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The AD2000 Movement

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The Mission

"As the end of the second millennium approaches, interest in spiritual matters is peaking. At the same time, however, more voices are competing for that interest in spiritual matters: such as New Age, Eastern Mysticism and occult groups. Yet, God is bringing Christians together in unprecedented numbers and providing special tools to work in the spiritual harvest fields he is preparing." So reads promotional material for Mission America, a coalition of 170,000 churches, denominations, parachurch ministries and ministry networks. The Mission America coalition is an outgrowth of the Lausanne Movement and is a cooperative effort with the AD2000 and Beyond Movement.

The Motivation

"Drawing on a renewed vision for evangelism and taking advantage of the enthusiasm surrounding the new millennium," Mission America and it's national evangelistic initiative, Celebrate Jesus 2000, has a goal to "pray for and share Christ with every person in America by year-end 2000."

Dr. Bill Bright says, "According to God's inspired word I believe it to be God's will, and as we seek His face, fast, pray, work and give, I am absolutely convinced that He will reach the world through us before the end of the year 2000." If, by "God's inspired Word" he has in mind Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come," Dr. Bright has, intentionally or not, joined the countless end-time prognosticators who have plagued the church. The wording is vague, but the elements of prophecy are there (Deuteronomy 18:20-22, Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:21).

Since the giving of the Great Commission by our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8) evangelization of the world has been the calling of the church. The Lord promised to be with his church in her task, "to the very end of the age." The goal of Mission America and its partners is a good one, reaching every person in America and the world with the message of Christ. But we have some misgiving related to the strong emphasis on the date AD2000 and to the materials, methods and theology associated with this vast movement.

The Mapping

What are these "special tools" God is said to have provided for this evangelistic push? "Mapping." The Mapping Center for Evangelism, located in Lenexa, Kansas, is providing cutting edge computer tools that will help to recruit, equip and mobilize workers. The center has divided the whole country into neighborhoods, sorted by streets, for Prayer-Walking. A demographic analysis is available, as well as lists with special symbols to identify neighbors who attend church.

Calling the Mapping Center's phone number you will have the opportunity to buy, among other things, a "Prayerwalking tape," produced by the Mapping Center. The video features Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church, Colorado Springs. Prayer-Walking, Praying on Site With Insight, by Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick is the "authoritative" book on the subject and is required reading for prayerwalkers at New Life Church. Pastor Haggard has the same views as the authors of this book.

On page one of Prayer-walking Paul A. Cedar, the Chairman and CEO of Mission America, and former president of the Evangelical Free Church of America, endorses the book as having "the potential for being one of the most significant books of this decade in mobilizing Christians for strategic praying for the expansion of Christ's church around the world."

The Magic

Prayer-walking claims to eschew "technique," "superstitious twist," "magic" and "formula" (p 36), yet the contents of the book belie this claim. Briefly:

"The actual movement of the body empowers prayer." (p 38)

"I felt my praying was reinforced because I was able to act out symbolically the answer to a specific prayer." (p 97)

"Total concentration of spirit, mind and body." (p 98)

Research of history of London helped to inform prayer efforts and to "break the spirit of unrighteous trade." (p 98)

Prayers from elevations tend to be too broad. To make prayer "more effective" have a good geographical grasp of the city, use a map to trace historical development of the city, etc. (p 114)

"Pray at the site of a tragic event as soon as possible after it has happened." (p 114)

"(We) went to every murder site in greater Boston over the preceding six months.. wore red arm bands.. asked God to heal the land on each of those eighty-six murder sites." (p 114)

The name of Pasadena and Los Angeles' original water source is Devil's Gate. "We sensed strongly that such a name literally brought a curse on the city." (p 115)

Because the ideas expressed in the book, sometimes known as "spiritual warfare", are so common in the evangelical world today, they are easily glossed over. But are they consistent with biblical theology? Compare them with the simplicity of Jesus' promises on prayer: "You may ask anything in my name and I will do it," "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers," "Enter into your closet and pray to your Father." It is my opinion and observation that this material is human-centered and formula driven, which tends to rob Christians of confidence, freedom and joy and rob God of credit.

The Movers

Not only does Mission America's Chairman, Paul Cedar, commend the book Prayerwalking, but he endorses The Star of 2000 by Jay Gary, popular speaker at churches, retreats, and mission conferences.

To say that Jay Gary, who refers to himself as "The Millennium Doctor," has big plans for celebrating the AD2000 date is an understatement! In the March/April 94 issue of World Christian, Gary writes, "The time has come for the world to make the year 2000 what it is truly meant to be - the greatest celebration in the history of civilization - in honor of the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ." (His plans are very inclusive ) But on what basis do we know that AD 2000 was "meant to be" anything but another year to proclaim Christ? And how can Christians and unbelievers celebrate together? Does the Bible teach that Jesus Christ will welcome those who celebrate him as a great leader while rejecting him as Savior?

In The Star of 2000, Gary makes the following prophetic statement: "What better culmination to the bimillennial than to have the guest of honor, the Lord Jesus, personally arrive to usher in his kingdom?" Here Jay Gary, like Bill Bright, comes dangerously close to date-setting. This subtle type of wording is familiar to those who study date-setting groups. Gary even quotes Bright, "By faith, we intend to celebrate not only the birth of Jesus in the year 2000, but the fulfillment of His great commission."

Some of the other persons whose endorsements appear in this book under "Praise for The Star of 2000" are Dr. Bill Bright, President, Campus Crusade for Christ, Dr. Joe C. Aldrich, President, Multnomah School of the Bible, Dr. David B. Barrett, Editor, World Christian Encyclopedia, Dick Eastman, International President, Every Home for Christ, Dr. E. Brandt Gustavson, President, National Religious Broadcasters, David Bryant, President, Concerts of Prayer International, Mr. Paul Eshleman, The Jesus project, Graham Kerr, the Galloping Gourmet, etc.

The Marriage

We have tried to show that the people who are at the forefront of the AD2000 movement tend to wed themselves to teachings which are biblically unsound, teachings which are not necessary to world evangelization and which compromise the evangel. It is not coincidental that their names overlap time and again on book jackets and platforms of certain belief systems.

YWAM (Youth With A Mission) seems to feature prominently in the prayerwalking movement. John Dawson, International Director of urban missions for YWAM, writes the Foreword for Prayer-walking, and many of the book's anecdotes are from YWAM, a group known to have theological problems. (See Lead Us Not Into Deception: a Biblical Examination of Moral Government Theology, by Alan W. Gomes, Th.M. Gomes contends that YWAM teaches Moral Government Theology, a deficient view of the atonement.)

Pastor Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs, mentioned above as the narrator of the Prayer-walking video supplied by the Mapping Center, is the same man who spoke at the "National School of the Prophets" conference held in January 1999 in Colorado Springs to "mobilize the prophetic office for the next century." The promotional material tells us that "The prophetic streams across this nation are uniting to sound a clear trumpet for the future!... Prophets help to prepare the way for the Apostles to establish the Lord's Church."!

Rick Joyner (endtime restorationist) and Mike Bickle, (one of the "Kansas City Prophets") are featured at this National School of the Prophets conference, as well, and Peter Wagner is the convener of the conference. Peter Wagner is also director of the AD2000 Prayer Track under the AD2000 and Beyond Movement (mentioned above).

A mailing from Celebrate Jesus 2000 (Mission America's national evangelism initiative) reads, "These Christian leaders agree.. The hour to reap has come because the harvest across America is ripe. Are you ready?" Pictured are the leaders: First, Paul Cedar of Mission America, Bill McCartney of Promise Keepers, Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, Jane Hansen of Aglow International, Jack Hayford, Pastor of Church on the Way (Foursquare), Bishop George D. McKinney of Mission America, Evelyn Christenson of United Prayer Ministry and Reinhard Bonnke of Christ for all Nations.

The Misgivings

A summary of my concerns regarding the AD 2000 focus are:

  1. It comes close to date-setting, which is forbidden.
  2. Failure of fulfillment leads to back-peddling and disillusionment and, if done in God's name, constitutes false prophecy.
  3. In the name of all-encompassing unity it downplays the importance of doctrinal truth.
  4. It undermines the real mandate of the church.
  5. It wastes money for image building (e.g. visitor center and planetarium in Bethlehem).
  6. There is no Scriptural justification for doing anything other than what is given in Matthew 28 - proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ until He comes - at a date only He knows.

The Admonition

Jude 3: "Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

Once for all! We do not need new apostles and prophets to establish the Church; the Church was established 2000 years ago. We do not need magic. And we do not need dates. Our witnessing will go on until the day Christ returns, at a date only God knows.

 

Written by Greta Olsoe

(Italics are mine)

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