Saturday, January 30, 2016

Millennial Eschatology

Millennium: Historical & Exegetical Debate

Dr. Martin Erdmann has just released a newly published edition of his book originally titled The Millennial Controversy in the Early Church. The updated book, titled Millennium: Historical & Exegetical Debate, is now available on HERE. This book is very current and relevant to the ongoing debates about eschatology in the church. It is important to understand early church history on these topics. 

Dr. Erdmann summarized the thesis of this book in an "Afterword" to a June 10, 2011 Herescope post, "DOOMSDAY DATESETTERS 2012," where he stated, in part:
The error of using extra-Biblical texts to elucidate Biblical prophecy
In the ante-Nicene age the belief in a literal millennium was one of the most important aspects of Christian eschatology.It was a viewpoint widely held among many early Church Fathers in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), such as Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Barnabas, and Tertullian.

One of the most monumental developments in theology occurred when the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hippo, Augustine, published his book De Civitate Dei (The City of God) in the early 5th century AD, addressing diverse topics such as theology proper, Christian philosophy, martyrdom and eschatology. According to a well-established consensus among church historians, Augustine was the most influential of all Church Fathers in the West. More than any of his other books, The City of God set the tone of theological discourse in the Western Church for many centuries to follow, and is even today known for its advocacy of Amillennialism which became the undisputed view of the Roman Catholic Church from then on, justifying its pretensions to supreme earthly power, usually realized and upheld by the edge of the sword. Not even the main Reformators of the 16th century, such as Martin Luther and Johannes Calvin, thought it necessary to challenge the Amillennialism of their ecclesiastical opponents, while simultaneously rejecting the concomitant view that the Kingdom of God was coextensive with the Roman Catholic Church giving the “Mother Church” the exclusive right to dispense forgiveness of sins (absolution; indulgence) and eternal salvation.

Interestingly enough, however, the young Augustine, immediately following his conversion, espoused Premillennialism in accordance with the millennial view of the early Greek Church Fathers. What made him change his opinion on this theological issue in later years was his disgust about the fanciful embellishments in the descriptions of millennial conditions on earth which he found in the writings of the Greek Church Fathers. The problematic aspect in Augustine’s mind was not so much the literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-10, but the perversion of Christian eschatology by these early Church Fathers. Without exception they referred primarily to extra-biblical sources, mostly to select works of the Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (e.g., The First and Second Book of Enoch, The Secrets of Enoch, 4 Ezra, The Second Book of Baruch and the The Book of Jubilees), in elaborating their millennial views.

The Greek Church Fathers committed the hermeneutical error of claiming that the passages they cited, for example, from I Enoch describing the abundant fruitfulness of mankind (10:17) and of the vegetation (10:18f), and II Baruch 29:5-8 were descriptive of what the Apostle John had in mind when he committed his prophetic vision of the thousand year reign of Christ on earth to writing. It was a classic case of eisegesis, not exegesis; meaning, instead of limiting one’s interpretation of what the canonical text actually says (i.e., exegesis), the commentator refers to extra-biblical sources, in order to arrive at a more elaborate, often twisted, meaning of the text (i.e., eisegesis). This unfortunate hermeneutical procedure had tremendous negative repercussions, as briefly noted above.

In our time some influential Bible expositors are using the same fallacious procedure of referring to the Book of Enoch and other questionable, often esoteric, sources in a vain attempt to elucidate biblical prophecy. The curious apocalyptic vistas they conjure up are so incredibly contrived and bizarre that it seems impossible that any Christian would fall for them.[footnotes deleted. Read the "Afterword" in its entirety HERE]

We have also written about Dr. Erdmann's book while describing some of the newer manifestations of millenarian eschatologies arising and causing controversy in our modern-day era. We quoted excerpts from the book in the March 7, 2013 post titled: "The Rise of Apocalyptic Paganism in the Church: Bible Prophecy in Crisis." 

For further reading, and for a good example of the relevance of Dr. Erdmann's book to current church eschatology issues, see also Dr. Erdmann's Feb. 28, 2013 post, "The Emerging Galactic Religion: Science Fiction and the Rise of Technocratic Posthumanism."

To obtain a copy of Millennium: Historical & Exegetical Debate, visit HERE.
Visit Dr. Erdmann's VIMEO page:
To order Dr. Erdmann's Discernment Conference talks, visit:  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Discernment as Free Speech

A Brief Study

“...Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you.... "
~Peter, the Apostle (Acts 2:29)

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
~First Amendment, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution 
παῤῥησία parrhēsía, par-rhay-see'-ah; from G3956 and a derivative of G4483 (Strong's); all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication, assurance:—bold (X -ly, -ness, -ness of speech), confidence, × freely, × openly, × plainly(-ness).[1]
“The word παῤῥησί... constantly denotes a freedom, liberty, and constancy of spirit, in speaking or doing anything towards God or men. See Acts. 2:29, 4:13, 4:29; 2 Cor. 3:12; Phil. 1:20; 1 Tim. 3:13.[2]

By Sarah H. Leslie

Peggy Noonan wrote in her weekly Wall Street Journal column this past December 4th her concerns that

The censorship movement is radical. It is starting to make everyone in the country feel harassed and anxious. It is odd to see candidates miss a rising issue that is giving pause to so many Americans. 

I pray someone will address it. Literally, I just did.

This Herescope post is an answer to her prayers. It may be an unexpected answer and a politically incorrect answer, but nevertheless it is a response. It represents an exercise in the right of free speech and freedom of religion.

Noonan, a former speechwriter to President Reagan with conservative credentials, titled her article “The First Amendment Needs Your Prayers.” She was upset about social media reactions during the San Bernardino massacre, “even while it is happening,” especially from a U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (CT) who sent out a message stating, “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” According to Noonan this heavy-handed ridiculing of people who were praying during the massacre “immediately won a name: ‘prayer shaming.’” Noonan then expressed more concerns:

...Americans are growing weary of being told what they can and cannot publicly say, proclaim and think. We all know what’s going on at the colleges, with the mad little Marats and Robespierres who are telling students and administrators what they are and are not allowed to say or do. This is not just kids acting up at this point, it’s a real censorship movement backed by an ideology that is hostile to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is led by students who, though they managed to get into the greatest universities in the country, seem never to have been taught to love the little amendment that guarantees free speech and free religious observance, the two pillars without which America collapses. And too bad, because when you don’t love something you lose it.

It is my impression that what is happening on the campuses is starting to break through as a real threat to what used to be called normal Americans.

Who Is Policing Whom?
Shortly after reading Noonan's article I received a telephone call from my friend Warren B. Smith. He read me an article by Laura Turner titled “Jesus Calling and the policing of theology.”[3] Say that again? The “policing of theology”? Warren has been an outspoken critic of Sarah Young's book Jesus Calling and has published a book and booklet tracts about his concerns. Turner's article specifically named him and Tim Challies, another critic of Sarah Young. After I told Warren about Noonan's column concerning censorship and free speech we each decided these articles needed a response.

Here is Warren Smith's take on the Laura Turner article, recently published as 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book:

On November 12, 2015, Religion News Service posted an article titled Jesus Calling and the Policing of Theology.” It was a quick response to an article that reformed pastor and popular blogger Tim Challies had posted just the day before.[5] The author of the RNS article, Laura Turner (a regular contributor for Christianity Today’s “Her.meneutics” blog), used her superficial criticism of Sarah Young’s best-selling book, Jesus Calling, as a smokescreen to actually express her disapproval of people who were issuing serious warnings about Young’s book. In a strange stab at free speech, Turner stated that “theology policing is a job best left to the Holy Spirit, and then to people who we know.” But in her effort to undermine Young’s critics by redefining spiritual discernment as “theology policing,” she does the very thing she accuses others of doing. Her entire article is a thinly disguised attempt to “police” those who don’t agree with her own take on Jesus Calling. After minimizing and marginalizing most of the issues that have been raised about Jesus Calling, Turner concludes that Young’s book is "a net positive" and “has been a tool through which many people have gotten closer to God.”

In her obvious endeavor to whitewash the many problems found in Jesus Calling, Turner is especially upset with Tim Challies. She goes out of her way to single him out and take him to task for describing Jesus Calling as a “dangerous” book. But in her rush to isolate and discredit Challies, she overlooks the fact that he is not alone in coming to that conclusion. There are many of us who completely agree....

Free and Open Exchange

In an effort to support her position, Turner ironically links to an article that actually supports the complete freedom of expression that she attempts to discourage in her own article. The article she links to was excerpted from a book written by her “friend,” Liberty University English professor Karen Swallow Prior. Prior frames her piece with numerous and pertinent quotes from John Milton’s 1644 anti-censorship tract, Areopagitica. She writes that “Milton argued passionately in this treatise that the best way to counteract falsehood is not by suppressing it, but by countering it with the truth.” Prior states that the crux of Milton’s argument is that “truth is stronger than falsehood; falsehood prevails through the suppression of countering ideas, but truth triumphs in a free and open exchange that allows truth to shine.”[6] Exactly! It is in this “free and open exchange” that Laura Turner has the right to say whatever she wants about Jesus Calling, but so does everyone else—even if they don’t happen to be “people who we know” and even if what they are saying and believing is that Jesus Calling is a “dangerous” book.[4]

After this introduction, Warren Smith boldly goes on to exercise his free speech. His booklet tract lists ten reasons why he thinks that Jesus Calling is indeed a “dangerous” book. Hurray for Warren! You can read the rest of his article (published into a booklet) online HERE.[7]  

Why is it so “dangerous” to write a warning that something could be “dangerous”? Laura Turner makes a gigantic leap from exercising free speech into judging it wrongly. In her article she stated that

There is a difference between criticizing a book and calling it “dangerous,” and I think criticism ought to be fair game. But once we call something “dangerous,” we are precluding it from offering any good, and we are saying that our interpretation–our particular slice of Christianity–is the “right” one.[8]

Turner seems to be offended that there are Christians who warn that something is dangerous. To her this means that we are claiming our interpretation “is the ‘right one.’” The implication is that Tim Challies, Warren Smith, Pastor Steve Hudgik,[9] and other critics of Jesus Callingan extrabiblical book that audaciously purports to be the very words of Jesus speaking—are somehow imposing our religion on Turner or practicing censorship. But we aren't! We are merely practicing our right to free speech by publishing a warning. We care enough to inform people that we have read Jesus Calling and think it is a “dangerous” book. That's it!

Sadly, Turner's generation can't seem to separate out pure freedom of speech, both in writing and speaking, from all of the postmodern “hate speech” mantras about censorship. To be fair, there is a valid reason why the Laura Turner generation may hold this viewpoint. Although the church is charged with teaching the Gospel of salvation (Matthew 28:20), there are certain leaders who over-extend this mandate to coercion. They believe all must obey their ecclesiastical/civil authority. These leaders are called Dominionists, and Laura Turner does get one thing right—most of them are men. This is their intention:

There are but two sorts of dominion;first, that which is internal and spiritual, over the faith, souls, and consciences of men'  and then that which is external, over their bodies and estates.... And two ways there are whereby supreme dominion in and about things sacred may be exercised;one by making laws, ordinances, and institutions, religious or divine; the other by corporeal punishments and corrections of them who observe them not: and both these doth he exercise.[10]

The Herescope blog has warned about the “dangerous” nature of the rapid rise of Christian Dominionism in America the past few decades. As this movement seeks to gain power, there has been an increasing prevalence of aggressive speech that is denigrating, racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, dehumanizing, ostentatious, threatening, intimidating, bullying,... the list could go on and on. In fact, we have repeatedly warned about the rise in military warfare rhetoric coming out of Dominionist groups such as C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and Mike Bickle's IHOP.[11] We've actually feared that their provocative warfare speech could turn literal, at which time it could be rightly be construed as “dangerous.” We are not saying that these Dominionists should be censored. They have the right to their free speech and to exercise their freedom of religion. But history is filled with examples of men who desire to rule and reign as “tyrants”[12] over others in the name in Jesus. It is for good reason that many fear their goals.

Note: It is incorrect to assume that anyone who espouses a conservative biblical or political worldview agrees with these strident Dominionists. Unfortunately the political Left and the clueless media often mischaracterize all evangelicals as Dominionists. However, our open publication of  opposition to these leaders is proof that there some are still standing against this movement, albeit a small remnant.

“The Hoax of Free Speech”?[13]
With the freedom of speech comes a corresponding responsibility, especially for those who call themselves Christian believers.  The Bible verses that pertain to the use of the tongue apply to both written communication and spoken speech. For example, to spread gossip, half-truths and lies is not a good testimony. Just do a simple word search on “tongue” and see if you aren't convicted to be more responsible in how you conduct your freedom of speech:
  • “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.” (Ps. 34:13);  
  • “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.” (Prov. 12:18);  
  • “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.” (James 1:26);  
  • “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” (James 3:5)

And then there is newspeak. When I was a newcomer to the political process during the decade of the 1980s I was trained by some Washington media types to do “spin.”[14] (This would have been the same era when Peggy Noonan was President Reagan's speechwriter.)  I learned how to do “spin doctoring” proficiently, including how to regurgitate pre-determined “talking points” issued by national groups with agendas. As a high profile leader who was frequently interviewed by the local, state and national press, I was expected to learn how to deflect questions by avoiding answering them directly.[15] I was taught how to select certain facts and ignore others, thus presenting forth the best possible image. I have since repented of this, and regret that learning these behaviors became so ingrained that I sometimes catch myself still doing this. Perhaps Peggy Noonan should confess this, too. 

  • “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8);  
  • “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” (1 Peter 3:10)

In our media-saturated world there is now a dearth of decent and kind, not to mention truthful, free speech. The basic elements of politeness and remnants of civility are eroding rapidly, giving rise to commonplace “in your face” obnoxiousness and “gotcha” behaviors. The Internet and social media are crawling with a cacophony of cursing, crazed rants, name-callings, rudeness and other nastiness. And there is a disturbing increase in angry and threatening speech.
Colson Center e-mail, 1/18/16

Furthermore, each day our e-mail accounts are flooded with virulent anti-Islamic, anti-Semitic and/or anti-Hispanic propaganda. Some of the content is obviously photo-shopped. These e-mails are being forwarded by Christians. Seldom have the senders done fact-checking, or searched deeper to find out the agenda behind the people or organizations promoting these agendas. To forward such ramped-up hysteria and bigotry, especially without checking the veracity and source, is tantamount to spreading lies and gossip at best, and contributing to drumming up hatred at worst. Nevertheless, these e-mails represent free speech. Your personal freedom to engage in “censorship” is as easy as clicking your trash icon. You may also wish to confront those who are promulgating such awful fear-mongering.

All of this reminds us of Jesus' words about endtimes in Matthew 24:7, “For nation shall rise against nation,” which in Greek is the word ethnos from which we get our word ethnic or ethnicity. Perhaps this fact alone might make a few people think twice before they push the send button to forward on these incendiary e-mails.

By the way, we have never, ever seen an e-mail of this nature that speaks about the need to share the Gospel of Salvation to those of different ethnicity or religious belief. So... here is a truly radical exercise of your free speech: Why not step outside your comfort zone and gently and peaceably befriend your humanist, pagan, Hispanic or Islamic neighbor? Why not seek an open door to speak to them about Jesus Christ and how He died for our sins? Where is your Gospel? Hiding under a bushel?! (Matthew 5:15)

Be aware that this free exercise of speech is now considered to be “hate speech” by those secularists who would institute their own version of a humanist-dominated church-state. But is the mere act of free speech deemed imposing one's religion on another? Communication 101 teaches that this is a two-way street. Someone may say something you dislike, but you don't have to listen. You can ignore it, rebut it or walk away. Old-timers will remember that parents used to teach their children the little toughening-up ditty: “Stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” What makes public communication abusive? The power to actually bully and coerce, especially if this power originates from the civil or the church authorities. Heaven help us if the two merge into yet another historical manifestation of a church-state.

Karen Swallow Prior, the professor from Liberty University who was quoted by Laura Turner, cited John Milton and his 1644 Areopagitica as a good example of anti-censorship.[16] We would suggest taking it a step further back in history to study the life of Roger Williams, whose life and beliefs influenced Milton and later the First Amendment. Williams is not a popular figure with the Dominionists who, over the past few decades, have resurrected the writings of the old Puritans. Williams stood against these old Puritans while they were trying to build their own church-state. He was continually harrassed by them for boldly declaring the radical ideas of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. “Freedom of conscience was... proclaimed. [Williams'] colony became a safe haven for people who were persecuted for their beliefs, including Baptists, Quakers, and Jews.”[17]    

The Gospel As Free Speech
Many have already written on this topic but it is worth revisiting in today's oppressive climate. The model for every professing believer should always be the Scriptures, particularly the New Testament. The ability to share the Gospel of salvation is inextricably connected to the freedom to speak. This freedom is not extended by civic and church leaders, but by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

First, observe Jesus. In Gospel of John, chapter 8, Jesus told the Pharisees that, “But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God....” (John 8:40). The rest of the story is a wonderful teaching lesson as Jesus spoke the truth and the Pharisees resisted it. They got so mad at His words that they wanted to kill Him! From this example we learn there can be a hefty price for daring to tell the truth.

Second, observe Peter and John in the opening chapters of Acts. When these disciples were called before the authorities for preaching the Gospel of Salvation, “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (Acts 4:10), they were commanded... not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20). What an astonishing proclamation of free speech!

Furthermore, their imperative to speak the Gospel was imbued with a holy boldness, a miraculous transformation of their nature brought about by the indwelling Holy Spirit. When the two disciples were brought before their council they courageously proclaimed that the 40 year old crippled man had been healed “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.... Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts. 4:10,12)

The reaction of the council is very interesting: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled....” (Acts 4:13). Which brings us back to Laura Turner's article. She made the statement that Theology policing is a job best left to the Holy Spirit, and then to people who we know.” The theological and political incorrectness of Peter and John's qualifications, combined with their assertive proclamations about what constitutes truth, certainly wouldn't fit Turner's criteria. May we all be willing to be considered unlearned and ignorant if it will further the Gospel!

What happens next in the Acts account is illustrative. The the council acted like the Theology Police by threatening the disciples “that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:17-18) The emboldened disciples could not agree to this policy: But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20) Did they then run and hide? Did they shut down and decide to quit speaking? No! The disciples went back to join their little band and they prayed for even more boldness! And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” (Acts 4:29)

God answered their prayers, but there were painful consequences. The two men were quickly arrested and thrown into prison. When the angel opened the prison doors, the angel commanded them to speak even more boldly: Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:20). So, sure enough, the two men obeyed and went back into the temple to teach the people. Once again they were apprehended. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27-29)

At this point and hereafter the bold proclamation of the Gospel became an act of civil/religious disobedience, and the disciples suffered beatings and more jailings as a result. Acts chapter 5 concludes with the words: “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:41-42)

The idea of warning is interlinked with discernment. Practicing discernment is an act of free speech. Warren Smith wrote in his new booklet tract 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book that there is a scriptural responsibility to be discerning, and that we should warn others when we know something is dangerous.

The Bible exhorts believers to be workmen who are not ashamed of what they believe because they are “rightly dividing the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Scripture further instructs us to “search the scriptures” to see if the things being presented in a book like Jesus Calling are really “so” (Acts 17:11). Yet Laura Turner writes, “Should we be careful about what we read? I’m not convinced.” But in taking this attitude, she does her readers a great disfavor. While everyone should be free to read what they want to read, what they read should be read very carefully with great discernment—particularly with books that bring alleged “messages” from Jesus Christ Himself. Turner’s article overlooks every warning in the Bible about the danger of being deceived by false Christs and false teachings. While the apostle Paul expressed his “fear” that the Corinthian church could be deceived by false Christs (2 Corinthians 11:3-4), the true Jesus Christ warned that before His return, many would be deceived by false Christs (Matthew 24:3-5).

Warning someone does not mean that we are being Theology Police, nor does it mean we are imposing our view on others, nor are we engaging in censoring. In fact, we are compelled to warn others with a heartfelt attitude of deep humility, grief and tears. Believers experience dangers to their faith, from both without and within. Should we neglect so great a calling (Heb. 2:3)? Particularly when we have prior experience with something that we know firsthand to be dangerous?[18]

The apostle Paul, in his parting words to the elders of the Ephesus church, gave the following admonition, which serves as a good example[19] for all who feel compelled to warn that something is dangerous:

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
(Acts 20:27-31)

2. John Owen, D.D. (1616-1683), Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. 3, Reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, page 562. Owen is expounding on Hebrews 3:6, "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." The Bible verse citations in this quotation were updated to reflect modern style.
3. Laura Turner, “Jesus Calling and the Policing of Theology” (Religion News Service, November 12, 2015;
4. Warren B. Smith's NEW BOOKLET TRACT: 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book, and Note that I took the liberty of altering the original footnote numbers in Smith's text to adapt his citations to this blog posting. Warren Smith also published his concerns about Sarah Young's Jesus in his book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. See and
5. Tim Challies, “10 Serious Problems with Jesus Calling” (November 11, 2015,
6. Karen Swallow Prior, “Promiscuous Reading” (Posted at The Well, an InterVarsity online outreach to women,

7. Warren B. Smith, 10 Scriptural Reasons Why Jesus Calling is a Dangerous Book, Lighthouse Trails, Also see the following Herescope posts where we have previously published concerns about Jesus Calling: and and and
8. Turner, Ibid.
9. Pastor Steve Hudgik authored and published RUN! It's Jesus Calling! Why You Should Throw Away Your Copy of Jesus Calling. See the Herescope posts: and Pastor Steve Hudgik's book RUN! It's Jesus Calling can be purchased on Amazon. Here is the direct link:
10. Owen, op cit, p. 568.
11. See the following Herescope posts, for example:;;;;;;;
12. Owen actually uses this descriptive term, contrasting it to a humble and obedient servant of the Lord. 
13. This phrase is found in the lyrics to a Bob Dylan song, Caribbean Wind. Warren Smith pointed this phrase out to us. 
14. Spin (public relations):, links removed. 
15. I was the President of Iowa Right to Life Committee in the years leading up to the 1988 Iowa caucuses. I have also had firsthand experience with many of the leading Dominionists.  
16. Karen Swallow Prior, Ibid. 
17. The current Wikipedia entry for Roger Williams is quite an interesting read:
18. Warren Smith has a powerful testimony of coming out of the New Age movement. He knows firsthand the voice of a false Jesus. Therefore his warnings in his book and booklet tracts about the false Jesus of Sarah Young's Jesus Calling are especially poignant, and should be all the more seriously heeded. 
19. We highly recommend Pastor Anton Bosch's book Contentiously Contending for those who are seeking to learn what the Bible says about how to contend for the faith. See Pastor Bosch says, in part, that his book was written because "I am deeply concerned that many who involve themselves in these ministries do so for the wrong reasons and/or with the wrong attitude. In the process they cause more damage than the very error they are trying to correct. My intention with these humble words is not to discredit or discourage those who sound the alarm, but to exhort such to use the right methods, with the right attitude."

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ecumenical Quest

The Rise of Modern Dominionism
Before the Religious Right there were decades of activity laying the groundwork for a merger of church and state. Power elite leaders such as John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen began to drum up religious fervor as a tool to build their utopian vision of a global international order. Their influential efforts would eventually gain more traction during the Eisenhower administration where both of these brothers ascended to prominent positions of power. By 1980 their vision would culminate in the rise of the Christian Right.

This fascinating early history is now more readily available to readers. Dr. Martin Erdmann has just re-released his landmark study on the earliest efforts to build the kingdom of God on earth, otherwise known as Dominionism.  His book is now offered online under a new title, Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation. The book is available HERE and HEREDr. Erdmann's work was originally titled Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches' Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf and Stock, 2005).

Dr. Erdmann's access to files and records was unprecedented. He had access to all of the source documents on the Round Table Group which are deposited at [Cecil] Rhodes House (this is the library of the Rhodes Trust which awards the Rhodes Scholarships) and freely available to the students of Oxford University (not to the general public). It is one of the libraries of Oxford University (the Rhodes Trust is located in the same building).

Dr. Erdmann was also able to gain access to other difficult-to-obtain source documents at the British Library which are not available to the general public. (He reports that at times he was asked to go to a special room under guard and only allowed to read the documents, but not to take notes; before he left the room, he had to give the documents back to the guard.)

The results of his hard labor in securing access to these rare documents is extraordinary. The early history of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is recorded, as well as key history that is normally missing from standardized (and sanitized) historical accounts of the activities of the Dulles brothers during their years in power. This original vision is summarized in a letter written by Lord Lothian:
"I am convinced that when Christianity reaches the point when it is able to bring the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth it will establish a world federation of some novel kind as the necessary institutional condition by which alone the Kingdom can be maintained in being."
Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation details how in 1934 the Federal Council of Churches (FCC) began a grassroots public relations campaign to further the Social Gospel during the Roosevelt administration. Their end goal was to create groundswell for another international organization (what eventually became the United Nations) to replace the faulty League of Nations. Dr. Erdmann examines how a doctrine about building the kingdom of God on earth was promulgated at the 1937 Oxford Conference:
A new commitment to the concept of the kingdom of God on earth needed to be generated among the people at large and from the constituencies of the member churches, a commitment that had been notably absent for some time. Unless the Council succeeded in mobilising a grassroots movement of socially conscious Christians it would never realise the goals set out in the Social Creed. Thus the new emphasis on propagating the principles of the Social Creed was again designed to attain the kingdom of God on earth rather than to reach lost souls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The old Social Gospel, which has now morphed into the Neoevangelical call for a Cultural Mandate, hearkens back to Samuel Z. Batten's 1919 book,  The New World Order, and his idea of creating heaven on earth, "to make all things new and to create a new social order." Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation quotes a theologian who "thought Dulles had evolved his own form of 'secularized Calvinism'." This sounds very similar to the New Apostolic Reformation's (NAR) call for taking over societal institutions, often called the 7 Mountain Mandate, which is historically connected to the Neo-Calvinist vision (e.g., Tim Keller) to take over cities with a church-state social welfare "gospel". (Read: Mainstreaming Dominionism and The Cell Church.)

Below are sample excerpts from Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation where Dr. Erdmann details John Foster Dulles' plans to promote a new church narrative to facilitate building a new world order:
By using the ecumenical movement as the preferred vehicle to express his opinions, Dulles chose, as his primary target group, the Christian public in the English-speaking world. His goal was to motivate the churches to become actively involved in building a global society.…
Advocating the need for a unified world with unrelenting fervour in Church circles from the late 1930s to the mid 1940s he elevated the issue of a world federation to the status of a religious concern of first importance. At the end of the Second World War he would explicitly state: 'To create the moral foundation for world order was… the foremost task of the churches.' Based on that 'moral foundation' a social structure would emanate which would be characterised by peace, justice, and equality....
Dulles outlined the basic concepts of peaceful change and attacked what he regarded to be an unhealthy and obsolete concept of national sovereignty.… Human egotism could only be offset, he asserted, by superseding it with ‘some sentiment more dominant and gripping which would contain in it the elements of universality as against particularity.’ No other organization would be as uniquely qualified to accomplish this task as the Church…. Dulles idealized the Christian Church as an exemplary community which had demonstrated the ability to transcend the limitations of the nation state….
During the 1930s the Federal Council Bulletin urged its audience to propagate the social gospel. It exhorted its readers to reject any notion that there was a basic conflict between the preaching of the gospel as such and the need to make known the Social Creed of the FCC. The Federal Council knew that unless it could secure a deep dedication to the ethical principles of the Gospel, and a deep commitment to the Jesus who was presented as the living embodiment of these ethical ideals, there would be no motivating power for Christians to struggle for the realization of the kingdom of God in the national life. Without adhering to basic Scriptural concepts, therefore, the Council’s social appeals were couched in biblical terminology. Although mentioning the sin problem frequently, it was usually in the context of sins against society rather than sins against God. Regeneration was masterfully redefined as a new social awareness. The substitutionary atonement of Christ upon the cross was deemed insignificant and was rarely if ever mentioned. The Reformation dictum, that humankind can find peace with God only by being justified by faith, was simply ignored as without relevance.
Credible historical research requires examining original source documents as much as possible. If this is not possible, then historians rely upon eyewitness accounts and authenticated secondhand sources. The exhaustive footnotes in Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation provide overwhelming evidence that the facts laid out in this book are not conspiracy theory. This is what makes Dr. Erdmann's book so interesting. There is compelling history in this book that cannot be found elsewhere. Particularly in recent years there has been an influx of historical books detailing the years surrounding World War II as government files have opened up. Yet the history found in these books is often so scrubbed that they reek of bleach.

Dr. Erdmann is to be commended for his fortitude. In modern academia there are increasingly severe constraints and censures regarding publishing the sort of history that is contained in Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation.  There is an ongoing problem with tunnel vision. Many historians neglect to examine the full picture, nor do they question when there are obvious missing details, dismissive summaries, or an obviously slanted account. A good historical researcher needs to be a bit obsessive-compulsive. Facts that are uncomfortable, or don't fit a preconceived idea, need to be dealt with even if they are repulsive or formidable -- or politically incorrect. A good historian must possess courage to stand against the tide of postmodern revisionist narratives.

We have often observed significant omissions in the historical research on the rise of Dominionism. First, the history is being written by the opposition: one need only look at the skewed and slanted entry for Dominionism (labeled "Dominion Theology") on Wikipedia to see a prime example of this problem. (Read our posts Who Invented Dominionism? and Denying Dominionism.) Second, most critics of Dominionism come from the political Left. In addition to the myopia of their personal biases, they typically look at the issue through the tunnel vision of the political/religious activities of the Christian Right during the past few decades. However, it is our studied opinion that they are missing the decades of controversial activism that went on before. Earlier history reveals that the political Left is just as much to blame for the rise of Dominionism as the current Christian Right.
Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation is must-reading for those who have a curiosity about what went on before. It also fills a very valuable gap in historical research on the rise of the "church and state" Dominionism during the turn of the last century through the 1940s. The original vision of the Dulles brothers and their internationalist ecumenical cohorts never died. It has just been updated and re-cast into new molds.
Dr. Erdmann has been an active member of the Discernment Research Group. His book and/or his historical research have influenced or been cited in many previous Herescope posts, including:

The CFR and the Social Gospel: Part 1
The Emergent Social Gospel
Collectively Bearing the Sins of the World 
The Social Gospel 7.0 
Rick Warren & the CFR Revisited 
The new "do good" gospel 
Rick Warren & Brian McLaren at DAVOS 
The New Order of the Kingdom
The "New Deal" Kingdom
"The Peaceful Conquest of the World"* Circa 1929
Marshalling Christians for the Coming "Conflict"
The Dialectic of War and P.E.A.C.E.
PSEUDO-MISSION: Syncretism Ethics & Moral Facades
PSEUDO-MISSION: Creating A "Social Ethic" Worldview
Creating a "Community of Purpose" -- circa 1933
Global Dominionism: Past and Present
Who Invented Dominionism?
Denying Dominionism
Technocracy, Transhumanism, Mythology, & Hollywood

Julian Charles interviews Martin Erdmann on the message of the “Kingdom of God” Ecumenical Quest for a World Federation LISTEN / DOWNLOAD : TMR 017 : Interview : Building the Kingdom of God on Earth  

Monday, January 11, 2016


Meditation and Experience

Spiritual meditation, as it is commonly practiced around the world, is done for the purpose of achieving an experience of the presence of God. This "presence" feeling, often described as a sense of oneness with the Divine, can create a powerful psychological and physical sense of peace. This much-desired spiritual experience thus serves to validate one's faith -- if one "feels" God's presence then that means one is on the right path to a higher form of spirituality. Thus meditation becomes a discipline, a device, even an art, whereby man believes he can do things to achieve inner peace and a unity with God. Here is an example:
Spiritual awakening comes when the mind rises.... At this stage men has a spiritual vision of the Divine light and is struck with wonder at its beauty and glory. His mind then no longer runs after worldly pleasures.... When the mind rises [higher]... man becomes free from nescience and ignorance. He then talks only on subjects relating to God and grows impatient if any worldly topic is discussed. He avoids hearing about worldly subjects... When the mind rises [higher]... man becomes merged in divine consciousness.... Seeing the beatific vision of God he becomes mad with joy and longs to come closer to him and be united with him.... One may compare God to the light in a lantern. You seem to feel its warmth, yet though you wish to do so, you cannot touch it, on account of the glass intervening.... When one rises [higher]... one realizes his oneness with God.[1]
Here is an example of spiritual meditation from Sarah Young's 2004 bestseller Jesus Calling. In these quotes below it is Sarah herself who is speaking about her experience with practicing meditation to invoke a feeling of "the Presence of God."

“I first experienced the Presence of God in a setting of exquisite beauty.… I went into a deeply wooded area, feeling vulnerable and awed by cold, moonlit beauty. The air was crisp and dry, piercing to inhale. Suddenly I felt as if a warm mist enveloped me. I became aware of a lovely Presence, and my involuntary response was to whisper, 'Sweet Jesus.'” - Jesus Calling introduction, pages VI & VII, 2004 unrevised edition. 
“When I prayed for myself, I was suddenly enveloped in brilliant light and profound peace. I lost all sense of time as I experienced God's presence in this powerful way.” - Jesus Calling introduction, pages X & XI, 2004 unrevised edition.
Compare the experience described by Sarah Young with the quotation above it.  Can you see the similarities? The quotation above it came from page 75 of a book titled KUNDALINI: The Arousal of the Inner Energy by Ajit Mookerjee (Destiny Books, 1986), a horrific and seductive manual on how to achieve an experience of a presence, which turns out to be serpent power.

In these examples can be seen evidence of the emerging common denominator between evangelical mysticism and other world religions, which is meditation. There is very little difference between the meditation taught by eastern religions and the practices currently in vogue in evangelical circles. Both teach that by practicing meditation and doing things to increase the experience of "the presence" that one can attain higher levels of spirituality.

What is the difference? How can you tell? In his book RUN! It's Jesus Calling! Why You Should Throw Away Your Copy of Jesus Calling author Steven Hudgik explains. He has given us permission to reproduce his chapter 13 in its entirety, titled “HOW CAN I EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF JESUS?” Pastor Hudgik begins the chapter with the two quotations from Sarah Young, and then continues. . .

What is the overall theme of the Jesus Calling book? Its full title is, “Jesus Calling, Enjoying Peace In His Presence.” Based on the title I assume there is a focus on experiencing the presence of Jesus (God). And that is what we see when we read this book. Just in the introduction Jesus Calling speaks about the presence of God 19 times. 

When we read the Jesus Calling devotions we find the same focus on being in the presence of Jesus. I randomly picked a date, which turned out to be October 13th, and I counted the number of times being in the presence of Jesus is mentioned in the next ten devotions. It was 18 times. In addition, phrases that imply the presence of Jesus, such as “aware of my companionship,” are commonly used. 

Experiencing the presence of Jesus is a huge part of this book. So let's find out what Jesus Calling means when it talks about being in the presence of Jesus. We'll also look at the true Biblical meaning of being in the presence of Jesus. 

According to Jesus Calling, what does it mean to be in the presence of Jesus? 

In Jesus Calling the presence of Jesus seems to be a feeling you experience. In the 2004 introduction to Jesus Calling Sarah Young describes being in the presence of Jesus as feeling like there is a warm mist around her. In another part of the same introduction she says it is like having a bright light around her. 

In addition, according to Jesus Calling there are numerous benefits that result from being in the presence of Jesus. For example, the presence of Jesus: 
  • helps you receive the peace of Jesus (October 13th) 
  • is a promise and a protection (October 15th) 
  • is a powerful protection and your best protection (October 15th) 
  • is the source of help (help flows from it) (October 16th) 
  • comforts you (October 16th) 
  • allows you to be a channel through whom others are comforted (October 16th) 
  • outshines any fantasy you can imagine (October 17th) 
  • enables you to face each day with confidence (October 18th) 
My general impression is that, according to Jesus Calling, the presence of Jesus helps you relax, have peace, and to get through the day's troubles.

What do we need to do to experience the presence of Jesus? 

Jesus Calling says that we are constantly in the presence of Jesus (Jan 28), and it seems to indicate that we can experience awareness of the presence of Jesus to greater and lesser degrees. How do we do this? The following are some of the instructions I found that seem to be related to becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. These are from the 10th Anniversary Edition: 
  • Your weakness is the door to Jesus’ presence (Jan 8) 
  • Ask Jesus to show you the path forward moment by moment (Jan 9) 
  • Make Jesus’ presence the focal point of your thoughts (Jan 28) 
  • Whisper the name of Jesus (April 8) • Thanksgiving and praise open the door to his presence (May 29) 
  • Attune yourself to Jesus’ voice (September 26) 

Jesus Calling gives many other ways to experience the presence of Jesus, but none of them are in accordance with scripture. So once again we have a complete disconnect with scripture. 

Let me see if I can summarize the impressions I’m getting as I try to understand how to experience the presence of Jesus and its benefits according to Jesus Calling

Jesus is a soft, fluffy, comfortable Jesus who is your best friend. He is always there to share the burden of your troubles, wipe away your tears, give you peace, and keep you feeling warm and comfortable inside. To experience the presence of Jesus you need to do things such as remember him, whisper his name, trust him, and turn to him when you are in need. 

BUT... the problem is that this is not scriptural concerning coming into and being in the presence of Jesus, and this is not the Jesus of the Bible. This Jesus is not the Jesus who loves you, who truly cares about you, and who died for you. 

What does scripture teach? 
The healthy Christian is not necessarily the extrovert, ebullient Christian, but the Christian who has a sense of God's presence stamped deep on his soul, who trembles at God's word, who lets it dwell in him richly by constant meditation upon it, and who tests and reforms his life daily in response to it. – J.I. Packer (
What does it mean Biblically to be in the presence of God, and how do you Biblically come into the presence of God? 
For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit” – Isaiah 57:15

Consider this: Jesus is God and God is omnipresent. This means God is present everywhere at all times. That means everyone is always in the presence of God. It is impossible for us to move out of the presence of God. 

But, this is not the type of presence we are referring to when we talk about Biblically being in the presence of Jesus. What it means is to be saved and thus be in a relationship with God. It is not a feeling or experience, as described in Jesus Calling. It is the reality of being seated with Christ in heaven the moment you are saved (Ephesians 2:6) It is the reality of having Christ dwell within you the moment you are saved (John 14:23 and 15:4). 

It is true that at times we will feel distant from God. All Christians have experienced this. For example, after losing his wife to cancer C.S. Lewis wrote: 
Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble? – C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, Chapter One, 1961

Peter explains what is happening: 
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7 (ESV) 
But, let’s start at the beginning. How do we come into the presence of Jesus in the first place? What keeps us from the presence of God? 

Fact #1 - Sin separates us from God. 
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. - Isaiah 59:2 
Sin separates us from God. You are a sinner, and that means you are separated from God. His face is hidden from you. What can you do to change that? Nothing. Doing the things the Jesus in Jesus Calling commands you to do will not bring you any closer to Jesus. Sin is a barrier that cannot be breached by human effort. 

We are born as sinners and that means we are natural enemies of God. But, the same verse that reveals we are enemies of God, also gives the solution: 
For if, while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life. - Romans 5:10 

Fact #2 – We WERE enemies of God. But, we have been reconciled to God through the death of Jesus. 

To be reconciled to God means we are no longer God’s enemies, instead we are in a relationship with God. This happens through faith, which is a gift of God. 
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9 
Through the faith given to you by God, you trust in the work of Jesus on the cross—His paying the penalty for your breaking God’s laws—and you are saved from that penalty. Now, when God looks at you, instead of your sin He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. And that is why you, as a believer in the cross of Jesus Christ, are in a relationship with God. 

If you have repented and are trusting that Christ has paid your penalty for sin... trusting that He paid your penalty for breaking God's laws... then you are free from the penalty for sin! Free from sin and united with Christ. AND Jesus is actually living in you now! Not only are you in the presence of Jesus, you have been united with Jesus Christ your Lord. 
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. - Galatians 2:20 
Jesus Calling constantly talks about being in the presence of Jesus, but never mentions sin, nor the cross, nor the gospel. Jesus Calling even tries to turn you away from being concerned about sin (Sept 7). BUT... without the cross we all are eternally separated from God. It is only through the cross that we enter the presence of God. Okay… I'm hearing some of you saying something again: “Jesus Calling was written for Christians. Everyone who is reading it is already saved and is in a relationship with Jesus.” 

Setting aside the question of whether or not everyone reading Jesus Calling is actually saved or not, this brings us to fact number three: 

Fact #3 – All believers will experience the trial of feeling separated from God. 
1 Peter 1:3-7
You are a believer, but you don't feel very close to God. What's wrong? John MacArthur explains: 
A key passage in 1 Peter (1 Peter 1:3-7) will help you appreciate that times of distress are common and are for the good of God's children. Amid the rich details of God's glorious grace, resides an affirmation that those who rejoice in their salvation will also experience distress due to various trials. 

Take solace in knowing that sorrowful times--even periods of feeling God has withdrawn His presence--are an integral part of your spiritual experience. God hasn't utterly abandoned you, though you feel He has. Other believers have successfully traveled the dark path you walk and completed their journey.John McArthur, Why does God seem so distant when I need Him most? (
When we are going through a time when we feel distant from God we can be encouraged that it is part of God’s working to build our faith and growing us to know Him better. An article in the C.S. Lewis Reflections noted that: 
Because C.S. Lewis did not give up, in time he was able to say, “I have gradually been coming to feel that the door is no longer shut and bolted.” He came to see that God’s silence during his grief was not a sign of indifference, cruelty, or abandonment. Rather, God had been at work for good in his life in ways he could not sense or imagine—bringing him into a deeper experience of the Lord than he had ever known before. Reflections, C.S. Lewis Institute, July 2008 

Based on 1 Peter 1:3-7 we can know that our time of darkness will be temporary, and that it has a purpose. It is a test of your faith that will strengthen your faith. 

This sounds nothing at all like what Jesus Calling says. In Jesus Calling it is up to us to do something so we feel closer to Jesus. But, the reality is that God is in control. He does it all. 

If I feel distant from Jesus, what should I do? 

Be in prayer. Spend time talking with God. David’s prayer in Psalm 13 is a good example. 

Be in God’s Word. Read your Bible every day and be in obedience to what you are reading. That is called seeking His righteousness. And remember, God is always present with you even when He feels far away (1 Peter 2:9). God is never far from a believer. 

Examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). Are you turning to sin for comfort instead of God? Or are you pure in heart (see Chapter 23)? The fact that sin separates you from God is foundational. You can't talk about being close to God without talking about sin, repentance, and confessing your sin to God. But, Jesus Calling says nothing about sin, repentance, redemption, nor confession of sin. It seems that Jesus Calling is about making you feel good, instead of being about the truth and leading you to a right relationship with God... which is the only way to have a close relationship with God.

And finally remember God is in control. These four points are not magic, meaning that if you do them you’ll automatically feel closer to God. This is not the God of Jesus Calling. This is the true God, creator of you and the entire universe. God will draw nearer to you, when He determines the time is right. 

Pastor Hudgik's book can be purchased on Amazon. Here is the direct link: Read a previous excerpt "Knock, Knock...":
Below are articles that we published previously about the Presence:
“The PASSION of the PRESENCE - & the Purpose of the Passion Part 1,” Herescope, January 25, 2014;
Presence” Eschatology - Part 2, Herescope, February 25, 2014;
Bridal Eschatology Part 3, Herescope, March 08, 2014;
The Perfectly Obedient Bride Part 4, Herescope, March 26, 2014;
The 2nd Coming of the “Presence” Part 5, Herescope, April 12, 2014;
The Battled Bride: Part 6, Herescope, April 22, 2014; .

Pastor Larry DeBruyn published an article on Herescope on December 31, 2013, titled The Present of “His Presence”. The article has now been posted as a downloadable PDF file at the Discernment Ministries website:'s%20Present%20of%20His%20Presence.pdf

Warren Smith published his concerns about Sarah Young's Jesus in his book Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. See HERE and HERE.

1. KUNDALINI: The Arousal of the Inner Energy by Ajit Mookerjee (Destiny Books, 1986), p. 75. WARNING: This is a very horrible graphic and occult book that dispels any notions one might have about meditation being an innocent mental health exercise.