Special edition of a Dave Hunt/Tom McMahon Search the Scriptures classic, titled The Seduction of Christianity and featuring both Dave and Tom.
Gary: Welcome. You’re listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael.
In today’s program, we present a selection from our Search the Scriptures Daily radio archives featuring Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon. Originally broadcast in 1999, Dave and Tom discuss their highly controversial best-selling book The Seduction of Christianity and its impact on the church. Now, along with Dave Hunt, here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Dave, as you know, it’s been nearly 15 years since the first printing of The Seduction of Christianity. And this being our first series of Search the Scriptures radio programs, I thought we might give our listeners a little background about the book, about ourselves, and how the book relates to the ministry of The Berean Call, which produces this program.
Now, first of all, why write a book, as some have said, that has such a presumptuous title? I mean was Seduction of Christianity—is that presumptuous?
Dave: I don’t think it was presumptuous. I think it was factual, and I think many people would agree with us. Christianity for a long time is in the process of being redefined. A lot of things are being passed off as Christianity which are not. Who am I to say that? It’s not my opinion. We go to the Scriptures. Very definitely, in the name of God, in the name of the Bible, a Christianity has been manufactured in the United States and around the world that is definitely not biblical.
Tom: Yeah. A little bit of background: you wrote a number of books before The Seduction of Christianity; a book and then the film, at that time, that I worked on. You wrote the book, I worked on the film Cult Explosion. After that book and the film came out, we received lots of letters from people who said, “You know, the book, the film, were about cults, but we see those teachings taking place in our church.” And they were concerned, and we received enough of those—enough information not only from that book and that film but from other places, of people seeing cultic teachings show up in their evangelical churches.
Dave: We’ve had contact—letters and phone calls and face-to-face contact with many people who say something like this: “I came to Christ out of the cults, or out of the occult. I went to what I thought was…it was recommended to me as a fine evangelical church, and I found the same thing going on there that I had just been delivered from. And I went to another one, and the same thing. And I had a difficult time finding…” It’s not that these people were not Christians, not that they didn’t teach from the Word of God, or attempt to, but there were practices, and ideas, and doctrines that had crept in that had somehow become intertwined with the teaching of Scripture, I guess to “improve” it, or somehow it seemed to make things work better, or whatever may have been the reason, and the Christians in those churches would not recognize it as such. But the people who had come out of the occult, they saw it immediately! They said, “This is what we came from! This is what we were delivered from. Why is it in the church?”
And, of course, as you are intimating, some of these letters and contacts with people like that caused us to awaken ourselves perhaps a little bit more. I had, as you said, written a number of books. I had traveled to India, I had been really concerned about the New Age influences in the world, and talking about them, and then, I see them in the church—the same thing. So, we felt that this really needed to be addressed.
Tom: Right. And there were, to us, some amazing objections. I remember, you know, us being blamed for creating this whole idea of the New Age and putting it into a book to sell books! Obviously, it didn’t turn out that way—that is, people recognized that the New Age was not just the figment of Dave Hunt’s imagination.
Dave: In those days, actually, Tom, as I recall, in Peace, Prosperity…
Tom: Peace, Prosperity, certainly.
Dave: …and the Coming Holocaust, we had a lot to say about the New Age, and in those days, the so-called cult experts, the cult watchers, they said there was no such thing. It didn’t really exist. And, you know, you almost didn’t want to talk about the New Age after while, because everybody—all the Christians—began putting it in the title of their books as they awakened to this, to somehow sell a book. But definitely, you would have to call it New Age.
Now, a little background to that, there was something called “New Thought” that originated probably in the 1890s. You could pretty much trace it to a place called the Emerson School of Oratory.
Dave: Out of the Emerson School of Oratory came Unity School of Christianity—I mean, the influences that brought it about—Christian Science, Science of Mind, Religious Science, and so forth, and much of that is reflected in the Positive Confession movement. It was called New Thought in those days. It was Emersonian ideas—you know, you create reality with your mind. Let me give a quick example here. Let’s say many Christians, probably most, but many Christians, when they pray they think faith is if I can just believe that what I am praying for will happen, then it will happen, and they think that’s faith. Obviously, if things happen because you believe they will happen, that’s not faith, that’s “mind power.” Faith is believing God will make it happen.
Well, then that brings another set of circumstances into the equation. Is it God’s will? Maybe it’s not God’s will, it’s not God’s way, it’s not God’s time, and so forth. And you remember, we were criticized for what we said in The Seduction of Christianity—we talked about the occult influences in the church, and we said, “Occultism is any attempt to manipulate reality by mind-over-matter techniques.” And I remember some of the staunch Christian cult watchers who said, “Whoa, now that rules out prayer, that rules out God’s natural work, you know, it rules out miracles.” No! We’re talking about mind-over-matter attempts to manipulate reality. And so, if you can make things happen by believing they will happen, that is mind over matter. That is positive thinking. Norman Vincent Peale—you can change your reality, you can change the universe, by your thoughts. Now, you begin to trust in these techniques, that, by the way, are taught in the business world, they are taught in public schools—I remember in those days we used to use this illustration: We would say, If a witch doctor came dancing down the aisles of your church in his paint and feathers and fetishes and rattles, you would throw him out, or you would at least try to convert him. But you wouldn’t let him teach your congregation. But when the witch doctor has put on a business suit and a tie, and he is using Christian words but he is teaching you the same thing underneath the cover of these Christian words, unfortunately, it isn’t recognized.
Tom: Right. Or if he has scientific credentials of some type, then it’s more than acceptable because of the source, right?
Dave: Right. He has a Ph.D. in psychology, perhaps.
Tom: Dave, the example here—I mean, this is…hopefully the audience understands what we’re laying out here, is that this is…this was a seduction, and it continues to be a seduction. Sometimes today you wonder, because there’s so much information out about it, but still people are being seduced by this, and as you point out, the Word-Faith teachers…here is an example of those who would claim to be evangelicals who have adopted a methodology, techniques, of occultism, developed or wrapped them in Christian terminology, and presented them as faith. That’s what we’re talking about. This is one example of the seduction that took place.
Dave: Of course, we had already written, as you’ve mentioned, Cult Explosion, and numbers of people had written about the Mormon Church. The heart of the Mormon Church is the belief that we can become gods. Well, the men become gods. The women become goddesses and have to continue to…they look forward to eternal pregnancy, and so forth. But…
Tom: Right. Cranking out “spirit babies.”
Dave: …but a man becomes a god. That’s the whole idea. Brigham Young said, “The devil told the truth. I don’t blame Mother Eve for eating the forbidden fruit. That’s how we become gods.”
So Mormonism is literally founded upon the belief that the lie of the serpent is the gospel truth, okay? And so people could accept that…
Tom: When you [say] “people could accept that,” you mean they recognize that as Mormon heresy…
Dave: Thank you, right. They understood it. When you spoke against the Mormon Church, and you pointed out the error of it, they could accept that. They were willing to take that. But when we had people in the evangelical church who are talking about getting saved and believing in Jesus, that Jesus died for our sins on the cross, but they’re saying, “Not that we’re going to become gods; we already are gods! We are little gods.”
You have Paul Crouch on TBN putting out a newsletter from Trinity Broadcasting Network in which he said, “If we are not little gods, I will apologize before 10,000 x 10,000 before the Crystal Sea.”
Well, it’s very simple from the Bible. I mean, this is not our opinion. If he’s a little god, he won’t be before the Crystal Sea, because Jeremiah:10:10-11, God says, “I am God. There is no other God. And I am the God who created the heavens and the earth. Nobody else has done that.”
And then this God, the true God of the Bible, the Creator, says, “You say to the gods (spelled with a little g) who have not created the heavens and the earth, they will perish from under this heaven and from this earth.” That’s pretty clear.
But you have Charles Capps, for example, writing one of his books, he says, “We are gods, but remember to spell it with a little ‘g.’”
Well, that’s incredible! But then the teaching follows: because we’re god, little gods, of course, we can speak the “creative Word.” We can do what God does! And then they begin to teach that everything is subject to laws. This is a more subtle form of Galatianism, that we’re not under the law that was given to Moses, but we’re under some kind of natural laws that govern this entire universe, and, in fact, God himself is subject to these laws, and it is because of His knowledge of these laws that He is able to speak forth the “creative word.” You can do it through visualizing, through positive speaking. That’s why they call it “The Positive Confession movement.” You wouldn’t want to say, “I’ve got a cold,” because that’s a negative confession. That would cause you to get one! But if you have a cold, your nose is running, and so forth, you say, “I don’t have a cold,” that’s positive confession, and you keep confessing it and then your cold will go away.
Tom: Right. Well, see, Dave, that’s interesting, because you bring up Mormonism the idea that they promote that we are gods, or we’re being exalted to godhood. As a cult, you have the same problem with Religious Science, Christian Science, that really we are deity, right? We have this innate deity about us and that we can create reality with our minds.
Dave: Yeah, it comes from Hinduism. It’s called “maya.” The Hindu would say it’s all an illusion. It’s only what you think. What you think creates the world that you live in. It’s a form of pantheism. They would say they’re religious scientists—I mean, a practitioner of religious science, Science of Mind, would say, “God is good, and God is all, therefore, all is good.” And if you see something out there that looks like sin and sickness, suffering, death, it doesn’t exist. You’ve been caught in the downward spiral of your negative thinking.
Now there are a lot of people who wouldn’t go that far as Christians, but still, they give some credence to the idea that if I say, “I’m getting a cold,” I’ll get a cold, and that if they can just make a positive confession, then that will bring it about. And, these men, Hagin, Copeland, and so forth, Frederic Price—they literally teach—and Paul Crouch, it’s taught on Trinity Broadcasting Network—they literally teach that we create with our words. And they say that’s because we’re little gods. And they would go to Genesis 1, where God said, and they will quote it, Genesis:1:3: “God said, Let there be light.” Genesis:1:6, 11, and so forth, “God said,” “God said,” and they say, “See the power in words?”
No! It didn’t happen because God said it. It happened because it was GOD who said it!
Dave: And He’s not subject to some laws. And there are not some laws out there that make it work. But Pat Robertson says, “God never does a miracle except by the Law of Miracles.”
Tom: Now, Dave, you wouldn’t expect…this just shows how not only subtle but how it moves in certain directions that you wouldn’t expect, and it touches and affects people that you wouldn’t expect. No one that I know would say, “Oh, certainly Pat Robertson is a part of the whole Word-Faith teaching.” But he has written more extensively about these laws —I won’t say than most of these guys, but he has written extensively about it. So, you’d have to put him in that category not based on your opinion or my opinion but just based on his works. Correct?
Dave: Based on what he says. Pat Robertson, for example, says that the Bible is not an “impractical book of theology but it’s a practical book of success, and it gives you techniques for success.
Now, somebody listening will say, “Well, now you’re splitting hairs. I mean, these people are Christians, and what is the point? What does it really matter?”
Well, the Bible puts great emphasis upon faith. It says, “By grace are you saved through faith.” We’re saved by faith. We live by faith. We walk by faith. We’re justified by faith. Everything that we have in Christ is through faith. Now, if we have a false view of faith, then we’re in real trouble.
And when Norman Vincent Peale says, “Positive thinking is just another word for faith”—wait a minute! You can be an atheist and teach positive thinking seminars. Now we are really being led astray. And I hope people will understand we’re not just trying to be critical. What we are doing, Tom, and if not, please, somebody correct us! What we are doing is following what Jude said: “Earnestly contend for the faith, once for all delivered to the saints.” And as soon as we begin to compromise, and we think, “Well, we can manipulate it a little, or we can adjust it, or….” Someone said it like this: “It’s certainly legitimate if you take the unchangeable truth of the Word of God and put it in modern language so that a modern person can understand it,” okay, I have no objection to that. But if you take the latest ideas of the world, or much less, the occult, these mind-manipulating techniques of the New Age, of the Human Potential Movement, and you dress them up in biblical language, and you pass this off as Christianity, you are literally taking people to hell who imagine that they’re on their way to heaven.
And that is why the Bible says, “The faith was once delivered to the saints.” And we must earnestly contend for it, not because we’re narrow-minded, dogmatic fundamentalists and we just like to disagree with people, but because the eternal destiny of souls hangs in the balance.
Dave: That’s what we’re concerned about.
Tom: And those who do know the Lord—I mean, really know the Lord but fall into this, are seduced into it—their whole view of God has to be changed. If the methodology relates to their Creator, to their God, and the methodology of how they relate to Him is bogus—is really wrong—their view of God is going to be wrong. When these things begin to break down and don’t work as they had hoped, their view of God changes. So for a true believer, at the very least their walk of faith, their relationship with the Lord, is going to be altered to, I think, to a point of maybe having their faith shipwrecked—maybe destroying their faith.
Dave: Well, Jesus said in John:17:3: “This is life eternal.” Now we want to know what life eternal is. It’s a big difference between having life eternal and being lost eternally. And Jesus said, “This…” (these are not my words), “This is life eternal: that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” It would be a horrible thing to stand before the Lord one day and He says, “I never knew you.”
So if you have a false God, even a false concept of God, you’re detracting from the truth about God. You are substituting…this is called “idolatry.” Whatever kind of an idol you want to make, or even if you just make it in your mind—you don’t have to form it out of wood and clay—whatever this false god is, this is a false god!
So, John, for example, in his first epistle, chapter 5, he says, “We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding, that we might know the true God, that we might know Him who is true.” He says, “This is the true God, Jesus Christ. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
So if we have a false concept of God, and I’m not trying to name names to say, “Oh, this person must not be a Christian then, or his whole ministry is out.” I’m not saying that everything he’s done is wrong. But when Robert Schuller, for example, says the greatest power in the world is Possibility Thinking, what happened to God?? What are we talking about? And where…or when we liken God to some kind of a force, like the Star Wars force, well that’s a very popular idea, because a force, being impersonal, isn’t going to hassle me with morals. The personal God of the Bible, He calls us to Himself, and there are conditions for our knowing Him and walking with Him. We have to embrace Him as He is, not some false idea of God.
“Well, just so long as you believe in some Higher Power.”
No! God is not a higher power. He is a personal God who has revealed Himself in the Person and in the work upon the Cross of Jesus Christ to redeem us from our sins. So as soon as I begin to use other terms that are popular in the world, that are understood in the world, like a “force,” a “higher power,” and so forth, then I’m no longer talking about the true God. And I must be very, very careful about this, and this is what we were contending for, and we felt that we’d call it The Seduction of Christianity because it wasn’t that somebody was blatantly going about destroying Christianity. No! They were seducing people. Maybe they had been seduced themselves with false ideas that they thought were biblical, but when you measure it up with the Bible, it doesn’t stand the test.
Tom: Right. And that’s our heart here in this program, Search the Scriptures. We want people to check things out just as the Bereans did, Acts:17:11, and that’s our encouragement. Now, we’re going to pick up on this next week, Dave, continue to revisit The Seduction of Christianity, but our encouragement to our listeners is to have a heart for God’s Word, to check things out. This is what God wants. He wants you to know Him through His Word.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer many useful resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, OR, 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for listening, and we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 27/7.