Jesus said on the Mount of Olives (Matt. 24) that deception would be the primary cultural sign of the last days. Even some of God’s “elect” might be deceived by false theologies. “Good would be called evil and evil good” (Isaiah 5:20). Men would substitute light for darkness and darkness for light. Apostasy would consume churches and denominations that were once solid.
And so goes the slippery slope in the Seeker Sensitive churches. The Word of God becomes obscure — almost obsolete. Surely people know how to pack their church pews, right? They make sure that the name of Jesus is mentioned, at least a few times. But the main thing is that everyone has a good time. After all, we want them to come back!
The latest is a conference and book, both by the title, "Restoring All Things," by Warren Cole Smith (World Publishing) and John Stonestreet (Colson Center and co-host of Breakpoint). These authors join a host of other "restoration movement" authors and speakers who have become prominent in the last decade. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I am sure that the leaders of the movement are not motivated by a book-selling, speech-giving, royalties-driven heart. Rather, they are leading out of an honest-to-goodness desire for a better world.
But their desire is totally misguided.
Reading Torrey's description of the apostasy, he recognized at the time he wrote the words quoted above that Christians, true followers of Jesus Christ, should recognize how much farther the "church" has fallen into apostasy. A century has passed since his writing, and with it once godly nations, which at one point contained countless local church bodies, have turned their backs on God. The truth of the gospel is no longer preached from the pulpits in those churches. The spiritualism and occultism which he recognized as invading Christianity in his day, have now so polluted the "church" that the message of the gospel is unrecognizable.
According to Brian McLaren, modern Christianity has pretty much everything wrong, and everything must change. (This includes doctrine: no salvation through Christ's death, no virgin birth no one-way to heaven. It includes the bible (archaic and barbarian). It includes church activities. (Prayer meetings and potlucks need to be replaced by protest marches.) Brian and his legions of very devoted followers unapologetically want to remake Christianity into what they call "PostModern" Christianity. A christianity for the future of the now global society, with a catechism heavily saturated with inclusion, diversity, complete personal freedom, and open-mindedness. A catechism lacking, emphatically, any spiritual absolutes.
Controversy is stirring over reports that "prophet" and speaker Chuck Pierce of Glory of Zion International Ministries ceremonially gave a "mantle" to popular radio host, author and speaker Glenn Beck, who identifies as a Mormon.
Beck appeared at Pierce's Global Spheres Center in Corinth, Texas this past Sunday, as Falma Rufus, a black civil rights speaker, had reportedly asked Pierce if he would host her family and Beck's. Pierce posted a photo of Beck's appearance later that day, which showed Beck being imparted with a spiritual "mantle" as a Jewish tallit was wrapped around him and his wife.
Religious deception and hucksterism is certainly not a new phenomenon. From Sinclair Lewis' Elmer Gantry to televangelist Jim Bakker to some proponents of the Prosperity Gospel, fictional and real life examples abound. So the revelation that Kevin Malarkey fabricated his six-year old son's account of his near-death experience (NDE) in "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven" is not shocking. In response to a letter by the now 16-year-old Alex, its publisher, Tyndale House, has announced it will no longer market the book, which has reportedly sold more than one million copies.
Yet, emerging leaders like Warren, Bill Hybels and others not only welcomed the attention, they embraced it. Thus was born the non-biblical "church growth" model for doing church. A key component of the model is consensus building. In other words, everyone from leadership to laity gets onboard with the leader's "vision" of how things should be. Over time, those dissenters who call into question the methods are quietly but rudely shown the door.
Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Saddleback megachurch leader Rick Warren will team up with Roman Catholic Pontiff Francis later this month for an interfaith Vatican conference on marriage and family.
Victoria Osteen, wife of megachurch speaker and author Joel Osteen, is standing by her controversial remarks that called upon congregants at Lakewood Church to "do good for your own self" because obedience, the church and worship are not for God as much as for self-happiness.
As previously reported, Osteen caused an online uproar in recent weeks when a video surfaced of the "co-pastor" and author of the book Love Your Life explaining to the thousands present the personal benefits that they would receive in doing good, which would make God happy.
Oprah part of team to portray God as elderly, black woman
Hollywood insiders report the next major leap for the message in William Paul Young's million-selling book "The Shack" is a first-run movie featuring the talents of Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba and Forest Whitaker.
According to an Indiewire report, Whitaker will direct and star in the Summit Entertainment film based on a book that has become iconic among evangelicals but also has drawn strong criticism for its theology.
One of the chief critics of "The Shack," James B. De Young, is a former neighbor and colleague of Young who authored a response, "Burning Down 'The Shack.'"