South Africa has been gripped by a wave of scandals coming out of churches. Mainstream media has been reporting about pastors who sexually abuse church members and those who perform ‘dodgy’ miracles. This has led to a national outcry that has led to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities in South Africa (CRL Commission) issuing a report to Parliament recommending that all religious practitioners be registered under umbrella organizations that would be recognized by the state and subject to “peer-review committees.”

Most church leaders have strongly opposed the regulation of churches with some, like Christian activist Solomon Izang Ashoms who leads protests against false prophets strongly in support of the commission’s suggestion. Ashoms, who is also a media practitioner is known for his strong stance against false prophets and has been interviewed by different media outlets. He put together a guide that helps people easily identify false prophets and pastors.

7 TYPES OF FALSE PROPHETS FOR SALE

 Satan has been trying to destroy the church since he lost his place within heaven’s vision. Though Satan attacks the church externally but his best and most effective method is to attack the church internally. Thus, we see today the rise and rise of false prophets, teachers and peddlers of errors. Though they could be either male or female, here are seven of them you will find carrying out their deceptive, destructive work in the church today.

PROPHET HERETIC

The Heretic is the most famous and perhaps the most dangerous of the false teachers. Peter warned against him in his second letter. “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). The Heretic is the person who teaches what completely contradicts an essential teaching of the Christian faith. He is a charismatic figure, a natural leader teaching just enough truth to cover his deadly error. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses or ZCC, he may alter God’s finished word, or like Mormons, he may add to it. Always, he boldly tampers with “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

 PROPHET CHARLATAN

 The Charlatan is only interested in the Christian faith to the extent that it can fill his wallet (money). He’s the greedy one. The Charlatan is the person who uses Christianity as a way to become financial rich. Paul charged Timothy to be on guard against him. “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Timothy 6:3-5). The Charlatan is only interested in the Christian faith only based on how much money he will make from it. He uses his leadership position to benefit from others’ wealth.

MAJOR PROPHET

The Prophet claims to be gifted by God to speak new revelation outside of Scripture new, authoritative words of prediction, teaching, rebuke, or encouragement. In reality, though, he is commissioned and empowered by Satan for the purpose of misleading and disrupting Christ’s church. John offered an urgent warning about him. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Christians must “test the spirits” to determine if they originate with the Holy Spirit or with a demonic spirit. Today television and radio are full of people claiming to speak in the name of God through the power of the Spirit, they insist you call them Papa, Daddy, Father etc. Personal prophecies are just a phone call away and for sale.

PROPHET ABUSER

The Abuser uses his position of leadership to take advantage of other people. Usually, he takes advantage of them to feed his sexual lust, though he may also desire power. Both Peter and Jude were aware of the Abuser’s lechery: “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Peter 2:2). “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). The Abuser claims he is tending souls, but his true interest is ravishing bodies. He works his way into women’s lives (both married and singles), confidence, homes, and beds. When he is not pursuing illicit sexual pleasure, he may be domineering people to gain power, abusing them on his way to prominence. He does this in the name of ministry, in the name of God and with the claim of God’s anointing. He unapologetically uses a when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Tickler craves popularity and praise from the world. To maintain his follower’s respect, he preaches only the parts of the Bible they deem acceptable. Therefore, he speaks much of happiness but little of sin, much of heaven but nothing of hell. He gives them only what they want to hear.

PROPHET SPECULATOR

The author of Hebrews warned his church of the Speculator’s “strange teachings,” while Paul told Timothy to protect the church against any “different doctrine” (Hebrews 13:9, 1 Timothy 1:3). Teaching focused on speculation displaces the sure and steady doctrine of Scripture. The Speculator tosses aside the bulk of the Bible’s content and the weight of the Bible’s emphasis in order to obsess about matters that are trivial or novel. He grows weary of the old truths and pursues respectability through originality.

FALSE DOCTRINE

Christians in South Africa and Africa are facing a very big fight and never has it been more important for us to commit ourselves to rejecting wrong doctrine and pursuing sound doctrine, to ensure we are following teachers of truth, not peddlers of error. WHAT IS A DOCTRINE? Doctrine simplest definition is “teaching.” Doctrine is what Christians believe based on the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God has given us a completed revelation of himself in the Scriptures, so we can search this revelation and arrive at confident conclusions about his nature, character and works. In Titus 1:9 it describes a qualification and task of the elder: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught [“as doctrine”], so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” It is most often translated as “doctrine” or “teaching”.

KINDS OF DOCTRINE

Doctrines can be put into many boxes. Some theologians arrange them systematically, thematically, biblically, and historically, to name just a few. Each of these arrangements presents a distinct way to collect and summarize what Christians believe to be true. From such summaries, we have derived some complicated terms like prolegomena, pneumatology, hamartiology, and soteriology. Firstly true doctrine (content) originates with God (origin), comes from the Bible (authority), and agrees with the whole of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is sound (quality), it is healthy (benefit), and profitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for holding it (responsibility). Secondly false doctrine (content) originates with man (origin), does not come from the Bible (authority), and contradicts portions of Scripture (consistency). Because such doctrine is unsound (quality), it is unhealthy (benefit) and unprofitable (value) for us, and we are responsible for rejecting it (responsibility).* The Christian’s responsibility is clear: We are to learn and know God’s truth by searching His Word. We must carefully evaluate every teaching that we listened to according to God’s unfailing standard. What passes the test is sound doctrine, and what fails the test is false doctrine. I hope the comparison will help you to identity false and sound doctrine whenever you encounter it.

Solomon Izang Ashom’s booklet is available free of charge. Visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/solomon.ashoms