Tag Archives: visions

Pentecostals and Israel

The connection between Pentecostals, Christian Zionism, Judaism and the State of Israel.

Many people do not realize that Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian religion in the world with an estimated 497 million followers world-wide and expected to top 1 billion by 2025.(1) This is according to noted Pentecostal statistician David Barrett as found in http://hirr.hartsem.edu/research/pentecostalism_polomaart1.html, The Spirit Bade Me Go: Pentecostalism and Global Religion by Margaret M. Poloma. The University of Akron. August, 2000 This is a sharp contrast to the 13 million people who call themselves fundamentalists.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed in Israel, who have wanted their share of this Pentecostal growth in their country. They see it as a serious economic contributor and a powerful political alliance.

Pentecostals have inherited and modernized the fundamentalist end-time system that believes a number of prerequisites must occur before the end of the world: the establishment of Israel as a geographical entity with borders very similar to what was outlined in the Bible, the return of the Jews from exile, and Armageddon — a final war between Israel and all its enemies.

Pentecostals and Christian Zionism

Persons of Jewish heritage that support the formation and expansion of Israel on religious grounds are called Zionists. Most media outlets define Christians who align with the Zionist movement as Christian Zionists. The greater Evangelical community, Pentecostals in particular, do not use the term themselves. The majority, if asked directly whether they are Christian Zionists, would not even know what the speaker is talking about and would categorically say no, though the overwhelming majority do fit within the definition. Some Pentecostals may even feel insulted with them being identified this way. Most would simply think they are following what the Bible tells them to do.

The difference between Pentecostalism and fundamentalism.

Pentecostalism has a major doctrinal difference over fundamentalism that is important to understand: it promotes personal involvement rather than being a third party observer.

This may seem trivial, but it has serious ramifications.

The Fundamentalists who previously monopolized the Evangelical perspective on Israel do not believe Christians can personally intervene in the events and circumstances that will ultimately unfold into the end of the world. Their support is done en masse with visible spokespersons such as Hal Lindsey, Bob Jones or John Walvoord.

The role of prophecy, dreams, and prayer for Israel.

Pentecostals understand the future events from a prophetic perspective. Prophetic can mean God speaking directly to a person to complete an objective. The cause does not necessarily need to be rational, predictable or major.

This could be a financial commitment, planting trees, political involvement, volunteering, helping in immigration, all night prayer vigils, fasting, raising specialized cattle, evangelism, etc.

For example, some have heard God call them to help Jews return to the Holy Land. One of the better known Christian organizations, Ebenezer Emergency Fund’s Operation Exodus, was started by a prophetic vision to the South African Steve Lightle.(2) http://www.ebenezer-ef.org/UK/frameset.htm “In 1974 God showed Steve Lightle in a vision that it was His plan for the Jews to return to Israel from Russia, as prophesied in Jeremiah 16:14-16. When Gustav Scheller heard of this vision in 1982 he went to Jerusalem in search of Steve. From that time on they worked together to bring this message to the Church, and to pray together with others, for its fulfilment. During an Intercessory Prayer Conference in Jerusalem in 1991 Gustav heard God say ‘Now you can begin helping my people to go home’ – and this was confirmed by others, including Johannes Facius, international speaker and bible teacher.”

Dreams facilitate some to unusual acts. Like Bruce Balfour, a Canadian affiliated with the pentecostal based Maranatha Evangelistic Association. He believed he was called of God in dreams to plant trees in Lebanon.(3) http://www.christianweek.org/Stories/vol17/no11/story3.html in an email sent to Christian Week, Canada’s National Christian Newspaper, Balfour stated, “Months before I came on this journey, my Master showed me through many dreams that I would be imprisoned for His sake so He could mold and shape me into a vessel of His choosing, to accomplish His purpose here. I did not rejoice over this.” I asked him in a phone- conversation to confirm this, but he refused.

Others feel called to expedite God’s plan for the end. Clyde Lott, a cattle rancher and an ordained National Pentecostal Assemblies of Jesus Christ Minister in the United States, had an epiphany from God to raise red heifers according to Old Testament requirements for the new Temple.(4) http://www.aasfe.org/morrison.html, Believers, breeder await sacred cow. By Kara G. Morrison, Lincoln Journal Star. Lincoln, NE

It can be financial giving. Maoz Israel Ministries — a messianic Jewish ministry in Israel relates on their website about a 9 year old boy, Christian, who believed God had called him to send his $10.00 of birthday money for Israel.(5) http://www.maozisrael.org/site/PageServer?pagename=maoz_partners_say This may not seem like much, but this is a grassroots event that Christians are doing all over the world. One Jewish fundraiser, Yechiel Eckstein, has raised over $250 million dollars from roughly 400,000 Christian donors(6) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/24RABBI.html alone. This market is seen as a veritable gold mine by the Israeli Government.

Some may feel inspired to accelerate armageddon. In 1969, Dennis Michael Rohan, an Australian sheep shearer and Pentecostalist, “acting upon divine instructions”(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Dennis_Rohan attempted to and almost succeeded in burning down the Al-Aksa Mosque situated on the Temple Mount.(8)Kate Miriam Loewenthal. Religion, Culture and Mental Health: Cambridge University Press, 2007. pg. 18. http://books.google.com/books?id=jbhbK-ypBHYC&pg=PA18&lpg=PA18&dq=denis+rohan+israel&source=web&ots=k9_GH8w9mG&sig=DhTPlZ5C2QiNDfd8Es3P7IOE23g&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=7&ct=result

The call to prayer for Israel is big with Pentecostals. Robert Stearns, who grew up in an Assemblies of God Church, the world’s largest pentecostal denomination, helped organize the annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, “instituted with the endorsement of hundreds of Christian leaders from around the world, representing tens of millions of Christians.”(9) http://ew.us.churchinsight.com/Groups/1000002767/Eagles_Wings/DaytoPray/Day_of_Prayer.aspx It is arguably the biggest annual protestant rite held in the world.

The mystic side of Pentecostalism exists as a doctrine that transcends denominations and religious institutions — even parts of the Catholic Church. It is also a physical entity as expressed in Churches like the Assemblies of God in the US, and the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. There are hundreds, if not tens of thousands, independent Pentecostal Churches around the world with little or no denominational affiliation. Jack Hayford, Jimmy Swaggart, T.D. Jakes, and Pat Robertson are leading Pentecostals.

Pentecostal organizations and leaders in Israel.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, one of the largest and few growing denominations in Canada, founded a Church in Jerusalem. It was originally called Jerusalem Christian Assembly, but is now known as the King of King’s Community Jerusalem.(10)http://www.kkcj.org/ The Senior Pastor of King of King’s, Wayne Hilsden, is an ordained Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada minister.

Wayne Hilsden is an important key in the administration of Christian Zionist causes. He describes himself as a pastor, and preacher, and one who, “travels the world sharing with the nations about the restoration of Israel.”(11) http://www.kkcj.org/people/info/wayne-hilsden/ He was also in charge of Aliyah Ministries Network, a logistical centre for other Christian Zionist based Jewish immigration agencies that existed at least until 2001, (12) Jerusalem Post, “On Wings of Faith”, December 14, 2001. By Patricia Golan. There has been no mention in any recent literature that this organization exists today. and a board member for the Ebenezer Emergency Fund — a Christian organization with the expressed aim of helping Jewish people abroad emigrate to Israel.(13) He was a board member in 2007, as listed on Ebenezer’s UK website at that time, along with a photo. It has since been removed and there is no mention that he has continued or discontinued in any documents. The Sector.ca records him in 2011 serving on the Canadian board of Bridges for Peace(14) http://thesector.ca/cyclopedia/charity/9433 a large, well-known Christian organization who “. . . are giving Christians the opportunity to actively express their biblical responsibility before God to be faithful to Israel and the Jewish community.”(15) http://national.bridgesforpeace.com/index.php?page=canada.

The King of King’s Community Jerusalem is the largest evangelical Church in Israel and has the strongest pro-Christian Zionist sentiments as a Church body in Israel. The PAOC was asked by the Israeli Government to come.(16) http://www.visionledd.com/about-visionledd/our-team/ Jim Cantelon was the founder of Jerusalem Christian Assembly and has this bio on his website: “In 1981, at the invitation of the Israeli government, Jim, Kathy and their three children moved to Israel where they helped pioneer the Jerusalem Christian Assembly, now called King of Kings, which is the largest evangelical congregation in Israel.”

The International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, one of the largest and most prominent pro-Israel Christian organization in the world, is a world-wide non-profit Christian group that supports Israel. Stephen Sizer, a researcher and writer on Christian Zionism, described it as a self-regulated entity that “draws its support almost exclusively from charismatic, evangelical and fundamentalist Christians particularly in the USA, Canada and South Africa.”(17) http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/icejmelisende.htm A look at the leadership list substantiates Pentecostal and Charismatic leanings. The present executive director, Jürgen Bühler, is a licensed minister with the German Pentecostal Federation.(18) http://int.icej.org/dr-jürgen-bühler Juha Ketola, the ICEJ’s International Director, has both credentials with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and Finland.(19) http://int.icej.org/rev-juha-ketola-0 The previous executive director was South African born Malcom Hedding. He, along with his Dutch predecessor, Bill van der Hoewen, are also from the Pentecostal/Charismatic realm.(20) Malcolm was the pastor for my Hebrew University Bible study group in 1985. He is from the South African Assemblies of God http://www.uptozion.com/hedding.htm. Bill van der Hoeven’s is based on personally witnessing his public acts of piety, which are consistent within the P/C community. The ICEJ, has an annual Feast of Tabernacles held in Jerusalem, which is attended predominately by Pentecostals and Charismatics.(21) This was my observation from attending the ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles in 1986.

Problems related to Pentecostal fervor.

The problem of Pentecostal prophecy is unpredictability. Mainline Pentecostal Churches are quite conservative on prophetic impulses and inspiration. However, it does suffer from a great amount of denominational and independent fragmentation and these elements can especially lead to concern. For example, it is not out of the question that one of these independent Pentecostal groups or individuals could be prophetically inspired to actively participate or encourage the destruction of the present artifices of the Temple Mount.

On the other hand this prophetic impulse is a financial and political bonanza for the State of Israel, but as the Pentecostal community grows, extreme expressions may become more commonplace.■

For further reading see, The Alliance Between Israel and Evangelicals.

This article was originally published on ScribD, Edocr and WordPress.com websites in 2007. It is republished here with some major changes.

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Thomas Aquinas on the Prophet and “Imaginary Visions”

How to understand Aquinas’ use of imaginarius and imaginarias visiones in the office of prophecy.

The English translation of the Latin Imaginarius is typically imaginary, and imaginarius visiones as imaginary visions. However, this is not satisfactory. The use of the English word imaginary may mislead the reader. To many it means a personal fantasy, a child-like hallucination, an imaginary friend, or something that is totally cognatively disassociated. This is not what Aquinas intended.

Imaginarias visiones routinely occurs in many of Aquinas’ writings, however, this discussion will concentrate on the usage in his Commentary of I Corinthians, Chapter 14:1-4. The actual discussion is based on the Latin as found in Robert Busa’s, S. Thomae Opera. Fromman-Holzboog, 1980. An identical online edition can be found at the Vatican’s website, clerus.org.

Here is one of the better examples of Aquinas’ use of imaginarias:

secundum ergo hos modos prophetiae, dicuntur aliqui diversis modis prophetae. aliquando enim aliquis dicitur propheta, qui habet omnia ista quatuor, scilicet quod videt imaginarias, et habet intelligentiam de eis, et audacter annuntiat aliis, et operatur miracula, * et de hoc dicitur num. xii, 6: si quis fuerit inter vos propheta, etc.. aliquando autem dicitur propheta ille, qui habet solas imaginarias visiones, sed tamen improprie et valde remote aliquando etiam dicitur propheta, qui habet intellectuale lumen ad explanandum etiam visiones imaginarias, sive sibi, sive alteri factas, vel ad expondendum dicta prophetarum, vel scripturas apostolorum.

Now here is an English translation by Fabian Larcher, who is considered one of the leading authorities on Aquinas:

“Therefore, according to these modes of prophecy some are called prophets in various ways. For sometimes one is called a prophet, because he possesses all four, namely, that he sees imaginary visions, and has an understanding of them and he boldly announces to others and he works miracles. Concerning such a one it says in Num. (12:6): “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will appear to him in a dream, or will speak to him by means of a dream.

But sometimes one who has solely imaginary visions is called a prophet, but in an improper sense and very remotely so. Again, one is called a prophet, if he has the intellectual light to explain even imaginary visions made to himself or someone else, or for explaining the sayings of the prophets or the Scriptures of the apostles.”

Fabian left imaginarias visiones untranslated. This anglicization of a Latin word distorts the intention of Aquinas. Larcher demonstrates a real problem. If imaginarias visiones left unchanged does not represent Aquinas intent for the English reader, what alternative is there? This requires some further investigation. A good place to start is consulting an English dictionary.

The traditional definition, as found at Miriam Webster is:

“The act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

The focus on Miriam Webster’s definition is a person’s perception of reality, not what really is true, which goes against the sense Aquinas meant. However, the portion about how the mental image or sense is stimulated is closer to Aquinas’ intent. In Aquinas’ case, he is referring to a deity or an external influence that has planted inside a person a mental image. There is no modern English equivalent that aligns to what Aquinas is attempting to explain, partially due to the fact that most modern readers assign divine or mystic illumination in the realm of legend. A better English word that would reflect Aquinas’ intention would be illumination, which correctly signals an outside influence. However, the modern English word, illumination is the prodigy from the Latin word illuminatio. This is frequently used in Latin literature and has a slightly different nuance than our modern English usage. It just causes more confusion. So illumination cannot be used.

If one searches the internet for a good definition, it is difficult to find. The majority of searches will direct one to readings of Aquinas’ actual texts with no variance in the English translations. They all read imaginary visions.

Teresa of Avila’s, The Interior Castle, has an editorial insert that provides some insight on how to understand it from a later Catholic perspective:

“AN IMAGINARY VISION OR LOCUTION is one where nothing is seen or heard by the senses of seeing or hearing, but where the same impression is received that would be produced upon the imagination by the senses if some real object were perceived by them. For, according to the Scholastics, the Imagination stands half-way between the senses and the intellect, receiving impressions from the former and transmitting them to the latter. This is the reason why imaginary Visions and Locutions are so dangerous that, according to St. Teresa, St. John of the Cross, and other spiritual writers, they should not only never be sought for, but as much as possible shunned and under all circumstances discountenanced. For the Imagination is closely connected with the Memory, so that it is frequently impossible to ascertain whether a Vision, etc., is not perhaps a semi-conscious or unconscious reproduction of scenes witnessed. It is here also that deception, wilful or unwilful, self-deception or deception by a higher agency, is to be feared. Hence the general rule that such Visions or Locutions should only be trusted upon the strongest grounds. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, (Summa theol. IIa IIæ, gu. 175, art. 3 ad q.) the visions of Isaias, St. John in the Apocalypse etc., were Imaginary.”

This definition is far from satisfactory. It does not define the word imagination for the English mind. It assumes the reader understands already its religious significance, which most do not. It also demonstrates a more formative doctrine has developed on the subject centuries later after the time of Aquinas.

The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought has one of the few concise definitions: “an inner picture observed by the mind’s eye” — though it once again does not indicate any role of the supernatural.

Evelyn Underhill described yet another definition in her book, Mysticism:

“. . . Imaginary Vision, as in “interior words,” there is again no sensorial hallucination. The self sees sharply and clearly, it is true : but is perfectly aware that it does so in virtue of its most precious organ – “that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.” Imaginary Vision is the spontaneous and automatic activity of a power which all artists, all imaginative people, possess. So far as the machinery employed in it is concerned, there is little real difference except in degree between Wordsworth’s imaginary vision of the “dancing daffodils” and Suso’s of the dancing angels, who “though they leapt very high in the dance, did so without any lack of gracefulness.” Both are admirable examples of “passive imaginary vision” : though in the first case the visionary is aware that the picture seen is supplied by memory, whilst in the second it arises spontaneously like a dream form the subliminal region, and contains elements which may be attributed to love, belief, and direct intuition of truth.

Such passive imaginary vision-by which I mean spontaneous mental pictures at which the self looks, but in the action of which it does not participate. . .”

Underhill gives some good direction here. However, she is appraising such a definition from a clinical perspective, undervaluing the spiritual or the divine influence in the process. The author may be correct in the final analysis that the imaginary vision is self-derived, but to Aquinas and others it was perceived that this external influence was real. One cannot give meaning to Aquinas without this fact.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas is more detailed in his analysis. He builds a larger framework concerning prophecy based on these key-words. However, once again, the word imagination fails to be properly qualified. It is assumed the reader understands its special semantic place in this teaching, which misses most modern minds.:

“Imaginary visions are produced in the imagination by God or by the angels when a person is either awake or asleep. According to the Gospel, St. Joseph was on several occasions supernaturally instructed in a dream. Although the divine origin of a dream may be difficult to discern, ordinarily when the soul seeks God sincerely, He makes Himself felt either by a feeling of profound peace, or by events that confirm the vision; thus in a dream a sinner may be warned of the urgent necessity of conversion.

Imaginary visions are subject to the illusions of the imagination and of the devil. We have three signs, however, by which to discern whether they are of divine origin: (I) when they cannot be produced or dismissed at will, but come suddenly and last but a short time; (2) when they leave the soul in great peace; (3) when they produce fruits of virtue, a great humility and perseverance in good.

A divine imaginary vision, granted while a person is awake, is almost always accompanied by at least partial ecstasy (for example, the momentary loss of sight) so that the soul may distinguish the interior apparition from external impressions; there is ecstasy also because a soul enraptured and united to God loses contact with external things. No perfect imaginary vision occurs without an intellectual vision, which makes the soul see and penetrate its meaning: for example, the former may concern the sacred humanity of Christ; the second, His divinity.

Imaginary visions should not be desired or asked of God any more than sensible visions; they are in no way necessary to holiness. The perfect spirit of faith and infused contemplation are of superior order and prepare the soul more immediately for divine union.(1)christianperfection.info

It is clear from at least Aquinas’ Commentary on I Corinthians 14 that imaginary vision means a divine source speaking to man inside his mind through a picture narrative. It is a pictorial vision.

How would this then affect the translation noted above on I Corinthians 14 above? A modified Larcher translation should read like this:

“Therefore, according to these modes of prophecy some are called prophets in various ways. For sometimes one is called a prophet, because he possesses all four, namely, that he sees pictorial visions, and has an understanding of them and he boldly announces to others and he works miracles. Concerning such a one it says in Num. (12:6): “If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will appear to him in a dream, or will speak to him by means of a dream.”

But sometimes one who has solely pictorial visions is called a prophet, but in an improper sense and very remotely so. Again, one is called a prophet, if he has the intellectual light to explain even pictorial visions made to himself or someone else, or for explaining the sayings of the prophets or the Scriptures of the apostles.”

This is an important distinction that must be corrected in the English translations of Thomas Aquinas.

Aquinas devoted a significant amount of space for defining prophecy in the book of Corinthians. It clearly demonstrated that it was an important subject for faith and piety during the 13th century.

This is also a reasoned defense for my translation and commentary of Aquinas’ Lectures on I First Corinthians Chapters 13-14.

Aquinas’ work on prophecy is a piece of literature that has withstood the test of time. It remains a more advanced version than what modern Pentecostalism has so far developed.

Further investigation revealed a family of words used by Aquinas on prophecy. This is covered in the following article, Aquinas on Imagination: Part 2.

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