The “New Wine” Hangover

24 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 4 – The “New Wine” Hangover – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries Internationalscangoosedrunk0001

The “New Wine” Hangover

I thought after considering the hundredth anniversary of Azusa Street enthusiasm that it would be appropriate to look into the current state of the Signs & wonders revival in our own day. One constant characteristic of Pentecostalism is the belief that God is continually doing a “new thing” in the Church. The trick is to find out what it is and get involved with it. Pentecostal folks are in a continual state of flux. (1) From 1906 until around 1910 Pentecostals believed that the Azusa experience was the final fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy and Jesus was due back anytime. The Azusa revival only lasted about three years and then it die out, although its concepts were spread far and wide.

For forty years Pentecostal folks looked back fondly to Azusa and sought the Lord to “do it again.” Then the Post World War II healing “revival” and inauguration of the New Order of the Latter Rain began around 1946. Whereas Azusa alleged to give people the gift of tongues, this new move showed forth great healing and deliverance power along with the restoration of prophets and apostles. These restored prophets & apostles claimed to have the ability to impart supernatural power to their followers. This was seen as the last great worldwide-soul-saving move of the Spirit heralding the imminent return of our Lord. (2) This revival also lasted only about four or five years. Both the Azusa revival and the Healing revival spawned many sects founded on a wide variety of aberrant doctrines. Another approximately forty years later, according to Bill Hamon (3)  that “God” restored the Prophetic Movement back to the Church. According to Hamon, the Prophetic established a platform for the Apostolic Movement to be birthed in the early 1990’s which lead up to the most recent explosion of delusion via a man named Rodney Howard Browne, RHB), aka God’s “Bartender.”

Rodney Howard Browne  (RHB) was originally from South Africa and he came to the United States in 1987. (4) In 1988, the new wine began to be poured out by God’s bartender:

From January 1988, they traveled across America for fifteen months, all the time praying that God would pour out His spirit upon His people and that they would have a supernatural encounter with the Holy Spirit that they would never forget. In the sixteenth month, April 1989, the glory of God was poured out in a Tuesday morning service in a church in upstate New York, beginning a revival that continued to this day. That week, hundreds of people were dramatically touched and changed by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit and since then, hundreds of thousands of people, around the world, have experienced the life changing power of God. (5)

According to RHB he was preaching on hell one evening in New York City and “suddenly” people began to laugh uncontrollably. The harder he preached about the dangers of eternal damnation the more people began to laugh.

Rodney Howard-Browne reported: “One night I was preaching on hell, and laughter just hit the whole place. The more I told the people what hell was like, the more they laughed.” The Holy Ghost…might have you do something that no one’s ever done before, and he might have you do something that’s totally unique. But don’t question, and don’t argue, and don’t ask, and don’t try to devise and to plan it out but just follow the prompting of the leading of the Spirit of God and oh, great and wonderful things shall be done, for God will move in diverse ways and with diverse anointing in these last days. (6)

RHB interpreted this response to being the work of the Holy Spirit. (7) Naturally, one wonders why people began to laugh during the proclamation of such a serious topic. I am firmly convinced that anything that stops or hinders the preaching of God’s Holy Word must be attributed to sinful flesh or demonic activity. Whenever I read or hear reports that say “Oh the Spirit was moving so strongly that we did not even get to the preaching,” (which is commonly reported in these revival meetings) then I know that it was certainly not the working of God’s Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the Word of God to convict sinners and draw them to faith in Christ:

Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

God uses the foolishness of preaching (and sometimes foolish preachers) to reach the lost:

1 Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

RHB and all the other charismatic extremists look for God’s power to be something outside of the Word of God Itself. To them God’s power is some form of amorphous, tangible energy which can be transmitted from one person to another totally apart from the Word of God being proclaimed. Yet the Bible plainly teaches us in the following text:

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

RHB’s big break did not come for almost another five years when he spoke at a large and influential charismatic congregation in Florida:

In the spring of 1993, Karl Strader, pastor of Carpenter’s Church in Lakeland, Florida, invited him to preach. Scheduled for a one-week appearance, he was carried over for three more weeks. Since the services were broadcast on radio, many people began showing up at Carpenter’s Church to experience what they heard on the air. (8)

The Carpenter’s Church in Florida is the home congregation of Mr. Strang, who owns Strang Communication, which publishes Charisma Magazine. While he preached there, people began to laugh again, this time RHB encouraged the people to let go and let God pour the new wine of the Holy Spirit into their parched souls. Word spread rapidly, all the way from Florida to Tulsa’s “City of Faith,” aka Oral Roberts University and Oral and Richard Roberts flew over to see for themselves what the latest stirring of the waters was. Both Oral and Richard got soused with new wine from Joel’s Bar. (9) and immediately invited RHB to come back with them to the Maybee Center and hold revival meetings there. Richard Roberts documented this experience, including his own reception of “holy laughter” on video tape which can still be purchased through their website.

Rodney Howard Browne at ORU -  Oral Roberts and Richard Roberts

It was the meetings in Tulsa that rocketed RHB to fame & Fortune and man of the charismatic glitterati came to the meetings to receive the latest work of the Spirit, including Charles and Francis Hunter aka, the “Happy Hunters” who went on the write a book and this latest outpouring of the Spirit entitled, “Holy Laughter.” (10)

The Hunters also brag: “The Spirit of God is swiftly moving in breathtaking and sometimes startling new ways, and people of every tongue and every nation are letting out what is on the inside of them…they are running at a fast pace to ‘Joel’s Bar’ where the drinks are free and there is no hangover!…one of today’s signs ‘in the earth beneath’ is the ‘holy laughter’ which is supernaturally overcoming people in services all over the world!” (11)

Do not lose the mindset of Pentecostalism; by this I mean the continual search for God’s power apart from His Word. It has been almost forty years since the massive ministry machines of the roving healing evangelists and now, via RHB, God was pouring something completely new and available to the average sign-seeking believer. Was this really the “new thing,” possibly the “last thing” Pentecostals had been seeking? Was this the sign that God was performing before the return of Jesus? High profile Pentecostal leaders didn’t want to get caught high-and dry if it was, so they began to chase the spiritual carrot on the stick RHB was dangling before their eyes. If the revival did not spread, they’d suffered no loss, they got their Gospel giggles. However, if it took off, then they could claim to be part of a historic spiritual event.

Word spread throughout American Pentecostalism while RHB was working his shtick at Oral’s conference center. In 1993, one pastor, who by his own admission, was on the verge of spiritual burnout, and suffering from depression was encouraged to make his pilgrimage down to Tulsa and receive this new anointing. (12) This pastor was Randy Clark, who led the Vineyard congregation in St. Louis, MO. Initially Mr. Clark was reluctant to go because he was not open to the Word of Faith movement being part of John Wimber’s Vineyard sect. (13) He ended up attending RHB’s meetings and after having RHB lay his hands on him many times Mr. Clark “received” the new wine and took this highly exportable experience back to his Vineyard Congregation. This new experience caused many sign-seekers in St. Louis to flock to his church. Remember the cardinal rule: If anything causes people to coe to your church then it is a good thing. With the injection of this unbiblical phenomenon into his sagging congregation Clark became the “go-to” guy for Vineyard congregations. This sudden growth in Clark’s congregation caused another Vineyard pastor, John Arnott to contact Clark and ask him to come up to Toronto and hold a series of meetings to help pump some life into his small congregation.

Randy came to Toronto and “imparted” the new wine to Arnott, his leaders and congregation members. From there, word began to spread about the new thing the Lord was doing in Toronto. Many people have wondered why the so-called “holy laughter revival” took off at this small church versus remaining centered around RHB. Part of the reason could be that the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship (TACF) was located near a large international airport and the Vineyard sect had many congregations across America and overseas. Whatever the reason, this much is sure what stared out from RHB quickly became know as the “Toronto Blessing.”

Tens of Thousands of people made their pilgrimage to TACF to receive the latest experience and take back to their own congregations, commonly referred to as spreading the fire due to highly contagious nature of these manifestations. Arnott quickly cast himself in the role of one who was pasturing the revival. One of the earliest countries affected by the latest outbreak of spiritual enthusiasm was England, Holy Trinity in Brompton to be specific. It was at Holy Trinity Church that a young American Assemblies of God evangelist received the Toronto blessing, his name was Steve Hill.

Steve Hill left England and came to an Assembly of God church in Brownsville, Florida that was being led by a pastor John Kilpatrick. On June 18, 1995, Steve Hill got up to preach his Father’s Day message and “revival” broke out in Brownsville AOG! Well at least that was what Kilpatrick and Hill wanted people to believe, I.e. that a spontaneous and sovereign move of the Holy Spirit had broken forth at Brownsville. The TRUTH of the matter is that prior to Hill’s arrival Kilpatrick’s wife and many leaders from Brownsville went to TACF to acquire the fire. (14) They showed videos to those who could not take time to Pilgrimage to TACF. In short, they primed the pump and built up the people’s expectations before Hill cscanhorsecarrot0001ame on the scene. When Hill arrived the “Lord” began to pour out His new wine.

True to form, over a million sign-seekers traversed land and sea, chasing the charismatic carrot-on-the-stick to get to Brownsville. Many had already been to Tulsa, then to Toronto and now to Brownsville. The same sort of thing happened forty years earlier when the healing hucksters roamed the nations. A.A. Allen would come to town, people would flock to his meetings for a touch from God’s man of the hour. Then Jack Coe would come next month, the same people would run to Coe’s meetings, from there to Oral Roberts tent when we came through. Always seeking and never receiving the thing promised (the proverbial carrot on the stick). This is nothing new, Jesus had to deal with sign-seekers in His ministry as well. Here is what our Master had to say;

Matthew 12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:

In reality this so-called latest outpouring has been anything but spontaneous or sovereign on God’s part. The manifestations proved to be highly transmittable, or the sign-seeking people seem to be highly suggestible in being willing to believe something divine is being given to them. The following flow chart demonstrates the human chain of transmission regarding the Holy Laughter revival aka the Toronto Blessing aka The Brownsville Outpouring:

The Unbroken Chain of HUMAN Transmission of the “New Wine”

Δ

Rodney Howard Brown

The Carpenter’s Church

Then to Oral & Richard Roberts, ORU Convention Center

Randy Clark gets the blessing

Taken it to St. Louis

Randy then goes to Toronto Airport Christian Church (TACF)

                                                                                           ↓

John Arnott, Leader of TACF hypes it to the Charismatic world

Holy Trinity Brompton Bestows blessing to Steve Hill

Steve Hill takes it to Brownsville/Pensacola, Florida AOG church

Brownsville promotes the new experience to over a million people

All these leaders end up leaving their ministries within 5 years

Revival over, dead in the water, fini!

Millions of sign-seekers left with nothing but spiritual ennui & they are praying desperately to learn what the next “move” of God will be!

Stay Tuned Campers!

scandemonsofstupidity0001

The experience in Toronto and Brownsville were never equated as the same type of revival by both sets of leaders. The Toronto Blessing seemed to appeal more to the various charismatic sects, whereas the Pensacola Outpouring was initially geared towards attracting the classic Pentecostal denominations, beginning with the Assembly of God Rodney Howard Brown never spoke nor imparted anything at either church during their simultaneous moves of the Spirit. There are at least two reasons why RHB never was invited to participate in these massive meetings: (1) the leaders at TAFC & BAG wanted to keep the illusion that what was taking place in their midst was a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit and (2) neither group fully embraced many of the concepts espoused by the Word of Faith movement of which RHB was a member. I have thoroughly examined this so-called revival from start to finish and there are simply no accounts of “holy laughter” simply breaking out in congregations. Every instance I know of, which is quite a few of them, these manifestations were brought into congregations by leaders or individuals who received an “impartation” at some other vortex of delusion.

From about 1995 to 2000 both groups (and many other smaller congregations) tried to keep the revival fire stoked with everything from holding spiritual drunkards conferences, (15) reports of God filling peoples teeth with gold and platinum, reports of diamonds and precious stones appearing in various sanctuaries and even reports of angels feathers being found after worship!

However, as with the Azusa meetings, the Healing revival, the Catholic charismatic renewal movement and lastly the Holy Laughter revival…the enthusiasm died down and a great emptiness filled the lives of millions of sign-seekers. This sense of lack is what I refer to as a spiritual hangover. The “party” was over, uncontrollable laughing, hopping up and down and falling into cataleptic trances on the floor (aka doing “carpet time”) was passé. Like a junkie experiencing withdrawal the sign-seeker was left asking “where is the next high”?

What about the leaders of this move of God? They were and are responsible for all the bold claims they made to millions regarding the fad they were promoting. They claimed people needed to come to their centers and receive what God was currently doing. And come they did, often at great personal expense and they left with their impartations of new wine and took them back to their home congregations. From our research virtually every congregation that embraced this delusion ended up in a church split. (16)

John Arnott more or less abdicated his role at TACF, he is still there, but he is busy these days trying to discern what the next “big” thing is via a para-church ministry sponsored by TACF. TACF is back down to a small church size, gone are the thousands of daily visitors from around the world.

John Kilpatrick? Oh, he moved on (or was moved out) from serving as Pastor at the Brownsville Assembly of God church. Once the hoopla that he touted ended, so did his role as pastor. Kilpatrick now heads up “John Kilpatrick Ministries and will be opening an independent church called “the Church of His Presence,” in AL. (17)

Steve Hill? Well old stevie was the first to bail out from BAG when he quickly noticed that the “cloud had moved on.” His job was done, he’d fleeced all the pockets he could and it was time to take the money and run. Today Hill has turned in his “evangelist” hat and has opted to pastor an independent church called “Heartland Fellowship Church” located in Texas. (18)

Lindel Cooley, the highly “anointed” music/worship leader at Brownsville, he took off right after Mr. Hill and now operates “Music Missions International.” On his website he declares that the Brownsville revival is the longest running revival in American history, which is simply a lie. (19) What of the father of this current strain of insanity, Mr. Rodney Howard Brown? RHB, although the man who can rightly claim to be the initiator of the enthusiasm, quickly became a bit-player and faded from prominence. He too dropped the evangelist role and decided to become a pastor. Currently he is the head of “The River Church” another independent congregation. By the way, he continually refers to himself as “Doctor” RHB. This too is a lie. He received a doctorate from the School of Bible Theology in San Jacinto, CA. This is a diploma mill. Not only were the manifestations he foisted upon millions spurious, his own educational and some of his ministerial background is equally fallacious.

I close this article out by simply asking — what good fruit came from this revival?” None that I can discern. At worst, millions of people were duped into accepting possible demonic activity into their lives and at best people simply emptied their minds and gave themselves over to fleshly indulgence disguised as the work of the Spirit.  Churches were split, lifelong friendships and more then a few marriages were destroyed.

All those who ran to TACF or BAG are left today wondering what the next “great” thing will be. Many are disenchanted with Church and church leaders. Especially when it became well publicized how wealthy Arnott, Kilpatrick, Hill, Cooley and others became due to the revival.

What can we learn from past and this most recent “revival”? Keeping in mind that all the Pentecostal revivals have at their root a belief in restoration within the Church it must be stated that Jesus Christ is still Head of the Church, which is His body (read Eph. 5:23). God’s plan for His people has continued since He conceived it. Fallen humanity and all the demons of hell cannot detour what God has ordained. Christ Jesus has lost nothing pertaining to His Body (read John 6:39).

There is not one genuine spiritual benefit to the Church from any of these revivals from Azusa to this current time. All of the people who laughed uncontrollably are not any more sanctified today than prior to their fits of laughing. The thousands who spent hours in catatonic paralytic fits on sanctuary floors are no more “powerful” in Christ today than prior to their temporary psychotic breaks with normal reality. No great biblical insights were granted to any of the so-called restored apostles or prophets due to these meetings. No further true unity (20) was developed and sustained due to the revival. Upon close examination the Toronto Blessing and Pensacola outpouring were much a due about nothing.

Probably the most important lesson that can be gleaned from this most recent example of excess is that need for the people of God to look to the Holy Scriptures alone and find in them all they need to give a godly and spiritually prosperous life. There is no such thing as a spiritual “quick fix” {unless you are a spiritual jukie, seeking the next high}. Spiritual maturity takes a lifetime, no one can mystically impart it to you anymore than someone can make you a prophet by laying their hands on you. It is an honorable desire to want to be used of our Lord in a mighty way. Sadly, many think “mighty” means becoming the next charismatic superstar, when in our Lord’s eyes being mighty may be serving as a faithful janitor in your local church. Those who are running hither-thither and yon after the anointing, sincere as they may be, are probably some of the least productive people in the Kingdom. I end by saying grow where you are planted, be faithful in promoting God’s work, attend Bible study, share your faith at home and work, prey for your bothers and sisters…This will not only make you a vessel of honor, but will also keep you from ever-suffering from a spiritual hangover! ♦

scanleadersofthenewwine0001

Copyright © 2006  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. I am using “Pentecostal” in the article to refer to all the branches of this aspect of religion. It includes the entire charismatic movement (yes, I know there is a difference between classic Pentecostalism and charismatic groups), i.e. the Word of Faith, Prophetic, Apostolic, Signs and Wonders and basic run-of-the-mill sign gift sects.

2. Let me be clear in stating that I believe in the imminent return of Christ for His Church. He could come before you finish this issue. I do not predicate my belief on anything I see going on in the Church, or the world, simply on His promise in the Bible.

3. Bill Hamon is a false prophet and prolific writer. He holds traveling school’s where one can learn to be a prophet of the Lord. He is the product of a Latter Rain sect and he has been trumpeting their aberrant doctrine for 20+ years now.

4. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Howard_Browne.

5. Obtained from http://www.revival.com/www/r.asp?p=11, RHB’s official website.

6. Burns, Cathy. Unholy Laughter Part One

7. A similar occurrence transpired at the Vineyard Church led by the late John Wimber. A meeting was taking place, people began to laugh uncontrollably so Wimber, who was no stranger to odd manifestations, had the laughing people brought forward and he and his leaders attempted to cast the “demons” out of these people. When they failed in the deliverance attempts, Wimber declared that what was taking place was of the Holy Spirit since they were powerless to stop the laughing.

8 Obtained from http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/holylaugh.htm.

9. RHB became know as “God’s Bartender” and he referred to this novel experience (at least in our time) as getting drunk at Joel’s Bar, a reference to the prophecy in Joel which has been repeatedly re-fulfilled by every enthusiastic movement since the true Pentecost in the Book of Acts.

10. Hunter, Charles and Francis, Holy Laughter, Hunter Publishing, 1994.

11. Tarkowski, Ed. The Laughing Phenomena: From South Africa to St. Louis to Toronto to Your Church (Part 1), The Christian Conscience (February 1995, Vol. 1 No. 2) p. 25. Bold type added.

12. Obtained from http://www.geocites.com/heartland/plains/4948/vine3is5.html.

13. It is important to keep in mind that a few years back (80’s and 90’s) there was little agreement between the various Pentecostal/charismatic camps. Shepherding folks did not buy into Word of Faith concepts. Classic Pentecostal denominations did not believe that most non-traditional Pentecostal people had the genuine “Holy Ghost.” Wimber’s Vineyard was a bit of a melting pot of Later Rain/Prophetic/Signs and Wonders, but in general was not into the name-it-and-claim-it people. It was not until recently, post Holy Laughter phenomena, that all of these groups are coalescing into a miasma of error.

14. Cathy Wood, a member of the Brownsville Revival, has written many articles proclaiming the link between the two movements. She and many other Brownsville Revival members attribute the coming of revival to the visits that the pastor’s wife and the worship leader, Lindel Cooley, paid to the Toronto Blessing. Many of the members felt that the anointing that both had received from the Toronto Blessing provided them with the spirit of revival to bring back to Brownsville ( http://ww.pen.net/~crow/proof.html ) Evangelist Steve Hill also met Sandy Miller, the pastor at the Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in London, where manifestations are also occurring. He was refreshed by Sandy Miller beore he came to Brownsville and began the revival. In his church now almost identical manifestations are taking place. (http://crash.ihug.co.nz/pensa.html) Obtained from http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Brownsv.html

15. My wife and I personally observed one such conference at TACF where the people came from all over the world to receive the new wine to such an extent that it paralleled physical drunkenness. The same type of thing was promoted at BAG as well.

16. I have documented this in our book “Fruit Proof” which is filled with eyewitness accounts from various charismatic and Pentecostal people caught up in the madness. This book is offered in this month’s issue.

17. Obtained from http://www.partnersinrevival.org/index.htm.

18. See his web site at http://www.heartlandfamily.com/

19. http://www.mmi-inc.com/discography.htm.

20. I say “true unity” because biblical unity is based only upon agreement with the Word of God.

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