Have you heard of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani? I haven’t commented on him here yet. But, it seems like everyone is talking about him lately, especially since he was given a death sentence last week in Iran. This is a sentence that can happen tomorrow, or in a few years. His crime was his conversion from Islam to Christianity, or so we are told. The 34 year old pastor, husband, and father of two is being accused of rape and other crimes. But Youcef’s attorneys think these charges were a reaction to the international outcry that resulted when the story first broke. It seems to be the general feeling. His wife was also sentenced to life imprisonment. I don’t want to comment on religious liberty. I don’t want to comment on the motives or actions of the Iranian government. I don’t want to comment on Article 225 of the Iranian penal code which states, “Punishment for an Innate Apostate is death,” and “Punishment for a Parental Apostate is death.” I don’t want to comment on their verdict. I want to comment on the mischaracterization that Pastor Youcef is a Christian.
Doubtless that prayer after prayer has been offered for the release of Pastor Youcef. And this isn’t necessarily a sinful request. Rather, what we should pray for is that God would release him from his imprisonment and bondage in sin. Despite the headlines that assert Pastor Youcef is in prison and will be killed for not denying Christ, he actually already does deny Christ. You may be saying, “Dude. This is harsh. The guy is in prison.” And isn’t that oftentimes a test of orthodoxy for some? Some may assume that because he is persecuted, his message must be legit. Anyhow, how can I say all this? Persian evangelical and reformed publication, Parsa Trust put out an article in 2011 by Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi. And he has some interesting things to disclose to us concerning Youcef’s theology:
“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.” [source]
Youcef ain’t no Christian. He can’t be sentenced on charges of not denying Jesus, because the Jesus he believes in is the Oneness Jesus. In other words, Youcef actually denies Jesus. Remember the modalism stuff with Jakes? Yup, Oneness teaches that God is one being and one person who manifests himself in three different ways – father, son, and spirit. He is part of a growing cult in Iran. And now he is sentenced to death. Persecution has a way of affirming one’s beliefs to oneself, no matter how wack those beliefs are. With the international uproar and support of thousands of ignorant professing Christians, Youcef may only become more and more hardened in his false doctrine. When you pray for him, don’t necessarily pray for his escape from the hands of those who can destroy the body. Instead pray that he would be saved from the wrath of God, Who can destroy both the body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28).