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The Persecuted Church


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One step forward and three steps back

It takes honest leadership to admit you were wrong, as in the case of willow Creek, a church that has been a seeker friendly model of ministry to many. But are we seeing steps of change in the right direction?

After an admission they were wrong and made a mistake Hawkins states “Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.”

Willow Creek thinks God wants us to “transform the planet!” This didn’t sit well with me after I first read this. Time will always give us a bearing on where one is headed. After 30 years they realized they had moved away. Well it did not take long…They are now moving to be part of the emerging spirituality, that includes Rick Warren and many other major Christian leaders who believe the church will transform cities and usher in the kingdom of God on earth before Christ returns. Hopes to transform the planet certainly has dominionist language, on the other side those who know the season we are in look forward to completely different scenario for the church.

Transforming the world before it becomes too late is hardly something you will find in the bible which makes it clear Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (until he comes again) and we are in conflict with the world that is under the influence of Satan and his kingdom that is presently ruling through

We are to become separate from the world to be any good for God’s kingdom, as we rescue individuals.

While this church seems to have had an awakening of sorts – a churches midlife crises after 30 years, the next step they take will show their direction for the coming years.

Willow creek has been known as one the most influential mega-churches in America (implementing a seeker friendly approach). When a church bases its success on growth, attendance and making the “unchurched” feel comfortable by avoiding giving them the straightforward word instead of a spiritual maturity with Christ through the word. You can say they are missing the main basis for the church’s leadership - that is to equip believers to be spiritual so they can do ministry. This can only come by knowing the word and understanding the way it was written.

Hybel's on this change they are implementing states: “We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own

However, Hybel's on the front of their website “There is nothing like the local church when the local church is working right. The local church has been entrusted with carrying the life-changing message of Jesus Christ, and it’s the only hope I see for this hurting and broken world.

“the local church help lost people come to faith, it helps lonely, broken-hearted people cope with the brutality of evil in this world. …Lost people get found, lonely people find community, the bereaved find comfort, the committed grow deeper and stronger in their faith. In Acts 2:43 it says that sometimes people in the first church just stood in awe. Throughout the past 30 years, I have had that experience myself over and over.”

How does one say this with approval of the past and also say it was a mistake how they practiced the church? Seems to be somewhat contradictory to me.

Their new Fall 2007 Catalog gives a clear picture of their direction resources offered by New Age proponent Rob Bell, contemplative author Keri Wyatt Kent, and the Ancient Future Conference with emerging leaders Scot McKnight and Alan Hirsch as well as resources by Ruth Haley Barton and John Ortberg. Time will tell what Willow Creek intends to do about strengthening its focus on “spiritual practices” and “transform[ing] the planet.”

Articles titles in Willow issue certainly make a statement that things are going to change: “Seismic Shifts-Rediscovering Spiritual Formation,” “Stemming the Tide,” “The Changing Face of Worship,” “Shifts in Missional Mindset,” and “The Next Great Debate.” Lectio Divina, shifting together, community transformation p.44 global shifts one city at a time. All  of this has the flavor of not getting back to the Bible but being emergent and part of the new apostolic dominionism agenda.

In the first article, “Seismic Shifts,” the message is: “Change or die. ... If the local church refuses to change, it will die. ... But the winds of change are blowing. Leaders and entire congregations are making the choice to try something new. They are looking at the world, culture, norms and trends and they are daring to take a chance, venture a risk, find another way.” Bell explains that the other articles in the issue give “snapshots” of how the church is now shifting.

Another article, “Rediscovering Spiritual Formation,” a promoter of mediation Keri Wyatt Kent writes on “monastic communities” and “the emergent church.” Quoting or favorably referring to mystics like Richard Foster, Ruth Haley Barton, David Benner, John Ortberg, etc.) Kent paints a picture that shows mysticism's role in this seismic shift Willow Creek proclaims. She correctly states that while there are some “conservative” Christians who are suspect of spiritual formation, by and large the term and “the practices” have become “mainstream.” These practices, of course, are the mystical practices that are the energy behind the spiritual formation movement.

They want to change the way we “do” church, going from seeker friendly which has worn out its travel time to the newest fad Emergent-itus.

On April 9-11, 2008 the student ministry at Willow Creek will be offering a conference called Shift.  Their advertisement brochure states, “As the world of student ministry continues to shift and change, so do the needs of those who serve students.  Recognizing this, our team has designed an event that is unlike any other Student Ministries Conference we’ve ever hosted.”

  The brochure promises to offer the students a variety of models of ministry at the Conference.  The fact is that it is balanced toward mysticism and the emergent movement.  Speakers include key emergent leaders, Brian McLaren, Mark Yaconelli, Scot McKnight and Dan Kimball. (www.willowcreek.com/shift2008/AboutShift.html.

Say goodnight folks- these men will certainly bring them to the end of the road. These men they are now affiliating with go beyond their former contemporaries of liberalism preached in many colleges and by the Jesus seminar. They are leading the church to become part of one big “happy family” that is united with all the other religions that have similar goals. This incorporates a form of liberation theology where we have a society that is practicing a social justice for all. Mclarens New Kind of Christian is not a Biblical one, but a mystic. Not only do they go past the boundaries, they are leading everyone over the cliff.

Contemplative prayer spiritual formation are part of the emergent church’s break from Biblical Christianity practiced by the apostles, in its place they look to the monastic “church fathers” that tried to escape the world and live out away from civilization. They feed their hungry searchers an experiential mysticism -- this is not the same as a Spiritual man that is growing in doctrine.

The dialectic process is strong in the new paradigm churches as they move from error to even deeper error, to a place where no light can be seen. Robert Schuller has written in his classic dialectic book Self-Esteem: The New Reformation: “Classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered,’ not ‘man-centered’” (p. 64.) “The Cross sanctifies the ego trip. For the Cross protected our Lord’s perfect self-esteem from turning into sinful pride” (p. 75). “And what is hell?... A person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem” (p.14-15). McLaren and the rest of the “emergent rethink and rebuild” culture shapers are moved by the same concepts of Schuller, the similarities cannot be denied. As the old statement birds of a feather will flock together. Amos wrote 3:3 “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? The apostle John- 3 John 4: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

How can Hybels statement: “Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture” (empahsis mine). How can this be accomplished if they unite with those who are teaching a direction that goes away from the Scripture does not uphold absolute truth?

A motto of the emergent movement is to “rethink everything,” and replace it with “new insights” which is also a practice of the Hegalian dialectic used to reshape mass portions of the population. In his book “Everything Must Change,” thirty-four chapters end with “group dialogue questions.” Which is a advantageous way to introduce new unbiblical concepts or wrong practicies of these concepts to the readers.

For example McLaren states Jesus came to become the Savior of the world, to save the earth and everything it contains from the ongoing destruction caused by human evil (p. 79). Hardly the real meaning of salvation where Jesus said in john 3:16-19 he was sent so we would not perish, this is done by placing faith in him.

None of this has the real intent of getting back into the word but instead removes people from it. The emergent church promoters want us to rethink all of our beliefs. While in some areas this can be healthy, but what we are seeing emerge from them is not.

Brian McLaren: “The phrase “the Second Coming of Christ” never actually appears in the Bible. Whether or not the doctrine to which the phrase refers deserves re-thinking, a popular abuse of it certainly needs to be named and rejected. If we believe that Jesus came in peace the first time, but that wasn’t his “real” and decisive coming - it was just a kind of warm-up for the real thing - then we leave the door open to envisioning a second coming that will be characterized by violence, killing, domination, and eternal torture. This vision reflects a diversion, a return to trust in the power of Pilate, not the unarmed truth that stood before Pilate, refusing to fight...

If we remain charmed by this kind of eschatology, we will be forced to see the nonviolence of the Jesus of the Gospels as a kind of strategic fake-out, like a feigned retreat in war, to be followed up by a crushing blow of so-called redemptive violence in the end. The gentle Jesus of the first coming becomes a kind of trick Jesus, a fake-me-out Messiah, to be replaced by the true jihadist Jesus of a violent second coming.”

“This is why I believe that many of our current eschatologies, intoxicated by dubious interpretations of John’s Apocalypse are not only ignorant and wrong, but dangerous and immoral (p. 144 “Everything Must Change” Jesus, global crises and a revolution of hope ).

If one were to do a Bible study on John’s Apocalypse (the book of revelation) and the other prophets they would actually see the plain truth in the Scripture- judgment is coming. While I will not at this time go into depth and refute his opinion that changes the hundreds of Scriptures pertaining the second coming from the Old and New Testament, I will at least point out the Apostle Paul wrote of Jesus in this way: 1 Thess 4:15-17: “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

In the next chapter Paul continues (5:1-3) saying: “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Welcome to the shift that leaves out one of the most important events in Scripture besides the birth and death/ resurrection of our savior. Shift is a new age term used for many years, just as transformation is. There is a shift going on and it is from the New age infiltrating the church, only those who are strong in the word and discerning will be able to stand against the wind which is teaching people to improve the world and remove themselves from the belief of a second coming

This is a trend just like the trend before and the trend before that – except it is more dangerous. This is why the Bible says: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer” (2 Timothy 2:14-17).

1 Thessalonians 2:2-7: “For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness--God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others…”

The Bible is just as relevant today then when the warnings were written. Jude 12-15: “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

we should not be fellowshipping with those who hold to such blatant error.

For research purposes- Hawkins’ video clip - www.revealnow.com/story.asp?storyid=48

Hybels’ video- the 2007 Leadership Summit- www. http://revealnow.com/story.asp?storyid=31

Reference sources use Source: Lighthouse Trails

Gary Gilley's newsletter

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