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The new ‘snake oil’ salesmen–NAR apostles and prophets

snake oil posterYou’ve probably heard of the fraudulent medical doctors who traveled the regions of the western United States, selling a “miracle” medicine known as “snake oil.” Though the ingredients in the snake oil were ineffective or unproven, the fraudulent salesmen claimed it could cure many types of diseases and ailments.

If you thought this breed of con artists died out a long time ago with the Wild West, think again.

The New Snake Oil Salesmen

Meet the new “snake oil” salesmen–the apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. They’ve concocted all manner of so-called miracle potions made with recipes they claim were revealed to them by God. And just like the snake oil salesmen of early America, these apostles and prophets also claim that their products will cure everything.

In fact, these apostles and prophets would make used car salesmen blush–with their willingness to say anything to make the sell. To see what I mean, check out this advertisement for a mist spray product called “Hyssop Health Therapy,” which was sent out, on June 24, to subscribers of the Elijah List e-newsletter. The advertisement is so shameless that I can’t resist pointing out (and poking a little fun) at some of its more cunning claims.

I will look at it section by section. Here it is.

ad part 1

A “Prophetic” Vision

First, take note of the claim that this product all started with a “prophetic” vision. If you haven’t read my post titled “The prophets’ handshake,” then you might want to check it out. I explained how the word “prophetic” is used in the NAR movement like a code word–or like a secret handshake. It lets the followers of present-day apostles and prophets know that the product featured–in this case Hyssop Health Therapy–comes with a stamp of approval from the NAR apostles and prophets.

In other words, from the very beginning of the advertisement, the readers know that they’d better pay attention because this product is not just any product–it’s a prophetic product. This is a smart marketing move on the part of the Hyssop Health Therapy makers.

Now let’s look at the next section of the advertisement.

ad part 2

Bob Jones Said It … So It Must Be True

According to the advertisement, Hyssop Health Therapy is the result of a prophetic vision received by NAR prophet Bob Jones. I must point out that this particular prophet, Bob Jones, is one of the most revered prophets in the NAR movement (despite significant moral lapses in his life and career). In other words, the makers of this product went straight for one of the prophetic big guns when they were creating the advertisement.

Did Jones actually give this prophecy before the product was produced or did it come along after the fact? I don’t know. But I do know that an endorsement from Jones will carry great weight with his followers. It is as if they are saying, “God told you to buy this product.” Now if this isn’t an example of manipulative advertising tactics, then I don’t know what is.

Now let’s look at the next part of the advertisement.

ad part 3

You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me

According to the advertisement, the main ingredient in this product is origanum vulgareo, What is that? It’s oregano or, literally, wild oregano.

Yes, oregano–like the herb I add to my spaghetti sauce and meatballs. This is the so-called miracle cure. And it costs $45 for just a 4 oz. bottle.

Mama mia, that’s a spicy meatball!

But I guess the makers of Hyssop Health Therapy knew that people wouldn’t pay that much money for plain, old oregano so they had to refer to their product by its Latin name to make it sound more exotic.

Hmm…this has got me thinking. Maybe–to make some cash–I should package my extra nutmeg, then add a prophetic endorsement to it, and give it an exotic name. I will call my miracle product, “Utmeg-nay Ipoff-ray.”

My Concerns About Hyssop Health Therapy

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking all herbal remedies or saying that there is no medicinal value in oregano oil. Even the reputable Mayo Clinic acknowledges that oregano, like many spices, has some “antibacterial and antifungal properties”–though scientific studies have not looked at its effectiveness in treating conditions, such as sinusitis.

However, I am objecting to the unproven claim that Hyssop Health Therapy is a miracle cure that will “alleviate many symptoms of sicknesses, infections, maladies and conditions.” And even this claim, when you really consider it, doesn’t say much. It is intentionally worded vaguely, saying only that it has been “formulated to” (not proven to) “alleviate” (not take away) many “symptoms” (but not actually the sicknesses or infections causing the symptoms). You would think a miracle cure revealed by God could promise to do much more–like cure cancer or AIDS.

Yet, in other promotional materials the makers of Hyssop Health Therapy make bigger claims for their product. The Web site belonging to Dermazone Solutions, the company that produces Hyssop Health Therapy, states that Hyssop Health Therapy actually “has proven to relieve, prevent and provide miraculous recovery for an endless variety of maladies, symptoms and disease-like conditions.” See it here.  Nevertheless, even in the testimonials they provide you won’t find stories of cured cancer or anything of that magnitude. Instead, you will find only stories such as soothed sore throats, cleared up acne, and the quick recovery of a stubbed big toe (regrown toe nail and all). See them here.

I’m also objecting to the claim the Hyssop Health Therapy came about through a special revelation from God. This claim is more than a little suspicious considering that there were already dozens of oregano oil products on the market long before Hyssop Health Therapy was ever invented.

But now I will look at the final section of the advertisement sent out by the Elijah List. This section contains testimonials from people who claim to have been cured by this product.

ad part 4

Rowdy Women, Scripture Twisting, and a Sore Throat

You should take note that the first testimonial is from Wanda Davis, the co-founder of an influential NAR organization, WhiteDove Ministries, and also the wife of an influential NAR prophet, Paul Keith Davis. By including a testimonial from Wanda Davis, the makers of Hyssop Health Therapy are again attempting to connect their product to the divine endorsement of a prophet. (And please don’t get me started on Wanda Davis’ twisting of Scripture to promote this product. I must save my comments about her misapplication of Hebrews 13:8 for a future post.)

And I can’t help but laugh a little at the third testimonial from Diana Hahlbohm. I don’t know which strikes me as more funny about her story–the thought of the women at their Christian conference getting loud and rowdy or the fact that the makers of Hyssop Health Therapy thought Ms. Hahlbohm’s unimpressive sore throat story was compelling evidence for the miraculous powers of their product.

No Laughing Matter

Though I’ve used humor in this post, my purpose for writing it hasn’t been merely to get a few laughs at the expense of the makers of Hyssop Health Therapy and other NAR miracle cures. My main purpose is to underscore some serious problems in the NAR movement.

Problem No. 1: Gullible Followers

The first problem I see is the gullibility of the followers of the NAR apostles and prophets. By gullibility, I mean there is a tendency for them to be easily deceived. The fact that there is a market for Hyssop Health Therapy and other modern “snake oil” products reveals a dangerous desire to believe anything that a prophet or apostle claims–no matter how far-fetched sounding those claims are.

It may be  true that purchasing a bottle of Hyssop Health Therapy won’t kill anyone. But the apostles and prophets are selling more to their followers than just phony cure-alls, including some bad theology. While bad theology isn’t always harmful to one’s physical health–unless the theology is encouraging that person to handle snakes–it is always harmful to one’s spiritual health.

Problem No. 2: Manipulative Leaders

The second problem I see is the manipulative practices of leaders in the NAR movement, such as prophet Bob Jones. Jones knows that, by giving his prophetic endorsement to this product, the makers of Hyssop Health Therapy will make a lot of money. Using a prophecy–that is a message from God–to make financial gain is, unfortunately, a common practice among the NAR apostles and prophets.

And it’s not just Bob Jones who is guilty of this manipulation. The makers of Hyssop Health Therapy, including chairman Karalyn Schuchert and president Deborah Duffey, are also willing to exploit people’s gullibility. They know that endorsements from prophets like Bob Jones will cause many of the prophets’ followers to place trust in that product.

Problem No. 3: Inconsistent Teachings and Actions

The third problem I see is a huge inconsistency between the teachings and the actual practices of people in the NAR movement. NAR apostles and prophets teach that, if someone has enough faith, then God will always heal that person. But, if this teaching is actually true and God will always heal, then why do they promote so many cure-all products like Hyssop Health Therapy?

The “Miracle” Cure Craze

People in the NAR movement are fixated on these types of products more than just about any other group of Christians. They are also fixated on fad diets–such as The Bible Cure for Arthritis and The Maker’s Dietwhich are based on the false notion that the Bible contains secret, all-natural cures for a multitude of health problems. This fixation is odd. Doesn’t God always heal in response to faith? Or do NAR followers lack in their faith?

However, I should point out that the Bible mentions at least one, all-natural remedy– that is, wine. You don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself (1 Timothy 5:23).The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to drink a little wine for for his stomach and other unnamed ailments.

So, then, what’s next–the production of a special brand of NAR wine? That would certainly give a new meaning to “being drunk in the Spirit”! But that would also be a misapplication of this Bible verse, which isn’t teaching that wine is a miracle cure. Rather, it is just a record of some advice that Paul gave to a particular person at a particular time for a particular situation.

But I don’t want to be hard on only NAR leaders. Even the late Grant Jeffrey–an influential Christian teacher on the end time who, as far as I know, did not promote present-day apostles and prophets–endorsed Hyssop Health Therapy. Jeffrey claimed that the oregano cure is “authorized” by Scripture. See his endorsement here. His misuse of Scripture is disappointing. It is interesting to see that Jeffrey also served on the advisory board for Hyssop Health Therapy. I don’t know if he received any financial kickbacks for his promotion of this product.

Still, it is ironic that the NAR movement is obsessed with all-natural products and diet cures, which should be unnecessary if their teachings about guaranteed miraculous healing are true.

So, whether they’re selling snake oil or oregano oil, con men and women are alive and well in every era.

— Holly Pivec

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5 Responses to “The new ‘snake oil’ salesmen–NAR apostles and prophets”

  1. Vicki Collins Says:

    I just discovered this site today, and it looks like a great apologetics info center. I’m looking forward to digging in here and at your fullfilled prophecy site as well. Snake oil blew my mind—I hadn’t heard anything about this newer angle of theirs. How on earth can anyone get pulled into that deal? Just itching ears I suppose.

  2. Mary Ann Says:

    hmm…gotta get me some of that thar hyssop right quick!  lol

    Seriously, what has always puzzled me is whether or not these con-artists are intentionally deceiving or are they deceived themselves.  Or can we know for sure which it is?

  3. Paul Says:

    Holy, Grant Jeffery died recently. Paul.

  4. Bill Fawcett Says:
  5. Zebulun Says:

    Actually wild oregano is not the same plant you put on spaghetti.The oregano we can buy at the store is not the same as hyssop/wild oregano.Herbs/plants are not magic or snake oil.Plants can kill, heal,sustain life, or change perception.Different countries use different names for plants/herbs.What we call cinnamon is the u.s. is actually cassia.You can’t even find real cinnamon in stores.We legally mislabel cassia even in pill/supplement form.Wild oregano is a very potent rare herb(but still over priced).

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