If you’re a Christian in the Metro Detroit area and you haven’t heard of Lou Engle’s The Call you’ve either been living under a rock or you go to a church that uses some kind of discernment when endorsing events.
My purpose in writing this article is to give a fuller explanation to those who have asked me why I am wary of The Call and to urge others to use discernment.
So what is The Call – Detroit?
The following is taken from their website:
On November 11–12, 2011, thousands from across America will gather to Ford Field (Home of the Detroit Lions) to fast, pray and cry out to God. We will gather to this city that has become a microcosm of our national crisis—economic collapse, racial tension, and the shedding of innocent blood of our children in the streets and of our unborn.
But the place where they say there is no hope, God has chosen as His staging ground for a great communal healing and His house of prayer for all nations. Therefore, we are calling the nation to a 24-hour solemn assembly, daring to believe that Detroit’s desperation can produce a prayer that can change a nation.
Come and take your place on the wall in Detroit, where we will ask God to send fire on our hearts, to forgive our national guilt and establish justice in our land.
Sounds pretty, stinking exciting!!! LET’S CARPOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!
Whoa… sorry, I got caught up in the excitement of it all. Let’s look a little deeper.
Lou Engle has been doing these events around the world since 2000, and saying the exact same things. Sometimes focussing more on a specific issue depending on the venue, but always the same message. “Cry out to God to heal the nation!” “This city is from where God will launch his national revival if we just want it bad enough!” “No more abortion, or homosexuality.” Everyone gets pumped up emotionally, blasphemes the Spirit of God for a while, and goes home. Neat event right?
^ I guess Detroit isn’t so special after all 😦
My suspicion, and experience from talking to friends, is that for most Christians when they heard about The Call Detroit they experienced some cognitive dissonance. Maybe you’ve felt the same way. On the one hand, you jive with the idea of “turning America back to God!” (more on this later), but on the other hand, you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right about The Call. But, some are going anyway out of a fear of missing out. So what should we do?
Here are just 3 of the issues I have with The Call. But please, as Levar Burton of Reading Rainbow used to say, “you don’t have to take my word for it!” There are more links at the bottom if you would like to do further research.
1.) America is not Israel
The promotional material for The Call talks a lot about turning America back to God. This notion is based on the idea that America is, or was, a Christian nation. The reasoning goes something like this: America was founded on Christian principles, therefore God is constrained to bless us. But if we stop being good, God will remove His hand and our crops will die, or something. I will say this once, America as a nation does NOT have a covenant relationship with God. We are NOT Israel. Do you think God cares about “Christian Values” in people that are not Christians? Any person who trusts in their Christian values to save them is practicing a works-based righteousness. Our good works are worthless! (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10).
If you go you will hear 2 Chronicles 7:14 a lot “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” this was a promise to Israel. However, the principles of this promise do carry over to Christians because we who are Christ’s “are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). The promise is NOT for America as a country. The emphasis for us is on individual Christian repentance. It does not apply to those who are not in Christ. When we take these promises and apply them to our country because “we are a Christian nation” we yoke ourselves unequally to anyone who shares our values, whether they are in the faith or not. The end result is always a forsaking of the gospel and truth for the sake of morality or perceived blessings.
Check out The Fallacy of 2 Chronicles 7:14 for more on this common misapplication of scripture.
2.) Moralism Isn’t Enough
TheCall.com says, “Come and take your place on the wall in Detroit, where we will ask God to send fire on our hearts, to forgive our national guilt and establish justice in our land.”
The trick with the Call is that as Christians we agree with much of what they say. America is certainly sinful. Its a wretched hive of scum and villainy as a certain Jedi Master once said. Abortion is awful. It is murder and it is wicked. We ought all to be grieved by it, and do what we can to stop it. Similarly, the Bible is plain, the practice of homosexuality is a sin. And the wages of sin is
a lack of economic prosperity death (Romans 6:23).
And what if abortion, homosexuality, and violence all ended tomorrow? The promise of the Call says we would have economic blessing, healing to our land, and people would come to Christ. If we saw more blessing, what would that indicate? The presence of physical blessing isn’t necessarily a sign that God thinks we are doing “good enough” morally.
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
So, just as they say, “America are experiencing hard times, so we must repent!” someone could also rightly say, “God has blessed us so much as a nation, we need to repent!” Indeed we do! We must first individually repent of our rebellion toward God, not just the obvious sins, but the radical corruption of our hearts. Place our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection and profess him as Lord of our lives. Then, the fruit will come as God changes us from the inside out. It’s a cart before the horse kind of deal here. People don’t need to be better first, then they will be ready for Christ. It’s just the opposite. We are wholly incapable of being good without Christ.
The people of the nation need the gospel. Not as a, by-the-way-you-should-become-a-christian-too. A mere side-dish to moralism. The preaching of the gospel is God’s plan for turning people to himself.
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 1:21-25
Some will say I am being too critical because The Call wants really wants revival too. But be very careful with those who take the focus off of the cross. Even if the gospel is present somewhere in the message, that doesn’t give them a free pass. If the cross is not at the very center, you are treading on dangerous ground, drifting further and further into error. Why pray all night for something God has already given us a solution for?
They Blaspheme the Holy Spirit
If I had to give only one reason for my lack of support for The Call it is this: I am not going to The Call because Lou Engle and his ilk blaspheme the Holy Spirit of God by repeatedly giving false and self-fulfilling prophecies, claiming the Spirit is doing things which He is not, and preforming blatantly false signs and wonders supposedly by the Spirit’s power. And all the time they lift themselves us, boasting of how God is using them because of their radical spirituality.
John MacArthur, just a couple weeks ago, did a talk on the Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit he names Lou Engle and Mike Bickle by name. I highly recommend it. He seems to look right through all the fog and confusion and point out the simple fact that they dishonor God.
Conclusion – Should You Go?
I’m not, but I plan to watch online.
I don’t particularly care whether you attend or not. EDIT: [I actually do care. If you don’t agree with the premise of the event then you shouldn’t go. You would be giving your implicit support by attending.] But if you do, keep your ears and eyes open. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you listen to what is said.
- Does this exalt God (not just by lip service) or man more?
- Am I seeking an experience?
- What is the context of that verse they just quoted?
- Why do they use so many obscure Old Testament passages?
- IS THIS BIBLICAL?
“For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”(Matt. 24:24-25)
And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray.”
Don’t let me deceive you either. God will not excuse our laziness in discernment, especially when His Holy Spirit, who was sent to lead us into all truth, is sending us warning signs.
Let’s dialogue in the comments. I would be happy to be shown if I have made a mistake.
Links for more Info:
I only touched on the things that I found most disconcerting at the moment. But there is much more to learn. Here’s some info to get your started: Lou Engle is a senior leader at Mike Bickle’s IHOP in Kansas City. Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner, they all fall under the conspicuously conspiratorial-sounding umbrella of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). They share most of the same theology and are gaining influence. If you want more information here’s some keywords. Dominionism, Seven Mountains, Joel’s Army, Bob Jones (the discredited prophet who was mentor to Lou and Mike), Paul Cain.
Local Supporters – If You Believe in Guilt By Association Look These Guys Up.
Watch some of the videos of the local supports. Look these guys up online. Word of Faith preachers (name it and claim it), prosperity gospel preachers, and wannabe apostles. No thanks.
John MacArthur – The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
If you listen to nothing else, listen to this. He talks specifically about Lou Engle and Mike Bickle of IHOP
Lou Engle Calls for War
This seemed a little bit too alarmist for me, but is certainly interesting
Fresh Air on NPR talks about the New Apostolic Reformation. This definitely has a political bent to it but it’s a good summary of the movement that Lou Engle is affiliated with.
Another episode of Fresh Air. Interview with C. Peter Wagner, the founder of the NAR (or was it KFC?). This is just a good example of how whacky some of this stuff gets and it in his own words.
Talk 2 Action The Call Conference Call Transcripts
Talk 2 Action is another group who is worried for political reasons, but they have TONS of information.
Edit 1: fixed some typos and made a small change to the conclusion.