(Below, we will be evaluating one thing, and one thing only. And that is, the recent Kenneth Copeland video clip in which he appears to be telling his audience to speak to their bald spots, and command them to grow hair. To ensure the integrity of the evaluation process, I will not be conflating this with anything prior that Mr. Copeland has said or done.)
I understand there is going to be a level of culture shock to seeing this video clip. But that doesn’t tell us whether it’s valid or not.
So, knee-jerk reactions aren’t going to help, here.
We have to think harder and clearer.
Ask questions like, “if something seems odd, does that make it bad or untrue?”
Of course not.
In fact, it will help with perspective to remember that, as Christians, we believe in all kinds of things that—-and there are no two ways about it——will seem odd, fantastical, and downright ridiculous to the average person. Whether it’s talking snakes, floating hammers, she-bears mauling kids, or cursed fig trees—-there’s a lot to choose from that the natural man will laugh at us for.
So the level of bizarre isn’t going to tell us if something is legitimate or illegitimate.
The Bible is our standard for that. And as far as I’m aware, the Bible doesn’t tell us that commanding a bald head to grow hair, is wrong. Nor does it tell us it’s right. So it isn’t verifiable, one way or the other. It isn’t falsifiable. Now, we could draw a conclusion from silence and say that it’s okay because it isn’t spoken against in the Bible. But we could just as easily draw the opposite conclusion and say it isn’t okay because it isn’t promoted in the Bible. People who make arguments from silence are free to do so, but these claims are also not verifiable in Scripture. The Bible does not tell us anywhere what should be implied from its silence on any given topic.
So, since we can’t arrive at a conclusion of legitimacy based on how weird it seems, nor based on what the Bible says, that leaves us with the category of, “personal conviction.” You just gotta use wisdom and stay open to hearing whatever the Spirit of God leads you into.
Even after two thousand years of attempting to adjust to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the Church still finds the literal life and ministry of Jesus Christ too extreme to follow (or even teach).
Initially, none sound too radical—so long as they stay on the pages of the Bible (you know . . . where they belong). But strip your mind of the fairy tale-type mentalities that surround them. Imagine these literally happening today—-in your church on a Sunday morning. What I think you will realize is that when we remove centuries of caked on commentary, and religious jargon, it quickly becomes apparent that there is little place for the Jesus of the Gospels in our churches. In many ways, He was and is everything the modern Christian disdains.
Don’t believe me?
Have a look 🙂
1. He both taught, and demonstrated speaking to inanimate objects to make them obey you (Matt 21:20-21).
Theologians can explain it away all day (and they do). If there were any doubt about what Jesus was referring to when He told His disciples to talk to mountains, the preceeding verses remove it. When read in context, we see Jesus had just spoken to a real tree, and says “not only will you be able to do what was done to the tree but if you say to this mountain . . . ”
2. He taught 100% success in prayer (Matt 7:7, Matt 21:22, John 16:24).
This was before the days of, “sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no, sometimes He says wait a while.”
The idea of not receiving what you ask in prayer is completely foreign to the life and teachings of Jesus.
He also rejected weird religious idioms that still surround the concepts of prayer today. Such as the genie mentality that claims if you ask God for something, you can never truly be sure what to expect (Matt 7:8-11). He may give it to you . . .
. . . Or He may decide to kill you instead.
And if you think that is an exaggeration of what many mainstream churches are teaching—–I truly wish it were!
3. He made, “cruel and heartless” statements in times of tragedy that connected sin to physical calamity (Luke 13:4-5).
Jesus uses a recent accident in which 18 people were killed by a falling tower, and warned that unless there was repentance, more would perish. Young’s Literal Translation says they would perish in like manner. He also told a man who had been crippled for 38 years to stop sinning otherwise a worse thing would happen to him.
4. He scolded His disciples for not being able to perform a miracle (Matt 17:15-20)
A man’s son is suffering from seizures. The disciples try, but are unable to help him. Upon seeing this, Jesus could have said something like, “It’s okay guys, you’re only human. I shouldn’t expect so much from you. The reason it didn’t work was because it was all part of God’s sovereign plan. He has decided to use the suffering of this child for His glory.“—Let’s be honest—- if it were 21st century jesus, that’s what it would have sounded like.
Instead of such comforting strokes that we so often hear in times of hopelessness and unanswered prayers, Jesus straight-up rebukes His followers. “You perverse and twisted generation! How long do I have to put up with you!?” (punctuation added).
5. He said the devil was behind disability (Lk 13:11-16, Mk 9:25).
In a world where God and Satan have apparently switched jobs (now a days God is blamed for sickness and disease) man, oh man would Christians get their panties in a bunch over such a claim. And it wouldn’t even need to happen on multiple occasions. Just once and someone would catch it on video or audio, and it would be thrown onto YouTube where it would then be devoured by ravenous Christians who confess to believe in the supernatural, so long as nobody actually takes it seriously.
6. He emphasized faith for miracles (Mark 11:23-24).
And no, it was not some general faith in God as sovereign, or that it’s, “all in His hands.”
No. It was purposeful, specific faith in the desired outcome. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus very seldom (and one could argue—never) spoke about faith in God when it came to answered prayers. (We discussed this lie in a recent article.)
On another occasion He even said to a person, “your faith has healed you.”
“Blasphemy! Faith doesn’t heal anyone. God does!”
7. Most of His teachings on prayer were centered around how to get things (Mark 11:24 John 16:24)
He didn’t talk about how we are supposed to spend hours, “listening” for God’s voice in prayer (although I think we should). And He didn’t talk about how we should spend more time just thanking God in prayer (although I think we should.)
Now a days, all of us are trying to downplay asking God for things. Always coming up for reasons why prayers aren’t answered. How He isn’t a, “Cosmic Bellhop” etc etc. . . And yet—–When we actually read the accounts, we seethat time and time again, Jesus is teaching us how to get what we need, and even what we desire by prayer. And He does it unabashedly and with great frankness.
Without fail, whenever I bring up this subject, I’m sent a plethora of links to articles and videos that are all missing one thing:
A clear rule of biblical criteria for identifying at what point the Gospel or Jesus become, “different” and thus damnable.
Seriously guys, if we are going to start a crusade in which we’re making these types of accusations toward others, then it’s imperative that we have Scripture to back us up.
Now, I understand people can take a Bible verse, slap on some commentary, and tell you what it, “really means.” I get that. I really do. And that sort of thing can make for a great discussion. But when we’re dealing in serious issues where we’re charging people with potentially damnable things, you gotta have more. Folks need to be able to read it in their Bibles for themselves—-without your help as an interpreter.
Because we have to be sure. There’s a lot at stake here . . .Especially if we’re wrong.
. . . And maybe even our own salvation.
We have a command to be ever willing to believe the best of every person (1Cor 13 AMP). Sometimes it seems like we practice that passage in reverse, doesn’t it? We’re ever willing to believe and suspect the worst of every person. If you define hate as the opposite of love, then what are we doing when we jump at the opportunity to believe the worst about those with whom we disagree? John said anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and has no eternal life in him—So while we’ve been so quick to bring every one else’ salvation into question . . . Maybe it’s time we were a bit more concerned for our own.
. . . Moving on
So I’m putting forth a challenge to all those who are actively involved in this popular practice of accusing folks of preaching a different Jesus/Gospel:
I don’t say that in arrogance. I’m saying it out of obedience to 1 Thessalonians 5 which commands us to test and prove all things.
Quote the statement under investigation and show where in the Bible it’s referred to as another gospel or a different jesus.
Notice I said to quotethe statement as opposed to naming the doctrine. Why? Because unfortunately folks often hear something, rearrange it, then run off saying So and So is teaching X, Y, and Z. We’re not interested in that. Let’s play fair here and deal with the actual quote and not your interpretation of it.
Now . . . Here’s what I suspect. And I say, suspect, because I could be wrong. But so far it seems that the Bible really does not give a measurable criteria in this area. How could it? If I remember correctly, a different Jesus and another Gospel are terms that only occur once in the Bible. The word, heresy maybe a couple more.
And whenever the Bible is not very specific on a subject—Look out! Because folks just can’t leave it alone. So you’ll often see quite a bit of shoehorning going on in order to arrive at conclusions.
That’s right, I said shoehorning— yeah, it’s a word. I looked it up.
Many will ask, “Are you saying there is no way to prove false or unbiblical doctrines with the Bible?” Of course there is. You can clearly demonstrate erroneous doctrines using the Bible.
All day long.
But critics don’t seem content with this. They have to push it to another level. It can’t be just an erroneous teaching. It must fall under the category of a different gospel or another jesus thus allowing for a more direct personal attack with terms like, “heretic” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Look, we feel strongly about this. I get that. It can be a very emotional subject. But if we are going to insist on using such loaded language, let’s also insist that clear biblical criteria be shown.
And in the event it cannot be . . .
Then we need to serve ourselves up a nice big slice of Humble Pie and repent of this sinful, destructive practice.