Thursday, March 29, 2007

Networking Mission

"The World Christian Movement is not a single organization, but rather a network of organizations working toward the same goal. They use many of the same resources and incorporate the same buzzwords to define and implement their mission."
--Al Dager, "U.S. Center for World Mission," The World Christian Movement (Sword, 2001) [emphasis added]

A discussion of the networking of the church would not be complete unless it also examines the networking of global mission groups.

The two grandfathers of the global mission movement are Billy Graham and Ralph Winter. Creating this movement was a goal of the original neoevangelicals (see article here). An overview of the history of the U.S. Center for World Mission can be found in Al Dager's book The World Christian Movement. This book is a concise history of the major leaders of the modern mission movement and summarizes their aberrant doctrines. Almost all of the world mission groups were either spawned downline from these two men, or were networked into their system through their umbrella mission agencies, conferences, parachurch groups, education and training, and other activities.

Dager explains historically that: "Until the middle of the nineteenth century, missions were conducted by denominations and individual churches with a vision to take the Gospel to heathen lands" (p. 7). This would be the "old world order" missionary work where local churches sent out missionaries, or associations of churches would cooperate in sending missionaries to the field. This old fashioned way of doing missions ensured doctrinal purity and integrity along denominational lines.

The "new world order" of mission activity is vastly different. The mission movement was intentionally set up based on the systems model (also known as General Systems Theory -- see previous posts). "Networking" is more sophisticated than simple ecumenism. It is a way to burrow down deeply through organizational structures through stealth to infiltrate and diffuse new ideas that will begin to change things. Networking has the effect of leaven, when it comes to doctrine and practice, permeating an existing organization with new thoughts, new ideas, and new doctrines via missionary training, cross-pollination with other groups, partnerships, and the more sophisticated "collaboration."

Networking came of age in the computer era, becoming more sophisticated with the rising complexity of computers. But global mission networking encompassed more than simple cataloguing of information. The mission leaders also began integrating psychology, sociology, anthropology and a host of other "soft" disciplines into their activities. This combination systematized global mission databanking along the lines of ethnicity and other socio-cultural data. This style of data collection was "sold" to the evangelical world as a method of completing the "Great Commission." Evangelization replaced evangelism as the byword for this activity, indicating a new focus of social and political action, and the dominionist emphasis of making disciples of all nations.

A seedbed for much of the early activity in networking systems applied to mission was the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA). Many of the early mission leaders such as J. Edwin Orr, Ralph Winter, Wesley Duewel, Edward R. Dayton, Kenneth L. Pike, etc., were active members of this group, which was formed in the early 1940s as a scientific organization. In September 1962 its newsletter reported that four new disciplines had been added: natural sciences, psychology, social sciences and philosophy. In December 1966 the newsletter reported that:

"Physical Sciences group was led by Joe E. Lingerfelt, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Westmont College and Consulting Senior Research Engineer for General Motors Defense Research Laboratories, Santa Barbara. In viewing the ways in which ASA can make a future contribution, three distinct but not exclusive areas were seen. One is the practical application of modern engineering concepts to the technical problems involved in fulfilling the gospel commission. For example, systems engineering approaches using such techniques as PERT for planning and carrying out overseas mission programs. It was pointed out, however, that no such effort could be complete without effort in the second area involving the Christian world view development." [emphasis added] [Ed Note: PERT is the acronym for Program Evaluation and Review Technique.]

These scientists were enamored of the rising high-tech industries at that time period. They were looking to "borrow" the tools, methods and techniques and apply them to creating a world mission movement. Like so many other movements that happened in the 1960s, bigger was better, newer was better, and few raised questions about the ethics of applying emerging new technologies to human beings. Ed Dayton (Missions Advanced Research and Communications Center, World Vision), noted in a March 1968 newsletter:

"'If your company had a contract to evangelize the world, what would you do?

"With this titillating thought Edward R. Dayton, Director, Missions Advanced Research Center (MARC), Fuller Theological Seminary, launched into an interesting consideration of the problems of communicating the Christian message. He feels that the systems approach which has been so successful in the $3 billion Apollo project has something to offer. Working backward on a PERT-type diagram, Dayton emphasized the primary importance of gospel communications in which we scarcely understand the problem. Disciplined planning, a knowledge of the resources, an information and communication system and research were also identified as critical elements. MARC's part in making a start in some of these needy areas was explained through a filmstrip."

An October 1972 newsletter detailed Dayton's development of the prototype global databanking system for world mission activities:


"Missions Advanced Research and Communications Center (MARC) of Monrovia, California, is a division of World Vision International. It was founded by Edward R. Dayton five years ago to put computers to work effectively for the church, particularly in the task of world evangelism.

". . .ASA News asked Ed to tell us how he happened to start MARC. . . .

""In 1964, 1 was happily settled with my family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as an assistant engineering manager for systems at the Lear Siegler Corporation. Just as we had decided to settle down to a happy life in 'New Jerusalem,' my boss tole me I was leaving. I was being offered a job in two of the company's other engineering divisions as an engineering division manager or vice president. The Lord used this opportunity to uproot us in a rather breathless way.'

"'Within six weeks I had sold our house in Grand Rapids and bought one in Pasadena, enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary, been granted a Fellowship from the Ford Foundation, and become a management consultant for Leer Siegler Corporation. The fellowship was administered by the Dean of General Studies of Columbia University and allowed a year's scholarship at an institution of higher learning to those wanting to change careers in mid-stream. (A primary purpose of the grants was to study the participants, so I was processed through an interviewer at Columbia and a bank of psychologists to see if my head was screwed on right.)'

"'About four months into my new career as a 40-year seminarian, I ran into Ted Engstrom of World Vision. In a talk he gave, he wondered what else God might be able to do with the computer system World Vision used to keep track of its finances and its Childcare program. Foolishly, or providentially (you'll have to check your theology on that), I told him about innumerable other things that could be done with computers. This led to a series of discussions with Ted Engstrom, David Hubbard (president of Fuller), Donald Gavran (dean of the Fuller School of World Mission), Paul Rees (vice-president at large of World Vision), and Don Gill (executive director of the Evangelistic Association of New England).'

"'These discussions led to some exploration with McGavran, Alan Tippett, and three other missionaries, of how one would go about applying aerospace-management planning techniques to world evangelism. By the summer of 1966, 1 was convinced that God was leading us into interesting fields of inquiry, although I still felt I was going to seminary to become a minister. At the Congress of World Evangelism in Berlin in November 1966, we had a display (some called it a sideshow) on the use of technology in evangelism. We centered on the systems approach, planning and research being the keys, vis-a-vis "acceptable technology" such as radio, TV, airplanes, etc.'

"'By then it seemed that the fat was in the fire. In early 1967 we started planning something we called the Missions Advanced Research and Communication Center, "a division of World Vision Incorporated, in cooperation with the School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary." When I graduated in 1967, 1 joined World Vision, and MARC was formally launched. . . .'

"'Today, as a division of World Vision, we have a small staff of technologists: computer specialists, information scientists, statistical engineers, and a missionary researcher. These are supported by ten assistant researchers, information handlers, and secretaries. We make use of the publication and computer-processing resources of World Vision. We're now finishing a four-year pilot project in Brazil. We believe this project demonstrates the power of useful information to plan new directions for evangelism within a country. . . .'

"'We received about 3,500 requests for information from all over the world, mostly on what others are doing, and from this we are gradually building up a bank of information. We participated in putting together North American Protestant Ministries Overseas, a directory of all North American missionary work in other countries, and we co-edited the World Christian Handbook coming out in 1972. This gives us probably one of the largest banks of information on the work of the church around the world. We've also developed a rather sophisticated name-handling system; with it we can store information about Christian specialists who have talents they want to be used for the Lord.'"

"Incidentally, I've had some discussion with Dick Bube and others about the possibility of MARC and ASA getting together on a project. For instance, we could create an ASA directory that would include much more information than the present directory: the skills and background of all members, plus the areas of distinctly Christian service they're into at present.

"[W]e have also put on a number of training seminars to teach a systems approach to Christian and mission management problems, and we have held two-day 'Managing Your Time' seminars for local pastors. Our major goal in all of this is to 'give every person in the world an opportunity to say Yes to Jesus Christ.' I have a firm belief that God gives tools to each age to be used for His glory." [typos in original]

The human systems management model referenced above may have been influenced by the first prototype in that era, coincidentally implemented in California in the late 1960s during Reagan's tenure as governor, called Planning, Programming, Budgeting System (PPBS), which was based on an input-outcome economic system theory. This onerous system was first used in the federal Department of Defense under McNamara (go here or here to read more).

From that point on the evangelical missionary activity across the globe began to be catalogued in a networking fashion, tracking people groups, missionaries, agencies, churches, activities, leaders, etc. As computerization became more sophisticated, mission databanking grew right along with it.

The Truth:

" . . . they hunt every man his brother with a net." (Micah 7:2b)

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Synergy River

Networking the Church: Part 8

“'I set the rivers free for all mankind,’ says that most ancient of mystical writings, the Rig Veda. . . .
“Just as we must trust ourselves to the buoyancy of water if we are to swim, we can relax into that flow. . . . The novices in Zen monasteries are called unsui, cloud-water. They are meant to move freely, to form and reform spontaneously, to seek a way around obstacles. In ancient traditions, consciousness itself is pictured as an emergent wave from the source. . . . "
--Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (J.P Tarcher, 1980) p. 380 [emphasis added]

“The prophetic streams across this nation are uniting to sound a clear trumpet for the future! This uniting of the streams will form the bedrock for revelation for the River of Revival! Prophets help to prepare the way for the Apostles to establish the Lord's Church.”
--National School of the Prophets Conference brochure, 1999.

“. . . [F]rom the Biblical revelation, the river normally represents the people of God. It is, in fact, a vivid picture of the people of God in motion: being fruitful, acknowledging the presence of God, experiencing the peace of God, receiving the provision of God, knowing the power of God to fulfill the plan of God. God's people in motion, as a source of spiritual life in a parched, dry world.”
--Luis Bush, “A Brief Historical Overview of the AD2000 & Beyond Movement and Joshua Project 2000, 1996.

“The River” is a network!

To understand the networking church, one must understand the metaphor of “the river,” which has been used as a motif for an endtime Latter Rain style signs and wonders “revival.” This "river" has been extensively written and talked about for the past several decades amongst the hyper-charismatic "prophets" and "apostles."

The architecture of a network corresponds to the imagery of a multitude of streams converging into one big river. Similarly, the tiniest nodes of the net connect with other nodes, forming networks. These networks begin by partnering and collaborating, then integrating and fusing, ultimately synthesizing and synergizing. New waves of this "river" come crashing in and create new networks. Walls are broken down from the cascading flood and more rivulets unite.

Unity in diversity. Each new co-mingling of the waves serves as a catalyst in which the whole becomes greater than the parts.

Think of all of the new movements within evangelicaldom the past 20-30 years. Each new movement is heralded as a new wave, a new force, an "emerging," a new work of the "spirit," a new "unity," etc. But all of these movements are streams that converge into this "River."

“The River” is a convergence, a new social force for cultural and spiritual change. It is a networking movement of the type described by Marilyn Ferguson in her book The Aquarian Conspiracy, operating like other New Age movements by stealth and design to infiltrate the old structures and create vast uncharted waterways for new structures, and methods of information and control. Ferguson wrote:

“We will look at the undercurrents of change in politics and the emergence of networks as a new social form—the institution of our age, an unprecedented source of power for individuals.” (p. 41) [emphasis added]

“The River” is also “emergent” – the birth of a new spiritual creature upon the face of the earth representing unparalleled global ecumenism, cooperation and syncretism. This spiritual anomaly is rapidly gaining strength and volume. It is devouring everything in its sight, reaching into vast uncharted territories beyond the Church body itself. It intends to flood across the culture – changing the tide of economic systems, governments, education, the arts, health care, and much more -- all streams merging into a behemoth Corporate Spiritual State with unprecedented power.

One of the cutting-edge organizations, working to network these new streams into "The River" is Transform World. Its Transformational Covenant describes its nature as:

“This is a ‘God-movement.’ Streams of transformation from all over the world are converging into one great river of transformation so that the people of God are beginning to move with the power, the presence, and the peace of God. This is bringing healing in the churches that is overflowing in the healing of the nations. Transformation is becoming a unifying vision of the church’s mission.”

Transform World is dominionist, serving as a high-powered catalyst for collaborations between church and state worldwide under the guise of missionary activity. Its leaders include Luis Bush, Ed Silvoso, Graham Power, and a host of other well-known leadership in the mission arena. Its “transformation” agenda, achieved via networking, has to do with changing governments, the workplace, society, culture and ultimately restoring paradise to the planet Earth.

Luis Bush articulates the various streams of this "River" movement in a paper he authored several years ago, which has been widely dispersed in various forms throughout the mission world, entitled “Transformational Streams are becoming one Fast-flowing River for the Healing of Nations.” Bush’s AD 2000 & Beyond Movement was lauded by C. Peter Wagner as ”the central catalytic movement of the decade for synchronizing the numerous worldwide forces for evangelism that God has been preparing for these times."

Bush identifies “Five Major Transformational Streams” in his article:

"Five major transformational streams are flowing across the world: the revivalist stream, the church growth stream, the city-reaching stream and the stream engaged in the transformational development of the poor and market-place redemption stream. These diverse transformational streams converge into the same “transformational river.”

". . .There are five main streams of transformation:

  • Saturation church planting movements working in a spirit of cooperation, resulting in healthy churches in every class and kind of people, and within practical and relational reach of every person, that are permeating every segment of society with the love, truth and saving power of Jesus Christ.
  • Emphasis on divine visitation and revival. God acts on the Church bringing revival and He acts on society bringing spiritual awakening. What is taking place in Fiji today is an example of this transformational stream. [Ed. note: This is George Otis's planetary "transformation."]
  • City-reaching: Obedience to God as an apostolic people with an apostolic mission to transform peoples, places and the culture within which the Church lives.
  • Pioneer marketplace redemption. The marketplace—the combination business, education and government—constitutes the heart of a nation. To change an individual his or her heart must be changed, and similarly, a nation transformed the marketplace must be transformed. An important key to take the Kingdom of God to the marketplace is found in Jesus' parable of the Minas (Luke 19:10-27) where believers are instructed to business to gain authority over cities by using Kingdom principles.
  • Transformational development of the poor through community development. This involves creating a better future for the poor. Jajakumar Christian, World Vision, India, sees poverty as a set of disempowering systems. There is the biophysical system--body and mind--which represents the basic human needs of health and education. There is the cultural system in terms of inadequacies in worldview. There is the captivity to god-complexes of the non-poor and deception by principalities and powers, promoting anti-life and deception through the religious systems. These all interact and contribute to a the disempowerment and marred identity of the poor. [Bold in original, italics are added for emphasis, errors in original]

Luis Bush describes this mission transformation process in dominionist terms:

“An effort to define a comprehensive approach to transformation must be ‘rooted in the theology of the mission of the Kingdom of God and seeks to express the Lordship of Jesus over every aspect of life, economic, religious, personal, political. It does not give priority to any area of life as an area for mission . . . but this change will be effected whenever people address issues of life directly, rooted in a gospel perspective.’ As the head of the church Christ initiates and His body responds—as one body. Transformation associates are now gathering to contemplate then seek to cooperate with the beauty of God’s movements. The basic idea behind ‘transformation coordination’ is that, not only can we do more together than we can separately, but we move to a new ministry realm which operates on entirely new laws of input and output. Like the gushing forth of the waters the love of God through the people of God unleashes multiple mission initiatives in which divine resources are channelled through willing servants to meet human needs to the glory of God. A comprehensive movement to bless the nations includes many emphases." [bold added]

Bush concludes the document with this description of transformation:

The word transformation and its cognates have emerged as an expression of mission throughout the Christian world today. For example, representatives from seventeen Christian relief and development organizations met in February 2004 and agreed on a statement that expresses their vision as a collective association that the whole Church become a transforming and transformed sign of Christ’s Kingdom among all people.

Different transformational streams, each with its own approach, are flowing into a river of transformation. As the river of transformation moves across the earth individuals, churches, communities, cities and nations are being transformed by the power of God through the people of God for the glory of God.” [bold emphases added]

To see the new face of global missions carefully examine Luis Bush’s “Community Transformation Indicators” article, which has a graphic illustration of the confluence of all of these streams into a "Transformational Development Framework” with “Domains of Change” that encompasses the totality of society. This “World Vision’s Transformational Development Indicators” evidences extreme social controls, a globalized welfare system for the poor, and an exhaustive and intrusive data collection process with "inputs and outputs" continually evaluated with complex assessments. In other words, this is what C. Peter Wagner calls "sociologically verifiable transformation." This human development system obviously isn't going to be paradise for the poor on earth!

And this “Synergy River” of networking movements obviously isn’t about the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

The Truth:

“And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters.” (Revelation 17:1)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Parable of the Failing Furniture Shop

The following parable is a vivid example of what happens when new methods are substituted for the old standards.

There was once a furniture shop located in an industrious community that was well known for its production of fine quality furniture. A group of corporate investors bought the shop. They purchased all the tools, owned the building, and hired men of skill and integrity. The shop foreman was also handpicked by the investors, and placed in charge of shop production, as well as marketing and sales.

It was the policy of the investors to supply all the employees with quality tape measures. These tape measures were purchased from a manufacturer who carefully followed the national/official weights and measurement standards.

In the process of time, some of the workers became careless with the use of their tape measures. Some did not keep them clipped to their belt, but let them lay in places where they fell to the floor, bending the tips, causing small discrepancies in their measurements.

The workers in the assembly department were the first to have problems. They checked the measurements on the blueprints and noted some small discrepancies. The assembly workers confronted their fellow employees in the cutting department. Those cutting the parts countered with charges of “you are too picky!” and “who placed you in charge of quality control?” “Stay in your department” were their last words to the assembly workers. The assembly department tried their best but ended up with tables out of square and wobbly. Some of the drawers were too large for the openings, and there were gaps on some joints too large for wood filler.

An appeal was made to the shop foreman who in turn called for an employee conference. All employees were instructed to bring their tape measures and were asked to testify whether they used them. No one bothered to inspect the tape measures for damage, nor did the shop foreman take time to mingle with the employees to observe how they used their tape measures. Animosity and tension mounted between the two departments. The frequency of employee conferences increased. Most ended with a vote to “do better” after charges and counter charges were made.

As the years went by, some workers in the cutting department broke, or even lost their tapes measures. Instead of asking for new ones, some made their own measuring devices from the scraps of lumber that were piling up due to the rejection of parts by the assembly department. A few of the workers in both departments considered themselves “men with a good eye” claiming that they no longer needed a tape measure.

Conflicts intensified between the two departments, and on occasion tapes were angrily thrown at one another. Others found it convenient to use their homemade measuring sticks to “thump” an adversarial fellow employee.

At employee conferences led by the shop foremen, nobody checked to see if the employees had their tape measures with them at the meetings.

The shop foreman fired a number of employees whom he determined to be too outspoken at the meetings. Several employees were fired for suggesting that the foreman be in the production areas. “It was not my job to work there. I was not hired to cut or assemble.” Furthermore he felt his position was superior to those cutting and assembling. It insulted his ego to think that these “laborers” might dare advise him.

And it came to pass that the investors became alarmed by the loss of profits from the business. They hired specialists to come to the furniture shop and evaluate production. Rather than visit the shop during working hours, they, too, called for a meeting with all current employees, including the shop foreman.

After introductions and acknowledgements of credentials by the specialists, it was not long until charges and counter charges erupted from both departments. One of the investors who had been trained in public relations skills called for an “affirmation” vote to make the shop a success. He led the employees in a number of chants, “We will succeed, we will succeed, more production is what we need.” This was followed by wild applause, whistling and cheers.

A vote to agree to work together was taken, followed by the cheer. A final recommendation was made to send the foreman to take a series of management skills retreats, all expenses paid. A vocal vote was taken for support of the move. The “ayes” far outnumbered the “nays.”

One of the investors had remained silent throughout the meeting. Before a formal motion was made for dismissal, he rose to speak. As he did so, he opened his case and removed a computer. He projected photos on the wall, accompanied by audio from the furniture shop’s two production areas. This investor had come to the shop, unsuspected by the employees or the shop foreman. He had introduced himself as a reporter interested in the shop’s production. He had snapped photos from both departments, along with accompanying sound bites.

The room was quiet as the camera zoomed in to show bent and dented ends on tape measures.

There were a few chuckles as they watched several employees using their homemade measuring sticks. A burst of laughter broke out as one image showed a man looking at a blueprint, eyeing a board, placing a pencil mark at a perceived spot, then cutting the part to size. The object of the laughter was observed to be developing a reddish-pink tinge around the back of the neck.

The laughter quickly died as another picture displayed an outbreak of “all out war” between the two departments. Tape measures were seen being hurled at fellow employees accompanied by language that was far from complimentary. As opportunity afforded itself, those who held made-up measuring devices struck blows upon those who had charged them with errors in the past.

Following the presentation, the lone investor then asked, “How many of you brought your measuring devices to this meeting?” Those who didn’t were asked to go to the shop and return with them. After their return, the lone investor/owner opened a box of new tape measures, just like the ones given to all employees when the shop opened.

Walking to the shop, he returned with a board that was an approximately 36 inch long. He proceeded to use a new tape to make a mark with his pencil at exactly 24 inch.

He then asked each employee to bring his own measuring device and check its accuracy. One by one they came. Only a few had their original tapes in good working condition. Some were spliced with electrical tape. Discrepancies ranged from 1/16th inch to 3/8th inch. Some of them were as far as ¾ inch in error. Last, those who said they had an “eye” to measure were given a length of a stick and told to “use your eye and make a mark at 24 inch. No eyes proved to be accurate.

The lone investor then turned to address the shop foreman. In earnest he asked some pointed questions. “Why did you not leave your air-conditioned office and mingle with the employees? Why did you not inspect everyone’s tape measure when they came to employee meetings? Why did you not report to us as investors that you allowed unresolved conflicts to go unaddressed? Why did you not inform us of the huge stack of lumber, cut wrong and rejected by the assembly department?”

The shop foreman stood, head down, awaiting as it were, a verdict from a judge, but he stopped short of asking for a vote among the other investors to have him fired.

Returning to the box of new tape measures, the lone investor proposed his plan of action. A new tape measure would be offered to all the employees whose measuring devices failed the 24 inch test. There was this stipulation. All of the devices that failed in the test must be thrown in the large shop garbage can. Those who had maintained valid functional tape measures broke into large smiles, waiting for and urging their fellow employees to step up to get their new tapes. Seconds passed. No one moved. Minutes went by. The smiles faded and turned into furrowed brows.

It was the investor that proposed sending the foreman to the management skills seminar who broke the silence. “The plan is too simplistic,” he said. “Furthermore, it does not address the issues of interpersonal conflicts between the departments and shop foreman.”

He took charge and called for a vote to accept or reject the proposal of the lone investor. The vote was not even conducted by a raise of hands, but by verbal ayes and nays. A small sound of protest to his action was heard.

He then called for an adjournment of the meeting, after another vote of affirmation to do better was taken and passed.

Several weeks later, the shop foremen went to his scheduled seminar. He returned with great enthusiasm. He first led the employees in a few new chants like, “We are good, we knew we could!” The enthusiasm soon died when the production sheets were read. Charges and counter charges flew like poisoned arrows across the room. Only when the foreman called for a vote to agree to “do better” did any semblance of order return.

One month later, the company declared bankruptcy, and all of the employees were out of a job.

The lone investor who had proposed “too simplistic a plan” sought the few who had kept and used their original, well-maintained tape measures. They started a small shop, and a short time later, began to produce beautiful, functional pieces of furniture. Requests for their products increased and the little shop grew. A few former employees heard of the new shop and its growth, and applied for jobs. When told that they must accept the new tape measures and discard their old ones, they walked away and remained unemployed or filed for unemployment benefits.

The Truth:

Jeremiah 3:14-15: “Turn O backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and will bring you to Zion. And I will give you pastors according to my heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

Here now is the lesson of this parable:

The quality tape measure is like unto the Word of God. Negligence, abuse of, or disregard for its proper usage will bring serious consequences.

No amount of discussion, dialogue, or simple agreements to “do better” will substitute for the actual usage of quality, well-maintained tape measures.

The shop foreman is like unto a pastor of the flock. Unlike the shop foreman in the parable, pastors must work with and among their people. Special training in relationship and people management skills can never do what time spent with, and thoughtful observation of the needs of the congregation will do.

Those of us as pastors need to be close enough to our people so they can “know them which labor among them. . . . "

John 12:48: “He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

Posted with the permission of the author, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Networking the Church: Part 7

. . . There is a ministry after the five-fold called the ministry of perfection - the Melchisedek Priesthood . . . your children will be moving into the ministries of Perfection . . . coming into that Divine Nature of Jesus Christ . . . they themselves will be that generation that's raised up to put death itself underneath their feet . . . because the Lord Jesus is worthy to be lifted up by a church that has reached the full maturity of the GOD-MAN!
[Bob Jones, (Kansas City Fellowship) transcribed from 1988 tape]

"Jesus was sent by the Father, and His desire was to finish His mission. . . . This is why I call the apostolic anointing a 'finishing anointing.' It will take an apostolic Church to finish the Great Commission. To finish not only means to read the end of a task or course, it means something that completes, concludes or perfects.
"The Lord is preparing the Church to complete its task, and the apostolic ministry is absolutely essential to prepare the Church for this purpose. Without the ministry of the apostle, the Church will lack the necessary grace, power, and authority to finish or complete its mission."
[Hector Torres, The Restoration of the Apostles and Prophets (Thomas Nelson, 2001), p. 154-55, bold added]

There is a next stage to the New Apostolic Reformation!

The next-stage heresy is that the Church can attain immortality, perfection and godhood by taking dominion of the Earth. Its leaders speak of birthing a "Man-Child," a perfect "seed," a "New Breed." There is a "prophesied" end-time Feast of Tabernacles that is yet to be fulfilled, when there will be a perfection of the saints as they take dominion of the earth. And there is a teaching that "Christ and the Church are becoming one in nature and essence, and that the Church, as the 'on-going incarnation of God,' is Christ on earth." Al Dager, in his book Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion (Sword, 1990) explains this disturbing history as "various movements which basically comprise a networking system of individuals and groups" that teach that "man need not die; by taking hold of secret knowledge he can become like God" (pp. 66, 70-71). Dager elaborates:

"A sure sign of religious authoritarianism is a zealousness to rid the world of opposition to one's peculiar tenets. In the minds of many dominionists the authority of the apostles and prophets must not be questioned. Their rulership in the Kingdom of God (as they understand it) must be free from dissent. Therefore it will be necessary that those who challenge their teachings and their authority be removed.

"There are differences of opinion among dominionists as to how dissenters will be removed, but there are essentially five ways in which that may occur: 1) God will supernaturally strike dead those who oppose His apostles and prophets; 2) God will send, or allow satanic forces to send, plagues upon dissenters; 3) the Church (or certain 'overcomers') will pronounce God's judgments upon dissenters, thus moving God to destroy them; 4) the Church will, out of 'necessity,' use physical force by which it will judge, sentence, and execute judgment (including death) upon dissenters; 5) all or any combination of the above may take place.

"According to some dominionists, in order to effect this purging of the earth the overcomers must attain immortalization, thus becoming immune to any physical resistance o their program. Becoming immortal, and thus impervious to injury or death, will be the result of having attained spiritual perfection through obedience to the apostles and prophets." (pp. 96-97)

These heresies are described in the archived newsletters of Discernment Ministries, as it chronicled the rise of these heresies since the 1980s. One can also read about this teaching in the book Strange Fire: The Rise of Gnosticism in the Church, written by Travers van der Merwe, founder of Discernment Ministries, before he passed away in 1995. This entire book is posted on-line and is a must-read for those who seek to understand the Gnostic doctrinal roots of the New Apostolic Reformation. (This book also explains Gnosticism in an easy-to-understand manner.)

We excerpt "Chapter 5: The 'Elite' Concept:"

There are certain groups of Christians that fall into the category of "elitism" notwithstanding their affiliations. They use the same catch phrases: "Come out of your man-made systems", "Denominational walls are breaking down", and "Christians need to be 'delivered' from 'Spirits of Religion' and sound doctrine". The guilty groups are primarily among the Charismatics. They go by many names and sometimes no name at all. We spot them by the teachers that are involved and by similarities in their teachings. There may be some variations among the different groups; however the common denominator that ties them together is the "elitism" concept. This is set out as follows:

God is forming an overcoming company within the body of Christ called, among other names, "The Manchild Company", etc. (Revelation 12:5). The Manchild is the true church. Those that are the real Christians are the Overcomers (Revelation 2 & 3) and are becoming more and more perfected so that they will be able to drive Satan from the world. This must be done before Jesus can return. They believe that the church is not ready for the coming of the Lord. They are not looking for His imminent coming. They believe that Christ must come TO His Church before He comes FOR His Church.

All do not necessarily use this terminology, but the premises are the same. The language is becoming increasingly militant as the "Army of God", "Gideon's Army", or "Joel's Army" take shape. A common thread is that they are expecting a "New Order": "In all revolutions there are noisy and dangerous times as the OLD ORDER is replaced by the new . . . after the dust settles, we can proceed to build the beautiful kingdom that the Lord has purposed from the foundations of the world", says Vinson Synan, one of the leaders of A.D.2000. [Fulness, Jan-Feb 1990, Vinson Synan, p. 24]

Gary North, a leader of the Reconstructionists, proclaims:

"We are now witnessing the beginning of a true paradigm shift . . . the Christian community in the United States has at last begun to adopt the intellectual foundations of a new world view, and this is always the first step in the replacement of a dying civilization which is based on a dying world view . . . the rotten wood is ready for burning, and a new civilization is being prepared to replace it." [Dominion and Common Grace, The Biblical Basis of Progress, Gary North.]

It all has such a spiritual sounding ring. One of the modern day prophets, Paul Cain, calls this elitism the "inner court experience". He announces joyfully that there is an empty place on Jesus' bosom for those who can "enter in". The problem with this "elitism" theory is that Christians are to enter into the "inner court" of God, not by the way of the Cross, through faith, but through a subjective experience of a "nirvana" experience.

A Manifest Son adherent says:

"But the purpose of God reaches from before the foundation of the world. It plans the transplanting of his sons and his daughters. It plans the creation of a NEW ORDER (the elite) on the earth and thus it transplanted celestial children to a physical world. It brought them forth into being in the bodies of the Adamic race." [Tape recording by William Swift]

A "prophet" from the Kansas City Fellowship in an interview session in 1988 proclaims that the Lord looked at him and said, "I have called the best of every blood line in earth unto this generation . . . I have elected to bring them forth in this generation . . . the ELECT GENERATION." [Bob Jones transcribed from 1988 tapes]

This "New Breed" does not believe in the Rapture eschatology. According to Rick Joyner, one of the "Prophets":

". . .the doctrine of the Rapture was a great and effective ruse of the enemy to implant in the Church a retreat mentality . . . already this yoke has been cast off by the majority in the advancing church, and it will soon be cast off by all." [The Harvest, Rick Joyner]

The Scripture, Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:34-36) is being construed to mean that the imperfect one shall be taken (removed from the earth) and the perfect one left. Since the Elite (The Manifest Sons) are being perfected on earth, the true Church is to become The Christ - the ongoing Incarnation of Christ. Therefore, the Church as "The Christ" is empowered to drive all demons from the earth, perfect the Church and establish the Elect's reign. The emphasis is always on the super spiritual race rather than on the person, Jesus Christ. One well known teacher summed it up as follows: "It is time to take him (Jesus) off and move up into the place God has ordained for us."

This is heresy in its diabolic essence . . . .

. . . .Those who are overcomers believe they will never be sick or die and they will be here when Christ returns. They believe they are now living in the prophetic time when the Church is being restored and perfected by the five-fold ministries (apostles, prophets, etc.). The Elite (Overcomers) are now in the process of putting on immortality, perfection and godhood and taking dominion of the earth. The Church is about to birth the Man-child - the Sons of God, the incarnation of Christ and brotherhood of Christ.

The essence of this concept is pure Gnosticism and actually accords with the following New Age thought (Gnosticism):

"The real object of man's life on earth is primarily his self-improvement and his own ultimate perfection. This perfecting process depends upon the attainment of unity within himself, a harmonising between his physical and spiritual forces; the unity of human with the Divine nature, which is the essence and, in a spiritual sense, the NEW BIRTH. This perfection, or unity, becomes a STATE of the Soul, a degree of being, a SENSING and FEELING rather than a mere belief. This condition or state of being is possible only through the development of the divine nature of man from WITHIN himself and is the result of a process by which whatever is evil and unworthy is transmuted, i.e. changed or SUBLIMATED into the higher or spiritual entity - IT IS A BECOMING; the change from the purely animal-human to the human-Divine.

"The second object of man's life on earth is to lead other men VIA the same path so that ultimately all men shall have developed and brought into manifestation and activity this same nature and thus will God's church or universal Brotherhood become an established fact." [The Sons of God by R. Swinburnbe Clymer, Published by The Philosophical Publishing Company (emphasis theirs)]

Secret Coming for the Elite

The neo-Gnostic believes the manifestation of the Sons of God comes about in a secret inner coming of Christ TO some Christians which would transform them into "Overcomers". "Christ should visit the saints . . . and minister His life 'in secret' before He is openly manifest." [The Feast of Tabernacles, George Warnock, Springfield, MO - Bill Britton, 1951, pp 108]. In doing this they reject the literal resurrection and Rapture (the personal coming of Jesus Christ FOR His Church). It is interesting to note they will acknowledge Christ is coming, but His coming is off in the future. The emphasis is not on Christ's soon appearance but on the great "power" or "new anointing" that is to be manifest in the Church. Again, a subtle change of emphasis.

The Truth:

It is comforting for the humble believer to be reminded of this Scripture:

"The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him." (Nahum 1:7)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Servant Leaders

We interrupt this series to announce exciting news. Anton Bosch's new book Building Blocks of the Church: Re-examining the Basics is hot off the press!

For those of you who are regular Herescope readers, this is good news indeed. Pastor Bosch's book couldn't come at a more timely moment. The book stands as a sharp contrast to the modern church growth movement's heresies about the church and its structure, especially the New Apostolic Reformation/2nd Reformation.

It is a must-read book for those who have been disenfranchised from their local churches and have nowhere to go.
This book teaches that God has equipped local believers through His WORD and by the power of the Holy Spirit to have a church. It is manual for how to set up a local church from scratch for those who never thought they could do it. Very encouraging! Very timely!

Below is a refreshingly biblical excerpt from a passage in the book that talks about the true nature of servant-leaders.

An excerpt from Building Blocks of the Church by Anton Bosch

Peter deals with the position of leaders in detail in 1Pet 5:1-3:

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

A few important details must be stressed about this passage. It is imperative to note that Peter does not refer to elders being over the flock, but twice uses the word among. Notice that he does not position himself as an Apostle or superior, but simply as a “fellow elder,” reminding them – not of the fact that he had witnessed the resurrected Lord (which he had) – but that he was a witness to His sufferings. He does not speak of their authority as elders. Even when acting as overseers they are to do so from the platform of service, and were to lead by example.

Not only does Peter express the position of leaders as being servants, but also warns that they are not to be lords or masters. This word lords is used four times in the New Testament. Jesus used it in Matthew 20:25 and Mark 10:42 in describing the manner in which the Gentiles dominate those who are under them. In Acts 19:16 it is used in connection with the sons of Sceva who attempted to exorcise a demon. The demon then “overcame” or “overpowered” them. Leaders must not overpower people and control them by force, manipulation, fear, or any of the many ways in which leaders dominate people. Leaders are not to dominate but are to serve. One of the most damaging “waves” to hit the church in the last fifty years is the abuse of power by church leaders. These range from the “heavy shepherding” practiced in many groups to the extreme control of Jim Jones and David Koresh. Even a mild form of heavy shepherding is toxic to the faith of the believer and is, in fact, a usurping of the role and authority of Jesus Christ in the life of that believer.

As long as leaders stand above believers, they ipso facto stand between the Christian and the Lord Jesus Christ. From this mediatorial position they are expected to dispense God’s wisdom, direction, Word and care to the flock. In some denominations they are even expected to intercede for the people with God. Such leaders are dependent on the flock and the flock is dependent on the leaders.

Leaders who dominate need the flock to provide for them financially, stroke their egos, and be willing supporters as the leaders work toward their personal goals – often sold to the believers as “the vision.” In many other ways the minister needs the congregation and needs its submission to him. In order for the leader to sustain his position, he ensures that the members remain dependent on him and that they never rise to a spiritual place where his role could become superfluous. Thus it is in the authoritarian leader’s best interest that a believer never grow to a position where his relationship with Jesus Christ is so strong that the leader becomes redundant. Doubtless, no one does this consciously, and yet the reality in many churches proves that this co-dependency is very real.

On the other hand, it is a lot easier for the congregation to hire their own personal chaplain – to inquire of the Lord, preach a nice sermon once a week, visit them when they are sick, marry their children, and bury their dead – than for each believer to walk in humble dependence upon his Lord and Master. This is what went wrong at Sinai when the people delegated Moses to hear from God. They got on with their mundane lives instead of walking in a dynamic relationship with Him. By this we do not mean that ministers (servants) should not serve the congregation in these ways, but rather that this is no reason for the individual believer to abdicate his own responsibility to maintain that relationship.

If, however, the leaders take their position as servants to the church then the whole picture is reversed. The position of a servant is under, not over, the one being served. From this stance the leader cannot interfere or get in the way of the believer’s relationship with Christ. Instead of fighting to maintain his position between Jesus and the church, he should be pushing believers closer to the Lord until each of those believers is able to also take the position of a servant to the church. Instead of working at keeping his job he should be working himself out of a job. This is the principle behind Paul’s journeys. He never remained in one position for so long that believers could become dependent upon him. Look at the Ephesians, where he had spent more time than anywhere else (Acts 19:8-10) except his “home” assembly. The Ephesians were the most likely church to become dependent on Paul because of the time he had spent in their city. However, when the time came for him to be taken to Rome he was fully confident of their ability to continue without him, and he placed the responsibility of the fellowship’s protection and care with the local elders. (Acts 20:25-28)

Ephesians 4, which majors on the church and not, as some suppose, on the ministries, defines the duty of the gift-ministries, “…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry….” (Ephesians 4:12) The NIV translates this verse: “… to prepare God’s people for works of service….” For too long the clergy and commentators have defined the duty of ministries in terms of the misplaced comma in the KJV which says: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” creating the impression that the ministries have three functions of which the second is to do the work of the ministry. Yet verses 7 and 16 in particular, and the whole chapter in general, emphasize the role of each member and not just that of the ministries listed in verse 11. MacArthur supports this view:

Paul’s language indicates that it is not the gifted men who have the most direct responsibility to do the work of service…. The leader’s purpose in God’s plan is not to try to meet all those needs himself but to equip the people given into his care to meet those needs (cf. v. 16, where this idea is emphasized)…. Spiritual service is the work of every Christian, every saint of God. Attendance is a poor substitute for participation in ministry. (MacArthur, John F. New Testament Commentary – Ephesians. Moody Bible Institute. Chicago. 1986. p155)

(To be continued)

This article is taken from Anton’s book Building Blocks of the Church. P83ff The price is $13.95 and 10 or more copies is $8.50 (approx 40% down) plus S&H.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Apostolic Spheres of Authority

Networking the Church: Part 6

"Recently I was in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. I was told there are four hundred churches in that city. That is not true. There is one church broken into four hundred pieces. So we should find out how to put the pieces together, because there cannot be more than one church in each locality. . . .
"To begin with, there are no pastors of the churches of Charlotte, rather there are pastors of the church of Charlotte . . . .
"So in the plural ministry each pastor is an elder of the church of his city. Together they form the presbytery, the assembly elders of the city. We are wrong when we appoint elders within our separate congregations. We cannot have elders within each congregation."
--Juan Carlos Ortiz, Call to Discipleship (Logos International, 1975), pp. 96-97.

There is a myth of "local control" in the house/cell church movement. The return to the original New Testament "wineskin" of house churches has widespread appeal among those who are zealous about abandoning the bureaucratic ecclesiastical models that have increasingly characterized denominations for the past 150 years.

But there is often a "bait and switch" going on. The house church model, which is indeed rooted in the New Testament, is subtly replaced by the cell networking model. The cellular model LINKS the house churches together into a NETWORK. The house churches then become part of the "downline" -- as in multi-level marketing structures. Church planting is redefined, too. Rather than planting small churches with the goal of turning them loose when they can stand on their own in a few years, the cellular structure keeps the small churches tied to the mother church. This pyramid network structure creates a source of ready cash for the mother churches, as these baby churches are required to tithe upwards. And it becomes a mechanism for control -- particularly when it is dominated by the apostolic structure.

A key doctrine of the cellular/apostolic church movement is the concept of city-wide churches. This was first openly articulated by Juan Carlos Ortiz. His book Call to Discipleship is credited with popularizing the shepherding movement in the 1970s. This movement has been described by Al Dager in his book Vengeance Is Ours (Sword, 1990) as a "broad-based ecumenical outreach designed to conform the entire Church to an authoritarian structure with the purpose of achieving dominion over the temporal world system." (p. 80)

This early cellular experimentation model was characterized by "heavy-shepherding" -- abusing the flock by crushing dictates, using mind control, subordinating the sheep to the will of a master-controller shepherd (apostle or prophet). The New Apostolic Reformation has rushed to distance itself from the brutal excesses of this movement. C. Peter Wagner devotes a chapter to this topic in Torres' book The Restoration of the Apostles and Prophets that we have been citing in this series. But the fact remains that there are few safeguards to protect sheep from the type of apostle and prophet described in the previous two Herescope posts.

Below are some striking examples of the goal of networking cellular churches (small groups, house churches, cells, etc.) into city-wide churches. The structure can be best explained by this model:

Apostle Prophet
l l
City-Wide Elders/Pastors
l l l l l
Cells SmallGroup Cells HouseChurch Cells CityChurches Cells

Ralph Neighbour wrote an early "Guidebook for Cell Group Churches" entitled Where Do We Go From Here? (Touch Publications). He explained the city-wide structure:

"The house groups were not independent from one another. They networked together from the first hour of their existence. This city-wide federation shows that the 'house churches' combined to form a 'local church.' (1977, p. 44)

"Each cell has a servant-leader. For every five cells, there is a pastoral figure (often called a 'Zone Servant') to counsel and guide the ministries. For every 25 cells and five Zone Servants, there must be a person to shepherd this flock of two to three hundred (often called a 'Zone pastor'). Working with the entire city-wide local church, men who are recognized as equippers provide guidance, teaching, and equipping to all of the cells, called the 'Ministry Team.'" (1977, p. 45-46) [emphases added]

Another early model was that of the Kansas City Fellowship. This group went on to become influential in the launching of the New Apostolic Reformation. (See Joel's Army.)

"Grace Ministries represents a ministry team of men committed to seeing the church fully restored to the glory described in God's word. . . . We believe many leaders will establish teams in their own cities that will be used of God to further the Lord's hidden but unfolding agenda to establish 'unified city churches.' GM desires to be found laboring humbly and lovingly to provide a portion of ministry and encouragement to serve under other ministry teams as they establish God's purpose in their cities."

"Kansas City Fellowship is merely one small part of the church of the Lord Jesus of Kansas City comprised of approximately 3,000 believers. We have a vision for being with one fellowship with one eldership, one financial structure, one vision and one strategy
--however this one fellowship may be comprised of as many as 50-100 congregations. This seems like a lot of congregations to function as one fellowship, but when we recognize that there are over 1000 congregations in the Kansas City area then we begin to have a different perspective."

"Single presbyteries will form over cities and localities. These will be made up of pastors and leaders from all backgrounds. Their unity and harmony in purpose, as well as that of the various congregations, will become a marvel to the world." [Rick Joyner prophecy]
(Above quotes excerpted from Michael Sullivant, "What Is Grace Ministries?" and "A Commitment to the City Church," Grace Ministries Report, Fall 1989.) [All emphases added]

Apostolic SPHERES for Dominion

In order to justify this networking cell model, new doctrines were created. One such doctrine assigns territories of the world or "spheres" to apostles and prophets where they can exercise dominion. Below are some key examples of this heresy found in David Cannistraci's 1996 book The Gift of Apostle (Regal):

"To separate in this case [referring to Paul and Barnabas, Acts 13:2, ed.] means to set off by a boundary. The idea is to draw clear boundary lines to establish a definite territory within which the apostle is meant to operate with full authority. The apostle has a spiritual dominion and territory delineated by God. We are reminded that we should not cross the boundary lines that surround apostleship, or go too far with ambitious intrusion into any ministry to which we are not called. It also means to appoint to an office or position of authority, just as an ambassador is appointed by a head of state." (p. 69-70)

"The sphere of authority in combination with relational authority may lead us to another aspect of the apostle's authority ­ that of regional or territorial apostleship. Roland Allen suggests that the apostles targeted entire regions… We believe that the Holy Spirit works among apostles to divide regions among them so that geographical areas (such as continents) can be uniformly penetrated…." (pp. 153-4)

This territorial apostolic/cell heresy is connected to the new spiritual warfare doctrines, popularizied by George Otis and C. Peter Wagner, and practices that attempt to rid regions or territories of demonic strongholds. It can also be connected to the spiritual and data-collecting activities of "global mapping":

"If Satan has established territorial spirits to run the global battle against the Church, as many today believe, is it not possible that God also has established territorial apostles to help counteract their destructive activity? (Cannistraci, p. 154)

This regional apostolic authority isn't just geographical, however. C. Peter Wagner and others have been working on assigning apostles to "spheres" of authority and dominion outside of the church as part of a mandate to build the Kingdom in secular society. The concept of "spheres" was articulated by John Rowell in a description of the "New Apostolic Reformation and the Faith and Work Movement":

" . . . I Cor. 9:1 and II Cor. 10:8-16 make it clear that those who minister with apostolic authority do so only within a God-given sphere of influence. In I Cor. 9:1-2, Paul’s authority is questioned by opposing 'false apostles' and he appeals to the undeniable fruit of his work in Corinth to defend his anointing and authority. In I Cor. 9:2 Paul plainly states, 'If to others I am not an apostle (and doubtless to many he was not), at least I am to you (and you can’t deny it!), for you are the seal of my apostleship'. In Corinth, Paul is clearly within his 'sphere of influence.' In fact he was recognized as having broad authority to take the gospel to the known Gentile world (Gal. 2:7-9). In II Cor. 10:8-16 Paul is careful to guard against 'overextending' his influence (see v. 14) by boasting beyond the measure of his anointing (v. 13). Again, proof of his being within his proper limits is the incontrovertible evidence that he planted the church in Corinth – his authority certainly reached to that local assembly! In these nine verses, the word 'sphere' (province or rule from the Greek 'kanon') is used three times; the word 'measure' is used five times. . . ." [emphasis added]

This is particularly interesting because the use of the term "sphere" is inextricably connected to the idea of a dominionist mandate. In the 1980s the Coalition on Revival (COR), described by Al Dager as a "melting pot for Charismatic Dominionists and Reconstructionists" (p. 235) published "Sphere Documents" placing a "dominionist interpretation of the Great Commission" (p. 236). Secular society was divided by COR into "spheres" in which Christians were to engage in political activity, take "domionion" and "advance the Kingdom." These COR and NAR leaders remain networked to this day. In the Reformed/Reconstructionist camp the "spheres" agenda is cloaked by the rhetoric of re-establishing America as a "Christian nation," or networking for a Christian "worldview." In the New Apostolic Reformation, however, the agenda is much more open.

Here is a recent (3/7/07) "prophecy" posted on the Elijah List, the main organ for apostolic/prophetic generals to communicate to their troops. The agenda for establishing regional governance is connected to the heresy of building the Kingdom of God on Earth, i.e., restoring Earth to a pre-Fall paradise type state. From Ryan Wyatt of Abiding Glory Ministries:


"'God is raising up bases to steward a sustained atmosphere of the Glory of God.'

"I believe that one of the major focuses and strategies of God in this season is to establish strong apostolic regional bases in every region of the world. In fact, I believe that the only way we are going to establish and advance the Kingdom of God is by seeing the prophetic 'earthed' out in regional bases where the saints are not just "trained" to do the stuff, but are actually 'doing' the stuff.

"When I say apostolic regional bases, I am not talking about conference centers. I have news for you, conferences alone will 'never' build the Kingdom of God. Conferences are good tools to gather a region, but they will never go deep enough to raise up and train an army.

"I believe that God is blurring the lines between para-church and local church. The Greek word for Church simply means the 'called-out ones.' I love the 'local church' and believe that the Church is God's Body on this earth and God's agent to expand the Kingdom of God. However, I believe that the local church needs to recover the Ephesians 4:11 mandate to equip the saints for the work of ministry. In functionality, these bases will serve as a home church for many, but they will be built on the foundation of being an Ephesians 4:11 equipping base.

"God is raising up these bases to steward a sustained atmosphere of the Glory of God. These bases will serve as a place where the prophetic can be 'earthed.' In John 1:14, the 'Word,' or the prophetic, became flesh, or became earthed, and dwelt among us and we beheld His Glory. Jesus was a living, breathing, habitation of God. Everywhere He went, the Kingdom of Heaven came with Him. These bases will serve as 'little Romes' or little 'Garden of Edens' where the prophetic is earthed and digested by the saints of God and then manifested through their everyday lives with grace and power!

"It is truly time for the saints of God to rise up, grow into maturity, and take whole regions for the Glory of God!" [emphasis in original]

The Truth:

"The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood they hunt every man his brother with a net." (Micah 7:2)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Militant Apostles

Networking the Church: Part 5

"The emerging apostolic movement will be built on a sharp increase of the apostolic call to serve in the Kingdom. Like an army, this new apostolic company will throw down their nets and rise at the command of the Lord of Hosts. Hearing the call, they will aggressively engage the enemy, taking his territory in the greatest campaign in history: the evangelization of planet Earth before the second coming of the Lord Jesus." (p. 46)

"Network organizations are replacing organizations built around traditional hierarchies. The growing trend of network marketing makes products available through relationships between families, friends and business associates instead of depending on high-overhead practices such as advertising or displays. . . .
Networking is a reflection of the divine pattern of interdependence and unity God has ordained for the Church . . . .
We need to view the kingdom of God as a giant net.
How is the Kingdom of heaven like a net? The net illustrates how increase becomes possible when God's people are joined together like the interconnecting cords of a net. . . .
Church-growth analysts are beginning to identify apostolic networks as a modern movement. World-changing leaders and movements are arising to establish progressive structures for families of churches and ministries. . . . denominationalism is slowly dying. (p. 186-189)
--David Cannistraci, The Gift of Apostle (Regal Books, 1996) [bold added].

For well over a decade the charismatic wing of the evangelical church has been organizing apostolic networks worldwide. The formation of these apostolic networks is, like that of the prophet, said to be "foundational" to the church, a new "wineskin," and a return to a more biblical form of governance that promises unity and restoration, and even a New (or 2nd) Reformation. (See previous posts.) David Cannistraci, a leader in this movement (cited above) explained the doctrine in a nutshell:

"As a foundational ministry, the apostle serves together with the prophet to lay the foundation for the entire temple of God, while receiving alignment and positioning from the cornerstone, Jesus Christ. Without the apostle as a member of the ongoing foundation of the Church, we cannot fully become the temple of the living God. The apostle cannot be omitted as a primary member of the Body of Christ, or as a foundational structure of the temple of God." (p. 82-83)

Much has been written about this apostolic paradigm shift, now called the New Apostolic Reformation. But the full impact of this structural revolution has hit the average person in the pews -- not yet. This isn't just some fanciful new doctrine. It is all about changing the actual governance structure of the global church. And that structure is based not on the Scriptures, but rather General Systems Theory, an evolutionary systems networking theory with roots in the occult (as discussed in previous posts).

C. Peter Wagner has served as a one-man public relations firm for the widespread propagation of the new doctrines associated with the apostolic networks. In the latter half of the 1990s, key conferences were held in which he laid the groundwork for the creation of these apostolic networks. He constantly refined and re-defined the doctrines as he went along (sometimes very publicly); and has written numerous books on the topic, and introductions for books by other authors. Some of Wagner's activities and ideas are chronicled at A broad overview by a supporter is archived at A good collection of criticisms of his teachings on apostles can be found at, and a good synopsis can be found HERE.

Hector Torres wrote about the coming role of apostles in his book The Restoration of the Apostles and Prophets (Thomas Nelson, 2001). His book, which we have been excerpting, has an Introduction and chapter by C. Peter Wagner. To introduce the concept of apostle, Torres quotes from a 1980 book authored by C. Peter Wagner entitled Sus Dones Espiratuales Pueden Ayudar a Crecer su Iglesia (Libros Clie), p. 206:

"The gift of the apostle is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the body of Christ that allows them to assume and exercise leadership over a number of churches with the extraordinary authority in spiritual matters that is spontaneously recognized and appreciated by those churches.

"The apostle is the person whom God has given to the pastors and leaders of the Church. He is the person to whom these all go to seek counsel and help. He is able to smooth out animosities and bring peace, to find the cause of what has gone wrong, to resolve problems. He can make demands that seem autocratic, but that are accepted willingly by the Christians, as they recognize his gift and the authority that goes with him. His vision is well focused, and he is not restricted by the problems of a local church." [emphasis added]

Torres devotes several chapters to a description of the role and responsibilities of these new apostles:

"The apostolic ministry is raised by God to bring reforms. . . . The apostles are pioneers; they open that gap so that the truths of God can flow through freely. . . . The apostles of the New Testament are the judges of the Old Testament." (p. 115)

"Apostles are the spiritual architects as they establish the foundations upon which God can build His Church. (p. 117)

"One of the characteristics of apostles is that they are spiritual pioneers. . . the first to go into a new territory and frequently usher in a new truth." (p. 123) [emphasis added]

In a chapter by John Eckhardt entitled "Spiritual Pioneers," he refers to apostles as "Master Builders--Spiritual Architects." He writes about how apostles will promulgate "new truths," not unlike the role of the prophet described in the previous post:

"Apostles are pathfinders. A pathfinder is one who discovers a way, . . . a new route. . . a new region, . . . or a new region of knowledge. . . . . Apostolic power has the ability to penetrate new areas and regions." (p. 124)

"The apostolic anointing will keep the Church on the cutting edge. . . spiritual frontiers. . . . They are sent to new regions geographically as well as spiritually. They expand our spiritual horizons and release us from spiritual boundaries and limitations of tradition and past experience." (p. 127)

"There are new places in the spirit that need to be opened and where many saints have never been. It takes the [apostolic] anointing to open those places for others to follow and enter in." (p. 128) [emphasis added]

One of the early writers on the cellular apostolic authority was Juan Carlos Ortiz in his 1975 book Call to Discipleship (Logos International). He wrote more explicitly about the role of the apostle as a purveyor of new doctrine:

"The apostles even defined the doctrine [in the early church, ed.]. As a matter of fact, the Acts report that the people followed the doctrine of the apostles ­ not the doctrine of Jesus, but the doctrine of the apostles. The things they wrote were infallible ­ a concept we still believe. They believed the apostles were led by the Holy Spirit in founding the church. 
. . . When the pope says that he is infallible, he is not too far from the truth." (p. 92) [emphasis added]


A major theme of the role of the apostles, like that of their pals the prophets, is that of warfare. Torres again gives John Eckhardt a platform in his book, an entire chapter on the topic entitled simply "Warfare." Eckhardt says that the church must "invade new territories--hostile territories" that "will not give up without a fight. They must be confronted, subdued, and driven out. This requires warfare." (p. 134)

"Apostles and apostolic people will be a people of warfare. . . ." (p. 135)

It is important to understand who the enemy is. One might think it is simply Satan, given the spiritual warfare teachings promulgated by C. Peter Wagner and his cohorts like George Otis. But this chapter's focus is on those who oppose the new apostles and prophets -- "Those who insist on denying the ministries of the apostle and prophet . . ." (p. 121) These folks are called the false apostles and prophets.

These demonic strongholds have "fortified themselves in every region of the world to resist the advancement of the Kingdom. These strongholds must be dealt with if we are to see the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Apostles have the ability to confront and pull down these strongholds." (pp. 135-6) What are these "strongholds"?

"Strongholds are the mid-sets of people in a particular territory. These mind-sets are fortified places that keep out truth and hold in lies. . . . Spiritual warfare involves demolishing these mind-sets. . . . "

The question then arises, what are these "mind-sets"? Those people whose "mind is already settled on a set of beliefs, and therefore [resist] change" and those minds are "fixed and rigid" and "closed and hardened to truth and revelation" (p. 137) Presumably this means anyone who opposes the new "truths" and "revelations" of the super-apostles. Scripture is easily twisted at this point to mean anyone who resists these new heresies.

"Strongholds are major hindrances to the advancing of the Church and must be dealt with apostolically. The preaching, teaching, and overall ministry of the apostolic people are weapons that are mighty through God for the pulling down of these strongholds." (p. 138) [emphasis added]

Apostles are said to "walk and minister in the highest rank" as the "spiritual commanders of the Church" on earth.

"The Church needs apostles to help set it in order. They help organize and mobilize the believers into an army. . . . Apostles have the ability as generals and commanders to mobilize the saints for war. . . . Apostles are given the rank and authority to do this." (p. 143) [emphasis added]

Quoting Isaiah 46:10,11 way out of context, the apostle is described as a "ravenous bird of prey to execute His purposes. . . . a symbol of war," a "hawk" with "an actively aggressive or combative attitude. It is a person who favors military force or action in order to carry out a foreign policy. What a symbol for the apostolic!"

"The hawk symbolizes sharpness, keen vision, and quickness. It represents discernment and insight into the plans and purposes of God. The hawk is a swift bird that suddenly seizes its prey. It is a ravenous bird. Ravenous means extremely hungry, voracious, or greedy for gratification. This bird symbolizes the militant, aggressive, and warlike aspect of the apostolic ministry. . . .

"As an officer in the Church, the apostle is also an executive. He is a person who executes power in the Church. In other words, he has the power and authority to execute the plans and purposes of God. To execute means to put into effect, to carry out, to perform, to fulfill, to finish. The purposes of God will not be fulfilled or carried out without the apostolic ministry being restored to the Church." (pp. 145-6) [emphasis added]

The Truth:

These teachings are heretical and alarming. The humble biblical concept of apostolos -- "missionary" -- has been transformed into egotistical army of elite generals commanding networks of lower-order congregant troops in a global expedition of massive proportion. Is all of this warfare rhetoric simply spiritual? Or will it, like so many historical examples of dominionism gone awry in the church, transform itself into real warfare that is ugly, barbaric and violent against all those who oppose it?

The New Testament sword is the Word of God.

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." (James 3:17-18)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Return of the Warrior-Prophets

Networking the Church: Part 4

“Prophets are agents of transformation."
”The prophetic ministry summons us to battle. . . ."
-- Hector Torres, The Restoration of the Apostles and Prophets (Thomas Nelson, 2001), p. 46, 43

When the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) talks about re-aligning the Church to the supposed 5-fold ministry structure of Ephesians 4:11, the new doctrinal emphasis is placed on laying a “foundation” of prophets and apostles. These “offices” are looked upon as key for future church governance. These new prophets are claimed to possess authority to bring unity, knowledge, maturity, collaboration and growth.

Prophet no longer means a spiritual gifting that presents the Truth of God’s Word (Scripture). It now means an “office.” And these new super warrior-prophets claim to possess supernatural powers and authority. This whole matter is more than a simple rebuttal of cessationist doctrine. And it isn’t merely a return to Old Testament style prophets. Rather, these new prophets claim to possess the “authority of God to uproot, to tear down, to destroy, to turn upside-down, to build, and to plant” (Torres, p. 58).

These new prophets are said to possess the ability to speak with “greater authority” than other believers (p. 50). Torres, in his book The Restoration of the Apostles and Prophets (Thomas Nelson, 2001), lists their duties as uprooting those who are evil and destroying those who are the enemy. He says, “Prophetic anointing confronts and makes war” (p. 55) and tears down strongholds to “build up the kingdom of God” (p. 56).

These new prophets have become militarily structured into a top-down networking system. Torres, who considers himself as one of these prophets because he received a prophetic "mantle" from NAR leader Bill Hamon, describes how a global prophetic NETWORK was launched nearly ten years ago. Notice that C. Peter Wagner, head of the NAR, instigated this:

“In September of 1998, during a conference in Saint Louis, Missouri, a small group of prophets met to discuss the possibility of establishing a network of responsibility and relationship between some of the most recognized prophetic ministries in the nation. Taking advantage of a meeting convened by Dr. C. Peter Wagner and called the National School of Prophets, it was agreed upon to invite prophets from all ‘flows’ of this move of God in different parts of the world to the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs.

“The meeting took place on January 27, 1999. The prophets invited to participate were a group of eighteen people, among whom were Mike Bickle and Paul Cain from Kansas City, Jim Goll from Nashville, Bill Hamon from Florida, Rick Joyner and Kingsley Fletcher from North Carolina, John and Paula Sandford from Idaho, Tommy Tenney from Baltimore, Barbara Wentroble from Texas, and Cindy Jacobs, Chuck Pierce, Dutch Sheets, Mike Jacobs, Peter Wagner and myself from Colorado Springs. . .

“On the occasion of this meeting the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders (ACPE) was made official under the apostolic cover of Dr. C. Peter Wagner.” (pp. 76-77)


It is crucially important to understand that these new prophets believe that they have a new WORD from God. Bill Hamon, in a chapter in Torres’ book about prophecy, states:

“The same biblical principles about the attitude that we are to have toward the written word, the logos, should be applied to the rhema that is declared prophetically.” (p. 82)

Believers are exhorted to act in obedience to this RHEMA word! Hamon says:

“If we obey and do exactly what the prophetic word says, we will not be deceived and our spirit and mind will be ready to know the will of God.” (p. 84)

The Word of God (Scripture) is not the absolute standard for ascertaining whether this prophetic “word” is “genuine.” Nor should believers test it by going to their spiritual leaders. Nor should it be evaluated in light of traditional theology. Rather, Hamon asserts that the believer is to follow their spirit rather than their thoughts or mind, and subjectively determine the truth of the matter. They should look to feel a "deep peace, an unexplainable joy, and a sensation of love and rejoicing. . . . This sensation is the confirmation that the Holy Spirit is bearing witness to our spirit that all is in order. . . . " (p. 94)

Hamon boldly declares that these prophets can issue new truth: “God can declare something new to a person through a prophet . . . . God uses the prophets to express new truths.” (p. 95) And Hamon states that the purpose of these prophecies is “to use them for war” (p. 96)

The Coming War

Torres elaborates on the general mechanics of this prophetic warfare:

“The prophetic ministry and the role of the prophet are part of the necessary foundation to awaken the Church to her calling of spiritual warfare and intercession. This is the way of putting the enemy under our feet. . ., destroying the works of evil, and establishing the lordship of Christ on the earth. Once this is accomplished Christ will come to reign over all the earth and thus will remain forever and ever!” (p. 106) [emphases added]

A core heresy of the New Apostolic Reformation is that the Church must “incarnate” Christ; i.e., become deified through this restructuring process. A corollary to this doctrine creates the dominionism mandate whereby the church is empowered to act as agents of Christ on earth, crushing His enemies and building His Kingdom. This doctrine is articulated by Torres:

“We have to realign our lives and our ministries to the flow of the river of God. The order of God for His Church is to enter into battle with a promise of victory and not of defeat. Now is not the time for negotiation for a peace agreement. The God of peace has already won the war on the cross and promises to crush His enemies.” (p. 110) [emphasis added]

Note in the heresy above that even though Christ is acknowledged to have done something on the Cross, the Church is responsible to "crush His enemies." This horrible teaching brings in a whole new eschatology of warfare dominionism.

Below are some very recent “prophetic” words delivered by leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation, which underscore the aggressive warfare aspect of this new prophetic “office.” The extended quotes are provided for the purpose of context (Eph. 4:11 apostolic church restructuring), as well as providing evidence of the dominionist doctrine that underlies this movement:

"Prophetic promises have been released for hundreds of years about a generation of overcomers...who would stand up as spiritual warriors to advance the Kingdom of God around the world, and reap a mass end-time harvest of souls.

"I believe we stand right now on the brink of the greatest Kingdom Era that the Church has ever seen. . . . I'm interested in a sustained habitation of the Glory of God on the earth and it's called, 'The Kingdom!'

"Jesus came to give us Heaven on earth . . . . God has been restoring Truth to the Church in order to get us back to the place of fullness where we can actually rule and reign in the world rather than be dominated by the very things we are to have victory over.

"We have had whole decades in the 1900's that were devoted to the restoration of the Ephesians 4:11, five-fold ministry gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. All of this has been so that the saints can be equipped and reconnected with the Head in Heaven. When the Church reconnects with the Head in Heaven (Jesus Christ), then there will be an unhindered release of Heaven on earth. . . .

"The spirit of the warrior is coming...we are the generation that will become bold as lions and take this world for God!" . . .

"I believe that the numerous wineskins of ministry models and structures are already starting to clash like never before. The truth is that if the Church continues on the way it has, then the Church will 'never' fulfill her destiny in God. I love pastors and I respect them in their gift, but they cannot be expected to wear the hat of the entire five-fold ministry. I'm going to make a very bold statement, but I think many of you will agree: 'Churches run by pastors will never fulfill the high and lofty mandate of the Church.'

"You see, the five-fold ministry are gifts given directly from Jesus Christ to the Church. When Jesus walked the earth, He was all of them in one. He was the Apostle, the Prophet, the Evangelist, the Pastor, and Teacher. After raising from the dead, Jesus basically took the mantle upon His life and divided it in five pieces and gave it to certain people within the Body of Christ. No one person can fulfill all of these ministry gifts. The five-fold ministry, according to Ephesians 4:11, are called to equip the saints for the work of ministry. The five-fold ministry is called to under-gird, raise up, and release the saints to do the work of establishing and expanding the Kingdom of God on this earth as the Body of Jesus.

"One ministry gift can never be expected to do all of this. The Church has become accustomed to churches run by pastors, and the clash of the wineskins comes when God releases all of the five-fold to function as a team in raising up an army of warriors to advance the Kingdom. Expect this truth and transition to cause much chaos and division in the Church, but remember that God always establishes His government in order to bring order in the midst of chaos."
[Excerpted from Ryan Wyatt: “A NOW WORD--IT'S TIME FOR THE PROPHETIC TO BE EARTHED AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD ESTABLISHED,” Elijah List, 3/7/07, emphasis in original]

I Am Re-enlisting My Army
"’My Seed will prosper again! I AM RE-ENLISTING MY ARMY AGAIN. From your past faith demonstrations, you have gained the right to be in My army. . . .

A Day of Re-building
"’I AM repairing the foundation...I AM leveling out that which was crooked.’

"’I will build My House again. The old and the young will shout together. It will be a sound that has not been heard in this season. This is a day of re-building and completing what was begun in one generation. Though the foundation has been shaky and the people have been divided, and the world has drawn many away, now I will build My house again! For I AM repairing the foundation, and I AM lifting up that which has sagged. I AM leveling out that which was crooked and today I start the process.’"
[Excerpted from Chuck Pierce, “GOD IS RE-ENLISTING HIS ARMY AGAIN—DO NOT FEAR WHEN HE SHAKES THE FOUNDATION!” Elijah List, 2/21/07, emphasis in original]

The Truth:

"Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him." (Micah 3:5)