crossword text header

Part 1: The Destroyed Foundations - The Word

by Don Clasen
The Kingdom Gospel Messenger,
Vol.8, No.4, August 1996

"A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" Jer 5:30,31

In the midst of His parables in Matthew 13, the Lord Jesus likened the Kingdom of Heaven to leaven "which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Mt 13:33).  The picture given was one of the Kingdom of God spreading, through the preaching of the Gospel, throughout the world until in the last of the last days, every kindred, tribe, tongue and nation would hear the message and have the chance to be saved (Rev 7:9). 

Shortly thereafter, the Bible teaches, Christ would return from heaven to establish His Kingdom, that is, His Millennial reign on earth (Rev 11:15).  In the meantime, that Kingdom would be here on the earth in Spirit, wherever it takes root in the hearts and lives of people (Lu 17:21).

But there are other things in the Scriptures that leaven symbolizes.  It also symbolizes sin (I Cor 5:6-8), and hypocrisy (Lu 12:1).  But especially as pertaining to the last days does it symbolize false doctrine (Mt 16:12).  Paul said that in those days, people would "receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved" (II Thess 2:10), and therefore would they "heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (II Tim 4:3).  Thus, one of the characteristics of the Laodicean church was that they were / would be, "blind" to the truth (Rev 3:17).

When I was a new believer some 20 years ago, things seemed so much different and simpler back then.  I had been "born" into the Charismatic Movement at a time when the message of Pentecost was penetrating a wide variety of denominations and it seemed the idea was to bring these mainline people into the Pentecostal and Protestant perspective of things.  This included a simple Pre-Millennial view of the end, that is, the idea that there was a Tribulation soon coming for the Church through a hostile world headed by an Antichrist dictator, followed by the Second Coming of Jesus Christ just "pre" or before His Millennial reign.  The "Rapture" of the saints (the catching up of the living believers) was according to whether or not one was "Pre", "Mid", or "Post-Tribulational" in one's view of this event.

In retrospect, I see that I was perhaps naive in my assumption that such a view of the "last things" (i.e., "eschatology") was a near-universal one in the Charismatic Movement.  That may have been due to my ignorance of other views held by other people in this subject, or to the fact that I came in through the Pentecostal stream which has always been Pre-Millennial.  And in point of fact, it only seems right that Pentecostals like David Wilkerson, Kathryn Kuhlman, Demos Shakarian, David DuPlessis, Loren Cunningham, Oral Roberts, Chuck Smith and the like, had the greatest influence in a movement which came to garner the official name of "Neo-Pentecostalism". 

But regardless, there have been some real "sea changes" as the phrase goes, in the Church's view of the end, even in spite of the overwhelming evidence that actual events in the world are remarkably bearing out the truth of this "pessimistic" (in the flesh) Pre-Millennial view.  And these sea changes are being driven by a combination of teachings, influences and events in a way that is so imperceptible that people hardly realize what is going on.  Its proponents view the phenomenon to be the leavening of society with the Kingdom of God, but in truth,  we are being leavened with the leaven of false doctrine and sin and don't even realize it!

For there is a logic marching through the land that is so compelling given its premises, and so protected from criticism by a "religious politics" decision made long ago in Charismatic circles to pursue unity--not the Scriptural way by discussing doctrinal differences (Eph 4:15)--but by ignoring or suppressing them, a problem that has only been aggravated by an even greater unwillingness to talk about eschatological differences.  Furthermore, this logic has also come in under cover of a growing trend towards subjective experiences, doctrines built on false revelations and prophecies, and a tendency to ignore or minimalize the Scriptures.  Furthermore, it is being fueled by a spirit that seems so right yet is of such a carnal and earthly wisdom of men at best, and demonic at worst, that I doubt many even realize what is happening to us.  What I am talking about is the trend towards "Kingdom Now" or "Dominion" theology.

I use the term "Kingdom Now" for want of a better term for it, at least for the version of it that is so energizing the Charismatic Movement in particular.  Perhaps it should be called "Kingdom Through The Church" because it is based on the idea that there is a "birthing" going on in the Church today to bring forth a "Joel's Army / Manchild  Company of Overcomers" who will soon experience a "spiritual Second Coming of Christ", His "Very Incarnation Into His Corporate Body".  These "Manifested Sons" will have such power, miracles, anointing, and holiness as to overcome all God's enemies--human, demonic, or circumstantial, even death itself. 

This elite corps will be led by the "Restored Apostles and Prophets" who will bring back from their exalted place in the continual "Manifest Presence of God" "revelation knowledge" for the larger Body of Christ.  They will also bring judgment upon all of God's "enemies", both inside and outside the Church, removing for Christ all "stumblingblocks", and "those that offend" (Mt 13:41).  These, it is claimed, will bring the Kingdom of God into the earth even before Christ returns.

Within the context of such a scenario will be the fulfillment of the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles in the New Testament Church.  "Even now", it is claimed, this is beginning to be fulfilled in the so-called "Laughing Revival / Toronto Blessing" phenomenon that is sweeping the earth to celebrate both this "feast of joy" and the Great Harvest that "even now" it is helping to bring in.  And while it is true that God is bringing in a great harvest, especially in certain parts of the world, it is also true that that harvest will eventually be in danger of falling away into an ecumenical false Christianity spoken about in Revelation 17.  Furthermore, in the apparent mix of people demanding signs and wonders from God accompanied by a relative lack of them, there is a growing trend to accept anything supernatural, even Marian visions, as being from God, a trend that will eventuate into the "lying signs and wonders" spoken about in Scripture (II Thess 2:9; Rev 13:14,15).

Furthermore, there is coming a "Year of Jubilee" it is claimed, that will only amplify this global joy even further.  The year 2,000 is increasingly being assigned this role of a Jubilee year, with the Pope--whom Billy Graham has called, "the greatest living Christian"--planning on having a special celebration service in 1999 in Jerusalem for Christians, Muslims and Jews.  Charismatic leaders from respected  groups seem to be joining in with similar activities if not the same one themselves.   In the midst of all this giddy atmosphere, all kinds of "Global Evangelization" umbrella groups and the like are looking forward to a huge harvest by the new millennium with apparently little concern for who is involved or what the nature of their message is. 

But it's not all just one big party as "drinks are on the house at 'Joel's Place'."  "Even now" this celebration is producing some serious "travail in the Spirit", it is said, to give birth to an even greater "Isaac" of laughter, an "Abraham's Blessing/Abraham's Seed" promise to the Church, mind you, such that we--and not Christ, the true "Seed" to whom the promise was actually made (Gal 3:16)--will be the "blessing to all the nations" (Gal 3:8,16; Gen 12:3) through the dawn of this Church-established "Christian New Age".  Thus, as this infectious joy of Toronto and the like sweeps the earth, the anointing will increase, the miracles will flow, the world will beat a path to our door to get "this stuff", and God will simultaneously both save and subdue the earth through us because now, the Church is the Christ.  So one and joined together are they that we are the salvation of the world.

Gone now are all the shackles of that old traditional Pre-Millennial view with its "negative" references to a bloodbath of martyrdom, the greatest upheavals history has ever seen (Mt 24:21), the wrath of God poured out on the followers of the Antichrist, and the necessity for Christ to return and save the day lest "there should no flesh be saved" (Mt 24:22), Christian or otherwise.  Such is considered too unbelieving to a generation raised on the mantras of "positive confession" that, literally nothing is impossible to them that believe; a generation that thinks--if you thought you'd ever live to see the day--that rejection of the prophecies and warnings of the Scriptures is somehow "faith"; and a generation that, nonetheless, predicts that they will be more consecrated and holy than any other in history.

Instead, like Ford's "better idea", this "new, improved" Pre-Millennialism misleads people by eagerly agreeing that, yes, Christ is coming soon, (at least in some versions), but has the days immediately preceding that return so positive and so victorious in the natural as to leave people unprepared for the worst.  At the same time it also leaves them so pumped up and intoxicated over the coming power of God over all the Church's enemies, that the Church is left adrift in compromise with the false one-world religion of the last days in order to get the numbers it takes to pull this political/social/religious coup off.

On the other hand, other versions of all this are more negative and thus more difficult to distinguish from true Pre-Millennialism.  In this version, even though the Manchild Company is invincible and cannot be caught or killed, the larger Body of Christ (read that, all other Christians including nominal ones) will be viciously persecuted.  During this time, the Manchild will, from its position "in the heavenlies" (a place of authority in the spiritual world), guide her through this "purging process"--(By teleporting themselves to underground seminars?  Your guess is as good as mine)--until she emerges victorious or Christ comes, depending on whose version you hear.

For as was said previously, in the dominion view of  things, instead of the world bringing Tribulation on the Church, it has the Church bringing Tribulation on the world, whether it be "the world" as found inside or outside its walls.  Indeed in this scheme of things, there is no eschatological "Antichrist" figure.  Rather, all of God's "enemies" are now "antichrist", especially those inside the Church who question the judgment of these coming "Apostles and Prophets".  As the logic goes, since we are His Body, and part of the body is the feet, and the Scriptures say that He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet (I Cor 15:25), including death, then we, the people of God, must be God's agents for ridding the earth of these wicked.

That such a warlike zeal is the antichrist spirit itself and has been one of the most common forms of "religion" as opposed to spirituality to afflict every aberrant expression of Christianity in history, from the Inquisition to the smallest sect, does not seem to bother these visionaries.  As a writer  recording the sentiments of seven British Charismatic / Restoration leaders put it, "Those Christians who had come to believe that a period of lukewarmness and backsliding in the Church would be a sign of the nearness of Christ's return were wrong.  The era of the Apostle, not the era of Apostasy was at hand." [1]

Nevertheless, as the plans of this takeover of the world go, the saints through the leadership of the Restored Five Fold ministry, and the Manchild in general, come into maturity in "all the fullness of their sonship and inheritance" in the Kingdom.  It is a scenario  that would leave even the most depressed megalomaniac and adrenaline junkie jumping for joy.  For it is a vision of the Church as the head and not the tail, converting whole nations (if not all of them outright), and that in literally one day of time, and one very appealing (so they presume) to mankind's hope and dreams.  But it a hope born of the flesh and not of the Spirit.

The Millennial Templates

The atmosphere in the Church that is making way for such an optimistic view of things has been helped by the rise of moral conservatism through the political phenomenon known as the "Religious Right".  This has generally been a good thing as long as it's been kept within a realistic view of the end as laid out in Scripture.  But association with Roman Catholicism in social issues, for instance, has also brought the danger of accepting as "Christian" her plan of salvation as well, as already evidenced by the signing of the document, Evangelicals and Catholics Together by such famous names as Bill Bright, Chuck Colson and Pat Robertson, among others.

In addition, Rome, along with some mainline Protestant denominations, is "Amillennial" in its eschatology.  "Amillennialism" believes that there is no literal Millennium to come except in the sense that it's been here 1900 years already through the reign of the Church.  In this view, the book of Revelation is either highly allegorized or was already fulfilled in the first century or succeeding centuries.  Thus, there is no Antichrist to come, no "mark of the beast" or other roadsigns to look out for.  According to Vatican-think, all they have to do to fulfill Jesus' prayer that they all might be one, that the world might believe God sent Christ (John 17:21) is persuade the "separated brethren" to come back to Mother Church.  Then they will bring peace on earth (especially in the Middle East), the warning about "peace and safety" notwithstanding (I Thess 5:3).

Rome, along with some early Reformation groups, has believed this since the days when Augustine published his "City of God" theory.  All it believes about the future is that good and evil will increase side by side until Christ comes, has the Last Judgment, and creates a new heaven and earth.  In the meantime, Rome's idea of "evangelization" is to either just declare that other religionists are saved (especially Jews and Muslims) [2] , or, better yet, to get the people of the world  to acknowledge Catholicism as the one true Christian Church, and the Pope as the "in-place-of" representative (or "Vicar") of Christ on the earth.  This is mainly accomplished by getting them to take the official sacraments at the hands of the "official priesthood" of the one and only catholic (universal) church, through which the grace of God is communicated.  It also explains why Rome has been so willing to let local religions get mixed in with their worship (even Voodoo), because the sacraments--not the truth--are the important thing.

Another factor adding to the atmosphere, especially the political one, is the rise of "Reconstructionism".  This is an Evangelical movement led by people like R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North and David Chilton.  It puts forth a "Post-Millennial" hope wherein--similar in this respect to the Amillennial view--the Church brings in and presides over a millennial reign of Christ through His Body without Him physically being here.  It sees the Church growing in numbers and influence until it captures and "reconstructs" the institutions of man, even to the point of imposing some of the Old Testament law.  This will result in a presumed Millennial "Golden Age" at the end of which ("Post") Christ will return for the Last Judgment.

But what is by far the much more dangerous development however, has been the stealth introduction into the Charismatic movement of this new "Kingdom Now" vision.  I say that not just because I am from that stream but because of the vitality of the Charismatics.  For for all of their shortcomings, their influence along with that of the Pentecostals in evangelism has been by far the greatest of the 20th Century, and that because the Holy Spirit has had His way to some degree at least, in the confirmation of the Gospel with signs following.  But this new doctrinal development, building error upon error, is the worst yet to hit it, and threatens to ultimately render the Gospel compromised and the supernatural perverted to the point of apostasy into the "Great Whore" religious system of  Revelation 17.  The days are evil indeed.

The reason this great deception is proceeding with such little discernment is that people do not understand what is happening, nor see where it is headed.  Like the old proverb about not seeing the forest for the trees, Christians walk around saying, "Oh, what a nice tree!" regarding doctrines that aren't fully true, and incremental changes that aren't quite right, and thus don't get the whole picture.  People do not believe nor see that they are betraying the prophecies of the Scriptures because it is couched in the context of a soon return of Christ (at least in some versions), and because it is being promoted by leaders that often are very gifted, and whom they have so much confidence in.  In fact, many of these leaders themselves do not even realize the implications of what they are teaching and prophesying because they do not understand the doctrinal roots of it all, or because they have picked up teachings in bits and pieces and do not see the overall picture either.

Others however, do know exactly what they are doing but will dole out what they believe in dribs and drabs.  They do this because they know how much opposition they would get if they did the right thing and just came right out and presented these ideas for the doctrinal system they are, doctrines with their roots in the Latter Rain revival of 1948.  These Latter Rain teachings were opposed and suppressed by the traditional Pentecostal denominations as early as 1949 but survived to become a prime influence in the founding of the Charismatic Renewal, especially in what eventually became known as the Shepherding movement.   Since then they have resurfaced, and are at the heart of this current torrential "stream" so many are confidently asserting will lead to such a powerful revival.  And to add to the confusion of the current situation is the fact that, at least as far as this writer is concerned,  the Latter Rain teachings do contain some needful truths as regards the Feast of Tabernacles.

Furthermore, when these doctrines were in their nascent form in the late '40's, the controversies they engendered were not nearly as dangerous.  But because the original revival was to derive these doctrines from prophecies, "revelations", visions and the like, the pattern was there from the beginning for an evermore shifting foundation of subjectivity, impressions and poor Biblical interpretation.  As a result, some of the early "Latter Rain" proponents who are still alive are much more conservative in their views, and ironically are quite appalled at what has developed in the area of end-times teachings, and movements like the one out of Toronto.

The problem is that others took the ideas and ran with them until a "hard-core" version of them has emerged with a logic that can go so far as practical oneness with the secular New Age movement.  And to this day, a chaotic pattern of ever-evolving "revelations" is coming forth to where these teachings have and will become the basis for a Dominion destiny for the Church before the return of the Lord Himself. 

And just as many good Christians have stood back aghast at how people like terrorists, homosexuals, religious fanatics and the like have managed to gain mainstream acceptance in modern-day society, so likewise these people have gained more and more acceptance in mainstream Christian circles, especially among leaders with ambitious plans for the Church.  And to even further complicate the situation, some of the righteous criticisms of these developments come from a perspective so Dispensational in its Pre-Millennialism or so justly revolted by what is seen and heard, that there is sometimes an overreaction, to where there is a suspicion of anything supernatural or having to do with a last days harvest / revival.  All things considered, it is a very complex situation, but one that we must needs deal with if we are to spiritually survive these last days.

Getting A Perspective

If you feel thoroughly lost at this point, I must say I do sympathize with you.  True to the meaning of "Babylon", it is all very confusing.  Yet I want to urge you the reader to bear with me a while as I take some time to establish some terms and definitions that will help you understand what is happening and why it is so important for your life.  As I prayed about writing this series, I felt the Lord encourage me to take this approach and make it as simple as possible, as if my readers had absolutely no understanding of any of this.  This way too you will not be left guessing as to what I do believe while I'm making my assessment.

So let us begin the way the Secret Service learns the dollar bill--by presenting the genuine before we look into a counterfeit.  Let us begin with a brief overview of what I believe is the proper Biblical teaching regarding the last of the last days. I believe it is in the "Classical Pre-Millennial" view mentioned above.  It basically sees the Olivet Discourse recorded in Mt 24, Mk 13 and Lu 21, much of the book of Daniel and other Old Testament prophecies, as well as the book of Revelation from chapter 4 on, to be yet future and unfulfilled.

This "classical" view of Jesus Christ's Second Coming--the only known view for that matter, of the Church's first three centuries (how's that for a restoration truth?)--will be "pre" or before His physical Kingdom reign on earth, more exactly, right at the beginning of it.  This reign will be out of Jerusalem (Zech 14:8,9,16), and will last for an exact or approximate 1,000 years (Rev 20:6).  This Millennial "Golden Age" will be a time of no more war (Isa 2:4).  It will be a time when God will begin to lift the curse of Genesis 3 off the earth, such that animals will no longer be predators (Isa 12:6-9) and wherein, for example, mortal people born on the earth will live to a riper old age (Isa 65:20).  The fullness of the defeat of death mentioned in I Cor 15:26 will not take place, however, until after this Millennium and the start of a new heaven and earth (Rev 21:1,4).

But before Christ's return there will be a time of great "affliction" on the earth (Mk 13:19), worse than anything else the world has ever seen (Mt 24:21), a period called by Pre-Millennialists the "Great Tribulation", lasting 42 months or 3 1/2 years (Rev 11:2,3; Dan 7:25). 

Moreover, this "tribulation" comes upon all men (Mt 24:22), especially at first upon the Church from the Devil (Rev 12:12), through the world (Lu 21:12-17; Rev 6:9-11; 20:4), and its dictator leader, the Antichrist (II Thess 2:3; Rev 13:7; Dan 7:21). 

It will also come upon the world as well though, culminating in the time when God pours out His wrath upon those with the mark of the Beast (Rev 15:1).  I further believe that some Christians will survive this period to the end, at which time they will be raptured or "caught up" to Christ as part of that "first resurrection" (Rev 20:5), when Christ literally returns to the earth.

There is another version of Pre-Millennialism, known as Dispensationalism.  At a time when the Pre-Millennial view had all-but fallen into obscurity, Dispensationalism came along about 1830 and almost single-handedly revived it.  It began with a vision by a 16-year old girl that the "Rapture" would take place "Pre-Trib" or before the Tribulation.  But by the time John Darby, Scofield and others got finished with it, it had evolved into a whole "hermeneutic" or system of interpreting the Bible, especially in the sense of dividing up history into various "dispensations" or covenants that were compartmentalized one from another.  This contrasted with the "Covenant" Theology of the Reformation which saw a more organic evolution from age to age of one basic Abrahamic covenant with increasing degrees of "light," culminating in the New Covenant.

Dispensationalism became then, the basic theology of 20th Century Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism.  It put forth a very radical distinction between natural Israel and the Church, saying that the Church age or the "Dispensation of Grace" would end with this Rapture while the Tribulation period, which they believe to be 7 years based on their interpretation of Dan 9:27, would be a return to "Jewish time" when a literal 144,000 Jews (Rev 7:4) would bring in the great harvest.  It strongly opposes "Replacement Theology", the idea that the Old Testament promises of restoration and exaltation to natural Israel have now been transferred to the Church who replace the Jews in God's plan.

In contrast, I agree the Church has not replaced Israel, but neither on the other hand is the Church excluded from great end time and Millennial promises herself.  I see a great harvest of Jewish believers going on right now and continuing through to the Second Coming, but I do not see natural Israel as a whole (or what will be left of her) responding to their Messiah as a whole until just as He's returning (Zech 12:10).

I also see this 144,000 to be a spiritual number that represents the remnant Church which will herself bring in that great harvest of souls, a "multitude which no man could number", which "came out of great tribulation" (Rev 7:9,14). 

I believe her ranks will be small at the beginning of this period, as much of the larger Church world falls away through persecution and / or into the false world religion (II Thess 2:3), but she will also be refined by such and her ranks will swell greatly during this great harvest when the true revival that so many claim to be looking for begins to fall upon her.  Her growth in numbers will be helped as the dream of globalism begins to crumble everywhere (Dan 2:43).  Yet this revival will eventuate in much martyrdom (Rev 20:4).

I do believe that the first half of "Daniel's 70th Week" found in Daniel 9, was fulfilled in Christ's 3 1/2 year earthly ministry while the second 3 1/2 years will be fulfilled by Christ through His Church on the earth at the end.  This is the "great last days move" that many people are looking for, with a  most powerful and miraculous anointing on it, but one that will bring much persecution from both the world and an apostatizing "Christianity" upon it. 

To me, this is the significance also of the Feast of Tabernacles, that it will be, just like Passover (Mt 27) and Pentecost (Acts 2), literally fulfilled in the Church and within the so-called "Church Age".  This view contrasts with the Dispensational view that postpones Tabernacles altogether until the Millennium, but it certainly stops short of the distorted Latter Rain claims to a "Spiritual Second Coming", an "Incarnation of Christ into His Corporate Body", a "people so anointed they will overcome all sin and death", and on and on ad absurdum.

Moreover, I believe there will be a great counterfeit Christianity in those days.  The "Mystery Babylon" of Rev 17:5 refers to a great last days religious delusion, an ecumenical amalgamation of all world religions into a New Agey "earth religion".  While the New Age and other Eastern religions will literally worship the literal earth in good pagan form, an apostate Christianity will deny they are doing this, but from God's point of view, they will effectively be worshipping the earth in the sense of mankind and its humanly-perceived needs.

The person and institution most looked to today to head up this effort is the Pope and the Roman Catholic church, both of which are energetically "reaching out to work together with" these other religions while at the same time leaning hard on the "separated brethren", the Protestants, to "come home".  This "great whore" (Rev 17:1) is even now building into an ecumenical Christianity to become part of an ecumenical world religion, and is a parallel movement to the true Church, even though the Charismatic movement at present apparently has little stomach for facing this fact.

The Destroyed Foundations--The Word

 Psalms 11:3 asks, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"  The eternal foundations of God are His Word and His Spirit, for these are the only thing and the only person that perfectly represent Him on the earth.  When that Word is not rightly divided, a kind of perverse logic takes over until it drives everything sensible and appropriate into the ground.  And when the Spirit is not discerned, extreme subjectiveness takes over until there's no ability to distinguish between God, the flesh and the devil, or the three get confused and interchanged.

What we must realize right off the bat is that this Charismatic "Kingdom Now" phenomenon is a doctrinal system first and foremost.  Although it is also fueled by a spirit (in a sense both human and demonic), mixing itself in with true Holy Spirit ministry at times, and seeking to draw multitudes into obsession with power, emotions and experiences, it is at heart a collection of doctrines that shows a great lack of respect for the preeminence of the Word of God in Christianity and a disregard for Its proper interpretation.

Knowing this fact does not mean, however, that we can just turn to any one personality or church headquarters to easily find out what these doctrines are and who is teaching them.  Those who are into them often "mix and match" and develop their own homegrown versions of them, warmly embracing some things while vigorously denying others.  As I document some of this thinking, I would not want the reader to assume that I am trying to broad brush everyone mentioned as if they believe or believe deeply, at least, in it all, lock, stock and barrel.  What I am trying to deal with are the ideas themselves, and to show that they have a logic and a life of their own, and that I believe that as the last days proceed, they will coalesce into a more and more hard-core form, with error built upon error, and become the apologetic for an ecumenical Christianity that will join up with Rome which is in the forefront of developing a further ecumenical one-world religion.

Many researchers have tried to identify the very genesis of these teachings, but Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries in Great Britain has taken it back further than anyone else I have read, in her contention that what holds the evolution of the Latter Rain teachings together over the generations is what she calls "New Thing-ology".  She says it began in the 19th Century when certain holiness groups began to believe that God was going to do a "new thing" in the very last days before Christ returns.  This phrase was derived from Isaiah 43:19 where God said,

 "Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."

  The verses that follow with  references to the "dragons and the owls" (unclean animals) and "a people I have formed for myself" seem to me to be simply and literally saying that this "new thing" is the coming New Testament Gospel wherein Gentiles will be saved, and that by grace through faith.

What these 19th century believers meant though, by their use of this phrase--hopefully in only a figurative way--was that this "new thing" would be a last great outpouring and harvest, and when the Pentecostal revival of 1906 broke out, many took that to be its fulfillment.  Ironically, this revival was originally called, "The Latter Rain", based on the belief that Peter's use of Joel 2 in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17-21) had a double fulfillment for both Peter's day (the "early rain") and the end of the age (the "latter rain"--Joel 2:23; Ja 5:7).  Ever since then, the "new thing" and "latter rain" have become somewhat synonymous, with debate centered on which events of the 20th century, thus far or yet future, are the actual fulfillment.

As the revival proceeded and Jesus did not immediately come however, it seems people may have started wondering if it were still future.  In 1914, one of the pioneers of Pentecost, George Studd, brother of the famous missionary C.T. Studd, announced at a camp meeting that he "claimed to have received revelation of the new thing."  Then in a spirit that surely makes him soulmates with modern day Charismatics, he spent the next eight years "in an uneasy search for the definition" of it. [3]  

Decades later however, when another revered pioneer of Pentecost, Stanley Frodsham, was thinking of leaving the biggest Pentecostal group, the Assemblies of God, to join up with the new (1948) Latter Rain revival, his tenacious defense of this already-controversial movement may have been prompted by the thought that perhaps this was that "new thing", since he had been a personal friend of Studd in his youth. [4]

The point is however, that in more recent years this overworked term, a "new thing", has been taking on a meaning far beyond just "a new move" (i.e., a revival).  Now it stands for "a whole new paradigm", a different basis of authority in the Church for judging what is of God and what is not.  Increasingly, the foundation of the Scriptures is being eroded while subjective sources of "new revelations" that question everything of the past as being of "the old order", of "tradition", or of "religion" take their place.  And while the 1948 move originally known officially as "The New Order of the Latter Rain" perhaps established this sort of a pattern unintentionally, still, the subtle shift was there and is increasing by the hour.

The "Latter Rain" movement itself then, came out of a period of real and widespread revival in the years immediately following World War II, revival in both the Evangelical world (Billy Graham, for example) and the Pentecostal world (Oral Roberts and the Healing Revival, etc.).  It began when the president of Bethel Bible Institute, George Hawtin, was asked to leave the school and his denomination, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, in a dispute over land, buildings and money.  A faculty member, Percy Hunt, resigned in sympathy, and together the two of them along with 70 students left Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in the fall of 1947 to start a new Bible school with Herrick Holt in nearby North Battleford where Holt had pioneered an independent work, "Sharon Orphanage and Schools".  Holt had been preaching that God was soon going to do "a new thing", [5] and when a number of faculty and students came back from the William Branham meetings in Vancouver, the whole ministry began to seek God earnestly  for an outpouring such as they had seen in Branham's meetings.

On February 12, 1948 their prayers were answered.  "Day after day the Glory and power of God came among us.  Great repentance, humbling, fasting and prayer prevailed in everyone." [6]   For the next two years, this revival both brought in people from many directions to North Battleford to see what was going on, as well as spread out to many parts of Canada, the United States, and Europe especially.

But why this event is of importance to us today lies not in the question of whether or not this was a genuine visitation, for I believe it was.  It is in the fact that certain doctrines began to arise in it, and the way they were arrived at.  What happened and how they became controversial makes for a case study that is both fascinating and instructive of how confusion and dogmatism can reign when both sides in a dispute fail to see the truth in each other's perspective.

At the beginning, the Sharon group believed and taught some relatively innocuous things on the subjects of the laying on of hands, the unity of the Body, spiritual worship, church government, and the gifts and ministries of the Spirit (especially the role of prophecy).  For example, they had seen Branham give prophetic words to those who came to be healed, often telling them of sins they needed to repent of before he prayed for them.  Then when he prayed, he didn't just pray, he laid hands on them as well.

This was something of a departure from the tradition in some Pentecostal churches where the pastor and congregation as a whole would merely pray for the sick in their meetings.  But the Sharon brethren went further and laid hands on people for the receiving of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This seemed to engender much blessing from God and was something of an affront to the Pentecostal groups to which anything except the way of the classical "tarrying meetings" was almost heretical.  This "new way" emphasized faith to receive as much as repentance, plus a laying on of hands methodology, and apparently God honored that combination.

But the Sharon brethren went even further than that and laid on hands for the impartation of gifts and commissioning for ministry, often accompanied by directive prophecy as described in I Tim 4:14 and II Tim 1:6. [7]  

Carl Brumback in his history of the Assemblies of God acknowledges the Latter Rain revival as "a genuine move of God", but explains that the objection the Pentecostals had to this position was that the Sharon group had come to teach that, "the ministry gifts and the gifts of the Spirit were to be conveyed only through 'the laying on of hands', and this by certain men who alone could call forth and confer upon believers these blessings". [8]

The British Connection

That there was much more than just opposition to a methodology involved here can be seen by those words above, "certain men who alone could call forth...these blessings."  Those "certain men" were the "present-day apostles and prophets" which the Latter Rain people asserted must be "restored" to the Church.  And by "restoration", the Latter Rain people did not merely mean their ministry, but their supposed "authority" in the Church.  Indeed, they believed that the Church was "out of divine order" until this revelation was universally received.

The Sharon Brethren had always had an aversion to "denominationalism" and, at first at least, strongly opposed any form of church government that was centralized and non-local.  But later on there was a switch and they developed a "traveling presbytery"--"The authority of these people [apostles and prophets] was taken to be absolute, irrespective of geographical location."  Church historian Richard Riss, a proponent of the Latter Rain movement who is now integrally involved with the "Toronto Blessing", goes on to speculate that they may have been motivated by a desire to protect people from ambitious opportunists, and thus became exclusivistic. [9]   (In other words, they sought to prevent it by becoming it themselves.  Smart.)

The existence of apostles and prophets in church government schemes was not new within Pentecostal circles though.  Rather, the objection that arose was over the new reach of their authority in this "new thing"--beyond administration to that of an exclusive claim to personal guidance in people's lives and the deriving of doctrine and practice from their "revelations" and prophecies. 

Riss gives an account of a Cecil Cousen, pastor of the Hamilton, Ontario Apostolic Church after he and a fellow pastor from Toronto attended some Latter Rain meetings in Detroit.  As he sought the Lord later in fasting and prayer, he says the Lord, "opened my eyes to the blinding, crippling nature of our church organizations with its central government."  He then writes, revealingly,

"we still had roots in the Old Country and that we all knew very well that they [the denominational leaders] were very deeply entrenched; these were the heart of what it was to be Apostolic.  And to be "The Apostolic Church" and to have central government which they thought and still think was divine order." [10]

That reference to "the Old Country" means "Great Britain".  Cousen's father, who had worked very closely with the great Smith Wigglesworth, was one of the principals in the founding of the Apostolic Church in Bradford at the turn of the century, a city which is a strong center for "Restorationism" today.  And for that matter, the locus of the more radical elements in the Latter Rain movement today, especially as pertaining to its "Kingdom Now" vision, are found in England amongst "Restoration" circles in general , which have also been some of the strongest supporters of the Toronto movement. 

Whether these British circles influenced the North American Latter Rain groups with the "apostles and prophets" teaching, or whether the North American groups gave new or "fresh" revelation on the supposed end-time destiny of these offices, the fact remains that there has been a close affinity between these two sources from the beginning, especially England and Canada.

Furthermore, from such groups have come the idea that there are "present day apostles and prophets which are the foundation of the Church."  But the Biblical reference to this in Ephesians 2:20 is plainly referring to the Old Testament prophets who predicted the coming of the Messiah and the Church, and the New Testament apostles who recorded their story.  In other words, the Bible is as much the foundation for our faith as Jesus Himself (I Cor 3:11) and His sayings (Lu 6:47,48), not the ever-shifting sand of the "revelations" of present-day apostles and prophets.

The Feast of Tabernacles

While this story above tells us of the beginning of the "apostles and prophets" issue, its real significance for an end-times role was yet to come.  Within a year and a half, the General Council of the Assemblies of God had issued an official statement of disapproval of a half dozen or so Latter Rain teachings.  Within two years, the central role of the North Battleford group began to wane within the growing revival.  But in 1951, a young man who had done some work at the Sharon ministry published a book that was to have a profound effect on defining the essence of what this new doctrinal stance was all about. 

This book, "The Feast of Tabernacles" by George Warnock, has served to preserve and disseminate the Latter Rain "present day truths"--especially as they were "present" back then--including the important area of eschatology.  In it he set forth the provocative idea that, just as Passover and Pentecost had found their fulfillment in the New Testament  (Mt 27; Acts 2), so too God was going to bring about the antitype fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Church (not just Israel), and in the Church age (i.e., before the Millennium, not just during it, as Dispensationalism taught based on Zech 14:16). Furthermore, since Tabernacles signified the end of the year's harvest, this would take place at the very end of the Church age both before and during the return of Christ.

Warnock stated that Tabernacles commemorated several things, among which was the idea that  it was the Old Testament feast to celebrate the main harvest of the year gathered in the fall, right after the "latter rains" of the agricultural calendar began.  The "former rains" had already fallen in the spring at the early harvests of the barley and winter wheat.  Warnock likened the rains to the obvious Biblical symbol of the revival rain of the Holy Spirit and related them to the promise in Joel 2:23 that just as God had sent "the former rain moderately", so He would cause the come "the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month". [11]

He likened the "former rain moderately" to Pentecost in Acts 2, and the "former and latter rain" together as a reference to the end-of-the-age Feast of Tabernacles, just before God came back to "tabernacle" amongst His people.

Separating The Precious From The Vile

Warnock saw this yet-future fullness to be the greatest outpouring in history and the culmination of both God's work of restoration through the centuries and His work of training and equipping a last days "army" especially.  But it was his agreement with and integration of other concepts--which he claims were commonly-held opinions in the revival [12] --that, in this writer's opinion, laid the basis for at least some of the prevailing errors that others have taken even further and run wild with.  A brief perusal of some of the ideas he introduced in his book will serve as a good introduction to what has followed since.

To me, the very essence of the problem with the Latter Rain's eschatology is rooted in its heretofore unheard of interpretation of the meaning of Revelation chapter 12, which was probably either derived from or confirmed by "revelations" and prophecies. [13]  

The first is the "Manchild" doctrine.. In that chapter, a woman wearing a crown with 12 stars is pregnant with a child, "travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered" (vs. 2).  She is said to bring forth a "manchild" (KJV), literally, "a son, a male", who was "to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up to God, and to his throne" (vs.5).  After this, the woman flees "into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days" (1260 days or 3 1/2 years--vs. 6).  After this, there is war in the heavenlies and Satan is cast out by Michael and his angels while the earth "helps" the woman by "swallowing up" a flood cast out of the dragon's mouth.

What I see in this story is a simplified panorama of redemption history with spiritual Israel bringing forth the Messiah of mankind, Jesus Christ.  The child being "caught up to the throne" is Jesus' ascension.   At that point there is a chronological leap forward of spiritual Israel, now the Church, to the last days under persecution by Satan, and only finding refuge in the remote places of the earth during the 1260 day Tribulation (vs. 16).

Dispensationalists see the woman as national Israel all the way through who supposedly find refuge in the ancient city of Petra when the Antichrist turns on them.  Some of them would agree that the child is Christ. To others, it would signify the supposed 144,000 Jewish evangelists, or the Pre-Trib Rapture.

But Warnock and Latter Rain see this "Manchild" to be a generational, last days "Company of Overcomers", an elite corps that are "birthed" out of the larger Church through intercessory travail, and who do "spiritual warfare" until they are "caught up" to replace Satan at the throne of God. [14]   Apparently, this concept has been the hidden basis for the popular and current "territorial spirits warfare" teaching in the Church, even though it conflicts with the statement that it is Michael and his angels (vs. 7) who do this fighting, and with Ephesians 2:6 which says that all believers are already seated with Christ in heavenly places by the grace of God.

 Nevertheless, as this idea goes, the vague "they" of verse 6 who "feed the woman in the wilderness" refers then to this Manchild Company who shall, from their position of heavenly authority, "administer protection, and comfort, and help and deliverance, and blessing to such as are in need." [15]  

Among the problems I have with this idea are,

1.  I think it's an incredibly forced and unnatural interpretation of a simple summary of redemption history.

2.   It says in Rev 19:15 that it is Christ that will rule the nations with a "rod of iron", not an elite vanguard out of a larger Church body. 

3.   Even though Rev 2:26,27 promises such rulership to men, it will be granted only to "he that overcometh", which Rev 12:11 says is yet future (as I take it) and is characteristic of all Tribulation saints, which presumably would include those who are not just of the Manchild Company but the Woman they are purported to help and see redeemed back to God by their ministry at that time.

3.  The idea that the Manchild will rise up to do "war" with the devil in the heavenlies to displace him is just flat out fantasy.  Aside from the fact that these people are not "Michael and his angels", the current "territorial warfare" fad is not about reaching up to heaven but to hierarchies over cities, etc., perhaps only 50-100 feet in the air (if they're even "over" a city in that sense). 

Furthermore, if they're "replaced", where do they go?  Verse 9 says they're cast down to the earth!  And this is all aside from the fact that the Latter Rain / Dominion assumption that if we could only get rid of  the demons in the world men would believe the Gospel, is just plain myth.  The Bible says men refuse to be born again because they don't want to come to the light (Jn 3:19).  Yet this idea of the Manchild rising up to replace the devil in "the heavenlies" (read, the spiritual world) to gain the spiritual advantage, is absolutely essential to their theory.

We should note here that there seem to be two versions of the outcome of this drama.  The first is a more "pessimistic" (in the flesh) version, in that although the Manchild helps the woman come out of her spiritual wilderness, she will be severely persecuted by the world until Christ puts an end to it when He comes for the Last Judgment.  (This seems to be Warnock's view.)

The second scenario, and the one that seems to be gaining greater popularity in more recent years (as the "revelations" develop I would assume) is that this "feeding" so enlightens the larger Church that she too learns to walk in revelation knowledge, commanding authority and the like, until the total Church emerges victorious in a Triumphalistic, Dominion outcome.  Either way, I take the first  to be an elitist delusion, and the second to be an elitist, pipe dream delusion.  Take your pick.

In keeping with many "deeper life" Bible teachers, Warnock seems to think that "the Church" throughout the ages is a very institutional and visible phenomenon, and one broad-based in its view of who is actually saved and eternally secure.  This inevitably and always necessitates the introduction of a group of "spiritual" Christians who actually obey God.  Therefore, he doesn't see the Woman / Church to be just carnal, but downright "corrupt" through the ages. [16]  

This makes for a predilection for much spiritualizing and allegorizing of the Scriptures and for proposing an elite group, a "Manchild Company", who "enter in" and undertake for the rest.  But I would think that all Christians who survive the "strong delusion" at the beginning of the Tribulation (II Thess 2:3) and either don't buckle under persecution nor fall away to Mystery Babylon will form the kind of "Gideon's Company" that he seems to envision here, whom God will feed with literal food in the wildernesses of the world.  But I would identify such with the 144,000 rather than a one-verse mention of a "manchild" in Rev. 12. [17]

A second related problem comes out of the "Joel's Army" idea.  Warnock said the Feast of Tabernacles part of the larger Tabernacles season was a call to war  along the lines of what it says in Joel 2 about the great "army of the Lord".  But this section does not refer to an army of God's people but to the Babylonians, who are nevertheless "his army" (2:11), which God brings up against His own people because of their stubborn sins.  (And this after having sent a plague of insects against them--1:4)!

In what has to be one of the greatest ironies ever to come out of so-called Dominion theology, this "army of the Lord", which has become a theme for "war songs" and the spirit of militancy, ends up referring to God's chosen means of judgment against  His own people!  Yet the popular idea now is that "Joel's Army", which is presumably the same as the Manchild Company, is going to go forth conquering every enemy in its path including the devil.  Yet, according to the simple pattern God has always laid out for revival, if His people will repent of their  sins (if they could only recognize what they are), He would send the power, and He would take care of the devils.  In some ways, there is such a kind of "works" mentality in this army idea that wouldn't be so necessary to accomplish the task of evangelism if we would just recognize what God is looking for.

A third and major mistake, I believe, comes from the idea of "Manifested Sonship".  Warnock and other sincere revivalists longed to see the Church walking in sinlessness and maturity, and it is assumed that the anointing on this "Manchild Company / Joel's Army" during this period of time will be so powerful it will produce a generation that will achieve this level and enter into a state of immortality, [18] yet something short of a resurrected body. 

In the full development of this doctrine, it is claimed that these people will have power over nature, disease, demons and human persecutors.  Sometimes they are called the "Elijah and Enoch Company" and the like, based upon the mention of the "two witnesses" in Rev 11:3ff who will, "have power to shut up heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will" (vs. 6).  But between the mention  of the "two olive trees" in verse 4  (a reference to the "two anointed ones" of Zech 5:14), and a very literal-sounding description that their "dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city...where also our Lord was crucified" (i.e., Jerusalem--Rev 11:8), I think there's more than enough warrant for assuming this is not referring to a Jewish and Gentile Church, but to two literal individuals.

It is also assumed that the coming or "manifestation" of this people  will actually result in a release of the entire creation from the curse incurred by Adam's sin in Genesis 3.  The Scriptural argument for this is found in Ro 8:19: "For the earnest expectation of the creature [the creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God."  This is interpreted to be referring to this last days generation that will achieve this state and bring newness, restoration, and regeneration to the whole earth.  But the intent of the passage and its surrounding verses is to simply state that when  Christ returns-- that is, at the Second Coming--that that is when the curse will begin to be lifted and the creation will cease to "groan".  The mention of the "manifestation [or "revelation"] of the sons of God" is meant to point to that event, to that period of time, when all the saints of every generation come back with Him, and all the earth knows who God's true saints have been.

All this has led of course to some real problems in thinking.  "Sonship" in the Scripture is enjoyed by anyone of this or any generation, who has been "accepted in the beloved" (Eph 1:6), not some elite group who have to work their way into it through varying levels of revelation and maturity.  And the idea of a sinless generation is dangerous anyway because we are warned to "let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall" (I Cor 10:12).

Nevertheless, within the logic of "Manifested Sonship", this "spiritual Second Coming" of Christ into His people corporately is seen to be the great hope of the ages which will lead to the salvation of all the earth:

...according to Warnock, God's ultimate indwelling of His people in the midst of Celebration is His 'consummate purpose for us'; the corporate Child of the Latter Rain's seed of Abraham taking the Holy Spirit to the nations which destroys separateness and ushers all nations into the Kingdom of God. [19]

This in turn is the reason for the current obsession with "unity", under the rubric that Christ cannot incarnate into a divided Body, a convenient excuse for explaining away why the Church's much heralded world-wide revival never quite gets here, at least not to the degree and in the way they expect it to come.

George Warnock is now elderly, in his 70's, and from what little interaction I've had with him by mail, telephone and through the testimony of those who know him, he seems to be a sincere man who wants to see revival and a deeper walk with God in people's lives.  Ironically, he along with Clayt Sonmore and a few others, are not  happy with what has happened to what is now known as Latter Rain doctrine, especially things like the Toronto Blessing. 

But on the other hand, like so many in this movement, what should be simple interpretations of Scriptural passages he seems to regularly spiritualize.  This is consistent with the Amillennial view that he told me he "leans toward", though one might think he were Pre-Millennial from a cursory reading of the book.

But this book, written while still a young man, set in motion a view of eschatology that is quite a departure from traditional Pentecostalism, and a logic that is still running its course.  What has followed has been a subversion of the authority of Scripture and a chaotic proliferation of homegrown versions of Latter Rain doctrine, which, like leaven, just go everywhere, subtly redefining everything.  This may be the most dangerous legacy of this whole trend, because as every mother's son who has had any experience with cults knows, the Bible can be used to prove anything.  "New revelations" derived from subjective experience makes anything seem to stick with even the flimsiest of proof texts behind it. 

Yet in spite of how inconsistent, piecemeal, ignorant or naive subsequent Latter Rain teachers have been in their presentation of these ideas, they are now pursuing an orderly agenda to popularize a whole body of teachings that will increasingly press for acceptance in their entirety as the last days unfold.  And behind it all is a relentless logic that ever moves forward toward "Mystery Babylon".



[1] Quoted in Doing A New Thing by Brian Hewitt.  Publisher and reference unknown.  Quote from "Apostasy and The Year 2,000" Conference, tape 2, by Tricia Tillin, Nov. 25, 1996. Alabama Discernment Ministries, P.O. Box 632, Madison, AL 35758

[2] Cathechism of the Catholic Church, 1992, Dogma #841.

[3] Latter Rain by Richard M. Riss, (Mississauga, Ont.: Honeycomb Visual Productions), 1987, p. 56.

[4] Ibid., p. 100.

[5] Ibid, p. 56

[6] Ernest Hawtin, How This Revival Began, quoted in Riss, p. 63.

[7] This very stance was, in point of fact, confirmed in the original long prophecy that came forth when the Spirit fell on Feb. 12, 1948, a pattern which spilled over into prophecies wherein there was no Scriptural backing

[8] Suddenly...From Heaven:A History of the Assemblies of God, by Carl Brumback, (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House), 1961, pp. 331-32.  Emphasis added.

[9] Riss, p. 110.

[10] Ibid., pp. 106-7.

[11] The Feast of Tabernacles: The Hope of the Church, by George Warnock, (Box 652, Cranbrook, B.C., Canada V1C 4J2), 1951, rpt. 1980, pp. 62-63.

[12] Phone interview, Nov. 21, 1995.

[13] It seems that Franklin Hall, whose book "Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer" was very influential in those days, was the first to come up with the "Manchild" idea.  See Tillin, "Apostasy and the Year 2,000" Conf, tape 2.

[14] Warnock, pp. 37-38.

[15] Ibid., p. 38.

[16] Ibid., p. 36.  He describes the Church as, "Deceived...demon possessed; filled with carnality, sin, bitterness, bewilderment...a veritable Museum of the Devil" etc.

[17] In other versions, some see the Manchild Company to be the true and only Church, a remnant birthed out of a woman gone apostate.  But then who is the woman?  This is perhaps the interpretation of those few fringes that today are promoting "ultimate reconciliation", the idea that in the end, all souls of history will be reconciled to God (i.e., Universalism).

[18] To make this assumption that if a person were to achieve a state of sinlessness that this would automatically confer on them immortality has no logical necessity from what I can see.  On the other hand, I do not believe they equate this state with the resurrected body, however.

[19] Laughing Phenomenon: Its History and Possible Effects On The Church, by Ed Tarkowski, June, 1995, p. 27.  Ed Tarkowski, P.O. Box 233, McKean, PA 16426.

The Kingdom Gospel Messenger
P.O. Box 362
MO 64030 USA

© 1995-2013 Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries. All rights reserved. Cross+Word Website:  This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.