Theology Matters

I attend an evangelical church with strong Reformed Theology. The preaching and teaching is Biblical and sound, and even the music is selected for being scriptural. Despite the fact that the teaching is Reformed, and ninety five percent of the church is Calvinistic, there is still a small percent that struggle with their theology.  There are the die-hard Arminians and the wannabe Pentecostals. Most of this category has been in the church for many years and I wonder how they sit under the strong Reformed teaching week after week, yet fail to understand it and believe it. It’s as though the teaching goes straight over their heads.

One of my favourite ladies at church comes from a background of solid teaching, but for some unknown reason has started to embrace the false teachings of the Pentecostal Church. She is now into Joyce Meyer, Derek Prince and other false teachers, instead of Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin and R.C. Sproul. She sprouts off snappy Pentecostal catch phrases that make me nauseated and has immersed herself into Pentecostal womens’ groups. Recently I was talking to her about the fact that I have an autoimmune disease which slows me down considerably and causes great fatigue. Considering I was told five years ago by my doctor to go home, go to bed, and stay there, I am doing remarkably well. I work two part time jobs, study full time and care for a family. Yes, I am chronically tired, but I manage to live up to a standard thought impossible for me. For that I am most grateful to God and to me, it’s a miracle. Now, when having this conversation with my friend from church she laughed and said to me, “No! You’re healed in Jesus name. You just need to confess it.” I was stunned. Has this lady fallen to such depths that she would actually buy into the false teaching of the name it and claim it prosperity gospel? It seems so. I was mortified by her response. Firstly, it was insensitive, as she was effectively calling me a liar, and secondly it was plain old unbiblical rubbish. I am so sad that she has moved away from solid teaching to dangerous hype. Maybe her foundation is not as solid as I had believed and that is a cause of great concern.

Theology is very important. What we believe about God affects every area of our life. It affects how we view others, view ourselves, our world view, and how we behave. Pentecostal theology has a distorted view of God, and everything we believe comes from that distortion. I have found this list of the dangers of Pentecostal theology on this website http://www.bible.ca/tongues-pentecostal-errors.htm. I am not endorsing the website as I don’t even know who wrote this article, but I do agree with this list.

1. CULTIC ORIGINS & INFLUENCES – The Word of Faith Movement owes much of its teachings to E.W. Kenyon who was heavily influenced by Mind Science and New Thought Christianity (what became known as Unity School) in the early 1900’s.

2. OVERSIMPLIFICATION – Quick and easy solutions to life’s problems are offered the believer. There are various “KEYS” or “STEPS” to healing, wealth, financial prosperity, victory in life, etc.

3. ABUSE OF THE BIBLE – A consistent misapplication of Scriptural Texts due to ignorance of Biblical, Systematic, and Historical theology. Analogies, Proof-texting, lack of formal training in Hebrew & Greek all lead to wrong conclusions.

4. FALSE TEACHINGS – WOF teachers promote a wide variety of false teachings regarding Healing, Health, Prosperity, Demons, Salvation and the Atonement.

5. SPIRITUAL PRIDE – Leaders of the WOF REFUSE to dialog with other members of the Body of Christ regarding their teaching. They claim their teachings come by direct revelation knowledge from God and are not subject to human scrutiny.

6. WORLDLY/HUMANISTIC THEOLOGY– WOF presents a distorted vision of God and the Christian life. God is the supplier of financial prosperity, health, and victory when the believer uses their faith. WOF holds the concept that God’s children should “eat the best, drive the best, and wear the best.” Little emphasis on suffering from Christ, the cross, self-denial.

7. EXPERIENTIALISM – There is a strong emphasis on feeling and emotionalism versus the use of the mind and intellect. Intuitive guidance from the “hidden man of the heart” versus Bible study.

8. HEDONISM – Stress is on man-centered happiness versus God-centered holiness. They strive for heaven-on-earth now. This is evident in their teaching regarding money and possessions. All of the leading WOF teachers are millionaires or multimillionaires.

9. EXCLUSIVISM – Those who do not subscribe to their beliefs are “carnally-minded.” They see themselves as “God’s Remnant” and/or His “overcomers.”

10. POWER RELIGION – The majority of their teachings and conferences center around “power” and the “anointing.” There is a stress on teaching the authority of the believer over Satan and demons. Angels are our servants and we are to command them.

11. LACK OF BALANCE – Teachings stress FAITH, HEALTH, WEALTH, GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT, DELIVERANCE, SUPERNATURAL POWER, VICTORY. Little theology is taught, no systematic Bible teaching.

I would like to add to the list that they also misuse the Old Testament, to their advantage. For example, they believe that they are entitled to the OT blessings which were from God to ISRAEL, but they refuse to take the curses. They believe they are only a blessed people and take on Israel’s blessings for themselves. They are not taught the art of hermeneutics or exegesis so they consistently take Scripture out of context. They pull out one or two Scriptures that “support” something they believe, and they do not apply any context or correct translation to the passages.

Monergism.com write this regarding the importance of sound Biblical Theology:

Why is Biblical Theology important?
Biblical theology is an important discipline for several reasons; first, it helps us to determine what themes and truths of scriptures are really important, and why. As we seek to understand how the scriptures naturally unfold, and how its themes are developed and grow ever more mature, we start to realize what’s truly being emphasized. If we relied on systematic theology alone, we might come to know many truths about angels and men and sin and redemption, but which of those truths are the most important? Which are the most emphasized and developed in the history of special revelation? Is it as important to know about cherubim and seraphim as it is to know about justification and redemption? 

Second, biblical theology gives us the “big picture,” and shows us how all the truths of the bible cohere and relate to each other, and make sense as a whole. The bible was not given to us as a handbook of various truths and doctrines, but fundamentally as an epic story, in which all truths exist to portray the glory of one great Hero, promised, foreshadowed, and prepared for in the Old Testament, and finally coming to accomplish his magnificent and many-faceted work in the New Testament. Systematic Theology alone does not give this epic, Christ-centered sense of the bible as one great unified whole, testifying to the mighty work of God’s redemption through his eternal Son, the triumphant Christ. 

Third, biblical theology can be helpful in demanding the application of a rigorous historical-grammatical hermeneutic in exegesis. Biblical theology, by its very nature, must take into account the history and context of special revelation, and answer the questions of why a particular book was written at a particular time, what problems it addressed, how it further prepared the world and the people of God for the coming of Christ, and so on; and for this reason, it can be a healthy corrective to any tendency toward careless “proof-texting” (Monergism, 2008).

I think we can lose sight of what is important when we start thinking that the Bible is all about us. We are so brain washed by false teachings telling us that we are worthy, and that God saw something in us and that’s why He loves us, that we can be misled into thinking that God is on standby just waiting to do our bidding. None of that is true; it’s dangerous heresy. Our words do not have the power to create like God. We do not have to give God permission to act in our world. We are not little Gods.  We cannot speak things into existence. That is all absolute manure. The Bible is about Jesus Christ, and we are chosen by Him purely because of His grace and sovereignty. We are nothing. James 4:14b says “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

When my church friend gave me the terrible Pentecostal advice, I was very quick to correct and rebuke her from straying from solid teachings. I warned her of the danger and deception and I was quite strong in my rebuke. I love her a great deal and I care about her spiritual state. Whilst I do not want her chasing after false teachings it does make me wonder if we as a church are failing her in some way that she would seek ‘more.’ Or has she not yet truly understood and embraced the gospel and therefore she has a foundation of sand? I’m not sure but I certainly want to spend time with her and find out. 

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