Religious Hucksters and COVID-19

Religious Hucksters and COVID-19

One of the funniest stories in the Bible is about religious hucksters (Acts 19:13-16). A group of “vagabond Jews” tried to conduct a religious healing of a man. These seven religious “healers” were the sons of a priest named Sceva. They performed their chanting, which included mentioning the name of Jesus Christ. Then the evil spirit in the man they were trying to heal spoke up and said, “Jesus I know and Paul I know; but who are you?” The patient jumped on the seven “healers,” ripped their clothes off, and ran them out of the house “naked and wounded.”

Today we see religious hucksters promoting all kinds of things that are supposed to heal people of the coronavirus or prevent its infection. Atheists use these charlatans to attack belief in God. In the June 2020 issue of the Center For Inquiry, there is a full-page article on Jim Bakker, the former TV evangelist. Bakker has a “silver solution” containing colloidal silver which he claims can cure COVID-19.

Silver is dangerous when it is in solution with other chemicals. Silver nitrate is an important tool in chemistry for use in qualitative analysis. One thing students learn early in chemistry is that silver nitrate will turn their skin to a blue/black color. The National Institutes of Health has issued a warning saying, “Colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health.” The Center for Inquiry article says “..Bakker and those like him don’t care whether their drugs work – as long as they sell.”

The story in Acts 19 is a warning to us that religious deception is as old as humanity, and we need to trust God and not modern “snake oil” hucksters like Bakker. Atheists will continue to use religious hucksters to destroy people’s faith in God. Educating ourselves and others about the false claims of people who pretend to speak for God is one way we can defend our faith and avoid adding tragedy to people already in pain.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Nature of Heaven and Hell

Nature of Heaven and HellCecil May Jr. had a joke in the winter 2019 issue of Preacher Talk from Faulkner University. It raises serious issues that need to be addressed because of the confusion of both believers and atheists concerning the nature of Heaven and Hell. The joke goes like this:

Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, and Jim Bakker all died and arrived at the Pearly Gates at the same time. St. Peter told them, “There is a place reserved here for each of you, but we are in the midst of renovations, and we need to send you to the other place temporarily. We will call you back as soon as we can.” In less than a week Satan called St. Peter saying, “Hey, you’ve got to come and get these guys. Oral Roberts has healed everybody, Billy Graham has saved everybody, and Jim Bakker has raised enough money to air-condition the place.”

Without getting into any of the three people involved or the denominational views they represent, how many errors do you see about the nature of heaven and hell? Here are a dozen leading questions for you:

1) Are there “Pearly Gates” at the entrance to heaven?
2) Does Saint Peter act as the guardian or caretaker of the gates?
3) Does anyone have individual “places” in heaven?
4) Would Heaven ever need renovations?
5) Is hell a second class place to heaven?
6) Would any saint ever be in hell?
7) Does the word “temporary” have any meaning in heaven?
8) Are there weeks in heaven?
9) Does anyone in hell get relief or healing?
10) Is anyone in hell ever going to be saved?
11) Can any physical change ever be made in heaven or hell?
12) Is there money in heaven or hell?
The answer to each of these 12 is “No”!

Here are some biblical considerations:

1) Hell is complete separation from God. Matthew 25:31-46.
2) The Bible describes Hell in pictorial terms which are not physical.
A place of darkness – Matthew 8: 12, Jude 13, Matthew 22:13, 25:30, Romans 13:12 Ephesians 5:8,11.
A place of fire – Jude 7, Matthew 3:12, 5:22, 13:42,49,50, 25:41.
3) Hell is not a torture chamber – a physical place. Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:4-5.
Luke 16 is a parable, not history.
4) Hell is not a courtroom for debate. Matthew 25:31-46 has explanations, not bargaining or arguing.
5) Nothing physical remains after the second coming. 2 Peter 3:8-13.
6) God’s judgment is sure, fair and logical. Romans 2:2, Luke 16:15, Romans 9:14-16.
We are not the judge, nor is it up to us to tell God how to use His mercy.
7) Do you really believe that this life is all there is?
Have you researched the evidence for God’s existence?
Do you want to take any chance of going to hell?
Do you understand the nature of heaven and hell?

We can start you on the road to being confident about your salvation. Read 1 John 1:5-10.
Go to doesgodexist.org and take lesson # 1 of the free correspondence course.
— John N. Clayton © 2019