Monday, August 27, 2007

Emerging Arrogance

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;"
--2 Timothy 3:1-4

Daily we are inundated with a flood of evangelical literature and e-mails and website postings that all indicate a crazy new form of arrogance flaunted by Christian leaders. Much of this is new doctrine -- under various guises, with inventive interpretations that suit the need of the moment. Perhaps nowhere is this most evident than in the new teachings on so-called "servant leadership."

But before we point the finger, we need to look within. Anton Bosch's most recent devotional focuses within first. How much of the leaven of our age has permeated our thinking, our beliefs, our lifestyles, our doctrines, our practices, our interpretation of Scriptures? See for yourself. . . . .

Arrogant: Who, Me?

Do you think you are humble? Have you overcome pride? If your answer is positive, then you are arrogant and proud! Only those who continue to be aware of pride in their lives have any hope of being humble. Those who think they have achieved humility have missed it by a mile.

“But pride is a small sin in comparison to murder, adultery and addictions.” Well, that’s what most people think. But pride is the worst of all sins and lies at the root of all other sins. It prevents the sinner from seeking God’s grace and forgiveness (Psalm 10:4). It spoils our relationships (Proverbs 13:10) and stops us from learning anything (1Timothy 6:4). Pride was behind the fall of Satan (Isaiah 14:12-14) and pride was part of the equation that led to Eve eating the forbidden fruit (1John 2:16). Pride caused Cain to slay Abel and pride prevented the Jews from recognizing their Messiah.

We cannot begin to understand how destructive pride is to every aspect of our life. And we do not comprehend how it infiltrates every area of our emotions, thoughts and actions. Pride is not a minor flaw of our personalities – it is the most evil and most pervasive of all sins.

We need to see how God views pride if we are to understand how serious it is. James 4:6 and 1Peter 5:5 both say: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” These verses do not qualify the statement by saying that God resists the unbeliever who is proud. God resists all who are proud – believer and unbeliever alike. Romans 8:31 says that “If God is for us, who can be against us?” But the reverse of this verse is too awful to contemplate: If God is against us, who can help us? And God is against the proud. So who will help or defend them. God says: “The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure” (Psalm 101:5). This is not a minor “problem” this is the worst of all sins and must be eradicated from our hearts.

The Tempter has always been very good at rebranding and repackaging sin in more acceptable guises. Thus pride has been renamed as self-assurance, self-worth, self-esteem good self-image, self-confidence, assertiveness, coolness and so on. But it is all the same old ugly sin of pride. (Any word that has self in it is simply another word for pride.) Churches have been so deceived that many are preaching that pride is a good and acceptable quality and that Christians should be confident and have a good self-image. This is not the message of the Lord, but the message of the Devil who seeks to bring everyone under the same condemnation that he is under (1Timothy 3:6). Already in the Old Testament Malachi spoke of those who camouflage this sin as a positive quality when he said: “So now we call the proud blessed” (Malachi 3:15).

Solomon says that there are six things that God hates, and seven that are an abomination to Him. The first of these is “a proud look” (Proverbs 6:17). Proverbs 16:5 says: “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” Pride is so serious that it is listed along with all the other filthy sins as evidence of a reprobate mind (Romans 1:30, 2Timothy 3:2).

Just as the law of gravity determines that what goes up must come down, God’s laws determine that all who are proud will be brought low and will be humbled. There are literally dozens of scriptures in both the Old and New Testament that explain that pride will always lead to humiliation and a fall. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:18-19). “A man's pride will bring him low" (Proverbs 29:23).

Many modern churches are more concerned with growing their numbers than preaching truth. Thus their preachers continue to build people up in their boastful arrogance since that makes people feel good and brings them back to the church. Preaching messages that reveal the sin of pride, self-achievement and arrogance are unpopular and therefore are seldom preached. That is why many modern Christians are deluded into believing that God is happy with their arrogance and why few seek true humility.

To aggravate this problem, most preachers swagger about in their egotistical conceit, filled with their own self-importance. Thus they set an example which the believers falsely assume to be signs of greatness! Personally, I have no interest in meeting ministers and pastors since I mostly come away from such meetings disgusted by these displays of self-importance and arrogance. Even when the preacher is not preaching, it takes a few minutes of observation to figure out who the pastor is. How can we identify him? By the self assertive way he handles himself and by the way people kowtow to him. This is certainly not the example Jesus set and has more in common with the attitude of Lucifer than of Jesus. May the Lord have mercy on His church!

One of the delusions that flow from pride is that we think we can hide it under a cloak of false humility. But like the elephant hiding in the strawberry patch, pride cannot be hidden. It is always glaringly evident no matter how humble and meek we try to act. For some reason humility is the hardest thing to counterfeit. The falseness of fake humility is always glaring as pride shows through the veneer of servanthood. When an arrogant person tries to act humble he looks like a 300 pound man trying to wear a toddler’s clothes – it just does not fit.

The message of the Bible is one of brokenness, humility and meekness. The very foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:3-5). Jesus said: “Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29). Only the humble receive grace (James 4:6 and 1Peter 5:5). David got it right when he said: “A broken and a contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17).

The blinding effect of pride is probably most evident in your life by the fact that as you read this, you are thinking of how it applies to other people you know. Be honest now. Have you read these paragraphs and felt instant conviction? There is hope for you. Have you read these paragraphs and immediately thought that it applies to others more than to yourself? If so, you are in serious trouble and you don’t even know it!

The Truth:

"Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?" (Matthew 7:4)

Evangelism: Only the Spirit Can Give Sight

"But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them." --2 Corinthians 4:3-4

The uncomprehending mind is unaffected by truth. The intellect of the hearer may grasp saving knowledge while yet the heart makes no moral response to it. A classic example of this is seen in the story of Benjamin Franklin and George Whitefield. In his autobiography Franklin recounts in some detail how he listened to the mighty preaching of the great evangelist. He even walked around the square where Whitefield stood to learn for himself how far that golden voice carried. Whitefield talked with Franklin personally about his need of Christ and promised to pray for him. Years later Franklin wrote rather sadly that the evangelist's prayers must not have done any good, for he was still unconverted....

The inward operation of the Holy Spirit is necessary to saving faith.

The gospel is light but only the Spirit can give sight. When seeking to bring the lost to Christ we must pray continually that they may receive the gift of seeing. And we must pit our prayer against that dark spirit who blinds the hearts of men.

A. W. Tozer
From: Renewed Day by Day, Volume One

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Looking forward 150 years to now

J. C. Philpot's MEDITATIONS ON VARIOUS IMPORTANT POINTS OF OUR MOST HOLY FAITH was written at a pivotal time in 1800s history when the rumblings of modern science and philosophies were beginning to be felt in the church.

We thought our readers would appreciate reading this in the context of the recent series we did on the Doctrines of Dominionism. Below is a fascinating, almost prophetic account of what lay ahead for the church in the days to come.


. . . As believers in general, we are bidden “to hold forth the word of life,: (Phil. 1:16), and “to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints;” (Jude 3); and as servants of Christ in particular, we are to reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” And why? Because “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” (2 Tim. 4:2). And is not that time arrived? Was there ever a day when “men more turned their ears away from the truth, and were more turned unto fables?” Was there ever a day when the complaint of the prophet was more applicable: “Truth is fallen in the street and equity cannot enter?” (Isaiah 59:14). Yea, so fallen into the street that the professing no less than the profane world would gladly see both it and those who hold it swept away altogether into the common sewer, that both it and they might for ever disappear from the eyes of men, the one as an unclean thing too impure for the claims of modern holiness, and the other as too bigoted for the demands of an enlightened liberality.

But besides this general neglect and contempt of truth, there is another feature still more appalling. It is not merely “a day of trouble”—trouble to the Lord’s people, “and of rebuke”—in the frowns met with by honest truth, but “of blasphemy;” (Isaiah 37:3); for not only is the truth of God almost banished from the pulpit and the press, but its very foundations are fast being torn up, and this not as formerly by a few obscure infidels, but by learned divines in high places. Science is mustering all its arts and arms to undermine the veracity of the Bible; talent and learning are uniting all their strength openly to assault its authority; and a cheap press is lending its ready and powerful aid to give the utmost effect to these combined attacks upon the very foundation of all our hopes for eternity.

Meanwhile the professing Church stands as it were paralysed, not so much with fear—for that would imply some life—as with apathy. She has indeed a dim view of the approaching danger; but having lost her shield and sword by abandoning the truth, like a man in a dream she strikes her idle blows here and there, and after a show of resistance is even now almost ready to surrender into the hands of her enemies the second best gift of God to man—the inspired revelation of His mind and will in the Scriptures of truth.

And need we wonder that the Church, to whom has been entrusted the care of this sacred deposit, should be thus deserted of God when she has been so unfaithful to her trust? By departing from the truth of God she has virtually abandoned her charge. She has thrown away the jewel which gave the value to the casket; for of what value is the Bible separate from the truth of the Bible? When Hophni and Phinehas degrade and disgrace their priestly office, need we wonder that the ark should fall into the hands of the Philistines; or that an enemy should be seen in the house of the Lord’s habitation?

When men give up the truth of God they virtually give up the word of God. Those who deny the internal inspiration of the blessed Spirit are not far from denying the external inspiration of the Scriptures; and those who have no living faith in the incarnate Word cannot have faith in the written word.

There are, then, evident signs of an approaching compromise between the assailants and the defenders of the inspiration of the Scriptures. The Church and the world have long been coming closer and closer together, and now the last wall of separation is fast giving way. The verbal inspiration of the Scriptures will soon be openly or tacitly given up by the leaders of both the Church and Dissent; their example, as has invariably been the case in similar instances, will spread itself among the lower ranks of both bodies until there will be a general renunciation of the authority of the Bible as the word of the living God. With that renunciation the whole force and authority of the Scriptures will be gone; and then they will cease to be what they have been from the earliest period of time—a binding declaration from God to man.

Satan, indeed, with his usual craft, is hiding from the eyes of men the certain consequences of denying the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, for it is only as such that they are the word of God at all. Separate from this inspiration, we have no evidence that there is a heaven or a hell, or even a God, and the Scriptures are no more to us than the poems of Homer or the Vedas of the Brahmins.

Men speak justly of the formidable advance of Popery; but behind Popery there looms a much more terrible figure—Infidelity. Giants Pope and Pagan were great men in their day; but there is a greater giant to come—Giant Infidel. The Pope and Pagan giants warred against the body; but the Infidel giant wars against the soul. The weapons of Popery and Paganism were the rough and ready bodily application of fire and fagot, rack and thumbscrew; the weapons of infidelity are much more polished and quiet, but addressed with deadly effect to the intellect, and adapted to all classes of society. Scientific discussions of eminent geologists; annual meetings of learned societies in the large towns and prominent centres of civilization; Essays and Reviews from divines in high places or University professors, address themselves to the educated classes of society; whilst popular lectures, leading articles, half argument half bantor, in Sunday newspapers, trashy tales openly ridiculing religion and covertly advocating infidel principles, with a whole host of cheap publications of a similar character, serve up the same dish for the food and entertainment of the less educated masses.

We may seem to be going out of our usual path to notice these things; but a watchman should not be unobservant of the signs of the times, nor shut himself up in his sentry-box looking only in one direction. If there be a “coming struggle,” and if Infidelity be the last enemy of the Church, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. At any rate, if, when the Lord is about to bring a sword upon the land, the watchman see it coming, blow the trumpet, and warn the people, he delivers his own soul from blood, and it may be the souls of others from destruction.

But what we see now in the dim distance is but the beginning of the end. The mischief will not stop here. When the restraint of God’s word is gone, society has lost the most binding tie on the lusts and passions of men; for when there is no fear of judgment after death, what is there to keep men back from sin?

To what, then, are we called who have felt the power and authority of the word of God upon our hearts? To bind it more closely and warmly to our breast; to prize it in proportion to the attacks made upon it; to seek for clearer and more powerful manifestations of its truth and blessedness to our own soul, and, as called upon, to contend for it by tongue and pen. We feel, therefore, a growing desire to devote what remains of life and strength to the defence of the truth as it is in Jesus. . . .

[Excerpted from Meditations On Matters of Christian Faith and Experience, Vol. 3, by J.C. Philpot, pp. 2-6. (Old Paths Gospel Press, PO Box 318, Choteau, MT 59422). This excerpt has been reformatted for blog use.]

The Truth:

"The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Redemptive Analogies

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 10

"And yet all brings glory to God in its own special way, and that's true of human beings and cultures as well. . . . God is now calling forth from among the indigenous communities of the world that good deposit which He has made in them of their cultures, their languages, their musical expressions and all that sort of thing . . . as an expression of praise and worship to Himself."
--Terry LeBlanc, Word of the World program #542, cited in Idolatry in Their Hearts, p. 20 [emphasis added].

"To let indigenous people know that God lovingly created them exactly as He wanted them; that He has been with them and loved them throughout their history, that He left many treasures and worthy traditions within their culture, and that He desires they freely worship Him with, and celebrate, the beautiful and unique cultural expressions that flow from them."
--Daniel Kikawa, Aloha ke Akua website, cited in Idolatry in Their Hearts, p. 170 [emphasis added]

These quotations above represent the essence of a new doctrine that began emerging in the early 1970s which is now referred to as "Redemptive Analogies." This is the idea that God put a "good deposit" of "truth" in other cultures, analogous to something in Scriptures which could be "redeemed" for Gospel purposes. Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer, in their groundbreaking new book Idolatry in Their Hearts, cite extensive examples of this how this heresy has led to outright syncretism.

But this new teaching wasn't originally marketed to the evangelical world so blatantly as syncretism. Rather it was first sold to the missionaries as a way to make the Gospel more relevant in hard-to-reach cultures. A read of the early literature on the topic reveals that the concept was quite seductive, promising a new and more effective way of witnessing.

This doctrine is credited to Don Richardson, who authored Eternity in Their Hearts (1981, 1984, 2006) and Peace Child (Regal, 1975) -- two books which teach that God has embedded stories or practices in pagan cultures which can be utilized for the presentation of the Gospel. Richardson defined this new concept:

“The key God gave us to the heart of the Sawi people was the principle of redemptive analogy – the application to local custom of spiritual truth. The principle we discerned was that God had already provided for the evangelization of these people by means of redemptive analogies in their own culture. These analogies were our stepping-stones, the secret entryway by which the gospel came into the Sawi culture and started both a Spiritual and a social revolution from within.” (Peace Child [Regal, 1974], p. 10) [emphasis added]

A report from DAWN Ministries explains the significance of Don Richardson's new teaching:

"Have You Found Your 'Redemptive Analogy'?

"In his best-seller book, Peace Child, Don Richardson introduced Christians everywhere to the concept of “redemptive analogy.” He ultimately concluded in a later book that in every society there is some concept, some cultural given, that is similar in some way to the gospel message.

"If we can identify that, he observed, we can then establish a platform for effective communication of the gospel in a contextualized way to a particular people group.

"In the primitive society that he wrote about, warring tribes would commit themselves to peace when a child of one tribe was given to another tribe. This was the 'Peace Child.' The analogy is that God gave his son in order to bring peace between God and sinful man."

The Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization that met in 1974 brought this new idea to the attention of the world mission community. Ralph Winter wrote "The Highest Priority: Cross-Cultural Evangelism" which laid the theoretical groundwork for the Contextualization movement for this event, describing how the Gospel could be customized to fit the unique characteristics of each culture. He suggested that the only way that mission agencies could be effective would be to change their tactics and look at things through the lens of the sociological concept of culture. Winter's ideas were refined and incorporated into the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course, which has taught an entire generation of missionaries in these concepts.

Another presenter in 1974 at Lausanne was Michael Green, whose report "Methods and Strategy in the Evangelism of the Early Church" was cited by Winter. In his paper he justified an emerging syncretism with the following statement:

"Clearly, there was nothing inflexible about these early Christians in the New Testament period. Nor was there in the succeeding century or two, as the Gospel spread. You find philosophers like Justin and Tatian retaining their philosopher's robe and arguing the truth of the Christian philosophy against all comers. You find them looking not only to the Old Testament but to the myths of Homer and Hesiod for truths that would help to illuminate the person and work of Jesus. They were convinced that all truth is God's truth. Therefore they rejoiced when they found that some of the ancient heathen poets or philosophers had spoken true things which were endorsed in the Gospel of Christ.

"I used to think it was odd (if not worse!) of Clement of Rome in the nineties of the first century, to use the mythical bird, the phoenix, before I had seen the picture of the phoenix at Pompeii (a city destroyed in A.D. 79) and read what the painter, hungering for immortality, had written below it. 'Oh phoenix, you are a lucky thing!' Then I realized how wise an apologist Clement had been in relating the resurrection of the Lord to the very symbol of need which the painter of the phoenix had revealed. Like Paul, Clement had become all things to all men, so that by all means he might save some." [emphasis added]

The underlying philosophy is, as Green articulated it, that "all truth is God's truth." This explains the Redemptive Analogies emphasis that God has put a "good deposit" of some sort of "truth" into other cultures which can then be "redeemed."

The 2004 Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization's report on "Hidden and Forgotten People Including Those Who Are Disabled" (Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 35), highlights the evolving nature of "Redemptive Analogies." Here is how it was described in 2004:

"2. Awareness of and adapting to social and cultural differences so that the gospel can be shared more effectively is essential for effectiveness. Ralph Winter in “Cross-Cultural Evangelism: The Task of Highest Priority” highlights the need for awareness of the “cultural distance” between the messenger and the recipient. The nearer the messenger is in cultural adaptation to the recipient culture, the more effective is the sharing of the gospel . This “nearness” may be due to one’s culture of origin or even the result of careful adaptation to the recipient culture. The messenger must work hard to understand the other culture by learning their language, traditions, historical problems, religious allegiance and patterns of behaviour.

"Barriers and Bridge: One of the greatest barriers is the mindset that Islam is essential to ethnic identity. Becoming a Christian means that they must deny their cultural identity and risk being alienated from family and communities. In China, being Uighur and Muslim gives them an identity that separates them from the Han Chinese and atheism. In Kazakhstan and Central Asia, there is an assumption that Jesus is a Russian God. Non-contextual sharing of the gospel builds walls and keeps Uighurs from really hearing and coming to an understanding of the truth. Overcoming this barrier requires great relationship building which strengthens family and community ties rather than weakens them. When Uighurs see that there are fellowships or communities of Uighur believers, they are much more open to receiving the gospel themselves. . . .

"Redemptive analogies which can be redeemed for the gospel include the “Korban,” the most important Uighur Festival when they celebrate God’s provision of the lamb to Abraham to save him from sacrificing his son. Further, music, songs and dance are important bridge
s. Uighurs love music and dance. Songs have been written and played on Uighur instruments and their dance is being used to worship Isa. Many Uighurs have opened their hearts because they have experienced Uighur music cassettes or music and dance in worship." [emphasis added]

Perhaps this quotation above doesn't seem too bad, but note the confusion between cultural and religious "identity." By mixing the two concepts, borrowing heavily from secular anthropology and sociology, the new theology of Redemptive Analogies is justified.

Below is another example from DAWN Ministries which has been a major purveyor of this Redemptive Analogies heresy:

"New Delhi Newspaper Connects Christ's Sacrifice to Hindu Tenet

"Over the years, many Hindu friends have asked me, 'Why doesn't the Church confine itself to socially constructive functions like running hospitals and schools? Why do you have to preach your religion and make converts?

"There is reproach in their voices when they say this. As we have seen from events in the last few weeks (see cover article), this reproach can be fanned into violence on the plea that Christianity is an alien religion.

"The implicit thesis is that there is no point of contact between Hinduism and Christianity, but I believe that the gulf between the two is not as wide as the logical conclusion of a primary tenet of Hinduism: the concept of yogna, as an act of expiation for sin and transgression.

"The New Testament suggests that man's sin is so heinous that no amount of sacrifice is sufficient to expiate it. Only supreme sacrifice can cover the sins of humankind: God must sacrifice himself.

"This vision is closely related to the Prajapati Yogna described in Hindu scriptures where the king offers himself as sacrifice for the good of the people. Christ's death on the cross is the Parama Yagna, the ultimate sacrifice. . . . [Adapted from an article by Mammen Thomas in The Times of India newspaper.]

The men who contrived the doctrine of "Redemptive Analogies" have stretched it even further than what is presented above. Ralph Winter has described how Christianity must be "decontextualized" entirely in order to reach these cultures. In other words, turned inside out. And that other religious cultures should be allowed to go "beyond Christianity as we know it" by no longer being required to identify themselves as Christians. For example, he wrote:

"The Lutheran-Missouri Synod study. . . describes millions of devout followers of Jesus and the Bible in the one city of Chennai (Madras), alone, who have not chosen to call themselves Christians nor to identify with the socio-ecclesiastical tradition of Christianity and who still consider themselves Hindi. . . .

"The future is correspondingly bleak for the further extension of our faith into the vast blocs of Chinese, Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists unless we are willing to allow our faith to leave behind the cultural clothing of the Christian movement itself.

"Apparently our real challenge is no longer to extend the boundaries of Christianity . . . . Our task may well be to allow and encourage Muslims and Hindus and Chinese to follow Christ without identifying themselves with a foreign religion." [italics in original]

And on his website, Winter has written:

•In general it is neither wise nor to be expected or desired that a believing Muslim would adopt the name "Christian." . . .

•The same is true of Hindus who have put away their idols, revere and study the Bible, and revere and worship Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God-whether or not they identify with any of the current traditions of Christianity in their land. .......

Essentially this teaching means that one can remain in their pagan world but also choose to identify with some tenets of Christianity. This is EXTREME seeker-sensitive! Often "fear" is used to persuade people with the efficacy of accepting these new doctrines. Simpson and Oppenheimer cite several examples in Idolatry in Their Hearts:

"Terry LeBlanc, who's native American himself, stressed that if we don't create indigenous theology, indigenous people have to make an impossible choice, they have to choose between Christianity and their own cultural identity. . . .

"Gabriel Gefen in his teaching added that if you ask a person to deny his culture when becoming a Christian, you're asking him to deny the people and to give up the weapons God has given him in his culture to testify to God and express His glory through all that is good in the culture. Thus the person becomes marginalized in his own culture instead of becoming a 'missionary in his culture. This way he might even prevent his own people from coming to know Christ, whom they ultimately long to see expressed in ways that they can identify with." [p. 319, emphasis added]

The "Redemptive Analogies" idea has obviously gone way beyond what it originally claimed to do, and has opened the doors to a co-mingling cultural Christianity that shapes and molds itself to fit pagan religious systems. The reason this doctrine fits under the category of the "Doctrines of Dominionism" is due to its utopian view of the world, which presents human cultural systems as redeemable and suitable for transformation, and ignores the fallen nature of man, the Gospel of salvation, conviction of sin, repentance, and separation from sin.

The Truth:

Simpson and Oppenheimer wrote:

"Rev. 2:13 says that we must 'hold fast to My name.' In Rev. 3:7 Jesus commends the church for keeping 'both His word and His name.' There is a difference between showing love to the people of a religion, and loving their false religious system that they need to be delivered from! Our message should always be rooted in the Word and our goal compelled by love to reach the lost of any religion or culture. Our practice should be:

'For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ' (2 Corinthians 2:17 KJV)

"To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel." (p. 364)

"God who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed Heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.
" (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Identificational Repentance

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 9

"Identificational Repentance

"For me at least this is very new. I have been a Christian for 45 years, and I never once recall hearing a sermon from the pulpit on identificational repentance. I have four graduate degrees in religion from respectable academic institutions, and I was never taught a class on the subject. You do not find the issue raised in the writings of Martin Luther or John Calvin or John Wesley.

"Fortunately, we now have a textbook on the subject, namely John Dawson's remarkable book, Healing America's Wounds (Regal Books). In my opinion, this is one of the books of the decade for Christian leaders of all denominations. Only because we now have access to this book has the United Prayer Track or the AD2000 Movement been bold enough to declare 1996 as the year to 'Heal the Land,' featuring massive initiatives for repentance and reconciliation on every continent of the world. This is so important to me that I require my students at Fuller Theological Seminary to read Healing America's Wounds and I invite John Dawson himself to come in and help me teach my classes."
--C. Peter Wagner, "The Power to Heal the Past," Renewal Journal, 1996.

In a review of a video by Aloha Ke Akua, "God's Fingerprints in Japan," Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer in their new book Idolatry In Their Hearts describe a major event in the practice of a new doctrine called "Identificational Repentance":

"[Daniel] Kikawa is on YWAM's International Reconciliation Coalition which goes around doing 'identificational repentance', believing that this breaks strongholds. It is a soulish act to elicit a spiritual effect. Its real goal is to unite two opposing groups. The Bible tells us the cross has already broken down any partition (Eph. 2) and one must be in Christ for it to be effective. Instead, apologies are made for something done in the past that did not involve any of the current parties and this is supposed to affect us today.

"The video ends with the NARRATOR stating:

"'As a member of the International Reconciliation Coalition board, Daniel believes that it's important to let the Japanese people know that God loves them just the way they are.

"Kikawa - 'We have told you that your culture is not honorable, and not good enough for God. As an American Christian I want to ask you for forgiveness for that. And tell you that God has left so much beauty in your culture. Please, I want to do this, to say please forgive me.'

"Kikawa then bows to the floor before men and women -- apologizing. For what?" (p. 287)

The backdrop to this episode of "identificational repentance" is a full chapter (13) from Idolatry In Their Hearts analyzing a video in which Japanese gods of "creation" are exalted as "heavenly deities," Buddhist shrines are "sacred," and the pagan Japanese tea ceremony is equated to biblical communion -- all flagrant acts of syncretism.

This context to this act of "identificational repentance" is interesting because it is found in the "redeeming cultures" movement. The original marketing plan for "identificational repentance" was the spiritual warfare movement but it crossed over into mission "evangelization." This new doctrine was concocted as part of the massive overall of theology launched by the neoevangelical Fuller Theological Seminary during the 1980s. It was popularized by John Dawson, author of several books that introduce the topic, Taking Our Cities for God (YWAM, 1989) and Healing America's Wounds (Regal). (Incidentally, Dawson endorsed Daniel Kikawa's video cited above.) While Dawson carried water for the new doctrine, C. Peter Wagner was busy cheerleading for it. Wagner wrote:

"4. We must remit corporate sins.
"We are now realizing as never before the extent to which poverty, social degradation and resistance to the gospel can be traced back to corporate sins committed in past generations.

"Although some Christians are still uncomfortable about repenting for the sins of our fathers; Christian leaders are rapidly coming to understand the biblical theology under girding identificational repentance. Some also are seeing the immediate healing effects it can have.

"Of inestimable help on the subject of identificational repentance is John Dawson’s watershed book, Healing America’s Wounds (Regal)."

Meanwhile, the more liberal elements of the Protestant and Catholic church were busy building an international "Reconciliation" movement, with similar ideologies and goals. And YWAM, an influential neoevangelical mission organization, was busy organizing "Reconciliation Walks" which had "thousands of Christians tracing the path of the Crusades and repenting on behalf of the original Crusaders to Muslim populations. . . ."

What is "identificational repentance"?

Al Dager, in his book The World Christian Movement (Sword 2001) presents a short synopsis:

"The idea of identificational repentance is to stand in the gap as a substitute for a corporate people in order to nullify so-called 'generational curses.'

"In essence, it is to identify oneself with a corporate group of people to confess that group's social sins (e.g., I'm a white man who killed an Indian and stole his land). This is the basis of the Reconciliation Movement." (p. 125)

C. Peter Wagner, chief "apostle" of the New Apostolic Reformation, lists "Identificational Repentance" as one of the "10 Major Prayer Innovations of the 1990s," which includes "Strategic-level spiritual warfare," "Prayer evangelism," "On-site praying," "City transformation," "Commitment to the land," and "Spiritual mapping," among others. This list is basically a compilation of the new prayer-warfare doctrines that were promulgated during the 1990s. It is also significant that this list is found in a "Summary Report: AD2000 United Prayer Track," which was ostensibly a mission organization with the goal of "evangelizing" the planet by the year 2000. This list does not include a simple, basic presentation of the Gospel from Scripture!

C. Peter Wagner cites "Identificational Repentance" as one of the key "New Spiritual Weapons" for advancing the Kingdom of God on earth. In other words, "identificational repentance" is a useful tool for Dominionism. Wagner believes that in these last days "God has provided the Body of Christ with some new spiritual weapons which will help us penetrate the darkest realms of the Enemy." Undergirding Wagner's ideas about spiritual warfare is the erroneous doctrine that Jesus' work was not finished at the Cross, and that Jesus "has delegated His Church to continue the [war against Satan]" here on earth. Another key component of this new doctrine is the idea of "Corporate Sin." A corollary heresy teaches that nations are entities (beings) that can corporately experience salvation, and a related heresy teaches that the land itself is spiritual and in need of redemption. These heresies can be found in various traditions of pagan mysticism, but they are not biblical.

C. Peter Wagner wrote in "The Power to Heal the Past":

"Corporate Sin

"We must recognise that nations can and do sin corporately. God loves nations, and I join those who believe that God has a redemptive plan for each nation, or for that matter for each city or people group or neighbourhood or any visible network of human beings. But corporate national sin damages the relationship of the nation to God and prevents that nation from being all that God wants it to be. . . .

"God desires to bring corporate healing. He wants to heal the land. The way that He does this is parallel to the way He deals with individuals. . . . "

Another corollary to this heresy is that we need to confess the sins of our ancestors. Wagner articulates this with the following detailed rationale:

"The Iniquity of the Fathers

"Why should we be concerned about what our ancestors might have done? This is an important question raised by many who hear of identificational repentance for the first time. The answer derives from the spiritual principle that iniquity passes from generation to generation. One of many biblical texts on the matter comes from the Ten Commandments that Moses received on Sinai: 'I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations...' (Exodus 20:5).

"Technically speaking, sin can be understood as the initial act while iniquity is the effect that the sin has exercised on subsequent generations.

"I interpret the reference to the third or fourth generation as a figure of speech meaning that it can go on and on. Time alone does not heal national iniquities. In fact if the sin is not remitted, the iniquity more frequently than not can become worse in each succeeding generation. But the cycle can be stopped by corporate repentance. Quite obviously, the only ones who can confess the sin and put it under the blood of Jesus are those who are alive today. Even though they did not commit the sin themselves, they can choose to identify with it, thus the term 'identificational repentance.'

"We have two clear biblical examples of how this is done, Daniel and Nehemiah: Daniel said, 'I was... confessing my sin and the sin of my people' (Daniel 9:20). Nehemiah said, 'Both my father's house and I have sinned' (Nehemiah 1:6).

"Notice that each of these two confessions has two parts: the sin and the iniquity. Both Daniel and Nehemiah confessed sins that they did not commit, and both recognised that the iniquity had been passed to their own generation. Because of this they admitted that they were not personally exempt from the residue of that sin in their own daily lives. For many of us the second part is more difficult than the first because we have too often tended to fall into patterns of denial.

"When we remit the corporate sins of a nation by the blood of Jesus Christ through identificational repentance, we effectively remove a foothold that Satan has used to attempt to hold populations in spiritual darkness and in social misery. It happens because we are recognizing that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, as Paul says, but 'mighty in God for pulling down strongholds' (2 Corinthians 10:4). When we do that, the glory of Christ can shine through and the Kingdom of God can come in power."

One of the chief ways that this new doctrine is introduced inoffensively to people is through the idea of "Prayer Journeys" which

"are essentially field trips to practice prayer walking and, in some cases, to enable better spiritual mapping. Taken as short-term mission trips, they include short visits to strategic cities or sections of cities within a country or continent."

These prayer journeys may or may not be accompanied by the more radical forms of advanced "Levels of Strategic Warfare" as contrived by C. Peter Wagner and his associates. Rather, it may first be presented as a sincere prayer activity. Only later will the participants learn "spiritual mapping" (conducting surveys of real or imagined powers and principalities) and "confronting the powers" (casting down evil spirits and principalities). Worse, however, is the fact that these prayer journeys are often fruitless because they avoid an open presentation of the Gospel, possibly with the hidden motive of avoiding persecution. Much money is spent on these mission trips where people never once publicly or openly speak the Gospel Truth!

Pastor Bill Randles, in his excellent little book refuting this type of frivolous spiritual warfare, Making War in the Heavenlies, wrote a section entitled "True Warfare" in which he observed that Paul's Gospel presentation in Acts 17:1-3; 16-18 consisted of "reasoning, debating, opening and alleging."

". . . [W]hen Paul's spirit was stirred up in Athens, because of the gross idolatry, he didn't wage spiritual warfare against Zeus or Apollo. In fact, he didn't name any spirit, tear down any principalities or any such thing. Paul waged spiritual warfare by 'disputing in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily, with them that met with him.' (Verse 17)

"The warfare intensified when 'certain philosophers of the Epicureans and the Stoics encountered him. . . ' (Acts 17:18). Now here we have spiritual warfare! Out in the marketplace of ideas, Paul was promoting the doctrine of Christ, setting Christ forth in the face of Epicureanism, Stoicism, Platonism, and all the philosophies of the day which Satan was using to darken men's minds. It is patterns of thinking that need to be directly confronted, philosophies that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God!

"While Christians are waging phoney war against Jezebel, lust and other 'strongmen,' humanism, psychology, selfism, and so on are going unchallenged, and are even being promoted in our churches! When Paul waged war in Athens, his spiritual warfare consisted of the ideas of men being confronted by the Gospel of God!" (pp. 25-26)

In his article tweaking the finer points of Identificational Repentance and its accompanying doctrines and activities, Scott Moreau admitted that

"whatever our conclusion as to whether or not spirits are assigned territories, perhaps the biggest obstacle to SLSW [Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare, ed.] is that the fundamental strategy is not found biblically or in church history, at least not without some serious stretching of the accounts."

It is significant that this article cited above, attributed to the book Deliver Us from Evil: An Uneasy Frontier in Christian Mission (World Vision, 2002), was connected with the Lausanne movement. These spiritual warfare doctrines went mainstream into the global mission world via the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization which held a "Deliver us from Evil Consultation" in Nairobi, Kenya in 2000. Its purpose was to focus on "spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil who are seeking to overthrow the church and frustrate the task of evangelization." Again, notice that the underlying doctrine is faulty -- that Jesus didn't defeat Satan at the Cross and He has "unfinished work."

C. Peter Wagner, who is credited with launching this warfare prayer movement in his book Confronting the Powers (Regal, 1996), introduced "Identificational Repentance" in the context of "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare." But he acknowledged that this doctrine didn't have much to stand on biblically:

". . . [A] growing number of us believe that identificational repentance is an extremely vital ingredient in effective strategic-level spiritual warfare. When we look for the biblical justification for this, however, we find relatively little about it in the New Testament. We may find bits and pieces here and there, such as the analogy of Jesus' substitionary atonement. . . . [T]he fact remains that the New Testament contains no outright or explicit teaching about identificational repentance.

"The Old Testament, however, contains abundant amounts of material about the principles and practice of identificational repentance. . . ." (p. 79)

The Truth:

Very little has been written to counter the plethora of false doctrines surrounding "Identificational Repentance," "Reconciliation," and the accompanying practices. Tragically, many esteemed Christian leaders from all walks of Christianity, have been pulled into the Reconciliation Movement and/or "Identificational Repentance" because it sounded like a good thing to do. And most of these activities have a "feel good" component that makes them seem right. But the plain error of these activities can easily be found in Scriptures and refuted quite simply.

Sandy Simpson, author of Idolatry In Their Hearts, writing about this heresy on his website, observed:

". . . [T]he Bible is clear that men must repent for their own sins.

"Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

"Notice that 'every one' must repent on his own. We know even from the Old Testament that the father cannot repent for the sins of the son.

"Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

And in a book review by Steve Mitchell of Taking Our Cities for God by John Dawson posted at the same website, can be found the following critique:

"Quick question: Are we taught anywhere in the Bible that forgiveness involves pardoning nations for past deeds by the people who weren't even there to be offended or sinned against?

"Forgiveness is always a personal action, commanded by God, necessary for right fellowship and communion. (Matt 6:14;Luke 6:37; 2 Cor.2:7). It's always between people not cities or nations."

It is significant that the rationale for "Identificational Repentance" must hearken back to the Old Testament for its basis. The examples usually cited are of a few prophets (Nehemiah 1:6,7 and Daniel 9:4,5, e.g.) who interceded for the people and confessed the sins. It is true that the Old Testament prophets were sometimes called to stand between the people and God. But in the New Testament believers go directly to God through Jesus Christ His Son to confess our own sins. C. Peter Wagner, who is most noted for creating a global network of modern-day "apostles" and "prophets," has actually placed his leaders in between believers and God, creating a modern-day priesthood (a topic which we have delved into many times on this blog).

The Old Testament teaches that the people needed to repent of their own sins. The reader is referred to Ezekiel 18 in which it is clear that people are not involved in the sins and fate of their ancestors. This chapter teaches personal responsibility by illustrating three generations -- a righteous father, a wicked son, and a righteous grandson. The chapter declares that God's forgiveness is available to the repentant sinner, but that those who continue in sin will die in their sins. The chapter concludes with a plea for repentance (verses 30-32).

"What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?" (Ezekiel 18:2)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Changing God's Name

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 8

"It is time that Christians reclaimed the many beautiful names of the One Creator God in native languages instead of falling into Satan's trap and destroying them. We should reclaim those names and wash the dung of corruption off of them instead of giving them up to Satan. We must cast off the corruption that Satan has thrown on the many beautiful names of God in native languages. . . .

"Instead of destroying and ridiculing the native names of the Creator God, we should help preserve them as a legacy for these people. It is their legacy of God's enduring interest, involvement and care for their culture and people!

"Christians should cease representing Jesus as the Son of the foreign God of a foreign people, especially if these foreigners had never shown concern for nor had any involvement in the lives or culture of the natives. God lovingly created them in the beginning never left them without a witness and, in his great love for them, even sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die for them!"
[Daniel Kikawa, Perpetuated in Righteousness, 4th edition, p. 27,
cited in Idolatry In Their Hearts by Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer]

The above quotation is an example of the most horrifying new heresy to come out of the "redeeming cultures" movement. This particular heresy is a major theme of the new book Idolatry In Their Hearts by missionaries Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer. It illustrates the extent to which Scripture and history are being re-written to accommodate a new body of doctrine for a new global church age. In this particular case there is a multi-pronged attack going on against the biblical names for God which not only substantially erodes the Scriptural foundation, but actually replaces brick and mortar with pagan idols!

The authors describe the rise of this heresy from their unique observation point as missionaries to the Pacific Islanders where this has come in like a flood:

"If you have not read Daniel Kikawa's Perpetuated in Righteouness it may be hard to grasp the whole concept or the various names used or cited. . . .

"Kikawa presents to us in his book the concept that the Hawaiians held an accurate belief in God, like the Jews and/or Christians, without it being revealed to them by New Testament revelation! His premise is that when the natives traveled from Polynesia and landed in Hawaii they actually worshipped the true God accurately until foreign gods were introduced from Tahiti that corrupted their pure worship. Certain priests are said to have continued to worship the true God and yet they also led and allowed the people to practice idolatry." (p. 87)

Simpson and Oppenheimer then explain Kikawa's basic premise -- that the Hawaiians knew God from the gospel in the stars. And that somehow the Hawaiian people worshipped the same God as the biblical God on account of some weirdly revised history and fabricated ancestry; and that therefore the name of God can be substituted with the name of a god "'Io" who supposedly was a supreme creator god in the Islands' pantheon. And that therefore the biblical God can be worshipped using this other god's name. And it gets worse. . . .

Kikawa's book might have remained obscure but for the promotional help of John Dawson from YWAM and Don Richardson (author of Eternity In Their Hearts which started this whole movement), who, although he was contacted by these authors about the fabricated history, endorsed Kikawa's next edition. Commenting on Kikawa's quote at the top of this post, Simpson and Oppenhemer wrote:

Is this what the apostle Paul did? Did he say the Greek's Zeus had a son, or Odin had a son or any of the gods of the nations he brought the gospel to, had a son, who is their Savior? What Kikawa is teaching is cross-cultural syncretism with other gods as a way to evangelize them--the very thing God warned us not to do. . . .

Deut. 6:14:
'You shall not go after other gods of the peoples who are all around you.'

These are other elohim (gods), not Yahweh Elohim. It is not love or truth to tell them their god had a son, but deception, because it is a lie. It is calling the God of the Bible another god. Should Christians accept all the cultures as equal in their religious practices? The Bible repeats over and over, from the beginning, there is no God like YHWH. He alone is God, which is in direct contradistinction to the gods of the nations (Deut. 12:2). The true God said they were not Himself:

Joshua 23:7: 'You shall not make mention of the names of their gods'

Why Because they were false gods. The draw of worshipping other gods was too great at times. The gods of the nations, in ancient times, were not the same as the God of the Bible. God,
Yahweh Elohim of the Bible, specifically took a single person (Abram) and made a nation from him among all nations. . . .

It should be apparent that Zeus, Ra, Krishna or any other ancient supreme being is not YHWH, the God of the Bible. This is primarily because of their different nature and actions, and most importantly because God Himself says so. . . . Only by reducing the God of the Bible to the lowest common denominator--calling Him the supreme God over creation and ignoring other contradictory details--can they find similarity to these ancient stories. (pp. 130-131)

Simpson and Oppenheimer devote an entire chapter ("Golden Calf Evangelism," 10) to what is called "inclusive evangelism," i.e., "referring to national gods as the true God with different names" (p. 168). Oppenheimer wrote:

I recently heard a series of programs with Daniel Kikawa being interviewed by Danny Lehmann director of YWAM in Hawaii (who is on YWAM's governing board) on the local Christian radio station. What I heard was extremely disturbing, problematic and some of it was rank heresy. The message was clear -- tell people they can keep their supreme god's name, in their culture, and add Jesus into the equation" (p. 168). . . .

This is the basis for [Kikawa's] evangelism--telling people their god[s] (of their nation, culture or tribe) had a son and that their god's son (of their nation) is Jesus Christ. (p. 169)

There are many so-called evangelists advancing a synthesis gospel, which consists of an inclusive message. Kikawa has now expanded his concept of 'Io of the Hawaiian people being the true God (the same as the God of Israel). Now he applies it to the cultures/nations of the world. This shows me how far removed he is from a Biblical worldview. This gospel formula of inclusivism has no limits and can be made to fit anyone or anything. It turns into a customized universalist view of nations." (p. 173)

What Kikawa has done is try to have the Church accept foreign gods as the true one, constructing a hybrid form of Christianity." (p. 192)

By adding Jesus to these religions' god[s] you have stepped into acceptance of a universalist view of God." (p. 193)

One of the niftiest features of Simpson and Oppenheimer's book Idolatry In Their Hearts is that it proves to be an apologetic work that refutes these emergent heresies. As the authors write extensively about the perversion of the simplicity of the Gospel of salvation within the Island culture, they also painstakingly record the true Biblical record, which very effectually refutes these heresies. The age-old problem that ancient Israel had with the co-mingling of pagan deities and worship systems is being revived in our era. And Scripture speaks to it. Here is a brief sample of the excellent apologetics in this book:

The name (YHWH) Yahweh was used over 6,000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. It is unthinkable that God would allow His people to call upon Him by another culture's god's name (as He knows that it is not Him) and make believe it is Him. The Gentile nations named their own gods. God did not reveal Himself to them. The name is not correct if the name is not revealed by God to man, for God's Name reveals Who He is in His nature and character.

Exod. 20:3-5:
'You shall have no other gods before Me.'

God recognized the nations had other gods. If what Kikawa is saying is true, then we can throw out the whole Old Testament, forget it ever happened.

Deut. 4:39:
'that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other,'

Deut 5:7:
'You shall have no other gods before Me.'

Exod. 18:11:
'Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods'

Jer. 22:9:
'Then they will answer, 'Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God, and worshiped other gods and served them.'

Josh. 23:3:
'You have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has fought for you.'

Obviously, God did not think these supreme gods were just different names for Himself. God even destroyed a number of these nations that Kikawa would find had supreme beings. Not just any god that is called supreme or the most high can be acceptable, but only the One that actually is. . . . God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush.

God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites; "I am has sent me to you."' (Exod. 3:14). 'I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I was not known to them' (Exod. 6:3)

This is critical. What He is saying is that there was an intimacy in relationship that they did not have before that is now being made known to Moses and to Israel by His Name. The Name 'I AM' expresses the fact that He is the infinite and personal God that is the Alpha and Omega. The use of the name Yahweh would be in reference to the national covenant into which He was about to enter with Israel (Exodus 6:7)

Exod. 6:1-9)
'I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be your God.'

He is going to fulfill His promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He would be known as the God of Israel that delivered them with power, who provides for them and has a relationship with them like no other nation or culture enjoyed. When Moses wrote down the record given to him, he did not write God Almighty but Yahweh-Elohim, the self-existing One that will do whatever is needed. The first time Moses uses this name in Scripture is in Gen. 2:4:

"This is the history of the heaven and earth when they were created in the day when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.'

This makes the point that it is this God who made the heavens and the earth, Israel's God, not the other gods of the nations. There is no other God in history that was ever considered to be the same God that chose Israel and sent the Messiah. (p. 215-216)

The Truth:

"For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever." (Micah 4:5)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Dominionism of Sin

This blog spends a considerable amount of time examining and exposing the swift rise in our age of the false doctrines and practices of Dominionism. Indeed, it is human nature to seek human solutions to overcome the fallen nature of man. And that, in brief, is precisely the temptation of the heresies of Dominionism. Dominionism promises that mankind can better himself, perfect his nature, change societies, cultures and governments; and even reverse the effects of the Fall, build the kingdom of God on earth, bring Jesus back as King, and restore Paradise.

It is easier to look outwards at the world and try to fix it than to look inwards at the heart. For it is the heart, and the dominion of sin over the heart, that truly must undergo transformation.

Today's post is an excerpt from an excellent sermon by J.C. Philpott. By all means, if you are thirsting for the Truth, take the time to read through this entire sermon.

The Straying Sheep and the Sin-bearing Shepherd
Preached at Gower Street Chapel, London,
on July 14, 1867, by J. C. Philpot

How needful it is for us to be kept within the fold and under the eye of the Shepherd who will make no such mistake . . . , even if the food is sometimes scanty, and we may seem to long for a change of pasture. It is in this way that men so often get entangled with error. It seems to offer to them some fresh pasture, some new food, a lively and agreeable change from that round of doctrine and experience of which they have got almost tired, and of which, were it manna itself, they would say, if you could read their hearts– "Our soul loaths this light bread." The restless desires of the human heart are as innumerable as they are insatiable. What silly baits will sometimes entangle our vain mind. . . .

3. But sometimes sheep go astray, drawn aside by the example of others. You know how prone sheep are to follow each other, and if the lead sheep does but direct the way, how first one and then another rushes almost madly after him. An old Puritan writer, if I remember right, relates an incident which he himself witnessed at Shrewsbury, where there is a bridge that crosses the river Severn, there tolerably wide. A flock of sheep was passing over the bridge, and one of them took it into his head, as we should say, to leap off the road upon the parapet, which I suppose in those days was of a lower character and of a cruder structure than in our modern bridges. The next sheep followed suit, and the third followed him. But they had got a very narrow spot to stand upon. Down, then, goes the first sheep into the water, the next follows, the third imitates his example, until the outcome was that the whole flock fell into the river.

And even in London, there is a familiar example of this following propensity in the device by which a poor sheep is sometimes enticed into the slaughter-house by a stuffed sheep being drawn in before him. How great is the influence of example; and but for God's grace how the river or the slaughterhouse might have been our end, and would be if we followed some examples set before us. How often God's people have been drawn aside by the bad example of this or that professor, or even sheltered themselves under the sins and infirmities of good men. If they see one going before them who is generally received as a saint or servant of God, they think they may safely follow; and yet he may only go before them to lead them into evil. . . .

III. But I now pass on to show what are the EFFECTS of the gracious Lord bearing our sins in his own body on the tree; and of our being healed by his stripes. . . .

A. The first is, "That we being dead to sins, live to righteousness." We need something to kill, so to speak, the power of sin in us. We need a supernatural strength to mortify, crucify, and put off the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. We need something communicated to our soul, which we have not in ourselves, and which we are well assured none but the Lord himself can bestow; which shall give us the victory over the daily evils which manifest themselves in our fallen nature.

The power put forth to break up and break down the power of sin in us, produces, first, what is called in our text a being dead to sins. The figure is obvious enough; for as life implies energy, movement, activity, vigor, strength; so death implies weakness, powerlessness, inability, in a word, everything which is opposite to the idea of life. Thus, while we are under the power and influence of the old man, and of our evil heart, we are alive to sin; for sin lives and moves and works in us. Our eyes are going out after objects of sin; our ears are eager to hear something connected with sin; the thoughts of our heart, the imaginations of our roving fancy, are all engaged in the hot pursuit of something evil and sinful. We snuff it up, as it were, every gale of sin. Like a bird of prey in the air, looking round for a prey and ready at once to pounce upon it; or like a hound in pursuit of game, tracking it eagerly by its scent; so our corrupt nature is ever on the lookout, ever hunting on the track for sin; for sin is the darling food of the human mind, without which it seems no life to live. To be in this awful state, and in it we all are, until called by grace, is for sin to live in a man's breast, and for him to be alive to it.

Do you not see, therefore, that what we need, and what God at times mercifully gives, is a divine power which comes into the soul and puts a death upon that strength and dominion of sin which lives in us, and in which we, but for the grace of God, would live? And thus we get through the cross of Christ not only a testimony in our bosom of what the Redeemer died to rescue us from in a view of the depths of the fall and the consequences of our transgression, but a deliverance from the dreadful dominion of sin. This is what the law never could do for us or in us, and can be effected by nothing else but grace. "Sin," says the apostle, "shall not have dominion over you." Why? Because you strive against it and succeed by dint of effort after effort in subduing and overcoming it? No, "for you are not under the law but under grace."

There is no other way– we may have tried thousands– there is no other way of getting an effectual death to sin but by coming under the power and influence of sovereign, super-abounding grace. Sin is so subtle, has so many lives, works in such unperceived and crafty ways, comes in at so many corners, is so mixed up with every thought and movement of our natural heart, is so strengthened by all we see and meet with both without and within that, unless we can find something as if lodged and placed in our breast which shall work against it in all its shapes and forms; meet it in all its subtle windings, and stand up against it with firm and dauntless opposition to all its movements, we shall be almost certain of being overcome by it.

We parley with our lusts until we get fairly, or I should rather say, foully entangled in them. We play with sin until sooner or later in the end it gets the better of us. One temptation, if we are entangled and overcome by it, makes a way for another until, but for the grace of God, we would walk altogether in the ways of sin and ungodliness; and concerning faith, make utter and open shipwreck. It is not, then, a common power that we need to help us in this terrible fight. We need something very strong, very powerful, very effectual to come into our breast to meet sin there in its stronghold, and counteract it in all its inward workings, secret wiles, crafty stratagems, and seductive allurements.

Now, this strength, this power, this victory over sin, can only be gained by a view of the cross, by some manifestations of a suffering Redeemer, by some application of his precious blood to the conscience, and some shedding abroad of his dying love in the heart. When, then, our eyes are a little opened to see, our hearts a little softened to feel, our consciences touched so as to be made tender, our affections wrought upon so as to be drawn up to heavenly things, and we get a view of the Lord of life and glory bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, this puts a death upon sin.

"What?" says the soul, with weeping eyes and broken heart– "Can I do this evil thing and sin against the Lord? Shall I trifle with the wounds of Jesus, trample upon the blood of Christ, do that which grieved the soul of the Redeemer, and walk in those ways of unrighteousness which brought, to put them away, such distress upon his body and soul?" Here is something to meet sin in its various turnings and windings, and to put a death upon it. This is a being crucified with Christ– a crucifying of the flesh with the affections and lusts. This is what Paul felt when he said– "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14.) And again– "I am crucified with Christ– nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me– and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. 2:20.)

Now, with this death, there comes a life, which is a life unto righteousness. We need these two things, dear friends, in lively operation– a spiritual death and a spiritual life. We need death put upon the flesh, upon sin, upon everything which is ungodly, that it may not reign or rule; and we need also the communication and maintenance of a divine life which shall act Godwards; exist and co-exist in the same breast, and be in activity at the same moment. Here is sin striving for the mastery; but here also is a view of the cross of Christ– here is a testimony of bleeding, dying love. This puts a death upon sin. But as death is put upon sin and the lust is mortified, crucified, resisted, or subdued, there springs up a life of faith and prayer, of hope and love, of repentance and godly sorrow for sin, of humility and spirituality, of a desire to live to God's praise and walk in his fear.

The cross gives both. From the cross comes death unto sin; from the cross comes life unto righteousness. From the cross springs the healing of every bleeding wound, and from the cross springs every motive to a godly life. Thus, in God's mysterious wisdom, there is a way whereby sin can be pardoned, the law magnified, justice exalted, the sinner saved, sin subdued, righteousness given, and the soul made to walk in the ways of peace and holiness.

O what depths of wisdom, mercy and grace are here! Look where you will, try every mode, if you are sincere about your soul's salvation, if the Lord the Spirit has planted the fear of God in your heart, you will find no other way but this. There is no other way that leads to holiness here and heaven hereafter; no other way whereby sin can be pardoned and the soul sanctified. It is this view of salvation from sin not only in its guilt but also in its power, this deliverance from the curse of the law and well-spring of all holy, acceptable obedience, which has in all ages so endeared the cross to the souls of God's family, and made all of them more or less to be of Paul's mind, when he declared that he was determined to know nothing save Jesus Christ and him crucified.

The Truth:

"Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness– by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
1 Peter 2:24, 25

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Indigenous Peoples Movement

The Doctrines of Dominionism: Part 7

The other day we received the following letter from a friend working for a private contractor in Iraq. Here is his experience:

Dear Friends,

I just came back from a military Bible Study with an Assemblies of God chaplain. Unfortunately my experience with Bible Study was not as good as that in the church service. We were studying in Romans Chapter 2. When it came to Romans 2:16 through the end of the chapter, the chaplain told us that this proved that if you were an aborigine and never hear of Jesus you could still be saved if you had a good heart. At this point I stopped him and asked if that meant that he need not believe on Jesus to be saved. He said that was right. What was worse there were many that agreed with him. I reminded them that man was not that good: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And “There is none righteous, no not one.” I told them that no one was good enough to go to heaven on their own. I was told this did not matter because Jesus Christ died for the sins of the whole world and not just some. I said I agreed with that, but there is still only one name given under heaven whereby we must be saved. To this I was labeled as judgmental, factious, and divisive. The Chaplain then came right out and asked if I believed that if a person had never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and was a good person if God would be so unmerciful as to send them to hell. I told him they were going to hell even if they were the nicest person on earth. I went on to say that we obviously have a responsibility to take the good news to the lost. Here the chaplain stopped me and I was told not to pursue it anymore. When in the end we all were allowed to say what we got out of the passage, I read to them from John 3:16-19:

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:16-19 KJV)

I told them that it really is about the heart and our relationship to Jesus Christ; and if you do not have that relationship you are not going to heaven, end of story. I then told the Chaplain that I hope that someday he gets saved. He obviously believes in the goodness of man more than the total depravity of man.

What is happening here? This type of teaching is becoming more and more common in the evangelical world. Sadly, it is affecting our friend's ability to witness in Iraq. According to Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer in their new book, Idolatry in Their Hearts,

"A new missiology is being promoted in mission work and it is spreading quickly. It is called 'redeeming the cultures,' 'cultural identification,' 'first nations' and a number of other terms. The new idea being presented is that God has left certain elements in every culture that are redeemable qualities, pathways to Himself. Some take the position that He revealed Himself to nearly all indigenous people groups prior to the Gospel being brought to them. They believe that in every culture God has left treasures and worthy traditions within the indigenous cultures to be used. They teach that we can bring Jesus Christ to the people and then leave them to worship God in their own cultural and religious ways. . . (p. 17)

"The assumption is that God formed ALL the nations, cultures (specifically) and purposefully put things in their culture that are equal to what He did with Israel." (p. 257)

"What they are looking for are 'new approaches' to 'build bridges' to indigenous/religious people groups and cultures. What is taught is that God set forth His plan of salvation through all ancient cultures and that 'redemptive analogies' can be found in most, if not all cultures" (p. 17-18)

In other words, the new heresies teach that man can come to Christ without the Gospel of Salvation but by some other avenue inherent in their culture and religion. And they don't need Jesus to be saved, but can call upon their own local deity. And once they get "saved," they can "redeem" the pagan religious practices in their culture and make it part of their new faith. They never need to separate from their old ways. In fact, they are encouraged to bring back the old pagan ways!

According to
Idolatry in Their Hearts, the Indigenous Peoples Movement (IPM) and its corresponding "The World Christian Gathering on Indigenous People (WCGIP) is a front for the Third Wave." The gurus heading up this effort include Richard Twiss, Leon Siu, Terry LeBlanc, Charles Kraft (Fuller Theological Seminary), John Dawson, George Otis, Daniel Kikawa, Don Richardson, Ed Silvoso and many others -- all of whom are connected with C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) in one way or another. There are several false ideas connected with these heresies, one of which is Dominionism:

". . . Dominionism. . . [is] often espoused by YWAM and these men. It teaches that we must Christianize the whole world before Christ comes. It is important to understand the use of the term 'world evangelization.' Though it sounds like the word 'evangelism' it bears little resemblance to preaching the Gospel to all nations. It is really talking about Christianizing and 'redeeming cultures' and preparing the world for Christ to return because allegedly He won't come back until this Christianizing work is done." (p. 48)

Another one of the false teachings in this movement is "that indigenous peoples had 'gifts and callings and anointings' before the Gospel had even been preached to them." (p. 49) This, of course, utterly discounts the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, and it permits the retention of occult practices.

The leaders of the Indigenous Peoples Movement also "teach that God can be worshipped using cultural methods heretofore used to worship other Gods." (p. 65) In a shocking videotape of a premier Gathering of the Nations conference, held in Whistler, British Columbia in 1995, there were vivid examples of pagan religious practices that were being revived in the name of redeeming the culture. The participants were told that these formerly evil activities, which by all appearances were lascivious and idolatrous, could be "redeemed." Al Dager, in his book The World Christian Movement (Sword, 2001) described a few of the lengthy proceedings:

"A team from New Zealand. . . led much of the worship using log drums, an Australian didgeridoo, and conch shells. They taught the people how to do a 'haka' -- a dance-mime used by Maori warriors to build up their courage.

"During one Hawaiian warfare chant a leader stripped off his shirt and beat his chest as a show of strength against the demonic powers." (p. 124)

Dager summed up the Whistler event as "a hyper-charismatic display of unbridled emotion, ecumenism and unbiblical teaching, passing itself off as spiritual warfare." (p. 125)

Simpson and Oppenheimer document this practice extensively in the Pacific Island culture. For example, there is a attempt to revive hula dancing in churches, a practice which had been previously rejected, because "it caused men to lust and was a dance dedicated to their former gods" (p. 69) They wrote,

"Hula is a spiritual dance dedicated for centuries to false gods. To take that dance and make it a large apt of the Hawaiian Christian experience is to deny the dreadful and shameful use of hula in the past. Why not uplift other cultural activities not tied to worship of the demonic? Isn't the idea to make a clean break from our past when we accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord?" (p. 70)

The Truth:

In Idolatry in Their Hearts, Simpson and Oppenheimer address this heresy head-on:

"Let's address the two false assumptions above, namely that (1) God is in the business of redeeming cultures and (2) that God placed in cultures a way of redemption apart from the Gospel. "First the only 'culture' that will be redeemed will be that of God's chosen people, the Jews (Ps. 130:8), during the Tribulation (Zech. 13:1). But this will be because the Jews (Rev. 7:3-4; Rev. 14:3) will come to understand and believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah (John 3:3). Other than this example there is nowhere in the Bible where it talks about God redeeming cultures. Rev. 7:9 speaks of nations, tribes, peoples and languages standing before the throne of God, but not 'cultures.' This verse is talking about individuals who have believed in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord from all the nations of the earth. Cultures are the traditions of men (Mark 7:8-9, 13; Col. 2:8), not God-created as many of the IPM people claim. God is in the business of redeeming individuals from sin (1 Pet. 1:18-23; Gal. 3:14), not cultures.

"The idea of the redemption or 'transformation' of whole cities, societies and cultures is actually a Dominionist idea from the Latter Rain and NAR. This has no basis in Scripture whatsoever. Each man must believe for himself (Acts. 16:31; Rom. 10:9) upon conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-9). Notice that though the Holy Spirit is sent into the world to convict of sin, He is convicting men who do not believe in Jesus Christ -- not whole cultures.

"Second, there is no way for men to come to believe in Jesus Christ without having heard the Gospel (Eph. 1:13). You cannot hear the Gospel without it being preached to you (Rom. 10:14-15). The Gentiles had no knowledge of the Gospel message until that mystery was revealed to them by way of the apostles and missionaries (Eph. 2:12)." (pp. 59-60)

"But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God thy faith: That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;" (Philippians 3:7-10)