Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned?

25 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – May 2009 – Vol. 14  Issue 5 – Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned? – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Did I sit on the sidelines while the playing field burned?

By Chris Elrod

Last Thursday night I got “the call”. My friend and fellow Lakeland pastor let me know that the news about Todd Bentley…the news that had circulated around Lakeland for weeks…was finally about to break. For months it had been rumors…with very little hard facts to back it up. Local church leaders had been hearing things about Todd…and Ignited Church…that caused us to question even more the validity of the “revival”. Then the truth began to come out bit by bit…first to Lakeland…then the world…and now Todd’s wife was in Canada getting help while he was “floating around” the United States trying to get his head together. Yes Todd had been convicted of molesting a 7-year-old boy in Canada. Yes Todd was legally separating from his wife. Yes there is an another women involved. Yes this was not the first time Todd had been involved with another woman. Yes Todd and Ignited Church had failed to address concerns …many being voiced by their own denomination and people that support such Charismatic outpourings…about the heresy being preached and displayed at the “revival”. Yes there was not one single medical document to prove that any healings had actually taken place. Yes the media could find no one…not one single person…to come forward and say they had been healed during the “revival”.

As the fall out continues and more facts are beginning to emerge about everyone involved with this mess, I have begun to ask myself some pretty hard questions. Did I handle this correctly?

When the first news began to break around here about Todd, healings and the revival…I went to see it for myself. In all I attended four separate “revival” meetings over a two month period. I also watched countless hours of the events on the internet. I witnessed Todd hollering “BAM” a lot. I witnessed “verification teams” in the parking lot carefully choosing people deemed candidates for “healing” while turning many others down. I watched ushers push ill children away from the state area because they had not been reproved for “healing”. I heard stories about pixie-dust spreading angels and conversations with the Apostles in some abstract heavenly cabin. I saw leg drops, high kicks, head punches and every other Wrestlemania cliché under the sun. I heard anonymous crazy stories about people being healed and others being raised from the dead. I heard and saw many strange things…but nothing that even remotely kept with sound doctrine. Every Biblical discerning bone in my body showed me that there was nothing going on at the “revival” that was in keeping with God’s Word.

I began to speak out against the revival, Todd and Ignited church to our people. Mainly it was through our Journey Groups, one-on-one conversations, phone calls and emails. However, I was advised by several other pastors not to speak out against it publicly because “I might be speaking against something that God is actually doing” (I wasn’t questioning God…I was questioning Todd). Therefore I never addressed it from the pulpit because our pod cast is heard by hundreds of people all over the world. I never blogged about it because I get a 1,000+ hits on a normal day. I dodged the questions about the “revival” from other folks all over the world. In essence I protected my flock from the three-ring circus and hoopla…but did nothing to protect the body as a whole.

Hindsight they say is 20/20. It now turns out that all of the rumors were true. It now turns out that the Scriptural discernment was correct. It now turns out that this was the same hyper-Charismatic craziness without accountability that the leadership of the sponsoring church is known for. The three ring circus has been packed up, the tents have been taken down, the moral failure has been announcement, everyone involved is pushing back and thousands of hurting people are left questioning God and their salvation. The question that I now have to ask myself…the question that will haunt me for quite a while is…did I sit on the sideline while the playing field burned? Should have I blogged about it…spoken out about it publicly…done more to get the word out to the rest of the world that this whole thing was about Todd and not God? I took care of my own house…but should I have done more to take care of the entire neighborhood?

______________________________________

Discernment Ministries International rejoices that Pastor Elrod’s vocal cords have been “loosed” to speak the truth and expose error. Sadly, as DMI shared a few months ago, Mr. Bentley is in the process of being “restored” by another self-proclaimed apostle and he will no doubt be unleashed upon the Church to prey on the desperate and ignorant in our midst.

Pastor Elrod’s last sentence is very meaningful to me because he has stated exactly what the problem is within the Church today. Too many pastors are content to feed their flock and DO and SAY nothing about the ravening wolves attacking millions of professing believers. The mindset is sort of like “you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.

The sad fact is that the heretics and blasphemers are affecting all of us. Oh maybe not directly in our local congregations, but I know very few people who do not have family members, who are “faithfully” being instructed in error by Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn and others. There are very few Christian television programs that are doctrinally sound, and very slim pickings on Christian radio as well. Just go to your local Christian bookstore and see whose books they are promoting or how much shelf space is dedicated to the charismatic movement.

John Donne said it best when he said “no man is an island,” and so it is within the church. We are our brother’s keeper and God expects (and will hold us accountable) for us to warn those who are in sin {Eze. 3:18} and error. We are to rebuke those who are misleading others (Titus 2:15}. We are to correct those who err {2 Tim. 4:2}.

Brothers and sisters more than ever with what is transpiring within the Church and politically that “TRUTH MATTERS.” Our voice in Teaching Truth and Exposing Error was almost silenced recently due to a lack of financial support.

Because of a faithful few DMI has been able to get the newsletter back in circulation…BUT our website is still own and we would really like to see it up and running again so that millions of people can have access to literally 1,000’s of pages of documentation showing the abysmal lack of biblical support for the madness infecting millions of professing believers.

WE NEED YOUR FAITHFUL SUPPORT LIKE NEVER BEFORE. PLEASE HELP KEEP OUR “VOICE” FROM BEING SILENCED

 





Towering Todd Topples

8 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2008   Vol. 13   Issue 9  -Towering Todd Topples –  By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Towering Todd Topples

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

In my previous article dealing with Todd Bentley’s “commissioning” as an apostle you read some of the swelling words spoken over him by various false prophets and false apostles. In a matter of a few short weeks God has chosen to pull the plug on Todd the fraud by exposing him internationally and shutting down the so called “revival” in Lakeland, FL. In doing so our Lord has also shown those who commissioned Bentley at best lack discernment and at worst to be frauds themselves (both statements are true). It seems Bentley, according to his SINistry website had to step down because:

We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors an to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life. (1)

Fresh Fire denies any sexual impropriety on Bentley’s part but what saith the Scriptures? “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:27-28). Let me make it perfectly clear that we all commit sin, none of us is neither perfect nor will achieve perfection in this life. Please understand that I am not “casting stones” at Bentley’s fall.

What I do want to focus on is the sad history of virtually everyone who has claimed to be a prophet of God or an apostle of the Lamb within the neo-Montanist movement, i.e. Pentecostalism in general. Todd is just the most recent example of someone who thought more highly of himself than he ought a clear violation of Romans 12:3.

I will take you through just a cursory look at some of the “giants” of Pentecostalism, men and woman who claimed to be on a higher level with God than others, people who claimed to have a special fellowship with the Holy Spirit who allegedly empowered them with supernatural gifts. Each of these people were and still are highly revered (if Pentecostals had saints, these folks would surely be among them) as examples of godly leadership. You judge for yourself if they meet the biblical qualifications of a leader. These folks are listed in somewhat of a chronological order. I begin with the modern granddaddy of charismatic chicanery John Alexander Dowie.

A Short Walk Among the Giants of Pentecostalism

“Apostle” John Alexander Dowie, was originally from Scotland but ended up here in America just outside of Chicago where he founded his city of God on earth, Zion, IL. Dowie was one of American’s earliest healing evangelists and when he founded Zion he became deluded and actually thought he was the second coming of Elijah! I personally heard Lester Sumrall (2) speaking about Dowie and he said that Dowie’s problem (apart from thinking he was Elijah) was that he loved money. After declaring himself to be Elijah he was stricken with a stoke and died within months of the Azusa revival

The spiritual oversight of Zion then fell into the hands of a man name Finis Dake, of the Dake Bible fame (the highly esteemed Bible used by many Pentecostals to this day). All I will say about Mr. Dake is that he was arrested for taking an underage girl across state lines, checking into a hotel with her under false names (a single room). Dake, like Todd claimed no adultery took place. Nonetheless, he became a convicted felon and lost the leadership of Zion (some giant, eh?).

Aimee Semple McPherson is unique among the healing hucksters in that she eventually founded her own denomination, the Foursquare Gospel Church, which exists to this day. She was a good looking flamboyant woman preacher who flew in the face of the religious notions of her day. She was America’s first mega-church pastor, was on the forefront of radio ministry and she set the pace for the women preachers who followed her. However, she had many moral problems. She was an adulteress, who faked her own kidnapping to be with her lover, these facts are all well documented in books, videos and on the internet. “Sister” Aimee died in 1944 of a barbiturate overdose, some say it was accidental, but for one who proclaimed “Christ the Healer” why did she need any barbiturates to begin with?

A.A. Allen was well known for his outlandish behavior on stage during his healing revival meetings (truly Mr. Bentley there is nothing new under the sun Ecc. 1:9). Allen claims to have locked himself in a closet and fasted and prayed until God revealed to him His miracle working power. God is supposed to have given Allen a list of several works one had to do in order to be used by God to work miracles. Allen never revealed the last step to his followers! GASP!!! He falsely prophesied the destruction of America on July 4, 1954 and the following year he fled the state of Tennessee following being arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence). In 1970 Allen was discovered in the Jack Tar motel, dead of an alcohol and drug overdose. His death was not revealed for several days while his two henchmen decided how to divvy up Allen’s SINistries spoils, those men were no less than Don Stewart and R.W. Schamback, both current televangelists, both still playing off Allen’s “fame” as a healer.

Leroy Jenkins jumped onto the traveling healing gig after allegedly being healed at an A.A. Allen meeting in 1960. Jenkins is probably one of the most controversial figures in the charismatic movement. Leroy is a convicted felon for his arson conviction of burning down a State trooper’s home, he was sentenced to twelve years in prison in 1979. (3) Leroy has also had issues with drugs and alcohol, like his mentor A.A. Allen. “According to the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Jenkins was arrested on more than one occasion on drug and alcohol related charges while in the ministry, and divorced his wife.” (4) More recently he married a handicapped elderly black woman in Las Vegas (who just happened to win a huge lottery prize):

The thrice married evangelist is said to ‘combine a little bit of Jesus, and a little bit of Elvis.’ His Las Vegas controversial marriage last Jan 12 (later annulled) 16 days after his 71 year old bride’s husband died, drew charges from her family that Jenkins wanted her fortune of about $4 million (8/4 Huntsville Times). (5)

I’ve seen Mr. Jenkins “perform” live on several occasions and I must admit he is every bit the showman that Benny Hinn is but on a much smaller platform. Married three times he and Mr. Tilton have that in common along with other noxious behaviors.

Paul Cain

“Prophet” Paul Cain  was at best a “bit player” in the 1950’s healing revival, tagging along with such giants as William Branham, A.A. Allen and the other fakes, frauds and healing hucksters of that time. He dropped out of sight towards the end of that phase of excited ignorance only to be brought back into the limelight by John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement  (Wimber later died due to a Chinese cancer spirit). Cain was highly regarded as the most accurate prophet alive (remember anything less than 100% accuracy biblically makes one a false prophet)! It was finally discovered by some of his fellow travelers that Cain was not all that moral of a man and they were forced to admit it on the Moringstar website:

In February 2004, we were made aware that Paul had become an alcoholic. In April 2004, we confronted Paul with evidence that he had recently been involved in homosexual activity. Paul admitted to these sinful practices and was placed under discipline, agreeing to a process of restoration, which the three of us would oversee. However, Paul has resisted this process and has continued in his sin…With our deepest regrets and sincerity, Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Mike Bickle.” http://www.morningstarministries.org/oages/speacial-bulleu.ns/0ct_19.html (6)

DMI dealt with Mr. Cain in 2004 when this was brought to light. Cain in his 70’s did not “recently” become involved in homosexual activity. No one just suddenly after 70 years of living and almost 55 of those years in ministry “recently” becomes an active homosexual. One last thing about the prophet Cain he might be well remembered as the man who prophesied that President Bill Clinton would take America into a great revival….what does “is” mean Mr. Cain?

“Prophet” Bob Jones  was one of the famed “Kansas City Prophets” of the Vineyard fame. “He was said to have been especially anointed with supernatural visions from the Lord and a prophetic gift.” If someone can convince an individual that they are a prophet of God then great spiritual harm can come upon that person (remember the “prophet” Jim Jones?). This is exactly what happened in Mr. Jones case. “Two women came forward in 1991 and told Vineyard leaders that Jones had used his prophetic authority to touch and fondle them sexually. (8) Like Bentley he too denied that he committed adultery with these deceived women. “In recent months, I have manipulated certain people for selfish reasons on the basis of my prophetic gifting.” Jones said in a statement that he dictated and signed before the Metro Vineyard Fellowship senior leadership on November 4, 1991“I have been guilty of sexual misconduct and I deeply regret this. (I have not committed adultery).

Benny “the Healer” Hinn   is well known around the world for his miracle crusades which he conducts almost monthly. Hinn has been conducting these crusades for many years and by now ought to have a warehouse full of documented miracles and healings. Yet after over ten plus years of “miracle” crusades the only genuine miracle is the fact that people still attend his meetings at all! DMI has established in the past that we can prove in a court of law that more people have died attending his crusades than he can prove have been healed. Mr. Hinn’s major moral problem is that he is a liar and false prophet (not to mention a false healer). Hinn has lied about a person being raised from the dead in Nigeria. He is on record of lying in the name of the Lord in several recorded prophecies over the years. Yet in spite of being a proven liar he is still a regular guest on TBN, unfortunately the largest Christian television company in the world. Even though he cannot document any genuine miracles in his meetings he continues to pack arenas around the world and siphon off millions of dollars from legitimate Church work. Probably the best documented resource regarding Mr. Hinn is the book entitled “The Confusing World of Benny Hinn” Published by Personal Freedom Outreach (www.pfo.org) DMI also offers a DVD on Mr. Hinn which exposes him for the fraud he is.

Lest We Forget the Television Superstars

Bentley can be added among the televangelists due to his man-made revival was televised on God T.V. and on the internet via You Tube from start to stop. It appears he has much in common with other infamous charismatic television leaders.

Peter Popoff

Peter Popoff is back like a bad penny. Back in the late 1980’s his alleged gifts of the “word of knowledge” and “word of wisdom” (1 Cor. 12:8) were exposed as being  fraudulent by former stage magician:

His earlier claims were debunked in 1987 when noted skeptic James Randi and his assistant, Steve Shaw, researched Popoff by attending shows across the country for months. They discovered that radio transmission were being sent by Peter’s wife, Elizabeth Popoff, where she was reading information which she and her aides (Volmer Thrane, the brother of his manger Nancy Thrane, and Reeford Sherrill) had gathered from earlier conversations with members of the audience. Popoff would simply listen to these promptings with his in-ear receiver and repeat what he heard to the crowd. After tapes of these transmissions were played on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Popoff’s popularity and viewing audiences declined sharply, and his ministry declared bankruptcy later that year. (10)

The expose on Popoff did not keep him off the pimping platform for very long. He can still be seen on early morning cable stations and still travels around the world fleecing the needy with false promises of healing and prosperity….laughing all the way to the bank. One way he gets his money is by sending out monthly “point-of-contact” items that when sent back to his SINistry with a donation will produce a host of blessings in the faithful devotee’s life. There are serious doubts that Mr. Popoff is saved (the Lord only knows). This much is certain, DMI prays he repents of his wickedness and is turned to Christ.

Robert Tilton

Robert Tilton was one of the first charismatic mega-church pastors, I’ve meet him in person, attended his Bible school in the 1980’s and I have written the only book exposing him for what he is — a false teacher and false prophet. One thing folks today do not realize is that for several years Mr. Tilton was the darling of the charismatic movement and helped launch several prominent SINistries today including Marilyn Hickey. He was exposed as a fraud by the Trinity Foundation in 1991 on the PrimeTime Live television program:

In 1991, ABC-TV’s “PrimeTime Live” program reported that Tilton’s Word of Faith World Outreach Center Church, then based in Dallas, was making $80 million a year from followers through its direct mail campaign. At the time, Tilton’s television show, “Success-N-Life” was broadcast by 200 stations nationwide and his church claimed 10,000 members. “PrimeTime Live” suggested Tilton’s ministry engaged in mail fraud and showed contributors’ letters, many of them requests for help, in a trash Dumpster outside Commercial Bank of Tulsa A Tulsa recycler said he also found thousands of prayer requests for Tilton’s ministry among the waste sent to him by a company that handled Tilton’s mail. The program sparked an investigation by the Texas attorney general and numerous lawsuits. Stations canceled Tilton’s television program until it eventually went off the air. (12)

Shortly after several court cases against Mr. Tilton he jettisoned his first wife, Marte, of over twenty years and married Leigh Valentine, whom Tilton divorced in less than two years. Currently he is on third wife, Maria Rodriguez who shows up on his television shows. Tilton lost his appeal to other charismatic leaders once his empire began to fall, but he has not lost his television appeal. Even though he is a proven fraud, false teach and false prophet he still is bilking millions of dollars from his television audience.

More than 10 years after his ministry collapsed in scandal, Robert Tilton is reaching millions of television viewers with his pitches for money, living comfortably in south Florida and maintaining a connection with Tulsa. Far from shrinking into obscurity, Tilton is reaping millions from his mailing list and daily shows on Black Entertainment Television. He has formed two companies, bought a 50-foot yacht and purchased a $1.3 million piece of oceanfront property in Miami Beach through his company, records show. (13)

Tilton feeds off the poorest of the poor making swelling promises to them and giving them nothing but a false hope in a false Gospel message. One closing thought, even though all other charismatic leaders jettisoned their allegiance to Tilton NONE of them has ever publicly rebuked him or spoken out against his excesses.

Jim Bakker was the darling of Christian television, he and his wife, Tammy Faye, were far bigger than Paul and Jan Crouch at the time. Long story short (due to space) we all probably remember his adulterous affair with Jessica Hahn, his conviction and prison sentence for defrauding his donors and his divorce from Tammy Faye. Unlike anyone else in this article Mr. Bakker seems to be the only one who genuinely repented of his sins, even though he has not changed too much of his theological stance and is attempting a television comeback via “prophet” Rick Joyner and others.

Jimmy Swaggart

Jimmy Swaggart  was another Pentecostal superstar whose moral failings brought him down, but not out of the limelight. Swaggart called Bakker a “cancer in the Body of Christ” due to his sexual dalliance with Ms. Hahn. Yet while Swaggart was making his charges he was involved with a prostitute and wanted her to allow him to take pictures of her and her young daughter in sexually compromising positions! Not only that he has admitted to being addicted to pornography — “When confronted by the Assemblies of God leadership, Jimmy had no choice but to confess. He told them that he suffered a lifelong addiction to pornography.”  (14)

In 1989, there were further allegations from a woman named Catherine Campen regarding an extramarital affair with Swaggart. But that wasn’t the end; a routine stop for speeding in 1991 led to the discovery that Mr. Swaggart was with another prostitute named Rosemary Garcia. But what most probably remember about Swaggart was his tearful “confession” (although he never specified his “sin” ) before millions of television viewers when he asked forgiveness of God and his wife. Swaggart was eventually defrocked by the Assemblies of god church after he refused to accept a two-year ban from televangelism, stating that “If I do not return to the pulpit this weekend, millions of people will go to hell. (15)

So much for humility! Last time I saw Jimmy he did not have any holes in his hands, i.e. he is not the Savior. At one time Swaggart was so big he had his own zip code in LA. Today after being exposed on several occasions with women of the night Swaggart’s empire is just a shadow of its former monolithic size.

How Is This Explained?

Robert Liardon

These moral and spiritual failings are so egregious that they cannot be hidden in a corner so some type of explanation has to be given to account for them. Roberts LIARdon created a series of videos entitled “God’s Generals,” which on the whole was a decent historical look at most of the above and several other questions leaders. When it came to the moral failings LIARdon addressed them in a unique manner. His position is that these men and women simply could not stand the weight of glory and the power of the anointing God had placed on them. When on the platform they were “giants” but when they stepped off of it, they were just regular folks because God’s power lifted off of them until the next time they ministered.

Many charismatic/sign-gift believers are experience junkies (I know I was) going from one mystical encounter to the next, always looking for a stronger “high.” For LIARdon these leaders simply replaced the high they got from the anointing to one of drugs, alcohol, sex, money or fame. According to LIARdon these folks simply did not know how to operate under the power of God.

That is a convenient explanation when we consider the fact that Mr. LIARdon was exposed as a homosexual by DMI several years ago, he and his Youth Minister (who fled the country to Central America). LIARdon’s grandmother defended Robert by basically rebuking his congregation fro not “covering him in prayer.” Robert was attacked by Satan to destroy his testimony and the valuable work he was doing for the Kingdom of God. Several years later LIARdon is back, teaching people how to withstand the attacks of Satan. What Robert fails to admit in his series is the terrible nature of these sins nor does he explain how or why these people fell into them. This much is certain —sound doctrine when acted upon produces a solid and godly Christian life. All of these “giants” past and present were and are not anchored doctrinally.

In Closing

The listing I have provided is by no means extensive (space does not permit looking at William Branham, Oral Roberts, Larry Lea, Kathryn Kuhlman, etc.) but it does hold up to the light some of the “best and the brightest” within the Pentecostal (sign-gift) camp. This list is not a cherry-picked straw man attempt on my part to railroad the enthusiasts among us.

Brothers and sisters for the most part every person cited is revered by millions of people as a giant person of faith and power. Books and videos lauding John Alexander Dowie, William Branham, A.A. Allen, Aimee McPherson and others abound. Yet what do we really have here in the lives of these leaders? We find homosexuality (I could mention and Ted Haggard here), often multiple divorces, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, adultery on the moral end of the Lord and a love of money on the spiritual side of the equation.

Now we learn that the latest restored apostle is in fact in need of restoration himself! His marriage, unfortunately, has been on the rocks for three years…but none of the restored apostles or prophets seemed to have had any revelation concerning Todd’s problems. If ones personal life is in shambles how can one be a leader in the house of God.

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 1 Timothy 3:1-12

Todd and the other “giants” of Pentecostalism do not even meet the requirements to serve as a deacon in a local church let alone serve as apostles or prophets! What is deeply troubling is that one cannot be a leader without followers. It does not matter what claims anyone makes if no one is willing to believe the claims.

The problem is that so many people are biblically ignorant that they cannot recognize a false teacher or prophet when they stand before them. Anyone with a sound doctrinal foundation can easily point out the purveyors of heresy and false practices. This is why this newsletter is entitled: “Truth Matters” because it is the truth of God that will set us free (see John 8:31-32) just as ignorance or misapplication of God’s Word will put us in bondage. Pray for these self-appointed leaders and more importantly pray for the millions of people who slavishly follow them. It is our prayer that one day they will take their focus off of sinful man and look upon Jesus the true Author and Finisher of their faith (Heb 12:2).  ♦

Copyright ©  2008 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.freshfire.ca/ on Sept 03, 2008 Underlining added for emphasis.

2. Lester Sumrall was a Pentecostal evangelist who by in-large was pretty sound biblically at least in comparison to the others. I meet Smrall personally and had him lay hands on me to “impart” some of his anointing many years ago before I knew better.

3. See further J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions. Tarrytown, NY; Triumph Books, 1991, Vol. 1, pp, 258-259

4. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, op. cit., pg 480.

5. Jerry Huffman, Editor, Calvary Contender, “Leroy Jenkins, ‘Faith Healer,” Vol. XVIII, No. 17, Sept 1 2001

6. Obtained from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrell19.html on Sept 03, 2008

7. Excerpted from “Heaven Can’t Wait” by William M. Alnor, 1996.

8. Ibid

9. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.

10. Randi, James (1989) The Faith Healers. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-535-0 pages 141.

11. DMI has the only book in print on the doctrine of point-of-contact entitiled “Does the bible Support A Doctrine Called Point -of-Contact.” It is filled with many full color plates and is available for $25.00 per copy.

12. Obtained from http://www.trintiyfI.org/press/tulsaworld02.html

13. Ibid.

14. Obtained from http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/religion/televangelists/jimmy-swaggart/.

15 Obtained from http://rainbowsendpress.com/exposed/swaggart.html on 04-08.





The Coming Great Awakening

23 12 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – August 2007 -Vol. 12 Issue 8 – The Coming Great Awakening – By Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Coming Great Awakening

By Robert S. Liichow

“IT IS TRUE THAT AMERICA IS IN A DESPERATE SPIRITUAL CRISIS. BUT, I HAVE ASSURANCE THAT WE ARE ON A COLLISION COURSE WITH GOD’S REVIVAL POWER.”

RODNEY H. BROWNE

In May 2007 I wrote about Steve Hill’s claim that the greatest outpouring of all times was about to occur…this revelation was based on nothing more than his own opinion. Now Charisma magazine is touting Rodney Howard Browne’s (RHB) assertion that America is on the verge of a third “Great Awakening.” Unlike Hill’s proclamation, Browne bases his belief on a “higher” authority, i.e. some comments President George Bush made at a luncheon back in September o 2006. President Bush said that he felt that America was on the brink of a third great awakening.

In my days as a former charismatic extremist we would often be told that spiritual experiences, be they prophetic words, dreams, visions or new revelations must be authenticated/established by at least two witnesses, preferably three. We got this concept from the following text:

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. Deut. 19:15

With Steve Hill’s declaration of the coming “greatest” revival and now Rodney Howard-Browne’s assertion of a third “great awakening” many charismatic sign-gift folks are beginning to salivate over the coming next great move of the Spirit. Using the charismatic paradigm I guess it is going to happen. Or is it? What if your witnesses are proven liars? What would two liars establish other than more lies? Why should anyone believe these two SINisters in particular especially in light of their forays into deception and well documented money-grubbing in the 1990’s?

Consider the Source

Rodney Howard-Browne aka “the Holy Ghost Bartender” is the individual who popularized the anti-biblical manifestation commonly known as holy laughter. RHB came to America from South Africa in 1989. He began as an itinerate preacher and as he was preaching about hell in Albany, New York in April, 1989 people began to spontaneously break out into uncontrollable laughter (some people cried as well). The harder RHB preached about eternal damnation the more people began to laugh. Without going any further one would think that if people responded with uproarious laughter at the topic of hell and damnation that surely Satan was at work and not the Holy Spirit.

Yet RHB was not as surprised as he would like us to believe. DMI has in its film archive a clip of Benny Hinn ministering in South Africa in the mid 1980’s People are laughing and Benny is seen & heard declaring “this is holy laughter, holy laughter.” RHB is not seen in the clip, but it is extremely likely that he was there because not long after his meetings in New York RHB took his show on the road down south to Florida, starting off with a meeting at Hinn’s former Orlando Christian Center in 1992. (1) From there RHB moved to Carl Straders “Carpenter’s House Church” in Lakeland, FL. And there RHB held “revival” meetings from 1993-94.

By RHB had incorporated his fledgling SINistry (after all the donations were on the rise) and a good thing too because at Lakeland RHB and his new “move” of the Spirit caught the eye and ear of Oral and Richard Roberts. They came to the meetings, received the “new wine” and prevailed upon RHB to come back to Tulsa with them. It was during the Tulsa meetings that Vineyard Pastor Randy Clarke who admitted he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Clarke got the “blessing” and took the highly portable and contagious delusion with him up to another Vineyard pastor friend’s church in Toronto. Once holy laughter broke out at the Toronto Vineyard church it morphed into what became known as the “Toronto Blessing” and the rest is charismatic extremist history.

RHB had initially claimed that he was a former associate pastor of a Rhema Church (aka Kenneth E. Hagin/Word of Faith cult congregation) in South Africa; this lie can be seen in his earlier book publications.

It is to be noted that Howard-Browne’s standard biography claims he once served as an associate pastor at Rhema. But according to Rhema church officials contacted, Howard-Browne was never an associate pastor-nor did he ever hold any pastoral credentials or responsibilities. Said Kelmeyer “Rodney was never an associate pastor here. He was an ordained minister by the state and a lecturer at our Bible school, but was not involved in any form of pastoral work.” (2)

When the truth came to light RHB became to change his rhetoric regarding his past “ministry” in South Africa. Today his statement is as follows:

In 1983 they pioneered a church in the Northeastern Cape and pastured there for two years. After that, Rodney taught classes in a leading Bible School for another two years. (3)

Like most leaders in the charismatic movement when challenged with an uncomfortable truth, he simply ignores all inquires and moves on.

At some point in the mid 1990’s Rodney began to refer to himself as “Dr.” Rodney Howard-Browne. This was also a complete fabrication. To begin with there is no evidence that Mr. Browne ever graduated from an undergraduate college, nor is there any proof that he earned a Master’s degree and then went on to speed two or three years earning his doctorate. The fact is that he obtained his degree from a diploma mill:

Howard-Browne also claimed a “doctorate of ministry degree” from an obscure San Jacinto, California correspondence institution called “The School of Bible Theology.” A state Department of Education employee contacted likened the tiny school, which bills itself as “The Seminary to the World” and has no faculty, to a “diploma mill. (4)

Why does this matter? It points to his willingness to deceive people by attempting to give himself a veneer of theological education and training which he simply does not have. Personally, I have always been amazed at how often people like the deceased Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, and RHB have always discounted seminary educations (since they had/have none), yet, they all accept the title “Dr.” in front of their names and are always referred to as “Dr.” in conferences, books and televised programs. RHB wrote about knowing a man who was formerly “anointed” until he attended seminary, then, according to RHB, he graduated totally bereft of any “anointing” (SEE “The Apostles Are Coming”).

As a personal eyewitness I saw that Mr. Browne is in ministry to transfer as many dollars fro those in front of him as possible. In Toronto my wife and I personally witnessed RHB berate people who dared to get up and leave during his impassioned plea for money. He publicly ridiculed those who left the auditorium, it was a sad and pathetic scene. I bring this up because of the comments he made in the article on the “Coming Great Awakening.” I guess if I was in a court of law I would declare to the Judge that my remarks go to “character” (or lack there of).

Revival, Oh Really?

It goes beyond the scope of this small article to detail the history of revivalism in America but suffice it to say that Pentecostalism (and all its sign-gift offshoots) owes its very inception to the concept of spiritual revival beginning with the Azusa Street “revival” of 1906. From there Pentecostalism split apart and formed into several denominations. Approximately forty years later we encounter the Post WWII revival called “The New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR). The next eruption came in the form of Charismatic Renewal movement/revival where tongues, prophecy and other “signs and wonders” bled over into established mainstream denominations. The date given for this “revival” varies depending upon who you ask. Some say 1950, others 1960 in Van Nuys, CA and others look to 1967 an the formal start of the Roman Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement at the University of Notre Dame then moving over to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where I encountered it via the Word of God Community.

Nothing “revival-like” occurred between 1967 and 1994 until Mr. Browne popularized the alleged “new wine” of the Holy Spirit in the form of so-called holy laughter. This lasted for approximately eight years in full force and now it has pretty much petered out, leaving the masses of sign-seekers anxious and hungry for the next spiritual “high”.

What is important to understand is that Pentecostal/charismatic believers are hardwired into the belief that God sends revivals to the Church. The overall purpose of these revivals is to impart spiritual power to hungry people in order to help hasten the return of Jesus Christ. They base their belief on the following text:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3: 19-21

RHB is a product of charismania and knows which hot buttons to push and one of the major ones is “revival.” Obviously the “Gospel-giggles” was not the be-all and end-all consummation of the ages, ergo God must have something else in store for the Church. Since He (in some peoples deluded minds) used RHB before, He will no doubt use him again (RHB is banking on his past revival record to draw the crowds). So now we have RHB touting the “coming great awakening.” What does he base this on? Apart from President’s Bush’s non-binding statement in his own words he says:

It’s also very much needed. Although we have hundreds of thousands of churches in America and thousands of Christian radio and TV stations, America’s moral fabric is being torn apart–not just in the streets but also in the pulpits. People no longer have the fear of God, prayer and the Bible have been removed from our schools; the Ten Commandments have been removed from our courthouses and abortion, divorce, sexual perversion, sexual abuse and same-sex marriages are rampant. (5)

RHB cites the standard litany of woes our culture is facing as proof that America needs “revival.” As bad as the lack of morality is in America it is far worse in other nations, especially in Europe, yet for some reason RHB does not say anything about the need for revival in those nations. For example in the Netherlands prostitution is legal, homosexuality is totally accepted, and people come from all over the world to legally get “high” in Amsterdam because soft drug use is accepted. (6) Not to mention euthanasia and abortion as being perfectly visible “choices.” One might add the state of the Christian Church throughout Europe is atrocious. Rodney also seems to have forgotten that as bad and as rampant as sin is the grace of God does even more abound (see Romans 5:20).

As Christians we are to combat the decay around us by simply being who we are in Christ, i.e. salt (see Matt. 5:13) and light of the world (see Matt 5:14). This does not come about by a supernatural outpouring of power in a 3 day meeting. Christianity that impacts society comes about through the faithful preaching of Law & Gospel from pulpits. Societal change comes when God’s people after being equipped in Church go into the world and LIVE the Word the have received by the grace of God. The Church does not need “revival” we need faithful pastors and obedient congregations – it is just that simple.

It is important to ask the question of whether or not the very concept of revival is a biblical one. The word is not used in the New Testament at all and only four times in the Old in the form of “revive.” Some people mistakenly point to Peter’s preaching and the three thousand men that were brought to faith in Jesus Christ (see Acts 2:14) as “revival.” That was not revival at all! That was evangelism, those coming to Christ were not “revived” they were brought from spiritual death to newness of life in Christ Jesus. There is not one example of the Church being “revived” in the New Testament. In fact, the concept of “revival” does not even come into play in Church parlance until the mid 1700’s. For 1700 years the Church never considered such an event, it is very simply – an invention of man.

In the First Great Awakening what we saw were ministers, initially Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield (an associate of John Wesley) primarily preaching to Christians who had grown lax in the Christian walk. Upon hearing “law” being preached to them they became afraid and felt condemned, which is exactly what the preaching of “law” does, it shows us our failure in light of a perfectly holy and righteous God. However, preaching the “law” does not bring about repentance or salvation that comes through the proclaiming of God’s grace in Christ as evidence by the cross and His resurrection. The first great awakening devolved fairly rapidly into rampant emotionalism, pietistic experientialism (mainly due to Wesley, Whitfield, Samuel Davies and others) and ungodly enthusiasm. There were good things that also transpired during this time period as well. In the minds of many people who looked back at the Great Awakening, it seemed to them to be the pattern in which God “moved” to further His kingdom. So if there was a “first” awakening, then naturally there had to be a “second” awakening!

The Second Great Awakening which started around 1800 through the 1830’s was even more overrun by emotionalism, false doctrine and aberrant practices. The most recognizable name involved with the second awakening was Charles G. Finney, who was a total heretic and not a Christian. This second move of excess also helped give rise to Mormonism, Millerism (and later its offshoot the Jehovah’s Witnesses) and Seventh Day Adventism. The first awakening was primarily Calvinistic in theological tone, the second awakening was decidedly Arminian at best. The teachings of Finney have held sway on much of what is considered “evangelicalism” in America, I.e. decision theology, faith proceeded salvation, alter calls, etc…

The next “revival” was that of Azusa Street in 1906, which as I have written extensively about, was almost total chaos, occultism, excited ignorance and doctrinal error. Every other subsequent revival has spiraled down even farther into doctrinal darkness and bizarre practices (much of which can be laid at the feet of RHB for popularizing it and calling it the work of the Holy Spirit).

This meander through Church history brings us back to the present and Browne’s declaration of the next “great awakening.” He goes on to say in his article:

We don’t need more life coaches and success motivators, running the same circuits, with messages that all sound exactly the same. We don’t need more people who treat ministry as a moneymaking business, publishing books that have a form of godliness but no power in them, and producing albums with wishy-washy lyrics void of the anointing. (7)

Well I have to agree with Browne there, he is right we do not need any of the above. However, he is more than a little disingenuous when he makes his statement considering he is friends with Paula White (a life coach), Joyce Meyer (a success motivator) and of course Joel Osteen. He is guilty of treating ministry as a moneymaking venture. RHB has incorporated yet another non-profit corporation, this one is called “Revival Ministries International,” he has another organization called “River Bible Institute” his own non-accredited “Bible school, and he also has “The River Church,” where he is the senior pastor (how he can be a pastor and travel weekly is beyond me). He is currently going around America on what he is calling his “2007 Great Awakening Tour,” (8) and it is evident to me that RHB is not missing any chances to wrest a dollar from the unwary sign-seeker!

RHB tells us what to expect during this next great move of the Spirit:

The move of the Spirit in and through every believer, will result in signs and wonders taking place outside of the four walls of the church…God’s power will be demonstrated in all these places, resulting in mass conversions and whole regions begin shaken by the power of God!…The economy will be impacted; the educational system and the media will be transformed. (9)

Does he base any of his statements on the Bible? No, he does not cite any text to buttress his argument for this alleged “great awakening.” The reason why he does not is simple, he CANNOT. There is absolutely not a shred of scripture to back up any of his assertions.

The Biblical Witness of the “End Times”

I have returned to a very simple worldview, if someone is proclaiming anything that is not founded within the context of the Holy Scriptures, then I personally do not care what is said by that individual, period. Here is the biblical picture of what the “last days” (keep in mind these last days have been going on for 2,000 years):

“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come…For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive , but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.   Matthew 24:4-25

Just consider how Jesus responds to His disciples asking Him about the consummation of the ages. Our Master begins by saying (1) watch out that NO ONE deceive you. Deceive us how? (2) By coming in the name of Jesus, claiming to be Christ (or in charismatic extremist terms “I am Anointed” ) and WILL deceive many. Jesus goes on to say that in these very last of days that (3) MANY will turn away from the faith and hate each other. (4) MANY false prophets will appear and deceive MANY people. Due to all these things (5) the love of MOST will grow cold. He goes on to warn us that both false Christs and false prophets will appear and work GREAT SIGNS and MIRACLES to deceive even the elect if possible! He ends by saying “see, I have told you ahead of time.”

What is missing from Jesus’ comments? He is warning His followers to be on the alert and to watch out for the very real possibility of being deceived. He says just because people come using His name does not mean that He sent them and the undiscerning (many people) will be deceived by these frauds. Jesus does not say “oh there will be great revivals and nations will be swept into My kingdom.” On the contrary, He says that MANY will become apostate and defect from biblical Christianity. Bill Hamon wrote in the 1980’s that “God” showed him that God was releasing 10,000 prophets into the earth. (10) Bookstores are filled with books by self-proclaimed prophets and alleged “anointed” ones. Sounds like a fulfillment of “Many false prophets” deceiving MANY. He closes by warning that some of these false Christs and false prophets will work lying signs and wonders of such a compelling nature that if it were possible they could mislead even the elect of God! Compare the words of Jesus with those of RHB. RHB contradicts everything Jesus plainly said about the end times, now who will you believe?

What about the Holy Spirit’s warning through Paul to the Thessalonians?

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Paul does not seem to be proclaiming revival or great awakening either in the last of days. He warns Timothy of the following:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

But mark this — in the last days there will be great times of mass conversions, all of God’s people working signs and wonders so much so that the government and media will be transformed! No, we read exactly the opposite. I really have to wonder what translation of the Bible RHB and his followers are reading.

Near the end of his ministry the Apostle Peter warns his reads (and us) about what to be on guard against:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3

This has ever been true, but how much truer it seems in our day! False teachers proclaiming every brand of heresy are on television, holding conferences, traveling the globe (in their private jets). Literally millions of people gladly follow these liars. How many people have been exploited by the likes of Mary K. Baxter, Jesse Duplantis, Cho Thomas and others regarding their alleged trips to heaven and hell? Countless others build their SINistries on personal encounters with Jesus (Kenneth E. Hagin) or meeting with angels (Roland Buck, Cindy Jacobs, etc.). Why doesn’t Peter tell us of the coming great wave of power and glory? Why is he so negative? I don’t see any of these statements as either positive or negative, they are simply statements of truth that we would do well to listen to. There are many other verses I could cite that deal with the dangers from false apostles and false brethren, but I think I have cited enough to demonstrate that what Mr. Browne is proclaiming is a lie.

Please understand I am not some doom-and-gloom person, I have read the end of the Book and Jesus Christ returns and every knee bows to Him and He established everlasting righteousness on the earth and we His people are with Him! I am in total agreement with all legitimate forms of evangelism where God’s Word is accurately presented and the Holy Spirit is allowed to draw whom He will to faith. But do not be deceived by anyone who proclaims some tremendous “move” of the Spirit ( always just on the horizon) and cities and countries being swept into the kingdom of God by last day/end time super anointed spiritual warriors. Anyone who teaches such things is at best biblically ignorant and at worst is a person saying what he or she knows will “sell” even through they don’t believe it themselves.

Make no mistake Rodney Howard-Browne is that type of calculating individual who is simply pandering something he knows will not come to pass, but he is willing to make money from God’s gullible saints who are looking for something beyond Word and sacrament.  ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. Date obtained from an Ives Brault article for PFO. This article is located at : http://www.pfo.org/intoxic.htm

2. Ibid

3. Obtained from RHB’s officla website http://www.revival.com/www/r.aspx?p=54.

4. Obtained from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/lewd.html.

5. Charisma, July 2007, The Coming Great Awakening p. 53

6. “Soft-drugs” are not considered to be a problem by the Dutch this includes marijuana hashish, and basically anything other than heroin and cocaine.

7. Charisma, July 2007, The Coming Great Awakening p. 53 Underlining added for emphasis.

8. All of these organization are cited on his official website found at http://www.revival.com Charisma, July 2007, The Coming Great Awakening p. 55.

9. Charisma, July 2007, the Coming Great Awakening, 0p. 55.

10. Hamon, Bill

The very corpulent king of “gospel giggles” is smiling all the way to the bank.

As he preached about hell and eternal damnation the people laughed and RHB called it “revival.”

Admittedly, Browne is not the “great apostasy” but he is indicative of it.

 





The “New Wine” Hangover

24 08 2009

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

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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!

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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! ♦

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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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