I recently noticed a new church moved into our community: Victory Church. I’ve discovered, however, it’s not really all that new. The church was formed in 2000 and its original meetings were in a nearby mega-theater complex. Foreshadowing. Yet, I don’t recall the church being named “Victory Church” at that time, and the history of the church is notably absent from their Internet site. Nevertheless, the church has at least three other campuses and, along with fellow mega-church LCBC, is one of the fastest growing churches in our county and possibly the nation.
What Victory Church claims to offer is the “Next Step” in your Christian life. Indeed, “Next Step” is consistently and constantly marketed across their Internet site and church propaganda. What’s curiously absent from either context is what “Next Step” is or means. Here’s some of my speculation based on American church history of the last 125 years.
My first thought is that it’s probably a 21st century regeneration and modernization of the early 20th century “higher life” movement propagated by some independent, fundamental, and Pentecostal churches of that era. This un-Biblical and heterodox doctrine suggests Christians need a second infusion or “second blessing” of the Holy Spirit to live a “victorious” Christian life. Hence, the doctrine is also known as “the victorious Christian life” movement. Essentially, Christ and his life, including his finished work on the cross for salvation, imputed righteousness, present sanctification, and hope of Heaven, all of which include the gift and work of the Holy Spirit, is not enough for the present Christian life.
Early on, this dangerous and deceptively benign teaching infected Dallas Theological Seminary resulting in Charles Ryrie’s Balancing the Christian Life, a text I was subjected to in Bible college. (Thankfully, I was released from the bondage of this false doctrine by the true Biblical teaching regarding sanctification and a strong infusion of Reformation Calvinistic and Lutheran theology.
Later, this doctrinal mythology attached itself to Bill Bright and his Campus Crusade For Christ culminating in his pamphlet, Have You Made the Wonderful Discovery of the Spirit-Filled Life? also known affectionately as the “bird book” by its members. In this adaption not only did you need to pray for an new filling of the Holy Spirit, but you need to take yourself off the throne of your life and put Jesus there by doing so. This is commonly known as “lordship” salvation in church history. In other words, at the point of salvation, a person has appropriated Jesus as Savior, but to be truly a victorious Christian you must make him “Lord” of your life. This doctrine still remains within Campus Crusade, even though they’ve disguised their name as CRU. Apparently, these knuckleheads do not realize Jesus Christ is God of very God is Lord of all things including his believers (whether they are obedient victorious servants or not). I’m also afraid this doctrine may be evident in my own church.
Is this what’s going on at Victory Church, Ephrata campus? I don’t know. Speculation, as I said earlier. But, these days, every Christian mega-church needs their nuance, or snake oil, to make them different from other hucksters and so proselytize Christians from other churches. Mostly, however, I believe it means: Victory Church is not for losers.
But why go to a church as Local Baptist Church or Your Town Presbyterian Church, when you can go to (loud voice, hands raised high, and shouting): VICTORY CHURCH! VICTORY CHURCH! VICTORY CHURCH! HELL YEAH! OOPS!