By Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi, Parsa Trust
Youcef Nadarkhani has been reported in both the secular and Christian media and periodicals to be under a death sentence for his conversion from Islam to evangelical Christianity. He was arrested on 12th October 2009 in the city of Rasht in the northern part of Iran, where he had been the pastor of the underground church there.
He is reported to be the evangelical pastor of “the Church of Iran”. However, what might come as a shock to many evangelical believers is that Pastor Nadarkhani is actually one of the leaders in a growing cult in Iran, which is linked with the Oneness Pentecostalism (Jesus Only) cult, which is non-Trinitarian, believes in baptismal regeneration, and is very closely linked and supported by the United Pentecostal Churches outside of Iran. They — with less than 200 members inside Iran — greatly admire and follow the teachings of an American preacher, William M. Branham, who claimed to be the last of God’s prophets on earth, that the doctrine of the Trinity is from the devil, and only those who are baptised in Jesus’ name are saved.
Evangelical underground churches are being destroyed by non-Trinitarian cults, as the gospel is turned into ‘works salvation’.
For the past number of years, these anti-Trinitarian cult teachers, including Youcef Nadarkhani have been militant in their proselytising and recruiting of individuals, especially in Rasht and Shiraz. Pastor [name withheld for security] (as well as many other of our Christian contacts), who is the evangelical pastor of a truly evangelical church in Rasht, confirmed to us personally that Mr Nadarkhani and his colleagues reject all other protestant churches as not being true churches. Moreover, they teach other classic errors of the Jesus Only cult, including speaking in tongues as the main sign of true salvation. In a recent TV interview by Press TV, Mr Nadarkhani confirmed some of his doctrinal beliefs, which clearly show that he is not an evangelical Christian, even though he speaks about trusting Jesus Christ. He clearly denies the evangelical doctrine of the Trinity.
Christians everywhere have been moved greatly to pray and act as they hear of Mr Nadarkhani who remains in custody, in very difficult and inhumane circumstances, and faces possible execution. We are grieved for him and his family, as no one should be persecuted for their religious beliefs. We trust this article helps to guide our prayers, not only to pray for his release, but mainly for his salvation. Please remember, this cult has caused untold damage to the cause of the gospel in Iran. Many evangelical papers and periodicals seem not to have noticed his grave and damning errors on fundamental doctrines.
Evangelicals are misinformed about the Non-Trinitarian Cult
It is a sad fact that many evangelical Christians do not realise the affect such teachers are having on the true churches in Iran. Many house churches have been devastated (or dissipated) , and a false man-centred gospel has replaced the gospel of the free grace of God in Jesus Christ.
The believers in the West are very much misinformed which is understandable. Some even have argued that as Youcef Nadarkhani has not renounced Christ then he must be a believer! This is very naive to say the least, for there are many people who sincerely follow something that is false and are prepared to die for that cause – history is full of such examples, e.g. believers in Islam, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Nazi’ism, Communism, etc. So the fact that this man talks about a faith in Jesus Christ does not mean anything, since his view of Christ and salvation is always plus human works, and teaching without complete obedience to their church rules there is no salvation!
A warning to underground church of Iran
Praise God, the true church in Iran continues to grow, but the main reason that such cults can easily infiltrate into the underground churches and deceive many is because of the theological weakness of the churches. New evangelicalism and Pentecostal theology is the major factor of the problems, as these groups tend to be Pentecostal in their theology and use similar language and practice the Pentecostal gifts.