***This post will be a little longer than usual, due to the amount of material needing to be covered.***
What makes someone a heretic? Who is qualified to make this determination?
A heretic is a person who departs from recognized orthodoxy, or we might say more accurately one who believes and promotes beliefs contrary to Scripture. Unfortunately, history is riddled with the misapplication of the term. Some who held faithfully to Scripture were labeled heretics, even unto martyrdom. Others were rightly labeled heretics and cast out, treated like a gentile tax collector.
Labeling someone a heretic is serious business, particularly as it relates to the people of God. In essence, it is a functional utilization of the keys to the kingdom by which the people of God are given power and authority to bind and loose within and without the kingdom of God.
Under the Mosaic economy, the nation of Israel was given specific commands regarding the heretics of their day. In Deuteronomy 13:1-5 we read,
“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Likewise, in Deuteronomy 18:20-22
“20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.“
Fortunately for us (and maybe also for so-called heretics!) we do not live under the Mosaic economy, so stoning false prophets is no longer a requirement (or legal!). Regardless, the seriousness of presumptuously speaking for the Lord can be felt in the passage above.
Before we get into further discussion of the man and ministry under examination in this series, Arnold Murray, and weigh whether he is in fact heretical, let’s briefly identify several key attributes of a heretic, the anatomy of a heretic so to speak:
- A head full of knowledge but never arriving at the truth.
- Eyes blinded to the truths of God’s Word.
- Ears that cannot hear rebukes or correction.
- A tongue that twists Scripture to advance themselves and their false teaching.
- An unregenerate heart that denies the central attributes of God, thereby creating a god fashioned in their own likeness.
- Hands that misapply Scripture.
- Feet that spread their false teaching to an audience of tickling ears far and wide. A false teacher that nobody pays attention is an anomaly.
Turning again to Murray, to ensure that his apologists don’t accuse me of taking the clips we looked at last time out of context (though in reality those are question and answer, no context needed) below is a teaching on John 10, one I intentionally picked out because of Christ’s claim to deity, as well as the distinction He makes between Himself and the Father.
This video is actually a good overview and introduction into the other questionable, if not heretical, teachings of Murray. For our purposes, we’ll begin at the 25:36 mark where we are introduced once again to Murray’s views on the pre-existence of man.
Here Murray begins his exposition of John 10:30 by referencing Isaiah 7:14 which we’ve heard him use before. No doubt a pet passage of his that he never fully explains, but leaves ambiguous to promote heavily his Modalist doctrine that we looked at last time.
Then he directs the listener’s attention to Genesis 1 by stating God’s words, “Let us create man in our image.” However, Murray departs from orthodoxy that views this as an intra-Trinitarian conversation. Instead he sees the let “us”… and in “our” image as a reference to angels alongside God. As if that weren’t departure from orthodoxy enough, he then equates the angels to “us”, i.e. humans, stating that “everyone of us was in angelic or spiritual bodies at that time”. Let’s summarize what he is advancing through this teaching:
- The us and our in Genesis 1:26 is not a reference to the Godhead, but is instead a reference to angels
- These angels are not merely a set of created beings who serve God day and night, but are instead humanity – pre-existing humanity – in angelic or spiritual bodies.
This teaching is very similar to Mormonism, which should tell you the ground upon which Murray is treading is quicksand. Simply put there are no verses used to support or promote this false teaching at all. I know later he will reference Ecclesiastes, but as we’ll see, that also is a misinterpretation of Scripture.
Continuing this discussion in 26:45, Murray again references a different “dimension” for God, which it seems is his way around the Trinity, using these dimensions as a way for him to support Modalism. My guess is that he would conclude the Father, spiritually, was in another dimension and then He entered into the flesh in this dimension as the Son.
As a side note, there is a passing mention here to another controversial doctrine advanced by Murray which he calls the “third-earth age”. It’s difficult for me to pin this down based solely on this video teaching, but I would surmise it has reference to us existing prior to creation in the first-earth age, then in this age – the second earth age, then in the age to come, the third earth age. This too is similar to that of Mormon teaching. Murray will also cite (and misinterpret) 2 Peter 3 to support his view.
In the very next breath, Murray introduces yet another of his controversial teachings, namely that of the Kenites, or those who he sees as offspring of Cain, who who Murray claims was a byproduct of sexual relations between Eve and Satan. This will lead us into the doctrine of the Serpent Seed, but we’ll wait on fully unpacking this, as it will come up again shortly. Literally within the span of 3:30, Murray has spouted off a denial of the Trinity, the pre-existence of man, the existence of three earth ages, and the Kenite or serpent seed doctrine. As a reminder, we’re in John 10, Murray isn’t.
When dealing with heresies and heretics, it’s not enough to simply point out their errors. We must contend for the truthfulness of Scripture. Murray’s interpretation of John 10:30-33, despite being heretical, wholly misses the point. When Christ declares that He and the Father are one, a statement of unity among the divine essence of God while simultaneously maintaining their distinction in person, the Jews pick up stones to stone Him, vs. 32.
Now we must ask why? Why would this statement from Jesus elicit such a response from the Jews? Because it was a claim to deity and under Mosaic law, blasphemy – which they would ultimately accuse and murder Him falsely for – was punishable by stoning. This is made perfectly clear in verse 33, “The Jews answered him, ‘It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.’” According to Murray, the Jews were going to stone Jesus because they were jealous that they could not do the good works, healing, miracles, etc, that He did, completely missing the explanation in verse 33 (notice he glosses right over it).
All heresy and false teaching aside, one cannot sit under teaching that completely misinterprets a clear passage of Scripture as this one. How can anyone take anything else he promotes if he can botch the interpretation of a passage that gives its own interpretation? John 10 is a historical narrative, not Revelation, not OT prophecy, and the explanation of this account, much like some of Jesus’ parables, is given in the passage.
Moving on…there’s much more, suffice to say, there is enough up to this point and in our last post to convince a listener to avoid Murray and his subtle God-denying teaching.
But truth against error must be advanced. As the Apostle Paul wrote, under divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.“ 2 Corinthians 11:12
29:25 I said ye are gods – Psalm 82:6
Here again is a quick-slip of Modalism. Murray states that Christ is claiming to have made this statement in Psalm 82:6, “He is quoting Psalm 82:6 here and He is saying I’m the One who said it.” Murray then states, “He is that spirit that moves upon. He is our Father that said it.” There we see clearly his equation of Christ as the Father and the Father as the incarnate Christ.
As to the interpretation of “ye are gods” by citing Ezekiel 18:4, “All souls belong to God” and then concluding that “gods” is actually “God’s” in reference to possessive ownership, this is another example that:
1. He does not know Greek or Hebrew, nor can he rightly handle the word of God in English.
2. He is unable to interpret basic passages of Scripture.
Andreas Kostenberger in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament comments on John 10:34, “Jesus’ purpose in adducing this particular OT passage in response to the Jews’ charge of blasphemy ‘is an appeal to Scripture to justify His claim to be one with the Father, and to be His Son.’ In essence, Jesus is saying that there is OT precedent for referring to humans as ‘gods’” (note gods in this passage is a reference to human judges/judiciary rulers – see resource video below). Jesus was pointing out the inconsistent application by the Jews of their own law while asserting the validity of His own claim to deity. But Murray misses all this by redefining gods as God’s.
31:11 “You’re a child of God. Where do you think you’re soul came from? Ecclesiastes 12:6-7.” More talk of the pre-existence of humanity, which by the way completely violates the order given in 1 Corinthians 15:46-47, physical then glorified bodies.
In this episode, Murray has re-hashed several of the arguments and teachings that we saw promoted in the clips last time, but we were able to see them within the context of his regular television broadcast. This leads me to believe that regardless of the text, his end goal is to arrive at these false teachings. I’m changing my original statement that maybe you wouldn’t hear something false in every episode. I think maybe that’s all you hear over and over regardless of the text being discussed. Perhaps the old adage, “you can’t get there from here” is wrong after all.
Summarizing, thus far we have seen the following errant doctrines:
- A denial of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and a promotion of the false doctrine of Modalism.
- The first-earth age theory.
- A belief in the pre-existence of man.
- An introduction to the controversial and misleading Kenite doctrine, which is based in his promotion of the Serpent Seed (we will look at this next time).
- The inability to interpret the most basic of passages.
The evidence is weighing strongly against Murray, the Shepherd’s Chapel, and all those who would promote such ungodly teaching.
Mercifully, this teaching episode ends and the Q&A portion of the program ensues at 34:05. Here is where we will pick up next time.