Wednesday, February 24, 2016

7 Mountain Politics and Theology

Here It Comes Again. . . 

C. Peter Wagner letter, August 20, 2007

“Back in 2011, when Texas governor Rick Perry was planning his first run for the presidency, he kicked off his campaign with a massive prayer rally in Houston called "The Response." The event was the source of considerable controversy because Perry organized it in partnership with a whole host of radical Religious Right activists, including several members of the New Apostolic Reformation, a collection of self-proclaimed modern day apostles and prophets who believe that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they are capable of performing greater miracles than even Jesus himself. 

“One of the key leaders in the NAR movement is Mike Bickle, who also played a central role in organizing Perry's prayer rally. Bickle is the founder of the International House of Prayer, a controversial missionary organization in Kansas City, Missouri, that some critics have labeled a cult and which is best known for engaging in nonstop 24-hour-a-day prayer in preparation for the End Times….” [1] 

Once again, during this campaign season in America, the doctrines of Dominionism held by diverse segments of the evangelical world have taken front and center stage. The leaven of the 7 mountain teaching continues to percolate throughout the entire political process.

Six years ago Dr. Orrel Steinkamp and the Discernment Research Group wrote a series of articles about the rapid assimilation of Dominionist teachers/preachers into the American political process. We warned that certain formerly obscure groups – Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP) and C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) with their Latter Rain cult roots - were mainstreaming their theology into the political process via large-scale media events, an orchestrated youth movement, and even entering the machinations of political campaigns. All of this was being fueled by prominent voices in the Christian Right promoting the 7 mountain strategy of building the kingdom of God on earth, starting with turning America into a “Christian” nation.

Herescope has published many articles about the 7 mountain theology. Our critical perspective is distinctly biblical, and thus distinguishable from the criticism of the seven mountains coming from the political Left, although we do share some of their concerns about this radical agenda for the church to transform society and/or government(s) into a church-state via cultural, political and/or “warfare” activism. In our articles, compiled below, we clearly articulate our theological differences with this 7 mountains teaching.

7 Mountains Hit the Campaign Trail
Here is a very brief overview of the current situation. There is a YouTube video of the 7 mountain beliefs and “transfer of wealth” teachings of “apostle” Rafael Cruz, father of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz who is running for president. In Bruce Wilson’s Oct. 17, 2013 article titled “Ted Cruz's Father Suggested His Son Is 'Anointed' to Bring About 'End Time Transfer of Wealth'[2] one can watch “apostle” Rafael Cruz lists a few of the 7 mountains and talk about a generation of “kings” and “priests”:

“There are some of you, as a matter of fact I will dare to say the majority of you, that your anointing is not an anointing as priest. It's an anointing as king. And God has given you an anointing to go to the battlefield. And what's the battlefield? The battlefield is the marketplace. To go to the marketplace and occupy the land. To go to the marketplace and take dominion. If you remember the last time I was in this pulpit, I talked to you about Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, where God says unto Adam and Eve, 'Go forth, multiply, TAKE DOMINION over all creation.' And if you recall, we talked about the fact that that dominion is not just in the church. That dominion is over every area - society, education, government, economics....[bold added]

In his book, A Time for Action, published and sold by WND, Rafael Cruz writes concerning the 7 mountains that “the Bible tells us that we are the salt of the earth and light of the world… Doesn’t that suggest that our influence should touch every area of society – our families, the media, sports, arts and entertainment, education, business, and government?”[3]

Sen. Cruz has been endorsed by Mike Bickle of IHOP.[4] Bickle’s endorsement caused a ruckus due to some of his more aberrant doctrines.[5] Mormon Glenn Beck and controversial historian David Barton, who had both joined 7 mountains architect Lance Wallnau on a Next Great Awakening Tour of America in 2010,[6] also teamed up with Sen. Cruz.[7] And then Sen. Cruz, in a bid to get South Carolina votes, visited Rick Joyner's church with Glenn Beck.[8] Joyner has a long history of teaching a radical militaristic form of Dominionism. Recently he has been teaching on the topic of “kings and priests” just like Rafael Cruz, but Joyner is more explicit about the merger of church and state:

In connection to the love of God that redeemed us, He made us “kings and priests.” This speaks of His people being called to civil as well as spiritual authority…. in His body on earth are likewise called to both spiritual and administrative authority. In Christ there is no separation of church and state….[9] 

Jumping into the political mix, Word Faith prosperity preacher  Kenneth Copeland declared that Ted Cruz was “anointed” to be the next president.[10] Note that Copeland's prosperity gospel message is what energizes the “great outpouring of wealth” teaching promised by the 7 mountaineers.

Meanwhile other 7 mountain teachers were endorsing Trump just in case God changes His mind and doesn’t anoint Sen. Cruz. Former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has her own controversial history with the Dominionists of the NAR,[11] wrote a gushing letter to the NAR’s chief media organ, The Elijah List, a month before she endorsed Donald Trump.[12] And Lance Wallnau, a leading architect of the 7 mountains of Dominionism theology, claims that Donald Trump has a “Cyrus anointing” on him in an apparent reference to the seven mountains “kings and priests” theology.[13]

This is just a brief summary what is going on. Readers desiring more evidence can google these terms and find numerous examples and articles, even YouTube videos, posted on the Internet about these current events.

Because we have received many questions about the seven mountain theology erupting this campaign season, below is a compilation of articles we have written previously on the topic of Dominionism.

What is Dominionism?
Read “What Is Dominionism” by Sarah H. Leslie. A earlier 2005 report titled “Dominionisn and the Rise of Christian Imperialism” explains the different “streams” of Dominionism within the broader evangelical community. 
Exhibit A*

What are the 7 Mountains? 
On June 25, 2007 we published an article titled “Seven Apostolic Spheres” describing missiologist C. Peter Wagner’s vision of a New Apostolic Reformation where his group of specially anointed “apostles” would be charged with conducting “warfare” to “mold the culture and the minds of men.” His apostles would “be able to change the power structure at the top of each mountain” of culture/society – home, church, schools, government & politics, media, arts & entertainment, and commerce. (There are various versions of what areas of society constitute these 7 mountains.) See the graphic at the top of this post, which depicts Wagner's vision.

On Jan. 28, 2007 we explained how these modernized 7 mountains were based on the earlier concept taught by the Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920). In “Neo-Kuyperian Spheres” we described how Kuyper's “spheres” theology “has been continually hybridized, homogenized and recontextualized over the years. Many of his teachings have formed the basis of the fundamental paradigm shift in how neoevangelicals view the church and the world.”

A March 14, 2007 article, “Apostolic Spheres of Authority,” observed that the use of the term “spheres” is inextricably connected to the idea of a Dominionist mandate. In the 1980s the Coalition on Revival (COR) published their political/religious agenda into seventeen “Sphere Documents.” This group is described by Al Dager in his 1990 book Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion as a “melting pot for Charismatic Dominionists and Reconstructionists” (p. 235) based upon a “dominionist interpretation of the Great Commission” (p. 236). The COR plan was for secular society to be divided into “spheres” in which Christians were to engage in political activity, take “dominion” and “advance the Kingdom.”

On June 15, 2007 in our article “The '7-M Mandate'” about the 7 mountains agenda we documented how the term “spheres” had been changed to “mountains,” which were visually represented by C. Peter Wagner’s hierarchical pyramid for his New Apostolic Reformation – a networking structure which resembles multi-level marketing schemes and functions in a similar way. Wagner, in a letter dated May 31, 2007, wrote:

“Our theological bedrock is what has been known as Dominion Theology. This means that our divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God's creation which Adam forfeited to Satan in the Garden of Eden. It is nothing less than seeing God's kingdom coming and His will being done here on earth as it is in heaven. Which leads us to the second stage of the goal of transformation, namely corporate or social transformation. We want to see whole cities and regions and states and nations transformed to support the values of the kingdom of God.”
Dominion conference advertised on TheElijahList featuring Lance Wallnau

Soon after this 7 mountain motif appeared on the scene, we expressed concerns about the disturbing warfare rhetoric to describe these grandiose (if not utopian) ambitions. While some leaders were busily working on transforming the culture of nations via psycho-social and marketing soft-core Dominionism Lite[14] (Rick Warren in Rwanda, for example, or Tim Keller who is building a social services empire in New York City), the more strident Dominionists of the NAR were talking about coercive acts that extended the reach of the church into the political realm, including the forcible baptism of entire nations. For example, see our Jan. 19, 2008 article, “How to 'Conquer the 7 Spheres'.” 

In our July 15, 2008 article Kicking the Kingdom into High Gear we laid out C. Peter Wagner's plan to take over America via Dominionism. But the most ominous example of the arising Dominionism agenda we ran across during those early years of research was a statement that came from Rick Joyner with Dutch Sheets on the June 19, 2007 Elijah List newsletter entitled “THE TRUE SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS ARE MOBILIZING” which said of their “coming kingdom” that “At first it may seem like totalitarianism” and claimed that the “kingdom will start out necessarily authoritative in many ways, or in many areas.” Joyner and Sheets also said: “The Great Commission is to make disciples, not just converts, and of nations, not just individuals. Those who are called to rule and reign with Him must start thinking much bigger.”[15]
Os Hillman's 2008 conference featuring Lance Wallnau
that launched the New Apostolic Reformation's 7 mountains movement.[16]

Dominionism Articles
This blog has written about the rise in the political activities of Mike Bickle's IHOP and C. Peter Wagner's NAR since April 2010 when we began chronicling the increasing political and religious mainstreaming of the extreme fringes of the evangelical world. Below are key articles detailing the merger of these groups with American politics:

Coalescing and Mainstreaming:
April 8, 2010: The Coalescing of the Christian Right with Apostolic Dominionism 
April 22, 2010: R&R Revival and Revolt: The Tea Party's Strange Bedfellows and What They Believe 
April 27, 2010: May Day Prayers: What Repentance? 
May 18, 2010: Mainstreaming Dominionism 
June 1, 2010: The Other Side of Emergent: The New Apostolic Reformation 
June 5, 2010: The Great Confluence: The Emergent New Apostolic Reformation Flowing into the New Age 
June 24, 2010: Seven Mountains: Set To Go VIRAL 

Prosperity Gospel & Dominionism:
Aug. 10, 2010: The Great Outpouring of Wealth: PROSPERITY plus POWER 

Trying to Concoct a Revival:
Aug. 27, 2010: “The Next Great Awakening… or Great Deadening: Part 1: Rallying Around the Seven Mountains” 
Sept 8, 2010: “The Next Great Awakening… or Great Deadening: Part 2: A Political Platform” 
Sept 20, 2010: “The Next Great Awakening… or Great Deadening: Part 3: Building the 7 Mountains” 
Sept. 29, 2010: “Concocting a Great Awakening: Part 4” 

IHOP's History and Theology: 
July 1, 2011: “IHOP Enters Dominion/Christian Right Politics: IHOP is starting to feel its Dominion oats” 
July 4, 2011: “IHOP: International House of Political Action” 
July 12, 2011: “IHOP & the NAR: The Formation of a Revolution” 
July 16, 2011:  “IHOP's New Breed Leaders” 

Prayers to Incite Warfare:
July 23, 2011: “Prayer Warfare Evangelism” 

Weird Doctrines:
July 27, 2011: “Divorcing Baal: Divorce and Remarriage, Political Dominion Style” 
July 30, 2011: “Divorcing Baal For Dominion: Part 2” 
Aug. 2, 2011: “The Baal Covenant: Part 3: Divorcing Baal”
7 Mountains Arising[17]

History of Dominionism:
Aug. 22, 2011: “C. Peter Wagner Spins the NAR” 
Aug. 26, 2011: “Denying Dominionism” 
Sept. 03, 2011: “Documenting Dominionism” 
Sept. 9, 2011: “Who Invented Dominionism?” 
Sept. 12, 2011: “Apostolic Dominionism: King of the Mountain”
Sept. 26, 2011: “Dominique” 

IHOP's "Presence" Apocalyptic Eschatology:
Part 1: The PASSION of the PRESENCE & the Purpose of the Passion:  
Part 2: “Presence” Eschatology  
Part 3: Bridal Eschatology 
Part 4: The Perfectly Obedient Bride  
Part 5: The 2nd Coming of the “Presence” 
Part 6: The Battled Bride  

Joel's Army:
The rise of Mike Bickle’s IHOP, its cult roots, its bizarre teachings, and its connection to C. Peter Wagner are described in the downloadable booklet Joel’s Army: The Preface to this booklet states, in part: 

The New Order of the Latter Rain, a cult that began in the late 1940s, taught a number of heresies, including 1) an overemphasis on “imparting” spiritual gifts and 2) the erroneous teaching that the Church must be built on a foundation of present-day apostles and prophets. Leaders at that time included William Branham, George Warnock, Ern Baxter, and George Hawtin. This cult eventually developed connections with the Shepherding and Charismatic Renewal movements, and the “Kansas City Prophets.” 

This self-proclaimed group of modern-day “prophets,” at the Kansas City Fellowship perpetuated the doctrines of Latter Rain through the teachings of Mike Bickle, Paul Cain and others. It is here that this booklet picks up the story, for many of the quoted excerpts come from leaders at the Kansas City Fellowship prophecy conferences. 

Just at this moment in history, a confluence was beginning which was to have massive repercussions throughout the rest of evangelicalism: John Wimber of the Vineyard Movement connected with the Kansas City Prophets. John Wimber had previously been picked up as an “experiment” by C. Peter Wagner at Fuller Theological Seminary for “signs and wonders” classes. For several decades Fuller had been laying considerable groundwork for the formation of new doctrines – ecclesiology, eschatology, missiology, soteriology, etc. Wimber’s connection to KCF proved to be the catalyst for the beginnings of what C. Peter Wagner was to later call the “New Apostolic Reformation.” The esoteric doctrines of the Latter Rain movement became an integral part of his post-modern evangelical canon. And because of Wagner’s influence, KCF leaders who would have been obscure in 1991, such as Mike Bickle, are now widely known throughout evangelicalism. 

The Truth:
People are angry this political season in America, and desperately grabbing at hope in political solutions. Politicians are eager to act like they have all of the answers. But there are also Dominionist leaders, described above, who seek to exploit the malaise and discontent of citizens. These Dominionist leaders have sidled alongside the political candidates, hoping they can gain power and wield influence. And the candidates desire the votes they promise to deliver.

None of this is about the Gospel of Salvation.[18] This is a different gospel, the gospel of the kingdom.[19] These Dominionist leaders promise a false hope of building a kingdom here on earth - notably one in which they view themselves as in charge, literally as kings of their mountains.

In 1992 Travers and Jewel van der Merwe warned in an early issue of the Discernment Ministries newsletter about the rise of the Latter Rain cult and its intended objective. These leaders set their sights on political power early on and they've never given up:

"The NEW BREED of Christian is poised to take over the earth, precinct by precinct. God's Army is rising up. It is time to put on the militant garb. The glint in the eye becomes fixed as the exhilaration of the hour sweeps through the masses. They can make a difference! The world has been waiting with bated breath for this LAST DAY GENERATION. False prophets in their midst are caught in sin, under discipline, yet their tapes sell to believers of their false prophecies. The call for unity is the common cause bringing them from every denomination. They are calling their unity "revival." After all, when they have set up the Kingdom here on the earth - they will have fulfilled the mandate given to Adam to subdue the earth. A new sound is heard in the land. The music gets louder and the beat gets stronger (even bringing in rock, metal, and funk) but oddly enough the lyrics are always the same! - The choruses proclaiming the triumphant song of the conquerors!"[20]

"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" 
(Jeremiah 5:30-31)

"I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ." 
(Galatians 1:6-7)

1. Links removed - see original. Kyle Mantyla, "Ted Cruz Welcomes Endorsement Of Mike Bickle, Who Believes Oprah Is A Forerunner To The Antichrist," 1/22/2016: 
2. or For the Rafael Cruz full video, see it for yourself. Go to and watch after the first hour. 
3. Peter Montgomery, “We Read Rafael Cruz's Book So You Don't Have To,” 12/28/2015, Joseph Farah at World Net Daily (WND) is a big purveyor of Dominionist teachings. See, for example: or or 
4. “Ted Cruz touts endorsement from NAR leader Mike Bickle” appears on a Cruz campaign promo page which looks like Cruz is also endorsing Bickle: See also: by Marsha West, 1/26/15. Cruz published a list of over 300 endorsers before the South Carolina primary: 
5. See the article, “Ted Cruz campaign defends pastor who said God will send hunters for Jews,” See also “Cruz Campaign Defends Controversial Pastor Who Says God Sent Hitler To Hunt Jews,” and “Why Ted Cruz's Preacher Sidekick Is No Friend of the Jews — or Israel” by Sarah Posner, a longtime critic of the NAR: Jewel Grewe notes that her (now deceased) husband Travers van der Merwe, who founded Discernment Ministries and warned about the teachings of the Latter Rain and Manifest Sons of God, early on warned about the lurking anti-semitic elements in this theology. Al Dager in his 1990 book documenting Dominionism, titled Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion (Sword Publishers), also describes these sub-currents.
6. This tour is documented in “The Next Great Awakening… or Great Deadening? Part 1: Rallying Around the Seven Mountains” published on Herescope, 8/27/10: 
7. Brian Tashman, “Beyond The Pale: Ted Cruz Puts Extremists At The Center Of His Campaign,” 2/2/2016 : 
8. See: Also read: “Ted Cruz’s campaign is fueled by a dominionist vision for America (COMMENTARY)” by John Fea, February 4, 2016 
9. Rick Joyner, “Authority in Christ—The Book of Revelation by Rick Joyner | MorningStar Word for the Week 2016,”
10. Kyle Mantyla, “Kenneth Copeland Declares That Ted Cruz Has Been ‘Called and Anointed’ By God To Be The Next President,” 2/5/16, See the late Pastor Ken Silva’s website for many articles about Copeland and his Word Faith beliefs, e.g. 
11. See, for example, our article “The Coalescing of the Christian Right with Apostolic Dominionism, 4/8/10, and also “Sarah Palin's Churches and The Third Wave: New Video Documentary,” Sept. 7, 2008, and and and
12. "Gov. Sarah Palin Writes To The Elijah List Family!" Dec. 18, 2015.
13. Lance Wallnau’s public Facebook page: Kyle Mantyla wrote several articles: “Leading Dominionist Says Donald Trump Is A Modern-Day Lincoln Anointed By God,” 12/3/15: and “Seven Mountains Advocate Declares That God Has Given Donald Trump 'An Anointing For The Mantle Of Government'” 11/5/15, See also: “Donald Trump’s saving grace: Televangelists,” by Ben Schreckinger, 9/30/15, 
14. We coined a term to describe this, "Dominionism Lite." See "Where Rick Warren's Disciples Are," Jan. 21, 2006, and also read: Denying Dominionism, and "Mainstreaming Dominionism," 
15. Herescope, June 20, 2007, “At first it may seem like totalitarianism” 
16. See: Read more: and also see: and link over to the Vimeo recording of a talk by Sarah Leslie describing this 7 mountain conference in detail, with graphics: 
17. Ibid. 
18. Read:
19. Read: In case you think that Kuyper's spheres idea is dead, see "If Kuyper Could, Why Can’t Swanson?" 2/24/16:
20. "The Kingdomizers Have Arrived!" Discernment Newsletter, May/June 1992 Also cited here: 

*Exhibit A: *"Figure 2" at the top of this post is Exhibit A, a graphic representation of what this post is concerned about. It comes from Eric Swanson, To Transform A City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City (Zondervan, 2010). Figure 2 comes from the Foreword, p. 11, and it provides a visual chart of the "7 domains of culture," of which Healthcare is the 7th. The Church in this diagram is seen encompassing the other 6 secular "domains." The book explains, "The missional church sees itself as the people of God... already deployed across all domains of culture." This is an incredible visual of the Dominionist church model. Swanson acknowledges Bob Buford of Leadership Network on p. 13. To see Eric Swanson's new "gospel," watch the youtube video, which is also posted in the context of an article "What Is Dominionism?" posted at

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

“God has filled the Scripture with Truth”

Meditating upon and searching the Scriptures

“Whereas it is said, To-day if ye will hear His voice,
harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.”

(Heb. 3:15)

Selected excerpts from an exposition of Hebrews 3:15 regarding hearing God's Word and its effect on our heart*

Psalm 138:2: “He hath magnified His Word above all His name;” or made it more instructive than any other way or means whereby He has revealed Himself. For not only does the whole Scripture contain the whole counsel of God, concerning His own glory and worship, our faith, obedience, and salvation, but also every parcel of it has in it such a depth of truth as cannot by us be perfectly searched into.

Psalm 119:18: “Open Thou mine eyes,” says the psalmist, “that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.” There are wonderful things in the Word, if God be pleased to give us light to see it. It is like a cabinet of jewels, that when you pull out one box or drawer and search into it, you find it full; pull out another, it is full; and when you think you have pulled out all, yet still there are some more secret recesses in the cabinet, so that if you search further you will find more.

Our apostle seems to have drawn out all the boxes of this cabinet, but making a second search into the words, he finds all these things treasured up, which he had not before intimated nor touched upon.

It was said by some of old, that the “Scripture hath fords where a lamb may wade, and depths where an elephant may swim.” And it is true in respect of the perspicuity of some places, and the difficulty of others. But the truth is also, that God has in His grace and wisdom so ordered its concernments, that… many, most, yea, all the particular places of it and passages in it are such as through which a lamb may wade safely, and an elephant swim without danger of striking against the bottom.

Let any lamb of Christ come, in that order, with that reverence unto the reading or hearing the Word of God (the Scripture itself I mean) which is required, and he will find no place so dark or difficult but that it will yield him that refreshment which is suited unto him and safe for him, and something of God he will obtain. For either he will find his graces excited, or his mind enlightened, or his conscience peculiarly brought into a reverence of God.

And let the wisest, the most learned and experienced person, that seems like an elephant in spiritual skill and strength amongst the flock, come to the plainest place to search out the mind and will of God in it, if he be humble as well as learned, – which if he be not he is not wise, – he will scarce boast that he has been at the bottom of it, and hath perfectly comprehended all that is in it, seeing whatever we know, “we know but in part.” [1 Cor. 13:12]

And they may all of them, elephants and lambs, meet at the same passage of this river that makes glad the city of God, these waters of rest and quietness (Psalm 23:20) where the lambs may wade safely, and the elephants swim together. The poorest of the flock, in the right use of means, may take enough for themselves, even suitable direction and refreshment, from those very places of Scripture whose depths the learnedest guides of the church are not able to sound or fathom.

Not only in several places, but in the same place, text, or testimony of Scripture, there is food meet for the several ages of Christians, whether babes and children or strong men; with light and direction for all sorts of believers, according to the degrees of their own inward light and grace.

It is like manna, which, though men gathered variously according to their strength and appetite, yet every one had that proportion which suited his own eating.

When a learned man, and one mighty in the Scriptures, undertakes the consideration of a place of Scripture, and finds, it may be, in the issue, that with all his skill and industry, with all his helps and advantages, though attended in the use of them with fervent prayer and holy meditation, he is not able to search it out unto perfection, let him not suppose that such a place will be of no advantage unto them who are not sharers in his advantages, but rather are mean and unlearned. For they may obtain a useful portion for themselves where he cannot take down all.

If any one look on this river of God like behemoth on Jordan, “trusting that he can draw it up unto his mouth,” [Job 40:23] or take up the whole sense of God in it, he of all others seems to know nothing of its worth and excellency.

And this arises… principally from the things themselves treated of in the Scripture. For, divine and spiritual truths having God not only as their immediate fountain and spring, but also as their proper and adequate object, there is still somewhat in them that cannot be searched out unto perfection. As He said, “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” Job 11:7,– [Hebrew taklîyth] “find him out to a perfect comprehension,” or “to a consummation of knowledge,” that it should be perfect. This neither the nature of God nor our condition will admit of.

We do at best but “follow after,” that we may in our measure “apprehend that for which we also are apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12). And these things are so tempered by divine wisdom unto the faith and light of believers, and therein unto the uses of their consolation and obedience, that something hereof is plainly exhibited to every spiritual eye – always provided that their search and inquiry be regulated according to the will of God, in a due use of the means. For to this purpose not only the private endeavors of men are required, but the use also of the public ministry, which is ordained of God to lead men gradually into continual further acquaintance with the will of God in the Scripture.

Some think that it belongs unto the fulness of the Scripture that each place in it should have various senses,– some way three, some four. But this, indeed, is to empty it of all fulness; for if it have not everywhere one proper determinate sense, it hath none at all. This it has; but the things which the words of it are signs of and are expressed by, are so great, deep, and mysterious, and have such various respects unto our light, faith, and obedience, as that it is unsearchably instructive unto us. “The commandment is exceeding broad,” (Ps 119:96) [Hebrew râchâb];– the word used to express the wideness of the sea, Psalm 104:25,– “The great sea,” that hath “wide and large arms,” which it stretches out to comprehend the whole earth. So does the command widen and stretch out its arms, to comprehend the whole church of God, to water it and to make it fruitful.

God having stamped His authority and wisdom upon it [Scripture], every concernment of it, every consequence from it, every circumstance reported in it, has its authority in and upon the consciences of men for the end whereunto it is designed….

And this may teach men what diligence they ought to use in searching and studying of the Scripture….

Especially is this incumbent on them whose duty and office it is to declare and expound them unto others. And there is amongst many a great miscarriage in these things, and that both in some that teach, and some that only privately read or meditate on the Word. 
  • Some men preach with very little regard to the Scripture, either as to the treasury and promptuary of all the truth they are to dispense, or as to the rule whereby they are to proceed. 
  • And some are ready to coin notions in their own minds, or to learn them from others, and then attempt to put them upon the Scripture, or obtain countenance from thence unto them. And this is the way of men who invent and vent false opinions and groundless curiosities, which a previous due reverential observance of the Word might have delivered them from. 
  • And some again, and those too many, superficially take up with that sense of the words which obviously presents itself unto their first consideration, which they improve to their own purposes as they see cause. 
Such persons as these see little of the wisdom of God in the Word; they enter not into those mines of gold; they are but passengers, they do not “stand in the counsel of God, to hear His Word” (Jer. 23:22).

It is certain that the diligent search into the Scriptures which is commended unto us, which the worth of them and the things contained in them requires, and which that fulness and comprehension of truth that is in them does make necessary, is by most neglected. And the same may be observed in multitudes of commentators and expositors. They express things otherwise one than another, but for the most part directly the same.

Seldom any one ventures into the deep one step beyond what he sees his way beat before him, and, as he supposes, his ground secure; though a diligent inquirer may often find the most beaten path either to turn away from the fountain, or at least to end and fail before it comes there.

I would not speak anything to encourage men in bold adventures, groundless conjectures, and curious pryings into things hidden, secret, and marvelous; but it is humble diligence, joined with prayer, meditation, and waiting on God for the revelation of His will, in the study of the Scripture, upon the account of the fulness of its treasurey, and the guiding, instructive virtue wherewithal its concerns are accompanied, that I would press after.

And hence I am persuaded that the church of God hath, through His care and faithfulness, had great advantage from their opposition unto the Truth who, to countenance their own errors, have searched curiously into all the concernments of the words of many testimonies given unto the Truth. For though they have done this to their own destruction, yet “out of this eater there hath come forth meat.” For they have not only given an occasion unto, but imposed a necessity upon us to search with all diligence into every concernment of some most material passages in the Scripture, and that to the clearing of the Truth and the establishing of the minds of many.

That which I would press from these considerations,… is, that our utmost diligence, especially in them who are called unto the instruction of others, is required in this neglected, yea despised work of searching the Scriptures.

And as a consequent of the neglect hereof, I cannot but say that I have observed a threefold defect amongst sundry teachers, that was in general intimated before; as,
  • First, When men scarce at any time make use of the Scripture in their preaching any further than to make remarks and observations on the obvious sense of any place, neither entering themselves, nor endeavoring to lead their hearers into the secret and rich recesses of them. 
  • And secondly, which is worse, When men without the Scripture design their subjects, and project the handling of them, and occasionally only take in the words of the Scripture, and that guided more by the sound than the sense of them. 
  • And thirdly, which is worst of all, When man by their own notions, opinions, curiosities, and allegories, rather draw men from the Scripture than endeavor to lead them unto it.

“These [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
(Acts 17:11) 

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.”
(John 5:39) 

*John Owen, D.D. (1616-1683), Exposition of Hebrews, Vol. 4, Reprinted by Banner of Truth Trust, 1991, pp 165-169. Excerpted, edited and adapted for modern blog posting by updating grammar and punctuation.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Fatal Drift

A Book Review & Excerpt

Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? by Dr. Jim Jenkins (Deep River Books, 2014) 

By Sarah H. Leslie
Last Fall my husband and I sat down for coffee with Pastor Jim Jenkins. He had been introduced to us by two of our friends: Warren B. Smith, a well-known author whose writings have often appeared on Herescope, and Paul Smith, brother of the late Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel) and author of New Evangelicalism: The New World Order. Pastor Jim wanted to give us a copy of his book, Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor?

Pastor Jim told us how was one of the first-responders at 9/11, serving as a chaplain to the families amidst the toxic rubble and overwhelming human loss. I soon realized that his transformative life experience is similar to his book topic. In Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? Pastor Jim writes like a “first responder” coming upon the disastrous shipwreck of evangelical postmodernism. He explains, “In this book I will chronicle what I see as the abdicating of the church in the face of the barrage of progressive indoctrination.”(p. 29) Pastor Jim has a real heart for the Scripture, and he takes a strong stand in his book for biblical inerrancy, which, he mentioned to us, was rapidly degrading before his very eyes while he was getting his DMin at Fuller.

Over coffee Pastor Jim told us about his jolting experience witnessing a high level New Age ceremony in British Columbia in 2012. He gives a detailed account of this disturbing incident in his book. After watching a “Sacred Circle Dance,” he reported that he “was stunned when she reached the point in her address where she, in a matter-of-fact fashion said, ‘All religions that are not harmonious with the New Age must be eliminated….’”(p. 19)[emphasis added]

In Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor? Pastor Jim is a tour guide, leading the reader through the rubble and debris he stumbled onto while observing the rise of postmodern evangelicalism. He writes about the ramifications of the church abandoning biblical inerrancy and accommodating itself to the postmodern culture. He predicts, “In order to fuse progressive politics and progressive religion, the 'troublesome' passages which state that Christ is the only way of salvation in the Bible have to be dealt with,” and also the Gospel will be redefined “from salvation found in Christ alone to a kinder/gentler version….” (p. 29)

Pastor Jim also brings a fresh perspective to current issues in discerning the times. He is an encouragement to those of us who have served in the trenches of this for decades. His unique vantage point is from the heart of a pastor/chaplain who has arrived on the scene of the “great evangelical disaster” (Dr. Francis Schaeffer's term) and seeks to warn others about it. He quotes from a wide range of commentators on the topic of postmodernism, explains how the church has been accommodating to the culture, and speaks to the necessity of holding to the position of biblical inerrancy. Note: some of the men cited in his book have fallen into errors. Nevertheless, a discerning reader should be able to navigate this.

Chapter 8 examining the postmodern use of narratives is worth the small price of the book. But first it requires knowing a working definition of the term postmodern. Pastor Jim has given us permission to reproduce a sample excerpt from his book from Chapter 5:

“You Eyeballed It, Didn’t You?”
As I mentioned earlier, part of my Reserve Chaplain Career involved serving with the Marines. In that capacity while serving with a company of combat engineers which was tasked with building bridges, I learned a lesson I will never forget. 

It was raining. It seemed like every drill weekend it was raining. This particular weekend we were camped out in a rock quarry along the river. Our assignment was to build a certain type of bridge to cross the river. 

I had previously seen pallets of pre-engineered steel components stored at the Reserve Center. I noted at the time that I didn’t see cranes or other heavy equipment to the degree I might have expected. This weekend, I would learn why. 

This particular type of bridge was designed to be assembled in pieces like a giant erector set, and it was designed to be assembled by manpower. Those pallets of bridge components also contained lifting bars. Two Marines or four Marines or how many as were needed would put on their gloves, pick up their lifting bars and literally lift each piece into position for assembly. It was backbreaking work... and did I mention it was raining? 

A little background here might be instructive. The command structure of a Marine Reserve unit is comprised of both active duty and reserve components. Active duty Marines serve as instructors and facilitators and the reserve unit with its own commanding officer learns the skills necessary to function in a combat environment. The senior officer of the active duty component is known as the Inspector/Instructor or “I and I” for short.

This particular weekend, the Inspector/Instructor stood by relatively passively as the reserve officer took command and gave orders to begin the bridge building. This particular type of bridge is assembled on one river bank by hand.... It was raining; did I mention that? 

Once the bridge superstructure was completed on one bank of the river, a boom component would be thrust across to the other side where the rest of the construction would take place. Once complete, the bridge would be sturdy enough to handle both people and vehicle traffic. 
My job as chaplain was to be with the troops as they accomplished this arduous task, encouraging them, ripping open an MRE and sharing coffee with them on their break, being the comic relief as I attempted to do even a portion of the hard labor... all the while affirming them.

It really was inspiring to watch these young devil dogs as they strained to lift each piece of solid steel, and then bolt each plate piece in place. All day long as the rain came down, they counted and lifted in unison... piece by piece... knuckle busting... dirty... sandy... grubby hard work. 

At the end of what seemed like three days instead of one. The pieces were all assembled. The commander gave the order, and the exhausted Marines prepared for one last herculean effort to thrust the boom across the river. “ONE... TWO.... THREE”... and they pushed with all their might... nothing. 

Two... three times more... they redoubled their efforts... “PUSH!”... nothing. The officer in charge began to sweat.... Finally, the order came to ‘stand by’ and the Inspector/Instructor and the commander took a little walk. 

I was close enough to overhear their conversation. To his credit, the active duty officer didn’t berate the officer in charge. As they looked off in the opposite direction together I overheard the Inspector Instructor say, “You eyeballed it didn’t you?” 

Despite protestations to the contrary, the officer in charge admitted that perhaps at the very beginning of the exercise he may have just estimated or “eyeballed it” but the rest of the day, he consulted the book. 

“You should have started by the book at the very beginning. All you did was add tons of weight to something that wasn’t in alignment from the start. You’ll have to do it all over.” 

And so the Marines used every colorful word in their lexicon, grabbed some MRE’s and then put their gloves back on (Oh, and did I say it was raining?), took the whole thing apart bit by bit... piece by piece... and then started it all over again. Only this time it was by the book, from step one to the finish. 
The Inspector/Instructor taught a powerful lesson. The officer in charge learned a powerful lesson, and a soggy chaplain learned perhaps the most powerful lesson of all. For you see the whole time I heard those two officers talking, I thought about the authority of the Bible, and the absolute necessity of living “by the Book.” 

I was witnessing a parable. In preparing to write this book, I thought back to this rainy day bridge-building exercise. As church leaders, we can be well intentioned in our efforts to build a bridge to reach people for the Lord. We can exert incredible amounts of energy. We can even motivate others to redouble their efforts. We can have team building exercises—esprit d’ corps— if you will. 

At the end of the day, however, if what we do, we attempt to do in our strength, we’ll end up doing what seems best to us (eyeballing it) rather than consulting our manual—the Bible. Our best bridge may look nice, but can’t help people safely reach the other side. 

All the weighty improvisations, clever though they be, will not account for failing to consult the Book from the outset. Anything built on a less than God’s specified start point will eventually be immobilized by its own weight. Hence the purpose in writing this book. 

Throughout my entire ministry, I have been watching and warning and preaching because I see something. There has been a steady, methodical, relentless assault on the authority of the Scriptures. The notion of an inerrant Bible and the very idea of such a thing as propositional truth are now looked upon as relics from an irrelevant past—ideas destined for the dust bin of history. 

Emergent church writer Phyllis Tickle has actually said that every five hundred years or so the church needs to have a rummage sale (the inference being, “to throw out useless stuff” that no one wants anymore.) What is shocking to me is that she was referring to the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation, and the main doctrine known as Sola Scriptura . . . Only the Scriptures.1 

We are obsessed with innovation. We hold conference after conference on how to build bridges to people... We write books and read books on “how to be relevant”... think about that for a minute.... The Church of the living God needing to consult ad men and social scientists in order to accommodate the world spirit... to be perceived as relevant

I remember an incident that took place when George W. Bush was president. The press hounded him relentlessly, always probing, looking to trap him in a “Gotcha” moment. 

One clever reporter cited a critic who inferred that the President was no longer relevant. President Bush took the bait and said. “I’m relevant.” Well guess what the press did with that sound bite? For months they played it over and over again. He had been tricked into giving weight to a question that was designed to put him on the defensive, and by answering he gave credibility to the assumption . . . a contrived assumption of his perceived irrelevance. 

I believe that denominations, seminaries, and Christians in general have fallen prey to a similar ploy. Emergent church writers say the same thing again and again in one form or another. “In this postmodern era, none of the old ideas will work in reaching this generation.” 

Once this premise is uttered, Christian pollsters oblige with survey after survey confirming the conventional wisdom that the church must totally revamp its methods and sadly alter its message to reach these special people who would never respond to something as “old school” as altar calls and preaching the certainty of Jesus Christ as the only savior. 

What does the term postmodern mean anyway? I came across this insightful description of the term. 
A general and wide-ranging term which is applied to literature, art, philosophy, architecture, fiction, and cultural and literary criticism, among others. Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. In essence, it stems from a recognition that reality is not simply mirrored in human understanding of it, but rather, is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own particular and personal reality. 
For this reason, postmodernism is highly skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.2 

From that definition I glean that postmodernism is: 
  • primarily a reaction 
  • that it constructs reality in the mind rather than relying on objective truth 
  • that reality only ‘comes into being’ in our interpretation 
  • that personal experience trumps objective propositional truth 
Thinking about the implications of this for bridge building, I try to imagine a bridge being built based on these criteria. What would a bridge be like if it was built solely based on a reactionary approach which emphasized interpretation and downplayed proposition truths like the laws of physics? 

One of the signs of a community in decline is a crumbling infrastructure. In the recent federal government stimulus package, which was supposed to kick start the economy, one of the first areas of investment was to be the repair of unsafe bridges. What makes for a safe, reliable bridge? For a bridge to be safe, it must be the product of both engineered plans and tested materials. And once built, bridges need to be inspected and maintained. Let’s look at each of these criteria…. 

1. [The late] Phyllis Tickle’s book is entitled The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. “Tickle’s basic thesis is that every 500 years, the Church goes through a rummage sale, and cleans out the old forms of spirituality and replaces it with new ones. This does not mean that previous forms become obsolete or invalid. It simply means they lose pride of place as the dominant form of Christianity. Constantine in the late 4th century, early 5th, the Great Schism of the 11th century, the Reformation in the 16th century, and now the Postmodern era in the 21st century have all been points of reference for these changes. 
What is giving way right now is Protestantism, in the form that we know it, and what is emerging is a new form of Christianity, what she is calling “The Great Emergence.” One can only guess whether or not it is tribal form, an individualistic form, a social form, or a combination of all of them. But, what we can say is that Protestantism in all its denominational forms is losing influence and is giving way to alternative forms of Christian expression.” 
2. PBS, “Postmodern,” accessed December 15, 2012,

To read the rest of this chapter, see the book on Amazon: Fatal Drift: Is the Church Losing Its Anchor?