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At several times in the past several years, I have discussed the Trinity with Oneness Pentecostals, and well as evangelicals who are not quite sure there is a Trinity. One of the major questions is whether a person can be become a born again Christian without believing in the Trinity.

Many born again Christians believe a person cannot become born again without believing in the Trinity. I came across an excellent article which explains why this is.  I have reposted the entire article below; click here for the original source. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [in brackets in bolded orange].

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whitedragonawa
February 16, 2012

Why Modalism Is A Damnable Heresy

 In light of the recent T.D. Jakes controversy and Modalism I decided to write this article to better explain the problem with this heresy. Too many times Christians have no clue how to explain why Modalism is a damnable heresy because they do not understand its conclusions. Modalism is nothing new and pops in and out of the spotlight all of the time. In fact, while I lived in Eugene, Oregon my dad and other men from our Southern Baptist church battled with Modalists who were members of our church, but secretly involved in the United Pentecostal Church. The men were actually teaching sunday school for the youth group males, as well as trying to befriend many of the men of the church and influence them. They were trying to take over our church from the inside. This is the church I was baptized in when I was 15.

One day I was taken on a trip with the main leader of these 3 Oneness Pentecostals who told my parents it would be good for me. His son came with us and we ended up going really far away, near the coast and meeting up with a large group of people to help build a church. We were installing drywall and helping pull wires through the ceiling. It so happened that the church was a United Pentecostal Church that I was helping do work for. He deceptively brought me on the trip to help his heretical church brothers fix up one of their church buildings. His deception was very strong as he accomplished the manipulation and brainwashing of 2 of our church men. The 2 men teamed up with him in order to attract more of the men so they would bring their families into their den of wolves. Heresy within an orthodox church has the tendency to become a zombie-like infestation that deadens the minds of men and puts them under the control of demonic influence.

Another even worse issue was that the main leader of the 2 other heretics was having secret communion meetings behind the church outside on certain nights. He invited my parents to come once, and it was people who did not belong to our church, strangers they never saw before. They were having some kind of worship meeting and communion. They had set up a small tent covering in the back parking lot. At the time, my parents were new to the church so did not realize what was going on at that moment. Eventually, these wolves in sheep’s clothing were exposed and kicked out of the church, but not after many instense debates, arguments, and spiritual attacks.

Too many people want to explain something as a heresy simply because a council said so, and not because of a biblical understanding of why it is heresy. Heresy makes salvation impossible so it is good to understand why it is so with Modalism and why it is worthwile to put fourth the spiritual energy to fight it and reject it outside of the Church just like my father and other men from our average sized church in Oregon did over a decade ago…

Introduction

Modalism (also know as Sabellianism [named after Sabellius, the heretic priest from the 3rd century that promoted this heresy], Modalistic Monarchianism, Modal Monarchianism, Oneness, and Patrapassionism [which means the Father suffers in Latin]) is the belief that God is only one person and changes/shifts into different modes. This is a heresy that leads a person to Hell because any incorrect belief about the nature of God cancels out salvation by default. This default happens in different ways but always occurs. Modalism leads people to Hell just like any other heresy about God’s nature. Modalists deny the Trinity, and in most cases with extreme aggression. Unfortunately, many Christians have a hard time logically expressing why this belief is a damnable heresy. This heresy is an extremely strategically, deceptive heresy which tries to mask itself and blend in with Orthodoxy. It fools many evangelicals. Unlike other anti-Trinitarian beliefs that deny the deity of Christ, this heresy embraces the deity of their “Christ” hence why it is so deceptive (note: there is another less popular form of Modalism that denies Christ’s deity called Adoptionism, but is not the focus of this article). Modalists claim to love Jesus Christ and claim He is God, yet in reality Modalism denies Jesus Christ and is an antichrist religion. It is a very destructive belief and total blasphemy. Without a deep understanding of soteriology and the nature of God, Christians can be confused on how to explain why Modalism is heresy. This article will attempt to do so.

Who are Modalists?

Modalism has been a problem since the early Church and still continues to be a problem today. The main proponent of Modalism in modern times is the cult called the United Pentecostal Church (UPC). The televangelist, charlatan “Bishop” T.D. Jakes is affiliated with this group. Another cult that is almost as big as the UPC are the United Apostolic Churches (UAC). These groups are known as Oneness Pentecostals, and still, there are lesser known sects and individuals who promote a modalistic God. MacArthur (2007) states, “As these groups and their popular spokespersons have found increasing acceptance in the evangelical mainstream, modalism is suddenly being accepted as if it were a valid evangelical option” (p. 117). In some circumstances, people make the mistake of expressing God in a modalistic way to express the three Persons of God, such as using H2O as an example of three things being one which causes people to misunderstand the Trinity (i.e. water, ice, and vapor are different things but all three are still H2O, yet H2O is never all three at the same time). Some people mistakenly believe in a modalistic God out of ignorance of how to describe the Three Persons mentioned in the Bible. People try too hard to explain God and end up using human wisdom to describe God and are not satisfied with leaving the Triune nature of God as a mystery. True believers, who make such mistakes out of ignorance, eventually (and most of the time quickly), come to the realization that God truly exists in Three distinct persons who are not the same, yet comprise of ONE Eternal Being. This is why Christianity uses the term Trinity which means TRI-UNITY as in three-as-one. True Christians become satisfied with this mystery and accept it as just that, a mystery. No one can fully understand how God is, but Christians can know what God is because the Bible teaches it.

The type of people who come to understand that the biblical truth of God is the Trinity are people who care to know correct doctrines and want to love the true God and will seek out proper knowledge of the Bible. Sadly, most Modalists have absolutely no desire for seeking actual truth and want to force their opinions into the Bible because they have personal agendas. A truly innocently ignorant follower of a modalistic god will always repent within due time, without much division, strife, or aggression against Trinitarians. The others are simply heretics whom are inspired by Satan and will always fight a losing battle against the Trinity until they die and go to Hell. Unfortunately, the latter makes up the major portion of Modalists and always has. You can see the demonic minds of these reprobates expressed all over the internet, especially YouTube.

Modalism promotes a god that changes

Modalism contradicts what Christianity has historically accepted about the nature of God. True Christianity expresses God existing in three Persons that equal one Being. This belief is given the theological title of “Holy Trinity” to express this concept. Whereas, in Modalism God is expressed as existing in only one person that shifts into different modes and moves in different ways in different times throughout history. God “shape shifts” so to speak, from the Father at one time, changing into the Son another time, and also changing into the Holy Spirit at times. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit never exist at the same time in Modalism. The UPC and Apostolics call their god “Jesus” and they baptize their congregants strictly, only in that name. “Jesus Christ” is the proper name of God to them which covers the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Their “Jesus” god is all three: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but the modes are never shifted into at the same time. Their god is a changing god. This contradicts what the Bible teaches in Hebrews 13:8 which states firmly: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” What is annoying is that many of these Oneness followers illogically use this same verse to somehow promote the Trinity being false. It is a fact that their religion is not at all based on logic when exegeting the Bible. What Oneness/Modalism promotes essentially, is, that Almighty God being only one person, died on the cross. Logically, this would mean that the Father came down and died on the cross but just shape shifted into the Son. So there is no actual different person of God dying on the cross. It is the same person dying on the cross, the same person giving itself as a sacrifice, and the same person accepting itself back into heaven. Modalism claims another “Father” that schizophrenically changes his personality by shifting into different modes. How can anyone trust a God who changes so sporadically? How can we even be sure there are only three modes of God? There might be more. This is a critical mistake! Not to mention it makes absolutely no sense!

Oneness followers love to use isolated proof texts from the Bible or misrepresent a verse’s surrounding context, and also ignore related passages in the Bible. One of their favorite verses they will quote is Isaiah 9:6 which says,

For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Oneness heretics will claim that this proves that Jesus Christ is the Father and only shifted His mode into the Son. The Son did not exist until the Father turned into Him. This verse does call the child Eternal Father, but that is only stating a fact about His Godhood, that Jesus Christ is fully God and God is our Eternal Father. Not that Jesus Christ is actually God the Father. Related passages in the Bible about Jesus Christ and God the Father explain it so.

The concept of the Holy Trinity is all over the Bible. The actual beliefs of the Trinity are misrepresented by Modalists who claim it promotes three gods and not one. This is not true. The Trinity teaches that all 3 Persons are different from each other and not the same, yet they are all One and the same God. The Father is 100% fully God, the Son is 100% fully God, and the Holy Spirit is 100% fully God. But the Father is not the Son, is not the Holy Spirit. The Son is not the Father, is not the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is not the Father, is not the Son. Yet all three Persons are one God, the same God. This teaching is all over the Bible and it is a mystery that we cannot understand, but we must accept. God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit is our Eternal, Everlasting Father.

Modalism cancels out salvation by default

The most basic reason why Modalism cancels out salvation is that if the Trinity is true, it means that God is Three-As-One and anything other than a triune God does not exist. Worshiping a God that does not exist is idolatry. Modalism is a false religion and God commands that there should never be any other gods worshiped besides Him (Exodus 20:3). There is no forgiveness of sins if a person puts their trust into a false god. Just because the name of a false God uses the same titles and names as the true, triune God of Scripture does not mean it is the same God. Matthew 24:24 claims there will be false Christ’s coming, and 1 Corinthians 11:4 says that people can preach a different Jesus and a different spirit and Christians should not put up with it. Simply labeling something as Jesus does not change the fact it is a lie from Satan.

Another more complex reason that will help Christians explain on a deeper level why Modalism leads people to Hell is that logically, if the Trinity exists, Modalism cannot provide salvation because it does not give Christ credit for His atoning work on the cross. Romans 8:2 explains that there is no condemnation for Christians “because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.” If the Trinity is true it means that only the Person of Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. John 3:16 says that God sent His “only begotten Son” to die for those who believe. If someone rejects that there is a Person of the Son and instead claims there is only one person that changes, and the Son did not exist until He was manifest in the Incarnation of Christ, then there is no atoning sacrifice that actually happened since they reject the real Person of Jesus, the Son of God who actually exists and has existed eternally. Grudem (2000) affirms,

“[M]odalism ultimately loses the heart of the doctrine of the atonement– that is, the idea that God sent his Son as a substitutionary sacrifice, and that the Son bore the wrath of God in our place, and that the Father, representing the interests of the Trinity, saw the suffering of Christ and was satisfied” (p. 242).

Christians cannot accept Modalists as brothers in the Lord, and they should never be unequally yoked with Modalistic darkness. The modalistic god denies the Eternal Person of the Son, thus meaning they deny the true God and profane His atonement.

Without the Person of Jesus the Atonement is denied

What Modalism is actually saying is that the separate person of Jesus Christ, the Son, is not real and never died on the cross because He does not exist. A separate Person does not exist. Only the Father (or Almighty God) exists and changes his face to turn into and look like the Son. This is a bold denial of God as a whole (since Jesus Christ is fully 100% God) and a denial of the work of the existing Second Person of God: the Son.

A human example would be that a Father agreed with his son that he would go out and pay an extremely expensive price for criminals to be free from their death sentences, and that his son would own them and they would be given to him; and he would show them compassion. After hearing about freedom from their judicial punishments of death because of the son’s payment, those criminals— instead of going with the son who bought them— believe the father is actually the one who bought them because he morphed into the mode of the son. Furthermore, the criminals claim that the son who actually bought them with his father’s urging does not even exist. They believe only the father exists and shifts into a different looking mode to become his own son, but is still the exact same person as there is not a son person and a father person, but only a father person who shifts modes. He just changed into the son. So the son who actually bought them with an extremely expensive price is denied as well as his hard work earning the payment for them to be free. This is a major insult to the son. But in reality the only way they could be free is if they understand that the son is actually a real person who exists and is not the father, and they follow him. Because since these criminals deny the son who bought them, and instead believe his father shape shifted into a son to become him, that real son that exists separately from his father will deny them in the presence of his father.

Modalism denies Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that if you deny Jesus Christ (being the Son of God, a separate Person from the Father, and separate from the Person of the Holy Spirit), He will deny you in the presence of God the Father. Jesus Christ Himself said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and that of the Father and the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). Jesus in Luke 12:9 also said, “…but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” So it is obvious that Modalism denies Christ despite the fact they try to claim they promote Jesus and follow Him. The Oneness “Jesus” is a “false Jesus” that does not exist and profanes, and blasphemies the true living, eternal, Son of God. It misplaces credit for propitiation onto the Father, when propitiation was strictly something the Son did. Romans 3:23 says that the redemption is in Christ Jesus, and in verse 24 it says, “God presented Him as the propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over sins previously committed.” It does not say that the Father was the propitiation. 1 John 2:2 explicitly states that Jesus Christ alone was the propitiation: “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.” Since the Trinity is true, Modalism is denying God by claiming the Person of the Son does not exist. 1 John 2:23 expresses it simply, “No one who denies the Son can have the Father…” All repentant sinners become Christians who receive salvation. Christians are saved because they call on the name of the Lord and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. If someone repents to a false God that does not exist, one that denies the existence of the Person of the Son, they will not have salvation. Romans 10:9 says, “…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” If a person claims this verse for a Modalistic Jesus, one that denies the Person of the Son, there is no power for salvation.

Modalism denies the Father’s ability to be a righteous judge

Not only is Modalism an offense to the Person of the Son, but it offends the Person of the Father by ignoring His sacrificial giving of His one and only Son, the Son which He loves so much in relation within the Godhead; and it claims instead that He is the one who died and gave the propitiation for sins. Ignoring the extreme sacrifice the Father allowed to happen to His precious Son is an extreme insult to the love of the Father for sinners that He would allow His own Son (who was willing) to be punished in their place; and not only that, but that the Father is the one who gave out all of the crushing punishment to His own Son. Isaiah 54:6 says, “The LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.” Also, 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Modalism denies God this glory and insults the Father. The Father remained pure and untouched by sin and is the righteous judge that gave out His wrath onto Christ. If Modalism is true it means that God existing in one person, being the Father would have became sinful and then killed himself. There would be no righteous judge untouched by sin able to pour out the wrath. It would be the Father becoming sin on His own and then punishing Himself. This idea cancels out a pure and holy Person who is able to remain innocent who can judge sin. In reality, since the Trinity is what is true, there is a righteous and clean judge untouched by sin that was able to pour out His wrath onto Jesus Christ (who was made sin willingly by the Father) and complete the ability for salvation to be completed. To deny the Father’s giving of His real eternally existing Son is blasphemy, and it cancels out the ability for salvation. Such a person as the “god father” of Modalism does not exist and it profanes the true Father’s work. Therefore, Modalism completely denies the true Father.

1 John 2:22 firmly states, “He is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” 

Modalism denies the Holy Spirit

Not only does Modalism deny Christ, and the Father, it also denies the Holy Spirit and claims He is also the same as the Father. That would mean the Person of the Holy Spirit (who is 100% fully God as well) according to the Trinity does not exist, thus denying God completely. Nonetheless, Modalism is idolatry and an offense to the true God and will be punished on judgment day.

The Incarnation’s salvific power is cancelled out   

Modalism cancels out the ability for an actual human/God existence in Jesus (a conclusion that the Adoptionist form of Modalism understands). Jesus Christ is 100% man and 100% God at the same time. This is the dual nature of Christ concept that true Christians believe. Jesus Christ, who is God, came in the flesh (John 1:1, John 1:14) and was a blood sacrifice for our sins. Romans 7:4 says, “Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah.” If God is only one person then it would mean that Jesus Christ is the same person as the Father. If Modalism was true it would be that Christ’s will as a human would not at all be different from the will of the Father because they are the same person. But the Bible says in Mark 14:36, John 6:38, and Luke 22:42 that Jesus was not doing His own will, but the will of His Father. If Modalism was true these verses would be contradicting this “one person only god” by expressing that Christ’s will as a human and His God will were not unified. This would mean that Jesus Christ as a human was not God, and that God must have possessed a human person that is not God.

Consequently, only God is infinitely valuable and perfect to be able to die for the sins of mankind in order to save them. One human could only atone for one life, but God could atone for everyone because of His infinite value. Also, humans are not perfect and never can be because all of them are born in sin. Romans 3:10 states, “There is no one righteous, not even one,” and Jesus Christ Himself expressed, “No one is good but One— God” (Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). Even if God created a human body or a human person that was perfect, that He could fill up, it would still not be infinitely valuable. The fact is the Bible teaches that God paid for His people in His own blood (Acts 20:28). Therefore, God died for the sins of His elect which forces Modalism’s logical conclusion to be that Jesus’s humanity was not unified with God which means it could not possibly have provided salvation. There is no salvific power in the “Modalist’s incarnate Jesus.”

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has effectively addressed the reasons why Modalism is a serious heresy, and is not to be taken lightly. Especially, it is not to be accepted as a valid, non-essential doctrine within the bounds of orthodoxy. Modalism completely denies the true God and creates a false god that does not exist. Modalism’s logical conclusion is self defeat. It denies all three Persons of God and commits theological suicide. It denies the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as well as the humanity of Christ that atoned for sin. Modalism is an illogical heresy and needs to be aggressively refuted in evangelical circles. Too many people are confused and unable to understand the mechanics of this heresy because it is so deceptive. It is nothing but a device of Satan and demonically energized within theological circles to lead people astray so that they will burn in Hell for eternity. Modalism is truly a damnable heresy.

References

Grudem, W. (2000). Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

MacArthur, J. (2007). The Truth War. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

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Many born again, biblically sound Christians nowadays may feel as if they’re being attacked spiritually. Examples: financial struggles, health issues, etc. So… is there a biblical way for born again, biblically sound Christians to take part in spiritual warfare? I believe there is.

Unfortunately, the teaching on spiritual warfare is terribly abused nowadays –  particularly in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), also called the Third Wave of Pentecostalism. Googling “spiritual warfare” will bring up an odd mix of links, to resources on true spiritual warfare as well as false spiritual warfare.

Obviously the best learning resource is the Bible itself – Ephesians Chapter 6, etc. There are many wonderful discernment ministries resources as well. Following I’ve reposted a biblically sound article discussing true and false spiritual warfare. Also, following this repost, I’ve provided links to additional resources on biblically sound spiritual warfare.

Click here for the original site of this blog. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments [in brackets in orange].

Spiritual Warfare – The Biblical Way and the ERROR of “Binding satan”

“Spiritual warfare” means different things to different people. The term itself is not found in the scriptures, but the concept is taught. Spiritual Warfare is a very important aspect of the Christian life because we engage in it every day. The Bible makes that clear. But many teachings on spiritual warfare being circulated these days is not rooted and grounded in the teaching of scripture. Any practice or technique of spiritual warfare which has no scriptural warrant is always suspect.

The key to successful spiritual warfare is finding Biblical balance. Some of us are taught that if we “bind satan” in the name of Jesus, threaten him, or if we pull down spirits in the air (preventing their activity), they will leave us alone forever – no longer tempt us or try to lure us away from our faith. This is simply not true. Some of us are taught to use the phrase ” I bind you satan in the name of Jesus”as a magical formula or ”spiritual weapon”. Some of us are also taught that we have the authority to do so because we have Jesus; but overcoming satan and his demons are more than just words. The truth of the matter is satan is already bound by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and as believers we bind him with our righteous living (2Cor. 10:6). We must make sure our view of demons and how to deal with them is based on Scripture, not stories, tradition, or experience. Saints, error mixed with truth ensnare the believer and I pray for all who are ensnared to receive the truth that will make us all free.

The purpose of this teaching is to teach that there is a warfare going on and we fight it every day; that we have been given weapons and strategies by the Father who is our Commander and to give the true meaning in context of the terms “binding and loosing” in the book of Matthew.

Scripture teaches us that true Biblical “spiritual warfare” is simply indirect confrontation with satan our principle enemy (we don’t step into his territory to pick a fight with him and we don’t seek to communicate with him to show him how big and bad we are in the Spirit). Spiritual warfare must be done according to the rules of combat of our Commander, Jesus Christ. Our source of authority should not be experience, it should be the Word of God. We have to daily stand firm against (resist, oppose, withstand) satan with the tools God gave us (obedience, prayer, His Word, His Spirit and etc. – 2 Cor. 10:4&6; Eph 6:10-18). These tools are the weapons God has established for us. Scripture provides everything that we need for salvation and sanctification (2Tim. 3:16,17; 2Peter 1:3), therefore the Word of God should be our final authority.

Spiritual Warfare According to the New Covenant Scriptures What does the Bible teach?

2 Tim. 2:15 “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the word of Truth.”

*Please note: I understand this is a sensitive topic and that it goes against much of what we have been taught in the church. I am not here to cause division, but I am examining commonly known practices in light of Scripture so that Scripture can correct and instruct us (2 Tim. 3:16). I understand that we must be on our guard, contending for the faith which was once delivered to the saints because certain men have crept in. (Jude 3 and 4). We are warned in 1 Tim. 4:1 and 6  that in the latter times some will turn away from the faith giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and we are admonished to be worthy stewards of Jesus Christ, ever nourishing our own selves on the truths of the faith so that we can TRULY live victorious in Jesus Christ.

As I said earlier, “Spiritual warfare” means different things to different people and many engage in spiritual warfare differently. Some are Biblical and some are not. “Binding and Loosing” are often associated with “spiritual warfare” – again it is a term not found in the scriptures, but the concept is taught.

2 Cor.10:3-5 – “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Eph. 6:10-12 – “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole amour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Let’s examine the practice of binding and loosing. How is binding and loosing practiced in Christendom and what does the Bible say about such practices?

1. To bind the devil and spirits in the air during public and private deliverance sessions.

2. To bind the devil in prayer before presenting the Gospel. The belief is that this will improve the likelihood of that person trusting Christ as his Savior.

3. To bind satan from upcoming events protecting it from the influence of the demonic.

4. To bind satan and his demons from certain geographical locations, such as a new house a person will be moving into, a new church building, or a particular location in a city or neighborhood.

5. Binding unfavorable situations and circumstances in our lives (poverty or a lack of something, persecution on our job or at school and the struggles of life).

6. To bind the struggle of sin in a believer’s life (the “spirit of lust”, “the spirit of envy, gossip, or disobedience”) .

What does the Bible tell us about satan being bound (as in being unable to work or do anything to anyone)?

Revelation 20:1-3 (AMP)

“Then I saw an angel descending from heaven; he was holding the key of the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and a great chain was in his hand and he gripped and overpowered the dragon, that old serpent (of primeval times], who is the devil and satan, and [securely] bound him for a thousand years. Then he hurled him into the Abyss (the bottomless pit) and closed it and sealed it above him, so that he should no longer lead astray and deceive and seduce the nations until the thousand years were at an end. After that he must be liberated for a short time.”

Revelation 20: 10 (AMP)

“Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

What does this teach us?

It teaches us that satan will be bound for 1,000 years shortly after Christ’s Second Coming. Following the Millennium, Satan will be deposited into the lake of fire for all eternity.

In interpreting Revelation in light of the whole of Scripture what are we taught?

We are taught that satan will be bound (him and his activity) for 1,000 years shortly after Christ’s Second Coming. No other time before this will anyone be able to bind him or prevent his work. Even though God is sovereign, God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18) and God will permit the devil to act until his time is up.

We are taught that Jesus has bound satan and his demons already with the message of the Gospel in that  he can’t stop the Gospel from going forth (Matt. 16:18-19) and by His finished work on the cross (1 John 3:8).

We are taught even though he is bound by the Gospel he is very much active. 1 Peter 5:8 teaches us that satan is “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour”. Satan will seek and continue to seek to destroy anyone who will let him (hence “whom he may devour”). He has that authority in the earth because God gave it to him for a short time.

Therefore, the idea that believers can remove satan and his demon armies permanently from spheres of influence, from tempting us, afflicting us, harassing us, and to trying to distract us from serving and living unto God is simply unbiblical. In addition, the teaching that most of us have, which is to “bind him in the name of Jesus,” is not found in the Bible. Take demons for example, since primarily binding and loosing is used in this instance. If we study the ministry of Jesus, the idea of binding a demon should automatically raise some questions. Jesus never tried to bind a demon (stop their activity), He cast that thing out! (Matt 8:16; 8:39; 9:33; 10:38; 12:28). There was a time however that Jesus did bind or forbid a demon to speak (Mark 1:34), but the end result was to cast him out.

How are we instructed to overcome satan?

1. Peter instructs us to “withstand him; be firm in faith against his onset – rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined, knowing that the same sufferings are appointed to our brotherhood (the whole body of Christ) throughout the world.”

2. Paul teaches us to put on the whole armor of God. Our weapons include truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the word of God (Ephesians 6: 14-17).

3. 1Tim 1:18-19. It teaches us that we must wage a good warfare holding fast to faith and having a clear conscience. And we know that we must take control of our thought life by refuting arguments, theories and reasoning’s and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the true knowledge of God. We are to lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (2Cor. 10:5 Amp).

4. James 4:7. We are taught to be subject to God. Resist the devil – stand firm against him and he will flee from us.

We are not taught anywhere in scripture to “bind” or “rebuke” him, but we are constantly taught to STAND FIRM against him – the same way Jesus stood firm against him while being tempted in the wilderness. He stood against him with the Word of God and we must do the same.

What is the mandate for the practice of “Binding” satan? What does that concept really mean? What does the Bible say about those “mandates”?

The “mandate” or idea for “binding satan”is based on the misinterpretation of three passages: Mt 12:29; 16:19; and 18:18. The context reveals that Matt. 12:29 was an illustration of Christ’s personal power over Satan — not ours. Jesus is making the point that He is the stronger man. And the other scriptures Matt. 16:19; 18:18 are in the context of fulfilling God’s will on earth, including church discipline. It has nothing to do with demons messing with us and our stuff (things carnal believers are concerned about).

What does the binding and loosing concept really mean?

In the Jewish culture that phrase is an expression meaning to declare forbidden, to declare allowed or to declare lawful – this idea of binding and loosing has the force of the judicial notion of forbidding and permitting. The power for binding and loosing is something that the Jews of that day used. They bound or loosed an individual in the application of a particular point of the Law and they did this to provide rules or to discipline.

What are some applications of the Law that the Apostles (using the binding and loosing concept) declared lawful or unlawful?

1. The use of circumcision. Circumcision was forbidden because it is now the heart that is circumcised and not the flesh. (Romans 2:28-29

2. Thy declared forbidden the teaching that Christians (converted Jews) should abide by certain Old Testament rites. (See the entire epistle of Galatians)

3. The distinction of Jew and Gentile in Christ (Act 10:28 and Gal. 3:38)

What is the true definition of these “mandates”?

Let’s discover the true meaning of these verses.

Matthew 16:19

The meaning of this verse in context with the surrounding verses mean that Jesus gave Peter and indirectly all who will be His disciples, authority to bind believers to the Church and the authority to exclude or loose from the Church those who did not believe. This scripture teaches us that there is heavenly authority behind the disciples’ (and our) earthly actions. Peter was to bind things upon the earth, but only what had already been bound in heaven. Peter was to set the standard on earth for entrance into the kingdom of heaven based upon the standard which God has already set in heaven (this is God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven- Matt. 6:10). Peter was to be the mediator of the Word of God between God and man (by preaching it), and that standard is what Peter stated in Matt.16:16, namely, that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 18:18

The meaning of this verse in context with the surrounding verses (before and after it) teaches us church discipline and order. The Lord was speaking about how to deal with unrepentant brothers and sisters not about “binding” satan, demons, or their activity. There is not even a hint of this type of practice or “spiritual warfare” in Scripture. Jesus is saying that believers can have confidence that when they justly excommunicate someone on earth, that they are fulfilling the will of God which has already been determined in heaven. This should give them confidence in what they are doing (because as they yield themselves to God and walk in the Spirit, they will automatically fulfill God’s plan and not their own). So in this context, binding and loosing carry the idea which corresponds to our modern judicial language of declaring someone guilty (binding) or innocent (loosing). The court decision does not make someone guilty or innocent, but simply determines whether his past acts violate or conform to God’s heavenly standard.

Therefore the authority to “bind and to loose” had to do with, the permitting or forbidding anything that was to be determined by a doctrinal decision.

[Russell Sharrock critiques the heretical NAR practice of “binding and loosing” in his book Spiritual Warfare: A Struggle for Truth. Click here to read this chapter online.]

Let’s talk about rebuking.

Who is given the authority to rebuke?

Nowhere in Scripture are we taught to rebuke the devil or his demons, but we are taught to cast them out and resist them. The New Testament views rebuking as the sole prerogative of Jesus as an expression of His Lordship and sovereignty over the spirit realm. The only acceptable condition for a believer to rebuke anyone is when he lovingly corrects a brother fallen into sin (Lk. 17:3; 1 Tim. 5:20). Throughout the New Testament, rebuke is understood as the sole prerogative of the Lord. This is why Michael said when challenged by Satan, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 9). 2 Peter 2:10 teaches us that we are not to “revile angelic majesties.” The earlier context indicates that these self-willed false prophets were engaged in reviling fallen angelic majesties—demons. We are taught in 2 Peter 2:4-12 that this is something which is characteristic of false prophets, so it is a warning for Christians not to engage in such practices.

We are warned twice in Scripture against reviling (uttering reproaches, assailing with abusive language) and such practices.

If we are warned not to do these things then, why do so many professing Christians and their leaders regularly engage in such practices?

Both passages give us the answer. They are acting out of ignorance. “These, like unreasoning animals … reviling where they have no knowledge …”(2 Pe. 2:12). “But these men revile the things which they do not understand …” (Jude 10). This is an example of the ignorance of God’s Word which leads to wrong practices. No wonder many are growing weary and dropping out of the battle. Many are following leaders who are leading them on wild goose chases through beliefs and practices that open them up to attacks from the enemy rather than the advertised protection from the enemy clearly taught in Scripture.

What are we taught in Scripture concerning dealing with demons?

Demons are Fallen Angels who willfully sided with Satan and became his followers, to carry out his will instead of Gods. When confronted by a demon-possessed individual [the direct, inward control by a demon(s)], there are generally two possible reactions, namely the offensive approach and the defensive approach. The offensive approach calls for casting out the demon. In contrast, the defensive approach simply teaches the Christian to resist satan and or the demon by submitting to God.

Our authority is to deal with demons in ministry to persons.  We do not have authority to rail against, bind or attack evil forces over territory or broad topics such as “I bind the Spirit of poverty over my city or my life.” We have been mis-taught regarding Jesus statement that “whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven.” Again, what did He mean by the terms “bind” and “loose?” These words were commonly used by Jewish rabbis. The customary meaning of the Rabbinic expressions is to declare forbidden or permitted, and thus to impose or remove an obligation, by a doctrinal decision. When used in this way, the expression retains the basic meaning that they had in the Jewish culture of the first century.

Conclusion

Nowhere in scripture are we taught the “spiritual warfare” practices that some of us were taught and they include for example “binding demons and spirits”.

Thanks to youtube member NotYourTypicalNegro, (because I din’t know where the binding and loosing concept came from, but I checked out what he suggested and it is true for the most part) – “the practice of spiritual warfare believe it or not comes from movies such as the Exorcist, books written by Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness. Many Christian got a lot of concepts about spiritual warfare from that book. Also Left Behind and the Believer’s Authority by Keneth Haggen ”[Hagin]

I did a search on these books and this is what I have found.

This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti.

Released in 1986, he introduces an all-too-common phrase among Christians, “I rebuke you, Satan,” which is invoked during prayer. The mystical approach of throwing rebukes around has no basis in Scripture. Just the opposite is true. Again we are not to rail against principalities and authorities in the spirit realm (Jude 8-9. And we can see from His mention of Michael and the devil that God does not look favorably upon those who rail against any authorities including Satan’s. Yet the Church is filled today with teachers who tell us how they’re going to “stomp on the devil.” They call him names and rail against him as if to demonstrate that they have power over him.

The Believers Authority, by Kenneth E. Hagin.

He is the acknowledged “father” of the modern Word of Faith Movement and is viewed by charismatic Christians globally as a true prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.

*Please note: I did not read these books. I am just giving you information that can possibly shed some light on this practice as it relates to how it originated.

Kenneth is said to have  believed in the following beliefs:

1. Christians are little gods.

2. Jesus didn’t pay for our sins on the cross and he had to finish the job of atonement in hell.

3. If Christians are not healthy and wealthy it is because of their lack of faith or knowledge.

4. Christians have control over their lives by the words that they speak.  If they speak sickness and poverty they will be sick and broke.  Therefore, if a Christian speaks blessings and healing they will be healthy and have wealth.

Finally, many believers are being lead astray by false deliverance teachings (please note all are not false and there are ministries who are ministering according to the true teachings of the Word) which promise instantaneous victory over one’s problems by a timely rebuke of the devil. This misleads people from the Biblical path of exercising endurance or patience in overcoming their trials. As a result, many believers are not developing the kind of proven character they need to handle and overcome these trials.

Romans 5:3-5

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

James 1:2-4

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

And we see this character-building approach illustrated by Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10). The thorn is described as “a messenger of Satan to buffet me—to keep me from exalting myself”(12:7). It is quite possible this messenger was a demon. The Greek word for messenger is “angelos,” the word for angel.

Paul did not bind or rebuke the “messenger of satan”, instead, he “entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me” [12:8] Yet God did not grant Paul’s request, but said, “my grace is sufficient for thee.”

Do we have power in the name of Jesus? Yes, we do, but it is to be exercised within the will of God and what is expressed in Scripture.

The Lord was more interested in building Christ-like character in Paul as a true display of His power (12:9) than in teaching him how to fight the devil the way some of us have come to know it.

Within certain circles today, it is common to hear a speaker lash out against satan with various rebukes and threats. Often the speaker will rebuke satan in the area of health, wealth, and peace of mind. It is not unusual to hear more preaching against satan and the demonic than to hear preaching which focuses in on Christ and His resources which is for the purpose of transforming our souls.

Let’s be sober and alert. It has become common to attribute a natural or human explanation to most problems, but as believers we know that there is a spirit world because satan is the prince and power of the air (Eph 2:2). We have to have a spiritual warfare perspective so that we will be inclined to test situations to ascertain whether or not there is something more than natural influences at work. As spiritual warriors we must have an alertness to the activity of the enemy so that we can actively resist him as scripture teaches us.

As warriors we must bring discipline to our thought life, actions and the fact that we have to continually build ourselves up on our most holy faith and praying in the Holy Ghost (Jude 1:20). If we allow these areas to be compromised, we will not be effective in resisting the enemy and standing firm against him.

Also we must take sin very seriously, because sin always gives the adversary an advantage and we know that we can do nothing that is effective in our own strength. Our strength, authority, wisdom and discernment are dependent upon our close walk with the Lord. We should always remain focused and guard ourselves against distraction caused by problems and troubles that appear. These are designed to get our eyes off the Lord and lure us into working and walking in the flesh.

In closing the concept of spiritual warfare is a pro-active approach to our faith meaning it is our responsibility study the Word and do it. Scripture teaches us that true Biblical spiritual warfare is simply indirect confrontation with satan our principle enemy. Indirect confrontation implies that we do not fight with satan and his evil forces by approaching them directly (I am not talking about casting out a demon). We confront them by applying indirect means and ways that God has established for us.

The battle is the Lord’s!

We do our part in warfare by applying and fulfilling our required indirect roles which secures our standing before God and allows Him to directly act on our behalf. Jesus Christ has prayed that we be kept “from the evil one” (John 17:15). Further, the Bible promises us that “God keeps him and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18). Attacks from Satan against us becomes God’s battles as we obey and fulfill the roles required of us, not by verbally threatening satan and his demons which we are taught not to do (Jude 8,9; 2 Peter 2:4-12).

True Christian spiritual warfare is living a life of consecration, obedience and fellowship with God in such a way that we enable God to effectively deal with the evil working against us and against other people. It is a form of abiding in Christ that overcomes Satan’s legal and illegal grounds against us and others. This is seen in the outline of our spiritual armor given in Ephesians 6:11-18. Now It’s true that Satan and his demonic spirits (fallen angels) are the primary enemies we wrestle against. It’s also true that God has given us certain strategies in the Bible of confronting these evil beings whose full-time ministry is scheming to ruin our lives. Working outside these biblical guide lines only increases their effect in our lives.

Nowhere in the scripture do we see Jesus or the apostles bombarding demons in thin air and calling it spiritual warfare prayers or deliverance prayers. When Satan sought to sift Peter and finish him off Jesus prayed to God. Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail and when he’d turned back from the attack he’d strengthen his fellow disciples.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers,” Luke 22:31-32.

Jesus Christ, God made flesh, prayed to the Father, for Peter’s deliverance. His spiritual warfare prayer or deliverance prayer was addressed to God not to Satan. How much more should we follow His example of indirect confrontation?

Scripture teaches us how to have victory over the devil and it is by putting on the whole armor of God (Truth, Righteousness, Gospel of Peace, Faith, Salvation, and the Word of God). All these are aspects of consecration, obedience to and fellowship with God. The Lord uses our consecration and obedience to overturn Satan’s hold over matters in our lives and the lives of those we’ve been assigned to minister to – spiritually, socially, materially and physically. “We will be ready to punish every act of disobedience once (when) your obedience is complete,” 2 Corinthians 10:6 (emphasis added mine).

[This verse comes to mind: “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). (Click here for some pertinent marginal notes.) It doesn’t say attack him, rebuke him, etc. It simply says “resist” him – that’s all it takes – and he will flee from you.]

I know this is a hard pill to swallow but we must study saints of God. We may do things with good intentions but if we are not careful we can be walking in disobedience and error. May the Lord bless you and increase you in His knowledge.

PDCM

[Note – there are also many comments regarding this blog, at its original website.]

FOR FURTHER READING

HYMNS about biblically sound spiritual warfare:

Nethymnal list of hymns about spiritual warfare

Martin Luther, A Mighty Fortress is Our God

ARTICLES

HOW SPIRITUAL WARFARE SHOULD NOT BE PRACTICED:

Apologetics Index, Spiritual Warfare

Apologetics Index, Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare

Orrel Steinkamp, Spiritual Warfare Evangelism: How Did We Get Here?

HOW SPIRITUAL WARFARE SHOULD BE PRACTICED:

Eric Barger’s list of articles on spiritual warfare (true spiritual warfare and false spiritual warfare). Eric also sells additional resources (books and videos on spiritual warfare – see link below under BOOKS, VIDEOS.

BOOKS, VIDEOS

Kerby Anderson, A Biblical Point of View on Spiritual Warfare (many pages viewable online)

Clinton E. Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare (many pages viewable online)
———-, Powers of Darkness : A Thoughtful, Biblical Look at an Urgent Challenge Facing the Church
———-, Spiritual Warfare: What Does the Bible Really Teach?

Eric Barger and David Benoit, Disarming the Powers of Darkness: Fearless Conquerors in the Spiritual War (excerpts from each chapter viewable online)

Eric Barger’s list of books and videos on spiritual warfare (see also links under ARTICLES above)

Robert Dean and Thomas Ice, What the Bible Teaches About Spiritual Warfare (2000)(previously titled  Overrun by Demons: The Church’s New Preoccupation with the Demonic; many pages viewable online)

Chuck Lowe, Territorial Spirits and World Evangelisation?: A Biblical, Historical and Missiological Critique of Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare

Michael S. B. Reid, Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare: A Modern Mythology? (many pages viewable online; includes a bibliography)

Russell Sharrock, Spiritual Warfare: A Struggle for Truth (many pages viewable online; includes a bibliography)

Stand Up for the Truth discernment ministry’s list of articles discussing true and false spiritual warfare

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NOTE – The blog below is not my latest blog. To find more recent blogs, browse through the “Archives” section to the lower right.  ——>  ——>  ——>
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(revised 01/02/13)

I have posted many blogs covering occultish Spiritual Formation (specifically contemplative spirituality) and heretical Emerging/ Emergent teachings.  A number of Wesleyan Holiness denominations are increasingly teaching these heresies.

And, these Wesleyan Holiness denominations are taking part in a number of joint projects. There may be additional joint projects, but we are tracking the following:

Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA) ( note – these are prospective members – the Alliance is still in formation)
– UPDATE: press release describing 2012 meeting of GWA – 14 prospective members as of Dec. 2011, 18 as of Dec. 2012
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)
National Council of Churches (NCC)
Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (WHC) (producers of the Holiness Manifesto; 16+ denominations; for the official list of Participating Denominations click here)
WordAction curriculum (WA)(6 denominations)
World Methodist Council (WMC)

I am working on adding stats for each member denomination.  Also, I am adding links to articles showing how contemplative and Emerging/Emergent heresies are entering each denomination (some more than others).

Note: it is not my intent to “attack” Wesleyan Holiness denominations. On the contrary, I love what Wesleyan Holiness denominations used to stand for. Specifically,  a biblically sound theology which placed priority on the message of Calvary (John 3:16) and personal holiness (Rom. 12:1-2). And the rejection all unbiblical heretical teachings. The Wesleyan Holiness denominations of yesteryear fought modernism tooth and nail. Unlike today’s Wesleyan Holiness denominations listed below, they would have condemned today’s heresies of Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

I know what these Wesleyan Holiness denominations have lost. I am fighting (along with many others in counter-Emergent discernment ministries) to help these straying denominations hopefully return to a biblically sound theology, rejecting Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

If the denominations themselves reject correction (as is usually the case), we are encouraging members of these denominations to separate, to leave for biblically sound churches. I recommend Bro. David Cloud’s Independent Fundamentalist Baptist directory – particularly the “two-asterisk” and “three-asterisk”  churches – although these churches vary on some doctrines from fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness churches of approx. 1890-1942.

WESLEYAN HOLINESS DENOMINATIONS FALLING FOR EMERGING/EMERGENT HERESIES

nazarenelogo  Assemblies of God  – in NAE, WHC
2010 stats: 12,457 U.S. churches, 1,753,881 U.S. attenders
main Wikipedia article
Assemblies of God (AG) claims to oppose the NAR and other heretical movements, but recent AG activities show otherwise
Repost critiquing the heretical Alpha Course: “ALPHA: New Life or New Lifestyle?”, by Elizabeth McDonald (AG is a big promoter of the Alpha Course)

brethren in christ logo Brethren in Christ Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance– in WHC
Wikipedia article x
Christian & Missionary Alliance Workers will soon be learning Ancient Spiritual Disciplines (12/02/09)
a list of blogs exposing Spiritual Formation in the C&MA

 cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance – Canada – in WHC

Church of Christ Holiness USA – in GWA
Wikipedia article

churchofgodandersonlogo Church of God – Anderson (aka Church of God Ministries, Inc.) – in GWA, WHC
Wikipedia article

churchofgodclevelandlogoChurch of God – Cleveland – in WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoChurch of the Nazarene – – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
– Wikipedia article x
Reformed Nazarene website (provides many blogs and links exposing CotN involvement in heresies)

Churches of Christ in Christian Union – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Congregational Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

the evangelical church logo The Evangelical Church of North America – in GWA, WHC

Evangelical Friends Church International – in NAE, WA
my critique of the EFCI and EFC-ER
I have many blogs on my blogsite exposing heresies of the Evangelical Friends (and Quakers in general). Click here for a partial list of my blogs on the Evangelical Friends.
Wikipedia article

 Evangelical Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

Evangelical United Methodists – in WA

foursquare logo The Foursquare Church (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) – – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoFree Methodist Church USA – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo Grace Communion International – in NAE (joined 1997 as Worldwide Church of God), WHC
Wikipedia article

International Fellowship of Bible Churches – in GWA

ipchlogo International Pentecostal Holiness Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

The Methodist Protestant Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

The Missionary Church, Inc. – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Pilgrim Holiness Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo The Salvation Army – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC
Wikipedia article
Lighthouse Trails exposes The Salvation Army’s involvement in Spiritual Formation
– “A Simple Way to Begin the Day with Prayer” (Richard Foster, The War Cry, October 1985)
– Cory Harrison, Emergent Salvationism? (blog by an Emergent Salvation Army member)

shield of faith logo4   Shield of Faith – in WHC

united methodist logoUnited Methodist Church – in NAE (observer status), NCC, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

*** United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) – WARNING – Oneness Pentecostals; UPCI was in the WHC at one time, but as of 12/11/12 the UPCI is no longer listed as a member. Why was the UPCI allowed to become a member in the first place?
Wikipedia article

wesleyan church logo The Wesleyan Church – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

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Third Wave “Buzz Words & Terminology” (click here for the original source of this article)

Note – I have added some additional terms, in italics

“Angelic Visitations”
“Anna Anointing”
“Anointing”
“Apostles and Prophets”
“Apostolic Movement”
“Baptism of Fire” (Todd Bentley, etc.)
“Bloody Civil War”
“Breaking down strongholds in your city”
“Cloud of Witnesses” (Patricia King, etc.)
“Critical Spirit”
“Corporate Anointing”
“Corporate Church”
“Dominion”
“Dreams”
“Elijah Company”
“Elijah List”
“Fault Finding Spirit”
“Five Fold Ministry”
“Fourth Dimension Faith”
“Fresh Fire” (Todd Bentley, etc.)
“Gate Keepers”
“General Assembly”
“Generational Spirits”
“Glory Cloud”
“Harp and Bowl”
“Identificational Repentance”
“International Houses of Prayer” (IHOP)
“Jezebel Spirit”
“Joel’s Army”
“Jump in the River”
“Kingdom Principles”
“Latter Rain”
“Liquid Fire”
“Lighthouse Movement”
“Manchild Company”
“Manifestation of the Sons of God”
“Manifest Sons of God”
“New Apostolic Reformation”
“New Breed”
“New Order”
“Old Order”
“Overcomers”
“Overshadowing”
“Prayer Walking”
“Prophetic Acts”
“Receive your Miracle”
“Religious Spirit”
“Remitting the sins of nations”
“Revelation Knowledge”
“River of Revival”
“Seven Mountains Mandate”
“Seven Mountains Mantle”
“Signs, Wonders and Miracles”
“Saul Spirit”
“Soaking Music”
“Soaking Prayer”
“Spirit Man”
“Spiritual Mapping”
“Spiritual Warfare”
“Strategic Level Intercession”
“Strategic Level Prophetic Intercession”
“Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare”
“Strategic Spiritual Warfare”
“Tearing Down Strongholds”
“Territorial Spirits”
“The Anointing”
“Third Day Anointing”
“Third Heaven Visitation”
“Third Wave”
“Third Wave of the Holy Spirit”
“Transformation”
“Visions”
“Warfare Prayer”

NEW AGE Terms Used by Church Growth Leaders – What do these terms really mean? You Decide!

REMEMBER, “Virtually every Single theological heresy always begins with a misconception of who GOD is” (His nature & His Attributes – Communicable and Incommunicable)

Kingdom Now/Dominion Theology

The basic premise of “KINGDOM THEOLOGY” is that man lost “DOMINION” over the earth when Adam and Eve succumbed to Satan’s temptation in the Garden of Eden. God “LOST CONTROL” of the earth to Satan at that time, and has since been looking for a “COVENANT PEOPLE” who will be His “EXTENSION” or “EXPRESSION” in the earth and take “DOMINION” back from Satan. This is to be accomplished through certain “OVERCOMERS” who, by yielding themselves to the authority of God’s “APOSTLES AND PROPHETS” for the “KINGDOM AGE,” will take control of the kingdoms of this world. These kingdoms are defined as all social, political, economic and military institutions as we know today. These “OVERCOMERS” have the power to believe for and speak into existence things that are not, and thus bring about the “KINGDOM AGE” before Jesus Christ can return to planet earth. There is no “Rapture” in Kingdom Theology, so there is no “Second Coming of Jesus” until “THE KINGDOM” has been established by the Church under the direction of the “SUPER APOSTLES AND PROPHETS.” Some of these “OVERCOMERS” will have become “IMMORTAL” having already attained what is called “RESURRECTION LIFE.” “WILLIAM BRANHAM” was perhaps the “GREATEST PROPHET” in Kingdom Theology and “WORD-FAITH” Theology. He was a proponent of “IMPARTATION,” imparting or passing on the Holy Spirit to people through the “LAYING ON OF HANDS.” Branham denied the Biblical, Orthodox view of the Trinity attributing it to the devil. Instead, he taught a form of Modalism: That God is only one person who “MANIFESTED” himself as three different attributes: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “Jesus Christ was a perfect manifestation of God the Father.” (Earl Paulk) One manner in which the “APOSTLES AND PROPHETS” will receive these “NEW REVELATIONS” will be through communication with heavenly beings (angels and departed saints), as well as with God and specifically Jesus. It’s expected that many of these “NEW REVELATIONS” will be authenticated through demonstrations of power in the working of “MIRACLES, SIGNS AND WONDERS.” Emphasis on “DIVINE HEALTH,” WEALTH,” and the ability to “SPEAK THINGS INTO EXISTENCE.” (GOD-LIKENESS) Man is a “god” and, as such, must exercise his or her “godhood” through “DOMINION.”

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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

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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

Home


“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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