By Brannon S. Howse
Much as redefining the mission of the Church requires misuse of Scripture to support the point, redefining Christian unity manipulates the Bible as well as people in the pew. For instance, in an interview on EWTN, the Global Catholic Network, Rick Warren talked about how there can be unity between Roman Catholics and Protestants, but the only we can have true biblical unity is through the correct practice, teaching, and adherence to God’s Word.
Another factor weighing in favor of redefined unity is the widespread politically correct insistence on “tolerance.” To suggest any reason for dis-unity, no matter how sound the reasoning, is to incur accusations of being unloving, unkind, intolerant, hateful, or bigoted. As a result, people who uphold biblical truth are labeled as the dissenters. This manipulation strategy is a spin-off of the Hegelian dialectic, called the Delphi technique. It leverages “group consensus” to turn those who hold a desired viewpoint against “dissenters” who hold an undesirable one. This goes on in many churches, in public forums, and school board meetings, to name a few venues. Generally, an appointed facilitator, who has been briefed on using the Delphi technique, appoints other facilitators for small groups. Because the “correct” agenda has already been set up by the large group, any contrary opinion from small group discussions can be easily demonized through the divide-and-conquer approach. Anyone who goes against the intended Delphi consensus is quickly shut down. Dissenters are usually intimidated into leaving or shamed into capitulating. In order to assure this new unity, compromise is allowable on everything—including biblical truth. In his EWTN interview, Rick Warren shared the “Christianized” version of unifying:
[quote] [W]e need to go back to the words of St. Augustine. You know: In the essentials, we have unity, in the nonessentials, we have liberty, and in all things we show charity. And I think this is really true. Now, I think, as the world becomes increasingly—particularly the Western culture—more secular, more antichristian. We’re seeing, for instance, religious liberties being threatened and things like that. It is really incumbent of all Christians, of every brand and stripe that we join together on the things that we share in common. [end quote]
Warren then listed the questions which need to be answered affirmatively to make sure we’re all really Christians and can be unified:
[quote] Do you believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
Do you believe Jesus Christ rose?
Do you believe He died on the cross?
Do you believe in hell and heaven?
Do you believe the Bible’s God’s Word? [end quote]
For anyone who answers “yes” to those questions (including the Roman Catholic interviewer on the program), Warren concludes:
[quote] Then we’re on the same team. We might not agree on all of the minors, but we are Christians. And here’s the thing. People don’t realize how big the Church really is. It’s the largest organization on planet earth. We don’t have anything to apologize for. There’s 600 million Buddhists in the world. There are 800 million Hindus in the world. There are about 1.5 billion Muslims. But there are 2.3 billion Christians who would say, “I believe Jesus is who He claimed to be, the Son of God.” That means one out of every three people on this planet. The Church is bigger than China. The Church is bigger than China and India put together. Nothing is bigger, and we have more outlets. I could take you to ten million villages around the world [where] the only thing in it is a church. That’s why there is no global problem—poverty, disease, illiteracy, or whatever—that can be solved without the Church. [end quote]
Notice that Rick Warren right at the beginning says that our religious liberties are threatened, so we should all just come together, but that is part of the intended “unity” process. President Obama’s extreme left-wing politics have scared evangelicals and Roman Catholics alike. As a result, “protecting our religious liberties” has become such a rallying cry that nothing else matters. That’s why people like Jerry Falwell, Jr., Glenn Beck, and Rick Warren can agree to “set aside theology and doctrine” in order to combat this political threat. Yet, as I said before, that is not the proper mission of the Church. It plays right into the hands of globalists.
Later in the above quote from Rick Warren, he outlines another way in which “unity” is accomplished. He argues that we all agree on the big issues like the authority of the Bible and who Jesus is. But he’s talking about what we have in common with Roman Catholicism, and as I’ve explained earlier, we definitely do not agree on these “essentials.” Rome has a different Jesus, and the issue of who Jesus is and what the Gospel is cannot be called minor issues among praying to Mary and the saints, and other such things. Warren also claims that we don’t realize how big the Church actually is, and although his statistics make good interview fodder, a more accurate description is that we actually don’t realize how small the Church is—“narrow is the way,” remember? A better understanding is to think that true Christians today are a remnant.
Finally, Warren claims that all the global problems can be solved by a church or a religious group, because if you travel the world, you’ll see churches all over the place. His assessment, though, is part of the globalist three-legged stool—derived straight from Peter Drucker’s communitarianism in which the Church becomes a tool of social reform. The worldwide socialism that this portends, though, does not solve the problems. Socialism only makes problems like chronic poverty much worse. Capitalism and free markets set nations free, economically speaking, and reduce poverty.
Free market capitalism rejuvenates nations. Places in America that suffer blight and social disintegration are generally where socialistic programs have been tried as solutions. Public housing and redistribution of wealth through welfare will destroy a city. Free markets, on the other hand, provide incentive to build, maintain, protect, and to improve your own business, house, and buildings. Bear in mind, I’m still not saying that promoting capitalism should be the Church’s foremost priority. Regardless of economic system, the Gospel always comes first. Then, without compromising, we can promote biblical alternatives for culture and society.
Rick Warren’s church-will-solve-the-problem strategy is the mark of a global false church and communitarianism. It opens the door to the belief in a false unity of believers and unbelievers—not what Jesus prayed for in John 17. The Lord clearly had in mind unity among believers empowered and indwelled by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who would come after Jesus was crucified, buried, resurrected, and had ascended into heaven. Apparently, though, Rick Warren doesn’t mind redefining Jesus’ words either. He perceives a non-existent commonality among people who call themselves Christians. Here is what Rick said in an interview with the Catholic News Service:
[quote] We have far more in common than what divides us. When you talk about Pentecostals, Charismatics, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Catholics, the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and on and on and on and on, well, they would all say we believe in the Trinity; we believe in the Bible; we believe in the resurrection; we believe salvation is through Jesus Christ. These are the big issues.
Sometimes Protestants think that Catholics worship Mary, like she’s another god. But that’s not exactly Catholic doctrine. There’s the understanding—and people say, “Well, what are the saints all about? Why are you praying to the saints?” And when you understand what they mean by what they’re saying, there’s a whole lot more commonality. Now, there’s still real differences, no doubt about that. But the most important thing is if you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.
The unity that I think we would see realistically is not a structural unity, but a unity of mission. And so, when it comes to the family, we are co-workers in the field on this for the protection of what we call the sanctity of life, the sanctity of sex, and the sanctity of marriage. So, there’s a great commonality, and there’s not division on any of those three.
Many times people have been beaten down for taking a biblical stance. And they start to feel, “Well, maybe I’m out here all by yourself.” No, you’re not. The Church is growing in Latin America. The Church is growing in Asia. The Church is growing in Africa. It’s not growing in North America or Europe, but it is growing everywhere else. And so we kind of have this feeling that maybe we’re not as influential, but we’re far more influential than people realize. [end quote]
Unlike Warren, the church I believe is growing is the false harlot church which will ultimately implement a religious Reich. That’s what Rick is seeing around the world—and it’s not the true Church of Jesus Christ.
The social issues of the day are being used to widen the definition of unity and bring about ecumenicalism. Catholics and evangelicals will call each other Christians in order to win the culture war, but besides the fact that God does not need us to compromise biblical truth to win the culture war, the culture war is already lost. Our culture is a symptom of the spiritual condition of the nation, and we see in the Scriptures that it’s going to get worse and worse, resulting in a great falling away from traditionally held biblical truths. While many claim they are defending our liberties for the sake of the Gospel, they are really compromising the Gospel for the sake of liberty. We’ve gotten to the point where liberals and conservatives end up at the same place even though they get there from different directions. The social justice of the left is man-centered, thinking we can bring about social justice through bigger government and more taxes, but so is the right. The man-centeredness of the right says, “We need less government, less taxes, and we can do it ourselves.” At the heart of both is the belief that if we all just come together, we can solve the world’s problems.
Two other prominent Christian teachers who align with Rick Warren’s thinking are Beth Moore and Joyce Meyer. The two women shared their unbiblical view of unity in a video conversation that went like this:
MEYER: And I could not sit here right now and tell you that I even know if you and I agree about every little fine point of our doctrines, but I can say that I agree with your spirit, agree with your heart, I agree with, I agree with everything that you’re teaching and doing in the body of Christ. And it just hurts me that people have to argue and hurt the heart of God over things that really just don’t make any sense. . . . It's like, “If you guys can’t get along, why would we want to get involved in it?”
MOORE: Yes. Yes, the witness of our disunity out there is deplorable. It is deplorable. And I feel exactly the same way. . . . It is too late on the kingdom calendar for all our segmentation.
MOORE: It is too late; it’s not going to work. And you’re right; it is heartbreaking. And it’s insulting. It’s insulting to Christ. So, it is a day for us to come together and say, “We love the same Jesus.”
MOORE: “We love the same Scripture.” [end of transcript]
It’s insulting to Christ that we don’t come together? Not hardly. In Scripture, He’s told us not to come together in unity with those who don’t follow Him. Disobeying His Word, though, is insulting to Christ. It’s a sin.
And do we really “love the same Jesus”? Does Beth Moore believe in the Word of Faith Jesus who came to earth as a man, later became God, then ceased to be God as he went to hell as a man, and then was resurrected as God? If she does, then she believes a different gospel. Unfortunately, people like Meyer and Moore don’t seem to understand what the Bible really teaches at all. And that’s why we have a religious system today that’s helping to implement a false global church that will eventually lead to a religious Reich.
The rush toward ecumenical unity brings together factions that would in a less tumultuous movement remain apart for good reasons. Sometimes it’s equally surprising who they leave out of the “unity circle” as well. Francis Chan, a Neo-Calvinist, has made warm connections with Mike Bickle of the New Apostolic Reformation, yet he rejects biblically conservative Mike Gendron. Gendron, who has been a guest on my radio show, was invited to speak at Chan’s church. Since Gendron spent 37 years as a Roman Catholic before leaving the Church of Rome, he has much to say about the unbiblical teachings of Rome—and he said many of them at Chan’s church. In response, Chan apologized to those in attendance for the “divisive” things Gendron said and closed the event without allowing a question-and-answer interchange.
By contrast, Chan spoke at the church of Mike Bickle, leader of Kansas City’s International House of Prayer (IHOP), a church that prays 24/7 that they would take dominion and that a secret indwelling of Jesus would come into His Church before He comes for His Church. Their hope is that new prophets and apostles will be raised up to tell presidents and kings and the Church what they should be doing. IHOP is a theological cult, but that didn’t stop Francis Chan from fawning over Bickle and his congregation:
[quote] This is the first time I’ve ever been to an IHOP event. Yeah, which is—it’s kinda crazy to me, because I didn’t know that much. And, you know, so I kinda went on the Internet and started looking things up, and I go, “Man, there’s a lot of great things going on here.” And today was the first time I ever met Mike Bickle, and I love that guy. I do. . . .
[A]nd Mike knows; we’ve talked about this, you know. There’s people that told me not to hang out with him. . . . Words like creepy come up. And yet, I get to know this guy, and I’m going, “Man, I love his heart.” And I just want to publicly say I love Mike Bickle. You know? And it’s, it’s not like we do in church so often, where it’s like, “Okay, I’m okay with that guy; I’m okay with that guy.” I’m thinking, “What does God in heaven want?” He doesn’t want me and Mike just to be okay with each other. He wants us to see each other as brothers where, “Man, I’ll give you the shirt off my back. You know? I’ll give you whatever you need.” That type of love. That’s what God wants from us.
And I know you don’t really know me; I don’t really know you. And I’m sure there’s some theological differences in there somewhere, but there’s so much that we agree upon. . . . I was reading about the fruit of the Spirit, and then it talks about the deeds of the flesh, and how the deeds of the flesh are dissension and division. And it’s not what God wants. But there’s this love and this unity. Like not just a normal love, but like a supernatural, by the power of the Holy Spirit, where the world should look on and say, “I’ve never seen people love that much. I’ve never seen them forgive like that. I’ve never seen people sacrifice for each other like that.” That’s what God wants with us. [end quote]
God’s Word does admonish us not to have division in the New Testament Church because of being selfish or self-centered. We’re not to let our selfishness and individual desires create divisions. But God does call us to have division with false teachers. As Paul said, “I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to doctrine which you learned and avoid them” (Romans 16:17, emphasis mine). Notice in Paul’s instruction that it isn’t Christians who are causing the division; it’s unbelievers, the apostate. If they were to repent of their sins, place their faith, and trust in Christ, and reject their false Jesus and false gospel, they could have unity with us in fellowship—and it would be biblical unity. But until that happens, we cannot have unity with them. Francis Chan must have enjoyed his time at the IHOP conference because according to the IHOP website, Chan was part of the December 2015, IHOP conference again. This is an organization that many have called a theological cult.
Crossover between churches and the media also contributes to many people’s broadened definition of unity. For example, Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, invited Roma Downey to promote her NBC mini-series A.D. during one of Prestonwood’s worship services. Jack Graham’s on-stage accolades for Downey reflects the redefining of unity we’ve been discussing:
[quote] I mean you and [Roma’s husband] Mark are a Hollywood couple, and you’re well known. And you’re also well known for your faith, and we love that here at Prestonwood. And Christians everywhere admire you, thank God for you. . . .
And we could help get the word out. And social media is a great way to do this. In fact, I want to encourage you to start right now on social media. You could take a picture of me and Roma, if you’d like, and put it out there, or just Roma— that would be a lot better—and put . . . # Jesus on NBC. . . . Let’s get the word out, but your own personal witness, inviting people. Watch parties. There’s curriculum if you want to do a home Bible study. There’s all kinds of ways. But we’re believing God at this Easter season to reach people at an unprecedented pace. And, you know, you’ll hear in the message, these are uncertain times; these are dangerous times. But in the midst of the darkness, God is raising up the message of the light of Jesus Christ. And, Roma and Mark, thank you for helping us, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, get this message out. Thank Roma right now and promise to pray for A.D. the series. [end quote]
Yet, as I’ve already made clear, spreading the version of Jesus portrayed by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett is not getting out the biblical Gospel or portraying the biblical Jesus. And the curriculum Graham promotes to go with the TV program? Again, it doesn’t teach the biblical Jesus. One of the curriculum contributors, for instance, is Mark Batterson who also authored The Circle Maker, a Word of Faith, name-it-and-claim-it book.
Sadly, even one-time conservative, biblical evangelical pastor and writer David Jeremiah praises Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. At their request, he’s actually written a book for the A.D. series. On one of his programs, he explains his work with Burnett and Downey:
[quote] Before I sign off today, I want to give you an upfront, exciting notice about something that’s going to happen here in just a few days. On the ninth of April, which is Easter, there’s a new television series which will debut on NBC, and it is called A.D.: The Bible Continues. It’s the story of the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ and the growth of the church through the eleventh chapter of the book of Acts.
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are producing this. It will be an incredible presentation of that period of church history, beginning with the death of Christ and His resurrection. We have been privileged to have been asked to write a book that will accompany this series and give the doctrinal background and teaching that goes behind it, and we will have a chapter . . . for every episode that will be on television that night. I’ll be preaching on that on Sunday mornings on our television program in coincidence with what happens that night. And during the week, we’ll be teaching the book of Acts here on Turning Point.
This is an exciting opportunity for us to join with these wonderful producers and share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on a platform like nothing we have ever dreamed. I hope you’ll pray with us as we move toward that time. We’ll be giving you more information as we arrive. And thanks again for joining us. I’m David Jeremiah. [end quote]
An even more remarkable example of this “wide net” of unity finds Southern Baptists joining in fellowship with Mormons. Southern Baptist pastor Lynn Ridenhour promotes his “Building Bridges” concept through his website, lynnsbridgebuilding.com. He openly preaches from both the Bible and the Book of Mormon and has been a featured speaker at the LDS school, Brigham Young University. In “A Witness of Restoration,” an article in a Brigham Young publication, Keith J. Wilson described the event:
- [quote] On a cold, wintery Friday, this past January, religious education faculty gathered to hear a guest lecturer, Dr. Lynn Ridenhour, address them. . . .
- It was an unusual meeting for a number of reasons. For starters, Dr. Ridenhour was perhaps the first ordained Baptist minister to address BYU religious education faculty on our campus. But what was most unusual about this meeting was the disposition of Ridenhour toward Mormonism, and more specifically, toward The Book of Mormon. For about an hour that morning, this Baptist preacher recounted his conversion to The Book of Mormon. He explained why he preaches, in his Baptist congregations, from both the Bible and The Book of Mormon.
- He has always centered his message in these terms, saying, “I believe Bible-believing Christians and Book of Mormon Christians have far more in common than all our differences. And are there differences? Of course. But it’s time that we beginning celebrating our commonalities. That is the drum I beat.” . . .
- His second attraction to the restoration centered in our understanding of community. “Joseph, the prophet,” he stated, “just didn’t build churches; he built cities. He built communities. He understood that authentic Christianity is an expression of doctrine and community.” Then Lynn concluded his thought with, “Yes, I’m attracted to community.” [end quote] (emphasis mine)
Ridenhour’s endorsement gets to the heart of ecumenical unity. “Community” is what it’s all about. We should have group consensus, or community, and it’s similar to what was going on in Nazi Germany as Martin Heidegger encouraged community among “German Christians,” as they called themselves. Make no mistake, as in Germany, the idea of community always asserts that we must set aside doctrinal distinctives and come together for collective salvation.
Community, of course, is another euphemism for compromise, consensus, and group-think. Ridenhour’s website even reaches back in time and explains how he embraced social radicals of the 1960s and 70s:
- [quote] “Lord, bless those hippies.” That’s all I said.
- And the Lord spoke back, “If you really want me to bless them, go live with them.” That really caught me off guard. I told Him, “Lord, I was just praying for them.” He wouldn’t let me alone. For weeks I kept hearing, “…go live with them…go live with them….”
- In our early twenties, recently baptized in the Holy Spirit, my bride and I sponsored Randy Clark and Phil Keaggy for a Jesus concert out in the park, was mentored by Derek Prince, attended Kathryn Kuhlman meetings, enrolled in Bill Gothard’s Institute of Basic Youth Conflicts, read the New Wine magazine, listened to the music of Andrae Crouch, Petra, Love Song, and Larry Norman, went to Kenneth Hagin’s healing seminars, invited the young youth evangelist, Winkey Pratney, to come teach us, passed out Jesus Papers on the streets and started a halfway house where we invited hippies to come live with us. . . .
- It’s the late ’70s and the Lord is leading my wife and me to go back to college and finish our degrees. We’re college dropouts. So I turned over the Upper Room [Ridenhour’s ministry at the time] to a young man named Mike Bickle. My wife and I went back to college. . . .
- Mike eventually went on to Kansas City and started KC Metro Fellowship – a fellowship that gave birth to the “Kansas City prophets,” and eventually International House of Prayer. [end quote]
Mike Bickle’s start in ministry was fostered by someone who even believes the Mormon bible is from God and whose ministry mission statement is “to bring together Book of Mormon believers from all the various groups, and to bring together reformation Christians and restoration Christians.” Note from the Ridenhour’s appearance at Brigham Young University how greatly he reveres The Book of Mormon: [quote]
- [quote] When I [first] read, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents,” I knew. I really did. I knew that I was reading God’s word. And I kept looking for the weird stuff, and I would read through Nephi, and then 2 Nephi, and I did. You know, we were taught some—I call ’em “caricature beliefs” regarding The Book of Mormon. And I did not find one thing that contradicted the Bible. In fact, sometimes I tell my Baptist buddies, “The Book of Mormon is more Baptist than the Baptist Hymnal.” And it is in places; it really is. It’s jam packed full of what I call “cardinal themes of Protestantism.”
- I’ve been invited to speak in Baptist churches, Pentecostal churches, and the way I present The Book of Mormon is essentially that is Christ-centered. So, whether or not you’re a Baptist, or a Methodist, or a Pentecostal, or whatever, I approach it through the lens of the same Jesus, that I met as an 11-year-old lad in a Baptist church, I discovered in this book. That’s my approach is the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ. I tell my Baptist friends, “I feel like I have been born again, again.” [end quote]
Ridenhour claims to build his beliefs around the centrality of Jesus, but it is not the Jesus of the Bible. The Book of Mormon makes it clear that God Himself was a man of flesh and bone, who evolved to become God. “As man is, God was, and as God is, man can become” is a popular Mormon saying. Mormons don’t worship the same God as biblical Christians. I feel sad for Lynn Ridenhour—and even more for the people who sit under his teaching. He’s deceiving them by preaching this unbiblical message.
Many church leaders today are calling to bring together evangelicals and Mormons, just as there has been a call to bring together evangelicals and Catholics. Based on what we are seeing take place, is it any wonder that the Mother of Harlots of Revelation 17:3-6 will be able gather her children back together in Babylon? In the face of this, I’ve been accused of being “divisive,” but here’s the alarm I’m trying to sound:
[quote] Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. And also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. [end quote] (Acts 20:28-31)
The “savage wolves” Paul warns about come from within the Church, and that’s what we’re seeing in all of these instances. One may be himself a Baptist minister teaching that we also need to learn from the Mormon bible. Another may be an Evangelical Free Church person encouraging us to follow the false prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation or to be involved in contemplative prayer. It might be the Nazarenes or Southern Baptists pushing the idea of Creation Care. Whoever they are, we’re warned against them.
Copyright 2015 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.