A Discerning Look at the Restoration of Heritage USA
December 5, 2006
One of the most significant exercises in prophetic harlotry to come to my awareness in a long time has commenced at the site of the former PTL - Heritage USA ministry outside Charlotte, North Carolina.
For those unaware or who don’t remember the 1980’s, Heritage USA was the internationally renowned mega-Christian resort built by the Jim & Tammy Bakker fundraising empire executed through their ubiquitous PTL television program. When the Bakkers—who preached an imaginary gospel based on the promotion of wealth—fell into disgrace, the television enterprise eventually collapsed, and with it Heritage USA—a paradise second only to Disney World built with tens upon tens of millions of dollars diverted from the spread of the gospel, the local church and foreign missions.
Now, another ministry—Morningstar Ministries under the leadership of Rick Joyner—has come forth to “restore” this expression of spiritual empire to its former “glory.” What makes this particular new display of adultery so outstanding—and so capturing of my own attention—is the smooth allure of its seemingly mature spiritual beauty. Where so many past efforts at building Christian “cities” have emitted the telltale stench of self-promotion and crass appeal to donations, this one promises to become one of the most subtly attractive displays of Christian Babylon ever conceived and executed. (Details of this restoration are available at http://www.heritageconferencecenter.org/ ).
Many readers of these articles are familiar with Rick Joyner. Rick Joyner is an internationally known prophet who carries himself with an air of maturity not found in most American prophets. His insights into spiritual truth can be very perceptive, penetrating and profound. (Many years ago, I was a follower and supporter of his ministry.)
But Rick Joyner is at last a culture prophet. A culture prophet is a prophet who cannot tell the difference between human culture (what the apostles call “the world”) and the kingdom of God. Because a culture prophet cannot discern between fleshly human culture and divine spiritual kingdom, he assigns the divine attributes of God’s kingdom to the world’s culture, and his highest aspiration becomes to dress up the culture to look as much “like Christ” as possible.
The culture prophet’s mission is diverted from converting souls to Christ to converting “the culture” to Christian appearance and image. When a culture prophet hears the words “For God so loved the world,” he hears, “For God so loved the culture,” not the human soul in its sin. Culture prophets therefore do not preach the gospel nor speak to saving men from their sins (they only talk about doing so). They preach instead God’s desire to make the world—the nation—the city—“a better place to live,” ie, a more “Christian” place to live.
The truth however is that culture prophetic ministry (often called “kingdom ministry”) is a ministry of spiritual harlotry and adultery. It substitutes a “sanctified” love of the world’s culture for the true separated love for Christ that costs us our identity in this world. It is also antichrist ministry, substituting something that looks like Christ for Christ Himself. (I think it safe to say that in America, better than 95% of prophetic, intercessory and worship ministry is culture prophetic. For a detailed study of culture prophecy, please see my articles at http://www.firstloveministry.org/cultureprophecy.htm )
Rick Joyner’s effort to restore Heritage USA (now called Heritage International Ministry or H.I.M.) appears noble. It sounds mature. But that is why this latest attempt at a Christian Babylon is so deceptive. It drips with description of the “ministry of the Holy Spirit,” people “meeting the Lord,” “loving Christ” and “finding their purpose.”
But in reality, this is a mirage. It is all about image. Only the harlot’s make-up has changed. Underneath it all, this project is but another attempt to sanctify believers’ desires for this world’s creature comforts as found in America—not to the making of disciples. It is about diverting millions more dollars from the ministry of the gospel, the local church and foreign missions to contribute to a more “mature” form of an enterprise God has already condemned once before. (“Surely” this is the one thing America lacks—an even greater, truer Christian theatric resort to which we may attach our pampered souls! Have we learned nothing since PTL?)
In the end, the attempt to restore Heritage USA is about applying the anointing to a face that God still will not kiss. It is about putting spiritual make-up on a disgraced venture that never was born of God to begin with. A harlot is still a harlot, whether she sounds crass and brazen (“Give $1000 today to reserve your time share at our Christian resort”) or alluringly suave and mature (using the power of masterful graphics to gently persuade us to donate $6 million to “help prepare a place for Christians from around the world to come get restored and trained for their life's purpose.”) (Must Christian’s from around the world come to Charlotte to find their life’s purpose??)
Rick Joyner is—at least on paper—a kind and gracious man. (It pains me to have to write about him so forthrightly—a rarity from me.) And he has many sincere yet equally duped culture prophetic intercessors and prophets behind him with their prayers and prophecies. Amazingly, God allows the support of the earth’s mega Christian Cities to go on. Rick’s work will likely flourish as it already has in so many ways. I have no doubt the money will come in—even as the apostles and prophets devoted to culture-denying discipleship (those given to actually saving men from sin through the Gospel)—continue to endure lack.
Meanwhile, however, the cultural church at large—including the culture prophetic/intercessory/worship movement—and the nation at large will continue to die. And eventually, so will this restored resort and the money that funded it. Then what? How will the contributions to another Christian “mecca” destined so shortly to burn prepare their donors for the true kingdom of the age to come? (If Rick could build a true discipleship training center—a place that teaches believers how to lose their love for American heritage to find Christ—now wouldn’t that really be something….)
Many are familiar with Robert Burnell’s vision called Escape From Christendom—about the pilgrim in Christ who leaves behind the charm of the mega Christian worship city to find the real fellowship of God in His pursuit of the imperishable life to come. (If you’ve never read it, you can find it at http://www.heaven.net.nz/visions/escape-from-christendom.htm.)
Ironically, I first drank from this vision in Rick’s flagship publication, the Morning Star Journal. Yet even those who may publish the truth may not really be baptized in or live by the truth they publish. This can be true of any of us. For this reason, I am slow to speak critically of anyone. Nevertheless, I am urged to write you from the Spirit with which I have been baptized. And that Spirit would respectfully warn you to know your God as the apostles revealed Him to us, to be wise, to discern true love for Christ from love for the anointed Christianized world disguised as love for Christ, and not be removed from your pure first love to follow one more prophetic fantasy built in this world’s image.
With Sincere Love to all the Saints.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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