May 1 2013
Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
I have had the tremendous blessing of working with Dave Hunt for 35 years. Only those who have known Dave personally can really understand how wonderfully privileged I have been. It began the day I was taken to his house by a Christian filmmaker. Only a few months earlier I had been on location in Iran as the screenwriter for the production of the James Michener novel Caravans . Upon my return to the US, however, something temporally and eternally more significant occurred: I became a born-again Christian.
I was praying about what I should do with my new life in Christ when the Lord directed me to meet Dave. The catalyst was a screenplay that Dave wanted to see written based upon a fictional story that he had been developing. I read his story idea and told him—regretfully—that although I knew how to write screenplays, my knowledge of biblical Christianity was almost nonexistent, and I was sure that it would greatly hinder my ability to translate his story to the screen. To my unending thankfulness, he said that if I wouldn’t object to our working on it together, he could supply the biblical input as needed. I was too new a believer to shout “Praise the Lord!” but I know that something equivalent raced through my mind. At that time, I had no idea as to what a “calling” was, or the biblical gift of helps, but I somehow knew in my heart that I was to help Dave do what God had put on his heart to do. That was the beginning of three and a half decades of learning about and living out the Scriptures through my association with the most godly man I have ever known. And I got to know him quite well.
The first 30 years of my life before being exposed to the biblical gospel and believing it for salvation had been spent as a Roman Catholic. Through the witness of young evangelicals, I was shown from the Bible that Christ paid the full penalty for my sins and that I could receive the gift of eternal life by simply acknowledging my own sin and receiving His forgiveness by faith alone. So I did this, even though I was still pretty clueless about most of the other teachings in the Bible. When I began to work with Dave, my schooling in the Scriptures also began. “Schooling” may not be the best choice of words because there was never an academic approach to my biblical education through Dave. In the beginning, it was primarily by my asking questions about something he had said or written. His response then was to consistently direct me to the Bible: “Here’s the passage, Tom. Read it for yourself!” Later, that was reduced to simply, “Be a Berean! Check it out.”
Although Dave respected scholarship, he was a firm believer in and proponent of familiarity with the Word of God. I’ve never met anyone with a more intimate knowledge of the Scriptures. That may not seem like a big deal to some, but it’s huge when one realizes that Scripture itself is the best interpreter of Scripture. To say that the Bible explains itself would not be an overstatement. Knowing the full counsel of God is critical to our understanding of it. Jesus often chided the religious leaders and even His own disciples for not being aware of what the Scriptures taught. Dave’s most valuable lessons for me, which came steadily by example over the years, were seeing his love of God’s Word, his diligence in reading it, and then watching him actually live it.
The other thing that most impressed me about Dave was the humility and graciousness with which he handled religious controversy. Such controversy was something that was foreign to me growing up Catholic—not that it didn’t exist within the Church of Rome, but other than recognizing that some Catholics were more liberal than others and that not everyone agreed on contraception and certain other dogmas of the Church, the issues were rarely if ever discussed. I learned very quickly that this was definitely not the case among evangelicals, especially in my association with “the man of controversy,” Dave Hunt! I think one reason why controversy is more pronounced among evangelicals is because they traditionally have held to the Scriptures as the authority for their beliefs and practices. When teachings arise that are contrary to God’s Word, it creates divisions among those who profess to be Bible-believing Christians—often rather hostile divisions.
Early in my relationship with him, I was surprised that when I mentioned to some evangelical acquaintances that I was working with Dave Hunt, they had serious reservations about my association with him. When I asked them to give me some reasons why Dave was so controversial, they couldn’t really say. Most of the concerned people didn’t know Dave personally nor had they read his books or heard him speak. That was a mystery to me, which came into better focus when I had the privilege of helping him with The Seduction of Christianity (although he was hardly in need of my contributions). Nevertheless, the controversy aspect was hardly complex. A teaching is either true to the Scriptures or it is not. If it is not, division rears its ugly head (Acts:16:17).
The Seduction of Christianity came about primarily because of responses to two prior books by Dave, The Cult Explosion and The God Makers (written with Ed Decker). Although those books addressed the unbiblical doctrines and practices of numerous cults , as did the film documentaries with the same titles, which I worked on, there were unexpected and even shocking responses from believers who had read those books and watched those films. These conservative evangelicals and Charismatics had begun to recognize that some of the occult teachings that we had exposed were being taught in their own churches! This was easily proven yet what was even more disturbing, Christian bookstores were loaded with numerous titles promoting such occult methodologies. Many of them were promoted by the “faith healing” ministries popular among experientially driven Charismatics and Pentecostals and included the belief that Christians were “little gods under God.” Furthermore, even conservative evangelicals were being introduced to techniques such as occult visualization under the guise of psychotherapy. We discovered that those examples were not only the tip of the false-doctrine iceberg, but they were also afloat in the backwaters of the church. We felt that we had no choice but to bring the issues before the church at large.
Seduction became a best seller, but sadly for the wrong reason—controversy. It may have been the first book by an established Christian publisher to name names and document the false teachings of highly visible Christian leaders. Dave made it clear in the introduction that the book was not an indictment of individuals, but rather, it was written to alert them and those who read their works of the unbiblical nature of some of their teachings, in many cases promoted unwittingly and in ignorance. Nevertheless, that made Seduction quite controversial.
Many pastors added to the controversy by condemning the book from their pulpits, warning their fellowships against reading it. Although by this time, I had been working with Dave for a half-dozen years, I wasn’t prepared for what took place. The number of people who confronted me personally for my involvement was intimidating, to say the least. Dave told me to respond by telling them that we were more than willing to correct anything in the book that was in error or not true to the Scriptures. As I began communicating that, I was shocked by the overwhelming numbers of my confronters who boldly declared that they hadn’t read the book, nor would they.
On the other hand, The Seduction of Christianity impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of believers. We still receive correspondence from countless individuals, even decades later, whose lives were turned around and revived in the Scriptures because of the influence of that book. The most memorable was from a prisoner on death row. He had committed his life to intercessory prayer until he started reading a Word/Faith positive-confession book. He bought into the lie that his faith was the key for him to be delivered from his situation. He began confessing his release from prison continually. He wrote to us that he had destroyed his once-fruitful intercessory prayer ministry by turning to the mind-science corruption of true biblical prayer. It wasn’t until the prison book cart came by with a used copy of Seduction that his eyes were opened. He said that the Lord used our book to “set him free” from the self-serving bondage of the false faith teaching and then restored his ministry of praying for others.
Although multitudes were blessed, some of the religious leaders mentioned in Seduction were not. At their invitation, Dave and I met with a few of them to discuss why they were included and what our concerns were. Not all of the meetings were cordial. Some called him divisive and accused him of harming “God’s anointed.” Another complained that he was “a murderer” for turning Christians away from psychological counseling. Others gave lip service agreement to Dave’s explanations, but only one leader actually corrected what he had written. Through it all, Dave was courteous yet firm in his steadfastness for what the Bible taught. I was merely a fly-on-the-wall at these meetings, but I learned how a godly man corrects someone. This was the closest thing to Paul’s admonition to Timothy about the way to minister to a brother in error that I had experienced up to that point (2 Timothy:2:24-26).
Those who had read some of Dave’s books but didn’t know him personally and had never heard him speak were only exposed to the written words of his fervent commitment to the truth of the Scriptures and his zeal for sound doctrine. Too often, many people miss the compassion and the heart of the man whose works they are reading. We at TBC realized that problem when listeners told us that they really felt that they came to know Dave better through our years of doing radio together. Although the program was pre-recorded, it had a live “feel” to it because Dave was not given our subject matter ahead of time, so his reactions were always spontaneous and lively, especially regarding the latest outrageous item infecting Christianity that I would present. Some things would cause him to “bounce off the walls” of our recording booth, much to the delight of our listeners.
Without any doubt, all of God’s children are wonderfully unique; there seem to be no two alike. Therefore, I can say with confidence that there will never be another Dave Hunt. His gentleness and humility were obvious to all who met him. He was mentally brilliant. His memory was unsurpassed by any that I’ve witnessed. He could quote entire books of the Bible, poems that seemed to go on for days (many of which he wrote), and little-known stanzas, which few knew were even part of an otherwise familiar hymn. When dining with Dave, if someone told a joke, he would follow up with a non-stop litany of jokes that seemed to go on endlessly. His sense of humor wonderfully countered those who characterized him as a “mean-spirited heresy hunter.” Although he was not given to promoting humor from the pulpit, from time-to-time he would start off with stories making himself the butt of his own jokes. That was always greatly effective because few congregations expected it. He was not only humorous, but he was the most positive, upbeat guy I knew. Certainly, he could be overwhelmed by grief, yet I never saw him depressed.
Everyone who knows me personally knows that I love to fish. That, too, can be attributed to Dave. Our hikes beyond the timberline in the high Sierras in search of the elusive golden trout were mind-boggling and absolutely mind-refreshing. Dave was an expert fly fisherman. The mountain adventures I had with him, along with many other stories, could fill volumes. If there was any rivalry between us, it was only over who was the best camp cook; my wife’s birthday cake, baked by myself over a campfire, settled that issue for me. Dave was impressed—but not necessarily convinced!
However, the favorite “Dave stories” among the TBC staff were the accounts that he would share upon his return from speaking engagements. He would tell us matter-of-factly that he could prove the existence of God by the very people that the Lord placed next to him on his various flights—people who seemed to be prepared and ready for Dave’s witnessing. If someone was skeptical regarding “divine appointments,” it only took a couple of examples from Dave to convince them otherwise. I was never skeptical, but my confidence in his reports got huge boosts from several personal experiences. As one example, we had just boarded a plane and noticed that one of our two assigned seats (with extended leg room) was occupied by a Marine corporal. Since someone my size doesn’t require extra legroom for comfort, we didn’t ask the Marine to move, and Dave sat down beside him. In their lengthy conversation, Dave learned that the Marine was on his way to a Pagan conference and ceremonial festival. The young man listened eagerly while he received an education in the theology and fallacies of Paganism. What’s the probability of that situation occurring by chance? Divine appointments not only happened to Dave, but they seemed to happen regularly.
Again, there will never be another Lord’s watchman quite like Dave Hunt. So, the question now on the minds of many is “what’s next for TBC and the watchman’s sidekick” (who will sorely miss his best friend in the Lord)? As stated earlier, I believe that my calling for more than three decades has been simply to help Dave do what God has called him to do. Now that Dave is with the Lord, I believe my calling has shifted to preserving the integrity of what Dave has produced and, by the grace of God, getting his books, articles, sermons, videos, and audio materials to the next generation of believers. Certainly, in keeping with the legacy that Dave has left us, a legacy centered upon the Word of God, we will cover new issues as they come up that are adversely affecting the body of Christ. Therefore, we truly covet your prayers that God will enable us to maintain the course on which He directed Dave. We are blessed and privileged to continue that work. TBC