As we continue with the fourth (updated) article in this ‘Final Countdown’ series, we consider the implications of following a man who claims to hear directly from God. We know that God’s Word is without error, but look at the battle today for the sufficiency of that Word. In the New Testament the early church was warned that false teachers would be found in their own congregations and we have the same problems facing the church today. Questions need to asked – how do we identify them? Is church growth, because of one man’s ‘vision’, a reality despite the lack of sound teaching? Does C3 growth come about because Phil Pringle is only speaking what people want to hear, what appeals to their flesh? Is he truly leading people to Christ through the preaching of sound doctrine or is he eventually leading them along the wide path that leads to destruction?
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
The reality is this – to the ‘visionary’, the ‘vision’ becomes the mission, as opposed to a faithful pastor trusting that through the preaching of sound doctrine, law and gospel, God will build His church as He promised.
As the C3 movement continues to assimilate existing churches around the world, over time we here at CWC began to receive emails from disenfranchised Christians who cannot understand why their more biblical churches were taken over, and now offer instead a watered-down unbiblical prosperity gospel – for example, the recent takeover of City Church, now rebranded as C3 Church Salt Lake City:
“It was truly one of the strangest experiences we have ever had. Because Salt Lake is such a unique place, I can easily see these scam artists coming away very wealthy from the people here. A “healer” named Andrew Kubala will be here next week. We were never this type of church. Pastor (….) is leaving and left the church in financial ruin. Desperate for an injection of funds and because he loves City Church so much, Pastor (….) reached out to C3. I believe it was just a desperate move.”
“My thoughts on how C3 will exploit people in Salt Lake City specifically. The majority of people here are LDS which is a cult in its own rite. As people within the LDS begin to realize the lies that have been sown throughout generations upon generations of their families, it is absolutely devastating beyond words for them. It is psychologically debilitating for them. Many of them claim to become atheist. Generally, they are just hurt and eventually they desire to turn back to God after a very intense mourning period. They feel strapped with guilt as they seek out a new church. C3 is unfortunately right there to convict them as being as guilty as they feel, but for a financial donation, they can plant a seed that begins the process of making things right with God and eliminating that guilt. It’s buying miracles really. It’s simply taking advantage of people who are lost and disillusioned. Those people are a dime a dozen here in Salt Lake City.”
(Editor’s note: Andrew Kubala is the brother-in-law of senior C3 San Diego pastor and C3 Americas Oversight Jurgen Matthesius who was instrumental in the takeover of City Church)
We take a look at the next article and see if Phil Pringle’s ‘vision’ is truly from God, posting a clear warning to those who have aligned themselves with the ‘2020 Vision’, because they believe Phil Pringle has a ‘direct line’ to God, his ‘vision’ now their mission.
The Final Countdown: Part 4.
Phil Pringle says in his book ‘You the Leader’,
“Warren Bennis, as quoted in In Search of Excellence, calls the leader a “social architect.” When a leader is a God-person, a God-seeker, vision is planted deep inside. God often speaks in pictures to God-seekers, especially to leaders. Pictures are the visual language of the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s blueprints for what He wants to build.” – Phil Pringle, You The Leader, 2005, pg 34.
Although as you will see the video is no longer available, we had already transcribed the clip in anticipation that it would be removed.
We offer this in its place. The ‘2020 Vision’ – a mission from God.
“In the beginning, God gives us vision. This vision is to build the church worldwide. Building the church is God’s top priority in this generation. You and I are called to bring people to Christ, to make disciples and to release those people into ministry within our churches and beyond. And by doing this, we will fulfill the heavenly vision.”
VISION BUILDS FAITH
“Vision from God always boosts faith from the inside of your soul. As soon as we hear the magnitude of what God is calling us to do, we find faith rising on the inside that this is possible. Just like Joshua knew he could take the land of Canaan, so we know that we can build the church around the world.”
FAITH BUILDS INTENTION
“Every vision is just a fantasy without a plan. God has given us a strategy and as we follow that pathway, we will find ourselves expanding right around the world. We will raise up thousands of leaders, connect group leaders, worship leaders, assistant leaders, leaders of churches. People who will work to build the house of God and fulfill this dream God has put in our hearts.”
INTENTION BRINGS ACTION
“Faith without action is dead. Just believing that this vision is going to happen wont make it happen. This vision calls for action. It calls for people to step out. It calls for sacrifice. It calls for stretching. It calls for raising ourselves up to a level we’ve never been before. This action has taken us from seventy one churches in the year two thousand to over three hundred today. It’s taken us from five nations to thirty five nations. And today, we have influence in two hundred cities around the world.
ACTION BRINGS MOMENTUM
This momentum turns a small snowball into a massive avalanche. It’s the power of compounding effort. You and I are involved in a gathering momentum of the great power of God.
AND THE MOMENTUM OF GOD IS UNSTOPPABLE
Because of this momentum, we are seeing six hundred people around the globe come to Christ every week in C3 churches. Because of this momentum, we’re seeing nearly thirty thousand come to Christ every year. Because of this momentum, each week seventy five thousand people are gathering to worship God. God in heaven is with us. It’s his mighty plan to build his church on the earth.
Together you and I are going to see this amazing thing come to pass. You are part of the history making group of people that are changing planet earth as we fulfill the 2020 Vision.”
Is Phil Pringle purposely blurring the lines with the Great Commission with his 2020 Vision, to get people to commit themselves to his movement and not to the true commission of Jesus Christ? If the ‘2020 Vision’ was the ‘vision’ that God gave to the church in Matthew 28:16-20 this is perfectly fine. Christ gives us the command to go out into the world and make disciples in His name. But is this what Pringle is reinforcing?
Pringle opens up with the following claim above: “In the beginning, God gives us vision”.
Already we are off to a bad start – where does the bible teach this? He adds his already unbiblical theology to a ‘New Age’ doctrine on vision:
“Vision from God always boosts faith from the inside of your soul. As soon as we hear the magnitude of what God is calling us to do, we find faith rising on the inside that this is possible”.
Where did he get this from? In the video (now unavailable) Pringle alludes to himself being a ‘Joshua’ when he says:
“Just like Joshua knew he could take the land of Canaan, so we know that we can build the church around the world.”
Who gave Joshua the command to “take the land of Canaan”? God. So carrying the thought forward, who gave Pringle the Vision 2020 “strategy” to “build the church around the world” – God. Phil Pringle is now ‘your’ Joshua. This is nothing more than subliminal advertising. While the C3 Media flashes clips of Pringle’s 2020 Vision (“1000 churches”, “500 members”), Pringle claims that “God has given us a strategy”. Wasn’t the biblical Great Commission strategy enough?
Are we are supposed to believe that God has given a ‘mission’ to Pringle that surpasses that of Jesus’ Great Commission? Why can’t C3 simply follow Jesus’ commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”? Has Phil Pringle been seen by some as a Messiah figure? (How could we ignore this ‘exultation’ of Pringle above Christ?)
And what is this God-given strategy? Pringle says that if Christians “follow (the strategy) pathway, we will find ourselves expanding right around the world”. What a claim! Whatever happens, do not question the church’s strategies! By implication, to do so is to challenge not Pringle, not C3 leadership, not C3 church – but God.
Pringle then goes on to purposely twist the scripture in James 2:14-26 to his advantage. He reworded the scripture “faith without works is dead” to “faith without action is dead”. He appears to use this verse to convince his followers to get on board with his ‘2020 Vision’. A godly pastor would not twist the scriptures like this. For Pringle to claim God gave him a divine ‘vision and strategy’ but have the audacity to twist God’s Word like this is satanic. This was scripted, a deliberate tactic to bring people to align themselves with his ‘vision’.
Using Nazi ideals – the Volk:
Apparently God can’t fulfill His vision without your help! You must help God! Pringle says,
“Just believing that this vision is going to happen won’t make it happen. This vision calls for action. It calls for people to step out. It calls for sacrifice. It calls for stretching. It calls for raising ourselves up to a level we’ve never been to before.”
All this ‘vision’ talk is rather reminiscent of German dictator Adolf Hitler (no doubt we will be accused of making a ‘reductio ad hitlerum’). Pringle is elevating and attributing a human ‘power’ or a ‘force’ to God. According to Pringle this “momentum (that) turns a small snowball into a massive avalanche” is the “great power of God”.
No – this is ‘volkism’, a ‘community in unity’, a Nazi philosophy.
In Hitler’s work “Mein Kampf” or “My Struggle”, you can read of some key points as to what the ‘volk’ is and how the ‘volk’ worked. In his book, published in 1923, Hitler quite clearly sets out his political ideals. They can be summarised as follows:
- Mankind’s natural unit is the Volk, or people, of which the German Volk is the greatest.
- The state only exists to serve the Volk, and both morality and truth are to be subservient to this principle.
- The Volk must be headed by a Fuhrer, or leader, who must have absolute authority.
Hitler says about the leader of the Volk,
“In that way an eternal ideal, which has everlasting significance as a guiding star to mankind, must be adapted to the exigencies of human frailty so that its practical effect may not be frustrated at the very outset through those shortcomings which are general to mankind. The exponent of truth must here go hand in hand with him who has a practical knowledge of the soul of the people, so that from the realm of eternal verities and ideals what is suited to the capacities of human nature may be selected and given practical form.”
So are we really seeing a move of God or of Phil Pringle? Are we seeing him behave like a “social architect”, to construct a ‘volk’? Is God really communicating the “language of the Holy Spirit to reveal (His) blueprints for what He wants to build” to Phil Pringle? Or is he playing with people’s ideals to manipulate them to further his agenda?
Jesus Christ said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
What then does Jesus tell us to do?
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
We are seeing the reverse with the ‘2020 Vision’. God giving Phil Pringle ‘the authority in heaven and on earth’ through the ‘2020 Vision’ to draw people and churches into his ‘volk’ (“the great power of God”).
Pringle is not saying the “power of God” is emphasised through the preaching of the gospel which proclaims that Jesus is the power and authority of God personified. Instead Pringle is pushing the idea that the ‘volk’ is truth and power, insisting that you be “part of the history-making group of people that are changing planet earth as we fulfill the 2020 Vision”.
Can you see where the focus is now? Not Christ and His Great Commission. The focus is now on Pringle, his ‘2020 Vision’ and those who align themselves with his movement. Pringle’s ‘battle cry’ is for you to be part of a history-making crew that is changing the world because they are fulfilling the 2020 Vision. So it can be established that Pringle is using clever marketing gimmicks to bring his congregation to align with his ‘führerprinzip’ vision. Is this a man who is growing his own church without God’s Spirit? In reality Pringle is teaching the ‘power of God’ emphasised through the ‘volk’, under his ‘god-given’ vision and ‘god-given’ strategy.
A Demonic Faith:
Does faith comes from hearing, or vision? Pringle says:
VISION BUILDS FAITH
“Vision from God always boosts faith from the inside of your soul. As soon as we hear the magnitude of what God is calling us to do, we find faith rising on the inside that this is possible.”
However, the writer of Hebrews doesn’t tell us to look to visions to build faith. Nor does the writer tell us that “visions from God always boosts faith from the inside of your soul”. Nor does the writer say that “when we hear the magnitude of what God is calling us to do, we find faith rising on the inside that this is possible”. Instead, we read this:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
Whoever gave this vision and teaching to Phil Pringle is not of God. Let us be clear – when Phil Pringle is speaking of the ‘vision’ to his congregation, they are not hearing “the magnitude of what God is calling (them) to do”. They do not have “faith rising on the inside”.
Scripture clearly say this:
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
This vision is nothing but a “weight” which members at C3 should “also lay aside”. Hopefully we have made it clear that this is Pringle’s vision – not God’s. This vision is nothing but a ungodly facade hiding the fact that:
- It is Pringle calling you to action.
- It is Pringle calling you to step out.
- It is Pringle calling you to sacrifice whatever it takes to accomplish his desires.
This is very different to what we see Luke observing in the early church.
” … the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” Acts 2:42-47
As Paul said to the church in Galatia:
“Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” Galations 3:1-6
The answer to “who has bewitched you?” Phil Pringle.
In our upcoming final article we reveal where the ‘2020 Vision’ really came from.
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