This is some of the teaching that started to open my eyes to the biblical realities of the millennium.
The question of whether David Pawson is a false teacher is still one of the most popular search terms leading people to my blog. I wrote about this previously here:
Within the comments section of that post someone drew attention to a long article here: [LINK NOW REMOVED]*
According to the person who posted the link, it “clearly shows Pawson and his false teachings”. The commenter also adds (referring to me) “because you believe some of the lies themselves… you yourself is a false teacher.”
I was quite aware of that article. I’d come across it several times. It used to be the first article listed if David Pawson’s name was “googled”. And clearly some have found it convincing. I feel it is something I ought to address because I know people have visited that site via the link given by the above mentioned commenter.
So what are the claims made in the article and how valid are they?
Firstly it is a very long article containing a transcript of a talk given by Pawson that probably went for 45 minutes to an hour, so doing an extensive, line by line critique isn’t practical in a blog post, but then again it isn’t necessary because most of the objections raised are 1) repetitive and 2) they are focused on aspects of Dispensationalism , a theology clearly held by the writer of the article.
So what evidence does the writer give to “prove” that Pawson is a false teacher? And how valid is that evidence? Here are some of the claims made, followed by my response to those claims:
David Pawson does not believe and preach of meeting the Lord in the air at His return.
Pawson certainly DOES believe in the event commonly referred to as “the rapture”. But he believes it will occur AFTER the period known as the great tribulation. But what happens AFTER that meeting? What happens to the believers who were caught up and where do they go? Pawson believes (as it states in scripture) that those believers alive at the Lord’s return will be changed and put on immortality and will return to the earth with the Lord (who they have met in the air) to take part in His 1000 year reign.
Scripture refutes that Christians will go through “the most fearful period in the history of the planet.
Scripture does nothing of the kind.
Pawson believes and teaches what scripture DOES say about this. His teachings about the end times are accessible through many recorded sermons found on the website http://davidpawson.org/resources/category/belief/when-jesus-returns/ ) as well as in several books he has written.
Like the author of the article, I was a believer in the pre-trib rapture for several years. It was the view I’d been taught in church. But my beliefs totally changed when I took the time to study scripture for myself. I later came across Pawson’s teaching on this subject, and that helped me accept that my new understanding wasn’t off-track.
Pawson preaches “we will enter the Millennial Reign of Christ STILL IN OUR MORTAL BODIES, for we have never been Raptured”.
This has been dealt with above in “claim 1”. The accusation made couldn’t be more false. It is a total lie, a complete misrepresentation of what Pawson preaches.
“Pawson seems to make the Church of Jesus Christ take the place that ISRAEL takes in Biblical prophecy, in the period of the Tribulation.”
It is only the erroneous Dispensationalist view point that separates the church and Israel in this way, placing the “raptured church” in heaven, while Israel suffers through the tribulation. Pawson believes that both the church and Israel go through that period and each have their place. The church doesn’t replace Israel but neither does Israel replace the church.
“Most disturbing of all is the fact that Pawson believes and teaches that “Jesus Christ” will soon appear, and we should be waiting for Him to take over the planet and transform it into a new world.”
Pawson believes that when Jesus returns He will defeat the beast (commonly known as the anti-christ) and He will take over the planet and reign from Jerusalem. This will all happen after the Tribulation, it will be unmistakable and cannot be confused with the rise of antichrist who has already been made known before Jesus returns.
Pawson does NOT preach that Christians will take dominion over the word’s systems etc. before Jesus’s return. JESUS takes dominion over them after His unmistakable return during which HE gathers His saints in the air. No one believing the same way as Pawson would be deceived by a false Christ, a man who does NOT come to prominence in the immediate, highly visible and public way that will mark the return of Jesus.
Pawson also believes that the Millennial reign will be followed by the creation of a new heavens and a new earth, that will replace the current creation. A new creation where only righteousness dwells.
The above addresses the first page or so of that article and I think that is more than enough to expose the article’s lack of validity. The article is a tangled web of lies and false accusations based around the very dangerous dispensationalist theology.
I’ve read through the 57 pages in which a transcript of Pawson’s message is interrupted by interjections from the writer of the article and I could possibly highlight countless more of the kind of falsehoods I’ve mentioned above, but it would merely be more and more of the same and the interjections merely highlight how much the writer has been conditioned by Dispensationalism and that she is reading things into Pawson’s message that haven’t been said or even implied (as I’ve already shown above). And at times the writer accuses Pawson of saying things that are in complete disagreement with what he DOES say.
The writer makes the continued claim that Pawson was avoiding scripture, but maybe if the writer had been more familiar with scripture instead of Dispensationalist teaching (and I find her ignorance of what scripture says to be genuinely heartbreaking considering the role she has taken upon herself with that article), she would have recognised that Pawson’s teaching was totally consistent with scripture – even though he avoids the common practice of bombarding listeners with “proof texts”.
Ironically the writer makes reference to the Bereans early in the article but doesn’t seem to realise that the Bereans SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES to see whether Paul was speaking the truth. They did not look up a handful of conveniently provided proof texts quoted by Paul. Nor did they expect Paul to provide that list of “texts” to make their task easier.
Most of the above comes from a reply I wrote in the comments after the “Is David Pawson a False Teacher article.
* I’ve now removed the link to the article, deciding I don’t want to further expose readers to the very questionable theology and false accusations made at that site.
I receive many visits to this blog because of my references to David Pawson. It seems a lot of people are trying to find out more about him and his teaching. Maybe one of the most worrying reasons for those visits is demonstrated in a commonly used search term – a phrase entered into a search engine to track down relevant information. That search term is “Is David Pawson a false teacher?”
Why do I find that worrying?
I’d have to ask why people would be asking whether Pawson was a false teacher. I assume someone out there has been telling people that he is. But the real cause for concern is that people are hearing those claims and then trying to get answers from others about the legitimacy of Pawson’s ministry. I wonder how their final conclusions will be drawn. Will they accept the outcome of majority opinion?
I have no problem with people questioning Pawson’s teaching. I have regularly heard him insisting that his hearers SHOULD question it. But turning to others for judgement is not the way to do that. The way to test ALL teaching is to search the scriptures ourselves. To become personally familiar with what God has revealed of Himself and His ways through His word so we can assess for ourselves whether a teaching is false or not.
As well as this question about Pawson, I’ve often come across people who want names named. Whenever there are general warnings about certain doctrines and practices, there will be some who ask which teachers are being referred to? They want to know who is teaching the falsehoods being exposed. But what about those who are overlooked in the naming? What if someone preaching the same error escapes a list of named false teachers? Does their omission from the list give them legitimacy?
Of course not!
It is up to each of us, individually, to take responsibility for the teaching we accept. It’s up to us to make sure it genuinely conforms to scripture. It is up to us to make sure that the teachers we heed are not merely using scripture (usually parts of scripture) to support their own agenda or theological tradition. Are they leaving something out? Are there parts of scripture they tend to avoid? Do they have to “reinterpret” parts of scripture to make it agree with what they are teaching?
So is David Pawson a false teacher?
Search the scriptures for yourself and find out.
I saw this on the TV on Sunday evening. (about 1/2 hour)
It is mainly about Harry Westcott, a man who played a massive part in my Christian life through the 80s.
He led (leads) a group called Vision Ministries. In the early 1980s I started their Bible College correspondence course and completed about half of the requirements for their lowest qualification (certificate of theology – or something like that). I went along to a lot of their big events in Sydney to hear speakers like Colin Urquhart, Benson Idahosa, TL & Daisy Osborn and others. David Pawson was a regular speaker but I never got to hear him in person.
Vision Ministries started to hold Saturday night meetings in Parramatta and I drove there from Wollongong as often as I could to attend, taking a few friends along each time. It was about a four hour round trip.
At those meetings I met a woman called Jackie Hamill, a very friendly God-loving woman who always made my friends and I feel very welcome. She was a full time student at the Vision Bible College. Whenever I went to a Vision event she was often the first to greet me. She later gave her life for the Lord, becoming the only literal martyr I’ve known personally.
She went on a mission trip to the Philippines, was taken hostage while visiting a prison and was raped and shot . (see here for more information http://onefiles.blogspot.co.nz/2009/08/martyrdom-of-friend.html)
Years afterwards I found that Harry Westcott entered his own period of spiritual crisis in the late 80s (around the time my own crisis began). He left Sydney and moved back to his parents’ property in Parkes. He was given his parents’ house and given the opportunity to buy some land around it to farm. After a little time away from ministry he turned part of the property in a new Vision ministries headquarters where he started holding annual “Old Fashioned Camp Meetings” to which people would come to stay in tents and caravans to hear invited speakers. After one camp was disrupted by severe storms he set out to build a “Bush Cathedral” – a huge shed with meeting facilities to house future events.
About 10 years ago I got back in contact with Harry, and when Gloria and I started looking for a country escape from Sydney, Parkes was my favoured choice (though we didn’t end up living there).
On one of our regular trips to stay with Gloria’s parents, we decided to go a different route, heading through Parkes instead of Wagga. My planned visit to have coffee with Harry and his wife Doreen was changed to an overnight stay at their invitation. We were given accommodation in a cabin next to the main house, and spent the evening with the Westcotts. The visitors book in the cabin was fascinating – seeing names (and addresses) of some very well-known preachers. It was tempting to note down addresses, but I thought that would have been an abuse of our host’s hospitality.
Further involvement with Harry and Vision Ministries didn’t eventuate. I felt there were still too many associations with questionable personalities from the charismatic and WOF worlds. Although he was one of the few who spoke out against the excesses of Toronto when that was happening, he remained loyal to the late Benson Idahosa, one of the Nigerian adherents to the prosperity “gospel”, and from the video linked above it is clear that Westcott still holds to the prosperity “gospel” himself.
For a long time Harry and Vision Ministries seemed to have most of the answers I was looking for – they were almost OOC before anyone had dreamed of there being OOC believers. Harry was big on inter-denominationalism, drawing people from all kinds of backgrounds together to put the focus on Jesus and the gospel instead of denominational theology. But while the right desire and intention may have been there – putting it into practice wasn’t always a success.
This morning I read a contributor on another blog saying he doesn’t accept David Pawson’s teaching. That wasn’t surprising because I know the writer is a strong Dispensationalist and Pawson’s teaching challenges those dispensationalist views. But I can’t blame the man for dismissing teaching that opposes his chosen doctrines. I had my own struggle with Pawson in the early 2000s.
I knew of Pawson’s teaching back in the 80s and I had a collection of tapes of his preaching at Vision Ministries conferences in Sydney and Melbourne. This was before I entered one of the worst periods of my spiritual life when my faith was severely challenged for around 15 years.
When I returned to faith after that “spiritual crisis”, Pawson was one of the first teachers I came across through his messages on Islam. After hearing that teaching I sought out more and was horrified by some things I heard – I had trouble accepting a lot of his teaching and more or less pushed him aside. What had happened to him over the years? Surely his preaching had changed since I’d last heard him.
But then, as I read more of scripture for myself, I started to think that Pawson might be right and my own understanding wrong.
Maybe one of the “difficulties” with Pawson is his reluctance to give chapter and verse references to provide on the spot proof for his teaching. That kind of approach doesn’t fit with the way Christians have been conditioned to rely on “texts”. His approach makes us search the scriptures if we want to check what he says.
I found one of his most helpful teachings was a sermon about the Millennium. He had a lot to say about it but gave very little “proof” from scripture, so I assumed he was going overboard with speculation – after all, the only references I knew of this period were in Rev 20 and they gave very little detail. It was only through my general bible reading that I started to come across that detail, in the prophets, and I started to see where Pawson had found the ideas he was teaching.
It was helpful because the experience gave me one of the most important lessons I’ve learned – not just about the millennium. I found how ignorant I’d been and how necessary it was to search the scriptures for myself and not to rely on other to provide “proof” for the validity of their teaching.
see here for access to Mr Pawson’s teaching:
The following question was in the “Search Engine terms” of this blog. It seems someone was trying to clear up some concerns about David Pawson’s ministry.
“does david pawson use scripture”?
It all depends on what the searcher means by “use scripture”, but I’ll give an answer based on my assumption of what the searcher was asking.
Perhaps the question was asked because Pawson rarely gives chapter and verse references during his sermons. He expects people to do more than check a few verses cherry-picked by the preacher to see whether the preaching is scriptural or not.
He has pointed out on many occasions that chapter and verse references are NOT part of the Spirit inspired scriptures. They were added by men for convenience, and have helped change our approach to scripture. People no longer “search the scriptures” like the Bereans, they look up references and in doing so usually miss the CONTEXT of the reference.
The experience that most helped me appreciate Pawson’s approach was hearing his teaching on “The Millennium”. His teaching included a lot of what I though was speculation. He described that 1000 year period in some detail but he referred specifically only to Revelation 20, and very few of his details were mentioned in that chapter.
However, my assessment changed as bit by bit I found ALL of what he had said revealed throughout the Old Testament prophets.
Pawson could have easily peppered his sermon with chapter and verse references, but I found it all MUCH more rewarding and convincing to come across those OT prophecies and their descriptions for myself.
Does “David Pawson use scripture”? He certainly does – and effectively so, in a way that makes it much more real and meaningful to us – but only if WE make use of scripture OURSELVES as something more than a collection of proof texts.
For most of my Christian life “The Millennium” was a mysterious 1000 year period beginning after the Great Tribulation. The religious tradition to which I belonged paid lip-service to the reality of a future “millennium”, but never offered any teaching about it. Therefore the only thing I knew was what I read in Revelation and that didn’t say very much. Even the word “millennium” seemed to take on a mystical character that took it outside the realm of concrete reality.
My first informed introduction to the topic came a few years ago through teaching by David Pawson. At first I thought that most of what he was saying was based on speculation like the majority of popular teaching on end times. But if that was the case it would be out of character for him. He always makes a strong issue out of sticking with the clearest and simplest meaning of the biblical text. Was he abandoning this approach while tackling this topic?
Pawson rarely gives convenient chapter and verse bible references for his hearers to “look up”. He encourages the practice of searching the scriptures rather than checking references; and over time I started to find confirmation of his teaching as I read through the Old Testament prophets. I was surprised how much of their writings applied to the promise of an earthly rule by Israel’s Messiah.
Recently I came across a former believer (and now professing atheist) who claimed that Jesus had failed to fulfil many OT Messianic prophesies. It seemed that this understanding might have played a part in him losing his faith. An honest assessment of his view would see the legitimacy of his conclusion, but ONLY on the condition that Jesus’ time on this earth was over and that there was no further opportunity for the prophecies to be fulfilled.
Most Christians look forward to a “second-coming” of Jesus, but how many have given any thought to WHY He will return to earth? Why is it necessary? What will it achieve that could not be achieved by him remaining in heaven? Is He returning merely to bring everything to an immediate end prior to judgement? If that is the case, then what about those unfulfilled Messianic prophecies? Has God given up on them? Was He lying when He gave those words to the prophets? Or are those events still pending?
Many try to spiritualise John’s prophecy about a 1000 year period in which Jesus rules with His saints. But is it merely coincidence that John describes the very same situation that almost all of the Old Testament prophets predicted? If the prophets’ predictions were valid (which believers MUST accept if we deem that they were prophetic messages from God) then could those prophets have been predicting the very same thing that John foresaw? If so, the events they describe in their prophecies will give us a picture of life during the millennium period, filling in the detail missing from John’s account in Revelation. And the former believer’s claim of failed Messianic prophecies would be clearly premature. There is still plenty of time for the Lord to fulfil His prophesied Messianic promises.
(This article originally posted on my blogspot site on 23 Sept 2009)
I’ve been listening to a sermon series by David Pawson where he discusses his approach to preaching, sharing the experience he’s gained over 60 or so years of ministry.
I found the part linked below was particularly interesting. He discusses the importance of “context” and what it means to address scripture “in context”.
Context makes a big difference to the way we understand what scripture shows us about God. I personally would go as far as saying that almost EVERY doctrinal controversy afflicting “the church” has its root in a non-contextual application of isolated verses from scripture.
The talk goes for around 53 minutes and I highly recommended it.
While I have looked for reliable teaching materials for many years, so far the most helpful teacher I have found is David Pawson. He seems to be less influenced by theological tradition than others I’ve come across. The most important thing I’ve learned from him is to take the Berean approach of searching the scriptures for myself to test all teaching and revelation against scripture.
Along with that I have learned NOT to rely on “texts” from the bible – but to rely on the overall revelation of God given through the bible. Scripture was not given in chapters and verses, and yet today we tend to concentrate on those small divisions to highlight little bits of scripture as if they individually contain all we need to know about a particular issue.
My own understanding of God and His ways was severely lacking until I gained an overview of the whole bible and saw how it all fits together. (Of course my understanding of God STILL has a long way to go – but it has improved significantly since I turned to [the whole of] scripture for myself instead of always relying on others to tell me what should be believed).
One reason I respect Mr Pawson’s teaching is that I resisted so much of it at first – but after taking the time to assess his teaching against scripture I found most of the time he had been right and I had been wrong. Later, when I started to address scripture for myself, I found his teaching was starting to becoming a confirmation of what I was already learning from scripture instead of it being something new I was hearing from him.
I find this is the best way to learn:
1) Search the scriptures for yourself
2) Trust the Holy Spirit to give understanding of scripture.
3) Expect to receive confirmation/correction from other believers of the things you have learned though steps 1 and 2.
It’s easy to make mistakes, it is easy to get things wrong – but step 3, fellowship with Spirit-led believers you can trust and through the help of reliable teachers those mistakes can be minismised and kept in check.
See the link to David Pawson in the side bar. It gives access to a huge library of his teaching covering 40 years of more of his ministry. Keep in mind his teaching has matured over that time .