September/October 1997


  • Introduction and comments
  • Worries about fads and fancies
  • TBN network caught out in scam
  • Billy Graham admits pagans can go to heaven
  • The Alpha Course; RC's to get their own version!
  • Torah Codes - are they what they seem?
  • I know this update is overdue. It's amazing how much time slips by, so quickly, with so little (relatively speaking) achieved. However, as you may have noticed, I have been busy producing more articles for the Web Page, (and elsewhere). Unlike some who grab other's articles off the Net ready-formatted, (and I don't criticise that practise; I do so myself on occasion) I need time to research, write and format my articles all by myself, so this explains the time delay.

    What it offers you is a unique outlook, albeit from my personal angle. But at least you find articles here that you won't find ANYWHERE ELSE.

    I want to share various pieces of news with you here. Of course, there's MUCH more floating around the Net, and possibly more significant items of news that you will find elsewhere, but this happens to be my personal collection of things that may interest Christians.

    I also want to make a few comments, firstly on the subject of FADS.

    As time goes by, it seems to me that more and more previously sound Christians, opposed to the various errors and heresies drifting about the Church, are nevertheless drifting in another direction - towards fads and fancies.

    Have you also noticed this trend? It appears to me that people are developing "itching ears" for the latest bit of spiritual gossip, or exciting titbit to keep themselves busy and amused.

    This is a sort of low-season for Christians. Ministry work is almost non-existent as we all wait in a kind of limbo for the next step. Not only that but even fellowship is hard to come by, and church life for many has been destroyed by Toronto and other heresies.

    So, many receive no input or stimulation and perhaps that's the reason why they are filling their time with other things. When challenged, they often angrily claim that what they are following after is "true". Yes, but just because something is true, doesn't make it EDIFYING!

    There's more. The things people commit themselves to are often "right", they are often worthy causes - but the real question is - DID GOD REALLY INSTRUCT YOU AS HIS SERVANT TO DO THAT? What God does not initiate, we have no right to do. We are servants, we wait for HIS command, rather than fly around everywhere dabbling in this and that to keep ourselves busy.

    It is often said that "the Devil finds work for idle hands" and in this case it's true. Christians who feel they "ought" to be "doing something" often cast around for any old thing to keep them occupied, even if its mounting a crusade against the NIV, or writing to politicians about homosexuality.

    The problem is compounded by pangs of guilt when we are accused of "doing nothing for the Lord". However, the remedy is not to drum up time-wasting "good works" to keep ourselves busy, to avoid criticism or a guilt conscience. No, the remedy is to rest in the Lord and await His call to ministry.

    Nothing we do outside of God, in the flesh, can glorify God in the long run. Our own efforts to keep busy will all turn to sand. As well as that, we are wasting time that could better be spent in close fellowship with the Lord, studying His word, praying, clearing out the hidden layers of sin, and making preparations for the difficult days ahead.

    The other aspect of this syndrome is fad-chasing. Instead of getting stuck into biblical doctrine and genuine concerns that present actual danger to the Body of Christ, many Christians are off chasing spiritual butterflies. Some examples that spring to mind are Torah Codes; Bible Translations; Hebraic Roots; UFO's; Demonology; Once-Saved-Always-Saved and similar doctrinal arguments; Rome; Cults; New World Order; and that ever-popular game "Hunt The Antichrist".

    Now, immediately you will object that all these things have merit and need research. Yes, of course. I don't dispute that at all. But what worries me that people are making these things their priority and becoming almost obsessed with them, instead of treating them as the minor, secondary items that concern us all from time to time.

    There is much merit in exploring the Jewish roots of our faith, and nobody could be more interested in Israel than I, but when I see lovely Gentile Christians sweating over Hebrew language lessons, celebrating the Jewish feasts, singing only Jewish songs and attending only Saturday worship patterned after the synagogue I think it's gone too far. Their whole lives revolve around Israel and the Jews, and without it they would have nothing of substance. It has become an obsession. Furthermore, they look down their noses at anyone who has "just" an ordinary Gentile existence in the Church. They consider themselves not only superior in faith, but somehow they know more about the Bible, because they read it (poorly) in Hebrew!

    I also know people who have become obsessed with books on Satanism (all good Christian testimonies, of course!!) so they become fearful and they adopt peculiar rituals like anointing the chimney-breast, doors and windows with cooking oil in the vain notion it will keep the demons away.

    These are just random examples. There are many more. Not all are extreme, but I meet people whose minds are taken up with conspiracies, so that they often end up suspecting everything and everyone. Their homes are full of faded photocopies of Project Monarch and Gulf War Sickness and Majestic UFO briefings. But of what lasting value is all this, and what are they learning. Is any of it of eternal worth? Even if all of those things are true, what could we DO about it?

    Isn't this kind of thing just what Paul warned against in his letter to Timothy? In his day the fascinations were genealogies, numerology, or the hidden wisdom to be found in the scripture texts. (Torah Codes???) There were also a number of esoteric cults with supposed depths of wisdom on offer to initiates, but Paul told Timothy to shun all this and stick to sound doctrine in the Word.

    "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." 1 Tim 1:4-7

    "But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness." 1 Tim 4:7

    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 2 Tim 4:3-5

    That strange phrase VAIN JANGLING is in Greek 'mataiologia' which means random talk, or idle chatter. It comes from a root word meaning "without any profit, empty"..

    Have we lost our ability to reason? Are we becoming unbalanced? Has Toronto unhinged us to the extent that we grasp at any straw now? Surely the Lord brings balance to our minds, not a feverish search for things that amuse and titillate the senses?

    Unfortunately, those looking for amusement can find much planted by the enemy to keep them entertained. Propaganda, counter-propaganda, myths and legends are circulating as never before. We cannot simply accept every story that comes down the lane, even if it does come from a "reliable" source.

    The oft-repeated "Angelic Hitchhiker" story is just one example of a Christian myth, and it's been circulating since the 1970's if not before - yet people today repeat it as "gospel" even so. There is absolutely NO evidence to back up these stories, so why do Christians believe them? We must train ourselves to stop being so darned gullible. We are making ourselves easy prey for our enemies.

    It requires much wisdom to live in these endtimes, and part of that wisdom is the ability to hear all, consider all, weigh all and to respond when a response is called for, without becoming fearful, unbalanced or obsessive. We also need to develop spiritual discernment, so that the Holy Spirit can ring the alarm bells even if something doesn't actually smell fishy.

    In light of the above remarks, I am reprinting the following e-mail in good faith, as it was given to me. Before accepting this, it would be wise to do your own investigation. However, if TBN are soliciting funds for non-existent projects, the truth should be told.

    Trinity Broadcasting Network
    Israel Stations Do Not Exist!

    On Sun, 31 Aug 1997, in alt.religion.christian Kevin Cornell <larry@bird.net wrote:

    I am a web page designer and do a web page for my father in law who has for the last 13 years been the chief engineer over all operations at Ampex Corp, and the resident engineer for the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel.

    Recently he came across some information regarding claims that the Trinity Broadcasting Networks has four Television stations in Israel. After a week of investigation it he has come to find out that there are no such broadcasting stations anywhere in the country and writes this:

    "While we were home travelling amongst many of your Churches we were asked this question over and over as one of the large organisations on TV are telling you that they are operating several TV Stations through out Israel and they need your contributions badly to continue......."

    Please be advised that with great sadness in my heart I have to report the following: TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) claims that they are operating TV Stations from the following areas in Israel. From atop of the Mount of Olives, From Ramallah, From Bethlehem, From Jericho and that they have plans for 7 additional such stations through out Israel. After spending several days checking out these sites with electronic equipment it is quite evident that none of these stations exist and what is interesting is that the Christian Arabs who live in these areas know nothing about these stations.

    TBN claims that they are broadcasting on channels 21, 23, & 25 and that the Government and the people are so thrilled and blessed to be able to hear these broadcasts. If these stations exist in Israel they would be deemed by the Israeli Government as pirate radio stations and would be closed down as they would be operating in Israel proper without a license. In Israel we have the equivalent of the FCC which is called the Ministry of Communications and they have full authority to arrest and disassemble any TV or Radio station operating without being licensed by the Israeli Government.

    I have emailed TBN several times questioning where these stations are operating and why we cannot hear or see them since we live just two miles from the top of the Mount of Olives. The reply (a canned reply) that is always returned is...that due to our thousands of requests we cannot reply to your request at this time.

    You can check into the Internet and download all of their information complete with pictures at the following web site: http://www.tbn.org/ Check in and decide for yourself...TRUE or FALSE?


    Rev Larry J Hawks, e-mail: kb8rp@icej.org.il

    The American people are being bilked and swindled out of money in the name of Religion. It is time the American people new the truth.

    Kevin Cornell: Webpage Developer, E-Mail: kb9lwn@indy.net

    I have a suggestion. It is radical - but perhaps it could work. Why don't we all just stop giving these people our money? Yes, save your money for your local fellowship or good causes that you KNOW are real, genuine and bona fide. (If necessary you could check people and organisations out first.)

    Just think, if people stopped giving Rodney-Howard Browne their hard-earned cash, he would be forced to stop travelling round the country preying on innocent Christians with his laughter nonsense.

    And, if Kenneth Copeland and those like him are so convinced that their FAITH can provide, why don't we give them a chance to PROVE IT - and stop providing for them ourselves. Either their faith would fail them (and thus prove them to be charlatans) OR they would experience a miracle of provision and receive a hundredfold without our help. That would be just great for both of us, wouldn't it?

    How about it? Let's start a new campaign, the "We Don't Support You - God Does" campaign, and let's save our money for providing for our own families and churches for a change.

    Here's somebody else who has been pulling the wool over our eyes for decades. He's already been exposed as a Mason, and now this:


    By Robert E. Kofahl, Ph.D. Date: 17-Aug-97 7:44

    Distributed by Way of Life Literature's Fundamental Baptist News Service. August 14, 1997 (Fundamental Baptist News Service, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277)

    The following is from Foundation magazine, May-June 1997, Fundamental Evangelistic Association, P.O. Box 6278, Los Osos, CA 93412, (805) 528-3534 (voice), 528-4971 (fax)




    SCHULLER:: Tell me, what do you think is the future of Christianity?

    GRAHAM: Well, Christianity and being a true believer--you know, I think there's the Body of Christ. This comes from all the Christian groups around the world, outside the Christian groups. I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ, whether they're conscious of it or not, they're members of the Body of Christ. And I don't think that we're going to see a great sweeping revival, that will turn the whole world to Christ at any time. I think James answered that, the Apostle James in the first council in Jerusalem, when he said that God's purpose for this age is to call out a people for His name. And that's what God is doing today, He's calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something that they don't have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved, and that they're going to be with us in heaven.

    SCHULLER: What, what I hear you saying that it's possible for Jesus Christ to come into human hearts and soul and life, even if they've been born in darkness and have never had exposure to the Bible. Is that a correct interpretation of what you're saying?

    GRAHAM: Yes, it is, because I believe that. I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations, that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, and never heard of Jesus, but they've believed in their hearts that there was a God, and they've tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived.

    SCHULLER: [R. S. trips over his tongue for a moment, his face beaming, then says I I'm so thrilled to hear you say this. There's a wideness in God's mercy.

    GRAHAM: There is. There definitely is.



    SCHULLER: You knew ... Fulton Sheen. You knew these men. Your comments on both of these men [Fulton Sheen and Norman V. Peale].

    GRAHAM: The primary way of communicating is to live the life, let people see that you're living what you proclaim.... [comments on his friendship and conversations with Fulton Sheen] I lost a very dear friend, and since that time, the whole relationship between me and my work, and you and your work, and the Roman Catholic Church has changed. They open their arms to welcome us and we have the support of the Catholic Church almost everywhere we go. And I think that we must come to the place where we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, not on what denomination or what church or what group we belong to.


    Billy Graham's first great city-wide evangelistic campaign was held in Los Angeles in 1949. At that time he made a public promise that he would never have any theological modernists (theological liberals) on his platform. Dr. Graham's first evangelistic campaign in England was held in the summer of 1954. On that tour he was accompanied by Dr. John Sutherland Bonnell, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City. Dr. Bonnell was also the president of the Ministerial Association of New York City, which was dominated by modernist ministers and churches. On Dr. Graham's British tour Bonnell was working to persuade him to hold a campaign in New York in 1956 under the auspices of the liberal Ministerial Association. During that time a group of Bible-believing pastors and laymen sent Dr. Graham in England a telegram asking him to hold an evangelistic series in New York City sponsored by "a committee of twice-born men."

    On his return to the States Dr. Graham announced that he would come to New York in 1956 sponsored by the Ministerial Association of New York City. The committee of Bible-believing men sent a delegation to Dr. Graham begging him not to confuse the line between the gospel of grace and the false gospel of the modernist churches represented in the Ministerial Association. Graham turned a deaf ear to them, and came to New York with the requirement that all churches should be invited to participate in the campaign. In that campaign, the Billy Graham Association trained counselors sent from all sorts of churches, including the Roman Catholic Church. The policy was established of directing each inquirer during the campaign to his or her home church. Some Protestants were sent to modernist churches. Roman Catholics were directed back to the priest of the Roman church nearest to their home address. This policy of cooperation with the Roman Church continues to this day.

    Dr. Graham has received honors from Roman Catholic circles, including an honorary degree from a Catholic college. In his last campaign in the British Isles, two leading prelates in the Roman Catholic Church in England sent out pastoral letters encouraging Catholics to attend the Graham meetings. One of these prelates explained to his parishioners that "Billy Graham knows our limits." That is, the Roman Church can count on him not to touch on any theological doctrines that contradict official Romanist teachings. Thus Dr. Graham will not explain that a sinner trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life must give up any trust he might have in any other object of faith; that he or she must trust in the Person, Jesus Christ, and Him alone, not trusting in Mary or saints, rejecting any trust in the sinner's good works or religious observances, relying totally on His perfect work of redemption, a substitutionary atonement on the cross, taking the sinner's place under the judgment of God and receiving in His body the total punishment for sin that the sinner deserves, and through repentance and faith receive the perfect righteousness of Christ, imputed by God to the believer, that makes the sinner forever acceptable to a holy God, and immediately a possessor of the gift of eternal life that cannot be forfeited or lost, kept by the power of God throughout all eternity. If Billy Graham were to preach this biblical and complete doctrine of salvation, he would at once lose the support of the Roman Catholic leaders. Multitudes of Roman Catholics would be warned and frightened from attending Billy Graham meetings.

    The doctrine that Dr. Graham expressed to Dr. Schuller is exactly what the Pope and the Ecumenical Institute in Rome have been teaching for years. This is the idea that any pagan, practising idolatrous worship, having no slightest knowledge of the Bible, the gospel of grace, or the Person and name and redeeming work of Jesus Christ-if he is a "good person" and if he is sincere in whatever he may believe-is automatically "redeemed by the blood of Christ." This false doctrine of salvation was clearly and explicitly asserted and defended in debate about four years ago on radio stations KABC and KBRT by Father Vivian Benlima, then Director of the Office for Ecumenical and Interdenominational Affairs of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who just returned from a year's study at the Ecumenical Institute. It is the official teaching of the Roman Church.

    The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was the primary force for the founding of the Lausanne World Evangelism Conferences back in the 1980s. Especially in recent years these conferences have called on all churches, including the modernist ecumenical churches of the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church to cooperate with the evangelical churches in evangelizing the world for Christ. At Amsterdam '86, billed as a "school for evangelists" and sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham revealed his ecumenical, inclusivist approach to worldwide evangelism. In the final press conference, Dr. Graham was asked by Dennis Costella, a news correspondent for Foundation magazine, how he could justify this melding together of such a disparate crowd of theologically disunited religious groups. Dr. Graham responded, "Evangelism is about the only word we can unite on. ... Our methods would be different and there would be debates over even the message sometimes, but there is no debate over the fact that we need to evangelize. ... I think there is an ecumenicity here that cannot [be gotten] under any other umbrella."

    Therefore, he averred, all the churches must be willing to disagree even on the question of what the Christian message to the world is.More recently, in the spring of 1994, a group of both evangelical and Roman Catholic leaders signed a document called "Evangelicals and Catholics Together" (ECT). This document asserts that there is one Church (including both Protestant and Roman churches), that, therefore, they must work together in evangelizing the world for Christ, and agree that there will be no sheep-stealing, that is, proselytizing of members of one church to depart and join another church. ECT dismayed multitudes of Christians and elicited vigorous criticism from many Christian circles.

    There can be little question that Dr. Billy Graham during almost forty years laid the major foundation for ECT. Where will the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association go in the future? Will the leadership that succeeds the founder continue down the same perilous path of compromising and diluting biblical truth until we arrive at total syncretism and universalism? May God forbid and warn His people!

    * Robert E. Kofahl, Ph.D., and the Rev. Harold L. Webb certify the accuracy of the transcripts from Parts I and II, respectively, of the televised interview of Dr. Billy Graham by Dr. Robert Schuller.

  • David Cloud
  • dcloud@whidbey.net
  • Way of Life Literature
  • 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277
  • http://wayoflife.org/~dcloud/

    Catholics to get their own version!

    It comes as something as a shock to evangelicals to discover that a popular course designed to present the scriptural truths of salvation to unbelievers is being widely used in Roman Catholic parishes. However, given the bland nature of the course and the emphasis on supernaturalism, this was inevitable. Holy Trinity Brompton who developed and own the course have actually done ecumenism a great favour in producing an evangelistic course almost devoid of evangelism! This makes it ideal for making church members rather than Christian converts, something Rome has been accomplishing for years by more traditional methods. Now they are providing Catholics with a version of their own. It would be interesting to see what changes have been made!

    The following piece written by an Anglican Priest in the "New Directions" paper (produced for Anglo-Catholics within the Anglican tradition) illustrates the trends towards ecumenism in the Alpha course. It also provides a non-biased confirmation of the defects of the Alpha Course, which actually had to be adapted to provide more traditional scriptural teaching! HTB have now stopped this practise of adaptation by insisting the Course must be run as written (including, supposedly, the pro-Toronto teaching and the Holy-Spirit weekend that introduces All the candidates, saved or not, to an "experience" of the Holy Spirit).

    See the Mainstream (Summer 96) article on the Alpha Course for more details on the above.

    "To Crack A Nut" by Tony Roake
    Vicar of St. Andrew's, Bennett Road, Bournemouth.

    NEARLY TWENTY years ago when I was a curate in Nottingham, our parish helped pilot a course called Saints Alive, which had been written by the then vicar of St. Margaret's, Aspley, one John Finney, and his pastoral assistant, Felicity Lawson. Since then, John and Felicity have moved on to new things, and have, along the way collaborated with others in producing the Emmaus teaching programme published by the Bible Society.

    Saints Alive emerged during a time when the charismatic renewal movement was taking hold in the Church of England. Our parish stood within the Catholic tradition and St Margaret's, Aspley was evangelical in background, yet Saints Alive proved a good fit, and a more than useful tool for bringing people to Christ and into a personal experience of the healing love of God.

    Eventually, Saints Alive was taken up by the Anglican Renewal Ministries and marketed quite widely. On reflection, Saints Alive was quite clearly a forerunner of Alpha, thereby proving the truth of the adage that there really is nothing new under the sun. Saints Alive did not capture the imagination of the Church in the way that Alpha has. Alpha's phenomenal success and influence has made a widespread impact on the Church in this country right across the churchmanship board. In my present deanery alone, nearly every parish has, at the very least, discussed the possibility of using Alpha, such is its reputation, and many have adopted it as a means of bringing people to Christ.

    Yet, despite all this success and popularity all is not calm on the Alpha front. Alpha is owned and produced by Holy Trinity Brompton (henceforward "HTB"). NIB has found it necessary to issue a warning about copyright to users of Alpha. Users are told in no uncertain terms that they must neither "depart from, not qualitatively alter" the teaching outlined in the Alpha course and that any changes or alterations must be minor and confined to use in the parish or church making the alterations. There is also a proviso that any alteration should not change the "essential character of the course".

    All of this is understandable because HTB has discovered that some churches and Christian groups are using the name of Alpha to describe something else entirely - it is clearly wrong to be marketing something in a bogus manner. However, I believe that it is also possible to detect, as a subtext of the HIB statement on copyright, a degree of antipathy on the part of HTB toward those who take a "pick and mix" attitude to Alpha.

    Yet, from my researches and experience it would appear that a large number of those using Alpha take a more casual approach to it than HTB would seem to be prepared to countenance.

    Given Alpha's startling success and popularity, it must seem churlish and ungrateful to attempt any criticism of it, yet the ubiquity of the "pick and mix" approach does beg the question: Why do parishes treat Alpha as a flexible friend?

    Part of the answer can be found in dissatisfaction with the content. For instance, some parishes and groups have felt that there is insufficient emphasis on the Trinity and have consequently produced an extra session on the Fatherhood of God. Others, while understanding that the purpose of Alpha is, as its name suggests, a starter course for non-Christians and fringe members, have felt that bringing people to new birth in Christ on a firm foundation requires much more emphasis on repentance and the Cross and have modified Alpha accordingly. Some have found the charismatic emphasis on speaking in tongues and healing unbalances the course and have played these sections down.

    These are significant criticisms, and modifications that would seem to fall foul the recent strictures from HTB. However, my overall impression of the way in which Alpha has been used is that it has been used widely on a "pick and mix" basis and has seldom been taken "neat".

    My hope is that HTB will recognise this and not apply the rules too harshly and quench the blessing. In any event, HTB has implicitly recognised the difficulty is which Anglican Catholics have with aspects of a Alpha by virtue of its preparation of a version is designed for Roman Catholics. It will be interesting to see what alterations will be made to content, and to monitor the uptake amongst Anglicans of this revised course.

    Finally, the Torah Codes issue. Ever since I first heard about this concept, I have been concerned that Christians are being swept along in another fad which would discredit both them and the Church as a whole. Even more worrying is the thought that the Torah Codes will be used to "prove" some coming world event that is intensely anti-Christian, and those who have believed in the codes and promoted them will be left with egg on their faces.

    My concerns were not alleviated by hearing of national names like Grant Jeffrey writing books about the topic, and ministers like Texe Marrs praising the Codes as "proof of the infallibility of the Word of God". Texe Marrs has now, interestingly, backed off from his early enthusiasm.

    Lately, one or two more sensible articles have appeared, pointing out the problems. I am grateful to Orrel Steinkamp for the following piece in his newsletter "Plumbline".

    (Compuserve ID number 102046,2250)

    The Torah Code and Biblical Cryptography

    A controversial new book claims that buried within the Bible is a "secret guide to all that was, is and shall be" is the subtitle of an article in a June 1997 issue of Newsweek. (1) Events allegedly encoded in the Torah include:

    "Kennedy" and "Dallas"; "economic collapse" and "1929"; "Hitler," "slaughter," and "Nazi and enemy"; "Wright Brothers" and "airplane"; "Edison," "light bulb," and "electricity." The code is said to reveal "Shoemaker-Levy" and "will pound Jupiter" (the Shoemaker-Levy Comet did, in fact, hit Jupiter in 1994). The decoders believe they found the exact date the scud missiles hit Israel during the Gulf War. The most famous example, however, is the apparent prediction of Yitzak Rabin's assassination. Events that are yet to happen are apparently hidden in the code, for instance, an earthquake hitting Los Angeles in the year 2010. (5770 by the Hebrew calendar) (2)

    Has the Divine inspiration of the Bible now been proven beyond all doubt? Do Christians now have a new and indisputable claim to the supernatural nature of Scripture? Might the Code be an end-of-themillenium "quantum leap" in the unassailable defense of the truthfulness of the Old Testament and also of the Christian faith? If God has indeed encoded all this in the Bible, then it changes everything about the signiticance of the Bible for both Christian and non-Christian.

    The 1996 book The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin (3) is built upon the work of three Jewish mathematicians (4). Their discoveries depend on the exact positioning of all the Hebrew consonants in the Torah. Hebrew is a Semitic language whose alphabet contains only consonants; vowels are understood, but not written. (In the 8th century A.D. the Masoretes, a group of Jewish scribes and scholars invented a system of points to indicate vowels, but even modern Hebrew does not print these vowel points. For example, "th Gspl f Jss Chrst" would be read as "the Gospel of Jesus Christ.")

    How is this supposed encrypted code decoded? First the 304,805 consonants of the Hebrew Torah are put into a continuous line (no spaces between words, and of course, no vowels). Then, beginning with the first letter in Genesis 1:1, a computer scans the line searching for a key word by employing a selected "skip code" which reads every nth letter (the skip code assigned may, for instance, be every 9th, or 36th, or 1897th letter) until it "hits" the key word. If there is no hit, the process is repeated beginning with the second letter of Genesis 1:1, and so on. If there is a hit, the computer then selects every Hebrew letter according to that particular skip code and places them in an array or grid of lines (line length equals the skip code number). The array is then searched vertically, backwards, and diagonally for any intersecting words that may be related to the hit word and that may give additional meaning to the hit word.

    In advertising "The Signature of God" by Grant Jeffrey, (5) the Christian Book Distributors catalog suggests that "his research will help you prove the word of God is the inspired word of God... the mysterious codes in the Old Testament refer to Hitler, Rabin and Jesus." (This book has been listed as 7th on a recent top seller list in "Christianity Today".) More recently the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Paul Crouch endorsed this book and the secret revelation of God within it. Is this a new and exciting discovery for the faithlul or something old that has simply been recycled at the end of this century?

    The concept of hidden and/or encrypted revelation in the Bible goes back at least to a medieval Jewish occult practice called the Kabbalah (or Cabala). In the 12th century a Jewish sect combined elements of sorcery, pantheism, and Gnosticism with numerology from the Torah. (Hebrew consonants are used for numbers and have assigned numerical values.) As with the present phenomena, the premise was that there are secret numeric codes in the Torah. Writings of the Kabbalah eventually were translated into Latin and certain 15th century Catholic theologians attempted to use these numeric codes as a means of converting Jews.

    The Reformers rejected all this, asserting that there were no hidden messages which only an elite and trained priesthood could discover, that these so-called codes would destroy the biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers. (6)

    Yet searching for hidden codes continues. In 1977 Del Washburn and Jerry Lucas, a former NBA basketball player, took up a numeric code method and produced a book entitled "Theomantics" (7). Harold Camping used numeric codes in his book 1994 to predict a date for the Lord's return." That year passed and the Lord did not return. (8)

    The problems in the skip code method are greater than any supposed gain in proving divine inspiration of Scripture or prophecy of the fliture. A skip code used on the Hebrew translation of "War And Peace" hits on the word "Chanukah" and fifty-nine related words, including "miracle of lights" and "Maccabees," are found nearby. (9) Even though the odds are high against this happening, does this imply that either God or Tolstoy encrypted revelation within that novel?

    The problem is that the method itself, which seems so dramatic, is flawed. Statisticians call it "data mining." This means that the thousands of possible skip code sequences combined with the thousands of possible starting points in the Torah combined with vertical, backwards, and diagonal reading will eventually yield some, possibly many, "hits" or finds. Note that Hebrew, because of its structure, is prone to word play; Hebrew words are built on a root system of three consonants; with the spaces removed, letters can be combined and understood in a variety of ways.

    Also disturbing is the sometime "need" to transliterate Hebrew letters into the English alphabet (laclif = L. A. CALIF) to get a sensible hit! (10) The Newsweek article cited above quotes Don Foster of Vassar College, who uses computers to analyze Shakespearean texts, as saying, "...these [code finders] could do the same thing with a telephone directory if they thought it was a spiritually significant text." (11)

    Similar cryptology and numerology has been applied to the Koran by Islamic apologists, allegedly proving the divine inspiration of the Koran. Are the Bible the Koran both divinely inspired? How can a questionable method be considered a medium of revelation from God? Torah Code methodology was employed by a small group of Hasidic Jews to refute Christianity. Using a skip code of 50 they "demonstrated" that Jesus was an idol made of wood. If one can use a method to "prove" anything, everything, and even contradictory things, then the method is invalid. Anyone can use it for his own purposes.

    We commend Grant Jeffrey and others in their desire to defend the inspiration of the Bible, but resorting to methods like these casts suspicion on the Bible's authority rather than establishing it.

    Paul, a converted Jew, asserted in Galatians that the Mosaic Law was obsolete (the letter being replaced by the Spirit). Would God, in the Mosaic Law, encrypt a secret code revealing both historical and spiritual truths that only an end-of-the-second-millenium computer program could find? This and other biblical codes "prove" too much and lead to error. Is our doctrine of inspiration so weak that we must shore it up with a flawed method? Let us show our belief in the reliability of God's words which were written down for all to read and understand without resorting to secret codes. The Christian church does not need a Christian "Kabbalah" or scrabble game to buttress its faith in the inspiration of God's word. The Apostle Paul did not hint at a hidden code in Scripture. Read his words in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:

    "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

    We agree with the great Princeton Old Testament scholar 0. T. Allis: Words, sentences, and phrases in the Bible usually have a plain and obvious meaning; attempts to find mysterious numerical patterns and values is, to say the least, a tremendous waste of time and effort. What is far more important, resting as it does on principles that are demonstrably false, is that it may lead to serious, even disastrous consequences. One whorests his faith in the truthand trustworthiness of the Bible on "biblical" codes or numerics "is trusting a broken reed, which if leaned on, will pierce his hand." (12)


    (1) Sharon Begley, "Seek and Ye Shall Find," Newsweek, June 9, 1997, pp.66-67.

    (2) lbid., (earthquake illustration), p.67.

    (3) Michael Drosnin, The Bible Code, Simon & Schuster, 1996.

    (4) Doron Witziuni, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg, "Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis," Journal Of the Royal Statistical Society (1988), 15 1:1, pp.177. Reprinted in Statistical Science (August 1994), vol.9, no.3, pp. 5429ff.

    (5) Grant Jeffrey, The Signature of God, Frontier Research, 1996.

    (6) Robert Morey, Truth Seekers, November 1996, p.2.

    (7) Jerry Lucas and Del Washburn, Theomatics, Stein and Day Publishers, New York, 1977.

    (8) Harold Camping, 1994, Vantage Press, 1992. 'Begley, p.66.

    (9) Begley, p.66

    (10) Begley, (earthquake illustration), p.67.

    (11) Begley, p.66.

    (12)Biblical Numencs, Presbyterian and Reformed, Phillipsburg NJ, (no date), p.24.