20 May 2008

Quick Notes

Just a few quick notes form the conference so far:
  1. Wound up eating with folks from the security and front desk staff here and according to them, the fact that I got a room here at all was clearly a miracle. Which is is a little odd – the folks who work here were more impressed by that than I was. For me it was like, well of course He’ll get me a room – this is a hotel isn’t it? Perhaps it was better that I didn’t know the odds stacked against me.
  2. God continues to tell me to wait for Him to move as opposed to reaching out for things myself. That seems to include the meetings that He has set up or me here. So while I don’t have anything specific on that front, it seems clear that He’s up to something. I’ve been mindful of Saul’s impatience in sacrificing to the Lord and how not waiting for Samuel meant the difference between his kingdom being an eternal one and the ignoble end he wound up filling...
  3. A few quotes that are well worth recording:
    • ‘insecurity’ is what we call our fear when we want to keep it around like a pet
    • The problem with a self-made man is that he winds up worshiping his creator.
    • when we step through the veil of inconvenience is when we step into the kingdom of God
    • You work with what God is doing, not  creating a stumbling block out of what He isn’t doing yet

Still a LOT to write about, but no time quite yet.
To Slater – now that I’m here and I’ve seen it all with my own eyes – I’m confident that what is happening here is from God and not from the enemy. All the men here (Rick Joyner et al) are clearly men, meaning imperfect, but also submitted to Jesus. And if He’s willing to forgive their errors then I reckon I need to do the same. Likewise, I’m convicted that I need to very careful about hearing something that is frankly over my head and calling that error when in fact I’m too young in the faith to grasp it yet. But that's just me Chris. If you have questions, I’d really encourage you to come see for yourself...and like soon.


Michael Slusser said...

I have a number of questions, and while they may sound pejorative, they are not necessarily meant to be:

Whenever this issue has come up, and whenever anyone asks about being cautious, of checking these experiences you are describing against Scripture, you (and others of the Band) answer them kindly enough, but there's always a sense of, "You are being too cautious, too critical, too Western-minded, too literal and tradition-bound." There may be some truth to that, but it leaves the question: on what, then, do we base our discernment?

In this latest case, you say, "I'm confident that what is happening here is from God and not from the enemy." From whence does this confidence arise? Is it a sense, a feeling, a state of mind? If so, then perhaps the Mormons asking you to wait for that "burning in your bosom" are on to something. If personal experience and revelation are our guides, then what happens when we come across others who have counter-experiences? If I have a very bad feeling about this conference (and I don't know that I necessarily do), then whose feeling wins? Yours, due to proximity and depth of experience?

In that vein, when you state that you're being wary of, "hearing something that is frankly over my head and calling that error when in fact I’m too young in the faith to grasp it yet," again, how do you know what is "above" you and what is just an appealing human idea? I thought the idea was that Scripture had been provided so we did have something against which to check our experience and feeling, even when we are young and inexperienced.

Now, none of this is to say that I think you're on the wrong track. I have my worries, but I also know you are a man of God, that you do rely on the Scriptures to guide you, that you have a discerning heart, and that you are reporting all the highs without going into detail about the duller, more introspective periods. But it would put my mind at ease to know your answers to some of those questions, both for the purposes of this conference and for the broader purpose of your example as witness.

In some things—like our personal calling or our daily actions—I'm probably wiling to give a little more leeway to personal feelings, because I think God speaks through our desires and skills; going astray when choosing a job doesn't necessarily imperil our soul. (At least, not directly.) When it comes to spiritual movements, "new" ways of worshipping, revivals, and the like, I'm much more cautious because being mislead in that could, in fact, lead to dangerous error. Hence my increased concern in this case, especially when confronted by Christian "leaders" who have (seemingly) erred in the past and some of whose doctrines seem questionable.

(And I must say, if your answer is that I just has to experience it for myself, or that I have to go to North Carolina to find out, that's not a particular comfort, because that would only be asking me to repeat your experience. Part of what convinces me of the truth of Christianity in the first place is that is is historical, accurate, and logical. (Not that logic is at its core, or even that logic is the most important aspect of my faith, but that my faith is supported by fact and reason.) The Apostle Paul continually exhorted that we should check his witness, check the facts, and test the spirits. Not everything about the Western mindset is bad and limiting—it was Christianity itself that inspired scientific thought and inquiry, after all, and those checks on experience are protections against going astray.)

Silverback said...

Phew...that's a big bag o' questions and I feel torn between an extensive answer which will take a long time to unpack or a brief answer that acts as a summary to me, but would probably seem terse to anybody else.

One thing I should answer because I reckon my original post left the wrong impression. For myself, and in my individual opinion, I've never read anything or heard anything from either Rick Joyner or Bill Johnson that I would say is an 'error.' So I probably shouldn't have written that in the first place since it suggests that I have.

I wrote that because as part of my own reading, I've come across folks who DO find error in the teachings of both men. So really, my comment was directed at the fact that I know those kinds of sites and articles are out there and figure some of you are likely to find them as well.

So I'm gonna use the strikethrough on that part of the post just to indicate that I made my point poorly (or not at all).

A similar and related thought goes with my comment regarding something that is over my head and in this case I have an example from just this afternoon. Bob Jones, one of the speakers here, tells a story of visiting the gravesite of John G Lake and finding a pine tree growing over the grave. He tells of how the Lord told him to touch the tree and when he did, he felt 'fire come on his hands and shoulders.' According to Mr. Jones, the Lord explained to him that the roots of the tree had penetrated the ground to go down 'to [John Lake's] bones' and Mr. Jones was feeling the still vital anointing of Mr. Lake.

Mr. Jones must have told that story before because I ran into an article specifically railing against this 'doctrine' two days before I got here. The article concluded that the folks telling these bones stories were deluded at best, demonic at worst.

I admit...it's a weird story and quite frankly, I'd be very hard pressed to make any kind of biblical defense of such an experience. But two things come to me.
1. Bob Jones isn't trying to make a doctrine at all. He's just telling a story. At least in this venue he really made no exposition at all, he just told the story and then kind of shrugged his shoulders like 'it weirds me out too' so that gives me some extra room for grace and quirkiness.
2. The rest of Mr. Jones life speaks volumes to God's presence and favor in his life. He has a long and distinguished record as a profound prophet. To that end, the 'spirit' behind Bob Jones has been tested over and over and over again and he continues to pass. That fact lends a degree of credence to what he says in my mind even if I am totally unable to grasp what in the world he's talking about.

Does that clarify my admitedly confusing comment? I hope so.

As for doubt and discernment, without going into a huge letter here and now, think like the Bereans who sought he scripture because they WANTED to believe. Thomas WANTED to know that Jesus lived again and there is all the room in he world for that kind of healthy skepticism. But I'm not cool with folks who by all appearances WANT to disprove, whose first response to the supernatural is something more than skepticism.

I would point out that in many places our scriptures tell us that God and His ways are beyond understanding, unknowable, mysterious...specifically NOT logical. And Augustine says that understanding is the reward of faith, not it's predicate.