Monday, May 12, 2008

Pentecost Transformation

God is doing great things around the globe. The gospel is spreading like wildfire—driven by the Holy Spirit. This fantastic growth is happening almost everywhere; that is, except North America and Western Europe (“NA/WE”). Oh sure, there are places where God is drawing people to himself, there are pockets here and there, churches here and there. Any honest examination of the church world-wide will cause a person to see the sad facts concerning the church in North America and Western Europe.

God is the same—at all times and all places. Jesus Christ is the same—at all times and all places. The Holy Spirit is the same—at all times and all places. “So what is different?” you might be asking. Well… it’s the people!

For the next couple of days I am going to think “out loud” about what I think some of the issues are. You can feel free to add additional ideas later in the series—and to comment on the current issue.

Out of touch with and fear of the supernatural:

Satan’s biggest accomplishment in NA/WE is convincing the church that the supernatural isn’t real. I mean REALLY REAL! Oh sure, we give lip service to the spirit world but we really don’t believe it. We don’t want to have anything to do with it. Can you imagine a football team going out onto the field to play their game blindfolded? The team is pretending that the opponent isn’t there. The team is going to run the plays that were drawn up in the locker room. They have done those plays so many times that they can do them with their eyes covered. That is what the NA/WE church seems to be doing.

You say that you believe in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit and the spirit world? Prove it! When was the last time you (or your church) had to deal the demons and the demonic? When was the last time someone spoke in tongues during worship? When was the last time someone was supernaturally healed during one of your worship services? Evergreen Presbyterian Church is just as guilty as most churches in NA/WE—well, sort of. We have had to deal with demons and demonic activity. We have had a “word of knowledge” during a special worship service. However, most of our church would be VERY uncomfortable with these issues.

How many Presbyterian pastors do not believe in the person of Satan? It is a fairly large number. How many Methodist pastors do not believe in the person of Satan? It is an even larger number than in the Presbyterian Church. How many Episcopal, UCC, Congregational, ELCA and American Baptist pastors do not believe in the person of Satan? The answer is “far too many.”

The Apostle Paul writes, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) How can we win a battle against a foe that we do not believe exists?

A weak, cerebral Christian church in NA/WE has caused people to look elsewhere for a supernatural religious experience. People long for something greater than themselves. People long for a tangible experience with the supernatural. The NA/WE gives them liturgy and form—other “religions” give them supernatural experiences. A person can drive a few miles from Graham, Washington, to see/experience J.Z Knight “channel” Ramtha (and pay thousands of $$$ for the experience). People dabble in religions where they can receive power from crystals, where they can cast spells, where they can consult mediums to learn about the future.

Mean while, the NA/WE church fights about the ordination of practicing, non-repentant, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender persons. We ordain people who do not believe that Jesus bodily rose from the dead. We are losing the battle because it is a spiritual battle—and we don’t even like to recognize that the supernatural really exists.

I attended Fuller Theological Seminary back in the ‘80s. John Wimber and Peter Wagner taught a class in the School of World Missions on the Holy Spirit (move down the linked article to the section on the class). This class recognized that missionaries were going to be confronted with supernatural powers. Defeating these supernatural entities would be an important step in taking the gospel around the world. The class exposed the students to many of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit. The class was the most difficult class on campus to get into—students in the School of World Missions had first choice and then the rest of the students based on how close they were to graduating. The School of Theology professors HATED the class. The said that you can’t teach and demonstrate those kinds of spiritual gifts. I am positive that the professors “believed” that those gifts and the supernatural” battle were real—the class just didn’t fit in with their idea of scripture, seminary and the church. The School of Theology professors demanded that the class be ended. Sure enough, they were able to kill the class.

The NA/WE church is out of touch with the Holy Spirit and the supernatural. Our seminaries (denominational and non-denominational) do not help the situation. We try to fight against a foe we do not understand and without the supernatural tools that God has provided us.

God weeps.