Over the years we have frequently entertained members of the Watchtower in our home. And since we have lived in Lincolnshire, we have come to know a number of these Jehovah’s Witnesses quite well. They always come in pairs, and I suppose most of our readers will appreciate the difficulties associated with such visits. However, we have always treated them with courtesy and respect, and have asked them back for evening discussion, which often develops into quite lengthy dialogue. A short while ago I found out that they have sets of rules related to their visiting work, rules which apply to how they treat people. And one of these rules is that they must consider themselves as GIVERS and not RECEIVERS. In fact this one-way valve system is quite rigid.
We found this out almost by accident, because I had obtained a newspaper containing a report about Raymond Franz,whose Uncle, Frederick Franz was made President of Watchtower in 1980. Raymond was one of the 17 men who held executive positions in the movement, and part of his job was to research extensive material in readiness for the publication of “Aid to Bible Understanding”, a thick manual of instruction for all their members. In process of this work, he needed to refer to many works OUTSIDE their “allowed literature”, and gradually the Lord opened his eyes to the fact that there was a lot of “manipulation of truth” in the Witnesses’ stand. Eventually he and his wife Cynthia were disfellowshipped for their new stand. Fraternisation with them by other Witnesses would mean excommunication from the sect.
Now to return to my story. I produced a copy of this newspaper and suggested to our two visitors that they should read it, as it portrayed a side of their movement which they almost certainly knew nothing about. The result was as follows:- “I’m sorry, but we can’t accept literature.” “But surely you ought to read THIS! It’s dynamite.” “We are not allowed to receive literature from anyone.” “Nothing at all?” “Nothing. In fact we are not really supposed to listen to anything anyone else says. Our job is to give, not receive.” “Then you are exclusive.” “Yes. God doesn’t accept anyone outside our movement.” “But I’ve told you how I came to know the Lord in 1948, and I’ve exercised faith in Jesus Christ ever since. Does that mean nothing to you? Cannot you accept that I’m a Christian?” “I wish you were. You’ve got a lot of knowledge of God.” “But am I a Christian?”After a strained silence – “No, not yet.” “And what about all those who had a faith in Jesus BEFORE the days of C.T.Russell?Before there WAS a Watchtower society?” “God overlooks the days of ignorance. But now that He has declared the truth to be in us, men must act in accordance with the light God has given.” “What you are saying is that I have no possible way of getting through to you. You cannot listen to anything I say. You are so exclusive that you are no longer open to change, suggestion, alteration, or dialogue with anyone outside your movement?” “That’s right. We alone have the truth.”
At that point I realised that it was almost impossible for anyone to “get through” to Jehovah’s Witnesses, so completely were they “caged in” by their leaders. Only by the work of the Holy Spirit, backed by the prayers of God’s people, could an inroad be made.
We weighed all this up after they had left. And my wife reminded me that we had had the same problem when having dialogue with Mormons. They also used to come in pairs, usually two young men, clean-shaven and very neat, wearing badges saying they were “elders”. A most inappropriate term for 20 year-olds. On one occasion, I had dealt with the problem of the Levitical priesthood with two of them for over an hour, and one of them, Bruce V., was beginning to see the point of what I was saying. It was his third visit to us. And it was his last. Next time he was replaced by an older man with a much stronger drive for Mormonism. We never saw Bruce again, but some time later he sent us an invitation to his wedding in Salt Lake City. It was impossible to accept the invite, but we prayed for him. Who knows what the Lord had in mind? Here again was the bedevilled exclusivism. How tenacious is the doctrine of these sects to maintain their own brand of “truth” and shut out all opposing voices.
As we thought about the subject further, it occurred to us that exclusivism was not just the problem with the sects and cults, but it was also very much a part of the mainstream denominational churches of Christendom. We remembered how we had been turned out of a Baptist Church in Wiltshire for taking Bible studies on the Lord’s return that didn’t fit the teaching of the then-present pastor. We were asked not to speak to any of his church members. One has of course heard many tales of people being excluded from the “Exclusive Brethren” for not toeing the line. I once knew of a man who was forbidden to have meals in the same room as his wife, after she had had the gall to question what the elders were doing. And so it goes on. It happens everywhere, and the word “exclusivism” covers it all. It seems that we, as God’s people, tend very easily to build up a doctrinal position to which we hold tenaciously, and anyone who disputes it is “unenlightened”, “off-beam”, “in need of correction”, “outside the pale”, “doctrinally deviant”, or just plain “heretic”. We allow ourselves all the freedom we desire to make changes as we go along, but withhold this privilege from everyone else.
We get angry at the attitude of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, saying that it is impossible to get through to them, (which is of course usually true) but never appreciate that we have similar tendencies ourselves. For many years in my Christian life I have been an ardent anti-Catholic, that is to say, I have been prepared to denounce in no uncertain terms such teachings as the Pope’s inerrancy when speaking “ex cathedra”, the dogmas surrounding the person of Mary the mother of Jesus, praying to the saints, and the teaching relating to the “Mass”, just to mention a few. I still maintain this position, but in more recent years I have been disciplined by the Lord to look more carefully, and to realise that we are not redeemed by doctrines, we are not saved by a judicious choice of Church, nor are we heard by a particular way of saying our prayers. Rather are we redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, who died for ALL, (which includes Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons), and Jesus is the Head of the CHURCH (there is only ONE! And it consists of all those who have a living relationship with Him) and that God hears our prayers when they ascend from a heart that is uncluttered by unrealities, and rings true.
I can now see that a Catholic who takes his/her faith seriously, and desires a true communion with God, attends Mass regularly, and tries to be obedient to the faith as the Catholic Church advertises it, is nearer to the heart of God than an Evangelical who believes that no Catholics will ever get to heaven, and adopts an attitude of exclusivism, shutting them out of his doctrinal box. My wife has a dear friend who is Catholic. The two ladies are very good friends. They both understand each other, and each knows the other’s basis of faith. But although there is no attempt on either side to “evangelise” or “convert”, they have a deep understanding of the character of God, and share together on that deep level. God has kindly allowed this to happen to teach us a lesson, and help us to eliminate from our thinking areas of “exclusivism” that He finds objectionable.
Sadly we have recently realised through reading books like “Restoring the Kingdom” by Dr. Andrew Walker, that the new movements which spring from the older Pentecostalism, are developing exclusivist tendencies. Back in 1974 we were told by a friend who is now in a high position as a prophet in the Restoration movement, that “they” couldn’t accept any word of prophecy which I had received, unless first of all we were to join a charismatic fellowship, be “covered”, and present any word of prophecy to the elders for acceptance. This was just the beginning of the realisation that modern charismatic-type fellowships adopt a position not unlike that of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And Walker’s book made it quite clear that the exclusivism is now rife, whether it be in Restoration, Renewal, Charismatic, New Life, and so on. All are adopting the teaching of “covering” whereby each person has another human being to whom they look for advice, receive teaching, instruction, correction, and prophetic direction. The elders themselves are then covered by an apostle, and apostles are covered by a chief-apostle, who doesn’t appear to have a covering outside the Lord Himself. Because charismatic-type fellowships are now amongst the most prolific in the land, we are finding that it is impossible to make any inroad into their movement. Any word of prophecy we have received in the past, or any other word received by others like as ourselves, belonging to a small autonomous fellowship, cannot be entertained by members of these new mega-churches. They have hemmed themselves in, and it is almost impossible to “get at them.”
And so we have had to realise that a new brand of exclusivism has arisen in this land, and also in America. Our last two numbers of the Prophetic Telegraph have been directed towards the new “Power Syndrome” evident within British churches, called the “Toronto Blessing.” But we realise that the seventy copies sent out may have, in some cases, impacted against this stone-wall, and been totally unacceptable. Truly it is a sad day when people are willing to hand over the running of their lives to others, whether they be elders, shepherds, priests, apostles, prophets, pastors, or anyone else who wishes to rob them of their God-given position. Paul said that there is but ONE God, and ONE Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus. Hence every man must have the Lord Jesus Christ as his Head. John said that the anointing we receive is such that we have no need of a man as a teacher, because the anointing remains within us. Hence we have the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide. Anything that man should say to us must be checked out against the “still small voice” of God’s Spirit within us. And Jesus said, “call no man your father. You have one Father in heaven.” Hence all titles of authority in a church must be low-key, so that “those in authority” are not, even unwittingly, treated as “fathers”.
More than ever before we have become aware of this SATANIC DEVICE which is called EXCLUSIVISM. People everywhere are caught up in its clutches. Most of the denominations of Christendom have their own brands of exclusivism, which seldom rears its ugly head, but is tacit to the position of each group. Ecumenism is the name given to the movement which ostensibly tries to break down the barriers which remain. But it is a lame duck, and has been unable to cut much ice, to mix the metaphors. The charismatic movement, which gave a possibility of becoming the main thrust in putting denominationalism to death, has now its own brand of exclusivism, stronger than anything preceding it, even the stranglehold of the Catholic church.
Dear friends, this must not become a tirade against people whom God has created, and redeemed. But it most certainly is an in-depth study of the evil principle behind it all, engineered by the Devil himself. And it is easy to see why he uses it. Those who accede to exclusivism in any of its many forms, will find it difficult to accept anything outside their group-mind-set. This develops quickly into a “holier than thou” attitude, or “I thank God I’m not as A, B, or C.” In other words it is the weed-seed planted in the soul, which germinates into the plant of pride, spiritual pride. Out of this “plant” grows the attitude (usually unappreciated) that other people are held in LOWER ESTEEM than one’s self, which can in time cause one to “pass by on the other side”, and treat other people as of little (comparative) value. Not everyone is treated as one’s “neighbour” in the sense that Jesus meant it. And if this is the approach to others, the attitude towards those within the Group is that of “special importance to God.” A quite unwarranted state of mind. I think that most of us have been guilty of this in some measure. How can it be otherwise, when this evil weed has been growing so strongly? But the weed also has the property of blinding the person to its presence. That is awful. As this weed grows, so we may even find ourselves viewing others as of no consequence, not only to us but even to God. We might even think of some as fit only for “outer darkness” or “eternal fire”, failing to remember that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Whereas God says that He will assign certain people to a rather dreadful future for a lengthy period of time, how can we take delight in this? Does the Lord find pleasure in the death of the wicked? Much growth of this weed eventually ends with cries of excommunication, anddisfellowshipping, and in the past it has even created such atrocities as the Spanish inquisition, where judgment was taken into human hands.
All this results from a failure to see that Satan has used this idea of exclusivism as a most useful tool to divide God’s people, and cause them to rise up against each other in many unloving and hurtful ways. Paul said that our warfare was not against flesh and blood, but against the evil powers behind the scenes. “Flesh and blood” means human beings. The brother or sister that I am accusing in my heart, because he/she does not live up to the light that I (the great I) have received, is the “flesh and blood” that I am commanded NOT to be belligerent towards. If we can understand what is BEHIND all this, may we not arrive at a more stable ground, and lay to rest the fleshly desire to think of ourselves as “different” and “better” or “more enlightened” than others? Is it possible for us to reject SYSTEMS, and ORGANISATIONS, and DENOMINATIONS, as being only the outward expressions of the EXCLUSIVIST weeds growing in people’s hearts? Is it possible for us to see what the Devil is doing, causing people to be “covered”, so that they cannot listen to any voice save that of their recognised leader? Can we pray that this wretched weed be destroyed in its working? That is, after we have repented of it ourselves, and asked God for a better mind, which looks at others, whoever they are, as creations of God, and equally precious in His sight, even if at the moment they may be held in bondage to many evil principles? Can we accept that God has treasures in many settings strange to our way of thinking?
In C.S.Lewis’s “Last Battle” (the 7th in the Narnia series) he displays a character who is a Calormene warrior (hence on the “wrong side”) by the name of Emeth. Eventually Emeth meets the Lord and finds that he has been worshipping Him all along, even though OUTWARDLY he has worshipped Tash, (the embodiment of evil). But Aslan said that He saw Emeth’sheart, and the heart was TRUE, and no true worship can ever be received by other than God Himself. It was a wonderful message. Perhaps most people never knew that Lewis gave him a name which is the Hebrew word for “truth”. But after all, Lewis was only drawing on the parable of the sheep and the goats. The sheep acted out of TRUE heart-motives, even though they knew not the Lord. But the Lord sees into our minds and hearts and knows not only our thoughts, but also the hidden motives BEHIND our thoughts.
Shall we endeavour to adopt a “good Samaritan” attitude towards those who do not think according to our present understanding? Shall we prepare ourselves to be ready to give a glass of water to an “enemy”? Shall we try to pray for those who are behaving rather objectionably towards us just now? Such prayers help God to change US, even if we think they may change the others. Can we be ready to “turn the other cheek” when the hand that strikes us belongs to a Christian? Or it may be the blow of spoken words rather than the hand. It is often more painful to hear hurtful words than to receive actual bodily blows.
Finally, can we endeavour to “love our enemies”? I must confess that I have found this difficult. I suppose we all do. But I have also noticed that by praying for the person who is at present acting as an “enemy”, the urge to retaliate melts away. It is as though God is saying to us, “If someone acts in an unloving and hurtful way, your flesh can’t help itself, in that it wants to hit back. But I ask you to crucify your flesh. You will find this hard, but my method is to pray for a blessing on that person. If you do that, I promise that the natural reaction will disperse from your soul. Then you will be an overcomer. You will have overcome the Devil, who wants you to hit back.” Truly we shall find many who will have come “from the east and the west to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of God.” And what do the east and the west signify? They signify places least likely (in our estimation) for God to find His treasures, even as the Jews found it almost impossible that God should find pleasure in the Gentiles. Once this truth has become firmly planted within our souls, then we shall find it easy and pleasurable to “go the extra mile” and to “give more than asked” and to “turn the other cheek”. I do not speak as one who has “arrived”. Rather do I speak as one who has been awakened to see the point of these things, and who will strive to put them into action by God’s grace. I do not consider myself to have a good track-record, and I am not in a position to be a teacher of these important truths. But in this paper I have felt constrained to write down my present thoughts and share them with you, in the hope that we may all pray for each other to become more like our Father in heaven, as Jesus taught in Matthew 5.
In practice, I know that life will be just as difficult as it always has been. The Jehovah’s Witnesses will still be unable to listen.The Mormons likewise. The new charismatic shepherding churches will be just as “closed” to any injection of an alternative outlook. The Catholics will still believe that we are at best “separated brethren”. But there is a way through that does not need words. It means that we can build bridges by looking out for the possibility to do little acts of kindness towards those whom we find most difficult and troublesome in life. Who knows what might follow? To stand aloof is only to perpetuate the differences and maintain the status quo, perhaps of enmity, hatred, misunderstanding. But to go out of our way to prove that we have no enmity, no quarrel, no intention towards ill, may be just the way that Jesus wanted us to interpret the Sermon on the Mount. Is this the start of “loving our enemies”? Forget the concept of “enemy” as meaning a foreign foe, as Germans and Japanese were towards the British in WW2. The word has a meaning much closer to home. It means anyone with whom we do not feel quite at one, anyone who is somewhat “removed” from our way of thinking, anyone who looks down on us as objectionable, unwholesome, wayward, sinful, heretical. Perhaps we are some of these things. God knows. But to pray for an opportunity to help an “enemy” may be just the opening that God needs to clear up some hidden problems in our own souls.
Above all, remember that all attitudes of hostility, animosity, and difference between us as human beings are generated from the Devil’s armoury, and operate upon our flesh, our fallen nature. To appreciate this is half way to solving the problem, because it takes away the fire of revenge from our souls. “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.” Yes, God is able to repay in a way wholly impossible for us humans. He has a marvellous way of using repayment as a means of refinement rather than merely punishment. If we tried it we should make a right mess of things, so it is best left to the Lord. Let us “wrestle against the principalities and powers and dark forces in heavenly places”, using the armour that God provides, and not indulge in warfare against human beings whom God has created for Himself. May God give us grace and strength thus to be more obedient to Him in all these areas, that we shall be those who practise the Sermon on the Mount from a true heart of love towards God and man. Dear friends, please pray for us. And may God bless you. THE TORONTO EVENT
It will be expedient to write a further note on this matter. Since writing last, I have corresponded with a few highly respected brothers in the public eye today, asking them for their comments, and conveying our own horror at what we hear from so many directions. In their replies I have noticed a general reluctance to dismiss “Toronto” altogether, and found what may on the surface seem to be a commendable attitude, that of Gamaliel – “let’s wait and see. If it be of God you cannot overthrow it. If not, then it will destroy itself in due course.” What troubles me is that the underlying POWER SOURCE is not being identified. I am not watching the fleshly manifestations of those who want to give way to emotional freak-outs. That is easily identified, and is just another example of what we can all become “in the flesh.” It is of course sad to think that Christian teaching has allowed such fleshly activities in abundance these days, but at least we know where THAT is coming from. But there is a POWER at work here, and it has arrived on the scene quite recently, first in a few individuals, and then as by contagion, multiplied in geometrical progression until now it has swept Britain and the United States like a tidal wave. Those who have been used to charismatic “power” in various directions in their ministry are saying that they have never witnessed anything like it before. Something has suddenly injected itself into the Christian world which displaces all previously known Pentecostal or Charismatic phenomena.
The result is what might be called “a field day”. What is the source of this power? There can be only two sources to choose from, because psychic phenomena do not manifest themselves in this fashion. Hence it is either of God or of the Devil. Before arriving at a definite conclusion, let me mention an interesting fact, brought to my notice in a quarterly journal kindly sent to me recently. Mike Bickle of the Kansas City Prophets apparently received a word from the Lord to the effect that the charismatic renewal is now over, and that a “new wave” is about to begin. (This was received during 1992) And whereas the former wave of activity could be likened to Ishmael, which has now been sent away, the New Wave will be likened to Isaac, the true seed of promise, and a huge movement of power will be liberated. Paul Cain preached on this with R.T.Kendall at Westminster Chapel in October 1992. He predicted mass healings, countless numbers of people seeking after God, and even whole nations turning to God in one day. For a while nothing seemed to be happening, but in retrospect it DID happen, but only to a few individuals. Now it has multiplied at an exceedingly rapid rate, and the power is certainly very evident. But what is the main evidence of this power? What type of activity pervades most of the churches where this power has been liberated? It is laughter, and in many cases UNCONTROLLABLE LAUGHTER. Many have called this “the laughing revival.” But what does the name ISAAC mean? Laughter! It is as though some “brain” behind these recent manifestations is having his own laugh at what he’s produced. A member of our own fellowship, writing to us from the south of England reports that in one Surrey church the young people have been so drunk in the spirit that the police have had to investigate – they were walking about town afterwards showing all signs of being literally inebriated. Does this seem to be the activity of God’s Holy Spirit? Of course not. But still the waverers say, “It is a work of the flesh in many cases, but behind it God is at work.” But again I ask, have you taken the SIZE OF THE POWER SOURCE into account? And what is its ORIGIN?
And there was one who came in his own name, and the people received him. And he went up to the top of the mountain of his house, which is called Babel, the “gate of God”, and there sat down. And he gathered his disciples about him and opened his mouth to teach them, saying, Blessed are the rich in spirit, for they shall have need of nothing; Blessed are those who laugh, for they shall be drunk in the spirit; Blessed are the spiritually aggressive, for they shall win the nations for Christ; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after spiritual power, for they shall be filled to a degree never before known; Blessed are the forceful, because they shall bring about unity in God’s churches; Blessed are the strong in faith’s resolve, for they shall see the fulfilment of all their desires; Blessed are the warriors, for they shall deliver the world of demons; Blessed are those who are highly honoured for righteousness’ sake, for they shall be the princes in the Kingdom; Blessed are you when all men shall speak well of you, for you will then have achieved true greatness; – – – – –
There are certain other factors about this “New Wave” which I find totally unacceptable and indeed offensive. I will mention one, which is based on the words Paul Cain used in a meeting at Wembley. After indicating that the church today is in a precarious position, he said that we should not rebel against God’s new work. “WE are the ones who will choose if the next move of God will be a day of salvation or a day of judgment – for those who reject it – – – they will have a more severe judgment – – – This next wave will not be stopped, and the opponents will soon be forgotten – – – the past no longer exists and those who try to live in it will cease to be a part of what God is doing today.” This sounds more like a communist take-over, a new dictatorship, rather than the Master’s character as expressed in the Sermon on the Mount.
That is why I find it so offensive, and I cannot understand how so many Christians can flock to huge gatherings like that at Wembley, and roar, whistle and applaud as speakers like Paul Cain relate facts pertaining to this New Wave. Where has their discernment gone? And why don’t the Big Names in this land denounce the movement for what it is? Do we have to conclude that Satan has placed a shroud of darkness over the majority in this land, thereby to believe the LIE? I understand that the huge network of Restoration churches which used to centred at Bradford under Bryn Jones, has accepted “Toronto” as a blessing from God. Does this mean that the Charismatic movement has been primed over the last 25 years, so as to be ready for this New Wave when it comes? If so, then the Sugar-ice Duck vision I received in 1974 was for real, and its outworking is before us now. The Beast contained within that Duck is fully-fledged and active in our midst, and the power being generated is already unbelievably high. What will it be like in a month, three months, a year from now? And will we be able to stand against it? If this is the ultimate move of antichrist activity in the earth then the prophetic Scriptures are very outspoken about the persecution of God’s people. May God have mercy on us all.