Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Failed Reformation of the 80's

.... Like many of the readers of this blog, I was part of a special crop of Christians who came to the Lord in 1978-1981. They seemed to have such fervor and passion in seeking the Lord that their devotion would be unmatched for another generation. We were confident we would be used by the Lord to usher in the return of Christ, and we were fully prepared to devote our lives to this. But then, amazingly, came a word of warning:

.... "When God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt, He intended for that generation to go in and possess the land. Nevertheless, when they proved faithless, their bodies fell in the wilderness as they wandered forty years, and God did this work through their children.

.... "Likewise God has a plan for our generation in following Him. But if we turn aside, He is able to wait for another generation who will have this faith."

(see 1 Cor 10:5,11)

.... The people who heard this prophecy received it gladly, being fully convinced of our ultimate success and thus that the warning was moot. Nevertheless, in the years that followed, most of this confidence failed. As shared in our previous posting, a Christ-centered emphasis did indeed emerge in 1982, and many within the church recognized it at the time. But successfully cultivating that movement was another matter entirely.
.... For example I spoke, in those days, to one of our pastors and showed him how the Lord’s emphasis had brought the church to the Knowledge of the Son of God (I’m assuming you’ve read our previous posting). His eyes lit up when he matched the Scriptures to our situation and he saw the correlation very clearly. He completely agreed and was taken with enthusiasm.
.... The next Sunday he preached one of the most Christ-centered sermons we had ever heard and the whole church rejoiced. The following Sunday he did so again. In the weeks that followed he tried a few more times but the emphasis was clearly losing steam.
.... Soon the church was disappointed and confused. Their shift toward the knowledge of Christ seemed unsustainable so they began to refocus outwardly. An emphasis on relationships, a focus on the family, and other horizontal connections were substituted as psychology rushed back in to fill the gap. I was dismayed to see the knowledge of the Son of God falter so quickly, and it brought me to a very sobering realization.
.... Please think about this for a moment, and try to be honest with yourself. If you were to preach a Christ-centered sermon today, what would you say? We all have a wonderful lesson that we've experienced, that we’d love to pass along to others. Maybe two. Maybe three? But after our personal experience peters out, we’d have to start digging for new material. Soon, our Christ-centered sermons would degenerate into pep rallies and we would start to feel discouraged about them. Can this really be all there is? Does it really mean that our walk with Christ has been so shallow? Could we really say it all in just one or two weeks? Then what?
.... I struggled with this perspective like everyone else in those days. I realized that we were woefully unprepared to pursue it. We had asked our leaders to teach us, and they had tried but could go no further. The prophecy I mentioned brought sorrow to my heart because I saw our generation failing and it seemed we could do nothing about it. The learning curve was simply too great.
.... I did realize, however (in returning to the analogy of Israel possessing the land), that the entire generation of the Exodus had not perished in the wilderness. Two survivors, Joshua and Caleb, had endured the long dusty march and had come to the promised land at last, before the end of their days. In fact, they were the only ones who had been there before and they had not lost faith the entire time. This was a sobering new challenge for one who had been so hopeful just a short time earlier, but if that was all that was left to me, I set my heart to prepare for it.
.... Our own hope had slipped beneath the horizon and the long wildreness march lay ahead. But when that next generation came along I wanted to be prepared and know what steps we must take so I could enter in with them. We will talk about the next generation and those necessary steps in our next two postings.

To proceed to the next posting, scroll below.


  • MaryAnn M. said...
    its one of the sore spots i have with the current phase of the prophetic..they keep talking about the generation that is coming that the youth will rise up and not be dismayed. They will rise up in authority and power and yada yada yada...they will scale tall buildings...yada yada yada

    my question is: if MY generation has failed and died in the wildnerness...what have I passed on to my kids. and how can what I have learned and died from be any sort of help to them if THEY are the ones to scale the walls, etc.??

    Yes, i could be a Joshua. I could get the vision and try to lead these kids into what God is calling the Church to... i am rambling and i am not sure where i am going with it...

    i suppose, what i mean to say is: prophetically, they have been sittin back and easily puttin responsibility on the great and awesome generation to come

    ...what if this is it?
    what if it is MY baton to carry? If not us?then who?
    If not now? when?
    ....there..that is what was trying to come out...whew.

    back to taxes...ugh!!

    3/23/2005 4:57 PM

    loren said...
    Hi Maryann,

    I've never heard of anyone else giving prophecy like that about the next generation, but if someone else is saying the same, there is reason to consider it fairly (Matt 18:16). For myself, I don't despise prophecy but I do prove all things and hold fast what is good (1 Thes 5:20,21). I think prophecy is useful when we do this (1 Tim 1:18), but this especially means proving it by the Scriptures to see if it is so.

    Actually though, very little of what I'm saying is prophecy in that sense. It is mostly observation that has been matched to Scripture (2 Peter 1:5-7). And because that particular passage introduced a sequence, it included a predictive element. This makes it much more sure than the type of prophecy you have mentioned (2 Pet 1:19).

    Now, I have heard someone saying that, according to the TV preachers, God's next major move will be in the 'prophetic'. And guess what? The prophets happen to be themselves.

    Without dismissing prophecy per se, I don't necessarily agree that it will be the next 'movement'. I think that if we're not careful, that can be a nice way for men to give themselves titles and receive honor from other men. I have noticed that Christians have a deploreable attention span, and they rarely follow up to see if prophecies come true. But I'm not that easy.

    But back to your specific question, and my specific prophecy, about the generation that would fail to enter in. Basically Paul foretold the same thing:

    ". . .But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness . . . now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come." (1 Cor 10:5,11)

    I gather, by your blogsite, that you and I are about the same age (I'm 47) so I'm not happy about the implicaitons either. I wanted to be gone 20 years ago. But ultimately, every generation that went before us (including the apostles) had the same lot in life. One generation, one day, will the last. If we can still prepare the way for them and then go in with them, sign me up. I'm not simply shifting responsibility to them, I studying diligently to actually play a part of my own.

    Your remarks do raise another concern for me. If someone is pumping up the present generation with flattery, I can't imagine a better way to ruin things and make them fall. The devil himself fell that way. I am keenly aware of the fact that Joshua and Caleb wandered in the wilderness for forty years, not just twenty. I sure hope it doesn't come to that again.

    Thanks for your remarks.

    3/23/2005 5:42 PM

    MaryAnn M. said...
    i wrote this long response and then it didnt go thru...the server died or something like that.

    i am 41.

    what i was gonna say was:
    you mentioned the KC was one of the "older" guard there...Bob was one of his visions that i remember so well about the coming youth revival.
    it makes them sound so strong, so capable, so superheros...
    my friend and i discussed how that made us feel like we were just passin the responsiblity on to a future generation and then sittin back.
    i have 2 teens now.
    my son has had several prophetic words over his lifetime. he would be a "john the baptist"...another said he would take this guy's mantle (God showed him that)..he was a prophet/evangelist.

    it made my son cry a bit this summer when we were talkin about endtimes stuff and how everything is ready for the end times...and that it just might be HIS generation that is IT.
    he cried a few tears cuz he wants to live his life, get married, have kids,...etc...
    all he could see was being cut short.

    like i said: i have 2 teens now so i see alot of teens.
    only a handful of them take their relationship with God seriously.
    the ones who were in our church before we left...they all sat with their heads down the whole sermon.
    their only real reason for attending youth stuff was social reasons. they were bored.

    but right now...i dont know what else to offer them....
    as a to tell them that yes, the church is a horrible bore...but the BIG C Church that Christ builds is a wonderful place to dwell.
    that is what i remember writing but my tax item tired brain is finished for the nite...
    hope the server doesnt choke on this post...cuz i aint writin it again! ;-)

    3/24/2005 12:43 AM

    loren said...
    Hi Maryann,

    I never heard of the KC prophets until about 3 weeks ago, when I asked Berry Alvis to tell me more. He just gave a general overview, mostly historical; but he didn't get into those prophecies.

    When I say that the emerging church has potential, it is my own observation and not a prophecy at all. This doesn't mean I think they're perfect; they also have some possible problem areas.

    In my opinion, it will take some time to build the end time church and there is a lot to do. But if I were young and wanted to get married, I wouldn't let such considerations stop me. In fact, forbidding to marry is one of the end time heresies (1 Tim 4:3) so don't let anyone tell you that's what it will mean. And of course, with marriage goes the rest of life - it all goes on, right until the end (Matt 24:38,39)

    Teens are bored with church because we do a lot that doesn't make sense to them. What I like about the emerging church is they are ready to re-examine everything to see what is valid and what is not, and they want it all proven to them by Scripture. You couldn't ask for better.

    You might try going to Berry's website and clicking on his Indie Allies link, and see if there is a group near you; they might be able to point your kids to a church in your area that they can relate to and really enjoy (yes, even here on the earth!)

    3/24/2005 3:01 AM

    MaryAnn M. said...
    there is one growing church here in town that seems to have a good youth group. The kids are active and seeking. We will probably encourage them to attend there.

    3/24/2005 9:21 AM

    MaryAnn M. said...

    3/24/2005 10:47 AM

    loren said...
    Hi Maryann,

    Thanks for the link (above), I read the article with a great deal of interest. I’d like to take some time and respond at length, but in order to be fair allow me to mention a few things first. I’m really not associated with the group the author is referring to. The conclusions I’ve reached were independent of theirs. I do see some similarities, but also some crucial differences, so that makes this a little awkward. The author has (constructively) criticized an apple, but the orange is responding. So to be fair to both of us, please try to keep that distinction in mind, and I’ll try to sort things out from there.

    The present generation, which the author refers to, believes they will enter the promised land, whereas previous generations had failed. This is similar, yet opposite, to my own perspective. In 1982, I reached the conclusion that my own generation would not be the ‘engine’ of that last movement, but this task would fall to a future generation. I have also said that the present generation may not, after all, be the generation that serves this purpose, but still another generation could arise after them if they also fail. So the author and I have connected in some ways, and some not, but mostly so.

    I was especially interested in his remark that every generation hears a similar message. Back in 1982, when I saw that the Lord was building in the church by the pattern of 2 Peter 1:5-7, I approached several of my pastors with this observation. I mentioned one of them in this posting, but I also spoke to a pastor who was about 60 years old, and asked him if he would judge some prophecy. He agreed and invited me to his office.

    As we sat down, he started by lowering my expectations to prepare me for a fall. He explaining that he was from a C of C background, and he was not a big believer in prophecy, but he would hear me anyway. I swallowed hard and made my case, comparing our own, recent church history to 2 Pet 1:5-7: “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” I made the correlations, and showed him that the Lord appeared to be working in our church according to that sequence; that we had reached the point of ‘knowledge’, and so it was reasonable to assume that the others steps in that sequence would follow (which they eventually did).
    He grew very somber when he heard all of this, and mulled it over quietly. He said this was not the type of prophecy he had expected to hear, but he had to admit that he was convinced by it. Then he said something else that has always seemed curious to me. “And as I think back, the Lord has tried to introduce this pattern several times before.”
    I had been a Christian for less than three years, so I didn’t know what he meant. But it reminds me now of something the author said, in quoting another, older pastor: that ‘Every generation gets the same message, that they will be the ones to enter the promised land.’ The older pastor seemed to be dismissing this, but I think it is much more likely that this is a genuine, standing challenge that God presents to each generation, and so the challenge is true.

    I don’t know church history well enough to point to this failed pattern in each generation, as my own pastor could from his personal knowledge (for at least a couple of generations prior). But let’s take a look at some of the well known movements of God in history, starting with an area of interest that you and I share.

    Perhaps the greatest movement of God in the church, since the 1st century, took place through the Protestant reformation. And what was Luther’s emphasis? That salvation came through faith alone. His sequence started with faith. And look what a powerful movement that was!

    But in time, the reformation gravitated toward the influence of John Calvin, who wrote at length about predestination. The unintended effect was that Christians began to regard predestination as the power of God to salvation, and the gospel became a ‘formality’ in this process (see Rom 1:16). Salvation was limited to certain persons, so why try to evangelize others whom, in their opinion, God never would have called in the first place? In other words, faith as a connection with God became lost.

    In response God raised up John Wesley, and another stage of Reformation took place. Wesley adopted the doctrines of Armenianism which, though less weighty than Calvinism, did have the virtue of answering the questions that Calvinism could not. Especially, that anyone who believed the gospel could be saved. The faith connection was restored. I regard this as another stage of Reformation because the Methodist Church brought doctrinal changes that allowed them to evangelize the world.

    I know that both of these reformations had forerunners in earlier generations, who had tried to accomplish similar things, so there is further evidence of a generational challenge. And without doing injustice to the other major movements of church history, they all came down to believing God and restoring the faith relationship. According to Peter, this was always the starting point, and it required a desire to move onward with diligence (for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue . . . ) I have even thought that maybe this is why the Word of Faith movement, with all of its problems, still lingers. With some reform, it is still needed as a platform from which the next generation of reformers will spring.

    Each time, the generation in question made progress -- but then the man of God who led their movement died. His basic desire to 'add with all diligence', or to move onward, faded, and instead his followers looked back at his core teachings and formed a new denomination around them. They wanted to stay put. Soon, another reformer would have to arise to at least restore the desire to move onward.

    In this way, the previous generations were not simply dismissed. But rather, to paraphrase Newton, the next generation was able to see a little further because they were able to stand on their predecessor's shoulders.

    Maryann, this comments is already way too long, so I’ll have to come back with more later.

    3/24/2005 4:12 PM

    MaryAnn M. said...
    LOL..your comments are as long as your blogposts!! LOL
    i just ran across that article and tossed it at you as thought material.

    3/24/2005 4:32 PM

    MaryAnn M. said...
    i see the point i think you are making.
    each generation gets a call to FOLLOW.
    there have been many "reformations" and movements.

    although the end result was less than desirable because either the lead man died...or the lead men got too involved and pushed God out of the way...

    i see us now standing on the edge of one of those times now.

    nothing previous "fits"
    the old school prophetic seems to be changing to a new breed.
    the culture is changing.

    in all of this...there is a sadness that yet again, God has to look to someone else to "do the stuff"

    3/24/2005 4:42 PM

    loren said...
    Hi Maryann,

    I’m back! Looks like you've added a couple more comments while I was working on a follow-up, so let me post what I was working on . . .

    . . . Allow me to comment more directly on the article you have mentioned, by Rob McAlpine. By it, I see where some of your apprehensions are coming from, but I also think I’ll be able to alleviate some of them.

    Apparently the group the author is criticizing has an ‘exclusive’ mentality: that they will belong to the Lord at His coming, but others won’t. Based on the story of Joshua and Caleb, they believe they will ‘enter the promised land’ where previous generations have failed. Through this, the author believes they are proud, judgmental, disrespectful of parents, rebellious, and slanderous.

    I think there is both truth and error in the group the author describes. I do believe their generation has a special calling (as does the author). But I think the fruit he is seeing is where the devil is trying to fight them with pride, in an attempt to ruin everything – which pride usually does. This is one of my two biggest fears for the emerging church, so I certainly hope they get the message!

    Now I, too, have mentioned the Joshua and Caleb scenario, but here is a crucial difference. Their generation failed to enter the promise land because of a lack of faith. My generation has failed because of a lack of knowledge. Our faith has not necessarily failed. So I don’t think my generation has been written off, I just think they will not be the zealous troopers who storm the world with this message, as might have been. To speak in general terms, that calling will fall to the younger generation much more heavily now.

    The problem I have with that article is that it is somewhat reactionary. The author scold the younger generation, and in the process seems to place the former generations above criticism, which is simply another form of exclusivism. The truth is, the church is never going to get anywhere if we’re not willing to honestly reexamine what we are doing, and if we’re not willing to make changes (2 Cor 13:5). In this sense, it’s not about the former generations any more than it is the younger: it’s always about serving the Lord, and He needs to remain our only worthy focus (Jn 14:6; Eph 4;21). Within this focus I have advocated a broad dialogue, which everyone must approach with an open mind, regardless of their age (Eph 4:13-16).

    Like the author, my heart is for all generations to come together in serving the Lord, and I’ve explained how I believe the Lord would like to pursue this. But having said that as an ideal and a heartfelt desire, I must also face some of the realities that Jesus foretold (Rom 14:4).

    In the end times, there will be generational divisions. Based on the Scriptures, I don’t see any way to avoid this unfortunate conclusion, and that Jesus Himself will be their point of their contention: ”For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' (Matt 10:35-36).

    In this passage (and similar passages) please notice that Jesus is not saying which generation is correct! I believe that from one household to the next, it will depend on which individuals are seeking the knowledge of the Son of God: in one house the older may be correct, and in the next it may be the younger. But based on 1 Cor 10:5,11, I do believe that, however that works out, in the end, the younger Christians within the ‘correct’ group will be the ones who bear the brunt of the burden, in the sense of spreading the message. And from my own observation, they are the one who are (presently) more willing to reexamine things, so I find it likely that there will be more of them (Eccl 4:13). May this respectfully provoke some of the older generations to join in a constructive dialogue!

    One last thought in response to the author. The truth is that the church of all time, including our own generations to date, has failed in a general sense to fulfill the church’s destiny in the earth. If we had completed this calling, the Lord would have returned by now (2 Pet 3:12; Rev 19:7). But this does not mean we have failed to further the whole, great purpose, and bring it closer to its consummation.

    Some have failed in this. Others have played an important role. But as a whole we have not finished, so we still need to maintain an attitude of pressing onward. In that sense I respect the progress of the past, but I am also not willing to settle for the status quo. Giving all diligence, we must be willing to grow some more if we are ever to reach the fullness of His stature and a perfect man (Eph 4:13).

    3/24/2005 6:11 PM

    loren said...
    Yes, my blog spots and comments are long and also too time consuming! But I eventually want the old articles to become a teaching tool for the church, so it's for posterity.

    Starting in April I would like to examine the basics of the faith. I'll try to post something every other day, and those blogspots (which I've already written) are about half as long as they have been.

    3/24/2005 7:02 PM

    MaryAnn M. said...
    didnt really mean for you to believe that i believed what the article said...just found it and thought..HEY...this is kinda/sorta related to what Loren is talkin about...
    now...back to your regularly scheduled blogs...

    3/25/2005 12:55 AM

    berry said...

    I think in every generation that has a zeal and an open heart toward the Lord there is a revelation of Jesus that comes forth. It happens through prophecy and in other forms. This revelation is so other worldy that it shakes us as humans to the core. We get a taste of the kingdom of God in it's fullness and the outcome is a true excitement.

    This revelatory nature of how God works and the excitement that it generates in the human heart as they encounter the living Christ enevitably creates a movement. The people who are getting revelation have a measure of influence and authority that other nominal Chistians don't have which can lead to what I call a "remnant identity".

    A "remant identity" is when a believer or group of believers handle revelation of Christ in an imature way and begin to think that they have greater truth than others. The reality of the issue is that having Christ revealed to us to the natural way. It is what a son or daughter of God should have happening in their lives. It is the natural course of entering into the kingdom of God and into the place of a new creation that is being changed into the image of Christ daily.

    This is not to say that the end of days as we know it is not coming soon. But I think many times when humans get a glimpse of His glory and walk with a bit of His authority it can be mistaken for Jesus is coming tomorrow.

    The challenge I think is not to focus on the coolness of revelation but to emphasize for ourselves and our communities that walking with Christ in revelation is a walk, and it is a long walk. We must continue in walking in Him, continue not only in revelation, but continue in being broken that He might shine in greater capacity, and continue meditating on the word day and night.

    To not let the excitement of spiritual giftings cloud out that they are tools to point us to Christ. The focus of pursuing prophecy is not to have cool revelations, it is to bring us the heart encounters with Christ Jesus. It is so we and others can grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.

    I probably have gone way long with this post.

    3/25/2005 9:35 AM

    loren said...
    I Berry,

    For some reason, long comments seem to be the rule for this posting! I love your thoughts in this comment, may I encourage you to post them on your own blog site as well, so they can get more of the interaction they deserve? I think they should be considered by many others in a broader way.

    I fully agree that seeing Jesus should be the norm of our walk with God, and when we see Him in a revelatory way it can trigger thoughts of 'His coming is near'. But to answer that question legitimatley we need to consider other Scriptures as well.

    Jesus foretold what the church (and the world) would be like when His return was near. Until those prophecies are fulfilled, His coming will be delayed, or else those Prophecies would return to Him void. Jesus Himself said: "When you see these all these signs come to pass (then) your redemption draws near."

    3/25/2005 12:53 PM

    Unchained Slave said...
    Breaking the rules,
    (This is a short comment.)
    Whether we ARE the Generation,
    Whether we ARE the Caleb & Joshua,
    Whether we ARE the parents of Caleb & Joshua:

    We need to ACT like WE ARE the Generation...
    We need to "run the race" (He. 12:1) as if we are the last...

    In Christ

    4/10/2006 1:24 PM

    Cleopas said...
    Hi David,

    I couldn't agree with you more!

    4/11/2006 7:38 PM

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 5:43 PM  

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