Rountable for a Christian
Perspective on Current Events by Rick Joyner
Number 2, 2002
Statement for 2001
On December 3, 2001, twenty-eight Christian leaders with national and international ministries gathered for three days to seek the Lord for clarity and direction concerning the critical issues of our times. This is a statement of the consensus of this meeting that was drafted by Rick Joyner.
On the Authority Of Governments
It is important for Christians to understand the difference between the temporal authority given to civil governments, and the spiritual authority given to the church. The Scriptures teach that all authority is ordained by God (see Romans 13:1-4). However, this does not imply that all of the actions of either are right, or God’s will. The Lord gave authority over the earth to man (see Genesis 1:28). When He placed the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden it was to give man the freedom of choice. To obey, the heart motives can only be determined if there is the freedom to disobey. With the freedom of action there is corresponding responsibility for our actions. Just as the Lord gave a clear warning for the consequences of wrong choices in the Garden, He has made clear in the Scriptures the consequences of making right or wrong decisions to both individuals and to governments.
Though the authority given by God to civil governments is different in nature and purpose from that which He has delegated to His church, Scripture also teaches that they too are judged by God for their actions in relation to both righteousness and justice. Because there are consequences for right and wrong choices, a nation should develop its domestic and foreign policy on a devotion to do what is morally right, and just, if it is to expect the favor or protection of God.
The Authority of Governments to Wage War
Though all wars are regrettable, Romans 13:4 states concerning civil authority, “… it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.” Because the sword was the chief military weapon of the time when this scripture was written, it represents military power. It is therefore the right and the responsibility of governments to use military power to defend their domain, citizens, and property, and to bring wrath upon those who practice evil. We therefore acknowledge that the war against terrorism is a just war.
On National Policies
As spiritual leaders we do not presume the authority to dictate such policies, but offer the following as an opinion, having a biblical right and responsibility to offer such judgments.
Any form of violence, threats, or attempted intimidation of civilian, non-military individuals or organizations, should be considered terrorism. It is right and just that all forms of terrorism be considered evil and criminal. The practice of terrorism by a state, or the willful harboring of terrorist groups or individuals by a state, should be a basis for considering those states rogue, criminal, or illegitimate. It should be the right of all nations to protect themselves against terrorism, and to take whatever steps are necessary to eradicate the power and ability of the people and/or organizations that are responsible for terrorism.
It should be the right of all nations to refuse to negotiate with, or consider the interests of, any people or governments that use terrorism. Governments that cannot control people under their dominion who perpetrate terrorism should be considered powerless to keep agreements made, and are therefore an illegitimate authority. The use of terrorism should be considered either the illegitimacy of a cause, or at present the lack of a legitimate authority to represent that cause.
Though we acknowledge that the present problems which exist between Israel and the Palestinians are complicated, and that there are probably legitimate grievances on both sides, we especially express our grief and grave concern at the continuous terrorist assaults on the Israeli people, and believe that it is both right and just for Israel to be free to use all available means to stop this violence against her people.
We express our appreciation for the wisdom and resolve with which the government of the United States, and her allies, have sought to conduct the present war against terrorism. We encourage all Christians everywhere to pray for the success of this campaign for the sake of all people, and religions. We consider that terrorism in the name of any religion is an affront to all religions, and can do harm to all religious people.
On Religious Freedom
Because true religious faith cannot be forced or imposed, we affirm that religious freedom is a foundation of all true freedom, and should be considered a basic human right. Civil governments that seek to impose any religion on its people are violating the extension of its God given mandate, the basic human rights of its people, as well as hindering the development of the true religious devotion of their people.
History testifies that whenever the two different mandates given to the spiritual and civil authorities are confused, tyranny is the result. This can be done by either spiritual authorities using civil authority to impose its will over people, or civil authorities seeking to impose spiritual mandates over its people. We therefore acknowledge the extraordinary wisdom of the founding fathers of the United States to mandate a clear separation of the church and state.
The separation of church and state was intended to preserve religious freedom, not to be used to eradicate religion from public life. We believe that some of the mandates of the courts of the United States in recent times have eroded both religious freedom as well as the freedom of speech of her religious citizens. The erosion of these freedoms in the United States should be a cause of alarm for all of her citizens, and can be as much of a threat to our liberty and prosperity as a nation as the external threats from terrorism.
Government officials should not be considered theological authorities in judging the characteristics of a religion as good or evil, peaceful or violent, etc. However, we appreciate the actions and policies of our governments to protect its citizens of other religious persuasions, including Islam, from harassment or discrimination. We also believe that this should be the policy and behavior of all Christians toward their neighbors, employees, or co-workers who are of other faiths.
We are nevertheless alarmed by the increasing discrimination against Christians in the United States, and that Christianity remains the most persecuted religion on earth. Democracy, free enterprise, and our system of justice, that are the basis of our strength and prosperity, were born directly out of the influence of the Judeo-Christian principles of faith, and morality. Every present government under which there is both freedom and prosperity is rooted in these Judeo-Christians principles. We believe that the severance from these roots that many now seek will ultimately result in severing the source and life of democracy, free enterprise, and all of the freedoms that we now so cherish.
On Christian Responsibilities In War
It is our conviction that the war against terrorism is in its initial stages. It is likely to be a long, difficult, and costly war. The potential for many casualties is great. Even so, we concur that it is a legitimate war for all responsible nations to wage. If this war is not fought and won decisively, so that terrorism is no longer considered a viable means for affecting political policy anywhere in the world, the dangers and casualties from terrorism are likely to rise exponentially with the increasing availability of technology and weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.
We therefore encourage Christians everywhere to exercise the authority that they have been given through intercessory prayer as one of their highest priorities. As we are told in Psalm 115:16, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S; but the earth He has given to the children of men.” The Lord knows what we need of before we ask, but because He has delegated authority over the earth to men, He will not move upon the earth until we ask Him. We therefore believe that it is our Christian responsibility to pray for the protection of cities, regions, and nations, as well as for the success of righteousness and justice in every conflict. In this war on terrorism the evil has been made abundantly clear, and we should pray for the success of our armed forces, law enforcement, and all other forces waging this conflict.
We must pray that our national leaders or citizens, not be lulled back to sleep by seemingly easy victories in the beginning of this war. Christian leaders should help their people to convert to a “wartime mentality.” A “wartime mentality” requires the willingness to make sacrifices for a righteous cause, and the redirection of resources from luxuries and comfort to war materials.
Likewise, churches and ministries should redirect their resources to the strengthening of their people in the faith, and the mobilizing, equipping, training, and deploying of effective spiritual forces that are well supported. We especially encourage the direction of substantial resources to the support of intercessory prayer ministries, and missions.
Christians should feel free as citizens to join the armed forces and fight under the mantle of civil authority given to governments by God. However, this should be done as citizens who are Christians, and not as “Christian soldiers.” The weapons of Christianity “are not carnal,” which means they are not physical weapons, but are the divinely powerful weapons of prayer, truth, love, peace, patience, etc. (see II Corinthians 10:4-6). These spiritual weapons are given to change men’s hearts, and save their souls, not kill their bodies. The victory of Christianity is the salvation of the souls of our enemies, not their destruction.
Even so, there should be no restraint upon Christians who feel called, or want to serve their countries in the military, or by holding positions in the government. Though the upholding of truth, righteousness, and justice is always appropriate, while serving in a position of the civil government it should be understood that the God given mandate is to use the sword or military power to bring justice. Those who choose to serve in the military in this way should do so with devotion to excellence and effectiveness in the use of the weapons that they are entrusted with, as this too is serving the Lord under the mandate of the authority that He has delegated to governments.
Clausewitz defined war as the attempt of one nation to exert its political will over another nation. Though this may have been true during the Napoleonic wars in which Clausewitz fought, many present wars are the attempt of one nation to exert its economic or religious will over another nation. We therefore acknowledge that there are no biblical teachings that encourage or allow for the imposing of the Christian faith upon others by force or by civil law, and that any attempts to do this are in error and conflict with the biblical teachings. As II Corinthians 3:17 states, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” The freedom to believe or not to believe is essential for true faith. Coercion of any kind will not lead to true faith, but true faith is the result of the free examination, and understanding of and agreement with the truth. Our goal should therefore always be to preserve the religious freedom of all.
As Christians we acknowledge and are sorry for the wrongs that have been done to many in the name of Christ by those who have misunderstood the teachings of Christ, especially those who have sought to impose Christianity on others by force or coercion. We are especially sorry for the way this was done to both Moslems and Jews by misguided Christians in history, or in our own times. This is not to imply that there were not also many atrocities committed against Christians by other religions in history, as well as presently. Even so, these do not justify the wrongs that have been done by misguided Christians in the name of Christ.
War may be necessary for a time, but lasting peace with truth is always a worthy goal. Though we acknowledge our profound disagreements with the teachings and practices of many religions, the mandate upon Christians is to love the Lord, and to love our neighbors, which includes those of other faiths. We believe that this is an especially important time for Christians to extend love, comfort, and hospitality to their Moslem neighbors. This should be done without imposing or forcing our faith on them, though we should always be ready to share the reason for the hope that is within us.
Just as there are now many faces to Christianity, there are also many faces of Islam. It is wrong, and a significant deception to judge any religion or people group by its most extreme elements. There are many of the Islamic faith that are peaceful, tolerant, and generous toward those of other faiths. Even so, because there are teachings in the Koran that encourage the imposing of the Islamic religion on others by the use of force, and that the killing of both Christians and Jews specifically, as well as others who do not submit to Islam, is encouraged, we believe that it is not accurate to refer to Islam as “a peaceful religion.” We also believe the doctrine that teaches if anyone who converts from the Islamic faith to any other religion is to be killed should be considered terrorism in a basic form.
It should also be understood by Christians that the “Allah” worshiped by Islam is not the God of the Old or New Testaments, and that the basic teachings of the Koran are in fundamental conflict with the teachings of The New Testament.
Though we as Christians must never compromise our convictions, we are exhorted in Hebrews 12:14 to “Pursue peace with all people….” Even when we profoundly disagree with principles of faith of other religions, we believe that our disagreements should always be done with the utmost respect for the people of other faiths.
A basic contrast between Islam and Christianity is the difference between trying to change people’s behavior by force, or by changing behavior by changing a person’s heart. As the historian Will Durant wrote, “Caesar sought to change men by changing institutions. Jesus sought to change institutions by changing men.” This is why temporal authority was not given to the church. The goal of Christianity is not just to get men to do what is right and just, but to do what is right and just because doing righteousness and justice is in their heart. That is why the real weapons of Christianity are spiritual, focusing on the heart, and not seeking to impose itself through force.
Christians must not be duped into believing that all religions serve the one true God, or lead to the one true God. Our God is “a jealous God,” and will not be worshiped with other gods. We must not confuse loving our neighbors with having to be apologetic for our convictions of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, or the truth that the cross of Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s salvation. If we truly love someone we will not withhold from them the most important truth, even though this must always be done with the grace and dignity that the gospel deserves, and not with coercion.
We understand the offense that America has been, especially to Islam, for having “In God We Trust” as a motto, while exporting spiritual, moral, and sexual perversion throughout the earth in our movies, television, books, and other aspects of modern American culture. This is an indictment that American Christianity is a salt that has lost its savor, and a light that has become increasingly dim. For this, a profound repentance by the American church is overdue.
We acknowledge that the church in the West has not been a good example of moral strength and integrity in recent times. For this we are deeply sorry, and apologize to those of the Islamic faith, as well as any others who so grieve over the moral perversion and corruption of our times. We Christians must humble ourselves before the Lord and beg for His forgiveness for our own sins, and the tragic erosion of morality that we have allowed to happen in our times. We encourage all Christian leaders to reexamine, teach, and uphold, the clear mandates of Scripture on morality, fidelity, and integrity.
On Moral Terrorism
The increasing infidelity in marriage, addiction to pornography, and meltdown of integrity and honor, is an erosion of the moral fabric of the West, and is as much a threat as Islamic extremism. It is the responsibility of every Christian leader to stand resolutely against these forces of evil, and to warn of the consequences of such behavior, which we are told in Galatians 5:21 is that “…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Though all forms of immorality and unrighteousness are sins against God, Scripture states that homosexuality is not only a sin, but is “an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22, see Romans 1:22-32). This sin against the very nature of our creation is what led to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and its promotion can jeopardize the favor of God upon any nation, and bring His judgment. As one Christian leader said, “If the Lord does not judge America for our immorality He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”
Homosexual activists that have demanded tolerance and acceptance have now become the most intolerant and threatening to anyone who opposes their agenda. The homosexual community not only demands to not have morality imposed on them, but now demand the right to impose their immorality on others. This is being done in ways from saturating public school curriculums and constantly bombarding the public through the media and entertainment industry with their propaganda, to seeking the passage of laws that would deny the right of free speech for those who are committed to family values and biblical morality.
We understand that this moral conflict is heating up to the point where the backlash can seriously threaten the peace of our nation. For this reason we believe it is crucial for all Christians to understand that it is also a basic biblical truth that our God loves all men and desires for them to be saved, and it is a Christian responsibility for us to do the same. Attacks, or acts of terrorism against any people group, including those against homosexuals, is also sin, and a violation of basic Christian principles.
Though it is the responsibility of all Christian leaders to stand up and resist the moral and political tyranny of the rising homosexual terrorism, we must resist falling to the anger, hatred, and other such evils that are a corruption of our own heart as we stand against this onslaught against the morality of our nation. It is a basic Christian mandate to “overcome evil with good.” We must therefore be willing to extend the love and forgiveness that was extended to us at the cross, treat our homosexual neighbors with respect and dignity, and even help protect them from the violence and terrorism that they have so often been subject to.
Even so, we must do this without compromising our convictions and the clear definitions of sin and immorality in Scripture. We do this in respect for our Creator who is offended by these things, as well as for the sake of those who are trapped in the bondage of sin. Though Scripture teaches that the Lord prefers mercy over judgment, and that He gives time to repent, we believe that if the moral meltdown in the West continues we will suffer the tragic consequences of God’s judgment. This moral meltdown includes both heterosexual and homosexual sin.
Other Great Issues of Our Times
As Christian citizens of Western nations we should continually offer thanksgiving for living in nations that have been blessed with the basic freedoms and prosperity that we enjoy. This is the result of favor from God that we must not take for granted. It is also right that we see and address the problems and failures that will inevitably result in a loss of our freedom and prosperity if they are not addressed and corrected.
One of the most important things that we can do to insure our own longevity is, as we are told in Ephesians 6:2-3, “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” The generation that is now passing away has been called “the greatest generation,” and we believe in many ways that they well deserve that title. After suffering through the Depression that generation then made immeasurable sacrifices to defeat both fascism and communism. For this reason it is therefore imperative that the church teach and exhibit the honoring of our elders. We should honor them by listening to their wisdom, as well as giving a high priority to insuring that their last years can be their best years in as much dignity and comfort as possible.
While giving the attention to our elders that they deserve, we should also give the highest priority to serving and equipping the emerging generation so that they can go through life with such vision and purpose that they are not even tempted by all the traps that the enemy has set for them in these times.
The tragedies of Columbine and other schools illuminate some basic issues and failures that must be addressed or we believe more of these terrible events will certainly follow. However, we are deeply concerned that many thousands of our inner city youth are killed each year, and that violence, drug abuse, and immorality are destroying so many of our youth, with hardly a footnote from the media, and little expressed interest from the church.
Ministries that have an anointing to mobilize, equip, train, and release youth into their destiny with a clear vision of their purpose should be given a high priority in all of our strategic planning, especially those that are reaching out to minorities and inner cities. It should also be noted that at this time few of the great Christian campus ministries are located on predominately black universities or colleges in America.
One of the reasons for the moral and ethical slide experienced by the church in much of the West has been the failure of the present leadership of the church to fulfill the Ephesians Four mandate that the ministry of the church is given to the church “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:12-16 NKJV).
There is evidence that less than 10 percent of Christians even know their callings, or ministries, and far less are being equipped and released to function in them. Not only is it impossible to grow up to the measure of the stature of Christ that the church is called to here, but it is not possible for the body to be built up by “the effective working by which every part does its share” if the members of the body do not even know their part.
It is improbable that any body could survive with less than 10 percent of its organs functioning, yet this the present state of the body of Christ. We believe that this is a primary reason for much of the discouragement, frustration, and backsliding of Christians today, a root cause of many church splits, as well as the relative paralysis and ineffectiveness of the church today.
The assertions that the modern church is more like a spectator sport where the many gather to applaud the few who perform, or like a giant sheep pen where food is thrown at the sheep a couple of times a week, are not inaccurate with but a few exceptions. It is imperative that this change if the church is going to be relevant to our times. This failure to equip the believers to do the work of the ministry is certainly one of the primary reasons for the exceptionally high rate of burnout in the modern pastoral ministry because of the need to do all of the things that the people should be equipped to do. To rectify this problem we encourage all Christian leaders to focus more of their time, attention, and efforts to equipping those entrusted to their oversight and discipleship than they do to performing ministry themselves.
Until every member of our congregations is functioning in their ministry we have not done our job, and will not be free to grow to the spiritual stature ourselves that we have been called to. The most powerful force for the gospel is an encouraged church. There are few things more encouraging for any Christian than to be used by God.
We also encourage all Christians to study and understand the purpose of Israel in our times, which is a major focal point for the conflict now being waged in the present war on terror. We also encourage the study and understanding of the purpose of God for the descendants of Ishmael, who were also promised to be blessed by God for the sake of their father Abraham. As we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, this includes peace for both Jewish and Arab peoples.
We also encourage all Christians to continue to stand for the preciousness of all life given by God, especially as this is being challenged through the modern holocaust of abortion, that we consider to be one of the most tragic, cruel, and unjust assaults against the helpless in our times.
This statement is not intended to address all of the important issues of our times, but those we felt were immediately crucial, and had time to discuss in this roundtable meeting. It should also be understood that all of those attending may not be in total agreement with this statement in its entirety, and that this roundtable does not presume to represent the views of the entire body of Christ. Those who attended this roundtable included: Che Ahn, Larry Alberts, Rory Alec, Wellington Boone, Jim Bakker, Lori Bakker, Paul Cain, Mahesh Chavda, Jack Deere, Dick Eastman, Dudley Hall, John Hamrick, Jane Hansen, Garland Hunt, Larry Jackson, Harry Jackson, Jim Jackson, Rick Joyner, Bob Mumford, Ricky Skaggs, Stephen Strang, Steve Thompson, Larry Tomczak, Bob Weiner, Reggie White, and Paul Zink.
Note the words BODY OF CHRIST that is the whole fucking Church folks. They definitely want to be in charge !!