Discernment and Counter-Cult Ministries

“True wisdom is not manifested in trying to see resemblances in things which differ, but in discerning the real difference among those which resemble one another.”

"The shocking fact regarding many popular, so-called "discernment" ministries is their lack of genuine biblical discernment on the core issue of whether God or Man is sovereign in salvation. Such blindness is profoundly disturbing, the zenith of irony, and a testimony to the power of the world and its current angelic prince."  DRS

"Some think they must know errors and heresies in order to avoid them.  Do you think the Father wants us to be acquainted with what is evil in that way?  Not at all.  We do not need to explore and know ALL the evil; we cannot afford to waste our time in this way.  If we occupy ourselves with evil we shall in some way be colored by it.  The greatest thing is to be hidden with Him.  In this day of religious evil the only true preservation is to be kept abiding in the Lord Jesus above."  CAC

Warning!  An overwhelming majority of “discernment” and “counter-cult” ministries are non-denominational as well as non-dispensational.  Non-denominational ministries became popular back during the first half of the 20th century as fundamentalist believers came together to battle the heresy of liberalism in their respective denominations.  Organizationally speaking, the fundamental/evangelical believers lost the battle and were forced to withdraw, subsequently forming lowest-common-denominator associations.  In the aftermath, intentional lack of doctrinal transparency and "division-phobia" became the status-quo among a majority of non-denominationalists.  In their view, to revisit historical controversies (e.g., Arminian vs. Calvinist) spelled certain division for either group or church.  However, fellowship with God in truth and the light should be the only divine basis for unity among brethren.

Today, the orientation of a majority of these discernment ministries is Arminian, while a smaller number are Calvinistic.  Some are theologically syncretistic on the issue of determinism vs. indeterminism, adamantly shout "Jesus and the Bible Only!", thereby claiming to be above all theological systems and 2,000 years of church history.  This attitude is reminiscent of the 1960s Jesus People movement.   Many lack doctrinal transparency.  If a website avoids stating or even hides its orientation (using a minimalist Trinitarian/evangelical statement doesn't count for adequate transparency), we next look to see who they've linked to for an indication of their doctrinal sympathies.  All Christians (even those who claim 'super-spirituality') have doctrinal sympathies, whether they openly acknowledge them or not.

The primary problem with most discernment ministries is their sole, self-appointed role in the body of Christ is to singularly point out heresy.  Most fail or refuse to understand (diagnose) heresy’s cause(s), neither can they offer cures that are either preventative or curative.  These are those “…who love nothing more than ‘gatekeeping’, ‘controlling the switches’, and ‘patrolling the boundaries’”, "watchers on the wall" who expect great reward.

The late Dr. Kenneth Good wrote, "Theological Liberalism, which we utterly abhor and publicly repudiate, and with which we will have no fellowship, is based upon human rationalization to the total or partial exclusion of divine revelation.  Arminianism is philosophically identical.  Its presuppositions are the same.  Humanistic reasoning is placed in direct opposition to divine revelation.  The difference between Liberalism and Arminianism is one of degree and not of kind.  Both are the children of humanistic rationalism.  Arminianism therefore produces the soil in which Liberalism [and a host of other heresies, e.g. Emergent] can flourish." 

Arminian-based ministries fail to understand that they share the same humanistic foundational tenet (free will) with many of the groups or religious movements they seek to expose.  The doctrine of free will is the seedbed of heresy, and this might explain why Arminian-oriented discernment ministries far outnumber all others--their fellowships and churches have and continue to be hotbeds of apostasy.  By contrast, Calvinists reject the free will tenet, but their non-Pauline approach to Christian living--law as a rule of life--leads to hypocrisy and defeat.

Non-dispensational groups, Arminian or Calvinist, typically advocate “Kingdom building” though use of “charismata-gifts” or “apologetics,” respectively.  Because of their failure to rightly divide the Word, some in both groups advocate "tongues for today" and/or even “demonism" and "spiritual warfare.”  Some individuals and ministries border on emotional hysteria over "conspiracies" and the flood tide of apostasy.

However, it is identification-based spiritual growth which is to protect both individual Christian and the Church corporately from error, not the gift of "discerning of spirits" (1 Corinthians 12:10) nor any so-called "word of discernment" from a charismatic leader!  Despite the incessant preaching on "spiritual gifts," heard from pulpits, the list of gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:7-11; 14:1-32 are no more.

Not clear on the differences between Arminian, Calvinist, and biblically Pauline?  Read: From Arminius, to Calvin, to Paul.

In identifying "who's who" below, we are not suggesting that all of these ministries are devoid of value.  Far from it.  Yet believers must learn to glean the wheat and toss the chaff.  This can be difficult for young Christians, and so we have assembled various categories below to help in the growth and maturing process.

Arminian/Wesleyan/Pentecostal


A Christian Journey - Cassandrah Batya (Closed down)

Alliance of Biblical Pentecostals – Gary Osbourne,

Apologetics For Christians - Kelly & Theresa Powers

Apologetics Index - Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson,

Apostasy Alert - Jackie Alnor

Apostasy Revealed - Clive J. Smith

Apostasy Watch - Steve Lumbley

The Berean Call - Dave Hunt & T. A. McMahon

Cephas Ministry - Nicholas A. Stivers and Rita Williams, &

Christian Research Service - Bud Press

Christian Research Institute - Hank Hanegraaff, D

Critical Issues Commentary - Bob DeWaay,

Deception in the Church - Sandy Simpson, N

Discernment-Ministries/HERESCOPE - Jewel van der Merwe, now Jewel Grewe,

Eastern Regional Watch - Steve Muse,

In Plain Sight.org - Carol & Al Brooks,

Let Us Reason - Mike Oppenheimer,

Moriel Ministries - James Jacob Prasch, Y

Olive Tree Ministries - Jan Markell, Y O

Reasoning for the Scriptures - Ron Rhodes

Spiritual Counterfeits Project - Tal Brooke

Spiritual Research Network - Chris Lawson,

Spiritwatch Ministries - several Pentecostals,

The Berean Call - Dave Hunt, T. A. McMahon

The Discernment Web Ring - Several,

TNN Online - John K. McKee,  Y,

Understanding the Times, Int'l - Roger Oakland

Wood and Steel - Scott MacIntyre (Closed down)

 

Calvinistic/Reformed


 

Alpha and Omega Ministries - James R. White

Apprising Ministries - Ken Silva,

Berean Beacon - Richard Bennett

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Rick Miesel

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) - Matthew J. Slick,

Christian Research Net - Ken Silva and other contributors, [

Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet - Dr. Peter Jones

Christian Worldview Network.com - Brannon S. Howse

Discernment.org - Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Faith Defenders - Dr. Robert Morey

Lighting the Way International - Dwayna Litz, [N

Phil Johnson's Bookmarks - Phillip R. Johnson

Slice of Laodicea - Ingrid Schlueter

Stand To Reason - Gregory Koukl,

 

Syncretistic

Sovereignty + Free Will


Kjos Ministries - Berit Kjos, [G

Lighthouse Trails Research Project - Deborah Dombrowski, [G

 

Y - Messianic, - Non-cessationist, N - Demonism/Spiritual Warfare

& - King James Only, D - Preterist, G - Jesus and the Bible Only!

[ Doctrinally Syncretistic (Sovereignty of God AND Sovereignty of Man)

O - Dispensational

Other Ministries


Critical Issues Commentary - Bob DeWaay, :  DeWaay's spiritual journey includes an early slog through charismania, but also graduation from North Central Bible College (Pentecostal) and Bethel Seminary (Pentecostal).  His ministry is generally on solid ground regarding the subject of free will, a rare phenomena indeed.  See his article here.  This appears attributable to sovereign grace, exposure to Reformed and Lutheran scholars, and "verse by verse expository teaching and preaching" in a pastoral setting.  His academic background and having little-to-no exposure to dispensational scholars may explain his non-cessationist views.

Watchman Fellowship - James K. Walker, This site is large and maintained by a professional staff.  Evangelical, baptistic.

 

 

Messianic

Messianic approaches to combine OT & NT are heretical


Abrahamic Faith - Simon Altaf, YN

(New Covenant Israel -- Assembly of Yahshua)

 (allows for polygamy)

B'nai Yahshua Synagogues Worldwide Y

(New Covenant Israel -- Assembly of Yahshua)

 (allows for polygamy)

Moriel Ministries - James Jacob Prasch, Y

Rock Salt Publishing - James Sundquist, Y

TNN Online - John K. McKee,  Y

 

 

Dispensational-Premillennial


Probe Ministries - Jimmy Williams, Kerby Anderson, Rusty Wright, O

 

Research assistance from Susan Plunkett, SC  

 

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