I have stated on this blog and on my YouTube video that I use to be a student of Shepherd's Chapel. It was commented on YouTube and posts on this blog that I am a liar and was never a student of Shepherd's Chapel.
So here is my history:
In the late 1980's my Grandfather, a Baptist preacher for many years, stumbled across Shepherd's Chapel on his old C-band satellite dish (I was quite young at the time). As he listened and studied with Shepherd's Chapel he slowly changed his doctrines to align with the teachings of Arnold Murray. My Grandfather started sending my parents some of Shepherd's Chapel's tapes and trying to explain to us the truths that Murray was teaching. Then a few years later, when I was at about the age of 11 or 12, we started doing weekly Bible studies at my Grandfather's house. This was my first real contact with any Christian teaching. Unfortunately, by this time, my Grandfather's beliefs had changed to closely align with Shepherd's Chapel. My Dad, Mom, Brother, and I became convinced that Shepherd's Chapel was teaching the truth and we started following Arnold Murray's teachings.
A few years later, when I was about 14 or 15, my Dad purchased a C-band satellite dish (the big dish). I was able to watch Pastor Murray anytime I wanted (they have a 24-7 channel on C-band). I watched Shepherd's Chapel as much as I could for the next few years and learned most of the specifics of Murray's teachings during that time. At around the age of 18 I got one of my best friends involved with Shepherd's Chapel's teachings. We started handing out tracts, having Bible studies, and trying to spread the doctrines of Shepherd's Chapel any way we could. I was extremely passionate about my beliefs during this time and even went to three Passover meetings (annual meetings they hold usually in Branson, MO around Easter time). I was a fairly avid poster on some unofficial Shepherd's Chapel forums and tried to defend my beliefs with people on the internet (chat rooms, forums, websites, etc.).
During that time I displayed a lot of the same behavior that is common with Shepherd's Chapel students. I could be quite harsh with anybody that challenged my beliefs and I ridiculed Churches and people that I thought were deceived by Satan and his Kenites.
In 2008 I got married and tried to slowly introduce my wife to the doctrines taught by Shepherd's Chapel. Fortunate for me she was stubborn and would not give on much so I didn't try to push it too hard on her. I figured I would just plant the seeds and hope for the best. Around 2009 is when I started to have some doubts about certain doctrines (especially election) taught by Shepherd's Chapel but I suppressed those doubts as best I could. Then the Lord blessed me with a good job in 2010 that allowed me some time to do more Bible studies and reading. I made a conscious effort to read the Bible without listening to Murray or anybody; I was having some doubts and didn't want anybody influencing my studies. I read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament several times over the course of a year. I took Murray's advice and "checked him out" and I found that several of his doctrines were far from Biblical.
By February of 2011 (I was 32 at the time) I had totally rejected Shepherd's Chapel's false doctrines. That would put me at 20+ years of knowledge of their doctrines and teachings. God opened my eyes to the false teachings of Arnold Murray and I was convinced of Reformed Theology though my personal Bible studies. I am a member of a Bible believing and teaching local Church, Hanson Baptist Church (and yes, they teach verse-by-verse).
I renounce Shepherd's Chapel as a heretical cult that is outside the scope of Christianity!
Here is a list of just some of the heretical and unorthodox teachings of Shepherd's Chapel:
- They teach we existed before we were born in the flesh and there was a first earth age that we all lived in. They teach the Gap Theory. Zechariah 12:1 and 1 Cor. 15:46 refute preexistence and the gap theory cannot be supported with sound Hebrew exegesis. (See here and here.)
- Satan rebelled in that first earth age and God destroyed it. This destruction is known in the New Testament by the Greek word katabole. (See this post for a refutation.)
- They teach that there were a people on earth before Adam was created. These pre-adamic people are call the 6th day people and comprised different races. White people were created separately on the 8th day. However, if you read Genesis it is clear that chapter 2 is going back to describe the creation of man in chapter 1. We read in Genesis 2:4 the statement "when they were created" showing that what follows is describing the events of the previous chapter thus refuting a separate creation event. (See also here.)
- The elect where chosen because they stood against Satan in the first earth age. This is a type of justification by works and is a serious Gospel destroying heresy. The elect where chosen not based on any works but on God's sovereign and free choice (Romans 9). A simple reading of Romans 8 will show that the elect are all Christians and we were not chosen based on works performed. (See also Romans 9:16, Ephesians 2:8-10, 2nd Timothy 1:9.)
- Satan had literal sex with Eve and Cain was the offspring of Satan and Eve. This is called the Serpent Seed doctrine. A simple reading of Genesis 4:1 with refute this claim. Cain is the offspring of Adam. (See my post here and here.)
- Cain's decedents are called Kenites and they are still alive today claiming to be Jews and controlling the world behind the scenes. This is a scare tactic and breeds racism. (See this post for a refutation.)
- Kenites wrote the book of Esther. They won't teach the book of Esther on the air, you have to order the CD's from them. Why hide this teaching? Because it is a blatant denial of Holy Scripture. (Revelation 22:19, Deut. 4:2; 12:32.)
- Caucasians are the true descendants of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. There is no scriptural or historical support for this assertion. This doctrine stems from the British Israelism / Christian Identity heresy which has close ties to racist groups. Shepherd's Chapel does not out-right teach racism but many of their doctrines have stemmed from, and tend to breed, racism.
- Christians that believe in the Pre-tribulation Rapture will be deceived by the Antichrist. The Bible, to the contrary, teaches in Revelation 13:8 and Matt. 24:22 and John 10:28-29 that Christians can not be deceived by the Antichrist or his system.
- The Antichrist is Satan himself and not a man. Scripture, however, distinguishes between the man of sin and Satan in 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2. Also Revelation shows the Devil as separate from the False Prophet and the Beast. (See also Daniel chapters 9-11.)
- They teach Annihilationism. In other words, the denial of eternal conscious torment in hell. Matt. 25:46, Rev. 14:9-11 and many others refute this. (See also this post for a refutation.)
- They are unclear as to the Trinity and teach modalism (God uses three offices not that God is three persons). I've heard Pastor Murray say "a smart man doesn't discuss the Trinity". They leave it ambiguous, but Shepherd's Chapel's teachings are clearly modalistic and thus heretical. Wrong God, wrong Gospel!
- Christians must uphold the kosher food laws. (Romans 14:17, 1st Timothy 4:3-4, Mark 7:19 refute this claim).
- We are in the end-times because in 1948 the good and bad figs returned and created the state of Israel. They claim the bad figs of Jeremiah 24 are Kenites. (See this post for a refutation). Scripture makes it clear that the last days began in the first century. Hebrews 1:1-2, Acts 2:17. In other words, the last days is the time between Christ's first advent and second advent.
- If your church doesn't teach who the Kenites are they are not a true church and don't posses the Key of David. They try to use Smyrna and Philadelphia from Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 to try and prove that, but only a false hermeneutic and presupposition would lead to such a statement. Romans 2:28-29 shows that a true Jew is a one that is inwardly a Jew, in other words a Christian. (see this post.)
- They teach there is a distinction between free will Christians and elect Christian. There is, however, no scriptural support for this position. Romans 8 and Ephesians 1 disproves this heresy. All Christians are elect and all elect are Christians. The Bible doe not teach there is a group called free-will Christians that are different from elect Christians.
Why is Shepherd's Chapel dangerous? Nowhere in Scripture does it teach that the elect where chosen in a first earth age, that a Christian gained elect status because they sided with God in that first earth age. To teach that you are elect because of something you did is heretical and against everything written in the New Testament. I have heard Pastor Murray, when teaching through Romans 8, say the elect where justified, elected and chosen because they stood with God in the first earth age. In other words the elect where justified (saved) in the first earth age because of something they did. This is essentially justification by works which the Bible strongly condemns (Ephesians 2:8-10). There is no distinction anywhere in the Bible where there are separate elect Christians apart from other Christians. All true Christians are elect, once a person realizes that simple truth the whole Shepherd's Chapel system of doctrine falls apart. That is what started my journey out of Shepherd's Chapel and I pray that if you are lost in this cult that you consider the ramifications of your doctrines.
Consider this: the doctrines they teach were not taught by Christ, Paul, or any of the Apostles. Their doctrines are not found in any early church writings and were never taught by the Christian church. Would God wait until some man in Arkansas almost 2000 years after Christ to reveal the truth (this is similar to what Mormons teach concerning Joseph Smith)? When the Scripture they use to support their doctrines are closely examined it shows they are clearly mishandling the Word of God. In fact their whole system of belief falls apart under close scrutiny.
Shepherd's Chapel denies the Trinity even though they may claim they don't. Like most cults they redefine terms to fit their heretical views. The simple fact is that Shepherd's Chapel does not teach that the one true and living God has eternally existed as three co-equal, co-eternal persons (for more on the Trinity see this video).
Shepherd's Chapel teaches a false gospel and false gospels cannot save! Take seriously Paul's words in Galatians 1:9: As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)
*Originally posted 2/01/12, updated and expanded 10/03/2014