“The ‘Secret’ Mission”

Part 3: The Doctrines of Dominionism

“We now see that the Great Commission’s biblical goal is nothing short of social transformation.”
–C. Peter Wagner, “Let’s Take Dominion Now!

In a key series of articles, Christian discernment researcher Ed Tarkowski wrote concerning the new “Abrahamic Covenant” heresy that was being promulgated by the Latter Rain leaders and widely esteemed evangelicals connected with Fuller Theological Seminary and the U.S. Center for World Mission. Tarkowski explained the significance of this new doctrine in Part 4 of this series:

In the January 1986 issue of Mission Frontiers Magazine (pages 17-18), Ralph D. Winter began a series entitled “THE ‘SECRET’ MISSION, A Theology of Redemption” in which he explained his view of God’s covenant with Abraham as it relates to missions. The apparent premise of the series is that through the fall, man lost to Satan his dominion over the world, and now man’s hope is to take back, through preaching the gospel, the dominion he lost. The strategy, then, is to evangelize resident people groups in all the nations and in this way take the nations for Christ.

In his series, Winter emphasized the struggle against “the evil empire” as the hope of taking back the earth. The personal war against the adversary, he said, is to “expand God’s rule to the ends of the earth, to the last of all the world’s people,” through “the blessing of God — that is, to be discipled, to be reconciled through the death of His Son, to live in the fulness of His Spirit, and by His grace to ‘put on the full armor of God, that (they) may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

Since then, the stand against the schemes of the devil has brought forth such practices as spiritual mapping of cities, evangelizing people groups (nations), spiritual warfare for the purpose of displacing the spiritual entities ruling cities, prayer walking and data-basing. All these methods will supposedly prepare fields for evangelization, and will result in taking all the cities of the world for God and the establishment of His rule. Winter states that this situation was established by the Abrahamic Covenant:

“For 4000 years, then we have been in a Covenant-instituted and -guided counter-effort, an essentially ‘wartime’ situation. . .”

According to Winter, God’s goal in establishing this wartime situation was to fulfill His covenant with Abraham for the purpose of expanding His rule to the ends of the earth:

“Arrayed against the kingdom of evil is the Kingdom of God, now drawn into what turns out to be a secret mission to push darkness back and expand God’s rule to the ends of the earth, to the last of all the world’s people.”

Having set up the idea that the Church must constantly wage a battle, Winter now brings forth his “secret mission,” so named because of past unbelief and/or disobedience. The purpose of this mission is for the Kingdom of God, “arrayed against the kingdom of evil,” to “push darkness back and expand God’s rule to the ends of the earth, to the LAST of ALL the world’s people” [emphasis added].

Preach the gospel to all men on earth? Yes. But are we to extend God’s rule to the last of all the world’s people? No, there is no such command in Scripture. The gospel certainly establishes the rule of God in people’s hearts through Christ’s finished work and its acceptance by any individual. Yet the simplicity of that fact is clouded by the strategies I described above, such as spiritual mapping (by which demons controlling cities are supposedly displaced by the Church so God’s rule in that city can be established through people accepting the gospel). But, in truth, the Gospel is to be preached to prepare all who believe for the day when Christ alone personally establishes God’s rule over the cities of the world: (Rev 19:15-16 KJV). . . .

For further reading on what is entailed by Ralph Winter’s re-defined Abrahamic Covenant, especially see Ed Tarkowski’s Part 5. Many components of this elaborately contrived doctrine are easily recognizable in the current writings of leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation. It is a key tenet of the coming Dominionist world church.

Ralph Winter has recently enlightened the evangelical world as to how he widely disseminated this concocted “Abrahamic Covenant” doctrine. But first — who is Winter and why is he significant? In a nutshell:

“Dr. Ralph Winter, Founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission
Dr. Winter served as a missionary for 10 years in Guatemala, then at Fuller Theological Seminary trained (and learned from) missionaries around the world for 10 years before founding the USCWM. His thinking has stimulated many new initiatives to advance the Great Commission. He is best known for introducing and championing the challenge of Unreached Peoples and “frontiers” in mission.”

Winter is best known for his work in re-formulating evangelism, particularly in overseeing the influential Perspectives course which has trained an entire generation of missionaries in the new doctrines. Winter, a member of the dominionist group Coalition on Revival, was also featured in TIME Magazine’s February 7, 2005 cover story listing “The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America.” An official biography details Winter’s history, which is reproduced below so that the reader will grasp this man’s formidable influence:

“Ralph Winter graduated from Caltech in engineering, gained an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language at Columbia University in New York before completing a Ph.D at Cornell University in linguistics, cultural anthropology and mathematical statistics. He and his new bride, Roberta, then went to Princeton Theological Seminary where he pastored a rural New Jersey church as a student. In 1956, ordination followed finishing his seminary degree.

“From 1956 to 1966, Ralph and Roberta served in Guatemala as missionaries under the Presbyterian Church USA, working with a Native American tribal group of the Mayan family of peoples. They assisted the existing national church in a variety of ways, ranging from education to small business development to a special kind of theological education by extension designed to develop local leaders through formal ministerial studies.

“Partly on the basis of the latter, the Fuller School of World Mission invited Dr. Winter to become part of the new school, in the second year. During the next ten years the Winters dealt with over 1,000 missionaries in class and out of class, learning a great deal about the global cause of Christ in the process. During this period Dr. Winter founded the William Carey Library, a specialized publisher and distributor of mission materials, co-founded the American Society of Missiology, assisted in the founding of ACMC (Advancing Churches in Mission Commitment), and inaugurated the Perspectives Study Program.

“Over the years teaching at Fuller, however, it became more and more clear that someone would have to do something special to recall the mission movement to a frontier focus. The Frontier Mission Fellowship was born in 1976 for that purpose, immediately initiating two major projects: the US Center for World Mission and Wiliam [sic] Carey International University.

“In 1979, Dr. Winter intitiated [sic] the production of Mission Frontiers, the bulletin of the U.S. Center for World Mission, which now is published 6 times a year with a circulation of over 80,000 and a distribution that covers 160 countries. He has continued as the Editor of the publication since its founding.

“In the next 20 years, a community of workers composing the Frontier Mission Fellowship was developed, ready and willing to tackle any problem impeding the mission movement. Winter served as the CEO of the Center until 1990, the University until 1997, and has since then been occupied mostly as the General Director of the Frontier Mission Fellowship, a mission society member of the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association and the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies. Dr. Winter is the Vice-President of the Southwest Region of the Evangelical Missiological Society, as well as being active in the International Society for Frontier Missions, which he helped to initiate.”

How the “Abrahamic Covenant” heresy was concocted

Winter recently wrote a stunning article, “Twelve Frontiers of Perspective,” in which he divulged twelve “major shifts or changes of perspective” that influenced “ideas, strategies, emphases, and so forth, in the mission industry and in the pulpit.” The second perspective shift explains how he came up with “The Great Commission and Abraham.” Below are some selected excerpts of “that change of perspective and the resulting radically new idea (to us) that the Great Commission was right there in Genesis 12. . . .”:

“This new frontier of understanding came to a head just as the first Perspectives Reader was going to press. This was in 1981. I was the only one who thought we ought to male (sic) sure this idea got into the book, and I was being out voted by everybody, particularly Steve Hawthorne and Jay Gary . . . .

“But, by Providence. . . I happened to be asked to be a speaker at the dedication of the Billy Graham Center. . . . and I ran into Walter Kaiser Jr. . . . I had been looking at one of his books . . . . He had put into every chapter-title of his book on the Old Testament the phrase ‘The Promise.’ I said, ‘Dr. Kaiser, isn’t that simply a Jewish misunderstanding of what was actually a mandate, a command?” . . . .

“Then he said to me. . . “Well, you can call Genesis 12:1-3 the Great Commission if you want.” And again I staggered back and I said ‘Oh, now wait a minute. I can’t go around saying that Genesis 12 is the Great Commission. I would get fired right out of a church. . . . I am not a Hebrew professor. I need to be able to quote somebody who is. Do you have that statement in print?’ . . . [H]e answered, ‘Look , you quote me and I’ll get it in print.'”

“So I came back to Steve Hawthorne and Jay Gary and all the others here who were working away on the final stages of the 1981 version of the Perspectives Reader and I said to them, ‘Guess what, Kaiser agrees with me here. We can quote him.’ . . . What he sent on cassette then became Chapter Four in that first Reader. . . .

“You can well imagine that that was a major insight for us — giving us a whole new Bible. And this element in the Perspectives course is one of the biggest jolts which especially seminary students get when they take the Perspectives course. The idea that the Great Commission is the backbone of the whole Bible — not just one of the teachings of the NT — is a major shift in perspective a frontier yet to be crossed for most Christians. . . .” [emphasis added]

Al Dager, in his groundbreaking work The World Christian Movement (Sword, 2001), described the widespread influence of the evangelical leaders who had been discipled by Henrietta Mears. Many of these men converged at Fuller Theological Seminary during the 1970s, creating new doctrines. Dager reveals the surprising roots of this Abrahamic Covenant doctrine. Here is the story:

The idea that Abraham and Israel failed to fulfill the Great Commission in their time was formulated, or at least popularized, by Helen Barrett Montgomery in the early 20th century. Ralph Winter attributes the social movement of that time to her ability to accomplish much in the way of teaching:

“The amazing and powerful social movement which allowed her to do these things–and which amplified the effect of what she did–was probably the most significant movement in history for the completion of the Great Commission.”

The movement to which Winter alludes is the Women’s Suffrage Movement. . . .

[Montgomery’s] teaching on missions, found in the Study Guide for the Perspectives course, outlines her belief that the Abrahamic Covenant is the basis for world missions today. She taught that throughout history everyone from Abraham to the present had failed to complete the Great Commission because the world had not been fully evangelized. She chastised the Church for failing to bring about what she considered total evangelization. And she warned that should the Church fail, God might replace it with something else:

“The Gospel will not fail. The Lord Jesus shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. The kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ. But the Church may fail, may be set aside for another instrument. Today is the day of salvation for our Protestant churches. If we harden our hearts and close our eyes and refuse the plain call of God, other generations may see in us another Israel whose narrowness of vision was condemned by the very Scripture in which is our boast.’ . . .

Dager continued, by quoting Ralph Winter:

“With this we understand once and for all that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the missionary God of the mission-covenant, the “Secret Mission!” Furthermore, these prominent references inaugurate the major narrative story of the Bible, which is essentially the unfolding story of the Secret Mission of God to all the nations (“Fulfillment”). It is not just the story of a nation blessed by God (“Fullness”) in preparation for a task to be fulfilled 2,000 years later. We soon see that this covenant is in one sense the only Covenant in the Bible. It constitutes the grand plan, the only plan.” [emphasis in Dager’s original]

Some may say that Winter was careless in his words. But one with his knowledge of Scripture cannot so easily be dismissed. In effect, he does subordinate the New Covenant to the Abrahamic Covenant. Thus, the World Christian Movement infers that Jesus also failed, but commissioned His disciples to take up the cause to evangelize the world as fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. (pp. 41-45)

(To be continued. . . .)

The Truth:

“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second, By the which we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:9-10)