As a pastor since 1984, I have seen and heard many “off the wall” and aberrant teachings. Some stick out more than others to me. The following ten teachings are unbalanced and strange teachings that have crept into the church:
1- Double portion services
These are church services in which the preacher promises that every person they lay hands on, or who gives a certain amount of money to them, will receive a double portion of the anointing. However, in only one instance in scripture did a person receive a double portion from another person. In 2 Kings chapter 2, Elisha received a double portion of the spirit that was upon his mentor, Elijah the prophet. However, this was not merely an event but the culmination of years of Elisha following and serving Elijah. When Elijah was taken up, Elisha received that which was rightfully his because of his time faithfully serving and learning from his spiritual father.
Those who teach you can receive a double portion of the anointing or a blessing by merely showing up to a meeting and getting hands laid upon them negate the fact that Elisha left everything to follow Elijah and that this also involved hard arduous work, humility and discipline over a period of time.
2- Hundred-fold Financial Blessing
There are some who teach that if you give a certain amount of money to their ministry you will receive a “hundred-fold” blessing in return. They get this from the passage in Mark 10:29-30 29“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields, along with persecutions and in the age to come eternal life.
First of all, Jesus is telling this to His followers who left everything for Him. This is not a promise for someone who only puts money into an offering bucket. Second, a hundred times or hundred fold blessing means that if a person puts one dollar in the offering he will get 100 dollars back; 10 dollars will retrieve him one thousand dollars, one thousand dollars will result in one hundred thousand return and a one hundred thousand dollar investment will result in a ten million dollar return!
While God does generously bless us back when we give to Him, He was not literally promising a hundredfold financial blessing to every person who gives. The context of this passage was that everyone who leaves their home and their family to minister for Christ (BTW, it did not mention leaving their spouse), will have a hundredfold blessing of receiving countless spiritual fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and numerous houses where they can stay.
I have experienced this firsthand as I have traveled the world for Christ and now have countless people I can consider part of my spiritual family in Christ.
Using this passage as a way to get people to invest money in their ministry is misleading and confusing to people who will most likely never really see a hundredfold return on their giving.
3- Grave sucking
In recent years, there has been a craze in which Christians will go to the grave of a great saint (Like Charles Finney) and lay on top of the grave to get some of the anointing of this departed hero in the faith. This practice comes from a mis-interpretation and application of the passage in 2 Kings 13:21 in which a dead man was accidentally thrown into the grave of Elisha and came back to life after the corpse touched the bones of the great prophet.
First of all, there is no mention in scripture that the man received the anointing of Elisha to minister. Second, there is no mention that the people of God made a ritual out of this practice so other people can be revived and or receive power from the bones of Elisha. This was a one-time miracle that was probably meant to remind and warn Israel as to the veracity and power of the dead prophet’s words that were still yet to come to pass.
Charismatics often want a shortcut to the anointing. It is not going to come just because a person lies on a grave, throws a jacket upon you and or lays hands upon you. It comes by waiting upon the Lord, studying His word, seeking His face, and sitting under the mentorship of leaders called to equip you in the work of the ministry.
4- Open Theism
(The following is taken from a position paper I wrote entitled “The Case Against Open Theism”)
The controversial view of divine knowledge known as “Open Theism” is increasingly being taught, debated, and proposed by serious men and women in the church. I have attended conferences, read papers, and witnessed passionate arguments over this so-called “doctrine” for the past several years. Presently, there are also variants of this teaching that claim to make it different from Open Theism; however, they all come from the same source as Open Theism, so if you refute one, then like a domino effect all it’s variant teachings also fall.
I strongly disagree with this view and, while I respect and honor some of the leaders who have advanced, argued, and taught Open Theism, I am greatly concerned that any movement that promotes this teaching will lose it’s credibility with the rest of the Body of Christ. In my opinion, open theism goes against the historic views of the church with respect to omniscience which is one of God’s main attributes.
Proponents of this view claim that the classical theistic view regarding God’s omniscience is wrong and that an honest reading of scripture clearly shows that in certain instances God limits his insight into the future so that He does not know everything that will happen. This new concept of God is similar to some aspects of pantheism (that God is one with His creation) and process theology (that God is still growing in knowledge and power with His creation, like a form of Darwinian divinity). It is an ultra-extreme form of Arminianism in regards to free will; thus, it is a threat to Christian orthodox belief.
Basically, the whole system collapses once it fails to answer the theological question demanded by Revelation 13:8 that teaches Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world; Obviously, this shows that God was not surprised by the fall of Adam and already had the cross in mind before He made Adam and the world. The fact that it seemed as though God was surprised by the fall of Adam (when you read Genesis 3) demonstrates that anthropomorphic language is often used as a divine bridge so man can relate to God as a person. Hence, all the other similar passages proponents of Open Theism use to prove God does not know the future is a straw house that collapses under the weight of this and many other passages that show infinite Divine foreknowledge.
Proponents of Open Theism believe that their open view of the future alleviates God of the responsibility for evil in the world. But what they do not take into account is that, even within their own system, God is just as responsible because He created beings that He knew were potentially going to sin, thus making God an accessory before and after the fact.
In spite of their denials, in the open theistic system, God is still responsible for evil because He did not use His omnipotent power to stop His beings from sinning even though He knew the potential for it in the future.
In both these points it is shown, in regards to God, that His passive permission (in extreme Arminianism) is basically the same as proactive causality (hyper-Calvinism), thus rendering the essence of open theism basically no different from the hyper-Calvinistic views they oppose.
5- Full preterism
Full preterism is the doctrine that teaches all bible prophecy (Including the second bodily return of Christ) has already been fulfilled. Without getting into detail regarding this view, I will only say here that this teaching can de-motivate its adherents regarding global evangelization and transformation since everything Jesus promised has already been fulfilled. It does not lead to a mystical kind of Christianity without practical goals nor any phenomenological handles of which to grab hold.