Dangerous Beliefs And Movements Within Christianity
My heart's desire is for all Christians to live in the unity of the Spirit. That makes these profiles difficult to write. The Bible teaches...."If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom 12:18) That's the way I want to live. I never go out of my way to start an argument or a doctrinal fight. Yet, when the truth of the Gospel is at stake the Bible instructs us to "prove all things" and warn others of dangers. That's the duty and responsibility of a faithful shepherd. Some warnings are given against Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and Charismatic groups. However, don't think that I'm singling them out for special attention. I'm not "anti-Charismatic" or "anti-Pentecostal", and I don't engage in the popular Protestant practice of "Catholic bashing". I spent the first 25 years of my Christian life relating to these groups and acquired an education on many things never taught in seminary. My wife and I were active in a para-church ministry influenced by the ecumenical movement. Yet, during those early years we didn't identify it with that name. Clearly, true devoted Christians exist in all these groups. Yet, many practices are troubling because they're still going on. It's now more intense--and more subtle. Inexperienced Christians today have little hope of avoiding these spiritual traps.
The Bible tells us that "perilous times" will come in the last days. We're living in those days right now. Some might say, "It sounds like you oppose everything in the church". Yet, this perspective shows a lack of understanding concerning our current state of affairs. Our enemy is using every tool at his disposal to defeat God's plan for the world through Jesus Christ. He doesn't defeat us by direct opposition--he defeats us by looking like us. There's an all out assault against the Gospel of Christ. It's coming from religion (inside the church), the government, educational institutions--and the "intellectual" world in general.
Today, many things labeled as "Christian" are spiritual counterfeits. Basic Bible teaching is considered "hate speech", even in some churches. The "Ten Commandments" are deemed offensive and removed from public view. Some churches are removing crosses from their buildings and tossing them in garbage dumpsters because they're an "offensive" symbol. In the final hours of the Church Age, the truth is getting harder to find and a "church" can be a serious threat to your eternal destiny. Yet, the truth is out there!
Ecumenicalism: A very popular worldwide effort started within the Roman Catholic Church that elevates unity among the world's religions as Christianity's highest goal. Yet, ecumenicalism isn't labeled as a "Catholic" movement. It tends to be "religiously" neutral, which is by design. Anyone who truly knows the Jesus Christ of the Bible recognizes that this "ecumenical unity" can't happen unless the Holy Scriptures are rewritten and redefined. Some modern evangelistic efforts within the Church, especially among Christian youth groups, practice various forms of ecumenicalism. It subtly labels Biblical principles of the Gospel of Christ as "divisive" and offensive in order to replace it with a more tolerant "universal" doctrine that most religions can agree on. More importantly, It misleads its followers into believing that there's actually little difference between Roman Catholicism and Evangelical Christianity. This is not only dangerous, but it's untrue. This ideology is designed to break down all the barriers between these two theological positions. Simply put, it undermines the basic tenants of the Gospel of Christ in order to unify all religions. We believe it's the doctrine of the upcoming "one world church" the Bible says will exist in the last days. Major participants in this dangerous movement are the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches. These two organizations control or influence nearly all mainline Protestant denominations. If there is such a thing as a "national" religion in America--it is ecumenicalism. When you hear government officials and spiritual leaders suggest that the Islamic god, Allah and the God of the Bible are the same you're seening a characteristic of this ideology. It's one of the biggest threats to the truth of the Gospel in our time.
The Danger Of Holiness Theology: Due to the detailed and divisive nature of this topic, we dedicated a separate article available below.
Nicolaitan Theology: An authoritarian system that operates in many sections of the Christian church. It divides God's family into two parts: the clergy and the laity. The clergy is the upper class that possess the calling and knowledge of God. The laity is the lower class consisting of the common people that depend on the knowledge of the clergy. This belief destroys the oneness of Christ's body, undermines the Holy Spirit as the teacher of the church and is a doctrine that Jesus specifically said that he hates (Rev. 2:6). It opens the door for all kinds of authority abuse and is one of the foundations for legalism in the modern church. It is subtly implied in traditions and doctrines. It is seldom referred to by its proper name and operates by stealth behind the mask of a spiritual office representing "God's authority".
The Way International: Its founder, Victor Paul Wierwille, started the organization in 1967 in Knoxville, OH. The movement taught that the Divinity of Jesus Christ was an invention of the apostate church during the decline of Christianity. They believe that Jesus Christ did not exist in a preincarnate state (the way Saint John taught) and deny the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. The organization's doctrine is called "Dynamic Monarchianism" which says that only the Father is God, but Jesus Christ (the Son) and the Holy Spirit are not. Among their various doctrines are what's called "Immutable Laws" like the law of "Tithing and Abundant Sharing" where failing to tithe to the organization can trigger "the law of prosperity" to work in reverse bringing poverty upon the one who violates its principles. Also, the "law of believing" can bring disaster on a family member for allowing fear to exist in one's heart. The "law of believing" was Wierwille's own version (actually a perversion) of positive and negative confession principles taught in various parts of the church today. This group is clearly classified as a cult with a Christian name.
New Order Latter Rain Theology: Originated in Saskatoon, Canada and entered the United States during the mid 1900's. Some of its beliefs strongly influence Charismatic, Pentecostal, Church of God and Assembly of God circles. Generally, we do not oppose these denominations. Popular ministries that are evangelizing the world have some historic roots in the Latter Rain movement. Because some good fruit came from this group, we want to avoid painting it with a wide brush. While the spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues are still valid in the Church today the Latter Rain movement elevated its leaders who moved in these gifts above the scrutiny of God's Word. A leader's prophecy (message from God) did not necessarily have to agree with Scripture. When a prophet was "in the spirit" and delivered a "word from the Lord" you were expected to receive it as such and be obedient even if it disagreed with the Bible. This allowed all kinds of authority abuse and harmful teachings that are still with us today. It committed the sin of dividing Christ's Church by establishing a "class system". . .the leaders or "chosen ones" who "moved in the Spirit" vs. the lower order nominal believer. Prophetic messages should always be subject to the evaluations of others. Latter Rain theology taught that "sonship" (a position purchased for all believers by the blood of Christ) is something attained through being "perfected" by holy and committed living. It was a progression through a series of 5 spiritual stages where the believer attained (through a fervent devotion to Christ) to the position of "the chosen of God". The movement is strongly Calvinistic in its beliefs with a strong commitment to replacement theology. A popular teaching among Latter Rain adherents is that the "Bride of Christ" is made up of only these special "chosen ones" that are few in number--and does not include all true believers in Christ. This is a false teaching that subtly undermines the Grace Gospel and denies the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus Christ. It teaches a form of "salvation by works".
Kingdom Now Theology: A popular movement that teaches Jesus Christ cannot return until the Church occupies and rules the earth. It opposes Biblical prophecy concerning the world's condition that precedes Christ's return and strongly denies the pretribulation position concerning the rapture of the Church. It attempts to restore the rule of the Mosaic Law on all earthly governments and societies. This movement is dangerously legalistic and opposes God's agenda for the Church under Grace. It's related to other movements such as: Christian Reconstructionism, Latter Rain, Dominion Theology, Manifested Sons of God and the Kansas City Prophets.
Restoration Movement: Also known as the "Discipleship Movement". It was started by what's known as "The Fort Lauderdale Four" consisting of Bob Mumford, Derek Price, Ern Baxter and Charles Simpson. This group is a branch of the Latter Rain Movement that believes that God is restoring the practice of discipleship under the direction of the five-fold ministry spoken of in Ephesians 4:8-13. They teach that God is restoring the spiritual offices of the pastor, teacher, evangelist, prophet and apostle to the Church. While these offices are Scriptural and valid today the movement (similar to Latter Rain theology of the 1950's) elevates them to a position that is not accountable to God's Word, or any other authority for that matter. It teaches that God delegates his authority (a form of "Lordship" authority that Jesus forbid his leaders to use) to these offices. It requires the believer under their "care" to submit themselves as to the Lord in order to be "Biblically covered". If someone failed to properly submit to this authority they were considered "out of Divine order" and in rebellion to God. Women who failed to submit were accused of having a "Jezebel spirit". If another Christian from outside the group helped you to see the unbiblical practices--you were labeled "defiled by an evil report" and others in the group (sometimes members of your own family) were instructed to avoid you. Authority used by leaders in this movement included: the choice of vocations, who you could marry, the allocation of your money and the discipline of your children. Some groups go much further. This movement is very active and popular today, yet is known by different "family friendly" names. Its practices are dangerous because the leaders (who are self-appointed) usurp the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the life of the believer while teaching that you're under God's "Divine order". True to Latter Rain theology--this movement is strongly Calvinistic in its doctrine.
Messianic Jewish Movement: This exciting movement is divided into two groups. The first group is nothing short of amazing and consists of Jewish believers who recognize Jesus Christ as Messiah and Lord. Few non-Jewish believers have seen the enthusiasm that occurs when a Jew discovers this truth. These believers embrace the principles of the Gospel and enjoy their salvation purchased freely by the blood of Christ. They know that salvation does not depend on obedience to Old Testament Law. The second group is the problem. They are Jewish believers in Jesus Christ similar to those discussed in Acts 15 and the Judaizers that troubled Saint Paul in the Galatian church. These believers teach that salvation is dependent upon obedience to the Torah and principles of the Mosaic Law. This includes obeying the Jewish Sabbath and the observance of the feasts and holy days within Judaism. This second group is dangerous because they preach a distorted gospel, yet insist that it's the real one. The second group is becoming more mainstream and misleading many of God's people. There's nothing wrong with learning about the Jewish roots of Christianity as long as we stay focused on the truth of the Gospel.
Calvinism: A theology created by John Calvin during the 1500's called "The Institutes of Christian Religion". They are based on 5 principles commonly referred to as "TULIP". These principles are the foundation for Presbyterian and Reformed theology.
* Total depravity of man
* Unconditional election by God
* Limited atonement by Christ
* Irresistible grace of the Holy Spirit
* Perseverance of the believers in salvation
One problem with Calvinism is that many call themselves Calvinists, but are not. Some simply call themselves Calvinist because they don't want to be identified with Arminianism (Note: Most Christians are falsely taught that there are only two doctrinal positions in the church--Calvinism and Arminianism). Also, there are those that follow the teaching of someone who call himself or herself a Calvinist, yet do not adhere to all of Calvin's beliefs. These folks are deeply offended when their "theology" is labeled as being "unbiblical". There's plenty of confusion that surrounds our understanding of Calvinism. We cannot possibly cover all the issues. Books have been written on the subject for more than 150 years. The most damaging teachings are: Unconditional election, Limited atonement and Irresistible grace. These doctrines remove the "free will" of the sinner to accept Christ or reject him. They are not only unbiblical, but in their pure form can neutralize a Christian's commitment to evangelism. Calvinism downplays (or eliminates) the responsibility of the sinner for their sinful condition. Some Calvinists are not motivated to reach the world for Christ because God's grace is irresistible--so why bother?
These teachings also cause a multitude of other problems. It is no accident that many dangerous movements within the Church like Latter Rain theology, the Boston Movement and the Discipleship/Restoration Movement are strongly Calvinistic. John Calvin and his teachings are not only legalistic, but those who adhere to them have a tendency to malign anyone who disagrees as being "an enemy of God". Church history shows that Calvin was notorious for persecuting his opponents in this manner. In one situation, he had several people beheaded for disagreeing about the principles of the Lord's Table. This is why we see the same abusive attitude in the leadership of many authoritarian Christian sects that embrace Calvinism. That's enough reason to stay away from this theology. Yet, millions of sincere believers live under its authority. For a general discussion of this subject click on the link below.
Jack Kinsella Editor Of The Omega Letter Shares
His Beliefs About Calvinism. We Hold These Same
Views At Rock Of Offence.
Click Here To Read
Boston Movement: Also known as the International Churches of Christ (ICC) started by Kip McKean. Though not connected with the Latter Rain movement, they practice the same form of radical discipleship and abusive authority, which is cultic in nature. They teach submission to those higher in authority without question. Those who dare question the authority of leadership are threatened with eternal damnation. Leadership rules through threats, scare tactics and fear. They engage in deceptive recruitment practices where they approach young college students with an invitation to be involved in God's "cutting edge". Prospective members are put through a process called "counting the cost" before being a baptized member, which in their theology means "a Christian". The Boston movement teaches "baptismal regeneration". . . salvation through water baptism, making it another dangerous group that attacks the sufficiency of Christ's blood. Many college and universities in North America have banned the ICC from their campuses because of their abusive practices.
Oneness Pentecostalism: This is a theology that is "Armenian" in its salvation doctrine and teaches there is only one person in the Godhead. It supports the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, yet it denies the Trinity. This is another sect that wrongly teaches you must be baptized in order to be saved and that speaking in tongues is a necessary sign for salvation. Proponents believe that only an ordained minister of a church that believes in "oneness" doctrine can practice water baptism--otherwise the baptism is invalid and so is your salvation. They teach and believe that it's possible for a Christian to lose his or her salvation. It is strongly legalistic in its practices and beliefs.
Replacement Theology: A dangerous, yet common belief system (theology) in existence since the days of Saint Augustine around 500 AD. It teaches that God has eternally removed Israel from his plans and replaced her with the present New Testament Church. The proponents of replacement theology believe that God took this action in response to the Jew's rejection of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. As in the past, replacement theology is used within some sectors of the church as the foundation for the unprecedented resurgence of anti-Semitism. The result of this error is disastrous. There are two administrations covered by the New Testament Scriptures: Israel (known as the circumcision under the Mosaic Law) and the New Testament Church (known as the uncircumcision under Grace). Replacement theology mixes these two dispensations together and misappropriates Scriptural principles directed only toward Israel (the Jews) onto the New Testament Church. This creates salvation doctrines that mix the principles of Law and Grace. Replacement theology also denies the fulfillment of a majority of Bible prophecy concerning the recent rebirth of the nation of Israel in 1948. Replacement theology is widespread in the modern church and is found in nearly all mainline Christian denominations and in Roman Catholicism. You may never hear it referred to by its correct name. It operates by stealth and is embedded in various doctrines and fundamental teachings of the church. It is subtly legalistic in nature.
The Popular Cults: Time and space does not allow us to cover groups such as the Jehova's Witnesses and the Church of Latterday Saints (also known as the Mormons). There's good material available on these and other groups from links to other counter-cult websites on our Spiritual Counterfeits page (See Below).
Endtime theology tends to fall into two major camps. The first view is called "futurism" and is widely accepted in the church. Futurism correctly teaches that Bible prophecy is in the process of being fulfilled, or will be fulfilled in the future. If you're not confused enough by all the teminology, the futurist camp is subdivided into 7 other beliefs: Pre-tribulation, Mid-tribultion, Pre-wrath, Post-tribulation, Pre-millennial, Amillennial and Post-millennial. Although futurism as a general belief is correct, the same cannot be said of all its different parts.
The second view is called "historicism" and is growing in popularity. Historicism teaches that all Bible prophecy is already fulfilled. Any honest examination of the Scriptures reveal that historicism is another false theology. Why should a Christian spend time learning about these things? Because counterfeit forms of Christianity takes full advantage of our ignorance. The more we know the better prepared we are to discern and avoid the dangers. Because of the massive amount of information that exist on these topics we will only cover the most controversial of these ideologies.
Preterism: A false eschatological theology that teaches all Bible prophecy was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Preterism falls under the general category of "Historicism". Preterists believe that Old Testament prophecies were "physically" fulfilled and can be understood literally from how the prophecies were written. They also believe that the prophecies of the New Testament are "spiritually" fulfilled, and anyone who interprets these Scriptures literally are not only in error, but also in heresy. Preterists practice a radical form of replacement theology by spiritualizing the New Testament Scriptures. They take Scriptures that pertain only to the Israel of the Bible and claim that they now apply to the church, which they call "the New Israel". This theology not only distorts the prophetic Scriptures, but redefines major parts of God's Word. The effects of this dangerous practice ripples all the way through the fundamental doctrines of salvation.
Some beliefs of the preterist/historicist position are:
* Daniel's 70 week prophecy is fulfilled
* The events of Jesus' "olivett discourse" (from Matt. chapter 24) has been fulfilled
* The anti-christ (as a man) will not appear in the future
* The anti-christ is not a single person
* The anti-christ is a group consisting of all the Pope's of the Catholic Church
* There is no Tribulation period before Christ's Second Coming
* The Tribulation lasted 1260 years--but is now over
* There is no "Second Coming of Christ" (not all preterists agree about this)
Post-Millennialism: A false eschatological theology teaches that Jesus Christ will not return until the end of the 1000 year millennium, which is a period of peace and prosperity created by the preaching of the gospel to the world by the church. This millennium (also understood as the kingdom of God) is man-made--and Jesus returns to receive this kingdom that the church presents to him. Today, this is not a popular position because the Church is recognizing that the world is getting worse, not better. This was a popular belief among some of the leaders of the Protestant reformation period. It is also the predominant view of the "Kingdom Now" movement.
Amillennialism: A false eschatological theology that teaches there will not be a literal fulfillment of Christ's Millennial Kingdom. All Scripture that teach about the millennium (the 1000 year reign of Christ) are considered "figurative" and not to be believed as "literal". Several mainline denominations hold to the amillennial position.
Post-tribulationalism: A false eschatological theology that teaches Jesus Christ will not return for his Church until the very end of the 7 year Tribulation period and just before his 1000 year Millennial reign on earth. This is a popular endtime belief held by well-meaning Christians. Some Post-trib teachers boldly declare that there is no rapture. Yet, Saint Paul takes a different position and calls the rapture (departure of the Church), "Our Blessed Hope". It's impossible to discuss the various problems with this theology in the limited space here. The debate (actually a doctrinal war) has been going on for hundreds of years. The other side of the argument is "Pre-tribulationalism", which we believe is correct. Some war-weary saints are now saying that we should drop the debate and focus on the things we agree on. Yet, the truth of the gospel is at stake in this situation. Briefly, the problem with Post-tribulationalism is that it undermines some of the tenants of the Grace Gospel that says, "For God hath not appointed us (the Church) to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Thes 5:9 KJV). It also doesn't agree with the total body of the prophetic Scriptures. In his epistles to the Thessalonians, Saint Paul reveals the events that occur before the revealing of the anti-christ, which starts the Tribulation period. He teaches that the departure of the Church (also known as the rapture or the "falling away") occurs before the man of sin (anti-christ) is revealed. The Tribulation period is when the wrath of God is poured out upon the earth. Saint Paul taught that the New Testament Church is not appointed to endure this period of God's judgement. If the Church were to experience this punishment, which is reserved for only the most wicked of the world, it would be a violation of the gospel. It subtly denies that the blood of Christ " paid the entire price for sin that "saves us from the wrath to come". The Bible pattern for the people of God is to be removed (escape) before judgement falls. Post-tribulationalism teaches that God will "keep" his people from harm as the world around them literally falls apart and two-thirds of mankind dies from unprecedented Divine judgement. Yet, this belief fails to agree with the Biblical patterns, such as Enoch (raptured before the flood of Noah), Noah and his family (floating in the ark above the flood) and Lot removed by angels from the city of Sodom.
For a more detailed look at this belief visit the link below.
Other Views: Two other eschatological theologies are popular: The Mid-tribulational and the Pre-wrath views. Because of space we will not cover these beliefs except to offer some links that give more information. It would be worth your while to read this material.
Note: Some of the information on this page comes from "The Spiritwatch" and from "The Watchman Expositor", which are both Christian apologetic and counter-cult ministries that expose skewed doctrines and false movements within the Christian Church. We do not necessarily agree with all information found on these sites.
The Watchman Expositor