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Archive for March, 2011

(revised 01/26/12)

Although the Assemblies of God (AG) has put out statements (summarized below) opposing various heresies, these heresies are still growing in the AG.
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The Assemblies of God (AG) has historically taken a stand against false teachers within Pentecostalism. I would have to say that, of all the Pentecostal denominations, the AG has traditionally been one of the most biblically sound.

Unfortunately, the AG and other denominations (both Pentecostal and non-Pentecostal) are getting more involved in Spiritual Formation (SF) (with its occult core of Contemplative Prayer/Contemplative Spirituality) and the Emerging Church (EC). The AG leadership needs to put forth written stands against both SF and the EC.

I praise the Lord that the AG has put out statements against the bizarre,  New-Ageish teachings and practices of the Third Wave (also called the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR). Following are a few of the AG’s stands currently, on issues related to the Third Wave/NAR. However, there seems to be a disconnect between the AG’s following statements and some ventures it is still involved in.

ASSEMBLIES OF GOD POSITION PAPERS REGARDING HERESIES

1) Angels: “… We must never confuse Christ, the Head, with the angels He instructs. Sadly today, some Christians feel more comfortable talking about angels than they do in sharing the salvation they enjoy through the Savior, the One who died and rose again for their conversion. Angels, of course, should never be worshipped. And neither should they hold more of our attention, fascination, or love than we bestow on our blessed Savior Jesus Christ…”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/gendoct_23_angels.cfm

2) Apostles and Prophets – “… What is the implication for the local church in the current emphasis on apostles and prophets? The Pentecostal and charismatic movements have witnessed various excessive or misplaced theological emphases over the years. We look with grave concern on those who do not believe in congregational church government, who do not trust the maturity of local church bodies to govern themselves under Scripture and the Spirit. Such leaders prefer more authoritarian structures where their own word or decrees are unchallenged…”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_4195_apostles_prophets.pdf

3) Astrology, Psychics & Transcendental Meditation – “… Involvement in the many forms of mysticism grows out of a single motivation—a desire to move beyond the revelation of God’s Word to sources of “enlightenment” that are contrary to the Bible’s revealed truth. Inordinate curiosity begins the downward path. However, God’s Word is totally adequate to provide both direction and inspiration for life. What supernatural guidance we cannot derive from the Bible and its Spirit-initiated revelation is out of bounds. It is blasphemy against God to turn away from His Word to seek forbidden knowledge and understanding through divination, magic, palm reading, astrology, tarot cards, crystal balls, Ouija boards, psychic knowledge, or any other practice that seeks to unravel divinely hidden mysteries…”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/charctr_18_astrology.cfm

4) Demon Possession – “… It seems important, then, that we do not permit Satan to sidetrack God’s people into an attention on demons or evil spirits that goes beyond the clear teaching of the Bible, thus producing a reaction that would turn people away from all that is supernatural and hinder the work of God…”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_4176_possessed.pdf

5) Modern Day Manifestations of the Spirit – “… How can we recognize a Spirit prompted and controlled manifestation? Does it bring glory to Jesus and edify the Body? The confirmation that a spiritual experience is real and biblical lies in the spiritual growth of the believer. Is there a humility that lifts up Jesus? Is the believer becoming more and more like Jesus? Are the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control—increased after a personal experience in the presence of our Lord? These fruit will have a direct effect on one’s testimony and will ultimately draw others to Christ….”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/sptlissues_manifestations.cfm

6) Miracles – “… The other danger is the abuse of wanting to help God win the skeptics and impress the saints by describing as miracles certain events which are not divine interventions of God, or by humanly trying to replicate supernatural manifestations of God. God does not need Christians pretending to be miracle workers when God is not the author and the miracle is not genuine. Members of the Assemblies of God must desire always to let God move as He chooses, and never substitute human manifestation for true supernatural miracles…”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/gendoct_20_miracles.cfm

7) Positive Confession – “… In considering any doctrine it is always necessary to ask whether it is in harmony with the total teaching of Scripture. Doctrine based on less than a holistic view of Biblical truth can only do harm to the cause of Christ. It can often be more detrimental than views which reject Scripture altogether. Some people will more likely accept something as truth if it is referred to in the Word of God, even if the teaching is an extreme emphasis or contradicts other principles of Scripture … God’s Word does teach great truths such as healing, provision for need, faith, and the authority of believers. The Bible does teach that a disciplined mind is an important factor in victorious living. But these truths must always be considered in the framework of the total teaching of Scripture… “

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_4183_confession.pdf

8 ) – Prophets and Personal Prophecies – “… The experience of the Corinthian church gives evidence that abuse and misuse can creep into the operation of the gifts of the Spirit if the vessel is not wholly submissive to the guidance and control of the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul said the message of the prophet spoken in the New Testament church should be judged by all who were hearing the message. The judging most likely was to ask how the prophecy conformed to the whole of Scripture…”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/sptlissues_prophets_prophecies.cfm

9) Non-Christian Religions – “… In our day, there is a steady drumbeat of support for toleration, as a humane and generous way to live. The earnest Christian will distinguish between respect and toleration of other human beings as individuals made in the image of God, whether or not they accept the Christian mandate, as opposed to toleration of destructive ideas that are hostile to Christian revelation and society at large. To confuse the issue of toleration for persons and the toleration of alien ideas is at the root of the issue…

Yes, the Assemblies of God aligns readily with evangelical Christianity in declaring that only in Christ is there salvation. No apology need be made for this exclusive claim for Christ. For this reason the Assemblies of God disavows universalism and the toleration of worldviews that do not require entering the kingdom of God through the narrow gate of the God-man, Jesus Christ.”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topics/gendoct_16_religions.cfm

10) Endtime Revival–Spirit-Led and Spirit-Controlled – “… along with the genuine move of the Spirit often come teachings and practices which, if not discerned and corrected, will turn the genuine move of God into shallow and misguided emotional displays. Within teachings that add to or depart from biblical truth, there is usually a kernel of truth that gets buried under the chaff of human additions and unusual interpretations of Scripture. Though we dare not inadvertently quench the Spirit’s work in changing lives and calling the church back to its first love and passion, we must speak out with words of caution when departure from Scripture threatens the ongoing life and stability of local churches…”

Source: http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_downloads/pp_endtime_revival.pdf

Note – The pdf file listed for item #10 here is an excellent article – it specifically addresses many of the heretical Pentecostal movements today, particularly the New Apostolic Reformation.

There are additional issues the AOG addresses, but you get the idea…

For the complete alphabetical index of AOG positions on doctrines and issues, see:

http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/topic_index.cfm

RECENT INVOLVEMENT OF THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD IN HERESIES, PARTICULARLY THE NAR

All of the following news items seem to contradict the biblically sound guidelines the AG issued in 2000 (as summarized above).

These posts are arranged chronologically:

1) The AG belongs to the Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (formed in 2006), and assisted in preparing the “Holiness Manifesto“, an Emergent/NAR postmillenial document.

2) Apostles, Prophets, and Aberrant Doctrine: Book review of Understanding the Five Fold Ministry (edited by Matthew D. Green), by Holly Pivec, from the Christian Research Journal, Issue 30-01 (2007):

A central teaching of the movement, called “fivefold ministry”—based on Ephesians 4:11–13—is that God has given the church five ongoing governmental offices: those of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Two of those offices, apostles and prophets, have been ignored since the first century, according to the movement’s advocates.

This oversight is the subject of Understanding the Fivefold Ministry, edited by Matthew D. Green (an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God denomination and the managing editor of Ministries Today magazine), with a foreword written by Jack W. Hayford (president of the Foursquare Church International and senior editorial adviser to Ministries Today). More than twenty Pentecostal and charismatic leaders contributed chapters to the book, including C. Peter Wagner (former professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and a leader of NAR, Ted Haggard (former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and former president of the National Association of Evangelicals), and J. Lee Grady (editor of Charisma magazine).

3) The NAR Apostles and Manifest Sons of God Theology: Training the Army of the Lord, by Rachel Tabachnick,  Apr 05, 2011:

Apostle Bobby Torres heads Elijah Generation International which offers the Spiritual Boot Camp featured in the graphic at right.  Like quite a few apostles, Torres has come from the ranks of the Assemblies of God, despite the denomination’s previous rejection of the theology behind the movement.  The Assemblies of God Master’s Commission program for youth teaches prophecy and spiritual warfare of the type found in the New Apostolic Reformation.  In June 2008, Gov. Sarah Palin returned to her home church of over two decades, Wasilla Assembly of God, to deliver the keynote speech at the graduation ceremony of their Master’s Commission program.  The two-hour ceremony ended with the presentation of swords to the graduates. Wasilla AOG has been a revolving door for top apostles and prophets of the movement for many years, including helping to finance Kenyan Thomas Muthee, a star of the first “Transformations” movie.

4) Samuel Rodriguez, the New Apostolic Reformation, and Apostolic Government of the Church, by Rachel Tabachnick, Sep 24, 2011:

Rodriguez is an ordained Assemblies of God minister and spoke at the 2000 World Triennial of the AOG, coincidentally the same year that the AOG’s guidelines against the “deviant teachings” of Latter Rain and the Shepherding movements were restated [I’ve provided summaries of these guidelines previously in this blog].  C. Peter Wagner summarizes these statements in his book Apostles Today: Biblical Government for Biblical Power.

“During the post-World War II phase, their General Council [Assemblies of God] in 1949 decreed that ‘The teaching that the Church is built on the foundation of present-day apostles and prophets’ is ‘erroneous.’ This was reiterated in their General Council of 2000 when the denomination declared that the `teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry’ is a ‘departure from Scripture’ and a ‘deviant teaching.'”

The apostles and prophets disagree with the Assemblies of God statement, including many now inside the AOG and other Pentecostal denominations, and have rapidly advanced their apostolic networks into the churches of these and other denominations.


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(revised 01/18/14)

I want to give a warning here: there are certain Pentecostal movements which are rife with bizarre, occultish, New Age-ish contemplative prayer/ contemplative spirituality practices – as well as many other false teachings and practices.

But first I want to say: I do believe there are Pentecostal churches which are balanced and biblically sound  (relatively speaking). Although, I must admit, today they are very few and far between. In fact, I have attended several of what I considered balanced, biblically sound Assemblies of God churches in years past. (I say “balanced” primarily because they did not push the need for tongues.)

The Assemblies of God denomination has traditionally fallen under the umbrella of Classic Pentecostal denominations. There are three waves of Pentecostalism – Classic Pentecostals (the First Wave), Charismatics (the Second Wave), and the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR (the Third Wave). The “Three Waves” is a classification put forth by C. Peter Wagner.

Unfortunately, from the very beginning of Pentecostalism, there have been more false teachers than biblically sound teachers. This is especially true of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) (a major player in the Third Wave). In a 2005 article, C. Peter Wagner gives a detailed explanation of the bizarre NAR.

Click here for the original article in its entirety:

[Note – we do not support the website which posted this article – the website is anti-Christian.]

Read between the lines, and even in Wagner’s pro-NAR article you will see some of the heresies of the movement. For example, check out these excerpts from Wagner:

1) “My mentor for helping me make a paradigm shift [originally a New Age term] into what I now call the spiritual principles of church growth was John Wimber, founder of the Association of Vineyard Churches and Vineyard Ministries International.  This began my second season of research, focusing first of all on the relationship between supernatural signs and wonders and church growth, then on prayer and spiritual warfare.  This began in the early 1980s and continued to the mid-1990s.” [John Wimber – now there is a false teacher – and Wagner claims him as his mentor…]

2) New Prayer Forms – “Prayer in new apostolic churches has taken forms rarely seen in traditional congregations.  Some of this takes place within the church and some takes place outside the church… A considerable number of new apostolic churches practice concert prayer, in which all the worshipers are praying out loud at the same time, some in a prayer language and some in the vernacular. At times in some churches, each one will begin singing a prayer, creating a loud, harmonious sound not unlike the sound of the medieval Gregorian chant… New apostolic leaders have been among the first to understand and put into practice some of the newer forms of prayer that take place in the community itself, not in the church.  For many, praise marches, prayer walking, prayer journeys and prayer expeditions have become a part of congregational life and ministry…” [In other words, NAR churches practice contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality – which  in previous blogs we have explained are actually occult/New Age-ish.]

3) New Power Orientation – “The majority of the new apostolic churches not only believe in the work of the Holy Spirit, but they also regularly invite Him to come into their midst to bring supernatural power.  It is commonplace, therefore, to observe active ministries of healing, demonic deliverance, spiritual warfare, prophecy, failing in the Spirit, spiritual mapping, prophetic acts, fervent intercession and travail, and so on in new apostolic churches.” [Not to mention the latest bizarre practices, such as soaking prayer, which is its extreme form is a “gateway” to dreams, visions, trances, angelic visitations, and third heaven visitations – ala Todd Bentley, Bob Jones, etc.]

And these are just a few of the false teachings of  the NAR. Bottom line – warn everyone you know to stay away from the NAR.

As far as C. Peter Wagner himself, I question whether he is even a born again Christian. As well as the beliefs mentioned above, he holds to “open theism” – that God does not know the future (see Chapter 4 of this book, viewable online). And Wikipedia lists Wagner here as a former professor at the very liberal Fuller Theological Seminary.

FOR FURTHER READING

Wikipedia article on C. Peter Wagner (may or may not be accurate)

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Regarding Spiritual Formation, I must admit that I do know various people who are into it, who seem fairly orthodox/biblical otherwise. The danger, according to numerous discernment ministries, is that the core of Spiritual Formation is contemplative spirituality (also called contemplative prayer). And contemplative spirituality is made up of many different levels. Someone can start out at a level which appears to be “normal prayer”, then begin exploring numerous “deeper” levels of practices which are more dangerous.

I have never seen any biblical guidelines put forth by teachers of Spiritual Formation, explaining where to draw the line between what is biblical and what is dangerous.  Quite the contrary. Recently, on Spiritual Formation pioneer Richard Foster’s own website (www.renovare.us), there was a statement worded something like this: “We encourage you to explore contemplative practices from other  faith traditions [i.e. other world religions].” Scary stuff!

Few if any articles favoring Spiritual Formation will mention its dangerous aspects.

Now for some links:

1) Here is an article on its dangers, from Lighthouse Trails, one of the most thorough discernment websites critiquing Spiritual Formation:

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=695&zoom_highlight=spiritual+formation

2) An article on Foster et al, from another go-to discernment website for info on Spiritual Formation – Apprising Ministries:

http://apprising.org/2010/07/26/the-inward-journey-of-contemplativecentering-prayer/

3) Here is a blog I wrote that discusses its dangers. Actually, most of my blog quotes from a far longer article. Here’s my link:

https://davemosher.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/what-is-spiritual-formation-and-why-is-it-so-dangerous/

4) Now check out Richard Foster’s website, http://www.renovare.us. The website presents a number of principles of Spiritual Formation. For example, the following article describes various disciplines including Meditation:

http://www.renovare.us/SPIRITUALRENEWAL/PracticingLikeJesus/WhyPracticeLikeJesus/tabid/2518/Default.aspx

Foster has claimed elsewhere to be an “evangelical” Quaker. Yet reading between the lines here, it seems pretty obvious to me that Foster is extremely liberal. Plus, he endorses the interfaith movement (and practices from Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.):

And this is just scratching the surface of the dangers in Spiritual Formation.

For those who are still skeptical, take a look at the Nazarene Church denomination. It seems that of all evangelical denominations, this denomination is perhaps the most deeply ensnared in Spiritual Formation.  In recent years, the denomination has become dominated – even headed –  by individuals endorsing Spiritual Formation (and all its dangerous practices). And the denomination is literally being torn apart – countless concerned members and their families are leaving in search of denominations which are still biblical.  Check out this article (you will notice that Spiritual Formation is intrinsically tied with the Emerging Church movement):

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/nazarene-denomination-losing-its-way/

Bottom line – stay away from Spiritual Formation. It is impossible to separate its “safe” aspects from its dangerous contemplative prayer/contemplative spirituality practices.

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