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|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
A Book Review by Samuel Joseph
Doctrines of the Third Wave
In their penultimate chapter, the authors examine the major doctrinal errors propounded by Bill Johnson in his books. These comprise the following false teachings: (1) Jesus was just a man, and since He could do miracles, so can all Christians; (2) Sickness is to be blamed on a lack of faith; (3) Christ will return after man has “fixed” the earth; (4) Christians must be willing to follow the Holy Spirit beyond the “map” of Scripture; and (5) Truth is to be determined by experience.
For each of the above, the authors provide a helpful analysis with a biblical refutation of these manifestly false doctrines; showing that in some cases, these doctrines are not actually new, only old heresies resurfacing in new guises. This is a valuable chapter, and also a sobering one: drawing attention both to the conspicuousness of the deception, and the obliviousness of the deceived.
Hinn and Wood end their book appropriately with a chapter dealing with the “true healing” that Christians ought to expect. Out of compassion for the millions of “spiritually sick” individuals ensnared in the NAR’s web of deception, the authors offer a brief summary of the truth about the Spirit, about salvation, and about Scripture. Rounding off the book are a series of appendices: these include a series of testimonies (refreshingly, no names have been changed); a list of common questions and answers; and sections critiquing tongue-speaking, being slain in the Spirit, and cases of apparently genuine healing.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Perhaps the most immediately striking feature of the book is the name of its first author. In Christian circles, “Hinn” is an appellation that provokes immediate recognition. Costi Hinn’s connection to the internationally-renowned Benny Hinn leads the prospective reader instinctively to assume that inside information will be presented concerning the backstage dealings and deceptive practices underlying a “signs and wonders” ministry like Benny Hinn’s.
Yet this is precisely what the authors of Defining Deception have deliberately worked to avoid. They have avowedly shunned the use of inside information in the form of “unsubstantiated stories,” choosing instead to stick to what is documented and publicly available: a decision which this reviewer finds at once commendable and frustrating. The caution against descending into the kind of sensational expose, commonly found in tabloids is commendable; the resultant lack of impact is frustrating. It is entirely understandable that the authors wish to avoid inviting accusations of “trading on the family name,” not to mention hindering any attempts to reach out to and potentially rescue family members still snared in falsehood. Still, one cannot help feeling that amidst a slew of “outsider” critiques of the Third Wave phenomenon, the voice of an “insider” ‒ speaking as an insider ‒ could be uniquely potent in jolting awake the millions now gripped by deception.
At the same time, the single major weakness of the book is its failure to provide much in the way of thorough, biblical analysis and critique of the Third Wave movement and its practices. The historical overview of the movement is useful; the brief critique of its major false doctrines is valuable; but the overall effectiveness of the book is marred by a general lack of clarity and precision. One phrase that comes up often in the book is “biblical illiteracy” ‒ this is the major reason given by the authors to explain the perpetuation and persistence of false teaching among so many millions of people. In light of this it is reasonable to conclude that the appropriate remedy ought to be a healthy dose of sound biblical instruction: clearly defined and comprehensively delivered.
This reviewer would nonetheless heartily commend Hinn and Wood for their sincere and well-intentioned effort in writing their book; and would without hesitation recommend the book to all Christians. There is certainly merit in these pages! Surely all who hold to the truth of the gospel and the objective authority of the Bible would join in the prayer that God will use such an effort as this to open the eyes of many currently in the grip of deception. But in terms of actually defining this deception, and robustly countering it with biblical truth, there is more that needs to be said.
THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH AND THE SPIRIT OF ERROR
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” As the Apostle John warns of false spirits and false prophets, more so does our Lord the same, yea, even false Christs “shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24). Peter adds with “false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies” (2 Peter 2:1), while Paul rounds up the list with false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13), false brethren (2 Cor 11:26) and false witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:15).
Furthermore, our Lord likens these agents of falsehood in the parable of the Good Shepherd to thieves and robbers, strangers, hirelings and wolves. But His sheep will not follow them. The sheep with keen discernment between the master’s voice and the voice of a stranger will keep out of harm’s way. Conversely, the Apostle John concludes, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6). Hereby is the test: if you say, “Amen,” to the preaching of the Truth, you have the Spirit of Truth. If you reject the preaching of the Truth, you have the Spirit of Error!
The Spirit of Error
Now, Jesus says He is the Truth (John 14:6). If anyone attacks His Person, like the Docetists in John’s day denying His humanity (1 John 4:3), he is the tool of the Spirit of Error. When Arius, forerunner of today’s Jehovah’s Witnesses, in the fourth century denied the full Deity of Christ, he was also used by the Spirit of Error. Throughout the long centuries, the Spirit of Error has made the salvation of a man’s soul not by the sole grace of God, but by the complicated system of works by Mary, martyrs and saints, etc, etc. Of more recent history there have arisen the modernists and liberals who reject His infallible, inerrant Word, with the latest so-called Neo-Evangelical scholarship that hypocritically speaks of a “limited inerrancy.” It is the Spirit of Error that counters the inerrancy of the Bible, yea, even the living Word who is Jesus Christ. But we believe the Word to be infallible and inerrant to the jot and tittle, and hereby reaffirm our faith on this doctrine of doctrines.
The Spirit of Truth
While Jesus is the Truth, the Spirit of Truth is Another Comforter whom the Lord, before His departure, promised to send to His Church (John 14:16). The Spirit of Truth is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28:19). He proceeds from the Father (John 15:26).
He manifested Himself in power at Pentecost by giving utterance in many languages to the Apostles in order to expedite the Great Commission of the ascended Lord (Acts 2). He is sent to indwell believers and to teach and guide the Church into all truth (John 14:17; 16:13). The mark of the Spirit of Truth is that He will not speak of Himself, but rather testify of the Son. He shall glorify the Son, for He shall receive of the Son and show it to us (John 16:13, 14). The Holy Spirit, being holy, “will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit is not a frivolous Spirit intoxicating the Church with hysterical laughter or with barking like dogs or roaring like lions.
The Holy Spirit does not receive our prayers as the Father and the Son. His function rather is to make “intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27). As He is sent from the Father by the Son (John 15:26), He is also called the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). He is Comforter or Counsellor indeed, and no Jester. [Source: Timothy Tow, Wang Ming Tao & Charismatism (Singapore: Christian Life Publishers, 1989), 105–7.]
Charismatism Q&A published by Far Eastern Bible College Press in 1998 is going into its 3rd printing.
“Dr Khoo has brought the subject under closest examination … by a meticulous, exegetical study of the relevant Scripture passages. An unbiased student … cannot help but come to the same conclusion as the author.” (Rev Dr Timothy Tow, Founding Principal, Far Eastern Bible College.)
“Helpful to any who have an open mind on the subject. … a fine piece of work.” (Dr Homer A Kent, President Emeritus, Grace Theological Seminary.)
“This book should be of great help to people around the world seeking guidance on this subject. It is strong and plain, yet written with care, concern, and compassion.” (Dr Gary G Cohen, Professor of Biblical Studies, Trinity International University.)
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