Is Harland Hoy correct? Could the Bible be the mark of the beast?

Monday Musings for May 11, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

I love my job… answering Bible questions. Only rarely do I dislike it more than I like it... and this has been one of those weeks. I was asked to investigate a ministry that I didn’t know anything about. First, this kind of task is always a lot of work — and it’s work that probably won’t be edifying. Typically, my questions provide opportunities to grow in the knowledge of Scripture, history, philosophy — stuff like that... but not this time. Second, these types of questions can turn ad hominem — and I don’t “do” ad hominem. I “do” ideas.

Years ago, I was asked why Joel Osteen was considered to be a false teacher. My response to that question is the only article I’ve posted that was about a person from top to bottom. “People” show up in my articles, of course, but they are never the point. To date, I have published over 675 articles and 733,000 words… and my most popular article (by a ratio of nearly 2 to 1 over its nearest rival) is that article about Joel Osteen. People love reading smack about their celebrities... and over 81,000 of them have accessed this article.

I thought I was traveling down a similar road this week when a questioner asked me to investigate a ministry called The Bible Is the Mark of the Beast! My first thought was, there is no way that the guy who runs a ministry with a name like that is anything but a nut-case... and I’ll have to write about him — not about the issues. But do you want to hear something funny? The guy who runs this ministry is probably a born again believer — or at least... I give him better odds than Osteen.

Fortunately, none of us knows who is saved. But more fortunately, I’m not in charge of determining who is! Loving God’s word is certainly a tell... but it’s not the whole picture.

I have heard it argued against us evangelicals by people who support a Roman Catholic position on the authority of church tradition over Scripture that we evangelicals make idols of our Bibles. Point taken. If you are a King-James-only type of person, this is very likely true of you.

But the ministry we’re looking at today teaches that Satan is using the Bible to keep people off the path of true spirituality. You can probably see why I feel like “I took one for the team” this week. I hate spending time investigating something so far from the center of orthodox doctrine — something that I won’t likely use in the future... yet, here I am, explaining this to you.

As it happens, I did not have to go ad hominem on this guy. You see, the website’s material is bad — not necessarily the man... and there is a better than even chance that Harland Hoy, the face of the ministry, is an earnest Christian, trying to serve God the best way he knows how.

Hoy teaches that we should have faith in Jesus Christ and live lives empowered by the Holy Spirit. Who among us would argue with that? But he also teaches that people can be converted through God’s saving grace without the Bible... which is a point I’ve argued for myself.

Now, I don’t think that’s an ideal way to do soul-wining. But if people are saved by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit — not by their knowledge of Scripture — then I must agree with the premise that a person can become a child of God without the Bible — thumping notwithstanding.

There are reasons why I am an evangelical, though... and not another type of Christian. Nevertheless, I understand that fundamentalism, legalism, Calvinism, Pentecostalism and Roman Catholicism are thought by most people to fall within the range of belief systems that teach different things about secondary issues... but affirm the central tenets of Christianity.

My question is, what about The Bible Is the Mark of the Beast!? Can anyone make the case that they are in the fold... even a fold so large that it represents the diverse beliefs of all the religious systems I just mentioned? At the end of the day, I cannot make that case.

You see, teaching that the Bible is a product of Satan — and that Christianity is hurt by treating it as God’s inspired word — is a bridge too far. Nevertheless, Harland Hoy might be a Christian guy... just one who is convinced that the Bible is Satan’s ruse — and I could be flat out wrong in my stand on Scripture.

I love my job!

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