Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Marketing the Global Worldview

"Worldview" is about to have a whole new meaning. If you previously thought it was safe to embrace any evangelical individual or group that professed to hold a "Christian" or "biblical" worldview -- it is time to re-examine your stance. "Worldview" is being re-defined to mean a global purpose-driven view of the world.

A recent "Ministry Toolbox" article (Issue #248) entitled "Why worldview matters," was authored by Chuck Colson, who has formed a global partnership with Rick Warren to merchandise their brand name of "worldview" to the rest of the planet. Colson openly acknowledges that their "worldview" is closely connected to the agenda inherent in Rick Warren's global P.E.A.C.E. Plan:

"Worldview is not some lofty academic subject. It is intensely practical. Everyone has a worldview, that is, an understanding of how the world works and how we fit into it. And what you believe about the world and life determines how you live. Ideas, as was so famously said, have consequences.

P.E.A.C.E. Plan is a clear reflection of his own worldview – all humans are created in the image of God. We are, therefore, to help people get their lives straight and work for what the Jews call “shalom,” God’s justice and peace in which humans can flourish. Rick is calling all of us to live out a biblical view of the world."

The next section of Colson's article is where things get tricky. It requires a good deal of discernment about how IDEAS are marketed. Think about TV ads selling cars. You might have noticed that there is a certain "ambience" or "lifestyle" that goes along with different types of cars. Truck drivers are "tough." Mini-van drivers are "moms who need lots of space and safety for kids." Certain cars appeal to sexy women. Others to rich men.

Following that type of marketing scheme, the same thing happens when political or religious leaders try to sell IDEAS or AGENDAS to the public. First, they create the NEED. Sometimes this is a manufactured crisis, other times it is a "felt need," an emotional need. Sometimes the felt need is quite real, e.g. hunger. This "need" is the hook, the emotive appeal that lures you in by attracting your senses. The solution is a "Big Mac" to feed your hunger. Or that chewy-crusted, oozy-cheesy pizza. The selling of IDEAS or AGENDAS, likewise, is geared to appeal to the altruistic ideals of people. You are supposed to "feel good" about yourself when you bite the bait. The marketing of "worldview" is designed to create a certain ambiance, a certain "image" about who you are and what the world should be like.

It is therefore noteworthy that Colson launches into an extended description about how this "worldview" really helps people and saves lives. Who could resist helping people and saving lives? He mentions his own grandson, an autistic 15-year-old named Max, whose "special needs" cost $65,000 a year. Everyone reading this account feels sympathetic. That emotive response is supposed to happen. Launching from a description of Max, Colson enters the worldview culture wars -- a description which is also supposed to create a visceral response:

". . .Max will probably never be self-sufficient. In purely utilitarian terms he is a drag on society – what the Nazis called (straight out of social Darwinism) a 'useless eater.' The money used to educate Max could instead be spent to inoculate 10,000 kids in poverty areas against dreaded disease.

"You and I recoil in horror at such utilitarian calculations. But this idea is being advocated by Princeton professor Peter Singer, who is described by New Yorker magazine as the most influential philosopher in America. Singer argues for infanticide, euthanasia, and diversion of support from those who are of no use to society. This is exactly what the Nazis did when they performed medical experiments on prisoners and euthanized those they considered 'defective.' The same thing, in fact, that Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, argued for in her eugenics scheme – eliminating inferior races and people.

"Singer’s utilitarian philosophy is to do the greatest good for the greatest number, which is a reasonable ethical formulation in a purely secular society. Think about it. If we merely came from a primordial soup, life evolving from single cell organisms by natural selection – which is what our school children are taught – why not get rid of people who are defective? Since life has no intrinsic meaning, why not maximize happiness for the productive people? But if we have been created by God, in his image, every life including Max’s (maybe especially Max’s) is precious and to be protected.

"This is a life and death example and is precisely the point on which the biblical worldview most dramatically clashes with the prevailing secular worldview today. This is the central issue in the great culture war being waged for the heart and soul of our civilization: Is there a basis for human dignity? Is life sacred?"

The "right to life" issue cited above is a perfect tool to enlist foot soldiers for political and ideological agendas. The questions posed by Colson is an example of ideological marketing. Who could argue that life is not sacred? Or that there is no basis for human dignity inherent in the Scriptures? (Keep in mind, however, that Rick Warren's ideas about human dignity are connected to Peter Drucker's offensive concept of "human capital," which is accompanied by "assessments.")

Once you agree with Colson that there is a NEED or a CRISIS, the next question should be, "What is the Colson-Warren SOLUTION?" Colson states the solution -- but notice: two ideas are carefully packaged together under one wrap. Buy One, Get One Free:

"All of life is under the lordship of Christ, and therefore, we have been given two commissions: the Great Commission, to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them all Jesus has taught us; and the Cultural Commission, to be fruitful, multiply, take dominion, and restore a fallen creation." [emphasis added]

Note the two little words "take dominion." Note the phrase "restore a fallen creation." It is here that the theology inherent in the New Apostolic Reformation comes to light. If you purchased the "Buy One, Get One Free" described package in the paragraph above, recognize that the "worldview" you just purchased is DOMINIONISM. You might have thought you were simply supporting a right-to-life position. But you got something extra -- dominionism.

Just to be sure about the dominionist aspect to the Colson-Warren worldview, note the answer to question four in Colson's text below.

"The biblical worldview, as we will see in our studies, raises four questions:

*Where did we come from?
*Why is the world in a mess?
*Is there any way out?
*What is my purpose?

"To number one, the Christian answers, 'God created us;' to number two, 'the fall;' to number three, 'redemption by Christ;'” and to the fourth question, 'restoration of society.'" [emphasis added]

This question and answer is illuminating. The "restoration of society" is a dominionist ideal. Colson has a long history of interconnections with the Reconstructionist dominionists. Rick Warren has a long history of interconnections with the New Apostolic Reformation dominionists. There is a 25-year history of fraternization between leaders of these two groups. Note that the partnership between Colson and Warren is becoming a public, global marriage of dominionist worldviews.

From this point forward "worldview" is going to be marketed as "Buy One, Get One Free." If you think you can associate freely with the concept of "worldview" without getting tainted by the dominionism, think again. It is a complete package. The two go together. It is being marketed as such.

The Truth:

For further background information, see previous Herescope posts on the topic of Worldview.

"Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away." (Proverbs 4:14-15)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Creating a Purpose-Driven World

Is Rick Warren building a global church organization? Or, a global political organization?

In an article (5/25/06) in the LA City Beat, "The Purpose-Driven World: Pastor Rick Warren proposes using his church organizing methods to tackle global problems like hunger and disease," reporter Andrew Gumbel notices Warren's skill in mobilizing a grassroots movement. After the usual Hawaiian-shirted description of Rick Warren, Gumbel notices that Warren's organizing abilities are extra-ordinary:

"All that, though, is a distraction from his real forte, which is organizing. Warren knows how to create networks better than anybody, starting with his own congregation, which has grown from the initial seven families who showed up on Easter Sunday in 1980 to the more than 20,000 who come every week now. He has trained more than a quarter of a million pastors around the world, several thousand of whom download his sermons off the Internet each week and deliver them to their own congregations. He has mobilized a small army of volunteers to do community service, like feeding three square meals a day for 40 days to the entire homeless population of Orange County, or establishing a panoply of ad hoc social services from drug addiction recovery to sheltering abused women in Tijuana." [emphases added]

Gumbel focuses on the fact that Rick Warren is organizing his church into grassroots cell groups. This is being done by Warren in the name of a "Second Reformation," which is connected by ideology and personnel with what is also called "The New Apostolic Reformation" (NAR). This "New Reformation" not only changes doctrines, but also restructures the church into cell groups. Gumbel observes the global nature of this structural change:

"Now, with the success of his book, and the money and attention it has brought him, he has ambitions to tackle what he calls the 'global Goliaths' – problems so vast and intractable that nobody has yet managed to come up with a solution for them. He’s talking about poverty and illiteracy and pandemic disease, and even more abstract concepts like spiritual emptiness and egocentric political leadership. What he really wants to do is launch a new Reformation, in which the organizational power of churches – any churches, representing any faith – is harnessed to deliver what politicians and international aid organizations and NGOs cannot.

'The first Reformation was about creeds, and this one is going to be about deeds,' he told me a few days ago in an interview right next to the cavernous Worship Center on the 120-acre Saddleback campus.

"And so he has launched his so-called P.E.A.C.E. program – for 'Plant churches, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation' – a kind of viral marketing project for global stability, economic justice, and access to health care and education. For now, his organization has undertaken a series of pilot projects in 67 countries, just to see how it goes.

"This is all heady stuff, but Warren means business. Already, he has the ear of presidents and prime ministers – Rwanda has willingly earmarked itself as an entire purpose-driven nation. He’s spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, at major universities around the world, and at the Council on Foreign Relations. Among his friends he counts business leaders, prominent management consultants, and Bono of U2." [emphases added]

Gumbel zeroes in on the political ramifications of Warren's grassroots church cell group organization. It is this same cell group structure which was used by Pat Robertson's Freedom Council in the early 1980s, locating Christian activists in neighborhood precincts by using the addresses found in local evangelical church directories. The G12 cell group concept (an Amway-style pyramid of network marketing) also claims to build religious/political cells. The NAR plan is to use this simple yet effective mechanism -- borrowed from the Communists -- to help build the "kingdom of God" on earth. The reporter observed:

"The secret of Warren’s success, and the reason he serves as such a powerful example to any religious, political, or social cause, is his ability to mobilize and motivate large numbers of people. The key is to break groups down into small, manageable units – 8-15 people, in his model – and then empower them to set up their own projects and recruit others. In a domestic context, that might involve picking a project (anything from helping a troubled neighbor to running a soup kitchen), recruiting people with the appropriate expertise, and seeing the whole thing through to its completion.

"In an international context, it often means finding what Jesus, in the Bible, describes as the local 'man of peace,' the person with decisive influence over a community, and then working through him (or her). This is crucially different from the traditional, paternalistic model of missionary work – or, for that matter, the old-fashioned, top-down approach to political campaigning." [emphases added]

One key way in which Warren's style of "evangelism" is different from the traditional is that it does not require that the local "man of peace" be a Christian. Why? Because this activity is based upon marketing theory, which identifies a key individual to be a "change agent" to market a new product or idea to his/her sphere of influence. Any "leader" in a local community can become a "change agent for transformation." Which is why Warren's purpose-driven brand can be merchandised across the planet without the encumbrances of the Gospel of Truth.

Gumbel compares Warren's cell church network marketing strategy to current political operations nationally and globally.

"What it resembles is Joe Trippi’s model for the Howard Dean presidential campaign (which ultimately failed because there wasn’t enough mobilization of key players on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire) – or, for that matter, the sleeper cell structure of a guerrilla organization like Al Qaeda. The parts are all connected to the whole, but they are also autonomous and self-regenerating. Warren spent most of the 1980s building up his church locally. In the 1990s, he set about creating purpose-driven churches across the United States. And now he wants to take the movement across the world. Joe Trippi has often used the image of a pebble in a pond creating a ripple effect far and wide. That is very much Warren’s ambition, too.

"Warren’s view – and he has to be right about this – is that religious institutions, whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever, are the only viable network that can reach into every community, from the smallest village in Africa to the most alienated of big-city neighborhoods. Tap into those, and suddenly anything seems possible. 'In many places, in fact, churches are the only civil service structure available,' Warren said. 'They can provide universal distribution. They are able to provide the largest possible pool of volunteers. And … they have local credibility.'" [emphases added]

This type of political operation, being done under the guise of religion, is the mechanism by which the New Apostolic Reformation leaders intend to change "governance" and "governments." Finally, in noting the effectiveness of such cell group organizations, Gumbel observes:

"Want to know why George Bush won the 2004 presidential election, and why no mainstream political pundit anticipated the large turnout of grassroots, single-issue Republicans? It was because of networks just like Warren’s, based on churches and propagated through multiple means starting with the Internet. When it comes to AIDS, or poverty, or inadequate health care, Warren argues that the existing system is broken beyond repair and a new form of activism needs to take its place. . . . The Warren model holds some valuable lessons for us all." [emphasis added]

The Truth:

The structure of the New Apostolic Reformation ("Second Reformation"), in combination with these slick marketing methods, has nothing in common with the simplicity of the Gospel. This is based on psychological and sociological research theories, which hijack high-tech machinations to begin the implementation of a global "kingdom" -- a kingdom which is intended to be both religious and political.

For more information on cell group structures, see the Cell Church reports and tapes at Discernment Ministries.

"For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." (2 Corinthians 1:12)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

From DaVinci to The Omen 666

What would a pastor whose church is next door to Hollywood have to say about the current movie media frenzy surrounding occult-themed films? There are many pastors in southern California with national and international fame, but none of them have delivered the sobering message you'll read in today's Herescope.

The Great Betrayal

Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Was that the greatest betrayal? I am not so sure. At least he got some money for his dastardly deed. But this last week “Christian” leaders handed over almost two million souls to the Devil. No, this time they were not paid to commit this atrocity, they paid the Devil over 100 million dollars to drag these poor souls to hell!

I am referring the movie The DaVinci Code. I suppose I should have written this article last week as this would seem to be an effort to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted. But I felt it necessary to make some comments in the aftermath of the box office success of the movie because there is worse to come.

The success of the movie at the box office is almost unprecedented. In the US alone, it brought in $77 million on the first week-end and in the first four days grossed $224 million world-wide. A huge proportion of this money came from Christians who were being encouraged by the “Christian” media and leaders to see the movie in order to “use it as a platform to preach the Gospel.” If half of these viewers are “Christians” (and it is probably more) then it means that in the last four days, “Christians” have paid Hollywood 112 million dollars to attack their faith! Can you imagine the outcry if the US decided to send Bin Laden $112 million so he can finance his attacks on America! Yet that is exactly what the churches are doing. They are financing the Devil’s undermining of the Bible and the Truth and paying the Devil to rob souls from the Kingdom!

Oh, but it is just a movie and entertainment, I hear them say. Is it? Why does Brown (the author of the book) start by saying that “the facts in the book are true”? The thesis of the book/movie is that the Bible is not true, that Jesus never died on the Cross, that He had a child by Mary Magdalene etc. This is not entertainment. This is a full-frontal and brutal attack against the essence of our faith.

George Barna, the “Christian researcher” says that 45 million people read the book and that “only 5% of them changed any of their religious beliefs” as a result. Only 5%? That translates to two million souls lost for eternity! Only two million people for whom Jesus died burning in Hell? That is many more than will be saved through every message preached from Christian pulpits in many many months. Jesus said “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

What would Jesus have to say about those preachers who encourage people to see the movie, and as a result, millions are deceived and cast into hell? Could there be a punishment big enough for them? If the book succeeded in deceiving two million to turn from the faith, then the movie will do much more damage.

We all know that movies are much more powerful in changing people’s minds than books but even at 5%, this last weekend will have seen another one point eight million people turn from the faith! (And don’t tell me these folk were weak or not really true believers to start with, they remain precious souls that cost an awesome price to redeem)

This is not just another movie that happened to come on the scene. It was written, designed and inspired in Hell. It has one purpose and that is to deceive and draw people from the faith. Nor is it an isolated event. It is part of a strategy and a grand scheme. Just think back over the last year. First there was The Passion. It contained a lot of Bible but also a lot of mystical Romanist traditions. Not only did preachers encourage people to see this movie, they bought millions of tickets and bussed people to the theaters.

Then came The Chronicles of Narnia. This contained no Bible, was written by an unbeliever masquerading as a theologian. Again the churches encouraged millions to see, what was an alternative to the true Gospel.

But now the stage had been set. People have been conditioned to believe that Hollywood is harmless and has our best interests at heart and that we can actually learn from, and strengthen our faith by seeing these “spiritual” movies. But this time it was a full on assault against the faith. Of course the leaders knew that when they promoted it. Of course they also knew that many would be shaken in their faith and that millions of luke-warm “believers” would be shaken from The Faith and that millions more who were considering believing the gospel, would be turned away from The Truth for ever.

So why did they promote the book and the movie? I can only guess that they are not for the truth but against the truth and that they are secret agents posted by Satan to work “behind the lines.” What else? “…it is no great thing if his (Satan’s) ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness…” (2Corinthians 11:14).

And yet it is not the end. The next assault against the faith will be launched in less than a week, on 06/06/06, when The Omen 666 will be released. This movie which glorifies the Antichrist and shrouds the coming world ruler with mystique and power will, no doubt, develop a cult following.

There is a definite progression from The Passion to Narnia to DaVinci to The Omen. Will preachers encourage people to watch this one? I am sure some will, but there will be no need. The trend has been established: “Hollywood is a legitimate source of spiritual experience and doctrinal truth.” Millions who would never have considered seeing The Omen will do so because of the conditioning process that has been going on over the past year.

This is not the end of the matter – it is merely the beginning. The waters have been tested. Hollywood and the spiritual forces behind it have tasted blood – the blood of the saints. Now they know that the church will pay them money and the preachers will send millions of “Christians” to pay so their faith can be destroyed. Off course Hollywood will continue to foment violence and immorality but the real battle has only begun. The stage is being set for the revelation of the Man of Sin and the churches are ready and waiting to crown him and to bow before him.

Why won’t we be satisfied with the simplicity of the faith, with the joy of knowing a personal and real relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and the fulfillment and purpose that comes from living a life of obedience to His Word? Why are we so gullible?

The Truth:

“And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, `I am the Christ,' and will deceive many… Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:4,5,9-14)

[Anton Bosch is Senior Pastor of Burbank Community Church, Burbank, California.]

Friday, May 26, 2006

Yoism: Creating Heaven on Earth

Yoism, a topic introduced in yesterday's Herescope, bears a startling similarity to the bizarre new doctrines and teachings invented by the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). These teachings have been covered extensively on previous Herescope posts.

1. The idea that man can bring heaven down to earth.
2. The corollary idea that man can restore earth to its paradise condition, bypassing an Armaggedon or judgment scenario.
3. The belief that man, if unified or organized enough, can achieve absolutely anything he sets his mind to do (not unlike the Tower of Babel).
4. The idea that man joined together can synergistically cause spiritual changes on heaven and earth.
5. The idea that man is going to perfect himself on earth (spiritually and/or physically).

At one can read the following statement. Note the parallels between these Yoism teachings and those of the NAR:


"We can create Heaven on Earth.

"Rather than believing in realms of which we have no direct evidence, we stake our claim on the only world we all can know. The sacred form the world takes in our experience is the manifestation we call Reality.

"Despite the terribly troubled history of our species, we must acknowledge that we are also the most intelligent life forms we have encountered. Without minimizing the daunting obstacles that must be overcome, we also must not deny that our minds are capable of finding solutions to problems, of creating fantastic wonders and delights. Without denying the dangers of shared beliefs and ideals, we also know that passionately organized human activity can literally "move mountains."

"What if some of the many, many millions of individuals who are deeply troubled by the direction in which we are headed found a way to join their efforts, a way to turn their concerns into synergistic actions? What if a large and growing, organized segment of humanity were to focus on building a veritable paradise, right here, in the real world of our collective experience?

"All "what if's" aside; this we know for sure: Caring and working together with intelligence and commitment, there simply are no known limits to what the human community can achieve.

"With sustained effort, care, and intelligence, it is possible that Humanity will face Reality. It is possible to rise above the divisiveness of competing group identities, to recognize our common heritage and fate. It is time for us, for humanity, to face 'Childhood's End,' and to take the next great step in the development of our species." [All emphases added, except in first sentence.]

Yesterday's post mentioned the connection between Yoism and Hermeticism. The similarities between Yoism teachings above and NAR heresies is not coincidental or incidental. Discernment Ministries has done extensive research on the Latter Rain heresies and their originations, including the Gnosticism.

The idea that man can create heaven on earth arises from the occult. These ancient mystery religions taught that man could evolve into a superman, and should be aspiring to his own perfection towards becoming a god. They taught that man on earth can only perfect his nature by becoming god-like, his consciousness uniting with the heavenlies. This teaching is the gist of the New Age Movement.

Yesterday's post cited a connection between Yoism and the Emerging Church movement. The Emergent Church, as noted in earlier Herescope posts, often functions as the vanguard for the NAR by test-marketing new doctrines. Ironically, these leaders have been trained in sophisticated marketing technologies -- based upon western rationalism -- in order to sell the latest snake-oil concoction of eastern mysticism to a fad-driven church.

The Truth:

"Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger." (Isaiah 13:13)

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Emergent Yoism

It sounds like a scam on its surface. An invented religion where everybody comes up with their own beliefs and throws it into the communal stewpot. Like the jokes about "let's all go worship the gods of chocolate."

This new religion is called "Yoism" and it is based upon the idea of "open source" software. Huh? If you're not a computer geek this may need some explanation. "Open source" basically means that the programming, the underlying structure and mechanics of a computer program are available to the public and are not copyrighted. This means that anyone with a knowledge of computer programming can create new features and build in their own customizations. Linux, for instance, is an operating system (like Windows) that is built by a community of people who usually do it in their own free time, not for commercial purposes.

Likewise, Yoism claims to be an "open source" religion that is being built by a community of people. An on-line newspaper announcing this "New-time religion" explains:

"Open source software methodologies, principles, and practices translate well into other arenas, like standards and intelligence, and have been proposed for the beverage and medical industries as well. But open source philosophy exists in religion too; a kind of collaborative spirituality in which there is no such thing as secrets known only to an inner circle, and participants work together to create a mutually acceptable and beneficial creed instead of passively receiving instruction from a priestly class.

"Because the participants are collaborating, most open source religions tend to be new creations, and many are primarily Internet-based. Perhaps the best-known example is Yoism, which calls itself the 'world's first open source religion.' Yo is the name the group has given to what it calls the 'divine mystery.' Yoans say they reject truth based solely on authority, and focus strongly on community, evolution, democracy, environmentalism, and growth. Yoans also claim they can prove the existence of Yo, but that Yo is the 'infinite, unknowable essence.' . . .

"Using the Open Source Truth Process, Yoans hope that the community's scriptures and beliefs will evolve and changed based on each person's experience of reality, much as open source software is continually changed and made better through the input of many people. 'Our Truth Process depends on the increasing involvement of many people with diverse life experiences,' proclaims Yoism's Web site, and visitors are encouraged to post comments to any writings with which they disagree."

Yoism is not simply a benign tossed salad of nutty spirituality, however. It actually has roots in Hermeticism, which is not unrelated to Gnosticism. The article explains these occultic roots:

"The 'Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn' (OSOGD) is a Pagan community that splintered from the original Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Followers of the Hermetic Order say that it is not a religion, but a system of magic that stresses religious tolerance, but originally kept much of its special knowledge secret -- sort of a proprietary collection of magical arts -- although most of that original material has now been published in various places. The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn, founded by Sam Webster, takes the Hermetic Order's 'source code' of magical arts and make it freely available to everyone. 'The Open Source Order is founded on the principle that true spirituality is omnipresent and access to it cannot be owned or controlled by any group or individual,' says Webster. . . . "

Not surprisingly, Yoism is an ideal eclectic hodge-podge of esotericism that appeals to the Emerging Church crowd, too. The article explains the Emergent brand of Yoism:

"Another group that has adopted the open source philosophy is an offshoot of the emergent church branch of Christianity. It calls what it does 'open source theology.' The founder of the open source theology movement, Andrew Perriman, says he started it 'out of the conviction that if there is such a thing as the emerging church .... it urgently needs an emerging theology. . . . Perriman says that in this postmodern culture, the Christian church is struggling to 'rebuild credibility' and needs to change its theology from one that has generated by so-called 'experts' to an open source theology that is the product of 'public conversation. It is exploratory, open-ended, incomplete, less concerned to establish fixed points and boundaries than to nurture a thoughtful and constructive dialogue between text and context.'"

Perriman, an Emerging Church leader, explains that he believes "evangelical theology. . . was going through some sort of transition or crisis" and that therefore he was "on the lookout for new methods, a new rhetoric, new ways of formulating old trusts, and perhaps even a quite radical overhaul of old truths." Perriman says he adopted the open source "framework" to reinvent his theology:

"Perriman maintains that a religious system of beliefs is very much like a computer program. '[It is] complex, evolving, much of its workings hidden from the eyes of the casual user, potentially buggy, but also functional: we use it to do things, to organize our thoughts, values, actions,' he says. 'It is like a content management system. It provides the framework for doing things, for managing ideas, and in the process it both creates possibilities and imposes constraints. The assumption behind an emerging theology is that the process by which a community of believers develops, maintains, and implements its worldview makes a big difference to the end result.'

"'The emerging church wants to do theology itself (not have it spoon-fed), wants to be actively engaged in the process of regenerating an effective biblical mindset for a postmodern world, through conversations that are both deep and shallow, global and localized, both sophisticated and personal, both practical and mystical. The 'open source' metaphor perhaps doesn't quite do all of this, but it captures some powerful aspirations and convictions that lie at the heart of this whole thing.'"

The Truth:

The quoted excerpts above give perhaps some of the best examples of the true nature of the Emerging Church. It is readily compatible with a nonsensical, abstract, irrational, illogical and illusionary religion such as this Yoism. It is hostile to revelatory truth on its face. This extreme egalitarianism, which invites every person to give input into this "open source" religion, is pure chaos and biblical anarchy.

"This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Ephesians 4:17-24)

The late Dr. Francis Schaeffer, who frequently wrote against the onslaught of esoteric mysticism, commenting on this passage of Scripture, said:

"Now you will notice here another element in this that is most important in the twentieth century, and in the midst of twentieth-century thinking. In the eighteenth verse it speaks of 'ignorance.' Ignorance is in relationship to [biblical] content; it is not just a spirit of ignorance. In verse 21 it speaks of 'the truth. . . in Jesus.' Truth is content, truth has something to do with reason. Truth has something to do with the rational creature that God has made us. . . .

"'Be renewed in the spirit of your mind' (verse 23). This again is not simply a feeling. It's a matter of thoughts in a rational sense, and with content. 'That ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and (the best translation here) holiness of truth' (Ephesians 4:24).

"This is not just an emotional holiness, but holiness in relationship to content, holiness in relationship to thought and a set of things that can be stated as true, in contrast to what is false." (True Spirituality, Tyndale, 1971)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Kingdom Decrees

One of the unique heresies coming out of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is the idea that the self-anointed, self-appointed "apostles" and "prophets" can issues DECREES. This doctrine teaches that these particular leaders have the power to make decrees that assist their "kingdom-building" efforts. These decrees, proclamations, and pronouncements are said to be endued with heavenly authority. In fact, the leaders even claim that they can bring heaven down to earth in this manner.

A recent example from the Elijah List is from Paul Keith Davis: "Decrees and Proclamations." Based on Isaiah 51:16, Davis asserts that:

"This particular passage has been one the Lord has utilized often through prophetic experiences to illustrate a function of His end-time army. The Bible promises that He will put a prophetic word in our mouths that is full of both life and power. This word comes directly from His heart and establishes the revelation of His Kingdom.

". . . According to Isaiah 51:16, when the Lord puts His Word in our mouths and covers us with the shadow of His hand, the resulting prophetic directive is intended to do three things:
1. To establish the Heavens
2. To found the earth
3. To say to Zion, 'You Are My People.'"

Notice that Davis is claiming that there is a new prophetic power to "establish the Heavens" and to "found the earth." To illustrate this point further, Davis asserts under the subtitle "A Prophetic Commission," that this power "has been delegated today to accomplish the same purpose and model":

"The prophet Jeremiah was once privileged with an incredible face-to-face encounter with the Lord. The Prophet records that, "The LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:9-10.)

"As it was with Jeremiah, Kingdom authority has been delegated today to accomplish the same purpose and model as in his day. We are being appointed with spiritual oversight to root out, pull down, destroy and overthrow, but also to build and plant. That is the directive of Isaiah 51:16.

"What is established in the Heavenly places will be released on the earth. When this takes place, there will be a calling out of the Bridal company to take her rightful position of power and authority for the great harvest. The Holy Spirit is speaking to the seeds of destiny, resident in the Zion company saying, "you are My people." We will be identified as bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh to accomplish the same mandate given to Him by His bring the message of redemption and to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8.)"

In the paragraph above Davis claims that we have "the same mandate" as given to Jesus by God. He is also espousing the new doctrine popularized by C. Peter Wagner of the NAR that Jesus did not defeat Satan on the cross, and that it is up to the Church on earth to accomplish this. These are Latter Rain heresies which have much to do with the concept of Joel's Army.

Davis begins his conclusion, "Our Mandate," with the claim that God "will fill our mouths with decrees and proclamations" for kingdom-building purposes.

"Many Christians are being positioned to experience this commissioning. The Lord is stretching forth His hand to fill our mouths with decrees and proclamations direct from His heart. Like Jeremiah, the anointed words of God's people will uproot the forces of darkness and plant the revelation of His Kingdom. When this takes place, there will be an abundant harvest of souls and the Lord Jesus will begin to receive the full measure of His great reward. (Revelations 5:9.) [All emphases added, except for Scriptural references]

The Truth:

These NAR false prophets and apostles believe that they are uttering new words of God that have the same force and power of the Word of God. This is utter blasphemy!

It is important to look at these verses from the Old Testament in their context. Isaiah 51:16, cited by Davis, says: "And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou are my people." This passage is speaking about God's Word. Matthew Poole, in his old 1600s Commentary on the Holy Bible (Hendrickson Publ.), states:

"I have put my words in thy mouth; these great and glorious promises which are in thy mouth are not the vain words of man, a weak, and inconstant, and unfaithful creature, but the words of the almighty, unchangeable, and faithful God, and therefore they shall be infallibly accomplished. These words are manifestly spoken by God, either, 1. To Isaiah, by whom these promises were delivered. Or, 2. To Christ, of whom and to whom many things are said in this prophecy, as we have already seen, and will further appear. Or rather, 3. To Israel, to God's church and people, to whom he speaks both in the foregoing and following verses. For God's word is frequently said to be put into the mouths, not only of the prophets, but of the people also, as Isaiah 59:21; as also Deut. 30:14; Josh 1:8, etc."

"Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed;" (Isaiah 10:1)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Da Vinci Opening the Canon of Worms

"A small but growing number of very influential New Testament scholars who apparently have never found the source of life in the classical apostolic gospel are finding in this Gnostic view of Jesus a 'new lease on life.' We can expect that this novel interpretation may well represent the scholarly wave of the future. If they have their way, and they probably will, under the powerful growing impact of feminism there will be a move to open the church's canon for the inclusion of a certain number of these ancient egalitarian 'Christian' Gnostic documents. And then the struggle for orthodoxy will take on proportions of difficulty the church has rarely known." -- Peter Jones, The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back, (P & R Publ., 1992), pp. 93-94.

There may be a reason that the false apostles and prophets are pressing for a return to the early church model. It is the best way in which to open the doors to Gnosticism.

A recent article on Christianity Today suggests that the movie The Da Vinci Code exemplifies a greater agenda to dismantle and destroy the Canon of Scripture, i.e., the Bible. This past year Herescope has examined many attacks against the Word of God, both from within and without the Church. This challenge to God's Word has come in many forms:

*Reinterpretation of old doctrines
**Dumbing down the doctrines
***Watering down the Gospel
****Concocting new doctrines
*****Mystical interpretations
******New teachings
*******New Bible versions
********New "understandings"
*********New revelations, including words of false apostles/prophets
**********New terms, words and phrases not found in Scripture
***********New concepts, ideas, philosophies
************Re-naming God or Jesus with pagan deity names
*************"Contextualizing" the Gospel to pagan religions

The Da Vinci Code, however, takes the issue one step further, calling into question the very Canon of Scripture. According to the Christianity Today article:

"[Author Dan] Brown's astonishing claims about Jesus and Mary are found in two apocryphal Gospels, the Gospel of Mary and the Gospel of Philip. Brown, a skilled author but no scholar, simply picked them up and spun a fictional narrative around them."

The article's author, Gary M. Burge, a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, raises some disturbing questions about the current move to open the Canon of Scripture to other "gospels" such as the recently released Gospel of Judas or the "Gospel of Thomas. Burge examines the works of "Bart D. Ehrman. . . chair of the religious studies department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill" who "has studied Christianity's first three centuries carefully since leaving the evangelical fold." Burge writes:

"What drives this interest in lost scriptures today? Ehrman concludes,

"'The broader interest in and heightened appreciation for diverse manifestations of religious experience, belief, and practice today has contributed to a greater fascination with the diverse expressions of Christianity in various periods of its history, perhaps especially in its earliest period. This fascination is not simply a matter of antiquarian interest. There is instead a sense that alternative understandings of Christianity from the past can be cherished yet today, that they can provide insights even now for those of us who are concerned about the world and our place in it.'

"Finding a wild diversity in the early church -- or perhaps, undercutting orthodoxy in that church -- will do the same for our generation. In an era that shies away from the scandal of certain truth, dismantling religious authority based on an argument from antiquity will be received eagerly."

The goal is, not surprisingly, to re-open the Canon for discussion and debate. Burge warns this could very soon become a possibility:

"Of course, to evaluate these claims we must determine the value of these apocryphal Gospels. Do they represent legitimate voices suppressed in antiquity? In the last five years, this debate has intensified. Some scholars argue that the canonical boundary that separates our Scriptures from the apocrypha should come down. Others argue that Gospels such as Thomas should have equal weight with Matthew. Still others believe that notions such as 'orthodoxy' and 'canon' are simply arbitrary conventions of the winners."

Many of the neo-Gnostic false apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation have emphasized a return to the early church in structure and function. They have made extraordinary claims about New Testament practices that surpass Scripture, and have attempted to change neoevangelical doctrine and practice. But now they have help. Their cousins, the Gnostics, have arrived with reinforcements!

Herescope readers may recall our earlier series on Transformation. The "Transition" stage is characterized by a shift into a debate mode. Opening up the Canon for discussion and debate immediately puts the orthodox church into "Transition." The end goal is a "Transformational" (or "emergent") Christianity which is both mystical and Gnostic.

The Truth:

"For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven." (Psalm 119:89)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Da Vinci Propaganda

Christianity is under an unprecedented assault from every direction. This weekend's launching of The Da Vinci Code movie is just one example. Harnessing the forces of the media has proven to be a most effective tool to change public opinion, and alter the faith of many people.

The evangelical response to this has been characteristic of the new way of doing Christianity -- the movie is seen as a new gimmick with which to market the neo-evangelical brand Christianity. Note the marketing language inherent in the following comments from Outreach Magazine:

"Although people may not buy into all of Brown's claims or believe the book's theories to be absolute truth, chances are they will examine their plausibility, especially in a world of postmodern thought where, for some, one reality is just as good as another." [emphases added]

Marketing and media are now seen as tools to "advance the kingdom." The dangers inherent in mass manipulations are no longer acknowledged. Rather the business/leadership gurus of neo-evangelicalism use these very techniques to change the beliefs and worldview of the people in the pews. A good example of this is found in the same Outreach Magazine article, referencing a quote by Brian McLaren of the Emergent Church, who sees this movie as the opportunity to deconstruct orthodoxy:

". . . Author and pastor Brian McLaren thinks that people's questions surrounding The Da Vinci Code offer clues to the Jesus people are searching for.

"'For all the flaws of Dan Brown's book, I think in some ways he's suggesting that the dominant religious institutions have created their own caricature of Jesus. And I think people have a sense that's true,' says McLaren. 'I think the popularity of The Da Vinci Code is telling us that a lot of people don't find the image of Jesus that's portrayed by the dominant Christian voices genuine, so they're looking for some-thing that seems more real and authentic.'

"Mix this skepticism with Hollywood's power to create high-quality, believable films, and the movie is likely to pack quite a punch." [emphases added]

Truth or Propaganda?

An interesting quotation about the power of the media to manipulate public opinion can be found in an excerpt from Dr. Dennis Cuddy's Secret Records Revealed: The Men, The Money & The Methods Behind the New World Order (2nd ed., Hearthstone, 1999). In an entry for the year 1928, Dr. Cuddy explains that William Paley who began the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), hired "Sigmund Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, as his chief advisor." Dr. Cuddy then quotes from a book entitled Propaganda authored by Bernays and published that same year:

"Those who manipulate the organized habits and opinions of the masses constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of the country. . . . It remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons. . . . It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world. . . . As civilization has become more complex, and as the need for invisible government has been increasingly demonstrated, the technical means have been invented and developed by which opinion may be regimented." [emphases added]

Dr. Cuddy observed that:

"According to Bernays, politicians and businessmen should take "a survey of public desires and demands' in order to say, 'I must lead the people. Am I not their servant?'"

Comparing these statements to those of Brian McLaren above, it is clear that The DaVinci Code represents a powerful new media tool -- both within and without the evangelical church -- to create a more "real and authentic" Jesus. Will this be done through marketing tools, public opinion surveys and focus groups -- the same methods that are used to more effectively sell new brands of toothpaste? In many churches these same techniques are being used to generate "discussion" about the movie and its contents. For dumbed-down, purpose-ridden evangelicals starved for meat, these focus groups present a unique opportunity to re-manufacture and re-market new versions of Jesus and the Gospel. As the Outreach Magazine article observed, "The Da Vinci Code's popularity has already exposed a dearth of knowledge about Church history among regular churchgoers."

The Old Jesus

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Evan so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:25-30)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Military New Breed

The military rhetoric of the New Apostolic Reformation continues to increase in disturbing new ways.

An Elijah List post issued this week announced the "birthing" of a militaristic "New Breed." These so-called prophetic statements actually announce the next phase of the plans of the false apostles and prophets. Of interest in this post was the connection between the "New Breed" and a "Emerging Ezekiel's Company" which would have a "divine militancy." Presumably, this "Ezekiel's Company" is another name for "Joel's Army," an anticipated end-time army according to these aberrant dominionism eschatologies.

Excerpts from "The Release of the New Breed---Birthing Powerful Demonstrations of the Supernatural" by Jeff Jansen, May 15, 2006 are below:

"An Emerging Ezekiel's Company

"Rick Joyner recently wrote that we are coming into times when passive Christianity and passive Christians will cease to exist. There is a maturity, a discipline, and a divine militancy coming upon the people of God. Those who have succumbed to humanistic and idealistic theologies, may have a hard time with this, but we must understand that God is a military God. The title that He uses 10 times more than any other in Scripture is, "The Lord of Hosts" or "Lord of Armies." There is a martial aspect to His character that we must understand and embrace for the times and the job to which are now coming.

There are strong signs of an emerging church that knows no limits in God. This emerging army is an "EZEKIEL'S COMPANY," . . . We are no longer standing on the outside of the Kingdom looking in. We are smack-dab in the middle of it and are quickly becoming the "Greater works than these shall you do," generation! . . .

"The Return of the Glory of the Lord

". . . [T]his new breed of believer is emerging with all of Heaven's DNA (Divine Nature Applied), and is being thrust into cities, regions, and the nations, as "glory dispensers," with astounding signs, wonders, miracles, and powerful displays of the supernatural. God has put His "Governmental stamp of approval" on them, as a fresh sign to the body of Christ of seed promised by His Holy Spirit. . . .

"The New Breed of Saints

"This new breed of saints understands, that the anointing is released through compassion and the affections of their heart. . . . As harvesting machines, they understand that the great harvest that is to come into the church, will not come in by conventional means, but will come in supernaturally, by lovesick lovers releasing the realm of the Kingdom of God, in power, everywhere they go.

"In order for us to see the supernatural power and glory of the Kingdom of God flow, we need to be radically transformed in the way we see and understand God--who He is, and how He operates. . . .

"This new breed of disciple, is humble and teachable, and they walk completely dependent upon the leading of the Spirit. . . ." [all emphases above are added, except for headings.]

This Emerging "New Breed"

In previous Herescope posts we have covered the topic of "New Breed" extensively. It is particularly interesting that this "New Breed" is now being given militaristic characteristics and being assigned "kingdom" duties. Of particular intrigue is the reference to "harvesting machines" above. Why does the great end-time global "harvest" predicted by these "prophets" need "harvesting machines"? There is no scriptural basis for such hokey claims.

"New Breed" was a concept inextricably linked with "Joel's Army" in the teachings that formed the foundation of what is now called the New Apostolic Reformation. A full discussion of the history and aberrant doctrines can be found here. Previous Herescope posts on the New Breed can be found 1. here , 2. here , 3. here, 4. here, 5. here, 6. here, 7. here, 8. here, 9 . here, and 10. here .

"Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Whereas ye know now what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
For ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James 4:13-17)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Creating a "Community of Purpose" -- circa 1933

Yesterday's Herescope post concluded with an astounding quote from Henry A. Wallace, a high-level U.S. government official holding various offices during the decades of the 1930s-40s. In his statement to the Federal Council of Churches "emergency" meeting in December 1933, he called for the creation of a "community of purpose" -- a "modern adaptation of the theocracy of old."

This statement is strikingly similar to the modern-day calls for a "Second Reformation" (Rick Warren), otherwise known as the "New Apostolic Reformation" (C. Peter Wagner, one of Warren's key advisors). Previous Herescope posts have examined this topic in detail. Of particular significance is the dominionist element in these calls for another Reformation. The doctrine of building the kingdom of God on earth is an essential component.

One of the themes utilized to garner support for this kingdom-building was the concept of "one world." This is an oft-used mantra of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to this day. It is a theme which has now been picked up by most evangelial mission agencies.

Continuing with an excerpt from pp. 161-162 of Dr. Martin Erdmann's landmark book, Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches’ Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2005), available here, note that Henry Wallace was intentionally suggesting a new ideology -- a new kingdom worldview -- in order to facilitate the creation of this one-world:

A "one world" community of purpose

In this address to the FCC [Federal Council of Churches, forerunner to the WCC, ed.], Wallace insisted on a radical reformation of Christianity itself. Only a willingness on the part of the churches substantially to alter its dogma and practice would suffice to meet the needs of the day. The old virtue of helping those who had suffered hardships must give place to a new conception of a community of purpose. The basis for such a change is disclosed in the closing paragraph of his address.

“This spiritual cooperation to which I refer depends on a revival of deep religious feeling on the part of the individual in terms of the intellectual concept that the world is in very truth one world, that human nature is such that all men can look on each other as brothers, that the potentialities of nature and science are so far-reaching as to remove many of the ancient limitations. This concept which now seems cloudy and vague to practical people must be more than the religious experience of the literary mystic. It must grow side by side with a new social discipline. Never has there been such a glorious chance to develop this feeling, this discipline as in this country today.”[48]

According to Wallace, the new religious feeling must come from the realization that the world is one – an emphasis which would presumably lead to a principled detachment from the competing propositional claims of truth made by the religions that actually inhabit that ‘one world’. It would be the outgrowth of the new sociological knowledge made available by science, not the belief in a sovereign God. Wallace placed his emphasis more on the creation of a new humanism than the imposition of a new theocracy.

It is both interesting and revealing that the leadership of the FCC would see a kinship between the philosophy of Franklin Roosevelt and Henry Wallace and its own concept of the kingdom of God on earth. The insistence that the social aims of the New Deal did not fully meet the requirements of this secularised concept of the kingdom of God is nothing more than an acknowledgement that the humanistic theology of the Council was more progressive in its implications than the philosophy of the New Deal architects who faced the political realities of hour and what could and could not be pushed through Congress.

Nevertheless, the editor of the Bulletin was enthusiastic about this address. He stated that Wallace was a man of vision who aptly visualized a better social order and devoted his energies to securing a co-operative instead of a competitive economic organization. As his address showed, the editor alleged, Wallace had been influenced both by the Old Testament prophets and by the life and teaching of Jesus.[49] Henry A. Wallace was certainly a very religious person. His beliefs, however, were not rooted in historic Christianity. Wallace became notable for his mystical outlook on life. [50]

All emphases added. Reprinted with permission. Endnotes.
48. Federal Council of Churches, Federal Council Bulletin 17, no 1 (January 1934), New York, 7-8.
49. Ibid.
50. See Dwight Macdonald, Henry Wallace: The Man and the Myth (New York: Garland Publ., Inc. 1979) 116-127: 'Formal religion, however, is not the important part of Wallace's abundant other-wordly life. He delighted especially in esoteric knowledge, strange creeds in which the scientific and the supernatural are blended. His faith . . . seems to be an amalgam of Buddhism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Mohammedanism, and Eddyism'. To which might be added: theosophy, spiritualism, numerology, and astrology. 'Wallace dabbles in astrology and can draw a horoscope. He is quite familiar with the theory that the future can be predicted from certain markings on the Great Pyramid' (118); and Norman D. Markowitz, The Rise and Fall of the People's Century: Henry A. Wallace and American Liberalism, 1941-1948 (New York: The Free Press, 1976) 333-342.

The Truth:

Henry A. Wallace had no compunctions about integrating his spirituality with State. He is credited with being responsible for putting the occultic "all seeing eye" and the Great Pyramid on the back of the dollar bill. His eclectic mixture of esoteric theologies and world religions co-mingled conveniently with the call for a "one world" in which there would be a new "social discipline." The WCC today, sequel to the FCC, is known for espousing just such an admixture.

And neo-evangelical leaders are now finding "common ground" with this global group? Is it any wonder, then, that some of these strange admixtures of doctrine are showing up in evangelicaldom? (See last Friday's Herescope post)

"For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed." (Isaiah 9:16)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Global Dominionism: Past and Present

Rick Warren and his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan are getting a free ride from the "liberal" media establishment. Surprisingly, this is happening despite the increasingly dominionist rhetoric calling for a "Second Reformation" and "advancing" the kingdom. By merging his global agenda with the likes of rock star Bono, and popular social causes, Warren has virtually guaranteed that his pursuits would be applauded without in-depth inspection by the mainstream press.

Various reporters from media outlets have contacted evangelical discernment ministries this past year trying to locate churches dividing over purpose-driven program controversies. This makes for saucy, gossipy stories suitable for the tabloids but it is not investigative reporting. The real story behind the Global P.E.A.C.E Plan has yet to be scrutinized by the press -- Who is financing it? What are the intricate and potentially unethical corporate/church & mission/state entanglements in various nations in Africa? etc.

Friday's Herescope post examined the new working cooperation between leading evangelical mission groups (NAE) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). By building upon the emotive appeal of eradicating poverty or curing AIDS -- both pet projects of Rick Warren -- these two groups may find little opposition in the press to their collaborative arrangements in the near future. The media may simply ignore these joint ventures; or worse, commend this openly for the newfound spirit of cooperation.

There is a very interesting history behind this cooperation. Unbeknownst to most reporters in the mainstream press, the Federal Council of Churches (FCC, a forerunner to the now-global WCC) has held to its own dominionist worldview. And it began to aggressively pursue its goal to build a "kingdom of God on earth" early in the last century. The press at the time ignored or sugar-coated the dominionist theology of the FCC, most likely due to media bias in favor of the social action programs that resulted.

But this common core of dominion theology raises some intriguing concerns about the new cooperation that is rising between the WCC and the NAE. Will the press continue to ignore or sugar-coat the dominion theology inherent in these newly-rising, globally-oriented, social action programs?

The following fascinating historical excerpt is from pages 159-161 of Dr. Martin Erdmann's Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches’ Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2005), available here. This excerpt is significant because it reveals the depths to which the State believed it could use the Church to further its aims.

4.6 The Federal Council and the New Deal

. . . [T]he FCC convened a special meeting in Washington early in December 1933 to face the emergency then confronting the churches and the nation [the worldwide economic depression, ed.] and to take whatever action it could. The outcome of this special conference was to result in a far-reaching change in the relationship of the secular state to the ecclesiastical authorities. The FCC initiated an amalgamation process which in time blurred the distinction between its new social order and the New Deal. . . . Still basically leading toward collectivism, the New Deal was not accomplishing the degree of social and political collectivism that would bring about the realization of [the kingdom of God on earth]. . . .

The most dramatic moment at the special meeting in Washington was reached as both President Roosevelt and Henry Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture[45], addressed the assembled clergymen and established the grounds of a close working relationship between state and church from the vantage point of the political authority. The outward pretence of upholding the constitutional provision of a clear separation between the religious and secular realms of society was conscientiously maintained, but in reality it was brushed aside in favour of a close cooperation to usher in a new age, as it was hoped, of material prosperity and social harmony. In speaking of the prosperity that he envisioned for the nation, Roosevelt said:

“It can be a prosperity built on spiritual and social values rather than on special privileges and special power. Toward this new definition of prosperity the churches and the governments, while wholly separate in their functioning, can work hand in hand. Government can ask the churches to stress in their teaching the ideas of social justice, while at the same time government guarantees to the churches. . . the right to worship God in their own way. The churches, while they remain wholly free from the suggestion of interference in government, can at the same time teach millions of followers that they have the right to demand of the government of their own choosing the maintenance and furtherance of a more abundant life.”[46]

A close analysis of this address shows that Roosevelt saw in the churches a force of social change in American society. The Social Creed of 1932 had led the Council into a situation in which it would do the will and bidding of the state. The Council had come a long way from its early stance that it would never become the auxiliary of a political party and would never actively endorse or support a particular economic or political program.

The speech of Henry Wallace was even more revealing than Roosevelt’s. Wallace explicitly challenged the Protestant churches to initiate a sweeping change that would bring it into closer harmony with the New Deal:

“I am wondering if the religion we shall need during the next hundred years will not have much more in common with the Christianity of the second and third centuries or possibly even with that of the Middle Ages than with the Protestants of the past one hundred years. The strong personal initiative conferred by the Protestants’ religion must in some way be merged into a powerful religious attitude concerning the entire social structure. . . I am not talking about welfare drives and other forms of charity which good men among the Protestants, Jews and Catholics alike support so loyally. The thing that I am talking about goes far deeper. It is an attitude that will not flow from external compulsion but that will spring from the hearts of the people because of an overwhelming realisation of a community of purpose. Perhaps the times will have to become even more difficult than they have been during the past two years before the hearts of our people will be willing to join together in a modern adaptation of the theocracy of old.”[47]

All emphases added. Reprinted with permission. Endnotes:
45. Henry Agard Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture (1933-40), vice-president (1941-45), Secretary of Commerce (1945), presidential candidate of the ultra-leftist Progressive Party (1948).
46. Federal Council of Churches, Federal Council Bulletin 17, no. 1 (January 1934), New York, 7-8.
47. Ibid., no. 2 (February 1934), New York, 6.

The Truth

Of particular interest in the historical material presented above is that last paragraph, a quote by Henry A. Wallace, which bears a striking resemblance to the modern calls for a "Second Reformation" (Rick Warren) or New Apostolic Reformation.

"But I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." (1 Corinthians 15:50)

More on this topic tomorrow!

Friday, May 12, 2006

WCC, NAE, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus

It isn't just the neo-evangelical leaders who are finding common ground with other world religions (see this week's Herescope posts). The 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held February 14-23 in Porto Alegre, Brazil is leading the charge. And the NAE isn't far behind!

This event was reported on by the American Council of Christian Churches (Spring 2006 newsletter) by Dr. Ralph G. Colas, Executive Secretary. An address was given by Katsunori Yamamoi, "a member of the Buddhist organization Rissho Kosei-kai." According to the ACCC report:

"He asked the WCC to talk 'hand in hand with all of the Buddhists in this organization and to participate in the Buddhist Assembly scheduled for August 2006.' Immediately he was followed by a Hindu who shared a few lines from the Hindu's sacred text that included these words, 'God is the ocean; God's servants are the rain clouds; God is the sandal tree; God's servants are the winds.'"

Lest the reader mistakenly assume that surely evangelicals wouldn't be part of such a gathering, the ACCC report indicates:

". . . [T]he World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) International Director, Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe, presented a statement to the accredited press that had been prepared with three other Pentecostal/Evangelicals praising the WCC. The WEA is made up of 127 Evangelical Alliances (including the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) led by Dr. Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs, CO). They expressed gratitude that the WCC invited them because after all they represented almost 400 million Evangelicals around the world."

Dr. Colas of the ACCC reported that Rev. Tunnicliffe indicated he "wanted the WCC to understand they desire to get more involved with social action by 'deepening Christian engagement with the poor and to cut world poverty in half by the year 2015.'"

Of course, this global poverty program would be consistent with the goals of Rick Warren's Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. This indicates how far evangelical leaders are willing to go in order to find common ground to achieve their plan for global "transformation."

The ACCC report continued:

"One major speaker who was welcomed by the entire Assembly was the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who declared, 'The exclusive claims of Christianity are not claims to absolute knowledge. I reject aggressive efforts to convert those of other faiths.' At the press conference when questioned about his address, he said that two approaches were very unhelpful -- 'One was to claim an exclusive possession of the truth, while the other was to lose confidence in one's faith.'

"Following Williams remarks, a Karen Baptist from Myanmar spoke to the delegates and told her family's experiences with Buddhist and Muslim neighbors. She concluded by saying, 'My Muslim and Buddhist neighbors may not know the name of Jesus, but I believe God has found a path for himself to them.'"

In his conclusion, Dr. Colas of ACCC astutely noted:

"5. While there was much talk about "a transformed world," at no time was the answer given from the Bible that 'If any man be in Christ he is a new creation' (II Cor. 5:17). The change comes not from without but from within, but that answer was never given. Rather the WCC teaches that all religions are equal. According to Aram I, the Holy Spirit dwells in other religions than Christianity. Nothing could be further from the truth of God's Word.

"6. It is important to understand that even the very words these liberal clergy use have a different meaning. We must do what the apostle John tells us to do and 'Try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.' (I John 4:1)."

The Truth:

"Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with another." (Mark 9:50)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The emergent nebulous Jesus & his kingdom

"I was there to meet Jesus, and I was: the new ruling Jesus, whose ways are secret." --Jeffrey Sharlet, Harpers.

What is this Washington, D.C.-based "Fellowship" group that found common ground with the Dalai Lama? (See this week's Herescope posts for details.) No one knows for sure because its past, present and future are hidden in the murky depths of secrecy. One fact readily discernible is its dominionist agenda to build some sort of "kingdom" on earth for their nebulous "Jesus."

An interesting follow-up article to Jeffrey Sharlet's groundbreaking Harper's Magazine article, was published online. This article entitled "Family Fortunes", in a paragraph quoting the president of the Fellowship Foundation, observed:

"'We have hundreds of people working all around the world. We see ourselves as a Family. This is a group that believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ and that believes in the spirit of Christ.' He even maintained you could be a Muslim or a Jew and be part of the Family. You just have to believe, he said, that the New Testament’s I Corinthians: 13 has a message for everyone:. . .

"But the Family is worrisome for other people, especially because its central mission is to capture the politically powerful within a governmental system supposedly based on the separation of church and state — and this government now has, both supporters and critics agree, imperial power over the world. . . .

"On the Fellowship Foundation’s annual Form 990 tax-exempt-organization report to the Internal Revenue Service, under 'Relationship of Activities to Accomplishment of Exempt Purposes,' the foundation declares that its aim is 'to identify laymen who have an understanding of what it means to work towards a leadership led by God and introduce them to others with similar goals and interests.' Theocracy literally means government by God, and it could be defined as 'a leadership led by God.'"

Note the emphasis on the goal of developing "leadership" in the quoted paragraph above. Leadership development happens to be a major global focus of neo-evangelical leaders working on dominionism and "tranformation." It is not known for sure how many of these neo-evangelical leaders might be members of the "Fellowship" because of its covert operations. But the Fellowship Foundation has a deeply disturbing philosophy about leadership, which was described by Sharlet in the Harper's article:

"The day I worked at C Street I ran into Doug Coe, who was tutoring Todd Tiahrt, a Republican congressman from Kansas. A friendly, plainspoken man with a bright, lazy smile, Coe has worked for the Family since 1959, soon after he graduated from college, and has led it since 1969.

"Tiahrt was a short shot glass of a man, two parts flawless hair and one part teeth. He wanted to know the best way 'for the Christian to win the race with the Muslim.' The Muslim, he said, has too many babies, while Americans kill too many of theirs.

"Doug agreed this could be a problem. But he was more concerned that the focus on labels like 'Christian' might get in the way of the congressman's prayers. Religion distracts people from Jesus, Doug said, and allows them to isolate Christ's will from their work in the world.

'People separate it out,' he warned Tiahrt. '“'Oh, okay, I got religion, that's private.'" As if Jesus doesn't know anything about building highways, or Social Security. We gotta take Jesus out of the religious wrapping.'

“'All right, how do we do that?' Tiahrt asked.

“'A covenant,' Doug answered. The congressman half-smiled, as if caught between confessing his ignorance and pretending he knew what Doug was talking about. 'Like the Mafia,' Doug clarified. 'Look at the strength of their bonds.' He made a fist and held it before Tiahrt's face. Tiahrt nodded, squinting. 'See, for them it's honor,' Doug said. 'For us, it's Jesus.'

"Coe listed other men who had changed the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their 'brothers': 'Look at Hitler,' he said. 'Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden.' The Family, of course, possessed a weapon those leaders lacked: the 'total Jesus' of a brotherhood in Christ.

“'That's what you get with a covenant,' said Coe. 'Jesus plus nothing.'”

Inventing a Dalai Lama Jesus for the new global kingdom

Astute readers may already be noticing the striking parallels between the nebulous "Jesus" of the emerging church movement and that of this Fellowship Foundation, which has found common ground with the Dalai Lama. The emerging church is also redefining the biblical Jesus Christ into a nebulous, mystical idol. Both groups are chipping away at any remnants of traditional "religion" and introducing neo-gnostic, quasi-Buddhist abstractions. Both groups are working to find common ground with Hindus, Muslims, etc. by adopting an inclusive, nebulous-Jesus worshipping religion. And both groups are dominionist.

Berit Kjos, leading expert on global church development, has recently written an article entitled "Who defines the Kingdom of God? A rebuttal to Brian McLaren's new book: The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything." She begins this important article by asking:

"Where is the Kingdom of God? How inclusive is it? Who defines the terms?

"'What if Jesus' secret message reveals a secret plan?" asks Brian McLaren in his new book, The Secret Message of Jesus. 'What if he didn't come to start a new religion--but rather came to start a political, social, religious, artistic, economic, intellectual, and spiritual revolution that would give birth to a new world?'[1-page 4]

"Nothing secret about that notion! That's what many believed back when Jesus first demonstrated His power among His people. But Jesus corrected them with these words: 'My kingdom is not of this world.' John 18:36

"Yet emerging church movements today are still trying to move the boundaries of His Kingdom. They have redefined God's Word and are fast embracing the latest versions of the old Gnostic quest for secret knowledge (gnosis) and self-actualization, whether through mystical experience or collective imagination."

The Truth:

"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto ? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblines, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;" (Isaiah 1:11-16)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Building a Kingdom for a Nebulous Jesus

Must reading for anyone seeking to understand the rise of Christian dominionism is the article cited in yesterday's Herescope post: "Jesus Plus Nothing" by Jeffrey Sharlet, originally published in Harper's Magazine, March 2003.

In this article, Sharlet chronicled his journey into the Christian dominionism underground, a shadowy Washington, D.C.-based "Fellowship" group. This organization, according to Sharlet and other observers, required oaths ("covenants"), maintained secrecy, and was built upon a hierarchical cell model. The authoritarian structure was monastic, and authoritarian, not unlike the abusive shepherding cults of the past several decades.

A follow-up interview with Jeffrey Sharlet was conducted later in 2003 and is archived. In this interview Sharlet details the cult-like atmosphere surrounding the "Fellowship" and subsequent threats to his life:

"Would there be consequences for your friend who recommended you, if he was to be named?
"I don't know, but I can tell you that ever since the article has come out, a lot of people have gotten in touch with me. Some former residents of Ivanwald, who will only speak anonymously because they're afraid of retaliation. Some have already experienced retaliation, people who are still working in this world. There's a whole range of corporations associate with the Family, and you might be working for this guy who's a part of it, and he hears that you've been causing trouble and so takes action. I've received an email saying that I would be dealt with as a traitor, vaguely threatening letters. Other people have gotten in contact with me hiding the fact that they were involved with the Family. . . ."

". . . And then one day they had this ritual where they trick you and another guy to get down on the floor and lie on your belly to arm-wrestle, and you're arm-wrestling to prove your manhood. And you start to do it, and they all jump on you and start beating you. It's called a 'Fumble'. So there's 15 people beating and hitting me, and by this time I had already been there a couple of weeks and thought this place was weird. When this beating happened, I just hit back with full force because I was really scared. And they liked that, they liked the fact that I hit back. That was their idea of manliness, . . . "

Taking Over Governments

Sharlet's original Harper's Magazine article details some sensitive negotiations that took place between leaders of the Fellowship and leaders of African nations, particularly Rwanda. This information, while not significant at the time, sheds considerable light on Rick Warren's easy foray into creating a purpose-driven government structure in that country. Further, Sharlet's comments in the follow-up interview reveal how the Fellowship was working to change the government of Fiji -- a significant nation in the George Otis Transformation video series:

"I started running into all these political figures there and hearing about how all these political negotiations had occurred at The Cedars, their private mansion headquarters. I was shown a video about the island of Fiji and their leader. And you can say, well, who cares about Fiji? Well, this is how they work, small country by small country. Fiji now is a theocracy. And they take credit for that. And I thought, this is quite messed up. I started asking questions, and started writing a journal of what was going on and looking around.

"They talk about Hitler all the time, and I asked what the deal was with that, and they said, 'Oh no, it's just his leadership skills that we like.' When I left, I discovered their archives and there's seventy years of the Family making friends with the world's worst and nastiest of world leaders."


Sharlet concludes this enlightening interview with the following frightening observations:

"So what do you think is the end result that they're after? Is it only "power" in the abstract sense?
"They state their goals in their private documents pretty explicitly. A world leadership led by Christ. Every single world leader and politician making every decision under Christ's will. And you could quibble over semantics, but I would say that worldwide theocracy is their goal."

The two previous Herescope posts detailed the "Fellowship's" role in leading the way towards finding common ground with other faiths. Two nebulous slogans: "Jesus plus nothing" and "in the name of Jesus" were tossed about in mind-numbing fashion to evoke agreement with this heretical cause. Herescope commented that this "Jesus" was a nebulous sort, ill-defined sort of fellow that conveniently fitted any marketing modality. In fact, Sharlet makes this same point repeatedly in his article and interview. It is obvious that no one introduced him to the biblical Jesus while spending time with this cult. Rather this Jesus was a "kingdom-building" Jesus who was setting up a theocracy on earth. In the Harper's article, Sharlet commented on this mystical "Jesus":

"Their faith and practice seemed closer to a perverted sort of Buddhism, their God outside 'the truth,' their Christ everywhere and nowhere at once."

The Truth:

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;" (Ephesians 2:9-10)