Monday, January 9, 2017

Breaking Down Beth Moore's Comment at Passion 2017

The annual Passion conference was held last week at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, headed up by Passion City Church pastor Louie Giglio and featuring speakers like John Piper, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, and Francis Chan. The conference targets mainly young adults. In addition to preaching and music, there's a big push for ending the evil of human trafficking. I've never attended, but my sister has. The year that she did, I watched the entire thing online.

This year's conference caused a stir making even the pages of Rolling Stone when pop star Carrie Underwood took the stage with David Crowder to sing her song about baptismal regeneration, Something In the Water. Underwood claims to be a Christian, known for another Christian-esque hit, Jesus Take the Wheel. However, the often scantily-clad performer came out in support of same-sex marriage years ago. She has no business having a platform at a Christian conference, let alone being invited to sing a song about baptismal regeneration.

Josh Buice, director of the G3 Conference (which I really wish I was attending this year), wrote a great article at Delivered By Grace, which you can read by clicking here. The article was wisely entitled Passion Without Knowledge is Deadly. That's not only a warning concerning Underwood's cameo, it's a concern regarding the conference et al.

Over the last couple of days, John Piper and Matt Chandler have both drawn criticism online for reposting -- okay, hang on, this is going to get confusing -- a comment from Beth Moore taken from the sermon she preached at Passion as summarized by Louie Giglio's wife, Shelley, and retweeted by Ann Voskamp. Did that make sense?

Here was Moore's comment as recalled by Shelley Giglio and retweeted by Voskamp:
You will watch a generation of Christians -- OF CHRISTIANS -- set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil's schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE's sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH and LOVE? -Beth Moore
Now that sounds about right, right? Someone in my congregation might even say, "Brother Gabe, haven't you preached that exact same thing?" I have. I have warned my congregation about teachers in particular who will set the Bible aside while calling for unity -- "just love" at the expense of the truth. In fact and ironically, Beth Moore is one of those teachers I've warned about.

About three years ago, Beth Moore spoke at James Robison's Awaken Now conference where she said the following about a coming revival:
"I believe that the Lord has placed it on my heart to tell you that as it comes, and it will... If we'll be willing to stop telling what it has to look like, it's coming. But we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I'm going to say that again: we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I want you to look at one another and say, 'Be prepared for scoffers.' And here's the thing: the unbelieving world's scoffing is not going to bother us that much. We're used to them thinking that we are idiots... But it's going to come from some in our own Christian realm, our own brothers and sisters. We're going to have people who are honestly going to want to debate and argue with us about awakening and downpours. They're going to say, 'That's not the way it should look.' You know what, dude? I'm just asking you are you thirsty?"
At Awaken Now 2014, we have Beth Moore warning about those who are going to be critical regarding what authentic unity should look like according to the Bible. At Passion 2017, we have Beth Moore pleading with Christians to watch out for those who are going to set aside the Bible for the sake of unity.

If the statement from Passion 2017 came from anyone else but Moore, I'd be fine with it. Like I said, I've preached on that very thing as recently as the last few weeks. But Beth Moore does ministry with noted heretics like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. So when she says that there are Christians who are going to set the Bible aside for love's sake, I look at her ministry and I see her doing that exact thing.

From left to right: Victoria Osteen, Beth Moore, Liz Curtis Higgs, & Priscilla Shirer; preaching at Osteen's church.

This is why, much to Moore's chagrin, doctrine is so important. Hermeneutics are important. Theology is important. We can all use the exact same words but be coming from completely different approaches. Words have meaning, and those meanings are best understood in context. As much as we talk about understanding the Bible in context, we need to understand our teachers in context as well -- not just the sermons we take their pithy quotes from, but their teaching overall.

John MacArthur is someone I've listened to for years and am familiar with his teaching. So when MacArthur says, "Watch out for scoffers," I know it's coming from a sound doctrinal base (2 Peter 3:3). When Beth Moore says, "Watch out for scoffers," I know it doesn't. Again, both teachers are using the same words, but they have different meanings.

I'm not terribly concerned with Piper's and Chandler's hearts in reposting the Moore/Giglio/Voskamp quote -- even though all three women operate their ministries in biblical disobedience and have their own sets of serious doctrinal problems. When John and Matt read that quote from Moore, they were reading it from their own hermeneutic, not Moore's. It's poor judgment on their part and lacking in discernment. But it doesn't mean we throw Piper and Chandler out with the hypocrites. Take note of it, scratch your head if you must, and move on.

I love both men. We have a couple of their books in our church library under recommended reading: Chandler's Explicit Gospel and Piper's Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. I appreciate the gospel basics both books offer. As invaluable as these men have been to me over the course of my young adult life, I hope and pray they will be more discerning as to who they're reposting on Twitter and thus giving an endorsement of.

Piper's continued involvement with Passion is becoming a growing blemish on his ministry for a number of reasons I won't get into here. I've defended him to my friends in the past, but it's increasingly difficult to do so the worse Passion is getting. I'm hoping that he will reconsider his participation with the conference and withdraw from future appearances.

Buice was right on point when he said passion without knowledge is deadly (read also his article on why pastors should stop using Beth Moore). We can have even a passion for the Bible but misuse it in such a way that it becomes a danger to us and to others -- mind you, with eternal consequences. Regarding the handling of Paul's letters, Peter warned, "There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16).

There will come a generation of Christians who will set aside the Bible in an attempt to be more like Jesus. But don't think of Moore as being some kind of prophet in that sense. That generation is right now, and Moore is among those teachers we should be watching out for.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Responding to the False Teaching of Bethel Church, Jesus Culture, and Todd White


Last week, I published a series of videos through WWUTT about false teachers at Bethel Church and Jesus Culture, including Bill Johnson and Todd White. This began with a video that Todd White posted on Facebook preaching a false man-centered gospel. I followed that up with a video on Bethel Church and Todd White. The last of the trilogy was a video addressing Bethel Church and Jesus Culture's use of "glory clouds" during their worship services. How do I know these men are cons? Because the Bible says so. The following are some of the comments we got about those videos. The comments are in bold and my response follows.

You still don't have proof. God manifest His glory in myriads of ways. What Moses experienced was unique and only occurred one time in the Bible. What about the cloud that was present in the camp? God was present in the cloud by day and the fire by night. God was present in the cloud that covered the tabernacle in the midst of over 2 million people. "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34). I'm not defending Bethel but you have made baseless accusations that you simply cannot verify. You do not know with absolutely certainly whether or not your accusations are true. Why not send someone to collect some of the dust and have it analyzed?

Ben
Overland Park, KS

Understand something: It is Bethel Church that calls this glitter-and-fog-machine manifestation a "glory cloud." That's their name for it, not mine. If it was the glory of God, it would kill everyone in that room. The pillars of cloud and fire described in Exodus 14 were not a display of God in His glory. Exodus 14:19 says that it was an angel of God that was in the pillar of cloud (not to be confused with the Angel of the Lord). In Exodus 40:34, "The cloud covered the tent of meeting" and "the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" are two different statements. It's not saying the cloud which was the glory of God filled the tabernacle.

Furthermore, it's as if Ben didn't actually watch the whole video (which is only 90-seconds long). The book of Exodus is not the only Scriptural evidence given as to how I know God's glory is not appearing in gold dust at Bethel Church. Hebrews 1:1-3 explicitly states that God does not appear to us in such ways anymore. He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, through His word, the Bible -- which is not preached at Bethel Church. That's how I know they are liars and deceivers, and they're piping in gold dust and fog through their ventilation system.

Thank the Lord, I don't need to invest the time and money to go to Bethel church and scoop up some gold dust to have it analyzed or crawl through their air ducts and take pictures. I have a much more infallible resource -- the word of God. If you won't believe that word, you'd never believe any other form of proof.

Is it bad to play their music in church? Some of their songs aren't bad.

Aisha
Plantation, FL

Here's three reasons why you shouldn't play their music in church. First, their songs offer nothing substantive. Your church will not be missing anything if you don't play Jesus Culture songs, but you will be missing something if you do. As I've written about before, there's nothing biblically solid about their music. If you think you hear doctrinally sound lyrics, that's because the song is ambiguous enough to allow you to impose your (probably better) theology upon it. But if their teaching isn't biblical, neither will their music be.

Second, you would inadvertently be endorsing their church. If someone found out the song you sang on Sunday came from Jesus Culture, that could open the door for that person exposing them to Bethel's teaching and heresy. I shared an occasion of this happening in a previous article (linked above).

And third, you would be paying them for their songs. If your church is singing something other than hymns or what's in the public domain, then you probably have a CCLI license. That means you pay royalties on the songs that you sing. If some of those songs are from Jesus Culture, you are paying them to sing their music. (By the way, these reasons also apply to why we shouldn't sing Hillsong tunes either.)

My friends, to correct your closing statements, there is no question that WWUTT, Pastor Gabe, and others who do what they do are false teachers. Leave God's anointed alone for once. That would be great.

Evans
Marion Station, MD

Regarding the video exposing Bill Johnson and Todd White, the closing statement is, "There's no question that Bethel Church, Todd White, and others who do what they do are false teachers." Evans was trying to be witty and turn that back around on me. His insistence to "leave God's anointed alone" is a common one used often in charismatic circles. The irony is that it's actually these charismatic false prophets who are harming God's anointed ones.

Upon the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, David gave praise to God for His faithfulness to His people. While they wandered from Egypt to the Promised Land, and were yet so few in number, God allowed no one to oppress them and "rebuked kings on their account, saying, 'Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!'" (1 Chronicles 16:22, repeated again in Psalm 105:15).

God's anointed ones are those who are descendants in the line of Abraham. In our case as Christians, it's all who are in Christ, Himself a descendant of Abraham and through whom we are adopted into the family of God. In 2 Corinthians 1:21, Paul says that we have been anointed in Christ. John says this also in 1 John 2:20, anointed by the Holy One. We who are in Christ are God's anointed.

Those who speak against God are the false shepherds and teachers talked about in Ezekiel 34 and John 10. In 1 John 4:1, we read, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." These false teachers are a burden upon the people of God, unsettling them by teaching for selfish gain what they ought not teach.

Jesus said, "For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). Just as God protected his people from pagan kings in the Old Testament, so He will continue to protect His people from the wiles of false prophets. It is to these false teachers, like Bill Johnson and Todd White, that God is saying, "Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!"

Psalm 105:15 and 1 Chronicles 16:22 are in no way meant to give false teachers a pass. Rather, it's all the more reason why we need to test all things according to the Scriptures. This will be a topic in a future WWUTT video.

Another lovely video taken out of context. Watch the rest of the video and you'll see how Todd White realizes that it's all grace and mercy. Todd White realizes we were wretched but aren't anymore now that we are in Christ. Come on, Pastor Gabe. So as a Christian it's wrong to say we are a new creation?

Ricky
Omaha, NE

Ricky expressed appreciation for my ministry and WWUTT, so I know that his disagreement is respectful. The video that the Todd White clip was taken from was shared by White on his Facebook page, and has been seen over a million times. In the three minutes that he spoke, he never once mentioned grace or mercy. The 45-second clip that was used in the WWUTT video was perfectly in context.

I have watched dozens of Todd White sermons since I was first introduced to him in 2014. His messages are always the same. He constantly abuses Scripture, rambles on about nothing, and never shares the gospel. He uses the word "gospel," but doesn't preach it. There is never any understanding of guilt before God, repenting of sin and receiving forgiveness. He doesn't tell people to turn from their rebellious nature to the righteousness of Christ, who by His death satisfied the wrath of God burning against ungodliness, and by His resurrection has rescued us from the grave we deserve and given us the eternal life we do not deserve. Those who are in Christ are saved from God's judgment, those who are not will be consigned to an eternal hell at the last judgment.

That's not White's message. White's message is always about how we're great and deserving of the blessings of God. When he talks about God's love, he talks about it from the standpoint that the love God has for us proves that we are inherently lovable. We're not. We were children of wrath like the rest of mankind saved by the mercy of God (see Ephesians 2:1-10). White's doctrine could not be more man-centered. It is this very kind of teaching that prompted Spurgeon to say, "If you meet with a system of theology that magnifies man, flee from it as far as you can!"

White preaches about dominion and stuff he'll call "the gospel" that isn't the gospel. He thinks that "By His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24) means that we're supposed to go up to people on the street and make their legs grow. And even that work is a total con. He is a liar, a Bethel Church cad, leading thousands of people astray into a false gospel of works-based evangelism. I pray he repents or the day of judgment will not go well for him. Have nothing to do with this charlatan.

A church here in Garden City has promoted him and has had Dan Mohler, one of Todd's mentors, to speak at the church. Thank you for your time to bring this to light.

John
Garden City, KS

As a former resident of Garden City, this grieves me. This is why it's so important to speak up about these things and alert people to this false teaching. People are being deceived. They think miraculous clouds and healings (which are nothing but tricks) are the gospel. They're trading in sound preaching and teaching of God's word for goosebumps and charismania.

Not so long ago, I was having my quiet time with God and I was sharing what's on my heart on how jealous I am for God, how I wanted to fight the false teachings in church that led God's sheep astray, how I wanted to expose it and burn it. And as I was sharing that, God spoke to me in a personal way and told me that to get the darkness away you need light. To fight falsehood, you need the truth to shine. Go share the truth instead of dedicating yourself to exposing falsehoods in other teachings. I quickly stepped down from my anger toward the false teachings in obedience and decided that I want to pursue learning the Bible so I can share the truth to all that I bump into. I'm sharing this testimony because I would love for the WWUTT team to stop releasing videos accusing others and instead focus more on sharing the truth without having to point fingers in order to do that. All that is doing is creating hostility, and I'm saying that from personal experience. Press on, aspire on being salt and light to the world, and may God bless you.

Daniel
New Cairo, Egypt

There were a couple of men that responded to Daniel with Scripture, and he seemed to be appreciative for the correction. For that reason, I rejoice. Daniel's experience is subjective and not based in Scripture. He heard something in his mind instead of reading for himself what God has truly said in the Bible. There it says we need to take no part in the fruitless works of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11). The church is to be a pillar and buttress of the truth, declaring the truth and defending the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). One of the responsibilities as a pastor is to hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught and be able to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). Sometimes that means naming names.

Preaching the truth and occasionally calling out false teachers does not divide. It unifies. It is the false teachers who divide. It is men who are faithful to the sound teaching of the Bible who are the peacemakers. The word of God pierces to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). If declaring it offends someone, that's not on the part of the teacher who humbly submits to and declares its truth. Jesus said, "I came not to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). Many will be divided from the people of God when the word of God is declared because they were not really of the people of God in the first place.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews?

The following is a response given on a recent episode of the WWUTT podcast, answering a question on who wrote the book of Hebrews. If you'd like to submit a question, the e-mail address is whenweunderstandthetext@gmail.com, and subscribe to the podcast here! Questions are answered on Fridays.


Hey Pastor Gabe, I really enjoy your WWUTT videos! My question is: who do you think wrote the book of Hebrews? What do you think are the best arguments out there? A.W. Pink makes very strong internal arguments from the Scripture in favor for Paul writing the book.

Thank you
Jeremiah

Greetings, Jeremiah!

Thank you for your question! It's hard to say who wrote Hebrews, but I do not believe it was Paul. Now, I'm not versed in Greek and am unable to compare Paul's Greek to the Greek in Hebrews. But I don't think a person would need to know Greek in order to rule out Paul as the author.

There are two reasons I don't believe Paul wrote it. First, there's no clear greeting. In all of Paul's letters that we have, there is a distinct introduction and conclusion. He identifies himself in every letter, and in Hebrews he does not. This is an argument from silence of course, but it's a very loud silence given the nature of the letter, who it's written to, and yet Paul doesn't find it necessary to remind them that he's a former teacher of the Law.

The second reason I believe is the strongest reason. Hebrews 2:3 says of the gospel, "It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard." Well, Paul didn't receive the gospel "by those who heard." He received it from direct revelation from the Lord himself (Galatians 1:12, Ephesians 3:3).

So who did write Hebrews? Well, considering there are some stylistic similarities to Paul's writings, it would have to be someone close to Paul. The mention of Timothy in chapter 13 suggests someone from Paul's group. The most likely candidates are Apollos and Barnabas. Despite the fact that Martin Luther argued for Apollos being the author, I think Apollos can be ruled out in favor of Barnabas.

Apollos was a Jew, but he was from Alexandria, Egypt. He had a Greek name, and his ministry outreach was primarily to the Greeks, particularly in Ephesus and Corinth. Barnabas, however, was a Levite (Acts 4:36). He would have known the levitical system well which is a central theme in the book of Hebrews. In Acts 11, we see Barnabas sent out from Jerusalem to find Paul, and they served in ministry together. Barnabas was present at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. His acquaintance with both Hebrews and Paul runs much deeper than Apollos.

That would be my argument for the author of Hebrews. I hope I've been able to give you something to consider. Ultimately the author of Hebrews is the author of the Bible: God Himself. It is in Him we marvel when we read His inerrant word, delivered to us through His apostles and prophets to the praise of His glorious grace. God bless, Jeremiah!

Pastor Gabe

Monday, November 28, 2016

Why People Leave the Church


The following is an exchange I had a few months back with a woman named Melissa via e-mail. These kinds of exchanges are fairly regular with a wide variety of people, but all making the same arguments. Receive my tone as even and caring. I want a person to love Christ and His church, which is why I share His word: so they will repent of their sins and through Christ be reconciled to God and to His people. A person will hear the gospel and be broken by it, or they will be crushed under it (Matthew 21:44). There's an omission and edits for grammar.

Mr. Hughes

I read your blog about the disagreement with Pavlovitz. I'm a once-in-a-while church person. The way you attempted to contradict Pavlovitz on why people leave Church is why people leave Church. My interpretation of what you are saying is that if you aren't a 100% believer of "our" beliefs you do not belong "here".  

Everyday people don't feel accepted in one way or another. It would be nice to enjoy a Sunday morning with people that are unbiased and accepting, unfortunately that's not reality. Do individuals or corporations own a Church or does God? It's interesting how people will say "our" Church or "my" Church as if it's something they own or a club they belong to.  

This is why Church Goers become Used to be Church Goers. The disillusionment is revealed & then they wake up and realize they belong to a cult where their true selves aren't accepted.  

I realize the Southern Baptist ways tend to rely on fear and intimidation to "keep its flock in order", but people are smarter than that. They want compassion, understanding and treated with dignity. 

Melissa

Dear Melissa

Thank you for reading the blog, and I appreciate you reaching out and sending me an e-mail. People leave the church because they hate God and they hate God's people. There is no other reason. The blog mentions 1 John 2:19 where the Apostle says they went out from us so that it might become plain that they were never of us to begin with.

Romans 8:7-8 says, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." We read in 1 Corinthians 1:18 and 2:14, "For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

You're an occasional church-goer because you also don't love God or His people. I pray that you will repent of this and that you will love the body of Christ. You like listening to men like John Pavlovitz because he makes you feel better about your decisions, accumulating for yourself false teachers to suit your own passions (2 Timothy 4:3).

Pastor Gabe

Mr. Hughes

I don't hate God or "his" people. Wasn't I a product of God and doesn't He have a plan for me? Is God only in a structure that is man made? Instead of quoting scripture maybe you should spend more time trying to understand human beings. Humans feel more accepted when one tries to understand their questions and concepts. The minute one starts to "preach the Gospel" I feel alone, threatened and alienated. Follow these words or else... is what I hear. 

Dear Melissa

Thank you again for your reply. I don't understand what you're asking by your first few questions, but let me say that all those who are in Christ, who are part of His church, are His people. It says in 1 Peter 2:10, talking about the church, "Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people." And in Titus 2:14, Jesus "gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."

We read in 1 John 3:10, "By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." As it says previously in 1 John 3:8, "Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil."

The reason why you feel threatened and alienated when you hear the Bible quoted to you is because your conscience is guilty. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." You feel exposed when the word of God is given to you. Rather than ignore it and try to tell people not to speak the Bible, repent of your sins and desire Christ the Lord.

Jesus said, "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God" (John 3:19-21).

If you don't hate God, then you'll come to the light of His love and mercy as spoken about in His word. But if you hate God, you will hate His word, and will run when you hear it.

Pastor Gabe

Wow!! Just wow. I can't be a part of your world. I guess I must hate people that love God. I should quit my job as a nurse who goes on mission trips to third world countries and join the devil. 

This condescending "Join God and his people or else you're a hateful person" is what drives people away from your kind of Church.

Thank you for your response again. I just wanted a real human discussion with a pastor that had different thoughts than mine and you could not even do that. 

I won't email anymore as I'm sure I'm an insult to your belief system.

"All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." Isaiah 66:2

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

People Who Claimed to Be the Second Coming of Christ

Do you remember a story in 2011 where a man got arrested after shooting at the White House? Did you ever hear why? Well, that guy thought he was the second-coming of Jesus Christ, and he needed to stop Obama, the antichrist, from ruling the world. His name was Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez. In a video addressing Oprah, he announced his divinity and said, "It's not just a coincidence that I look like Jesus. I am the modern day Jesus Christ that you all have been waiting for."

Many others have claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ, and unfortunately, some of them aren't as on-the-fringe as Oscar. They have duped thousands, even millions of followers. Yet the true Jesus has said to us:
"If anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Matthew 24:23-27
The following are twelve of the most notorious prophets who claimed to be the return of Jesus. Some of this is just downright ridiculous and will probably make you laugh. But we need to have broken hearts and remember that unless false teachers and their followers repent, they will stand before the true Christ in judgment who will say to them, "Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you."

We must remain committed to the true words of the Bible, preaching them to the world, and exposing the fruitless works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). The false gospel will damn (Galatians 1:8-9). Only the true gospel has the power to save (Romans 1:16).

Ann Lee
Ever heard of the Shakers? Less popularly known as the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, they were called the "Shaking Quakers" or just Shakers because of their spasmatic behavior during their worship services (hmmm, that sounds familiar). The sect was founded in 18th century England, known for practicing communal living and egalitarianism, believing that the second coming of Christ would be through a woman. Along came Ann Lee who said she was the female incarnation and second coming of Christ. Mother Ann, as she was known, preached that sex of any kind, even sex in marriage, was lustful, and told her followers to forsake marriage (which 1 Timothy 4:1-3 calls the teaching of demons). The Shakers are still around, though I'm not sure how that's possible if they aren't allowed to breed. Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, located in Maine, is said to be the last existing Shaker community.

Arnold Potter
From among the Mormons came a guy named Arnold Potter who also went by Potter Christ. In 1840, Potter was ordained by Mormon founder Joseph Smith and given the Melchizedek priesthood, becoming one of the seventy. In 1856, Potter was called by Latter-Day Saint Church President, Brigham Young, to serve as a missionary in Australia. It was on that trip that Potter claims that he became Potter Christ, Son of the living God. What else can you expect from a religion based entirely on new revelation? He moved back to Independence, MO, which the Mormons claim is the true Zion, then to Council Bluffs, IA where he maintained a group of devout followers. In 1878, on the day of his death, he rode on a donkey up to the bluffs and told his disciples it was time for him to ascend into heaven. Then he jumped off the cliff, and... well, I'm sure you can guess what happened.

Baha'u'llah
In 1844, a man named Sayid Ali Muhammad claimed to be the Bab (meaning "Gate"), the eighth manifestation of God and first since Muhammad. Before his execution by Persian and Ottoman authorities in 1850, the Bab spoke of a coming prophet. On April 22, 1863, Mirza Husayn Ali, one of the Bab's followers (also called Babis), claimed to be the fulfillment of that prophesy. He took the name Baha'u'llah, which means "the glory of God," founder of the Baha'i faith who claimed to be the second coming of Christ. The faith believes it is the reconciliation of all major religions; therefore, Baha'u'llah is not just the second coming of Christ but the fulfillment of the greatest prophets in every major religion. Their yearly annual conferences are held in Haifa, Israel. It is estimated that the Baha'i faith has up to 8 million members, about as large as the Jehovah's Witnesses and half as large as Mormonism. But unlike those two religions, the Baha'i do not believe in proselytizing. The Baha'i faith is monotheistic, but says that God is unknowable.

The Baha'i House of Worship for North America, located in Wilmette, IL.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
An Indian religious leader and founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Ahmad claimed to be the coming of the Mahhdi, the redeemer of Islam, in the likeness of Jesus. In 1891, he claimed that God told him, "The Messiah, son of Mary, Prophet of Allah, had died and thou hast come in accordance with the promise." Ahmad is among the first, certainly the most influential, to suggest that Jesus survived his crucifixion. He then traveled to India where he died a natural death. Therefore, since he died of natural causes, Jesus would not return physically but would return in the likeness that Ahmad represented. Ahmad's teachings continue to be followed by an estimated 10 to 20 million people to this day, though he's considered a false prophet by most Muslims.

John Hugh Smyth-Pigott 
The Agapemonites, also known as the Community of the Son of Man, was founded in 1846 by the Reverend Henry Prince, a former minister in the Church of England. Prince gained several interested followers which he narrowed down to primarily wealthy single women, and initiated what he called "spiritual marriage" (as opposed to a legal marriage, I guess). Prince believed himself to be the visible embodiment of the Holy Spirit. He lost a number of followers in 1856 after a ceremonial act of public sex in front of a large audience. Those who remained received titles such as the "Anointed Ones," the "Angels of the Last Trumpet," and the "Seven Witnesses." After he died in 1899, he was succeeded by John Hugh Smyth-Pigott who claimed to be Jesus Christ reincarnate. The claim apparently traveled from England all the way to India, where Mirza Ghulam Ahmad condemned Smyth-Pigott as a false teacher, and warned him that it would result in a miserable end. So one false Jesus said to another false Jesus, "You can't be Jesus, I am!" The last member of the Agapemonites died in 1956 and the cult came to an end, but not before having produced several illegitimate children.

Haile Selassie I
Though Selassie never claimed to be Jesus Christ, he had a group of followers who did. When Selassie became Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930, a group of worshipers in Jamaica hailed him as the second coming of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you've heard of them -- the Rastafarians. Selassie was born Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael, which is where Rastafari gets its name ("ras" means "head" in Amharic, and the name Tafari means one who is revered). But Selassie was not so on-board with the whole worshiping thing. He sent an archbishop to Jamaica telling them to convert to Ethiopian Orthodox. The parts of Rastafari that remain popular today are the smoking of pot and rejection of materialism and oppression. It gained widespread recognition thanks to reggae music and Bob Marley. But the whole thing started because they believed the Emperor of Ethiopia was the second-coming of Christ. True Rastafarians believe Selassie's death in 1975 was a hoax, and he still reigns on earth to this day.

Yes, Bob Marley believed Selassie was the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
James Warren Jones
Perhaps you know all about crack-pot Jim Jones and the mass murder-suicide of his cult in Jonestown, Guyana, killing 918 people by cyanide poisoning, the assassination of Congressman Leo Ryan, and Jim Jones himself with a gunshot wound to the head. What you might not know about Jones is that he claimed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ -- also the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten, Buddha, Vladimir Lenin, and African American spiritual leader Father Divine, who also had claimed to be God. It's from the Jonestown deaths that we get the phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid," when a person goes along with a false teacher or group that may have dangerous consequences. Until the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Jonestown was the largest loss of American civilian life by a single event. By the way, that happened in November, 1978, 38 years ago this month.

Ahn Sahng-Hong
A former Seventh-Day Adventist, the church excommunicated him in 1962 and twenty-three people followed him. Two years later, he founded the Witnesses of Jesus Church of God. After his death in 1985, the church split and formed the New Covenant Passover Church of God with both churches claiming Ahn as their founder. Ahn was among some of the end-times kooks who thought the beginning of the modern state of Israel was a sign of the end of the world, which he predicted would happen in 1988. He died before he saw his prophecy flop. The Witnesses of Jesus Church of God maintain that Ahn is the Second Coming of Christ (even though he's dead). Arguments persist between the Witnesses New Covenants as to what Ahn actually claimed and taught. His churches have been planted in over 150 countries with 2 million registered members.

Sun Myung Moon
A Korean religious leader and media mogul who founded the Unification Church, Moon told his members that he was the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ. His influence is pretty incredible. His international media conglomerate, News World Communications, runs newspapers in South Korea, Japan, South America, and North America, including the Washington Times. Moon invested $1.7 billion in the Times, which he said was an "instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world." In the 1970s, he gave a speech in Washington D.C. about "God's Hope for America," attended by 300,000 people. He has also spoken in New York City at Madison Square Garden and at Yankee Stadium. He had many political ties, including relationships with Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and both Bush's, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbechev, North Korean President Kim Il Sung, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. His book Divine Principle is considered Scripture by Unification Church adherents. Moon died in 2012 at the age of 92. His wife, Hak Ja Han, has assumed leadership in the church, and is believed to be a reincarnation of Eve.

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda
Born in Puerto Rico and based out of Miami, FL, Jose Miranda claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. He had millions of followers in several countries who sang songs to him and worshiped him as though he was Jesus. He would be introduced at church services as "king of kings and lord of lords." Eventually, he also claimed to be the antichrist, and his followers showed their support by getting tattoos of 666, the mark of the beast. Miranda said that 666 wasn’t the devil’s number, but is actually the number of wisdom and shows who is truly following Jesus Christ. He was interviewed by Bill Maher in his mocumentary Religulous, where Miranda claimed there's no more sin because he already died for our sins. NBC did an exposé on him, which you can view here. He died in 2013 of cirrhosis of the liver. His church maintains that he’s still Christ and has just become immortal. Even his own kids claim he is God.

Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop
In 1990, a then 29-year-old Russian man claimed to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. His followers called him Vissarion. He founded a church called the Church of the Last Testament, and a utopian community called Petropavlovka, where eating meat, drinking alcohol, smoking, and cursing is prohibited. The community still exists, located in remote Siberia where Vissarion also lives, and reportedly has a population of 800. But it is said that including the surrounding churches that worship Vissarion, he has about 50,000 followers. There's a YouTube video on this "Siberian Messiah" that has over 8 million views.

Apollo Quiboloy
Claiming to be the "Appointed Son of God," Apollo Quiboloy is the founder of a church in the Philippines called the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name, Inc. Like an American megachurch, he has turned this into an enterprise. He is the President and CEO of Sonshine Media Network International, he founded Sonshine Sports Management based in Davao City, and is attempting to infiltrate politics having anointed the next Philippian president in 2010. When the man he anointed failed to win the election, Quiboloy blamed his followers for not stepping up. According to Quiboloy, God has appointed him Son of God or the reincarnation of Jesus Christ to become the Savior of the Gentiles. He claims to be sinless, and that God has given him the authority to enforce the laws of the Kingdom throughout the world. It is estimated that he has over 6 million followers, most of whom are in the Philippines with 2 million abroad.

This is a false christ warning about other false christs.
(Dis) Honorable Mentions
  • William W. Davies, another from the Mormon camp, began the Kingdom of Heaven sect in Walla Walla, WA. Davies claimed he was the archangel Michael who previously lived the lives of Adam, Abraham, and David. When his son Arthur was born, February 11, 1868, Davies declared him the reincarnated Christ. He would become known as Walla Walla Jesus, and his followers increased. He had another son whom Davies said was the reincarnated God the Father. Both children died of diphtheria, and his followers sued him.
  • Marshall Applewhite, though not as notorious as Jim Jones, was also an American kook cult-leader who convinced his followers to commit murder-suicide. Applewhite was the founder of the Heaven's Gate cult back in the 90s, and called himself, "I, Jesus, Son of God." He convinced his followers to kill themselves so they could rendezvous with the mothership flying in the tail of the comet Hale-Bopp.
  • Wayne Bent, a former Seventh-Day Adventist pastor, founded Lord Our Righteousness Church, also called Strong City near Clayton, NM. Bent claimed, "I am the embodiment of God. I am divinity and humanity combined." He went to prison for allegedly having sex with a minor, but was released due to a mistrial. There have been numerous investigations into Bent's cult practices. His community still exists, and Bent is still writing stuff online. It was reported this year that he has cancer.
  • Mitsuo Matayoshi founded the World Econominic Community Party in Japan, a political party he started based on his claim that he is Jesus Christ. Within this claim, Matayoshi says that he will be the one judging all mankind at the end of the world according to the current political system.
  • Hogen Fukunaga, also from Japan, founded Ho No Sanpogyo, known as the Foot Reading Cult. Fukunaga attended a Clinton fundraising dinner in the 90s with Yogesh Gandhi, a distant relative of Mahatma Gandhi, and presented President Clinton with the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Award. Fukunaga claims he is the reincarnation of Christ and Buddha.
  • Inri Cristo from Brazil claims to be the second Jesus reincarnated. He has been on television and debated others regarding their own claims of reincarnation. He still gives lectures on college campuses and has a smattering of followers in several countries.
  • Alan John Miller is a former Jehovah's Witness elder who claims to be the second coming of Christ and started the Divine Truth movement in Australia. Also a prophet of the 2012 Mayinism phenomenon, he prophesied catastrophic waves would turn the land he owns, 150 miles from the coast, into beachfront property by 2013. His partner, Mary Suzanne Luck, is said to be the second-coming of Mary Magdalene.