Friday, February 05, 2016

Fatal Drift

A Book Review & Excerpt

Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? by Dr. Jim Jenkins (Deep River Books, 2014) 

By Sarah H. Leslie
Last Fall my husband and I sat down for coffee with Pastor Jim Jenkins. He had been introduced to us by two of our friends: Warren B. Smith, a well-known author whose writings have often appeared on Herescope, and Paul Smith, brother of the late Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel) and author of New Evangelicalism: The New World Order. Pastor Jim wanted to give us a copy of his book, Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor?

Pastor Jim told us how was one of the first-responders at 9/11, serving as a chaplain to the families amidst the toxic rubble and overwhelming human loss. I soon realized that his transformative life experience is similar to his book topic. In Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? Pastor Jim writes like a “first responder” coming upon the disastrous shipwreck of evangelical postmodernism. He explains, “In this book I will chronicle what I see as the abdicating of the church in the face of the barrage of progressive indoctrination.”(p. 29) Pastor Jim has a real heart for the Scripture, and he takes a strong stand in his book for biblical inerrancy, which, he mentioned to us, was rapidly degrading before his very eyes while he was getting his DMin at Fuller.

Over coffee Pastor Jim told us about his jolting experience witnessing a high level New Age ceremony in British Columbia in 2012. He gives a detailed account of this disturbing incident in his book. After watching a “Sacred Circle Dance,” he reported that he “was stunned when she reached the point in her address where she, in a matter-of-fact fashion said, ‘All religions that are not harmonious with the New Age must be eliminated….’”(p. 19)[emphasis added]

In Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? Pastor Jim is a tour guide, leading the reader through the rubble and debris he stumbled onto while observing the rise of postmodern evangelicalism. He writes about the ramifications of the church abandoning biblical inerrancy and accommodating itself to the postmodern culture. He predicts, “In order to fuse progressive politics and progressive religion, the 'troublesome' passages which state that Christ is the only way of salvation in the Bible have to be dealt with,” and also the Gospel will be redefined “from salvation found in Christ alone to a kinder/gentler version….” (p. 29)

Pastor Jim also brings a fresh perspective to current issues in discerning the times. He is an encouragement to those of us who have served in the trenches of this for decades. His unique vantage point is from the heart of a pastor/chaplain who has arrived on the scene of the “great evangelical disaster” (Dr. Francis Schaeffer's term) and seeks to warn others about it. He quotes from a wide range of commentators on the topic of postmodernism, explains how the church has been accommodating to the culture, and speaks to the necessity of holding to the position of biblical inerrancy. Note: some of the men cited in his book have fallen into errors. Nevertheless, a discerning reader should be able to navigate this.

Chapter 8 examining the postmodern use of narratives is worth the small price of the book. But first it requires knowing a working definition of the term postmodern. Pastor Jim has given us permission to reproduce a sample excerpt from his book from Chapter 5:

“You Eyeballed It, Didn’t You?”
As I mentioned earlier, part of my Reserve Chaplain Career involved serving with the Marines. In that capacity while serving with a company of combat engineers which was tasked with building bridges, I learned a lesson I will never forget. 

It was raining. It seemed like every drill weekend it was raining. This particular weekend we were camped out in a rock quarry along the river. Our assignment was to build a certain type of bridge to cross the river. 

I had previously seen pallets of pre-engineered steel components stored at the Reserve Center. I noted at the time that I didn’t see cranes or other heavy equipment to the degree I might have expected. This weekend, I would learn why. 


This particular type of bridge was designed to be assembled in pieces like a giant erector set, and it was designed to be assembled by manpower. Those pallets of bridge components also contained lifting bars. Two Marines or four Marines or how many as were needed would put on their gloves, pick up their lifting bars and literally lift each piece into position for assembly. It was backbreaking work... and did I mention it was raining? 

A little background here might be instructive. The command structure of a Marine Reserve unit is comprised of both active duty and reserve components. Active duty Marines serve as instructors and facilitators and the reserve unit with its own commanding officer learns the skills necessary to function in a combat environment. The senior officer of the active duty component is known as the Inspector/Instructor or “I and I” for short.

This particular weekend, the Inspector/Instructor stood by relatively passively as the reserve officer took command and gave orders to begin the bridge building. This particular type of bridge is assembled on one river bank by hand.... It was raining; did I mention that? 

Once the bridge superstructure was completed on one bank of the river, a boom component would be thrust across to the other side where the rest of the construction would take place. Once complete, the bridge would be sturdy enough to handle both people and vehicle traffic. 
My job as chaplain was to be with the troops as they accomplished this arduous task, encouraging them, ripping open an MRE and sharing coffee with them on their break, being the comic relief as I attempted to do even a portion of the hard labor... all the while affirming them.

It really was inspiring to watch these young devil dogs as they strained to lift each piece of solid steel, and then bolt each plate piece in place. All day long as the rain came down, they counted and lifted in unison... piece by piece... knuckle busting... dirty... sandy... grubby hard work. 

At the end of what seemed like three days instead of one. The pieces were all assembled. The commander gave the order, and the exhausted Marines prepared for one last herculean effort to thrust the boom across the river. “ONE... TWO.... THREE”... and they pushed with all their might... nothing. 

Two... three times more... they redoubled their efforts... “PUSH!”... nothing. The officer in charge began to sweat.... Finally, the order came to ‘stand by’ and the Inspector/Instructor and the commander took a little walk. 

I was close enough to overhear their conversation. To his credit, the active duty officer didn’t berate the officer in charge. As they looked off in the opposite direction together I overheard the Inspector Instructor say, “You eyeballed it didn’t you?” 

Despite protestations to the contrary, the officer in charge admitted that perhaps at the very beginning of the exercise he may have just estimated or “eyeballed it” but the rest of the day, he consulted the book. 

“You should have started by the book at the very beginning. All you did was add tons of weight to something that wasn’t in alignment from the start. You’ll have to do it all over.” 

And so the Marines used every colorful word in their lexicon, grabbed some MRE’s and then put their gloves back on (Oh, and did I say it was raining?), took the whole thing apart bit by bit... piece by piece... and then started it all over again. Only this time it was by the book, from step one to the finish. 
The Inspector/Instructor taught a powerful lesson. The officer in charge learned a powerful lesson, and a soggy chaplain learned perhaps the most powerful lesson of all. For you see the whole time I heard those two officers talking, I thought about the authority of the Bible, and the absolute necessity of living “by the Book.” 

I was witnessing a parable. In preparing to write this book, I thought back to this rainy day bridge-building exercise. As church leaders, we can be well intentioned in our efforts to build a bridge to reach people for the Lord. We can exert incredible amounts of energy. We can even motivate others to redouble their efforts. We can have team building exercises—esprit d’ corps— if you will. 

At the end of the day, however, if what we do, we attempt to do in our strength, we’ll end up doing what seems best to us (eyeballing it) rather than consulting our manual—the Bible. Our best bridge may look nice, but can’t help people safely reach the other side. 

All the weighty improvisations, clever though they be, will not account for failing to consult the Book from the outset. Anything built on a less than God’s specified start point will eventually be immobilized by its own weight. Hence the purpose in writing this book. 

Throughout my entire ministry, I have been watching and warning and preaching because I see something. There has been a steady, methodical, relentless assault on the authority of the Scriptures. The notion of an inerrant Bible and the very idea of such a thing as propositional truth are now looked upon as relics from an irrelevant past—ideas destined for the dust bin of history. 

Emergent church writer Phyllis Tickle has actually said that every five hundred years or so the church needs to have a rummage sale (the inference being, “to throw out useless stuff” that no one wants anymore.) What is shocking to me is that she was referring to the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, and the main doctrine known as Sola Scriptura . . . Only the Scriptures.1 

We are obsessed with innovation. We hold conference after conference on how to build bridges to people... We write books and read books on “how to be relevant”... think about that for a minute.... The Church of the living God needing to consult ad men and social scientists in order to accommodate the world spirit... to be perceived as relevant

I remember an incident that took place when George W. Bush was president. The press hounded him relentlessly, always probing, looking to trap him in a “Gotcha” moment. 

One clever reporter cited a critic who inferred that the President was no longer relevant. President Bush took the bait and said. “I’m relevant.” Well guess what the press did with that sound bite? For months they played it over and over again. He had been tricked into giving weight to a question that was designed to put him on the defensive, and by answering he gave credibility to the assumption . . . a contrived assumption of his perceived irrelevance. 

I believe that denominations, seminaries, and Christians in general have fallen prey to a similar ploy. Emergent church writers say the same thing again and again in one form or another. “In this postmodern era, none of the old ideas will work in reaching this generation.” 

Once this premise is uttered, Christian pollsters oblige with survey after survey confirming the conventional wisdom that the church must totally revamp its methods and sadly alter its message to reach these special people who would never respond to something as “old school” as altar calls and preaching the certainty of Jesus Christ as the only savior. 

What does the term postmodern mean anyway? I came across this insightful description of the term. 
A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. 
For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.2 

From that definition I glean that postmodernism is: 
  • primarily a reaction 
  • that it constructs reality in the mind rather than relying on objective truth 
  • that reality only ‘comes into being’ in our interpretation 
  • that personal experience trumps objective propositional truth 
Thinking about the implications of this for bridge building, I try to imagine a bridge being built based on these criteria. What would a bridge be like if it was built solely based on a reactionary approach which emphasized interpretation and downplayed proposition truths like the laws of physics? 

One of the signs of a community in decline is a crumbling infrastructure. In the recent federal government stimulus package, which was supposed to kick start the economy, one of the first areas of investment was to be the repair of unsafe bridges. What makes for a safe, reliable bridge? For a bridge to be safe, it must be the product of both engineered plans and tested materials. And once built, bridges need to be inspected and maintained. Let’s look at each of these criteria…. 

Endnotes: 
1. [The late] Phyllis Tickle’s book is entitled The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. “Tickle’s basic thesis is that every 500 years, the Church goes through a rummage sale, and cleans out the old forms of spirituality and replaces it with new ones. This does not mean that previous forms become obsolete or invalid. It simply means they lose pride of place as the dominant form of Christianity. Constantine in the late 4th century, early 5th, the Great Schism of the 11th century, the Reformation in the 16th century, and now the Postmodern era in the 21st century have all been points of reference for these changes. 
What is giving way right now is Protestantism, in the form that we know it, and what is emerging is a new form of Christianity, what she is calling “The Great Emergence.” One can only guess whether or not it is tribal form, an individualistic form, a social form, or a combination of all of them. But, what we can say is that Protestantism in all its denominational forms is losing influence and is giving way to alternative forms of Christian expression.” http://vialogue.wordpress.com/2008/04/27/the-great-emergence-phyllis-tickles-500-year-rummage-sale/ 
2. PBS, “Postmodern,” accessed December 15, 2012, http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html


To read the rest of this chapter, see the book on Amazon: Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Millennial Eschatology

Millennium: Historical & Exegetical Debate


Dr. Martin Erdmann has just released a newly published edition of his book originally titled The Millennial Controversy in the Early Church. The updated book, titled Millennium: Historical & Exegetical Debate, is now available on Amazon.com HERE. This book is very current and relevant to the ongoing debates about eschatology in the church. It is important to understand early church history on these topics. 

Dr. Erdmann summarized the thesis of this book in an "Afterword" to a June 10, 2011 Herescope post, "DOOMSDAY DATESETTERS 2012," where he stated, in part:
The error of using extra-Biblical texts to elucidate Biblical prophecy
In the ante-Nicene age the belief in a literal millennium was one of the most important aspects of Christian eschatology.It was a viewpoint widely held among many early Church Fathers in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), such as Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Barnabas, and Tertullian.

One of the most monumental developments in theology occurred when the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hippo, Augustine, published his book De Civitate Dei (The City of God) in the early 5th century AD, addressing diverse topics such as theology proper, Christian philosophy, martyrdom and eschatology. According to a well-established consensus among church historians, Augustine was the most influential of all Church Fathers in the West. More than any of his other books, The City of God set the tone of theological discourse in the Western Church for many centuries to follow, and is even today known for its advocacy of Amillennialism which became the undisputed view of the Roman Catholic Church from then on, justifying its pretensions to supreme earthly power, usually realized and upheld by the edge of the sword. Not even the main Reformators of the 16th century, such as Martin Luther and Johannes Calvin, thought it necessary to challenge the Amillennialism of their ecclesiastical opponents, while simultaneously rejecting the concomitant view that the Kingdom of God was coextensive with the Roman Catholic Church giving the “Mother Church” the exclusive right to dispense forgiveness of sins (absolution; indulgence) and eternal salvation.

Interestingly enough, however, the young Augustine, immediately following his conversion, espoused Premillennialism in accordance with the millennial view of the early Greek Church Fathers. What made him change his opinion on this theological issue in later years was his disgust about the fanciful embellishments in the descriptions of millennial conditions on earth which he found in the writings of the Greek Church Fathers. The problematic aspect in Augustine’s mind was not so much the literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10, but the perversion of Christian eschatology by these early Church Fathers. Without exception they referred primarily to extra-biblical sources, mostly to select works of the Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (e.g., The First and Second Book of Enoch, The Secrets of Enoch, 4 Ezra, The Second Book of Baruch and the The Book of Jubilees), in elaborating their millennial views.

The Greek Church Fathers committed the hermeneutical error of claiming that the passages they cited, for example, from I Enoch describing the abundant fruitfulness of mankind (10:17) and of the vegetation (10:18f), and II Baruch 29:5-8 were descriptive of what the Apostle John had in mind when he committed his prophetic vision of the thousand year reign of Christ on earth to writing. It was a classic case of eisegesis, not exegesis; meaning, instead of limiting one’s interpretation of what the canonical text actually says (i.e., exegesis), the commentator refers to extra-biblical sources, in order to arrive at a more elaborate, often twisted, meaning of the text (i.e., eisegesis). This unfortunate hermeneutical procedure had tremendous negative repercussions, as briefly noted above.

In our time some influential Bible expositors are using the same fallacious procedure of referring to the Book of Enoch and other questionable, often esoteric, sources in a vain attempt to elucidate biblical prophecy. The curious apocalyptic vistas they conjure up are so incredibly contrived and bizarre that it seems impossible that any Christian would fall for them.[footnotes deleted. Read the "Afterword" in its entirety HERE]


We have also written about Dr. Erdmann's book while describing some of the newer manifestations of millenarian eschatologies arising and causing controversy in our modern-day era. We quoted excerpts from the book in the March 7, 2013 post titled: "The Rise of Apocalyptic Paganism in the Church: Bible Prophecy in Crisis." 

For further reading, and for a good example of the relevance of Dr. Erdmann's book to current church eschatology issues, see also Dr. Erdmann's Feb. 28, 2013 post, "The Emerging Galactic Religion: Science Fiction and the Rise of Technocratic Posthumanism."

To obtain a copy of Millennium: Historical & Exegetical Debate, visit Amazon.com HERE.
Visit Dr. Erdmann's VIMEO page: https://vimeo.com/channels/veraxinstitute/
To order Dr. Erdmann's Discernment Conference talks, visit: http://home.etcable.net/hestervanboven/Latest%20Materials.htm.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Discernment as Free Speech

A Brief Study


“...Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you.... "
~Peter, the Apostle (Acts 2:29)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~First Amendment, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution 
παῤῥησία parrhēsía, par-rhay-see'-ah; from G3956 and a derivative of G4483 (Strong's); all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication, assurance:—bold (X -ly, -ness, -ness of speech), confidence, × freely, × openly, × plainly(-ness).[1]
“The word παῤῥησί... constantly denotes a freedom, liberty, and constancy of spirit, in speaking or doing anything towards God or men. See Acts. 2:29, 4:13, 4:29; 2 Cor. 3:12; Phil. 1:20; 1 Tim. 3:13.[2]

By Sarah H. Leslie

Peggy Noonan wrote in her weekly Wall Street Journal column this past December 4th her concerns that

The censorship movement is radical. It is starting to make everyone in the country feel harassed and anxious. It is odd to see candidates miss a rising issue that is giving pause to so many Americans. 

I pray someone will address it. Literally, I just did.
(Source)


This Herescope post is an answer to her prayers. It may be an unexpected answer and a politically incorrect answer, but nevertheless it is a response. It represents an exercise in the right of free speech and freedom of religion.

Noonan, a former speechwriter to President Reagan with conservative credentials, titled her article “The First Amendment Needs Your Prayers.” She was upset about social media reactions during the San Bernardino massacre, “even while it is happening,” especially from a U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (CT) who sent out a message stating, “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” According to Noonan this heavy-handed ridiculing of people who were praying during the massacre “immediately won a name: ‘prayer shaming.’” Noonan then expressed more concerns:

...Americans are growing weary of being told what they can and cannot publicly say, proclaim and think. We all know what’s going on at the colleges, with the mad little Marats and Robespierres who are telling students and administrators what they are and are not allowed to say or do. This is not just kids acting up at this point, it’s a real censorship movement backed by an ideology that is hostile to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is led by students who, though they managed to get into the greatest universities in the country, seem never to have been taught to love the little amendment that guarantees free speech and free religious observance, the two pillars without which America collapses. And too bad, because when you don’t love something you lose it.

It is my impression that what is happening on the campuses is starting to break through as a real threat to what used to be called normal Americans.


Who Is Policing Whom?
Shortly after reading Noonan's article I received a telephone call from my friend Warren B. Smith. He read me an article by Laura Turner titled “Jesus Calling and the policing of theology.”[3] Say that again? The “policing of theology”? Warren has been an outspoken critic of Sarah Young's book Jesus Calling and has published a book and booklet tracts about his concerns. Turner's article specifically named him and Tim Challies, another critic of Sarah Young. After I told Warren about Noonan's column concerning censorship and free speech we each decided these articles needed a response.

Here is Warren Smith's take on the Laura Turner article, recently published as 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book:

On November 12, 2015, Religion News Service posted an article titled Jesus Calling and the Policing of Theology.” It was a quick response to an article that reformed pastor and popular blogger Tim Challies had posted just the day before.[5] The author of the RNS article, Laura Turner (a regular contributor for Christianity Today’s “Her.meneutics” blog), used her superficial criticism of Sarah Young’s best-selling book, Jesus Calling, as a smokescreen to actually express her disapproval of people who were issuing serious warnings about Young’s book. In a strange stab at free speech, Turner stated that “theology policing is a job best left to the Holy Spirit, and then to people who we know.” But in her effort to undermine Young’s critics by redefining spiritual discernment as “theology policing,” she does the very thing she accuses others of doing. Her entire article is a thinly disguised attempt to “police” those who don’t agree with her own take on Jesus Calling. After minimizing and marginalizing most of the issues that have been raised about Jesus Calling, Turner concludes that Young’s book is "a net positive" and “has been a tool through which many people have gotten closer to God.”


In her obvious endeavor to whitewash the many problems found in Jesus Calling, Turner is especially upset with Tim Challies. She goes out of her way to single him out and take him to task for describing Jesus Calling as a “dangerous” book. But in her rush to isolate and discredit Challies, she overlooks the fact that he is not alone in coming to that conclusion. There are many of us who completely agree....

Free and Open Exchange

In an effort to support her position, Turner ironically links to an article that actually supports the complete freedom of expression that she attempts to discourage in her own article. The article she links to was excerpted from a book written by her “friend,” Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior. Prior frames her piece with numerous and pertinent quotes from John Milton’s 1644 anti-censorship tract, Areopagitica. She writes that “Milton argued passionately in this treatise that the best way to counteract falsehood is not by suppressing it, but by countering it with the truth.” Prior states that the crux of Milton’s argument is that “truth is stronger than falsehood; falsehood prevails through the suppression of countering ideas, but truth triumphs in a free and open exchange that allows truth to shine.”[6] Exactly! It is in this “free and open exchange” that Laura Turner has the right to say whatever she wants about Jesus Calling, but so does everyone else—even if they don’t happen to be “people who we know” and even if what they are saying and believing is that Jesus Calling is a “dangerous” book.[4]

After this introduction, Warren Smith boldly goes on to exercise his free speech. His booklet tract lists ten reasons why he thinks that Jesus Calling is indeed a “dangerous” book. Hurray for Warren! You can read the rest of his article (published into a booklet) online HERE.[7]  

“Dangerous”?
Why is it so “dangerous” to write a warning that something could be “dangerous”? Laura Turner makes a gigantic leap from exercising free speech into judging it wrongly. In her article she stated that

There is a difference between criticizing a book and calling it “dangerous,” and I think criticism ought to be fair game. But once we call something “dangerous,” we are precluding it from offering any good, and we are saying that our interpretation–our particular slice of Christianity–is the “right” one.[8]

Turner seems to be offended that there are Christians who warn that something is dangerous. To her this means that we are claiming our interpretation “is the ‘right one.’” The implication is that Tim Challies, Warren Smith, Pastor Steve Hudgik,[9] and other critics of Jesus Callingan extrabiblical book that audaciously purports to be the very words of Jesus speaking—are somehow imposing our religion on Turner or practicing censorship. But we aren't! We are merely practicing our right to free speech by publishing a warning. We care enough to inform people that we have read Jesus Calling and think it is a “dangerous” book. That's it!
(Source)
 

Sadly, Turner's generation can't seem to separate out pure freedom of speech, both in writing and speaking, from all of the postmodern “hate speech” mantras about censorship. To be fair, there is a valid reason why the Laura Turner generation may hold this viewpoint. Although the church is charged with teaching the Gospel of salvation (Matthew 28:20), there are certain leaders who over-extend this mandate to coercion. They believe all must obey their ecclesiastical/civil authority. These leaders are called Dominionists, and Laura Turner does get one thing right—most of them are men. This is their intention:

There are but two sorts of dominion;first, that which is internal and spiritual, over the faith, souls, and consciences of men'  and then that which is external, over their bodies and estates.... And two ways there are whereby supreme dominion in and about things sacred may be exercised;one by making laws, ordinances, and institutions, religious or divine; the other by corporeal punishments and corrections of them who observe them not: and both these doth he exercise.[10]

The Herescope blog has warned about the “dangerous” nature of the rapid rise of Christian Dominionism in America the past few decades. As this movement seeks to gain power, there has been an increasing prevalence of aggressive speech that is denigrating, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, dehumanizing, ostentatious, threatening, intimidating, bullying,... the list could go on and on. In fact, we have repeatedly warned about the rise in military warfare rhetoric coming out of Dominionist groups such as C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and Mike Bickle's IHOP.[11] We've actually feared that their provocative warfare speech could turn literal, at which time it could be rightly be construed as “dangerous.” We are not saying that these Dominionists should be censored. They have the right to their free speech and to exercise their freedom of religion. But history is filled with examples of men who desire to rule and reign as “tyrants”[12] over others in the name in Jesus. It is for good reason that many fear their goals.

Note: It is incorrect to assume that anyone who espouses a conservative biblical or political worldview agrees with these strident Dominionists. Unfortunately the political Left and the clueless media often mischaracterize all evangelicals as Dominionists. However, our open publication of  opposition to these leaders is proof that there some are still standing against this movement, albeit a small remnant.

“The Hoax of Free Speech”?[13]
With the freedom of speech comes a corresponding responsibility, especially for those who call themselves Christian believers.  The Bible verses that pertain to the use of the tongue apply to both written communication and spoken speech. For example, to spread gossip, half-truths and lies is not a good testimony. Just do a simple word search on “tongue” and see if you aren't convicted to be more responsible in how you conduct your freedom of speech:
  • “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.” (Ps. 34:13);  
  • “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” (Prov. 12:18);  
  • “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” (James 1:26);  
  • “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5)

And then there is newspeak. When I was a newcomer to the political process during the decade of the 1980s I was trained by some Washington media types to do “spin.”[14] (This would have been the same era when Peggy Noonan was President Reagan's speechwriter.)  I learned how to do “spin doctoring” proficiently, including how to regurgitate pre-determined “talking points” issued by national groups with agendas. As a high profile leader who was frequently interviewed by the local, state and national press, I was expected to learn how to deflect questions by avoiding answering them directly.[15] I was taught how to select certain facts and ignore others, thus presenting forth the best possible image. I have since repented of this, and regret that learning these behaviors became so ingrained that I sometimes catch myself still doing this. Perhaps Peggy Noonan should confess this, too. 

  • “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8);  
  • “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” (1 Peter 3:10)

In our media-saturated world there is now a dearth of decent and kind, not to mention truthful, free speech. The basic elements of politeness and remnants of civility are eroding rapidly, giving rise to commonplace “in your face” obnoxiousness and “gotcha” behaviors. The Internet and social media are crawling with a cacophony of cursing, crazed rants, name-callings, rudeness and other nastiness. And there is a disturbing increase in angry and threatening speech.
Colson Center e-mail, 1/18/16

Furthermore, each day our e-mail accounts are flooded with virulent anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic and/or anti-Hispanic propaganda. Some of the content is obviously photo-shopped. These e-mails are being forwarded by Christians. Seldom have the senders done fact-checking, or searched deeper to find out the agenda behind the people or organizations promoting these agendas. To forward such ramped-up hysteria and bigotry, especially without checking the veracity and source, is tantamount to spreading lies and gossip at best, and contributing to drumming up hatred at worst. Nevertheless, these e-mails represent free speech. Your personal freedom to engage in “censorship” is as easy as clicking your trash icon. You may also wish to confront those who are promulgating such awful fear-mongering.

All of this reminds us of Jesus' words about endtimes in Matthew 24:7, “For nation shall rise against nation,” which in Greek is the word ethnos from which we get our word ethnic or ethnicity. Perhaps this fact alone might make a few people think twice before they push the send button to forward on these incendiary e-mails.

By the way, we have never, ever seen an e-mail of this nature that speaks about the need to share the Gospel of Salvation to those of different ethnicity or religious belief. So... here is a truly radical exercise of your free speech: Why not step outside your comfort zone and gently and peaceably befriend your humanist, pagan, Hispanic or Islamic neighbor? Why not seek an open door to speak to them about Jesus Christ and how He died for our sins? Where is your Gospel? Hiding under a bushel?! (Matthew 5:15)

Be aware that this free exercise of speech is now considered to be “hate speech” by those secularists who would institute their own version of a humanist-dominated church-state. But is the mere act of free speech deemed imposing one's religion on another? Communication 101 teaches that this is a two-way street. Someone may say something you dislike, but you don't have to listen. You can ignore it, rebut it or walk away. Old-timers will remember that parents used to teach their children the little toughening-up ditty: “Stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” What makes public communication abusive? The power to actually bully and coerce, especially if this power originates from the civil or the church authorities. Heaven help us if the two merge into yet another historical manifestation of a church-state.


Karen Swallow Prior, the professor from Liberty University who was quoted by Laura Turner, cited John Milton and his 1644 Areopagitica as a good example of anti-censorship.[16] We would suggest taking it a step further back in history to study the life of Roger Williams, whose life and beliefs influenced Milton and later the First Amendment. Williams is not a popular figure with the Dominionists who, over the past few decades, have resurrected the writings of the old Puritans. Williams stood against these old Puritans while they were trying to build their own church-state. He was continually harrassed by them for boldly declaring the radical ideas of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. “Freedom of conscience was... proclaimed. [Williams'] colony became a safe haven for people who were persecuted for their beliefs, including Baptists, Quakers, and Jews.”[17]    

The Gospel As Free Speech
Many have already written on this topic but it is worth revisiting in today's oppressive climate. The model for every professing believer should always be the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament. The ability to share the Gospel of salvation is inextricably connected to the freedom to speak. This freedom is not extended by civic and church leaders, but by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

First, observe Jesus. In Gospel of John, chapter 8, Jesus told the Pharisees that, “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God....” (John 8:40). The rest of the story is a wonderful teaching lesson as Jesus spoke the truth and the Pharisees resisted it. They got so mad at His words that they wanted to kill Him! From this example we learn there can be a hefty price for daring to tell the truth.

Second, observe Peter and John in the opening chapters of Acts. When these disciples were called before the authorities for preaching the Gospel of Salvation, “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 4:10), they were commanded... not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20). What an astonishing proclamation of free speech!

Furthermore, their imperative to speak the Gospel was imbued with a holy boldness, a miraculous transformation of their nature brought about by the indwelling Holy Spirit. When the two disciples were brought before their council they courageously proclaimed that the 40 year old crippled man had been healed “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.... Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts. 4:10,12)

The reaction of the council is very interesting: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled....” (Acts 4:13). Which brings us back to Laura Turner's article. She made the statement that Theology policing is a job best left to the Holy Spirit, and then to people who we know.” The theological and political incorrectness of Peter and John's qualifications, combined with their assertive proclamations about what constitutes truth, certainly wouldn't fit Turner's criteria. May we all be willing to be considered unlearned and ignorant if it will further the Gospel!

What happens next in the Acts account is illustrative. The the council acted like the Theology Police by threatening the disciples “that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:17-18) The emboldened disciples could not agree to this policy: But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20) Did they then run and hide? Did they shut down and decide to quit speaking? No! The disciples went back to join their little band and they prayed for even more boldness! And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” (Acts 4:29)

God answered their prayers, but there were painful consequences. The two men were quickly arrested and thrown into prison. When the angel opened the prison doors, the angel commanded them to speak even more boldly: Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:20). So, sure enough, the two men obeyed and went back into the temple to teach the people. Once again they were apprehended. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27-29)

At this point and hereafter the bold proclamation of the Gospel became an act of civil/religious disobedience, and the disciples suffered beatings and more jailings as a result. Acts chapter 5 concludes with the words: “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:41-42)

Conclusion
The idea of warning is interlinked with discernment. Practicing discernment is an act of free speech. Warren Smith wrote in his new booklet tract 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book that there is a scriptural responsibility to be discerning, and that we should warn others when we know something is dangerous.

The Bible exhorts believers to be workmen who are not ashamed of what they believe because they are “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Scripture further instructs us to “search the scriptures” to see if the things being presented in a book like Jesus Calling are really “so” (Acts 17:11). Yet Laura Turner writes, “Should we be careful about what we read? I’m not convinced.” But in taking this attitude, she does her readers a great disfavor. While everyone should be free to read what they want to read, what they read should be read very carefully with great discernment—particularly with books that bring alleged “messages” from Jesus Christ Himself. Turner’s article overlooks every warning in the Bible about the danger of being deceived by false Christs and false teachings. While the apostle Paul expressed his “fear” that the Corinthian church could be deceived by false Christs (2 Corinthians 11:3-4), the true Jesus Christ warned that before His return, many would be deceived by false Christs (Matthew 24:3-5).

Warning someone does not mean that we are being Theology Police, nor does it mean we are imposing our view on others, nor are we engaging in censoring. In fact, we are compelled to warn others with a heartfelt attitude of deep humility, grief and tears. Believers experience dangers to their faith, from both without and within. Should we neglect so great a calling (Heb. 2:3)? Particularly when we have prior experience with something that we know firsthand to be dangerous?[18]


The apostle Paul, in his parting words to the elders of the Ephesus church, gave the following admonition, which serves as a good example[19] for all who feel compelled to warn that something is dangerous:

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
(Acts 20:27-31)



Endnotes:
1. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G3954&t=KJV
2. John Owen, D.D. (1616-1683), Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. 3, Reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, page 562. Owen is expounding on Hebrews 3:6, "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." The Bible verse citations in this quotation were updated to reflect modern style.
3. Laura Turner, “Jesus Calling and the Policing of Theology” (Religion News Service, November 12, 2015; http://lauraturner.religionnews.com/2015/11/12/jesus-calling-and-the-policing-of-theology/).
4. Warren B. Smith's NEW BOOKLET TRACT: 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=18852 and http://www.lighthousetrails.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LTP&Product_Code=BKT-WS-10-RS. Note that I took the liberty of altering the original footnote numbers in Smith's text to adapt his citations to this blog posting. Warren Smith also published his concerns about Sarah Young's Jesus in his book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. See http://herescope.blogspot.com/2015/12/merry-christmas-from-sarah-youngs-false.html and http://herescope.blogspot.ca/2013/11/another-jesus-calling.html.
5. Tim Challies, “10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling” (November 11, 2015, http://www.challies.com/articles/10-serious-problems-with-jesus-calling).
6. Karen Swallow Prior, “Promiscuous Reading” (Posted at The Well, an InterVarsity online outreach to women, http://thewell.intervarsity.org/arts-books-media/promiscuous-reading).

7. Warren B. Smith, 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book, Lighthouse Trails, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=18852. Also see the following Herescope posts where we have previously published concerns about Jesus Calling: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2015/12/merry-christmas-from-sarah-youngs-false.html and http://herescope.blogspot.ca/2013/11/another-jesus-calling.html and
http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/01/knock-knock.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/01/how-can-i-experience-presence-of-jesus.html.
8. Turner, Ibid.
9. Pastor Steve Hudgik authored and published RUN! It's Jesus Calling! Why You Should Throw Away Your Copy of Jesus Calling. See the Herescope posts: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/01/knock-knock.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/01/how-can-i-experience-presence-of-jesus.html. Pastor Steve Hudgik's book RUN! It's Jesus Calling can be purchased on Amazon. Here is the direct link: http://www.amazon.com/RUN-Its-Jesus-Calling-Should/dp/1517766869
10. Owen, op cit, p. 568.
11. See the following Herescope posts, for example: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-battled-bride.html; http://herescope.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-battled-bride.html; http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/07/ihops-new-breed-leaders.html; http://herescope.blogspot.com/2005/12/spiritual-war-fare.html; http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/06/techno-dimensional-prayer-combat.html; http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/04/joels-army-is-recruiting.html; http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/emerging-apostolic-movement-will-be.html; http://herescope.blogspot.de/2011/10/c-peter-wagner.html.
12. Owen actually uses this descriptive term, contrasting it to a humble and obedient servant of the Lord. 
13. This phrase is found in the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song, Caribbean Wind. Warren Smith pointed this phrase out to us. 
14. Spin (public relations): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spin_(public_relations), links removed. 
15. I was the President of Iowa Right to Life Committee in the years leading up to the 1988 Iowa caucuses. I have also had firsthand experience with many of the leading Dominionists.  
16. Karen Swallow Prior, Ibid. 
17. The current Wikipedia entry for Roger Williams is quite an interesting read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Williams
18. Warren Smith has a powerful testimony of coming out of the New Age movement. He knows firsthand the voice of a false Jesus. Therefore his warnings in his book and booklet tracts about the false Jesus of Sarah Young's Jesus Calling are especially poignant, and should be all the more seriously heeded. 
19. We highly recommend Pastor Anton Bosch's book Contentiously Contending for those who are seeking to learn what the Bible says about how to contend for the faith. See http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/07/contentiously-contending.html. Pastor Bosch says, in part, that his book was written because "I am deeply concerned that many who involve themselves in these ministries do so for the wrong reasons and/or with the wrong attitude. In the process they cause more damage than the very error they are trying to correct. My intention with these humble words is not to discredit or discourage those who sound the alarm, but to exhort such to use the right methods, with the right attitude."
  

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ecumenical Quest

The Rise of Modern Dominionism
HERE and HERE
Before the Religious Right there were decades of activity laying the groundwork for a merger of church and state. Power elite leaders such as John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen began to drum up religious fervor as a tool to build their utopian vision of a global international order. Their influential efforts would eventually gain more traction during the Eisenhower administration where both of these brothers ascended to prominent positions of power. By 1980 their vision would culminate in the rise of the Christian Right.

This fascinating early history is now more readily available to readers. Dr. Martin Erdmann has just re-released his landmark study on the earliest efforts to build the kingdom of God on earth, otherwise known as Dominionism.  His book is now offered online under a new title, Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation. The book is available HERE and HEREDr. Erdmann's work was originally titled Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches' Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf and Stock, 2005).

Dr. Erdmann's access to files and records was unprecedented. He had access to all of the source documents on the Round Table Group which are deposited at [Cecil] Rhodes House (this is the library of the Rhodes Trust which awards the Rhodes Scholarships) and freely available to the students of Oxford University (not to the general public). It is one of the libraries of Oxford University (the Rhodes Trust is located in the same building).


Dr. Erdmann was also able to gain access to other difficult-to-obtain source documents at the British Library which are not available to the general public. (He reports that at times he was asked to go to a special room under guard and only allowed to read the documents, but not to take notes; before he left the room, he had to give the documents back to the guard.)

The results of his hard labor in securing access to these rare documents is extraordinary. The early history of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is recorded, as well as key history that is normally missing from standardized (and sanitized) historical accounts of the activities of the Dulles brothers during their years in power. This original vision is summarized in a letter written by Lord Lothian:
"I am convinced that when Christianity reaches the point when it is able to bring the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth it will establish a world federation of some novel kind as the necessary institutional condition by which alone the Kingdom can be maintained in being."
Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation details how in 1934 the Federal Council of Churches (FCC) began a grassroots public relations campaign to further the Social Gospel during the Roosevelt administration. Their end goal was to create groundswell for another international organization (what eventually became the United Nations) to replace the faulty League of Nations. Dr. Erdmann examines how a doctrine about building the kingdom of God on earth was promulgated at the 1937 Oxford Conference:
A new commitment to the concept of the kingdom of God on earth needed to be generated among the people at large and from the constituencies of the member churches, a commitment that had been notably absent for some time. Unless the Council succeeded in mobilising a grassroots movement of socially conscious Christians it would never realise the goals set out in the Social Creed. Thus the new emphasis on propagating the principles of the Social Creed was again designed to attain the kingdom of God on earth rather than to reach lost souls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.



The old Social Gospel, which has now morphed into the Neoevangelical call for a Cultural Mandate, hearkens back to Samuel Z. Batten's 1919 book,  The New World Order, and his idea of creating heaven on earth, "to make all things new and to create a new social order." Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation quotes a theologian who "thought Dulles had evolved his own form of 'secularized Calvinism'." This sounds very similar to the New Apostolic Reformation's (NAR) call for taking over societal institutions, often called the 7 Mountain Mandate, which is historically connected to the Neo-Calvinist vision (e.g., Tim Keller) to take over cities with a church-state social welfare "gospel". (Read: Mainstreaming Dominionism and The Cell Church.)

Below are sample excerpts from Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation where Dr. Erdmann details John Foster Dulles' plans to promote a new church narrative to facilitate building a new world order:
By using the ecumenical movement as the preferred vehicle to express his opinions, Dulles chose, as his primary target group, the Christian public in the English-speaking world. His goal was to motivate the churches to become actively involved in building a global society.…
Advocating the need for a unified world with unrelenting fervour in Church circles from the late 1930s to the mid 1940s he elevated the issue of a world federation to the status of a religious concern of first importance. At the end of the Second World War he would explicitly state: 'To create the moral foundation for world order was… the foremost task of the churches.' Based on that 'moral foundation' a social structure would emanate which would be characterised by peace, justice, and equality....
Dulles outlined the basic concepts of peaceful change and attacked what he regarded to be an unhealthy and obsolete concept of national sovereignty.… Human egotism could only be offset, he asserted, by superseding it with ‘some sentiment more dominant and gripping which would contain in it the elements of universality as against particularity.’ No other organization would be as uniquely qualified to accomplish this task as the Church…. Dulles idealized the Christian Church as an exemplary community which had demonstrated the ability to transcend the limitations of the nation state….
During the 1930s the Federal Council Bulletin urged its audience to propagate the social gospel. It exhorted its readers to reject any notion that there was a basic conflict between the preaching of the gospel as such and the need to make known the Social Creed of the FCC. The Federal Council knew that unless it could secure a deep dedication to the ethical principles of the Gospel, and a deep commitment to the Jesus who was presented as the living embodiment of these ethical ideals, there would be no motivating power for Christians to struggle for the realization of the kingdom of God in the national life. Without adhering to basic Scriptural concepts, therefore, the Council’s social appeals were couched in biblical terminology. Although mentioning the sin problem frequently, it was usually in the context of sins against society rather than sins against God. Regeneration was masterfully redefined as a new social awareness. The substitutionary atonement of Christ upon the cross was deemed insignificant and was rarely if ever mentioned. The Reformation dictum, that humankind can find peace with God only by being justified by faith, was simply ignored as without relevance.
Credible historical research requires examining original source documents as much as possible. If this is not possible, then historians rely upon eyewitness accounts and authenticated secondhand sources. The exhaustive footnotes in Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation provide overwhelming evidence that the facts laid out in this book are not conspiracy theory. This is what makes Dr. Erdmann's book so interesting. There is compelling history in this book that cannot be found elsewhere. Particularly in recent years there has been an influx of historical books detailing the years surrounding World War II as government files have opened up. Yet the history found in these books is often so scrubbed that they reek of bleach.

Dr. Erdmann is to be commended for his fortitude. In modern academia there are increasingly severe constraints and censures regarding publishing the sort of history that is contained in Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation.  There is an ongoing problem with tunnel vision. Many historians neglect to examine the full picture, nor do they question when there are obvious missing details, dismissive summaries, or an obviously slanted account. A good historical researcher needs to be a bit obsessive-compulsive. Facts that are uncomfortable, or don't fit a preconceived idea, need to be dealt with even if they are repulsive or formidable -- or politically incorrect. A good historian must possess courage to stand against the tide of postmodern revisionist narratives.

We have often observed significant omissions in the historical research on the rise of Dominionism. First, the history is being written by the opposition: one need only look at the skewed and slanted entry for Dominionism (labeled "Dominion Theology") on Wikipedia to see a prime example of this problem. (Read our posts Who Invented Dominionism? and Denying Dominionism.) Second, most critics of Dominionism come from the political Left. In addition to the myopia of their personal biases, they typically look at the issue through the tunnel vision of the political/religious activities of the Christian Right during the past few decades. However, it is our studied opinion that they are missing the decades of controversial activism that went on before. Earlier history reveals that the political Left is just as much to blame for the rise of Dominionism as the current Christian Right.
Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation is must-reading for those who have a curiosity about what went on before. It also fills a very valuable gap in historical research on the rise of the "church and state" Dominionism during the turn of the last century through the 1940s. The original vision of the Dulles brothers and their internationalist ecumenical cohorts never died. It has just been updated and re-cast into new molds.
Dr. Erdmann has been an active member of the Discernment Research Group. His book and/or his historical research have influenced or been cited in many previous Herescope posts, including:

The CFR and the Social Gospel: Part 1
The Emergent Social Gospel
Collectively Bearing the Sins of the World 
The Social Gospel 7.0 
Rick Warren & the CFR Revisited 
The new "do good" gospel 
Rick Warren & Brian McLaren at DAVOS 
The New Order of the Kingdom
The "New Deal" Kingdom
"The Peaceful Conquest of the World"* Circa 1929
Marshalling Christians for the Coming "Conflict"
The Dialectic of War and P.E.A.C.E.
PSEUDO-MISSION: The Global C.H.U.R.C.H
PSEUDO-MISSION: Syncretism Ethics & Moral Facades
PSEUDO-MISSION: Creating A "Social Ethic" Worldview
Creating a "Community of Purpose" -- circa 1933
Global Dominionism: Past and Present
Who Invented Dominionism?
Denying Dominionism
Technocracy, Transhumanism, Mythology, & Hollywood

Julian Charles interviews Martin Erdmann on the message of the “Kingdom of God” Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation LISTEN / DOWNLOAD : TMR 017 : Interview : Building the Kingdom of God on Earth