Monday, October 29, 2007

Heresy in the Church 2

On Thursday, I attended a meeting at a local Pentecostal church with some friends. They had not experienced Pentecostalism before and wanted to see the "Prosperity Preacher," Jesse Du Plantis. We had been warned by a number of people that Mr. Du Plantis was a heretic, that is he held views that are not Scripturally based and he is outside of the teaching of the Church as a whole. The end result of heresy is loss of fellowship with the Universal Church and "loss" of Salvation. (Loss is in quotes because many feel that that salvation had not been had in the first place.) I was dismayed that these people would be so quick to say such an extreme thing about another individual that they disagreed with and would slander him, but I was in for a surprise...

There are a number of things that have caused me to leave the Pentecostal fold. First, much of the preaching and virtually all the spiritual songs are devoid of any theological or doctrinal truth. I view church worship as a confessional act, that is we confess with our mouths just who God is. This should be gleaned from Scripture, God's revelation of himself, rather than from individual emotion. Second is the rampant mysticism. Third is the rise of the Prosperity Gospel, if gospel we can call it. This phenomenon preys upon the uneducated, the poor, and the desperate. It tells them that if they give financially into the collection plate, God will multiply the money they gave back to them. Personal righteousness, responsibility for sin, and working for the Kingdom of God while awaiting the advent of the still future kingdom and its rewards are all given up in the hopes of quick riches in this life. Yet seldom does anyone "reap a blessing" that comes near what the pastor is reaping. Jesse Du Plantis, unfortunately, is one of these charlatans.

One of the first things out of Jesse's mouth was that he was given special revelation, not given to anyone else. This revelation was wrapped up into a self-help-like package. Each of these revelations could be had for purchase after the sermon.

Next, and this is a doozy, he said that God has no authority on earth. God created man and gave him authority over the earth. God no longer needs to act upon the earth and humans have no need to seek God's authority. Rather, we look for supernatural power to bring about our will on the earth (which, if we call ourselves Christians, will automatically be God's will). What we need to do this is power and money. It is our duty, therefore, to pursue these things from God and use them as we see fit.

I admit that this is a paraphrase of what he said, but I assure you it is not a caricature. By saying that God has no authority, he denies countless claims of Scripture. For example: Throughout the Old Testament, Scripture is replete with examples of God enacting his will and using his authority over both believers (Jews) and Gentile nations to bring about his will. Also, In the New Testament, Jesus has authority in a way that the Pharisees did not. He cleansed the temple, he healed and brought back to life. He obtained authority from his Father and gave it to his apostles. Authority was given to mankind in trust by God who continues to have and act in ultimate authority. We are the stewards, he is the king. And he is not an absentee ruler. Jesse has denied the Christian tradition held by Catholics and Protestants alike.

Jesse also said that while he is not sinless, he goes for very long periods without any form of sin. He, in the same breath, bragged about his house, cars, and private jet. Remember that he spoke of these to a church full of poverty-stricken people who were trying to meet their bills. He then asked for an offering and tried to sell them DVD's! What could be as sinful as that? This is the same sin (preying on the less-fortunate) that Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah, and Zechariah faithfully prophesied against in Israel/Judah. God, who has authority over the nations, reduced them to rubble. Who has the audacity to repeat their sin?

There is an interesting and horrible connection between the loss of compassion for other humans and idolatry. This occurred in Israel/Judah. When other gods were worshipped, the populace turned on each other. They enslaved, murdered and defrauded each other. They lost sight of the image of God in man. Jesse serves an idol of his own making. A cosmic money-giver. In the process, he loses sight of compassion for his fellow man. There is heresy in the church! Now is when we need Scriptural exposition and true, text-driven doctrine. Now is when we must pray that God will deliver his people from their self-induced bondage to sin and greed. Now is when we must recapture a vision of the image of God in man.

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