Really?!! Or Are Berglund And Bolz The One’s Deceiving The Church Now?
Note: CS would like to make clear that we like and appreciate Shawn Bolz and only disagree with occasional isolated teachings.
CS Commentary: John Wimber, co-founder of the Vineyard and founder of the Vineyard International popularized many of his teachings of the 1980s’ to 90’s with famous quips: “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K,” “Higher levels, higher devils,” etc.
Though Wimber was not himself a great theologian or Biblical expositor, a little known fact is that much of his early theology came from Dr. Clint Arnold, at the time a New Testament professor at Talbot School of Theology on the Biola University campus, and an expert on the New Testament, and specifically the spiritual warfare theology of the New Testament. Dr. Arnold is today Dean of the theology school.
Here Bolz suggests that the later Wimberism is ridiculous and that as you get to higher levels things get better and easier. Hogwash. And, its not Biblical. As a matter of fact, its a great example of poor Biblical exposition, taking a principle specific to an isolated passage and generalizing the principle when there is lack of evidence that the general principle applies or even exists.
Bolz maintains that because Solomon rose to a higher level and saw peace in his kingdom that this is evidence for the general principle that as you rise to higher levels your experience should be characterized by less conflict, less spiritual warfare, and that things should just get ‘easier.’ Again, hogwash. Hogwash is a technical term meaning “Go wash a hog, because you’ll be doing about as much good as you’re doing with this teaching.” Bolz and Berglund, and Charisma, are actually the ones deceiving the church now.
First, Solomon’s experience was only possible because of David’s warfare. David ascended to the height of King of all of Israel. But did his warfare cease? That is, because he had ascended to his destiny, did he enjoy peace, or did warfare on his person continue? The later. He continued to be responsible to go out to war. When he didn’t he was tempted. When he sinned he paid for it. He continued to fight enemies on every side. So, Solomon’s ‘peace’ – even in the midst of his own sin – was bought or purchased with David’s warfare.
Bolz’ conclusion about Solomon also ignores the larger context of Old Testament history and struggle – Solomon was living on the purchase of centuries of struggle and fighting by Old Testament saints who fought, by faith, to possess the land. Not only David, but Samuel, Joshua, and all the way back to Moses and Abraham.
What Bolz suggests would be similar to suggesting that because the United States is, somewhat, at peace now that this is our right and heritage. No. Our present peace is only possible because of the thousands of men and women throughout history who have shed their blood that we might have the privilege of living in peace. And if we don’t remain vigilant we can lose the peace. President Trump is not exaactly living in peace – at present, in June 2017, at least – because he reached a higher level. The attacks against him and his administration are the most vicious in political history.
Second, Ephesians 6:12 clearly states the nature of our warfare: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Here Ephesians makes no distinction between levels in the Christian walk, that is, it does not imply that warfare ends as you get to higher levels. Further, the levels implied within this verse make it likely that resistance increases as you go to higher levels because there is a definite spiritual hierarchy of authority that is sketched out, first rulers, then powers, etc.
Third, numerous verses make clear that the believer in the New Testament era will experience war and tribulation from birth to death. According to Revelation 1, there is tribulation and perseverance in pursuing the Kingdom of God. According to the Gospels, it is through many tribulations that we will enter the kingdom of God. And in this life, we will have tribulation – but Jesus told us not to worry for He has overcome the world.
Finally, one can argue that Jesus reached the highest spritual plane attainable. What was the result for him? He died. Levels of spiritual warfare are tougher as you ascend. Sin and mistakes are more harshly judged, in general. The enemy has more to gain by taking you out. This is confirmed by Biblical experience from Genesis to Revelation.
Letting Shawn off the hook: Is there an explanation for Shawn’s exposition? Yes.
Jesus regularly practiced a form of Biblical interpretation that was rabbinic in genesis. It was called Pesher. Pesher interpretation takes a Biblical passage and applies its fulfillment to the present day. For example, when Jesus got up at the beginning of his ministry in the Synagogue and quoted Isaiah 61:1 he was practicing Pesher, applying a well known Biblical passage that was thought to be for the distant future to Himself and to the present.
Shawn, a gifted prophet, could be doing something similar. He applies the experience of Solomon to his audience and to the present and suggests that the same experience can occur in this generation. It is a prophetic teaching. Unfortunately, in so doing he carries it too far and implies that this is a general principle or permanent state, which it is not. But, it could be a generally accurate Pesher interpretation of the Old Testament passage – only time will tell.