3 deceptive doctrines of pop-culture in the Church

Søren Kierkegaard  once said, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” The Christian faith when it first came into the scene was too incredible to believe. To say that God loves, God incarnated himself into Christ, God died, resurrected and that He associates with the poor and lowly was borderline heretical to ancient culture. But the 33-year-old carpenter from Galilee shook the world. The division of history is attributed to his life and death- before and after it. Jesus Christ is the stumbling block of the world and the offense of every human soul.

Roman Emperor, military leader, satirist and philosopher Julianus Flavius Claudius, also better known as Emperor Julian, made every effort to restore the pagan world that Jesus Christ had overturned with his teaching. And as Julianus died in the battle field from a fatal wound, he filled his hand with blood, flung it in the air and declared, “Thou hast conquered O Galilean.”  And indeed Christ the prophet from Galilee shall conquer each man, for it is declared that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. Jesus’ words in the Bible are either true of false. There is no middle ground. He either was the Son of God or he was a mad man.

To really look at Jesus’ words intently would elicit either of these reactions: ignore him as a lunatic, vehemently reject him for his intolerant worldview or make you fall at his feet and declare him to be Lord. But to see him as another nice guy is too impossible even for the simplest mind. I would have to conclude that you haven’t really read the Bible.  His words are so cutting yet so soothing, so protruding yet so healing, so offensive yet so refreshing. He divides the world into two categories: those who follow him and OBEY him and those who don’t. I emphasize obey because Jesus Christ today has many fans who love his quotes, love his stories but do not obey his teaching. Jesus would be the pariah of our modern culture in the 21st century. He would talk about hypocrisy as he did to the Pharisees. He would talk about demons as he did to his disciples. He would talk about the gluttony of the rich. He would talk about people going to heaven and hell as he did to the people of Israel. He would speak that which men and women today do not want to hear. And beloved, he would offend many. He would not talk about these things as opinion but as truth and fact. He would be called xenophobic. He would be called narcissistic. He would be called narrow-minded and intolerant of people’s views.  He would shame pastors. He would anger politically-correct leaders. He would irritate religion. He would give the 21st century enough reason to crucify him again.

But you see, Jesus did not apologise for his truth claims that sounded improbable, neither is he doing so today. In all the offences, the Son of Man often fought falsehood and deception. Our generation is not free of falsehood and deception. Fyodor Dostoevsky, a Russian novelist once said, “My dear, the real truth is always improbable, do you know that? To make truth sound probable you must always mix in some falsehood with it. Men have always done so.” Below are top 3 mantras of pop culture that Jesus Christ would renounce as utter deception because of the mix of falsehood in them. These three deceptions that are seeping into the church today are:

  1. The purpose of life is to be happy
  2. If you love me you have to agree with me
  3. God wants me to be rich
  1. The purpose of life is to be happy

This is the doctrine that is largely replacing the gospel in our culture. They come in neatly packed 10-point messages that prefer quoting American presidents to quoting the scriptures. Why? Because the scriptures will offend the people. Because it will not be politically correct. Pop culture is saying that you can do anything you want as long as it makes you happy. If it makes you feel good and makes you happy then it must be godly. Pop culture goes on to say that you can call yourself a Christian but live in worldliness as long as you are happy. Sure, you and your boyfriend are sleeping together, but all that offering you give on Sunday and you being a good person makes up for your goodness and for this small thing. And isn’t the most important thing in a Christian’s life to be happy? I mean, Oprah believes it so it must be true, right? Besides, it’s not like you killed somebody! Pop culture says there is no absolute truth, only different truths, everyone with their own truth and all truths are true as long as you are happy. We know too well that Jesus’ claim rejects that kind of doctrine. We know that to be a true follower of Jesus makes you unpopular in this politically-correct world of ours. Jesus says in John 14:6 that “I am the way, the truth and the life; no-one can come to the father except through me.” Not few, not some, not many but NOONE! Jesus is making a very blunt statement that will offend the politically correct- the ones who would call him intolerant. But do you realize that it doesn’t make sense if I change the truth to please you and then it hurts you later? The major concern isn’t that the world operates like this (for they cannot help it) but that churches and fellowships are promoting this. How can you tell when this worldliness is creeping into your church and fellowships? You can tell if:

  • Biblical teachings are substituted with entertainment.
  • The Gospel of Salvation and repentance is substituted with self-improvement sermons such as “7-steps to get your happiness back.”
  • Discipleship and spiritual disciplines such as prayer, fasting, and memorizing scripture are seen as something that pastors do and not necessary for the rest of the church.
  • Biblical messages are substituted with lifestyle enhancement messages.
  • Promoting holiness, purity and obedience to the scriptures is termed as being legalistic.
  • Concern for the physical body outweighs concern for the soul

God’s purpose for the life of a believer if to make them holy not happy. Happiness is a by-product of holiness, not a main pursuit. The pursuit of happiness is like being concerned about the wrapping paper in an expensive gift and abandoning the costly merchandise. Yet that is what we sign up for when we say that the purpose of life is to be happy. The expensive and costly gift of salvation is thrown to the bin and we get giddy with the wrapping paper. And if you are not careful, Beloved you could make the cut for the end-times list in 2nd Timothy 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”

  1. If you love me you have to agree with me

Pop culture has made people believe the following lie: If you love me you will agree with me. Jesus Christ says the most shocking things in John 8 and offends many Jews. He offends them because he loves them! He wants them out of the clutches of sin. He says in the same John 8 in verse 34 “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Jesus sees slaves of sin that need deliverance, but the prisoners of sin love their chains and prison cells. We are like those Jews in John 8. We love darkness and because the truth is light, we hate it. Jesus said in John 3:19“…Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” Our generation would rather have you deceive them and make them happy than offend them and save their souls. And if you offend them like Jesus did because you do not agree with them, the immature reaction is that you do not love them.  Rick Warren puts it perfectly when he says, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

  1. God wants me to be rich

The rich young man approached Jesus. He asked Christ what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus sets the bar. He mentions a few of the Old Testament laws (obviously which every human has broken). The expected response is that the man will see how short he falls and in need of a saviour, for no man can keep the laws of God without fault. The rich young man declares that he has kept all those since childhood.  I can almost see Jesus’ thoughts. He challenges the man to declare his love for eternity. To sell all he has and follow Jesus. The man turns away sorrowful for he owned quite a fortune. Popular culture does not like that parable. Jesus taught that the love of money is what will prevent many from entering the Kingdom of Heaven. In the parable of the sower, he taught how the deceitfulness of wealth can hinder the words of the scriptures from reaching the core of our hearts. His faithful servant Paul spoke a verse that we rarely quote. 1 Timothy 6:9 “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” 

Does God want you to be rich? No verse in scripture supports this. In fact, Jesus teaches that the enemy of servitude to God is money. Matthew 6:24 says you cannot serve two masters. Either you will hate one or love the other. You can’t serve both God and money. Jesus is teaching something that we obviously oppose. Popular culture says that we actually can serve both God and money. Does God want you to be rich? He teaches in the parable of the sower that the reason the word of God does not enter the hearts of men and women is because of the deceitfulness of wealth. His faithful servant Paul the Apostle teaches in 1st Timothy 6 that people who want to get rich quickly expose give in to temptation very easily. Many believers who want this teaching to be true defend it using the poverty angle. Yet in Christ’s messages, he mentions nothing about poverty. I am not saying that God wants you to be poor. The reaction about poverty reveals the insecurity of our hearts. God wants you to be content. Paul states in 1st Timothy 6:6 that contentment is the key. Jesus says in Matthew 6 not to worry. The prosperity gospel hinges on weak facts such as Jesus having a money account and King Solomon being rich. God is more interested in you being spiritually mature than in being rich. Luke 12:21 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

What other false teachings of pop culture do you know that are slipping into the church?



Ernest is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband, and a father. He has been married to Waturi since September 2012. They have three children- Thandiwe, Ivanna, and Theo. He is also the author of four books. The Wamboyes are passionate to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly taught and understood in our post-modern world. They are champions of biblical discipleship and furthering the Kingdom of God by transforming one person at a time. They are the founders of The Relationship Centre Ltd (TRC), an organisation that aims to promote biblical family values in contemporary urban communities.

Discussion16 Comments

  1. very profound Ernest !!! Good Job. Im not sure whether this is a false teaching 'as long as you are not hurting anyone , you can do anything '

    • Wow! Oh my goodness! That should have been my point number ONE! That is by far the most deceptive of all pop culture doctrines. "As long as you are not hurting anyone, you can do anything." I feel tempted to do a part two to this blog and include that. How could I forget it? Thank you so much. God bless!

  2. That we can take Alcohol because the Savior made Wine,Apostle Paul said that it's good for the stomach,I do believe it's the will of God for His Sons and daughters to be sober minded,{1 Peter I guess 5:17}God judges the motives of a man,He reads our mind,it's written do not get drunk with wine but be filled by the Spirit,Galatians 5 I guess 23 'there is no place for the drunkards in heaven,I cosign with you and the scriptures that God wants us to be holy 1Peter 1:15 'Be holy because I am Holy'1Thesalonians 4:2 It's the will of God for us to be sanctified,The Perfect Man died to make the imperfect man 'me' perfect-{1Cor 15:20-21}we can rest on His word and make His will our home and forever we 'll dwell in His presence.Amen bro I like this,you are a blessing.God bless you and family.

  3. Good article Ernest! True to the core. please do a part two and also include the fallacy that is also creeping into the church of the Bible not being enough to live by. That you need deeper revelation of God than what the Bible gives.

  4. Amen.Amen amen! How timely. The lie is sold as the truth. We fear speaking truth because we will rub people the wrong way.I am very afraid because the Love of God is being peddled all over that people no longer truly repent.because of the fallacy God loves you anyway. Well God does love us but what we do not say is that every sin has a consequence. Rom 6:23 for the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.
    We compromise the truth over popularity and also over being loved by all. The other fallacy you have mentioned that all truth is true I heard about it as well.the thing is no one can know the truth unless they know Him who is truth and that is Christ Jesus.apart from Him we are detached from truth. Also Jesus warned about people who.mislead others He said that a milestone should be tied around their necks and they are thrown into the sea. Jesus also said that we should not be astonished when.the world hates us because the world hated Him first .friendliness with the world is enemity with God. Thank you for posting this I am challenged.glory to God!

    • Thank you, Diana! It's true. In the name of love, we have presented God as toothless deity. Yet a loving God is a just God who demands recompense! The wages of sin indeed as scripture says is death. Couldn't have said it better! Glory to God!

  5. Wonderful post Ernest. I read your blog and have been challenged many at times by the simple truths and convictions included therein. This particular one, Jesus on the bench and Sex before marriage cast an indelible mark that will always echo in my heart. I pray that God continues to bless you and that we grow to be bold for Christ's teaching as you demonstrate on this platform. Shukran and baraka tele my brother.

    • What a blessing it is to be used by God to bless others. may all honour and glory and power and majesty and authority be attributed to Him always. Strokes of the pen for the glory of His name! Baraka!

  6. Well said, Ernest. Glory to God for this post.
    It's sad that we are now so full of ourselves, trying to 'help' God. (Rephrasing the Word).
    Back here people actually preach things like 'you cant do anything without money' 'yes, you need God but you need money too to make it in life' …where that leaves God, I don't know….

  7. I beg to differ on the point of being rich.The word says seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things(including riches) shall be added unto you. When God blesses me financially i will not want to live in misery but according to the way he wants me to be.
    The scripture also says in John 10:10 that Jesus came so that we may have life and have it abundantly. God wants us to enjoy our salvation and our everyday lives in him.
    Also in 2corinthians 8:9 it says that Jesus though he was rich became poor that through his poverty we may be rich. So God wants us to live well
    Our God is the epitomy of abundance. The heaven has streets of gold.It is our heritage to live a life of abundance. It is God's pleasure to give us the kingdom.
    Enough said!!!

    • I would encourage you Linda to read any one of the Gospels, all if you can, from beginning to end, continuously…do a study if possible, though a reading may work just as well… Just read and ask God to reveal His truths… Filter out your pastor/preachers….even this blog post…just let the Holy Spirit minister to You as you read His Word.

    • Unfortunately Linda, many of those verses you mentioned have nothing to do with money. Many pastors have used these verses that bespeak spiritual fulfillment and turned them around to mean money. The point of money does not say money is a bad thing neither is being rich a bad thing. You have mistaken the teaching of Jesus about serving money to mean God wants you to be miserable and poor. That is not what Christ teaches. I like Anonymous's suggestion. Do a through study of the gospels and filter out everything (even this blog) and may the Holy Spirit lead to to the truth.

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