Posts Tagged ‘Charismatic Theology’

A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think

By David Schrock

While evangelicals have traditionally decried the prosperity gospel in its “hard” form, there is a softer form of this teaching that is all too common among us.[1] Often undetected by Bible-believing Christians, it assumes the gospel and leads its adherents to focus on things like financial planning, diet and exercise, and strategies for self-improvement. In contrast to the hard prosperity gospel, which offers miraculous and immediate health and wealth, this softer, subtler variety challenges believers to break through to the blessed life by means of the latest pastor-prescribed technique.

Of course, matters of personal stewardship such as money, health, and leadership skills should be woven into a whole-Bible theology of Christian discipleship. The trouble comes when Christians, and especially pastors, place greater emphasis on these secondary matters. What we choose to preach or listen to says much about what we value. And what I see among some evangelicals is a willingness to prioritize the lesser matters of the law over the weightier mercies of the gospel.




Read the entire article here.

Does an Independent Minister have a right to preach what he so desires? Pt 3

In my first installment of this article I discussed leadership within the church. I then went into some of the doctrinal differences I had between myself and the Charismatic congregation headed up by Otis Graves. These doctrinal differences were not something that was a struggle between Otis and myself per se, but were doctrinal differences that represented the struggle between true Biblical Christianity and pseudo-Christianity.

My second article covered the topic of using a proper methodology when it comes to interpreting scripture. I discussed some basic principles of how we are to approach scripture. These principles are essential tools to proper understanding of the scripture. Without these basic principles we will all misinterpret scripture all the time.

In this portion of my post I want to examine the concept of whether the early churches were independent churches and if so were they free to preach whatsoever they desired or were they commanded to preach the word of God as the apostles established, nurtured, or guided them?

As we look at the New Testament we see that the apostles and certain evangelist went into many different areas and founded churches. After founding these churches the apostles particularly Paul, sent men back, such as Timothy and Titus, in order to ordain men to oversee these congregations. These congregations could have been called independent churches because there was no governing body over these congregations.

It is true that the early apostles held a council in order to examine more closely certain issues. Upon holding this council a letter was drawn up and sent to the Gentile churches. This letter gave basic rules of how to conduct oneself as a Christian. Paul later went back and wrote too many of these Gentile Christians and gave them a fuller explanation on what it meant to be a Christian and how to live as a Christian. Yet my main point here is to state that no where any command was given that would suggest that all the Gentile congregations were in some kind of denomination or had some kind of governing body over them, except for the local elders ordained within each congregation.

I have labored all of this to state that my opponent ‘The Teacher’ told me that an independent preacher could preach what he so desired. Drawing from this statement it is clear that he was stating that since Otis Graves was not in a denomination, then he does not have to teach what any particular denomination teaches, but is free to teach what he so desires. I admit that Otis does not have to teach what a denomination teaches; nevertheless he is not free from what is commanded in scripture.

It is clear in scripture that Paul gave Timothy the express command that he should preach the word while reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with all long suffering and doctrine because the time was coming when men will not endure sound doctrine but will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears and will turn their ears away from the truth. Paul told Titus that he is to ordain those into the elder-ship who hold fast the faithful word as they have been taught that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

My opponents, the ‘Teacher’ and Mr. Otis Graves will state that they do teach sound doctrines. They will proclaim that they are teaching the word. Yet I will state that they do not teach the word. When they pull a scripture out of context and make it say what they choose to, then they have distorted the word. When they preach moralistic sermons and call upon their congregations to quit sinning so that they will make it into heaven, then they are not preaching the word.

Matters of fact, when they preach any other thing than justification by faith alone, then they are preaching another gospel. There congregations are receiving another Jesus. Their Jesus is one who aides the individual in being justified by becoming sanctified. This is Roman Catholicism in a nut shell.

When someone knows not the difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, then it is time that they take a seat until they be taught the word of God. They may argue that God called them and placed them where they are at, but that is debatable. God does not call ignorant and unlearned men into pulpit ministries. God expects ministers to study to show themselves approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.

So again my challenge goes out for the ‘Teacher’ and Mr. Otis Graves to prove me wrong in what I have written. I call on them to refute these charges. I call on them to refute my doctrines. I hold to the 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith as being an expression of what I believe that the scriptures teach. My side bar to my blog contains a link to a Pdf version of this confession.

As I close I want to say that the reason American Evangelicalism is in a dung heap is because we have men in our pulpits that know no theology, no church history, have no stable doctrines, and believe in a creed less Christianity. God’s word states that it is through the foolishness of preaching that saves those which believe. But in an age when everything is being preached under the sun, except for Christ and him crucified, then it is little wonder that we are seeing few saved. It is little wonder that society is degenerating into an immoral heap.

God help us.

Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.

Footnote: I did not plan for the quote by Thomas Watson on “Heresy Will Send one to Hell” to go out with this article, but I couldn’t have asked for a better quote for this article.

Read Pt 1 of this article here

Read Pt 2 of this article here

Does an Independent Minister have a right to preach what he so desires? Pt 2

Last week I began a post discussing two Charismatic Pastors, of which I know personally. The first Charismatic I called ‘The Teacher’ and the second Pastor’s name is Otis Graves. Before I begin my post concerning these two individuals I want to lay down a few things concerning examining other ministers.

I realize that what I proclaim from this blog is not popular in today’s church world. Many think that it is condescending or critical to examine a Charismatic’s doctrines. They think that you are being unloving because you examine what Charismatics have preached from the pulpit. The reason that I know that these things are unpopular is because I can get almost a hundred views on these post and not one person will comment. If I were spreading the doctrines that the Charismatics do, then my comment section would fill up.

I want to say from the beginning that it is not unloving to examine what another minister states from the pulpit, over the radio, or through the television screen. I happen to believe that it is unloving to stay silent if you hear something that is unscriptural and do not speak out against it. Paul told the elders atEphesusin Acts 20:28-30 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed thechurchofGod, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after themselves.

The reason men like Harold Camping can gather disciples around him are because people have remained silent. They fear persecution and do not want to live a life of being shunned or spoken evil against. I am not going to be unloving when I examine other ministers’ doctrines, but I also will not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. I will not shun being persecuted by remaining silent concerning the truth of God’s word. Therefore I will not be silent concerning the doctrines of the ‘Teacher’ nor Otis Graves.

One thing I will commend Otis Graves for is that he is not like the ‘Teacher’; he has refrained from putting his sermons on audio. This is because he contradicts himself so much that if someone went back and listened to his sermon from last week, then they would catch him saying something entirely different this week. Though he doesn’t record his sermons on to audio, nevertheless when I was under his ministry I wrote down some of the stuff he stated from the pulpit.

For instance, onAugust 31, 2008Otis Graves made the statement, “that whosoever Jesus sets free is free indeed, but not entirely. Once Jesus sets us free, then we must go on and set ourselves free from things that Jesus did not free us from.” Otis was actually saying that Jesus is not enough and we need something more. This teaching denies the Reformation principle of ‘soli Christo’ or Christ Alone. This teaching also is a distorted interpretation of John 8.  A more fitting interpretation would be: The Jews believed that they were not in bondage, but Jesus goes on to explain to them that if they commit sin (and we all do) then they are the servants of sin. In other words they are slaves to sin. Jesus tells them that if he makes them free, they shall be free. In other words if they become his disciples, then they will no longer be a slave to sin.

This leads me to my next point and that is that we have no right to twist or distort the scriptures to fit our doctrines. I am not going to defend the Roman Catholic Church, but to its credit I will say that they warned Luther against putting the scriptures into the hands of ignorant and unlearned men. They told Luther that if the scriptures were translated into the common language of the people that a flood gate of sin would come out of it. They told him that the church would begin to split and splinter into all kinds of different denominations. This is because that unlearned men will not take and interpret scripture according to the tradition of the Church. Luther responded by saying that he knew that if he put the scriptures in the hands of ignorant and unlearned men, that it would open a flood gate of iniquity, but nevertheless every person ought to have the scriptures to read for themselves.

So the Reformation opened the door for private interpretation. But just because we have the right to interpret scripture privately does not mean that we have the right to distort scripture. The Reformers taught what is known as the perspicuity of scripture or that the scriptures are so plain that even a child could understand it. This doctrine does not teach that scripture is plain in every place, but it teaches that the doctrines that are essential to salvation are so clear that even a child could find his was to Christ by reading them.

The main point I want to focus on today is the principles of a proper methodology. In other words, Mr. ‘Teacher’ and Mr. Otis Graves, it is unreasonable to expect that everyone will agree on the exact interpretation of every scripture, but we should agree on the fundamental approach to biblical interpretation. In other words we ought to be using the same methods on how to interpret scripture. There is a difference between an occasional misinterpretation and unacceptable methods of biblical interpretation. The former is common to us all and the latter no one should be guilty of holding to.

Had you two studied you would have realized that the church has developed a method of interpretation that makes everyone approach the scriptures the same way. The church developed a science of interpretation known as ‘hermeneutics.’ Hermeneutics is the science and art of interpretation. Holding to a proper hermeneutic will keep us from falling into much error when we interpret scripture. (I challenge both of you to go to my web site and click my Hermeneutics page link and study up on this principle.)

Many today claim to hold to a literal interpretation of scripture, but what they are talking about has nothing to do with proper interpretation. In other words they believe that if the Bible plainly says something, then we can take that something and use it anyway we want to. This is not literal interpretation. The word literal comes from the Latin word ‘literalis’ and means the literature in which it was written. In other words, to use the literal interpretation method means that we are to interpret scripture according to the literature in which it was written.

Scripture is written in many forms of literature, some of which are: poetry, proverbs, narrative, didactic, apocalyptic and so forth. We are never to take narrative scriptures and make doctrines out of them because they are giving us a story of what happened and not trying to teach us what we should or should not do. For instance Charismatics are big on using the book of Acts to build their doctrines on, but the book of Acts is recording events that happened within history and not trying to teach us doctrines. There may be doctrine within the book, but it is still a history record. We are to only use the didactic or the instructional material of scripture to build our doctrines on.

While the Bible is filled with many types of literature it also uses many forms of speech within that literature. The Bible uses hyperbole, simile, symbolic, irony, sarcasm, metaphor, parallelism, synonymous parallelism, metonymy, personification, anthropomorphisms, anthropopathisms, and many more. The Bible also uses types and shadows to convey its message. So without a properly working hermeneutic we all would misinterpret scripture all the time.

I want to say one more thing before I close this post. I want to tell the ‘Teacher’ and Mr. Otis Graves that there is only one interpretation to every scripture in the Bible. In other words the writer was writing to a specific audience of his day and meant a specific thing when he wrote what he did. Therefore we should try to understand the Bible in its grammatical-historical-redemptive setting. In other words we are to interpret a scripture according to the grammar it was written in, according to the historical setting of which it was written, and according to the redemptive plan of God in history.

No one reads a newspaper, magazine, book, or any other piece of literature any different than what I have described. If we ripped a sentence out of a newspaper article, then we could make it say whatever we wanted it to. We must understand it within the author’s original intent and within the context of what has been said around it. We are then to take it and apply it to today. Though there is only one true interpretation of every scripture, nevertheless there may be many applications to that scripture. In other words we may be able to apply that scripture to many of today’s problems and so forth, but we should only do that after we have understood that scripture within the author’s original meaning.

So I am calling on both of you to study the science of hermeneutics. We may misinterpret a scripture from time to time, but your methods of approaching scripture are unacceptable and lead to distortion.

I will close for now and come back later and finish some more on this article.


Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.

Does an Independent Minister have a right to preach what he so desires? Pt 1

The other day I had an interesting discussion with a Pastor. This Pastor tried his best to defend the right of women preaching from the pulpit. As our conversation turned we went on to discuss a Pastor I sat under in the lastCharismaticChurchthat I attended. For sake of clarity we will call the first Pastor ‘The Teacher.'(1) The second Pastor’s real name is Otis Graves. (2) The ‘Teacher’ also knows Otis Graves personally and has attended church with him; long before either man became Pastors.

First I want to say that it is not unfair of me to examine both of these men. I am commanded in scripture to test all things and to try every spirit because many false prophets have gone out into the world 1 Thess. 5:21; 1 John 4:1. Secondly I will say that if a man puts himself into the spotlight, by stepping into the pulpit, then he is open to critique and his doctrines are open to critique. Concerning Paul the Apostles trip toBerea, the scriptures declare, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” Act 17:11. In other words the Bereans did not just take Paul’s word as the final say so, but instead searched the Old Testament scriptures to see if Paul was right in what he said.

Having clarified my right to examine a minister’s doctrines I will go on to say that both of these men, ‘The Teacher’ and Mr. Otis Graves are Charismatics. Both are Pastors of small independent churches. Both believe it to be alright for women to preach from the Pulpit. ‘The Teacher’ actually has named his wife as his Assistant Pastor. Mr. Otis Graves on the other hand believes it to be alright for women to preach, but not to Pastor.

In my conversation with ‘The Teacher’ a comment was made by him that showed the heretical views of Charismatics. In this conversation he actually told me that since Otis Graves was an Independent Church Pastor, then he can preach what he wants to. By saying this, he was also pointing to himself and stating that he could preach what he wanted to because he is an independent Pastor.

Therefore my first question is this: Can an independent Pastor preach what he wants to? The answer to this question is, yes. People can preach what they want to preach inAmericabecause we have no laws governing what can be preached from the pulpits. Matter of fact people do not have to even be called of God or can claim they are and make up their own religions as Joseph Smith and Charles Taze Russell have done. (For those who don’t know it: Joseph Smith founded Mormonism and Charles Taze Russell founded the Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

My second question is this: Does a minister have the right, according to scripture, to preach what he wants to. The answer is: No, he does not. A Pastor is God’s spoke person or is to speak on behalf of God. He is not to make up new doctrines, but is to be faithful to the written word of God. Paul told Titus to ordain elders in every city and their qualifications were that they were to hold fast the faithful word as they have been taught that they may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers Titus 1:9.

This is what is missing from Charismatic Churches. They hold to extra-Biblical revelations and claim that God has spoken to them or that prophets are getting a new word from the Lord. If Prophets are getting a new word from the Lord, then the scriptures are still being written. Since whatever God says is authoritative, then the so-called new words or prophecies from God would be on the same level as scripture. The reason Charismatics have no sound doctrines and one can believe it to be alright for women to Pastor, but the other Charismatic only believe it to be alright for them to preach, is because both have went beyond scripture.

‘The Teacher’ actually told me that Paul had surrounded himself by women preachers. I have searched the scriptures and cannot find any place where Paul surrounded himself by women preachers. When Paul went on his missionary journeys, he went with other men. Barnabas, Mark, Luke and Silas were Paul’s companions. Also when Paul went toJerusalemto discuss the question of whether or not the Gentiles should be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses, we see that an assembly convened together on this matter, but only the elders spoke. All the elders were men. There are no places in scripture where women were put into places of authority.

From Genesis to Revelation we see men being used by God to lead. There was only one case where a woman might have been used to lead God’s people and this was in the case of Deborah, Judges 4:4. In this special instance Deborah actually called on Barak and told him that God had commanded him to go fight. Deborah leading God’s people was not God’s revealed will, though it was his sovereign effective will, because it came to pass. In other words God gave specific instructions from Genesis to Revelation concerning who is to be over his people, the services of God, and the congregation. God always chose men. When Jesus chose disciples, he chose men. When Paul commanded Timothy and Titus to ordain elders in every city, they chose men because Paul gave them the qualifications that only a man could meet.

Paul also gave three reasons why a woman is not to usurp authority over a man or teach, but to be silent in the churches. First, Paul stated that this command is rooted in creation, when he said that Adam was first formed and then Eve. Secondly, Eve was in the transgression because she was deceived. The sin nature passes from man to his children because Adam willfully ate of the tree. He was not deceived. Finally Paul said that a woman is to be silent in the churches because the law also commanded this 1 Tim 2:13-14; 1 Cor. 14:34. After Paul gets through telling the Corinthians, in 1 Cor. 14:34, that women are to be silent in the church, he goes on to tell them that the things of which he writes are the commandments of the Lord 1 Cor. 14:36. Many people speak of keeping the commandments of the Old Testament, but break those of the New.

Now I want to turn the subject from leadership to right doctrine. I was the Assistant Pastor under Otis Graves and was voted in by the people. I preached and taught Reformed Theology the last 4 years that I was under Otis. Reformed Theology is the true Biblical doctrines of the faith. At the time I was teaching word for word through the book of Romans or expositionally teaching and preaching the book of Romans. I have witnesses that heard Otis’ wife stand a few weeks before I was asked to leave and proclaim that she thanked God that I had been teaching through the book of Romans because what I was proclaiming was the truth of God’s word. Otis himself called me to the office secretly and told me that he was having me to step down. He told me that what I was preaching and teaching was the truth, but as long as I was there he could not teach that healing is in the atonement according to 1 Peter 2:24.

The fact of the matter is I had exegeted 1 Peter 2:24 from the pulpit a several months earlier. (3) I had showed that this scripture is not teaching that healing is in the atonement, but that our spiritual healing is in the atonement. All through the New Testament we are told that Christ Jesus died for sins. We are never told as Charismatics teach that Jesus died for our health, for our healing, or any other thing. We are sick because Adam sinned. Sickness is the result of sin. Jesus died for sins, but as long as we are in this body we will continue to get sick and die because the redemption of our bodies are not to take place at the present moment and the last enemy to be destroyed is death.

The reason I was asked to leave was because Otis Graves has many views that are not scriptural. As I proclaimed the Biblical doctrines of the Reformation they would bump into or condemn his false views. For instance, I heard him preach that people could walk in health if they obey God. He preached moralistic sermons or sermons that proclaimed that you can overcome what your in if you abstain from sin. His conflict against me had been building because everything that he had ever been taught was being demolished through my clear exposition of the scriptures. I gave him some material on Arminianism and he brought it back lamenting that he did not realize that he had been teaching these false principles until now. This is what happens when a man steps into a pulpit with no knowledge of what the universal church has condemned as heretical.

Otis Graves would not baptize because he took Paul’s words out of context. He proclaimed that Christ had not sent him to baptize. Paul was giving his own testimony of what God called him to do. An apostle was not sent to baptize, but the local Pastor is to do these things. Otis would not partake of communion because it was tradition and Otis was against tradition. This again is a Charismatic false concept. Otis finally had communion in his church after I left. I was sent word by the congregation that they appreciated my theology because now Otis was allowing communion to be partaken of. Otis had been the Pastor of that congregation for around fourteen or fifteen years and never had allowed communion in the church. (4)

When Protestants came away from Roman Catholicism they defined what the marks of a true church were. The Protestant Reformers gave three marks of a true church. The first two marks are that the ordinances handed down by Jesus should be observed. These two ordinances consist of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The third mark is that the word of God should be preached in its purity. In other words if the scriptures declare that women are not qualified to rule or lead the church and we then presume to allow women to preach or lead the church, then we are not preaching the word of God in its purity.

I sat in Charismatic churches from 1992-2008. All the years of which I attended charismatic churches (and believe me I have been in a heap of them) I had never heard a sermon on God’s absolute sovereignty over his creation, of God’s predestining men to life and death, of Christ substitutionary sacrifice, Christ ruling and reigning from heaven now, or of Christ as the central motif of the scriptures, etc, etc…. It wasn’t until I began to proclaim these things that I had ever heard a live sermon on these biblical truths.

These truths were proclaimed by all the Protestant Reformers. All denominations drew up creeds and confessions and proclaimed these things. It wasn’t until John Wesley organized the first denomination that taught the heretical doctrines of Arminianism that all Protestant churches began to go into demise. Out of Wesley’s Holiness second grace denomination came all the holiness churches of today proclaiming the heretical views of Arminianism and Roman Catholicism. These views have spread over into the Protestant denominations, among those who used to be true to scripture, so that now you have an amalgamation of heretical doctrines.

I have much more to say, but my post has went overboard in its length already, so I think I will title this post Pt 1 and come back to it later.

Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.



(1) I am calling the first Pastor ‘The Teacher’ only because he is supposed to teach what scripture states, but tells me that he doesn’t care what it states. Also he acts like he is a learned man, but reads no Bible through the week. His job works him 65 or so hours a week and while working he listens to secular radio all day.

(2) Otis Graves is in the same category as the ‘Teacher’ when it comes to knowing nothing about the Bible. His job makes him work from daylight to late in the evening and when he isn’t working he is visiting people here and there. I know for a fact that he never got his sermon up for Sunday morning service, until it was time for Sunday school. He then would go into his office and study for the sermon. I know for a fact that he drags in to church late and then holds up service talking about the football game with the congregational members. I was under Otis from 2003 to 2008 and began many a service without him, because he simply had not showed up yet.

(3) One can hear my teaching on 1 Peter 2:24 on my web site   entitled “Exegetical Mistakes Most Students Make in Interpreting Scripture.”

(4) One of the last questions Otis asked me in his office was: “Do you think I am wrong for not allowing communion in the church?” I told him that he was wrong. I told him that Christ Jesus himself commanded us to partake of his supper until he return. Paul stated that Jesus said that we do show his death, in doing this, until he returns 1 Cor. 11:26