All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.( Isaiah 56:9-12)
Jeremiah 23 is the definitive Old Testament passage in which God pronounced judgment on false prophets. They were deceiving his people Israel, making them secure at a time when they should have been repenting and seeking God.They were saying “Peace, Peace…”when there was no real peace!Thus Israel was unprepared when judgment came upon her.
But he opens the chapter with a denunciation of the Pastors.
Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.(Jeremiah 23:1-4)
Why does he begin with the Pastors? Because had they been vigilant, the false prophets would have not been allowed to ravage, fleece and deceive the sheep. There would be no Bob Jones, Paul Cain, Todd Bentley, or Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland without many willing (and self serving) pastors.
This is another major factor which has led to the downfall and death of the Charismatic movement. The pastors allowed the wolves free reign for the most part, they were Shepherds who wouldn’t feed the flock, or warn them of danger.
How else could a deranged, sexually immoral, proven false prophet such as a Bob Jones or Paul Cain be allowed to minister to tens of thousands at a time, even after being exposed for the charlatans that they were? How is it that thousands of God’s people flock to Toronto to be baptized in irrational and degrading spiritual experiences, none of which can be found in the Bible?
The Pastors have had a misguided “loyalty”, a respect of persons that causes them to be more upset at the Dave Hunts who cry out against the wolves, then they are at the wolves who distort God’s word for their own gain. “Kenneth Copeland is one of us…” they reason, “Touch not mine anointed”… they quote. Shouldn’t a pastor be loyal to God’s Word?
Many Pastors didn’t want to be “left out” of the excitement, or were flattered by the seducers who lead these false movements into opening their doors and access to their flocks to false prophets and teachers.Thus the Charismatic church was left open to the New Age movement,(christianized of course).
Many Charismatic Pastors subscribed to an unbiblical “Church growth” model as well, leading up to the unbiblical “Signs and wonders” phase of the prophetic movement. John Wimber had been a “Church Growth” consultant, before he became known for his “Power Evangelism”. He had made the growth and development of the church into a science, and was a highly paid consultant on how to get people into the pews.
This introduced a kind of pragmatism into the churches, but it worked to swell the numbers who attended the churches. Wimber realized that around the globe, the most explosive growth of the Christian church was among Pentecostals. He concluded that praying for the sick, and casting out demons, and the supernatural element were what was fueling that growth.
Wimber also surmised that in America the “baggage” of classical Pentecostalism would be hindrance to church growth. Gifts of the Spirit as practiced by Pentecostals such as speaking in tongues, tongues and interpretation were a “turn off”to the niche that the church growth movement wanted to reach. To Wimber and his followers the idea of “power Evangelism” was good; healing of the body, healing of the inner man, demon deliverance, Prophetic dreams and revelations, angelic visitations and other experiences should be normative and grow the church.
But Wimber also called for a “Paradigm Shift” in the church’s thinking.
Wimber, Kraft, White and Williams, as well as many other Third Wave teachers, have been calling for a “paradigm shift” for some time now. … I am beginning to think that thousands of Western Christians have “made the leap” into a new paradigm. This is the only way to explain the “Laughing Revival.”
What is the shift? It is from a primarily Western, rational, logical, objective point of view to an Eastern, subjective, experiential paradigm. Haven’t we been subtly taught over the years, that the Western mind set is cold, calculated, rational, based on just the observable facts? On the other hand, allegedly, the Eastern is mystical, from the heart, and based on experience?
Wimber teaches, “We must remember always that the Bible was written in the Middle East, not with rational assumption, that we bring to it as we try to understand it, but with an experiential assumption.” I interpret him to be saying that the Bible is not so much an objective book, but a subjective one. Not so much for understanding God mentally, but for experiencing Him intimately.
In another tape, Wimber explains: “You tell someone from the Far or Middle East that cotton only grows in warm semi-arid climates. England is cold and wet. [Ask them] Does cotton grow in England? The answer you’ll get is, ‘I don’t know, I haven’t been to England.’”11 Or, “I can’t say unless I’ve been there, (experience).” This is the new paradigm, a down playing of doctrine or “head knowledge” in favour of mystical experience. Another variation of this is, “God is bigger than His written word,” translated, God wants to bring you into experiences that aren’t in the limits of scripture. Just knowing God “doctrinally” is not sufficient, you now must have self authenticating experiences. All of these attitudes are the end result of the New Paradigm. This is the shift from primarily objective, to subjective thinking in our approach to truth! (From My Book “Weighed and Found Wanting;putting the Toronto Blessing in context”)
This “Paradigm” shift from scripture based teaching, Logic, reason and doctrine, (in other words classical Christianity), to subjective, experienced based teaching, has led directly to the current syncretism of the occult, eastern religious, New Age and also Christian practices we see in “cutting edged” Pentecostal and Charismatic churches such as Bethel in Redding California, parted by Bill Johnson.
When Wimber was part of the Calvary Chapel movement, and yet was introducing these new concepts in the name of Church growth, Chuck Smith proved to be the right kind of Shepherd. He demanded of WImber, “John are you going to go by experience? Or by the Word of God?”, Timber answered, “By experience” so Smith told him he would have to leave Calvary Chapel. The churches that went with him became the nucleus of the Vineyard movement.
Biblical Pastors have a very simple responsibility. They are to feed the flock, with Wisdom and understanding, from the Word of God, constantly moving to greener pastures. They are also to guard the flock, over whom the Holy Ghost has made them over-seers.
Jesus said,”If you love me, Feed my sheep”. Once again it comes down to love. Love of Jesus is the basis for the pastoral ministry and loving Jesus will compel pastors to stay current in the Word of the LORD.
Pastors are also supposed to protect the sheep from wolves, and not be mere hirelings, seeking their own glory and profit. We are supposed to cry out against the false prophets, name the names and seek to protect the sheep no matter how unpopular we appear to men.
But because of the fear of men, and market place ethics in the administration of the church of God, many Charismatic pastors have failed to cry out, they are sheep dogs too lazy to bark, and they are self seeking, hoping for growth at any price as they jump on “waves”and winds of the latest faddish doctrine.
This is how they have killed the Charismatic movement, and how so many must share in the blame. They have created the conditions for the famine Amos prophesied of,
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.(Amos 8:11-13)