This article first appeared in the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, volume 21, number 02 (1998). The full text of this article in PDF format can be obtained by clicking here. For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/
The warnings keep coming. With increasing frequency over the past few years, I’ve been cautioned about my vocal stance against groups ranging from established Sects such as Mormonism to fraternal organizations such as the Masonic Lodge. On one recent occasion, I was advised that I risked putting CRI’s ministry in jeopardy if I spoke out publicly against Scientology.
Despite all the warnings concerning cultic and occult groups, none have been more persistent than those I have received after speaking against heretical movements within the church. For several years prominent Faith teachers have been spewing forth their warnings against those who dared to expose their false teachings.1 Even credible ministers of the gospel who preach solid, biblical messages are caving in to the pressures from these wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15ff.: see also Acts 20:29-31). One such pastor told me that if he did not bow to this pressure, he might as well get out of Christian television because, “they own the airwaves.”
But the Faith teachers are not alone in defending error from within the church. We have recently witnessed a devastating compromise of the gospel by respected Christian leaders in areas as diverse as Mormonism, spiritual warfare, and theistic evolution.
Evangelical scholar Craig Blomberg, along with Mormon scholar Stephen Robinson, set back Christian apologetics to Mormons 20 years with the publication of How Wide The Divide? (IVP, 1997). In attempting to achieve some basis for common ground, they overlooked insurmountable differences between biblical Christianity and Mormonism.2
Neil T. Anderson’s unbiblical and harmful spiritual warfare teachings have entered the mainstream of the church. It flabbergasts me that many of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders do not even flinch at his program. Among a plethora of problematic teachings. Anderson psychologizes the Christian faith by incorporating an emphasis on self-esteem into the gospel. He also insists that Christians specifically confess, out loud and in detail, every sin related to the occult, sex, or unforgiveness they have committed during their entire lives before they can be free from Satan’s stronghold. Furthermore, he promotes the outlandish view that spirits known as “incubi” and “succubae:” figments of ancient pagan and medieval Catholic imagination, can sexually molest Christians in their sleep.3
Even theistic evolution has recently gained support among evangelicals. In a nationally televised PBS special, Fuller Theological Seminary’s Nancey Murphy stated. “It’s a terrible misconception to see evolutionary biology and Christian theology as in competition. Ever since the rise of modern science, Christians have had to come to terms with some understanding of God working through natural processes, and God’s action in natural biological processes should not be any exception to that,”4 Of course, where scientific evidence indicates more precisely the way in which God is working through natural processes, biblical theology may agree. Evolutionary biology, however, absolutely contradicts Scripture’s account of creation. Furthermore, as I have demonstrated in my book, The FACE (Word Publishing), there simply is no valid scientific reason to justify the biological evolutionary program.
The implications are clear. Eight years after I warned about “The Cult of Compromise” in the Christian Research Newsletter (October-November 1990), that very cult not only continues to thrive – it is becoming mainstream! Many evangelicals seem to think the church is better off without ministries like CRI, as evidenced by increasing pressure from radio and television station managers, bookstore owners, church leaders, and Christians in general to stop speaking out against these powerful, leaders.
What is the scriptural admonition relevant to such predicament? Doctrinally sound Christians cannot afford to sell out by a silence that results in complicity. We dare not undermine the foundations of the faith and turn our backs on Scripture to survive. If we do, our silence ends up endorsing the severely distorted view of God espoused by errant teachers.
The present popularity of such teachers brings to mind the words the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Paul therefore exhorted Timothy to “keep your head in all situations, endure hardship…discharge all the duties of your ministry” (v. 5).
May God sustain all who seek to stand for truth, rather than yield to convenience. As Dr. Walter Martin once said, “We are the church, which is Christ’s body. Ours is the responsibility to speak the truth in love, but nevertheless to speak!”
— Hank Hanegraaff
1 See Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Eugene, OR; Harvest House, 1993), 363-65.
2 See James White, Book Review, Christian Research Journal, November-December 1997, 48-51.
3 See Elliot Miller’s third installment in the Neil Anderson series in the upcoming January-March 1999 issue of Christian Research Journal.
4 Nancey Murphy, Faith and Reason, Public Broadcasting System, 11 September 1998.