All of Don’s posts about the Culture Driven Church got me to thinking about what it means to live in community. “Community” is one of those buzzwords you hear in the post-modern church vernacular. We want to foster “a sense of community.” We want to create loving “community.” We even want an “open community.” But, as you know, I dislike using terms without thinking about what they mean.
For instance, I live in a community of 932 nice people (it says so on the sign) here in Wayne, OH. I have dined with about 5 of them. I have spoken to about 20. I have seen from a distance another 100. There’s a community at Starbucks as well. It is the community hangout. People chat over coffee and exchange everything from phone numbers to directions. Then they go home. The same can be said about the “community center” where we take Palates classes and play softball perhaps with other members of the community.
On the other hand the community that I have with my small group of 8-10 people is awesome. One of them is on my speed dial as an accountability partner in case I get the urge to do something stupid. Two of them called me on the carpet for something a few months ago. One dear soul taught me the basics of using my grill. They have prayed for me, hugged me, and learned how I like my coffee. They babysit my kids (or their teenage daughters do), rejoiced with me when I got my new job, and will let me know when my bible study is not up to snuff. Come of think of it, I wouldn’t call this community but more like family. Cliche I know but . . .
Here’s a bold claim: I think a lot of churches do community like the first kind of community Continue reading …
Some of our readers may remember our Journal article Who Will Be First in the Kingdom? which looked at some of the teachings of Vision Forum. In the article, one of the issues we looked at was an article by Brian Abshire which stated that God does not permit women to vote. There was a flurry of activity and a number of threats from Vision Forum regarding the article (these along with our responses are on our blog site under Vision Forum/Patriarchy). The Vision Forum article stated:
American Christians saw the “height” of Christian activism as banning alcohol while at the same time affirming a woman’s right to vote. Both ideas were unmitigated disasters; God has not allowed the civil magistrate to outlaw wine and God does not allow women to vote (cf. 1 Tim 2:11ff).
Oddly, the original article was removed from Vision Forum’s website sometime in 2008 (but the original July 15, 2005 article is on an archive site). Doug Phillip’s publically talked about he and his wife Beall voting in the election. It seems this article needed to be taken down, because, as we pointed out in our article and blogs: Continue reading …
Since all three of the previous movements largely disregarded Francis Schaffer’s concerns, believers were becoming increasingly more biblically illiterate. The focuses were primarily on the use of psychology and Madison Avenue marketing to bring unbelievers into the church or to get politically involved in an attempt to “Christianize” the culture through legislation. While this was going on the fourth movement, The Prosperity Church Movement, had a wide birth open for growth. This emanated from what had been, and largely continues to be, the theologically orthodox and conservative Pentecostal and Charismatic element in the church. The late Kenneth Hagin had been proclaiming his Word Faith theology through the 1960s and 1970s with marginal success. In 1976 he launched his first television program.
In capitalizing on the availability of mass media and the progressive trend away from doctrine and sound teaching, Hagin advanced his heretical doctrines cross denominationally through the “Charismatic Renewal Movement.” It is true his “strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3) predated Hagin but prior to this time were fairly well kept in check through denominationalism. Now, the average church attender would spend one to three hours each week in their local church and have the rest of the week to fill up on other popular teachers who had a much larger congregation via the radio, television and bookstores. Although some television and radio preachers were very solid, others, like Hagin, were slowly introducing witchcraft using Christian terminology into the church.
One of Hagin’s heroes was the late William Branham, a popular healer who denied the doctrine of the Trinity and claimed that it was of demonic origin. Sound doctrine was clearly not something with which Hagin was concerned. He adopted from E.W. Kenyon (someone very impacted by New Thought metaphysics) the idea that faith is a force which allows one to control the world around them. In essence, faith is more powerful than God and is something that even He has to tap in to. There are just four steps in the magikal incantation which if learned and carried out correctly, requires God to perform according to our whim. Like a magic genie, God is let out of the bottle so to speak, to grant our command if we but say it, do it, receive it and tell it to others.
Kenneth Copeland came on the scene and took Hagin’s false teachings farther. Once Scripture was no longer the final authority for faith and practice, anything could be proclaimed as “Christian,” and the untrained and undiscerning had no defense against the onslaught of false teachers.
Kenneth Copeland got his start in ministry as a direct result of memorizing Hagin’s messages. It wasn’t long before he had learned enough from Hagin to establish his own following. To say his teachings are heretical would be an understatement — blasphemous is more like it. Copeland brashly pronounces God to be the greatest failure of all time, boldly proclaims that “Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross” (emphasis in original), and describes Christ in hell as an “emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit.”(1)
He has also taught that we don’t have a god in us but that we are one.(2) Adam was God manifest in the flesh:
God’s reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself. I mean a reproduction of Himself, and in the Garden of Eden He did just that. He was not a little like God. He was not almost like God. He was not subordinate to God even. . . . Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus. . . . Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh(3)
God and Adam were the same exact size:
God spoke Adam into existence in authority with words. These words struck Adam’s body in the face. His body and God were exactly the same size.(4)
God lives on a planet:
You don’t think earth was first, do you? Huh? Well, you don’t think that God made man in His image, and then made earth in some other image? There is not anything under this whole sun that’s new. Are you hearing what I’m saying? This is all a copy. It’s a copy of home. It’s a copy of the Mother Planet. Where God lives, He made a little one just like His and put us on it.(5)
And a myriad of other false and occultic teachings.
Another popular teacher, Benny Hinn, joined the circuit with his frequent “revelations” which are anti-biblical such as that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each have a body, soul and spirit and that there are “nine of them.”(6) In addition Hinn has taught that Christ ceased being God and became one with Satan and had in place of His divine nature a Satanic nature.(7)
According to Hinn, there were two deaths of the cross: a spiritual death, then a physical one. Jesus died first spiritually. At that point He literally took on the nature of (or became one with) Satan. Also, at that point, Jesus lost His deity and God the Father deserted Him. Then Jesus died physically and His spirit (which at that time was only the spirit of a man) was taken to hell.(8)
In 1979 a young oneness Pentecostal and Word Faith teacher by the name of T.D. Jakes founded his first church in Montgomery, WV. Within ten years he was a widely accepted and sought after author and speaker. He is now the pastor of one of the largest multiracial churches in the United States in Dallas, TX. Oneness Pentecostal pastors, Phillips, Craig and Dean are a very well known and accepted “Christian” contemporary musical group who have performed in many Evangelical venues including Willow Creek Community Church and Moody Bible Institute. Their music can also often be heard on Moody Bible Institute radio stations.
The 1980s also saw the acceptance of the “Signs and Wonders Movement” as Vinson Synan points out:
Added to these is the newest category, the “Third Wave” of the Spirit, which originated at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1981 under the classroom ministry of John Wimber. These consisted of mainline Evangelicals who moved in signs and wonders, but who disdained labels such as “pentecostal” or “charismatic.” By 1990 this group numbered some 33,000,000 members in the world.(9)
In turn this birthed Rodney Howard Brown’s “Holy Laughter” revival, the “Toronto Blessing,” “Brownsville Revival” and a number of variations which further substituted the experiential at the sacrifice of Scripture, truth and orthodoxy.
Make no mistake, many well intentioned people are involved in each of these four movements (the Protecting, the Popular and the Political and the Prosperity Church Movements), but the death of sound teaching in deference to pragmatism, has had a devastating effect on the Body of Christ. Left virtually unchecked we are now dealing with the exponential growth of false teachers seeking to profitably fill the self interest of the human psyche.
The church has made major shifts in focus which obvoiusly impacts its view of itself and its place in the world. Over the next couple of weeks Jonathon Miles will pick up with a sort of recap of the last few blogs to show how this has impacted the church and individual beleivers.
1 Hank Hanegraaff, CRI Statement DC755-1, “What’s Wrong With the Faith Movement (Part one): E.W. Kenyon and the Twelve Apostles of Another Gospel,” http://www.equip.org/free/DC755-1.htm
2 Kenneth Copeland, “The Force of Love” audiotape
3 “Following the Faith of Abraham I”, 1989 audiotape #01-3001 side 1
4 Holy Bible, Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition 1991, 45, emphasis in original
5 “Following the Faith of Abraham I”, 1989 audiotape #01-3001, side 1
6 Benny Hinn, “A New Spirit,” Orlando Christian Center Broadcast, Trinity Broadcasting Network, October 13, 1990.
7 Benny Hinn, Orlando Christian Center Broadcast, Trinity Broadcasting Network, December 9, 1990
8 G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelman, The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, Personal Freedom Outreach, Eighth Edition, May 2001, p.20.
9 Vinson Synan, Phd., The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement, The Holy Spirit Research Center, January 4, 2002, p. 14; http://www.oru.edu/university/library/holyspirit/pentorg1.html
Although the Conservative Intellectual Movement had been working and gaining ground in the thinking of American culture, Evangelicals and Fundamentalist had remained steadfastly and intentionally removed from political involvement and policy making until the late 1970s. The reason might be best understood in the person of Jerry Falwell who publicly denounced political involvement on the part of church leaders in his sermon titled, “Ministers and Marchers”:
…March 1965 sermon, “Minister and Marchers,” in which he leveled a broadside at King, his black ministerial colleagues, and the Northern clergy whose liberal theology made them fully as suspect as their politics. Although he acknowledged that “many sincere persons are participating” in the movement, he questioned “the sincerity and nonviolent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left-wing associations. It is very obvious that the Communists, as they do in all parts of the world, are taking advantage of a tense situation in our land, and are exploiting every incident to bring about violence and bloodshed.” Speaking of the role ministers should properly play, he declared that “our only purpose on this earth is to know Christ and to make him known. Believing the Bible as I do, I would find it impossible to stop preaching the pure saving Gospel of Jesus Christ and begin doing anything else – including the fighting of communism or participating in the civil rights reform…. Preachers are not called to be politicians, but to be soul winners.”(1)
As noted earlier, Falwell apologized for this talk. In part that was necessary as he was moving into the political Continue reading …