Thursday, May 19, 2016

Azusa or Pentecost?

Now, Then or Later?


By Pastor Gary Osborne

“In the last days I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh.”
(Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17)

I'm unashamedly a Christian that believes God is still pouring out His Spirit on all flesh. I believe that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is as real and valid today as it was nearly 2,000 years ago on the day of Pentecost. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit. I am, to be blunt, a full Gospel Christian. This type of personal background isn't something I normally feel compelled to share when I write articles for Christian publications. But I think it's both justified and important in this instance. I believe examining an event that calls itself “Azusa Now” warrants disclosure. Some have already weighed in on this recent gathering, and more will undoubtedly follow. But many will scrutinize it from a theologically benign, or even hostile, position that denies the Spirit of God is still being poured out in the same manner as in the first century A.D. I'm not one of those people. This article will not be prejudiced by a cessationist mindset. So having laid that groundwork, let's examine “Azusa Now.”

On April 9th an event was held in Los Angeles, California called “Azusa Now” in the L.A. Coliseum. It boasted hosts such as Lou Engle, Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, Heidi Baker, Todd White, Daniel Kolenda, and Shawn Bolz—names all well known as leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement that has its roots in the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God. In fact, Bill Johnson's Bethel website stated that this “Azusa Now” ministry “is partnering with Lou Engle’s The Call to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the Azusa Street Outpouring.”[1] It was reported that this event was attended by nearly 100,000 people, and it lasted for some 15 hours while individuals prayed and worshipped, asking God to send another “Azusa” revival.

For those who don't know about the significance of this, a small amount of background is in order. In the summer of 1906 a relatively new congregation was meeting at the Apostolic Faith Mission on 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, when a time of revival broke out. From these meetings entirely new fellowships and denominations sprang forth, including the Assemblies of God. It was undoubtedly something that changed the landscape of Christianity in America, and eventually around the world.
Lou Engle describing a dream at Azusa Now (Source)

Now, some 110 years later, NAR self-styled “apostles” Lou Engle and Bill Johnson have tried to recreate that original event with “Azusa Now.” Their expressed purpose was, and is (because they consider this an ongoing movement), “to believe for a fresh outpouring of signs, wonders, miracles and the proclamation of the gospel!” And this recent event was, of course, filled with the obligatory “signs” that always accompany this type of spiritual jamboree. For example, the bizarre sight of watching Shawn Bolz call out “words of knowledge” to people in the audience with a cell phone that apparently already had all the “words” on it.[3] Or the appearance of a giant gold angel standing over L.A.[4] And an event like this wouldn't be complete without some example of ecumenism—this time in the form of Lou Engle prostrating himself to the ground to kiss the feet of Roman Catholic leader Matteo Calisi, appointed by Pope Benedict to serve on the Pontifical Council for the Laity.[5]
 
Christianity Today article with image of prostrate Engle (Source)

In fact, Azusa Now suffers badly from the same “Kingdom Now” teachings that so many previous events have taught. These NAR leaders are well known for holding Dominionist theology, and their beliefs drive these types of assemblies. They are seeking to network with other groups and leaders that share these beliefs.[6] Specifically—along with the characteristic signs, wonders, and so-called prophetic words—this gathering also sought to emphasize ecumenism, as clearly demonstrated in this statement from the The Cry Movement's “Azusa Now” webpage:

“In our deeply divided world, perhaps the greatest miracle is love. Sadly, by 1916, the original Azusa Street Revival had officially ended. Segregation once again fractured the fragile unity of the Church, dividing God's children along the very same color lines previously and gloriously erased by the Holy Spirit. Even so, the flames of Azusa led to various renewal movements that spread like wildfire across the U.S. and abroad. Over the last 110 years, these movements have helped to produce more salvations than the previous 19 centuries combined! If the kingdom has expanded in spite of our division, how much more could it achieve in unity? 

We need a true jubilee of love and mercy to sweep our land. A dark question looms over our children's future: riots or revival? The only answer is to be found in Christ. Prayer, love and unity remain the Acts 2 template for breakthrough. On April 9, 2016, join a great multi-ethnic, multi-denominational, multi-generational assembly as we strike a match for awakening in our day. It's not just Azusa then. It's Azusa Now.”[7]

This type of all-inclusive spiritual undertaking, under the guise of ethnic, economical and/or denominational unity, is seemingly always being called for—or “prophesied”—as being on the proverbial doorstep. And while true Christian unity should be a heartfelt desire of all believers, the focus and the solution of the NAR always seems to be under the guise of some large-scale ecumenical movement that obliterates doctrine.
Bill Johnson discusses the original Azusa (Source)

The biblical reality is that people are changed one by one when they are genuinely converted by Jesus Christ.

Is unity important? Absolutely! This was our Lord Jesus Christ's prayer in John 17, where He prayed for such unity among His followers (verses 20-23):

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”[8]

Christian unity is firmly rooted in what Jesus prayed directly before these words. In verses17-19 He prays to the Father:

“Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”[9]
 
Lou Engle: "...we release a great beholding of Jesus..."
(Source)

Any kind of spiritual unity attempted through another “way” other than the Truth is doomed from the outset. How can Engle, Johnson, and the other NAR leaders speak of unity when they are willing to bow and kiss the feet of a Catholic? Where is the truth in that? I cannot walk hand in hand with people under the banner of Jesus Christ if they are worshipping another Jesus. Or, even if they claim to be worshipping the same Jesus that I am, but yet are contradicting the Word of God over and over again with their doctrines and practices, I cannot walk in unity with them. Paul spoke strongly about this in his letter to the Galatians.

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”[10]

So ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture, and despite serious theological differences, the men and women who planned and led the Azusa Now event in L.A. have attempted to link arms in unity with those who preach another gospel.[11] For instance, read the words of Dean Briggs and note his blatant advocacy of ecumenism:
“In the invisible realm, intercessors of every stripe—evangelical, charismatic, Pentecostal and Catholic—felt the silver cord tremble in our hands. If prayerless vacuums have been responsible for eventually swallowing every previous revival, then the patient wisdom of God has been made plain. The Holy Spirit has preemptively architected a massive, global Worship-Prayer-and-Missions movement. Could this sustain the next wave in perpetuity unto His return?”[12]

Again, this cannot be the basis of unity! The early Church was unified as it “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Azusa Now fails horribly in this regard.

Nevertheless, I think the bigger question is whether a revival, or true work of God, can even be orchestrated and planned out like Azusa Now. This is, to me, the crux of the issue. Can we recreate sovereign moves of God? Well, Lou Engle states that this movement has been in the works for years in the short video he hosts on Bethel's “Azusa Now” page. Engle says that a “prophecy” was given in his living room that a “shift” would be coming to his ministry, stadiums would be filled, and that Billy Graham's “mantle” was coming on the nation.[14]

Shawn Bolz "calling out words of knowledge" at Azusa Now (Source)

But this type of “prophecy” has been given many times before. I remember back in the 1990s when a host of TV evangelists and Latter Rain teachers spoke of filling stadiums with people that would supposedly come to the Lord by the thousands.[15] This is not a new declaration. And while I would be the first in line with interceding for souls to be saved, a scheduled national “revival” is simply not something one can command God to do.

Yes, we can seek the Lord for personal revival. We can renew our first love, as Jesus called the church as Ephesus to seek for, at any time. We can band together with other believers and pray for God to fill us afresh with His Holy Spirit, as the church at Ephesus was exhorted to do by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:18. But this is a far cry from “declaring” or “decreeing” a supposed prophetic word from Almighty God that stadiums will be filled, and then schedule an appointed time for God to show up!

So often with these types of meetings the NAR/Latter Rain “prophets” introduce some spiritualized schedule and then ask God to bless it. This thinking is completely wrong. What we need to do is go to the Lord, in complete humility, and simply seek Him. He blesses His plan and His schedule, not ours.


But Azusa Now tried to manipulate the Sovereign Lord. They all tell Him when He should show up, performing signs and wonders for the spectators. This has been attempted many times by those in charismatic circles down through the years. And it always ends the same way, with a stadium filled with people clamoring for something “more”—anything—that might somehow “prove” that God actually came down in power and might.

I've witnessed this firsthand, observing men like Rodney Howard-Browne and Todd Bentley. And every time the so-called “signs and wonders” are poor excuses for genuine, biblical miracles. Someone is always healed of a migraine headache, or a sore back. A generic “word” is given that could apply to almost anyone for any reason. Or, if the operation is really sophisticated, some information about specific people in the crowd may have been stealthily gleaned and then disseminated to an astounded audience. (Peter Popoff is an example that comes to mind, illustrating what I'm talking about.[17]) And, of course, in such orchestrated circumstances the person that gets up out of the wheelchair is never a true cripple.

Oh, don't get me wrong. I know the Lord does heal and perform miracles today. I know of legitimate, incredible healings and miracles. But I've never seen one at these types of events, and I've been to a lot of them over the last 35 years.[18]

So should we be declaring that God is going to bring a huge revival to us in a specific way, at a specific place, and at specific time—all of our own choosing—because that's where, when and how it happened last time? I'm reminded of what A.W. Tozer said about such calls for revival:

“Our mistake is that we want God to send revival on our terms. We want to get the power of God into our hands, to call it to us that it may work for us in promoting and furthering our kind of Christianity. We want still to be in charge, guiding the chariot through the religious sky in the direction we want it to go, shouting ‘Glory to God,’ it is true, but modestly accepting a share of the glory for ourselves in a nice inoffensive sort of way. We are calling on God to send fire on our altars, completely ignoring the fact that they are our altars and not God’s. And like the prophets of Baal we are working ourselves into a frenzy as if we could by violence command the arm of the Almighty.”[19]

Azusa Now is the poster child for everything Tozer said we should NOT do when it comes to revival.

Bill Johnson leading Azusa Now (Source)

Even still there is error in the Azusa Now phenomenon that is more profound than its silly “signs,” its rampant ecumenism, or its prophesying and then scheduling a national move of God. No, the deeper issue is in trying to duplicate a previous event in church history at all. What biblical rationale is there for attempting to re-create any spiritual undertakings outside of the pages of Scripture?

If we believe that the message of Pentecost, as defined in the book of Acts as well as the rest of the New Testament, is for today, why should we be trying to replicate some experience from 100 years ago? Such thinking is severely flawed, yet the Azusa Now crowd pushes this idea to the hilt. Lou Engle stated that
“William Seymour, the catalyst of that great revival, prophesied in 1913 that in roughly 100 years another revival far eclipsing Azusa would come. The fulfillment of Seymour's word is overdue... or right on schedule. Let us therefore ‘pray for the rain in the time of the latter rain.’ Who knows? Maybe like those who were baptized in the Spirit in the original Acts 2 upper room, we will say, ‘This is that which was spoken by William Seymour the prophet!’”[20]

Imagine that! Instead of the prophet Joel and the Apostle Peter, people are going to William Seymour and putting alleged statements by him on the same level as the Word of God itself. What folly! And the truth of the matter is there's no reason for such a statement or mindset. Read again what Peter said on the day of Pentecost nearly 2,000 years ago:

“But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 

“‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, 
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; 
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, 
Your young men shall see visions, 
Your old men shall dream dreams. 
And on My menservants and on My maidservants 
I will pour out My Spirit in those days; 
And they shall prophesy. 
I will show wonders in heaven above 
And signs in the earth beneath: 
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 
The sun shall be turned into darkness, 
And the moon into blood, 
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 
And it shall come to pass 
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’”[21]

Note that Peter links the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to the “last days.” And he states that the culmination of the Last Days is “the great and awesome day of the Lord.” The conclusion to Joel's prophecy has clearly not taken place yet. The sun has not been turned into darkness and the moon has not turned into blood (in spite of some predictions to the contrary of recent). This is a reference to the end of the tribulation period and the ultimate return of Jesus Christ at Armageddon (Rev. 19). And since we haven't seen those events occur, this means we are still in the “last days” that actually began at Pentecost. And this, in turn, means that God is still saving “whoever calls on the name of the Lord” and baptizing people in His Holy Spirit.

Nothing has changed in almost 2,000 years. It is ongoing. Pentecost has never stopped! It continues today. What we have often called national revivals—whether it be the 1st Great Awakening, the 2nd Great Awakening, the original Azusa Street Revival, etc.—are nothing more and nothing less than the ongoing work of God pouring out His Spirit in these “last days.”

So why would we try to duplicate any subsequent revival or awakening that takes place beyond the biblical history that is written in the New Testament? There are a couple of problems with this line of thinking. Firstly, as I've noted previously a prior event may or may not have been genuine. It's as simple as that. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. And secondly, and just as importantly, there is no need to do so because God has not changed, and His program continues because we are still in the “last days.”

The crowds at Asuza Now (Source)

Yet Azusa Now was aiming at the tens of thousands! The “big one” as they say when referencing both earthquakes and heart attacks. They have even claimed that a “Second Pentecost” of a “Presence” is coming.[22]

It is true that thousands were added to the true Church on the day of Pentecost. And after that we are told “the Lord added to the Church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). From that initial ingathering of souls we read in Acts that numerous people in Samaria were saved and then filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8); individuals were also saved one by one, such as the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8) and Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9); and that small gatherings of people were saved (Acts 10) and filled with the Spirit (Acts 19). But neither settings nor numbers were important in the biblical narrative. And I read of no occasion when any of the disciples planned out or announced far in advance that stadiums of people in specific locations would be saved. No, they simply went about their business of being led by the Spirit of God and proclaiming the Gospel to any and all the encountered.

I'd also note that nowhere in the New Testament do we ever read of Peter, John, James, Paul, or any one else trying to duplicate the day of Pentecost. At no time were they insisting that people from outside of Jerusalem come back to the city and reassemble in the same upper room.[23] Nowhere were they insisting that the “tongues of fire” that initially came down on the 120 be expected or encouraged. Rather, we read in Scripture that men and women who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ also trusted God for His promise to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

That's it. No theatrics. No orchestrations. No priming people to expect specific “signs and wonders,” as was being claimed in the advertisements for Azusa Now.

Azusa Now was a rock concert (Source)

What does the Bible teach? Simply repent, believe in Jesus, and then be filled with His Spirit.

I heard a story awhile back from a minister who mentioned meeting with a small group of Christians in a mountain village in a country in Asia. He asked them a thought-provoking question that I think applies to the Azusa Now movement. He saw that the Lord was blessing this small group in a far away land, with no real technology or modern “evangelistic” know-how, and asked them what they thought of the Church in America. Their answer surprised him (and me). They told him that as best they could tell the Church in America seems to always develop an agenda on how they will get the work of the Lord done and then afterwards ask God to bless their plan. These small village believers, on the other hand, go to God with nothing and simply ask Him what His agenda is, in full accordance with His revealed will already outlined in the Scriptures, and then carry it out in His wisdom, power and strength. That's all they needed to make a difference in their village.

And that's still true for us today. God has already given us His agenda in His Word. And He's given us the power to accomplish it by pouring out the Holy Spirit that we might be witnesses for Him. There's no manipulating or planning out mighty moves of God on some regional, national or international level. At times He sovereignly does this as He wills. But we can't plan it!

Azusa Now? No. Azusa later or yet to come? No. How about a new and improved Pentecost now? No. Is God still doing the same thing He's been doing since the day of Pentecost? Absolutely! And that's where I'll keep my focus—on God's Word and in lifting up Jesus Christ. I pray you do as well.

Endnotes:
1. http://bethelredding.com/calendar/azusa-now 
2. Ibid. 
3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC6sCweWaNI 
4. http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/56395-jeff-jansen-sees-huge-gold-angel-at-azusa-now 
5. http://christiannews.net/2016/04/10/lou-engle-of-the-call-prostrates-himself-kisses-foot-of-catholic-leader-as-act-of-reconciliation/ 
6. http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/02/7-mountain-politics-and-theology.html 
7. http://thecrymovement.com/wp/azusanow/ 
8. The New King James Version. (Jn 17:20–23) 
9. The New King James Version. (Jn 17:17–19) 
10. The New King James Version. (Ga 1:6–10) 
11. See documentation here: http://www.piratechristian.com/berean-examiner/azusa-redux-lou-engle-greg-laurie-uniting-denominations 
12. http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prayer/25523-azusanow-the-power-of-the-silver-cord-between-heaven-and-earth 
13. The New King James Version. (Ac 2:42) 
14. http://bethelredding.com/calendar/azusa-now 
15. Read: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-significance-of-youth-filled.html 
16. Read: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/04/may-day-prayers.html 
17. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Popoff 
18. For example, I wrote a 5-part series for Herescope blog titled “Lakeland’s Recycled Revival.” 
Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5
19. A.W. Tozer, The Size of the Soul (Camp Hill, PA: Wingspread, 1992), 5. 
20. Elijah List Email Update dated March 30, 2016. 
21. The New King James Version. (Ac 2:16–21). 
22. See Dr. Orrel Steinkamp’s report: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-second-pentecost.html and read the 6-part article series “The Passion of the Presence” that begins here: 
Read Part 1
Read Part 2
Read Part 3
Read Part 4
Read Part 5

Read Part 6
23. http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/02/geographical-heresies-of-new-apostolic.html

Reprinted with the permission of the author. Originally published in the March-April-May 2016 issue of the Discernment Newsletter (Vol. 27, No. 2), http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL2016MarAprMay.pdf  Additional graphic illustrations were added for blog posting. 

NOTE: Discernment Ministries has been writing about these false revival issues since 1990. See the newsletter archive page: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/newsletters.html

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Nudge Not Lest Ye Be Nudged

The Word of God is Clear… Until it’s Not 

https://onetablefuller.com

Commentary by Pastor Jim Jenkins


I love Fridays. There are predictable events. They will offer clam chowder at your favorite restaurant. Perhaps it is pizza night. School’s out for the weekend and… The mullahs are whipping up the obligatory “Death to America” chants at Friday prayers. Oh, and the federal government will announce its most odious dictates just in time to catch everyone distracted. 

President Obama, who is ostensibly responsible for protecting the United States (while Russian and Chinese fighters are buzzing our naval ships unchallenged) ‘ordered’ (another report used the word ‘decreed’) public schools (those that receive federal funds) to immediately make the necessary adjustments to see to it that the bathrooms are accessible to any student who self-identifies as the opposite sex. 

There was an immediate, albeit tepid response from someone claiming to be a spokesman for evangelicals that, “We haven’t given the process enough time.” He went on, “Why, we took longer to decide on what should be included in the Food Pyramid.” Note, he didn’t say this is wrong. Merely that he and others like him weren’t quite ready for the inevitable blowback. 
https://onetablefuller.com

Pictured above is an announcement of an event which took place at Fuller Seminary in 2014. The ONETABLE group–a recognized student group of LGBT students advertised its event by starting with the trailer, The Word of God is clear… until it’s not. 

For a number of years now I have been trying to get people to realize that there is an inevitable trajectory to this relentless onslaught of lawlessness. “The love of the many will wax cold, said Jesus in Matthew 24. This, He said, would be the direct result of “the increase in lawlessness.” 

I want to first of all acknowledge people like Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, and Paul Smith, New Evangelicalism: The New World Order, and others who were prophetic when they predicted that we would end up here once we abandoned the centuries old belief that the Bible is inerrant. How else could the largest evangelical seminary in the world countenance an event of a student organization which posits that the Word of God is unclear when it comes to something as basic as gender? 

What I say next could be dismissed as some sort of conspiracy theory. Let the reader decide. 
(Source)

The very verbiage of the ONETABLE[1] organization at Fuller belies the fact that there is collusion and social engineering going on in our culture at such a breathtaking level that we should all be alarmed. Here are some facts. 

The Obama administration has used more social scientists and behavioral psychologists than any administration in history. “President Obama has announced a new executive order on Tuesday which authorizes federal agencies to conduct behavioral experiments on U.S. citizens in order to advance government initiatives.”[2]

The new program is the end result of a policy proposal the White House floated in 2013 entitled ‘Strengthening Federal Capacity of BehavioraI Insights.’ 

The initiative draws on research from University of Chicago economist Richard Thayer and Harvard law school professor Cass Sunstein, who was also dubbed Obama’s regulatory Czar. The two behavioral scientists argued in their 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, that government policies can be designed in such a way that ‘nudges’ citizens towards certain behaviors and choices. The desired choices almost always advance the goals of the federal government.”[3]
(Source)

Back to the wording of the Fuller LGBT group…

I knew something about the ad sounded familiar. Do you remember when all the children from Central America showed up at the southern border of the U.S.? Remember how it was touted as a humanitarian crisis and that there just happened to be a number of church groups that took in the children? The Obama administration had reached out years before to a group of self-appointed evangelical leaders. I remember the chill I got when the president had a press conference and said “I don’t know what the big deal is, law enforcement is on board with it… the military is onboard… and we’ve got the evangelicals…” 

The name of the group of so-called evangelicals was The Evangelical Immigration Table. It was headed up by the likes of Jim Wallis, a radical leftist crony of Obama whose organization Sojourners[4] got grant money from none other than George Soros.[5]

Around the same time this occurred, I heard something streamed from the convention of the denomination I served for over thirty years. A pastor got up and declared (he had actually mailed it in it before the convention) that he had a word from Jesus. He was allowed to give it at a plenary session of the convention. In essence he said that “If the group did not welcome the LGBT community to the table that Jesus would withdraw His presence from them.” 

The next day an elder stood up with the man with his arms around him and said, “We really don’t want to diminish this man’s growing influence or diminish his voice. In his zeal, he just ‘over-spoke.’

Can you in good conscience deny that the progressives have not only infiltrated the church, but that the church has become an echo chamber for ‘Nudges’ in the direction of apostasy? 
OneShower? [6]


The ‘Nudge’ crew clearly thought the image of the Table was a winner. You know, like the communion table. They will not stop until they declare that God created homosexuality and that the Bible is merely a genre of literature that has evolved. 

The Word of God is clear… until it’s not? 

No. 

“The Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword piercing to the division of joints and marrow, soul and spirit and discerning the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.”
(Heb. 4:12)

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Cor. 6:9-11[7]

Endnotes:
1. https://onetablefuller.com, emphasis mine
2. Chuck Ross, Daily Caller, 9/15/2015, http://dailycaller.com/2015/09/15/president-obama-orders-behavioral-experiments-on-american-public/
3. Ibid.
4. See Herescope articles about Jim Wallis: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/03/covenant-for-civility.html, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/08/denying-dominionism.html,  and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/10/emerging-order.html
5. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Soros. Remember to pray for this man. 
6. This graphic and satirical comment was added to this article. See: "The Minnesota Child Protection League published a full-page in the sports section of the Star Tribune recently that depicted a school locker room and posed a question to parents: 'A male wants to shower beside your 14-year-old daughter. Are YOU ok with that?'” http://eagnews.org/minnesota-mulls-policy-to-allow-transgender-boys-to-shower-in-girls-locker-room/ and also see "MADISON GESIOTTO: Blurred lines: Will boys be allowed to shower with girls?" May 12, 2016, The Washington Times, http://license.icopyright.net/user/viewFreeUse.act?fuid=MjI1MDIwMzc=
7. These verses from 1 Corinthians were added to the commentary.  

Dr. Jim Jenkins is the author of Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? (Deep River Books, 2014). See: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/02/fatal-drift.html and also read http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/03/mind-numbing-narratives.html.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Slackerly Sloths


“Concerning whom we have many things to speak,
and difficult to be explained,
seeing you are become slothful in hearing
[or dull of hearing]

(Hebrews 5:11)[1] 

sloth (n.) 
late 12c., "indolence, sluggishness," formed from Middle English slou, slowe (see slow (adj.)) + abstract formative -th (2). Replaced Old English slæwð "sloth, indolence." Sense of "slowness, tardiness" is from mid-14c.
The slow-moving mammal first so called 1610s, a translation of Portuguese preguiça "slowness, slothfulness," from Latin pigritia "laziness"....[2]

The opposite of the biblical diligence is the idea of sloth.  The sloth mammal was aptly named because its habits so matched the biblical description! 
They are named after the capital sin of sloth because they seem slow and lazy at first glance; however, their usual idleness is due to metabolic adaptations for conserving energy.[3]
These cute smiling creatures have some very curious characteristics. It is an interesting fact that sloths accumulate many odd things on their fur that can weigh them down:
Sloths make good habitats for other organisms, and a single sloth may be home to moths, beetles, cockroaches, fungi, ciliates, and algae....  [T]he fur hosts two species of symbiotic algae, which provide camouflage. Because of the algae, sloth fur is a small ecosystem of its own, hosting many species of non-parasitic insects.[4]
A sloth's metabolism is unusually slow:
As much as two-thirds of a well-fed sloth's body weight consists of the contents of its stomach, and the digestive process can take a month or more to complete.... [T]hey have very low metabolic rates (less than half of that expected for a mammal of their size), and maintain low body temperatures....[5]
The habits of sloths are very interesting:
Some sloths stay in the same tree for years. Their huge hooked claws and long arms allow them to spend most of their time hanging upside-down from trees. Since they have a slow metabolism, they need very little food.... Sloths also sleep upside-down for up to 18 hours at a time.[6]

Becoming slothful seems to be the opposite of exercising discernment! “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thess. 5:6)

In these last days we are increasingly tempted to be slothful, i.e., dull of hearing the Word of God. Many things consume away our time and attention, including the ubiquitous personal technological devices we are becoming addicted to. Are you still walking with the Lord or with your portable devices? Are you still studying the Word of God with due diligence and application?

Below is a commentary about being “slothful.” It serves as a timely and perceptive admonition to us today.


Seeing ye are slothful,” “slow,” or “dull in hearing.” νωθρός. This word is nowhere used in the New Testament but here and chapter 6:12, where we render it “slothful,” …one that is not easily stirred or moved, heavy, slothful, inactive, dull,” as opposed to him that is diligent in his business; as Prov. 22:29…. 

…ἀκοή is used both for the “ear,” the “faculty of hearing,” the “act of hearing,” and “things heard.” Wherefore “slothful in hearing,” which the apostle declares the fault of these Hebrews, is a metaphorical expression. ‘You are,’ saith he, ‘in hearing of the word, like slothful persons, who do no work, accomplish no endeavours, attain no good end, because of their earthly, dull, inactive constitutions and inclinations.’ 

The conditions and qualities of such slothful persons Solomon paints to the life in Proverbs 12:27, 15:19, 18:9, 19:24, 21:25, 22:13, 24:30-34, and 26:13-15. He abounds in the reproof of it, as being one of the most pernicious vices that our nature is subject unto. 

And in the reproach that Christ will case upon unfaithful ministers at the last day, there is nothing greater than that they were “slothful,” Matt. 25:26: Thou wicked and slothful servant....

Unto such slothful persons, therefore, the apostle compares these Hebrews, not absolutely, but as to this one duty of hearing. The Gospel, as preached, he calls… “the Word of hearing” in Heb. 4:2; – the word that is communicated unto men by hearing, which they so receive, Rom. 10:17; which ought to be heard and diligently attended unto: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

This duty the Scripture is expressed by προσέχω, Acts 16:14; which is to “diligently to hearken and attend, so as to cleave unto the things heard.” 

A neglect hereof the apostle charges the Hebrews with. ‘You stir not up,’ saith he, ‘the faculties of your souls, your minds and understandings, to conceive aright and comprehend the things that are spoken unto you; you attend not unto them according to their importance and your concernment in them; you treasure not them up in your hearts, consciences, and memories, but let them slip out, and forget them:’ for the apostle intends all faults and negligences that concur unto unprofitable hearing. 

It is not a natural imbecility of mind that he blames in them; nor such a weakness of understanding as they might be obnoxious unto for want of improvement by education; nor a want [lack] of learning and subtilty to search unto things deep and difficult: for these, although they are all defects and hindrances in hearing, yet are they not crimes. 

But it is a moral negligence and inadvertency, a want [lack] of the discharge of their duty according to their ability in attending unto the means of their instruction, that he charges them with. 

The natural dullness of our minds in receiving spiritual things is, it may be included; but it is our depraved affections, casting us on a neglect of our duty, that is condemned. 

And there are sundry things wherein we are instructed; as, – 

To be continued....

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us....” (Hebrews 12:1)

Endnotes:
1. John Owen, D.D. (1616-1683), Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. 4, Reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, pp 548-549. Excerpted, edited and adapted for modern blog posting by updating grammar, word usage and punctuation.  Owens translates Hebrews 5:11 differently from the KJV based on his expertise in the original ancient languages. 
2. Definition of sloth adapted from http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=sloth&allowed_in_frame=0
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloth
4. Ibid. Links and footnotes removed.
5. Ibid. 
6. http://www.srl.caltech.edu/personnel/krubal/rainforest/Edit560s6/www/animals/slothpage.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

He still hasn’t found what he’s looking for

Bono meets Eugene Peterson 

David Taylor of Fuller Seminary, Bono and Eugene Peterson (Source)

By Pastor Jim Jenkins 

It’s entirely possible to look at something so long that you can’t really see it anymore. For years I have been calling people back to simple faith in the inerrancy of God’s Word. I’ve been patronized, mocked and more times than not, simply ignored.

I completed my doctorate at Fuller Seminary at the height of the Church Growth movement. I was exposed to all the marketing influence, the obsession with numerical growth of churches—and it was there that I was first introduced to the term “Progressive Christian.”

We were required to read the book Marketing the Church by George Barna. Some notables at Fuller at the time were C. Peter Wagner, Bob Logan, Carl George, and Eddie Gibbs. The message that permeated the core of the Doctor of Ministry Degree program was that the Church needed to be run as a business, and that the message needed to be contextualized against the backdrop of the culture.

Today Fuller Seminary rolled out its inaugural video of a new media site FULLER studio. It is a 20-minute piece featuring Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible which sold 17,000,000 copies and the rock star Bono. They are discussing their joint affinity for the Psalms. Accompanying the video is the above picture of Bono with the Petersons at their home in Montana.[1] Bono is lifting his index finger. Many believers would say, “Oh, I didn’t know Bono was a Christian.” 

Here is another picture of Bono that more accurately depicts his view of Christianity He is sporting a headband with the COEXIST motto.

I saw a video of one of U-2’s concerts in which Bono is leading the thousands of fans in a song and he begins to speak almost in a whisper, “Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha all the same. Jesus Mohammed, Buddha all the same.” He is pointing with the index finger to the headband. His idea of One Way means that we are all worshipping the same God. One Christian reporter saw another concert in which Bono offered a variation on the same theme: 
At a recent U2 Concert, one writer discussed her turmoil in hearing Bono point to the Cross, the Star of David and the Crescent Moon on his bandana and repeat: “Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true. Jesus, Jew, Mohammed-all true.”
I can resonate with a little "discomfort" at the words "all-true," but I was more unnerved by a Christian being "devastated," as she put, at the thought that other religions might have something in common with Christianity. We may not believe in Mohammed, but we certainly worship Allah (despite the differentiation K-Love and Focus on the Family try to make - historically, He is the same God, and if you want to say the God of the Jews and the God of Islam and Christianity are all different, then so is the God of Catholics, the God of Baptists and the God of Pentecostals).[2][bold added]

Back to the interview. Eugene Peterson kept referring to The Message as a translation. In fact, it is a paraphrase—a big difference. He illustrated his motivation for writing it by telling that he had a relative in mind and wanted a particular Psalm to resonate better with her so she would understand it better.

He prefaced this remark with a telling testimony… “I grew up believing that every word in the Bible was true…you don’t mess with it. But when I thought about it I read that God kept tears in a bottle… God is a Rock? Come on!” At that point, He and Bono shared a good laugh. He then waxed eloquent about what a metaphor is. He went on to tell how he approached one of his relatives. “I picked a Psalm and translated it in a way that I thought would fit them.”

That’s when it hit me. Many Emergent Church writers have taken a similar tack. Brian McLaren, Tony Compolo, Jonathan Merritt, Donald Miller... all, in one form or another, communicate that the Scriptures ‘as is’ are somehow offensive or inadequate to reach this special generation.

McLaren (Everything Must Change), for instance, declared a moratorium on even discussing gender issues. What he neglected to report is the fact that he had already presided over a ceremony in which his son ‘married’ another man. Jonathan Merritt (A Faith of Their Own) also eschewed the fact that the church was speaking out about homosexual marriage and abortion. Only later did it come out that he had been outed by a man with whom he had an affair.

I mentioned at the beginning that it is possible to look at something so often that you fail to see the obvious. What I gleaned from the conversation between Eugene Peterson and Bono was that picking Scriptures that we select, and tweaking them with our ‘take’ on them, and mocking the ones we deem insufficient—may be tied to something as simple as our preferences.

For example, Rick Warren in his runaway best seller The Purpose Driven Life used no less than 15 translations and versions of the Bible (The Message was cited often). Reviewers of the book made some interesting observations, 
"The Purpose Driven Life" maintains and promotes a poor theology stemming from an inadequate bibliology. Verses are used out of context from numerous paraphrases and placed in the author's own context. References and the version to the passage of the Bible being quoted are not in the immediate text but are included as endnotes at the back of the book. This is unfortunate as many people who read books do not read the endnotes.
Warren includes an appendix for why he uses so many versions, and why sometimes he will quote only part of a verse. The reasons he gives are:
1) To avoid missing nuances and shades of meaning.
2) To, "see God's truth in new, fresh ways." Italics not added.
It is interesting that his second reason contradicts the first. If you look at objective truth in new, fresh ways, you are almost surely introducing additional nuances, and shades of meaning. Seeing God's truth in new, fresh ways is reminiscent of the author's misuse of Prov. 18:15 in his book "The Purpose Driven Church" (Page 68.) He quotes Proverbs 18:15 from the Living Bible, "The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them." He uses this to justify a pragmatic approach of learning.
We are not to look for new ideas. We are to look for the objective truth of Scripture and to apply that to the situation we are placed in.
Proverbs 18:15 "The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge."
The Bible contains objective truth which is inspired by God, sufficient, and authoritative. While the application varies, the meaning remains the same.
The author's misuse and careless handling of the Bible gives evidence regarding the author's view of the inspiration, sufficiency, and authority of the Bible in a practical sense.[3][emphasis added] 

Another reviewer wrote: 
There is a serious impact to Warren’s use of so many translations. It shows his view of the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture. It seems that he does not believe that the Bible as God wrote it is sufficient for people today. He must believe that a very loose paraphrase like The Message can impact people in a way that the real translations cannot. He shows that he is not a faithful expositor of the Bible.[4]

As I watched the video of Peterson and Bono I thought of a verse from John’s gospel. Much is made by Emergent writers that people today have had enough of a judgmental, angry god. The verse from John is pretty clear.

“This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world and men preferred the darkness—because their deeds were evil.”
John 3:19 

I never met Bono or Eugene Peterson. Each in his own sphere of influence has influenced millions. I ascribe no nefarious motive to their beliefs. I will say, however, that the Psalms are not metaphors. They are the Word of God. What Peterson said about his childhood is accurate. The Church did believe that we have no right to change the meaning to suit the culture regardless of our good intentions.

I have been at the bedsides of dying people many time over the years. I can tell you authoritatively that they needed and wanted to be certain that every word of the Scriptures that I quoted about eternal life and heaven were true… absolutely true. I have no right to pick and choose which ‘offensive’ verses to tweak.

I remember once reading “God has created man in His own image and likeness. Now man has returned the favor….” Isn’t it interesting Muslims are not confused about their scriptures? They are said to be literally ‘uncreate.’ That is, they were dictated by Allah to Mohammed, every word of it directly from Allah. Do they take it seriously? Ask Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses), that is if you can find him. The Fatwah against him has been resurrected in recent days.

Let’s be clear: Bono and Eugene Peterson are not celebrating the Psalms because they believe they are God-breathed, or that they are ‘alive and active sharper than any two-edged sword’ (Heb. 4:12). No, I fear they have found a way to water down the meaning to such an extent that the offense of the Gospel will just go away.

By the way, the site announcing FULLER studio has the subtitle, Resources for a deeply formed spiritual life.[5] That needs to be covered in another article....

Endnotes: 
1. See the video at this website: http://fullerstudio.fuller.edu/bono-eugene-peterson-psalms/?utm_campaign=fuller-studio-launch&utm_medium=email&utm_source=imodules-d04262016&utm_content=bono-peterson-psalms-video 
2. See: http://www.emergingchristian.com/2005/12/bono-and-antichrist-allegations.html
3. See: http://www.biblebb.com/files/tonyqa/tc03-148.htm
4. See:  http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/book-review-rick-warrens-the-purpose-driven-life 
5. See: http://www.fuller.imodules.com/controls/email_marketing/admin/email_marketing_email_viewer.aspx?sid=1453&eiid=1155&seiid=586&usearchive=1&puid=3a1e142c-db90-4046-ab05-4b3cb7bb2f15

Dr. Jim Jenkins is the author of Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? (Deep River Books, 2014). See: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/02/fatal-drift.html and also read http://herescope.blogspot.com/2016/03/mind-numbing-narratives.html.