Creating Heaven on Earth
The false gospel of building the kingdom of God on earth incorporates the age-old occult teaching that man's efforts and activities will bring Heaven to Earth. This teaching has been lurking off stage in the evangelical world for several decades. It is now building steam as the hottest new teaching to make the New Apostolic Reformation circuit. And it has gone mainstream with N.T. Wright's new book Surprised by Hope. In the recent TIME article, N.T. Wright sums up the new/old doctrine as:
- "Jesus' resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return."
- "the more important transformation will be when we are again embodied and administering Christ's kingdom."
- "the new creation has begun, and we have a job to do."
- "In Revelation and Paul's letters we are told that God's people will actually be running the new world on God's behalf. The idea of our participation in the new creation goes back to Genesis, when humans are supposed to be running the Garden and looking after the animals. If you transpose that all the way through, it's a picture like the one that you get at the end of Revelation."
- "What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell. And when he returns to fulfil the plan, you won't be going up there to him, he'll be coming down here."
- "the end of Revelation describes a marvelous human participation in God's plan."
This rosy scenario bypasses Armageddon and ignores Judgment Day. It elevates man to God-like status, ignoring the Fall in the Garden and man's utter depravity of sin. It eviscerates the Gospel of Salvation. Man does not need a Redeemer, he must redeem creation. Therefore he must shift his attentions to perfecting the Earth.
TheElijahList is pumping out this teaching at an accelerating pace. Just the other day (Feb. 8) it was linked to the concept of a generation of "transformers" -- an endtime Joel's Army:
Though it is true that a great army of young people will arise, they will not arise alone! This is a chosen generation, made up of all those who are living on planet earth in this day. We are a great army of light . . .
For months now, the Lord has been talking to me about the restoration of His original intent for His people. He would tell me over and over, "I'm taking back the original intent I had before the fall, before the creation of the world...back to the beginning." (Kathi Pelton, "This Generation Will Arise With--EARS to HEAR What the Spirit is Saying")
Another apostolic organization, which is even named Open Heaven, proclaims in a recent newsletter (2/8/08) that:
The fallen-world order will be dissolved.
It will be replaced with the redeemed world order of God’’s kingdom and His righteousness. . . .
A pure holy people are being prepared. True sons of God are being made ready as conduits to flow the love and power of God, imparting the way of God to earth as it is in heaven. [bold in original]
A corollary doctrinal heresy teaches that Heaven is already beginning to come down to Earth through "portals":
New, Heavenly portals are being opened by His ministers, allowing His people to walk through and discover new realms of the glory and majesty of our Lord never experienced before, and His Kingdom. (advertisement for "Glory Invasion" conference, TheElijahList, 9/23/07)
Another ad for this same conference (8/8/07), contains a good dose of Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God teaching that we can all become little gods:
Released through the revelation of His finished works on Calvary, God is exerting the divine labor: Christ the hope of Glory be fully formed in you. In this hour, as all of creation cries out for the revealing of God's sons and daughters, the Glory of the indwelling Christ is beginning to shine through His people in tangible ways demonstrating the freedom of the new creation - freedom from the dominion of sin, and free to rule and reign with Christ.
None of this is new teaching, even though the false apostles and prophets and modern theologians would like everyone to think so. For example:
The stories of the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, the Tower of Babel, and the Temple of Solomon are among the best known in the Old Testament. They were alluded to frequently during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and were often used at that time to frame accounts of the progress of knowledge. The narrative history which could be found in the Bible presented a coherent story of the growth and decline of knowledge, in which moral and spiritual factors helped to determine natural and practical outcomes.
As metaphors of knowledge, the four stories gave information about both the acquisition and the ideal state of human understanding. But they also issued warnings about the necessary difference between human and divine knowledge and suggested ways by which knowledge might be married to piety and wisdom in order to achieve an improvement in the condition of mankind. . . .
The Garden of Eden provided the setting for the Fall, a transformation which brought about the loss of both spiritual and intellectual perfection, corrupting the nature of humans and of the surrounding environment. The Garden symbolized the ideal state, when the earth had been spontaneously fertile, labour was easy and fulfilling, and human activity had been grounded on a complete knowledge of both words and things. A return to this paradise was considered by some in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to be possible through the restoration of learning, and through striving to bring the earth and its inhabitants back to a pristine state of grace. It could also be achieved by practical measures, such as the establishment of botanical gardens, which reunited the plants of the world in a single space, or the planting of fruit trees, whose cultivation mimicked the dutiful dressing of the Garden of Eden by its first inhabitants, Adam and Eve. By the zealous investigation of nature and the searching out of new varieties of plants and techniques of husbandry, the world might be rescued from corruption and infertility. Hard labour could make the Garden grow again, and restore the knowledge which humans had once employed to govern nature in paradise. . . .
The ideas of the humanists and reformers of the sixteenth century encouraged early modern readers of the Bible to interpret the Old Testament as literal history, not as allegory. This led early modern writers about natural knowledge to turn to the stories of the Garden and of the Tower to explain the present state of mankind. It allowed them to see the project of overturning the Fall, and recreating the Ark or the Temple, as an essential part of humanity's return to grace and understanding. The stories of the Old Testament were not just convenient metaphors, let alone fictions, they were facts which taught by example how human beings ought and ought not to behave in order to attain knowledge.
Perhaps it is more obvious to the reader now, after reading this, that the emphasis on recreating Heaven on Earth is always placed on man -- his endeavors, activities, knowledge and abilities. The onus is always on man, and nowadays Christians claim to have a more sophisticated knowledge base from which to operate these devices to reclaim Creation.
This heresy effectually teaches that it is within man's power to reverse the deadly effects of the Fall on himself and God's creation. This brand of theological heresy sublimates God and His authority to man's own idolatries and contrivances. There is little need of a Redeemer who died on the Cross for our sins. And our blessed hope becomes earth-centered.
In the 1600s, while men were busy perfecting nature (as described above), John Flavell cautioned believers to:
"Beware of such persons as are factors and agents for antichrist, and keep off from such a ministry, the tendency and scope of which is to entice and draw you to idolatry, Matth. vii. 15. and x. 17. Phil. iii. 2. Col. ii. 8.
"There is a generation of men now abroad, skilful to destroy souls, who would make merchandise of you, and by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple... such as mean well, but want prudence to discern such as mean ill. These are of two sorts; the generality of them are, by the righteous hand of God, given over to such dissoluteness and debauchery, that their folly and madness is made manifest to all men, 1 Tim. iii. 9. And others that have gifts and parts, how few are there of them, but employ them in defending abominable superstitions, and persuading their congregations to submit to them: So that you have your choice, whether you will drink poison, mixed with water, or infused into brisk and generous wine, which will give it a speedier access to the spirits. . . .
"Nothing must lie nearer thy heart, if thou be a Christian, than the glory of thy God; all ends, interests, and designs, must be subjected to that; and whatsoever cannot be subordinated, must be rejected. If this principle were but settled upon the heart, what brave spirits would it breed and raise in thy breast!" (The Works of John Flavell, Vol. 4, [The Banner of Truth Trust, 1968],"Antipharmacum Saluberrimum, &c." pp. 530, 546)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you." (1 Peter 1:3-4)