To eat Meats, or not?

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One of the roots of religious delusion is evidenced by people who are bound under strict laws that stipulate what they can or cannot eat.

These dietary rules are believed to make them more approved before God and contribute to their spiritual elevation or whatever marker of spiritual enlightenment they subscribe to.

A look at various religious systems bears this out. In Judaism, there are kosher dietary laws which adherents are expected to keep.

Drawing from its Judaistic influence, Islam also adheres to certain dietary laws that prohibit eating pork, lobster and clams.

In Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism and Jainism, dietary laws are taken a notch higher by the prohibition of all meats. Animals are believed to have souls and are to be venerated.

The New Age spirituality, which is the fountain head of the current reverence for the earth and environmentalism, believes animal meats contain harmful “vibrations” which should be avoided by seekers or adepts.

Some professing Christians also adhere to the dietary laws of the Mosaic laws. Seventh Day Adventists, for instance, under the instruction of their prophetess Ellen White, are taught that:

If we subsist largely upon the flesh of dead animals, we shall partake of their nature.” – Testimonies for the Church 2:61.

“Its use excites the animal propensities to increased activity, and strengthens the animal passions. When the animal propensities are increased, the intellectual and moral powers are decreased. The use of the flesh of animals … benumbs the fine sensibilities of the mind.”– Testimonies for the Church 2:63.

“Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away: flesh will cease to form a part of their diet.” — Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 380.

Even though it’s documented that Ellen White broke her own rules and ate meat on some occasions, it’s clear that within the sect, these dietary laws are presented as keys to moral purity, intellectual dexterity and salvation.

There are also some Hebrew Roots and Sacred Name adherents who observe these dietary laws.

Some of these religious groups produce medical books warning people against eating any kind of meat. But these “findings” have underlying religious undertones and are propounded because they validate their presuppositions.

This issue needs to be addressed because even within some Christian denominations, many people are still indirectly placed under a dietary yoke of bondage.

I have attended two well-known Nigerian Pentecostal churches where a preacher and a guest speaker demanded that Christians revert to the dietary laws of the OT if they want to experience physical and spiritual wellness.

It’s one thing for a Bible teacher to teach his/her opinions, it’s another thing for him/her to equate those opinions to a divine order.

You may not personally like certain foods, that’s okay, but you don’t have to make it a stumbling block for other believers.

For instance, let’s say, Pastor A doesn’t like eating apples because he has allergies whenever he does. It’s fine if he says to his congregation, “I don’t like apples because they affect me negatively when I eat them.”

But when pastor A now stands on his pulpit on a Sunday morning and says:

“As I was praying and studying my Bible last night, God gave me a special revelation about apples. As a child of God, you must avoid that fruit because it was the fruit that Satan gave Eve to eat and Eve gave Adam and ultimately caused the downfall of the entire human race. It defiles the body and soul. It deadens the intellect.  If you want to be closer to God and enjoy His deeper love and fellowship with holy angels, then stop eating apples!”

These remarks would not only be a form of pastoral manipulation and control, it would also be an attempt to lead people into the bondage of legalism.

Notably, Pastor A has taken several dangerous steps:

1. He has projected his personal tastes onto everyone. That is, if he’s allergic to apples, then everyone else must be allergic to them as well.

2. He has equated his personal preference to collective preference. If he dislikes apples everyone else must do so too.

3. He has elevated his personal preferences to divine mandates. Whatever he loathes must also be what God also loathes. Technically, God is reduced to his rubber stamp who must endorse whatever resonates with his personal desires.

4. He has masked his true intentions by using a fraudulent revelation as an ecclesiastical cement on his personal tastes.

This is the progression of many legalistic doctrines in many churches today – with the exception of those that are directly taught by demons to their mouthpieces to uphold their existing pacts.

Now, if you replaced the “apples” in my analogy with “meat” and certain natural things that some church leaders urge their members to avoid, the twisted syllogism fits. This is an Athenian development of false doctrines.

First of all, what does the Bible teaches about being a vegetarian? Is it wrong to eat meat?

In Genesis 3:18b, after the fall of man, God instructed Adam, “And you shall eat the plants of the field.”

At that time, man was condemned to exhausting manual labour in order to make a living. Indeed, Adam was to work before the Fall, but when God cursed the ground at the Fall, there was a clause attached:

“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground” (Gen. 3:19). Taking verse 18 without the surrounding context of the preceding and proceeding verses is flawed exegesis.

Now, in six chapters later, we see that God expressly gave man permission to eat animals: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants” (Gen. 9:3).

In the same book of Genesis, we read that the Lord and His angels visited Abraham and Sarah. Abraham prepared the best that he had and it consisted of beef:

“And Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it” (Gen. 18:7).

If meat were harmful, then why did Abraham give it to the Lord to eat?

Even in the temple offerings, God instructed the Levites to eat the lean meat of cow, sheep and goat but burn their fats in the fire:

“You shall sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shall burn their fat as an offering by fire…but their flesh shall be yours…” (Num. 18:17-18).

If killing animals and eating their meat was sinful, then God commanded the Levites to regularly sin by eating the meat of animals that had been killed, and this went on for centuries.

It’s also instructive to also note that the menu the Lord personally prepared for Elijah before he faced the prophet of Baal consisted of meat:

“And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook” (1 Kgs. 17:6).

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul instructs Timothy and classifies abstinence from meat along with the teachings of forced celibacy as lies taught by deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons:

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, through the pretensions of liars whose conscience are seared, who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you must also accept His truth:

“Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on? (This he declared all foods clean). And he said, “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man” (Mark 7:18-20).

It’s not that roasted pork or cooked okro or smoked grasscutter meat which goes into your tummy that defiles your soul. It is what comes out of your heart. This is what the Lord Jesus taught.

If you reject the truth of Jesus Christ, then you can’t be said to be a follower of Christ. If you take Moses over against Christ, then you are far from Biblical Christianity – the way of grace and truth. For it is written:

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The dietary laws (Lev. 11:41-44; 20:25; Deut. 14:3-20) for the Jews were very strictly adhered to by even the apostles. But on the cross of Calvary, God broke down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles (Eph. 2:14-18).

The dietary laws were put aside along with the ceremonial/temple laws. Therefore, we can partake of meat without any prohibitions.

The only restriction observed is in some instances of meats offered to idols which Paul said he would rather avoid if it will cause fellow Christians to stumble (see 1 Cor. 8:13).

Just as we have it today, some people in the early church were also teaching that Christians ought to merge the laws of Moses with the grace offered in Christ in order to be saved and have a “deeper” Christianity. As a result, many Christians reverted to the old laws and customs of Judaism. This led to the meeting (or “council”) of the Apostles at Jerusalem.

From there, only four dictates from the Mosaic laws were binding on Gentile (non-Jewish) Christians:

(a) They were to abstain from the pollution of idols.
(b) They were to eschew sexual immorality.
(c) They were not to shed blood.
(d) Avoid eating strangled animals or animals with blood in it.

It says nothing about avoiding unclean animals, circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, using the Hebrew names of God/Jesus and some other finicky rules that many have dubiously piled on the heads of their followers to allegedly merit God’s approval.

Paul’s charge to Timothy bears this out once again:

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving; for then it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:4-5).

The New Testament makes it clear that Gentile Christians are not bound by the Mosaic dietary laws. There is no animal that God created that is “unclean” to us – whether it’s a pig, oyster, shellfish, horse or snail. Don’t let anyone hold you captive under any religious teaching that says otherwise.

Let “no one pass judgement on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath” (Col. 2:16).

A clear ignorance of this principle has unwittingly opened up the lives of many Christians to the influence of seducing spirits that reinforce these rules in their lives and rob them of their God-given spiritual freedom.

If any plant or animal is safe to eat, we are free to eat it. This, of course, doesn’t mean that there are no moral restrictions on eating.

We are not to be gluttons, for example, and cannibalism is prohibited, but there are no “unclean” animals today.

The vision Peter had concerning all kinds of animals also reveals the will of God allowing man to eat meat:

“Then a voice told him, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ ‘Surely not, Lord!’ Peter replied. ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.’ The voice spoke to him a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean’” (Acts 10:13-15).

Though God’s point was that Peter was not to consider Gentiles “unclean,” He also made it clear that eating the “unclean” meats was permitted.

Christian salvation and sanctification is by the grace of God. It’s impossible to somehow, by our own works, convince God to love or accept us anymore than He already does.

Holiness is not defined altogether by what we abstain from. It’s defined by our heart attitude toward Jesus and our desire to follow Him.

Refutation of “Constantine’s Creation of Jesus”

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One of the fans of this blog’s Facebook page sent me a pamphlet entitled Constantine’s Creation of Jesus Christ by Kerrie French.

This title alone betrays the book’s conspiracy theme. Reading its first two pages, it became clear to me that the write-up is aimed at misleading folks into the Sacred Name Movement (SNM), a sect linked to the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM).

The SNM began within the Church of God (Seventh-Day), propagated by Clarence Dodd in the 1930s.

It seeks to conform Christianity to its ‘Hebrew Roots’ in practice, belief and worship. SNM groups advocate for the use of the “sacred name” of God as Yahweh (though there’s no agreement on this) and Jesus as Yahshua (varied as well) and keeping Old Testament laws.

Now, when a new religious movement claims to have “the only truth,” or an exclusive understanding of an old truth, its truth claims need to be critically examined.

To this end, I will be rebutting the main arguments in this pamphlet. Quotes from it will appear in blue:

It appears that in A.D. 325, a new god was conceived within the black and white marble halls of Roman Catholicism … Constantine’s intention at Nicea was to create an entirely new god for his empire who would unite all religious factions under one deity. Presbyters were asked to debate and decide who their god would be. Delegates argued among themselves, expressing personal motives for inclusion of particular writings that promoted the finer traits of their own special deity (pp. 1-2).

Each sentence here is patently false. There was no Roman Catholicism in the 4th century. Not one single person at the Council of Nicea adheres to the definitive doctrines of Roman Catholicism.

The intention of the Council of Nicaea was to settle a Christological controversy caused by a presbyter named Arius who denied the deity of Christ. It was never about “creating a god.”

It is a rather shameless and deceptive undertaking for someone to distort a documented historical event that is well-attested to by ancient sources in the name of presenting the truth. Even a heathen shouldn’t stoop that low. Here are three standard reference works on the council of Nicea:

Encyclopedia Britannica

New World Encyclopedia

Encyclopedia.com

Throughout the meeting, howling factions were immersed in heated debates, and the names of 53 gods were tabled for discussion. “As of yet, no god had been selected by the council, and so they balloted in order to determine that matter. . . For one year and five months the balloting lasted. . .” God’s Book of Eskra, Prof. S.L. MacGuire’s translation, Salisbury, 1922, chapter xlviii, paragraphs 36, 41 (p. 2-3).

Again, we are treated to mythical assertions. I personally wonder why, of all the councils in church history, Nicea seems to be the favourite dream works studio of conspiracy fiction writers and anti-Christians who re-write history when it doesn’t play their game.

Kerrie laces this paragraph with a source to feign legitimacy, but that is a smoking gun right there.

An entry of the quote and God’s Book of Eskra into Google search engine shows that this quote and its alleged source is identical on all SNM websites. These guys just mindlessly parrot and copy one another without any recourse to intellectual scrutiny.

God’s Book of Eskra is not a historical source. It was an occult legendary book called Oahspe, written by a dentist named John Ballow Newbrough and published in 1882.

Newbrough admitted his work came from spirits (“automatic writing”) without any prior text before him.

The translator “Prof. S. L. MacGuire” was obviously made up since the Oahspe was already written in English.

A search of “S. L. MacGuire God’s Book of Eskra” on WorldCat (a compendium of 71,000 library catalogues in 112 countries) turns up no relevant hit.

These SNM websites got the quote in question from one original source: Tony Bushby’s Forged Origins of the New Testament (2007). Bushby must have fabricated “Prof. S.L. MacGuire” and his alleged “translation” to make Newbrough’s book appear as an ancient source.

So there are three strikes against this one: a false claim, a fraudulent reference and a demonic source. Absolutely invalid.

I invite my readers to read about the council of Nicaea from both Judaic and Catholic sources and draw their own conclusions:

Encyclopedia Judaica

Catholic Encyclopedia

Constantine was the ruling spirit at Nicaea and he ultimately decided upon a new god for them. To involve British factions, he ruled that the name of the Druid god, “Hesus,” be joined with the Eastern Saviour-god, Krishna (Krishna is Sanskrit for Christ), and thus “Hesus Krishna” [Jesus Christ] would be the official name of the New Roman god (p. 3).

The post-Nicene detour of Roman churches into Arianism and the necessity of the Council of Constantinople to redress this is one proof that Constantine wasn’t the ruling spirit at Nicaea.

The Gaulish god, Esus, has no connection with Jesus (an Anglicized name). This writer fondly imagines that the people at Nicea and the Celtic Druids spoke English language.

According to this goofy reasoning, Constantine picked a Celtic god, joined it to an Indian god to become a “new Roman god”! This nonsense is beyond belief.

The name Jesus is an English transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua or Yehoshua and Greek Iēosus. It literally means “the LORD (or Yahweh) is salvation.” Centuries before a council held in Nicaea, the Bible speaks of several people bearing this name:

Jesus Barabbas, a prisoner released by Pontius Pilate before Jesus was crucified (Mt. 27:16-17 REB); an ancestor of Jesus (Lk. 3:29); Joshua, son of Nun (Acts 7:45); Jesus Justus, a Jewish Christian who with the apostle Paul sent greetings to the Colossians (Col. 4:11) (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Ronald Youngblood, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995, p. 658).

Whether it’s spelled Jesus, Joshua or Yeshua, it means the same: the Lord our salvation (Matt. 1:21).

Changing a name from one language to another doesn’t change the meaning of the name nor does it change the character or identity of the person.

Following long-standing heathen custom, Constantine used the official gathering and the Roman apotheosis decree to legally deify two deities as one, and did so by democratic consent. A new god was proclaimed and “officially” ratified by Constantine (p. 3).

This is straight from the fevered imaginations of Tony Bushby, but with a twist. While Bushby asserts the Bible was formed at Nicea, Kerrie French and his SNM comrades claim a “new god” was proclaimed there.

Notice his choice of words too. He vaguely refers to “heathen custom,” that a man gathered people to “legally deify two deities as one” by “democratic consent.” This is gobbledygook, even by heathen standards.

If there was such a decree, it would be documented. The writer resorts to demagoguery in place of facts. He strings together big words to dazzle his uninformed readers when in actual fact, he’s saying nonsense.

Some authorities, who have spent their entire lives studying the origins of names, believe that “Jesus” actually means— “Hail Zeus!” For Iesous in Greek is “Hail Zeus.” That is, “Ie” translates as “Hail” and “sous” or “sus” is Zeus. Dictionary of Christian Lore and Legend, J.C.J. Melford, 1983, p. 126.

 No quotation from the source is given, but on some SNM websites where this line was copied from, the quote appears to have been astutely wrenched from its context.

Notice that the writer talks about “some authorities who have spent their entire lives studying the origins of names,” but gave only one source that can’t even be termed an authority. This is cultic politics of language: maximal claims, minimal output.

Initially, he says Jesus was an amalgam of a Celtic and Indian god which became a Roman god, now he says the name is of a Greek god. This writer couldn’t even convince himself.

The Greek word for “hail” is xaipe or xaipete and it’s not a constituent of the name Iēosus. The name Iēosus is found in the Greek Septuagint, a translation dating to the B.C. era.

First century works of Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, written in Koine Greek also refers to at least 20 different people with the name Iēosus (Jesus) (Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd, The Jesus Legend, Baker Pub., 2007, 129).

That the name ends with “sus” or “sous” furnishes no evidence that it’s from Zeus. That a certain word or word part sounds like another is no proof of commonality.

For instance, it would be insane for someone to say that Yahuwah was stolen from the Sumerian monster deity named Huwawa because of the phonetic similarity. Yet this is the dark, twisted logic being touted by SNM adherents.

Apparently, this new fabricated name was applied throughout the pages of the Scripture’s Renewed Covenant (NT), radically altering every reference of Yahusha יהושׁע (H#3091) the Messiah to “Hail Zeus-Krishna” (Jesus Christ). Deceptively, the reference to Christ was never a Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah, but it specifically comes from the name of a pagan god, Christna, most commonly spelled Krishna (p. 3)

Bear in mind that Sacred Name and Hebrew Roots adherents deny the validity of the Greek New Testament, asserting that it was “originally” written in Aramaic – a claim that is rather a testament to their profound delusion.

Thus, when this writer calls the NT “Renewed covenant,” he is peddling an agendum that denies the plain differences between the Old and New covenants.

He also alleges that the Bible has been “radically altered.” On pg. 4, he writes: “Who said the Scriptures remain pure and undefiled? Should we not be wise to discern what else has been changed, manipulated, or removed?”

This is the convenient cop out cultists mouth when they realise their folly cannot be substantiated by Scripture. The NT was written in Greek, so there wasn’t any need for the Hebrew name of Jesus to be expunged from it. Moreover, His Hebrew name is Yeshua (or Jeshua) not Yahusha.

John F. Sawyer, Professor of Religious Studies at University of Newcastle, England, has this to say about the word “Christ”:

“The word is derived from the common biblical Hebrew word māšîah, meaning ‘anointed.’ In Greek it is transcribed as messias and translated as christos. In the Hebrew Bible, the term is most often used of kings, whose investiture was marked especially by anointing oil” (The Oxford Companion to the Bible, eds. Bruce Metzger and Michael Coogan, Oxford Press, 1993, 513).

The birth of what is known today as CHRISTIANITY did not exist until Constantine united his empire under the name of his newly fabricated god “Jesus Christ” … Simply, no one was a Christian prior to A.D. 325. All the churches that claim to be Christian today are merely daughters of the Roman stylized system of false worship of “Hail Zeus-Christna” (p. 4).

Certainly, once you eliminate the Lord Jesus from the equation and dismiss the validity of Scripture, the next logical step is to throw 17 centuries of historic, orthodox Christianity under the bus. What you end up with might appear ‘Christian’ but it’s the kingdom of the cults.

This is the logical plinth on which Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, and Christian Science cults are based.

They first have to abjure church history to justify their own existence. That way, they can easily claim to be “restoring ancient Christianity.” The logic is: no one got it right until we alone came on the scene.

At least, most of them aren’t ridiculous to the extent of declaring that no one was a Christian prior to 325 A.D.

The Christianized churches continue to utilize the fabricated terms to replace Yahuah יהוה with “the Lord,” and perpetuate the contrived tradition of replacing Yahusha ,יהושׁע the Messiah, with “Jesus Christ” (Hail Zeus-Christna) (p. 5).

Notice a pattern: Each time the writer refers to Jesus, he finds it necessary to include Zeus-Krishna in brackets beside it. This is aimed to program an unwary reader’s mind to associate the name of Jesus with pagan deities even though this lacks a factual basis. This is Pavlovian brainwashing, utilized by most cults.

In the Old Testament, we see that God revealed Himself by different names. In more than 6,000 times, He is revealed as YHWH (often pronounced as Yahweh) which is likely related to the verb “to be” (Ex. 6:6; 20:2).

He is designated as Adonai, which means “lord” or “master” 449 times. Adhon reveals God’s authority as Master, One who is sovereign in His rule (Ps. 110:1; Hos. 12:14).

He is also designated as Elohim, a plural Hebrew form more than 2,000 times (Dt. 32:17; Josh. 3:10) (Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Press, 2008, 201).

Therefore, when a group places an extreme emphasis on a certain name of God and builds a castle around it, alleging it is “suppressed information” a cultic mindset is being instilled into its adherents.

Interestingly, in Scripture, the term elohim is also used as a generic term for “god” as when speaking of the Philistine god Dagon (“elohim” 1 Sam. 5:7); Chemosh, the god (“elohim”) of Ammon and Moab (Jgs. 11:24) and Milcom (1 Kgs 11:33). But SNM don’t push out articles on the name elohim.

Here is the point: the context and usage of “lord” determines who is being referred to. When apostle Paul quotes Psalm 117:1 “Praise the LORD (Yahweh), all you nations…”, and then writes, “Praise the Lord (Kurios), all you Gentiles…” (Rom.15:11), every right thinking reader can see that Yahweh is equivalent to the Lord Jesus.

Whether in Greek (Iēsous), Latin (Iesus), Arabic (Yesu), French (Jésus) or Yoruba/Igbo (Jesu), the name of Jesus carries the same power and authority in setting free men from sin and Satan.

The writer says false religious organizations don’t observe “Yahuah’s sacred seventh-day Sabbaths and/or set-apart Feast Days of Scripture … [They are] lacking in the knowledge of the truth unto salvation and the power bestowed in the true sacred names” (p. 7).

Let no legalist or “sacred name” nutter lead us to make an idol out of any earthly language and bring us back under bondage of the Old Testament laws.

This pamphlet states its agenda when it says: “Names have meanings, but it is not proper to translate them” (p. 10).

SNM heretics have so much idolized Hebrew language that they believe any translation of Jesus’ name into any language on earth other than Hebrew must be despised and demonized in every sort of way – whether by hook or crook. That is the fundamental assumption underlying this excuse of a pamphlet.

Nothing in it is new however. For many years, enemies of the Gospel have tried in vain to parallel Jesus with Attis, Mithras, Krishna or Horus.

The difference now is that the atheists, agnostics and skeptics have left it up to modern day Judaizers who claim to be Christians to regurgitate their delusion.

Evaluating Movements within the Church

For decades, many doctrinal trends or movements have emerged within the Christian church.

We’ve had the House Church movement in which Christians met in homes instead of church buildings.

There was the Inner Healing movement which involved “healing of memories.” Branhamism – based on the teachings of William Branham – was another one. Then we had the Third Wave movement which emerged from the Charismatic movement.

Not all movements are entirely harmful. The Holy Spirit can enlighten Believers and give them more insight into certain Scriptural truths which in turn revives the Body of Christ.

On the other hand, Satan can use false movements to lead Christians astray. A genuine movement, due to apostasy, can also degenerate into a false one.

Evaluating movements within the church is a crucial part of Christian discernment. For a movement to be so described, it must have influenced people across denominational lines. Now, let’s examine some popular ones:

1. The Emerging (or Contemplative) church Movement.

This is a movement with divergent beliefs – a mixture of Orthodox, Catholic, liberal Protestant and Evangelical theology. It is termed “emerging” because it embraces a postmodern worldview in which the church is expected to adapt to the culture or spirituality of the world systems, thus it’s “emerging.”

The Emerging movement teaches “the theory that denies absolutism and insists that morality and religion are relative to the people who embrace them” (Modern Reformation Magazine, 2005, 14:4).

In other words, they are not sure about what is right or wrong, neither does it really matter, because whatever moral path you embrace is true for you.

One of its leaders, Brian McLauren, dismisses parts of the Bible as Paul’s “personal opinions” while Rob Bell, another leader, says he has discovered “the Bible is a human product.”

On Oprah show, Rob says “the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense.”

The Emerging church practices meditation, mysticism, yoga, use of prayer altars, candles, icons, centering prayer, visualization and other occult techniques.

They also reject the substitutionary atonement of Christ as “a form of cosmic child abuse by a vengeful Father punishing his Son for an offence he didn’t commit.”

2. The Word of Faith (WOF) movement

This movement teaches that faith is a force which can be applied by Christians (who are “little gods”) to speak positive, creative words just as God did at creation.

Armed with this “God kind of faith,” one can dispel all sickness, poverty and control all of life’s circumstances.

Though there are slight doctrinal variations within the WOF camp, their teachings on “positive confession,” Christians being gods, denial of Jesus as the “only begotten Son” and His spiritual death in hell largely came from Essek Kenyon, a Baptist preacher.

There is a strong evidence that he borrowed these doctrines from the Higher Life Movement (see Robert Bowman Jnr. The Word-Faith Controversy, Apologetic Index, 2001).

Kenneth Hagin repeated much of Kenyon’s teachings. From him, they spread to Copeland, Paulk, Tilton, Dollar and other key WOF preachers. Through Christian TV and books, their teachings are being widely disseminated in Africa and other continents.

Most, if not all, of WOF teachers claim to derive their teachings from Jesus Himself through visions or special revelations (thus, theythey termed “revelation knowledge”).

WOF leaders adjust certain Bible passages to rhyme with their peculiar doctrines. For example, Joel Osteen said God made Zachariah dumb “because God knew that Zacharias’ negative words would cancel out His plan. God knows the power of our words, He knows that we prophesy our future.”

But no one who lets this passage speak for itself would come to this conclusion.

He also said, “Your words have creative power.” This is often laced with an alteration of Mark 11:22 “You shall have whatever you say!” Thus, man is in control while God takes a backseat.

WOF doctrines make adherents deny symptoms of sicknesses and shun medical treatment as a denial of faith. But this has proved to be potentially dangerous.

The movement’s obsession with material wealth also raises some ethical questions. Notably, their teaching that Jesus was dragged into hell to atone for sin utterly changes the place of redemption from the cross to hell (Col. 2:15).

3. The Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM)

This is a philosophy or a shared concept that Jewish traditions or Judaism are far superior, and are a sure way for Christians to have a deeper relationship with Christ, sanctification or even salvation.

It’s a diversified movement made up of individuals or groups, ranging from the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research to pop Judaism.

Some adherents are called “Messianic Jews.” But a theme common to them is the idea that restoring the Jewish roots or following Jewish traditions is the only authentic form of Christianity.

The Sacred Name movement, for example, teaches that “Yahweh” is the only name to be used for God, and “Yahshua” for Jesus (varies from group to group – Yahuwah, Yeshua, Yahwah, Yahoshua etc). The use of any other name is deemed idolatry or blasphemy.

They adhere more to the Talmuds than the New Testament. The Talmuds contain later traditions, customs and practices formulated when the Jews had no temple, priesthood or animal sacrifices and were completed about 400-500 years after Christ (The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion, 1965, p. 374).

The HRM also observe Jewish feasts, festivals and laws, even though such requirements are not binding on Gentile Christians (Acts 15:19, Col 2:16-17).

First century Judaism had different sects – the School of Shammai, Hillel, the Sadducees, the Zealots, Herodians and the Essenes – therefore it’s subjective to hold to any Jewish tradition as a valid path to spiritual fulfillment.

This trend is hard for many non-Jews to adjust to because it makes Jewishness next to Godliness, whereas, saved Jews and Gentiles are one body in Christ (see Eph. 3:1-8).

4. The Ecumenical Movement.

This is a unity of all non-Catholic churches with the Catholic church which came from the Vatican II Council (1962-1965) stating that “there may be one visible church of God, a Church truly universal and sent forth to the whole world.”

In 1967, some Pentecostals began holding prayer meetings with Catholics in Pittsburgh and Notre Dame where many Catholics spoke in tongues. This led to the Catholic Charismatic movement and was attributed to the Holy Spirit uniting the church.

One of the first prophesies in these meetings was that “what Mary promised at Fatima was really going to take place” (Edward O’Connor, The Pentecostal Movement in the Catholic Church, Ave Maria Press, 1971, p. 58).

Later, ecumenical meetings began incorporating Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, New Agers and animists in praying for world peace. Today, ecumenism has spread across denominational lines and church societies with the idea that all religions worship the same God, only differing in the details.

Though many ecumenists today (like Rick Warren) drone on uniting religions through social work or activism, in reality, it has failed to create unity. It also dismisses clear Bible commands against ungodly partnership with unbelievers or heretics (2 Cor. 6:12).

Fruits of a True Movement

I. The Fruit of Exalting Jesus

The Holy Spirit always glorifies Jesus Christ (Jn. 16:13-14), therefore, a true movement glorifies or exalts Jesus Christ.

Christ is the Head of the church and must have the preeminence in it. The Holy Spirit does not exalt human personalities or traditions in place of Christ.

II. The Fruit of Respect for Scripture

The Lord Jesus Himself called Scripture “the Word of God” and said “the Scripture cannot be broken” (Mk. 7:13, Jn. 10:35).

God does not take His Word lightly, and He doesn’t esteem those who don’t tremble at His Word (Isa. 66:2). A true movement takes the Bible as its final authority, while a false one tries to subjugate it to its experiences, visions or agenda.

III. The Fruit of Repentance

Repentance is one of the first messages of the New Testament (Mt. 3:2, Mk. 1:15). It is a decision to turn away from sin and submit totally to the Lordship of Christ.

There cannot be a genuine revival in the church without total repentance. A movement that dismisses repentance or replaces it with “positive” words is not from God.

IV. The Fruit of Love for Fellow Christians

Jesus gave an identification mark of true Christians and that is “if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35).

It matters little what the spiritual experiences or gifts a movement boast of, if the mark of love is absent, they are all in vain (1Co.r 13:2). One of the ways to know a false movement is to observe how its adherents treat or speak of other Believers outside their circle.

V. The Fruit of Loving Concern for the Unsaved

Jesus said the Holy Spirit is to empower Christians to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). A person who is truly saved and has the fire of God’s Word burning in his bones will always be eager to reach others with the Gospel truth.

When this zeal is absent, it indicates that fire has left the cooking place. Many Christians have been led astray by becoming witnesses unto a doctrine, a system or a denomination, rather than being witnesses for Christ.

Observe the movements I mentioned so far, are most people in them meeting up to all these standards? The Holiness Revival Movement is a case in point. Do they love other Christians? Are they witnesses to Christ or a man-made tradition?

I have been intrigued by the King James Only Movement. It’s adherents are witnesses of a tradition rather than Christ. They slander and attack the motives of other Christians. They’ve not repented of promoting falsehood in the name of truth.

These are ways to know what underlie trends in the church; if they are godly or ungodly.