Are the teachings of Arnold Murray and Shepherd’s Chapel biblical?Question: "Are the teachings of Arnold Murray and Shepherd’s Chapel biblical?"
Answer: Shepherd’s Chapel is a church/ministry in Gravette, Arkansas, USA, known mainly for its television broadcast featuring the Bible teaching of Arnold Murray. Sadly, the teachings of Arnold Murray and Shepherd’s Chapel are full of error.
Murray demonstrated the signs of a false prophet. He maintained attitudes that were disturbingly un-Christlike. Murray’s habit of branding everyone who disagrees with him as a tool of the devil was a telling sign of his theology. Rather than instruct or correct with love and compassion (Galatians 5:22–26), Murray responded with anger, aggressiveness, and secrecy, and he inspired the same contempt and anger in his many of his followers.
Murray’s teaching takes verses out of context, which makes it easy to twist their meaning. He talked about original Greek and Hebrew word meanings, but only when he could pick an alternate translation that seemed to support his opinion. When others questioned his conclusions, Murray attacked the questioner rather than defend his view. Murray came to the Bible with his own pre-conceived opinions and then twisted the Word of God to make it fit.
For example, Murray claimed that Cain was actually the son of Eve and Satan—the serpent seed doctrine. He ignored Genesis 4:1 which says, “Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man’” (Genesis 4:1). Adam was Cain’s father, and there is no reason to believe otherwise. Murray also connected the parable of the good and bad seed in Matthew 13 with God’s curse of the serpent in Genesis 3 despite nothing in the context to connect the two passages.
Murray taught that there will be no rapture, despite passages such as 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:51–52. As is all-too-common with Arnold Murray, he claimed that 95 percent of churches who teach the rapture will accept the Antichrist as their savior (from a November 1985 newsletter). In this way, Murray effectively denied the salvation of anyone who believes in the rapture. It is unsettling to hear a Bible teacher making such claims about those he disagrees with concerning a non-essential point of eschatology.
Shepherd’s Chapel also teaches modalism, a heretical doctrine that denies the Trinity. Murray taught that “Father,” “Son,” and “Spirit” are different titles that God uses at different times. As God takes on different jobs, He uses various names for Himself. Modalism was condemned as a heresy in the first few centuries of the Christian church. It turns God into a deceiver, because in passages such as Matthew 3:16-17 definitely describe the Father, Son, and Spirit interrelating to each other. How can the Father speak in the presence of the Son and the Spirit descend on the Son without it making it appear that the three of them are separate persons?
Murray also subscribed to the Christian Identity Movement, which teaches the British are the real descendants of the ancient Israelites. This movement has been the foundation, fuel, and ammunition for a great deal of racial bigotry. Murray denounced interracial marriages, an unbiblical position that itself wavers on the edge of racism.
In addition to doctrinal errors, Arnold Murray also demonstrated violent personality traits incompatible with the position of church leader. His lack of compassion and condescending references to those who disagree with him were the most noticeable sign of his instability. Christians should be wary of anyone who acts as Arnold Murray did and should avoid any teacher who subscribes to the unbiblical views of Shepherd’s Chapel.
Recommended Resources: Bible Answers for Almost All Your Questions by Elmer Towns
Dig into this topic more with Logos Bible Software—Get 10% off any base package.
What is the origin of the different races?
What was the mark that God put on Cain (Genesis 4:15)?
What is the Christian Identity Movement?
What is the Serpent Seed doctrine?
What is Sabellianism?
Questions about Cults and Religions
Are the teachings of Arnold Murray and Shepherd’s Chapel biblical?