Tuesday, November 1, 2016

book review-- Burning Ones by Jerame Nelson

A steaming pile of pseudo-theology

The author of this book should be credited with at least this much, that he states his premise for this book right at the first, “I believe that God is raising up the Burning Ones in this hour.” (p. 15). He also calls these Burning One dread champions, for what it's worth, which isn't much, since he never tells us where the Bible tells us God is raising up these Burning Ones. No, he only tries to hammer his ideas into scriptural passages that don't teach those ideas.

Of course, to become one of these “Burning Ones”, you have to work for it, you have to earn it. “One of the marks of the dread champions will be that they will be a generation who will embrace the fire of God, not run from it. They will be those who are willing to pay the price necessary to become carriers of His glory.” (p. 71). Yep, it's all up to you. Too bad for him, though, that the Bible refutes this notion, in Galatians 3, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?” This passage puts paid to any notion that we can do any works to receive the Spirit or receive any miracle.

One of his main tactics is to use biblical passages as metaphors for his Burning Ones. He does it, for example, to some biblical descriptions of David's mighty men, claiming these descriptions are somehow applicable to his Burning Ones, when there is nothing in the Bible that supports such a view or teaching. He tries it with Deuteronomy 11, claiming that the things mentioned there are metaphors for his Burning Ones, which has no biblical support, either.

Another main tactic of his is to constantly refer to these bizarre dreams and visions he claims to have gotten from God. If anything, these things are more important for his book's teachings then anything he tries to shoehorn into the Bible. In fact, it wouldn't be unfair to say that his faith is much more in these unscriptural visions then in the scripture itself.

Of special audacity, and not in the good sense, is the last chapter. It's simply hilarious when someone peddling strange fire like he is tries to warn others of strange fire. At one point in this chapter, he wants to try to warn people of those who are “toking the ghost”, and while I can agree with his warning to some degree, he does this just after bragging about a time he was “hammered in the Spirit” (p. 206) and trying to get people to come to God by comparing God to a marijuana hit. There's an old saying about pots and kettles that seems very applicable here.

A third tactic, one pretty closely related to the second, is his constant referring to miracles he claimed happened during his ministry. My response to these claims is a complex but important one, and it follows here...

“I remember preaching in Lakeland, Florida, during the time when a revival burned through GodTV to the world known as the Florida Outpouring.” (p. 195). The Lakeland Revival was the event that spun around the person of Todd “Kicking Grandma in the Face with my Bike Boots” Bentley. One of the big elements of this “revival” was claims of healings. World Magazine did an article called Heal or Heel?, telling about when they looked into some of the claims of healings from Bentley, and got a short list of people healed. But when World investigated further, they learned that these people weren't really healed at all, that Bentley was lying.

This World Magazine article is especially relevant to the claims in this book of people being healed of cancer, because the article mentions claims by Bentley of people who were healed of cancer, but who later died of that same cancer.

Here's the truth—faith healers lie. It's been shown that Benny Hinn's healings are fake. Tricks like the fake leg-lengthening “healing” have been well-documented. The entire thing has been exposed as a falsehood, a scam to whip up enthusiasm, create followers who have tossed discernment aside, and of course make the minister filthy rich. And worse then that, people die when they think they've been told they are healed when they really aren't, something shown in the World Magazine article, but not just there. Foreign Policy Magazine did an article called Angels and Demons, which tells about how in Africa people with AIDS are dying because Pentecostal faith healers are telling them they are healed, so these people stop taking their anti-retroviral drugs.

Some people might think the title of this review is crass and too much, but it's not. This book is exactly what the title says it is. It is filled with false teachings, it is filled with twistings of biblical passages. The only place this book should be found is in a trash bin.

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