Jesus warned that “many false prophets will appear and deceive many people” (Mat. 24:11). Paul reaffirmed this warning:
- In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim. 3:12-13)
Neither exempted pastors and scholars from the company of “false prophets” and “imposters.” In Integral Christianity: The Spirit's Call to Evolve, former pastor Paul R. Smith is a good example of a false prophet:
- Jesus not only taught a radically new stage of unconditional love toward one another, he based it on a new perspective about God. He rejected the previous perception of God as violent and vengeful to the wicked which runs throughout the Old Testament. The new perspective is that God is kind and merciful to the wicked. Jesus modeled this and taught this. He stood in direct opposition to the divine violence of the Old Testament and, later on, parts of the New Testament. “Kind and merciful” was Jesus’ attitude toward the “sinners” of his day. The essence of his own relationship to his Abba God was that God was compassionate—not vengeful. Jesus practiced and preached this. If God practiced what Jesus preached, then God is not vengeful as the Old Testament vividly and repeatedly portrays. According to the new developmental stage introduced by Jesus, God is only compassion.
According to Smith, the Old Testament got God wrong, but Jesus has set the record straight with His presentation of a kinder more merciful God – “only compassion” - than the ruthless one of the Israelites. However, is this what Jesus actually taught?
Although Jesus taught that He was the bearer of a New Covenant, in no way did he ever claim that the Hebrew Scriptures had been mistaken, as Smith claims. Instead, He systematically affirmed the teachings of these Scriptures. In many respects, His teachings on God’s judgment are even more stringent! Here are just a few examples:
- Mat. 5:22 And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
- Mat. 5:28-30 Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
- Mat. 5:32 Anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
- Mat. 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
- Mat. 13:49-50 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- Mat. 18:9 And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
- Mat. 25:51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- Mat. 25:46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
- John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
- John 5:29 Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.
How would Smith respond when confronted with such verses? He would deny that they were really the words of Jesus! However, with the absolute freedom he has granted himself to re-invent the teachings of Jesus, he can justify absolutely anything! And this is just what he does. He is now able to trot out on his Hollywood stage a postmodern, integral Jesus who affirms just about any religion and any pathway to God – just the type of god that our educated elites are seeking after.
Smith is like the false prophets of the Old Testament, telling the Israelites exactly what they wanted to hear – “peace, peace” as destruction was about to consume them.
There are many Smiths out there to choose from. They all have a comfortable message that will fit right in with your lifestyle. No need to make any sacrifice! Jesus warned that the false prophets will deceive many:
- Mat. 24:24-25 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.
He warned us. We have to take Him seriously!