Friday, August 24, 2012

Babylonianism at the Gates

Christians and the Encircling World
of the Occult

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

And when they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?
The Prophet Isaiah, Isaiah 8:19

Like many others in the world, our culture has become obsessed with the paranormal, the appetite for it being stimulated and fed by video games played, television programs and movies watched, books read, music listened to, art exhibits visited, spiritual activities engaged in, and more. Recently, a local arts center hosted an exhibit called “Encounter” that was “devoted to dragons, robots and other science fiction and fantasy themes.”[1] The same sectional front page also publicized “LARP-ing” (that is, live-action-role-playing) where participants gather together to act out “vampire-themed” scripts related to “those tabletop Dungeons and Dragons-style games that gained huge popularity in the 1980s and continue to draw a steady base of faithful players.”[2] In his coverage of the vampire-themed games, the reporter issued the following caveat: “They pretend to be vampires, but that doesn’t make them devil worshippers.”[3]

Souls under Siege
At first glance, “LARP-ing” might appear to be the activity of people belonging to one of society’s eccentric fringe groups (perhaps that’s why they consider themselves “nerds”), unless, of course, it is set against the backdrop of our overall culture, a culture fascinated not only by vampires, but also by werewolves, wizards, witches and warlocks (a la the popular Harry Potter novels and movies), Halloween, visits to and visitations from the netherworld (23 Minutes in Hell), near-death experiences (NDES), intergalactic soul travel, alien visitations (E.T., Cowboys and Aliens), spiritist séances, demon possessions (Rosemary’s Baby), Satanism (The Omen Trilogy), fortune telling, horoscopes, psychic readings, apparitions and poltergeists (The Apparition), horror films and TV programs (NBC’s Grimm), drug induced altered states of consciousness (experiencing the divine), extra-sensory perception (ESP), Sci-Fi, and on and on a listing can go. In fact, one can walk in any American shopping mall and see people, from adults to kids, wearing dark T-shirts and sporting tattooed bodies emblazoned with occult themes, grotesque human-like images, skulls and bones, and other occult symbols. The signs and stuff of the occult seem to be everywhere![4]

A Post-Christian Phenomena
The popularity of paranormal spirituality, as it has now emerged in the United States during the latter half of the 20th century and the beginning of this 21st century, mirrors in many ways what happened at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th in Great Britain. History repeats itself. As the influence of Christianity began to wane amongst the British at that time, there arose a corresponding popular interest in the occult. As one historian describes the spiritual morphing that took place in Great Britain during late 19th and early 20th centuries:

A revival of interest in mysticism and mystery traditions of all kinds, however, abounded... and a variety of groups promised access to esoteric readings of the world’s sacred literatures and an unmediated experience of the divine. In this heightened spiritual atmosphere... most [of the] spiritually inclined no longer identified in any way with formal Christian observance. They turned instead to the heterodox spirituality of occultism, with its animistic sense of a living universe and a broad range of teachings drawn from sources as diverse as those of mystical Christianity, the Hermetic traditions of the West, and the religions of the East.[5]

As it became in Great Britain then, so it has become in America now. As the influence of Christianity has waned, our society too has morphed to become a culture besieged by the occult. Seemingly, mankind cannot live without the supernatural. So the question arises, from whence does this all derive?

From Time Immemorial
Since the occult is sourced from a time when before creation Lucifer—a created light-bearer within the angelic realm—aspired to be the Light (“I will be like the most High,” Isaiah 14:14b); and from a time when after creation in the Garden of Eden Satan conned Eve into thinking she possessed the potential to reset her life and become God (“Ye shall be as gods [“like God,”  NASB] knowing good and evil,” Genesis 3:5), the influence of unseen forces (i.e., evil spirits) has been pervasive in this universe and our world (See Ephesians 6:12.).

In this world, the occult, sourced in Lucifer’s rebellion against God in Heaven, and then transplanted by him on earth, initially appeared in the Garden of Eden, in the same geographical vicinity where the religious system called Babylon “the mother of harlots and abominations on the earth” emerged (Revelation 17:5). The multifaceted spiritual religious system called Babylon is a magical belief system in which humans think they, if even by digital imagery, can manipulate and control their reality and destiny. Such spirituality totally opposes faith in the sovereign God who rules the universe. Therefore, from the biblical perspective, occultism is at the heart of an “i-am-ness” system of religion that designs to unseat God as the creator and ruler of the universe. Repeatedly, the Lord affirmed His sovereign “I-am-ness” to Israel and the nations when He said: “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isaiah 44:6; 45:5, 6, 18, 22; 46:9). Then there had developed the competing claim of the Babylonian religion which, amidst her “sorceries... enchantments... astrologers... star gazers... monthly prognosticators,” dared to declare its “i-am-ness”: “I am, and none else beside me” (Isaiah 47:8-13; *10).

A Prevalent Worldview
In their godlessness, ancient civilizations became intrigued by and possessed of a magical worldview sourced from ancient Babylon (Isaiah 47:12-13; Ezekiel 21:21; Daniel 1:20; 2:2, 10, 27; 4:6-7; 5:7), and from there, dispensed to the Egyptian (Genesis 41:8; Exodus 7:11, 22), Canaanite (Deuteronomy 18:9) and Assyrian (Nahum 3:4) civilizations and cultures. But in his day (circa 2000 B.C.), God called upon Abraham to separate himself from the hotbed of the occult arts that was Ur (Genesis 12:1), and journey by faith to an unknown land which the Lord would show to him. Upon ending their seventy-year exile of captivity in Babylon (circa 520 B.C.), the Lord also instructed the Israelites to “Depart ye [from Babylon], depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing [anything contaminated by the occult Babylonian religion]; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord [the clean things]” (Isaiah 52:11; Compare 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 for commentary; See Revelation 18:4.).

All of which is to say, any involvement in the occult is, in God’s eyes, “an unclean thing” and therefore a serious breach of faith!

No “Crossover” Spiritualities
The spirituality of these civilizations posed an ever-present threat to the spiritual life of the nation of Israel for reason of that nation’s necessary commerce with and concourse amongst them. So the great question was, would the Lord’s people, as His priestly nation in that world (Exodus 19:5-6a), maintain a testimony of their abiding faith in Jehovah and remain separate from the heterodox and occult spirituality of their neighbors? Therefore, the Lord commanded the Israelites: “Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:31).

Deadly Dispatches
To exhibit their keeping covenant with Him, the Lord through Moses, just before their entering the land of Canaan, expanded His commandment telling the nation:

When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God. For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee so to do. (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)[6]

All of the idolatrous activities listed above, and more, served as litmus tests for the faith-keeping of the Israelites. Repudiating those activities would mark them out to be covenant keepers. On the other hand, indulging in those activities would mark them as covenant breakers, as being unfaithful to the Lord their husband (Isaiah 54:6). Unfortunately, much of the Old Testament record portrays how the Israelites spurned their covenant with the Lord, and like a spiritual whore, chased after the abominations of the occult (Isaiah 8:19; Jeremiah 27:9-10; Ezekiel 8:1-18; 13:1-23; Malachi 3:5). So it was to a people who refused to consult “the law and... the testimony” (Isaiah 8:20) that God sent Isaiah as His ambassador announcing the coming of divine judgment, all the while knowing that the apostate majority within Israel, having been so mesmerized by a magical worldview, would spurn the Word He had given the prophet to speak (Compare Ezekiel 3:4-11.).

“This People” and “My People”
As our nation is fascinated with, even captivated by, the occult, so was Israel during the days of the prophets.[7] During Isaiah’s days of ministry, there were two groupings of people: the majority, who had been seduced by spiritualities of the surrounding culture, and who Yahweh designated as this people” (Isaiah 6:9-10; 8:6, 11, 12; 9:16; 28:14; 29:13; etc.); and a minority who, by refusing to conform to the religion of the surrounding culture, the Lord called my people” (Isaiah 1:3; 5:13; 10:24; etc.). [8]

Seducing Spirits
As for Isaiah, the Lord instructed him “not walk in the way of this people,” the majority who, manifesting their denial of the coming judgment, counseled that Isaiah and his disciples should seek a more favorable verdict, and “Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter” (Isaiah 8:11, 19; Compare 1 Timothy 4:1.). Think of it . . . the prophet who had been given the Word of the Lord was being advised by a rebel majority to consult the familiar spirits of the dead in order to divine the nation’s future; and this despite the biblical statement that “the dead know not any thing”! (Ecclesiastes 9:5)

For any people, ancient or modern, who are under the influence of the prevailing culture, the straight-forward and living Word of the Lord is never sufficient. A mesmerized majority rather prefers the charade of hearing the “chirping and groaning” of the so-called spirits of the dead. [9] As one commentator assessed the spiritual attitude of the Israelites, “Their enthusiasm for fortune-tellers and spiritists evidences both their withdrawal, foolishly and treacherously, from their God and his withdrawal, justly and judgmentally, from them.”[10] This undiscerning majority and their false prophet-teachers had been caught up into deception’s vicious cycle, of deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13).

Conspiracy Theory
Having been seduced by the surrounding spiritualities, the majority of Israelites (this people”) demonstrated they had broken covenant with Yahweh, were no longer considered priests of His holy nation, and were ripe for divine judgment (Isaiah 7:17-25; 8:9). This majority lived in denial as they dismissed all this prophetic talk of coming judgment on the part of Isaiah and as a “conspiracy theory” (“It is a conspiracy!” Isaiah 8:12, NASB.). No fear of the Lord resided within them (Isaiah 8:12b-13). The majority felt that in an ecumenical show of strength and unity (“A confederacy... A confederacy,” Isaiah 8:12, KJV.), they could treaty-up with the Assyrians—(“Devise a plan... State a proposal,” Isaiah 8:10, NASB.) and negotiate themselves out of the coming invasion by that nation which they presumed were their “spiritual brothers”. Israel had rejected the Lord who was their source of pure spiritual life—“the gently flowing waters of Shiloah” (Isaiah 8:6)—even as they chose to remain oblivious to the fact that a tsunami of divine judgment was about to sweep over the land (Isaiah 8:6-8). The brutal Assyrians, the people whom the majority in Israel thought they could negotiate with, were coming to wipe them off the face of the map, and all they chose to do was by divination seek a different verdict and outcome. As F.C. Jennings observes:

The “mediums” of these communications are “wizards” (wise-ards), and if you want any secret revealed—from the whereabouts of a lost article to the eternal condition of a deceased relative—you have only to consult some ‘medium,’ and you will be put into communication with the spirit of the departed, who will tell you—just what you want to hear![11]

They Dared to be Different!
In contrast, a minority (my people”), by holding fast in their separation from the spiritualities of the surrounding nations, demonstrated their fidelity to the covenant. They didn’t go along with the majority to get along with the majority. These are the ones the prophet called my disciples” and “the children whom the Lord hath given me” (Isaiah 8:16, 18). This cleavage between the majority and minority illustrates the words of the apostle Paul when wrote, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Romans 9:6). Such a grouping may be likened to that existing between true believers on the one hand, and professing Christendom on the other (“wheat” and “tares,” Matthew 13:24-30; “sheep” and “goats,” Matthew 25:32), the later of whom, as Anton Bosch points out, though they are conformed to the church, they have been transformed by the world (The inverse of Romans 12:2.).[12]

Signs and Wonders
The majority did not know how to take or what to do with the discerning minority, for they, along with the prophet Isaiah, were to them as “signs and... wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 8:18b). This small band of true believers within Israel was a miraculous testimony to the nation. Their commitment to Yahweh and His prophet was curious to the majority. The spiritually numb majority simply could not understand their “legalism” and “narrow-mindedness”. But neither could they explain the minority away, for the Lord had raised them up as “signs and wonders”. The minority was like those whom Malachi observed in his day:

Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. [The Lord speaking:] And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. [Malachi affirming:] Then shall ye [the Lord returning] return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Malachi 3:16-18)

So, to which group do we belong? Motyer notes that in Isaiah there exists “a distinction between the secularized, politicized professing people of God and those, within that people, who turn to him in repentance and faith, who look to his word and obey it.”[13] Are we part of a minority who serve as “signs and wonders,” or are we numbered amongst those who do not fear the Lord? To the question, we should note that in their book UnChristian, even two emergent authors from the Barna Research Group contrasted the spiritual and moral behavior of “born-agains” to “non-born-agains”. Their research indicated that “professing” evangelicals are just as likely as unbelievers “to consult a medium or a psychic.” [14]

So in what we watch, read, play or listen to, are we conforming to this occult culture, or are we being transformed and set apart from it by God’s grace to be “signs and wonders”? If we conform, we need to be aware that embracing mere “human wisdom (even spirit-sought) is to reveal a hopeless state and to lose the possibility of repentance.”[15] And that is why all “sorcerers” will be excluded from the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:8; 22:15).

Abraham revealed his faith by separating himself and his family from the spiritualities of Babylon. And like Abraham, our choice, to separate or not to separate, will also reveal our faith or lack thereof.

Fast forward fifteen centuries... At the beginning and during Judah's Babylonian Captivity (circa 589 B.C.), Daniel and his three friends refused to compromise with Babylonian spirituality (Daniel 1:8; 3:12; 6:6-10). At the end of that captivity, Isaiah told exiled Jews who were about to depart from Babylon after their 70-year exile in that land (circa 519 B.C.), “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean” (Isaiah 52:11). Then the Apostle Paul, alluding to Isaiah’s injunction, wrote to the Christians at Corinth:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (Emphasis Added, The Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

Could the mandate to separate from the culture of the occult be any clearer?

[1] Vic Ryckaert, “‘Encounter’ at Garfield Park,” The Indianapolis Star, August 16, 2012, Local Living section, 1. As to our culture’s increasing fascination with science fiction, whether in comics, literature, the arts, movies, toys, role playing and so forth, Sci-Fi represents an attempt on the part of people to imagine and visualize a mystical image-idol which in their perception of reality will bridge into experiencing transhumanism, that pseudo-science which postulates the mankind can ultimately transcend human limitations and attain divinity and immortality; and this in defiance of the limits that Almighty God has placed upon humanity as recorded in the Bible.
[2] Vic Ryckaert, “Nerds and Proud of It: Serious Gamers Dress the Part, Act Out Vampire-Themed Script,” The Indianapolis Star, August 16, 2012, Local Living section, 1.
[3] Ibid. 3.
[4] Kurt E. Koch, Occult ABC (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1986). Originally published as Satan’s Devices (1978), Koch’s book categorizes scores of occult activities.
[5] Alex Owen, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2004): 4. During the morphing of British culture, Dr, Owen also notes that there occurred “a series of notable conversions to Roman Catholicism.”
[6] Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
[7] At this juncture, it is suggested that readers take out their Bibles and read Isaiah 7:1-8:22, as this author gives exposition to this passage upon which this chapter is based.
[8] By referring to the majority in Israel as “this people,” the Lord depersonalizes His relationship to them even as He distances Himself from them as they ripen themselves for divine judgment. As a majority, “this people” will seek to find strength in their “ecumenical” numbers!
[9] On this point, Motyer observes that, “In the Bible, to die is not to acquire powers or wisdom beyond those on earth. The dead greet the king of Babylon with, ‘you too have become weak as we’ (14:10). The dead Samuel (1 Sa. 28:16ff.) knows and says nothing other than what he knew and said on earth. Indeed, in the Old Testament the dead are weaker than the living for they are but shadows (see on 14:9) of their former selves, half-persons, souls without bodies.” J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993): 97.
[10] Ibid. On this point, F.C. Jennings (1847-1948) observed: “As dependence upon ‘God and the word of His grace’ is loosened, the chains of ‘spiritism’ are bound upon truth-rejecting men.All kinds of information is sought from those who have been introduced by death into a sphere where the future is assumed to be clear to them as the past is to the living.” F.C. Jennings, Studies in Isaiah (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1935): 103.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Anton Bosch, “Conformed or Transformed?” Herescope, July 3, 2012 (
[13] Motyer, Isaiah, 92.
[14] David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, UnChristian: What a New Generation Thinks About Christianity . . . and Why It Matters (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007): 47. Though personally, I do not agree with the authors’ emergent  view of the Christian faith, nor recommend their book (my copy was given to me), I do believe their assessment regarding the increasing openness of professing evangelicals to the occult is correct and a dangerous trend.
[15] Motyer, Isaiah, 97.

Reproduced with permission of the author. Originally published at 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Quantum Mysticism Conference

[click to enlarge]

DVDs now available!
Discernment Ministries held a very special research conference in Niles, Michigan June 21-23. Niles is the new home of our ministry’s library, the Opal Reddin Library, which archives over 40 years of research material in the Latter Rain, Dominionism, Third Wave and New Apostolic Reformation. 
We heard incredible sessions from Warren Smith, Dr. Martin Erdmann, Pastor Larry DeBruyn, Gaylene Goodroad, Jewel Grewe, Pastor Jeff Whittaker, and Sarah Leslie, which covered:
· The emerging eschatology involving the return of space alien creatures, Nephilim and Mayan legends in December 2012.
· The rise of Quantum Spirituality, merging quantum physics with eastern mysticism and postmodern evangelicalism.
· Technocracy and Transhumanism and how this is changing the church and the world.
· The latest research on the New Apostolic Reformation and the Latter Rain false apostles and prophets.
· How Hollywood is being used by the Quantum Spirituality advocates to create stimulating new imagery to promote pagan mythologies and idolatries.
· How evangelical leaders are using ancient occult writings, apocryphal writings, astrology and modern UFO lore to build upon Scripture.
This research conference was based on the topics that we have been covering this past year on Herescope concerning the rise of a new eschatology, including the recent series "COSMS, CODES, AND CRYPTOLOGIES."[1]

One attendee wrote to us afterwards:
All the speakers were absolutely what God intended and as they wove each part of their presentation, it became a huge whole... how blessed we were. How very much I want to thank you for your listening to The Holy Spirit's leading to put this conference together, and for His strengthening each speaker to be emboldened and to speak. They were clear. They were encouraging and edifying, and in the last part, Warren Smith brought it all together in God's perfect comfort. Thank you, thank you. 

The talks were riveting and the presentations included many visual illustrations. These have all been professionally edited and packaged into a seamless filmed presentation that enables you to view the graphic images and overhead documentation while the speaker is talking about the topic. It is very user-friendly and makes it easy to understand the topics.

These high quality filmed conference presentations are available on DVD. Audio CDs are also available.

Visit the Discernment Ministries PRODUCT page: 
and scroll down to C245 Quantum Mysticism conference information.  

1. This series included articles:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


A New Online Booklet by Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Below is an excerpt from an exciting new booklet that has just been posted at the Discernment Ministries main website book page. The topic of this booklet is especially relevant to the rapidly rising popularity and mainstreaming of T.D. Jakes* in the evangelical world. To read the entire book, go to


The Rise of “Jesus Only” Baptism
Oneness Pentecostalism

            The Trinitarian formula, “in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” is customarily repeated over Christian converts when they are baptized. This recital derives from the mandate given by Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations (See Matthew 28:19.). Against this formula, some Pentecostal associations of churches advocate baptism only in “the name of Jesus Christ” or “the Lord Jesus.” About this offshoot of Pentecostalism, Vinson Synan says, “According to oneness teaching, the only valid baptism is in ‘Jesus’ name’ and not ‘in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost’.”[1] Oneness Pentecostalism advocates that “in the name of Jesus” be liturgically pronounced over each person who is baptized. Early Oneness Pentecostal G.T Haywood (1880-1931) wrote:

The Blood and the Name of Jesus are inseparable. To be saved by water baptism, it must be administered in the name of Jesus.... The life of the Blood of Christ is connected with baptism when it is administered in His Name.[2]

In some instances, those within the movement even teach that, if they were not baptized according to this exact formula, Christians are not really saved.[3] Therefore, Oneness Pentecostalism insists that professing Christians who have been previously baptized according to the Trinitarian formula be re-baptized in the name of “Jesus only”.

            The New Issue
            Oneness Pentecostalism arose out of the Assemblies of God denomination in the early 1900s. In seeking revival, David Reed observed that early Pentecostals “expended their energies in an intensive study of one book in the New Testament above all others, the Acts of the Apostles.”[4] In pursuit of a more dynamic spirituality, Pentecostals held camp meetings where pastors first sought revival for themselves, and then upon finding it, purposed to bring that revival back to their local churches. In many instances, what they brought back to their local congregations served to fertilize a spirituality that had already been planted and was growing.
            At one such camp meeting in Los Angeles, in April of 1913, a Canadian evangelist by the name of R. E. McAlister preached that the Apostles did not employ the triune formula in water baptism. Rather, he claimed that the Apostles administered baptism “only” in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5). Of that sermon, Frank J. Ewart, an early Oneness adherent, reportedly remarked, “The gun was fired from that platform which was destined to resound throughout all Christendom.”[5] McAlister’s sermon provoked many to seek God’s will about what formula should be repeated in administering the rite of Christian baptism.
            After devoting himself to Bible study and prayer into the night, one attendee, a German pastor by the name of John G. Scheppe, reportedly saw the light. In the wee hours of the morning he “ran through the camp, shouting that the Lord had shown him the truth on baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.”[6] Reed concludes of the incident, “Many listened, and not long hence, many believed.”[7]

            Replacement Baptism
            The “New Issue,” as it was called, spread like a wildfire in the Assemblies of God in the early 1900s. Significant numbers of pastors became convinced that baptism needed to be administered “in the name of Jesus Christ,” thereby invalidating the Trinitarian formula historically believed by and practiced within the Assemblies of God. Pastors enthusiastically submitted to rebaptism in Jesus’ name, and took the issue back to their local churches where they also re-baptized members of their congregations according to the same formula. To the present day, replacement baptism continues as a major issue for Oneness Pentecostals.
            But rebaptism according to the “new formula” also spawned contingent and serious theological issues regarding God’s person and nature. Representative of the movement, a pastor-theologian writes, “Baptism ‘in the name’ of the Lord Jesus Christ endures as the premiere issue for Oneness Pentecostalism—a corollary doctrine with the Oneness of God.”[8] To Oneness Pentecostals, the one name employed in baptism provides a theological insight into God’s ontological being. According to David Reed, the discovery of Jesus only baptism, “sowed the seeds of a radical Christocentric alternative that reasoned that, if there is only one name (Jesus) to be used in baptism, that name must be given by God in biblical revelation, and it must reflect the radical unity of God’s being.”[9] Such inference from the baptismal formula has caused Oneness Pentecostals to deny the Trinity and believe in a Unitarian-type of God.[10] This view of God believes the Father became fully incarnate in Jesus, the logical consequence being that when Jesus died, the Father died.
            Noted American televangelist T.D. Jakes, born and raised in Oneness Pentecostalism, now reportedly, in the interest of developing Christian unity, seeks to affirm both Oneness modalism and traditional Trinitarianism. Recently, the pastor of the Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, met with noted pastors James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel of Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington, to discuss Jake’s Oneness teachings, and to develop an understanding of and rapprochement between Jakes and other contemporary evangelicals. Of that conversation, and of Jakes’ Oneness convictions, an observer made this assessment:

T.D. Jakes wants to have both Trinitarians and Oneness Pentecostals, who are Unitarian Modalists, classified as brothers in Christ at the same time. But you cannot affirm both are in the realm of truth without removing the Trinity as a fundamental basis of the Christian faith. You cannot have both beliefs at the same time: either God is both three and one (as Trinitarians believe and Unitarians deny) or God is only one (as Unitarians like Oneness Pentecostals believe and Trinitarians deny). There is no bridging this divide without losing the Trinity itself, for He is the God we worship.[11]

All of which is to say, the issues raised and ideas embraced by Unitarian Pentecostalism have not retreated. They are alive and permeate Christianity around the world, especially in many developing third world countries where Oneness Pentecostalism is on the rise.

            The Purpose of the Booklet
            Historically then, Oneness Pentecostalism premises itself upon Acts narratives which presumably authorize performing the baptismal rite in the name of Jesus only, thus omitting the names of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Do these Acts passages mandate using a formula different from the one Jesus ordered in the Great Commission? (Matthew 28:19). If that is the case, should Christians, who were originally baptized “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” be re-baptized using Jesus’ name only? One Pentecostal theologian states that, “there is no simple solution to the problem.”[12] It will therefore be the purpose of this booklet to look into the scriptural basis upon which Oneness Pentecostals base their case for baptizing in Jesus’ name only, and the attendant question of whether the traditional Trinitarian formula of baptism ought therefore to be abandoned.

[1] Vinson Synan, The Century of the Holy Spirit (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2001): 141.
[2] Elder G.T. Haywood, The Birth of the Spirit in the Days of the Apostles (Indianapolis, IN: Christ Temple Bookstore, n. d.): 24.
[3] But as is pointed out by D.A. Reed, not all Oneness Pentecostals share this view of salvation. See D.A. Reed, “Oneness Pentecostalism,” The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal Charismatic Movements, Stanley M. Burgess, Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002): 943-944.
[4] David Reed, “Aspects of the Origins of Oneness Pentecostalism,” Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, Vinson Synan, Editor (Plainfield, NJ: Logos International, 1975): 158.
[5] Quoted by Kenneth Gill, “Dividing Over Oneness,” in Synan, Century of the Holy Spirit, 143.
[6] Ibid. 145-146.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Talmage L. French, Our God Is One (Indianapolis, IN: Voice & Vision Publications, 1999): 209.
[9] D. A. Reed, “Oneness Pentecostalism,” New International Dictionary, 937.
[10] The heresy is called modalism. “Modalism denies the distinction of persons within the Godhead, claiming that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are just ways in which [the one] God expresses Himself.” See R. C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992): 35.
[11] Michael Foust, “T.D. Jakes Embraces Doctrine of the Trinity, Moves Away from ‘Oneness’ View,” Christianity Today Blog, January 27, 2012 . ( td_jakes_embrac.html).
[12] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology, Volume II (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996): 286.

*Ed. Note:  Current history about T.D. Jakes and his rising popularity, controversies, mainstreaming, and leadership stardom in the evangelical world can be found at Pastor Ken Silva's Apprising Ministries website which has a convenient search engine that enables the viewer to locate past articles on this topic.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Vain Imaginations

Speculative Ideas and Enthusiastic Visionary Ramblings

J.C. Philpot

"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13.)

"Be sober," adds the Apostle, or, as the word might be translated, be "watchful." Sobriety in religion is a blessed gift and grace. In our most holy faith there is no room for lightness. The things which concern our peace are solemn, weighty matters, and if they lie with any degree of weight and power on our spirit, they will subdue that levity which is the very breath of the carnal mind. 

Some men are naturally light, and as a man's natural make and disposition will sometimes, in spite of his better feelings and judgment, discover itself, some good men and acceptable preachers have fallen into the snare of dropping light expressions in the pulpit. But it is much to be lamented that they have set such an example, for many have imitated their lightness who do not possess their grace, and have availed themselves of that very circumstance as a recommendation which in those good men was but an infirmity. How different was the testimony which Burnet gives of Leighton—"I can say with truth, that in a free and frequent conversation with him for above two-and-twenty years, I never knew him speak an idle word, or one that had not a direct tendency to edification; and I never once saw him in any other temper but that which I wished to be in the last minutes of my life."

But sobriety implies not merely the absence of all unbecoming levity in speech and conduct, but the absence also of all wild, visionary imaginations in the things of God. It denotes, therefore, that "spirit of a sound mind" which the Apostle says is the gift of God. (2 Tim. 1:7.) Few things are more opposed to that wisdom which is from above (James 3:17), and to that anointing which teaches all things, and is truth, and is no lie (1 John 2:27), or to the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope—than those wild flights of imagination, and those visionary ideas and feelings which so many substitute for the solid realities of the life of God. These are some of the strongholds of which Paul speaks and which he had to pull down. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:4, 5.)

These vain "imaginations," these speculative ideas and enthusiastic visionary ramblings, often the fruit of a disordered mind, or produced by Satan as an angel of light, which some seem to think so much of, Paul would pull down as strongholds of delusion. 

Hart seems at one time to have been nearly caught in this snare—"But, after many a gloomy, doleful hour spent in solitude and sorrow, not without strong and frequent cries and tears to God, and beseeching him to reveal himself to me in a clearer manner, I thought he asked me, in the midst of one of my prayers, whether I rather chose the visionary revelations, of which I had formed some wild idea, or to be content with trusting to the low, despised mystery of a crucified man?"—Hart's "Experience."...

...Vital godliness, it is true, has its mysteries, its revelations, and manifestations, its spiritual and supernatural discoveries and operations; but all these come through the Word of Truth, which is simple, weighty, and solid, and as far removed from everything visionary or imaginative, wild or flighty, as light is from darkness; and therefore every act of faith, or of hope, or of love, will be as simple, solid, and weighty as the Word of Truth itself, through the medium of which, by the power of the Spirit, they are produced and called forth. If any doubt this, let them read in some solemn moment the last discourses of our blessed Lord with his disciples. How simple, how solid, how weighty are these discourses. 

Must not, then, the faith which receives, believes, and is mixed with these words of grace and truth, the hope which anchors in the promises there spoken, the love which embraces the gracious and glorious Person of him who spoke them, be simple and solid too? What room is there in such a faith, hope, and love for visionary ideas, wild speculations, and false spiritualizations of Scripture, any more than there is in the words of the Lord himself?

But to be "sober" means also to be wakeful and watchful, as we find the word used by the great Apostle—"So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." (1 Thess. 5:6, 7, 8.) Here sobriety is opposed to sleepiness, and is connected with walking in the light and in the day, as sleepiness and its frequent cause, drunkenness, are connected with darkness and night.

One of the greatest curses God can send on a people and its rulers, its prophets and seers, is a spirit of deep sleep, as the prophet speaks—"For the Lord has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes; the prophets and your rulers, the seers has he covered." (Isa. 29:10.) But to be sober is to be awaked out of this sleep, and, as a consequence, to walk not only wakefully but watchfully. It implies, therefore, that careful, circumspect walking, that daily living, moving, speaking, and acting in the fear of God whereby alone we can be kept from the snares spread for our foot at every step of the way. 

How many have fallen into outward evil and open disgrace from lack of walking watchfully and circumspectly and taking heed to their steps. Instead of watching the first movements of sin and against, as the Lord speaks, "the entering into temptation" (Luke 22:40), they rather dally with it until they are drawn away and enticed of their own lust, which as unchecked goes on to conceive and bring forth sin, which, when it is finished or carried out and accomplished in positive action, brings forth death. (James 2:14, 15.)

Excerpted from J.C. Philpot, "Meditations on First Peter Chapter One, Part VII," 1869, posted at: Adapted for blog posting.