Spring Edition: February 1996 (Part Five)


     WE BELIEVE IN HELL says the Church of England - (but not the biblical one!) A report produced by the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England titled "The Mystery of Salvation" affirmed biblical doctrine, saying that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life, and rejected the view that people of all faiths will automatically be saved. It also stated that Heaven and Hell exist. However, it fell short of the "fire that never shall be quenched" of Mark 9:45 and said that Hell was "total non-being". In other words, annihilation. [Other ministers, such as Bryn Jones, John Stott and Michael Green have also questioned the traditional view of Hell.] (Daily Telegraph 11-1-96)

     The Queen has also broken with tradition. She attended an ecumenical service at a Roman Catholic church - Westminster Cathedral - in December last year, the first such visit by any monarch since the 18th century. This was trumpeted by the Press and liberal churchmen as a sign of reconciliation between the Catholic and Protestant churches of England. But it was under-standably seen as an act of betrayal by the few Protestant groups gathered outside the Cathedral who said the Queen was breaking her Coronation Oath to uphold the Protestant faith. (DT 1-12-95)

     INTER-FAITH QUEST. The Pope is anxious to achieve reconciliation between the three monotheistic faiths by the year AD2000 and has been promoting joint millennial celebra-tions for Jews, Muslims and Christians in Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Mt. Sinai. Archbishop George Carey has said that he sees the relationship between Christianity and Islam as one of the great fault lines running between and through civil-isations, and that dialogue between Christians and Muslims is critical for the future of mankind. (Evangelical Times, Jan 96)

     With this end in view, the Reconciliation Prayer Walk organised by YWAM and AD2000 will begin its trek from Germany to Jerusalem this Easter, passing through Muslim communities on the way on order to offer them an apology for anti-Muslim atrocities during the Crusades.

     Meanwhile, evangelical Christians in Latin America have protested about recent statements by the Pope in which he called them "sects" spreading "like an oil stain" which "threaten to pull down the structures of faith". In a message forwarded to a Catholic conference, he deplored the fact that Protestant groups were attacking the mystery of the Eucharist, the Holy Virgin, the ecclesiastical structure of the Church, and the primacy of the Pope". (Christian Herald, 16-12-95)

     Having been welcomed to America by Billy Graham, the Pope continued his recent tour of the States by meeting with a group of top US evangelicals. Twenty five leaders, including Pat Robertson, Charles Colson and Dr. J. Packer were invited to meet with the Pope in New York. Pat Robertson handed the Pontiff a three-page letter in which he pledged to work for unity between Catholics and Evangelicals. (Evangelicals Now January 1996)

     In this country, John Major has begun the year by meeting with Clive Calver of Evangelical Alliance. The Prime Minister, whose popularity has plummeted and whose party is lagging behind Labour by some 40% in the polls, is interested in the political views of today's evangelicals and recognises them as a "massive and significant movement". Maybe he is emulating American politicians who know they can win elections using the punch of the Religious Right. (Daily Telegraph 6-1-95)

     The Evangelical Alliance has decided not to eject Morris Cerullo from its ranks. While admitting there has been some discussion about Cerullo's methods, and disquiet about retaining him as a member, EA has drawn back from cancelling Cerullo's membership. According to inside sources, this was because of threats from some Pentecostal leaders and churches to cut off support and funding if Morris Cerullo was ejected from EA. (Christian Herald 9-10-95)

     The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld four complaints about advertisements by Morris Cerullo that offered miraculous healing to the disabled. (Christian Herald, 23-12-95)

     The Oxford University Press is publishing in America a politically correct version of the New Testament and Psalms with "inclusive language". Terms such as the "right hand of God" have been removed in case they offend the left-handed, and the Lord's Prayer begins "Our Father-Mother in Heaven". (Evangelical Times Oct 95)

     The Bible Society has published another version of the Bible in an attempt to simplify it and make it accessible to the poorly educated. It is called the Contemporary English Vers-ion. One example: God is no longer "righteous" but "really kind". (Evangelical Times Jan 96)

NO BLACK TOYS. A vicar in Gloucestershire who runs a church play group for 25 young children has been told by the Social Services that his toys do not meet racial stand-ards. The Inspector examined the Lego characters and complained that none of them was black. The Vicar has promised to provide black dolls. (Daily Telegraph 15-1-96)

     Our future has been predicted in a survey for Delphi Technology. Two predictions by scientists were that in the next decade more than half our homes will be linked by fibre-optics to inter-active TV's and telephones and that eventually everyone will be issued with a smart-card "for life" encoded with the holder's personal information. (Daily Telegraph 9-1-96)

     Every hospital and surgery in the UK is to be linked by a new National Health Service computer system. Computers are being offered to doctors free of charge, so long as they are linked to the network. Within a year, the Government hopes to store the name, age, address, condition, diagnosis and treatment of the entire population. (Computer Shopper Nov 1995)


  • Welcome to the first edition of a new year - 1996. Time does fly - and is it just my perception, or is time speeding up? Nowadays, I feel the year rushes by in half the time. Christmas is well and truly gone; already the bulbs are poking their leaves through the soil in the garden, the birds are calling and, if it were not for the Siberian blast of cold air, it would almost feel Springlike. It will soon be Easter! That's a strange thought. But Easter this year will bring a special treat - the second Banner Conference. Details to follow.

    Does it seem a long while since you received your last Mainstream? If so, that's because it is! As I warned in the last issue (Autumn/Winter) there would be a gap of some months - and NO Winter issue - because of my various commitments, including a three-week trip to America.

    America was its usual mixture of welcoming faces, hospitality, plenty of good food, strange TV shows, religious fervour of all kinds and a lot of silliness. The current hot potato there is Promise Keepers - or PK as it is known. You can thank God (please do) that as yet we have not seen this phenomenon in the UK. But as I report inside, it's coming.

    However, since I wrote that article I have been informed that Tom Chipper, who hopes to introduce PK into this country has been taken to hospital suffering from a suspected cerebral haemorrhage. I wish the man no ill, and we ought to pray for him and his family for a speedy recovery.

    But back to America. I flew there in November to participate in two conferences organised by a group of concerned Christians who call themselves the Alabama Discernment Ministries. Meeting American Christians confirmed my suspicions that we are not the only country to have been bombarded with false teachings to the extent that many believers now have little to no real fellowship. In the States, as well as here, people are leaving big churches and the trend is towards small, informal house groups.

    Ed Tarkowski was the prime mover behind the Conference. It was a pleasure to meet him at last and fit a face to the gravelly voice on many tapes, and on the phone.

    All the conference participants and speakers suffered spiritual opposition as we tried to open people's eyes to the agenda for AD2000. You could actually feel the demonic atmosphere at times, especially in Colorado which is not only the centre of almost all the dominionist ministries but many of the occult and new-ages ones as well. They consider it to be a "power-centre" and having been there I believe it!

    The religious opposition is relentless. One radio show host had got the boot just before we arrived for being too explicit about his views, and we were interviewed by his replacement. Even though what we said was mild, the very fact that we responded to callers who asked us about PK was enough to get THAT poor interviewer hauled over the coals for his involvement - and he resigned rather than compromise his beliefs. There is a growing stranglehold - even in America, traditional home of free thinking - on anything that is too biblical, and the networking between apostate churches and ministries is enormously widespread.

    After the Conference, we had the excitement of being driven high up into the mountains, partly on a road which is called the Omigod road, for reasons which became obvious to me as I covered my eyes with my hand so as not to see the sheer drop about two feet from the car wheels.

    Back home, I enjoyed an enforced complete rest leading up to and over the Christmas break having fallen prey to bronchitis, but quickly got back in the saddle to start this year's work leading up to the production of Mainstream and the Conference.

    There has been a bit of a lull in things - have you noticed? This was predicted a year ago, and at that time the Lord warned us not to get too complacent, not to sit back and stop being vigilant, because worse was to come.

    Although the fuss and bother over Toronto seems to be dying down a bit, the problem has not gone away. Some people have now found they are suffering after-effects, and testify to problems praying or reading the Bible and there are reports of people suffering depression. Even the Jesus Army, normally a resolutely "positive" organisation up to its neck in Toronto blessingitis, admitted in its Autumn 1995 magazine that there was now a "new wine hangover". One Canadian church reported that church work was tougher, church members were having "severe depression, marriage difficulties, loneliness and a level of spiritual warfare never before encountered". The church had also suffered a split, like many in the UK. There have also been reports of financial disasters - where pastors expected to make money by becoming more popular, but found themselves losing money and going into debt.

    The most public event, now well-known, has been the parting of the ways between the Vineyard organisation of John Wimber and the Toronto Airport. Whatever the real cause - disobedience to Wimber's appeals for moderation, the continuing encouragement of strange manifestations, or the bizarre latter-rain prophecies and dreams that were going on - whatever it really was, the result seems to be relief on both sides. Vineyard have sloughed off an increasingly wild and troublesome part of its organisation and the Toronto set-up felt free to pursue their beliefs with-out the hindrance of oversight from the Vineyard. The Toronto Airport ministry feels cut loose - and where they will end up now that the snowball has begun rolling down the hill, nobody really knows except the Lord.

    One comment from a Vineyard supporter was "the lion has been released". But which lion? I suspect it is the lion that "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet 5:8), and I was happier when it was being guarded in the Vineyard cage.

    Another inevitable result of the Vineyard/Toronto split is that those who had doubts all along can now take sides. They can say "we never really agreed with the Toronto version of the experience" but they will continue to encourage the lesser forms of the virus.

    In a radio interview with PK leaders, a caller phoned in to ask whether the PK leadership approved of the Toronto Blessing. There was a certain amount of squirming and stuttering as the PK leaders tried to say both yes and no at the same time, but the Radio Show host came to their rescue by saying that although the PK leaders and many of its supporters are from the Vineyard, the renewal manifestations were actually part of the Toronto church which was no longer a Vineyard organisation.

    His logic escaped me. Especially since many Vineyard churches are still up to their eyes in the Toronto Blessing! But it is clear that people are using the split as a convenient way out the back door if anyone opposes them.

    As most of you already know, I have stopped producing the Update tapes. The December 1995 tape was the last one. I apologise to anyone who was planning on subscribing this year. I did enjoy talking to you once every two months, and I know you found the tapes helpful, but so many people wanted the tapes that I could not keep up.

    I have been recording the tapes every two months for a number of years and the burden has now become too great. The problem with popularity is that it creates a lot of work! As well as that, I felt the need to step back somewhat, review the ministry, spend more time with the Lord and regroup my forces.

    Good news! Both of Bill Randles' excellent books have been reprinted in this country and are now available at even less cost. We no longer supply them through Banner Ministries but they can be obtained from the Rev Philip Foster. Details are:

    (a) the book about the Toronto Blessing, "Weighed And Found Wanting" at #163#2.99 plus 50p postage

    (b) the book about spiritual warfare, "War In The Heavenlies" at an estimated #163#3.99 plus 50p postage

    Now available from: Book Orders, c/o Rev P. Foster, 24 Geldart Street, Cambridge, CB1 2LX (UK). NB: Please make cheques payable to E.P.J. Foster.