Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mail Call #6: What can you tell me about Australian Prophecy Teacher David Asscherick?

Mail Call was always exciting on the TV show M*A*S*H
Occasionally I receive email or Facebook messages asking questions about various topics and issues within the faith. Here is a question I received recently about a phenomenally popular teacher Down Under, David Asscherick.

Though the United States has been a main culprit in exporting false doctrine and heightening the popularity of various kinds of teachers and charismatics, sadly, other areas of the globe have put up their fair share, too. David Prince out of Singapore and Angus Buchan out of South Africa come immediately to mind. Now from Australia comes American-turned-Australian David Asscherick. Asscherick is known for his teachings on prophecy, always a hugely interesting topic and one that seems to garner the biggest audiences. His popularity is also propelled by the fact that he had a rough beginning (as a punk rocker) loves to skateboard, is loud with an outsized personality, and offers a 'new kind' of approach. Asscherick is a hugely popular pastor packing the pews, or so this news article says.
His "God-given" ability to communicate the Christian message in a fresh way, minus religious jargon, has built him a large following. The 43-year-old's sermons are aired on TV and radio and his YouTube videos rack up tens of thousands of hits. He is a published author. ... He and his raucous punk-rocker friends started patronising a new vegan eatery that opened in their hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota. It was run by members of the SDA church, a denomination for whom health and a plant-based diet play a big role. 
We take a brief aside to read this from Wikipedia about Seventh Day Adventists' dietary restrictions:
Since the 1860s when the church began, wholeness and health have been an emphasis of the Adventist church. Adventists are known for presenting a "health message" that recommends vegetarianism and advocate adherence to the kosher laws in Leviticus 11. The observance of which means, abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other animals proscribed as "unclean". 
In Mark 7:19, Jesus declared all foods clean. In Acts 10:15, God gave the Peter a vision in which He declared that formerly unclean animals could now be eaten. When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24-26; Ephesians 2:15) which also includes the laws regarding clean and unclean foods. (Though if a brethren is weak in the faith we may restrict ourselves so as not to make him stumble, Romans 14:1-23).

Now back to the Australian news article about Asscherick:
Members of the Kingscliff Seventh Day Adventist Church at Phillip St, Chinderah, say the congregation has grown since Pastor David Asscherick's arrival. Katie Bonello, who has attended for four years, said: "He has a very energetic kind of contagious personality and he's able to really succinctly explain the gospel." The 30-year-old said the pastor was transparent about his life and not afraid of admitting to his mistakes. That included the collection of speeding tickets he's racked up since moving to Australia. David North from Limpinwood, who has attended the church for 11 years, said Pastor Asscherick had brought both a gift for speaking and for teaching. Pastor Asscherick says the congregation is now at 95% capacity...
Please be suspicious when it's the personality that is remarked about (and Asscherick's was in several of the articles I'd read). It is not the pastor's personality that should be a draw, but his "ability to teach". (2 Timothy 2:24).

I am going to be a realist and say from the start, that especially in this day and age, when you see a pastor or religious personality suddenly become hugely popular and their church or organization starts taking off like a rocket, in all likelihood it's cause to be suspicious. With the exceptions of Pentecost, the Reformation and perhaps the Awakenings, Christianity is not a mass-appeal religion that draws hordes and becomes popular in the world. Jesus said for us to watch out for that-

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

When I received my mail question, I was not familiar with Pastor Asscherick at all. So in order to research an answer to the reader's question, I plugged David Asscherick's name into Google. Whenever you are considering following a new teacher, sisters, do your diligence and research him or her first, please, looking into his background, origins, credentials, etc. That's discernment lesson #1. Then compare what he or she teaches to the Bible. Discernment lesson #2.

The first entry that came up from my search is that he currently pastors a Seventh Day Adventist church and his previous church was Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) also. So we ask, 'What does the SDA church believe? Is it a solid denomination, or even Christian at all?'

GotQuestions outlines SDA beliefs, here with an excerpt below. They are being generous in my opinion. CARM is stronger regarding the SDA.

In addition, we find that Pastor Asscherick is also for female ordination as pastors. In 2012, Spectrum Magazine, The Journal of the Association of Adventist Forums, remarked on a interview held with several religious leaders, Asscherick being one. In it, Asscherick reportedly said, according to Spectrum's transcript,
When it comes to the issue of women's ordination, I don't see anything in the New Testament that prohibits the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry. That what I'm looking for. If there was a plain text that said, 'do not do this.' Then we would find a prohibition and we would say 'no.'  ... And I personally am persuaded at this time, though I am open to all and any Biblical data, that there is nothing in the Bible that prohibits the ordination of women to any of the offices that could be occupied by a man. 
By his standard, we could say "I don't see anything in the New Testament that says God is three-in-one. If there was a plain text that said He is, then we'd be all set. But I don't." Now, isn't that a ridiculous approach to biblical interpretation?

As for female pastors, this scripture indicates the biblical stance is quite the opposite-

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (1 Timothy 2:11–12)

So immediately we see that there are three concerns with this pastor working in Australia.

1. Hugely and quickly popular
2. Seventh Day Adventist
3. Wrong interpretation of the scriptures regarding women's roles.

Continuing in research, Pr Asscherick is known for his work in teaching prophecy. He has a series of teaching videos, of which clips and some whole teaching are  available for free. It's always god in discernment work to actually watch, listen, or read their work. To that end, I watched several of his video teachings.

In his first video titled Discover Prophecy Asscherick outlines 4 reasons why his ministry goes to great trouble and expense to teach prophecy. Reason #1, he said, was they they believe the time of the end is near. "The world is coming apart at the seams", he said, & "that there is abundant evidence to show that."

Well, yes and no. The time has been near since Jesus ascended and was promised He would return. We have been in The End Time since the ascension. As for signs, the world has always been coming apart. There have always been war and rumors of war and earthquakes and signs. That is because of sin. The next prophetic event is the rapture, and that is signless because it does not depend on a sign but on a number (Romans 11:25) of when the church is complete. Only God knows that number.

So on the one hand I agree that the time does seem near in that sin seems to be deepening, but that was promised to us anyway and besides, we get closer every day anyway! On the other hand, using signs we see with our human eyes and interpreting via our finite minds them as omens of what God is doing is always fraught with danger, because simply, we are not God and we don't know the full extent of what He is doing.

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer... (Deuteronomy 18:10).

You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. (Leviticus 19:26).

When I was first saved I was entranced with signs. But the Lord in His grace grew me quickly out of that. My delight in prophecy remains, but the burden of trying to understand it through signs is gone. The upshot is, since I've been on both sides, I'm suspicious of sign-driven ministries.

Third, being SDA I'm abundantly cautious for the simple reason is that their religion is founded on FAILED prophecies by a prophetess, Ellen G. White. SDA members have always looked to prophecy and signs, and have always accepted extra-biblical revelation. Here is GotQuestions on the matter,

Here is a GotQuestions excerpt-
GOTQUESTIONS--Of serious concern among all SDA adherents is that they "should seriously consider the following: a recognized prophetess in their church was a teacher of aberrant doctrine, and their church has its roots in the failed prophecies of William Miller.But all Seventh-Day Adventists should seriously consider the following: a recognized prophetess in their church was a teacher of aberrant doctrine, and their church has its roots in the failed prophecies of William Miller. 
So, should a Christian attend a Seventh-day Adventist church? Due to the penchant of Adventists to accept extra-biblical revelation and the doctrinal issues mentioned above, we would strongly encourage believers to not get involved in Seventh-day Adventism. Yes, a person can be an advocate of Seventh-day Adventism and still be a believer. At the same time, there are enough potential risks to warn us against joining a Seventh-day Adventist church.
People like Asscherick, who spend the bulk of their ministry on prophetic signs, often have taken their eyes off Jesus and put them onto signs. I can't say for sure that Asscherick IS one of those, because I have not listened to a wide range of his work nor have I followed him for a period of time. I've just noticed that tends to be the pattern. Prophetic ministries rarely stay exclusively on the Word and often tie in signs to their outlook. But we know what the Bible says about signs. And, SDAs do not have the greatest track record with prophecies...as noted just above.

Of specific concern regarding Asscherick's ministry, is that in one of the Asscherick study guides of a lesson later on toward the end of the series, #16, Asscherick teaches the typical SDA doctrine of "soul sleep", that when we die we become unconscious until the resurrection. This is not true. (SDA also teaches annhilationism, not eternal torment). Here is Matt Slick at CARM explaining the SDA (and Jehovah's Witness) version of soul sleep.

His unorthodox and unbiblical views will stream throughout the prophetic lessons since prophecy directly deals with hell, judgment, torment/punishment, sin etc. Are you willing to stand on your discernment strength to parse when Asscherick is teaching wrongly and rightly? Because he DOES teach wrongly on at least one occasion I detected just in reading several of his study guides. There's bound to be more.

Prophecy is always a big draw. I love prophecy too and I'm glad people are so interested in it! Jesus confirmed its importance to us because His Spirit inspired nearly a fourth of the Bible AS prophecy. However, it seems near impossible to find a pastor or teacher teaching it well, and credibly.

I'd strongly advise that that the best way to learn the prophetic scriptures is NOT from people like Asscherick due to his misunderstanding of plain scriptures like the 1 Timothy or Leviticus food verses, not to mention his teaching of soul sleep. Learning about prophecy even as a stand-alone doctrine is also fraught with hazards. The best way to learn prophecy is the same as learning any other part of the word- in context. If you can find a credible Bible teacher going through a prophetic book of the Bible, that is best. Here are some recommendations-

I like James Montgomery Boice, he taught through all the prophets, including Daniel and Zechariah. Zechariah pound for pound has more end time prophecies than even Revelation, Boice's sermons are online & free.

The best book I've read on Revelation is MacArthur's Because the Time is Near, it's short, readable, and totally inspiring. It's also understandable. H.A. Ironside also has a good commentary on Revelation. S. Lewis Johnson also goes through the prophecies. He is online too, here, as is his successor to Believer's Chapel pastorate, Dan Duncan.

John MacArthur preached through every book of the New Testament, including Revelation and Thessalonians with the rapture verses, in context, which I liked. John Walvoord is considered premier on Bible prophecy as a credible scholar. Here is Walvoord's book The Nations in Prophecy, online.

If you enjoy prophecy, my recommendation is to abandon Asscherick and to find a good pastor online and go through the prophetic books in context with him (not her!)

SDG
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Further Reading:

Mail Call #5: My friend is following a false teacher

Mail Call #4: Why do some women discern false teachers and others accept false teachers?

Mail Call #3: Why can't people who follow false teachers bear to hear disagreement about them?

Mail Call #2: How can some good pastors be so off-track and not see doctrinal error in materials they use/promote?

Mail Call #1: Why don't they check against the Bible?


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