Can anything beat the feeling of cuddling up to your favorite cup of coffee in front of a stack of steaming, syrup-smothered flapjacks with a side of sausage links as you get set to dive into a study of God’s word with your favorite Bible teacher? I’m more of an egg man (over hard, thank you very much) than a flapjack man (although lately it’s been more like Egg Beaters® with a side of soy-based sausages), but there just seems to be something about all that caffeine and sodium and cholesterol coursing through my bloodstream and coagulating in my brain that really makes those tough passages in Scripture open up with a whole new meaning! How ’bout you?
Well, it sure seems to be working for those bachelors-till-the-rapture at the Trinity Foundation! The siren song of Aunt Jemima beckons them, oh, it seems about five times a week to lay their burdens down next to that endless river of java and listen to the voice of their guru against the soothing melody of silverware clanking on ceramic plates and bowls.
This experience can be yours, too, although you will need to provide your own coffee…and flapjacks, and sausage, and eggs, and the whole silverware-on-ceramic background music thing. How, you ask? Well, the home page of the Trinity Foundation has a link labeled “Morning Bible Studies” which takes you to a page titled “Bible Studies at Trinity Foundation.” By clicking on one of the magic links (think “hypertext,” not “sausage”) you can be transported via your favorite audio software (e.g., Windows Media Player) to a world where open Bibles share tabletops with salt and pepper shakers and an old man who spends most of his spare time tracking televangelists says the darndest things (imagine that!).
Of course, now the obvious question is: “Why?” Why would anyone want to spend time listening to the ruminations of an obscure soon-to-be septuagenarian as he holds forth to an all-male audience of unmarried AARP candidates?
Isn’t it obvious?
Well, perhaps to those following this blog it is, but if you don’t count yourself among that select crowd, then please allow me to explain. Nearly a month ago now I wrote a post titled, “The Enemy of My Enemy,” which opened up with background information on Ole Anthony and his Trinity Foundation, but eventually focused mainly on a recent Wittenburg Door article by his disciple, John Bloom, titled, “Putting Women in Their Place,” in which Bloom denied that the Apostle Paul wrote the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus). Not only did he deny that Paul wrote them, but he also denied that the Holy Spirit inspired them. Referring specifically to a passage in 1 Timothy, his exact words were:
This is not the voice of God… This is the voice of a man called “Paul” by the writer, but we don’t really know who it is.
I don’t know how to take these statements as meaning anything other than that the Pastoral Epistles are purely human products, lacking any divine authority. Trying to reconcile anything remotely resembling the status of canonical Scripture for these books with the denial that they carry the authority of God’s voice should be enough to tax the intellect of the most clever logician, and yet Bloom seemed to feel up to the challenge.
To kick off the little back-and-forth exchange that followed between us in the comments section of my post, Bloom accused me of exceeding the malevolence of even the worst hate mail the Door has thus far received. He used words like “Wow,” and “nasty,” and phrases like, “seems a little much,” giving me the general impression not only he didn’t take very kindly to my criticism of his position, but also that he didn’t seem to think there was anything particularly questionable about his views. Meanwhile, his article and his follow-up comments to my post firmly establish that he holds to a heretical view of Scripture.
It should not surprise us that hand-in-hand with a heretical view of Scripture we should also find a disturbing lack of spiritual discernment, which is more than obvious when Bloom declares the theologically-liberal sources he cites as being theologically neutral (or as he put it, as having “no doctrinal position whatsoever’), when in fact they deny the inspiration of Scripture. At least as disturbing is Bloom’s attempt to retain the Pastorals in the canon while he himself denies their inspiration! (I refer you to his comments on my post for these blindingly-brilliant examples of his theological insight.)
It is inevitable that many reading Bloom’s article will ask themselves, “What kind of magazine publishes articles like this?” I’ve been reading the Wittenburg Door on-and-off since 1977 (I know that was during the Carter administration—so just shut up!), when I first came across a copy in the magazine racks of the Emmaus Bible College library. Sure, they’ve printed some wacky and sometimes-questionable things over the decades since then. There was that time they interviewed a Bible-based cult leader, who was already separating his members from their families, as if he were involved in a legitimate Christian “reconciliation ministry.” (It’s a long story…) But I am unaware that the magazine’s editorial staff has ever made a low view of Scripture the publication’s official position, as it seems Bloom may have done. (Bloom’s official title is “Doorkeeper,” and he is listed above the senior editor on the Door’s “About Us” page.)
So, since looming over the heads of the editorial staff of any magazine there is usually someone known as a “publisher,” the next question one might naturally ask is, “What kind of publisher would allow his magazine to print something like that?”
Please pass the Oleo—er, margarine…
I hear that some people who have been trying to be a friend to Ole Anthony—the Door’s publisher of record—over the years have also tried to confront him about the things he teaches his followers. Since he doesn’t put much into print, these would be people who have either personally heard him say these things, or have heard about them through his followers, which means they would primarily be people who have actually made the pilgrimage to Dallas to visit the Trinity Foundation. To say we’re not talking about the same ballpark numbers as those who make the Hajj to Mecca every year is something of an understatement. Outside of actual Trinity Foundation members, those who have received Ole-isms straight from the horse’s mouth are probably as rare as non-Chinese-made products at Wal-Mart. But, thanks to ubiquity of the Web, it no longer has to be that way.
Sometime in the not-too-distant past, the Trinity Foundation began uploading MP3 files of Ole’s messages to his little breakfast group to the page I mentioned earlier. I am grateful to Jackie Alnor for referring me to this page, and for expressing concern over the content of what Anthony teaches through the audio files found there. I believe I actually stumbled across this page quite some time ago but I’d forgotten about it, and thanks to Jackie’s prompting I remembered it long before I otherwise would have. In the right-hand margin it has photographs of Ole and his pupils sitting with Bibles open in a Bob-Evans-like setting, though I have since learned that they’re probably chowing down cold cereal and milk rather than the eggs, flapjacks, and breakfast swine flesh I originally imagined. (Hot breakfasts, I am told, are limited to Saturdays.)
So now I had somewhere to go in search of answers to questions about Anthony’s public teaching about Scripture. Not only was I wondering what kind of publisher would allow his “doorkeeper” to write the kinds of things Bloom, wrote, but I also wondered to what extent Bloom derived his views from Anthony. Where, however, in this vast list of audio files should I begin listening? The archives go back to May 2003, and at the rate of four roughly half-hour messages per week I could easily be looking at nearly 500 hours of listening to get through it all. How could I cut straight to the chase?
My first idea came from Bloom himself. When I inquired directly with hims concerning his views on biblical inspiration and canonicity in the comments to my previous post, one of his responses intrigued me. He wrote:
I think the impasse here is over our conflicting views of word and Word. I believe that scripture is words about the Word. If you consider that heretical, then I don’t see how we can travel much further down the road of disputing scripture.
“Words about the Word?” So this is what gives him permission to deny that Paul wrote three of the epistles that bear his name? Whatever he meant by this phrase, it was hardly a ringing endorsement of the Bible’s inspiration. So I fired back:
What does it mean to say that “scripture is words about the Word?” Since you capitalize your second use of the word “Word,” I assume it’s a reference to the title of Jesus in John 1:1, in which case you’re affirming that Scripture is words about Jesus. I’ve got hundreds of books on my shelf that have words about Jesus in them, including some that deny the clear statements of Scripture. You haven’t explained why I should believe Scripture’s “words about Jesus” over the “words about Jesus” contained in those other books.
If you consider that heretical, then I don’t see how we can travel much further down the road of disputing scripture.
John, not only do I consider it heretical, but the entire conservative evangelical church considers it heretical! All those Christian counter-cult apologists who endorsed the Trinity Foundation for fifteen years or so—they consider it heretical, too. Any Christian who believes that the Bible is the word of God, and by that mean that it is verbally inspired, would declare your view heretical.
Defining Scripture as “words about the Word” is such a problematic statement that I could have gone on about it at much greater length. What about those parts of the Bible that do not speak directly about Jesus? Are they less inspired than those that do, or even uninspired? Is that how you, John Bloom, think you can get away with denying the inspiration of the Pastoral Epistles, because you don’t think they contain “words about the Word?”
But I didn’t go there. Now I only wanted to know to what extent Bloom represented his mentor. So I sat in front of this immense list of MP3 files, and in my web browser’s little search box I typed the phrase “words about the Word,” hit the “Enter” key, and—voilà!—it immediately took me to Anthony’s February 9, 2007 message on Romans 1:2, which has in its written introduction the following sentence: “Scripture is the words about the Word.” Apparently Bloom got this expression directly from Anthony. Now I wondered how much of Bloom’s theological baggage came along with that expression.
“I am the eggman / They are the eggmen…”
Actually, it was quite a relief to be able to so quickly locate this important verbal similarity between John Bloom and Ole Anthony, especially since Bloom traced our entire disagreement to “conflicting views of word and Word,” and set forth his “words about the Word” as the superior option. But the real reason it was such a relief was because as I scanned down the page and read the descriptions of the other messages I began having flashbacks to the reckless lifestyle I lived in the ’60s—which is really odd, because I was only 10 when they ended.
Here’s a brief sampling of blurbs describing the messages I haven’t listened to yet:
October 28, 2005:
God doesn’t want you to have an identity; He wants you to have your true personality, which can only be revealed when your identity is gone.
January 3, 2006:
In order to make this real, you have to go after what you think you want until you can experience that you don’t want it any more. What is evil, from God’s perspective, is to sit and want something in your mind and never have the courage to go after it. The church will try to get you to act like you don’t want it.
February 17, 2006:
Nobody wants to hear that his attempts to better himself, even spiritually, is the essence of what sin is. The only way you can understand Him is to be apprehended by Him. The only way to be apprehended by Him is when you are fully convinced that everything you know about is wrong.
February 7, 2007:
The Gospel. It’s not good news to modern man. The good news is simply that Messiah has come.
So that’s where N.T. Wright got that from! Oh!—sorry…where was I?
November 20, 2007:
There are two natures in us. Jesus Christ in you, God loves. You, He hates.
Well, there you go! Apparently there’s nothing wrong with me that changing everything about me can’t fix! And how hard can that be?
I just have to keep in mind that I’ll never amount to anything until I realize that I’ll never amount to anything! Then I need to get out the scissors and cut up my driver’s license and anything else that might prevent me from losing my identity so I can get a personality.
Yep, that pretty much sounds like what the other kids told me in junior high.
Then, once I lose my identity, I have to go after what I want until I don’t want it anymore—and, of course, at that point what I want will probably be to know who the heck I am…but why would I want to know that if God hates me?
Okay, let’s simplify this: all I really have to do is start out by knowing that I don’t know anything…but wait: if I know that I don’t know anything…
Man, it’s hard to be a Christian in the Trinity Foundation!
The word according to Ole
So let’s get back to our original goal: to see whether John Bloom is simply reflecting the views of his teacher, Ole Anthony, when he denies the Pauline authorship and inspiration of the Pastoral Epistles.
I began listening to Anthony’s 35-minute, 18-second “words about the Word” message from February 9, 2007 on Romans 1:2 soon after I discovered it, which was shortly after Jackie Alnor sent me the link. In the upper-right-hand corner of the page that lists Ole’s messages there’s a little paragraph that begins: “Ole’s Bible studies frequently produce cognitive dissonance (to put it nicely).” Of course, I realized that this couldn’t actually apply to faithful members of the Trinity Foundation, since they would have made sure to get rid of any cognition that could become dissonant. I, on the other hand, was another story.
My ears began perking up one minute, 48 seconds (1:48) into Ole’s message when he said, “And so, the whole idea of what are the Scriptures becomes a critical issue to whether or not we believe things.” But I would have to wait until the 4:40 mark on my Windows Media Player before Ole directly addressed this critical issue. He read through the passage in Revelation 19 and he came to the end of verse 13 in the King James Version:
“…and his name is called The Word of God.”
To me that—that’s pretty clear. And so, then, is the Bible the word of God? Well, yes and no. The Bible is words about the Word. But my position is that if we had eyes to see, if we truly understood the cross, if we truly understood the book of Revelation—I mean, Ecclesiastes, then we would be able to say that everything is-is revealing this mystery.
But what—the meaning and purpose of Scripture—and let’s go there, let’s see what—the only thing that-that the Jews and the first-century Christians, the only thing they called and named as Scripture was the Torah, the first five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.
At this point—the 5:44 mark—Anthony wanders off into a fairly bizarre narrative about Moses leaving the space-time continuum while up on Mount Sinai. (As Dave Barry would say: I am not making this up!) I guess that makes this as good a place as any to pause and reflect on the profundity of the words we have considered thus far.
If a Bible teacher answers the question “Is the Bible the word of God?” with a ludicrous statement like, “Well, yes and no,” can you ultimately blame his followers if they later turn around and say some pretty unorthodox things about the Scriptures?
And if a Bible teacher essentially says that everything is revelation (quote: “everything is-is revealing this mystery”) in a way that implies that natural revelation is equal to the Bible, should you really be surprised when his disciples say things that call into question the uniqueness of Scripture as God’s special revelation?
And if a Bible teacher limits the definition of the word “Scripture” to the Pentateuch, meaning that no other book in our Bible can be properly called “Scripture,” I ask you: where does the ultimate indictment belong when those he has taught these things turn around and treat the Pastoral Epistles as if they’re not actually Scripture?
Granted: none of these statements constitute a “smoking gun,” in the sense that they prove that Ole Anthony is the source of John Bloom’s notions about 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. And frankly, for reasons I’ll go into shortly, I don’t think such a “smoking gun” exists. I think Bloom was acting as a lone gunman when he tried to fire his magic bullet at the Pastorals.
And no, I’m not trying to say that John Bloom has no responsibility for what he wrote. Regardless of how theologically confused and spiritually disoriented one might become from sitting under the kind of nonsense that masquerades as Bible teaching from the golden trachea of Ole Anthony, his followers are responsible for what they say and write.
What I am saying is this: according to the teaching of the Scriptures—i.e., the 66 books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation—specifically, in the book of James, we learn that Ole Anthony will bear a stricter judgment for this mess than John Bloom will, since Anthony set himself up as Bloom’s teacher (James 3:1).
And how do we know that the word “Scripture” is not confined to the five books of Moses? Because the Bible tells us so. In Matthew 21:42, Jesus refers to Psalm 118:22 as part of “the Scriptures.” In Luke 4:21 He refers to Isaiah 61:1-2a as “Scripture.” In Romans 11:2 Paul calls 1 Kings 19:10-18 “Scripture.” In Luke 24:27, Luke includes the Old Testament prophets in “the Scriptures.”
Nowhere does the Bible, or any document from church history limit the term “Scripture” to the Pentateuch. The only group in the first century that was known limit the concept of “Scripture” to the five books of Moses were the Sadducees, who also denied the resurrection and the existence of angels! (Cf. Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 2nd edition [Grand Rapids, MI, USA: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993], 486.)
It’s late. I’m tired. I came home from work this afternoon, Wednesday, May 7, and dragged my sorry carcass to my computer knowing that I had to complete this blog post. I was almost completely spent, and I’d received an email earlier that day from Ole Anthony. We’d been exchanging them since late last week.
While Ole was very forthcoming about other things, I was still waiting for the answer to one simple question: “What is your definition of the Bible’s inspiration?” In his latest email he once again skirted the question. Actually, he begged the question by quoting 2 Timothy 3:16-17 to me, and at the end of his email he left his phone number. If I still had any questions, he said, I should just call him.
I honestly didn’t know if I had the energy to have a verbal face-off with this man and produce the kind of article I thought was demanded by the gravity of this situation. Should I call him, or should I just finish this post and let the chips fall?
No, I had to call him; so I did. It didn’t turn out to be as confrontational as I thought it might. A little over 13 minutes later, it was over.
When we were finished talking I still did not know how he precisely defined the inspiration of the Bible. I did, however, hear him declare that all of its 66 books are equally inspired—whatever that may mean to him. On the other hand, when I provided the traditional Christian definition, that the Holy Spirit sovereignly superintended the writing of the biblical authors so that what they produced contained the very words of God, he raised no objection.
Even better, he flatly contradicted John Bloom’s assertion that the Pastoral Epistles were not written by Paul and do not speak with the voice of God. This was good to hear. Nevertheless, he defended his assertion that only the Torah was called “Scripture” in the first century, even in the face of verses I quoted to him that proved otherwise.
Contradictions and inconsistencies remain. Some of his phone statements beg for more scrutiny than I have time for here. Of more immediate concern is the following question: how can I reconcile the Ole Anthony who spoke with me on the phone today with the Ole Anthony who said the following on February 9, 2007 (message time 11:28-12:45)?:
Okay, and then he says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” and in here he is talking specifically about what Gary was saying, this is the Torah. That’s the only thing anybody—they considered Scripture. Remember that was—that was the Torah. That was the inspiration of God. And the writings, and the prophets were given because of the people’s rebellion. But the five books were all that was necessary—and that’s what this says—“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
So, do you understand this? He’s not talking about something Paul would say, and calls it Scripture. Paul would be appalled if his writings were called Scripture. Can you understand that? Because he’s saying that everything that was necessary for you to come to the fullness of salvation was revealed in the Torah.
How I can I listen to these words and not conclude that for Ole Anthony, if the Torah was “all that was necessary,” then the rest of the Bible must be somehow, in some way, or to some extent unnecessary? How can I not conclude that someone sitting under Anthony’s teaching for an extended period of time, and being fed a steady diet of this kind of doctrine, would not come to believe that the rest of the Old Testament and the entire New Testament was not as important as the Pentateuch?
So much for Augustine’s famous adage, “The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed!” Little did he know that the New Testament didn’t actually reveal anything that wasn’t already fully revealed in the Pentateuch.
So much for Paul’s teaching that Jesus “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10)! Little did he know that Moses already brought this stuff sufficiently to light more than a thousand years earlier, making the Gospel superfluous.
So much for the fact that Peter puts Paul’s writings on a par with “the other Scriptures” “which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16, ESV). Little did he know that first century Christians such as himself only referred to the Torah as “Scripture.”
The truly appalling thing here is that a cursory scan of the descriptions on the “Bible Studies at Trinity Foundation” page would seem to indicate that there is so much more wrong with Ole Anthony’s teaching than what I’ve been able to cover here, even though Ole’s final words to me in our phone conversation conveyed assurances of his orthodoxy. I’ve already begun listening to some of them…I think we need to talk about the meaning of “orthodoxy…”
Please stay tuned…
It makes no difference if Ole believes that only the Torah is scripture or not. He is the only person there who interprets scripture and I know this sounds bizzare, reality. He is self taught and claims to have been taken out of time at his “conversion” and shown all things by “God” in an instant. He has no peers and answers to no one. John has learned all he knows about God from Ole. Ole has used these misinterpretations to control a small group of people for thirty years or so. A book called ‘I Can’t Hear God Anymore’ by Wendy Duncan (Her husband was Ole’s right hand man for twenty years) pretty much explains Ole and his little group.
Thanks for the comment you left on my blog. I have read the link you provided. All I can say is that, as a believer, SAVED BY GRACE and not by how *I* interpret Scripture, I find no problem with Ole Anthony’s interpretation of it. It’s as valid as anyone else’s. Much of it makes total sense to me. I’m not saying that I understand all of it, nor am I saying that I necessarily agree with 100% of it. But what I DO get out of it has been quite beneficial to me, spiritually. I am not, however, and do not wish to be characterized as an “orthodox Christian”, nor do I limit the scope of God’s revelation to the doctrines of Christianity (in any of MYRIAD permutations). I’m either saved by grace or I’m not. That’s the bottom line. I’m not saved by my mental capacity to understand the Bible. I’m not saved by the degree of “orthodoxy” my particular denomination/sect clings to. I’m not by the teachings of man that may be detrimental or beneficial to me. I’m not saved by agreeing or disagreeing with any teacher, preacher or zealous disciple too considered with the state of my eternal soul. My point being that I don’t really care if some people consider Anthony a heretic. I don’t follow him, but even if I did it wouldn’t matter because I know where he and all the rest of mankind stand in relation to Jesus Christ. It’s not as if he’s holding telethons to raise money so that he can propagate his views on some religious satellite television network. From listening to the morning Bible studies you can tell two things: everyone there seems to be on the same page, and nobody is telling anybody that if they don’t see things exactly like Anthony does then they are wrong and need to leave. Anyway, I am obviously no Biblical scholar and if you’ve looked at my blog you can probably see that I’d rather talk about music, write bizarre stories and chronicle basically meaningless, often mundane personal details than engage in religious discussion that almost always end with “agreeing to disagree”. I’m surprised that I’ve received comments on the Ole Anthony post. I would have thought that the posts where I fantasize about Joni Lamb and Paula White would have generated more interest. 🙂 Thanks again for the comment.
It is curious and disturbing how many people get outraged when a pastor uses his position to gain wealth from their flock. I guess it is fine to be spiritually and psychologically abused as long as the leader doesn’t get wealthy in the process. Go figure? As long as you’ve been helped spiritually by Ole that is all that really matters.
Please drop me an email sometime. My address is ronhenzel [at] comcast [dot] net.
Thanks for stopping by. I would encourage you to come back and visit from time-to-time as I continue to examine Ole Anthony’s teachings.
I was able to leave this cult after listening to an interview with Steven Hassan on the radio.It opened my eyes when he said that a group can be an abusive cult no matter their stated doctrines. Most anti-cult groups seem to focus on whether a group is orthodox or not rather than the group’s behavior toward its members. This message helped set me free. Thanks Mr. Hassan.
Thank you for once again posting a comment here. While I do not endorse 100 percent of what he has written, I think Steven Hassan’s book, Combatting Cult Mind Control, should be required reading for anyone who is trying to help people involved in cults.
And you also bring up a valid concern when it comes to the focus of those groups who are working to combat cults. Many of them (though not all) are focused solely on doctrinal matters, and tend to ignore matters of behavior and practice. This is both sad and highly unbiblical. Scripture has much to say, not only about how leaders should treat followers, but about the connection between false practice and false teaching.
Meanwhile, however, I would point out that some who study the whole field of cults and those who oppose them have been attempting to control the terminology for a while now. Sometimes these efforts have potential benefits, sometimes it’s simply an overbearing form of political correctness. As an example of the latter: some have argued that we should eliminate the word “cult” altogether, and replace it with “New Religious Movement,” or something like that. I am not in favor of this.
On the other hand, another suggestion has been put forward that we should use terminology that distinguishes between the secular and the Christian opponents of cults. This is perhaps a better idea, and these people have already started reserving the term “anti-cult” for secular groups, and “counter-cult” for Christian groups. Ironically, this means that those groups who are now often referred to as “anti-cult” (e.g., the American Family Foundation) actually have very little interest in a cult’s doctrinal positions, while groups labeled “counter-cult” are sometimes (though not always) only interested in a cult’s theology.
I’ve never tried to take a headcount of Christian “counter-cult” organizations that ignore behavioral and practical concerns, but I am encouraged that they seem to be relatively few in number. I think the vast majority of Christians who are involved in reaching cultists for Christ acknowledge that issues of orthopraxy are involved alongside issues of orthodoxy. There are some who argue that if a given group’s problems are purely behavioral in nature, and that they don’t teach any false doctrines, we should automatically exclude them from the category of “cult.” I have three problems with that: (a) it can’t be defended biblically, (b) it flies in the face of the way the word “cult” is commonly used, thus creating semantic confusion, and (c) it is too quick to grant naïve acceptance to a group’s stated doctrinal positions, which are often merely window dressing designed to hide the ugly truth of the group’s true central focus: the exaltation of its leadership above all others. In my opinion, there most certainly are “Bible-based cults” with seemingly orthodox, evangelical-sounding statements of faith, but whose practices actually constitute a denial of the doctrines they claim to uphold.
Pardon me for jumping in here. I got the idea that replies were invited. I do not know any of the people here posting, and I do not mean to be intrusive or unkind.
In response to James Casey – It’s true that everybody who is saved is saved by grace through faith (in Jesus Christ). You didn’t mention the ‘through faith (in Jesus Christ)’ part but I assume you meant it.
As for “I’m either saved by grace or I’m not. That’s the bottom line.” It’s a very important line too, but it’s by no means the only ‘line’ in the Bible.
For instance, standing up for sound doctrine, and against false doctrine, and against false teachers, is mentioned repeatedly. Perhaps I am misreading what you wrote. If so, I’d be glad for your clarification. Here’s my reaction:
Standing up for sound doctrine, and against false doctrine and false teachers is important. It’s all over the Bible.
Jesus told us to judge righteous judgement. In the book of Jude, we are warned to earnestly contend for the faith (against various false teachers). II John 1:9, for another example, says that doctrine is extremely important, and those who don’t abide in the doctrine of Christ have not God, and in vv. 10 and 11 people are warned not to let teachers of false doctrine into their houses, or bid them God speed.
Second Peter warns that no prophecy of scripture has a private interpretation, and goes on to warn about false teachers (in a passage quite similar to that in Jude).
In Hebrews 2:1, 2:7, 2:10, 6:1, 6:2, and 13:9, doctrine is mentioned specifically.
In Titus 1:9, we’re told to be faithful to the word and sound doctrine, followed by a mention of deceivers “whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things they ought not.”
I think that’s probably enough examples. There are plenty more. Trying to make sure which doctrines are right, or wrong, and who is ok, and who is subverting whole houses (or leading people astray) – that’s a really important thing to do.
But you seem to be saying you can listen to this fella and just take the part out that benefits you, and ignore the rest, and so what’s the problem?
Well, maybe you can ignore the bad and just benefit from the truth.
Can some listen to heresy, or false teaching, and not be harmed? Can some tell which part is false teaching, and which part isn’t? Some. Sure.
The problem is that some, especially in these days, can’t. They’re led astray by it. The Bible warns about that over and over again too. We aren’t to be led astray, or to allow others to be led astray. Even if we can listen to false teaching and not be harmed, others might be, and we’ve still got those pesky commands in the Bible to contend for the faith and against false doctrine.
It’s not a non-issue. It’s a big issue.
Every time someone says or writes, as you have, “I don’t care if person x is a heretic” or “there are a ‘myriad of permutations’ in Christianity (so presumably there’s no use trying to discern what’s good or bad)” then my first reaction is to call that a cop-out – a way to avoid using wisdom or judgement at all. Maybe you don’t mean it that way, and maybe you do, but it sure sounds like it.
Oh sure, the cop-out has many benefits, because if you dismiss the whole question of telling between sound and false doctrine, then you can avoid obeying the Bible and taking on the responsibility to “contend earnestly for the faith” and the like.
We all will still have to answer at some point before the Lord of Glory for how we obeyed what he told us to do.
Of course we all make mistakes. Of course we all fall short. That doesn’t mean we are supposed to give up trying to determine what is false teaching, or doctrine, and what is sound doctrine – finding the good and thinking on it and promoting it and clinging to it and DOING it! (Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. – Ephesians 4: 8-9)
I have listened to some of Ole Anthony’s Bible studies for a number of months. Though he hasn’t written much he does say he learned much from Norman Grubb and Union Life (Bill Volkman). I read a few of Grubb’s books and also Bill Volkman’s and found them to really help one understand “this mystery, Christ in you,” which is what Ole talks much about.
Sorry to resurrect a dormant thread but my Ole radar first clicked on way back when I read or heard him mention – quite seriously – how his groups observes something called Ob, a (purportedly, I haven’t looked it up) Jewish ritual that involves not bathing for a time. At first I figured that was just a Door-ish gag, but was disturbed to find no evidence that it was a joke.
That, coupled with the quote above that everything one needs to know for salvation is contained in the Torah (a damnable lie), proves that Ole is not saved and is preaching a false gospel. I do not judge him; his own words show there is no light in him and that his destiny is the lake of fire, lest he repent.
Sorry, submitted too soon.
I once thought Anthony did an admirable service in exposing televangelist fraud, but now see it was ultimately in vain. True Bereans were seeing through their doctrinal twistings without Anthony’s help long before his efforts, and unbelievers don’t really care either way, they just love the Christ-muddying controversy.
In any case, predatory televangelism still exists. It has changed form and tactics, true, but that’s probably attributable less to the work of Anthony and others and more to changing demographics, audience boredom, hype fatigue, etc. Anthony’s efforts were largely wasted.
I just have to wonder where, in Anthony’s mind, where he thinks he has glorified Christ by spending so many years digging through the trash of already obvious frauds and using the Door to make snarky, sarcastic jokes in His name.