Monday, July 30, 2007

"Radical Contextualization"

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 6

"Apparently our real challenge is no longer to extend the boundaries of Christianity but to acknowledge that Biblical, Christian faith has already extensively flowed beyond Christianity as a cultural movement just as it has historically flowed beyond Judaism and Roman Catholicism. Our task may well be to allow and encourage Muslims and Hindus and Chinese to follow Christ without identifying themselves with a foreign religion. The Third Reformation is here.
--Ralph Winter, "Twelve Frontiers of Perspective."

The doctrine of "contextualization" is one of the most fundamental theological paradigm shifts of the past several decades. Most evangelicals haven't even heard of this term. On its surface, "contextualization" is supposed to mean that missionaries are being sensitive to the needs of varying cultural groups so that they can present the Gospel within the unique cultural context of those groups. It carries the aura of cultural sensitivity. In reality it is much more.

Contextualization has its roots in anthropology, probably connecting back to the Rockefeller dynasty's funding of "applied anthropology" and social sciences departments at premier universities earlier last century. Their purpose was to catalog indigenous Indian populations in potential oil fields. Wyckliffe Bible Translator's SIL program (Summer Institute of Linguistics) served an intelligence-gathering function for the Rockefellers, according to 960-page book Thy Will Be Done (HarperCollins, 1995) by Colby and Dennett. The authors wrote:

"SIL had helped gather anthropological information on the Tarascan Indians that ended up in Nelson Rockefeller's intelligence files. The files contained cross-references to reveal behavioral patterns among Indian peoples in everything from socialization (including aggressive tendencies) and personality traits, drives, emotions, and language structure, to political intrigue, kinship ties, traditional authority, mineral resources, exploitation, and labor relations. Rockefeller called these data the Strategic Index of Latin America." (p. 118)

Data-gathering, in the name of helping missionaries present a more contextualized gospel, became an insidious method of Western supremacy, using state of the art psychological operation tools. Colby and Dennett described how this worked:

"Researchers had to study and master a people's beliefs systems, expressed most truly through their language, and their social organization, the most significant means by which people can mediate successfully with nature and adapt to changes in their environment. . . . Learning a culture's key components--its genetic structure and neurotransmitters, so to speak--could also give social engineers, whether armed or not, the tools to manipulate minds. In the quest for control, the CIA's counterinsurgency practitioners already had learned that there were weapons other than guns and gases, and that the path from the social sciences that engineered whole societies, to the physical sciences that engineered minds, was short indeed." (p. 477)

This data collection included

"everything from the language, social structure, and history of peoples to labor strikes, peasants' seizures of haciendas, and violence. Anthropologists, linguists, psychologists, sociologists, and economists would be joined by political scientists, mathematicians, and the military to produce a deliberate political objective of social control." (p. 479)

The intelligence-gathering objectives remained obscure, however, while the leading "think-tank" gurus at Fuller Theological Seminary concocted new doctrines to cloak the agenda with evangelistic mission fervor. Who could object to learning more about a culture so that one could better share the Gospel?

It was the Lausanne Committee which first mainstreamed the idea of the "contextual" approach to evangelism. The call for "contextualization" then became a crusade. Al Dager, describing this process, in his book The World Christian Movement (Sword (2001), explained:

"The greatest evil, as the new Evangelicals put it, is to take Western culture along with the Gospel. Ralph Winter tells us to listen to the cry of the lost. . . .

"Speaking at InterVarsity Fellowship's Urbana Missions Conference, in February, 1997, Winter stressed the need to 'de-westernize' the Gospel. According to Winter, the key task of the West should be to allow other cultures to develop their own distinct kind of Christianity." (pp. 58-59)

Updating his call for "contextualization," recently Ralph Winter listed several calls for "major shifts or changes of perspective" for the future "frontiers" of mission work on the planet in a key article, "Twelve Frontiers of Perspective," published in his Mission Frontiers, "the Bulletin of the U.S. Center for World Mission" (which he helped found). In this article Winter says "we're not contextualizing sufficiently" and calls for a "Radical Contextualization," in which Christianity utterly changes its "form."

Winter's "Third Reformation," which actually may have quite a lot to do with Rick Warren's "Second Reformation," calls for a substantial paradigm shift:

"Isn't it getting clearer that we're never ever going to persuade all the Muslims to call themselves Christians and this itself is a very peripheral issue? Can't we recognize that it's not important, nor helpful--not merely impossible--to make very many Muslims to identify with the cultural stream called 'Christianity.' If someone is a born-again believer, isn't that enough?"

But is what Winter is talking about actually the biblical meaning of "born again"? Probably not. For he continues by suggesting that Christianity must "decontextualize" itself, which he defines as "being willing to find major philosophic or Biblical or theological flaws in our own tradition." The correct word for this is deconstruction.

Not willing to let it drop, Winter then suggests, "We may need to go beyond mere radical contextualization." We need to go "beyond Christianity as we know it." He suggests a number of examples of "followers of Jesus" who "have not chosen to call themselves Christians nor to identify with the socio-ecclesiastical tradition of Christianity" but rather their pagan faith. In an attempt to argue this out, he asks: "Do we preach Christ or Christianity?"

This is, of course, a good question. And the answer should be the biblical Jesus Christ. But that is not what Winter is talking about. He is talking about pagan peoples who will be "followers of Jesus" but still live in their pagan religious system. He is talking about people who could very easily be manipulated or persuaded into following any "Jesus" that happens on the scene. A non-biblical "Jesus" could fit into any religious system in the world with ease. Which is probably what this is all about. Al Dager observes:

"Contextualization of the Gospel is what leads to a mishmash of religious confusion. People might 'accept Christ, but still go to their Buddhist temple or Shinto shrine. They might be Muslims and pray toward Mecca five times a day. . . ." (p. 61)

Winter's ideas of decontextualizing (deconstruction) to a "beyond Christianity" state indicates that this will be a de-Gospelized world in which there is no Context at all ("For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." [1 Corinthians 1:18])

Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer, in their recently released book Idolatry in Their Hearts, note the disastrous effects of this type of "radical contextualization" on biblical evangelism. They describe how cross-cultural evangelism has led to outright "cross-cultural syncretism with other gods" (p. 218) :

"Interfaith organizations have a main objective to promote syncretism. Interspiritualism, universalism, pluralism and other terms all describe the formation of this new world religious system. Religious syncretism is probably the most dangerous practice that can quickly leaven a church. Deceptive as it is, it has come through evangelism." (p. 221)

One of the mantras of the "contextualization" gurus is that Western culture is bad and has imposed itself on native peoples around the world in the name of evangelism. Dager observed that the "need for contextualization is a myth promoted by Western religious leaders. . . ." (p. 60) In excellent analysis of this construct, Simpson and Oppenheimer describe the reality on the mission field:

"This is how you confuse the issue. You turn the issue of syncretism around and blame it on the missionaries. It is true that some misguided missionaries, though clearly not the majority, tried to change indigenous cultural values to Western ones. But [this] ignores the many missionaries who, in presenting the Gospel and sound doctrine, necessarily preached things that were in opposition to demonic cultures and practices like those of the Indians. The missionaries were faced with heathen cultures, not unlike their own in the past, and attempted to apply Biblical principles, in cooperation with those in First Nations, to come up with a way of living in accordance to the Word of God (which is what all Christians must abide by!).

Mistakes were made, but if you talked to the first generation of converts (like I had the privilege of doing long ago in Micronesia) you would understand fully what First Nation's cultures were like at the time. Sexual perversion, women and child abuse, murder, human sacrifice, ruling elite who lorded it over everyone else, worship of demons, and other atrocities were commonplace. Those who heard the Gospel preached to them and recognized the freedom in Christ offered were saved and delivered from the evil in their cultures. They immediately wanted to make a statement about the difference God had made in their lives. Can we then blame them, in retrospect, for putting on clothes, stopping cultural activities that were tied to the demonic? Can we fault them for no longer being involved in sexual immorality, abuse, perversion, murder and the occult?

The IPM [Indigenous People Movement] leadership are trying to rewrite history when they clearly have not done their research. They have little understanding of what their formerly (and in fact currently) pagan cultures were like before missionaries came and sacrificed their lives, in many cases, to bring the Good News. They were not sent to bring culture nor was that their purpose. They were primarily bringing God's values, the Bible, and applying its time-tested truths, together with First Nations people, so that they might be light and salt to the nations." (Idolatry in Their Hearts, pp. 75-76) [Formatted for blog use]

When Ralph Winter writes about the nasty effects of imposing our Western Christianity upon other cultures, it doesn't sound much like Dominionism. But "contextualization" is deceptive. Observe the following "indigenous process of change" based on the "systems management model" with "the deliberate political objective of social control" (Thy Will Be Done, p. 479):

"American pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren praised Rwanda’s Vision 2020 plan, which seeks to develop the country into a middle-income economy by the year 2020.

The popular preacher and social advocate visited Rwanda over the weekend to check up on the progress of his PEACE initiative-funded projects in the country.

“I have read about Rwanda’s Vision 2020. It is very good,” said Warren, in response to Rwanda’s plan, according to the Rwandan newspaper New Times. “The Bible says that without vision people perish.”

The main goals of Vision 2020 is to reconstruct the nation and its social capital; develop a credible and efficient state governed by the rule of law; develop human resources in line with the objective to turn Rwanda into a prosperous knowledge-based economy; develop basic infrastructure including urban planning; develop entrepreneurship and the private sector; and modernize agriculture and animal husbandry. (Jennifer Riley, "Rick Warren Gives Thumbs Up to Rwanda's Vision 2020 PEACE Plan," Christian Post, 7/17/07)

The Truth:

"Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad, and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life." (Ezekiel 13:22)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Killing the Messenger

Contentiously Contending – Part 8
By Anton Bosch

Today's post is the final installment in a provocative and convicting series by Pastor Anton Bosch. We have received much correspondence on this series and it has been a badly needed word for this time. In these last of the last days, it behooves us all to soberly approach our duty to warn others -- with patience, mercy and longsuffering -- even when people don't "get it" the first time; with meekness and humility when we realize how frail we are without the Lord's strength; and with a sober spirit and all due forbearance -- knowing that how we act and speak must be exemplary of the Gospel of salvation that we purport to represent. May God bless you as you seek to live out His Word in truth and love.

"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
(Jude 21-23)

In case you get the impression from the previous articles that I am against any form of apologetics or discernment ministries – I am not. The ministry of a watchman is vitally important to the church. But, unfortunately, many have brought discredit to a crucial ministry by their bad attitude.

Even sadder than the fact that those with bad attitudes have brought disgrace to all who stand for the Truth, is the fact that these same “watchmen” often cannot receive correction from others. It seems they often regard themselves as being above correction and the only custodians of Truth. When someone dares bring balance or correction they immediately turn their sword on the messenger and seek to discount the one whom the Lord has used to speak to them.

Some even feel that the admonition is proof of the fact that they are “suffering for the faith.” But the Scriptures are clear that it is only when our suffering is wholly for His sake that we can claim to be martyrs. When we suffer for our own bad attitude and misdeeds we only get what we deserve (1Peter 4:15, 3:16, 2:20). It seems to me that a lot of the attacks that come against “defenders of the faith” is deserved. And, sadly, nothing can repair the damage done by such loose cannons.

Those on both sides of the fence seem to find it hard to accept correction. Those who claim to be “defenders of the faith” should be more sensitive to correction than the heretics. Sadly, it seems that both sides resist the admonition of the Lord through His servants.

We would all find it very easy to receive the rebuke if the Lord Jesus Himself appeared to us and spoke the words. But, He mostly chooses to speak through the most unlikely representatives. And because the message does not come in the package we expect it to, we reject it with contempt and often kill the messenger. We may not kill them physically, but we kill their reputations and sometimes their entire ministries.

God spoke to Israel through the thunder and the lightning. He spoke to Balaam through the ass, to Israel through unpopular prophets, and to the Jews through the social misfit clothed in camel skins called John. They were all rejected. When Jesus came as a carpenter’s son, Nathaniel echoed the views of the nation when he said: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46, 7:41).

It seems that as humans we are very good at finding a reason to reject and even kill the messenger (Matthew 23:37-39). Rather, we should be listening to hear the voice of the Shepherd who speaks and seeks our attention in the most unexpected ways.

Balaam became the archetype of a prophet gone wrong. Three times the New Testament refers to him as an evil example of a prophet for hire. But it was not always so. There was a time when he had a relationship with the living God, and when the Lord spoke to and through him (Numbers 22:9-13). So how did he sink so low as to actually advise the Moabites to commit adultery with the Children of Israel and thus incur the wrath of God? By rejecting the message of the Lord. Numbers 22 records how it happened:

First the Lord spoke to him directly (v12) but the word did not suit Balaam. This is the first step towards apostasy – rejecting the word because it does not please us. This is why the seeker-friendly churches are packed and those who preach the Truth are empty – people simply do not want to hear a message that confronts them or their sin. Ahab had collected a retinue of prophets who all told him what he wanted to hear. But he despised the one man who told the Truth (1Kings 22). We all glibly accept that all our ways are pure (Proverbs 16:2) and cannot believe that anyone dare suggest otherwise. Apologist and heretic both claim immunity and infallibility under the banner of “the Lord’s anointed.”

As a result of Balaam’s disobedience, and in a very short time, the donkey saw what the prophet could not (Numbers 22:23). How sad when even animals and children can see what we cannot. The donkey then turned out of the way. This was out of character and we should take heed to every event that comes our way that is out of the routine. It may just be the Lord’s way of getting our attention. Instead we do just what Balaam did; we fix the problem with brute force. Rather, we should dismount and ask the Lord whether He is trying to get our attention.

Balaam beat the poor animal and got his own agenda back on track (v25). Soon after, the donkey crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. The pain should have gotten his attention. It is sad to watch people hurting because the Lord is trying to get their attention. But it is tragic to see them pull out the whip and beat the very thing that the Lord has used to speak to them. As a preacher I have tremendous sympathy for that poor donkey having been on the receiving end of the same treatment many times.

Next the donkey lay down under Balaam. If we were to translate this into modern English it would read: “then the wheels came off.” This time Balaam did not use the whip but took his staff to the poor animal in an attempt to kill it. (He wished the rod had been a sword.) How violent do we become towards those who are only trying to help us! When the wheels come off our health, finances, relationships, ministry, etc., we need to take heed – it is very likely the Lord trying to get through to us.

In the end, the donkey spoke to Balaam in an audible voice. Surely that should have grabbed his attention, but still he would not listen. Yes, the Lord speaks through the most unlikely mouthpieces but nothing gets the ear of those who do not want to hear. Balaam was angry with the very thing that the Lord had sent to save his life (v33). Whenever people react to the preaching or reading of the Word with anger, it is a sure sign that they heard, but refused to receive the message. How sad.

Finally the Angel of the Lord Himself appeared to him and spoke to him. Still he did not listen but continued on his merry way. Five times the Lord tried to get his attention but his continued disobedience, ambition and greed had made him deaf.

Do not despise the warnings because the instruments that bring them are not esteemed in your eyes. Listen, because the Lord speaks through the most unlikely people, events and things.

If this series has angered, confronted, convicted or been a reproach to you, please pray that the Lord may help you hear what it is He is trying to say. The fact that you have stayed with us through the entire series is a good sign; but now you may need to ask for forgiveness for pride and for those you have hurt, slandered or even turned away from the truth through an un-Christlike attitude. You need to seek the Lord’s forgiveness first, and then the forgiveness of those you have wronged.

The Truth:

“He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Redeeming Cultures

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 5

"God is calling his servants to be catalysts that enable personal, ecclesial, societal, and cultural transformation. Compelled by the love of Jesus, in obedience to his command to love our neighbor, the body of Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit can become his agent of transformation, to the glory of God the Father. . . .

"Scope of the Gospel: As Creator, God is Lord of all, and, therefore, his redemptive concern is comprehensive—seeking to heal and restore 'all things' by means of Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross (Gen. 1:31a; Rom. 8:18-23; Col. 1:19-20). The church’s calling is to witness to the kingdom of God in its fullness (Matt. 4:23; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:18-21). To be faithful to the gospel the ministry of the body of Christ must be holistic—encompassing the whole person—spiritual, physical, and social, and all human relationships—with God, with others, and with the environment (Gen. 1:26-28). Anything less than concern for all spheres of life is to misrepresent the all-encompassing Lordship of Jesus Christ over the world."
[Transform World, "Transformational Covenant" [emphasis added])

Transform World is the premier global mission entity forging ahead with the dominionist doctrines of the new age of global mission. The above quote, taken from their "Transformational Covenant" document, indicates the sweeping scope of the evangelical "social gospel" for this century. The full document is worth a read. Nothing less than the overhaul of governments, economies, and social and cultural systems is intended. Be aware that the language is couched in nebulous terminology which gives leeway to the alternative eschatologies of Dominion.

The term "cultural mandate," referenced in yesterday's post, is linked to the new meanings for the terms "transformation" and "reformation." Below is a pertinent summary from Al Dager's book The World Christian Movement (Sword, 2001) chapter 17, "Dominion: The Cultural Mandate":

In the
Reader for Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, C. Peter Wagner, mentored by the late John Wimber, and so-called "expert" on church growth, calls social and political action "the cultural mandate" of the Gospel:

The cultural mandate, which some refer to as Christian social responsibility goes as far back as the Garden of Eden. After God created Adam and Eve, He said to them: "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing....

Both the cultural mandate and the evangelistic mandate are essential parts of biblical mission, in my opinion. Neither is optional. There is a growing consensus on this point in Evangelical circles.

This was not true as early as twenty-two years ago when the Berlin World 'Congress on Evangelism was held in 1966.... One of the first Evangelicals to stress the cultural mandate in a public forum was Horace Fenton of the Latin America Mission at the Wheaton Congress on the Church's Worldwide Mission, also held in 1966. Following that, the social consciousness generated by the social upheavals of the 1960's brought the cultural mandate to prominence until it was given a relatively high profile on the platform of the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne in 1974.

is in dominion over the earth, always has been, and always will be. But Wagner makes the assumption that God's instruction to Adam and Eve has not been accomplished because Christians are not in dominion over the earth. This argument is presented by dominionists of every stripe, from Manifested Sons of God adherents to Christian Reconstructionists. (See my book, Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion, for an in-depth analysis of 'Kingdom Now" or "dominion theology.")

The "cultural mandate," then, is the need for Christians to take dominion over the earth by means of social and political action. And, according to Wagner, it was inspired by the "social upheavals of the 1960's."

Dager is correct when he notes that this teaching is embraced by Dominionists of all stripes. It is packaged for various groups of adherents to dominionist theology and marketed accordingly.

In an important article describing the full scope of this "cultural mandate," Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries, describes this as "The Global Transformation of Redeeming Cultures." First detailing Ed Silvoso's marketplace transformation agenda, Oppenheimer then describes similar dominionist beliefs of Chuck Colson:

Not everyone is involved in the Latter Rain belief of putting the culture under the authority of the church. Chuck Colson holds to a modified teaching of Reconstructionism and modern day Dominionism to reform the culture, by taking the culture back:

Redeeming the culture is the never ending mission of the church."
(Chuck Colson, Breakpoint, Jan.2, 05, KLHT).

"I was deepening my understanding of what we call the cultural commission, the command to the Church to take dominion and bring righteousness to our culture.
(Chuck Colson, God's Inseparable Commissions, Prison Fellowship, 01/05/2005)

"Today-some 30 years into my ministry--I have come to believe passionately that all Christians need to take their faith out of the pews and into the trenches. We've got to be faithful to the cultural commission to have dominion, to work for Christian values to arrest our worldview slide.”
(Chuck Colson, Prison Ministry and Worldview: A Match Made in Heaven, Prison Fellowship, 08/29/2004)

One of Colson’s ministries' objective is to institute Christian laws into our government to shape America into a godly nation. But you can’t find these ideas of culture, or society in the Bible. In fact, if one looks at how the early church handled their relationship with Rome it is nothing like what is being promoted today.

Mike Oppenheimer then describes the "Redeeming Cultures" movement in the missionary world:

One of the new strategies to evangelize the nations, and crush Satan under your feet (referring to Rom. 16:20), is called Redeeming Cultures. It goes by a number of different titles -- First Nations -- cultural evangelism -- cultural identification -- indigenous people movement -- cultural redemption, etc.

The belief is that in every culture God has left treasures and worthy traditions within the indigenous cultures to be used. We are told that redeeming the cultures reestablishes people’s identity of who they are as nations and who God created them to be.

Terry Leblanc, referring to David Garrett from Scripture and Songs, said it this way:

“God is now calling forth from among the indigenous communities of the world that good deposit which He has made in them of their cultures, their languages, their musical expressions and all that sort of thing ... as an expression of praise and worship unto Himself.” (Word to the World - host Danny Lehmann, KLHT, 2001)

To say God created these cultures, influenced them, or deposited anything in them is the same as saying that these other religions had truth from God and worshipped Him (or her, or it) correctly.

The cultural redemption movement began mainly through Don Richardson's books “The Peace Child” and “Eternity in Their Hearts,” who proposed using redemptive analogies that are already found in cultures. Some of the ideas he presented were valid, some were not. Certainly there is advantage to indigenous people carrying the Gospel to their own people, but there is a disadvantage when one tries to make a connection to them by their own religion that is clearly not there in the first place. And instead of giving them the straightforward Gospel it becomes a blend of their religion and the Bible to appease both parties. In the end, the Christian Gospel will be covered up with cultural traditions. The reason is because you cannot make a mixture like this have the Gospel uncorrupted.

Is it appropriate to bring to people Jesus Christ through their own culture, and then leave them to worship God in their own culture's way? Did the apostles do this? The answer is No, but that is what is taking place today. [emphasis added, edited for blog use]

A broad overview of this "Redeeming Cultures" concept, and the new teachings and activities inherent in its attempt to override the traditional Gospel, can be found in the new book written by Mike Oppenheimer and Sandy Simpson called Idolatry In Their Hearts. This book is a must read!

Make no mistake about it: the "cultural mandate" to "redeem cultures" (or whatever other terminology is used) is a re-work of the old "Social Gospel" movement of the 20th Century. The banner carriers back in that era were the liberal mainline churches. The banner carriers for our time are the leaders from all stripes and shades of Dominionism, waving various versions of "take back the culture" or "redeem the culture" causes. Learning from the past, today's neoevangelical leaders have maintained all the trappings of "evangelism" so that it appears (at least superficially) as if conversion from sin is the focus. All of this has collectively been lumped under the new term "evangelization," which according to Al Dager, in The World Christian Movement, means:

"In the churches today there are popular voices that are using Christian terms to mask an agenda of global, ecumenical dimensions. The goal is to enlist the support of the majority of those who call themselves Christians in order to advance that agenda under the name of "world evangelization" - a term originally coined by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization in 1974." [emphasis added]

Dr. Martin Erdmann, in his important book describing the 20th Century's early dominionist efforts, Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches' Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf & Stock, 2005), succinctly summed up the original "Social Gospel" movement with words that have eerie parallels to the "Redeeming Cultures" movement:

"The [Social Creed of 1932] closed with an appeal for a new social order in a new age of faith.

"[It] saw, in the union of Churches, the outward expressions of a collectivist Protestantism. Many followers in the social-gospel movement called fervently for the realisation of the kingdom of God. They were convinced that a unified front of Protestant Churches would be necessary, even essential, to build this kingdom, as defined by Walter Rauschenbusch and his successors. . . .

"Thus the new emphasis on propagating the principles of the Social Creed was again designed to attain the kingdom of God on earth rather than to reach lost souls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." (pp. 152-4) [emphases added]

The Truth:

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Revelation 22:19)

Monday, July 23, 2007

The "Cultural Mandate"

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 4

Jesus, the Second Adam

While Jesus never questioned Satan’s dominion, He came to earth expressly to take it away from him. Jesus came as the second, or last, Adam (see 1 Cor. 15:45-47). The first Adam lost dominion; the second Adam will regain it. This was a new beginning of history. It is part of the New Covenant, not the Old Covenant. Jesus brought a new kingdom, namely, the kingdom of God.

The first to announce the Kingdom was John the Baptist. He preached in the wilderness and said, “Repent, for the kingdom of [God] is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). This was the D-day of the invasion of the kingdom of Satan. During World War II, when the Allies established a beachhead in France on D-day, everyone knew that the war in the European theater was over. However,
many more battles still needed to be fought until Hitler was finally defeated. Similarly, Jesus’ coming as the second Adam marked the beginning of the end of Satan’s defeat. It is now up to us, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to fight the battles needed to finish it.

Jesus preached the
gospel of the Kingdom; the apostles preached the gospel of the Kingdom; and He expects us to preach the gospel of the Kingdom (see Matt. 24:14). What is the gospel of the Kingdom? After the temptation, Jesus went to the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth and announced His agenda. We can surmise that this would be the basic content of the gospel of the Kingdom. It included preaching good news to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, bringing deliverance to the captives, giving sight to the blind, freeing the oppressed and preaching the acceptable year of the Lord (see Luke 4:18-19).

A Fresh View of Scripture

Following this pattern, our
new paradigm for taking dominion includes a dual task: the evangelistic mandate (saving souls) and the
cultural mandate (transforming society). . . .
[C. Peter Wagner, Let's Take Dominion Now! emphases added, bold headings in the original]

In the above quotation C. Peter Wagner is articulating a basic heresy of dominionism. This heresy teaches that Jesus Christ did not defeat Satan at the Cross, but rather the Church must accomplish this for Him on earth. A subtle side-heresy (never explicitly stated except by Latter Rain leaders) is that the Church assumes the role of Christ (or becomes Christ). So even though this excerpt is subtitled, "Jesus, the Second Adam," the church is who "will regain it" (dominion). This heresy then leads to the proposition that the church must embrace a "dual task" of both evangelism and societal transformation (building the kingdom of God on earth).

This faulty doctrine of the insufficiency of Christ is rooted in a deeper heresy which goes back to Genesis 1. This heresy is articulated by Ralph Winter in his key article "Twelve Frontiers of Perspective" in which he delineates and defends the new doctrines he helped to concoct over the period of his lifetime as a mission leader (see previous post in this series).

In order to understand Ralph Winter's passion about this topic, the reader should be aware that Ralph Winter was a key leader of an obscure group called The American Scientific Affiliation, which may have been an offshoot of the neoevangelical movement in the late 1940s, and had as its goal the integration of science with theology (however "science" came to be defined). In the 1990s this organization was "taken over" by the Templeton Foundation, a proponent of "new spirituality."

Winter begins his explanation of the Genesis 1 heresy by noting that man "cannot fully declare the glory of God if we do not embrace science as a vast domain in which we can both see God's glory and advance His Kingdom" [emphasis added]. He postulates that distinguishing between the "evangelistic mandate" and "cultural mandate" (as Wagner does above) is an "artificial dichotomy." He then delves into an extrabiblical fantasy:

"Being human we are likely to conceive of the redemption of homo sapiens as the primary concern of God. But homo sapiens is specifically the most recent divine strategy to promote the reestablishment of the Kingdom of God. . . .

"Nature, prior to the appearance of homo sapiens, is shot through and through with terrible slaughter, bloodshed, violence, and suffering, as the result of the fall of Satan, long before Adam fell." [emphasis added]

Notice that Adam and Eve are not mentioned, but rather man as a species of homo sapiens, which is an anthropological rather than biblical view.

"Man was intended to work with God in destroying the source of. . . evil. This was once God's good world, but it became severly (sic) distorted by the fallen adversary of God long before homo sapiens existed." [emphasis added]

Winter then leaps to the Genesis 1 heresy that

"Man was meant to be an ally in the redemption and restoration of Creation, not merely a worker for his own redemption, even though his own redemption is essential for his restoration as a worker in the Kingdom, and as a warrior on God's side in the destruction of the works of the devil." [emphasis added]

In the above quotations there are a multitude of heresies, all converging on a suprabiblical account of Genesis 1, which then gives way to the belief that man can redeem himself and Creation, called "building the Kingdom of God." Later in the article, Winter suggests that we should be using science as a method to redeem Creation by tinkering with DNA so that lambs could lie down with lions.

In a related article by Winter, "When Business Can Be Mission: Where Both Business and Mission Fall Short," published in the International Journal of Frontier Missions (22:3 Fall 2005, pp. 110-117), this "cultural mandate" is given the broader base of marketplace transformation (i.e., business as mission). In this regard, note that C. Peter Wagner's opening quotation is posted at Os Hillman's marketplace transformation website. In this business context, then, Winter explains his aberrant theologies more fully. Note the derogation of the Gospel of Salvation, which is common among those who hold to dominionist views:

"A number of people these days refer to the Genesis 'Cultural Mandate' which was given to Adam, note, before the Fall, This way they feel they can rightly and reasonably justify earnest Christian efforts in just about any good business which is essential to the growth and welfare of society. These people also speak of what is called 'The Evangelistic Mandate,' which arose of necessity after the Fall, and was intended to advance the Kingdom and thus redeem the fallen creation.

"However, these are not complementary mandates. They are sequential. The cultural mandate came first. . . .

". . .[A]fter the Fall of Adam the Cultural Mandate is no longer enough. Nor can the Evangelistic Mandate be purely 'heavenly-oriented.' After the fall it is no longer merely a matter of getting people prepared for heaven, it is a case of preparing them both for heaven and for all-out, knock-down, drag-out war against the powers of darkness and evil. A wartime emergency, both physical and spiritual, still exists and must be dealt with on a wartime basis or the glory of God will continue to suffer.

". . .It is impelling that both mandates should be merged into a single 'Military Mandate,' which, in this life, is the story of a reconquering Kingdom of God. . . . A Military Mandate. . . [includes] fighting evil and the works of the devil, which is essential to the 'reglorification' of God. . . . whatever is necessary to accomplish that redemptive and recruiting function." [emphases added]

Again, note that the foundation of this heresy is that the Cross is not enough, and God is insufficient. Man must now do it for Him, including - unbelievably -- that man is somehow responsible for aiding God's glory! And, furthermore, this is a teaching that Creation is somehow redeemed by the machinations of man. Winter, who is suffering from the ravages of cancer, wrote that the church should be involved in the mission of "the eradication of the very pathogens that haunt most human societies on the face of the earth." He concludes his article by resorting back to the motif of warfare -- not a war against sin in the life of the believer, but rather an earth-based "Kingdom" warfare (i.e. dominionism):

"Is This War?

"It is good enough simply to make people feel secure in this life and hopeful about eventually getting out of this sin-filled world and safely through the pearly gates? Right now that is the main thing the church is doing. In stark contrast are those tasks like restoring creation, restoring God's glory, rediscovering Satan's works, and deliberately destroying his deeds and deadly delusions. . . .

"This is a 'wartime' and Biblical perspective, yet that fact has apparently evaporated into the thin air of the current mood, which is defined by an artificial and inadequate (albeit pervasive) peacetime mandate. The Biblical mandate is 'the Gospel of the Kingdom,' --meaning the extension of that 'Rule' against opposition. It is not merely a 'Gospel of salvation.' The Gospel of the Kingdom is the central matter of God's 'will being done on earth as it is in heaven.' It is a mandate that is distinctly larger than getting along in this life with the help of business, and getting to heaven with the help of missions. God's glory is at stake, and His glory is our main business." [bold emphasis added, except for headings]

The Truth:

Where does one start when trying to explain what is wrong with the multi-faceted heresies presented above? These must be potent heresies, because Winter has been able to train a generation of missionaries in these doctrines without hardly any opposition.

For the reader thirsting for Truth, we hearken back to Dr. Francis Schaeffer, who reminds us what Genesis 1 is really all about:

Christianity says man is now abnormal--he is separated from his Creator, who is his only sufficient reference point--not by a metaphysical limitation, but by true moral guilt. As a result he is now also separated from his fellowmen, and from himself. Therefore, when he is involved in cruelty, he is not being true to what he was initially created to be. Cruelty is a symptom of abnormality, and a result of a moral, historic, space-time Fall. What does a historic space-time Fall involve? It means that there was a period before man fell; that if you had been there, you could have seen Adam before he fell; that at the point when he revolted against God by making a free choice to disobey God's commandment, there was a tick of the clock. Take away the first three chapters of Genesis, and you cannot maintain a true Christian position nor give Christianity's answers. . . .

If there is true moral guilt in the presence of a personal God (rather than a metaphysical intrinsic situation of what is and always has been), then perhaps there will be a solution from God's side. And God says to man that there is a solution. That solution rests upon God saying that He is holy and He is love, and in His love He has loved the world, and He sent His Son. Now in history, there on Calvary's cross, in space and time, Jesus died. And we should never speak of Jesus' death without linking it to His person. This is the eternal Second Person of the Trinity. When He died, with the division that man has caused by his revolt now carried up into the trinity itself, there in expiation, in propitiation and substitution, the true moral guilt is met by the infinite value of Jesus' death. Thus Jesus says, "It is finished."
[The God Who Is There (Crossway, 1982, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer), pp. 114,116)

"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
after the tradition of men,
after the rudiments of the world,
and not after Christ.
For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

And ye are complete in Him,
which is the Head of all principality and power."

(Colossians 2:8-10)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Watchman or Gossip?

Part 7: Contentiously Contending
By Anton Bosch

For years the evil King Saul pursued David like a man does an animal. He tried to kill him many times, broke David’s marriage and caused him to live the life of a vagabond and a fugitive. There is not any good to be said for Saul, and by all estimations the sooner he died and David ascended the throne the better for the nation.

One day Saul did die. The young Amalekite man who assisted in Saul’s suicide ran to bring David the good news and the crown he had taken from Saul’s corpse. He thought David would be glad to hear that his tormentor was dead so that David could finally claim the throne. But instead David mourned for Saul, rent his clothes, and sang a lament over the death of the king and Jonathan (2Samuel 1). The young man who killed Saul and who carried the news was executed for his trouble. David says of the event: “When someone told me, saying, ‘Look, Saul is dead,' thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag – the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news” (2Samuel 4:10).

A little while later David’s spoiled son, Absalom, stirred a revolt against David, went to war against the king and tried to kill his own father. When David heard the news that the rebellion was quelled and that Absalom was killed, he again mourned rather than rejoiced (2Samuel 18, 19). These are some examples of how a godly man reacts to the news of the fall of the wicked. Even Samuel, who never wanted to anoint Saul as King, mourned at Saul’s failure (1Samuel 15:35).

How do we react to the news of the fall of Christians, or to the rumor of the latest heresy that comes out of the camp of the false teachers? Do we take delight in pouncing on the latest tidbit of scandal and spreading it as wide as possible? Or do we react like David and Samuel did?

In many parts of the world tow trucks can be seen waiting at busy intersections. In our family we refer to them as "vultures" since they hang around waiting to feed on someone else’s misfortune. To wait for and profit from someone else’s hurt has to be one of the lowest forms of human existence. While the tow truck driver and the vulture have some purpose, any form of scavenger, as well as those who handle the dead, are declared unclean under the Law. The young man who brought the news to David was an Amalekite. The Amalekites were always waiting in the wings to profit off of Israel’s weak moments and are “the people against whom the Lord will have indignation forever” (Malachi 1:4).

Jesus and Satan stand at two opposites. Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). Jesus on the other hand, “makes intercession for the saints” (Romans 8:27). Thus, those who accuse support the ministry of Satan, while those who enter into the ministry of Jesus grieve and mourn and make intercession for those who sin and fall.

Watchmen who warn about impending danger have an important role throughout the Bible (Ezekiel 3:17, Acts 20:28-31). BUT, there is a huge difference between a watchman and a gossip. A watchman takes no delight in reporting the threat, while the gossip enjoys telling and re-telling the juicy stories of sin and failure. These gossips are just like the godless Athenians who “spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). Some who style themselves as “defenders of the faith,” take extreme delight in rehearsing the latest error. I have seen the glint in their eye as they play the latest DVD or as they sit around the table seeking to tell of some greater error than the previous speaker. Some rush to the keyboard to publish the latest juicy morsel as quickly and as widely as possible

Is this the spirit of Christ or of Satan? Is this how King David would have reacted?

Even worse, many like sharks who have smelled blood, rush in for the kill without even checking if the rumor is true or false, and worse, if the accused is friend or foe. Thus they begin to feed on one another. It is very sad when anyone dies in war, and when innocent bystanders die it is a tragedy. But there are no words to describe the horror, injustice and catastrophe of someone killed by “friendly fire.” Paul warns that “if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:15).

The Scriptures (Old and New) are clear that “two or three witnesses” are required to make an accusation stick. (Deuteronomy 17:6, Matthew 18:6, 1Timothy 5:19). Even in the world one is not allowed to brand someone a criminal unless he has been found guilty in court, yet we Christians will accuse and execute another based on a single rumor. That makes us no different to those who conspired to crucify Jesus without any evidence of wrongdoing. (Please note that I am not against dealing appropriately with heretics, schismatics and immoral leaders, but let’s get the facts first.)

Some do this for personal profit. Money is made out of books, tapes and speaking tours exposing the latest sins. Are we any better than the tabloid press? I don’t think so. Some preachers will build a following of “disciples” who hang on their every word, who support them financially, feed their egos and encourage the preacher to expose even more lurid details. When these preachers cannot dish fresh dirt, some of them are not beyond inventing things, exaggerating or even blowing a minor incident into a full-blown event.

Preoccupation with sin, error or deception has a negative impact on the person so engaged. Before 1994, South Africa had a censorship board that viewed and censored every movie that came into the country. Several of these men were preachers. I often wondered what impact all the smut must have had on the minds of these men. Sin, whether the performance or the observation of it, has the same desensitizing and soiling effect on the doer as well as the spectator. Pornography is equally destructive to the audience and the performers. Thus, a preoccupation with heresy impacts the sensitivity of the heart of the one so occupied. This is why many become blind to their own sins and doctrinal shortcomings. Jesus warned about removing the log out of one’s own eye before trying to remove the splint out of another’s.

Which is worse: the man who, for whatever reason, does not yet understand the Trinity, but who sincerely loves the Lord with all his heart and who walks humbly with his God? Or the man who can write a treatise on the intricacies of the tri-unity of God, but who is bigoted, bitter, vengeful, proud, a divider of brethren and a gossip? I do not condone false doctrine but we can have all the right teachings and still have denied the essence of the Gospel.

The Ephesians had the right doctrine, hated those who were evil and were able to discern true apostles from the false. Yet, the Lord says they are fallen because they had left their first love (Revelation 2:1-7).

Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1Corinthians 13:6)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"The 'Secret' Mission"

Part 3: The Doctrines of Dominionism

"We now see that the Great Commission’s biblical goal is nothing short of social transformation."
--C. Peter Wagner, "Let's Take Dominion Now!"

In a key series of articles, Christian discernment researcher Ed Tarkowski wrote concerning the new "Abrahamic Covenant" heresy that was being promulgated by the Latter Rain leaders and widely esteemed evangelicals connected with Fuller Theological Seminary and the U.S. Center for World Mission. Tarkowski explained the significance of this new doctrine in Part 4 of this series:

In the January 1986 issue of Mission Frontiers Magazine (pages 17-18), Ralph D. Winter began a series entitled "THE 'SECRET' MISSION, A Theology of Redemption" in which he explained his view of God's covenant with Abraham as it relates to missions. The apparent premise of the series is that through the fall, man lost to Satan his dominion over the world, and now man's hope is to take back, through preaching the gospel, the dominion he lost. The strategy, then, is to evangelize resident people groups in all the nations and in this way take the nations for Christ.

In his series, Winter emphasized the struggle against "the evil empire" as the hope of taking back the earth. The personal war against the adversary, he said, is to "expand God's rule to the ends of the earth, to the last of all the world's people," through "the blessing of God -- that is, to be discipled, to be reconciled through the death of His Son, to live in the fulness of His Spirit, and by His grace to 'put on the full armor of God, that (they) may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil."

Since then, the stand against the schemes of the devil has brought forth such practices as spiritual mapping of cities, evangelizing people groups (nations), spiritual warfare for the purpose of displacing the spiritual entities ruling cities, prayer walking and data-basing. All these methods will supposedly prepare fields for evangelization, and will result in taking all the cities of the world for God and the establishment of His rule. Winter states that this situation was established by the Abrahamic Covenant:

"For 4000 years, then we have been in a Covenant-instituted and -guided counter-effort, an essentially 'wartime' situation. . ."

According to Winter, God's goal in establishing this wartime situation was to fulfill His covenant with Abraham for the purpose of expanding His rule to the ends of the earth:

"Arrayed against the kingdom of evil is the Kingdom of God, now drawn into what turns out to be a secret mission to push darkness back and expand God's rule to the ends of the earth, to the last of all the world's people."

Having set up the idea that the Church must constantly wage a battle, Winter now brings forth his "secret mission," so named because of past unbelief and/or disobedience. The purpose of this mission is for the Kingdom of God, "arrayed against the kingdom of evil," to "push darkness back and expand God's rule to the ends of the earth, to the LAST of ALL the world's people" [emphasis added].

Preach the gospel to all men on earth? Yes. But are we to extend God's rule to the last of all the world's people? No, there is no such command in Scripture. The gospel certainly establishes the rule of God in people's hearts through Christ's finished work and its acceptance by any individual. Yet the simplicity of that fact is clouded by the strategies I described above, such as spiritual mapping (by which demons controlling cities are supposedly displaced by the Church so God's rule in that city can be established through people accepting the gospel). But, in truth, the Gospel is to be preached to prepare all who believe for the day when Christ alone personally establishes God's rule over the cities of the world: (Rev 19:15-16 KJV). . . .

For further reading on what is entailed by Ralph Winter's re-defined Abrahamic Covenant, especially see Ed Tarkowski's Part 5. Many components of this elaborately contrived doctrine are easily recognizable in the current writings of leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation. It is a key tenet of the coming Dominionist world church.

Ralph Winter has recently enlightened the evangelical world as to how he widely disseminated this concocted "Abrahamic Covenant" doctrine. But first -- who is Winter and why is he significant? In a nutshell:

"Dr. Ralph Winter, Founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission
Dr. Winter served as a missionary for 10 years in Guatemala, then at Fuller Theological Seminary trained (and learned from) missionaries around the world for 10 years before founding the USCWM. His thinking has stimulated many new initiatives to advance the Great Commission. He is best known for introducing and championing the challenge of Unreached Peoples and "frontiers" in mission."

Winter is best known for his work in re-formulating evangelism, particularly in overseeing the influential Perspectives course which has trained an entire generation of missionaries in the new doctrines. Winter, a member of the dominionist group Coalition on Revival, was also featured in TIME Magazine's February 7, 2005 cover story listing "The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America." An official biography details Winter's history, which is reproduced below so that the reader will grasp this man's formidable influence:

"Ralph Winter graduated from Caltech in engineering, gained an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language at Columbia University in New York before completing a Ph.D at Cornell University in linguistics, cultural anthropology and mathematical statistics. He and his new bride, Roberta, then went to Princeton Theological Seminary where he pastored a rural New Jersey church as a student. In 1956, ordination followed finishing his seminary degree.

"From 1956 to 1966, Ralph and Roberta served in Guatemala as missionaries under the Presbyterian Church USA, working with a Native American tribal group of the Mayan family of peoples. They assisted the existing national church in a variety of ways, ranging from education to small business development to a special kind of theological education by extension designed to develop local leaders through formal ministerial studies.

"Partly on the basis of the latter, the Fuller School of World Mission invited Dr. Winter to become part of the new school, in the second year. During the next ten years the Winters dealt with over 1,000 missionaries in class and out of class, learning a great deal about the global cause of Christ in the process. During this period Dr. Winter founded the William Carey Library, a specialized publisher and distributor of mission materials, co-founded the American Society of Missiology, assisted in the founding of ACMC (Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment), and inaugurated the Perspectives Study Program.

"Over the years teaching at Fuller, however, it became more and more clear that someone would have to do something special to recall the mission movement to a frontier focus. The Frontier Mission Fellowship was born in 1976 for that purpose, immediately initiating two major projects: the US Center for World Mission and Wiliam [sic] Carey International University.

"In 1979, Dr. Winter intitiated [sic] the production of Mission Frontiers, the bulletin of the U.S. Center for World Mission, which now is published 6 times a year with a circulation of over 80,000 and a distribution that covers 160 countries. He has continued as the Editor of the publication since its founding.

"In the next 20 years, a community of workers composing the Frontier Mission Fellowship was developed, ready and willing to tackle any problem impeding the mission movement. Winter served as the CEO of the Center until 1990, the University until 1997, and has since then been occupied mostly as the General Director of the Frontier Mission Fellowship, a mission society member of the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association and the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies. Dr. Winter is the Vice-President of the Southwest Region of the Evangelical Missiological Society, as well as being active in the International Society for Frontier Missions, which he helped to initiate."

How the "Abrahamic Covenant" heresy was concocted

Winter recently wrote a stunning article, "Twelve Frontiers of Perspective," in which he divulged twelve "major shifts or changes of perspective" that influenced "ideas, strategies, emphases, and so forth, in the mission industry and in the pulpit." The second perspective shift explains how he came up with "The Great Commission and Abraham." Below are some selected excerpts of "that change of perspective and the resulting radically new idea (to us) that the Great Commission was right there in Genesis 12. . . .":

"This new frontier of understanding came to a head just as the first Perspectives Reader was going to press. This was in 1981. I was the only one who thought we ought to male (sic) sure this idea got into the book, and I was being out voted by everybody, particularly Steve Hawthorne and Jay Gary . . . .

"But, by Providence. . . I happened to be asked to be a speaker at the dedication of the Billy Graham Center. . . . and I ran into Walter Kaiser Jr. . . . I had been looking at one of his books . . . . He had put into every chapter-title of his book on the Old Testament the phrase 'The Promise.' I said, 'Dr. Kaiser, isn't that simply a Jewish misunderstanding of what was actually a mandate, a command?" . . . .

"Then he said to me. . . "Well, you can call Genesis 12:1-3 the Great Commission if you want." And again I staggered back and I said 'Oh, now wait a minute. I can't go around saying that Genesis 12 is the Great Commission. I would get fired right out of a church. . . . I am not a Hebrew professor. I need to be able to quote somebody who is. Do you have that statement in print?' . . . [H]e answered, 'Look , you quote me and I'll get it in print.'"

"So I came back to Steve Hawthorne and Jay Gary and all the others here who were working away on the final stages of the 1981 version of the Perspectives Reader and I said to them, 'Guess what, Kaiser agrees with me here. We can quote him.' . . . What he sent on cassette then became Chapter Four in that first Reader. . . .

"You can well imagine that that was a major insight for us -- giving us a whole new Bible. And this element in the Perspectives course is one of the biggest jolts which especially seminary students get when they take the Perspectives course. The idea that the Great Commission is the backbone of the whole Bible -- not just one of the teachings of the NT -- is a major shift in perspective a frontier yet to be crossed for most Christians. . . ." [emphasis added]

Al Dager, in his groundbreaking work The World Christian Movement (Sword, 2001), described the widespread influence of the evangelical leaders who had been discipled by Henrietta Mears. Many of these men converged at Fuller Theological Seminary during the 1970s, creating new doctrines. Dager reveals the surprising roots of this Abrahamic Covenant doctrine. Here is the story:

The idea that Abraham and Israel failed to fulfill the Great Commission in their time was formulated, or at least popularized, by Helen Barrett Montgomery in the early 20th century. Ralph Winter attributes the social movement of that time to her ability to accomplish much in the way of teaching:

"The amazing and powerful social movement which allowed her to do these things--and which amplified the effect of what she did--was probably the most significant movement in history for the completion of the Great Commission."

The movement to which Winter alludes is the Women's Suffrage Movement. . . .

[Montgomery's] teaching on missions, found in the Study Guide for the Perspectives course, outlines her belief that the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis for world missions today. She taught that throughout history everyone from Abraham to the present had failed to complete the Great Commission because the world had not been fully evangelized. She chastised the Church for failing to bring about what she considered total evangelization. And she warned that should the Church fail, God might replace it with something else:

"The Gospel will not fail. The Lord Jesus shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. The kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. But the Church may fail, may be set aside for another instrument. Today is the day of salvation for our Protestant churches. If we harden our hearts and close our eyes and refuse the plain call of God, other generations may see in us another Israel whose narrowness of vision was condemned by the very Scripture in which is our boast.' . . .

Dager continued, by quoting Ralph Winter:

"With this we understand once and for all that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the missionary God of the mission-covenant, the "Secret Mission!" Furthermore, these prominent references inaugurate the major narrative story of the Bible, which is essentially the unfolding story of the Secret Mission of God to all the nations ("Fulfillment"). It is not just the story of a nation blessed by God ("Fullness") in preparation for a task to be fulfilled 2,000 years later. We soon see that this covenant is in one sense the only Covenant in the Bible. It constitutes the grand plan, the only plan." [emphasis in Dager's original]

Some may say that Winter was careless in his words. But one with his knowledge of Scripture cannot so easily be dismissed. In effect, he does subordinate the New Covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant. Thus, the World Christian Movement infers that Jesus also failed, but commissioned His disciples to take up the cause to evangelize the world as fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. (pp. 41-45)

(To be continued. . . .)

The Truth:

"Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second, By the which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (Hebrews 10:9-10)

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)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Against Error or For Truth?

Contentiously Contending: Part 6
By Anton Bosch

Over the past few weeks we have looked at the motives, manners and methods we need to employ if we are going to stand against error. But maybe the question we should have begun with was whether standing against error is, in fact, a legitimate ministry, and whether or not there is any sanction in the Bible for a ministry to be built around standing against error.

Many think that standing against error and standing for the Truth are synonymous. Sadly, they are not. In standing for the Truth, we will of necessity stand against error. But those who stand against error do not necessarily stand for the Truth.

There are many who describe themselves in negatives: “We are not… We do not… We do not believe….” They do not know the Truth other than in terms of what it is not. Some of these dear brothers cannot preach a single message or write a single word unless “inspired” by some error. So, if you are a preacher, teacher or writer, let me ask you this question: When preparing to write or to speak, do you think in terms of what you are going to speak against, or in terms of the truth you wish to instill in the lives of the hearers?

A careful examination of the words of the apostles preached in the book of Acts will not reveal a single message designed to disprove any other religion or refute any error but, rather, every message was a very clear and positive declaration of Truth. “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42). Jesus did not say that we will see the error and so be set free from it. He did say: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Those who stand against error often fall into an equal but opposite error to the one they oppose. Their theology is reactive since they do not form their theology based on a study of the Scriptures but, rather, their doctrine is shaped by a reaction to what is wrong. Ephesians 4:14 speaks of “children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” Have you ever noticed a tree or man “tossed to and fro” by the wind? The wind only blows in one direction, yet sometimes the person will fall -- not in the direction that the wind is blowing, but into the wind. Why? Because they over-corrected.

In the same way, winds of doctrine toss the immature “to and fro.” While some are just “carried about with every wind of doctrine” others will overreact to it and fall in the opposite direction. This is just like when the opposing team in tug-a-war suddenly stops pulling and the other team falls down. Thus, people open themselves to be manipulated by the Devil into an opposite but equal, and sometimes greater, error.

Did you know that almost none of the errors of early Roman church came about as a result of a lack of diligence or commitment to the Truth, but that almost all of their many heresies can be traced back to an effort to stand against some error and to protect the church? Broadbent, in his excellent history of the church titled The Pilgrim Church, says: "The means adopted to counter these attacks and to preserve unity of doctrine affected the church even more than the heresies themselves" (p. 30). There are countless examples of churches and individuals holding to some error simply because they overreacted to a bad experience in their past.

Experiential theology is wrong when it is based on someone’s positive or negative experience and not on the Bible. The fact that someone was healed by standing on his head is not a reason to incorporate head-standing into one's doctrine. We must base our doctrine on the clear teaching of the Word of God. In the same way we cannot allow the many errors and abuses out there to shape our thinking or preaching even one little bit. Our values, doctrine and views must be based on the Word, and on the Word alone.

I am all for pointing out error. By simply preaching against various errors we may well equip people to see one specific error. But people will likely fall for the next error if it has not been defined for them. Sadly, many folk who know everything about heresies do not know the Truth. And they might even categorize pure doctrine as error since they do not know how to recognize the Truth when they come across it.

We must equip folk to know the Truth. If we know the Truth, we will recognize error in every disguise. I’m sure you have heard the story about people who are trained to detect counterfeit money by first being trained to recognize the real thing. Once they know the real they can easily detect the fake. (I did some research and this is true.)

Error is like the viruses that attack our computers. Every day 65 new viruses are unleashed. It is impossible to keep a complete list of the latest threats against your computer, let alone against your soul. A far better approach is for people to know the Truth and, thus, be able to recognize that which is not Truth by comparing it to what is Truth.

The plumbline (Amos 7:7,8) does not contain a copy of everything that can be wrong with a wall. It simply shows a true vertical line, and when the plumbline is dropped, and the wall compared to it, every flaw in the wall becomes evident.

More than teaching people doctrinal truth, we must bring them into a relationship with The Truth – Jesus Christ. And The Truth (Jesus Christ) will set them free. It is no good collecting various truths if we do not have The Truth. One of the questions I am often asked is how will we recognize the Antichrist? The answer is simple: Know the real Christ and you will recognize the impostor.

In the past 30 years, millions of people have been caught up by many dozens of heresies taught by charlatans who have proliferated in the wake of the Charismatic Renewal. If only the deceived knew the Bible, and knew their God, they would never have been misled. Yet, over the years we have seen many people come to the light and turn from error simply by being taught the whole Truth. The Word is powerful! And if only we will -- in humility, with clean hands -- break it open and share it with the folk, many will be set free and come into true fellowship with the Father and the Son.

The purpose of the Word, and the preaching and teaching of the Word, is “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Timothy 3:16). Are we equipping people for good work? If not, even if what we preach is true, we are missing the mark.

(To be continued)

The Truth:

"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:" (Amos 8:11)