By Brannon S. Howse
In addressing the redefining of the Church’s mission, Steve Childers is, again, a good starting point. On his website, Global Church Advancement, he explains what he perceives to be the goal of the Church:
[quote] [W]e must never forget that the Church is God’s primary instrument for making His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. God has ordained that his Kingdom come with transformational power into every sphere of life, primarily through the Church. This is why the Church is the hope of the world! [end quote]
You may recognize in his words a reconstructionist, a post-millennial worldview—the Church as God’s instrument for bringing His kingdom on earth.
This kind of thinking—that Christians must try to take over every sphere of life—is called dominionism, and it turns evangelicalism into a kind of Christian Taliban through which its mission becomes the enforcing of God’s laws. But that is not at all what the Church is called to do. Nowhere in the Scripture do we see the Church called to take over the media, Hollywood, or politics. We are called only to fulfill the Great Commission. We are to make disciples, but that isn’t enough for Steve Childers. He thinks God is up to something different altogether through the Church, and he claims:
[quote] Because we believe that God’s ultimate purpose includes the restoration of the entire cosmos and the creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth, our ultimate goal will be not merely planting churches and raising up worshippers among all nations, but also the spiritual and cultural transformation of all nations, thereby making the invisible kingdom visible over every sphere of life. Because we believe that God has ordained that His kingdom come on earth primarily through His visible church, and that church planting is therefore the most effective ministry strategy under Heaven to bring about God’s purposes in history. [end quote]
The real purpose of planting churches, of course, is to see people taught the Word of God in context, to equip the saints for the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12), and to send them out to fulfill the Great Commission. If, on the other hand, Childers is correct, why do we read in the Scripture that the Lord asks, “When I return, will I find the true faith on the Earth”? Jesus poses this question because when He returns, there will be great apostasy on the earth, not great social revival. The Antichrist will have just set himself up in the temple to be worshiped as God, and his followers are killing Christians. Yet so many people are becoming believers that no one can count them, according to Revelation, but they are also being slaughtered by the Antichrist and his Reich. When Jesus comes to judge the world at that point, He won’t be saying, “Hey, look, I’m back, and wow, you guys are all Christians and doing a great job. Thanks for setting up my kingdom.” Hardly. He’s already told us that He will find an unfaithful earth when He returns.
“Restoring the cosmos,” as Steve Childers puts it, also seems like a pretty tall order. How do these neo-evangelicals and the New Religious Right expect to do this? Their answer is: through cultural transformation. But that prompts me to ask: how is that working for them? Do we see crime globally going down? Fewer Christians under persecution? Nations laying down their arms? Moral purity being restored? No, it’s quite the opposite. The U. S. Supreme Court legalized the murder of babies through abortion in 1973 and legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. In 2013, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that using the Bible to speak against homosexuality can be considered a hate crime. Elsewhere, Christians are martyred for their faith, Islam is on the march, and all the while, Hollywood produces some of the most perverse movies ever—and people love it (the morally bankrupt Fifty Shades of Grey movie, for example, grossed over $248 million dollars worldwide on opening weekend, and the movie eventually passed $500 million in sales worldwide.) And when it comes to evangelicalism, we seem to have more apostate churches than Bible-teaching churches.
The Bible says “broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13). And that there will be a great “falling away”—apostasy—from traditionally held biblical truths. There will be “perilous times.” Men will be “lovers of self” and turn to teachers who will “tickle their ears.” The Bible describes this great falling away, not our Christianizing every sphere of influence, transforming the world, and restoring the cosmos. Rather, Romans 8:20-24 describes how the restoration really will be achieved:
[quote] For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? [end quote]
Because of one man, sin entered into the world and put creation under a curse. But at the Second Coming—because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—Jesus will restore all things and set everything right. At the Second Coming, He will bind Satan in that thousand-year millennial reign, and man—as well as creation—will be free from the curse of sin. The bottom line is that God will do the restoring, not man.
Reconstructionists even have the timing wrong. Scripture teaches that God will accomplish the restoration instantaneously, whereas for the reconstructionists, restoration is a long-term process, as exemplified by the New Apostolic Reformation Seven Mountain Mandate.
Another way the Church’s mission is being redefined is by changing the idea of who belongs in the Church. Tim Keller, for instance, believes the Church is meant for the poor and unbelievers:
[quote] The pragmatic point is the Church does not have a book of Leviticus. The New Testament Church doesn’t have a book of Leviticus. It doesn’t lay down absolutely everything we ought to be doing all the time. And because it doesn’t lay down the book, and it gives us all this freedom, that means that, in the Church, we should use this freedom basically to ask ourselves not, “Oh, how can we get our way,” but, “How, if you’re the mature ones, how do we have a church not for ourselves but for non-Christians? How do we have a church not for ourselves, but for the poor? How do we have a church not for ourselves, but for new Christians or less mature Christians?”
See, the people running a church tend to be not poor, usually. They tend to be doctrinally more well-schooled. They certainly tend to be Christians. And as a result, when they look at non-Christians, when they look at poor people, and they look at other people who are not like themselves, Paul says, “You should be driven to say, ‘I’m going to do everything in my church for them, not for me.’” Don’t build a church to please yourself; build one that is not unnecessarily alien to the people around you who are different than you. [end quote]
According to “How Tim Keller Found Manhattan,” a June 5, 2009, article in Christianity Today, Keller “walked his talk” when he founded his church in New York City. He asked around: “What kind of a church would a New Yorker want to attend?” Several decades earlier, Robert Schuller had done the same before founding his California church, the Crystal Cathedral. Seeker-sensitive guru Bill Hybels started his Willow Creek Church based on findings to similar research in suburban Chicago. And the technique worked for Rick Warren in building Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, California. I have yet to find the Scripture reference, though, that instructs us to ask the unsaved world, “What would you like in a church?”
The Church is not for unbelievers. It is the ekklesia, “called out ones.” And believers are the ones who have been called out and saved by God. That is not to say we don’t want unbelievers to walk into a church and hear the Gospel preached and get saved through the ministry of the Holy Spirit revealing their sin to them. But we don’t cater the service, theme, topics, doctrine, and teaching to the world’s lowest common denominator, because the Scriptures tell us what the world thinks of the cross. To them it is foolishness, and how do you make foolishness “look good”? Surveys won’t help that foregone conclusion.
You might find out that people want a thumping sound system, smoke machines, a disco ball, a rock star worship singer, and gourmet coffee in the lobby. They probably don’t want you to wear a suit but prefer skinny jeans, goofy hair, sitting on a stool, songs about me and you and what we feel. They want church to reassure them about how important they are. But they won’t say they want to hear the teaching of God’s Word. A life coach and good self-help sounds better so they’ll improve their marriages, manage money better, get a raise, and build a good career. They want a formula for a better life–the things that matter to this world. But they’re not the ones the Church is for.
The Church is a group of believers who come together to exercise their spiritual gifts, to edify each other, to proclaim the Gospel, fulfill the Great Commission, to study God’s Word systematically—the whole counsel of the Word of God—and to encourage the journey of sanctification, walking in faithfulness and obedience and pursuing the character and nature of God. One of the more aggressive current church-is-for-the-unbeliever leaders is Steve Furtick, pastor of the mega Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. In his video describing his view, Furtick makes clear who he wants in his audience:
"If you know Jesus, sorry to break it to you, this church is not for you. “I just gave my life to Christ last week at Elevation.” Last week was the last week that Elevation Church existed for you."
According to Furtick, his church exists for a bunch of goats, not sheep.
Building on his phenomenal success as an author and “evangelical” spokesperson, Rick Warren is taking the same concept to a new level in his church leader training programs. In one interview he gave to someone while at a Clinton Global Initiative event, Warren explained the sweeping process he has in mind:
[quote] So, right now, through our peace plan, we are training both pastors and imams, and we are training leaders—actually volunteers from both the mosques and the churches that are coming together to say, “How can we learn health care so we can care for the people in our congregations?”
The congregational unit, whether it’s a Muslim congregation, a Jewish congregation, a Christian congregation, or whatever, is a basic unit you’re gonna find in every community. And that congregational unit is there to be mobilized for these global problems. [end quote]
Of necessity, the Gospel must be left out a program like this. Beheading of converts would tend to be an obstacle to progress.
Many people are poor because of their sin and worship of false gods. In India many people harvest plenty of grain, but they won’t kill the rats that eat it before they can because they believe in reincarnation. They could eat the cows but don’t want to risk slaughtering a dear departed relative. Countless poverty problems could be set straight really fast by setting straight the accompanying spiritual problems and setting people free from the spirit of darkness. But Rick Warren and leaders like him want to keep concentrating on the external instead of the internal.
Even John Piper praised Warren’s “peace plan” despite the reality that it could have come right out of the United Nations. He says:
[quote] But let me mention the [Rick Warren] peace plan, pursuing reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick, educating the next generation. Now, what I want to say is who could not love those five commitments? Who could not love those five commitments? Perhaps someone who believes that sharing the Gospel is the Church’s primary calling instead of a feel-good redefinition of our mission. [end quote]
Surprisingly, someone who does seem to love the commitments is Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In his role of as a pro-family, public policy leader for America’s largest Protestant denomination, Moore exerts a tremendous influence in the Christian community, yet he is working arm in arm with people like Rick Warren to promote communitarianism.
Communitarianism, as I explained earlier, is communism-lite, and Russell Moore supports this idea of big government, big business, and the social sector working together toward a form of corporate fascism. In an interview, Moore specifically noted that “the time has come to replace moral majoritarianism with moral communitarianism.” He’s not even ashamed to use the term communitarianism. Any Christian who advocates communitarianism is redefining the mission of the Church and positioning it to take dominion through social justice. Moore describes his clearly reconstructionist worldview this way:
[quote] The locus of the kingdom of God in this age is within the church, where Jesus rules as king. As we live our lives together, we see the transforming power of the gospel and the in-breaking of the future kingdom. [end quote]
In broadening the appeal of his social justice theology, Moore even re-casts Jesus as “an immigrant” when being interviewed on C-Span in 2013:
[quote] I have said earlier that when welcoming the sojourner and the stranger among us, those who are undocumented and in a strange land, we need to remember that our Lord Jesus Himself was an immigrant in Egypt. Our Lord’s parents took him into Egypt after the threat that was coming from Herod, living in a strange land for a period of years in exile. And so, I said people who understand and follow the Lord Jesus ought to then have compassion upon people who also are taking their children out of very, very difficult situations, going into a strange land, where they don’t know the people; they don’t have connections; they don’t have support networks, and to show mercy to them. [end quote]
Given this view of Jesus, it is not surprising that Russell Moore met with President Obama in the Oval Office to lend Southern Baptist support for amnesty, which would give our 20 million illegal immigrants voting rights—something the U. S. Communist Party has been working toward for years. Obama’s form of amnesty would also swell the welfare rolls and take jobs from legitimate American citizens.
And to connect all the dots: Moore has made the ecumenical rounds as well. He publicly praised Pope Francis as the TIME “Man of the Year” and joined Rick Warren for a speaking engagement at the Vatican. He has promoted the “evangelical” version of the radical environmental agenda that is often hiding under the guise of Creation Care and has even taken an, at best, ambiguous stand on same-sex marriage by saying he would not go to a same-sex marriage ceremony but he would go to the reception. A February 15, 2015, article on christiannews.net featured this title: “Southern Baptist Leader Russell Moore, ‘Alabama Judges Must Uphold Gay Marriage Ruling or Resign.’” Regarding the U. S. Supreme Court’s eventual ruling on same-sex marriage, the article quotes Moore as saying:
[quote] “While these details are being worked out, in the absence of any conscience protections, a government employee”—meaning the members of the Supreme Court of Alabama—“government employee faced with a decision of violating his conscience or upholding the law would need to resign in protest against it as a citizen if he could not discharge the duties of his office required by law in good conscience.” [end quote]
This absurd position shows clearly that Moore does not understand the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States with regard to states’ rights. If the state Supreme Court of Alabama does not want to recognize or honor same-sex marriage certificates, it doesn’t have to. But here Moore suggests that Alabama judges must uphold gay marriage or resign. For the sake of context, it is important to note that Moore’s comments were made before the June 2015 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
By such a stand on an issue that should be clear-cut from a biblical perspective, progressive, communitarian religious leaders lend aid, comfort, and credibility to a totalitarian system that rejects individual liberty, religious liberty, and the rule of law. What Moore and the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission are doing to promote communitarianism in America, the Lausanne Movement—allegedly begun as an evangelistic outreach in the early 1970s—is doing on a global scale. The organization has sponsored major international conventions since its inception—first in Lausanne, Switzerland (1974, at which time supporters included Billy Graham), then Manila, Philippines (1989), and most recently in Cape Town, South Africa (2010). Endorsed by John Piper, Rick Warren, and Tim Keller, Lausanne presents its own twenty-first century vision of the Church, as explained by Doug Birdsall, Executive Chair of the Lausanne Movement:
[quote] If God is still speaking to the Church as we enter the third millennium, if He has something to say to us, what is it He wants to say…. Speak Lord, your servants are listening…. Grant us a fresh vision of yourself for your Church. [end quote]
If God is still speaking to the Church? Of course God is still speaking to the Church, and He’s doing it through His Word. The Holy Spirit illuminates Scripture for us to understand as believers. God is still speaking through His Word, but He’s not giving visions, dreams, mystical messages, and audible voices to people today. That would be a violation of Scripture according to Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Revelation, which all tell us not to add to the Word of God.
If God is still speaking outside of His Word, then the canon remains open. This creates great confusion, because now we have one person after another, from Benny Hinn to Pat Robertson and his “words of knowledge” to Rick Joyner, Heidi Baker, Lou Engle, and Mike Bickle declaring, “Thus sayeth the Lord.” Everybody ends up contradicting each other and claiming various ideas that often contradict Scripture as well. Yet the Lausanne Movement wants “a fresh vision” from the Lord as if Scripture and its mandates for the Church are not enough. Everything we need to know about how to carry out the mission of the Church and the role of Christians is in God’s Word—unless, of course, you want to redefine the Church’s mission. To further the globalist possibilities, Lausanne teamed up with Creation Care in 2012 to create the Lausanne Global Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel. Their agenda is shocking:
In other words, the Global Consultation encourages sustainable development such as that advocated by the United Nations’ Agenda 21 plan for global governance, developed at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. The same agenda has also been promoted for years by Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the USSR. (For more detail on sustainable development, see my book Grave Influence.)
While we need to be good stewards of the earth, the climate change “crisis” is simply being used to move us all toward a one-world government. There is no indisputable proof for global warming beyond the natural cycles of heating and cooling. Radical environmentalists, though, want some sort of global tax on business, and the carbon tax concept is a first run at implementing such a thing. The tax, though, would cripple free enterprise by redistributing wealth from industrialized, wealthy nations to third-world countries.
Agenda 21 supports a laundry list of progressive causes: socialized medicine, welfare programs, gun control, and abortion on demand. These are the bedfellow issues of the Lausanne proposal. The document calls for: [quote]
This results in a mixture of socialism and capitalism in which socialism has the firm upper hand. The system would allow just enough capitalism to keep the middle class alive because the middle class is the milk cow of the arrangement. The global socialists want to milk the cow, give the cream to the elite, and then give the rest to the underclass to keep them voting the progressive politicians back into office. And as you can see, the system is already at work here in the United States.
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