Cornterstone Church – Dr. Richard Howe teaches at the Apologetics Summit on November 16, 2013. Howe speaks on alleged Christians (Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Marilyn Hickey, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Rod Parsley, Joyce Meyer, etc.) who may be practicing the occult in the pulpit.
This from MORIEL MINISTRIES (2011) explaining a bit about the above:
There are three notable perspectives:
- Christ spent his three days suffering the wrath of God.
- Christ spent his three days proclaiming his victory over the Satanic kingdom.
- Christ spent his three days preaching the Gospel to the Old Testament believers who dwelt in a separated portion of the netherworld.
Here is a look at the non-Biblical version of this view that Jesus descended into hell:
The main issue with this false doctrine is that it renders the work on the cross null… here is a good clip of Mark Driscoll explaining the issue well. (This was a clip from Mark’s sermon, “Suffering to Learn – 1 Peter 3:17-22“):
Here as well is a quick confrontation by WATCHMAN explaining the core of the deviation,
For a dealing with Joel Osteen’s view, see a post entitled, “Joel Osteen’s False Teaching That Jesus went to Hell, by Lori Eldridge.” The implications of this false view of “It Is Finished” is noted by Matt Slick of CARM:
A person on my YouTube pointed something out…. and it is this: that there are orthodox views about this “visit” to hell. Period. Here is his comment:
- The bible says in 1 peter 3:19 that he went to hell to proclaim his victory, not to suffer. the false doctrine isn’t that he went to hell, it is that it had anything to do with atonement.
HANK HANEGRAAFF reigns is the idea to allow for Biblical views rather than just one narrow view:
Cross posted at: THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog)
Yes, when a campaign merely relies on “black” and “pastor” while not fully understanding the depths of false narratives typically associated with televangelists theology as well as one’s own self aggrandizement (ego) involved in such money making careers… you will invariably run into such issues as we see below:
May I say, not only is the movie about a miracle, but the miracle continued on in Jennifer Garner’s life and kids life. I just hope it is a church that can guard their walk in their faith by teaching them the completeness of God’s Word and our worldview.
THAT BEING SAID, if that is T.D. Jakes sitting next to her (in the below video)… and that is the church she is going to… well, good luck. There are some well founded concerns about his teachings — to say the least.
This comes by way of NewsBusters:
Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio ends his look at Jesse Duplantis’ cultic teachings of the Health and Wealth “Gospel” saying that Jesse is not on “team Jesus’ side.” Funny.
- Cross posted at the Word on the Word of Faith group-blog.
For more sound doctrinal discussions, see: http://www.piratechristian.com/
This post is a response to the Word Faith teacher, Jesse Duplantis, but also to skeptics of Biblical history. This post is an updated version to the one I posted at The WORD on the Word Faith Movement a long time ago. As with other matters of faith Jesse is wrong in this matter — both in his use of Biblical text as well as his history.
Saddam Hussein was also obsessed with this history, as this article shows.
The Greek historian, Herodotus, about 500 B.C., described the structure, which then consisted of a series of eight ascending towers, each one recessed in turn, with a spiral roadway running around it as a means of climbing to the top.
Babylonian legend (of which we’ll get to) asserted that it had originally been built by Nimrod, which coincides with the Biblical record. In fact, the region, about ten miles southwest of Babylon’s center is still called Birs Nimroud. The structure as Herodotus described it was more than seven hundred feet tall, of which three hundred feet remain to this day.
The descendants of Noah built this tower. The list of primeval nations in Genesis 10, “the Table of Nations”, is by far the most complete and accurate listing of the tribes and nations of antiquity. One of the world’s greatest archaeologists, William F. Albright, called it “an astonishingly accurate document.” It lists the descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (the three sons of Noah) and indicates what regions they settled. (For an excellent book that is free online in its entirety, I recommend: After the Flood.) Many historical documents from many cultures trace back their ancestry to these three “sons of Noah.” The ziggurats, and pyramids, and bow & arrow, as well as boomerangs being used and built by every culture on every continent is a hint to mankind all living together at one time; and having common technology.
Many scientists who study the origin of languages, known as philologists, have concluded that it is probable that the thousands of dialects and languages can be traced back to an original language in man’s ancient past. Professor Alfredo Trombetti (Italian linguist) claims that he can prove the common origin of all languages. Max Mueller, one of the greatest oriental language scholars, declared that all human languages can be traced back to one single oriental language. Chinese is the most ancient (although probably not the original [root] language), fully recorded, still used, language around, going back to over 3,000 years ago.
Scientific American notes the history of all languages coming from a single source when they note that languages “as diverse as English, Russian and Hindi can trace their roots back more than 8,000 years to Anatolia — now in modern-day Turkey.” Scientific American continues:
See a creationist take on this, here.
Ancient History 101
The French government sent Professor Oppert to report on the cuneiform inscriptions discovered in the ruins of Babylon. Oppert translated a long inscription by King Nebuchadnezzar in which the king referred to the tower in the Chaldean language as Barzipp, which means “Tongue-Power.” The Greeks used the word Borsippa, with the same meaning of Tongue-power, to describe the ruins of the Tower of Babel. This inscription of Nebuchadnezzar clearly identified the original tower of Borsippa with the Tower of Babel described by Moses in Genesis. King Nebuchadnezzar decided to rebuild the base of the ancient Tower of Babel, built over sixteen centuries earlier by Nimrod, the first King of Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt the city of Babylon in great magnificence with gold, silver, cedar, and fir, at great cost on top of a hard surface of baked clay bricks. These bricks were engraved with the seal of Nebuchadnezzar. At the base of the Tower of Babel is this inscription by King Nebuchadnezzar that, in his own words from thousands of years ago, confirm one of the most amazing events of the ancient past.
Here is a picture (right) from a newly discovered find Discovery Channel notes in their “archaeology” section:
Take note even “bar-tabs” were discussed from the time.
This inscription was translated by Professor Oppert. In addition, Mr. William Loftus translated this fascinating inscription in his book, Travels and Researches in Chaldea and Sinai. This incredible inscription confirms the Biblical accuracy of one of the most fascinating stories in the Book of Genesis.
The pagan king Nebuchadnezzar confirms in his own words the incredible details that a “former king built it, but he did not complete its head,” confirming the truthfulness of the Genesis account that God stopped the original builders from completing the top of the Tower of Babel. Most significantly, King Nebuchadnezzar’s inscription declares that the reason the original king could not complete the tower was because, “Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words.” In other words, they lost the ability to control their language and communication!
Compare the statement of Nebuchadnezzar, “A former king built it, but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time, people had abandoned it,” with the words of Moses in Genesis 11:7; “So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.” Even more startling is the phrase of the pagan king where he declared that the reason they could not complete the top of the “Tongue-tower” was that the “people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words.”
NON-GOD HISTORY SHOWS:
This equals a pretty amazing “coincidence” in my book. Biblical History is wonderfully rich.
(The was originally presented in front of some really great guys on 4-15-10, tax-day)
This sermon is one I am ambivalent to preach, there are not any funny stories or happy endings, merely a call to preserve “the faith once and for all given to the saints.” Before we dive in however, since it is the day we give to Caesar what is Caesars, I figured a thought experiment would be fitting:
A jab at high taxes aside, contending for the faith can be a grueling job, considering all the variations offered to us.
A sound understanding of faith may take some patience and thoughtful understanding today as we tackle just a few of the many differences between a healthy faith and the kind that leads to a very troubled praxeology (<< click to jump to definition). We will take the time here to look at some of the key concepts of a healthy faith through a verse many times misapplied. How one interprets Mark 11:20-25 will tell you a lot about a person’s understanding of faith. Again, the verse we will be reading from is Mark 11:20-25, so if you are ready we will jump in.
This verse is often used to make the point that OUR FAITH IS BIG ENOUGH to remove any aliment that besets us. It is often combined with another verse from Isaiah 53:5 that reads in-part, “by Your stripes we are healed.” As you will find, however, context and historical setting are key to a proper understanding of working out these types of verses into our everyday lives and the impact they have on our personal faith. We will cover just a few topics in this presentation, they are:
- How these verses are misused by some, and subsequently faith;
- we will discuss some of the Jewish cultural context and history involved;
- and finally, we will look at an oft overlooked interpretation of these verses.
Starting with how faith is often misused by many of the faithful, we will consider what Pastor Bob DeWaay calls anthropogenic fundamentalism.
- The term anthropogenic fundamentalism can simply be defined for our purposes as a “man-centered faith,” rather than “God-centered faith.”
Or, man trying to capture what God only provides and make it his own.
E.W. Kenyon, sometimes called the grandfather of the Word-Faith movement, wrote a book entitled, Two Kinds of Faith, in which we find Kenyon saying that “a spiritual law few of us have recognized is that our confessions rule us.”
Kenneth Hagin, who is known as the father of the Word-Faith movement, has taken bits-and-pieces from Kenyon and well-known faith healer William Branham and ordered them into a systematic word-faith doctrine/theology, culminating in the opening of Rhema Bible Institute in 1974. Mark 11:23 was one of Hagin’s favorite verses he used to justify his,
- creating verbalized capsules of thinking by “laws of faith” that control one’s circumstances with “formulas.” (my own definition)
This was a big-deal to him, even coining the term “have faith in your faith.”
In contradistinction Calvin says that…
- True faith “unites us to Christ and inserts us into His body creating the bond that enables us to receive, posses, and enjoy Christ Himself.” This is Calvin’s “union with Christ by Spirit worked faith.”
True faith is God centered, and aligns us — or tries to — with God’s will. Not the other way around. There are many examples of what faith should not be, but one James Montgomery Boice mentions that can replace true faith is optimism. Which he simply defines as a “mental attitude which is to cause the thing believed in to happen.”
In this “faith in your faith” aspect, you will never hear a person graduating from Rhema pray like Christ did in Matt 26:39:
- “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
A.H. Strong points out that God does “not change his mind when men pray, or when they believe… as [God] fulfills his purpose by inspiring true prayer, so he fulfills his purpose by giving faith.” Finishing his thought Strong quotes Augustine, “He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe….”
You see, we want a faith that unites us to Christ and His work, nothing of ourselves. In Reformational thinking, we are not even capable of generating this kind of faith. Take note that Ephesians 2:8 ends with “it is a gift of God.” John McArthur points out that faith is included as preceding this statement. By contrast, Kenneth Hagin makes his concept of faith clear when he enumerates his understanding of Mark 11:23:
- He believes in his heart,
- He believes in his words. Another way to say this is:
- He has faith in his own faith . . . Having faith in your words is having faith in your faith.”
According to the text in the ISV, Christ’s faith — not ours — does the justifying. It is His focus of attention, not ours, that does the work. The “onus,” the, is put into proper perspective.
As an example from one of my favorite verses, Philippians 1:6:
This “optimism” in one’s faith that Boice warned us of, rather than a God Centered faith is really an old heresy that started with the early influence of Gnosticism on the Desert Fathers. If you do not know about these mysterious persons that are so influential on the emergent version of this Gnostic heresy, here is a quick introduction.
Now, As some may know, others here may not, my father was deeply involved in this understanding of faith. He would routinely claim financial success and good health as a matter of habit… neither of which he ever truly possessed. A few years back he was very-very sick.
He looked and felt awful.
However, he refused to go to the hospital, instead, he spoke health and healing to his body. When he finally acquiesced to the pain that C.S. Lewis says is our body verbalizing that something is wrong, he was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.
- In case you do not know, colon cancer is one of the most survivable cancers one could contract today.
Rejecting his doctors advice of immediate surgery, my father found renewed vigor that he wasn’t truly sick — even yelling at me in the doctor’s office:
- “GET BEHIND ME SATAN!!” (pointing an accusing finger at me)
In surreal fashion and doggedly claiming that this sickness was curable via faith in his faith, his body no longer allowed him the option of denial and he gave way to his doctor’s advice. Even with surgery, he had waited too long.
On October 25th, 2008, I was reading Scripture to my dad who was recently sent home with me diagnosed with two-months to live when his breathing started getting worse than it already was. I stopped reading from the Word and started to fluff the pillows and blankets surrounding my father. He managed to gasp “help” and shortly thereafter was strong enough to cry a bit…
…all the while telling him that I loved him while wiping the drool from his mouth and the sweat from his brow.
I could not dial 911 or call for help because my father was sent home with us for this reason… to pass as comfortable as possible.
All I could do is watch my father suffocate to death. He looked scared. I suspect for a few reasons, one is man’s tendency to not want to die.
Another reason is that if your faith is connected to your health and your health fails… failing faith in God’s finished work on the cross is not far behind.
He was coming to the stark reality that his theology was flawed and death is a one-for-one statistic.
While I know the work wrought on Calvary’s Cross was bigger than my dad’s praxeology, his view of faith led to a troubled walk that stifled his connecting with God and God’s people in a healthy well balanced manner. Even shortening his own life considerably.
Let me repeat that: his view of faith led to a troubled walk that stifled his connecting with God and God’s people.
Another example of faith gone awry is told by a fellow contributor to a group blog dealing with the Word-Faith heresy. This is the story of John Edwards and his struggle to come to terms with a cultic understanding of Biblical doctrine:
These two stark examples ~ my own and John’s ~ are the consequences of anthropomorphic fundamentalism: making oneself god in some sense of the word by guiding your own faith rather than allowing Godly faith in.
Another important aspect that seems to be missed by these Word Faith types is that the Bible incorporates parables, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, and history. Within these categories you will find metaphors, hyperbole, symbols, and elevated language.
For instance, in Psalm 91:4 we read, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”
Obviously God the Father being Spirit, known only by God the Son, does not have literal feathers. Reading on in the verse we find it is a metaphor for God protecting us like armor — just more comfortably… metaphorically speaking.
Likewise, we find commonly used in the Jewish texts of the day speech about “removing mountains” as metaphorical for an “infinitely long or virtually impossible task accomplished only by the most pious of rabbi’s.”
James Brooks in his commentary on Mark mentions that Mark 11:23 may be an “allusion… to the temple mount, in which case faith in God makes the temple system obsolete.” Jesus was speaking to, directly, the “Judaizers” of His day in this “sermon” pointing to the fulfillment of his soon to be culminated mission. You see, since we are considered “priests” or “rabbi’s” in God’s new and better covenant we do not rely on our own piousness, a Priest’s standing with God, or formulas ~ but Christ’s alone.
So the question, I think, becomes this: “as priests, what types of unmovable mountains would be in the context of our offering of prayer to the object of our faith?” In Matthew 5:23-24 we find this:
Let’s compare this to the passage we are reading in Mark, starting a bit into verse 24:
True faith causes good works -SO- in this salvonic understanding:
Therefore, with faith based in what God has already done for us while we were yet sinners, forgiveness of others is what we are called to.
With that PapaG’ism in mind, do not forget that this verse is connected to Christ overturning tables for a second time on the Temple Mount and cursing the fig-tree as representative of Israel’s faithlessness, another seemingly insurmountable task.
As applicable and connective as I think these comments are, there is yet another often overlooked understanding which keeps Christ firmly in context, and not us.
Again, James Brooks mentions that Jesus may have been referencing “the Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea,” the “latter being seen from the summit of the former.”
William Lane expands on this in his commentary on Mark, mentioning likewise that the,
Evangelical scholar Walter Elwell likewise hits on this idea:
[See these and more commentaries in the Appendix]
So like the parable of the faithful and wise servant (Luke 12:35-48), we must watch over this great gift of faith and its awesome responsibility by prayer to the object of our faith… asking for these mountains of faithlessness, self-centeredness, and our unforgiving hearts to be cleared daily by God’s word and our union with Him… always saying like John did, “come Lord Jesus, come!”
- Boice, James Montgomery. Foundations of the Christian Faith. Downers Grove, Illinoise: Inter Varsity Press, 1986.
- Bowman, Robert M. The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2001.
- Budziszewski, J. The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man. Dallas, Texas: Spence Publishing, 2004.
- Dewaay,Bob. The Emerging Church: Undefining Christianity. Saint Louise Park, Minnesota: Bob Dewaay, 2009.
- Geisler, Norman, Thomas Howe. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook On Bible Difficulties. Wheaton, Illinoise: Victor Books, 1992.
- Hall, David W., Peter A. Lillback, ed. A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes: Essays and Analysis. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2008.
- Hanegraaff, Hank. Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
- Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, Illinoise: Inter Varsity Press, 1993.
- Kelly, Douglas F. Systematic Theology: The God Who Is: The Holy Trinity. Vol. 1. Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2008.
- Kenyon, E.W. The Two Kinds of Faith: Faith’s Secret Revealed. Lynnwood, Washington: Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society, 1969.
- Lane, William L. The Gospel According to Mark. Edited by F.F. Bruce. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 1974.
- Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
- Lewis, Gordon R., Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996.
- MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007.
- McConnell, D.R. A Different Gospel: Biblical and Historical Insights Into the Word of Faith Movement. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
- Oden, Thomas C. Systematic Theology: The Living God. Vol. 1. Peabody, Massachusettes: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
- Strong, A.H. Systematic Theology. New York, New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1896.
- Yungen, Ray. A Time of Departing. 2nd. ed. Silverton, Oregon: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2006.
I wanted to point out just a couple of after thoughts. The first part of the verse we read from (v. 20), there is an interesting event that is mentioned.
Something I know the Jewish mind would have surely known considering how well the pharisees knew (at least memorized) Scripture. in verse 20 we read this:
- “Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.”
This miracle of Jesus cursing the fig-tree can be seen as one of the many instances Jesus showed Israel He was their Messiah through fulfilling of Old Testament prophecy.
Definition of Praxeology
Just so the reader knows how I understand this term: “right” theology into “right” action. The “Word Faith movement/theology,” “Liberation theology,” as well as “Emergent theology” distorts this interpretation. Here is a more in-depth definition:
(Commentaries on Mark 11:20-25)
…But it also shows that we cannot pray in faith for anything that we like. In this matter, Jesus was “thinking God’s thoughts after him” and willing his father’s will. That sort of prayer, if asked in faith, will always be answered, for it is praying that God’s will may be done (as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane). We can only move the mountains that God wants removed, not those that we want moved. “Moving mountains” was a phrase used by the rabbis to describe overcoming seemingly impossible difficulties; we must not of course take it in the literal sense. If we pray in this way, we can give thanks for the result before we see it, for the answer is sure in the will and purpose of God.
There is one other condition for effectual prayer: we must freely forgive others, as God forgives us (25). If we do not, how could we pray “in Jesus’ name,” that is, in the way in which he would and did? This verse may indicate that Mark knew the Lord’s Prayer, though he does not record it in his gospel.
D.A. Carson, R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1997), 968.
Matthew Henry speaks to the miracle of faith, which rightfully understood, truly is one of the most miraculous of all:
Now this is to be applied,  To that faith of miracles which the apostles and first preachers of the gospel were endued with, which did wonders in things natural, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; these were, in effect, the removing of mountains. The apostles speak of a faith which would do that, and yet might be found where holy love was not, 1 Co. 13:2.  It may be applied to that miracle of faith, which all true Christians are endued with, which doeth wonders in things spiritual. It justifies us (Rom. 5:1), and so removes the mountains of guilt, and casts them into the depths of the sea, never to rise up in judgment against us, Mic. 7:19. It purifies the heart (Acts 15:9), and so removes mountains of corruption, and makes them plains before the grace of God, Zec. 4:7. It is by faith that the world is conquered, Satan’s fiery darts are quenched, a soul is crucified with Christ, and yet lives; by faith we set the Lord always before us, and see him that is invisible, and have him present to our minds; and this is effectual to remove mountains, for at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, the mountains were not only moved, but removed, Ps. 114:4-7.
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), Mk 11:12.
Whenever I read Henry I have to say “Amen.” This faith is not only miraculously accomplished, but is imported to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, as Augustine rightly notes this continuous miracle:
Whether they are going to speak before a congregation or any other body, or to dictate something to be spoken before a congregation or read by others who are able and willing to do so, speakers must pray that God will place a good sermon on their lips. If Queen Esther, when about to plead before the king for the temporal salvation of her people, prayed that God would place a suitable speech on her lips [Esther 4:16], how much more important is it for those who work for people’s eternal salvation “by teaching God’s word” [1 Tim. 5:17] to pray to receive such a gift?
Douglas F. Kelley, Systematic Theology, Volume One: The God Who Is: The Holy Trinity (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2008), 54.
Many of these early thinkers referenced Isaiah 7:9 which basically says this: “If you don’t take your stand in faith, you won’t have a leg to stand on.” So here we are, mentioning some good interpretations of these verses, I believe that in context with the fig tree and some of Jesus’ other teachings, we can almost see that these verses tend to speak to the end-times, one of my favorite commentaries points this out:
The Dead Sea is visible from the Mount of Olives and it is appropriate to take the reference to “this mountain” quite literally. An allusion may be intended to Zech. 14:4. In the eschatological day described there the Mount of Olives is to be split in two, and when the Lord assumes his kingship “the whole land shall be turned into a plain” (Zech. 14:10). The prayer in question is then specifically a Passover prayer for God to establish his reign. What is affirmed is God’s absolute readiness to respond to the resolute faith that prays (cf. Isa. 65:24). What distinguishes the faith for which Jesus calls from that self-intoxication which reduces a man and his work to a fiasco is the discipline of prayer through faith. When prayer is the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength, God’s sovereignty is its only restriction. The assertion in verse 24 reiterates this assurance in more comprehensive and general terms. The man who bows his head before the hidden glory of God in the fulness of faith does so in the certainty that God can deal with every situation and any difficulty and that with him nothing is impossible (10:27).
William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 410.
Evangelical scholar Walter Elwell likewise hits on this idea:
Jesus has acted out two parables of terrible impending judgment of unbelief—the withering of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple; now, in response to Peter’s remark, he turns to the vital component in the eschatological drama that is inexorably coming to pass, namely, faith in God. This Israel does not have, but the disciples can and must have faith if they are to participate as victors in the coming destruction of the enemy-occupied land which will split at the Mount of Olives when the terrible day comes that precedes the kingly reign of the Lord over the whole earth (so Zech. 14:1–11). Jesus urges his disciples to pray with the faith expressed in Isaiah 65:24 and participate with him in the new exodus, and so avoid the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the faithless land. But they must humbly seek forgiveness and harbor no resentment (v. 25), as Israel has not done in the presence of Jesus the Son, if they are to stand in the Father’s righteousness through this cataclysmic time.
Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (electronic ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), Mk 11:20.
Another commentator mentions this eschatological allusion:
…Jesus was speaking generally, but there may be some allusion to the Mount of Olives (11:1) and the Dead Sea. On a clear day the latter can be seen from the summit of the former. Alternately, the allusion may be to the temple mount, in which case faith in God makes the temple system obsolete (cf. John 4:19–24).
James A. Brooks, vol. 23, Mark (electronic ed.; Logos Library System; The New American Commentary Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 183.
And this great working through the verses by a favored theologian of mine:
11:21 The Fig Tree Which You Cursed Has Withered
- ADMONITION FOR THOSE PREPARING TO BE BAPTIZED. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: You are now being joined with the holy vine.’ If, then, you abide in the vine, you grow into a fruitful branch, but if you do not so abide, you will be burnt in the fire. Let us therefore bring forth worthy fruit. For let it not come about that it should happen to us what happened to the barren fig tree in the Gospel.’ Let not Jesus come in these days and utter the same curse upon the fruitless. But instead may all of you say, “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.”
11:23 Whoever Does Not Doubt in His Heart but Believes
- THE POWER OF PRAYER. CHRYSOSTOM: Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings. It exceeds a monarch’s power…. I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal. I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit,’ the offspring of a soul converted—this is the prayer which mounts to heaven…. The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good. I speak not of the prayer of the lips, but of the prayer that ascends from the inmost recesses of the heart.
11:24 Believe That. You Will Receive It and You Will
- FULL CONFIDENCE. JOHN CASSIAN: While we are praying, there should be no hesitation that would intervene or break down the confidence of our petition by any shadow of despair. We know that by pouring forth our prayer we are obtaining already what we are asking for. We have no doubt that our prayers have effectually reached God.’ For to that degree that one believes that he is regarded by God, and that God can grant it, just so far will one be heard and obtain an answer
11:23 It Will Be Done for Him
- DIVINE GIVING AND HUMAN WILLING. AUGUSTINE: Note that Jesus said “for him,” not “for me,” and not “for the Father.” Yet it is certain that no human being does such a thing without God’s gift and workings. Mark well that even if no actual instances of perfect righteousness may be found among humans, that does not rule out perfect righteousness as if it were formally impossible. For it might have been realized if only sufficient responsive willing had been applied, enough to suffice for so great a deed.
Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall, eds., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament II, Mark (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press,1998), 162-163.
(My father passed Oct., 2008; The below was originally posted Feb., 2009, reworked for my site June 2015)
See also my “Sermon” ~ Mark 11:20-25, “Moving Mountains: Faith in Faith”
(To skip the intro and go directly to the eulogy, click “here“)
An Introduction to My Eulogy
Many years ago, my father was the road manager for a short time for Wilson Pickett and then was involved with Mitch Rider and the Detroit Wheels. Before this time period of my father getting into all aspects of the music industry (drugs, traveling, and the like), I was born in 1970. One-year later my mother and father were divorced. It was the seventies, so the hippie/vagabond lifestyle was chic and my mom traveled a bit, finally settling down in Detroit [proper], married to a wonderful man. My father settled down in North Hollywood California, the other side of the country.
In 1976, my father was saved through the ministry of Ma Bean, a skinny little charismatic woman who had a ministry in Southern California. It was part of the early “Jesus Movement,” where hippies were giving up their drug highs for the “high of Holy Spirit.” After my dad was born again, he started to contact us in order to be involved in his son’s [my] life. He would travel once-and-a-while to Detroit to visit with his family and also see me. In 1982, one of my mom’s aunts who lived in California was sick, so my mom went to visit. During this visit, my dad was key in bringing my mom to the Lord. After her return to Detroit my mom divorced her current husband [a very tough time for me, any child] and we moved to California where she was remarried to my father in a charismatic Catholic church service.
We attended Church on the Way (Jack Hayford’s church), visited the Catholic church when there was a Charismatic service, and TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) was on 24/7 in the home. While the A-Team was the discussion point at school, any programming other than TBN was “devilish.” (I am sure some can relate.)
Years later, my mother and father were would find themselves divorced again. I attribute this to a few factors. First, mainly due to no real doctrine being present in their life, just emotional Christianity. Their subjective wills were not firmly based in the immovable will of the revealed God of Scripture. This is not to say they were-not-or-did-not have a real conversion moment… I did at thirteen. But replacing the sound doctrine of the Cross with “kingdom now/word faith” theology stretches the boundaries of Christ’s salvonic work (1 Samuel 16:7). Secondly… my mother is a hippy [vagabond] at heart — unfaithful to her Lord and her husband. This isn’t ideal, but she i-s my mom. Thirdly, my father became almost unbearable in his later years. You hear about person’s becoming “grumpy” later in life… this was my dad. He should have brought these issues confidently into God’s throne room and asked for a softer heart rather than by relying on his own merits/faith for miracles to be done in his life.
Some time after my parents divorced this second time, I remember my dad having just enough to pay another month of his mortgage… or… paying TBN during one of their faith marathons.
During this particular drive, TBN had a fire pit built in back of their California studio and promised that no matter what a person’s financial need and situation was, that they could receive 10-times the amount given — and very possibly more. So my dad took his last $2,000 and sent it in. Obviously he lost the house, and ultimately his life (I will explain further shortly).
It is this type of thinking that has devastated my family as well as taking the life of my father. It is not just another form of Christianity, it is a killer form if taken to its logical end.
Which is why I must participate in such a site and post articles like this, if only to reach one soul with the true freedom found in a proper understanding of Law and Grace.
There is freedom for those who take up their cross, in this case, it is a cross of understanding what Jesus died for… it wasn’t for my father’s mortgage.
Jesus died for something more valuable than that, more valuable than all the money racked in by TBN…. He died for your and my soul.
My father was sent home to “live” with my wife and myself with a diagnosis of two-months to live. On October 25th I was reading Scripture to my father when his breathing started getting worse than it already was. I stopped reading from the Word and started to fluff the pillows and blankets surrounding my father. He managed to gasp “help” and shortly thereafter was strong enough to cry a bit…
(as I did as well)
…while telling him that I loved him and wiping the drool from his mouth and the sweat from his brow. I could not dial 911 or call for help because my father was sent home with us for this reason… to pass as comfortably as possible.
All I could do is watch my father suffocated to death.
He looked scared.
Not because he lacked faith in God, but because the natural tendency of mankind is to live. He was also coming to the understanding that the doctors were correct and his theology flawed… realizing your life is slipping away and having so many open ends in it can be daunting. Even terrifying, to say the least.
You see, his lungs were full of cancer due to his colon cancer.
This cancerous barrage spreading through his body was the result of him feeling sick but not going to the doctor to get checked up. Rather, he would claim his wellness by faith.
F-i-n-a-l-l-y, he was so sick he HAD TO go to the doctors for a look at what was wrong.
he was diagnosed with colon cancer and it was recommended he be operated on immediately. He pushed off the operation a few times, canceling dates of the operation in order to claim his healing by faith.
I will never (never) forget this next visit I drove him to at his primary physician’s office. His doctor was at her wits end. When she walked out of the examination room, I told my dad that if he did not get the operation that I was through with helping him. He yelled at me this favorite saying of word-faith teachers,
“GET BEHIND ME SATAN!”
This is important and should not be lost on the audience. I am his son telling him to follow his doctor’s suggestion and quit canceling his operation dates… and I am Satan according to his theology.
He finally acquiesced and got the operation.
The operation proved successful, you could see a marked improvement in even how he looked.
I went with him to his follow-up appointment with his regular, primary care doctor. [Turned out to be his only.]
She showed amazement — as did I upon finding out the information — that he didn’t go to his scheduled meeting[s] with the specialist (the doctor that did the operation).
My father ended up rejecting any form of recommended chemotherapy (his doctor even explaining a new pill form that wasn’t as invasive as radiation therapy).
The doctor was worried that the cancer had spread and they wanted to kill as much of the cancer as they could thus extending my father’s life. My father rejected this and refused to even see his regular doctor. AGAIN, claiming his well-being through faith.
- You see, this type of thinking is ingrained in the word-faith movement that was popularized by TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) and taken from the writings of Kenneth Hagin and later Kenneth Copeland. My father had just about every Hagin booklet known to man.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago (11-3-08) and my father was being told that he had cancer all over his body. Especially in his lungs, BECAUSE he had a) initially waited too long allowing the cancer to perforate the wall of his colon… and his later b) refusing and post-treatment allowing the cancer to spread quickly.
I was present in the hospital when it took TWO doctors to get the point across that there was nothing more they could do.
I watched as my father begged them for chemotherapy to help extend his life.
Obviously, it was too late for that. And they forcefully explained that.
It was sad to see him put in a corner of the one-for-one odds of our death. It was a bit tougher in his case because it was hastened by his own actions and bad theology.
It did not take long for my dad to revert to saying that Satan was a liar and that he was going to be healed.
It is regrettable that many at this church [my father’s church] commented positively upon reflection of my father’s rebuking of Satan and his claiming his healing by faith.
I wonder if his fellow church members knew what he was really saying? It is this:
A Quick Break
Here are some audio files from some leaders in the Word-Faith Movement.
True Christians do not get Sick:
Sickness is Demonic:
Faith is a force & James 4 is stupid:
Continuing My Introduction
And this is the crux of the matter which I will explain more in the actual eulogy I did at my dad’s service.
After my presentation (again, below), one woman came up to me after and said she would love to have seen my father and I heatedly discuss the issue of healing in the atonement.
I did not know what to say.
I wanted to say that what she did not realize was that my position had been proven in my father’s death. There was no need for an argument, death was unfortunately on my side of the argument.
Obviously, there will be a time when all of creation, hence mankind, will be in perfect harmony again as the creation God intended… anyone listening to my presentation thoughtfully would realize such when I read from Romans chapter 8 from two different versions. However, I fear that not too many listened with a sharp ear.
So now I am anguished a bit at my dad’s last attempt to shed a tear right before he took his last breath.
Was it because he faltered in his faith and was frightened that he had been wrong all these years due to his non-healing?
Was it because he had unfinished business with loved ones… namely his son?
Did all the stuff he accumulated in his apartment supplant what he really needed, a family, his grandsons, daughter-in-law?(He drove for years past our condominium three-or-four times a week going to his church without stopping in once.)
W-h-a-t-e-v-e-r his reasoning was, I couldn’t do anything but cry and tell him I loved him.
(like I am now)
And these folks at his church ~ as wonderful as they are and were to him ~ are soo caught up in their emotional stances of Scripture that a healthy-well-balanced understanding of scripture is too much to ask for.
The charismatic and Pentecostal tradition has a lot to answer for in the proverbial “By-and-By.” Mind you, while I truly believe some of these people at my dad’s church are saved and are going to heaven, they are destroying lives of people around them. They just don’t see it.
Just like the early movement in the Corinthian church that had a similar emotional outburst and rejected a healthy-well-balanced theology that Paul spoke to in 1 Corinthian 14:23. Thus, Paul would have rebuked gracefully and doctrinally my dad’s church.
This eulogy I entitled:
O’ Sweet Exchange
End of “O’ Sweet Exchange”
At the end of others talking about my father, I had a recording of my father which he apparently recorded on accident during one of his church services on his camcorder. With some help from Pastor Russ from my church the two video files were joined into one audio file. This posthumous find is a very special find and was equally so at the end of the service… enjoy:
This is via THE WORD on The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog)
This is the description by The Mind Renewed under the video [to be clear, I do not recommend as a whole, “The Mind ‘Renewed,'” as their views of conspiracies and history enslave good thinking.]:
We are joined by Robert M. Bowman Jnr., Executive Director of the Institute for Religious Research, for an in-depth interview on the history and teachings of the Word-Faith (or Word of Faith) Movement within Christianity. Born out of the “faith-cure” teachings of the late 19th & early 20th Centuries, and developed and popularised in recent decades by flamboyant evangelists and preachers like Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland, Word-Faith teaching now reaches the homes of millions through TV broadcasts around the globe. Promising health and wealth in the name of Christ, and assuring its followers that they have delegated spiritual power from God literally to speak miracles into their own lives, this unbiblical distortion of Christianity sets unrealistic expectations, and often leads to disappointment, and sometimes even to rejection of Christ.
This is via THE WORD on The Word of Faith
…Since that time the doctrines of the born-again Jesus and of Christians being little gods have evolved from the original positive confession teachings. Christians are now being told that Jesus Christ not only needed to die on the cross for their sins but also suffered in hell for them, and then needed to be born again in order to become their Savior! People have been misled into believing that men are little gods since they were made in the image and likeness of God and are to take dominion over the earth because of their godhood.
It is an unchanging law that heresy begets heresy and error begets error when men depart from the objective authority of the Scripture.
This does not at all necessarily mean that individuals who fall into these errors are unbelievers. It need only mean that they are ignorant or sincerely mistaken. But those who refuse to repent of their heresies when shown the error of their ways must be classified as false teachers in the biblical sense…
My FaceBook comment:
…too funny. As a guy who came from a house that accepted the “word of faith” teachings (and it was the cause of my fathers early death: http://tinyurl.com/qe46zg4 ~ see also: http://tinyurl.com/d4omv4), I know what a reasonable, healthy/well-balanced faith should look like — hint: not like the above. So I can laugh at this but am always amazed and saddened at how gullible we as humans are (religiously AND politically) — and why Scripture asks us to “check” our faith often (http://tinyurl.com/kt8tbkj). A funny find… I needed that laugh this morning.