I am far from a heresy hunter but a question that I keep getting is about my former pastor, Brian Zahnd. It is well known and by his own admission, that his theology has radical changed. In some ways, if he pulled an Ulf Ekman and turned Word of Life into a Catholic Cathedral, I wouldn’t be surprised.
It is kinda surprising as Brian, while self-taught, had a strong emphasis on the Word and he build his ministry on faith. He would tell everyone that God told him to preach faith and the church would grow. He would always say he knew two things: preach the faith message and do altar calls. I have watched some recent services from Word of Life and I can’t say he is doing either, anymore.
I still like Brian Zahnd and I am still a friend on Facebook and I follow him on Twitter. I wish nothing but the best for the guy. I had some sharp disagreement with some of his teachings back then (and still do.) An example would be the man of God teaching that was so common in those days. All in all, most of his teaching was standard Word of Faith doctrine…. much of which that I subscribe to as well.
Brian Zahnd and Catholic theology
I remember it well. I was in the service sitting where I always did. Zahnd stood and told how he was sitting on his porth reading a book called The Confessions of St. Augustine. It is the writings of a Catholic monk from the forth century. I was younger then and did not think alot of it. I just figured it was adding a new layer to the message of Faith that Brian Zahnd build his ministry on.
I know that Jason Upton suggested the book. Jason is a pretty solid guy that loves Church History and is a prophetic guy by nature. I met Jason back in 2000 during The Call DC that was being organized by Che Ahn and Lou Engle. Jason is a cool guy but he loved the desert fathers alot.
Brian ended up slowly getting deeper and deeper into Catholicism. I watched from afar his ideas radical change. His theological statement would read very different today than it is 10 years ago. I am not sure if half of it would even be in tact. What was a detailed doctrine statement has been replaced by the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. The issue with that is that if leaves more questions than answers. What is his current Estacalogy, Pneumatology, and Christology to name a few.
As I see it, he has stepped right in to the Joseph Prince from Singapore is preaching among others like John Crowder, D.R. Silva, Paul Ellis, and Jeremy White. This heresy (that is exactly what it is) has been publicly rebuked many times and is the subject of Dr. Micheal L. Brown called Hyper Grace. I suggest any believer wanting to understand grace read it.
Pacfism and Brian Zahnd
I have touched on this before when I wrote Brian Zahnd and Gospel of Peace. While this is not a huge issue, it is a departure from where Zahnd stood for a very long time and I have to ask why the complete change. He used to celebrate the 4th of July with about an American as you could get. He encouraged everyone to love God, love the people and love America.
I remember a friend took me to church one day. He was considering stealing a car so he could go back to prison. That was his desire. He came into the church only to use the restroom and saw a huge banner that read, “It’s time for war.” in the sanctuary. He wanted to stay to find out what a preacher would say about war. He gave his life to Jesus in that service.
Somewhere along the line, he changed and started condemning the use of the military for the United States and leaving the impression that war as a tool was demonic and the Pentegon was a vessel of satan.
What I do know is my last discussion with him online was about the atomic bomb dropped in Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. I will include it here.
There was a time that I would have never had that discussion with Brian. As someone that has lived (and currently living) in the Philippines, I have seen and heard the scars of the second World War. I believe that General Douglas MacArthur made the right call to put the final nail in the coffin to make sure the Japanese did not regroup and attack the Philippines again.
In many ways, Brian Zahnd has become much more pacifist that many to the degree that he wrote a book about it. To be fair, I have not read the book and probably wont. I like Brian but I know we will disagree on this subject.
So Is Zahnd a heretic?
I can’t say. I do not even know what he really believes anymore. I do know some of his soteriology is interesting. (I am being gracious here) I do know he has departed from Pentecostal thinking and he proclaimed that he was packing his bags and leaving the Charismatic movement. When he did that, many packed up their bible and left Brian Zahnd’s church as well.
Leaving Pentecostal theology and the Charismatic movement does not make you a heretic. What is unclear is beside soteriology, where he stands currently on the other core values of the Christian Faith. I know that Dr. Micheal L. Brown tried to get them out of him at a debate at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
My advice to anyone listening to a teacher that a doctrinal statement is unclear would be make sure you have along your Bible, a Strong’s Concordance and a book on Systematic Theology. Be a Berean. Check what he is saying is true in the gospel and by reading up on scholars like Stanley Horton has said about it.
For those interested, this is an older clip of him preaching when I believe he was more solid doctrinally.