Example 5 - Devastation caused to another family in the USA by 'Word-Faith/Charismanic' cults!
How do you know when people have been influenced by some form of 'Charismania' - or the 'Word-Faith' cult?!
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 6:40 PM
Subject: Word Faith/signs wonders movement
After searching online I found your site .My brother and nephew are part of this movement (new to it) and I dont know what to think.
They pray every single minute someone in our family scrapes a knee , they lay hands and pray for healing of the knee, the cold, the cut, etc. It is making me concerned. They believe all disease, sickness can be cured on site upon asking. I tell them gods will and they gods will is no pain and no disease, etc. I try to tell them about the babies born with mental retardation, physical problems and they say the devil somehow got in and it can be prayed away. I say well millions of christians before you (this movement) prayed for cures with no answer and they just say they didnt do it right or that the devil interferred, etc. It is making me scared to be around them, it is like they are in a cult, though they of course say no and that this is the right way to GOd. They dance, they drunk in the Lord, they shout, they yell, they speak in tongues and laugh out loud during church service. I have tried to be open and accept that they are happy and "saved" but the whole thing gives me a bad vibe. I am NOT well versed in the bible and cannot show them any proof of scripture or suffering on earth as god allows. they also say God doesnt want us sto be poor and if you pray you will get riches as deserved. It appears to be a hijacking of christianity to me, by copeland and the like. My nephew constantly tells me of "miracles" he has seen, like healing someones sinus infection or back pain or knee pain or headaches. I tell him it is psychosomatic or just a temp fix or just wanting it so badly that of course they feel better when 5 ppl lay hands on them.
Also, Gold dust, what do say bout this? I think it is a complete scam, but they say they have seen it and they believe it. I say yeah you seen it but it was planted by a human not god. they just tell me i dont understand and pray for my soul. My nephew is constantly drunk in the lord and spends his days praying and outreach on the streets trying to perform "gods' miracles or healings. He also does prophetic word, the church does it too, all day long, "god telling me someone has a pain in their left arm, come up and get prayed for "..........this goes on constantly it is the main focus, prophetic words and healing. It just does not ring true to me, yet i know my nephew blieves god is talking directly to him.
What can i say or do? Any advice how to open their minds to other christianity? I feel that my nephew especially is so caught up in signs and miracles and healing that he is emotionally high on this stuff and "normal" christianity would be too boring for him at this point.
doesnt god allow suffering to make us strong in faith as with paul? I just dont understand this so called movement. God talking to them, gold dust, healings, instant gratification or prayer answered on the spot. They act as if they are god in many ways. They also believe the dead can be raised, cause some man came to their church and told them this.
Any advice or words of comfort?
thank you for reading. I dont know what to think or where to turn
TCE replies: 17th November 2012
Dear 'Gotbrains' (RM Steele?)
thank you for contacting us.
We are very sorry to hear the problems you are having with the Word-Faith cult.
Presumably you read from our article on the 'Word-Faith' cult (there is also analysis of many 'charismanic' errors in the long article 'Savage Wolves' - starting on the next page).
We intend to reply to your e-mail point by point in the next 48-hours (we have just had our office re-wired which is why we only read your mail in the last 24 hours).
We have not yet had the time/resources to put our replies to Word-Faith supporters on our web-pages, but one of the quickest ways to help you may be in sending you some of the relevant mails after our initial reply.
If anything else slows our response down be assured that we will not forget you and will contact you to inform you if any problems arise.
We will be praying for you and your family.
In Christ Jesus
'Word-Faith' deception includes the use of 'stage props' such as fake gold dust!
TCE replies: 21st November 2012
since we have yet to search through our material to 'Word-Faith' adherents which expands on many of the points you mention in your mail, we will be brief in this initial reply.
You write: My brother and nephew are part of this movement (new to it) and I dont know what to think.
TCE: you may know that 'the movement' has been around since E.W. Kenyon began the cult;
You write: They pray every single minute someone in our family scrapes a knee , they lay hands and pray for healing of the knee, the cold, the cut, etc. It is making me concerned. They believe all disease, sickness can be cured on site upon asking.
TCE: since Scripture never promises true Christian believers will be cured or healed of every sickness and injury, or beat death, their failures to instantly achieve healings etc. should eventually cause them to see the truth - but they are held in a spiritual deception that keeps them from recognising the truth;
You write: I tell them gods will and they gods will is no pain and no disease, etc. I try to tell them abot the babies born with mental retardation, physical problems and they say the devil somehow got in and it can be prayed away.
TCE: again, the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word never promise 'no pain [or] disease' and, on a basic level, why did Paul tell Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach instead of 'just praying in faith' for the illness to depart (1 Tim. 5v23). We will come to the 'Word-Faith' excuses for failures later;
You write: I say well millions of christians before you (this movement) prayed for cures with no answer and they just say they didnt do it right or that the devil interferred, etc.
TCE: their cultic beliefs cause them to believe that those who failed in this way lacked faith and even the great apostle Paul lacked the necessary faith to live the life he should have enjoyed - as contemporary 'Word-Faith' leaders allegedly do - and was also punished because he persecuted the early church before he was saved!;
You write: It is making me scared to be around them, it is like they are in a cult, though they of course say no and that this is the right way to God.
TCE: you have correctly discerned that they are in a cult and we would advise you to seek out a thorough Bible-believing fellowship to support you in prayer and in your efforts to help your brother and nephew. Not knowing the nature of the churches in your part of the world we can only give you general advice about the kind of fellowship to search out.
You write: They dance, they drunk in the Lord, they shout, they yell, they speak in tongues and laugh out loud during church service. I have tried to be open and accept that they are happy and "saved" but the whole thing gives me a bad vibe.
TCE: while they believe that Scripture supports all of these actions, Scripture has been 'wrested':
2 Peter 3:16-17 - 'As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness'
to 'tickle their ears':
2 Timothy 4:3 - 'For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears'
and the Holy Spirit has given you enough discernment to recognise the facts, although describing it as a 'bad vibe' (a phrase gleaned from false Eastern Religions) should be avoided!;
You write: I am NOT well versed in the bible and cannot show them any proof of scripture or suffering on earth as god allows.
TCE: we can give you guidance on these aspects, but finding a good church with solid Bible teaching is essential;
You write: they also say God doesnt want us to be poor and if you pray you will get riches as deserved. It appears to be a hijacking of christianity to me, by copeland and the like.
TCE: you are absolutely correct about Kenneth Copeland (and his many joint deceivers) and we will send you material on these aspects too;
You write: My nephew constantly tells me of "miracles" he has seen, like healing someones sinus infection or back pain or knee pain or headaches. I tell him it is psychosomatic or just a temp fix or just wanting it so badly that of course they feel better when 5 ppl lay hands on them.
TCE: again, you are correct and the deception is so simple and obvious that only someone who is spiritually deceived will fail to spot the fact (we will send details later);
You write: Also, Gold dust, what do say bout this? I think it is a complete scam, but they say they have seen it and they believe it. I say yeah you seen it but it was planted by a human not god.
TCE: You are correct - it is a scam! We have read at least one account of careful research that revealed that the 'gold dust' was merely gold-coloured plastic of the kind sprinkled on decorations at Christmas and it was planted by the 'Word-Faith' leader or his team;
You write: they just tell me i dont understand and pray for my soul.
TCE: no doubt they believe their intentions only mean well and are entirely 'honourable' but many 'traditional cults' such as the Mormons would say the same while also holding beliefs that are seriously in error;
You write: My nephew is constantly drunk in the lord and spends his days praying and outreach on the streets trying to perform "gods' miracles or healings.
TCE: we will look on the 'drunk' aspect later. His prayers will be well meant but doctrinally incorrect prayer is sinful prayer and praying outside of 'God's will' (we will come back to this later) cannot force Him to deliver healings and 'miracles';
You write: He also does prophetic word, the church does it too, all day long, "god telling me someone has a pain in their lefft arm, come up and get prayed for "..........this goes on contantly it is the main focus, prophetic words and healing. It just does not ring true to me, yet i know my nephew blieves god is talking directly to him.
TCE: we will look at this later and see how it compares to Scripture;
You write: What can i say or do? Any advice how to open their minds to other christianity? I feel that my nephew especially is so caught up in signs and miracles and healing that he is emotionally high on this stuff and "normal" christianity would be too boring for him at this point.
TCE: as mentioned already a large part of the answer is knowing and applying the Word of God correctly. But, until the veil over their minds is taken away they are extremely unlikely to give up what they have accepted to be the excitement and emotion of the true Gospel;
You write: doesnt god allow suffering to make us strong in faith as with paul? I just dont understand this so called movement. God talking to them, gold dust, healings, instant gratification or prayer answered on the spot.
TCE: their errors are easy to observe and you are correct about God's Word to Paul:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NASB) - 7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me - to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Notice how this utterly destroys 'Word-Faith' pretensions, for in:
v7 Paul makes all the 'Word-Faith' bragging - which they do endlessly even while trying to feign 'humility' - look ridiculous;
v8 he 'implores the Lord three times' - but 'Word-Faith' braggarts do not even seek the will of God (see article we are going to send you - now found on pages to 'Josephine Melrose' - to 'Tom Wood' - and to 'Pastor Jeff Schrick') - which destroys their nonsense!);
v9 he makes it clear that he is 'well content' with all this - and the reason why - 'for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong' - while 'Word-Faith' liars claim they command great 'power'!
We will include their incredible stance on the question of suffering - and Paul in particular - in the material we send!
You write: They act as if they are god in many ways. They also believe the dead can be raised, cause some man came to their church and told them this.
TCE: as you may have already read, their 'little gods' doctrine is utterly false - and we'll also supply further details of their record on 'raising the dead' and other 'miracles';
The following is an expert summation answering this question:
Does the fact that we are created in God's image mean that we are "little gods," as Word-Faith leaders say?
The 'Word-Faith' deceivers misuse this Scripture: Genesis 1:26 - 'And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'
Word-Faith teachers suggest that the Hebrew word for "likeness" in this verse literally means "an exact duplication in kind" (J. Savelle, 1990, p141). Indeed, humanity "was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God's presence without any consciousness of inferiority.... God has made us as much like Himself as possible.... He made us the same class of being that He is Himself (K. Hagin, 1989, p35-36, 41).
Correcting the Misinterpretation:
All Genesis 1:26-27 is teaching is that humanity was created in God's image or likeness in the sense that a human being is a finite reflection of God in rational nature (Col. 3:10), in moral nature (Eph. 4:24), and in dominion over creation (Gen. 1:27-28). In the same way that the moon reflects the brilliant light of the sun, so finite humanity (as created in God's image) is a limited reflection of God in these aspects. This verse has nothing to do with human beings becoming God or being in God's "class."
If it were true that human beings are "little gods," then one would expect them to display qualities similar to those known to be true of God. However, when one compares the attributes of humankind with those of God, we find ample testimony for the truth of Paul's statement in Romans 3:23 that human beings "fall short of the glory of God." Consider:
God is all-knowing (Isa. 40:13-14), but a human being is limited in knowledge (Job 38:4);
God is all-powerful (Rev. 19:6), but a human being is weak (Heb. 4:15);
God is everywhere-present (Ps. 139:7-12), but a human being is confined to a single space at a time (John 1:50);
God is holy (1 John 1:5), but even human "righteous" deeds are as filthy garments before God (Isa. 64:6);
God is eternal (Ps. 90:2), but humanity was created at a point in time (Gen. 1:1, 26-27);
God is truth (John 14:6), but a human heart (since the Fall) is deceitful above all else (Jer. 17:9);
God is characterized by justice (Acts 17:31), but humankind is lawless (1 John 3:4; see also Rom. 3:23);
God is love (Eph. 2:4-5), but human relationships are plagued with numerous vices like jealousy and strife (1 Cor. 3:3).
[From 'Correcting the Cults: Expert Responses to Their Scripture Twisting' by Norman L. Geisler and Ron Rhodes]
Katie Souza promises breakthrough in your relationships, physical and emotional healing - and your finances - i.e. hers!
It is absolutely vital that you have the support of a strong, Bible-believing, church to enable you to cope with this evil cult.
We will not make promises that cannot be fulfilled, for it is extremely difficult to bring people to the truth of God's Word once they have swallowed false teachings. But you say they are 'new' to it and this gives us some hope. Please hold the Word inspired through Jude in your heart and constantly in prayer:
Jude 1:21-25: Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus
Mary replies: 24th November 2012
Hello and thank you very much for the reply and details.
I am specifically referring to Bethel Church in Redding California USA. They have a school as well called School of supernatural ministries. My family is part of this church. they have seen gold dust and so called diamonds and believe in it, I say complete and utter fraud.
Sorry my first email was so full of typos my keyboard was not working properly at the time.
Anyway, they are so caught up in this movement and they think they are right and all other Christians have it wrong somehow. They follow Katie Souza (prophet), Bill Johnson, Copelands and the like. My family is now saying God speaks to them directly (audibly) and many in this church speak prophetic word. they get up and say things like, "GOD is telling me someone in here has left leg pain." etc etc etc, my family believes all this nonsense. How is it everyone in this church is getting prophetic words from God, yet no other christian group is? Im so disgusted by it all as it does not seem real to me at all. I have been to the church to see for myself and not knowing what i was getting into in the beginning , but after seeing and hearing the ppl who are common ppl, not leaders say God is giving them prophetic word and the gift of wisdom and gold dust, i say this is just not a true religion.
Has anyone gone to bethel and proven this gold dust fake? if so it could perhaps convince some to get out of this cult like church.
I will write more, thank you so much for your help. where are you located?
Do the dangers of Papal Rome compare with those of the 'Word-Faith' cult?!
TCE replies: 28th November 2012
please excuse this brief reply (we haven't forgotten our promise to you, but are currently over-run with mail and we will try to get back to you more fully in the near future - God willing).
Bethel Church is not known to us but, sadly, the world probably has many more 'Word Faith' groups as a result of the heavily hyped 'tours' by Hinn, the Copelands, Savelle etc. than anyone can ever keep track of completely.
We notice the usual (this from Amazon) description of one of Souza's books on the internet:
'Through these special teachings, Katie will reveal how you can ascend into the supernatural and access God's glory. This will allow you to experience breakthrough in all areas of your life including your relationships, physical and emotional healing, and your finances. Through the special teaching "Banking in the Glory," you will learn how to remove every demonic spirit of lack and poverty off of your finances and receive deep healing of your soul that will lead you into financial breakthrough!'
Even more concerning is this from the same page:
[TCE: checked this page - 07Oct18 - asking price for her 'Audio CD' is $489.63! Typical 'Word-Faith' rip-off merchants - when did Jesus ask people for money for healing - or anything else! Followers gave Him and His disciples money for provisions and the poor - which Judas stole from (John 13:29)]
About the Author
Katie Souza is the founder and president of Expected End Ministries. She has been featured on TBN, 700 Club, God TV, Extreme Prophetic, Sid Roth and numerous radio shows in the United States. Her powerful testimony of turning captivity into promise has changed the lives of many people around the globe. She is the author of "The Captivity Series: The Key To Your Expected End" which is currently being taught in over 500 prisons around the world. In this season she is furiously pursuing the light of Jesus to heal the souls of believers everywhere. Come join her in her pursuit and your life will forever be transformed.' [our emphasis in red]
If it is true that 'prison captives' are being subjected to the 'spiritual captivity' of this cult it is time to write to senators and MPs!
Everything you write is par for the course for this cult and we know from personal experience that, even if you took them with the 'gold dust' and 'diamonds' collected from their meetings and went with them in constant attendance to the most highly rated laboratories in the world to analyse the materials, they would refuse to believe the results and claim that Satan had caused a deception (probably because they - and you - had 'lacked faith' by daring to have the material analysed!). Roman Catholics, and all those in the cults of the world, share the same kind of utter blindness to almost any truth you expose them to because, obviously, you are the one who is deceived (it couldn't possibly be them!).
To conclude for now, we are based in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom where we have witnessed the same blind deception foisted on those who follow men rather than the Word of God.
In Christ Jesus
Mary replies: 29th November 2012
Well thank you for the information. yes Katie Souza seems a complete hoax and scam artist and former con criminal. Ugh.............
We were actually raised Catholic and as you see that as a cult i do not. I no longer practice it and it was easy to leave it as many catholic adults grow up and leave, not difficult to leave and i def dont consider myself brainwashed in any way, i do think for myself, catholics while they geta bad rap and are corupt at the head, the ppl are just multiple generations following a tradition most are not 'gung ho' or truly into it as in a cult type religion. I dont belive in it anymore, but i also dont categorize it as a cult, messed up and flawed yes, but not quite a cult. you leave and think on your own.................really.
Unlike the brainwashing and pounding into your head of the bethel church in redding ca.
anyway, thanks......guess my family will just have to wake up on their own or continue to be followers of frauds with their gold dust and angel feathers and God speaking to them. they all think they have the gift of prophetic word, at least catholics just go to church and get on with it. LOL, ugh, so distressing.
What is a cult?
TCE replies: 20th December 2012
thank you again for responding.
The discernment you reveal and, while not using a lot of Scripture to prove your points you clearly recognise deceivers, almost certainly reveals the Holy Spirit in your life because you have accepted the Biblical Lord Jesus Christ - as opposed to 'another Jesus' (2 Cor. 11v4) and 'another gospel' (Gal. 1v6-9) and you have been set free from the demonic spirits in Papal Rome while your family have been deceived by 'Word-Faith' 'doctrines of demons' (1 Timothy 4:1-3)!
Just to clarify some of your points: most apologists who write about the Roman Catholic Church do not use the word 'cult' - but that is for reasons outside of the actual definition and identification of what is clearly the 'cult of Papal Rome' (we have now placed an article proving Papal Rome is a cult on this page).
A brief summary of Papal Rome's un-Biblical doctrines!
To clarify - we defined a cult (generally) on this page:
'... The word 'cult' is usually used to describe the group which deviates from 'orthodox Christianity' as revealed in the Bible, incarnated in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, proclaimed by the Apostles, and adhered to by the historic creeds of the Church.'
Although there is no universally agreed-upon definition of a cult, this is because the orthodoxy of the Christian group will influence the definition, e.g. Billy Graham and his family, and Hank Hanegraff - who was heavily influenced by Dr Walter Martin (who failed to recognise the way in which the Seventh-Day Adventists deceived him by supplying him with answers to his questions that would make him believe they were genuine, orthodox Christians - and he also fell for the same ruse from the Roman Catholics) - have allowed non-Biblical influences to determine the way they define 'cults'. Nevertheless, there are some clearly generally recognizable traits and a brief look at these will reveal this fact - but we must also keep in mind that not every cult manifests every single trait discussed.
While Jesus said His words lead to eternal life (John 6:63) for us to receive eternal life through His words, they must be taken as He intended them to be taken and a cultic re-interpretation of Scripture that yields 'another Jesus' and 'another gospel' (2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 1:6-9) will only lead to eternal death (Rev. 20:11-15).
Some claim that the faulty interpretations and aberrations of the Roman Catholic Church fall short of the definition of a cult and that it is essentially a Christian church and not technically a cult (at least not in its official teachings). But these doctrinal aberrations are so serious that aspects of orthodoxy are undermined and many Bible-believing groups separated themselves from Papal Rome long before the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century discovered what the Waldensians, Hussites, ana-Baptists etc. knew. Although this still results in the continued separation of much of present-day Protestantism from Catholicism, as Biblical ignorance increases in these 'End-Times' (as prophesied - Amos 8:11-12) many such churches are growing nearer to Papal Rome as the days pass.
Sadly, the Roman Catholic Church fulfils many grievous aspects of a 'cult' - such as an 'isolated leadership' that must have the last word on everything and are 'a law unto themselves.' They (the popes) are incapable of error and answer to no man, despite their many and inevitable contradictions. What they say determines what the truth is to their followers and no one may argue against their declarations - this is the first principle of every cult: "Check your mind at the door and believe whatever the group, or church, or guru, or prophet in charge says." The idea of having an 'infallible authority' to guide their spiritual path appeals to many who think that surrendering their minds to such an authority allows them to escape their individual moral responsibility to God. Others are afraid to think for themselves because that would put them outside the Church, where "there is no salvation." By this means God's Word, which should speak powerfully to each individual, is held just out of reach of individual Catholics by their Church.
The Roman Catholic Church was founded on lies in the early centuries after the apostles, and those lies have only grown in number through the centuries. Lies, heresies, apostasies, and blasphemies hide a veneer of Bible terminology and an external form of godliness, for there is very little truth in the papacy and when popes use Biblical terms they interpret them by using a 'heretical dictionary' which coats their lies with a thin veneer of truth.
How does 'Word-Faith' compare to Papal Rome and the two major pseudo-Christian cults?!
Consider just a handful of the lies that proceed from the Vatican: the pope sits in Peter's chair and is the head and father of all churches; people baptized by Rome, including infants, are born again; the mass is a re-sacrifice of Christ and the consecrated bread becomes the actual body and blood of Christ, to be worshipped in a "tabernacle" in Rome's churches; there is a place called purgatory; Mary is the Queen of Heaven; Catholic priests minister in the room of Melchizedek and have authority to administer salvation through the sacraments and to pronounce forgiveness in Christ's name; salvation is not by God's grace alone and those who claim that it is are under God's curse (according to the Council of Trent, the pronouncements of which have never been rescinded and which were confirmed repeatedly by the Second Vatican Council).
All of these false doctrines - and their many other lies - should be exposed by every orthodox, evangelical leader and preacher regularly and loudly, and the fact that there is so much silence on such an important subject is evidence of the vast compromise and cowardice that exists among those who profess to believe the Bible. 'Big names' in contemporary 'evangelical' Christianity (e.g. Chuck Swindoll, Chuck Colson, Luis Palau, the Graham family, Bill Hybels, Greg Laurie, Warren Wiersbe, Max Lucado, John Maxwell etc.) are never heard vociferously exposing Rome's false teaching and lies in plain Biblical language. There are some excellent web-sites writing about Papal deception but Dave Hunt of The Berean Call was one of the few to put his head on the block by writing a book ('A Woman Rides the Beast') that dealt comprehensively with the horrors of Rome. As a result he was castigated by many of these feeble leaders who are as lax in dealing with 'Word-Faith' error as they are in speaking out about Papal Rome. Hunt's book was banned from evangelical bookstores and invitations to speak through the media were withdrawn. The same attempts to silence him were taken when he wrote 'What Love Is This', an exposé of the errors of Calvinism! While Rick Warren has been allowed to infiltrate thousands of Laodicean churches with his 'PEACE plan' and other moves towards an utterly false 'One World Religion' without a word from the same leaders, Dave Hunt is subjected to moronic attacks for daring to write well-documented and doctrinally sound accounts of errors that are deceiving hundreds of millions of people. We would highly recommend these books (and all The Berean Call materials) - nobody reading this factual account of the Papal Roman Catholic Church will ever think lightly of the popes and their deceptions again!
All cults deceive and condemn many to a totally lost and 'Christless Eternity'!
Consider these facts: it is hard to put an exact figure on the number of people influenced by the 'Word-Faith' deceivers, but it is almost certainly going to be less than the total number following two major pseudo-Christian cults, The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of Jehovah's Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ('The Mormons') - i.e. between 10-22 million (depending on which figures you believe regarding 'nominality' and the 'zealots' of these faiths!). But, as we demonstrated in a similar way on this page (see right-hand sidebar beginning with the title: 'One random survey of 2,000 homes in the region of Barcelona revealed the following:') not one Papal Roman Catholic could explain the Biblical gospel of salvation!
The same kind of calculation made for Roman Catholics has to allow for the fact that about a billion people make claims to be connected with Papal Rome. But most of them have absolutely no idea of what is required for salvation or how to get to heaven (if such a place exists in their minds!), for they are almost totally clueless as to the necessity to know the 'Biblical Jesus' and the true faith that ensures that they can have confidence in Him alone who will never allow anyone to snatch them from His hand
John 10:25-30 - Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.
Witnessing to those trapped in a cult: what we share and when - and the effectiveness of our witness!
The point we wish to emphasise is that a cult damages people in many different ways. While you are correct that, for many people, they '...are just multiple generations following a tradition' and 'most are not 'gung ho' or truly into it as in a cult type religion' - they are all totally lost and on their way to a 'Christless Eternity'! We have had many people try and tell us that they have met Roman Catholics who believed that they were 'saved' through grace by faith in Jesus. The problem with such a statement is that, on its own, it sounds right. But these 'saved Catholics' are not questioned about what they really believe about 'saved by grace' and the nature of the 'faith' they hold because Rome has added so many other factors into 'grace' and 'faith'. We could elaborate but have already written enough on various pages of the site.
Dave Hunt's book goes into ample detail about these matters and we will utilise some more of his material later.
While there are some who get to 'leave and think on [their] own...', sadly, many never escape the 'brainwashing and pounding into [the] head' caused by Papal Rome to the extent that they believe the Papal claims to be the 'one true Church' (other cults make the same claim) and so they never seek the real truth. On-going debates with Papal Roman Catholics of the 'gung ho' type reveal that such believers still exist in Papal Rome and we hope to place more examples of their 'brainwashing' on the website in the future (now completed - start on this page).
The main reason we make this point about Rome is three-fold. One, it does not matter which deception prevents people seeking the true Gospel of the Biblical Lord Jesus Christ - all deceptions lead to a lost eternity in Hell. Two, you may meet family members or friends who remain 'connected' to Rome and will never seek the truth unless someone close to them asks the questions that may cause them to seriously question their beliefs or to research the truth and, while you write '...guess my family will just have to wake up on their own', God has caused you to recognise this evil situation for a reason and the concern you have expressed for them makes us believe that you will not quietly walk away and leave them in the hands of these deceivers without another word. Both 'groups' need help and you may well have a vital part to play. You will certainly suffer some abuse from them for daring to question their 'truth' but, surely, it is a small price to pay for the Saviour who died for you? Thirdly, it is a very common tactic for people trapped in deception to use anything they perceive as weakness against you in this way: if you display a liberal view towards Roman Catholics and they know something of the thousands of foolish claims of the popes (at least as equally foolish as the teachings of Word Faith!) they will say: 'Well, if you think it is alright for so-and-so to be a Catholic, why won't you leave me alone in my beliefs?' We have even known young, recently indoctrinated, Jehovah's Witnesses, refuse to listen to the points made by their liberal Christian parents because they still smoked tobacco (the WBTS leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses are rabidly against smoking and alcohol - although insider research reveals that stress leads to many alcoholic Jehovah's Witnesses!). Paul's warnings about small things that may 'stumble' a brother are relevant to this (Rom. 14:13-23; 1 Cor. 6:12; 8:9-13; 10:23-33; 1 John 2:10), as well as care for the 'temple of the Holy Spirit' (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:12-20; 2 Cor. 6:14-18).
Again, we will not pretend that it will be easy to help your family but just expressing your concern amongst other true believers should cause a larger prayer group to form which can petition God for His guidance in witnessing to these lost souls. We quoted this Scripture on our home page:
1 Peter 3:13-17 (NASB) - 13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
Also of interest, from a 'Word-Faith' doctrinal howler point-of-view, is the clear statement about God 'willing' a good disciple of Christ to 'suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong'! See the reply to Tom Wood's attempt to defend 'Word-Faith' leader, Ray Bevan, for a fuller refutation of their 'do not ask to know God's will when you're demanding something in faith' doctrine!
Another factor connecting these groups is the nature of our Christian witness to them. We are e-mailing you a fairly brief guide to witnessing to those trapped in 'Word-Faith' which we wrote some years ago for a father who had lost his son to this cult - now on the website on this page under the title:
Guidelines to help deliver your loved one(s) from 'Word-Faith' - or any other cult!
Part of the learning process in witnessing to those trapped in a cult is the nature of what we share with them and when, and the effectiveness of our witness is definitely related to our own 'walk with the Lord' (i.e. following the Bible closely which will lead to greater holiness and purity as we discard ideas that we may have once thought were acceptable to Him).Cults deceive by presenting 'another Jesus' (2 Corinthians 11v4) and 'another gospel' (Galatians 1v6-9)!
While 'Word-Faith' believers are conned by 'frauds with their gold dust and angel feathers and God speaking to them', Roman Catholics are conned by popes with their 'Immaculate Virgin Mary co-Mediatrix; transubstantiated wafers (which rot when left to the elements for a few days); coloured scapulars (that can gain you early escape from purgatory); indulgences (that allow you to sin freely for a set period, or escape purgatory earlier); and a host of related deceptions that Hunt has exposed thoroughly, e.g.:
'Innocent VIII (1484-92), for example, had granted the 20-year Butterbriefe indulgence. For a certain sum one could purchase the privilege of eating favorite dishes during Lent and at other times of fasting. It was a way to be credited with fasting while indulging oneself in the richest of foods. The people believed that the popes had such power. After all, wasn't whatever the vicars of Christ bound or loosed on earth similarly bound or loosed in heaven? The proceeds from this enterprising scheme built the bridge over the Elbe. Julius III (1550-5) renewed this indulgence (for a handsome fee) for another 20 years after he came to office. ... (p185)
... Well-meaning Protestants, wanting to believe the best, imagine that Roman Catholicism has rid itself of past abominations, including indulgences. Charles Colson's book The Body contains examples of such incorrect information. Though the book eloquently speaks much truth, it erroneously presents Roman Catholicism as biblical Christianity and calls for union therewith on the part of evangelicals. Colson writes: "The Reformers, for example, assailed the corrupt practices of indulgences; today they [indulgences] are gone (save for the modern-day equivalent practices by some unscrupulous television hucksters, ironically mostly Protestants, who promise healing and blessing for contributions)." [TCE: Ironic that Colson should mention the 'Word-Faith' con-men while seemingly remaining ignorant of the unceasing scams, past and present, of Papal Rome!]
We endorse his condemnation of "unscrupulous television hucksters," but wonder at his incorrect interpretation of Rome. A major document of Vatican II devotes 17 pages to explaining indulgences and how to obtain them and excommunicates and damns any who deny that the Church has the right to grant indulgences today for salvation. ... The rules are complex and ludicrous as well as abominable. Try to imagine God honoring such regulations as granting certain indulgences "only on set days appointed by the Holy See" or that a "plenary indulgence, applicable only to the dead, can be gained in all churches ... on November 2," etc. The entire teaching on indulgences denies the sufficiency of Christ's redemptive sacrifice for sins upon the cross. (See Appendix B for further details.) [TCE: the book examines indulgences and the picture they paint of this vile cult more fully reveals the extent of this evil than can be expressed in a few pages here]
Some ancient indulgences even remain in force today. A recent notice in Inside the Vatican reminded Catholics that on August 28 and 29, 1994, an unusual opportunity for obtaining a special indulgence would occur:
Pope Celestine V gave a Holy Door to the Cathedral of Maria Collemaggio in his Bull of 29 September, 1294. To obtain this "perdonanza" indulgence, it's necessary to be in the Cathedral between 18:00 (6 P.M.) 28 August and 18:00 (6 P.M.) 29 August, to truly repent of one's sins, and to confess and go to mass and communion within 8 days of the visit. The Holy Door is open every year, but this year, 1994, is the 700th anniversary of the Bull of Pardon.
... Inside the door of the Wittenberg castle church to which Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses were relics (including an alleged lock of the Virgin Mary's hair) offering 2 million years in indulgences to those venerating them according to prescribed rules. Never has the Roman Catholic Church apologized for having led multitudes astray in this manner. And how does one apologize to souls now in hell for having sold them a bogus "ticket to heaven"?
For both ingenuity and infamy, no money-grabbing scheme of the past or of today's unscrupulous television hucksters even comes close to the sale of indulgences. It provided much cash for the popes at the time of the Reformation. In A.D. 593 Pope Gregory I had first proposed the unbiblical (but ultimately very profitable) idea that there was a place called "purgatory" in which the spirits of the dead suffered in order to be purged of their sins and fully delivered from "the debt of eternal punishment." This fabrication was declared to be a Church dogma by the Council of Florence in 1439 and remains an important part of Roman Catholicism today.
It was not such abominable heresies, however, that divided Roman Catholics. All seemed content with the promise that the Church would somehow get them to heaven, no matter how repugnant to common sense and justice the methods were. As Chamberlin has said, "the eye of faith was blind to the incidental discrepancies." (p186-8)
Evangelical leaders who accept Catholics as Christians often say, "I found that I had more in common with Catholics than with liberal Protestants." True, and one could have more in common politically or ethically even with conservative atheists or Buddhists than with liberal Protestants. But salvation has nothing to do with politics, ethics, or social action. A Catholic may be very moral and/or politically conservative, but when it comes to salvation, his Church's dogmas are the very antithesis of what the Bible teaches.
An ex-Catholic, cut off by his family (who won't even discuss the issues), explains what Catholics trust in for salvation:
I am so grieved over what the Catholic Church is doing to members of my own family. It is sending my mother to hell. She sees no need to know Jesus or to read the Bible because of her belief that as long as she is in right standing with Jesus' Church that's all that is needed. After all, she attends Mass every Sunday and holy day of obligation. She is up on her confession and penance and she regularly performs corporal works of mercy and recites many prayers to saints and Mary for indulgences. Her good deeds and the administration of so-called sacraments are her passbook through the pearly gates once she's spent her allotted time burning in Purgatory to pay for what sins might remain. And Peter himself has the keys to give her entrance into heaven and he passed those keys on to the popes, so she thinks she's got it made.
Salvation: By Grace or by Works?
There is nothing in the gospel Paul preached about the "work of salvation" being "set in train" through Catholic liturgy, as Vatican II declares. Salvation is totally a work of God and Christ, finished once and for all upon the cross, with nothing for man to do because there is nothing man can do. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12) cannot possibly mean that we are to work for our salvation (a concept soundly condemned in Scripture); it can only mean that, having been saved, we are now to live the outworking of that salvation as those "created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
A sinner (which we all are) can no more save himself than a corpse can give itself a blood transfusion. By nature we are "dead in trespasses and in sins" (Ephesians 2:1; cf. Colossians 2:13). In Catholicism, however, man has only "been wounded by sin," but is not dead in sin. Thus he can work for his salvation:
Man gains such [God-given] dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward towards his goal by freely choosing what is good, and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.
On the contrary, the Bible teaches that even the "righteousness" of a sinner is but "filthy rags" in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6). Only after being saved can we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, do good works - not to earn our salvation, but because we love Him who saved us. To be saved, man must acknowledge his guilt and helplessness to save himself and must believe in what Christ has done, accepting His substitutionary payment of the penalty for sin. The Bible repeatedly states that salvation is by grace through faith and not of works: "Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved" (Acts 15:11); "By grace ye are saved" (Ephesians 2:5); "The grace of God that bringeth salvation" (Titus 2:11).
Grace cannot be granted on the basis of a mere book-keeping entry in heaven, but by the debt having been paid in full by Christ: "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24). The Catholic gospel of salvation by works and ritual stands in the fullest opposition to God's grace. It is, in fact, a rejection of God's offer of salvation by grace through faith in what Christ has done. It requires that Christ's sacrifice be supplemented by our works and/or suffering.
The gospel that we must believe to be saved is called "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24) because "by grace are ye saved." Grace by its very nature excludes works. Paul argues: "If by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work" (Romans 11:6). One cannot earn, merit, or pay for grace or else it would no longer be grace. Salvation can only be received from God as a gift of His grace by those who admit they neither deserve it nor can do anything to earn or merit it.
Vatican II repeatedly teaches salvation by works. Any active Catholic is earning his salvation. Some priests and nuns even today put stones in their shoes, wear haircloth shirts, and flagellate themselves to earn their salvation. Go to any Catholic country on Church holidays and see penitents beating themselves, pilgrims crawling upon their knees toward some Marian shrine, others staggering under heavy crosses, and still others hoping to better their chances of salvation by purchasing candles to burn before an image of "our lady" of this or that or some other "saint." In some places, such as the Philippines, a few zealots even have themselves nailed to crosses to hang in agony for a time to pay at least part of the price for their own salvation and for others as well. Far from rebuking these efforts, Rome encourages them. Salvation by works is so clearly taught in Rome's dogmas and so widely practiced by the faithful that none can deny it.
Remember Julian Hernandez, burned at the stake on December 22, 1560, in Seville, Spain, for bringing Bibles into that country from Germany? He was also immolated for believing that "whoever has faith in Jesus Christ, and trusts only in the merits of Him, is certain of going to heaven. ..." Imagine being condemned to the flames for believing the gospel of God's grace! Yet hundreds of thousands of others were slain by Rome for this reason.
The Gospel According to Rome
One must carefully define terms in discussion with a Catholic. Catholicism employs many biblical words (grace, redemption, salvation, etc.), but with an unbiblical meaning.Mary's Role in Salvation
Catholicism affirms that Christ is the only begotten Son of God, one with the Father, who died for our sins, rose the third day, and will return to earth to reign. To that truth, however, have been added dogmas which pervert the gospel. Ignorant of these additions, many evangelicals think Catholics are Christians and pass that delusion on to others.
Catholic apologists such as InterVarsity author Peter Kreeft encourage such confusion by insisting that Catholics "are saved by God's free grace, not by working their way to heaven." Yet Catholicism is all about "working one's way to heaven"! Kreeft hides the fact that "saved by God's free grace" means to the Catholic that original sin is wiped clean by baptism and that one may now earn one's way to heaven through good deeds, penance, eating Christ's body and blood in the Eucharist, prayers to Mary and the saints, qualifying for indulgences, and a host of other means. Furthermore, "grace" is not available to the Catholic directly from Christ or God but comes through the Church and its sacraments and especially through Mary, who is called "the dispenser of all grace."
The Catholic Church has long taught that "all grace is passed from God to Jesus, from Jesus to Mary, and from Mary to us. The grace of God, cure for our ills, comes to us through Mary like water through an aqueduct." ... St. Bernadine said:
[A]ll gifts, all virtues, and all graces are dispensed by the hands of Mary to whomsoever, when, and as she pleases. O Lady, since thou art the dispenser of all graces, and since the grace of salvation can only come through thy hands, our salvation depends on thee. ...
Mary plays the key role in salvation. St. Bernard said: "All men, past, present, and to come should look upon Mary as the means and negotiator of salvation. ..." ... Here is a sample of what the chief Catholic saints have said about Mary's role in salvation:
St. Bonaventure says, "the gates of heaven will open to all who confide in the protection of Mary." St. Ephrem calls devotion to the divine Mother "the unlocking of the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem." Blosius also says, "To thee, O Lady, are committed the keys and the treasures of the kingdom of heaven." And therefore we ought constantly to pray to her, in the words of St. Ambrose, "Open to us, O Mary, the gates of paradise, since thou hast its keys." Nay more, the Church says, "Thou art its gate." "For," says the saint [Fulgentius], "by Mary God descended from heaven into the world, that by her man might ascend from earth to heaven." "And thou, O Lady," says St. Athanasius, "wast filled with grace, that thou mightest be the way of our salvation and the means of ascent to the heavenly kingdom." ... "Blessed are they who know thee, O Mother of God," says St. Bonaventure; "for the knowledge of thee is the high road to everlasting life, and the publication of thy virtues is the way of eternal salvation." "Mary ...," says Richard of St. Laurence, "is the mistress of heaven; for there she commands as she wills, and admits whom she wills." ... Hence, says the Abbot Guerric, "he who serves Mary and for whom she intercedes, is as certain of heaven as if he was already there ... [and] those who do not serve Mary will not be saved...." St. Bonaventure exclaims, "Give ear, O ye nations; and all you who desire heaven, serve, honor Mary, and certainly you will find eternal life." "It suffices, O Lady," says St. Anselm, "that thou willest it, and our salvation is certain." And St. Antoninus says that "souls protected by Mary, and on which she casts her eyes, are necessarily justified and saved."
Another more recent author also quotes saints from the past: "The Church and the saints greet her thus: 'You, O Mary, together with Jesus Christ, redeemed us. . . . O Mary, our salvation is in your hands. . . . She is co-Redemptrix of the human race, because with Christ she ransomed mankind from the power of Satan. Jesus redeemed us with the blood of His body, Mary with the agonies of her heart . . . suffer[ing] in her heart whatever was lacking in the passion of Christ." ... A popular tract titled "Heaven Opened by the Practice of the THREE HAIL MARYS" promises:
One of the greatest means of salvation and one of the surest signs of predestination is unquestionably the devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. All the holy doctors of the Church are unanimous in saying with St. Alphonsus of Liguori: "A devout servant of Mary shall never perish...."
I consecrate to Thee [Mary] my heart with all its affections, and beseech Thee to obtain for me from the Most Holy Trinity all the graces necessary for salvation.' (p353-356) [TCE: reference numbers to Dave Hunt's careful annotation have been removed for brevity]
TCE: We have included the final section on genuine salvation by grace to ensure that you realise the nature of the deception perpetrated by Rome and because, while you write of the deceived in 'Word-Faith' 'they all think [they] have the gift of prophetic word' you also added 'at least catholics just go to church and get on with it'. We hope you realise that these deceived 'catholics' are 'get[ting] ... on with' their own fast-track to Hell and it is simply a variant deception no more or less damning than that of the 'Word-Faith' heretics!
We will send the other material soon after this reply unless we hear from you to the contrary.
Trusting you receive this mail in the spirit in which it is intended (Ephesians 5:9):
'For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth'.
In Christ Jesus
(Continued on next page)