Thursday, July 17, 2008

God's Dream?

A KINGDOM BUILDING DREAM


TheCall DC - God Has A Dream
Forty years ago this year, Martin Luther King sounded a prophetic trumpet to the nation. Echoing the ancient cry uttered by Moses to the oppressive Pharaoh of Egypt, Martin Luther King and 250,000 Black Americans cried out “let my people go” in peaceful defiance of the oppressive edicts and Jim Crow Laws of morally eroded governmental leaders and a culture of systemic racism. Gathering at the mall in Washington D.C the sound was born of “I have a dream” and that same sound still resonates today. Today the sound is being carried across the pulpits of the pews of America, extending from the senatorial chambers of Washington D.C. to the movie industry of Hollywood. It is the sound of another great movement on the horizon, a prayer and justice movement crying out for God’s dreams to be fulfilled in a generation. 
[emphasis added]


Become a Mobilizer for TheCall DC, August 16, 2008
Join us on the National Mall in Washington DC on August 16, 2008 for a massive gathering of united generations desperate for revival and real change in our nation. More than an event, TheCall is a fast, not a festival. Come and be a part of the cultural reformation.

There are moments in history when a door for massive change opens. Great revolutions for good or evil occur in the vacuum created by these openings. It is in these moments that key men and women - sometimes entire generations - risk everything to become the hinge of history. That pivotal point determines which way the door will swing.



This Washington, D.C. Mall event described above is connected with the rise of patriotic Dominionism, described in the previous post. The organizers of this event have been working for several decades to create a youth movement that could fulfill their expectations for a “New Breed” and could function as a “Joel’s Army.” To recruit young people for their "bootcamps" and prayer "furnaces", these men have invoked patriotic fervor over the abortion issue especially, and morality generally.

This theme of “God’s Dream,” or some variation of the phrase, has increasingly become the metaphor of choice for the radical transformation of evangelical Christianity. Brian McLaren has used the term frequently, most recently in his book Everything Must Change, in which he explains it in terms of a new eschatology of “God’s dreams actually coming true down here” (p. 4) and “God’s dreams coming true for this earth” (p. 21) :

“Jesus’ message is not actually about escaping this troubled world for heaven’s blissful shores, as is popularly assumed, but instead is about God’s will being done on this troubled earth as it is in heaven. (p. 4) [link added]

Sadly, McLaren, along with many other neoevangelical leaders, is using Dr. Martin Luther King’s stirring speech as a metaphor for his plans for global transformation (Everything Must Change, page 146, e.g.). The most striking example can be found in the quotation at the top of this post. God's Dream is the theme of an upcoming pseudo-patriotic event scheduled in Washington, D.C. on the Mall sponsored by TheCall, an organization linked to Mike Bickle, Lou Engle and many other New Apostolic Reformation leaders, including many of the old “Kansas City Prophets.” But this is no fringe operation. TheCall and its personnel is interconnected with many mainstream evangelical organizations, including Campus Crusade for Christ.

To get a sense of the extraordinary nature of this upcoming “God’s Dream” event, check out “The Vision” posted at TheCall Institute, which is to “equip, disciple and commission an emerging generation of radical Nazirites to prepare the way of the Lord by embracing a lifestyle of prayer and fasting that is energized by intimacy with Jesus…. [A] new breed of young men and women….” [emphasis added]

A highly disturbing video posted at TheCall’s website describes the extreme nature of this youth movement, and states that “those who come will be marked forever and they will be history-makers and dreamers of God's dream.” Notice the young men and women in this brownish-greyish video have marks on their foreheads.

A similarly disturbing video is posted at The Luke 18 Project which is interconnected with TheCall. It states that 10,000 apostolic young men and women, by their radical lifestyle of prayer and fasting, and in conjunction with the fulfillment of a “dream of launching massive solemn assemblies of fasting and prayer” will “release justice over the earth” and start prayer cells (called “prayer FURNACES”) that “will transform cities, finish the task of the Great Commission and prepare a way for Jesus to return to the planet to establish his kingdom forever and ever....” The context for much of this activity is through food deprivation (fasting) in conjunction with a hypnotic-like fervor of mass prayer rallies "filled stadiums and arenas."

It is not quite certain what exactly “God’s Dream” means metaphorically, but it has always been linked to the idea of building the kingdom of God on Earth. There is a fascinating history of the usage of this term detailed in the Chapter 10 Update to Warren Smith’s online book Reinventing Jesus Christ.

God’s Dream?

Another of the many obvious Rick Warren links to Robert Schuller and the New Age/New Spirituality is through the Schuller concept of “God’s Dream.” On October 27, 2003 Rick Warren announced that the next weekend he would be introducing his P.E.A.C.E. Plan to “help change the world.” He used the term “God’s Dream” to describe this P.E.A.C.E. Plan. He called it “God’s Dream For You—And The World.” While the explicit term “God’s Dream” is not to be found anywhere in the Bible, it is a term that Robert Schuller has been using for over thirty years. In his book The Purpose-Driven Church, Rick Warren states that in 1974—six years before he started Saddleback Church at the age of twenty-five—he read Robert Schuller’s book, Your Church Has Real Possibilities. This Schuller book presented a young and impressionable Rick Warren with the Schuller concept of “God’s Dream” and how “God’s Dream” was inextricably linked to “purpose.” In his 1974 book, Schuller wrote about “God’s dream” for your life,” stating:

He has a dream for your life and your church. He will reveal His dream by causing you to desire what He wants.

Now pray the prayer of surrender…. Then ask the Holy Spirit to fill your mind with God’s dream for your life.

Big beautiful dreams will come….

…Listen to this dream, “For it is God at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose”….

The phrase “God’s Dream” was also particularly prevalent in Schuller’s 1982 book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation. This was the book that was so highly praised by [New Age leader] Neale Donald Walsch and his New Age “God,” and the book from which Rick Warren apparently drew so much unattributed material for his book The Purpose-Driven Life. In this book Schuller wrote:

When God’s dream is accepted, we must be prepared to pay a high price. The dream that comes from God calls us to fulfill his will by taking an active part in his kingdom.

I am not fully forgiven until I allow God to write his new dream for my life on the blackboard of my mind…. God has a great plan to redeem society. He needs me and wants to use me.

“God’s forgiving grace is incomplete until he gives me—and I accept—a new kingdom-building dream and opportunity.”

Tremendous human energy is needed to walk God’s walk, work God’s work, fulfill God’s will, and complete his dream for our self-esteem.

Robert Schuller was calling for a “kingdom building dream”—a “New Reformation”—to redeem the world. He called it “God’s Dream to “redeem society.” Twenty years later Rick Warren was calling for a kingdom building dream—a “New Reformation”—to “change the world.” He called it his P.E.A.C.E. Plan and described it as “God’s Dream For You—And The World.” I would later discover that Rick Warren’s use of the term “God’s Dream” and his accompanying affirmation that it is “going to happen” could be found in Robert Schuller’s 1978 book Discover Your Possibilities. Schuller had written:

Pray, seek God’s guidance and what’s going to happen? You’ll get a dream to pursue…. Find a dream. Once you’ve got that dream and you know it’s God’s dream for your life, then be daring. Dare to say it. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Announce to the whole world that it’s going to happen.
[emphasis added]

In Rick Warren’s October 27, 2003 e-mail announcing his P.E.A.C.E. Plan and entitled “God’s Dream For You—And The World,” he wrote:


THIS WEEKEND, I’ll begin a series of five messages on
God’s dream to use you globally—to literally use YOU to change the world! I’ll unveil our Global P.E.A.C.E. plan, and how God has uniquely prepared you for this moment of destiny….

The Global Peace Plan
IS GOING TO HAPPEN….[bold added]


This use of “God’s Dream” and its direct connection to Robert Schuller is yet one more issue that has never been honestly addressed by Saddleback apologists. When I pointed out [in my book
Deceived on Purpose] that the concept of “God’s Dream” was a Schuller concept, and it could not be found in the Bible, Saddleback representative Gilbert Thurston [in defending Rick Warren’s use of the term “God’s Dream"] focused only on the single word “dream”—ignoring the issue of “God’s Dream” and distorting what I really said—he made it look like I was saying the word “dream” could not be found in the Bible. Here’s what he wrote:

As for the word dream, Mr. Smith is technically correct when he says that every time the word dream is used in the Bible it’s referring to sleeping dreams or waking visions. However, he is incorrect when he tries to imply that the kind of dreams that Rick Warren, Bruce Wilkinson or even Robert Schuller, for that matter, talk about are not found in the Bible.

Saddleback apologist Richard Abanes even took it a step further. Carefully avoiding any mention of the term “God’s Dream,” and Rick Warren’s specific use of the term “God’s Dream” in describing his “Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan,” Abanes—like Gilbert Thurston—also limited his discussion to the single word “dream.” He then tried to suggest that Rick Warren’s language was patterned after Martin Luther King—not Robert Schuller. He wrote:

Smith plays the same word game with “dream”—a term used by both Rick Warren and Robert Schuller (Smith p. 178). Warren has talked about his dream for the P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Schuller has often used the word dream in about his teachings regarding church leadership, church growth, and New Age concepts. But that does NOT mean the two men are using the word in the same way.

In fact, Warren’s use of the word “dream” dates all the way back to his first sermon at Saddleback in 1980. He listed several dreams he had for his church. And it is more reminiscent of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C. than anything Schuller has ever said/written.

But who is the one playing word games? Abanes never addressed Rick Warren’s specific use of the Schuller metaphor “God’s Dream” and how he uses it to characterize his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. Like Thurston, Abanes tried to contain the discussion to the more generic and easily defensible term “dream.” But he still missed the point. He stated that Rick Warren’s use of the term “dream” in his first Saddleback sermon in 1980 was “more reminiscent” of Martin Luther King than Robert Schuller. What he was conveniently overlooking was the fact that in 1980 Rick Warren had just graduated from The Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership where—according to Kay Warren—he had been “profoundly influenced” by Schuller. Rick Warren himself stated that six years prior to starting Saddleback he had read Robert Schuller’s book Your Church has Real Possibilities. One can only wonder what else went through nineteen year-old Rick Warren’s mind when, two pages after Schuller’s multiple references to “God’s dream,” Schuller wrote:

You’ve got to believe it before you see it! So believe you can build a Twenty-First Century church now! You can be the founder and the leader of such a great new inspirational center. You can make your church a great church for Jesus Christ.

Some reader of this book will build the greatest church ever built in America….


Controversial Emergent Church leader Brian McLaren and Prayer of Jabez author Bruce Wilkinson—along with Rick Warren and many others—are definitely helping to popularize the Schuller concept of “God’s Dream.” They are obviously attempting to make this Schuller concept part of the new transformational language of the church. McLaren recommends that metaphors be used to introduce the world to Jesus. McLaren even proposes a new “language of the Kingdom.” In his 2006 book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything, McLaren states that the emerging twenty-first century church needs a new user-friendly language to effectively communicate with the world about Jesus. With no mention of Schuller—or Rick Warren for that matter—the very first metaphor McLaren suggests is the concept of “God’s Dream.” Not surprisingly, like Abanes, he also tries to link this Schuller concept to Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement and King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. McLaren explains:

For all these reasons, “the dream of God” strikes me as a beautiful way to translate the message of the kingdom of God for hearers today. It is, of course, the language evoked by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. His dream was God’s dream, and that accounted for its amazing power.


But this descriptive linking of “God’s Dream” with Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement is the same thing that New Age leaders were doing as they linked their PEACE PLAN—their “civil rights movement for the soul”—to Martin Luther King and King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Curiously, when I did an Internet search I could find no instance of Martin Luther King ever using the specific term “God’s Dream.” By using the Schuller concept of “God’s Dream,” while invoking Martin Luther King and his civil rights movement, church leaders were now falling—even more directly—into the New Age spiritual trap.

With an ever-evolving, conveniently overlapping, new transformational language, Rick Warren’s Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan was in the process of semantically merging with the New Age PEACE PLAN.
Was the Schuller concept of “God’s Dream” going to be the “pied piper” rallying cry for a seemingly wonderful PEACE PLAN that would deceptively capture the world’s imagination? It was no wonder, and no accident, that Neale Donald Walsch and his “God” described Robert Schuller as an “extraordinary” Christian minister. And how interesting that Saddleback apologists were doing everything in their power to try to distance Rick Warren from Robert Schuller—the very man who so obviously inspired Rick Warren’s life and ministry and his whole present-day Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan.


The Truth:

"Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:32)


[This excerpt from Reinventing Jesus Christ by Warren Smith used by permission. It was altered slightly for blog use. Full citations can be found in the Chapter 10 Update posted at www.reinventingjesuschrist.com. Additional material on "God's Dream" can be found in Chapter 11 of Warren Smith's book Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church.]