Monday, February 27, 2012

Keith Moore's Weak Biblical Arguments for "Claiming" Other People's Promises as Our Own

Moore's blatant misuse of Scriptural promises to justify his prosperity gospel teachings can be seen in an article he wrote to justify his teachings:

God’s Will to Heal
Keith Moore

“GOD SAID SO!  How do we know whether it’s God’s will to heal us or not? It makes little difference what others say about it. What did He say about it?
Remember that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10: 34) and He never changes (Mal. 3:6). So what He said to them yesterday, He is saying to you today.  God’s word is God speaking to me.”

Let’s just take these opening statements for starters.  He begins on firm ground, that it only matters ultimately what God says about healing, etc. But his Scriptural support is unfounded. The phrase, “God is no respecter of persons,” means God is impartial (specifically that the Gentiles were now accepted as equals to Jews), and not at all that anything God promised a certain individual in the Old Testament can now be “claimed” by someone else. 

But in fact, not all promises of God in Scripture were universal, that is, meant for everyone in all ages and places.  Some were to specific to certain individuals for specific things, such as God’s promise to Abraham that Sarah would have a baby the next year, though nearly 90 years old.  God made many individual promises limited to a specific person in the Bible.  While we can learn from these examples, they remain examples, not transferable promises I can “claim” any more than I can claim someone else’s dry cleaning.    

There are plenty of universal promises of God we can stand on.  But when Moore says to "claim" a promise in the Bible he believe it literally obligates God to do the same for you, even if in the case of individual promises God never intended for anyone but the person he gave it to on a given occasion.  So, by that logic, if I have terminal cancer and I read Genesis 15:15 I can take that promise given to Abraham of a long life as my own simply by "claiming" it.   And (this is the cruel part) if it doesn't work then it's all my fault for not having enough faith.  It's also very much a "Never mind God's will.  I want my will be done." approach to God.

Likewise the second phrase Moore cites, He “never changes” (Mal. 3:6) does not at all imply that a specific promise given to one person is automatically transferable to anyone else.  This simply is not logical.  That would indeed be “changing,” which is the very thing Moore agrees God cannot do!  For example, if I promise my neighbor Fred I will give him $50 tomorrow because he mowed my lawn last month, it in no way entitles my other neighbor, Jim, to $50.  That would be changing my promise.  And “God never changes” as Moore points out.

Take Moore’s third Scripture example which follows in his article:

“You shall be buried in a good old age (Gen. 15:15).”

Moore’s teaching is that this somehow applies to us as a direct promise of God.  Ripped out of it’s context perhaps it sounds like a universal promise.  But this again was a direct promise to Abraham about his own destiny.  Notice how out of place it looks when you read it in context, as God intended us to read it!  Abraham was complaining to God that he has no heir.  God answers:

13 Then the LORD said to him [Abraham], “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

Bad news for followers of Keith Moore:  part of the same promise to Abraham was that “your descendants will be slaves for 400 years!”   None of them are claiming that, and yet it is an integral part of Genesis 15:15. Note the word “however” buried in the middle.  That word points the reader back to God’s previous statement, regarding the enslavement of Abrahams’ ancestors.  While God might use this promise to reassure my heart—that He is watching over my destiny and can give me long life should He choose—it is not a literal promise or guarantee of long life to me. Just ask Jim.

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