All right. Confession time:
(Confessional Facepalm! source)
I have a ton of stuff on my mind, really want to blog, have about a dozen draft posts “in process”, but have church and family duties that are currently taking precedent.
I’ve been somewhat working through the Strange Fire conference media at a snails pace.
I’ve been reading some of Sam Storms writing in response to the issue.
I’ve been slowly working through Frank Viola’s book-length response to Strange Fire (the PDF will be taken down in around a week and a half, so grab it now!).
I got a package in the mail from a wonderful new friend who is very gracious to me that contains a book I’ve been trying to put down at night.
I’ve started 2 rather large projects related to Strange Fire.
I’ve also had the Canadian Mennonite Brethren Study conference on Homosexuality on the list of things to interact with (which also happened the same weekend as Strange Fire, and I had coffee with someone today who gave me some lowdown on how utterly bad it went. Media is here, but the media doesn’t really tell the story.)
I’ve also had this post in my drafts for around 3 weeks, but I have got precious little done on it, as my Charismatic Primer series involved far more work than people may actually realize. You only see the stuff on here that I run with, but not the rumors that I chase down, debunk, and don’t mention. Either way, here’s what I had done before the conference storm hit.
1. Yoido Full Gospel Church – Seoul, Korea – pastored by Young Hoon Lee
1a. Yoido Full Gospel is the largest church on the planet. There attendance is astronomical, but uncertain. What is clear is that they have a 21,000 seat sanctuary that holds seven packed services a weekend, and they have dozens of satellite campuses (though 20 were made independent churches…each with an average attendance of 18,000 people per satellite campus). I’ve heard membership/attendance numbers as low as 480,000 and as high as double that. Either way, this church has includes at least 1% of the whole country in it’s membership. The whole country. That’s like the United States having a single church with a membership of over 3 million people; think of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway filled to maximum capacity (with infield seating) eight times a weekend, each time with different people…and it would be a church.
1b. The current pastor isn’t that well known (though he’s not exactly unknown), but the previous pastor is David Yonggi Cho. He’s well known, and for good reason. This church is unquestionably a loud and proud prosperity gospel church. Don’t believe me? Fine. Read on.
– Yoido Full Gospel church is open about the fact that true Christians should not be sick, and that the atonement provides the opportunity for people with faith to be healed of physical illness.
– Yoido Full Gospel church is open about the fact that they subscribe to word-faith; meaning that Christians have creative and destructive power in their spoken words, (which they call “fourth dimension spirituality”) I refer to this as ChristCraft: Spell casting done in the name of Jesus. It works as well in Seoul, Korea as it works in Dallas, Texas…namely, not at all.
– Paul Yonggi Cho has also written a book on the subject, and he’s about as subtle as they come. Here’s a choice quote from the book:
The prosperity God wants to see in our lives applies to the whole picture of living: child-rearing, our jobs, businesses, human relationships, the necessities of life, the stability of life, joy and so on. Consequently, if we are made whole in our spirits, souls and bodies, the natural outcome is that we should prosper in every area of our lives. Jesus shed His precious blood and made out a deed—a certificate of title—calling for our prosperity in all things. The remaining work for us now is to exercise the rights and privileges that have already been given to us in order to obtain those provisions. – page 55
– Also, here’s a sermon that he preached on the topic of prosperity. in it, he gives the standard “Satan brings all bad things and God brings all good things” prosperity gospel line (citing John 10 where the devil comes to “steal, kill and destroy”, but he also claims that all evil spirits try to do that as well…which is a familiar tenet of Buddhism). He also teaches word-faith theology citing John Chryssostom and Ralph Waldo Emerson/Dale Carnegie (two opposite sides of the theological spectrum, if ever there were).
– For a little more understanding of where he was on the spectrum, he spoke at the Brownsville Revival, and apparently said that the revival there would “last until Jesus comes”. That’s right. He defended Brownsville as an authentic movement of God.
– For an understanding of why prosperity gospel and word faith are such rapidly embraced concepts in Korea (and other Buddhist cultures), you need to realize that both concepts are already well established in Buddhism in the school known as Soka Gakkai Buddhism, otherwise known as “Name it, Claim it” Buddhism where the secret to getting everything you’ve always wanted lies in chanting “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” daily, as well as regularly reading the 2nd and 16th chapters of the Lotus Sutra.
1c. Beyond the whole prosperity gospel stuff, Yonggi Cho is also currently involved in a $15,000,000+ dollar tax evasion scandal, being spearheaded by none other than the church elders. Read more here and here and here and here and here and so on. There’s no current resolution to this whole case (as of October 17th, 2013).
1d. With regards to the current pastor, Young Hoon Lee, he’s not exactly setting a new pace for Yoido Full Gospel Church. The previous links to the website are current, meaning that Young Hoon Lee hasn’t changed the theology of the church in the 5 years since he took the reigns. No wonder though. On the church website, it says here that “When Pastor Cho’s ‘Threefold Blessing’ and Holy Spirit Movement were misunderstood as a cult, he (Lee) vindicated for him with the theological argument.” Lee’s been Cho’s theological bulldog for well over a decade and a half, so there’s not much expectation of change anytime soon.
That’s about as realistic as John MacArthur passing on, Phil Johnson taking the reigns of Grace Community Church, and going to Grace Community Church 3 years later and seeing the name changed to “New Wine Miracle Healing Embassy of Heaven” on the sign with “Pastors Phil and Darlene Johnson” under it. I’ll hold my breath.
General Idea – Yoido Full Gospel Church is a Word Faith and Prosperity Gospel church that is home to some of the most weird and wacky teachings in the Charismatic fringe…except that Yoido’s connection with them automatically removes them from the fringe.
2. New Life Fellowship – India –
2a. This is a church fellowship of neocharismatic churches that is over 100,000 strong in India. It has churches in Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, and a handful of other cities (but their web presence is horrible, making research absolutely painful). Their doctrine is openly charismatic, and they teach that the atonement includes physical healing.
General Idea – New Life Fellowship doesn’t have enough information that I can find online to make any sort of informed judgment with regards to where they stand on issues like Word Faith or the Prosperity Gospel.
3. Victory Metro Manila – Manila, Philippine – pastored by Steve Murrell
3a. This a church of 60,000+ people (seeing that they have 3,500 small groups) and is a relatively tame charismatic church. They have 15 satellite campuses in the region and have planted 65+ churches. Their doctrinal statement is mayonnaise bland, but I found a few things on their website:
i. Here’s a small group study on Spiritual Gifts/Divine Guidance. Notice that on the second page they say that the gifts of the spirit are given to Christians to make worship and service more enjoyable for the individual receiving the gifts. Not close, no cigar. Here’s a study, from the same series, on Signs and Wonders. Again, read it closely. God’s power is activated by prayer and limited by faith…in the person praying?
ii. Here’s a study on tithing. Remembering that these guys are affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation, read the study again, especially the stuff on Malachi 3. It’s not explicit prosperity theology, but it sure looks like that’s the direction.
3b. They are a founding member church of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, which C. Peter Wagner calls part of the New Apostolic Reformation (in this book, the ninth chapter of which can be read here and talks about Morning Star International, the previous name of Every Nation Churches and Ministries), I’d dare suggest that every red light I have is flashing like mad. They’re an New Apostolic Reformation affiliated church…’nuff said.
General Idea – Victory Metro Manila is affiliated with the N.A.R., which tells me to stay away from them. Anyone with an ounce of biblical discernment would run screaming from C. Peter Wagner, the Saruman of the charismatic movement.
(Healing Mad Cow again – source)
That’s where I hand things off to SlimJim, Evangelz, Andy Chu and the Domain for Truth. Those guys have been nailing out some great stuff on the Charismatic movement in Asia, and the index post to their work is here. I commend you to their wonderful work and am realizing that I need to start a team blog sometime soon; putting out quality posts is difficult to do more than once a week when you’re heavily medicated, have 2 children under 2 who aren’t sleeping, and your brain fogs over and trails off in the middle of a…
Until Next Ti…
What was I gonna say?