By Cedric Fisher
During the 57th Assemblies of God General Council in Anaheim, California, August 7-11, 2017, the denomination’s membership will vote on Resolution 3. The Resolution is presented as an affirmation that the church should be involved in peace-keeping through conflict resolution. One is compelled to ask why such a resolution is needed. As most denominations, the AoG already has bylaws and leadership positions that promote peace and engage in conflict resolution within the denomination. Apparently, Resolution 3 proposes to involve the membership in the affairs of races, religions, and nations outside the denomination.
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. – Resolution 3, 57th General Council, August 7-11, 2017, Anaheim, California.
Some members are deeply concerned that the Resolution will weaken and perhaps obliterate the denominations support for Israel. I believe they have good cause for concern. The leadership has already approved two position papers, “Church Mission and Peacemaking” and “Israel – the Church’s Response,” both which negatively affect Israel. Those position papers are essential to understanding the consequences of passing Resolution 3. (correction: The “Israel – the Church’s Response is not a position paper, but rather is an AoG article listed under AoG Beliefs “based upon [AoG] common understanding of scriptural teaching.”
The New Paradigm
The amalgamation of those position papers and Resolution 3 would establish a new paradigm regarding the denomination’s view and treatment of Israel. The new paradigm aligns with the emerging consensus of significant leaders in Christianity that insists Israel’s biblical-based claims are responsible for unrest in the Mideast. They are further convinced that evangelical support for Israel erroneously strengthens those claims. Their solution is to diminish that support, express sympathy with Muslims and Palestinians, and pressure Israel to relinquish her biblical entitlements. This is evident in the insidious statement in “Israel – the Church’s Response”:
And many Christians outside Israel seem bent on assisting God in fulfilling His prophesied blessing on His chosen people. – “Israel – the Church’s Response”
That reads like something right out of a political Progressive emergent handbook. It implies that “Christians outside Israel” are deceived or misguided. By whom? Israel? We are not misguided, but informed by God’s word. Conversely, agreeing with or sympathizing with Israel’s enemies actually assists Satan in fulfilling his plan to oppress and annihilate Israel.
In “Church Mission and Peacemaking” under the section, “Biblical Directives for Peacemaking,” the paper mentions Israel’s historical apostasies and makes this provocative statement:
The great writing prophets of the Old Testament severely condemned the dreadful social exploitation and injustice of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in their prosperous but declining years.
The references makes it clear that the authors consider Israel to be the problem in accomplishing peace because of their steadfast refusal to accept the demands of her enemies.
The new paradigm further emerges in the following statement:
Because of the contribution of the patriarchs, of Jesus, and of the Jewish disciples to our Christian faith, the Church is often viewed as being pro-Israel, and therefore anti-Palestinian. But we must never forget our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters who suffer great terrors and hurts. But neither should we forget the Jewish Christians and others who are caught in this conflict. We must remember that millions on both sides of this end-times conflict need to come to a faith in Jesus Christ. – “Israel – the Church’s Response”
Because of what the Scriptures tell us, we as Christian believers must stand by Israel and the Jewish people. That does not mean that a Christian is against Palestinians who are genuine Christians. However, we must be opposed to any attempt to oppress or destroy Israel or divest her of biblical entitlements. Today, we are witnessing a fast-growing change in attitude by Christian groups around the world toward Israel and the Jews, one that is fueling anti-Semitism and a general animosity toward them.
Rick Warrens P.E.A.C.E. plan
The new paradigm also appears to align with Rick Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan and his concept of “religious pluralism.” Warren’s idea is that Muslims and Christians should be partners in working to end what he calls “the five global giants.” One of the things Warren asks is how can Christians and Muslims work together to bring peace to the world? The answer is by one or both religions to compromise their belief systems and scheme to delegitimize Israel.
Warren’s overtures to Muslims and tenure on the Council of Foreign Relation should discredit him as a model of Christian leadership. However, the extent of his acceptance by AoG leaders is astounding and perplexing. AoG General Superintendent George O. Wood and other leaders of the denomination appear enamored with Warren to the extent they are virtually subservient. That adulation is also prevalent among the younger ministers. Many of the same individuals are covertly or overtly involved in ecumenism. Could that be the reason for a steady effort to bring the denomination into compliance with Warren’s worldview? A necessary step would be to publically express sympathy with Palestinians and Muslims.
Resolution 3 is an attempt to present a more powerful statement of disassociation with Israel. Clearly, the AoG leadership rejects the biblical view that Israel plays a special role in God’s eschatological plan. It appears they have bought into the politics of the political Progressives, the Seeker/Emergents, and Rick Warren’s worldview. Whatever their motivation, it is without a doubt not founded on a biblical mandate.
Is There a Biblical Basis for Peace in the End Times?
The questions are, “Can anyone except Christ achieve peace on earth and should that be the church’s mission in these last days?” Every student of eschatology understands that “war and rumors of war” is a prophetic sign of the end times. A companion sign is that all nations will oppose Israel. Sympathizing with Israel’s enemies to end war encourages aggression against Israel. The authors of Resolution 3 extend that sympathy under the guise of an alleged biblical mandate for “the Church” to be involved in peacekeeping between nations. Any peace that could come out of such an effort will be false peace, which is one of the deceptions Antichrist will foist on the world.
Resolution 3 authors attempt to provide a scriptural base for their claims:
However, the Scriptures strongly support conflict resolution as an appropriate method to obtain peace when one is wronged or has wronged another. – Resolution 3
All the biblical references they provide for support of the Resolution are primarily about personal relationships and harmony among God’s people. Also, consider that none of the verses concern eschatology. The verses they use cannot be co-opted to endorse sympathy for Israel’s enemies without violating the spirit of the exegesis. The authors are, in fact, using God’s Word to support spiritually fatal compromise. Further, I must point out that rejecting Israel’s claims that are solidly based on unambiguous Scriptures, while establishing a contradictory narrative based on ambiguous scriptural references, is patently duplicitous. It is the stuff of heresy.
Christ declared that He did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34). There cannot be peace between light and darkness. There can be no peace or ecumenism between diabolical religions and true Christianity. Neither will there be peace between Israel and her enemies. Let us not forget that God’s adversary, Satan, hates Christians, and he hates the Jews and Israel.
Additionally, peace cannot exist in a community when a church takes upon itself to solve every conflict. God’s Word actually has something to say about that bad decision:
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him,is like one that taketh a dog by the ears. – Proverbs 26:17
Authors of Resolution 3
Finally, it is important to consider the authors of Resolution 3. It was difficult to discover if all of them were credentialed with the Assemblies of God. References to being AoG ministers or working in organizations connected to the denomination are missing in most of the source material.
The chairperson of the Resolution committee is Donald H, Detrick. Detrick’s wife, Jodie Detrick, is a Life Coach and supporter of contemplative spirituality. Mrs. Detrick wrote the AoG defense of inviting New Age guru Ruth Haley Barton to speak at the General Council in Orlando, Florida.
Concerning the authors of Resolution 3, the following is a sampling of information easily available on the Internet:
J. Ross Byars: Co-founder of Jerusalem School Bethlehem on the West Bank, “Impacting the Arab World with the message of hope through education.” The school delivers to mostly Palestinian youth the “Good News of the Gospel delivered through a culturally-relevant lens.” The pacifism of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Mahatma Gandhi are taught. The schools “takes an ecumenical approach because most of its students are Muslims.” – Haaretz.com, “Think Palestinian Schools Preach Violence? Visit This One,” July 22, 2017
Furthermore, JSB teaches a mystical teaching, the concept of the ‘inner eye,’ from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Kabbalist and the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi in British Mandatory Palestine. – ibid
Robert E. Cooley: President Emeritus and former Professor of Biblical Studies and Archaeology of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminar. Dr. Cooley was a consultant on the merging of the Assemblies of God schools in Springfield. I advise individuals to watch his YouTube video about the leadership challenges of globalization and social diversification of communities, “Evangelical Leadership in the 21st Century” January 30, 2015. I also encourage reading “The Future of the Christian University: An Interview with Dr. Robert E. Cooley” on Pathos.com. Cooley advocates a new paradigm by Christianity regarding its association with nations and religions. His involvement with Resolution 3 defines more clearly what he means by that advocacy.
Murray W. Dempster: Professor of Social Ethics, Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida. Author of Christian Concern in Pentecostal Perspective: Reformulating Pentecostal Eschatology, Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective, and other books.
Robert W. Houlihan: Professor of Practical Ministry and Missions at Southwestern University. Houihan wrote, “Another area that has caused some concerns for Pentecostals in recent years is the realization that the early Pentecostals overemphasized evangelism and neglected cultural sensitivity and the social and justices issues for the poor. . . . More recently Pentecostal scholars such as Murray Dempster have created a framework to help missionaries reflect on the biblical text and provide them with a social ethic to undergird their social practices.” – Robert Houlihan; “Theological Education in a Cross-Cultural Context: Essays in Honor of John and Bea Carter; Accessing Missional Ministries in the Pentecostal Church: A Trial of Overemphasis on Evangelism.”
Nam Soo Kim: Pastor of Promise Church and Promise Ministries International, Seoul, South Korea. PMI considers itself as a ministry to the world’s 1.85 billion children. Not much is publically known about 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.
Russell P. Spittler: Senior professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. Author of Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism, Charismatic Christianity as a Global Culture, and other books. Spittler wrote in support of Murray Dempster’s book, Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective: “An unprecedented mix of pentecostal theology and mission practice, virtually a manifesto for pentecostal missions. . . . The fullest and finest missiological treatise originating within classical Pentecostalism available.”–Russell P. Spittler
Prophecy is Being Fulfilled
In conclusion, I must point out that Rome changed the name of Judea to Palestine in 136 A.D. Islam did not arrive until about the 7th century A.D. Christianity is a religion that originated with a Jewish man, Christ Jesus the Son of God. The church is established on Jewish disciples of Christ with Him as the Cornerstone. Historically and evidentiary, there is no basis for any attempt to dispose Israel of her biblical heritage and rights.
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. That is not peace keeping, but quite the opposite. It is meddling in affairs that the true church, the Body of Christ, has no biblical mandate to become involved in. Furthermore, it is compromise of the worst sort during the worst period in Israel’s history and likely to help trigger an unprecedented military attack on Israel.
What we are witnessing is the formation of the False Prophet’s global church and the dark kingdom of Antichrist. Prophecy is racing toward fulfillment. Christianity’s leaders and theologians are more concerned about the relevance of Christianity, its political position in the world system, and the numerical value of Christendom than about standing uncompromisingly for God’s truth. I do believe that some professing Christians feel intense pressure to compromise and thereby avoid being ostracized or even persecuted.
It is time to wake up and heed God’s Word. Love for truth is dissipating as fog in the morning sun. Convenient yet false interpretations of God’s Word are being duplicitously presented as new truth. The resulting false conclusions are leading to a dangerous and perhaps eternally fatal pragmatism.
Reminder: What Lighthouse Trails Believes About Israel and the Jews