Why Some Christians are Suspicious of Us
There is a very strange mentality amongst most people I talk to when it comes to defining the relationship between truth and fiction. A recent experience leads me to write this article which I would like to share with you.
Quite recently B'rit Chadashah (the New Covenant Church) sent a collection of its revelations to a well-established evangelical Christian magazine here in Norway that is in particular occupied with publishing prophecies. When they received our first collection of revelations they were extremely enthusiastic and asked if we would send them more. Most were on topics such as the reunification of Germany, the Yugoslav civil war, the break up of the Soviet Union, and similar prophecies which had been fulfilled. We also sent some revelations on important topics such as the New Age Movement, abortion, and the moral state of the nations.
One of the revelations mentioned the leader of a church who is not accepted by evangelical Christians. This particular man had commented on the question of reincarnation and, in this instance, had been quite correct in condemning the belief. Because he was right, the revelation acknowledged that he was inspired in his comment.
The editor of the magazine was shocked and asked for an explanation. I said that we at B'rit Chadashah did not recognise the ministry of this man but we were obliged to give a man credit for getting something right. A terse letter followed saying that since we "recognised" this man that he could not publish our revelations.
Acknowledging Good Wherever It May Be Found
I am not a Roman Catholic and in general I have a very negative opinion about what that organisation has done in history and what its continuing aims are. But I recognise many individual Catholics for the fine people they are and for the sublime truths they have taught. Even evangelical Christians, who take a very hostile stance towards Catholicism, admire and read the works of great Catholics like Francis of Assissi and Thomas à Kempis.
Now the man this editor was so up-in-arms about was none other than the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr.. We, at B'rit Chadashah, have been witnessing to Mormons for many years largely because many of us are ex-Mormons, and we know the man and his teachings rather well. Like evangelical Christians, we believe that Joseph Smith went seriously wrong and taught many dangerous doctrines. But we also believe that some of the things he taught were correct, as the less prejudiced evangelical Christians who know his work have done also. He was, for example, against abortion, the teaching on reincarnation, believed in the deity of Christ, and so on, all which Christians should applaud. And in his early years he was a Trinitarian before deviating into polytheism. But for some reason Christians are dead scared of him, so anything that is remotely connected with the name "Joseph Smith" sends them into a panic. Such hysterics is, quite understandably, exploited by the Mormons to the full.
Do Not Fear the Truth
We at B'rit Chadashah believe that no Christian ought to be afraid of the truth. The only thing we ought to fear is falling into sin. So I am both perplexed and highly irritated when a man is condemned without a proper trial and without regard for his good sides. There are certainly many devils in the world, but in my experience they are as likely to be found in evangelical Christianity as anywhere else. What, for example, am I to make of an internationally famous evangelist who recently told his audience to commit a terrible New Age blasphemy by getting them to repeat the words: "I am God! I am God!" Yet the amazing thing is that this man, because he is so well-known, is excused by them with such remarks as: "Oh, he must have meant something else!"
Be Slow to Categorise People
It is fundamentally wrong to judge and condemn any man or woman by the church label he wears. God sees men, not evangelical Christians, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses or Muslims. We are not judged by the flag we carry but by our actions. Count von Stauffenberg wore the uniform of a nazi Wehrmacht soldier but he is a hero in the German Federal Republic today because he tried to assassinate Hitler. So I would urge caution in how we judge others.
As a matter of fact I know and respect people from all kinds of religions. Their behaviour is what I judge them by. Most of them believe in things I believe to be utterly wrong but they also believe in things which I believe to be right. And it's there that we interface and have social contact.
I chose to use Joseph Smith today to discuss my theme, "Truth, Fiction, and Revelation" because I know this man quite well, and because he is an excellent illustration. I am also tired of being condemned by people because I believe he taught many fine principles which they, as professed Christians, ought to acknowledge as true because they are biblical truths. So if I want to defend him in what he taught that was true, and condemn him in which I believe he taught that is unbiblical, then I am going to feel free to do so without fear of being labelled a "Mormon", because I know I am not. For the record, I consider myself to be an evangelical Christian in all the essential doctrines of the Christian faith.
The Myth of Denominational Boundaries
Partisanship has no place in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our denomination boundaries are for the most part, I believe, invisible to God. What will count in the resurrection is whether we are in Christ, and not whether we are ‘Baptist’, ‘Pentecostal’, ‘Presbyterian’, ‘New Covenant Christian’, ‘Wesleyan’, ‘non-denominational’ (a misnomer, in my opinion) or any other grouping. For me, and for other New Covenant Christians, what is important is whether a person has received the New Birth and is walking in the commandments of Christ -- I do not care what church he belongs to.
I am a former Mormon. I make no apology for that. I acknowledge that much of what I believed when I was a member of that church was wrong. I also acknowledge that many of the beliefs we had in the early days of the Independent Church, from which we came, were also wrong, because they were built upon Latter-day Saint assumptions. We have left all of that behind us. Unfortunately, there are many who will not allow us to do so and insist that we are still ‘Mormons’. Well, if we are ‘Mormons’ then I am justified in calling Protestants ‘Catholics’ because that is what they once were.
Spiritual Rebirth Wipes the Historical Slate Clean
Thank God that in Christ we are made new creatures -- not just on the day of our New Birth but every day thereafter too. Life in Christ is one of constant renewal through faith, repentance and reformation.
People must take us or leave us as we are. If people wish to fictionalise our identity that is up to them. They are the ones who will have to answer the Judge on the Day of Judgement.
New Covenant Christians have friends in many denominations and ‘non-denominational’ groups. We are united on the essentials and respect one another. That trust is reflected in our willingness to point those who come to us, who don’t ‘fit in’, to their churches -- we are not out to imprison them as the cultists are, because we recognise that we are but a tiny part of a Greater Work. The cultists wish to take responsibility for the world on their shoulders. We do not, because Christ has already done that. My responsibility is to those who are within the reach of my ministry, and the responsibility of other Christians are those within the reach of theirs.
Another criticism we have received is that our revelations are ‘tainted’ by the earlier LDS-type beliefs we once espoused. That is a legitimate concern and one we have been at great pains to address in order to assure our evangelical brethren that we are not ‘secret Mormons’ wearing the clothes of orthodoxy. It is a particularly tough order when you are dealing with suspicious Christians who believe that those who are not of the established traditions are “reds under the bed”. The explosion of cults has understandably made them nervous though all too often wrong judgement of bone fide groups has owed itself more to hysteria than rational judgement. Worse, many groups whose theology is, in our option, New Age in spirit, are accepted without question because of the many ‘signs’ that they have brought forth. Alas, it is not easy to judge these days.
We should not be surprised by such reactions, though. The early Reformers made some horrific statements and did some terrible things which their descendants have come to regret -- Luther advocated the massacre of peasants and Jews, and some of the Swiss reformers showed Inquisition-like tendencies in their violent persecution of those who did not tow their theological line. The skirts of Protestantism are blood-stained too.
Neither Catholic Nor Reformed
It is partly for this reason that New Covenant Christians do not want to be identified with the word ‘Protestant’ and less so with ‘Catholic’ or ‘Mormon’. Every Christian movement has brought forth precious truths but all have crystallised and become institutionalised to some extent. Christianity is kept alive by “movement” of the Spirit-- it is never static. Alas, many of the more recent ‘movements’, such as Toronto/Vineyard, ‘New Life’ and others, despite their professed Christian fundamental beliefs are not, we believe, the genuine article, but counterfeit forms of Christianity whose spirit is occultic and from which we can expect little of any real benefit to the Body of Christ. Modern ‘Christian movements’ have become little more than theatrical performances where imitation gifts are manifested.
I have sometimes been asked that were the New Covenant Church to disappear and I had to choose between one of the existing denominations, which one I would go to. Though such for me would be a giant step backwards in my spiritual life I think I would probably become a Baptist (but which type?!). I would certainly not become a Mormon again, or any other kind of ‘Latter Day Saint’ -- such would be spiritual DEATH. But as to my becoming a Baptist, this is merely hypothetical. In truth, I would be a rather peculiar type of Baptist. And if New Covenant Christianity did not exist, it would have to be invented in any case. In other words, I firmly believe there is an important need for the truths that have been brought forth through us. (And all credit to the Lord -- we are but imperfect vessels).
You Cannot Please Everyone
We have long recognised that we cannot please everyone who calls themselves by the Name of Christ. One of our first encounters on the the Internet was a violent attack by a ‘non-denominational Christian.’ The condemnation was scathing, illogical and indefensible... and most certainly unchristian.
The Christian world is a mass of confusion -- Satan has done a good job of dividing and conquering. It is a most regrettable state of affairs but one that was long ago prophesied. I recently read an article in a local Norwegian Christian newspaper which questioned the grandiose statistics about those reputedly ‘saved’ on some of the ‘crusades’ in Eastern Europe. One investigator followed up one such crusade. The crusade organisers had boasted of ‘thousands’ being saved; follow-up research revealed that of these only 2 or 3 were genuine conversions -- the rest were mainly circumstantial emotional reactions that later wore off.
A Lack of Discipling in the Churches
I have noticed here in Norway that once persons have been ‘won for Christ’ that they are typically left to their own devices. There is no real education in discipleship. Typically, they go away with the mentality that since they have been ‘saved’, and since we are ‘saved by faith’, there is nothing more for them to do. But God’s imputed righteousness is not the same as the cultivation of personal righteousness. Forensic righteousness -- the righteousness of Christ -- may restore us into fellowship with a holy God but does not instantaneously make us righteous. And the evidence for that is the unchanged lifestyles of the majority of modern Christian converts. They remain a part of the Babylonian system, so much so that broadly-speaking they are indistinguishable from it. There is nothing ‘peculiar’ about them as is a characteristic of God’s children.
There is altogether far too much arrogance in the churches, a ‘holier than thou’ attitude which belies and conceals deeply seated spiritual problems crying out for healing.
We have no laurels on which to rest our eternal security -- our salvation must still be ‘worked out with fear and trembling’ even long after we have taken the first and most vital step to receive Jesus as our Saviour. We are not in the Throne Room of God just because we have muttered a prayer of commitment. The race has only just begun!
New Covenant Christians are committed to a path of active discipleship. We are different and unfamiliar -- and that always breeds suspicion. But we hope, in time, to be better known, and to win the trust of our brethren in the wider Body of Christ. But whether we achieve this aim or not we shall, in any case, seek to please God first. May He grant us this our prayer, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Våler, Norway, 31 January 1997
This page was created on 16 October 1997
Last updated on 20 February 1998
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