Friday, August 5, 2011

Jesus Culture Teachings Repudiated: Assemblies of God Rebuke Bill Johnson and Banning Liebscher's Teachings

The following is from a Position Paper of the General Prebytery of the Assemblies of God: “Endtime Revival–Spirit-Led and Spirit-Controlled A Response Paper to Resolution 16”

Deviant Teachings Disapproved
..The Assemblies of God cannot control false doctrine and practices outside its own constituency. But it does encourage its members to exercise extreme caution and avoid the abuses that discredit and bring shame on the cause of Christ. We do not wish to disfellowship sincere believers who unknowingly slip into excesses—if they are teachable and listen to the discerning judgment of the body of Christ with which they choose to identify....

God is certainly moving in the hearts and lives of people desiring His presence and praying to see His power changing lives and reclaiming that which Satan has stolen or destroyed. But along with the genuine move of the Spirit often come teachings and practices which, if not discerned and corrected, will turn the genuine move of God into shallow and misguided emotional displays. Within teachings that add to or depart from biblical truth, there is usually a kernel of truth that gets buried under the chaff of human additions and unusual interpretations of Scripture. 

Though we dare not inadvertently quench the Spirit’s work in changing lives and calling the church back to its first love and passion, we must speak out with words of caution when departure from Scripture threatens the ongoing life and stability of local churches....

The following teachings all have an element of truth in them, but as currently taught they are plagued with misleading and unbiblical elements and should be carefully avoided. In some instances a word or phrase is taken from Scripture, so it has the sound of biblical authenticity, but the application is a human creation rather than biblical truth. Many of them are appearances of earlier departures from biblical truth, and in the future they could resurface as supposedly new revelations with different names....

  • The overemphasis on identifying, bestowing, or imparting spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands and naming, supposedly by prophecy, specific gifts.

The spiritual gifts are gifts of the Spirit, distributed as He “gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11). When the Spirit empowers the gift He bestows, there is no need for anyone to assume the Spirit’s role. As the Holy Spirit inspires the operation of the gifts, the identification and confirmation will be obvious to all without assistance from humans who would share some of the glory. The greatest tragedy of such a practice is a misguided human prediction, appearing to be a prophetic utterance, that leads a believer to expect abilities and an enduement he may never have.

Paul says that gifts were bestowed through the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6),
but the biblical record neither names a specific gift Timothy received nor implies that Paul or elders had imparted the gift. The Holy Spirit bestows the gifts, not the minister who prays the
prayer for empowerment. Caution in naming specific gifts is advised until the Spirit confirms such a prophecy by the supernatural manifestation of the promised gift.

  • The problematic teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry at all levels
It is very tempting for persons with an independent spirit and an exaggerated estimate of their importance in the kingdom of God to declare organization and administrative structure to be of human origin. Reading in the Bible that there were apostles and prophets who exerted great leadership influence, and wrongly interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:23 and Ephesians 2:20 and 4:11, they proceed to declare themselves or persons aligned with their views as prophets and apostles.

Structure set up to avoid a previous structure can soon become dictatorial, presumptuous, and carnal while claiming to be more biblical than the old one outside the new order or organization. Proponents of apostles/prophets leadership stop too soon in their reading of the Ephesians 4 passage, overlooking the high calling of every office and minister of the Church: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longerbe infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will inall things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:11,12, italics added).

In Ephesians 2:20, Paul is talking about the historical fact of Jews and Gentiles having come together
to form the Church. The aorist participle in verse 20 is best translated “having been built upon the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”—a past
occurrence. The reference to apostles and prophets in Ephesians 3:5 speaks of their role in recording the inspired Scriptures as a past occurrence. The leadership of the local church, according to the Pastoral Epistles, is in the hands of elders/presbyters and deacons. These are the last of Paul’s epistles.

There is no indication in these last writings of continuing offices of apostles and prophets, though the ministry functions still continue. Prophets in the New Testament are never described as holding an officially recognized position as in the case of pastors and evangelists. They spoke prophetically to the body for edification and admonition.

When they prophesied under the inspiration of the Spirit, their ministry was noted. They could indeed have been called prophets without designating them as filling an office. A self-proclaimed prophet who dropped into a local church setting would certainly have been suspect until he was better known. And to guard against such abuses, Paul taught that all prophetic utterances should be tested by the Body (1 Corinthians 14:29).

The humility that Paul taught and modeled should be a primary character trait of every spiritual
leader. We affirm that there are, and ought to be, apostolic- and prophetic-type ministries in the Church,
without individuals being identified as filling such an office. ...

  • The practice of imparting or imposing personal leadings by means of gifts of utterance.

Instances of Spirit-prompted personal advice, contrary to common sense yet definitely of divine origin, are so infrequent that recklessly giving personal prophecies soon becomes an abuse in the body of Christ. Though Paul and Barnabas were rightfully set apart by the Holy Spirit for an unspecified work (Acts 13:2), the two still had to hear the Spirit’s direction for their specific assignments. Their call was heard by the gathered believers while worshiping and fasting, and all present, including Paul and Barnabas, were obviously persuaded that it was indeed the Spirit speaking. If the “prophesied” words are from , the Holy Spirit will also confirm the reality to the heart of the one set apart for the Spirit’s work.

  • Kingdom Now or Dominion theology
The thought that God’s kingdom can come on earth with a little help from humankind is intriguing to those who advocate this approach to impacting society. Rather than scoffing at the promise of Christ’s imminent return (2 Peter 3:3,4), this errant theology says that Jesus will not return until the Church takes dominion of the earth back from Satan and his followers. By taking control, through whatever means possible, of political, ecclesiastical, educational, economic, and other structures, Christians supposedly can make the world a worthy place for Christ to return and rule over.

This unscriptural triumphalism generates other related variant teachings.
  • Manifest Sons of God and Joel’s Army
 These are some of the names used to describe those who have caught the vision of the Kingdom Now and are actively at work seeking to overcome the opposition and declaring Christians who hold a biblical understanding of Christ’s imminent return at any time to be cowardly for not joining the “anointed,” as they sometimes call themselves.

Without question, the Old Testament Book of Joel includes many endtime references. But the great and powerful army in Joel 2 is one of terrible locusts, an instrument of judgment on Israel. After Israel’s repentance, the army of locusts is destroyed by the Lord. Only after this destruction of the instrument of judgment does the promised revival come. “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28). It is a complete misinterpretation of Scripture to find in Joel’s army of locusts a militant, victorious force attacking society and a non-cooperating Church to prepare the earth for Christ’s millennial reign.
  • Spiritualizing Biblical Events and History
There is certainly nothing wrong with finding parallels between historical biblical events and the application of biblical truth to life today—for edification and encouraging spiritual growth. But when those events are forced into a strained application of endtime events, thinking Christians should be on the alert. The Bereans of Acts 17:10,11 were commended because they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things [that Paul was teaching] were so.”
A teaching announced as the revelation of a new truth should be checked out very carefully. Pentecostals have become accustomed to anointed and dynamic preaching. But hearing a teacher speak with authority and self-confidence does not make the teaching true. It must always line up with Holy Scripture. Personal charisma is no substitute for biblical authority.
  • The Prosperity Gospel.
The preaching of a prosperity gospel has increased giving to some programs, both legitimate and less than legitimate. God does bless faithfulness, but the blessing is not always financial gain. There are spiritual principles of sowing and reaping, but to draw money from the poor to support an affluent personal lifestyle is unconscionable. If we one day will have to give an account of every idle word tthew 12:36), it seems reasonable that we will have to account for every dollar solicited by dubious methods. A biblical teaching should be applicable in every neighborhood, culture, society, and country of the world.

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