Accusers of the Brethren (Part Four of Four)
Debra Bouey examines unjust accusations against those who stand for biblical truth.
As you can see, that's quite a list of invectives. Throughout the book, and particularly in these two chapters, Brown's prevailing presumption is that those who oppose the BAG movement are ignorant of exactly what the movement entails and that we don't know what we're talking about when we voice critical concerns. Another common presumptive thread which runs throughout the book is the fact that Brown paints critics of the BAG movement as critics of revival in general, which simply isn't true. He grants no latitude whatsoever to those who have carefully, prayerfully evaluated the BAG movement in the light of Scripture, with the collateral enlightenment of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and yet still do not believe it to be a viable move of God. We must agree with him and believe as he does, that BAG is a genuine God-sent revival, or else we're foolish, pathetic, prideful, ignorant, self-anointed, self-appointed, libelous rumormongers and egomaniacs with a considerable amount of gall.
While Brown claims in the book that he and the other leaders at BAG are perfectly willing to accept constructive criticism and that they consider it carefully, it is patently obvious they are only willing to do so if the ultimate outcome is that the individuals raising the cautious concerns and criticism come around to embracing and endorsing the movement. He allows no place at all for those who, having thoroughly evaluated the movement, still do not believe it is of God, precisely because he writes the entire book from the presumption that BAG is a viable move of the Holy Spirit and that critics are wrong for refusing to accept that. Beyond offering the usual "fruit" as validation he does not offer any substantial, sound Scriptural underpinnings for the movement. One of my colleagues, Robert Hunter, put it quite succinctly and cogently when he wrote:
While throughout his book Brown has done a considerable amount of name-calling and made innumerable allegations insomuch as any and all "critics" of BAG are concerned, it is at the close of the book's Appendix for which he has reserved perhaps his most direct, specific ominous threat. Brown writes:
When he levels the threat at Hanegraaff, alleging that Hanegraaff "will have outlived his usefulness", it is somewhat difficult to ascertain the exact context in which Brown means to apply it. There are one of two possibilities:
Brown means, at least in his own estimation, to allege that Hanegraaff has outlived his usefulness in CRI's ministry and that, therefore, God will remove him from it; or
Brown means to imply that Hanegraaff has outlived his usefulness period and that, perhaps, God will take him home.
Either way, it is an apocalyptic, portentous threat directed specifically at Hank Hanegraaff. And it has likely been directed at him because, with CRI's nationally-syndicated Bible Answerman [BAM] radio show, Hanegraaff has been by far the most visibly outspoken critic of BAG. Brown may fancy himself the equal of Cromwell and Amery in directing the statement, "You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!", at Hanegraaff, but that is a far, distant cry from making it so. Rather, it reeks moreso of what might be considered by many as nothing more than a childish lashing out at Hanegraaff because he has taken an outspoken position diametrically opposed to Brown and BAG. Therefore, instead of refuting Hanegraaff's Bible Answerman contentions from the surety of Scripture if he can, Brown has taken the tact of issuing unwarranted threats and indulged himself in name-calling and the leveling of a whole host of other insubstantial allegations.
It seems all too fashionable in these present times for men to turn to issuing inauspicious, threatening comments such as this. This usually occurs with great frequency when they know their practices and teachings are not substantiated by the contextual, accumulative evidences of the written Word of God. Being confronted with this inescapable fact, there seems little else for them to do except appeal to God to rain fire down upon their opposers. One wonders if they ever reflect on just what manner of spirit it is which might be driving them to do so and why?
The attempt to instill fear by insinuating that anyone who continues to oppose these movements is in danger of opposing a "move of God" in order to side-step genuine Scriptural concerns about aberrant practicies and teachings is becoming an all too common manipulative ploy. Any viable move of God will withstand careful Scriptural scrutiny of the highest order. Godly men generally welcome and even invite and encourage careful, intense Scriptural scrutiny and examination of the truths they profess to preach and teach. On the other hand, the proponents and leaders of Toronto and BAG attempt to manipulate, intimidate and frighten by telling their hearers, and putting their critics on notice, if they question the movement, they are ignorant God-mockers in danger of grieving, or even blaspheming, the Holy Spirit and are in jeopardy of missing out and being left behind by the Holy Spirit.
What is the "light" which exposes and discerns these things? How are we to know what is and what is not a "move of God"? It is certainly not through experiential "fruit-proof."
That is the ageless magnificence of God's Word-it is as applicable to your life as it is to mine and has been throughout the years to countless others as well. The Bible is infallible, objective truth which the indwelling Holy Spirit subjectively applies to the hearts and lives of individual believers. The written Word of God is living and active and everlasting and sufficient for reproof, correction, training in righteousness and for equipping God's people for every good work.
It is very difficult, if not impossible, to conclude anything other than the fact that, however much and emphatically it may be denied by leadership and followers of Toronto and BAG, we are faced with a movement which is asking us to deny the absolute sufficiency of Scripture. The Bible is being displaced as the practical, authoritative absolute for God's people by a capricious, fickle, experience-oriented faith. As Don Nori tells us, the "litmus test" for judging whether something is or isn't of God is no longer the whole counsel of God's Word, but, rather, "fruit-proof."
Why have God's people become so discontent and dissatisfied with their Christian faith that many have now reached the point of exchanging the absolute sufficiency of Scripture for experientialism? What more can God do for us that He has not already done through the plenary atonement on Calvary's Cross? What more do we want or need which God has not freely given us?
I believe the answer to those questions is, simply, the "power", whatever reasons may be given in justification thereof. It leads right back to the Garden: ."..and you shall be like God." And I do not mean "power" in same sense that we must be endued with power from on high for effective ministry either. This goes far, far beyond that. Once a movement, any movement, slips the bounds of what is normative and revelatory in Scripture and goes after new revelation, no matter how much its proponents profess to venerate and revere the written Word of God, we inevitably see Scripture overthrown by experientialism.
It seems no different spiritually today than it was in the natural during the Hebrew nation's wilderness wanderings. They wearied of the manna God provided daily to sustain them in their journey through the wilderness. They began to grumble and complain against God, bemoaning having ever left the bondage of Egypt. Unsatisfied and discontent with God's provision, they cried out for something different than that which God had already prescribed for them. Today, I do not believe the great hue and cry for "More! More" means that these people really want "more" so much as it means what they really want is something different than that which God has already provided.
As we have seen, the type of experientialism ("fruit-proof") Don Nori, and others, are advocating is the practice of omitting and ignoring the objective truth of God's written Word when that objective truth contradicts their personal, subjective experience. As opposed to allowing the contextual, accumulative evidences of Scripture to interpret their experiences, Scripture is now to be interpreted through their subjective revelations and experiences. Evidenced by Nori's attempted Scriptural exegesis, we can plainly see that this kind of experientialism inevitably leads to proof-texting and inferring and ascribing erroneous and ambiguous meanings to Scripture passages. Nori's statements are a clear indication that where there is more and more emphasis placed on subjective experience, the authority, relevance and practical application of the objective truth of Scripture for God's people today is contemporaneously de-emphasized.
I submit to you that there is not a single movement which has departed the purity of the Gospel truth and ultimately moved into spiritless apostasy save they did it by elevating subjective revelations and personal experiences above the objective truth of Scripture.
Why is that? Because once we remove the Divine standard by going beyond the bounds of what is clearly revelatory and normative in the written Word of God, we no longer have an accurate point of reference for discerning what is or isn't of God. We then find ourselves wholly at the mercy of fallible mortals, whether ourselves and our own peculiar, subjective inferences and interpretations of Scripture or that of others, or a combination of both. After all, once the standard of the written Word of God is practically removed as the final authority in all matters of faith and practice and subjugated by experientialism and new revelation, who is to say that what each man or woman deems to be right in his or her own eyes isn't? Without the touchstone of Scripture we have no absolute, inerrant frame of reference.
Paul did not call the Bereans denigrating, deprecating names for searching the Scriptures daily to see if what he preached was so. Instead, commending them he called them noble-minded. As I noted at the outset, name-calling and verbal attacks directed at anyone opposed to the movements at BAG and Toronto have reached an all-time high. We have been accused of being not Bereans but, rather, negative brethren, among a whole host of other invectives as well. I believe it is obvious in the citations noted herein just who is attacking, criticizing and judging whom. Do you not find it paradoxical that those who have expended so much time and effort threatening the critics with God's impending wrath and retribution seem to have no such concerns in that regard for themselves when they relentlessly judge, attack and "criticize the critics"? Be that as it may, in the face of it, leave us continually pray as did Augustine, "Lord, deliver me from the lust of self-vindication."
The certainty and objective truth of Scripture depends only upon God Himself and His very character for validation, whereas subjective experience and revelation which are not normative and revelatory in the Bible depend completely upon fallible man and his ability to accurately discern what is and is not of God. Are you willing to stake your eternal destiny on your ability, apart from Scripture, to accurately ascertain and discern what is or is not of God based on personal, subjective experiences and new revelation?
1. ReaperNet (Destiny Image) hosts live weekly chats with Dr. Michael L. Brown and/or his assistant, Scott Volk, every Tuesday evening at 8pm EST. What has come to be referred to as the "critic's corner", where Brown and/or Volk answer questions submitted by "critics" of the BAG movement, begins at 9pm EST. Previous live chat transcripts may be downloaded from Web URL: http://chat.reapernet.com/index.html.
2. A copy of my original Accusers of the Brethren or Good Bereans? Article appears at Robert W. Hunter's The Contenders Web site: http://web.idirect.com:80/~bhph95/. A "sister", mirror-image of The Contenders Web site may also be accessed at: http://www.contenders.com/.
3. James Ryle wrote his tirade and subsequently faxed it to John Loeffler after the radio broadcast in February, 1995. Loeffler no longer hosts the old "Steel on Steel" radio show in the Denver area, but has moved on to host another radio show in another part of the country. Copy of Ryle fax on file.
4. Carl Tuttle, Anaheim Vineyard, transcript clip from tape #00363.
5. William DeArteaga, Toronto Airport Vineyard [now Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship and, at this time, no longer a Vineyard affiliate church], October 13, 1994, audio tape transcript.
6. Rick Joyner and Bob Jones, "Shepherd's Rod 1997." It can be found at Internet Web URL: http://www.eaglestar.org/calltoarms/srod1997.html
7. Destiny Image Prophetic Digest, "Portal in Pensacola" by Don Nori, Winter 1997. Original article may be viewed on the Internet at URL: http://www.reapernet.com/di/did/index.html. Or, a hard copy of the "Portal in Pensacola" issue may be ordered from Destiny Image, PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310, 800-722-6774.
8. Don Nori, "The Plumb Line: Fruit-Proof", Destiny Image Digest, Summer1997.
9. Dr. Michael L. Brown, "Let No One Deceive You: Confronting Critics of Revival", Destiny Image's Revival Press, PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310, Preface.
11. In previous CC issues, in two separate articles, I have thoroughly discussed both the original Kilpatrick Hanegraaff/CRI false prophecy and Kilpatrick's subsequent apology.
12. Steve Hill, "The Solemn Assembly", March 1997, Springfield, Missouri, video tape transcript.
13. Except as otherwise specifically noted, all Hill quotations taken from Chapter One of his book "The God Mockers", Destiny Image's Revival Press, PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310. Please note, if you do not have access to the entire book, you can download Chapter One at Destiny Image's Internet Web URL: http://www.reapernet.com/di/new_product/god_mo_1.html. I encourage you to do so and to thoroughly read and evaluate the chapter for yourself if at all possible.
14. Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "The Toronto Phenomenon", part 2 of 2, Chafer Theological Journal, Chafer Theological Seminary, Fountain Valley, CA. Copies of Dr. Fruchtenbaum's two-part article may also be found at Chafer's Internet Web URL: http://www.bible.org.
16. Dr. Michael L. Brown, "Let No One Deceive You", pp. 13-14.
17. Ibid, pp. 19-20.
18. Dr. Michael L. Brown, ReaperNet live chat transcript, Tuesday, September 16, 1997, may be viewed at Internet Web URL: http://chat.reapernet.com/index.html.
19. Dr. Michael L. Brown, Destiny Image Prophetic Digest, "Testimonies Pour In", Winter 1997. Original article may be viewed on the Internet at URL: www.reapernet.com/di/did/index.html. Or, a hard copy of the "Portal in Pensacola" issue may be ordered from Destiny Image, PO Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310, 800-722-6774.
20. Dr. Michael L. Brown, "Let No One Deceive You", p. 14.
21. Please note, if you do not have access to a copy of Brown's book, "Let No One Deceive You", you can obtain a copy of the Preface and Chapters 1 and 2 at Destiny Image's Web URL: http://www.reapernet.com/di/.
22. Robert W. Hunter, "A Review of Scorning the Sacred: When Critics Enter the Danger Zone." This review may be found at Hunter's Web Site: http://web.idirect.com:80/~bhph95/.
© Copyright 1997 Debra Bouey
Except where otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, California.
COPYRIGHT/REPRODUCTION LIMITATIONS: This article/data file is the sole property of Debra Bouey. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be xeroxed or reproduced only in its entirety for circulation either free or as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this article/data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright 1997 by Debra Bouey"). The Christian Conscience magazine is the only subscription-oriented publication authorized by the author to publish this article/data file in its entirety in its magazine. This article/data file may not be used without the permission of Debra Bouey for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold or published. The Christian Conscience magazine and Debra Bouey retain all copyright privileges.