What is the Focus
of BRI's Theology?
2. We understand you believe in the soul's immortality. Is this correct?
3. You referred to reincarnation. Doesn't this brand BRI as New Age?
4. So basically you're saying that the Bible teaches that human personality survives its bodily death?
5. Are the "gifts of the Spirit" still around today?
6. What about the pentecostal "second blessing"?
7. Does BRI teach the coming of a New World Order?
8. Apart from the differences already mentioned, what else distinguishes BRI from other sabbatarian organisations such as the Seventh Day Adventists?
What is the Focus of BRI's Theology?
Very briefly, BRI does not teach a sin-centred theology. Any theology that centres in anything other than Yeshua haMashiach (Yeshua the Messiah) is a diabolic heresy. Indeed, BRI may be a Messianic Work, replete with Jewish roots, but even Israel is not the focus of our theology. If your theological focus is sin, Israel, prophecy, the end times, finance, homophobia or any other theme you are guilty of holding to an heterodox theology. The centre and focus of BRI theology has always been and shall remain Yeshua the Nazarene -- the Messiah alone.
We understand you believe in the soul's immortality. Is this correct?
"Christian" cults are usually united in one central doctrine -- the complete and
utter mortality of man. "The soul that sins, it shall die" they exuberate,
quoting from the prophet Ezekiel. Or, they quote with relish from the Psalms,
"His breath goes forth [at death]... in that very day his thoughts perish." Or
from Solomon, "The dead know not anything." But the Bible has much more to say
on the subject of mortality and immortality than cultists -- who are conditioned
to expound only on certain Russellite "proof text" arguments -- even realise.
There are some principles we all need to inculcate as we pursue our biblical
Firstly, we need to repent of possessing a too limited view of the Scripture. In this Messianic Ministry it is a standard feature at the beginning of lectures and Bible studies to start with, "Let us now open the pages of the Bible and expand the parameters of our ignorance." This is usually standard procedure because I want to imprint upon the minds of my Yeshiva students the fact that none of us knows it all, and therefore none of us can smugly claim to really have a corner on the market of biblical understanding. Yet smugness continues to have its converts who look upon such a spiritual aberration as a virtue. One of the areas that produces such smugness is in the proclivity of the sects to unduly emphasise certain Bible quotations to the silence of other, perhaps more important, texts. A case in point is the doctrinal negation of man's immortality replete with proof-texts which, in their own words, "cannot be gainsaid."
Secondly, we need to take the Scripture as it is written (after carefully checking translations against the original Hebrew or Greek, or by comparing it with other English translations and versions). We need to examine closely its context. A text taken out of context is a pretext. Certainly, unlike the New Age Movement, the cults on the fringes of the Christian Community espouse man's innate mortality. Their literature is saturated throughout with biblical references to man's extinction at death, in the hope of resurrection. What we need to do, however, is ask a few poignant questions about the text we are reading or studying.
This lecturer was told, during a fine meal in the home of some believers a few years ago, that "all the Jews in Yeshua's time believed only in soul sleep." When I politely disagreed, the term "all the Jews" suddenly reduced to "I meant to say the Pharisees." I again politely disagreed, quoting Josephus almost verbatim to establish that the Pharisees and Essenes accepted, believed in, taught, and promulgated the doctrine of
Thirdly, we all should STOP calling each other "false prophets" when someone disagrees with us. It is a most unkind approach. One Christian historian I admire immensely (and I have absolutely no doubt as to his conversion and calling of God) calls anyone who teaches man's immortality a "false prophet." While I respect his right to believe that I am a "false prophet" I shall always endeavour to account people the way I find them when I meet them. I recall doing a lot of work here in Australia in the '70s and '80s to help build up his mailing lists and I have never thought twice about it. I just think he needs to reflect on a few things seriously, and completely cut the ties he still has to a certain sectarianism. Indeed, as he also knows quite well, current studies of the period covering the intertestamental period, the Fifth Procuratorship of Judaea, and the Zealot revolution are shedding much needed light into the belief systems that permeated Judaea. Even the idea of the resurrection has to be re-evaluated in the light of this new understanding. The sects of the Fifth Procuratorship of Judaea clearly espoused man's immortality. Well, the lunch which I referred to earlier was abruptly terminated in what appeared to be microseconds and "brotherly love" started to freeze over with conversation waning so I eventually left, with my family, to return home. Strange how love turns suddenly cold when there are religious disagreements! Such is the hostile, suspicious nature of cultism (in whatever form it may appear).
You referred to reincarnation. Doesn't this brand BRI as New Age?
Reincarnation is a dirty word in Christian circles. This is because it is considered irrational, demonic, and diabolically opposed to the precepts and the inclusions of the Written Word. And, true it is that we are witnessing, correspondent to the worldwide decline of the Gentile Constantinian Church, a massive resurgence of second-century Gnosticism in the dress of the western New Age Movement. It is equally true that this Movement is a subtle enemy of Faith - claiming to believe in the soul, immortality, prayer, and Yeshua the Christ. However we may rail against the present New Age Movement, it should be seen that the early Church seized the opportunity presented by the appearance of Samaritan Gnosticism to solidify its Christology. We, too, ought to "seize the day" and solidify our Christology. Trouble is -- we no longer know what is our Christology. Countless thousands of differing, bickering, backbiting and intellectually incestuous churches, denominations, sects and cults testify to the truth of our last statement! I also recall some years ago attending a ministerial function, and -- again during a meal -- the subject of reincarnation surfaced. The Baptist gentleman who initiated the over-dinner discussion pondered aloud to his colleagues the dilemma of countering New Age philosophies circulating within his congregation. He admitted the truth of much of it, but clearly was disadvantaged as to how to successfully counter the doctrines without splitting his church. At this point I had the temerity to enquire whether he believed he possessed "an immortal soul." "Of course," he rapidly replied with a look of disdain that the question had been put. "So?" he asked in an exasperated tone. "Well," I then replied, "if we have immortal souls, and the plain definition of immortality means that we are innately and intrinsically eternal, what have WE been doing for ALL eternity?" It was a simple, sincere question, but the entire ministerial council looked surprised. Some seemed flabbergasted. I was never invited back to further meetings. It is a pertinent question I ask of all who believe in man's immortality. Its a pertinent question an obvious answer to which has not been forthcoming. Proponents of immortality have not really thought the implication of their belief in immortality through to its logical conclusion. Still, I must confess, personal conviction grows in strength as it deepens in authenticity.
So basically you're saying that the Bible teaches that human personality survives its bodily death?
Unquestionably! Is there a hidden world within us? Absolutely! Does the personality of man transcend time and space? Yep! Is there room in our theology for the rebirth concept in Christian dogma? Definitely! Moreover, put in blunt terms, can a Messianic believer accept reincarnation and still remain loyal to the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and to the Church as the Community of Faith? Or is the very notion of the continuance of the human spirit after physical death biblically absurd? What does the Scripture tell us of reincarnation and of life after death? We have to admit the annals of ecclesiastical history reveal that the teaching of reincarnation -- without the vile accumulation of Hindu trappings -- was once a very definite Christian belief and that it was voted out of the Faith at the unofficial Council of Constantinople in 553 C.E. At that time those who persisted in the teaching were regimentally divorced from the Faith of Yeshua. We have an exposition entitled "So! You Think You're Mortal?" Its listed in our BRI Publication Order Form and it addresses these issues. Our BRI Study Manual "Is Man the Phoenix?" covers the entire spectrum of the biblical teaching on mortality and immortality. Its also available for those interested in having their perceptions faithfully challenged.
Are the "gifts of the Spirit" still around today?
There are genuine spiritual gifts, and gifts of demons, at large in the historic church and pentecostal assemblies today. It is my personal belief that while there are genuine manifestations of the Spirit that can be observed currently, the real outpouring is yet future -- and it will begin at Jerusalem. In relation to this question, the BRI is unique in that brethren of different persuasions and opinions can still meet together in harmony, live and work and rub shoulders together, and share a common communion, in Messiah. I do not make doctrine an issue for excommunication. Paul never once put people out of his congregations over doctrinal matters -- only over deportment. After my own Damascus Road in 1981 I originally shared a Reformed position, but I happen today to recognise that I am charismatic. And one who delights in the writings of Karl Barth, T.F. Torrance, and Brunner. And the Catholic Hans Kung. BRI is living evidence that it is more than possible to integrate positive charismatic renewal with traditional Reformed orthodoxy.
What about the pentecostal "second blessing"?
BRI denies emphatically "the second blessing" bequeathed by mainline Pentecostalism. There is only ONE salvation, an integrated unity in Messiah. When we are saved we are saved WHOLLY (salvation is the "health of Yahweh"). There is NO second experience subsequent to salvation-experience. It is when we are saved that we receive "the baptism of the holy Spirit." God, and all that God is, and all that God has, are given (as gifts to us) in the Incarnation of Himself as Our Lord Yeshu(a) haMashiach. The one gift of Himself is in His Son. All else is contained in that ONE personal gift. For some of us, it may take a little longer to appreciate and apprehend what is already ours by virtue of the new birth. But if the conversion we experienced was indeed a genuine new birth, then the realisation will dawn that the Real Presence is within us demanding a dynamic, edifying and practical expression of God's love toward us, and for us, in radical outreach to others.
Does BRI teach the coming of a New World Order?
Yes, and we do not oppose it in any way. Time is terribly short. Well-documented moves have been afoot at least since the days of Cecil Rhodes, to unite our troublesome world into a federation of sovereignless nation-states, nothing short of world government. It is a fact that any who oppose its eventuation will be removed from any position of influence in the emerging New World Order. George Bush talked a lot about the coming NWO, along with his chum and Rhodes scholar ex-PM of Australia, Bob Hawke. In fact the NWO has been publicly discussed at length by a curiously growing number of international statesmen, diplomats, politicians and scientists. More and more the idea of a NWO is being promulgated in the media. This is because a world government is natural man's last hope for survival. We are, in fact, heading rapidly into a period of time, the like of which the world has never seen, during which a massive deception and distortion of the truth of God will be foistered on an unsuspecting world (2 Thes 2.3,4,9,11). An increase in World Federation promotional activity has been growing ever since Roswell in 1947. A mere mortal will arrogate to himself the Messianic Office of the LORD God.
Apart from the differences already mentioned, what else distinguishes BRI from other sabbatarian organisations such as the Seventh Day Adventists?
Christian Sabbatarians have failed to carry the torch of the 'Woman in the Wilderness'! There are literally hundreds of thousands of Sabbatarian Christians in the western world today. They are known variously as Seventh Day Adventists, Seventh Day Baptists, Worldwide Church of God, Seventh Day Churches of God, Church of God Seventh Day, Church of God Adventist, Church of God International, Global Church of God, United Church of God, etc etc etc. All of these churches (without exception) stem from the Church of God Adventist which had its origin in a sabbatarian Church of God established in Newport, Rhode Island by a certain Stephen Mumford in 1672 (Landis, Religion in the United States). Mumford was one of a number of sabbatarian converts settling in Rhode Island and the general New England territory between the years 1664 and 1800. Most of these immigrants had fled persecution in England and constituted "a Church of God that was sabbatarian" (Mead, Religious Denominations). Indeed Mumford actually represented the Mill Yard Church of God (Seventh Day Baptist) in London. This particular church traced its origin back to the work of Waldensian preacher Walter Lollard (also known as Walter the Lollard) who came to England in 1315, established sabbatarian churches, and perished in the flames in Cologne, Germany in 1322 (Haydn's Dictionary of Dates). The Waldensian Church of Europe was a fully organised, dissenting church, with its own ministers and congregations, claiming to represent the pure form of Christianity (Walker, The Growing Storm). Known variously as Vaudois, Cathars, Henricians, Arnoldists, Petrobrussians, Bohemian Brethren, Poplicani, Albigensians and Lollards (among other appellations), they were in turn the children of the Bogomils and Paulicians of the ninth and tenth centuries. Due to a relentless policy of Papal persecution, they saw themselves as "the Woman in the Wilderness" of Revelation 12.6 which was to be hounded for 1260 years. Certainly, these sabbatarian Christians claimed to have existed as a separate priesthood from that of a decadent Rome, at least since the days of Constantine (Neander, General History of the Christian Religion & Church). Their spiritual descendants today are proud of the legacy of the seventh day Sabbath obtained from such an illustrious past. However, what they fail to realise is that these sectarian sabbatarians also carried the torch of reincarnation and an ultimate universal salvation in Christ. The modern Waldensians stand therefore as theologically inconsistent, compared to their forefathers, because of their flagrant hostility to the doctrine of God's Salvific Grace!