new apostolic reformation

A Romantic Jesus

Does Scripture teach Jesus is our individual Husband and Lover?  We have seen enough posts about this idea from the girls on the World Race to know this is exactly what they are being taught by Adventures in Missions. 

What is this Bridal Paradigm being taught among NAR teachers? “According to bridal paradigm doctrine, the whole Bible is the story of God’s seeking a suitable mate for His Son. Jesus is pictured as a lovesick suitor who is passionately awaiting the time when He will be reunited with His beloved Bride. While the New Testament does use the metaphor of the Bride of Christ, the bridal paradigm takes the metaphor to an extreme, teaching that it is the primary picture of the Church and that each individual believer is the Bride…Teachers of the bridal paradigm place a heavy emphasis on their highly allegorized interpretation of the Song of Solomon. In their view, the book is more than a depiction of sensual love between a husband and wife; it is a metaphor of Jesus and the individual believer…”

How does this work for the men?? We haven’t yet seen a post where a male Racer claims Jesus as Husband and Lover.  For this we should be thankful. There is the potential for this of course.  Here is an article sharing our concerns about this romantic Jesus,

“Can you imagine zealous praying young men who relate to Jesus (ie. another MALE) as a “lover” whom they kiss and ‘swoon’ over? Can you imagine what happens when this becomes their basic approach to God? -And this is just the beginning of the gender- bending weirdness that is starting to become “normal” in this movement. (Some are in such deception that they even have experiences of “Jesus” kissing them on the mouth, etc. The movement itself warns against “sensual encounters” but their very teaching leads directly to this kind of thing. Deceiving spirits are always super-active in this kind of environment….It is a very serious thing to tamper with our understanding of ‘WHO GOD IS’ and how we relate to Him. In a lot of ways it is like preaching “another Jesus”. -It really is that bad. If you hear phrases today like ‘Lovesick for Jesus’, ‘Bridal Paradigm’, “Bridal intimacy”, “Inflamed heart”, ‘Romancing’, “Ravished”, ‘Fascinated’, etc, then you can be pretty sure that you are being exposed to this deceptive doctrine. I believe it is serious error, and I urge you to flee from it as far as you can, my friends.”

This horrendous, blasphemous teaching diminishes Christ as Holy God and exalts us.  This is not the biblical Jesus, but rather an idol of their own making.  

Considering most of the young women on the World Race are single, surely they are struggling to remain pure.  Living in close quarters in tents, houses, and buses while sharing bathrooms etc. likely makes it even more difficult.  This unbiblical “romantic Jesus” could certainly be what the powers of darkness would use to lure these young women into deception and even sin.

While we point out what these Racers have written, it is evidence of the faulty teaching they are getting starting at Training camp.  The Racers are then sharing these ideas through their blogs and also with those they meet to serve while on the Race. They bear responsibility for what they teach without testing it against Scripture. However, we lay the initial and heaviest blame with AIM leadership.

This Racer shares  how she changed her thinking after being under this teaching,

“For the last few months on the race it seems like all the girls on my squad have been talking and writing blogs about their marriage to Jesus which made me very uncomfortable… I listened… I read… I played along, but all along in my head I scrunched up my brow and walked away from their weird ideas.  God is my father… The idea that God could both be a husband and a father to me is very strange thus I shut that idea down… Until… God didn’t let me ignore this part of Him anymore.”

  The teaching she received changed her mind, “  That is why God not only is Leah’s Father but also her Lover… her Husband…My Father… My Lover… My Husband… “

This Racer’s post is a good example of how they consider Jesus as Lover, (If you believe our link from purity temptations and this romantic Jesus seem farfetched, other posts from this same Racer written a few months later tell us we are not far off.)

“The past few days, I have been completely blessed by my new Husband (still so weird to say that – but I am loving seeing this facet of God). He has just be romancing me with sweet little blessings. He has been answering the tiniest of my prayers, and truly showing me that He is listening – to ME.”

She does not share a Scripture for this idea at all in this post.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, not each individual.  This Scripture should be our starting point and could not be clearer.

 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of His body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Eph 5:25-32

The Racer continues, “Although I have felt God’s love for me, I have been struggling with my self image a lot this month… “

Clearly most young girls struggle with this.  The key, however, is not to turn inward and focus on our own esteem, but rather to keep our eyes fixed on HIM.  Scripture informs us that “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8. He loved us in spite of our sin and unworthiness because He IS love.  We worship and serve Him out of gratitude.  Our value is in HIM, not within us.

Continuing she says,

“All of that may have played into my date with Jesus the other night. As y’all know, I am beginning a multi-faceted relationship with my Creator in order to try and delve even deeper into Him. So, of course I am “dating” Him. I do so using an exercise I actually learned at training camp for the world race. In one of our many break out sessions, It was focused on having an intimate relationship with Jesus. I suggest everyone at least tries this exercise. I did it last month with a group of high school/college students in Zimbabwe and it was rather fun.Essentially you are just going on a date, in your imagination, with Jesus. Once you do this exercise a couple times it gets easier. Your mind has more fun with it, and it truly adds another layer to your relationship with Christ.”

This is unbiblical.  Scripture does not instruct us to do this.  This is not missionary work.

She goes on to describe having tea with Jesus…

“I feel like that date with Jesus is Him romancing me even more than He has been this month. Him trying to tell me that even if I don’t feel beautiful right now – He sees His creation and says it is Very Good. He created me exactly how He desired me to be. From the color of my hair, to the height of my stature – He planned it.

Out of all that He created, when He looks at YOU and I – He says it is very good. When He looked at Victoria Falls, He said it was good. When He looked at the sunset, or the ocean – it was only good. When He looked at all the stars in the sky, the sun, and the moon – it was good… But, when He looked at YOU and I – that is when He caught His breath and said this is VERY good. 

Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”

Who am I to doubt the wonders of His creation? Who am I to think that I am not beautiful just because I don’t have piles of man made gunk on my face?”

Truly, we understand the need for a girl to feel beautiful.  The enemy surely knows this weakness and he uses it to tempt us to despair.  We are absolutely made in the IMAGE of God.  The subtle missing information here is that because of Adam’s sin, we cannot be described as very good any longer. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” Rom 5:12

Just a few chapters later in Genesis the ENTIRE “very good” creation was proven to be corrupt and God destroyed it in the flood, saving eight people found to be obedient. 

Gen 6:5-6 “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” Gen 8:21 (see also Jer 17:9, Rom 3:12)

She continues, “…You were made to stand out, because you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:14 “I  praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

You are worthy. You are special. You are beautiful. You are strong.”

Here is the problem:  David was not giving himself a pep talk, he was PRAISING GOD, because HIS works are wonderful.  This is praise of our Creator and His character. It describes His omniscience (vs 1,2), His eternality (vs 5), His incomprehensibility (vs 6), His omnipresence (vs 7-9), His self-sufficiency (vs 10), His self-existence, His omnipotence, His sovereignty, His immutability, on and on.  It is a psalm written to create awe of God, not awe of ourselves.

“Whenever you get one inch above the ground

in your own esteem, you are that inch too high!” Spurgeon

We are only found worthy if we are covered by Christ’s robe of righteousness, otherwise we have nothing lovely about us.  If your sins are covered by His blood, focus on the object of your faith, Christ, and stop focusing on you.  Otherwise it is a never ending cycle of disappointment.

“…I went on another date with Jesus a couple days ago. I think He is still trying to romance me, which I am absolutely loving. Here is our date:
Jesus and I headed out for a picnic…He sat facing me. I asked Him “don’t you want to sit where you can see the falls?” He replied “no, I am looking at what I think is the most beautiful”. To that I blushed, then He said “I love it when you blush”. He pulled out mashed potatoes, chicken breast, and Frank’s Red Hot sauce for our meal. I smiled, as I thought – He knows me so well. I asked Him “how are you?” He replied “I am great, I am spending time with you”. I thanked Him for spending time with me and told Him that I appreciated it. I stated that I couldn’t imagine how busy He was. He told me that “I have all the time in the world, and I am not spending time with you just because you want to spend time with me. I am spending time with you because I want to spend time with you”. “

In these two dates, Jesus wanted me to feel loved. He wanted me to know how beautiful He knows I am, and He wanted me to realize that He loves spending time with me. It isn’t an obligation! 

This was all in her imagination and uniformed by God’s Word.  Each one of us has much too high a view of ourselves. She has not referenced that she learned this about God from Scripture, but from the false teaching at training camp.  There seems to be no recognition that God is to be feared with reverential trust.  It is all about ME. 

Isaiah responded properly to an ACTUAL vision of God. How does her imaginings compare?

Recognition of guilt. Is 6:5 “I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Receiving His Grace Is 6:7 “And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Response of Gratitude and Service 6:8-9 ““Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

God is love, (1 John 4:16) but if Jesus said in Matt 7:11, “If you then, who are evil…” and we learn in Mark 10:18 that no one is good but God. Then it must be loving for Jesus to say that as truth. While His character is love the Bible also says, “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.” Psalm 7:11

“The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you—your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything—then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … True Godliness leaves the world convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only explanation for you, is Jesus.” (Major Ian Thomas)

Again the connection to what IHOP teaches is easily made, here and here.

“I moved here to KC (Kansas City IHOP) 2 years ago to attend [the Prayer Center]… I have been so confused by the whole up-sweep of the “Bridal Paradigm” and ravished heart of Jesus and Song of Solomon. I cannot relate to Jesus as romantic lover, nor do I want to!! I am trying to have clean thoughts and a pure heart. I want a Godly husband to be that for me, to model Christ’s love and headship. All my friends tell me, “Jesus is your husband – let Him be your first love and your provider”. As if I should shun men and give up on the idea of marriage.”

“I too have been concerned about this for a while. In particular I have seen much written about intimacy without any reference to obeying the revealed will of God. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” The intimacy emphasis is not just out of balance, it is dangerously soulish, promising emotional experiences and opening up the way to deceiving spirits if pursued too far.”

“There is a strange message behind this Bridal Paradigm. -It was shown at the CALL in Kansas City. I was there. I witnessed this. There was a call to all those young people who were in attendance at this KC gathering and a few older – to pledge a marriage covenant right then that night to be MARRIED to Christ.” (Gary Black from AIM is connected to this)

“There was a Marriage Canopy held up for a marriage procession as hundreds marched under it as to become covenantly married to Christ. They made it seem so righteous and holy – So – many threw away their discernment and followed the leaders – forgetting that the marriage actually takes place in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

There is no individual marriage for those who are redeemed in Christ here on earth.  The marriage supper takes place in heaven as the church of all the redeemed of history are presented to the Lamb who took away our sins.

Rev 19:1 tells us this scene is in heaven…vs 6-8 “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult
and give Him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

There is no hint of romance or praise of us here, all the Glory goes to Christ and the Father that sent Him to save us.

The verses just before this marriage say, “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,

Praise our God, all you his servants,
you who fear him, small and great.”

Part 2- Emotional Manipulation-Creating a Genuine Addiction?

The manipulation and potential for addiction begins at the World Race training camp.

This is where some parents will lose children to a different spirit.  It is here that those children will walk away from the faith in which they have been raised. 

In a blog titled, Ecstasy and the Holy Spirit, this Racer had a “worship” induced experience that she related to her own personal experience with the drug Ecstasy. She readily admits to having no Biblical basis for what she experienced, nor does it seem that AIM leadership offered her one. This fact completely disqualifies the experience as being from God as it is not tied to truths revealed in His inspired Word.  

Again, we reiterate that we are concerned with what this organization and leadership are teaching and with the manufactured experience they create apart from any truth.  We have genuine concern for this young girl.  She recalls in her post:

“So at training camp we had a “Holy Spirit night” I just went in thinking it was another worship session with a message like the rest. I loved worship at training camp, we would worship for hours & I truly connected to Jesus in a way I never had before. It was amazing. But still, I had never experienced anything like this before.”

“Holy Spirit night”??  This is the first evidence of a manufactured experience.  There is nowhere in scripture where we are instructed to order the Holy Spirit to come at a set time and place.  

“After a quick message about who the Holy Spirit is (He’s God by the way, His spirit). The speaker said, but let’s stop talking about him, why don’t we just experience him & let him show himself to us. Don’t be afraid, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman

Notice that the focus is NOT on Scripture but on experience.  Also note the odd extra-biblical terminology about the Holy Spirit being a “gentleman.”  We will comment further on that later.

“Then the speaker asked the whole room to sit down, close our eyes & pray. A leader would come around, touch our shoulder & say a prayer over us. We’re going to invite the Holy Spirit here tonight basically.

After a while of sitting there I gradually stood up & joined in the singing. I was so peaceful I could have stood there forever. I remember just having my eyes closed most of the time because being there in his presence was so incredibly good I didn’t even want to open my eyes to distraction.

There were times I would lift my hands up so high but then again, times where they were completely by my side basking in his presence. Soaking up every little moment.

And yes, I truly didn’t want it to end. And I wasn’t ready when it did.

After who knows how much time (maybe 2 hours?) the band wrapped up & our team of 45 odd were asked to move into another room for a meeting.

So we all spilled outside & started making our way to another room. I just remember being SO dazed I could hardly walk straight. I could hardly hold a conversation, I would just smile at people walking past & they would smile at me. The girl I was walking next too said “wow everyone is still so full of the spirit” and I knew exactly what she meant. How strange this feeling! How amazing & strange.”

The Holy Spirit indwells all true believers, thus, if this were a gathering of Christians, there would be no need to “invite” Him to be there.

There is NOT ONE testimony in Scripture of this being a normal response to worship.  This is a huge red flag.

“Then when we got into the room & sat down, again I could hardly concentrate on what was happening; I was still just sitting there feeling on cloud nine. I would have been completely happy just stroking the person next to me. But its ok, I didn’t!

It took a good hour or more after that session for me to start feeling normal. And by normal I mean, not incredibly high on His spirit.

The whole point of this story is to say, it was ecstasy. Complete ecstasy. I spent the next day or so quizzing as many people as I could about this feeling, some understood, some didn’t. Maybe some felt something different to me but still amazing?

Anyway, after having MANY drugs in past, I know what pure ecstasy feels like. Notttttthing compared to the feeling that night. But that is the closest feeling I can relate it to.”

Note the self-centered focus here.  As we have stated in other posts, the role of the Holy Spirit is to point us to the finished redemptive work of Christ on the cross.  Although all believers are indwelled with the Spirit, being filled with the Holy Spirit is a continual process of mortifying our sinful flesh as we submit to Him, abide in Him, and obey His word.  The result is our ongoing sanctification; growing in holiness and becoming more and more like Christ.  All of this results in God being glorified.  

This post mentions nothing about the redemptive work of Christ or the glory of God.  It is entirely centered on the FEELING that was obtained, a feeling likened to that of a mind-altering drug.  It is clear that the spirit who visited this Racer was not the true Holy Spirit.  

“So I have wondered heaps about this… My totally un-theologically-tested or justified thoughts are…

God made us. He made us to feel feelings. He made every part of our body. If He wants us to feel something, He can make that happen.”

Demons can easily do this otherwise we would not be warned to “test the Spirits” John 4:1.  We are also warned in 2 Cor 11:14, “…for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 

“Yes man made ecstasy, to try & replicate a feeling that only God can give properly. That of course, will ultimately lead to self-destruction.

And I think God wanted to show me that. He is the creator of us, so powerful that just being in His presence can saturate you in ecstasy. If He wants too!

I don’t think this is a thing that will happen all the time. I might become an addict if so… But it certainly is a thing I’ll be striving for each time I head into worship now. Striving just to connect deeper & deeper with his presence. I can’t wait to share this with people all over the world, some who won’t even speak the same language as me. We will all understand Gods spirit. And I just thank Him for showing me this side of Him, how beautiful & surprizing.”

She has been told a lie.  She has been taught to experience something demonic.  Only the redeemed have God’s spirit.

JD Hall, pastor and writer on Pulpit and Pen, is also an addictions counselor, after reading this Racer’s blog advised,

“{this} sounds like addiction-transfer, which is very common for addicts and alcoholics. It’s when you give up one mind-altering addiction for another. This one may not be chemical in nature, but is still mind-expanding and probably helps (so it seems) with dopamine restriction in the brain. When, in fact, it’s demonic.”

In Part 1, we mentioned that there is potentially a genuine addictive element to these spiritual experiences.  The Racer admitted that she will seek this more and could “become an addict”. This knowledge begins to unravel why so many are drawn into this cult-like organization, why they cannot leave, and why so many seem to be unable to process what they have seen and experienced.  The leaders are creating an frightening avenue for Satanic deception. 

We continue to contend that if the pure Gospel were evident we would be having a different discussion about manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  However, there is no Gospel (see other posts on this) so we can be confident that the Holy Spirit is not at work here in man-made worship experiences that are void of any Truth. 

Here are a few sources related to the addictive possibilities of a manipulated religious experience, specifically “centering prayer”, which is synonymous with Seth’s Listening Prayer book that the Racers are required to read.

  • “the “Christian” mysticism taught in Spiritual Formation courses… is not Christian, and is in fact identical to classic occultic meditation practices taught in Hinduism, Buddhism, wicca, paganism, etc.  The technique is always the same: corraling one’s thoughts through the use of some device (mantra, breathing, etc.), entering into an altered state of consciousness, then “listening” to God.  This is not Christian.  This is what pagans do. And wiccans. And Buddhists. And Hindus.  

And just like with crack, a [Spiritual Formation/Listening Prayer] user will have to come back over and over again, trying to find that elusive high, trying to get another spiritual charge.  Christians “listen” to God through the study of scripture, not through using a mantra meditation to alter their state of consciousness so they can get a little spiritual “bump” from God.”

Thomas Merton said, “Isn’t it a pity that people are going into LSD to have spiritual experiences, when we have a tradition in the Church [contemplative(listening) prayer] which no one knows anything about?” (Thomas Merton, from a letter he wrote to fellow mystic Matthew Fox) The thing that Merton (like all mystics before him and since) didn’t understand is that mystical meditation is far more dangerous than drugs. Entering into an altered state of consciousness is playing with spiritual dynamite, and not in a good way. source

 

  • A study from Philadelphia’s Jefferson Myrna Brind Center’s shows,

“Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg has used brain imaging to study the brains of nuns in prayer and found that the images of brain activities, especially blood flow to certain areas, were very similar to those in psychedelic drug users. He also found that the changes in the brain caused by both prayers and psychedelics were permanent.”

In a book he wrote, Andrew shows, “Through his brain-scan studies on Brazilian psychic mediums, Sufi mystics, Buddhist meditators, Franciscan nuns, Pentecostals, and participants in secular spirituality rituals, Newberg has discovered the specific neurological mechanisms associated with the enlightenment experience—and how we might activate those circuits in our own brains.”

When Newberg scanned the brains of nuns and Buddhists undergoing mystical experiences, they reported feelings of timelessness, spacelessness, and self-transcendence. Newberg believes a cause of these feelings is the reduced activity he saw in their parietal lobes, the orientation area of the brain responsible for perceiving three-dimensional objects in space. A meditator may experience a sense of oneness with all living things or unity because the reduced activity blurs the perceived lines between the meditator and other objects.”

We are left to ask the question…Would the true Holy Spirit of God mimic false religions??

The Racers are taught “Listening Prayer” which is an unbiblical practice, have a steady diet of hyped up worship sessions, have left the security of their church and their families, and are then told to abandon everything.

“One major lesson World Racers learn is abandonment – of their possessions, their right to personal space, and even control of their schedules. Some Racers have this lesson forced on them by circumstances during the Race.”  

AIM creates an environment that can lead to mind altered states.  They then convince Racers that God is “speaking” and is leading them to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.  This is cultic manipulation.

At Adventures in Missions, Seth Barnes has set himself up as Spiritual Father.  Those under him that teach, lead, and prophesy over the hundreds of young people in this demonic experience should be duly warned by the Savior Himself.

Jesus said, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matt 18:6

True believers have the Holy Spirit residing in them.  Demons cannot inhabit a truly redeemed person. 

“What harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” 2 Cor 6:15-16. 

At the time of our salvation we are delivered from and protected from the indwelling of Satan.

Col 1:13, “ He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

We can, however, be deceived. We must each examine our own faith to know if it is genuine, the books of James and 1 John were written for this purpose. 2 Cor 13:5 says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Jonathan Edwards says, “Scripture describes conversion in terms which imply or signify a change of nature: being born again, becoming new creatures, rising from the dead, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, dying to sin and living to righteousness, putting off the old man and putting on the new, becoming partakers of the divine nature, and so on…In Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither a dramatic experience nor a quiet one, neither a wonderful testimony nor a dull one, counts for anything. The only thing that counts is a new creation.” (The Experience That Counts! p. 99).

This article on the counterfeit Holy Spirit is very informative. 

“So – what is the true Holy Spirit and how does it function? All true Christians are indwelt with the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. When this happens, the Holy Spirit comes to live and dwell inside each newly born-again Christian until their time on this earth is over. The Holy Spirit has many functions, among them bringing conviction over sin and illuminating Scripture.

False religions do not have this indwelling of the Holy Spirit taking place within their adherents. So what’s a Devil to do? Well, he’ll just do what he’s always done, and rather successfully at that: create some kind of counterfeit experience to mimic a real blessing given by God to true Christians… The first meditation I ever did at age 20 left me utterly convinced that I had experienced the presence of God. In hindsight, I believe that this encounter truly was supernatural. The Bible tells us that Satan himself can masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). So I ask you: would Satan be so bold as to actually pretend to be God? Of course he would. He’s no gentleman.”

Ironically, this is the terminology the Racer above used!  Satan’s lies would be to make us believe he is.

“It’s not like he would say to himself, “Well, that would be deceitful, I can’t do that!” More like this: “That’s deceitful – awesome!! I wonder how many times I could trick people into thinking they’re encountering God before somebody starts to catch on?” And Satan was more than happy to give me an “experience” if it would turn me away from the one true God.  Something else happened during my first meditation that I didn’t realize until years later. I came out of that FIRST meditation session with an altered worldview

Here is a testimony of a man who practiced this.

“Before I became a Christian I was involved in the occult.  One of the practices I would undergo when trying to contact the spiritual realm and/or trying to receive some mystical experience would be to empty my mind, remain motionless, and completely open myself up to receive whatever would come.  Essentially, I was seeking an altered state of consciousness and contact with the spiritual world.  This is one of the hallmarks of occult practices and it opens the person to demonic contact.

This centering, this emptying of the mind was a physical and mental process of stillness, waiting, non-thinking, and expecting to have a spiritual experience.  It worked.  Using these techniques I have seen lights move in darkness, a bright yellow cross materialize out of thin air, and I’ve heard voices calling me from the darkness.  I’m not exaggerating.  I was not on drugs, medicated, drinking, or sleep deprived.  I definitely contacted something in the spirit realm.  But, it wasn’t God.”

God wants us to pray to Him through his Son, Jesus Christ, as we meditate on God’s word.  We are not to empty our mind and “feel” whatever we may.  Obviously this can manufacture a false and potentially demonic emotion.

We are commanded to worship the Lord in spirit and truth, John 4:23, consisting of a proper heart attitude and consistent with the revealed Scripture, centered on Christ.

The true Holy Spirit would never affirm error, thus these “experiences” are not centered on truth.  We rarely see Christ magnified in any of the Racers blogs.  This is an obvious warning sign.

Final thoughts from this testimony.  We echo this plea in our efforts to save others from the deception at AIM.

“My hope is that the young people there who are much like I was will begin to question what they see and compare it with what the scripture actually says…not how Mike Bickle (or Seth Barnes) twists and teaches it…

and that they have the courage to identify it and reject it. Those who oppose IHOP (AIM) and speak out typically experience some kind of consequences or backlash.

People are a commodity there. They are traded. When wounded ones leave, IHOP (AIM) leadership doesn’t sweat over it…new and unsuspecting people (RACERS) who are ignorant of their dangerous devices but are hungry for emotionally-driven experiences and spiritual highs will come back in the same door the others left. It’s a revolving door of deception.”

AIM and the New Apostolic Reformation

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle. Leading figures in this seemingly loosely organized movement claim that these prophets and apostles alone have the power and authority to execute God’s plans and purposes on earth. They believe they are laying the foundation for a global church, governed by them. They place a greater emphasis on dreams, visions and extra-biblical revelation than they do on the Bible, claiming that their revealed teachings and reported experiences (e.g. trips to heaven, face-to-face conversations with Jesus, visits by angels) can not be proven by the ‘old’ Scripture. 

This article discusses common lingo and beliefs of this movement We have compared their definitions of various terms with Seth Barnes’ definition of the same words.

 1) Apostles NAR Adherents believe, “There are new Apostles are on the earth today, anointed by the laying of hands to represent and speak for God here on Earth.”

While arguing that the office of apostleship is not limited to the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ Seth states ,

“Apostles in the Bible are usually establishing new ministry involving groups of Christians, also known as churches. They are pioneers. In our modern world, we might view them as spiritual entrepreneurs. So his definition could apply to anyone….Choose your own words – the Bible uses the word apostle. Maybe it seems strange or foreign. Perhaps the word pioneer works better for you. Can a woman pioneer kingdom work in dark and hopeless places? The Bible doesn’t prohibit it.”

There are 2 uses of the word apostle in scripture.  While one refers generically to messengers for Christ, the other refers to the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ who held a unique position with unique requirements.  As this article states, The qualifications were: (1) to have been an witness of the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1), (2) to have been explicitly chosen by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:15), and (3) to have the ability to perform signs and wonders (Acts 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:12).  The role of the twelve apostles, laying the foundation of the church, would also argue for their uniqueness. Two thousand years later, we are not still working on the foundation.”  The 12 apostles of Jesus and Paul are the only ones who have ever met these requirements.  We are warned repeatedly of those claiming to be apostles today. 

2 Corinthians 11:13 warns, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”

2) Kingdom-Typical of the NAR,”Rather than preach the Gospel of the cross, Apostolic leaders are working to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth” (see our posts,  Missing the Gospel and A Different Gospel)

From Seth’s blog, very common use of this word…Kingdom Dreams and Kingdom Reality

3) Destiny-“(NAR proponents) teach that our purpose is to achieve our dream destiny so that we can change the world.”

From Seth...Reaching our Destiny, he also says, “God has a message for you: He has made you for greatness. And until you embrace this hope, you will never achieve all that He has planned for you.”

In contradiction, James 4:6…God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

We are not great…He is.

Isaiah 6:3-“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His Glory.”

Isaiah’s response in vs 5 ” Woe is me! For I am a man of unclean lips…”

4) Revival-Another NAR characteristic, “There is a strong emphasis on an “end times harvest” through a great awakening that we can usher in”

From Seth,“Many of you have already heard of The Awakening, a worship conference we do for World Racers in the field. Update on the Awakening, “We have an evening service and Andrew Shearman has been preaching his signature message, “The 42nd Generation.” After the service, we minister. Tonight, the place was up for grabs. Ministry was happening all over the place. The Holy Spirit was landing on people and they lit up like fireworks.”

5) UnityFor NAR adherents,“Unity (at the expense of biblical doctrine) is almost always used as both the how and the why in this movement.  Unity for the sake of bringing Heaven to Earth is leading to the blurring of doctrinal and denominational lines, often bringing together well-known leaders of charismatic, reformed, Word of Faith, seeker-emergent, progressive and Roman Catholics churches, all under one umbrella.”

See our other posts regarding his praiseworthy men to see who Seth believes we should be united with .  False teacher and “healer” Todd Bentley is one example.  Seth states that “[God] often seems to be more concerned with our healing than he is with our theology.” 

Unity without the Word of God as the source of truth, leads to seeing false teachers as shepherds. 

“If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing…”1 Tim 6:3-4

6) Denies the Sufficiency of Scripture“NAR adherents may believe in the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, but God’s breathed-out Word is just not enough for them. Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins is not good enough; the promise of eternal life in Heaven is not good enough.”

Seth advises this doctrine is heresy,

“In a prior blog, I took on the heresy that some in the evangelical church espouse which states that God doesn’t speak to us outside of the Bible. Peter Wagner (NAR “apostle”) calls those who effectively worship the Bible “Bible Deists….The Bible gives us example after example of a God who speaks not only through his Word, but also through circumstances, through others, through dreams, impressions, and numerous other means. He used a rooster to convict Peter of his faithlessness.”

For more information. We highly recommend Drunk in the SpiritThis is a very good overview of the New Apostolic Reformation movement.   It provides examples of what they teach and clips of the leading “apostles and prophets” of this movement.

 

 

 

 

 

Mentors, Influences, Praiseworthy Men

On several occasions Seth Barnes has blogged about authors whose writings have influenced him. 

His posts on the most transformative books he has read  part 1and part 2 include books written by false teachers Bill Johnson and Peter Wagner, as well as mystics Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, and Frederick Buechner.

In his post titled 11 Books in 11 Months Seth lists books that he feels will help young people on the World Race grow spiritually during their 11 months abroad.  His list includes many of the same authors. (Interesting that he puts his own book on the list)

For those who are not familiar with some of these authors/teachers, information is provided below.

Bill Johnson of Bethel Church:

  • Bill’s theology embraces a doctrine that teaches that during His earthly ministry Jesus operated only as a man and not God. Johnson claims that Christ laid aside His divinity. Johnson says, “He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God . . . . not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us”
  • Seth quoting Bill Johnson: “Our hearts know there is much more to life than we perceive with our senses; we are spiritually agitated by our lack of connection with the realm of the supernatural.”
  • Praise  “Bill Johnson is a favorite of racers.”

Peter Wagner-New Apostolic Reformation founder and “apostle and prophet”

  • Founder of the Wagner Institute is an international network of apostolic training centers…to meet the needs of leaders who have become a part of the New Apostolic reformation…….new teaching paradigm—impartation and activation—coupled with world-class instruction from proven apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in an intimate classroom setting…
  • quote Seth says, “The book of “Acts” (by Peter Wagner)  is the best text on missions ever written…As a missionary and as the father of five, I took my kids through it over the course of a year”

Todd Bentley-NAR anointed- “apostle and prophet”

  • Praise from Seth “My initial opinion was more strongly focused around Bentley’s flaws, but since then I’ve moderated my perspective with the understanding that God doesn’t have servants who have fixed their sin issue, so he uses the flawed servants who are available and hungry…Whatever else he was, Bentley was hungry and available.  The issue is not, “Did God show up and change lives through what Bentley ignited in Lakeland?”  The answer to that question is “yes…be prepared to also consider the good fruit that he has produced there. To do otherwise is to risk missing God.” video of Lakeland

Jack Deere (Former Professor, Dallas Theological Seminary)

“Jack Deere believes the sufficiency of Scripture is a demonic doctrine, undermining our ability to hear His audible voice …”one of Satan’s most successful attacks has been to develop a doctrine that teaches God no longer speaks to us except through the written word. Ultimately, this doctrine is demonic even though Christian theologians have been used to perfect it.”  1990 Conference by Jack Deere, Cited by Mark Thompson in The Briefing, April 24, 1990

Frederick Buechner (American writer and theologian)

 What is the meaning of a Christian?  In his book Listening To Your Life, Christian author Frederick Buechner provides us with his compelling view on this question:
“… it is possible to be on Christ’s way and with his mark upon you without ever having heard of Christ, and for that reason to be on your way to God though maybe you don’t even believe in God.”

Seth on Buechner’s Listening to your life “I just love to read Buechner – he is so deep. This book is like a “greatest hits” of his other writings…I don’t know if it’s possible for wisdom to rub off just by reading it over and over, if it is, then put this one next to your Bible.”

There are also several websites/blogs/magazines that Seth recommends on his blog.  Information on these listed below. 

Wrecked.org

Wrecked is another website run by Seth Barnes. (Looks like this is not an easily accessible page any longer when on their site. Hopefully this link will continue to work, the quotes below are copied from it.)He links to this site at bottom of the  Adventures website as a related site.  Here is how they describe friends.

“Friends-Wrecked for the Ordinary is a non-profit group dedicated to sharing stories about radical faith lifestyles. We depend on partners and friends for advertising and support.

These outstanding friends share a similar vision of pursuing a life of faith.

Several have helped us over the course of this project in one way or another other, and we love them for that. And many of these organizations are action-oriented justice sites, so check them out and plug in.”

Listed are Geez Magazine and Donald Miller.

 **As an update(11/5/16) , Seth is no longer listed as an author, however this link shows that Wrecked is published by Adventures in Missions as their online magazine.

Friends with Geez Magazine

Geez magazine describes itself as an online magazine that inspires “holy mischief in an age of fast faith.”…It’s called “Geez, “an exasperated exclamation derived from Jesus’ name that some Christians consider to be blasphemous.” The editor of Geez, Aiden Enns, reflects 

“My faith development took a hit when I abandoned objective truths such as Jesus is Lord. I still believe there is truth, but it shifts. Truth retracts and expands as we discover problems with what we praise as truth. This obliges me to withdraw my allegiance to old (but still alive) truths such as male superiority, heterosexism, and the multiple underpinnings of oppression.”

There are quite a few articles and references to the homosexual lifestyle and advocates of homosexual indocrination . Geez also writes about the feminist and gender confusion agenda denouncing God’s plan for marriage and gender.

The links in this chain of the mystical are never ending…also at Seth’s Wrecked blog one of his co-authors, Megan, states she is…

“Easily excited at any mention of self-awareness, honest truth, inner healing, and radical living. Dreams of enlightening others about the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual growth and writing books on practical tools for spiritual formation.” Here are some warnings about the Enneagram

Donald Miller, an emergent author and  friend of Seth’s also linked to on Wrecked as “sharing a similiar vision”, He denies total depravity stating people are basically good, this makes sense with  this information about Miller and the Enneagram This article states,

“The Enneagram is something that is promoted as a tool for assessing one’s personality traits. More insidiously, however, it has at its root some very troubling New Age theology; chiefly, the idea that all people are born with a Divine inner spark. Rather than being Christian in nature, this view of the Divine inner spark is distinctly eastern and panentheistic”…and “The closest thing the Enneagram has to the Christian concept of sin is that “unprocessed pain” (not sin) results in one’s life not running as smoothly as one wishes. This is in distinct contrast to the biblical understanding of sin, and is actually more Buddhist in theology than Christian”

Warnings from other sources

A quick google search on World Race Concerns reveals quite a few sources for discerning the error at the mission organization Adventures in Missions.

Many have commented on this last article, some, of course, in defense of AIM, but pay attention to those with concern.

Alex says, “One of the most troubling things was AIM’s connection to the New  Apostolic Reformation and Kingdom Now theology.”

Mark says, “After only 15 minutes at AIM’s site, this site and one other it is easy to determine that AIM is cultic – if not an outright cult – and it’s leaders are simply in touch with their own spirit guides ( demons ) which they have falsely believed is the Holy Spirit talking to them. I found the statement that they place discipleship above evangelism to be troubling as their idea of “discipleship” appears to include the concept of total obedience to leadership.

“I noticed red flags immediately at training camp with no mention of the name of Jesus for the first few hours of orientation and an immensely secularized worship session to get the kids pumped up…

Never in a million years would I ever want any of our students to experience or be exposed to what I went through on the World Race. I fear, that the majority of the young people who go on this trip, are lured away from the faith via emotionalism and a “do what feels good, God loves you no matter what” approach to experiencing freedom in Christ…After a very traumatic experience being exposed to NAR/Dominion theology and the likes of occultic practices through AIM...told that I was not there to preach the Gospel, or teach the bible, or concern myself with other people’s spiritual growth — I was there to learn how to hear the voice of God.

I was being told that I made things too theological and this was infecting others. When I asked for answers, I was always referred to Seth Barnes’s “Kingdom Journeys” and “the process”…Again, I was told I make things too theological. They went so far as to say that I make the word of God an idol. I got under the coordinator’s collar enough that she slipped up in evident frustration/anger and explained to me that the church spiritual formation is according to Ephesians 4, and that Seth Barnes is an Apostle...

The crazy thing about these leader types from headquarters is that they won’t address you or answer your questions without always prefacing with, “Ok, so what’s your Myers-Briggs personality and your spiritual gifting?”…

Many had fallen for AIM’s approach to acts of service as being enough to show the world Jesus — never once was it encouraged to preach the Gospel…I’ve been having trouble debriefing and suffering from panic attacks since the World Race. I was literally rescued by my church…The sad thing is that the majority of the participants don’t recognize they’re being indoctrinated or they don’t see red-flags or harm being done. After all, it’s a fun adventure of doing good works in the name of Jesus while discovering who you really are and being healed of baggage you have…etc…according to the spin…”

Testimony video-“Why I left the World Race”