Tony Evans is the founder and pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas TX and the chairman of the executive council of The Gathering, a solemn assembly of pastors and Christians which took place yesterday. In his introduction to the day, Evans raised three possibilities regarding America. One is that Christ will return and set up His Kingdom. The second one is that America will be judged and taken off “the scene,” and a third is that American Christians pray and repent and change God’s mind about America’s demise. Watch:
There are 3 options before us. If Jesus comes back, we won’t worry about any of this. In the immediate future, it won’t be our problem. The second option is that our nation is under final judgment and so there is no hope.
But there is a third option. “If my people will call my name, shall humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways, and seek my face, I will heal them, and I will flow from them.” If Jesus doesn’t come back in the immediate future, that’s your children, and your grandchildren, and your great grand children, and they’re gonna live in some kind of land. Either it will be a land influenced by God’s people and godliness, or influence led and ruled by evil, and it all depends on the church.
Regularly, as Pastor Morris says, God say, I’m waiting on you. Moses, as he said, put out the rod, Joshua, tell the priest to put the water-put their foot in the water before I open up the Jordan River. Martha, pull the stone away, until you pull the stone away, I do not need a discussion on mortuary science, until you move the stone, you will not see what I am up to in secret, because you won’t do what I told you to do in public.
But when God’s presence and purpose is being manifested through his people, we give Him another option. And let me tell you how powerful this option is. If Christ be not come. It is such a powerful option that if we gave-give God our undivided attention and undivided focus, it is such a powerful option that we can literally change God’s mind, on earth about what He had previously decided to do from eternity. Throughout the Bible, you will see God changing His mind. So even if Option 2 is on the plate, to remove America off the scene, Christ be not come, let’s go about changing God’s mind. Let’s do what we do like Moses did when God said He would destroy Israel and Moses pled that would mess up your reputation, and when He heard his prayer, He changed his mind. God is flexible. Let’s appeal to that flexibility.
Evans raises all kinds of theological issues which I won’t comment on at this point. My interest is more with what Evans thinks will trigger God’s cosmic mind change.
Evans misquotes II Chronicles 7:14 (bold print above) as a proof that God will change his mind if we pray and repent. The verse in full goes like this
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
I have never understood why people mistake this as a promise to America. American citizens are not His people called by God’s name. This verse is not addressed to Americans. This verse is the second half of a sentence started in verse 13 and concerns the dedication of the Jewish temple led by King Solomon.
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
God made an agreement with Solomon regarding Israel. On behalf of America, who made such a covenant?
This promise was made in a very specific way to Solomon about the very homogeneous Jewish nation. Despite a majority Christian population, there is no civil requirement to keep Christian morality. There is no civil requirement to even be a Christian to serve in government. It is very simple, these verses have nothing to do with us. We are not a new Israel.
There is nothing wrong with praying and repenting. However, a nation such as ours doesn’t do it, people do.
Bob Smietana at Christianity Today was all over The Gathering story and has a good summary of the controversial mind control movement that once boasted Christian producer and songwriter Ed Cash as a member.
According to Bob and my contacts with former members, members have been gradually getting out of the movement since CT published the first article.
My posts on The Gathering are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Apparently something is happening to The Gathering brand. People are leaving. Perhaps triggered by both the Christianty Today expose and the departure of mega-producer Ed Cash, others are leaving the cultish group. I have heard that families are being reunited and Ed Cash has been visiting with people who are leaving. The WSMV report is below.
WSMV Channel 4 WSMV Channel 4
Ed Cash, prominent Nashville Christian music producer and a former leader in the mind-control group The Gathering, was not supposed to appear on stage at last week’s Young Life conference. According to Young Life’s Director of Communications Terry Swenson, Cash spontaneously and without the endorsement of Young Life joined David Crowder during a performance on stage. On behalf of Young Life, Swenson said he was sorry to family members who have loved ones in The Gathering.
The Gathering was once the religious home of Cash, best known for co-authoring “How Great is Our God.” On December 30, 2015, Cash and his brother Scott Cash posted a letter on their website proclaiming that they had left The Gathering. In the light of that letter, many family members and ex-members expressed hoped that Ed Cash would contact them or their loved ones still in The Gathering to urge them to leave or to reconcile with families due to his prior support. According to some parents and siblings I spoke with, Cash was involved and aware of Jolley’s command to some members to cut off contact with their family outside of The Gathering. Cash has not replied to several questions I have posed regarding his current relationship to The Gathering.
Young Life is involved because Ed Cash has led worship at their annual conferences in the past but was asked not to do so this year. Instead, the Cash brothers were invited as guests with the provision that they would not participate upfront in the conference. However, Ed Cash joined David Crowder onstage during a worship set/concert and performed briefly.
Through a source related to a current member of The Gathering, I have learned that Young Life responded to Cash’s appearance and provided the following statement from Terry Swenson, Director of Communications:
I do want you to know the circumstances that led to Ed Cash’s appearance on stage Wednesday night. First, what we communicated earlier about the Cash brothers’ presence at the Celebration was and remains true: they have no on stage role and are absolutely not “featured,” as was unfortunately communicated. They were guests in the audience and, to our complete surprise and without our endorsement, David Crowder invited Ed on stage. This was not planned and we don’t take what happened lightly. We understand the hurt this has stirred and I’m sorry for that!
Mr. Swenson confirmed this statement later this morning.
In mid-December, Christianity Today‘s Bob Smietana provided a feature length expose of cult-like practices and teachings of The Gathering and Wayne Jolley, the spiritual leader of the movement. Christian music producer Ed Cash, probably best known for being co-writer of How Great is Our God, figured prominently in the expose as one of Wayne Jolley’s insiders. On December 30, Cash posted a letter on his website saying that he had left The Gathering.
Reaction from family members of those still in The Gathering was hopeful. Those not in the Gathering hoped that Cash would help people leave the movement and restore relationships broken because of orders from Wayne Jolley and observed by Cash.
Since then Cash has not commented on his stance toward those he helped recruit into The Gathering. Currently, he is at the Young Life conference in FL. For some family members, the relationship between Young Life and Cash has been a source of discouragement. In fact, Young Life’s leadership issued a statement that Ed Cash would not have an “up front” role at the conference. Since Cash has led worship in the past, this lower profile would at least be a recognition that some business with The Gathering is unfinished. The full statement is at the end of the post.
However, earlier this evening, Ed Cash participated in a worship set/concert at Young Life. See the short video below. Ed Cash is playing the Legos.
Ryan also tweeted a shout out to Cash and the others who participated.
This seems to violate at least the spirit of the commitment from Young Life leaders.
In the mean time, family members who contacted me this evening are still wondering if Ed Cash is making any attempts to reconcile with families who lost children and other family to the Gathering.
A former member of The Gathering, Scott Hethcox, told me: “I am praying for healing and restoration for Ed and Scott Cash and their families. I also pray the statement from the Cash brothers about leaving the Gathering is truly genuine. I will be more assured it is genuine when I hear that Ed Cash has reconciled with people who were hurt by The Gathering.”
In response to concerns from some Young Life supporters who have family members in The Gathering, Young Life leaders issued the following statement to Young Life regional staff:
The Cashes will be at the conference as participants but not in any upfront leadership or “upfront” role. Since the publication of the Christianity Today article, we have been in dialogue with Scott and Ed both about their response as well as their role at the conference. It is certainly our desire to respond appropriately to this difficult situation, and I believe we have done so. As you may be aware, the Cashes have left The Gathering and severed ties with Wayne Jolley.
We are deeply disturbed by the article’s content, and we continue to affirm that Young Life has absolutely no relationship with Wayne Jolley or with The Gathering. Because we do have a relationship with the Cash family, we will continue to walk with Scott and Ed during this time, hoping and praying for God to accomplish His purposes in them…for healing and restoration and redemption. It is in that spirit that we welcome them to attend the conference.
We are grieved by the ways those in the Young Life family have been impacted by involvement with The Gathering, and we will continue to pray for and seek ways to foster healing for all involved.