Some Thought-Provoking Articles by Kevin DeYoung

I believe active, critical thought is an absolute necessity for a follower of Christ to practice while consuming any form of media. A Christian’s worldview should effect not only how the view things, but what they choose to view.

This last August (2017) Kevin DeYoung made some very important and accurate observations about American Christianity and its inability to THINK about what it consumes – let alone offers praise for…

And his first post was: “I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones”

Which spawned a firestorm that caused him to write this incredibly good and pointed piece: “One More Time on ‘Game of Thrones'”

And since it is based from the same topic… I thought I’d also share this article posted at Desiring God in June of 2014 that I found amazingly helpful and convicting at the time: “Twelve Questions to Ask Before You Watch ‘Game of Thrones'”

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Believer’s authority – Part 5

A continuing critique challenging the assumptions and biblical interpretations of Kenneth Hagin’s “The Believer’s Authority”

In chapter three of his book “The Believer’s Authority” Kenneth Hagin introduces the primary presumptive formula for where this false doctrine is supposedly found in Scripture.

He starts the chapter by quoting Matthew 28:18 (page 19) – and then makes this statement:

“When Christ ascended, He transferred His authority to the Church. He is the Head of the Church, and believers make up the Body. Christ’s authority has to be perpetuated through His Body, which is on the earth.” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 19)

Notice the complete baselessness of Hagin’s claims – namely, that “Christ’s authority has to be perpetuated through His Body…” He quotes a passage ABOUT JESUS and suddenly turns toward “us” (the believers). Now, he technically is going to try and “establish” these ideas throughout the course of the chapter – however, he will be completely unable to provide us with a Biblical text that actually teaches what he tries to teach. He must rely primarily upon twisted inferences and bald-faced claims that have no support in any portion of Scripture.

For the rest of pages 19 and 20 he will directly quote Ephesians 1:18-23 and Colossians 2:15, interspersing them with somewhat true statements about Jesus’ work on the cross and His victory over “sin, death, and Satan.”

But he does all of this under the assumption that this all has relevance because it gives the believer this mystical superpower he calls “authority.”

“The source of our authority is found in this resurrection and exalting of Christ by God. Notice in the eighteenth verse [of Ephesians 1] that the Holy Spirit through Paul prays that the eyes of the Ephesians’ understanding—their spirits—might be opened to these truths. He wanted all churches—all believers—to be enlightened. The truth of the authority of the believer, however, is overlooked by many Christians. In fact, most churches don’t even know the believer has any authority!” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 21)

Notice that Hagin forces his own doctrine and idea into the text of Ephesians. He provided no actual context or exegesis of Paul’s words, but wrote as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world that Paul had the “believer’s authority” in mind when he wrote the Epistle.

In actual fact, if you read Ephesians properly – as in you look for THE INTENT OF THE AUTHOR – you will find Paul’s primary aim (especially in the beginning of the letter) is the glory of God in the gospel and Christ’s work on behalf of His people. Nowhere would an honest reading of the book imply a doctrine of “authority” belonging to the believer on Christ’s behalf.

But notice the craftiness of what Hagin has done in the paragraph quoted above. Not only had he been trying to force an assumption into the reader’s mind throughout the first chapters of the book, but here he tried to twist Paul’s prayer that the Ephesians would understand and know things about God in Christ to somehow mean that Paul wanted them to know about this false doctrine.

And in case someone caught the fact that Hagin contorted the text in order to change it to mean what he wanted he added: “You never will understand the authority of the believer only with your intellect; you must get the spiritual revelation of it. You must believe it by faith.” (Page 21)

I would caution the reader that any statement like that – made by anyone in any context – should cause sirens, warning bells, and red flags to signal in the thinking person’s mind. Historic, orthodox Christianity never demands that we jettison our brains. However, Word-Faithism tends to be utterly anti-intellectual for the exact reason that its false doctrines and lies about Scripture begin to fall apart the moment we start to use the thinking faculties God gave us and seek to understand what God intended through the authors of Holy Writ, instead of looking for things we would like to have the text speak to.

After this Hagin quotes Ephesians 2:1-7 and tries to correlate our justification in Christ’s resurrection as having to do with the false doctrine he is purporting.

“Notice that the Head (Christ) and the Body (the Church) were raised together. Furthermore, this authority was conferred not only upon the Head, but also upon the Body, because the Head and the Body are one. (When you think of a person, you think of his head and body as one.)” – Kenneth Hagin, “The Believer’s Authority” (page 22)

Notice that Hagin has conflated the ideas of Ephesians 1:20-23 and 2:6. Hagin has essentially turned “the believer” into Christ Himself, instead of the object that Christ has saved and justified as Paul has laid out.

The very phrasing in Ephesians 1:22 excludes the kind of conflation of “authority” that Hagin is advocating: “And he(God, the Father) put all things under his(Jesus) feet and gave him(Jesus) as head over all things to the church(believers),” – although the metaphor of “body” is used in the following verse, there is nothing here that implies that God is sharing His “authority” with anyone but Himself.

The same goes for Ephesians 2:6, because – although it does speak to our association with Christ – the very next verse implies a very real “not yet” (or eschatological) nature to the idea when it says: “so that IN THE COMING AGES he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (emphasis mine)… all of this to re emphasize the fact that, if we read Ephesians with the desire to see what Paul intended to communicate, we will see God’s awesome graciousness toward His children in Christ; how they are hidden and justified in Christ, and how salvation is all the work of God and NOT men… nowhere will we find the silly idea of the believer commandeering Christ’s authority for their own use.

At this point I would ask the reader an honest question: would it not be reasonable to assume (since Paul is building – or “rebuilding” as the case probably was – an understanding of soteriology in Ephesians) that if Paul had any desire for believers in Jesus to make demands of God and Satan based on some “authority” that they possess because they are basically just an extension of Christ, that he would have written a little more clear and extensive teaching on the matter? After all, he moves into advice about proper sanctified living and even gives specific advice to husbands, wives, children, and slaves and masters on how they should carry out their God-given callings… why not give us some specific instruction about our authority, if it’s such a big deal?

The answer is what I have asserted throughout the course of this post: the false doctrine of the “believer’s authority” is not actually taught in Scripture. The most it’s adherents can come up with is twisted inferences that ignore context and require absurd assumptions about the meanings of metaphors and analogies.

Hagin had more to say on this key pillar of the doctrine in his third chapter, however, this post has run a bit long, so I’ll pause here and pick it up another time.

In closing I would again plead with the reader (if you have been influenced by the Word of Faith movement in general, or by Kenneth Hagin’s ideas specifically), ask questions that get at the heart of what you assume when you read Scripture. Don’t let anyone tell you a text means something unless they can substantiate it from the flow and substance of the entirety of the passage they say their idea comes from – and even then, ask if their idea is a historical one(long held throughout church history), or if it is an aberration from what orthodox Christianity has always taught. And any number of questions you can think of to “test the spirit” of an idea. (1 John 4:1)

Please do not fall into the snares of wrong and dangerous thinking encouraged by the lies and delusions of the Word-Faithers.

Believer’s Authority – Part 4

Continuing a critical examination of Kenneth Hagin’s book: “The Believer’s Authority”

“What is Authority?” – Chapter 2 of “The Believer’s Authority”

Now, to be honest, I could probably write an entire essay on the term “authority” and how it is used in the New Testament (as it relates to the disciple of Christ) – especially in relation to challenging the false assumptions and teachings espoused in pages 15 through 18 of Hagin’s book, The Believer’s Authority. However, I believe that Hagin’s presuppositions and questions are so shallow that anyone with eyes to see can easily point to the holes in his arguments and statements – as far as simple language and reality are concerned – and so I will not bother to waste time on semantics (unless a reader has questions to that effect – in which case, feel free to leave a comment, and we can talk). I will, however, address the passages of Scripture that he references in his second chapter and where necessary I will quote and challenge his conclusions.

So the first passage that Hagin actually quotes at any length and discusses in his second chapter is Luke 10:19

Here is the verse: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

And here is the verse in context (both are quotations from the ESV):

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.
“The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” ~ Luke 10:1-24

Again leaving alone the semantics, there are a few interesting things about this section of Holy Writ that I believe should cause anyone to pause before buying the assumptions thrown at us by Hagin.

First there is who the phrase Hagin actually quotes is addressed to, i.e. the seventy-two disciples. Now, judging from Luke’s refrain from using the word “disciple” in reference to “the seventy-two,” (and the way verse 23 begins) I do not think this group included those who would eventually be called the apostles. However, that has little to do with the specifics of this point – aside from the question of why these “seventy-two” never appear again in Scripture, if they were the only ones these words (verse 19) applied to.

My primary hang up on this “who the words were addressed to” point is the phrase “and nothing shall hurt you”… that phrase most obviously – out of everything here – could not have been meant literally/physically as far as it’s broader application goes (I.e. to Christians today)… and, to an extent, at some point the words stopped being true for this group (especially if the apostles were counted among them), because they all eventually died in some manner or another – and the apostles at least (if they were included) were eventually “hurt” in many ways by others, many of them eventually being martyred.

But Hagin makes no attempt in pages 15-18 of his book to deal with these “problems” in the Biblical text. He simply assumes the words apply to him and begins to develop a doctrine entirely based upon that one verse completely removed from its context.

Now, one would think that I’d be happy that a few paragraphs into developing this doctrine he says “God himself is the power behind our authority!” (Which is true, especially in an appropriate understanding of the “authority” spoken of in Luke 10:19) But his next words point out what is wrong with that sentence: “The devil and his forces are obliged to recognize our authority!” (Page 15)

The primary problem with Hagin’s words is his use of “our.” This possessive view of what Jesus spoke of is part of what what Jesus rebukes in verse 20! Although a form of “ownership” (if you will) was involved in what was given to the seventy-two – Jesus left no room for development upon his words, and directed the thoughts of the disciples toward the great goodness of God and His gracious salvation.

But Hagin again fore goes a thoughtful argument for his idea and simply rambles off into a silly illustration about “delegated power” and how police officers exemplify his idea before mentioning Ephesians 6:10(page 16) as if that had anything to do with the false doctrine Hagin was trying to develop.

In the last half of his second chapter, Hagin provided an unverifiable story about himself that he seems to think proved his conclusions. After telling us about a dream and basically demanding that we believe his interpretation of it being a “vision from the Lord” (page 16 & 17) he quotes (in part, mind you) 1 Peter 5:8-9. I believe the entirety of the passage destroys his attempt to twist it to his own ends, so I will quote it for you here:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-11 (ESV)

NOTE: the reader really should read the entirety of Peter’s first Epistle to have the whole context of what the apostle is saying in the passage above.

One immediate red flag is Hagin’s deliberate omission of the majority of verse 9 in his own quotation of the text(page 17). But anyone can see that Hagin CANNOT quote the text in full and maintain his false doctrine.

First, the rest of verse 9 implies that the original recipients of Peter’s Epistle were experiencing some form of suffering, and they should find comfort in knowing others in the Church suffered similar things. And Peter is using “the devil” as a warning for them to persist in the faith and resist temptation (whether it came directly from Satan or not) because if they did not stand firm, Peter reminds them, the devil (or even sin itself, if we take the analogy from Genesis) prowls around, looking to devour anyone who gives in to temptation… but there is NOTHING in the text that suggests that Peter expects his readers to go around making demands, giving commands, or even actively “battling” the devil to get rid of the suffering that seems to be somewhat attributed (at least in part) to him. We are simply to trust God for His ultimate deliverance, and be vigilant to stand firm in the faith and struggle forward in the Spirit’s empowering sanctification.

Now there is FAR more to the text than I can cover, but I think it is clear enough – having made the observations I have – that it has nothing to do with Hagin’s point on page 17 of his book.

Hagin again quotes Ephesians 6:10 as if it has something to do with his doctrine (which it might in his own mind, but certainly not in that of the apostle), and also tacks a quotation of 1 John 4:4 on to the end of his chapter(pg 18), obviously think it too – as out of context as it is – in some way reinforces his false doctrine. However, I’m sure the reader can see and reject the blatant eisegesis being used to substantiate something that has no Biblical substance.

So, to close;
1: I again implore the reader to demand a reason for why we should accept Hagin’s or any Word-Faither’s assumptions about these texts upon which they build their doctrine of the believer’s “authority.”
2: Never trust an interpretation of a text that ignores the ORIGINAL INTENT and CONTEXT of the passage and the author.

Finally, there is a short “prophecy” given at the end of Hagin’s second chapter(pg 18) that should cause any critically thinking and Biblically educated disciple to balk at Hagin’s blasphemous audacity.
After all of his poor “proof-texting” and eisegetical quotation without providing substantial reason for the belief he was putting forth, basically Hagin says “now I’m going to write some Scripture at the end here that assumes and proves what I’ve already said.”

The blatantly manipulative and/or “deceiving and being deceived” nature of the last paragraph of the second chapter of “the believer’s authority” alone should give anyone pause before swallowing Hagin’s kool-aid.

The Silliness of “Saying ‘No’ to Sickness” – Some Additional Thoughts

Another idea given in the message I mentioned in my last post was “you are filled up in order to be poured out.” Basically the idea being, “God wants you to be healthy for the sake of others.” — which is a pious way to say “we shouldn’t have to learn self-control, or be self-sacrificing unless we’re comfortable before we do it.”

Or at least, that’s how it comes across to me. I honestly have heard professing believers use this line of reasoning outside of the context of the particular message that sparked these posts – but in every instance it sounds like a childish desire to avoid actual self-denial and true suffering.

Nothing in Scripture implies to me that the Christian has any right to desire to be more healthy than they are in the moment they are called upon to preach, serve, or sacrifice.

Now, I believe that God condescends to miraculously heal us at times, but it comes down to having our view of God’s graciousness to heal balanced out by a Scriptural view of God’s graciousness to help in suffering.

Scriptural Examination of the Use of “if the Lord wills” in Prayer

I have heard – far more often than I’d care to admit – so many wolves in sheep’s clothing discourage their followers from using some form of “if it be your will” in their prayers to God.

I would submit to the reader the idea that it is NEVER permissible to discourage anyone from praying “if it is the LORD’s will.”

Now, the reason I put forth this idea is that I believe Scripture teaches the seeking of God’s will over and above our own in our prayers and day to day actions.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” ~ James 4:13-17 (ESV) (I would encourage the reader to also investigate the context of this passage; chapters 4 & 5… better yet read the entire Epistle of James)

The passage above is located in the greater context of rebuking “worldliness” among the people of God, but James’ specific idea follows the thought of the Psalmist (Psalm 39:5 & 62:9) that men are about as substantial as smoke or a thin mist – in the grand scheme of things the individual means next to nothing. Therefore, how arrogant is it for someone to assume they know how their lives will go or even how to make their lives go that way? Especially when they cannot possibly know the minute specifics of the Will of God in their lives? Thus, as God fearing worshippers, we should acknowledge and submit to the overarching and/or specific Will of God in our obedient stewardship of our own lives.
Another interesting thing that James points out here (like Solomon: Proverbs 19:21) is the fact that – regardless of all a person’s plans or thoughts – only the Lord’s Will and plans will ultimately be established, and James explicitly states that we do not necessarily know the specifics of that Will or “plan.”

An account in the Old Testament has a similar idea buried in the worldview of it’s three Jewish characters. In Daniel 3 Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath is incited again Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (a.k.a. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego respectively) for their refusal to worship the golden image he had made. When Nebuchadnezzar confronts them and threatens to throw them in a “burning fiery furnace” if they do not worship his image, this is what Scripture records as their response:

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” ~ Daniel 3:16-18 (ESV)

I’m sure the reader has noted where my previous assumption is shared by Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, but for the sake of filling out my argument I will point the reader’s particular attention to verse 18. Specifically the phrase “but if not.” These men would not have said the things they did if they did not have a properly balanced theology of God’s choices when it comes to how He works out His own sovereignty. They knew that God was ABLE to deliver them from the fiery furnace specifically, and they knew that God WOULD deliver them out of the king’s hands ultimately, but they DID NOT know whether God would deliver them in both or just one of those ways.

There is a big deference between trusting in God’s ultimate faithfulness and mercy on behalf of His people, and presuming upon God for the specific ways in which He “must” carry out those qualities. A very big difference, indeed.

Lest there should be any possibility of my making more of something than is warranted by two passages of Scripture (though I believe what I have offered is more than sufficient to prove my case), let us examine another individual who obviously understood how to speak and think about his life in light of God’s ultimate say in the course of events.

“But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power.” 1 Corinthians 4:19 (NASB)

“…but taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus.” ~ Acts 18:21 (NASB)

These examples (and more that can be found throughout his epistles) are spoken by the apostle Paul. It is clear by Paul’s references to God’s will and the theology he teaches in the epistles that he believes (and even seems to just assume it without needing to argue for the point) that disciples of Christ are never CERTAIN of the exact (i.e. specific and down to the minute details) will or plan of God in any given situation. What Paul often gives the Church as certainties are God’s mercy and grace in the salvation, justification, and sanctification of the saints; His ultimately meeting out justice at the Judgement; and other such general tenets of the Christian Religion or of the character and/or attributes of God. (See Romans, 1 Thessalonians, Ephesians, etc…)

There is another person who gives us this example, however, and I am sure you already know who he is.

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “my soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” ~ Matthew 26:36-39 (ESV) {for parallels see Mark 14:32-42 & Luke 22:39-46}

Now, the accounts of our Lord’s travails in Gethsemane are amazingly deep and rich portions of Scripture, and I pray the reader will excuse my shallow look at these Scriptures for the sake of my thesis – as it is far from the meat of the particular passage at which I am currently pointing. But I do not think I do the Lord any injustice when I look to His prayers for examples of how I should pray – after all, would He not prove to be the best exemplar of his own teaching? (Matthew 6:9-13)

The fact that I am not looking to the primary intent of the author in recording these words for us aside, notice Jesus’ words: “…nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Repeated in different forms twice more according to later verses)

My point? If the sinless, righteous, perfect Son of God; who knew/knows what was coming with greater clarity and detail than we could imagine; who had/has a more intimate relationship with and knowledge of the Father than we will EVER have; and would feel/felt with agony in the full force of the weakness of His humanity (and endured only because of the strength and perfection of His divinity) the Wrath of God against the sins of His people… if the blessed Christ included a caveat like ‘if it be your will’ in the very prayers that are recorded for us right before his being handed over for crucifixion – how dare any of us even think such a thing is inadvisable?

Again, I hope the reader can excuse my shallow examination of the example given us in a few words spoken by our Lord in one of His darkest hours, but I also hope and pray that you can see the validity of my observations.

Now, the anti-Biblical group I mentioned at the start (i.e. those who discourage people from praying “if it be your will, Lord”) generally only make their heretical statements when speaking in the context of praying for healing.

I spent the other night discussing this with my wife and wondered about this detail. As we talked I pinned down a few things that I think cause even those who seem to be more orthodox in “charismatic” circles to say such things.

The first and primary idea I concluded would cause this is a presupposition; namely “it is ALWAYS God’s will to heal.”
Now obviously if we take into consideration eschatology, any orthodox Christian could agree that the Lord does ultimately plan and desire our complete restoration and “healing.”
The difficulty is what most charismatics actually mean by the statement – and that is that “it is ALWAYS God’s will to heal supernaturally/miraculously in the exact moment a prayer is prayed and in the exact way the prayer is meant.”

Side NOTE: before going further, I want to acknowledge that this assumption is in fact quite huge and complicated, having many aspects; such as how one defines faith, how one is to “act in faith;” and many such other things. But to properly address the idea in its fullest would require far more words than I have to give at this time. So I shall merely be sharing the essence of the conversation my wife and I had the other evening.

As I’m sure the reader has already anticipated, I will say that it is a borderline arrogant, presumption upon God – without any Scriptural basis – to think you know exactly how God feels about or intends to act upon our prayers for the physically ill, handicapped, and/or infirm.

Side NOTE: notice I have said nothing to discourage prayer for the sick – I am assuming any disciple of Christ reading this will take it for granted that we are supposed to pray for them (just as we pray for all those we serve and care for), and even specifically request that God relieve them of whatever malady they might be suffering under.

The connection to this assumption about miraculous physical healing and discouraging believers from using the language of Jesus, Paul, James, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azaraiah in their prayers for healing, I think can be explained in part by a wrong understanding of (or possibly just emphasis upon) an idea most fully articulated by James in James 1:5-8 — but was also taught in many of the places where Jesus tells us we should not doubt God when we pray.

Side NOTE: my wife pointed out that James was specifically talking about requesting wisdom from God, and so that passage has a more narrow application and interpretation intended than Jesus’ statements.

Now as I came to this concept of doubt in the particular area of requesting miraculous physical healing from God, I concluded that perhaps some of the more orthodox people I have heard say we shouldn’t pray “if the Lord wills” because it displays doubt.

My answer to that misconception is twofold;
1) even if a Christian has some form of doubt when it comes to what he is praying for – and BECAUSE of that doubt he concludes with “nevertheless, not my will, but yours” – I do not think it wise to discourage this brother from his chosen phrasing simply because a: if he is requesting something God desires him to have, it will be given whether he is COMPLETELY doubt free or not (Mark 9:14-29… verse 24 I believe is specifically relevant), b: he could have experienced that doubt because he has requested something that is outside of God’s will and the Spirit has pricked his conscience on the matter, and c: if his doubt is going to affect the answer to his pray, leaving out such a sentiment will not change the consequences of his doubt…
2) If using this language necessarily implies some form of unbelieving doubt, then what are we to make of Jesus, the apostles, the men of God in the Old Testament, and the writers of Scripture themselves? There is nothing in Scripture that implies a follower of Jesus cannot be fully confident in the condescension, provision, mercy, and faithfulness of God in his prayer, and yet not know whether what he is praying for is within the particular, specific plan of God and thus he leaves God the room He is owed in the very prayer itself to answer in a way that is not anticipated by the nature of the specific request.

So, all of that to say, I would warn the reader to pause and be wary of someone who says anything negative about praying “if it is the Lord’s will” – because that person has not thought out their position, at best. Or they have an underdeveloped view of God and His interaction with His creation and a wrong view of man and prayer at worst.

“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” ~ Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

May the LORD be praised, for He is worthy.

Believer’s Authority vs. Scripture

I have compiled here a list of quotes from Kenneth Hagin’s book, “The Believer’s Authority,” that are unmistakably contradictory to the statements of Holy Writ. If the reader finds any fault with either my quotations of Scripture or of Hagin (e.g. the reader thinks I am quoting something out of context, etc.), I would encourage you to comment and point out such faults so that we may discuss them in detail…

(Side NOTEs: 1: I have paused my critique of the book by Hagin because I wish to work on a few other topics of study for a while – and I believe this list will prove more instructive to the reader than anything else I could write. 2: Hagin was not the only one that taught this heresy – today we have many false teachers/prophets who would agree with Hagin’s points and espouse differing variations of them; e.g. Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, etc… – thus why I think it is necessary to pursue this at all. 3: All Scripture quotations are taken from the English Standard Version)

“Salvation belongs to the sinner.” – Kenneth Hagin, “the Believer’s Authority” (page 13)

“Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah” ~ Psalm 3:8

“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” ~ Jonah 2:9

“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God…”” ~ Revelation 19:1 (see also Revelation 7:10, etc)

“… We’ve told them God’s mad at them and is counting up everything they’ve done wrong. Yet the Bible says God isn’t holding anything against the sinner!” – Hagin, “Believer’s Authority” (page 13)

“God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.” Psalm 7:11-13 (see also Psalm 90:7-11, Psalm 2, etc)

“But because of your impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed.” ~ Romans 2:5

“That’s what’s so awful: The poor sinner, not knowing this, will have to go to hell even though all of his debts are cancelled!” – Hagin, “Believer’s Authority” (page 13)

Romans 1-3… (In fact, read the entirety of Romans. Nothing in Scripture implies that the unrepentant’s sins(a.k.a. “debts”) are canceled while he is outside of Christ. See also my consideration of this quote HERE)

“The trouble with us is that we’ve preached a “cross” religion, and we need to preach a “throne” religion. By that I mean that people have thought they were supposed to remain at the cross.” – Hagin (page 23)

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”” ~ Luke 9:23

“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jew and Greek, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 & 1:23-24

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” ~ Galatians 6:14

“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” ~ Philippians 3:18-19

“When you preach the cross, you’re preaching death, and you leave people in death.” – Hagin (page 24)

“And he[Jesus] said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” ~ Luke 9:23-26

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18

“For in Him[Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” ~ Colossians 1:19-20

“It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” ~ Galatians 6:12-15

“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” ~ Philippians 3:18-21

“All that Jesus did He did for us.” – Hagin (page 28)

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”…” ~ John 17:1-4

“In fact, Christ can’t do His work on the earth without us! . . . No, He can’t get along without you any more than you can get along without Him.” – Hagin (page 33)

God speaks of the insignificant puniness of us next to Himself ~ Job 38-41

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” ~ Matthew 3:8-10

“He[Jesus] answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” ~ Luke 19:40

There are many more examples I can give (and will when I get back to this topic), but for now I believe the honest, Scripturally thinking reader can come to their own conclusions based upon this simple list.

Some Thoughts on Inter-religious Dialogue

Of late I have been following a controversy recently created and stirred up by professing Christians among the “right” in U.S. politics. This controversy primarily surrounds one event (taking place over the course of two evenings) started and participated in by Dr. James White – specifically a dialogue that Dr. White had with a Muslim imam named Yasir Qadhi – and unfortunately the critics focus most of their attention on lambasting and slandering the persons involved. I wish to avoid that end of the controversy, however, and address the views that are being promoted by the critics where it involves how a Christian should interact with unbelievers – particularly members of other religions.

(Side NOTE: the dialogues in question can be found at these links: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=updtj99Fp80 & https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r2tPHLOej1w . . . For those interested in being better able to share the Gospel with Muslims, I would highly recommend them)

Now, one of the more reasonable arguments I’ve heard from the critics of the dialogues has been pulled from Scripture by referencing 2 John 7-11. Their argument is basically that a public meeting, for the purpose of merely discussing certain issues, should never be held among Christians and people of another faith – because that would violate the spirit of the passage referenced. (Their argument particularly centers around a very fearful view of Islam, however I believe my summary captures the essence of the argument.)

The first thing the reader should note about the passage mentioned – and many like it (e.g. Romans 16:17-18, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 & 14, etc.) – is that the author is primarily warning followers of Christ away from the poison of those who practice and believe things that go against the teachings of Christ. The context of many of Scripture’s warnings against false teaching is false teaching and practice that tries to claim to be Christian.

Put another way, Scripture’s concern is to keep disciples away from false doctrine that claims to be in the same vein as what Christ would teach. It does not necessarily address false religions that do not associate themselves with Christianity, possibly because it is easier to recognize that they are not of God.

However, the strong language against the apostate does not necessarily correlate to assuming the disciples of Christ should treat the unbeliever with the same severity (at least, not at all times). In fact, I would say the actions of Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles is reason enough to think that we should regularly be interacting with the lost. 2 Thessalonians 3:8 implies their having worked daily among unbelievers as well as believers; the whole book of Acts would give examples – but Acts 17:16-21 is a pointed example; and obviously Jesus spent much time with people who He knew would end up deserting Him – John 6:64-66. Now, I have heard one radio talk show host complain not so much about the conversation but the “official public format” of the dialogues participated in by Dr. White and Dr. Qadhi. My question, however, is how is a public format any different than the examples cited? Other than the fact that more people get to learn and participate in the format used by Dr. White?

Lastly, unfortunately it seems this whole thing has become a controversy because so many Republicans in America fear (and sometimes despise) Muslims, and that extends into American Christianity because of how it identifies itself with Republicanism. I would encourage the reader not to make that mistake – a Christian’s politics might primarily be conservative (because of being affected by Scripture), but that does not mean the views or position of the “conservative right” are by default Christian.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

No disciple of Christ should fear anyone of any ideology or religion that sets itself up against God. Take courage, Christian, and share the Gospel with your neighbor (Muslim or otherwise) and treat them with love and respect as you do so.