Monday, July 16, 2007

Proposing "A New Theology"

Part 2: The Doctrines of Dominionism

“We are on a journey now with that unfolding where… all that has been messed up through the Fall, all that has happened to try to get things off its path, it is on an assured, definitely assured, path of restoration -- till we get back to the right constitution of this -- the way that we were made, and intended to be, from the start. So we are in a process of all things being restored, reconstituted to this stated declared order and purpose.”
--Dutch Sheets, School of the Prophets conference, 2002 [emphasis added].

“The Earth and all of creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, the time when they will come into their maturity and immortalization.... When the Church receives its full inheritance and redemption then creation will be redeemed from its cursed condition of decay, change and death... the Church has a responsibility and ministry to the rest of creation. Earth and its natural creation is anxiously waiting for the Church to reach full maturity and come to full sonship. When the Church realizes its full sonship, its bodily redemption will cause a redemptive chain reaction throughout all of creation.”
--Bill Hamon, The Eternal Church, p. 385 [emphasis added].

--"In my opinion whatever we may have to go through now is less than nothing compared with the magnificent future God has planned for us. The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of god coming into their own. The world of creation cannot as yet see reality, not because it chooses to be blind, but because in God's purpose it has been so limited - yet it has been given hope. And the hope is that in the end the whole of created life will be rescued from the tyranny of change and decay, and have its share in that magnificent liberty which can only belong to the children of God."

This blog began several years ago, in September 2005, by posting a series about two Consultations on the Future that were held in the late 1970s that co-mingled evangelical leaders with New Age leaders. One of the key elements that came out of these consultations was a consensus, articulated by Ron Sider that "we felt it crucial for the church to reexamine its ecclesiology" (Evangelicals Face the Future, 1978, p. 17). But more than that, the Consultation also proposed a new eschatology -- "alternative futures" for the church (p. 77).

In order to come up with an alternative future scenario for eschatology, the men at the first Consultation began discussing the need to re-visit Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Was the Fall really all that bad? Couldn't the effects of it be reversed by man's activities on earth? Shouldn't man be able to overcome his basic sin nature? Could this then have an effect on creation itself by reversing the ill effects of the Fall upon nature? All of these questions opened the door to the consideration of heresy.

At the First Consultation Leighton Ford categorized classic eschatology as "pessimistic":

"Part of our reason for meeting in this conference is to re-examine our storehouse of images of the future. . . . Is it necessary for us to limit the evangelical image of the future to an outlook which is uniformly pessimistic? . . . Or are we responsible to keep in mind alternative images which prepare us to extend unexpected victories. . . ?" (Ibid, p. 31) [emphases added]

Ford opened the door a crack to the dominionist eschatology when he proposed that there could be "a period within history in which the glorious power of the redemption of Christ would be at least partially previewed before the nations" on earth. (p. 27)

He furthermore asked,

"Should we not anticipate the first fruits of the eternal kingdom to appear however imperfectly in our personal lives, in the body of Christ, and in society?"

This suggestion deviated from classical view of the kingdom of God, because he then elaborated:

"Should we not expect Him [Christ] to win victories, however, incomplete, even in this present evil age? . . . [W]e must also always be ready to extend His rule still further within history when He sends us special times of refreshing." (p. 27) [emphasis added]

After alluding to the "spheres" of society (see recent posts on this topic), Ford proposed that Jesus could become "Lord. . . across the whole spectrum of human affairs," including "civic involvement." (p. 40)

As we mentioned, in our original series of posts on Herescope in September/October 2005, the evangelical leaders had already become enamored with Willis Harman, one of the world's leading Theosophists. One of the stated purposes of the Consultations was to integrate Harman's alternative eschatology with evangelical eschatology. Consultation presenter E.V. Newland, proposed creating an "imaginative hybrid" of eschatology based on Harman's models:

"Well, what then could be a transformed society? We are very impressed. We have links with people who are looking at these areas, sadly perhaps only from the secular groups or the academia. We are not yet in touch with theological colleges. We have established in that way contact with people who are thinking about a transformed society and they are exemplified by the Stanford Research Institute where there is a little group that's called the Social Science Research Unit and it's led by a man you have in your prospectus here, Willis Harmon [sic]. He is an engineer and he thinks about the future image of man so he's looking at some very fundamental changes. He surprisingly has the same other two scenarios that we work on as a coincidence. . . [T]he California school feels that the next 30 years or hundred years is going to be a period in which we'll restore this balance of inward man and outward man. . . . (pp. 81-83) [emphases added]

In the official response to E.V. Newland's presentation, Gordon MacDonald articulated more of the new eschatology which, along the lines of the "spheres" again, included understanding "the nature of the structures of government and business and education and the arts and how to proliferate them." He proposed that the church consider developing "a new theology that takes in the whole person" [emphasis in original]. MacDonald then elaborated:

" . . .[O]ne of the great untouched frontiers of theology are the first two chapters of the book of Genesis: And what in the world was the nature of the human being before that moment of rebellion against God? Dr. Newland talks about some of the metaphysical awareness that comes out of India, and the continental drift psychically, metaphysically moving North America to India. . . . who says that more and more human beings today are trying to reach down beneath the trap door of their minds to discover again the inner space that we have so long disregarded. . . .

"There may be all kinds of things out there that Christians ought to be on the frontier of discovering that may help us in the work of God to recover some of the things that human beings were capable of before sin entered the world. . . . For example, . . . Is there something in E.S.P.? Did men and women have a capacity for E.S.P. communication before sin, a capacity which was dulled and anesthetized before sin had such a deadly effect? . . . My personal belief is that really the story of the gospel is a world of magnificent creation which declares the glory of God, a world touched by sin, a world now in the process of recovery to the Lordship and Saviorhood of Jesus Christ. . . . But this is a period of history when God will allow us to rediscover gradually the stuff of creation." (p. 87-89) [emphases added]

This quotation above puts the current craze for meditative practices in the evangelical church into a new perspective. Is this all just an attempt to re-gain man's pre-Fall nature through meditation/contemplation? The heresy here is that man can somehow go through a "process of recovery" to overcome his fallen nature. Obviously, this heresy negates the need for the Cross if man, by his own psychic machinations, can supposedly gain access to a pre-Fall perfection.

Barbara Marx Hubbard, Willis Harman, Marilyn Ferguson and a host of other New Age Theosophists had indeed been working on creating a new consciousness, and Ferguson published the Brain/Mind Bulletin for years. Author Constance Cumbey describes their relationship:

"Marilyn Ferguson. Marilyn Ferguson was the protégé of SRI’s Willis Harman. Harman was also known to New Age Movement researchers as one of the leaders of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS). Willis Harman, SRI’s director of policy research, was one of Marilyn Ferguson’s most quoted sources about the Old Left/New Age spirituality marriage – one that promised to result, he said, in 'a social and historic phenomena as great and pervasive as the Protestant Reformation. . . .'" [emphasis added]

These Theosophist leaders also worked on their own alternative eschatology. Hubbard wrote a book about it entitled The Revelation. Key quotes from this book concerning her "Armageddon alternative" can be found in in Chapter 8 of Warren Smith's book Reinventing Jesus Christ, now posted on-line. The parallels to the alternative eschatologies of the Latter Rain movement, forerunner to the modern New Apostolic Reformation, as evidenced in the quotations at the top of this post, are both startling and disturbing.

(To be continued. . . . )

The Truth:

"O how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:29)