|The Challenge of Independent Christianity, part 4|
|Written by Sherry|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2007 18:19|
Posted for Sherry Weddell:
Part 1 is here; part 2 is here; part 3 is here.
Just a reminder for my readers:
NONE of the staff or teachers of the Catherine of Siena Institute have ever been or are part of the “Independent Christian” movement! Nor have any of our posters on ID ever been part of it (as far as I know).
I am writing about this movement as a journalist, not an apologist. I am describing the second largest, fastest growing, and most missionary-minded Christian community in the world today because we have to recognize their existence in order to deal with them.
As a journalist, my job is to try to help you grasp the nature and significance of the movement. Since Independent Christianity is complicated to describe, I will spend most of my time describing and secondarily exploring some of the implications for the Catholic Church. I will not be spending my time in a detailed analysis and rebuttal of their many theological problems, not because I agree with their stance but because it would require another 20,000 words to do so and this is long enough as it is!
The pace accelerated in the 90s. A complex series of planned initiatives and spontaneous spiritual movements all fueled the global emergence of the Independent Christianity. In July 1989, more than 4,300 participants from 173 countries gathered at the Second International Congress on World Evangelization in Manila (Lausanne II). It was at that meeting that the “AD 2000 & Beyond Movement” was born. The movement sought to “encourage cooperation among existing churches, movements, and entities to work together toward the vision of a church for every people and the gospel for every person by the year 2000” ( www.ad2000.org/histover.htm).
AD 2000 focused its energies on what was called the “10/40 window”. The 10/40 window comprises that part of the world extending from 10 to 40 degrees north of the equator, stretching from North Africa to China. This area contains the largest population of non-Christians in the world, and 82% of the poorest of the poor live there.
Also emerging from Lausanne II was the concept of a network of intercessors dedicated to what is termed “strategic-level spiritual warfare”. Independent Christians take Ephesians 6:12 very seriously: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world..." They believe that dealing through prayer with the spiritual obstacles to wide-spread awakening is an essential part of preaching the Gospel.
The result was “Praying Through the Window”, the largest movement of coordinated intercessory prayer in history. Starting in 1993, Peter Wagner headed up four massive global campaigns of strategically focused prayer for the peoples and places of the 10/40 window. Tens of millions of Christians took part through prayer, and tens of thousands made “prayer journeys” to the most un-evangelized cities and communities on earth. After each campaign, any reported impact would be gathered and published.
Participants strongly believed that that such “spiritual warfare” would be the catalyst of a changed spiritual atmosphere and, therefore, of a remarkable increase in miracles and a remarkable expansion of Christianity. Stories of the conversion of whole families and villages, miraculous healings, deliverance from demonic spirits, prophecies and visions--even the raising of the dead--have poured out of the 10/40 window in the past 15 years becoming almost commonplace in Independent Christianity circles.
The heavy rain in the monsoon period drives many snakes out of their territories and into the villages. That leads to many snake bites, and only lucky people can be treated in time. Mohit was in the forest with his herd when he was bitten by a snake. He managed to make it back to his village and tell people what had happened, then lost consciousness. Neither the snake-charmers nor the village healer could do anything to help him. One of his neighbours asked a follower of Christ to pray for Mohit; 25 minutes later, he regained consciousness. Many people became open for the gospel through this miracle. (DAWN Friday Fax 2005, #32, www.jesus.org.uk/dawn/2005/dawn32.html)
By 1993, Peter Wagner felt that he was seeing a new pattern in church growth. He had been studying three major church growth movements in Africa, China, and Latin America. He put his observations of these groups together with his studies of Independent charismatic churches, which had been the fastest growing congregations in the US. Wagner came to the conclusion that “a pattern of divine blessing today on certain identifiable groups of churches is discernible” (The New Apostolic Churches, p. 17)
In January of 1995, the Global Consultation on World Evangelization brought together some 4000 Christian leaders from 186 countries. South Korea was chosen to host the event because it contains some of the largest and most mission-minded churches in the world. More than 70% of GCOWE 95 funding came from Africa, Asia and Latin America. With this conference, the two-thirds world demonstrated its full partnership, if not primary initiative, in the cause of world evangelization.
Continued in part 5, here.