Recently I witnessed on television a most tragic and shocking spectacle. On his "Praise the Lord" program before an international audience (most of whom apparently approve or they wouldn't lend their support), the leader of the world's largest Christian TV network vehemently denounced and in fact cursed any who would speak out for sound doctrine or who would seek to correct erroneous teaching. Here is a brief excerpt from that astonishing outburst:
...that old rotten Sanhedrin crowd, twice dead, plucked up by the roots...they're damned and on their way to hell and I don't think there's any redemption for them...the hypocrites, the heresy hunters that want to find a little mote of illegal doctrine in some Christian's eyes...when they've got a whole forest in their own lives....
I say, "To hell with you! Get out of my life! Get out of the way! Quit blocking God's bridges! I'm tired of this!...This is in my spirit. Oh, hallelujah!"...
Have you ever seen the old movie, Patton?...He's my hero, he's my hero. Old nail-chewin', tobacco-chewin', cussin' Patton—but he read the Bible every day. I have a feeling we'll see old General George in heaven....
There's a wonderful scene in Patton ...they're trying to get the Third Army across the bridge in France and there's an old, dumb jackass—donkey—right there on the bridge and it's blocking the whole convoy of troops...General George roars up, pulls that ivory-handled revolver out...and he shoots the donkey....
There's a spiritual application here....I want to say to all you scribes, pharisees, heresy hunters, all of you that are going around picking little bits of doctrinal error out of everybody's eyes and dividing the Body of Christ...get out of God's way, stop blocking God's bridges...or God's going to shoot you if I don't...let Him sort out all this doctrinal doodoo!
I don't care about your doctrines as long as you name the name of Jesus, as long as you believe He died dead [sic] and was buried but came out of the tomb on Sunday morning and ascended to the Father...I don't care about anything else! Let's join hands...to get this gospel preached in all the world....
The rest of this stuff is what Paul the Apostle calls dung—human excrement! It's not worth anything! Get rid of it...and get on with winning the lost....
I refuse to argue any longer with any of you out there! Don't even call me if you want to argue doctrine, if you want to straighten somebody out...criticize Ken Copeland...or Dad Hagin. Get out of my life! I don't even want to talk to you...I don't want to see your ugly face!
Appalling as this performance was, it is necessary to recognize and confront the rationale, however emotional and perverted, behind the outburst. Indeed we would agree that zeal to evangelize the world is commendable and commanded—but with what gospel? By denouncing sound doctrine as unimportant and unrelated to the gospel, most of the New Testament was renounced. Is it not a compendium of doctrinal truth? The doctrinal correction that was so vehemently cursed is the very essence of Paul's epistles. In fact, Paul declared that all of Scripture is intended for "doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim:3:16). He told Timothy to "reprove, rebuke, exhort with...doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Tim:4:2-3). Apparently that time is now upon us!
Must we now denounce Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, et al. as "heresy hunters"? Has the Reformation been relegated to the trash heap of historical follies for its opposition to Rome's heresies? In their integrity before God to stand firm for "the truth of the gospel" (Col:1:5), millions of martyrs died to give us the religious freedoms we now enjoy. Were it not for God's grace and their concern for what TBN's leader blasphemously referred to as "doctrinal doodoo," wewould all be followers of Rome today, blinded and damned by a false gospel. Such is the importance of standing firm for sound doctrine! It is biblical doctrine that guards the gospel from perversion and guides our lives!
We ought to obey Christ's command to go "into all the world, and preach the gospel" (Mk 16:15) because we love the lost and have a passion for their salvation. The gospel is "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth [it]" (Rom:1:16). First Corinthians 1:21 confirms that believing the gospel is what saves: "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." The Apostle Paul explained the gospel that we must believe to be saved: "how that Christ died for our sins...and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day" (1 Cor:15:3). There are those, however, who, while seemingly professing this simple truth, pervert it with additions and false interpretations.
The Bible makes clear that we are saved by believing the true gospel—and that anything less or more cannot save. False gospels abound. Take, for example, just one of the heresies taught by Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. On February 19, 1991, CRI's Hank Hanegraaff explained this perverse teaching to the head of TBN on his "Praise the Lord" program, but it was dismissed as of no consequence. It is the teaching that the shedding of Christ's blood upon the cross did not effect our redemption. That although Christ cried in triumph, "It is finished!" it was not finished. That although He said, "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit," He came into the hands of Satan who carried our Lord into hell and there tortured Him three days and three nights, thereby accomplishing our redemption. If Satan didn't torture Christ enough, are we not saved? If he did, do we thank him for the vital role he played in our redemption? What blasphemy!
On the contrary, the Bible always links redemption with what happened on the Cross. It is never implied, much less taught, that redemption took place in hell—nor that our salvation is secured by baptism, Mary's intercession, the Mass or our suffering in purgatory. Paul declared that he would glory in nothing except "the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal:6:14). We are told that Christ "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians:2:8). There is no hint that he also died spiritually in hell at the hands of Satan, as the faith teachers heretically claim.
We have "redemption through his blood" (Eph:1:7; Col:1:14) and not by reason of tortures which Satan allegedly inflicted upon Christ. His blood was shed on the cross, not in hell, and it is explicitly stated that He "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Col:1:20). Throughout eternity, the song of the redeemed in heaven will forever be to Him "that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Rev:1:5). Yet Copeland teaches a false gospel: "When His blood poured out, it did not atone..."!
Heresy perverts the gospel. Can one believe both a true and a false gospel at the same time? Does not the false belief negate the true gospel it contradicts and thus damn those who believe it? Why else would Paul write his corrective epistles and argue so earnestly against false doctrine if it made no difference? And why else would Jude exhort us to "earnestly contend for the faith once [for all] delivered to the saints" if any "faith" will do?
One false doctrine in the early church (and it persists today) was that in addition to faith in Christ one must also keep the law of Moses. That error caused even apostles such as James and Peter to revert to traditional Jewish separation from Gentile Christians. Was such false doctrine to be ignored since these men preached that Christ died for our sins? No, for they had perverted that truth. The Apostle Paul (a "heresy hunter") said that these Judaizers "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel" (Gal:2:14). He called this mingling of works with grace "another gospel" and cursed anyone who preached it (Gal:1:8-9). Declaring that he was "set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians:1:17), Paul publicly rebuked Peter for supporting false doctrine—and he did so that "the truth of the gospel might continue" (Gal:2:5).
To those who believed on Him Jesus said, "if ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn:8:31-32). Biblical evangelism leads converts into obedience to the whole truth. Christ promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would indwell and lead them "into all truth." Surely "all truth" includes all doctrine. What is its value? Sound doctrine, which TBN scorns, defines and upholds the gospel. False doctrine perverts it.
Satan persuades multitudes to reject the gospel. But he sends far more to hell by deluding them with a false gospel which acknowledges that Christ did indeed die for our sins—then adds to that truth the heresy that in addition to what Christ suffered we must also suffer and work for our salvation. Such a false gospel of works is taught by every cult, and none has made it so appealing as the Roman Catholic Church, as we have previously documented.
When Pope John Paul II designated the last decade of this century for "world evangelization," John Wimber, who has been featured on the cover of New Covenant, the major Catholic charismatic magazine, responded," [This is] one of the greatest things that has ever happened in the history of the Church....I am thrilled with the Pope and glad that he is calling the Church to this goal, to this work." Would those martyred by Rome be thrilled to know that evangelicals are now supporting her false gospel?
During the course of his tirade, TBN's founder condemned to hell those who disapprove of heresy and would correct it. Yet he admits to heaven those who teach heresy, including even a godless, cursing Patton who thought he was the reincarnation of some famous warrior from the past. And he arrogantly bans from TBN (as though he owns the network God's people have purchased with their gifts!) the much needed doctrinal correction that Jesus and Paul insisted upon and to which most of the New Testament is devoted. Tragically, a similar attitude characterizes increasing numbers of today's evangelical leaders.
Sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association at a cost of $21 million, more than 10,000 Christian leaders met at Amsterdam in 1986 to plan a strategy for evangelizing the world. In the concluding press conference, a reporter asked,"Dr. Graham, do you see the preaching of the gospel as a unifying force in Christianity today...?" His ecumenical response was disturbing:
If you have some other theological word, then there is great division, but there's...no debate over the fact that we need to evangelize....there is an ecumenicity here that cannot [be gotten] under any other umbrella.
Again we ask, "Evangelize with what gospel?" Leighton Ford declared, "Preach the Gospel but don't be so negative as to refuse to endorse or work with those who belong to a group that proclaims a different Gospel." He praised Mother Teresa, whom he had recently visited in Calcutta, though she constantly prays the rosary for her own salvation and considers Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and other religions to be acceptable ways to God, thus making Jesus a liar for declaring, "I am the way...no man comes to the Father but by me."
In his seminar on "Follow Up," Ian Grant, New Zealand director of Youth for Christ, said, "We make no judgment of churches—that's the Holy Spirit's job. Young Christians can be more led into Bible reading and faith in a Catholic charismatic church than in some conservative evangelical churches." Bill Bright spoke of the "great work of God" in both the Roman Catholic and Protestant fellowships...." Foundation editor M. H. Reynolds asked Bright "how he could Scripturally justify...having Roman Catholics on staff and working with them in evangelism," to which he replied, "I can work with anyone who calls Jesus Lord."
Yet Jesus himself warned that He would one day say to many who called Him "Lord"—"I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Mat:7:21-23). How can Christian leaders err so badly on something so elementary?!
Mormons, Moonies, and many other cult members "call Jesus Lord." What they mean by that confession, however, is entirely different from what evangelicals believe. Does it matter? Were the martyrs mistaken in their belief that Roman Catholicism was a false gospel that was damning hundreds of millions of souls? Were they wrong to believe that they would have been lost had they not been rescued from Rome's heresies? Is that not still true today?
In 1985, due to the conversion to Catholicism of one of its longtime professors (Thomas Howard, brother of Elizabeth Elliot), Gordon College's faculty senate investigated Roman Catholicism. The finding was that the college's confession of faith was incompatible with Catholicism. For example, no Catholic could subscribe to the confession that the Bible is "the only infallible guide in faith and practice," or that "salvation is by grace and faith alone without works" (Christianity Today, 9/20/85, p 38). Howard resigned. He has become a featured speaker at Catholic conferences refuting Fundamentalism. And evangelicals join Rome in evangelizing the world? What folly!
While Roman Catholicism teaches that Christ died for our sins and that He was buried and rose again the third day, it adds to that truth the lie that Christ's death was not sufficient to get us to heaven. In addition to the price Christ paid, Catholics must themselves suffer for their own sins—and they, like Christ, can also suffer for the sins of others and thus have a part in their salvation. The chief means of salvation, however, is through the sacraments ministered by the church. One of those sacraments, the Mass, teaches that Christ is re-offered again and again and that new installments of eternal life are repeatedly received by eating the wafer that has been turned into His body. Vatican II clearly denies the sufficiency of Christ's finished work on the cross and declares that our redemption is in the process of being accomplished through the Church's "sacred liturgy." How can someone who believes Rome's heretical perversions of the gospel also really believe the true gospel?
The problem between God and man is sin, man's rebellious attempt to establish himself in God's universe by his own wisdom and good works. The only solution is provided by God, and He has made His offer of reconciliation subject to definite conditions. If we change those terms we have effectively rejected His offer. That is the significance of keeping the gospel pure, of earnestly contending for the faith, of being zealous for sound doctrine. There are numerous false doctrines being taught that destroy the "truth of the gospel" which Paul defended with his life. Ought we not to stand firm for sound doctrine, and for the same reason—that those who believe the false gospels are lost eternally?
How ironic—and tragic—that in their zeal to "evangelize the world" so many of today's Christian leaders turn their backs upon nearly one-fifth of that world! In making peace with the Whore of Babylon they leave in darkness almost 1 billion Catholic victims of a false gospel who desperately need to hear the truth! And by cooperating with Rome to "evangelize" the world, they approve the lies that are damning millions. In our love for Christ and concern for the lost we must do all we can to proclaim the truth to everyone! Let us work together to that end! TBC