I know many of you people in the American South, especially the younger ones, love to complain about the overly-churchy culture down there. But believe me, you are the lucky ones IMO. Come out here to the "desert" and see how you like it. My friend, who lives in a small town near Tyler, Texas, told me a few months ago about how the mayor of her city gave a wonderful speech. She gave me the city website link and I went there to read the speech. I was shocked! You mean a mayor can say the name of Jesus Christ and actually offer a prayer in his name? If a mayor out where I live did that, he would probably get arrested. If you can even find an evangelical church anymore out here you are fortunate. Then if the church you find even teaches just the rudimentary elementary facts and knowledge of how to be born again, you've found a gem. If the worship is fantastic and the Holy Spirit is actually understood as to how to get His power going in the church, you've found a goldmine! Out here in So. California, that is. I am definitely going to get Julia Duin's new book that, according to reviews I've read, describes this wretched state of the American evangelical church. She points out that in the 1970's things were so good (they were out here at least). So wha' happened? Anyone want to weigh in on that question?
It's utterly amazing and very disheartening to see our once very Christ and cross-centered Christian colleges completely disintegrate into postmodern-liberal Protestant idealism. Here is just another one where the head of a college just does not get it. Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho invited a Dr. Jay McDaniel for a lecture to the university's students. My source (below), is saying this gentleman is a "Buddhist nd universalist sympathizer." I don't know if that's true but after reading the quote below, it sure sounds like it.
When asked by a student whether he believed that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life,” McDaniel stated that if Jesus had meant to say that He himself was the way, the truth, and the life, it would have been egocentric and arrogant of Jesus – He only meant to point people in the right direction – letting go of ego and grasping love. McDaniel stated also that Buddhist mindfulness (eastern meditation) is just as truth filled as doctrine and theology. He said there was an overemphasis in the church on doctrine calling it bibliolatry (idol worship of the Bible).
In a subsequent post, my source wrote the president of the unviersity. This was his reply,
Culture and belief systems that were once a world away, are now as near as an immigrant student, a next door neighbor or a link to a website. Consequently, it is the duty and responsibility of the university to make ourselves and our students aware of the world’s religions, sects and quests for God. This is necessary if we are to appropriately know how we as Christians, are to proclaim the gospel to Muslims, pantheists, or Buddhists (an area where Dr. McDaniel has done research).
My source then wisely points out something that these university "presidents" seem to be missing--why are they inviting these people? Why not get Christian professors to teach about "other religions and lifestyles and beliefs." That is an excellent question. I think the problem might be what Nietzshe called "the Spirit of the Age." Except, that is something unbeleivers are supposed to have--not Christian presidents of Christian colleges, universities and seminaries.
I thought this was interesting and started my thinking about the truth of it. It's from an e-journal at the 9Marks site,
The challenge for churches, we’re told, is striking the balance between isolation and assimilation. Usually, this translates into, “Change your church structures and the way you talk, but not your doctrine.” The trouble is, changing our structures and the way we talk changes the way we think, because words and structures shape thinking. For instance, change how you talk about the gospel and your congregation will think differently about the gospel. Change what membership means, to use another example, and your congregation will begin to understand the inclusiveness and exclusiveness of God’s love—and so God himself—differently.
I am realizing more and more how destructive it was for the larger evangelical church not to investigate objectively a theology of Holy Spirit as the Pentecostals understand it. Of course the larger church might have needed to prune off some "weird" stuff, but they essentially threw away the baby with the dirty bathwater. And what has this resulted in? Here are two recent examples:
1. The Pat Robertson announcement was absolutely weird to unbelievers as it should have been. But the reaction from Christians is very sobering and tragic to me. It is apparent that most Evangelical Christians haven't the slightest clue as to what is happening in the spiritual realm and the effect it has on humans on earth. In fact, many reading this will think I am in some kind of "spiritual voodoo" (sorry for the pun). I assure you that I am reasonably intelligent and not a codependent kool-aid drinker. But I can read my Bible, and what is more shocking!--I actually believe it. What Pat Robertson said wasn't weird at all. Check out the OT and how God dealt with HIS people (much less "other" people) who worshipped occultic idols. But today's God is a nice guy who never makes trouble for anyone. Sadly, this is a false God. And the younger Christians have fallen hook, line and sinker for this God. Why? Because their parents, having been raised by another false god--the fire and brimstone-"gonna getcha" god--have over-reacted with their children to make sure they never get to know that God. In the process, they have created anotehr false god for their children.
2. I read Brian McLaren's blog today. He's in Israel right now and his most recent blog is the usual Rodney King theology of "can't we all get along" by synthesizing our truths?
Here is a quote from his blog post today. He's talking about the constant conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelites.
People aren't the enemy. Rather, it's harmful ideologies and world views and narratives that rule and exert power in and through people's lives. Paul called these forces "principalities and powers," and they really do possess people and cause them to do terrible things they would never do in their right minds. When hateful and dehumanizing ideologies take control, both victimizers and victims are dehumanized.
It's not that this is wrong. It just ignores the spiritual realm and puts all of the onus on the physical realm which rarely really improves situations. But note the sentence that says,
Rather, it's harmful ideologies and world views and narratives that rule and exert power in and through people's lives. Paul called these forces "principalities and powers," and they really do possess people and cause them to do terrible things they would never do in their right minds.
LIke their counterparts, the liberal Protestants, the emergents/progressives have trouble taking the Bible literally in places where it should be taken literally. It is obvious that "principalities and powers" are not "harmful ideologies and world views and narratives that rule and exert power....."
So, getting back to my first point, since in America we've taken a very scientific view of the Scriptures and Christian doctrine in general, the original intent of the first apostolic writings are determined from a very earthly point of view. I wish the Pentecostals would wake up! I would tell them to start communicating these truths in a way that people can understand them (perhaps Robertson didn't do so hot a job in this). I guess I was spoiled, having been in Jack Hayford's church for 8 years a while ago. He was an excellent communicator of WHY their church believed the way they did and how that intersected with the Scriptures. If we don't get the Holy Spirit back into the church (in balance with the Word, not over the Word like many Charismatics and a few Pentecostals do)the evangelical church will continue to go into the wrong direction and accomplish very little (espeically for the poor). And if that happens, and in fact it's happening right now, the country will not fare well at all.
"D" writes: I went to Lakeland 3 times. I was so drawn to go there. I really thought it was of God... I had so many supernatural experiences - to seeing a mystical Jesus with a third eye, angels talking to me, visions, being transported. I had one experience with my daughter being in the room and her experiencing it too. I was roaring like a lion, had gold dust and many other experiences. The worst thing that happened to me is that it got sexual. This false Jesus was approaching me sexually and I fell into it. I still to this day do not understand how I could have been so decieved. I have been a Christian since the age of 16. I am 49 now... I fell right in... hook, line and sinker. When I came home that last viist I became aware it was demonic, and I was surrounded and covered with demons literally, it was so horrible, all that I went through, you cannot imagine... I was seeing demons and being touched sexually and tormentingly constantly.. it has been 1 1/2 years and I am still battling these demonic spirits. I cry out to the Lord everyday for total deliverance. It has been horrible. I have renounced and repented, but still fighting. How do we get free of this?
SHERIE writes: I can testify that I was infested with this foul eastern spirit, the kundalini. I was in a movement from 1992 - 2000 which had close links with the Toronto movement. From 2000 - 2006 I joined a church with links to Bill Johnson. I was desperate for God to move in my life and change situations and heal hurts and was very open to ministry - I had many in this movement touch my forehead and experienced the manifestations you describe - drunkenness, laughing and crying, shaking. I got dreams and visions and just before I left the structure (church) I had a vivid dream of a huge python that came through the back door and attached itself to my car, and also to rooms in my home. I was very disturbed and sought the Lord for an answer.
It took about 6 months before I was delivered, but God brought a couple over my path who God had trained and had victory over spiritual entities. Every time I was in their presence, I would get very anxious, and they would calmly pray for me and I could feel darkness leaving and my sanity restored. It was only after 6 months of these episodes, I was again in their presence and sensed a fight ensue in the Spirit. I was very anxious and fearful and could feel a huge snake in my spine - I was rigid and very uncomfortable - It felt as if this thing wanted to throttle me and rob me of my life. I called out to God and they quietly prayed - then I asked the Lady to pull this serpent out of my head - it felt as if it could exit near the top of my crown. She continued to pray and I got the word "kundalini " in my spirit and just commanded this thing by its name to go in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. I pled the blood as it was very frightening, and it left. I felt like a washed out rag, but I was free!
That was the last lime I had deliverance and my spiritual eyes have since opened and God has done a mighty work in me outside of the structure... Afterwards they were amazed and asked me what strange term I had used and where it came from - I had no idea except that it was God who gave me knowledge in that situation. Thank you for the info that has made everything clear to me!I Now have confirmation from where I was infected! May many of your readers heed the call of God to "come out and sever yourselves" from Babylon and its lies and deception and foul spirits, while there is time...
LUCY writes: David Wilkerson also mentioned the kundalini spirit, and I researched it in late October, after having attended the Fredericks- burg (Virginia) Prayer Furnace at which Che Ahn ministered. There, I saw many of the manifestations you mention: hopping and jumping during "worship", falling backward at Che Ahn's touch, extreme jerkiness in several cases. Very uncomfortable with this, I came home and watched (my first time ever) videos of Todd Bentley. Needless to say, I was appalled...
SARAH writes: I'm just about in tears over all of this... May and I watched the very first nights of the recent "outpouring of the Holy Spirit" on the IHOP webstream and boy, did that turn sour fast. Aside from the singing on the first night, everything was just messed up. AHH! It's breaking my heart! How many people do we know and love in KC?! I've watched my beloved siblings laugh uncontrollably, jerk as though sick, stumble and speak as though drunk, and "sing in tongues" in complete chaos and without interpretation. I've raised the issue among friends of being "drunk in the Spirit" and even though I prove over and over that God is for self-control, which they agree with, they continue to act like drunken fools! (See Titus 1:8 and 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:6-7 which compared in the NKJV and NIV relates self-control with being sober, pointing to the fact that the Holy Spirit is not one who takes delight in being drunk at all, but in being sober-minded - fruit of the Spirit, what? Drunkenness is the complete opposite of being filled with the Holy Spirit! For sober-mindedness is a filling of Him!; 1 Peter 1:13, 4:7, and 5:8 ...
BRENDA writes: A very dear friend of mine who has been my prayer partner for years were lured into the enemy's web of deception about many of the ministries and manifestations that you spoke about. After reading and listening to your web broadcasts we had a powerful prayer session repenting, renouncing, and commanding any spirit that we had picked up from these false prophets/doctrines of demons, etc. to go from us in Jesus' name. We broke all kinds of things off of us. Most of it was deep repentance and renouncing - thank you for exposing the enemy and his tactics and all the deception that the church body has fallen deeply into...
ANDREW STROM: Yes - if you have had "hands laid" or done "soaking prayer" under any of these kinds of ministries, it is very important to RENOUNCE (from the very depths of your being in Jesus' name) and also COMMAND OUT these 'kundalini' spirits or any other "anointing" that you have received. Remember, you must VIOLENTLY EXPEL these things in the name of JESUS. Be FREE in His mighty name!
I truly wonder what God is going to do to those ministries who have been spreading this alien spirit right through the Body of Christ. Truly, Judgment must begin "at the house of God."
When I started Crossroads 5 1/2 years ago, I began the blog by analyzing the Third Wave Charismatic Movement (think Toronto Vineyard and Brownsville AG). It ws then I warned that this movement had BIG probems. I began to see the occult spirit deceiving those in charge that it was the Holy Spirit. Wherever the occult spriit is, you have not only occultic activity, but also cultic control. Recently, thanks to Bob over at Onward, Forward, Toward I read another piece by a former "victim"--this one an IHOP (no, not the pancakes, the prayer "house") member, and once again, my gut feelings were correct. This is really a must read. It's called Some of My IHOP "Red Flags".
Well, Pat Robertson seems to have put his foot into his mouth again. Or has he? When Pat Robertson makes his "pronouncements" we have to remember that he is basically talking to those he considers Charismatics/Pentecostals who are used to hearing about the effect the spiritual realm has on the physical realm. The Christian novels by Frank Peretti in the late 1980's and early '90's illustrated this relationship (This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, etc.) From these books, many more Christians outside the Charismatic/Pentecostal fold began to understand this. I agree with Robertson and so do many other Christians. It is very similar to the worship of Baal in the OT. When a group of people consistently worship occult gods, not good things might very well happen. It is futile to talk about doing "social justice." Why? We can bring scads of money and social justice into Haiti and so what? If the voodoo and other paganistic religious practices continue, do you really think all of the do-ggodism will resolve the problem? Or will it be another do-gooder bandaid that "alleviates" suffering and that is all? This is why, in addition to aid, conversion is alwyays the answer, because people need to be changed inside. Outside change is superficial and doesn't last. It was interesting that David Brooks, Republican commentator for the NY Times OP/Ed page (although certainly not a really conservative Republican in many eyes) last Friday quoted a book he had read which said,
Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.
I guess harsh gods require harsh methods from their followers. If David Brooks says it, then it's all right. But if Pat Robertson says the same thing, people go crazy, even Christians. Is he saying Haitians are mean people? No, not necessarily. But the do-gooders go ballistic when someone is saying what Robertson (and Brooks) said jumping to the conclusin that they are condemning a wholesale group of people. As an educator I believe firmly in educating people about truth. I believe many will then adopt the truth. The truth in this case is not preaching the social gospel alone, but also bringing a true Christian message of Christ's substitutionary atonement to them. As someone who taught in many Los Angeles inner city public schools, I've seen the do-gooders come and go. The poor get the goodies the do-gooders bring and when they leave a few months later the poor just go back doing what they were doing before. Real change? NO.
And now, back to Robertson. The problem here IMO is, a majority of Christians don't have a clue about the spiritual realm and so when he says these things, they get very upset. Also, many unbelievers are also watching him, and from the secular news reports we are hearing that are quoting him, he is being monitored carefully by secular news media. When a large group of people are watching and listening to you, you have to be careful to explain things carefully to that audience. For instance, he could have given examples from the Bible when people worshipped other gods what happened. He could have pointed out that most Haitians probalby don't realize this. He will never please the secularists, because they have no understanding of these things since, as Paul said, "they cannot spiritually discern these things."
By the way, Robertson used to be a successful New York City attorney, a son of a United States Senator and also a Columbia Law School graduate. When he became a Christian, he and his wife gave up everything and moved into Harlem to live and work among the poor there. So, perhaps he has better credentials than many think. But he never lost sight of social help as an adjunct to the logocenter which was the real message of Christ.
I imagine we will be hearing more from Robertson that distresses people. But before we judge, let's ask if he might have gotten a hold of a truth, even if he presents it clumsily.
I found a great article summarizing the problem with so much of todays so-called evangelism "techniques." I've been emphasizing over here on Crossroads that there seems to be two Jesus's running around--Rabbi Jesus and Saviour Jesus. I found a greatn article by Paul Proctor sounding a very similar alarm. The really depressing thing is so many of our parachurch organizations that work with the young such as Intervarsity is buying into this stuff. I've said here previously that one of the greatest problems is not understanding how the power of the Holy Spirit works, and in some cases. also a need to be "relevant" and cool. Proctor doesn't pick up on the Holy Spirit part (but who does nowadays?), but he does pick up on the "cool" problem.
Here are some snippets from the article and the link to the whole thing (it's a short article--an easy read) is at the end of this post.
*About the current mania in young evangelical-land to do the social gospel. Proctor says, If there is any “justice” to the gospel, it is that the Lord Jesus Christ took our “justice” on the cross to satisfy the debt we incurred in our rebellion against God. But that’s not what “social justice” or the “social gospel” is about.
*He then has a brilliant take on the postmodern philosophical idea of "the marginalized," First of all, when one talks about the “marginalized” in general, they are usually referring to those outside the mainstream of society. But then, one could make the case that all minorities feel “marginalized” at some point along life’s way, from African Americans to fundamentalist Christians to homosexual activists to witches.
*And now for the real problem with the social gospel being the logocenter of the Christian message (isn't that liberal Protestantism?), The social gospel and its increasingly popular “social justice” campaign is not an acceptable substitute for preaching repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Its promoters all too often set aside the vertical, spiritual and eternal issues of sin, rebellion, obedience, holiness and reverence toward God in order to redirect the focus toward more horizontal, physical and temporal values.
*Near the end of the article, he lobs this salvo, I would say the greatest failure of the Church today is its unwillingness to say and do the unpopular thing. Too many Christians busy themselves these days trying to come up with new ways of being admired and desired by the world rather than simply being obedient to the Lord they claim to love.
I urge you to read this great article by Paul Proctor here.
The "Beloved Community" of which Tickle speaks is a term coined by pseudo-Christian philosopher Josiah Royce (1855-1916). In his 1913 book, The Problem of Christianity, Royce said that the doctrine of the incarnation is not about the coming of God in the person of Jesus Christ, but the incarnation of God in the visible church. He added that "the visible church, rather than the person of the founder [Jesus Christ], ought to be viewed as the central idea of Christianity." To Royce, the "problem of Christianity" was Jesus Christ.
Royce also said that the visible church forms a "Universal Community of Interpretation" that redefines "Christianity" to suit the conditions of the times. Royce is a favorite philosopher of the Emergents. Tellingly, his long-out-of-print book was recently republished by the Catholic University of America, an institution of the greatest chameleon church on Earth.
I keep telling you that the emergents are not creating some "new" thing.
Well, I finally got a hold of the book everyone is talking about, Deep Church by Jim Belcher. He promises to show us a "third way" between emergent and the main evangelical way of doing church. He is a "Tim Keller" PCA pastor and also was in charge of a separate church service for Gen X in the 1990's at the church I was attending. I remember vividly thinking at that time, "this is wrong--that is, separating the 20-somethings from the rest of the congregation." I guess I wasn't so wrong after all as Mr. Belcher in his book finally sees this point. But in all fairness to him, pastors and elders at that time just weren't at the point of changing anything in their service for Gen X. So why is it different today? Well, pastors have begun to notice not many Gen Xe'rs and Y'ers are showing up to their churches as well as hearing gruesome figures from Christian pollsters like George Barna saying only 9% of evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 30 go to church. That means 91% don't. And since numbers are important to many churches, they're beginning to notice, which is putting the pressure on them to at least ask, "What can we do?"
So, in the next few posts I'll report on what I think of this book.
We had a break-in at our condo New's Year's Eve. We have two laundry rooms in the back, and at the back of each of the rooms is a locked storeroom. One of the storerooms was broken into. The door was actually rammed open with wood splinters and metal parts of locks everywhere. Since I am the condo secretary I called the police. Both the police officer, the condo treasurer and I felt it was probably a homeless guy, perhaps even on drugs to do such a violent action to the door. The homeless have found our city and since we tend to be very lenient they stay here. However, they are mostly downtown unless "someone" brings them up to the north part where I live. It so happens by "coincidence" that a church three blocks from us decided to feed the homeless lunch each Sunday to teach their children and teens "compassion." The problem is when churches in our area do this, the homeless don't always go back downtown. Many "stick" around. Another church two blocks from us did this same thing a couple of years ago and it caused so much havok in the neighborhood as well as in the church, as some homeless broke in to sleep in church offices, they stopped their feeding program. They also realized that since they had a pre-school they had to be more careful. Now another church is doing this and they have a K-6 school on their premises. I guess we are dealing with the Christian idealists again who do not understand the homeless or how to deal with them. I am NOT against helping the homeless IF you are really helping them. But feeding them--if that's all you do--isn't going to help them in the long run. They won't starve because they can eat free at the Salvation Army in our city and they know that. My suggestion to these churches in our area would be to partner with churches downtown that are doing this where the homeless are centrally located with the shelter, homeless services and a better police presence. My church is one of these and they are beginning a weekly lunch for the homeless this month. But it is located two blocks from the night shelter that takes in the homeless during the winter months and right across from the central library where many sleep on the lawn. Byt he way, most of you reading this probably never come across any homeless people and frankly, most of the people who attend churches in my area live away from it and never go downtown so they don't encounter them either. I do because I go to a church near them, a senior center where the homeless like to congregate and the library. So, before you criticise me, please take time to think what that would be like. Most of the homeless keep to themselves, but you never know when a crazy one will confront or even assault you. I am mostly alone when I go to these places too. It isn't fair to the homeless much less to those they victimize to just enable them to live on the street. But weak evangelical do-gooder churches know nothing else to do except to feed and "love" them. These homeless people have had so much "love" from do-gooder Christians, other religious people and some homeless advocates it makes you sick. Love without deliverance and conversion by the power of the Holy Spirit is not love. And, substituing a week seeker-sensitive and/or social justice atonement gospel won't help these people. Some day, the young adult evangelicals are going to look around and wonder why the poor and the homeless haven't been really helped with all the efforts and talk about their churches being "missional."
We don't have to choose between Creeds and Deeds; we need to do both--but Creeds must always come first as a foundation for Deeds to arise out of.
Thanks for listening to this rather terse post. I just wanted to get it off my chest.
In his book, On Synthesizing Marxism and Christianity, Dale Vree points out that the current Marxist liberation theology is reminiscent of ancient Gnosticism, the philosophical/theological heresy that wracked the Church for many centuries. On p. 58 he writes,
"Gnostic salvation has nothing to do with remission of sin, since sin is not at issue. The problem is not sin, since sin is not at issue. The problem is not sin, but man's ignorance. Hence the remedy is not faith (in God's mercy and grace), but gnosis (literally, knowledge). Salvation is not the result of this forgiveness of sins; it is found in that enlightenment which liberates one from creatureliness, from contamination with the world. Enlightenment opens the door to self-deification.
Christ's Atonement is irrelevant to the Gnostic. Man is not a sinner, he is not a perpetrator of evil; rather, he is a victim of an evil world. Therefore, the Gnostics regarded Adam not as a sinner, but as a victim of persecution by the rulers of this world."
Vree goes on to say that the gnostics felt they needed to bring in the Kingdom of God by THEIR efforts.
If you read about the Unitarian movement in America in the 19th century and how many of these Unitarian pastors and churches began to morph into liberal Protestantism, and currently how the emergents are morphing into that same liberal Protestantism, I think it's very, very clear that this is just a new version of gnosticism. Put that together with the 1960's propensity of the liberal Protestants to begin to go into a more liberation theology and especially during the 1970's after the publication of Gustavo Gutierrez's Marxist-twinged book on liberation theology, A Theology of Liberation, and seeing how the emergents today are simply echoing these '70's Liberal Protestants, I think you can now see that these people are simply into a new Gnosticism. Therefore, this is just another reason why the emergent movement needs to be rejected. It's not helping the poor that needs to be rejected, it's their foundational beliefs and their processes that are the problem. And, as I've said here many times before, the poor ultimately are really not helped (empowered) by these people and their methods. How did we get out of the Middle Ages and elevate people, giving them a better living, and treating women, children and animals on a better level (although not a perfect level at first)? Orthodox Protestantism must account for much of this. Liberation theology has failed over and over again to really help the poor. So, why in the world would people who call themselves "Evangelicals" (i.e. the emergents) want to go down this same path again? Beats me.