Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Spiritual Mysticism (part 2)

At the beginning of this series, I said each entry would be in video form. Well, I'm not exactly in the right position to make a vlog entry and I'm also not in a great position to continue delaying another entry. I have several thoughts on the subject and it is quite pertinent to our Christian society, so please join me in pondering this topic.

A few months ago I heard about this event called Jesus Culture that was going to be taking place in Kansas City and since I had never heard of it before, I decided to look it up. I found things that talked about a global revivalist movement and things like this:

"Jesus Culture is coming to Kansas City April 20th 2012! We are calling believers from all across the nation to join us for ONE NIGHT in each of the 9 cities we are visiting! ONE NIGHT of seeking the Lord and His presence through wholehearted worship and powerful teachings."

The Director of this organization, Banning Liebscher, explains what Jesus Culture is all about here:

Around the 5:25 mark, Liebscher starts explaining what this movement really is. He says it is threefold: encounter, equip, send.

Encounter: As you could hear from his explanation, this part is basically coming to the conference and "experience...experience...encounter...experience...worship."

Equip: He claims that Christians can become equipped for ministry "in the realm of the supernatural...through prayer...and prophecy." Oh, and there's a workshop.

Send: Those who have come off the streets to encounter God and, eventually, be equipped by the supernatural, are then sent out into the streets. What do they do there? Hear voices, see angels, lay hands, prophecy, etc.

(In another video which is much longer, Liebscher explains how the movement got started. You can find it here)

Liebscher claims that during a conversation with a close friend in 2007, he realized what this movement is really about. His friend talked about how there has been a lot of movement concerning prayer and fasting-- or as he called it, the ministry of John the Baptist. As they talked through the new movement that Liebscher would be leading, they came to an understanding that the Jesus Culture would be a movement concerning signs and wonders-- like the ministry of Jesus Christ-- which followed John the Baptist in the biblical narrative. That's the driving force behind what they do.

There are so many issues with what is going on here that I literally do not know where to begin. Because this is the case, I guess I will start at the most fundamental flaw with Jesus Culture. The conferences have no gospel substance. If anyone wants to boast about an enounter with God (let alone claim the same type of ministry as that of Christ), then he needs to at least be preaching the good news.

I have yet to find, and it is perhaps because I have not looked incredibly hard (yet, I shouldn't have to), anything with Jesus Culture's name on it that explains the gospel. By "gospel," I mean the following elements:

  • The sinfulness of man
  • The deity of Jesus Christ
  • The life, death, and resurrection of Christ explained
  • A message of salvation by grace through faith

It's really not a complicated message for those who have believed it. However, I am unable to find these four basic principles tied to anything this organization is putting out. Once again, I haven't looked super hard; but should I have to?

This is the message that should be at the center of "encountering God." This is the message that sould be at the center of "equipping saints." This is the message that should be "sent out" to the streets.

Secondly, and not surprisingly, the conferences focus on personal experience. Revival seems to have evolved into this label for events that minimize Scripture and lift up colored lights, cool music, fashionable speakers, and emotionalistic messages. The original revival took place at Pentecost. What happened there?

Acts 2:36-41

36  [Peter said] “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

What! No music? No appeal to emotions? No fashion (remember, Peter was a fisherman)? No electricity? How on earth did they do it?

Oh, I know how they did it. They preached the gospel. They obeyed Jesus and preached, baptized, and taught. Verses 42-47 talks about the continuation of this group of people. It looks vastly different than that of Jesus Culture, which keeps all "converts" in-house so that they can be equipped, not by the "apostles' teaching" (v. 42), but by some supernatural manifestation. It's sad to say the least.

Honestly, I could go on and on about the things I see wrong with this movement, but I should really stop here. These two titanic errors being made by Jesus Culture should be enough to make us all back away from what they are doing.

And the reason it is here in the "Spiritual Mysticism" section of my blog is because I believe it is exactly that. They want people to experience the supernatural. They have created this idea (mysticism) of signs and wonders for the modern age and called it revival. Unfortunately, Jesus Culture will only be confusing unbelievers and apostatizing the believers.

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