September 22, 2007

Rescued from Religion

Today there is a rallying cry to rescue the bride of Christ from her perceived enemy: "the spirit of religion." The bride can be compared to a damsel in distress, locked up in the tower of the church awaiting the return of her Groom, the King of kings and Lord of lords. While He is away preparing a place for her, she has to ward off the evil dragon that longs to separate her from her tower so he can devour much flesh (2 Cor. 11:14-15). This angel of light has many weapons in his arsenal and his own knights in shiny apparel to help lure her away from the safety of the gathering of the saints (Hebrews 10:25).

"And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).

"Religion" has become a dirty word, yet there is good religion and bad religion. The Apostle Paul defines bad religion as "the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence" (Col. 2:23). The Lord’s brother, James wrote, "If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless" (James 1:26). He adds, "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27).

There are several dictionary definitions of religion, including:

  • The practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith;
  • Something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience;
  • Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

In our day and age the word has come to be thought of as an outward show of holiness without any inward reality. So I would agree that people do need to be rescued from that Pharisaical mindset. However, there are many would-be knights in shiny armor today who hate true religion and are deceived into thinking that they have been called by God to rescue the damsel utilizing their own unbiblical brand of religion.

Let’s examine the crusades of four popular yet diverse knights (L to R): Liberal Bishop John Spong, radio host Harold Camping, Emergent leader Dan Kimball and prophet/psychic Kim Clement. All four of them fail the Bible’s test of good religion "to keep oneself unstained by the world."

Bishop John Spong

"The Right Reverand John Spong" is the retired bishop of the Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey. He is a liberal theologian with a long history of denying just about every doctrine of Christianity, and without any reprisals from his apostate denomination. Back in the 1980s, the late Walter Martin debated him on the John Ankerberg Show and made minced meat out of him. Yet he is still very popular in the liberal "church" and his books sell millions of copies.

He has just come out with a new book attacking "religion" called "Jesus for the Non-Religious," published by Harper Collins. The promotional blurb for the book claims:

"Spong has been on a life–long quest to rescue the church from irrelevancy…He first strips the superstitious barnacles that have attached themselves to this incredible person: such as that Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, that his father was Joseph, that he did miracles, that he had twelve disciples, and especially that he physically rose from the dead. Next Spong explains how these traditions arose by the early disciples seeing all he did through the lens of the Hebrew Scriptures. With these new revelations, we are then able to see the true Jesus, a heroic figure who revealed divinity through his humanness and can still guide us today. In short, Spong breaks Jesus free from the idol religion has created and restores for us a revolutionary and life–giving figure we all need to meet."

In one fell swoop, Spong attacks the biblical doctrines of the virgin birth, the resurrection of Jesus and all of His miracles. This dark knight has no right to call himself a Christian when he doesn’t believe any of the Scriptures of Christianity. He is preaching another Jesus and a different spirit and those following him on his quest will end up at the same destination -- hell.

In an earlier book of Spong’s, "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism," he made the outrageous charge that the apostle Paul was a homosexual. One reviewer noted: "He begins his book with a preamble titled ‘Sex Drove Me to the Bible.’ Spong finds that the Bible's attitude on sex and gender is embarrassingly out of step with the times. What it says about everything from premarital living arrangements to homosexuality, according to Spong, is narrow-minded, misogynic, homophobic, and worst of all, pre-scientific… According to Spong, Paul was a guilt-ridden homosexual."

That makes Bishop Spong a liar, slanderer, and agent of the dragon, Satan.

Harold Camping

Harold Camping, the founder of Family Radio in Oakland, California, gained fame years ago for claiming that the Lord was going to return in 1994. In fact, his book was called 1994. After the date came and went, Camping regrouped and changed his date based upon his own calculations of clues from bible texts. His latest prognostication for the end of the world is October 20, 2011. 

In 2003, Camping wrote a book "The End of the Church Age...and After" that is online in its entirety. He teaches that we are currently in the great tribulation that is 20+ years in duration and during this time God no longer is working in the local congregation. He sees himself as the voice of one crying out in the wilderness to come out of her. Camping is another dark knight attacking his own concept of the church that is rather convoluted. He writes:

"The church age that has come to an end is the external representation of the kingdom of God which exists as local congregations… it is the era of these local congregations and churches that has come to an end. The true believers who are included in the membership of these local churches have either already been driven out or are commanded to come out. Thus, the local churches all over the world will finally have only unsaved people as members… Since the beginning of the Great Tribulation, the eternal church no longer has any identification with the local churches… We are going to see that God does have a specific commandment for all believers, and that commandment is that they must depart out of their churches... No matter how faithful their church appears, God has commanded His people to leave the church...God has given no exceptions to this command. He has commanded each and every believer to leave the church."

Camping frequently says on his "Open Forum" radio program that those who refuse to come out of their local church are living in sin and are damned to hell for disobedience to God’s word. It is true that many churches are allowing apostate teachings to enter in, however Camping tells those who are in churches with solid teaching to come out of them. Even faithful congregations are under God’s judgment, according to Camping.

Apparently Camping has gotten a little soft in the head in his old age. But he still has a large following and his ministry has a staff of faithful, unquestioning, loyal supporters.

Dan Kimball

Dan Kimball, author of "The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations," and pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California, is another knight coming to the rescue of those he perceives are ensnared by the "spirit of religion." Kimball accomplishes his mission by making his church services palatable to unregenerate unbelievers who are looking for a church that won’t hold them accountable to biblical standards of morality. Open homosexual couples are welcome, whereas godly heterosexuals who dare to openly suggest that the Bible condemns homosexuality as sin are ostracized and criticized from the pulpit.

Yet, as previously noted, the Bible says that true religion is that which keeps oneself unstained by the world – Kimball says quite the opposite. In fact, he sees sanctification as a bad trait that makes a Christian holier-than-thou. His church has just begun a series of studies called "Don't be a ‘Christian’: Exchanging Religion for the Mission of God".

His latest book, "They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations," is more of the same attack on churches. The irony of Kimball tearing down religion is that he’s more religious in the outward show than those he criticizes. His form of "vintage Christianity" is a return to an even more religious empty display without inner reality. His church has what he calls prayers stations, made up of religious art, incense, candles, and other showy religious symbols. He also promotes monastic practices such as contemplative prayer that is false religiosity in the extreme. Talk about religious hypocrisy – Kimball takes the cake!

One reviewer of Kimball’s new book pointed out a defect in it that comes as no surprise to those familiar with the Emerging Church:

"On page 102, Kimball tells the story of how he was offended at a new believer's Bible that he wanted to give away because it included commentary notes he considered judgmental. He tells the story of trying to tear out pages from this Bible that he felt was offensive until he realized he was going to have to tear out too many pages. What did he consider offensive? Well, the initial page he wanted to tear out had a note saying that Christians shouldn't have sex before marriage, in reference to 1 Cor. 6-7. But the new convert he wanted to give the Bible to was living with his girlfriend. So, in order not to offend him, Kimball finally decided to not tear out pages and instead get another Bible to give away."

Dan Kimball is one knight in shiny armor that the damsel in distress would be better off shunning until he rides away into the sunset.

Kim Clement

And now we come to the dark knight with the most animal magnetism of them all – "Prophet" Kim Clement. If he had it his way he would replace the "spirit of religion" with the "spirit of divination." Kim Clement is crazy; his new book confirms it. It is called, "Call Me Crazy but I’m Hearing God: Secrets to Hearing the Voice of God." No psychologist, counselor, or even Dr. Phil can help him. He needs an exorcist. He has a familiar spirit. Does that sound extreme? Consider the clues in his book:

  • Page 5 in the Acknowledgments: "To God, my best friend, familiar neighbor…"
  • Page 7 – "God, I have a request: Let’s do some more crazy stuff!"
  • Page 43 – "One night I took the mouthpiece from my brother’s trumpet and started gouging out my eye."

In Clement’s Crazy book, he describes his childhood in South Africa growing up in a home where his mother was a spiritist and would take young Kim to psychics. He came to love what he called a "mystical atmosphere" he felt when visiting the family psychic. He had powers from the time he was eight-years-old & heard voices giving him information that he considered helpful. These familiar spirits helped him with his music lessons – he was a child prodigy with the piano. Growing up in Africa he testifies that he enjoyed "Voodoo rhythms" and he incorporates those into his prophetic performance.

This dark knight also hates what he calls the "religious system" – throughout the book he mentions his resentment to those in the church who would try to curtail his behavior in any way. Apparently, Kim Clement does not like being accountable to those who do not totally back his claim to be a prophet. In the book he gives endorsements to Old Testament prophets, but then endorses occultist Nostradamus and the false lying messages of the apparition of Fatima. He makes strong connections to the Roman Catholic Church and quotes Thomas Aquinas as his own theological authority.

The most disturbing clue to Kim Clement’s credentials as a dark knight to be avoided by the damsel in distress is his identification of who his God is. In several places he refers to God as "The Law of Attraction," a term popularized by the New Age system called "The Secret" that has been popularized by Oprah Winfrey. (For more information on the Secret, see this link.) On page 61, he writes "The Law of Attraction will draw people to you. The Law of Attraction is the light of tomorrow – God." 

And just to confirm Clement’s connection to the New Age movement’s demonically inspired program, Clement is calling his newest enterprise "Kim at Secrets – the House of the Prophet" and his web page is called "Secrets Hollywood." 

These clues identify Kim Clement as one connected with the angel of light that the Bible identifies as Satan who masquerades as something benevolent.

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The bride of Christ has become a damsel in distress in these perilous times. There are so many false knights out there that it is hard to keep up with them all. And these knights have huge followings and are leading many professing Christians astray. These four fail the test of Scripture and yet they are each so different in their choice of bait used to lure unsuspecting souls.

♥♥♥

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word that gives us the understanding we all need to avoid the tares and snares that the enemy uses to entrap members of the bride of Your Son. Give Your children the needed discernment to avoid becoming ensnared or swept away by any of the dragon’s agents. Help us to watch out for one another and give us greater reach to get out the warnings to our fellow saints in the Beloved. Please equip Your watchmen who sound the trumpet when we see danger approach. Thank You, Jesus, for Your promise that where two or more are gathered in Your name, You would be there in our midst. We need Your presence more than ever now as the dragon knows his time is short. Please come back soon for us – Your bride. Amen!

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