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Programmed For Gullibility?
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PROGRAMMED FOR GULLIBILITY?
In spite of all our technological advances in many areas of life, it seems that, in many ways, today’s world has become a more gullible place than it was a few generations ago.
In Western society, New Age spirituality continues to influence people into accepting numerous notions and ideas that would have been considered superstitious nonsense less than 50 years ago. In African, and some other, societies there has been a recent increase in ancient fears relating to the power of spirits, witches and other practitioners of questionable spirituality. People of varying ages, including children, have been murdered by mobs believing that the victims were involved in witchcraft resulting in harm or bad luck and therefore deserved their deaths.
Animism — the belief and fear that spirit powers in nature are powerful and need to be appeased — is as strong as ever in Africa, Asia, South America, and elsewhere, and has even found expression amongst Westerners involved in New Age spirituality.
Along with these ancient beliefs and fears dressed in modern garb, there are numerous stories of angel visitations, spirit and alien guides, supernatural experiences, miraculous insights, amazing healing powers supposedly found in crystals, as well as in people who claim to heal through psychic contacts and powers by the ’laying on of hands’ (without necessarily actually touching people). Their stories and claims are often accepted in full trust, without any questioning or scrutiny. It seems people are being conditioned to accept all sorts of claims without question. It appears as if no one is taught any critical analytical thinking skills, and that to raise questions and ask for proof or evidence to support claims is ill-mannered and insulting. With such attitudes on the increase, people are being programmed for gullibility.
However, it would be a serious mistake to assume that only those involved with alternative spiritualities are being programmed for gullibility. Far too many Christians have shelved their brains, allowed others to do the thinking for them, or relied on their emotions or apparent intuition as the sole, or major, criterion for determining the truth of an issue.
Many regard religion as a matter of personal experience, with no objective reality - just a matter of how a person feels. They treat the mind as something irrelevant, worldly, and appear to believe that somehow God (who created us with brains) will be glorified by their lack of critical thinking. There are many pastors, and travelling preachers, who even promote such erroneous concepts by claiming that people should always follow their hearts and never their heads!
Since the early 1960s, with the growth of the charismatic movement and Pentecostal churches, Christians have been alerted to the truth that our God is a great and awesome God — still capable of miracles. Unfortunately, along with this valid truth has come a careless acceptance of any claim to miracles without any willingness to test or examine such claims. Those who have dared to question miracle stories or claims have been accused of lack of faith; lack of discernment; lack of spirituality — or of being unwilling to accept the miracle power of an Almighty God! Rarely has anyone acknowledged, especially publicly, that such unbiblical arrogance has actually been a cover for encouraging gullibility.
Some years ago we received promotional material (circulated to many churches in Western Australia at the time) informing us that a ’healing evangelist’ (from the USA) was coming to Perth — having already visited the East Coast of Australia. The promotional material announced that this ’man of God’ had been mightily used of God to heal the sick (and much more), including a number of people in a Sydney hospital who had been about to undergo serious surgery for terminal problems. Their miraculous healing and release from the hospital had been confirmed by the medical staff of the hospital. However, no names (of either hospital or medical staff) were mentioned in the promotional materials. When we wrote to the promoters and asked for such names and factual confirmation we received an aggressive letter demanding to know why we were asking such questions and doubting the ’evangelist’s’ claims. Didn’t we believe what they had claimed in their promotional material?
With such a response, our answer was short and simple: ’No!!’
True miracles of God can stand the test of scrutiny and examination for confirmation. If the supportive evidence is NOT supplied or to be found, we should rightly remain sceptical. God does not hide his truth, nor does he lie or deceive.
Unfortunately the same cannot always be said about those who claim to be his people.
Over the past couple of years our Director, Adrian van Leen, has presented two 15-part radio series exposing hoaxes and frauds that have sucked in hundreds, if not thousands, of Christians in Australia, Britain, Singapore, the USA, and elsewhere. One series, Don’t be Fooled, dealt with issues and frauds as diverse as the Proctor & Gamble supposed Satanic company or products claims; that James Bartley was supposedly a true modern Jonah; that Madalyn Murray OHair is still out to destroy Christian causes — especially Christian radio programmes in the USA, and the supposed truth of the Jewish Protocols of Zion conspiracy through to the supposed drilling of a well hole into hell, ’generous’ Nigerian scams, affinity fraud, and more.
The other series was entitled: Beware the Story Tellers. This series exposed numerous ’Christian’ writers (and others) who didn’t let the truth get in the way of a good money-making story, and deliberately deceived Christians around the world. Such lying ’story tellers’ included people such as supposed former Satanist Mike Warnke; John Todd and the Illuminati; the supposed Jesuit spy, Alberto Rivera; Rebecca Brown and the Occult; Lauren Stratford and supposed Satanic Ritual Abuse; Leo Taxil and Masonic Luciferian worship; Mariah Monk and her Nun’s story; Michael Esses, the supposed converted Jewish Rabbi, and more.
Both these radio series were aired on 98.5 Sonshine FM — Perth’s leading Christian radio station.
At our CCG Ministries’ Centre reference library we have a couple of sections on reasoning and logic, and frauds and hoaxes, which include books with titles such as:
- A Christian’s Guide to Critical Thinking;
- Amazing Hoaxes and Frauds;
- Cheats, Charlatans, and Chicanery;
- Encyclopedia of Hoaxes;
- Facts, Fallacies and Frauds;
- Fakes, Frauds & Forgeries;
- Fakes, Frauds and Other Malarky;
- Hearing God’s Voice and Discerning the Counterfeits;
- If You’ll Believe That…;
- Miracles, Demons & Spiritual Warfare;
- Scamsand Swindles;
- Sorry, You’ve Been Duped;
- Testing the Spirits;
- The Book of Hoaxes;
- Twisting the Truth;
- Win the Battle for Your Mind;
- Your Mind Matters.
These are just a selection of some of our library’s thousands of titles — revealing evidence that gullibility has been, and still is, a major problem — including amongst Christians.
After studying Greek and journalism at the University of Oklahoma, Rick Renner served as a Southern Baptist pastor and associate pastor, and then became a Pentecostal pastor and ministry leader — now with a ministry in Russia. His book, Merchandising the Anointing (1990), is a hard-hitting and revealing expose of false teachers and false teaching in the church. He exposed an ’evangelist’ who claimed ’Holy Spirit’ feathers had fallen on the people after the Holy Spirit had ’hovered’ over the congregation! They turned out to be chicken feathers!! He gave accounts of other frauds and manipulating and deceiving pastors and preachers. His book ought to be compulsory reading for all pastors and church leaders today. He relates the problem of error-ridden ministries and their impact on ancient Galatia with problems faced by many churches today (pp.89-90):
Bewitched by a Magic Spell
From Paul’s own words in Galatians 3:1, we know that seducing spirits had infiltrated the church in Galatia. In this verse, Paul says, ’0, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you. . . .’
Notice, first of all, that Paul calls them ’0, foolish Galatians.’ The word ’foolish’ is the Greek word anoetos (ano-e-tos) and it describes ’a person who acts without thinking, reasoning’ or ’using his or her mind.’
This word indicates that the problem isn’t that this person doesn’t have a mind, but that he or she refuses to use their mind. This is a person who is mentally impotent by choice. He or she has refused to use their mind in a logical way
It appears that a false sense of spirituality was in operation in the Galatian church. This false sense of spirituality wrongly told them that using their mind was camal and unspiritual.
Fraudulent ministries will always tell you to ’get out of your natural man,’ ’Don’t question what you see,’ ’Don’t try to understand the mysteries which we are giving you,’ ’These supernatural manifestations are beyond your understanding,’ ’Your mind is trying to rob you of supernatural possibilities. . . .’
God gave you your brain and did not intend for your spirit and mind to be in conflict with each other. Before you were saved, it is true that your mind was ’enmity with God.’ However, now that you are regenerated by the Spirit of God, there is no reason that your mind and your spirit cannot cooperate together. This is God’s best!
However, if a fraudulent minister can convince a crowd to shelve their minds, then he can easily coax them into believing almost anything. People who refuse to use their minds are the easiest people to ’trick’ and to ’bewitch.’
Paul asked the Galatians, ’Who hath bewitched you. . .’ The word ’bewitched’ is taken from the Greek word baskaino (bas-kai-no) and literally means ’to cast a spell on someone.’
Paul’s strong language tells us that this church had come under some type of demonic spell and the church, as a whole, had entered into the world of spiritual foolishness. This foolishness inside the Galatian church had grown so fast, that back in Galatians 1:6, he says, ’I marvel that ye are so soon removed. . . .’
The word ’marvel’ is from the word thaumadzo (thaumad-zo). It refers to ’wonder, astonishment’ or ’amazement’ about something. Paul was ’astonished and amazed’ that such ludicrous and absurd spiritual error had gotten a stronghold in this particular church.
Likewise, he is equally ’astonished and amazed’ that this seduction could happen so quickly Thus, he says, ’I marvel that ye are so soon removed. . . . ’ Then he identifies the type of teaching that was penetrating the church. He called it ’another gospel.’
The word ’another’ is again the Greek word heteros. This is the very word used in First Timothy 1:3, when Paul commanded Timothy to ’charge some that they teach no other doctrine.’
Because of Paul’s frequent usage of this word at various and critical points in his epistles, no one can question the meaning of it. just as they had done in Ephesus, false prophets and false teachers had invaded Galatia with a gospel of a ’different kind.’
To make his point even clearer, he continues in verse 7 by saying, ’which is not another; but there be some that would trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.’
Notice at the first of this verse, he says, which is not another. . . .’ Now we have a very significant word change. This word for ’another’ is not the word heteros, but rather the Greek word allos, which refers to ’something of the same kind.’
To paraphrase this, Paul says, ’the gospel they preach is not like the gospel that we preach... it is not a gospel like ours at all.’ Are YOU allowing others to do the thinking for you; are you only going by your feelings; are you naively accepting a false gospel because you are too lazy or unwilling to follow the Biblical injunction to: ’Test everything’ (1 Thessalonians 5:21)? Are YOU being programmed for gullibility??