By Goedelman and Fisher
[First published by Personal Freedom Outreach (PFO) in The Quarterly Journal, July-September 2001 and republished here with their express written permission. PFO hold the copyright and should be contacted for permission on any reprints of this article.]
The word “heel" is a colloquialism for an unscrupulous person. Modern day false prophets certainly fit this description with their shameless predictions that rarely come true. Their success rate is not as high as the cheap guesswork of the supermarket tabloids, but it does not seem to deter their hardcore believers and sycophants.
Harold Camping is a major example with his 1994 prediction of the coming of Christ and the end of the world. In a 1994 telephone interview with PFO, Camping blatantly and brazenly said if he missed on the date, he would just go on like all the other predictors do and it would not hurt him a bit. He was right!
It is interesting to observe the posture of the followers of a false prophet when they are confronted with the facts. Anger, apathy, denial, and evasive responses are just a few of the reactions most frequently encountered. It does not matter toward which "holy icon" the loyalty of the devotee is directed. From Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to Jehovah's Witnesses to followers of Charismatic gurus such as Benny Hinn, Rick Joyner, Paul Cain, or Mike Bickel, the pattern of response is a near mirror image of one another.
One all too common reaction is the charge of using "old materials" in an effort to avoid being confronted with irrefutable false prophecies and false doctrine. Latter day Saints avoid the contradiction by asserting their "living prophet" can override any of their dead prophets, including founder Joseph Smith Jr., the man Mormons credit with restoring true Christianity to the earth. It is truly amazing that the prophets don't have to be right, and even if they happen to hit it by chance they can be overruled either way later.Talk about a rigged game.
Mormon missionaries have been known to take on the assignment of visiting libraries to replace older LDS church works with new, updated and revised versions or even remove incriminating volumes altogether. No one would suggest or admit that this is unethical and dishonest. Mormons are faced with the unenviable task of trying to eliminate their old revelations. God must really be confused or has a change of mind quite often. God is shown by this activity to not be omniscient.
Jehovah's Witnesses, too, have long tried to use such evasiveness. Whether confronted with theological deviations regarding the "Second Presence" of Jesus Christ, organizational medical prohibitions, the worship of Christ, or other important issues, the hue and cry is to discount their earlier writings. "The light gets brighter," they say in their effort to replace their "old light" with "new light." The logic in this is that the present followers don't know what light they will be in 10 or 20 years from now. Unfortunately, they are just like deer in the headlights. Isaiah warned that if we kindle our own light or a false kind of light it would only lead to disaster and torment (Isaiah 50:11).
The comfort to the seeker of truth is that God's Word is fixed and sure and will not change. God will not change nor will He change His mind (Malachi 3:6).
The late Bill Cetnar, a former Jehovah's Witness, said that because of their older publications, the cults are really their own worst enemy. Cetnar knew all too well and would repeatedly declare: "Time is the enemy of a false prophet!"
Indeed, time is the enemy of every false teacher and false prophet, not just those from Brooklyn, Salt LakeCity, or Orlando.
A letter recently came to our office from a gentleman in the northwestern United States. He wrote regarding the doctrine and practice of Benny Hinn. He objected that some of the criticisms of the controversial faith healer were from Hinn's materials that were a decade old or older. He did not grasp the pertinent issues.
Yes, there is no denying the fact that we use numerous citations from Hinn that date to the 1980s and even earlier. We also report current issues with Hinn.
However, the age of the material in no way invalidates the material itself. In fact, Hinn's older materials (testimony and teaching tapes, books, television broadcasts, etc.) often contradict his newer material. They are the very things that expose his ingrained propensity to lie and con. These older materials are invaluable in documenting and exposing the false teachings, testimony, and prophetic utterances of Hinn. His false prophecies are becoming legendary. The constant correcting, excusing, denying, and then every so often facing up to the facts are the very things which make the strongest case against Hinn and show him to be no better than the main line cult revisionists. He often resorts to: "I will try to do better next time." How can one do better when it was supposedly God, through Hinn, revealing, directing, and speaking in the first place? It is ludicrous.
As has been documented in the pages of numerous past PFO Journals (and in our book,The Confusing World of Benny Hinn), in the early 1980s Hinn reported different conversion stories as to time, place, and numerous other details than what he was reporting in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Then there's Hinn's ridiculous statement that within the Godhead, "...there are nine of them." Hinn's declaration, made during a Sunday morning sermon at his Orlando Christian Center, was broadcast by the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) on October 13, 1990. It, too, is over 10 years old.
But, here again, Hinn should not and cannot be exonerated because of the "age" of the statement. Hinn claimed "revelation knowledge" at the time and the source of his declaration as directly from the Divine. Since when does God's Word or His revelations become outdated? Hinn moved from preacher to prophet with his pronouncement. If it was God's truth given by divine revelation as Hinn stated, it should stand forever.
Hinn needs to be held accountable for the deceptive control he exercised over his congregation and for such a flagrant disrespect for the Word of God, and distortion of the Triune God. Two years, 10 years, 20 years or 100 years from when the statement was made does not absolve him. Error will always remain error. James offers a sober warning that the followers of false teachers wish to ignore:
My brethren, do not let many of you become teachers, knowing that you shall receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1).
Hinn is a poster boy for false prophets, false teachers, and those that evade by appealing to time gone by.
On Dec. 31, 1989, Hinn gave a series of prophecies (somewhat like a spirit medium) that he said had come directly from the Holy Spirit. All of the prophesied events were to occur during the 1990s. None have come to pass. Although this sermon is more than 10 years old, it is even more current because it confirms beyond any doubt that Hinn is a false prophet.
The 1990s have passed and there is absolutely no hope of his predictions ever being fulfilled. In the school of prophets, Hinn flunked out. For a number of years, Hinn has been promising creative miracles and raisings from the dead. His followers should hold his feet to the fire rather than letting him hold his hand to their wallets.
The old adage "Don't confuse me with the facts; my mind is already made up," continues to be applicable to many of the followers of these false prophets.We also need to repeat the ditty:
Old or new, old or new,False is false and true is true!
The very ones you would expect to be true and even demand be true, those who claim a direct pipeline to God are given passes constantly, while those who call for accountability are vilified and cursed.
In 1955, sociologists Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken and Stanley Schachter studied a movement mired in failed prophecy and miscalculated dates. Nearly half a century after they published their research, their observations are remarkably descriptive of today's followers of spurious revelators.
A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point. We have all experienced the futility of trying to change a strong conviction, especially if the convinced person has some investment in his belief. We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defences with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks. But man’s resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief" (When Prophecy Fails, pg. 3).
Time will always bear the faithfulness of men who labour hard to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) and, as Cetnar so wisely said, will continue to be "the enemy of a false prophet." The writing and preaching of men and exegetes such as Charles Spurgeon, Dwight L. Moody, H.A. Ironside, Benjamin Warfield and others have stood the test of time. They were workers who did not need to be ashamed of their statements. Nor did they leave in the wake of their doctrine and practice, shipwrecked faith and disappointed followers. They did not devastate the lives of the men and women who sat under their teaching. What a stark contrast to the cults and heretical teachers who ignore, deny, or reinvent previous declarations. Christian doctrine is fixed (Jude 3) and a solid rock on which we can stand. It is not silly putty to be twisted into new shapes at the drop of a hat or the failure of a prediction.
Are men such as Calvin, Spurgeon, and these others infallible in their teaching? No, they are not. But we must remember they do not, unlike cultic and charismatic counterparts, claim to be the source of "revelation knowledge" or God's chosen mouthpiece on earth. There is that unmistakable difference. It is unfair to attempt to make such a comparison because of this critical distinction. The comparison to fallible teachers is often made by false teachers to escape responsibility for their false declarations.
The false prophets and teachers are indeed actors and good ones. When they can, they play the anointed of God, hear from heaven, are personally instructed by the Holy Spirit, give words of knowledge, and operate as "Thus says the Lord"men. They do that until they get caught, then they slip into the costume of the humble Spurgeon, Ironside, or Calvin just doing the best they can. The tragic thing is few notice or care. The followers serve both personas and both contradictions. Most of these prophets are untrained, untaught, and unschooled and should not even be compared to the likes of a Spurgeon, an Ironside, or a Calvin.
The false prophets serve their own chutzpah1 until caught and challenged, and then, in chameleon like fashion, they become the humble and fallible expositor. They are quick-change artists who are only spotted by the discerning.
Time confirms truth. Scripture in its prophetic pronouncements is always confirmed by time, never the opposite. Those who claim to speak for God in direct revelation must be held to the same standard, for time is never the enemy of true prophets.
© Personal Freedom Outreach (PFO),P.O. Box 26062, SAINT LOUIS,Missouri 63136Telephone + 1 (314) 921-9800