A Question I Was Asked:
"What is Your Opinion of the Ministry of L. Ray Smith?
Is He Armstrongist?"
Generally speaking, I do not set out to attack other ministries. After all, everybody has the right to his or her own opinion, at least, within certain parameters. However, in the case of biblical/theological ministries there is an awesome responsibility upon all of us (including myself) to get it as right as we can, as often as we can. The Scripture is clear,
'Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.' (James 3:1. NIV)
Mr Smith's website is called 'Exposing Those Who Contradict' and the problem - to me - appears to be that he is not attacking the cults and sects but other areas of mainstream Christian opinion, including the opinions of thousands of other Bible-believing Christians. Personally I think we should all avoid doing that wherever we can.
I find that there is a mixture of truth and error on Mr Smith's site (though I think more the former than the latter), but I find that he is genuinely evangelical rather than being a cult/sect leader. He is not Armstrongist, although his denial of the Trinity is a major problem area of his teaching and his insistence that God is an open family which Christians may one day join is certainly Armstrongist and heretical in that particular area. But putting together the whole package of his teachings, I found little or nothing else to give me concern after spending almost an hour perusing his site (April, 2006). But - there again - maybe I missed something.
I found several things which I would
agree with, for instance, his teaching that tithing should not be
imposed on New Covenant Christians, plus his unwillingness to
join the KJV-only party, also his very wise caution on the
tongues teaching among Pentecostals and charismatics. I was also
pleased to note Mr Smith's rejection of the 'health and
prosperity' heresy. But I noted other things I would disagree
with, but my impression is that he is probably a good evangelical
teacher (where I am able to detect).
Mr Smith appears to accept Annihilationism (that is, that peoople will not remain in Hell forever but will simply be destroyed). An evangelical is bound to accept Heaven and Hell as realities but, truthfully, the Scriptures say so little about Hell that differences of opinion must be allowed and, certainly, a growing number of evangelicals are coming to support Annihilationism.
But the main problem appears to be that he is a little too dogmatic which is worrying; being overly dogmatic and overbearing about one's own opinion can be a mark of a cult leader. In other words, he appears a little disparaging about those who would disagree with him by taking the line that 'here is the true teaching', whereas I tend to say, one group of Christians believe this and another group believe this, but after over 40 years of Bible study here is where I stand. I don't infer that all those who disagree with me are all idiots and I clearly point out where differences of opinion among Christians are perfectly permissible. We should treat fellow Christians with more respect than we might treat a money-grabbing prosperity cult leader! I have to admit that I do not respect prosperity teachers because their teachings are cultic and are an aberration of Christian truth.
So I attack the cults and sects and I attack liberal Christianity (since it is not “Christianity” at all in any meaningful sense and people should be warned about that) but I am slower to be critical of my fellow Bible-believing evangelicals, although sometimes I must express my concern. It might be helpful to the reader to review Where We May Agree to Differ and Where We Should Defend the Truth...
I was also disappointed to find (as with too many other Christian websites) that I could find no Statement of Faith on Mr Smith's site!
Can I make an appeal to all my fellow Christian webmasters here and now to ensure that your website contains a Statement of Faith to show that you stand in the true evangelical faith? After all, how else is a site visitor going to quickly discover whether your site is truly Christian or whether it is the site of a cult or sect? A Statement of Faith immediately shows where you stand on the fundamentals of the Christian Faith. Mine is here and I have no problem if anybody wishes to 'copy and paste' it and use it on their own site.
I do not condemn Mr Smith and I found quite large areas where he and I would actually agree; he appears to be genuinely evangelical, though it is true that his rejection of the Trinity is a real concern.
Robin A. Brace, 2006.