The Consumerization of the Gospel
- Wolves in Wool: Creeps in The Church (Intro)
- Wolves In Wool: Intro to The Word of Faith
- Word of Faith: Erroneous Faith Theology
- Word of Faith: The Elevation of Man
- Word of Faith: The Demotion of God
- Word of Faith Atonement Flaws: Kenoticism
- Word of Faith Atonement: Jesus in Hell
- Word of Faith Error: Jesus was “Born Again”
- Word of Faith Healing Promises
- Word of Faith Wealth Theology: Part One
- Word of Faith Wealth Theology: Part Two
- Emergent: History & Characteristics
- An Emerging Relativism
- Emergent Deconstructionism: Hell
- The New, Friendlier Gospel
- Emerging Mysticism
- The Emergent Contemplative Prayer Model
- The Great Falling Away
- The Consumerization of the Gospel
- Today’s Apostasy: Inventing Doctrine
- A Custom-Built Gospel
- A Coming One-World Religious System
- Wolves in Wool Conclusion: From Christ to Antichrist
(NOTE: This is a continuation of the Wolves in Wool Series. This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts)
The great falling away is further demonstrated in scripture by what can best be understood as a “consumerization” of the gospel. A further indication of a future apostasy is noted in 2 Timothy. In this text, Paul does not specify an apostasy which will immediately precede the tribulation, but he does note a later time in which men will refuse sound doctrine. And, as will be demonstrated, his teaching clearly articulates the very same elements of apostasia as were noted earlier.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NIV)
3 For 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. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Concerning the mentality during this coming age, Paul makes several assertions. First, he notes the consumerism of the Word of God. He states that “men will not put up with sound doctrines,” but will instead choose those which “suit their own desires.” As if doctrines can be “shopped” for discriminately, these men hear the legitimate truth and simply make a decision not to accept it in light of the error which they prefer. Such is the nature of consumerism. If I want a blue car, I do not have to purchase a red one, for blue ones are readily available. If, likewise, I want to serve a God who lives to please me, I can make such a choice as well, for men are available readily who will preach such a gospel to my ears. Paul notes, “to suit their own desires” they will accumulate such teachers. Thus, it is the desires of man himself which will orient doctrines in this coming age. What man desires to hear as “truth” will be given to him as such. Welcome to custom-built theology 101.
Noted in the text is that there are “a great number” of teachers who will provide such self-tailored theological services. As such, it is clear that a great quantity of people will desire to hear such doctrines, and will give validation to the false teachers which propagate them. It is at this point the reader should take great caution concerning the nature of how religious truth is noted to be validated in our culture. Simply because the masses affirm it to be true does not make something true. Clearly the times will come when the masses will align themselves with false teachings over legitimate doctrine. However, unlike a made-to-order hamburger, which is built for man’s personal demands of consumption, doctrine is by definition something which belongs to its creator.
We live, however, in a culture of consumerism. Even our very governmental system is so designed that men get what the ultimately want (at least ideally) by voting for candidates which represent their desires. This culture has proven to be a fertile ground for the propagation of such false doctrines by the itchy ears of the crowd. Both the Word of Faith Movement and the Emerging Church movement are beacons of opportunity for those seeking a consumerized gospel.
The Word of Faith has made itself exceptionally proficient at promising the desires of men’s hearts. Their doctrinal position is precisely crafted to scratch the ears of their willing constituency. They teach that man can have anything he wants if he learns how to properly utilize the “word of faith.” How ingenious! Without the necessities of a litmus test or focus group studies, these men literally promise that men can have their own desires regardless of what they happen to be. Do you want healing?
“You may have sickness in your body; you need to call in health.”
“Your circumstances will line up with your words.”
“Joel that sounds like wishful thinking. No, that’s using your words to create what you need.”
“You can change your world by simply changing your words.”
Joel Osteen (“Speaking Faith Filled Words”, Tape # 223, May 2, 2004)
Do you want money?
“What do you need? Start creating it. Start speaking about it. Start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold. Say, “You big, thick billfold full of money.” Speak to your checkbook. Say, “You, checkbook, you. You’ve never been so prosperous since I owned you. You’re just jammed full of money.”
Marilyn Hickey (Claim Your Miracles audiotape #186, side 2)
Indeed, whatever man wants to acquire for his own glory, there is a Word of Faith teacher prepared to instruct him (for the price of admission) on how to use “faith words” to receive it. Rest assured, “Think Your Body Thin” and “Command Yourself to Beauty” are soon to follow, as these men are masters at scratching ears which itch.
In the end, their bogus systematic theology puts man literally in the driver’s seat, being equal with God himself. After all, if man can “speak” whatever his heart desires into existence, what power or purpose remains for God himself? Fred Price rightly defines their position as ne notes,
“Yes! You are in control! So, if man has control, who no longer has it? God.”
Fredrick K.C. Price (“Prayer: Do You Know What Prayer Is … and How to Pray?” The Word Study Bible, 1990 p. 1178)
Returning to the original sin of Satan himself, WOFers have indeed recognized and responded to the greatest itch man has ever had; his desire to be his own god. Their demonic dogma aligns loyal followers with Satan himself as they ascribe to “be like the Most High.” According to Paul Crouch,
“He [God] doesn’t even draw a distinction between Himself and us. . . . You know what else that’s settled, then, tonight? This hue and cry and controversy that has been spawned by the Devil to try and bring dissension within the body of Christ that we are gods. I am a little god! . . . I have His name. I’m one with Him. I’m in covenant relation. I am a little god! Critics, be gone!”
Paul Crouch (Praise the Lord, TBN? July 7, 1986) [with Ken Copeland nodding in agreement]
Itch, be scratched.
The nodding Copeland fully affirms this teaching as he notes,
“You don’t have a god in you, you are one”
Kenneth Copeland (The Force of Love, 1987, audiotape #02-0028, side 1)
When I first began investigating the incredulous doctrines of this group, I must admit that I didn’t really get what they were all about. I just thought Word of Faith preachers were run-of-the-mill tares in the wheat; simple misguided and half-baked theologians who got way too much attention. I’ve learned that they are much more than that. They are master deceivers who know what men want to hear. They are opportunists who gladly will contort God’s eternal Word to suit the greed of their followers, which in turn feeds their own greed through donations and fiction book sales. They are the systematic fulfillment of scripture; those who men gather around themselves to “say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Not to be overshadowed, the liberal end of the Emergent pool has perhaps outdone even the creepy doctrines of the WOF. While the WOF attempts to corrupt God’s word for their own purposes, the Emergent left have devised a system where such creative theological twisting need not even be agreed upon during limousine rides between preaching gigs. Indeed, the “lesson” at the next venue may be completely different, depending upon the local opinions.
By shrugging off systematic theology and embracing a purely narrative approach to scripture, God’s Word is now read as poetry by the Emergent ear scratcher. It says to you what you want it to say, like your copy of Kubla Khan. The more radical Emergents have systematically deconstructed scripture, resulting in each individual congregation holding the interpretational “rights” to it through community acquiescence. They claim that one cannot understand scripture fully, but only through the collective imaginative opinions of the group can its meaning be put into proper practice. As Rob Bell so eloquently doubts,
This [that the biblical canon was not settled until the 4th century] is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that “Scripture alone” is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is.
Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis, – Rethinking the Christian Faith, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2005, pp. 67-68)
Thus, the church trumps the Bible in its own authority. Because the Bible was penned and affirmed by men, it can only be rightly interpreted by community pool. One community reads their Bible and concludes (by general consent) that homosexuality is good and right. Another reads the same Bible and concludes that homosexuality is wrong.
Frankly, many of us don’t know what we should think about homosexuality. We’ve heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say ‘it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us.’ That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives whom seem to know exactly what we should think. Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice prayerful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years for ongoing reflection.
Brian McLaren (online source: christianitytoday.com/le/currenttrendscolumns/leadershipweekly/cln60123.html)
With the validity of theology relegated to “what we should think,” men need only find a church which “thinks” their own doctrinal position to be validated by the whole of the Emergent position. Relativity is not seen as incompatible with scripture. Truth for me may or may not be truth for you, though it flows from the same fountain.
Scritch, scritch, scritch.
Paul’s wisdom, inspired by the Holy Spirit, should cause all who fear God and respect his word to reconsider the validity of all such foolishness. He could no more clearly have stated what is obviously at large in today’s open-minded theological soup of the WOF and Emergent movements. “The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.”
The term translated for “sound” (doctrine) is the Gk. hygiaino, which literally means “healthy” or figuratively means “uncorrupted.”
Being “uncorrupted” is precisely the antithesis of apostasia, as was observed in the last section. That which is apostate is that which was at one point healthy and uncorrupted, but has now been rendered unhealthy and corrupted. Furthermore, it is clear that it is indeed such apostasy that he speaks of here in 2 Timothy 4, as he notes in verse 4, “4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” The ears of those who formerly heard the truth are turned aside. They know and have heard good theology in the past, but choose to no longer put up with it.
Thus, what Paul reveals concerning “sound” theology bears the identical definition of what he noted (in the last section) in 2 Thessalonians concerning the coming apostasy of the last days:
2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NIV)
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion [apostasia] occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
Those who will not put up with sound doctrine, but instead choose that which scratches their ears are of the very same essence as the apostasia. In both cases, men who have heard, known and understood valid theology will turn it aside in lieu of what is deemed more desirable for their own consumption. Paul’s warnings continue to point to an increasing rebellion from the very body of Christ as time progresses. Particularly, the last days are noted to be a time of such manifestations of false doctrines. I am not comfortable making presumptions concerning our current state of apostasy in the church. I’m not going to announce half-cocked that the last days are upon us. Yet, I can- and must- acknowledge that the modern church is uniquely poised as a candidate for those days prior to the end. The fat lady may very well be warming up in the greenroom.
Matthew 24:12-14 (NIV)
12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.