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The Dangers of a Counterfeit Christ

Sun, Mar. 16, 2014 Posted: 09:23 AM

Does it really matter what you believe about Jesus Christ? Does it matter if you believe He is:

…God in the flesh, humankind’s Savior and Lord?

…one of multiple gods?

…a created being?

…just a great prophet?

…only a moral human teacher, but nothing more?

…one of many manifestations of the Christ?

…a myth?

In His Olivet discourse, Jesus warned three times that “many” false messiahs and their false prophets would appear and lead many people into error and destruction. History has proven Him right. By my count, there are at least seven categories of false Christs that have appeared on the landscape; ones that Paul referred to as “another Jesus” (2 Cor. 11:4).

Some are easy to spot while others are cloaked much more subtly and bring to mind what A. W. Tozer said about spiritual deception: “So skilled is error at imitating truth that the two are constantly being mistaken for each other. It takes a sharp eye these days to know which brother is Cain and which Abel.”[1]

Let’s take a quick tour of these Counterfeit Christs so you can better understand the truth behind Tozer’s statement.

The Counterfeit Christ of World Religions

At first blush, the Jesus of Islam resembles the Jesus in the New Testament. The Koran says Jesus was born of a virgin (Sura 3:47), proclaimed to be the Messiah (Sura 3:45), performed miracles (Sura 3:49), was confirmed to be righteous (Sura 6:85), sinless (Sura 3:46), had disciples (Sura 3:52-53), was sent with a gospel (Sura 5:46), his words should be believed (Sura 4:171), was taken to Heaven by God (Sura 4:156-159), and will come again (Sura 3:55).

But look closer and you will find the Islamic Jesus was created out of dust (Sura 3:59), is not the Son of God or God (Sura 4:171), was not crucified and did not die (Sura 4:157), was not resurrected (because he did not die), was not a Jew nor were his disciples (Sura 5:48, 53, 5:111), prophesied the coming of Muhammad (Sura 61:6), should not be worshipped (Sura 5:116), will return, die and be judged (Sunan Abu Dawud Book 37, Number 4310).

You will see similar things in Hinduism (Jesus was a great man who attained God-realization), Buddhism (Jesus was a “bodhisattva”, one who has achieved enlightenment), and other religions. None reflect the true Jesus of the Bible.

The Counterfeit Christ of Christian Cults

They will call Jesus savior and lord, display crosses, quote his words, but look closely and you will find a Jesus that isn’t the real thing.

To the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who follow in the footsteps of Arius), Jesus is a created little “god” in their rewritten Bible (John 1:1) but not God: “. . . the true Scriptures speak of God’s Son, the Word, as ‘a god.’ He is a ‘mighty god,’ but not the Almighty God, who is Jehovah – Isaiah 9:6.”[2]

To Mormons, Jesus is Jehovah (but different than Elohim). Mormons believe “Jesus Christ attained godhood (see Christology) and that he marked the path and led the way for others likewise to become exalted divine beings by following him”[3], and that Joseph Smith “knew that the long-heralded trinity of three Gods in one was a myth, a deception. He knew that the Father and the Son were two distinct beings with form, voices, and . . . personalities.”[4]

Continue down the path of other cults and you will find much the same.

The Counterfeit Christ of the Occult

Various occult teachings trot out a version of Jesus. The typical pattern is one of separating Jesus from “the Christ” as is done in the Aquarian Gospel: “When we say "Jesus the Christ" we refer to the man and to his office; just as we do when we say Edward, the King, or Lincoln, the President. Edward was not always King, and Lincoln was not always President, and Jesus was not always Christ. Jesus won his Christ-ship by a strenuous life”.[5]

The Counterfeit Christ of Mythology

Although the idea that Jesus of Nazareth never lived is not entertained or defended by any recognized modern historical scholar – secular or Christian – the notion that Jesus is just a myth is still passed around on various internet atheist websites. For example, the internet movie Zeitgeist (which has been debunked numerous times), says: “The reality is Jesus was the solar deity of the Gnostic Christian sect. And like all other pagan gods he was a mythical figure. It was the political establishment that saw to historized (sic) the Jesus figure for social control.”[6]

Fortunately, the Jesus-is-a-myth crowd has all but evaporated today. Like Dr. Bruce Metzger said decades ago, “Today no competent scholar denies the historicity of Jesus.”[7]

The Counterfeit Christ of Pluralism

Pluralism is a philosophy that says that no religion has the right to pronounce itself right or true and the other competing faiths false, or even relatively inferior. For those who espouse a philosophical religious pluralism, there is no longer any heresy, except perhaps the view that there are heresies.

The counterfeit christ of Pluralism is one manufactured many times over by various individuals who craft a Jesus to suit their tastes and beliefs. For example, he might be the non-miracle working Jesus of Thomas Jefferson who excised references of Jesus’ miracles in the gospels.

But mostly this fake Jesus only exhibits the characteristics of being all-tolerant, accepting of every lifestyle, and never condemning. In other words, the Pluralist’s Jesus is simply a man who espouses moral teachings that may be cherry-picked from and whose authority is circumvented by each individual’s conscience.

The Counterfeit Christ of Humanism

Voltaire wrote, “If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor.”[8] This is in essence what secular humanism – a belief system recognized by the IRS as a true religion[9] - does: it makes humankind the measure of all things where we become a savior and god to ourselves.

Following in the path of past Caesars, who either deified themselves or were christened saviors by their subjects, secular humanism holds Jesus’ funeral and then takes His place. As just one example, witness part of the re-written “Silent Night” sung by the Nazi’s for Hitler:

"Silent night! Holy night! All is calm. All is bright. Adolf Hitler is Germany's wealth, Brings us greatness, favor and health. Oh, give us Germans all power!”[10]

The Ultimate Counterfeit

Scripture is clear that in the end times, the ultimate counterfeit christ will appear and do everything in his power to fulfill Satan’s aspiration of making himself “like the Most High” (Is. 14:14). Paul warns, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the time of the end] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thess. 2:3-4).

The Bible also makes it clear that when the antichrist does this, the true Jesus will respond to the challenge and put an end to him (Rev. 19:20).

Why The Real Jesus Matters

You can peel the label off a bottle of strychnine and paste a new “Lemonade” label on it, but you won’t change the contents of the bottle or the effect it will have if someone drinks it. This is the law of identity in action – something is what it is, and recognizing the true nature of something vs. the façade with which a thing may externally present is crucial to protecting oneself.

The real Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:27, 5).

The counterfeit christs identified above are “strangers” that a born again believer will not follow and for good reason. The motivation behind Jesus’ and the New Testament writer’s concern over false prophets and counterfeit Christs is quite simple and terrifying.

A fake Jesus leads to a fake salvation, which leads, sadly, to a very real Hell.

[1] A. W. Tozer, “How to Avoid Serious Error” in That Incredible Christian (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications, 1964), pg. 50.

[7] Bruce Metzger, The New Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content (New York: Abingdon, 2003), pg. 95.

Robin Schumacher