Friday, April 24, 2009

How Many Angels Were at the Tomb of Christ?

I found myself virtually screaming out the words, “Will someone please help Professor Bart Ehrman figure out how many angels were at the tomb!” It is a problem he brings up ad nauseum and ad infinitum as his way of showing the Bible is riddled with discrepancies. This problem is cited in his book Jesus Interrupted and involves again the angels at the tomb of Christ.

After reading the synoptic gospels, Ehrman was unable to figure out whether the women saw a man, as Mark says (Mark 16:5), or two men as Luke says (Luke 24:4), or angel as Matthew says (Matt. 28:2).[1] I’m left to wonder why one of professor Ehrman’s students didn’t pause for a brief moment to unpack the mystery from him because as Professor Ehrman himself has figured out wherever there are two angels there is also one angel[2], always, always, always, without exception. The fact that Mark only references the angel, who addressed the women, shouldn’t be problematic for someone who has made an virtual art form out of exploiting discrepancies and secondary details of the Gospels.

Furthermore, even though Luke does not specifically refer to the two men as angels; the fact that he describes these beings as “men in clothes that gleamed as lighting” should have been a dead give away. Moreover, as a historian addressing a predominately Gentile audience, Doctor Luke—no doubt—measured his words carefully so as not to rise give unnecessarily to pagan superstitions.

Finally, as with Mark, the fact that Matthew only references one angel does not preclude the fact that two angels were present. After reading the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke or John, for that matter, there is ample data by which a real historian can determine that the man described by Mark was indeed an angel and that “men in clothes that gleamed as lighting” were angelic, and that though Matthew only mentions an angel, he clearly does not preclude the possibility that another was present.

Contra Ehrman then, what credible scholars look for is core set of reliable facts that either validate or invalidate historical accounts. Here, as elsewhere in the Gospels, one can objectively conclude that the core set of facts presented by the Gospel writers are authentic and reliable.


[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York, Harper One, 2009), 8.

[2] Ibid.

The Bible Under Siege

I’ve said it before and let me say it again, the Bible is under siege. It is under siege in the classroom, the media, in the books we read, in entertainment, and on the Web. If you are a genuine believer in Jesus Christ, you had better wake up to that fact. As you know, over the last couple weeks I’ve been talking about a professor Ehrman, who is bent on demonstrating that the Bible is hopelessly riddled with discrepancies that Jesus Christ was a false prophet[1], and that the Bible simply cannot be trusted as the infallible repository of redemptive revelation.

Now I don’t have a personal ax to grind with Professor Ehrman, I don’t even know him, but I have a completely different mission. He talks about how “the more conservative students–– resist for a long time, secure in their knowledge that God would not allow any falsehoods into a sacred book, but before long, as students see more and more of the evidence, many of them find that their faith in the inerrant and absolute historical truthfulness of the Bible begins to waver."[2] My goal is not to cause students to lose their faith; my goal is to cause students to find their faith. To trust the Bible—and I am particularly focused on this goal right now in that we are reading and recognizing on the basis of research that the vast majority of kids that come from conservative evangelical homes are walking away from the faith. Some say 75% of them[3], Josh McDowell said it could be upwards of 94% of them[4], which is to say that only 6% of them survive the onslaught against the Bible and the historic Christian faith.

So I’ve been devoting some time to demonstrated that the supposed discrepancies are just that, supposed.

According to Professor Ehrman, the first of the key discrepancies with respect to the resurrection involves the female or females who allegedly discovered the empty tomb. Ehrman writes, “Who actually went to the tomb? Was it Mary alone (John 20:1)? Mary and another Mary (Matthew 28:1)? Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1)? Or the women who had accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem––possibly Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the Mother of James, and ‘other women’ (Luke 24:1, see 23:55)."[5]

Well, it all depends on what Gospel you read, and in responding to a dogmatist, who has made a virtual art form out of exploiting the discrepancies in the secondary details of these Gospels, a number of thoughts spring immediately to mind. Let me share them with you.

First, it’s helpful to recognize that the gospels are complementary rather than contradictory. If John had stipulated that Mary Magdalene was the only female to discover the empty tomb, and the other Gospels had claimed more than one women was involved in the process, we’d be faced with a genuine contradiction. Instead the complementary details provided by the four gospel writers simply, as Paul Harvey used to say, flesh out the “rest of the story.”

Furthermore, credible scholars are always looking for a reliable core set of facts in order to validate historical accounts. In this case, liberal and conservative historians agree that the body of Jesus was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. As credible scholars have noted a member of the Jewish court that condemned Christ to death is an unlikely candidate for Christian fiction.[6]

Additionally, when we consider the role of women in 1st century Jewish society, what’s remarkable is that the empty tomb accounts feature female as hero’s of the story in the first place. This, of course, demonstrates that the gospel writers factually recorded what happened even if it was culturally embarrassing.

One final point, if each of the gospel writers presented secondary details in exactly the same way, Professor Ehrman would no doubt dismiss their accounts on the basis of collusion. Instead of course the gospels provide unique yet mutually consistent perspectives on the events surrounding the empty tomb.

These principles not only revolve and resolve the conundrum I’m discussing now, but include all the supposed resurrection contradictions that are highlighted by Ehrman in his latest book. Indeed, we can safely conclude that far from being contradictory that the gospel accounts are clearly complementary, that a consensus of credible scholarship consider the core set of facts presented by the gospel writers to be authentic and reliable, and that the unique perspectives provided by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John preclude the possibly of collusion.


[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 244.

[2] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York, Harper One, 2009), 6.

[3] Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, “Youth ministry summit to explore mass exodus of young from churches” This news release cites LifeWay Christian Resources’ Glenn Schultz in his book Kingdom Education on the 75% number. (

[4] North American Mission Board, “Studies Show that Once Students Graduate from High School They Struggle With Their Faith”, this News Article cites McDowell’s 94% statistic. (

[5] Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted, 48.

[6] Raymond Brown as quoted in Wilkens, Michael J. and J.P. Moreland, eds., Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 148.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Friday

As you know last Friday we celebrated Good Friday. We celebrated the fatal suffering of Jesus Christ as recounted in the New Testament. This is one of the most well established facts of ancient history. The reason we can say we celebrate the brutal death of Jesus Christ is because, as we celebrated on Sunday, Jesus Christ rose again. Imagine that, when you take communion you celebrate the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ, but you do it with joy, because of the resurrection.

For Good Friday, though it is appropriate to remember that the best medical minds of ancient and modern times have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ’s physical trauma was fatal.[1] His torment began in the Garden of Gethsemane after the emotional Last Supper. There Jesus experienced a medical condition known as hematidrosis. Tiny capillaries in His sweat glands ruptured, mixing sweat and blood. As a result, Christ’s skin became extremely fragile.

The same night, Jesus was betrayed by Judas, disowned by Peter, and arrested by the temple guard. Before Caiaphas the high priest, He was mocked, beaten, and spat upon. The next morning, Jesus, battered, bruised, and bleeding, was led into the Praetorium. There Jesus was stripped and subjected to the brutality of Roman flogging. A whip replete with razor-sharp bones and lead balls reduced His body to quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. As Christ slumped into the pool of His own blood, the soldiers threw a scarlet robe across His shoulders, thrust a scepter into His hands, and pressed sharp thorns into His scalp.

After they mocked Him, they took the scepter out of His hand, and repeatedly struck Him on the head. Now Jesus was in critical condition. A heavy wooden beam was thrust upon Christ’s bleeding body, and He was led away to a place called Golgotha. There the Lord experienced ultimate physical torture in the form of the cross. The Roman system of crucifixion has been fine-tuned to produce maximum pain. In fact, the word excruciating (literally “out of the cross”) had to be invented to fully codify its horror.[2]

At “the place of the skull,” the Roman soldiers drove thick, seven inch iron spikes through Christ’s hands[3] and feet. Waves of pain pulsated through Christ’s body as the nails lacerated His nerves. Breathing became an agonizing endeavor as Christ pushed His tortured body upward to grasp small gulps of air. In the ensuing hours, He experienced cycles of joint-wrenching cramps, intermittent asphyxiation, and excruciating pain as His lacerated back moved up and down against the rough timber of the cross.

As the chill of death crept through His body, Jesus cried out, “‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?–––which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?””(Matthew 27:46). And in that anguished cry was encapsulated the greatest agony of all. For on the cross, Christ bore the sin and suffering of all humanity. And then with His passion complete, Jesus gave up His spirit.

Shortly, thereafter, a Roman legionnaire drove his spear through the fifth inter-space between the ribs, upward through the pericardium, and into Christ’s heart. From the wound rushed forth blood and water, demonstrating conclusively that Jesus had suffered fatal torment.

Jesus Christ, who spoke and the universe leap into existence, was willing to lay prostrate in the pool of His blood before His creation. He was the creator and yet willing to lay in the pool of his own blood because He loved us so much He wanted a relationship with us, not only for time but also for eternity. A relationship purchased by His passion on the cross.

Those of us who have been redeemed know that Christ is more real than the very skin upon our bones. We know beyond the peradventure of a doubt that Christ has left us here for a purpose. We have received the greatest of all gifts and we now have an opportunity to share that gift with those who so desperately need it. God ordains the ends as well as the means and you are the means through which the Holy Spirit moves in the process of changing lives. The goal of equipping God’s people to make a difference was highlighted in a recent book we had on the Bible Answer Man that I hope you will check out. It’s called, Golf’s Sacred Journey: Seven Day at the Links of Utopia. It’s a great book on how you can change and influence someone’s life for Christ.


[1] All the following medical data and descriptions concerning Christ’s suffering are adapted from C. Truman Davis, “The Crucifixion of Jesus: The Passion of Christ from a Medial Point of View,” Arizona Medicine (March 1965): 183-187; and William D. Edwards, Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On The Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” The Journal of the American Medical Association (21 March 1986): 1455-63.

[2] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998), 197-198.

[3] More specifically, the spikes were driven through Christ’s wrists, which in Jewish understanding were part of the hands.

Critiquing Ehrman on Jesus’ Cleaning Of The Temple

In his latest book titled, Jesus Interrupted, Bart Ehrman— who is now a media darling—says that “the Bible is filled with discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable contradictions, Moses did not write the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not write the gospels…the exodus probably did not happen as described in the Old Testament. The conquest of the Promised Land is probably based on legend…its hard to know whether Moses actually existed and what, exactly the historical Jesus taught. The historical narratives of the Old Testament are filled with legendary fabrications and the book of Acts in the New Testament contains historically unreliable information…”[1] and, on and on he goes. Then in his book, he cites a litany of discrepancies and errors, some of which caused him to transition from a fundamentalist Christian to a happy agnostic. Now his mission in life is to shake the faith of his students.

One of the alleged inconsistencies that he cites in his book is that the gospel of Mark indicates that it was in the last week of Jesus’ life when he cleansed the temple by overturning the tables of the money changers, saying; “This is to be a house of prayer but you’ve made it a den of thieves.” Whereas, according to Ehrman, the gospel of John says that this happened at the very beginning of John. Then Ehrman says, “some readers have thought that Jesus must have cleansed the temple twice, once at the beginning of his ministry and once at the end. But that would mean that neither Mark nor John tells the “true” story, since in both accounts he cleanses the temple only once.” He further asks, “Moreover, is this reconciliation of the two accounts historically plausible? If Jesus made a disruption of the temple in the beginning of his ministry, why wasn’t he arrested by the authorities then?” He concludes with the following dogmatic assertion, “Historically speaking then the accounts are not reconcilable.”[2]

Well is Professor Ehrman right? Is this just one more in a litany of errors made by a pseudomonas gospel writer, or this just indicative of a professor gone wild? I would first say, in answer to that question, it is not only uncharitable but unquestionably wrong headed to suggest that neither Mark nor John—who by the way Ehrman demeans as illiterate—would be telling the true story had the temple been cleansed twice. As is no doubt obvious to the even the most unlettered of Ehrman’s students, neither Gospel writer provides an exhaustive account of everything Jesus said or did. As the apostle John indicates in hyperbolic parlance, no doubt lost on a wooden literalist like Bart Ehrman, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25).

Furthermore, the gospel of John itself provides a more than historically plausible insight as to why Jesus might not have been arrested during initial temple cleansing. The proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back leading to the arrest and trial of Jesus would—quite logically would have—resulted from a late, not an early temple cleansing. Not only so, but as the gospel of John makes clear, the Jewish leaders did not arrest Jesus in the early stages of his ministries for fear of the multitudes who were in awe of Christ’s teaching and miracles.

One final point, as even a cursory reading reveals John kairologically orders his gospel by theme. I think that is an important point. John as such says, the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, which fulfills the Old Testament promise that God’s glory would again return to his temple. Moreover, John reinterprets the meaning of Passover by reveling Jesus as the quintessential Passover. As such it would be logically, and I would say, charitable to surmised that John might introduce his account of Christ’s temple cleansing early in his Gospel narrative and within a context in which Jesus is reveled as the substance that fulfills the types and shadows of temple priests and sacrifice.

While such a notion does not sit well with a fundamentalist reading of scripture, it accords well with the nuanced and highly sophisticated reckoning of time particular to the ancients. A kairological interpretation, which reckons time not in terms of our familiar chronological ordering, but in terms of a quality of purpose in which an event is said to occur at just the right time. In other words, even if there was just one temple cleansing, one might logically assume that John communicates it kairologically, as opposed to chronologically.

Of the course the very fact a number of plausible resolutions have been forwarded precludes the charge that the gospel accounts are in fact contradictory.

So, Bart Ehrman set this up as a way of dissuading his students, particularly the ones he calls his conservative students, from believing that the Bible is the infallible repository of redemptive revelation. He writes, “some students accept these new views from day one. Others––especially those among the more conservative students––resist for a long time secure in their knowledge that God would not allow any falsehoods into a sacred book, but before long as students see more and more of the evidence many of them find that their faith in the inerrant and absolute historical truthfulness of the Bible begins to waver.”[3] This is of course his goal, he’s shaking the faith of his students, because he wants them to know what he thinks is true, and that is that the Bible is riddled with errors.

[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York, Harper One, 2009) 5-6.

[2] Ibid., 7

[3] Ibid. 6

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus, Interrupted by Bart Ehrman

When I walked into my office on April 1st, I spotted a new book atop my large pile of books to read. This book was provocatively titled: Jesus, Interrupted, boasting the subtitle Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them). My first inclination in perusing through the pages of the book was this must be an elaborate “April Fools Day” joke. Surely, no professor, especially one tenured as a distinguished professor of religious studies at the prestigious University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, could suffer from such simplistic, closed minded, black/white stereotypical fundamentalism.

Yet, the more I read, the more it became apparent the Professor Bart D. Ehrman was hardly writing tongue-in-cheek. He seemed genuinely distraught that few pastors and even fewer church leaders had followed him in his literalistic walk-on-all-fours fundamentalist reading of the Biblical text.

As evidenced in the book, he recalls doing a four-week series in a Presbyterian church in North Carolina in which he reveled the hidden contradictions of the Bible. When he got done, he says a dear elderly old lady came up to me, and asked me in frustration, “Why have I never heard this before?” Ehrman recalls in the book gazing across the fellowship hall at the Presbyterian pastor and wondering why had that pastor never told that elderly lady? Was this pastor beset by some type of patronizing attitude that, Ehrman says, is so disturbingly common? Was he afraid to make waves? Was he afraid that historical information might destroy the faith of his congregation? Was he afraid that church leaders might not take kindly to the dissemination of that kind of information? Did church leaders actually put pressure on him to stick to the devotional meaning of the Bible and not tell his parishioners about all of its mistakes? Was he perhaps concerned about job security?[1]

Well in the litany of distasteful motives that flooded through Ehrman’s mind that day one thought surly eluded him, perhaps the pastor had carefully considered Ehrman’s regurgitated revelations and found them wanting. Perhaps, unlike Ehrman’s students at the University of North Carolina, the pastor knew that there was nothing particular in terms of new or troubling information in Ehrman’s hidden contradictions.

Well, the Presbyterian pastor might have well seen through Ehrman’s apparent contradictions, the truth is that most Christians in a largely biblically illiterate culture have not. As such Ehrman is succeeding in his stated mission to shake the faith of multitudes. In fact, he seems to be particularly proud of causing the faith of many of his students to waver. He overtly writes this in the book, “the more conservative students–– resist for a long time, secure in their knowledge that God would not allow any falsehoods into a sacred book. But before long as students see more and more of the evidence many of them find that their faith in the inerrant and absolute historical truthfulness of the Bible begins to waver.” [2]

Well as this Professor Gone Wild has managed to shake the faith of multitudes in the classroom. It is troubling that he is now succeeding in shaking the faith of multitudes in the culture as well. He’s doing it through Dateline, CNN, History Channel, and NPR. He’s systematically forwarding the notion that the Bible is not only hopelessly contradictory but in his opinion a dangerous book in which to believe.

He’s gone as far as to say that had we embraced The Gospel of Judas, which he loves, instead of the Gospel of John, which he doesn’t have much love for, we might well have avoided nothing less than the Holocaust itself.[3] He not only ascribes anti-Semitic motives to John but he attributes apocalyptic sophistry to Jesus.[4] As such he holds that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who was misguided in predicting that his generation would experience the end of the world. By the way, he’s so enamored with the Gospel of Judas that in his view had we embraced its perspective we might well have never seen the death of six million Jews. That from a man who was converted to faith through Youth for Christ, received a diploma from Moody Bible Institute, received an undergraduate degree from Wheaton College and studied at Princeton. [5]

It is absolutely incredible to read his book where he says, “the Bible is filled with discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable contradictions, Moses did not write the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not write the gospels…the exodus probably did not happen as described in the Old Testament. The conquest of the Promised Land is probably based on legend…its hard to know whether Moses actually existed and what, exactly the historical Jesus taught. The historical narratives of the Old Testament are filled with legendary fabrications and the book of Acts in the New Testament contains historically unreliable information…”[6]

This list goes on and on but over the next few days, weeks and months I’m going to address some of these contradictions, some of which he says have changed him from a fundamentalist Christian to a happy agnostic, and I’m gonna deal with them and demonstrate that their not inconsistencies at all. He is simply in many cases either playing a rigged game or knocking down straw men. This is one of the many reasons that the mission and ministry of the Christian Research Institute must exist in these days.


[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York, Harper One, 2009). 13-14.

[2] Ibid.,6

[3] Gospel of Judas, National Geographic Channel, aired April 16, 2006, see (accessed April 9.2009).

[4] Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 244.

[5] Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed The Bible and Why (San Franciso: HarperSanFranciso, 2005), 1-8.

[6] Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted, 5-6.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Big Message of the Old Testament

In our journey through the Legacy Study Bible reading plan, in the spring we read through the Hebrew history of the Old Testament starting with Joshua.

In our reading back during the winter in Genesis, we found a poignant and profound picture of the fall of Adam into a life of perpetual sin and his banishment from paradise. He is relegated to restlessness and wandering, separated from intimacy and fellowship with his Creator. Then the very chapter that references the fall, records the divine plan for restoration of fellowship. That plan takes on definition with God’s promise to make Abram a great nation through which all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Abraham’s call therefore is the divine antidote to Adam’s fall.

God’s promise that Abraham’s children would inherit the Promised Land was but a preliminary step in a progressive plan through which Abram and the heirs of Abraham would inherit a better country—a heavenly country. That plan comes into sharp focus when we see Moses leading Abram’s descendents out of their 400 year bondage in Egypt. Through 40 years of wilderness wanderings, God tabernacled with His people and He prepared them for the land of promise.

Like Abraham however, Moses only saw promise for afar; but when you start to read the book of Joshua, you will see God’s plan taking on tangible reality, as Joshua leads the children of Israel into Palestine. The wandering of Adam, Abraham, and Moses finally give way to rest on every side. So Joshua was able to say, “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed: every one was fulfilled.” (Joshua 21:45).

So as Adam would fall in paradise, Abraham’s descents would fall in Palestine. Thus Joshua’s words in his final farewell take on ominous reality, “But just as every good promise of God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the evil He threatened, until He has destroyed you from this good land, He has given you. If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God… you will quickly perish from the good land He has given you.” (Joshua 23:15-16).

Though the land promises reached their zenith under Solomon, the land eventually vomited out the children of the promise just as it vomited out the Canaanites before them. During the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles the wanderings experience by Adam were once again experienced by the descents of Abram.

Of course, God’s promises to Abraham were far from exhausted because Palestine was but a preliminary phase in a patriarchal promise. God would make Abram not just the father of a nation but Abram would become Abraham the father of many nations. Abram would be heir of the world. The climax of the promise would not be Palestine regained but something far greater, it would be paradise restored—as God had promised Abraham real estate, so too He has promised him a Royal Seed. Joshua led the children of Israel into the regions of Palestine, but Jesus—the Royal Seed of Abraham—will one day lead his children into the restoration of paradise.

The point here is simply to say as you read through Joshua, remember you are on a continuing journey through the Bible, which is God’s unfolding plan of redemption. It starts with paradise and the loss of paradise and it ends with paradise restored. A New Jerusalem, not the old Jerusalem, but a New Jerusalem that Paul says, “is free and she is our mother.” (Gal. 4:26) Paradise lost becomes Paradise restored, and that is what each and every one who loves Jesus Christ had to look forward too.

Word of Faith Revisionism

The current issue of the Christian Research Journal cover story is Christianity in Crisis 21st Century. The book was released this month so that’s the feature article.

Have you ever wondered why prosperity preachers redefine faith as a force? Why they attempt to talk devotees into believing that Adam was an exact duplicate of God—no difference, no distinction? Why perpetuate the pretext that every born-again person is as much an incarnation as was Jesus Christ of Nazareth? What’s the point?

Well, the answer may surprise you. Turning the Gospel of grace into a gospel of greed takes a complete revision of what Faith preachers describe as “traditional Christianity.” Jesse Duplantis is a classic case in point. Addressing Cornerstone pastor and televangelist John Hagee, Duplantis explains that God is his comforter “because when you got some stuff, it brings you comfort.” Jesse’s reasoning is remarkable to put it mildly.

After clarifying that he is not just a millionaire but a multimillionaire, Jesse says to Hagee, “The Lord, I give him the glory, is my comforter. If he is my comforter, Dr. Hagee, I live in comfort. That’s not only spiritually—that’s physically too. Because when you’ve got some stuff it brings you comfort.” Jesse goes on to pontificate that those who would say otherwise “know nothing about the Bible.” With great aplomb he claims to quote Jesus saying, “The destruction of the poor is their poverty” and challenges those who “know nothing about the Bible” to “explain that!”[1] Talk about biblical revisionism!

Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). The Lord then told His disciples the parable of the rich fool who was looking to his possessions for security (vv. 16–21). Jesus did not condemn possessions, but instead pointed out the foolishness of a temporary rather than an eternal perspective. Not mincing words, Jesus quoted His Father as saying to the rich man, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you” (v. 20). The Master’s command was always the same: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matt. 6:33).

How unlike the message of Duplantis and company! They relentlessly hawk the idea that prosperity is the divine right of every believer—a brand of “Christianity” that is little more than baptized greed garbed in a thin veneer of “Christianese.”

Instead, Jesus said, “Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort. Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry” (Luke 6:24–25). As such, His message is the inverse of that of Duplantis, who pontificates that “poverty is a curse,”[2] or of Hagee who likewise communicates that “poverty is a curse” and that “it is the result of sin.”[3]

Christianity In Crisis 21st Century explores a brand new cadre of faith teachers who have rock star platforms and they command the attention of media moguls. They have platforms that the old faith teachers in the 20th century could only have dreamed of. Their message is proliferating like wild fire. It’s all about having faith in your faith instead of having faith in your God. It is a complete distortion of the biblical message and it now so pervasive that I had to write Christianity In Crisis 21st Century to combat the errors that have gone through a metamorphosis, and have in fact gone from bad to worse. Error begets error and heresy begets heresy and that is precisely what has happened in the faith movement.

Personal Testimony of Someone Coming Out of the Word of Faith Movement

Over the past couple of decades I have received hundreds of letters from people who have fled the Word of Faith movement. These letters tell heart-rending stories of the sick being told that their sickness is a direct result of their sin.

One such letter is the personal testimony of a woman who was blind from birth. After she came to faith in Christ she joined a church that had been infiltrated by the Faith Movement. It wasn’t long before they were instructing her to confess perfect sight and commanded God to honor His word. When nothing happened, they began to denounce this woman for her lack of faith. They said that something was in her life that hindered God’s will. They said God was held up because of some point of sin or disobedience that He just couldn’t get around until the women straightened up.

This dear lady went on to write that she had spent many hours and many sleepless nights agonizing over this issue. She then became depressed and began to lose her joy. She even felt that there was no use in praying to God anymore. Some Sundays she would stay away from church, because she felt like an outsider in God’s family, watching his pet children get blessed because of their faith. She said “If I was doing or not doing something that hindered God I was at a loss trying to discern what it was.” She continued that she would cry out to God in despair, “What do you want me to do?”

In time she discovered that God had never forsaken her and that her blindness was not a result of her sin. The real problem was not the lack of her faith, but the Faith follower’s lack of understanding. When she came to that realization, she said she felt like a different person. She finally recognized that in Jesus’ eyes she was whole, and that she was still as important to Him as she had been at the beginning of their relationship, and determined that no one was ever again going to take that joy away from her.

Very astutely she observed the real motivation behind the Faith Movement and that was that she discovered that many people wanted to see her healed or pretend to be healed because her blindness upset their theological applecart. She said, “It’s hard to believe in their beliefs when a disabled person who thanks God for disability comes along. It’s as if their faith won’t stand up, if I don’t go along with their agenda. I believe that they wanted my healing for their own sake, not mine. It might sound harsh, but I don’t think they have a thumbnail of faith.”

She closed her letter with the following,

I want the staff here at Christian Research Institute and the Bible Answer Man broadcast to know that I heartily support your stand concerning this issue. It’s a killer, a spiritual cancer. It grieves me that so few in the body of Christ are willing to listen to the truth that you and the ministry so diligently put forth. I pray God will continually encourage you and direct your path through criticisms and denouncements. I almost didn’t hear the truth in time.

There in lies the problem, there are so many people that are following the faith movement, and they’re in the churches for a while, and then fall out of the back doors of the movement— often times into the kingdom of the cults. They don’t know who to trust or what to believe.