What are Some Examples of False Teaching in the Church?

by Eternal Ministries

The need for Christians to exercise discernment as never before is evident in the following examples of false teaching in “popular” Christendom.

Negative teachings of Robert Schuller

In an evaluation of the teachings of Robert Schuller one will note serious errors that are not in line with what the Bible teaches.  The first problem with Schuller’s teaching is that he has a man-centered theology as opposed to a God-centered theology.  In a very subtle way , Schuller writes that God is not glorified until man is glorified.  In fact, he writes, “…it is impossible to glorify God until we glorify his children.”1

In the beginning of his book, Self Esteem:  The New Reformation, Schuller quotes from an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania.  The professor’s comments regarding Schuller’s book are staggering:  “…It is surprising how our minds have come to a similar position—you have pursued a religious route and I have pursued a scientific path, and we have both arrived at the same bottom line:  unconditional self-esteem.”2

Schuller has redefined salvation, as well, by teaching that “to be born again means that we must be changed from a negative to a positive self-image….”3  Hell is redefined as “the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God…A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem.”4  This is a major alteration of God’s Word because Jesus taught that hell is a literal place of torment (Mk. 9:47-48).

Certainly, one of the most blasphemous teachings by Schuller is that Christ’s death on the cross was for nothing more than protection against His perfect self-esteem from being turned into sinful pride.5  According to Schuller, Jesus would not even tell us that we are miserable sinners.6  Quite contrary, Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Lk. 5:32).  Rather than the cross sanctifying the ego trip, it is a testimony of man’s utter depravity and the horrible price that God paid to redeem fallen mankind.

Another dangerous aspect of Schuller’s teaching is “possibility thinking,” which is nothing more than humanistic psychology stressing the powers of the mind.  Faith is a force or power that Christians  and even non-Christians can use to manipulate energy.  By following these techniques man can become co-creators with God.7  In essence, Robert Schuller’s “possibility thinking” is the same as Eastern practitioners.8  In conclusion, the church should not accept Schuller’s teachings any longer.  One should not seek fellowship where these false teachings are being taught (Rom. 16:17) for they will lead to dangerous consequences (Mt. 7:17; 24:11, 12; Acts 20:30).

Negative teachings of Norman Vincent Peale

The problems with the teachings of Norman Vincent Peale center around a heresy called New Thought.  One of the offshoots of New Thought is Ernest Holmes’ United Church of Religious Science.  Although Holmes was an occultist and believed in spirit guides,9 Peale said:  “Only those who knew me as a boy can fully appreciate what Ernest Holmes did for me.  Why, he made me a positive thinker.”10

New Thought was rejected by the church about 100 years ago and out of it the mind science cults were born.  Through the writings of Norman Vincent Peale, this New Age movement of its day had been kept alive in the church.  His magazine, Guideposts, has lent Peale much credibility among Christians.

Peale was a 33rd degree Mason and was even on the front cover of two Masonic publications, The New Age (May 1986) and the Scottish Rite Journal (March 1991).  Peale has written many forwards to occultic books including Helen Keller’s My Religion11 and John Marks Templeton’s Discovering the Laws of Life.12  As a guest on the Phil Donahue program, Peale was asked of the need to be born again.  He replied, “Oh, no, you’ve got your way to God, I’ve got mine.  I found eternal peace in a Shinto temple in Japan.”13

Although Peale teaches about God it is clear from his writings and testimonies that Christ is only a principle.  Peale’s influence by the occult is detected by his understanding of faith.  Faith works miracles by “the operation of spiritually scientific laws” and prayer is a force underlying the universe.14  The problem is that faith is not exercised towards an impersonal principle, but in a person—Jesus Christ.

The power innate in humans is the constant flow of energy in the mind, according to Peale.  More mental power is said to come about by saying “With the mind of Jesus I can do all things.”  Positive thinking is what unlocks man’s abilities and allows this power to flow through him.15  Biblically, possessing the mind of Christ has to do with the “self-emptying” of Jesus as a suffering servant (Phil. 2:5-11).  To have the mind of Christ is to be in humble self-renunciation in doing God’s will.  Peale’s versions of faith and true biblical faith are as incompatible as grace and works.

The False Teaching of “Positive Confession”

Positive confession is one of the most distinctive doctrines of the Faith Movement.  Such televangelists as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Robert Tilton, Frederick C. Price, Paul Yonggi Cho, and others promulgate it.  This teaching originated with E.W. Kenyon.

The basic teaching of positive confession is summed up in the saying, “What I confess, I possess.”  It is the belief that a person can bring into existence what he speaks with his mouth.  Faith is nothing more than confession, hence, the power of the tongue is the key to positive confession.  For example, Charles Capps writes, “I [God] am not the one that is causing your problems.  You are under an attack of the evil one and I can’t do anything about it.  You have bound me by the [negative] words of your own mouth.”  (Emphasis in original.)16

Positive confession teachers raise themselves to God’s level and then claim that by “divine right” they can manipulate reality.  By agreeing with God’s Word, in confession, these teacher’s humanistic plans are said to come to fruition.17  However, this belief in positive confession is nothing less than witchcraft.  Benny Hinn even appeals to witchcraft as proof that the power of the spoken word (Rhema) works.18  Simply because something works does not mean that it is of God though (Mt. 12:22-28; Deut. 13:1-5).  Despite the dangers, these teachers promote pagan practices which are pantheistic (all is God) in the sense that faith is a power that one taps into.

Paul Yonggi Cho teaches that the power of positive confession lies in being able to incubate the third dimension by entering the fourth dimension, the spiritual realm as opposed to the three material dimensions.  Cho’s fourth dimension is not even warranted by science or logic.  Human beings become like God “through the fourth dimension” by “incubat[ing] the third dimension, and connect[ing] it.”  Mortals are compared to God’s ability to “give the word” and “speak forth” in order to create.19

The common response given to those who try to say that these practices are unbiblical is that they are trying to understand it logically.  In the forward o Cho’s book, Robert Schuller writes, “Don’t try to understand it.  Just start to enjoy it!”20  This is the same response a person in the New Age would give.  God tells His children repeatedly to “test the spirits” (cf. 1 Jn. 4:1).  It is a personal God that determines what happens in a believer’s life and not some impersonal power of positive confession in one’s words.

The Common Source of Power

Although positive confession adherents claim supernatural inspiration for their teachings, the source of revelation is shown to not come from God or His Word.  Interestingly, many spirit guides encourage their mediums to promote positive confession.  The popular craze in angels has also lent support and endorsement to the teachings of positive confession.  Many of these mediums and angels refer to the same biblical proof texts as the faith teachers use.21

Rather than finding support from the Bible for positive confession the teachings of the movement can be traced to the Mind Sciences. The cults of Armstrongism and Mormonism also believe in the divine power of man and the belief that man can become God, which would be the next logical step if positive confession were legitimate.  Perhaps this is why Benny Hinn,22 Morris Cerullo,23 Paul Crouch,24 Earl Paulk,25 Kenneth Copeland,26 and many others believe that they are, in fact, gods.

The common source of power among positive confession teachers is the demonic.  D.R. McConnell is a historian on the Charismatic movement and did graduate work at Oral Roberts University.  He knows the teachings of the teachers listed above first hand.  He writes, “E.W. Kenyon…formulated every major doctrine of the modern Faith Movement….The roots of Kenyon’s theology may be traced to his personal background in the metaphysical cults, specifically New Thought and Christian Science….Kenyon attempted to forge a synthesis of metaphysical and evangelical thought….The resultant Faith theology is a strange mixture of biblical fundamentalism and New Thought metaphysics.”27 

Clearly, the connection between Faith theology and occultism is not accidental.  Anthropologist Michael Warner reports that “many techniques long practiced in shamanism, such as visualization…positive attitude…and mental and emotion expression of personal will for health and healing…are being reinvented in the West precisely because it is needed.”  The mixing of Jungian psychology and the occult are the common source of inspiration by none other than “the god of this world” who is using both humans and demons to carry out his plans.

Notes

1 Robert H. Schuller, Self-Esteem:  The New Reformation (Dallas:  Word Books, 1982), p. 167.
2 Ibid., p. 11.
3 Ibid., p. 68.
4 Ibid., pp. 14-15.
5 Ibid., p. 75.
6 Ibid., p. 47.
7 Robert h. Schuller, Believe in the God who Believes in You (Nashville:  Thomas Nelson, 1989), p. 69.
8 Robert H. Schuller, Peace of Mind Through Possibility Thinking (New York:  Jove, 1985), pp. 129-132.
9 Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind (New York:  Dodd Meade and Co., n.d.), p. 379.
10 Fenwicke Holmes, Ernest Holmes:  His Life and Times (New York:  Dodd Meade and Co., 1970), backcover.
11 Helen Keller, My Religion (New York:  The Swedenborg Foundation, 1974).
12 John Marks Templeton, Discovering the Laws of Life (New York:  The Continuum Publishing Company, 1995).
13 Transcript, Phil Donahue Show (23 October 1984).
14 Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (Greenwich, CT:  Fawcett, 1983), pp. 52, 146.
15 Norman Vincent Peale, “How to Get More Power Out of Your Mind,” (New York:  Sermon Publications, 1951), p. 9; transcription of a sermon.
16 Charles  Capps, The Tongue—A Creative Force (Tulsa:  Harrison House, 1976), p. 67.
17 Ibid.; Kenneth Hagin, “Understanding the Importance of Confession,” The Word of Faith, May 1999, p. 8.
18 Benny Hinn, “Praise the Lord” program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (1 June 1989).
19 Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension (Plainfield, NJ:  Logos International, 1979), pp. 39-40, 66, 78, 73-74.
20 Ibid., p. viii.
21 John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs (Eugene, OR:  Harvest House, 1996), p. 48.
22 Benny Hinn, “Praise the Lord” program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (6 November 1990).
23 Morris Cerullo, “The Endtime Manifestation of the Sons of God,” (San Diego:  Morris Cerullo World Evangelism), audiotape.
24 Paul Crouch, “Praise the Lord” program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (7 July 1986).
25 Earl Paulk, Satan Unmasked (Atlanta:  K Dimension Publishing, 1984), p. 97.
26 Kenneth Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory, March 1982, p. 2.
27 D.R. McConnell, A Different Gospel (Peabody, MA:  Hendrickson, 1995), pp. 184-185.
28 Harner, Shaman, p. 136.


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