Puritan Gems

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Book Review: Counterfeit Revival by Hank Hanegraaff

Man is, by nature, a spiritual being. In western society, particularly in America, that sense of spiritual longing too often leads to a desire for fleshly manifestations. Having previously been part of the charismatic movement myself, I can easily identify with the ease that these manifestations can delude those who forsake the use of Scripture as the only infallible rule of faith and practice in favor of esoteric experiences, thus mistaking those experiences as genuine encounters with the living God.

Using the appropriate acronym FLESH, Hanegraaff outline the pretenses and methods on which these counterfeit revivals are based.

Fabrications, Fantasies, and Frauds
Lying Signs and Wonders
Endtimes Restorationism
Slain in the Spirit

Hanegraaff's expose is a tough indictment against many of the founders of Counterfeit Revivals; names who are considered to be Spiritual giants in the world of Pentecostalism including Parham, Wigglesworth, Seymore, and MacPherson. Hanegraaff traces the movement from those early roots to modern day false prophets such as Hinn, Kilpatrick, Hill, Arnott, and Wimber. While most charismatics are familiar with many of the aforementioned names, they are not familiar with the selective book keeping that attempts to make saints out of these charlatans. Hanegraaff's historical study takes us on a journey of deception, phony miracles, historical revisionism, questionable teachings, lifestyles of excess, drugs, sex scandals, millennial heresies, false prophets, and just plain old skinflintary.

One common thread in counterfeit revivals is the ridiculous theology and practice surrounding the "anointing" of the Holy Spirit. Vineyard founder John Arnott explains:

"Many times Carol and I will be praying for people, we're soakin' 'em, soakin' 'em, soakin' 'em, feel the anointing going in. Next thing you know the guy that's supposed to be catching goes flying back 'cause it just kind of, it's got to go somewhere. If the person doesn't take it, it goes to the catcher, or it rebounds back on the person praying, or something where they can't take it." - CR p. 50

So rather than being the powerful God who created the universe, the Holy Spirit is reduced to some sort of cosmic energy looking for a person to rest in. False prophet Benny Hinn can constantly be seen on TV throwing the Holy Spirit at people like a dodgeball. In contrast, John's wife Carol actually claims to have a conversation with the person of the Holy Spirit, where "the spirit that spoke with her communicated sorrow over being separated from Jesus:

"You know, the Father, and Jesus and I have been together for all of eternity. But when Jesus went back to heaven to be with God the Father, I came to earth." And he said, "I am so lonely for Jesus." He said, "So that when people really, really love Jesus, and really honor him, and really worship him," he said, "I love to be around those kinds of people.. . He misses Jesus, and he misses the Father" - CR p. 125

Hanegraaff boldly chronicles the nonsense being pushed forth by counterfeit revivalists who claim to be led by the Spirit of God, while taking the full blunt of the charges leveled by these false prophets that he is "resisting the Spirit". Consider the following televised "prophecy" from John Kilpatrick.

"I got a word from the Lord last night. . . . The Lord gave me a word last night that I'm going to share with you in a few minutes. . . . It's what he said to me last night. And I heard the Lord, friend. If I didn't hear God I'd tell you, but I heard the Lord... I want to say something this morning to Hank Hanegraaff.... If you want to keep any kind of a semblance of a ministry, you better back off from this revival and what God is doing. You better back off, because I am going to prophesy to you that if you don't, and you continue to put your tongue and your mouth on this move of God, within ninety days the Holy Ghost will bring you down. I said within ninety days the Holy Ghost will bring you down. And I speak that as a man of God. I don't speak that out of vengeance, I don't speak it out of selfishness, and I don't speak it out of a hurt feeling, because my feelings are not hurt. I feel as normal today as I've ever felt. I don't have a chip on my shoulder, I don't have an ax to grind, but this is a move of God and you better leave it alone... And I want to tell you something else, if you don't want your head to start shaking—you make fun of someone in the choir shaking—come here a minute, girl. Come down here a minute. Hurry up. Hurry up. If you don't want your head to do like this, you better lay your mouth off of her... Mr. Hanegraaff, and all other devils, listen up..." - CR pp. 279-80

Kilpatrick later apologized to Hanegraaff and admitted that this was not a word from the Lord. Such prophecies, however, are quite common among Charismatics against their critics.

Learn the truth about...

  • How unbiblical practices such as Holy laughter, "passing the anointing", acting and sounding like animals, and being "slain in the Spirit" have more in common with Hindu Ashrams and mesmerism than with Christianity.

  • How false revivalists revise history by appealing to the preachers of the Great Awakening and fabricating justification for their unbiblical practices.

  • How false revivalists rely on esoteric experiences over the authority of Scripture, despise the church of Christ, and compromise essential Christian doctrines such as the Trinity.

  • How Benny Hinn receives "the anointing" from the bones of the false prophets Aimee McPherson and Kathryn Kuhlman by visiting their graves.

  • How a lady was killed during a false revival when someone was "slain in the spirit" and fell on her.

  • How counterfeit revivalists see numbers, football scores, and cartoon characters as omens by which Scriptures should be interpreted.

  • How false revivalists manipulate their followers by accusing critics of "resisting the Holy Spirit" in an effort to shield themselves from the biblical mandate to "test the Spirits".

  • How missionary A.G. Garr, after receiving the "gift of tongues", moved to India in an attempt to preach to the natives in their own language, but unlike the Apostles, he was unable to do so.

  • How false revivals have disillusioned many, resulting is people being pushed away from Christ as opposed to being drawn in.

As important as it is to identify false prophets, Hanegraaff also gives us the all important characteristics of true revival:

"...While the Counterfeit Revival is founded on fabrications, fantasies, and frauds, genuine revival always rests firmly on the foundation of faith and facts...While the Counterfeit Revival finds its validation in lying signs and wonders, genuine revival always finds its genesis in the Living Word...While the Counterfeit Revival presumes an endtime restoration, genuine revival is predicated on earnest repentance...While the Counterfeit Revival is fixated on sensational manifestations like being "slain in the spirit," genuine revival is focused on salvation and sanctification in the Spirit...While leaders of the Counterfeit Revival enslave devotees through hypnotic schemes, leaders of genuine revival enlighten disciples through Holy Scripture.” - CR pp. 14-17

The new expanded edition includes several useful Appendices where Hanegraaff responds to critics, of which there is no shortage of. In a biblically illiterate culture where people are eager to grab anything that seems "spiritual", and where snake oil salesmen like Benny Hinn can still sell out an auditorium, Hannegraff's book "Counterfeit Revival", however unpopular it may be to the sensitivities of American evangelicalism, is much needed medicine. I would encourage anyone involved in the charismatic movement, and love the truth, to take it.

Easy Reading.
375 pages.
Highly Recommended.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Postmillennialism vs. Amillennialism Part IV

Romans 11 and the "Fullness of the Gentiles"

“The Jews now remain, as it were, in death for lack of the Gospel: but when both they and the Gentiles shall embrace Christ, the world shall be restored to a new life.” (1560 Geneva Bible Notes on Romans 11:15)

What are we to make of “Israel after the flesh”? Amillennialists would say “nothing”, holding that Israel is the Church, for “it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (Romans 9:8).

Luther and Calvin saw no future conversion of Judaists, holding that the Israel of Romans 11 referred to the universal church, consisting of both Gentiles and Hebrews yet to be converted. A great many Reformers, however, disagreed, most notably Peter Martyr and Theodore Beza. The vast majority of the Puritans followed suit. Jonathan Edwards wrote, "Nothing is more certainly foretold than this national conversion of the Jews in Romans 11" – (Jonathans Edwards Works, vol. I p. 607)

On the point of defining the children of Abraham as those of the faith (Galatians 3:7), Postmillennialists would agree with the Amillennial view. However, defining Israel in this way doesn’t quite work on Romans 11. The “Israel” in this chapter is distinguished from “the elect” (Romans 11:7). When Paul explains that Israel had been given “a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day," (Romans 11:8), this can hardly refer to the church? Paul goes on to explain that he magnified his ministry to the gentiles “in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.” (Romans 11:14). Thus he is clearly referring to his own countrymen. Richard Sibbes explains,

“The Jews are not yet come in under Christ’s banner; but God, that hath persuaded Japhet to come into the tents of Shem, will persuade Shem to come into the tents of Japhet, Gen. 9:27. The “fulness of the Gentiles is not yet come in”, Rom. 11:25, but Christ, that hath the “utmost parts of the earth given him for his possession”, Psa. 2:8, will gather all the sheep his Father hath given him into one fold, that there may be one sheepfold and one shepherd, John 10:16.
The faithful Jews rejoiced to think of the calling of the Gentiles; and why should not we joy to think of the calling of the Jews?"
– (Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed)

There is much confusion today in trying to define “Israel after the flesh”, but the phrase in the Bible refers the religion of new covenant Judaism. The Christian faith blurs any line of distinction between races and countries (Galatians 3:28). It was the Christ-rejecting religion of Judaism that was the focus of the blinding that both Jesus and Paul spoke of, though most of them were of Hebrew origin. However, Paul looked forward to a day when the natural branches would be grafted back into the vine (Romans 11:23). Contrary to dispensational theology, there is only one Olive Tree, that being Christ. However, Paul explains that “a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25). This unfulfilled prophecy speaks of a time when the Great Commission will be completed in the gentile world, turning its focus on Paul’s “fellow Jews”. In doing so, there will be an age of Revival among the Judaists that will bring greater blessings to the Gentiles.

“Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!” (Romans 11:12)

During that time period, the Christian religion will be the majority worldview, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14), “And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11).

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

This age will be a time of unprecedented material blessings. There will “be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field! May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!” (Psalms 72:16-17). Expounding on the 72nd Psalm, David Brown writes,

“We need not have recourse to the miraculous fruitfulness of the earth which Papias feigned, in order to fulfill this prophecy. Plenty is the natural consequence of the moral change which takes place in the world at the millennium. The universal righteousness of that happy period will prevent despotism in government, anarchy in the people, as well as the devastations of war, by which the earth is left uncultivated, or its produce destroyed. The religion of that period will civilize savages, and destroy among civilized nations the numerous occupations that minister to the lawless passions of men; thus directing a great multitude of the human race to the useful arts of agriculture, who had been formerly idle and a burden upon the labor of others. The love universally felt and practiced in that period will lead those who have abundance to distribute cheerfully and freely to the necessities of those who may be in need". (The Second Advent, p. 400 - cited from Loraine Boettner's "The Millennium").

It is this postmillennial belief that was the foundation for the Christianization of Europe, the age of exploration, and for most of world’s missionary societies. It is this belief that sparked both the London and Scottish missionary societies, and it is this belief that will see the ultimate fulfillment of the Great Commission. The command for the church to “make disciples of all nations” cannot fail, for Christ has promised to be with us “until the end of the age”.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Postmillennialism vs. Amillennialism Part III

The Extent of the Kingdom

"The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!" (Psalms 110:2)

What is the nature of Christ’s Kingdom, and what does it exist for? In looking over the works of prominent Amillennial authors, one common theme resonates. Christ’s kingdom is “other-worldly”, and is not the age of the triumphant church. Consider this quote from Walter Chantry:

“ . . . the kingdom of God is preoccupied with eternal and spiritual realities. It has to do with a presently invisible world. Its focal point is the inward man . . . The gospel of the Kingdom completely absorbs men in the eternal rather than the temporal . . . The gospel of the kingdom absorbs men in the spiritual rather than the material” (Walter Chantry - God’s Righteous Kingdom (1980). pp. 15, 19).

R. Scott Clark writes,

“There are forms of partial preterism, however, which often go hand-in-glove with triumphalist postmillennialism and theonomic ethics and Christian Reconstructionism that has to make the messiness of a semi-realized biblical eschatology go away in order to facilitate their program of cultural transformation and their own version of an earthly glory age….Both the preterist/postmil/reconstructionist glory age and the dispensational premil glory age are manifestations of what Luther called the “theology of glory.” The confessional Protestants, however, at least in the 16th century, taught a theology of the cross. It’s true that in the early 17th century forms of chiliasm became disturbingly popular in Reformed circles. We can be thankful today that we are neither saddled with some of the old views of science (geocentrism etc), politics (theocracy), or eschatology (chiliasm). Scripture teaches no future earthly golden age.” (The Heidelblog – Dismantling the Rapture).

John Seay adds,

“Christ's Kingdom during this age is not of this world, but is a spiritual Kingdom” (Is Postmillennialism Taught In the Bible?)

Amillennialist Kim Riddleberger agrees, and points to the area of contention concerning political activism:

“No political pep rally and no amount of political activism will ever "bring about the kingdom" on this earth. This is a bad example of an over-realized eschatology and an all too secularized understanding of the kingdom. Didn't Jesus say something about his kingdom being "not of this world?" (From The Kingdom on Earth? Now? Obama Thinks So . . .)

Of course, no orthodox postmillennialist would suggest that God’s Kingdom will be realized by political activism. But does that excuse Christians for being lackadaisical concerning politics, as many would have us do? Does the Word of the Living God not have clear instructions for civil rulers? What about being salt and light? Truly, an over-emphasis on being “other-worldly” makes modern Christianity “no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.” (Matthew 5:13).

Christ’s statement regarding His kingdom being “not of this world” relates to the source of authority, not the extent of His reign. Christ taught His disciples to pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). After His resurrection, Christ claimed “all authority”, not just in Heaven, but on Earth as well (Matthew 28:18). It is this authority that is the basis for the Great Commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), not just convert individuals. Christ’s reign in all-encompassing, not just “other-worldly”, but "on earth" as well (and that includes the earth's politics).

Jay Rogers offers this critique of “Optimistic Amillennialism”.
“Postmillennialism stresses that there will be a Golden Age of Christianity in time and history prior to Christ’s return. Postmillennialism is sometimes called optimistic amillennialism for this reason. In reality, an amillennialist who is optimistic about the end-times is a postmillennialist.”

Based on the quotes from prominent Amillenialist above, I would have to agree. Romans 11, which we shall examine soon, would probably be the dividing point.

The Nature of the Kingdom

A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." (Psalms 110:1)

Like Premillennialists, Amillennialists view the culmination of the Kingdom to be ushered in by some cataclysmic event. Amlllennialist Professor David writes,
“Unlike postmillennialism, which has a gradual or evolutionary aspect to it, amillennialists proclaim the biggest discontinuity of all the millennial views. The present church age, is the Kingdom of God. Satan is already bound although not completely powerless (hence the paucity of demonic possession?). Throughout this age, a diminished (but strengthening) kingdom of evil will coexist with the kingdom of god. Both will be replaced virtually instantly with the eternal dispensation.” (Lesson 8: Amillennialism: A Golden Age Beyond Time (part 1))

Those who await this “virtually instant” replacement of both kingdoms usually confuse passages that refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and apply them to the Second Advent. According to Scripture, however, the kingdom was established during Christ's First Advent, and will continue to grow like leaven until it fills the whole world.

“He put another parable before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." He told them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened."” (Matthew 13:31-33)

"Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth...And in the days of those (Roman Emperors) kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever." (Daniel 2:35-44)

The spread of Christ’s Kingdom through the Preaching of the Gospel will have global impact before the end of the age, “on earth as it is in Heaven”, as the list of Scriptures in the previous post suggests.

“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-26)

Postmillennialism is not universalism

A common objection to postmillennialism is based on the flawed belief that postmillennialism removes the tares from the kingdom before the end of the age. This is not true. Biblical postmillennialists agree with Amillennialists that “Evil and good co-exist together during this age before Christ's second coming”. David Chilton explains:

“Biblical postmillennialism is not an absolute universalism; nor does it teach that at some future point in history absolutely everyone living will be converted. Ezekiel's prophecy of the River of Life suggests that some out lying areas of the world — the "swamps" and "marshes" — will not be healed, but will be "given over to salt," remaining unrenewed by the living waters (Ezek. 47:11).” (David Chilton – The Days Of Vengeance, p. 519)

It seems that postmillennialism is superior to Amillennialism when it comes to the fulfillment of earthly promises concerning the Kingdom of God, and the ultimate fulfillment of the Great Commission in this “church age”.