Tom: Thanks Gary. In this our second radio program of Search the Scriptures, we are revisiting a book Dave Hunt and I co-authored fifteen 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 who was really privileged to help you with it, I am 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: I’m afraid so. “…Last days, dangerous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves…” and we talked a lot about self love, but Jesus himself in Luke:18:8 said, “When the Son of man returns, shall he find[the] faith on the earth?” It doesn’t sound like things are going to be very encouraging. It doesn’t sound like we are going to have a great last days revival like we hear a lot about. I would be certainly thrilled if that were the case, but Paul said don’t let anybody—just to put it in 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. As I said, as a young writer back then, really a young believer, I didn’t really understand the scriptures and I thought 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 couldn’t see it. But it has and it shouldn’t be surprising.
Let me quote you from Acts:20:29-31,“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock. Also of 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 every one nigh 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 every one night and day with tears.
Dave:Sounds like a fanatic.
Tom:More fanatical than you Dave.
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 Seduction of Christianity and 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 told 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, 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, many of them through reading this. I’d say it settled down to kind of a complaint and that was: “you are too negative.” “Why don’t you be positive and just give uplifting teaching?”
I think I give a lot of uplifting teaching. People follow me around. I think that—and I get this from scripture, that one of the greatest, if not the greatest needs—certainly one of the greatest needs in the church today is correction.
In the Bible, Paul says that scripture is given for correction. And if you would read the prophets—was Jeremiah positive? Why didn’t Jeremiah encourage the Jewish people more? He had first of all to indict them with their sin, 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.
Dave: He could have just as well said you idiots! Why didn’t you pay attention to what the prophets have spoken?
So I believe, and Paul writes, “All scriptures (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 what not. I’m not opposed to miracles, but they must come from God and they must be genuine. Not something we just worked 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 long suffering and doctrine.”
So if I am going to preach the word, most of the epistles were written to bring correction, were they not? So if I am going to preach the Word, I am 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 were encouraging everyone else to be.
Tom: Why? Because we can prove ourselves right and somebody else wrong? No! It’s for their edification isn’t it?
Tom: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 am wasting my time trying to correct them, you know? It’s just useless. Fire them! Because there is nothing you can do. Solomon said a word to the wise is sufficient. You rebuke a wise a man and he will be yet wiser. But you can grind a fool in a mortar and pestle and 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 is 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—wow! To chasten—you wouldn’t dare chasten your children. Don’t let anybody see you being too stern with your children in public, in a restaurant. They’ll take them away from you. You are 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 am 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. You think that what we’re saying is not biblical, please let us know. We would be fools not to want to be corrected.
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 to anything that might be counter to what somebody believes, I’m afraid to reprove anyone or say anything that’s wrong because I want to 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. 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. 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.
Dave: First of all, Matthew 18 says if your brother offend you, go to him. 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.
Dave: Exactly, exactly.
Tom: —Sin against us.
Dave: 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 are addressing is publicly taught, publicly taught error. At least in our opinion. It doesn’t square with the scriptures. Therefore, the only way you can correct it—and you know we’ve 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 Denverand 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 LeSaint, MissouriUnity School of Christianity, one of the worst cults out there. They deny everything in the Bible. They are into yoga and hypnosis and New Age. They 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 and answer time one of them asked, “Well what is the function of a minister in this New Age which we are all apart?” We quoted this in The 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, ministers-in-training. You are already very positive, but you understand I deal with people you would call fundamentalists. 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 and 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 UnityTemplein Warren, Michigan.
Dave: 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 and 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 he return my phone calls and he won’t answer my letters.” So this is the experience we’ve had. You talk to someone in private, but it doesn’t benefit people out there who have been publicly taught things.
Now further more 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 who 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:Furthermore Tom, if these men that we’re quoting and we only quote—and I’m not going grouse about it, but we’ve had so many, but 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 radio and their books, 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’ve 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.
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 are in a dangerous business and furthermore you are endangering souls for eternity. And that is our only concern.
Look, if we wanted to be popular, we could take a different tact. I could tickle people’s ears. What I’m thinking of is eternity. And one day all that matters is 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:Yes, you know Dave, the objections to this particularly from evangelicals is 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 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 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—he talks about his beloved Paul. That’s what Christianity needs. Not this sort of false sense of ecumenism and you know 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. We have to follow. 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.
Dave: I’ve been accused of causing division and people say Romans:16:17says 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 one, there is a distinction between the truth of God and the lie of Satan. Oh let’s not call it a 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, 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 and therefore there was a division. The division that 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.
You remember on Mars Hill in Greecefor example, the whole Roman Empirewas 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 have even been crucified. He could have been very popular. It wasn’t God’s fault; it’s not the fault of Jesus that there’s a division. It’s the fault of those who refuse to accept the truth. If we are 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 try 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’ll 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 that some of whom we have been addressing. But it maybe something in a Bible study or in a Sunday School where something is taught that you say wait a minute. It’s not like you have to be a thorn in everybody’s flesh about this or a nit picker on every element, but there are some things that are promoted that are not true to God’s Word and if you have a person teaching, teaching comes with a very heavy responsibility. And for those who are in a study with you or those you are associated with you at least, I would think, would have to ask the question, “Wait a minute brother, can you explain to me where this is in the scriptures, so I can better understand it?” I mean you know, sometimes we’re to speak to love and truth 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.”