False Prophets

On Face Book I would like to see a more academic approach in debating theological and doctrinal differences between Calvinists and Arminians, so-called prosperity and non-prosperity teachers and among Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox expressions of our common faith. My goodness there are so many differences between Protestant sects alone.

I prefer to reserve terms like false prophet or false teacher, heretic, doctrines of demons, etc. to what are clearly denials of cardinal doctrines of the faith, such as the virgin birth, atoning death and physical resurrection of our Lord. Surely, there were and are sincere, studious and dedicated men on all sides of the issues which divide.

Now sometimes prophet vs. prophet confrontations may become necessary. When some “prophet” confronts me publicly on campus, I may be forced to be more aggressive and militant than I usually am in the FB venue.

I am not saying that we should not debate these differences and when we truly believe our position, it may get passionate. But should we not try to temper our more condemning accusations? Do not we all have more in common, especially concerning the fundamentals, than we have differences?

I know that the prophets of old and the apostles of the NT would use strong language and severely rebuke false messengers. However, I fear there are many “wanna be” or “tryin’ to be” prophets or apostles among us, who do not in actuality carry the credentials, have the experience or bear the marks of the men of God in the Bible. Sometimes the accusations are just a smoke screen to cover the lack of sound arguments.

I know a lot of ministers and know about many more from various theological and doctrinal positions. It is my impression that most of them are attempting to glorify God according to their understanding of the gospel and the nature and character of God.

I suggest that we try to cut one another some slack, especially when we consider the warning of our brother James, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” And we also might keep in mind the admonition of our Lord that with what judgment we judge so shall we be judged.


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Building the Church

Our host this week is a retired prison administrator, who now teaches a Bible study in prison. His favorite question to his students is, “How many of you were regularly going to church, when you were arrested?” The answer is always the same, without fail, none of them were attending church, when they got into trouble with the law.

Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”—Matt 16:18.

Before I founded a church in the late 80’s, I was more of a critic of the church than I am today. Since then, I see myself as a church builder. Not that I am pioneering churches but I want to build the church in the sense of being an encourager instead of a critic. There is an abundance of church critics; criticism tends to develop into censorious spirit, often resulting in becoming a downright opponent of the church.

Jesus came not just to save individuals but to call out a body of believers, the church, which constitutes his Kingdom.

Alas, there are relatively few church builders. Most of the critics don’t seem to have a church home or else they frequently hop from church to church. Some are convinced that the answer is a home church. Home churches soon have the same problems the body of believers which they left had, who were meeting in the building.

The most frequent criticisms of the churches and pastors is that they excuse or overlook sin. Unfortunately, this is often the case. On the other hand, the preachers who teach holiness from the pulpit, still may have sin abounding in their pews. When I was a pastor, I addressed the subject of holiness virtually weekly. Yet, there was still sin in my small congregation, some of which I did not know about until after I closed the church doors.

For 15 years our church muddled through under my leadership; yet, our church was a blessing to my family and me, and I hope to my congregants and to the community in which we ministered.

Shortcomings of the church are easy to see. But despite the faults, I think the churches on the corner remain a great blessing to communities and still have the potential to revive America. The churches remain the strongest barrier against lawlessness.

Often times critics are not really in a position to judge the churches. There is a lot more to a church than the message preached from the pulpit. Churches have discipleship programs and small groups where the sin problem is addressed with perhaps more zeal than in the pulpit. Or perhaps the iniquity is being dealt with in counseling sessions.

Paul in his epistles and John in the Revelation criticized the churches; however, these were churches which they founded. So many of the critics have never pastored nor have they ever pioneered a church, which may be one of the most difficult ministries there is.

Most of the churches in which I have spoken over the years are the store front variety or at least that is where they got their start. Usually, a beginning church or a small church has the same problems as a large church or even a mega-church.

My general rule not to be a critic of the churches but a booster is just that, a general rule. Sometimes criticism is appropriate. Let’s strive to make in constructive and balanced.


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American Gospel

Critics of the so-called prosperity gospel refer to it as the uniquely “American gospel,” both of which are pejorative labels.


The gospel proclaimed in America might well be different from the way it is taught in other parts of the world. This country was established by our Puritan fathers, who considered America to be the New Jerusalem, or the New Israel, the City on a Hill, that was to be the light of the world. In those days America was known as the New World. She was “Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean.”

Through the 19th Century the prevailing view of the American church was Manifest Destiny, that Christian Americans were destined by God to conquer the wilderness from sea to shining sea. The idea was that savage America would be replaced with a Christian Civilization.

We had left aristocratic Europe behind where there was not the opportunity of upward mobility. Americans believed that if one is industrious, takes initiative and is able to live a life of independence from governmental economic controls, anyone can prosper by “pulling himself up with his own bootstraps.” It was axiomatic that “the Lord helps those who help themselves.” This vision was known as the American Dream. Americans believed that it was a God given right to pursue happiness (property and success).

The Protestant work ethic teaches that it is God’s will that men should work hard, make a profit, save, and be productive and successful. The doctrine of American exceptionalism was widely believed and promoted by all political parties, except for the socialists and communists. It should be noted that America was and remains an exception compared to the nations of the world, so we should have an Exceptional Gospel.

“The New Israel, Manifest Destiny, Christian Civilization, the American Dream, American Exceptionalism and the Protestant Ethic are all tied in with the true gospel of Jesus Christ, which he called the Kingdom of God or Heaven, when and where the Church, God’s people, rule and reign with Christ.

Thankfully, we are not living under the tyranny of the Roman Empire or an Islamic State governed by Sharia Law or the despotism and atheism of the former Soviet Union. Americans are a free people.

Unfortunately, some Christians think that if we are really spiritual that we should be a persecuted minority and not wealthy and healthy. Consequently, churches are often weak and sickly. Many ministers have the audacity to even call the church a hospital for the wounded. No, the church is the Army of God! We are not just conquerors; we are more than conquerors over the world, the flesh and the devil, who would have us to be poor and sickly.

So, call me a promoter of the prosperity gospel or a teacher of the American Gospel if you like. I am not ashamed of this gospel and neither is Joel Osteen, nor was Jeremiah of old, who wanted the people to prosper even in Babylonian captivity 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”


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Bethel Church in Redding, California has a congregation of 8000 in a town of 92,000. I am impressed, whenever I see that many people spending two hours in church, plus there are other things going on throughout the week. Many of the multitude are not mere pew sitters but they are active in the ministry.

Brother Mikhail and I entered the sanctuary about 30 minutes before the service started and there was a line stretching across the altars of trained disciples praying for peoples’ needs from the previous service.

The Bethel House is built on prayer. Outside the church building there is a hill top chapel devoted to 24-hour prayer with large windows overlooking a beautiful vista. The garden surrounding the prayer chapel makes it an ideal place for prayer walks. There must have been 25 folks praying inside and outside the chapel 30 minutes after the service ended.

The worship team played contemporary music; I was not familiar with any of the songs; however, the lyrics were definitely directed towards the Lord. The music was not too loud. There were two dancers, waving banners throughout the worship time, which lasted for 40 minutes. People were very much entering in to the praise period.

One of the pastors encouraged the congregation with two words “fresh grace” and “breakthrough.” He then asked the congregation to pray in the context of the two words and lay hands on neighbors. Two women prophesied briefly over me. One quoted from Philippians 3, “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.”

There was an offering taken and buckets passed; there was no pressure or promises of return connected with the offering. The church is in the process of building a new campus; hopefully, within the next three to five years. It appears they are making wise use of their finances.

One of the pastors spoke on the plans of the church to rent an old ornate movie theater downtown. They anticipated they would be filling it with 1000 worshipers each Sunday. They told downtown merchants, especially restaurants and coffee shops that they might want to stay open on Sundays, because they will be encouraging their people to eat or shop before and after services. Bethel has a vision to bringing prosperity to the city of Redding, as the church prospers.

A lady of the church, who had been connected with the ministry for over 20 years, asked all the single mothers with children at home to stand. She honored the moms for fulfilling a very difficult task. We were encouraged to give money directly to these dozen women. They were quite moved by the compassion the congregation demonstrated.

Senior Pastor Bill Johnson was not in the service. Pastor Eric introduced his wife Candance as the speaker. I suppose since it was Mother’s Day the ministry wanted a female perspective. Her theme was on building, “Strong People, Strong Families and a Strong City,” thus showing the Dominion or Kingdom Now perspective of Bethel.

Candance testified that she had been saved in an A/G church at fifteen and soon after went on a mission to Mexico. From then on, she had a burden for missions. She went through some of the YWAM program and later graduated from Bethany College of the Assemblies of God in Santa Cruz, where she met her husband. She initially had difficulty dealing with the isolation of Redding, since she had a vision for the nations of the world.

Candance warned that there may be seasons in our life, when our situation does not make sense; meanwhile we must praise and trust God. She spoke of longsuffering being a fruit of the Spirit. Eventually, with the rise of Bethel’s Revival Training School of thousands of students from all over the world, God brought the nations to Bethel, thus she could now reach into the world from Redding.

She reminded us of the faith of Abraham and Sarah, who had to wait for 25 years for their Isaac, which shows that we need to believe what God says. This is important in a church with so much emphasis on the prophetic word to individuals.

One of the pastors made an altar call for salvation, healing and deliverance after Candance’s message. Scores of people responded.

Steve Conn an old friend from Praise Chapel Redding, where I had ministered last time in 1991, joined us in the service. I had not seen him since speaking in his church; however, we have been in contact on Face Book. We walked to the Prayer building after Church where Brother Steve, Brother Mikhail, and I took communion just among the three of us.

This is an outstanding work; the emphasis is that revival is associated with the supernatural. In Acts 8, Philip the Evangelist had a revival in Samaria. “The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.”—Acts 8:6.

Bethel is getting world-wide attention because of the reports of the supernatural in their services and multitudes are coming to know the Lord.

I did not hear or see anything bizarre or weird in the three hours we spent on the church grounds. I would caution Christians not to judge the ministry based on its critics on the internet; most of whom have not first-hand observed the ministry. Much of the criticism comes from cessationists, who teach that spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues, prophecy and healing ceased with the apostolic age.

There are always the critics. There are those who have put out videos and writings against my ministry on the Internet, that misrepresent what The CMUSA is all about, which is reaching out for the salvation of souls.

I am now in Yuba City, CA, hosted by an old pastor friend, Chris Madsen. He said this evening, “From my experience, the critics are the ones who have little success in the ministry.”


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Now Play Ball

Casey Stengel charged home plate in a World Series game. Mikey Mantle having a full count, did not swing on pitch number 7. The home plate umpire yelled “Strike 3!”

Casey was furious, as were most of the Yankee fans. He charged the umpire and got in his face, screaming, as only Casey could do.

The umpire responded in a clearly Brooklyn accent of the period: “I’m the umpire. I calls ’em as I sees ’em. Now play ball!”

Among open-air preachers there is strong controversy about what is permissible to say or not; whether or not a preacher can carry mace or forcefully defend himself, whether or not one can lie to the authorities to avoid trouble or arrest, etc. There are other such issues.

Some are calling preachers with whom they disagree to repentance. They are even shunning those who refuse to change.

Many want to act as umpires and make the decisions for others as to what can be said or not said or do or not do? Who appointed these umpires? We all call ‘em as we sees ‘em. I see the differences as judgment calls as to what is effective and what is not. In my opinion the differences are not moral issues.

Preachers, quit arguing and play ball! Stop putting down one another and go about your business of preaching to the lost. I am glad for all who are playing ball as they think best, including the ones who are denouncing me. I am going to continue going about my ministry, as I have been doing for 45 years, whether the wanna be umpires like it or not.baseball.jpg

Cussing Preachers

There has been a controversy on my newsfeed concerning “cussing preachers.”

One of the things that separates man from the animal kingdom is our wonderful gift of the language arts. We have the ability to express great thoughts and ideas with words. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” God spoke and it was done. Our words also have creative powers. So, we should choose our words carefully. We can make or break another person’s day by the words we speak.

Sinners on campus are often incapable of speaking a few sentences without the use of four letter offensive words, which are intended not to edify but put down those with whom they disagree. Their working vocabulary is limited.

Occasionally, some preachers use a cuss word or vulgarity for effect or shock value as a turnaround or to gain more attention. However, I would think that this only be done rarely, if at all. In the below pictures sinners are either directing their curse words against God or their fellow man for selfish reasons and for loss of temper, which is always wrong. God considers our motives more than our actual words. We should not curse those whom God has blessed; nor should we bless whom God has cursed.

One should always take into consideration his audience and the setting. For instance, one should not use questionable words in church or among children or the presence of ladies of whom I fear there are few these days. Women have often become fouler than men. Personally, I find such crude expressions as “pissed off” objectionable or the even use of “butt” instead of buttocks. But then I am of the older generation.

Those who believe that they have the liberty to use questionable language should be understanding of those who are reticent or have scruples against such terms. I do not consider the use of occasional cuss words as a reason to part company or even be overly critical.

We all have our quirks and different ideas as to certain behaviors we might or might not condone. Among those who have been arguing over this issue there does not even seem to be agreement as to what words are permissible and what ones are not.

Attend a Local Church


The Church universal and local deserves more respect than it gets on my news feed. Most of the criticism seems to come from Christians, who operate outside and independently of any local church. With all the churches in America, I can’t help but wonder if the problem is more with the critic than the Church.

If a man cannot find a suitable church within driving distance of his home, the real problem may be that he is unwilling to support the church with his time and finances. Should not our concern be more for what we can contribute to the church than what the church has to offer to us? The more spiritual we become, the more supportive we should be to a local congregation.

Paul could be critical of the church in his letters; however, these were usually churches he founded, which gave him the apostolic authority to correct. Certainly, he did not withdraw himself in his disapproval, even though he opened himself up to less appreciation. Paul’s reproofs and exhortations were expressed in the context of a deep care and concern for the churches.

There are many who seem to think that they speak with apostolic authority without really carrying the credentials of an apostle. Often times having no experience in church leadership, they are limited to pontificating from their computers.

One problem may be that censors expect too much out of a local church, especially the pastor because he may not be preaching what the fault-finder considers is the correct Gospel.

I have spoken in hundreds of churches in my years of ministry and I am friendly with scores of pastors, often having stayed in their homes. The vast majority of them I have found to be dedicated men of God.

People have an obligation to study the Bible on their own. The pastor should not have to spoon feed his people. Jeremiah condemned certain pastors, but Jeremiah had unquestionable credentials of a prophet; whereas, many are trying to act like prophets without the prophetic anointing.

I had a lot more sympathy for the churches and their problems after I served as a pastor of a church for about 15 years. I founded the church on the principles of the moral government of God, the doctrine of holiness and encouraged a bold public witness. We had dedicated members but we also had the same problems and sins that were in the established churches, which I initially thought were not getting the job done or were as doctrinally sound as I thought that they should be.



My late campus preaching associate, Brother Max Lynch, used the term “young whippersnapper” to refer to fledgling preachers, who were irritatingly overconfident, impertinent and presumptuous.

Brother Max was 13 years older than me; he has been with the Lord for about 15 years. Max was faithful to the end; he had health issues so that the last few years of his campus ministry were limited to passing out his hard-hitting tracts.

Max and I observed over the years numerous open-air preachers come and go. Some started with a bang but ended with a whimper.


Although “whippersnapper” is usually applied to the young, it can be applied to older preachers as well, such as those who want to snap the whip over others with whom they disagree. They see it as their job to police the so-called street preacher community.

Some snap the whip my way for what they perceive as being my short-comings or even sins, especially in regards to my defense of Joel Osteen and what they perceive as my softness concerning Roman Catholicism. They can barely stand my carrying a staff crucifix. I have been rebuked privately and publicly. One old friend even accused me of turning “mellow yellow” in my old age.

The word whippersnapper is not much used anymore. George “Gabby” Hayes, who played the grizzled codger to the leading man in old western films, often uttered the word.

Although the young whippersnappers can be annoying, I am glad that they are preaching outside and calling sinners to repentance and faith. Over the years, I have also seen young whippersnappers become mature and faithful preachers.

I suppose the whippersnappers perceive me as an “old goat.”

I do not know the etymology of “young whippersnapper” but I suppose it originally 28058594_10156109019878917_8018394923553681662_n.jpgreferred to a young ox-driver or teamster. Working oxen are taught to respond to the signals of the teamster or ox-driver. These signals are given by verbal command and body language, reinforced by a whip, when necessary.
Or perhaps “young whippersnapper” applied initially to young men with too much leisure, who would crack their whips in camp to show off their supposed skills. But when it came to actually driving the oxen, they weren’t as skilled as they thought.

The experienced driver usually does not have to use the whip but drives the ox with verbal commands such as “giddyup” or “whoa.” Whereas the novice often has to snap the whip because he may not really know his oxen, nor do the oxen know him. The young whippersnapper might show off more authority than he actually possessed by cracking his whip.

My great grandfather, Curtis Hatfield, drove the oxen west during the California Gold Rush. He walked beside the oxen as they pulled the wagon. He was a gentle driver.