That said, there are serious things to know about this book, and here are the top 3 concerns you need to have about it theologically in no particular order:
(1) Rutz relies heavily in his book on conclusions or assertions from people who claim to be prophets but are documented as false prophets (based on the Bible's criteria for such a thing) and false teachers. Two significant individuals in this regard are Rick Joyner and Erich Reber, who is associated with the "Kingdom Now" movement, an off-shoot of the Five-fold ministry movement, and the Latter Rain Movement. This association in and of itself is, as far as I'm concerned, enough to disqualify this book from even marginal consideration as orthodoxy.
(2) Rutz cannot make up his mind regarding the importance of doctrine. That is to say, when it suits him, he is willing to make sweeping statements about who is and is not following Christ, but when it comes to matters of expressing a systematic view or a biblically-analogous view, Rutz simply passes. Here's a great example from the text:
In a stated act of "self-cleansing" on January 22, 1998, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Grand Inquisitor for the Roman Catholic Church and head of its Congregation fro the Doctrine of the Faith, speaking for the church, said that their archives (4,500 volumes) indicate a death toll of 25 million over the centuries. That's just those killed by the Catholic Church for being heretics. (An likely two-thirds of the original volumes are lost).25The astounding irony of footnote 26, btw, is that Rutz has the audacity to cite Machen's Christianity and Liberalism as a source for this point -- as if Machen would agree with Rutz about any of his other theological points. But to stay on-point here, notice that this is one continuous stream of text -- no ellipses. This is the thesis as Rutz presents it: The church "made" systematic doctrine to combat heresy even though human minds cannot fully explain the issues at stake, but on the other hand doctrine is based on the Bible and anyone who doesn't have "conservative" doctrine is in a "sinkhole" of liberalism. It's complete blather -- you can't make heads or tales of what he means here.
How could the followers of the gentle Savior cause such a death toll? It all started with doctrine. Following the early church's struggles with heresies, finely tuned systems of doctrine were hammered out. Eye-crossing, i-dotting precision was achieved, even in issues like the nature of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and predestination vs. free will, all of which are beyond the ability of men's minds to fully explain.
This battle-hardened theology was bequeathed to succeeding generations of Christians, right down to our parents. Doctrine was a war banner, a flag we waved to flaunt our differences from other denominations. Thus, out most cherished truths became our prime sources of distrust and division instead of unity and love.
Today, however, doctrine is more likely a foundation under our feet or an anchor to keep us from drifting away from the truth. We've learned to unite around the core doctrines we have in common.
Unfortunately, many of the large U.S. and European denominations are dying out because they have abandoned the pretext of conservative doctrine and dove into a sinkhole of liberalism, whose tenets are 180 degree off from the truth.26 Lead astray by their leaders, they have lost touch with the bedrock verities of the Bible. They have followed the perennial pattern of error crashing into the church from the theologians and power players.
25Women's Summit 2000, unpublished 2000 manuscript by Bindu Choudhrie, page 18.
(3) Rutz can't decide whether "church" is necessary or not. His definition of "church" is so nebulous and wide-open that one cannot rightly judge it. For example, he takes the events of the split pulpit at Christian Tabernacle in Houston, TX on 10/20/1996 to say this:
By striking and destroying this symbol of spiritual apartheid, God gave us a peek inside His heart. Tommy (Tenney) tells me it was "a slap in the face for overly tight human control of the church."Well, maybe this is the case, but at the same time, Rutz is adamant that a church be based on a five-fold ministry -- which, for those of you not familiar with such a thing, has a system of church government with apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These two distinct models -- "open" services and church government on one side and 5-fold government on the other -- can't be reconciled, but that doesn't stop Rutz. He just says they are compatible, and the reader is not expected to ask any questions. Apparently, because God said so.
So that's my last two posts on Mega Shift rolled into one readable digest. Gosh: just avoid this book. Read it only if you have to deal with someone who believes that they have finally discovered God's will for the church, and it came from a fellow named James Rutz.
I'll have a few other tidbits later today. If I don't see you, have a nice weekend, and spend the Lord's day in the Lord's house.