NOTE: This is a continuation of the Wolves in Wool Series. This post assumes the prerequisite reading of earlier posts)
As it has been demonstrated that an apostasy must precede the tribulation, and an utter “anti-gospel” is to be the characteristic of a singular religious system during the great tribulation, it only stands to reason that one may trace the roots of the former apostasy to the latter full-fledged abomination which is spawned from it. As noted, I cannot positively contend that our current growing apostasy in Christendom is indeed the apostasy which scripture warns will precede the day of the Lord. Yet, I am compelled to examine such possibilities.
If a man, for example, sincerely believes his life to be in danger by one of his associates, he would surely watch for signs of such growing antagonism toward himself. He may become quite paranoid, in fact, and pre-occupied with an investigation concerning the possible playing out of his fears. I do not desire to become paranoid nor to anxiously accuse every false theological principle as a precursor to the coming worship of Antichrist. Yet, I do wish to heed Jesus’ own warnings concerning our need to be watching for the proper signs of such coming events.
Matthew 24:32-33 (NIV)
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
Indeed, as the leaves are a sign of summer, apostasy will be a sign of the advent of the day of the Lord. While I am not certain that this present apostasy is “the” final warning sign of pending tribulation, I do find plenty of scriptural indication that it indeed may be. As such, I’m compelled to evaluate the possible threads of further degradation of these current apostate movements and ask the question, “how may these current renegade trends lend themselves to a future disintegration into the final blasphemous religion of Antichrist?”
The Destination of the Emergent Path
Beginning with the liberal Emergent movement, one trend that can easily find itself an ally in the hands of Satan as preparation for Ecclesiastical Babylon is the massive shift toward universalist beliefs in Emergent practice. It seems that the crux of Emergent theology is to be kinder and less dogmatic in the application of Christian theology. For a group which claims disdain for systematic theology they are doing an exceptional job of re-writing it in their own image. Among other things, soteriology (the doctrine of salvation) is being increasingly re-cast in this movement to be something which does not demand an affiliation with Christ. In fact, it seems that Emergent soteriology doesn’t even necessarily demand one to believe in Christ at all.
McLaren claims that people can be a follower of Jesus while sharing their religious affection with false gods.
…I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherence 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.
Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 2004, page 260.
Alan Jones relegates Jesus to a position among “all great spiritual teachers” as he notes,
“Jesus is the way to a new kind of life. Jesus and Buddha have this in common with all great spiritual teachers– to make human beings more conscious of themselves, to get to be more real.”
Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity, p. 194
And Rob Bell at least honestly describes his (shared) views in terms of a universal nature of the gospel.
“So this reality, this forgiveness, this reconciliation, is true for everybody. Paul insisted that when Jesus died on the cross he was reconciling ‘all things, in heaven and on earth, to God. This reality then isn’t something we make true about ourselves by doing something. It is already true. Our choice is to live in this new reality or cling to a reality of our own making.”
- Velvet Elvis p. 146
He later articulates more fully, “If the gospel isn’t good news for everybody, then it isn’t good news for anybody” (p. 167).
If one can follow Christ, Buddah or Hindu gods and yet still be assured salvation, what motivation is there for anyone to resist whatever “new” doctrines Oprah is teaching this week? What motivation should prevent them from joining in with Antichrist when he calls for the allegiance of man? Such is the heart and soul of the false gospel of universalism. The Jesus of their minds (and only of their minds) is one who requires no repentance- even from those who reject him outright and serve other gods. Indeed, their attempt to make the gospel “relevant” has landed them in a place where any and all religious practices are acceptable, providing that the proponents of such practices are “doing what Jesus did.” Bell notes,
“Jesus tells a parable about the kind of people who will live with God forever. It is a story of judgment, of God evaluating the kind of lives people have lived. First he deals with the ‘righteous’, who gave food to the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, and visited the prisoner. These are the kind of people who spend forever with God. Jesus measures their eternal standings in terms of not what they said or believed but how they lived, specifically in regard to the hell around them”
-Velvet Elvis (p. 148).
In this understanding, one’s beliefs are irrelevant to his salvation. While Bell does attempt to leave some wiggle room in his writings that he can claim not to be universalist, in the end it is clear that Emergents simply do not equate salvation with the name of Christ alone. If not everyone is saved in this weird theology, at least anyone can be- without submission to the Lordship of Christ, or even believing on him. Bell’s eternal “standings” are appropriated “in terms of not what they said or believed but how they lived.”
This view, of course, has led to the new ecumenicism between this group and all others who are willing. Indeed, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’i, Wiccan, and anyone else need not worry about the content of their creeds, but only the actions which are deemed as living rightly. As noted, Emergents pride themselves for the adoption of the religious practices of other groups, such as transcendental meditation, which has found its way into every major world religion. As such, new bonds of fellowship are now being established between mutually exclusive religions, serving to systematically destroy all lines of division which formerly existed between these groups. As Jones so kindly notes,
“Our first task in reimagining religion, then, is to move from the narrowly tribal, where our story is the only story, to a wider definition of “tribe” that can embrace stories other than our own, told by people who are different from us.”
Reimagining Christianity, Page 16
As this discourse on Emergent practice has unfolded, then, it has been demonstrated that they embrace the teachings, practices and beliefs of other religions with open arms. They have no doctrinal issues with paganism, believing that all can be saved without confessing the lordship of Christ. They indeed have a new fellowship with the proponents of other gods. And, all of this new fellowship is now neatly bonded together by the glue of mystic practice.
With Emergents fully enslaved by transcendental meditation, they have indeed increased the strength of their ecumenicism with every idolatry imaginable. And, this is seen as a good thing, being viewed as a sort of common ground with these who reject Christ.
Paul unconditionally disagreed as he noted,
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 (NIV)
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
The apostle mandates that a yoke of such fellowship is not to be entered into with those who do not believe in Christ. He affirms rhetorically that there is no fellowship which can be obtained with paganism. He quotes God’s own command from the law, affirming it as an enduring New covenant principle, “come out from them and be separate…and I will receive you.”
Yet, as Tony Campolo sees it,
…a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam. Both religions have within their histories examples of ecstatic union with God, which seem at odds with their own spiritual traditions but have much in common with each other. Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind , p.149
I don’t know what to make of the Muslim mystics, especially those who have come to be known as the Sufis. What do they experience in their mystic experiences? Could they have encountered the same God we do in our Christian mysticism?…The founder of this movement was Hasan Al Basri (A.D. 642-728)…[Basri's] attempt to bring about religious reform very much paralleled the path of Francis [of Assisi], both in style and spiritual direction. Both men sensed a sacred presence in everything and claimed to have experienced a mystical union with God.
P. 149, 150
In the end, this new spiritual alliance is quite well poised to lead a lost world into the welcoming arms of Antichrist. Supposed “Christians” are now teaching that anyone can be saved within the confines of their own religious system, and without having to take any actions of allegiance toward Christ whatsoever. They are teaching that “to do the things Jesus did” is synonymous with “following Christ.” As such, any religious order which, for example, feeds the hungry, is easily able to ascribe themselves to this guaranteed salvation. Couple that with every major world religion now engaging in massive experimentation with mystic meditational practices in which participants “hear from God” while voices of demons guide them into “new” revelations. The end result is a religious soup in which all are simply free to believe and do as they choose in light of their new fellowship of acceptance.
In light of this continually merging religiosity of our times, one can see how easily the text of Revelation 13 can be brought to fruition.
Revelation 13:11-15 (NIV)
11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed.
This false prophet will draw the entire world worship Antichrist by performing great and miraculous signs. What better mechanism than the current state of growing religious ecumenicism to support such a truly global acquiescence of a one world religion.
Revelation 13:8 (NIV)
8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
The Destination of the Word of Faith
While the Word of Faith movement is not inclined to such obvious fellowship (at least yet) with paganism, they are certainly establishing themselves as solid candidates for acclimation into the new world religious order of Antichristianity. As noted earlier in this series, their “ready to believe you” attitude concerning just about every strange doctrine spoken by anyone wearing an Armani suit will certainly not help them to detect a false christ when they see one. Let’s face it: if they believe Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo (give me a) Dollar they’ll believe anyone. They have literally been trained to do precisely that by a never-ending host of arrogant spiritual superstars.
For decades the collective congregation of Word of Faith-ers has been taught several things which will come in quite handy for an up and coming new world deceiver. Among others, they have been taught to readily receive “revelation knowledge” without resistance. When Benny turns his head, squints his eyes and says, “I’m getting revelations from the Lord,” they are poised to hear and obey without question. There is no outcry for scripture to affirm such revelations, as has clearly been demonstrated in this series. All that is needed is the promise of some grand spiritual benefit and perhaps some stage antics which feign “the movement of God.” To date, the best that Team TBN has had to offer are some people falling on themselves on Benny’s stage or perhaps barking like dogs when Todd Bentley screams obscenities at them. What will such a gullible audience do in response to the incredible demonic prowess of the false prophet?
Revelation 13:13 notes that he (the false prophet) will have the ability to call fire down from heaven. Verse 15 notes that he will cause an idol of Antichrist to come to life and speak! By whatever means people fall and quiver while Benny’s man-handlers assist, it will be of no comparison to the supernatural call to worship of Antichrist. Couple such depths of demonic power with Antichrist’s own utterance of “revelation knowledge” and this group will be instantly converted.
2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV)
4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
The “new revelation” of this day will be Antichrist’s claim to be God in the flesh. He will assume the counterfeit role and identity of Christ having returned to the earth, as Jesus warned.
Matthew 24:15-25 (NIV)
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
What on earth will dissuade people who have been subjected to decades of unverifiable revelation knowledge from believing such proclamations from Antichrist – miracles included? The Word of Faith wolves have played an exceptionally key role in the preparation of the soil for this final abomination.
Moreover, the WoF visionaries have established power and success as key components by which a supposed man of God is to be distinguished. Their false claims are continually focused on God’s desire for his people to be powerful, wealthy, and able to perform any actions which their own word of faith can envision and “speak into reality.” How will such a deceived mass of people respond when the new TV preacher can literally rise himself from the dead?
Revelation 13:3-4 (NIV)
3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”
Antichrist may very well be viewed as the ultimate example of the Word of Faith in action by this deceived group. He will have more money than Paul Crouch and will be more powerful than even Bob Jones’ fantasy-tales of heavenly vacations. While Benny Hinn claims to have raised the dead (though the ever-present cameras were mysteriously turned off), Antichrist will do it while the entire world watches. He will be the epitome of what a Word of Faith disciple would expect to see in the returned Christ he will claim to be. He will be wealthy, influential and will exhibit supernatural power through sings and wonders. What is there for a Word of Faith student not to love about this coming deceiver?
In conclusion to the matter of the continued pillaging and degradation of the church at large by Emergents, Word of Faithers and many other smaller groups who are equally determined to change the glory of our Lord into images made to look like mortal man, truthfully only one exhortation needs to be given.
Know God’s Word.
2 Timothy 3:12-17 (NIV)
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
May the reader of this series make a very simple choice at this time. Choose to believe Paul the Apostle rather than Paul Crouch. Believe Paul instead of Rob Bell. Believe Paul over Tony Campolo.
The Word of Faith group teaches that God’s word is not necessary for spiritual truths to be passed down. They teach revelation knowledge and every form of fanciful story as proof enough of their false doctrines. Yet, Paul said that it is scripture which is able “to make you wise for salvation.” It is scripture which is the measure of truth. It is the proof of a man’s testimony. It is the essence of what is valid theology.
The Emergent teachers claim that community acquiescence is the required litmus test for spiritual revelation. Being suspicious of scripture, they often re-write it and more often misquote it, all the while adding random flecks of inspiration from other world religions (which apparently are much more trustworthy). But, Paul said that “all scripture is God-breathed.” It is theo pneustos – directly from God’s Spirit. As such it is useful “for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” It is trustworthy, regardless of whether Rob Bell has faith in it or not. It is sufficient. It is not lacking in relevance. It is the essence of spiritual revelation.
Believer, you have an obligation to the One you call Lord. That obligation is not to follow anyone who claims to be his servant here on this earth, but to follow Him. No spiritual teacher can give you anything outside of what God’s word has established. Scripture is given to us “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The teachers who present wild speculative theologies which cannot be demonstrated from scripture are not from among us. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. The teacher who distrusts scripture and requires it to be deconstructed by his own community is not from among us. These men are the imposters who “will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” They are creeps in the church.
But as for you- your instruction is clear: “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Speaking both to the WoF and the Emergent liberals, Paul’s assertion is that the Word which was sufficient yesterday is sufficient today.
The next time someone appears on television or a YouTube video with some great “new” revelation, consider Paul’s words. The next time a weird book attempts to “reimagine” your faith, think of Paul’s words. The next time someone touts a great new “word for this generation,” consider Paul’s words.
The same Word of God which was sufficient in first century Israel is sufficient here and now. It is the fact that it has not changed which gives it credibility. Read the Word instead of the New York Times latest spiritual challenger. Meditate on the Word instead of the practices of gurus who will die in their sins. Believe the Word which led you to salvation instead of the latest buzz from the masses, for wide is the road which leads to destruction.
The Word of God will save you from error, teach you the truth and guide you into spiritual maturity. To the apostate religious rulers of his own day,
Matthew 22:29 (NIV)
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
May this not be the verdict when you stand before Him.