In an age of tolerance, modernism, acceptance, Christendom finds itself engulfed in heretical views that have truly compromised the church. With the number of popularized heresies within denominations, it is difficult to see who is teaching biblical Christianity. With the known televangelists tickling the ears of men, it is difficult to see what their motives are and whether they really care about the salvation and discipleship of their listeners. While some may care, many of them may be so lost in false doctrine that they cannot be trusted to give true edification. Many may actually be deceptive in their teachings, or attempt to paint their beliefs as less radical so that unsuspecting Christians will go to their church.
One of the duties of the man of God is to serve as a guardian against the false teachers who would exploit it for their own gain or contort the Scripture to fit their doctrine. As Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Further, James tells us that teachers are judged harshly (James 3:1). Therefore, I would like to expose a few of these people by giving a brief list of some popular Christian teachers to avoid. However, this should not be taken as a condemnation to Hell. I am making no judgment about the salvation of these individuals or their parishioners. I am just saying that these are 5 popular Christian teachers to avoid.
1 – Joel Osteen
With a congregation of about the largest in the world, and a viewing audience of about 100 million, Joel Osteen is a face known throughout all of the world. He is one of the most likable and friendly men, and most regard his sermons are very uplifting and positive. Most feel as though Osteen’s sermons have changed their life for the better, that he has truly helped them to live their best life now. Despite that, many men of God have had very negative reviews of Osteen. Doctor John MacArthur says of him, “He is a Pagan religionist.” Paul Washer says, “He is a false teacher.”
Why is that? Osteen teaches what is known as the prosperity gospel. That is to say that he teaches that Jesus came so that we could live in health, wealth, and general happiness. This is in contrast with biblical Christianity, which reveals that Christ, and all of his apostles were murdered for the sake of truth. We live not for our own happiness, but for being in a loving relationship with God – whatever the cost.
Osteen instead teaches that one can have their best life now by applying principles to their life. He explains that a resolution for our goals is that we can just declare something, and then achieve it. He is a glorified seminar speaker, using rhetoric to offer advise which achieves carnal desires. Perhaps one of the most obvious demonstrations of this is when his wife said that we do good things, not for God, but for the self (see video to the right). Joel tickles the ears of men (offering them cash, cars, health, ect.) and makes money on that promise. Jesus is a word that he sprinkles over his teachings to appeal to the Christians. Jesus said that it would not be profitable for us to gain the world, yet lose our soul. That is what Osteen teaches us to do: gain the world, lose our soul.
2 – Gail Riplinger
In her 700 page volume known as New Age Bible Versions Riplinger malevolently and ignorantly smears men of God, accusing them every manner of heresy just in an attempt to debunk their translation of the Bible. In particular, she goes after the NIV translator Dr Edwin Palmer in an attempt to demonstrate that he is a heretic and loads his heretical views into the NIV. On page 305 of her book, she cites him as saying, “There are few clear and decisive texts that declare that Jesus is God.” But Doctor Palmer did not say that. What he said on page 143 of NIV: The Making Of A Contemporarily Translation was that John 1:18 is one of those few clear and decision texts that declare that Jesus is God. In Riplinger’s version, she made it seem as though he were denying the deity of Christ, when in fact if you read Doctor Palmer’s version, he was affirming it.
I am afraid that this manner of citation is just one of many. Riplinger either read secondary sources and implemented the malevolent work of others into her book, or she intentionally distorted what these men said so as to construct a case against them. Despite how poorly researched her references were, her book has caused a clamor in many Independent Baptist circles, causing them to rail against the NIV and other translations. It has led to the burning of NIV. It wastes precious time that could be spent on edifying the masses. Instead, this movement spreads hatred and lies about fellow men of God and modern translations. For a fuller defense of the NIV, read my article Is The NIV Bible Corrupt?
3 – Todd Bentley
Called a ‘fire-starter’ and ‘anointed’ by many some charismatic ministers, Todd Bentley is known as very influential within that movement. He maintained a similar manner of ministry as was revealed in the “Toronto Blessing.” Of course, sexual scandal impeded his ministry when it was discovered that he was engaged in an illicit affair with one of his fellow ministers. However, he was later welcomed to return to ministry.
As an abuser of the charismatic movement, Bentley is known for uncontrollable laughter, making animal noises, sporadic twitching and vibrating, and even kicking women in the face. All of these are said to be manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Of course, they are not. Bentley is a charlatan, and while tens of thousands of people follow him, he is one of the most dangerous Christian ministers in the world. Avoid Todd Bentley, and warn people of him.
4 – Steven Anderson
Mr Anderson has come into the national spotlight several times throughout the years, even on some national news outlets so that he might have a platform for promoting his views regarding homosexuality. Anderson has been a promoter of what he refers to as the cure for AIDS. He complains that many people do not know the simple solution to the outbreak of AIDS, which of course is the death of those who transmit AIDS. He suggests that the cure for AIDS is to “execute the homos.” He is known for suggesting that we can cure AIDS by killing the known homosexuals in the world. Now, I should first point out that this is not a cure for a disease. It would be less than impressive, to put it mildly, if somebody were to promote this as a cure for the common cold. That just does not seem like an acceptable approach to medicine.
Further, Anderson has said that people who are not Christians should be treated with kindness. People who are not Christians are welcome into their home and receptive to pleasant engagement. However, he said, “Obviously, we draw the line when it comes to people like homosexuals. They’re reprobate. They’re not going to get saved anyway. Why would we allow these perverts to be around our children?” This disdain toward sinners stands in contrast with the behavior of Jesus, who ate with sinners, despite the protest of the religious authorities. When the authorities accused Jesus of eating with sinners, he said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. For go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call those who think they are righteous, but those who know that they are sinners into repentance.” (Matthew 9:13).
5 – David K. Bernard
Doctor Bernard is the General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church, which is the largest Oneness Pentecostal organization in the world. The Oneness Pentecostal movement is known for its’ denial of trinitarian theology. However, they still maintain that Jesus is God. Doctor Bernard adheres to an ancient heresy known as modalism. You may read more about that in my series on Oneness Pentecostalism. Doctor Bernard is the recipient of attention from me precisely because of his condemnation of the body of Christ. He maintains that one cannot be baptized in the trinitarian formula and still be saved. The only way for somebody to be saved is accept water baptism after the words “in the name of Jesus,” are recited over the baptismal tank. If those particular words are not recited, the baptism is illegitimate and you are still in your sins.
Similarly, if somebody is to be saved, they must emit ecstatic speech. That is to say that if you have never spoken in tongues, you are not really a Christian. For when one receives the Holy Spirit, they will necessarily speak in tongues. This would put all non-charistmatic Christians in condemnation. Anybody who does not speak in tongues is unsaved. But it seems radical and cultic to think that the great men of God throughout history have been reprobate. Many like Charles Spurgeon, or Martin Luther, or CS Lewis, or Saint Augustine… the list goes on. The Oneness Pentecostal Church, then, is reduced to condemning these men of God.
Therefore, it is appropriate of us to be weary of that organization, avoid attending events hosted by it and to avoid the ministry of Doctor Bernard.
If you would like to get in on the discussion about this, join my Theology Discussion Group!