Jesus doesn’t fly in Air Force One. And we Christians should quit trying to put him there.
Yet that appears to be the goal of an odd coalition of mainstream evangelicals and charismatic “new apostles” who have allied to promote the intertwined concepts of God and Country.
The cause resonates deeply with conservative Christians in the United States. We’ve been trained for generations to believe that “God shed his grace” on us, and that we’re on a holy mission to reclaim the planet from Satan. It’s tempting to believe that the noble ends of foiling the Enemy’s design justify nearly any means at our disposal.
Scripture doesn’t support this belief. We are nowhere told that the one true purpose driving our lives, making disciples of all peoples, should require political or military means.
But you’d never guess that from events like TheCall, The Awakening, and May Day 2010.
Next week, a coalition called the Freedom Federation is hosting The Awakening, a theopolitical rally at Liberty University April 15th and 16th that will bring together leading evangelicals, self-styled apostles and prophets, and politicians (Republican, naturally). The summit aims to train pastors and political organizers—and some who try to be both—in strategies and tactics to reclaim the political realm from those who oppose faith and freedom.
In addition, representatives of the Israeli government will address the gathering, presumably to remind them of the responsibility American Christians have to protect God’s chosen people.
The list of confirmed speakers is impressive: GOP Vice Chairman Ken Blackwell and respected evangelicals like Tony Perkins, Dr. Richard Land, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Jonathon Falwell, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Dr. Ergun Caner, and Rick Scarborough are a few of the names listed at the summit’s website.
Interestingly, some of the speakers who were “confirmed” as of Monday, March 22, had been removed from the official website of The Awakening. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Republican governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and Rick Perry of Texas have apparently, on further review, decided to give this gathering a pass.
Now, this unholy marriage of religion and politics should be disturbing enough to Christians. The gospel of Jesus Christ was to be spread one soul at a time, not enacted into law. History is filled with examples of the danger of giving governments jurisdiction over salvation.
But a closer look at the list of speakers for The Awakening reveals a darker purpose. It includes several Elijah List regulars, Joel’s Army dominionists and self-proclaimed prophets Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engle, and Bishop Harry Jackson. Jacobs and Jackson are members of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, which has gathered annually for the last ten years and issued year in advance “prophecies” that are so vague and prefaced with such broad disclaimers as to be utterly worthless.
For example, their “Word of the Lord 2010” follows these cautionary note:
All prophecy not contained in scripture is conditional.
The timing of when the prophecy comes to pass may occur over a longer period of time than one calendar year.
In other words, the prophecy of revival in Indonesia may take place in, say, 2197 and still be considered accurate.
What rubbish. As is the nonsense peddled at the Elijah List that believers can be trained in prophetic discernment (for a fee, of course).
Most American Christians would agree. Indeed, this New Apostolic Reformation has struggled to gain a foothold of respectability in the U.S. since the end of World War II. Only in the last twenty years has it begun to emerge from the image of swaying crowds sweating and shouting at backwoods revivals. And in so doing, it’s taken on the form of a political movement.
At its core, the apostolic/prophetic movement is dominionist. Its leaders correctly see the world as under the influence of fallen angels who have rebelled against the Most High God. However, they misinterpret Genesis 1:28, which reads: God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Taken alone, that verse can be understood as divine permission to go forth and conquer in God’s name. In context with the whole body of scripture, however, it’s clear that God was simply telling mankind where we stand in the divine scheme of things—above the animals, but a little lower than the angels. It is not a command to use political guile and force of arms to advance His kingdom.
According to Dominion Theology, Christians are called to literally reclaim “the 7 Mountains of Influence in Culture”: Government, Business, Education, Media, Arts & Entertainment, Family, and Religion. This “seven mountain” approach grew from a 1975 lunch meeting between Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission.1 (http://hearkenthewatchmen.com/article.asp?id=149#sdfootnote1sym)
One could search until Christ’s inevitable return and not find such a command in scripture. God does not need us to wield His sword or to rule in His name. Jesus will do that after leading the heavenly host to victory at his return. But this Joel’s Army faction doesn’t want to wait that long. And it’s making inroads into the political ministries of influential mainstream evangelicals.
I recently wrote of the upcoming May Day 2010 event, which again draws together New Apostles Joyner, Jacobs, Jackson, and Dutch Sheets with leading mainstream evangelicals like Dr. James Dobson, Rev. Paul Blair, Tim Wildmon, David Barton, (Ret.) Gen. Jerry Boykin, Dr. Jerry Newcombe, Dr. Jerome Corsi, Wendy Wright, and Dr. Frank Wright.
Dr. Dobson was also a featured speaker at TheCall San Diego in September of 2008, one of a series of very public events coordinated by Lou Engle. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and his predecessor, Gary Bauer, were among the speakers at TheCall D.C., a month before the San Diego event. Among the names on the list of Engle’s advisors, which has since been removed from the TheCall’s website, was the then-president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard.
So this marriage of political convenience between mainstream evangelicals and the charismatic fringe isn’t new. If anything, it appears that Lou Engle has bridged the divide between the camps, and the New Apostolic Reformation, with its message of literal dominion over the Earth, is being mainstreamed.
The influence of Dominion Theology over evangelical Christianity in America cannot be overstated. C. Peter Wagner, the man who coined the phrase “New Apostolic Reformation” and established the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, was Rick Warren’s doctrinal adviser at Fuller Theological Seminary. Wagner’s World Prayer Center was located on the campus of Ted Haggard’s former church, New Life Fellowship.
The C Street house in Washington, D.C., which attracted national media attention last year during the marital scandal of South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, is owned by Youth With a Mission. C Street provides housing at rents far below market rates to congressmen and senators of both parties, including Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who toyed with the passions of pro-life supporters before falling into line behind President Obama’s takeover of the health care industry.
The house on C Street is operated by The Family, which sponsors the annual National Prayer Breakfast and trains young men of promise to use power to advance the kingdom of God on Earth.
In short, the influence of what many Christians consider to be the charismatic fringe already reaches to the highest levels of American religion and politics.
To borrow a phrase, let me be clear: God doesn’t need us to wield His sword. He doesn’t want us to reclaim the political mountain for Christ. And he doesn’t speak to us through prophets who are only 65% accurate by their own admission2 (http://hearkenthewatchmen.com/article.asp?id=149#sdfootnote2sym).
In the days of Moses, prophets with that kind of track record were put to death. Jesus fulfilled the Law and freed us from the responsibility of executing that judgment, but at the very least professing Christians should be wary of anyone who claims to have a direct revelation from God that contradicts scripture.
Paul was more blunt in his letter to the Galatians: “Let him be accursed.”
When Jesus was asked by a Sadducean lawyer which commandment was the greatest, he answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Those two commandments and the Great Commission define the purpose of the Christian life. Conquering the world is outside our brief. And we should stand against those who have hijacked the faith for that end.