Friday, November 18, 2011

Dominianism, Kingdom Now, and the Antichist

Yesterday I spoke of the need for the teaching of repentance.  In that post, I referenced one church in particular that holds to what is know as the "Dominionism" or "Kingdom Now" movement.  This is a manifestation of the greater Word/Faith movement and generally involves many signs and wonders.  While this theology has been roundly and correctly denounced as a form of heresy, it seems to be making a come back.  This is especially true among the youth and is currently being spread by conferences being put on by a group known as the Jesus Culture who are out of Bethel church under pastor Bill Johnson.  Many are getting sucked into this new and clever twist on an old heresy, and they are focusing their efforts on a less-informed youth who have not been vaccinated against this kind of error.  Unfortunately, the church is becoming like fish swimming after shiny lures instead of being grounded in the Word of God.  We get caught up in signs and wonders and fail to test things against Scripture.  We need to become once again like the Bereans who checked everything against Scripture. 

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily [to find out] whether these things were so.  Acts 17:10-11 NKJV

To begin, I should probably give a brief primer on just what the Kingdom Now movement is.

This movement, popularized by Earl Paulk, basically boils down to a systematic presentation of what is commonly referred to as "Latter-Rain." Central to this system is the belief that since the time of the Reformation, God has progressively restored "truths" to the church. It also includes the view that the offices of apostle and prophet remain in effect to this very day, which is why submission to spiritual leaders is so heavily emphasized. Kingdom Now Theology also subscribes to the "Manifest Sons of God" doctrine, which holds the heretical position that the church is the incarnation of God and is therefore to "take dominion" -- politically and otherwise -- before Christ can return. For these and a host of other reasons, we strongly advise Christians to steer clear of Kingdom Now Theology. (source: Equip.org). 

As you can see, this Kingdom Now movement is heresy.  Instead of spending the better part of a day pointing out point by point everything that is wrong this this theology, I will present the main core problem with their teaching.  That point is the diminishing of the authority of the Word of God.  While they hold that the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, they also believe that God can act outside His word.  Bill Johnson even encourages us to "go off the map."  It is no coincidence that the offices they revive as part of their movement are the offices of the apostle and the prophet.  I say that because prophets largely wrote the Old Testament and Apostles wrote the vast majority of the New Testament.  In fact, everyone who wrote Scripture was acting as a prophet in that they were writing down the very Word of God.  They need to recreate that level of authority to have some backing to take us "off the map" or to reinterpret Scripture in new and errant ways. 

It is funny, when you read the website of Bethel Church or even of Jesus Culture, you hear a lot about miracles and signs and wonders, but you read very little about the Word going forth.  In fact, they believe that every believer should be able to perform miracles, just as Jesus did.  It is never about the word going forth, but about signs and wonders going forth.  Signs and wonders do not change hearts, the Word of God does. 

For the word of God [is] living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12 NKJV

Unfortunately, the Word of God becomes inconvenient for them at times.  When that happens, they call in an apostle or prophet to "correct" our understanding of the Word or to add a new revelation to change the plain meaning of the Word.  Never mind the fact that these so-called prophets never have a 100% accuracy rate (as called for in Scripture) and never mind that the office of Apostle was only a first generations office to establish the church on earth.

Some may ask what is the harm.  After all, they are preaching Jesus.  After all, they do believe in salvation by grace through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  The problem is that they deny the Word of God and even if their intentions are good, the result will be to help usher in the Great Apostasy.  You see, while teaching the emphasis on signs and wonders and diminishing the importance of the Word, they create the environment that the Bible tells us will mark the end times. 

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  Matthew 24:24 NKJV

If we are not grounded in Scripture and focus on signs and wonders, we can easily be deceived by the lying signs and wonders that are prophesied by Jesus to come.  The Word of God, on the other hand, will never deceive you.  It is eternal truth and the foundation for all that we believe.  People may accuse me of putting God in a box (another phrase I have heard too many times).  I am not putting God in a box, but trusting God at His Word.  God will never act in any way that is contrary to the Word of God, no matter what kind of person claiming to be a prophet or an apostle tells you. It is irresponsible, heretical, dangerous, and wrong to teach people to judge a movement, a minister, a worship team, or a doctrine by what kinds of signs and wonders are claimed to be associated with it.  If that were true, they we would have judge the Antichrist as the greatest prophet since Jesus as he will be empowered to perform great signs and wonders.  In the end, it is the Word of God that gives authority over what is and what is not true.  The Word of God is the measure by which we measure a movement, minister, worship team, or doctrine.  If it is not consistent with the Word, it is not of God.  Furthermore, while teaching is important, it is no substitute for your own personal study of the Bible.  The Holy Spirit is our teacher and any pastor is merely supplementing the teaching of the Holy Spirit going on inside your heart.  In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who will lead you to the lies being preached to you as truth by revealing those lies in the light of Scripture.  No pastor or leader who authority over the Word of God, they are subject to the Word just as you are.  If you are not studying the Bible, verse by verse, taking in the whole counsel of God, you are a sitting duck for any clever charlatan presenting himself as a prophet.  The only truth that can defeat the lies of Satan is the Word of God. 

In the end, as  good as the music of Jesus Culture and other groups associated with the movement like Hillsongs United is, it is no excuse for the bad doctrine taught by the churches they belong to.  Listen if you must, but listen with care.  Make sure you are grounded in the Word lest you become deceived as well.  Music can be deceptive and hypnotic creating emotion not by the soundness of the lyrics but by the sound of the music.  God wrote His own worship music through David and others and left us the book of Psalms.  Those lyrics were played to music, but God did not preserve the music for us, only the words.  Movements steeped in signs and wonders are dependent upon the emotions they invoke, do not let yourself be deceived in that way.  Stay grounded in the Word of God and the winds of false doctrine, no matter how strong, will never be able to move you. 

Finally, their greatest lie is that a great revival will usher in the return of the Lord.  They claim to be ministers of that great revival.  While a revival before the return of the Lord is possible, a revile directly preceding the return is not.  The Bible tells us that at the end, there will be a time of great apostasy when the church will fall away from sound doctrine and raise up for themselves preachers who elevate their own desires.  All they are doing by diminishing the Word while elevating the experience of signs and wonders is creating the the perfect environment for the coming of the Antichrist.  Their goal is a great revival to welcome Jesus, but by straying from the Word of God they are more likely to end up with an apostasy and ultimately the Antichrist.  Be not be deceived, ground yourself in the Word.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for [that Day will not come] unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.  For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains [will do so] until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the [lawless one] is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 NKJV

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