(Additional to the KCP Series)
An Open Letter to Floyd McClung
and the MCF Pastoral Staff
Written between Feb. 13 and Mar. 11, 2000
I would like to thank you for this morning’s message (Feb. 13) and to convey my hearty amen to what you had to say. I totally agree with you. MCF is at a crossroads in its history, and if we choose to continue on as we have been, we will miss our God-ordained destiny. I would go even further and say that we will not just plateau, but be in danger of becoming like the disobedient churches in Revelation. The analogy of an army mounting horses and riding off in a hundred different directions was also very vivid and apt. I have felt for a long time that there has been a terrible lack of focus, as well as a lack of unity in vision and purpose in this church, in both the leadership and the people.
This morning I felt I heard a gigantic invitation to communicate to you anything that is burdening my heart. I have heard this invitation at least twice before, one in a sermon last year I believe, and again last August, when there was a meeting over the David Saunders matter. You told me publicly that night that if I or anyone ever had a communication they felt it necessary to make, to by all means contact the staff and make it. Accordingly, I did write a four-page letter at that time, but felt God prompting me to not send it. I would assume that was because it just wasn’t comprehensive enough and because it just wasn’t the time to lay such heavy things on you when you hadn’t even arrived here yet.
In that invitation today, I think the words used were that you and the staff wanted any and all to bare our hearts, to do it without attacking one another, while also laying down our own personal agendas. I think this was the sort of language used. You also said we need to get really real with one another, and engage one another rather than gloss over problems with some empty platitudes. I couldn’t agree more. This sort of thing is so needed in the Body of Christ in this hour. But it still left me a little confused and wary because if I “bare my heart”, will it be interpreted as “my agenda” for MCF? But I have decided to take that risk because somewhere in all of our agendas is God’s agenda, and if we don’t communicate, He never gets a chance to bare witness to what He will.
I am also concerned that what I have to say may be interpreted to be wounds, unresolved bitterness or emotions on my own part. I don’t doubt there is some of that in there since we humans will always have an element of that in all we say and do. Perhaps the best we can practically attain to in this world is to minimize those kinds of reactions as much as possible.
Nevertheless, I don’t believe that such an interpretation would explain the essential significance of what I have to say. I believe what I have to share is not reflective of a mere personal or psychological problem, but a public and epistemological and spiritual one. As you all know, the surrounding culture of our day has perfected what Freud set out to do--reduce Christian truth and human sinfulness down to a mere psychological phenomenon. In so doing of course, they have trivialized the complex intellectual and moral issues every generation must face.
It has been stated that the emphasis in this season we’re going through is on reconciling personal relationships that have been broken or damaged. I am not against that because it is very Biblical and always needed. Every social situation with human interaction has its share of hurts and upsets that are going to take place, and I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of that process. All I would like to do here is plant the suggestion in your minds that perhaps a certain proportion at least, of these interpersonal problems are but the consequences of a deeper root problem. This root has to do with a lack of agreement on truth, reality and MCF’s Divine calling.
In the years I have been a Christian, I have been a part of many churches and ministries, and have found MCFers to be on balance a fairly mature and tolerant people. Thus I can’t say that my own conflicts here are based in personal clashes. Now I do feel God has been making me aware lately of how I at times have come across as aloof, arrogant, overconfident, and the like. That has caused me much regret, and is something for which I ask your forgiveness. But what has bothered me the most from my own side of the experience is not that I have felt wounded as much as I have felt ignored. And by “ignored”, I do not mean it in the sense of “my spiritual needs have been ignored”, but rather, in the sense that what I have tried to contribute seems to engender no reaction, nor have any place in our church’s purpose. As you know, I feel my spiritual gift is in teaching, and I have published a newsletter as I’ve been able, raising certain questions I feel are of tremendous importance for the Body of Christ in this hour. And yet what has continually amazed me is the incredible indifference these articles are met with, especially on the part of leadership.
I cannot tell why this is so. I don’t know if it’s because people haven’t read them, or if they don’t agree with what I believe, or if they do but don’t see these things as all that important or worth committing themselves to. Perhaps as I’ve said, they have so much trouble with the messenger they can’t receive the message. All I can tell you is that the lack of a reaction one way or the other greatly baffles me. Even if it were negative, it would be better than no response at all.
I can give you a few examples. I wrote an article on the role of apostles in the early Church as a way of voicing my concerns with the current apostolic restoration movement which we seem to have embraced. When I asked someone about it, I think he said the staff basically agrees with what I had to say. But our actions seem to suggest the opposite. We seem to participate in it in private and give our hearty amen without raising any questions of the philosophy behind it. And if it’s otherwise, please forgive us here in the pews, because we often are not filled in on such things.
I have also written on a modern Gnosticism in our own circles, and on Latter Rain and Manifested Sonship doctrines that our church or those we associate with have embraced at one time or another and to one degree or another. I’ve also raised important questions on eschatology, current events, theological issues, spiritual experiences of my own or others, and on and on. Yet none of it seems to matter. It’s like it all gets greeted with a big yawn.
I do not want these things to degenerate into a matter of personal offense on my part, but I think they deserve a response. I get the feeling at times though, that people don’t know what to do with them, as if they were putting them on a mental shelf indefinitely. But that’s why I’m raising them, because they can’t be put off forever. If I am wrong in my thinking, or if anyone can convince me that these matters are not important, I wish they would tell me. I wonder at times if the personal offense is not on my part, that maybe it’s not my problem but that you all just won’t receive what I’m saying. If people don’t trust my character, that I can understand. But a judgment on the truth or lack thereof is what I, and I think God, really want.
The long and short of it is that all this experience makes me feel irrelevant and “spiritually unemployed”, but most of all just plain puzzled and almost patronized at times. I see these things as urgent now and to be responded to now, but the reason they are not is perhaps we are afraid of the censure or ridicule of man. But if ever there were a time to deal with that, it is now during this fast, and during a time when we seem so forward to declare that we are not going to let the fear of man stand between us and our Divine calling.
Before I present to you my concerns, I would like to qualify a few things so that you understand just where I’m coming from. For one, I would like to emphasize that there are a lot of positive things I see our church doing, things that I do agree with. But for the sake of time and space in this letter I will probably dwell on the things I think are wrong. So if it seems negative at times, please know that it does not represent my full mind on MCF.
Also, I would ask you all to bear long with my style of expression. I am not trying to lecture you or talk down to you; I just have this teaching motivational gift and I express God’s love best that way.
Thirdly, we have been instructed not to get into personal attacks. I don’t know if what I have to say will be attributed to specific individuals or not. But it is my intention to try to stick with ideas. This is no judgment on anyone’s personal character, for as the Scriptures teach, our opinions of one another are certainly limited at best, in this world. To our own Master we stand or fall.
Fourthly, we have also been instructed not to dwell on the past unduly. Although I would love to do that too, at the same time I do not see how we can avoid it more than we might like. I think this to be especially important in light of Michael’s dream of the MCF board being arrested by the Lord for speeding, reckless driving and manslaughter.
I just can’t tell you enough how much I believe that dream was dead on target! There seems to me to have been a real pattern of rushing about, lurching from one thing to the next, of groping for direction, of being in a hurry to get successful in the typical Charismatic mold without necessarily stopping long enough to get God’s direction for our church. And once we get it, we should expect to encounter God’s typical pattern of humiliation before exaltation. That is, if we do God’s will (the way I’m assuming it is), we will not incur the approval of the rest of the Body of Christ immediately. But in time, I believe that will come. Like someone once said about visionaries, at first they’re called crazy, then they’re called dangerous, then they’re called geniuses! Or as Michael once said the Lord showed him, MCF may start out as a question mark in people’s minds, but should end up as an exclamation point.
I think this driving analogy fits well with the question of dealing with the past. When we are driving, we keep our eyes on the road ahead (the future). We don’t stick our heads out the window to watch the passing road beneath our door (the present). But even while moving, we do spend some time looking in the rear view mirror to see where we’ve been. How much more when we get a word like that! I would assume then that we might be a little lost at this point and need to get our bearings before proceeding any further. And for this reason, I would think that it may take more than just a short season of repentance to get this taken care of. I think we would do well to take our time and try to search out the depths of that rear view mirror.
I have been a member of MCF now for 8 years, and I know that that does not stack up much against those who have been here from the beginning and have sacrificed and suffered for it far more than I ever could. Still, neither does it mean I am someone passing through, making some superficial observations and guesses. I came here because God led me here and because I believe I caught the vision. It took place on the Saturday following the 1992 summer conference. I woke up that morning fully prepared to get in my car and drive back to Tulsa when God spoke so plainly to me that He wanted me to stay over for the Sunday services. That day I read Some Said It Thundered. I had visited KCF several times before, but did not really know that much about the church except some of the controversies covered in the media. But when I read that book, it became very clear to me that this was not just another church, but one that had been sovereignly called into being by God for a very specific purpose. And at the center of that purpose was His desire to make us one of His main prophetic voices to the Church and the world in the last days.
When I woke up Sunday morning, the Lord spoke so clearly to me again and said He wanted me to move up here and become a part of this church, that “it’s a big part of My plan for your life.” That night at the church, Paul Cain preached and gave out words. One was for “someone...named Don from Tulsa”. It was a very accurate word that confirmed very pointedly that this move was from Him.
So I have never had any doubt about God’s will in me being here. But I did come somewhat naively, and it took a good nine months before it began to dawn on me that something was not quite right here. When I realized that, God began to call me to come apart and spend time with Him at least one night a week.
Now I wouldn’t want to give you the impression that I always hear from God like this all the time. But these several experiences were highlights over a period of about a year. And yet another one of them took place the very first night of these prayer times when He again spoke so clearly to my heart these words: “Frankly, I’m disappointed it took you so long to see it.”
What the “it” above referred to was a condition in this church that I can only describe as one of blindness. Now I know we’re all blind to some degree, so please excuse my own for the moment and indulge me enough to hopefully get some context for the current situation. This church, I believe, is quite blind to what God wants to do in it and through it, to what’s wrong with it, and to some degree what has happened to it. This church has been called by God to be a major prophetic voice in its generation, and not until we come to see where we went wrong and how to get back on track will we ever realize the Divine calling on us.
Not having been here during those early years, what I have learned of them has been gotten secondhand from those who were. So I don’t know if this blindness existed from the very beginning, or whether it entered in after the first couple of years of operation. The impression I have is that the mandate never was understood very well from the very beginning, even though the powerful and continuous miracles of the first two years may have given the illusion of being right on target.
Why this was, only God knows. But I would probably chalk it up to a failure to understand the full scope of the prophetic calling. It’s not about just giving out personal words (with all the danger of abuse that goes along with it), but the pursuit of something much higher and greater, which I will attempt to explain in the course of this letter. But as time went on, this weakly-perceived purpose became increasingly overpowered by the surfacing of traits of a lack of doctrinal understanding, and by immaturity, inexperience and character weaknesses in certain key people especially. (I’m not saying that I am free of all these problems either, but I am trying to look at this as objectively as possible.)
It became even further aggravated with the arrival of certain personalities over time, bearing patently false doctrines, wrong attitudes and wrong values, and maybe even some alien spirits. By the dawn of 1990, this volatile combination culminated in the expose by Ernie Gruen and the entering in of John Wimber to provide some much-needed oversight.
The impression I get during that seven or so years is that those with discernment in the Spirit were routinely ignored and sometimes forced out. Many of the rank and file became hurt, wounded, and disillusioned, with many giving up and leaving. I would imagine that they came here convinced of the special purpose God had for us but got so ground up in the endless groping in the dark that they just gave up and moved on. Today, few of the original people are still here. And of those who are, I get the impression that many to this day do not realize how off they were. Often the explanation is that much of it was just an attack of the devil, and there’s little realization of how heretical the church was. Yet these heresies were the philosophical basis for the wrong ethical practices and elitist attitudes that it was admitted had cropped up.
But to this day, much of this is still unresolved. There is insufficient understanding of what went wrong, and therefore an insufficient repentance and resolution of the matter with both God and men, especially those who left hurt and offended. And yet ironically, this has led to a sort of false condemnation taking root at the same time, weakening our resolve to be valiant and bold for the Lord. Our church seems excessively afraid of developing an “elitist” attitude again. Therefore we have in many ways become more “followers” in the Body of Christ than leaders and initiators, giving our amen to every new wind blowing through the Body of Christ.
But once again, it seems to me that our elitism was more a by-product of certain false doctrines and expectations based upon those doctrines, not the prime cause thereof. Moreover, “elitism” is only such when it’s generated by mere human ambition and presumption. Just as arrogance and boldness can be confused one with another, so also there is a subtle difference between elitism and humbly responding to a call from God. Remember, to Korah, Moses was being elitist (Num 16:3), but his judgment was wrong.
The truth is, I believe, that God has called this church to be somewhat of an elite group if you will, in that He has called here to this work, not babes in Christ, but mature believers assigned to a higher level mission. This indeed was how it was at first. Mature believers from all over the country came here because they instinctively felt the need for a prophetic voice in today’s Church. Yet in our confusion and lack of vision we seem to have allowed many of these saints to leave disillusioned while attracting and taking care of babes. It’s a mixture that almost at times produced cult-like tendencies.
If you were to ask me what one of the biggest factors was, I would have to say a lack of doctrinal grounding in general and especially on the part of those who often had the most impressive prophetic gifts. In this way, some of them seemed to parallel the strengths and weaknesses of William Branham. People tend to assume that those who are so able to hear from God must of course get their doctrine the same way and with the same kind of accuracy. But the things we learn as doctrine become paradigms through which our subjective experiences are filtered, and if they’re off, so will be our ability to rightly interpret what God is saying to us. I think this goes a long way to explaining the false prophecies.
Yet on the other hand, there were a lot of prophetic words given, and perhaps some prophetic experiences, that just weren’t from God in the first place but from the human heart. In fact, both then and now, many things predicted never came anywhere near to pass, yet these words are quietly dropped with no acknowledgment of the damage to people or our own reputation.
Now I have made false predictions myself in my life, and I do not belong to the camp who insist a true prophet can never be wrong. But I think we fail to realize sometimes just how much our implicit faith in some people has far-ranging impact. For instance, one of us said in 1984 that the Church would be embarking on a ten-year wilderness drought, after which God would “throw a party” that will turn into a great civil war in the Body.
Now, people know of the problems I have had with the current revival or renewal as it is called, still sweeping the Church, in that, things that the Vineyard once called demonic manifestations are now routinely being called manifestations of the Holy Ghost. At the very least I would think that any reasonable person would consider this sort of thing to be very suspect, especially considering Jesus’ warnings about deception in the last days. The fact that this sort of stuff can start with a self-styled “Holy Ghost bartender” who invites people to “belly on up to the bar” at “Joel’s Place” and yet there’s not five-alarm bells going off in our spirits speaks volumes to me of the Body of Christ’s discernment. It seems that this whole circle of people who are so infatuated with spiritual phenomena fail to understand the difference between a daily experience of walking with God, and the seeking of spiritual experiences.
I cannot help therefore but wonder how much of this ongoing renewal was an attempt to ensure a fulfillment of that prophecy ten years later, exactly at the beginning of 1994? People are so eager for revival nowadays that it seems they’ll even create one if need be. Yet when we broke away from the Vineyard in 1996 or 97, what was one of our biggest complaints to them, but that they were unfairly disciplining this movement! This was our idea of repenting, of becoming prophetic again, of “taking a stand”, of being radical and getting back to our roots! I still stand dumbfounded, and wonder how much we are building our house on the sand of speculative spiritual experiences?
Since our break off with the Vineyard, as I said, I believe some of our directions have definitely improved. But it seems like we’re forever tip-toeing around the real issue. MCF’s main purpose of being God’s prophetic voice and what that implies still remains a mystery it seems. And until it’s resolved, all that we do will not have the proper context and sense of proportion, because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
To correct this situation, it’s important to remember just what the nature of the prophetic ministry is. It is about foretelling and forth-telling. The ministry of the prophet is about foretelling the future and forth-telling the present. It’s about foretelling what’s coming down the prophetic road, and it’s about forth-telling what’s wrong with the Body of Christ right now.
Foretelling is about being watchmen to the Body of Christ, warning them about what is around the corner. And since the Bible says we have a more sure word of prophecy, it must begin, not with subjective words and impressions pulled out of the thin air, but with a right interpretation of Biblical eschatology.
Now I know you said Floyd, on Feb. 13 that eschatology is divisive. That’s true, it is. But so is the Gospel in general, so is truth in general. And if we can’t even figure out by the witness of the Spirit what the proper Biblical eschatology is, how can we ever expect to get more subjective predictions right?
The common attitude in the Body of Christ is that good and decent men in the Body differ on eschatology issues and we ought not let these things divide us because they’re not essentials. That may be true when eschatological times are yet in the distant future, but how do you avoid them when they’re at the door? Especially when one’s eschatology can mean the difference between faithfulness and deception? And the emergence of a sort of “default” eschatology in the Body today, driven by the logic of the unity movement, proposes a scenario far too rosy to avoid that kind of deception in my opinion.
In any event, faithfulness to God is not just a matter of good intentions but skillful judgment as well. It means to be men of understanding, who know what Israel ought to do (I Chron 12:32). Prophetic people have to be people who do not speculate or theorize, or drift with fleshly trends, but be men who can get ahold of God for a confident, authoritative word of discernment.
In mentioning Bible prophecy, it is not my intention to promote a mentality of curiosity at every event that comes along and how it might fulfill the ten toes or whatever. Nor is it to engender fear, despair or doom and gloom in people’s hearts. Eschatology’s real value to me is that it gives an overall template to accurately interpret the meaning of events as a whole going on around us. It helps us discern the nature of the times we are living in. By and large, as I will try to show in the next section, the virgins are much more asleep than they are aware of, and it is the job of the prophet to wake them up, to raise their consciousness of what is happening around them and what it means. The proper eschatology theory helps us be forewarned of the deceitful nature of the times of the last days.
I am amazed however, at just how much disunity or indifference exists amongst the pastoral staff on this issue in particular. This may be due to some sort of a naive assumption that everything will just pan out in the end (which it won’t in my opinion), or it may be due to that conventional wisdom so fostered by the ecumenical atmosphere that it’s really not that important. But eschatology gives the Church a basic road map for the future. How that can be unimportant, unessential or minimized is just beyond me.
I am aware of Premillennial and Amillennial positions amongst a few of the staff, with others not ever even mentioning it, so I don’t know what they believe. Those who do, paint such incredibly sketchy scenarios that I still don’t know exactly what their vision is. Even amongst the Pre-Mils, I wonder if it’s some sort of a “new Premillennialism” in view at times. What I mean is that historically in our own fellowship and amongst circles of friends we associate with, the views might reflect a return of Christ before an earthly millennial reign by Him, and therefore qualify technically as “Premillennial”. But the emphasis is on a much too rosy a scenario of whole nations being converted, miracles so great that the world beats a path to our door, a sense of invincibility as “Joel’s Army” goes about conquering everything in its path, and all this being offered up as a trophy to Christ upon His return. Clear and central passages are ignored in favor of those that are much more obscure and speculative. It paints much too vague and Pollyanish a picture, and ignores Christ’s prediction that we will not be converting whole nations but be “hated of all nations” (Mt 24:9).
The strongest emphasis seems to be on a great coming revival, and revival on such a scale that TV anchors won’t have any bad news to report! Can any of you honestly read that into Matthew 24, II Thessalonians 2, or Revelation 6? But the classical themes of what the Scriptures do reveal—a Great Tribulation of a very specific duration, the stealth emergence of world government, great deception and great deceit, coming persecution, Jerusalem and the like—all these “negative” but true things are not the central focal point. Indeed, the entire philosophical inference behind Premillennialism—that without Christ’s visible, physical Presence on this planet the world cannot save itself, nor can the Church be adequate mediators of His rule—seems to be missing. But all this hyperbole makes people cheer, so we give them what they want to hear. Is this not an example of being teachers for those with itching ears?
I also worry about a reckless militancy in the idea of a great end time army being raised up based on a very poor interpretation of Joel 2. This cannot but alarm a watching world as they hear such language. A recent conference brochure for the Atlanta people has “Blitzkrieg!” emblazoned across it. All these things just strike me as very irresponsible and unrealistic, and I cannot see how this is not building eschatology upon private interpretations instead of Scriptural revelation.
Ironically, there seems to have been at the same time a “sealed-off atmosphere” here, a feeling that we really don’t care about the outside world that much and the events taking place in it. The emphasis seems to be much more inward and self-centered, with a motive perhaps of gaining reputation with one another. (Only God knows for sure.) We seem at times to be more willing to declare passion to God than to show it in our deeds. The new emphasis on global harvest may seem to correct it all, but it has its own problems as I will attempt to show further on.
There are teachings that also seem to reflect some Latter Rain influence (Restored Apostles and Prophets setting the Church in order, one city-wide Church, etc.), and the Manifested Sonship vision of a generation made so mature by the anointing and the Anointed. Why don’t we just come right out and say we are the generation and wisdom will die with us? It all just so smacks of pride and deception, I don’t know what to do with it.
But whatever the influence, the one thing we can count on is vagueness. Rarely are things ever stated in a plain, definite way. Nor can I ever remember the people getting anything even approaching an overview of basic eschatology theories and teaching so they can make up their own minds. It’s almost as if it doesn’t count for anything! But of course, that is the legacy of the unity movement which we heartily give our amen to.
Given all this emphasis or non-emphasis, it is not surprising that we seem so indifferent to ministries like Voice Of The Martyrs, whom I would assume a prophetic church would be great supporters of. Rarely do we ever seem to bring in speakers from persecuted nations to prepare the people for what’s coming, thus setting an example for the larger Body of Christ. (Although this may be changing with Floyd’s experience and influence.)
As far as my own convictions go, I am Premillennial but not Dispensational. I believe in a 3 ½ year Tribulation period, that the Church will be going through it, and that it will be the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Church age, bringing in the main harvest, attended by very powerful miracles, and culminating in the return of the Lord of the Harvest. I am not therefore unsympathetic with the idea of a time of powerful anointing. I just think there is too much hyperbole and false expectations we generate in the process.
The Body of Christ is looking for a great world-wide revival to come, and indeed, in some ways we are even now experiencing a great harvest with great miracles and salvations. And in fact, this seems to be the new emphasis we are entering into now at MCF, to jump into and concentrate on this Great Harvest.
But there is something terribly wrong with this picture. I do not believe what we are seeing right now, good as it is, to be the start of The Great Harvest. To be sure, this present harvest is valid, but most of it is destined to be lost, to go into the coming Great Apostasy of II Thessalonians 2:3. This will partly be the result of people bailing out when the mystery of iniquity breaks out and Christians are persecuted for their faith around the world. But mostly it will be a part of the great deception or Strong Delusion in that the ecumenical movement is inexorably if unwittingly delivering the Church back into the hands of Rome. Yet Rome herself is in the thick of bringing about the all-religions ecumenism of the New World Order.
The long and short of it all is that there will be a faithful remnant left standing who will enter into that 42 month period and they will be the ones who bring in The Great Harvest (Rev 7:3,4,9, etc.). This will happen during that 42 month period because of the great anointing available during that earth-shaking eschatological epoch, and because the New Age Aquarian dream of peace and prosperity will be collapsing all around the world. Our job then is not to neglect evangelism, true, but more particularly to proclaim and prepare that faithful remnant to stand during an evil day, that they may be able to survive that great deception and enter in for the real harvest. Accordingly, much education needs to go forth helping people to see what is developing and where it’s all headed. What kind of a Church are we going to bring people into, if they come out of Egypt only to go into Babylon?
In our own circles, there has been a prophecy about a coming Civil War in the Church. I believe this is a reference to this coming great split in the Church world. It is essential that we be found faithful to our part in bringing this about, lest we end up being part of the grays, and not the blues.
If the Church were better able to discern this eschatological vision, it would be better able to see the significance and dangers in the current sins and compromises that we find in the Body of Christ right in the present. This is part of the prophet’s job of forth-telling the present.
The most effective prophets I have seen sometimes don’t even give “prophetic words”. Rather, they have a mindset, a mentality, a discernment to recognize the true nature and motives behind the practices that go on in the Body of Christ that contribute to the present deception. Theirs is a work of tearing down false foundations and idols, and building up the Body with realistic and substantive promises that really do come from the heart of God (Jer 1:10). It is to be a critic, but with a view to redemptive, constructive criticism.
I see the Body of Christ today bleeding to death by a thousand little cuts. That this is a fact is indisputable to me. Sam Storms related in his Sunday School class that a recent survey of Christians revealed that the number one consideration when a family picks a church home is—parking! If that isn’t enough to make you weep I don’t know what will! It all stands in such stark contrast to the saints of old who were motivated by deep-seated spiritual convictions. But what do you expect when the ubiquitous Ecumenical/Unity movement has so dumbed the people down that truth doesn’t really matter? The cynicism of it all just amazes me. Both the Body of Christ and the world is dying for authoritative voices to address these things and that I believe is the essential task God has given us to do.
This Unity or ecumenical movement depends upon the lowest common denominator of belief to keep the peace. You’ve all heard it before—“It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you believe in Jesus,” etc. But the Bible says it’s possible to have another Jesus, another gospel and another spirit. And the true Jesus can slowly morph into the false one when He’s being misrepresented in a thousand little ways.
Now, if I had to place a “selah” in this letter, it would have to be in this section. I pray you will really take to heart what I’m about to tell you about the unity movement, for I believe it is this phenomenon that is creating almost all the obstacles to a true restoration movement in the Body of Christ today. Its influence permeates everything and our idolization of it is what is keeping MCF back from its destiny more than any one factor I can think of.
The entire basis or premise upon which the ecumenical or unity movement is proceeding is dead wrong. It is seeking to bring unity amongst the visible Church. But the Bible teaches that “the Church” is something in the Spirit. It is likened to a mystical body with many members with Christ as its head. Moreover, these members are known only to God as Galatians 4:9 and II Timothy 2:19 teach. Together they make up a corporate living Temple in the spirit (the spiritual world), and that operates in the Spirit (the Holy Spirit). Just like John 3:8 says, they move about like the wind, something we cannot see but we see its effects. “So is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” They do things—individually and corporately—in the Spirit, saying and doing things anointed and used of the Holy Spirit, often even when they are not aware of it. It is a Kingdom of vessels used by the Spirit of God. It is not an institution one joins.
This then is “the Church”. It is not buildings, denominations, parachurch ministries, leadership hierarchies, articles of incorporation or even communities of believers. All these things may be part of the “visible Church”, because it is true that we do have to live in a physical world. Yet all of us know how incredibly secondary and imperfect a definition of “the Church” this is. We all know that some denominations are so dead and heretical as to be totally apostate. Yet there are others which have some truth, and others which are very orthodox and solid. Yet even in the latter, not all who attend these fellowships are born again while others are going to vary in maturity and knowledge.
But as you know, the entire premise of the unity movement is to attempt to unite just these visible elements. And it is not only impossible but very dangerous because it’s a totally unbiblical effort. It has to create a “dumbed down atmosphere” wherein only the lowest common denominators of truth can be allowed because anything else would jeopardize this false veneer. Anything else would question even its very presuppositions. It is the ultimate in religious politics, because it seeks to find a place at the table for anyone who claims the name Christian, no questions asked. And it perfectly parallels in the religious realm the politically-correct atmosphere of the surrounding culture because everything (except those who stand for real truth) must be tolerated. And just as we know the absurdities it brings about in the secular world—terrorists receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for example while Christians are called hate mongers simply by virtue of what we believe—so it produces in the Church world absurd entangling relationships, strange bedfellows, and an incredible burden of false obligations and forced, superficial fellowship.
What it really is is the Catholic concept of unity because that is Rome’s claim—that it is the one catholic (universal) church that has a claim to be the head over all visible Christendom. But the truth is, only the Protestant philosophy is based on the Biblical revelation of the Church as essentially something in the Spirit, and that real Church is already united, because its unity is in the Spirit and is built around the very Person of Christ. If one is “known of God” (Gal 4:9), and “accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6), he is united to every other believer in common faith. Such spiritual Christians “judge all things” (I Cor 2:15) and recognize those truly born of the Spirit by the Spirit (II Cor 5:16) and not according to the flesh or the outward appearance (their degrees, their endorsements, the size of their following, etc.).
Now in John 17, Jesus did pray His disciples would come into a greater or higher unity, like the Father and the Son have, so much so that the world would believe that God did send Him. This kind of unity is described by Paul in I Corinthians 1 as speaking the same thing...having no divisions amongst us, being perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment (1:10). But this is a level that can only come about through the Ephesians 4 process of “speaking the truth in love...that we may grow up in Him...being no longer children tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine”.
But the current pursuit of unity in the Body wants to avoid the Ephesians process because it’s divisive by nature. So it substitutes with a superficial religious politics solution. It is at best an attempt to help God out and, like many errors, it attempts to capitalize on a half truth, in this case that if God recognizes someone as saved and born again, then so must we. This has been one of its upside benefits, along with a tendency to correct the spirit of competition, the duplicating of efforts and the like, even though I think it overstated the problem from the start.
But we have allowed ourselves to be brow-beaten by a straw man argument that the Body of Christ has been terribly divided by the Reformation. It is all such a mute testimony to our theological and philosophical ignorance in this hour.
In fact, what the Church world needs now more than anything is not an atmosphere of vagueness and blandness and generalities, but an atmosphere of salt, of strong convictions, of specific statements accurately stated. God deserves the best description of Him and His ways we can muster, not the most minimal! But this unity logic has so dumbed us Protestants down, we don’t even recognize our own beliefs anymore! We accept uncritically the assumption that to disagree with someone is to “speak against a brother in the Lord”, as if it were the worst ethical lapse one could be guilty of. But ecumenists themselves sure don’t seem to think twice about jumping on “heresy hunters” all they want, even consigning them to the hottest hell! It so parallels the political-correctness attacks on political conservatives today, it’s just mind-boggling. It’s the world’s influence in the Church of our day.
If we are really sincere in our desire to both unite and grow up the Body of Christ, we would speak plainly and specifically what we believe, educate the people as to the doctrines floating around out there, and allow them to decide for themselves what they believe. This would be treating them like adults and not leading them around like spiritual children. Yet the accepted and usual procedure for preachers and teachers to pursue is just that—to lead the people around with little dribs and drabs of one's beliefs until, three to five years later, they catch on and move on to another teacher. This is a pattern that must be spoken against.
I could go on and on but I hope you can see my point. I am not advocating developing a spirit of controversy and divisiveness. I am proposing something far more positive—that God deserves the best representation He can get in today’s world, not the most minimal. If other people think that’s divisive, then their motives are wrong and their ambitions are unsanctified.
I believe God’s basic calling for MCF is to be a trumpet of certain sound in the midst of a most confusing time in our world. If we would take up God’s challenge, rise to the occasion and address all these wrong things, we may lose some people in the short run, it is true. But if it’s the truth of God, He will anoint it and bear witness to it with signs following. And that would bring more people in than we could hold.
I would really like to discuss these matters further with you or anyone in person, but you all must judge if what I am saying is valid or not. I pray you will understand and hear what I am saying, no more, no less. Thank you for taking the time to do so.
On Monday, March 6th, as I awoke, I felt the Lord began to give me some more things to add to this letter. It seemed He said:
- The “keywords” we should be using should be less of “Global Revival” and more of “Babylon, the martyrs, Tribulation, judgment, reproach (especially at the hand of friends)” and the like.
- that the emphasis should be on Tribulation, not on winning the lost; that there are plenty of organizations already winning the lost.
- that the global harvest is larger than we realize, and will come in stages.
- that He was giving us an “invitation to repent”.
- that we need to stop “making deals behind the people’s backs”.
- that the truth will make us free.
- that the fear of man undermines everything we do.
- that the 1980s were a time of “Dominion” and “that is why you fell into such disrepute.”
- that passion literally means suffering.
- that there must be a full return to the original values.
- that we need a clear and not a general statement of faith.
- that we must end “economic fellowship”—that anyone should be allowed to join.
- that Smithton is a pseudo-revival. So is Pensacola by and large.
- that we casually give our endorsements to ecumenical projects all the time like City Union Mission and the United Way.
- that the world is in the way, not Me says the Lord.
- that it’s not enough to just be a positive example, that we must also speak against what is wrong more.
If these things are from the Lord, then I myself stand corrected for some of what I’ve just written to you.
© 1995-2013 Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries. All rights reserved. Cross+Word Website: http://www.banner.org.uk/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.