Saturday, September 13, 2008

True and False Revival

In today's age, I personally pray and yearn that God will bring revival and awakening to His church. I have faith that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is ongoing, empowering believers for the work of ministry through the use of His gifts. Looking through church history, one can count the victorious times when God poured out his Spirit in power, calling his children back to where they belong.

But do these look like the genuine moving of the Holy Ghost among God's people?

The Toronto Blessing:

Rodney Howard-Browne and the Tampa Bay Revival:

Korean "Impartation" Meeting:

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival

But is this really the Spirit of God?

David Wilkerson weeps in response to the lack of discernment towards false revivals

Bill Johnson on the fall of Todd Bentley from ministry

Now compare that with the following examples from church history of when genuine revival comes:

Martin Luther - "Here I stand."

Among contemporary revivals, where are those who will stand before Rulers and speak to their faces of the authority of God's Word over every man-made tradition and philosophy?

John Wesley - "On Fire"

Among contemporary revivals, where are those whose faith cannot be kept within a single parrish, but instead are compelled to declare the gospel within the streets and open fields for all to hear?

Jonathan Edwards - "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"

Among contemporary revivals, how many pastors, when they stand at their pulpits to preach, are so overwhelmed by the conviction of God's wrath against the sinfulness of man that even before the first quarter of their sermon is over, there are those among the congregation who throw themselves weeping at the foot of the altar crying out "What I must I do to be saved?"

A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, Duncan Campbell, Paris Reihead, Iain Paisley - "The Revival Hymn"

Directions for Judging of Persons' Experiences
by Jonathan Edwards

See to it...
That the operation be such upon the will or heart, not on the Imagination, nor on the speculative understanding or motions of the mind, though they draw great affections after 'em as the consequence.

See to it... That the trouble of mind be reasonable, that the mind be troubled about those things that it has reason to be troubled about; and that the trouble seems mainly to operate in such a manner, with such a kind of trouble and exercise as is reasonable: founded on reasonable, solid consideration; a solid sense and conviction of truth, as of things as they are indeed.

See to it... That it be because their state appears terrible on the account of those things, wherein its dreadfulness indeed consists; and that their concern be solid, not operating very much by pangs and sudden passions, freaks and frights, and a capriciousness of mind.

See to it... That under their seeming convictions it be sin indeed; that they are convinced of their guilt, in offending and affronting so great a God: One that so hates sin, and is so set against it, to punish it, &c.

See to it... That they be convinced both of sins of heart and life: that their pretenses of sense of sin of heart ben't without reflection on their wicked practice; and also that they are not only convinced of sin of practice, but sin of heart. And in both, that what troubles 'em be those things wherein their wretchedness has really chiefly consisted.

See to it... That they are convinced of their spiritual sins, consisting in their sinful defects, living without love to God, without accepting Christ, gratitude to Him, &c.

See to it... That the convictions they have of the insufficiency and vanity of their own doings, ben't only from some sense of wanderings of mind, and other sinful behaviour mixed; but from a conviction of the sinful defects of their duties, their not being done from a right principle; and so as having no goodness at all mixed with the bad, but altogether corrupt.

See to it... That it is truly conviction of sin that convinces them of the Justice of God in their damnation, in rejecting their prayers, disregarding their sorrowful case, and all desires and endeavours after deliverance, &c., and not merely any imagination or pang, and melting of affection through some real or supposed instance of Divine Goodness.

See to it... That they be so convinced of sin as not in the inward thought and habit of their minds to excuse themselves, and impliedly quarrel with God, because of their impotency: for instance, that they don't excuse their slight of Christ, and want of love to Him, because they can't esteem and love Him.

See to it... That they don't evidently themselves look on their convictions [as] great, and ben't taken with their own humiliation.
See to it... That which should be chiefly looked at should be evangelical. If this be sound, we have no warrant to insist upon it, that there be manifest a remarkable work, purely legal, wherein was nothing of grace. So with regard to Convictions and Humiliation; only seeing to it that the mind is indeed convinced of these things, and sees 'em [sees] that [which] many Divines insisted should be seen, under a purely legal work. And also seeing to it that the convictions there are, seem to be deep and fixed, and to have a powerful governing influence on the temper of the mind, and a very direct respect to practice.

See to it... That they have not only pretended convictions of sin; but a proper mourning for sin. And also, that sin is burdensome to them, and that their hearts are tender and sensible with respect to it...the object of their care and dread.

See to it... That God and Divine things are admirable on account of the beauty of their moral perfection.

See to it... That there is to be discerned in their sense of the sufficiency of Christ, a sense of that Divine, supreme, and spiritual excellency of Christ, wherein this sufficiency fundamentally consists; and that the sight of this excellency is really the foundation of their satisfaction as to His sufficiency.

See to it... That their conviction of the truth of Divine things be discerned to be truly some way or other primarily built on a sense of their Divine excellency.

See to it... That their discoveries and illuminations and experiences in general, are not superficial pangs, flashes, imagination, freaks, but solid, substantial, deep, inwrought into the frame and temper of their minds, and discovered to have respect to practice.

See to it... That they long after HOLINESS, and that all their experiences increase their longing. Let 'em be inquired of concerning their disposition and willingness to bear the Cross, sell all for Christ, choosing their portion in heaven, &c. Whether their experience have a respect to PRACTICE in these ways.

See to it... That their behaviour at present seems to be agreeable to such experiences. Whether it inclines 'em much to think of Practice, and more and more for past ill practice. Makes a disposition to ill practices dreadful. Makes 'em long after perfect freedom from sin, and after those things wherein Holiness consists; and by fixed and strong resolutions, attended with fear and jealousy of their own hearts. Whether, when they tell of their experiences, it is not with such an air that you as it were feel that they expect to be admired and applauded, and [whether they] won't be disappointed if they fail of discerning in you something of that nature; and shocked and displeased if they discover the contrary.

See to it... Inquire whether their joy be truly and properly joy in God and in Christ; joy in Divine Good; or whether it ben't wholly joy in themselves, joy in their own excellencies or privileges, in their experiences; what God has done for them, or what He has promised He will do for them; and whether they ben't affected with their own discoveries and affections.'

Friday, September 12, 2008

Scary Quotes from the Emergent church: Postmodern Christianity or Outright Apostasy?

Critical towards supposed modernist influences upon contemporary churches

"We see modernity with its absolutism's and colonialism's and totalitarianism as a kind of static dream, a desire to abide in timeless abstractions and extract humanity from the ongoing flow of history and emergence, a naïve hope to make now the end of history (which actually sounds either like a kind of death wish or millennialism). In Christian theology, this anti-emergent thinking is expressed in systematic theologies that claim (overtly, covertly, or unconsciously) to have final orthodoxy nailed down, freeze-dried, and shrink-wrapped forever." - Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, pg 286

Relativistic view towards theology and doctrine

Because theology is connected to real life, answering particular questions, concerns and opportunities of the day, it will be ever-changing. If it is not so, then it may well not be theology - it may be dogma, history, or a collection of random facts, but not theology. Theology is the living understanding of the story of God in play with the story of our lives. 
– Doug Paget, Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches: Five views. Pg 121

"Ask me if Christianity (my version of it, yours, the Pope's, whoever's) is orthodox, meaning true, and here's my honest answer: a little, but not yet. Assuming by Christianity you mean the Christian understanding of the world and God, Christian opinions on soul, text, and culture I'd have to say that we probably have a couple of things right, but a lot of things wrong, and even more spreads before us unseen and unimagined. But at least our eyes are open! To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall." 
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, pg. 293

“I am learning that my tradition includes the rabbis and reformers and revolutionaries and monks and nuns and pastors and writers and philosophers and artists and every person everywhere who has asked big questions of a big God” 
- Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, p. 14. 

(Except for very few exceptions, “rabbis” do not embrace the biblical gospel, and neither do most “monks” and “nuns.” The great majority of monks and nuns throughout church history have fought against justification by faith alone. Rob Bell either has an extremely naïve view of Church history, or else he believes that people can be a part of God’s Kingdom who do not believe the biblical gospel.)

Denial of the Bible’s sufficiency and clarity

Everybody’s interpretation is essentially his or her own opinion. Nobody is objective. 
Several years ago I was an intense meeting with our church’s leaders in which we were discussing several passages in the Bible. One of the leaders was sharing her journey in trying to understand what the Bible teaches about the issue at hand and said something like this: ‘Ive spent a great deal of time studying the issue. I’ve read what people on one side say, and I’ve read what the people on the other side say. I’ve read the scholars and theologians and all sorts of others on this subject. But then, in the end, I decided to go back to the Bible and just take it for what it says.’
What was she really saying?
Now please understand that this way of thinking is prevalent in a lot of Christian churches, so I don’t mean to single her out. But this view of the bible is warped and toxic, to say the least. The assumption is that there is a way to read the Bible that is agenda and perspective free. As if all these other people have their opinions and biases, but some are able to just read it for what is says.
Think about that for a moment: This perspective is claiming that a person can simply read the Bible and do what it says – unaffected by outside influences.
But let’s be honest. When you hear people say that they are just going to tell you what the Bible says, it is not true. 
- Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, Rob Bell. Pg 53.

How do “I” know the Bible is always right? And if “I” am sophisticated enough to realize that I know nothing of the Bible without my own involvement via interpretation, I’ll also ask how I know which school, method, or technique of biblical interpretation is right. What makes a “good” interpretation good? And if an appeal is made to a written standard (book, doctrinal statement, etc.) or to common sense or to “scholarly principles of interpretation,” the same pesky “I” who liberated us from the authority of the church will ask, “Who sets the standard? Whose common sense? Which scholars and why? Don’t all these appeals to authorities and principles outside the Bible actually undermine the claim of ultimate biblical authority? Aren’t they just the new pope? 
– Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy pg133.

(How many time have you sat in a small-group Bible study where you open your bible and rather than do a proper exegetical study, the emphasis is “What does this verse say to you?”, during you all share and hopefully can come up with an interpretation the whole group can agree on?
16We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:16-2
Scripture on it’s own trumps any form of subjectivity simply because it has it’s origins in an objective source. No word of scripture ever came forth from subjective interpretation, and hence neither should it be read.)

Essentials of the Gospel Message openly questioned and denied

This is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus' teaching, then I won't say the only and I certainly won't say ... or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross ... is that the Kingdom of God doesn't come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that's not really true. At the end God gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn't the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. 
- Brian McLaren 

Pluralistic view towards non-Christian beliefs

We claim the beautiful and the good and the true wherever we find it, because all things are ours. Several years ago, I was hanging around after one of our church services, and a young woman named Yvette walked up to me and told me she had been listening to me for the last few weeks and hated everything I was saying and totally disagreed with my teachings and the whole time she just wanted to stand up on her chair and yell at me.
I immediately liked her.
She went on to say that she was studying witchcraft and was totally opposed to the things she heard me saying.
I responded, “But you keep coming back.” And then I told her I was thrilled that she kept returning to our gatherings. I hoped that our community would continue to be a safe place for her to question and study and discuss and hear that God loves her just the way she is. 
- Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, pg 89.

I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. This will be hard, you say, I agree. But frankly, it’s not at all easy to be a follower of Jesus in many “Christian” religious contexts either. 
–Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy pg260.

“So as a Christian, I am free to claim the good, the true, the holy, wherever and whenever I find it. I live with the understanding that truth is bigger than any religion and the world is God’s and everything in it” 
- Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis p.80. 

(If we follow Rob’s views out to their logical conclusion, then we ought to embrace "truth" found in the Quran. Why stop there? According to Rob Bell, we ought to embrace "truths" found in the Hindu vedas, and the book of Mormon. Why not? Rob Bell says “truth is bigger than any religion.” Furthermore, when weighed against the Great Commission, Why bother with missions and evangelism?)