Influencers or Infiltrators?

 

For it was not an enemy who insulted me, then I could have endured it. Neither was it he who hated me who raised himself up against me, for then I would have hid myself from him. But it was you, a man like me, my companion, and my familiar friend. We took sweet fellowship together. We walked in God's house with company.  Psalm 55:12-14

 

"'Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you,' says the Lord GOD. ’My hand will be against the prophets who envision vanity and distribute lies ....They have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace; and when one builds up a wall, behold, they daub it with whitewash'" (Ezekiel 13:8-10)

 

"In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength. But you would have none of it." Isaiah 30:15

 

You know, I often wonder why when people become important in their own eyes it then becomes mandatory for them to take leave of their senses. A shepherd (biblically: pastor – from ‘pastoral’) is charged with the protection of the Lord’s flock. He (not ‘she’) is beholden to commit to that task as if his own life depended upon it – because it surely does. When a ‘shepherd’ therefore allows what appears to be sheep into the flock and fails to examine beyond the ‘fleece’, what do you think it says about the efficacy of that shepherd?

 

Enter: Influencers Conference 2006, (Paradise Community Church [PCC], April 25-28, 2006). The leadership of the PCC are apparently of the opinion that ‘influential’ means, ‘beyond reproach’ if the one in question claims to be, ‘of the faith’. It would appear, status takes precedence over Scripture because some of the headline acts at Influencers Conference 2006 seem to have some rather awkward looking skeletons in their collective closets, bones of which the PCC is either unaware, or is keeping close to its chest (for the sake of the revenue to be generated perhaps?)

 

Cynical?  Well, let’s take a look at the logistics of it all shall we?

 

According to the website created especially for the upcoming Adelaide conference: www.influencersconference.com (be careful, the website has ‘Statcounterspyware loaded) – and actually, just on that. . . 

 

Statcounter’, as the name would suggest, is a hidden spyware applet that counts visitors to a given website – a feature which no doubt will be used in current and future promotions of this particular event. Statcounter is not dangerous in technical terms.

I foresee a problem however in that certain pages on the website ‘time out’, meaning visitors will have to log in again after a period of inactivity. If the new login re-registers as a new visitor, Statcounter will give an inaccurate account of the actual number of visitors to the site. If this occurs there will therefore be a corresponding misrepresentation of the interest in the event. This will be known to the site designer Jacob Gates, so it remains to be seen what will come of that. I just thought it worth a mention. I also noted that the site is extremely well produced and would have cost a pretty penny to construct. I take nothing away from Jacob – absolutely brilliant work, but I do question the organiser’s extravagance given such an infrequent event – or is there something else they’re not telling us?

 

Ok, back to the numbers. The registration fee for the Influencers Conference will set you back $230.00 per person if you’re a straggler or a battler (or a battling straggler), and $180.00 if you’re fluid enough to book before January 31, 2006.

 

Then there’s the Influencers Youth which comes at a $130 per head hit. And just when you thought there’d be some of the grace they talk so much about, a ticket for little Jack and little Jill (under 10) to partake of Influencers Kidzone will set you back another 50 bucks per head as well.

 

Let’s crunch some numbers shall we?

 

It is hard to know exactly how many punters will attend the event so we’ll have to do some creative guesswork. A conservative estimate would most likely be in the neighbourhood of 7,000 for the Conference proper over the 4 days.

 

Then there’s Influencers Youth. Planet Shaker’s Rallies held at the PCC have previously seen in excess of 7,000 attendees (or at least that is what we are led to believe) so, assuming the same is the case, add another 7,000 heads.

 

Then there are the kiddies (Influencers Kidzone). Now, apparently a typical Aussie family consists of 2 point something kids so that makes something like 8,000 children thereabouts. That’s a LOT of little tackers, and there is NO WAY the PCC could possibly accommodate such a number (as much as it would like to proclaim it can do pretty much anything) so let’s whittle that number down assuming say. . half of the attendee’s children will be babysat elsewhere.

 

So what do we have in dollar terms?

 

·  7,000 for Influencers 2006 @ $280 each = 1,960,000 or $1,260,000 @ $180 each.

·  7,000 for Influencers Youth @ $130 each = $910,000.

·  4,000 for Influencers Kidzone @ $50 each = $200,000.

 

Ok, so on ticket sales alone the PCC stands to rake in anywhere between $2.4 and $3.1 Million. And that is before the love offerings, promotions, endorsements and of course the, ‘merchandise’. Remember this is a conservative figure, the actual figure will most likely be much higher and extremely unlikely to be any less.

 

Don’t want to think about it in those terms? Why not? The “seekers’ and the ‘discerning’ do!

 

With relatively few overheads, a sea of behind the scenes volunteers and generous corporate sponsorship Influencers 2006 is guaranteed to be quite a cash cow for the PCC, not that that was the intention of course.

                                                  

Power, Wealth and Success

The big lie of course is that corporate success is an indicator of Divine favour. If that were true one would equally expect the likes of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Kerry Packer or Sadaam Hussein to join the star studded cast.  Well, maybe next year?

 

Does Satan have the authority to bestow great power and wealth? Of course he does! When he tempted Jesus with such in the wilderness notice Jesus did not question him on the validity of his claim: All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me."

 

Further, had the offer not been genuine it would not have been a temptation. All Satan requires is that people surrender and serve him and great rewards can be theirs. Notice Jesus’ reply. . "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him alone you shall serve.'  Serve God alone! Indeed, we are incapable of serving two masters remember? (Luke 16:13) Apparently some do not.

 

Don’t be deceived; importing such BIG name personalities comes at a corresponding price. These people do not freely give as they have been freely given after all, so one would expect the ‘love offerings’ and the ‘merchandising’ to abound over the 4 days the conference will run. Hey, how do you think these people can afford their luxury homes, designer suits and affluent lifestyles?

 

So what of these BIG names? Are we to just embrace them because they can pull large crowds? Build mega churches and even more mega bank accounts? or that the likes of Ashley Evans say they’re ok? What do YOU know about TD Jakes, Jentezen Franklin, Guy Sebastian or Mathew Crouch? Hmmm . .. ??? And as for the ‘in house’ commendations on the flip side of the flyer. .  puhleeeeze . .  Do we look stoooopid?

 

Ok . . . This is probably going to put a dampener on the highly anticipated group fuzzy, but we really do need to take a scrutinising look at the Influencers Conference 2006. Hold onto your Visa cards now as we investigate the players beginning with the main draw card, TD Jakes:

 

The Influencers Conference 2006 website describes TD Jakes as:

 

' . . .the world's greatest preacher'

 

Ok . . stop right there . .  “the world’s greatest preacher”? The WORLD’S greatest preacher? Hmmm, lets assume they mean the ‘Christian world’s greatest preacher . .  what happened to Paul? Or Peter? Or even Jesus Himself? The World’s Greatest Preacher? Excuse me?

 

He ‘preaches’ to millions; advises Presidents and Kings; is a lauded celebrity in both the Christian and secular media; is a ‘Oneness Pentecostal’ who denies the historical teaching of the Trinity; refers to Jesus as a ‘product’; calls the late John Paul II “His Holiness”; has a stable of transport including a Mercedes Benz, a Bentley, a BMW, a Lexus and a Jet. He lives in a 7 bedroom, 9,689-square-foot mansion in White Rock Lake Texas with his wife and 5 children; has a second residence in West Virginia, (2 homes side by side) which have an indoor swimming pool and bowling alley; loves to shop; wears exquisitely tailored suits, fine gold jewellery and expensive shoes, and appears to have no qualms whatsoever about publicly stroking an overtly inflated ego . . .

 

"Ya'll don't hear what I'm preaching.  I'm preaching so good I'm about to 'Amen' myself!  Oh!...Oh God!  I'm preaching good!  Hallelujah!" (T. D. Jakes, "Give it up, Have it All II," TBN, April 15, 2005).

 

How does he get away with it? Because theologically, the modern church is a thousand miles wide and half an inch deep – all shop front, no warehouse. So drunk on its own popularity its arrogance is staggering, and so enamoured with it’s own perceived beauty it is blind to its own wretchedness, poverty, misery and nakedness. (Revelation 3:14-18) 

 

The title of Bishop in the Christian church is a high calling; one should therefore flatly refuse to address TD Jakes as such - what an absolute effrontery to the office. A self adulating king of bling perhaps – but in the truest sense of the word, a ‘Bishop’ he ain’t.

 

Dr. John Macarthur commenting on the commercialisation of Christianity had this to say of the PCC’s headline act . . .

 

“ . . that those people who purvey and ply the trade, particularly in the media, know they are deceivers, and they are very effective at it - raising millions of dollars.  One such preacher alone, T. D. Jakes, took in, personally, last year (2000), 63 million dollars!  They are trading on a certain desperation.  That's why Jesus, when He sent out the Seventy, said, "go and heal, but take no money." 

 

 

The following narrative comes courtesy of G Richard Fisher of Freedom Outreach Ministries.

If nothing else, Thomas D. Jakes appears to be very successful. Called a “Bishop” by Charisma magazine, this prolific writer, recently purchased sizable land holdings from the crippled ministry of jailed evangelist W.V. Grant. The Dallas Morning News reported the sale of three of Grant’s properties to Jakes, with an estimated tax value of over $4 million.1

The Bookstore Journal lists three of Jakes’ books, from a variety of publishers, on its best seller chart for several months running. Its December 1996 issue said Jakes has a gift for writing, indicating that the bishop “does almost all his own writing” and that he “attributes his engaging prose to divine inspiration.”2

The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and the Black Entertainment Network (BET) both air various programs by Jakes up to three times weekly. In addition, the highly popular Promise Keepers organization enlisted Jakes as a member of its “Men’s Conferences Speaker Team” in 1995 at its Seattle and St. Petersburg conferences and as a speaker for its 1997 lineup.3

In its November 1996 issue, Charisma also labels Jakes as “one of the nation’s most popular preachers”4 and quotes New Orleans pastor Paul Morton, who labels Jakes a “black Billy Graham.”5 Jakes’ publications and the conferences where he is a keynote speaker are regularly advertised in Charisma.

But the real question is not his popularity, but his commitment to the truth of Scripture. Is Jakes doctrinally sound? Does he teach the Gospel in its purity? Is this “popular preacher” staying within historical orthodoxy or is he (and those he influences) moving away from the mainstream?

Jakes catches attention as he struts, prances and preens across the stage. While he may be a bombastic and entertaining speaker, is he a good instructor?

Jakes is part of the Higher Ground Always Abounding Assembly, a Pentecostal fellowship of more than 200 churches begun in the late 1980s. He promotes his books and videotapes through Jakes Ministries, now based in Dallas. His orientation is decidedly Pentecostal and clearly Word-Faith. The vast majority of his messages are definitely motivational and all about empowerment. They are weighted with psychological jargon.

Yet, there are troubling things about Jakes. For instance, did he misspeak to Charisma in the above-mentioned November issue or was he simply misquoted when he spoke of people who have “failed to appreciate their divinity.”6 Divinity means that you are divine and it is a word that only fits with God. The word is derived from Latin (divinitatem) and means “godhead” or “the quality of being divine.”7

More importantly, man is never addressed anywhere in Scripture as having divinity or being divine. Is Jakes, by virtue of his statement, associating himself with the god-man errors of the Word-Faith Movement? If not, and at the very least, he owes the credulous readership of Charisma a clarification. To even suggest that man is divine takes empowerment too far. But really what should we expected to hear? This is the road they’re leading undiscerning folk down, and the destination? It should be obvious really. .  back to the Garden and the fulfilment of the satanic lie, “You shall be as gods . . .” (Genesis 3:5)

BIRDS OF A FEATHER...

Jakes gives deference to the ‘ministries’ of Marilyn Hickey and Joyce Meyer.8 Both these “celebrated ministers” are heretical and promote Word-Faith doctrine without apology. How many erroneous camps can you occupy and still be considered a good example? In 2 John 9-11, we are commanded not to endorse heretical teachers in any way.

Jakes has also shared the platform at a September 1996 conference with Roberts Liardon.9 Any discerning Christian should want to stay as far away as possible from Liardon who claims he was transported to heaven and there met Jesus face to face and that he and Jesus had a water fight in the River of Life! Liardon further claims he was shown a building filled with unclaimed body parts (hair, eyes, skin, legs, etc.). This heavenly warehouse of unclaimed body parts is overstocked, according to Liardon, simply because here on earth believers have failed to appropriate them by faith.10 Liardon’s charade is either lunacy or sheer deception and should be given public rebuke, not public relations.

Jakes patronizes and clearly finds himself among the celebrities of the Charismatic camps. A full-colour advertisement on the inside cover of the January Charisma announced that Jakes would appear at the August “Victory Word Explosion” in Tulsa, Oklahoma with Benny Hinn, Richard Roberts, Rod Parsley, Joyce Meyer and Jerry Savelle. With this roster, it might better be called “Heresy Explosion.”

And why invite Jim Bakker to speak, as Jakes did in April 1996, before Bakker had even had a chance to demonstrate some long-term repentance since leaving prison. Placing Bakker back into the limelight and ministry too quickly may create the same dynamics that brought him down before. First Timothy 5:22 suggests that Jakes should have done just the opposite.

RIDING IN FIRST CLASS

When questioned for his opulent lifestyle, including an expensive home and a Mercedes-Benz automobile, Jakes merely refers to himself as an investor and an author. The Apostle Peter, however, said, “silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6). It is obvious that the religion business is very lucrative for some. The Dallas Observer magazine reports:

“His conferences draw tens of thousands. His television show, broadcast on both the Trinity Broadcasting Network and Black Entertainment Television, reaches hundreds of thousands. He has spawned his own industry, T.D. Jakes Ministries, which sells his books — 10 in all, with five best-sellers — and videotapes, the income from which allowed him to spend nearly $1 million on a residence in his hometown of Charleston, West Virginia.”11

The Dallas Observer goes on to report:

“He says he is not embarrassed by this, even though his extravagant lifestyle has caused controversy in his hometown that will likely follow him to Dallas. His suits are tailored. He drives a brand new Mercedes. Both he and his wife Serita are routinely decked out in stunning jewellery. His West Virginia residence — two homes side by side — includes an indoor swimming pool and a bowling alley. These homes particularly caused the ire of the local folks. One paper wrote at length about the purchase and made much of their unusual features. A columnist dubbed Jakes ‘a huckster.’ 12

Yet, what is most disturbing about Jakes’ prosperity is not the wealth itself, but his false teaching about Jesus to justify his fortune. The Dallas Observer shares further:

“Besides, Jakes says — during an interview and in his sermons — Jesus was a rich man. He had to have been, in order to have supported his disciples and their families during his ministry.”13

To add to his false and mythical Christ, Jakes brazenly says:

“The myth of the poor Jesus needs to be destroyed, because it’s holding people back.”14

Jakes obviously perverts the true biblical picture of Jesus in an effort to advocate his own lifestyle. The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports:

“Jakes, who drives a Mercedes, has moved with his wife and their five children to a luxurious seven-bedroom home with swimming pool in the White Rock Lake area of Dallas. He said the home cost more than $1 million. ‘I do think we need some Christians who are in first class as well as coach,’ Jakes said.”15

Sadly, in the case of so many prosperity teachers, they are the ones flying in “first class” by way of the donations of their impoverished flock while the latter fly in “coach” — or miss the flight altogether because they lack the money to even buy a ticket.

All this when the Scripture is so very clear:

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The richness of which Paul spoke belongs to a world to come – a kingdom NOT of this world! They are spiritual riches and are only made available because he stripped and divested Himself of all earthly goods (Ephesians 1:3) –and yet here we have a movement insisting (in His Name) that we indulge in them.

Archaeological excavations of Nazareth in the 1950s demonstrates the little village to have been occupied in Jesus’ day by poor agricultural people.16 As we’ve seen Scripture clearly shows the poverty of Jesus.

A WOUNDED VIEW OF SIN

In Jakes’ writings, he introduces so much in psychological terms that it is hard to cut through the thicket. It becomes hard to distinguish Freud from fact. He refers to immoral, lustful and sinful thinking as merely “little boy thoughts.”17 The Bible takes a stronger view and approach to mental sins and calls us to confession and renewal of mind. A lustful thought is as sinful as a lustful act in God’s view (Matthew 5:28-30).

In fact, very little is called sin in the above referenced book but there is much about wounding and being wounded, dysfunction and “the child within.”18 This is peppered throughout this book.

The above is stock and trade with the New Age-self help guru John Bradshaw. One of Bradshaw’s workshops is called “healing your inner child.” It is obvious that, whether knowingly or unknowingly, Jakes has digested large portions of Bradshaw’s esoteric psychobabble, including the terminology.19

No doubt, a study of the extent of Jakes’ borrowing from Bradshaw could be the topic of an entire paper. It appears that Jakes has absorbed many of the psychological trends of the age.

The Charisma article also mentions Jakes having courses in psychology before dropping out of college.20 Jakes, like Velcro, has had much of this influence stick with him. Velcro can have good things and things not so good (like lint and dirt) stuck to it. Such is the case with Jakes. He is tainted by some very questionable associations and endorsements and some very questionable borrowings, beliefs and teachings.

Jakes refers to an adulterous man as a “frightened little boy” and a wife beater as a “terrified little boy.”21 The Scriptures never speak of such heinous things in such a cavalier way. If a doctor misdiagnosed a disease and called it by a different name there would be very little possibility that the cure or medication would address the issue at all. A wrong diagnosis would lead to wrong treatment and malpractice. Again Jakes has succumbed to questionable and changing psychological theory.

Lutheran pastor and radio host Don Matzat warns against the wholesale acceptance of very questionable psychological theory:

“Modern psychology is not an innocent helping-discipline that we can carelessly borrow from the kingdom of the left-hand and merge with our pastoral theology. There are theories and techniques in psychology, such as self-esteem, the encounter dynamic and psychological mysticism, that can grossly distort Christian truth and inflict grave spiritual damage upon Christian people. ... We must carefully discern the theories and practices of modern psychology before we visit them upon the people of God.”22

In his excellent and perceptive book, The Biblical View Of Self-Esteem, Self-Love, Self-Image, Dr. Jay Adams points out that:

“The self-love movement that was begun by humanistic psychologists has already had a significant impact on the church. ... You cannot simply ‘add’ the insights of this new teaching to your set of existing Christian beliefs; if you add them, you must modify or subtract many of the beliefs you already hold. ... You are choosing between two divergent views of man, his problem, and how to solve it.”23 Jesus, in John 17:17, did not say, “Sanctify them by building up their self image,” but rather “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

ANOTHER JESUS

It has been shown above that as far as money and riches are concerned, Jakes’ view of Jesus is not hard to determine. His “rich Jesus” is merely a figment of his imagination, or perhaps he is merely regurgitating the false teachings of Fred Price, Paul Crouch and John Avanzini.24

Jakes seems just as confused when it comes to the human nature of Jesus. He states that because the teachers in Jesus’ day listened to Him as a child it boosted His self-esteem.25 Here again we have Jakes’ psychological jargon but now, even worse, it is being dumped on Jesus. At the very least it is erroneous and irreverent to speak of Jesus in those terms. To suggest that Jesus needed a boost in self-esteem and that it took some Jewish teachers to do it is to really miss the point of who Jesus really is.

Jesus may have opted to allow His sinless manhood to progress in a normal course (Luke 2:51-52) but His Deity and perfection put Him outside mundane false human categories. Again we see the pop psychology dominating with Jakes and a different Jesus being constructed out of the paper mache of human ideas. What Jakes suggests now puts Jesus into the category of a flawed rich man needing an ego boost!

Because the incarnation is such a great mystery, we must always be careful to say about Jesus only what the Scriptures actually say. If not, we can fall into extreme and heretical views on either side. As others have suggested there must be a “reverent agnosticism” about some aspects of the Godhead incarnate.

In the fifth century, the Eutychians so deified Christ’s humanity that He was no longer truly human. On another extreme, the Nestorians at the same time so separated the two natures of Jesus as to suggest two distinct personalities.26

Jakes appears to tilt toward the Nestorian error. The Orthodox view was promulgated at the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451 and stated:

“In the one person Jesus Christ there are two natures, a human nature and a divine nature, each in its completeness and integrity, and these two natures are organically and indissolubly united, yet so that no third nature is formed thereby. In brief, to use the antiquated dictum, orthodox doctrine forbids us either to divide the person or to confound the natures.”27

The Church has always held that Christ’s human nature was complete as Chalcedon taught. Therefore to suggest a boost was needed in Christ’s self-esteem is a definite move away from orthodoxy.

In chapters 13 and 15 of Loose That Man, Jakes spends 30 pages developing applications from the Lazarus story as how to live like a “loosed man.” That may be all well and good, but not once does Jakes state the Apostle John’s objective of clearly showing Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life — Jesus as the one who conquers death for us and offers us resurrection hope for the future.

As well, this tremendous miracle confirmed Jesus as the Messiah and caused some to believe (John 11:45). John’s expressed purpose for recording any of the miracles of Christ was to confirm Jesus as Messiah and engender commitment to Him: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Jakes seems to miss the primary interpretation to spin out many secondary, subjective applications to boost our esteem.

LOOKING FOR MANHOOD IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES

Jakes mentions that he purchased (for all the men in his organization) subscriptions to the secular GQ Magazine to help them learn about manhood.28

Any Christian need only briefly scan the contents of a recent issue of Gentlemen’s QuarterlyGQ Magazine — to be shocked and even appalled at its contents, some of which is nearly pornographic. Consider, for example, the November 1996 issue where there is an advertisement for the “Better Sex Videos.” The photograph accompanying this ad left little to the imagination. This same issue’s table of contents listed articles on “Nightlife at the Viper Room,” a crime story about a cross-dressing heiress, the cigar clubs of Beverly Hills, and things even worse.

This writer cannot imagine a minister endorsing a publication with such questionable contents as this for any reason. On the cover of the February 1997 issue, controversial basketball star Dennis Rodman and supermodel Rebecca Romijn were both featured in skimpy bathing suits. I am still trying to figure what any of this has to do with Christianity. How far we’ve come. Jakes expresses love for his children but is this the kind of material they would find around the house?

Instructions in biblical texts and biblical manhood would be far safer and far more sane, as well as more profitable and lasting. God’s Word has incredible things to say about manhood and godliness. The male leadership of the Church is given in specific, practical guidelines in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9. The Bible presents ideal manhood. It may not be as trendy as GQ, but it is far more life changing and God honouring.

A STROLL DOWN MYSTIC LANE

In Jakes’ book, Why? Because You Are Anointed, he teaches a personal guidance system that is not only strange but misleading and fraught with problems of self-deception and outright manipulation of others.

Instead of telling people to follow the clear dictates and details of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), he leads people to follow confusing detours of inner impressions and guess work by others. Listen to his advice:

“God imparts to you a revelation of His plans for your life. That is how the vision begins. Then in some cases, God confirms that word he spoke personally to you through a prophecy given to you by another man or woman of God.”29

Jakes does not seem to have even an elementary idea of the basic doctrines and distinctions between revelation, inspiration and illumination. Yet he purports to give direction and guidance to thousands.

In the same book he says that the guidance will be proven later by the Scripture.30 That certainly puts the cart before the horse. Suppose by that time you have created an unmitigated disaster. We must always start with the Scripture and not use God’s Word as an addendum.31

At this point some may say that all the above is unimportant and to express concern about these things is simply nit picking. Certainly the good Jakes does out weighs minor differences.

A lavish materialistic lifestyle, a vastly different Jesus, the psychologizing of Christianity, crude magazines, an unsafe guidance system may be good and acceptable to some, but not to those that take the Bible seriously and see Scripture as the sole court of appeal when it comes to religious claims and teachings.

However it gets worse, especially Jakes’ teaching on the Gospel and salvation.

DYING TO GET SAVED

In his 1996 work, The Harvest, Jakes sends confusing signals as to whether or not he believes in salvation by grace through faith. He says he is “called to preach the message of the cross” and that we must “preach the Gospel as sincerely and effectively as possible,”32 which sounds good. And then he also warns of false gospels,33 which sounds even better. But as he elaborates he sounds totally confused and contradictory and leads one to wonder if he really understands the simplicity of the Gospel.

We find a heavily conditional, or works, salvation being developed and described by Jakes. His comments could also be called salvation by struggle:

“Unless the believer is willing to lose his life for Christ’s sake, he cannot ever attain everlasting life. If the Master must suffer to the point of death, so likewise must the servant.”34

Taken at face value, it appears that only martyrs or near‑martyrs qualify for heaven. Try to interpose this concept into the 16th chapter of Acts. You would have to say to the jailer in response to his question, “What must I do to be saved?”: “You have to make sure you have a martyr’s mind set or its no good.”

There is not a shred of biblical evidence for Jakes’ condition. Given his lifestyle, Jakes fails the test himself. He surely is no martyr and has very little to worry about on the material plane.

To confuse things even further Jakes declares that we must: “Die! Die and keep on dying daily until all of you is dead and only Christ lives. Death is the key to life and life more abundantly.”35 This certainly begs the question: What has Bishop Jakes died to? Surely not materialism. He needs to show us, not preach at us.

It is obvious that Jakes is uncertain as to salvation being a free gift from God as Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5 and Romans 6:23 teach. He warns about false gospels and is even so bold to say that ministers propagating false beliefs are probably greed-oriented.36 He then goes on to propose the strangest Gospel to come down the pike in a while.

Jakes’ view can be called a two-tiered salvation or a two-step salvation or perhaps a progressive graduated salvation. His imaginary salvation is based on a distortion of John 1:12-13. It goes as follow:

“Scripture teaches that receiving Christ as your personal Saviour does not necessarily make you a son of God, but if you choose to do so, the power (authority) and right to do so is present. ... Just being saved does not make you a son of God, only those who are willing to be led by the Spirit actually realize and manifest the sonship of God.”37

So in Jakes’ view being a son is not something you are, it is only something you can opt to manifest. His teaching is more at home with that of the late cult leader Herbert W. Armstrong, than with orthodoxy.38

Jakes does not realize how nonsensical he sounds when he says one can be saved and not be a son of God. Does he not realize that the terms are interchangeable and that one really means the other? Being “saved” and “being a son of God” are one in the same. The moment we exercise faith in Jesus and accept Him, we are sons. For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ,” Galatians 3:26 declares.

Jakes confounds and distorts the salvation process by making a distinction between accepting Jesus as Saviour and being a son of God. He says that these are different states arrived at in different ways. The Bible does not recognize Jakes’ false dichotomy.

The truth of Scripture regarding the riches of our salvation is summarized by Thomas R. Edgar:

“Every person who believes in Jesus Christ has their sins forgiven and is immediately justified. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer immediately upon salvation. Every believer has access to God in prayer and has other believers available for fellowship, edification, and counsel. Every Christian has all of this immediately upon justification.”39

If we were to believe Jakes, we would have to believe that receiving Christ and being saved are one thing (doing very little if anything for you, except for being a first step) and being a son of God is something entirely different that you can choose or not choose to become. So you can be “saved” but not really saved. When you decide to be led by the Spirit you then manifest son-ship.

Romans 8:1 indicates, however, that walking in the Spirit is something you can and will do because you are already a son of God. Walking in the Spirit is a privilege and the manifestation of sons. Jakes totally misunderstands and confuses salvation and sanctification.

Jakes’ other obvious mistake is that he teaches that the authority, right or power, in John 1:12, is the authority and right of the believer to do something for himself. He misses entirely the clear thrust of John’s passage which is talking about God’s authority.

We can say we are saved, we can say we are sons of God if we’ve received Christ as John 1:12 indicates based on God’s right, God’s power, God’s authority to declare that of us. It is clear from this passage that God gives the right to every believer to be named as His sons and children.

The word “become” in the verse is not to be seen as tentative in any way but as declarative as to what we become by receiving Jesus as Saviour. God’s prerogative, in John 1:12, does not become man’s prerogative no matter what Jakes says. Griffith Thomas, known throughout the Anglo-Saxon world as one of the great English scholars of modern times, conveys the thrust of verse 12: “Having received Christ as ‘Word’ and ‘Light,’ we become sons of God.”40

First John 5:12 assures us, “He that has the Son has life.” Romans 10:17 reminds us, “Whoever calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” Being saved, being sons, being a child of God, being born again, having received Christ, having faith in Christ, and being in Christ are really nuances of the same experience and standing. Receiving Christ puts us eternally “in Christ” as children and joint heirs. This privilege in Romans 8 is a position that has no condemnation, no amputation and no separation. Christ in us is the hope of glory as Colossians 1:27 announces.

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopaedia of the Bible lays out the simple Biblical truth that seems to elude Jakes:

“In the three Johannine epistles the figure of the child is brought to its fulfilment with the repetition of the apostolic love for the Church in terms of family endearment (1 John 3:10, et. al.). The legal proposition of children, inheritance, adoption, illegitimacy and naming are all used as figures of the application of the Atonement in the epistles (Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5; Phil 4:3; Heb 12:8; 1 Pet 1:4; et. al.)”41

Thus there are two “BVs” to choose from. The first, Bishop Velcro with his earthly mansions, his wealthy Rolex Jesus, his psychological trappings, the pep rallies, the questionable reading material and the truncated Gospel. Or the second BV, the old trustworthy BV — Bible verses — that tell us of mansions in glory, the man of sorrows, the provision of free grace with immediate and eternal sonship for desperate needy sinners who will in faith repent and receive Christ.

We must choose — the stakes are enormous — and eternal. Put away the Jakes materials and revisit the Bible. It will tell you the truth minus the velcro.

Courtesy: G. Richard Fisher – Personal Freedom Outreach

 

 

Well, having scrutinised the star attraction let us now take a look at the rest of the cast in this lavish production . . .

 

Jentezen Franklin

A prosperity preacher – under graduate of Kenneth Hagan, Kenneth Copeland etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. ‘Desire it, Visualise it, Confess it, Believe it, and Possess it’ . .   the 5 step neo-Buddhist theology of modern day Network-Mammonism. The, ‘all you desire is as far away as your chequebook’ kind of American televangelism, here by invitation. .  Good one Ashley!

 

TBN – Trinity Broadcasting Network, the . . . uhhh . . . plastic, Barbie-Ville trash masquerading as Christianity in the U.S hosts a regular ‘Fleece-A-Thon’ where suckers . . .  er . . . believer’s are entertained to the gills by ‘Christian’ celebrities who coercively ‘encourage’ viewers to donate lots of money – LOTS of money.

 

You would not believe some of the insane ‘words from the Lord’ offered on this program. Anything from; ‘Give now to this work and the Lord will bless you’ to . .  ‘if you don’t give now you will DIE. I wish I WAS kidding. Take this for example from TBN host Paul Crouch . . .

"God spoke to me clearly and said, 'Did I give my son Jesus on the cross expecting nothing in return?'  God bankrupted heaven and gave the best gift he could give.  He gave the best offering he could give.  What did God need?  He needed sons and daughters, he gave the very thing he needed.  You can bring God a gift fully expecting something in return.  Get to the phone!"  (Paul Crouch, TBN, Praise-A-Thon, March 31, 2004)

God BANKRUPTED Heaven???

"Have you got something that you have been praying about 10, 15, 20 years?  You have been praying for it and haven't gotten it...It could be that you haven't gotten it because you are a tightwad and you haven't given your 10%."  (Paul Crouch, TBN, Praise-A-Thon, March 31, 2004)

 

And this unbelievable . . . can’t say it . . . from Steve Munsey from the same program on March 6, 2004 . . .

 

"Your miracle is about to happen, not tomorrow, not next year, God is going to answer now!  Your finances will be fixed now, your children and grandchildren will be saved, your sickness will be healed, now!  God is going to add 15 years to someone’s life."

 

But wait, there’s more. .  If you call right now we’ll throw in a set of steak knives . . . Unbelievable!

 

And just one more to boil your blood. .  it IS boiling right? – If it isn’t SOMETHING’S wrong . . .

 

Some of you are wrestling with debt that you cannot pay off.  God told me this morning to tell you to take that credit card, God spoke expressly in my spirit, for you to sow a seed on the credit card that you want God to pay off, God said, 'let me touch that situation.'  God said, 'to tell them to put it on the card, and in 30 days they can deal with the debt and pay it off,' I am speaking a prophetic word right now...Get Jesus on that credit card, make a pledge on that credit card." - Bishop Clarence McClendon

 

Oh Father . . .

 

So . .  from this fine stable of pedigrees come these ‘heavenly insights’ from Influencer Jentezen Franklin . . .

 

"I spoke to the Lord this morning and 3,000 people need to sow a $55 seed over the next 6 months."  (Jentezen Franklin, TBN, Share-A-Thon, March 30, 2004)

"Sow a $55 grace seed, go to the phone now."  (Jentezen Franklin, TBN, Share-A-Thon, March 30, 2004)

"David put 5 stones in his bag, we would call it a purse.  5 is the number for grace, he put grace in his pocketbook.  Grace was put into his finances."  (Jentezen Franklin, TBN, Share-A-Thon, March 30, 2004)

"The Lord told me to tell you that 3,000 people that are watching, a miracle is about to begin again.  Go to the phone now and say, "I'm sowing a $55 seed."  (Jentezen Franklin, TBN, Share-A-Thon, March 30, 2004)

"Some of your ministries are at a standstill, sow a $55 seed and see what God will do."  (Jentezen Franklin, TBN, Share-A-Thon, March 30, 2004)

"Sow a $55 grace seed (Double Portion), some may criticise and not believe me.  Well, just sit there.  Some of you may get a blessing, but you won't get no money."  (Jentezen Franklin, TBN, Share-A-Thon, March 30, 2004)

 

So, miracles, ministry, grace and favour are as far away as your hip pocket! In fact, as far as Franklin is concerned, God lives in your wallet and will fill it with grace the moment you empty it. GRACE?! – the unmerited favour of God Almighty! You can see why the lost mock Him can’t you? And you can see why this kind of self sanctifying garbage REALLY gets up my nose. And people wonder why I take such issue with it being introduced here. I tell you, this stuff is the spiritual equivalent of cane toads.

 

Jentezen Franklin pastors Free Chapel Worship Centre in Gainesville, Georgia, which under his leadership grew from just 300 people in 1992 to over 5000 at present.  (it REALLY is all about the numbers!) According to the bio on the Influencer’s site, Jentezen is a ‘powerful bible teacher who truly makes the word of God come to life’. 

 

Oh, Jentezen . . . This isn’t a Steven Spielberg movie, God’s Word doesn’t HAVE to ‘come’ to life….it is the LIVING Word of God already!

Continues the spiel: “Through his [Jentezen] ministry you'll be motivated and inspired to touch God in a way that you have never known before”.

As we can observe from the Scriptures, no one ever touches God…no one can even so much as LOOK at Him because His love destroys sin…and we are full of it!

We would simply be destroyed if we ‘touched’ Him in our humanity. Come to think of it…even in glory you cannot find where we ever DO touch Him….worship Him, yes….praise Him absolutely, but not touch. Now obviously “touching God” is the figurative, ‘pente-speak’ for experiencing Divine intimacy - the touchy, feely, Christianese gobbledegook of the modern church which means diddly squat to those unfamiliar with the lingo.

Have you ever been in a foreign land with a foreign language being the barrier to your communicating with the locals? Remember that overwhelming sense of isolation? Well. .  just imagine how the unchurched deal with the stupidity of Christianese.

And as for ‘touching God’ through Franklin’s ministry . . . I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you . . . unless of course you happen to have $55 with which to purchase some of that ‘grace’ he’s on about.

Guy Sebastian

 

You know? I think Guy is a nice guy . . . a really, really good kid. A naïve young man who loves God with all his heart caught up in the materialistic, idol worshipping world of both secularism and the compromised, egocentric professing ‘church’. I look at his picture on the Influencers Conference 2006 flyer and I see in my mind a caption under it that reads: ‘Yaaay’ and I get REALLY ticked off with ALL those who leach off of his Australian Idol success in order to promote themselves – record companies, shop traders, radio stations AND Guy’s own church fellowship. I wish I could find words to adequately describe the depth of my utter disgust at the brazenness of the PCC’s self aggrandizement riding on the coat tails of Guy’s sweat and tears. Unconscionably reprehensible behaviour!

 

I don’t want to speak ill of Guy because I seriously believe he was / is an unsuspecting pawn in a game of unscrupulous agendas. I LIKE Guy. I don’t believe he was the one who should have won Australian Idol (I don’t CARE who should have won Australian Idol) but I DO like Guy and I feel saddened that he is involved with the likes of what the PCC has unashamedly become.

 

Matthew Crouch

 

Producer of the movies, The Omega Code, Megiddo and The Champion, Matthew no doubt has his heart in the right place. But while the ‘church’ may be singing his praises, the world, (those the ‘church’ is meant to reach), finds his efforts a bit of a laugh.

 

1.      “After a promising beginning, it [The Omega Code] slowly becomes muddled and confused, lost in its own sea of implausible characters and transparent plot devices”

Michael Elliott, MOVIE PARABLES

 

2.      With bad acting, hilarious dialogue, and ludicrous plot turns that make this a future candidate for Mystery Science Theater 3000 mockery, The Omega Code lurches ahead in fits and starts. If you think the final book of the Bible, Revelation, is hard to understand (and people have been struggling with it for nearly 2000 years) wait until you get a load of the last half hour of the apocalyptic thriller, ``The Omega Code.''

 

   The Omega Code'' is too confused and silly to be much of a revelation, but there is no doubt that it is a tribulation to sit through. THE OMEGA CODE runs 1:39. It is rated PG-13 for violence. The film would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up, but most kids of any age are going to be bored stiff and confused by the movie.

Review by Dave Forsmark

Flint Journal

Rating: ONE STAR

 

3.      With the material for a great parody, the movie's worst sin is that the actors, who shamelessly overact, take it all quite seriously.

Review by Steve Rhodes

© 1999 Steve Rhodes RATING (0 TO ****)

 

So, the films may have tickled the ears of those who KNOW but they failed to reach those who DON’T  . . So where was the influence? We can gong all we like, but if we fail to reach the lost with the ‘lucid’ Gospel of Jesus Christ (which is our calling). .  What is it all worth? Little more than entertainment, that’s what!

 

And just for the record, I do not share the scathing reviews of the above critics, but then I already understood what the films were saying, so I wasn’t influenced either way which was not supposed to be the objective was it? Oops!

 

Ashley Evans

 

Senior Pastor of the Paradise Community Church. (PCC)

 

The whole Influencers concept is Ashley’s puppy, and as such we need to, as a matter of course inspect the man, and the church he pastors for clues as to how and where the vision was born and where it is all going.

 

The Influencers blurb on Ashley goes like this;

 

Ashley Evans:  Ashley possesses an inspirational teaching gift and is a natural motivator. He has a unique ability to communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds, an ability greatly enhanced by an immense desire to help people.  He is down to earth, personable and believable. He has high personal integrity and sincerity, enabling him to touch the hearts and lives of a wide range of people.

 

Ashley has a good heart - seriously. He is an honest, genuine and hard working man. I know Ashley personally and have always found him to be true to pretty much all of the attributes mentioned in the above blurb. However if you will, observe the Apostle Paul just for a moment….

 

NOTHING about Paul – come to think of it…nothing about our Saviour is present nor referenced in God’s Word about any kind of charisma, power, popularity, personability, beauty, or even personal giftings - they simply were not ministerial requirements. All the Father asked and still asks is. . Surrender.

 

The saints of old were for the most part poor, unemployed, regular fellows with rough hands and big hearts full of God’s truth, and they went from place to place WITHOUT ‘attracting’ crowds and throngs. The Apostle Paul for example had opportunity to utilize huge amphitheatres in which to preach the Gospel but correctly chose to engage folk intimately. The saints of old were those who lived God’s Word and demonstrated His love in the places He led them, despite their human failings which the Word openly details. And whomever they encountered were dealt with through prayer and according to the Father’s business….NOT the business of modern ‘Churchianity’ where human faults are surreptitiously hidden behind the protective garb of ecclesiastical immunity.

 

Paul speaks implicitly of the kind of qualifications the Father considers important for ministry:

 

And as for myself, brethren, when I came to you, it was not with surpassing power of eloquence or earthly wisdom that I came, announcing to you that which God had commanded me to bear witness to. For I determined to be utterly ignorant, when among you, of everything except of Jesus Christ, and of Him as having been crucified.”  (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)  [Emphasis mine]

 

And again in 2 Corinthians 10:10 (speaking of Paul) “…For they say "His letters are authoritative and forcible, but his personal presence is unimpressive, and as for eloquence, he has none." [Emphasis mine]

 

And what of Christ Himself? Isaiah 53:2 . . .For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has neither form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him”. [Emphasis mine]

 

But you see the whole Influencers thing is about beauty and popularity and importance and bigness and numbers and influence and power and money. Nothing at all resembling the model of which the bible speaks. .  Lowliness, self abasement, humility, meekness, intimacy, sobriety and worldly detachment. It is a different Gospel folks – and that is why it is so popular. The Apostle Paul warned the, ‘church’ would be like this in these last days (2 Timothy 3:1-5) and yes, he WAS talking about ‘the church’.

 

Continues the Influencer’s accolades of Ashley: “The driving passion of Ashley's heart is to profoundly impact and influence the intrinsic values and culture of society. It is this passion that drives him to constantly strategise new ways of making the church relevant and the message of Jesus Christ easy to understand and accessible to the entire community.

 

Creation groaned for eons ageless in hungry anticipation for the arrival of Ashley Evans so that finally the Gospel could be made, ‘easy to understand’.

 

I wonder what the New Testament authors think about that. Again, what does the Word say? The Gospel is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing… Ashley! People are not saved in the HEAD but in the HEART. The Word interprets itself; you can’t understand it until you receive it – that’s the mystery and the key at the same time. (1 Corinthians 2:14) This is basic theology 101.

 

More . . . His church regularly features in the media and the recognition of Paradise Community Church in the city of Adelaide and the nation of Australia has increased significantly in the secular environment over recent years. He has been a significant part of raising the awareness of the role of Christians in society and inspired thousands of people to get involved in making a real difference to their world.

 

Hmmm, pity it isn’t working. The jails and remand centres are full; teen suicide continues to be the highest in the western world; crime (particularly youth crime) is at the highest level in recorded history; Adelaide is known as the dope capital of Australia and the list goes on. 

Now you would think if the PCC is having the societal impact it claims, it would surely be reflected in these areas – it clearly is not! It is therefore patently obvious to me that there are too many people living in cloistered little cocoons who really do need to cease playing peek-a-boo with reality. See the stats for yourself HERE.

 

And by the way, WHOSE church? This isn’t a secular press release, this is Ashley’s own bio – these are THEIR words. WHOSE church? A few months ago it was ‘Guys’ church now its Ashley’s, exactly WHOSE church is it?

 

As much as I respect Ashley I have to say I am quite dismayed at the direction in which he is leading the PCC. Ashley runs the PCC as a business and as such it appears to be quite successful.

 

Folks, our clear calling is to preach the Gospel and to make disciples of all men…. To GO into the world, not bring the world into us. Ashley is a great bloke and a consummate salesman, so it should come as no surprise that his bio be full of salesman spin, in fact the whole Influencers site is full of spin.

 

Let’s recalibrate then shall we? - for the sake of objectivity. . 

 

 

The only time the PCC ever appears in the media (which is not nearly as often as the bio implies) is to promote one of its lavish events or to receive the accolades for the media lauded accomplishments of one or more of its own members. But not just any accolades. You won’t see them taking a bow for little Billy Nobody the janitor’s son who won the grade 5 spelling bee at Backwater Elementary; but for the likes of Guy Sebastian. .  well . . you get the picture.

 

The PCC NEVER publicly takes a stand on contentious social issues such as homosexuality, abortion, feminism, false religion, evolutionism and the like, simply because (in this area) it is infinitely more important to the PCC that it be ‘popular’ in the eyes of the masses than to be biblically obedient.

 

Like most charismatic churches, the PCC is so obsessed with its ‘image’ that it will avoid any kind of controversy like the plague. Doubt me? Challenge any one of its leadership publicly (where the news cameras are rolling) as to whether a Moslem can be saved without receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour; then stand back and watch them dodge, weave and run for cover.

 

You see it is all about smooth seas and soft sell. The removal of potentially ‘offensive’ religious symbols like crosses, pulpits and signs with ‘Jesus’ on them; and words such as sin, sinner, repentance, judgement, eternal punishment and hell.  It’s about the dispensation of a truncated Gospel in order to produce spiritually stunted followers of who knows who? - and then attempt to ‘empower’ those converts to: ‘go change their world’ into who knows what.

 

I prefer the Lord’s method . .  The preaching of the FULL gospel. The teaching of the doctrine of sin (especially when it upsets someone), subsequent repentance followed by salvation by grace through faith, consequential discipleship - and the Holy Spirit taking care of the empowerment thing rather than fairy floss merchants like TD Jakes.

 

If the PCC has flourished in the midst of secularism it is surely because it has compromised the truth, watered down the Word and embraced rather than confronted the world. Jesus said His own would be hated by the world because of Him (Matthew 10:22). The PCC is near celebrated by the world, what does that tell you? In fact, not only can the PCC not see that, it actually enjoys the praises of all despite Christ’s personal warning in Luke 6:26.

 

The PCC is big, bold, brassy and brazenly blind like so many others who have trimmed their ways so as to gain the acceptance of a sin loving world. (Jeremiah 2:33) The PCC belongs to a movement that has progressively nodded off to the melodic clickity clack of wheels on a track that used to be.

 

It has become the Christian world’s version of fast food; a Mac Happy Meal with extra cheeeeeeeze. Influencers 2006 is the upgrade to a large fries and Coke.

 

 Jane Evans

 

Ashley’s wife. Titled: ‘pastor’ despite biblical forbiddance. Jane is the Director of ‘Bu’, an annual women’s event at the PCC. ‘Bu’ is a euphemism for, “Be You” . As with the whole ‘self empowerment’ ethos of the Influencers Conference,Bu’ is all about self realisation (though some would say that would be more aptly termed: self indulgence) a “Pentecostal pamper-fest for the ladies” if you will. Actually, Jane qualifies this herself in her bio on the Influencers website when she says of Bu:

 

an organisation that runs motivational events to train and equip the women of our state and nation to achieve their goals in life’

 

 Woah . .  back up some . .  Whose goals Jane? Just who is the author of your destiny and of those you are influencing?

 

Simply stated, Bu and Influencers are all about ‘self’. Speaking on the malignant evil of feminism, (rampant in charismatic circles) Dr. John Macarthur enlightens us as to the author and originator of this little brat: ‘self’ which he eloquently exposes as a regurgitation of ancient Gnosticism.

 

The heart and soul of Gnosticism is making yourself into God. It says, "You're the only god that exists. You get in tune with yourself, you find your chi, you elevate yourself - self esteem, self knowledge, self actualisation, self realisation, self empowerment, self fulfilment - whatever your self wants that's how you become God - you just give complete sway to your own self desire".

 

Echoes of the satanic lie uttered in the Garden of Eden recorded in Genesis 3:5 . . . "and you shall be as gods"  - or literally: little "elohim's"

 

Actually, one needn’t delve too deeply to discover the heart of the Influencers Conference 2006. In the opening ‘Flash script’ from American poet / philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson (and I hone in on this simply because Influencers Conference 2006 uses it as a primary endorsement)  . . . the blurb reads . . .

 

“What lies behind and what lies before are small matters compared to what lies within us.”

 

Initially inspiring, until one realizes the focus is all on what lies within US. It is an egocentric doctrine of selfish humanistic wisdom. It is ALL about self with a pseudo-sanctified veneer. Humanity is utterly vain by nature which makes this whole thing so utterly appealing - and you know, pretty soon, with all of this self esteem coursing through our veins, we will feel so good about ourselves that there will be no more need for God – which was probably Satan’s intention all along!

 

Curiously, perhaps even to the point of sinister, is the use of Emerson’s logic at all - given his eclectic philosophical worldview which attacked (and continues to do so) the fundamentals of orthodox Christianity, eventually giving rise to the rationale underpinning the patent lunacy of the Scientology movement.

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson:  (1803 – 1882) Unitarian minister and biblical heretic, supporter of the syncretism of all religious faiths, rejecter of traditional authority and supporter of individualism, a believer that the universe and the Divine are one in the same, claimed to be a ‘part or particle of the Divine’, situational ethicist, moral relativist, denier of the Trinity, a fierce Transcendentalist, proponent of self will and a ‘metaphysical absolute idealist’ who placed his faith in ‘feelings’, asserted that ‘creative imagination’ rather than ‘reason’ be the guide of an individual’s spiritual journey, and who preached adamantly the Divinity of nature. Emerson’s convictions were deeply influenced by the philosophies of Romanticism, Neoplatonism, Hinduism, Buddhism and by the likes of Immanuel Kant, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel - founder of the Hegelian Dialectic, the socialist brainwashing ethos adopted by totalitarian dictator Karl Marx and the driving philosophy behind the whole church growth movement.

 

It was the PCC who chose Emerson’s quote. Are they ignorant of his philosophy or in partnership with it? Regardless, the question begs to be asked: How does all of this reconcile with 2 Corinthians 6:14?

 

“Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness?”

 

Whether intentional or otherwise these are EXTREMELY dangerous liaisons! To use a euphemism, “When a man lies down with dogs, he rises with fleas’.   or biblically . . .

 

Don't you realize that the person who unites himself with a prostitute becomes one body with her? God says, "The two will be one."  (1 Corinthians 6:16)

 

This brings me to the endorsees of Influencers Conference 2006. The impetus clearly being on the credibility of those listed as leaders in their fields. So, how credible are they?

 

Well, let’s see . .

 

Phil Pringle: Senior Pastor of the Oxford Falls Christian City Church, a church which outputs serious Hillsong rivalling tunes and I have to say quite well. But Pastor Phil seems to have some issues . . .  this is incredible . . .

 

Phil Pringle ( PP ) - Recorded in Wellington NZ on the 19th March 2002

PP " The atmosphere you create will attract spiritual power. Spirits live in spiritual atmospheres. You can create an atmosphere that attracts God or repels God."

 

What, like a bug zapper?

PP then describes how Jesus wants to clean up certain areas, and focuses on the toilet.

PP "Jesus came to 'clean us up' ".

PP further describes how Jesus wants to clean certain areas of our lives that are 'messed up'.

PP "He wants to clean up the brown smears on the bowl".

 

Apparently, Pringle sees the Lord of Hosts – the Omnipotent Author of Life, as a kind of, ‘triune toilet duck’.

Then in reference to the atmosphere (in the toilet) PP continues . . .

PP "The power of God is a tangible force."

PP goes on to describe the power of God as 'stuff'.

PP "The stuff of God can actually live in your clothes. It can get in the carpet, it can get in your hair. The stuff of God, the anointing. This stuff can get into your body and heal it. This stuff can get into your bank account. Praise God, now we're talking amen. I need some of that in my bank account. It's imparted through the laying on of hands. It's inside your body, when you lay hands on people it travels."

 

Frightening isn’t it?

 

Well, so much for Pringle’s Parable of the Potty . . .  who else do we have here?

 

Nabi Saleh: Executive Chairman of Gloria Jean’s Coffees International to be sure but also (surprise, surprise). . . part of the eldership of the Hillsong empire under the reign of AoG glamour guru’s: Brian and Bobby Houston.

 

Denis Balan: Senior Pastor of an Assemblies of God church in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia (this has a familiar ring). The very first thing I encountered when I visited their website was a blocking alert from my antivirus software for the bravenetA tracking cookie’ Not a good start. They seem like decent people, but AoG is the clear theme which is not clearly indicated on the flyer.

 

Mark Conner: Senior Pastor of the CityLife Church in Wantirna South, Victoria. Upon surveying their website I really couldn’t fault their statements of faith which lead me to wonder what on earth they were doing hooking up with the Influencers thing – seriously. . When you’re already on a good thing Mark for Heaven’s sake stick to it!

 

Russell Evans: Ashley’s brother . . . well . . . I heard with my own ears when Russell was a pastor at the Paradise Community Church ‘prophesy’ over a 3,000 strong audience: ’someone here today has cancer and God is healing you right now’ . . . (To my knowledge no-one followed that one up – and to my knowledge no-one ever does) and again . .  ‘someone here today has a headache’ . . . oh Russell puhleeeeze . .. 

 

Alun Davies: National Vice President AoG Australia . . . hmmm - seems to be a reoccurring theme don’t you think?

 

Final Word . . . Do we change the world by gaining positions of power and influence as Ashley Evans and the Influencers Conference 2006 will most certainly insist?

 

Not in the Father’s economy!

 

Dr. John Macarthur in his book ‘Hard to Believe’ writes:

 

·   "The Kingdom of God does not advance by human cleverness. It does not advance because we have gained positions of power and influence in the culture. It does not advance thanks to media popularity or opinion polls. It does not advance on the back of public favour. The kingdom of God advances by the power of God alone, in spite of public hostility." (Hard To Believe – pg 22)

 

The Prophet Zechariah testified to this truth in Zechariah 4:6

 

And again from his book ‘Ashamed of the Gospel’ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993) Dr. Macarthur sheds further light on the whole Church Growth delusion . . .

 

·    “The philosophy that marries marketing technique with church growth theory is the result of bad theology. It assumes that if you package the gospel right, people will get saved. It is rooted in Arminianism, which makes the human will, not a sovereign God, the decisive factor in salvation. It speaks of conversion as a "decision for Christ." Such language and such doctrine have begun to color modern ministry. The goal of market-driven ministry is an instantaneous human decision, rather than a radical transformation of the heart wrought by Almighty God through the Holy Spirit's convicting work and the truth of His Word. An honest belief in the sovereignty of God in salvation would bring an end to a lot of the nonsense that is going on in the church”.

 

·  “Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. Hundreds of churches have followed precisely that theory, actually surveying unbelievers to learn what it would take to get them to attend. Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive.

 

That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church. The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God’s displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross. Something is wrong with a philosophy that relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church. It is clearly unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship in the church service. Sadly, some actually believe that their salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God—a philosophy that has opened the door to worldliness in the church”.

 

 

The Father always has and always will use the base to confound the wise, the weak to overcome the strong and the few to defeat the many, why? So that HE alone may receive the glory – HE ALONE.

 

His ways are not our ways, or His thoughts our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8)

 

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of Hosts. (Zechariah 4:6)

 

Ashley Evans should have gotten a clue by the lack of secular resistance. Influencers is all about human potential, human will, human drive, human achievement, human empowerment and human desires. Influencers is neither about nor for the Heavenly Father. Influencers is not about discovering your destiny in God, it is all about designing one for yourself – by your will, in your strength and by your own devices (called ‘giftings’ by the Jake-ites) so you can be just as Satan proclaimed: ‘a little elohim’ (Genesis 3:5)

 

Despite all the glitz and glamour and boomerang money thrown at it; despite all the hype, hysteria and hoo-ha; beyond all the allurements of fame, fortune and delusions of grandeur, the truth remains and Influencers misses it completely!

 

The Heavenly Father does not require ‘talent’ of his people, rather that they be willing; nor charisma, but humility. He does not insist His own be driven, for goats are such; but rather that they be surrendered for His lambs are led.

 

He cannot - will not employ a vessel full of itself, but rather one that is emptied in readiness of Him, one of no reputation, rather than one of renown; a vessel of weakness rather than one of strength - so that no flesh will glory in His presence.

 

This is the Father’s way.

 

Tony Dean

Director

Moriah Ministries Australia

© 2005

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Endnotes:

 1. Tim Wyatt, “Televangelist reportedly to plead guilty,” The Dallas Morning News, April 14, 1996.
 2. The Bookstore Journal, December 1996, pg. 59.
 3. Phone conversation between Jim Levy, conference speaker spokesman for Promise Keepers, and M. Kurt Goedelman,
Jan. 29, 1997.
4. Ken Walker, “Thunder From Heaven,” Charisma magazine, November 1996, pg. 37.
 5. Ibid., pg. 42.
 6. Ibid., pg. 43.
 7. Daniel G. Reid, Robert D. Linder, Bruce L. Shelley and Harry S. Stout, Editors, Dictionary of Christianity in
America. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1990, pg. 359.
 8.
Walker, op. cit., pg. 39.
 9. “East Coast Church Conference — Run with the Vision” advertisement, Charisma magazine, July 96, pg. 70.
10. See further, John MacArthur, Charismatic Chaos, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, pp. 28-31 and The Glory Of Heaven, Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1996, pp. 44-45.
11. Kaylois Henry, “Bishop Jakes Is Ready. Are You?,The Dallas Observer magazine,
June 20-26, 1996, pg. 19.
12. Ibid., pg. 22.
13. Ibid.
14. Ibid., pg. 31.
15. Jim Jones, “Rising-star evangelist ministers to interracial congregation,” The Fort Worth Star Telegram,
Aug. 11, 1996.
16. Jack Finegan, The Archaeology of The New Testament.
Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972, pp. 27-33.
17. T.D. Jakes, Loose That Man and Let Him Go.
Tulsa: Albury Press, 1995, pg. 5.
18. Ibid., pp. 8-16.
19. See further, Tal Brooke, “A Brief Look At John Bradshaw,” Spiritual Counterfeits Project Journal, Vol. 18, No. 3, pp. 4-11.
20.
Walker, op. cit., pg. 41.
21. Jakes, Loose That Man, op. cit., pp. 123-124.
22. Don Matzat, “The Intrusion of Psychology into Christian Theology,” Issues, Etc. Journal, Sept. 1996, Vol. 1, No. 9, pp. 16-17, emphasis in original. This excellent article should be read in its entirety.
23. Dr. Jay E. Adams, The Biblical View of Self-Esteem, Self-Love, Self-Image.
Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1986, pp. 39-40.
24. See further, Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis.
Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House Publishers, 1993, pp. 187-190.
25. Jakes, Loose That Man, op. cit., pg. 3.
26. See further, Henry Thiessen, Introductory Lectures In Systematic Theology.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1952, pp. 285.
27. Ibid., pg. 286.
28. Jakes, Loose That Man, op. cit., pg. 42.
29. T.D. Jakes, Why? Because You Are Anointed.
Bakersfield, Calif.: Pneuma Life Publishing, 1994, pg. 43.
30. Ibid.
31. For a sane, biblical, and far safer approach to guidance and God’s will see pages 23-37 of Jay E. Adams’ More Than Redemption.
32. T.D. Jakes, The Harvest.
Bakersfield, Calif.: Pneuma Life Publishing, 1996, pg. 10.
33. Ibid., pg. 36.
34. Ibid., pg. 28.
35. Ibid., pg. 29.
36. Ibid., pg. 37.
37. Ibid., pp. 46-47.
38. See further the PFO tract, The Plain Truth of Herbert W. Armstrong, under the heading “Salvation.”
39. Thomas R. Edgar, Satisfied by the Promise of the Spirit.
Grand Rapids: Kregal Resources, 1996, pg. 11.
40.
Griffith Thomas, The Apostle John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1965, pg. 154.
41. Merrill Tenney, Editor, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.
Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975, Vol. 2, pg. 500, emphasis added.

Courtesy: G. Richard Fisher – Personal Freedom Outreach

 

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