Ephesians 5:6

Ephesians 5:6

“Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things.”

I’ve decided to focus my blog on this one verse today. I’ve been wrestling with an idea for the last couple of months and as I’ve been watching videos and listening to podcasts (which I will share with you as I write), it all came together as I studied this verse. When Paul wrote this to the church at Ephesus, he was addressing the heresy of Gnosticism. The Gnostics believed that acquiring a special, mystical knowledge was the means for gaining salvation. The website gotquestions.org says, “According to Gnostic beliefs, there is a Great God that is good and perfect, but impersonal and unknowable. The creator of the universe was actually a lesser deity-a cheap knockoff of the “true God”- who wanted to create a flawless material universe, but botched the job. Instead of having a utopia, we ended up with a world infected with pain, misery, and intellectual and spiritual blindness; all matter is now corrupt and evil.” So basically, they thought that matter was evil and the spirit was good. It’s important to understand what Paul was writing about then because Gnosticism has made its way back into the church today.

The thing I’ve been wrestling with these last couple of months is the huge growth of both hyper-charismatic churches and progressive Christianity. I’ve been watching and listening to the Alisa Childers podcast, Mike Winger and his Bible Thinker podcasts and videos, but it wasn’t until I watched Melissa Dougherty’s videos that it all came together. I’ve been thinking that they were two sides of the same coin, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Melissa Dougherty came out of the New Age/ New Thought movement, and she helped me put the pieces together. The thing that both have in common is that they bring in New Age beliefs. New Age beliefs are a form of Gnosticism.

The New Age is a wide range of spiritual practices and beliefs. People who are involved in it would probably all define it differently. There are, however, some beliefs which many would agree on. Those are the ones I am going to focus on here. They acknowledge the deity of man. They believe man is good and getting better. Salvation is a spiritual awakening where an individual experiences “his own divinity”. Faith is based on experience. Christ is a position held by all deserving members. The Bible is used as needed to prove points, but it is not the inspired word of God. I am going to go through each of these New Age thoughts and show how the hyper-charismatic and progressive churches have adopted these for themselves.

I’m going to combine the “deity of man” and “Christ is a position held by all deserving members”. Let’s start with the hyper-charismatic churches. Word of Faith pastors teach that we are little gods. Because we are an exact representation of God, we can do everything Jesus did and more. In a book available on Bethel’s website, this is in the description. “…when faced with difficult circumstances, contending against odds, warriors call up the majesty and supremacy of God that is already present in the secret place of their spirit.” The book Manifesting Your Spirit was sold out on the website. Kenneth Hagin teaches that God made us in the same class of being that He is Himself. Kenneth Copeland teaches that we don’t have God in us, we are one. On to progressive Christianity. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest who is big in progressive Christian circles. He has a book out right now called The Universal Christ. He separates Jesus from “the Christ”. Jesus was a man; Christ is universal and can be found in all of us and in all things. In his book, he wrote this in the dedication: “I dedicate this book to my beloved fifteen-year-old black Lab, Venus, whom I had to release to God while beginning to write this book. Without any apology, lightweight theology, or fear of heresy, I can appropriately say that Venus was also Christ for me.” This is obviously the nutshell version. It is also classic Gnosticism. The progressive Christianity website lists eight beliefs. Point 1 says, “Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of life.” It is vague, but it seems to point to a belief that that we can achieve oneness with the Sacred, which I am guessing is God.

The second New Age teaching is that man is good and getting better. In the hyper-charismatic branch of Christianity, that is showing up as Dominionism /Kingdom Now theology. Our job is to take back what is ours, to claim dominion over the earth by placing Christians in key political offices, plus a return of spiritual power, manifested by signs, miracles, and healings. When Heaven Invades Earth, by Bill Johnson of Bethel, teaches Kingdom Now theology. For an excellent critique of this book, go to this website: Book Review: When Heaven Invades Earth, by Bill Johnson : 9Marks.  Another part of this is the Seven Mountain Mandate which states that before Christ returns, the church must take control of the seven major spheres of influence for the glory of Christ. Once the world has been made subject to the Kingdom of God, then Jesus will return and rule. I’m not sure how they came to this conclusion based on what Jesus taught us in Matthew 24! Progressive Christianity comes out of the social gospel movement of the early 20th century. On its website, the core beliefs state that they strive for peace and justice among all people (pt. 6), they strive to protect and restore the integrity of the earth (pt. 7), and commit to a path of lifelong learning, compassion, and selfless love (pt. 8). The inferred belief is that we are improving as a society and can get better if we try.

Next, we will look at salvation. Remember, the New Age teaching of salvation is when an individual experiences “his own divinity”. We have already seen how both the hyper-charismatic and progressive churches teach this doctrine. But what else do they teach about salvation? The hyper-charismatic teachers/preachers teach that salvation was won by Jesus on the cross. But they add to this. In addition to salvation in the way that historical Christianity has taught it, the hyper-charismatics teach that the complete healing of spirit, soul, and body is included in Christ’s atonement. On Kenneth Copeland’s website, it states that not only does salvation include deliverance from evil, but it includes a life free from sin and deliverance from earthly dangers such as serious sickness, famines, and earthquakes! There are so many verses that contradict this, but this post would be far too long if I listed them all. I have shown in a previous post that Bill Johnson of Bethel teaches that physical healing is a part of the gospel message. Progressive Christianity teaches that Jesus provides but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey. They do not believe that Jesus is the only way. This is from the second point of their eight points on that website.

Both hyper-charismatics and progressive Christians have a faith based on experience rather than objective truths. In the Word of Faith and hyper-charismatic churches, a key component is to claim and affirm that they have healing, well-being, etc. before they experience the results, demonstrating that they have the faith, which will bring about the results. Melissa Doherty has an excellent video on this. You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/sxnzwBey5cw .  Progressive Christians believe that following the teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and the Unity of all life (pt. 1). It’s all about the experience. Therefore, truth becomes subjective, and we hear phrases such as “my truth” and “your truth”. All lifestyles are celebrated and accepted.

The last point I’ll cover is the Bible. The new age movement uses the Bible to support its practices by cherry-picking verses or using them out of context. Hyper-charismatic teachers have done the same thing to make their doctrines work. But now they have gone a step further. In 2015, one man claims to have received a direct message from Jesus to translate the Bible. Brian Simmons wrote the Passion Translation. This is used by many hyper-charismatic churches. In a review for Themelios, Andrew G. Shead says that Simmons abandons “all interest in textual accuracy, playing fast and loose with the original languages, and inserting so much new material into the text that is it is at least 50% longer than the original. The result is a strongly sectarian translation that no longer counts as scripture: by masquerading as a Bible that threatens to bind entire churches in thrall to a false God.” Mike Winger has some great videos on this as well. He had biblical scholars look at different books and compare the original language with the Passion Translation. You can find it at  Home – BibleThinker . Type Passion Project into the search bar. Progressive Christians tend to hold a lower view of scripture that historic Christians. On the United Methodist Insight website I found an article listing 16 ways progressive Christians interpret the Bible. Here were some of the points. They don’t consider it to be infallible or inerrant. They feel that there are many inconsistencies and contradictions. They read it prayerfully to understand what and how to apply it to their lives. It was written by fallible humans with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but they are human, so it is full of mistakes. I have seen elsewhere that it is a historical book for them, but not divinely inspired.

There is so much information here, but it is so important! I feel as though I have only scratched the surface. Jesus warns us in Matthew 24:10-11, “Then many will follow away, betray one another, and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” 2 Timothy 4: 3-4 says, “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers from themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.” The New Age, progressive Christianity, and the hyper-charismatic church movements all have their roots in the same thing. That seed was planted at the very beginning when the serpent told Eve she could be like God. There is nothing new under the sun!  We need to stand firm against these false movements. I am going to and where I started.

“Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things.”

Grace be with you!

Helpful podcasts and websites

Podcast (alisachilders.com)

Home – BibleThinker

Melissa Dougherty

Cultish (thecultishshow.com)


STR Weekly Broadcast


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