(Marsha West – Christian Research Network) “It’s not easy being green,” crooned Kermit the Frog. “People tend to pass you over…because you’re not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water, or stars in the sky.”
It’s not easy being a “Christian Discerner” either. But, as Kermit sang, “I think it’s what I want to be.” Like the little green frog, I’m not standing out like flashy sparkles. But I’m okay with that….because I think a discerner is what God wants me to be.
For the time being, anyway.
Over the years I’ve spent a great deal of time investigating the cults, occult, and all sorts of aberrant religious movements that have crept into evangelicalism like a thief in the night. Whenever I come across something that violates biblical principles, I don’t keep it to myself. I share it on my blog, Christian Research Network and on my Facebook page.
It probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that Christian Discerners can become discouraged. Speaking for myself, I’ve discovered a lot of “bad stuff” about Christian luminaries over the years, even those I admired at the time. For one thing, I’ve discovered that men and women I thought were trustworthy are up to their earlobes in false teaching. Even our leaders can and have failed the Berean test (Acts 11:17). Which is the reason so many of them have wandered off the straight and narrow path onto Wolf Lane. It’s distressing that Christ’s beloved sheep fill their minds with unbiblical teaching from popular Bible teachers without adhering to John’s warning: Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)
The facts bear out that a growing number of evangelicals have little or no grasp of sound doctrine. Simply stated, they don’t understand the basics of what they believe. If asked, they’re unable to defend their faith. And yet, 1 Peter 3:15 admonishes, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” The main reason Christians cannot defend the faith is because they’re not reading/studying the Bible. Moreover, many of those who consider themselves Christians are under the influence of wolves in sheep’s clothing. So naturally they parrot the error they’ve been exposed to.
As a result, a growing number of Christ’s sheep have no clue that some ministers, Bible teachers, writers, event speakers, entertainers, film makers and so on aren’t feeding them a healthy diet. On the contrary. Even highly regarded Church leaders and pastors dispense arsenic to the flock without them knowing it!
Make no mistake. Many Christian celebs are creepy con-artists. Moreover, a lot of people who teach the Bible, even in churches, are simply ill-equipped. Instead of teaching sound doctrine, as the Bible instructs us to do, their teaching is weak, highly unorthodox and, in many cases, out right heretical. Even after being exposed to the truth, many Christ followers choose to embrace false teaching. (Stay tuned for a few examples.)
The sad fact is that students of the Bible are not learning authentic, biblical Christianity. Malleable minds are being filled with the worst kind of occult teaching imaginable. It’s the sort of thing worldly Christians gravitate to.
It pains me to say this, but I know professing believers who have zero interest in growing in wisdom and knowledge, nor do they desire to draw closer to their Savior. If they wanted to grow spiritually, they’d take the time to read the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God. It is in the pages of Holy Writ that God reveals Himself and His ways to those who seek Him.
So, with all this in mind, following are three examples of close friends of mine that plugged their ears when I pointed out some of their unbiblical beliefs and pleaded with them to guard against error. As you will see, my friends chose to ignore sound biblical advice. My hope is that others who are in error will read this, repent of their sin, and flee from false teachers and their destructive heresies.
A growing number of evangelicals practice what is often called contemplative, centering or listening prayer (more on this here) that comes straight from Roman Catholic mystical monks. Participating in contemplative prayer (CP) will not get anyone one millimeter closer to God. In fact, the goal of this meditative state is to empty one’s mind, which results in an “altered state of consciousness.” This sort of meditation is not biblical, brethren. What is biblical meditation, you ask? Simply reading what God says in His Word and keeping our minds active while we soak up His wisdom. Point of fact: CP meditation isn’t Christian, it’s Eastern (Hindu, Buddhist) in origin. Anyone who chooses to practice CP is wading into the world of the occult. Those who read the Bible know that God makes it clear that his children are not to involve themselves in any sort of pagan practice — He expressly forbids it!
Now to my dear Christian sister, I’ll call her Carol. A few years ago Carol was having issues with a family member and she and her husband were unsure how to handle the situation. A friend of Carol’s, who attends Bethel Church in Redding CA, suggested that she find a quiet place where she could go to “listen to God” on the matter. She was instructed to write down what she heard God saying to her in her mind. So Carol complied, feeling certain that the voice she heard was God speaking to her. As the words flowed into her thoughts, she’d write them in a journal. After a few weeks Carol shared with me what she believed God was telling her. She wanted to know what I thought of the process. I took a deep breath and responded as calmly as I could under the circumstances that what she had described to me was a New Age practice called automatic writing (AW). I explained that so-called psychics practice AW and that the object was to channel information through the “spirit” that flows through the person’s hands. The channeled information includes predictions and prophecy. Moreover, modern day prophets believe that it’s possible to receive direct, divine revelation from God apart from Scripture. I also informed her that this practice was not from God. At the end of our conversation I urged her to toss the journal in the trash. She revealed that her husband had told her that he wasn’t comfortable with what she was into and also urged her to stop doing it. A few weeks later Carol informed me that she had tossed the journal in the trash.
There’s more. My dear sister mentioned that some of her “Christian” friends have the spiritual gift of “dream interpretation.” Carol believes the women have this so-called gift, so she has them interpret some of her dreams. She shared with me what one woman claimed God was conveying through Carol’s dreams. Not one to pull punches, I told her that the woman was practicing witchcraft. I also reminded her that it was possible that the “Christian” dream interpreters were not hearing from God; they were channeling deceptive spirits. In other words, demons. What if the teacher happens to be a disgraced angel who “masquerades as an angel of light” the scriptures warn us about? The next time you decide to call on an angel for help and guidance keep in mind that the Bible makes it abundantly clear that Satan and his minions are characterized as ferocious wolves that hide beneath sheep’s skin to deceive their prey!
People who wish to see what their future holds fail to understand that God expressly forbids fortune-telling…the use of spells…incantations…speaking to or channeling spirits…divination of any kind. King Manasseh is condemned for his many evil practices, including sorcery: “And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.” (2 Chronicles 33:6) The Apostle Paul gives us fair warning that anyone who’s involved in occult practices will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Sadly, most often during desperate times, Carol continues listening to and taking advice from “Christians” who have led her to believe that the Holy Spirit has given them a prophetic gift.
Some of the conversations I have with friends don’t always end well. A while back I was talking to a Christian sister, I’ll call her Susan, who mentioned seeing the movie Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. Heaven Is For Real is the most popular of the many Heaven Tourism books. Susan asked if I’d seen the movie. No, said I. She thought it was a wonderful film and asked me why I hadn’t seen it. I replied that the book the movie was based on had an unbiblical depiction of heaven. In other words, all the things that 4-year-old Colton Burpo told his parents he saw when he visited heaven wasn’t even close to what we’re told heaven is like in the Bible. The fact that the boy’s story was unbiblical didn’t phase Susan at all; she let it roll off and said, “You have to see the movie. You’ll love it.” I replied, “Sorry to be blunt, but what people learn from Colton’s experience in heaven is a lie from the pit of hell.” I then explained that I’d researched the book and although I believed that the child experienced something, he didn’t go to heaven. Susan wasn’t having it. She snapped “Why would a little boy make up a story about going to heaven?” I have all sorts of information on heaven tourism at my fingertips, so rather than debate her, I thought it would be best to email a few articles. One article was written by blogger and book reviewer Tim Challies. Challies concluded his piece with,
If you struggle believing what the Bible says, but learn to find security in the testimony of a toddler, well, I feel sorry for you. And I do not mean this in a condescending way. If God’s Word is not sufficient for you, if the testimony of his Spirit, given to believers, is not enough for you, you will not find any true hope in the unproven tales of a child. This hope may last for a moment, but it will not sustain you, it will not bless you, in those times when hope is waning and times are hard.
He also reminds his readers that “It is for man to die once and then the resurrection. To allow a man (or a boy) to experience heaven and then to bring him back would not be grace but cruelty.”
After reading the articles I sent, including Tim Challies’ review, Susan had this surprising response: “I read the articles and I remain convinced that the boy went to heaven.” Again, she urged me to see the movie so that I’ll understand why she believes a 4-year-old’s story. And once I see the movie I’ll believe Colton Burpo, too. I made it perfectly clear to her that Colton’s experience doesn’t pass the smell test. The fact that there is no gospel presentation in the movie didn’t trouble her in the least. She’s convinced that people who see the movie will be saved. What does the Bible say about salvation? “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
Christians who believe that the Bible is God’s inspired Word must not get taken in by a 4-year-old’s story about…anything. God’s people are to “test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Our discussion ended with Susan having the last word: “You can believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want…and I believe the little boy.” Another way of putting it is, “You can believe the Bible’s teaching on heaven. I’ll go with my feelings.” Sadly, what the Bible reveals about heaven isn’t enough for Susan. Thus, she has chosen to reject the teaching of the Holy Spirit inspired Word of God and adopt a highly unbiblical view.
As an aside, Colton Burpo’s book has sold well over 10 million copies, and that’s just in English. “A lot of money is to be made in going to heaven,” reminds Christian apologist and speaker Justin Peters. “And that doesn’t even touch the movie….we’re talking about millions upon millions upon millions of dollars.” (Source)
John 1:18: No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Christians And Yoga?
For over a decade I’ve gone around and around with Kate, a professing Christian friend, who takes yoga classes – not so-called “Christian” yoga; she’s into traditional Hatha Yoga. I’ve given her all the reasons God’s people are to have nothing to do with pagan practices. I’ve explained the basic premise of yoga, which is the fundamental unity of all existence:
We are all aware that yoga means “union” and that the practice of yoga unites body, breath, and mind, lower and higher energy centers and, ultimately, self and God, or higher Self. But more broadly, yoga directs our attention to the unity or oneness that underlies our fragmented experiences and equally fragmented word. Family, friends, the Druze guerrilla in Lebanon, the great whale migrating north – all share the same essential [divine] nature (594:4). (Source)
Kate says she doesn’t get involved in the spiritual aspect of yoga, she only does the stretches. What readers must understand is that simply because people think they’re just doing gentle stretches doesn’t necessarily make it so. Yoga has its roots in Hinduism. Yoga poses are meant to be worshipful postures that mimic Hindu gods.
As I always do in these circumstances, I offered all sorts of reading material that will help my friend understand why Christians shouldn’t practice yoga. (I’ve prayed that she’ll quit the class, but she hasn’t.) As of this writing, Kate remains heavily involved in Hatha Yoga.
Since this article is already long, I’m not going to spend the same amount of time with Kate as I have with Carol and Susan. You’ll find out all you need to know about yoga in my Research Paper.
I’ll close with a quote by Dr. Harry Ironside:
Exposing error is most unpopular work. But from every true standpoint it is worthwhile work. To our Savior, it means that He receives from us, His blood-bought ones, the loyalty that is His due. To ourselves, if we consider “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” it ensures future reward, a thousand-fold. And to souls “caught in the snare of the fowler” – how many of them God only knows – it may mean light and life, abundant and everlasting.
Copyright by Marsha West, 2019