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Cults and Christianity VIII

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Question #1:

I would very much appreciate it if you could tell me where in the Bible the scripture that says something like "in the last days false teachers will teach as doctrine the commandments of men rather than the commandments of God" is located. I think I have read something like that but I don't know where. Thanks for your help.

Response #1:

Good to hear from you. As to false teachers in the last days:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
2nd Peter 3:3 NIV

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
1st Timothy 4:1-3 NKJV

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men [i.e., false teachers] will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2nd Timothy 3:1-2 NKJV

As to teaching the commandments of men:

Therefore the Lord said:
“Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Isaiah 29:13 NKJV [quoted by our Lord at Matt.15:9 and Mk.7:7]

This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.
Titus 1:13-14 NKJV

It certainly makes sense to remember all of these passages as related as far as the theme of false teaching goes; the first batch speaks of the false teaching of the Tribulation but also foreshadowed by what is abroad today, while the second batch is speaking mostly of the false teaching of "this generation" which is prophesied to endure (the hardness, not the individuals) until our Lord returns on the other side of the Tribulation. All important to keep in mind in our time when cults and false teaching are ubiquitous.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Hi Dr.

Church issues: There is a person here who I believe is teaching false doctrine. He is one of the leaders of this church here. I am not saying the person is not saved but I believe he is inaccurately reflecting critical piece of the Word. He was formerly of the Catholic faith so I believe a portion of his teaching is due to that fact.

Issue #1: He stated we can be sinless similar to Christ and that without that we can not go to heaven. He basically is stating that the scripture points that "be holy because I am holy " and other verses about sinners not obtaining eternal life applies to believers and unbelievers. I did not confront him because others have and he still will not listen. This is prior to me coming. From my take, he believes we can master sin by mastering temptation and therefore can be sinless. I will attempt to get some of the verses he reference. So he has this hidden works by grace theology. It is subtle and you have to discern to really understand because of his linkage of various verses, if one doesn't understand theology and biblical context.

Issue #2: He had a bible study group to where he discussed suffering for faith. He basically stated that everywhere it says suffering in the bible, replace it with temptations and if you can conquer temptation then your suffering will end. Basically, all or most suffering have to do with temptation. He used Jesus temptation by the devil as an example of suffering. This is totally out of context. Temptation and suffering are two separate parts of a coin. He used the following verses: Rom 8:17, 1PT 2:18-21,3:17,5:8-10,Phil 1:27-30, He 2:10-13, Jam 1:12-15, 5:13 (where he says if you pray for the temptation to go away, then your suffering will go away).

I know this is unbiblical but the question is how to address it. I don't want to sit in a church where teaching is wrong. He has been approached many times and still doesn't listen. He thinks his theology is correct. We do have a bible study on Saturday that is not part of the official ministry here that we hope to have the truth told. Please pray about that.

This brings me to my personal issue. I sometime feel I don't have the Spirit because I can't memorize verses. I can memorize context but there are a lot of people who can memorize verses and I am not one of them. I have to physically open the bible and research my answers. Maybe it is a humbling thing the Lord is doing but should I feel that way? Also, what do you feel about a person saying they are anointed. There is a person here that say he is anointed and he speaks in tongues on occasion when we talk. This person I believe does have the Holy Spirit and teaches biblical truth. I can affirm that. I come to him to talk and fellowship because I know he his accurate in his teachings. What are your thoughts on anointing and can someone who is biblically strong speak in tongues even though it is not for this era? I don't understand him but I don't want to argue about tongues being obsolete because it won't get us anywhere. The reason why I bring this up is because I don't feel that I am anointed. I know I shouldn't trust my emotions but how do I know the Lord is even listening to me or I am walking upright with Him. Are anointed people the only ones who have are "full of the Holy Spirit"? If I am being honest with myself, it does make me feel inadequate.

I appreciate your help in all this Dr.

In Christ Jesus our Lord

Response #2:

These questions and observations are interrelated, so while I will do my best to respond to everything you have said here, apologies in advance if I miss anything – do feel free to write back. It seems to me that there are two issues here. The first is, "what is the truth", and the second, "how should I handle someone who is teaching what is untrue?"

You are absolutely correct in your appreciation of the false teaching you have reported. On the "sinless perfection" question, there are plenty of scriptures which are unambiguous on the point that we are all sinners and all sin (e.g., Eccl.7:20; Rom.3:9; 3:23; 7:14; 7:23; Gal.3:22; Jas.3:2; 1Jn.1:6-10; cf. Ps.143:2). On the other hand, there is not a single scripture which DIRECTLY and AFFIRMATIVE states the opposite – only Christ is said by scripture to have been without sin (Heb.4:15).

Second, the proof would be in the pudding, and no human being can even seem sinlessly perfect for a short while even under only occasional observation – how much more would that not be the case for those living in close quarters to one another or if we could look into a person's heart!

Much more importantly, all such issues always come back to the cross. For anyone to be saved, our Lord had to bear the sins of the entire human race, past, present and future, in His body on the cross (2Cor.5:21; 1Pet.2:24). One of the horrors of the "sinless perfection" mindset is that it seems to assume "I will be save by being goody-goody" when in fact Jesus Christ and the mercy of God given through faith in His person and work is the only way of salvation. For those who claim "you can't be saved unless you achieve sinless perfection", they have only doubled down on rejecting the cross – which is rejecting Christ – by making salvation about works when in fact it is entirely by grace (Eph.2:8-9). Where is the cross of Christ in that? But the cross is the foundation of all truth and the only really important thing in this life.

No, there are no legitimate occurrences of tongues since the first century. And you DO have the Holy Spirit – all genuine believers do (e.g., Rom.8:9). It is not a matter of how we FEEL. That is a signature mistake of the Charismatics who are all about emotion. There is great emotion in believing the truth, and great power from God as a result. But the Spirit's voice is a small, still whisper easily missed (1Ki.19:12), and always missed by those who are babbling out some nonsensical stream of sounds. Legitimate tongues-use in Acts always involved an actual, spoken, human language. That is not the case today with those who are "speaking in tongues" as they claim. I know that as you continue to grow closer to Jesus Christ through His Word, through trusting Him more and more, and through serving Him in this mission field He has entrusted to you, that you will experience the power of Him and of the Spirit in every legitimate way – and it will be REAL, not phony, made up, worked up. Emotional manipulation does not last. But believers who are responding to the truth learn how to guide their emotions into all things good through the truth of scripture.

Job suffered greatly. It had nothing to do with sin. The man born blind had not sinned nor had his parents (Jn.9:2-3). We all receive a measure of undeserved suffering when we are taking up our cross and following Jesus Christ (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 2Tim.2:12; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Matt.10:38; 16:24; Mk.8:34; 10:21; 10:38-39; Lk.9:23; 14:27; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12; see the link: in CT 2A: ""sharing in the sufferings of Christ" is a part of the normal Christian experience"). If the objective is to end suffering, we are walking counter to everything our Lord has called us to:

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NKJV

In any case, the logic of the argument you report this person making is nonsensical – and so obviously so that anyone can see it without much effort.

Memorization has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. Some people are very good at verbatim memorization, some are not. I am very poor at this also. But I do know from personal experience that it is possible to memorize small pieces of scripture even for those like you and me who are challenged in this regard. It only takes enough repetition. Some people could memorize a Psalm on one or two readings. For others, like myself, it may take dozens and dozens of repeats – and even then will have to be reinforced by repetition. Actually, I think we have the advantage in a way. We focus on the meaning which makes the exact words more elusive. So when you and I get around to trying to memorize we interact with the truth of what we are recalling in a more vivid and meaningful way as a result. The NASB has strong points, but it is perhaps not the best version for memorizing verses. Let me recommend considering the NKJV and the 1984 NIV.

This brings us to how to deal with false teaching in your situation. I think your initial reaction to avoid these individuals as much as possible and/or not make an issue if that is possible is the right one, particularly in the early going. The Lord will give you the wisdom and the opportunity if confrontation of some sort is necessary down the line. If pressed, I have always found the cross of Christ the best place to start. Talking about who Jesus is, God and man, and what He did, paying the price for each and every sin in being judged in our place, is the foundation of all things, and it is very rare that a false teaching of whatever sort does not run afoul of this most basic set of truths. So circling back to the cross will usually smoke out the lies behind the false teaching.

Feel free to write me any time, my friend, and to bring back up whatever I may have missed here.

I'm keeping you and your family in my prayers daily.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L

Question #3:

First thank you for the materials. Your faithfulness in helping me through this trial will be reward by our Lord and Savior Christ.

I have not confronted the individual because it is not in my spirit to do so. I have not been led to confront. I am still attending all the bible studies here because you don't know when the Lord might use you as an opportunity. For example, the same person who is leading the church asked me to teach/preach one day because he always sees me attending and in the Word. I told him I was not ready but I will be happy to do scriptural reading of a passage and exegesis on that. I am preparing myself for the next time he asks me. I don't just want to say "yes" because I feel it is in the flesh, especially when I am not ready. Everyone wants to rush to teach but not me. Not because I will not get prepared but because it is an extremely important ministry and you have to be Spirit led. I just don't know if I am there yet. I more than likely will get there as I continue to learn and do individual studies. The Rewards series is helping in that endeavor.

Anyhow, thank you for responding to the bible questions and insights into the church issues. I appreciate it and will let you know when I receive the other materials.

Response #3:

You are very welcome, my friend. I think you are acting very prudently and very wisely. It is true that it is a trap to be drawn in to "teaching" in the wrong place or the wrong way or before one is ready to do so (1Tim.3:6).

I will be keeping you in prayer on all this day by day – and your family too.

If you have a moment, please say a prayer for our friend. He has some un-diagnosed medical condition that is causing him real problems, and has spent the last couple of weeks with the doctors trying to figure it out. I'm hoping and praying they'll be able to help Him. We know that God is the One who heals (Ps.103:3; cf. Ex.15:26), but we also know that He provides the means many times rather than a miracle.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Savior, Lord and Master.

Bob L.

Question #4:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I had visited a church a while back that spoke in tongues, and they had told me that every believer should have this gift. I had 5 people lay their hands on my head to impart what they said were spiritual gifts, and nothing happened at all. Every time I come across someone speaking in tongues, they always seem to act like they're more spiritual or closer to God than those who can't speak in tongues. I often wonder...if this is in fact some sort of unknown language, then we should be able to have the definition of the words actually spoken, like a dictionary; but I don't see that anywhere. Sometimes the tongues I hear from Christians seem like the first syllable of words, or partial words. I know some very kind-hearted people who love the Lord dearly and speak in tongues (what they call angelic language), and they tell me that they can communicate with God on a deeper level. My cousin told me years ago that he broke his elbow at church camp. He began praying and all of a sudden he began speaking in tongues, and he was miraculously healed. I consider my cousin a very truthful person, but there are some things that he tells me that I absolutely do not agree with. He told me that his pastor said that Satan is almost as powerful as God. To me that's logically impossible because God is Almighty and has no limit to His power. In order for Satan to be "almost" as powerful as God, God's power would have to have a limit to it. There have only been a handful of times where I prayed in a normal language to God for healing and I was actually healed, and I knew without a doubt that God has miraculously healed me. Although I don't think this is something God does every instant where someone prays for healing. Can you please tell me why there are Christians out there who speak in this "angelic" language? And if they are deceived, why would God allow this to happen if they are seeking God with all their hearts.

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #4:

I've written a lot about this, my friend, and I'll be happy to give you some links. Your experience very much lines up with my appreciation of this issue – to a tee. And yes, God does heal miraculously (Ex.15:26; Ps.103:3) . . . sometimes. But sometimes we are meant to "deal" with our physical issues, just as Paul was (2Cor.12:5-10). For the most part, "tongues" as practiced today is a mere emotional work-up; it is not the gift of tongues from the Bible because that gift is not being given today – and the proof of that is what you report, that is, tongues in the Bible is the ability to speak a real language, not a "heavenly language" of which there is actually nothing mentioned in scripture regarding this gift (see the links). People who are not interested in doing the hard work of spiritual growth the right way, learning the scriptures and the truth through Bible study from a good source and diligently believing it and applying it to their life, are always looking for a cheap substitute, and they are finding it these days either in rote rituals or emotional excesses of one kind or another. Here are those links (do feel free to write me back about any of this):

Dreams, Visions, Miracles, Exorcism, Tongues, and False Prophets

The Gift of Tongues: Part 3

The Gift of Tongues: Part 2

The Gift of Tongues: Part 1

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hello Professor,

A couple of days ago I had a long phone conversation with a friend whom I mentioned you a while ago, together with his wife. They left the Catholic Church before me, but got themselves into a pentecostal group and now are heavily influenced by charismatic movement. Hence at several points the conversation wasn't easy and perhaps the worst thing about is that I find it quite hard to get through to them. By straying away from the truth they may have now lost some sensitivity and openness to it. When I said I don't believe that prophecy is an operational gift at the moment, my friend was shocked and yet the importance he places on the word of God is far away from what it should be, to the degree that when I said I don't believe we have prophets now - and neither do we need them - he asked in what way I recognise what God wants. It is all written in His word. I came across this subject before, so I gave a relatively complete account of the biblical meaning of tongues, which is another distortion in their circles. Here I wanted to ask you a question - the last verse that he held on to when justifying that tongues may not necessarily need to be human languages is 1 Corinthians 14:2. Could you explain this verse? It seems that it could be a misuse of this gift whereby one prays in a foreign language, but since it's not being translated to the congregation, they don't benefit from the gift and the utterance. How should we understand "mysteries" here? I know that this verse doesn't conflict in any way in the true language interpretation, but wanted to be sure what situation it's referring to.

Response #5:

On 1st Corinthians 14:2, yes, this is a verse which tongues people always seem to gravitate towards.  But it ought to be noted at the outset that Paul says this not to recommend the practice at all but to point out the problems with tongues in church; here is my revised and expanded translation:

The reason I say this (i.e., in v.1, that you should rather desire gifts that give content such as prophecy) is that a person who speaks [by the Spirit] in a language [not otherwise known to him or his listeners] is speaking not to people (i.e., since his audience doesn't in that case understand the language he's speaking) but to God (who understands everything). For [in such a case] no one is listening to him (i.e., no one is going to even pay attention to a person speaking in another language they don't speak, let alone gain any edification from the experience), but he is speaking by the Spirit (i.e., he himself doesn't even understand the sounds he's making) mysteries (i.e., things that can't be understood without an interpreter).
1st Corinthians 14:2

Note the highlighted "is listening" for KJV's "understands" – an interpretative translation followed by other versions, and one which is incorrect because the Greek has akouo here ("to listen" from which we get "acoustics", e.g.).

You can find my discussion with more details on this verse and this issue at the following links (and, as always, do feel free to write me back about it):

No one understands?

Tongues and 1Cor.14:2

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas time, my friend!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Thank you also for your translation of 1 Corinthians 14:2. It is sad for me to see a friend who probably came to Christ before me be spiritually in a state that he is (and his wife also), but then we all have our free will. Legalism is empty and emotionalism is empty too. Where there is no truth, there is no truth. I'm preparing another message to him with the explanation of 1 Corinthians 14:2 and if that's fine with you, I would include your translation in this message also. I just need to give thought to a couple of things first. One of the biggest disappointments and worrying signs was that, as you would no doubt expect, dabbling in this charismatic movement resulted in him not putting the word of God first. When I was emphasising the scriptures and the teaching ministry (yours and Curt's Bible Academy), the reply was that there are other revelations. To adapt a quote from you, it's that calibre of nonsense that it's hard to know where to begin the discourse. So I'm in the process of putting together a list of verses to redirect his attention to the word of God.

Response #6:

Yes, it's always disheartening to hear when fellow believers are unwilling even to engage in seeking the truth the right way. Years ago I had a very dear person tell me that all this "ancient language stuff" was irrelevant today. It certainly didn't change my opinion – about the need for the languages – but I did feel bad for him on the point. Appealing to "other revelations" is just the same sort of armor put on to ward off responsibility for doing things God's way, from whatever improper motivation (be it indifference or a desire to "experience" something or whatever).

Have a safe and blessed trip, my friend!

Wishing you and your family a blessed and happy Christmas time together!

Write me when you get back.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

I've just been listening to Curt Omo's lesson (Intermediate Bible Training Tier 3 Lesson 6) where he provides the exegesis for 1 Corinthians 14:1-25. A question appeared to me as he was explaining verse 13:

1 Corinthians 14:13 (NASB)
Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.

I understand that the person speaking in a foreign language should have someone interpret their words, but in this situation it's hard for me to understand what is then the purpose of the gift. The person speaks in a foreign language, which, as Paul discusses at length, doesn't benefit the congregation unless there is an interpreter. So now the person speaking in a foreign language is exhorted to pray that they may interpret, which then begs the question - so why is this person given utterances in a foreign language in the first place?

Response #7:

The purpose of the gift was evangelism. However, it could also be employed for edification as part of the temporary support for teaching in the churches before the completion of the canon and the development of a cadre of prepared teachers (who would be responsible for preparing others: 2Tim.2:2). Paul's comments here in 1st Corinthians are given by way of permission to use the gift in this way, namely, a person speaking God's message in his "tongue" and then being interpreted by someone with that gift but only when such an interpreter was present. This is not the original purpose of the gift; so this is an additional blessing for the churches rather than a case of a gift given for this purpose exclusively.

Question #8:

In 2 Peter 2:10, "and despise government" can be understood as despising being governed or despising Government (national, state or local.) What is the sense of the original? I understand
it as despising governance - specifically the government of God. Is that correct?

Response #8:

The Greek word kyriotes in 2nd Peter 2:10 and also at Jude 1:8 means not human authority but angelic authority, and particularly in both contexts is a reference to Gnostics who claim to be "doing battle" with (evil) heavenly forces beyond although that was in truth beyond their ken and authority (see the link) – and this was something even the archangel Michael was reluctant to engage in, as Peter tells us.  This sort of false combat with angels is a deadly dangerous thing to attempt, but these verses have not prevented many even in the contemporary evangelical church-visible from getting involved in such terrible things, exorcism and all manner of false "spiritual warfare" (see the link).  Spiritual warfare takes place in our hearts as we use the truth to counteract the influence of the world, the pressures of our sin nature and false emotions, and also the attacks of the evil one.  But we are not to try to "engage" with the devil and his demons in any sort of direct way – few things would be more ridiculous if they were not at the same time so incredibly dangerous.  

Question #9:

From this infamous Internet pastor. I am not falsely representing him in any way:

In any case, now we have a reliable picture of the Jews as murderers that is not based on some isolated incidents or passages, but it is the pervasive testimony of Scripture, in fact, in both the Old and New Testaments, for the Jews were also fond of murdering the prophets that God sent to them. So Jesus says in John 8:44 that the Jews belonged to their father, the devil, that they wanted to carry out the devil's desires, and the devil was "a murderer from the beginning." Thus he means that the Jews were murderers like the devil. Murder was in their nature. They had a strong disposition to kill people, innocent and righteous people.

Surely God will remember him as a hero of faith alongside Haman and Antiochus Epiphanes.

Response #9:


Anti-semitism only brings down God's cursing (link).

In Jesus – who is Jewish as to His human nature.

Bob L.

Question #10:

Recently, I've seen people look at returning to the Catholic church. So I gave a response to try and persuade someone out of it:

"I strongly recommend against it, and I say this as someone born Catholic. The presence of statues for "veneration," prayers involving contact with deceased saints, vain repetition of prayer (the Rosary) being glorified, the "magic mass," etc... are all so man-made that anybody truly interested in the truth can see these things as having nothing to do with God. Not only that, but in some cases we can see the evolution from true worship to superstition: have you ever wondered why the Rosary has exactly 150 beads? It's because each bead originally corresponded to a psalm (divinely inspired prayers), but later on a lack of interest in divine truth caused the Rosary to mutate into its present form."

Response #10:

Good observations.

I'll be sure to post this the next time I do anything on the R.C. church or related matters.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the Head of the true Church,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Dear Professor,

Thanks so much for your prompt reply, yet again! And also for such a detailed exegesis of this passage! I have taken the insights you offered on universities on board and shall factor this into my considerations.

I read your response with joy as this clarified this passage that I had read many times before but wasn’t ‘moved’ so much to ask the question until now. To now understand why the centurion says what he says in verse 9 that this statement was underpinned by such marvelous faith of who Jesus is and what he can do, and applying this truth to us (me) today, this really does elucidate the passage perspicuously. Should we not have the same attitude when we pray and ask our Lord in faith? There is so much truth behind every verse, and every time I discover something new or reaffirm something I had learned (and maybe unlearned), it is truly a case of great joy. In fact, this is the very thing I enjoy doing most during my limited time here on this earth.

Question - Bethel Church: Professor, I have had this question looming at the back of my mind for a while now that I have been itching to ask you but have never got round to doing so. I read all your email postings this morning - it’s usually how I like to spend most of my Sunday. Whilst going through your postings I came across a few mentions of the charismatic church and rather unsurprisingly, there is not much positive to say about this institution/movement. My concern lies with one of my very close friends who spent 3 years at Bethel church at their “supernatural school of ministry”. Prior to this we had attended the same church here in the UK at university (the one I eventually decided to part ways with). I notice a recurrent theme that when I ask her how her faith journey is coming along (and I ask this with the intention of opening up the opportunity to speak about truth), the answer always seems to revolve around testimony, “kingdom culture”, and to my dismay, prophesying etc.

It is clear that truth is almost not even mentioned. I would say 3 years ago we would be able to have a discussion about the Bible whereas now - and I say this with a very heavy heart - Bethel church seems to have quenched her thirst for the water of the Word. Because of my concerns, I decided to listen to a few sermons from Bill Johnson, senior pastor at the church. Alarm bells start ringing when I listen to some of the content which seems so far off from what the Bible actually teaches. What’s more, when I apply the fruit test (Matt.7:15-20), specifically testing the teachings (validating them with scripture) and testing the group (speaking to people who have attended their courses and who subscribe to their views), I am alarmed at the lukewarmness and unbiblical interpretations. As far as I am aware, Bill Johnson has instilled a ‘bringing in the kingdom/heaven on earth’ movement in his followers, which we know is of the devil.

I share this concern with you to see whether you have come across him before and if so, I would like to get your thoughts on this. This stems from a heartfelt concern about the spiritual welfare of my sister in Christ and it saddens me to see such apathy towards truth. How easy it shall be for the antichrist to deceive such people who have no solid foundation of the truth but are more interested in seeking ecstatic experiences.

I hope things are progressing well with this ministry and also at work. No rush at all to get back to me on this.

In our Lord, who is the embodiment of truth,

Response #11:

Always a pleasure to hear from you, my friend! I'm very gratified to learn that you found this response helpful. How true your statement is that each and every verse of scripture has many treasures, old and new, which are always ready to be appreciated by those seeking the truth of the Word.

On "Bethel", your spiritual discernment on this matter seems to me to be excellent – unfortunately for your friend. So many believers today seen only interested in having "fun experiences", and that is a definite indication of prior rejection of the hard work of spiritual growth, progress and production. It is certainly true that the traditional church-visible has "let them down", but that of course is not any sort of excuse not to "keep on knocking" until something good is found, just as our Lord has instructed us to do. He never lets a genuine thirst for the Word of God go unquenched.

Here are a couple of links to discussions with others who may have been connected to this church you mention or at least to related ministries. I confess that I don't know for certain how tight the connection is (if one does exist), but there is a commonality in the fact of being Charismatic, behaviorally odd, and disinterested in what the Bible actually has to say:

Third Party Testimony: see Q/A #2 ff.

Cults and Christianity IV: see Q/A #7 ff.

We are just about to end the semester here, and I am looking forward to being able to devote some additional time to ministry. I hope you are doing well. I keep you and your brother in my prayers every day. Thanks so much for your prayers too!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Thank you Professor!

I shall save these links in a folder for future reference. I always had my alarm bells ringing on this one but I have never been quite bold enough to say it how it is to my friend. I now face a delicate situation where I feel I need to ‘confront’ her on my concerns about this church. She has been a lifelong friend, and it really does sadden me to see her chasing after this spiritual hoopla. But truth has to come first.

The commonalities you mention hit the nail on the head in my experiences in dealing with people associated with the charismatic church. FYI - I have attached what I found on the home page of their website (!), which sums up a lot about this institution.

That’s great news - exciting times ahead! I shall be praying for a productive period in producing an abundance of fruit and making the most of this time away from everyday work. It is my pleasure to be able to pray and support you and your ministry, and I thank you so much for your prayers for both my brother and I. I am certain they are making a difference.

Your brother in Christ,

Response #12:

And thank you, especially for your prayers. I'll say one for your friend and her deliverance into the light of the truth.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

Here at the Retirement Community they have a "class" on Tai Chi.

My own thoughts lead me to believe that this kind of mysticism can open one's mind and heart to all sorts of demonic influence, as if we didn't have enough to contend with already. Just wanted your thoughts. Just me, I would not attend these classes if they paid me What ever happened to just trusting God? It is "Chinese Mysticism" nothing more:

mys·ti·cism [ˈmistəˌsizəm] NOUN: belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender; belief characterized by self-delusion or dreamy confusion of thought, especially when based on the assumption of occult qualities or mysterious agencies.

Your friend,

Response #13:

I agree with you (same goes for Yoga; see the links: "Spiritual Marathons" and "Paganism").

I do understand that some people can apparently do this sort of thing without paying any attention to the "spiritual side" but it's not something I'd ever feel comfortable with.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hello Professor, it's been a while. You have to forgive me. I have been very busy with family and work. I just have a few things I would like so wisdom on. What is your take on veganism? It sounds like a religious cult to me. With regards to animals as sentient beings what is the biblical stance on animals? Your brother in Christ.

Response #14:

Always good to hear from you, my friend!

Last week's posting, "Culture and Christianity XVI: Alcohol, Money and Dietary Issues", had a lot to say on related issues (with many links).

It's fine for a Christian to eat anything he/she wants to eat since all prohibitions on restrictions made by the Law have been lifted (details in the link). Not that this relieves any of us the responsibility of acting with common sense. If we decide to subsist on an exclusive diet of Pop-Tarts for the next six months, we shouldn't be surprised if this results in health issues. There is no spiritual dimension to refraining from meat or, in the case of the vegans, other foodstuffs that have to do with animals. If a person wants to add a spiritual dimension to this practice, it will of necessity be a satanically "spiritual" one and not in any way godly. Between throwing caution to the winds on the one hand and being overly obsessive about everything consumed is the prudent middle course. But trying to suggest or believing that a person is "more spiritual" because of any dietary regime is most definitely of the devil.

By the way, this sort of dietary pseudo-spirituality is prophesied to be part of antichrist's religion (1Tim.4:1-3a; see the link).  And, incidentally, this sort of separating oneself from other people because of diet is the origin of the phrase in English, "holier than thou" (Is.65:3-5).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Professor,

My friend has found a new team shortly before the transfer window closed. He will be playing in a good league. I hope he can do well there and most importantly - that he keeps growing. Thank you for your prayers. I managed to see him on my last trip last week and again we met twice speaking about the word. You know how rare and refreshing the fellowship with a true believer is.

I'm nearly finished writing another response - on the Christus Victor theory. I consider it a false view based on the lack of understanding of God's character - His righteousness in particular which demanded that sin is paid for. This view seems to totally ignore the issue of redemption and just states that the powers holding us in bondage were defeated. If you don't mind, I would forward this for you to look at, but on the basis that we discussed - I know I'm responsible to the Lord, but iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17) and your insight is always appreciated.

On this though, I have a question. I remember Curt making this point in one of his lessons, but I couldn't find which one. The sin and death were defeated by Christ's on the cross and, I suppose we could say that in a sense we were freed from the devil's grasp - but even that is not some sort of an abstract concept, but it rather stems exactly from what Christus Victor view ignores - from the payment for sin. It is because our sin has been paid for and we are no longer "in debt" that we are free. I hope I'm making this point clearly enough. Maybe some scriptures come into your mind specifically on this issue.

As for me, both you and Curt have already told me that it is good to take rest sometimes and it's not something that is easy for me. There are no clean victories in this world. No spiritual battles out of which a sinner as we all are will go unscratched. So that was a good lesson too.

How is your recovery?

In our Lord,

Response #15:

Great news about your friend! A real answer to prayer.

I'm also glad to hear that you got a little rest over the weekend. Not "burning out" is a positive thing, because, in the end, much more time is lost through "hitting the wall" than if a person finds a good cruising speed in the first place (sorry for the mishmash of metaphors). We always want to be getting the most out of ourselves for the Lord, but we are human, after all, and if we don't allow at least some slack in the system the result is often a longer term melt down. At least that is what I have observed. But this is coming from someone who probably has too much slack in the schedule. Still, there is an old proverb that rings true, "slow and steady wins the race"; we always want to go faster but we should be wary of "too fast too long". Anything I have had success with in my life has always been the result of being consistent day in and day out rather than coming through great and heroic pushes (though of course those are sometimes necessary).

On the doctrinal issue, there is a tendency in many cults and false systems to overemphasize the devil. This stands in contrast to many modern denominations which sometimes even go so far as to deny his existence (!). Neither approach is spiritually healthy. In general terms, it is good to know everything the Bible has to say about the evil one and his operations on the one hand, but then to live one's life just as if he did not exist on the other. We do have to realize that a lot of the flak we get in this life is not from God but from Satan and his forces – otherwise, like Job, it would be tempting to blame God (and that is always a massive mistake, even if we really are receiving divine discipline for some error or sin). But although this is true, we cannot do anything whatsoever about such demonic attacks except what we ought to be doing anyway, namely, praying for help and persevering in our course in spite of opposition.

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
Hebrews 2:14-15 NKJV

There are plenty of passages which speak of Christ's victory (Jn.16:33; Rev.3:21; 5:5), of His conquest of death (e.g., 2Tim.1:10), and our victory in Christ (1Jn.5:5; Rev.12:11; 15:2) but the passage above is the only I can think of which even seems in any way to connect the devil with any sort of power of the sort described by this false doctrine you are combating, and that "connection" is really only apparent. Paul's point in this passage is that it is the "fear of death" on behalf of the unbelieving world which lends power to the devil's operations, because that very fear of death, when it does not motivate people to turn to God, leads them into all manner of bondage to false religious systems of one sort or another with which unsaved mankind seeks vainly to mitigate this "ultimate concern" of death. Very ironically this is precisely the problem with the false teaching you are combating.

The devil's rebellion is the backdrop against which all human history is to be viewed, from the correct, divine point of view, and it is impossible to understand history (or theology) without understanding what the Bible has to say about it (the Satanic Rebellion series addresses this). But the problem for human beings, as you have rightly adjudged, is sin. "No ransom is ever enough" to pay for any single human sin (Ps.49:8), no matter how benign, even if a person could lay the entire world at Christ's feet. Christ, after all, made the world without effort in the blink of an eye and sustains it by His own Word of power (Heb.1:3). Only the blood of Christ, His payment for sin in bearing them on the cross, can take away sin, and it is sin which leads to death and judgment, the "trifecta" of the human dilemma.

The devil has a part to play in all this, of course (perfectly incorporated into the divine decrees before time began). His rebellion led to the creation of mankind; his temptation of Eve led to the corruption of the human race; his opposition to the truth provides the flak through which believers of every age have had to fly; his removal at Christ's return will be a cause of great rejoicing. But for human beings, practically speaking, it's all about free will, whether we will choose for Christ or not, and, if we do, whether we will grow in, follow and serve Him, and how well. And this will be the issue for believers in the Millennium too when Satan and his demons are incarcerated . . . until the end.

So one problem I have with this false teaching you are addressing is that it seems to put the devil and Christ on the same level – which is absurd and blasphemous; the second issue is as you note too that it fails to understand what the real problem is (sin) and how the cross solved that problem for us all . . . at the most immense and unknowable cost to our Lord (see the link: "the Blood of Christ"). That had nothing directly to do with Satan.

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
Luke 10:17-20 NKJV

Good advice for those tempted by this cult, especially seeing as how the 72 actually did have the power to exorcise demons.

Feel free to send me anything you wish, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hello Professor,

I’m now nearing completion of my response regarding the Christus Victor view of atonement and wanted to ask you a couple of questions.

Paul says in Hebrews 2:14 that Satan had the power of death.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

My understanding of it goes as follows: Satan’s power of death (Hebrews 2:14) also came as a result of sin. He deceived Eve who gave the forbidden fruit to Adam and death came as a result of their fall. This is why Jesus calls the devil “a liar and the father of lies” and “a murderer from the beginning”.

You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
John 8:44 NASB

Death came through sin and sin came through Satan’s temptation – this is the meaning of Satan’s power over death. He caused the first people to sin and so it is because of him that they entered the realm of death which is the penalty for sin. Satan thus brought death upon humanity.
It is very important to understand Satan’s power and its limits here. Firstly, Satan’s power does not mean that he holds an absolute dominion over death and he inflicts it on whomever he wishes. This is the power that only God has.

“The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to Sheol and raises up.
1 Samuel 2:6 NASB

Satan’s influence and power over death come from him enticing man to sin. It did not come as a result of him somehow overpowering God or disturbing His plan which then needed to be reversed through Christ. God has foreknown Satan’s (and everyone else’s) every move. Has decreed every free will decision of every creature into His perfect plan and no action undertaken by Satan happens outside of His providence (cf., Job 1-2). Failure to understand this gives rise to some false Manichean concepts where Satan is considered God’s or Christ’s equal. Neither is true, nor can He exercise absolute power over death. The issue is sin – a willful rejection of God’s will – and has been from the beginning of creation. Satan sinned first (Isaiah 14:3-21; Ezekiel 28:11-19) by rebelling against God (in order to understand Satan’s Rebellion and how it has set the human history in motion, I cannot recommend the Satanic Rebellion series by professor Luginbill enough – https://ichthys.com/Satanic-Rebellion-Home-Page.htm) and he tempted our first parents to sin. This is the original cause of all other evil and it is this cause that needed to be resolved. And has been – on the cross by Christ paying for all sin.

Hopefully the above reasoning is scripturally correct. However, two more question arose as I was explaining another verse which Christus Victor advocates like to use, Colossians 2:14-15:

When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Colossians 2:15 NASB

Paul writes in the context:

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 NASB

My understanding is that the devil and his forces were deprived of their power, because it rested on sin as an unpaid debt-bond of humanity. The Mosaic Law made this debt evident to all (Romans 7:7-11, Galatians 3:22). Christ, however, has paid this debt and fulfilled the Law, cancelling “the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us”.

I would have two questions here:

1. If we say that devil’s power rested on the debt of sin being unpaid, then should we from this draw the conclusion that the physical death, which can also be understood as devil’s domain (Hebrews 2:14) does not provide the payment for sin and so devil’s power can be understood as consisting of:

a) Inflicting death on humanity by causing Adam to sin.

b) Since death does not pay for sin, Satan’s bondage rested also on the debt being unpaid.

It’s the second point that I would like to be exactly clear about. Did Satan consider all humanity as debtors until the sin was paid by Christ, or only those who were still alive, but would “let up” on all the dead? How specifically should we understand the issue of the unpaid sin in the context of devil’s power and domain?

2. Does in verse 14 by “certificate of debt” Paul mean the Mosaic Law? Some commentators understand the Law in more generic terms here, as moral law.

In our Lord,

Response #16:

Very nice! The only comments I have will come out in answering your questions.

Let me take them in reverse order because as in all such matters it's what the Bible actually says that matters, not disputations over interpretations. My own translation for τὸ καθ᾽ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν in Colossians 2:14 is "the charge against us along with its particulars" which I explain parenthetically as "i.e., our sinful nature and personal sins". This is Paul's way of saying that Christ paid for all sin on the cross and thus relieved all mankind of the otherwise unmovable burden of having to answer for (let alone pay for) our sins – of which all have a generous share, since all have a sin nature.

This, I hope, illuminates the other double-question. The devil is an angel, a "super-creature" in comparison to we finite human beings who are confined to planet earth. He also has a large following (one third of the angels). In terms of raw power, he could wipe humanity off the map in very short order – God allowing. But God does not allow. This is the key point. Satan can only do what he is allowed to do. Like all rebels, he pushes the envelope wherever and whenever he can. This explains his temptation of our first parents through very insidious means (it was apparently not directly prohibited for him to do so); this explains Genesis chapter six (before the flood the fallen angels were apparently not being prohibited from doing what they did – but things are different now). Satan cannot destroy anyone (without specific divine approval), but he is allowed to tempt us (within parameters to which we are not privy). If we didn't have a sin nature, we couldn't be tempted in the way that we are all tempted. The only way the devil could tempt Adam and Eve when they as yet lacked sin natures was in respect to the tree of knowing good and evil – which he did, of course, and very effectively too. Now, since we are all corrupt in our bodies, his avenues for temptation are much greater. That is the basis for our vulnerability to the devil's ploys, that is, the inherent sin dwelling in the bodies of us all (which constitutes the basis for his power as explained). Hebrews 2:14 is further explained by the following verse: fear of death, a hallmark of the sin nature and universal in all but those believers who have a complete and unshakable faith in the Lord, leads to all manner of perverse behaviors in regard to religion, the devil's preeminent realm. Once a person is involved in a religion or cult they can be manipulated in all manner of negative ways in the furtherance of Satan's particular tactical objectives. But Christ solves this problem by dying for our sins and liberating us from death, opening the door of salvation for all willing to receive it. We no longer have to seek some horrible religious solution to the "ultimate concern", as Tillich termed it, because we have placed our faith in Him for life eternal, a life eternal made possible by what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Going back to the Colossians passage, the cross, therefore, is the victory. Without the cross, we would all be lost; without the cross, we would most definitely still be under the fear of death; without the cross, the devil would have won. Christ's death for the sins of the world is what makes the end of this world in cleansing and resurrection possible, with Satan and company cast out (along with all unbelievers who have followed him instead of the Lord). So in Colossians 2:15 Paul anticipates the removal of the enemy in terms that any contemporary Roman would easily understand, namely, the triumphal procession which all victorious generals celebrated in Rome, after which the captured leader of the foe was executed. In terms of timing, we may say that the "tide has turned"; the victory is won at the cross but the war goes on until its appointed end – but as of the cross, that blessed end is in no doubt whatsoever.

To recap, looked at from the "big picture" point of view, the devil gained an opportunity at the fall (that is his "power"), but lost it at the cross (though he continues to fight a rearguard action until the end).

From a purely practical point of view, there is nothing in any of these passages which expresses anything different from what we already understand about the Christian life, namely, we believers are in this world as soldiers of the Lord, under fire from the lord of this world and his forces. He has power in a literal sense (being an angel) and in a figurative sense, being able to use his wiles on us to some effect because we are sinners by nature. That literal power is restrained by the Lord and His forces; that figurative power was broken strategically at the cross – and tactically in the lives of believers who live by the Spirit and not by the flesh.

In terms of how Satan views these things, that is not something scripture addresses. The devil does not strike me as much of a theologian. He is more of a master tactician. I think he could care less why theologically it is that he is or is not allowed to do one thing or another; what he does is to do all the evil he can in the most efficient and tactically effective way he can. Praise God that he is fighting a losing battle! And that battle, though the fighting still continues, was irrevocably lost by him at the cross when our dear Savior redeemed us all from all of our sins by sacrificing His life for ours. Eternity is not long enough to praise Him for what He has done for us.

In the Name of Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hello Professor,

Thank you for this explanation, it did help.

I wanted to ask you a question regarding your interpretation of Hebrews 2:14 - as you wrote, it is believers who don't need to be afraid of death, and the rest, not willing to seek the solution to this ultimate concern of humanity often turns to religion or various types of falsehood to remove this fear out of their consciousness. But that rose another question - it is believers who are actually freed from the fear of death, not the unbelievers. I understand that the door of salvation is open, but it has been open also before our Lord's coming - for those who were seeking the truth. So my point is that unbelievers are still not free of this fear - until they believe. So when the verse says "and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives", I was assuming that those freed should be believers, as unbelievers still remain in slavery to this fear. Hopefully you can see what I'm not clear about.

In our Lord,

Response #17:

Always a pleasure. As to your question about Hebrews 2:14, I would say that the cross is effective for all; it is merely that all do not take advantage of the gracious gift of God. As Paul says in Romans . . .

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
Romans 5:15 NKJV

Clearly, only believers actually receive God's favor because it is only given to those who accept the One who made it possible; also just as clearly all died, not merely many, because "all sin". So this is a pretty common sort of phraseology in Paul where he states the principle of truth without thinking it necessary to footnote all and sundry possible exceptions since these would all follow the essential tenets and logic of the plan of God wherein He provides grace for all in that Christ died for all – but not all, on account of their own refusal, accept that gracious offer of life eternal.

So what you say about unbelievers is absolutely true . . . but not through any failure on God's part. The provision has been made for all so that all are positionally and potentially free – the battle has been won.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

Charismatics and the promise of "this world" health and wealth preachers (for some reason those two are very tightly bundled ideologies) are very aggressive about what they believe. However, it is very difficult to read these verses:

"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." (Luke 6:20)

"I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich!" (Revelation 2:9)

And notice that there is not one parallel verse promising worldly wealth. Luke doesn't even add the "in spirit," either, to emphasize material poverty.

Response #18:

That's right – we're in the business of storing up treasures in heaven, not on earth. Nothing down here lasts in any event. Even if a person is able to amass untold riches it cuts no rug with God and will be lost just soon as life is lost – something which happens with amazing rapidity even for those who outlive their cohort. We all want as Christians "to serve the Lord" but also to lead "a good life". The problems come when #2 replaces #1 as a priority in our thinking and acting – and that is true however the "pursuit of happiness" is being prosecuted. Seeking wealth is just one of many traps the devil and his world system has set. For example, there is also the trap of carnality of every sort to watch out for, and also the arrogance of "do-gooding" (cf. Ps.73:7-9; Job 20:6) which replaces what God has purposed with one's own prideful search for "fixing things" (political action, social action, social gospel, etc.). I don't think any of these problems are restricted to the charismatics not all of whom are deep into the prosperity gospel (and there are plenty of prosperity gospel preachers who are not of the charismatic folly).

The problem with pinning such things on one group or persuasion is that it can lead to personal vulnerability. Since we all would rather not suffer or be deprived, we are all going to be tempted along these lines one way or another at one time or another, and how much more so once the Tribulation begins. All the more reason to pursue spiritual growth in an aggressive way so as to be fully clad in the armor of the Word whenever any worldly persuasion is singing its siren song. These can be very subtle and appealing, after all.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

A number of years ago, I started uncovering some amazing patterns in the Bible. One of them is very similar to what you write about when you talk about the seven millennial days; that is, how the seven thousand years of earth history line up with the seven days of creation.

This is a "revolution" in prophecy.

Response #19:

I'll have a look.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

Have you had a chance to look at my writings yet? Thanks a lot for being willing to.

Response #20:

I don't believe we've corresponded before. Are you connected to ___ and his website found in the email chain below?

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Yes. I don't like to put my true name out there in cyberspace.

Response #21:

With all due respect, any ministry which does not divulge certain basic information about the author and its antecedents is not something I am comfortable spending any time on (let alone recommending).

Question #22:

Hi--I was wondering if you could answer a quick question for me....the Book of Mormon has a character in it named "Sam." Could this be an authentic Hebrew name? Is it the same as "Shem"? One Mormon wrote this about it: "Sam is an authentically Hebrew name. There is no distinction in Hebrew between the S and Sh. Sam and Shem are written the same and have been pronounced both ways at various times depending on the Hebrew dialect current at the time. And your insistence that Sam is a diminutive of Samuel sort of misses the point. Samuel is an Anglicization for the Hebrew Shem and El, Åmû'el."

And a non-Mormon said that Samuel comes from the Hebrew "Shmu-el" and that Samuel comes from that--but that "Sam" isn't an authentic Hebrew shortening for that name.

I did see something on the Internet, that "Sam" is a Hebrew baby name, meaning something like "sunshine". But I don't know if that is modern Hebrew only or what. Just an FYI. And no, I don't believe everything I read on the Internet.

Take care.

Response #22:

There is no Hebrew name "Sam" which is not derivative of another name, and in all of the instances I know of, "Sam" is short for "Samuel".  English (because of Latin influence through the Vulgate) doesn't always distinguish between the Hebrew letters shin and sin, but Hebrew certainly does.  Trying to figure out "what Sam in the book of Mormon might mean" is getting trapped in the documentary fallacy.  This is a little like arguing about what Tiny Tim was really thinking when he said X/Y/Z –  it's a waste of time because there never was an actual Tiny Tim.  Likewise, there never was a "Sam in the book of Mormon", except in that fictional representation.  Who knows what Smith had in mind when he came up with that character.  My best guess is that he had heard the name Sam before (as we all have) and used it to suit his purposes.  But he didn't get it from the Bible (as a name unto itself) because it doesn't occur in the Bible under any possible spellings, nor does this name exist in any version of Hebrew to my knowledge –  as anything but a shortened form of Samuel.  Sam would be an incorrect form of Shem because of the difference in vowel.  Shem is Sem in the Vulgate, so even in the tradition that fails to distinguish shin and sin the vowel doesn't change from "e" to "a".  There is no "Hebrew dialect" that mixes up these vowels either (?!).  This person is just making things up as he/she goes along in order to defend the indefensible.  The same problem would apply with the word for 'sun', shemesh –  i.e., not just problems with the consonants but also with the vowel.  Finally, even if some people have decided to use the name "Sam" in Israel today, and even if they claim to be deriving it from something other than "Samuel", that has nothing to do with the price of beans since it is happening centuries after the book of Mormon was written –  and ostensible many more centuries after the "events" recorded are supposed to have taken place.  History does take place in chronological order, after all.  So add anachronism to the list of fallacies here. 

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, 

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hi--thanks for your input. But what about the fact that Hebrew has no Vowels? Although didn't the Masorites later on add little jobs and such over the letters to indicate the correct vowel sounds? I ask because the Mormons could point out that Hebrew has no vowels, so how so we know if the name has an "e" or an "a" in it?

Response #23:

Hebrew has vowels.  Hebrew often doesn't write them down, especially when they are obvious.  But Hebrew has always had vowels.  You can't pronounce a single Hebrew word without putting in vowels.  The question is, "Am I putting in the right vowel here?"  That is something that one learns by experience.  Jewish newspapers in Israel today don't have vowels (for the most part) but can still be vocalized.  I say "for the most part" because even in antiquity there were some vowels written in the texts / inscriptions / manuscripts which have survived.  These were/are not of the Masoretic system, though the Masoretes no doubt took their cue from these matres lectionis (lit., "mothers of reading") as they are called.  So in the Qumran mss. we find waws standing for the long "o" sound, and we find yodhs standing for the long "i" or long "e" sound.  There are even so places of ambiguity, and it is clear to me at least that the Masoretes didn't get it right 100% of the time (and there are some places where they deliberately fudge to obscure clear prophecies of Christ, as in Isaiah 7:14; see the link: Masoretes).  Bottom line:  there is a BIG difference for a Hebrew speaker between Sam and sham and Shem and shêm and shem[esh] –  these are all completely different words with completely different meanings (that it to say, the last three have meaning; the first two don't exist in Hebrew, not as original words, anyway), and by hearing the word (or by gleaning from the context), native speakers can tell the difference easily enough: no one would ever mistake Sam for Shem (e.g.); the former is not a valid way to write the latter nor to pronounce it. 

But all this is really neither here nor there.  A word/name vocalized "Sam" would have to be shown to exist somewhere for the claim that "Sam" in the book of Mormon represents an existing Hebrew word/name.  No such proof can be adduced.  The fact that sh_m exists (as "Shem" and the word for "name") can't be taken as an antecedent for a putative word that has only the "m" in common of the three elements.  Also, let me point out, that correspondent is trying to have it both ways and is giving you a "moving target".  Let correspondent go on the record that "Sam" means Shem or shêm or shem[esh] –  or whatever he/she thinks it is derived from.  Then his/her position will be easier to refute.  They are the ones who ought to have to prove that this name is really in the Bible somewhere (it is not).  And if the position is that this is a "new" name not in the Bible, well, that tells us something too. 

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Okay, thanks for the explanation. I know vowels exist in Hebrew; I just mean they aren't part of the original alphabet, though "aleph" has always puzzled me.

I forgot to tell you--I think "Sam" was the name of one of Joseph Smith's brothers. So he didn't have to look very far for that name!

Have a blessed Christmas.

Response #24:

Thanks – I'm sure that's the actual answer.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Good morning Bob . I trust you and your family are well. I wondered if you've heard about any recent changes within the WTBTS? I'm aware that the internet can be a fetid swamp of bs, but often where there's smoke, there's fire.

First, I've seen reports that the Society has notified Elders that some Kingdom Halls would be closing, requiring congregations to consolidate. Makes me wonder if they've seen a contraction in membership or decline in finances? Second, I noticed the masthead on The Watchtower has changed again, they have removed the sentence regarding "the Creator's promise..." Third, David Splain of the Governing Body is trying to re-define and expand the meaning of the word "generation" in a posting on YouTube.

More than seventeen years ago Raymond Franz wrote that with the millennium looming, the Governing Body was under tremendous pressure due to their anchor date of 1914. Perhaps they have finally reached the tipping point?


Response #25:

Good to hear from you my friend. I don't really know anything about it, but I appreciate the update (you're my source on this group).

It will be interesting to see what happens the closer we get to the end. Clearly, groups which are already in the devil's camp are most likely going to be among the first used by antichrist.

Hope you are well, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #26:

Good evening Bob. Thanks for your prompt response. I thought the decline of the WTBTS might just be wishful thinking, however my friend hasn't called on me for about six months, and he is a hyper-strain of Jehovah Witness with no off switch. I've come to see him as a victim, because he grew up in the Truth and was subjected to the cult's mind control from an early age.

I have the cover of the May 15, 1984 Watchtower which boldly proclaims 1914 The Generation That Will Not Pass Away beneath a group of sixteen senior citizens, all of whom are long dead. I am supremely confident that he distributed this issue during his field service and intend to ask him about it. I will not accept the "old light" excuse. The removal last year of "the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away" is yet another example of their false prophecies. Scan attached below

I thought Revelation gave them the most trouble, how can there be two firsts and lasts? How can there be two Alpha and Omegas?

Thanks again Bob. God bless.

Response #26:


I will be sure to post all this the next time I get to something on an appropriate theme. It'll save those without the time to refute every cult a lot of trouble and will be a good palliative against door-knockers too (good question to ask them in your email here!).

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.



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