Putting my money where my mouth is

I was recently sent the following email.

Hello,
Do not erase please! Important email. Most of you know that David Herzog, a born-again, on-fire for God man is coming to speak at the Cadillac High School Auditorium today Friday @ 7, tomorrow Saturday @ 7 and Sunday 10am and 6 at the Revival Center in Cadillac.

I would encourage all to come, bring the lost, this man has lead thousands to Christ and his ministry has personally refreshed my family’s life and the life of our friends. Please don’t miss as Miracles, Signs, and Wonders have accompanied this man’s ministry.

If you don’t understand all the more to come, you won’t be disappointed.

For those of you who think you know what it’s all about, or don’t believe miracles are vital to the church or your personal relationship with Christ today all the more reason to be there. I would ask that all would lay aside there pride for just 1 weekend, 1 meeting! In the New Testament Jesus could only help the willing, the religious leaders couldn’t stand the Word of God that He preached and never recieved from Jesus what He wanted for their lives.

If you want more of God please come, it’s that simple. A lot of us at First Baptist want to see more of our church people there. Please come, if for nothing else to hear what people are going to be talking about for a long time.

This weekend has been bathed in prayer, expectancy, fasting, intercession, and excitement for what God is going to do.

I don’t gain anything by emailing this. I’m jealous for more of God in Cadillac, I’m jealous for the lost to be saved. We don’t always know the best ways or the most effective ways, but I tell you what I do know, I’m willing to let God do what He wants to do.

It was a risk people took in believing Jesus, but the reward was priceless. Step out of your comfort zone. Let’s see God work…Hundreds of people from all over the U.S are coming, this is a HUGE event, this is not some fly by night charismatic fluff event. This event has been advertised on TV, Radio, and internet ALL over the U.S. This is a well planned event, that is in our own backyard. I’ve talked many people who are flying here or driving from VERY far. David has led revivals of thousands in France and other parts of the World. His humble spirit and passion for Christ will overwhelm you. You will learn things you might have never heard.

See you all there…(snip)

I normally delete emails like this but this one I find particularly troublesome. The sender, whose identity I shall not divulge, sent it to 72 people and put our email addresses in the CC field instead of BCC. So, I replied to all.

The reply, which I will include below, is where things get interesting. Before I received this email, I knew nothing of David. After minutes of research, I gathered my conclusions and composed a rebuttal. I pulled no punches. If the insinuations I have made are false, he will have a strong libel or slander case to make against me.

The stakes are high. If this article pops up near the top of the list every time someone searches for David’s name, it will have a chilling effect on donations. There are tens of thousands of dollars are at stake. David has a significant financial interest to not sully his name. Should he slap me with a cease-and-desist or defamation lawsuit, my best recourse is copious discovery and my own witnesses.

I expect David would rather fly under the radar, keeping his public attention to  sympathetic churchgoers. A public confrontation simply would not be good for business. If I am wrong, I will need witnesses. If you are in Cadillac, please attend for me. Take notes. Record a session if you can.

Without further delay, here is my response.

My apologies. My greatest joys are not found in snuffing out enthusiasm, but this is a situation in which the wisdom of a serpent (Matt 10:6) is called for.

If you go to this event, I urge sensible caution. The event will kick off with high energy, easy to sing music. David will do the offering call. He is charismatic and there will be excitement and emotion when he is speaking. He will speak on  high points of scriptural giving (like Acts 4) and ignore the low ones (like Acts 5). He will challenge you to give to God, and expect God to give it back to you 10-fold, or more. Except that it won’t be God or your local church that he wants you to make the checks out to.

Treat this like a shopping trip to look at new cars. Before you depart home, resolve not to make any financial commitments of any sort. Empty your wallet of cash, checks, and credit cards. If he compels you to give sacrificially, trusting in God to repay it, put that money in the offering basket at your local church on Sunday morning. God has not (yet) claimed to grant special dividends on money given to itinerant evangelists.

There is good reason to be skeptical of David Herzog. The amount of advertising you see is a reflection of how David spends his “donations.” Yes, you too can buy his next radio or TV commercial. The pentecostal third wave, or latter rain movement has a significant population of these “prophets,” or “revivalists.” While many “experience” wonderful things, the effects are only emotional and the long term effects of these “healers” is always hurt people with less money.

I challenge you to look into these great revivals in France and elsewhere. France is post-Christian, with 0.1% of the population being evangelical (which includes charismatic). If David were leading “thousands” of French people to Christ, this would be Really Big News[TM] in the world of Christendom. Strange that I find no mention of this “fact” anywhere.

You can read more about David on his web site: http://www.thegloryzone.org/

He is not well publicized other than in small town local media, the sort that doesn’t vet their advertisers to weed out predators. You can find a few articles on the internet about David, written by other sources. His name is not unique so you have to sift through to find articles written about this David Herzog. Despite claims you might hear, he does not attract mass media attention. Whether this is purposeful or not, is up to you to judge.

If you want to know more about David or this “revivalist” type, I urge you to look into the fathers of this type of ministry, and what has become of them and their “ministries” over the years:

1940s – William Branham
1950s – Kansas City Prophets: Paul Cain, Bob Jones,
recent – Jack Deere, John Wimber, Peter Wager, Wayne Grudem

Other keywords to search on are “Latter Rain Movement,” “Third Wave of the Holy Spirit,” and “Third Wave Charismatic.” These movements and leaders share a common lineage. David is a recent child in a long string of these revivalists. Internet searches for these people will uncover many cases of fraud, deceit, sexual immorality, abuse of power, cult followings, heretical teachings, and much more.

None of these “prophets,” despite what they claim, have ever performed a supernatural miracle. Think about it. What news reporting agency would not want to be the first to report these signs and wonders? Not even one verified, bona fide miracle? Why can these miracle workers not perform the miraculous when a skeptic is present? The Guiness Book of World Records has agents standing by. Moses wasn’t deterred by a skeptical pharoah.

Why should you listen to a skeptic like myself? I grew up in one of those post-Pentecostal apostolic churches. I know what it’s like on the inside. During my last year in seminary, I had to read Surprised By the Voice of God by Jack Deere. As part of the class work, I had to research Deere, and it was there that I discovered the links between all of the figures and movements listed above.

The research took on special significance when the connection between todays Vineyard Churches was traced back to William Branham, whose teachings I grew up hearing, and whom I know to have been terribly misaligned with Scriptural teachings. During my research, I also attended Vineyard churches. In summary, I know an awful lot about this movement and the foundations of their theology.

Despite my strong admonitions, I urge each and every one of you to go to David’s meetings. Yes, that is right. Go to his meetings. In fact, go to the first meeting. Consider it free entertainment. Watch like you would a magician, and see if you can’t pick out how the “miracles” were staged. During the offering, pay attention to your emotions and ask yourself if it is your faith being challenged, or if someone is taking advantage of peoples’ greed.

Practice loving your neighbor while you are there. Keep them from writing out that check. After the emotions of the moment pass and they come to their senses, ask them, as a favor to you, to return to the next meeting and spare others from what could have been your fate.

Matt Simerson

PS: I do love and care about you. I just spent hours of my time researching, composing, and sharing my knowledge with you. For those of you who are sensible enough to not be taken advantage of at an event like this, please do go and lend a hand to your neighbors.