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
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
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
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
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"
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
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
Praying in faith and working hard,
Dale & Judi Leander