Category: World Religions: Sects and Cults


“Name it  –  Claim it;” Is it Biblical?

Over these past  years I have had the pleasure of  visiting many on word press blog sites and; more recently, Christian groups on Face Book. Very few sites and/or groups advocate the “name it claim it” cultic view. I  do, however, notice a growing number of members/visitors commenting  approval and belief in the movement. It reflects the growing apostasy within Christianity.

The “name it and claim it” or “prosperity gospel” is not biblical and is in many ways antithetical to the true gospel message and the clear teaching of Scripture. While there are many different versions of the name it and claim it philosophy preached today, they all have similar characteristics. At its best, this teaching comes from the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of some Scriptures, and, at its worst, it is a completely heretical teaching that has the characteristics of cultic doctrine.

The roots of the Word of Faith movement and the name it and claim it message have more in common with new age metaphysics than with biblical Christianity. However, instead of us creating our reality with our thoughts, as new age proponents advise, name it and claim it teachers tell us that we can use the “power of faith” to create our own reality or get what we want. In essence, faith is redefined from “a trust in a holy and sovereign God despite our circumstances” to “a way of controlling God to give us what we want.” Faith becomes a force whereby we can get what we want rather than an abiding trust in God even during times of trials and suffering.

There are many areas where name it and claim it departs from biblical Christianity. The teaching really exalts man and his “faith” above God. In fact, many of the more extreme Word of Faith teachers teach that man was created on terms of equality with God and that man is the same class of being that He is Himself. This dangerous and heretical teaching denies the very basic tenets of biblical Christianity, which is why the extreme proponents of the name it and claim it teaching must be considered to be cultic and not truly Christian.

Both the metaphysical cults and the name it and claim it teaching distort the truth and embrace the false teaching that our thoughts control reality. Whether it is the power of positive thinking or the prosperity gospel, the premise is the same—what you think or believe will happen is ultimately what controls what will happen. If you think negative thoughts or are lacking in faith, you will suffer or not get what you want. But on the other hand if you think positive thoughts or just have “enough faith,” then you can have health, wealth, and happiness now. This false teaching appeals to one of man’s most basic instincts, which is one reason why it is hugely popular.

While the prosperity gospel and the idea of controlling one’s future with his thoughts or faith is appealing to sinful man, it is insulting to a sovereign God who has revealed Himself in Scripture. Instead of recognizing the absolute sovereign power of God as revealed in the Bible, the name it and claim it adherents embrace a false god who cannot operate apart from their faith. They present a false view of God by teaching that He wants to bless you with health, wealth, and happiness but cannot do so unless YOU have enough faith. Thereby God is no longer in control but man is. Of course, this is completely antithetical to what Scripture teaches. God does not depend upon man’s “faith” to act. Throughout Scripture we see God blessing whom He chooses to bless and healing whom He chooses to heal.

Another problem with the name it and claim it teaching is that it fails to recognize that Jesus Himself is the ultimate treasure worth sacrificing everything for (Matthew 13:44) and instead sees Jesus as little more than a way of getting what we want right now. Jesus’ message is that a Christian is called to “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26). Contrast that to the message of the prosperity gospel. Rather than being a message of self-denial, the prosperity gospel is one of self-satisfaction. Its goal is not becoming more Christlike through sacrifice but having what we want here and now, clearly contradicting the words of our Savior.

The Bible teaches that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12), but the name and claim it message is that any suffering we undergo is simply the result of a lack of faith. The prosperity gospel is completely focused on us getting the things the world has to offer, but 1 John 2:15 tells us we should not “love the world or the things in the world” and, in fact, those with a fondness for the things of the world become enemies of God (James 4:4). The message of the prosperity gospel simply cannot be any more opposite of what the Bible really teaches.

In his book Your Best Life Now, prosperity teacher Joel Osteen says that the key to a more rewarding life, a better home, a stronger marriage, and a better job is found in a “simple yet profound process to change the way you think about your life and help you accomplish what is truly important.” How different that is from the biblical truth that this life now is nothing compared to the life to come. The message of the prosperity gospel is focused around the “treasures” or good things we want and can have now, while Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

Jesus did not come to give us health, wealth and happiness now. He came to save us from our sins so that we can have an eternity of bliss with Him. Following Christ is not a ticket to all the material things men desire in this life but a ticket to eternal life. Our desire should not be to have our best life now but to have the attitude of the apostle Paul, who had learned to be content “in whatever state I am” (Philippians 4:11).

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The House of Yahweh (HOY), headquartered on a compound in Eula, Texas, is a cult founded in 1980. In some ways, the movement resembles the Worldwide Church of God (WCG), from which it split. Its main focus is on Old Testament law-keeping as a means of justification. The group’s emphasis on rule-keeping and apocalyptic destruction resembles Jehovah’s Witness’ doctrine. Their belief in polygamy and the superiority of House of Yahweh elders also suggests Mormon influence.

In 1974, J. G. Hawkins, who later changed his name to the Jewish-sounding Yaaqob, visited Israel and claimed he had found “proof” that Yahweh was God’s only recognized name. His younger brother Bill legally changed his name to Yisrayl and began the House of Yahweh in his home. The brothers claimed that they were the two witnesses prophesied in Revelation 11 to prepare the world for the second coming of Christ, whom they call Yahshua. According to Revelation 11:3–6, the two witnesses “will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. . . . If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. . . . They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.” Neither brother has ever produced any miracles, and the 1,260 days has long passed. So has Yaaqob. The elder Hawkins brother died in 1991. That, however, has not deterred Yisrayl or the House of Yahweh.

Yisrayl Hawkins believes himself to be an end-time prophet sent to deliver the world from the coming destruction. Only those who are part of his sect will survive. All Christian churches are heretical and of Satan. He focuses on apocalyptic prophecies and interprets them as he sees fit. The group is cult-like in its strict authoritarianism, insisting that rebellion against House of Yahweh leaders is rebellion against Yahweh Himself. They teach that salvation can be obtained by strict adherence to the Torah, obeying all of “Yahweh’s 613 laws,” and keeping the Jewish feasts and festivals. They keep the Saturday Sabbath and label all traditional Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter “pagan.”

The House of Yahweh is not a Christian group. Some of the critical issues which separate the House of Yahweh from true Christianity are as follows:

1. The Nature of God. They call the Creator “Yahweh” and believe all other names by which He is commonly known (God, Elohim, Lord) are actually names of idols or pagan gods mistakenly applied to Yahweh. They deny God’s triune nature and insist that Yahweh had a wife, Lucifer, who rebelled against Him and became Satan.

In truth, the ancient manuscripts from which all sound translations are derived use numerous Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words to identify God. He Himself gives many of those names such as El-Shaddai (Exodus 6:3), I AM (Exodus 3:14), and Elohim (Ezekiel 34:31). In Psalm 91:1–2, the psalmist uses five different names for the Lord. Moses called Him “the God of gods and the Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17).

2. Jesus. The House of Yahweh teaches that Jesus (Yahshua Messiah) is not God nor was He pre-incarnate with God before He came to earth. This teaching is in direct conflict with John 1:1 and Philippians 2:6–7. Jesus Himself said, “Before Abraham was, I am!” (John 5:58). He also stated that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9) because “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). First John 2:22–23 says, “Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” If this single doctrine was the only way in which the House of Yahweh differed from Christianity, it would be enough to classify it as a false religion.

2. The Bible. The House of Yahweh has produced its own Bible translation, The Book of Yahweh: The Newly Restored Original Bible, which they claim to be the only accurate translation. They state that all other translations have been corrupted by pagans and idol worshipers. However, Yisrayl Hawkins is neither a Hebrew scholar nor a professional translator and has twisted his book to fit his agenda, removing words or adding them as desired.

3. False Prophecies. Yisrayl Hawkins has made numerous “prophecies” projecting the end of the world. Those dates come and go with no fulfillment of his words. He predicted that the Israeli Peace Accord signed on October 13, 1993, began a seven-year tribulation period (Matthew 24:21) that would end on October 14, 2000, with the return of Christ. His most recent failed prediction was that a nuclear war would begin on Thursday, June 12, 2008.

God has harsh words for those who falsely prophesy in His name. Deuteronomy 18:20 says, “But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.” Jeremiah 29:8–9 says, “‘Do not let the prophets . . . deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the LORD.” In Ezekiel 33:33, the Lord says, “When all this comes true—and it surely will—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” The reverse is also true. When a so-called prophecy does not come true, the “prophet” who spoke it is not of God.

4. Salvation. The Bible presents salvation as the forgiveness of sin and conciliation with God (Romans 5:1). The goal of the House of Yahweh is peace on earth and the appeasement of Yahweh by strict adherence to the Mosaic Law. It is very clearly a works-based theology.

Yisrayl Hawkins has been under investigation for sexual misconduct, suspected polygamy, and child-labor infractions. According to his former wife, Kay, Hawkins began to preach polygamy after he was caught in an affair with a church secretary. In 2008, according to an ABC News article, “The 73-year-old founder and pastor of the House of Yahweh, was charged by the Callahan County district attorney with having multiple wives . . . charges of sexually abusing a teenager, bigamy and welfare fraud. Questions have also been raised about at least two deaths within the sect.” Authorities suggest that this sect closely resembles the Branch Davidians.

Galatians 5:4 says, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Scripture is clear that nothing we can do will justify us before God. Salvation is a gift of God bought for us by the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–9). We find peace with God by repenting of our own attempts to justify ourselves and accepting God’s gift by faith (John 3:15–18). The House of Yahweh has failed to heed Scripture. “No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law” (Romans 3:20). Acceptance of that truth alone would dismantle the House of Yahweh.

The Christian Identity Movement is a name that applies to a variety of different religious cults all identified by racist, anti-Semitic principles. These cults are typically found among radically anti-government, extremist, right-wing groups and “survival groups.” Christian Identity cults are connected by various unbiblical theological similarities, mostly centered on a white supremacist mindset that seeks to replace national Israel with British or American whites as the chosen people of God. This racist theology is followed by over 50,000 people in the United States. The largest Christian Identity Movement group is the infamous Ku Klux Klan.

There are other groups with similar theology to the Christian Identity Movement, including British Israelism (the milder philosophy that gave rise to the Christian Identity theology) and Kinism, but Christian Identity is more virulently racist, and there are other differences. Christian Identity followers believe that the end of the world is going to be preceded by a cleansing war, during which all non-whites will be exterminated. This dangerous and scary mindset has given rise to terrorism and other nefarious behavior from Christian Identity followers. The history and activities of the Christian Identity Movement are extensive, but there are two main perversions of Christian doctrine that have led Christian Identity followers to some very wrong conclusions about the world and about God.

First, the Christian Identity Movement is famous for the idea that the British (and by extension Americans, Canadians, and others) are the spiritual and literal descendants of the 10 lost tribes of ancient Israel. They believe that the white race now represents God’s chosen people, a belief founded in some creative interpretations of migratory history, but not based on fact. The Bible tells us that God will restore Israel, as a nation, to fellowship with Him after protecting them from the many nations that will come against them in the end times. Contrary to the beliefs of the Christian Identity movement, it is clear from the Bible that the nation of Israel will be made of the same ethnic people group that was responsible for Christ’s death, namely, the Jews (Zechariah 12:10).

The second main unbiblical belief held by Christian Identity followers is that the end times and the return of Christ must be “ushered in” by a genocidal war. Interestingly, this belief fits more closely with the teachings of Islam than of Christianity. The Bible teaches that Christ will return to set up His kingdom without the aid of mankind. The aforementioned passage in Zechariah makes this clear, and it is supported in numerous other passages. Revelation 1:7 says that “all tribes” will witness His coming. Titus 2:13 was written by a Jewish man (Paul) to a Jewish church, as they were all joyfully anticipating Jesus’ appearance. There is mention that “wars and rumors of wars” would occur before the end (Matthew 24:6), but there is no indication in Scripture that the Jewish nation would have to first migrate to northern Europe.

Furthermore, there is no biblical reason to believe that non-white races will ever be eliminated by the hand of God or by His true followers. In fact, the New Jerusalem in heaven will house all nations, and the kings of the earth will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it (Revelation 21:22-27).

The Lord has always protected the sojourner and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 27:19; Isaiah 56:1-8) and though He commanded Israel not to marry the daughters of foreigners, and so be tempted to worship their idols, He has always drawn, and will continue to draw, converts from other nations, tribes and tongues (Ruth 1:16-17; Revelation 7:9). What distinguishes these converts from those who reject God is not their skin color, but their acceptance of His offer of forgiveness through the shed blood of Christ on the cross. Favor with God is a matter of the heart, not a matter of race or nationality (Galatians 3:28-29).

Armstongism refers to the teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong, which became the teaching of the Worldwide Church of God. These teachings were often at odds with traditional Christian beliefs and at times were explicitly in contradiction to the Bible. The most well-known of Armstrong’s teachings is that of Anglo-Israelism. This is the belief that modern-day Jews are not the true physical descendants of Israel. Armstrong believed the lost tribes of Israel had migrated to Western Europe and that the present day British and Americans were actually the heirs to God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Armstrong believed that this knowledge was the key factor in understanding the prophetic passages of Scripture and that it was his mission to proclaim this message in preparation for the end times.

These beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God were not new and were rooted in an anti-Semitic misinterpretation of Scripture. The Bible is clear that God has not replaced Israel with any other nation and that His plans for Israel are right on schedule and will come to pass after “the fullness of the Gentiles” have come into the Kingdom (Romans 11:25). We can be sure that all God has said is true and will take place, because of His character and consistency (Romans 3:3–4). To attempt to revise God’s plans for both Israel and the Church is to call into question His nature, His sovereignty, His omniscience, and His faithfulness.

In addition, Armstrong taught that at death one is in a sleep-like state until Jesus returns to earth. There would then be three resurrections. The first would be of the faithful Christians. Second would be the bulk of the population who would have a second chance to accept the gospel and be saved, despite the clear teaching of Scripture that there is no “second chance” for salvation after death (Hebrews 9:27). Third would be those that had acted in such a way as to be ineligible for the second chance. They, along with the group from the second resurrection that rejected the gospel, would then be punished. The Worldwide Church of God did not believe in eternal punishment in hell, but rather a complete destruction through fire, i.e., annihilationism. The Bible, however, is clear that there are two resurrections, one to eternal life in heaven for believers and one to eternal damnation for unbelievers (Revelation 20:4–14). Here again, the theories of Armstrongism and the Worldwide Church of God directly contradicted the Word of God.

Armstrong also taught that followers of Christ should remain true to all of the teachings in the Old Testament. Thus, he held the Sabbath to be holy, and in Jewish tradition the Sabbath was observed from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. He further believed that the Old Testament festivals such as Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles must be celebrated. The Worldwide Church of God taught that modern Christians should follow the dietary laws and tithe (up to 30 percent). Armstrongism was only one of many salvation-by-works philosophies that look to the keeping of the Old Testament laws as a means of salvation. But the Bible is clear that the opposite is true. Salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, because the Law saves no one. “A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Clearly, the philosophies of Armstrongism and the Worldwide Church of God were just that—worldly philosophies that seek to deny the only means of salvation, the exchange at the cross of our sin for the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and replace it with the Old Testament Law, which Jesus came to fulfill because we could not.

Thankfully, Hebert W. Armstrong rejected many of these beliefs and came back to a more orthodox understanding of the Christian faith before his death. Thankfully, the Worldwide Church of God has, for the most part, followed Armstrong’s final example. Armstrong’s successors, Joseph Tkach, Sr., and Joseph Tkach, Jr., have led the Worldwide Church of God in a much more orthodox direction. The organization/denomination now refers to itself as Grace Communion International. A brief history of the transition from Armstrongism to Grace Communion can be found at www.gci.org/aboutus/history. There are some former Worldwide Church of God churches/members who still espouse the unbiblical doctrines of Armstrongism, but, predominantly, Grace Communion International churches are solidly orthodox.

To put it bluntly, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is a heretic. He is a false messiah who claims to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. He refers to himself as “Jesus Christ Man.” He is a native Puerto Rican who claims that, in 1973, through a vision he received, Jesus Christ “integrated with him.” In 1998, he claimed that he was the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. In 2005, he officially claimed he was Christ.

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda’s following has all of the classic signs of a cult. There is the claim to extra-biblical authority by way of the vision of Christ “integrating” with him. There is the fact that Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is the sole, undisputed leader of his movement, and as such he exerts total authority over his church and ministry. There is the teaching of exclusive doctrine such as the non-existence of the devil, hell and sin, the futility of prayer, and the irrelevancy of God’s moral code (i.e., the Ten Commandments). He exploits his people financially, living a lavish lifestyle well beyond his reported means based on the generosity of his followers. Finally, there is a defective Christology. He claims he is greater than Jesus Christ and that his teachings supersede those of Christ. He even refers to himself as the Antichrist and sports a “666” tattoo on his forearm, claiming that since He is Christ, worship of Jesus Christ is invalid. His followers are now also receiving 666 tattoos to declare their allegiance to him.

The Bible predicts that there will be people coming in the last days claiming to be Christ. In Matthew 24:5, Jesus tells His disciples, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” One of the signs that the end times are indeed approaching is the rise of false messiahs—people claiming to be the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Yet how did Jesus Himself describe His return to earth? Again in Matthew 24, Jesus describes very specific signs that need to occur before His return. In vv. 3-14, Jesus describes the “birth pains”—signs that will indicate that His return is near. He uses the imagery of a woman giving birth. Right before delivering the child, the woman will experience labor pains, which begin slow and mild and become more rapid and more painful as the time of birth approaches. The “birth pains” Jesus describes are these: 1) the rise of false messiahs; 2) wars and rumors of wars; 3) famines and natural disasters; 4) increased persecution of the true church of Jesus Christ; 5) general apostasy as people turn from true Christianity to false religions being peddled by false prophets; 6) finally, increased lawlessness. While these things are already happening, when the end is approaching, these things will increase both in intensity and frequency as never before.

The next thing that happens will be the desecration of the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15). Once the temple is desecrated, there will be “great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be” (Matthew 24:21). Theologians call this the period of the Great Tribulation where God will pour His wrath on unrepentant mankind. It will also mark the rise of the final Antichrist, the man of lawlessness spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.

Now mark this, Jesus says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:29-30). The return of Jesus to this earth will be preceded by great and terrible cosmic activity, and then His arrival will be witnessed by all. This will be no “stealth return” to earth. Jesus says it again when He says, “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:27), thereby attesting to the fact that no one will mistake His return to earth.

Does the biblical description of the Second Coming have anything in common with Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda? If Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is truly the return of Christ to this earth, when did all of these cosmic events take place? When was the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt so that it could be desecrated? Where is this return of Jesus on the “clouds of heaven”? According to the biblical account, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is simply one more, among many, false messiahs.

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda’s doctrines include the following: He claims there is no sin and that the law is irrelevant. He gets this teaching from misinterpreting passages such as Romans 6:2, Romans 7:6 and Romans 8:2. Yet these passages don’t teach that there is no sin and that the law is irrelevant. Rather, they teach that the power of the law and the power of sin were broken when Jesus Christ died on the cross and that by placing our faith in Him (the true Jesus), we are set free from the penalty of the law. The Apostle John said that “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Romans 7:15-24 is a testament that even the Apostle Paul (whose teachings Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda believes are the only ones which ought to be taught) struggled with sin in his life.

Furthermore, the law, far from being irrelevant, is a necessary part of God’s moral code. Paul says in Romans 7:7 that he would have not known what coveting was had not the law said, “You shall not covet.” The law points out our sin and leads us to Christ. True, the law is powerless when it comes to obtaining righteousness before God, but it is not irrelevant.

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda also claims there is no hell. Yet Jesus taught more about hell than He did heaven. The reality of hell is taught throughout the New Testament. Miranda claims there is no devil, yet Peter—after the resurrection of Jesus—says that Satan goes about like a “roaring lion” (1 Peter 5:8). Finally, regarding Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda’s view of the futility of prayer, how can we regard prayer as futile when Jesus not only taught about it (Matthew 6:9-15; Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8), but practiced it all throughout His ministry. Similarly, the Apostle Paul opens every one of his letters with prayer and thanksgiving, and frequently asks for his readers to pray for him. Far from being futile, prayer is vital to the Christian life.

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is a false messiah and a heretic. He claims to be the second coming of Jesus Christ despite the biblical evidence that belies his claim of divinity. His teachings, far from leading people into a life of greater holiness and righteousness, are likely to lead people to a life of licentiousness and debauchery (no sin + no law + no hell = no consequences for my actions). Finally, look at the life of the man. He lives well beyond his means off of the “generosity” of his followers. Would Jesus do that? Jesus lived the life of a peasant with “no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20)—He took advantage of no one. The Bible tells us to “beware of false prophets.” Concerning them, we “will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16). Judge Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda by his fruit, and it becomes abundantly clear that he is not “Jesus Christ Man.”

With that in mind, the next question arises—is Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda the Antichrist? While it is possible that Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is the Antichrist predicted in Scripture—and the recent “666” tattoo lends credence to this possibility—it is unlikely. The Antichrist will be a world leader, a satanically-empowered dictator, a man that enraptures people with his very presence. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is not such a man—at least not yet. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is nothing more than a charismatic cult leader, a charlatan, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and simply yet another in a long line of false prophets and false messiahs. He is an antichrist, not THE Antichrist.

Dominion theology refers to a line of theological interpretation and thought with regard to the role of the church in contemporary society. Dominion theology is also known as Christian reconstructionism and theonomy. Dominion theology states that biblical Christianity will rule all areas of society, personal and corporate. Christian reconstructionism reasons that society will be reconstructed by the Law of God as preached in the gospel and the Great Commission. Theonomy is a post-millennial view believing that all of the moral laws contained in the Old Testament are yet binding today. Although these might sound somewhat disparate, they have all been closely linked together to the point that people often use the terms interchangeably.

Those who hold these views believe that it is the duty of Christians to create a worldwide kingdom patterned after the Mosaic Law. They believe that Christ will not return to earth until such a kingdom has been established. The principal goal, then, of dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism is political and religious domination of the world through the implementation of the moral laws, and subsequent punishments, of the Old Testament (the sacrificial and ceremonial laws having been fulfilled in the New Testament). This is not a government system ruled by the church, but rather a government conformed to the Law of God.

Dominion theology / Christian reconstructionism is largely based upon a post-millennial view of covenantalism. Post-millennial refers to the belief that Christ will return to earth after the thousand-year reign of God’s kingdom, and covenantalism refers to the belief that biblical history is divided into three major covenants supposedly described in Scripture—of redemption, of works, and of grace. Adherents believe that we currently exist under the covenant of grace, and that the church has replaced Israel, and we are now in the millennial Kingdom of God. Man, under the covenant of grace, is responsible to rule the world, to hold dominion over it, in obedience to the laws of God.

The problem with these beliefs is that they rest upon a distorted view of Scripture. Scripture clearly teaches a premillennial view of the Kingdom of God (Zechariah 14:4-9; Matthew 25:31-34), the “covenant of grace” is an extra-biblical construct, Israel and the Church are distinct throughout biblical history and prophecy, and God never commanded the Church to revamp society. Instead, believers are commanded to preach the Gospel as in Matthew 28:19, 20, but God clearly intends to implement worldwide reform Himself (Revelation 19:11-20:4). Though it is clearly unbiblical, dominion theology persists. It is, in fact, a great threat to biblical Christianity. Once at home solely within Reformed circles, dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism are now creeping into many Protestant churches and are making a large impact on the beliefs of Charismatic churches in particular.

As with any new teaching we are exposed to, we need to be like the Bereans of Acts 17:11: “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.” Dominion theology / Christian reconstructionism doesn’t align with what we read in the Scriptures. Although this is just a “nutshell” summary of dominion theology, the points made are very clear. Dominion theology is not a theology for a believer to live by, but rather one to avoid.

In a world where people are constantly grasping for deeper meaning, deeper spirituality, and a higher purpose, energy healing is one more New Age philosophy that presents itself as very desirable to human beings. Born with sin, we all come into the world with the strong belief that we are the center of the universe—that we are in control of our health, our bodies, our lives, our circumstances, and our destinies. Those who have not turned to God for Truth have no choice but to search for it within themselves.

The practice of energy healing is not in itself a religion, but it is a pathway to one’s own spirituality. It leads us on a personal journey that encourages us to focus on ourselves and how our energy is in synch with the energies of the cosmos, the earth, and all other life. Through this, we can supposedly be taught to heal ourselves by using clairvoyance to “visualize” where the negative energy is in order to determine the cause of the problem, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.

Reiki, a widely used energy healing technique, was said to have been developed by a Buddhist monk who used cosmic symbols for healing. Reiki claims to work by removing obstructions to the flow of life force energy throughout the body. These obstructions are allegedly caused by negative thoughts, actions, or feelings, which some believe are the fundamental cause of illness. Many even claim that employing this method is the way Jesus obtained His healing power, rather than attributing His power to the fact that He is God.

The use of energy healing encourages us to put our full trust in ourselves and our own bodies, which is a form of worship. For most who participate in energy healing, no recognition is given to the one true God, nor does He receive any praise for healing. The person using these methods of healing has made himself into his own god. Getting involved in energy healing is spiritually dangerous, to say the least.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is the One who came to heal. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’” (Matthew 11:28). God does not want or expect us to help ourselves. He is the source of life, of all that is good and true. Those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus will never come to a place of spiritual healing. “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Matthew 13:15).

DETROIT, MI – The Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to allow pastors to perform same-sex “marriages” and to change its official definition of marriage to the union of “two people” by a margin of more than three-to-one at its General Assembly in Detroit Thursday.

Seventy-six percent of voting delegates favored the measure to change the definition of marriage contained in the church’s constitution, the Book of Order, from a union of “a man and a woman” to “two people.” The vote count was 429-175.

“Who respects a church that only echoes the secular world?”

Another vote to allow PCUSA pastors to perform such ceremonies in states where gay “marriage” is legally recognized sailed through with a less robust 371-238 vote.

The Presbyterian Lay Committee, which staunchly supports the traditional definition of marriage, responded by saying, “You should refuse to fund the General Assembly, your synod, your presbytery and even your local church if those bodies have not explicitly and publicly repudiated these unbiblical actions.”

The 1.78 million member denomination is the second so-called mainline Protestant denomination to ratify same-sex “marriage,” following the United Church of Christ.

“By overturning natural marriage the PCUSA is only accelerating its already fast-paced demise,” Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said after the vote. “It will become even smaller, whiter, and older.”

The PCUSA had more than 3.1 million members in 1983 but has steadily declined in membership and influence.

“Only declining denominations reject historic Christian standards and in nearly every case that rejection reinforces the decline. Who respects a church that only echoes the secular world?” Tooley asked.

Yesterday’s decision is the culmination of a decades-long battle over homosexuality in the denomination. In 1996, the PCUSA set forth as one of its “standards” for ordination that all pastors must “live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.”

The church’s liberal membership attempted to repeal the requirement numerous times before they were finally successful in July 2010. Openly non-celibate homosexuals became eligible for ordination in the PCUSA the following year.

The church lost more than 100,000 members that year alone.

The denomination has been wracked by controversies over sexuality for decades, since it first adopted a statement saying homosexuality was incompatible with ordination in the late 1970s.

Tooley hoped a remnant of the Presbyterian faithful would be a force for change. “Many faithful have already quit the PCUSA and many more now will,” he said. “But some faithful will remain. May the Holy Spirit bless their witness and lay the groundwork for the PCUSA’s return some day to the teachings of the global church.”

Oprah Winfrey is arguably one of the most influential women in the world. With a daily viewership that has peaked around 10 million, The Oprah Winfrey Show definitely has the potential to impact the lives of many people. The Oprah Winfrey Show definitely promotes much that is good. However, there is another side of Oprah that has only recently become an integral part of her show—and that is her rejection of biblical Christianity. Oprah has made statements on her show in the past that have given a small glimpse into her personal spiritual beliefs, speaking mostly about her belief that there are many ways, millions even, for a person to “get to what some call God.”

This more recent exposure of her beliefs revolves around the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, which she helped to make a best-seller by promoting it on Oprah’s Book Club and on her website. Beyond simply promoting the book, Oprah has partnered with Tolle in presenting weekly online webcast classes in order to explore the ideas and principles expressed in A New Earth.

Some have gone as far as labeling Oprah a cult leader—and with good reason. She is a figurehead for the promotion and propagation of anti-biblical beliefs which deny every foundational truth of historical Christianity. Her webcasts have attracted hundreds of thousands of participants with the promise of gaining new perspectives on how to live a life of enrichment, peace, newfound self-worth, and spiritual freedom.

Eckhart Tolle, a well-known New Age author and speaker, promotes nothing short of personal divinity in his teachings. In an attempt to deceive people into thinking that his religion is compatible with Christianity, Tolle occasionally quotes from the Bible and refers to biblical principles. The problem is that Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, is in complete opposition to biblical Christianity from cover to cover. Nearly every reference to, or quote of, Scripture is twisted by Tolle’s consistent misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

Consider what can be found in just the pages of the first chapter: evolution of life over millions of years is accepted, assumed, and understood to be fact; Jesus is misquoted; flowers, crystals, precious stones, and birds are believed to be temporary manifestations of the Universal Consciousness and are themselves considered enlightened life forms; the definition of sin is misinterpreted; Jesus Christ is thought of as just one of those rare people who, like the Buddha, achieved divine consciousness; other religions, such as Buddhism, are considered just as valid and true as Christianity; an early Christian cult, Gnosticism, is portrayed as one of the few groups who actually understood the teachings of Jesus; original sin was simply a forgetting of the connectedness and oneness with the Source, along with everything else connected with the Source—a delusion of separateness; heaven is portrayed as merely an “inner realm of consciousness.”

These teachings are found in just the first chapter. Obviously, Eckhart Tolle is promoting a new religion, one which combines the most mystical aspects of every major religion. The first chapter, of course, sets the tone and direction for the rest of the book. This direction happens to be as far from biblical truth as is possible. If you are concerned at all with whether or not this book is compatible with the Christian faith, you need not read any further than the first chapter to understand what Tolle believes and what Oprah is encouraging others to believe.

Tolle ends the book writing about the new heaven and new earth spoken of in Revelation 21. He states near the end of chapter 10:

The only existence the future actually has is as a thought form in your mind, so when you look to the future for salvation, you are unconsciously looking to your own mind for salvation. You are trapped in form, and that is ego. “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth,” writes the biblical prophet. [T]he foundation for a new earth is a new heaven – the awakened consciousness. The earth – external reality – is only its outer reflection. The arising of a new heaven and by implication a new earth are not future events that are going to make us free. Nothing is going to make us free because only the present moment can make us free. That realization is the awakening. Awakening as a future event has no meaning because awakening is the realization of Presence. So the new heaven, the awakened consciousness, is not a future state to be achieved. A new heaven and a new earth are arising within you at this moment, and if they are not arising at this moment, they are no more than a thought in your head and therefore not arising at all. What did Jesus tell his disciples? “Heaven is right here in the midst of you.”

In line with chapter 1, chapter 10 places the final stamp of approval on a belief system completely void of biblical truth. Salvation is presented as a state of being, achieved through one’s own power; heaven is referred to as simply a state of consciousness; and Jesus Christ is relegated to a spiritual master who taught that one only needs look within oneself to find spiritual release. Scripture is used only out of context and presented as obscurely as possible.

There is no room for Jesus Christ, the God-Man, or His teachings in Oprah and Tolle’s belief system. In fact, Oprah and Tolle propose that all people free their minds from a belief in Christ. Truly, deception is the only thing that Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey offer. They, and those that follow their teachings, have fallen for Satan’s original lie, “you will be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

Scientology is a difficult religion to summarize. Scientology has gained popularity due to some Hollywood celebrities who have embraced it. Scientology was founded in 1953 by fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, just four years after he made the statement, “I’d like to start a religion—that’s where the money is.” That is where he found wealth, also—Hubbard became a multi-millionaire.

Scientology teaches that mankind is an immortal being (called a Thetan) not originally from this planet, and that man is trapped by matter, energy, space, and time (MEST). Salvation for a scientologist comes through a process called ”auditing,” whereby ”engrams” (basically, memories of past pain and unconsciousness that create energy blockage) are removed. Auditing is a lengthy process and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. When all engrams are finally removed, the Thetan can once again control MEST instead of being controlled by it. Until salvation, each Thetan is constantly reincarnated.

Scientology is a very expensive religion to pursue. Every aspect of Scientology has some sort of fee associated with it. This is why Scientology’s “pews” are filled only with the wealthy. It is also a very strict religion and very punitive against those who would try to leave behind its teachings and membership. Its “scriptures” are limited solely to the writings and teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.

Though scientologists will claim that Scientology is compatible with Christianity, the Bible counters each and every belief they hold to. The Bible teaches that God is the sovereign and only creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1); mankind was created by God (Genesis 1:27); the only salvation available to man is by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:8); salvation is a free gift that mankind can do nothing to earn (Ephesians 2:8-9); and Jesus Christ is alive and well and is seated at the right hand of God the Father even now (Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 1:3), awaiting the time when He will gather His people to Himself to reside with Him for eternity in heaven. Everyone else will be cast into a very real hell, separated from God for eternity (Revelation 20:15).

Scientology categorically denies the existence of the God of the Bible, heaven, and hell. To a scientologist, Jesus Christ was simply a good teacher who unfortunately was wrongfully put to death. Scientology differs from biblical Christianity on every important doctrine. Some of the most important differences are summarized below:

God: Scientology believes that there are multiple gods and that some gods are above other gods. Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, recognizes the one and only true God who revealed Himself to us in the Bible and through Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Him cannot believe the false concept of God as taught in Scientology.

Jesus Christ: Like other cults, Scientology denies the deity of Christ. Instead of having a biblical view of who Christ is and what He did, they assign to Him the characteristics of some sort of lesser god who has obtained legendary status over the years. The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh and through His incarnation He could act as a sacrifice for our sins. It is through Christ’s death and resurrection that we can have the hope of eternal life with God (John 3:16).

Sin: Scientology believes in the inherent goodness of man and teaches that it is despicable and utterly beneath contempt to tell a man he must repent or that he is evil. On the other hand, the Bible teaches that man is a sinner and the only hope for him is that he receive Christ as his Lord and Savior (Romans 6:23).

Salvation: Scientology believes in reincarnation and that personal salvation in one’s lifetime is freedom from the cycle of birth and death associated with reincarnation. They believe that religious practice of all faiths is the universal way to wisdom, understanding, and salvation. In contrast, the Bible teaches that there is only one way of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Comparing the teachings of Scientology with the Bible, we see that the two have very little, if anything, in common. Scientology only leads away from God and eternal life. Scientology, while sometimes disguising its beliefs in Christian-sounding language, in fact diametrically opposes Christianity on every core belief. Scientology is clearly, and most definitely, not Christian.