My 2nd concern is for the lost people all around us. Is there a single Christian reading this post today who has not faced the challenge of first explaining to an unbeliever what you don't believe (because they have seen and heard all the sort of nonsense I'll reference here) before you can clearly tell them what you do believe? False teaching is not only deceiving Christians, it is making the communication of the Gospel significantly more challenging in our culture today. The shame is this: many of the teachers and teachings I'll reference are thought by those outside the faith to represent normal Christianity. This is a tragedy of epic proportions.
With that being said, let's get right to it. Here's The List, pt. 1
Many of the these teachers seem to share a common root that is both pernicious and pervasive. These "Word of Faith" teachers typically include the following in their teachings:
(From Justin Peters)
- Positive confession – The belief that what is spoken can be brought into literal existence. Believers may simply speak the things which they desire of God and He is obligated to give it to them; hence the label “Name It and Claim It” gospel. If this sounds eerily like God’s act of creation in Gen. 1 and 2, it is.
- Little gods doctrine – The belief that man was created to be an exact duplicate of God. Believers, then, are little gods on the earth.
- Spiritual death of Jesus – The belief that Christ’s physical death was insufficient to atone for sin. He also had to die spiritually. Of course, if Jesus died spiritually, then He ceased being God and if He ceased being God even for an instant, He never was God to begin with.
- Revelation knowledge – The belief that God dispenses to certain believers, apart from the Scriptures, secret knowledge of Himself. This is a modern day version of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism against which the New Testament repeatedly warns.
- Health and wealth – The belief that all believers have the right to walk in perfect, divine health and prosper financially. This stems from the erroneous view that sickness was paid for by Christ’s spiritual atonement in hell and that prosperity is a cosmic law ordained by God respectively.
You can read/listen to a interesting message tracing the roots of this movement here. Tracing their beginnings to a common source, you can see many similarities. Often they simply parrot what others in the movement have already said. While it's possible these teachers could be tragically deceived believers, it is also quite possible that their work is intentionally deceptive or even demonic. Whatever the cause, the fruit of their ministry is rotten. Stay away. Stay far away.
Kenneth Hagin - While not exactly the "father" of the word/faith heresy, Hagin is probably responsible for more heretical teaching and teachers than most. "Dad" Hagin believed he had been given 8 visions by Jesus Christ that informed his teachings. Anyone whose has been influenced by Hagin is tainted at best and an absolute false teacher at worst. Hagin is particularly responsible for the blasphemous "little gods" theology espoused by other false teachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and others. To his credit, Hagin did denounce (before his death) some aspects of his own teaching and the teaching that influenced a generation of false teachers.
Kenneth Hagin, Jr. - The younger Hagin continues the work begun by his father as Pastor of Rhema Bible Church and head of its bible school in Tulsa. Like his father Hagin, Jr. also claims 8 personal visits from Jesus Christ, and continues the "little god" nonsense and other WoF teachings.
Kenneth and Gloria Copeland - To expose all the false teachings of these two would take months of research and days and days of typing. From ridiculous and unbiblical prosperity teaching to false prophecies to blasphemous teachings about Jesus, the Copelands are to be avoided at all costs. Here are some more examples of their bizarre teachings. They are also some of the most egregious fleecers of the sheep as these videos will attest. And then there's this recent "prayer" for the pope. Seriously.
Creflo Dollar - Another offshoot of the heretical word/faith stock, Dollar pushes prosperity, abusive teachings on giving, and a complete misunderstanding of law and grace. (Read Galatians as you compare truth to his deception). Todd Friel offers a brief expose here. Like so many others on this list, his exegesis of scripture is so bad that its harder to find something accurate that he teaches that vice versa. He's also had some trouble with the law.
Jesse Duplantis - Another huckster from the same root as Hagin, Copeland, and Dollar, Duplantis also carries the Word of Faith mantle. Among his more egregious teachings: He's gone to heaven to receive a new revelation and wrote a book about it. He yells at the devil. His regales his audience with ridiculous and unbiblical tales of the supernatural. And of course, he pushes the prosperity gospel, "seed-naming", "seed-sowing" heresy. (Note as you listen to his messages that he rarely uses scripture and when he does it's in a way that you have likely never heard before - and that's not a compliment.)
Joyce Meyer - Known for her "practical" sort of teaching and sharing from her own experiences (honestly, a lot of it is narcigesis, not unlike other teachers on this list) Meyer is at best a mixed bag. She is heavily influenced by the other false Word of Faith teachers on this list. She advocates the prosperity gospel, little god teaching, sinless perfectionism, communication with spirits, wrong understanding of the atonement, belief that Jesus went to hell, heresy regarding the Trinity, and many other false doctrines. Whatever "good" you are getting from her teaching isn't worth the rest.
Joel Osteen - Joel is a positive, apparently sincere, well-liked motivational speaker. He "pastors" America's largest "church". But he is no minister of the Gospel. Joel doesn't know (or is afraid to share) the Gospel. Joel doesn't recognize false religions. Joel doesn't address sin. Joel doesn't teach the Bible. Joel does teach prosperity. John MacArthur calls him a "pagan religionist". Perhaps Joel's biggest offenses aren't found in what he says, but in what he refuses to say. At the very least, he's leaving tens of thousands of people with an insipid, feel-good religion absent the Gospel.
Joseph Prince - This teacher is probably best known for his "radical grace" or "mother grace" teaching. The ancient name for this heresy is antinomianism. This teaching doesn't grant a believer freedom, but bondage into sin again. He, too, is from the root of Hagin.
Miles Monroe - Monroe is a prosperity preacher who focuses mostly on "success", "leadership", and "personal development". This is all part of his "dominion theology" (the wrong teaching that Jesus cannot return and rule until the church has established the Kingdom of God on earth). He also badly misinterprets scripture (particularly on the atonement). The worst of his teaching is on the crucifixion itself. The Bible doesn't say Jesus really died? Really? Plus, he has some wacky ideas about women and marriage. Again, it's just another example of much of his extra-biblical nonsense.
Paula White - I don't know where to begin here. As "Senior Pastor" of "New Destiny Christian Church", she rejects the biblical role of women in pastoral leadership. She teaches all sorts of heresy. Her personal life is a mess. Watch this, this, this, and this. Seriously --- how can any biblically informed believer follow this? Shai Linne was right. She is one of the "Fal$e Teacher$".
Randy White - Former husband of Paula White and once co-pastor with her of "Without Walls International Church" (where he has recently returned to pastor w/o her), "Bishop" White is a minor character in the WoF world. Prosperity teaching, misuse of scripture, unbiblical 'tongues', questionable handling of finances, and personal moral issues mark his "ministry".
Benny Hinn - "Liar, charlatan, and false prophet" is how this site describes him. And they're right. There are hundreds of legitimate sites online that expose this fraud. Do your research. But beware, it's depressing. Millions have been deceived. His "ministry" has been exported all over the world. According to Justin Peters: "Hinn has been doing “ministry” for some 35 years and in that time has taught some of the most jaw-dropping heresies, offered dozens of demonstrably false prophecies and has made some of the most outlandish claims imaginable:
- Claims he healed every patient at a hospital in Sault Sainte Marie, Ontario, Canada
- Claims his father was the mayor of Jaffa, Israel.
- Of his critics said, “Sometimes I wish God would give me a Holy Ghost machine gun, I’d blow your head off.”
- Has threatened even the innocent children of his critics.
- Claims Kathryn Kuhlman visits him from the dead and claims to get an anointing from the tomb of Aimee Semple McPherson.
- Claimed to have video of Jesus walking around in one of his meetings. When asked to show the video his staff said that it had been “misplaced.”
- On Dec. 31, 1989, Hinn went into a “trance” and said that God was giving him (in real time) prophecies about major events in the then upcoming decade of the 1990s. “God” said these events would include the collapse of the American economy, the East coast being ravaged by earthquakes, a female elected as president, Fidel Castro’s death in office, the rise of a “short man dictator,” the Rapture of the church, and the destruction of the homosexual community in America “in ’94 or ’95, no later than that” – with fire. This is by no means exhaustive of Hinn’s false prophecies, it is just all he managed on this particular night.
- Claimed that God told him by divine revelation knowledge that there are actually 9 members in the Godhead.
- Claimed the Holy Spirit told him that women were originally intended to give birth out of their sides.
- Claimed that when the Red Sea parted the water froze and it was actually ice that crushed the Egyptian soldiers.
- Claimed that as a young man he was in his room talking to the Holy Spirit. When called to supper by the “woman of the house,” he said, “…as I was about to leave, I felt someone take my hand and say, ‘Five more minutes. Just five more minutes.’ The Holy Spirit longed for my fellowship.”
- Lives in a $10 million parsonage and is known to stay in hotel rooms costing upwards of $10k per night. He flies in a private jet and is well known for his lavish spending and opulent lifestyle – all funded by donations to his ministry.
- Teaches all of the standard Word-Faith doctrines such as Positive Confession, the Little gods doctrine, the Spiritual Death of Jesus (SDJ) doctrine, and guaranteed health and wealth for the believer.
- Seed-Faith theology is a staple in Hinn’s teaching. He promises people that if they “sow a seed” (translated, give him money) that God will give them a “harvest.”
- Claims to have a department that verifies all of his healings. I have spoken with a former employee of Hinn’s who says that not only are the healings not verified but that such a department does not even exist.
This just scratches the surface with Hinn."
Robert Tilton - Tilton, once thoroughly discredited and outed as a scam artist - has now returned to the American religious scene, albeit on a smaller scale. He's really little more than a con-artist, using Christianity as a tool to take in the needy and gullible. Using the same basic formula as the other word-faith teachers, he espouses a blasphemous view of wealth and prosperity.
Bill Johnson - Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding California is beginning to gain notoriety and influence. Here are some links on this heretical pastor and his church. Jesus Culture - the worship band spawned from Bethel's student ministry has become quite popular, playing at events like Passion. The theology and practices of this church and its offshoot ministries are more than questionable however. Apprising Ministries rightly calls this pastor and this church a "theological train wreck".
Todd Bentley - How this demonic, false teacher has any Christian followers is beyond my comprehension. 10 seconds of watching or listening to him is all it should take. If you've never heard of him, good. If you have friends or family who have, warn them. Also, consider those who affiliate with him and what that says about their orthodoxy. Here are some links. Watch at your own risk. It doesn't get much worse than this.
Rodney Howard Browne - The infamous "Holy Ghost Bartender" came to prominence during the thoroughly discredited "laughing revival" at Carpenter's Home Church in Lakeland, FL. His teachings are horrible, unbiblical, and demonic. Here a few links. I doubt you'll be able to take much.
Marilyn Hickey - More of the same silliness, extra-biblical revelations, manipulative prosperity teaching, and claims of speaking reality into existence that mark other false teachers' ministries permeates Hickey's. A good overview can be found here.
Morris Cerrulo - Morris Cerullo is the founder of Morris Cerullo World Evangelism. Claiming to be an apostle and prophet to the nations, Cerullo has been preying on gullible Christians for over 50 years. His teachings are egregiously bad.
Juanita Bynum - Bynum is a divorced, false "prophetess" who endorses gay ordination, types in 'tongues' on Facebook (seriously), teaches the same tired "sow a seed" nonsense, and is utterly bereft of sound theology.
Here are some others I'd avoid. I'm not saying they aren't "on the same team" with us as Christians. I'm simply saying their teachings deviate too often from orthodox norms or they miss the mark badly enough in one or more significant areas as to be unhealthy. There are so many better alternatives, I can't justify wasting my time with any of these. I've attached a few links and thoughts to each.
Steven Furtick - Pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., Furtick's poor theology, questionable methodology, weird leadership ideas, and dubious financial dealings leave enough of a cloud for me to say, "no thanks". His "best-seller" book isn't all-together biblical either. Neither is this one. Plus, he's on TBN now. And he is endorsed by Perry Noble. (And I'm no "hater".)
Perry Noble - From congregation abuse, to shallow theology, to mean-spirited and decidedly unchristian behavior, to his coarse language, this guy's popularity is beyond me. Chris Rosebrough's challenge to Noble is telling.
John Hagee - Hagee simply gets it wrong on Israel and his "dual-covenant" teaching confuses Christians and deceives Jews. There is one Gospel, one Savior for all men John. He's the Messiah, Jesus (and yes, he claimed to be that). We all get saved the same way. John's misinterpretations about Israel and prophecy ("Blood moons", anyone?) taint too much of his teaching.
Mike Bickle - Research carefully Bickle and the International House of Prayer. Questions abound about their origins, teachings, and extra-biblical visions, and prophecies. Bickle's endorsement of contemplative spirituality, connections with the Kansas City Prophets and the New Apostolic Reformation, and dubious teachings about the end times give me more than reason to pause concerning Bickle. Prayer? Yes. Bickle? No.
Hal Lindsey - How many times has Hal missed it with one of his prophecies? How long will he be considered an "expert" with his track record? I put Hal in the "move on - nothing to see here" category.
Sarah Young - The now famous author of Jesus Calling, that ubiquitous book so often quoted on Facebook and Twitter, claims that her book contains the words of Jesus speaking personally through her. This is frighteningly dangerous theology. Read this review here, here, and this interview. While the content of the book may be fairly orthodox, the idea of new revelation (or the insufficiency of biblical revelation that is implied) ought to frighten off any Christian serious about God and the Word.
Note: The links above DO NOT imply endorsement of the sites or even the authors who posted the messages and/or videos. They do, however, provide insight and information that should be helpful to you in discerning the truth.
Here are some other resources I recommend to help you sort out all the madness:
CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) has long been a reliable source of information on gospel, doctrine, and theology.
CRI (Christian Research Institute) is under the leadership of Hank Hanegraaff. Hanegraaff's classic Christianity in Crisis is still a great source (and is pretty cheap on Amazon right now). Also, Counterfeit Revival is a must read.
Apprising Ministries and Ken Silva often offer interesting insights and observations that are worth considering.
Justin Peters offers a series of messages on discernment and modern false teachings and teachers. These messages are lengthy and detailed and well worth your time. (Part 1: Dangerous Doctrines, Part 2: Mangled Manifestations, Part 3: The Hurt of Healing)
John MacArthur's recent Strange Fire Conference has drawn a great deal of attention and created no small amount of controversy. Squarely addressing the abuses and heresies of the Charismatic Movement, this series of messages (and the book Strange Fire) is necessary reading for today. Even if you disagree on certain points with his conclusions, you will have your eyes opened to a world of false teaching that is prevalent all around us.
Other good links:
There are plenty of others. These are just a sampling.
Most importantly - KNOW THE WORD. WALK WITH THE SPIRIT. PRAY FOR DISCERNMENT.
Tomorrow: The List, Part 2