This collection of articles covers the topic of Restoration, which means "restoring the authority and apostolic leadership to the global Church". It has other and deeper implications too, as can be seen by the articles on warring in the heavenlies (to pull down the satanic strongholds that restrict the church) and "The Glory" (which is a skewed belief that the full power and visible glory of God will ultimately descend upon the restored Church.)
The two main Dominion movements are Christian Reconstructionism and Kingdom Now Theology. Though these two movements differ greatly in their general theological orientation (the first is strongly Reformed and Neo-Calvinistic, the second is Charismatic), they share a postmillennial vision in which the Kingdom of God will be established on Earth through political, spiritual and in some extreme cases military means.
Dominion Theology and Restoration today has progressed far beyond the reach of these early articles of mine; however it is always good to refer to the roots of the movement, and to understand its core objectives.
Topics covered in this section are: Gatekeepers and Spiritual Warfare, Restorationism, Shepherding, Kingdom Theology and its proponents, historical roots such as Gnosticism, Sonship and the Latter Rain, the coming glorification of the ascended saints, and the part that the Toronto revival and such things as Celtic Mysticism have to play.(Part Two)
Article taken from: Media Spotlight, Vol.7
THE ETERNAL BATTLE
- deity of christ
- virgin birth
- second coming
- an esoteric statement of faith
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HERESY
- Charismatic Renewal
- Manifested Sons of God
- Postiive Confession
USING AN INHERENT FEAR OF GUILT
In Part I we examined the roots of today's Kingdom Theology, and defined the movement in terms of its theological and eschatological doctrines as well as some of its historic proponents.
We delineated the basic premise of the movement which, simply stated, is that before Jesus can return, the Church must establish the Kingdom of God on earth by taking control over every aspect of life through the establishment of a theocratic government.
Before we proceed further, I feel it necessary to point out that there is a legitimate "Kingdom Theology" based upon proper exegesis of Scriptural prophecy.
Jesus will return at the end of this age to establish God's authority over the nations of the earth. Until then, the Kingdom of God continues to operate through the administration of the Holy Spirit resident in the hearts of God's people. The Kingdom of God already exists therefore, and will one day be manifested throughout the earth during Jesus' millennial reign.
To differentiate between God's legitimate "Kingdom Theology" and man's attempt to bring it into existence through his own efforts before Jesus' Second Coming, we'll call man's attempt "Kingdom Now Theology," or "Dominion Theology" (using these terms interchangeably). This will help us separate the error from the truth.
To accomplish the monumental task of taking dominion, a significant number in the Church must come into "unity" of thought and purpose to that end. While the goal of the Kingdom builders is total unity, they realize that partial unity may be all they can attain. Whatever the case, the realization of any significant degree of unity necessitates a single voice of authority: a hierarchical structure through which individual believers will receive the necessary pronouncements to exercise dominion.
The voice of authority, it is believed, will reside in certain latter-day apostles and prophetsoperating in conformity to their own peculiar interpretation of Ephesians 4:11-12: "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
In order for the saints to be perfected (made sinless) there must be a restoration of the offices of apostles and prophets. It is a major prerequisite, therefore, that the apostles and prophets be recognized by the Church at large. (It's interesting that we are currently seeing certain well-known Christian leaders referring to one another as "apostles" and "prophets".)
Once they are acknowledged, these apostles and prophets will bring forth new revelations from God, which will be the guiding principles in establishing the Kingdom. These revelations will be given to the Church through the evangelists, pastors, and teachers who accept the hierarchy's authority.
One manner in which the apostles and prophets will receive these new revelations will be throughcommunication with heavenly beings (angels and departed saints), as well as with God - and specifically Jesus. It's expected that many of these "new revelations" will be authenticated through demonstrations of power in the working of miracles, signs and wonders.
Some also believe that for dominion to be effected, the world's wealth must be under the control of the Church. Hence the emphasis on prosperity and "divine health" as well as the ability to speak into existence things that are not as though they are (God-likeness).
After the Church has taken dominion, its task will be to purge the earth of evil,which is defined as lawlessness against God's moral laws and against the established authority of the apostles and prophets. This accomplished, the earth will be ready to be turned over to Jesus when He returns (some say 'if' He returns).
We will find as we continue our study that at the heart of Dominion Theology is the belief that man is a godand, as such, must exercise his godhood through dominion. The current teaching that man is a god is essentially a theosophic concept which can be traced to the beginning of man's history.
THE ETERNAL BATTLE
The conflict of the ages upon which the spiritual battle for men's souls resides is founded upon this single truth: that God is supreme and His creation must be subject to Him. In his rebellion, Satan ("Lucifer") originated the scheme to establish oneself as an equal to God (Isaiah 14:12-15).
This was the nature of his temptation of Eve: "...ye shall be gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). Satan's lie is not just that man 'is' God, as espoused in Eastern mysticism, but that he could become 'like' God through acquisition of certain knowledge. In essence, man is, or could become, a god himself.
This appeal to man's pride comprises the essence of the esoteric religions which seek, by initiation, to bring certain chosen individuals to perfection through obedience to an unseen spiritual hierarchy. This hierarchy - known as "Ascended Masters," among other titles - is allegedly comprised of highly evolved men existing in the spirit realm who are leading mankind through stages of evolution to higher planes of consciousness which will eventually result in the attainment of godhood.
Throughout history the ancient mystery religions have taken many forms, from paganism and witchcraft to humanism and some elements of psychology. Today they may be classified under the general name of "theosophy" - the blending of science and religion to create a universal brotherhood of man under a one-world utopian state. The term "theosophy" (lit. "Divine Wisdom" or "Wisdom of the Gods") (55) has several synonyms, some of the more common being "the Esoteric Philosophy," "the Wisdom-Religion," "the Secret Doctrine," "the Ancient Wisdom," and "the Esoteric Tradition." (56)
The esoteric ("hidden," "secret") religions have many expressions throughout the world, and include such notable movements as Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and Jewish Kabbalism, among others.
The basic beliefs of esotericism, as well as the Eastern religions, form the basis for what has come to be known as the "New Age Movement" - today's vulgar expression for the masses of the "higher" mysteries. The essence of esoteric religion is that man can attain godhood through knowledge and positive living.
From time immemorial man has fallen for this delusion, and has sought spiritual power through mastery of so-called "immutable laws" of Nature operative in the spiritual realm. The learning and mastering of these laws allegedly work for man's purposes and "validate" his position as a god.
Though modern theosophy, in all its forms, makes certain teachings of the ancient mysteries available to the masses, these are only the exoteric teachings. The deeper esoteric mysteries are reserved for those initiated through secret rites, sworn to secrecy under penalty of death.
Those teachings permitted for the masses have found their way into the Church. They have developed into a form of "Christian" theosophy which has affected many otherwise uncompromising Christians who, if they would keep their heads about them, would suffer death to maintain the inviolable position that deity is an attribute of God alone.
There is a reason for Satan's emissaries infecting the Church with the damnable heresy that we are or can become gods.
To the esotericist, bent upon establishing 'men' as gods, all monotheistic religions are anathema and their adherents must be converted or at least subjugated to the spiritual hierarchy (the spirit beings guiding mankind). Since the Church alone has the power of God to resist the deceptions of Satan, it 'must' be made to believe his lies. If the Church can be corrupted or neutralized Satan will have a clear path toward uniting the world against God. Thus any opposition to deception in the Church must be stifled under the pretense that such opposition sows discord among the brethren and hinders unity.
Satan's lies have found fertile ground in the Church not only because many Christians lack knowledge, but because they lack the necessary humility that can protect them against deception. Seeking their own wills above God's will, they are easy prey for deceivers who exalt men and/or the Church to the status of godhood and promote Satan's lies within the Church, lies characterized by the following teachings:
- Men are gods;
- Men may become gods;
- Men may become like God;
- Faith is a "law" or "force" that may be activated by anyone - believer or not;
- The ability to perform miracles, signs, and wonders is latent within all; we need but learn the techniques that activate the spiritual laws upon which faith is based;
- God is bound by these spiritual laws, and must respond to anyone - even His worst enemies - who exercises knowledge of them;
- as "gods" ("divine beings") we have the "divine right" to health and prosperity'
- Jesus is our "Elder Brother" who mastered the spiritual laws of Nature, and is therefore our example to do the same;
- Men may become perfected spiritually and physically by mastering these spiritual laws;
- The Kingdom of God will be established on earth when a sufficient number of people have been perfected.
No doubt many who teach these things would deny they are theosophists. In all probability they think of themselves as true Christians who have received special revelations from God. But whether they adhere to theosophical doctrines consciously or are merely pawns in the battle of the ages is immaterial. A child playing with matches needn't have knowledge of the damage he can cause.
It's evident from the recent emergence of these aberrant teachings within the Church that - through schooling and/or personal association - theosophy is having a significant impact upon some of today's prominent teachers.
I believe some of these teachers, though sincere in their profession of faith in Jesus, are themselves victims of esotericists who knew how to use biblical and Christian terminology to gain their confidence, or they learned from others who were victims.
Esotericists have made special efforts to merge their secret teachings with the basic tenets of the Christian faith, resulting in some rather interesting esoteric interpretations of Scripture. The major Christian doctrines - the deity of Christ; His Virgin Birth, His sacrifice for sin, His Resurrection, and His Second Coming - can be made to fit perfectly well into the theosophical model of religion. But their aberrant interpretations of these basic doctrines, unless openly stated, will escape the average Christian and deceive him into placing his trust where he ought not.
As we look at these doctrines from the standpoint of theosophy as opposed to that of Scripture, some may find our expositions of interest; others will no doubt find them tedious and may wish to pass over them. I've included them for purposes of documentation, and to demonstrate how esotericists might use certain terminology to convince Christians - even Christian teachers - that they are brethren in Christ, specially "anointed" to teach new revelations.
I should add that it is not these interpretations of essential doctrines with which I am concerned (any mature Christian would reject them at the outset), but the inroads into the Church of other teachings based on these interpretations.
Though there are few in the Church proper who would agree with these interpretations, many have bought the rest of the package which is bringing many in the Church into damnable heresies. These are offered as a warning to learn as much as possible what a teacher believes before accepting what he says.
The Deity Of Christ
Theosophists would agree that Jesus is divine. But then so are all men, if not actually at least potentially. It is therefore not inconsistent for theosophists to speak of Jesus as "Son of God," "God in the flesh," "truly God and truly man," and use similar "Christian-sounding" phrases implying His deity.
Nevertheless, whereas Christians believe that God became man (exclusively in the person of Jesus), theosophists believe that a man named Jesus became a god. To most theosophists, Jesus was one of many men who displayed an exceptional expression of the divine nature. They include Him among such notables as Confucius, Buddha, and Mohammed. To some, however, Jesus was unique among all men in His expression of the divine nature; they would say that no one has ever attained His status of spiritual enlightenment.
However, they also believe that all men and women have the potential to reach that same degree of spiritual enlightenment, i.e., to be equal with Jesus.
Some even go so far as to say that, theoretically at least, we have the potential to be greater than He, by further mastering the spiritual laws of Nature to do good for mankind. Jesus' uniqueness, to them, lies not in His person as the Word of God incarnate, but in His particular anointing as "the Christ" to bring enlightenment and truth for His time in history, just as Buddha and Mohammed did for their eras.
Though it is believed that there are exceptional "Christs" for different stages of man's evolutionary journey, we may all become expressions of the "Christ principle" and thus achieve divinity.
Theosophists, therefore, have no problem with calling Jesus the "Son of God." As John H. Dewey, the leading apostle of "Christian" Theosophy during the previous turn of the century stated:
"The law of FAITH as announced by Jesus and exemplified in his life, is the supreme law and method of all divine realization for man."57 "That he was fully and absolutely human, the veritable "Son of man," no sane mind will deny. That he was also fully and absolutely divine, the veritable "Son of God," we with equal positiveness claim and affirm." (58)
On the basis of these statements alone Dewey might easily have been accepted into Christian fellowship. But further on we find that he qualifies his remarks:
"This incarnation of the Divine in Jesus, however, but reveals and demonstrates the innate capacity of our common humanity as the offspring of God, for receiving into its unfolding life the full Spirit of the Father, and becoming divine, as illustrated in the life of our great Exemplar [Jesus]." (59)
"The manifestation of God in one man [Jesus], demonstrates the possibility of a like demonstration in all men." (60)
Were these teachings confined to the inner sanctums of the Masonic, Rosicrucian, and Mormon temples - were they bandied about only among theosophists seated around their tables of discussion - they would pose no genuine threat to the Church.
But we are now hearing from prominent teachers in the Christian media that man was created with a divine nature which was lost due to the introduction of sin. By being born again by the Spirit of God we lose our sin nature and regain our divine nature. (61)
There is no such teaching in Scripture. Rather, it is based upon a theosophical interpretation of II Peter 1:4 which, properly understood, tells us no more than that the believer in Jesus Christ is a partaker of the divine nature through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But it is the divine nature of the Holy Spirit, not ourselves, to which Peter was referring. The quality of divinity belongs exclusively to God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
As the Word of God incarnate, Jesus is divine, as is the Holy Spirit through whom God accomplishes His purposes. The First Commandment of God is, "I am the Lord thy God....Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:2-3).
Some may beg the question by stating that the word "before" qualifies the statement to mean only that Jehovah is the God who must come first. But the historically accepted meaning from the context is that we are to have no other gods in His presence: none are to be before His face. Yet many Christians today have bought the lie that they themselves are gods, and perfectly legitimate ones at that, whereas God has stated that there are no other gods besides Himself (Deuteronomy 4:35).
Therefore, whenever the Scriptures speak of other gods, they are speaking of false gods: demons, idols or men (Christian or non-Christian) who attempt to usurp the rightful position of Jehovah.
The Virgin Birth
The various schools of theosophy generally deny the doctrine of the Virgin Birth of Jesus.
However, in an attempt to spiritualize what the Scriptures plainly state as applicable to the physical - i.e., that Jesus was born of a virgin woman by the power of the Holy Spirit - there are those who might say they accept the idea of the virgin birth. But their affirmation would be qualified within their minds in the following manner:
"...[Jesus' virgin birth] was originally a highly mystical and philosophical teaching, which became in time a theologic dogma and legend....It is a mystical or symbolic tenet referring to the birth of the Christ in man from the virgin-part of one's being, i.e., from the spiritual or highest portions of man's constitution. It also has a cosmical significance - the Virgin-Mother of Space giving birth through the Child, the Cosmic Logos, to her multitudes of children of various kinds. There are thus two aspects of this mystical or symbolical doctrine: there is, first, the Cosmical Virgin, and, second, there is the mystical 'virgin-birth' of an initiate. An initiate is one 'reborn,' or, as the saying goes, 'born a second time.' He is not born of course in initiation from a physical father and mother, for his body is born in the usual manner, but in initiation, the 'new man,' the inner man, theChrist-man, is born 'from himself' because of his bringing out or unfolding into active manifestation the divinity within him and over-enlightening him; and his 'Virgin-Mother' is that part of himself which is the root of his being, the spiritual soul in its spotless and unstained purity. From the Virgin or Spiritual Soul is born the human Christ or the human Buddha, without admixture of extrinsic elements of any kind, and without other means than the man's own yearnings and strivings to become the god within himself.
"The Christian Church has interpreted these very mystical doctrines physically and thus has largely lost the far nobler and really profound symbolic sense...." (62)
Such esoteric interpretations of Scripture are difficult to recognize without careful scrutiny.
One may say he believes in the virgin birth of Christ, but hold an entirely different view from that of Christianity - in this case applying an occult analogy to the Scriptures. This ploy of esoteric religion is becoming increasingly evident in some circles of Christianity, most notably among charismatics.
The current penchant of some teachers to cloud the simple truth of the Gospel with teachings that impress the unlearned with man's wisdom is evidence of a new Gnosticism based on salvation through knowledge springing up in our midst.
Paul warned of such in II Corinthians 11:3: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear [agree] with him."
In light of today's deceptions, we would be wise to see that the meanings applied by teachers to the doctrines of the Church are clearly stated, and backed up by the whole of Scripture.
As in many other Christian doctrines, Jesus' death as atonement for sin is given an entirely different meaning by esotericists from that stated in Scripture. As Christians we believe that Jesus' blood is the element that cleanses us from sin, provided we come to God in faith and allow Him to apply that blood to our own lives. As God incarnate and sinless - the only begotten Son of God - only Jesus could pay the price for our sins. No one else's suffering and/or death as a vicarious sacrifice has any merit with God. The esotericist, however, holds a different view:
"If a man loves another greatly, can he not save his friend from future sorrow by taking upon himself his friend's karman [consequences of actions destined to follow from reincarnation to reincarnation]? The question is purely academic in a way, because when the last word is said, the karman of the friend is the friend himself, and therefore the answer in general is comprised of an emphatic negative; nevertheless, there is a possibility, not indeed of taking upon oneself the friend's karman, but of shouldering by means of a powerful will and a high intelligence directed to that end, a certain portion, be it large or small, of the consequences which in the normal course of Nature, with heavy and perhaps crushing effect, would fall upon the friend. The secret in such a situation lies in allying one's own life intimately with the life of the one whose heavy karman it is thus hoped to aid in carrying or exhausting...
"In those cases where such noble and altruistic action be taken for the benefit of all that lives or for the results which it is hoped will benefit a large portion of mankind, it is a Buddha-like thing to do, it is a Christ-like thing."(63)
The esoteric view of atonement does make room for Jesus' sacrifice for mankind, but only to a point. Any person whose motives are pure can take upon himself the consequences of the sins of another through altruistic acts of piety and self-denial.
So the theosophist and other esotericists can say they accept Jesus' death on the cross as atonement for "sin," but their doctrine is faulty, and Christians who lack understanding of this fact can be misled into thinking they are on the same spiritual level.
The efficacious sacrifice of Jesus which provides for the taking away of sins for all who come to Him by faith is actually denied by all schools of esotericism:
"This doctrine of vicarious substitution, both in form and spirit, is diametrically opposed to the positive teachings of Jesus, which makes righteousness itself salvation, obedience to the righteous law of God in the doing of the Father's will in the personal and social life....
"These authoritative words of the Christ, with the whole Sermon on the Mount, from which they are taken, and the full tenor of all his teaching most unmistakably emphasize the 'doing' of the Father's will, and unity with him in a righteous life, as the only salvation possible or desirable for mankind, while not a precept or parable of his can be brought to sustain in the slightest degree this doctrine of substitution; as though it were possible for the absolute justice and goodness of the All-Father to demand or accept the punishment of the innocent for the guilty, or could impute the righteousness of the sinless to the sinner, or accept any as righteous who are not really so. But as righteousness of life is secured only through personal obedience to the law of right, no man can become righteous before God, except by his own act of obedience. If this were possible in the economy of God, then the very idea of justice would be a delusion and a sham, and the thought and talk of a changeless moral order a pitiable and unmeaning farce.
"Surely salvation from sin in this life, by lifting man above the power of temptation, as promised by the Christ, and exemplified in his own life, would prevent all consequences of sin in this world or any other. And this is the only salvation worthy of the name.
"How is this to be accomplished but by the perfection of human life itself, through the unfolding and bringing forth of the divine or spiritual nature in that life."(64)
Through the clever manipulation of the word 'atonement,' esotericists have devised the doctrine of "at-one-ment," which states in effect that once a person has attained mastery over his physical nature he becomes "at-one with the Divine," and may exercise mental influence over the physical realm for the effecting of healing and other manifestations of psychic power:
"The casting out of devils and reforming the vicious, the reclaiming of drunkards and restoration of the insane to soberness and reason, giving strength to the weak and courage to the lowly and disheartened, and working "not after the law of a carnal commandment but after the power of an endless life," for the universal emancipation, enlightenment and uplifting of mankind, become the easy and true work of life.
"Man then becomes one in spirit and purpose with the divine, and is led, governed and crowned with wisdom, sympathy and power. It is the Christ or God-anointed life; the true at-one-ment of man with God, the human with the Divine, Christianity as Christ taught and lived it." (65)
"...when man has thus learned to specifically direct the force of life in the control of the elements in his own organism, he may then accumulate power within himself to master and control the elements and forces of the world outside himself; but as this is to be acquired through cooperation with divine power, he can attain absolute control over himself and that which is below only by first becoming at-one with the Divine, which is within and above him." (66)
This esoteric view of "at-one-ment" - coming into the expression of godhood in order to control the elements of nature - is a major tenet of mind science. Though expressed in different terms, it has crept into the Church through the Positive Confession teachings which declare that man is a god, and "faith is a force" that God used to create the universe, and that anyone can use for his own purposes. (67)
The Resurrection of Jesus following His death as sacrifice for our sins is a primary focus of the Christian faith. For if He had not been resurrected we would still be lost in our sins (I Corinthians 15:12-26).
The esotericist does not believe in resurrection, but in reincarnation - the evolutionary process by which souls are allegedly perfected by working out their karmic consequences from one lifetime to another. Yet the term "resurrection" does find its way into esoteric philosophy, specifically in relation to reincarnation, and its use can be misleading:
"No sane man, it is to be supposed, today can or does believe that the physical body, as regards its physical elements - or rather when once its elements have been returned to earth - shall be gathered together again into one component and perfect whole at some future period which Christians call the Judgment Day; when the 'last trump' shall be sounded, according to the quaint imagery of older times....Yet back of this idea of the 'resurrection of the body' there actually is a most beautiful truth or fact of Nature. This truth may be expressed in two forms; or, as the mathematicians say, it is expressible in both a general and in a special case.
"This special case involves a mystery - a teaching of the ancient Mysteries; but hinted at, it might be phrased thus: When a man has received his final degree of initiation he is said to be 'raised' to Masterhood in the same physical body. This point need not be elaborated further here.
"The general case, however, is to be explained by the reassembling of the life-atoms in the manner described in preceding paragraphs. These life-atoms are man's own offspring, at least most of those which build man's constitution are; inbuilt into his body during the physical life which he leads on Earth, although they are not derivative from outside but spring forth from within himself. Therefore they are psycho-magnetically attracted back to the Reimbodying Ego on its return journey to the new earth-life, and the Reimbodying Ego can no more avoid or escape receiving these life-atoms again into itself than it can avoid or escape being itself. To it they are again drawn because out from it they formerly went. They too, these life-atoms, during the Reimbodying Ego's term of devachanic rest and peace, have had their own wonderful adventures - adventures in the different spheres and on the different planes of the seven globes of the planetary chain; and thus when the 'descending' individual or Reimbodying Ego reaches the grades of our physical plane, and the baby-body is finally born, its growth thereafter is assured by and through and because of the aforesaid magnetic attractions and repulsions, and by the body's receiving into it and expulsion from it of these its former life-atoms. These are continuously attracted to and built into the physical body, as it passes from babyhood into childhood into youth, and from youth into manhood - the very life-atoms which had made the Reimbodying Ego's physical body on Earth in the last earth-life. Thus it is that the body of the former earth-life is resurrected - is 'arisen.'"(68)
This fanciful account of reincarnation has no basis for proof and is in direct opposition to God's Word: "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: For Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:27-28). Jesus died only once; and we will die only once. There is no reincarnation by which we may eventually attain spiritual perfection through works of our righteousness. It is only the precious blood of Jesus that cleanses us from sin and provides for our salvation if we trust in Him by faith.
The Second Coming
On April 25, 1982, many were surprised by the appearance of full-page ads in some twenty major newspapers worldwide, proclaiming that "THE CHRIST IS NOW HERE." (69)
These ads, placed by a New Age organization known as Tara Center, declared that the Christ had come to lead mankind into an era of peace and brotherhood. The Christ, according to these ads, is Lord Maitreya, an Ascended Master whose message of hope was, and still is, conveyed by an Englishman named Benjamin Creme (Krehm). Creme contends that Maitreya had embodied himself somewhere in the Himalayas, and is currently living in London awaiting the opportune moment to emerge and be recognized by the population of the world as the Christ for the New Age.(70)
Maitreya is said to be the embodiment of the aspirations of the world's major religions. According to the newspaper ads, "He is known to Christians as 'the Christ,' to Hindus as 'Krishna,' to Jews as 'the Messiah,' to Moslems as 'Imam Mahdi,' and to Buddhists as 'the fifth Buddha.'"
The Christ for the New Age is not Jesus. Jesus, it seems, has been reincarnated and will stand with Lord Maitreya to convince Christians that they, along with the rest of humanity, must follow their new spiritual leader.71
While Maitreya waits in the wings for the consciousness of humanity to be sufficiently raised to make us worthy to receive him, the resultant media exposure has fanned an interest among many who are expectantly awaiting a "man of peace" to come along and solve the world's ills. Creme claims that the emergence of Maitreya as "the Christ" will be validated by demonstrations of miracles, signs, and wonders.72
In Matthew 24:24 Jesus warned of such demonstrations of power by God's enemies: "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Whether or not Maitreya really exists no one can say at this time, but we can learn from this that when the esotericist speaks of the Second Coming, it is certain that he is not speaking of Jesus' Second Coming. He is speakig of the coming of "the Christ" for the New Age. According to Creme and other New Agers, Jesus was the Christ for the age of Pisces, and Maitreya is the Christ for our age, the age of Aquarius.73
This is to be the "Golden Age" of utopian bliss to begin around the turn of the century. It is the New Agers' version of the millennium - the Kingdom Age - run by men who have attained godhood. Since the office of "Christ" is not considered by esotericists to be exclusive to Jesus, they do not affirm 'His' Second Coming. Rather, they make mention of the "Coming of Christ," or even "Second Coming of Christ."
This is because they separate the "Christ 'principle'" from the 'person' of Jesus, and apply it to all men. In the broad sense, therefore, they teach that the "Second Coming" of "Christ" will take place through the raising of humanity's consciousness to the point where a significant number will believe that 'they' are the embodiment of the Second Coming. Then the world will be prepared to receive the "Christ" who will lead the nations into the New Age of peace and brotherhood.
The central figure of the "Spiritual Hierarchy" (the "Ascended Masters") will represent the full manifestation of the office of Christ for that age. In Dominion Theology, this teaching has a parallel which states that the Church is the "ongoing incarnation" of God. Yes, Jesus is Christ, but so is the Church as the body of Christ. Therefore, the Church is Christ.74
An Esoteric 'Statement of Faith'
A clear definition of terms is essential for a proper understanding of the theological stance of those who teach us.
Though holding erroneous interpretations of any or all the doctrines represented, one may make a declaration of faith like this: "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, true God and true man, God incarnate, virgin born, that His death was an atonement for my sins, that he has been resurrected, and that Christ is coming again." And on the basis of this confession, that person may gain the confidence of Christians to fill their minds with other teachings that will sway them from the truth essential to their salvation.
The teachers with which we deal in this study might not be theosophists on these important points of doctrine, but there is sufficient evidence to suggest that they have been infected by esoteric philosophies, possibly by having been exposed to wolves in sheep's clothing themselves. The various schools of theosophy that grew out of the Gnostic traditions and other apostate "Christian" sects have found their way into the Christian media, greatly diluting the strength of the true Gospel and polluting the thinking of many in the Church. Some Christians, perceiving themselves spiritually-minded, have fallen for the lie that they can become gods. But this is not spiritual-mindedness; it is carnal-mindedness, demonstrating a lack of understanding of the basic premise upon which the battle between God and Satan rages.
Scripture chronicles man's attempts at godhood: the rebelliousness that led to the flood and the tower of Babel, and the sorcery and witchcraft that dominated not only pagan cultures, but God's chosen people Israel. Jewish Kabbalism, thought by some to be a phenomenon of the Middle Ages, is really a blending of apostate Judaism with the Egyptian mystery religion learned while in captivity.
The resultant paganism of Israel was the source of revolt against God's prophets. When the Church was established, the same spirit of rebellion was immediately at work to destroy the simplicity and purity of the Gospel. Heretics led many away from the truth into errors which either demeaned the person of Christ or exalted the position of the believer - or both.
During the Church's early years the Gnostic "gospels" and Essene teachings mixed the ancient mystery traditions with Christian teaching, and provided esoteric interpretations of Scripture that remain with us today. One of the earliest heresies declared that the resurrection of the saints had already taken place. Paul wrote to Timothy that this teaching was overthrowing the faith of some (II Timothy 2:18).
Consider that, if the resurrection had already occured, then there was no hope that Jesus would return to establish His Kingdom on earth. It follows, therefore, that that task would have to fall to the Church. This was essentially the first postmillenial teaching. Kingdom Now proponents are correct in stating that postmillenialism is a teaching as old as the Church. But that doesn't make it a true doctrine.
It was just one heresy among many that found acceptance among some in the early Church. The age of a teaching is not a criterion for its truth. Only its conformity to the strict and clear Word of God validates it. The Roman Catholic Church is an example of one of the earliest attempts within the Church to establish the Kingdom of God on earth by human effort. With the Reformation came not only freedom for many from the bondage of Rome, but there also arose attempts by some radical sects to establish themselves as the "only true Church," destined to overcome sin and usher in the Kingdom.
The history of the Church, though obscure in many areas regarding its early stages, demonstrates how religious men, not content with God's rule over them, dissatisfied that they may die before the Kingdom of God was manifested on earth, chose to believe the lie that they could become immortal and establish the Kingdom themselves.
This dissatisfaction continues among today's Dominion proponents. I suspect that such are really afraid of death. Lacking the faith necessary to trust God, they wish to work their way to immortality rather than pass through the valley of the shadow of death.
Recent history has seen the rise of certain cults out of Christianity which purport to teach the true "gospel of the Kingdom": Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church (Moonies), the late Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God (not to be confused with The Church of God), and other, lesser-known groups, are seeking to establish themselves as the only true Church, destined to reign over earth's governments and people. A premise upon which some build their case is that there are two gospels: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel of the Kingdom.
They maintain that no one has preached the Gospel of the Kingdom before they themselves came on the scene to proclaim that their church (not Jesus) will usher in the Kingdom of God. Paul tells us there is only one Gospel, and he delineates it in I Corinthians 1:5. The entire chapter is a retelling of the complete Gospel through the Second Coming of Jesus.
Nowhere does Paul separate the Gospel of Christ from the Gospel of the Kingdom. Nor does he indicate that the church will institute the Kingdom of God on earth before Jesus returns. The teachings with which we deal in this study are, therefore, not new, but centuries old, most traceable to certain groups that sprang from the Radical Reformation as opposed to the Reformation proper; some go further back to primitive Christianity's early heretical groups, and even to the dawn of man's history. All these teachings reside in man's prideful refusal to accept his station in life in humble obedience to his Creator. Yes, those who remain true to Christ will one day be glorified; we will be exalted to rule with Him. But if we will be glorified - if we will be exalted - let God glorify us; let Him exalt us. We must glorify and exalt only Him. And if we are to boast in anything, let it not be in our 'position' in Christ, but in Christ himself.
There are many ways by which men within the Church are attempting to establish the Kindgom of God on earth. They are not always in agreement on the methods to attain that end; nor are they necessarily in agreement as to the philosophical direction that should be taken to accomplish their purpose.
One area in which most if not all are in agreement is that the Church must be united in a dominion mindset. Of a certainty, some branches of the Kingdom Now Movement are more militant in their stance, and/or more zealous in the propagation of their particular brand of Dominion Theology. As we outline the more prominent of these movements we'll see how they work together, often without conscious collaboration, to establish the dominion mindset within the Church. Some have even attained cult status among many Christians. Whether one ascribes to the radical element or the passive, or rests somewhere between the two, is not as important as the overall threat to the Church that these movements present through their aberrant teachings.
Yet in spite of these dangers, I'm convinced that there are many true and sincere Christians who have become involved in these movements because they are fed up with the increase of the sinful actions and perverse attitudes of society. They long for a world with a more sane and moral social structure, and are easily led to believe that if Christians can only take control, God's righteousness will reign on earth. How His righteousness will be implemented - whether by legislation, coercion, example, or by a miraculous move of the Holy Spirit upon the hearts of all men - is not fully agreed upon even among the leaders in the Kingdom Now movements.
Nevertheless, close scrutiny reveals that all hold certain elements in common, making it difficult to discern one from the other. For example, some Manifested Sons of God teachings are indistinguishable from some of the teachings of Restorationism. We are more concerned, therefore, with the teachings themselves and the men who promote them, than we are with the movements, which are little more than a networking of various individuals and groups. Yet it is important to this study that we briefly outline these movements and deal with some of their peculiarities.
The Identity Movement teaches that the Anglo-Saxon race and their kin (Scandinavians, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, etc.) are the "lost tribes" of Israel, who are destined as God's chosen people to rule the world. The full name of Identity is "Anglo-Israel-Identity Movement." (75)
It is believed that, as God's chosen people whose king (or queen) sits on the throne of David (the British throne), and whose lineage can be traced back through the Jewish patriarchs to Adam, the Anglo-Saxon race has special favor with God. (76)
"Israel-America" (comprised of Anglo and related descendants in the United States) (77) has a special anointing. The nation of Israel that exists today in the Middle East is considered a pretender to the name of Israel, being allegedly comprised of certain Asian peoples known as "Kazars." Thus any biblical references to God's prophesied dealings with Israel in the last days are believed to have been fulfilled. Daniel's seventieth week has come and gone, as has anti-Christ, and now we must look forward to the establishment of Yahweh's Kingdom on earth. This is to be administered through the Anglo-Saxon Christians who have come to recognize their unique destiny.
Though Identity is overtly anti-Semitic, its proponents claim that those who are against them are the true anti-Semites. But there is a deeper reason for the anti-Israel stance taken not only by Identity, but by other dominion-oriented movements. Should national Israel remain established, the belief that God is going to save a remnant of Jews to be a witness for Jesus in the last days would be validated.
Hence, the Church will have to be taken out of the world before Jesus sets His feet upon the earth, and before God's wrath is poured out upon rebellious mankind (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Revelation 6 & 7).
If this is true, then the dominion theory falls apart: the Kingdom of God will not be establ- ished on earth until Jesus returns with His saints to destroy the anti-Christ's kingdom.
While we who are outside the Kingdom Now Movement understand that Jews, like all men, are lost until they come by faith to recognize Jesus as their Messiah, we also recognize that the nation of Israel does have a purpose in God's plans for the last days.
Identity's hatred is not limited to Jews, however. Blacks and other non-whites are looked upon as inferior beings who may be allowed to enjoy the benefits of the kingdom as long as they remain subject to their Anglo-Saxon superiors. They cannot hold positions of significant authority, however, because the promises to Israel belong only to the "true" Israelites: the Anglo-Saxon believers.
The snag in Identity's plans for America is the tremendous influx of non-white immigrants whom they see as parasitical and detrimental to the establishment of God's white-dominated world government. The fewer non-whites that are left to enter the Kingdom, the better, as far as Identity is concerned.
As a side note, there is a black counter to Identity known as the Yahweh sect. This cult believes that American blacks are the true descendants of the biblical tribe of Judah, living in the land of the "white devil." (78)
Maybe the black Yahweh sect and white Identity are both right. Perhaps they're related and don't know it. In view of Identity's racial policy, it isn't surprising that radical racist groups such as the neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan have joined. (79)
For all their error and their attacks against non-whites, these groups are zealously moralistic (by their convoluted standards). Although Identity's members consider themselves Christians their ideology is more akin to salvation by race than salvation by grace. They welcome Aryan pagans into fellowship while mounting hate campaigns against Christian Jews, blacks, and other non-whites.
This isn't to say that all Identity People are overtly racist, but their philosophy reflects a dangerous mindset that threatens to exacerbate an already tense situation between races. Their para-militarism and rebellion against constituted authority combine to create a volatile situation that could someday erupt into fullscale racial warfare.
Even older than the Latter Rain Movement, Identity found fertile ground to propagate its own brand of Kingdom Theology among the neo-Pentecostals of the mid-twentieth century. Seeing the opportunity to cloak itself with the respectability of the Church, Identity has aligned with neo-Pentecostalism, and today presents the Anglo-Israel-Identity Movement as "just as much a result of the work of the Holy Spirit as the Charismatic renewal." (80)
Not all who believe in British-Israelism are part of Identity. But on the basis of little more than conjecture and hearsay, British-Israelism has found credibility in the eyes of many otherwise sensible Christians.
Yet even if true, the very nature of British-Israelism and the strife it engenders is contrary to the warning of Scripture that we not be concerned with endless geneologies (I Timothy 1:4; Titus 3:9).
True Israel consists of all who have come to God by faith in Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 2:28-29). To God no one has any standing except by His grace. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, rich nor poor, bond nor free, male nor female, but we are all one in Him (Galatians 3:26-29).
As Jesus said, God is able to turn stones into children of Abraham (Matthew 4:9), so who is anyone to boast of his ancestry, especially an ancestry built on little more than fanciful conjecture?
One must be careful when including the Charismatic Renewal in the list of Kingdom Now movements, simply because a significant number of charismatics do not have a definitive understanding of any such eschatological viewpoint. In fact, many charismatics see the return of Jesus as imminent. They believe in the "Rapture," whether pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation, and would reject the notion that the Church must establish a theocratic rule before Jesus can return.
Yet if there is any distinction between the charismatism of the mid- to late-twentieth century and the pentecostalism that preceded it, it's that charismatics tend to lean more heavily on supernatural manifestations as conclusive evidence that God is at work. They are also actively seeking unity wihin the Body of Christ on the basis of those manifestations, many times at the expense of biblical truth.
The charismatic ideal seems to have developed into this: in the interest of unity we must overlook differences in doctrineas long as those with whom we seek unity confess the name of Jesus and appear to exhibit the gifts of the Spirit - particularly speaking in tongues.
It's on these points that Roman Catholic priests have been given platforms to teach on Christian TV, and that Mormons have been welcomed into fellowship among some charismatics. (And what could find more compatibility between Mormonism and Kingdom Now Theology than the idea that men are gods?)
If there is any reason or rhyme to this it is that many charismatics, having come out of denominationalism, have lacked sufficient grounding in the Word of God to be able to separate the true work of the Holy Spirit from that of Satan. Having had little or no experience with supernatural power in their denominations, they are sorely lacking in discernment in that area. Still, many of today's most prominent leaders in charismatism hail from pentecostal backgrounds. So whether traditional or pentecostal, when one attaches more importance to experience than to the rightly-divided Word of Truth, the chance for error is greatly increased.
Due to its interdenominational thrust, charismatism presents especially fertile ground for the propagation of Dominion Theology. The saying, "All roads lead to Rome," isn't limited to the heyday of the Caesars or to the papacy's former domination of western culture.
It's through the charismatic movement that Roman Catholicism has regained much of its credibility among Protestants and other non-Catholics, capitalizing on that credibility to make overtures for unity.
Because some Roman Catholics speak in tongues and exhibit an attitude of acceptance toward non-Catholic charismatics, it's been stated that Roman Catholicism is changing - that there is now an opportunity to bring about a unity which has been lacking since the Reformation.
Besides the issue of tongues, ecumenical charismatics point to the use of Christian hymns sung at "charismatic masses" to the accompaniment of modern musical instruments as evidence that differences are minimal. This naivete is being exploited by Catholic clergy who, though professing "love" and "unity" toward non-Catholic Christians, refuse them the elements of communion on the basis that non-Catholics do not recognize the pope as their spiritual head.
Though some Roman Catholics, even among the clergy, have undoubtedly been touched by the Holy Spirit and are coming into a greater understanding of what it means to have a personal relationship with God, Roman Catholicism itself has not changed. It is still as strong a political system as ever, ruled by a hierarchy whose intent has been from its inception (and remains) to establish the Kingdom of God on earth under the headship of the pope.
The danger to the purity of the Faith is a genuine reality. The Charismatic Renewal has opened doors which it may find difficult to shut when Satan's demonstrations of signs and wonders increase to the point where spiritual life or death hang on the basis of one's discernment.
Manifested Sons Of God
One of the most militant movements attempting to establish the Kingdom of God on earth is the Manifested Sons of God.
This aberration came out of the Latter Rain Movement under the "apostleship" of John Robert Stevens, a William Branham disciple whose church in Redondo Beach, California, operated for a number of years as the headquarters for the movement.
The Manifested Sons of God teachings are perhaps the most definitive among Kingdom Now doctrines. They have all the elements of classical dominion theory: immortalization, restoration of the offices of apostles and prophets, absolute authoritarianism, attainment of godhood - you name it, the Manifested Sons of God have it.
The Manifested Sons of God Movement suffered massive dissipation as the result of many scandals that attended the extreme cult status to which it had attained. Nevertheless, its devotees, fervent in their beliefs, covertly continue to spread its doctrines to other churches.
Because association with the Manifested Sons of God Movement has proven a source of extreme embarrassment, there are few today who would admit they are Manifested Sons of God devotees. Much as a communist would deny his affiliation with the party because he doesn't carry a card, Manifested Sons of God adherents deny they are what they are. The test is what they believe and teach, however, not whether they are "officially" members of a Manifested Sons of God church.
Central to Manifested Sons of God doctrine is the idea that sonship comes through higher revelation. The Christian life is fragmented into stages of maturity: the first step is that of servant of God; the next step is to become a friend of God; following this is to become a son of God and, ultimately, gods ourselves.
Yet the Scriptures demonstrate that we are already all three: servants (Galatians 3:10), friends (John 15:14-15), and sons (I John 3:1). Yet there is nothing in Scripture to support the idea that Paul or any apostle or prophet ever put aside his servanthood to attain sonship (many epistles begin with the salutation by the apostle identifying himself as a servant of God), or that they ever believed they would become gods themselves.
Apart from John Robert Stevens's disciples, there are many whose teachings would qualify them as Manifested Sons of God, the essential ingredient being a peculiar interpretation of Romans 8:19-23:
"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same hope,Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
As a doctrine crucial to the Manifested Sons of God, perfection (success in living sinlessly) will result in incorruptibility.
This will qualify those who "overcome" as worthy to rule in the Kingdom of God.
Whether Jesus will return at the beginning, during, or after the Millennium is open to conjecture. Some who have been touched by the Manifested Sons of God influence even believe He will not return physically, but rather that Christ and the Church are becoming one in nature and essence, and that the Church, as the incarnation of God, will manifest Christ on earth.
There are even those who believe that they have already attained perfection and, as a result, will never die. They have attained a higher degree of spiritual evolution, so to speak.
For all the elaborate surmisings with which these people have deluded themselves, a careful reading of Romans 8:19 will show that the "manifestation of the sons of God" alluding to the redemption of our bodies (verse 23) cannot be properly understood apart from I Corinthians 15:51-52, which states that we shall all be changed, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
From these verses it is clear that the "manifestation of the sons of God" - immortality - will take place at the last trump. First Thessalonians 4:15 makes it even clearer that this will not occur before the resurrection of the dead at the coming of Christ:
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [go before] them which are asleep.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
The teachings of most Kingdom Now groups can be traced to the Manifested Sons of God. And not only do they come from the Manifested Sons of God, they must ultimately return to the "pure" Manifested Sons of God doctrine: man need not die; by taking hold of secret knowledge he can become like God.
Whether or not the Manifested Sons of God will ever make a comeback as an organized segment of the Christian community only the Lord knows. But their influence has been more far-reaching through undercover proselytizing than it would have had there been no breakup. And they continue to affect more and more Christians who are sufficiently naive to think they can become immortal by acting spiritual.
The grandiose promise of ruling over the world as implementers of God's righteousness holds special appeal for the prideful, "god-consciousness" persons who perceive authority as rulership rather than servanthood.
Inherent to all Kingdom Now Theology is the idea of "Restoration."
The premise of Restoration is that since the first century, the Church has not functioned as God planned, and must therefore be "restored" to its original purpose of achieving dominion.
This involves the "restoration" of the offices of apostles and prophets, the "restoration" of the Tabernacle of David (signified by the restoration of worship and praise), and the "restoration" of power (signs and wonders).
As a less cultic form of Manifested Sons of God, the Restoration Movement believes in immortalization through perfection. Thus Restoration's emphasis on purifying the Church through repentance and holy living.
Certainly no one can find fault with repentance and holy living. But at the heart of Restoration is the goal of establishing the Kingdom of God on earth in the physical absence of Jesus. Holy living, forgiveness, and unity of the Body of Christ are essential to the attainment of that purpose.
Restoration preachers appear to be among the humblest of God's servants, confessing their own sins before the people and presenting themselves as examples of how Christians should examine their own hearts. One of the Scriptures most often quoted by Restoration preachers is Matthew 7:1:"Judge not, that ye be not judged." In their view, it is especially imperative that the people not judge teachers, regardless of doctrine. We are to let the Holy Spirit judge them. I believe many Restoration proponents are truly humble men who have unwittingly opened themselves to error.
But so, too, many of those who cry "Touch not God's anointed," or "Judge not," do so out of fear that their own doctrines might come under close scrutiny. They totally ignore the context of Matthew 7:1, which implies hypocritical judgment, not the judgment necessary to preserve the purity of the Faith.
We are often exhorted in Scripture to judge, not those outside the Body of Christ, but those in the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 5:12, 6:5; John 7:24). In Romans 14:10-13, one of the strongest Scriptures about judging, we find that the context reveals we are not to judge a brother for what he eats or drinks. But we are to judge stumbling blocks that others put before the brethren.
Certainly false doctrine would fall into that category. We are not to judge men's hearts, but we are to judge actions and teachings that lead others away from God's truth. Why those who cry against judgment propagate error, and why, contrary to their own teachings, they condemn those who judge those errors is between them and the Lord.
Again, there is nothing wrong in holy living, or in unity with brothers in Christ. These we should desire. But what Restoration and Dominion Theology in general seek is not so much unity of the faith as uniformity of the dictates of self-proclaimed apostles and prophets.
More than any other movement, Reconstruction is the intellectual arm of Dominion Theology.
Offering articulate and intelligent arguments for the Church to establish theocratic rule by taking dominion over politics, economics, science, the arts, and every other expression of human social structure, Reconstruction attracts thinking people who see God's laws as the only answer to the present chaos.
No right-thinking Christian would deny that this is true. However, unless Jesus is present to administer the affairs of that theocracy, human fallibility, no matter how well-intentioned, would ultimately result in religious totalitarianism.
Now, I'm one who believes that Christians should become involved in politics and in every other area of civic life in order to be a light to the world and salt to the earth. If we are to win souls and influence people for Christ, we cannot cloister ourselves from the world. But we are deluding ourselves if we think we can establish any man or religious group of men as saviors of the world.
Reconstruction's noble ideas of bringing about a transformation of society through which righteousness will be manifested are doomed to failure. But that does not mean we cannot use the information on politics and other fields of human endeavor that notable Reconstructionists provide.
Their analyses of world affairs from a Scriptureal perspective are often intelligent and well-documented, and can be of significant help to Christians who wish to be informed on current events. (Just beware the leaven.) Nor does it mean we shouldn't continue to wage spiritual warfare and take authority wherever God grants it to us.
But a theocracy administered without the benefit of Jesus' physical presence begs for subjective reasoning based on the intellectual whims of man's faulty wisdom. Yes, the Holy Spirit can keep such a theocratic rule in line. But He won't if it exists apart from the will of God. And based on His Word, no such theocracy will be established by God without Jesus present. Should any such theocracy be established, it would not be a true theocracy, but a totalitarian state of man's own making.
God's Word is clear that before Jesus returns tremendous evil will encompass the governments of the world (Matthew 24, Mark 14, Revelation 6 & 7). We might not like that prospect, but God's Word is without error. The question is whether Reconstruction seeks to impose the will of man in the name of God. This, I believe, is the direction in which Reconstruction, like all Dominion movements, is headed.
If there is one teaching of Dominion Theology that has come to characterize the Positive Confession Movement of late, it is the deification of man. While most of the aforementioned movements employ this theme, Positive Confession is coming to the forefront.
This is a paradox of sorts because there are many in Positive Confession who are not consciously linked to Dominion Theology, looking instead for the imminent return of Jesus, whether pre-, mid-, or post-Tribulation, and do not see man's efforts as the answer to anything. They would reject the idea that they are or can be gods, even though in their acting out the Positive Confession scenario they are acting out the role of God. This by their insistence that they can speak into existence things that aren't as if they are.
But it isn't the conscious adherence to Kingdom Now Theology that makes Positive Confession so compatible (though there are many who do adhere consciously to Kingdom Now Theology). It's the strong dominion mindset and the increasingly prevalent teachings on the believer's alleged "god-likeness" that will eventually draw a great bulk of Positive Confession people into the Kingdom Now camp.
Reconstructionist Gary North, in his book 'Unholy Spirits,' demonstrates how the reconstructionists have influenced the charismatics and, most specifically, the Positive Confession Movement, without their being aware of the historicity of Dominion Theology:
"Some of the charismatic groups believe in tightly knit church convenants. The reconstructionists have been the major theologians of the biblical convenant. Other charismatics have preached personal financial victory and health through prayer and by obeying God's 'principles.' The reconstructionists have been the major defenders of the continuing legitimacy of God's law in New Testament times. Some of these 'positive confession' charismatics (also called 'word of faith') have begun to preach that the optimism which God offers to individuals also applies to God's other convenanted associations: families, churches, and civil governments. This represents a major break with the traditional pessimistic eschatology of fundamentalism, called dispensationalism. These charismatic leaders have not self-consciously made the break from premillenialism to postmillenial optimism, but the term 'dominion' implies it. Again, the reconstructionists are the only Protestant theologians to have forthrightly preached postmillenialism after 1965. (R.J. Rushdoony was the pioneer here.) Thus, the ideas of the reconstructionists have penetrated into Protestant circles that for the most part are unaware of the original source of the theological ideas that are beginning to transform them." (81)
The concept of dominion fits the Positive Confession mold. If all that's necessary for the Church to take dominion is to speak and act "in faith," then the only problem is to get enough Christians to do so. Positive Confession's belief in faith as a "force" into which anyone can tap is a tenet of witchcraft. It places God at the disposal of anyone who can learn the formulas (or "principles") of "faith," and tries to force Him to work on their behalf regardless of His will.
Positive confession is not prayer; it's not communication with God. Rather, it's mental affirmation of what the person "confessing" wants accomplished with little or no practical consideration of what God's will might be. While Positive Confession has no definitive eschatology, it has established certain teachings that prepare Christians to accept Dominion Theology.
The Shepherding-Discipleship Movement which attained its greatest impetus during the 1960s and 70s exemplifies the extreme authoritarianism which would probably be necessary to implement and sustain any attempted theocracy.
In spite of extreme abuses against personal freedom in Christ, the thought control that characterized that movement continues to rear its ugly head among Kingdom Now groups. Former leaders of that movement have gained new respectability among other leaders within charismatism.
They have much to offer in the way of instruction on how to bend the wills of others to their own - a talent vital to any human attempt to set up the Kingdom of God.
There is no doubt that a great need exists within the Church for 'scripturally-based' discipleship and authority. Such must be founded on the concept of authority as servanthood, ministered in love and humility by those mature in the faith. Shepherding-Discipleship as the movement it became, however, is nothing less than spiritual child-abuse. Through intimidation by the instilling of fear and unfounded guilt, it bludgeons babes in Christ into obedience to the wills of the "shepherds" in authority. And not only babes, but many "mature" Christians have fallen prey to this evil due to the misuse of Scripture to establish "coverings" over every member.
Ephesians 5:11-14 is used to convince the unwary that in order to be perfected they must submit to those in authority, regardless of what that authority requires of them. Thus, abuses are rampant in Shepherding-Discipleship.
In extreme Shepherding-Discipleship many are compelled to live a communal lifestyle in total obedience to their "shepherds." They may not marry, work, minister, buy or sell, or exercise their own wills in any matter without their shepherd's approval. They live in strict conformity to religious and temporal duties within their communal society. Disobedience, and even weariness common to such a stringent lifestyle, meet with strong disciplinary action. There have even been reports of physical abuse to keep the "sheep" in line.
In such a scenario the individual's personal relationship to God is subordinated to the corporate structure of their religious society. One is not allowed to hear from God directly, because God only speaks to them through their shepherd. Should a person leave the "covering" of his shepherd to pursue his freedom in Christ, he is threatened wth reprisals from the hand of God: loss of salvation, sickness, divorce, financial ruin. He is shunned by the community of which he was a part, and spoken of as a servant of Satan or in some other derogatory way.
Even the marriage relationship is subordinate to the relationship of the shepherd with his disciple. Broken homes and divorces are not uncommon among those marriages where one spouse develops a stronger bond to the shepherd than to his or her mate.
All these abuses exceed the parameters of disciple- ship intended by Jesus, and establish the babes in Christ as disciples of men rather than disciples of Christ.
The Shepherding-Discipleship mentality is such that self-prideful humanity finds it appealing. Those disciples who obey are rewarded by being made shepherds over others. Thus is propagated a brutal and demeaning society governed by fear and guilt. Though these are the extreme abuses of Shepherding-Discipleship, the mentality is the same throughout the movement. Such a mentality is critical to Kingdom Now Theology.
For how can a significant portion of mankind be made to conform to the dictates of the apostles and prophets except through the instilling of fear and guilt? No one wants to miss out on what appears to be a move of God. Ignorance on the part of those who are unsure of their relationship to God breeds indecision which, in turn, results in acquiesence to authority at the expense of their personal relationship to Christ.
The use of fear and guilt to bring people into line with the dictates of self-appointed authority is not the exclusive property of Shepherding-Discipleship. Were we to analyze each movement germain to Kingdom Now Theology we would find strong elements of such fear and guilt at the core of their structures. They all subordinate the individual's relationship to Christ to the dictates of the religious leaders.
To illustrate, let's take the other movements with which we've already dealt and briefly see how fear and guilt play a part.
Identity: Fear and guilt are essential ingredients inany racist, authoritarian structure - especially where the use of para-militarism is utilized to foment hatred and threaten bloodshed.
Manifested Sons of God: Extreme fear and guilt forthosewho do not move forward to perfection in order that the Kingdom of God may be established.
Restoration: A strong condemnation of utilizingjudgment breeds guilt in those who question the teachings of others, resulting in fear that God's displeasure will be the consequence. This applies even to the righteous judgment of sin and doctrinal error.
Reconstruction: Guilt results from not becominginvolved in attempting to establish the Kingdom of God through politics and other societal strategies.
Charismatic Renewal: Guilt is instilled in those whobalk at attempts to meld them into unity with others whose doctrines are seriously in conflict with Scripture. This results in a fear of God's displeasure for hampering unity, and fear of men's reprisals for speaking out against error.
Positive Confession: Fear that if one doesn't act andspeakin a prescribed manner God will not answer. Guilt that one's faith is deficient should his prayers not be answered to his satisfaction.
These are sketchy but accurate assessments of how religion based on fear and guilt has encroached upon the modern Church. The individual relationship of the Christian with his Savior is a sacred trust to be nurtured and strengthened by the teaching and counsel of the elders in his church.
While the corporate expression of faith is vital to the life of the Church, that life is only as strong as the strength of the individual links in the corporate chain. The subordination of the individual to the corporate body at the expense of individuality actually weakens the Church in its ability to stand against deception and, ultimately, even against the overt evil influences of the world.
Coming Up in PART THREE:
In our next installment we'll detail the various teachings within Kingdom Now Theology, quote those who hold those teachings, and name the particular movement or movements with which they are associated.
- G.dePurucker, 'The Esoteric Tradition,' 2 Vols.(Point Loma, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1935),p.24.
- John H. Dewey, 'Christian Theosophy'(New York: J.H. Dewey Publishing Company, 1888),p.vi.
- Randy Shankle, Video Tape of Trinity Broadcasting Network "Praise the Lord" program, c.August, 1986.
- 'The Esoteric Tradition,' pp.1104-1105.
- 'Christian Theosophy,'pp.28-30.
- Ken Copeland, Trinity Broadcasting Network,"Praise the Lord" program, c.September, 1985.
- 'The Esoteric Tradition,'pp.788-791.
- Los Angeles Times, Part 1,p.31.
- Benjamin Creme, press conference at The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, May 14, 1982.
- Earl Paulk, video tape of church service in which he refers to the Church as "the ongoing incarnation of God," c.October, 1986.
- Curtis Clair Ewing, Tract: "For the Benefit of Our Pentecostal and Charismatic Brethren!" (Waynesville, NC: New Beginnings, undated),p.1.
- 'Time,' October 20,1986,p.74.
- Orange County 'Register,' Orange County, CA, October 30, 1986,p.A23.
- "For the Benefit of Our Pentecostal and Charismatic Brethren," p.1.
- Gary North, 'Unholy Spirits,' (Fort Worth: Dominion Press, 1986), pp.374-375
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