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ON A COLLISION COURSE
Bible-believing Christians likely to be persecuted
In previous editions of "Mainstream" we covered progressively such topics as the false "spirit of love", the laugh-ing manifestations of Rodney Howard Browne, and then his connections to the Toronto Airport Vineyard Fellowship and its supposed renewal, followed by examples of how this teaching is becoming more and more doctrinally strange, with distinct "manifested sons" overtones.
In the Spring issue we looked at the birth that is being predicted amongst hard-core revivalists. This spiritual birth, seen in Christian circles as the formation of a new and powerful Body fit to rule the nations, is identical to the New-Age spiritual transformation through christ-consciousness.
The doctrine of transformation and the doctrine of redemption are now on a collision course. As events roll on towards their predicted end, they gather pace and make it difficult for us to catch our breath. Now, those who are new to the ideas of dominion, new-age and manifested sons are floundering because they do not understand the context in which the new doctrines are preached.
(It might be added that many who stopped their ears at the exposition of kingdom-dominion teaching in the past and who decided to stay in restoration churches, have now had a rude awakening. They begin to see where it is leading. But they have little real understanding of the false teachings and have to catch up quickly in order to grasp what is to come.)
However, God is merciful and anyone who is exercising the discernment of the Holy Spirit and is willing to know the truth will at the very least have alarm bells ringing by now. Sadly, the number of Christians listening to those warning bells is very small.
Since it is not possible to cover old ground in every new edition of Main-stream, we now have to move on to the next phase of development - the formation of the New World Order, and the emergence of the Spiritual Man.
In looking at the agenda laid down for the Christian Church, one can hardly miss seeing the similarities with secular plans. Teachings coming from other religions, from new-agers, politicians, globalists and various occult groups are almost identical to current speculation about the coming Christian revival and its effects. On the other hand, comparisons with the infallible word of God tell a different story. The God-breathed scriptures of Christianity contradict all these secular and religious ideals and present Jesus Christ alone as Saviour, Lord, Messiah and King of the coming new world.
Only the Bible stands out as unique in its message and content. It preaches man's inability to save himself or his world; the futility of good works; salvation in Christ alone; separation from the world and from error; a heavenly kingdom and a heavenly hope; and the eventual destruction of this present earth and the judgement of all that is contrary to God's will.
The doctrine of transformation and the doctrine of redemption are now on a collision course. One proposes that man can be educated, reformed and empowered to save himself and his environment; the other teaches that man is helpless, and needs a Saviour. It is the god of this world who is seeking by man-power to preserve and transform his domain; while our omniscient Creator knows that this world's downward spiral will only be halted by His dramatic intervention.
"THE THREE R's"
The present stage of development, (the penultimate stage before the manifestation of the "sons of god" as spiritual rulers of the restored Earth) is one that I would sum up as "The Three R's". This is not the classic three R's of reading, writing and arithmetic. It is the three R's of Christian restoration - Repentance, Reconciliation and Revival.
Already there will be howls of protest as, quite naturally, believers say "so what's wrong with THAT!?" But we must stop being so naive as to think that biblical terms are sacrosanct and cannot be degraded. Today, such terms have become a parody of their true biblical meaning, and this forces us to examine the context for their use.
Repentance in the Bible means turning away from sin towards God (Ezek 33:11/Acts 3:19/26:20). It is a private heart-transaction between fallen man and perfect Saviour. But today it can mean apologising to your elders for disagreeing with them, or bursting into tears publicly over your lack of self-esteem.
Reconciliation, according to the word of God, means that Jesus has reunited us with the Father, because of his perfect sacrifice on the Cross. (Heb 2:17) "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18). But today, instead of bringing together man and God, the ministry of reconciliation seeks to unite differing groups, nations, cultures and creeds.
Revival, according to the scriptures is a sovereign and merciful act of God in bringing to life something that was dead. Since only God gives life, this cannot be the work of man. (Hab 3:2 / Isa 57:15) "Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" Ps 85:6.
Revival only figures in the Bible as a restoration from a state of sin and judgement. It does not appear in the New Testament at all, for Christians already have the life-giving Holy Spirit and should be walking in life as a daily experience. (I Jn 5:12/Rom 5:17/2 Tim 1:10) "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." (Rom 8:10).
But today's revival, as we shall see, is not even a matter of receiving the life-giving word of the gospel and being converted. It is a spiritual force sent out to affect people's bodies and minds; influencing them to join the Church.
REPENTANCE UNDER SCRUTINY
Let's examine the Three R's in detail. Firstly repentance which will, I believe, take centre stage in the next wave of deception, creating an aura of holiness and contrition that will be almost impossible to rebut.
Nobody likes to question repentance. Indeed, some of it may well be heartfelt and genuine. As with all deception there will be a mixture and we need to be careful not to harm those who truly repent of sin and turn to Jesus as Saviour.
The following remarks should not be taken as a blanket rejection of all modern-day repentance and confession. But we do need to be prepared to oppose the counterfeit.
As I hinted in the Winter 1994 edition of Mainstream, a counterfeit repentance is commanded for those who will not yield to the new anointing. If you question it, you are "in rebellion" and should "repent" of your supposed critical and judgemental attitudes.
"Unity" is the keyword. This tends to mean, in practice, an uncritical acceptance of the doctrines of the new order.
The ground of this unity is experiential, not doctrinal. We are all supposed to come together in love and harmony, forgetting doctrinal differences - but there is no love for dissenters to the plan. All who stand outside are branded hard-hearted Pharisees, old-order renegades, anti-anointing people, disruptive, divisive and a hindrance to the work of God.
When we examine new-age literature, we see the same attitude towards dissenters. They are a destructive cancer in the world Body: "The surgeon dare leave no cancer in the body when he closes up the wound after a delicate operation. We dare leave no self-centredness on Earth after the selection process...All humans whose acts, intentions and desires are primarily self-centred, those who are not able to experience their Higher Self, and those who do not love God, neighbour or self, do not evolve to the next phase of earth-life. (B. Marx-Hubbard, "Revelation" pp 231, 245).
To be ruled by self, according to the new-agers, is to be unwilling to harmonise with all peoples and all beliefs. For instance, proclaiming Jesus as the only Way of salvation would be seen as an act of hatred and division.
Individuality and independence are anathema to the engineers of the new world. The goal is all mankind thinking, moving and acting as One.
As in the world, so in the Church - UNITY is the motivating force. We must smoothe over doctrinal disagreements, brush disputes under the carpet, stop examining teaching, and simply agree to unite "for the sake of the kingdom".
Church leaders today want to "build bridges". But when they are prepared to accept unbiblical teaching and practice for the sake of unity, they have gone "a bridge too far".
PUBLIC CONFESSION - the dangers
One way to achieve unity and harmony is to introduce confession sessions where participants publicly announce their failures. This is a technique often used in cults. It is both a therapy for guilt-stricken members, and a useful monitoring device for the leaders.
In cults, the goal is to conform. Anyone who is having doubts is pounded with guilt-inducing ministry until they feel like a traitor to the community and its ideals. They end up convinced they have failed; they feel rejected, estranged from the community, and desperately in need of affection. At this point, to publicly admit their "failures" is a tremendous emotional release.
In today's lonely society where feelings cannot easily be shared and many Christ-ians struggle with secret sins, public con-fession brings with it an emotional catharsis that is almost ecstatic.
In the book written out of the experience of the Welsh Revival, "War On the Saints" by J. Penn-Lewis in association with Evan Roberts, counterfeit confession of sin is dealt with in a paragraph titled Compulsory Confession of Sin:
"...confessions instigated by deceiving spirits may be recognised by their compulsory character. The man is forced to confess sin, and oftentimes sins which have no existence except in the accusations of the enemy. As it does not dawn on him that evil spirits will push a man to do what looks like the most meritorious thing, and which the Scriptures declare is the one condition for obtaining forgiveness, he yields to the drive upon him, simply to get relief. Herein lies the danger of widespread "confessions of sin" during times of Revival, when almost a "wave" of "confessions" passes over a community and the depths of sinful lives are exposed to the gaze of others... true confession of sin should come from deep conviction, and not compulsion and should be made only to God if the sin is one only known by God; to man personally and in private when the sin is against man; and in public only when the sin is against the public. Confession should never be made under the impulse of any compulsory emotion, but should be the deliberate act of the volition (will); choosing the right, and the putting of things right, according to the will of God." (War On The Saints, unabridged version p 133)
In the same book, there is a striking account of a evil spirit mimicking the process of confession. This illustrates just how difficult it is to spot the counterfeit; but notice how the discerning Christians had an uneasiness that alerted them to the fact that it was not the Holy Spirit at work. They were not prepared to let an evil spirit mislead them:
"I united with a number of brethren and sisters one whole week every month, in prayer to God to pour out more of His Spirit, gifts and power. After having done this for some time with great earnestness, such powerful and wonderful manifestations of God and the Holy Spirit (apparently) took place that we no longer doubted God had heard our prayer, and His Spirit had descended into our midst, and on our gathering.
"Amongst other things this spirit, which we thought to be the Holy Spirit, used a fifteen-year old girl as his instrument, through whom everyone belonging to our gathering and having any sin or burden of conscience, had it revealed to the gathering. Nobody could remain in the meeting with any burden of conscience without it being revealed to the meeting by the spirit.
"For example: A gentleman of esteem and respect from the neighbourhood came to the meeting, and all his sins were exposed in the presence of the gathering by the fifteen-year-old girl. Thereupon he took me into an adjoining room, so broken down, and admitted to me with tears that he had committed all these sins which the girl had exposed. He confessed this and all other sins known to him. Then he came again into the meeting, but hardly had he entered when the same voice said to him, "Ha! You have not confessed all yet, you have stolen 10 guilden that you have not confessed". In consequence, he took me again into the adjoining room and said, "It is true, I have also done this" ...this man had never seen this girl in his life, neither she him.
"With such events, was it astonishing that a spirit of holy awe came over all at the meeting... And yet we had to unmask this spirit which had brought about these things - and which we took to be the Holy Ghost - as a terrible power of darkness. I had such an uneasy feeling of distrust which could not be overcome...as I made this known for the first time to an older brother and friend...he said "Brother Seltz, if you continue to foster unbelief, you can commit the sin against the Holy Ghost which will never be forgiven".
"These were terrible days and hours for me, because I did not know whether we had to do with the power of God or a disguised spirit of Satan, and only one things was clear to me, viz. that I and this meeting should not let ourselves be led by a spirit when we did not have clear light, and confirmation whether this power was from above or below.
"Thereupon, I took the leading brethren and sisters to the uppermost room of the house and made known to them my position, and said we must all cry and pray that we might be able to prove whether it was a power of light or darkness. As we came downstairs the voice of this power said, using the 15-year old girl as his instrument "What is this rebellion in your midst? You will be sorely punished for your unbelief".
"I told this voice that it was true that we did not know with whom we had dealings. But we wanted to be in that attitude, that if it was an angel of God, or the Spirit of God, we would not sin against Him, but if it was a devil we would not be deceived by him. "If you are a power of God, you will be in accord as we handle the Word of God: 'Try the spirits whether they be of God'".
"We all knelt down and cried and prayed to God in such earnestness that He would have mercy on us and reveal to us in some manner whom we had dealings with. Through the person which he had been using as an instrument, he made such abominable and terrible grimaces and shrieked in such a piercing tone: 'Now I am found out, now I am found out...'"
RELEASE, BUT NOT RENEWAL
Other important questions are raised by the account (in the May 15th issue of "Christianity Today") headed "Spiritual Renewal Sweeps Schools", subtitled "Spirit of confession and joy spreads across campuses".
Reading this account gave me a deep sense of unease. While I would love to believe that true conviction from the Holy Spirit and a new walk with God is gripping university students by the thousand, I remain unconvinced for the following reasons:
The focus does not seem to have been on conviction of offending a holy God, nor on receiving the forgiveness of God. According to this report at least, it seems to have been about sharing hurts and struggles with others, in order to gain a sense of release, freedom and acceptance.
One girl says "I have never felt such freedom. I now know IT'S ALL RIGHT, that they ACCEPT ME AS I AM. People are glad to find out I am not a perfect person"
Another says "There's lots of hurt, and no place for the hurt to come out. The revival gave people the chance to say, 'THIS IS WHO I AM'"
The areas brought up for healing by confession were often psychological and students were looking for comfort from rejection, low self-esteem, and family disfunction.
The emphasis was on person-to-person reconciliation, with a picture of a rugby-scrum of students hugging eachother in prayer.
The setting for confessions was always public (often by use of a microphone in front of the whole assembly), and the report began by saying one girl was unsure which was worse, harbouring the secret of her lost virginity or confessing moral failure before an audience of her peers.
One reason put forward for the struggles of students was "over-individualised" faith (just me and God) and the lack of a Church or small group in which to confess sins on a regular basis. The report says that as a result, Campus communities are now implementing plans to set up accountability groups [=shepherding].
A "new vision for the world and for the awakening of the Church" was one result of this revival according to David Howard, former director of Intervarsity's Urbana missions conventions.
However convincing these scenes of tearful repentance, let us not be moved off the solid ground of scripture. Emotional release is not the same as spiritual clean-sing. A loving hug from your classmates is not the same as the forgiveness of God. However much others are prepared to understand your failings and "accept you as you are" that is not GOD'S way. He requires a conviction of having offended Him, and a change of life.
Apart from anything else, I am particularly concerned to see the Roman understanding of Confession coming back into Protestant communities. Those who hold to a biblical faith know that confession is a private matter between the believer and God. As David says "against thee, thee only have I sinned".
Confession to others opens up the distinct possibility of a breach of confidence. If you confess your sins to another person, how sure are you that it will not be gossiped about behind your back, or used against you in the future? God is absolutely trustworthy. He would NEVER reveal your confessed sins to ANYONE. How many of your friends can you trust that absolutely? (Be honest!)
Take the example of the girl student in the above report who decided to admit her loss of virginity in front of the meeting. What could she expect from those who heard her confession? Possibly the sympathy of those who had done the same thing - they will feel relieved not to be the only ones. Then perhaps the understanding of those who feel tempted but haven't yet succumbed to the same sin. There will be some who are whispering "Oh, yes, I always thought as much!", and later these will gossip to their friends about it. Add to this the secret condemnation of people who can never accept weakness in others, and you have a mixed bag of reactions, none of which provides the biblical answer to this poor girl's sin.
Above all, those listening people are in no position to offer her forgiveness for her sin.
We are all sinners! We all have temptations! But we deal with them by a process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. When we stumble, we take our offences to God alone. There, we receive his forgiveness and his strength to withstand sin. No human being can give you this! "Who can forgive sins but God only?" (Mark 2:7)
Confession to a priest or other person is not scriptural. The verse commonly used to support it (James 5:16) actually refers to admitting your faults [a different Greek word entirely] to those whom you have offended.
The Rev A. Hislop in his book "The Two Babylons" (p.9) points out that the Roman system of confession actually comes from the Babylonian Mysteries.
"The clerical power of the Roman priesthood culminated in the erection of the confessional. That confessional itself was borrowed from Babylon. The confession required of the votaries of Rome is entirely different from the confession prescribed in the word of God. The dictate of scripture in regard to confession is "confess your faults one to another" (Jas 5:16) which implies that a priest should confess to the people, as well as the people to the priest, if either sins against the other. This could never have served the purpose of spiritual despotism; and therefore Rome, leaving the word of God, has had recourse to the Babylonian system. In that system, secret confession to the priest...was required of all who were admitted to the "Mysteries"; and until such confession had been made, no complete initiation could take place.
"....the pretense under which this auricular confession was required was that the solemnities to which the initiated were to be admitted were so high, so heavenly, so holy, that no man with guilt lying on his conscience and sin unpurged could lawfully be admitted to them. But...who can fail to see that this was nothing more than a pretense; that the grand object in requiring the candidates for initiation to make confession to the priest of all their secret faults and shortcomings and sins, was just to put them entirely in the power of those to whom the innermost feelings of their souls and their most important secrets were confided?"
When in doubt, or under emotional pressure at a meeting to confess your sins, remember the golden rule as prescribed by Jessie Penn-Lewis:
if the sin is towards God alone, confess in private to God. [Ezra 10:11/ Ps 41:4] "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest". (Ps 51:4)
if the sin involved offending another person or persons, apologise privately to those affected. [James 5:16] "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift". (Matt 5:23-24)
if the sin is against the general public, a public apology could be made. Even then, it should be AFTER confession is made to God and His forgiveness has been obtained. "And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the LORD God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me. And Achan answered Joshua, and said, Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done: (Josh 7:19-20)
We also need to ask ourselves some vital questions before launching out into public displays of repentance. Questions like:
what am I seeking most? The forgiveness of God or the acceptance and understanding of fellow-believers?
am I really seeking the cleansing that comes from God, or the relief that comes from admitting my faults?
do I want to be reconciled to God, or to my friends?
is my guilt genuine? Is it the result of the Spirit's quiet conviction in my heart, or the pressure from others to conform to an ideal of unity and personal reconciliation?
Peace with others begins with peace with God. Emotional relief is not enough to heal the wounds caused by sin: "They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace". (Jer 6:14)
The call for national repentance blurs the edges between the sort of confession meeting described above and the concept of reconciliation, discussed in the next section.
One-to-one reconciliation (often called repentance) is required to align sheep with their shepherds and to keep order in the ranks. Unconditional unity is the driving force behind such repentance. Veteran Spring Harvest speaker, Alex Buchanan, described it as "a rehearsal for the rule and reign of Jesus on earth" and he said such reconciliation was vital "at a time when open treachery is rampant, with junior leaders often in open rebellion against their seniors" (Are you now a TRAITOR when you disagree with an elder? A traitor to whom? To what??)
He was commenting on a meeting led by evangelist Ed Silvoso at Spring Harvest. "Renewal" magazine described the scenes that followed his talk as "poignant" with people of opposing nations and cultures hugging and asking forgiveness for their nation's wrongs.
Ed Silvoso is a leading figure in the battle to take cities by strategic spiritual warfare. (eg, see Peter Wagner's book "Warfare prayer" pp30-31). He is also key speaker at this July's "Cities For God" meetings across the UK, with at least 60 cities already booked to participate. Silvoso majors on "prayer evangelism" in order to reach whole cities for Christ, but once again he sees UNITY as vital for this scheme to succeed.
National repentance is now a important element in the plans for bringing in the kingdom. Ed Silvoso says "the biblical command is for us to be reconciled with one another, person to person, family to family and country to country".
He gave no bible reference for this command. But perhaps a hint might be drawn from a statement by Dr. Ralph Davies, church relations manager of Operation Mobilisation. In an article in the same issue of Renewal (July 95) he says that the word "blessing" as it occurs "in the Genesis version of the Great Commission implies a relationship, a bringing into one family of people from every tribe and tongue and people." The bible quotes he gives are all referring to the Abrahamic Promise: "in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed". (Gen 26:4)
This promise found its fulfillment in Christ who was the Seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16) thus in Christ men and women of every nation can know the blessing of Abraham. "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham". (Gal 3:7-9)
The only family created by the promise to Abraham, in this day and age, is the Family of God, consisting of born-again believers.
The Great Commission of the New Testament confirms this fact, as demonstrated in the sermon of Peter at Pentecost. (Acts 2:14-40). He preached the death and resurrection of Christ as the hope of all men and when they responded "what shall we do?" he replied "Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." This promise was to "as many as the Lord shall call".
But individual conversion is no longer the aim. The new leadership of the Church sets its sights higher and aims to claim the whole earth, for God promised Abraham the nations as his heritage they say.
Howard Snyder, writing in "Kingdom Lifestyle" (p.30) points to Old Testament scriptures about the Promised Land. He notes that this Land was given to God's people as their inheritance, Acts 13:19. Then, in a neat twist, he says that because the Greek word for "land" and "earth" are the same (GE) the Promised Land of the Old Testament means the whole earth in the kingdom of God. Thus the promised inheritance is now this physical earth! Snyder claims that the earth has been redeemed by God from its fallen state and that we should expect to see its transformation making it an "actual physical environment" for the followers of Christ.
But Peter at Pentecost does not preach the transformation of this world. On the contrary, he says "save yourselves from this untoward generation" (verse 40) The Commission was to call "whosoever will" to become a member of the heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ "Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father" (Gal 1:4)
Nevertheless, the new understanding of evangelism has more to do with blessing people than saving them!
Freedom, justice, peace, a sustainable economy, food for all, good health, housing - these are the blessings the new evangelists plan to extend to the nations of the world. None of these things is wrong in itself, and we applaud any attempt to improve living standards or to promote peace and understanding between peoples. However, they are not an alternative to the gospel of salvation in Christ!
We now need to examine the current interest in "reconciliation" - a word which is likewise suffering degradation.
Reconciliation is the latest buzz word! You can hardly pick up any literature without bumping into it. Taking a rest from Christian reading, I flicked open the excellent political review "Freedom Today" and my eyes instantly fixed on the sentence "another word that seems to be obligatory for any pronouncement on the situation (in Northern Ireland) is 'reconciliation'. A number of people use the word simply to get a round of applause..."
I have counted dozens of instances of this word appearing in the Christian press. Reconciliation, along with repentance, followed by revival seem to be the words of the moment. And if a message received from a member of Rick Joyner's Morning Star prophetic movement is to be believed, the call for reconciliation has "gone forth to the Church" in the form of prophecy. Too much of the doctrine of revival is based on words from the self-ordained apostles and prophets of the latter-rain movement. That it has taken root so quickly and so universally speaks realms about their influence in the Church.
In this same message mentioned above, alongside the prophetic call for reconciliation, (and seemingly without any awareness of the incongruity of what he is saying), the supporter of Morning Star Ministry predicts "violent division" like a tornado "tearing the Church asunder" as many church members and leaders oppose the revival to come and call it demonic. He does so on the basis of prophecies by Paul Cain, Rick Joyner and the wife of Mahesh Chavda.
So here we have the same thought that also underlies false repentance: those who are willing to set aside all differences and unite on the basis of a touchy-feely religion of "love" and "goodwill" will be reconciled to one another and dwell in harmony. On the other hand, the fate awaiting those who oppose the revival is exclusion from the Body by a violent division.
This situation is an inevitable result of adopting unbiblical beliefs about the role of reconciliation in global transformation.
RECONCILING ALL PEOPLES - THE STORY SO FAR:
Global Consultation on World Evangelism (GCOWE 95) organised by AD2000 and Beyond. Held in June 1995 in Seoul, Sth Korea, home of David Yonggi Cho. Statement by Luis Bush (International Director) titled "Prayer for World Evangeliszation":
"Prayer will be offered up for a reconciliation of God's people between countries, races, and ethnic people on behalf of a fractured world, and between Christian organizations, denominations, global move-ments, countries, and regions of the world".
Campus Crusade meeting held in Orlando, 5-7th December 94, for over 700 leaders including founder Bill Bright, Jack Hayford and C. Peter Wagner. Theme of repentance in order to heal the land (2 Chron 7:14). Scenes of tears, unity and reconciliation. Bill Bright asked African pastor Carlton Pearson to forgive whites for the abuses and prejudices of the past.
Spring Harvest UK. May 1995 Three-week event attended by an estimated 70,000 people. Many streamed forward after a talk by Ed Silvoso to ask forgiveness for their nation's wrongdoings.
DAWN Congress Conference, Royal Centre, Nottingham. Speaker David Yonggi Cho. Acts of repentance and reconciliation took place between many leaders - emphasis on unity. 1,000 leaders from many different denominations taking part.
Pope John Paul II plans to mark the Jubilee of the year 2000 with a joint celebration by Christian, Jew and Muslims in the Holy Land. The Pope asked for forgiveness for "wrongdoings done to non-Catholics" at a canonisation Mass in the Czech Republic in May 1995.
Catholic Charismatic Renewal Conference, Birmingham, August 1994. Lay people repented of hurting the priests by criticising them. Fr. David Keniry then apologised on behalf of priests who hurt the people. This was followed by a surge of hugs, kisses and tears. Reconciliation and unity were the themes of the Conference, titled "Call To Glory!".
Church of Scotland Assembly in May,1994. Cardinal Thomas Winning, the leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics, was an invited speaker. The Cardinal used reconciliation and unity as the theme of his address, holding out a vision of an assembly of all Scottish Christians and "people of goodwill" to celebrate the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.
"A Walk Of Reconciliation" to promote better understanding between Christians, Muslims and Jews. Organised by YWAM with AD2000. Identificational repentance called for in order to purge the corporate sin of Christians during the Crusades. Lynn Green states, "It is my hope and prayer that this proposed project will result in substantial reconciliation between the major monotheistic faiths".
The Healing of America's Wounds. A report in AD200 Prayer Track News: "When Jean Steffenson, President of the Native American Chapter of the Reconciliation Coalition, was talking to Kay Hiramine at the Global Harvest Ministries Office, the subject of the National Congress of American Indians came up. Jean mentioned that she was planning to attend, and Kay said, "Why not present them with a plaque asking forgiveness for our sins against them" This was done. The inscription included the words "for religious zeal without wisdom which hurt you and slandered the character of God...we offer our apology and ask for forgiveness. We believe that the peoples of earth have all been created with the purpose of worshipping the Creator uniquely".
Spirit Alive Victory Camp, which brought together native Americans from all over the States and Canada in May 1995. Bunny Hill, pastor of Yardeka Indian Baptist Church, OK, said "The US sees us just as Indians, but we see eachother as separate entities. We want to bring this reconciliation message nation to nation. We want to see revival..."
Books written by such authors as Howard Snyder (major speaker at the 1974 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation) and Colin Marchant, (President of the Baptist Union in 1988/89) spell out the belief in "Shalom" for the world and the coming World Sabbath or "Jubilee".
Howard Snyder in "Kingdom Lifestyle" says "in all of scripture the history of God's economy or plan is to restore a fallen creation and their total environment". This plan - God's "shalom" (peace) - he describes in terms of harmony, right relationship and the proper functioning of all the elements of the environment, as epitomised by the Garden of Eden. At heart, he says, this "shalom" is "full cosmic reconciliation" (p.19)
It is not a heavenly hope, but an earthly one, according to Snyder. "The ideal is man and woman living at home on the land (the earth) in an environment of balance, harmony and mutual dependence...God promises his people a secure, peaceful physical environment where they can live forever" (p.29)
The shalom of the world, therefore is to be achieved in the Christian Church by "building a peaceful community and becoming agents of God's shalom in the world". Snyder teaches that Christians must work towards the goal of "one human family" across the earth where "resources are shared freely across racial and national boundaries" (p.41)
Colin Marchant in his book "Shalom My Friends" also explains Shalom as the "restoration of the conditions of Paradise", and says that "for Christians this universal Shalom has dawned in the coming of the Prince of Peace". In familiar kingdom-dominion terminology he describes the Church, as God's earthly government and rule, extending shalom to all mankind.
Christians are on "a pilgrimage" towards ultimate perfection. Hope for the future is "not escapism" he warns.(p.141) For all preachers of worldly "shalom" the transformation of this earth is the ultimate goal.
Salvation, in this teaching, is merely a stepping stone to the restoration and trans-formation of mankind and the earth. It is a means to an end.
Evangelism, therefore, becomes a matter of teaching peace, reconciliation and harmony on earth, that the fruits of Christ's work can be put into effect on a global scale. "God's chosen people, [are] called and empowered to a stewardship... of caring for the earth and serving as agents of reconciliation to bring all creation back to God." (Snyder "Kingdom Lifestyle" p.39) "We are his peacemakers in the world. We are to announce the peace of forgiveness and regeneration and also the peace throughout all creation which flows from the reconciling work of Jesus". (Snyder, Ibid p.23)
The fall of man and the corruption of nature are increasingly seen as REVERSIBLE. Albert M. Wolters, Professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer College, Ontario, and lecturer at the Institute of Christian Studies in Toronto, is another author who points to the coming Shalom of the world.
Writing in his 1985 book, "Creation Regained - a transforming view of the world", Wolters says that "evil is not inherent in the human condition" (p.51) and therefore whatever is fallen can be restored. He teaches that God sacrificed Jesus in order to "salvage his original project" of an Edenic paradise governed by man. In Jesus, he says, man is given "another chance" - "we are reinstated as God's managers of the earth. The original good creation is to be restored." (p.58) "The only thing redemption adds that is not included in the creation is the remedy for sin, and that remedy is brought in solely for the purpose of recovering a sinless creation...the scope of redemption is "truly cosmic".. ''all things' are drawn into the mutiny of the human race and its enmity toward God, and their strained relations with the Creator must be patched up, brought once more into HARMONY with him. The scope of redemption is as great as that of the Fall: it embraces creation as a whole".(p.59)
So the concept of harmony and reconciliation, both personal and national, is taught as one step in the process of transformation. As Howard Snyder teaches "at the very center of this design is personal reconciliation...but within the circle one perceives a cosmic plan for the reconciliation of all things. If there were a formula, perhaps it would be: God in Christ reconciling the whole creation to himself, and his action through the Church is central to his plan." (p.25 "Community of The King" 1977)
It is believed by some that this Great Commission can be completed by the year 2000. Read this statement by Peter Wagner, Co-ordinator of AD2000, possibly the most significant influence on Church evangelism today.
"The AD 2000 United Prayer Track believes that the primary battle for completing the Great Commission is a spiritual battle which is being fought in the heavenlies. Modern military strategy looks to a successful air war to open the way for the ground troops to occupy and conquer. Preceding the air war, accurate intelligence is necessary to provide the coordinates of the strategic targets. Spiritually speaking, we see strategic-level intercession as the air war, and spiritual mapping as the required espionage. No part of warfare prayer targeted toward fulfilling the Great Commission is more crucial than identificational repentance. The Prayer Track senses that the Spirit is saying to the churches that 1996 is to be a year for universal, well-informed identificational repentance throughout the Body of Christ. All of 1996, but particularly October, will see huge numbers of prayer expeditions in virtually every nation of the world, organized around the desire to say, as Nehemiah said, 'My father's house and I have sinned'." (Neh. 1;6).
WALK OF RECONCILIATION
"The evolution that is now occurring liberates humanity to fulfil its collective potential - to move from our feelings of separation and fear, to unity and love. From this new place, we can work together to solve the problems of the world..." (New Ager B. Marx Hubbard, Rings of Empowerment p.45)
In a proposal written by C. Lynn Green (Youth With A Mission) with an Introduction by C. Peter Wagner, AD 2000 United Prayer Track, we see an elaborate scheme for identificational repentance in a Walk of Reconciliation, which would retrace the old routes taken by the Crusaders.
C.Peter Wagner writes:
"Arguably the most massive challenge for identificational repentance for Christianity as a whole is the cumulative, corporate sin of the medieval Crusades. I join Lynn Green in the deep conviction that unless the sins of Christians committed in the Crusades are remitted through the blood of Jesus Christ, barriers to sharing the love of God with precious Muslims and Jews will remain as high as they have been throughout history."
The Prayer Track is calling 1996 the year to "Heal the Land," and Lynn Green of the European and Middle east YWAM office located in England has agreed to serve as the co-ordinator of what he is calling the 'Reconciliation Walk'.
The Walk would be inaugurated with a simple ceremony in Clermont Ferrand in France's Massif Central on November 27, 1995. This would mark the 900th anniversary of Pope Urban's first call to arms. Then, in the spring of 1996 walkers could begin to travel from Cologne, Germany up the Rhine and down the Danube, thus retracing the footsteps taken by the first Crusade exactly 900 years earlier. The geographical goal would be to reach Istanbul by the autumn of 1996. During the last quarter of that year and throughout 1997 and 1998, hundreds of small groups of followers of Jesus Christ could be encouraged to walk through Turkey, the Syria and Lebanon, retracing the many routes taken by the Crusaders.
The culmination of this Walk of Reconciliation, writes Lynn Green, ought to be a service of Jews, Muslims and Christians within the walls of Jerusalem on July 1999.
(The Pope has also announced plans to hold meetings of the three faiths in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and on Mt Sinai in 1999. And in an identical campaign of identificational repentance, by the year 1996 he wants to publish a humble confession of the sins of his own Church over the past 2000 years, including the Inquisition.)
The YWAM Walk of Reconciliation also involves spiritual warfare to end the atmosphere of mistrust in the Middle East: "There is a spiritual dimension to this alienation of peoples. Much innocent blood has been shed...It is very likely that the current atmosphere of enmity is partly a result of the sins of the past generations. Prayers for God's forgiveness could help overcome misunderstanding and mistrust".
Lynn Green sees the sin of the Crusaders as failing to show God's love to those of other religions. "The 900th anniversary of the dreadful events of the First Crusade presents Christ's followers with an opportunity to express remorse and to explain the life and message of Jesus by other means: "love your neighbor."
"We also need to take the time to understand those who follow the teaching of the Prophet Mohammed, and to listen to their perspectives and beliefs. There was a time when many people in the western nations were desperately afraid of all communists. That fear contributed to an era of great hostility. These days, there is a very real danger that the fear of Islam could become equally a part of the greatest threat to world peace.
"As a committed Christian, my prayer is that it will also open the door for peaceful dialogue so that Christians might better understand and accept both Jews and Muslims; and that the millions of followers of Islam and Judaism might see more clearly Jesus Christ in His followers."
It is hoped that those who read this newsletter will realise how misguided such projects are. Here is a dream that we can create a climate of harmony, both in the heavenlies and on earth, such that all peoples will live in peace and unity. Sadly, the bubble of this utopian dream will soon be pricked, as the events leading to Armageddon run their inevitable course. What greater proof could there be of the futility of manmade reconciliation than the prophecies of the Book of Revelation?
THE THIRD 'R' - REVIVAL
In the magazine "Spirit of Faith" (Jan 1991 issue) Swedish Word-of-Faith leader, Ulf Ekman, spells out for us exactly what revival means to the leaders of the new movement of transformation.
"We will stop [the spirit of the world] and will change it, and believe not just for healing but - as heirs of Abraham - we will take the blessing very concretely and physically. God told Abraham that he was an heir of the world; that his heritage was the nations. This means OUR heritage is the nations. We can believe God with heart-felt belief and absolute conviction that he will completely change the spiritual climate in our nation. That is what revival is all about.... Revival is basically the restoration of Truth, the restoration of life, of power and of order in the Church. It will produce an absolutely changed climate in the nation where you live...the task is to change the climate in society to absolutely oppose the devil, to crush his initiative and to invade the nations with the power of God publicly! The Church of the nineties will not be a weak Church. It will be very, very strong; so strong that some people will say there is no love in it...[but there will be a love for] right order in the Church that will stop rebellion. It will be a forceful Church, a kingly Church, an influential and an attacking Church; even a military Church... we are called and created for a time like this."
Then he makes this staggering statement: "We MUST have revival or Christianity will fail!...I MUST change my nation." (my emphasis)
With such an impetus, it's no wonder that the Church is being put in a strangle-hold to produce the goods, or else!
Once again, the focus is this earth, and its transformation. Society is going to be cleaned up, they say, until the glory of the Lord covers the whole earth. "We will have a better government" says Ekman "we will have righteous people from the top to the bottom. We will have a changed spiritual climate in every city and saved people everywhere, because nothing is impossible."
How thrilling! How positive! How WRONG!
Although Ekman states that this world will grow worse and worse, he also believes that the Church will grow stronger and stronger, so that eventually the Church will gain the upper hand and the very wickedness of society will result in millions turning to God for an answer.
This is exactly the opposite of biblical truth. We are warned that wickedness will increase and that men will become totally corrupt and lawless. (2 Tim 3:1-5)
While we continue to preach the gospel in this situation, we know that ultimately the speeding train of godless humanity will plummet right off the precipice to destruction, blind to every warning signal along the way.
The preaching of men having been rejected (Rev 11:3-10) even the worsening judgements of God (Rev 9:20-21) and the voice of angels (Rev 14:6-7) is insufficient to turn mankind from its folly. They continue to indulge a false spirituality, and to worship a false messiah.
Perhaps that is because they mistake these for the real thing? Perhaps the counterfeit "answer" to this world's problems is so appealing to the flesh and so intensely powerful in its spiritual manifestation that men and women everywhere turn to spiritual experiences instead of God?
That is the nightmare scenario before us as we see the power of the Toronto experience being taken out on the streets. The renewal leaders, though openly accepting that two years of church meetings have led to nothing like a genuine revival, still teach that the "greatest revival this world has ever seen" is right around the corner, just as soon as we take the spirit of Toronto into the community.
Charles Finney described revival as a five-fold procedure of backslidden Christians coming under conviction of their sins; repenting and beginning a new walk of obedience to God; having their faith in God and love of man renewed, along with the desire to bring others to Christ; having the charm of this world broken and a new desire for heavenly things; and finally, as a result of this, the reformation and conversion of sinners.
Revival today has a different meaning. It is no longer simply about preaching the gospel to individuals, but about changing the world's spiritual climate through spiritual warfare, marching, celebrating, "prayerwalking" and similar schemes.
Despite the failure of the major evangelistic efforts during 1994 (On Fire, Jim Challenge, Minus-to-Plus) to produce anything like the thousands of converts they predicted, the revival bandwagon rolls on! The March for Jesus organisers are now mobilising thousands to walk the streets praying for each house in Operation A to Z, believing that by so doing they can "bring about significant changes in the way people perceive the gospel". In other words, this is spiritual warfare on a street-by-street basis. (See Graham Kendrick's article in the June edition of Alpha magazine) Gerald Coates says that Operation A to Z is "part of an international prayer-movement lifting up millions of people before the Lord and asking him to bring salvation to every people group"
It might have been more effective had the organisers allowed participants to speak to house-owners about the Lord, or put evangelistic tracts through the letterboxes, but as one former participant wrote to inform me, this was specifically vetoed.
But the idea is to pray "huge, city-sized prayers", not to seek individual converts. In a similar vein, 30 million people in over 100 countries are taking part in the "Praying Through The 10/40 Window" campaign. This year it is targeting 100 "Gateway Cities" in prayer. Peter Wagner, co-ordinator of the AD2000 Prayer Track which is running the scheme, says "I believe in the 1990's the Spirit is telling the Church he wants us to win the world city by city".
Evangelism today does not need to have a scriptural content - it does not even need words! Music itself it supposed to have sufficient power to cause people to turn to God. Tapping someone on the forehead and making them fall down is now a conversion experience! It was even reported in one magazine that two Muslim girls waiting at a bus stop received the Toronto "blessing", fell down laughing and got up saved and filled with the Spirit without ever hearing the gospel of Christ!
Whether this is an accurate report or not, it does illustrate the change in thinking in the evangelical churches. It was summarised for me by one leader who, in promoting the "toronto blessing", said "God is doing something new - a new agenda - it's a totally new agenda - a totally new dimension - people getting saved in the middle of holy chaos...throw away the measuring rod; drink in! It's a new agenda for everyone".
The way the message is proclaimed says much for the desperation of today's leaders. Nothing that could offend the public is used. Rock music, drama, dance, fire-eating and juggling, mime and comedy - all this and more is used to make the Christian faith more "attractive" to the world. Numbers are important now, not "whosoever will" - and you don't draw huge crowds with plain gospel preaching.
Revival is seen as a mighty wave of blessing falling on "all flesh" before the coming of the Lord, by Keri Jones in "Covenant News" (Winter 94) "we will see a world-wide visitation of the Holy Spirit. God said he would pour out his Spirit on all flesh - all flesh indicates both the just and unjust".
Jones describes the ultimate goal of all history as "restoration" and says that "as we experience the flow of his blessing coming down from above, we can expect the river of life to bring about the culmination of his purpose in this generation. We will see the Church filled with his glory in a greater way that anything seen previously... the Church as it lives out the word, will arise to conquer all its opposing forces, the world, the flesh and the devil."
But "first we need to unite" claims Nicky Gumbel of HTB. ("Renewal", May 95) We have to "drop" any comments unhelpful to unity and work together with all denominations. "We are seeing Roman Catholics coming now...nobody is suspicious of anybody else...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...a disunited Church, squabbling and criticising, makes it very hard for the world to believe."
He need have no fear on that score, for the Pope and his followers are already keen to do their bit to win the world.
Roman Catholic leader Ralph Martin, writing in "Charisma" magazine (May 95) says that the Pope has issued a strong call for a "new evangelism" in the Church. He has called upon all Catholics to repent, and then to devote all their energies to the presentation of Jesus Christ. He wants people to focus on the Word Made Flesh, how redemption was won for us and how that is made present for us in the Last Supper."
Martin is reminding us that the Roman understanding of redemption is sacramental. Entrance into faith is by baptism, and receiving Christ is accomplished by eating his Body in the Mass. In former days this would have worried non-Catholics if they had been asked to help Rome "evangelise". Not any more! Indeed, a significant proportion of the Protestant Church leadership last year signed the "Evangelicals And Catholics Together" agreement to work alongside eachother to this end.
But the Pope realises, as do Protestant leaders, that you need pulling power to get people into church membership these days. Martin states: "To have a new evangelism, we need new ardour, new methods and new expressions. You cannot have renewal without a new Pentecost, and the Pope knows that the good things in the letters and documents aren't going to come to life and won't happen in people's lives otherwise."
No, the plain scriptural message is not powerful enough to attract the millions that revival demands. So this has to be augmented (or replaced) by something infinitely more exciting: spiritual experiences, power, feelings of love and peace, healing, and all manner of signs and wonders. This is what people today hunger for - and they are getting it in huge doses! But the boring old Bible is OUT!
In my paper on Toronto, I said this: "When God sends miracles, it is in confirmation of HIS WORD. (Mark 16:20) Today, however, the reading of the word is being drowned out by irrational laughter, shouting and raving."
Objecting to this, an American correspondent, Kevin Grumball says "Are you suffering from the delusion that the Bible is the WORD of God? I hate to disillusion you, but God's word is much bigger than a book. God's word is Jesus...no-one is saved by the Bible or even by preaching".
What he presumably means is that head knowledge is not enough. True! But nor are spiritual fireworks enough to explain the gospel message to a sinner! "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom 10:14)
Martin also says that God is working to bring renewal through appearances of the Virgin Mary. Visions of "Mary" are on the increase around the world, and the messages they give are almost identical: "repentance" from sins, the praying of the Rosary, devotion to the Papacy and the consecration of the Virgin as the Co-Redemptrix.
However, prophecies given by the apparitions also speak of a coming world-shaking event in which a permanent "lasting sign" will be placed at the sites as a final act of God's mercy before the Judgement falls.
"We are instructed that shortly before the "lasting sign" is erected, 'everyone in the world at the same moment, at the same time, no matter where they are, will receive from God an instant and complete and total correction of conscience'...thus speak the Garabandal mystics to their many followers. But this teaching is remarkably similar to that of new-ager Barbara Marx Hubbard who in her instructional guide "Teachings From The Inner Christ" tells us that very soon we will experience "a Planetary Pentecost" in which we will all hear in our own inner voices and in our own language the mighty words of God...millions who are prepared will realize at one instant in time a demonstrable change. The new-age channellers and the Catholic apparitions are all claiming one thing: that they only desire to lead us to Jesus - but to which Jesus are they leading us?" (T. Kauffman, SCP Journal Vol 19:3)
Here, as in Toronto and the Pope's messages, mankind is urged to look for a "new pentecost" - an outpouring of spiritual glory and power - to save the world.
This may appeal alike to Protestants, Catholics, non-christian sects and also to Muslims, who revere Mary and accept Jesus the man as a great Prophet. According to one report, Muslims are very open to messages given in dreams and visions, and it is claimed that hundreds have joined Christians churches after having visions of Jesus. ("Pulse" magazine of Evangelical Missions Information Service, Wheaton IL.)
Thus, without bothering about words, scriptural doctrine or intellectual understanding, the revival message reaches out to the desperate billions of this fallen world.
It holds out a promise of unlimited "blessing"; it offers spiritual enlightenment, power, unconditional love, healing, fulfilment, harmony, joy and success, right here and now. It promises a better world ahead, with a renewed creation and nations united in love and understanding. It claims to bring a spiritual New Jerusalem down from heaven to earth, for all to enjoy!
Only those who hold the truth dear and who are willing to set aside all personal desires will prefer to accept the biblical Jesus and the biblical way of salvation.