Tuesday, February 25, 2014

“Presence” Eschatology

Part 2
The PASSION of the PRESENCE & the Purpose of the Passion 

Read Part 1

Rick Joyner's Morningstar conference advertisement
…[W]hat if we changed our focus all together and our only focus was just to be in His presence?… This is what’s burning in the heart of the culture here at Morningstar, burning to be in His presence. We’re burning to stay in His presence, we’re burning to be in love with Him and we’re burning to know Him and not just about Him and so what we’ve decided to do, is take 90 days, starting January 10th, just to sit at his feet, just to spend time with Him and develop this intimacy with Him…. So please come and join us as we pursue His presence yet again.
—Rick Joyner[1]

We are enabled to partner with the Kingdom of Heaven and see it released here on earth! The Presence of God within us will bring reformation to the world around us—encountering a loving God!
—Bill Johnson[2]

The radiance of His presence will increasingly pour into the spiritual realms surrounding our world….
Simultaneously two events will manifest on earth, they will be the result of one, eternal source. The same increasing presence that causes wrath to descend upon the wicked will cause God's glory to be seen upon the righteous.

—Francis Frangipane[3]

The Coming Spirit “Presence” 

What does the word “Presence” mean to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and International House Of Prayer (IHOP) teachers? There is unique eschatological significance to their use of the word “presence” and its companion term “glory.” These two movements, increasingly popular in the evangelical world, are teaching a different eschatology. This eschatology is the engine that drives the entire IHOP youth movement, and it accounts for many of the strange activities of the NAR. Because many evangelical leaders are now openly associating with the IHOP and NAR, it becomes necessary to more fully explain their aberrant doctrines.[4]

In brief, IHOP/NAR leaders hold to the old Manifest Sons of God/Latter Rain cult[5] teachings that “Christ must come TO His Church before He comes FOR His Church.”[6] They believe there will be a separate “Spirit” or “Presence” infilling in the last days, evidenced with many signs and wonders. They say their passionate worship will invoke a “Presence” which will “energize the church with new power and demolish the works of Satan.”[7] This Spirit of Christ (i.e., the “Presence”) will come first to indwell the church before Jesus’ Second Coming. Thus there is a doctrine of a two-phased or progressive Second Coming.

NAR and IHOP leaders teach that there will be an “increasing” return of this Spirit/”Presence” which will release a special “glory” anointing on the church to equip the powerful mobilization of an endtime “Joel’s Army”[8] to take dominion[9] over the earth. There is considerable evidence that they believe that the Bride of Christ will actually become Christ, Who thus returns in the Bride's fleshly bodies. Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, who has researched this eschatology for the past several decades, asserts that these teachers are not emphasizing the literal physical return of Christ Jesus:

The Glory, in the Latter Rain understanding, is the visible manifestation of the Spirit… [D]eceived Christians are being led to expect a manifested spirit and not the visible return of the Lord Jesus. I believe the way we are headed is into teaching about the return of the `lord` to his church, in glory, before (or perhaps even instead of?) the physical return of Jesus.[10][all emphasis added] 

There is a direct historical lineage of this eschatology. It originated in the old Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God cult[11] that taught a prior “Secret Coming for the Elite” before the 2nd Coming:

The neo-Gnostic believes the manifestation of the Sons of God comes about in a secret inner coming of Christ TO some Christians which would transform them into “Overcomers.” [George Warnock wrote] “Christ should visit the saints . . . and minister His life ‘in secret’ before He is openly manifest.” In doing this they reject the literal Resurrection and Rapture (the personal coming of Jesus Christ FOR His Church). It is interesting to note they will acknowledge Christ is coming, but His coming is off in the future. The emphasis is not on Christ’s soon appearance but on the great “power” or “new anointing” that is to be manifest in the Church.[12][bold added, italics in original] 

This eschatology is not classic Postmillenialism, nor is it the familiar teaching about the Rapture. In fact, it is essentially a form of Gnosticism.[13] Some of the teachers deny that Jesus Christ returns in the flesh at all (contra 1John 4:3, 2John 1:7). Others teach that the church will become Christ, incarnating Him in the flesh to rule and reign on earth. Some teach a murky middle ground that seems to say that the 2nd Coming will only occur after Jesus has first appeared to “inhabit” His church on earth with His “Spirit” (i.e., Jesus’s secret returning as a Christ “Spirit” or “Presence”).

This alleged event is sometimes referred to as a Second Pentecost.[14] The Second Pentecost is said to be a special secondary “outpouring” of the Spirit in response to the church’s obedience in the “restoration” of the “offices” of apostle and prophet to govern the church, a teaching also emphasized by C. Peter Wagner and his New Apostolic Reformation adherents.[15] Then will come an endtime allegorical “Feast of Tabernacles,” a recurrent theme amongst all who teach this eschatology:

The First Pentecost caused believers to be “clothed with power from on high”. The Second Pentecost is about the incarnation of Christ into His Body.... This is what Latter Rain teachers said we must expect in the final outpouring of the Church age![16][emphasis added]

Old Testament scriptures are spiritualized to see birthing as the return of the ark to the temple, that is the coming of Christ invisibly into His living temple the church. This will occur when the Feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled which celebrates the Lord dwelling among His people. “When this happens, no longer will it be the Head (Jesus Christ) in heaven and the body (believers) on earth - but one Perfect Man filling both heaven and earth.”[17][bold and italic added, underline in original] 

The belief that Jesus Christ will first come as a “Spirit” or “Presence” alters foundational doctrines about Christ and the Trinity (Rom.1:3-4).[18] It ignores (or discounts) that Jesus is coming again in His resurrected body (Rev. 1:7; Heb. 9:27, etc.). It is not unlike Docetism, a heresy in the early church that denied that Jesus Christ came the first time in the flesh. Pastor Anton Bosch informs us that this “is also a popular device used by cults and others that have set dates for His return and then when He did not return on that date the response is that He returned ‘in Spirit.’”[19]

What does it mean when these teachers say that Jesus secretly or invisibly returns first as a “Spirit” or “Presence”? They think that the Church (the Body, the Bride) becomes inhabited by this “Spirit”/”Presence” to the point of actually becoming Christ on earth. Note: This isn’t talking about the indwelling Holy Spirit in the life of an individual believer. Rather, they believe in a separate “filling” by a coming “Presence” that results in a corporate “God-man” or “Perfect Man.” Hence their misapplication of the phrase “manifestation of the sons of God” from Romans 8:19. One critic has summarized this theology:

In MSOG teaching this scripture is taken to mean a powerful endtimes revelation of believers as glorified, transformed and perfected, and possessed by Christ to such a degree that they become One with him and become a living corporate Son of God on the earth, ruling with him. This will be accomplished by the descent of “the glory” in a final overwhelming event that will transfigure all those who receive it. (Other less heretical versions have this event as a progression into spiritual perfection and holiness in the endtimes.)[20][emphasis added]

This faulty scenario discounts the risen Jesus Christ our Savior, the Son of God, sitting on the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55-56; Heb. 1:3; 12:18, etc.). Instead, their “God-man” is the “manifest sons of God” – a corporate body (the “Bride”) manifesting itself as Christ in the flesh here on earth. Due to these fundamental errors many scriptures are misapplied to the church that pertain to Jesus Christ alone.

Latter Rain teachers emphasize this “Bride” will become the flesh of Christ incarnate on earth; that this Corporate Bride will become filled or inhabited with the “fulness” of this “Spirit” of Christ, a “Presence.” This indwelling “Presence” is thus said to equip the Corporate Bride to walk out (literally) the judgments of the book of Revelation—as Christ’s incarnate body—and she is charged with the mandate to subdue the earth and put all things under His feet.[21] Thus many Scriptures that pertain only to Jesus in the book of Revelation, are misapplied to the Bride as her duties and responsibilities. There are many variations on this theme, and many teachers contradict their own statements.[22] But this is the belief that forms the foundation for the extreme Dominionism that is being taught.

There is actually quite a bit of confusion in IHOP and NAR documents about the “Spirit of Jesus” and the “Holy Spirit.” When they talk about the “Spirit” they often mean this secondary “Presence” that they are trying to invoke by their 24/7 prayers. Ironically, they downplay the actual Holy Spirit—especially His indwelling presence already promised to believers.[23] Instead they insist that their followers must perform all sorts of extrabiblical exotic rituals, frenzied antics, pronounced decrees and shouting declarations in order to summon more of the “Presence” of this “Spirit.”

Their “Spirit” is not the Holy Spirit.[24] And Jesus Christ is not returning as a “Spirit.” As Dr. Steinkamp has astutely observed:

Jesus has not become the Holy Spirit. It is rather the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer. The Resurrected Jesus is at the Father's right hand and in His glorified resurrected body He will return bodily to the earth. Obviously an indwelling spirit would not need to return from heaven. It is on this basis that some Dominion teachers assert that Jesus can be an on-going incarnation of God in His body (church) upon the earth. Consequently scriptures pertaining to Christ's ruling on earth are often seen as referring the Church rather than Jesus….[25]

The old Latter Rain/MSOG teachers used their own unique terminology to describe their unorthodox views. Likewise, the IHOP/NAR has its own special “in-house” (pun intended) language. It can be very difficult for the “uninitiated” to wade through their gilded spiritual-speak. Nevertheless, once one understands the complex verbiage, it becomes clear that the original heresies about the “Manifest Sons of God” have been modernized for popular consumption.

The History of “Presence” Eschatology
It all began in 1951 when George Warnock, who had been at the Latter Rain Sharon Camp Meetings in Canada and who had been the personal secretary of Ern Baxter (an associate of William Branham's[26] ministry), took up residence at the Sharon Orphanage and School doing office work. He then proceeded to write a book titled The Feast of Tabernacles, which is “based on an allegorical interpretation of the feasts of Israel that has the Feast of Tabernacles standing for a glorious end-times church that would arise before Christ can return.”[27] In this book he laid out a systematic doctrine for this movement calling itself the New Order of the Latter Rain. Warnock stated the premise as:

"Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles typify the whole church age, beginning with the death of Jesus on the cross, consummating in the [the Feast of Tabernacles] the Manifestation of the Sons of God. These 'Overcomers' will become perfected and step into immortality in order to establish the kingdom of God on the earth."[28] [emphasis added] 

“This will come about by a secret inner coming of Christ to some Christians which would transform them into ‘Overcomers.’”[29][all emphasis added] 

When Warnock talked of a perfected church he meant the endtime church would—by this “secret inner coming of Christ”—mature into “fullness” to become Christ (i.e., “incarnating Christ”). In other words, the church would become intrinsically one with Christ—not the biblical one in union/communion with Christ— but one in essence.[30] This corporate group of “Overcomers” believed they would then become imbued with both perfection and immortality. Bob DeWaay, in his groundbreaking report on the NAR titled “The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation,” summarized the eschatological significance of Warnock’s teaching:

One of the most heretical teachings associated with the [New Order of the Latter Rain] was called “the manifested sons of God” that claimed that certain elite Christians would obtain the promise of immortality (as promised in Romans 8:19) now rather than at the parousia. Warnock taught that all enemies, in which he included death, the “last enemy,” had to be conquered by the church before Christ could return: “God says Christ is going to stay right where He is until all His enemies are under His feet. And His enemies include the “last enemy,” which is Death. There must arise a group of overcomers who shall conquer and become absolutely victorious over all the opposing forces of the world, the flesh, and the Devil—before this dispensation draws to a close.” The “overcomers” is another term used by the Latter Rain to describe elitist Christians who are to be distinguished from the rest of us.[31] [emphasis added] 

There are several interrelated teachings that form a further basis for this radical departure from orthodox doctrine. Note the unusual language in this summary of this eschatology:

  • MANIFESTATION OF THE SONS OF GOD which is the fullness and glorification of the Church on the day that “Christ is formed in his people”. They are a mighty Army of the Lord (Joel's Army). This is sometimes described as the Birth of the Manchild—i.e. the overcomers of the Church are brought (literally) to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, and become the Glorified Christ—the “many-membered Body of Christ” on earth by means of the infilling of the Glory of God…. 
  • THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES, understood spiritually as the Harvest Festival of joy and gladness, when the Ark returns to the Living Temple, the glory cloud returns, and Christ appears in the midst of His people. Christ is incarnated in His Body—the Coming of Christ understood as invisible and spiritual (i.e., “The Kingdom of God is within you”). Also known as “The Latter Rain” outpouring of Joel's prophecy—the Second Pentecost in which Christ indwells his entire [corporate] Body, as opposed to the first Pentecost, when he indwelt individuals. 
  • ASTONISHING SIGNS AND WONDERS will take place at the hands of the Manifested Sons of God. Their campaign will lead to a glorious worldwide Endtimes Harvest—as the manchild overcomers go forth to reap [the harvest, ed.].[32] [some emphasis added]

As noted earlier, this movement also taught the necessity of the “restoration” of the “office” of apostles and prophets, a facet which is emphasized nowadays by the NAR. This restoration of a hierarchical pyramid of dictatorial power, reigning over both the church and the world, is envisioned as the powerful enforcement mechanism to “reap” (“harvest”) the nations.[33] More will be said on this later.

Earl Paulk, an early influential teacher, claimed that Jesus has “entered a higher realm of restoration and love by becoming an indwelling Spirit.”[34] Note: Paulk was not referring to the Holy Spirit here. Paulk’s message of “Christ in us” was one of achieving both dominion and immortality:

Christ in us must take dominion over the earth.... The next move of God cannot occur until Christ in us takes dominion.[35][all emphasis added] 

Jesus Christ, as the first-fruit of the Kingdom, began the work of conquering death on an individual basis, but we, as His church, will be the ones to complete the task…. Death will not be conquered by Jesus returning to earth. It will be conquered when the church stands up boldly and says, “We have dominion over the earth.[36] [emphasis added] 

Paulk believed that Christians must release this “Spirit” into the kingdoms of this world through prayer. The prayer-induced release of this “Spirit” would cause worldly kingdoms to crumble as the church becomes empowered as overcomers to take dominion.[37] Paulk taught that the church was the “incarnation” of Jesus:

“Jesus was God in the flesh. We must be as He was in the world, and even greater in volume and influence.” 

“The completion of the incarnation of God in the world must be in His church…. Jesus Christ is the firstfruit, but without the ongoing harvest, the incarnation will never be complete.”… 

We are on earth as extensions of God to finish the work He began. We are the essence of God, His on-going incarnation in the world.[38] [emphases added] 

If this sounds similar to the New Age teachings about the “god within” it is because both have roots in Gnosticism.[39] Evangelical postmodern teachers have adopted similar “incarnational” language.[40] Thus, their shared belief about “incarnating Christ” may explain why certain evangelical leaders seem to have no difficulty finding common ground with the current teachers in the IHOP and NAR.[41]

Bill Britton, a prolific writer and Latter Rain teacher, similarly taught Jesus’s return through a corporate body of flesh. Again note the unique terminology:

Suddenly the world sees Jesus again in the flesh, as He manifests Himself through these thousands of saints simultaneously around the world…. God was manifested in the flesh, in one body [Jesus Christ], then think what it will be when He manifests that same Life through thousands at the same time

Beloved, it is people in human, flesh bodies who shall conquer this world and defeat Satan…. Jesus defeated Satan and overcame him for us and put all of hell’s forces to an open shame. And He did this in a flesh body. Since He is the Head of the Body, it is now in order for the Body to follow in the pattern which He has set for us…. This Body of Christ, the Overcomer, shall come forth in mighty power to manifest the fullness of Christ in the earth. They are known as the Manifested Sons of God….[42][emphases added] 

I see the great year of Jubilee, when we shall pass through the veil into the very Presence of the fullness of God, to be filled with this fullness and go forth proclaiming liberty to all of creation. [43][emphases added] 

Notice how Bill Britton's teaching about a simultaneous manifestation of this “Presence” is remarkably similar to Barbara Marx Hubbard's proposed “Armaggedon Alternative” to bypass God's coming Judgment. This prominent New Age leader teaches a “Planetary Pentecost” that resembles the Second Pentecost taught by the Latter Rain/MSOG. Hubbard wrote in her book The Revelation of an endtime “great Instant of Co-operation which can transform enough, en masse, to avoid the necessity of the seventh seal being broken.” (See Warren Smith's book False Christ Coming, p. 100-103, to recognize the other similarities in these eschatologies.)

These older Latter Rain/MSOG doctrines about the “Presence” would go on to have a second life in the 1980s and 1990s as leaders began to revise and update these teachings for more widespread appeal.

The Kansas City Prophets & the Presence 
By the late 1980s the Latter Rain teachings became fully embedded in the doctrines of the movement that has now become widely known as IHOP and NAR. In 1990, just as the “Kansas City Prophets” coalesced with John Wimber of Vineyard and C. Peter Wagner of Fuller Seminary (who later set up the NAR[44]), Discernment Ministries published an astonishing report about a 1989 Vineyard Conference[45] where these old Latter Rain cult doctrines were being resurrected. The report summarized what was being said:
  1. They believe they will become Christ corporately and individually. When you hear someone say, as Mike Bickle (from Kansas City Fellowship speaking at a Vineyard Conference in 1989) said, “Christ is the Alpha and we are the Omega,” you immediately realize this is not Scriptural—only Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. What is it then? Manifest Sons of God… i.e., we are Christ corporately.… 
  2. They believe the Church is the Ongoing Incarnation of Jesus. This is the cornerstone of Manifest Sons teaching. Instead of us partaking in the divine nature of Jesus, we become EQUAL TO and EVEN ASSUME the ROLE OF JESUS CHRIST.[46] [bold added, underline in original] 

This is a subtle deception. While acknowledging that Jesus came in the flesh, they then say that the CHURCH incarnates Jesus, becoming Christ in the flesh. They even use the term “Rapture” to refer to the “Christ within”:

The RAPTURE as looked for by the Manifests Sons of God is a coming forth of the “Christ within” every saint after the order of the Pattern Son. He made it as a divine, immortal and sinless Son of God. This can be duplicated by each individual, who by following Jesus as the Pattern Son, becomes a Manifested Son. This company is known as “The New Breed” or “Joel’s Army” etc. They will take dominion (establish a theocracy) and execute judgment on those they deem ungodly.[47][bold added] 

The infilling “Presence” was often described as the “glory.” At the same 1989 Vineyard “Prophets Conference,”[48] the now-disgraced “Kansas City Prophet” Paul Cain[49] stated: “If you get close enough to God, you can extract the very breath of God, you can extract the very glory of God right out of Him and then pass that on to your generation.”[50] Another speaker at the conference twisted Scripture to state that we “become” the Word:

“…the Lord has well planted this seed of the New Bride and the New Breed…. He’s about to open the womb and He’s about to give birth to this New Thing…. When the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us we beheld the glories of the only begotten of the Father and when YOU begin to become that Word, I want you to know that the world will behold the glory of the Father and that’s what we’re waiting to see…. I want you to know that we’re going to have some channeling one of these days, but it’s going to be channeled right out of the throne room of heaven.”[51][emphases added] 

This “Presence” was also referred to as “fire” during the 1990s. There is a history to this. Franklin Hall, responsible for many of the teachings that came into the Latter Rain and the Manifested Sons of God in the 1940s and 1950s, taught a “fire baptism.” This “fire baptism,” he claimed, could be “passed on through the laying on of hands, (impartation) and other extremes imparting the Holy Ghost fire into people's bodies, through fasting and prayer.”[52] Hall’s old teaching was revived in the 1990s during the Toronto and Brownsville “Laughing Revivals,” with many reports of a “Spirit” descending on people like “fire.” According to an in-depth report on this phenomenon, Benny Hinn specifically described it as “the fire of God’s presence”:

the day will come when the fire of God’s presence will visibly appear in public meetings. You may have never heard that before - it’s biblical.... We’ve known the baptism of the Holy Ghost, but we have not yet known the fire. And I’m here to tell you in Southern California, God is about to visit you and the whole Church with fresh fire.[53][bold, underline added, italics in original]

A few years later, in May of 2000, at the C. Peter Wagner’s National School of the Prophets,[54] IHOP leader Mike Bickle explained how the “fire” coming down was a second Pentecost experience that would anoint the church with a “forerunner’s spirit” for judgment:

“In Daniel 7:10, the fiery stream, or the river of fire that breaks fourth out of the throne of God, I believe is the person of the Holy Spirit. And when the fire comes forth, the fire is not just judgment. The fire is the revelation of the burning desire of God's heart for people. Now, with that burning desire, when rebellion rises up against it, the fire removes that which hinders love, and we call it judgment. But the fire breaks forth. His name is the Holy Spirit, and when this fire comes through history, Malachi 3 says, “The forerunners at the end of the age are going to loose the burning fire.” The spirit of burning is the manifestation through the House of God in prayer, of this river of fire called the Holy Spirit…. It's the anointing of the forerunner's spirit… the river of God, the Holy Spirit, clothing us with fire, bringing us into that kind of union, that intimate bridal partnership that we call intercessory worship.”[55] [italics in original. bold added]

Bickle is saying that this “fire” is a “manifestation” of the “Holy Spirit” that can be summoned by IHOP style fervent prayer. NAR “apostle” Cindy Jacobs, immediately jumped in to reinforce Bickle’s remarks, by admitting, “We don't understand this part of Pentecost.” Thus she provided a clear indication that Bickle’s remarks were in reference to the old Latter Rain idea about a Second Pentecost. Jacobs further underscored Bickle’s statement by claiming that a “fire of the Holy Spirit” is “coming…. And it’s going to issue out from us into the nations of the earth.”[56]

“The Days of His Presence” 
Francis Frangipane, one of the original “Kansas City Prophets” along with Paul Cain, Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle and others,[57] published an influential book The Days of His Presence in 1996. In this quasi-theological treatise, Frangipane uses the same terms “glory” and “presence” in the same way as the old Latter Rain/MSOG teachers. Notice he uses the word “Presence” with a capital P:

…God’s plan is that here on earth, in us, the glory of the Lord will be revealed! The luminous, radiant light of His Presence, as it shone from Moses’ face and flooded Solomon’s temple at its dedication, as it radiated from Jesus and bathed His disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration—that light of God’s Presence shall arise from within us at the end of the age! This same divine glory shall, in ever-increasing degrees of brightness, appear upon us in the years prior to the Lord’s actual second coming.[58] [italics in original, bold added]

Frangipane bases his mystical eschatology in part on personal visions and spiritual experiences with this “Presence.” After seeing a vision of a “glorious, heavenly procession” of angelic beings, Frangipane says he “gained an understanding of Christ’s expansive Presence and the impact His glory will have on the church at the end of the age.”[59] He writes, “the Lord’s Presence emanates from His glorified body in heaven,”[60] a statement which sounds similar to the Gnostic idea of “emanations.”[61] He then states this “Presence” would increase:

So also will this world change as the person of the Lord Jesus and His millennial reign draw near. The radiance of His Presence will increasingly fill the spiritual realms surrounding our world. And not only will the world as we know it begin to experience dramatic changes as demonic strongholds are confronted and toppled by the Lord, but among those whose hearts are open and longing for Him, a great transformation will occur!... The Presence of Christ will be all that fills our minds.[62][bold added] 

Nowhere in Scripture can we find any basis for a doctrine of an increase in a “Presence of Christ.” Yet, according to Frangipane, this “Presence” will appear “prior to” the second coming of Christ and will both intensify and increase:

Yet, before He appears, while He is near but still invisible, that same radiance of glory will be poured out on “all flesh”…. For as He is in power and glory when He appears, so He is beforehand though unseen! And it is this out-raying Presence which will grow ever more resplendent in the church prior to His second coming.

With surge of His glory many things will be quickened on earth…. 

 [W]e who are open and yielded to Christ will watch in amazement as His Presence in us also intensifies and increases…. He will present to Himself a bride without spot or wrinkle…. 

The church will be beautified with His glory and filled with His radiance before He physically comes for her! 

He must increase and we must decrease until His Presence fills everything, everywhere, with Himself.[63] [Italics in original, bold added] 

This last statement sounds like Panentheism, which teaches that God is IN everything.[64] Like the other Latter Rain teachers, Frangipane believes there is a “Transcendent Purpose”[65] for this indwelling corporate “Presence.” The church has a mission, and it is dominion:

…[T]he church at the end of the age is to be given a stewardship, a mandate from heaven. At the bidding of the Sovereign King, we are called to participate with God in the process of divine consummation. 

For the unrepentant world, the apostate church, and the demons of hell, this will manifest as a period of God’s judgment and wrath. However, for those who are yielded to God, the same Spirit which comes to judge the wicked is also coming to inhabit and transform the righteous! [66] [emphases added] 

Note that Frangipane states that a “Spirit” would come to judge the wicked, and that this same “Spirit” would “inhabit” the righteous. Scripture does not say that a “Spirit” will judge the wicked, nor does it say that the church will be indwelt by a “Presence” to judge the wicked. The Bible specifies that it is “the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead” (2Tim. 4:1). The church is not Jesus. This is yet another teaching that has the effect of corrupting the doctrine of the Trinity.

Frangipane explains his view that “the church” would be “entering Christ’s glory in successive stages of spiritual fulness.”[67] He alleges that “during this last great time of fulness, the Presence of Christ will expand in the lives of those surrendered to His Lordship….”[68] This progressive return of the Lord via His “Presence” is said to be as an inner coming: “before the day of the Lord breaks, the morning star shall rise in our hearts!” and there shall be an “unveiling of Christ rising in His people… the glory of God shall rise within us” which is said to create a “harmony” and “unity” that “is the consequence of Christ’s Presence.”[69]

Frangipane focuses on the Greek word parousia which can mean “presence.” Based in part on another vision he experienced, he believes that “the entire sign-period is activated directly by Christ’s increasing Presence, the Parousia, at the end of the age.” He clearly states his belief that “the Lord will increasingly manifest Himself in His Presence before He physically returns.”[70] To underscore this point, he asserts that “there is a difference between the calendar day of Christ’s return and the season of spiritual fulness introducing it.” Thus, as like the early Latter Rain taught, the return of Christ is split into two parts beginning with the “arrival of Christ’s Presence.”[71] In case there is any doubt, Frangipane reiterates:

…I am not saying this time of Christ’s Presence will take the place of the rapture; only that it will precede it.[72]

Our destiny is not just to carry Christ inside but to reveal the fulness of His glory in this world…. 

As Jesus was both God and man, so the church is actually the dwelling of Christ in the temple of man. There is not a different Jesus in us than He who dwells in heaven. He is Christ wrapped in glory in heaven. He is Christ wrapped in our human flesh on earth…. 

He has chosen to hide His glory not from us but in us [73] [Italics in original, bold added] 

It is at this juncture that Frangipane introduces the ominous doctrine that explains the purpose of this “fulness” of “Presence”—“a final cleansing would occur during the last years of the age.”[74] This is a thinly-disguised reference the Latter Rain’s oft-prophesied endtime “harvest.” “Harvesting” the earth is synonymous with the idea of “cleansing” the earth.[75] Those who “cannot accept God’s promises of a glorified church at the end of the age” are categorized with the warning “beware of the dogs.”[76] Lest there be any doubt, he reiterates, “At the end of the age, everything short of oneness with Christ will appear as sin.”[77] Does this mean that sin will be defined as anything short of experiencing this Christ “Presence” within? One can only wonder.

These unorthodox ideas would go on to become an integral part of the doctrine of both IHOP and the NAR. The next sections of this article series will examine the evidence.

Stay tuned for Part 3. . . . 

Due to inclement weather the Presence could not show up and needed to be rescheduled.

Pastor Larry DeBruyn recently published an article “The Present of ‘His Presence’” which is very germane to the issues brought up in this current article series. Below are a few key excerpts:

The Bible teaches that the risen and glorified Christ has a corporeal presence, not on earth, but in heaven. According to the apostle Peter, Jesus Christ “has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him” (I Peter 3:22, NIV). The author of Hebrews agrees (Hebrews 4:14; 8:1). Jesus said He was going to that place (John 14:2-3). 

The Bible promises Jesus’ spiritual presence with believers on earth (Matthew 28:20), but precludes His earthly physical presence until His Second Advent, which will be personal, physical, visible, and public. At the time of His ascension, two men in white assured the disciples, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11)…. 
  • On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit (the “Comforter”) descended. “…in His goodness the Lord offered to them His presence again as He came to dwell not just with them, but in them, both individually (as saints) and corporately (as the church).” 
  • “As such, the divine presence with people would no longer be associated, as during the Old Testament Era, with a place (i.e., a land, a city, a mount, and a building)….” 
  • “Although Jesus would no longer be physically present with His faithful followers, the Spirit, whom He would send to take His place, would, and by faith we have that presence NOW! The Spirit of Christ is both with us and in us! (Romans 8:9b)” 
  • “The error of the new spirituality is that it assumes that God’s presence can be ginned-up via the exercise of human passion…. Rather, Jesus’ presence in us depends upon our acceptance of His propitiation for us—that He died for our sins to make us fit vessels to be in (Romans 6:3-11). Christ graces sinners with His presence when by faith they receive the cleansing that can only come through His blood and new birth from above (John 3:3, 7).”[78] [underline added] 

When will we see Jesus again? Not as an invisible “Presence” sneaking in the backdoor. Rather Scripture is clear:

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;
and unto them that look for Him
shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

(Hebrews 9:27) 

An old commentary on this verse from Hebrews states:

The Scripture is express unto a double appearing or coming of Christ. The first was His coming in the flesh, coming into the world, coming unto His own,—namely, to discharge the work of His mediation, especially to make atonement for sin in the sacrifice of Himself, unto the accomplishment of all promises made concerning it, and all types instituted for its representation; the second is in glory, unto the judgment of all, when He shall finish and complete the eternal salvation of the church. Any other personal appearance or coming of Christ the Scripture knows now, and in this [verse] expressly excludes any imagination of it. His first appearance is past; and appear the second time He will not until that judgment comes which follows death, and the salvation of the church shall be completed…. 

There shall be a public vision and sight of Him. He was seen on the earth in the days of His flesh: He is now in heaven, where no mortal eye can see Him, within the veil of that glory which we cannot look into…. 

The present long-continued absence of Christ in heaven is the great trial of the world…. The promise of His coming, recorded in the Scripture, is the ground of our faith herein…. In the continual supplies of His Spirit which believers do receive… is the great pledge of His mediatory life in heaven, of the continuance of His love and care towards the church, and consequently the great assurance of His second coming.[79]

1. Transcript of a video message that was posted at http://morningstarministries.org advertising a Feb. 14-16 event “90 Days in His Presence,” which was postponed due to bad weather. Note that the original weekend was Valentine’s Day, in keeping with the bridal intimacy theme. Transcribed by Kim Treweek, January 15, 2014. Emphasis added. 
2. TheElijahList advertisement for Bill Johnson’s book Hosting the Presence: Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda, in which appears as a quote from his book, emphasis added, http://www.elijahshopper.com/Hosting_the_Presence_p/bk-bj016.htm
3. Francis Frangipane, “The Intensifying Presence,” TheElijahList, Jan. 30, 2013. Note that Frangipane, who is most noted for his mystical Gnostic beliefs, has authored a number of books about “presence.” This excerpt was attributed to his book The Days of His Presence. See also his writings: http://elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=12298 and http://elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=12182. Frangipane disparages doctrine in favor of the experiences of God, saying: “When we accept Christ into our hearts, He does not enter simply as a doctrine. No, He enters us as a living voice. His Spirit brings conviction and direction; He speaks through dreams, visions, revelation, and understanding of the Scriptures.”
4. This article series has been authored by Sarah Leslie with the assistance of both Jewel Grewe and Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, both of whom had firsthand experiences with these teachings. Research assistance, historical insights and theological perspective was provided by Pastor Anton Bosch, Pastor Larry DeBruyn, Dr. Martin Erdmann and Susan Conway. 
5. See this history: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ditc11.htm 
6. See Travers and Jewel van der Merwe, Strange Fire: The Rise of Gnosticism in the Church (Conscience Press, 2005), posted online at: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/StrangeFire.pdf Also quoted in this key Herescope post that explains the endtime eschatology of this movement: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/post-apostolic.html 
7. Dr. Steinkamp, “The Restoration of Davidic Warfare/Worship,” The Plumbline, Volume 7, No. 4, September/October 2002. This is a quote from Michael Moriarity, The New Charismatics (Zondervan, 1992), p. 280. 
8. See the booklet Joel’s Army posted online at: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/JoelsArmy.pdf 
9. See “Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism” for a full survey of this doctrine: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/ChristianImperialism.htm. Also see the summary “What Is Dominionism?” posted at http://apprising.org/2011/01/26/what-is-dominionism/ 
10. Ibid, Dr. Steinkamp. This quote is attributed to Tricia Tillen of Banner Ministries. I am indebted to Dr. Steinkamp for his many hours of in-depth assistance with this writing project. 
11. See this timeline: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/modern.htm 
12.  Jewel Grewe, “Joel’s Army: The ‘New Breed,” Discernment Newsletter (Vol. 18, No.3), May/June 2007, http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/May-June2007.htm The quote in italics from George Warnock is attributed to his book The Feast of Tabernacles, Springfield, MO – Bill Britton, 1951, pp 108. 
13. According to Henry Hart Milman, in his History of Christianity (Harper & Bros., 1844), p. 209, classic Gnosticism taught: “The Christ… the Emanation from the Pleroma, descended upon the man Jesus at his baptism…. Before the death… of Jesus, the Christ had broken off his temporary association with the perishable body of Jesus, and surrendered it…. [T]he whole union with the material human form was an illusion upon the sense of men; it was but an apparent human being, an impassive phantom, which seemed to undergo all the insults and the agony of the cross.” Milman (p. 212) notes that the Gnostics referred to Jesus as the Paraclete, meaning as a spirit. Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, who has researched the Manifest Sons of God eschatology for several decades, confirms that it is closely akin to Gnosticism. 
14. For a more complete understanding of this “Second Pentecost” read Dr. Orrel Steinkamp’s article on the topic: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/secondpentecost.html 
15. “Second Pentecost,” Ibid. See also the many Herescope articles about the restoration of the office of prophets and apostles: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/09/apostolic-dominionism.html and the 2007 8-part series “Networking the Church”: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/02/networking-church.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/02/networking-church-part-2.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/networking-for-army.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/return-of-warrior-prophets.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/emerging-apostolic-movement-will-be.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/apostolic-regions-spheres-of-authority.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/post-apostolic.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/03/synergy-river.html 
16. Tricia Tillen, “Looking Beyond Toronto: The Source and Goal of the Second Pentecost,” http://www.banner.org.uk/tb/byndtor.html 
17. “Second Pentecost,” Ibid, citing Tricia Tillen’s report: “The Source and Goal of the Second Pentecost,” (UK: Banner Ministries, 1994). 
18. These aberrations  in the doctrine of the Trinity will be the topic of a future post by Pastor Larry DeBruyn. 
19. Pastor Anton Bosch, personal e-mail, Feb. 6, 2014. Pastor Bosch explained that the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus returned to earth secretly and invisibly in 1914 ‘in the spirit’ (This Means Everlasting Life, p. 221) [and] ‘it was as a spirit that he ascended to his Father’s presence’ (p. 216).” He also noted that Harold Camping, in his failed date-settings, ended up teaching something quite similar: “Following the failure of the prediction, media attention shifted to the response from Camping and his followers. On May 23, Camping stated that May 21 had been a 'spiritual' day of judgment, and that the physical Rapture would occur on October 21, 2011, simultaneously with the destruction of the universe by God.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_end_times_prediction 
20. Giovanni Chinnici, “an autopsy of…Mike Bickle,” posted at: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2521723/posts and http://www.freewebs.com/thechinnicis/Bible%20Studies/An%20authopsy%20of%20Mike%20Bickle.pdf 
21. Misapplying verses such as 1Cor. 15:24-28, e.g. See explanation of their dominionism teachings here: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/09/who-invented-dominionism.html, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/11/dominion-entering-into-new-season.html, http://www.discernment-ministries.org/ChristianImperialism.htm and follow the many links. 
22. See an earlier article: Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, “Field of Dreams: Dominion Eschatology,” Nov. 7, 2011, HTTP://HERESCOPE.BLOGSPOT.COM/2011/11/FIELD-OF-DREAMS.HTML 
23. See Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s “The Present of ‘His Presence’” which effectually refutes some of these heresies: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-present-of-his-presence.html 
24. For a thorough, biblically sound treatment of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, read J.C. Philpot's excellent work, “Meditations on the Person, Work, and Covenant Offices of God the Holy Spirit” published in his book Meditations: On Matters of Christian Faith and Experience: Vol. 1, Old Paths Gospel Press, 406-466-2311. 
25. “Second Pentecost,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/secondpentecost.html 
26. For more history, see Kevin Reeves’ report “Latter Rain: The Spawning of Apostasy,” http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1501 
27. This description comes via Bob DeWaay, who authored a definitive article on “The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation,” http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue103.htm 
28. George Warnock, The Feast of Tabernacles, pp. 14-20. 
29. George Warnock, Ibid, p. 104, 109, cited by Jewel van der Merwe in her Discernment Newsletter article “Latter Rain and the Rise of Joel’s Army,” Oct.-Dec. 1994. 
30. This section is adapted from a previous Herescope post by Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, “Field of Dreams: Dominion Eschatology,” Nov. 7, 2011, HTTP://HERESCOPE.BLOGSPOT.COM/2011/11/FIELD-OF-DREAMS.HTML. See also Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “On Theosis, or Divinization,” http://guardinghisflock.com/2012/01/11/on-theosis-or-divination/ 
31. Bob DeWaay, Ibid. 
32. Tricia Tillen, Ibid, summarizing contents of Warnock’s The Feast of Tabernacles book. Tillen was an early research on how the Latter Rain/MSOG teachings were coming into the mainstream via IHOP, Vineyard and what is now known as NAR.
33. See footnote 9. 
34. Earl Paulk, Thrust In The Sickle And Reap (Atlanta: K Dimension Publishers, 1986, p. 132. Cited in Dr. Steinkamp’s article “Second Pentecost,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/secondpentecost.html 
35. Earl Paulk, Held in the Heavens Until... 1985, p.234, as cited by Sandy Simpson in his article “Pre Millennial And Post Millennial Doctrines Do Not Mix,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/premilpostmil.html, Emphases added. 
36. Earl Paulk, The Proper Function of the Church (Atlanta: K Dimension Publishers, undated p. 13. Cited in Dr. Steinkamp’s article “Second Pentecost,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/secondpentecost.html, emphasis added. 
37. See this report, “The Third Wave ‘New Apostolic Reformation’” which includes quite a bit of historical background: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/thirdwaveteachings.html and for further research see this comprehensive page: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/geneology.html 
38. Discernment Newsletter, Ibid, July 1990. The tapes of the 1989 Vineyard conference are on file. The September 1990 Discernment Newsletter mentions a few of the attendees at this conference, which included Paul Cain, Bob Jones, Mike Bickle, John Wimber and many other prominent leaders. 
39. See Travers and Jewel van der Merwe, Strange Fire: The Rise of Gnosticism in the Church (Conscience Press, 2005), posted online at: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/StrangeFire.pdf 
40. We refer readers to Tamara Hartzell’s excellent 2-volume compendium of the history of this very teaching, titled “Reimagining” God. Visit her webpage, scroll down, and note that her book is downloadable: http://www.inthenameofpurpose.org It becomes apparent when reading her book that there has been excessive crossover between New Age doctrines and postmodern evangelical teachings. The Latter Rain cult influence is yet another influence, especially via new doctrines concocted at Fuller Theological Seminary during the 1980s. See especially Paul Smith’s book New Evangelicalism: The New World Order available at http://home.etcable.net/hestervanboven/Books.htm 
42. See Part 1 of this series for some examples and follow the footnotes: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-passion-of-presence.html 
43. Bill Britton, Jesus, the Pattern Son (Springfield, MO, 1966), pp. 36-40. Bill Britton, Eagle Saints Arise, cited in Discernment Newsletter, Oct.-Dec. 1994. 
44. See the many articles published on Herescope and follow the links: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/10/c-peter-wagner.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/09/apostolic-dominionism.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/09/who-invented-dominionism.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/09/documenting-dominionism.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/08/denying-dominionism.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/08/c-peter-wagner-spins-nar.html 
45. Travers and Jewel van der Merwe, “A New Age or an Old Lie?” Discernment Newsletter, July 1990 (Vol. 1, No. 3). For history and doctrine see their books Strange Fire: The Rise of Gnosticism in the Church: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/StrangeFire.pdf and Joel’s Army: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/JoelsArmy.pdf. Jewel van der Merwe (now Grewe) grew up in a home where her parents were part of all this early history. She and her first husband set up Discernment Ministries specifically to warn the evangelical world about these old cult doctrines she had grown up with. Hence our personal familiarity with both the old and the new Latter Rain/MSOG teachings.
46. Travers and Jewel van der Merwe, “A New Age or an Old Lie?” 
47. Discernment Newsletter, July 1990 (Vol. 1, No. 3). Discernment Newsletter, Ibid, July 1990.
48. See report: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/8.htm 
49. See this report: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/geneology.html#Cain and for context see this report: http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain12.htm. Also: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/thirdwaveteachings.html 
50. Travers and Jewel van der Merwe, “If It Talks Like A Duck and Acts Like A Duck,” Discernment Newsletter, October 1990 (Vol. 1, No. 6). The tapes of the 1989 Vineyard conference are on file. Emphasis added.
51. Discernment Newsletter, Oct-Dec., 1994, Ibid. The tapes of the 1989 Vineyard conference are on file. The speaker is not identified in the written report. We have written extensively about the “New Breed” and the other concepts: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2011/07/ihops-new-breed-leaders.html, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/02/new-breed-defined.html, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/02/new-breed-and-incarnating-christ.html, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/05/military-new-breed.html, and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/02/history-of-new-breed.html 
52. Mike Oppenheimer, “FIRE On You,” http://www.letusreason.org/pent56.htm 
53. “FIRE On You,” Ibid. Transcription of a November 1998 airing of This Is Your Day
54. See report: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/unsoundbytes1wagner.html 
55. “FIRE On You,” Ibid. A transcription of the May 22, 2000 National School of the Prophets, Tape 6. Note that Malachi 3 does not say what Bickle quotes. See: http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Mal&c=3&t=KJV
56. “FIRE On You,” Ibid. 
57. See Bill Alnor’s report, “The Kansas City Prophets,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/kcp.html 
58. Francis Frangipane, The Days of His Presence (Arrow, 1996), pp. 21-22. Frangipane defines “glory” in his footnotes as “the manifestation of the Lord’s actual Presence” (p. 147, notes on Chapter 2, emphasis added).
59. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 31. Emphasis added. 
60. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 32. 
61. The Gnostics taught that the “Pleuroma, the fulness of the Godhead, expanded itself in still outspreading circles, and approached, till it comprehended, the universe. From the Pleroma emanated all spiritual being, and to him they were to return and mingle again in indissoluble unity.” Milman, Ibid., p. 208, emphasis added. 
62. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 33. 
63. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 35-36. 
64. See Larry DeBruyn’s excellent description of Panentheism in the Herescope post “God's Relationship to Everything,” Jan. 30, 2008: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/01/god-i.html 
65. Frangipane, Ibid., subtitle p. 46. 
66. Frangipane, Ibid., pp. 47-48. 
67. Frangipane, Ibid.,. p. 49. Emphasis added. 
68. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 51. Emphasis added. 
69. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 55. Emphasis added. 
70. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 58. Emphases added. 
71. Compare this statement with Footnote 19, Anton Bosch’s comments. Frangipane, Ibid., pp. 60-61. His entire premise is based on this “presence” interpretation of the Greek word parousia. This idea is attributed to Dr. Robert Young, “the respected compiler of Young’s Analytical Concordance” and Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible in which the word “Presence” (capital P) alters many Bible verses. (See Chapter 9, “The Sign” to see these Young translations.) 
72. Frangipane, Ibid, p. 61. 
73. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 95-97. Note that in a “Questions” section in the back of the book, Frangipane states that the “day of Christ’s Presence is not a doctrinal substitute for the rapture of the church. The Lord Himself, in His glorified body (not just His Spirit), shall physically return to the earth both to receive His church and to judge the world.” Here we can see evidence of the double-speak that accompanies much of this endtime teaching. 
74. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 62. Bold added. 
75. See Herescope posts such as: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/07/kicking-kingdom-into-high-gear.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/08/great-outpouring-of-wealth.html. Also see description of harvest in this report: http://apprising.org/2011/01/26/what-is-dominionism/ 
76. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 106, subheading “Beware of the Dogs.” 
77. Frangipane, Ibid., p. 143. 
78. See Pastor Larry DeBruyn’s “The Present of ‘His Presence’” which effectually refutes some of these heresies: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-present-of-his-presence.html 
79. John Owen, An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Vol. 6 (reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), pp. 413-415.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

God and Greed

A Contemporary Case Study

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

Pastor Steven Furtick’s “House from Heaven”

“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ... he is conceited and understands nothing... [and] has a morbid interest in controversial questions... out of which arise... constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
Paul to Timothy, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, NASB, Emphasis added.[1]

Introduction—A Contrast
Early the morning of February 10, 2014, 12:00 am, Fox News aired The Fox Files which contained a segment reporting on Samaritan’s Purse’s relief work in various parts of the world, focusing especially on helping the tens of thousands of refugees who have fled war torn Syria to seek safety in northern Iraq. In interviewing Samaritan’s Purse’s President Franklin Graham and its chief operating officer in Boone, N.C., and in traveling to Iraq to observe and report first-hand on the relief organization’s efforts there, Greta Van Susteren brought the heart of the ministry up-close and personal to viewers.

Syrian refugees were shown walking across a make-shift pontoon bridge over the river dividing Syria from Iraq, their only possession being the clothes they were wearing. The scene then shifted to Boone, N.C., where big semi-trucks and cargo planes were shown being loaded with food, water, medical and relief supplies (tents, heaters, water, shoes and clothing, etc.) to be flown to northern Iraq. Little children were shown as they were given their Christmas shoe boxes, the reception of which changed their countenances from the sadness of despair to smiles of delight. Fox Files reported that in most instances Samaritan’s Purse is the first to respond to disaster and refugee crises around the world. At times, it is the only responder. The news program authenticated the ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, the importance of which is crucial in light of recent attempts on the part of the U.S.’s Internal Revenue Service to make life uncomfortable for 501C(3) tax-exempt charities and organizations.

Anyway, my heart was moved to tears as I observed the squalid living conditions of the refugees and the ways in which Samaritan’s Purse was trying to help them, giving something to those who possessed nothing. I point to this legitimate ministry to contrast it with reports that have surfaced over the last months about another ministry in North Carolina located about a hundred miles to the south.

True to the “prosperity-gospel” tenet that God wants his children rich—they are after all, the King’s Kids—a young mega-church pastor (he’s 33 years old) is building a 1.7 million dollar mansion, with reportedly five bedrooms and seven and one/half baths, in an exclusive neighborhood on multiple acres of land. Steven Furtick is the hip, flamboyant and youthful communicator who leads Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., a growing 14,000 member congregation with several campuses, even one in Toronto, Canada. Amongst his followers, who claim to be evangelical, he’s not just a rising star, but a risen one. And befitting his stardom, the stylish Furtick is no pauper. His self-indulgence has caused many, mostly outside the realm of his followers, to question his ministerial motives in building the extravagant house. Jesus may have promised us a “mansion” in His Father’s house (really the sense is more of an “apartment”), but for the prosperous young pastor that day can’t wait (John 14:2, KJV). He wants the mansion now. So he’s building it with the money received from other of the King’s Kids.

He claims the capital for building the house is coming from “gains” derived from royalties from book sales and honorariums from speaking engagements. In a classic case of conflict of interest, from his influential platform the young pastor promotes his books to thousands of followers. Yet there’s no way of knowing if these royalty/honorarium sources of money are covering the 1.7 million cost of the house because no outsiders are privy Furtick’s compensation package from the church. I doubt that they do, but that’s what he says.

Though Elevation Church has a governing body, it does not consist of elders, but rather of a “hand picked” Board of Overseers of other mega-church pastors (Wonder who does the “picking”?). Thus, as Furtick, the church’s CFO James “Chunks” Corbett, other of the church’s administration team and “the Board of Overseers” (“overseer” can mean “bishop”) remain secreted regarding the church’s finances, neither the financial integrity nor accountability of the organization can be verified. Furtick promised Elevation “would always be a ministry of integrity.”[2] Yet the message being left amidst all the hazy financial reporting is, “Trust us!” So when the controversy initially surfaced regarding Furtick’s almost 2 million dollar building project, the young pastor apologized the next Sunday to his 14,000 plus followers that he was sorry for any “uncomfortable conversations” they had to have over “his mansion” under construction.[3] Some evangelical leaders, and there’s more than just Furtick, seem to be mimicking the lifestyles of the rich, the famous and sometimes naughty.

Now this scandal can be added to the long list of other scandals that hangover the pale of the evangelical movement in America, both present (Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, and Bill Gothard of Institute in Basic Life Principles) and past.[4] There will be scandals, I guess. Anyway, evangelical Christianity’s losing of credibility appears to be in a free fall. By in large money, sex, and power have corrupted the movement (See 1 John 2:15-17.).

My intention in drawing attention to the controversy over Furtick’s house-scandal is because what’s happening with him and Elevation Church are symptomatic of what is going wrong in evangelicalism. As a whole and for the most part, excepting, of course, Samaritan’s Purse and many other good and godly missions and ministries, the evangelical movement does not have a good reputation among outsiders. As far as the movement’s PR is concerned, rotten apples are spoiling the whole, and millions of followers are allowing it to happen. So it becomes incumbent that these wealth-gospel ministers and ministries be held up to the scrutiny of Holy Scripture to see how God’s word indicts their obvious and blatant spiritual shenanigans.

Yes, pan-evangelicalism has lost credibility amongst John Q Public. From what has happened, outsiders know something “stinks.” But those same unbeliever-outsiders might be surprised to know that Scripture also indicts the legitimacy of much of what passes for “ministry” today. Nevertheless, though many outside the church detect the odor emanating from evangelicalism, how is it, we are forced to ask, that so many in evangelicalism can’t smell the smell? Maybe they’ve just gotten too use to it.

So to determine why evangelicalism has become odious, even to some of us who might be categorized as part of it, we need to perform a simple test—”follow the money.” So let us look at the “money trail” and together survey some of the biblical warnings about money’s corrupting influence, especially as regards the “wealth gospel,” whether that false teaching is being peddled overtly or covertly, brazenly or subtly. To critics of discernment in general (Oh, discerners are unloving and way too judgmental.), I would say that silence is compliance. But about cases like Furtick’s, Scripture is neither silent nor compliant. Please follow the Bible’s “money trail” with me. We begin with . . .

The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil
These well known words, incidentally taken from the Bible, are not to be understood as referring to corporate America, but are a warning to ministers and churches, especially those in which ministry has become an industry (1 Timothy 6:10a). Paul words to young Timothy warn ministers and ministries regarding the influence of affluence, of becoming mesmerized by money. Let’s read them.

“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires.... For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith.... (Emphasis added, 1 Timothy 6:9-10).

If Furtick is a rising star in evangelicalism, then he could become, if he’s not already, a wandering one (Jude 13). In these verses Paul warned that already in the apostolic era there were “money-grubbing” church leaders who had strayed from “the faith”; meaning that their chasing after money caused them to wander away from the truth of God’s Word. Invariably, greed spawns heresy as leaders under the spell of wealth attempt to, in contradiction to Jesus’ teaching, excuse the inexcusable. Jesus said:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot [I think "cannot" means "cannot"] serve God and wealth (Matthew 6:24).

“Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (KJV). How can one reconcile any “prosperity gospel” with Jesus’ clear statement? In serving Christ and like oil and water, greed and God don’t mix. Take your choice. Jesus said it’s either/or. To Jesus, love of money is the litmus test as to where our loyalties really lie, as to whether we’re serving God or our own bellies (Romans 16:18). To run after lucre involves walking away from the Lord and His truth. It’s just that simple. And most of us know the Gospel record of how Jesus with scourge in hand overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple as he uttered these words: “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13, KJV). The Lord cleansed His Father’s house of the “business” on two different occasions, one near the end of his ministry and another at the beginning (See John 2:13-17.).

“Godliness” merits Prosperity
Previously in this chapter and context, Paul warns young Timothy (and Furtick, too, is young) that to justify money grubbing Jesus’ plain words must be turned upside down. So to excuse the inexcusable, adherents of the wealth gospel must adopt a self-serving thought process to justify the ruse. They must think or imagine that their religious pursuits deserve reward (Greek, nomizontōn, 1 Timothy 6:5b). Of this “supposing” (KJV), one commentator notes that it refers to a corruption of mind in which,

“It seems... to point to thinking that has settled into an assumption. It is a pattern of thinking that is unexamined because it is presumed true. The present tense sees this as an ongoing and uninterrupted pattern of their thoughts.”[5]

Any presumption of prosperity on the part of many evangelical Christians, no matter how engrained in their mental processes the idea is, does not agree, as Paul stated, with Jesus’ “sound words.” The apostle wrote:

If anyone advocates a different doctrine [like a "wealth gospel"] and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 2 Timothy 6:3-5, Emphasis added.

As regards the interpretation of this verse, English translations vary slightly. What do the heterodox teachers suppose? What is so engrained in “their group think” that it goes unquestioned by them and their followers? The NASB translates the Greek phrase (nomizontōn porismon einai tnv eusebeian) as men “who suppose that godliness is a means of gain,” and the KJV as “men... supposing that gain is godliness” (KJV). In the former sense, heterodox teachers think that they accrue wealth though godliness (using God); in the latter sense, they explain wealth as the reward for godliness (excusing gain).[6] Either way, “the buck stops” with God! God either owes me wealth or gives me wealth. But regardless of the phrase’s emphasis, by it Paul communicates that such monetary machinations are feigned scams, and when scams hit the public fan, and as we all know, they become scandals. Peter knew that when he wrote of false teachers that, “many will follow their sensuality” and therefore “the way of the truth will be maligned” (2 Peter 2:2). Even a liberal theologian was quite terse in his opinion of Furtick’s house. “It’s just vulgar. It’s an offense to the Gospel” he is quoted to have said.[7] So what has been severely downgraded amidst the evangelical scandals, both past and present, is the very credibility of the Gospel. And this is just as Peter predicted would be the case.

The financial and moral (the former invariably affects the latter) improprieties being exhibited and tolerated (Remember, silence is compliance.) within the evangelical nation insult the common-sense-virtue of people both inside and outside the church. But there remain those who continue to blindly follow the cause célèbre, the cult of the personality. As Peter said, “many will follow their sensuality.” Nevertheless, perceptive onlookers are compelled to ask, “Hey, what’s the deal, what’s the real scandal going on here?” Is it the manipulative use and abuse of powers and dollars by Christian celebrities, or the ignorance of the masses who uncritically and unswervingly indulge the cult of the personality? Why do so many continue to “drink the punch” of the imposters? Here is Jesus’ warning in this regard.

People who follow unrepentant leaders who continue to scandalize the Christian faith stand as implicated in the scandals as those who perpetuate them. Let me repeat. Followers of charlatans are as guilty as the charlatans. Before God the deceived stand as guilty as the deceivers. For the moment, ignorance may be peace and bliss, but the peace and bliss will not last. To this point, Jesus’ words give warning. Regarding the Pharisees—who by the way also loved money (See Luke 16:14.)—and their followers, Jesus told His disciples, “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:15). When following the wrong leader, religion has a way of becoming “the pits.” Just ask recovering and disillusioned people whose lives have been ruined because they banked with the wrong religious leader.

Knowing of Jesus’ statements about money and His example, Paul, unlike so many in both his day and ours, never “peddled” the Word of God for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17), never “coveted” anyone’s gold, silver or clothes (Acts 20:33) and never “flattered” to camouflage greed (1 Thessalonians 2:5; See 2 Peter 2:3.). Paul understood that covetousness is “idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). It’s against the backdrop of both Jesus’ and Paul’s attitude toward wealth that Furtick’s excuse for his house must be evaluated.

As reported by the Charlotte Observer, the Elevation Church leader claims immunity from financial misconduct, from accusations of extravagance being leveled against him. In a typical “We-deserve-it!” explanation, he tells the folks,

“It’s a big house, and it’s a beautiful house, and we thank God for it.... We understand everything we have comes from God.”[8]

Regarding such an attitude and any like it, John Stott (1921-2011), in his day a noted pastor and expositor of Scripture, insightfully commented that, “The history of the human race has regularly been stained by attempts to commercialize religion.”[9] Then he continued:

“Of course greed is itself a desire, selfish and even idolatrous [See Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5.], but it breeds other desires. For money is a drug, and covetousness a drug addiction. The more you have, the more you want. Yet these desires are foolish (they cannot be rationally defended) and harmful (they captivate and do not liberate the human spirit).” [10]

Greed breeds! Scandals arise for reason of covetous religious leaders who Paul states are possessed of depraved and deprived hearts and minds (1 Timothy 6:5). The hubris of the exhibited depravity offends unbelieving onlookers, as justifiably it should. For reason of the offense, scandals become more scandalized as coveters attempt to mute their critics as they dupe their followers. Yet all the while, the whole conglomerate, leaders and followers, give every indication they’re oblivious to the obvious as they excuse the inexcusable, as they indulge the lie. After all, how can it be so wrong when it feels so right? Because of pride the leaders won’t admit wrong in their leading, and because of pride, followers will not admit to the wrong of their following. Religious con-artists will not admit to wrong in what “they have” even as their followers will not admit “they’ve been had.” Meanwhile, negative reports continue to surface as indicting pictures continue to circulate. But all of this is so opposite from the standards for genuine spiritual leadership set by the Apostle.

“Greedy After Filthy Lucre”
In his letter to Timothy, Paul also writes that one of the qualifications of spiritual leadership, even among young men (and Timothy was young), is that leaders “not [be] greedy of filthy lucre (from the Latin lucrum, “money or profits”)... ” (1 Timothy 3:3, 8, KJV), be “free from the love of money... [and not be] fond of sordid gain” (1 Timothy 3:3, 8). The character of the leader must be above “must be above reproach” and “have a good reputation with those outside the church” (1 Timothy 3:2, 7; Compare 3:10).

These qualifications of spiritual leadership do not demand perfection because nobody’s perfect. But what the statements do teach is that when assailed, the charges against leaders prove false. Though not perfect, the leader’s character ought to be Teflon-like. When charges are hurled, they do not stick. But at this juncture, the “filthy lucre” charges like those being leveled at Furtick and others of the “prosperity-group-think” are sticking. And when they stick, putting aside all the cheesy explanations for their indulging extravagance, there is no obligation on the part of the foolish to keep following. But of this option, masses of members within evangelicalism seem to be mindlessly ignorant. But there’s another leadership peril to be avoided.

No “Accountability”
The New Testament indicates that “bishops” (Greek, episkopoi, 1 Timothy 3:l) and/or “elders” (Greek, presbuteroi, Titus 1:5) are to govern local churches. The two designations are synonyms that refer to the same governing local church office. But in the case of Elevation Church, such a biblical office of government is absent. Presumably governing the church are the young lead pastor, personally hired church administrators and an appointed but un-local Board of Directors. In such a “set-up,” the right hand—the Elevation congregation—does not know what the left hand—”Furtick and company”—are doing; so much for candor and openness. This self-invented method of church government ought to be a warning signal to the congregation at Elevation that something is amiss.

No “Repentance”
Last fall when the report of Furtick’s construction of his “mansion from heaven” surfaced in the media and the accusations began to fly, the young pastor told his followers he was sorry. Sorry for what, for the extravagance? No. He apologized to his 14,000 plus thousands of followers for any “uncomfortable conversations” they had to have over his big dig. Question: Why were the conversations “uncomfortable”? Were they “uncomfortable” because his constructing the mansion is highly “questionable”? I guess this is the new version of repentance—being sorry to his followers that his big dig has become a big deal. Another question: Where is God amidst all this, other than Furtick’s assertion that He approvingly has given him the house? But to the issue of materialism and ministry, the Old Testament also gives an example.

“Divining” for Dollar$—Balaam and Big Buck$
Balaam was a Gentile diviner from Mesopotamia, someone who could be hired to prophesy for the right fee (Numbers 22:1-24:5; 22:7*), who could be hired to curse a nation’s enemy thereby facilitating victory in war (Numbers 22:6, 17; 24:13). So Balak, the King of Moab, attempted to hire Balaam to curse the invading army of Israel as it threatened to take away his kingdom. But God would have none of it. He refused to allow Balaam do as both he and the king of Moab were want to do.

But with God’s seeming approval, Balaam set out in the company of Balak’s emissaries with the intention of speaking only to and for Balak what God had ordered him to speak (Numbers 22:20, 35). But somewhere along the journey, the double-minded and double-dealing prophet reneged upon his agreement with God. (Perhaps Balak’s men influenced him to change his mind.) He decided he’d speak according to what Balak had bargained for him to speak; that is to curse Israel. He decided to double-cross God, but God would have none of it. So He intervened.

God sent “the angel of the Lord” to intercept the prophet on his mountainous journey to Moab. The angel blocked the narrow path the prophet was traveling on. With the narrow-walled trail obstructed, the prophet’s own she-ass saw the angel as it balked and brayed at the prophet’s commands (just as Balaam was balking at God’s orders). All of this frustrated the unseeing prophet and caused him to whip the donkey with increasing violence until the animal complained to the prophet for how he was treating her. On this point I see nothing odd about God, like a ventriloquist, filling the donkey’s mouth with His prophetic word to rebuke the prophet. After all, God frequently spoke audibly in Scripture (See Luke 3:22).

So suddenly, in an epiphanic moment, the prophet became aware of the angel, realized the error of how he was beating his animal, and was made conscious of his double-dealing intent to turn from God’s word, give in to Balak and curse Israel. So again, he was forced to agree with the Lord to speak only what God commanded; and that was to bless, not curse Israel.

So meeting up with the Moabite king, they journeyed on three different occasions to three different high-altitude vantage points (heights where common pagan belief held that the gods dwelt) that overlooked Israel’s camp and armies. From those heights, three times Balaam defied Balak and blessed Israel. Then the two parted company. But Balaam’s failure did not deter him from his desire to do Israel harm. So he employed another strategy to defeat Israel. Instead of attempting to curse Israel by declaration, the mercenary prophet taught Balak how to corrupt Israel by deception.

The New Testament employs three expressions in reference to this incident: the error of Baalam, the way of Baalam, and the doctrine of Baalam. Jude warned the apostolic church that false teachers had arisen and “for pay” had rushed “headlong into the error of Balaam” (Jude 11). Peter drew attention to the hireling prophet, that his way involved loving “the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). But the Book of Revelation speaks of the false prophet’s doctrine in which instead cursing Israel, he taught Balak how to corrupt God’s people from the inside, to seduce them into eating “things sacrificed to idols” and committing acts of immorality” (Revelation 2:14; Compare Numbers 25:1-9). The error and way of Balaam refer to the prophet’s willingness to compromise standards of morality and truth to satiate his greed. Interestingly, in the cognate language of Arabic, Balaam (bal’am) means “glutton.”[11] The doctrine of Balaam refers to the tactic whereby the false prophet attempted to destroy Israel by leading them into idolatry and immorality (See Numbers 25:1-9).

In light of the story, it becomes difficult to see how Balaam was a true prophet of God who became corrupted. Rather, the Mesopotamian diviner was a false prophet who, as did the witch of Endor (See 1 Samuel 28:3-25), had a temporary encounter with the true God who prohibited him from speaking a curse against His people. The whole incident shows that false prophets are not God’s prophets. Scripture paints the whole situation to be ludicrous because engaging false prophets and teachers is ludicrous.

Prophets for Profit
Then too, Israel was besieged by false prophets who accommodated their messages for money. To quote a modern paraphrase, the Lord told Micah that, “My people are deceived by prophets who promise peace to those who pay them, but threaten war for those who don’t” (Micah 5:3, TEV; Compare Ezekiel 13:19, “And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread...” (NKJV).

Conclusion—”Cash Cows”
Money can, and most often does, have a corrupting influence upon ministry. Absolute money can corrupt absolutely. Society does scorn and ridicule the scandals plaguing evangelicals today who from appearances, and in contradiction to Jesus’ statement about serving, are putting money first and God second. But Bible believing Christians ought not to be intimidated by “success driven” churches because they understand that the Scriptures also condemn the versions of the wealth gospel that drives them, whether blatant, as with certain charismatic charlatans, or subtle, as with hip communicator-corporate-type-exec-pastors who schmooze with their followers to use their followers.

Some, I know, will accuse this writing as being unchristian. But to be silent is to be compliant. So the beginning of the article calls the scandal going on at Elevation Church a “case study” because it is but a cameo of the bigger picture of what’s going on under evangelicalism’s big tent, of what’s passing for “ministry” these days. Yet few under the big tent are saying much about it. Secular media seem more sensitive in its reporting of the aberrations of evangelicals than evangelicals themselves. At least they call these scams for what they are... “scandals.”

In today’s American religious sub-culture, evangelical practices have for some become a “cash cow,” which “is business jargon for a business venture that generates a steady return of profits that far exceed the outlay of cash required to acquire or start it.”[12] Without a doubt, and whether fair or unfair, the IRS is gearing up to get its share of the “cash cow.” If the flagrant and blatant corruption of religious ministry goes too far, and perhaps it already has, then loss of tax exempt status for all churches may come, and I think it’s fair to say that if and when it happens, mega-ministries-turned-industries will have invited it. The wanton monetary self-indulgence on the part of self-aggrandizing few will have ruined it for the self-sacrificing many. And when the tax hammer falls, some will call it persecution. But really, to stop the nonsense and by God’s providence, maybe a loss of First Amendment rights will serve to promote the genuine purity and charity of God’s true church.[13]

Much of what has been written here has been negative about ministry and money. But along with the warnings in Scripture about mercenary prophets and teachers, the Bible also contains instructions as to how congregations are to take care of their leaders and workers. They ought to be generous, not miserly. Paul told Timothy that those who lead local churches are worthy of the “double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17). Paul told believers in Galatia: “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him” (Galatians 6:6). And the apostle also made the Corinthians aware that “the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14). Congregations should not treat their leaders on the cheap. They should not pray, “Lord, you keep our pastor humble and we’ll keep him poor!” But neither should they indulge them. Balance and moderation are key.

Yet in all life’s circumstances, God’s people ought to bless God and be thankful for everything He gives and they have (James 1:17; 1 Thessalonians5:18). We ought ever to live our lives in the knowledge of the words and example of the blessed Jesus Christ who in the presence of His disciples told a scribe who wanted to follow Him,

The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Matthew 8:20

[1] Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible: Reference Edition (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1996).
[2] Stuart Watson, “NBC Charlotte obtains confidential Elevation report,” November 4, 2013, NBC Charlotte (http://www.wcnc.com/news/iteam/NBC-Charlotte-obtains-confidential-Elevation-Church-report-230557491.html).
[3] “The Prosperity Gospel Of Elevation Church Pastor Steven Furtick: ‘Everything We Have Comes from God’,” The Huffington Post: Religion, October 29, 2013 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/29/elevation-church-steven-furtick-prosperity-gospel-_n_4173578.html).
[4] “List of Christian evangelist scandals,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (http://www.icyte.com/system/snapshots/fs1/3/8/d/4/38d4c9095c0f23e45e3b48941e9b6b6ddee07243/index.html).
[5] John Kitchen, The Pastoral Epistles for Pastors (The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications, 2009): 259.
[6] Because the word “godliness” (Greek, eusebeian) is prefaced by an article (though not translated in the English, Greek tnv), proper translation would be, “supposing that godliness is a means of gain.”
[7] Quoted in Huffington Post.
[8] Ibid.
[9] John Stott, Guard the Truth: The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996): 148.
[10] Ibid., 152.
[11] A. van Selms, “Balaam,” The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, Organizing Editor (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.: Grand Rapids, MI: 1962): 129.
[12] “Cash cow,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cash_cow).
[13] “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .” The Constitution of the United States, Amendment I (Washington, D.C.: Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, 1985-1992).

Graphics in this post are courtesy of Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries: http://apprising.org/2012/12/18/steven-furticks-elevation-church-planning-20-million-facility-to-house-administrative-staff/ and: http://apprising.org/2014/01/26/financial-questions-surrounding-steven-furtick-and-his-elevation-church/

For more reading on these topics, See the earlier Herescope series on "The Cult of Evangelical Leadership":
Sacred Cows and Stars
Stuffed Shirts & Their Sycophants
Scurrilous Shepherds & Their Starving Sheep

Also see Pastor Larry DeBruyn's earlier article: False Profits & False Prophets: Financial greed: occasion for spiritual deception.