Monday, April 2, 2018

Guest Post: The Preaching of the Cross

In our great concern over the growing apostasy and in our zeal to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, we must constantly take heed of our personal relationship with and testimony for our Lord. And to do this, we must always keep foremost in our hearts and minds the Cross.
Scripture makes it very clear that the cross of Christ is the heart of the message we preach, the determinant of our relationship to this evil world, and the secret of victory over the world, the flesh and the devil in our daily lives. Christ reminded His listeners repeatedly that it was not possible to be His disciple and thus a true Christian without denying self and taking up the cross to follow Him. I think the Bible makes it clear what this means, although there is also more depth of truth in the Cross than we will be able to fathom in this life.
Paul wrote, "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor:2:2). This characterized his consistent conduct and the message he preached. For him there was one important rule: "Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect" (1:l7). We dare not compromise, dilute or try to improve, with man's wisdom, the straightforward simplicity of the Cross. To do so destroys its truth and power to save others and to deliver us from succumbing to daily trials and temptations.
We have a tendency to forget that "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (1:18). One of the greatest problems today is the often well-intentioned attempt to reinterpret the gospel to make it sensible and acceptable to the natural or carnal man. Instead, the unchangeable message must change the thinking and lives of those who receive it or it cannot change their eternal destiny. Let that never be forgotten. That transforming power is missing, both from the gospel preached to the lost and from the Christian's life, when the sharp sword of the Word with its radical message of the Cross has been sheathed in the popular psychologies and self-oriented thinking of our day.
What we are trying to say is illustrated through a man who had the most amazing and unique testimony of anyone who ever lived. A resident of death row, he knew on the day of his execution, as footsteps came resolutely down the corridor, that he was going to die. When the door of his cell swung open, however, the jailor spoke these astonishing words: "You are being set free. Another man is dying in your place!"
Of course, I'm referring to Barabbas, the only man who ever lived who could literally testify, "Jesus died for me, in my place!" But Barabbas was not saved. Why? Simply because the death of Christ had freed him to live his own life. Yet that is often today's self-centered understanding of the gospel: Jesus died for me so that I can live for myself, for worldly success and happiness, and go to heaven when I'm too old or too sick to enjoy earthly pleasures anymore. Against that false impression, A.W. Tozer wrote:
Among the plastic saints of our times, Christ has to do all the dying and all we want is to hear another sermon about His dying—no cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.
People would come to Christ promising to follow Him wherever He would lead. His reply was simple: "Let Me make it very clear. I'm heading for a hill outside of Jerusalem called Calvary, where they will crucify Me. So if you intend to be true to Me to the end, take up your cross right now, because that is where we're going."
Of course no one did that. Even His closest disciples all forsook Him and fled to save their own lives. Nor would it have saved their souls had they died on crosses erected beside His. He had to die in their place. But after His resurrection they were changed men, no longer afraid to die for their Lord. For then they understood and believed and gladly submitted to the truth: Christ had died in their place because they deserved to die. His death was not to deliver them from death, but to take them through death and out the other side into resurrection.
At last they understood and believed. Acknowledging that God was just in condemning them to death for their rebellion against Him, they accepted the death of Christ their Savior as their very own. They had died in Him; and believing that changed everything.
In Galatians:6:14 Paul writes, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." As those who have been crucified with Christ, we have been completely cut off from this world. One of the problems with today's Christianity is its attempt to make itself appealing to the spirit of this world and thus to become popular with the world. Christ would no more be popular today than He was in His day; and He said that those who hated Him would hate His disciples. So John wrote, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 Jn:2:15).
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul explained further: "For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you" (2 Cor:13:4). How are we weak in Him? Not in our relationship to sin or Satan or to the temptations of this world, over which we have the victory through Christ. We are weak in the same way that He was weak, i.e., in that He did not fight to defend Himself or His kingdom against the political or military might of this world. His victory (and ours in Him) over Satan also came in submitting to death: "That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb:2:14-15).
It is not through gritting our teeth and determining by our will power that we overcome temptation, but in accepting the fact that we are dead in Christ. The dead no longer lust, lose their tempers or act selfishly. Our victory is in our being "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom:6:11). We have given up life as we would live it in order to experience His life being lived in and through us. The life He gives is resurrection life, and only those who are dead can receive that. We cannot know the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, until we have willingly accepted His death as our death.
These few thoughts scarcely scratch the surface of the meaning of the Cross (which includes, of course, the Resurrection). In meditating upon this greatest event of all time and eternity, we begin to see both the horror of our sin and the amazing love of our Lord—the two chief motivations for holiness. May we abide in His love, that the Cross so fully proved, and become the messengers and channels of that love to the world for which He died.
By Dave Hunt

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Guest Post: Imminence

We have discussed the kingdom/dominion/reconstruction/COR movement a number of times. I consider it to be the fastest growing adverse influence in the church today, and thus a primary cause for concern. It is helping to set the stage for the coming world government of the Antichrist by confusing key issues of prophecy. Of course, those involved in this movement would sincerely deny that they are helping, or that they wish to have any part in helping, the Antichrist in any way. There is another and more subtle danger—the undermining of one's personal spiritual life as a result of this movement's unbiblical teachings.
Those who believe that they must take over the world and establish the millennial kingdom for Christ in His absence either reject the Rapture or relegate it to such a distant and unimportant position that it has no practical value in their lives. This has serious consequences because the hope that Christ could return at any moment is intended by God to be one of the major purifying factors in the Christian's life (1 Jn:3:3). I believe that John is referring both to doctrinal as well as moral purity by the phrase "purifieth himself." The two go together, yet doctrine is now frequently avoided as a cause of division rather than what it actually is, the necessary container of truth.
One of the most unpopular doctrines today (in stark contrast to its prominence only a few years ago) is that of the Rapture—Christ catching His bride away to heaven (1 Thes:4:13-18). Because Christ has not come "quickly," as He promised (at least by our definition), there are those who consider the Rapture a topic to be avoided. However, the great number of statements in the Bible regarding the end times in general, and the Rapture in particular, suggest that this whole area should be a prominent part of our Christian faith and life.
With respect to the Rapture, we are repeatedly urged to have an attitude of watching and waiting. Why is this attitude commanded by Christ? Does its value for us, and the importance the Bible obviously attaches to it, reside primarily in the Lord's return actually being imminent? Indeed not.
Whether or not the Lord's return is imminent for us, we now know in retrospect that it was not imminent for all those generations of Christians who came before us. If the sole value of their "expectancy" lay in its being satisfied, i.e., in it being true that the Lord would come imminently—then the fact that Christ has not yet returned would leave us without any explanation for why the Lord urged this "expectant" attitude in the first place. Therefore there must be something important, something integral to a good Christian life, about the attitude of expecting Christ's return at any moment. What could this be?
There can be no doubt that believing that we could be caught up at any moment imparts an added seriousness to our lives. We won't be here forever, so we should make every minute count. Moreover, it makes us insecure in our tendency to identify ourselves too closely with a world which does not hold our ultimate destiny, and reminds us of our true citizenship in a world to come which is based upon eternal rather than earthly values. This attitude certainly ought to characterize a Christian life, and a lively sense of the possibility of Christ's imminent return is more than justified if it has this good effect on us.
But doesn't the possibility of imminent death supply exactly the same motive? No. While it supplies a very powerful motive indeed, there is a great difference. The expectancy of being caught up at any moment into the presence of our Lord in the Rapture does have some advantages over a similar expectancy through the possibility of sudden death:
(1) If we are in a right relationship with Christ, we can genuinely look forward to the Rapture. Yet no one (not even Christ in the Garden) looks forward to death. The joyful prospect of the Rapture will attract our thoughts, while the distasteful prospect of death is something we may try to forget about, thus making it less effective in our daily lives.
(2) While the Rapture is similar to death in that both serve to end one's earthly life, the Rapture does something else as well: it signals the climax of history and opens the curtain upon its final drama. It thus ends, in a way that death does not, all human stake in continuing earthly developments, such as the lives of the children left behind, the growth or dispersion of the fortune accumulated, the protection of one's personal reputation, the success of whatever earthly causes one has espoused, and so forth.
One way that people cope with the finality of death is through such forms of pseudo-immortality—ways in which we, or things we cared about, "live on" after we are gone. Even Christians, who have genuine immortality to look forward to, may nevertheless be tempted to find consolation in some of these forms of pseudo-immortality. The Rapture, however, undercuts all of these; and to whatever extent these pseudo-consolations are weakened, our post-mortem hope becomes purified of its earthly elements. Being thus forced to face the fact that our destiny lies in heaven, we will be motivated to live with that goal in mind.
(3) The incentive provided by death is weakened somewhat by the fact that we generally have at least some control over its relative imminence. Certainly we are radically contingent beings, and our lives could be snuffed out at any time. But this is not the way people usually die. The cancer victim could have refrained from smoking, or added more fiber to his diet, or sought treatment earlier. The guilty auto accident victim could have driven within the speed limit or taken a taxi when he had too much to drink.
Though death can come suddenly and without warning we are not complete masters of our own fate), it is nevertheless true that we make decisions daily that increase or decrease the chances of our dying tomorrow, next month, or in ten years. This not-altogether-illusory sense of control over the time of our death reduces its incentive for godliness by making us feel that we can afford to postpone a closer relationship with God until next week, next month or next year. In contrast, we have absolutely no control over the timing of Christ's return to earth. It will just happen "out of the blue." Belief in the imminent return of Christ, then, does not allow us to postpone anything.
The whole dominion/reconstruction movement is too wedded to an ongoing earthly process stretching into the indeterminate future to be truly faithful to the totality of what Scripture says about being sufficiently disengaged from this world to be ready to leave it behind at a moment's notice. I am concerned that the Reconstructionists and the Coalition on Revival as well as other kingdom/dominion advocates are fostering a false conception of our earthly ministry—a conception which we must guard against lest we subtly fall into an attitude like that of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor, for whom Christ's return to earth represents an interference with the mission of the church. He has Christ thrown into prison, where he visits him to complain:
There is no need for Thee to come now at all. Thou must not meddle for the time, at least...fortunately, departing Thou didst hand on the work to us. Thou has promised, Thou hast established by Thy word, Thou has given to us the right to bind and to unbind, and now, of course, Thou canst not think of taking it away. Why, then, hast Thou come to hinder us?
All human beings are tempted to be more at home in the world than they should be. Christians are not exempt from this temptation, and when they succumb it often leads to an effort to reinterpret Scripture accordingly. Reconstructionists exemplify this temptation, some even taking it to the point of claiming that Christ returned in a.d.70 in the person of the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem and excommunicate Israel—and that this was the day of the church's wedding to Christ prophesied in Revelation 19!
Christ's return before they have taken over the world would be as inconvenient to the Reconstructionists and others in the kingdom/dominion movement as it was to the Grand Inquisitor, and for the same reasons.
Our hope is not in taking over this world, but in being taken to heaven by our Lord, to be married to Him in glory and then to return with Him as part of the armies of heaven to rescue Israel, destroy His enemies and participate in His millennial reign. Yet too often those of us who claim to believe this hold the belief in theory only, while denying it with our lives. Our hearts should be in perpetual wonder and joy at the prospect of being suddenly caught up to be with Christ, our bodies transformed to be like His body of glory and to be wedded to our Lord for eternity.
Heaven is not so much a location somewhere as it is being with Christ wherever He may be in the universe at the time, for we will be perpetually in His presence. It is not so much a place as it is a state of being, enjoying a heavenly existence that is beyond our present understanding but which ought to be our continual and exciting anticipation. And in our transformed bodies, made like His body of glory, in which we will share His resurrection life, we will reign with Him over this earth for 1,000 years. Then we will spend an eternity during which He will be perpetually revealing to and in us more and more of Himself, His love and grace and kindness.
Part of the problem with the kingdom/dominion/reconstruction movement is its mistaken notion that mortal man can accomplish what only immortal Man, our risen Lord, and we as immortal resurrected beings with Him, can perform. Do not settle for anything less than the fullness of what Christ has promised! The glory of the eternal kingdom that He offers is light years beyond the COR agenda of Christianizing and taking over this present world in these bodies of weakness and corruption.
We can miss His best by refusing to take seriously what the Bible clearly teaches and by not standing firm for sound doctrine. And we can also miss out on our true reward by attempting to live in our own strength the Christian life which only Christ can live through us. May we be true to His Word and to Him in our daily lives. The joy and glory He has planned and in which He desires that we participate is more than enough to excite and inspire and motivate us. "Set your affection on things above" (Col:3:2)! TBC
By Dave Hunt

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Guest Post: Roman Catholicism

By Dave Hunt
Last month, in relation to the shocking rise of anti-Semitism among Christians, we referred to the incredible claim by the Reconstructionists that Christ's promise to "come again" was fulfilled when "He came" in AD 70 in the person of the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem and slaughter the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine. In fact they claim that the entire Olivet Discourse (Mat 24-25) and all of the prophecies in Revelation (except for Rev:20:4-22:21) were fulfilled at AD 70.
This particular theory was invented in the early 1600s by a Jesuit named Alcasar to counter the Reformers' claim that the Roman Catholic Church was the "great whore...MYSTERY BABYLON" sitting on the beast in Revelation 17. In a stroke of genius, Alcasar realized that if he could establish the theory that Revelation had all been fulfilled by AD 70, then its prophecies could not possibly apply to the Roman Catholic Church. That scenario was eagerly adopted by the Reconstructionists, in spite of the fact that the Book of Revelation was written at least 20 years after AD 70, which destroys this fantasy. For those interested in a scholarly discussion of the date of John's writing, Dominion Theology, Blessing or Curse? by H. Wayne House and Thomas D. Ice is recommended.
In addition to data from the first century, the history of the Roman Catholic Church itself provides overwhelming evidence that the Reformers were correct: John's vision went far beyond AD 70 and was astonishingly accurate. In fact, the undeniable development of the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages into all that John attributes to the "woman sit[ting] upon a scarlet coloured beast" (Rev:17:3) is almost as powerful a proof for the validity of the Bible as the preservation and return of Israel to her land.
The Christianization of the world being pursued today with high hopes by the Coalition on Revival (COR) and other reconstructionists was accomplished 1,600 years ago under the Roman Emperor Constantine and his successors. Far from producing the benefits COR promises, however, it was the undoing of the early church. "Christianity" became so dominant that its profession was essential for those who wanted to gain social, political or even military recognition. As a result, Romans "converted" by the thousands, thus polluting the church. Augustine himself lamented,
The man who enters [a fourth-century church] is bound to see drunkards, misers, tricksters, gamblers, adulterers, fornicators, people wearing amulets, assiduous clients of sorcerers, astrologers...
He must be warned that the same crowds that press into the churches on Christian festivals, also fill the theatres on pagan holidays.
Roman paganism had simply taken on a thin "Christian" veneer to survive to this day under the cloak of Catholicism in an even more dangerous form. As head of the pagan priesthood (a position Constantine never renounced), it seemed only natural that the emperor should also function as de facto head of the church. As such, Constantine convened, gave the opening address and played a dominant part in the first ecumenical council, the Council of Nicaea in 325. Thereafter, the emperors, in partnership with the popes, maintained "the unity of the faith" by persecuting and killing in the name of Christ those who dared to disagree with their dogmas and decrees. Pope Leo I—ascribing to the secular authority an "infallibility" that would later be claimed by the popes—flatteringly declared that the emperor was "incapable of doctrinal error."
It was the emperor who was first called the "Vicar of Christ"—a title inherited by the popes when the Roman Empire disintegrated. Constantine's title of Pontifex Maximus as leader of the pagan priesthood was also taken by the popes. Thus the head of the Roman Catholic Church is called the "Roman Pontiff" to this day. In fact, during the Middle Ages, the popes circulated what is generally believed to be a forged document called The Donation of Constantine in order to give legitimacy to papal powers they were exerting over kings and kingdoms.
The Donation declared that Constantine had moved the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in the East and deeded the Western Empire, with all the attendant imperial authority, to Pope Sylvester in order to "exalt the most holy See of blessed Peter in glory above our own Empire and earthly throne, ascribing to it power and glorious majesty and strength and Imperial honor." It further declared:
And we command and decree that...the Pontiff who occupies at any given moment the See of that same most holy Roman Church shall rank as the highest and chief among all the priests of the whole world and by his decision all things are to be arranged concerning the worship of God or the security of the faith of Christians.
In recompense for this we concede to...the Pontiffs who will preside over the See of blessed Peter until the end of the world...our Imperial palace of the Lateran...the crown of our head...[and] the tiara; also the shoulder covering ...the purple cloak and the crimson tunic and all our Imperial garments...
We confer on them also the Imperial sceptres...the spears and standards...the banners and various Imperial decorations and all the prerogatives of our supreme Imperial position and the glory of our authority...[and]...the city of Rome and all the provinces, districts and cities of Italy and the Western regions, relinquishing them to the authority of himself and his successors as Pontiffs by a definite Imperial grant...
Whether the Donation is a forgery or not, the fact remains that the popes used it to justify not only their power but their regal vestments, religious paraphernalia and the pomp that surrounds their office to this day. Moreover, historians proclaim with one voice that the papacy stepped into the gap left in the West by the collapsing Empire, and the sceptre of the Roman emperors unquestionably passed to the popes. Historian R.W. Southern points out,
During the whole medieval period there was in Rome a single spiritual and temporal authority exercising powers which in the end exceeded those that had ever lain within the grasp of a Roman Emperor.
Even military leaders and kings were forced, no matter how unwillingly, to bow the knee to the pope in recognition of the all-pervasive power which the Church wielded over the masses of people. Add to that fact its great wealth, and the Church was a formidable force that even the most powerful rulers found easier to join in partnership than to fight. Historian Walter James reminds us that there was another even more compelling reason why every knee bowed to the popes—which today's Catholiccatechisms still insist is valid:
The Papacy controlled the gateway to heaven which all the faithful, including their rulers, hoped earnestly to enter. Few in those days doubted the truth of this and it gave the Popes a moral authority which has never been wielded since.
During the Middle Ages the power the popes wielded reached awesome heights in remarkable fulfillment of the vision given to John in Revelation 17 of that magnificent "whore" headquartered in a city located upon seven hills (v 9) and which "reigneth over the kings of the earth" (v 18). The identification is unmistakable. As Southern points out, the medieval church held the "power of life and death over the citizens of Christendom and their enemies within and without....Popes claimed the sole right of initiating and directing wars against the unbelievers ...[and to protect] their territorial interests." For example, Pope Innocent III never lost a battle! No one could withstand him.
This astonishing power over kings and kingdoms had already been demonstrated even before the Empire's collapse. Take for example the humiliation of Emperor Theodosius in 390, who was required to make public penance upon threat of excommunication. As a later example, consider Charlemagne being crowned Emperor by Pope Leo III during Mass in Rome's St. Peter's on Christmas Day 800 A.D.or the humbled Emperor Henry IV, waiting barefoot in the snows at Canossa to make his peace at last with Pope Gregory VII in 1077. Apparently unaware that he was admitting the fulfillment of John's apocalyptic vision, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) asserted in no uncertain terms the authority of the Church over all secular powers. Pope Boniface VIII reiterated Innocent III's assertion of absolute dominion over kings in his Bull Unam Sanctam (1302).
The Roman Catholic pope, successor to the ancient Roman emperors, continues to wield similar power today. Most nations—including the United States—maintain diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Even the Soviet Union has maintained high-level contacts with the Vatican over the last two decades, and aides to the Pope and Gorbachev have been negotiating to set up a meeting between these two powerful heads of state. Like other secular rulers, Gorbachev is driven by necessity—he knows and respects the power of the Vatican, which rules over more than 800 million Catholics worldwide. In contrast, there are less than 60 million Lutherans. Today the Lutheran World Federation has its offices at the headquarters of the infamous World Council of Churches, which works for ecumenical union with Rome.
The charismatic movement has been particularly vulnerable to union with Roman Catholicism ever since Catholics began to "speak in tongues." One wonders, however, why most Catholics who have allegedly been baptized in the Spirit become even more enamored of prayers to Mary and various "saints," the reoffering of Christ in the Mass, and other serious heresies so contrary to what the Holy Spirit has declared in Scripture.
The predominant cry today is for "unity." It was the principle weapon with which the Roman CatholicChurch attempted to stop the Reformation. Luther was urged to "keep in mind the unity of the holy, catholic, and apostolic church...." As though faith is believing anything, rather than commitment to truth for which we must contend, Earl Paulk suggests that Paul's "unity of the faith" (Eph:4:13) has nothing to do with doctrine. Paulk advocates unity not only with Catholics but even with Mormons. A unity in which sound doctrine plays no part is very appealing to those who wish to be "positive" at all cost. It is today's major weapon in reversing the Reformation.
Among so-called Protestants today, the great issues of the Reformation for which thousands were martyred have been forgotten or are no longer considered important. Describing his feelings as he watched Pope John Paul II perform the unbiblical "sacrifice of the Mass" during his visit to Los Angeles in September, 1987, Robert Schuller reportedly said, "I cried through most of the Mass, because there was nothing that he said in words or in theological content that didn't harmonize with my own belief system." At that time Schuller confided to Catholic priest Michael Manning,
It's time for Protestants to go to the shepherd [the pope] and say, "What do we have to do to come home?"
In contrast to Schuller's attitude, we do well to remember the words of Bishop Ryle. Referring to Bloody Queen Mary's brief re-introduction of Catholicism into England and the resulting death by fire of 288 Christian leaders in four years because they refused to accept Transubstantiation, Ryle wrote with great passion,
I wish my readers to remember that the burning of the Marian martyrs is an act that the Church of Rome has never repudiated, apologized for, or repented of, down to the present day....
Never has she repented of her treatment of the Vaudois and the Albigenses; never has she repented of the wholesale murders of the Spanish Inquisition...never has she repented of the burning of the English Reformers.
We should make a note of that fact and let it sink down into our minds.
Doctrine is important. Truth is vital. We are urged to contend earnestly for the faith. One day we must all stand before our Lord to give an account. In subsequent newsletters, if the Lord tarries and spares us, we want to suggest some ways in which we can contend constructively and effectively for biblical truth. We must not only believe the truth, but we must act upon it and contend for it.  TBC

Sunday, January 7, 2018


By Dave Hunt
On the day of Pentecost, when the church was established, national Israel did not cease to exist. Israel remains God's special people and is the beneficiary of particular promises which apply to her alone and which are in the process of being fulfilled. Yet there is a growing movement today which identifies the church as Israel, denies any place for national Israel in God's future plans, and declares that all of the promises and unfulfilled prophecies that once referred to Israel now belong to the church. Earl Paulk, one of the leaders in this movement, writes,
Some of the strongest fundamental churches still preach that Christ will return to gather national Israel unto Himself, and I say that is deception and will keep the Kingdom of God from coming to pass! 
In almost any Christian bookstore, about 99% of the books will say that "God's time-clock is Israel" and that "God's covenant is still with Israel."...[I say that] prophecies about Israel as a nation [are] now transferred to spiritual Israel, which is the people of God [i.e., the church]...1
Christians in the West have traditionally been the major base of support for Israel. With the new "the-church-is-Israel" movement gaining a wide following, however, a drastic change is developing in the attitude of many Christians, especially charismatics, toward Israel. While those promoting this belief deny the charge of anti-Semitism, the increasingly bold use of sarcasm, ridicule and openly displayed antagonism by some is ominous. This trend is only in the beginning stage and is growing rapidly. Gary North writes,
When Israel gets pushed into the sea, or converted to Christ, Scofieldism dies a fast death. Rest assured, I have a manuscript ready to go when either of these events happens.2
We are witnessing a revival among Protestants of the traditional anti-Semitism of the Roman CatholicChurch. Many people have forgotten that the Church which claimed as its first pope a Jewish fisherman, whose alleged founder, Christ himself, was a Jew, as were the apostles and the entire church in its infancy, very early became a persecutor of Jews. Most Catholics are probably not aware that anti-Semitism was made the official position of the Catholic Church and it remains so to this day. As a reminder:
The Council of Vienne (1311) forbade all intercourse between Christians and Jews. The Council of Zamora (1313) ruled that they must be kept in strict subjection and servitude. The Council of Basel (1431-33) renewed canonical decrees forbidding Christians to associate with Jews, to serve them, or to use them as physicians, and instructed secular authorities to confine the Jews in separate quarters, compel them to wear a distinguishing badge, and ensure their attendance at sermons aimed to convert them. 
Pope EugeniusIV...added that Jews should be ineligible for any public office, could not inherit property from Christians, must build no more synagogues, and...any Italian Jew found reading Talmudic literature should suffer confiscation of his property, etc.3
No wonder Hitler felt that he had good precedent for his sanctions against the Jews. The Vatican was understandably silent during the Holocaust and has not yet, after 40 years, recognized the nation of Israel.
Anti-Semitism, like infant baptism, was one of several carry-overs from Catholicism from which Luther never broke free. His pamphlet Concerning the Jews and Their Lies (1542) was in fact filled with lies about Jews: that God hated them, that the Talmud encouraged lying, robbery and even the killing of Christians; that they poisoned springs and wells in order to accomplish this; and that they used the blood of murdered Christian children in their rituals. Providing Protestant confirmation to match Catholicism's justification of much that Hitler would do to the Jews, in later life Luther
...advised the Germans to burn down the homes of Jews, to close their synagogues and schools, to confiscate their wealth, to conscript their men and women to forced labor, and to give all Jews a choice between Christianity and having their tongues torn out.4
Such extremes are not yet openly expressed among evangelicals and charismatics, and hopefully will not be in the future. Yet the above shows what anti-Semitism can develop into in the name of Christianity. Those presently speaking out against Israel carefully vent their animosity only against the Jews as a nation, while professing a love for them as individuals. Earl Paulk even writes, "I have no disagreement with any who teach that national Israel is important to the fulfillment of end-time prophecy." He says this in spite of having gone on record (as quoted above and elsewhere) that the church is now Israel and that Israel has no place in prophecy.
Instead of "God is dead," we are now told that "Israel is dead." There is little difference, however, in the two attitudes, since He is so often identified as "the God of Israel." David Chilton's Days of Vengeanceattempts to justify the astonishing reconstructionist/kingdom/dominion thesis that Israel was "excommunicated" by God in a.d.70 when the armies of Titus destroyed Jerusalem.6 Under the title, "The Church Is Israel-A Vital Teaching," McKeever has written,
We love the Hebrews who the nation of Israel. We support them and thank God for such an ally in the Mideast. However, the Lord has shown us clearly that in no way are they IsraelIsrael is composed of all believers in Jesus Christ.
It is vitally important for the body of Christ to realize that they are Israel and that the unfulfilled prophecies concerning Israel are theirs to participate in.7
Speaking in Oklahoma City on April 11, 1988, Rick Godwin, a long-time associate of James Robison and popular speaker on Christian media, delivered the type of anti-Israel rhetoric that is becoming so typical in charismatic circles: "They are not chosen, they are cursed! They are not blessed, they are cursed!...Yes, and you hear Jerry Falwell and everybody else say the reason America's great is because America's blessed Israel. They sure have. Which IsraelThe Israel—the church. ...That's the Israel of God, not that garlic one over on the Mediterranean Sea!"8 Earl Paulk's criticism of national Israel and those who look favorably upon her includes the ultimate accusation:
The hour has come for us to know...that the spirit of the antichrist is now at work in the world...[through] so-called Holy Spirit-filled teachers who say, "If you bless national Israel, God will bless you."
Not only is this blatantly deceptive, it is not part of the new covenant at all!9
Paulk and Godwin were recently lauded and endorsed by Paul and Jan Crouch as guests on their internationally televised TBN "Praise The Lord" show. Paul asked Paulk some of the questions that critics have raised, and the latter did a masterful job of sidestepping the issues and presenting himself as not claiming that the church is Israel (in spite of the quotes above), as not rejecting the Rapture (in spite of having written entire books against it), and other such deceit. Paul and Jan have now added Earl Paulk to their whitewash of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and Robert Schuller. They endorsed him enthusiastically, promoted his latest two books (and by implication all of his other writings), and, addressing Hal Lindsey and Dave Hunt directly (in case they were watching out there somewhere), asked them if they had heard Paulk's answers and promised to give them a copy of his newest book, which would correct their false ideas.
If we are to believe the leaders in this "church-is-Israel" movement, then one of the greatest events in the history of the world—the return of the Jewish people to their own land and the rebirth of Israel in 1948—is a freak accident with no significance. On the other hand, if this astonishing occurrence of undeniably great importance is, in fact, the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that the church has so long believed it to be, then here is an indisputable modern miracle of international prominence to which Christians can point—an event which gives irrefutable validity to the Word of God. "The-church-is-Israel" advocates would rob the church of the most convincing available witness to God's existence, righteous judgment and faithfulness: the remarkable history of the Jewish people, their prophecy-fulfilling odyssey and return to their historic homeland, and the prophesied climactic future events yet to occur there.
The rejection of Israel is essential to the unbiblical Reconstruction/Kingdom/Dominion teaching that a Christian elite has a mandate to take over the world and set up the Kingdom, (a theocracy), as a condition of Christ's return. Only Jesus Christ himself can be trusted with such power. That is why it is so distressing to hear the Paulks, Norths, et al. laying claim to this absolute theocratic power in Christ's name. This is but one of many reasons why King Jesus himself must set up His kingdom and personally rule over it—a teaching increasingly rejected in the church today. C.S. Lewis said it well:
I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects.
Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant, a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is going wrong he may possibly repent.
But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely, because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.10
Whether men are ready to admit it or not, the only choice is really between Christ and Antichrist. Nothing less than an absolutist theocracy will hold in check the evil and bring about the radical solution which the world's ills require. World events point inexorably to the establishment of such a regime. It will either be under the false world religion of Satan and his personal incarnation, or under the truth of God and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. No mere man could qualify, all of the good intentions of COR and the Reconstructionists and assorted other dominionists notwithstanding.
It is quite clear from Luke:24:47-48 and other passages that the disciples were not expected to inaugurate the Kingdom but to be witnesses concerning the King and His future coming. There will be no kingdom of God without the King present and ruling in power. All Christians admit this to be the case when it comes to the spiritual kingdom in our hearts—Christ must reign there. The same is true of the outward manifestation of His kingdom upon earth during the Millennium—He must personally reign there as well.
Currents of change are sweeping through the world and the church. In the crucial days ahead, the evangelical church could well suffer a division over the Rapture and the related issue of Israel comparable to that experienced by the Catholic Church as a result of the Reformation in the 1500's. Nor would it be surprising if, as a result, in the cause of "unity," the larger faction in Protestantism moved much closer to ecumenical union with Catholicism, which not only has been traditionally anti-Semitic but discarded the Rapture about 1,600 years ago.
Please do not rest with taking my word for what I say. Check it out for yourselves. Be students of God's Word, lovers of truth, and prayer warriors!   TBC
  1. Earl Paulk, The Handwriting on the Wall (booklet self-published by Paulk's Chapel Hill Harvester Church, Decatur, GA 30034), 17,19-20.
  2. Letter to Peter Lalonde, dated April 30, 1987.
  3. Will Durant, The Reformation (Simon and Schuster, 1957), 729.
  4. Durant, op. cit., 727.
  5. Paulk, Thy Kingdom Come (Nov. 1987), 4.
  6. Chilton, Days of Vengeance, 443, etc.
  7. End-Times News Digest (James McKeever Ministries Newsletter, Dec. 1987), 3.
  8. Rick Godwin, "Rick Godwin No. 2" audio tape (Sunday evening sermon at Metro Church, Edmond, OK, April 11, 1988).
  9. Handwriting, 17,19-20.
  10. C.S. Lewis, "A Reply to Professor Haldane," in Of Other Worlds (Harcourt, Brace, World, 1967), 81.