Do Teachers Incur Stricter Judgment For Doctrinal Errors?

I get people asking for free copies of my Bible prophecy book for various reasons. When a man with a website asked for one, I suggested I would be willing to give the book in exchange for a link from his site (which costs him nothing). He said no since he was like most Christian sites who are overly worried about sending someone to a site that has any “doctrinal error”. Our correspondence sheds some light on this overly emphasized fear:


I have been online for more than seven years and have never linked to someone else’s website, even though many have linked to mine (and I appreciate that). The reason is this: I do not know of any other website that does not have serious doctrinal error contained therein. And, if I found one I would not want to link to it because I would need to constantly monitor it in case false teaching was later added. Even with a disclaimer I would not want to be responsible before the Lord on the Day of Judgment for having a part in someone being led astray by false doctrines.

I have read enough on your website (that has nothing to do with end time prophecy) to know that you have several serious false teachings contained therein. And, of course you teach very serious errors concerning end time prophecy.

Please, just keep your book.

“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

In Christ Jesus,

{name withheld}

My reply was as follows:

Doctrinal error is unavoidable without a prophet to interpret the scriptures for us today as they had in the First Century and in kingdom years. Surely you must admit you have doctrinal errors yourself.

Thus, certainly the judgment that James 3:1 is talking about has nothing to do with making an honest error in interpreting the very difficult book called the Bible, that Jesus said was difficult on purpose, quoting Isaiah and using parables to hide the meaning which is working quite effectively on Christians today [judging from how few understand his difficult words].

The judgment on teachers is for the typical sins we all do. But they are held more accountable to do what the bible says because they claim to know it well enough to teach it. I assure you, I walk uprightly and have a very happy wife and family as fruits to show it.

Principle of Accountability

For those who are not familiar with this principle of judgment weighted according to accountability, Jesus taught it in many places, including the parable of the wicked servants:

Luke 12:47-48 (KJV) 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

If you think it through, James must be referring to this as the reason why teachers will be judged stricter. They know better what God’s will is and are more accountable to do it.

Accountability for Works, not Beliefs

There are good God-loving people often on both sides of every argument. The point is, the Bible is hard to understand as it proclaims itself is by design in both the OT and NT. Therefore, how could a loving God condemn us for misunderstanding what his Bible says and holding a false doctrine or belief? The Christian emphasis on doctrine is a result of all the many warring denominations differentiated only by their doctrines. However, the writing of James tells us it’s not about what doctrines we believe, but about our faith in God and our good works together that we are judged by:

James 2:17-20 (ESV) 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

Hopefully what I present above is clear enough in this short and quick post for the reader to realize doctrinal error or mistaken theological beliefs are not to be feared anywhere near as much as how we act and how we treat others.

How To Save $100’s On Prophecy Books And Videos

If you are a serious long time student of prophecy like me, you probably have something to show for it: dozens of books, DVDs, videos, audio tapes, charts and even seminars or conferences memories that cost you hundreds of dollars. Not to mention all the time that you have invested searching in reading, watching and attending them. I even took a tour of Israel with prophecy teacher Michael Rood in 2003 which cost me thousands. Understanding Bible prophecy was not the primary reason for taking that trip and I certainly have no regrets at all and would do it again. However, you have to figure that of all the ministries offering tours of Israel out there, since I picked a prophecy teacher to be the host of the one I went on, that at least some of that package price has to fall into the prophecy research expense category.

After All That Money, Why Don’t You Know More For Sure?

You may have spent even more than I have, perhaps with multiple trips to Israel or with dozens of prophecy books on your books shelf. But the question I want to ask you is, what else do you have to show for it all and when will this expense category in your budget go away? In other words, why haven’t you understood it yet or at least figured out enough to feel like you know the important things you need to about the End Times to make better plans. I mean, putting the satisfaction of your curiosity aside, isn’t the real practical application of studying Bible prophecy to know the future and to then be able to plan better for it? (If you like spending the money because the many divergent teachings entertain or fascinate you, then you may not be looking for how to change that.)

Or after all these years of hearing one plausible interpretation after another have you lost any hope in actually concluding what the right sequence of end times events are, when the rapture falls in that sequence, who the Antichrist is, or even what year Jesus will return? Can we know these things or not? Why are we studying book after book and never really getting solid answers to these questions? The reason for our lack of real results with this is not because there is no way to find out solid answers to these questions. If you believed that was the case then you would not be wasting time and money on this area of study. If after all this time you are starting to doubt this assumption, then let me remind you that God specifically told Daniel that his prophecies (which even he could not understand), would be understood by the wise in the End Times when knowledge was increased, but the wicked would not understand (Dan 12:7-11).

Is there any doubt that we are in those End times now when many would go to and fro and knowledge would be increased? Also, since I don’t know too many reprobates who have a hobby of studying Bible prophecy, let’s rule out that wickedness on your part is the problem here :). If you want to study Bible prophecy then you probably are a good person who wants to understand all God has to say, not just the parts you like.

Flawed Prophecy Interpretation Model

That leaves us with the matter of being a biblically wise person. There is always a good chance we lack wisdom in an area because we all start out in any field as beginners with lots to learn. A lack of success in any endeavor can often indicate that we are missing essential wisdom for succeeding in it. But what wisdom do we need to unravel Bible prophecy?

There is one piece of wisdom that most Bible prophecy teachers don’t seem to know. They usually start out with some unique insights that carefully explain some plain passages of the Bible that others have not addressed as well. However, in fitting their theory in with the rest of the Bible or even just related prophecies, at some point just about every prophecy teacher will say, “that passage does not mean what it plainly says.” Because if they took that passage at face value, they would be forced to change all or part of their theory! You may not have noticed this because you may feel that given the symbolic nature of prophecy, especially the Book of Revelation, this is acceptable handling of God’s word.

Prophecy: Primarily Symbolic or Primarily Literal Like the Rest of Scripture?

What if that assumption is wrong and we have not taken things literally enough? I’m not saying that the Book of Revelation is not symbolic. It certainly does make use of symbols that are usually only explained plainly elsewhere in the Bible. However the question we need to ask before we interpret prophecy is whether it is primarily symbolic or allegorical or is it primarily literal. Put another way, is it a special case or is it just like the rest of the Bible of which Jesus said “[the face value meaning of] scripture cannot be broken” by any interpretation of any other scripture?

More importantly, if we really believe it’s a special case where the “scripture cannot be broken” rule does not apply, then how do we have any hope of ever coming to the right understanding? And if we somehow do, how do we have any way of verifying that it is right if it cannot be validated by being held to not breaking the face value of other scripture? A person can then just find ways to spiritualize or typify other scriptures to a meaning that fits his teaching and no one can say its wrong because one persons imagination of what a passage can mean is just as valid as another’s if there is no standard to hold them all to. This is how we have ended up with innumerable seemingly plausible eschatologies and books explaining them. They are all to some degree breaking (or ignoring) scripture to arrive at yet another different interpretation.

Do you begin to see the problem? If prophecy does not have a primary, usually literal face value meaning with the symbols adding extra detail or depth built on top of that face value meaning rather than contradicting it and replacing it, then we are wasting our time and money studying it because we’ll never really be able to know what it means short of another Holy Spirit-filled prophet coming to literally pull the answers out of a hat. By the way, I said “usually literal” because I’m not saying all prophecy is literal. There is some clear allegorical use of language found but these things are always explained as such right there or elsewhere in the Bible. The problem is when a teacher does not understand this and treats everything like an allegory or freely-definable symbol he supports by using typological interpretation of other scriptures such as the acts of the patriachs in the Old Testament. For example, a famous pretrib rapturist teacher once freely admitted that the pretrib teaching is based on allegory and typology rather than any clear plainly read passages of the Bible. He clearly saw nothing wrong with this situation.

The Solution

The only thing that the status quo gives us is an endless stream of tantalizing new prophecy books limited only by the imaginations of each new prophecy writer. Since most of them contradict each other, not all can be right—but all can be wrong. Are you ready to find out how to avoid wasting time and money on such fundamentally flawed theories? Here’s how:

  1. Be willing to change how for years you have treated prophecy differently than the rest of the Bible and begin rereading the Bible afresh with the new “primarily literal prophecy” paradigm.
  2. Study the articles on this site like How To Understand Bible Prophecy for Sure which gives several examples of mistreated prophecies that can be taken at face value.
  3. When you have confirmed that there is something to the approach to Bible prophecy I advocate, go ahead and purchase one of my $10 books which are written following this model of interpretation. I promise you’ll never find me say in my books, “that doesn’t mean what it plainly says” and then proceed to offer some contradictory meaning for it. At most I will say it doesn’t mean what you thought it says and direct you to read the passage more carefully and notice a few easily missed details that are really there and change the meaning significantly so that the face value properly meshes with the face value of the rest of the Bible.

Can $10 spent on one of my manuals really save you $100s on lots of other prophecy materials down the road? I wholeheartedly believe so (and I have a money back guarantee if you think I’m wrong). It is difficult to see things differently than you have been taught for years. But a little guidance can go a long way in saving you further trial and error.

See, once you let me show you how several major prophecies such as Wormwood or the 144,000 make literal plain sense as written, you will find it easier to break the old patterns and to apply this approach to other prophecies on your own for finding solid, satisfying answers. And when you see an offer for a new typical allegory/typology-based prophecy book and look into its premise and assumptions and find that they contradict your new foundation based on plain reading of all scripture including prophecy, you will not even think “maybe they have the answer, maybe i should get that…”

How To Understand Bible Prophecy Yourself For Sure

Bible Prophecy Scorned

While most Christians believe that the prophecies of the Bible are impossible to understand or a distraction from more important areas of study or ministry, I’ve become convinced that Bible prophecy has an undeserved bad reputation. It’s clear from the statements of Jesus and the apostles that we should be just as learned in the roughly 1/3 of the Bible that is prophecy as the rest of the Bible. Further, I believe that we can even know for sure if we understand it properly, by following certain guidelines that amount to “rightly dividing the word.” In my latest blog post I’m sharing one such guideline.

Without a doubt there is a lot of confusion on Bible prophecy. There seem to be as many interpretations as there are would-be interpreters. You can listen to one and it sounds good until you hear the next one that contradicts it yet also is appealing. Which one is right? How can you know for sure? It’s enough to turn anyone off from studying prophecy.

Face Value Reading – Not Breaking Scripture

What if there was a way to understand Bible prophecy and to know that you understand it correctly? There is a way and you already know how to do this. The trick is to read the prophecies just as you would any other verse. You must take them at face value and resist the temptation to try to assign a different, contradictory meaning to them when the face value does not make sense to you yet. Sounds too easy? Well it is actually very difficult to do this, as evidenced by all the many interpetations out there. It requires patience and high Bible literacy, because each verse can still have several face value readings because of the limits of language so each of these must be tested against every other related verse of the Bible.

The only way that so many interpetations are possible is because interpretors allow themselves to assign almost any imaginable meaning to the words of the prophecies which break not only its face value meaning, but of also other scriptures elsewhere in the Bible that they are simply not aware of or have similarly misread. They habitually break this rule because they believe that Bible prophecy is primarily symbolic and must be interpreted, rather than having the symbolism on top of the primary plain meaning. They thus usually go too far by coming up with meanings to the symbols that negate the primary plain, literal, or face value meaning of the words.

In other words, the common approach forgets what Jesus instructed in John 10:35 that the plain meaning of “Scripture could not be broken.” He reminded his hearers of this when refering to Psalm 82:6 where it astonishingly says, “Ye are gods” because they had accused him of blasphemy merely for saying he was the son of God. How can that verse literally say that men are gods and make sense? Well this is a good example of a verse having multiple possible face values. The word there for “gods” is elohim which is not strictly used to refer to supernatural deities but also “judges” (Ex 21:6; Ex 22:9) or God’s representatives. Jesus required his hearers to accept this face value meaning of the verse in defense of himself also being an elohim or son of God. Of course reading it to say that men are literally deities would break many plain verses, so that meaning could not be what is intended

Here are some other examples of where this principle could be used:

Other Examples of Face Value Contradictions

  • Revelation 12’s Woman with the twelve stars crowning her head and moon at her feet: Yes, this image clearly conveys to us the meaning of Israel as Joseph’s similar vision was clearly interpreted to mean (Gen 37:7-10). But John said he saw this in the heavens. And the moon and stars happen to reside in heaven. As does a constellation of a woman called Virgo or Betula, the Virgin, in Hebrew. As it happens, this exact scene John saw was visible in the sky or heavens when Jesus was born on September 11, 3 B.C.E. It literally came to pass just as written.
  • Ezekiel 38’s Gog Magog attack on Unwalled Israel: It is popular to try to say that this does not refer to literally unwalled villages of Israel as it plainly says but to unwalled cities of America today or to Israel today symbolically with no defense politically. However if you compare Ezekiel 38 with Revelation 20:7-10 we will find the same Gog-Magog attack on Israel after the 1000 years of peace during the Millennium during which we are told the weapons of war are burned and converted to peaceful use (Eze 39:9; Isa 2:4; Joel 3:10; Mic 4:3). Israel will literally have no weapons and no means of defense at the end of the Millennium when the attack comes. Therefore it is invalid to try to apply this prophecy to any other nation or Israel at any other time than that, or you break scripture.
  • Ezekiel 37’s my servant King David: The Sages of Judaism and Christianity both like to interpret “David” to mean Messiah. However why can’t David be David? If you read the passage carefully it explicitly confirms the resurrection. David is considered one of the righteous who is expected to be in the First Resurrection (Rev 20) of the righteous to rule for the Millennium. The passage says he’ll be king of the restored and united Israel. That’s fine since the Messiah will be King over all the Earth and needs kings over individual nations and cities. Therefore what gives anyone the right to say that David is not David here (or in Eze 34:23) when it does not say it is a parable and it makes sense fine once you understand a little about the timing of the resurrection.
  • Star Wormwood is Nuclear Plant Chernobyl: Or some other idea that what is described is not a star at all as Revelation says. If Star Wormwood is not what Revelation says, then I’m hard pressed to explain the sequence of impacts starting at the 6th seal and ending with the 3rd seal.
  • The 144,000: You’ll often hear that these are not really all twelve tribes from all Israel but just Jews (which is only one or two tribes), or that they are a certain Christians denomination or not even 144,000 actual people at all. Once again there is no basis to change the face value when there is a good explanation to be found simply by studying the twelve and seventy-two(!) that Jesus sent out as a type of the literal 144,000

How You Become Sure

If you strictly adhere to this principle of taking verses at face value and not letting any interpetation of prophecy break the face value of any verse, you will be on your way to rightly dividing the word of God. It will certainly take more time than coming up with what you subjectively think it represents. However, in time if you keep it up you will eventually arrive at the right understanding. And you will have the confidence to know that you are right.

Why? Because you are not playing any tricks to explain a verse. The meaning you arive at takes the face value of the words and fits it in the consensus of the face value of all the other verses in the Bible. If there are no verses read at face value that contradict how you are understanding a passage then you can be sure you are right. Of course, arrving at this point takes a high degree of Bible literacy and enough time usually to do several iterations of eliminating each of the possible face value meanings that most verses may have as other verses are brought to your attention which contradict your present understanding. Through the process of elimination the true intent of each verse fitting in the context of the whole bible will eventually be arrived at.


By the way, this principle of not breaking the face value of Scripture applies to all Bible study. Many of the popular Christian doctrines that are commonly taught break the face value of some astonishingly plain verses. However, I’ll leave it to you to discover which ones yourself rather than risk roasting anyone’s sacred cow . Just know that if you apply this principle in all your Bible study you may end up having to renounce some of the doctrines you have been taught by religion but you will find comfort in knowing that the Bible is making sense like never before.