I first came across this ministry at Manchester Christian Resources Exhibition in 2000. The handouts distributed here stated:
“The methods Kenneth McAll uses will always be open to intellectual argument but his achievement in a world full of evil, sickness and fear is indisputable”
Since that time Kenneth McAll has died but his books are still sold and some still have questions over this ministry. In this light we thought the following may be helpful to publish.
The statement made above is an argument often used in the occult realms too; because what we are doing, works, then it must be okay. This, to me, is not a Biblical argument because we are told that Satan can come as an ‘Angel of Light’ (2 Corinthinas11:14), the master counterfeiter. However, it is not whether a certain practice works or not that is the yardstick but where its power comes from.
In these notes, I am not commenting on the character of Kenneth McAll or any others that may practise this belief; as far as I am aware they are genuine in what they do. My comments are from a Biblical perspective, which because of the method of practice, the following needs to be addressed:
1. Can a Eucharist for a dead person have any effect on that dead person?
2. If someone dies, not at peace with God, can they be brought into peace with God after death?
3. Can a miscarriage, abortion or suicide lead to a spiritual hold (it is obviously likely to cause emotional problems) on a living person?
The handout I obtained was from an article by Chrissie Pollard but the web site that they mention gives a clearer outline of the Biblical basis that Mr McAII uses and so I propose to comment on that.
I will make one small quote here and make comments on the headings so that you have a summary. The full article was originally at http://www2.prestel.co.uk/ftmin but this website seems to have been removed, however we still have a copy on file and it is the basic teaching still practised today.
The following is a quote taken from the web site.
“The following is an extract from a talk given at the Christian Resources Exhibition in 1997 and is the explanation by the Reverend Peter Hancock of the Family Tree Ministry and the importance of the Eucharist.
“Why is it that we exercise this Family Tree Ministry? It is very largely that the Word of God encourages us to do so. The consequence of obeying means that thousands have been healed and thousands of lives changed. Jesus tells Mary and Martha that he is the resurrection and the life and that he spoke to Lazarus, who had died, and raised him up. Therefore Lazarus must have been able to hear Jesus speaking to him. We believe Jesus is the Lord of the living and the dead The New Testament tells us that it is right and proper for us to pray for those in our Christian community but who are no longer walking this earth. We see at 1 Cor.15:29 where St Paul asked, “Why are these people baptised for the dead?” if there were no resurrection. 1 Peter 3:19 shows how Jesus went to speak to the souls that are in prison. 1 Peter 4:6 tells how he preached to them – spoke the gospel -to them. The Revelation of John tells how Jesus has the keys of death and hell. It was the custom in the earlier church for people to pray for those that had died and the early fathers write about such a practice.”
I want to look at the Scriptures used in relation to the three points made above.
Lazarus did not remain dead and get peace with God but came back to life. What happened to Lazarus did not affect Mary and Martha in the way that the Family Tree Ministry (FTM) describes.
1 Corinthians 15:29 is the verse used by the Mormons to justify baptism for the dead. However, the context shows that it was not the church in Corinth that was baptising but the pagans in Corinth. The Corinthian letter corrected a number of errors and excesses found in the church. Paul here is talking about resurrection, because there were some that did not believe in the resurrection from the dead (v12). He mentions those who are baptised for the dead [v.29] whereas in the next verse he talks of ‘we’. Paul is not saying that the Christian church is baptising for the dead. He is emphasising that those; the pagans in Corinth are doing it, showing that even among pagans, there was a belief in the resurrection.
1 Peter 3:19 is talking about a specific instance which is clearly qualified as to who and when in verse 20 and cannot be taken out of context and use as a scriptural backing for celebrating Eucharist for the dead. These verses do not mention the Eucharist; they do not mention that these spirits were having any affect on living people and no change is mentioned after Jesus preached to them.
The same summary can be used for 1 Peter 4:6 – in other words there is no justification in these verses for what the FTM is doing.
Finally the fact that Jesus has the keys, of death and Hades, which is the place of the dead, not hell the final place of judgement, is a glorious statement but does not give any credence for what they are doing.
There are several headings that their teaching goes under and we mention here some that appeared on the website and in other of their teaching. We will make appropriate comments on each heading.
“The sins that we commit have immediate effects within our families… There are signs that these problems are handed down through generations…”
Two things we should note. First, it does not say that the dead ‘soul’ is effecting the living because it is not a peace with God. Indeed, in every verse that they quote in this section, it is what THE LORD does, not the dead person.
It is also very significant that there is not one New Testament verse that deals with this issue. Jesus dealt with many spiritually affected people but never once had to deal with dead relatives. Never once when He was talking about His Father’s will and way or after when the Apostle’s continued the message do we get a section on dealing with dead relatives. Not once, when Jesus instigated the Lord’s Supper, or when Paul talks of his revelation of it, are we told to enact it for dead people. Indeed, it is for the living to remember the Lord Jesus and celebrate it until He comes.
Lord of the Living and Dead
Amen, this is a true statement, but not one of the verses that they quote tells us that we can alter our state once we have left this earth. God is the God of the dead and when we die we are as much in His hands as when we live but what is clear is that at the point of death there is no longer the opportunity to respond to Him and change our ways.
See for instance Luke 16:19ff, the rich man could not alter his state once in Hades.
See also Romans 5:1, it is being justified by faith NOW that means we have peace with God. Once we leave this earth we enter into judgement – Hebrews 9:27. Jesus came to this earth to die in this world because it is here that we need to know the justification that brings peace with God after death it is too late.
Behind the Veil
“The one who keeps on asking will always receive: the present imperative tense, used in the Greek, means to persist and never be discouraged. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened.”
This is true while we are on this earth but we can only receive what is according to the will of God and nothing we do or say can alter the state of someone who is already in the presence of the Lord.
“Notice that both good and evil will rise; the good to life; the evil to ??… We have another chance to grow, to be forgiven, to be cured.”
We have dealt with the issue of ‘a second chance’ elsewhere and there is not one Scripture that teaches it. There is one death and one judgement; to teach otherwise is not Biblical but a cultish doctrine.
Babies and Children
Nowhere, is there any scriptural support for celebrating the Eucharist for such ones. There is also no Scripture that shows that giving a name to a miscarried baby has any spiritual affect; it may well be an emotional help to the parent but that is not what we are talking about here.
“Note that atonement is not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world – 1 John 2:2.”
You cannot take 1 John 2:2 out of context as they seek to do. He is the propitiation of the whole world, Jesus did indeed die for every one, but, He teaches that the reality of His death is only to those who have been obedient and come to know Him.
Saying a Eucharist, to bring dead people, who did not repent and receive Christ in this life, into ‘peace with God’ is no better than the Mormons baptising for the dead or the Witnesses receiving a second chance after Armageddon. It negates the bodily death of Jesus in this world so that those in this world might know forgiveness.
Prayers for the Dead
“This reference to baptism for the dead is included within the great chapter of the resurrection. Paul makes no approval or disapproval of the practice of praying for the dead. When we pray, for example, for stillborn children at the Holy Communion, we immerse them in the waters of the Eucharist; the soul is cleansed and may proceed on its heavenly journey.”
We have already dealt with this issue but we should note that the context shows it was the Pagans not the Christians that were baptising for the dead! Also they quote verses from the Apocrypha, which to evangelical Christians is not part of the inspired Word of God, and indeed in may places deny it.
Occult and curses
“Some mighty Satanic beings, evil dark princes. Directed to assault souls on their ascent to heaven and deflect and delay the living on their way to God.”
If the finished work of Christ is applied to my life before I leave the earth how can Satanic forces stop me? Also, they quote Deuteronomy 18, but these verses condemn necromancers, people who communicate with the dead. The Bible actually forbids what they are actually doing. Our fight is against the demonic realm but that does not include the spirits of dead people.
In the light of this, my answers, from Scripture, to the three questions posed are:
1. Nowhere in Scripture are we giving the slightest inkling that a Eucharist said for a dead person can have any effect on them whatsoever. Indeed the Bible teaches the opposite
2. Justification in this life brings peace with God and an individual cannot alter their standing before God, in this respect, after death.
3. There is no Biblical evidence at all that a miscarriage, abortion or suicide can lead to a spiritual hold on a living person. Indeed, it is shown that God has to do with our lives not dead people.
We do not judge the sincerity or the salvation of these people but I believe the answer to the question, “Is the teaching in line with evangelical Biblical understanding,” is clearly no. Also, that the answer to the question, “Is the teaching more bordering on the occult than the Christian life”, I believe, is yes.
There is a danger that this teaching affects individuals, not for good, but for harm and that they might experience influence coming from a counterfeit source.