Q & A Series – A Four-Part Question:

 

·       on Trinitarian beliefs,

·       self-proclaimed Heresy Hunters,

·       what church Craig attends, &

·       his opinion of Hank Hanegraaff

 

Dear Craig,

 

My first and most important question is inspired by what I was reading in several studies I found located in the section titled, ‘Craig’s Bible Studies.’  I found mention of what is known as, “Trinitarian belief,” in articles I read that were written by you, and also by David Maas.  If a Christian says that they believe God is, “One true God,” and that this same God has, “revealed Himself as the Creator of all things, the Redeemer of mankind, Who is infinitely perfect and eternally manifested as a triune Being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” is this the Trinity and/or trinitarian belief?

 

To preface my next question, it concerns something written in one of your articles titled, “What Is Speaking In Tongues? Part Five,” under the section titled, “Guilt by Association & Church Insecurity.”  You wrote, “Technically I suppose I am considered a charismatic, since I pray in other tongues, but in no way would I ever associate myself with the gospel of greed promulgated by the likes of the televangelists like you-know-who.” 

 

So my second question is is, to whom do you refer and which individual person are you pin pointing in your description, “…televangelists like you-know-who?” 

 

My third is a two-part curiosity and personal question; to begin with, do you have a church that you attend?  From the gist of some articles written by you, it appears to me that you might stand alone, and I was wondering if that is true?

 

My fourth last and final question, (I promise), what do you think of Hank Hanegraaff?

 

You are awesome, and thank you for being an obedient servant of God.  I believe that God is uncovering many things and providing me with an abundance of His wisdom.  Your site is providing many resources and opening my eyes to things; through this study of His word, I now feel a confidence that only He supplies.  Without your knowledge and wisdom, I would have never known where to begin looking, so I thank you Craig.

 

In His love, praying for you to be blessed,

 

Stephen

 

 

Craig’s Reply & Answers to all four questions

 

 

 

Hi Stephen,

 

Thank you for your encouragements brother, now let me answer your first question below:

 

1. I found mention of what is known as, “Trinitarian belief,” in articles I read that were written by you, and by David Maas.  I am curious, if a person says that they believe that God is, “One true God and that this same God has revealed Himself as the Creator of all things and Redeemer of mankind, Who is infinitely perfect and eternally manifested as a triune Being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” is this the Trinity and/or trinitarian belief?

 

The answer to your question above is not as simple as a ‘yes’ & ‘no’ reply Stephen.  In fact, responding adequately requires a lengthy, complex explanation about theological issues.  Without providing you at least some historical background as the basis for my answers, anything I say concerning trinitarian belief is likely to be misunderstood or unwittingly misconstrued.  Since the doctrine of the Trinity and related ‘trinitarian’ beliefs touches a sensitive doctrinal nerve, (being much more touchy a subject to discuss than the debate about speaking in tongues), I humbly ask that you always check your motives when discussing this, or any controversial doctrinal subject with other believers.

 

I must also warn you, engaging fellow Christian brothers and sisters in a discussion that challenges the authenticity of the Trinity and uncovers its origin may often turn into a heated argument, since the trinitarian belief originates from Roman Catholic Church creeds, and born-again Christians that defend it, charismatic or otherwise, do so by compromising the purity of scripture.  They do not defend it with malice or wrong motives, for the most part, to be sure.  To most believers, the Trinity is deep-seated, and their protective reaction to anyone that challenges the Trinity stems from basic ignorance, believing they are making a defense for the character of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (even though most Christians would be at a loss to provide a uniform definition or description of the Trinity).

 

To begin, the brief trinitarian statement, which you provided in the preface to your question, reads very much like a quote taken from an individual church, ‘Statement of Faith,’ something like what a person might find printed on the back of a church bulletin.  Most churches, Christian or otherwise, have a set of teachings representative of what their organization believes and these teachings are known as ‘church doctrines.’  Christian churches are supposed to base all doctrine on the solid foundation and final authority of God’s word, which is the Scriptures, inspired (God-breathed) as penned by the authors of each book, as written in the ancient languages of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. 

 

It is important to emphasize that a Christian’s doctrinal belief in the Trinity, or the denial of the same should not be used as the basis for breaking fellowship.  Unfortunately, in recent church history, the term ‘cult’ has been the all-too-often misused, misdiagnosed label that Christians have erroneously affixed to any church whose doctrine deviated from the mainstream, traditional Christian church.

 

How this mishandling of such an inflammatory label as the word ‘cult’ came about is due a short lesson in history, to clear the air for those too young to remember, or those uninvolved with the Christian faith at the time it happened.  As most Americans know, during the 1960’s our society went thru a cultural transformation, as the hippy movement swept across the nation, partly as a youth oriented protest against the Vietnam War, but more so a rebellion against the traditional values of the post-WW11 and post-Korean War generation.  Drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll stormed into overturn and erode what was perceived as the American dream, but by the late 60’s, the teenagers that had started this moral revolution with chants of “free love” and “peace” were burned out, bleary-eyed potheads looking for some type of spiritual awakening.

 

Subsequent to this spiritual hunger, in the late 60’s and early 70’s revival hit the nation during what is now known as, “the Jesus People Movement,” and suddenly what had been a wave of LSD, marijuana, and sexual promiscuity became a tidal wave of born-again, Bible totin’ hippies, ready to learn more about God, Jesus, and the Bible.   As these eager upstarts flooded the old-line church denominations, the stiff, formal, routine Sunday morning church services seemed all too foreign, and dramatic changes in music and other areas of worship were at hand.  At the same time, many of the newly born-again Jesus people were abandoning organized Christianity for a more fluid, organic type of Christian communal living, while others were drawn too dozens of emerging, off sects with religious beliefs rooted in eastern mysticism.

 

Also hard at work to capitalize on the growing tide of spiritual enthusiasm, other false religions, such as the Mormon Church, also known as the LDS (Latter Day Saints) or the corporate name, ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ and the Jehovah’s Witnesses were embarking on their own recruitment schemes.  The combination of all of the aforementioned and more during the late 60’s and 70’s caused ever-increasing concern amongst Christian church leadership, whether mainline evangelicals or the older Pentecostal denominations, concerning the rise of cults and false religions.  This concern grew into a sort of cult-phobia, which certain opportunistic individuals saw as their chance to shine, writing books that offered a categorization of cults in paperback form for Christians to arm themselves with knowledge.

 

The ever-increasing hype about cults that dominated mainstream Christian thought during the late 60’s, escalating in the 70’s, gained widespread acceptance by the evangelical and charismatic Christian churches by the 80’s.  By this time Bible Colleges were offering courses in sectarian doctrines, and traveling the ‘Christian conference’ circuit across America were key individuals gaining notoriety as ‘cult experts.’  Some of these individuals played an important role for that season in the spiritual maturity of the Christian churches, educating people with books, audio-cassette messages, gospel tracts and pamphlets, etc, and equipping believers about the spiritual counterfeits that were all about the country.  Christian radio and television broadcasting, which had carved itself a niche in the media by now, featured programs with some articulate, some flamboyant figures.  Christian radio programs emerged, with the main host providing born-again listeners with live broadcasts daily, whereby phone callers could ask questions, not only about cults, but also the Bible, Christian doctrine, theology and more.

 

This is where a definite shift took place, and now these acclaimed ‘cult experts’ took on the persona of what I consider to be the spiritual equivalent of self-appointed vigilante, professing to have all the answers to any question asked about the Bible, cults, and what these misguided individual alleged to be ‘Christian-cults’ and/or Christian beliefs that had ‘cult-like tendencies.’  Their radio ‘ministry’ evolved into a spiritual cancer, as these self-made ‘heresy hunters’ whose reputation was built on the genuine work of others in an era gone-by, began posing as Christendom’s principal theological and Christological watchdog.  Through their radio ministry, these men, who in reality were not called of God at all, openly broad-brushed born-again believers by categorizing as, “cult,” anyone or group that diverges from what they perceive as mainstream, “Christian orthodoxy.”  Nowadays, these type of bogus ministries use the air waves to run amuck, fanning the flames of animosity and schism amongst Christians, using their public ministry for greed, selling books, tapes, CD’s, etc, while they use their platform in television and radio broadcasting to defame good men and women of God as, “heretical,” simply because of their rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity. 

 

For several years, my heart has grieved whenever listening to this type radio programming, knowing that inevitably I will encounter the fruit of such ungodly, unloving, deceptive, and unrelenting verbal assault on others, whose beliefs differ from their own, obsessed with endearment of the doctrine of the Trinity.  These particular individuals, whom I will withhold naming in the event they should choose to repent of this wickedness, rely more heavily on the writings of Roman Catholic Church fathers, such as Eusebius, or the writings of false teachers such as Thomas Aquinas and others, as being the true authorities of scripture interpretation than solid study of the Scriptures.  Oh sure, they SAY the scripture is the final word in all doctrinal matters, but HOW or in what manner the scripture is to be interpreted, in their ‘expert’ opinion, lies within the creeds of Christendom, written by church fathers, whose knowledge of the Holy Writ supercedes our modern interpretations and hermeneutical objectives. 

 

To define and describe the nature of God and Christ and to bolster their esteem as the spiritually intellectual elite, they use long, extra-scriptural, antiquated, but impressive ecclesiastical exegesis and words, that most of the Christian listening audience hasn’t the faintest clue as to the meaning.  In this, and other mannerisms, they differ little from the religious critics that Jesus encountered as he refuted the teachings, attitudes, and behavior of the Pharisees, scribes, lawyers, and the Sadducees.     For example, these learned men, so called, use words like, “Christophany,” (from the Greek phaneros ‘to reveal’ & Christós) as a means to explain imaginary appearances or manifestations of Jesus in the Old Testament (which is false teaching, founded upon dualism and the doctrine of the Trinity). 

 

They also quote liberally from historians and church fathers, (i.e. - false teachers), such as Eusebius, Tertullian, Augustine, Origen and others from the ante-Nicene, Nicene, and post-Nicene eras, so that the listener unfamiliar with Scripture could mistakenly confuse these men with the apostles and men of God in the Bible.  Their brand of ecumenicism integrates the Roman Catholic Church into what they consider to be the traditional Christian Church based solely upon the fact they have a body of doctrines that include the ‘essentials’ fundamental to Christendom’s ‘orthodoxy.’  Pure hogwash if you ask me.  

 

It isn’t the disagreement in doctrinal exegesis that bothers me the most about the heresy hunters Stephen, but their overt condescension of others whenever selectively targeting one a theological or Christological opponent.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are to speak the truth, by all means, but ALWAYS in love and those who act as if they are God’s appointed doctrinal censors by passing judgment on His children should be considered dangerous, cunning, and no different from other evil imposters in the church.  In fact, men that misuse the name of Christ, by representing themselves as alleged Christian teachers, fall into a category of stricter judgment by the Almighty.  Their craftiness and scheming is described by Jesus as being, “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” 

 

James 3:1-2 Not many of you should become teachers, self-constituted censors and reprovers of others, my brethren, for you know that we teachers will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation. For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things.  And if anyone does not offend in speech, or never says the wrong things, he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature.  Amplified Bible

 

In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, the apostle Paul warns about men that pretend to be Christian Bible teachers, calling them false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  You may think this preliminary caution is too long-winded, but it is time and effort well invested, because it will hopefully spare others from causing the same tremendous division in the body of Christ.  I have witnessed firsthand the bitter and rotten fruit of this kind of watchdog/heresy-hunter/cult-expert/witch-hunt type of ministry.  I have been on the receiving end of the rancorous words spewed forth by those who claim to speak and act with authority by virtue of what they have listened to and imbibed the daily radio ministry broadcast of these types of men. 

 

Over the years, while doing street outreach at The Bible Answer Stand Ministry I was frequently approached by radio ministry disciples of the aforementioned type, who harshly condemned and used all manner of slander, animosity, false accusation, rash judgments, and ungodly anger to “expose” me as a “false teacher” because I reject the Trinity.  Lacking in love, gentleness, patience, some of these people have even manifested hatred towards other born-again Christian brethren and me.  A tree is known by its fruit, and a teacher is known by his disciples, according to Jesus (Luke 6:39-45). 

 

To me, the foremost motive behind all godly instruction or correction should always be God’s love, and correcting false teaching should be done in gentleness, love, compassionate, with God’s leading and wisdom, and with the aim of building up the other person’s faith, without compromising the truth.  In his letters of instruction to Timothy regarding the problems he would assuredly encounter within the churches he was teaching, the apostle Paul makes some very poignant statements about the subject of doctrine.

 

2 Timothy 3:1-7, 12-15 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.  They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women… always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth… In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus WILL BE persecuted, while evil men AND IMPOSTORS will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.   New International Version

 

One thing in the passages above, which should stand out to you, is the wide range of deception that exists WITHIN the church amongst professed Christians.  I do not advocate naivety because the scriptures command us to be wise and discerning. You cannot glibly see everybody as being good and speaking via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit just because he or she claims to be Christian.  Learning discernment without losing the gentle and tender love of God is something that will always be challenging.  In Matthew 10:16 Jesus told his disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  Can you guess what he said in the next verse (17)?  “But BEWARE OF MEN!”

 

The sad reality is this: evil men and women imposters in the church will always flourish for one main reason, which is simply because Christians continue to support them.  Why do they support these deceivers?  Because these same Christians love the brand of darkness being promoted; the message appeals to their flesh and plays upon their greed, pride, and self-serving motives.  We’re all familiar with John 3:16, “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten son…” and we love to quote John 3:17, “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.”  However, do we as Christians frequently quote John 3:19, “…judgment is based on this fact: The light came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.”  Ouch!

 

The Amplified Bible version of John 3:19 gives detailed insight why there is so much deception in the Christian churches, “The basis of the judgment, indictment, and the test by which men are judged, the ground for the sentence lies in this: the Light has come into the world, and people have loved the darkness rather than and more than the Light, for their works (deeds) were evil.”  The same holds true with false doctrines, such as the Trinity, prosperity message, etc.  The punctuates the importance of basing our lives and teaching firmly upon the foundation of Scripture.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. New King James Version

 

Technically speaking, if a person says that they believe that God is, “One true God and that this same God has revealed Himself as the Creator of all things and Redeemer of mankind, Who is infinitely perfect and eternally manifested as a triune Being, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” this is contrary to the clear teaching in Scripture, as is all doctrine that espouses the triune nature of God.

 

The reason that it is incorrect to associate the term, “one true God,” with words like, “triune, trinity, three-in-one, etc,” is because these terms do not originate from scripture, and the word trinity was first used by the Roman Catholic Church in what is known as ‘The Athanasian Creed.’  This link will take you to a study I did several years ago that compares the contradictions of the trinity with scripture.  This creed was drafted by so-called Catholic, ‘church fathers,’ for the intent purpose of blending Neo-Platonist forms of dualism with New Testament theology and Christology.  The church fathers invented terms like triune to be part of the Roman Catholic Church doctrine, expressed in writing thru its creeds. 

 

Notably, one of these Catholic church fathers, (which I prefer to label as wolves, false teachers, liars, and deceivers), was a man named Tertullian.  In the 2nd century, Tertullian is credited as being the first theologian to use the word, “Trinity,” to distort the nature of the, “One True God,” by altering His intrinsic nature, as we find it in Scripture.  He redefined God’s nature as, “One God that co-exists as three separate, individual Persons of God.”  This was done to adapt and conform Christianity to the Greco-Roman pantheon, which, like scores of ancients societies and cultures before it, always held three deities as prominent and chief among other gods and goddesses.

 

During the first five centuries after the initial birth of the Christian church at Pentecost, the doctrine of the Trinity came about as false teachers collaborated together to mingle New Testament theology and Christology with Greco-Roman polytheism (belief in many gods), Philonic Judaism (Using Greek Platonic philosophy to allegorically interpret the Hebrew Old Testament, thereby identifying Elohim as one & the same as Plato’s ‘Demiurge’), and Greek philosophy via Neo-Platonic dualism.  Plato taught that the world (cosmos) was created when the Demiurge, using wisdom (sophia) made use of the pre-incarnate logos and the intermediary thru which all things came to be.  This is similar language as that found expressed in the writing of the early church fathers, who were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, which the apostle Paul warned about in his letter to the Colossians.

 

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men's ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding the teachings of Christ.  Amplified Bible

 

In fact, the first Christian trinity consisted of three principal deities that historians find remarkably similar to the Roman gods, God the Father (compared to Jupiter), his God-Son Jesus (compared to Hercules, the “god-man” son of Jupiter), and Mary, Mother of God’s Son, (compared to Juno, sister-wife of Jupiter); the Roman Catholic Church still holds to the belief that Mary is, “the Mother of God.” 

 

Because the gods were an important part of everyday Roman life, integrating dualism into the worship of their deities made them seemingly more tangible.  According to Roman scholar Marcus Terentius Varro, only after the Romans came into contact with Greek culture in the 6th century BC did they begin to represent their gods in human form.  Over the last three centuries before Christ was born, writers such as Virgil and Ovid grafted the names and functions of Roman gods onto Greek literary and artistic tradition, creating a hybrid Greco-Roman mythology that has inspired poets and painters from antiquity to the present day.[1]

 

By the time of Christ, worshipping a, “god in human form,” was well-developed and quite common among the mystery religions and their, “savior gods.”  The Roman concept of gods with anthropomorphic persona paved the way for the devil to use false teachers, infiltrate the teachings of the Christian church, and turn Jesus Christ from a man of God, born of a woman in Bethlehem, made under the Law, (Galatians 4:4) into the Christian version of what Romans referred to as a, “God in human form.”  However, to accomplish this feat, and make it palatable to the worshippers of Roman gods and to Christians alike, theological manipulation involving Rome’s political power thru Emperor Constantine would be necessary.  

 

Observation of the development in Roman religion near the time of Christ gives you an idea of how people felt about mortal men making themselves out to be divine.  It was one thing to attribute human traits to a god or goddess, but it was quite the opposite to convert a living human being into a god.  As the Romans expanded their holdings to the east, they encountered the phenomenon of ‘divine kingship.’  At first, they rejected the idea that a human ruler should be worshiped as a god.  But in 44 BC, Roman ruler Julius Caesar permitted a statue to be erected to himself bearing the inscription deo invicto (“to the unvanquished god”), and declared himself dictator for life.  That same year Caesar was assassinated by citizens who were unhappy with his dictatorial regime and wanted to see a return to Rome’s earlier republican ideals.

 

While Caesar’s heir, Octavian, took the name Augustus and made himself the first emperor of Rome, he also avoided any claim to divinity.  In the first century of the Roman Empire, the idea of the divinization of emperors was often ridiculed.  The philosopher and playwright Seneca mocked the imperial divinization of Claudius I as the, “Pumpkinification of Claudius.”

 

As the government of the Roman Empire became more and more autocratic, giving rulers almost unlimited power, emperors eventually accepted divine honors, and sacrifice to the emperor came to be required as a token of loyalty. The requirement of sacrifice became a significant source of conflict between early Christians, who resisted the practice, and the Roman political authorities who enforced it.  This fact itself alone should be proof that the early Christians did NOT worship Jesus Christ as their, “God-man.” 

 

The deification of Christ came about much later, when the period of emperors being considered gods ended in the 4th century AD, as Emperor Constantine the Great became the first Roman emperor to (allegedly) convert to Christianity.  By the end of the 4th century, Emperor Theodosius I, who was a supporter of orthodox Christianity, officially banned the practice of the old Roman pagan religion.

 

The Romans worshiped their gods in a grand temple on the Capitoline Hill in Rome; they were known as the Capitoline triad.  The triad is a trinity of three deities that consisted of Jupiter and the two goddesses Juno and Minerva.  Jupiter was viewed as the sovereign, or head, of the Roman state.  Juno was both the protector of women in marriage and childbirth and was the patron deity of several communities in ancient Italy.  The Romans worshiped her under several names, including Juno Sospita (Juno the Savior) and Juno Regina (Juno the Queen of heaven). 

 

The Romans also adopted Greek heroes into their mythology.  Perhaps the best-known figure was the Greek hero Heracles, who became known in Rome as Hercules.  As Rome expanded and became a hub of international commerce, more and more foreign gods found their way into the culture.  Especially popular were the so-called savior-gods of religious orders known as mystery religions.  Savior-gods such as Mithra, the ancient Persian god of light and wisdom, offered the promise of individual salvation through the belief in the immortality of the soul.

 

Mystery religions such as Mithraism were open only to the initiated.  As a result, many people saw them as offering a greater sense of community than traditional Roman religion.  Scholars have noted similarities between mystery religions and the early Christian church, which took root in the Roman world when mystery religions were popular and widespread.[2]

 

Careful historical research easily documents that Christendom’s Trinity evolved from the three principal Roman deities, Jupiter (formerly known as Zeus), the Roman god, ‘Hercules,’ (formerly the Greek god Heracles) and Juno, alleged by many to be the birth mother of Hercules.  Jupiter was the ruler of the Roman pantheon, and he exhibited many of the characteristics of his Greek counterpart, Zeus.  To give you an idea of how ancient kingdoms upon conquering another nation, and subsequently adopted their gods and made them their own, consider the Etruscans.

 

The Etruscans had also adopted gods from the Greek pantheon, or family of gods, and many of these divinities were passed on to the Romans.  Zeus, the Greek god of the skies, for example, had a counterpart in the Roman god Jupiter, while Hera, the sister-wife of Zeus and queen of the gods, became the Roman goddess Juno. 

 

Roman mythology held that Jupiter was Supreme god, making him the ideal candidate for false teachers, who then likened Jupiter to Elohim (God) of the Hebrew Old Testament and to God the Father in the Greek New Testament.  In view of the fact that Roman mythology held Jupiter to be the god-husband of the goddess-wife Juno, his role as the father-god of Hercules, would be compared to God the Father conceiving Jesus in Mary. 

 

Mary was subsequently likened to the Roman goddess Juno and this elevated her from human form to the status of the divine.  As a result, her part in the devil’s plan to deceive God’s people, was viewed the same as the role Juno had been to the Romans for centuries as, “the queen of heaven.”  Since false teachers were comparing Jesus to Hercules, (the ‘god-man’) this further elevated Mary’s divine status.  She became known throughout the Roman Empire as, “the mother of god.” 

 

Since Hercules was already being adopted into Greco-Roman mythology and worshipped as one of the “savior gods” widespread throughout the Roman Empire in the mystery religions, he became the obvious precursor counterpart of the soon-to-be Christian, “God in human form,” (Jesus Christ).  The early church fathers, who are the false prophets and teachers that Paul and the other apostles and authors of the New Testament write about in their warnings to the early church, had every intention of theologically exploiting these similarities between Jupiter, Juno, and Hercules, and the characters revered by Christians in the New Testament, would appeal to the Roman citizens, since adopting gods from other cultures and nations was already a long-standing practice. 

 

Hercules was also considered by most to be the principal figure, revered by the masses as one of the, “savior gods,” which made pulling the wool over the eyes of unwittingly and indifferent pagan Roman worshippers all too simple.  The TRUE believers were those who worshipped ONE God of the Scriptures thru the only mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus,  (I Timothy 2:5; John 17:1-5).  These believers resisted the deification of Jesus Christ and the Roman triad (trinity), and as a result, they were hunted down ruthlessly by the leaders of the state-sanctioned Roman Catholic Church.

 

Dualism, a term borrowed from Plato by Greek and Jewish philosophers, sages, scholars, intellectuals and teachers in Alexandria during the first century, was also later used by the church fathers to develop a detailed description of the parallels between Greco-Roman Hercules and Christ.  Careful planning and cunning were used to explain in “cosmic” form, making thorough use of familiar philosophical Greek words and rhetoric, the process by which two natures, one human the other divine, were joined together, and made into one in the ‘Person of Christ’ or the more common term, ‘one Christ.’  This process came to be known in Christian theological circles as the, “hypostasis” and the joining of two natures (divine & human) was called, “the hypostatic union.”  Jesus’ nature as a man was then deceptively altered, so that eventually he became accepted by most as, “perfect God and perfect man.”

 

From the first thru third centuries AD, so-called ‘church fathers’ borrowed heavily from Greek philosophy and religion, woven together with the Greek New Testament to create a unique form of Christology in a false teaching now called, ‘the dual nature of Christ.’  The mixture of false Christology and theological concepts borrowed from the Greco-Roman pantheon and the Bible were eventually embodied in creed form, by Roman Catholic Church theologians using of terms like “triune, Trinity, Three Person of God, etc,” to redefine God’s name and nature.  These polytheistic terms and words are found nowhere in scripture, yet the majority of born-again Christian churches today use them routinely and unknowingly affirm the Roman Catholic Church creeds from whence they originate as being, “sacred.”  However, the use of said verbiage is disgusting in the eyes of the Eternal Creator, Who IS the one, and only true God of the Scriptures.

 

There is much to learn, especially concerning church history.  There are 2000+ years that have elapsed since Jesus died and rose from the dead, and most of that time, the Roman Catholic Church has heavily influenced what Christian churches do and don’t believe, including the doctrine of the Trinity.  Below I have pasted The Athanasian Creed for you to read, since this creed is where the word and doctrine of the trinity began.  After reading this creed, ask yourself, which parts does your church believe in, and which parts do they reject? 

 

The Athanasian Creed

“Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith: which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.  And the Catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in a Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance.  For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost.  But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all One: the glory equal, the Majesty coeternal.  Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost.  The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated.  The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.  The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal.  And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal.  As also there are not three uncreated, nor three incomprehensibles, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.  So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty, and the Holy Ghost Almighty.  And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty.  So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and yet they are not three Gods, but One God.  So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord and the Holy Ghost Lord.  And yet not three Lords, but one Lord.  For like as we are compelled by Christian verity to acknowledge every person by Himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say, there are three Gods or three Lords.  The Father is made of none: neither created, nor begotten.  The Son is of the Father alone: not made, nor created, but begotten.  The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.  So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.  And in this Trinity none is before or after another; none is greater or less than another.  But the whole three persons are coeternal together and coequal.  So that in all things, as aforementioned: the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped.  He therefore that will be saved, must thus think of the Trinity. 

 

Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation, that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man.  God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world.  Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.  Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.  Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ; One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of the Manhood into God.  One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by Unity of Person.  For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead.  He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  From whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies; and shall give account for their own works.  And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.  This is the Catholic Faith:  which except a man believe faithfully, he cannot be saved.” 

 

Most Christian churches will say they believe in a trinity that differs from the Roman Catholic Church trinity, and though technically, the trinity teaches three gods, the average born-again believer that believes in the trinity will deny this.  In other words, they compartmentalize their beliefs; on one hand they accept that God is, “three Persons, Father, Son & Holy Spirit,” and on the other hand, He is only One God.  Go figure.  I’m warning you ahead of time, this topic is very hot, and if you tell other Christians you reject the term trinity because it’s not in scripture, you’re going to get an earful!  I decided for myself many years ago, to base all of my teaching upon the scriptures alone, and that supplementary terms would never usurp the final authority of scripture.  It’s less confusing, but requires that a believer walk a lonelier path at times.

 

2. So my second is, to whom do you refer and which individual person are you pin pointing in your description, “…televangelists like you-know-who?” 

 

I’d rather not say, just because I have made it my policy not to attack people by name, but rather, by what they say and do.  It’s not that I’m afraid of mentioning the names of charismatic crooks out there, but you can find all kinds of web sites that are attacking by name.  I do not want the bulk of what I do for God to be wasted on trying to point out the faults of others.  I realize the scripture commands us to “expose” those whose deeds are contrary to scripture, but I believe each individual believer must decide and be certain he or she is led of God.

 

I also recognize how deeply hurt people are due to the destruction they have experienced or witnessed in the lives of their family and friends, who follow these false teachings, and foolishly throw away their lives and money because they believe what greedy, fanatical, and covertly deceptive wolves in sheep’s clothing say.  Rather than name people, I would rather discuss what they say, teach and do.  If you have questions related to these areas, I’m happy to share freely. 

 

For example, I am opposed to the teaching and ministry of those who promote the “prosperity” message, knowing they are false teachers, whose lives are corrupt, and whose motives are inwardly evil.  If you want their names, simply find your local Christian television programs broadcast daily.  These are, for the most part, workers of iniquity, and I have witnessed firsthand many times, what their nefarious ways do to destroy the lives of Christians.  The best policy is to follow the scripture, and make decisions based upon the truth, no matter what you see others doing.  Let me share some scriptures that really help me discern when I face situations such as you are dealing with presently:

 

Luke 6:27-28, 31-36 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you  Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners love those who love them.  If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?  For even sinners do the same.  If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you?  Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, JUST AS your Father is merciful.”  (Also, read Luke 6:37-45)

 

John 7:24 Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously.  Amplified Bible

 

1 Corinthians 13:1-8a If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,  does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears ALL things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures ALL things. Love NEVER fails.  New American Standard Bible - Updated Edition

 

Now, I ask you, after reading these few but powerful scriptures, can you see the reason why I reply to you as I have done?  Do we as believers truly LIVE what we preach, or are we Christians in name only?  I cannot pass judgment upon those I disagree with publicly without, in some way violating these scriptures.  I must abide by what my heart and mind have committed to, which is obedience to scripture’s commands. 

 

Please don’t misconstrue what I say as wavering or being hesitant to expose the greedy and avaricious wolves that prey upon God’s children in the form of “Christian ministry.”  I know they are out there, and I am aware of the very evil they promote.  There are times, when God does call His children to expose evil workers, disguised as ministers of light.  For example, consider this passage:

 

2 Corinthians 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. New International Version

 

Jesus himself warned there would come false prophets and false teachers, so we must be vigilant and do our best to protect the sheep God has put into our care.  On the other hand, some Christians make themselves out to be self-appointed, “heresy hunters,” and these men and women can be every bit as evil and vicious as the ones they are allegedly trying to unmask!  I find the passage of scripture in Ephesians chapter five extremely helpful in directing my path in these areas:

 

Ephesians 5:5-17 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.  Therefore, do not be partners with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.  Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.  This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Be very careful, then, how YOU live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. New International Version

 

Isn’t that an awesome passage of scripture?  Notice, we are to, “… find out what pleases the Lord and we are to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them.”  The tricky part is finding what God’s will is, but the key is using SCRIPTURE, not our own opinion, or our own hurt and pain.  Yes, by all means, EXPOSE what is evil.  And how are we, in a general way, supposed to accomplish this task?  Simply being, “very careful, then, how YOU live.”  Is our calling as followers of Jesus to be consumed with a ministry of wrath and anger, with no room for sharing the gospel, caring for the lost and hurting?  Okay, on to your next question:

 

3.  My third is a two-part curiosity and personal question; to begin with, do you have a church that you attend?  I have seen the effects of, “religion,” and the negative effects that legalism has on a person, particularly since my own husband is one of them.  Part two of my question is next; somehow, I get this idea that maybe you might stand alone, and I was wondering if that is true?

 

I’ve been a born-again believer in God thru Jesus Christ since 1973, at which time I first attended a small home Bible study, after the man that led me to the Lord invited me to attend.  The first night there, (it was held every Friday evening), during the closing prayer time, I first heard people speaking in other tongues.  Of course, I had no clue whatsoever, and these were very charismatic charismatics, if you follow my drift!  They all stood there, hands raised straight up in the air, eyes closed tight, and ‘man-o-man’ sister, these folks were a talkin’ away in tongues!

 

Not wanting to give myself away in this tiny group of about 20 adults, and reasoning within my own mind this couldn’t go on forever, I decided to ‘follow suit’ and make-believe.  So therewith I closed my eyes, (sorta), and I raised my hands, (kinda), and just listened, figuring this would satisfy the curiosity of anyone who might suspect I didn’t know what in the world was happening and start getting nosey.  As I stood there listening intently, it sounded to me like they were talking in Russian, or some eastern Europe dialect, but not German. 

 

I took German language classes in High School, and I knew what it sounded like.  The next thing I know, I’m asked to stop praying in tongues, because the people that hosted the Bible study at their home wanted to go to bed.  I had been praying in unknown tongues for nearly 1 ½ hours!  This experience happened to me in a Sovereign way, and I have felt God’s peace and power the same way I did back then in 1973 ever since.

 

My wife and I don’t believe in the concept of organized ‘church’ or in a form of fellowship that is founded in structured religion, per say.  We have a weekly home fellowship, which some Christians refer to as, “House church.”  The time of day and week that we meet is basically the same, but there is not a prearranged venue, nor do we have sermons preached by one man, while others sit and passively listen. 

 

I’ve been on both sides of the fence, in terms of attending an organized church, with all the usual trimmings, including a senior pastor, board of elders and deacons, ushers, church building, praise and worship thru music and singing, clapping hands, jumping up and down, and even dancing!  I’m certainly not, what it seems to you, a ‘loner’ (the stereotype doesn’t fit me).  I’ve always been people oriented, but the past few years, poor health has kept me from the socializing and fellowship I so enjoy.  If I was healthy, you’d probably have a hard time picking me out in any given church service setting.

 

 If you’ve never stepped outside of the comfort zone, then you tend to get ‘comfortable’ right where you are.  It’s not uncommon for those whose church attendance is routine to even get to Sunday morning services early enough to ‘reserve’ their favorite seat in the house!  A few times in my many years of attending said church services, I have even witnessed a few people get upset because someone took “my seat.”  Oh Lord, help us! 

 

Notably characteristic among those who do attend a structured form of church, whenever they encounter a fellow Christian believer, typically the first thing they inquire about is, “What church to you attend?”  Hmmm.  Without consciously doing so, they are ‘checking you out’ just to make sure you fit within the confines and parameters of what they consider to be safely ‘Christian.’

 

We fellowship with Christians from all walks, whether they do or don’t attend ‘church,’ based on one simple and common denominator… JESUS!  Because they are God’s children, we LOVE to be with them.  I could take my past experience, and my wife’s Th.B, (she has a degree, actually two of them; I’m a Bible College flunkyJ) and we could find a nice little pastorate somewhere, and settle down into a Christian comfort zone, but this is not what God called us to do.  His spirit has led us to help the poor, the broken, the hurting, the addict, the pregnant teen, the single mom, the inner-city family, and so on.  That’s where we find the heart of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ of God working.

 

We are not affiliated with any particular church or church denomination, although we belong to a small fellowship of born-again Christians that fellowship once each week here in Western Washington State, and have done so for the past 12+ years.  Before that, I was a licensed minister in a non-denomination charismatic church, much like the one you currently attend I’m certain.  My passion has always been to help others, so I have done a lot of street outreach type evangelism, working with various ministries and churches over the years. 

 

I was involved full-time in campus evangelism with New Life Ministries on the University of Washington during a huge spiritual revival from 1980 thru 1983.  I was a chaplain with the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International for a few years, and God used me to help some of the men there get on fire for God, speak in tongues, and ultimately, a few brothers got involved with outreach (airlift ministries) to Uganda, Rwanda, etc by God’s grace.  They continue to reach out to these ravaged parts of Africa with the love of God and the mercy expressed thru Jesus Christ.

 

For another season in days gone by, a Christian brother and myself got involved in the early beginnings of Promise Keepers with Bill McCartney and Randy Phillips, as they were starting a men’s ministry several years ago.  Promise Keepers is a men’s ministry for individual and group accountability in churches.  We showed films and organized meetings, and early on, it was awesome to see pastors from all kinds of churches come to meetings in Oregon and Washington.

 

One of Bill McCartney’s goals for Promise Keepers, aside from men’s groups, was to break down walls of racism that exists and is pervasive in Christendom today, and that’s how I was drawn to be a part of this organization.  As a child, I was raised in southern California during the racial tensions of the 60’s, witnessing the Watts riots, and watched entire cities burned and people killing each other because of skin color!  Once I got saved, and turned my life over to Jesus Christ, I repented of ever having racism in my life or attitudes and vowed to God I would do whatever He asked me to make a difference.  After awhile I unplugged from Promise Keepers, when the organization got too big and I moved on.  God has led me thru many types of ministry opportunities.

 

In 1996, I went thru multiple surgeries for injuries on the job, and have lived in severe chronic pain since, limiting my mobility and interaction face to face with other believers, but I’m not a loner. 

 

4. My fourth last and final question, (I promise), what do you think of Hank Hanegraaff?

 

I think I covered this question earlier, but if not, I choose not to name names and my personal feelings are not what matters.  I’m vigorously opposed to the heresy hunting and branding of other Christians as being, “cults,” simply because of the differences we have in theology and doctrine.

 

Well, that’s it Stephen, I hope you feel I answered your questions.  I plan to use this email to help others online, who may have similar questions and concerns.

 

Love in Jesus,

 

Craigo (my nickname)

 

Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.   

 

 

 


 

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