Monday, February 19, 2018

Finger of God: a Review of Darren Wilson's Documentary

Dear Pastor Hughes

I would like to ask you a few questions regarding this film [Finger of God]. I read your blog, but I cannot find any new information. The Church I attend is planning to show this film. Would you recommend we do? If not, why?. Any updated information will help me.

Thanks, Mario

Thank you for your e-mail, Mario. In short, no, I would not recommend that your church show this film. The creator of Finger of God, Darren Wilson, is the same creative mind behind Holy Ghost, a documentary film I reviewed here. Holy Ghost is a charismatic propaganda film completely devoid of biblically orthodox Christianity. Before Holy Ghost, he made Finger of God, and it's just as absurd.

Finger of God begins attempting to qualify some of the more ridiculous "miracles" said to be happening in charismaticism: gold dust falling on worshipers and preachers, perfect and pure gems appearing out of no where, Bibles spontaneously filled with manna (yes, the bread from heaven that fed Israel in the wilderness), and people receiving gold teeth. Wilson even interviews his aunt and uncle who claim God gave them gold teeth during church. Because it happened to someone he knows, it must be true!

None of these tricks have ever been verified as miraculous. In fact, undercover reporters have exposed them as lies. The cut gemstones supposedly showing up at these meetings have even been tested, and they're nothing but worthless cubic zirconia. The gold dust has likewise been examined and revealed to be gold glitter that you can buy in the craft section at Walmart.

The teachers doing these things are deliberately lying to people. But people want them to be true, so they allow themselves to be duped by such obvious gags. Either Darren Wilson is in on these tricks, or he wants so much to believe that the con is real, he forgets his role as an investigative documentarian.

Regarding the whole gag with the gem stones, Wilson says they're not cubic zirconia, but he doesn't take them to a jeweler to confirm that for his viewing audience. Wouldn't it be pretty incredible to get an expert on camera saying, "I've never seen a gem so pure"? No, we just have to take Wilson's word for it that these fake-looking gems (seriously, they don't even look real) are perfect and other-worldly.

The False Gospel of Fake Healing

If you're asking yourself, "Wait, where in the Bible does it say that God will make gems appear or He'll cover people in gold dust or He will turn their teeth into gold?" then you're asking the right questions. The Bible doesn't say that anywhere. In fact, I have to wonder why God would fill a person's tooth with gold rather than giving them a brand new tooth. That would be an actual miraculous healing.

Finger of God is mostly a bunch of stories from people who claimed to do miracles, but none of those stories are ever verified. It's the same nonsense I detailed in my review of Holy Ghost -- laying hands on people in public, and those people claim they feel something, but that's it. That's not miraculous. Every single "miracle" in the documentary can easily be dismissed as either a con, an unsubstantiated anecdote, or the power of suggestion.

I remember laughing at the footage of a guy on crutches being "healed" of his sprained knee. A faith-healer walked up to him, prayed twice that his knee would be healed, and then told him to take his crutches away. The guy started limping down the sidewalk, saying, "I feel better!" Limping. Exactly the kind of gait you'd expect from someone with a sprained knee. The faith-healer probably hindered the guy's healing by telling him to stop using his crutches.

Just like Holy Ghost, Finger of God feels like a promotional film for Bill Johnson and Bethel Church. Johnson is a false teacher who claims that when Jesus was on earth, He was not God. Jesus was entirely human, and He modeled the perfection that any one of us are capable of achieving, Johnson says. That same false teaching is shared in Finger of God. But the gospel message about Jesus being the atoning sacrifice for our sins is never shared.

In the documentary, Johnson shares a story of Heidi Baker (who might be crazy) healing someone in Mozambique, and an entire village believed the gospel. Wilson goes to Africa and films her doing this, but we never see her preaching the gospel. How can someone believe in what they aren't told? The fact is, Johnson and Baker don't preach the gospel. To them the gospel is believing in miraculous signs and wonders. All you have to do is a "miracle" and people will believe in miracles, which is the gospel. No, it's not.

The True Gospel of Spiritual Healing

Miracles, as they were performed in the Bible, affirmed that the word preached by one of God's messengers was truly from the Lord. A miracle by itself is nothing. The word of God is everything. The Apostle Peter said, "And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19-21). God's word, the Bible, has been spoken and verified. People hear it preached, they are convicted of sin, and they believe in Jesus. We no longer need miraculous signs to verify it.

Christian words like "gospel" and "miracles" in the name of "Jesus" appear in Darren Wilson's film. But it's a different gospel, different miracles, and a different Jesus. Even if one of the charismatics in this film did a true miracle -- like if I gave Heidi Baker the benefit of the doubt and she actually did restore hearing to a deaf person -- they don't preach the true gospel. Indeed, Jesus Himself warned that some will perform false signs in His name, but He either didn't know them (Matthew 7:21-23), or they did such signs to lead people away from the truth (Matthew 24:24-25).

The true gospel is this: "God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:5). That's the story of every follower of Jesus -- we were dead in our sins, but we've been raised to life by the One who raises the dead. We've been transferred from the kingdom of darkness that is under the wrath of God to the kingdom of light that is filled with His never-ending love.

That is the most incredible life-saving miracle anyone could ever experience. By faith in Jesus, His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave, you were made from dead to alive. Your life has been transformed from following the prince of the power of the air to serving the King of kings and Lord of lords! You no longer chase after sinful passions of the flesh, but you pursue His righteousness of His Spirit. That is the miraculous power of God.

But that's not the miracle Darren Wilson and company cares about. He likes parlor tricks and silly stories, not the truth of the gospel of Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, regenerates the hardened heart to believe, and permanently seals believers for the Day of Redemption. Wilson thinks the Holy Spirit is manifested in Walmart glitter.

Better Alternatives

Rather than Finger of God, perhaps you could encourage your church to go through Clouds Without Water II by Justin Peters. Talk to someone in your church, and if they're interested in doing it, I will personally buy you a copy and send it to you. Also, consider any number of sermon series online. G3 will soon be adding all the sermons from this year's conference free (all of the sermons from previous conferences are already there).

I would also encourage you to check out the new book Defining Deception by Costi Hinn and Anthony Wood. The book exposes many of the lies that have come out of Bethel Church, a center of attraction in Darren Wilson's documentaries. Thank you for your question, Mario. And I hope I've been able to provide you with a helpful response.

The whole collection of Darren Wilson films is to be avoided.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Jesus Is Not Your Flu Shot; He is Your God

Surely by now you've heard about Gloria Copeland's Jesus-is-your-flu-shot video. Gloria, wife of famed televangelist Kenneth Copeland, made international headlines last week after she posted a video on Facebook saying that you don't need to get the flu shot because Jesus is your flu shot. All you have to do is say you won't get the flu, and you won't get it. The video began:
"Well, listen, partners, we don't have a flu season. We've got a duck season, a deer season, but we don't have a flu season. And don't you receive it when someone threatens you with, 'Everybody's getting the flu!' We've already had our shot. He [Jesus] bore our sicknesses and carried our diseases... Jesus himself gave us the flu shot... Just keep saying that I'll never have the flu. I'll never have the flu."
This name-it-and-claim-it garbage doctrine deserves to be ridiculed, and it has been made fun of by  newspapers to talk shows. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel grabbed the video and made a mockery of it on his late-night program. As Todd Friel pointed out, even Kimmel knows Gloria is a hack!

What Gloria Did and Did Not Say

With all the derision Gloria's video has rightfully received, Kenneth Copeland Ministries responded yesterday with an article posted through Charisma News intended to explain Gloria's comments. "Let's clear a few things up about Gloria's talk about the flu," they said. "Gloria did not say or imply that you shouldn't get a flu shot or see a doctor."

Oh, yes, she did. Even Charisma Magazine (which, by the way, is the same as Charisma News) acknowledged what everyone else heard. In an article titled Gloria Copeland: Skip the Flu Shot and Inoculate Yourself With God's Word, Taylor Berglund wrote, "Gloria Copeland said that flu shots were unnecessary because Jesus provides total protection in a recent Facebook video."

In the same article, Berglund pointed out, "In 2013, the Copelands' church was the site of a measels outbreak, in which 21 people became sick, apparently due to lack of vaccination. One church member told the Associated Press, 'To get a vaccine would have been viewed by me and my friends and my peers as an act of fear--that you doubted God would keep you save... We simply didn't do it.'"

The rotten fruit of the Copelands' rotten teaching is on full display in their rotten church. Everyone in their congregation knows what the Copelands teach -- the reason why they are there is because that's what they want to hear! And anyone who follows such teaching does so at their own peril. Somehow their church is still full.

The rest of the Copelands' article in Charisma News contained more lies to cover up the previous lies. They said, "Gloria did not say that if you had contracted the flu, you were a bad Christian who did not have enough faith or who did not pray enough."

Anyone who has a modicum of familiarity with health-and-wealth prosperity teachers knows they say this all the time: if you're sick, it's because you didn't have enough faith. You didn't pray hard enough. You didn't believe hard enough. You didn't name it and claim it enough. It's not the teacher's fault you're not healed; it's your fault you're not healed.

It's true Gloria said a prayer for those who already had a flu (spoiler alert: she didn't "bind up" anyone's flu with her prayer). But for those who did not have the flu, she clearly told them that they could prevent the flu by inoculating themselves with the power of positive words.

The article went on, "Gloria did not say that by simply speaking words, you will not get the flu." Well, it's evident to everyone she did say that. That's why she's getting made fun of. On my podcast today, I played a clip of Gloria saying that you don't ever have to be sick again if you just say you'll never be sick again.

But I don't even have to provide a clip of Gloria saying such a thing because Kenneth Copeland Ministries contradicted themselves in the very next sentence of their article! Here it is in context so you can see the contradiction:
"Gloria did not say that by simply speaking words, you will not get the flu. Instead, she demonstrated how to resist the flu by expressing out loud what the Word of God says about your healing."
That is hilariously stupid. I'm over here on my side of the computer laughing at how absurd that is. Once again, "Gloria did not say that by simply speaking words, you will not get the flu." Rather, "she demonstrated how to resist the flu by expressing out loud..." In other words, she said you can prevent the flu by speaking words!

This is what the Bible calls a seared conscience. They lie to cover their lie and they do not see the contradiction and feel no shame about it. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared" (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

What God Did and Did Not Say

Jesus is not your flu shot. He's not your health-and-wealth prosperity doctor. He is your God. He will inflict fiery judgment on those who do not know God and did not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, and He will show unending love and mercy for His saints and to be marveled at among all who have believed (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

Who are His saints? How does He show this mercy? His plan of redemption is much more glorious than inoculating us from the flu. In love, He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins and rise again from the grave. All who believe in Jesus will be forgiven their sins and will not be destroyed in eternal punishment. They will be clothed in His righteousness and receive eternal life. These are His saints, those who are being made holy by God.

But even His saints get sick, since we are not yet made perfect. We have not yet taken off the imperishable and put on the imperishable. We still live in this fallen world, subjected to futility by Him who subjected it (Romans 8:20). Should you pray for healing? Absolutely. If it is God's will to heal you, He will. A faith-healer won't heal you because there's no such thing. God will heal you. You're still going to die.

Even the people Jesus healed during His earthly ministry got sick again and died, did they not? Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but Lazarus still died eventually. Jesus said it would be so. He told Lazarus' sister, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die" (John 11:25-26).

Your body is deteriorating. You will get sick. You will die. No amount of positive thinking is going to change that. God cursed this world because of our rebellion against Him. Sickness and death exist because of our sin. Not Ken nor Gloria nor you nor anyone else cannot straighten what God has made crooked (Ecclesiastes 7:13).

But when your body dies, if you believed in Jesus and followed Him in life, your soul won't perish. You will live forever in the presence of your holy, righteous, glorious Creator in His dwelling-place where there will be no more sin, sickness, or death. He has promised He will do this. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).

How do you get such a wonderful reward? By faith. In that sense, you will be healed by faith! But you are not guaranteed healing in this lifetime. You are guaranteed that your lowly body will be made to be like His glorious body by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself (Philippians 3:21). Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

Believe in What God Says, Not What the Copelands Say

You will never hear that gospel in the Copelands' prosperity nonsense. When Gloria says, "By His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5), she doesn't take that mean by Christ's shed blood on the cross we are cleansed from the sickness of sin and death infecting mind, soul, and body. She takes that mean Jesus is your vending machine and He will give you whatever you want. As she said in this sermon:
"It could be healing, it could be physical things, a car, a house, a perfect mate... I have to say to the problem, to the mountain, to the lack, to the situation, to the sickness -- I have to say these words: 'Be removed from me, and be cast into the sea.'"
Whatever you want, you just have to say it and you'll have it. That's what Ken and Gloria Copeland preach. That's what they've always preached. That's what she said in her Jesus-is-your-flu-shot video, and that's what she's always said. She lies about the Bible, and then she lies about what she lied about the Bible. Lies upon lies. She has the seared conscience of insincere liars.

The only people who benefit from the prosperity gospel are the prosperity preachers. She gets filthy stinking rich off her Jesus-is-your-flu-shot nonsense, but you only get filthy stinking lies. Gloria knows you won't actually get the healing she promises. How do I know she knows that? Because in the sermon I just referenced, she preached with glasses on.

Never trust a faith-healer with glasses.