In an excellent story and accompanying video posted by Now The End Begins (recently featured on Before It’s News, which we will link at the end of this story), exposed is a very dangerous phenomenon that is sweeping not just the United States but the entire globe - the Purpose Driven Church movement.
There is a high likelihood that there are churches following this model in your neighborhood, but what is most troubling is the fact that you may be attending one.
What makes this so dangerous? What is it replacing?
To answer these questions, we must go back to the foundations of the “Church” as we know it. Christianity has evolved considerably since it began. The Bible, as we have come to know it, is itself a testament to this (no pun intended). The Pastoral Epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus display some of the issues that persisted in the 1st and 2nd century church. We read these words through our modern eyes, not realizing that when they were being written, "Christian doctrine" was very much in flux. It was not until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 that matters such as the divinity of Christ and the Council of Constantinople in 360 that the concept of the Trinity were set in stone. It is very easy for us to apply these concepts wholesale to the New Testament when we read it. This anachronistic interpretation of scripture is problematic.
We need to understand the theologies of the writers of the New Testament to fully grasp its context. There is not a singular theology, Christology, or eschatology on display in the New Testament, even though the New Testament canon was carefully chosen to support a particular set of beliefs. There are many different ideas about God, Christ, the last days, and the Mosaic Law (Torah) to be found in the New Testament, and many of them are at odds with one another.
How is it then, that anyone can be a fundamentalist? How do you find harmony in a collection of writings with such opposing ideas? Looking at it from this perspective, it seems impossible, yet so many seemed to have found some convoluted way to do it. This didn't happen overnight.
Have you ever wondered how the Bible came into existence? Have you ever asked why there are the 66 books in it, while other books were left out? When we began our research into topics such as the Nephilim and the origins of fallen angels and demons, it quickly led us to a couple of sources: the books of Enoch and Jasher, among others. The very existence of these texts and the fact that they are referenced in the canon Bible beg several questions:
- When were they written?
- Are they "divinely inspired" scripture, and if so, why were they not included in the canon?
- If these books are not "divinely inspired", why not?
- If they were good enough to be referenced in the canonical scriptures, why not include them in the canon itself?
Attempting to answer these and many other questions concerning the Bible led us down a long and often bewildering path and led to some conclusions that were troubling at first. Once the initial shock was over, however, a new level of understanding and a deeper faith is what we found.
You may find this statement offensive, but it is true - Modern Evangelical Christianity is a "Franken-religion" consisting of a myriad of theological ideas and religious traditions with some mythology thrown in for good measure. The Protestant Reformation, as wonderful as it was in bringing Christianity back into the hands of the individual, was far from successful in shaking off the centuries of pagan traditions and ideas that had crept into the Roman Catholic church. Later Protestant denominations have attempted to shed more of this baggage, but unfortunately, they have only replaced it with more and more baggage of a different type.
You may go to a non-denominational church. It may claim to believe in the "pure unaltered Word of God" and nothing more, and prides itself in not indulging in the traditions of previous generations. Unfortunately, if it adheres strictly and literally to the modern canon Bible, it is still full of problems.
Now, before you get mad and want to throw sharp objects at us, let us explain. This is not coming from an anti-Christian, anti-Biblical point of view. Not at all. We just decided to take a cautious but open-minded look at what is really behind the Bible as we know it, and this is simply an attempt at sharing some of those findings.
What form of Christianity did Jesus preach? The fact is, He didn't! There was no such thing as "Christianity" until long after the time of Jesus. Are you aware of the fact that the four Gospels contained in the New Testament canon were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? The truth is they weren't written by any of them! You see, they were anonymous accounts of the life and sayings of Jesus, handed down verbally for many years before finally being written down. Those names were not given to the Gospels until much later when the canon was being formed. At that time, one of the arbitrary criteria was that in order for something to be considered scripture, it must have Apostolic authority. The earliest Gospel, according to the vast majority of biblical scholars, is the one attributed to Mark, written around 65-70 AD. Matthew and Luke were written around 80-85 AD, followed by the Gospel of John around 90-95 AD. Note: much of these writings date after Antiochus IV Epiphanes destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.
WHAT? You mean the Gospels aren't eyewitness accounts written by actual Apostles of Jesus Christ? That's right, not a single book of the synoptic Gospels were eyewitness accounts. Additionally none it was witnessed by the authors for they were merely pseudepigraphs. We don't know who wrote them, and they weren't actually put in written form until decades after Jesus left this earth. Even more shocking is the actual content of these four books - the three Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke ("Synoptic" from the Latin word meaning "seen together", as they follow much of the same narrative) contain many confusing contradictions on important details. We cannot simply ignore the fact that the accounts of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection do not line up between these different Gospels.
For an excellent comparison of the similarities and differences in the Gospel stories, we recommend Throckmorton's Gospel Parallels - it lines each up in narrative order as much as possible, making a direct comparison very easy to do. Throughout modern history, Christian teachers and preachers have attempted to reconcile these differences and make the whole thing seem like a harmonious whole, but to a critical thinker, this appears foolish at worst and intellectually dishonest at best. Why can't we just admit that our Bible is fallible, and is not the "Word of God" but rather the cobbled-together words of some human beings?
What does "Gospel" mean, anyway? It is a word that comes from the Old English "godspell" which means, simply, good news.
We submit that it is of the utmost importance in this age to be able to be open and honest about the origins of the Bible, and the problems it contains, while retaining our faith in God, and indeed, in Christ Jesus. We are living in an age that is growing more and more humanistic, with less and less room for the idea of a supreme Creator. In fact, the most publicly promoted religious leader in the world, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, is playing a key role in bringing this about.
Since the moment his Papacy began, Pope Francis has demonstrated his desire to rid religions of fundamentalism and create a base from which the “one world religion” can be constructed. The effort to build a modern Babel, a new world order if you prefer, has been increasing and is beginning to reach the point of no return. It is imperative that believers in Jesus learn the facts about this effort and brace themselves for what is about to unfold. There are many things about the Bible and its construction that have been kept from the general public for far too long. As the truth is unveiled people will be forced to make a decision on what to believe. Confusion will abound and many will lose their faith. Jesus himself is recorded as saying this - "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (Matthew 24:12, KJV)
A simple question should come to mind. Why is this Pope at this time preparing the world for new revelations of "truth" when the Roman Catholic Church has known the real truth for 1700+ years, but has chosen to obfuscate it? The Catholic Church has the largest library in the world particularly when it comes to religious writings. The Roman Catholic Church is the richest and most powerful institution on the planet - and they fully plan on maintaining that position. The Islamic faith is growing at an accelerated rate in number, but financially and politically they are quite far from having the magnitude of influence that the Catholic Church wields. As believers in the teachings of Jesus it is vital that we take personal responsibility to learn all that we can about the Bible now.
If the Bible is not the Word of God, then what is it? It is a book of lies? No, it is not. In fact, God speaks through the Bible. Many people have gotten direct messages from the spirit of God by being led to a specific passage of scripture. But that person is not free then to apply that revelation to anything or anyone they so choose. That was a divine revelation to that particular person, for a specific purpose. There is much truth and wisdom to be gained from the Bible and the other non-canonical scriptures, but to declare that it is the "infallible, inerrant word of God" is foolhardy.
We are not asking you to take our word for it. This article will cite a few sources of information that can assist you in finding out more about the Bible's true origins. Psychologically we all seem to reject information that is contrary to our beliefs, or that which seems too out of step with what we have always been told. This is called normalcy bias, and no one is immune to it. Many people choose not to let facts get in the way because they fear the loss of something that they want to believe. But at no point in history has the need to know been more important. The souls of mankind lie in the balance and everyone must decide what they believe is true. We all need to be responsible for the destiny of our souls.
It is beyond the scope of this article to point out the many reasons why the Bible cannot be the "inerrant Word of God". We invite you to investigate the excellent work of Professors Bart D. Ehrman of UNC Chapel Hill and Dale B. Martin of Yale University. Their lectures and courses are freely available online to watch and digest. We are sure you will appreciate (as we did) the fine public service offered by these institutions of higher learning. We also recommend (but be warned, it's not for the faint of heart, or the weak in faith) the series that is available on YouTube titled "Biblical Errancy Commentary" hosted by Dennis McKinsey. This man is what we call an "anti-fundamentalist". As pedantic and unrelenting as a religious fundamentalist can be, McKinsey is equally obsessive in his scrutiny of scripture. However, if you want to know the best arguments atheists or anti-theists could ever throw at the Bible, you’ll need to look no further.
No matter what, you should learn the truth about the Bible. But whatever you do, hold fast to your faith. The message of love that Jesus gave is of God and upon that your very existence will depend. We guarantee that once you let go of the trappings of Biblical fundamentalism, and the foolish religious dogmas that come with it, you will find a deeper faith in God that transcends the pages of a cobbled-together book. We are not recommending that you discount the Bible as if it is a book of fairy tales, but to simply investigate what it truly is, and understand that despite the fact that it is full of contradictions, a real, lasting relationship with the Almighty can be found by reading it.
And that is truly good news.
Link to NTEB's story about the Purpose Driven movement:
Link to an excellent interview with Prof. Bart D. Ehrman:
If you would like to dive deeply into knowing about how the canon of the New Testament was formed, and the history that surrounds it and its authors (both those that are known and unknown), here is the entire lecture series from Prof. Dale Martin of Yale University:
Finally, if you really want to dive into the deep end, here is a link to the first 25 programs of Dennis McKinsey's Biblical Errancy Commentary: