Posts Tagged ‘cedric fisher’

A Further Unveiling of Assemblies of God Resolution 3 & the Serious Implications

Also see Part 1: “Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel ” and Part 2: “Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel”

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

When I wrote my commentary on July 28th about the Assemblies of God Resolution 3, which will be voted on during the 57th Assemblies General Council (August 7-11th) in Anaheim, California, I was quite unprepared for the firestorm that ensued.(1) I was especially surprised by George Wood’s response.(2)

Remember that when Ruth Haley Barton (who is a powerful advocate for the New Age practice of contemplative prayer) was invited to speak at the AoG General Council in 2013, Dr. Wood defended the decision.(3) Furthermore, he has never expressed any public reluctance or regret in inviting Rick Warren (who promotes unity with the Catholic Church and contemplative practices) to speak at previous General Councils or this upcoming one. Rick Warren is also a signer of “A Common Word” Christian Response, a document where Christian leaders ask for forgiveness from “the All-Merciful One” (a Muslim term for Allah) and essentially say that the Christian God and Allah are the same God.(4) While Dr. Wood has been blasé and silent about Rick Warren, Mark Batterson (creator of the Circle Maker heresy),(5) and Priscilla Shirer(6) (popular contemplative speaker and author) speaking at the 57th General Council, he lost his composure regarding my commentary about Resolution 3. What was he so frantic about? Why did he expose himself as imperious and acerbic? Dr. Wood’s reaction indicates there might be more to the story. After further research, I believe there is indeed behind-the-scenes information that needs to be brought forth.

 Replacement Theology Activists and Their View of Israel

During this past week, after my commentary was released by Lighthouse Trails, I have spent hours digging through the Internet, reading documents, and talking to people, some of whom have had first-hand experience within AoG regarding the matters at hand. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that the Assemblies of God denomination is dangerously compromised with so-called “justice and peacemakers” that adhere to Replacement Theology (Supersessionism).(7) These “peacemakers” are in virtually every position of influence in the AoG including leadership at the national level, universities, colleges, seminaries, and missions. Their basic belief can be summed up as follows: The Israeli claim to Palestine as a Jewish State by divine right is incorrect, and their continued enforcement of this claim is unjust.

Resolution 3 (R3) is being supported by Replacement Theology activists (as has been documented in my previous commentary, in the pursuing response article by Lighthouse Trails, and will be further documented in this article). In essence, the resolution is anti-Zionist, which in itself stems from the age-old spirit of hatred for the Jews). Whether these activists realize this or not, this is disguised anti-Semitism.

Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries explains:

Anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism in new, sophisticated clothes. Whereas anti-Semitism sought to drive out the Jews from the lands where they lived, anti-Zionism refuses to accept their right to live in their own land.(8)

Of course, most Replacement Theology activists will not admit their true views about Israel publicly. Instead, they declare that they love and support Israel and even go there often. However, just as in secular politics, one has to read between the lines and decipher the doublespeak. In reality, they do not love and support the Israel that presently exists. They are, in deeds (and with words in certain venues), adamantly opposed to present-day Israel.

If they loved and supported Israel, they would not be involved in a mission to force her into conformity with something she is not (and something that would eventually destroy her). Furthermore, they would not deny her genetic heritage and legacy and attempt to erase her from eschatology. Last, they would not be teaching anti-Semitism, as some of them are, to unsuspecting generations of younger professing Christians.

What they truly love and support is a futuristic and completely transformed “Israel”—an “Israel” that does not yet exist. It is a model they have concocted to agree with their “peace” plan. They arrogantly believe that Israel does not know what’s best for her and that they must steer the nation into its peaceful destiny.

Their commitment is as saying, “I love and support you, but not as you are. You must change.” That is commitment with conditions, which is not love and support at all. It is coercion and extortion. Those conditions include kowtowing to Muslim and especially Palestinian demands. Capitulating to those requirements would indeed change Israel to meet the approval of her “fair-weather friends” in denomination leadership, and tenured at colleges and universities. But there is nothing to gain from such a commitment and much to lose.

While this is not God’s plan according to His Word, these “pacifists” alter, remove, replace, reinterpret, and otherwise manipulate God’s Word to conform with their definition of “justice and peacemaking,” one of their popular buzz phrases.

“But,” they insist, “we must have world peace.” And as Rick Warren has often said, we must do “whatever it takes” to accomplish that peace.(9)

But at what price? Alliance with haters of Israel? The sacrifice of truth? The price of twisting God’s Word to disenfranchise His chosen people? Will the price be a massive assault of many armies on the nation of Israel? If the latter occurs, supporters of false peace will soon realize Who they were offending.

What Are These “Justice and Peacemakers” Really About?

What exactly are these “justice and peacemakers really about? And what are some of their tactics? Let’s take a look at a couple of the individuals involved in this so-called “justice and peacemaking” movement who have influenced the Assemblies of God.

Consider Paul Alexander, author of Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God. Alexander was a Pneuma Book Award finalist chosen by The Society for Pentecostal Studies, a bastion of Replacement Theology. He edits the Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice book series. His bio says he is a Pentecostal “peacemaker and justice seeker” originally from Kansas. He was a Missions major at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, has a M.Div. from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from Baylor University. He is currently professor of Christian ethics and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University and the director of public policy for Evangelicals for Social Action.(10)

Alexander founded Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice (PCPJ) with the mission “to encourage, enable, and sustain peacemaking and justice–seeking as authentic and integral parts of Pentecostal–Charismatic Christianity.”(11) If you wish to see a glimpse of the next generation of Pentecostals and charismatics that are now rising to leadership, check out PCPJ’s Facebook page.(12)

Alexander also edited the book, Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Justice and Peace, commissioned and written by Palestinian Christians. In the Series Preface, Alexander writes, “We understand that peace and justice are not separate concerns but different ways of talking about and seeking Shalom—God’s salvation, justice and peace.”(13) Alexander and his associates, the Palestinian Christians, believe that Israel does not have biblical heritage or a right to their land. Christ at the Checkpoint conferences, sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College featuring speakers such as emergent progressive leaders Lynne Hybels(14) and Tony Campolo,(15) have a distinct anti-Israel political agenda.

According to various sources, Bethlehem Bible College is steeped in Replacement Theology that encourages sympathy for the Palestinians. For example, a 2014 NGO Monitor article titled “U.S., U.K., Netherlands Fund Anti-Israel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference,” said of the 2014 conference that Christ at the Checkpoint “seeks to advance the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Evangelical Christian churches, while simultaneously reviving theological anti-Semitic themes such as replacement theology.”(16)

And an article in the Jerusalem Post stated of Bethlehem Bible College:

The school has a deeply entrenched anti-Israel position, demonstrated through statements and publications of leaders associated with the school.(17)

Map of Middle East. Green indicates Muslim countries; Red is Israel

However, Alexander calls his book a “book of love.” He declares, “The Palestinian Christians who organized the conference at which these essays were presented are motivated by their love for God, love for Israelis, and love for their fellow Palestinians.”(18)

Alexander is no longer affiliated with the Assemblies of God. He was dismissed as a licensed AoG minister in 2014 for his changed views on homosexuality and acceptance of gay marriage.(19)But his dismissal had nothing to do with his anti-Israel efforts, which had begun long before 2014. So while the AoG was right in dismissing him for his pro-homosexual views, they apparently saw nothing wrong with his activism against Israel a number of years before that.

“This Land is . . . Your Land?”—The Dilemma of Ross Byars, R3’s Foremost Author

This brings me to J. Ross Byars, the apparent foremost author of Resolution 3. Byars is co-founder of the Jerusalem School of Bethlehem, of which students are predominantly Muslim. While the school focuses on giving Muslim youth a good education, “justice and peacemaking” is a major theme. Byars is known as an advocate of Replacement Theology. His rewrite of Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land is Your Land” leaves no doubt as to his position on Israel. Below are a few stanzas of this rewritten song:

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore
to the tumbling Jordan,
this land is made for you and me. . . .
from the bubbling springs of Dan,
to Beersheba’s desert sand.
From the walls of the city,
to the snows of Hermon,
this land is made for you and me.(20)

You can watch a video of students at Jerusalem School of Bethlehem singing Byars rendition of the American song here: http://www.cppi.co/proactivities.html. Peter Yarrow (of the 60s singing group Peter, Paul, and Mary) is leading the group (also we have posted all the lyrics below this article).

In one verse, Byars postulates the concept that the Israelis and Palestinians are Arabs and their God is one:

So why these wars and fuss?
We’re you and you are us
We’re all one family,
this land’s one country.
We’re all Abram’s sons
Our God we serve is one,
Who made this land for you and me. (21)

Just hours before Lighthouse Trails released their response to George Wood’s comments about my first commentary,(22) Ross Byars called the office of Lighthouse Trails and spoke to one of its editors. He said that he is not anti-Israel but admitted he is for a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, saying that even Israel is for it. The LT editor responded by saying that Israel is not for it but is being coerced and forced into it.

The two-state solution. I explained the difference in versions of two-state agreements in the Lighthouse Trails response to George Wood:

Some evangelical leaders insist there is nothing wrong with the Two-State Solution. They claim that Israel advocates a Two-State Solution. If that were true, then it would have already occurred and we would not be having this controversy. There is a vast difference between the versions of Two-State Solutions. Israel’s version could be summed up as, “You leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.” Conversely, the Two-State Solution advocated by certain evangelicals is to moderate a resolution between Israel and Palestine that involves Israel giving up the West Bank, its biblical heritage as God’s Chosen People, and other untenable concessions. There is an effort to dismiss Israel from eschatology and brand it as just another sinful nation.(23)

Those who are advocating a two-state solution are overlooking something: they are assuming that once Israel falls into step with what the world is demanding of them, then the Muslims, Palestinians, and everyone else will now love Israel and be kind to her. But why would people think that is going to happen?! Israel and the Jews have been hated throughout history, long before there was the modern-day nation of Israel. Hitler didn’t need that as an excuse. There was no nation of Israel, but still he hated them, he killed them, and leaders and people around the world turned a blind eye while six million Jews were annihilated. Today, there are only fourteen million Jews on the Earth. Those who know (and believe) their Bibles know that God’s adversary, the devil, has a vehement hate for the Jews (and the nation of Israel) and will stop at nothing to destroy them. Those who think that Muslim terrorists and enemies are going to love Israel if they agree to a two-state solution are living in a deadly bubble of delusion.

“Justice and peacemaker” Murray Dempster (one of the supporters/authors of R3) is a professor at Southeastern and an adherent of Replacement Theology as was shown in both my earlier commentary and the Lighthouse Trails response to George Woods. An online article titled “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” reports on enthusiastic student support for anti-Semitism at Southeastern:

[One] week they invited Sami Awad, a pro-Palestine advocate to guest lecture. The lecture had very anti-Semitic comments and at one point it was mentioned that Israel did not have a right to exist. The discussion became very disturbing.(24)

Awad is a so-called “justice and peacemaker” and executive Director of Holy Land Trust. His father, Bishara Awad, is the founder of the Bethlehem Bible College that sponsors Christ at the Checkpoint conferences. At the 2012 Christ at the Checkpoint conference, Sami Awad, MC for the event, supported Dr. Manfred Kohl who condemned another speaker, Wayne Hilsden, for his “literal reading of scripture” (where Hilsden stated that the “physical return of the Jews to their ancient homeland is biblically mandated”). Kohl said of Hilsden, “the theology of fools who delight in their own idiocy.” Awad suggested that it “was time for Christians who use the Bible to support Israel’s restoration to stand before the security wall in Bethlehem and, similar to John F. Kennedy before the Berlin Wall, declare, ‘I am an idiot.’”(25)

These remarks are far from peaceful. They are arrogant, provocative, and reveal the true nature of these “justice and peacemakers.” For a comprehensive, well-documented, and compelling documentary on “Christian Palestinianism” and its implications on Israel, watch Caryl Productions film Exposing Christian Palestinianism.(26)

Are “Justice and Peacemakers” Being Honest About Their True Purpose?

Throughout Replacement Theology activists’ literature and speeches, one becomes aware of a constant supposed theme of love, justice, peacemaking, etc. Their definition of love is not credible though because they are not being honest. Their explanation of “justice and peacemaking” is based on Replacement Theology. Their two-state solution is based on the claim that Israel does not have a right to her land, that she stole it from the Palestinians who are lovingly practicing justice and peacemaking by allowing Israel to keep a small tract of it.

It is a great shame that professing Christians resort to the same tactics as secular politicians and hide their true intent to reach their goals. God’s Word declares, let your yea be yea and your nay be nay (Matthew 5:37).  It is clearly a godly directive for Christians to be forthright and honest with our words. Instead, Replacement Theology activists use subterfuge and doublespeak to inch their way into leadership and positions of influence. Once in power, they oppress and take advantage of the very ones who trusted them with their offices.

When Assemblies of God pastors and leaders vote this coming week on Resolution 3, I pray they will understand that if they vote for R3, they will be helping to pave the way to legitimize and unleash a hoard of RT activists on Israel. I beseech these leaders not to be deceived by tactics that are not forthright or according to God’s Word. In addition, to vote for R3 is a vote against Israel, and this can only bring judgment upon Assemblies of God and even the church at large because many other evangelical groups will eventually follow suit in the AoG decision.

Jesus Christ warned that end-times deception would be so clever that the very elect could be deceived if that were possible. The apostle Paul wrote that those who do not have a “love of the truth . . . God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11). As committed believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be on guard against deception, which works because it is comfortable, is convincing, and appeals to the carnal mind of nominal Christians. Do not be deceived, beloved!

Endnotes:

1.Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel
2. Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel
3. Assemblies of God General Superintendent Letter Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article – Defends Contemplative Spirituality
4. http://faith.yale.edu/common-word/common-word-christian-response
5. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=13869
6. See Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them
7.  ISRAEL: REPLACING WHAT GOD HAS NOT
8. Dr. David R. Reagan, “The Evil of Replacement Theology: The Historical Abuse of the Jews by the Church,” Lion and Lamb Ministries, http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-evil-of-replacement-theology/.
9.Time Magazine on Rick Warren’s New Global Reformation and PEACE Coalition
10. https://sojo.net/biography/paul-alexander
11. https://pcpjtest.wordpress.com/about/
12. https://www.facebook.com/pcpeacejustice/
13. Paul Alexander, Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Justice and Peace (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012), Series Preface.
14. Jim Fletcher, “Lynne Hybel’s God” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17590)
15. See “2010 Film ‘With God on Our Side’ – Championed by Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren & Steve Haas (World Vision) – Has Changed the Minds of Evangelicals”
16. Sean Savage, “NGO Monitor: U.S., U.K., Netherlands Fund Anti-Israel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference” (http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/03/12/ngo-monitor-u-s-u-k-netherlands-fund-anti-israel-%E2%80%98christ-at-the-checkpoint%E2%80%99-conference/)
17. Tricia Miller, “Bethlehem Bible College—Purveyor of Anti-Israel Propaganda” (Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/Bethlehem-Bible-College-purveyor-of-anti-Israel-propaganda-379858)
18. Paul Alexander, Christ at the Checkpoint, op. cit., Preface.
19. https://www.onenewsnow.com/church/2014/02/17/ag-disciplines-pastor-who-departs-from-biblical-truth and http://www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/sexual-justice/esa-statement-on-the-dismissal-of-paul-alexander-by-the-assemblies-of-god.
20. http://www.cppi.co/proactivities.html
21. Ibid.
22. Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel
23. Ibid.
24. Chelsen Vicari, “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” (Juicy Ecumenism: The Institute on Religion & Democracy blog, December 18, 2014, https://juicyecumenism.com/2014/12/18/squishy-theology-assembly-gods-southeastern-university).
25. Jan Markell, “‘Checked’ at the Checkpoint” (March 15, 2012, http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs019/1101818841456/archive/1109521345222.html).
26. This incredible film is available through Lighthouse Trails. Every church and church group should watch this film! (http://www.lighthousetrails.com/home/454-exposing-christian-palestinianism-dvd.html)

Appendix:

Transcript of Ross Byars rewrite of Woody Guthrie’s song, “This Land is Your Land.”

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway.
I saw below me that golden valley,
this land is made for your and me.
I roamed and rambled
and I followed my footsteps,
to the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts.
And all around me a voice was sounding,
this land is made for you and me.

Chorus

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore to the tumbling Jordan,
this land is made for you and me.
As I was walking I saw a wall there.
A great big sign said, “Our people only.”
But on the other side it didn’t say “Nothing.”
Now that side is made for you and me.
In the towns and cities, at church and temple.
By shrine and mosque I saw the people
As they stood hating, and I stood crying,
“This land is made for you and me.”

Chorus

It’s not just our land, it’s also your land,
from the bubbling springs of Dan
To Beersheba’s desert sand.
From the walls of the city
To the snows of Hermon,
this land is made for you and me
Nobody living can ever stop us,
as we go walking our true peace highway
No wall or weapon can make us turn back,
‘cause this land is made for you and me.
So why these wars and fuss?
We’re you and you are us
We’re all one family, this land’s one country.
We’re all Abram’s sons
Our God we serve is one,
Who made this land for you and me

Chorus

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore
to the tumbling Jordan.
This land is made for you and me.

Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel

Also see Part 1: “Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel ” and Part 3: “A Further Unveiling of Assemblies of God Resolution 3 & the Serious Implications”

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

On July 28th, Lighthouse Trails posted a commentary by Lighthouse Trails author Cedric Fisher titled “Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel.” This commentary set off a fire storm on the Internet, and on Saturday July 29th, Lighthouse Trails editors received an e-mail from Dr. George Wood (General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God). Dr. Wood is familiar with Lighthouse Trails because of a controversy in 2013 where Dr. Wood gave his blessing and permission for contemplative emergent Ruth Haley Barton to speak at the 2013 AoG General Council Conference resulting in some Lighthouse Trails articles addressing the seriousness of such promotion.

Shortly after Lighthouse Trails editors received the e-mail from Dr. Wood on the 29th regarding our recent posting of Cedric Fisher’s commentary, we learned that the e-mail was being distributed on the Internet. Because Dr. Wood has made his e-mail public, we are responding in the public arena; and because his e-mail stated that the commentary we posted is “false, meretricious, and slanderous,” we are compelled to issue this response. Below is Dr. Wood’s e-mail to Lighthouse Trails editors in its entirety (in black bold) along with response comments by us in indented non-bold green paragraphs. (After you have read this section, please see a response written by Cedric Fisher regarding Dr. Wood’s e-mail.)

Dr. George Wood, General Superintendent of AoG

Dr. George Wood’s e-mail to Lighthouse Trails:

I don’t know exactly who to address this to, so I have included all the email contact points provided on your website.

I am asking you to retract and apologize for the totally incorrect article you published on July 28, titled, “Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel.”

Here are the facts, as opposed to the lies given by Cedric Fisher.

1. Resolution 3 doesn’t mention Israel at all. It has nothing to do with Israel. As general superintendent, I am not indicating my support or opposition to this resolution as it comes from delegates to our General Council – but, I can tell you for a fact that you can search this resolution with a microscope and you will find no reference to Israel, nor will you find any intention that this resolution applies to Israel. Here’s the full text of the resolution: http://generalcouncil.ag.org/-/media/GC17/2017GCResolutionsBooklet.pdf?la=en.

Our Response: It is true that Resolution 3 does not mention Israel at all, and Cedric Fisher never said that it did. However, the resolution absolutely connects Israel with the Resolution when it states: “Furthermore, the Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the General Presbytery approved the 12 Assemblies of God position paper entitled, ‘Church Mission and Peacemaking.’” It is in that position paper that Israel is discussed and clearly rebuked as the guilty party for causing conflict. There is no mention of Islamic/Muslim wrong doing in the position paper. We realize that some reading “Church Mission and Peacemaking” may not see how it is implicating modern-day Israel, especially if they are not familiar with the present efforts to put most or all of the blame on Israel for Middle East conflict.

2. The AG position paper is titled, “Church Mission and Peacemaking.” Lighthouse Trails added “and Israel,” even though the position paper doesn’t mention issues regarding the modern state of Israel. Here’s the position paper: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index/Church-Mission-and-Peacemaking.

Our Response: The phrase “and Israel” was mistakenly added twice in one sentence. We have now corrected that error. However, this does not change the context of the position paper. Dr. Wood says that the position paper doesn’t mention issues regarding the modern state of Israel, but we believe that is exactly what that position paper is doing.

3. “Israel–the Church’s Response” is not a position paper. It’s what we call a “common concerns” article. It was written by the Office of Public Relations over 15 years ago. Here’s the article itself: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index/Israel-the-Churchs-Response. Here’s the topic index of other common concern articles: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index.

Our Response: Cedric Fisher’s commentary did call both papers “position papers” when in reality “Israel – The Church’s Response” is not an official AoG position paper. Rather, it is listed under AoG Beliefs on their website and described as “based upon [AoG] common understanding of scriptural teaching.” (source: https://ag.org/Beliefs/Topics-Index)

4. By mixing quotations from the position paper and the common concerns article, Lighthouse Trails concocts a belief that simply doesn’t exist.

Our Response: We don’t agree with Dr. Wood’s assumption here. To say that an argument can’t be proven by using different credible (and related) documents is faulty reasoning.

5. The article goes on to talk about Rick Warren’s PEACE plan, which is NOT mentioned in Resolution 3, the position paper, or the common concerns article. It then states, “Resolution 3 is an attempt to present a more powerful statement of disassociation with Israel.” But Resolution 3 doesn’t mention the contemporary state of Israel at all, let alone “a more powerful statement of disassociation with Israel.” This is simply a lie.

Our Response: As for Rick Warren’s influence within the AoG, this could be proven in a number of different ways (not to mention that he is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s AoG General Council along with Mark Batterson (Circle Maker) and Priscilla Shirer (contemplative teacher)), but we will provide this one piece of documentation. In a 2008 Time Magazine article titled “Rick Warren Goes Global,” it states:

“Warren is particularly excited by the hands-on involvement of some of the larger players in the Evangelical community. “A guy was going, ‘I’ll take Mozambique,’ and another guy was going ‘I’ll take Nigeria,’ ” he said happily, adding that he’s already secured personal commitments from influential leaders in the Salvation Army and the Assemblies of God (the largest Pentecostal denomination.) “They’ve said, they’re in, and they have to get their boards along,” he reported.” (emphasis added; source: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1809833,00.html?xid=rss-nation).

Since 2008, the Purpose Driven paradigm has continued to have a major influence in nearly all evangelical denominations, including Assemblies of God. 

Regarding Dr. Wood’s statement that it is a lie to say that Resolution 3 is anti-Israel, it is not. This resolution was worded in such a way as to not appear to be directly implicating modern Israel. 

6. “AoG General Superintendent George O. Wood and other leaders of the denomination appear enamored with Warren to the extent they are virtually subservient.” That would be news to me, Rick Warren, and other leaders of the denomination. Furthermore, there is no denomination more active than ours in evangelizing Muslims.

See our response in point #5.

7. As is typical of Lighthouse Trails, you engage in six-degrees-of-separation conspiracy mongering. Even though neither Don nor Jodi Detrick wrote Resolution 3, he is mentioned because he is married to her, and she is mentioned because she allegedly promotes “contemplative spirituality.” This isn’t research; this is nonsense.

Our Response: Actually, Cedric Fisher’s mentioning Jodi Detrick because she is the wife of the chairperson of the AoG 2017 Resolutions Committee is certainly not “six-degrees-of-separation conspiracy mongering.” First of all, this is a husband and wife who are both highly active in AoG leadership; this is hardly “six-degrees of separation.” Second, the issue that took place with Dr. Wood and the AoG General Council in May of 2013 was no minor issue. Dr. Wood allowed Ms. Detrick to bring in a hard core New Age sympathizer to teach AoG women at the AoG General Council Conference that year. Lighthouse Trails wrote three carefully documented articles explaining several aspects as to why Barton should not be allowed to teach Christian women. After our first article (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11431), Dr. Wood issued a public statement defending Ms. Detrick’s choice of speakers (and he incidentally mentioned Ms. Detrick’s husband as he felt the association was important for people to know – the very thing he condemned Cedric Fisher for doing). Our second article in 2013 included Dr. Wood’s response defending the choice of Ruth Haley Barton (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11554). Incidentally, Cedric Fisher (a former AoG pastor who was not an LT author at that time) wrote an article addressing the issue with Barton (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=11569). He made some very valid points, and his article from 2013 is worth reading to better understand the dilemma.

We believe it was appropriate for Cedric Fisher to mention the Wood/Detrick/Barton event that took place four years ago because from years of researching the contemplative prayer movement, we know that one of the “fruits” of contemplative prayer is a shift in attitude regarding Israel. While there have always been those (such as those in the Reformed camp) who have historically rejected Israel of having significance according to a biblically prophetic view and adhere to Replacement Theology, there is also now a growing number of evangelicals who are moving from a pro-Israel stance to an anti-Israel stance, and many of those evangelicals have first embraced the contemplative prayer movement. Is this just a coincidence? We don’t believe so. Those who practice contemplative meditation, over time, begin to change their views on the Atonement, the Cross, salvation, and even Israel and the Jews because the meditation experience is panentheistic (God in all) and interspiritual (all paths lead to God) in nature; and when one begins to accept panentheism and interspirituality, the Cross, the Atonement, salvation through Christ alone, and Bible prophecy (which includes understanding Israel and the return of Christ) do not fit into that mold any longer.

Dr. Wood resents the fact that Jodi Detrick name was mentioned in Cedric Fisher’s article, so much so that he has resorted to ugly name calling. We fear that Dr. Wood does not understand these vital issues, and that is why he is lashing out. 

8. The article about Ross Byar’s school is hilarious. Ross teaches “pacifism,” not “passivism.” And do evangelical Christians really want to go on record opposing the teaching of pacifism to MUSLIM students? Additionally, the Haaretz.com article cited doesn’t report that Byars’ school advocates “inner eye” mysticism. It says that on the day the journalist visited, they were learning about the mysticism of an important modern Jewish rabbi. A good education acquaints people accurately with the beliefs of others. LTR makes that look suspicious.

Our Response: Dr. Wood better read that article at Haaretz.com again. It clearly states that the teacher at Byar’s school is introducing and advocating a mystical spirituality to the students. The article states:

“Today, in fact, she’s [the teacher] trying to introduce the students to a mystical teaching from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in British Mandatory Palestine. The big idea is his concept of the “inner eye,” and Talesnick [the teacher] wants to suggest that if you can see with it, you’re color blind. It’s a good lesson against racism.”

Cedric Fisher stated it accurately when he said the school was advocating a mystical teaching. 

9. I could pick apart the article’s references to the six authors of Resolution 3–all of whom I know personally or at least know of–but I’ll just quote this hilarious statement about Nam Soo Kim: “I could not discover any significant involvement or contributions to the AoG. As with most of the other authors, he seems to be involved with activity outside of the denomination.” For the record, Nam Soo Kim is an executive presbyter of the national Assemblies of God, a fact that is easily found on the AG website: https://ag.org/About/Leadership-Team/Executive-Presbytery.

Our Response: The fact that Cedric Fisher did not know of Nam Soo Kim’s involvement with AoG is a moot point, but we accept the correction. However, there is one author of Resolution 3 that we do know about, and that is Murray Dempster. In 2007, 80 evangelical leaders signed a document titled “An Evangelical Statement on Israel/Palestine.” A November 2007 Christianity Today article titled “Evangelical Leaders Reiterate Call for Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine” discussed the document and listed Murray Dempster as one of the signatories. The article stated:

[O]ver 80 evangelical leaders have signed a statement indicating their belief ‘that the way forward is for the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a fair, two-state solution.'” (source: http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2007/november/148-33.0.html (For a list of Dempster’s credentials that include the signing of this two-state solution document, see http://www.seu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/MWD-Resume-Updated-SEU-8.1.2013.pdf)

We find this unnerving that a man, Dempster, who is a signatory for a document that calls for a two-state solution, is also a contributing author and endorser to this AoG resolution that has the potential of invoking great harm to the Jewish people; and it is equally troubling that the head of AoG is perfectly OK with this. He says that he knows all of them personally or at least knows of them—insinuating that this makes them all legitimate). According to one Jewish Christian radio host we spoke with this morning, a two-state solution would “legitimize” a Palestinian State filled with brutal terrorists who want to destroy Israel. What in the world is AoG doing playing with this kind of fire?! Cedric Fisher provided us with some thought-provoking comments today on the two-state solution:

“Some evangelical leaders insist there is nothing wrong with the Two-State Solution.  They claim that Israel advocates a Two-State Solution.  If that were true, then it would have already occurred and we would not be having this controversy.  There is a vast difference between the versions of Two-State Solutions.  Israel’s version could be summed up as, “You leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.”  Conversely, the Two-State Solution advocated by certain evangelicals is to moderate a resolution between Israel and Palestine that involves Israel giving up the West Bank, its biblical heritage as God’s Chosen People, and other untenable concessions.  There is an effort to dismiss Israel from eschatology and brand it as just another sinful nation.

“These leaders cannot understand why true supporters of Israel view them as anti-Semitic.  They claim they are not anti-Semitic but rather that they also support Israel.  They obviously do not support the Israel that exists, but the “Israel” they have modeled for their peace plan.  I invite the reader to read the literature of these so-called pacifists for “peace.”  If they supported Israel as it presently exists, they would not be sympathetic to the Muslim narrative and attempt to coerce Israel to accept a pro-Palestinian Two-State Solution.  

10. This conclusory statement is an outright lie: “Therefore, to embrace the Palestinian and Muslim cause and reject Israel is, in essence, to be anti-Semitic. Thus, the AoG’s positions papers and Resolution 3 is oxymoronic in presentation and factitious in intent. It is an effort to unite the 60 million-member worldwide denomination with other denominations and political groups that are openly hostile to Israel.” None of the AG links the author has provided–to Resolution 3, our position paper, or even our common concerns article–embrace Islam, reject Israel, or exhibit antisemitism. The World Assemblies of God Fellowship numbers 68.5 million adherents, not 60 million (https://ag.org/About/Statistics), but the author can’t even get this basic statistic right. And I am unaware of any member nation of the WAGF that’s “openly hostile to Israel.” I certainly am not – having been to Israel over 40 times and having established the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Lands Studies that has brought thousands to Israel – including hundreds of students preparing for the ministry.

Our response: We stand behind Cedric Fisher’s closing comments. We believe AoG is facing a real threat, and the fact that their head cannot see this and has no problem with Resolution 3 is scary at best.

You should have regard for truth. But, you [do] not.

The article you published is false, meretricious, and slanderous. You should be ashamed.

Finally, there is a process in our Constitution and Bylaws by which members can present resolutions. The authors of resolutions have no guarantee that what they propose will be adopted; but, our Bylaws make provision for members to have that right.

Our Response: The men who wrote Resolution 3 are leaders in the AoG, not some renegades who have no influence in the denomination. Without intending on sounding disrespectful, the shame goes to AoG leaders who are involved in trying to pass Resolution 3 and to Dr. Wood, not Cedric Fisher and Lighthouse Trails.

Response to George Wood’s E-mail from Cedric Fisher:

I wish to thank Dr. Wood for taking time out of his busy schedule to respond to my commentary. Since Dr. Wood has insisted on more information, I will respectfully honor his request.

First, I concede that Resolution 3 does not contain the word “Israel,” and I never stated that it did. However, it contains the reference to a position paper that does mention Israel. Additionally, although “Israel—the Church’s Response” is not an official position paper, it is a position officially assigned to the “Church” and included under “Beliefs” on the AoG website. Further, Resolution 3 is presented as being about peacekeeping, but the statement it proposes to add to the Constitution includes justice and peacemaking. Here is why that is important.

We must ask, “What nations in conflict did the authors of R3 have in mind when they wrote the Resolution?”

The only nation in conflict that the majority of evangelicals are focused on is Israel. Regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the terms justice and peacekeeping are interpreted by the worldview of whoever employs them. Some evangelicals consider Israel “unjust” and even “racist” in their dealings with Palestinians. I propose that the conflict is not because Israel is unjust, racist, or rejects peace. It exists because her neighbors wish to annihilate her as stated in the following:

I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land. (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, The Jerusalem Post)

The solution that political Progressives, Liberals, Palestinian sympathizers, denominations, and some leading evangelical “pacifists” propose is a two-state solution. That attempt at “justice and peacemaking” would devastate Israel. Standing in the way of a two-state solution is the traditional, biblical, eschatological view that most evangelicals hold dear. There is currently a massive effort underway throughout Christianity to neutralize and eject that view from evangelicalism. The result, unintended or perhaps intended, is that anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head in evangelicalism.

Therefore, we are wary of overtures of justice and peacemaking by individuals who have been involved in efforts to impose a two-state solution on Israel.  Is it the intent of R3 authors to legitimize a worldview that undermines historical evangelical support for Israel in the name of justice and peacemaking? We can help answer that question by taking a look at some of R3’s authors.

R3 author Murray Dempster is considered by some of his peers as the “‘Grandfather of Modern Pentecostal Pacifism.” Dempster was a signer of the document “An Evangelical Statement on Israel/Palestine” that proposes a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He also signed a letter to President George Bush in July 29, 2007, calling for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that includes the vast majority of the West Bank.

Dempster is professor of social ethics at Assemblies of God Southeastern University. An online blog post titled, “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” features the testimony by David Thrower expressing concern about the influence of the Emergent Church and “progressive” adherents that question the supremacy of God and the authority and veracity of His Word at Southeastern. Thrower mentioned Dempster touting liberal theologian James Cone. However, deeply troubling was his observation concerning rampant anti-Semitism that included an on-campus lecture by pro-Palestine advocate Sami Awad. At one point in the lecture, Awad had very anti-Semitic comments mentioning that Israel did not have a right to exist. – Chelsen Vicari, Juicy Ecumenism blog; December 18, 2014, https://juicyecumenism.com/2014/12/18/squishy-theology-assembly-gods-southeastern-university/

Another R3 author, Robert E. Cooley, signed the Yale “A Common Word” Christian Response document http://faith.yale.edu/common-word/common-word-christian-response. Among the signers is Rick Warren, one of the speakers at the upcoming 57th General Council in Anaheim. The document begins:

As members of the worldwide Christian community, we were deeply encouraged and challenged by the recent historic open letter signed by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world. “A Common Word Between Us and You” identifies some core common ground between Christianity and Islam which lies at the heart of our respective faiths as well as at the heart of the most ancient Abrahamic faith, Judaism.

The document also stated:

Before we “shake your hand” in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All-Merciful One [a name for the Muslim god] and of the Muslim community around the world. . . . That so much common ground exists—common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith—gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together.

As I pointed out in my commentary, R3 author Robert W. Houlihan and Russell P. Spittler have made statements in support of Dempster.

How can I or anyone who is willing to take a serious look at this situation conclude that R3 is anything other than an attempt to undermine evangelical support for Israel?

Related Information:

The Berean Call Conference: Israel in the Line of Fire

DVD Exposes “Christian Palestinianism” and the Evangelical Leaders Promoting It

 Chrislam – The Blending Together of Islam & Christianity

Another Look: Has the Church Replaced Israel?

Terror Against Israel

 

Is It a Solution or a Snow Job?

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

bigstockphoto.com

One of the most effective methods of satanic deception operates as a straw man argument. Of course, a straw man argument is a dishonest debate trick where an individual attributes a false position to his or her opponent and then defeats that position. It gives the false perception that he or she has won a point.

It is as a man wanting to impress a lady. So he burglarizes her house when she is away. Then he shows up with sympathy and offers to use his contacts and abilities to recover her cherished belongings. After a few days he shows up with her valuables. He explains that one of his contacts was able to recover the stuff, but he is not privy to the details. That trick makes a hero out of a thief and perhaps worse.

A similar example occurred in California concerning arson investigator and novelist John Orr. Orr rose up through the ranks to become a distinguished arson investigator because of his uncanny ability to discover the cause of arson fires. However, he was responsible for setting many of the arson fires he had investigated. Eventually, he was arrested, charged, and convicted of arson and murder. Click here to continue reading.

Cedric Fisher is the director of Truth Keepers ministry and the author of three Lighthouse Trails booklets.

They Love Error More Than Truth

By Cedric Fisher

Professing Christians are fawning over every heretic, heresy, heretical book, and blasphemous movie. They will race off to conferences with a speaker lineup that reads like a “Who’s Who” in false “ministers of righteousness.” The truth floats on by them, but they eagerly reach out, grab, and gush over every falsehood.  But they will not rejoice over or promote truth. Further, they refuse to invest any time and energy defending anyone who presents truth when they are under attack.

So God sends His messengers to warn them just as He sent prophets to apostate Israel. But will they listen? They will not listen. We are in the last of the last days before this earth is shaken by the consequences of its rebellion. God knows their hearts are hard, their ears are dull, and their eyes refuse to see, but He sends His messengers anyway. Why?

He sends them because God is just, He is merciful, and God is love.  He is not willing that the wicked should perish.  He sends His messengers because He wants people to heed, return to Him, surrender, reject wickedness and accept righteousness, and be spared the consequences of their sinfulness.

But they reject God’s messengers. They call them mean-spirited, hateful, ignorant, self-righteous, and even diabolical, for the sole reason that His messengers pierce their fickle and carnal hearts with anointed truth.

When they speak harsh rebukes to God’s messengers, they are speaking against Him. Condemning God’s messengers is as condemning the message and the One who sent it. It is as rejecting His righteous authority. Click here to continue reading.

2016 YEAR IN REVIEW – PART 3 – TOP 10 ARTICLES BY LIKE-MINDED MINISTRIES

See also Part 1 Year in Review | See also Part 2 Year in Review

Listed in order of date posted.

1/Jesuit Pope Francis, Pastor Rick Warren And The Coming One-World Religion for Peace

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times

Hardly a day goes by without news relating to Bible prophecy and especially the advancing trend towards a global religion for the cause of peace. It seems there are few who understand this is what the Bible predicts will happen on planet earth before the return of Jesus Christ to set up His Kingdom.

2/Terror Against Israel

By Tony Pearce
Light For the Last Days Ministries (UK)

Israel is in the grip of a terror offensive as Palestinians have been attacking Israelis with knives and driving their cars at them. Between September 13 and November 30, 2015, 22 Israelis were killed and 215 wounded.

The attacks began after false accusations that Israel was defiling the Al Aqsa Mosque (on the site of the former Jewish Temple in Jerusalem). Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been telling his people that Israel was planning to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque and “change the Arab and Islamic character and identity” of Jerusalem. He condemned Jews for “defiling the Aqsa Mosque with their filthy feet.” Radical Islamist and terrorist elements are calling on Palestinian youth to murder Jews. Statements by Fatah and Hamas have described the attacks as “heroic actions” and “the natural response to Israel”s crimes.”

3/The Rising Storm and a Clarion Call for Humility, Truth, and Repentance

By Chris Lawson
Spiritual Research Network

Filmed between a 45-minute break between down-pouring rain and a storm system approaching from the horizon, this unscripted, impromptu video expresses my heart and desire to see people in the Calvary Chapel movement (and other movements) helped and healed and strengthened in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in these last days.

I have no desire to divide the Body of Christ or needlessly offend anyone who is in Calvary Chapel movement and beyond. I am simply sharing my heart and God’s truth in light of a number of observations I have seen growing for over 25 years now in the Calvary Chapel movement. Things now have become so blatant in the rising storm of ecumenical apostasy that only sincere prayer and publicly declared clarion calls for humility, truth, and repentance will make any difference at all. My prayer is that God Himself by His Spirit and His Word will raise up clarion voices around the globe in this late hour.

As a Christian missionary and as a former Calvary Chapel pastor for many years, I have been observing a growing trend of too many people remaining silent on far too many major ecumenical compromises. A host of other issues are also of concern.

4/Guideposts: Teaching Little Children to Blaspheme

By Cedric Fisher
TruthKeepers

Recently, I was in a hospital waiting room and reluctantly picked up an issue of Guidepost Magazine. I very seldom read Guidepost because the long-time publisher, Norman Vincent Peale, promotes heresy and diabolical religions. He has also denied the virgin birth and the necessity of being born again.

As I perused the magazine, I landed on an article by Anna Gentile, a hospital chaplain. The article was about Guideposts and Gentile’s work with sick children.

5/Andy Stanley’s Dangerous Path – Tells SBC Leaders “Get the spotlight off the Bible.”

By Jim Fletcher

Late last month, the Southern Baptist Convention’s “Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission” (ERLC) hosted another self-serving conference in Nashville, titled “Onward” (shockingly, the same title as that of the ERLC chief’s new book; it’s about the marketing, stupid). Stanley was invited to speak. Boy, did he.

While ERLC President Russell Moore looked on grinning, Andy Stanley said the following: “I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communications to get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection.”

6/The Hijacking of the Calvary Chapel Movement into the Coming One-World Religion

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times

The commentary you are about to read has been written with much prayer and thought. I have not written it impulsively or with ill motive but rather believe God has compelled me to testify of things that have gone unspoken of and hidden in secret for too long. For the sake of the body of Christ and the furtherance of the Gospel, the secret things in darkness need to be exposed.

There are a number of low-profile Calvary Chapel pastors starting to ask questions. Chuck Smith, the founder of the movement, seemed to be biblically sound and determined to serve the Lord throughout his many years of ministry. Toward the end of his ministry, it appears there were strange bedfellows planted around him who in earlier years he would have avoided. So what happened? The purpose of this commentary will be to answer that question.

Chuck Smith attributed the growth and the strength of the Calvary Chapel movement to the Holy Spirit and not to man-designed gimmicks or human effort. He never wavered from that position until the day he died. He called Calvary Chapel “His Church.” While there were those who had some questions about strange things going on behind the scenes, the Calvary ship sailed pretty well most of the time.

7/Fed Up With False Teaching: Calvary Chapel Church Says “So Long” to the CC Association

By Amy Spreeman
Berean Research

Fed up with false teaching: Calvary Chapel church says “So Long” to the CC Association – Berean Research

A Calvary Chapel pastor who warned of false teachings and apostate movements seeping into the Calvary Chapel organization has been removed from his regional leadership position, and is now removing his local congregation out of the Calvary Chapel Association altogether.Pastor Dwight Douville of Calvary Chapel Appleton Wisconsin was informed last month that he was being removed from his position as a regional leader, a position he’s held for many years. Why? He says because personal friendships have been put above doctrinal truth, muddying the waters of what Calvary Chapels are all about. And because he advocated for maintaining and staying the course while calling out wolves and yeast seeping into Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and the organization as a whole since the death of founder Chuck Smith.

8/The Spirit of Antichrist—in the Church

By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Paul warns us that at the end of the age, inside the church, there will be teachings of demons—quite a serious charge. That it will be a time that is extremely dangerous to believers who do not know the Word correctly and do not watch what they are being taught.

The Devil has tailor-made deceptions for every church in every age; he knows the people’s weaknesses and propensities to do wrong in certain areas. He will use whomever he can in whatever capacity he can to bring confusion, falsehoods, and destruction—especially if he can target a church’s pastor. Contrary to popular teaching, the Devil, who is the greatest of angelic creatures, is of the highest intelligence, has power, and is often underestimated in his scheming by those who think they can bind him.

9/New Age Leader Deepak Chopra Asks? “Will Pope Francis Become a Holy Man for the World?”

By Ray Yungen 

In an article released in January 2016 written by New Age leader Deepak Chopra titled, “Will Pope Francis Become a Holy Man for the World?,” Chopra states,

Pope Francis I is poised to be more than a very popular pontiff . . . He could rise to become a symbol of holiness beyond the Catholic Church. . . . for those of us who aren’t Catholic, there’s a universal message voiced personally by the Pope: “No one can be excluded from God’s mercy. The question, then, is how potent this mission will be.

Chopra says that “millions of non-Catholics feel a fresh wind blowing” because of the Pope’s actions and that Pope Francis has “become a spiritual exemplar.”

In the article, Chopra gives some advice to Pope Francis, that he not become another “theological” pope but rather  one with a “higher consciousness” and like the “Jesus” who was not theological but rather “enlightened.”

10/Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Infiltration of Major School Systems

By Lois Putnam

Miami-Dade County Schools Partner with Mindful Kids Miami

Miami-Dade County Schools (Fourth Largest School District in the U.S.A.) is being transformed into a mindfulness-yoga school system through its partnership with Mindful Kids Miami, and its mindfulness lady leader–Valerie York-Zimmerman.

Yes, grades Pre-K through 12, students as well as teachers and administrators will be instructed in mindfulness meditation. Training centers have been set up all over Miami even in the sanctuary of the “most progressive church in the city”–Riviera Presbyterian Church (USA).  Recently Riviera adherents proudly held up a banner reading, “We All Are God’s Beloved Children: No Exceptions!”

NEW BOOKLET: FAITH UNDER FIRE—Are You Growing in It or Fleeing From It?

NEW BOOKLET: FAITH UNDER FIRE—Are You Growing in It or Fleeing From It? by Cedric H. Fisher is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet.  The Booklet is 10 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet.  To order copies of FAITH UNDER FIRE—Are You Growing in It or Fleeing From It?, click here. 

FAITH UNDER FIRE—Are You Growing in It or Fleeing From It?

By Cedric H. Fisher

God’s Word gives us examples of faith in the fire, faith in the flood, faith when outnumbered by the enemy, faith when facing an indomitable foe, faith in prison, faith during torture, faith when destitute, hungry, and thirsty, faith on stormy seas, faith to lose everything and faith to receive it all back again, faith to procreate though infertile, and faith to die. Every instance of faith thus described is manifested in adversity or great need. To find examples in Scripture of faith operating in a peaceful and bountiful climate would be a difficult task. I’m not sure there are any at all.

The Bible likens God’s way of purifying the faith of a believer to the refining process of gold. Peter writes:

. . . that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)

The refining process of gold requires that it be heated to a molten condition whereby the impurities (dross) float to the top and are skimmed off. The prophet Malachi describes this process as an illustration of how God purifies the believer:

[A]nd he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)

Some might contend that the peaceful climate is the result of faith. That may be true, but it is not faith in operation. Good health is the result of exercise, but it is not exercise. If our comfortable status is faith, then the testings of faith would not require adversity. Further, there would be no biblical examples of godly men and women exercising faith to overcome adversity.

The obvious truth is that the appearance of faith tends to be relatively dormant in times of peace. We are sustained by the benefits of our relationship with God. However, when a true Christian believes he can go through life without any adversity, such a person is being set up to be “channeled.” Now, what I am referring to by “channeled” is this: when someone tries to avoid adversity, he is actually setting himself up to be manipulated and channeled by Satan who is always at work to make it difficult and painful for devoted believers to obey God’s will.

Let me elaborate on this line of thought. If a Christian believer intends to be a light that shines in darkness, he becomes a target of evil entities. If he stands up for and speaks the truth, he will suffer. If he accepts, assimilates, and defends the values of godliness, he will suffer. If he refuses to go with the flow of nominal Christianity or worse, apostasy, he will suffer. If he refuses to deviate from God’s Word in a time of great compromise, he will suffer. If he has a prophetic calling, he might even lose his life for Christ’s sake.

Consider this scenario: A professing Christian has witnessed the suffering of a fellow believer who is being a true witness for Jesus Christ. The professing Christian has tried to do the same and experiences similar sufferings and consequences. As a result, he decides to avoid manifesting any fruit of Christianity that causes contention, rejection, or persecution. He is considered one of the nicest, most gregarious, kindly, friendly, and positive people. Everyone loves him and speaks well of him. What’s more, he is flexible and capable of mingling with any belief system. Nearly everyone enjoys associating with him, and he has excellent rapport with all of them. Secular and religious people of all stripes laud him as an example of a true Christian. And he does not want to lose that status, so he makes every attempt to make sure he doesn’t end up suffering again.

However, such a Christian does not match the examples of what the Bible describes as true Christianity, nor does he match the example of Christ Himself. In reality, such professing Christians, in their efforts to avoid the consequences and sufferings of true Christianity, are being “channeled” by Satan and his imps. Upon seeing this compromising attitude, these adversaries of our souls can re-circumvent lives (i.e., change the direction one is going) by causing situations that re-direct that person in his walk because he wants to avoid suffering, ridicule, and rejection for standing in and defending the faith.

These re-directed channeled Christians have, in effect, turned down their light to a non-offensive level. In fact, they are not actually lights at all, but shadows; they lie somewhere between light and darkness. The path they walk weaves around every uncomfortable and inconvenient situation; they walk in a state of delusion because deceit has become the norm for them. Christ warned about this type of fruitless follower.

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)

The apostle Paul described what would befall the ones who truly desire to live godly in Christ. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter also wrote about the suffering of true followers of Christ. He mentioned the suffering of believers eighteen times in his first letter.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:12-13)

Isn’t it interesting (and tragic) that so many modern-day Christians believe it is strange to suffer and that it is not God’s will. They believe they are supposed to be constantly happy, blessed, healthy, wealthy, and peaceful, while enjoying life in this temporal realm. The terms “happy,” “blessed,” “peaceful,” etc, are relative. Those emotions are based on a life ordered by them, not by God. They avoid all negativity. They have no productivity because it is inconvenient.

Heretics find a willing audience in these individuals because they never resist darkness. To do so would be too uncomfortable and painful. Their lives are empty, swept, and ordered (Matthew 12:44).  They’ve maintained a shiny neon shell of godliness, but there is no substance inside. The will of God is not included in their order. Standing up for truth, being a true light that exposes evil, obeying God when the price is rejection, or worse, harsh persecution, are not in their order of things to do.

The focus of that type of professing Christian is on milking God’s Word and kingdom of all the benefits without incurring the costs of genuine relationship. They are “professors,” but not possessors. They never exercise faith because they avoid the situations where faith is needed. There is no sense of true victory in them. There must be constant stimulation from a source other than God and His Word.

I think of the so-called present-day “Christian” music and how so much of it lacks the substance to build one’s faith. This faith-less music does not exhort people to repent, fully surrender to God, pray, and refrain from lifestyles that caused their defeat. Instead, the great majority of the songs put the entire responsibility of ones deliverance from sin on God; and while it is true that only God can break the bondage to sin, it is also true that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Hebrews 11:6). The backslider and hypocrite are treated as helpless victims instead of rebels who need to acknowledge their sin and repent. We certainly need His forgiveness, but He has made it clear that repentance, denouncing our sin, and surrendering to His will is our responsibility. (Remember the old hymn, “Kneel at the Cross”?) And you sure won’t hear too many songs in today’s churches that talk about the sufferings of Christ that we must also be prepared to endure. In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he so eloquently describes the role and the results of our willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings. (Philippians 3:7-10)

Christians who do not exercise their faith but rather run from it end up in a miserable and decrepit spiritual condition. And allowing such a thing to happen does not honor God at all. For one thing, it ignores and rejects all He has given us for victory, the “precious promises” He gives us for living godly lives consecrated to Him. To such people, the substance of faith is more a happy thought or luck charm than it is a supernatural infusion of iron will to fight the good fight and win:

[W]hereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:4-8)

The damage of the so-called “positive confession” aka “Word of Faith” heresy has been to strip out the heart of a warrior and replace it with the heart of entitlement-mindedness. Even committed followers of Jesus Christ can be affected by this fallacy if they are not watchful. When they suffer and feel alone and rejected, they wonder if God has abandoned them. That is actually an opportunity for faith to go from embers to blazing brilliance.
As long as we are humans and children of God, we need the trials. When distraction and disfocus dim our view of God’s glory or our humanity incrementally cools us to a temperature less than hot, we need the fiery trials. In essence, we must embrace them. Paul said he actually took pleasure in them (because he knew the benefits of them):

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

From my own experiences during fiery trials, I can testify that the pain, the angst, and other suffering are conquered the instant I surrender to the flames. It is like falling backwards off a steep cliff into the hands of God. There is no parachute and no stopping halfway. If He doesn’t catch you, then you will hit the bottom and die. That is literally the goal of faith—to trust God with your life and everything in it. All that is not put into His hands is unprotected and causes us angst and suffering. However, when all is surrendered, we receive a deep serenity that the fire will not burn anything except what needs to be consumed. That’s when the gold shines.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9; emphasis added)

Remember, the destiny of Christ was a cross. Our destiny is also a cross. Only when we accept that destiny, will we understand. Newness of life has its birth and growing pains. But the heart of a believer in Jesus Christ holds this proverb by its roots:

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18; emphasis added)

In the meantime, let us not grow weary of the trials and tribulations of this life, knowing that God is doing His work within us for His glory:

But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

Below is the content of the booklet.  To order copies of FAITH UNDER FIRE—Are You Growing in It or Fleeing From It?, click here. 

For more by Cedric Fisher, click here.

LifeWay Resources (SBC) Stops Selling Same-Sex Marriage Promoter Jen Hatmaker . . . But LifeWay Still Not Seeing the Big Picture

photo: Christianity Today

Jen Hatmaker; photo: Christianity Today

According to a Christianity Today article, LifeWay Resources (the Southern Baptist Convention resource arm) has stopped selling products by Jen Hatmaker because of her promotion of same-sex marriage. The CT article stated:

Jen Hatmaker posted a 650-word response on her Facebook page Monday, saying she “wrestled with and through Scripture, not around it” before coming to a decision to affirm same-sex relationships, which recently led to LifeWay Christian Resources pulling her books from its stores.

Hatmaker has been the topic of Lighthouse Trails articles and Cedric Fisher’s booklet called IF it is of God: Answering the Questions About IF: Gathering as she is part of the group of women who head up the women’s movement called IF: Gathering. You can read that booklet by Fisher by clicking here. In Fisher’s booklet, he says this about Jen Hatmaker:

In Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted: When Jesus Wreck Your Comfortable Christianity, she makes it clear that she is influenced by a number of New Age/New Spirituality individuals. She quotes Catholic priest and contemplative activist Richard Rohr and emergent leader Shane Claiborne. On her blog, she promotes the book, The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson, a book that encourages readers to draw circles around specific things in order to have more answered prayers. Batterson was inspired with this idea by an ancient sage.

In Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, she reveals that her family takes part in a Roman Catholic ritual with mystical origins, the “Seven Sacred Pauses.” Hatmaker got her inspiration from Seven Sacred Pauses, a book by Macrina Wiederkehr who is a spiritual director in the contemplative prayer movement. In Wiederkehr’s retreats, seekers are guided through experiences of silence, contemplation and lectio divina (a contemplative practice where words and phrases from the Bible are repeated in mantra-like fashion). The “seven sacred pauses” are seven times a day to pause and pray, which Wiederkehr describes as “breathing spells for the soul.”

Consider Hatmaker’s statement concerning the preaching of God’s Word:

“I have spent half my life listening to someone else talk about God. Because of this history, I’ve developed something of an immunity to sermons.”

This is eerily similar to the sentiment of Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Secret Life of Bees), who once, as a conservative Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher, expressed her dissatisfaction (and eventual rejection) of the preaching of God’s Word. That led Monk Kidd down a path away from the Christian faith and straight into the New Age. Today, she worships the goddess Sophia.

This disgruntlement of God’s Word is so prevalent among leaders of the emerging New Spirituality church. If not preaching, then what? Is it emotionally charged conventions and books with flowering, poetic phrases that open up to spit out a toxic drop of heresy? If Hatmaker is immune to preaching, she has rejected God’s method in favor of her own. (source and footnotes)

While LifeWay did the right thing in dropping Hatmaker’s products, they still do not see the big picture as they keep a tight grasp on numerous problematic authors such as Sarah Young (and her cash-cow Jesus Calling books and Bibles), Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Gary Thomas, Ruth Haley Barton, and many more contemplative, emergent authors.

The fact that LifeWay will remove books by someone promoting same-sex marriage but not remove books by authors who promote a mystical, panentheistic interspiritual prayer shows once again that Christian leaders and ministries just don’t get it. How is it that one is OK and the other is not? After all, they are both going in the same direction, and that is away from the Gospel and away from God’s Word. Where are the overseers of LifeWay and the Southern Baptist Convention? Surely, they are learned men who should be able to figure this out.


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