Crouch's Magic Word Explore More Content
What's more important--what the Bible says, or what it means? Greg takes issue with some of Paul Crouch's comments, in a Trinity Broadcasting Network newsletter, on the power of our words.
This piece that I want to read you comes from the publication Praise the Lord , April 1993. This is current. It's a newsletter put out by Paul Crouch from TBN, Channel 40.
It's not unusual for Craig Hawkins, John Stewart and myself or others like us, Christian Research Institute, to be in the role of looking closely at people's doctrine and seeing what's being taught and raising questions in the public arena and asking whether things are sound or accurate or right and true and good, even among members of the Body of Christ, members that identify themselves with Christianity. Some people get very uncomfortable with that. They accuse us of dividing the Body and assaulting other Christians and say that we shouldn't correct each other in public. They think that maybe we're just straining at a gnat and splitting hairs and trying to dance on the head of a pin and making a mountain out of a mole hill. As a matter of fact, we're called heresy hunters by some in a disparaging fashion. I don't consider myself a heresy hunter at all. I consider myself a Christian who's concerned with the truth and my attempts are to try and clarify what the truth is and challenge those things that are mistaken.
Incidentally, I am not at all placing myself above everybody else in so doing because my job in the Body of Christ is to simply use the best thinking and resources that I have to try and determine what the truth is and to promote it. But in so doing I expect that others will do the same with regard to me. My issues, my ideas, my conclusions are certainly open to scrutiny like anyone else's. I don't threaten you with the Holy Ghost machine gun if you should challenge my notions on something. I think it should be an open field here where everybody puts their cards on the table and may the best ideas win whether they're theological ideas or ethical ideas or value ideas.
In this particular situation we're talking more about theological ideas. I want to speak more to those of you who feel very uncomfortable when Christians appear to attack other Christians on doctrinal issues and create a certain amount of division, especially when these other Christians are people who have seemed to have made a very significant and important contribution. I just want to read straight through this. And for those of you who are thinking it may be inappropriate to raise the question, I just want you to tell me that you feel entirely comfortable with what is being said here, because if you're not feeling comfortable it seems to me that one at least has to raise some questions about some of these statements. If you do feel comfortable then I'm kind of curious what your commitment is to the truth.
Let me just read what this says. This is Praise the Lord , April 1993, Volume 20, Number 4. It's called "The Sword or the Word."
"AND OUT OF HIS MOUTH WENT A SHARP TWO-EDGED SWORD..." Rev. 1:16.
I shall never forget a night when a truth was spoken that changed my life. Dr. Fred Price , pastor of Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles, was our special guest. Jan and I were basically familiar with what has come to be known as the "WORD OF FAITH," or sometimes called the "CONFESSION" movement. But a simple illustration given by Pastor Price that night opened my spirit to an awesome TRUTH that I believe is absolutely vital to the very SURVIVAL of the Church today!
Oh, how the heresy hunters have ranted and raged against this teaching! They have derided it by labeling it the "Name It and Claim It" movement, or the "Gab It and Grab It" teaching. I would be very careful how I characterize any spiritual truth revealed by the Spirit of God to men and women of God!Why? God's Word declared:
"DEATH AND LIFE ARE IN THE POWER OF THE TONGUE" Prov. 18:21.
By the way, I have learned an important secret: Any time the Heretic Hunters rant and rage against ANYTHING, you had better take another look--there just may be a valid truth involved that Satanwants to destroy, or at least divert our attention from, through controversy WITHIN the body of Christ! But back to the truth that the Holy Spirit revealed on PRAISE THE LORD.
To illustrate the importance of SPEAKING the Word , Pastor Price took us back to Genesis Chapter One. He pointed out that in each and every creative act of God, the WORD had to be spoken . "AND GOD SAID, LET THERE BE LIGHT." Again and again the Word came forth: "And God said...." Pastor Price said, "Now, if I had been writing this passage, I would have written, "AND GOD CREATED THE FOLLOWING: LIGHT, LAND, FIRMAMENT, ANIMALS, MAN, ETC." Why would God give us so much boring repetition by recording, "AND GOD SAID," over and over for each and every creative act? Finally it HIT us all , God HAD to SAY it because it was the speaking forth of HisWORD that brought the thing spoken into BEING!
As the teaching that night developed, we began to see that just about EVERYTHING, good or bad, originates with the SPOKEN WORD and the tongue-- even our Salvation . "If thou shalt CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH the Lord Jesus..." Rom. 10:10, and again: "Whosoever shall SAY to that mountain..." Mk. 11:23. The subject is too vast to deal with in a letter like this, but let us see before moving on that even the Earth, Sun, Moon and Stars are held in place by the WORD:
"AND UPHOLDING ALL THINGS BY THE WORD OF HIS POWER" Heb. 1:3.
(All emphases in the original.)
Now it goes on. I want to stop here and make some observations. But let me ask a question first. You've been listening to what Paul has written. Is anybody besides me uncomfortable with these statements?
Before going on, I am very aware that this treatment is sprinkled liberally with Scripture verses and that's as it should be. However, the critical issue is not what the Scripture says. The critical issue is what the Scripture means. Of course, we get to the meaning by looking at what it says, but it's not enough to simply quote a verse and assume that we know what that verse means. We must look more closely at it because words can be misunderstood and misused. I want to look a little closer at Paul Crouch's explanations of the verses he quotes to determine what he thinks these Scriptures actually mean. The question is not are these verses valid verses? Every verse that we quote is a true verse. The point is do these verses really substantiate the argument that Paul Crouch is putting forward about the power of the tongue? We have to look closely at what Paul seems to be asserting regarding the power of the word.
He's got three things that he lists here. First of all, the word brought the whole world into being. Secondly, he says that even the earth, sun, the moon and stars are held in their place by the word quoting Hebrews 1. He also says that the word originated our salvation. You say that sounds pretty orthodox. That's what Scripture teaches.
The reason I raise the questions is because what the Bible means when it says "the Word" in these different places--"the Word brought the whole world into being" and "the earth, sun, moon and stars are held in place by the Word" and "the Word originates our salvation"--is a different thing than what Paul means when he talks about it. More to the point, what is the particular Word that has the power that Paul describes? What is being referred to by Paul is the spoken word, not the Word which is the Second Person of the Trinity. He is not saying that the Second Person of the Trinity brought the whole world into being, that the earth, the sun, the moon and stars are held in place by God and that God originates salvation. He is saying, as Paul himself describes it, "the spoken word and the tongue." In other words, that which comes off of your lips and off of the lips of God as it were is what has the innate, inherent power to accomplish these other things. It is a power, by the way (and this is very important that you see this so you understand that I am not merely splitting hairs about words) it is a power that even God, the divine Word is subject to.
Listen to the words once again. God must necessarily invoke this word to create anything. "God HAD to SAY it (and the emphasis is in the original) because it was the speaking forth of His WORD that brought the thing spoken intoBEING!" Now I could be wrong about what Paul Crouch really means here, but if words are so important to him you'd expect him to be very careful about how he uses them. In fact, he's saying that death and life are in the power of the tongue. I personally think that he is saying just what he means. I quote again, "God HAD to SAY it because it was thespeaking forth of His WORD that brought the thing spoken into BEING! "
Here's what that statement amounts to, my friends. This is why I think we ought to be concerned about this because something very clear is being said here. Speaking is a mystical power above God that even God must tap into. Now there are a couple of reasons why this last statement can't possibly be true. The first reason is that God is not contingent upon anything. God doesn't have to with regard to anything outside of Him. The only thing He has to is with regard to Himself. In other words, God has to live righteously but it's not because He's compelled by some outside moral law to do so. It's because it's His nature to do so and He's not following or obeying His nature, He's merely being Himself. So God is not contingent on anything. God doesn't answer to anyone. God doesn't have to invoke any outside power in order to accomplish anything.
The second thing is the reason I know that God didn't have to speak in order to create is because God doesn't have a mouth. He has no tongue that can form words. When we read about God speaking it's an anthropomorphism. It is using language that relates to a body to help us understand something. God willed this is the point. It is not His speaking forth into the universe. Speaking requires a tongue and lips and vocal chords and it also requires vibrating air to make a sound. And according to this passage, all of those things were spoken into being, so how could He speak without the mechanism to speak? You think, "It says He spoke." Well, yes, of course. But it's not saying He spoke like we speak. God willed it. That's all there was to it. He willed it. His term for it was that He spoke, but of course we know that He couldn't have spoken because we know that He doesn't have a mouth.
By the way, I have heard other people say that because of this statement in the Bible that God must have a mouth and a Body and He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve and it's just a very simplistic look at the text. I guess from that perspective we'd have to say that God is a bird or that He has feathers because Psalm 91 says that He covers us with His pinions (those are feathers). Does God have feathers? Of course not. This is way of describing something that is literally true, His protective nature, but it's an anthropomorphism or simile--pictures to help us understand a literal truth.
So you may be saying that I'm simply fussing about words. And I have three things to respond to that. First of all, this is precisely Paul's point. We ought to fuss about words. Words are everything to Paul because Paul believes that words are everything to God.
Secondly, this is a legitimate concern about words because words are used to communicate accurate information about God and His world. That is a definition of truth. And if our words are wrong then the information those words convey is going to be wrong as well. Words are very important to God because they're a means of communicating.
Third, this isn't a noncritical, arbitrary distinction. In my way of thinking, the word is dependent upon something prior to it. The word that is spoken, the word that God supposedly "speaks," the words that you and I speak are dependent upon something prior to it. They are dependent upon the speaker. God's words are dependent upon God, our words are dependent on us. It's the word of His power that does it. But according to Paul's statement God is the one who is dependent upon the one prior to Him. God depends on the word, not the word on God. Big difference there. It's all the difference in the world. And it's a difference that we should point out.
It's appropriate for us to do because words are not magic. This is Paul Crouch's magic word. Words are not magic. God is powerful and He uses His will to express Himself to accomplish whatever He wants to and we participate in that by an act of our will. Our words sometimes express that will but the words themselves are not magic.
And by the way, what is wrong with being a heresy hunter? Think about that. Would it be better if no one was willing ask the hard questions, if no one were poking around looking for theological distinctions? Is that the kind of church that you want to live in? Let's get rid of everybody who asks the hard questions or who raises the concern. Let's get rid of everyone who points the finger. Sometimes pointing fingers land on guilty subjects. And there's only one way to find out. It's to point the finger and then look at the evidence.
Has God not commissioned us to protect His word? Has He not commissioned the church in general, and if He has then He's commissioned individual people to be more alert to that than some others. That's the illustration of the body in 1 Corinthians 12. That's why every part of the body has a particular job. We work together for the fullness of the Body. You've got everybody doing a different job. So it seems to me if God is concerned about truth then there are going to be some people placed in the body that are especially concerned about watching for the nastiness that creeps in. Didn't Paul himself say "Guard the flock"? Didn't he warn the Ephesian elders in chapter 20 of the book of Acts that this kind of thing was going to happen? Didn't he tell Titus to refute those in error? Didn't he tell Timothy that many are causing division and problems? Didn't Jesus Himself talk about this kind of thing? This is a very important part of the church.
The absolutely vital truth, as Crouch puts it, that's necessary to the survival of the church today has nothing to do with speaking certain kinds of words. The Bible doesn't teach that that's a vital truth, but is does teach that it's vital that we guard the truth and watch out for it. It doesn't mean that the heresy hunters are always right. They're not. We're not.
Can you imagine someone saying, "Oh him? He's a policeman. That jerk is always slinking around looking for someone committing a crime. What a creep." Can you imagine that? "I wish all of those policemen would just disappear." What kind of person would make a remark like that? A criminal. A criminal makes that kind of remark. Only criminals are afraid of policemen.
I'm not a theological criminal and that's why I'm not afraid of heresy hunters. Let them come on with force and pick at me from one end to the other because if there's something wrong with my teaching it's got to go. That should be the attitude of every Christian who is working on behalf of the Body of Christ in my view. And the only ones who squawk about the heresy hunters are those that have something to fear from heresy hunters. I think what Paul Crouch is saying is don't hunt for heresy on my turf.
My friends, I'm extending an open invitation for you to hunt for heresy right here where I live. If it's there then let's get rid of it.
At least that's the way I see it.