Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Obama at Saddleback: The New Politics

Major players in the [Democratic] party — including Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean — have held and attended conferences in the faith community and met with bishops and religious leaders including Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, and Bishop T.D. Jakes, who runs a popular megachurch in Texas. [emphasis added]
["Democrats attempt to close the faith-gap with the GOP," July 12, 2006, by A.B. Stoddard]

Rick Warren was apparently quite unhappy with last week's press, some details of which are recorded in the previous Herescope post, about his recent foray into Syria as an American pastoral diplomat. For the first time he responded to criticism directly by issuing a statement to his Saddleback Family entitled MESSAGE THIS WEEKEND! that put forward the best "spin" on his recent controversial activities.

Rebutting the accuracy of Warren's statements was WorldNetDaily: "Rick Warren on Syria: 'A moderate country,' 11/26/06, and Sandy Simpson of Deception in the Church, "Rick Warren 'Explains' Himself," 11/25/06.

In Warren's letter defending of his recent activities, he denied several times that he was engaged in politics:

1. "But my visit [to Syria] was not political,…"

2. "Left or Right is irrelevant to me. I'm not a politician."

3. "Of course, you friends know my heart, my motivation, and my 26 year track record. What matters to me is not pleasure...possessions...prestige...politics...power.. or popularity. I couldn't care less about these things." [emphases added]

Perhaps Warren is naive about the political nature of an American evangelical leader of his stature hanging out with the internationalist big boys. Or perhaps he is being disingenuous. But in his letter to the Saddleback family he devoted an entire paragraph to outline some of his recent activities, which included:

"No matter where I've been invited to speak- to Congress, to the Davos World Economic Forum, at Harvard and Oxford and Cambridge, to the United Nations. to the Foreign Affairs Council…."

Obviously, these are politically-tinged events of the international variety. And this list is incomplete. An October 2005 Fortune magazine [ http://tinyurl.com/y84cgv] article by Marc Gunther, entitled "POWER PASTOR: Will Success Spoil Rick Warren - America's new superstar pastor wants to rebrand evangelical Christianity. He's got the management genius to do it. Here's where he's leading his troops," detailed a few of his other political-sounding endeavors, including:

"…[T]he Aspen Ideas Festival, the Young Presidents Organization, a Pew Foundation forum for religion writers, and the University of Judaism.… He has gone before the Council on Foreign Relations to pitch his newest idea: a breathtakingly ambitious project to mobilize American Christians to fight poverty, illiteracy, and AIDS in Africa."

Again, these are not all apolitical organizations.

Rick Warren took particular umbrage, in his explanatory letter to the "Saddleback Family," to an apparent "blogpost" about his invitation to potential Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to speak at his AIDS Conference this week. Warren wrote:

"Another blogger claimed I've invited Barack Obama to preach in my pulpit to the Saddleback congregation. Of course that is untrue. I'd never invite ANY politician to speak from the pulpit to our congregation. Never. …"

"Next week, the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church will be held on the Saddleback campus. It is not a church service, but an international summit for pastors and world leaders. Leaders from churches, denominations, health, NGOs, Christian organizations, governments, businesses, and entertainment will meet together to discuss how they can work with churches to end AIDS. Participants will hear messages from Laura Bush, Sen. Bill Frist, Sen. Sam Brownback, Bill Gates, Bono, the doctor who discovered AIDS transmission heterosexually, Franklin Graham, the President of World Vision, the President of World Relief, the President of Compassion, and about 30 other speakers who are concerned about AIDS. Sen. Obama is one speaker at a conference which includes Republicans and Democrats, Christians and non-Christians, pastors, business leaders, and all kinds of races from around the world. …" [emphasis added]

Well, isn't this global AIDS event political? Perhaps Barack Obama isn't technically "preaching" on a Sunday morning service behind Rick Warren's ministerial pulpit, but he certainly has been invited -- along with several other notable politicians -- to speak at the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church that will be held on the Saddleback campus this week. And the entire Global AIDS agenda, as has been documented elsewhere on this blog, represents a massive intermeddling of State, Church, non-profit organizations, mission groups, non-governmental agencies, the United Nations, multi-national corporations, foundations, and yes -- even political groups and parties.

And despite Warren's protests that he does not engage in politics, he has been actively working in the political realm to forge new political ties for evangelicals with the Democratic Party. For example, a news account from July 2006 entitled "Democrats attempt to close the faith-gap with the GOP" by A. B. Stoddard, describes Rick Warren's involvement with House Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a "minister’s son, handpicked by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lead a new Faith Working Group as part of the party’s larger undertaking on values issues." Nancy Pelosi is now the Democratic Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. The article explained:

"Major players in the party — including Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean — have held and attended conferences in the faith community and met with bishops and religious leaders including Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, and Bishop T.D. Jakes, who runs a popular megachurch in Texas." [emphasis added]

The article notes that these meetings were closed:

"The DNC’s interfaith program, known as Faith in Action, has employed staffers to reach out to the evangelical, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish faithful. The visits and conversations have been closed to press to foster candid, open discussions." [emphasis added]

The purpose of such meetings? You guessed it! Politics!

"Democrats are hoping the groundwork they are laying will broaden the values debate and ultimately help them capture the new voters necessary to reclaim majorities nationwide and win the White House in 2008."

"Last month, when Democrats dominated a bipartisan event joining lawmakers, clergy and lay leaders to address poverty, at which Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) received national press for a rousing speech…." [emphasis added]

(For more information on the Democratic Party's Faith Working Group see, for example, http://tinyurl.com/y54scm and http://tinyurl.com/y4xfmu.)

One astonishing feature of Rick Warren's foray into Democratic Party politics this past year was the inclusion of his public relations manager, A. Larry Ross, mentioned in the same July news account:

"In searching for that winning formula, A. Larry Ross, a public-relations executive representing the top Christian leaders in the country who accompanied Warren on his visit with Senate Democrats in February, offered up a public-relations adage.

"'The largest number of people focused on the smallest point of agreement gives you your greatest impact,' he said."

Pardon our incredulity over his proclaimed innocence in politics, but why would Rick Warren -- who tries to be everybody's image of the casual-pastor-next-door -- need to take his hired PR guy into secret meetings with him? Unless, of course, he anticipated problems with his "image" if this type of information about his political activities ever came out in the public.

There are indeed "image" problems that arise from associating himself with political leaders like Barack Obama. The more controversial questions were raised on November 17th by WorldNetDaily in an news article entitled "Why is Obama's evil in Rick Warren's pulpit?"

"Rick Warren, the best selling author of 'The Purpose Driven Life' and senior teaching pastor at Saddleback Church in California, has invited Sen. Barack Obama to speak to the congregation of the faithful on Dec. 1, 2006. In doing so, he has joined himself with one of the smoothest politicians of our times, and also one whose wickedness in worldview contradicts nearly every tenet of the Christian faith that Warren professes.

It isn't just Barack Obama who is having "conversations" with Rick Warren. The list of Democratic leaders includes Hilary Clinton, another potential candidate for president. An 11/26/06 article in The Sunday Times [http://tinyurl.com/y9o8o6], "Obama lifted by hand of God," reveals that:

"Obama is scarcely the first Democrat to reach out to conservative Republicans: Senator Hillary Clinton, his main rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has had her own contacts with Warren and has won widespread praise in Washington for her collaborative efforts with rightwingers on Capitol Hill. She has also carefully tailored her pronouncements on sensitive issues such as abortion to avoid confrontation with the religious right."

This article notes the very important political fact that:

"At first glance Warren and Obama appear the unlikeliest of allies — the conservative white preacher and the liberal black Democrat — yet aides to both confirmed last week that they have formed an intriguing friendship that may prove a key element in the next presidential campaign." [emphasis added]

It isn't just Rick Warren who is engaging in a new form of politics. A recent article in Christian Century (11/16/06) [http://tinyurl.com/wque2] entitled "Influential dozen seek to help Democrats bridge 'God gap'" indicates that other noted evangelical leaders are being courted by Democrat Party leaders:

"…Democrats are seeking—and getting—regular meetings with megachurch pastors such as T. D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren." [emphasis added]

There seems to be more at issue here than Rick Warren and other evangelical leaders simply playing footsie with the Democrats in the back rooms. This whole affair is being played out globally with some serious consequences.

Today's WorldNetDaily news article [http://tinyurl.com/yxqfo6], "Rick Warren called 'enabler and defender' of evil: Megapastor's appearance in Syrian propaganda triggers criticism," is another serious look at the fallout from the Syria escapade. The article also calls attention to the fact that Rick Warren has experienced major public relations difficulties. Due to his religion? NO! It isn't a presentation of the Gospel message that is causing Warren such heated controversy. It is his engagement with global politics! And to his rescue is -- again -- A. Larry Ross, his personal P.R. escort:

"Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church and the author of the best-selling 'The Purpose-Driven Life,' told WND when the comment first was reported that he had been misquoted, and further, he wasn't a diplomat and probably wasn't fully prepared for a situation in which he was used for propaganda.

"But a video posted on YouTube showed Warren making the statement, and when WND linked to it, it suddenly disappeared.

Larry Ross, who acts as a spokesman for the church, told WND the video showing Warren making the statement was removed because Warren had heard there were 'reports' about his Syrian visit, but not necessarily the reports from WND.

"The Warren YouTube postings had been ongoing as kind of a travelogue to his congregation, Ross said. But when Warren arrived in Rwanda from Damascus and found out there were concerns about his activities in Syria, he suggested that no video from Syria be posted. 'Let's not post one for Syria until we see where we're at,' Warren had said, according to Ross.

But it already had been put up, so it was pulled down, only a few hours after it was put up, Ross said. 'It was in the context of reports that they'd heard about, not specifically yours (WND's),' he said. 'It was obviously with the understanding or the awareness that there were some reports about the trip to Syria.'

"But before it was removed, Bruce Delay, a talk-show host at KFAQ 1170 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, downloaded the audio portion of Warren's comments,…."

This public relations campaign appears to be headed the wrong direction. For now, it seems strange -- again -- that Rick Warren needs to conduct his affairs so secretively. The Scriptures tell us that the Gospel is not to be hidden. However, in politics many things are hidden and secretive.

Which raises another interesting question. Why is there a need for Rick Warren to meet with pastors in the secretive manner he describes in a recent letter to Ministry Toolbox Subscribers?

"I’m writing to see if you could come to Saddleback for three days at the end of November. Two of those days will be the Global Summit on AIDS and the Church (Nov. 30-Dec.1), but the first day will be a private Conversation about Tomorrow with Senior Pastors (Nov. 29). This will be a by-invitation-only, off-the-record, not-open-to-the-public full day of conversation with senior pastors. I’d like for you to join us.

"Conversation about Tomorrow for Senior Pastors will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for senior pastors across America to think deeply together about the direction of our ministries, about personal renewal, church renewal, and cultural renewal in the 21st century. We’ll consider how to network more effectively, and I’ll share some things I’ve been quietly working on. In my heart, I know this day with senior pastors will be history making, a beginning point of the 21st century. There’s no cost to attend the Conversation About Tomorrow for Senior Pastors, but you’ll need an invitation ticket. If you can attend, I will send you some reading material in advance that I want you to be thinking about." [emphasis added]

Once again, the Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan is being conducted in a disturbing manner that is less than open and above reproach.

The Truth:

"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:" (2 Corinthians 4:1-3)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Where Rick Warren's Disciples Are

Some Possible Answers to Joseph Farah's Question

If you haven't been following the series of events unfolding on WorldNetDaily go over to these articles and read up on what Rick Warren has been doing. He took a trip to Syria on a global "P.E.A.C.E." mission and got caught in the act of finding common ground. Here are the stories…


In an article posted at WorldNetDaily today (11/21/06) entitled "Rick Warren disciples: Where are you?" Joseph Farah expressed his perplexion and dismay about the overwhelming silence:

"Ever since I first pointed out the way he betrayed the persecuted church and our Jewish brothers and sisters living in captivity in the totalitarian police state of Syria, I have been expecting to get blasted.

"I thought for sure I would hear from these millions of well-educated, well-informed, biblically astute purpose-driven disciples.

"It has been six days. God created the whole universe in that amount of time. And, so far, I haven't heard one cogent argument, apologia or rationalization for Warren's actions by any of his flock.

"I'm told he's got one of the best PR machines money can buy. He sure is not getting his money's worth. "

Mr. Farah, welcome to the new world of purpose-driven mania. Things have been changing in the evangelical subculture since the advent of purpose-driven and now it is finally becoming evident to the rest of the world.

But will anybody care about these changes? That is indeed a scary question.

Only a handful of renegade discernment ministries with newsletters, Internet websites and blogs like this one -- and only a remnant of evangelical writers like Warren Smith, James Sundquist and Tamara Hartzell -- have dared to delve into this man's grandiose global schemes.

Nearly a year ago (12/19/05) Rick Warren wrote an article for SBCBaptistPress entitled: "FIRST-PERSON: The church -- the greatest force on earth" in which he said, "The Church will last for eternity, and because it is God's instrument for ministry here on earth, it is truly the greatest force on the face of the planet."

A quick study of the various uses of the term "force" leads one to the conclusion that in this article Warren meant it as "a group having a certain influence, power, etc. (a force for good)" or "any group of people organized for some activity (a sales force, a police force)" (Webster's). Warren goes on to detail eight ways that the Church can be this "force" for good in the world. His ideas are dominionist, in that he explained that there was already a pre-determined, man-centered, positive earthly outcome:

"6. The Church provides the strongest authorization.
God authorized the Church to take on global giants, such as spiritual lostness, egocentric leadership, poverty, disease and ignorance. With God's authorization, the outcome is guaranteed to be successful."

Commenting on this article, Paul Proctor wrote a few days later:

"Funny, I thought God's Holy Spirit was the Greatest Force on Earth. Didn't know that it was really The Bride of Christ. This is the group version of Robert Schuller's self-esteem gospel at work. As you read Warren's article, notice how he credits the church's strengths, qualifications and attributes in a pride-filled motivational essay. ("largest, widest, longest, fastest, highest, strongest, simplest") rather than Glorifying God, His Word, His Power and His strength through the weaknesses of humble, repentant and obedient men."

Elsewhere on this Herescope blog there are detailed and documented explanations of Rick Warren's dominionist beliefs, his influences and associations that propel him forward with a humongous and pompous plan to rid the planet of these "global giants" in the name of Christ. Simply search the blog (left hand corner search feature) on "Rick Warren dominionism" to grasp the full scope of this issue.

There is a nasty side to Dominionism and Joseph Farah just had a head-on collision with it. Like many believers he has been enamored of Dominionism Lite. Farah has been touting James Rutz for the past several years as someone who influenced his own life by unusual miracles. Rutz' dominionism may seem soft-sell and mystical, but dig deeply into the people, groups and ideas represented on his website, and you'll run into the darker side of dominionism.

You can't have it one way or the other with dominionism. Buy one get one free. You can't bring about a return to Genesis 1 paradise conditions on earth through some mystical Megashift without Rick Warren's 2nd Reformation dominionist shoe leather. The two go hand-in-hand. It is the same plan. Two sides of the same coin. This new dominionist doctrine about the transformation of the planet is part and parcel of the "New Apostolic Reformation" -- and has been interconnected for decades through personnel, agencies, and agendas. In fact, Rutz explains some of these elaborate interconnections at his website.

Purpose-driven critic Paul Proctor, in his NewsWithViews column in May 2005, "Megashift? More 'Christian Happy-Talk,'" observed:

"If you go to the Megashift.com web site you’ll see much of the same transformational lingo you find at other CGM sites complete with pot loads of pitchman promises and psycho-centric silliness that made Rick Warren and Bill Hybels what they are today. Like Warren and his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan, (a Christianized and regurgitated replica of The Peace Corp.) 'Megashift' currently focuses their falderal on the rather hard-to-verify continent of Africa where it is suggested by those promoting it, a 'new reformation' is being birthed and validated by miracles galore!"

But Farah wants to know why there is silence. Maybe because of Dominionism Lite. Dominionism Lite lulls people into thinking that they are doing good deeds when they are really working to create a new world order on planet Earth. Dominionism Lite dulls the senses. Every bad deed can be justified by "whatever it takes" (Rick Warren's slogan) to build the kingdom of God on Earth.

But Dominionism Dark bites. In fact, it just bit hard where it hurts! Rick Warren went to Syria for "P.E.A.C.E." and he responded defensively when challenged about it. And, worse, there was a cold, stony silence on the part of the purpose-driven church fans. Why is that, Farah pondered?

Perhaps it could be the mind-numbed robotic purpose-driven training, canned sermons and formulaic mantras that co-exist with the various 40-days of indoctrination. Or, could it be that Farah got it wrong when he wrote: "I'm told he's got one of the best PR machines money can buy. He sure is not getting his money's worth"? Isn't it possible that Rick Warren is such a good PR guy -- using all of the latest psycho-social techniques available to the advertising industry -- that all he has to do is lift his little finger and everyone salivates like trained pigeons in lockstep? Or, is the answer more pragmatic -- such as when everyone signs their church purpose-driven covenants? They all promise not to speak against the leadership. So do they all transform into passive little purpose-driven sheep?

Remarking on Farah's strange infatuation with James Rutz's deceptively virulent form of dominionism several years ago, Paul Proctor proposed a possible spiritual answer to Farah's own question today:

"You see, the mere Word of God just doesn’t do it for us anymore. We need something to stimulate our senses, don’t we? Like the faithless Pharisees of old, we require a little magic show or two before we’ll throw in with somebody claiming to be the Messiah; and even THEN, it’s necessary that we LIKE what He has to say about us in front of our followers; so, we better have some flagrant flattery with that hocus-pocus, just to be on the safe side and protect our sacred business interests. Yeah, the antichrist is going to have a field day with these folks when he brings his bag of tricks onto the world stage."

Dominionism isn't nice. Dominionism isn't pretty. Oh, yes, Dominionism Lite wears the veneer of "helping the poor" and "healing the sick" -- even restoring paradise conditions on earth -- but it has another more insidious agenda -- and that is… DOMINION.

Earlier generations of the church were also fooled by this wolf in sheep's clothing. One can read about it in Dr. Martin Erdmann's ground-breaking book entitled Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches' Contribution to Marshall Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945. Elsewhere on this blog (search for "Martin Erdmann") you can read extensive quotes from this book.

Why is this relevant to today's post? And how can this book help answer Farah's question? Because Dr. Erdmann's book happens to be one of the most scholarly, credible and highly-documented history of the CFR. The CFR purposefully crafted the dominionist theological mandate to "build the kingdom of God on earth." As Joseph Farah wrote the other day, Rick Warren has admitted to being a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Paul Proctor's conclusion, in his critical article about Rutz's Megashift, might help answer Farah's question about why the silence. But it may trouble him further:

"The bottom line is this: Megashift.com is just more horizontally-focused, earth-centered, group-guided, psychology-based, therapeutically-managed, globalist gobbledygook, covered with a thick white sugary Christian glaze, forwarding the same old anti-traditional, amillennial, dominionist worldview that says WE are going to change this world and make it a better place for a largely unnamed 'Christ' to return to and reign over someday.

"The only difference I can see between the old CGM and the new, is that this upgraded version transitions us beyond the materialistic mega-church fad that, for the last decade or so, has successfully seduced, sidetracked and sucked the membership, faith and resources out of almost all of the nation’s small and God-fearing fellowships and taken the postmodern party from debt-ridden spiritual supercenters for the scripturally challenged, bought with borrowed money from the banks of 'Mystery Babylon,'" and moved it into our own neighborhoods and homes for further dialectical processing and programming; thereby creating more sustainable communities of groupthink and global values for the New World Order."

One can't play footsie with Dominionism Lite without eventually getting burned by Dominionism Dark and Powerful. Historically, dominionism in the church always works that way. It starts out to create a heavenly utopia and ends up creating a hellish earth. The powerful always trod on the weak. One group always seeks to exercise Dominionism over another group. Human nature doesn't change, and we can't reverse the effects of the Fall in Genesis, despite the wacky esoteric doctrines of James Rutz.


"Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" (Proverbs 6:27)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Erwin McManus: The New Face of Southern Baptist

In order to understand Erwin McManus one must visit some of the many webpages associated with him and his MOSAIC church and ministry. What follows is a whirlwind tour of the various websites where one can learn more about this Southern Baptist pastor. He isn't just "doing church." This is a disturbing look into the new face of what used to be a fundamentalist denomination.

The new face of fundamentalism looks Jungian, mystical, futuristic and dominionist. Leaving behind the biblical doctrine of separation, it goes far beyond the neoevangelicals who merely accommodated themselves to the culture. This church of the future seeks to actually change the culture. But not by Scriptures. By metaphors, myths, images and activating the "divine potential of every human being." (See previous two posts.)

NOTE: Each of these webpages below is interlinked with other webpages, but one often cannot get to things directly and openly. Follow the links from one page to another to unravel this man's beliefs, activities, and associations. This is just a few highlights. To really grasp the implications of this, visit these pages and see the incredible graphic images, and follow the links yourself.

Today's whirlwind tour of Erwin McManus reminds us of the game "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" We challenge the tourista to find anything more than a veiled or token reference to Jesus Christ or His Gospel of salvation in these webpages.

"Where In the World is Jesus Christ?"

To begin, look at www.alexmcmanus.org and notice the links, graphics and language. To understand Erwin McManus, one must follow the activities of his brother Alex McManus. The two men are inextricably linked in partnerships on many levels, and this will become evident in today's post.

"Alex served on the Leadershp team of MOSAIC Los Angeles from 1998 through 2004. He was a key leader behind ORIGINS, the Mosaic Leadership Experience, and from 2002 through 2006 grew the conference from a small pilot event to an experience of International reknown and status. During this same time, Alex helped create the Mosaic Alliance and served as the Global Liason from 2002 through 2006. In October 2004, Alex launched the International Mentoring Network, a custom made mentoring process with dense relational components, to discover, develop and deploy leaders. "

International Mentoring Network
"The International Mentoring Network (IMN) is a custom-made mentoring process and peer network. The Mentoring Process is designed to both offer a full-bodied foretaste of mission and ministry in the 21st century and to create ongoing conversation and partnership in mission and ministry.

"In order to do this, The IMN expoits to full advantage both the cyber world and the sphere of concrete relationships. Through the creation of an
online university, and online performance venue, a network of blogs and even a cyber-city, the IMN is on the forefront of innovation in the world of technology and mission. On the concrete side, the IMN currently operates out of two centers, Los Angeles and Orlando with plans to expand to Montreal, Seattle/Vancouver, the UK and Europe within the next two to three years. As an added value, the IMN has sponsored annual regional “Makers of Fire” events and is now preparing a new National Conference, HUMANA 2.0 –the fight for humanity begins here . The IMN FACULTY will offer, throughout the six-month process, a full array of ingredients necessary for
*guiding people through life change
*creating an apostolic ethos
*creatively engaging people and culture"

New Conference in Orlando, Fl
"ErwinMcManus (Mosaic), DavidArcos (Mosaic) will join me (AlexMcManus) and many others in Orlando, Florida this February for a new conference created by the International Mentoring Network. Check out the details for HUMANA 2.0 at http://fight4humanity.com. Register before November 15 and enjoy an early adapter discount."

"This February 7-8 in Orlando, Florida, the fight for humanity begins again. Join ErwinMcManus, DavidArcos, GerardoMarti, AlexMcManus and others for a convergence of missional leaders. Register before November 15 and save with an early adopter discount."

"An invitation from Alex McManus…
"For the last two years, the International Mentoring Network has worked intimately with
ORIGINS, the Mosaic Leadership Experience. Mosaic is counted as one of the most unique communities of faith in the world and Origins is, in my opinion, the finest missional leadership development experience in the west.
"This year the IMN is multiplying the learning and networking opportunities by also sponsoring HUMANA 2.0 in Orlando, Florida on February 7-8, 2007.

"If Origins is about all things Mosaic, HUMANA 2.0 is about all things future…as well as multiple models for mission. Our goal will be to provide future-oriented leaders a venue in which to examine diverse, 21st century applications and models of ministry and mission. As we consider Mosaic very much a part of that future, we wish to provide for you opportunities to discuss what it is that makes Mosaic tick. We will also seek to put on the table other emerging forms of mission and ministry: The simple or organic church, entrepreneurial kingdom enterprises, emerging churches, and the cutting edge, cyber-city called voxtropolis."

"What is ETHOS NY 2006?
"A leadership development experiment designed as an opportunity to dialogue with cultural shapers and innovators from Los Angeles, New York, and around the world on topics ranging from leadership, culture, creativity, innovation and the future of the Church.

“…it is more important to change what people care about than to change what they believe! You can believe without caring, but you can’t care without believing.”
- Erwin Raphael McManusTaken from An Unstoppable Force

"ETHOS (n.) The fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, and practices of a group or society.

"ETHOS is what happens when many individuals make autonomous choices that create a unified movement. ETHOS moves us when nothing else will and like nothing else will. ETHOS can be described as a tribal emotion. Like emotions fire us up, ETHOS is the tribal fire. ETHOS is the fuel of our caring and the fire of our passions. Join us in New York for this unique and transformational experience that will ignite and fuel your passion for the movement of Christ around the world!"

"yelo is an Awaken event that focuses on unleashing your creativity, elevating your influence, challenging your character, and maximizing your leadership potential.

"The yelo team experiences first hand the reward of living in a strength-based diverse community. Using the metaphor of a mosaic, we bring our unique and substantial pieces together for a common purpose: to unleash creativity and build community in your organization. Inspired by an ardent and sincere belief in what we offer, we are committed to serving you and your organization.
"All of us have dreams hibernating inside of us, but we often find it difficult to make them come alive. The quest to live out our dreams begins by unleashing our creative spirit and coming face to face with the uniqueness of our potential. Along the way in life, we discover the importance of character in this journey and are confronted with the primal essence of who we are.

"yelo experiences are offered in Los Angeles three times a year and are open to anyone."


"Awaken Leadership… What is ETHOS NY 2006?
A leadership development experiment designed as an opportunity to dialogue with cultural shapers and innovators from Los Angeles, New York, and around the world on topics ranging from leadership, culture, creativity, innovation and the future of the Church. To learn more about ETHOS, go to our ETHOS page.

"Awakening the Human Spirit
"We all have dreams, passions, and talents. But why do some of us realize our uniqueness and advance forward with maximum impact, while others watch timidly from a distance and wonder why their life isn’t going the direction they hoped it would? All of us have dreams hibernating inside of us, but we often find it difficult to make them come alive. The quest to live out your dreams begins by unleashing your creative spirit and coming face to face with the uniqueness of your potential as a human being. Along the way in life, we discover the importance of character in this journey and are confronted with the primal essence of who we are. (yelo) is an Awaken event that focuses on unleashing your creativity, elevating your influence, challenging your character, and maximizing your leadership potential. Awaken is an organization that can make these ideas a reality in your life.

"yelo is a mobile event, i.e., we bring yelo to your city, and your context."


"Erwin is the catalyst behind Awaken, a collaboration of dreamers committed to creating environments that expand imagination and unleash creativity. Convinced that the world is changed by dreamers and visionaries, Awaken serves the purpose of history by maximizing the divine potential in every human being."


ERWINMCMANUS– author and lead pastor of MOSAIC Los Angeles
GERARDOMARTI– author (A Mosaic of Believers) and professor of sociology
DAVIDARCOS– writer and performing artist, director of the Urban Poets
ALEXMCMANUS– founder of the International Mentoring Network & creator of VOXTROPOLIS.COM


GENERAL SESSIONS (subject to change)
- The Mosaic Future
- The PostHuman Future
- The CyberFuture
- An Organic Future

To be continued, Lord willing…

The Truth:

"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." (Colossians 2:8)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

How to Create an Emergent Movement

"Erwin McManus is unusually qualified to write this book. I first knew him as we pastored churches about a mile apart in the shadow of downtown Dallas. For years he has been a trusted friend and mentor in new ways of understanding God, the church, and spiritual maturity. He is now the pastor of a vibrant church community that is on an authentic journey to wholeness…. Mosaic is… in a rocket ride of transition….
"At Leadership Network, we spend our days looking for innovative, God-empowered churches. Mosaic is a pioneer among pioneers. We have sent many church leaders to Mosaic to see the future firsthand."
--Brad Smith of Leadership Network's Foreword to An Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus

"This book models what a postmodern, purpose-driven church can look like. Every church is called to fulfill five eternal purposes that Jesus gave in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. These purposes never change. But the styles and methods we use to fulfill these purposes MUST change with every new generation and target. Mosaic uses five elemental metaphors to represent the New Testament purposes…."
--Rick Warren's Foreword to An Unstopppable Force by Erwin McManus

The previous post raised questions about the five elements from pagan spirituality that Erwin McManus has introduced to the evangelical world. How could such a thing happen?

Well, to answer that question we have to go back to the beginning. Have you ever wondered how provocative emerging leaders like McManus got their start? Let's suggest an imaginative scenario:

How to start an emergent movement:

1. Identify, select and "mentor" a core group of young men and/or hip-acting older men.

2. Train them in the art of change management.

3. Equip them with the latest marketing skills.

4. Educate them in the subtleties of communication strategies.

5. Inculcate in them an overarching worldview that incorporates new vistas, pushing the theological envelope outside the parameters of traditional evangelicalism.

6. Send out these core leaders in designated directions, like arrows shot into the culture, with a mandate to:
a) start a church or overhaul an existing church,
b) choose a theological paradigm that fits their lifestyle, temperament, passion, and background,
c) focus on their unique specialty where they are adept at pushing boundaries to new extremes,
d) publish a book -- with plenty of financial backing, key endorsements and promotional pizazz -- that introduces their unique new concept, practice or doctrine,
e) go out on the speaker's circuit as the designated "expert," and
f) never miss an opportunity to promote their particular brand name agenda through various high-tech means.

7. Train each leader to focus on his own market share while staying on course with the main plan for transformation.

8. Diversify by ensuring that some core leaders appear to be more mainstream while others are working on the fringes of the movement.

9. Carefully groom the core leaders in the arts of dialectics so that at any given time some will appear to be disagreeing with others on nitpicky or doctrinal topics, while moving forward with the overall agenda.

10. Teach the leaders to use dialogue ("conversation") as a massive-scale focus group so that the overall thrust for church transformation can be tweaked as it "evolves" and "emerges."

11. Assist them in "replicating their DNA" by creating down-line networked systems of transitioning churches that follow their particular rendition of the overall model.

12. Provide them the technical assistance to customize tools for assessment, databanking and monitoring the system of inputs and outputs to evaluate their "effectiveness." And replicate this "continuous quality improvement" system ad nauseum.

Now, let's suppose that there were four major directions that the core group leadership took as they were sent out. Each stream would only differ on the externals and nonessentials, but the main agenda would still be emergent transformation.

The analogy to this would be marketing mint-flavored toothpaste to customers. A test marketer could send four different mint toothpastes for trial and input from focus groups. One toothpaste would appeal to those who like cool gel, another customer would prefer extra flouride, a third customer uses the baking soda, and a fourth customer needs the tartar control. Each type of toothpaste could be marketed to different groups of people based on their various needs and preferences. The point is that it is still mint toothpaste!

Earlier Herescope posts documented the particular role that Leadership Network played in selecting, training and managing a core group of hip young leaders to become the Emergent/emerging Church:


The two Forewards to McManus' first book, cited at the top of this post, were not an anomaly. Here is just a brief sampling of Erwin McManus' associations with Leadership Network:


Leadership Network advertised this event in their publications. This one is dated October 27, 2000:

The Terranova Project - an initiative of the Young Leader Networks
September 5-7, 2001
Hold the date.
I have been told that several church planting agencies are sending large groups of Church Planters to this gathering. Look for more details soon.

NEW CENTURY, NEW CHURCH 2 "Advancing the Equipping Church"From Leadership Training Network
Join us in San Diego September 23-26, 2001

Alan Webber, Founding Editor, Fast Company
Wayne Cordeiro, New Hope Christian Fellowship
Kirbyjon Caldwell, Windsor Village United Methodist Church
Bill Easum, Easum, Bandy and Associates
Ken Blanchard, The Ken Blanchard Companies
Erwin McManus, Mosaic
Bruce Bugbee, Network Ministries
Greg Ogden, Fuller Theological Seminary
Alan Nelson, Scottsdale Family Church; SW Leadership Foundation
Sue Mallory, Leadership Training Network…

Church Champions: Serving Consultants/Catalysts to Congregations
A service of Leadership Network


McManus was Leadership Network's Camp Improv narrator with speakers Ronald Heifetz, Ray Bakke, Jim Collins, Mary Crossan. Below is promotional material and his bio:

Camp Improv is a 21st century learning experience. It's about leadership. It's about ideas. It's about learning. It's about new skills. It's about preparation. It's about getting ready for what's next. Camp Improv is Leadership Network's 2003 National Learning Experience. September 30 - October 2.

Erwin Raphael McManus
Serving as Camp Narrator for Camp Improv is Erwin McManus
Erwin is lead pastor and cultural architect of Mosaic in Los Angeles. Recognized for its spiritual creativity and cultural diversity, Mosaic is a community of followers of Jesus Christ committed to live by faith, to be known by love, and to be a voice of hope.

Known for his skills as a gifted cultural and biblical communicator, Erwin speaks on such issues as globalization, leadership, cultural transformation, post-modernism and church growth.

His first book, An Unstoppable Force, (Group, 2001) was followed by Seizing Your Divine Moment released in October, 2002 (Thomas Nelson). He is also a contributing editor for Leadership Journal.

A native of El Salvador, Erwin is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Kim, have two children, Aaron and Mariah.


Leadership Network continued to promote McManus.

Ideas, connections and tools for equipping others
Issue Number 39, January 30, 2004

Erwin McManus to Speak at the North Coast Training Network's Annual Video Venue Conference!
-- March 13-15.

The Truth:

"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?" (Lamentations 3:37)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Erwin McManus & the Five Elements

Erwin McManus is an emerging church leader, author of The Unstoppable Force, and lead pastor and self-professed “cultural architect” of the Mosaic church in Los Angeles. He believes that the church needs to shape a cultural movement, an apostolic ethos. To create this apostolic ethos he has reinvigorated the five elements that come from ancient pagan spirituality.

The website http://theoriginsproject.org/ depicts these five elements.

WIND: Commission: Mission is why the church exists: People matter most.
WATER: Community: Love is the context for all mission: Love permeates everything.
WOOD: Connection: Structure must always submit to spirit: Passion fuels action.
FIRE: Communion: Relevance to culture is not optional: Relevance communicates truth.
EARTH: Character: Creativity is a natural result of spirituality. Character creates change.

On its face there is very little that is Christian about these five categories other than a few scattered biblical words. But McManus carries a mystique and awe about him as one of the vanguards of the emerging new face of the church, so this little “eccentricity” of the five elements is considered a new marketing gimmick for cutting edge neoevangelicalism. But there is much more to it than that.

A description of the five elements can be found in the Dictionary of All Scriptures & Myths (The Julian Press, Inc., 1960). This is a very esoteric dictionary, difficult to understand. The five elements are said to be symbols of the “five manifested planes of nature in grades of spirit-matter.”

“The world may in a certain sense be considered as composed and compacted out of five other worlds; for example, the one is of earth, the other of water, the third of fire; the fourth of air; the fifth element some call heaven, some light, others aether.’"– PLUTARCH, On the E at Delphi, &XI.

Homer was the first to divide the world into five portions. The three intermediate he has assigned to the three gods; the two extremes, Olympus and Earth, whereof the one is the boundary of things below, the other of things above, he has left common to all and unallotted to any.” – Ibid., & XIII.

Olympus, Heaven, Light, and Aether stand as symbols of the highest plan, atma. Buddhi (fire), mind (air), astral (water), physical (earth). The “three Gods” are Hera (buddhi), Hermes (mind), and Hades (astral).…

“…From the time Yin and Yang united and the five elements were intermingled in the centre of the universe….” – KIDD, China, p. 167. (pp. 245-247)

These five elements form the foundation of a worldview that is unquestionably pagan. It is interesting to note that this pagan worldview can be found not only in ancient Greek culture but also in the eastern religions.

This raises some questions. Is McManus using these five elements in a Christian or a pagan sense? In order to answer this question, each element will be examined along with a few pertinent definitions that may shed light on the theological meanings behind the use of these terms by McManus.

Also known as AIR, AETHER (ether) has to do with the mental plane or atmosphere, energy. A spiritual mind is said to be a “higher mind.” WIND is said to be “the Divine power” that “energises the mental vehicle of the soul” (p. 815-816).

The Dictionary also says, “At their highest significance these conjoined symbols stand for Matter and Spirit,” (p. 36), and a cross-reference goes to “Heaven and Earth” definitions, in which are found Yin/Yang (male/female) principles from the occult. (p. 346) The pagan religions – not unlike the teachings emanating from the New Apostolic Reformation – believe that the divide between heaven and earth can be bridged by man’s evolutionary process, which pertains to man's divinity, perfection, and immortality (p. 397-398):

The Divine purpose in manifestation is to involve all things in matter, that they may return again by evolution after having accomplished the end for which they existed, namely, the growth and exaltation of the myriad souls of humanity. (p. 399)

McManus says that WATER is “community.” This definition of water is not found in the Bible, but it can be found in cross-cultural ancient and modern pagan writings and, significantly, in occult-inspired symbolic renderings of traditional Bible passages (p. 803-806). WATER is defined as “unity, absence of parts, comprehensiveness….” Jesus’ act of turning water into wine is, for example, misrepresented as a “transmutation of the lower mental plane into the higher spiritual condition of the soul;” i.e., a transformation from human to divine. This is one of the chief ideas conveyed by the Yin/Yang principle. The Dictionary explains (p. 831):

The rhythm of the Great Breath produced the duality of Spirit and Matter, the active and receptive states of being. This primal duality is variously named in the sacred scriptures. Spirit and matter unite in forming the five planes (elements) of the Cosmos…. On each of the planes there is a Life (yang) and Form (yin) element, or active and passive aspects; and the Divine Life (Li) pervades all things.

“Heaven represents the male (Yang) principle and earth the corresponding (Yin) female principle, on which two principles the whole of existence depends.” – ALLEN, Chinese Poetry, Pref. 27.

Yang and Yin signify ‘light and darkness, perfection and imperfection, manifestation and obscurity, good and evil, the source of existence and the cause of decay.’ …The superior of these powers, by whatever name it is distinguished, rules in heaven and controls celestial objects, while the inferior which is female, governs on earth and directs terrestrial things.”—KIDD, China, pp. 137-8.

This element is said to be, “A symbol of the astral plane in its aspect of growth, in which the Self begins to manifest.” The Dictionary notes (p. 824-25) that:

“Aristotle was the first to use the word Matter (in Greek Hyle, wood; in Latin Materia, building stuff), as a term of the schools, to denote the impalpable, invisible substratum of things, in contradistinction from the invisible Form” – C. BIGG, Neo-Platonism, p. 196.

Is McManus using this term as the occultists do when he refers to structure submitting to spirit? The graphic logo in this element is not only another instance of Yin/Yang, but it also conveys the idea of a leaf. Is this connected to occult dendrology?

Fire, in the occult, is said to be a “spiritual energy” or a “love-energy,” a “passion,” or a “transforming power” for man’s “purification” (pp. 274-277). For example:

“God is at work now, burning up the evils and wrongs in man, and flooding him with the energies of righteousness and peace. That is the primary fact. The fires of God are burning on and on for the purification of our race.” – Dr. CLIFFORD, Serm., Do not Quench the Spirit.

“Now, the reader cannot fail to have observed that in this Yezidi festival, men, women, and children were ‘purified’ by coming in contact with ‘the sacred element’ of fire. In the rites of Zoroaster, the great Chaldean god, fire occupied precisely the same place. It was laid down as an essential principle in his system that ‘he who approached to fire would receive a light from divinity,’ and that ‘through divine fire, all the stains produced by generation would be purged away.’ Therefore it was that ‘children were made to pass through the fire to Moloch,’ to purge them from original sin, and through this purgation many a helpless babe became a victim to the bloody divinity. Among the Pagan Romans, this purifying by passing through the fire was equally observed; ‘for,’ says Ovid, enforcing the practice, ‘fire purifies both the shepherd and the sheep.’ Among the Hindus, from time immemorial, fire has been worshipped for its purifying efficacy. Thus a worshipper is represented by Colebrooke, according to the sacred books, as addressing the fire: ‘Salutation to thee (O fire!), who dost seize oblations, to thee who dost shine, to thee who dost scintillate, may thy auspicious flame burn our foes; mayest thou, the Purifier, be auspicious unto us.’” – A. HISLOP, The Two Babylons, p. 120.”

Obviously, the paganists didn't just use "fire" in a symbolic manner!

Fire is not a symbol found in biblical communion. And McManus’ definition for fire seems to parallel the neoevangelical revisionist concept of ekklesia – communing church with culture. Again, there is an evident Yin/Yang symbol.

According to the Dictionary, “The ‘earth’…signifies the buddhic principle in consciousness” which assists the “growth” of the “lower Self” which awakens the “Higher-mind” of man (pp. 237-238):

A symbol of the productive buddhic nature as the Divine expression upon the astral and physical planes. Buddhi acting as the moulder of forms and guide of the separated Self to enable it to manifest its true nature in the soul.”

It can be supposed that McManus’ spiritualized character-building would not be too distantly related to this concept. Note that the logo for earth and heaven is sublimally sexual, which is precisely what the Solar-Phallic/Earth Goddess occult doctrine is about.

The Truth:

Now why would a Christian leader use such blatantly occult symbolism? Some possible answers come to mind:

1. Erwin McManus wants to appeal to the hip, young, artsy culture with logos, lingo, terms and symbols that will appeal to their world.

BUT there are testimonies from ex-New Agers such as Warren Smith who warn evangelicals that by mixing occult symbols and terminologies with Christianity they are seriously misleading and possibly outright deceiving spiritual seekers.

2. McManus wants to create a new church language that appeals to the unchurched, to transform the marketing image of a boring old-fashioned Christianity.

BUT these logos with their accompanying definitions appear to have much more in common with the occult, and very little of the Scripture, thus so distorting the intended message that it could be easily confused with the occult.

3. McManus is so “into” fabulous graphic arts that he lost the perspective of communicating the Gospel message.

BUT can we excuse the blatant occult representations on this artwork? Is it possible to justify mingling clearly pagan symbols with biblical Christianity? Isn't this extreme? Or, is "extreme" the hip new marketing model? If so, why use the occult to market the Gospel?

These Scriptures come to mind:

"And the king [Josiah] commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the the temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.

"And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.

"And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.…

"And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech." (2 Kings 4-6, 10)

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Sermon Not Likely to be Preached

The other day we heard a sermon preached by Pastor Ben Keim. It was such a good sermon that we requested permission to post his sermon notes so we could share it with Herescope blog readers.

It isn't likely that this sermon would be preached in a post-modern neo-evangelical church. In fact, many of these pastors now use Rick Warren's "canned" sermons rather than searching the Word of God for themselves.

When you read the message below you will see why this type of sermon is no longer popular to preach!

Conviction & Our Response

We need growth in our spiritual man. We desire that God would speak to us in the areas of our lives where He sees need of growth and change. God works through the reading and preaching of the Word, and by the work of the Holy Spirit.

As we study His Word and are blessed with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we begin to realize conviction is not a "negative" in our spiritual experience but a "positive" for which we should thank God. Many people view conviction as a negative thing because it is God asking them to do something they aren’t willing to do. Or, they are so sure of their own ability to direct their lives in a way that makes them feel alright that conviction brings a conflict between what they want to do and what God wants us to do.

We sometimes forget as Christians we are not our own. We are God’s, and we have turned our lives over to Him so that He can lead us, perfect us, purify us in the way He chooses. We would like to dictate these processes because of our human tendency to be in control. But, as humans we are not able to see the big picture that God sees, and sometimes we are unable to honestly analyze the needs of our own hearts.

Conviction propels us into the arena of choice. We can either choose to ignore it and follow on the way we have been going, or take another personal choice route – Or, we can deal with the issue in our life that the Holy Spirit has made clear to us, and allow God to do His work of cleansing, and use this to grow in our spiritual lives.

Our response to the conviction, and the direction of God, is best understood as we honestly face the reality that there are only two choices we can make. We can take our own way and continue in the way we are, or take God’s way and allow Him to take us where He wants us to go.

To be simplistic, it is the choice of life or death in a spiritual sense. When we harden ourselves to God’s call, or to His still small voice of conviction in our lives, we are opening the door to further failure and it has a snowballing effect. Our heart gets harder. When we respond positively our heart remains tender and soft to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Psalms 38:1-2 says: “O LORD, rebuke me not in thy wrath: neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.”

Conviction of Sin brings about:

Heaviness to our hearts. Psalm 38:4 – “For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.”

We are restless. Psalm 38:3 – “There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.”

We become miserable and unhappy. Psalm 73:21 – “Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.”

Our conscience is pricked. Acts 2:37 – “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

Tears overtake us because of guilt. Acts 16:29-30 – “Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

What COULD Our Response Be to Conviction?

We could “pull a Jonah” and run from God and His call. Jonah 1:1-3 – “Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.”

We could put off our decision to another time as did Felix. Acts 24:24-25 – “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

We could, as did Balaam, refuse God’s direction or call and take our own wrong way. God will allow us to do this, but with consequences. Numbers 22:12, -- “And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.… And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him.”

What SHOULD Our Response Be to Conviction?

We must admit our sin and take responsibility for it. 1 Chronicles 21:14-17 – “So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.”

We must be sorry for our sin. Matthew 26:75 – “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”

We must be willing to confess our sin before God and others. Luke 15:18-19 – “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

We must be repentant of our sin. Acts 26:19-20 – “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

Repentance carries with it the understanding that a change will be forthcoming. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 – “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea,what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

We must forsake our sin. Romans 6:1-2 – “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Hebrews 3:7, 12-13 -- "Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness… Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What does "gathering" mean?

gather (verb): 1. to cause to come together in one place or group 2. to get or collect gradually from various places, sources, etc. amass accumulate …4. to pick, pluck, or collect by picking; harvest.
gathering (noun): 1. the act of one that gathers (Websters)

The use of the terminology "gathering" has been growing exponentially the past few years in evangelical circles. It is word that is included in the names of various organizations, conferences, prayer events, etc. Believers assume that it simply means "where two or three are gathered together in my name" (Matthew 18:20).

That is one traditional meaning of the term. But it also has a "transitional" and "transformational" meaning. A transitional meaning is "new understanding" put on a traditional biblical concept. A transformational meaning is often hidden or veiled because it parallels a New Age concept.

So how do we find out what is meant by the term "gathering"?

Whenever one wants to know the meaning of a new doctrine, or the meaning of a new interpretation of Scripture, the most readily accessible source is the Latter Rain "prophets." This history of this group of men is chronicled in the Joel's Army booklet published on the Discernment Ministries website. The heresies of these men have been incorporated into the doctrines of C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation. These Gnostic Latter Rain "prophets" seem to write more openly on their mystical doctrines.

Francis Frangipane, one of the leading Latter Rain "prophets" described what this word "gathering" meant in August 2005, in an article that entitled "Repairers of the Breach" that ended up on the Elijah List, one of the chief organs for this group's agenda. This word is connected with a new eschatology that is taught by the New Apostolic Reformation. Frangipane's definition of "gathering" has to do with the Latter Rain version of the "rapture" of the Saints before Jesus returns:

"Most of true Christianity shares a doctrine commonly called the 'rapture' of the Church (I Thessalonians 4:16). …Scripture assures us that it will occur before Jesus Himself returns.

"However, before we are 'caught up' to meet the Lord, there will be a time of unusual grace in which the living church of Jesus Christ, like a bride, makes 'herself ready' (Revelation 19:7). In this unparalleled season of preparation, while we will not become 'perfect,' we shall realize a new level of holiness of the quality in which Jesus Himself walked (I Thessalonians 3:11-13; Ephesians 5:26, 27; Philippians 1:9, 10).

"The result of this new spiritual fullness will be a new level of unity."

"…It is my passionate conviction that the Church which will ultimately be raptured will be free of strife and carnal divisions -- it will be a bride "without spot or wrinkle" made ready for her bridegroom. [emphasis added]

COMMENTS: Notice that no mention is made of the fact that the visible church of the last days will be characterized by a great falling away (2Thessalonians 2, 1Timothy 4;1), by a religion that has a form of godliness but denies the power of true godliness (2Timothy 3:5), by all manner of evil and sin (2Timothy 3:1-4) and by a lack of faith (Luke 18:8).

Also, keep in mind that nowhere in Scripture can be found the possibility that there will be a super-race of Christians who will achieve a level of holiness unparalleled in the history of the church. The true church has always had those who have lived very holy and sanctified lives. Noah and Lot did not reach a higher level of holiness before judgment fell in their time and the rapture will be no different. Is Frangipane suggesting that only those who have reached this level of holiness “in which Jesus walked” will be raptured? Will there not be new believers who are yet babes and carnal? He quotes a number of Scriptures that make it appear that these texts support his hypothesis. A thorough reading of the quoted Scriptures however do not support his position, but perhaps he is gambling on the possibility that the reader will not bother to check the Scriptures for himself.

Frangipane stresses that it is “our” responsibility to prepare the spotless bride for the coming of the Groom and that we are to do that through breaking down barriers and seeking closer fellowship. Once again he only quotes part of the passage. The more complete quote is: “…that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:26,27). Jesus Christ, not we, will sanctify and cleanse the church and He will do that “through the washing of water by the word.” Not only is Frangipane promoting the wrong agent (we and not Him) but he is also promoting the wrong method. Frangipane’s “preparation” is through compromise and a diluting of Scripture while the true preparation of the bride will be through the washing of water by the Word.

Note his suggestion that the church has to reach a level of perfection by it's own efforts before the Rapture. He is placing undue confidence in the flesh. Surely this is a work of the Lord Himself which will only be completed at the moment He gloriously transforms the believers, at the moment we see Him.

Frangipane continues:

"During the rapture, our bodies will be changed. But our character -- that is, the essence of who we have become -- will remain intact.… "

COMMENTS: This is rank heresy. Will heaven be populated by people who are bitter, unforgiving, vengeful, greedy, etc.?! Or is he implying -- as Latter Rain writers believe -- that heaven will be brought to earth? In 1Peter 2:1-10 Peter speaks of those who are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (verse 9) and the people of God (verse 10). Yet to these same people he writes that they need to lay aside deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking (verse1). It is evident from all of Paul’s letters that true believers are not sinless and that they retain many of the marks of the carnal nature. The reality is that no man has ever achieved a perfect character before he died. If Frangipane’s assertion is correct then each one of us will enter heaven -- or bring heaven to earth -- with those carnal aspects present in us for all eternity. We would thus turn heaven into hell as we continue forever to struggle with our carnality, as we do here and now on earth.

Yet the Scripture is clear that nothing imperfect can enter into the New Jerusalem: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie” (Rev 21:27a). 1John 3:2 says: “[W]hen He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

Now that Frangipane has laid the eschatological foundation, note how important the word "gather" becomes. Frangipane writes:

"It is highly significant that the scriptural term for the rapture is called the 'gathering together' (II Thessalonians 2:1; Matthew 24:31). What ultimately will be consummated in our gathering together physically to the Lord will be precipitated by a spiritual gathering together of His body on earth. Concerning the era known as the 'end of the age,' Jesus taught that the 'good fish' shall be 'gathered . . . into containers' (Matthew 13:48). And in the context of spiritual warfare, Jesus warned, 'He who does not gather with Me, scatters' (Matthew 12:30)." [emphasis in original]

COMMENTS: Note in the first sentence above that that this "gathering" concept is linked to the new "rapture" doctrine.

Theologically there are problems with this paragraph. Yes, the good fish will be gathered but not by men, but by the angels. The verses following Matthew 13:48 explains the parable in no uncertain terms: “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:49,50). The parable Frangipane refers to is set in the context of a series of parables that clearly teach that the visible church of the last days will be populated by good and bad and that the “gathering” is the process whereby the Lord and His angels sort the good from the bad (those saved from those damned).

Notice that this "gathering" in Scripture is done by the Lord and his angels. But there are Latter Rain teachings that ominously indicate that this "sorting" or "harvesting" process will be done by the self-proclaimed leaders. In fact, Frangipane states it quite plainly:

"The pastors of the last Christian church will be under-shepherds to the Lord Jesus; they will be anointed to gather together His remnant and, under that anointing, shall be 'fruitful and multiply.

"Indeed, right now, in the context of humbling ourselves and submitting our hearts to His will, we are participating in being 'gathered together.' This process will progressively increase until the barriers between brethren are melted by the overcoming nature of Christ's love. Before Jesus returns, we will truly be 'one flock with one shepherd.' We will be a holy and blameless sheepfold, meeting in different buildings, but baptized into one body." [emphasis added]

COMMENTS: The Lord Jesus specifically forbids any attempt to preempt the final sifting and gathering together that the Lord will do at His return. One of the parables that is directly linked to the parable of the sorting of the fish, quoted by Frangipane, is the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). The disciples proposed to do exactly what Frangipane is proposing: “The servants said to him, `Do you want us then to go and gather them up?” (Matthew 13:28). The Lord specifically forbids this process and says: “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:30). Keep in mind that the reapers in this verse are the angels of Matthew 13:48, not men!

"Gathering" also appears to mean ecumenical unity. In the opening section, Frangipane writes, "The result of this new spiritual fullness will be a new level of unity." Later, Frangipane returns to this meaning:

"…In every city, town, and village, each of us need the other churches if we are going to stand in the day of battle.

"You may be thinking, 'You don't understand, I have revelation of the end-time move of God. These churches barely believe in Jesus.' The Word tells us that 'without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater' (Hebrews 7:7). If you are truly 'greater,' without a hint of pride, you will seek ways to be a blessing to other churches. Your Christlike love will cast out fears. You will truly have a burden to see the entire body of Christ brought forth, not just your local assembly; you will respect the diversity of ways through which Christ reveals Himself in the Church. In truth, Jesus said that the greatest among us would become the 'servant of all'" (Mark 9:35; Matthew 23:11)." [emphasis in original]

COMMENTS: What he is proposing is the typical ecumenical soppy compromise which unites believer and unbeliever, Christian and Muslim, and sinner and saint. Yes, we can bring about a gathering or unity, based on the lowest common denominator. The only question is, what is the uniting factor going to be? Is the unity he proposes something like the unity shared by millions under the banner of the National Association of Evangelicals? Is this the kind of super-spiritual grand gathering Frangipane suggests? Especially in the last days true believers are required to “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you” (2Cor 6:17).

The New Agers also have gatherings. They teach that mankind uniting and gathering together creates a synergy that will birth a new man. They hold events like the Harmonic Convergence to bring this about. They also teach about an end-time "harvest" of those who won't evolve.

The Truth:

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It's All About Marketing

Develop a creative sermon series with a high "felt need" appeal.
When you put creativity and a high felt need together, you get real growth. Last year, I (Bil C.) preached a series titled "What Does God Have to Say About Sex?" and we saw an increase of 1,000.
["5 Keys to Explosive Growth," by Bill Easum & Bil Cornelius, Outreach, Nov/Dec 2006]

If you're in one of those churches undergoing transformation and restructuring, this article cited above is a must-read. "5 Keys to Explosive Growth" is all about numbers and it is all about marketing. The authors claim that it is biblical and promise you will have success if you try their methods. This article reads like a sales training manual for church growth:

"Not only is crazy, go-big, huge growth possible, it's biblical. Like the early church of Acts, your church—if growth is part of your and your people's vision—can go big with these five keys that both of us have discovered in our experience of leading churches and people."

Compare these "five keys" with the writings of other church change agents and notice the similarities. The formulas for "success" are all nearly identical. No matter whose name or ministry is on the master plan for success, the basic principles are all the same. It is the same-old, same-old program for "doubling the number of people finding Christ and worshipping with you every Sunday."

The first recommendation is, of course, visioning. Elsewhere on this blog "visioning" is explained as a method that is derived from the occult. These Christian leaders mistakenly believe that they can actually "create the future" by picturing a bigger church in some sort of "mind over matter" type envisioning activity:

"People develop the habits necessary to create the future they want. Another way to put this: You get what you expect and believe will happen. Yet, most people don't believe this. But we've learned that a large part of your future is what you picture it to be. So maybe what you need is a bigger picture of the future."
[emphasis added]

The second recommendation is a new variation of the "name it and claim it" teaching which has now cropped up like wildfire in church growth circles. "BIG RESULTS" are promised if you just pray big:

"When was the last time you challenged your church to pray for your goal of doubling the number of people finding Christ and worshipping with you every Sunday?…

"…We cannot ignore the prayer principle: When we pray diligently, we get big results." [emphases added]

A particular twist on the old formula for success is the focus on external appearance. For "big results" your church needs to spiff up the joint, and the pastor needs to spruce up his wardrobe:

"Appearance of space. When you walk into your building, does it rival the quality of a popular mall or other 21st century venue that's in the business of attracting people? Does the atmosphere of your facility send the right message to first-time guests? Does it say "God is moving today" or "God moved here 50 years ago"?…

"Personal appearance. Does your appearance send non-verbal messages that you're current or outdated?

Under "KEY #3: BRING IN LOTS OF NEW PEOPLE," marketing techniques for church growth are spelled out. Besides radio and newspaper ads, and a "professional-looking Web site" that "can close the deal," the authors propose an advertising budget for things like:

"Direct mail. We both repeatedly used direct mail and highly recommend it.…

"Television and cable. The larger the church, the more important TV advertising becomes, if for no other reason than creating and maintaining your church's image.…"

And, of course, once you get visitors in the door, how do you keep them coming back? -- "KEY #4: RETAIN THE LION'S SHARE." Like all other church growth plans, the first thing to do is set up small groups -- not with an emphasis on discipleship (that word is seldom mentioned in church growth literature) -- but with an emphasis on multi-level marketing multiplication:

"Small groups that multiply. Any small-group pastor who never talks about multiplication doesn't need to be a small-group pastor. Get as many people as you can into small groups, but keep the focus on multiplication.…"

And KEY #5 is cited above in the opening quote to today's post. Most high-level evangelical leaders were trained in the psychological gospel of "felt needs." They learned that people are easily manipulated by appealing to their "felt needs," just like the advertising industry appeals to people's senses and emotions. If people "feel" like their "needs" are being met by a church, then that "experience" becomes the focus -- rather than the Gospel message of the Cross.

The Truth:

The truth can be found in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)