Dave and Tom continue with part two of their discussion on The Seduction of Christianity from the TBC archives.
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 continue our presentation of 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 Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. In this our second radio program of Search the Scriptures, we’re revisiting a book Dave Hunt and I coauthored 15 years ago titled The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days. Now, Dave, one of the things that surprises me today is that the book continues to be controversial. You know, as a young writer then, I was really privileged to help you with it. I’m sure I thought that the book would turn things around. Silly me, huh? Things are actually worse than ever, but that’s what the Scriptures indicate, isn’t it?
Dave: Mm-hmm. Afraid so. Last days--dangerous times will come. “Men will be lovers of themselves,” and we’ve talked a lot about self-love. But Jesus Himself, you know, in Luke:18:8, He said, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find the faith upon the earth?”
Dave: It doesn’t sound like things are going to be very encouraging. It doesn’t sound like we’re going to have a great Last Days revival like we hear a lot about, and I would be, certainly, thrilled if that were the case. But Paul said, “Don’t let anybody,” just to put it in our modern language, “don’t let anybody sweet talk you with this idea of a last days great revival. That day,” that is, the Day of the Lord, “will not come except there come the falling away, the apostasy, first.”
So, yes, unfortunately, it has gotten considerably worse, and I don’t know how bad the apostasy has to get.
Tom: Well, you know, I agree. You know, as I said, as a young writer back then—really, a young believer—I didn’t really understand the Scriptures, and I thought, you know, again, this was as bad as it’s going to get, I guess because I was so involved in researching so much of this information that I just—I couldn’t see it. But it has, and it’s…but it shouldn’t be surprising.
Let me quote you from Acts:20:29-31. This is the Apostle Paul: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Therefore, watch and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Now, that’s stunning from this perspective: Paul didn’t have to deal with Christian media, with unchecked doctrines, heresies, coming at you every which way all the time. Yet look at his heart here, that “by the space of three years, he ceased not to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
Dave: Sounds like a fanatic.
Tom: More fanatical than you, Dave. [laughs]
Dave: Right. But obviously he wasn’t, and I often quote that and say, “You know, I haven’t even begun to be concerned compared with Paul.” Now, one of the things that I think is most needed in the church, and maybe that’s why after the initial excitement about--you know, a lot of people caught the message of The Seduction of Christianity. We got thousands of letters. “Wow! I knew there was something wrong. I didn’t know what it was; you’ve explained it.”
There were pastors who warned their flock, “Don’t you dare…” I mean, they not only warned them, they old them not to read--this was a forbidden book, and people read it, sometimes because it was forbidden, unfortunately. Some of those pastors lost their church because people just left. They realized that what this man was teaching them, who was their pastor, was not according to the Word of God, and, in fact, that it was contrary to the Word of God, although he had been manipulating the Scriptures to make it seem that this is what was being taught.
But after the initial excitement, you could say, a lot of people awakened. We got letters from many people: “You delivered me from this cult or that occult idea and false idea. We came to Christ,” many of them, “through reading this.”
I’d say it settled down to kind of a complaint, and that was, “You’re too negative. Why don’t you be positive and just give uplifting teaching?” And I think I give a lot of uplifting teaching, if people follow me around.
I think that--and I get this from Scripture--that one of the greatest, if not the greatest need, certainly one of the greatest needs in the church today is correction. The Bible--Paul says that Scripture is given correction. And if you would read the prophets--I mean, was Jeremiah positive, you know? Why didn’t Jeremiah encourage the Jewish people more? He had first of all to indict them with their sin, with their error, their waywardness from God and from His Word, and to try to bring them back to God.
What about the prophets? What about Jesus? He was very gentle with the woman at the well, very loving and kind, although He did bring her sin before her, and brought her to repentance. But when He dealt with the religious leaders, the rabbis, He was very sharp with them. You could say He left them bleeding from every pore. He just cut them to ribbons, even His own disciples sometimes, because they didn’t heed the Scriptures. On the road to Emmaus, for example, those two, He called them fools! He could just as well have said, “You idiots! Why didn’t you pay attention to what the prophets have spoken?”
So I believe, and Paul writes [in] 2 Timothy:3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, or to be used for, doctrine…” you don’t hear too much doctrine today. It’s all experiences. “Let’s have some miracle. Let’s touch people and see them fall over or whatnot.” I’m not opposed to miracles, but they must come from God and they must be genuine, not just something we just work up in order to excite people.
But he says, “The Scripture is given for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness.” And in the next chapter, when he says to Timothy, “Preach the Word,” he didn’t say, “Preach the Word. Be positive! Build up their self-esteem! Make them feel good about themselves!” But he says, “Preach the Word. Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
So if I’m going to preach the Word, most of the epistles were written to bring correction, were they not? So if I’m going to preach the Word, I’m going to have to be ready to bring reproof, to bring correction. And, Tom, I used to…
Tom: And, Dave, just let me interject this: these are not your own ideas. I mean, we are simply being obedient to the Scriptures, which we’re encouraging everyone else to be. Why? Because we can right and somebody else wrong?
Tom: No! It’s for their edification, isn’t it? For their growth, for their encouragement in the things of God, not the things of men, or the things that even seem to be of God but really have no biblical basis.
Dave: Right. You know, Tom, I used to be in the business world, and I’ve had hundreds of employees, and I can tell you that if a person, as I evaluate this person, I’m wasting my time trying to correct them, you know? It’s just useless. Fire them, because there’s nothing you can do. Solomon said, “A word to the wise is sufficient. Rebuke a wise man, and he will be yet wiser. But you can grind a fool in a mortar and pestle. His foolishness won’t depart.”
But if I find a person, an employee, that I feel has some real potential, and their heart is right, they want to do what’s right, they need some instruction, then you instruct them. Jesus Himself said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” But we live in a day when to rebuke and—wow, to chasten; you wouldn’t dare chasten your children—don’t let anybody see you, you know, being too stern with your children in public, in a restaurant. They’ll take them away from you. You’re guilty of child abuse. Nobody wants to rebuke anyone for anything. Let’s just build up their self-esteem and help them feel good about themselves. That’s not what the Bible says.
So if I’m going to conscientiously stick to the Word of God, and I’m going to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, who said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten,” then I must be willing to be rebuked myself. Please, you know, we have listeners out there, [if] you think that what we’re saying is not biblical, please let us know! We would be fools not to want to be corrected.
Dave: I must be willing to be corrected myself. On the other hand, I can’t be so desirous of not offending anyone that I’m afraid to say anything that might be counter to what somebody believes. I’m afraid to reprove anyone or say anything is wrong, because I want to be—you know, have everybody be my friend and just pat me on the back—no. I’ve got to be sensitive to criticism, but I must be certain that it is valid criticism from the Word of God, and this is why we call our ministry The Berean Call. The Bereans checked Paul out from the Word of God.
Tom: And they were commended for doing so.
Dave: Absolutely! So I think we should be checked out, but I also think Kenneth Copeland and Hagin, or Billy Graham, or the pope in Rome, or whoever you want to name. They should all be checked out.
Tom: But you’re naming people. I mean, some people take offense at that. Why can’t we just deal with the doctrine or the teaching itself?
Dave: Well, Tom, there’s a number of reasons, okay? First of all, well, Matthew 18 says: “If your brother offend you, go to him.” You know. I haven’t been offended! I’m not offended by what Robert Schuller teaches…
Tom: Well, we’re offended, but we’re not personally offended. This is not personal sin against us.
Dave: Exactly. Tom, I am offended for the Lord, but it’s not a personal thing, although some of them have said some personal things. But nevertheless, that’s not what we’re addressing. What we’re addressing is publicly taught--publicly taught error, at least in our opinion--that doesn’t square with the Scriptures. Therefore, the only way you can correct it--and you know, we have sat down in private with some of these people, as many as would allow us to talk with them, and they will say one thing in private but something else in public.
Tom: That’s been the case, yes, time after time.
Dave: I’ll never forget being on a panel with Walter Martin. This was in Denver, and this was at a cult conference. On the panel, I mentioned--I think somebody asked something about Robert Schuller, and I mentioned that Robert Schuller had gone to Lee’s Summit, Missouri, Unity School of Christianity, one of the worst cults out there. They deny everything in the Bible; they’re into yoga and hypnosis and the New Age, deny the gospel of Jesus Christ--that Robert Schuller went there not to correct them but to commend them and to share his church growth principles with this horrible cult. And in the question-answer time, one of them asked, “Well, what’s the function of a minister in this New Age in which we’re all a part?” they said. We quoted this in Seduction of Christianity, as you recall. And Robert Schuller, he didn’t skip a beat, he didn’t deny he was part of the New Age, he said, “Well, what we have to do is positivize religion.” And he said, “Now, that’s easy for you, being unity ministers in training. You’re already very positive. But you understand I deal with people you would call ‘fundamentalists,’ and they use terms like ‘sin’ and ‘guilt,’ ‘repentance’ and ‘redemption.’
What we have to do is positivize this.”
And Walter Martin was sitting next to me, he said, “Dave, I don’t want to hear you say that again about Robert Schuller, because I went to him privately about this…” I mean, he had--Robert Schuller, for example, had dedicated a Unity temple in Warren, Michigan, in spite of the Baptist pastor writing to him and telling him how horrible Unity is and he shouldn’t do it and so forth.
Anyway, Walter Martin said, “Dave, I don’t want to hear you say that again about Robert Schuller, because I’ve gone to him personally about this in private, and he’s agreed that he’s not going to be involved with Unity anymore. Now he understands how bad it is.”
“Well,” I said to Walter, “okay. If that’s what he says…” A few months later, I’m driving in my car, and I turn on the Bible Answer Man. It’s Walter Martin telling how Robert Schuller is back with Unity, speaking at their functions and so forth, and Walter Martin says, “And now, he won’t return my phone calls, and he won’t answer my letters.”
So this is an experience that we’ve had. You talk to someone in private, but it doesn’t benefit people out there who have been publicly taught things.
[chuckling] Now, furthermore, Tom—look. If I said something publicly, why should you have to rebuke me privately? If I’ve said something wrong that has led people astray, why wouldn’t I be willing to acknowledge this? I mean, if I have publicly taught something wrong, then by God’s grace, let me have the grace to admit it publicly and to the benefit of those that I have led astray!
Tom: Right, to do something about it, to change what you’ve written, to correct an error that you’ve promoted.
Dave: And furthermore, Tom if these men that we’re quoting and we only quote—and I’m not going to, you know, grouse about it, but we’ve had so many--maybe I’ve had more than you--I’ve had so many bad reviews of books, so many statements made about me without any documentation. We don’t make those kinds of statements. We simply quote what people say, and what they have said publicly on the radio, or in their books, or on TV. Now, if they really believe what they’ve said publicly, then they should be happy that we quote them, because we’re just giving broader distribution to what they have said. Now, if they’re ashamed to be quoted, which I don’t understand, then maybe they have something to apologize for to the people to whom they have said these things, and that’s…Look, we’re concerned for truth; we’re concerned for the Word of God, for the integrity of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes it.” And if you play games with the gospel, and you present a false gospel, you compromise, you pervert or corrupt the Word of God, then you’re in a dangerous business. And furthermore, you are endangering souls for eternity, and that is our only concern.
And look, if we wanted to be popular, we could take a different tack. I could tickle people’s ears. What I’m thinking of is eternity, and one day, all that matters: What is God going to say to me? And I will be held accountable for the people to whom I have given a false gospel.
Tom: Yeah. You know, Dave, the objections to this from…particularly from evangelicals, it’s kind of shocking, because there are so many examples--most of the epistles were written for correction, or a large part of what’s found in the epistles are written for correction. And we have the example of the Apostle Paul confronting the Apostle Peter, you know, to his face before them all. And then we have Peter, not later saying, “Well, Paul just ruined my ministry. I mean, you know, he caused my donations to fall off, and so on and so forth.” That doesn’t happen, because Peter recognizes where he did drift away from what God would have him do, and that correction, you know, he talks about his beloved Paul. That’s what Christianity needs, not this sort of false sense of ecumenism and kind of a sort of political or theological correctness, not to offend or whatever. No, we just have to do what God’s Word tells us to do. Paul says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Do the things—you know, we’re not making it up. We’re just trying to be obedient and conform to what God has laid out there through His prophets to do.
Dave: Right, in His Word. I’ve been accused of causing division, and people say, “Well, Romans:16:17 says, ‘Mark them that cause division among you and avoid them.’” And I say, “No, that’s not what it says. Why don’t you go back and read it again.” It says, “Mark them which cause division among you contrary to the doctrine you have received and avoid them.” You don’t cause division by standing for the truth, for sound doctrine; you cause division by introducing false doctrine and refusing to be corrected. Division comes as a natural consequence of something.
Everywhere Christ went, and you read it four times in the Gospel of John, it says there was a division among the Jews because of Him. Division comes because of the consequences of certain things. Number 1: There is a distinction between the truth of God and the lie of Satan. Oh, let’s not call it the lie of Satan. Let’s be a little more positive about it. Let’s just call it humanistic ideas of man. But they’re still as bad. As long as--Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me,” that made a clear line of distinction, and if you did not accept that, you were opposed to Him, therefore there was a division.
The division existed simply because the truth is inflexible. Jesus Christ is inflexible. The Christians were the same thing. The Romans were very broadminded. They had a lot of gods. Remember on Mars Hill in Greece, for example, the whole Roman Empire was full of gods, and if the Christians had simply said, “Well, Jesus is just another way. There are a lot of ways,” they would have never been thrown to the lions. And if Jesus had just tried to be positive and be ecumenical and work together with the rabbis and with everybody else and say, “Well, as long as you’re sincere, that’s okay,” He wouldn’t even have been crucified. He could have been very popular. This wasn’t God’s fault; it’s not the fault of Jesus that there was division; it’s the fault of those who refuse to accept the truth!
If we’re standing for the truth, we can’t expect to be popular. We can’t expect that we will not have people who will be upset, who will be angry. What we can expect is this: that there will be those who will recognize that truth matters. You can’t compromise, because one day, God has the final say. And so, look, we’re only trying to stand for the truth of the Word of God, and if what we’re saying is not right, then please tell us, and we will repent. But if what we’re saying is right, then don’t let popularity, personalities, or some other idea influence you for time when what really counts is eternity.
Tom: Right. You know, Dave, this doesn’t relate just to these leading or highly visible Christian leaders, some of which, you know some of whom we’ve been addressing, but it may be something in a Bible study or in a Sunday school where something is taught that you say, “Wait a minute…” You know, it’s not like you have to be a thorn in everybody’s flesh about this, or a nitpicker on every element, but there are some things that are promoted that are not true to God’s Word, and if you have a love for the person teaching--teaching comes with a very heavy responsibility. And for those who are in a study with you, or those who you are associated with, you at least, I would think, have to ask the question, “But wait a minute, brother, can you explain to me where this is in the Scripture so I can better understand it?” I mean, you know, sometimes we’re to speak [the truth in love], and how we go about it is important. But that’s what we’re trying to encourage here.
Tom: Search the Scriptures. Be like the Bereans. Encourage one another “in the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints.”
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 24/7.