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Archive for February, 2012

More and more Protestant churches are practicing Ash Wednesday. Why?

The postmodern (Emerging, Emergent and Emergence) movements are growing by leaps and bounds within the Protestant denominations. Many postmodern Protestant denominations (mainline/liberal as well as evangelical) are getting increasingly involved in Spiritual Formation (which quotes many Catholic mystics), as well as Ash Wednesday, Lent, Advent, and other liturgical “holy days” first practiced in Roman Catholicism.

My point is, more and more Protestant churches are “giving in” to Catholic teachings and practices, not vice versa. Which brings us to the five solas. Protestant church leaders, who have traditionally held to the five solas, are presenting more and more practices from Catholicism, which does not hold to the five solas. As a Protestant who believes the five solas are the true teachings of God’s Word, I find this very troubling.

Here is a helpful Wikipedia article, which mentions the various Protestant views of the five solas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_solas

Now on to a discussion of Ash Wednesday itself.  Regarding Ash Wednesday and Lent as times for true repentance, there are certainly many Catholics (and Protestants) who do not truly repent during these times. Why else the huge popularity of Mardi Gras the day before Ash Wednesday? In fact, there is an entire Catholic “Carnival” period between Christmas and Ash Wednesday: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/mardigras/ In light of this, it seems to me many Catholics are not truly repentant during Ash Wednesday and Lent – they are just playing church and/or trying to get to Heaven by “good works” and abstaining during Ash Wednesday and Lent.

I came across an excellent article by Craig Portwood exposing the pagan origin of Ash Wednesday.  Click here for the original text of this article. In my repost below, I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

“The pagan origin of Ash Wednesday”
by Craig Portwood

It’s not mentioned in the Bible. None of the apostles observed it. Nowhere are Christians commanded to keep it. It was not even officially practiced until nearly 1000 years after Christ’s resurrection. Like so many other non-biblical “Christian” customs, it has pagan roots. It’s a sad fact that modern Christianity has appropriated so many customs from the practice of the heathens, that one might wonder if it should still be called Christianity.

The early Pagan origins of Ash Wednesday

[The following drawing may appear irreverent, but I am including it anyway  to illustrate how unbiblical the practice of Ash Wednesday is. Throughout the Old Testament, God condemned Israel for borrowing a number of  “trivial” pagan practices from its neighbors. I believe our sinless Lord Jesus, knowing the pagan origin of “ashes on the forehead,” would have refused to take part in this sinful practice.]

This ritual “imposition of the ashes” is purportedly in imitation of the repentant act of covering oneself in dust and ashes. The marking of believers on Ash Wednesday is done in combination of another extra-biblical routine called “Lent.” Despite Christ’s command to his followers to abstain from the practice of disfiguring their faces during fasting, it has become a regular practice. He also told us to wash our faces during a fast.

The practice of putting ashes on one’s forehead has been known from ancient times. In the Nordic pagan religion, placing ashes above one’s brow was believed to ensure the protection of the Norse god, Odin. This practice spread to Europe during the Vikings conquests. This laying on of ashes was done on Wednesday, the day named for Odin, Odin’s Day. Interestingly enough, according to Wikipedia, one of Odin’s names is Ygg. The same is Norse for the World Ash. This name Ygg, closely resembles the Vedic name Agni in pronunciation.

The Norse practice which has become known as Ash Wednesday was itself, drawn from the Vedic Indian religion. Ashes were believed to be the seed Agni , the Indian fire god. It is from this name that the Latins used for fire, ignis. It is from this root word that the English language got the words, ignite, igneous and ignition. Agni was said to have the authority to forgive sins. Ashes were also believed to be symbolic for the purifying blood of the Vedic god Shiva, which it is said had the power to cleanse sins.

Lent

Lent is a period of 40 days preceding the observance of Easter, where the observers are expected to fast or cease from having the use of some other “luxury.” Like the majority of modern, so-called Christian practices, its beginning can be traced to heathen practices.
In his book The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop observed:

Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the ‘sacred fast’ or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, ‘went down to Egypt for help’ to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate church, and who could find no more excellent way to ‘revive’ it, than by borrowing from so polluted a source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the early Christian writers had held up to scorn. That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil; it showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil; it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the carnival, was entirely unknown….

In the early 19th century, German explorer Alexander von Humboldt noted the practice among the pagans in Mexico, being held in the spring. His account states:

Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.

A Lent of forty days was also commemorated in Egypt. According to by English scholar John Landseer, in his Sabean Researches (1823), an Egyptian Lent of forty days was held in honor of Osiris.

There is a spiritual signature which bears witness to the spirit of these traditions. It is called Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It is the custom of living it up to get our fill of all the enjoyment the world has to offer before setting off to “Church” in mock repentance on Ash Wednesday. Such celebrations are an indication of the spirit behind the facade.

[Click here for the Wikipedia article on Ash Wednesday. And click here for the Wikipedia article on Mardi Gras, which includes a description of the “Carnival” time period between Christmas and Mardi Gras.]

The Truth

Christ made it plain in John 4:23-24:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

To be sure, those who observe modern “Christian” practices are religious. They may have personal conviction, but they are missing a vital element of the faith. They are lacking truth.

Mark 7:7

Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

The Bible tells us in chapter 9 of the book of Hebrews, that we are made clean by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. No amount of ritual or work of the hand of man can accomplish this.

1st Peter 1:13-16 tells us:

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

The word holy means set apart, different from the rest. If we keep traditions which are not of God, how can we be holy? From what then are we different if we do as they do?

Not everyone has the conviction nor the courage to be set apart from the rest of the world. The sad truth is that mainstream Christianity lost her way, having fallen into apostasy long ago. This apostate tradition is continued by priests, pastors and preachers, ordained not by God in the power of the Holy Spirit, but by men in the spirit of the world.

And their followers wouldn’t have it any other way.

© 2010 Craig Portwood

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(blog under construction – I’m still adding links at the bottom of this blog, under the section “For Further Reading”).

Just recently I learned about the Alpha Course, even though it has been around for years. Like so many “Christian” teachings nowadays, the Alpha Course is full of heretical concepts. Specifically, the Alpha Course is propogating the teaching of bizarre Third Wave Pentecostalism (the New Apostolic Reformation).

I came across an excellent critique of the Alpha Course by Elizabeth McDonald.
I have reposted the entire article below.  Click here for the original text of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

ALPHA: New Life or New Lifestyle?
by Elizabeth McDonald

This is the (fully revised) text of a booklet I wrote on the Alpha Course in 1995/6. Although my assessment was performed on the original video talks, the essential points I made still apply – especially given that HTB insists Alpha’s doctrine never changes.

Jo Gardner, in the Preface to that booklet, wrote:

“…Nicky Gumbel over-emphasises what we are saved to at the expense of what we are saved from. This imbalance is a general trend in ‘new’ evangelical circles at present and seems to be increasing in prominence … It stems from teaching that God is primarily love when the scriptures point to the primary characteristic of God as being holy … The result of emphasising God’s love is that the need of repentance for sin and the consequences of that sin in the sight of a holy God who must, and will, judge it is hardly mentioned.

“Christians are being presented with a deficient … understanding of God and the basis of our relationship with Him. I am convinced that there are now many in the churches who believe they are Christians but are not, because they have never truly repented of sin and become dependent on Jesus Christ both as Saviour and Lord. The result is a church which is in many respects no different to the world and is also wide open to receive every deceptive teaching and activity presented to it.”

——————

The Alpha Initiative is the most popular evangelistic programme in use in Britain’s churches at present. Alpha’s publications manager advises everyone “to do the course exactly as we’ve laid out for the first time – because we know it works” [Mark Elsdon-Dew, Christian Herald, 9/Dec/1995, p2]. At first glance this advice seems well and good, but in fact a purely pragmatic approach to spiritual things is not scriptural and can even be very dangerous…

I do agree that “the natural desire of every Christian is to see souls saved”, but I would also ‘amen’ this same writer’s following statement that “at the same time we cannot simply close our eyes to all evangelistic outreaches trusting that they are Biblically sound. There are two questions we must ask: What is the ultimate aim, and what kind of gospel will be preached?” [Tricia Tillin, Networking: A Global Vision, Mainstream, Winter 1993, p3]. Referring to Matthew 23:15, Robert Bowman of the CRI (an evangelical discernment ministry) writes: “The Pharisees were extremely zealous in missionary work, but all they succeeded in doing was leading more people into their error. Zeal in witnessing or evangelising does not indicate that a religious group is God’s people” [Orthodoxy and Heresy: A Guide to Doctrinal Discernment, 1993, p25]. Today we might apply that to Jehovah’s Witnesses for example.

Alpha certainly starts by making many gospel statements.  However, as the course progresses, some of the talks tend to wander off into (a) lengthy accounts of Holy Trinity Brompton’s experiences of the Toronto Blessing and associated ministries, (b) novel exegeses of various Bible passages common amongst pro-Toronto preachers, (c) calls for unity despite truth, and (d) an over-emphasis on the Holy Spirit. All of these are less than helpful to potential Christians.

I

Alpha’s Connection with the Toronto Blessing

The Alpha Course has been used at HTB since 1977 yet was virtually unknown elsewhere until Eleanor Mumford of the South-West London Vineyard church brought the Blessing back from the Toronto Airport Vineyard church in Canada to HTB, via Nicky Gumbel, in May 1994.1 In Talk 9, Gumbel spends a substantial amount of time relating to Alpha participants exactly how it occurred:

“We went to their house … where a group of leaders of their church was meeting … Ellie Mumford told us a little bit of what she had seen in Toronto … it was obvious that Ellie was just dying to pray for all of us … then she said ‘Now we’ll invite the Holy Spirit to come’ and the moment she said that, one of the people there was thrown, literally, across the room and was lying on the floor, just howling and laughing … making the most incredible noise … I experienced the power of the Spirit in a way I hadn’t experienced for years, like massive electricity going through my body … One of the guys was prophesying. He was just lying there prophesying…” Gumbel returned to HTB where he apologised for being late for a meeting due to what had happened. Asked to close this meeting in prayer he says “I prayed ‘Lord, thank you so much for all you are doing and we pray you’ll send your Spirit’ and I was just about to say ‘in Jesus name, Amen’ and go out the door when the Spirit came on the people who were in the room. One of them started laughing like a hyena…”

There are a few observations to make here. The first is the unquestioning acceptance by both groups of such manifestations. Similarly, the invocation of the Spirit was not queried. Secondly, I think it is pertinent to note that the Spirit came before the name of Jesus could be brought into the prayer. Thirdly, if one chap really was prophesying, then he was speaking directly to these people from God and his words should have been heeded, tested, and applied. But it seems they were completely ignored.

Later on in this account, and in Talk 7, Gumbel compares the behaviour of these Toronto recipients (as do all Toronto leaders) to the ‘drunken’ behaviour of the apostles on the day of Pentecost. He says “they [the apostles] looked as though they were drunk; some of the manifestations were the same as that of a drunkard”. Although this exegesis is a convenient explanation of the ‘spiritual drunkenness’ being seen at TB meetings, it is not the Biblical one, and has not been preached as such until now. The vast majority of the crowd were “amazed” and “confounded” not because the apostles were showing “all the signs of inebriation” (Talk 7), and which the passage itself nowhere says, but because we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:6-12). The crowd formed because of the sound of these tongues (v6) which were clear and easily understood. It was only a minority who accused the apostles of being “full of new wine” (v13), and there is no indication in the passage that, of such a large crowd, their’s was the considered judgment.

The result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was a lengthy and powerful sermon that brought approximately 3000 people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ almost immediately. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not given that we may lie on the floor on our backs with our feet in the air laughing like hyenas (Talk 9). Gumbel’s description of the antics that went on in the vestry of HTB after their invocation of the Spirit seems to me to bear no resemblance at all to what happened on the day of Pentecost.2

Yet Alpha participants are being taught all this, as part of an evangelistic / Christian Living course, as though it is normal and desirable, with absolutely no mention made of the need to test it; and at the end of this talk they are prayed for, corporately, to receive it. Thus they are initiated into the Toronto Blessing without a whimper of protest amongst them.

“I believe it is no coincidence that the present movement of the Holy Spirit [i.e. the TB] has come at the same time as the explosion of the Alpha Courses. I think the two go together” [Nicky Gumbel, The Spirit and Evangelism, Renewal, May 1995, p15].

A. PROBLEMS WITH THE TORONTO BLESSING

1. The Blessing itself as experienced in meetings

Originated with Rodney Howard-Browne the ‘Holy Ghost Bartender’.3

a) The nature of the blessing is experiential not Word-based, soulish not spiritual, ultimately self-seeking not God-seeking.4

b) The focus of worship is removed from the Father and the Son and placed instead on the Holy Spirit, contrary to John 14:26; 15:26; and 16:13-15. This is paralleled in the New Age movement’s emphasis on the “coming of the Age of the Spirit (Aquarius) and consequently the demise of the Age of the Son (Pisces) and all who follow him” [David Forbes, Prophecy Today, Nov/Dec 1994, p12].5

c) There is an over-emphasis on the power and – selective – gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues, words of knowledge and prophecies [which are never tested against Scripture, e.g. as per 1 Cor. 14:29], and healing). The gift of discerning of spirits is noticeable by its absence.

d) The fruit of the Holy Spirit is seen to be tangible ‘feelings’ of love for Jesus etc as produced by these experiences, rather than the life-long sanctification by the Word which is based on faith, not sight.6 Once these ‘feelings’ wear off, the believer returns for a top-up. LSD works the same way.

e) The un-Biblical practice of invoking the Holy Spirit: “If worshippers call out for the Spirit to descend upon them, the response may come from anywhere in the spirit world. The manifestations may well be spectacular, but counterfeit” [Clifford Hill, Prophecy Today, Sep/Oct 1994, p12].7

f) Many of the experiences / manifestations have no scriptural backing – except in the negative, and are more comparable with the works of the spirits of Eastern Mysticism and other unhealthy spirits than with the works of the Holy Spirit of God.8 Describing his visit to the Toronto Airport Vineyard church, David Noakes says “The ‘Toronto twitch’, for example, is explained as a power surge from the Holy Spirit. But Jesus did not go around having sudden power surges He couldn’t control [and nor did His disciples!] … many of the jerkings I saw in Toronto I would identify as being due to the spirits of voodoo. Some are due to spirits of martial arts. Some are due to spirits of lust. I would have no hesitation in declaring that animal noises do not come from the Holy Spirit. I have seen far too much of people manifesting animal noises and being delivered from the spirits of those very animals they are imitating” [David Noakes, Dealing with Poison in the Pot, audio tape CFCM 95/04, Jan 1995, side 1].

2. Theology underlying the Toronto Blessing

The Latter-Rain Movement.

Essentially, this is a ‘Christianised’ form of the secular theory of evolution which, beginning with the physical evolution of man from primitive life-forms, will culminate, so we are told, in the spiritual evolution of man into gods. This will supposedly be achieved through man’s realisation of his ‘Christ consciousness’ or the ‘Christ within’ which, the New Age gurus tell us, is now beginning to occur as we move from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. The whole thing is, of course, the belief in the lie which Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:4-5), yet it is finding its way into the Christian Church through the Latter-Rain movement’s teaching on the ‘Manifest-Sons-of-God’, and the Word-of-Faith teaching on the ‘deification of man’. The Latter-Rain worldview also incorporates the closely interrelated doctrines of: Kingdom-Now, Dominionism and Restorationism. These teachings are post-millennial and Triumphalist (i.e. they replace the Lord Jesus with the Church) and include within them Replacement theology, which is a subtle form of anti-semitism.9

Latter-Rain doctrine was rejected as a heresy by the Assemblies of God in the 1950s, though accepted by other Pentecostal leaders such as William Branham (who was a direct influence on Paul Cain of the Kansas City Prophets), Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin (the so-called ‘father’ of the Word-of-Faith movement), and three out of the ‘Fort Lauderdale Five’ who for many years published the widely read magazine New Wine. Having bubbled along underground for a number of years, Latter-Rain teachings have now resurfaced in various forms in many Charismatic churches on both sides of the Atlantic – in particular the Vineyard group of churches.

The Kansas City Prophets are based at the Metro Vineyard church, the pastor of which is Mike Bickle whose recommendation of the Alpha Initiative can be seen in various editions of HTB in Focus: Alpha News, e.g. Aug 1995, p3.10

The comment made by Sandy Millar at the beginning of Video I – “Is it possible to attract people to the Christian faith today, in the sort of numbers that we need?” raises the question: “need” for what? Every unbeliever needs personal salvation, that is why the gospel is preached. But Sandy Millar did not say that. The paragraph of which that comment is a part concentrates on the Church’s need for members; for “new growth and new life” of the Church. Revival of the Church would be wonderful, but Scripture actually tells us that the opposite will happen before the return of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 24:7-13; 2 Thess. 2:3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4 etc).11 However, Restorationist / Kingdom-Now theology needs vast numbers of Christians so that the Church – united, militant and triumphant – can bring about God’s Kingdom on earth and then hand it over, restored to its Edenic state, to Jesus at His coming. Obviously that is a violent distortion of, amongst other scriptures, Acts 3:21. Nevertheless it is an eschatology being taught and believed in many Charismatic Fellowships today. Corporate, not individual, repentance is necessary to achieve the numbers required to form “God’s endtime army that will march through the land to victory”; the ultimate aim of evangelism being “the establishing of the Kingdom of God apart from Christ’s return” [Mainstream, Summer 1994, p8].

So one of my concerns is whether the TB, which is being experienced at HTB, can possibly be divorced from the Alpha Initiative. In view of the similarities of emphasis and content between the two, I’m not sure that it can. Consequently I am concerned that, in using the Alpha course, churches may inadvertently be introducing participants to the TB (along with all that this it is a forerunner of) by the back door.12

[It is worthy of note that, on 5th December 1995 (i.e. after almost two years of the TB being spread around the globe), the board of the Association of Vineyard churches removed the Toronto Airport Vineyard church (TAV) from the Vineyard organisation. John Wimber (Vineyard’s late leader) said he felt that “the leaders of TAV have strong convictions which could not be reconciled with Vineyard values and the pastoral leadership and correction coming from the Vineyard Board”. However, another possibility is that, since the TB was by that time being widely dispensed from Pensacola, Vineyard would make itself appear less extreme if it distanced itself from the progenitor. This had the added ‘bonus’ of encouraging many of TB’s doubters to accept Pensacola as a reasonable alternative.]13

In common with the leadership of the Toronto Blessing, Alpha also promotes “unity” between Protestants and Roman Catholics, with no consideration of the irreconcilable doctrines of the two Churches. Thus another major concern is Alpha’s trend towards Ecumenism.

II

Power Evangelism

“Where evangelism is integrally related to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit” [Nicky Gumbel, Telling Others: The Alpha Initiative, p20].

Heavily influenced by the ‘Signs and Wonders’ ministry of John Wimber in the 1980s, power evangelism has been one of the preparation grounds for the Toronto Experience. It focuses on a pragmatic / experiential rather than a proclamatory / doctrinal approach to spreading the gospel. As such it tends to shift the focus away from the shed blood of Jesus on the cross and onto the supernatural works of the Holy Spirit carried out by men. This is the method of evangelism favoured by Alpha [see Telling Others, pp21-24; 29-31].

Dave Hunt, of Berean Call Ministries in America, has wisely written of power evangelism: “The over-emphasis upon and obsessive seeking after the power of the Spirit has caused many to forget that He is the ‘Spirit of truth’ who leads us into ‘all truth’, and the ‘Holy Spirit’ who purifies our lives to God’s glory … The power that is manifested in miracles is more highly regarded than the power of truth to change hearts and deliver from bondage to sin … Sound doctrine loses its importance, while experiences are eagerly cultivated and made the basis for understanding God’s will and even for interpreting His word … In contrast … Paul declared that ‘the power’ is in the preaching of the cross (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18; Acts 14:1) … When Christians are more impressed with ‘miracles’ and ‘results’ than with adherence to sound doctrine the church is in serious trouble … We too often fail to make certain that those who are called upon ‘to decide for Christ’ fully understand the decision they are being asked to make … The emphasis throughout Scripture, and to which the church must return today, is clearly placed upon truth and understanding (1 John 5:20,21; John 8:43-45)” [Dave Hunt, Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity, 1987, pp77, 78, 238, 257].14

III

Alpha and the New Age

All of this heightened interest amongst Charismatic Christians in ‘Signs and Wonders’ and the supernatural experiences of the Toronto Blessing is a reflection of spiritual and cultural changes going on outside Christianity, of which New Age experiential mysticism is a predominant force.

Nicky Gumbel is aware of the paradigm shift from reason to experience: “In the Enlightenment, reason ruled supreme and explanation led to experience. In the present transitional culture, with its ‘pick-and-mix’ worldview in which the New Age movement is a potent strand, experiences lead to explanation” [Telling Others, p19].

Neo-mysticism is already so pervasive that virtually every non-Christian participant of Alpha – or any other evangelistic initiative – will to some degree reflect New Age thinking. In New Age philosophy, “experiences lead to explanation”; but in Christianity, “If experience becomes relevant in certain areas it becomes relevant in applying the Word” [David Noakes, Dealing with Poison in the Pot, side 1]. Yet, like the Toronto Experience, the thrust of Alpha is towards the experiential and away from the written Word.

One pastor who has made use of the Alpha Course writes: “One of the problems of proclaiming the gospel in a post-modern world is that culture itself warms much more readily to lifestyle than to doctrine. But the Christian lifestyle is not Christian faith … I have a suspicion that some of those people are being converted to a Christian lifestyle rather than to Christ” [Ian Lewis, The Alpha Course, Evangelicals Now, Dec 1995].

The two ‘testimonies’ given by Alpha participants at the beginning of the first Alpha video are prime examples of the above. There are certain basic elements one would expect to hear in a classic conversion testimony: The conviction of sin leading to repentance; the subsequent assurance of God’s forgiveness; and salvation through the death on the cross of Jesus Christ. Yet these are absent in any form in these ‘testimonies’. As for the “new creation” of which Paul speaks in 2 Cor. 5:17, the good news would seem to be that there isn’t one. Before she became a Christian, one of the participants recalls that she didn’t want a personality change; she was happy with her life and saw no reason for change: “I now realise that my personality hasn’t changed at all, but I feel that what has happened, I’m actually getting more out of what I already had there, and I think that’s really God’s work doing that”.

A relationship with God is sometimes referred to, as is the discovery of prayer, an interest in Bible reading, in church-going, in Christianity, and what Alpha has done for them. However, Jesus and what He has done for them, and a personal relationship with Him are not mentioned at all. Yet the Lord Jesus is the gospel. He is salvation. He is their new life. These things being so, how can He possibly be so completely overlooked in a basic conversion testimony? Adherents of false religions claim a relationship with God, and a prayer life, but they are not saved. Many churchgoers read their Bibles and have an interest in church and in Christianity, but they are not saved. Likewise, more compassion / understanding at work, more patience, tolerance, confidence, and deep feelings of contentment can equally well be produced by a sense of psychological well-being. Without the cross they do not constitute salvation. The attempt by Gumbel to bring Jesus into the testimonies by asking exactly what had made these differences was met with a blank look and the response: “Just the relationship that I’ve developed with God. Simple as that”.

These testimonies seemed to me, as Ian Lewis suggests, only evidence of conversion to a Christian lifestyle, not to Christ. And when the “Christian lifestyle” is an endless round of ‘blessings’, supernatural ‘experiences’, spiritual ‘parties’ [see Talk 14] and ‘play’ times,15 none of which is noticeably different from non-Christian spiritual experiences, then the transition from the counterfeit spirituality of the New Age to Christianity is really only one of degree, not kind. That being so, I would echo the question of one evangelical minister who asked: “What is it they are converted to?”

IV

Evangelism or Christian Living?

“Scripture tells us that salvation comes through hearing the gospel, and I would expect any course aimed at non-Christians to concentrate primarily on the facts of the gospel. The Alpha course deals with the basics of the gospel in two sessions … While these are unequivocally gospel presentations, the remainder of the course deals essentially with what may be described as Christian living … When we used an adapted version of the course in our church, non-Christians were left behind by about the sixth week. They still had very fundamental questions about what Christians believe, which were not answered by talking about how Christians live, and for this reason the course seemed more suited to people who have already made a commitment to Christ” [Ian Lewis, Evangelicals Now, Dec 1995].

In his introduction to the Alpha videos, Sandy Millar recognises that “most people need time in which to consider the most important claims they have ever had to face”. It is ironic then that time is not given to Alpha participants in which to consider the person and work of Jesus Christ before they are rushed into the rest of the course.

A. THE HOLY SPIRIT WEEKEND

White Alpha training manual pp26-36, Talks 7-9

“For a long time in the church the person and work of the Holy Spirit has been ignored. There has been a greater concentration on the Father and the Son” [p26].

“We live in the age of the Spirit” [p29].

These statements are misleading. Firstly, since an unbeliever or new Christian would not know the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Father and the Son, the statements effectively marginalise the first two sessions on the Person and work of the Lord Jesus and serve to prepare the participant to accept unquestioningly anything that may occur during the weekend. Secondly, Christians have always referred to the period of time between the first and second advents as the age of Grace, or the Church age. That has not changed. Why then encourage, in today’s precarious spiritual climate, the New Age concept of the Age of Aquarius (the spirit)?

Continuing his observations on the New Age, Nicky Gumbel writes: “I have found on Alpha that those from an essentially enlightened background feel at home with the parts of the course which appeal to the mind, but often have difficulty in experiencing the Holy Spirit. Others coming from the New Age movement find that rational and historical explanations leave them cold, but at the weekend away they are on more familiar territory in experiencing the Holy Spirit” [Telling Others, p19].

But it is the “rational and historical explanations” of sessions 1 and 2 which are the essence of the gospel (Acts 2:22-41; 6:9-7:60; 8:26-38; 17:16-33) and which the unbeliever must grasp and accept with his mind, under the convicting and illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, if he is to repent and experience salvation in his heart (Rom. 10:13-14). Moreover, it is by the renewing of his mind that the Christian is transformed and made holy (Rom. 12:1,2; see also Psa. 19:7-11), and without holiness he will not see God (Heb. 12:14).

Nevertheless: “At the end of the course I send out questionnaires … if there is a change I ask when that change occurred. For many, the decisive moment is the Saturday evening of the weekend” [Telling Others, p120]. This is the time when Gumbel invites the Holy Spirit to come and participants are filled with the Spirit [see Telling Others, pp117, 120, 123; Blue Alpha training manual, p18].

I find this extremely worrying. The “decisive moment” should surely be the point at which a person steps over from eternal death to eternal life through the conversion experience (John 3:16; 5:24; Rom. 10:9,10,13; and other refs). But most of the testimonies in Telling Others seem to confuse the experience of conversion with the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit.

But is this surprising when Gumbel himself seems to treat conversion as a preliminary to the main event? The breath of new life into a repentant sinner is taught in Talk 7, but Gumbel does not make it clear that this happens at conversion (2 Cor. 5:17). Rather, he suggests this is due to a second experience: the baptism in the Spirit. References to Isaiah 61:1-3 and to Samson’s freedom “from the ropes that bound him”, for example, are applied to the Holy Spirit despite the fact that in Luke 4:16-21 Jesus is quoting the Isaiah passage with reference to Himself. It is the shed blood of the Lord Jesus that frees us from the things that bind us (John 8:32-36; Gal. 5:1; Rev. 1:5). Likewise, in discussing Paul’s conversion in Talk 9, the emphasis is placed not on Paul’s meeting with Jesus Christ but on his subsequent baptism in the Spirit.

On preparing participants for baptism in the Holy Spirit, leaders are advised to “take time to sort out difficulties of understanding, belief and assurance; lead to Christ” [Blue Alpha training manual, p17; Telling Others, pp116-120]. To say that to be unsaved is a “difficulty of understanding, belief and assurance” is, I would suggest, an understatement of some magnitude! Coupled with the un-Biblical practice of invoking the Holy Spirit at this point in the course, it is necessary to ask whether it truly is the baptism in the Holy Spirit these participants are experiencing. The ramifications, if it is not, are obvious and terrible.16

The following testimony is an alarming example of the confusion between conversion and baptism in the Holy Spirit, but it is by no means the only one:

“[M]y wife encouraged me to read an article in a magazine about the Alpha course at HTB. What had stuck in my mind was how the work of the Holy Spirit was described as of paramount importance. I knew in my heart I had to have his power in my life at any cost. So I … enrolled on the course and focused on the weekend where the work of the Holy Spirit is discussed … Never mind the weeks of pre-med, I just had to get into the operating theatre … I looked at the order of play, saw that the third session on ‘How can I be filled with the Spirit’ (which I identified as the main one) was at 4:30pm and simply hung on like a marathon runner weaving his way up the finishing straight with nothing but the finishing tape as the focus of his attention … the prize was so near but we were getting there so slowly. I literally wanted to scream out ’Do it now! Do it now! I can’t hold out any longer’. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was in agony. Then Nicky Gumbel invited the Spirit to come and oh, the relief…” [Interview in Renewal, Oct 1995, p16; Telling Others, pp36-37].

Once that startling testimony sinks in, a few things become apparent: Firstly, as with the testimonies on the video, even the basic elements of a conversion testimony are missing. In fact the gospel of Christ is referred to here as “pre-med” in which, the participant plainly states, he had no interest. (The “prize” was not considered to be salvation but this other experience. Another example of the Alpha spirit falling on the unsaved?) Secondly, not only did Nicky Gumbel not seek to correct the focus of this participant from the Holy Spirit onto the Lord Jesus where it rightly belongs, and ensure he had actually been saved, but he also gave the testimony a prominent place in Telling Others as a witness and example to others. (Incidentally, Dominionism and Triumphalism are evident in the last three paragraphs of the full testimony as given in Renewal [p17]. This participant is now a helper on Alpha courses at HTB.)

In Talk 8, Gumbel says “When we come to Christ the first thing the Holy Spirit wants to do is to assure us of that relationship, and that we are totally, totally forgiven”. Although he continues “the Holy Spirit witnesses to our spirit that we are children of God”, all the subsequent examples focus on soulish (i.e. tangible) feelings and experiences. The testimony at the beginning of Video I, in which “a sensation of energy … as if I had 5000 volts thrashing through my body” is seen to be the Holy Spirit’s assurance of salvation, is only one example of the results of such teaching. Experiences of this kind can be, and are, produced by any spirit wanting access to a believer’s life. I am not convinced they come from the Holy Spirit.

The misuse of Ephesians 5:18-20 and Revelation 22:17 in Talk 8, in order to initiate Alpha participants into the TB, is inexcusable. In the Ephesians passage, Paul is not commanding the believers to experience a second Pentecost, but is rebuking them for behaving like pagans and unbelievers. Verse 18 is a contrast not a comparison between the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit and the fruit produced by the sinful nature. It is a call by Paul, not for baptism (i.e. empowerment for building up the Church) but for sanctification, for some evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives which at that point was seriously lacking.

The passage in Revelation has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Pentecost (the Holy Spirit is hardly going to invoke Himself) and everything to do with the physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the age.

Though the prayer at the close of these talks includes repentance, the gospel talks are not, at this point, uppermost in participants minds, and the corporate request “inviting the Holy Spirit to come and fill us” is then made by all in the room.

The content of these three talks overlaps to such an extent that they could quite easily have been combined into one address. In fact each aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work could have been included in the relevant sections of the other talks. The Spirit’s conviction of sin in an unbeliever, for example, fits in with Talks 2 and 3; assurance of salvation in Talk 4; teaching believers the Word in Talk 5; enabling believers to pray in Talk 6; producing fruit and empowering us for certain ministries in Talk 15 and so on.17

Through these talks the focus has thus shifted very definitely from the cross of Christ to the power of the Spirit.

B. HOW CAN I RESIST EVIL?

White Alpha training manual, pp39-45, Talk 10

In section II of this session, Satan’s tactics are listed. He: destroys; blinds eyes; causes doubt; tempts; accuses.

Gumbel applies all of these to the area of Christian behaviour. Deception, the tactic focusing on belief, is omitted. This oversight can be deadly. Deception concerning doctrine is Satan’s most powerful weapon against the Church, and new Christians need to be made aware just how practised Satan is at deceiving Christians through false doctrines and false spiritual experiences.18

When asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His return, the Lord’s first words in response were “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Matt. 24:4, also 24:5, 10-11 & 23-25). A great deal of the content of the letters to the New Testament churches were warnings against being deceived by heresies and false teachers (e.g. 2 Cor. 11:3; Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1-5; 2 Thess. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; 1 John 2:24; 1 John 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11; the list of references is almost endless).

One of the main factors in the unquestioning acceptance of the Toronto Experience is that we believers simply do not realise we are capable of being deceived; that not everything supernatural necessarily comes from God, despite many cases in Scripture where supernatural happenings originate in the occult (see, for example, Exo. 7:11-12; Acts 8:9-11; Acts 16:16-18; Rev. 13:1-3, 11-15).

Nicky Gumbel points out in this talk that occult activity “always comes under the guise of something good”. The Toronto Blessing is seen as “something good”. How strange then that neither he nor anyone else at HTB thought to test the Toronto spirit before accepting it and then passing it on to everyone else.19

A solid grounding in essential doctrine, the cultivation of the Berean spirit (Acts 17:11) and a familiarity with eschatology are vital in combating deception in these last days. None of these is experiential. All of them require application of the mind. All of them have been in short supply in the Charismatic movement to date.

C. HOW DOES GOD GUIDE US?

White Alpha training manual, pp46-51, Talk 11

The “Guiding Spirit” and “more unusual ways” of guidance referred to in this talk, especially guidance by angels, need thorough testing against Scripture in today’s religious climate in which false prophets and occult ‘spirit guides’, masquerading as angels of light, abound.

For millennia, spiritists have been mediums for familiar spirits and divining spirits. Now, as New Agers are regarding themselves as ‘channellers’ for their ‘spirit guides’, so too there is an alarming trend emerging amongst experience-orientated Christians, mainly in America, to talk of their ‘angel guides’.20

A testimony in HTB in Focus, Alpha News, Aug 1995, in which Jesus is referred to as “a guiding light” (p14), is just an inkling of what may be to come.

D. WHY AND HOW SHOULD WE TELL OTHERS?

White Alpha training manual, pp52-57, Talk 12

See comments in II Power Evangelism above.

E. DOES GOD HEAL TODAY?

White Alpha training manual, pp58-62, Talk 13

During this talk, Nicky Gumbel tells Alpha participants of the visit by John Wimber, and some of Wimber’s helpers, to HTB in 1982 to demonstrate God’s power to heal. He says: “John Wimber then said ‘We’ve had words of knowledge’. These are supernatural revelations, things that they couldn’t have known otherwise about the conditions of people in the room … specific details were given, accurately describing the conditions … as the list was responded to, the level of faith in the room was rising”. Gumbel says that he still felt “cynical and hostile” until the following evening when he was prayed for: “So they prayed for the Spirit to come … I felt something like 10,000 volts going through my body … The American [on Wimber’s team] had a fairly limited prayer. He just said ’more power’ … it was the only thing he ever prayed. I can’t remember him ever praying anything else … Now we’ve seen many kinds of these manifestations of the Spirit on the weekends … these manifestations … and the physical healings themselves are not the important thing … the fruit of the Spirit … these are the things that matter, the fruit that comes from these experiences. So we began to realise that God heals miraculously…”

Bearing in mind that his warning in Talk 10 – about occult activity disguising itself as something good – used healing as an example, it is surprising that Gumbel gives no indication here that he or anyone else attending the meeting tested the phenomena (or those bringing it) to ensure that everything came from the Holy Spirit. Gumbel surely knows that, like healings, words of knowledge and prophecies can also come from an occult source. That they are factual or come to pass does not prove their source is God. They could equally well come from a spirit of divination (see Acts 16:16-19), and if they do, they and the person uttering them must be rejected (see Deut. 13:1-11). I am not saying that this is necessarily the case here, but everything claiming supernatural origin must be tested, no matter how renowned the person producing them might be. The fact that the “level of faith” rose in response to the accuracy of the words given merely indicates the extent of the gullibility of the congregation, not the source of the words, or the healings which may have followed.

To hear the prayer “more power” so many years before the TB where, along with “more Lord” it has become a kind of mantra, startled me. With no mention of the name of the Lord Jesus, this American gave Gumbel no indication of who he was praying to or what sort of “power” he was praying for. Worse still, Gumbel did not ask him. A prayer of that kind is an open invitation to any spirit to do anything it chooses in the life of the recipient.

And, of course, the fruit of the Holy Spirit does not come from “these experiences” but from the daily sanctification by the Holy Spirit through obedience to the Word (John 14:15, 21, 23-26; 15:1-7, 10, 14-15). Once again Alpha participants are not being warned of the very serious dangers of accepting anything and everything from anyone and everyone. So they will walk out of the cocoon of Alpha and straight into the path of the adversary the devil [who], as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

Ian Lewis was concerned, regarding this talk, that “The emphasis on technique rather than faith in these areas seems to me to be less than helpful, and fails to address these issues in their true biblical context” [Ian Lewis, Evangelicals Now, 1995].

F. WHAT ABOUT THE CHURCH?

White Alpha training manual, pp63-68, Talk 14

1. Romanism

“The Alpha course is … adaptable across traditions and denominations … I know of its use in Catholic … churches” [Martin Cavender in Telling Others].

“Adaptable” in what sense exactly? Alpha’s publications manager advises that, while presentation of the material can be adapted to suit, the content should be followed exactly. (He makes particular reference to the weekend dealing with the Holy Spirit in this respect) [Christian Herald, 9/Dec/1995]. If the content of the Course teaches the fundamental historical and theological facts and doctrines of the Christian faith as recorded in Scripture, then, having tested and proved that to be so, any Protestant church using Alpha could follow the Course exactly. But could a Catholic church do that?…

Gumbel teaches, from 2 Timothy 3:16, that the Bible is useful for teaching, correcting and rebuking, which of course it is. “It’s how we know if something is wrong. How do we know that what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe is not right? We have to put it alongside the Bible – also the Moonies – and test it. And if you do that, I think you’ll find it’s not consistent with the teaching of the New Testament” [Talk 5].

Protestantism teaches salvation by grace alone through faith alone; Romanism adds to the cross man’s good works and a whole host of other un-Biblical doctrines such as purgatory, penance, transubstantiation, indulgences, prayers to/for the dead/saints, papal infallibility, Mariolatry, sacerdotal mediation etc etc. So if we “put [Romanism] alongside the Bible” we can see that “it’s not consistent with the teaching of the New Testament”. Romanism falls into the category described by Paul as ‘Judaisers’ (Phil. 3:2-11), who add to the gospel of Christ the works of men (Gal. 3:1-25; Eph. 2:4-10; Heb. 9:24-10:18). Romanism bears not a little resemblance to the teachings and works of the Pharisees so scathingly denounced by the Lord in Matthew 23:1-28. It is a false religion that will never relinquish a single one of its unscriptural tenets.

Nevertheless, in section II of this talk, and in Talk 8, Gumbel teaches Alpha participants that the differences between Protestants and Catholics are “totally insignificant compared to the things that unite us … we need to unite around the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus; the absolute essential things at the core of the Christian faith on which we are all agreed. We need to give people liberty to disagree on the things which are secondary”. But it is on the essentials that Protestants and Catholics do not have unity. That was the whole point of the Protestant Reformation. Every one of the Canons anathematizing Protestant doctrine in the Catholic Council of Trent in the 16th Century still stands. In fact, unscriptural doctrines are still being added to the Roman belief system; for example, the doctrine that Mary is co-redemptress with Christ is a recent addition and is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “secondary” issue.

Discussing the price of unity in the Church, Bishop Ryle wrote: “Our noble Reformers bought the truth at the price of their own blood, and handed it down to us. Let us take heed that we do not basely sell it for a mess of pottage, under the specious names of unity and peace” [Warnings to the Churches, 1877, p128].

Still Gumbel says: “We need to unite. There has been some comment which is not altogether helpful to unity. [Ryle’s included?] Let us drop that and get on … the movement of the Spirit will always bring churches together. He is doing that right across the denominations … we are seeing Roman Catholics coming now … People are no longer ‘labelling’ themselves or others. I long for the day when we drop all these labels and just regard ourselves as Christians with a commission from Jesus Christ” [Renewal, May 1995, p16].

‘Labelling’ is a sociological term. In this inclusivist age in which truth is believed to be relative (note the convenient lack of relativism of that particular ’truth’!) it is used not to define the labellee, but to discredit the labeller. Used in this sense it is as ridiculous to “drop all labels and just regard ourselves [Protestants and Catholics] as Christians” as it would be to refuse to label the jam-pot ‘jam’ and the marmalade-pot ‘marmalade’. A vast number of Catholics have not heard the gospel in their churches and Protestants cannot just assume they are saved.

‘Adaptability’ of the Alpha Course to include Catholics, not necessarily to convert them, is referred to in Alpha as ‘unity’, and I am concerned that Alpha is helping to undo the Protestant Reformation through the promulgation of Ecumenism disguised as Christian Unity.21

2. Unity and false doctrine/teachers

Unity is the keyword of the church growth movement, who would agree with Nicky Gumbel that “a disunited church … makes it very hard for the world to believe” [Renewal, May 1995, p16]. Consequently, “on Alpha, never … criticise … a Christian leader” [Telling Others, p114; and this Talk, section II].

Yet there are times when failure to “criticise” – or rather to rebuke and correct (2 Tim. 3:16; 4:2-5) – is actually to be disobedient to the Word of God. Although in Talk 5 Gumbel only applied the rebuking and correcting to Christian behaviour, it also applies to false teaching.

We are to test all teachings, prophecies and practices against Scripture and judge whether they are true or false (1 Cor. 2:15;16; 1 Thess. 5:21; 1 John 4:1). Far from swallowing everything we are told, however respected the teacher, believers are to test all that passes for doctrine; to correct and rebuke those in error – for their sake! – (2 Tim. 4:2-5), and to disassociate from those who continue to preach false doctrine (Rom. 16:17,18; 2 John 7-11). Jesus, Paul and John all publicly named those who publicly opposed the truth (Matt. 23:1-39; Gal. 2:11-14; 2 Tim. 2:14-26; Titus 1:10-14; 3 John 1:9,10 etc [Matt. 18:15-17 applies to private trespasses]), and we must do the same for the sake of those believers following them.22 Participants of Alpha are not being taught this.

As with JWs, Moonies, and Romanists, so with less obvious heresies and false teachings operating within mainstream Christianity. They are “not consistent with the teaching of the New Testament” and Gumbel is right: “All these heresies, all these cults were around in a very similar form in New Testament times and they [the apostles] dealt with them and the answers are there in the Bible”. Today, however, instead of recognising that, just like the heresies of the 1st Century and the JWs of the 20th Century, these groups are preaching another Jesus, whom we have not preached, we, like the Corinthians to whom Paul was writing here, are welcoming them with open arms.

According to Ephesians 4:3-6, Christian unity comes through our being baptised by one Spirit into One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all. In John 17, Jesus only prayed for the unity of all believers after He had prayed for the sanctification of His disciples by the truth, which He immediately went on to define – for our benefit, not His Father’s – as God’s Word (v17). Shortly before this, Jesus had told His disciples that one of the works of the Holy Spirit was to guide them into all truth (John 16:13-15). So the Holy Spirit unites believers / churches (John 17:23) through God’s written Word (John 16:13; 17:17). Since He does not contradict Himself, there can therefore only be unity within Biblical truth / sound doctrine; there cannot be unity despite Biblical truth / sound doctrine. Those who do not preach or follow the truth, have broken the unity of the believers.23

Unity is also essential to Latter-Rain doctrine, to enable the supposed incarnation of Christ into His physical body (the Church), because He cannot incarnate a divided body, so that the Church may become the ‘Manifest-Sons-of-God’. But Latter-Rain is “another gospel” (Gal. 1:6-7) with a twisted eschatology which is insinuating itself into Charismatic Fellowships these days; one of its most successful routes being the Toronto Blessing.24

It is vital that we earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 1:3). If we do not, we may find ourselves – and those new believers whom we have nurtured – part of the Apostate Church. This is very serious. Christian / Church unity is also essential to the New Age goal of global unity. The Apostate church is the thin end of this wedge; the middle of which is religious inclusivism / syncretism; the wide end being the one-world religion under the control of the False Prophet during the reign of the Antichrist and his one-world government (2 Thess. 2:1-8; Rev. 12-13; Rev. 17-18; Dan. 8-9; Matt. 24:4-5,11).

3. The Parable of the Party

In section IV, Gumbel says the Church, despite being God’s Holy Temple, so often loses “the sense of the presence of God in its midst”. He is making reference here to the Sunday meetings of believers rather than to the Church as the body of Christ, and he uses the parable of the Prodigal Son to explain that Sunday services should be like a ‘party’. “Jesus was saying… the Church is like … a feast and a celebration, and at a party everyone has a good time. There’s fun, there’s laughter … Why shouldn’t there be laughter at the biggest party of all? And that’s what we’re seeing today, laughter and fun, and people getting drunk – not with wine, Paul says ‘don’t get drunk with wine – be filled with the Spirit’, [but see my comments earlier on Ephesians 5] … ‘Come to a party where you can get drunk on God’ … I was at a party like that last night. It was a whole load of church leaders, and we invited the Spirit to come … It was a party thrown by the Holy Spirit … It was a fun place to be. The Church is meant to be a party …. That’s the sort of picture…”.

David Noakes writes of his visit to the Toronto Airport Vineyard church: “Luke 15 was brought to us as a Scripture that tells us in these days that God is a God of parties. God is partying. Lots of jokes from a great big fun God. I don’t know what sort of God that is. I haven’t found that God in the Bible. My God is a consuming fire. He’s a God of grace and compassion and love but I don’t trifle with the God I know. I don’t go partying with balloons and fun and jokes and things. When I find God weeping over the state of the Church I can’t go around with balloons in my hand … and yet the Scripture is misused and taken to say this is God; a God of parties. I understand that Scripture as a God of mercy and compassion and forgiveness, always ready to receive back the repentant sinner. I find nothing about God partying. Yes, the celebration was to indicate the greatness of His love and the greatness of the restoration, but it was used [at Toronto] for a totally false purpose” [David Noakes, Dealing with Poison in the Pot, side 1].

The Church will celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb when the Lord Jesus returns, but I too find no references to “fun” or “parties” anywhere in Scripture, except in denunciation. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, for example, Paul reminds the Corinthians of God’s anger toward His people Israel in the wilderness because they did not patiently wait for Moses to return from the mountain, but built themselves a golden calf and held a festival; eating, drinking and indulging in revelry (Exo. 32:1-10). It made no difference to God that the festival was “to the Lord” (v5), or that they had all been freed from Egypt and had all been partakers of the “spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:14). They were still forbidden entrance to the Promised Land. Paul’s point here is to compare the Christian life with the wilderness experience of the people of Israel. We may have left Egypt but we have yet to enter the Promised Land. Until Jesus returns and we attend the marriage feast of the Lamb, there is no place for “parties” or “festivals”; not even “to the Lord”. Rather, we are to be “sober, grave, temperate” (Titus 2:1-13), remembering that true worshippers … worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24).25

In the last section of this presentation, Gumbel teaches participants that the Church is the Bride of Christ. He asks: “Are we worthy to be the bride?” Cleansed, restored, and forgiven by the blood of Jesus on the cross, Gumbel says the Church is to be “holy and without blemish”. She is to be “in love with Jesus … One of the things we’ve found in the last few weeks as people have experienced the power of the Spirit … we’re falling in love with Jesus Christ”. Well, feelings of being “in love with Jesus” do not make us holy. Experiences of “the power of the Spirit” do not make us holy. Going to “spiritual parties” to get “spiritually drunk” that we may lose control of our minds and bodies is certainly not the way to holiness. It is through the renewing of our minds, through self-control, through obedience to the truth and through our hope in Jesus Christ that we are made holy (Rom. 12:1-2; Heb. 12:14-17; 1 Pet. 1:13-2:3).

How true the prophecy uttered in Azusa Street in 1906 has proved to be: “In the last days three things will happen in the Great Pentecostal Movement: There will be an over-emphasis on power, rather than on righteousness; there will be an over-emphasis on praise, to a God they no longer pray to; there will be an over-emphasis on the gifts of the Spirit, rather than on the lordship of Christ”.

Are we “worthy to be the bride”?

G. HOW CAN I MAKE THE MOST OF THE REST OF MY LIFE?

White Alpha training manual, pp69-71, Talk 15

I am aware that this title is designed to appeal to the enthusiasm of new converts to continue along the Christian way, but its similarity to the Word-of-Faith prosperity / health and wealth label, which is very much a ‘what’s-in-it-for-me-in-this-world?’ gospel, suggests a way of life that bears no resemblance whatsoever to true discipleship.

However, the content of the session belies its title, focusing on Romans 12:1-21, and reminding participants that as “God did not spare His own Son, so it is just a little thing for us to give our lives to God as a living sacrifice”. (Whether participants actually grasp the necessity and ramifications of this is another matter.)

V

Eschatology and Church History

The basics of Christian discipleship include an eager expectation of, and preparation for, the return of our Lord Jesus (Matt. 24:1-25,46; 1 and 2 Thess.; Rev. 1-22). However, God’s cry for his People Israel in Hosea 4:6-14 “My people are destroyed for [i.e. through] lack of knowledge” applies no less to His Church, as evidenced in the unquestioning acceptance amongst many Christians of every new ‘shepherd’, ‘prophet’, ‘doctrine’ or spiritual ‘experience’ that comes along. If new disciples are to finish the race that they, and we, have begun (Acts 20:22-24; 1 Cor. 9:24; Gal. 5:7-10; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Heb. 12:1-3), then at least some instruction in eschatology and relevant elements of Church history (persecutions, heresies, the Reformation) would be useful.

VI

Conclusion

I believe we have a grave responsibility in these spiritually perilous times to ensure that we do not introduce any teaching into our Fellowships which does not accord with the written Word of God. Any system of instruction should be thoroughly tested in the light of Scripture before being used as a basis for teaching. It is worth considering that, if a formulaic course of talks exists that God wants us to use for evangelism, then He would surely have included this in His Word?!

I don’t think we can compare one sermon, given by a visiting speaker to a Fellowship of believers who are mature enough in the faith to be able to test what is being said and sieve out the dross while holding on to the good, with an entire teaching course of 15 talks given to non-Christians who are completely ignorant of the Word. Also, while we do not know what a visiting preacher will say until he says it, the Alpha videos and training manuals tell us exactly what will be taught. If we run the Course from the videos, we have to use everything that is on them; fast-forwarding the bits we may not agree with is not a practical option. It is also prohibited by HTB! Nor is it enough to say that any errors can be corrected in discussion groups afterwards. Proverbs 22:6 tells us to Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. This applies to children in the faith as much as it does to children in age, and it concerns belief no less than behaviour. We would not deliberately teach our children something we knew was wrong with the excuse that we could correct it later. If we know some teaching is wrong before we teach it, why teach it? Why not just teach what is right to begin with? It may only be parts of Alpha’s teaching which do not accord with Scripture, but I would say with Paul: A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Gal. 5:9). Though Paul is talking here of the yeast of the law, the yeast of lawlessness is just as damaging. Ultimately it is not the leaders of Alpha, or anyone else, who will stand responsible before God for the spiritual health of those nurtured in our Fellowships, but we ourselves.

Every Christian, and every Christian Fellowship, is able to witness to the gospel under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It should not be necessary to rely on the methods and techniques of another Fellowship when we have all the instruction and teaching material we need in Scripture, all the experience we need in each of our relationships with the Lord, and each have the capacity to be directed by the Holy Spirit as to how and when to go and do it. Bearing in mind the tendency of Church evangelism today to preach a God of love but not a God of holiness or judgment, and thus to emphasise what we are saved to at the expense of what we are saved from – but this is to re-define the gospel! We have no right to do this.

It is therefore necessary that, in any evangelistic outreach we undertake, we ensure:

A. Non-believing participants have fully understood the meaning of the cross and are saved before being propelled into a course on Christian Living.

B. Converts are fully aware of their conversion experience and are becoming stable in their daily relationship with the Lord before we come onto the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for which they are not yet ready and which could allow into their lives the influence of an alien spirit through ground given, albeit unintentionally.

C. Participants grasp the different role of each Person in the Trinity.

D. The fruit of the Holy Spirit, and His convicting and sanctifying work in a believer’s life, is not submerged beneath the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit.

E. Participants are taught to proceed from the Word to experience, not from experience to the Word; i.e. that they – and we – know the difference between the experience of the Christian life as the daily application of, and obedience to, God’s written Word, and the supernatural experiences (plural) so characteristic of the TB.

F. Participants understand that deception regarding doctrine and supernatural phenomena is Satan’s main weapon against the Church and that knowing, and standing fast in, the Word is our weapon – as it was for Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11).

G. Participants are taught to become Bereans; able to test everything against Scripture for themselves, not relying on leaders, who are not infallible (e.g. Gal. 2:11-14), to do their thinking and living for them. This has been the particular failing of the ‘Heavy Shepherding’ movement within some Charismatic Fellowships during the last 25 years; it has failed to produce Scripture-literate, discerning Christians. Also we must teach them to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).

H. I would also strongly recommend revision of the booklist on pp72-75 of the white Alpha training manual as it tends to display a bias towards writers sympathetic to the TB / Restorationist persuasion, while omitting other sound and more obvious choices in several of the sessions. While many good books exist on healing, for example, 2 of the 3 books listed in this section are written by John Wimber. At least two of the recommended authors for Talk 3 do not agree with the Biblical view of Hell, but prefer the (fundamentally different) idea of annihilation. And while Chasing the Dragon may be an interesting autobiography, it does not claim to be a textbook on the Holy Spirit. It should not be too difficult for any church to compile its own recommended reading list.

In 1877 Bishop Ryle wrote: “The Lord Jesus Christ declares, ‘I will build My Church’ … Ministers may preach, and writers may write, but the Lord Jesus Christ alone can build. And except He builds, the work stands still … Sometimes the work goes on fast, and sometimes it goes on slowly. Man is frequently impatient, and thinks that nothing is doing. But man’s time is not God’s time. A thousand years in His sight are but as a single day. The great builder makes no mistakes. He knows what He is doing. He sees the end from the beginning. He works by a perfect, unalterable and certain plan” [J.C. Ryle, The True Church in Warnings to the Churches, 1877, pp13-14].

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers … Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:42,47).

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ENDNOTES

1. HTB in FOCUS: ALPHA NEWS, Aug 1995, p9.  See also Wallace Boulton, ed., THE IMPACT OF TORONTO, 1995, pp20-24.

2. See Richard Smith, SPIRITUAL DRUNKENNESS: ITS CAUSES, CONSEQUENCES AND CURES, audio tape, I.T.S., 1994/22.

3. Ed Tarkowski, LAUGHING PHENOMENA [sic]: ITS HISTORY AND POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON THE CHURCH, 1995, pp5-6. 

4. See, for example: Jack Dunnigan, ‘A Shoppers Paradise’ in PROPHECY TODAY, Nov/Dec 1994, pp10-11; Johannes Facius, ‘Laugh? I Nearly Cried’ in PROPHECY TODAY, May/June 1995, pp24-26; and Intercessors for Britain, ‘Soul or Spirit?’ in TORONTO: BLESSING OR BLIGHT? 1995, pp6-7.

5. This parallel is widely noted; see, for example: David Noakes, REVIEW OF LEADERSHIP CONSULTATION HELD AT BAWTRY, JAN 1995, (Leadership Consultation on the current situation in the Charismatic churches), audio tape CFCM 95/07, Mar 1995, side 1.

6. See, for example: Chris Hand, FALSE FRUIT, audio tape IFB/192, July 1995, side 1.

7. See also David Noakes, audio tape CFCM 95/07, side 1.

8. See, for example: Reachout Trust, GODS OF THE NEW AGE, video tape, 1988; Mick Brown, ‘Unzipper Heaven, Lord’ in SUNDAY TELEGRAPH MAGAZINE, Oct 1994, pp26-30 and subsequent interview ’What Happened Next? Toronto and the Telegraph Reporter’ in EVANGELICALS NOW, Feb 1995, pp1; Nader Mikhaiel, SLAYING IN THE SPIRIT: THE TELLING WONDER, 2nd edition, 1995; and Philip Foster, SUGGESTIBILITY, HYSTERIA AND HYPNOSIS, 1996.

9. Refer to David Forbes, THE INFLUENCE OF LATTER-RAIN TEACHING ON THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT, audio tape CFCM 95/03.  Also Tricia Tillin, RESTORATIONISM, TORONTO AND THE LATTER-RAIN, 2 audio tapes, 1994.  For teachings of the New Age see, for example: Constance Cumbey, THE HIDDEN DANGERS OF THE RAINBOW: THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT AND OUR COMING AGE OF BARBARISM, 1983. For comparison of New Age with Latter-Rain teachings see, for example: Ed Tarkowski, LAUGHING PHENOMENA, pp25-40.

10. For information on the Kansas City prophets, refer to various audio tapes available from Banner Ministries. For information on the Word-of-Faith movement see, for example, Hank Hanegraaff, CHRISTIANITY IN CRISIS, 1993. Also, various audio tapes available from Banner Ministries.

11. See, for example: Intercessors For Britain, REVIVAL OR SURVIVAL?, 1995.

12. For other relevant information on the Toronto Blessing see: Clifford Hill, ed., BLESSING THE CHURCH? 1995.  Also, Stanley Jebb, NO LAUGHING MATTER, 1995; Leigh Belcham, TORONTO: THE BABY OR THE BATHWATER?, 1995; and Bill Randles, WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING: PUTTING THE TORONTO BLESSING INTO CONTEXT, 1995.  Also: Articles in editions of MAINSTREAM and PROPHECY TODAY; and various audio tapes available from Banner Ministries.

13. Letter from Board of Vineyard churches to all Vineyard pastors, Dec 1995.

14. See John Goodwin, TESTING THE FRUIT OF THE VINEYARD, 1990, pp8-15.  See also Michael Horton, ed., ‘Power Evangelism’ in POWER RELIGION: THE SELLING OUT OF THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH? 1992, pp61-138.

15. See Wallace Boulton, ed., THE IMPACT OF TORONTO, 1995, p19; also David Noakes, DEALING WITH POISON IN THE POT, audio tape CFCM 95/04, side 1. Johannes Facius, ‘Laugh? I Nearly Cried’ in PROPHECY TODAY, May/June 1995, p25.

16. See Jesse Penn-Lewis, WAR ON THE SAINTS, 1912, pp47-55; and Clifford Hill, ‘The Toronto Blessing: True or False?’ in PROPHECY TODAY, Sep/Oct 1994, pp11-12.

17. See for example: Mike Taylor, ‘The Holy Spirit and the Believer: A Look at the Scriptures’ in MAINSTREAM, Spring 1995, pp6,9.

18. See, for example: Robert M. Bowman, ORTHODOXY AND HERESY: A BIBLICAL GUIDE TO DOCTRINAL DISCERNMENT, 1993; and J.C. Ryle, WARNINGS TO THE CHURCHES, 1877.

19. During the Leadership Consultation on the current situation in the Charismatic churches, held in January and March 1995 by the Centre for Contemporary Ministry, the following remarks were made concerning the “catch-it-and-pass-it-on” nature of the Toronto Blessing:

“David, you said that William Branham laid hands on people and that was how they received the Spirit, and then they could go and lay hands on people and they would receive the Spirit, and that was how it was passed on. This raises the concept of ‘infection’ and the terms being used in connection with the Toronto Blessing. In the article in the Daily Telegraph, John Arnott was quoted as saying: ‘What we are seeing here is a virus from God. A wonderful, wonderful virus from God’. Now, that jarred with me and I went to the dictionary and looked up ‘virus’ and found four column inches of definition. ‘Virus’ goes back to Latin, Greek and Swahili roots, and there are two meanings of the word ‘virus’. All the meanings, and their derivatives, are placed under these two meanings: One is ‘poison’, the other is ‘venom’, and all those meanings, every single one of them, is based on those two meanings. There is no other meaning of ‘virus’, or its derivative. But you know why people are going to Toronto? They are going to ‘catch’ this thing. That is the term used; so that they can spread it to other people. It’s this concept of infection” [David Forbes, THE INFLUENCE OF LATTER-RAIN TEACHING ON THE CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT, audio tape, CFCM 95/03, side 2, comments made during discussion group at end of talk].

In contrast, Nicky Gumbel has said: “I have not had the opportunity of meeting any of the people who are supposed to be the roots [of the TB]. We are praying not for the spirit of ‘X’ to fill people, but for the Holy Spirit to fill them. I think it is irrelevant that so-and-so is linked with so-and-so, who once met so-and-so, who was into something that wasn’t very good” [Wallace Boulton, ed., THE IMPACT OF TORONTO, 1995, p83].

The prophet Haggai, however, would seem to warn against this view and show that associations DO matter: “In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Haggai 2:10-14).

20. See Tricia Tillin, BANNER HEADLINES NEWS UPDATE, BMX22, Dec 1995.

21. See, for example: Stanley Jebb, REFORMATION, RENEWAL, ROMANISM, audio tape. (A warning to Evangelicals / Charismatics about Ecumenism); also J.C. Ryle, WARNINGS TO THE CHURCHES, 1877, and M. De Semlyen, ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME:THE ECUMENICAL MOVEMENT, 1993.  Also Dave Hunt, ‘Evangelicals and Catholics, Declaration of Unity: The Gospel Betrayed’ in THE BEREAN CALL, May 1994, quoted in MAINSTREAM, Summer 1994, pp10-11.  Dave Hunt, A WOMAN RIDES THE BEAST: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS, 1994, chapters 22-28; and various audio tapes available from Banner Ministries. Also the March/April 1996 edition of DISCERNMENT (P.O. Box 129, Lapeer, USA), which focuses on Ecumenism / Church unity.

22. See Tricia Tillin, ‘Thy Word is Truth’ in MAINSTREAM, Winter 1993, p9. Also Robert M. Bowman, ORTHODOXY AND HERESY: A BIBLICAL GUIDE TO DOCTRINAL DISCERNMENT, 1993, pp27-32.

23. See Dave Hunt, BEYOND SEDUCTION: THE RETURN TO BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY, 1987, pp3-4; and J.C. Ryle, WARNINGS TO THE CHURCHES, 1877, pp103-107; 110-112; 127-128.

24. See Tricia Tillin, ‘Birth of the Manchild’ in MAINSTREAM, Spring 1995, pp1-5 for the eschatology being taught at some Vineyard churches, referred to by John Wimber in his letter to Vineyard pastors, Dec 1995, under the heading ’Other Concerns’.

25. See, for example: Stewart Dool, A TABLE IN THE WILDERNESS, audio tape, Dec 1995. Also Yacov Prasch, THE TORONTO BLESSING IS IT? UNDERSTANDING OF THE GOLDEN CALF, video tape, Moriel Ministries, 1995.

FOR FURTHER READING

Critiques of the Alpha Course

I am listing these articles in chronological order, to show how the Alpha Course has grown both in popularity and in its heresies:

Alpha Course Alarm (approx. 1993)

ALPHA: New Life or New Lifestyle?, by Elizabeth McDonald (1995/1996, fully revised)

The Alpha Course – Final Answer or Fatal Attraction?, by G. Richard Fisher (approx. 1998)

The Gospel According to Alpha, by: Cecil Andrews (Nov. 2000)

The Powers Behind The Alpha Course, Part 1: The Powerful Message, by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald (Summer 2002)

Chapter and Verse on Alpha’s Jesus, Part 1: The Character of Alpha’s Jesus,
by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald (December 2002)

Chapter and Verse on Alpha’s Jesus, Part 2: The Nature of Alpha’s Jesus, by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald (December 2002)

Chapter and Verse on Alpha’s Jesus, Part 3: The Divinity of Alpha’s Jesus, by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald (December 2002)

The Powers Behind Alpha, Vineyard & the ‘TE’ – Link Data (approx. 2005)
– the website with this article has a number of ADDITIONAL articles about the Alpha Course

Alpha’s Godfather: Unearthing the Core of Sandy Millar, by Dusty Peterson (approx. 2005)

Is This the Hottest Ticket to Heaven?, by Viv Goskrop (09/25/2005)

DECEPTIONS LEADING UP TO THE ANTICHRIST!, by Alan Yusko (May 2006) (includes a section on the Alpha Course)

Alpha Course Added to Spiritual Formation List (04/21/08)

A closer look at the Alpha Course and whether it is permissible to judge what other Christians teach (07/15/10)

The Alpha Course/Evangelistic Bible Studies, by David Cloud (updated 07/14/11)

The Underlying Foundation of the  Alpha Course (approx. 2012) – contains a number of links to older articles about the Alpha Course

Read Full Post »

(blog under construction)

Years ago I took a class, where I learned about the many horrors of the Nazi Germany’s Holocaust. Readers here may not realize that many groups were slaughtered. Besides the Jewish community, other groups targeted were Christians, Gypsies, the unborn (the “hereditarily ill”), the mentally ill, the mentally handicapped, the elderly, etc.

Christians who do not hold to the historic premillenial eschatology (a post-Trib Rapture) seem to be in denial. Especially in America, Christians insist they will never go through a persecution unto death. Yet in our lifetimes we have seen the religious persecution and mass murder of millions of Christians and Jews (not only in Nazi Germany, but in the U.S.S.R., China, etc.).

And persecution is not the only area in which we as “End Times Christians” need to wake up. A wise person once wrote that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Thus, in many areas we would do well to study Nazi Germany as an historical model of the coming rule of the Antichrist. This is not “conspiracy theory” – this is fact, this is history.

Brannon Howse wrote an excellent article entitled “26 Similarities Between America and Nazi Germany” (I have reposted this article below). I would like to take Brannon Howse’ article further, beyond America and the Nazis. Why? Because America is no longer the political powerhouse it once was. In my mind it seems the most Antichristian powerhouses are in Europe (Germany, the U.K., the Vatican state, etc.). I believe Howse’ article “26 Similarities Between America and Nazi Germany” could be re-written to apply to any country of the world today – and even to “governmental” bodies such as the United Nations.

Regarding totalitarian regimes, I’m sure Nazi Germany is not the only model for the coming reign of the Antichrist – it is merely the most extreme model. Look at it this way. Assuming the Antichrist is somewhere in the world today, where would he look for guidelines on how to carry out his “reign of peace” which soon becomes a “reign of terror”? He would look to other totalitarian regimes throughout history, studying how they came to power and retained power.

Of course, this is too much for many of us to comprehend, thus these musings are labeled by many as “conspiracy theory.” Why are these things so difficult to envision as being true? In part, because we are not hard wired to think like criminals, let alone the most evil person in the history of mankind – the Antichrist.

Click here for the entire original text of Brannon Howse’ article, which I have  reposted below. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

26 Similarities Between America and Nazi Germany  

Three Forces Destroying the America We Know

By Brannon Howse

 This article was published in the January 2008 Worldview Weekend Digest … 

Even the most nominally aware person knows all too well that our nation-and the world-is engulfed in a major economic catastrophe. Thanks to the variety of factors at work, some observers have characterized it as the perfect economic storm. [Ironically, this article was written before the stock market disaster in Fall 2008.] Yet this drama is a mere thunder shower by comparison with a far more devastating potential that threatens to wreck not just the American dream but the entire American ideal. If this maelstrom reaches its full power, liberty and justice for all-to say nothing of the pursuit of happiness-will be wiped from the face of the earth.

A perfect cultural storm is developing from the convergence of three forces, any one of which would seriously harm our way of life. But together they portend the near certain doom of the most cherished American values. Socialism, pagan spirituality, and pragmatism have come together over the last several decades to produce a cataclysm waiting to happen.

Socialism imposes the redistribution of wealth and private property through an all-powerful, freedom-robbing central government. Pagan spirituality embraces the worship of nature along with occult practices and beliefs. Pragmatism proclaims that the truth or worth of an idea is based solely upon the results it brings (pragmatists believe that truth is relative, situational, and that a desired end justifies any means required to reach it). All three of these political, spiritual, and intellectual systems have taken a dominant place in the American worldview.

Doomsday-Again

It’s been said that if we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. There are those who have even compared the rumblings in America today as similar to those in pre-Nazi Germany of the 1930s. While I don’t buy the notion that our government might be ready to establish concentration camps, the storm clouds heading this way have brought ideas into our public policy, laws, and national consciousness that bear a frightening resemblance to what has gone before-in the worst of times. This same collection of worldviews laid a foundation for the atrocities and godless government of Hitler’s Germany.

Adolph Hitler, you’ll recall, established the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. He also bought into what I call One World Spirituality, a merging of the three worldviews of evolutionary humanism, Hindu pantheism, and occultism.

Atheism in America is no longer in vogue among our “intellectual elite.” It’s being replaced by the far more insidious pantheism-insidious because it is more acceptable to the masses than outright disbelief in God. Pantheism is on track to become the dominate worldview in America and around the world in very short order.

Similar Is as Similar Does

Please understand that I’m not sensationalizing when making these observations. First Chronicles 12:32 says men of the tribe of Issachar were called wise because they “understood the times and knew what God would have them to do.” To help you make your own assessment of the situation, I’ve distinguished 26 benchmark issues that clearly define the intensity of the tempest that is nearly upon us. And yes, there are obvious comparisons with the growth of Nazism in Germany. I will point them out unabashedly because it’s only reasonable to say so if something that looks similar to an earlier, dangerous historical parallel actually is similar. After all, storm warnings, by nature, foretell bad news.

As you read through my list, I invite you to understand the times and prepare to respond with a Biblical worldview.

1. In 1935, under Hitler’s rule, prayers ceased to be obligatory in schools. In 1962, The U.S. Supreme Court outlawed school prayer.

2. Hitler eliminated Christian holidays in the schools first by calling Christmas “Yuletide.” Most American public schools now call Christmas vacation a “winter break.”

3. Hitler took Easter out of schools and instead honored that time of year as the beginning of spring. It has likewise become common for schools in America to refer to time off at Easter as “spring break.”

4. Hitler controlled the church using intimidation and threats. A half-century ago, U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Baines Johnson, promoted a bill that included an amendment to use the Internal Revenue Service to remove the non-profit status of a church that speaks against the election of any specific political candidate.

5. Hitler enticed thousands of pastors to promote paganism in their congregations. Neopaganism is one of the fastest growing religions in America, doubling every 18 months according to a June 2008 article in The Denver Post.  Many American church-goers practice paganism such as “Christian” yoga, contemplative prayer, and walking a labyrinth. As evidence that church doors continue to open further to aberrant beliefs, a 2008 survey found that 57% of evangelicalsdo not believe Jesus Christ is the only way to God.

6. Hitler was an environmentalist and vegetarian. Marriages performed by the Nazi state frequently included blessings of “Mother Earth” and “Father Sky.” Today Americans increasingly accept radical environmentalism, pantheism, and the celebration of Earth Day.

7. Hitler was fascinated by eastern mysticism. Today an increasing number of American pastors encourage their followers to become “mystic warriors”.

8. Hitler believed in reincarnation. He even convinced SS officers that by murdering millions of Jews and other “undesirables” they were allowing them to get on with the reincarnation process and come back more quickly in an advanced status. Americans increasingly accept the idea of reincarnation as well as good and bad karma.

9. Hitler’s holocaust killed between 8 and 11 million Jews and non-Jews. Americans have killed an estimated 50 million babies since abortion was legalized through the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. According to a July 7, 2008 article on worldnetdaily.com “An abortionist who claims to have destroyed more than 20,000 unborn children and who once was Hillary Clinton’s OB-GYN says he is doing ‘God’s work’ when he terminates a pregnancy…He admits that abortion kills a human soul.”

10. Hitler killed 270,000 handicapped people through active euthanasia.[1]America and the courts are rushing toward the same with the murder of individuals such as Terri Schiavo. Oregon voters passed their Death with Dignity Act in 1994 and re-affirmed it in 1997. Washington state voters legalized doctor-assisted suicide on November 4, 2008. In December 2008, a Montana judge ruled terminally ill residents of that state have the right to physician-assisted suicide, and “death with dignity” is gaining acceptance in other states as well.

11. By 1938, all private schools were abolished by Hitler and all education placed under Nazi control. There is constant pressure from federal and many state education authorities to require that Christian schools use state-mandated, humanistic textbooks. The Home School Legal Defense Association is fighting numerous battles at any given time to prevent parents from loosing the right to educate their children as they see fit. In August 2008, a federal district court ruled that the state of California university system may choose not to recognize the diplomas-and thereby deny college entrance to-students who attended a school using textbooks that express a Biblical worldview in the areas of history and science (i.e., Christian schools).

12. Hitler prevented dissenters from using radio to challenge his worldview. Many powerful liberals in America have made clear their intent to reintroduce the “Fairness Doctrine” that would require conservative and religious radio stations to offer equal time to anti-Christian, anti-conservative worldviews.

13. Pastors who spoke against Hitler’s worldview and his murderous regime found themselves on trial and frequently imprisoned for “Abuse of Pulpit.” In America, hate-crime legislation has the potential to criminalize Christians and pastors who speak out against the homosexual agenda.

14. Many Christians in Germany justified their allegiance to Hitler through a belief that “Their duty to God was spiritual; their duty to the state was political.”[2]Many American Christians now have bought the lie that their worldview can be divided between the secular and the sacred-the politician has one area of responsibility, the pastor another, and never shall the two meet. Yet the Bible teaches that all issues are fundamentally spiritual.

15. Hitler outlawed the cross and replaced it with the swastika. Today many churches, Christian colleges, and universities have willingly removed the cross from their buildings. Numerous court cases sponsored by the ACLU have required the removal of the cross from public grounds. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that the Ten Commandments cannot be posted on public grounds for religious purposes.

16. Hitler was fascinated with Friedrich Nietzsche and distributed his writings to his inner circle. Nietzsche promoted Nihilism, the belief that life has no meaning, and he is best known for his position that “God is dead”. Nietzsche is presently one of the most widely read authors by American college students.

17. Hitler exploited the economic collapse of Germany to take over as dictator and usher in his brand of socialism. America’s financial crisis has given liberals in both political parties the opportunity to grow the size of government and implement freedom-robbing socialism at lightning speed.

18. Hitler was obsessed with globalism, and many of America’s most powerful political leaders are willing to subjugate American sovereignty to contemporary globalism.

19. Many Germans responded to Hitler by retreating into neutrality. Today most Americans prefer to remain neutral on moral issues that they think don’t affect them personally.

20. On trial after World War II, Hitler’s henchmen used the defense that they had not broken any laws. True, they had not defied the laws of Germany since those had been re-written to fit the goals and objectives of Hitler. The Nazi leaders were nevertheless found guilty because the courts at the time recognized a “law above the law.” Yet now the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the law of nature and nature’s God by claiming that as society evolves, morals evolve, and so the law, too, must evolve.

21. Calling upon Darwinian evolution, Hitler convinced the German people that purging millions of people was acceptable because of the need to create a pure race; also referred to as eugenics. American students across the board have been educated in Darwinian evolution because the Supreme Court has ruled that creation cannot be taught in our schools-even if both creation and evolution are taught side by side.

22. Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood in America became acquainted with the doctors and scientists that had worked with Nazi Germany’s eugenics program and had no quarrel with the euthanasia, sterilization, abortion, and infanticide programs of the early Reich.[3]  Sanger even published several articles in Birth Control Review that reflected Hilter’s White Supremacist worldview. Planned Parenthood now grosses one billion per year.

23. In Germany, pastors often cited Romans 13:1-2 to encourage Christians to obey the Nazis. Today in America, many pastors have a false view of Romans 13:1-2 and have convinced millions that to disobey governing authorities is to disobey God. This poor training would facilitate Christians here doing just as the German Christians did if faced with similar challenges.

24. Germans accepted socialism to avoid pain. Today’s Americans are rejecting capitalism in exchange for government-sponsored “free” healthcare, education, and countless other government handouts.

25. Many Americans accept what I call, One World Spirituality. This is actually an amalgamation of the three worldviews of evolutionary humanism, Hindu pantheism, and occultism. I noted earlier that Hitler embraced all of these.

26. America is rushing toward government-sponsored, national healthcare. We already have a form of this in Medicare and Medicaid. Hitler, too, expanded and centralized Germany’s healthcare system. As Melchior Palyi explained, “The ill-famed Dr. Ley, boss of the Nazi labor front, did not fail to see that the social insurance system could be used for Nazi politics as a means of popular demagoguery, as a bastion of bureaucratic power, [and] as an instrument of regimentation.”

[Following are some additional similarities between America and Nazi Germany:

27. Hitler pressed for the confiscation of guns from Jews. According to Wikipedia, “the 1938 German Weapons Act … effectively deprived all Jews of the right to possess firearms or other weapons.” Today we see a continual pressure for more gun control laws in the U.S. And in the various countries of the United Kingdom today, no one is allowed to carry firearms.

28. Hitler pushed for book burning, destroying entire libraries of edifying materials, while publishing ungodly garbage such as Mein Kampf. In American society today, Christian books are banned from our public school classrooms (in the name of “separation of church and state”). Yet homosexual and occult garbage is allowed in every public school in the name of “freedom of speech.”

29. This article tells us, “In 1938 Nazi Germany passed a law requiring all children to attend public school to avoid “the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions.”” This same article tells us that today the U.S. government is under pressure from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to discourage homeschooling.]

If the church in Germany had truly acted like the Church of Jesus Christ, if Christians had understood and lived out a Biblical worldview, Germany would never have accepted Hitler. I believe he would have been rejected and overthrown within weeks of his true worldview coming to light.

Most American church members today are simply reflect the culture instead of correcting and changing it. If we are to quiet the brewing storm, apathy, political correctness, and intellectual laziness must be replaced with a passion for Biblical truth, sound reasoning, logic, and the desire to lead.

Becoming a leader does not mean you must be on the radio, give speeches, or even stand up in front of a group. An effective influencer leads through his or her actions and lifestyle. Lovingly defending and proclaiming truth in a world bent on  political correctness is being a leader. Even in private conversation, leadership can take the form of lovingly correcting someone’s false beliefs or ideas.

America needs Christians now more than ever to take the lead. If not, the perfect storm is ready, and annihilation is what it portends.

_________________
[1]
Holocaust Museum Unveils New Eugenics Exhibit by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express, April 22, 2004.

[2] Dr. Irwin Lutzer, Hitler’s Cross, (Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1995) p. 111.

[3] George Grant, The Family Under Siege: What the New Social Engineers Have in Mind for You and Your Children (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994), p 62.

FOR FURTHER READING [I located these resources, and am adding them to my reposting of Brannon Howse’ article]

STUDY OF ANTICHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM BY STUDYING ADOLF HITLER AND HIS KINGDOM — PART 1 — HITLER’S VIEW OF CHRISTIANITY AND THE CHURCH

STUDY OF ANTICHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM BY STUDYING ADOLF HITLER AND HIS KINGDOM — PART 2 — HITLER TARGETED THE YOUTH

STUDY OF ANTICHRIST AND HIS KINGDOM BY STUDYING ADOLF HITLER AND HIS KINGDOM — PART 3 — HITLER CHANGED THE TIMES AND SEASONS!

This is the Hand of God, Yet, They Repented Not

To Understand The Coming Antichrist, You Must Understand Adolf Hitler — The Ultimate “Type” Of The Coming False Messiah

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I am premillenial, and in recent years have moved towards the historical (aka post-Trib) premillenial view. I believe premillenialism (whether historical premillenialism or dispensational premillenialism) is THE correct, biblical view of the End Times.

Amazingly, many evangelicals since the 1970s have been like sheep wondering blindly, following whatever heretical leader strikes their fancy. Emerging/Emergent, Reconstructionist and NAR Kingdom Now leaders have all promulgated postmillenial eschatologies, and evangelicals are flocking to these postmillenial views in droves.

What a tragedy – and shocking. Emerging/Emergent, Reconstructionist and NAR Kingdom Now postmillenial eschatologies are merging, helping lead evangelicals towards the One World Religion of the coming Antichrist. (I have blogged several times about the heresies of postmillenialism elsewhere on this blogsite.)

The fact is, Christ is coming back soon!  We are not headed towards a perfect, utopian world under the “reign of God” (the postmillenial view). On the contrary, we read this in the news every day: the world is getting worse and worse (and exponentially so), not better and better. We are headed quickly towards a One World religion,  economy, and government under the Antichrist. It will not be much longer after the rise of the Antichrist, that our God will say “enough is enough” and our Lord Jesus Christ will physically return to Earth.

God’s Word says: And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:28, KJV).

Yet “postmillenial evangelicals” can be described by this passage:

48) But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49) And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;  50) The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,  51) And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:48-51, KJV)

In discussing various views of the Millenium, it helps to review the details of the various positions. To this end, I have reposted an article by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. summarizing the various millenial views. Click here for the original article. In my reposting below, I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

“Summary Graphs of Millennial Views”, by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this article I will summarily present the core distinctives of the four major evangelical views. Such summaries are easy to grasp and quite helpful for presenting the differences between the systems.

Amillennialism

[click on the diagram below for a larger view]

1. The Church Age is the kingdom which the Old Testament prophets predict. God expands his people from the one nation of Israel in the Old Testament to the universal Christian church of the New Testament, making this phase of God’s people the “Israel of God” (Gal 6:16).

2. Christ binds Satan during his earthly ministry at his first coming. His binding prevents Satan from stopping gospel proclamation. This allows for multitudes of sinners to convert to Christ and insures some restraint upon evil.

3. Christ rules spiritually in the hearts of believers. We may expect occasional, short-lived influences of Christianity on culture and society, especially when Christians live out the implications of their faith.

4. History will gradually worsen as evil’s growth accelerates toward the end. This will culminate in the great tribulation, with the arising of a personal Antichrist.

5. Christ will return to end history, resurrect all men, and conduct the Final Judgment, and establish the eternal order. The eternal destiny of the redeemed may be either in heaven or in a totally renovated new earth.

Historic Premillennialism

[click on the diagram below for a larger view]

1. The New Testament era church is the initial phase of Christ’s kingdom, which the Old Testament anticipates especially in its prophetic books.

2. The New Testament church may win occasional victories in history, but ultimately she will fail in her mission, lose influence, and become corrupted as worldwide evil increases toward the end of the current era, the Church Age.

3. The church will pass through a future, worldwide, unprecedented time of travail. During this period a personal Antichrist will arise, possessing great religious and political power. This era is known as the great tribulation, which will punctuate the end of contemporary history. Historic premillennialists differ significantly from dispensationalists in that their system is post-tribulational.

4. Christ will return at the end of the tribulation to rapture the church, resurrect deceased saints, and conduct the judgment of the righteous in the “twinkling of an eye.”

5. Christ then will descend to the earth with his glorified saints, fight the battle of Armageddon, bind Satan, and establish a worldwide, political kingdom, which Christ will personally administer for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. (Historic premillennialists often do not demand the Revelation’s 1000 years be a literal time frame.)

6. At the end of the millennial reign, Satan will be loosed and will cause a massive rebellion against the millennial kingdom and a fierce assault against Christ and his saints.

7. God will intervene with fiery judgment to rescue Christ and the saints. The resurrection and the judgment of the wicked will occur and the eternal order will begin. The eternal order may be either a recreated material new heavens and new earth, or it may be simply a heavenly environment.

Dispensationalism

[click on the diagram below for a larger view]

1. Redemptive history is divided up into seven categorically distinct dispensations, wherein God works with men under each dispensation in different ways. Hence, the name “dispensationalism.”

2. Christ offers renewed Davidic Kingdom — an earthly, political structure — to the Jews in the first century. They reject it, leading him to postpone it until the future.

3. The Church Age is a wholly unforseen and distinct era in the plan of God. It was altogether unknown to and unexpected by the Old Testament prophets.

4. God has a separate and distinct program and plan for racial Israel, as distinguished from the church. The church of Jesus Christ is a paren-thetical aside in the original plan of God.

5. The church may experience occasional small scale successes in history, but ultimately she will lose influence, fail in her mission, and become corrupt as worldwide evil intensifies toward the end of the Church Age.

6. Christ will return secretly in the sky to rapture living saints and resurrect the bodies of deceased saints (the first resurrection). He is removing them out of the world before the great tribulation. The judg-ment of the saints transpires in heaven during the seven-year great tribulation period before Christ’s bodily return to the earth.

7. At the conclusion of the seven-year great tribulation, Christ will return to the earth in order to establish and personally administer a Jewish political kingdom headquartered at Jerusalem for 1,000 years. During this time, Satan will be bound, and the temple and sacrificial system will be re-established in Jerusalem as memorials.

8. Toward the end of the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be loosed so that he may surround and attack Christ at Jerusalem.

9. Christ will call down fire from heaven to destroy his enemies. The second resurrection and judgment of the wicked will occur, initiating the eternal order.

Postmillennialism

[click on the diagram below for a larger view]

[Note – The following points are an “ideal” postmillenialism where the gospel of salvation is truly preached, with people the world over repenting of their sins and being brought to a born again salvation experience. In the “real world”, today’s current postmillenial views (Emerging/Emergent, Reconstructionist and NAR Kingdom Now) all have heretical, twisted goals for the Milleniumnot the preaching of the gospel of salvation through the blood atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, saving them from eternal damnation and giving them eternal life.]

1. Jesus Christ founds his Messianic kingdom on the earth during his earthly ministry and through his redemptive labors. His establishing the “kingdom of heaven” fulfills Old Testament prophetic expectations regarding the coming kingdom.

2. The kingdom is essentially redemptive and spiritual, rather than political and corporeal. Although it has implications for the political realm, postmillennialism is not political, offering a kingdom in competition with geo-political nations for governmental rule.

3. The kingdom will exercise a transformational socio-cultural influence in history. This will occur as more and more people convert to Christ, not by a minority revolt and seizure of political power in history nor by the catastrophic imposition of Christ at his second advent from outside of history.

4. Postmillennialism expects the gradual, developmental expansion of Christ’s kingdom in time and on earth before the Lord returns to end history. This will proceed by a full-orbed ministry of the Word, fervent and believing prayer, and the consecrated labors of Christ’s Spirit-filled people.

5. Postmillennialism confidently anticipates a time in earth history (continuous with the present) in which the very gospel already operating will win the victory throughout the earth, fulfilling the Great Commission.

6. After this extended period of gospel prosperity, earth history will draw to a close by the personal, visible, bodily return of Jesus Christ (accompanied by a literal resurrection and a general judgment) to introduce his blood-bought people into the consummative and eternal form of the kingdom. And so shall we ever be with the Lord.

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In other blogs (for example, here, here, and here), I have written about the incredulous shift among many evangelicals from premillenialism to postmillenialism. There are several “streams” of postmillenialism. A few are 1) dominionist Reconstructionism, 2) dominionist Kingdom Now, and 3) Emerging/ Emergent “postmillenialism.” All streams of postmillenialism are merging as we head towards the One World Religion of the Antichrist.

I came across this excellent article by Sarah H. Leslie, which among other things discusses Emerging/Emergent eschatology. Berit Kjos has reposted this article on her website here. I have reposted the entire article below:

Part 5: The Emerging Church – Circa 1970   (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6 )

Emerging Towards Convergence

By Sarah H. Leslie

http://herescope.blogspot.com  –  August 3, 2009

Index to articles

by Discernment Group

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“After emergence comes emersion.”

—Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man (Harper, 1965), p. 309.


The Emergent/Emerging Church movement is heading towards a crash collision with the New Age movement. In fact, it may already be happening before our very eyes. The Discernment Research Group has reached the inescapable conclusion that this is intentional and it has been planned for over a generation.

In brief, there has been a crossover of personnel, organizations, doctrines, methods, and agendas going back at least 40-50 years. Constance Cumbey, who first exposed the New Age movement and its Theosophical roots in her groundbreaking book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, has been writing a series of reports on the earliest examples of this crossover for her blog and her NewsWithViews.com column. Through our own research we have discovered that there was an earlier Emerging Church movement, which was initiated in the late 1960s and early 1970s, which bears remarkable resemblance, crossover and correlation to its newer counterpart. This early history is currently being recounted in an ongoing series of posts on the Herescope blog.[1]

We know that the current Emergent Church is a marketing phenomenon, set up as an official movement by Bob Buford’s Leadership Network, a historical fact which we documented in a series of Herescope posts in 2005 and 2006.[2] From its very inception in the 1980s Leadership Network imported a number of leading New Age business “gurus” as “experts” – holding nebulous (if any!) Christian credentials. They trained an entire generation of evangelical “leaders” on the latest tactics of psycho-social change theory, substituting it for genuine Holy Spirit revival. These business “gurus,” some of whom had open New Age beliefs, included such notables as Margaret Wheatley, Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, and Ken Blanchard. Many spoke at a 2000 Leadership Network conference “Exploring Off the Map” which launched the Emergent Church movement.[3]

From our research we also know that the Emergent Church was set up to be a vanguard, a forerunner, to propel the postmodern evangelical church towards a paradigm shift in theology, structure, methodology, and purpose. As such, it has been rushing headlong towards an open convergence with the New Age movement. Emergent leader Phyllis Tickle has termed this “The Great Emergence,” which is the title of her 2008 book announcing the “birthing” of a “brand-new expression of… faith and praxis” (p. 17) which will ultimately “rewrite Christian theology” (p. 162).

Important details about both the history and theology of the modern Emergent movement can be found in Pastor Bob DeWaay’s recently published book The Emergent Church: Undefining Christianity (2009). This book summarizes the basic doctrines and practices of the movement, and gives an account of a few key leaders.

Emergent Eschatology

Pastor DeWaay recognizes the defining issue for the Emergent movement as eschatology:

While Emergent Church leaders differ on nearly every Christian doctrine, one belief they hold in common—the one that unifies their movement—is their eschatology. Emergent theologians and church leaders reject God’s final judgment in favor of His saving of all humanity and creation into a tangible paradise in which all will participate. (p. 13)

This view of eschatology is also a key doctrine of Dominionism, and is therefore linked to the concept of “building the kingdom of God on earth.” This eschatological worldview proclaims that there isn’t going to be a Judgment Day, and teaches that man can facilitate the return to pre-Fall paradise conditions on Earth. This view of the future subliminates the Cross, ignores scriptural prophecies about the endtimes, and positions man into godlike status as a “co-creator.” Obviously, in such an eschatological scenario there is no Heaven nor Hell.

The Emergent paradigm shift is already happening. This eschatological worldview is now becoming widespread and is subtly being incorporated into most major “mainstream” evangelical ministries, missions, and organizations. A few examples we have noted on the Herescope blog include N.T. Wright,[4] the Lausanne movement,[5] Ralph Winter,[6] Transform World,[7] Dutch Sheets and Bill Hamon,[8] and many Latter Rain leaders.[9] Exemplifying this shift, a recent article in a publication called ConvergePoint, put out by the Baptist General Conference, describes this group’s transformation initiative in these terms, “My personal joy was compounded culturally by the fact that the word converge happens to appear in the Portuguese Bible in Ephesians 1:10: ‘…to make all things converge together in Christ, things in heaven and earth.’”[10]

This eschatological worldview has serious ramifications for all of Christian theology. DeWaay explains:

…[T]he possibility of future judgment and punishment of those who do not believe in Christ’s death on the cross and His shedding of blood to avert God’s wrath against sin is either denied or not discussed in Emergent/postmodern theology. (p. 149)

Theology of Hope?

Pastor DeWaay identifies Jürgen Moltmann’s book, Theology of Hope, first published in 1964, as a seminal document forming a foundation for the Emergent Church movement’s revisionist, evolutionary eschatology. Moltmann was influenced by Marxism and the philosophies of Georg W.F. Hegel. Moltmann’s eschatological “hope” is “headed toward the kingdom of God on earth with universal participation” (p. 23). DeWaay explains that “Emergent/postmodern theology is based on the Hegelian idea that contradictions synthesize into better future realities…. Moltmann took Hegel’s ideas and created a Christian alternative to Marxism (which is also based on Hegel’s philosophy) that he called a ‘theology of hope’” (p. 30). Emergent church leaders who hearken back to Moltmann include Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Stanley Grenz and many others.

DeWaay makes the case that, according to the “theology of hope” promulgated by Moltmann and his Emergent disciples, “the truth will only be known with certainty in the future” (p. 39) Therefore, this uncertainty results in the corollary heresies that “God is re-creating the world now with our help” and “the world has a universally bright future with no pending, cataclysmic judgment” (p. 40).

Evolutionary Eschatology

The root theology undergirding all Emergent eschatology is evolution. A generation ago, certain Christian leaders took the ideas of Moltmann and began to fill in the outlines for his “theology of hope.” They also got their ideas from a group of so-called “secular” futurists, who happened to hold a Teilhardian evolutionary worldview.[11] Today we might classify these futurists as New Agers.

Modern Emergents hold a remarkably similar worldview to these early futurists. Phyllis Tickle, in her book The Great Emergence, writes approvingly of Darwin’s evolution theory, saying that it was “the tipping point that sent us careening off into new cultural, social, political, and theological territory” (p. 64).

While researching the early Emerging Church movement we came across a seminary theologian, Kenneth Cauthen, who wrote a book in 1971 entitled Christian Biopolitics: A Credo & Strategy for the Future (Abdingdon Press). It was the premise of Cauthen’s book that Jürgen Moltmann didn’t go far enough; that his “theology of hope” was incomplete because it was focused “too exclusively in the context of society and history and has neglected the natural and cosmic setting of the human enterprise” (p. 102). Cauthen proposed a “Christian biopolitics” – an “ecological principle” that would connect nature and society so that Moltmann’s “theology of hope” could become “cosmic.” He called for the “recognition of the centrality of an evolutionary perspective” (p. 109). We don’t know the full extent of Cauthen’s influence upon postmodern evangelicals, but the theological changes he anticipated bear remarkable resemblance to Emergent thought and practice today.

As a member of the World Future Society, a group formed in 1966 with strong ties to the New Age Theosophists, Cauthen articulated an “ecological model for politics and theology” (p. 106) that would facilitate a “transition” leading to global “transformation.” He proposed that “we take the New Testament conception of the consummated Kingdom of God as a symbol of the transcendent goal of history” (p. 131), a theology which would eliminate a future of either Heaven and Hell. And he suggested that “man is indeed becoming like a god…that science and technology are putting power into the hands of human beings that have traditionally been reserved for the gods” (p. 140). He summarized his views as follows:

The message of the church during this period of world transition should be framed in utopian-eschatological terms, stressing the power and purpose of the Divine Spirit to bring all men into the ecstatic joy of a New Age, while the ministry of the church is basically to create a community of persons who can cause, celebrate, and cope with the changes that are required to bring humanity into the promise of the planetary society. (p. 124)

Cauthen was not happy with Moltmann’s social gospel “theology of hope.” He said that was too connected to the here and now in building the kingdom of God on Earth. Cauthen proposed that Moltmann’s ideas needed a “cosmic” and “utopian” aspect that would give people a “magnificent vision of an ideal future” with a “new consciousness” that would prove to “be more sensuous, ecstatic, erotic, earthy, bodily oriented, festive, playful, feminine, idealistic, utopian, mystical, sacramental, hedonistic—in sum, a quest for joy in the wholeness of body and spirit” (p. 150). Amazingly, this is a pretty accurate picture of the modern Emergent Church’s quest for a better future.

To be continued….

The Truth:

“Who is there among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isaiah 50:10)



*Part 5 is excerpted from the Discernment Newsletter, July/August 2009 (Vol. 20, No. 4). Herescope will post the entire article as a series this week. The Herescope version will include additional documentation in the form of links added to the text and its quotations.

Endnotes:
1. See these Herescope posts:
http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/05/emerging-church-circa-1970.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/05/early-experiential-emergents.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/06/retro-emergent.html &
http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/07/new-thing.html
2. It is because of the documentation you will find in these posts that we can freely interchange the term Emergent and Emerging when discussing this movement: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2005/11/marketing-emergent.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2005/11/how-leadership-network-created.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/01/leadership-network-spawns-emergent.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/01/leadership-network-and-terra-nova.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/01/how-leadership-network-established.html
3. See http://herescope.blogspot.com/2005/10/christian-leaders-go-on-expedition.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/05/earth-old-story-new-story.html & http://www.leadnet.org/epubarchive.asp?id=30&db=archive_explorer & http://www.leadnet.org/epubarchive.asp?id=33&db=archive_explorer & http://www.leadnet.org/epubarchive.asp?id=84&db=archive_explorer
& https://www.leadnet.org/libarchive.asp?id=110&db=archive_champsupdate
4. “Heaven Is Not Our Home: The bodily resurrection is the good news of the gospel—and thus our social and political mandate,” N. T. Wright, Christianity Today, 3/24/08, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/april/13.36.html See also: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/02/creating-heaven-on-earth.html which discusses this article.
5. Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, Lausanne Occasional Paper No. 30: “Globalization and the Gospel: Rethinking Mission in the Contemporary World, 2004, http://www.lausanne.org/documents/2004forum/LOP30_IG1.pdf, states: “Gospel, or euvangelion, is understood in its fullest sense as the “good news” that Jesus Christ, the King of Heaven, has come, not only to save individuals from hell, but to restore his kingdom • which is nothing short of the entire world and all of creation. As we shall see, “globalization” leads us to consider anew the words of the Lord’s Prayer: “Father, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” The mission of the church, accordingly, is to be a living sign to the world that its King has indeed come to restore his kingdom. In the words of the New Testament scholar, N. T. Wright, we are to be for the world what Jesus was for Israel — and, we are able to carry out our mission because of what Jesus did for Israel and the world. Understood this way, we are to be the King’s heralds announcing throughout the cities and outposts of the kingdom the “good news” that he has come, he has defeated the rebellious powers of sin and death, and through the power of his Spirit, and he is working through the church to put his world to rights.”
6. See the articles with documentation at http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/secret-mission.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/04/tinker-with-theology-tinker-with-man.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/02/creating-heaven-on-earth.html & http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/cultural-mandate.html
7. See the article posted at http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/redeeming-cultures.html where the Transform World Covenant states: “Scope of the Gospel: As Creator, God is Lord of all, and, therefore, his redemptive concern is comprehensive—seeking to heal and restore ‘all things’ by means of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross (Gen. 1:31a; Rom. 8:18-23; Col. 1:19-20). The church’s calling is to witness to the kingdom of God in its fullness (Matt. 4:23; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:18-21). To be faithful to the gospel the ministry of the body of Christ must be holistic—encompassing the whole person—spiritual, physical, and social, and all human relationships—with God, with others, and with the environment (Gen. 1:26-28). Anything less than concern for all spheres of life is to misrepresent the all-encompassing Lordship of Jesus Christ over the world.”
8. See the article posted at http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/cultural-mandate.html and note that C. Peter Wagner ties this to Dominionism. Also see http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/proposing-new-theology.html and the accompanying quotations that connect this eschatological worldview with the Manifest Sons of God cult.
9. See this article and note the Hermeticism evident in the “as above, so below” feature of this eschatology of building heaven on earth: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/as-in-heaven-so-on-earth.html
10. “What does ‘Converge’ mean?” Jerry Sheveland, ConvergePoint, Vol. 1, No. 3, April-May 2009, p. 12.
11. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French Jesuit philosopher/priest, proposed that just as man had evolved from monkeys, there would be a new species of man that would EMERGE, which he called homo noeticus. His evolutionary beliefs form the foundation of the New Age movement. As nearly as we can tell, he was the first to use forms of the word “emerge” to describe the spiritual formation of this new species. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teilhard) accurately summarizes his beliefs as follows: “In his posthumously published book, The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard writes of the unfolding of the material cosmos, from primordial particles to the development of life, human beings and the noosphere, and finally to his vision of the Omega Point in the future, which is ‘pulling’ all creation towards it. He was a leading proponent of orthogenesis, the idea that evolution occurs in a directional, goal driven way. To Teilhard, evolution unfolded from cell to organism to planet to solar system and whole-universe (see Gaia theory). Such theories are generally termed teleological views of evolution. Teilhard attempts to make sense of the universe by its evolutionary process. He interprets mankind as the axis of evolution into higher consciousness, and postulates that a supreme consciousness, God, must be drawing the universe towards him.”


© 2009 by Discernment Group

Source article: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2009/07/emergence-towards-convergence.html

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Open Letter to the Pastor of Community Emergent Church

by John Henderson on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 12:40pm

[NOTE:  This is not an actual letter but represents reality as it exists in many modern church environments]

Dear Pastor:

     I am deeply perplexed about the direction you are taking our church in your promotion of the many principles of the emergent church movement.  Maybe I just don’t understand or am not all that willing to go through change.  Perhaps you can enlighten me.

My family and I have been members here for many years we raised our children in this church.  It has been the most important thing in our family’s life for a very long time.  We started coming here after being visited by Pastor Jim.  He was canvassing the neighborhood and came to our door.  It was a simple introduction.  He handed us a small tract with information about the church on one side and a short gospel message on the other.  Pastor Jim invited us to the services and then did something we were not expecting from a typical church visitor.  He asked if he could tell us more about Jesus Christ.  Of course, we agreed.  Before Pastor Jim left, he had given us the story of salvation we deeply had wanted to hear but didn’t realize ourselves how much we needed and wanted the Savior.  That, more than anything else, brought us to this church.

We have had several wonderful pastors since then and seen great revivals over the years.  Our church grew because of it.  Somehow, before you came, I sensed a drift among us.  We became more program-focused than evangelism-committed.  We went through “church growth” programs and had many motivational speakers come our way.  In fact, we stopped scheduling revivals with regular evangelists like we used to do and replaced all of that with conferences of some sort or the other.  It was all very exciting but something important always seemed be missing.  I think our life was draining from us—the life that comes through prayer and obedience to the simple gospel.

By the time you arrived and began to initiate the emergent practices among us, we were ripe for the picking.  There were some among us who were more alert and courageous than I who raised questions.  I watched as you and your staff dealt with them rather indifferently and insensitively until they felt forced to go elsewhere.  Those were people who had been a significant part in the grown of our church but suddenly they were out of place.  Those of us who remained gathered a little closer together to fill in the vacancies and kept going with what remained.

When someone on your staff suggested what we needed was to start fellowshipping with those of other “faiths”, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was all that wise, especially when I learned it had nothing to do with winning them to Christ but just hoping to get them to start coming to our church to help fill the empty places.  They were being told they could keep their false ideas about Jesus and be just fine in our non-judgmental fellowship.  I think someone brought up the word postmodern and I had to look it up to see what it meant.

It wasn’t long until you were telling us we needed to walk something called a labyrinth.  It seems it was some sort of adaptation from a Hindu practice whereby we were instructed to walk a prescribed maze of sorts, and pause at pre-determined points and utter some sort of prayer or contemplate on something spiritual.  I went along with it, but felt increasingly uncomfortable because there seemed to be every sort of presence except that of Jesus.

Then you told us we needed to engage in something you called centering prayer.  You told us we should look deeply within until we found ourselves and discovered God.  Well, I looked deeply within but all I found was a wicked, rebellious heart.  I found myself alright but God wasn’t there.

You took a group of us off to a nearby monastery where a group of monks and nuns hosted us and walked us through a method of contemplative prayer.  They were very cordial and nice people and seemed very committed and they were very appealingly aesthetic.  I returned home with a sense of an unusual experience but still felt I had not really met Jesus there.  Maybe I expected too much or had the wrong experience.

Your messages have been filled with a lot of talk about something you frequently call spiritual formation.  Your definitions and descriptions of spiritual formation sound very evangelical but the spiritual (Christ-like) substance is simply not there.  You speak often of the presence of the Holy Spirit—as if we would not notice ourselves that He was present—but, frankly, I just have not noticed.  I know I have not backslidden and have often been aware of the Spirit’s presence in past services at our church.  What you say is His presence resembles nothing like I once knew of His presence among us.

You told us that we needed to enter into some sort of deep silence; something you said was a method of praying whereby we became so silent that we could hear God speaking to us.  About all I ever heard was the ringing in my ears, but God never spoke to me that I could tell.  Maybe I was being too focused on being silent that I never heard Him.  I do remember, however, the other times I would go to Him in earnest prayer and sometimes could not even express myself but I knew He was listening and answering my prayers.  I was never in some sort of silent trance or anything like that and was always keenly aware of communion with Him. I always went away from that very strengthened in my soul.   It worked very well for me but that silence thing was a complete failure except it seemed to me at times there were spirits I could not recognize trying to say things to me that did not resemble what I knew about the God of the Bible.

I have noticed lately that you have been teaching us things we once rejected in this church.  Pastor Jim led my spouse and me to the Lord in our living room that day he visited and he used the Bible an awful lot.  He answered all of our questions and objections by opening up his Bible and showing us the answers right there in its pages.  But you are now saying to us that not all of the Bible is inspired—only those parts that pertain to salvation.  Was Pastor Jim wrong to tell us it was every bit as inspired as any other part?  Also, what parts pertain to salvation and what parts do not?

You mentioned in one of your recent sermons that Adam and Eve were not actually real, that the creation story was actually a fable.  Why is it in the Bible if that is true?  Why does Luke trace the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam if it is a mere fable of some sort?  You added that the idea of creation evolution is more scientifically accurate.  How do you know that?  Is not “science” itself replete with errors and more subjective interpretation than irrefutable “facts”?

Pastor, there are many more questions I would like to ask, and perhaps we could discuss them openly at some point.  I have one very important question, however, that I must ask.  Are you really a born-again Christian?  If you say you are, why would you discredit so many things the Bible teaches—things that your very salvation must hinge on in order to be validated?  Why would you embrace postmodern and new age concepts that offer no proof of anything they promote while the Word of God stands as its own proof?  Why would you embrace any of that over what the Bible teaches?  If you are really so convinced of all of that stuff, why are you here?  Isn’t there somewhere you could be where you would be better received and we could just be left here to go our simple ways by believing the Bible and holding to those old-fashioned “traditions” that have identified us all these years?

I am sure there are many others just as I who long for those old days, as it were, when you heard prayer in the house of God instead of partying; where there were revival meetings once more instead of special topic study groups; where sinners were convicted for their sins, repented, and were converted at our altars instead of being coddled in their sins because they felt misunderstood and mistreated.  I am sure there are many such as I who long to once more walk into any of our churches and know we will hear the gospel sung, preached, and prayed.

Oh, well, none of this may ever change for the better.  It might get even worse until Jesus comes again in judgment.  I just thought I would ask in case you or anyone else cared.

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(revised 05/15/14)

For quite some time, CBN has been endorsing the bizarre Third Wave practice of soaking prayer. I’ve wondered to myself, “what next?”

Well, today I learned that Pat and Gordon Robertson will be ministering with several bizarre Third Wave leaders: John and Carol Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, as well as Bill and Beni Johnson of Bethel Church.

Click here [broken link] for the original source of the following info.

special webcasts this week:
Catch the Fire Conference
Wednesday, 2/15 – Saturday, 2/18Day and Evening Sessions
Webcast LIVE on CBN.com

Watch Online | View Schedule
Catch The Fire is committed to walking in God’s love and giving it away until the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord. The desire of CTF is to reach the world with Jesus through the sharing of these core values while equipping and releasing others to bring revival!
    speakers:

John and Carol Arnott John and Carol Arnott are the founding pastors of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF). Together they are used by God to encourage renewal and revival around the world through their traveling ministry. They have hosted conference and revival meetings at TACF for over 12 years and it continues powerfully to this day.
Bill and Beni Johsnon Bill and Beni Johnson Bill and Brenda (Beni) Johnson are the Senior Pastors of Bethel Church. Bill is a fifth generation pastor with a rich heritage in the things of the Spirit. Together they serve a growing number of churches that have partnered for revival. This apostolic network has crossed denominational lines in building relationships that enable church leaders to walk in both purity and power. The present move of God has brought Bill into a deeper understanding of the phrase, “on earth as it is in heaven.” Heaven is the model for our life and ministry.
Gordon Robertson Pat Robertson has achieved national and international recognition as a religious broadcaster, philanthropist, educator, religious leader, businessman, and author. He is the founder and chairman of CBN, Regent University, Operation Blessing International, American Center for Law and Justice, and several other organizations and broadcast entities. He is also the host of The 700 Club.
Gordon Robertson Gordon Robertson co-hosts CBN’s original flagship program, The 700 Club, and is actively involved in all aspects of programming for the ministry in Virginia Beach, VA. He became the Chief Executive Officer of CBN on November 30, 2007. Prior to being named CEO, Gordon was the Executive Producer of The 700 Club for the past six years and a member of the board of directors for the past five years.
  worship leaders:


Jonathan Clarke

Chris McClarney

What next? Endorsing all the bizarre teachings of Todd Bentley – including his use of soaking prayer for obtaining “angelic visitations” and out of body experiences (“Third Heaven visitations”)? How about all of Patricia King’s teachings – including her “angel orbs”, “gold dust”, etc.? If things continue down their current path, I predict it won’t be long until Pat and Gordon Robertson will be endorsing all these New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) practices – and  worse.

FOR FURTHER READING

Many more heretical articles appear on the CBN website. (I am providing these links to articles for research purposes only – I do not approve of any of the articles):

Articles on cbn.com endorsing soaking prayer

Articles on cbn.com endorsing  John Arnott

Articles on cbn.com endorsing Bill Johnson

Articles on cbn.com endorsing IHOP

Articles on cbn.com endorsing Todd Bentley

Articles on cbn.com endorsing Patricia King

Articles on cbn.com endorsing postmillenial dominionist Kingdom Now theology

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