Friday, November 23, 2007

The Other Side of What Heaven?

Back in 2001, Disney released the movie "The Other Side of Heaven," starring Christopher Gorham and Anne Hathaway, based on the true story of John Groberg's experiences as a young missionary on the exotic island of Tonga in the 1950's.

At first glance, this may seem like a touching, inspirational adventure movie, but as with all media, a little investigation is necessary to find the real message behind the silver screen. Not much research was needed to quickly reveal the truth of this seemingly innocent "Christian" movie. On the
Watchman Fellowship website, I found a movie review that shed some light on this motion picture.

Though the advertising of the film may not blatantly show this, but in actuality, the film is connected to Mormonism. The main character was a Mormon missionary (in case you were not able to deduce that from his outfit when he first arrived on the island), and he is currently an Elder in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Additionally, the writer/director, Mitch Davis is a member of the LDS church, and the film's distributor, Excel Entertainment endorses "...all types of entertainment media that is reflective of Mormon or LDS culture."

I also found it quite interesting that when the film was first released in December 2001, the distributors chose to only show the film in Utah and Idaho with the tag line for the movie stating:

"The true story of Groberg's adventures on the islands of Tonga as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

But when the movie opened nationwide four months later, they chose to remove "for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" from the tag line in the official press release. However, once the film jumped to the box office top 20 list, they changed the tag line again: "the true story of a Mormon missionary sent to the kingdom of Tonga in the 1950's."

Not surprisingly, Excel admitted that prior to the movie's nationwide release, they had tried to get advertising from several Christian media organizations, but they were rejected. So, we can easily deduce that the reason they changed the original tag line was to make the film appear to be "nondenominational" in order to deceive the general public. But despite this deception, even the secular audience was not impressed. Negative reviews were splashed all over the news, such as in the Washington Post, New York Daily News, and the Miami Herald.

Along with the bad critiques, the film did have its supporters and good reviews in the media. Even Bill McKeever, who is the Director of Mormonism Research Ministries, did not bash the movie. He commented that "... there is not a barrage of unique LDS teachings...." in the film. However, he would definitely agree that the movie does pose several concerns to the evangelical Christian community:

  1. The movie seeks to put the Mormon church and its mission's ministry in a good light to the viewing audience.
  2. The movie has a scene that portrays a Christian minister as the bad guy because he "tells his people to stay away from the Mormon missionaries because they are teaching false doctrine."
  3. The movie can also be used in Mormon proselytizing efforts.
  4. The God that John Groberg (both in the film and in real-life) refers to is not the God of the Bible. He is the Mormon God. (To learn more, watch this video below, and you can find additional articles at

In conclusion, though the film may have great acting, beautiful scenery and a moving musical score, that doesn't change the fact that it is merely a tool used to spread the heresy of Mormonism and the LDS church. Unfortunately, because of the influence of Elder Groberg, 40% of Tonga is Mormon (approx. 43,000 people), and it will only be through the grace and mercy of the real God of the Bible, that these lost people will come to true salvation. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

What is "The Secret"?

Warning: This blog will reveal spoilers to the book, "The Secret." So, if you don't want to know the secret of "The Secret," I would suggest not reading any further. Otherwise, don't say I didn't warn you...

One of the books on the #1 best sellers list right now is "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne, and it's companion DVD has sold over a million copies since its release in February 2007. "The Secret" is basically a self-help book that claims to have the ultimate key to achieving success and happiness. The book and DVD give off a Da Vinci Code feel and boast that this "secret" has been known and used by some of the greatest minds in history, but for eons, "the secret" has been hidden from the public... until now.

On the Watchman Fellowship website, there is a video clip of an interview on the Today Show with one of the teachers quoted in the book & DVD, James Arthur Ray, along with Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and Today Show contributor.

What is the secret? It's three simple steps: Ask... Believe... Receive.

The author claims that based on the "Law of Attraction," if you think about something, your mind gives off energy and vibrations that are capable of bringing external objects to you or away from you. For instance, one woman says that when she found out she had cancer, she used the secret and imagined that the cancer was out of her body. Later, she found out she was healed. Others have claimed that they have become wealthy using the secret. However, with all these lofty claims, you have to ask yourself, "Doesn't this sound a bit too good to be true?" Even the TV show,
Boston Legal, showed that "The Secret" may have "some kinks to iron out."

During the Today Show interview, Mr. Ray claimed that the secret is based on quantum physics, but this has yet to be proven by the scientific community. For something to be considered scientific, it must meet the following criteria.

  1. Must be based on data.
  2. Must be observable.

  3. Must be able to be tested.
  4. Must have reproducible results.
"The Secret" can claim none of those. Dr. Saltz stated that there is nothing wrong with thinking positively, but claiming that this "Ask... Believe... Receive" concept is a science, is both deceitful and potentially harmful. I also think that the statement made by Prof. Robert Thompson of Syracuse University is very revealing. He said, "It's amazing how we really are a nation of, at best, great optimists, and at worst, real suckers."

The concept behind "The Secret" is Gnosticism, which has been around for at least 2000 years, and the secret itself, the knowledge and power that is being promised, dates back to the first sin of Adam and Eve, the desire to be God. Basically the secret tries to convince you that you can control your own future by being your own god.

Sadly, this lie has been deceiving people for centuries, and it has caused countless disappointments and ruined lives. Jerry Adler, Senior Editor of Newsweek magazine wrote an article about the book and said, "The message isn't new; the packaging is what's new.... The book is potentially psychologically harmful, ethically deplorable, and scientifically nonsense."

Acts 17:11 reminds us that we shouldn't believe everything that we read. We should always compare "secret knowledge" to what the Bible says. If it's contradictory, then it is false. We should be as careful as Beareans... "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." And when compared to Scripture, "the secret" doesn't hold water.

A good resource that will help you learn more about "The Secret," its origins, and dangers, is the new book, "The Truth Behind The Secret." Click here to read the press release.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Is Rev. Moon the Second Coming?

In March 2004 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in the presence of a large audience of congressmen and other "well-to-do's" in Washington D.C., Rev. Sun Myung Moon was presented with maroon robes, crowned "King of Peace," and proclaimed himself to be "none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent." His wife was by his side and was also presented a robe and bejeweled crown.

Up until a few weeks ago, I never knew that this had taken place. I was absolutely shocked. Though, after doing some more investigating, we come to find out that most of the people who were in attendance that night came under false pretenses. Most came under the guise that they were going to be honored for their humanitarian efforts and for being "Ambassadors of Peace." Low and behold, they were blindsided when at the close of the evening they were the unintentional witnesses to an erroneous coronation.

On the Watchman Fellowship website, I found an article that has a lot of good information on Rev. Moon and his cult, otherwise known as the Unification Church. Just in case you had doubts, Rev. Moon is not the Second Coming, unless you are comfortable with and confident in a Messiah who is an ex-con, adulterer, and is heavily involved in spiritualism (i.e. he claims to receive new revelations by projecting himself into the spirit realm and talking with Jesus and other dead saints).

Here are just a few of the aspects of Moonie theology:

  • Pantheism: God is not a Person, but is a self-generating energy that became creation. God is all, and all is God.
  • God was not happy or complete being alone, until it created people. It needs relationships.
  • God created Adam and Eve to be the perfect parents, but God's plan was thwarted when Eve had sexual relations with the archangel, Satan, and then with Adam.
  • God came up with a new plan. He created Jesus (who was only human), and intended for him to get married. Then Jesus and his bride would become the perfect parents and raise sinless children. But once again, God's plan was ruined when Jesus got crucified before he could get married and have a family.
  • God's final plan is being accomplished through Rev. Moon and his perfect family. Salvation and access to the Kingdom of God solely depend on the Moon Family. Everyone must be grafted into his perfect, God-center family.
  • Rev. Moon claims that he is God's mouth-piece and only through him can "heaven on earth be literally achieved."
Rev. Moon claims that his is the only perfect God-centered family on earth. Let's take a look and see how accurate that statement is. This video clip is from an interview with the daughter of Rev. & Mrs. Moon (aka "The Perfect Parents") as well as Nansook, the wife of Hyo Jin, Moon's eldest son. In 1995 when she could not endure her husband's cocaine addiction, infidelity, and physical abuse any longer, Nansook fled with her 5 children, and divorced her husband of 14 years. In 1998, she wrote a book titled In the Shadow of the Moons: My Life in the Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Family, which is about her experiences as a member of the Moon family.

As you can clearly see, Rev. Moon and his family are anything but perfect, and they certainly do not qualify as the "Perfect Parents" or being divine. Every family is dysfunctional to some extent and the Moon family is no exception.

No matter what fallacious claim Rev. Moon may make, it certainly does not line up with Scripture. "Jesus did not claim to be a partial way, half the truth, or some of the life. He did not leave room for others to complete or fulfill his work. Jesus stated in no uncertain terms, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.' (John 14:6)" (Excerpt from Watchman Fellowship article) Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, true Messiah, Lord, and Savior of the world.

For more information about Moonieism, click here to access other articles that are available on the Watchman Fellowship website.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gwen Shamblin, The Christian Diet Guru

If you are overweight and tired of being spiritually defeated, Gwen Shamblin claims to have the answers and reveals them in her Weigh Down Workshops. Though she says she's a Christian, she has made it very clear that she denies the doctrine of the Trinity, which is a fundamental aspect of the Christan faith. Here are a couple of news clips of interviews with Gwen where she talks more about her beliefs.

Gwen believes that there is only one God, who is God the Father. She also says that she believes in Jesus, who is God's Son, but that neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit are God. In fact, the Holy Spirit, she says, is not a person, but is just the "force" of God.

Back in Oct. 2000, Rob Bowman, the Director of Research at
Watchman Fellowship wrote a letter to Gwen Shamblin in the hopes of being able to share with her what the doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches and to clear up any misunderstandings that she may have been taught about the Trinity.

A few weeks ago, my Adult Bible Fellowship class at church finished a 2-week study on the Trinity, and I just recently my professor in my Systematic Theology class taught a lecture on the doctrine of the Trinity. Trinitarian doctrine is a very heavy subject, and after reviewing Mr. Bowman's letter, I think he did a very good job in covering the basics and explaining its key aspects.

(Excerpt from website)
The core elements of the doctrine of the Trinity are these:

  1. There is one true God, the LORD, i.e., Yahweh, or Jehovah. (Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6-8; Acts 17:29; James 2:19)

  2. The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is this one true God, the LORD. (John 17:3; 20:17; cf. Ps. 110:1)

  3. The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is this one true God, the LORD. (John 1:1; 20:28; Rom. 10:9-13; Phil. 2:9-11; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20).

  4. The Holy Spirit, who was sent by the Son from the Father, is this one true God, the LORD. (Acts 5:3-4, 9; 2 Cor. 3:17-18)

Though the concept of the Trinity can be a difficult subject to fully grasp, we simply have to accept that even though we don't completely understand it, it's still true because the Bible says so. In spite of what Gwen Shamblin, Jehovah's Witnesses, or Oneness Pentecostals may say, Evangelical Christians are not polytheists, nor are we modalist. We are monotheists... we worship the only one true God who eternally and co-equally exists as 3 Persons: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

If you would like to receive a free information packet about Gwen Shamblin or any other cult, religion, celebrity, or bestselling book, click here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Gospel of Inclusion

I just listened to an audio clip on the Watchman Fellowship website of an interview with Bishop Pearson discussing his movement called the Gospel of Inclusion and how he interprets the Gospel of Christ. Click here to listen to the audio clip.

At first, Pearson sounds biblically correct, but as you listen on, his beliefs are revealed to be very far off track from evangelical Christianity. One part of the audio clip that really caught my attention was the following question and answer between the lady interviewer and Bishop Pearson.

Lady: "Are you saying that everyone is going to heaven, basically?"
Pearson: "Yes! Your religion, your dogma and doctrines, cannot dictate to God who He will love and redeem. He made us all. Why would He not redeem us all? Unless we think that God is prejudice and bigoted like we are. God is not. God loves everybody, and anything outside of love is outside His character, His moral character."

I would agree with Pearson that God is love and thus is merciful and gracious; but God is also just (moral character). If He were not just, He would not be a holy, righteous Judge. God despises sin and will punish those who have sinned. Yes, it is true that when Christ died on the cross, His sacrifice was for the world, but only for those that put their faith and trust in Him.

Jesus declared in John 3:3 "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." As well as John 11:25-26, "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" Jesus is clearly stating that His salvation must be accepted by the individual. We are not just saved by accident or without our knowledge. Every individual, in order to be saved, must accept Jesus Christ's free gift of grace and thus become born again.
However, Pearson (who is a
universalist ) believes that Jesus' sacrifice gave everyone a "get-out-of-hell-free card." So, every religion: Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, Buddhist, etc. are all "saved" and are all going to heaven. He even tries to justify his view by quoting 1 Tim. 2:5 that says "there is one God and there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." And thus, all religions are saved because Jesus is our mediator. However, many religions would strongly object with that statement. Hindus would not agree because they are polytheistic and believe in thousands of gods as well as reincarnation as the vehicle for salvation. There are also Atheists who neither believe in any god nor in an afterlife.

Another comment that disturbed me was Pearson speaking about Jesus in 1 Tim. 2:5. He said, "Most Christians worship the mediator. They don't really worship God." After hearing that, I had to ask myself, "So, who does Pearson think Jesus is?" Jesus made very clear in Scripture that He is God (John 13:19) and He even received worship (Matt. 28:17). But apparently, Parsons does not believe that Jesus is God since he thinks worshiping Jesus doesn't mean you're worshiping God.

Here's a link if you'd like to learn more about
Bishop Pearson and his Gospel of Inclusion or hear any of the other audio clip interviews. I also found a video of an NBC interview with Pearson.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Da Vinci Con

Since its book release in 2003 (and the movie version in 2006), The Da Vinci Code, the mystery/detective novel by Dan Brown, has been a hot topic of controversy in both the church and the media. Dan Brown tells an intriguing fictitious story of an American symbologist who gets caught up in a ghastly murder in France and then seeks to find the murderer as well as the secret truth about Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene that led to the victim's untimely demise. Since the book hit the shelve in 2003, it has sold over 60 million copies worldwide, and the blockbuster movie in 2006 starring Tom Hanks has grossed over $758 million worldwide.

Though the book is advertised as fiction, Dan Brown makes it very clear in both the book as well as in interviews that he honestly believes the content of The Da Vinci Code which includes (excerpt from a Watchman Fellowship article):

  • The Bible cannot be trusted.
  • Jesus is not God, nor did the first century church believe him to be God.

  • Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and intended to restore the worship of the goddess.
After watching the ABC news interview with Dan Brown, I was shocked that all his curiosity began with a painting that his college professor had shown them in class one day. In the painting of the "Last Supper" by Leonardo Da Vinci (which is discussed in the book and shown in the movie), the "cup of Christ" is not in the painting anywhere, and some believe that the person on Jesus' right is not the Apostle John but is Mary Magdalene. They believe that Da Vinci was trying to convey in his art that Mary was the Holy Grail. Whether or not this is true, I am simply amazed that this one piece of art all of sudden is treated like the greatest archaeological find in history. Even if Da Vinci did intend to point to Mary as the Holy Grail... so what? People throughout history have painted their interpretation of things; so does that mean that the ancient paintings in Greece that depict Pegasus the flying horse or Medusa the snake-haired gorgon-women must also be real things and be absolutely true too? I think not!

I also think that Dan Brown's assumptions tainted his judgment during his "investigation" of the Holy Grail truth pursuit. He either intentionally fabricated or apparently did not do any real academic research on the actual Council of Nicea and what really transpired during that meeting. The book claims that "...Jesus' establishment as the ‘Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council...[and it won by] A relatively close vote at that." (pg. 233) First of all, Jesus being the "Son of God" was never in question at the Council meeting. There was a debate on whether Jesus was of the same substance as God (orthodox Christianity) or if he was of similar substance (Arianism). "The council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly (of the estimated 250-318 attendees, all but 2 voted against Arius)." (excerpt from Wikipedia)

Lastly, I also think that the people who believe that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and base this belief solely on a damaged gnostic document, the Gospel of Phillip, are being very naive and presumptuous. In the document, it says that Mary was beloved of Jesus, but I should point out that it also says that James was his beloved too. Dan Brown also claims that the document clearly shows that Jesus and Mary were married because he kisses her many times on the mouth. However, that is not true. Since the document is damaged, all it actually says is:

"And the companion of the [...] Mary Magdalene [...] her more than [...] the disciples [...] kiss her [...] on her [...]"

For all we know, the document could have originally stated, "And the companion of [the Apostle Peter was] Mary Magdalene [and he liked] her more than [all] the disciples [and would] kiss her [occasionally] on her [hand]... who knows? But nowhere does the document say that Jesus and Mary were married.

Hopefully, Christians will not be discouraged by the many people who have have bought into Dan Brown's ridiculous theories. Instead, I hope that they will use this book & movie as an opportunity to engage our culture. By researching the claims he makes about Jesus, the Bible, and the Church, we can be prepared to refute the errors and present the truth about the real Jesus of the Bible, His mission, and His salvation.

For more information and resources on The Da Vinci Code or Dan Brown, please visit the Watchman Fellowship website.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Are you Growing in Grace?

If you are unfamiliar with the Growing in Grace (Creciendo en Gracia) movement, please take a moment to watch this excerpt from The Today Show.
After watching the video and reading the article about it, needless to say I was shocked and appalled. Jose Miranda is a charlatan who has apparently targeted the Hispanic community brainwashing them into believing that he is Jesus Christ, the Second Coming.

Until today I had never heard of this movement, and I was amazed that they can be found in over 20 countries, mostly in central and south America, but also in the United States. They claim that they have over 30 teaching centers nationwide, and though they do not keep track of their membership, they estimate it to be at least a million or more.

These are just a few of Miranda's teachings:

  • Sin no longer exists.
  • There's not such thing as the Devil.
  • Prayer is a waste of time.
  • All other religions are liars (including Catholic, Protestant, Evangelicals, etc.)

I find it blatantly ironic that even though Miranda claims to be Jesus Christ and refers to the Bible (i.e. he requires his followers to tithe), his life, speech, and actions do not compare at all with the Lamb of God. Every one of his "teachings" directly contradict things that Jesus Himself preached.

The Bible clearly warns about false teachers & false prophets:

  • Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matt. 7:15)
  • I know full well that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. (Acts 20:29)
  • Those false teachers who are so anxious to win your favor are not doing it for your good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay more attention to them. (Gal. 4:17)
  • Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. (1 John 4:1)

What disturbs me the most about this cult is its potential violent nature. Miranda believes that all other religions are evil, deceiving, lying dogs and encourages his followers to protest them, and even be willing to give their lives to "spread the truth." Since he claims to be God, Miranda also demands unquestioned loyalty from his followers. Sounds a lot like the Branch Davidians and Koresh, doesn't it?

To learn more about Growing in Grace or other cults and alternative religions, please visit the Watchman Fellowship website.