(This originally appeared in the Winter 1999 edition of the MCOI Journal beginning on page 6)
by Sarah Flashing
Angels have spoken. Well, supposedly. Nick Bunick, subject of the 1996 book The Messengers, claims to have received messages from angels encouraging him to reveal the transcripts from his past-life, regression-therapy sessions. How did they encourage him? Did they stop by and have coffee? No, they used a sort of numerology by sending messages through the number four. Friends were awakened at 4:44 A.M. and moved to write down messages to him through channeling and automatic writing. Whether these angels are a product of fiction or demonic forces in disguise, it is hard to know. Bunick came to believe the number four had tremendous spiritual significance.
Nick Bunick claims to have discovered (through regression therapy) that he is the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. Although he claims never to have read the New Testament and never to have received any Christian training, Christian doctrines such as sin, salvation, and the after-life are addressed with overwhelming contradiction to the Bible. The number four is important because, according to Bunick, the apostles and early Christians got it wrong. There isn’t a trinity but a quadrinity consisting of Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and man. Co-written by G.W. Hardin and hypnotherapist Julia Ingram, The Messengers is a distortion of biblical truths shaded with the ideologies of the New Age Movement.
This fictitious account of the life of the Apostle Paul is very disturbing. The conversion of Paul from an adversary of Christians to a great defender of the faith holds a major portion of the New Testament. The Messengers completely twists Paul’s life story, turning him into a follower of Jesus and His teachings during His earthly ministry. However, the historical New Testament account presents a very different picture. Acts chapter nine states that it was on a trip to Damascus, with the purpose of returning with Jewish believers in Jesus to put on trial before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, that Saul (who became Paul) had his encounter with the resurrected Jesus and his conversion occurred.
The authors of The Messengers even go so far as to say:
“Paul’s writings . . have been construed as the word of God” (p.185).
It is not as if this claim (that Paul’s words are Scripture) isn’t made by the Biblical writers. For instance, Peter states:
“. . . as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:14-16, NKJV).
Peter is equating Paul’s writings with “the rest of Scripture,” which indicates that his writings are, indeed, inspired. He is able to validate them as Scripture because he had asserted:
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty”(2 Peter 2:16).
The implication of Bunick’s use of the term “construed” also implies that Scripture can’t be trusted, and over the years, layers of tradition have imposed themselves over the original teachings. The fact remains that Paul’s letters were all written prior to 70 A.D., and there is less than one percent of textual variation in any of the numerous New Testament manuscripts. Peter shares that his teachings are first-hand and are not tainted by the distortions of false teachers. Combining these facts with the accuracy among the manuscripts, we can know that Scripture can be trusted.
The teachings of Christ are subtly and, in some places, boldly altered in words and meaning. It seems as though Bunick, under hypnosis, has clarified for us that “karma” was originally one of
Christ’s teachings. Of course, Bunick doesn’t cite any reference for this. Perhaps, this was found in the Book of “Delusions” but was misplaced, and today, that’s why it can’t be found within the sacred Scriptures! Possibly, an evil monk removed it from the sacred text (as evil monks are known to do) and used it for fire starter.
As defined, karma is the force generated by a person’s actions to perpetuate transmigration and, in its ethical consequences, to determine the nature of the person’s next existence. This definition closely resembles that which Bunick states is Jesus’ view of punishment.
“But we are responsible for the things that we do that are wrong, and we will have to atone for them and pay for them until we have counterbalanced the wrong we do . . . Everything that we do, whether it’s good or bad towards others, will someday, in this lifetime or a future lifetime, be repaid” (p.158).
This teaching leads into a further twisting of essential biblical truths. The term “born again” has been conveniently transformed to “rebirth” (p.159) and that:
“we experience rebirth continually until we reach that level” [where rebirth is no longer needed] (p.159).
The Scriptures say otherwise:
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The Bible directly refutes the teaching of karma! Conveying the idea that the individual has the power or the ability to be a “good person” is all that is important allows one to rely on oneself rather than seek God. This puts the individual in a very dangerous place.
“He [Jesus] teaches them that they can have God within them, and that they can forgive themselves for their sins” (p.187).
The danger here is that there is no good in us capable of divine forgiveness. Paul makes this quite clear.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells . . .” (Romans 7:18).
But in Scripture, the Apostle Paul also addresses how we do receive forgiveness for sin. Obviously, it isn’t achieved on our own. In Ephesians he writes:
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
Further explanation of “the Lord’s” teachings by Bunick under hypnosis brings us to “punishment.” As Christians, we understand that “punishment” is a consequence of sin. We also understand that decisions have eternal ramifications, and that Hell is a consequence for those who deny Jesus as Lord and Savior. In the words of Jesus himself:
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18).
More New Age notions are revealed in The Messengers at this point. In view of the misconception of punishment, the assumption that Christianity teaches punishment is handed out unjustly and it has nothing to do with the actions of the person, New Age thinking reasons that:
“God doesn’t punish. God is a loving God” (p.161).
This is intended to make the Christian doctrine appear as being self-contradicting. Bunick continues, sharing more of the teachings of his “Jesus” saying:
“we’re all part of God, that He would not hurt us” (p.161).
This is a popular and twisted philosophy. Yes, He is a loving God, but He is also just. In order to exhibit His love and remain just, He provided a perfect sacrifice for all people, the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18). One must choose to accept that sacrifice, to allow Jesus into their lives — to believe in God’s boundless love toward undeserving sinners.
The New Age teaching that “we’re all part of God” is also of primary importance to this book. For an individual to have the power to atone for one’s own sins would make them God with no need for the Savior. Under this New Age guise, all power for atonement is with the individual and not with Jesus who is necessary because it is He who atoned for our sins, the spotless lamb.
The apostle John said:
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
However, Bunick shares that there is part of us that is God (p.173). He also states “God and nature are one” (p.173). This is pantheism, which is the belief that god is everything and everything is god. The Scriptures are quite unequivocal that nature is part of God’s creation, and itself is not God, the creator. According to the view of Bunick and his spirit guides, nature is God or part of God, and thus, nature is it’s own creator.
The identity of “Jesus” (according to Bunick in more regression therapy) is quite fascinating. Scattered throughout the book are tidbits as to who this other Jesus is. Bunick believes Jesus:
“has knowledge of who he has been in previous lives . . .” (p.174).
We have Jesus the reincarnated! Furthermore, he states, regarding healing:
“he can’t do it if they don’t accept what he’s saying” (p.188).
Now we are introduced to a limited God. Bunick also says Jesus taught that by doing healings, credibility is established in getting people:
“to accept Jeshua as the medium between the part of God that is within them and our creator. Jeshua is to be the messenger between that part of God which is in all of us and God who is the Father and Mother of us all” (p.269).
I imagine the Apostle John would be quite surprised by this since he wrote:
“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3).
Jesus is not part of creation; He is the creator. According to The Messengers, Jesus is only a messenger, and the deity is twisted to include the politically-correct female figure.
Finally, in understanding who Jesus is in relationship to God, Bunick says Jesus taught that:
“we’re all children. We’re all sons and daughters of God. We all are, and we all have God within us. A part of God . . . He says that we should get in touch what’s inside of us and have God become part of our daily life” (p.173).
No matter how true some of this statement may sound, Jesus is the Son of God, and even believers are only adopted as sons and daughters (see Ephesians 1:5). Of course, we should have God as a part of our daily life; but until a person accepts Jesus as one’s Savior, one is not a child of God.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
Salvation is another essential doctrine that has been seriously distorted. In continued hypnosis sessions, Bunick speaks of the disciples, saying that he’s:
“not too enthusiastic about what they’re doing right now or the way they are going about it” (p.247).
When asked about what he’s unhappy about, he responds:
“For one thing, they’re saying that unless you accept Jeshua as the Messiah, you cannot have salvation. But there are many, many lands, many places far from here where the people will never come in contact with Jeshua or with his teachings. Are we to believe that these people will not have salvation even though they have lived a good life, as far as honoring the laws of God . . . They’re putting fear in people’s hearts . . .” (p.247).
This is an argument I have heard many times from skeptics and those with a New Age way of thinking. Deeply humanistic people, with universalistic beliefs, confusing reverence and fear.
No matter how unappealing they believe it to be, salvation is found only through Christ.
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by whichwe must be saved” (Acts 4:12, cf. Acts 16:31).
“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and thelife. No one comes to the Father except through Me”(John 14:6).
Bunick takes this even a step further:
“I also understand that they’re having people sell all their possessions and donate it to their cause. I understand that this is providing them with the wealth they need to continue spreading . . . the Good News”(p.247).
This makes the disciples appear as if they are becoming rich through ministry!
The Messengers is guilty of the unbiblical teachings of the New Age and Word-Faith movements. It does not define important terms: terms like salvation, Messiah, or Savior. It tiptoes around the subject of sin. It does not teach that the Bible says the wages of sin is eternal separation from God. It does not teach that Jesus is the only way to God. Of course, it removes the doctrine of Hell. Most of all, it attempts to turn the Bible into a work of fiction based on the testimony of “angels” during hypnotherapy.
I end with a final thought. Bunick’s recollections of his past life as the Apostle Paul contradict so much of what has been documented, is that to say that the thousands of Bible manuscripts are inaccurate? In the sacred words of Paul, “May it never be!”Ω
*All Bible quotations are from the NKJV (New King James Version).
Our thanks go to Sarah Flashing for her review of The Messengers. Sarah is married and the mother of three little boys. She and her family reside in Brookfield, IL and are members of LaGrange Bible Church. In addition, she attends Trinity International University majoring in Christian Ministry. Her interest in apologetics/countercult ministry developed over many years of attending different Christian and cult organizations. She has a personal ministry vision to aid in equipping the church with the knowledge to counter the secular humanism/relativism of our popular culture for the purpose of evangelism.
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