In the Appalachian region, where I’ve lived for nearly 40 years, the exposure to television evangelists and preachers is somewhat limited. For most, there was the widespread Christian Broadcasting Network of the 1980’s, Trinity Broadcasting of the 1990’s, and mostly local offerings today. However, one constant has remained from the time I was a child until now, 3 years after his death in 2014. You’d likely recognize this man by his signature red blazer, seat behind a desk with open Bible, oversized glasses, and general grandfatherly appearance with a stack of questions submitted by his increasing flock of listeners. The teacher is none other than Arnold Murray (1929-2014), pastor of Shepherd’s Chapel, based out of Gravette, Arkansas.
When I was a kid, I thought Murray was a local personality, but came to find out his program is broadcast nationally on small, local stations that have the most impressionable viewing audience. While aware of Murray for years, it wasn’t until a few years ago that he was brought onto my radar, due to his cult-like following that had dramatically influenced a family friend. Unfortunately, at the time, there were few resources and limited research available online. Thankfully, there are a more resources today that would be helpful for a general understanding of what Murray teaches. I’ve included a few of those links below.
If you were to tune into a random broadcast of Murray’s, it’s possible you wouldn’t find anything major to disagree with, but that’s the nature of a false teacher, to lure the flies with honey, only to have them perish in the end. Due to the nature of his teaching, each lasting at least an hour, one would have to wade through the archives to pull together evidence of false teaching.Thankfully, I didn’t have to travel far to find and expose his numerous heresies, for that is indeed what they are, making Murray a false teacher.
It’s widely confirmed that Murray holds to Modalism, the denial of the Trinity, instead believing that God exists in 3 different modes, Father–>Son–>Spirit. Those who hold this, which includes Murray as we will see, believe that the Father becomes the Son and the Son (or Father) becomes the Spirit, it’s the same heresy held by another popular televangelist, T.D. Jakes. In other words, One God existing in Three modes, not persons. Because this distinction is not always made clear, one might be able to listen to Murray and hear him refer to Father, Son, and Spirit, as though they were distinct persons, as affirmed in Christian orthodoxy. But one needs to pay special attention to what it is that he is saying, then the differences become clear. Murray’s modalism is on display in this first clip, below:
Notice the questioner is presenting his inquiry in terms of Modalism, i.e. “Is the Holy Spirit the Father or the Son?” And “How could the Spirit be holier than the Father?” As it is presented, there is opportunity for a clear presentation of the biblical explanation of Father, Son, and Spirit, one in their deity, yet distinct in their personhood. However, that is not the direction Murray goes. He cites Isaiah 7:14 for the questioner, as evidence that God became flesh, Immanuel, a passage which all orthodox Christians would affirm and the background for such glorious passages such as John 1:1.
However, as with most cults, their teachings use similar terminology, even familiar passages of Scripture, but just like Satan in the Garden of Eden, they distort what God is actually saying. Note in Murray’s explanation of this passage beginning around 0:51 that he nearly lets the cat out of the proverbial bag by saying the Son is the Father, but clarifies by using a veiled reference to Scripture, albeit twisted, John 14:9
To be clear, when Murray references Isaiah 7:14, he is not meaning that Christ, God the Son, became flesh. He means that God, i.e. the Father, became flesh. This is further clarified in his explanation of John 14:9, that Christ, in Murray’s view the Father incarnate, is in a dimension we can see. At 1:23 he makes his view clear, “they are both one”. He does not mean, One God, Three Persons, by this statement, rather he means they are one in the same. But more on this later on.
The correct answer is that the Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but a distinct person in the Godhead in His own right. See John 15:26, but specifically Acts 5:3-4; Acts 8:29, and Acts 13:2.
Next, another example of this modalistic view, again as presented by the listener. Notice how this question is framed, “Who is the LORD in the Bible? God or Jesus” The question starts off by creating opposition of God vs. Jesus, as though Jesus isn’t God.
Murray begins his answer with an appeal to the Companion Bible, developed by E.W. Bullinger, Father of the Bullingerites – ultradispensationalists who create a sharp and distinct boundary between the Old and New Testaments, and Israel and the “Church” logically leading to two ways of salvation and two peoples of God. I really don’t have an opinion on the Companion Bible and haven’t been able to find any constructive reviews, so I will leave that for the reader to research. I will add however, that if this study Bible asserts the beliefs that Murray holds, then it should be avoided.
Regardless, Murray states LORD is usually translated Yahweh, though Adonai or El Shaddai is also a possibility. Most Bible translations point out their translation philosophy with regard to LORD vs. Lord. The former is the proper, covenant name of God, Yahweh, while the latter is the general name of God, Adonai.
When Murray shifts to his New Testament explanation, we hear, “In the New Testament, Lord, after the birth, was Christ Himself.”
Again, the subtleties of heresy. This distinction, after the birth, is not accidental. It’s an intentional clarification keeping in line with the doctrinal teaching of Modalism. According to Murray’s explanation, Christ could not have been Lord prior to His birth. Yet this is precisely the claim that Christ makes in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM”. Here our Lord uses the Greek phrase ego eimi in the present tense, a statement that carries far more significance than simply I am _____.
Instead, Christ is specifically identifying Himself as YAHWEH, particularly as stated in the passage from Isaiah 40-55; Is. 41:4, 43:10, 13, 25, 46:4, 48:12 (Note that others, including me, have referenced Exodus 3:14; more research on my part is needed to make this connection firm). In these passages, this phrase is translated identically ego eimi, in the Greek Old Testament translation the Septuagint, the version that those in Christ’s day and our Lord Himself would have used and been familiar with. Now, a distinction again needs to be made that Christ is not calling Himself the Father, but He is staking a claim to the title of deity, the covenant name of God, YAHWEH.
At 1:15, Murray again makes an appeal to Isaiah 7:14 and declares that God (again, he uses this to mean the Father) and Jesus are the same.
In the next post, to ensure that Murray apologists don’t accuse me of taking him out of context, we’ll look at a full-length teaching hour of Murray’s. One which has likely been broadcast on a local station near you.
“12 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. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:12-15
This is just a ridiculous. I have watched Dr. Murray for years and this claim that he believes in Modalism (i.e., that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit do not exist simultaneously) is pure ignorance. He absolutely does not believe that and has never taught that, to do so would be ridiculous. Point in fact, we were made in God’s image. Do you not have a body, spirit and soul all at the same time? Does your soul only exist if your body doesn’t? Can you only express your spirit if your soul doesn’t exist? This whole line of discussion is a farce and is meant to smear a great man of God and a teacher of His word. Shame on you.
Hello sir, thank you for stopping by. I have provided the evidence for modalism in the videos and stand by my analysis. Further, I have had conversations on numerous topics with those who have followed Murray for decades. In the posts on Murray I have included his own words so that the reader may see them in their context. I stand by my statement – unequivocally and without reservation – that Arnold Murray is a false teacher.
Please research his teachings on sexual relations between Eve and Satan, the origin of Kenites (Kinites) also known as the Serpent Seed, as well as the racial identities of those who Murray associates as the lost 10 tribes of Israel.
I do not embrace your claims and feel no shame for calling out dangerous errors of Murray. If you are a close follower of his, I exhort you to flee from his teaching.
Grace and Peace
This will tell you all you need to know about Murray and his teachings. A lady wrote him a letter explaining she divorced her ex husband over infidelity and wanted to know if it was ok to remarry. Murray responded , “I” believe you can remarry, all sins but one was covered on the cross and God wants you to be happy. Arnold Murray didn’t recite scripture to back up his claims, only what he thought God would want. So basically if I repent each time, I can remarry dozens of times, treating my covenant to God like it was toilet paper?
Thanks for sharing this Chris. I wonder what he meant by “all sins but one was covered by the cross”?
Grace and Peace,
I kinda know,but I’ll keep silent on that subject.Arnold Murray had very distorted biblical teachings,interpretations of the Bible. I could spot them with ease years ago.I listened to him on and off.a family friend knew he was a false teacher also.You can be sure he didn’t really know what an unforgiveable sin was,since he was committing one all the time!!Teaching heresy.
Thanks for the comment.
As I mentioned in one of the posts, Murray used to be broadcast daily on a local TV station. I can understand how he appeals to people, even though he’s been dead for a few years. His message sounds simplified and he has the grandfather persona. Also, I listened to a few of his broadcasts and generally, they did not contain blatant heresy, but I think that is the danger of false teachers. They lull your discernment to sleep and then introduce errant doctrine and they have you hooked. Sadly, it seems the majority of those who follow Murray develop a cult-like defense of him, which should not be the case with any man.
I completely agree with you. This article is nonsense, and a complete falsehood.
I personally think that the only reason that you’re even on here is to cause dissension amongst the brethren so if you’re saying that Pastor Murray is a false teacher judging by your so-called evidence which is absolutely nothing then please do tell oh wise one is you claim to be then who is a real teacher of God’s word then you I think not.. what it is is that you yourself are doing your father’s business notice the lowercase. which is to deceive people and draw them away from the truth of God’s word.. Nice Try but not going to work .
Yes, you’ve caught me. I have been writing Scriptural expositions here for 14 years declaring the gospel of the Risen King – The Lord Jesus Christ, in order to deceive the brethren, the culmination of which was pointing out the dangers of Arnold Murray.
I will ask you graciously to repent of your slander and the judgment of my motives. I was asked to write those pieces because a very dear Christian friend had watched her brother be lured into the cult of Murray. Additionally, my own father’s oldest and closest friend was trapped in the teachings of Murray and refused to believe anything other than his views. He was brainwashed to the point that Murray was the only legitimate teacher of God’s Word and in my own discussions with him it was evident that Murray was and remains (via recordings) a false teacher.
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8
I, too had viewed a few of his broadcasts after recording them on my DVR. Like many other listeners, I found his teachings to be simple and easy to understand.
In the last broadcast I viewed, he spoke in favor of the”serpent seed” regarding Cain not having been born to Adam and Eve but from the serpent’s seed and Eve. As I had never heard of this before, and having been taught that if what is spoken goes against/contrasts the Bible then it is false doctrine. So, I turned to the Bible. Also, I researched “serpent seed” on well-known Christian sites on the interment. What I learned about the serpent seed theory was a shocker. It is in direct contrast to scripture and goes against what the Bible says.
Please do your own research into this, as I did, and then you will understand what the truth really is. The truth is that Cain came from Adam and Eve. There is no truth in
the “serpent seed” other than an unfounded theory being taught.
Be careful with whose word you believe! Satan twists Biblical scripture to his advantage. And uses some humans to do so. Arnold Murray is misguided in some of his beliefs. Having said this, we are not to judge others but are called to shed light on the untruths. Be wary of the untruths.
Good morning Lynette, thank you so much for your well thought out comment and perspective. I listened to Murray several times growing up and have seen replays alot since then. He does not always mention his false beliefs, for obvious reasons, and usually they only come up when he answered letters. It’s easy to see then how he can gain a following, luring people in with what sounds orthodox, but then offering up little nuggets of heresy which ultimately define his ministry.
Grace and Peace to you!