Tom McMahon and guest Keith Gibson, author of Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, discuss the serious issues related to the corruption of young people through these "ministries."
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, Tom continues his discussion with Keith Gibson, author of Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC Executive Director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Our guest this week, also was last week, and I encourage everybody to—one of the things that’s nice about recording these and putting it on our website, the internet, is that, you know, you can go forward, backward, and so on, but find the programs that—particularly our first program in this series, which deals with Keith Gibson and his book Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, and if you listened to last week’s program, you know, I can’t say enough about Keith’s book. The research that he’s done, how important this is for the body of Christ—and we’re going to get into this—how it’s affecting these things like Latter Rain, Joel’s Army, Kansas City Prophets, International House of Prayer, how they are affecting our young people, this upcoming generation, which, sadly, you know, I won’t say all, but most of them are biblically illiterate, which means they have no basis for discerning what they’re being drawn into, and certainly, well, basically, they’re up for grabs.
But Keith’s book, again, for pastors, for parents, you know, we get letters from people who their kids have gone off to the International House of Prayer and it’s transformed them, not in a good way, alienated them from their parents, almost like a cult, like many of the cults do. But certainly Keith’s book—again, the title is Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets. The title Wandering Stars comes out of Jude 13, where these false teachers are characterized as “raging waves of sea, foaming out of their own shame; wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
So, Keith, thanks for joining us again as we go over your very important book.
Keith: Well, I appreciate it, Tom. It’s a privilege to be with you.
Tom: Last week, we talked about hermeneutics, and I know some people, maybe this is the first time they’ve heard that term, but could you just give us, because it’s so critical and important—to what? To how we go about reading the Bible. Now, this isn’t some methodology or technique. These are just commonsense things that have been lost for many people who read the Bible, but they’ve lost the value of hermeneutics because maybe they’re not thinking about what it is, but it’s simply context—reading something in context—understanding the grammar—how grammar is used—the historical context certainly is important, and it’s a matter of, as we said last week, it’s the way we think, it’s the way we talk, the grammatical part. If you could put together a sentence and you can communicate, you’re involved in hermeneutics.
Now, Keith, just give us a little bit more insight into that, and what I’m trying to set up here is if you don’t have that, if you don’t consider hermeneutics, you’re going to be in trouble in terms of not only what somebody else is telling you about the Bible, but how you’re going to understand it.
Keith: Right. You can’t understand the Bible if your approach to it is simply piecemeal, pull a verse out here, “how does that make me feel, what do I feel about that, what do I think about that”—that’s not how the Bible is written, it’s not how the Bible is given to us. There’s an old pastor’s joke that a lot of people have probably heard of a man who flipped a Bible open, put his finger at a verse, and it said, “And Judas went out and hung himself,” and he said, “Oh, my goodness!” And then he said, “That’s not good.” He flipped around for another verse and he put his finger there and it said, “Go thou and do likewise.”
“This is terrible!” and he flips one more time and it says, “What thou doest, do quickly.”
And, of course, that’s a ridiculous illustration, but it’s amazing how many people approach the Bible almost that way, where we just grab hold of a verse and it doesn’t matter, you know, what the context is, the paragraph that it’s in, the book that it’s in, the flow of thought—we don’t even care about those things, and there are entire doctrines built around that that are very prominent in the body of Christ that are just utterly unbiblical and diverting people into error, because they simply don’t know how to properly handle God’s Word. And I blame pastors, by the way; we’re not teaching them.
Tom: Right. As we mentioned last week, this is important. It’s critical, because it’s moving away from the objective Word of God. As I mentioned, we have God’s direct communication to mankind, and as we talked about last week, the important thing is trying to figure out the intent of the author. You said earlier, “Well, how do I feel about it?” Well, forget how you feel about it. What does the author want you to know about it? I’ll give you an example: five of us are going over some verses of Scripture, you know, we’re reading the Scripture through. And we come to this verse, and four of [the] people that I’m in the group with, they give their interpretation of the Scripture, their understanding of the Scripture, and I say, “No, I don’t agree with that. Here’s what I think.”
And they say, “Wait a minute, Tom, hold on: what do you think the context is here?” And of course, as you mentioned last week, you look at the context, the verses before, the verses afterward, so you get the context of what the verse is saying. And so they asked me about the context, and I get into that, and they said, “Well, wait a minute, that may be your problem: that’s not the context.”
And then I look at it and I say, “Oh, yeah, you’re right. I missed that.” Or it may be that the meaning of the words, I’ve got that wrong. Or it may be grammatically I’ve got a wrong idea of the antecedent out of place and so on.
Now, the point is, is that, unless I’m just so prideful and have got my heels dug in, they can convince me objectively—bring me back to what the Word of God says, right?
Tom: Now, on the other hand, let’s take those who are into spiritualizing or using allegory, and there are five of us, okay? Now, first of all as we’re talking about—I’ll take myself out of the picture, because I’m not going to go there—but of the five people who are allegorizing or spiritualizing it, there’s no objective basis, because they’re going to say, “Well, this is the way I feel about that verse, and I feel that it’s saying to me…this is what it’s saying to me.” If two of them were on the same page with the verse, that would be surprising, but basically, there’s no objective way to convince them what the verse actually says. And what I’m leading up to here, Keith, which I’d like you to take off on, is the so-called prophetic hermeneutic. Now, you write about that in your book. What do you mean by that?
Keith: Right. The “prophetic hermeneutic” is a phrase that I coined so that I could define it. It’s the “prophet’s approach” to the Bible, where basically the Bible means whatever the “prophet” claims the Holy Spirit has inspired him to believe about that verse at that particular moment, and so context, grammar, word meanings, type of literature, intent of the author—those are all irrelevant, and so God’s Word means whatever I say it means today, and you’re just supposed to act on it, because I’m the prophet and you’re not. And so, you have the most ludicrous interpretations, where a verse as simple as Matthew:8:20 where Jesus says to the man, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” and a prophet can amazingly say, “Now, I think when Jesus said that, He was talking about us, and He was talking about us because the Holy Spirit hadn’t been poured out yet, and so the church hadn’t been formed, and Jesus didn’t have a body in which to dwell.” That’s crazy. The verse is clearly telling a man about the hardship that he needs to be prepared to endure as a follower of Jesus Christ, but the prophet can take whatever tangent he wants, and in some cases, we see them interpreting the verse to mean even the exact opposite of what the verse in context is actually saying, and it becomes the undergirding for then all of the weird doctrines of this movement.
Tom: Right, which we’re going to touch upon a bit later. Let me give you a personal example. I was on a flight to Russia, and I was sitting next to this lady, and actually, she was from Bend—Bend, Oregon, where I’m speaking from—and she said that she just heard an Islamic cleric at the local college and how wonderful it was, and how she was understanding from his perspective how Islam is peace. And so I said, “Well, you know, that’s interesting. I have read the Qur’an a couple of times at least, and I don’t find that in the Qur’an.”
Well, her response was, “Well, you know, it’s like the Bible. You can make it say anything you want.”
And so I said, “Let me just run something by you: let’s say I invited you over to my house for a spaghetti dinner, and I used a Betty Crocker cookbook. And I served up a plate, and you took a look at your plate, and you said, ‘What are those white things with the noodles, in the spaghetti noodles?’ And I said, ‘Well, those are marshmallows.’”
“Why would you put marshmallows in?”
I said, “Well, I know Betty Crocker would like it to be meatballs, but meatballs, marshmallows, you know, I can make Betty Crocker’s cookbook say anything I want it to. But you’re not going to like the results.”
You know what she said? She said, “I perceive some hostility in you.” [laughs] Okay? I tried to be as kind as I could, but I said, “Look…” she was actually a psychotherapist, which might give you an idea of why she was going that way, but I said, “In your office, did you sign a contract?”
She said, “Yes, to rent the office space.”
I said, “Well, can you make that contract say anything that you want it to say?” Well, guess what, she just stuck her nose in her magazine and that was the last of the conversation that we had. But the point is when you pull back and take a look at this, it is ludicrous, as you’ve been pointing out. We don’t go about things that way except arbitrarily—not arbitrarily, but if we’ve got an agenda, if we want to make something work, if we want to impose something on…but for people not to be discerning, for people not to think through this, is really tragic.
Keith: No, that’s absolutely true. We treat the Bible with less dignity than we give to any other document, because any other time that we read the newspaper or a recipe book or anything else, we’re looking for what did the author intend to say, but for some reason when we come to the Bible, that doesn’t matter any longer. And so, we really afford the Word of God less dignity than we would give to any human document that we read today.
Tom: Exactly. Now, well, as I said, the results of something like that, whether it be marshmallows in your spaghetti or something worse, we can look to the manifestations based on all this that we’ve been talking about. You’ve got people falling and writhing on the floor—I’m talking about Lakeland with Todd Bentley…this is the theater of the absurd. How could they possibly accept—again, uncontrollable shaking, hysterical laughing, making various animal sounds, writhing around on the floor—as a work of the Holy Spirit?
Keith: Right. Well, the answer to that is exactly what we’ve been talking about: there’s no grid for discerning truth and error. You pull a few verses out of context, [say] that God’s doing a new thing, this is the new wine and it can’t be put in new wine skins, and immediately now you’ve got a superstructure for supporting any doctrine or bizarre behavior that you want, and the manifestations of this in the extreme are that we have people having marriage ceremonies where they get married to Jesus. We have people engaged in now—spiritual drunkenness went passé—so now we have “toking” the Holy Ghost, where people push their fingers together like they’re holding a marijuana cigarette and inhale and then begin to act stoned, and all of these things can be supported with a few verses out of context if one doesn’t care about the real intent of Scripture.
Tom: Mm-hmm. So, Keith, one of the things that I loved about your book, some of the things that you presented in conclusion, a summary, a wrap-up, which I’m just going to quote you: “So what can we conclude after this brief survey of the attitudes and words of the modern apostles and prophets concerning the Scripture? One would have to conclude that the Bible alone is an insufficient guide for the end time church. New doctrines not found in the Bible are needed to perfect the church. Scripture is generally inspiring, but basically unreliable. It is insufficient to convince the world of God’s truth. It does not provide the perimeters to faith and practice, and does not give us the norms of the activity of the Holy Spirit. The canon of Scripture is not closed, and, in fact, many of the words of today’s prophets carry a higher level of revelation, anointing, and authority than some of the words of Scripture. And lastly, the Bible cannot be understood by any normal means. Grammar, history, and context are completely irrelevant. The words of Scripture can be redefined and ripped out of context to discover the deeper meaning for today’s church. There is no objective interpretation or understanding of Scripture. The Bible means whatever one wants it to mean.”
Now, Keith, in this day, we know we’re in—I mean, the apostasy is just raging around us, and those who buy into this have become completely vulnerable. As you mentioned earlier, [they’re] dependent upon these individuals, and they’re without a hope or a prayer, because they have left the Word of God, the truth of God’s Word.
Keith: Right, and they’ve left what is—stood the test of time, and God’s revelation of Himself for spiritual porridge of these men who are unreliable and words that contain multiple errors. It’s a tragic trade that people have made, and it’s completely devastating to their spiritual life.
Tom: Right. So when these guys stand up and say, “God is restoring all things. He’s going beyond the revelation of Scripture which we know,” really, this is kingdom dominionism. This is taking over the world. You know, I think back of individuals like Earl Paulk who were really a part of the “kingdom now” movement, and God is…or Jesus is held in the heavenlies until we restore the earth to a paradise. What a delusion! Simple understanding of Scripture knows that the next kingdom to come will be the kingdom of the Antichrist. The Rapture takes place, and then the Antichrist takes over for a period of seven years. I mean, that’s what the Scriptures teach. It’s very plain. Yet these people, because they are buying into this new revelation, this restoration revelation, they are setting themselves up unwittingly—I don’t know [that] anybody wittingly wants to work for the kingdom of the Antichrist. That would be amazing—but I’m talking about those who profess to be Christians, but they are setting themselves up to really contribute to the kingdom of the Antichrist. Wouldn’t you say that’s the case?
Keith: Yes, I would. I think one of the keys of that is this idea that “we’re going to be so great, we’re going to be so powerful, we have to take over all seven areas of society,” and by that they mean, you know, family, government, the arts, business, etc. And the idea that…the cross, the message of the Gospel, is crucifying to the flesh. This message of these apostles, the new apostles and prophets, is flesh-exalting. It is man-exalting, and isn’t that exactly what Satan’s kingdom has always been about, that “I will be like the Most High”? And so, to me, the lie just keeps getting repackaged that you’re going to be like God. And this is just one more manifestation of the old lie.
Tom: Right. I have a real heart concern, the Lord’s really put this on my heart, for the upcoming generation. I recognize that although there are some who read the Bible, in terms of discernment, they’ve basically been brought up on entertainment. Try and find discipleship anywhere in the churches today; it would be a rare thing. And what the New Apostolic Reformation, what the new prophets and apostles are doing to our young people—certainly IHOP, the International House of Prayer, would be an example…but, Keith, you give an example in your book of somebody—because it’s Joel’s army, because the youth are going to be the new super spiritual leaders for today, for these times, a group that basically is biblically illiterate for the most part—not all, I know there are exceptions—but you quote a man named John Crowder and the New Mystics and how to become a part of the supernatural generation. But give the example of what they’re doing to young people to build them up with regard to—you have an example of washing their feet. Do you remember that?
Keith: Yeah, a good friend of mine, a personal friend of mine who has come out of this movement tells a story of a day in his church where they had all of the youth come up and sit at the front of the church, and then they had the adults of that congregation come and kneel before the youth and wash their feet. And they weren’t washing their feet to say, “This is what Christ-like service looks like. We’re going to wash your feet because Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.” It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t to say, “This is what humble service looks like,” it was, “We’re washing your feet because we recognize that you are the greatest generation of apostles and prophets that have ever lived.” And so it was—these elderly saints in the Lord are being brought before these teenagers and debased before them, having to wash their feet because these young people, who have accomplished little, who are by definition immature, but they are “so great.”
And so what the prophetic movement does, in my opinion, is they’re just tapping right into the spirit of the age. Because the spirit—in multiple ways, you know the spirit of the age is post-modernism, which is “there is no truth,” so the modern prophetic movement says doctrine is not important, doctrine divides, and Scripture means whatever you want it to mean. But then they also tap into the spirit of the age in the way that they appeal to young people. Young people have been taught that they’re the most important thing. “I believe that children are our future, and everything’s for the children, for the children”…and, not that children are bad—they’re a heritage from the Lord; the Bible says that. But the world even looks at young people as though they are the most important thing, and the prophetic just has tapped into that to say to a narcissistic generation, “You’re the best one. God saved the best for last. You’re the greatest generation.” And again, it’s very man-exalting, flesh-exalting doctrine. “You’re going to be so great, you’re going to conquer the world for Jesus, Jesus needs you to do all these things…” It has an appeal to that fallen nature within each one of us that wants to be stroked and wants to feel like we’re the most important thing in the universe, that self-centered part of us, and it’s very enticing to this generation.
Tom: And they are, I think I can say this, at least from observation of three decades of evangelical Christianity, they are functionally biblically illiterate. They know how to read, they have Bibles, but they don’t. So that makes them incredibly vulnerable to not only this ego-building thing, but they don’t have the Scriptures to deal with the very things that they’re being lied to about. And guess who’s in charge? It’s not going to be the young people. It’s these so-called prophets.
Keith, we’ve got about a minute left, but I want to thank you so much for the book that you wrote, and for being with me on the program, and our heart has got to go out to those who are caught up in all of this. And in just a minute here, what do we do, aside from praying for them and trying to inform them, which your book does. Have you got any other counsel for us?
Keith: Well, yeah. I think it’s very primary that those churches that do have a commitment to the Bible, that we make sure that in our youth programs that we are dealing with fundamental doctrine, and we are giving young people a solid handle on the Christian faith, not just entertaining them. Because…just because your church doesn’t run in these circles, unless your young people never go to Christian concerts or they never visit anybody else’s church, you cannot say that they will not be impacted by this movement. They are reaching across denominational lines to go after young people in the church, so it begins with educating our own people, and then educating them in what the Scriptures actually teach and how to properly interpret the Scriptures. And then I think it’s good for them to be informed of the errors that are out there so that they can be discerning.
Tom: Yeah, and that’s it. Discipleship and discernment. Keith, again, thank you for being with us.
Keith: Well, I appreciate the invitation, and God bless you and your ministry.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of materials 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 the bereancall.org. In our next program, Tom will be joined by Mike Gendron whose ministry “Proclaiming the Gospel” is an outreach to Catholics. We hope you can tune in. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.