The great impostor

How three of the most successful religious systems in the world proclaim “another Jesus, a different Spirit, a different gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4).

He was known as “The Great Impostor” and inspired a 1961 film by the same name.

Ferdinand Waldo Demara impersonated everyone from physicians to monks and thus achieved notoriety. He began his nefarious career during World War II by borrowing his Army buddy’s name, going AWOL and faking his suicide. A string of pseudo careers followed. He was, among other things, a sheriff’s deputy, a doctor of applied psychology, a lawyer and a child-care expert.

He was best known for masquerading as a surgeon aboard a Canadian Navy destroyer during the Korean War, successfully completing a string of operations. His final gig: serving as a Baptist minister.

Demara’s life is a fascinating but sad story of one man’s quest for respectability. His success as an impostor also exposes the soft underbelly of a society whose people are easily duped by one who talks smoothly and claims to serve the greater good.

For Christians, Demara’s story is a warning to be on guard against those who disguise themselves as “servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15). But how can we know a religious impostor when we see one? The apostle Paul gives us three clear markers in 2 Cor. 11:4. False teachers proclaim “another Jesus … a different spirit … a different gospel.”

To illustrate, let’s look briefly at three of the largest and most successful religious systems in the world today: Islam, Mormonism, and the Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witnesses) – all of which are growing worldwide and teach unbiblical doctrines concerning Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the gospel.

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