Thanks for this Seth! Just this past month, a group of pastors I am a part of talked about the effects our eschatology has on our practice (such as missions and evangelism) and our attitude (victory declarations or defeatist prayers). It is amazing how “pop” theology can influence our behavior so easily. But then again, the Jews of Jesus’ day had “pop” theology that reckoned a conquering king from rich royal blood would rise up and defeat the Romans. They were wrong too!
Did God set this whole thing up to lose?
are now trading partners and democratic protests are underway around the
You are either absolutely blind to what’s happening in the world, or you are fantastic deceiver. Or, maybe it’s both. Jesus and the disciples warned us to watch and be ready. Not that we are to try and fix a date, or be constantly engulfed in end time eschatology. What did they say we are to be ready for? Jesus’ coming again–in the literal sense, not a metaphoric sense.
If you read the Bible as a book of myths like any other religion, than you would see the world as getting “better.” If you take it’s history seriously, if you take prophesies, warnings by Jesus Christ and his discplies, and God’s commandments seriously, than you would have quite a different picture of what’s happening today.
The book your writing sounds like a take off of Brian McLaren’s who denies all essential doctrines of the Christian faith and instead promotes a different Christ.
Still hoping your eyes will be opened to the Truth–that Jesus Christ alone is God (not all of humanity)and that he has already won. There will be a new heaven and new earth. Just not the one you’re dreaming of.
Interesting……..I’m definitely not one for solid predictions of dates or pulling Revelation to pieces as if it is an allegory we are supposed to understand in all its detail with this equals that and that equals this. That really IS a waste of time. If Jesus didn’t know, it’s hardly likely God is going to tell any of us!
But I disagree that the world is getting better. It may look that way in America and the West, but there are a lot of places where a huge amount of unrest and political and economic instability means it isn’t a picnic out there. The world goes in peaks and troughs it seems and maybe the West is heading out of a trough right now, so it doesn’t look so bad.
Did God set it up to lose? God never sets anything up to lose. But I think its zenith will be the new heaven and the new earth. This old one is condemned to perish and all its systems with it. I don’t think that is defeatist theology, but I am willing to be corrected – please do feel free if you think I am wrong! It’s the only way I can learn. I think from the way I read the Bible things will get a whole lot worse before our God says “no more” and wraps it up, but while the dark is darker, the light will be lighter and more glorious. Not a tragic ending……at least not for all.
My pastor asked me the other day to choose a day I would like to live again if I could and I said “my last one” because I think my very last day on earth would be one I would want to get right, tie up loose ends, say goodbyes, forgive and be forgiven, leave blessing behind. I guess eschatology that makes you live every day like it’s your last is not a bad thing to have. Forget the number crunching of six recurring and ringing dates on the calendar. But maybe live for the day you’re in and see what God will do with it.
It seems that most of the perspectives I hear fall toward one side or the other. I think both perspectives hold water.
I can’t say that I’ve studied eschatology, so I’m definately not and expert or anything, but what I see is acctually a deepening of the divide.
I see the church growing and maturing and God moving all over the place. I also see the world groaning and shaking under the weight of sin. You cannot look at our culture and not see the increasing corruption and depravity. But there are also great movements toward peace and equality and compassion.
I guess my theory is that as we move toward the end times, the good will get better and the bad will get worse, and we will no longer be able to ride the fence. I think the dividing line will become very clear.
But, as I said, I haven’t really spent a great deal of time studying the topic and I don’t really have scripture to back that up. It’s just what I see.
Kim’s comment makes sense in the observation mode, and it reveals the source of the problem. The only way light can grow “brighter” and darkness can grow “darker” is if they are kept separate and apart. Light always dispels darkness when they come into contact. The reality is, at least in the western industrialized world, that the church is cocooning behind its walls and isolating itself from the needs of the lost. We carry signs instead of performing them, we shout words of love instead of performing sacrificial deeds. If there is anyone responsible for the condition and darkness of our world, it certainly isn’t God, but the inactive, disinterested church.
I haven’t heard anything here about the possibility of a false world-wide church arising. While claiming to be light, it will be one of darkness. While saying they are working for God–being his co-creators to bring in “the kingdom on earth,” they will be serving Lucifer. When they cry peace and safety, destruction will come.
Just what church is exploding? A church that remains true to Jesus Christ–the unique Savior, or the church who sees Christ as the cosmic consciousness found in all of humankind? Which is it? That will be your choice.
@Disgusted again: ever thought of using a more positive name? With respect, the name gives the impression you are set up for only finding disappointment in other people or situations and I wouldn’t want that for you. How about Blessed Again instead? xx
Carole, No, hadn’t thought about it. I’ve given positive names as well when I’ve written. Disgusted again was a last second, quick name given because of so much deception I have seen and really am getting sick and tired of. A postive name sounds nicer (since nobody can handle negativity of any kind anymore). If I ever do write again, I’ll try to keep that in mind and try not to let my frustration get the best of me. I guess I’ve seen to much sweetness on the outside and not enough sincerity, loyalty to Christ, and honesty on the inside of people–disgusted was the only word that fit this time. Thanks for the advice.
Bless you, it is difficult when you care about something and are passionate about it and not everyone feels the same way. I can understand the frustration. I am just reminded that it is the goodness of God that leads me to repentance so often. Bizarrely, the negative words of correction are positive in that context. I do love the topsy-turvy nature of God, don’t you? I’m sure your heart is to seek to bless and encourage in truth and integrity, so a positive name would probably sum you up so much better. Nice to “meet” you by the way! xx
Just to throw my two cents into this discussion…
Christianity IS gaining in the world… not, as @Disgusted says, a ‘universalist” church, but a Christ-centered church.
and I think you make a tremendous leap to insinuate Seth is blind/a deceiver/serving the devil. That might not be how you meant it, but that’s how I read it. Be careful brother.
I think we tend to bash “the church” too much. @Bob, instead of instead of isolating, I think today’s Christians are realizing that Christ’s love was for the unbeliever just as much as it was the believer (if not more!). So churches, and Christ-followers outside of the traditional “church” (there are thousands of us), are looking to bless others and to share Christ’s message even more.
For everyone, we have to be able to look outside of our current “news cycle” of BREAKING NEWS that the media is feeding us. Yes, there are natural disasters (there always have been and they will continue); yes, there are wars (there always have been and they will continue). But just as much is going right in the world… we have to be open to see the good just as much as the bad.
And as far as Eschatology goes, I prefer to think that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was enough to defeat sin (it was!), and that it was the defining battle for the redemption of the Earth. That’s why I’m interested in bringing heaven to Earth now through the authority of Jesus Christ.
Wake up, Dave. Ask yourself why people like Leonard Sweet who calls Luciferian, David Spangler, a “New Light” is being promoted by Emergent leaders.
@Stand Firm – Not sure who Leonard Sweet is…certainly not interested in David Spangler. And “Emergent leaders” is not a label that I can relate to. It doesn’t even sound anything like the thread we are discussing or what Dave mentioned.
Simply obeying Christ’s command to “heal the sick, raise the dead and proclaim the good news of the Kingdom” (demonstrate and proclaim) is not heresy. In fact, I think to tell people that they shouldn’t do so is heresy.
Bob Higgins: If you’re a pastor and really don’t know about Leonard Sweet or the Emergent movement (or conversation as they call it), please take the time to do some research. Why does it relate to AIM? Because AIM’s founder, Seth Barnes, The Director of Marketing, Jeff Goins, and other staffers promote emergent leaders like Rob Bell and mystics like Richard Rohr, and authors like Leonard Sweet who promote New Age leader, David Spangler. You should be interested! Look Spangler up online along with Findhorn and see what you come up with. Ask Jeff Goins why is favorite book is The Alchemist by practicing Brazillian occultist, Paul Coelho, and why he recommended it to World Racers to know more about Pilgrimage. Alchemy–look it up. Richard Rohr and Leonard Sweet don’t believe in a literal second coming and I doubt Rob Bell does either. Bell’s pal Brian McLaren sure doesn’t. The second coming is redefined to mean the raising of one’s “Christ Consciousness” (becoming one’s Higher, Divine Self or god. It can also means the appearing of the New Age Christ which, by Biblical definiation, would be the the Anti-Christ. You don’t have to believe in UFO’s, the power of crystals and witchcraft to promote New Age thinking. No, it’s much more subtle and deceptive than that–and so are many of its proponents.
Jesus did miracles out of compassion, to authenticate who he was, and most importantly, to bring people to repentance. They needed to know who Jesus is, the only unique Son of God and Savior from sin. Jesus downplayed his miracles. He certainly didn’t jerk spasmodically, howl like wolf, cry uncontrollably, or laugh for hours on end. Neither did his disciples. Nor did they stay glued to the floor for hours or in a trance. Sounds like the wrong spirit to me. Read again the account of Simon Magus in Acts 8, Matthew 7:21-23, 1 Corinthians 1:22-25, etc.
Hey there, thanks for this post, Seth. And thanks to your readers (i.e. “Stand Firm”) for their commitment to truth.
If I may, I just wanted to offer a quick word of explanation regarding some of these accusations: My favorite book is the Alchemist, because it’s an interesting bit of fiction. That doesn’t mean that I practice alchemy or have delved into the occult. I haven’t.
I quoted Richard Rohr in passing once, because he had something good to say about the rite of pilgrimage, an historically Christian spiritual discipline. I don’t see how this would be any different from a pastor quoting Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill in a sermon.
I’m familiar with some of the work that Rob Bell and Len Sweet have done and have read some of their books, but it seems unfair to get lumped into their group (whatever that might mean) for having mentioned them in a blog post.
I really am sorry if I’ve offended you, Stand Firm. I can assure you that while I may read a variety of authors and thinkers that I do not promote anything that runs contrary to what I understand to be orthodox Christianity, which would include a tenet like the return of Christ in bodily form to earth.
If you have other questions about this, feel free to email me at jeffgoins(at)adventures(dot)org.
I appreciate the exchange. My perspective is similar to yours, Jeff. I appreciate the motivation in those who want to search for truth since an honest search will often lead you to Jesus since he is the truth. I’m orthodox in my beliefs and have built my whole life around trying to follow Jesus and help others to do so. I’m not an emergent church guy, though I appreciate the missionary impulse in them that seeks to understand the heart cry of postmoderns.
I fail in many ways and I seek the accountability of those who know me and trust my heart. I believe that Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 needs to be a guiding motivation. Hopefully readers will see by my tone that I respect those who, while following Christ, have a different understanding of how to interpret and apply doctrine.
I’m interested in this dialogue if it helps us love one another better. If it becomes an argument where I’m defending myself, I’m not interested. The web is impersonal as it is and it is too easy to demonize people we don’t know.
SF poses an interesting question: Are we to restrict ourselves to quoting only Bible-believing Christians? If someone who is not a Christian has an insight that points to truth, what are we to do with it? And if a Christian has an insight that we quote, does that put us in their camp?
I probably share many of SF’s conclusions about Spangler and others. I consider New Age philosophy to be a dangerous strategy of the enemy. I’ve helped people to get free of New Age and seen the way the demonic attaches to it.
I invite readers to do a google search of this site – you’ll see that while I may quote various people, I’ve not endorsed any of the people SF cites (except Richard Rohr and there is much that Rohr teaches that I would not teach).
Jeff and Seth:
I didn’t pose an interesting question about what you can quote and not quote, or what you can read or not read. You can quote or read whatever you wish, it’s how you present that quote or book that is the issue. Also, unity is founded on Truth as seen in Ephesians 2:4-10, 4:3-20, 1John 2:4-11, etc. not love—though love should flow out of knowing the Truth. The two cannot be separated. Unity based on feelings (love) alone is a sinking foundation. We aren’t saved by our feelings, we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not Buddha, as Richard Rohr could say, or anyone or anything else.
Both you and other AIM staffers have given credence to Rohr. Seth, you’ve told World Racers and others involved in AIM that he is “the wisest man” you’ve met, a saint, one whom “God has blessed with spiritual insight.” You even asked him to pray over you.
By taking from and promoting certain teachings by Rohr and not cautioning against his re-definition of Christ (that Christ is the Christ or “cosmic consciousness” found within all creation), you lead your readers straight into occultism. Haven’t both of you put yourselves in his “camp” by doing so? You can’t take teachings from someone deeply involved in the occult and expect to come out completely unscathed.
I believe the director of the World Race, Michael Hindes, laid out your position best in his post, “Provoking Again” (3-2-11). Hindes wants to “deconstruct” and challenge young adults to believe something different than the gospel. He wrote: “I actually had a 25 year old ask me if I believed in the virgin birth, the atoning sacrifice, Jesus’ bodily resurrection, and our eternal reward? There was no room in their mind for any “true believer” to think differently about anything they’d been taught in Bible College. Needless to say, I walked away a little perplexed and deeply troubled. We keep teaching generations that they can know everything about God and that the Book of revelation is closed – ‘that’s it. God has said it all, it’s all been written down, the great scholars have broken it all down for us to plainly see.’ All I can say is WTH (what the heck, of course).” He continues: “I was reading Richard Rohr today and came across the following: ‘Usually God disciples us by making our self constructed world (read, beliefs) fall apart. Our personal salvation project must show itself to be almost totally wrong. The refusal to allow this falling apart is what creates legalism and religion.’”
Do you really believe all of those who hold true to the essential doctrines of Christianity are all legalists? Really? I’m sure some are, but trading the Truth for a lie is no better. The definition of legalism can’t include essentials of the Christian faith—then you may as well call Jesus and his disciples legalists as well. You know very well that just because you believe in the substitutionary atonement doesn’t mean all your concerned with is yourself and getting into heaven. True Christians understand that we are called to do good works and that they are done out of love for Jesus Christ.
Seth, I’d really like to know how you got people out of New Age teachings. From what I’ve read, you’re just bringing them into another more subtle form of New Age thinking. What’s your reasoning for using in a positive manner, for instance, a quote by well-known New Age teacher, Marianne Williamson, who teaches A Course of Miracles, in your post, “What permission do you need” (3/3/2011)? A Course in Miracles, is claimed to be dictated by “Christ” through a medium and is considered a New Age “bible” to New Agers. It asserts we can all become Christs, just like Jesus supposedly did. Using her poem, “Our Deepest Fear,” could lead young people right into New Age thinking. Williamson’s light is darkness and her darkness is light. It’s nothing but confusion to those who don’t have a will to test what they read or hear.
It’s teachings like those of Rohr and Williamson that are bringing people into the New Age movement.
You say you’re interested in dialogue and yet, you won’t defend yourself to those who don’t know you? What about those who have read you’re writings? Aren’t you responsible to them as well? Aren’t you suppose to “contend for the faith” you have (Jude :3-4) and be equipped “to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)? And, how can anyone dialogue with you if they have a differing opinion without you calling it arguing when you feel you’re on the defensive and you refuse to answer?
Jeff, The Alchemist contains very real, non-fictional teachings about alchemy and Christ (God) in it. You’re beliefs about pilgrimage and mystics align well with Paul Coelho’s. And then, I wonder why you would tell your online readers that your wife gave you the Harry Potter series for your birthday and then ask them if God is trying to tell you something—that you should be a wizard? This doesn’t sound God-led to me—and it certainly isn’t funny. Occult books were burned in the New Testament when one became a Christian. I’m not advocating burning books, unless you feel compelled to do so, but should anyone claiming to love God be promoting them in such a manner?
I am amazed at the re-definition of orthodoxy and the wars Christians fight over it. @Standfirm – you remind me of a nearby bible church that won’t fellowship with ANY other churches because their beliefs aren’t exactly as their own…they won’t worship with other churches (even on National Day of Prayer) because they sing different songs than they do (which might lead their sheep astray) and they won’t even permit their members to fellowship with “Christians” from other churches, lest they be “dirtied.” Their mission statement includes “expose all wrong teachings” of other churches. They spend as much time pointing out other’s faults as they do teaching the “truth.”
In the Old Testament, if you touched a leper or a dead body, you became unclean. This exposed the sinfulness of man and the contagious nature of sin. In the New Testament, we touch a leper or a dead person and they are made whole or brought back to life. Holiness becomes contagious in the New Testament.
New Age teachings are corrupting, and I won’t disagree with you. They are everywhere. They infect our young, even long-time Christians. But I choose not to attack beliefs (but will confront them appropriately), or even attack by association the books they have read; I will disciple believers, by bringing them into a collision course with the truth. The Holy Spirit (you do believe in Him, right?) will lead them into all truth. I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit to lead into truth is greater than the enemy’s power to deceive. The Word of God says so. You do believe its promises, right?
I recently had to break off a “discussion” with an ex-church member who wanted to “fix” all my “flawed” beliefs. If he had been open to actually discussing truth, I would have continued, but he began to yell at me on how the 1611 version of the KJV was the only valid version of the bible (what do people in other languages and cultures read?), and that miracles were only for Jesus and the apostles (ignoring the writings of the first 3 centuries of Christians). He began to rant on the length of women’s and men’s hair, and the discussion became about who was “more right” than the other. If I didn’t agree with him, then I had become a false teacher.
Stand Firm, you seem intelligent and well read. You didn’t get that way by attacking people for their beliefs. You have a fantastic future in being a light to the blind and a beacon to the lost. Focus on the right-ness of what people are holding too and they will gravitate toward it. I spent my first 20 years as a believer giving my children a terrible example of attacking everyone who disagreed with me or practiced sin.
Let me ask you how you would handle the following challenges: (these aren’t hypothetical, they are present and real challenges).
1. You have a 15 year old young Christian in your youth group. You notice that she is posting (automatically) her horoscope online.
2. You have a married couple who are members of the church. They still smoke cigarettes.
3. You have a woman who is complaining that your church is discussing using the “sanctuary” as a place to have meals. She feels that will be degrading to the house of God.
4. You have a person who spoke in tongues during a prayer service. Another person interpreted. Most people there had never encountered that before.
5. You have a long time member in your church who you just recently discovered was a Masonic Lodge member. He teaches a Sunday School class and is a trustee.
My gut tells me that you would say that I have a very screwed up church, filled with worldly, corrupted, un-discipled, untaught believers. I would tell you that I have a church filled with people who are on a journey, a long and painful one, and that some of these things need to be addressed, and others don’t (not for the time being).
Bob Higgins: In your answer to my questions directed towards Seth Barnes and Jeff Goins, you accused me of “attacking.” Yet, at the same time, you “attack” me. Your “gut” feeling happens to be utterly wrong, that is, unless the substitutionary atonement, the unique divinity of Jesus Christ and the unique authority of Scripture are non-essentials to you. Intentionally or unintentionally, you missed my point entirely.
First you say you’re amazed at the re-definition of orthodoxy and the wars Christians fight over. Then, you say New Age teachings are corrupting and you won’t disagree with me. I’m a bit confused. What do you mean by re-definition of orthodoxy? What do you believe New Age teachings consist of? Do you commend your congregation when they test what you say as Paul did the Bereans, or do you ridicule and punish them for daring to question you by calling them Satan’s helpers out to destroy the unity of the church?
My husband still smokes cigarettes (though he’s trying to quit). I’ve eaten in a sanctuary. I grew up with the King James Bible but also use the New International Version. I also own an American Standard and Berkeley Version. I’ve railed against legalism (having a school chaplain say if a girl wears pants instead of a skirt she’s not a Christian, for instance, or having your hair just a little below you’re ears, etc., or having someone say if you take a drink of wine you can’t be a Christian, or if you’ve committed this or that “sin” you can’t be a Christian. There is no such thing as a “perfect church” and Christians can have differing opinions on certain issues (Romans 14).
Christianity is about grace, love, forgiveness and freedom. However, it’s foundation lies in the truth about who Jesus Christ is and what he did for us. If the blood atonement is denied, if his unique divinity is denied, if the unique authority of Scripture is denied, we are no longer proclaiming his truth, but are helping the New Age cause of bringing in their false “Christ.” That is the issue, the only issue I addressed in my response to Seth Barnes diatribe because of what he continues to teach, endorse, give credibility to, and promote.
Hebrews 10:29-31 warns: “Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of Grace? ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
I’ve seen so many people who say they grew up in a “puritanical” or extremely “legalistic” home, church, or surrounding community, turn to occult teachings for comfort—perhaps without realizing the occult aspect of those teachings at first. What a shame! They’re doing the same thing the Puritans did–only they’ve gone way to the left instead of way to the right. Can’t we find some balance and remain true to the gospel?
You don’t have to hold every aspect of New Age teachings to help its cause. Taking one aspect of New Age thought and promoting it as “Christian” within the church can, and most likely will, eventually erode the gospel and lead into occultism. David Spangler, a medium and self-avowed Luciferian, makes that quite clear: “Any person who helps to re-focus human thinking and acting, who helps to educate man in the realities of his divine nature is fulfilling the New Age work, whether he uses Christian, Buddhist, scientific, agnostic or esoteric terms…Christ is a consciousness, an attitude, an orientation towards oneself and one’s universe; he is not a dogma, a set of laws or a teaching.” He continues: “The New Age is not a teaching but an action of revelation drawing upon the same seed source as does the Church, and this same revelation is stirring within the churches as new thought and direction and awareness are born. Any way that you can serve this translation of Christ from image into reality builds the links between us. That’s what it’s all about, anyway!”
How do you know if the person who speaks in tongues and/or performs “miracles” is God-led? Look at what they believe concerning Jesus Christ, Scripture, and the nature of man. Look into where they’re getting their ideas from and what their mentors believe. If God condemns the occult—and he most definitely does, a person who has tried to “Christianize” beliefs and practices taken from the occult will ultimately lead you in the wrong direction.
Will the Holy Spirit lead you into all truth if your heart continues to be hardened to God’s truth? God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (see Exodus 7:3).
I’d be surprised if the “bible church” you mentioned didn’t allow their members to “fellowship” with Christians from other churches. Was this an exaggeration perhaps to make them look arrogant? They might feel conscience bound not to participate with other churches out of loyalty to God, not because they’re “better” or more “pure” than others, but because they understand that some churches have already accepted New Age/occult teachings that God strictly forbids. The disciples encouraged believers to contend for their faith and warned against false teachers and teachings. Were they wrong to do so?
You were right that some of the things in your church need to be addressed and others don’t for the time being. But before you condemn other churches or other people for trying to remain true to Scripture or coming to you to try and discuss your views, remember that God may just be using others to open your eyes to something. All too often, those in leadership positions think they could not possibly be duped, dig in their heels, and refuse to listen to the pleas of lay members. They need to examine their hearts as well and go back to Scripture with renewed vigor, searching and testing to see if they haven’t let pride get in the way of discernment.
I don’t think Seth Barnes and Jeff Goins are blind to the beliefs of who they’re quoting, recommending, giving credibility to, and/or endorsing. And, tragically, their “posts” reflect those authors’ beliefs and practices in one way or another. To say they aren’t involved in the occult is disingenuous to say the least. Or, maybe they have totally convinced themselves that occultism is actually the new Christianity. They have completely ignored God’s numerous warnings and have instead chosen to mock those who have tried to warn them. They are leading thousands into beliefs they’ve taken from authors who hate the gospel as we’ve known it. That’s the issue.