The Most Dangerous Doctrine!


June, 2003

Dear Ministry Partner,

What is the most dangerous Christian doctrine? Is it hyper-prosperity? Is it speaking in tongues? Is it greasy grace? And what would be the criteria for determining it?

First of all, I think "the most dangerous doctrine" would have to turn unbelievers away from God in a significant way. Second, it would have to be "palatable" to Christians to somehow get them to embrace it. Third, it would have to have a detrimental effect on the lives of Christians and negatively influence their spiritual enthusiasm and their practice of the various aspects of Christianity. The most dangerous doctrine also would have to be subtle — or everyone would recognize it for the damage it does and throw it out. So what is the most dangerous doctrine? In my opinion, after many years of ministry, spiritual study, and counseling, and being the son of a minister who pastored for almost 50 years, I think it is what I call "sovereignty theology" — and I will tell you why and how it may be affecting you.

In about 1980, I sat down on my bed one Saturday morning and spread out my Bible concordance, study Bibles, and a pad of paper, and set out to do a full study on the "sovereignty of God". I had heard this term used so much — with ministers frequently answering spiritual questions with the statement, "Well, you know God is sovereign...." Ministers would imply that God controlled everything — that everything that happened in life was because God was "sovereign". So I felt it would take all morning to fully research the word. I turned to the "S" pages to find references to "sovereign" in my Strong's concordance. I was determined to look up every single verse using the word "sovereign" and really get the revelation on the proper application of this "important doctrine". To my total amazement, I found there was only one verse in my entire King James Bible concordance that used the word "sovereign". Man, I thought this was a major doctrine of the Bible! And the one verse I found that used "sovereign" was not even using it in a relevant context! Further, the New King James translation does not use "sovereign" at all, and the New American Standard translation only uses the word once!

So where did this emphasis on God being "sovereign" come from? It came mainly from ignorance and religious tradition, but has had a modern boost from the introduction of the New International Version of the Bible many years ago. The NIV uses the word "sovereign" 272 times! But the NIV translation is actually the weakest of the major translations, and the "sovereign" emphasis in the NIV is actually from a mis-translation of the word Lord. "Lord" (as in Lord God) is traditionally derived from Adoni with Jehovah in the original Hebrew, but the NIV translators (with a theological agenda) translated it "Sovereign God" 272 times!

Does God "sovereignly" control everything that happens on this earth, or is it somehow ordained by God? Well, most unbelievers think God is to blame for everything wrong on the earth — and in fact many people think things are so bad they feel God must not even exist! If God is controlling everything that happens, I would have to admit He is doing a pretty poor job! No, the condition of life on earth is the result of free will — both Satan's and mankind's. Referring back to my Saturday morning research on sovereignty — I next turned to the "W" section of my concordance to look up the word "will" to see how many scriptures used that word. I was equally amazed in the opposite direction — there were 26 pages of references to verses using the word "will" in various ways. There were scriptures like Jesus asking a sick man, "Wilt thou be made whole?" (John 5:6) and people expressing their will, "'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' "He answered and said, 'I will not'" (Matt 21:28-29).

One minister I know told a true story about a member of his church years ago who worked in a big electric power plant. About 5:00 a.m. every morning, this guy was supposed to manually throw a big electrical switch to supply extra power to the town for people as they woke up and used electrical appliances. There was a big sign on the wall that said, "Stand on rubber mat when connecting switch." This was to insulate the man to help make sure the electricity would not "arc" from the switch and run through the easier "resistance" of his body to flow to the ground. He had held this job for perhaps 20 years, and had never had a problem. One morning, he had been out walking around in the heavy dew-laden grass when he came in at 5:00 a.m. to throw the switch. He didn't bother to drag the heavy rubber mat over to stand on when he threw the switch, and therefore was not insulated from the ground, and the moisture on his hands and feet made him an even greater conductor of electricity. He was electrocuted and died instantly. It was tragic that the man left young children and a wife widowed. At the funeral, one of the church members was addressing the situation, and he told the pastor, "Well, God just took him!" Irritated by the implied slam on God's character, the pastor replied, "Well, I notice God takes more of them that don't stand on the rubber mat than He does those that do!"

God is not demonstrating for all mankind what life here on earth is like when He is totally in control. (Heaven is what it's like where God's will is completely done.) God is currently demonstrating here on earth what life is like when He is not in control. God is deliberately displaying here for the angels and mankind to see why it is best to follow Him — earth is a contrast to Heaven! Here we can observe what has been created on earth by Satan's rebellion, and then by mankind's subsequent decisions to disobey God in sin and selfishness. This planet is a mess! It is an imperfect existence. Even when we begin obeying God, we usually have "seeds" of disobedience we have planted that we potentially reap from the devil, plus we still live in a fallen world where the vast majority of mankind here exercise their unsaved free will.

If everything was "sovereignly" controlled by God, then there would be no need to pray, no need to give financial offerings, no need to even live right — because whatever happened would be what God wanted regardless. If praying, giving, obeying makes any difference, then "free will" wins the argument. In fact, if God sovereignly controls everything, then there is no need to evangelize (this is Calvinism, and it caused Europe to go into a post-Christian era). In about 1600 A.D., Jacob Arminius became convinced that Calvinism (absolute sovereignty) could not be true and said sovereignty made God a "tyrant and executioner". The denominations which Arminianism has influenced have grown to be the world's largest, and the denominations which have embraced Calvinism instead have been shrinking. Hyper-sovereignty has a certain amount of appeal because it is "excuse theology" — you can blame everything on God! But even though it's comfortable to blame all on God, it inclines millions of unbelievers go to Hell.

The fact that we have a free will is why scriptures like Matthew 16:19 are important, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." This is also why we are supposed to pray "For God's will to be done here on earth, the same as it is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:10). If God's will automatically happened without our prayers, our prayers would not be needed. God does not sovereignly control everything that happens here on earth, but He is all powerful — so He is capable of intervening when we do pray and have faith! Otherwise, Satan's will or man's will is often done instead of God's will. That explains the mess mankind is in! It is not God's will or God's fault.

Is it possible our lack of prayer and faith has limited God's involvement in our lives? The Bible says so. Psalm 78:41 says in both the KJV & NKJ, "They... limited the Holy One of Israel" (through lack of faith). Matthew 13:58 says that Jesus "Did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief." So the opposite is true — we can keep God from being limited in our lives — and enable Him to do mighty works — if we will pray and have faith! The solution to the problems of your life can best be described by an old "proverb" — pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on you!

Praying in faith and working hard,

Dale & Judi Leander


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