I wanted to make some clarifying comments here after this post. I received some criticism about this post from my fellow believers at church. It could be that I am straining at a gnat here in some respects. Justin Peters is doing the church a good thing and a difficult thing. He is calling out error and false teachers and we need to hear that. I am in no way trying to discourage or disparage Justin or his listeners. A point of clarity came to mind as I was being challenged by my brothers. My definition of “a liar” includes intent. In other words, I don’t think that someone that is saying something that is actually false but who believes it is true is a “liar”. More accurately the speaker is simply wrong, deceived and in error, but he is not an intentional liar. If that were the case “let all men be liars and God the only true witness”. We all are full of error and probably most of what we believe about things is incomplete or erroneous in some way. I am personally very tired of seeing division creeping into the church because of people ascribing intent that cannot be known. We are to judge rightly but we can only judge that which we can see and sense. This is why the due process of scripture (Matthew 18) tells us to confront the person we have a problem with directly before we go talking to everyone else about our problem. I haven’t discussed this blog post with Justin Peters, perhaps I should. I hope my criticism has not offended or hurt Justin’s ministry in any way. Our enemy is the accuser. No one is innocent but Christ, so let’s just not throw stones at the intentions of people without careful thought and proof of intent. Actions and words can an should be judged – lets hold the line there. Implications of a word can go far beyond the intent of the word. So far this post has had 42 views including my own, so I don’t think I am threatening Justin’s ministry here. It is merely an opinion, feel free to sprinkle it with all the salt it needs.
Our church decided to show Justin Peter’s video “Clouds Without Water” where he critiques the “Word of Faith” movement.
Firstly, I want to say that Justin does a great job of showing much of the hypocrisy and lies of the many faith-healing ministers such as Benny Hinn and Joel Olstean and many others.
Justin is lightly afflicted with cerebral palsy. This has led him to seek healing through his faith and through faith-healers and he has been disappointed.
Though I can agree with many of his points of evidence, I have a difficult time dealing with his conclusions and extrapolations from his evidence. His logic skips the necessary steps to prove his conclusions. Instead, he finds a contradiction and then assumes: The speaker is perfectly aware of the contradiction: The speaker is speaking precisely: and therefore he is a liar – and thus not a Christian – and thus a false prophet – … so on to hell.
For example, Justin criticizes the immensely popular devotional “Jesus Calling“, a copy of which my wife has and one I took some time today to review from Justin’s perspective. His criticism here is that so many people are reading devotionals instead of the Bible. His point is that anyone that writes words attributed to God is “adding to scripture” and therefore changing the cannon. And we all know the admonitions in Deuteronomy and Revelation to not add to or take away from the word of God. Thus Sarah Young (the author) is likely going to a special place hotter than most.
Another was quoting a female TV evangelist that said she prayed away a storm she saw from the window of her plane. Justin then assumes she is claiming blanket control of the weather and suggest perhaps she should be sued for allowing Katrina to happen and points out her contradiction of saying she doesn’t fly in bad weather – something a person that controls the weather would not need to worry about. But look at this closely. The bible says for us not to assume the future – even if we think we have control over it. The lady was simply testifying that she prayed and a storm she saw dissipated – that is not a lie. It is her true testimony of a perceived fact. Her message was meant to impart faith – belief in something you have no physical (or logical sometimes) evidence of. She never said she could control the weather.
Actually, I take that back, she kind of did say that, I didn’t remember it as accurately as I should have. She did say “you are the weather man” implying that we ALL control the weather. Giving her (Gloria Copeland I think) the benefit of the doubt tells me she must mean that collectively we all influence the weather with our intentions. She could be meaning that with all sincerity – which is why I take exception to Justin publically calling her a liar – see my definition of the term at the top of this post. I personally can’t know for absolutely certain that our thoughts do or do not effect the weather. See these stories for an interesting data point on this idea:http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Weather_Control#Accidental_Weather_Modification
It is true that TV evangelists often draw general conclusions they shouldn’t, but in all honesty, I sometimes have a hard time drawing any conclusion I couldn’t misinterpret or pick apart.
Justin says he is a cessationist which means he believes that all prophecy is completed and that apostolic miracles are no longer in effect. He however gives no evidence for that conclusion except to note that the miracles in acts seem to abruptly stop after Acts 19.
This logic condemns all prophecy as false. Worse, it equates a personal message from God as the equivalent to scripture. He might as well say there is absolutely no communication from God to man under any circumstances other than the English Cannon of scripture and Nature. This approaches deist mentality and I think is equally as erroneous as his opponents are whom he accuses of claiming deity over God.
There is a very fine line between being a faithful follower, and taking God for granted. It’s a very hard line to stay on. We walk blindly and rightly in constant fear of God – which is exactly where He want’s us.
I have no problem with Justin’s beliefs for himself – he is quite orthodox along the lines of the Baptist denomination. Everyone has to draw some conclusions simply to function. I know a few other people from this background and they seem to have the same very black and white, wooden logic about what truth is – but then they are very secure in their faith and nobody is going to throw them off easily.
Jesus was constantly throwing his followers for loops because he was talking of spiritual matters simply beyond their experience. He was equally attacked by people that couldn’t see the truth of his apparently heretical and contradictory statements.
Now I am not trying to introduce doubt and confusion into anyone’s beliefs. Truth is very difficult to find and criticizing each other (without due process and solid logic) just compounds the difficulty of finding it. Justin has to wonder if he could be bordering on blaspheming the Holy Spirit – that is, ascribing miracles to Satan that may in fact be the work of the Holy Spirit. Humility is really our only safe abode.
The Bible contains many outright contradicting ideas. Things like absolute sovereignty vs free will, One God in 3 persons, prophecies with multiple fulfillments, prophets that are false that none-the-less give true prophecies and show signs and miracles.
There are entire sets of theology, all academically supported, all contradicting each other, and all logically valid given their premises. See Steve Gregg’s excellent work “Four views of Revelation” for some concrete examples. This work, by itself, has added serious doubt to my mind as to my ability to interpret most of scripture correctly.
With these combinations of contradictions it becomes really tough to say that anything is just TRUE on its face. The table is solid, unless you look at the atomic level. Germs are bad unless you notice that without them we would be dead. The three witnesses of that car crash that all saw the same thing are contradicting each other…
This is not to say that there is not truth. To say so is logically absurd and defeats all purpose in life and creation. There is truth and God is truth – He’s just a lot higher than we are.
Justin does raise some very good information that we should all be aware of. Many TV evangelists are twisting scripture to make money and their fruit is clearly visible for all to see that they don’t deserve the kind of following they get. They even go so far as to make God their genie and invoke him as a sorcerer would invoke spirits. This is certainly worthy of exposure.
When I learned that the Hebrew word for evil is RA and that the paleo-Hebrew letters literally mean Man’s will over God’s, I stumbled upon a very clear vision that helps me in discernment. Jesus said that all men are evil and only the father is good.
People are really very gray things. We all have our bias and hurts and our tongues are impossible to control. Perhaps Justin Peters is being more effective by accusing others of satanic beliefs where any shadow of doubt exists – but there is no place safe to hide. Even the beloved King James bible has many well-known errors in translation. As we continue to unearth more ancient copies of the scriptures and other books we find that our times are full of new knowledge that the experts of the past simply had no access to. At some point, revision of our views is necessary in order to pursue truth truthfully.
Hold on to what is good, but don’t miss the newer truths being revealed every day simply due to more evidence. Our trial of truth is never over and our sanctification isn’t either till death stops our pursuits of learning and the ultimate truth find’s us – unchanged as it is and never fully found despite our very best efforts to do so.
Which is why we can’t find God – He simply has to find us.