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Q & A on False Prophets
Church-goers can be deceived by leaders. Here are some thoughts on corrupt leadership.

Do false prophets and cult leaders believe their own claims?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes in the vast majority of cases. Rev. Moon really does think he is the Second Coming of Jesus. David Koresh believed he was the end-time prophet and ordered the fires that killed him and his followers.

Can denominational leaders be corrupt?

Are people in sick religions brainwashed?

In my opinion, brainwashing theory is very suspect in most religious stories. Most followers choose to believe their leader or group ideology through normal means. In some extreme cases the idea of brainwashing or radical social coercion is reasonable to use as part of the explanation for belief and behaviour.

If a Christian leader has a private plane, does it prove that he/she is a false prophet? Isn't this obviously abuse of Christian funds?

It actually may be a wiser use of money for a ministry to have a private plane. Taking an entire evangelism team on frequent revival campaigns is cheaper if regular airlines are avoided.

What is wrong with Christian Science belief in prayer for healing?

Christian Science leader Mary Baker Eddy actually taught that illness is not real. Sickness and death are delusions. Healing means being cured of belief that one is sick. This wicked theory employs the language of faith to deny the obvious reality of cancer or appendicitis. No medical treatment is sought and Christian Scientists die as a result.

Can denominational leaders be corrupt?

Sometimes. Jim Jones was ordained in a decent denomination and went off into his own crazy cultic world. Usually, however, denominations have guidelines and structures that force cultic-style leaders to depart from the group, all done while pointing to the evils of the denomination while the true follower is led down the garden path.

James Beverley is professor at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto.

Related article

Testing Church Health

Originally published in Faith Today, September/October 2003




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