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.

 








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