I received an interesting email which brings up a topic I’ve been wanting to write on: What do we do when Christians label teaching material we like or find value in as “from a cult” and reject it as “deception” and, maybe, us as “heretics,” along with it? Does avoiding anything labeled a cult actually work to keep us from “deception” and “heresy?” Who decides which ministries are cults, which teachings are heretical and which are not, anyway? Let’s consider this important and common bogeyman of Christian culture.
I received the following question:
This is an off topic question, but do you feel it’s harmful for a believer to watch such movies as The Shack? Of course, all entertainment that we view should be weighed … but this seems to be the topic of discussion in my neck of the woods. Just like hearing your perspective.
The Shack novel was controversial in Christianity so it’s no surprise that the belated appearance of the movie adaptation has resurrected the same controversy. The Christian concern is that The Shack is “heretical,” containing non-Christian, unbiblical teaching—often in disregard to what the book actually says. The claim is that these are harmful to the believer. This naturally leaves some uncertain or scared to even touch the book. Could it put your salvation in “danger?”
An Interesting Reader Question
I received the following email from a customer of my book. His question brings up a insight I got a while back that I’ve never written on before.
The last few months have really been bothering me! I can’t stop thinking about “forsake it all.” What does forsake it all really mean? I have listen to a gentleman in Australia who has been making YouTube videos, “a voice in the desert.” This guy is really convincing! Have you heard of him? He is teaching to be Jesus’ real disciple, you must forsake it all. Stop working, making money and live in an RV or homeless. I have went as far as I have sold all my retirement and I am getting ready to forsake it all. I still have doubts. Could you shine some light on this?
(Poor guy, I hope “sold all my retirement” is not as bad as it sounds.)
I received the following question from a reader:
Tim, this really has nothing to do with end time but do you consider Paul the first false apostle? Or is it just another fear tactic by the enemy to even consider it?
It’s about time I answered this question with a post since I’ve been answering it for years by email.
After many emails I finally gave my thoughts on the Flat Earth theory. Here’s my article from my main site.
A question came up when I taught on Bible prophecy at a local church recently. I was speaking to the youth group – the teens – and one outspoken goth-styled girl was surprisingly confrontational with me.
I had been giving an overview of what end time events are ahead before the rapture. To avoid leaving them with any unnecessary anxiety, I made it a point to finish the talk by reassuring my young audience that all signs – or the lack of any of the real ones given by Jesus – point to Jesus not coming back any year soon. This meant time for teenagers like them to finish their education, get married and start a family.
In the Q&A session afterwards, this girl tore into me saying, “you can’t say that because no man knows the day or hour. You’re saying you know the day or hour!” It’s an objection I have heard countless times, but never in person nor so boldly. Her demeanor surprised me because this was my first time speaking there and the rest of the church youth were more shy and respectful.
Keeping my cool, I did my best to defuse the situation by smiling and calmly explaining a few points to back up my statement. I shared basic facts from prophecy that made my statement possible without knowing the time Jesus would come exactly–something I indeed do not claim to know.
So, what exactly did I point out to her? Read on to find out and understand what we can know about timing today and why faithful believers won’t stay in the dark about when Jesus is coming forever…
1500 Year Old Bible Says Jesus Was Not Crucified
If you want a provocative headline that inspires worry in Christians, then that news headline will do it. Since that news came out, I’ve had several readers ask for my opinion. What I have told them is the following:
From what I understand it is the Gospel of Barnabas in that Bible from that the claim that Jesus Christ was crucified is based on. I came across this comment on that, “The Gospel of Barnabas is well known â€“ the 1st copies date from the 12th to 14th Centuries, and itâ€™s a forgery. As Mr. Gold points out, the script pictured above is Arabic, placing it towards the 14th Century ( those from the 12th are written in Spanish).”
In other words, just because a Bible version includes an extra book does not mean that book is Scripture or even authored by who it is claimed to. I have not found a single pseudepigraphical book yet (including Barnabas) that belongs in the Bible as Scripture with the rest of the books.
If you search there are many articles explaining why this Bible is nothing that should shake your faith. For example:
Hope this helps.
Here we are now past the first of the four 2014-2015 blood moon lunar eclipses that John Hagee and Mark Biltz have been promoting so much. Many wonder if “something” happened like was expected. Some blood moon proponents answer that Ukraine’s invasion and the persecution of the Jews there could be what the blood moons were warning about.
Yet doesn’t something always happen somewhere in the world, without any blood moons to accompany them? More specifically, Jesus predicted “wars and rumors of wars” (Mt 24:6) would continue until his coming. The Old Testament prophets predicted antisemitism for Israel after their exile (Dt 28:37; Jr 24:9; 44:8).
Are we really supposed to believe that the wars and antisemitism which happen all the time on their own are related to eclipses in the sky which also happen naturally on their own. Or that Ukraine would not have been invaded had the 2014-15 tetrad not been there to witness it?
When it’s put that way, doesn’t the tetrad theory seem kind of arbitrary and forced?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to tell you God does not use heavenly signs. He has (Star of Bethlehem) and he can again. However, the biblical pattern of how God communicates warnings to the general public shows God consistently using something less technical and esoteric then lights in the sky.
Someone asked me a very common question for December:
Should we celebrate Christmas? Since it had pagan beginnings?
Here is my answer:
Bible Does Not Prohibit Celebrating Days – Only Judging About It
Like most everything in life (minus five prohibitions Jesus listed as salvation requirements) (Mt 19:17-19), Christmas is a matter of personal choice, not of sin or of right and wrong. That something came from pagans simply does not make it sin or wrong. It’s a good thing, too, since most everything in life was devised by heathens, not by servants of God (who are in the minority always). You’d have to live in a cave and be all knowing of everything’s origin if God really expected us to concern ourselves with avoiding all pagan-influenced things. (And by the way, how would you know for sure this is God’s will, anyway, since it’s a minority fringe opinion that we must maintain such a standard of purity?)
When you investigate the Bible to find God’s will, there is nothing in the NT about believers needing to quit celebrating holidays. In Jesus’ and Paul’s day under Roman occupation, there were many such pagan festivals celebrated around them. And although they talk a lot about many actual sins going on and to be repented of, not a word is mentioned on holidays except when Paul talks about those who judge each other about such things (Rom 14:4-5; Col 2:16). Instead the focus is always on actual sins…like judging.
In other words, while Christmas-keeping is not in any way clearly defined as wrong in the Bible, judging others over keeping it is!
Objection: “Israel Was Told Not To Copy Pagan Worship – Like Christmas”
Some argue that in the OT ancient Israel was told to not worship idols or even to worship God the way other nations worshiped their gods (Dt 12:30-31). However, this was a higher standard based on revelation given only to ancient Israel on how to worship him (Dt 12:32), which was a condition for them staying in the Promised Land. When they forgot about God and sought after other idols that the heathen nations around them served continually, they were evicted from the land. Believers today are not under Moses or any other prophet telling them how to serve God. They do the best they can on their own. Therefore, keeping any holiday or even Christmas to worship Jesus is not a violation of anything believers have been told.
When the Millennium comes and Jesus and the saints rule so that the word of God covers the earth, then there will be instructions on worship and the accountability to follow them. We can see this in the clear penalties that are carried out against those who disobey (Zech 14:18).
As for today not under the government of God, there’s no prohibition about celebrating Christmas. It’s up to you and your own conscience whether you do or not.
Walid Shoebat’s Prophecy Teachings
Frequently, visitors to my site ask my opinion of other prophecy teachers, their predictions, interpretations and prophecy theories. This is often a tricky proposition because my answer can easily be perceived as attacking another man or his ministry even though I have no malice for other teachers, whatever they may teach or believe. The way I see it, we’re all sincerely teaching what we know to be true although without a doubt we are all in error on many points. The problem is that we don’t know which points are wrong until later (or we would not be teaching them).
Thus, I have nothing against Walid Shoebat as a person or teacher. I wish him and his ministry well. However, in response to questions about his teachings and claims I would say, the ones I have looked at I have not found to hold up to careful scrutiny including the Berean test (Acts 17:11).
As such, I have been disappointed with his teachings, such as the idea of the Antichrist being Muslim. For one example of the proof he gives for that claim and how it does not stands up to inspection, see this article: http://barthsnotes.com/2009/07/06/is…aim-revisited/
Charity and Terrorism Expert Claims
Regarding his claims to being an ex-terrorist and expert on Islam terrorism, CNN did a investigative report on him and his charity but could not find any evidence to back up the claims:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04yWUuoU7Lc
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItxpU7ll2SE
In the end, whether CNN’s report is accurate or a smear, for me on prophecy he’s just another teacher who seems to mean well but ends up telling people to watch and wait for the wrong things. Islam’s influence today is scary to many believers, but that does not mean it will have a large end time role. Islam has been taking peace from the earth since inception just as the red horseman spirit was to inspire on the earth (Rev 6:3-4). Beyond that I find no end time role for Islam, including no verse requiring the Antichrist be a muslim.
In conclusion, feel free to listen to Walid Shoebat and to test what he says for yourself. I’m not telling anyone to avoid him as to avoid considering any teaching is a missed opportunity to sharpen your discernment and critical thinking skills. And the same goes for me, too. Check what I say against Scripture and good logic (and do let me know if you find anything you think I missed).