He, who being often reproved hardens his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy – Proverbs 29:1 (KJV)
Philip Powell (PP) the author of this piece is planning a short ministry tour of UK in May/June 2011, when he had hoped to offer the first of a series of books entitled Whatever Happened to the Assemblies of God. That now seems unlikely so it is being published as a two part series in CETF as a prelude to the book series, God Willing. Preparatory to this an early draft of this article was sent to the AoG-UK and Elim head-quarters and, through the kind service of John Glass, General Superintendent of the Elim Pentecostal Churches (ECC) was forwarded at the suggestion of PP to Colin Dye (CD), senior pastor of Kensington Temple London, UK. CD and PP engaged in extensive email correspondence, which ultimately led to an impasse. During the discussion CD attempted to embargo PP, who refused to accept CD’s restrictive confidentiality insistence. The final email exchanges were as follows:
|PP to CD – 7/02/11 – Dear Colin: I have now carefully read your email to me (Saturday, 5 February 2011 12:22 AM) see below and have cursorily read the attachments thereto. I respond as follows:
CD to PP – 7/02/11
Dear Mr Powell - I have duly noted your decision to refuse the agreement I proposed concerning my response. I have also noted your intention to go ahead and publish your article. I accept your decision as final. Thank you - Colin Dye (Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device).
There was no reply from the AoG-UK Office.
By Philip L. Powell
Coincidentally a large AoG-OZ event called The Influencers scheduled for early 2011 was cancelled in Brisbane on account of the flood in this city where we live. Everyone read about the flood; very few knew about the so-called Influencers or its cancellation. How ironic. We all kid ourselves when we have an inflated sense of our own importance and our own influence. My concern however in writing this relates not merely to this self deception, but rather to the questions of who or what are the movements mentioned in my title influencing? Ashley and Jane Evans (AoG) head up The Influencers “down-under” using T D Jakes, who denies the trinity and Creflo Dollar, who preaches the false messBy Philip L. Powellage of Word of Faith and Faith-Prosperity, which is “another gospel” and “another Jesus” cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4 & Galatians 1:6. In both regards they are living in a fool’s paradise and this is representative of so much in the AoG and Elim denominations of our time.
In May 2010, during my last year’s ministry tour in UK, a concerned British AoG pastor, of many years experience, handed me the first, and at that time the latest, official national AoG magazine ridiculously named “RE” and published in that month. Part of the Resources’ page of the official AoG website (http://www.aog.org.uk/) explains:
RE Magazine (formerly known as ‘Joy’) is the official monthly publication of Assemblies of God. For further information and to order your monthly copy, please click on the following link: www.newlifepublishing.co.uk
By following their recommendation you will arrive at the official New Life Publishing (NLP) website, where we “learn” among other things that this is a “brilliant magazine” that “provides news, articles and interviews to encourage and build-up everyone in Assemblies of God and beyond.” There follows a clever marketing spiel that tells you how to “ensure you never miss an issue” by subscribing for a year (£22.95), two years (£42.95), three years (£60.95). Those in Europe have to pay more and the rest of the world even more.
NLP is the publishing arm of the British Assemblies of God (AoG-UK) and Elim Pentecostal Churches (EPC), also called Elim Foursquare Gospel Alliance - http://www.elim.org.uk/. Together they constitute the main part of the organised section of the Pentecostal denominations of Great Britain.
As I cursorily read some of the text and glanced at the many pictures and graphics of the first edition of “RE” I had the strong suspicion that I was witnessing a precursor to the cadaveric spasm of a one-time godly movement. More than six months later as I am writing this piece (January 9, 2011), following my reading the article by Kate Kent in the December 2010 issue of “RE” about Simon Cowell, I know that the Assemblies of God in Great Britain and Ireland as a “revival movement” is dead. Of that there can be no doubt to any discerning person who is biblically literate and who is aware of Church History.
RE – ROBERT BELL (May 2010) – Style NOT Substance.
A denominational magazine is essentially a window into the soul and psyche of that denomination. Re, by modern standards is a very well produced, nicely illustrated and obviously costly to print (full four colours), magazine. I would estimate that at least 60%, maybe as much as 70%, has more to do with style (graphics etc) than with substance (text). Of course this is the modern trend in the world and is part of the “dumbing-down” of the population. We live in a graphics based society. The AoG has fallen for the ploy that pictorial “appearance” is all-important. I am not saying that this is unimportant, far from it. There is a balance; but when stylistic appeal dominates at the expense of substance, you have a problem. From my observation this print and publication drift from substance to style in AoG circles, started in Australia and has now extended to Great Britain.
However there is an element which makes matters much worse regarding “Re” and it has to do with transparency that borders on issues of honesty, integrity and character which are essential considerations in the promotion of our Christian and Pentecostal message.
Page 68 includes a photograph of Roberts Liardon (RL) and three graphics of his book series God’s Generals: 1) The Roaring Reformers; 2) Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed; 3) Revivalists. It is claimed that there are “over 7 million in print.” Liardon is the recently appointed principal of the Bible College of the London (UK) EPC mega Church – Kensington Temple (KT), pastored by Colin Dye referred to above.
In December 2001, Charisma News Service published a disclosure of RL’s admission to a then “recent short-term homosexual relationship”,3 for which he was disciplined and was allegedly back in the pulpit at his Embassy Christian Center in Irvine, California after a three month absence. Even if that were the full story, which according to the website documented below is not the case, it is NOT acceptable biblically that a serious “short term” immoral sin should incur a mere three month discipline. However it seems that it may not be exactly as Charisma reported as the following quote suggests:
In an email to me dated 20/01/2011 John Glass, General Superintendent of EPC wrote:
Re your draft article..... Elim played no part in the appointment of Roberts Liardon. The appointment was made by Colin Dye to IBIOL [International Bible Institute of London]. IBIOL is not the training centre or bible college for Elim. That is Regents Theological College. IBIOL is based at KT, which as you have rightly pointed out is an Elim church.
In my long correspondence with Colin Dye, which I am quite happy to publish if required, I gained the impression that CD thinks that Roberts Liardon was adequately disciplined for his sin and that he, CD was therefore free to appoint him as principal of IBIOL. Surely he must be referring to a discipline that the Christian public knows nothing about. Why?
The Bible, which is our FINAL authority for church order, is perfectly clear – a leader must be above reproach:
... he must also have a good report from those on the outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the Devil - 1 Timothy 3:7.
Paul is NOT writing about “ministry” i.e. service, but about position i.e. authority. This verse precludes Roberts Liardon, not from ministry but from a leadership position such as that bestowed upon him by Mr Dye. Biblically he is disqualified from Christian Church leadership FOR LIFE. Incidentally the fact that Mr Glass claims that the appointment was made by Colin Dye and not by Elim raises an interesting issue about accountability. We understand that Mr Dye and possibly Mr Liardon operate under so called “apostolic authority” whatever that may mean.
To make my and CWM’s position perfectly clear I draw your attention to an article published by us several years ago when this matter of Mr Liardon’s moral sin was first made public – see Donning the Mask Again – the restoration of the fallen - By Siam Bhayro and Philip Powell - http://www.christian-witness.org/archives/van2003/bilby_restor16.html
I do believe in the restoration of the fallen and I do believe in the Bible standard for leaders. Those who truly repent will want to obey the Bible. As the article linked above points out we at CWM do not rank moral failure a greater sin than false teaching. In our view Roberts Liardon has been guilty of both. Nicholaitanism (false teaching) frequently leads to Balaamism (immoral action) and vice versa.
The EPC would have been “mad” to appoint RL as principal of the “prestigious” Kensington Temple (KT) Bible College with his track record. The AoG must have taken leave of their senses to promote his books, which obviously contain his teaching material. RL is by any standard an opportunist, who has notoriously climbed on the back of those whom he dubs Pentecostal “generals” to establish fame and notoriety for himself. I doubt that his biographies of those whom many of us would consider “Pentecostal Greats” are in fact accurate. But setting that aside and the grandiose claim about RL being a “Church Historian”, how should we view RL and his writings in the light of his moral failure and obvious character traits? Remember what Jesus taught about “wheat and tares” in Matthew chapter 13 cf. “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” (Matthew 7:16).
Do a Google Search on “Roberts Liardon – homosexual”, and research what comes up e.g. follow the links below:
For those who have “eyes to see” there are a number of other signs of the “madness” contained in the first renamed official national AoG magazine, which is a window into the denomination. For example pages 13 and 69-70 relate to Morris Cerullo and Oral Roberts (now deceased), who are (were) the consummate “rip-off” artists of our time. Why are they featured? Then there is the lead article about Emergent Church leader Robert Bell, who among other things denies the authority of the Bible. 6
Did you get that? On page 21 of Re (May 2010) in a beautifully graphically designed double page introduction to the lead article - The Mission – BELL - author Mark Wreyford writes:
Few pastors start out in alternative rock bands, but Rob Bell set out to “repaint the Christian faith” and has broken many moulds in his time.
I wonder what that means. It seems from these words that Mr Robert Bell, when he was in an alternative rock band devised the idea of “re-painting Christianity” and is now systematically going about his task, with the full support of the AoG leaders in UK, and please don’t forget Rob Bell denies the authority of the Bible!!
RE – SIMON COWELL - (December 2010) – Nail in the AoG Coffin
Bad as all of this is, the latest ”RE” magazine (December 2010) is effectively the nail in the AoG-UK coffin. I was alerted to the offending article by a close friend who remains a credential holder with the Assemblies of God, though he is dead against what is happening at “leadership” level. My friend drew my attention to two newspaper reports with the titles - Simon Cowell is like modern-day Jesus, claims church7 and Simon Cowell is just like Jesus.8 Since then I have obtained a word document copy of the actual article, which is written by someone called Kate Kent entitled The Cowell Factor. This woman (I presume by the name that she must be female) writes that she is “learning lessons from the guru of the modern talent show”, which is a statement that should immediately ring alarm bells (no pun intended) in any Christian’s mind. Have we forgotten the instruction of the psalmist or the warning of the apostle of love?
Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is only in the Law of Jehovah; and in His Law he meditates day and night - Psalm 1:1-2 (MKJV).
Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever – 1 John 2:15-17 (MKJV).
The Cowell Factor article highlights a major problem with the rationale and action of so much that is going on within this former godly denomination of which I was once a part, and this constitutes “the writing on the wall” (cf. Daniel 5:25–28) which spells the doom of AoG. Sadly none of the national or international leaders appear able to read the writing and tragically they resent and reject those who can and simply go on their merry way – HEEDLESS!
So what’s wrong with The Cowell Factor and why do I so dogmatically assert that it is in reality the “nail in the AoG coffin”. I talked to a veteran AoG credential holder about the article, on Skype. He and so many like him cannot see the obvious. They have bought the ploy of the author that because our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Simon Cowell are both forthright in their expressions there must be some parallel between them, and we, as followers of Christ, are therefore able to learn some leadership principles from Simon Cowell. Will you please think for a moment about what I have just written? It is the obvious and only conclusion you can logically make from the article and the secular media were not slow to pick up on it. The following is what Kate Kent wrote in part firstly about speaking the truth; secondly about taking risks; thirdly about giving people opportunities; and fourthly about looking at the heart:
So what can we learn from Mr. Cowell? Let’s take a look.... In Matthew 23 Jesus literally let rip on the teachers of the law and the Pharisees, branding them hypocrites ...
For some, his words were upsetting and difficult to swallow (just like Cowell’s), but he spoke truth and doesn’t the truth hurt sometimes.
In the introduction to his classic The Old Cross and the New9 the late A W Tozer (1897-1963)—a prophet of his time—wrote:
ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.10
The same applies to this disturbing article published by AoG in Re. As Christians and especially as Christian leaders we learn nothing from Simon Cowell and everything from Christ. The similarities between Cowell and Christ are “superficial; the differences fundamental.”
Another lesson we can learn from Mr Cowell is that he's not afraid to take risks …. Simon Cowell takes risks, learns from them and grows through the process, and there are numerous stories in the Bible of those who did the same.
If Abraham hadn't taken a risk, he would have never left his homeland to follow God's leading. If Moses hadn't taken a risk he would never have confronted Pharaoh and ordered that the Israelites be set free from captivity. If Elijah hadn't taken a risk he would never have challenged the prophets of Baal to a showdown on Mount Carmel where God showed his power. And the list goes on and on -great people in the Bible and throughout history accomplishing great things because they were willing to take risks.
That simply is NOT true. Each of the Bible characters cited above achieved what they achieved not because they took risks but because they acted under divine instructions. Notice how the author, who is ostensibly drawing a parallel between Jesus and Simon Cowell, makes no reference to Christ taking risks. Her article is a ploy and a humanistic ploy at that. Any “revival movement” that tries to lift their game by appealing to secular characters in this way is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
A final observation we can take from Simon Cowell is his ability to give people opportunities, and none more so than the remarkable Susan Boyle, who auditioned for Britain's Got Talent.
Susan Boyle is a Roman Catholic woman who clearly has great singing ability. Her story and her voice are “tear-jerkers”. The world of music and all who love to listen have been enriched as a result of the fact that she was given an opportunity and if Simon Cowell was behind that chance then I am sure we are all grateful, but in all honesty what has this got to do with the Christian Church and with leadership within that church? Surely there are biblical examples to which it is preferable that we should look for inspiration and guidance rather than to someone who the author herself describes as having the signature phrase,
“I don’t mean to be rude but ...”, which is frequently followed by offensive comments ...
That’s not like the Jesus of the Bible. In fact it’s so totally contrary to His nature, character and conduct as to wipe out all and any similarities there may be between Jesus and Simon Cowell.
Quote 4: Look at the Heart
There are two factors (sic) we can draw from this, the obvious being that we should never judge on appearance alone. God told Samuel (1 Samuel 16:7), “Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart.” And even Susan was heard to say of the crowd, “I knew what they were thinking, but why should it matter what I look like as long as I can sing? It's not a beauty contest.”
But more than not judging by appearances, we should be prepared to give people a break and a new opportunity to achieve something great. Simon Cowell was heavily criticized for allowing Susan Boyle to continue in the competition because of her reported mental state, but he answered his critics by saying, ‘I'm glad I gave Susan the opportunity, and I wouldn't change that because we are helping her live her dreams and we are giving her a shot. We are not setting people up to have a miserable life.’
Here author Kate Kent plays fast and loose with a number of ideas. Only God can “look at the heart”; we can’t. He neither judges by how a person looks nor how well he or she sings; we do. In true Christian service our purpose and aim are not to be great, but to serve.
Whether Kate is accurate in what she attributes to Simon Cowell, I cannot tell. She fails to document what she claims. However it really makes no difference. All of these things, that she highlights, are “superficial” similarities. Between Simon Cowell and the Lord Jesus Christ is a world of difference. They are poles apart and quite frankly, as a Christian of over 60 years standing, I resent the notion that anyone can even try to draw a parallel. That a former godly movement like AoG should give publication space to such a notion is an absolute disgrace.
The AoG of this absurd antichrist Re magazine is definitely NOT the Pentecostal holiness revival movement of my childhood and upbringing, where I ministered in various capacities for more than thirty of my fifty plus years of Christian ministry.
Often I am confronted with the question and statements, “What has this got to do with you? It’s none of your business. You are no longer a part of AoG.” Naturally I have thought many times about these things. Most people do not know my history and testimony so let’s start at the beginning and have a cursory look at my background. I assure you it gives me no joy to write as I do. My early motivation in publishing articles like this was to try to get the AoG leaders to see the direction in which they were heading and to help rescue them from it. More recently it has been with a view to alerting good people to the serious things that are going on within the AoG and to get them to speak up or to get out. I can produce evidence of some success in both aspects.
I was born in Great Britain in the same year that World War II began – 1939. I can remember some of the trauma and the difficulty that all our families faced. How some survived the restrictive rationing imposed by the government is hard to imagine. Living off the land in a farming environment was less difficult for us than for some city-dwellers. Mum and dad, my older sister Ruth and I survived, largely due to the goodness and grace of God, and to the hard work and thrift of our parents. We give thanks to the Lord and to our parents. That was all at the natural level, but what about the spiritual level?
Aged six I surrendered my life to Christ and was soundly saved and baptised into the Holy Spirit aged ten. Being born and bred in a Pentecostal pioneer Assemblies of God pastor’s home in South Wales, I feel a deep sense of sorrow at the spiritual drift into worldliness and sheer stupidity that have occurred in the movement where I was born-again and baptised into the Holy Spirit.
Now aged seventy-two, I have been trying, for some years, to assess what happened to the Assemblies of God that I once knew and why. It certainly is not the same movement that it once was. I have given expressions to some of my thoughts elsewhere,11 and in so doing have largely concentrated on my observations about the Assemblies of God within Australasia (Australia and New Zealand) and Great Britain, where I have served.
My criticism of the denomination where I once had a very active part, both pastorally and at national leadership level, especially in Australia, may not apply universally. As I have asserted previously elsewhere, Italy and India appear to be notable exceptions. They claim to have retained the original message, “repent and believe the Gospel” and method “prayer and reliance on God”. Although I do think that the generational drift is now beginning to show in those countries. They too maybe moving towards a crisis point.
NEXT – More about AoG, Islam and further analysis of Re and John Partington.
1. The UK Assemblies of God - A Different Movement with the same name
2. A Christianised version of the Latin, quem (or quos) Deus perdere vult, dementat prius, which is more frequently rendered, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad”, being a variant spoken by Prometheus, in The Masque of Pandora (1875) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1852) see http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Euripides cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus and http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Henry_Wadsworth_Longfellow
4. Deception In The Church - http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/ditcnews.htm