, It’s Up to Me (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997). As the title suggests, what happens to us is grounded in what we think. Speaking of Matthew 7:13-14, wherein the Lord talks about the broad way leading to destruction, and the narrow way leading to life, Schuller corrupts the words of Jesus with this blasphemous interpretation: “What’s Jesus really saying? There are two tracks we can take. The Broad track, which leads to final futility, folly, and failure, is the track I call impossibility thinking…. Then there’s the narrow way…. I call it possibility thinking” (p. 16). In the following Schuller has again twisted the words of Christ to fit his paradigm, and in doing so rings of New Age thought: “He proclaimed these powerful words: ‘The Kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:21). This means there’s an Eternal Creative Force within you. Mind and matter are alive with an energy that can be tapped and channeled to joyful creativity” (p. 9).

Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking

Norman Vincent Peale’s spiritual package involves the self-esteem gospel as well as positive thinking to bring into existence things that one desires. The Power of Positive Thinking (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1956) states, “Go about your business on the assumption that what you have affirmed and visualized is true. Affirm it, visualize it, believe it, and it will actualize itself. The release of power which this procedure stimulates will astonish you” (p. 5). Peale describes this practice as “channeling spiritual powers through your thoughts” (introduction). This, however, is more akin to the “magical” practices of the Mind Science cults (practices that were later to be used by those in the Word-Faith Movement) than to the teaching of Scripture.

Peale’s Positive Imaging

A companion book to the above is Peale’s Positive Imaging (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1982). “Imaging,” says Peale, “is positive thinking carried one step further…. This releases powerful internal forces that can bring about astonishing changes in the life of the person who is doing the imaging” (pp. 1, 2). But these “forces” are not only “internal”: “If you consistently picture the best–not the worst–happening to you, powerful forces will work to bring about the thing you are visualizing…. Agnes Sanford, the famous healer, wrote in her book The Healing Light, ‘One way to understand a hitherto unexplored force of nature is to experiment with that force intelligently and with an open mind.’ Exactly so” (p. 186). Yet, Peale does not claim to be the first to teach this, Jesus was: “He was the first to teach the power of imaging. He told His disciples, quite plainly, that what they pictured with faith would come to pass” (p. 189).

Phil Donahue Interview

The May 12, 1997 issue of the Christian News carried an article on Peale. In it is contained a transcript of an interview of Peale by the famed talk-show host Phil Donahue. Peale’s answers to the pointed questions of Donahue reveal much. We start with a remark by Peale: “It’s not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God; I have mine. I found eternal peace in a Shinto shrine…. I’ve been to the Shinto shrines, and God is everywhere.” Donahue then rebutted, “But you’re a Christian minister; you’re supposed to tell me that Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life, aren’t you?” Peale countered, “Christ is one of the ways! God is everywhere” (p. 11). I mentioned earlier in this article that Peale was a Mason. His remarks to Donahue are perfectly compatible with Masonic philosophy and theology.

A Warning to Christians

The apostle Paul commanded the Thessalonian Christians to “test all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). They were not to despise prophetic utterances (v. 20), but nonetheless were to be ever watchful and to weigh what was said. We may apply that practice to our situation today, seeing in it very wise counsel–TEST EVERYTHING! Just because someone claims to be a Christian and is ordained in a certain denomination does not guarantee that that person is setting forth solid Christian truth.

Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale have found a welcome reception for their gospels of self-esteem, from non-Christians and from Christians. Both of these men have cut the very legs out from under the Gospel of Christ, which is Good News because humanity is headed for hell, and humanity is sinful to the core, deserving the wrath of a holy and righteous God. Stay clear of–and warn others about–these different gospels, possibility thinking, positive thinking and positive imaging. They tickle the ears, but are not the truth.

L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah?

The late L. Ron Hubbard, author of the best-seller Dianetics and founder of the Church of Scientology in the early 1950’s, has influenced millions of people the world over with his philosophy of life. Such notables as a Tom Cruise, Chick Corea, Sonny Bono, and John Travolta have endorsed Hubbard’s teachings.
Dianetics is not only the name of Hubbard’s best-seller, but is a practice as well. Dianetics is the psycho-therapeutic side to Hubbard’s philosophy, claiming to rid people of engrams (mental image pictures stored in the sub-conscious, or “reactive mind”) through Dianetic Auditing. Once a person is freed from these engrams, he is said to have attained the state of “clear.”

Scientology is the religious side of Hubbard’s philosophy, and contains within it Dianetics Auditing. It holds certain doctrines, such as Christ’s crucifixion being “a symbol to man of the triumph of the spirit over death itself” (What is Scientology, xxvii), and “that man is basically good” (The Church of Scientology: The Background and Ceremonies, 30).

Hubbard also admits that various philosophies of the East have influenced him in the forming of his philosophy. For example, he states that “The Veda [holy books of Hinduism]…. A great deal of our material in Scientology is discovered right back there” (The Phoenix Lectures, 12). He cites Buddhism as well: “a Scientologist is a first cousin to the Buddhist” (What is Scientology, 7).

It is with respect to Buddhism that I wish to devote the remainder of this article, and narrow that down further to a specific claim of Hubbard’s within Buddhism. Hubbard claimed to be the fulfillment of Buddhist prophecy concerning the coming of “Maitreya” (or “Metteya”). But first some introductory comments.

In the Book, What is Scientology, we read, “For more than two millennia Man had dreamed of a spiritual state where, free of his own mental aberrations, he would be truly himself. L. Ron Hubbard called this state ‘Clear’…. The dream of Buddha [Siddhartha Gautama, ca. 563 BC], attained by the few, was a reality–Man could be clear” (p. 325). Hubbard once stated, “You will be Buddhas [enlightened ones] All. This I promise you” (Hymn of Asia, no page numbers). This squarely sets the context for Hubbard’s claim to be the coming of Maitreya.

The Hymn of Asia is a poem written by Hubbard for a Buddhist convention in the mid-1950’s. The introduction to the actual poem, written by the editors, concerns itself with a prophecy of the coming Messiah, the Lord Metteya (or Maitreya). We read: “Siddhartha Gautama’s work even set the precedent for an applied religious philosophy which finally re-blossomed in the West some 2,000 years later…. But Siddhartha Gautama did not regard himself as an end point. He looked upon his work as incomplete and prophesized that at a later time a successor would arise to complete his work. The most specific wording of this prediction in Buddhist literature states that 2,500 years after Buddha a red-haired or golden-haired man would arise in the West to complete the Job Buddha began. In Buddhist literature his name is known as Metteya (or Metteyya with two y’s) in Pali, or Maitreya in Sanskrit.” The editors then quote from Buddha himself and from Tibetan Buddhist materials, which repeat many of the above statements.

Then begins Hubbard’s poem to the Buddhist convention. I shall cite excerpts: “Am I Metteya?…. I come to bring you all that Lord Buddha would have you know of life, Earth and Man…. Am I white? Do I have Golden Hair?…. Study the wisdom that I have to say and you will be Bodhi [awakened]…. Am I Metteya?…. Address me and you address Lord Buddha…. I am the beginning. I am the end…. Even your own prophecies centuries Old said I would appear in the Western World. I appeared.”

The Lord Jesus warns, “See to it that know one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ, and will mislead many” (Matt. 24:4-5).

Sources

Based on the Works of L. Ron Hubbard.

What is Scientology. Los Angeles, Calif.: Church of Scientology, Publications Organization, 1978.

No Author. The Church of Scientology: The Background and Ceremonies. Los Angeles, Calif.: Publications Organization, 1980.

L. Ron Hubbard. The Phoenix Lectures. Los Angeles, Calif.: Publications Organization, 1969.

Hymn of Asia. Los Angeles, Calif.: Publications Organization, 1974.

Freemasonry & the Deity

(Following are excerpts from the book, Masonic Rites and Wrongs, Steven Tsoukalas, P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 1995)

As we begin our critique of Masonic theology, there is a fundamental principle that needs to be understood. Common among Grand Lodges throughout the world is the practice that initiates state a trusting belief in a Supreme Being. He may believe in Allah, Jehovah, God [generically], Jesus, Krishna, Brahman, or another Deity.

Blue Lodge rituals throughout the world feature a prayer in the Entered Apprentice [first] degree: “Vouchsafe Thine aid, Almighty Father and Supreme Governor of the Universe, to this our present convention, and grant that this Candidate for Freemasonry may so dedicate and devote his life to Thy service as to become a true and faithful Brother among us. Endue him with a competency of Thy divine wisdom, that assisted by the secrets of our Masonic art, he may the better be enabled to unfold the beauties of true godliness, to the honour and glory of Thy Holy Name” (Emulation Ritual [London: Lewis Masonic, 1986], 67).

The Masonic name for God is T.G.A.O.T.U., “the Great Architect of the Universe.” The Masonic designation for God is a canopy designation, since, as will be shown, T.G.A.O.T.U. is able to contain in Himself all the various deities of different Masons. If Freemasonry requires of its initiates belief in a Supreme Being, then it is possible for men who believe in either Krishna or Jesus, Brahman or Vishnu, Allah or Jehovah to be Masons.

Now what happens when a Muslim, a Hindu, a Unitarian, and a Christian attend the same Lodge meeting and bow their heads to the preceding prayer?

The answer is that during ritual [again, see the preceding prayer], prayers are offered, addressing T.G.A.O.T.U., and the person praying uses the pronouns “we” and/or “our,” meaning that T.G.A.O.T.U. is addressed by someone in behalf of all the Masons assembled…. [This] strengthens my observation that T.G.A.O.T.U. is a canopy designation for the Masonic God.

[Noted Masonic scholar Allen E. Roberts writes:] “You have learned that Freemasonry calls God ‘The Great Architect of the Universe.’ This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of His choice. In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe” (The Craft and Its Symbols [Richmond: Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Co., 1974], 6).
This strongly implies that ritual seeks, at the very least, to take up all the various possible deities of Masons in any one particular Lodge room and bring them under the canopy designation T.G.A.O.T.U. Thus, Blue Lodge [foundational Masonry, the first three degrees] Freemasonry does define God! It does so in a most subtle way by not initially obligating the candidate to define which God he believes in, but then in practice placing all candidates’ gods under its canopy designation. By doing this the Craft [a synonym for Masonry] defines who God is.

End of excerpts

The canopy Deity of Freemasonry is clearly not the God of the Bible. Rather than defining God as He reveals Himself in the Bible–as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–Freemasonry in offers an all-inclusive Deity.

As Christians we are sure to come into contact, either directly or indirectly, with Freemasonry. And we may need to communicate to a Mason who claims to be a Christian that Freemasonry is incompatible with Christianity.

I recommend asking them these questions: (1) Who is the God of the Bible? (2) Does Freemasonry call God “The Great Architect of the Universe”? (3) Can Masons be Hindus, Unitarians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.? (4) I s this prayer given in your Lodge (read to them the “Vouchsafe Thine aid…” prayer)? (5) Is it possible for Hindus, Buddhists, Unitarians, Muslims, and Christians to pray together in a Lodge room? (6) Is ONE Deity being addressed in this prayer and in other prayers in your Lodge? (7) Does Freemasonry define this God as the biblical triune God? (8) Then just who is being prayed to?