Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lou Engle, Scripture and Dominionism

Lou Engle (who has a website here) is a prominent figure in the house of prayer movement, and is a senior leader at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOP-KC) under Mike Bickle. He is most commonly known for his TheCall conventions, which happen at various places across the country and are mainly for prayer to God for breakthrough and revival in America, especially in regards to homosexuality and abortion. In addition to IHOP-KC, Engle has started a series of Justice Houses of Prayer (appropriately known as JHOPs) in various major American cities. His target audience is often young adults and children - in fact, he can be seen talking about abortion with many children in the documentary Jesus Camp.

One element of IHOP-KC and its associated churches is the stance of dominion theology. Dominion theology teaches that the believer has dominion over every area of life. This extends well beyond how most Christians might believe - dominionists will extend it into society, culture, and government as well. They uphold that we are reclaiming everything from Satan to God, not just the souls of men. Some will use the word "kingdom" in this regard, stating that we are in "the kingdom" and reclaiming everything for "the kingdom."

This came out surprisingly strong in a Lou Engle sermon I listened to recently. It was entitled Voting as a Prophetic Act of Divine Governance, and given at IHOP-KC (link). Perhaps what shocked me the most while listening was how much Lou Engle distorted scripture to suit his theology. Well this isn't uncommon for those at IHOP-KC (as I've shown before and again), it was the first time I had heard Lou Engle do it, and just the way he distorted verses - even well known verses - made me realize this sermon should perhaps be addressed.

As might be discerned from the title, the sermon is on voting, and why Christians should vote. Near the beginning of the lecture/sermon, Lou Engle turns to Genesis 1:26.
This is the mandate - the cultural mandate - that God gives to Adam. He creates Adam, "'Make man in our own image,' God says, 'according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea...the birds of the air, over the cattle over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them, and then God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it, bring it under governmental control, subdue the rebellion, and have dominion over the fish of the sea the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" [1:25-mark]
Did you notice what was not there in the original text that Engle added? Let's quickly review the verses he quoted in their original wording:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." [Gen 1:26-28]
So as you can see, nowhere in the text does it say man should "bring it under governmental control" or "subdue the rebellion." The latter point is especially odd - what rebellion? The Fall had not yet occurred. There was no rebellion to subdue. This makes about as much sense as a historian saying, "And King George III sent General Cornwallis to America in 1762, saying 'Subdue the revolution!'"

Of course, the first chapter of Genesis is always the key place dominionists go to in order to substantiate their theology. The problem is, of course, when they stop at verse 28, they always forget what comes after it:
And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so [Gen 1:29-30]
This is repeated to Noah later on:
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." [Gen 9:1-4]
What is going on here? God is giving His final creation - mankind - dominion over the rest of creation, yes. However, this is in the context of God's providence for them. That is, man is permitted to have dominion over creation so that he can be provided for. The animals are here for the service and food of man, as are all the plants yielding seed and bearing fruit. This says nothing about government, rebellion or anything like that, nor could we consider this a "cultural mandate." Engle has added such a concept into the text. Why? As suggested before, to promote dominion theology:
As we begin with the first mandate of God...the first mandate that describes what the image of God in man really is, and it is this: that the image of God is a rulership image. That by bearing the very image of God, by very nature and original job description, we are rulers. It is our calling, it is within us, we are dominion-havers, dominion-takers, amen. Can you say amen? The primary job description is to rule. [3:04-mark]
And soon after:
Now at this time in history, God had created the heavens and the earth, but there had been a rebellion - isn't that right? And Satan himself was cast down from that throne of worship before the Lord, and he found his headquarters of rebellion - he made it on the earth, he was cast down there. God puts Adam into the Garden, there's a serpent walking there, and God says, "You're to tread down that serpent in this garden. You're to govern this garden and bring it into subjection." [5:06-mark]
Here we finally have the context of exactly why Lou Engle added "subdue the rebellion" into Gen 1:26-28. According to Lou Engle, Satan falls to earth, makes a headquarters of rebellion; God puts Adam into the garden and says Adam's to tread on the serpent, govern the garden, and bring it into subjection. Here's the problem with that: nowhere in scripture does it say anything close that. Let's review what God says when He puts Adam into the garden:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." [Gen 2:15-17]
And that's it. There's nothing about a serpent, nothing about "bringing the garden into subjection." The serpent won't appear until chapter three, nor will it be said that someone will step on the serpent until then. At this point, snakes just aren't a problem. Even when the snake does appear, he's not incorporated into any kind of dominion or kingdom theology. What Lou Engle has done here is read chapter three back into verse two, and what's more...he has distracted us from Christ. What do I mean by this? Let's review the "tread down that serpent" verse:
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." [Gen 3:15]
This is considered by some to be one of the earliest Messianic prophecies in scripture. God is saying to the serpent - and by extension, the devil - that he will bruise the heel of the woman's offspring, and her offspring will bruise his head. This is the fulfilled in Christ: the devil "bruised his heel" at the crucifixion, and Christ "bruised his head" at the resurrection. This passage isn't about us, it's about Christ. To make it about us is to rob the glory from Christ and pass it to our own.

Lou Engle then goes at length about the "four arenas" that we must "govern" if we're going to "bring Satan down" and "bring the kingdom to the earth." He starts by saying that we must govern ourselves, asking "hath Christ become the governor of my own life?" (7:10-mark). I didn't have too many problems here, and I'm certainly not writing this post to nitpick on every tiny thing Mr. Engle says. However, I did feel myself come to a halt when he talks of the next "arena," which is marriage:
In the garden, first movement of governmental rebellion springs forth in that marriage. And when that rebellion takes place, the man and the woman are hiding from one another, and hiding from God. If we're gonna be governing the earth, our marriages have got to stay together. [7:54-mark]
Again, let's go the text where this is occurring.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. [Gen 3:6-8]
Let's now review a few problems with Lou Engle's interpretation of this passage, given what we've read:

1) This is not a "governmental rebellion" - this is sin. Adam and Eve had sinned against God, and that is what happened here. I don't like it when liberals reinvent terms - neither do I like it when conservatives do so.

2) The first "governmental rebellion" was not Adam and Eve hiding from one another, but their violating God's commands. Marriage is nowhere being discussed here. Certainly one could argue Adam failed in his role as a husband for not protecting Eve from the serpent or reprimanding her when she offered him the apple, but that was the sin for which they are accosted for is the eating of the forbidden fruit.

3) Nowhere does the text say the man and woman were "hiding from one another" - Lou Engle has completely read that in. It simply says they "hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God" - they're not hiding from one another and God, they're hiding from God alone. They didn't sin against each other, they had sinned against God - that's why they were hiding from Him.

Lou Engle now moves onto his third "arena," saying it involves children, having lots of children, and raising children to have a dominion mindset. This, for me, led to the most shocking part of Lou Engle's speech, and the part that inspired me to work on this blog post. Pay close attention to what he says:
Be fruitful, multiply - but it's not enough to be multiply and have children. You must have children who become sons who can bear the governmental rule. "Onto us a child is born, onto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders." Children can be born, but sons come from fathers. Come on! Sons come from fathers who father sons who then can bear the government upon their shoulders. [9:06-mark]
WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA! Did you see what he just did there? To what verse is he referring in that quote? He's quoting Isaiah 9:6 - let's look at it in full with a bit of additional context:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. [Isa 9:6-7]
Who's being talked about here? Who is the child being born? It's Jesus Christ! This is a Messianic prophecy, and one of the best known! Lou Engle has (for the second time) completely ripped a Messianic prophecy out of context and applied it to us. Engle cut it off after "the government shall be upon his shoulder," but he forgot what came after that, which would have completely contradicted his point. Can any Christian father call his son "Mighty God"? Can any Christian father say his son is "Everlasting Father"? This is simply inexcusable - in fact, it's downright blasphemous. As many who read my blog know, I don't immediate jump to the assumption someone is purposefully misquoting scripture, but in this case I can't possibly think that Lou Engle did this by accident. He had to have known he was misapplying the verse, and went ahead any way. There is absolutely no excuse for this.
You read it in Isaiah 22, He says, "and the government shall be upon his shoulder, I'll give you the keys of your father David, what you open no one will shut," and then 2:23, it says "and he shall rule as a father." We need men and women who can rise up and rule as fathers, not as unfathered children. Who govern under the fear of people's voices rather than govern under the rule of the Father in heaven.[9:50-mark]
Lou Engle is quoting from what is an extensive section of Isaiah:
Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: What have you to do here, and whom have you here, that you have cut out here a tomb for yourself, you who cut out a tomb on the height and carve a dwelling for yourself in the rock? Behold, the LORD will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you and whirl you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a wide land. There you shall die, and there shall be your glorious chariots, you shame of your master's house. I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your station. In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house. And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father's house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken." [Isaiah 22:15-25]
The idea of "he shall open, and none shall shut" and "he shall shut, and none shall open" is made reference again later on to someone else. Who is it? It's Jesus Christ. How do we know this? We know this because this passage is made reference to later on in Revelation:
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: 'The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.'" [Revelation 3:7]
Just as some Roman Catholics wrongfully say Isaiah 22 is about Peter, so too does Lou Engle wrongfully say Isaiah 22 is about believers. This is the third time thus far in the sermon that Lou Engle has taken a Messianic prophecy and applied it to us rather than Christ.

Continuing on:
Number four: he placed him in a garden - the cultural mandate is to subdue the garden, the sphere of authority that you've been placed into, and govern that, and bring it under the dominion of Christ, so that there is peace...Wherever I go, people are talking about the seven mountains of influence: government, family, religion, business, education, arts and entertainment, and media. These are the seven mountains of influence - it's your garden! God wants the garden of government to be ruled by sons who, when the government is upon their shoulders, the increase of the government and of His peace shall be no end. [10:43-mark]
The "seven mountains of influence" is a dominionist doctrine that has become popular in most dominion theology circles these days. Engle approves of this doctrine by applying all the misapplied verses which he has thus far cited. He continues:
So, Adam's rebellion brings forth a full-blown rebellion in chapter eleven of Genesis - Babel - which is the foreshadowing of the worldwide full-blown rebellion of the last days when the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, government releases law so that there is peace. The man of lawlessness will rule, it will be a worldwide rebellion, and what starts with Adam comes into the full-blown antichrist rebellion. [12:32-mark]
What? How is any of that related? Engle is going off on a tangent here and talking about things without first stopping to explain them. He's throwing them out in a cavalier fashion without giving a defense for the people listening. This might win the emotions of people there in IHOP-KC, but such preaching does not edify the people of God.
But in the middle of this, and in the falling of the garden, a voice comes, it is the word of the Lord,  "But you're gonna have a seed, and that seed will crush the head of the serpent," hallelujah! There would come another Adam who would begin to reverse what Adam had lost in terms of governmental authority to the usurper Satan, there would come another son who would bear the government upon his shoulders, and of the increase of his kingdom of his government there shall be no end, and it will lead until the great day, until Christ is Lord, rules over the earth, and the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. There are two movements in the earth: a governmental rebellion and a governmental restoration of all that was given to Adam at the beginnings. Hallelujah! When Christ completely obeyed the Father in the garden - when He went to Gethsemane and said, "Not my will, but thine be done," it was the beginning of the great restoration. He got the keys of the kingdom when He died on the cross in complete obedience to His Father, raised to the right hand of the Father, given the throne room, seated at the right hand of the Father.  [13:06-mark]
Lou Engle isn't entirely wrong here. Many theologians and commentators have written on a comparison between Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden and Christ's loyalty in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is no doubt a legitimate allegorical connection which can be made here. However, where we should be discerning is Lou Engle's application of this being the starting point of a "great restoration."

In fact, Lou Engle's focus on Christ's passion in the garden and that this is the beginning of a "great restoration" is ironically similar to Mormon theology. Mormons do not believe we were atoned for on the cross, but rather in the Garden of Gethsemane when Christ is said to have sweat drops of blood. In like manner, his presentation of the cross fits more a Christus Victor model than a substitutionary atonement model. Not that I am implying Lou Engle denies the atonement, but when his presentation is solely on Christ's loyalty and the idea of "government restoration," that is the logical conclusion we come to in regards to the role of the cross.

So what was the point of the cross? Shortly after foretelling His death for the third time, Christ told His disciples that "the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matt 20:28). It was about the laying down of the Son's life for the purchase and sanctification of His chosen people. The Christus Victor model is therefore not an entirely wrong one, as Christ did emerge from the cross a complete victor, but to simply highlight the victorious acts of Christ would be like focusing on V-E and V-J Day while ignoring why World War II started in the first place.

Engle continues:
...He gave the great commission to the new Adam, to the offspring of the last Adam, the new believers in Christ, He gave them the mandate "go ye therefore into all the world and preach the gospel. Teaching all nations, discipling all nations, to do whatever I've told you to do!" Come on! I believe what he was saying here, it was what God said to Adam in the cultural mandate of Genesis: the great commission is actually the extension of the first commission, the cultural mandate. It is this: Go ye therefore and win people to Christ, but don't just get 'em saved, make them disciples so they can become sons who carry the government into every sphere of society and bring the authority and dominion of the king to the earth. In this present is still our mandate as was given to Adam, bring the garden of God under the control of the king! Come on! [14:28-mark]
Let's review the Great Commission quickly:
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." [Matthew 28:18-20]
Now let's review Luke's parallel to it:
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." [Luke 24:46-49]
This is the second time on this blog we've noticed someone from IHOP-KC distorting the meaning of the Great Commission. Daniel Lim (in a previous post of mine) turned the great commission to mean Christians should perform miracles. Here Lou Engle turns the Great Commission into a dominionist manifesto. Reviewing these passages, I think it would be safe to say that the beginning of Genesis was not what the apostles had in mind when Christ gave the Great Commission. Rather, it was the "repentance and forgiveness of sins" to be "proclaimed in [Christ's] name to all nations," and the discipleship of the nations involved the teaching and baptizing. There is nothing here about bringing people into submission or "bringing the garden of God under the control of the king." In fact, Christ makes it clear in Matthew's account He already has authority over the earth.
Penetrate every sphere of society! Raise up sons and daughters who can bear the weight so they can rule in the universities of America! They can rule in the government of America! God has never given up the world to the devil...the problem is, He ascended to the right hand of the Father to the hill of the Lord, but there in Psalm 24, "But who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? He with clean hands and a pure heart." He's looking for a generation of men and women who can govern themselves, who can get to the top of the hills, like Daniel did in Babylon, and govern through the king, hallelujah! This is our mandate! [15:36-mark]
Let's review Psalm 24.
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.

Who is this King of glory?

The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! [Psalm 24:3-10]
Who is the one who "has clean hands and a pure heart" and will ascend the hill of the LORD and cry out: "Lift up your heads, O gates...that the King of Glory may come in"? Who is this verse talking about? It's talking about Christ! This is a Messianic prophecy about Christ ascending the hill of the LORD in glory. Lou Engle's done it again! For the fourth time since this sermon started, he's taken a passage of scripture about Christ and made it about us! As I said before, this is just blasphemous.

I was going to continue on, but to be perfectly honest, I can't continue this post. Before anyone launches into false accusations, I did listen to it the whole way through, but sitting down to transcript it has proven daunting. Lou Engle's method of sermon leads one to transcribing rambling, and I think we have seen enough to show that this speech given by him is not faithful to the word of God in any way, shape or form. A man who claims to be having supposed dreams and visions from God should, at the very least, use the word of God properly. If he cannot do that, chances are he is not speaking to God at all.