I was sorta writing this in my head the other night as I was going to sleep, and my thoughts seemed to flow so well, but now, I’m at a complete loss over how to express what I’m trying to say. Plus, due to some research,I have more to say then I originally thought. Bear with me as I try to get my thoughts out, hopefully not too inarticulately. Here goes:
As a Reformed Christian, sometimes I am taken aback by what some of mainstream American Christianity believes today. I am so thankful that God directed me to a church and tradition with such a clear and Biblical theological system and such an accurate understanding of God’s grace. Having grown up in a rather legalistic non-denominational church, I didn’t receive much of an education when it came to theology. Sure, I was taught all the Bible stories kids learn, and I was introduced to God’s redemptive plan, but so much was lacking – most importantly, accurate teaching on God’s grace and our relationship to Him in light of that grace. I left that church knowing the basics of Christianity and burdened with guilt and frustration over my constant failings. I was fortunate at my next church to learn from a pastor who is himself reformed, though the denomination itself is not. It’s fascinating to look back and see God’s guiding hand as he finally led me to my current church home.
Given my own background and that of most of my family (both of my sets of grandparents, and therefore my own parents, attended the same church I grew up in), I guess I should not be surprised at some of the blatant falsehoods I see some family members falling for. Please understand that I do not say this with an air of superiority, just concern. I know that I do not have a clear handle on all theological issues myself – I have so very much to learn and truly grasp – but there are some things that without a doubt are contrary to scripture. There have been a few things lately from various relatives, that have made me go, “woah, what??” But this one really bothers me:
One of my cousins posted a message on her Facebook page from Dutch Sheets, whom I’d never heard of before, but apparently she attends, or has attended, his Freedom Church. Just looking at the website gives one pause as there is not even a statement of faith anywhere, at least not that I could find.
Here is the complete statement she posted regarding the outcome of the 2008 presidential elections. And here are a few excerpts:
Was what happened Tuesday God’s will? I am quite confident it was not.
Wow, so God’s not sovereign after all? Huh. I didn’t realize that we sinful human beings have such power to thwart God’s plans. How can this man be so arrogant as to believe that he knows God’s sovereign will? And worse than simply making such a statement, he is the leader of a large church, and is teaching this clearly unbiblical principle to his congregation and other followers. I understand that many Christians are disappointed in the outcome, but for a church leader to take such a view is to instill fear and doubt about God’s power and control in the hearts of those who look up to him – not to mention teaching downright lies.
There is such comfort to know the truth, to rest in the peace of knowing that God is completely in control, and we therefore have no reason to fear the future, no matter what.
Though I understand our reasons, we must be careful in our attempts to placate our feelings and calm our fears through religious phrases like “God is still on the throne” or “God has a plan”. He was on His throne 35 years and 50 million babies ago. And He had a plan back then. The problem is, it was us. I understand our reasons for waving high the banner of God’s sovereignty at times like these-it gives us hope. I will wave it, as well. But please be careful with this. Too much emphasis on God’s sovereignty and we’re worthless; too little and we’re hopeless.
It certainly doesn’t sound like he has any concept of God’s awesome power, majesty and perfection. In his mind, proclaiming God’s sovereignty is merely spouting “religious phrases,” in an attempt to make ourselves feel better and desperately grasp on to some sort of hope. Apparently, he believes that our free will can cause problems for God and can in fact alter His sovereign will. The real reason McCain (and more importantly, in his mind, Palin *more on that later*) lost was that Christians didn’t try hard enough and pray hard enough.
Like many, believing I had many promises and confirmations that God would “grace” us with a pro-life president in this election, I failed to consider strongly enough that all promises-even scripture-are conditional 99.9% of the time. Though I never prophesied or made guarantees that McCain-Palin would win, failing to factor this principle in strongly enough no doubt caused me to share my optimism with others inappropriately. If this caused any harm or confusion, I apologize.
Sure sounds like he prophesized, or at least his followers took it as prophecy, and now he’s backpedaling, trying to save face. Why do these people insist on making fools out of themselves by putting words in God’s mouth? It seems like so much emphasis is placed on trying to figure out God’s will – which is unknowable – instead of just trusting in Him and living our lives out as He has instructed us. I get the impression that an emotional and perhaps mystical experience is more desired than an accurate understanding of God’s Word.
I thought we had enough prayer. Obviously, God decided otherwise.
Sheets seems to view prayer as some sort of magic. As though, just getting enough people to pray that McCain would win, would make it so. God would have no choice but to acquiesce to man’s desires. And conversely, the fervent prayers of one man or a small group do not amount to enough for God to care.
I’ve been asked if my feelings about Sarah Palin have changed. They have not. I believe she is an Esther, a Deborah, with a huge mantle from God for reformation. God has a great destiny for her related to this nation if she chooses to continue down this path.
I’m guessing that some of the prophecy that he is backpedaling on has to do with Sarah Palin. He did make statements about her entering the White House and saying “as of Friday (when McCain’s selection was announced, I assume), the U.S. has come into a new level of alignment with the Lord and His purposes.” She has been called a Deborah and Esther by many in Charismatic/Pentecostal circles. There is something called the “Deborah Anointing” (sorry I couldn’t find a more concise definition) which they’re all convinced she has.
This leads me to something else. When I was researching Dutch Sheets and the movement he is involved with called The Third Wave or the New Apostolic Reformation, Sarah Palin’s name was popping up all over the results. I did not include her in any of the searches. She is just very closely tied with this movement, a movement that the Assemblies of God denounced as heresy back in 1949.
There are so many Christians so excited about Palin, but should this not give us pause? Sure, it’s great that she professes to be a Christian and seems very sincere in her faith, but what if a lot of her doctrinal beliefs are in such error that they negatively affect any national office she may hold in the future? I know, that probably sounds like crazy talk, but I am a little concerned after reading what I have about her religious connections.
I’ll admit that despite having some family who are longtime members of Charismatic churches, some of the doctrine makes me a bit uncomfortable, and I don’t agree with a whole lot beyond the very fundamentals of Christianity. I am not in any way calling into question their faith; I just see things very differently and believe that they are in error in some of their doctrine. There is certainly no denying they love Jesus. They are passionate and “on fire,” but I think sometimes they neglect doctrine for emotional experience.
This Third Wave thing is something entirely different though. This is subversive stuff, and it is apparently infiltrating the American Christian Church in a big way. This isn’t just about doctrinal differences. It is a complete undermining of Orthodox Christianity, and three of the four churches Palin attends are connected with it. (Link).
The Wasilla Assembly of God church (Palin’s church home for many years) is deeply involved with both Third Wave activities and theology. Their Master’s Commission program is part of an three year post-high school international training program with studies in prophecy, intercessory prayer, Biblical exegesis, authority and leadership. The pastor, Ed Kalnins, and Masters Commission students have traveled to South Carolina to participate in a “prophetic conference” at Morningstar Ministries, one of the major ministries of the Third Wave movement. Becky Fischer was a pastor at Morningstar prior to being featured in the movie “Jesus Camp.” The head of prophecy at Morningstar, Steve Thompson, is currently scheduled to do a prophecy seminar at the Wasilla Assembly of God. Other major leaders in the movement have also traveled to Wasilla to visit and speak at the church.
I’ll give you a rundown of some of the problems:
- A shift in the way that Christians think from a rationalistic view, to an approach where doctrine is developed using experiential approach.
- they hope to infiltrate all churches through their emphasis on unity above all else
- obsession with sensational experiences
- fantastic Signs and Wonders demonstrate the genuineness of their movement and must, they believe, accompany the proclamation of the gospel in our time.
- unbelievers must experience the miraculous in order to be brought to full faith. Merely preaching the gospel message, they believe, will never reach the world for Christ.
- The emphasis is on the Holy Spirit more than on Christ. The Holy Spirit is being invoked, prayed to, commanded, and pressed into people’s foreheads.
- believe in generational curses that must be broken by the current generation
- One of their leaders says that, To believe that the Scripture is the end of God’s revelation is a demonic doctrine. In order to fulfill God’s highest purpose for our lives, we must be able to hear His voice both in the written word and the word freshly spoken from heaven.
- They assign to the Church duties and rights that belong Scripturally only to Jesus.
- claim that Jesus cannot return until all His enemies have been put under the feet of the Church
- Instead of the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, their scheme of world restoration calls for the development of man’s social skills and knowledge, organizational ability, qualities of leadership, rhetoric and the ability to dominate adversaries.
- In an effort to strengthen the claims of the Church on earth, as a Kingdom and Authority to be obeyed, Dominionism has come close to replacing Lord Jesus with His Body.
- They believe there are three levels of spiritual warfare: the casting out of demons from individuals, “occult-level warfare” against “powers of darkness” (like New Age thought and Tibetan Buddhism), and “strategic-level warfare” against whole geographical areas thought to be controlled by Satan. They engage in a process called “Spiritual Mapping”, which is the practice of gathering information on patterns of belief and unbelief in cities and communities, and trying to gain territory for God.
- They believe God is raising up an army that will manifest all the supernatural power of the Old Testament and the New Testament combined. This power will be manifested to bring the entire world under the dominion of the Church (by any means necessary). The Church will then in turn hand it over to Jesus, who will hand it over to His Father. The great conquering army of supernatural saints is commonly referred to as Joel’s Army or the Manchild company.
- Roots in the Latter Rain Movement and is part of the holy laughter movement and things like the Toronto Blessing, Brownsville Revival and Lakeland Revival
And for your viewing pleasure – or perhaps horror – take a gander at one of Dutch Sheets’ youth services:
My concern regarding Palin is that this militant group views her as an important player in bringing about their apocalyptic beliefs, and she herself apparently believes these things. This belief that their particular branch of the church must seize control of government and other institutions in order to establish the Kingdom of God on earth and hasten the end of the world, has big implications for our country and the world. If she comes to power and believes that it is her calling to set these things in motion, how can we expect her to deal with foreign nations and leaders who hold to beliefs that are at odds with her own. Will they all be seen as enemies who are standing in the way of God’s coming?
These people are training their young children to be warriors in “Joel’s Army.” They believe they will be the last generation and their purpose is to wage a holy war across the nations. The implication, from what I have read, is they will force conversion through violence, if necessary.
Regarding Joel’s Army, Rick Joyner, a leader in the Third Wave says in a sermon called “The Warrior Nation — The New Sound of the Church,” “As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel's Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces. In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc.”
John Wimber of Vineyard Churches, which is also part of the Third Wave movement says, “Those in this army will have His kind of power. … Anyone who wants to harm them must die.”
So…..reason to fear?
No. God is sovereign.
Reason for concern.
I think so. Concern for the minds and souls of the individuals involved in this movement and the Christian Church in general. And concern for the future of our country, should their movement infiltrate national office.