Posted in discernment, false teacher, prophecy, rick joyner, visions

Rick Joyner – "Encountering Heaven"… Or not.

On September 7, 2014, in his Prophetic Ministry 101 speech, Rick Joyner shared about when he had a bad case of food poisoning (or flu) and …

…was caught up in to heaven for eight hours. … I say prophetic, but I don’t know if it was just prophetic experience or if I was really there, but it seemed real. I saw things that I believe really are part of the heavenly realm. But this one was many times better than I’d ever experienced before. At the end of the whole dream – and this was an 8-hour, earth-time dream – I know because it started at midnight. I laid down at midnight, went right to sleep, went right into this dream, woke up several times during the night astonished, just trying to understand everything I’d just seen and heard. I’d then I’d fall back to sleep and go right back into the same place. Over and over. … I’d had that experience one time before, just one time, where I woke up, went back the same place in the dream, but this time it happened over and over. It was just awesome.

At the end of the dream, I ended up on Main Street down here. [pointing]. Our Main Street. And I’m standing there, I’m in heaven and I’m on Main Street, and the Lord said ‘You’ve got to bring this here.’ We’re going to have heaven on earth. Right here!

Joyner goes into ‘explaining’ that Jacob’s ladder dream meant that the angels ascending and descending means that the angels are “bringing back to the earth evidence of heaven’s reality.”

In the video synopsis, we read, “In this week’s Featured Video, Rick Joyner shares about a recent experience in heaven.”

The phrasing, ‘recent visit’ made me think of the frequent hotel points you can rack up for a free gift if you travel to a place enough times. “Purchase 9 drinks, get the 10th free!” Like, on this ‘recent trip’, Joyner could redeem his points for either a ride on Jesus’ rainbow horse Colton Burpo said Jesus owns, or enjoy a light lunch with John the Baptist.

A few things, in seriousness.

1. Joyner’s “recent trip to heaven”. How sacrilegious, impious, and irreverent to even describe the gift of seeing the heavenly realms in such a flippant way. Of course Mr Joyner did not go to heaven, but he thought he did, and to describe it in such a way demeans the realm our King Jesus presides over. Paul was too humble to even speak of his trip for 14 years, only did so when pressed, and then it was in the third person. Paul would never flippantly say something like, “Oh yah, this time I went up there I saw…”

2. The false visionaries like Mr Joyner try to legitimize their false experience by using biblical language to describe what happened. When Joyner says “What I saw and heard” is reminiscent of the bible’s command from God to “Write what you see and hear” as in Revelation 1:19, Deuteronomy 27:8, Jeremiah 36:2. Of course Joyner’s description of whether it was a prophetic experience or whether he was really there is reminiscent of Paul’s description (which he was too awed to even ascribe to himself in the first person) of 2 Corinthians 12:3. That is one way the false prophets attempt to make their false teaching sound biblical, by using biblical language. But you can think it through, and you remember that Paul was too awed to even tell it, but Joyner is eager not only to tell it right away but to piggyback his ‘awesome’ heaven trip with his explosive flu. Also if you think it through, knowing that if Jesus is bringing people up to heaven and giving a command, then it is new revelation and equal in authority to what is already written.

So when you tell this to someone and they say “But they use the bible!” you can say of course they do. Satan did even with Jesus when satan tempted Him. If they didn’t use the bible, it’s easier to see they’re false. So….they use the bible and biblical language. Like when Beth Moore said she saw Jesus in the heavenly realms and He purportedly said to her, “And boy you write this one down. And you say it as often as I give you utterance to say it.” Who talks like that? No one, except the Old Testament prophets, so the false ones inflate their puffed up visions with puffed up language.

3. Obsessing over irrelevant details as if to legitimize it. Example: “It was an 8-hour dream.” As if that matters. How long was the Jacob’s Ladder dream? How long was Paul’s dream in the third heaven? How long was John’s vision on Patmos? How long was Daniel’s dream? John simply said “After this…” and began recording the next vision.

Jacob awoke from his ladder dream, “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17).

Jacob praised God and built and altar, he didn’t spend time repeating how long the dream was, as if these details have the power to cement false visions into reality.

3a. Another detail this false diviner Joyner obsessed over was the ‘wonder’ of waking up so many times and then falling back into the vision and being ‘right back there’. If God is going to lift you into the third heaven, as He really did to Paul, are you really going to marvel at the lesser minutiae of His ability to wake you and then drowse you and bring you back up? More to the point, don’t you think God has the power to keep you in the sleeping vision state until He has finished showing you what He wants to show you? I bet Joyner woke up ‘over and over’ because he had to pee.

4. Joyner said it felt real. Just because it feels real, it isn’t. Satan performs lying signs and wonders, it is not hard for an angel to appear to a person in a dream. In Matthew 2:13 an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee with baby Jesus and Mary to Egypt. The unholy angels have lost none of their power, including entering your dreams like that holy angel did with Joseph, they just use it for evil. The unholy ones have the power to enter your dreams – obviously, because Joyner had a false one. I mean, it is up to Rick Joyner to bring heaven to earth? Or earth to heaven? And it was not clear in the speech which he meant.

Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:32)

Why teach through the filter of a dream that was filtered through a sinful brain and out a sinful tongue, when one can simply teach from the unadulterated word of God? That is what Peter meant when he said we have a more sure word (2 Peter 1:19). Peter was ranking Scripture over experience.

It should be obvious that Rick Joyner is a false teacher, a false prophet, and a wolf. These descriptions of encounters with Jesus, via visions, and dreams, like Kim Walker Smith music born from fresh encounters with Jesus in heaven, and audible devotions and romantic “Presences” a la Sarah Young, and mind-pictures and visitations and visions like Beth Moore’s, and books and books and books written about people’s ‘recent trip to heaven’ (or hell)… it is a scourge! A plague of falsity. False visions are so commonplace nowadays that it is not enough to have only one, you must have many and join the frequent heaven flier club.

The people claiming these divine experiences make a fatal mistake: they forgot that satan’s ministers masquerade as righteous angels (2 Corinthians 11:15) and that the white light, or the friendly voice, or the romantic warmth is easily counterfeited by powerful angels out to lie, kill and destroy.

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (Colossians 2:18-19).

Did you catch that? People going on about their false visions are puffed up and are not even Christians (not attached to the Head).

If you have NOT encountered heaven in some kind of ecstatic vision or dream, be grateful.

If you HAVE encountered someone who says they have gone to heaven, be wary.

If you have been saved by the grace of our resurrected Jesus, be ready!

Religious deception in the church is a marker of His soon return. (Matthew 24:3–5, 11, 24; Mark 13:5–6; Luke 21:7–8).

We will all see His heaven soon enough, together. And that is good enough for me.

Posted in beth moore, direct revelation, false teacher, jesus, visions

All Beth Moore critiques here in one place (UPDATED)

This blog essay is a repository for links to all Beth Moore critiques I have written over the years; and it is a listing of all external Beth Moore critiques I could find that are grace-filled and credible. I think it’s helpful to have them all in one place. Scroll to below for the links about Beth Moore. First, an introduction about discernment.

 

Introduction

 

Which one? Ala Bashir “Apple And Shadow”

This blog is about encouragement, discernment, and prophecy. Each essay focuses on one of these with the prayer that through them, God is exalted. No matter how dark the days or how weary the heart, He is the Light and our hope. (1 John 1:5). This hope can be found in each, because,

–it is through scripture we’re encouraged,
–it is through His warnings and tactics we avoid being drawn into a snare and become discerning,
–when His future history given through prophecy is fulfilled, He is glorified and we stand in amazement.

As regards the Discernment Department, regular readers know that I have written many essays about false teachers or false doctrines. I name the false teacher. This is biblical.

Matthew 7:1 says “judge not lest ye be judged, “and this is explained here, here, here. It does not mean never to call out a warning about a false teacher of his teaching. After all, we will know them by their fruit. (Matthew 7:16).

To paraphrase John MacArthur’s devotional on Matthew 7:1, emphasis mine:

We are never to judge a person’s ministry, teaching, or life—and certainly not his motives—by some self-styled standard… Except as they may be continually teaching false doctrine or following standards that are clearly unscriptural

The word ‘continually’ is important here. One is not a false teacher and certainly is not a heretic by teaching something erroneously once. The key is patience. If the person seems to be in a habit of teaching wrongly, or is obviously sinking into a pattern of incorrectly dividing the word, or living carnally and without repentance, then it may be said they are false. It takes time for fruit to grow, bad or good.

In each essay focusing on a false teacher or doctrine, I don’t just point it out, warn and/or exhort, but I also try to include a lesson on HOW to spot something that is false. It is false if it varies with the truth. This sounds simple, but satan is the most subtle creature in the garden, (Genesis 3:1) and he tricks us six ways to Sunday. He melds truth with lies, and often it takes a sensitive mind trained in discernment (by the Holy Spirit) to untangle where satan’s lie begins after God’s truth leaves off. Far from God’s truth remaining a solitary island in a world full of lies, in describing how the preachers of Reformed theology are succumbing to the pull of the worldly influences, John MacArthur said in an interview by way of example,

“You have some of the most well known preachers of Reformed theology partner up in conferences with some of the people who are the most extreme pragmatists. I mean, this is happening. Who would have thought that John Piper would have Rick Warren at a Desiring God conference? Those two seem like extremely polar opposites.”

It is only a matter of time before the tractor-beam of falsity will inexorably pull a teacher into darkness and hearers with him or her. We have to stay strong in doctrine and so save our hearers (1 Timothy 4:16).

False teachers
This is not fruit. It’s marzipan. Fooled ya! CC, © Nevit Dilmen

One of the false teachers I’ve written about the most on this blog is Beth Moore. It is my opinion based on scriptures, research, and prayer that the three most devastating false teachers of the 20th century have been Billy Graham, Rick Warren, and Beth Moore. Certainly there have been other false teachers who have done much damage to the faith (Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer…). There are certainly others who are true men of faith but have taught a devastating doctrine. For example, Henry Blackaby’s mysticism opened the door to beliefs in the insufficiency of scripture, and Wayne Grudem’s acceptance of modern prophecy did the same.

But for my own faith walk and in my own heart, it’s Moore, Warren and Graham whose teachings seem to torment my soul the most.

As mentioned above, I’ve watched these three over a period of a decade. One must see a continual patterns before any level of discernment warns us they may not be as solid as one hopes. Discernment divas and discernment popes do damage to the body of believers when they pounce on one thing said once, or harshly shrill the alarm when no wolves are actually near.

One must see a long-term continual pattern before we can be sure
any fruit is good or bad. Photo by Edmont, Creative Commons

I’ve looked into Mr Graham’s life arc based on biographies, writings, interviews, historically recorded video, and newspaper quotes. I’ve watched almost all of his crusades from the first recorded in 1949 through the late 1980s. Though the seeds of Mr Graham’s apostasy were evident to those close to him as far back as the 1930s, it took quite a while for Mr Graham’s apostasy to show to the wider Body. It took less time for Moore’s to show, but it was still between ten and fifteen years before a pattern emerged in her. The seeds of apostasy always grow, they never die.

In Acts 20:30 we read Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

1 Timothy 4:1 it states Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

The above verses can apply to anyone, no matter how popular or no matter how seemingly solid. They can apply to the obviously false and the not-so-obvious. They can apply to the popular person with a large following or to the little known person allowing false doctrines to creep into a rural church. They can apply in Paul’s day or they can apply today. No teacher is above being scrutinized and no one who is teaching in His name should expect to escape scrutiny, they should welcome it. Paul’s teaching was scrutinized and he called that activity noble. (Acts 17:11). If an Apostle who had met and been taught by the risen Christ was not above being tested in his teaching, no one else is, either. Conversely, how much more important is it that we test teachers today, in these latter times when ungodliness abounds.

Beth Moore

 

As a woman, I’ve especially offended by Moore. It grieves me deeply that women all around fall under her sway. I attend a Southern Baptist Church in the bible belt and Moore’s presence in the form of studies, books, DVDs, retreats, and mentions is nearly inescapable. It’s very painful because I know that these women are ingesting poison. I hurt for these women who don’t know they are being stalked by a wolf and are being drawn away into unhealthy doctrines. Most importantly, false teaching maligns the spotless Lamb, our Savior, because it presents a false view of Him. It is evil.

Of course, when I mention that Moore teaches things detrimental to our Christian growth, I am looked at as either an alien from another planet of just plain crazy. To many, it is unthinkable that Moore would be preaching aberrant doctrines. She is much too popular, much to embedded, mentions Jesus much too often, to possibly be false. Right?

Wrong!

Popularity is touted by many as the benchmark of truth. The notion is, “All those people who follow her/him can’t be wrong.” We saw that concept arise so often during John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference, among people seeking to defend the aberrations Strange Fire sought to expose, they said so many million Charismatics can’t be wrong. O but they can.

It is the same when some seek to defend Moore. So many woman can’t be wrong, can they? Even Christianity Today dubbed her the most popular bible teacher in America. But oh yes, so many followers can be wrong. As a matter of fact, widespread popularity can be an indicator of falseness. The bible says,

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26)

Popularity is no indicator of effectiveness.
Women cheering Obama in Dublin Ireland. CC, Pete Souza

When I first began investigating Moore (2009) it was because I’d been through a few of her studies and I was unsettled. I compared what she said to scripture and it seemed to come up short. It was hard to pinpoint, though, because she taught some good things and some things that seemed to be more speculative. But the plank hanging off the ship wasn’t that long and I could see when she taught where she had been and where she was going in the lesson, and it seemed that one foot was still in the bible. Kind of.

Her home life didn’t quite add up either. She is incessantly open about her sexual abuse, her mother’s cancer, or her daughter’s eating disorder, but zealously closed on other subjects, such as the son she adopted, raised for 7 years, and gave back; or giving tours of her office, or even answering questions from a reporter without first vetting them- in writing. Selective transparency isn’t transparency at all.

When she was younger, she claimed to be a stay at home mom, but this statement is disingenuous. In just one example of her contradictory statements about her stay-at-home mommy-hood, Moore founded and is President of Living Proof Ministries (LPM). She grew the corporation from its inception in 1994 when Moore’s daughters were 7 and 4 to a thirteen million dollar organization today. She has said in interviews that the company ministry grew as her daughters did. That much is obvious, and it didn’t happen with Moore being a stay-at-home mom and only traveling on Friday nights as she stated. In another example, in 2003 when her children were 16 and 13 years of age, Moore wrote “When Godly People do Ungodly Things”. Moore said in her preface on p xiii that she wrote the book “many miles from home” and “entirely alone” “for several weeks”.

As reported here in Charisma Magazine quoting Moore, “When she did have to go out of town, the girls’ lives went on “completely normally,” yet in looking at her Living Proof schedule and her book tours, in fact her time away from the kids was frequent and lengthy. And if you read the rest of the quote, “because Keith stepped in and took over in her absence“, I refer to Ephesians 5:22.

And speaking of that, Moore’s husband is the Vice-President, (as seen here, more here) so her claims of being a stay-at-home mom just teachin’ a little and writin’ bible studies a little is contradictory to Ephesians 5:22. If you’re going to choose career like a feminist, then be out there like a feminist. If you’re going to choose stay-at-home-mom, then be that. But don’t live like a feminist and pretend to be Proverbs 31 woman.

I bring this up because a false teacher’s home life, personal behavior, and quoted statements count just as much as the doctrine she teaches. What teachers say and what they do must match biblical standards.

It wasn’t long after, perhaps 2010-11 that a few more voices joined the chorus as the plank hanging off the doctrinal ship grew longer and longer as Moore strayed further from solid doctrine.

In 2012 and 2013 she became more bold in her assertions that God spoke directly to her, and more involved with false teachers and events. (Joel Osteen, Louie Giglio). In 2003-04 Moore’s LPM donated about $40,000 to Osteen’s church for “ministry support”. She participated in the Contemplative Spirituality DVD and promoted contemplative Spirituality from the Passion Conference pulpit, even leading ordained men.

In 2 Timothy 3:9 it states that some of the false teachers will be, “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”

Beth Moore often says God directly gives her new things to say,
that she has visions, and that a force unparalleled took over
and wrote her book for her while she “sat bug eyed”.
These things are not from God.

Worse was to come. Moore now says she has visions and direct encounters with Jesus. She has said that she was lifted into the realm of Jesus in another dimension. She said that she was shown the world through His eyes, and heard God’s voice personally. She’s claimed to have received personal revelations not in the bible that “Jesus” then told her to teach from. This is Gnosticism, claiming to have obtained secret knowledge directly from deity apart from the open revelation given to all Christians in the bible. In one of the links below Moore even states plainly that what she was receiving from God was a secret, but ‘He knows I’m going to tell it.’ In effect, she is claiming to be a prophetess and claiming apostolic privileges. But in fact she is a Jezebel-type whom God will deal with. (Rev 2:20)

Moore recently aligned with Catholic mystic Roma Downey of ‘The Bible’ miniseries to present one of the ‘biggest’ bible events in America, using scenes from ‘The Bible’, despite the obvious doctrinal errors in the movie presentation and despite the fact that Downey is yoked to darkness.

Moore’s apostasy showed as early as 2003 and perhaps even earlier as she pursued career over biblical motherhood, but in any case by 2014 she has jumped the shark infested waters, fully submerging in falsity. She has swiftly drifted away. In my opinion, in the last year, Moore has definitively and with finality shown that she has gone out from us.

Drifting. EPrata photo

The lesson for us is that we must pay attention lest we drift away. In this essay on the Hebrews 2:1-4 verses, the author writes,

In this passage is found a warning of the danger of “drifting.” The figure suggested is that of a boat drifting along at an almost imperceptible speed, but none the less being carried along in the wrong direction by a subtle current.

Drift Away

The reason for exhortations to stay away from Moore, and to be discerning about all false teaching, is as the author above states in explaining the Hebrews passage, “The second reason for this exhortation is the dignity of the One through whom God has spoken”. He is our Savior, our Teacher, our Protector. Therefore, we-

Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (2 Timothy 1:14 NAS)

Everything I said above about Beth Moore is supported with scripture and/or with documents and facts. These are contained in the links I gathered for you.

Here is a list of everything I have written about Moore, and below that, a list of links leading to critiques from women about Moore, and below that, a list of men who have critiqued Moore. Moore is bad for your heart, bad for your mind, and bad for your faith.The bible advises us to “avoid such people”.

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Beth Moore Critiques

 

Licensed for reuse

Critiques by Elizabeth Prata, writer of this blog:

Joyce Meyer’s “I am not a sinner” aside, the more subtle a false teacher, the less likely it will be that one can find just one ‘smoking gun’ to point to in proving falsity. Therefore, this link is as close as it gets to just one smoking gun.

Examining Beth Moore’s statement: the ‘Bride is paralyzed by unbelief 

2015: Beth Moore’s Strangely Disappearing Tweet: A Discernment Lesson

I wrote this series in 2011 after having attended a two day Living Proof Conference.
Beth Moore: Reactions to Living Proof teaching
Reactions Part 1
Reactions Part 2
Reactions Part3a
Reaction Part3b
Reactions Part 4

Investigating Moore’s teachings led me to research further. This series was the result:
Troubled by Beth Moore’s teaching:
Beth Moore Part 1: Introduction, and Casualness
Beth Moore Part 2: Undignified Teaching
Beth Moore Part 3: Contemplative Prayer
Beth Moore Part 4: Legalism
Beth Moore Part 5: Personal Revelation
Beth Moore Part 6: Eisegesis, Pop Psychology, and Bad Bible Interpretations
Beth Moore Part 7: Conclusion

When I read that Beth Moore said she had received the book directly from God as if a force had taken control of her, it reminded me of previous research I’d done years ago into automatic writing. This series was the result.

Examples of Channeling Christians, like Beth Moore
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: How Walsch, Young, and Moore channeled their books
Part 3: How Walsch, Young, & Moore channeled their books
Conclusion: Why Walsch, Young and Moore channeled their books

Beth Moore’s role as a feminist and redefining biblical womanhood for the next generations (Rev 2:20 again)

Secret Christian feminists
How the Christian secret feminists are reforming the definition of biblical womanhood. Part 1 
How the Christian secret feminists are reforming the definition of biblical womanhood. Part 2
How the Christian secret feminists are reforming the definition of biblical womanhood. Part 3

This next one was picked up by Do Not Be Surprised and then World View Weekend with Brannon Howse.
Beth Moore led a “commissioning” for 11,000 women (and men) at Unwrap the Bible conference

Beth Moore defenders said I was being too picky in making charges against the way Moore teaches, casual speaking of God being one of them. But here is an essay showing that such casual speech is actually a breaking of the Third Commandment not to take His name in vain.
The Third Commandment: ways to take God’s name in vain you might not have thought of

Taking Beth Moore to task for claiming to have been with Jesus in another dimension and taught new things
Beth Moore says God lifted her into another dimension & showed her the church through Jesus’ eyes

A discernment lesson on how Mrs Moore twists scripture and comparing her exposition to credible teachers’ work
Discernment lesson: The Shack and Beth Moore’s treatment of Paul. Part 2

Really, if Revelation 2:20 doesn’t speak of Beth Moore’s type of prophesying, then I dunno what does.
Beth Moore: a type of false prophetess of the church at Thyatira? 

Examining how Luke 6 and the curse of popularity is one huge indicator of a false teacher
Discernment lesson: the curse of popularity, Beth Moore, and Billy Graham

Book Review: “Things Pondered,” Beth Moore’s story of adopting a boy and giving him back

Beth Moore’s Heretic Hunting Article and its Fallout

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Further Reading, Critiques by Various Women:

Erin Benziger (Do Not Be Surprised) March 2014, Beth Moore Prophesies a Coming ‘Outpouring,’ Warns of ‘Scoffers’

Erin Benziger (Do Not Be Surprised) Jan. 2014 “Why Beth Moore and Not Me? The Danger of Claiming to Receive Direct Revelation

1. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Beth Moore Simulcast Review Part One: General Observations, 2014

2. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Beth Moore Simulcast Review Part Two: Bible Interpretation Issues, 2014

3. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Beth Moore Simulcast Review Part Three: Personal Revelation 2014

1. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Evaluating Beth Moore’s Upcoming Live Simulcast, 2015 (How to pay attention to the red flags the Spirit raises in us, a good discernment lesson in prep for evaluating Moore’s simulcast)

2. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Class on Discernment: Living Proof Live Simulcast, 2015

3. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, 2015 Living Proof Live Simulcast Review Part One

Pam Terrell: Breaking Up With Beth Moore

Book Review by Discerning Reader: Get out of That Pit (the reviewer does not recommend the book)

Sunny Shell: What Do Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore and Sarah Young Have In Common?

Adriane Heins, she is a Lutheran I believe. In this essay she also mentions Joyce Meyer. I appreciated this a lot: “Beth and Joyce want you to feel your theology; Christ assures you of it.” (Cached version)
Friends Don’t let Friends Read Beth Moore

The Upward Call’s Critique of Beth Moore’s “The Patriarchs”

Beth Moore: “Biblicism, Spiritual Warfare, Mysticism and Pop Psychology”

Chapter by Chapter critique of Moore’s book “So long, Insecurity”

 

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Further reading, Critiques By Men:

How do I respond to people who refuse to admit that those who supposedly receive divine revelation are dangerous even though they don’t teach outright heresy?

Can you talk about the dangers of popular teachers who are not heretical but say that God talks to them? I am thinking specifically of Beth Moore. What are we to do with people who refuse to see the danger and insist such teachers are OK?

Believers must always listen carefully when any teacher or preacher speaks about the Bible and theology. They must share the nobility of the Berean saints whom Luke commended for double checking Paul’s teaching according to Scripture (cf. Acts 17:1–11). While Beth Moore teaches with accuracy on some points, she also holds positions and teaches doctrines that are both incorrect and dangerous.

Beth Moore promotes contemplative prayer, a mystical practice not found in Scripture which includes elements of eastern mysticism. She chooses not to draw firm doctrinal lines on her website while implying the Roman Catholic Church is a Christian denomination alongside the Methodist, Baptist, and other denominations. Beth also claims that she has received visions from God and sometimes receives revelation from Him in her heart. From these examples we must conclude that the lack of biblical and theological depth in Beth Moore’s teaching renders her a dubious and dangerous source of Bible teaching.

From Rev. Matt Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: A critique of Beth Moore’s teaching here.

Rev. Chris Hull: Lutheran pastor on Beth Moore: “She’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing trying to destroy my flock”

Beth Moore Confronts Young Pastor’s Wife for Criticizing Her Direct, Divine Revelation

Beth Moore’s followers don’t understand the Gospel, by Jeff Maples

From a man named Dale Wilson at the blog The King’s Dale: Beth Moore – False Teacher

Pastor Mike Abendroth, 90-second video: Where is Beth Moore’s Husband?
Pastor Mike Abendroth, sermon clip: Beth Moore-a or Sola Scriptura?
Pastor Mike Abendroth 22 minute radio show, answering emails about Beth Moore

Justin Peters: Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word Faith Movement (not solely devoted to critiquing Moore but she is part of the overall sermon lesson)

Chris Rosebrough: 90-min., Line-by-line audio critique of Moore’s handling of a lesson on Hebrews 10:35-36, Beth Moore’s Dangerous Bible Twisting

I do not agree with a lot of what Mr Wade Burleson has to say. But I include this link because by his own admission he is a fan of Moore and considers her an asset to the Body of Christ, and even he is scratching his head at how Moore treated James 4:10-11 in the study Mercy Triumphs. I especially appreciated his critique of Moore’s penchant for making promises about God’s intentions, as if she knows at any given moment what God will do in this or that situation, something I mentioned in the Commissioning essay above.
“God Will Kick Your Tail” – A Critique of Beth Moore’s Teaching on James 4:10-11 from Mercy Triumphs

Beth Moore Confronts Pastors Wife for Criticizing her Direct Revelation

 

From Sharper Iron, it is a very good critique. Highly recommended. Beth Moore: Her John Piper Connection and Her Very Bad Doctrine

Strange Fire Q&A: Beth Moore
This short Q&A addresses Moore’s claim of extra-biblical revelation

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Of Interest:
Grace To You sermon series:
How to Talk to a Heretic

Biblical stance on why Beth Moore has always been false (or any false teacher) and it didn’t just come on suddenly

Posted in asceticism, essenes, gnosticism, hermits, mysticism, visions

Swiss town’s resident hermit resigns. Problem? Too many people stopping by

And now for something completely different. This is not, I repeat, NOT, an article from The Onion.

In Switzerland, City Seeks a Hermit Who Also Likes People

Switzerland’s “Katholisches Kirchenblatt,” a Catholic weekly, recently carried an unusual job ad: “Are you an idealistic, religious person who enjoys meeting people?” The ad was placed by the small Alpine city of Solothurn. But Solothurn isn’t looking for a new social worker or priest. It is searching for a hermit.

The town’s hermitage, built into the rock face of a striking gorge, has been empty since March, when its resident hermit, and the first woman to hold the post since 1442, resigned after five years.

Her complaint: People. The constant stream of tourists to the hermitage and neighboring chapel was just too much to handle, according to the city. This time around, Solothurn has updated the job description. “Along with acting as caretaker and sacristan, responsibilities include interaction with the many visitors,” the ad warns potential applicants.

“There’s a bit of a discrepancy between the job title of hermit and the fact he or she has to deal with throngs of visitors,” says Sergio Wyniger, the head of Solothurn’s city council. So far, the city has received 119 applications and expects to make a decision by next week.

The Hermitage of St. Verena, near the small Swiss city of Solothurn,
is searching for a new hermit.

Some thoughts:
–The Catholics still have actual hermits??
–since 1442??
–The Catholics turned a lifestyle into a job description?
–‘Hermit wanted: must like people’. Hmmm, HERMIT…

All kidding aside, and believe me, I’m restraining myself right now, in the false religion of Catholicism, hermits actually have a long history. That history not only exists through to today, but is increasing in popularity. Even as recently as last year, Catholics were putting out the call for hermits. In the Swiss town mentioned above, 120 people applied for the job of “hermit”.

Modern-Day Hermits: Answering the Call to Solitude, Prayer

While we might think of hermits as relics of the Church’s medieval past, today there are many who devote their lives entirely to solitary prayer.

There are Catholic hermits in the US. There are male and female hermits. There are even hermits who are not affiliated with a religious order. Hermits are consecrated by taking certain vows and following certain rules.

In the article above, a US hermit named Maria, who raised her kids and now wants to answer the call to hermit life, explains the rise in recent Catholic hermitism.

“Maria, who lives on the Gulf Coast, thinks the increase in hermits may also be a sign of the times. “The call was answered in the early Church when there was heresy and persecution,” she said. “The world had become so wicked; people could not exist in it anymore.” “

That is the point, the world IS wicked. Christ came to provide the Light of the way to heaven, and imputed His righteousness to Christians, who by the power of the indwelling Spirit by His grace and love for people, we transcend the mundanity and wickedness of the world and point the way to Christ.

In living the life of a hermit, Brother Martin said he imitates Christ. “In the hermitic life one retreats from the world, much like Christ did when he went off for 40 days in the desert to pray or when he went to lonely places to pray,” he said.

Catholics see no discrepancy between the life of a hermit and the mandate to evangelize. Brother Martin mentioned above explains that a hermit’s call is to evangelize the souls of others in the form of intercessory prayer in private and in solitude-

Although Maria is discerning whether she has a call to the hermitic life, she, like Brother Martin, sticks to a strict schedule called an horarium. Some of her daily activities include prayer, daily Mass, lectio divina, meditations, study, physical exercise, household chores, and gardening. “It’s a very intensely busy life,” she said. “But it is all centered in silence and solitude, so you grow to the point where you can hear and discern God’s word.”

Catholic solitary ascetic life-styles are not just expressed in hermit-living. Anchorites and anchoresses were common in medieval times. Wikipedia explains the anchorite’s lifestyle:

Wikimedia commons

Anchorite or anchoret (female: anchoress) “one who has retired from the world”, from the verb anachōreō, signifying “to withdraw”, “to retire”) denotes someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and—circumstances permitting—Eucharist-focused life. Whilst anchorites are frequently considered to be a type of religious hermit, unlike hermits they were required to take a vow of stability of place, opting instead for permanent enclosure in cells often attached to churches. Also unlike hermits, anchorites were subject to a religious rite of consecration that closely resembled the funeral rite, following which – ideologically, at least, they would be considered dead to the world, a type of living saint.

Of course, most of us are familiar with the notion of Catholic cloistered monks and nuns. In fact, the Catholic Church has codified the different forms of ‘Christian’ living, or as they call it, ‘The Consecrated life.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states

From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practising the evangelical counsels. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, became hermits or founded religious families. These the Church, by virtue of her authority, gladly accepted and approved. [emphasis mine]

Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts. To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the LORD more than sacrifice... (Proverbs 21:2-3)

Some of the different consecrated lifestyles approved by the Catholic church are, consecrated virgins, consecrated widows, hermits, anchorites, or new forms of consecrated life not yet invented. The United States Lutheran church recognizes the hermit lifestyle, but they call those who choose to separate from the world “solitaries”.

What does the bible say?
Of course the bible does not in any way endorse separating from the world. Jesus did not pray that the Father take us out of the world, not at all.

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15). We may not leave the world until we die or are raptured. Until then, as Jesus prayed, for the sakes of those who would believe in Jesus, we remain so the world will believe God sent Jesus. (John 17:20-21)

Loner Sects have always existed, though.

Non-religions hermit Valerio Ricetti lived in a cave
in New South Wales, Australia.
The site is now on the State Heritage Register. Source

Essenes, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, were a faction group who  believed the Pharisees and Sadducees had corrupted the Temple (the Essenes were not wrong on this point) and split apart from the other two Jewish groups to live a celibate, monastic life in the desert. (They were wrong on this point, though).

GotQuestions explains who the Essenes were, The Essenes were a Jewish mystical sect somewhat resembling the Pharisees. They lived lives of ritual purity and separation. They originated about 100 B.C., and disappeared from history after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Essenes are not directly mentioned in Scripture, although some believe they may be referred to in Matthew 19:11, 12 and in Colossians 2:8, 18, and 23. Interest in the Essenes was renewed with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were likely recorded and stored by the Essenes.

GotQuestions continues with an explanation of why John The Baptist, though thought by some to be an Essene, wasn’t. The main reason is that John lived in the desert but was at the same time a very public figure, and had disciples and followers. Solitary living apart from the world is not in view here, since it is not what Jesus wants of us.

This is because we are to interact with the world while maintaining a Kingdom perspective. After all, the lost are in the world, and it is they to whom we are called as Christ’s Ambassadors to share the Good News. (Matthew 28:16-20). Living a private and solitary life denies the Christ who told us to go into the world among men. It also denies us the opportunity to edify one another, (1 Thessalonians 5:11), to bear one another’s burdens, (Galatians 6:2), to pray together, to break bread together. (Acts 1:14). Removing one’s self from the world into a cloistered (enclosed) or solitary life also denies the power of the Holy Spirit to keep us strong and resist temptation while we are faced with daily pressures. Resisting these temptations and living a life in His glory is an important way to show His glory to the lost world.

We are to be IN the world but not of the world. (John 17:14-15). The world is ruled by satan, and whether one is in the middle of Times Square in NYC or alone in a desert cave in Australia, one is still in the domain ruled by satan. Removing one’s self only tells the world that you are relying on your own self to live a life pleasing unto God. A hermetic life, a ‘consecrated’ life; or a cloistered life, is just all about you, and not about Jesus. Sin will still get you. Read this anecdote from a sermon of John MacArthur’s:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oscar Wilde, once told a story. It wasn’t true, he just made it up but I [think] it illustrates the point. He said:

The devil was crossing the Libyan desert and on his way across he met a whole pile of his demons who were really working hard on an old hermit. Now this hermit was a saint. He had been, you know, set aside by the church and held had taken his vows and he was a very holy hermit. And so hes out there in the middle of the Libyan desert, you know.

He said, “No” to everything in the world and he had taken his cross and he had gone to the desert.

And so, these demons were out there really trying to get him to stumble … really trying to tempt this old hermit. And they were going at it full bore. And Satan came along.

And Wilde says this: “Steadfastly, the sainted man resisted their suggestions.” They weren’t successful, they couldn’t get him to fall into sin. “Finally, after watching their failure in disgust, the Devil whispered to the demons, ‘What you’re doing is too crude, permit me one moment.’ And then the devil whispered to the holy man, ‘Your brother has just been made the bishop of Alexandria.”‘

And Wilde says: “A scowl of malignant jealousy crossed his face. ‘That,’ said the Devil, ‘is the sort of thing I recommend.”‘

Get the point? They can’t get us in some places, they’ll get us someplace else

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Dangers of the ascetic, solitary life

Living alone or within a very small group is dangerous, as well. Mysticism runs heavily through the cloistered life, as we saw from the description above of the Oregonian hermits’ daily schedule. It included contemplative prayer accompanied by Lectio Divina. Lectio Divina (“Sacred Reading”) is a mystical, Gnostic practice whereupon the seeker seeks not to understand the revealed word, and not to ponder the attributes of the God who revealed it, but to experience it in a two-way conversation with God. It is an example of a spiritually sounding exercise that is devoid of the power of God. (2 Timothy 3:5).

Most of the world’s false religions, cults, and sects were started by one or two disaffected persons usually having had received a vision. The Essenes were disaffected Jewish mystics who retired to the desert alone. Famously, Muhammad was living alone in a cave when supposedly the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and revealed the Quran.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:16)

Founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith said that when he was younger he participated in religious folk magic. One night alone upon a hillside in prayer he received the first vision that led him to found the cult of the Latter Day Saints.

Wikipedia:

“According to the account Smith told in 1838, he went to the woods to pray about which church to join but fell into the grip of an evil power that nearly overcame him. At the last moment, he was rescued by two shining “personages” (implied to be Jesus and God the Father) who hovered above him. One of the beings told Smith not to join any existing churches because all taught incorrect doctrines.”

From the article I quoted above, we read the hermit Maria saying,

“In the ’70s, I became very ill, and on many occasions, the Blessed Mother actually came to me in various ways, and brought me comfort,” said Maria.

It is well-known that ascetic and mystical practices that focus on an ascetic interior life, including Lectio Divina and Contemplative Spirituality, actually provides a fertile breeding ground for visions and apparitions. In other words, if you want to gt a vision, live like a hermit according to man-made rules, and eschew solid biblical study for personal experiences, elevate yourself and your thoughts and your life above everyone else’s by showing the world how spiritual you are and go live in a hermitage or a cloister.

Or, if you want to please Jesus, live a life of unremarkable faith, persevering in His statutes, living in the world, resisting sin,  and loving your neighbor. And that doesn’t mean the neighbor hermit in the next cave over.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading:

Some famous non-religious hermits

What is New Monasticism?
Christian monasticism is based on an extreme interpretation of Jesus’ teachings on perfection (Matthew 5:48), celibacy (Matthew 19:10-12), and poverty (Matthew 19:16-22). Monks and nuns attempt to control their environment and surround themselves with like-minded devotees. Many followers of Eastern religions also practice monasticism, the Buddhist monk perhaps being the most recognizable.

Smith’s Bible Dictionary: The Essenes

Posted in 90 minutes in heaven, burpo, discernment, heaven is for real, heaven tourism, visions

"Heaven is for Real" is Unreal. What near death experiences tell us, and what they don’t tell us

In 2010 a book was released called “Heaven is for Real“. A wikipedia page describes the plot thus:
The book documents the report of a near-death experience by Burpo’s then-four-year-old son, Colton. The book tells how the boy began saying he had visited heaven.”

And at the end of the page it says, “See Also”:
23 Minutes in Hell
90 Minutes in Heaven
The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven
Proof of Heaven

The book was immediately optioned to be made into a movie, which is being released this month, April 2014.

Heaven Is for Real
A small-town father must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world.”

I used the word ‘immediately’ because the book was a runaway bestseller. It spent eight weeks at No. 1 in 2011. It’s been on the NY Times bestseller list for a total of 138 weeks.

This is incredible to me. That people in the first place would seek any information about God’s dwelling apart from God’s word is amazingly undiscerning. And to be attracted to such information from a four-year-old-boy is just beyond comprehension.

But I understand. I understand the attraction to wanting to see peeks of the other side. As Christians, we resist such thoughts and desires, because they aren’t profitable. When I was an unsaved person, though, I was intrigued by near-death experiences (NDEs).

Besides near-death experiences, there are now post-death experiences. Science and medicine has advanced to the point currently where doctors can put a person to death for a long period of time in order to operate or repair a body, and then bring them back to life in controlled circumstances.

I wasn’t saved until I was 43 years old. That is a lot of years as a teen and an adult to ponder the mysteries of the other side. And ponder I did. There is a certain logic to Christianity that the unsaved mind suppresses. (Romans 1:18). Intuitively it seemed that evolution would not have gone to all the trouble to evolve us bodily AND in addition, give us a mind, a conscience, and self-awareness. I wondered, what was the point of living 40, 50, 70 years and then…poof, nada? Obliteration? It didn’t seem likely.

Secondly, it seemed that every culture in the world since recorded time and history began has celebrated or worshiped a deity or deities. I often wondered, why are we all wired to worship? And which deity is the right one? There must be something to religion, if every culture from north to south, east to west, has worshiped someone or something.

Third, I always wondered why so many people reported having a near death experience, and why those experiences seemed so similar.

It was more than reasonable that religion was real, the other side was real, that heaven was real.

Then I became a Christian by God’s grace and the drawing of the Holy Spirit, (Ephesians 2:8, John 6:44). I learned through the bible that heaven IS real. I read what it looks like. I read who will go there. I read about worship there. All about heaven, it’s in the bible. How great and glorious God is to provide us this glimpse.

Four men went to heaven in visions and three came back authorized to tell about it. (Paul said he heard things he was forbidden to tell. 2 Corinthians 12:2. John also was told not to tell of one of the things he’d heard, the Seven Thunders, Revelation 10:1-7). Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John went to heaven in visions and were shown wonderful things. How glorious the Lord is to give us these peeks that are now recorded in His word! We can trust them.

And if you think about it, ONLY FOUR men were given visions of heaven. Job, who was called righteous by God, wasn’t escorted around heaven on a personal tour. King David, a man after God’s own heart, wasn’t given an individual advance visit. John the Baptist, whom Jesus said no other man born of woman had risen greater than, wasn’t given an opportunity to stroll around and take in the sights.

But four year old Colton Burpo was. He and his dad wrote “Heaven is for Real.” In Colton’s version, people had bodies. In the bible version, people haven’t been given their glorified body yet. That won’t happen until the rapture. And we’re supposed to believe the boy?

Dr Eben Alexander was given a tour. He wrote “Proof of Heaven.” Dr Alexander, a former surgeon, has been fired from multiple hospitals, is the subject of several malpractice suits, and is charged by doctors with lying in his book about the events leading up to his NDE, and others found discrepancies in his book on other matters. He is a Christ-rejecting pagan who believes in reincarnation. And HE was given a tour of heaven?

What near death experiences don’t tell us is, what heaven is like, because NONE of the people who claim to have gone there, really went there. The details of their trip contradict not only the bible, but they contradict each other. Any detail, glimpse, peek, or curiosity you have about heaven will not be satisfied in these books or movies. Though they may indeed have had some sort of experience, the details related to heaven are all untrue imaginings.

What NDEs do tell us is what we already know from the bible: the conscious mind continues.

There is no doubt that near death experiences happen. They are consistently reported by millions of people. Eight million people in the US alone have reported having such an experience. And most of them have similar elements. The NDE FAQ page defines those elements this way:

No two NDEs are exactly identical, but within a number of experiences a pattern becomes evident. Researchers have identified the common elements that define near-death experiences. Bruce Greyson argues that the general features of the experience include impressions of being outside one’s physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries. (source)

There is no doubt that in some of the NDEs, spiritual forces are at play. However, the fact of having a near death experience does not by default make the experience true. Here is the Stand to Reason blog explaining this very concept in their discussion of “Heaven is For Real“.

“What we can’t conclude from these experiences that appear to be real is that what they heard and learned during these experiences are necessarily true. An experience can be real without the conclusions of the experience being accurate. That happens to us all the time even in this life. We have an experience, but we’re mistaken about what we think about it. It can happen in death, too. After all, once we have evidence for a non-physical world, we have reason to believe from the Bible, which tells us about this world, that there are beings there that deceive us. There are also beings who tell us the truth. But which do people encounter in their near death experiences? It’s hard to tell.”

Yes, it’s hard to tell. And why would we even want to pursue such rabbit trails that lead only to the Valley of Humiliation and the Cliffs of Insanity? (apologies to John Bunyan and William Goldman)

All that NDEs can tell us is that the conscious mind continues (we already knew that) and people experience things after death (we already knew that too). Anything other than that are fanciful thoughts and images that have no place in biblical mind and a Jesus-loving heart.

As far as the movie Heaven is For Real goes, avoid it. Though ‘Christian’ movies that are made with Hollywood production values are rare these days, movies about the afterlife, the soul and angels are common. Interest in the topic of the afterlife among the unsaved (and unfortunately the saved) is what’s real. Look at this small list I gathered in just a short time:

Heaven Can Wait/remake of Here Comes Mr Jordan, Warren Beatty,
A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an over-anxious angel before he was supposed to die, comes back to life in the body of a recently-murdered millionaire. (God messes up, that wacky deity! Hijinks from heaven ensue)

All of Me, Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin
A dying millionaire has her soul transferred into a younger, willing woman. But something goes wrong, and she finds herself in her lawyer’s body – together with the lawyer. (This movie presents God as a mess-up and violates John 10:12).

What Dreams May Come, Robin Williams
After dying in a car crash a man searches the afterlife for his wife. Chris Robin Williams) dies and awakens in Heaven, and learns that his immediate surroundings can be controlled by his imagination. He meets a man (Cuba Gooding Jr.) he recognizes as Albert, his friend and mentor from his medical residency, and the presence from his time as a “ghost” on Earth. Albert will guide and help in this new afterlife. Albert teaches Chris about his existence in Heaven, and how to shape his little corner, and to travel to others’ “dreams”. Meanwhile, Annie is unable to cope with the loss of her husband and decides to commit suicide. Chris, who is initially relieved that her suffering is done, grows angry when he learns that those who commit suicide go to Hell; this is not the result of a judgment made against them, but rather their own tendency to create “nightmare” afterlife worlds based on their pain. Chris is adamant that he will rescue Annie from Hell, despite Albert’s insistence that no one has ever succeeded in doing so. Albert agrees to find Chris a “tracker” to help search for Annie’s soul. (This movie teaches we are little gods and we create heaven and hell ourselves AND that we can re-write the rules of heaven. Additionally there is no marriage in heaven and our focus will be on Jesus, not our earthly wife).

Defending Your Life, Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep
In an afterlife resembling the present-day US, people must prove their worth by showing in court how they have demonstrated courage. (A works related salvation, and one which defendants argue with God, no less. Presenting God as less than the Holy and Righteous Judge).

Wings of Desire, Peter Falk
An angel tires of overseeing human activity and wishes to become human when he falls in love with a mortal. (Presented as a romantic, sensitive story, this one is right out of Genesis 6 with the unholy angels mating with women.)

It’s A Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart
An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed. (A person given visions of the future like John of Patmos was??)

Michael, John Travolta, Andie MacDowell
Frank Quinlan and Huey Driscoll, two reporters from a Chicago-based tabloid, along with Dorothy Winters, an ‘angel expert’, are asked to travel to rural Iowa to investigate a claim from an old woman that she shares her house with a real, live archangel named Michael. Upon arrival, they see that her claims are true – but Michael is not what they expected: he smokes, drinks beer, has a very active libido and has a rather colourful vocabulary. In fact, they would never believe it were it not for the two feathery wings protruding from his back. (This is obviously an unholy angel, presented as holy. What a blot on the name of Jesus and His heaven!)

In 2004 John Hagee Ministries put together a movie called “Escape From Hell.” In it, a psychiatrist who counsels people who have had near death experiences becomes consumed with learning whether there is an afterlife for real or not. He induces a medical death for himself and calls a friend to come revive him before it is too late. With that, he passes out and begins his tour. The doctrinal errors in this film are too numerous to mention, but a movie reviewer called CBC Pastor wrote this:

When we seek to add error to increase the scare effect, we deny the power of God’s Spirit to work through truth… Movies that stretch the truth to this level only hurt evangelism through those that will laugh themselves right out of our churches and ignore the truth of genuine warning.

That is exactly what these heaven tourism books and movies do. They deny the power of the Spirit to work through truth, and isn’t that how the Spirit promised to work? Through truth? Not through lies.

Here are some credible reviews and essays on heaven tourism. I’ll tell you ahead of time, they are all negative. I am purposely listing these in order to help you or to help you help a family member or friend who insists that these visions and trips to heaven are real. Heaven IS for real. I know this because Jesus told me so, not a little boy, or a disgraced doctor or a well-intentioned pastor or any man in the flesh. As Pastor Tim Challies succinctly said of Heaven is for Real,

The point of it all is to encourage you that heaven is a real place. Colton went there and his experience now validates its existence“.

Ridiculous in the extreme, isn’t it?!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Heaven is For Real, book review by Tim Challies

Heaven Tourism, essay by Tim Challies

The Burpo-Malarkey Doctrine , essay by Phil Johnson

To Heaven and Back, review by Randy Alcorn

Justin Peters explains why trips to heaven don’t line up with the biblevideo

The Berean Library, Heaven is for Real

Posted in authority, discernment, hell, scripture, visions, wiese

Discernment: are people’s visits to hell actually true?

So many people these days have had a trip to heaven or hell. Jesse Duplantis, Beth Moore, Colton Burpo, Don Piper, Rick Joyner, Kenneth Hagin, Rebecca Springer, Richard Eby, Dr. Mary C. Neal, Kim Walker Smith of Jesus Culture … the list of people taking a tour of heaven or having had a personal visit from Jesus in another dimension goes on and depressingly on. And hell is not to be left out, either, several people claim to have been personally escorted by Jesus in the underworld as well, such as Victoria Nehale, Mary K. Baker, Bill Wiese.

So what are we to make of all this?

Lies. All lies.

Let’s take a look at the visits to hell. I’ve written several times about the trips to heaven. The bible says that even though you may have had a personal experience, we have a more sure word. Peter wrote that, and he was referring to his own personal visit from Jesus at the Mountain, and having seen the heaven glory and Jesus transfigured. Even Peter says that the word is more sure than a personal experience!

“And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:19-20).

Peter is saying that the prophetic word, which is the word spoken by the prophets, is sure. Remember Jeremiah 23:16, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.”

Peter is not saying we should not interpret scripture, he is talking about the source of it. In 1 Peter 1:10, Peter wrote, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,”

In other words, the prophets heard the word from the LORD, and they carefully searched out what it meant. The false prophets did not have to search out what it meant because they made it up. Explaining it was just as easy- they made up the explanations. And the word was almost invariably happy, too. See what Jeremiah says,

“They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” (Jeremiah 23:17).

Sound familiar?   I know that it does.

Peter’s credentials were impeccable, being hand chosen by Jesus and endowed with miraculous powers to heal, raise from the dead, and preach! Every single person who came after Peter has credentials which are less stellar, so by default, if he says not to trust his experience, we trust the bible and not our own experience. Otherwise you’re saying, “I trust Jesus Culture’s Kim Walker Smith’s experience of seeing a Gumby Jesus, she seems to be more credible than Peter.”

Laughable, isn’t it? The word is sure!

Now about the people who travel to hell, what of them? Well, those visions and visits are false, too. How do I know? Look at Lazarus.

“The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:22b-31)

If we are to believe the people who visited hell, then we are to disbelieve the holy word. First, because we would believe that Jesus changed His mind about sending people from hell to tell the story, and secondly that before, while we are told that people would not believe even a dead brother returned to life telling his family, but now they will believe an unknown person telling the world on Youtube.

Wiese says that he encountered Jesus in hell, who told him to tell other people that hell is real. This varies directly with the word. Do we have a more sure word, or do we not have a more sure word?

Some people are totally unbelievable and are obvious charlatans. Others, like Wiese, or Don Piper, for example, are likable and sincere. However, sincerity of their message does not make it true. Only the word is surely true, and if what someone says is against what the bible says, you must disregard the person’s message and not the bible.

However, isn’t that the point of what satan is doing, with all these Charismatic visions and visits? Even though Piper or Wiese’s message may be good, the source is demonic. Look at what Paul did when the fortune-telling slave girl followed him around.

“She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.” (Acts 16:17-18)

What was Paul’s problem? After all, she was saying something that was true. The problem is, her source was from satan, and a divided house cannot stand. Clarke’s Commentary says, “The Gentiles, finding that their own demon bore testimony to the apostles, would naturally consider that the whole was one system; that they had nothing to learn, nothing to correct; and thus the preaching of the apostles must be useless to them.”

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains, “Paul being grieved-for the poor victim; grieved to see such power possessed by the enemy of man’s salvation, and grieved to observe the malignant design with which this high testimony was borne to Christ.”

Isn’t the phrase ‘malignant design’ so very wonderful!

Matthew Henry says of the slave-girl, “Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths, when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ, by unholy and false preachers of the gospel, who are confounded with them by careless observers.”

So even though the message at one point or another from one false prophet or another, may be true, satan’s malignant design in using the message will always be dishonoring to Christ. Bill Wiese and Mary K Baker may be sincere, but satan’s design is to usurp the authority of the Word, just as he was trying to do against Paul (who was speaking the true word) in using the slave-girl who was possessed.

Be discerning about these visits to heaven and hell, and of people’s tales of visitations from Jesus in visions. It is not enough that their message borne from experience may seem consistent with the bible, the bible tells us that we have a more sure word in the Prophets. And that is enough, more than enough, for me. I hope it is for you too.
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FMI:

Justin Peters essay “Your Best Afterlife Now: (An examination and critique of claimed visits to heaven and hell”

Tim Challies reviews Heaven Is For Real and 90 Minutes In Heaven.

Pertinent part begins at 41:14–

Posted in bible, dreams, prophets, visions

"And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams"

There is a lot of attention being paid these days to a verse from Joel 2:28 and repeated by Peter in Acts 2:17. It says,

The Day of the LORD
“It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions.”

Many people take this to mean that we should accept the dreams and prophecies of everyone these days because these are the latter days and, well, the verse says what it says. But let’s take a close look at several interpretations for better decision-making.

Another interpretation is that it was fulfilled at Pentecost. It was Peter who repeated the prophecy from Joel, and the time was Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus had died and the moment the Holy Spirit came down. But if it was fulfilled at Pentecost, it was fulfilled at Pentecost. However, the verse’s context is the Day of the Lord (judgment), not Pentecost. The full verse is:

It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.

29“Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30“I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.

31“The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

32“And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As the LORD has said,
Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls.

At Pentecost, were there wonders in the sky and on the earth? Blood, fire and columns of smoke? Was the sun turned into darkness? And the moon into blood? No.

Now if we take the context, and the verses above the dreams verse and after the dreams verse point to the Day of the Lord, then let’s look at the Day of the Lord.

Got Questions describes it this way– “The phrase “day of the Lord” usually identifies events that take place at the end of history (Isaiah 7:18-25) and is often closely associated with the phrase “that day.” One key to understanding these phrases is to note that they always identify a span of time during which God personally intervenes in history, directly or indirectly, to accomplish some specific aspect His plan.”

It is not just one Day but a span of time, and we are told that span of judgment time will be either 7 or three and a half years (depending again on your interpretation of the Tribulation period). (Dan 9:27). The Joel verse begins by saying “After this”. After what? The day of the Lord. So the dreaming and prophesying is not during the Tribulation but after: the Millennium period. Further, the prophecy speaks of survivors.

Finally, some people say that the dreaming and prophesying began at Pentecost and continues through the Tribulation, that it encompasses the entire Church Age period. I discount that interpretation because the entire Church Age period has not been the Day of the Lord. Also, it leaves the canon open for all manner of personal experience to be placed alongside the bible. We do have a kind of Charismatic Chaos going on now as a result of so many people deciding that is what the Joel verse means. People say they are prophets and others say that are having dreams and their experience is placed not only alongside but higher than the bible itself. Phil Johnson recounts the chaos that results when this happens: “They speak of Scripture as the “dead letter,” compared to their modern prophecies, which they believe are “fresh and living words” from God. So they have effectively subjugated Scripture to questionable phenomena.”

No, I believe the context of the verse shows us that the dreaming and prophesying will occur after the Tribulation, after the time when the sun was darkened and the pillars of fire came. After the survivors whom the LORD calls. After The Day. Not now.

Besides, why rely on dreams and prophesies of some person as proof of Jesus’s work in the world, when their source cannot be 100% guaranteed? And when the bible as source, CAN?
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