03
Dec
09

WALKING IN THE SHADOW OF THE WALK

WALKING IN THE SHADOW OF THE WALK -Stevens was twice defrocked both the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel

FREAKYLINKS

Church of The Living Word.. This movement was informally called “The Walk” and was founded by John Robert Stevens (1919 1983). Stevens was defrocked by both the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the Assemblies of God. Stevens taught the re emergence of Apostles and Prophets. He also taught that God limited Himself totally to the prayers of His people who would accomplish things well beyond the Apostles once they put their minds to it.35 Frangipane, as we have seen, teaches that God is limited in some fashion by our schedules.

Stevens put his new knowledge and prophecies above the Scripture and expected followers to be under both him and his elders for every decision of daily life even to job options, marriage, and so forth.36

Another very troubling teaching of Stevens was the view that he and his followers were the manifestation of the Second Coming of Jesus and, in some sense, he was greater than Christ. Stevens taught that Christ’s return was a “Presence” among Walk followers for signs and wonders. As well, there were conspicuous occultic practices. Stevens took the teaching of “conformed to the image of Christ” to insane extremes. He viewed it as not just becoming more like Christ but the Church becoming Christ!37

Albert Dager refers to Frangipane’s connection to Stevens and the Latter Rain delusions:

“Besides John Robert Stevens and Sam Fife, there were many apostles that came out of the Manifest Sons of God, such as George Warnock, Francis Frangipane, Royal Cronquist, and Bill Britton. Some still survive and are working within other churches to spread their doctrines.”38

To what degree was Frangipane molded and influenced by Stevens and his teaching? How deeply does one get infected or affected by living in a seedbed of extreme Latter Rain heresies for eight years? Did Frangipane emerge from Stevens’ petrie dish unscathed? Are there residual effects?

In fairness, it must be acknowledged that Frangipane left the Living Word organization. An administrative assistant for Frangipane told PFO that “At first, Francis considered John Robert Stevens to simply be an imperfect leader … However, Stevens eventually became a false prophet and … spiritual darkness settled upon this entire organization.”39 However, no specifics were given.

Having said that and listening to the disclaimers of Frangipane in trying to distance himself from Stevens, it must be noted that in some areas of teaching, Frangipane may not have moved far enough away. I once knew people who worked in a tobacco factory. When they arrived home every evening they smelled like tobacco because the odor had permeated their clothes, hair and skin. They left the factory, but some of the factory went with them.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

Stevens’ strange and mystical doctrine of complete identification with Christ, and the extremes of seeing the Church in some sense as a part of the Second Coming may have not completely died in Frangipane’s thinking because there is evidence of a finessed version in his writings. In The Stronghold of God, Frangipane uses Galatians 4:19 (“That Christ may be formed in you”).40 He, in the earlier pages of this book, had already built up baggage. While most Christians and Christian writers have understood Galatians 4:19 in its simplicity as another way of saying what the hymn says, “Be like Jesus, this my song,” Frangipane tries to package in a lot more.

From Revelation 12, Frangipane talks about Christ being “truly birthed in our service to God.”41 Earlier he envisioned an actual incarnation and a merging of the believer into Christ by asserting: “To abide in Him is to live in ceaseless fusion with His passions.”42

It becomes even more troubling as he blurs the line between the Creator and the created. Frangipane writes:

“…even as He and the Father are One, so we become one with Him. … Like the Son’s relationship with the Father, so we do nothing from our own initiative unless it is something we see Him do.”43

The words “even as” mean, in exactly the same way or just like. Do we become one with Christ just like He is one with the Father? Are we truly united to Christ in the same way the members of the Godhead are united? To ask the question is to answer it. The members of the Trinity are ontologically one, something that cannot be said of us. Is Frangipane being imprecise or does he really believe that we become one with Christ “even as He and the Father are One”?

Frangipane muddies the water even more in his statement from his book, The Days of His Presence when he says:

“In the most profound way I understood that only Christ could live like Christ. God’s plan was not to improve me but to remove me so that the Lord Jesus Himself could actually live His life through me (Galatians 2:20).”44

Frangipane carries this on:

“For whatever inhibits the fusion of our lives with Christ will be consumed like chaff in the fire of His Presence. … We will know the fulness of Christ. … He must increase and we must decrease until His Presence fills everything, everywhere, with Himself.”45

Frangipane’s use of the word “fusion,”46 twice cited above, is also troubling. The word means a melting together. When there is a melting together there is also a melding together so that substances are indistinguishable and inseparable. Separate identities are merged by fusion.47 Scrambled eggs would be an example. Is the believer melted together with Christ to the degree that he or she becomes one with Christ “even as He and the Father are One”? Is the believer “fused” as in two “different things into one”? Such a thought is outrageous and shocking. The Trinity will ever remain the Trinity and never become a quartet.

Galatians 4:19 says literally “until you have taken the form of Christ.”48 It has to do with changes in our character and conduct so as to reflect Christ. It is a conformity to the ways of Christ. It is to be like Jesus.

Greek scholar and linguist Kenneth Wuest unpacks the phrase:

“These to whom Paul was writing, were truly saved. The Lord Jesus was resident in their hearts. But there was little of His beauty in their lives. The word again tells us that at one time He was clearly and abundantly evident in their experience. But now He ceased to be seen in the lives of the Galatian Christians. … The passive voice of the verb ‘be formed,’ tells us that the Lord Jesus dwells in the heart of a Christian in a passive way, and thus does not express Himself through the Christian. He has given that ministry over to the Holy Spirit. He said, referring to the Spirit, ‘That One shall glorify Me’ (John 16:14). The Holy Spirit was not being recognized and depended upon by the Galatians. Consequently He was not able to minister the Lord Jesus to and through the Galatians in a full measure.”49

Paul is using an obvious metaphor. He is not literally “laboring in birth” as the verse says, nor are the Galatians becoming Christ, nor is Christ literally being formed in the believer. The birthing metaphor is usually used in a negative way of struggle. Note the word “again” in Galatians 4:19. It is as if Paul is saying do I have to go into labor all over again to birth you (bring you to conversion again) and nurse you into growth so that it might be evident that you belong to Christ?

History is repeating itself here, and in the history of heresy the idea of fusion has taken many forms. From the mystical absorption (into the Godhead) ideas of Madam Guyon (and other mystics), to the polytheistic fusion (little gods) of Word Faith, to the Christological fusion (becoming Christ) of Norman Grubb.50

While we can be one in purpose with God, we can never in any sense be one in nature or essence. Isaiah 40:46 assures us that God is wholly other and totally unlike us in every way. We can share the blessings of God and be Christlike, but never say: “even as He and the Father are One so we become one with Him.” Such thoughts are absurd and unbiblical.

Anyone familiar with the New Testament knows that Jesus is in His glorified body in heaven. Frangipane takes the New Testament description of the Church as the “body of Christ” and pushes it to an extreme. He insists that it is “more than a metaphor” or figurative and concludes:

“Though He is not on earth in His own glorious, eternal body, He is on earth in our bodies. … we transcend the limitations of our fallen humanity and become His body, His bride, His temple, His branches—the very extensions of Himself in the earth!”51

Since we are not literally a bride, a temple or literal branches, how are we to understand the biblical figure of being the “body of Christ”? Know it or not, Frangipane takes a straight Roman Catholic line in the way he views and explains the idea of the Church as the body of Christ. Baker’s Dictionary of Theology expresses the concept quite well and we need to carefully consider its explanation:

“The Church as the Body of Christ. The most prominent theological use of the NT term soma is in relation to the doctrine of the church. The church is called ‘the body of Christ’… Some interpret the phrase ‘body of Christ’ literally. On this view, the church is ‘the extension of the incarnation,’ the ‘larger incarnation of Christ.’ In the main, this is the view of most Catholic writers. To them the term ‘body of Christ’ is more than a metaphor. As once Christ manifested Himself through a human body (i.e., in his incarnate life), so now he manifests himself through his body the church, and especially in its sacraments.”52

The dictionary proceeds to show the difference with evangelical scholars:

“Most evangelical writers tend to interpret the phrase less strictly, in terms of fellowship. As the human body is one but with many members, and as it lives by the co ordination of all its members, so believers, as members of Christ, are also members of one another. On this view, the church is the body of Christ analogically but not by strict equation. Christ is manifested to the world by the lives and service of his people; under his leadership, and with the power of his indwelling Spirit, they do his work and thus manifest him to the world.”53

So the figure of the body is used to teach us: first, the unity and fellowship with other believers in service and ministry; and second, that we are to take our orders and direction from our “Head.” Christ is the “Head” in the sense of leader and commander.

If the metaphor of the branches shows us that we have the life of Christ and the bride metaphor shows us that we have the love of Christ, the body metaphor shows us that we have linkage to all others joined to the Savior. We are linked to them and so should love them and live for them in service and ministry.

If we were in any way the literal or near literal body of Christ, Paul could not refer to our bodies as “vile” (Philippians 3:21) and in need of change. The whole Church exists in bodies that are perishable, dishonorable, natural, earthy, and weak (1 Corinthians 15:42 50). There is no comparison to the resurrected, immortal, glorified body of Jesus. This side of eternity, we will never transcend “the limitations of our fallen humanity,” as Frangipane asserts.

Pastor and author David Kirkwood warns us about pushing metaphors too far:

“We must not forget, however, that every comparison is imperfect, because the two things compared are not usually identical in every respect. A metaphor is defined as a comparison of things basically unlike but having some striking similarities. For this reason, we must be cautious that we do not force a meaning upon a metaphor that God never intended.”54

Frangipane is right when he says:

“Even a true doctrine with an overly exaggerated emphasis can sidetrack us from Christlikeness. … Correct and balanced doctrinal understanding is fundamental to our spiritual well being.”55

NOW YOU SEE HIM, NOW YOU DON’T

John Robert Stevens taught that the increasing Presence of Christ and His glory in the Church constituted the Second Coming of Jesus, and that the world would see in the Church, the glorified Christ long before His actual return.56 Frangipane sounds like a slightly nuanced Stevens when he teaches:

“Yet, before He appears, while He is near but still invisible, that same radiance of glory will be poured out on ‘all flesh’ (Acts 2:17 21). For as He is in power and glory when He appears, so He is beforehand though unseen! And it is this out raying Presence which will grow ever more resplendent in the church prior to His second coming. … The church will be beautified with His glory and filled with His radiance before He physically comes for her! … Many promises given to the church, formerly thought impossible, will be fulfilled by the fulness of Christ in us.”57

This indeed is warmed over John Robert Stevens and very much his “invisible Christ.” It is not only a radical postmillenialism but a post postmillenialism.

A spiritual Second Coming (or phase of the Second Coming) is not a “coming” at all, but a falsely created concept of Kingdom Now thinkers. This cannot even be equated with the rapture (for the dispensationalists) since in the rapture Christ is visible to the Church and in His glorified body.

The doctrine of a secret presence for a few fortunate Charismatic believers is not scriptural, but more at home with groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Frangipane, like Stevens, sees the presence of Christ in the Church intensified in a full, immediate, and dramatic way. What he calls the “Parousia” and a phase of the Second Coming, Frangipane promises is imminent and assures us that the “church of Jesus Christ is about to enter a season of extraordinary manifestations of God’s glory.”58 Lest we forget, The Days of His Presence was first written in 1995. How many years is “about to”? Perhaps it depends on what “about to” means.

This increased presence of Christ, according to Frangipane, resulting from the Parousia, will issue out in great experiences of glory and dramatic miracles of immense proportions. Stevens would have called his Parousia (secretly in the Church) the Second Coming, where Frangipane hints his Parousia could be “a certain phase of the final days.”59 Frangipane further asserts:

“Indeed, to know the Lord will increasingly manifest Himself in His Presence before He physically returns is to hear the whisper of God’s truth as He leads us to the fountain of His glory.”60

source: http://www.pfo.org/francisfrangipane.htm


1 Response to “WALKING IN THE SHADOW OF THE WALK”


  1. December 3, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Hi, this is a comment.
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