Scripture is unambiguous in its condemnation of false teaching. The Apostle Peter equates it with heresy and apostasy, and warns of its destructive consequences, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1)
All throughout the Bible are numerous examples of the dire ends met by such people. In the Old Testament, the prophets of Baal were decisively defeated and slain at the hands of Elijah (1 Kings 18). The severity with which God views those who lead His people astray is not ambiguous. In the New Testament, Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit, were struck dead as a sign of divine judgment (Acts 5:1-11).
The disposition of Scripture toward false teachers is one of unequivocal condemnation and warning. In Matthew 7:15-23, Jesus Himself provides a dreaded warning about false prophets. He cautions that not everyone who calls Him “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of His Father. This passage culminates in the chilling words, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
What is portrayed in this passage is the ultimate fate of those who distort and contradict God’s Word. It is not merely the act of teaching falsely that condemns them, but the heart of rebellion against God’s sovereignty and the deliberate subversion of His truth. The false teaching that comes from the mouths of these deceivers is merely a symptom of the unregenerate heart—for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
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In this article, I would like to remember five heretics who have passed away in the last few years who, unfortunately, have met this end. The cases of these false teachers and their subsequent deaths are not just isolated incidents of theological error. They are emblematic of a pervasive and perilous trend within Christianity, where personal interpretations and cultural influences overshadow the clear and enduring truth of God’s Word. Their lives and teachings serve as a solemn reminder of the weighty responsibility borne by those who teach and lead within the church, and the grave consequences of opposing and twisting the Word of God.
“Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” —Philippians 3:19
Sarah Young: A Tragic End to a False Seer
First up is Sarah Young, the author of the heretical book, “Jesus Calling.” Young succumbed to Lyme disease and cancer on August 31, 2021, at the age of 77. Her departure from this life, following years of peddling her alleged divine revelations, is a sobering testament to the gravity of adding to God’s Word. Young’s claim to receive messages directly from Christ was a brazen affront to the supremacy and sufficiency of Scripture. Such presumption, elevating personal experience to the level of divine revelation, clearly contradicts the biblical warning in Revelation 22:18-19 against adding to God’s Word.
Dr. C. Welton Gaddy: The Fall of a Pluralistic Preacher
Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, an advocate of religious pluralism and former president of the Interfaith Alliance, passed away on June 7, 2023, at 81, after battling significant health issues. Gaddy’s end came after a life marked by peddling a distorted version of Christianity, one that grossly contradicted the exclusivity of Christ as the only way to salvation. In promoting a gospel of acceptance and pluralism, Gaddy essentially lifted his proverbial middle finger to God’s authority and led many astray from the exclusive path of salvation through Christ alone—the way, the truth, and the life, set forth in John 14:6.
Pat Robertson: The Downfall of a Charismatic False Prophet
Pat Robertson, a charismatic leader and founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and the infamous 700 Club, died on June 8, 2023, at 93. Robertson’s passing, in his home in Virginia Beach, brought an end to a controversial legacy marked by false prophecies. His numerous spurious predictions, including the failed prophecy of Donald Trump’s re-election, exemplify the dangers of claiming prophetic insights contrary to the clear instruction of Scripture against false prophets in Matthew 7:15-20.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” —Jeremiah 23:16
Beni Johnson: The Last Breath of a Faux Faith-Healer
Beni Johnson, the wife of Bethel Church, Redding California’s pastor, Bill Johnson, and a prominent leader at Bethel Church, succumbed to cancer on July 13, 2022. Her life and teachings were not just a flirtation with, but a deep immersion in, perilous false doctrines that perverted the Gospel beyond recognition. Johnson was a staunch proponent of Bethel’s “faith healing” practices, propagating a deceptive narrative that equated physical healing with spiritual faith. This false teaching, rooted in the prosperity gospel, twisted the gospel by falsely promising physical health and miracles as indicators of faith and God’s favor.
Her teachings essentially peddled a false hope, misleading many to believe that faith, if strong enough, could manipulate God’s will to achieve physical healing. This dangerous doctrine ignored the biblical depiction of God’s sovereignty and His inscrutable plans for His elect. In the face of suffering and illness, rather than offering the biblical assurance of God’s presence and comfort, Johnson’s teachings imposed guilt and shame on those who weren’t healed, suggesting a deficiency in their faith.
Beni Johnson’s life was a testament to a gospel that was not only grossly unbiblical but also deeply harmful. Her commitment to a false Jesus, one who served more as a genie-in-a-bottle than a Savior, steered many away from true faith and into the hands of Satan. Her death serves as a vivid reminder of the tragic consequences of perverting the grace of God into licentiousness and demonstrates the need for discernment and fidelity to the authentic teachings of Scripture.
Rachel Held Evans: The End of a Progressive Crusader
Rachel Held Evans, a prominent figure in the progressive “Christian” movement, died on May 4, 2019, after complications from the flu, leaving behind a legacy of blatant disregard for basic fundamental Christian doctrines. Her life consisted of untiringly championing LGBT rights and the right to murder children. Evans did not merely diverge or drift away from orthodox Christian beliefs, she actively subverted them, promoting a perversion of the gospel that reflected the Pagan culture.
Her teachings, which included a denial of God’s revealed nature and character, reinterpreted key biblical principles to suit her progressive agenda. Her mission in life had nothing at all to do with glorifying God or advancing the gospel, rather, it was to undermine God and promote death and destruction. She was a tool of Satan, to be sure. Evans’s legacy is an object lesson in the grave consequences of replacing biblical truth with man-made traditions and doctrines of demons. Unfortunately, she had to learn this the hard way.
Each of these figures, in their departure from this life, leaves behind a legacy fraught with theological heresies that serve as a stern warning. Their teachings and the circumstances of their deaths are a grim reminder of the weighty words in Matthew 7: “Depart from me.” For those who propagate such teachings, hostile to the Gospel, their end is a solemn call to reflect on the eternal consequences of perverting the truth of God’s Word. As we contemplate their lives and teachings, it behooves us to adhere unflinchingly to the inerrant and complete revelation of God in Scripture, avoiding the perils of heresy and false teachings.