Last week during the 2012 General Assembly, I wrote a response to many of the comments I received from intercessors and participants at the PC (USA) General Assembly. They commented on their sense of the presence of evil and spiritual oppression at the General Assembly in Pittsburgh.
I reported that it was the 2001 General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, during which the leaders of the denomination were unable to affirm unequivocally the singular saving Lordship of Jesus Christ. Rather, after more than 3 hours of debate the proposal was made and approved to send the question to a committee for further study.
Some people, particularly newcomers to the national scene, have asked: “How is it possible that this one act of faithlessness could open the door to invite evil power into the denomination?” Remember that officially the church still affirms the Lordship of Jesus. Indeed, even in the reports of that General Assembly, people on both sides of the debate openly affirmed their faith in the Lord Jesus.
First, we need to be reminded that the history of faithless Christian confession in this denomination stretches back at least 90 years to the days of J. Gresham Machen when General Assemblies refused to establish essential tenets of the faith. Not insisting that teaching and ruling elders must hold to a certain, basic standard of belief amounted to the refusal to confess the faith once entrusted to the saints. Every such refusal, every such rebellion against the Lordship of Christ, over the years, has accumulated to push the door wide open to Satan who loves to take advantage of human sin. I cite the 2001 Assembly because it was particularly egregious in its apostasy, and because its result is easily traced to other failures to confess the Truth over the years.
Here I need to say more about how the devil seeks to wreak havoc in the Church and in individual Christian lives. Yes, the 2002 General Assembly salvaged something of a Biblical affirmation of the Lord Jesus as a corrective to the failures of the Peace-Making Conference and the 2001 Assembly. However, the damage was done. The devil is opportunistic—he does not play fair. He does not take all things into consideration. He is constantly looking for ways into individual human hearts, to build the apostasies of individuals into corporate anti-Christian teachings which, in time, can be built into strongholds in our congregations, organizations and judicatories at all levels for the express purpose of blocking the Gospel’s advance.
We may use the example of an individual to understand how Satan can open doors into an organization like a denomination. For instance I have in the name of Jesus Christ cast demons out of people who became demonized by playing with ouija boards as children. That would seem innocent enough, yet the devil loves to seize on such opportunities to find entry ways into people. Though many would dispute that ouija boards can tap into the occult, the Bible speaks clearly against seeking advice from spirits. Without renouncing and asking forgiveness from Jesus for this satanic contact, the demonic influence thus gained can erode trust in God’s Word and corrupt proper understanding of it. Congregations and denominations consist of individuals. Essential tenets upheld firmly through loving discipline are necessary to keep congregations and denominations on track just as for individuals.
Since 1991, I have followed the decisions of the General Assemblies closely. For many of them, PRMI has mobilized prayer on site. In addition to the 2001 Assembly’s apostasy, I have witnessed firsthand many official decisions which did not glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, pronouncements which were inconsistent with His clear Word, the Bible. This is not to mention faithless actions of GA officials between Assemblies! The result of failing to exalt the Lord Jesus is to open doors to the demonic.
I cite two further examples. One year, the Moderator invited a Native American shaman to conduct a certain ritual to cleanse us of evil spirits and welcome good spirits. This was not done in the name of the Lord Jesus. Consequently, the door to evil spirits to enter into the worship service of the General Assembly was thrown wide open. Some argued the ceremony was simply a cultural thing and a way to honor Native Americans. This, of course, represents spiritual naiveté, a doorway the demonic is happy to enter.
A second example is the well-known Voices of Sophia movement, present at GA over multiple years. At one GA, groups of women walked around the exhibit halls and in the plenary sessions reciting incantations calling upon the goddess Sophia to bless their feminist causes and to curse all those who opposed them. Calling upon a goddess to curse the followers of the one, true, God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is blasphemy. Yet, the Voices of Sophia are always welcome at the PCUSA’s GA because they represent diversity. Inclusiveness has become more revered in our denomination than faithfulness to the one, true God. No corrective to Voices of Sophia, no discipline, deeper corruption, more darkness.
Further, the pervasive worldview among liberals as well as many evangelicals that does not take seriously the reality of evil spirits leaves an opening for evil to exploit.
I could cite many more examples of unfaithful witness which have opened the doors to evil spirits intent on building strongholds of deception within the leadership structures of the PC(USA). All of these actions unless specifically repented of, renounced and asked forgiveness for by those in spiritual authority in the denomination give ground to evil spirits. These spirits work not only within human hearts but also within complex human social structures to form strongholds that actively work in accord with Satan’s purposes of blocking the advancement of the Kingdom of God and holding people in deception. While individuals within the PC(USA), or even whole groups of people such as faithful presbyteries, congregations, or renewal groups have in prayer and confession renounced these unfaithful actions, the official GA and its office agencies (to my knowledge) have not done so and so these doors stay open and the demonic stronghold of deception gains power and pervades more and more of the life of the denomination. The presence of this demonic stronghold is experienced as an ethos or a culture of unfaithfulness to Jesus Christ.
Now back to the 2001 Assembly where the commissioners could not affirm the singular saving Lordship of Jesus Christ. If you had been asked to make such an affirmation, would you not have immediately jumped to your feet with an affirmation of yes? Of course, willingly and enthusiastically! In so doing you would have acknowledged the Lord Jesus not just before people, but also before the demonic powers and principalities in search of entry ways into Christian hearts and minds as well as into corporate structures to undergird the strongholds of deception. Your affirmation would have served notice to them that your heart belongs to Jesus alone. Further, you would have been credited with the sweet blessing of Jesus’ acknowledgment of you before the Father. Finally, the demonic schemes to destroy an entire denomination would have been dealt a serious setback.
The 2001 General Assembly as a whole could not, would not, confess Jesus as the one and only Lord as a correction to the same failure at the Peace Making Conference the year before. That spiritual ground has not been taken back to this day. The Layman rightly named the 2001 GA the Apostate General Assembly as another chapter in a long history of stepping away from the Truth about Jesus’ singular saving Lordship.
 By the way, this is in contrast to the reports on the web and from people who talk directly to me about the experience at the Evangelical Presbyterian Church General Assembly or the General Synod of the Reformed Church of America or the Christian Reformed Church. They, of course, have their battles and points of tension. But the awareness of spiritual oppression is rarely reported. Instead there is the atmosphere of exalting Jesus Christ and a commitment to advancing His kingdom.
 You may wish to visit The Layman Online to read about the dynamics from the 1960’s to the present. Also, Parker Williamson’s volume, Standing Firm, illustrates graphically that our fight today mirrors the fight for orthodox belief in the 4th century as Athanasius struggled against Arius and his heresy.
 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 NIV)