God hates visionary dreaming…

As C3 San Diego gathers all the C3 leaders from around the globe for their Presence Conference Americas,  we alert our readers to their founder and keynote speaker, the ‘visionary’ Phil Pringle and we remind you of the following review:

 “If you’ve ever sat under a pastor who claims he casts vision (nowhere found in the bible) you have been deceived.” Chris Rosebrough (Link)

With ‘visionary leadership’ now the way of church growth, rather than humble shepherding of the Lord’s flock as He builds the church, we ask the question – will those leaders gathered in San Diego continue to propagate the unbiblical ‘visionary’ practices of Phil Pringle to the next generation of upcoming C3 leaders?

“Vision casting is not a biblical practice. Instead, it is a dangerous practice that by necessity turns a pastor into a false prophet the result of which will lead a congregation away from Jesus Christ’s mission and vision for the church.” Chis Rosebrough (Link)

Or will those gathered in San Diego this week unite together knowing ‘the pastor’s first call is not to envision a church but to receive one? Will they ‘lead by discerning how Christ is forming a community and by being one of the first to accept that fellowship with gratitude’?

“The pastor is not an entrepreneur. We are called to a project already underway. . . .”

There’s no doubt that what we are seeing today, with the almost countless claims by these leaders that God is giving them further ‘revelations’ through dreams, visions, and prophecies – they are all simply false and misleading. We are yet to see Phil Pringle repent of his many false prophecies, so we ask – why do those who follow him believe his movement is ‘blessed’ by God? Why the claims of ‘glory’ glory’ glory’, why the claims of ‘a tangible presence of God being manifested’ at their conferences? Have they no fear? Or is it simply ‘a strong delusion’.

God’s Word has much to say about the ‘visionary dreamers’ we see today, leading His sheep astray:

I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:28 -32

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 13:1-3

“So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your fortune-tellers, or your sorcerers, who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’” Jeremiah 27:9

“Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity to restore your fortunes but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.” Lamentations 2:14

“For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.” Ecclesiastes 5:7

“For the household gods utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies; they tell false dreams and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for lack of a shepherd.” Zechariah 10:2

“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” Colossians 2:18-19

 “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ”….”Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.” Jude 1:4 & 8

Gene Veith is a writer and a retired literature professor.  He is Provost Emeritus at Patrick Henry College, where he also served as Professor of Literature and Interim President.  He is currently the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary at Ft. Wayne, Indiana.  He previously served as Culture Editor of WORLD MAGAZINE and Professor of English and Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Concordia University Wisconsin. He is the author of over 25 books on the topics of Christianity & culture, literature, the arts, classical education, vocation, and theology.

Introducing the following excellent article Gene Veith writes:

You’ve got to read Chase Replogle’s article in Christianity Today entitled Bonhoeffer Convinced Me to Abandon My Dream.  He tells about “leadership” classes in seminary, encouraging him to develop his “vision” for ministry.  He came up with a vision for the ideal church that he wanted to build some day.  But after his seminary, his attempts to fulfill that vision kept failing.

His dream was to build a relevant, contextualized megachurch.  “We would meet in some industrial space with lots of wood beams, single-origin coffee, and a massive rear projector at the back of the stage.” But he ended up as the pastor of a tiny congregation that met in his basement.

Discouraged, he tried to find other options.  “I wanted to go somewhere adventurous. I wanted to build something great. I wanted to achieve something impactful for the kingdom. ”

Then he happened upon Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book on Christian community, written on the occasion of the Nazis closing down his seminary.  It’s entitled Life Together.

Whatever my reason for starting the book, I was entirely unprepared for four words on page 27: “God hates visionary dreaming.” (emphasis added by CWC)

Bonhoeffer continued,

It makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.

Bonhoeffer seems to be applying Luther’s critique of the self-aggrandizing “theology of glory” as opposed to the “theology of the cross.”  But what is the solution?  Rev. Replogle kept reading:

 Thankfully, Bonhoeffer offered a better way: gratitude. “Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship … we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients.”

The pastor’s first call is not to envision a church but to receive one. We lead by discerning how Christ is forming a community and by being one of the first to accept that fellowship with gratitude. The pastor is not an entrepreneur. We are called to a project already underway. . . .

The starkness of Bonhoeffer’s warning opened my eyes to this new kind of pastoral vision. It forced me to finally see the congregation already in front of me. . . .

Bonhoeffer convinced me to abandon dreaming. A church is never abstract. A congregation is never a demographic goal or an imaginary gathering. We are not called to a possibility, but to God’s work at a specific moment, in this place, with these people.

God is building his church; our gratitude comes from the joy of being in on it. The weight of forming and building a church is more than we can bear—the stories of pastors crushed beneath the work they’ve constructed are endless—but being called to a work God has initiated is a wonderful grace. Pastoral ministry is a gift, not an achievement.

[Read the whole article. . . ]

Furthermore, I would argue that this distinction between fulfilling one’s dreams and gratefully receiving God’s gift applies to all vocations!  

How does this principle apply to marriage, parenting, work, and citizenship?

Source: Gene Veith, ‘Cranach -The Blog of Veith’,https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2019/08/god-hates-visionary-dreaming/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=share_bar&fbclid=IwAR2RPGcd7WSmf0zi146O03icP44lsewFf5SIVkILiNfoNpLs1zRMyh6QoqI#mBcIUmL8sJHd3X9S.01, Published Aug 7, 2019. (Accessed Aug 8, 2019.)

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