"For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time." (Rev. 12:12)
North and South Korea give us a picture of Satan's attack on the church. In the North it is clearly Satan the persecutor. According to the Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian in North Korea who begins to share his faith with others has, on average, 3 months to live. Yet according to reports, believers are still sharing their faith and dying for it.
"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." (Rev. 12:11)
In contrast, South Korea is a society which has had revival and where Christianity has an influence on society and the government. There the devil comes as the serpent. When Satan cannot defeat the true church through trials, he tries it by deception, the same way he did it in Genesis 3, putting truth next to error.
Yonggi Cho's teaching on The Fourth Dimension is a good example of this. This is not to condemn Yonggi Cho or those who follow his teaching, but to put it simply The Fourth Dimension is a deception. Yonggi Cho has some good and valid teachings. From the start I want to make it clear that I am not against Yonggi Cho as an individual. He seems sincere and, unlike his fellow Word-Faith preachers, is not given over to greed. But like many other Evangelicals I can see the danger in his Fourth Dimension teaching. It is based on unbiblical premises and includes just enough truth to make it believable to Christians who read those kind of books rather than the Bible. Let's examine why this teaching is wrong.
False Premise Number One: Geometry & Pantheism
One of the fundamental characteristics of the God of the Bible is that He is transcendent from His creation. He existed before the world was created.
Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting,
You are God. (Psalm 90:2)
He is not subject to time and space as this physical world is. He is not subject to the curse as the whole of this universe is. Yonggi Cho's theology denies this and is thus heretical. Watch now as Cho lays truth along side error in order to deny the transcendence of God on Pages 26 and 27 of his book The Fourth Dimension.
Statement 1. In the universe there are three types of spiritsÃ‚Â "” the Holy Spirit of God, the spirit of theÃ‚Â devil and the human spirit. (pg. 26) (This is biblical.)
Statement 2. In geometry there are dots, lines and planes. "But if you add line upon line by the hundreds of thousands, then one dimension naturally creates a second dimension, a plane. And if you stack up planes one upon another it becomes cubic: this is called the third dimension." (pg. 27) (Allowable for the sake of argument).
Statement 3. This chaotic world belonged to the third dimension, but the Holy Spirit, who is pictured here incubating on the third dimension, belongs to the fourth dimension. So the spiritual kingdom of faith belongs to the fourth dimension. (pg. 27) (Unbiblical.)
At this point the argument should be rejected and also the rest of the book which is based upon this premise. This is in fact classical Pantheism. Remember, Yonggi Cho stated that the addition of lines "naturally creates a second dimension" and "if you stack planes...then it becomes...the third dimension".(pg. 27)Ã‚Â If the higher dimensions are "naturally created" or formed by adding up the lesser dimensions, and if the Spirit of God belongs to the fourth dimension, then that means spirits (including God) must be created by adding up the three dimensions. In other words, God is made up of the sum of the other dimensions. To say that God belongs to, is actually a part of, or is subject to the laws of dimensions is heresy. Full Stop.
Regardless of the fact that modern physics claims there are 10 dimensions, not just 4, (in fact the fourth dimension is universally regarded as "time") God is not a part of any of them. He created them. He existed before them. Pantheism claims that God is the sum total of all things. Christ was a lamb slain before the foundation of the earth.
Yonggi Cho actually breaks his logical argument and claims that God "creates, contains and controls the third dimension." (pg. 27) Prior to this, the argument from geometry shows that the higher dimensional areas and volumes are made up of the lower. Now he turns around and says that the fourth creates the third. He has contradicted himself in order to maintain God as the Creator, yet this in no way vindicates him or his argument because the rest of the book is based on the presumption that spirits, including God's Spirit, are inseparably connected to the physical world and therefore can be controlled according to its laws. I am sure Yonggi Cho would deny this pantheistic definition of God, but his teaching binds him to it and his theology is based upon this false idea. He even calls it a "central truth concerning the nature of faith's realm that we need to understand". (pg. 25).
What is even sadder to read, is that he claims God gave him this revelation.
Then God spoke to my heart....This is what the Holy spirit told me. (pg. 28)
The midrash on Genesis showing the Holy Spirit "hovering" over the waters and connecting it with Deuteronomy 32:11 is of great importance. God found His people in the ("tohu" "”Ã‚Â formless) wilderness.Ã‚Â The world in Genesis 1:2 was formless (tohu) and void at that time and the Holy Spirit was preparing to draw His people out of the "deep". God then separates the waters below the sky from the waters above the sky. This is a type ofÃ‚Â God's people, called "many waters" in Revelation 7 and 19, being separated from the the peoples in darkness. Ultimately it is fulfilled in the Rapture.
He sent from on high, He took me,
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. (Ps. 18:16-17; 2 Sam. 22:17)
Doctrine must be built upon clearly revealed Scripture, not revelations of geometry and allegory. There is no clear teaching regarding the "incubation" of prayers or dreams.
False Premise Number Two: Tapping Into God
Yonggi Cho's theology more closely resembles Star Wars than biblical truth. In Star Wars, which is based on Shamanism and the spiritual ideas of George Lucas, there is the good side of "the force" and the bad side of "the force". Yonggi Cho implies the same. Consider the following statements.
"It is also important to realize that the devil occupies an evil fourth dimension. God, however, is holy unique and almighty. The fourth dimension is always creating, giving order and carrying out dominion over the third dimension." (pg. 30)
"In the fourth dimension either good or evil is created." (pg. 32)
The devil creates nothing. It is Jesus, the Logos, who created all things and nothing that has been made has been made apart from him. (Jn. 1:3) Has God's name now become "the fourth dimension"? Yonggi Cho claims that when we see supposed miracles in Soukagakkai, etc. "we cannot simply put these things away as manifestations of the devil."
The idea portrayed in Yonggi Cho's book is that all people, good or bad, can tap into their fourth dimension and rule over the physical three dimensions if they simply know the laws. Some do it with the good Spirit of God, others do it with the evil spirit of the devil or their own evil "desperately wicked" spirit. The person of the Holy spirit has become a kind of "force" that can be used for good or evil. This is Star Wars.
"The Dark Side of the Force is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be"¦ Unnatural." Star Wars. Film: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith
Who: Senator Palpatine to Anakin Skywalker
The Yin Yang philosophy, as in the circular symbol on the Korean flag, describes the pagan concept of two complementary forces in the universe. Although Yonggi Cho ascribes that the Spirit of God is greater than the spirit of the devil, he is clearly influenced by this philosophy.
What Then Are Miracles?
Miracles are acts of God, or in a very few places, acts of an evil spirit allowed by God to fulfill His own purposes. We see this in Job 1 and 1 Kings 22:19-23. As a Pentecostal I believe in miracles, signs and wonders; they have their biblical place. But they do not come as "we tap into" the power of the fourth dimensionÃ‚Â "” they are sovereign acts of God.
Let us follow a simple teaching of miracles through the Scriptures.
"And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;Ã‚Â they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mk. 16:15-18)
In the context of going into all the world to preach the gospel, "He (the individual) who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he (the individual) who has disbelieved shall be condemned".
Then "he" (singular) changes to "those" (plural), that is, the group. These signs will accompany "those" who have believed. We ought to see miracles following the group of believers as the Gospel is preached throughout the world. This promise is for the church in all ages, as long as the Gospel is still going forth.
For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts ofÃ‚Â healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting ofÃ‚Â miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Co. 12:8-11)
Not according to Yonggi Cho.
Through Him you can have every type of ministryÃ‚Â "” the ministry of teaching, the ministry of evangelism, the ministry of missions, the ministry of pastoring, the ministry of divine healing. (pg. 66)
All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? (1 Co. 12:29-30)
This confirms Mark 16. The Holy Spirit divides various gifts among the group (the church) according to His will. Not every believer has gifts of healing, etc.
The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles. (2 Co. 12:12)
Notice that Paul defends his ministry by claiming that the signs of a true apostle were done by him.
If every believer could just tap into his fourth dimension to do miracles, then how can such be the signs of a true apostle? If any believer can learn to do these miracles by tapping into his fourth dimension, then the signs Paul spoke of would not be unique to an apostle but common. This passage would make no sense. The obvious truth is that not every believer does miracles; they are acts of God performed through certain believers according to the will of God.
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Ã‚Â Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; (James 5:13-14)
Any suffering believer is urged to pray. "Let him pray." Any rejoicing believer is urged to sing praises. We don't need someone else to do that for us. However, when it comes to the sick, then he must call for the elders of the church. Clearly we are not talking of a sore toe; these would be serious sicknesses to warrant calling for the elders. The point here is that if anyone can perform healings by tapping into the fourth dimension, then there should be no need to call for the elders.
So comparing Scripture with Scripture we get a clear picture of miracles.
1. The great signs and wonders accompany the group.
2. Not every believer does them; and
3. They are done as the gospel is preached in all the world as a testimony to the nations that the gospel is true.
4. In the context of the local church, James makes it clear that the gift of healing is associated with the elders.
We can always pray for healing for ourselves and others as we feel led, but we are not tapping into our fourth dimensionÃ‚Â "” we are asking God to do something that we can't do. There is no tapping into the fourth dimension. There are no formulas or arts about it. Yonggi Cho claims that when believers and unbelievers alike do miracles we simply use the same methods, the only difference being whether it was done by an evil spirit or God's spirit.
"I would say...influencing your circumstances" (pg. 29)
If biblical miracles are a sovereign act of God, they are not something which can be done at the will of the believer. Because Yonggi Cho is wrong in his theology of God's Spirit, he is also wrong in his theology of miracles and thus he is wrong in his understanding of lying signs and wonders.
Then the Holy spirit said to me...Moses did. (pg. 28-29)
The Holy Spirit certainly did not say that to Yonggi Cho, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. The real Holy Spirit said "Don't exceed the things that are written". (1 Co. 4:6) He brings back the work to our memory and reveals the Word to us. The Bible says nothing of "the fourth dimension".
God's power is not something that can be tapped and used by unbelievers. The Word-Faith Movement, with which Yonggie Cho has long been associated (although he doesn't seem to follow their excess greed) treats faith as a kind of force. Kenneth Copeland says, "Faith is a Force" and "God did not create the world out of nothing, He used the Force of His Faith."
This of course leads them to the error that "Christians can speak things into being". Yonggi Cho's teaching, with its laws of incubating faith, follows this unbiblical line of thinking. He takes it further however, when he says that unbelievers can do it too if they just know the method. God's holiness is undermined when we suppose we may use his power without regard for Him. The lying signs and wonders are just that: lies.
Dreams, Visions & Imaginations
The second main error in Yonggi Cho's Fourth Dimension teachings are are his ideas of imagination and visualization.
As we look at the word "imagination" in the NASB we find it appears twice.
A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
And like a high wall in his own imagination. (Prov. 18:11)
Thus says the LORD of hosts,
"Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.
They are leading you into futility;
They speak a vision of their own imagination,
Not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jer. 23:16)
In both cases it speaks of a delusion: the delusion of trusting in riches and the delusion of the false prophets who prophesy what is in their minds rather than God's word.
Let's try "imaginations"; it appears once.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
The garment of violence covers them.
Their eye bulges from fatness;
The imaginations of their heart run riot.
They mock and wickedly speak of oppression;
They speak from on high. (Ps. 73:6-8)
Along with this is the classic passage in Jeremiah 17:9...
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
A simple search of how the Bible deals with imaginations reveals that it is hardly something to be trusted. Yet Yonggi Cho claims:
"Until you see your husband clearly in your imagination you can't order because God will never answer. You must see him clearly before you begin to pray. God never answers vague prayers." (pg. 11)
Visions and dreams are the language of the fourth dimension, and the Holy Spirit communicates through them. Only through a vision and a dream can you visualize and dream bigger churches. You can visualize a new mission field. You can visualize the increase of your church. Through visualizing and dreaming your can incubate your future and hatch the results. (pg. 31-32)
It sounds great to itching ears. All you have to do is make a clear image in your mind, and then by using the "laws of faith" you can "order" what you want and God will give it to you. He then goes on to say how he imagined a church of thousands and it came to reality.
Actually, the Holy Spirit communicates to us through the Word. (Heb. 1:1; Jn. 14:26)
Through envisioning and dreaming we can kick away the wall of limitations and can stretch out to the universe. That is the reason God's Word says "Where there is no vision the people perish". If you have no vision you are not being creative; and if you stop being creative then you are going to perish. (pg. 31)
Yonggi Cho seems to forget that Jesus put a big limitation on prayer and what we can doÃ‚Â "” it is something called "God's will".
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. (1 Jn. 5:14)
Where there is no vision the people perish? The word used for "vision" here is "chazon". It is not the kind of vision you imagine in your mindÃ‚Â "” that would be "maskit". Chazon means "revelation". Where there is no revelation the people perish. Revelation comes to us through the Word. (Heb. 1:1) It no longer comes as it did in former times in various ways, etc. Where there is no understanding of the Word, the people perish. What does the Word really say?
Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.
But blessed is he who keeps the law. (Prov. 29:18)
The verse clearly says that having a vision is associated with keeping Scripture. Any real vision will be founded on Scripture. It is not something that we "create in our minds". It contrasts "not having vision" with keeping the Law. Those with no revelation cast off restraint, but the blessed person keeps the Word of God. That is the sense of the verse which has its equivalent in 2 Corinthians 12:1, "I will go on to visions and revelations". The Greek word for "revelation" here is "apokalupsis"Ã‚Â "” something that is hidden and must be unveiled; the true understanding of revelation.
Yonggi Cho says that visions help us "kick away all the walls of limitations". The Bible says without revelation we cast off restraint. Yonggi Cho's vision is not the biblical chazon, a revelation through the Word, but something they "create"in their mind.
If you have no vision you are not being creative. (pg. 31)
And the LORD said to me: "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. (Jer 14:4)
Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.( Jer. 23:16)
Cho and Rick Warren recently had breakfast together. In response to Rick's question concerning his ministry, Cho replied, "As a minister, you should know that prayer is the foundation of church growth and revival. [Y]ou should have visions and dreams because [these] are the vessels through which God works." [Editor's Note: This quote originally found at http://pastors.com/articles/ChoInterview.asp but no longer viewable on the web.]
"We should always try to visualize the end result as we pray [or] it cannot become a reality. Through visualizing and dreaming, you can incubate your future and hatch the results. (pg.Ã‚Â 48)
If only the apostles had understood this they could have imagined that Nero would disappear. Paul could have visualized many people getting saved in Athens rather than wasting his time preaching the Gospel so that just "a few were saved". The modern charismatic teaching on visualization is foreign to the Bible.
Yonggie Cho writes, "I claim that I could build a church which has more than 10,000 members in the states, as well as Germany or in Tokyo". (pg. 20)
Well Mr. Cho, that was 1979, more than 30 years ago. Couldn't even one of your hundreds of thousands of disciples make the short trip to Japan and put your teaching into practice?
"Those members are inside of me, growing, and as the vision grows inside of me, the same is growing outside." (pg. 18)
The example of Joseph gives us a biblical view of prayer. Yes, Joseph was given a dream, but it was hardly his goal to reign over his brothers and parents. As he continued faithful to God, things went from bad to worse as he was rejected by his brothers, sold as a slave, taken to Egypt, sent to prison. There is no conceivable way that Joseph imagined these things or brought them to pass through the fourth dimensional laws; he just remained faithful to God. At the end of his life he could look back and see God's hand in it all. He could see that the suffering was necessary. He could see that even the betrayal by his brothers was God's way of bringing about the salvation of his family.
Paul's desire was to preach to the Jews yet God sent him to the Gentiles. God knows what we need. Yes we may pray specific prayers, we should learn God's ways through studying His Word so that in time we will begin to understand His will to the extent that we may pray His will confidently, but even then our imagination remains a part of the soul and until the resurrection we are fallen creatures. The Word-Faith Movement, including Yonggi Cho, raises man to the level of God.
Finally I would like to conclude with Robert Schuller who wrote the forward to Yonggie Cho's book. He says, and Yonngi proudly displays it on his book, "Don't try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it. It's true. It works. I tried it." This is typical of Word-Faith theology, to base doctrine on experience rather than on the Word of God. "Don't try to understand it...just try it".
At the time of writing this article, Robert Schuller's "Crystal Cathedral Megachurch" is in debt for a staggering 55 million dollars. (See the related article here.) Robert Schuller, along with Yonggie Cho, is famous for his consistent teaching on positive confession and the power of positive thinking. There could hardly be a church in the world which has heard more teaching on visualization and positive confession. Why didn't they visualize themselves out of debt before the name of Christ was disgraced on the news by their public bankruptcy and pleas to the public? Why did they go into such debt in the first place?Ã‚Â Why? It is simple. Their theology is built upon sand rather than the rock of Christ's teaching. It is man's opinions, man's experience. Even worse, it is man's imagination.
Thus says the LORD of hosts,
"Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you.
They are leading you into futility;
They speak a vision of their own imagination,
Not from the mouth of the LORD. (Jer. 23:16)
"I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, 'I had a dream, I had a dream!' How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart,Ã‚Â who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?" declares the LORD. (Jer. 23:25-28)