Thursday, June 28, 2007

Neo-Kuyperian Spheres

"These seven spheres of influence will help us shape societies for Christ."
- Loren Cunningham, Winning God's Way, (YWAM, 1988), p. 134

Did Loren Cunningham and Bill Bright just happen to have corresponding spiritual experiences where God told them a new way to make disciples of all nations, as described in the previous post? Did God really give them a vision of "categories of society" that were to be the church's "seven spheres of influence"? Or, perhaps, were they exposed to the teachings of Abraham Kuyper? The latter is a more likely scenario since Kuyper is behind the modern concept of "spheres." Bright may have been exposed to Kuyper's teachings while a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, which now houses the Abraham Kuyper Center for Public Theology.

Kuyper's "spheres" theology has been continually hybridized, homogenized and recontextualized over the years. Many of his teachings have formed the basis of the fundamental paradigm shift in how neoevangelicals view the church and the world. This blog characterizes the generic version of these teachings as Dominionism. Below is an example of Loren Cunningham's writing on the topic, which is characteristic of how the evangelicals have incorporated these ideas into missiology. The Dominionist theme of these remarks would include a re-defined meaning of "disciple all nations" -- i.e., actually changing governments, economic systems, and Society:

“Jesus has commanded us to go and disciple all nations. In the past we have gone into countries as missionaries, giving the gospel and teaching the people how to read and write. We didn’t get involved in teaching government, politics or economics. We let the Marxists do that. In country after country in the Third World, the Communists took young men educated in missionary schools and 'discipled them on how to run a government.

"But God is saying to us, 'I know more about running a government than anyone. I know more about farming or fishing than you do. I know more about your business, your teaching. I know how to best communicate and use the media. I want to teach you My principles, so that you can teach others to observe all I have commanded and have a great harvest of souls. I have a calling for you and I want you to succeed at it. I just need for you to obey Me.'

"As we disciple the nations by giving them godly economic systems, Bible-based forms of government, education anchored in God’s Word, families with Jesus at the head, entertainment that portrays God in His variety and excitement, media that is based on communicating the truth in love, and churches that serve as sending stations for missionaries into all areas of society, we will see the fulfillment of the Great Commission and multiplied millions coming into the Kingdom of God. Jesus promises that as we do this, 'I am will you always, even to the end of the age' (Matthew 28:20).

"Jesus has promised to give the earth to the meek, to the barefoot, to those who have surrendered their rights to Him. He wants us to claim the nations of the earth as His inheritance. He promises us that we will gain it all if we give it all.” (Loren Cunningham, Winning God's Way [YWAM, 1988], p. 132, emphasis added.)

The concept of "spheres" cannot be separated from Kuyper's ideas about "common grace." Wikipedia defines "sphere sovereignty" as:

"In Neo-Calvinism, sphere sovereignty means that each sphere of life has its own distinct responsibilities and authority or competence, and stands equal to other spheres of life. Sphere sovereignty is an idea that God created new order and that everything is under the sphere of God's control. This includes education, the Church, the State, agriculture, economic enterprises, the family, and the arts. It insists that creational boundaries, and historical differentiation, be affirmed and respected."

It is worth looking at that link to Neo-Calvinism in the quotation above, which gives a good summary of the tenets of this modern movement. Take note of the fact that Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey's book How Now Shall We Live (Tyndale, 1999) is cited as a key resource in articulating this movement. This blog (3/10/06) wrote about Colson's new "worldview" project with Rick Warren. In the description of Neo-Calvinism Richard Mouw is cited as a reference. Although most people think of this movement as emanating from Calvinism, where it has indeed taken root and flourished, it has been Fuller Theological Seminary, where Mouw has been president, where these doctrines have taken on a life of their own, and been taught to several generations of evangelical students. The effect of this has permeated throughout the evangelical world.

In 2003 there was debate between Richard Mouw and David Engelsma (also here and here), Professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament Studies at the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches in Grandville, Michigan. Engelsma critically analyzed some of the issues in an excellent paper. According to Engelsma, much of the conflict centers on Kuyper's concept of "common grace." Below are a few highlights. Keep in mind while reading this, that it comes from a classic Reformed perspective:

"The worldview of common grace dreamed up by Abraham Kuyper a little more than one hundred years ago holds that, alongside His purpose of saving a church in Jesus Christ, God has another purpose with creation and history, namely, the development of a good, godly, and God-glorifying culture. God accomplishes this cultural purpose with creation and history by bestowing a certain grace upon unregenerate, unbelieving people. This common, cultural grace of God works wonders in the ungodly. It restrains sin in them so that they are no longer totally depraved, as otherwise they would be. It enables these godless, Christ-less men and women to perform deeds in everyday, earthly life that are truly good, and please God. It empowers the wicked to build a culture, an entire way of life of a society, or a nation, that glorifies God. . . .

"The worldview of common grace intoxicates those who inhale its vapors with the giddy prospect of an earthly triumph of the kingdom of God by the creation of a good, godly culture in history. Charles Colson thinks that the cooperation of evangelicals and Roman Catholics in building a culture informed by a biblical worldview can yet, by the power of common grace, win the culture wars and redeem the culture. In the face of the pessimism that concludes that evangelicals have lost the culture war, Colson is optimistic. . .

"Abraham Kuyper, sober amillennialist though he was in his dogmatics, became a delirious postmillennialist in his advocacy of the worldview of common grace. The cooperation of believers and unbelievers in building a good culture by common grace will result in the 'Christianizing' of nations, if not of the world. The task of the 'church as organism' is nothing less than 'the transformation of human society by bringing it into harmony with the insights provided by the Christian faith. … Kuyper aimed … to encourage … the Christianization of society…. The Christianization of society would involve bringing all aspects of human life into conformity with Christian principles.'[30] . . .

"Writing in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Presbyterian theologian William D. Dennison judges that 'Dutch neo-Calvinism,' whose father is Abraham Kuyper, whose project is to 'transform and reclaim the post-enlightenment culture for the Lordship of Jesus Christ,' and whose worldview is that of common grace, 'has become more a child of the Enlightenment and modernity than a movement preserving historic orthodox Calvinism.'[44]

". . .The Reformed worldview has a perspective on earthly life that pays attention to the 'cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 11. 'These all died in faith … and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country … that is, an heavenly' (Heb. 11:13-16). Active as we are, may be, and ought to be in earthly life, we may never forget that our life is a pilgrimage to the celestial city.

"The common grace worldview destroys this truth about the Christian and his life. This worldview makes the 'Christianizing' of society, the building of a grand and good culture, and the improvement of the world as a form of the kingdom of God the main thing for the Christian. It tends to fix one’s heart on this life. It tends to make cultural achievements the goal of the Christian life." [emphases added]

Kuyperianism has become widely disseminated across a broad spectrum of Christianity. And it doesn't have to be tied to Neo-Calvinism openly to be effective like leaven. For example, some of this "intersects" with the Emergent/emerging movement's fixation on transformation. In a key article, "A Neo-Kuyperian Assist to the Emergent Church," authors Vincent Bacote and Daniel Pylman suggest:

"If the emergent church is to be truly culturally engaged as an expression of missional Christianity, how might this be articulated theologically? This is the place where neo-calvinism intersects with the concerns of the emergent church. The doctrine of common grace can provide the emergent church with a significant theological rationale for Christian participation in every area of society. . . .

". . .Do emergent Christians need to become contemporary neocalvinists in order to adopt this doctrine? Though it certainly would not be a bad thing, our answer must be 'no.' While common grace emerges from a Reformed environment, the truth it expresses is found in the broad range of traditions which comprise the generative community of friends in the emergent church. In addition, the neo-Kuyperian project aims to extend the influence of Kuyper beyond the walls of the Reformed world." [emphasis added]

The Truth:

There are two points to note in the extensive material presented above.

1) The effect of this "spheres" doctrine on two leaders of two of the most prominent evangelical mission groups has utterly changed the face of modern evangelical missions. It has changed the focus from spreading the Gospel, to changing the culture and society of nations by operating within and upon the "spheres." No matter what the original intent of Kuyper might have been, this is the ultimate conclusion. The biblical Gospel of Salvation has been transformed into the "Gospel of the Kingdom."

2) When C. Peter Wagner comes out of the closet openly now as a Dominionist (see previous two posts on this topic), and assigns the men in his apostolic empire to these "spheres," it is time to sit up and take notice. The ultimate application of Kuyperian teachings can be nothing less than despotism in the name of Christ.

"A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit." (Matthew 7:18)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Seven Apostolic Spheres

“We all agree that the society to be transformed is not just one big conglomerate,
but a unified whole that is made up of several vital pieces,
each one of which must take its own path toward transformation.
These segments of society should be seen as apostolic spheres.”

--C. Peter Wagner, The Church in the Workplace, (Regal, 2006), p. 112 [emphasis added].

The quote above comes from a chapter in C. Peter Wagner’s book The Church in the Workplace, which is an account of the marketplace transformation movement. This book is an attempt to justify a new role for the church co-mingling with the corporate business world, based on the newly concocted doctrines of C. Peter Wagner, George Otis, Ed Silvoso, Dennis Peacocke, and a host of other Latter Rain and Reconstructionist leaders.

In a chapter entitled “Apostles in the Workplace,” Wagner details the “strategy for war” for marketplace transformation, and puts out a plea for leaders to “standardize our terminology” for the “7 spheres” or “7 mountains” or "7 gates" of society that must be transformed. Wagner suggests “using a list that can be traced back to Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM, and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade.” (p. 112)

As the story goes, Cunningham and Bright each had a spiritual experience in which the vision was imparted to them by God of “seven chief categories of society” where the church needed to “concentrate” to “turn the nations back to God.” Wagner quotes a portion of Loren Cunningham’s book Making Jesus Lord (YWAM, 1988, p. 134), where he recounts this experience. Cunningham wrote:

"Sometimes God does something dramatic to get our attention. That's what happened to me in 1975. My family and I were enjoying the peace and quiet of a borrowed cabin in the Colorado Rockies. I was stretched out on a lounge chair in the midday warmth, praying and thinking. I was considering how we Christians - not just the mission I was part of, but all of us - could turn the world around for Jesus.

"A list came to my mind: categories of society which I believed we should focus on in order to turn nations around to God. I wrote them down, and stuck the paper in my pocket.

"The next day, I met with a dear brother, the leader of Campus Crusade For Christ, Dr. Bill Bright. He shared with me something God had given him - several areas to concentrate on to turn the nations back to God! They were the same areas, with different wording here and there, that were written on the page in my pocket. I took it out and showed Bill and we shook our heads in amazement.

"Here's a list (refined and clarified a bit over the years) that God gave me that sunny day in Colorado:

1. The home
2. The church
3. Schools
4. Government and politics
5. The media
6. Arts, entertainment, and sports
7. Commerce, science, and technology

"These seven spheres of influence will help us shape societies for Christ." [emphasis added]

Remarkably, even though Wagner was a mission leader who hobnobbed in the same circles as Cunningham and Bright, he states that he didn’t know about the experiences of these two men until Lance Wallnau (see previous two posts on this topic) brought it to his attention. Wagner writes:

“He [Wallnau] calls them the seven mountains. The warfare strategy is that ‘if the world is to be won, these are the mountains that mold the culture and the minds of men. Whoever controls these mountains controls the direction of the world and the harvest therein.’” (p. 114) [emphasis added]

The amazing quote within the quote above is attributed by Wagner to a “privately circulated paper" of Lance Wallnau’s entitles “A Prophetic, Biblical, and Personal Call to the Marketplace.” Apparently in this paper Wallnau spiritualizes the “high places” of these 7 spheres or mountains which supposedly have “principalities and powers that control” them.

Wagner goes on to describe how each of these 7 mountains or spheres will become an "apostolic sphere." Apostles “are the only ones who will be able to change the power structure at the top of each mountain.” (p. 114) Wagner calls these “extended church apostles” who “will be able to lead the army of God into those strategic battlefields." He then quotes Wallnaur:

“How do we go about reclaiming the mind molders of nations, and what does this have to do with you and your calling to the marketplace? Everything! You are about to be drafted into an elite unit of marketplace commandoes. . . .

"Look at your occupational field and see it as a mountain. What companies and people are at the top of that mountain? Why are they at the top? What skills, knowledge, and personal characteristics are needed to occupy that position? What would need to exist for you to occupy the top of that mountain?” (quoted in Wagner, p. 115)

Wallnau worked with well-known Latter Rain "prophet" John Paul Jackson on "Give Me My Mountain," a 3-CD set which is being sold by the Elijah List. Wallnau was a featured speaker at Wagner's Global Harvest Ministries March 2007 conference "The Spirit and the Bride Say Come - Unlocking God's Kingdom Plan Today Congress," which promoted pure Latter Rain Dominionism:



  • A kairos word for this hour. In a time of great confrontation, we must clearly hear how to advance in this season.
  • An understanding of Christ's mediational authority.
  • An impartation on how to take dominion and occupy your sphere of authority.
  • Kingdom administrative keys for this hour.
  • An understanding of how to wear favor into this season we are living in and experience Kingdom Glory.
  • An understanding of how Kingdom government interacts with civil government.
  • An anointing to stand in the gap until you see the Spirit of God and Kingdom rule manifest in your territory."

Lance Wallnau is also listed as one of the speakers of the New Canaan Society, an eclectic mix of political dominionists, Emergent/Emerging leaders, Contemplatives, Latter Rainers, Mission leaders, etc.

The Truth:

The reader is challenged to find any semblance of the Gospel of Salvation in any of the quotations above. Yet, this "spheres" teaching, which was reportedly given by God to two major mission leaders, profoundly altered the nature of global mission work during the past generation. This redefined church is supposed to re-make Society and State, particularly with the help of the other leg of the stool -- the Corporate.

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel." (Galatians 1:6)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Contending With ATTITUDE

Have you been convicted, blessed and challenged by this series? We have! This topic has seldom been addressed in the evangelical world. Yet it is an important message for our day. The false apostles and prophets (not to mention Hollywood) would very much enjoy it if everyone in discernment/apologetics ministries would fit the stereotype of loud-mouthed Bible thumpers who aggressively and viciously attack their opponents.

But this isn't the biblical model. How important it is, then, that we who exercise discernment and warn others, also conform our lives to the Scriptures that address how we are to warn others. It isn't just the message. What we say may be true. But the Word of God also gives basic instruction about the delivery of this message.

May you be blessed, convicted and challenged by reading part 4 of Anton Bosch's "Contentiously Contending" series today.

“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

(2Timothy 2:23-26 KJV).

In the previous article we looked at the first three aspects of the attitude of those who wish to bring correction to those who are in opposition. These are gentleness, an ability to teach and patience.

The fourth essential is humility or meekness. (Most translations use the word "gentleness" or "meekness"). Meekness is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:23. It is not weakness but flows from a life which is fully surrendered to the will of God. Those who strive in their own strength, trying to establish their own purposes are not meek, but are constantly agitated, arrogant, aggressive and antagonistic. Jonah is the best example of such a man. Paul before his conversion was also such and the Lord described him as kicking against the pricks.

Those who are meek have recognized their own weaknesses, are broken before Him and have come to a point of full surrender to the Lord. They do not have to prove anything but are simply instruments in the hands of the Almighty. Meekness flows first from an awareness of God’s mercy towards us and a recognition of the fact that He has saved us and kept us by His grace alone: “Put them in mind to… speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:1-3 KJV).

Secondly, meekness flows from an awareness of our own faults and potential for sin and error. Those who arrogantly strive with others act as though they themselves never make mistakes and as though they have all Truth: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted… For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Galatians 6:1,3 KJV).

Thirdly, meekness is a result of recognizing that we cannot change other people’s minds, theology or attitudes. It is God alone who can do so (with the individual’s cooperation). When we are deluded and overconfident and think that we can win the argument, prove how wrong the other person is, and get him to change his thinking – we are arrogant and far from meek. This is typical of the schoolyard bully who twists his opponent’s arm behind his back, forcing him to submit. Spouses do the same in marriage when they have not yet learned that there is not a single person on this earth who can change the heart, mind or attitude of someone else. God alone has that power.

Those who are in opposition (to the Truth) are “in the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2Timothy 2:26). They are not free agents to change their minds as they choose, but are trapped in a web of deceit, lies and error. (How they got there is another story). According to the Bible they are imprisoned and bound. To get angry with such people is a waste of time; they sold their freedom for expediency, fame or money. They cannot change unless the Lord intervenes. When we understand that, our attitude towards them has to change from one of judgment to one of pity and mercy.

Why did Jesus not debate Pilate? Surely He could prove His innocence and the illegality of the trial. Yet, He said nothing. The key lies in Jesus’ words to Pilate: “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). Jesus recognized where the true power lay. Those who fight with men have forgotten that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).

This does not mean that we should just sit back and wait for things to happen. The Lord uses men to work as His co-workers. Some of us plant, others water but the Lord gives the increase -- and unless He does, nothing will happen in the lives of others. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

In dealing with those in error, we need to give a sound, logical and Biblical reason for the Truth. We need to be skilled workmen who divide the Word correctly. But the rest is up to the Lord: “…if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil” (2Timothy 2:25).

We cannot claim that God must deliver them, or that He has to honor our word and cause the seed to grow. Paul uses the word “perhaps / peradventure” indicating that it is entirely up to God. Having sown the seed, we need to leave the rest up to Him. He has to give them repentance. Once they find repentance, then they will know the Truth. Once they know the Truth they need to come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap. Sadly, many do come to know the Truth, but choose to stay in the snare of the Devil for the same reasons they were entrapped in the first place.

Thus we have three people in the equation: The speaker of truth, God, and the individual in error. Even if the first two do everything necessary, the person in error may still choose to remain in bondage. The speaker of Truth is only one third of the equation, and we must understand and accept that we cannot control, manipulate, cajole or force people to change.

Our true attitude and motive is often revealed when people choose to continue in error, even when they have been given Truth. Only those who weep and mourn for those who choose to continue in error have the right to speak in the first place. Those who hurl accusations, malign, slander, and feel a sense of justification have no right to speak.

Should we, then, not point out error and name those who propagate error? What about Jesus cleansing the temple and his comments about the Pharisees? I will get to these questions in the next article; but for now, let’s check our attitude. Are we speaking from a heart of brokenness, humility, love, compassion and pity? Or from a platform of pride and superiority -- “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector” (Luke 18:12)?

(To be continued)

The Truth:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
(1 Corinthians 13:1)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"At first it may seem like totalitarianism"

The following statement comes from Rick Joyner with Dutch Sheets on the June 19, 2007 Elijah List newsletter entitled "THE TRUE SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS ARE MOBILIZING. THE CHURCH IS ABOUT TO BE CLOTHED WITH A BEAUTY THAT IS BEYOND THIS WORLD!"


The kingdom of God will not be socialism, but a freedom even greater than anyone on earth knows at this time.
At first it may seem like totalitarianism, as the Lord will destroy the antichrist spirit now dominating the world with "the sword of His mouth" and will shatter many nations like pottery. However, fundamental to His rule is II Corinthians 3:17, "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." Instead of taking away liberties and becoming more domineering, the kingdom will move from a point of necessary control while people are learning truth, integrity, honor, and how to make decisions, to increasing liberty so that they can.

God created mankind to be free, and that is our most natural state, which is why He put the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden. It was not to cause Adam and Eve to fall, but there could be no true obedience unless there was an opportunity to disobey.
Likewise, there can be no true worship unless there is the freedom not to worship. Otherwise, the Lord would have done better to have just created a computer instead of man and programmed the computers to worship Him! What kind of worship would that be? Freedom is required for true worship, true obedience, and true relationship.

The kingdom will start out necessarily authoritative in many ways, or in many areas,
but will move toward increasing liberty--
so do all true churches and movements that are advancing toward the kingdom. You may have to be very controlling of toddlers, but the older they get, the more they can be trusted, and the more freedom they should have if they are going to develop into true maturity, which requires personal responsibility.

Those who are here to help prepare the way for the coming of the kingdom, which includes all Christians who are alive now, can learn much from the fall of the Iron Curtain.
The same lessons can apply in a local church when ministering to those coming out of a spiritually or emotionally controlling relationship or prison. However, we must start thinking bigger. The Great Commission is to make disciples, not just converts, and of nations, not just individuals. Those who are called to rule and reign with Him must start thinking much bigger. [bold and blue color in original, red added for emphasis

This statement above is an extraordinary admission! The dominionists who are building the kingdom of God on Earth will usher in their kingdom on their white horses crying "peace, peace!" But here is an acknowledgment that the red horse of force, might and control lurks just behind the scenes. In this article the false prophets are preparing their troops for what is to come. Dominionism "Lite" always promises peace and prosperity, and a nice-sounding Christian culture or government. But Dominionism "Dark," which is the only way that dominionism can truly be enforced, is always totalitarian. You can't "make" disciples or "convert" whole nations" unless you use force. This is war.

Last Friday's post, "The 7-M Mandate'" connects to this statement above. So does the June 5th post, "The Tyranny of 3-Legged Branding." Lance Wallnau, who is now working with C. Peter Wagner on a global dominionism project using the motif of 7 mountains (or "spheres"), has proposed a strategy whereby

"a very small minority of people. . . as small as 3-5% . . . can control how the agenda works in a nation and thus create or dominate the culture.

"He also makes a rather shocking statement....

"He says leaders of countries are not looking for Christian solutions to their cultural problems. But what they ARE looking for represents a *massive* time-sensitive opportunity for Christians to have a platform to impact and disciple entire countries of our world today." [Os Hillman, "Weekly Resource Offer," June 18]

To understand the significance of this, visit this video clip of Lance Wallnau describing this Dominionism strategy. This shocking clip is part of Os Hillman's Church in the Workplace Conference planned for January 24-26, 2008. Os Hillman is a major leader in the marketplace transformation movement, a key area of focus for Dominionism to be imposed upon other nations of the Earth via corporate business mechanisms. This literally has to do with changing governments of other nations. This isn't Dominionism Lite!

The conference promo states:

"Three decades ago, two 'generals' in the Christian faith... Loren Cunningham, of Youth With A Mission, and Bill Bright, of Campus Crusade For Christ... were given a simultaneous supernatural message for each other. They both saw 7 strategic mountains, or 'mind molders', that shape the culture of every nation. God told each of them to inform the other that if they could capture these strategic places, they would reap the harvest of nations. These 7 mountains of societal influence are...






[bold added]

To understand the rationale that undergirds this marketplace dominionism "mandate," read the statement by Os Hillman in a letter to his supporters in April:

"When Jesus died on the cross the Bible says that 'the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost' (Luke 19:10). That means we are to restore the spiritual foundations that Jesus laid all the way back to the Garden of Eden. It is through faith in Jesus and bringing His Kingdom into the seven key areas of society that we will do this.

"When God called the people of Israel out of Egypt to form a new nation in the Promised Land, He told them that they would be the head --- not the tail --- if they obeyed the commands of the Lord. He told them to divide the land into seven parts (Joshua 18:5). They would also have to displace seven enemies that currently resided in the Promised Land." [bold added]

This heretical teaching misapplies Jesus's salvation of lost souls with "restoring" what was "lost" at the Fall of Man. It negates the work of the Cross. It falsely empowers man to complete the work that Jesus didn't finish, which is utter blasphemy. At the foundation of this Dominionist heresy is the belief that man can return to Paradise conditions in Genesis 1 by building the Kingdom of God on Earth. Nowhere is this taught by Jesus. This is not what the Kingdom of God is all about.

At the top of this post we have a frank admission that this Kingdom will "at first. . . seem like totalitarianism." Hardly Paradise for those poor souls in 3rd World countries who are the recipients of the machinations and devices of marketplace transformation.

The Truth:

"And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth." (Revelation 17:9)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Not to Quarrel

Part 3: Contending Contentiously
by Anton Bosch

“…avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will."

(2Timothy 2:23-26).

These verses are a clear and unequivocal command: The servant of the Lord is to avoid disputes and must not quarrel, but be gentle to all. There are no exceptions, ifs or buts. It does not say we are not to quarrel except with those who are heretics and only be gentle to those who agree with us. We are not to quarrel. Period. We are to be gentle to ALL, including the heretics and “those who are in opposition.”

I know that some will quote various other Scriptures of what Jesus and Paul may have done. But these verses from Timothy are a direct command to us, equal to the Ten or any other direct command in the New Testament. Those who claim that the Bible sanctions ungracious, vindictive and rude behavior are blatantly disobedient to this very clear instruction. Such disobedience places them at the same level as those whose doctrine they condemn. They choose to ignore certain Scriptures and to emphasize others, exactly the same thing that those with the bad attitude and “right” doctrine do. We had better remove the splint first.

It is important to note, however that the injunction to “…avoid foolish and ignorant disputes… [to] not quarrel but be gentle to all…” is specifically to the “servant of the Lord.” Those who ignore these verses must therefore disqualify themselves from being servants of the Lord.

Paul lists four aspects of our attitude that need to be in place when we try to correct someone else’s doctrine. Today's post will cover the first three:

1) First, we are to be gentle to all. For “gentle” some expositors use the word “like a baby,” meaning that we should be harmless, without guile, and gentle as a baby would be! The Greek word for “gentle” in this passage is also used by Paul to describe his attitude to the Thessalonians: “we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” (1Thessalonians 2:7). That’s right – Paul expects us to display the same kind of gentleness towards those who are in opposition as a mother does towards her baby! Yes, I know that is very far from what many do, but this is the clear teaching of the Word. The reason for this lies in verses 26 and 27 which I will explain in the next couple of weeks.

2) Second, Paul expects us to be “able to teach.” This is the same requirement he places on those who wish to be overseers in the church: "A bishop must be... apt to teach" (1Timothy 3:2). There is a huge difference between those who are skilled in teaching and those who know many facts. Someone who is skilled at teaching teaches others. One cannot be a teacher without ever coming face-to-face with students, learners or disciples. You cannot be a teacher in a vacuum, your study, or your academic ivory tower. You can only be a teacher when you impart wisdom (not knowledge) to disciples.

Unfortunately, it has been my observation that many (not all) who get involved in apologetics ministries are not skilled at teaching. They live in isolation since they believe that they alone have the truth. People like this often find it hard to relate to other people, let alone impart wisdom to others. Thus many of them sit in their glass houses, discern error and point fingers at those around them.

Let me be very clear on this: No one who is not involved in a local church (no matter how small), and who does not regularly teach the Truth, has the right to teach against error! There is no mention of a fault-finding, or critical ministry in the Bible. It is those who are “apt to teach” the Truth, who also then point out the error and warn concerning the wolves.

The reason for this is that daily interface with others, especially weak believers, helps to keep us humble, dependent on the Holy Spirit and in touch with the real issues of Christian living. There is nothing like relating to the weaknesses, problems and challenges of “normal” Christians to keep our ministries out of the area of theory and the academic. And there is nothing like the difficulty of imparting Biblical Truth to struggling believers to keep us aware of our own frailty and dependence on the Lord.

Every spectator on the sidelines of a sports game knows better how to play the game than anyone on the field! Yet there is no room for arm-chair critics in the church – only for those who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty with the vomit and diapers of new babes.

3) Thirdly we are to be “patient.” Most commentators say of “patient” that it means to be “patient of ills and wrongs, forbearing” and “putting up with evil.” That does not mean we must condone or accept wrongs and evil but, rather, that we should be patient with those who are wrong. This goes with the previous point on being apt to teach.

One of the most important skills in teaching is patience since many disciples are slow to learn and often make mistakes. Patience is even more necessary when dealing with those who are in error since it takes a long time to turn a ship around that is on the wrong course. Teaching babes is relatively easy as they are often a “blank slate” on which we can simply write the Truth. But when dealing with those who are in error, we must first delete the error before we can begin to write the Truth. This takes much more patience than teaching spiritual babes. If you do not have the patience to teach young Christians, then you will also not have the patience to correct those who are into error.

Let me hasten to emphasize: I am not condoning error or heresy, neither am I unaware of the enormous damage false teachers have done and are doing. But unless we go about the task of defending the Truth in a godly way, we are wasting our time since the Lord is not working with us.

(To be continued)

The Truth:

"Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. . . . Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:9-10; 21)

[If you have been blessed by this series, you might enjoy Anton Bosch's book Building Blocks of the Church, recently published, which examines the application of many more New Testament Scriptures to the functioning of churches and our Christian life.]

Friday, June 15, 2007

The "7-M Mandate"

"Our theological bedrock is what has been known as Dominion Theology. This means that our divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God's creation which Adam forfeited to Satan in the Garden of Eden. It is nothing less than seeing God's kingdom coming and His will being done here on earth as it is in heaven."
--C. Peter Wagner, letter, May 31, 2007, red added.

C. Peter Wagner is writing a book with the title of Dominion! It appears that everything he has been working on will be culminating in his forthcoming book. For several decades he has been the architect of many new heresies which have been widely disseminated and infused throughout the global mission movement, leadership training, and charismatic mass media.

Bluntly stated, Wagner describes this dominionism:

"Our goal, in a word, is transformation. The first stage in this goal is personal transformation because each saint must be prepared to do his or her part in the process of taking dominion. . . .

"Our assignment. . . is to help as many people as possible move their primary focus from self or church to kingdom.

"Which leads us to the second stage of the goal of transformation, namely corporate or social transformation. We want to see whole cities and regions and states and nations transformed to support the values of the kingdom of God."

There is a new motif for describing the transformation, which Wagner has borrowed from Lance Wallnau, who once had his own apostolic network but is now a member of Wagner's International Coalition of Apostles. Rather than use the term spheres for describing the elements of society which must be transformed by dominionism, these men are now using the term mountains. Wagner writes:

"In my view it is not possible to get an operational handle on how to initiate corporate action toward social transformation without taking into account the seven mountains or what I like to call 'molders of culture.' The seven are religion, family, business, arts & entertainment, government, education, and media."

These "spheres," now renamed "mountains," which focus dominionism's activities into different arenas of society, are based on the teachings of Abraham Kuyper and his theory of "sphere sovereignty." This influenced the Coalition on Revival's dominionist "sphere documents" produced during the 1980s. Some of these "spheres," and the corresponding dominionist plans for a revolution of society, are described in Al Dager's book Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion (Sword, 1990). Kuyper's theologies undergird the "worldview" movement, which is promulgated by the political dominionists and Reconstructionists.

In a recent action related to dominionism, C. Peter Wagner posted his new Global Apostolic Network online. Here one can see his downline network structure, which accounts in part for his widespread influence in the church. This global conglomerate will facilitate the further dissemination of the revolutionary doctrines of dominionism.

The Truth:

"Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?" (Habakkuk 1:17)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Argumentative or Contending?

Part 2: Contentiously Contending

Anton Bosch, a seasoned pastor and church planter of over 30 years, author of Building Blocks of the Church, has been working on a series of convicting articles about the sometimes "contentious" nature of contending for the faith.

It is true that discernment and apologetic work can be difficult and frustrating in these last days of perilous times when so many have "departed from the faith." (1Timothy 4:1). We see people who are "giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron" (1Timothy 4:1-2) We live in the days where people "will not endure sound doctrine". . . and they "turn away their ears from the truth" (2Timothy 4:3-4).

How important it is, then, that we "do not become weary in well doing" (Galatians 6:9). Scriptures exhort us to "take heed unto thyself and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" and then to "hold fast the form of sound words. . . . in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus" (1Timothy 4:16, 2Timothy 1:13).

Speaking and defending the truth are some of the most important responsibilities of the church, its leaders and, all believers. There are many who propagate error and there are a few who stand for doctrinal purity. But, as we established last week, we must contend for the faith by the right method and with the right attitude. To this end, Paul provides some very clear instructions:

We are to “avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2Timothy 2:23). This does not only apply to our relationship with those who are likeminded but especially, to those who are of a different persuasion. Obviously we do not have disputes with those who believe like we do – the disputes are with those with whom we disagree. The context also makes it clear that this instruction applies when we relate to “those who are in opposition.” (2Timothy 2:23) and with those who have been entrapped by the devil (v 26).

Sometimes I think that many people who get into apologetic type ministries do so simply because they love an argument. Even if that was not what got them into this kind of work, it seems to be what motivates them. Many just love the excitement of the scrap, and they get their kicks out of proving how right they are and how wrong others are. I know a few who will disagree with anything one says – just to pick an argument. (If you are irritated by this article, you may well be one of these.) Others enjoy the fact that engaging in debate makes them feel intellectual, while others just must have the last word. Then there are those who just have to win every argument and who, like bulldogs, cannot release once their jaws have locked onto the prey.

Paul is specific: we are to avoid those arguments that lead to strife. Even as I write, I know someone is rushing to remind me that Paul refers to “foolish and ignorant disputes” and that arguments about the Truth cannot be “foolish and ignorant.” The fact is that it is the process of dispute or argument itself that is foolish and ignorant, not the subject. On several occasions, Paul warns Timothy not to argue over words and the Law but rather to concentrate on things that are edifying:

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. (1Timothy 1:4)

But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7)

In 1Timothy 6:4-5, Paul links this argumentative attitude with pride. He instructs Titus to do the same: “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11). This does not mean that we should not defend the truth, nor even take a strong position against error. The problem Paul is addressing is the argumentative spirit, which is often a sign of immaturity. In 2 Timothy 22 & 23, Paul links argumentativeness with youthful lusts since it is the younger men who tend to love the fights. Maturity in Christ brings a meekness and wisdom that restrains the carnal instinct to fight.

The Scribes loved to squabble. Their whole lives centered around argument, debate and questioning. They often tried to engage Jesus in endless arguments, but Jesus knew better than waste His time arguing with people who were not really interested in the Truth. He would exchange a few questions with them, but would quickly close the discussion by honing in on a very important flaw in their argument or by pointing out the hypocrisy in their statements.

Jesus would spend endless hours teaching His disciples and others who really wanted to know the Truth. He was infinitely patient with the sinners, the weak and the genuine “seekers.” Yet He had no time to waste on those who were arrogant, self-seeking and opinionated. One of the most important skills we need is to discern between those who really want to know the Truth and those who are simply seeking an endorsement for their own theories and error.

It seems to me that we often forget that our calling is not to win arguments, but to teach, make disciples and clearly define the Truth for those who are disciples or really want to be disciples. Many Christians will spend endless hours arguing with Jehovah's Witnesses and Atheists, knowing full well that the other person is not really interested in the truth. It is simply a waste of time. For example, I think it was Josh MacDowell who teaches to ask the evolutionist or atheist the following question: “If I can prove that God exists and that He created all things, would you believe on Him and surrender your life to Him?” Most of the time the response will be “No.”

So, then, what is the purpose of a protracted argument if the other party is not really interested in knowing the Truth (The Person)? There is no point – don’t waste your time. Rather give him the Gospel as clearly and logically as possible and leave it there. In most instances the other person will be quite happy to be rid of you by now. The Hypocrites did not stick around to debate Jesus on the intricacies of the Law after he said: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).

It seems to me that the difference between Jesus and us is that everything He said was led by the Spirit while we often respond out of our fleshly desires to prove ourselves. If only we could be led by the Spirit on every occasion to discern whether we are dealing with an honest seeker of Truth or not. But even more important is that we be led by the Spirit to say the right things and to stop arguing before we begin to war in the flesh, against the flesh. But even more important is that we exhibit the right attitude of meekness, humility and wisdom.

Please take a few minutes to consider whether the wisdom you often display is true, heavenly wisdom, or the false, earthly and demonic wisdom:

"Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:13-18).

Indeed, both arguments may appear wise and clever and both may even be founded on the Bible, but one is Godly and one is demonic.

(To be continued)


"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth."
(2Timothy 2:24-25)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Tyranny of 3-Legged Branding

"The project of transforming culture into little more than a collection of brand-extensions-in-waiting would not have been possible without the deregulation and privatization policies of the past three decades."
--Naomi Klein, No Logo (Picador, 2002), p. 30.

"In July of [1998], Indonesian president B.J. Habibie urged his 200 million citizens to do their part to conserve the country's dwindling rice supply by fasting for two days out of each week, from dawn until dusk. Development built on starvation wages, far from kick-starting a steady improvement in conditions, has proved to be a case of one step forward, three steps back."
-- Ibid, p. 228

"The three-legged model of cooperation is something we call the P.E.A.C.E. plan. . . ."
--Rick Warren, "The Power of Parishioners," Forbes, 5/7/07.

The godfather of the privatization movement was none other than Peter Drucker, whose leadership ideologies and methods were transmitted to an entire generation of evangelical pastors trained by Bob Buford's Leadership Network. As this blog has extensively documented, the influence of Leadership Network has been vast and pervasive, realigning the modern evangelical churches to Drucker's model.

A key facet of Drucker, who has been called a "social ecologist," is that his vision extended far beyond business management and leadership. He looked forward to a total transformation of what he called "Society," his 3-legged concept of how man should be organized into the institutions of State, Private and Corporate sectors. The Church must become re-fashioned according to Drucker's corporate institutional mold, and performance-driven. The Church would become empowered by collaborating with the other 2 legs of the stool.

In a fascinating Preface to his 2007 book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices (Transaction Publishers), Drucker articulated his view that "it is only in the large organizations that there exist plentiful opportunities to make a living through knowledge, to make a contribution through knowledge, and to achieve through knowledge." He then wrote the astounding statement that:

"Tyranny is the only alternative to strong, performing autonomous institutions. Tyranny substitutes one absolute boss for the pluralism of competing institutions. It substitutes terror for responsibility. It does indeed do away with the institutions, but only by submerging all of them in the one all-embracing bureaucracy of the apparat. It does produce goods and services, though only fitfully, wastefully, at a low level, and at an enormous cost in suffering, humiliation, and frustration. To make our institutions perform responsibly, autonomously, and on a high level of achievement is thus the only safeguard of freedom and dignity in the pluralist society of institutions.

"But it is managers and management that make institutions perform. Performing, responsibly management is the alternative to tyranny and our only protection against it." (pp. ix-x) [bold added]

Obviously this statement has spiritual ramifications, as Drucker's 3-legged institutional structure is portrayed as the antidote to tyranny. Bob Buford of Leadership Network agreed with this in a letter to Drucker about his legacy:

"You have accomplished so much of the mission which is set forth in the preface to your large book -- that management and well-functioning systems would provide an ALTERNATIVE TO TYRANNY. There will be plenty of challenges from tyranny in the future. Management will remain important as a major factor in preserving our way of life. You are its chief architect."

But is Drucker's 3-legged management an antidote to tyranny? Ironically, it was Drucker's idealized world of "knowledge workers" and a "knowledge economy" on this side of the ocean that gave birth to sweat shop economies on the other side of the planet. The elite corps of highly-skilled, performance-based, white collar knowledge workers that built a logo-driven branded culture were juxtaposed in No Logo against poverty-ridden young sweat shop workers, mostly women, who were forced to undergo pregnancy tests in "Free-Trade Zones." Naomi Klein watched the knowledge economy build, especially through the lens of corporate branding and marketing. She then traveled the Third World to see the other side of the story. Who was actually making the logoed items that everyone was wearing and using? What were their working conditions? What she found was horrifying and scandalous.

Drucker's vision of a utopian "Knowledge Society" comes to a screeching halt as Klein describes "industrial slums and low wage labor ghettos of "Export Processing Zones" (EPZ), pieces of land that become "denationalized" and deregulated. Reading chapter 9 of No Logo, "The Discarded Factory," and chapter 14 "Bad Moon Rising," unlocks the dark side of marketplace transformation, privatization, and the new global economy. The very corporations that put on a pretty face in the U.S. through aggressive marketing were often the worst abusers of human rights on the other side of the world -- hidden from scrutiny, making their profits, and restructuring according to Drucker's supposed tyranny-proof management model.

If there was a "tyranny" going on, it was precisely because of the newly-forged collaborations between the 3 legs of the stool! Klein discusses how global corporations invest in third world governments, persuading them to ignore human rights in favor of "development." One leg scratches the back of the other leg. And while Drucker was out championing "transparency" and "accountability," the very watch dogs for corporate abuse turned out to be in cahoots with those who stood to profit the most by ignoring it. (See "Beyond the Brand, especially pages 433-437 for a thorough discussion of this issue.) Klein concludes with this troubling observation:

"There is something Orwellian about the idea of turning the enforcement of basic human rights into a multinational industry, as the private codes would do, to be checked like any other quality control. Global labor and environmental standards should be regulated by laws and governments -- not by a consortium of transnational corporations and their accountants, all following the advice of their PR firms. The bottom line is that corporate codes of conduct -- whether drafted by individual companies or by groups of them, whether independently monitored mechanisms or useless pieces of paper -- are not democratically controlled laws. Not even the toughest self-imposed code can put the multinationals in the position of submitting to collective outside authority. On the contrary, it gives them unprecedented power of another sort: the power to draft their own privatized legal systems, to investigate and police themselves, as quasi nation-states." (p. 437)

Why Is This Disturbing?

Why is this relevant to a discussion of heresy? Because the trilateral partnership envisioned by Drucker has arrived at the front doorstep of the evangelical church world. Rick Warren, mentored by Drucker, is building a Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan that partners with the two other legs of the stool. And Ed Silvoso's and C. Peter Wagner's Marketplace Transformation movement does the same thing. Elsewhere, it has been noted that Drucker held to the premise that human worth is based on "human capital." Rather than resisting such an offensive idea, so far it appears that the evangelical leaders have committed it to action. All in the name of building 3-legged "relationships."

In fact, many of Rick Warren's 2nd Reformation "partners" are cited for their anti-human rights activities and beliefs in No Logo. Jeffrey Sachs is cited as one of a number of economists who put "spin on the mounting revelations of corporate abuse, claiming that sweatshops are not a sign of eroded rights but a signal that prosperity is just around the corner" (p. 228) And then there is Bill Gates, who has treated his own employees like corporate "assets" (p. 254). Not to mention the accomplice roles of various NGOs, G-8, and relevant UN agencies. The point is that many of these partnering institutions, presumably built upon the anti-tyranny management model of Drucker, have a dismal record.

With partners like this, can the Church set a truly compassionate agenda? Or will all of this partnering degenerate into mutual back-scratching, nation-building, and coffer-filling? In fact, will the Church merely function as the water-boy for the multinationals and the governments they control? Who is funding all of this P.E.A.C.E.? The potential exists for Rick Warren's global "distribution system" to be utterly compromised by its "partnering" with Corporate and State legs -- locally, nationally, and even globally. Rick Warren wrote:

"At the World Economic Forum in Davos you will hear endlessly recited the importance of public and private partnerships in attacking global problems. While that is certainly essential, it is not enough. Neither business nor government has the universal distribution, the army of volunteers or the credibility in villages to get the job done. A one- or two-legged stool will fall over. You need three legs."

Will this 3-legged, institutionalized, networked, corporatized, branded global church be an antidote to "tyranny"? Or, will it perpetuate "tyranny" in the name of compassion?

The Truth:

A generation ago Dr. Francis Schaeffer penned the following warning:

". . .[W]ill we resist authoritarian government in all its forms regardless of the label it carries and regardless of its origin?

"Here is a sentence to memorize: To make no decision in regard to the growth of authoritarian government is already a decision for it."*

The day is now upon us when the institutional global Church has entangled itself in partnerships to the extent that it cannot possibly function as the prophetic voice against "tyranny" in the world. The prophet Amos warned:

"Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right." (Amos 5:11-12)

*How Should We Then Live, (Fleming H. Revell Co., 1976), p. 256-257.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Contentiously Contending

Anton Bosch has begun an excellent series on the topic of contending for the faith. Below is part one:

Contentiously Contending

Jude urges us “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Many have found this verse a wonderful excuse to be argumentative, contentious, vindictive, loud, aggressive, mean, nasty and antagonistic as they vigorously pursue all who do not agree with their version of the truth. But is this really what Jude meant? While Jude makes this statement, he does not elaborate on how we are to contend. For this we need to look at the rest of the New Testament. Many build an entire ministry, and excuse their bad attitude, based on this single word. Doing so is as wrong as any error they may be standing against since they take this word out of the context of the general teaching of the Bible.

Jesus is our prime example and there is not a single reference to Him becoming ungracious in His interface with the enemies of the Gospel. Even when contending with the Devil in the wilderness He simply quoted the Word in a defensive manner. He never went over to the offense, and He did not resort to calling the Devil names or attacking him personally. Jesus exhibited the same restraint in firmly standing for truth against the Scribes, Pharisees and even the Romans. The reality is that He did not have anything to prove. He was secure in His ministry and mission, and in Who He was. It seems to me that those who take the battle personally, and who resort to malicious attacks on those who believe and teach error, are insecure in who they are and in what they believe, and therefore need to prove themselves by discrediting everyone else around them.

One of the things that distinguished the unconverted Saul from the converted Paul was the aggression of the first and the meekness (not weakness) of the second. He changed from being the pursuer to being pursued, and from the aggressor to the defender. Yes, he never hesitated to defend the truth and was very forthright in denouncing evil, but that malicious streak was left behind on the Damascus Road. He understood that he was “…appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:17). The Faith was something that needed to be defended, and not to be forced on those who had no interest in truth. Is it possible that those who aggressively seek to force their point of view on others have not been converted and are contending in the flesh? There is little difference between such people and the radical Muslim, Nazi or other extremist. It seems to me the attitude and method is the same, it’s just the ideology that is different.

Then there are those who use Ephesians 6:17 as an excuse to use the Word as a dagger and a knife to cut, stab and maim those that cross their path. But this verse gives absolutely no sanction to use the Bible to cut and hurt other people. In fact, the context is clear that the armor is to be used in our struggle against the Devil and his demons, and specifically excludes flesh and blood from the battle (Ephesians 6:11&12). There is no verse in the Bible that gives us the right to use the Bible as a sword against people. Even when contending with Satan, the Sword is primarily a defensive weapon. Anyone who has watched a fencing match or a sword fight in the movies will recognize that ninety-nine per cent of the time the sword is used defensively to ward off the opponent’s attacks. Only rarely is it actually used to lunge or attack.

Remember again how Jesus used the Scriptures against the Devil: He simply quoted the Scriptures and defended His position – He never attacked. Thus, those who use the Bible to cut and stab other people are wrong on two counts. It was the carnal, unconverted Peter who used the sword to slash the man’s ear off but it was Christ Who stuck the ear back on again (Luke 22:50-51). It was on the same occasion that Jesus warned that “all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Those who use the Bible as a sword to maim, kill and attack are declaring that they are more like the unregenerate Peter than the Savior.

Neither does the end justify the means. It does not matter how noble your cause may be – if you go about it in an un-Christ-like carnal way you will not have the Lord’s blessing but will rather fall afoul of His judgment. “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:2) and “judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13).

Now before you accuse me of saying that we should not stand for truth against error – that is not what I am saying. We must contend for the faith, defend the Gospel and point out error. But the attitude and method with which we do so are of utmost importance. Yes, just as important as the what is the how. We must speak the truth, but we must do so with love. (Ephesians 4:15). I am afraid that I see a few speak the truth, but of those few most speak the truth with hate, anger, bitterness, arrogance and vindictiveness. It does not matter how much truth you speak; if you do so with the wrong attitude you are wasting your time. The Lord will not honor you and He will not bless your words. 1Corinthians 13 is abundantly clear that it does not matter how great your (Bible) knowledge, how much you speak, how many books or articles you have written or what sacrifices you have made – even to martyrdom. If you have not been driven by a love for those you address, you have wasted your time and you are just another big noise.

What is it that motivates you to defend the truth? Some do so out of a love for themselves, and others because they love to be right and love to prove how wrong others are. The only legitimate motivation is love for the Lord Jesus, love for His Word and love for those who are lost. If you are not motivated by a love for all three, you are wasting everyone’s time – rather get into politics or something else, but forget about speaking for the Lord Jesus. Unless we love what He loves and hate what He hates we have no right to speak on His behalf. Yes, He does hate error, but He hates arrogance even more, and He loves the sinner and the heretic. Until we genuinely love and weep for the heretics, we have no right to speak to or about them. How dare we claim to represent the One who laid down His life for us when we are more interested in proving how right we are than saving those who are lost and going astray?

(To be continued. . . )

Anton Bosch is 30-plus-year veteran of preaching and church-planting. His new book Building Blocks of the Church is a primer on how to get a new church started. For the many Herescope readers who have fled apostate churches, this book is a helpful tool for getting your life back on a biblical course. It also works well as a Bible study curricula. Available from Discernment Ministries @ 903-567-6423 or

The Truth:

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:13-16)