LTRP Note: We hope readers realize that the present issue with Assemblies of God and their position on Israel is not isolated to AG. We are witnessing a change in attitude and a giving in to societal pressures with other denominations and Christian groups as well. While some denominations, such as Reformed, have historically been Replacement Theology (thus not for Israel), most evangelical denominations have been historically for Israel. We believe, based on the unhealthy condition of the church at large today, this paradigm shift that is currently taking place is going to become widespread, just as the mystical paradigm shift did and is now in full “blossom” in the church (i.e., contemplative prayer/Spiritual Formation).
By Jim Fletcher
Used with permission.
A controversy erupted this past week when Lighthouse Trails published an article by former Assemblies of God pastor Cedric Fisher.
Just ahead of the AG’s General Council (August 7-11 in Anaheim CA), Fisher notes some troubling trends with regard to Israel in official AG documents, including upcoming resolutions.
In particular, Resolution 3 gives pause to those of us who have always appreciated the fact that the AG overall has been staunchly pro Israel. I think of people like David Lewis, a champion for Israel. David was an AG evangelist for 50 years, but he’s been gone now for 10 years.
No one has replaced him.
In fact, whether it is AG influencers like Prof. Paul Alexander, or pastors with Pentecostal roots like Jonathan Martin, a sea change has occurred in the past few years: “Palestine” is now a thing.
Added to this troubling development is the infiltration of such communities by change agents like Brian McLaren (who cleverly networks with Pentecostals and Baptists, even though—my description—he is much more of a mystic and New Ager).
Alexander, Martin, and McLaren are anti-Israel, pro Palestinian speakers and authors.
Back to the AG resolution. I encourage you to go to the Lighthouse Trails website and read the documents for yourself, but essentially, Fisher says that a “peace and justice/peacemaking” theme has emerged within the Assemblies of God, and this does not bode well for Israel support.
I agree with him.
There are few sources willing to inform the laity what is really going on within Evangelicalism, but Lighthouse Trails does. There are a handful of individuals like Pastor Fisher who are willing to do that, as well.
In contrast, denominational power structures and the broader ecumenical coalition allow leaders like Dr. George O. Wood (general superintendent of the AG) to keep the laity in the dark. Now, I don’t mean that Wood himself is part of some diabolical scheme to flip Israel support among evangelicals.
But I do mean that he and others like him have so aligned themselves and their denominations with the Rick Warren-inspired Church Growth Model that it is now impossible to right the ship and return Evangelicalism to a purely biblical teaching approach. When you do that, you ensure that your pulpits will be filled with pragmatists and even change agents who are, I believe, those who have “crept in unawares,” per Jude.
Wood took great exception to Fisher’s article, and he lambasted the author and LT and said they should retract it and apologize.
He was able to factually say certain things, such as Israel is not actually mentioned in Resolution 3. Yet this is the “argument from silence.” What Resolution 3 does commit the Assemblies of God to is the strange idea that:
“The General Council of the Assemblies of God, district councils, and local churches should be involved in conflict resolution between churches, denominations, races, religions, and countries. We believe justice and peacemaking are necessary complements of compassion ministries, and this should be clearly stated in our Constitution.”
Really? The AG should involve itself in conflict resolution models in other religions and other countries?
I strongly disagree.
Further, the constant use of language such as “justice, peacemaking,” etc. clearly is inspired by leftist activists. This is their verbiage. The title of Resolution 3 is: “Compassion, Justice, and Peacemaking.”
This is precisely the language of the Left. It is used day and night to influence Christian Millennials, and it is working. One key target in their cross-hairs is pro Israel support among evangelicals.
Fisher’s point—that such documents are moving us squarely into a place where Israel is lambasted and demonized—is wholly accurate in my view.
At one point in his pointed response, Wood says he has been to Israel 40 times, as if this cred insulates the denomination from anti-Israel invective. You see, of course, the falseness of this defense. One can visit Israel dozens of times, as many anti-Israel activists do, and not be pro Israel.
I’m not saying that Wood himself is anti-Israel. What I’m saying (and what I think Fisher is saying) is that allowing anti-Israel influences to infiltrate the AG (or SBC, or any other denomination) is the problem.
This can be proven many times over. In the days of Promise Keepers, roughly 20 years ago, networking among denominations and divergent ministries was fast-tracked, intentionally. This ensured that it would be acceptable for, say, a seemingly solid evangelical pastor to recommend Brian McLaren’s books on his blog. Or that a Baptist church sending its staff to a Catalyst Conference—stacked with anti-Israel speakers—was acceptable.
This is the issue.
Again, I encourage you to read the LT website blog for yourself and come to your own conclusions. See if my position makes sense, or Wood’s position makes sense.
As an aside, Wood got his Ph.D. from Fuller Seminary. I mention this because at the time he was there, Fuller was being transformed from an evangelical institution into a left-wing think-thank, thanks to the efforts of people like Daniel Fuller, son of founder Charles Fuller. All this is outlined in Paul Smith’s book, New Evangelicalism, one of the most important books to come out in the last 25 years, at least.
Point being, it can’t be proven that Wood is “anti-Israel,” and I wouldn’t make the charge. Yet in the network in which he moves and works, there are tons of anti-Israel leaders.
That is the problem.
Kudos to Cedric Fisher and Lighthouse Trails for bringing this to our attention. They suffer the slings and arrows of mocking and rage and defamation because of their commitment to the truth.
This is a big deal.