I’m actually so excited to write this post. About six months ago I felt like the Lord was telling me to discern the times. I had no idea what that meant besides being watchful for end times, but lately I have been noticing small discrepancies in the church and God has opened my eyes to see some really interesting trends. I am really excited to share them with you so you can know and be aware of what is happening around us too. Here’s why! If there is great deception and fear happening, then it is likely we are on the verge of a great move of God in true repentance and renewal and the eminent return of Jesus. We do not grow hopeless, but full of joy as the time draws nearer!
I want to start by saying that if you have fallen into any of these false teachings or trains of thought there is simply the offer to repent (turn around and change your mind) and move back to truth. You do not need to beat yourself up. Many of us (including me) have been at least initially deceived or attracted by at least one of these. May God give His grace to your heart as you read this as He has given it to me in writing it. There is no condemnation in Him, but I pray you will allow Him to convict you and move us all into to alignment with scriptural truth. So as you read, you can just reject the lie, confessing it to God in prayer. Then submit to Biblical truth and move back to daily time in scripture and prayer at the feet of Jesus, asking the Holy Spirit to teach you to hear only His voice and follow only His teachings.
One other caveat before we begin is that I want to be clear that I believe the only solution for false prophecy and false teaching is to ask God for MORE TRUE gifts of the Spirit, not less, to be poured out on the global church. We need to know the voice of God in true intimate relationship through the Holy Spirit. We do not need to be afraid of people with gifts of prophecy and teaching because we NEED them to help call out the false prophets and teachers. We, the church, have a sure way to test prophecies and teaching: by their source (false prophecy comes from a false source), by their fruits (what comes from it), by their outcome, the checks and balances of Spirit-led community who rightly divides the word of truth, and most of all, by the word of truth itself, the Bible.
Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Matthew 7:15-18
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter:1-4
Today I want to do a quick look at look at five false teachings/positions currently in the church in terms of their source and their fruits/outcome: 1) the Enneagram, 2) “Christian” New Age 3) Progressive Christianity 4) NAR’s (New Apostolic Reformation) Public Dominionism (my term not theirs) and 5) Cessationism.
The enneagram has been a widely used personality tool in the church over the last four years, giving many people insight into their personalities, both negative and positive aspects. Because many have received this tool from a Christian source, they assume the source is Christian. But it’s not.
The Source: The enneagram is not ancient. It was developed in 1913 by George Gurdjieff who promoted a “fourth way,” which taught that the human soul was imprisoned in a “personality” and by doing movements or dances you could arrive at full “self-consciousness.” From there we meet two Latin American spiritualists: Bolivian psycho-spiritual teacher Oscar Ichazo (1950s) and the Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo (1970s). These two stated that they received the enneagram from ancient Sumerian and Babylonian sources but later Naranjo stated that he had received the revelation of enneatypes (the 9 personality types) from “automated writing,” the practice of channeling a spirit in a trance state. These teachings were taught to Richard Rohr (a franciscan friar who promotes perenialism–the “oneness” heresy that many paths have a “Cosmic Christ” in them and therefore can be different ways to God) and then decimated to the Christian community through a book called Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (Ironic, since He does not believe Jesus is the only way to God and therefore cannot be considered a Christian (John 14:6)). The Catholic church formally rejected the teaching, but other “Christian” books were written from this one and picked up by several Christian presses, like IVP, Zondervan, and Baker, thereby giving the ideas an appearance of Christian legitimacy.
The Fruit/Outcomes: The initial danger is that the enneagram seems helpful to knowing one another, but in the same way that astrological signs can appear accurate, we are told by God not to consult astrologers (Isaiah 47:13) or teachings taught by demons (obviously). There is a long term detrimental effect to this short term “helpfulness.” The enneagram leads to an overemphasis on “self.” There is a resentment built against people who just “don’t get you” or “treat you with care” according to what you need to be healthy. To “help” them, the enneagram enthusiast shares the enneagram with them to fix the conflicts. Ironically, conflicts and dissension multiply (hmmm…sounds like Satan to me). People associate with one type and then identify with all of the “Directions of Integration (Growth)” and Disintegration (Stress).” This leads to a self-focus that is addictive in its constant inward draw. The affect is that we lose focus on the person of Christ, on the fact that we are being made in His image by the work of the Holy Spirit, and that He is calling us OUT to the world.
The way out: Set our eyes on Jesus, and as a friend told me yesterday, the reality that we are actually far more unique than 9 personalities. We are called to lose our lives, not find out who we are. God is not found by looking at myself. While I am made in His image, I am sinful at a core level. I am transformed and redeemed and re-created only by looking at Jesus Christ, who died for my sins. He alone is the way to God. I surrender my personality to His. I want my whole life to revolve around Him and His Kingdom.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
In Progressive Christianity, Christians are supposedly called to “Walk fully in the path of Jesus, without denying the legitimacy of other paths God may provide humanity.” This is a sympathetic pluralism that directly defies the claims of Christ to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Furthermore there is an idolatrous component rooted in the “sacredness of everything.” We see a terms like “love” being culturally reinterpreted to “tolerance”, abortion is culturally reframed as a way of “loving women.” And acceptance of the practice of homosexuality is “loving your neighbor.” While Christians do support love of all people, one of the ways Jesus best loved people was by telling them the truth- that they were in danger of the wrath of God. This continues to be a necessary ministry of the church to the world. Several podcasts which I will not name that appear and are named as Christian podcasts are actually very progressive in theology. You need to be careful.
The Source: Progressive Christianity is false teaching born out of “the church” but rooted in fear. In fear that the “God of the Bible” may not actually seem “loving” by today’s standards, progressives (who might not even call themselves progressive) have subtly twisted the Christian faith into an intellectual religion of false comfort of inclusivity and pluralism. We see a blatant distrust of the Bible as either inspired by God or as a reliable historical document. You sometimes hear progressive Christians say things like, “The Bible is not from God, but is only a human book expressing people’s experience of God.” Or you’ll hear, “This is what the apostle Paul says, but what did Jesus say?” The assumption behind both is that we get to use our sense of justice to judge which parts of the Bible are true and authoritative based upon our 21st century, Western sensibilities. Doubt is not seen as an enemy of faith but something to be engaged. Certainty is a sin. Humans can decide for themselves what is good and evil and judge God, the scriptures, and theology out of that false authority.
The Fruit/Outcomes: The fruit from progressive Christianity is an eventual loss of respect for Biblical authority and the concept of an absolute truth of Jesus being the only way to God. There will be an elevation of reason and logic and a love for empty debate with no actual intention of finding the truth. There will be a sense of confusion mingled with a certainty in the impossibility of certainty. The concept of faith gets muddled from being a solid “proof of what you hope for” to an agnostic type of vague possibility of impressions about who God might be.
The way out: There needs to be a yielding and submission to the traditional creed of the church as well as an acknowledgement of the Bible as the Word of God that tells the truth about the One True God, who is Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The temptation to know good and evil for ourselves is the oldest temptation in the world (Genesis 3). But if we can return to trust in God alone to define goodness and to be love that is a first step. We then accept His law to be true along with the punishments for breaking that law, which brings us again to the value of the cross, our need for a Savior, and the atonement of Jesus for our sins. If we believe what Jesus said about Himself to be true, that will move our heart to tell the true gospel to the world, not out of condemnation but out of compassion for those who are actually truly lost.
In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
“CHRISTIAN” NEW AGE
The Source: New Age practices at the core are centered around the idea that “we are divine”–the divine is inherently “us.” It states that we are god. It overfixates on the Christian idea of imagio dei-that we are made in the image of God, but twists that to say that we have “deity” at the core of us which has been covered up by sin and therefore just needs to be uncovered. It teaches that our goal is to realize “self” and act upon that realization (see how the enneagram connects to this). You will see quantum physics spirituality, the Law of Attraction, and the idea that combination of mysticism, channeling, and yoga-type meditation we will bring peace and healing to a broken world. You will see “Christian” tarot cards, “Christian” astrology, “Christian” yoga, “Christian” divination (communication with fallen angels and demons instead of the Holy Spirit). There is a sense of confusion and fogginess, attempts to “connect” to you by asking you to admit we believe the same basic principles (which we don’t), and a reliance of the “wisdom traditions” of “ancient teachings” of yogis, spiritual directors, and mediums.
The Fruit/Outcomes: The fruit of these practices is a detraction of the pure gospel and a chasing after knowledge of “self as god,” the inner-workings of the world, and the “cosmic” universe. It is a fascination with demons and angels that we do not see in the Bible that can lead to demonization, depression/fogginess, and mental illness. There is a drawing idolatry of the natural world as sacred (sun spirit, mother earth), and angelic spirits, and experiencing the supernatural, not through the Holy Spirit, but a variety of other “angelic mediators.” The use of witchcraft, manipulation of physical and emotional states, and divination, spiritual healing strategies and methods like sound frequency healing and hypnosis through other spirits or a vague “spirit” “force” or “energy” or “essence.”
The way out: First, we are not and have never been “divine.” We are humans, a distinct creation, but not the creator. We reject any claim that we inherently contain deity apart from Christ’s indwelling of us by the Holy Spirit. There is only one mediator, that is Jesus and His Spirit, the Holy Spirit is the same Spirit that lived in Him. We need no other spiritual mediators or strategies. We seek only to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and we confirm everything we hear by the whole testimony and grand narrative of the Bible. Just as false prophecy has a false source, true teachings and prophecy are sourced in the truth of Jesus and the scripture, mediated through the Holy Spirit, and these we test and hold as reliable.
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 1 Timothy 4:1-7
NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION
In the words of Peter Wagner, who named the movement, The New Apostolic Reformation is “a new charismatic Christian movement that seeks to take dominion over politics, business and culture in preparation for the end times and Jesus’ return. The leaders are considered apostles and prophets, gifted by God for this role. We believe in working with any — with whatever political system there is. In America, it’s democracy and working with the administrative, judicial and legislative branches of the government, the way they are, but to have as many kingdom-minded people in influence in each one of these branches of government as possible so that the blessings of the kingdom will come.”
This is more of a dangerous emphasis within a loose network than a false teaching or organization. My problem is not with exercising the gifts of the Spirit (though some of these teachings need to be tested for biblical accuracy), but in the dominionism theology which aims to take over the public world and transform it into in a sociopolitical way into something looking like the kingdom of God NOW. This is difficult to talk about because the Bible CLEARLY supports the spread of the spiritual kingdom of God, and it is would be a joy to live in a nation that truly seeks after God. But I do not see scriptural support that the earthly Kingdom of God will be realized by a strategic taking over of public platforms. Jesus clearly stated quite the opposite, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36 It is not our job to build the kingdom, it is our job to announce it, make disciples, and wait for Jesus expectantly. Our job is to build an unseen kingdom by building the church.
The Source: This one is tricky because, while it may sound good on the surface, at least some (though surely not all) of the leaders of NAR are actually dabbling in ‘”Christian” New Age’ practices, mainly with the intent to control or shift the spiritual (and physical) realities “so that” the kingdom can come now, in preparation for Jesus to return. Remember, New Age states that we are gods. It is not surprising then that those dabbling in new age practices would consider it their role to “bring the kingdom” to earth. We need to be watchful for false apostles, prophets, and teachings who will come from INSIDE the church.
While I believe we do have substantial biblical basis for seeing the current and intensifying leadership roles of prophets and apostles (though maybe not needing “titles” or physical regions formally and ceremonially assigned to them), I notice in NAR what seems to be a publicity and public agenda that seems to go against what we see in scripture (Jesus never promoted taking over governments). This distracts us from evangelism and discipleship and church building.
Two distinctions here:
1.We build a culture of heaven, not a political kingdom. The present kingdom is still unseen, within and among us who follow Jesus. The kingdom will come without our help! Jesus will come for His pure Bride, the church, and God will bring the Kingdom out of His own zeal. This reminds me of the zealots who were trying to overthrow Rome. They were trying to create freedom in the physical realm, Jesus was trying to create spiritual freedom, and a spiritual God-centered kingdom of true worship (John 4). Another friend the other day said it made her think of the tower of Babel, where people tried to accomplish a way to God. Jesus said “My Kingdom is not of this world.” It still isn’t. Not yet. Even though we do recognize that the Kingdom came with Jesus and even now resides in and among His followers through the Holy Spirit, we know He will literally come back for us, conquer all evil, and rule us in peace.
2. The end days are going to increase in wickedness, not righteousness before the return of Jesus (Matthew 24). In other words, though we pray for revival and return of people to God, we the church are not supposed to be creating a “heaven-like kingdom” on earth for Jesus to return to. We are trying to build a spiritual church of living stones. We cannot get tied up in civilian affairs (2 Timothy 2:4). This is also why Christians need to not get overly invested in politics. While we should support candidates and systems that promote righteousness and social justice, calling out oppression when we see it, we must stay focused on building the church. God will one day rule with righteousness and justice as the foundation of His throne. True Kingdom-building is not about gaining worldly influence to increase our platform, but obedience in boldly and personally sharing the gospel and walking as Jesus walked, in step by step obedience, in humility and service, in ministering in compassionate acts every day. And Jesus actually says it’s better for this to be done in secret! (Matthew 6:4)
The way out: We need to discern the times and realize that Jesus warned of many false deliverers and Messiahs popping up. We are not going to be confused. We test every word from a prophet or apostle or teacher with the Bible (even those we personally know). We stay focused on the internal kingdom of God that is spreading like wildfire in peoples’ hearts, moving us to serve and disciple the people of all nations, preparing a bride with acts of righteousness, not creating heaven-like social structures. If we make social change our primary goal it distracts us from our primary task of building up the church. We remain watchful for the return of Jesus, who Himself will bring His Kingdom here.
With that said, I do believe there are spiritually rooted personal, regional, and systemic strongholds of the enemy that we can break now so that people can be set free from darkness and enter into the spiritual light of the already-not-yet “kingdom of God” through Jesus. We also need to pray for more gifts of healing and faith to be poured out in our local church communities so that people will not convinced of this by wise and persuasive words but by the Spirit’s power.
Cessationism is the idea that there are many gifts of the Holy Spirit that are no longer needed or useful for the church. It is based on the concept that only the early church needed the gifts to establish the church. Cessationists root their stance in 1 Corinthians 13:8, which says that tongues and prophecies will end. But if you keep reading, they will end when the perfect comes, when we are fully grown, when we see face to face, when we know fully as we are fully known! Hss that happened yet? no. When we see God face to face, that is when those things will end. Furthermore, there is no biblical evidence to suggest a dying out of gifts. Rather, there is an encouragement to desire the gifts!
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:8
The Source: This false teaching comes from the source of fear. In 1 John 4, we know that God is love and God casts out all fear, so where we find fear, we find an absence or resisting of the presence of God or a gross manipulation of it. This particular fear is an divisive attack of the enemy and internalized by Christian religious leaders who are trying very hard to protect their flocks. Unknowingly, many cessationists are promoting a partial gospel. I am talking here about the fact that many of the Christians I talk to have no idea about their right to intimately know God by the power and infilling of the Holy Spirit. I am referring to religious “Christians” who have a form of godliness but deny its power. In other words, this group has been so gripped by fear of anything “prophetic” that they would rather only read their Bible and deny the giftings of the Holy Spirit. We see very early on in the church that the correct teaching ABOUT Jesus was given and people were baptized, but without receiving the Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:14-17, and end of Acts 18-beginning of 19 ) This should make us think.
When we share the gospel we must include the end goal of it. We have been forgiven from our sins SO THAT we could be filled with the Holy Spirit and connect to God as a vine and branch, bearing the fruit of the Spirit out of that connection! SO THAT the church can be built up to be made One together in Jesus. Without a filling of the Holy Spirit, you cannot know Jesus in an experiential way and you cannot know the ministry of the body of Christ given through the active gifts of the Spirit.
The Fruit/Outcomes: The fruit of this omission of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit is an increase in religiosity and false righteousness. We also see an isolation of the Bible as the only “words” through which God can reliably speak. The truth is that God continues to reveal Himself in accordance with the Bible, not apart from it. There is an increase of fear of those who claim to hear from the Holy Spirit or who profess the gift of prophecy, when clearly we see clear scriptural directive to “eagerly desire the gift of prophecy.” (1 Corinthians 14:1). Those who have gifts of the Spirit are labelled as “divisive” because they are insisting on a matter perceived as “secondary” to salvation. But anyone who has the Holy Spirit knows that a true Christan life is only possible by an active reliance on the voice and presence and POWER of God in us. My hunch is that those who do not know the Holy Spirit also know this to be true and it scares them a great deal because they are stuck in religious positions and locked into the fear of man, which keeps them from acknowledging their lack and thirst for this Living Water.
The way out: We ask for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon those who have only received a partial gospel that did not include a baptism of the Holy Spirit, even if that may be us. To be clear, the baptism of the Holy Spirit may not include tongues. Some do not receive tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:30). It is also not hard to acquire. Luke 11:13 clearly simply states that God gives the Holy Spirit to ALL who ask Him. I ask for a fresh fire and filling of the Living Water of the Holy Spirit on a regular basis! There is nothing shameful in asking God for what you need.
Truth is, I have never personally met anyone who claims to be a 100% cessationist. Full cessationists would have to deny all currently operating spiritual gifts, including teaching and evangelism. I have even seen many people claiming to be a part of cessationist communities who confide in me that they are “not opposed to the gifts” but functionally, they are not expecting or asking the Holy Spirit to pour out gifts to them or to others. The truth is, resisting the Holy Spirit is indicative of hardness and stubbornness (Acts 7:51). Ignoring Him seems like a bad idea. But definitely stay away from quenching the Spirit, scoffing prophecies, and forbidding tongues. Pray that the whole church would not blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not scoff prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:39
In order for the church to remain safe from false teachings and prophecy we need to know scripture, and we need the Holy Spirit to give gifts to us in our local bodies of believers. We need those who can discern the times (discernment of spirits), prophets who hear the heart of God for groups and individuals, and those gifted to teach accurately the Word of God as rightly applied to our current context when falsehood and lies are prevalent. We need true apostles and evangelists being sent out by local church bodies who preach a pure gospel and correct the church when needed and who don’t mind suffering for the gospel. We need gifts of healing and wisdom and administration and helping and mercy and all the gifts and leadership of the Spirit to operate as the church.
WELL YOU MADE IT TO THE END!
(Sorry for the long-windedness, but I as a rule, I try not to limit my posts to keep readers or anything–I write what I can’t help writing and I figure if it’s helpful, people will just keep reading when they have time even if it takes a while.)
Anyways, this is certainly not a complete list of false teachings, and I am not claiming to be an expert in the nuances of these. But I just want to mention some specific portions of these that do not line up with scripture and emphasize that we have ways to separate truth from lie, false from true. Instead of footnotes from the primary sources I read, I put a few references at the end. I tried to give mostly resources that support the Biblical perspective so as not to further draw people into dangerous waters. If you decide to look at enneagram, Progressive Christianity, or new age in depth PLEASE BE CAREFUL. And check everything you find against scripture. Hopefully this came across as gentle and respectful. Feel free to comment and message me with questions!
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3
Notes and links (I’m not linking to people who primary sources here, I am linking to those bringing up the issues from a true Christian perspective. I don’t recommend delving too deeply into any of these primary sources to “learn the truth.” Many have been led astray by seeking to help people involved in deception and been deceived themselves):
- also can just check out wikipedia…enneagram of personality–they’re not hiding anything.
- Also here is a video of Naranjo stating the origins. The Franciscan he is referring to is most likely Richard Rhor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlO3KJWnNd8
“Christian” New Age:
NAR interviewed by NPR: