Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Dark Side of Jealousy

"I am raising up an abrasive time that will provoke you and produce My jealousy in you so you rise up with a new war mantle against the forces of hell in your midst. I will raise the abrasion! I will provoke MY people to action."
--Chuck Pierce's latest prophecy on The Elijah List, 3/8/08 [emphasis in original].


There is another side to this jealousy issue (see previous post). Those who believe that they are gods, little gods, or agents of "God's" transformation on earth, may come to see themselves as imbued with the deistic attribute of wielding instruments for war and destruction. This "jealousy" isn't about peace, harmony and love, as is evident from the quotation above. When reading this "prophecy" through the lens of Dominionism, troubling questions come to mind. For example, just how will the "forces of hell in your midst" come to be defined by those who are wearing the mantle of war?

Indeed, the rest of Chuck Pierce's prophecy talks about confrontations, abrasive circumstances, change, power, enemies, etc.:

"I will create a strong people that will rule in every sphere of authority. Spheres of authority will be rearranged in these next 40 days....

"I control the end from the beginning. There is nothing that happens in the earth realm that is outside of MY dominion. Agree that My will will be done on earth as it is in Heaven this day. Look up and see Me as the King who reigns. See Heaven's highway forming in the earth realm around you.....

"Nations are hanging in the balance! My Kingdom government will now begin to rise up and form to influence the government of the earth...."
[emphasis in original, links added]


Bill Hamon, another false prophet touted by the Elijah List, has updated his timeline prophecies (see 2/2/08 post) in a recent message announcing "The Beginning of the Third and Final Apostolic Reformation." He wrote that "every saint is called to demonstrate the Gospel of the Kingdom (not just the Gospel of salvation) in their sphere of influence." This is a clear example of the emerging new gospel of Dominionism. Note how the Gospel of salvation is denigrated:

This Reformation will bring about a paradigm shift in the goal and purpose of the Church. Most Evangelical and Pentecostal theologians see no purpose for the Church other than to win more souls to Christ so they are made ready for Heaven. Now we are receiving revolutionary, reformed thinking from the heart and mind of God. The expanded goal and vision of the Third Reformation Church is to co-labor with Christ in His passionate desire for the fulfillment of Revelation 11:15:

"...there were loud voices in Heaven, saying, 'The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'"...

Christ's Third Apostolic Reformation and purpose is to use His restored Church to fulfill God's original mandate to mankind--subdue all things, take dominion and fill the earth with a mankind race in God's own image and likeness, bring more and more of God's Kingdom and will to earth, and transform nations into sheep nations (those who do the works of Christ. See Matthew 25:31-46). This is the end result of the saints taking the Gospel of the Kingdom into every aspect of society.... [color and emphasis in original]


End Times eschatology is being revised by these prophets to mean a literal rule and reign on earth. Under a subsection titled "Make the Transition," Hamon states:

Those whom Jesus has made kings and priests unto God shall be the overcomers who reign with Christ on the earth. Please do not get stuck arguing and debating over what will happen during the seven years. Let us set our vision and goal beyond those seven years to Revelation 11:15. It is the time to give all of our life and labor to be co-workers together with Christ in demonstrating and enforcing His Kingdom in all the earth. We will not cease until we can join the voices in Heaven victoriously, declaring that the kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord Jesus and His anointed one, the Church....

Begin now to earnestly pray, prepare and work for God's Kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. [color and emphasis in original]


The Truth:

The teaching about creating heaven on earth can be found in both the New Age/New Spirituality and the New Apostolic Reformation/Emergent movements. The teaching claims that God's Kingdom will be built on earth, Armageddon will be bypassed, and Paradise restored. The biblical phrase from the Lord's Prayer, cited by Bill Hamon in his last sentence quoted directly above, now carries the meaning "as above, so below."

This idea comes from Hermeticism; it is not a Christian, nor a biblical teaching. It should not surprise us that a doctrine imported into neoevangelicalism from the occult world would begin to bear evil fruit. Wherever one finds the utopian language of peace, love and harmony on earth, it quickly secedes into warfare and Dominionism language!

Pastor Larry DeBruyn, author of the new book Church on the Rise: Why I am not a Purpose-Driven Pastor, has explained what this heresy means in a new article reprinted with permission below.

DECODING PETERSON'S MESSAGE

Thy kingdom come--"as above, so below."

"As above, so below."[1] That's how the New Spirituality defines reality. Between the realities of time and eternity, light and darkness, heaven and earth, material and immaterial, God and man--there's no real distinction or difference. All is one. As above, so below. But before dealing with this concept of spirituality as it relates to the teaching of Scripture and Eugene Peterson's inclusion of it in The Message, some knowledge about the phrase's origin and meaning will be helpful.

The saying seems to have originated within a collection of fourteen books known as the Corpus Hermeticum. According to James A. Herrick, "These Hermetic writings . . . were based on the systems of various philosophers and teachers in Alexandria, Egypt, between A.D. 150-300."[2] Herrick quotes Wayne Shumaker's statement that, "Hermeticism was basically a Greek contemplative system developed on Egyptian soil."[3] The goal of Hermeticism is to realize, through the practice of physical exercises and the procurement of secret knowledge, a spiritual evolution of soul to ultimately become, as in the case of the legendary and mythical Hermes Trismegistus (i.e., "thrice great"), a god. One of the hermetical writings, The Emerald Tablet, contains the first known mention of the maxim, "As above, So below." So what does this ancient- gnostic- philosophical- contemplative phrase, commonly employed to define the essence of New Age spirituality, mean?

Dennis W. Hauck translates the phrase as follows: "Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing."[4] Note the upper case letters. As the letter "G" is capitalized in God's name, so are, "Below . . . Above . . . [and] One Thing." It is obvious therefore, that the phrase assigns unity and divinity to "everything" that exists. This concept of reality, it is believed, holds, "the key to all mysteries. . . . Macrocosmos is the same as microcosmos. The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man, man is the same as the cell, the cell is the same as the atom, the atom is the same as . . . and so on, ad infinitum."[5] As quoted by Warren Smith in his book Deceived On Purpose, a New Age book defines the saying as follows: "This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked."[6] Thus, the phrase obviously teaches pantheism-panentheism, the worldview underlying the religious conglomerate of what we know to be eastern-mystical-new-age spirituality.[7] That's why Eugene Peterson's continued use of the phrase in his rewrite of the Bible, The Message, is troubling.

The Message reads, "Our Father in heaven, / Reveal who you are. / Set the world right; / Do what's best-- as above, so below."[Emphasis mine, 8] At least three issues, and/or problems, arise for reason of Peterson's injection of this mystical and occult saying into the Lord's prayer.

First, why would the paraphraser use such a phrase--so tainted by, associated with, and sourced in a pantheistic and magical worldview--in the first place? Because of the phrase's occult associations, it should have been given no place in the Bible, especially since the Law forbids intentional contact with that world (Deuteronomy 18:9-13). Being the erudite and studied man that he is, surely Peterson must be aware of the phrase's occult undertones. So why would he include it in his version of God's Word?

Second, we should note how Peterson punctuates the words, as above, so below. A dash precedes the phrase. Grammatically, a dash may be used, "To add emphasis to parenthetical material or to mark an emphatic separation between parenthetical material and the rest of the sentence."[9] As such, Peterson makes the phrase to function independent of the request, "Thy will be done . . .." Knowing Peterson to be a most literate man, what "message" was he trying to communicate by separating the phrase from, or making it parenthetical to, Jesus' basic instruction on praying for God's will? Does he mean that the phrase describes as Hauck puts it, "One Thing"? Does Peterson not agree that in His teaching on prayer, Jesus distinguished the two different realities, or spheres, of "earth" and "heaven"?

For the sake of argument, let's assume that "earth" and "heaven" are "One Thing," one reality. Such a belief would make Jesus' teaching on prayer irrelevant. If above and below, heaven and earth, are "One Thing," then why should any disciple needlessly pray for the Father's will to be done "on earth as it is in heaven." If there be no distinction between earth and heaven, then one will would possess one world. As such, prayer would be reduced to a meditative exercise pursued to realize the interconnectedness of below and above, of earth and heaven, and this is the very intent of meditation and contemplation in New Age religion!

Third, adding such an occult phrase to God's Word is troublesome, if not downright alarming. Moses warned Israel, "You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2; See 4:5.). Ironically, this second Law (Deutero means "second") was given by God to Israel just as the nation was preparing to enter Canaan, a land filled with a magical religion devoted to occult arts and idolatrous practices.

So there you have it! Peterson includes a phrase in the Lord's Prayer (as above, so below) that nuances a connection to the forbidden world of the occult, a world which God forbade Israel to have contact with (Deuteronomy 18:9 ff.). All of us would do well to pay attention to Agur's prophecy in Proverbs: "Every word of God is tested; / He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. / Do not add to His words / Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar" (Proverbs 30:5-6).

About attempts to unify spiritual reality into a conglomerate-cosmic whole (as above, so below), we ask, "What would Jesus think (WWJT)?" John's Gospel provides clear indication about what Jesus thinks; and that is, cosmic reality is not composed of one monistic whole. By His claim not to be from "earth," but to be from "above," Jesus indicated that there is not one reality, but two: the world "above," the abode of God, the place He reveals to us as heaven; and the world "below," the abode of man, the place we know as earth. About Himself, Jesus announced, "He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all" (John 3:31). Again John records Jesus to have said to the Pharisees, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:23-24). In these statements Jesus declared that, "he and they emerge from two entirely antithetical realms."[10] Then as another commentator put it, "An abyss separates them from Him . . .."[11]

ABC. For reason of the abyss, we need birth from above through Christ. Twice Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3, 7). The words "born again" mean to be born from above. Obviously, the new birth, regeneration, does not come from below for, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh . . .." (John 3:6a). Salvation never comes from developing something within or below. Thus, we can see, to coin Kipling's phrase, that "above is above" and "below is below," and never the twain shall meet--except of course, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

As we are confronted with the plethora of teachings and systems of the New Age/New Spirituality, we will do well to obey Paul's injunction to the Colossians: "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" (Not in us!) "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:8-9, KJV).

FOOTNOTES
[1] Ronald S. Miller, Editor, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1992).
[2] James A. Herrick, The Making of the New Spirituality, The Eclipse of the Western Religious Tradition (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003) 338.
[3] Ibid.
[4] "Hermeticism," Wikipedia Another translation similarly reads, "That . . . which is Above is like that which is Below and that which is Below is like that which is Above, to accomplish the Miracle of Unity." See Christopher Warnock, Esq., "Hermes Trismegistus: Hermetic Philosophy, Astrology & Magic"
[5] Ibid.
[6] Miller, As Above, So Below quoted by Warren Smith, Deceived On Purpose, The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church (Magalia, California: Mountain Stream Press, 2004) 32.
[7] To believe that God is everything is pantheism. God is not the mosquito that bites me on a camping trip. Neither is God in everything, which is panentheism. God is not in the big landscape rock that decorates my neighbor's front yard. To believe that God is everything, or in everything, contradicts the biblical theology that God is individual, personal, and separate from His creation. Pantheism-panentheism is the worldview which lays at the root of idolatry (Compare Exodus 20:4-5a, Deuteronomy 4:15-19, and Romans 1:18-23).
[8] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002) 1337.
[9] "Basic Manual of Style," The Random House College Dictionary, Laurence Urdang, Editor In Chief (New York: Random House Inc., 1975) 1562.
[10] D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991) 342.
[11] Frederick Louis Godet, Commentary on the Gospel of John, Volume II (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1881) 98. Of the difference between Jesus and the religious Pharisees, Westcott also wrote: "He and they belonged essentially to two different regions; the spring of their life, the sphere of their thoughts, were separated from the spring and sphere of His by an infinite chasm." See B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950) 130.



"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;" (1 Timothy 4:1)