Fatal Sincerity: Our complicit silence when heresy speaks

Fatal Sincerity: Our complicit silence when heresy speaks

Recently, on an A/G forum I participate in, somebody raised a question about Paula White, and several folks jumped in to offer their opinions. Some way through the discussion, we received this contribution from a long-time member of the group who is a seasoned minister in the Assemblies of God. He begins with a very brief critique of Paula White in response to the questioner, but then expands on some ideas about what Paula White and her colleagues represent as a trend in the Pentecostal and charismatic tradition.

I thought it was too good and on-point a post to share. Not because it slams the A/G … Mark loves the A/G and is a faithful minister within our Fellowship. But this is a timely and critical warning. I think Mark speaks the truth, and we should heed it. This is why we have the Carlton D. Pearson’s of the Church promoting heresy and unusual doctrine.

Read on.

Some of these televangelists may be sincere people (I’m convinced many are not), but they are sincerely, fatally wrong. The shallow, selfish, emotional gospel preached in these circles is not going to stand up over the long haul in this culture. Good grief. In the NT, even the local church deacons had to understand and hold fast to the deep truths of the faith. Local church elders/pastors had to do the same, and be able to teach these truths to the building up of the local church. Today, even prominent “ministers” are so ignorant that they are completely clueless as to the mere fact of their ignorance, let alone its depth.
— Mark78913.

I assume Paula White is a fine and sincere person, but I could not in good conscience recommend her preaching or teaching. This may be yet another case of misidentified gifting we see so often in the Pentecostal/charismatic (P/c) movement. Paula may be called to preach very simple evangelistic gospel messages using her testimony, or she may be an exhorter/encourager, but a pastor/teacher of the deep truths of the faith she most certainly is not.

This phenomenon is very common in the P/c movement. The Holy Spirit gifts someone in exhorting and encouraging, or sharing simple gospel messages, or praying for the sick, or giving prophetic words on occasion, and we automatically assume they must also be a preacher/teacher/pastor. These under-prepared exhorters are then launched into preaching/teaching ministry with neither a true gifting, nor the proper education, nor true spiritual formation. And pretty soon they are spouting all manner of idiocy.

In today’s culture, the flashiest, showiest, glitziest, prettiest, most entertaining, most exciting, most emotional, most simplistic and dumbed-down tends draw the biggest crowds and income in the “ministry,” just like it does at the movies or on the television. The appeal is to the lowest common denominator.

Thus you get the Benny Hinns, Paula Whites, Rod Parsleys, Creflo Dollars, Copelands, Hagins, CrouchFamily Inc., and their ilk, ad nauseum. Neither spiritual phenomena, size, nor wealth validate the people, lifestyles, doctrines or ministries in question. Again, healing, salvation, offerings, salaries, building programs, and missions work do not validate a ministry.

Some of these televangelists may be sincere people (I’m convinced many are not), but they are sincerely, fatally wrong. The shallow, selfish, emotional gospel preached in these circles is not going to stand up over the long haul in this culture. Good grief. In the NT, even the local church deacons had to understand and hold fast to the deep truths of the faith. Local church elders/pastors had to do the same, and be able to teach these truths to the building up of the local church. Today, even prominent “ministers” are so ignorant that they are completely clueless as to the mere fact of their ignorance, let alone its depth.

Many have abandoned central Christian doctrine and practice, and turned their focus from the Cross and Christian character for absolute froth and foolishness. I am more concerned each day that much of the modern P/c movement is reaching such a degree of “charismadolatry” and such a willful exaltation of irrational ignorance that God may send them a strong delusion.

I am not kidding.

When for heaven’s sake will some district or general council officials somewhere stand up and speak truth about wolves and false doctrines, and stop pretending all of these issues are merely cosmetic differences of opinion? Are they too unable to discern the difference between truth and error, or are they simply afraid to speak out for financial and political reasons? I don’t know which is more frightening.


If you have feedback for Mark, leave it in a comment, or send it to me directly via my contact form, and I’ll be sure he gets it.


[tags]BlogRodent, Pentecostal, Assemblies-of-God, Assembly-of-God, AOG, Paula-White, Carlton-Pearson, Benny-Hinn, Rod-Parsley, Creflo-Dollar, Ken-Copeland, Paul-Crouch, heresy, Charismatic, doctrine, false-doctrine, theology[/tags]

24 thoughts on “Fatal Sincerity: Our complicit silence when heresy speaks

  1. carl

    And pretty soon they are spouting all manner of idiocy.

    I had to chuckle when I read this line.


    Here is my basic problem with this comment, the underlying premise is that everyone in the pulpit is to be a biblical scholar; otherwise they are simple minded and easily given to false doctrines and illusions. I think this is intellectual error. I don’t think church was ever meant to be a bible study. I think teaching is meant to supplement preaching, not the other way around. I can teach a pagan the “deep things” of the scriptures and he in turn could teach them. But the pagan will not have a testimony by which (my bible tells me) we overcome the enemy.

    Do some of the ministries mentioned over-emphasize some doctrines? I think so. But does God move among them? Certainly.

    I wonder how the modern Pentecostal theologians would have corrected the early leaders of the Pentecostal movement. I wonder if any were “qualified” in their eyes. This reminds me of when revival broke out in Holy Trinity Brompton and RT Kendall complained to God that his church was far more qualified for Him.

    I am very weary of vitriolous proclamations made against the more extreme of the charismatic fringe by the “orthodox.” It would be good to remember that even “orthodox” Pentecostals are apostates to most cessationists. The tone of many sounds almost as if the writers would rather a preacher be cessationist. I think that the Methodists have driven all the extremists out of their fold. Is this the future of the AG? Quite possibly.

    I don’t get into Paula White’s preaching so I don’t watch her. I watch Benny Hinn every chance I get. Blemishes and all.

  2. Rich Post author

    Well, too tell the truth, I’m not too proud of what Charles F. Parham got into in his later years what with his racism and strange doctrines regarding the 12 tribes of Israel and all. And I’m not sure that I’d lay claim to everything Amee Semple McPherson taught. I’m quite certain that the majority of our early Pentecostal leaders were quite unorthodox and shallow theologically for ours was a missional movement concerned with reaching the lost, not teaching the saved. In fact, there’s still a strong strain of anti-intellectualism in our movement despite our many Bible Colleges (which are intended to primarily indoctrinate, not educate).

    So, yes, there’s a history of unorthodoxy and strangeness surrounding Pentecostals and charismatics throughout our history.

    And I also agree that there are any number of doctrines and practices that simply aren’t core to salvation. What’s slightly left of center to one (maybe using Coca Cola and crackers for communion?) and what’s slightly right of center to another (using only Welch’s grape juice and unleavened oyster crackers?) would seem extreme when viewed from either point of view–especially when the viewer is saturated with doctrine but not reason.

    with all that in mind … our unorthox history, our semi-anti-intellectual culture, and our unreasoning suspicion of any doctrine or practice which seems “extreme” from our point of view, I still contend that the measure of any ministry is adherence to Scripture with an informed hermeneutic.

    Consider Carlton Pearson, whom I’ve blogged on elsewhere. His arguments against Hell sound reasonable and reasoned. But his word-study arguments rely on English-Bible translations–which even a moment’s reflection will tell you is ridiculous. His is not an informed hermeneutic. Consider Jim Bakker and his once-dear belief in the Prosperity gospel. He has repented and disavowed this belief. What changed him? Daily and constant reading and meditation upon the Gospels and Christ’s words. His hermeneutic got informed. Not at the graduate-level, to be sure, but more informed than it was, surely.

    That’s the only measure we’ve got folks: The Bible. Not our emotions, and not our traditions. Sure, if we feel funny listening to a sermon, that might be a clue that we need to listen carefully. But it should prompt us to weight what is said against Scripture, not against our heart. And we might realize a “new” doctrine or practice doesn’t line up with “how we’ve always done it,” but that’s not reason enough to reject a doctrine or practice–until we’ve examined the scripture and done some thinking on the matter.

    Maybe Mark is harsh in his rant, maybe too harsh. But consider the source: A man who has been in Pentecostal ministry for decades, who sees unbiblical nonsense sweep through his denomination time after time (Word of Faith, Holy Laughter, Spiritual Birth Pains, Gold Dust, the Prayer of Jabez, and on and on). And it’s usually because the pastors promulgate this stuff uncritically and unreasonably because it’s sensational, it seems to work, and it’s exciting. And when it’s over, people are burned out, burned up, exhausted, and ready to leave church for good.

    That tends to get a man’s guff up.



  3. Oengus Moonbones


    …the pastors promulgate this stuff uncritically and unreasonably because it’s sensational, it seems to work, and it’s exciting.

    A few points I would add:

    (1) After reading extensively on the historical roots of the charismatic movement, I sense there is, in the long term, a definite tendency to eventually correct the goof-ups. I guess I am just an optimist.

    (2) I think that the xtian book publishing industry should also be looked at as well. It promotes what’s sensational, etc., because it sells. And sales are often the only thing that really matters to the big secular corporations that own the publishing houses. They simply will not publish anything that’s not a “safe bet”. So an obscure, non-celebrity, who may be a very doctrinally sound and gifted teacher, et al, and who would be a great benefit to the Church, will never get published no matter what.

  4. Oengus Moonbones


    The Charismatic Century : The Enduring Impact of the Azusa Street RevivalOh, by the way, I will recommend Jack W. Hayford’s recent book The Charismatic Century, which he coauthored with S. David More. It’s one of those rare instances where I bought it in a “xtian bookstore”. It’s what I would call an “introductory, condensed history”, as distinct from a more detailed and indepth work by someone such as Vinson Synon or Cecil Robeck. It did provide some information that I was not aware of. Also, Hayford had a definite didactic purpose in writing this book, much of which concerns how God works in the lives of fallible people to accomplish His purposes, often inspite of ourselves.

  5. Mark

    I have to say that I stand by everything in my original post. I would agree that some of the Pentecostal pioneers were poorly educated and were or became unorthodox, but that was by no means true of all of our founding fathers. The social, economic and cultural milieu from which most of our forefathers came certainly offered far less opportunity for preparation than is available to ministers today. It is an inherently unfair comparison. I’m always amused by the “God moves among them” defense offered for the semi-orthodox and the goofy. As a member of the P/c movement for over 50 years, I can testify to two certainties: 1) some “moves” are far more sociological than spiritual, more manipulative than miraculous; and, 2)God does indeed “move,” even miraculously, among all kinds of Christians, from Catholics, to Baptists, to hyper-faith, to downright heterodox believers. So, when it really is God moving, is He affirming the doctrines and lifestyles of all those ministers and churches? Not likely. God graciously responds to the cry of the human spirit as He wills.

    None of this changes the Lord’s commands to us regarding truth, doctrine, lifestyle, humility, etc., etc. We remain accountable to the Word, and to the greater Church, to correctly handle the Word of Truth. Apparent “blessings,” whether material, financial, physical, numerical or “spiritual,” mean nothing in and of themselves about God’s approval of a man, a ministry or a doctrine. Why do we worship with, but not take communion with Catholics, hold Oneness Pentecostals at arms length, and refuse to even let the Mormons in God’s Tent? All of these movements are judged, not by their apparent “blessings” — size, wealth, growth, miracles — but by their doctrine and practice as compared to the carefully interpreted Word of God.

    As to error eventually correcting itself, I would refer you to the longevity of the three movements mentioned immediately above. You might check out the hyper-faith movement as well. IMO, the sensationalism that sells in the P/c movement, on “christian” television, and in the P/c books section of bookstores, seems to prove my points.

    There are some fine well-known P/c pastors-and-teachers around, but you’re right that most of the solid guys wouldn’t “sell.” Of course I’d rather recommend a Jack Hayford over a cessationist, but there aren’t many Hayfords around. Many non-P/c teleministers are not cessationists, and would definitely deliver a safer, more edifying session for the average parishioner than would the average P/c telepreacher. One thing’s for sure: I’d recommend the typical teaching session on EWTN over the average stream-of-consciousness-emoti-fest on TBN in a sacred heartbeat.


  6. Oengus Moonbones


    “As to error eventually correcting itself, I I would refer you to the longevity of the three movements mentioned immediately above.”

    Just to clarify what I meant earlier: I was not thinking that “error corrects itself” was a universally applicable principle. I was merely pointing out that some of the earlier excesses within the Pentecostal movement were eventually moderated with time.

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  8. Common Swift


    I know this is an old thread,But what’s your take on these seeming spiritual manifestations at a Benny Hinn rally?

  9. David Copeland

    One of the most serious crimes we have commited is that we look at scripture from an American Viewpoint. We think it’s all about U.S….when it’s about that piece of property between the Mediteranian and the Euphrates…

    And I will agree to a point with Mark.TBN and all it’s cohorts have done a lot of bad for the Pentecostal movement. My Baptist heritage has taught me to examine the entirety of the scripture, not just a few select passages to fit my appetite.

    But at the same time how do we help those (like myself) who have not had the privilege of a Bible College Degree, yet do have a call from God and an established ministry? Are we going to have to go back to the old established just a select educated few can truly teach and preach?

    This is not intended as an angry comment…sincere question.

  10. Rich Post author

    David, the only answer I can give is two-fold: one is find a mentor who can guide you through the process. Basically, become an apprentice to a trusted and respected leader in the ministry you desire.

    And, two: good education can be had for cheap. You don’t have to have a degree, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting an eduction. For one thing, you can always read good boks written by the best writers. Good doctrine, theology, and hermeneutics can be had outside the A/G, too. Finally, as for formal education, Columbia Evangelical Seminary is a good low-cost alternatie to an on-campus education. It’s a degree-granting institution, but it’s not accredited…not sure that that matters in most cases.

  11. Laura

    i think paula white and her husband are on that show because of the way they talk there trying to sell you something them kind of people talk the same way on infomercials:


    i was waiting for paula white to ask for money she doenst do it like benny hinn does but she still twists the bible around saying
    u need to sow that seed and send us money

    jesus said to sow a seed means to tell someone about his good works

  12. Merina

    What about Paula White asking for $2006.00 in 2006 and God will send you two angels? Didn’t know God’s angels were up for sale.

  13. alexandria

    I do not hold dear to any denomination as it is a clear sin. I am a member in the body of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. Paula White, Benny Hinn and etc are helping to propagate the great apostasy or falling away from the foundation of our beliefs. This is in the Bible and we believers should stand up for our Lord all the time because we were told this would happen in the end of this age. Arguing about this is useless because we are livng in the end of the church age folks. We need to let these individuals know that we are praying for them. Their pride is getting the best of them at the moment but the Lord will show them the error of their ways so don’t u worry. Plus if u want to argue then you should argue about their “jesus died spiritually” doctrine in which they are extolling another Jesus I know nothing about. Thank you very much

  14. Rich Post author

    Alexandria, I would be interested in the scriptures you use to bolster your claim that holding “dear to any denomination” is a clear sin. Plus, I would like to know what you mean by “holding dear” to a denomination.

    For what it’s worth, I think the various denominations are a blessing from God. Perhaps you or others might claim all denominations are a as sin and therefore from Satan, but I don’t find evidence in Scriptures to support that claim.



  15. alexandria

    I apologize if I have offended you with that statement. I believe denominationalism is a sin because instead of focusing on the cross and the blood but instead defending a denomination not our Lord Jesus is wrong. Do you only need the Bible to defend this or is it wrong to believe something is a sin based on a persons conscience? It is a reality that many nonbelievers are confused as to which denomination is the right one and that is not where our focus should be. I was raised Pentecostal and the laws put on the families in that church were wrong and the focus was not on Jesus or the cross but on what clothes we wore etc. I’m not accusing the aog of this however romans will tell you that we are not under law but grace through faith.

    Many denominations have so many laws that the unbeliever will try to perform works and attain salvation through them. That is my worry.

  16. Leonard Aubry, Jr.

    12-22-06 FRI, 2:52p

    Got something to say? don’t say It if It (Steven king’s, where It all floats down there) has to be apologised for: if the Holy Ghost didn’t say It. You want to plug EWTN and It’s Judas goat gospel and the gospel of Enoch which supposedly Jude read, and so, I suppose Peter also read, making the epistles of Peter and Jude liars; and the Book of Revelation is a lie which Shines the Light of Truth on the GREAT , the woman; and Rev.13,REV.17, Rev.12, Rev.18 specifically points It out to you; and to conveniently disavow the legitimacy of Gen.1through Gen.11 or 12, at l just about conveniently protects Catholicism from the Truth of the matter since she began at l and waited her chance like a devil It is and perpetrated the lie of ALL false doctrines and traditions of men and devils; and you do prefer your favorite, choice doctrine to the Truth and do so make null and VOiD the Truth and Strength of the Word of Truth without THAT you shall NOT see His Face, for those who Truly worship Him are those to be found doing so in Spirit AND in Truth; and NOT so-called doctrine as you do and not as Paul and James used the term to denote the Word of God in Spirit and in Truth and not according to the false premises of dust; and if my nonsensical comments offend tou, then IAM come in the Power of the Holy Ghost of Old and NOT of Roman emperor Constantine the GREAT’s founding of Trinitarian Roman Catholicism from witch (Dan.8:25-) you ALL were vomited out of It’s mouth; you FILTHY, whor-ish Laodecian (please, forgive my misspellings throughout,but, IAM running out of time in this final, Last run before the Last End…Dan.11:…) church in need of the Fire! of burning (Mal.3:…,Rev.:3:…), or I will curse you with a horrible burning, Mal.4:1-….and if you ever see this name in print of controversial notoriety all over the world, then know THAT the End is NOW come upon you and your self-appointed first pope, papa, mama, MOTHER HARLOT church of ALL harlots, spawner of ALL of you to be crushed by the Rock prophesied of by Moses and reiterated by Malachi and Daniel before Him. May the Lord have mercy on ALL of Us. Amen and Amen ONLY, and Amen. Thank You, JesUs.

    12-22-06 FRI, 3:26p

    P.S. You might send me a copy of this, please, for my own personal records, since I don’t know how to retrieve that in the entirety of the outburst…I was caught substantially off guard, and for THAT I do submit: again, Thank you.


    [Okay, that was substantially weird. I don’t even understand it much less know how to respond to it. Sorry folks, but I’m leaving this on here for posterity. And … um … analysis. — Rich.]

  17. Ken

    Thanks for the insight.

    In general I believe the cross is how to become one with Jesus at salvation and through out our life.

    Paula White and many other so called “Word of Faith” teachers like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland believe the cross is not important except for maybe salvation. The truth is the cross, as Paul teaches, is life for the Christian every day. They ONLY seek the resurrected life — and the resurrected life is necessary — but they seek it without allowing the cross being the door for living the resurrected life. Therefore they live a false resurrected life and a life where the deceiver gives them false godly deceptions. This is another Jesus.

    I believe many are Christians with Satan trying to deceive them.

    I pray they seek the truth and turn from this heresy.


  18. Apollos

    I have been in the A/G for about 30 years. I graduated from one of our A/G Universities. I have also attended other non-A/G schools where many of my profs were Anglican, Baptist, Methodist, etc. In my opinion, Mark’s post was spot on.

    As for Carl’s comments:

    “the underlying premise is that everyone in the pulpit is to be a biblical scholar”

    Historically, the church sent its brightest & best to be trained for professional ministry, and we are now reaping the consequences of this practice having stopped. Every pastor/teacher SHOULD do his best with all the legitimate resources available, to become the best biblical scholar he can be. Unfortunately, most guys would rather read books about how to grow a mega-church and implement some new programs, than read in-depth exegesis of the Pastoral/Prison Epistles and develop a sermon series for their congregation.

    “I don’t think church was ever meant to be a bible study.”
     — Really?

    I don’t think Wrigley Field was ever meant to play baseball on.
     — See it just doesn’t sound right does it?

    As for Mr. Aubry’s comments, I am still trying to analyze. I’ve just slipped in Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” to get in the right frame of mind.…

  19. Ken

    Thanks for sharring wisdom of the error and other’s thinking that is not Godly.

  20. Alexandria

    I just want to thank Ken. It is about time I see someone on a blog telling the Truth. That is Christs finish work on the Cross. Not the 40 days of Purpose, or Benny Hinns “giving the anointing” (though it isn’t his to give as he wills), or Paula White nor her husband and his vitamins. Do you honestly think Paula would have a megachurch if she preached the Cross instead of her feel good watered down message? I’ve noticed that she rarely even speaks in tongues anymore. Why is that? Probably because without the Power of the Blood by means of the Cross she has absolutely no power to enable the Holy Spirit to work in her life.

  21. Ken

    Thanks for simply stating the truth of the Power of the blood. The only power for the Christian. And amen the power of the blood will be brought to Christians by the Holy Spirit with speaking in tounges. I only know of scripture that says where the power of God comes from and it is preaching of the cross which is the blood of Christ. True there is only power from the Holy Spirit for ones who preach the cross. A cross which resulted in His shed blood. A cross of denial of Himself to the point of shedding His blood. And He ask us to deny ourself and take up our cross and follow Him. Now we have died with Him, by denial of ourself, and we live but not ourselves but Christ live in us. I have joy for sharring a truth that gives life.

    Heb 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

    1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God

  22. Rachel

    I agree that this movement tends to be unbalanced. Numbers do not valididate a ministry, but people do need to do their best to be reaching the lost. How important it is that there are pastors that are truly called by GOD, who listen to his voice and obey his promptings. Yes, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to share God’s word, but you should do all that you can to be educated about his word, because the bible says, “let not many of you desire to be masters for you will recieve a stricter judgement”. If you are not positive beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are to be a preacher, than find out what wonderful plan God has for you, but don’t try to teach others when God has not told you to!

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