For most of the past century, Walt Disney productions have entertained millions of people with animated tales of magic. Since Mickey Mouse first starred in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we’ve seen the supposed wonders of the supernatural at work. It’s all meant for fun, of course, and the good guys always win.
But are there really any good guys?
When it comes to real magic, the answer is “no.” Although you may have heard a distinction between black magic—special powers used for evil—and white magic—powers used for good—both are from the demonic realm. White magic is meant to look good, but it’s not. By God’s standard, it is evil, too.
Seduced by Magic
White magic may well be more dangerous than its dark alternative because it is actually black magic camouflaged as something good. People have always been fascinated by the idea of magic. As A. W. Tozer notes, “So strong is the bent of the human heart toward magic that there has hardly been a time when the faith of Christ has not been plagued with it.”
Strange as it may seem, many people who claim to be Christians these days are fooling around with various forms of magic, Gnosticism, and mysticism, all of which derive from the occult. Many have wrapped occult practices, techniques, and messages in a veneer of Christianity by using Christian titles, terminology, and slogans.
Many within the New Age movement talk about Jesus, God, salvation, or atonement, but they’re playing with words. The New Age is nothing more than the old lie of Satan which he first tried with great success on Eve in Genesis 3:4: “You will be like God.” To people today, that means we each get to decide what is right and wrong. We can discover hidden knowledge. We decide our own truths. Some churches now even offer “Christian yoga,” yet there’s nothing Christian about it. Yoga means yoke or union with a Hindu god.
Yoga’s cousin, transcendental meditation (TM) is likewise popular, originally brought to America by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the mid-twentieth century. Despite the popularity of drug use in the 1960s, many Americans did not want to take drugs to discover their “inner Christhood” or deity through an altered state of consciousness. As a result, the Maharishi took advantage of the opportunity to bring Hinduism to the United States. He gave yoga the more marketable name, transcendental meditation, and brought it to the West.
So, yoga is an integral part of Hinduism, a thoroughly occult-based religion, and we’re supposed to believe it can be Christianized? I don’t think so.
Christians have also gotten involved in other practices unbecoming to Christ followers. Take automatic writing, for instance. It’s the idea that you can read a verse and then sit in silence, waiting for the Lord to tell you—either audibly or “in your spirit”—a message to write down. The practice is supposed to reveal what a particular verse means.
New Age author Helen Schucman actually claims to have written a whole book through automatic writing. A Course in Miracles is acclaimed by devotees to be the ‘Bible of the New Age.’ And who is the entity that supposedly helped Schucman write her bible? She claimed it was Jesus, but no doubt any help she received was from a demon with the boldness to call himself Jesus.
So now automatic writing shows up in Christianity—even among evangelicals. Jesus Calling, one of the best-selling Christian books in the past decade, is written by Sarah Young. Although she doesn’t claim automatic writing as the source for her work, she does acknowledge the influence of God Calling, a devotional book by A. J. Russell in the 1930s. Russell, a New Age mystic, created the book by editing the journals of two unnamed women—the “two listeners”—who credited automatic writing as their source.
Although I don’t agree with everything Merrill Unger writes, he offers an insightful overview of what magic like this is all about:
[quote] Magic may be defined as the art of bringing about results beyond man’s power through the enlistment of supernatural agencies. White magic is black magic in pious masquerade. It uses, in a magic way, the name of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, along with Bible phrases and terminology, but is demonic—demonic in character. . . . [end quote]
It is carried on in many so-called Christian circles. It is called white because it parades under the banner of light in contrast to black magic that openly enlists the aid of the powers of darkness.
Despite this, many Christians involve themselves in occult practices such as Kundalini yoga. This particular “brand,” popular with some evangelical circles, manifests involuntary bodily movements supposedly induced by a connection with the Holy Spirit. In Hinduism, these are called kriyas and are actually a sign of contact with demons. I detail this in Religious Trojan Horse and show its popularity within the Word of Faith and New Apostolic Reformation movements, in particular. Similar manifestations embraced by many so-called Christians include holy laughter, barking like dogs, crawling around on all fours, and experiencing uncontrollable shaking of the head, the body, or extremities. Those who demonstrate these unbiblical manifestations believe them to be a sign that the Holy Spirit has come upon them. Unger, obviously, has warned that such a claim is not to be trusted. Even if these people attribute the manifestations to the Holy Spirit, they are actually the work of Satan, the very sort of activity we see in Hinduism and the New Age.
In my Worldview Weekend mega-resource, worldviewpedia.com, I archive video clips of false teachers like Kenneth Copeland and the late Kenneth Hagin involved in holy laughter, rolling on the floor, and being drunk in the spirit. In one, Hagin announces, “Drunk again, drunk again” as people in the audience stumble around, laughing and acting drunk, supposedly overcome by the Holy Spirit. In truth, it is a form of white magic in its typically pious masquerade.
We often see evidence of black magic around us as well. At the mall, you’ll see people in Goth outfits—black trench coats, black shirts, black makeup, and the like—and wearing occult jewelry. That’s the basis of the Gothic look. So, the influence of black magic is fairly easy to spot. Many of them are into the Wicca religion, occultism, or black magic.
White magic, on the other hand, is more difficult to address because its many forms of camouflage include hints of the truth. One of Satan’s most effective strategies is to insinuate just enough truth to attract an audience that would not be attracted to darker things. People then mistake the partial truth for the whole truth, and Satan succeeds in undermining the Gospel. It’s the sort of false teaching we see from sources like Trinity Broadcasting Network and Daystar.
These are outlets for selective truth. At times, I’ve turned on their television programs just to see what they’re teaching, and I’ve noted, “Well, that’s true. This guy is reading from the Bible and is actually teaching it accurately. He described that verse in context.” They offer just enough truth to build credibility with listeners. People in the audience are wooed into thinking the teachers are reliable and therefore don’t recognize when they shift into Scripture-twisting mode. Suddenly, an unwitting audience is believing things like “you need to send in your faith seed,” “apply the power of positive thinking,” “name it and claim it,” or “your words have power to create your future.”
Joel Osteen is an especially toxic example of this approach. He promotes what he calls the power of “I am.” “Look in the mirror,” he says, “and say, ‘I am.’ Tell yourself that you’re healthy, strong, and successful.” He also warns against saying bad things of yourself because if you do, those bad things will come looking for you. Yet, this is the occultism known as positive confession or shamanism. To dress it up as Christianity, Osteen uses scripture out of context (of course) and twists it to his own ends.
Christians should not be duped by such things. Scripture warns us against white magic. In 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, Paul says:
"Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."
White magic is Satan transforming himself into an angel of light, and the consequences can be extremely serious. For instance, I suspect that Moroni, the angel who allegedly appeared to Joseph Smith and gave him the tablets which Smith “translated” into the Book of Mormon, was a Satanic angel of light. It started one of the largest modern-day cults, the Church of the Latter Day Saints. I believe the same is true of many cult leaders today. They think they’ve encountered an angel when, in fact, they are involved with a demon.
Unfortunately, this is not just a television phenomenon. Chances are there are one or more “churches” in your community that are packed on Sunday morning. One might even be the biggest church in town. The pastor, though, is not really a minister of God. He’s preaching a false Gospel, and the implications for the church leader and his congregation are bleak. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30). People are either believers and in the camp of God, or they are in the camp of Satan. So, many “pastors” are not true pastors; they’re hirelings (John 10:12). And as 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 says, their “end will be according to their works.” Those who masquerade as ministers of righteousness really work for Satan.
Scripture records a revealing story of white magic at work. Look at Acts 16:16-18:
[quote] Now it happened, as we went to pray, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. [end quote]
Divination is another word for magic and is also an occult practice. Any time you see the word divination, you’re talking about something that deals with the occult.
The slave girl in this story apparently is able to reveal information, like a fortune teller, that supposedly comes from the spirit world. Her owners sold her divination services and made a lot of money. They certainly didn’t care about her soul. They were interested only in the money. The demon speaking through her did as so many false teachers do today. It laced its comments with just enough truth to be convincing. “These men are the servants of the Most High,” it announced, “who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” That is, after all, exactly what Paul and his companions were doing. Yet the demon had a seriously ulterior motive. It was using the girl to infiltrate the group of believers. And isn’t that what goes on today? Demonically inspired false teachers infiltrate the Church, speaking just enough truth to build credibility and attract an audience.
As an aside, let me point out that just because the apostles could cast out demons doesn’t mean that we can. Every time we see exorcism in the Scriptures, it’s carried out by an apostle, one of the 70, John the Baptist, or one of his disciples. As I discuss at length in Religious Trojan Horse, casting out demons falls under the category of signs and wonders and is something that only prophets and apostles could do. It’s not for us today.
Paul, of course, saw through the demonic strategy and rejected the praises from the demonic realm. Sadly, many of today’s “evangelicals” are not so discerning. They are happy to be endorsed by the world and its overlord, Satan, and they feel a need to validate evangelicalism. You can see this especially through the celebrity adoration that occurs so often. As soon as a famous person says he or she has become a Christian, church leaders have them speak at their churches or interview them on “Christian television” and radio. They want the “coolness” of the celebrity to transfer to the church, so the audience will think the church is “cool” too. But did Paul do that? Certainly not.
Paul wanted nothing to do with the things of the world or with the demonic realm, and he rebuked the spirit in the slave girl. He would not let this demonic person gain a foothold in the new Church and mislead its new believers. That should be our desire as well. Becoming a “hip church” is not an appropriate goal. John MacArthur speaks directly to this issue in commenting on Acts 16:
"Satan was quick to react, first attempting to infiltrate the young fellowship with a demon-possessed medium. When Paul’s miraculous power thwarted that attempt, Satan tried to destroy the Church through persecution. Those are always his two avenues: infiltration, attacking the Church from within; and persecution, attacking it from without."
Matthew Henry’s Commentary also offers insight into the situation in Acts 16:16-24:
[quote] Satan, though the father of lies, will declare the most important truths when he can thereby serve his purposes. But much mischief is done to the real servants of Christ by unholy and false preachers of the Gospel who are confounded with them by careless observers. My friends, those who do good by drawing men from sin may expect to be reviled as troublers of the city. [end quote]
Paul was considered a troubler of the city of Philippi. Matthew Henry points out that real servants of Christ such as Paul are often persecuted by false teachers.
This happens subtly today. It’s not uncommon for people to be drawn away from a Bible-preaching church to a flashier congregation headed by a dynamic false teacher. People begin to view the solid Bible teacher as “extreme” or “narrow minded,” “fundamentalist,” “legalistic,” or “intolerant.” The Bible teacher becomes known as the troublemaker in town.
Confronting the White Magic Problem
The apostle Paul not only faced the white magic problem repeatedly, he knew exactly how to handle it and tells us in Acts 20:28-31 what to do about it:
[quote] Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. [end quote]
Notice that Paul tells us to expect that the “wolves” will arise “among yourselves.” This means from within your own church congregation or your own group of friends. Church leaders are to be aware that false teachers will rise from within. What they teach will be “perverse”—a word more accurately translated as distorted or twisted things.
So what do we do about this? Paul says that we should watch out for those who rise within. And in this case, we’re not just talking about men. This passage uses men in generic terms. The false teacher could be a woman in your Sunday school class or a leader of your ladies’ Bible study class. It could be someone in your group of friends who begins to proclaim things that are not biblical. If you spot them, you should sound the warning. And then you should be grieved if people don’t listen, but not lose heart.
The apostle Philip also demonstrates a way to handle white magic infiltration. Acts 8:4-10 describes the situation:
[quote] Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. And there was great joy in that city.
But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” [end quote]
This passage reflects the reality that there is nothing new under the sun. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Philip faced a group of people in Samaria who had been convinced that “this man [a false teacher] is the great power of God.” Satan deceived people then, and he still does it now. One of the early Church Fathers reported this about Simon the Sorcerer:
[quote] The first two teachers to propagate gnostic ideas within Christian circles were Simon and his successor Menander. Unlike later and more famous representatives of Gnosticism, both Simon and Menander claimed divinity for themselves. [end quote]
Gnosticism is a belief in obtaining “higher knowledge.” This sort of higher knowledge, esotericism, or hidden knowledge, was obtained through occult practices.
The claim of divinity is not unlike people such as Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, and Kenneth Copeland, who promote “little god” theology. “You’re really a little god running around on earth” is a teaching offered to their audiences. Gnosticism includes the idea that mankind is divine. In the Acts 8 passage, Simon called himself the great power of God. The Greek term is dumanis, a term also used later by more orthodox theologians in reference to both the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Dunamis is the term from which we get the words dynamite and power. The people believed Simon’s claim of divinity because he had astonished them for so long with his sorceries, but it was all just white magic. Fortunately for these people, when the real power showed up, they recognized it, and this is what happened:
[quote] But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You neither have part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent thereof of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:14-23) [end quote]
Despite claiming to be a Christian and having been baptized, Simon the Sorcerer wants to buy the ability to lay hands on people and produce miracles. In other words, he was in it for the money.
Does that sound familiar? Are there false teachers today who are in it for the money? Do they wrap occultism in Christian terminology? You bet. It is and always has been one of Satan’s number one goals—to produce false teachers influenced by demons who can lead people astray.
Our churches are filled with false converts because of false teachers. This is a serious problem within evangelicalism. Just as Simon the Sorcerer wanted to use Christianity mixed with occultism to get rich, so do many “church” leaders today. The deceptive terminology takes many forms: Christian happy talk, pop psychology, humanism, Word of Faith. All are made to appear as being of Christ, a form of godliness but denying the power of the Gospel.
Symptoms of White Magic
The phenomenon of white magic in the church has been on the rise since at least the middle of the last century. Kurt Koch, a Lutheran pastor who died in 1987, did extensive research on the issue of occult practices in the church. He observed:
[quote] White magic is even more widespread than black magic. Christian groups practice this form of magic, oblivious to its demonic character. Magic is a fulfillment of the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:14, that even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. White magic is black magic under a religious disguise. Here are a few examples:
A woman from Bukowina told us that her relatives could heal any type of disease in both animals and human beings merely through using white magic charms. By adding the words “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” to the spell, the sickness would disappear. In spite of a family tradition of church-going, the various spells and charms had been handed down in the family for several generations. Both the woman and her daughter suffer from nervous disturbances. It was for this reason that she had sought the counsel of a minister. Her condition improved after the minister had prayed with her and later she became a convinced Christian. [end quote]
This account includes several indicators of the occult at work. The woman and her daughter, who claimed to be Christians, were mixing the occult with Christian words like, “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” But notice that they suffered from a nervous condition. Although there are many different causes of depression and nervous conditions, some people suffer from depression due to anxiety. That’s when we turn to the Scriptures and learn to put our faith and trust in Christ and His sovereignty. Other people suffer because they don’t get enough sleep, eat a poor diet, or don’t get enough exercise. Another pertinent reason, though, is that they’re dabbling in the occult. In Dr. Koch’s story, the girl’s nervous condition abated only after she became a confessed believer.
I’ve seen the symptoms firsthand. I’ve known nonbelievers who say how much they love going to their yoga classes, and yet, some openly admit to their day-to-day struggle with anxiety, fear, or depression. The danger, of course, exists not just for people who are nonbelievers, but also for people who are self-described believers.
“The Dark Side of Meditation and Mindfulness,” an article in the May 2015 issue of the Daily Mail noted the connection between occult practices and depression:
[quote] Meditation can itself trigger mania, depression, hallucinations, and psychosis, psychological studies in the U.K. and U.S. have found. The practice is part of a growing movement based on the ancient Eastern traditions of meditation. However, 60 percent of people who had been on meditation retreat had suffered at least one negative side effect, including panic, depression, and confusion, a study in the U.S. found.
And 1 in 14 of them suffered profoundly adverse effects according to Miguel Farias, head of the brain, belief, and behavior research group at Coventry University and Catherine Wikhohm, a researcher in clinical psychology at the University of Surrey.
Dr. Farias told The Times, “The assumption of the majority of both TM and mindfulness research is that meditation can only do one good. This shows a rather narrow-minded view.” (emphasis mine) [end quote]
The article went on to say that there needs to be more research into the negative side effects of yoga or TM. And yet many so-called churches offer “Christian yoga” or transcendental meditation classes. Some call it by other names such as contemplative prayer, breath prayers, centering prayers, or soaking prayers, but it’s really transcendental meditation.
Many people do not even realize they’re involved in TM and the like, because the practices hide behind benign-sounding names. But the secret gets even darker. Many New Age websites promote what they call serpent power, and they describe it as something good. It’s a source for achieving a higher awareness in the spiritual realm. Some believe they encounter God with its help. The point is: This is the sort of Satanic philosophy behind white magic.
As I document in Religious Trojan Horse, one of the precursors of modern “Christian” mysticism is Saint Teresa of Ávila. She was a mystic nun in the 1500s who developed the “four levels of prayer.” By the fourth level, she claimed, a devotee was becoming “part of the divine.” Teresa was supposedly seen levitating off the floor at times—a classic occult practice.
One of the most troubling manifestations of modern white magic is not quite so pronounced as St. Teresa’s. What makes it disturbing, though, is its widespread influence. For many years and various reasons, I’ve objected to prayer rallies. I’ve written extensively about them in Religious Trojan Horse, arguing that Christians have no business engaging in spiritual enterprises with non-Christians. Prayer rally platforms too often have Mormons, Roman Catholics, New Apostolic Reformation leaders, and so-called evangelicals joining together to “take back America” or engage in spiritual warfare. The very idea is unbiblical because they are not praying to the Jesus of the Bible.
More recently, my study of white magic has given me another reason to question these prayer rallies. I’ve come to believe that the prayer rallies themselves are a form of white magic. Again, Kurt Koch helps explain why:
[quote] To distinguish between white magic and true laying on of hands is often quite difficult, even when the basic differences are known. In the true prayer of faith, the person concerned submits completely to the will of God. In magic, the idea is to compel God to act.
There’s a tremendous difference between submitting to God’s will and commanding Him to do what you want. Consider, for instance, the admonition in James to call elders together to anoint a sick person with oil. The ailing person could need to repent of sin in his or her life. The sickness might be due to chastisement by God, but not everyone who suffers with some affliction is living in sin. Rather, we live in a sinful, fallen world, and sickness is a result. In either case, the anointing with oil is a sign of submission to whatever God wants to do in the person’s life. [end quote]
That is totally different than what goes on in much of the Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, and evangelicalism today. They believe in a formula: If I do this (anoint with oil), God is compelled to do that (heal). Yet we have no guarantee in most such situations. Nevertheless, many NAR, Word-of-Faithers, and evangelicals practice this sort of formulaic faith and incorporate it into their prayer rallies, all intended to coerce God into providing a happy, good life for you. Again, Koch highlights the problem:
[quote] In the true prayer of faith, the person concerned submits completely to the will of God. In white magic, the idea is to compel God to act. With true prayer, God is really involved, whereas in white magic, the name of God is only used by way of a technical formula.
Genuine prayer is inspired by the Holy Spirit. The white magician is inspired by the powers of darkness. Those who pray, as the Scriptures direct, are strengthened in their faith, even when their prayers are apparently unanswered. [end quote]
Often, the names of Jesus, Christ, the Holy Spirit, God the Father, the Holy Ghost, are used as a mantra or a charm, believing that if we say these things, something will occur. That’s white magic.
Scripture calls us to continue in faith, not being discouraged even when our prayers aren’t answered the way we wish. White magic attempts to turn God into a spiritual butler. He has to serve us if we ask the right way. It’s merely the “Christianized” version of the New Age movement which asserts that Jesus is a force or energy field you can use through the power of your mind.
To highlight the extreme form this can take, note this interchange between Word-of-Faithers Benny Hinn and Myles Munroe on one of their programs:
Hinn—We get the mind of God about His will, we pray it. When we pray it, we give Him legal right to perform it.
Munroe—Yes. Let me define prayer for you in this show. Prayer is man giving God permission or license to interfere in earth’s affairs. In other words, prayer is earthly license for heavenly interference.
Hinn—That’s incredible. That is incredible.
Munroe—God could do nothing on Earth—nothing has God ever done on Earth without a human giving Him access.
Hinn—So, He’s always looking for that somebody.
Munroe—Always looking for a human to give Him power permission. In other words, God has the power, but you got the permission. God got the authority and the power, but you got the license. So, even though God could do anything, He can only do what you permit Him to do.
Sadly, this is not just Word of Faith theology. Many within “evangelicalism” would agree with that. Some of this began with people like Charles Finney. In the Worldview Weekend Situation Room, I offer a video series about Finney called “The Father of So Much That Is Wrong Within Evangelicalism” because he was an early proponent of prayer rallies and using prayer to get God to act. For instance, Finney claimed:
[quote] A revival is not a miracle, according to another definition of the term miracle—something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that and nothing else. When mankind becomes religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert powers which they had before in a different way and use them for the glory of God.
A revival is not a miracle or dependent on a miracle in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means. [end quote]
I beg to differ, of course. True revival or spiritual awakening cannot be conjured up by men harnessing energies within nature. It is a sovereign act of God. True spiritual awakening comes only through the Holy Spirit. All we can do is faithfully preach the Word of God. The Holy Spirit reveals someone’s sin to that person. God may grant repentance to the individual, but all we can do is preach the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit bring awareness and conviction of sin resulting in godly sorrow that produces repentance unto salvation.
The late Iain Murray, another astute scholar and theologian, also weighs in on the problem of prayer rallies: “Too often in the 20th century there has been faith in ‘revival’ where there has been little faith in God Himself.” Many “evangelicals” have faith in their revival meetings, their political activism, or their organizing for prayer. They have enough faith to rent a football stadium for $600,000 and fill it with people, regardless of their theology, even though Scripture repeatedly tells us not to partner with people who do not preach the Jesus of the Bible (see 2 Corinthians 6:14, Romans 16:17, Ephesians 5:11, 2 John 9-11). We are not to give any sense of spiritual solidarity with non-believers. As 2 Corinthians 6:14-15b says, “What fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness? What fellowship does the light have with darkness, the things of God with the things of Ba'al?”
The worlds of Satan and God cannot mix. Yet, here they are, having spiritual enterprises and prayer rallies with all kinds of apostate people. If these people really had faith in God, they would understand He’s sovereign. He’s in control, and we just need to faithfully preach the Gospel. Iain Murray summarizes:
[quote] [The Holy Spirit offers] no promise of an extraordinary giving for any time or circumstance of our own determination, and it is not for us to dictate to God what is His will. Critics of this view do not themselves bring forth texts of Scripture which promise the extraordinary; rather they base their confidence either upon contemporary prediction, which someone has made, or simply upon an impression of their own, which they confidently attribute to the Holy Spirit. Church history is strewn with examples of misplaced hopes of this kind. [end quote]
Even the widely popular Promise Keepers movement was birthed from the same mindset as the prayer rally formula. Promise Keepers was the fulfillment of prophecies from the Kansas City Prophets of the 1980s. They prophesied that football stadiums would be filled around the country and revival would break out. These Kansas City false prophets were forerunners of the New Apostolic Reformation and the International House of Prayer founded by Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, and others in the Kansas City Prophet movement. But just as Iain Murray said, they have no scriptural basis for what they’re doing at all. They operate only on the “impression” or “leading” toward what God would have them do. By contrast, 1 John 5:14 explains the outcome of biblical prayer: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears it.”
He hears it, yes, but there’s no guarantee about the answer. The prayer may not be His will. We can have the confidence that He hears our petitions, but we must leave the answers to Him.
How many times have you prayed for something and days, weeks, months later, or perhaps even years later, you look back and you think, “Oh, Lord, thank You so much for not answering that prayer!” I know I have many times. In my heart, I really wanted what I had prayed for, and yet later I realize what a mess it would have been if I had received what I had asked for. I’m thankful God has chosen not to give me what I requested on many occasions. In His wisdom, He spared me from my own sinful, prideful, or ill-placed desires. That’s His providential grace at work.
Lest you think this wrong-headed approach to prayer is not a problem for mainstream evangelicals, you’ll want to consider the underpinnings of the National Day of Prayer. The website has said:
[quote] Why pray? We need to pray, because it is necessary for men to invite God to act in salvation. God gave the Earth to Adam and his descendants. We must invite God to work here. If no one invites God to work here, Satan, the god of this world, through man’s universal rebellion, will dominate the affairs of men and eventually the judgment of God will come. By inviting God often, . . . multitudes can be saved that would otherwise be lost. [end quote]
We can certainly pray for the Holy Spirit to convict someone of sin. We can ask, for instance, “Lord, please, have Your Holy Spirit reveal to them their sinfulness, their depravity, their sinful state,” but that’s different than praying because God will not act to save someone otherwise. Many people have been led to Christ without anyone praying for them, simply because they were given the truth of the Gospel in written form. I know of a young Muslim man who received a Bible in the Middle East. Although his father was a high-ranking Muslim, the son received a New Testament on the street one day, and even without anyone praying specifically for him, the young man began to read it, and the Holy Spirit convicted him. God opened his eyes to understand what he was reading, and, grasping the truth of the Gospel, he repented of his sins, placed his faith and trust in Christ, rejected the false teaching of Islam, and is now a Christian. Since then, he has also become a pastor.
Who does the National Day of Prayer organization think we are to say that we must invite God to do what God wants? God is sovereign. He has total rule and authority. He does not need our invitation or our permission.
Furthermore, Satan may be the god of this world, but he’s on a leash. God is supreme. Satan can only do what God allows him to do, and He is allowing him to do only what ultimately serves God’s sovereign plan. Daniel 2:44 assures us that God’s kingdom will come, and He will crush Satan’s kingdom. This is not going to happen because we have “invited God to act.” Even if our prayers are lacking, the world is not in danger that Satan will take final dominion. God’s judgment will come simply because it is God’s will.
We do not accomplish God’s dominion through prayer rallies, despite what the National Day of Prayer website would have you believe. The National Day of Prayer also represents the clearest example of people involving themselves with one another in spiritual enterprises when they shouldn’t. Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, appeared in 2008 on the Hour of Power with Robert Schuller in her capacity as chairperson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. It’s bad enough that she would share the platform with a false teacher like Schuller, but at the conclusion of her appearance, she said to him, “Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Schuller. God bless you and the good work you’re doing here.” It’s remarkable that she would characterize Schuller’s ministry as “good work.”
Years ago, I interviewed Robert Schuller about his book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, but he became frustrated with me because he could not provide adequate scriptural backing for his ideas and wanted to curtail the interview. The book promotes typical shamanistic, Word of Faith, name-it-and-claim-it, power-of-your-mind-to-create white magic. It’s the same sort of positive confession occultism wrapped in Christian terms that has been taught by people before him such as Norman Vincent Peale and others. Here’s an example of Schuller’s thinking:
[quote] A variety of approaches to meditation is employed by many different religions, as well as by various non-religious mind control systems in all forms: TM, Zen, Buddhism, or Yoga or meditation of Judeo-Christian tradition. The mediator endeavors to overcome the distractions of the conscious mind. It is important to remember that meditation in any form is the harnessing, by human means, of God’s divine laws. We are endowed with a great many powers and forces that we do not yet fully understand. The most effective mantras employ the M sound. You get the feel of it by repeating the words I am, I am, many times over. Transcendental Meditation, or TM, is not religion, nor is it necessarily anti-Christian. [end quote]
Not necessarily anti-Christian? Even though it is Eastern mysticism?
If people who should know better—like Shirley Dobson—want God to bless America and to send true biblical revival, then they should start by obeying God’s Word not to be involved in spiritual enterprises with false teachers. False teachers should not receive affirmations like, “Thank you for your good work.” People like Dobson should stay away from television programs of people like Schuller, and by all means, their organization websites should not promote unbiblical theology that redefines Jesus as something the Bible declares He’s not.
Many people within evangelicalism are not the cure for America’s problems. Rather, they’re part of the curse. Not only will they not bring the cure, they are actually part of the judgment of God. False teaching is part of God’s judgment on our nation.
Awakened by Magic
In Jesus’ teaching in Luke 18:8, Jesus asks the question, “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” We know that, in the end, there will be a Great Apostasy in which those who call themselves followers of God will be practicing occultism and white magic. So, Jesus’ question is a warning that we not fall victim to false teaching. Yet we see falsehoods in the Church picking up steam today. People wrongly believe their actions, spiritual exercises, and prayer rallies can compel God to act. This approach positions God as an agent of men, a wildly unbiblical concept that is a form of white magic.
On my September 14, 2010 radio show, I predicted that soon the worldviews of the New Apostolic Reformation and New Age Mormon Glenn Beck would merge. I knew this was coming simply because most false teachers eventually merge with one another. They have no real boundaries for their beliefs since they misuse Scripture for their own ends. This has happened time and time again, so you can be sure that an astounding syncretism will arise as the religious Reich or kingdom of Antichrist develops. As shocking as it may seem, this sort of syncretism will be heralded as a great revival.
The progress in this direction is also shocking. To mark the fifth anniversary of his 08-28-2010 rally in Washington, D.C., Glenn Beck held an 8-28-15 rally in Birmingham, Alabama. He called it “Restoring Unity.” This time, the event was actually co-sponsored by New Apostolic Reformation proponent Jim Lowe, pastor of Birmingham’s Guiding Light Church. A revealing part of his background is that he was ordained through a charismatic group fostered by the late Earl Paulk at The Cathedral of Decatur, Georgia, Paulk’s home church. In Religious Trojan Horse, I write extensively about Paulk’s influence. He was one of the most radical of the Word of Faith/New Apostolic Reformation leaders. Paulk promoted the Manifested Sons of God theology, also called Omega Children, Joel’s Army, or Overcoming Bride. None if it is mainstream charismatic teaching.
Jewel Grewe, wife of an Assembly of God pastor, began researching the Manifested Sons of God theology in the early 1980s because she and her husband, like many within the Assemblies of God, became concerned when the Manifested Sons of od heresy showed up in AoG churches. In 1991, Grewe released “Joel’s Army,” a report that is even more relevant today than when it was released. She correctly identifies several key problems of the Manifested Sons of God:
Paulk, who died in 2009, explained the Manifested Sons of God theology this way:
[quote] Jesus Christ has now done all He can do, and He waits at the right hand of His Father until you and I are sons of God, become manifest, and make this world His footstool. He is waiting for us to say, “Jesus, we have made the kingdoms of this world the kingdom of our God, and we are ruling and reigning in your world. Even so, come Lord Jesus.” [end quote]
Paulk takes this position despite Jesus saying that His kingdom is not of this world. John 18:36 points out that if it were, His disciples would fight to keep Him from being turned over to the Jews.
We don’t build God’s kingdom in the natural realm; we build it in the spiritual realm as we preach the Gospel and as the Holy Spirit reveals people’s sinfulness to them, bringing about godly sorrow that produces repentance unto salvation. Jesus brings God’s kingdom.
In Earl Paulk’s view, the world’s religions need to unite—including Protestants, Pentecostals, evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons. So when Glenn Beck, a Mormon, joined with Jim Lowe in Birmingham, Paulk’s vision began to take shape. Even the “evangelical” side was represented at the event by David Barton of Wall Builders. Paulk doubtless would have been pleased in that the ecumenical strategy he proposed was developing so well. Paulk once envisioned it this way:
[quote] What would a meeting be like which brought together liberal Evangelicals such as we are, conservative theologians represented by holiness groups and Southern Baptists, and Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? . . .
Many of these groups have become so different that we almost regard them as enemies rather than as brothers and sisters in the faith. How can we step over these walls that have been built so high? . . .
It is my honest opinion that the kingdom of God cannot come to pass until we all come to the unity of the faith. [end quote]
We cannot say God is pleased with spiritual events that invoke His name, the Holy Spirit, or Jesus Christ, when those doing so unite with people who preach another Jesus and another Gospel. Second John 9-11 warns us not to greet anyone who teaches anything other than the core Christian doctrines. Similarly, Romans 16:17 tells us to “mark those who cause division doctrinally and avoid them.” And 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 specifically promises that God will bless Christians who do not participate in spiritual enterprises with those preaching false doctrine.
So, many prayer rallies that invoke the name of Jesus, that talk about bringing about a great spiritual awakening are joining in an awakening of white magic, not of faith in the Gospel. The fact is, we’re not all children of God.
After the Birmingham event, Glenn Beck described a conversation between him and David Barton on the plane, returning from the event. The two agreed that the Third Great Awakening had begun. I agree that there’s an awakening taking place, but it is an awakening of pagan spirituality sweeping the world. God has given the world over to it in the way Romans 1 describes.
This “awakening” is also a great falling away from traditionally-held biblical truths. Scripture says this will happen and that it will climax in the Great Apostasy during the Tribulation.
There can be no biblical awakening when people contradict the Word of God by being involved in misguided spiritual enterprises. Yet this is what Glenn Beck said in an interview about his and Barton’s assessment:
Beck—The people that were there, when we went into the coliseum, the arena, and that was electric. I heard from so many people—I don’t know if you guys heard this or felt this—but the people I talked to that had gone to all of our events said by far this was the most impactful event we have ever done.
Interviewer—I heard that many times.
Beck— I think this is—I think we are at the beginning. I was—I flew back with David Barton yesterday, and David said, just matter-of-factly, he said, “We’re in the Awakening.”
And I said—I leaned up and I said, “Wait a minute. Hold on. What did you just say?”
And he said, “We’re in the Awakening.”
And I said, “The Third Great Awakening?”
And he said, “Oh, yeah. I truly believe it’s happening now.”
That’s great. That is great. He is—he’s the one who told me about the Great Awakening. It’s like we need the Great Awakening to happen. And there—we had people from all different faiths walking together.
Beck—But we had people from all different faiths. One of the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention was there. Leaders from all different churches were there, pastors, priests.
Their contention shows up elsewhere as well. A Wall Builders email alert encouraged people to “join David Barton and Glenn Beck in honoring those who protect and serve. . . . A call to unity in prayer. Glenn Beck and David Barton.” Yet true believers cannot unite in prayer with people who are New Age Mormons like Glenn Beck.
The Magic of Attraction
The confluence of false teaching is also fostered by Word of Faith teachers who approve a blatantly New Age concept called the Law of Attraction. Similar to name-it-and-claim-it doctrine, it promises that our words have the power to create. We don’t have any such power, of course, and Jesus specifically warns that in the last days this sort of activity will greatly increase. In Matthew 24:10-11, He says, “But then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
People today who claim to be apostles are really false prophets. We see an increase in false prophets because we are nearing the period that eventually ushers in the Second Coming.
Even in the Old Testament, the children of Israel were warned against involvement with false prophets. Deuteronomy 18:20-22 proclaims:
[quote] But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, “How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?”—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. [end quote]
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 offers similar guidance:
[quote] If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods” —which you have not known—“and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [end quote]
There are no big “A” Apostles today with the power and authority of the original 12. We have little “a” apostles in the sense of messengers, sent ones, or missionaries, but none in the New Testament sense. That means we also don’t have prophets, because the New Testament prophets were subject to the apostles.
False teachers and prophets can actually be a test from God to see whether we really love Him or are just going after the next exciting thing. Better to run from them. As Jesus said:
[quote] Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” [end quote]
And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Another word for lawlessness in this context is iniquity—“You who practice iniquity.” Even though these false prophets claim power to cast out demons and prophesy, they’re fake. Some of their work is demonically inspired, but they will be given their just reward—cast out into the darkness, where there’s gnashing of teeth.
Spelling Out a Warning
While many false prophets claim to be speaking for Jesus, they’re actually in touch with the demonic spiritual realm. Demons stand ready to take on the role of whatever someone is praying to—whether a god, an idol, or even a false Jesus. Leviticus 19:31 cautions us to “give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” Likewise, Deuteronomy 18:10-12 commands that “there shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist.”
I actually have a video of someone claiming a visit from Jesus. The person describes what happened: “Jesus appeared to me. Jesus came into the room and He hugged me, and He put His arms around me.” Yet, the Bible says that’s not how we interact with the Lord. We interact with the Lord through the study of His Word, and He speaks to us through His Word. He doesn’t just show up for conversation. Deuteronomy 18:12 says that “all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord.” This warning to Israel applies to us as well. We are not to fool around with the demonic realm.
The New Testament epistles repeat these same warnings, cautioning believers not to be taken in by Gnosticism, a virulent heresy of the time. It included the worship of angels and the belief that people should be communicating with angels. Galatians 5:19-21 explains the problem: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery” (emphasis mine). Sorcery results from magical, demonic powers.
Many “evangelicals” are involved in a form of sorcery by claiming to have special spiritual powers. They may not use terms like charms or magical powers, but they claim that their words have the power to create. Some are duped in other ways. After Oprah Winfrey and her New Age followers promoted Rhonda Byrne’s best-selling book The Secret, some so-called evangelicals responded by producing a video called Beyond the Source of the Secret. The book proclaimed that a person’s words have the power to attract good things to you via the Law of Attraction. It’s also known as “positive confession” by which you can tap into certain energies and make things come true. God is a force or energy field that we can use to our advantage through the power of the mind. Yet the evangelical producers of the follow-up movie argued that the book didn’t go far enough, and point to God as the source of “the secret.” It’s remarkable that they attributed New Age teachings to God. New Age mysticism teaches that God is a force or energy field, not the Sovereign of the universe. So they Christianized it by wrapping verses around it out of context. This is the epitome of white magic.
Christians do sin, but we are not involved in ongoing sin. We have moments where we do righteous, godly things, and throughout the day, we meditate on Scripture, pray, are convicted of sin, a wrong attitude or thought, or a wrong motive. Then we stop because we’re convicted. That’s walking in faithfulness and obedience. True believers live more in obedience than disobedience.
In Galatians 5, Paul gives evidence of the works of the flesh, and sorcery is among them. This is where many “evangelicals” fall into attributing the work of Satan to the Holy Spirit. Often the things they say they’ve been told by “Jesus” turn out not to be true. Some of them are talking to demons while others are just making this stuff up. It’s a mixture of shenanigans and demonic activity. And their idea of creating things with their words is tantamount to a charm. It’s sorcery. And look what comes out of it:
[quote] “hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:20-21) [end quote]
Revelation 21:8 reveals the ultimate end of such people:
[quote] But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire, which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. [end quote]
Oftentimes people engage in occult or demonic activities, but some of it is trickery or tomfoolery. Some false teachers do this. They make things up. They never saw anyone raised from the dead. No one reversed a woman’s hysterectomy over the television, as Cindy Jacobs claims. They’ve never multiplied food. Other things derive from the occult, and Satan is actually working these “miracles.” God allows Satan to act, but he’s on a leash. So, some of the manifestations, counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders are, indeed, demonic. A commentary by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown relates this sort of contemporary activity with the Pharaoh’s sorcerers in Exodus 7:
[quote] The magicians of Egypt in modern times have long been celebrated adepts in charming serpents; and particularly by pressing the nape of the neck they throw them into a kind of trance which renders them stiff and immoveable, thus seeming to change them into a rod. They conceal the serpent about their person, and by acts of trickery[they] produce it from their dress, stiff and straight as a rod. [end quote]
The Egyptian sorcerers were not demonically empowered. What they did was tomfoolery. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown also point out:
[quote] The idea that a skilled magician could use a snake in such a way is no novel concept in the world of magic tricks. Walter Gibson, in his book Secrets of Magic, states that there is a certain type of snake that can be made motionless by applying pressure just below its head. Gibson also notes that the particular species of snake suitable for this stunt happens to be the naja haje (or haja), otherwise known as the Egyptian Cobra. [end quote]
We should not be particularly surprised at what we see around us. Second Timothy 3:1-9 warns that we will see such things as the last days approach:
[quote] But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. [end quote]
Notice that he says these people will have a form of godliness. They talk Christian and perhaps even call themselves “pastor” or “reverend.” They name the name of Christ and hold up their Bibles. They love their titles but reject the Gospel. They deny its power.
Isn’t that what we see much of evangelicalism doing? It retains a form of godliness yet rejects the Gospel. This is what Paul says to do with people like that:
[quote] And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins led away by various lusts, always learning [but] never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. [end quote]
You’ve seen the false teachers on television who take advantage of people, especially women in distress. Perhaps their husbands have left them or they are widows, and they’ve got serious financial problems. False teachers love to prey on such women, promising them monetary rewards if they will give first to the television “ministry.”
These people are so deluded that they don’t know the truth. They devour man-centered knowledge, Gnosticism, acquiring higher knowledge, but they never come to the knowledge of the real truth. The reference to Jannes and Jambres is significant in this regard. Many scholars believe they are sorcerers, similar to the Egyptians in Exodus 7. They use their tricks to resist those who preach the truth.
Eventually, these folks will be revealed for what they are. Meanwhile, we need to be on the lookout. Second Corinthians 11:13-15 points out why we need to be on our toes:
[quote] For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. [end quote]
Although it may shock you to think people on television would claim to speak for God while promoting occultism wrapped in Christian phrases, you really shouldn’t be. After all, Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
The “angel of light” deceit also applies to some who are not evangelicals. Consider the Pope. He wears a long, flowing, white gown, and a big cross. He looks like an angel of light, and he’s involved in all kinds of religious activities. He exhibits a form of godliness while denying the power of the Gospel. The Pope teaches a different Jesus through the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation in which Jesus is slaughtered over and over again. The Pope also believes he can forgive sins and that Mary is a co-Redeemer. In the end, the folly of these people will be revealed. As 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 points out:
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.
The stage is being set for the world to embrace white magic of all kinds. People will embrace the doctrines of demons and ultimately the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition, the one-world religious leader who will be eventually possessed by Satan himself. He will, of course, appear to be good and will perform counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders.
The Pope is an example of how this can work. By the time he visited America in 2015, people talked about him almost as if he were God. They call him “Holy Father” and turn out by the millions to see him. If that can occur in just a few years, how quickly will a man be embraced on a global scale who uses Christian terms, takes Scripture out of context, claims to follow the God of the Bible, and is involved in white magic? I fear it will happen very, very quickly. The Antichrist will be accepted on a global scale.
In his book Between Christ and Satan, Kurt Koch offered a revealing story about how this sort of acceptance begins at a “grass roots” level:
Two Seiler brothers in Ottenheim, Baden, run a nonprofessional medical practice. One of the brothers puts himself into a trance and in this state is able to identify the diseases of the patients.
Koch explains that these doctors were often right in their diagnoses—because they were dealing with the demonic realm. Koch also documents the phenomenon in the Roman Catholic Church:
In Alsace, a Catholic priest heals by magic. His nickname is Father Slipper. The reason behind this is that all those who desire his help must send him one of their slippers. Through concentrating on the slippers he can discover what is wrong with the people.
This, of course, is white magic—performed by a Catholic priest! The idea of a Catholic priest saying, “Send me a slipper, and I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you,” is little different than the Word of Faith preacher who says, “Send me 20 bucks, and I’ll send you a blessed handkerchief.”
Even if such things begin as tomfoolery, sometimes demons get involved and start “helping” in order to deceive people. Wherever it starts, you need to recognize it for what it is and eliminate any evangelical white magic from your life.
Copyright 2015 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.