God’s Testimonies Versus Foolish Fables 

It is good to be inspired by testimonies of God miraculously working in people’s lives. Such testimonies are practical revelations of God’s character. But we must also be very careful when listening to or reading testimonies. Testimonies are often used in preaching and in books to give supposed credibility to various unbiblical teachings and practices. Among some Orthodox and Roman Catholic churchgoers, some testimonies about miracles became oral traditions which were used by the Devil to deceive later generations. I have heard some modern Protestant Charismatic and Pentecostal preachers use many testimonies of miracles which they claimed occurred previously in their own ministries in order to gain supposed credibility for their own unbiblical “whacko” teachings and their focus on emptying the wallets of their listeners.

Testimonies about miraculous events supporting unscriptural ideas are called fables. In the New Testament, the word “fable” is used in 1 Timothy 1:4, 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:14 and 2 Peter 1:16. In Greek, the word “fable” is “muthos” which means “a legendary story or account, normally about supernatural beings, events or cultural heroes, and in the New Testament always with an unfavourable connotation”. [1]

In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul prophesied a future time or times when many churchgoers would not like sound Biblical doctrine but would popularize certain teachers who would tell them what their selfish desires wanted to hear: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

But note Paul here also says these churchgoers would be turned aside to fables. In Greek, the expression “will be turned aside” is in the passive voice. The passive voice mean others – in this case the false teachers – will turn these churchgoers aside from sound Biblical doctrine to a focus on fables. In other words, Paul predicted by the Holy Spirit that in the future many churchgoers would focus on dramatic testimonies which are about supernatural beings like angels and miraculous events and which teach things contrary to the Scriptures.

Paul did not oppose casting out demons, angelic visitations, healings, miracles and revelations of the Holy Spirit. But he did oppose any testimony about these things which suggest anything contrary to the sound doctrines of the Word of God.

Most modern preachers of fables or miraculous testimonies which support unscriptural ideas and practices, make fun of those who emphasise the importance of sound Biblical doctrine. But note in 2 Timothy 4:3, Paul identifies such opposers of sound doctrines as false teachers.

In Titus 1:9, Paul emphasised the importance of church leaders preaching and teaching sound Biblical doctrine: “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” In 1 Timothy 4:6, Paul stated one of the qualities of being a good minister of Jesus Christ is following good doctrine: “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”

In Titus 1:14, Paul warned the Apostle Titus to not listen to Jewish testimonies about miraculous events and supernatural beings which suggest unbiblical ideas: “not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth.” Paul here links such fables with the teachings of man-made religious commandments. The history of the church records many examples of miraculous fables being used to support man-made religious laws.

In 2 Peter 1:16, Peter insists he and the other Apostles did not follow cleverly devised fables or false miraculous testimonies when preaching about Jesus Christ: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…”


Examples of unbiblical deceitful religious fables


Many religious fables aim to prove the supposed truth of various man-made teachings which are not mentioned in the Scriptures. For example in the Middle Ages, many religious authors invented various dramatic miraculous testimonies or wrote accounts of miracles which were not from God to frighten multitudes into following various unbiblical practices.

Below is an example of a “whacko” religious fable sent as a testimony to me: “My name is OLUBUMI… - I went for all night in…MINISTRIES. I went earlier than I was supposed. This was about 9.30 p.m. Then I decided to go and wait at a house nearby. A tree was at the front of the house and five big heads appeared. In fact, they were supernatural beings, their eyes shining as torch light. My body became weak and my penis vanished. That hour, I went to Bishop’s house and reported the matter…The service started around 11.30 p.m. It was 2.15 a.m. that Bishop layed his hands on my penis. I thank God that up to date my penis is moving. Jesus, you are a great healer.” The above is the type of ridiculous fables that even some born-again Christians are accepting at present.

Other religious fables aim to prove various false interpretations of verses of Scripture. For example, someone can give a testimony saying, “Last night God gave me a dream in which He revealed to me that it is impossible to be accepted into God’s presence in heaven unless we give His ministers very expensive gifts. He told me proof of this is that the wise men were only allowed into Jesus’ Presence after His birth because they bought gifts of such great value.” Such a fabled interpretation of Matthew 2:1-2 and 7-11 is a form of legalism by which eternal salvation is supposed to be partially merited by giving money. God said in Deuteronomy 10:17 that He never accepts bribes. Such bribes are money gifts which try to manipulate Him.


Gullibly believing a “Christianised” pagan fable or myth


An example of a major church leader accepting a “Christianised” pagan myth is found in the writing of the early church theologian Jerome called “The Life of Paulus the First Hermit”. Jerome records as supposedly true history the following fable about the founder of cenabitic monasticism, St Anthony. Jerome wrote that once when Anthony was going through the desert: “All at once he beholds a creature of mingled shape, half horse half man, called by the poets Hippo-centaur. At the sight of this he arms himself by making on his forehead the sign of salvation, and then exclaims, ‘Holloa! Where in these parts is a servant of God living?’ The monster after gnashing out some kind of outlandish utterance, in words broken rather than spoken through his bristling lips, at length finds a friendly mode of communication, and extending his right hand points out the way desired. Then with swift flight he crosses the spreading plain and vanishes from the sight of his wondering companion. But whether the devil took this shape to terrify him, or whether it be that the desert which is known to abound in monstrous animals engenders that kind of creature also, we cannot decide.” [2]

[1] Louw and Nida, page 390.

[2] Jerome, “The Life of Paulus the First Hermit”, Section 7.

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