32) The Schizophrenic Church

Key Precept: You can’t trust the word of an unstable church.

Stepping stone on the path to eternal life: Put your trust in God’s unchanging word. 

When we research the history of the church, we find that from its earliest beginnings in Judaism there were breakaway cults.

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospelWhich is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ….O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh…? after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again…to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years….Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am…As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to_____; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7, 3:1-3, 4:9-12, 6:12)

One of the earliest false doctrines was constraining the Gentile converts to be circumcised. This has been replaced by a host of dogmas that have been used to divert would-be followers of Jesus Christ off the straight and narrow path. Fill in the blank. Like “Just drink the Kool-Aid.”

Regardless of the differences in false doctrines, there is one single common denominator that underlies every one of the false doctrines, every time. It is defined in this passage as refusing to be like Paul by suffering persecution for the cross of Christ.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

“there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up…Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:19-22)

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of ChristWhose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 3:17-20)

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers…despisers of those that are good…Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, Persecutions, afflictions…what persecutions I enduredYea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of,

  • knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
  • And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
  • All scripture [Old and New] is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

The holy scriptures are the only standard for determining truth. Every cult leader can be recognized by comparing his / her message against the gold standard.

“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called…Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares…ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear…These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ…building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life…him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 1)

Jesus Christ himself validated the Old Testament scriptures for his followers.  See the post Everything Old Is New Again for details. The holiness of the New Testament writings – i.e. their validity as being God’s own words – is based on the expert witness credibility of the writers. In particular, their witness of of the turning point in human history. When Jesus Christ was raised from the dead it was evidence of God’s satisfaction of his sacrifice for sin, and proof that whoever identifies with Christ will also be raised from death to spiritual life, both now and forever.

“of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs…Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:1-3, 21-22)

The canons [writings accepted as accurate and authoritative] of modern history differ significantly from those of ancient history. Like modern historians, ancient historians, too, utilized sources in order to construct a narrative account that was faithful to the event or series of events under consideration. Unlike modern historians, however, [but exactly like judges in a courtroom] ancient historians often favored oral sources over written ones…information obtained directly through person-to-person communication was considered more trustworthy than that obtained from a written source…

at least one reason is worth mentioning…People in antiquity had few ways to record any given moment at the point when it occurred…reporting who said what, when and to whom would be a difficult thing to do accurately without the benefits of modern technology. (Paul Was Not A Christian : The Original Message of a Misunderstood Apostle, by Pamela Eisenbaum)

We must acknowledge that the eyewitness testimony of the 12+ apostles of Jesus Christ who corroborated each other’s accounts provide an unparalleled historical body of evidence for religious truth. The chain of custody and credentials of the expert witnesses giving testimony outweighs any other claimant to truth. For example, Muhammed and Joseph Smith are the sole witnesses to their revelations, which come from an angel of God, not God himself. The witness factor alone should make any truth seeker choose the biblical authors over their versions of God’s message.

I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For WE have not followed cunningly devised fables, when WE made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majestyFor he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven WE heard, when WE were with him in the holy mount. WE have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts [the resurrection of believers]Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy MEN of God spake as THEY were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (I Peter 1:15-21)

Paul was a Pharisee, a devout fundamentalist who scrupulously rejected anything that went against the written word of God. As detailed in the post Pick a Side, Paul’s writings are commentaries on the writings of the Old Testament prophets, proving the validity of everything he taught about the revelation of God through Jesus the Christ. His conversion to faith in Jesus as the Christ / Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament was not the result of a vision that could be attributed to a psychotic disorder. Paul’s meeting with the risen Jesus was the same proof given to the other apostles. None of the apostles put their faith in Jesus until proof of life was provided after death, as per scripture.

Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself…And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” (Luke 24:20-39)

Paul’s belated conversion to faith in Jesus, and his repellent ministry to include uncircumcised Gentiles into the fellowship with circumcised Jews, put him in an awkward position having to justify his apostleship throughout his ministry.

Am I am not an apostle?…have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 9:1-2)

The seal / proof / guarantee of Paul’s apostleship was his unswerving commitment to the revelation of Jesus Christ propagated through his converts.

“There was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision…He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake…And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost…And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God…proving that this is very Christ.” (Acts 9:10-22)

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once…After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also.” (I Corinthians 15:1-8)

As the author of the vast majority of the letters to the churches, Paul rightly exhorts members of the body of Christ to follow his lead. Those who merge their identity in YHVH’s Savior’s death and resurrection to spiritual life have the same purpose in this life – to bear personal witness of transformation using the eternal truth in scripture regarding freedom from sin’s destruction in this life and resurrection to eternal life to come.

Trust me, even as a secular psychiatric provider I can assure you that people do not like hearing that they, themselves – not society or their partner or their mother – are responsible for their misery, and that they themselves need to change in order to fix their problems.

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know [identify with] not him that sent me.” (John 15:18-21)

Wouldn’t you think it would be easy to spot the false teachers in Christianity? 

  1. Anyone who doesn’t conform to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the whole Bible.
  2. Anyone who isn’t being persecuted by the ungodly.

The problem is that followers

  1. don’t know enough Bible to realize that its policies and practices aren’t being followed,
  2. and either misinterpret problems of their own creation as persecution, or eagerly accept a persecution-free paradigm.

The Zealots are one example of a shady cult founded on supposedly biblical beliefs. 

Zealots were one of several New Testament period Jewish political movements. The Historian Josephus states, regarding this fourth of four major sects that existed in the first century A.D. (the others in the Bible being Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes)…

Judas the Galilean…”Led the rebellion in the days of the taxing . . . These ‘Gaulonites’ (Flavius Josephus also refers to this Judas as ‘Judas a Gaulonite’) were precursors of the Zealots . . .”a sect of Jews which originated with Judas the Gaulonite…”

This group were defenders of the Law (Torah) and of the national life of the Jewish people. They opposed the Roman occupation of Israel. Their purpose was to incite people into rebelling against the Roman Empire and expelling it from Palestine by force. They refused to pay tribute to the Romans because they felt it was a violation of the principle that God was the only king of Israel. 

“a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people”, was such a highly distinguished rabbi and teacher of the law at Jerusalem, that Paul used his association with him to prove his sterling Jewish credentials.

“I am verily…a Jew…brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” (Acts 22:3)

We can take Gamaliel’s opinion of the zealous followers of Yeshua of Nazareth as a valuable perspective of the latest cult to spring up in Jerusalem. He thought they were probably just another gang of Zealots who would be smacked down by Rome, and warned the Jewish government in Jerusalem to distance themselves from them.

“before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.” (Acts 5:36-37)

Peter and the other apostles were very well aware of their countrymen’s opinions of their potential to foment revolution in the name of the Jewish Messiah – both in favor by those for, and opposed by those against, the prospect of revolution. And that drew a lot of attention, both good and bad, but mostly bad.

  • If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
  • BUT let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.

YET IF any man suffer [for those political activities] as a Christ-ian [a political allegiance in opposition to Caesar]...the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God:” (I Peter 4:14-17)

 See the post Your First Love for further details on the biblical meaning of “Christian” as a political party, first coined prior to Paul’s outreach to Gentiles, and solidified under Constantine in the 4th century. 

Remember, in ancient times, every government was a theocracy – not just Israel under YHVH. After the Zealots were crushed by Rome in 70 and again in 130, and Gentiles outnumbered Jews in the developing church, it became easier and easier to amalgamate Christianity into the existing Roman political structure.

But the truth according to God’s word is that it is not possible to combine the two.

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:

  • for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
  • and what communion hath light with darkness?
  • And what concord hath Christ with Belial?
  • or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
  • And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (II Corinthians 6:14-18)

Biblically based faith in action and human philosophical regulations – whether political, religious, educational or psychological – are two very different forces with contradictory sources and objectives which don’t mix. True followers of Jesus Christ maintain biblical truth in their life choices.

“Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?…Thine own…chief priests [rulers of the theocracy of Israel] have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight…To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?” (John 18:33-38)

The apostles absolutely eliminated the church of God mixing it up with government, either collaborating with or rebelling against the government. This means the Roman emperor of their day and the King of England during the American colonial era.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims…Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme [Roman emperor no less]; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him…Honour the king.” (I Peter 2:11-17)

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation…For for this cause pay ye tribute / taxes, as in the Tea Tax also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7)

Submission to government authority means accepting the consequences of refusing to obey unjust laws. This has its roots in Daniel’s prophesies of the last days, where God grants authority to world empires to chasten his people.

“Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom…and another third kingdom…which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron.” (Daniel 2:37-40)

A severe breakdown in Christianity occurs from trying to straddle the schizm, the unbridgeable gap, between true and false. In medical terms this is called Schizophrenia.

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Wow! That’s harsh! But is it diagnostically accurate? Let’s conduct a psychiatric assessment.

friend-or-foe-sceneInappropriate or bizarre affect: The affect is the facial expression that tells the observer how the individual being observed feels about or wants to be perceived in his relationship or interaction with the observer. Does he project the expression of being friendly or unfriendly, peaceful or suspicious? Observed affects that don’t match up with reported inner world are described as incongruent.

What face does Christianity present to observers?

A pagan temple! Even in poverty-stricken and remote West Virginia! And the Pantheon – temple to all the gods, in Rome, no less! That is most certainly incongruent with the reported inner world of the biblical monotheistic God.

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                                                                                                      In 609 the Pantheon was the first Roman pagan temple to be consecrated as a Christian church. Doesn’t that tell us something about how inappropriate this was in the first half-century after Christ started building his church? And sure enough, call me a conspiracy theorist, but the conversion guaranteed the Pantheon’s survival, as the papacy now repaired and maintained it over the centuries when otherwise the natural course of events would have deteriorated and demolished it.

Ambivalence: Holding opposing opinions at the same time. We can see how this is the inner world of the outer incongruent affect. The opposing opinions are, of course, claiming the Bible as the authority while living according to anti-biblical beliefs and precepts.

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats…If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables.” (I Timothy 4:1-7)

“to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (I Corinthians 7:1-5)

The Shakers were founded in 1770…notable for their shaking as they danced and spoke in tongues. Inspired by this community, Ann Lee began to have visions of God, who told her that sexual intercourse was the root of all sin, thereby demanding celibacy of “true” followers…she was thought to be the second appearance of Christ on earth.

Associative Looseness: Confused and illogical thinking. This, again, logically flows from ambivalence, as no sound reasoning can derive from a starting point of contradictory opinions such as “no interpretation of scripture is of private interpretation” and following a leader who reports private interpretations of scripture never promoted by the apostles, or “For God so loved the world” and racism.

The theological foundations for both racial understanding and the purging of prejudices include humans being created in the image of God (Gen. 1), and Christ’s call to “make disciples of all the nations (peoples)” (Matthew 28:19-20).  Human dignity and the call to bring diverse peoples into the unity of Christ’s Body preclude racism in all its expressions.

British Israelism (also called Anglo-Israelism) is a pseudoarchaeological belief that the people of the British Isles are “genetically, racially, and linguistically the direct descendants” of the Ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel… Numerous British Israelite organisations were set up throughout the British Empire as well as in the United States from the 1870s onwards; a number of these organisations are independently active as of the early 21st century. In America, the idea gave rise to the Christian Identity movement…which advocates the belief that only Celtic and Germanic peoples, such as the Anglo-Saxon, Nordic nations, and/or Aryan people and people of kindred blood are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and are therefore the descendants of the ancient Israelites.…Europeans as the “chosen people” and Jews as the cursed offspring of Cain, the “serpent hybrid” or serpent seed (a belief which is known as the two-seedline doctrine). White supremacist sects and gangs later adopted many of these teachings.

Christian Identity promotes the idea that all non-whites (people who are not of wholly European descent) will either be exterminated or enslaved in order to serve the white race in the new Heavenly Kingdom on Earth under the reign of Jesus Christ. Its doctrine states that only “Adamic” (white) people can achieve salvation and enter paradise. Many of its adherents are Millennialist.

Blending Nazi ideology and the Bible. Can the association of thoughts get any looser? 

Autism: Living in one’s own fantasy world. For Christians, that means withdrawing from society rather than suffering rejection and persecution from society.  If Christians are to be lights in a dark place as Christ commanded then they can’t limit their social contacts to one’s own church or church school, a religious commune, off-grid communities, or convents and monasteries.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil…Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” (John 17:14-18)

Christians are a reflection of the light of God. When we do not let God work through us then His light does not reach the world. Trying to keep God to ourselves is like hiding a light under a bowl. Do you let your light shine? Is your life a reflection of God’s glory?

Children meet people at home, school, church, sports, and more. Help them see how they can be lights for God.

“Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally.”

If we define “reality” for The Church as “God’s revealed word through the Bible”, then this definition of schizophrenia certainly applies. As detailed in this post, over time the reality / truth of the Bible was interpreted abnormally from the original beliefs and practices of The Church by people who composed Christianity.

The way people interpret reality abnormally in schizophrenia can be broken down into categories of thought, emotion and behavior. The specific examples are real, drawn from my professional experience working with patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, and schizoid personality disorder.

  • Delusions – false beliefs that go beyond misunderstandings of possible reality.
    • You think that you’re being personally harassed by powerful unseen forces. A man who believed he was personally threatened by Satan during the Cuban missile crisis for starting a church in southern Florida left the work and moved his family to the northern-most point of the U.S. he could arrange. As if Satan couldn’t reach him there, or that God couldn’t protect him in Florida. The illogical thought processes and simultaneous holding of contradictory beliefs are diagnostic features of schizophrenia.
    • Certain gestures or comments, often by important people on television, are secret messages directed to you. During breakfast a pastor would watch the direction in which birds approached a bird feeder to know God’s will for his door-to-door evangelizing that day. This stems from grandiosity – believing one is special, has special powers, and has a special relationship with powerful individuals. Strategizing full coverage visitation on a map is just so mundane, however efficient and practical.
    • You have exceptional abilities or foreknowledge of a major catastrophe. The many predictions of Christ’s soon return is the biggest example. One Baptist pastor pontificated that Christ would return by 1970, based on his interpretation of social upheaval in America in the late 1960’s, despite lack of biblical fulfillment of necessary events preceding Christ’s return. A spirit of fear and sense of powerlessness in dealing with social chaos and one’s own destiny to suffer for the name of Christ, which is not given by the Holy Spirit, drives the Dispensationalist hope / expectation of avoiding the last and greatest tribulation, in direct contradiction to the biblical hope / expectation of the resurrection.
  • Hallucinations. Experiences involving any of the five senses that the person with schizophrenia knows aren’t experienced by anyone else.
    • Hearing voices is the most common hallucination. These are invariably derogatory, unsettling, and directed towards harming self or others. Christians who are consumed with guilt or claim they hear the voice of God directing harm against others, in direct contravention to biblical commands to love one another and even your enemy, are having some form of auditory hallucinations, either spiritual or mental.
    • Visual hallucinations are the second-most common. Christians who claim visions from God that are contrary to the word of God are exhibiting schizophrenic traits.
  • Disorganized thinking inferred from disorganized speech, is most apparent in speaking in tongues, which is not biblically approved in a congregational setting.
    • Effective communication is impaired.
    • Answers may be partially or completely unrelated to the question.
    • Neologisms are new words invented by an individual from his confused inner world or superimposed by a spirit that has been given control of thought processes.
  • Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behavior which isn’t goal-oriented or productive. These manifestations were most apparent in the Middle Ages:
    • Inappropriate or bizarre posture such as the stylites.
    • A complete lack of response such as hermits who, often given as a child to the Church, would live in solitary confinement in a specially built bricked-up room in the wall of a church with only a small opening allowing them to receive food and send out waste. 
    • Useless and excessive movement. In July 1374 a craze of dancing affected thousands of men and women in Western Europe. Groups of dancers would spontaneously coalesce, dancing for hours in wild delirium, oblivious to their surroundings, shrieking, screaming, and raving in madness of visions reflecting the religious notions of the age in ‘aberration of mind, and disgusting distortions of body.’ This is just one of a multitude of examples throughout the Middle Ages and Reformation.
      • The Azusa Street Revivaltook place in Los Angeles, California…began on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915…William Seymour, the son of freed slaves…preached that speaking in tongues was the first biblical evidence of the infilling in the Holy Spirit. Seymour and seven men were waiting on God… “when suddenly, as though hit by a bolt of lightning, they were knocked from their chairs to the floor,” and began to speak in tongues. The news quickly spread…crowds gathered…and were full of people speaking in tongues, shouting, singing and moaning.It took two more months and praying all night long before Seymour himself spoke in tongues for the first time. Does that mean that his previous preaching was not Spirit-inspired? The revival was characterized In a skeptical front-page story in the Los Angeles Times titled “Weird Babel of Tongues”: “Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand, the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles”. Another local paper reporter described the happenings with the following words:

        they cry and make howling noises all day and into the night. They run, jump, shake all over, shout to the top of their voice, spin around in circles, fall out on the sawdust blanketed floor jerking, kicking and rolling all over it. Some of them pass out and do not move for hours as though they were dead. These people appear to be mad, mentally deranged or under a spell. They claim to be filled with the spirit… They repeatedly sing the same song, “The Comforter Has Come.”

        Christians from many traditions were critical, saying the movement was hyper-emotional, misused Scripture and lost focus on Christ by overemphasizing the Holy Spirit. Today, the revival is considered the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.

  • Negative symptoms, in contrast to positive or productive activities.
    • Neglect personal hygiene
    • Lacking emotional expression by a “flat” unchanging facial expression, speaking in a monotone, failing to make eye contact.
    • Social withdrawal.
    • Loss of interest in everyday activities through loss of ability to experience pleasure or satisfaction.
      • They [at the Azusa Street Church] have a one eyed, illiterate, Negro as their preacher who stays on his knees much of the time with his head hidden between the wooden milk crates. He doesn’t talk very much but at times he can be heard shouting, “Repent,” and he’s supposed to be running the thing.

These behaviors are not found in any of the documented acts and teachings of the apostolic founders of the biblical faith in Jesus Christ. So where do they come from?

New Revelations

Anyone who claims the Bible as an authority, then reinterprets or contradicts any part of the Bible, immediately disqualifies him/herself as an messenger from God. By elevating his/her experiential information above that of the eyewitnesses of the Christ who all remained consistent with previous messages from God’s prophets, they betray their perverted gospel.

“there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Paul in his letter to the Galatians 1:7-12)

When we compare against biblical statements, it is easy to recognize the false claims of biblical authority made by later writers, most especially within Christianity. Emphases added in the following quotes.

While acknowledging that “the New Testament contains no explicit record of a transmission of Peter’s leadership; nor…the transmission of apostolic authority in general…it considers that its doctrine has a developmental history and that its teaching about matters such as the Trinity, the divinity of Christ…developed as the result of drawing out from the original revealed truth consequences that were not obvious…the doctrine of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, in the form in which it is upheld today in the Catholic Church, developed over the course of centuries, often in reaction to challenges made against exercises of authority by popesThe event that is often considered to have been the first conflict…was promulgated in the First Council of Constantinople (381) canon 3 which decreed…”Constantinople is New Rome.”…The increasing involvement of Eastern emperors in church matters…led successive bishops of Rome to attempt a sharper definition of their ecclesial position vis-a-vis the other bishops.The first documented use of the description of Saint Peter as first bishop of Rome, rather than as the apostle who commissioned its first bishop, dates from 354…From the time of Pope Damasus, the text of Matthew 16:18 (“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my church”) is used to support Roman primacy. Pope Innocent I (401–417)…wrote: “All must preserve that [authority] which Peter the prince of the apostles delivered to the church at Rome…

Muslims believe that the Quran was orally revealed by God [in the 600’s AD] to the final prophet, Muhammad, through the archangel Gabriel (Jibril), incrementally over a period of some 23 years…Muslims regard the Quran as…the culmination of a series of divine messages starting with those revealed to Adam, including the Tawrah (Torah)…and the Injil (“Gospel”)…Muhammad…did not know how to write…after the prophet’s death, the Quran was compiled by the companions, who had written down or memorized parts of it. Caliph Uthman established a standard version…There are, however, variant readings…Regarding the claim of divine origin, critics refer to preexisting sources, not only taken from the Bible…but also from heretic, apocryphal and talmudic sources…rejection of Crucifixion of Jesus in the Quran…Abrogation (Naskh) is…acknowledgment of contradicting Quranic verses…The Quran attributes its relationship with former books…to their unique origin, saying all of them have been revealed by the one God…[but] argue that the current Torah has suffered corruption over the years, and is no longer reliable…The Injil was the holy book revealed to Jesus (Isa)…as as the word of Allah…The current canonical Gospels… are not divinely revealed…neither represent nor contain the original Gospel from Allah, which has been corrupted and/or lost.

Basing one’s faith on the perennially unpopular Bible, living out the “good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” and associating ourselves with the unsociable and perpetually disenfranchised Jews has never been easy. There have always been easier paths to follow, either to fall in line with socially acceptable standards or to isolate from interaction with, therefore influence on, an ungodly world. New revelations usually come during times of great social upheaval with attacks on biblical faith and “men’s hearts failing them for fear“.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” (II Timothy 1:7-8)

I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified..That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God...For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God…which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual [this can be nothing else but comparing spiritual teachings with the scriptures]. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of ChristKnow ye not that…the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?…If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God…The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are your’s; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (I Corinthians 2-3)

“brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that

  • Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
  • And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
  • And that he was seen of Cephas…of the twelve…of above five hundred brethren at once…of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also…

why stand we in jeopardy every hour..? I die daily [because I preach this gospel]Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not.” (I Corinthians 15)

Awakening Or Falling Deeper and Deeper Into Sleep?

To understand what is taking place today, we need to understand the nature of the recurring political-religious cycles called “Great Awakenings.” Each lasting about 100 years, Great Awakenings consist of three phases, each about a generation long.

  1. Technological advances outpace the existing ethical capacity to cope.
  2. Religious revival brings changes in church beliefs and practice.
  3. Political reform is effected by a coalition of church and state through shared commitment to improve society.

Whoa! Hold up! A coalition of church and state? Wake up people! Has Christianity turned Republican America into theocracy just like its predecessor Republican Rome? 

Let’s follow the trail of evidence.

The Roman concept of religion had never been that of an…exclusive obligatory moral loyalty to an unseen and highly spiritual Being.

The native official religion…was a part of the state system, and its administration a part of the administration of the state. The citizens and subjects of Rome were all naturally regarded in a technical sense as adherents of its religion as much as of the rest of its political system…the Roman mind was quite incapable of conceiving that any purely religious cult could reasonably exist that demanded exclusive spiritual loyalty to itself alone from its devotees. Hence Roman law and custom regarded the adherents of all these other religions as special groups of citizens or subjects organized into voluntary associations or clubs for their own purposes, not inconsistent with their proper civic loyalty. To cite a modern though not very precise parallel, they were, from the official Roman standpoint, like special religious confraternities in the Christian Church of today. Such voluntary associations were therefore usually permitted.

But isn’t the concept of a coalition of church and state prohibited in the First Amendment?

One might think. But notice the dialectic that occurs in each of the Awakenings, according to Hegel’s definition of dialect:

the way in which two very different forces or factors work together, and the way in which their differences are resolved.” 

Conspiracy theorists apply Hegel’s philosophy as an instrument of social control used by a shadowy cabal bent on implementing a New World Order.

The theory goes like so: (Step 1) dark forces contrive a crisis, (Step 2) which…instils fear in the public…(Step 3) a solution to restore public order [through] New laws and policies…are enacted [which] covertly serve the purpose that the dark forces wanted all along: the enslavement of humanity. This is a form of mass mind control that shepherds an oblivious public towards tyranny and oppression.

An extremely popular…reading states that Hegel’s dialectic is a way of understanding the world through…the triad of thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Something happens (a thesis), which provokes a response (an antithesis); both ideas are then melded together (a synthesis)…[also called] “problem, reaction, solution…” 

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Antithesis

For Hegel, the phenomenon of things becoming their own opposite permeates the world. [Emphases added here and below.] It even finds its way into popular sayings, like pride comes before a fall; someone is in a great position but then suddenly finds themselves in a terrible one. We see it in Greek tragedy, too: Antigone champions family over the state and Creon champions the state over family. Their extreme positions lead to conflict, and then inevitably to (an already fated) catastrophe.

“Both have a good position to defend, the family or the state,” says Houlgate. “But they go wrong and violate one another’s rights. And they do violence to themselves. They promote the right thing, but in such a one-sided way that it ends up turning into the wrong.”

Synthesis

Thinking in a Hegelian manner can help us better understand the…angry, bewildered people who buy into conspiracy theories. In his analysis of civil society, Hegel notes how societies that are geared towards maximising wealth leave masses of people impoverished and alienated. 

“If you listen to some of the Trump supporters… they articulated a sense of being left behind. No one cares about us. That strikes me as being a kind of alienation,” says Houlgate. “If you build into this a sense of resentment and unfulfilled entitlement – would that explain why people lose trust in standard news outlets and things?…I think Hegel might ask us to think about the self-contradictory elements in the society we’ve produced.” [Emphasis added.]

We can ask dialectical questions. Why has civil society, whose purpose is to secure the welfare and rights of its participants, produced subjects who feel so abandoned? How has the internet, which offers the full breadth and scope of human knowledge at our fingertips, resulted in such ignorance? When did Hegel, a philosopher who historicised humanity’s understanding of the character of freedom, become the purveyor of a theory that posits mankind is doomed to enslavement?

If we’re lucky we might produce a synthesis, and a greater understanding of how the world both does and doesn’t work.

So how is the schizm between church and state resolved in a Hegelian dialectic? Let’s examine the dialectics of the Great Awakening cycles and consider if a shadowy Adversary set up the church, or if internal failings within the church caused it to fall under the control of government.

The following review of the cycles of religious revivals focuses on America, but the Awakenings also occurred in Europe.

The First Great Awakening 1730-1830

Problem: The Enlightenment emerged out of Renaissance humanism, the Scientific Revolution and the work of Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, culminating in the 1789 outbreak of the French Revolution. Philosophers and scientists of the period widely circulated their ideas through meetings especially at Masonic lodges, and through mass publications made possible with the printing press, Emphasizing the replacement of religious orthodoxy, the  Enlightenment broadcast new ideas of the sovereignty of reason and primacy of the the scientific method through the evidence of the senses as the source of knowledge instead of religious revelation, the priority of the pursuit of happiness over religious duty, and new ideals of  liberty, progress, constitutional government, and separation of church and state. The Enlightenment was converting many people to atheism, Deism, Unitarianism and Universalism

Reaction: Revival services placing an emphasis on sinners personally experiencing God’s love and forgiveness through sensing outpourings of the Holy Spirit held across denomination lines produced an evangelical Protestantism. Individual choice replaced the traditional Calvinist doctrine of God’s sovereignty expressed in predestination. Emotional expression of the Holy Spirit encouraged visions and mystical experiences. Critics called this enthusiasm while accusing the revivals of fostering disorder, fanaticism and heresy by enabling uneducated, itinerant preachers to build churches. The loosened denominational boundaries helped forge a common evangelical identity which became a political force. 

Solution: The American Revolution supported by churches as a consequence of the widespread adoption of egalitarianism vs predestination, the priority of the pursuit of happiness over religious duty, and the new ideals of liberty, progress, constitutional government, and separation of church and state. The new American nation was modeled on the Roman Republic (Fourth Empire) and designed, not by Christians, but by Enlightenment Deists and Freemasons such as George Washington, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones, and the Marquis de Lafayette.

The Freemasons were a fraternal society that advocated Enlightenment principles of inquiry and tolerance… Masonic lodges (local units) soon spread throughout Europe and the British colonies. One prominent Freemason, Benjamin Franklin, stands as the embodiment of the Enlightenment in British America.

In recent years, we have been told by a variety of conservatives that America’s founding fathers established the country under Christian doctrine—that we are a “Christian nation” and should operate accordingly.

This notion…is both foolish and wrong…

only one of the 56 founding fathers was a member of the clergy…James Madison objected to chaplains opening the proceedings of Congress with prayer…Many of the founding fathers—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and Monroe…[were] Deists [who] believe in a supreme being who created the universe to operate solely by natural laws—and after creation, is absent from the world…

A treaty of peace and friendship between the United States and Tripoli that was approved by George Washington explicitly stated: “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…”

[Enlightenment Philosopher Francis] Bacon promoted colonization of the New Worldto found a new and better world…driven by dissatisfaction with the Divine Right of Kings, taxation without representation, and…religious intolerance. As part of new reformation, Bacon wrote the charter for the Virginia Colony. Both The Tempest and Bacon’s New Atlantis are allegorical descriptions of an ideal way of life. The American Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence exactly 150 years after Francis Bacon’s death. Bacon’s vision of a better world was cherished by Thomas Jefferson, who considered Bacon one of the three greatest thinkers of modern times. In a sense, Bacon can be seen as the Godfather to the Founding Fathers.

Unknown to most people, Sir Francis Bacon has been one of the most influential people in western society since Jesus Christ. Few people are aware of the full story of  Francis Bacon or why it has been  hidden for so long by those who have written our history…

he was the father of modern science because he introduced research through recorded trial and error.

He was the editor in chief for the King James Bible…

he was perhaps the greatest politician who ever lived having represented 3 seats in the House of Commons plus a Member of the House of Lords all concurrently…

 He created a new religion combining Jesus, Horus and Lucifer under the banners of Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry.

See the post The Fourth Kingdom for details on the pagan roots of of the American Republic.

Can we not see how Christianity’s reaction to the ideals of the Enlightenment played right into the Deist and Freemason founders of America? Was this Hegelian dialectic 

  1. a conspiracy setup by dark forces
  2. or an intrinsic flaw in Christianity itself?

Based on Jesus Christ’s statement that “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18), we have to conclude that the Christian churches whose revivals assisted in the American Revolution were not part of the church of Christ.

During the Revolutionary era, the pulpit played a key role in encouraging dissent. The political activism of these black-robed ministers earned them the name “the black regiment…”At the bottom of the original Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress ordered copies of the Declaration first be sent not to town clerks or newspapers but to parish ministers, who were “required to read the same to their respective congregations, as soon as divine service is ended, in the afternoon, on the first Lord’s day after they have received it.” 

Second Great Awakening 1800-1920

editorial_cartoon_depicting_charles_darwin_as_an_ape_28187129Problem: Darwinism in both individual and social “survival of the fittest” in opposition to Postmillennialist belief that Christ will return to earth after either a literal 1,000 years or a figurative “long period” of peace and happiness which Christians had a duty to bring about.

Reaction: Centered in a region of western New York by Charles Finney, a leading revivalist active in the area. The religious events in Western New York had a unique and lasting impact upon the religious and social life of the entire nation. New religious movements sprang up.

[Joseph] Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement…in the late 1820s as he was dictating the Book of Mormon, which he said was a translation of words found on a set of golden plates that had been buried near his home in Upstate New York by an indigenous American prophet…After the translation was complete, Smith said that he returned the plates to the angel Moroni; thus they could never be examined. Latter Day Saints believe the account of the golden plates as a matter of faith, 

William Miller was an American Baptist preacher[in the same time frame and geographical area as Joseph Smith]. Basing his calculations principally on Daniel 8:14: “Unto 2,300 days then shall the sanctuary be cleansed”, Miller assumed that the cleansing of the sanctuary represented the Earth’s purification by fire…at Christ’s Second Coming. Then…Miller (and others) interpreted a day in prophecy to read… as a calendar year…Simple calculation then revealed that this period would end in 1843…“From first to last the power of the press, in this particular form, was one of the foremost factors in the success of this now vigorous, expanding movement.”…Millerite papers were published in numerous cities…March 21, 1844 passed without incident…resulted in the brief adoption of a new date—April 18, 1844….Again…date was determined to be October 22, 1844…ended like any other day to the disappointment of the Millerites…In the confusion that followed the Great Disappointment it seemed that almost every Millerite had an opinion—all of them different…Much of the responsibility for this proliferation of viewpoints must be shouldered by Miller, whose Rules of Biblical Interpretation outlined a method of biblical study that encouraged each person to read the Bible and to “do theology” for themselves…By mid-1845, doctrinal lines amongst the various Millerite groups began to solidify, emphasizing…sect building.”

  • The first major division of the Millerite groups who had not completely given up their belief in Christ’s Second Advent were those who accepted a shut-door theologyto October 22, 1844, teaching that…Christ came spiritually as the Bridegroom, the wise virgins had entered into the wedding feast, and the door was then shut on all others.This first group is commonly known as… “spiritualizer” group.
  • the second post-‘Great Disappointment’ group…the Advent Christian Church…its narrowing of beliefs was unacceptable to many. Millerism had been founded on Miller’s open, non-restrictive approach to Bible study–“It was the freedom to discover new truths that had drawn so many Christians and Freewill Baptists to the movement. The new restrictive definitions…was unacceptable to many who had joined the movement.”
  • The third major post-disappointment Millerite group also claimed…that the October 22 date was correct. Rather than Christ returning invisibly however, they came to view the event that took place on October 22, 1844 as having been quite different…the day after the Great Disappointment“Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our High Priest coming…to come to this earth…at the end of the 2300 days, that He…had a work to perform in the Most Holy before coming to this earth in His Second Coming “the sanctuary to be cleansed in Daniel 8:14 was not the earth or the church, but the sanctuary in heaven.”…This is the basis for the later Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of the Investigative Judgement. It is out of this third Millerite group that the Seventh-day Adventist Church [was birthed].
  • Charles Taze Russell…founder of what is now known as the Bible Student movement…co-founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society…From 1886 to 1904, he published a six-volume Bible study series…Studies in the Scripturesstressing the imminence of the rapture…When 1878 arrived, failure of the expected rapture brought great disappointment [and proof that he was a false prophet, nonetheless]…In 1881, Russell founded Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Societyby 1909, Russell’s writings had become the most widely distributed, privately produced English-language works in the United States…the entire corpus of his works were the third most circulated on earth, after the Bible and the Chinese Almanacin North America Russell’s writings had achieved a greater circulation “than the combined circulation of the writings of all the priests and preachers in North America.“… Russell agreed with other Protestants on the primacy of the Bible, and justification by faith alone, but thought that errors had been introduced in interpretation. 
    • Russell…taught that the Holy Spirit is not a person, but the manifestation of God’s power.
    • Russell believed that Christ had returned invisibly in October 1874,
    • After the outbreak of World War I, Russell reinterpreted 1914 as the beginning of Armageddon.
    • Russell believed that the Great Pyramid of Giza was built by the Hebrews…to be understood only in our day…Calculations were made using the pattern of an inch per year…1874, 1914, and 1918 were purported to have been found through the study of this monument.
    • Christian Zionism…God’s favor had been restored to Jews…in 1878…teaching that Jews should not convert to Christianity. 

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is the largest of several Adventist groups which arose from the Millerite movement….Among its most prominent figures…Ellen G. Whitecame to occupy a particularly central role; her many visions and spiritual leadership convinced her fellow Adventists that she possessed the gift of prophecy…The church was formally established in 1863…turned to evangelism through missionary work and revivals…the teachings and writings of White, ultimately proved influential…Christianity Today recognized the Seventh-day Adventist church as ” the fifth-largest Christian communion worldwide” in its January 22, 2015 issue.

Jehovah’s Witnesses…emerged from the Bible Student movement founded in the late 1870s by Charles Taze Russell…Jehovah’s Witnesses…prefer to use their own Bible translation, the New World Translation of the Holy ScripturesThe organization has received criticism regarding biblical translation, doctrines, and alleged coercion of its members. The Watch Tower Society has made various unfulfilled predictions about major biblical events such as Christ’s Second Coming, the advent of God’s Kingdom, and Armageddon.

Spiritualism was also popular in Western New York during this period, with the Lily Dale community and the Fox Sisters playing a defining role in the movement’s development.

Racial discrimination led to segregation of Blacks from White churches.

Solution: The Civil War supported by churches. “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Evangelists often directly addressed issues such as slavery, greed, and poverty, laying the groundwork for abolition of slavery,  prohibition of alcohol, women’s rights and a multitude of other social issues. The common understanding of reform as being a part of God’s plan led to local churches seeing their role as purifying the world by participating in politics to effect changes in the law and the creation of institutions, further increasing the role religion played in American politics.

The Third Great Awakening 1890-1920

Problem: The Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants. Average income and population in the western world began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth for the first time in history. Rapid economic growth began to occur after 1870 in what has been called the Second Industrial Revolution due to the presence of an entrepreneurial class often linked to the Protestant work ethic. The Industrial revolution has been criticised for complete ecological collapse, causing mental illness, pollution, and turning humanity into slaves. Some studies state that over 95% of species have gone extinct and that the vast decrease in the biodiversity of life will lead to eventual mass starvation and collapse of society. 

Reaction: The marked difference in quality of life enjoyed by Western nations attributed to one’s own works crept into a new theology that poverty is not a personal failure (“the wages of sin”) but a societal failure that can be addressed by the state; a shift from preaching against personal to social sin; and a shift to more secular interpretation of the Bible and creed. The reaction to the growing awareness of an inevitable apocalyptic end to the world was met with either Postmillenialism, wherein the Church was responsible for cleaning up the mess humanity had made in order for Jesus Christ to return and take over, or Dispensationalism, wherein the Church escapes God’s judgment on humanity’s mistreatment of his earth through the Rapture.

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The Gilded Age plutocracy came under sharp attack from Social Gospel preachers and reformers, especially the battles involving child labor, compulsory elementary education, and the protection of women from exploitation in factories. With Jane Addams‘s Hull House in Chicago as its center, the settlement house movement and the vocation of social work were deeply influenced by the Social Gospel. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union mobilized Protestant women for social crusades against liquor, pornography and prostitution, and sparked the demand for women’s suffrage. The Salvation Army founded in England by William and Catherine Booth arrived in America. The promotion of “muscular Christianity” became popular among young men and in 1891 basketball was invented at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts.  

 Solution: “Falling Away” becomes the New Salvation.

Mary Baker Eddy’s Christian Science gained a national following. The Society for Ethical Culture was established in New York in 1876 by Felix Adler and attracted a Reform Jewish clientele. The New Thought movement expanded with Unity and Church of Divine Science. The Pentecostals preached “baptism in the spirit” to enable those gifted to heal the sick, perform miracles, prophesy, and speak in tongues, growing to an international presence in over 200 countries with a church membership of over 7 million Christians.

The liberalism of the socially-oriented denominations had a profound effect of the success and inroads of Dispensationalism.Churches had drifted away from the doctrinal roots expressed in the old confessions and creeds. This resulted in the independent church movement, the independent Bible conference movement and the Bible school movement. Those who participated in them were almost all carrying Scofield Bibles and their leaders were predominantly Dispensational in their view. 

the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible became more and more prominent in the preaching...[Despite “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Revelation 22:18)]

It is not just a difference in eschatology. It is the whole system of theology that touches every major doctrine of Christianity. What is at stake is the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and the sinner’s assurance that he is living according to God’s plan for history.

Belief in Christ’s personal return to set up his earthly kingdom—premillennialism—has always claimed adherents,but few people in the mid-1800s imagined it would attract more than a handful…

Given the embarrassing recent history of premillennialism in the United States (see the story of the Millerites…its revival was nothing less than amazing.

The new premillennialism came to the United States following the Civil War…John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), a former priest in the Anglican Church of Ireland…called it dispensationalism, after the division of history into dispensations or eras…”marked off in Scripture by some change in God’s method of dealing with mankind, in respect to two questions: of sin, and of man’s responsibility,” explained C. I. Scofield, who popularized Darby’s system in America…

What separated dispensationalists from everybody else was their novel method of biblical interpretation.

Dispensationalists claim to have a literal hermeneutic, taking prophecies in a simple, material sense… The problem with this approach is that it arrives at interpretations which are later contradicted by the New Testament… the best interpreter of scriptures is other scriptures…which allows the Author to foreshadow spiritual realities through physical means, and later interpret them in clear, didactic writing…

Dispensationalists’ presuppositions start with the inductive reasoning that biblical history has a particular discontinuity in the way God reacts to humanity…For dispensationalists, Israel is an ethnic nation consisting of Hebrews (Israelites) [and right there is a contradiction in literal interpretation of scripture], beginning with Abraham and continuing in existence to the present. The Church, on the other hand, consists of all saved individuals in this present dispensation—i.e., from the “birth of the Church” in Acts until the time of the rapture

Classical dispensationalists refer to the present-day Church as a “parenthesis” or temporary interlude in the progress of Israel’s prophesied history….Dispensationalists believe that Israel as a nation will embrace Jesus as their messiah toward the end of the Great Tribulation, right before the Second Coming

Darby…saw that prophecy required a future fulfillment and realization of Israel’s kingdom. The New Testament church was seen as a separate program not related to that kingdom. [See the post Your First Love for details on this racist paradigm.] Thus arose a prophetic earthly kingdom program for Israel and a separate “mystery” heavenly program for the church….

Then it is necessary for the church to be raptured away before prophecy can resume its earthly program for Israelhis eschatological doctrine [that the rapture can occur at any moment] became widely popular in the United States, especially among Baptists and Old School Presbyterians…Dispensationalism was adopted, modified, and made popular in the United States by the Scofield Reference Bible. It was introduced…to a small but influential circle of American evangelicalsdisturbed by the inroads of religious liberalism. Dispensationalism was introduced as a premillennial position, and it largely took over the fundamentalist movement…The American church denominations rejected Darby’s ecclesiology but accepted his eschatology

Most people don’t have the insight to try the spirits, or time for Bible study, or the knowledge base to compare scripture with scripture. Instead, in their panic and to their detriment they snatch at the most attractive salvation package being offered.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh [reference to the death and resurrection] is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world…We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us [reference to apostolic authoritative writings]; he that is not of God heareth [accepts] not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (I John 4:1-6)

This expands the warning given by the same author John at the end of Revelation to the entire internally validated book of the Bible.

“I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book…the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Revelation 22:18-21)

The Fourth / Current Great Awakening 1960 – ?

Problem: Corruption of big business and the right; labor reforms; civil rights and women’s rights movements; belief in equality of condition,i.e. that equality is to be achieved primarily by government programs aimed at raising wages and transferring income from rich to poor through income taxes and finance welfare programs; rise in belief that poverty is not a personal failure but a societal failure; expansion of secondary and higher education; attack on religious and racial barriers to equal opportunity leading to later attacks on gender-based assumptions of behavior and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Reaction: The “mainline” Protestant churches weakened sharply in both membership and influence while the most conservative religious denominations (such as the Southern Baptists and Missouri Synod Lutherans) grew rapidly in numbers, spread across the United States…and became politically powerful. Other evangelical and fundamentalist denominations also expanded rapidly…and the more conservative churches saw themselves battling secularism in terms of issues such as LGBT rights, abortion, and creationism.

Solution: Becoming more “relevant” in society by appealing to the self-indulgence of the Me Generation and eliminating requirements for holy living. This has happened 1) corporately by becoming a political action committee for White Anglo Saxon Protestants, and worse yet, 2) individually by expanding the emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus to the detriment of doctrine.

The Evangelical PAC.

I’m an evangelical, like about a quarter of the United States population. Evangelicals believe in the good news of the Gospel — that Jesus died on the cross, for our sins, and in our place — and we need to tell the world about that.

But that’s not what most people are talking about today…

Many evangelicals and leaders invested money, time and conviction toward the promise of making America great again.

And right there is the problem. How many passages are there regarding “my kingdom is not of this world” and the promise on which believers should be focusing?

before the great and notable day of the Lord come…it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved...hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it…God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:20-40)

In turn, Donald Trump made good on these investments from an evangelical perspective. Most evangelicals (me included) are grateful for the Supreme Court justices he appointed and for some of the religious liberty concerns he addressed. His anti-abortion stances surprised many (again, me included), and for that I was thankful.

Nevertheless, most of that is in jeopardy now because Trump is who many of us warned other evangelicals that he was.

He has burned down the Republican Party, emboldened white supremacists, mainstreamed conspiracy theorists and more.

Yet of greater concern for me is the trail of destruction he has left within the evangelical movement. Tempted by power and trapped within a culture war theology, too many evangelicals tied their fate to a man who embodied neither their faith nor their vision of political character…   

For years we’ve been talking about a coming evangelical reckoning. A flood of books, articles and conferences — many of which I wrote and participated in — have warned of the approaching storm clouds for the evangelical movement.

This reckoning is here…three reasons why we have arrived at this point:

First, far too many tolerated egregious behavior. The past half-decade has offered near daily examples of people co-opting the Gospel for sinful ends. Racism, nationalism, sexism and a host of other sins have found purchase within the evangelical movement in both overt and subtle expressions. Many have been able to dismiss these examples as outliers that did not truly represent the evangelical movement. We have long since exhausted this excuse.

As evangelicals, we have to stop saying this isn’t who we are. This is who we are; these are our besetting sins. However, this isn’t who we have to be.

Second, far too many failed to live up to their promise of speaking truth to power. During the 2016 election, and at many points since, many evangelicals justified their full-throated support by promising to be a check on Trump’s character. What has become apparent is that this promise was hollow…

Watergate figure, and later evangelical leader, Chuck Colson once said: “When I served under President Nixon, one of my jobs was to work with special-interest groups, including religious leaders. We would invite them to the White House, wine and dine them, take them on cruises aboard the presidential yacht. … Ironically, few were more easily impressed than religious leaders. The very people who should have been immune to the worldly pomp seemed most vulnerable.”

That was us.

Finally, all of us have failed to foster healthy political discipleship. The foundation of our reckoning was laid far before Trump. Committed to reaching the world, the evangelical movement has emphasized the evangelistic and pietistic elements of the mission. However, it has failed to connect this mission to justice and politics.

Ahhhh. See, still stuck in the middle, straddling two worlds of spirituality and secular government.

Even the best intentioned evangelism efforts are marked by a departure from the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Basically, the church got rid of the use of the Law about a hundred years ago, and it has been propagated by some preachers today. People got the idea that somehow we need to change the message in order to appeal to people today, but that is just a misunderstanding of the function of the Law...Christians are no longer under the penalty of the Law. We are under the covering of grace. But the same standards of the Ten Commandments still are the standards by which non-Christians will be judged on the Day of Judgment. On the Day of Judgment, God still hates lying. He says that liars and thieves and adulterers and blasphemers will be cast into the Lake of Fire…In order for thieves and liars to understand that that is what they are and that they need a Savior, they need to be confronted with the standards that God will judge them by on that day. And that is what Jesus did throughout the Scripture…

If you can remember four simple points, it will help you get from the beginning to the end of a conversation and lead you through witnessing to somebody. Who do you know that is not saved? Do you have a good friend who is not saved who you have been trying to witness to? It is easy to call them up on the phone and say, ‘Hey, how is it going? How is your family? How is your job? What is going on?’ That is simple. But you are thinking, Man, how do I talk about his or her salvation? That is the hardest part. One of the things that we suggest is bring up the movie The Passion of The Christ, and then use that as a springboard to say something like, ‘That movie never would have made sense to me if I didn’t understand how exactly I had sinned against God,’…What do you think about the Ten Commandments? That is a pretty high standard. Do you think that you have kept it…?’

Get into the conversation any way you want and then the four stepping stones are WDJD, which stands for What Did Jesus Do — not What Would He do, but look in the Bible and see What He did do:

W — Would you consider yourself to be a good person?
D — Do you think that you have kept the Commandments?
J — Judgment. If God judged you according to those Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty?
D — Destiny. So, do you think you would go to heaven or to hell?

The short version of “getting saved” takes God’s sovereign judgment out of the action, allowing humans to mouth a profession of faith and continue to live in sin. And its preachers can point to scripture to justify easy believism.

Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 

  1. Compare: For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
  2. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh…thou shalt be saved
    1. if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
    2. and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead.” (Romans 10:4-9)

But this passage is like an opening paragraph in a news reports. To get the full story we have to keep on reading the entire message to the Romans, or we can be misled.

This popular methodology and objective is selling fire insurance, but is it salvation from sin? Certainly not if the individual has not experienced the resurrected life through the Holy Spirit now.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 

  1. Compare: For what the law [of Moses] could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh,
  2. God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk [the walk and not just talk the talk] not after the flesh, but after the Spirit…

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, IF so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

IF the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God…And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

This passage, and many others, also disabuse the Jesus Movement‘s claim that the presence of the Holy Spirit is proved, not through the evidence of freedom from bondage to sin of all kinds, but through manifesting the gifts of the spirit. A frenzy of speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy, even spread to the ponderous institution of the Roman Catholic Church. 

And then there’s the ever popular prosperity gospel.

Hinn has been a leading proponent of prosperity gospel theology since the 1980s, teaching that God rewards active faith with health and wealth. But on September 2, during his 3-hour, 50-minute weekly broadcast, Hinn said he had changed.

“I am correcting my own theology and you need to all know it,” the televangelist told his studio audience and those watching online. “The blessings of God are not for sale. And miracles are not for sale. And prosperity is not for sale.”

Hinn said he now believes such give-to-get theology is offensive to God. He specifically repudiated the practice of asking for “seed money,” where televangelists tell people that God will bless them if they give a specific dollar amount. Hinn himself has done this numerous times, promising God will give material blessings in exchange for a gift of $1,000. On Monday, he said he wouldn’t do it anymore…

Some of the Christians who have watched him closest, however, viewed the apparent renunciation with skepticism…waiting for some evidence of his transformation…”we’ve been down this road before.”

Hinn rejected the prosperity gospel for the first time in the late 1980s and again in the early ’90s, and there were reports at the time that he had really changed. He went on to preach prosperity again…

He joined the Assemblies of God for a while, accepting the oversight of the Pentecostal denomination, but then separated and went back out on his own.

Hinn’s financial practices have also been investigated twice by the federal government. The US Senate launched an investigation of Hinn, along with Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, and Eddie Long in 2007. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), then chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was shocked by the lavish lifestyles of American prosperity preachers, and expressed concern the IRS wasn’t doing its job enforcing existing rules against excessive compensation for leaders of religious nonprofits.

Hinn, according to some estimates, was receiving tens of millions of dollars in donations every year…An exact figure is unknown. Hinn’s televangelist organization is registered as a church, so it doesn’t report any financial information to the IRS.

The Senate investigation faced sharp criticism from a number of evangelical groups, including James Dobson’s Alliance Defense Fund (now the Alliance Defending Freedom), the National Religious Broadcasters, and Christianity Today.

The investigation ended in 2011 with no definitive findings…Grassley’s office said the investigation was successful…because Hinn was “instituting reforms without waiting for the committee to complete its review…” 

It is not clear whether there was any self-reform, though. Hinn’s ministry is not accountable to any outside group.

Hinn’s ministry came under investigation again in 2017. The IRS raided the televangelist’s headquarters in Grapevine, Texas. The agents had a search warrant saying there was probable cause to believe they would find evidence of tax evasion and “general fraud against the government” in the ministry’s offices.

A spokesman for the IRS told CT that the agency cannot legally confirm or deny whether that investigation is ongoing.

Neither Hinn nor his spokesman could be reached for comment on Friday.

Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn, who has been very critical of his uncle and of the prosperity gospel, said the big, splashy “renunciation” does fit a pattern.

“Over the years, he has consistently conceded to enough of a report or an accusation to gain enough trust—as if he’s admitting to it—to gain control over the narrative. He always wants to control the narrative,” Costi Hinn said.

It’s also not clear how thorough this renunciation is…

“I still believe in prosperity,” Hinn said. “The message of prosperity is in the Bible. We cannot deny that if we give, we will receive. That’s in the Bible. You can’t erase it. No way. God wants to bless his people way more than you want to receive that blessing. But you can’t put a price on it.”

Watching the recording of Monday’s statement, Costi couldn’t help but see a performance.

“It’s very sensational,” he told CT. “When we are repenting, we’re humble. We’re very low. We’re not being sensational when we repent. We’re being broken. We’re being contrite. There was a lot of showmanship in the statement.”

Costi Hinn said one thing he would hope to see is some measure of accountability. A board of outside overseers would go far, he said, towards ensuring this change is real.

Rusty Leonard, the founder of Ministry Watch, an independent evangelical group that advocates for financial accountability and transparency, agrees.

“Maybe it’s sincere. I’m hopeful,” Leonard said. “But right now there isn’t any corroboration. 

This is just one example of how the increasingly autonomous identification of one’s relationship with God phased out accountability to biblical faith and practice. In a local congregation this occurs naturally between the leaders and members.

“Am I am not an apostle…are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. Mine answer to them that do examine me is this.” (I Corinthians 9:1-3)

The self-defined relationship with Jesus Christ escalated synergistically – both sides feeding off each other – with the rise of televangelism, newly styled “non-denominational” churches, dropping a church’s denomination from its name, non-traditional churches and megachurches allowing an individual’s anonymity in the crowd, and a growth in parachurch organizations and community faith centers that blurred or eliminate doctrinal distinctive. And the result was the loss of a functional body of believers.

“unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ…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: 

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ…This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.But ye have not so learned Christ;

IF so be that ye HAVE heard him, and HAVE been taught by him, as / since the truth is in Jesus:” (Ephesians 4:7-21)

Most of all, one’s “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” eliminates the Bible, the sole foundation of saving faith.

Andy Stanley is a master communicator, and he communicates very well and very often...he quite regularly makes arguments that subvert the authority of Scripture and cast doubt upon biblical Christianity…

Earlier this year, Stanley brought controversy when he argued in a sermon that the Christian faith must be “unhitched” from the Old Testament. He claimed that “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well…”

In his view, the first century leadership of the church “unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish Scriptures…”

Stanley speaks of outgrowing a childhood belief about the Bible and coming to understand…that we must know that biblical references to the Scripture “did not mean the Bible.”

This is something I’m trying desperately to help people understand…There was no “The Bible” until the fourth century…such a thing did not exist until after Christianity became legal and scholars could come out of the shadows and actually put such a thing together…”

So…no one ever said in the early church, ‘the Bible says, the Bible teaches, the Bible says the Bible teaches,’ because there was no ‘The Bible…’ every time we see the phrase ‘the Scripture’ or ‘Scripture’ in the New Testament, as you know we have to stop and ask the question, what was this particular group of people referring to because there was no ‘The Bible’ and there was no book that contained all the Jewish Scripture because it was contained in synagogues and as you know virtually no one could read and write.”

Well, wait just a minute…it is not true that references to “the Scriptures” or “the Scripture” by Jesus and the Apostles are any mystery to us. They are plainly referring to what we know as the Old Testament. There are references to “Moses and the Prophets” (Luke 16:29) and to the “Law and the Prophets”(Luke 16:16), but faithful Jews in the first century would emphatically have known exactly what the Scriptures are…the Greek phrase, ta biblia, “the books” was “an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books several centuries before the time of Jesus.”

The fact…is that…Jesus and the Apostles did make their arguments “according to the Scriptures” (see, for example, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Consider Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth: (Luke 4:17-21)…

Jesus was powerfully arguing “the Bible says” in a way that his hearers in the synagogue clearly understood, and that pattern is found throughout the New Testament…

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:17-19)

The pattern is promise and fulfillment, not rejection and repudiation. This is true even in the case of Acts 15, with the apostles citing the authority of Amos 9:11-12 and even citing the binding authority of Genesis 9:4 on the Gentile believers. Again, the pattern is promise and fulfillment. Andy Stanley argues that the Old Testament should not be cited as “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church,” but the moral law of the Old Testament remains honored by the church and repeated (even intensified) in the New Testament.

Peter, James, and Paul did not “unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish Scriptures,” nor can we.

We are looking here at the ancient heresy of Marcion…who lived about the years 85-160…The Old Testament deity was repugnant to Marcion, who argued that Christianity just make a clean break from Judaism. The Old Testament, he taught, reveals a vindictive law-giving creator deity who bears no resemblance to the merciful redeeming God revealed in Jesus Christ. As Irenaeus, one of the most significant church fathers argued, “Marcion himself divides God in two, saying that one is good, the other judicial, and in so doing takes God away from both.”

Marcion was embarrassed by the Old Testament, and so are many modern people. Andy Stanley, at the very least, seems to fear that embarrassment in others, even if he does not identify with it himself.

He spoke this way with Jonathan Merritt: “I’m convinced that we make a better case for Jesus if we leave the Old Testament or the old covenant out of the argument.” We can make a better case for Jesus than the case Jesus made for himself?

But the embarrassment comes through clearly in Andy Stanley’s comments in the interview. He spoke of people who have “lost their faith” because they read the Old Testament, and then said…

it’s time that we face the facts and unhitch our faith and our practice from some of these Old Testament values that we can appreciate in their original context, but we really don’t have any business dragging them into a modern context…'”

The church cannot “unhitch” from the Old Testament without unhitching from the gospel Jesus preached. Speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus said “it is they that bear witness about me…” (John 5:39)

Stanley questions whether Jesus actually meant his own references to Old Testament narratives to be taken as historical. He said: “Then a person has to decide…Jesus references the Garden of Eden, or he references in the beginning when God created the first two people, he references Jonah. Then you have to decide when the Son of God references these people and these incidences and these prophets, what did he mean..?

It is very instructive to remember that the most influential theological liberal of the twentieth century, Adolf von Harnack, chose Marcion as his theological hero. Why? Because, like Marcion, he wanted to reduce Christianity to what he claimed to be its essence, the benevolent fatherhood of God. All the doctrines of orthodox Christianity, including the doctrines concerning the divinity of Christ, were dismissed as either Jewish or Greco-Roman encrustations…

the Christian identification of the Old Testament as the “Jewish Scriptures” has a dangerous pedigree…Adolf von Harnack must also be remembered as seeking to champion Marcion within German Protestantism just as anti-Semitism was rising once again with deadly power in Germany. As Alister McGrath notes, “Sadly, Marcionism is a heresy that seems to be revived with every resurgence of anti-Semitism.”

The issues actually reach deeper. In recent years, Andy Stanley has encouraged getting over “the Bible tells me so.” He actually claimed in 2016 that the church veered into “trouble” when it began to make its arguments on the basis of the Bible. He cited “deconversion” stories in which people told him that they lost their Christian faith when they lost confidence in the Bible. He said: “If the Bible is the foundation of your faith, here’s the problem: it’s all or nothing. Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards religion…”

key question is whether one can be a faithful Christian while denying the truthfulness of Scripture. Jesus himself makes the point that without the Old Testament as the Word of God, we really do not know who he is. Then what does it mean to be a Christian..?

In this latest interview, Andy Stanley also suggests that “Christianity ultimately and eventually created the Bible.” That is consistent with Roman Catholic theology, but not with evangelical Christianity. In the interview Stanley affirmed again that affirmation of the virgin birth is not necessary. He had earlier stated, “If someone can predict their own death and resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.”

But the New Testament is very concerned about how Jesus got into the world, and if he was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, then he was conceived in some other way. Here we need to remember that the etymology of heresy is rooted in choice. A heretic denies a belief central and essential to Christianity. But heresy also takes the form of choice. You can choose to believe in the virgin birth or not, Stanley argues; he is not all that concerned about it.

Many cultural Christians think church is a good thing, but they are not committed.

They are not involved in any ministry.

They don’t sacrificially give.

They couldn’t tell you the last time they told someone about Jesus.

They come to church about once every couple months, because they are “just so busy…”

Ask any of these people if they are saved, and they will say “yes.” They will tell you about a time when they prayed a prayer and got baptized. But they don’t live their lives as if Jesus is Lord.

Aren’t these like the branches that God removed from Israel?

“Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not boast that you are better than those branches … they were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but beware, because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”

– Romans 11:17–21 CSB

The same transgressions that got Israel removed from the tree—compromise, taking their salvation for granted, giving lip-service to God, and going through religious motions without their hearts really belonging to him—are rampant within the church today.

I am especially concerned for children who grow up in church, are raised in Christian families, and live up to expectations by, at some point, “getting saved.” They avoid most major sins—at least, the ones they think are major. But in their heart of hearts, they know Jesus is not Lord.

If this is you, Paul says, “Wake up! If this is what God did to the sons and daughters of Abraham, it’s what he will do to you, too!”

Sometimes Christians will use a perverted version of the doctrine of eternal security to assure themselves they belong to God. This doctrine says, “once saved, always saved.” That is, once you are truly saved, you can never lose it.

Eternal security is a glorious and comforting truth. But notice what Paul says in Romans 11:20: You will be kept if you avoid the unbelief that overcame Israel and “stand by faith.”

If.

We have two seemingly contradictory truths: On the one hand, the Bible says that once God saves you, you’ll always be saved (e.g., John 10; Romans 8); on the other, it says that only if you endure to the end will you be saved (cf. Hebrews 3:12–14).

You have to put the two together. One of the essential marks of truly saving faith is that it endures to the end. The real doctrine of eternal security reads like this: Not only “once saved, always saved” but also “once saved, forever following.”

Having a faith that endures to the end is evidence that you possess the salvation you could never lose. Not enduring to the end is evidence you never had it to begin with.

Saving faith is staying faith.

You see, the evidence of saving faith is not the intensity of emotion at the beginning but its endurance over time. Think of it like a marriage: You don’t judge the sincerity of a marriage vow by the lavishness of the wedding ceremony but by the faithful commitment that follows it.

When it comes to God, a lot of Christians are all ceremony, no marriage.

Let’s take another look at the Roman theocracy and see if it matches the current state of affairs (that’s a pun) between church and state in America today.

The Roman concept of religion had never been that of an…exclusive obligatory moral loyalty to an unseen and highly spiritual Being. It made the relation between man and the gods entirely objective and unmystical. But it had recognized decent regard for the formulas of the community religion as a political duty of all good citizens…

Recently, President Donald Trump appointed evangelical Christian leader Jerry Falwell Jr.to head the White House education reform task force…tapping Falwell Jr. as its leader may seem odd to some observers given that he is president of…a Christian university founded by his father, Jerry Falwell Sr., and not a top research university…

The emergence and popularity of the Moral Majority came at a time when there were growing efforts to establish the rights of women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. Moral Majority, thus, represented the conservative religious reaction to those efforts.

The Moral Majority drew primarily from white fundamentalist and evangelical Christians, although it also…mobilized a broader conservative religious and political coalition than just white conservative evangelicals…Ultimately, this broad coalition of conservatives – mostly white Christians – came to represent the “Religious Right.” It has had an enormous impact on both the Republican Party and on public policy more generally since its founding...

Political involvement was a shift for Falwell, who as a fundamentalist Christian avoided political organizing as a matter of religious conviction…from entanglements with the political world.

Thus, Falwell’s move into politics also entailed a shift in his theological perspective. He moved from a separatist stance that taught that God controls everything, including politics, to one that required human action to fulfill God’s intended destiny for America.

the purely Roman system had no body of priests corresponding to the Aaronic priesthood among the Hebrews, or to the orders of clergy in the Christian church. Its religious officials were merely political functionaries of state…The pontifex maximus himself, recognized head of the religious system of Rome, was no more a cleric than…King George V in his official relation to the Church of England…

Falwell died in 2007, and his efforts to combine his religious and political commitments seem to have fallen to his son, Jerry Falwell Jr., who as president of Liberty University has been outspoken in his support of Donald Trump. Trump, in turn, seems to have rewarded him for his support with the appointment to the education reform task force.

Falwell Jr. is as outspoken in his religiously glossed opinions on issues as was his father. Perhaps this is seen most famously in his support for Second Amendment rights, to the point of advocating that students at Liberty University carry guns. He even built a shooting range on campus.

Jerry Falwell Jr. speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 21, 2016. Rick Wilking/Reuters

as exemplified by the over 80 percent of white evangelicals who voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, the legacy of Falwell Sr. lives on – at least for the near term – making him a figure as important as Reagan for the Republican Party.

Whether Falwell Jr. will rise to the level of influence attained by his father remains to be seen. But, he has signaled his goals for the education task force, which are similar to the issues that motivated Falwell Sr. in the 1970s. 

In the second place, the Roman religion made no demand upon or appeal to any personal or emotional faith on the part of its adherents…

Today, evangelicals make up the backbone of the pro-life movement, but it hasn’t always been so. Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals…considered [abortion] a “Catholic issue.” In 1968, for instance…refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing “individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility” as justifications for ending a pregnancy. In 1971, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, passed a resolution encouraging “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” The convention, hardly a redoubt of liberal values, reaffirmed that position in 1974, one year after Roe, and again in 1976…

W. A. Criswell, the Southern Baptist Convention’s former president and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas—also one of the most famous fundamentalists of the 20th century—was pleased: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person,” he said, “and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed…”

Baptists, in particular, applauded the decision as an appropriate articulation of the division between church and state, between personal morality and state regulation of individual behavior. “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision,” wrote W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press.

So what then were the real origins of the religious right? It turns out that the movement can trace its political roots back to a court ruling, but not Roe v. Wade.

In May 1969, a group of African-American parents in Holmes County, Mississippi, sued the Treasury Department to prevent three new whites-only K-12 private academies from securing full tax-exempt status…The schools had been founded in the mid-1960s in response to the desegregation of public schools set in motion by the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. In 1969, the first year of desegregation, the number of white students enrolled in public schools in Holmes County dropped from 771 to 28; the following year, that number fell to zero.

the plaintiffs won…Under the provisions of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which forbade racial segregation and discrimination, discriminatory schools were not—by definition—“charitable” educational organizations, and therefore they had no claims to tax-exempt status; similarly, donations to such organizations would no longer qualify as tax-deductible contributions.

Paul Weyrich, the late religious conservative political activist and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, saw his opening.

In the decades following World War II, evangelicals, especially white evangelicals in the North, had drifted toward the Republican Party—inclined in that direction by general Cold War anxieties, vestigial suspicions of Catholicism and well-known evangelist Billy Graham’s very public friendship with Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. Despite these predilections, though, evangelicals had largely stayed out of the political arena, at least in any organized way. If he could change that, Weyrich reasoned, their large numbers would constitute a formidable voting bloc—one that he could easily marshal behind conservative causes.

The new political philosophy must be defined by us [conservatives] in moral terms, packaged in non-religious language, and propagated throughout the country by our new coalition,” Weyrich wrote in the mid-1970s. “When political power is achieved, the moral majority will have the opportunity to re-create this great nation.Weyrich believed that the political possibilities of such a coalition were unlimited. “The leadership, moral philosophy, and workable vehicle are at hand just waiting to be blended and activated,” he wrote. “If the moral majority acts, results could well exceed our wildest dreams…”

For nearly two decades, Weyrich, by his own account, had been trying out different issues, hoping one might pique evangelical interest: pornography, prayer in schools, the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, even abortion. “I was trying to get these people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” Weyrich recalled at a conference in 1990…

as the IRS began sending questionnaires to church-related “segregation academies,” including Falwell’s own Lynchburg Christian School, inquiring about their racial policies. Falwell was furious. “In some states,” he famously complained, “It’s easier to open a massage parlor than a Christian school…”

The IRS had sent its first letter to Bob Jones University in November 1970…The school responded defiantly: It did not admit African Americans.

Although Bob Jones Jr., the school’s founder, argued that racial segregation was mandated by the Bible, Falwell and Weyrich quickly sought to shift the grounds of the debate, framing their opposition in terms of religious freedom rather than in defense of racial segregation…

In…an attempt to forestall IRS action, [Bob Jones University] admitted blacks to the student body, but, out of fears of miscegenation, refused to admit  unmarried African-Americans. The school also stipulated that any students who engaged in interracial dating, or who were even associated with organizations that advocated interracial dating, would be expelled.

The IRS was not placated. On January 19, 1976, after years of warnings—integrate or pay taxes—the agency rescinded the school’s tax exemption.

“That was really the major issue that got us all involved.”

Weyrich saw that he had the beginnings of a conservative political movement…he and other leaders of the nascent religious right blamed the Democratic president for the IRS actions against segregated schools—even though the policy was mandated by Nixon…In their determination to elect a conservative, they would do anything to deny a Democrat, even a fellow evangelical like Carter, another term in the White House.

But Falwell and Weyrich…were also savvy enough to recognize that organizing grassroots evangelicals to defend racial discrimination would be a challenge. It had worked to rally the leaders, but they needed a different issue if they wanted to mobilize evangelical voters on a large scale.

By the late 1970s, many Americans—not just Roman Catholics—were beginning to feel uneasy about the spike in legal abortions following the 1973  Roe decision…

the 1978 election represented a formative step toward galvanizing everyday evangelical voters…Weyrich characterized the triumph of pro-life candidates as “true cause for celebration,” and Robert Billings, a cobelligerent, predicted that opposition to abortion would “pull together many of our ‘fringe’ Christian friends.”  Roe v. Wade had been law for more than five years.

Weyrich, Falwell and leaders of the emerging religious right enlisted an unlikely ally in their quest to advance abortion as a political issue: Francis A. Schaeffer…considered by many the intellectual godfather of the religious right, was not known for his political activism, but by the late 1970s he decided that legalized abortion would lead inevitably to infanticide and euthanasia, and he was eager to sound the alarm…argued that any society that countenanced abortion was captive to “secular humanism” and therefore caught in a vortex of moral decay.

By 1980, even though Carter had sought, both as governor of Georgia and as president, to reduce the incidence of abortion, his refusal to seek a constitutional amendment outlawing it was viewed by politically conservative evangelicals as an unpardonable sin. Never mind the fact that his Republican opponent that year, Ronald Reagan, had signed into law, as governor of California in 1967, the most liberal abortion bill in the country. When Reagan addressed a rally of 10,000 evangelicals at Reunion Arena in Dallas in August 1980, he excoriated the “unconstitutional regulatory agenda” directed by the IRS “against independent schools,” but he made no mention of abortion. Nevertheless, leaders of the religious right hammered away at the issue, persuading many evangelicals to make support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion a litmus test for their votes…

After the election results came in, Falwell, never shy to claim credit, was fond of quoting a Harris poll that suggested Carter would have won the popular vote by a margin of 1 percent had it not been for the machinations of the religious right. “I knew that we would have some impact on the national elections,” Falwell said, “but I had no idea that it would be this great…”

it is certainly true that evangelicals, having helped propel Carter to the White House four years earlier, turned dramatically against him, their fellow evangelical, during the course of his presidency. And the catalyst for their political activism was not, as often claimed, opposition to abortion. Although abortion had emerged as a rallying cry by 1980, the real roots of the religious right lie not the defense of a fetus but in the defense of racial segregation.

The Bob Jones University case merits a postscript. When the school’s appeal finally reached the Supreme Court in 1982, the Reagan administration announced that it planned to argue in defense of Bob Jones University and its racial policies. A public outcry forced the administration to reconsider; Reagan backpedaled by saying that the legislature should determine such matters, not the courts. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case, handed down on May 24, 1983, ruled against Bob Jones University in an 8-to-1 decision. Three years later Reagan elevated the sole dissenter, William Rehnquist, to chief justice of the Supreme Court.

The native official religion…was a part of the state system, and its administration a part of the administration of the state. The citizens and subjects of Rome were all naturally regarded in a technical sense as adherents of its religion as much as of the rest of its political system. 

In the 1980s, born-again Christians burst into the political arena with stunning force.The founding of the Moral Majority in 1979 by Southern Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell placed Protestant evangelicals in the center of the American political stage. Together with conservative Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and members of various political-religious groups, Protestant evangelicals constitute the Religious Right, also known as the New Christian Right…

Against the respect for religious diversity and the constitutional separation of church and state, Religious Right leaders seek to impose their beliefs and practices on the entire society, as evidenced by the conservative domestic and international policies they ardently support. They use a stream of selective biblical quotes to buttress their political positions on a myriad of issues including abortion, homosexuality, marriage, capital punishment, private ownership of guns, public education and the legitimacy of preemptive wars initiated by the U. S. government. The 2004 election of George W. Bush to a second term as president confirmed the extraordinary power of conservative religious issues in determining the campaign’s outcome.

Religious Right adherents firmly believe that “the United States was established as a Christian nation by Christian people, with the Christian religion assigned as a central place in guiding the nation’s destiny.” Since the United States has lost its moral identity as shaped by its founders, they argue, re-creating a “Christian America” is the only solution to society’s acute problems. One of the Religious Right’s most visible spokesmen, the evangelist-psychologist James Dobson, distributes through his organization Focus on the Family a set of history lessons that seeks to show that “the Constitution was designed to perpetuate a Christian order.” Many of America’s disorders, Dobson says, stem from abandoning this unity of state and church. Another well-known Christian conservative leader, Beverly LaHaye, chair of Concerned Women of America, affirms that “America is a nation based on biblical principles… Christian values dominate our government. Politicians who do not use the bible to guide their public and private lives do not belong in government.” 

To be clear, Religious Right leaders seek to convert the United States into a theocracy. 

Emphasis added in the above quote.

The Jewish realm realm in that land was in the eye of Rome a foreign state, whose citizens might be tolerated as residents in any part of the Roman dominions…The Jews had a national religion, and, however absurd and debasing it might be, they might of course celebrate its rites freely.

Jews had…some special and perhaps unique privileges accorded them…The legal condition of the Jews, then, was distinctly favorable…in the Rome of the first century after Christ.

This was due to Herod the Great’s support of the ultimate winners during the Roman civil war between Octavian and Antony. 

in 31 BCE, Herod, through his ability to keep Judea open to Rome as a link to the wealth of Syria and Egypt, and ability to defend the frontier, convinced Octavian that he would be loyal to himHerod continued to rule his subjects as he saw fit. .

And in return, Herod’s support from the Roman Empire was a major factor in enabling him to maintain autonomy in a landscape of constantly shifting territorial boundaries.

The United States has a “special relationship” with the state of Israel, as characterized by the US State Department:

Israel is a great partner to the United States, and Israel has no greater friend than the United States. Americans and Israelis are united by our shared commitment to democracy, economic prosperity, and regional security. The unbreakable bond between our two countries has never been stronger.

Politicians are constantly invoking the US commitment to Israel, and constantly branding any criticism of Israel as “antisemitic.” Each year, Washington sends $3.8 billion in aid and an additional $8 billion in loan guarantees.

Over the years, the US public has heard a litany of justifications for Washington’s support for Israel: because… “the only democracy in the Middle East…” demonstrably wrong.

Some argue Washington does whatever Israel wants. But the United States is the most powerful capitalist nation in the history of the world. Explaining its actions as cunningly manipulated by the tiny Israel gets you into “Jews secretly control the world” territory.

The actual story is different, but still simple. US and Israeli interests have converged in important ways. The United States has served as a critical sponsor for Israel financially and politically. And Israel has played an invaluable role in helping the United States dominate the Middle East.

God defines getting into bed with politicians as adultery. 

“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?…Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:4-8)

Right Doctrine Matters

The assembly of saints is NOT the Senate or House of Representatives. It is the church.

“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God…By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for allthis man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God…For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more…’

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus…And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us [that’s a command, not a suggestion] 

  • draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
  • hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
  • consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
  • Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but
  • exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

Cast not away therefore your confidence / faith, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10)

Door #1 – Perdition, or Door #2 – Salvation of the Soul

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh and kept my works unto the end:” (Revelation 2-3)

  1. will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
    1. Apparently hyperdimensional beings need to recharge their energy through various sources including eating. Abraham fed angels, and we are told “to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2). The post The Mark Of The Beast details fallen angels’ exploitation of humans for their life energy.  Apparently in the hereafter, in order to live forever it is necessary to renew one’s source of energy.
      1. “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow…the tree of life also in the midst of the garden” (Genesis 2:9) 
      2. “take…of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:” (Genesis 3:22)
      3. that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, In the midst…was there the tree of life…Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.” (Revelation 21:10, 22:1-2, 14)
  2. shall not be hurt of the second death.
    1. If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand…he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone…for ever and everHere is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus…Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth…(Revelation 14:9-13)
    2. I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…This is the first resurrection…on such the second death hath no power…(Revelation 20:4-6)
    3. And when the thousand years are expired…I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life…and they were judged every man according to their works [including worshiping the beast and receiving his mark]. And death [the process] and hell [the location on earth] were cast into the lake of fire [interestingly, describes a sun]. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20) 
    4. As detailed in the post The Beast From the Sea, the end of the world  “as in the days of Noah” comes about because of the re-emergence of hybrid beings whose conception through cross-breeding angelic DNA with humans was specifically strategized to destroy humanity. Human groups are another form of hybridization of multiple individuals into one hive mind and one purpose generally summed up as the annihilation of other groups. In the process of hybridizing with the beast’s spirit through one means or another, one relinquishes the spirit life originating from Creator God and transferred from Adam through human parents throughout all of human history. The loss of this identification as fully human creations of God causes their names to be erased from the book of life.
      1. “And the LORD said unto Moses…thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt…Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin…Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” (Exodus 32)
      2. “the Pharisees…said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them…if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto youWherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” (Matthew 12:24-32)
    5. What about fully human people who didn’t hybridized with an evil spirit but neither did they identify with YHVH’s savior? The Bible defines life as connection with God. See the post The Oneness of Being for details. God placed his spirit into Adam, who passed it to Eve through cloning, who passed it to every human descendant through the mitochondria in the female egg. See the post The Seed of the Woman for details. This spirit returns to God when the mortal body stops functioning, the body disintegrates back to dust, and the soul, as detailed in the post The Oneness of Being, is energy and isn’t destroyed. If it is not connected to God through his spirit, there is no light and life. It is in a bad place.
      1. Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when…man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets…Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it…the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments…For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12)
      2. Jesus speaks of being cast into outer darkness without giving any details, so it must have been common knowledge in his day, i.e. in what we call the Old Testament. As the oldest extant Old Testament document, Job is the foundational source for understanding any future references to its topics. When we cross reference with Job, we find “the land of darkness,” further described as “darkness itself…without any order” is the place “I go whence I shall not return” for the condition of “death” of the self, the soul disconnected from the body,  (Job 10:21-22). “My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart…the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness…the bars [locked gates preventing egress] of the pit [prison of the soul].” (Job 17:11-16) This sounds a lot like the horrible place described in pagan ancient records where souls suffer for eternity in the ‘land of no return…’, It also sounds a lot like the destination of the rich man who didn’t make it to Abraham’s bosom. He is not reported to have actively denied God, in fact, Abraham calls him “son” so he was likely ethnically and quite possibly religiously Jewish. But neither did he identify with God in this life. His mistake was trusting in himself to provide what is sourced only through Creator God – abundant life.
        1. And the Pharisees…derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before menThere was a certain rich man…died…And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things [by the choices you made then], and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented [because now you are not capable of exerting your will or accessing any resources any longer]And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke 16:19-26)
        2. “Jesus…marvelled, and said…I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel…many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mathew 8:10-12)
        3. The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king [God the Father], which made a marriage for his son [Jesus Christ], And sent forth his servants [prophets and apostles] to call them that were bidden [Jewish Rulers] to the wedding: and they would not come…Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready…Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage…and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment [righteousness].Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:2-14)
        4. The kingdom of heaven is as a man [Jesus Christ] travelling into a far country [ascended into heaven], who called his own servants , and delivered unto them his goods….After a long time the lord of those servants cometh [Second Coming], and reckoneth with them…His lord said unto [the first], Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord…. His lord said unto [the second], Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man…And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant…cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14-30).
        5. every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labourFor we are labourers together with God…Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire [burn victims have lots of pain and suffering, i.e. weeping and gnashing of teeth].” (I Corinthians 3:8-15)
        6. “we labour, that…we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:9-10)
      3. We can also logical deduce that eternal damnation is stressful, in contrast to restful. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For we which have believed do enter into restThere remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
      4. In short, there appear to be three possible destinations.
        1. Eternal life for those who forge a spiritual connection with the Creator’s Savior as proven by their way of life.
        2. Eternal hellfire for those who forge a spiritual connection with the Adversary.
        3. Eternal misery in isolation for those who rejected YHVH’s salvation in favor of trusting their own judgment.
  3. will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
    1. In addition to the tree of life, the manna that the Hebrews ate in the wilderness is another heavenly food. “he…opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat…the corn [grain, staff of life] of heaven. Man did eat angels’ food.” (Psalm 78:23-25)
    2. A white stone is a vote yes for a political position.
    3. A new name = a new identity. In context, this would be appointment to a political position in the kingdom government.
  4. to him will I give power over the nations…even as I received of my Father….And I will give him the morning star.
    1. This indicates a high office under the supervision of Jesus Christ himself “that…turneth the shadow of death into the morning” (Amos 5:7-8) I Jesus…am…the bright and morning star.” (Revelation 22:14-16)
  5. shall be clothed in white raiment…”arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8)
  6. will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. What a diplomatic passport!
  7. will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Revelation 2-3)
    1. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:” (II Timothy 2:12)
    2. Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father..whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;.” (Matthew 20:20-26)

Given the consequences, it’s pretty important to determine what it means to overcome. Jesus gave us a graphic example. It means to win a battle.

“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are at peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.” (Luke 11:21-22)

Paul puts this in spiritual terms.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:11-18)

To “overcome” then, is to win a spiritual battle. Paul’s letters to the churches of the new covenant make it clear that fighting spiritual battles is the standard MO, the New Normal, for everyone who seeks eternal life. This is succinctly stated in the second chapter of his letter to Pastor Timothy.

“These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus ChristWhich in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.”

Note the progression of gifts given to those who overcome. This appears to indicate that A) degrees of extent of overcoming leads to degrees of quality of life.

Not a strange doctrine at all, but consistent with examples found throughout the Bible – Joseph in Egyptian government, David as king of Israel, Daniel in the Babylonian and Persian governments, the Apostles Peter, Paul and John in the kingdom of God during the Roman Empire, and on and on. After all, the restoration of hyperdimensionality to human sons of God is for the purpose of having dominion over creation. Anyone who casts their votes for the leaders they believe are best suited for human government should be able to grasp this application to kingdom authority in the hereafter.

  1. The basic gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This is not earned, it is a gift of God, but too many people act like it’s equivalent to a string of beads tossed out to anyone waving their hands during a Mardi Gras parade. It is not. It is a gift, but it is granted only to those who identify – in truth – with Jesus Christ in his death to sin and resurrection to righteousness. This eliminates a lot of people who think they can have the pleasures of sin in this life and eternal life to come as well. In other words, you can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.
    1. “the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man…that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?…But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” (Romans 2:2-9) What? This sounds like salvation by works, which is contradicted by the following chapter.
    2. “by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets…faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his [God’s] righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; that he might be just [punishing sin], and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus…” (Romans 3:20-30) 
    3. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law…we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life….in the likeness of his resurrection…we believe that we shall also live with him…[then it logically follows that we live as he lives NOW, in this life] in that he died, he died unto sin…in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord…yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?…For when ye were the servants of sin…What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 3:31, 6:8-23)
  2. Not everyone will have the same status in heaven. Only the heroes, those who emulate their leader’s courage in battle, like David’s mighty men, are elevated to positions of authority.
    1. “every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” (I Corinthians 9:25)
    2. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:7-8)

A version of Christianity that promises a good life for being a good person in this life has completely missed the point. This life is hard. It is a temporary opportunity to identify with the Creator God’s Redeemer Savior and train for service in an eternal kingdom we can’t begin to imagine.

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable…For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all [opposing and non-aligned] rule and all authority and power.” (I Corinthians 15:19-25)

 

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