Spirit of Religion

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Daniel Wee
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Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Mon 28 May 28 2012 8:38 pm

In my recent readings of various neo-Charismatic writers, I have found that they devote considerable energy to denouncing what they all call a "spirit of religion". Most of the time, the definition of this religious spirit is left out so we are left wondering what exactly it is supposed to refer to.

If I understand this correctly, what they mean by this "spirit of religion" is "anything that challenges or resists their teaching and practices."

So, for example, if someone questions their teachings - that's the spirit of religion. If someone asks for biblical support - that's the spirit of religion. If someone feels uncomfortable with some of the manifestations - that's the spirit of religion. I believe these examples would be completely in line with the writers of these books. Consequently, all of the following will qualify as the "spirit of religion":-

1. the Bereans of Acts 17:10-11
2. conservative Christians
3. non-Charismatics
4. theologians such as Paul, and pastors such as Timothy
5. traditional denominations who have clear doctrines

Usually in their books, they do not say these outright, but make an under-the-belt swipe at them without actually mentioning them directly. In this way they can claim to not have accused anyone. The question is if their claims of this "spirit of religion" holds any water at all? Or is it merely a way to shut down their opposition with religious rhetoric?

Take Joshua Mills' book "atmosphere" - in which there are 67-pages of actual content (not counting prefaces, endorsements, advertisements, chapter covers, blank pages, etc.) Out of that 67-pages, he devotes 6-pages (p.28,49-53) to talking about this "spirit of religion". He then adds another 5-pages to how we need to operate without getting hindered (p.54-58). This is a total of 10-pages out of 67-pages or 16.4% of the book - and the longest chapter in the book. [The next longest chapter deals with being generous (with money), ch.7]

At the conclusion on his chapter about the "spirit of religion", Mills has this paragraph (p.58):-

YOU can be the one who will manifest the Glory.
YOU can be the one who will become an open portan of glory in the earth.
YOU can be the one to carry the move of God throughout your spheres of influence.
YOU can be the one to manifest the miracles, signs, and wonders.
YOU can develop an atmosphere of glory and create a climate for miracles.

*capitalization by Mills

It seems that I would replace most of the YOU with God. If the alternative to a "spirit of religion" is a self-centred spirit, it sure doesn't look like much of an improvement.

Daniel Wee
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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Mon 28 May 28 2012 8:47 pm

Common arguments used by those who use the idea of "spirit of religion":-

1. God is supernatural. Therefore anything supernatural should be acceptable.

This is a fallacious argument. It's like saying, frogs are green, therefore all green things are frogs. It completely ignores the possibility that Satan is also supernatural.

2. God will ensure that we won't be deceived.

This flies in the face of biblical exhortations to stick with God's word, and charging of believers to not be deceived. If God is going to ensure that, why even bother to charge believers not to be deceived?

3. Dead religion has no/fewer miracles. We have more miracles. Who are you going to believe?

The idea here is that more miracles equals to truth. This again completely ignores biblical warnings that Satan will come with signs and wonders to deceive many. Miracles in themselves prove nothing.

4. Those who question us are just jealous of our power.

I've actually seen this being written and it is often followed up with the point that the accusers lack faith and want to pull everyone down to their level, hence their attacks.

On p.28 of his book "atmosphere", Mills writes:-

Religious rules and regulations will prevent your atmosphere from flourishing with God's creative potential. Dead religion disregards the grace of God. Jesus Christ wants to have a relationship with you, not a religious ritual.

He then proceeds to quote Matt 22:31-32 completely out of context. He also does not problem quality or define what he means by "Religious rules and regulations". One wonders if that includes biblical commands to test what we hear?

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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Mon 28 May 28 2012 9:00 pm

Bill Johnson tweeted the following:-

"Both the religious spirit and the political spirit wrangle over words. That's why people under that influence are known to take statements out of context with which to accuse the one they mistrust. Stay away from the desire to find that one phrase that proves your suspicions. Listen to understand. Then decide."

It would seem that his thoughts here are:-

1. Words are less than actions (possibly miracles). He has said something to the effect that the one with the miracles is the true/right one.
2. There is an implication that examination is to take statements out of context.

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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Mon 28 May 28 2012 9:05 pm

I probably should make some kind of statement to the effect of:-

The spirit of deception (the deceiving spirit):-
1. hates being examined (John 3:20)
2. will refuse the bible as authority, preferring signs which can be counterfeited (2Tim 4:3, 2Jn 9)
3. will twist the meaning of scripture (2Pet 3:16)
4. refuses counsel and/or correction because of pride (Jer 5:3)

The spirit of deception will also attempt to tear down our defenses:-
1. our reliance on scripture
2. our reliance on counsel of mature Christians
3. our reliance on our conscience
4. our reliance on the inner voice of the Spirit

It will attempt to open up our doors:-
1. telling us that blind-faith is what God wants
2. feed our soulish desires and needs
3. putting pressure on us
4. exploit our ignorance and emotional weaknesses

Rachel Lam
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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Rachel Lam » Mon 28 May 28 2012 11:47 pm

Daniel Wee wrote:Bill Johnson tweeted the following:-

"Both the religious spirit and the political spirit wrangle over words. That's why people under that influence are known to take statements out of context with which to accuse the one they mistrust. Stay away from the desire to find that one phrase that proves your suspicions. Listen to understand. Then decide."

It would see that his thoughts here are:-

1. Words are less than actions (possibly miracles). He has said something to the effect that the one with the miracles is the true/right one.
2. There is an implication that examination is to take statements out of context.
Hi Ps Daniel,
I think to post Bill Johnson's tweet and to make the following two deductions without giving the context does not help me see how you came to this conclusion based on that one tweet.

As I was looking at the tweet, repeated triplet of "wrangle over words", "take statements out of context to accuse" and "find that one phrase that proves your suspicions" seems to me that Bill Johnson is addressing on the subject how people under the "influence of religious & political spirit" respond towards people whom they mistrust (no context given as to why the mistrust).

Without proper context, I really cannot comment much. Although it would be better if Bill Johnson could give biblical basis for the relationship between a "spirit of religion & political spirit" and the effects of their influence on a person.

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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Tue 29 May 29 2012 12:07 am

Good point Rachel. I posted the tweet in the entirety but the conclusions were drawn from more than just this tweet but also from his book, "When Heaven Invades Earth". Unfortunately, the book is in my office at the moment so I won't be able to quote it right now.

Daniel

Daniel Wee
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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Tue 29 May 29 2012 10:47 am


Daniel Wee
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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Tue 29 May 29 2012 10:53 pm

Rachel,

Okay, I have my book with me now (WHIE - When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson) and will attempt to given more concrete examples of Bill's method of insinuation (saying things indirectly). On p.179, he says:-

"I pay no attention to the warnings of possible excess from those who are satisfied with lack."

For Bill, it is clear that he likes to take risks and there's no problems with that, but who is he referring to when he says "those who are satisfied with lack"? We find his answer in the preceding paragraph:-

1. those who consider God's promises to not apply to the present
2. those who have a predisposition towards a weak church
3. those who are concerned for a balanced church
4. those who fear excess

Now, on the surface these seem like rather reasonable statements but they are in fact straw-men (see Wiki for "straw-men" fallacy). The mainstream church believes:-

1. that some promises are for now, others are not for the present (read Revelations)
2. I don't know anyone who prefers a weak church (but to understand more what this really means, you need to understand Bill's dominionist theology)
3. Bill says it as if balance is a bad thing. Is it?
4. Bill says it as if excess is a good thing. Is it?

More subtle than this, one has to wonder just who Bill is directing this to? Basically anyone who is for balance, against excess, and feel that some promises are not for the present but for a future. Who might that be? Well - the mainstream Church. If he has another group, why doesn't he simply name them?

Should we take risks? I think we should. Should we make snide remarks at the church while trying to promote our position? That is just plain wrong.

Secondly, Bill says that he pays no attention to warnings and corrections from this ground, this mainstream Church as far as I can surmise. He will only listen to people who are of the same mind as himself. That is simply arrogance and pride, and to say that in the same breath as slamming the mainstream church is, well, arrogance of the highest order.

The whole of chapter 17 is basically a veiled attack at anyone who doesn't share his position that:-
1. signs and wonders and power are the only ways God moves today
2. those who disagree are complacent faithless cowards

And this is someone who says that we need to be more understanding of someone like Todd Bentley who lives in open sin?

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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Tue 29 May 29 2012 11:07 pm

Another example of Bill's skill at this kind of double-speak. On p.143 of WHIE, he has the following:-

"Whenever I teach on pursuing a gospel of power someone occasionally follows my message with an affirmation of our need for power, but reminds everyone of the priority of knowing the God of power. True words indeed. Power has little pleasure if there is no intimate relationship with God. But that comment is often religious in nature. Someone who has a passion for the power and glory of God intimidates those who don't."

My counselling lecturer once noted, "Everything before the "BUT" is a lie." He's right. When a "but" is interjected like that, it negates what was said before it - in this case "True words indeed." Bill negates this and says that these words "priority of knowing the God of power" is "religious" in nature [hence the title of this thread.]

Moreover, he intimates two other things:-
1. he himself is not religious, and has a passion for power and glory [he actually says this in the following sentence]
2. others who say that we need to prioritize God over power are really intimidated by him, and they are being religious

I find this kind of rhetoric both extremely arrogant and disingenuous. If he wants to make accusations, why conceal in this way. Many readers will likely swallow the whole thing without a second thought, and will end up thinking things like "how come my church is so dead." [I can point out a testimony for you on this.] It seems to me that the ostentatious reason for this kind of rhetoric is to mislead and deceive.

Daniel Wee
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Re: Spirit of Religion

Post by Daniel Wee » Tue 29 May 29 2012 11:09 pm

To be sure, the whole of his book (WHIE) is filled with such insinuations and the point of the first post of this thread, using the tweet, was really an attempt to highlight Bill's tendency to do this, in his writings, tweets, FB posts, and sermons. Not just him - many of those in this neo-Charismatic movement exhibit a tendency of making such veiled attacks at mainstream Christianity in the name of attacking the spirit of religion, when it is simply an attack on any form of discernment or correction.

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