Friday, February 08, 2013

Dangers in Samaritan Ministries


I cannot say that I am excited about writing this blog post.  I am a member of Samaritan Ministries, and I think it is definitely superior to traditional health insurance.  I would recommend that Christians with traditional insurance seriously consider switching to Samaritan or some similar health-sharing ministry instead.  What I am going to say below does not change what I have written in this paragraph.  I think the fundamental idea underlying Christian health-sharing is wonderful and am very supportive of it.

With that said, there are very clear spiritual dangers in Samaritan Ministries that believers need to be aware of.  I have noticed these types of things for some time, have contacted Samaritan about a variety of them on various occasions, but have not noticed any improvement.  These things are dishonoring to the Lord and grievous to my soul.  Dangers in Samaritan—all of the following illustrated in their latest Christian HealthCare newsletter (February 2013)—include the following:

1.)   Ecumenicalism and the promotion of false teachers.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is glorified on pgs. 10-11 of the Newsletter.  A book promoting him as a “prophet” and a “martyr” is likewise promoted.  The following facts about him are entirely skipped over:

1.     He denied the verbal-plenary inspiration of Scripture, believing that the Bible is only a “witness” to the Word of God and becomes the Word of God only when it “speaks” to an individual; otherwise, it was simply the word of man (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 9, 104; Sanctorum Communio, p. 161). 2. He denied the biblical God, believing that the concept of God as a “supreme Being, absolute in power and goodness,” is a “spurious conception of transcendence,” and that “God as a working hypothesis in morals, politics, and science ... should be dropped, or as far as possible eliminated” (Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 122, 164, 360). 3. He questioned the Virgin Birth (The Cost of Discipleship, p. 215). 4. He denied the deity of Christ, advocating that “Jesus Christ Today” is not a real person and being, but a “corporate presence” (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 75-76; Christ the Center, p. 58). 5. He denied the sinlessness of Christ's human nature and further questioned the sinlessness of His earthly behavior (Christ the Center, pp. 108-109). 6. He denied the physical resurrection of Christ, believing that the bodily resurrection is in “the realm of ambiguity,” and that it was one of the “mythological” elements of Christianity that “must be interpreted in such a way as not to make religion a pre-condition of faith.” He also believed that such things as miracles and the ascension of Christ are “mythological conceptions” (Christ the Center, p. 112; Letters and Papers from Prison, S.C.M. Press edition, Great Britain: Fontana Books, 1953, pp. 93-94, 110). 7. He believed that Christ is not the only way to God (Testimony to Freedom, pp. 55-56). 8. He was an evolutionist (No Rusty Swords, p. 143) and believed that the book of Genesis is scientifically naive and full of myths (Creation and Fall: A Theological Interpretation of Genesis 1-3). 9. He adhered to neo-orthodox theology and terminology concerning salvation (Testimony to Freedom, p. 130), was a sacramentalist (Life Together, p. 122; The Way to Freedom, pp. 115, 153), believed in regenerational infant baptism (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, pp. 142-143) as well as adult baptismal regeneration (The Way to Freedom, p. 151), equated church membership with salvation (The Way to Freedom, p. 93), and denied a personal/individualistic salvation (Letters and Papers from Prison, Macmillan, p. 156). Dr. G. Archer Weniger declared, “If there is wholesome food in a garbage can, then one can find some good things in Bonhoeffer, but if it be dangerous to expect to find nourishment in a garbage can, then Bonhoeffer must be totally rejected and repudiated as blasphemy. It is worse than garbage” (FBF Information Bulletin, May 1977, p. 12). (copied from here)

The newsletter also promotes the “National Center for Family-Integrated Churches” on pgs. 4-5.  This organization is filled with very serious false doctrines (see here.).  Vision Forum is also promoted on pgs. 4-5, despite the false gospel taught by Vision Forum, including baptismal regeneration (here and other material with a false gospel (cf. here).  You can expect to have heretics and unconverted spiritual wolves promoted in issues of the Samaritan newsletter. This is a consequence of the fact that the organization is by no means restricted to separatist Baptist churches, or even Christian fundamentalists, but includes a section of Christendom much wider than the Lord’s church.  Vast numbers of people in Christendom who are blown about with all kinds of winds of doctrine, and many who are themselves unconverted, are members of Samaritan.  If you are a Samaritan member, I would suggest giving out the gospel with your monthly check and letter of encouragement—you cannot assume the person whose need you are assisting is himself truly converted, and you certainly cannot assume that he is part of a true church.  I typically refer the person to my evangelistic and Christian website(s) (here; or here; or here).

2.)   New Age “Medicine” and Quackery

You should expect, not only the promotion of false teachers, but also the promotion of all kinds of New Age medicine and simple quack nonsense in the Samaritan newsletter, influencing the impressionable for evil among the people of God.  I have never read an issue of the Samaritan newsletter that warns against any New Age or quack therapy or promotes scientific medicine or the Biblical practice of the scientific method over quackery or the New Age.  Sometimes issues do not promote any treatments at all—those are a relief. Whenever something is promoted, medical science seems to be out in the cold, and quackery is in.  The February issue is, unfortunately, no exception in its promotion of New Age “medicine” and quackery.  For example, on pgs. 8-9 a book is promoted by a lady who discovered what herbs would heal her child by praying that God would teach her and make her child hungry for whatever foods would help him most.  God answers prayer, but would you want to fly in a plane if you were told, “This plane has not been rigorously tested as to whether it will fly or not based on the laws of gravity, etc.; however, we have prayed that God would help us design it in such a way that it will fly”?  God has designed the world so that we can subdue and have dominion over it by rigorous testing of evidence—that is, the scientific method, which this lady did not pursue. Nevertheless, the idea that she discovered herbs that cure malaria and heal liver damage because of an e-mail testimony from some people in Uganda (pg. 9) is mentioned.  Real science does not rely on testimonials—it employs placebo-controlled trials.  Testimonials can “prove” absolutely anything.  The lady ended up starting a quack herbal supplement company and writing a book promoted in the Samaritan Ministries newsletter.  Her company, Mountain Meadow Herbs, also promotes people such as the New Age quack Hulda Clark (here), advocate of the New Age practice of bio-energetic testing (see the expose of New Age energy medicine here.).  Clark also claimed to be able to cure all cancer in five days and that one should stop radiation, chemo, etc. because she had the cure for all cancer; see: here.  She led many to an early death until she herself died of cancer in 2009, but she continues to be promoted by organizations such as Mountain Meadow Herbs.  It is extremely dangerous for someone who has cancer to be influenced by such garbage as was promoted by Mrs. Clark—but Samaritan Ministries promotes her advocates.  Indeed, on pg. 6 of their newsletter a special diet is mentioned that has “success . . . in treating epilepsy . . . diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and autism.”  Do you want to commit unintentional suicide, or encourage a fellow believer to die early?  Then listen to Samaritan Ministries and think that adopting a faddish diet will cure your cancer.

I wish I could say that the February issue was the only one promoting the New Age and quackery, but it is not so.  The January issue spoke about a conspiracy to cover up the "truth" that "all root canals are infected" (pg. 9) and recommended the quack practice of biological dentistry.  Furthermore, Samaritan has just elected to its board a gentleman who owns a health-food store that promotes quackery, even what is really the ultimate in quack nonsense and also a plain-as-day New Age error, homeopathy;  see here and here for the promotion of homeopathy at their health-food store;  the book Homeopathic Medicine at Home is listed under "Great Books" in their store here.  Much more, unfortunately, could be said.

Following the pseudo-medical nonsense advocated in the Samaritan newsletter can bring you under the chastisement of God for fellowship with the demons dancing with the New Age.  You might also die young.  You are almost certain to be a bad steward and throw away the Lord’s money on junk, as well as filling your head with falsehoods.  It is most unfortunate that Samaritan promotes the anti-Christ New Age movement and quackery in this fashion.  I think the fundamental idea of Christian health-sharing is wonderful, and Samaritan is superior to medical insurance that funds abortion, etc.  However, you should reject the false teachers, the New Age junk, and the quackery promoted in its newsletter.  Anyone who is part of Samaritan ministries should be warned about these extremely dangerous errors, so that they are not led astray from the truth, do not dishonor God by accepting New Age lies, do not die young, and do not waste the financial resources with which God has entrusted them.

Some reliable resources exposing New Age medicine and quackery are here.

If you are a member of Samaritan Ministries, and you are opposed to the New Age, quackery, and the promotion of false teachers, I would encourage you to politely contact them here.  I do not believe that they are deliberately promoting misinformation or assisting the devil with the promotion of the New Age but are doing it unintentionally.  Please show them the respect due to professing Christians, those who profess to be adopted by God the Father through Jesus Christ by the Spirit.  Please also consider letting others you know who are members of Samaritan about these issues with the ministry.

Dangers in Samaritan Ministries Part 2   Part 3

-TDR

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is Obamacare going to make this kind of "insurance" illegal?

KJB1611 said...

No, it will not. By the mercy of God, an exemption was put in the Obamacare individual mandate; health sharing ministries count.

Indeed, this exemption could destroy Obamacare if enough people joined health sharing ministries. If, say, the Roman Catholics made their own one, and got out of traditional insurance, and other people followed, etc., a real free market in health care with real competition could arise, and costs could go down.

Anonymous said...

I am looking at this type of "insurance". Do you know how Samaritans compares with Medi-share?

Brian

Anonymous said...

I am looking into this type of "insurance". Do you know how Samaritans compares with medi-share?

Brian

KJB1611 said...

Dear Brian,

I don't have enough information about Medi-Share to know how they compare.

KJB1611 said...

I am pleased to report that, while quackery is still promoted in the Samaritan newsletter, the most recent issue of August 2013 warns about certain New Age practices, such as Chi. I am thankful for this change for the better.

Anonymous said...

You have smeared an organization whose leaders I have known personally for a long time. Furthermore, you have misrepresented Bonhoffer's theology.

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Anonymous,

Please prove the "smear" and "misrepresentation." Simply stating it does not make it so. If you cannot prove it, then you are smearing me.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

This may be a very old thread, but i was disturbed by some of your assumptions, I am a samaritan member, have been for years and was greatly blessed by them. Some of what you assert as quackery literally saved my life by the leading and grace of God. God also designed the natural world for our benefit and things like "herbs" and other such quackery as you seem to think have been helping his creation since longer than modern western medicine and science has been around. I have had extensive dealings with the established medical system and was helped by some, but seriously hindered by some as well. You obviously don't know how the FDA works these days if you put your trust in it. It is a giant money system and many former drug company high ups go on to work with the FDA and approve medicines and methods that help their previous employers, look up Donald Rumsfeld and approval of aspartame for one example. I would suggest you have simply put your faith in something just as false as some of the legitimate quacks out there, God can and will lead us to truth if we seek it, It, lies and falsehoods exist in both the established medical system as well as the "Alternative" world of medicine.

Blessings, Caleb

KJB1611 said...

Dear Caleb,

It is hard to respond specifically to what you said since you did not tell me specifically what you think was false in my post, nor provide any specific evidence. The fact is that the dominion mandate in Genesis 1 to subdue and have dominion over the earth has as its necessary consequence the scientific method of evaluating things. Quack "medicine" cannot pass things like randomized, placebo-controlled trials and it is a violation of the principles of Genesis 1. It is not a matter of supposedly putting my trust in the FDA, but a matter of believing that in the world God made one can follow scientific tests and the laws He has put in the natural order instead of rejecting science and trusting in things like unverifiable mystical energy fields like chi or in conspiracy theories that have as much going for them as Santa Claus.

Eating healthful vegetables is of course good for you, but that is totally different than quack and pagan herbalist ideas. Please see the study on herbalism at http://faithsaves.net/unconventional-and-new-age-medicine/.

I am thankful that you are alive, but you cannot in any way prove that quack "medicine" that does not work saved your life. The way God leads us into truth in the natural world is through rigorous testing of what works, not through testimonials, good feelings, post hoc ergo hoc arguments, etc. Quack medicine cannot pass those rigorous tests that scientific medicine can and must pass before it is used.

I would encourage you to consider taking the course "Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths: What We Think We Know May Be Hurting Us," by Dr. Steven Novella of the Yale School of Medicine, here:

http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/medical-myths-lies-and-half-truths-what-we-think-we-know-may-be-hurting-us.html


Thanks for the comment.

DJLion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJLion said...

You say that homeopathy is quackery. Homeopathy is simply the creative use of natural substances found in nature to help aid our bodies in healing, and when not in sickness, to promote better health. I'm bewildered that, as a Christian, you brazenly deny this validated area of medicine.

In 1 Timothy 4:4, it says "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving" and in Genesis 1:31 "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."

To believe that man-made substances are superior in comparison to what God has given us in nature is stupid at least, and dangerously close to being anti-Biblical at worst. You definitely show a lack of faith in God has provided us with, and I hope that God works in your life to show you how effective natural substances are for curing many different diseases.

KJB1611 said...

Dear DJ Lion,

The "natural substances" in homeopathic remedies are water. There is not a single molecule of anything else in a typical bottle of a homeopathic "cure."

Yes, I give thanks when I drink water. It is good, 1 Tim 4:4. I drink water every day. But I don't think that water cures tuberculosis, cancer, etc.

If everything in nature is good, then I assume that radon, uranium, poisonous mushrooms, etc. are good for us also as long as they occur in nature, and thinking otherwise must be a lack of faith.

Actually, Genesis 1 requires the scientific method in the command to subdue and have dominion. James 5 requires the use of the best available medicine--see:

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2012/04/james-514-20-and-unconventional-or.html

Rejecting science-based medicine for quack remedies is actually faithless disobedience to Scripture. It has also produced many orphans and widows.

Thanks for the comment.

DJLion said...

I find your comments very interesting. It is true, there are things in nature that are detrimental to health. Medical treatments require discernment, and homeopathy is no different. If a man is sick, giving him (for a really crazy example) poison ivy extract does no good, and will most likely kill him.

I'm not sure how the rejection of science-based medicine is faithless disobedience, as I have many friends who pay no attention to that area of life. They eat organic diets, supplement, and are in very good health.

There is one point on which we agree: water does not cure tuberculosis ;)

You call all homeopathic remedies "water". Well honestly, thank you! Without water, we can't experience good health, and in fact, we'd die very quickly. I'd think roughly the same of homeopathic medicine. Thanks for the analogy!

Are you still a member of Samaritan Ministries?

KJB1611 said...

Dear DJ Lion,

Yes, I am still a member.

Please answer the following:

A 30x homeopathic remedy has nothing in it but water--not a single molecule of anything else.

A.) True

B.) False

Thanks.

DJLion said...

Dear KJB1611,

I'm surprised you're still a member.

To answer your question, I have another question:

Do you understand biochemistry in any way, shape, or form?

I find you to be a very interesting person. You claim to be a man of science as per Genesis 1, yet you ignore large areas of science which have been validated. I wonder what could've instilled such an attitude...

DJLion said...

Sorry KJB1611,

I had one more comment. Earlier in the forum you said, "Indeed, this exemption could destroy Obamacare if enough people joined health sharing ministries. If, say, the Roman Catholics made their own one, and got out of traditional insurance, and other people followed, etc., a real free market in health care with real competition could arise, and costs could go down."

Actually, it couldn't. According to federal law, the members of any health care sharing ministries established after 1994 cannot be exempt from federal healthcare. So the members of that Roman Catholic ministry would still be forced to purchase insurance from the government.

Kent Brandenburg said...

DJ Lion,

I've given you the benefit of the doubt up to this point, listening to what you say, and all you've done is insult Thomas Ross. He asked you a basic, simple question and you couldn't answer it, or wouldn't answer it, because you knew the answer would be very revealing. At this point, I can't see you as anything but a fraud. I wish this weren't so, but you won't answer a simple question that buttresses the entire point here. You don't help whatever cause you hope to represent by not answering anything. It reinforces the truth of what Thomas is writing.

KJB1611 said...

Dear DJLion,

I have asked you what I wrote below, in the comments on part 3 of Dangers in Samaritan Ministries and in part 1, about 5 times now, and you still have not answered it. Here it is again:

Homeopathic "remedies" are diluted to such an extent that there is not a single molecule of the remedy within them. They are 100% water--H20. It is great to drink water, but homeopaths should label their remedies "bottles of water" since that is exactly what they are.

Please explain how a "treatment" that is nothing but water can treat any disease better than the water from my tap.

or, if you have time to insult me but not to actually explain how occult water--homeopathy--can cure anything, at least answer the question below "true" or "false," as I have already asked more than once:

A 30x homeopathic remedy has nothing in it but water--not a single molecule of anything else.

A.) True

B.) False

You refused to answer, but instead you asked me:

To answer your question, I have another question:

Do you understand biochemistry in any way, shape, or form?
:

My answer: I trust that passing college biology, chemistry, physics, upper-level physics, calculus, vector calculus, etc. enables me to know enough about biology and chemistry to understand the answer to your question. Don't worry, although you stated that I am not "someone of intelligence," a goober like me should be able to understand enough biochemistry to hear this amazing explanation for why water in a homeopathic bottle can cure diseases but water from the tap cannot. Go ahead. Here it is again:

Homeopathic "remedies" are diluted to such an extent that there is not a single molecule of the remedy within them. They are 100% water--H20. It is great to drink water, but homeopaths should label their remedies "bottles of water" since that is exactly what they are.

Please explain how a "treatment" that is nothing but water can treat any disease better than the water from my tap.

You would have to drink more water than is in the Pacific Ocean to get even one molecule of something other than water in a homeopathic "treatment."

Be warned, DJ Lion. Homeopathy is New Age quackery that dishonors God. If you use it when you need real medicine you will not get better because of it, any more than you would if you just drank water from the tap. If you recommend homeopathy to someone and that person dies, his blood will be on your hands. Insulting my intelligence won't help you when you are weeping over the grave of a loved one that had an easily curable disease. God will also hold you accountable in part for the many deaths that take place through substituting homeopathy for medicine because you fund the occult water business by buying homeopathic nostrums.